The peace that Earth's moon had always had was gone now, and had been since the day that a pair of unlucky astronauts had released Rita Repulsa and Kelsi Syrok, two of the most powerful beings of evil in the known universe, from their confinement. They had taken over a hidden palace on the satellite, and were now planning their second attack on the Power Rangers.
"This has got to be good!" Kelsi declared, waving a hand over her Mirror of Shadows to show the Rangers in their preferred hangout, the Angel Grove Youth Center. "We're going to have to hit them with something really powerful, no more of sending that brother of mine down to fight them!"
Goldar growled at her insinuation, but didn't have the nerve to say anything more to her. Rita ignored her soldier; her full attention was on her partner. "What have you got in mind, Kelsi? And I didn't notice that you did that much better against those kids!"
Kelsi's only reply was to gaze at the Mirror for a few moments, then she shook her head sharply, not letting any of her companions see the shadow that flared in her eyes briefly. "We'll draw them out. Send the Putties here," she gestured to a spot just outside of Angel Grove. "The Rangers will come to investigate, then I can sweep in with another patrol and we'll catch them in a squeeze play. They won't be able to get away, and then we'll have them!" she laughed softly at the thought of it.
"Excellent!" Rita nodded. "Goldar, Finster, prepare the Putties!" she commanded, wondering for a moment. She thought she had seen something in Kelsi's eyes as she had watched the Rangers, something almost soft and tender. She knew better, though. KKelsi's almost as evil as I am! She's probably just sickened to see those Rangers being romantic with each other!
As Rita rushed to scream at Finster for not molding the Putty clay fast enough, Kelsi's eyes turned to the stars for a moment. They reminded her so much of. . .she stopped herself in mid-thought. I can't afford that now. I've got too much to do. But I do miss you, my love. I miss you more than words can say.
She turned back to the palace, and set her shoulders. Kelsi, Grand High Sorceress of Evil, had work to do.
It was a beautiful day in Angel Grove, in sharp contrast to the evil plans being made on the moon. In the Youth Center, seven young people were working out as they always did. These days, however, there was a slight more of an edge to it. As if they weren't doing it just for fun or to be healthy or anything like that anymore. As if they had a purpose, as if they had a true reason.
And they did. They had more of a reason than just about anyone else in Angel Grove. Their reason was simple: they were the Power Rangers. Jason, Zack, Kim, Billy, Trini, Tommy, Lindsey, and Netis were the Red, Black, Pink, Blue, Yellow, Green, Purple, and White Rangers.
Billy wasn't with them just at the moment, however. Jason and Zack were working out on the mats, while Trini was teaching Lindsey and Netis the basics of kung-fu. Tommy and Kim were sitting at a table, and anyone who looked at them could easily figure out that battle was just about the last thing on their minds.
"Check it out," Netis giggled a little, looking up from the lesson to see the Pink and Green Rangers staring into each other's eyes, completely ignoring everything around them. "I wonder if they'd notice a Putty attack if it happened right now?"
"Let's hope it doesn't," Lindsey shook her head. "But I seriously doubt they would!" she added at the look the White Ranger shot her. "Your brother's had it bad for Kim since you guys got here, Netis!"
Trini cleared her throat a little, drawing them back to the matters at hand before things got too distracting. Her own attention was torn a moment later, however, when Billy walked into the Youth Center, grinning wildly at them all.
"Yo, Billy!" Zack waved to his friend as they all stopped, even Tommy and Kim, and headed over to him. "My main brain, what's up?"
The Blue Ranger blushed a little at all the attention; he had never really been comfortable in crowds. "Well, I do have some exciting news to disseminate!"
"What is it?" Trini asked, smiling warmly at him. Lindsey, Netis, and Kim all exchanged knowing glances as Billy led them back to the locker he habitually used, spouting his usual 'techno-babble' as it was lovingly referred to by them all.
"I've created a narrow beam transmission module that will allow wave function over an extended interval," he told them, glancing back over his shoulder at their confused faces. "Well? Aren't you all excited?"
Zack glanced around at the others. "I will be just as soon as I figure out what you said."
Trini grinned and explained, "He's created a communications device using microwaves!"
"Affirmative!" Billy nodded, reaching into the locker to pull out several small watch-like things he distributed among the eight of them. Kim squealed to see they were color coded to their Ranger uniforms, and strapped her pink one on happily. "You see, we now have connection with Zordon and Alpha in the Command Center."
Lindsey giggled, "Morphinomenial!" the strange word received looks of approval, once they thought about it.
"They respond to tactile pressure followed by auditory stimulus," Billy told them. Trini quickly jumped to translate.
"So you're saying that we just touch and talk?" she asked, tapping her communicator as she did so. The others followed suit, then Billy stood there alone in surprise as they vanished in glittering columns of their Ranger colors. Billy blinked for a moment.
"The neutrino power grid must have cross-molecuerized," he muttered, touching his own device and vanishing in a bolt of blue. He found himself appearing at the Command Center, on top of all the others as they tried to disentangle themselves.
Alpha started at them for a few moments, surprised by their sudden appearance in the Command Center, then greeted them in what he considered to be typical Earth-fashion. "Welcome homeboys, homegirls! What brings you to the hood?"
Zack looked at the robot and grinned. "Too much TV!"
As everyone organized themselves, Zordon appeared in his time warp. I commend your latest invention, Billy! their mentor declared. You've not only created a communications device, but you've also tapped into the Command Center's teleportation unit. With proper adjustments, it will allow you to teleport here in an emergency. But until Alpha can reprogram it, it will serve as a two way communications link between the Command Center and each other from wherever you are.
Billy handed his communicator to Alpha, watching in semi-amusement as the little droid attempt to fix it and sent himself careening across the Command Center! Oh, yes, being a Power Ranger had some definite perks to it!
Rita's wild laughter issued. "Those Power Rangers are gonna wish they'd never tangled with me! I'll trap them in a time warp the same way I did Zordon, and when I'm through, the world is going to be mine!"
Kelsi raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me, partner? What was that you were just saying?"
The evil sorceress looked back at her and winced. "I've had Baboo build a time device that's going to trap the Power Rangers once you've got them captured. It will get rid of them completely, and then the world will be. ..," she paused only for a heartbeat. "Ours!"
"Better," Kelsi nodded. "Much better. Finster, how are the Putties coming along?"
"Almost done, your Evilness!" the small craftsman told her. "We'll have a full army done up in no time!"
Kelsi nodded, wincing as Rita screeched from behind her. "Baboo, is the time device ready or have you messed it up!?" she turned to see what the answer would be; this did sort of intrigue her.
"I managed to get it ready, even though Lunkhead here slowed me down!" the thin blue creature declared, whapping Squatt on the head. Rita took a look at the device, and nodded, pleased.
"Now that looks okay!" she declared. It wasn't often she actually got good work out of her minions!
Baboo started to explain what it would do. "It'll fly down to Earth. .."
Squatt interrupted. "And wherever it lands, it'll open up a hole in time!"
"Queen Kelsi will trap them in the hole and they'll be gone forever!" Baboo finished triumphantly. Rita smiled wickedly, and turned to her partner.
"You can do this, can't you?" she said almost sneeringly. "Or are the Rangers too much for you, partner?"
Kelsi's eyes flashed. "Watch what you say, Rita," she warned. "Watch what you say."
Rita just laughed as she swept away. It wasn't often she got a chance to needle her partner. "All right, salad-brains!" she ordered. "It's time to launch the time-device! I want the Power Rangers gone!"
"So you want me to launch it?" Baboo glanced at her for confirmation, and Rita shrieked her response. "Of course, my queen! I just have to pull this lever!" as the little device began to soar down to Earth, the evil crew watched it's progress carefully.
"Where is that thing?" Rita's gaze swept the planet with her RepulsaScope. "I can't wait to trap those Power Geeks in my time warp!"
Down in Angel Grove, the small device swept through town causing a major panic as it brushed by everyone and everything in it's path. Through the business district, the warehouse section, and the residential region, it drew people to follow it until it finally came to rest in the park. The small cone at the head of it opened up, and a multi-colored stream of light emerged, tearing open a hole in front of them. This did not go unnoticed by the Command Center, either.
"Extreme audio oscillation!" Billy winced and covered his ears, a motion copied by the other Rangers. "What does it indicate?"
"What is that?" "What's the noise?" Jason and Tommy wondered in unison.
It is Rita and Kelsi, Zordon informed them. She's sent a device to open a time trap, and the Putty Patrol is gathering outside of town. Find out what they are up to while I analyze the time device.
"We're out of here," Jason declared as the eight of them dissolved into pure energy and teleported to the cliffside area where the Putties were milling around. He pulled the others close together and whispered, "Kim, Trini, Zack, the four of us will stay here and keep an eye on these guys. Billy, Tommy, Lindsey, Netis, you guys circle around from behind and see if there's any more of them. Got it?"
Tommy nodded, it was understood he was the unofficial second in command of the group anyway, and would be in charge of the second half of the Rangers. "Let's do it," he grinned, leading his team off to the side. Jason and the others turned back to the putties, and Kim whispered softly, "I wonder what they're up to?"
"Who knows?" Trini shrugged, refusing to glance up to the cliffs over them. She had managed to deal with her fear of heights before they'd become Rangers, but she still didn't like being up too high. "Let's just hope they don't find us!"
Zack shrugged. "No way! This is perfect camouflage!"
The Yellow Ranger glanced behind her at a slight sound, and paled. "It was, about ten seconds ago!" she yelped, and everyone turned to see another group of Putties coming up from behind!
"We gotta morph!" Kim shouted as they tried to avoid the clay fighters. Jason shook his head, waving as they reached for their morphers.
"No, Zordon said we've got to handle things for ourselves before we use our powers," he reminded them. "Spread out, we can take these guys!"
"Yeah!" the four of them headed out, slamming into the Putties as powerfully as they could. This was going to be one long fight, they sensed.
As the other four Rangers made their way around the base of the escarpment, Tommy glanced from side to side nervously. There was something in the air here that he really didn't like, but he couldn't put his finger on it.
"You're nervous on something," Netis whispered. She was able to see his thoughts almost, he thought at times, she knew him so well. He just nodded. "What's up, big brother? Talk to me!"
"I wish I could say what it was," he peered around a rock to see nothing there. "But I do not like what's going on here. It's almost like this is a trap of some kind, and I don't like walking into traps."
Laughter stopped the four of them in their tracks. "What a coincidence, Green Ranger!" they looked up to see Kelsi sitting on a rock ahead them as if it were a throne, Goldar by her side and a swarm of Putties around them both. "I just happen to love setting them! Attack them, my Putties!"
The clay creatures were all over the four Rangers in seconds, causing them to snap into action. Tommy and Netis were slamming into the Putties at top speed, while Lindsey and Billy dodged, whirled, and used what training they had to it's best advantage. Things were more or less even, despite the fact the Rangers were unmorphed and outnumbered, until they heard Kelsi's lazy voice speaking, "Goldar, my dear brother, go down and beat some sense into these humans, would you?"
A golden figure was down there a second later, slamming into the Rangers with all the strength and speed he possessed. "You have only to ask, my sister!" he howled. He had Tommy on his back, Netis in the grip of two Putties, and Lindsey doubled over in pain within the space of six heartbeats.
Billy backed away from Goldar, staring at him with courage in those blue-green eyes. "Leave my friends alone!" he declared. "Get off our planet!"
The wicked warrior only laughed, his huge sword at the ready as he approached the Blue Ranger, who was fumbling for his morpher. "I don't think so!" his sword raised up and started to come down. ..
"Goldar!" Kelsi's voice held a sudden tinge of wonder and hope, two emotions he couldn't remember hearing in her voice before. "Stop!"
He looked back at her. "What are you talking about!? I'm going to finish him off, then destroy his friends!"
Kelsi growled as she backhanded him away. "I said to stop! You're not going to tell me you're disobeying, are you?!"
He scuttled away, and she ignored them, her attention all taken up with Billy. The Blue Ranger tried to step away, until she placed a hand firmly on his shoulder, holding him in place. "Beloved?" she whispered. "Is that you?"
"And another one bites the dust!" Zack grinned as he finished off the last Putty. "Or should that be clay?"
Jason chuckled, then raised his head suddenly as he heard the sounds of fighting coming from the other side of the escarpment. "The others are in trouble, let's get moving," he declared, already running as fast as he could. Whatever they expected to find, it was not what they saw as they rounded the bend and saw their friends.
Tommy was fighting it out with Goldar. Lindsey had just pulled Netis away from some Putties, and the White and Purple Rangers were doing their level best to fight the creatures off together. Billy was going up against Kelsi.
No, he wasn't! The Rangers had to stop and stare as they got a good look at what was going on there. Kelsi was looking deeply into Billy's eyes, and her own shone with a clear, almost wondering light that they had never imagined in the short time that they had been fighting her they would see: a light of love.
"Are you him?" she whispered, her grip on Billy preventing him from leaving. "Are you my love?"
Billy was blushing a deep red at that, and shook his head. "I regret to inform you I have no conception of what you are speaking of!"
"Hey!" Jason's voice was sharp. "Leave my friend alone!"
The evil queen barely glanced up at the Red Ranger, pulling Billy closer to her. "It's me, Kelsi," she whispered. "Don't you remember me? What's happened to your eyes?"
Billy was as red as Jason by then, wishing that Alpha had finished with the communicators by now, and was very grateful to see the Red Ranger coming up, knocking Kelsi to one side. So taken off guard was she that she easily fell. "Didn't you hear me, Kelsi?" he growled. "I said to leave him alone!"
Her eyes flared with hatred. "He is my love! He has the face of my true love, gone these two hundred millennia! He must be him! Do not dare to keep us apart when I come again, Rangers! And I will come again!" Kelsi looked at Billy. "And we will be together, my love."
In a column of black fire she vanished, taking Goldar and all the Putties still there with her. Everyone stared at Billy, who looked back at them. "What?" he asked finally.
"What happened?!" Rita's voice was harsh as Kelsi appeared back the palace, her brother in tow. "What is wrong with you, Kelsi? You were supposed to lure the Rangers into my time hole, now that blasted Zordon has sealed it off! Our chance to trap them is gone! What do you think you're doing!?"
Kelsi didn't pay the slightest bit of attention to her partner as she marched by her and headed to her own chambers. Rita whirled on Goldar as the sound of Kelsi's door slamming echoed throughout the palace. "What is her problem!?"
"She was talking about the Blue Ranger being her 'love'," Goldar shrugged. "I didn't even know Kelsi had a love!"
Rita's eyes went wide. "A love? Her? That cold-hearted snake? She's never been in love, not since I met her!"
A memory flickered in the back of Goldar's mind, and he spoke without thinking. "She did have a boyfriend when we were growing up, now that I think about it. It's been so long, I'd forgotten!"
His mistress stared at him. "What are you talking about? Speak to me, Goldar!"
"It was a very long time ago," Goldar dredged the memories from his past. "When Kelsi and I lived back on Kyros, our home planet. A new couple had just moved in next door to us, and they had a son. Kelsi and he grew very close, I used to tease them that they would get married someday. The two of them vanished together when they were about thirteen, and no one saw Kelsi for centuries after that, and when they did, she was alone. Someone asked her once what happened to the other boy. . ." he winced a little.
"Well?" Rita growled. "What happened?"
Goldar did something he seldom did. He looked into Rita's mad eyes. "She destroyed him. Completely. Utterly. There wasn't even a trace of his soul left."
Rita gulped, then glanced down to Kelsi's room. Whatever was with her partner, she was going to leave her to deal with it on her own. It seemed a little too dangerous to ask about.
Kelsi collapsed on the bed and gestured briefly, staring at the image that the motion presented. Anyone who knew Billy would recognize the man standing next to her, though why his eyes looked star-spangled would've confused them. She gazed deeply at it, and sighed.
"My dearest, dearest love," she whispered. "It has been so long. So very long since last we were together. And now you have returned to me. I don't know what's happened to you, but we will be together again. I will bring up your memories and restore you to your full and evil self."
She closed her eyes, letting her mind flow back thousands upon thousands of years, to her long-gone youth. The literal 'boy next door', Zarok, and she had run off together when they were thirteen years of age. They had apprenticed themselves to thieves in the great city of Shanshora, and had quickly risen up in the thieves' guild. But both of them had wanted more than that, and as the years went by, they realized what they wanted lay not in thievery and petty crime, but in the larger world of intergalactic evil.
Leaving the thieves' guild, they had traveled to the realm of Ivan Ooze, and had both been educated in the ways and means of dark and twisted magic. There had their full potential been tapped at last, and they had carved out an empire of their own, as Master Zarok and Queen Kelsi. They had been together, they were in love, and they had thought it would last forever.
Until another powerful sorcerer by the name of Selios had intruded into their world and attacked when they least expected it. Even more evil than they, he had slaughtered Zarok and badly wounded Kelsi. Only by trickery had she managed to overcome Selios and destroy him. In mourning she had abandoned her empire and set out on a quest to find the soul of her beloved.
She had forgotten how long she had been searching for him, how long that she had been traveling. When she had teamed up with Rita, she had been admitting failure. All she wanted was just for the pain in her heart to stop. And as she got back into the swing of conquering worlds, it had. Either stopped, or she had stopped noticing it, at least.
Until in the face of an enemy she had seen the face of her beloved, and all that old pain had resurfaced, pain and love and longing. She sighed, gesturing again and wiping away the image. She pulled the Mirror of Shadows out, and whispered, "William Cranston. The Blue Power Ranger."
The Mirror went black for a moment, then faded to gray. She growled to herself. The only place that her Mirror couldn't show was the Command Center itself. Zordon was probably telling him about his real self, and giving it the worst possible outlook. She sighed again. "You can't stay in there forever, sweet one. And when you emerge, I will have you as my own, now and forever, my beloved Lord of Evil, Master of Supreme Darkness, Lord and Master Zarok."
Her eyes hardened briefly. "No matter what I have to do."
"Zordon, what was all that with Kelsi about?" Jason asked when the eight of them had teleported back to the Command Center. "She was talking about Billy like she was in love with him!"
An old legend of Kelsi, of the time before she joined Rita, speaks of a Master Zarok that she was wed to. Few know of it, and she destroys those who do that she can. She does not like being reminded of it, I believe, as Zarok was killed many thousands of years ago. Zordon told them. It is not unlikely that Billy resembles him to such a degree that she believes he is her old love reborn.
Kim shivered. "I didn't know the bad guys could love!"
"It looks like they can," Tommy stated. "We're going to have to keep a good eye on you, Billy."
The Blue Ranger blushed furiously; it seemed that was all he'd been doing since Kelsi had seen him. "I apologize in advance for any inconvenience I might cause the team. I had no idea I bore any resemblance to anyone so. . .," even his words failed him now.
Zordon stepped in, figuratively speaking. It is not your fault, Billy. We will keep you protected until such a time as Kelsi realizes you are not Zarok.
He bit his lip a little at that. "Zordon," he said. "Are you quite certain that I am not? In the realm of reincarnation, a field I confess I am unfamiliar with, would it not be possible?"
The ancient wizard frowned. I do not believe you are, Billy, but I can do something that will determine if you are Zarok, or rather, were.
"Please," the other Rangers had fallen back by now, and were just watching as this played out before them. Zordon stared hard at Billy, then a column of white light shone on the Blue Ranger. He stood there unmoving for a moment, then as the light faded, he blinked. "When will you know the results?" he asked finally.
Immediately, Zordon declared. And you will all be happy to know that Billy is not, nor has ever been, Zarok. His soul is clean, untainted by any hint of evil. You are not the one whom Kelsi seeks.
Billy had never been more relieved in his life.
The Rangers teleported near the Youth Center once Zordon had given Billy his clean bill of health, and went inside, trying to keep their minds off just what had happened. Billy and Lindsey started their karate lessons with Jason again, while the others sat down and watched, talking quietly among themselves.
"I can't believe Kelsi was ever actually in love with someone," Netis whispered under her breath. "Just the thought of it makes me sick!"
"What makes me sick is that she's after Billy," Trini muttered. "How could someone like her want to put those filthy hands all over him?"
Kim and Netis exchanged glances at the heat in their friend's voice. They weren't going to say anything about this. There were things you just didn't talk about, and they both knew that. "She's not going to get him," Kim said firmly. "We'll all see to that."
Tommy and Zack both nodded, the last thing that any of them wanted was to see their gentle friend in the clutches of. ..."Oh, crap!" Kim whispered suddenly. "Look! It's her!"
With the last fading traces of her teleportation fading, Kelsi stood in the Youth Center, glancing around curiously. "So this is what a human's place of amusement looks like," she said casually. "What a dump. Well, I'm here to take you away from all this, my dearest love!"
Her eyes were all on Billy as she said that, ignoring the screeches and screams of people running this way and that. By herself, Kelsi didn't look so scary. It was the fact that she was glowing a harsh black and was surrounded by Putties that was terrifying people.
"Get away from me!" Billy was backing away as fast as he could, wanting to put distance between them. She walked through tables and people like they weren't even there, and pinned him casually against a wall. "Zordon scanned me! I'm not him! I'm not Zarok!"
Her eyes pulsed red. "I don't care what that head in a water cooler said! You are my Zarok!" quicker than he might have believed possible if he hadn't seen it, she backhanded Jason, who was coming up behind her trying to save his friend, and with her free hand seized Billy by the arm. "And I will make you Zarok if you are not," she whispered. "Time to go home, my love."
In a glowing bolt of lightning, the two of them vanished along with the Putties. Lindsey rushed over to Jason, helping him up. "She took him!" their leader growled. "Right in front of me, and there was nothing I could do!"
Tommy was by his friend's side just then. "Exactly. She struck too fast for us, and she's got him. But we're going to get him back before she can do anything to him. You got that, Jase?"
Jason's entire face hardened, and Lindsey almost stepped back. She'd seen this look on his face a few times, but far more often since they'd become Rangers. She knew what it meant. "We're going to get him back," Jason said firmly. "And anything she does to him, I'm going to pay back to her, tenfold."
"Well, now, what do we have here?" Rita stared hungrily at the terrified young man chained to the wall in her dungeon. She smiled. "I believe it's a Power Ranger!"
Billy jerked away from her. "Keep away from me!" he snapped. He was almost grateful to see Kelsi step gracefully into the cell, clad in a very short outfit.
"Rita, leave him be," she ordered. "He either carries the soul of my love, or soon will believe he does!"
The sorceress stared at her partner, eyes wide in shock. "Kelsi, speak plainly!"
"Just get out of here, Rita," Kelsi ordered. "And don't you come back in here unless I say you can!"
In a huff, Rita flounced her way out of the cell, clanging the door shut behind her. Kelsi turned to her prisoner, a soft smile on her lips as she did so. "Well, now, this is all cozy, isn't it, my love?"
"I am not your love!" Billy protested. "Can you not understand this?"
Kelsi chuckled. "We shall see," she materialized her staff in her hands and pointed it at the captive Ranger. "Say good-bye to your old self, Ranger, and meet your new and improved version!"
Light washed over Billy from the staff, and he screamed as pain racked his entire body. As Kelsi lifted the staff and ended the spell, she smiled again, watching eagerly to see if it had worked.
Billy lifted his head and smiled. His eyes had changed, from their warm blue, to a cold black. Kelsi gazed into those eyes, and felt herself being washed in the depths of space. She laughed softly. "And what is so funny, my love?" he asked, his voice deep and echoing.
"You're back!" Kelsi's voice held purest joy. "You're back, my love!" the spell she had used had infused Billy with the eyes and memory of her beloved. As far as he was concerned, he was Zarok!
"Indeed," Zarok nodded. "And never again shall we be parted."
With a mere flexing of muscle, he had snapped the chains that held him to the wall, and gathered Kelsi into his arms. "Come. We shall be wed again, my dearest, and then we shall see to the addition of this world to our empire."
"Oh, yes," Kelsi leaned against him, feeling a peace she hadn't known in a long time. "Oh, yes, indeed."
"How fast can we get up there, Zordon?" Jason asked harshly. "I want to get Billy out of there before she can do anything to him!"
Kelsi has placed a shield about the moon palace that we cannot penetrate; blocking teleportation to and from it, Zordon told them sadly. We will have to wait until they emerge.
"No way!" Jason growled. "By then, she'll have him under her spell!"
Zordon's eyes pinned the Red Ranger. Jason, there is no other way.
Trini was on the computers already. "I'm looking for a way through the shield now, Jason," she reported. "I'm not as good as Billy at this, but I think I should be able to figure it out."
Lindsey came over and started helping her. "We'll get him out of there," she glanced back at Jason and promised. "We don't leave our own."
The Rangers were pacing back and forth while Lindsey and Trini did their best to punch through the shield. The Purple Ranger tossed her hair back out of her eyes and sighed. "This is tough," she groaned, stretching. She came to attention suddenly as the alarms began blaring. "This is not what we need."
Rangers, Kelsi and Billy have appeared in the park, Zordon told them. Trini and Jason were both jumping for the Viewing Globe as the scene appeared there. Trini almost fainted at the sight of Billy with glowing black eyes and clad in a flowing black robe.
"What has she done to him?" her voice was choked with emotion. "Zordon?"
She has cast a spell upon him that makes him believe he is Zarok, her ancient mate, Zordon's voice was stern. It will not be an easy spell to break, Rangers, but true love and true friendship may be just what it takes.
Jason and Trini looked firmly at each other. Jason had only three words to say.
"It's morphin' time!"
"And now to make this world our own," Zarok said, stroking Kelsi's hair delicately. "Our own little private place to play."
The sorceress snuggled her head against his shoulder; the two of them were once again married. Rita had performed the ceremony binding them for all time before they had come to Earth. In celebration, they were going to be conquering Angel Grove.
"Now, just where to begin," she wondered, glancing around. "This park is so drab. We need to improve it, my sweet."
Zarok nodded. "I trust to your skills, Kelsi," he declared. She smiled and waved her wand, turning a full half mile of the place brown and gray. "Excellent!" he congratulated her on the withering. "Much better!"
"Billy!" they both turned to see the Power Rangers standing there. "Billy, get away from her!" the Red Ranger cried out. "You don't know what you're doing!"
Zarok raised an eyebrow. "Who is Billy? I am Zarok, Master of Darkness."
The Pink Ranger stepped up. "You're not!" she shouted harshly. "You're Billy Cranston! The Blue Ranger! Our friend!"
"I have no friends," he stated. "I do not know this 'Billy' you speak of, but if you are the Power Rangers, then you are my enemies, and I will destroy you."
Kelsi laughed. "There is no Billy Cranston, Rangers!" she mocked. "There is only Zarok!"
"No!" Lindsey almost shrieked the word out. "You can't have him, he's our friend!"
The sorceress ran her fingers through Zarok's hair. "Are you their friend, my dearest?"
"No!" the mockery of her mate growled. "I am Zarok!" as he turned to kiss Kelsi, a low hiss sounded, and they both looked up to see the Yellow Ranger coming towards them.
"Billy," Trini removed her helmet and stared at them with her large eyes. "Billy, you are my friend, and more than my friend. We've known each other all our lives. We literally knew each other when we were in diapers. You can't throw all of that away for some witch who put a spell on you!"
Zarok blinked, and Kelsi frowned to see a hint of blue shining in his eyes for a moment. "You are Zarok!" she snapped. "You are my husband and my love, we are together at last! We've been searching for each other for eons, and have only now found each other!"
The blue faded, but the Rangers weren't going to be stopped by this. Jason tore his own helmet off and held his hand out to the enspelled Ranger. "Billy, you're our friend. We need you. We care about you. Kelsi doesn't; all she wants is just a fake, a copy of someone who's been dead for longer than you can imagine."
Zarok trembled, until Kelsi took his hands and kissed him deeply. "You are Zarok!" she insisted, a thread of fear in her voice. "Nothing they do can take that from you! You're him! You have his face, you have his memories, what more do you need?"
"How about a real soul?" Trini snapped. "You know this isn't Zarok, and you made him into a copy anyway. You couldn't leave him be and accept that your husband is gone!"
Kelsi snarled, her staff appearing in her hand. "Don't you ever say that again!" she snapped, transforming it into a sword and slashing at the Yellow Ranger. "Don't you ever tell me he's gone! He's not! I brought him back! He's never going to leave me again!"
Trini dodged back, trying to keep away from the sword as she slipped her helmet back on. As quick as she was, though, Kelsi was quicker, tripping her up and holding the sword to her throat. "You're going to pay for what you said," the sorceress actually had tears in her eyes. "He's not gone! He'll never be gone! Ever!"
"But he is," it wasn't Trini or Jason or any of the Rangers who had come to rescue Billy who spoke. Everyone turned to see Billy, not Zarok, standing there. The black cloak was flung to the side, revealing Billy in his usual overalls and with those warm blue eyes showing. "He is dead, Kelsi, and you must accept this. I am not he, and can never be."
She stood there, her eyes moist suddenly with tears. "No," she whispered. "Please, no."
Billy walked over to her and gently pushed the sword from Trini's throat. "Leave here, Kelsi," he spoke firmly. "You've done enough today."
Her sword changed back into the staff, and she gazed deeply, hungrily, into Billy's eyes, searching for some sign, some hint that he was indeed her love somehow.
She found nothing. Slowly, Kelsi swallowed, and wiped the tears from her eyes. "One kiss?" she whispered softly. Billy shook his head, and her eyes suddenly blazed forth with a demonic fury. "Then so be it, Blue Ranger!" she growled. "But know this: we are wed now, by the laws of evil, but I shall never rest until I have destroyed all the Rangers, most especially you! And here is my parting gift to you!"
As Kelsi vanished, a dozen Putties appeared, running towards the Rangers as fast as they could. Billy stepped back, called out "Triceratops!" As one, the Power Rangers went into battle.
It only took a few moments for them to beat the Putties, and when the fight was over, Billy quietly turned to Trini, who had stayed by him the whole time. "Thanks," she said, not wanting to look at him. He gently turned her face to him, though.
"I offer you my thanks as well," he said. "It was seeing her fight you, and hearing what you said, that helped me break the spell. I couldn't have done it without you," he turned to the others. "Thank you. All of you."
Zack smiled and came over to give his friend a hug. "She was all wrong for you, Billy. Just all wrong!"
"Affirmative," Billy smiled, looking back at Trini. "Let's go home."
"Ohhhh, the poor little witch lost her husband again!" Rita teased as Kelsi reappeared in the palace. "All alone, Kelsi?"
"Shut up, Rita," her partner snapped as she walked by. "Just shut up."
Kelsi slammed herself into her bedroom and quite literally threw herself onto the bed, letting the tears flow freely now. "My darling, my love," she cried. "I swear, I will have my revenge on the Rangers, and most especially on the Blue Ranger for having the nerve to wear your face!"
Her eyes were quite literally glowing by now, with tears and with hatred. "Though it takes me a thousand years, I will have my revenge! I swear it!"
Outside, Rita moaned. "I'm getting a headache! Someone get me an aspirin!"
The next day at the Youth Center, the Rangers were treated to something they'd never thought they'd hear. Ernie walked by talking to a couple of young customers. "I heard it on the radio!" he told them. "Eight superheroes saved the park from this evil sorceress and these gray things! And they called themselves 'the Power Rangers'!"
"Speaking of which," Billy said as he sat with the others around their table, "our communicators are now fully functional thanks to Zordon and Alpha."
"Cool!" Kim grinned as she glanced at the pink device on her wrist.
Lindsey chuckled as she peered at her own purple on. "So we can teleport and communicate with the Command Center with these things?"
"Affirmative," Billy nodded, and Kim squealed with pleasure.
"Ohhh, this is sooo Nineties!" she giggled.
Netis nodded. "They're cool," she agreed. "And I get the feeling they're going to come in very handy in the future. Thanks, Billy."
The Blue Ranger smiled as he glanced to Trini. "You're welcome, Netis. Trini, Jason, I truly would like to express my gratitude at helping me yesterday."
"You're welcome, Billy," she smiled. "Glad I could help."
Jason nodded. "Same here. Trini did most of the real work, though."
"Don't sell yourself short," the Yellow Ranger said firmly. "We all had a hand in it."
"Affirmative," Billy agreed. "Seeing all of you there helped more than you'll ever know."
Tommy leaned a little closer to his friend. "But what about you being married to Kelsi now?" he whispered. "Did Zordon say anything about that?"
"Yes, he did," Billy nodded. "Since I wasn't technically myself when the marriage happened, it's null and void. No matter what Kelsi says."
"Good," Trini almost seemed to growl. "You can do a lot better than her, Billy!"
"Oh, like you?" Netis giggled as Trini blushed, and Billy turned almost as red as Jason's T-shirt. This had been one amazing day.
And things were only just beginning.