Six young people sat around a table at the Angel Grove Youth Center Gym and Juice Bar. To all outward appearances they were completely normal, but outward appearances can be, and in this case are, very deceiving. These six were the Power Rangers, sworn defenders of the Earth against Lord Zedd.
But one of them was failing in his powers. Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger, sat in between Jason Lee, the Red Ranger, and Kimberly Hart, the Pink Ranger, who was also his girlfriend. "When will the test results be in?" Kim whispered, making certain no one could hear them. Their identities were a closely guarded secret, one no one was permitted to know.
"Alpha said sometime today," Tommy told them. "I hope it's good news; I don't know what I'd do. . . if. . . ."
Jason stopped him. "Hey, you'll always be one of us, no matter what. Remember that."
"Yeah, man!" Zack Taylor, the Black Ranger, bopped him on the shoulder in his usual friendly manner. Trini Kwan, the Yellow Ranger, nodded.
"But don't talk like there's no hope," she advised. "Until Zordon says your powers can't be restored, there's always hope!"
"Affirmative, Trini," the sixth member of the group, Billy Cranston, the Blue Ranger, spoke in his usual scientific manner. "Don't give up hope just yet!"
Tommy grinned a little; these guys had a knack for cheering him up, no matter what. The conversation paused when Ernie, the owner of the Youth Center, came over to their table.
"Guys, could I talk to you for a second?" he looked a little troubled over something. Zack pulled a chair from an empty table over to them.
"Sure, what is it, Ernie?" he asked.
The portly man thought for a few moments before speaking. "Guys, my daughter Kami's moving in with me later today. She's been living with her mom all her life; but Jessie's about to go on tour for two years, and I'm the only family she has."
"Tour?" Kim asked.
"Yeah, she's an artist; she has to promote her latest line of paintings," Ernie explained. "Do you think you guys could show her around Angel Grove; help her fit in a little?"
Kim smiled. "No problem!" she bounced a little. "I love helping new people!"
Tommy chuckled, remembering how she had welcomed him to the neighborhood. "It'll be our pleasure, Ernie!"
"Thanks, guys!" Ernie got up. "She'll be here later today; I'll introduce you!"
Just as he was about to leave, the Rangers' communicators all beeped. Out of reflex, they all covered the devices. "Um, we'll be back later to meet her, Ernie, we've got to go do something."
Ernie nodded. "No problem, Jason!" he told them. "See you later!" he glanced after them, smiling a little, as the six of them ran out. _Nah,_ he thought as he always did. _I don't need to tell them I know. I get enough thrills just knowing that I know!_
As the Rangers appeared in the Command Center, the first thing they noticed, as always, was the huge head of their mentor Zordon, gazing down on them. Usually when they were called to their headquarters, he was concerned and worried over the latest attack of Lord Zedd upon Angel Grove. This time, however, he seemed far happier.
"Good news, Zordon?" Jason asked.
YES, JASON, VERY GOOD NEWS INDEED, Zordon was actually smiling! TOMMY, ALPHA AND I DISCOVERED A WAY TO RESTORE YOUR GREEN RANGER POWERS TO THEIR FULL POTENCY.
The Green Ranger's eyes widened with hope, and Kim caught her breath in joy; it had hurt her to see her boyfriend losing his powers like this. "What do we have to do, Zordon?" he wondered.
DEEP WITHIN THE HEART OF A HIDDEN DIMENSION THERE LIES THE MYSTIC SHIMERENE CRYSTAL. THIS CRYSTAL IS THE ONLY THING THAT CAN RECHARGE YOUR POWERS PERMANENTLY.
"Yes!" the Rangers went into an immediate frenzy of partying. Zack clapped Tommy heartily on the back.
"Congrats, Tommy, you're gonna be kicking putty butt one hundred percent again in no time!"
THE SHIMERENE CRYSTAL IS NOT EASY TO REACH, THOUGH, RANGERS, Zordon broke into the celebration reluctantly. THERE ARE THREE TESTS THAT MUST BE PASSED ALONG THE WAY: A TRIAL OF THE BODY, A TRIAL OF THE HEART, AND A TRIAL OF THE SPIRIT. ONLY THOSE WHO PASS ALL THREE TESTS ARE PERMITTED INTO THE CAVERN OF THE CRYSTAL. WHOEVER TOUCHES THE CRYSTAL WILL HAVE IT'S POWER ABSORBED INTO THEM. IF A FULL RANGER TOUCHES IT, THEN THEIR POWERS WILL BE INCREASED A THOUSANDFOLD. SINCE TOMMY'S POWERS ARE FADING, HE WILL SIMPLY HAVE HIS RESTORED TO FULL POTENCY.
The Green Ranger took a deep breath, smiling at Kim as she wrapped an arm around him. "You're gonna have all your powers back," she smiled up at him.
"Yeah," Tommy could hardly believe that it was almost over, the power loss was almost over. He was going to be a full Ranger again. . . at last.
"So, this Shimerene Crystal can restore the Green Ranger's powers, can it?" Lord Zedd mused over this new information. "Well, I can't have that! I want that last remnant of Rita's failure destroyed!"
"Yes, my lord!" Goldar agreed from his post next to the throne. Zedd ignored him; he had more important things to do that listen to the babblings of his henchidiots.
He considered several plans for a few moments, then chuckled. The simplest ones always worked the best. He raised his head and scanned Angel Grove, seeking something he could transform into a monster. "Ah!" he declared at last, spying a book resting in the Angel Grove Library. "That is perfect! Narlh the Dracogriff, arise!"
With a wave of his staff and a blast of light, the monster rose into existence and roared out it's challenge to the Rangers. "I am here to serve you, Lord Zedd!" Narlh declared. "The Power Rangers will be no more!"
"Yes!" Lord Zedd threw his head back and laughed. "And the Green Ranger shall be the first to fall to my wrath!"
RANGERS, DO YOU ALL WISH TO ACCOMPANY TOMMY ON THIS QUEST? Zordon asked them all. Jason was the first to speak up.
"You know it, Zordon," he declared. "Tommy's my best friend, I'm not going to let him go alone."
"Affirmative!" Billy spoke up. "Our assistance could be required in this endeavor."
Kim took Tommy's hand in hers and squeezed gently. "You're not going without me," was all she told him as he smiled down at her. Trini and Zack both agreed.
"Besides, how do you expect to find that thing without us?" the Black Ranger grinned. "You'll probably forget where you're going and get lost!"
"Hey, my memory's not that bad!" Tommy protested, to the gentle laughter of the others. Zordon cleared his throat to get their attention.
THEN PREPARE TO BE TELEPORTED TO THE HIDDEN DIMENSION, Zordon was about to signal Alpha to teleport them, when suddenly the alarms began to blare. RANGERS, ZEDD'S LATEST MONSTER, NARLH THE DRAGOGRIFF, HAS APPEARED IN ANGEL GROVE PARK. BEHOLD THE VIEWING GLOBE.
As the Rangers turned to look at the Viewing Globe, Trini's eyes widened. "Hey! That's from The Oathbound Wizard!"
"What?" Jason asked, a touch confused.
"A book I was reading at the library yesterday," she explained. "Narlh isn't all that powerful, but he's part dragon, part griffin. He flies, breaths limited fire, and can talk, that's about it."
ZEDD HAS BROUGHT NARLH TO LIFE FROM THE IMAGE ON THE BOOK COVER, AND HAS INCREASED HIS SIZE AND FIREBREATHING CAPABILITIES, Zordon explained. IT WILL TAKE ALL OF YOU TO DEFEAT HIM, RANGERS.
Jason shook his head. "Tommy needs to get that crystal," he reminded them. "We'll go take care of the monster, then Tommy can join us when he's ready."
ARE YOU WILLING TO GO ALONE, TOMMY? Zordon looked at the Green Ranger quietly.
"Yes, Zordon," he nodded. Kim bit her lip; she didn't want Tommy to go off without her. Finally, she pulled the pink scarf off her neck and pressed it into his hand quickly.
"Take this for luck," she whispered, kissing him gently. "And hurry. We need you."
"You know it, beautiful," Tommy whispered, wrapping the scarf around one wrist. He looked up at Zordon. "Send me there."
Zedd watched in evil glee as the Rangers teleported out to do battle with Narlh. "Ah, just what I was hoping for!" he declared. "They've all come out to. . .wait, what's this?" he counted Rangers quickly, and came up one short. "No! Tommy's went after that Crystal, no doubt! Goldar!"
The warrior jumped up quickly. "Yes, sire?" he asked, hoping for something useful to do. It wasn't often he got the chance; what with Zedd concentrating so much on destroying the Green Ranger's powers.
"Tommy's going to the hidden dimension, he's after the Shimerene Crystal!" Zedd growled, glowing bright red with anger. "I want you to go after him!"
"What shall I do, your lordship?" Goldar wanted to know. Zedd glared at him.
"Idiot!" he roared, rising from his throne in anger. "Follow him there and once he's found the Crystal, destroy him and bring it back to me! I want it's power for myself!"
Goldar bowed low. "As you command, my master!" he vanished out in his usual blaze of golden light. Zedd resumed his seat and stared back at the battle with baleful eyes.
"That fool Goldar had better not fail me," he muttered to himself. "Or else."
Tommy looked around as he appeared in a wide stone cavern. He glanced around, getting his bearings, and reviewed what Zordon had told him before he was teleported here. "Okay, there are going to be three tests," he mused out loud, shivering at the eerie echoes that roused. "And no one else should touch it but me. That shouldn't be a problem; I'm the only one here," he glanced down at the scarf on his wrist, and smiled. _You be careful, Kimmie._
The cavern he was in was huge, with glittering stalagmites and stalagmites poking up here and there. Jewels of all types, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, rubies, sparkled from the walls, the smallest of which was the size of his head, at the very least. "There's enough here to support the town of Angel Grove well into the next millennium," he breathed, more from awe than to keep the echoes starting again. He almost reached out to touch one of them, when one of Zordon's warnings echoed in his mind. _Touch only the Crystal. Leave everything else you see alone, except as it relates to your tests. Only the Crystal can safely be touched._
He drew his hand back almost reluctantly, then looked to see which way he should go. He chuckled softly; there was only one way! Winding deeper and deeper into the hidden dimension led a rocky trail. He took a deep breath. _Time to get going. Time to get the power back._
As he walked along, he pondered over what it would be like to be a full Power Ranger again. He'd never really felt like part of the team; at first he'd been nervous because of his status as the former evil Green Ranger; it was harsh being just the Green Ranger, one of the team. His relationship with Kim had helped, though, she'd forgiven him instantly, and the whole team had welcomed him with open arms from the moment he'd been freed from Rita's spell. He shivered as he remembered that horrible moment when Rita had kidnapped him.
_No,_ he reminded himself forcibly. _You got through that. The Rangers released you, and you made the right choice. Which is why you're on this quest now, cause she took your powers, and Zordon restored them when you were needed. And now it's time to get them back one hundred percent, and help the others kick Lord Zedd back to whatever dark hole he had the nerve to crawl out of._
Tommy amused himself for a short time with thoughts of Kim, the perky Pink Ranger who had given him her heart from the moment they'd seen each other. Trini had told him that the first time she'd seen him, warming up before the karate exposition, her first words had been 'he's really cute'. The Yellow Ranger had found that somewhat amusing, but Tommy's heart had skipped a full three beats at that. He'd never told anyone what his first thought had been on seeing her. _WOW!_ One simple word, but it had embodied everything he'd ever thought of about her. Her hair, her eyes, her determination, her courage, everything that made Kim. . .Kim. She was just absolutely perfect. His fingers delicately caressed the scarf she'd given him, and he smiled.
_I'll be back soon, Kim. That's a promise._
As the Rangers appeared in the park, the first thing Trini noticed was that this version of Narlh was a lot more viscious than it's book counterpart. The fact it came swooping in on an attack pattern less than thirty seconds after their arrival might have had something to do with that fact, as well. The Rangers dodged quickly, only to run straight into a Putty Patrol that seemed to appear out of nowhere. "Let's do it, guys!" Jason shouted. "Power Rangers!"
With their usual battle cry to stir them on, the Rangers launched into the fight, jumping here, there, everywhere. As usual, the Putties outnumbered them, almost three to one in this case. But the five teens didn't care; they'd dealt with these clayheads before, and their weakness was well known. After all, how much effort did it take to slam a fairly large "Z" right in the middle of their opponent's chest?
As the battle progressed, Narlh hovered over the park, diving down occasionally to send a Ranger running, and once accidentally roasting a Putty with it's fiery breath. Billy, who had been having problems with it, almost thanked the creature before realizing that it was the enemy who had helped him out. "What an airhead," the Blue Ranger muttered, though whether that comment was directed to himself or the dracogriff must remain a matter of speculation.
"Rangers!" Narlh dive-bombed them suddenly, forcing them to scatter to five different directions, hoping to confuse it a little as they did so.
The tactic seemed to work fairly well, since it hovered over the battlefield for a few moments, then landed. "Rangers!" the words came twisting out of it's mouth. "Surrender or perish!"
"The Power Rangers never give up!" Jason was quick to respond, then had to dodge a violent blast of flame from the dracogriff. "You missed, ugly!"
"I won't a second time!" Narlh hissed, pumping it's wings and launching towards the Red Ranger. Jason ran for a few moments, letting it chase him, then backflipped over and landed on the creature's back, holding on for dear life. "Hey! I don't take passengers!"
Jason kept a tight grip on the thing, then noticed what he hoped was a weak spot on it. "Kim!" he shouted. "Use your Power Bow! Aim for just under the left wing!"
"You got it, Jason!" she declared, pulling out her bow and aiming. She'd practiced enough with a normal bow since gaining this as her Power Weapon to be certain of her shot now; she'd found that the more skill one had with a weapon in 'human' form, the greater one's skill grew in morphed flavor. The others kept the Putties away from her while she took a careful aim. _Can't mess this up,_ went through her mind as she drew the string back. She fired as soon as she was sure of the shot, and watched with baited breath as the arrow flew through the air. . .
And bounced off the monster's hide as it twisted in a movement that was not possible under the normal laws of aerodynamics. "Damn!" she growled to herself. "Zedd would make this thing so it can fly upside down!"
Jason found himself tossed off by the sudden maneuver, and somersaulted to land on his feet beside Kim. "That was a great shot!" he congratulated her. "Looks like we're going to have to use the Power Blaster on this thing!"
She nodded briefly as the others finished off the last of the Putties and joined the two of them. "Power Ax!" Zack called out, calling his weapon and revealing the hidden cannon in the handle, then having it hover above them.
"Power Bow!" Kim called out, throwing her bow up and watching as it attached itself to the Power Ax, giving it balance.
"Power Daggers!" Trini tossed her twin blades up to the forming Blaster.
"Power Lance!" Billy was next, his weapon forming the secondary cannons on it.
"Power Sword!" Jason was last, slamming his sword down onto the other weapons and bringing the Blaster down to aim at Narlh, who had landed and was preparing what looked to be one of the hottest blazes of all time at them. "Power Rangers!" the five of them shouted as Jason fired the laser.
It hit dead on, and the Rangers watched in triumph as Narlh staggered back, beginning to shrink and fall. "Yeah, we did it!" Zack high-fived Billy as they disengaged the Power Blaster. "Another one bites the dust!"
"Not so fast, Power Rangers!" Zedd's hideous voice came from on high as one of his growth bombs floated down to Narlh suddenly. It exploded over the dying monster, recharging him and restoring it first to full size, then Zord size. "Let's see how you like it when my monster's a full grown dragon!"
Zack groaned. "Could things possibly get any worse?" he muttered.
"Ohhhhhh," Zedd was enjoying this sight immensely. "I do so love to see my monsters winning for a change!" the regrown Narlh was chasing the Rangers through Angel Grove, not giving them time enough to get to their Zords.
Finster, Squatt, and Baboo cowered in their usual corner, watching Zedd as he watched the Rangers and his monster. "We're winning, we're winning!" Squatt piped up. Baboo swatted him.
"Keep it down!" he reminded him. "If Lord Zedd remembers we're here, he'll do something to us. . .like make us clean up the palace or something!"
Finster snorted. "Like you two could clean anything," he muttered. The little monster-maker had been truly bored since Zedd's arrival, he missed Rita terribly. She might not have appreciated him, but at least she had used him. He'd done things, he'd made monsters, he'd helped out in plans on occasion. . .but now, he did nothing!
He didn't even have someone to talk to, not anyone with real intelligence. Goldar was too busy toadying up to Zedd, no one had seen Scorpina since Zedd's arrival, and Squatt and Baboo. .. well, they just weren't mentioning. He wondered briefly if he'd ever be able to really work again, and drifted quietly off to his lab, to make monsters and dream about when he'd been useful.
Zedd didn't even noticed him leaving the throne room; he wouldn't have cared if he had, anyway. His attention was all focused on the fight in Angel Grove. The room glowed a pale blue; he was happy as he watched the Rangers fleeing.
And then the blue changed to a brilliant red as they managed to call forth the ThunderZords. "No!" he couldn't believe his eyes. "This can't be happening; how could they?"
The red intensified around the Chamber of Command as Zedd watched the Rangers form the ThunderMegaZord, and pull forth the ThunderSabre. "This is impossible!"
Just as the blade went through Narlh, disintegrating him, the Lunar Palace shook from roof to ceiling. Zedd looked around, his anger tripling at whatever this interruption was. "Who dares invade my palace?" he roared, sensing an enormous evil presence, almost in equal to his own, approaching. "Who dares invade Lord Zedd's home?"
An ice-cold voice answered him, one that seemed to drip with more than the normal malice of those who served evil. "Blade," he stared as a tall, humanoid woman faded into existence in the throne room. Her hair cascaded to her waist in a glittering shower of brightest gold, her eyes shimmered a soft pure blue, and by the standards of most humans, she was drop dead gorgeous. In that same icy voice, she continued, "Sister of Rita Repulsa."
"Whoa," Tommy breathed out as he saw the blockage ahead of him. The pathway was barred by what could only be the largest rockslide in history. "How am I supposed to get through that?"
He walked up to it, touching it gently. "Yeah, that's really there, no illusion," he muttered. "I can't let this stop me, though."
The Green Ranger examined the piled up rocks carefully, looking for any hint that there might be passage through them. His search was in vain however; the rocks might as well have been sealed together. Finally he leaned against them, pushing a little, wondering if he could somehow move them away from whatever they blocked.
_No go,_ he thought. _Man, I've GOT to get through this, I've got to find that Crystal and get back to the others. They need me._ He took a deep breath and suddenly shivered. _Hey. Cold air. Where's it coming from?_ He started another search through the rocks, and this time, smiled. The air was coming through a tiny hole in the rocks he'd overlooked before. Working his fingers into it, he got as good a grip as he could on it. _This one little opening here could be just what I need._
Exerting every bit of his strength, Tommy pulled at the sides of the hole, then jumped back as fast as he could as the rocks started tumbling down. Dust and noise filled the air for almost a full five minutes, stirring up a fit of coughing in the Green Ranger. When things finally calmed down, he smiled at the opening now revealed. _Time to get moving._
As he started through, he didn't notice Goldar several feet behind him, watching as he cleared his way through. The winged monkey chuckled under his breath. _That's right, Green Ranger. Just make things easier for me to follow you. Lead me right to that Crystal, so I can take it and destroy you as my master wishes._
Goldar followed Tommy far more quietly than one might have thought he was capable of. He would not fail Lord Zedd.
"Blade?" Zedd had never even known his servant Rita had had a sister. "Why have you come here?"
Blade sauntered towards him, eyes glinting. "So you're the one who locked my little sister up in a dumpster," her voice was dangerously soft.
"Yes, I did!" he retorted. "She bungled the Earth mission so badly it's not even funny! What do you intend to do about it?"
It was easy to see how Blade had gotten her name, he thought irrelevantly as she met his eyes. There was a broadsword strapped to her back, and two daggers hanging from the belt around her waist, with the hilts of another pair sticking out of her calf-high boots. There was a manner about her that said she knew how to use each and every one of those, as well.
"I intend," she paused, obviously taking a thorough enjoyment of the tension she was causing, "to form an alliance with you, Zedd. Those Rangers were the reason my sister failed, and she caused a blot on the family honor with that failure. When I destroy them, then that blot will be lifted."
Zedd was completely taken aback; an alliance? He'd never ever thought about joining forces with someone else! "What do you mean, alliance?" he growled. "Why should I?"
Blade casually pulled one of the daggers from her waist and pressed it against one fingertip. "Because if you don't," she purred, "I'll simply handle them myself. Without you, if you get what I mean," her eyes met his once more, and this time were brilliant blood-red.
Zedd almost smiled. She was probably insane, a definite megalomaniac, most likely a powerful student of the powers of evil magic, a power-hungry world dominator. In short, she was just what he'd always wanted in a woman. But these things had to be handled carefully. First things first, after all. "Oh, very well!" he growled. "We'll work together, for now! To get rid of the Rangers!"
"Excellent," she nodded briefly. "What sort of help do you have around here?"
He shrugged. "The usual. Putties, Goldar. Then there's them," he waved to where Squatt and Baboo cowered. "There's supposed to be another one, I think. Can't keep track of him."
Blade glanced over and nodded briefly to herself. "Finster. He's probably in his lab; Rita told me about him. He might come in handy for something I have in mind."
"A plan?" Zedd was interested at once; she had come prepared it seemed. "Let's hear it!"
"No," she shook her head. "Not just yet. I want to take my time on that. It's something I've had in mind for a while, and if it's rushed, it won't work."
"So what good are you?" he grunted.
Blade laughed. "You shall see, Zedd, you shall see! Sakari Soldiers, come forth!"
In a blast of light, a full regiment of huge, hairy, ape-like creatures stood in neat rows before the throne. One of them stepped forward and bowed low. "We have come at your command, great Queen!" he grunted. Blade nodded.
"These are my Sakari Soldiers, Zedd," she explained. "They are powerful fighters, far stronger than your little Putties, and more intelligent as well, as I'm sure you've already noticed!"
Zedd examined them; he'd heard of the Sakari Soldiers before. Rumor among the more evil beings of the universe had it that their world had recently been conquered and they had been enslaved, but no one was coming forward to take the credit. _It must have been Blade,_ he decided. _That's good work, the Sakari are among the finest warriors in the universe!_
"I approve!" he declared. "They should prove quite a challenge for the Rangers!"
Blade smiled as she turned her gaze towards the Earth. "So what are they up to at the moment?" she asked. "I haven't had time to get the news."
"The Green Ranger is attempting to return to full power by claiming the Shimerene Crystal!" Zedd's chrome-coated fingers flexed as he remembered. "Goldar is following him, with orders to take the Crystal and destroy Tommy!"
Rita's sister snorted. "Rita would choose someone good to give the Green Coin to. She should've known as soon as her spell was destroyed, he'd join the Rangers!" her eyes glowed briefly, examining the Earth. "So those are the other Rangers," she mused. "They don't look like much!"
"Don't be fooled!" Zedd warned her. "They've thwarted many of my plans already! There's more to them all than meets the eye."
Blade nodded slowly, she'd spent far too much time fighting the forces of good to judge by looks alone. "Sakari!" she snapped. "Get down to Earth and cause some damage! I want to see what these Rangers are like in battle!"
"As you wish, my queen!" the Sakari commander saluted, then vanished along with his troops. Blade glanced to Zedd, and chuckled.
"Things are about to get very bad for the Rangers, partner!" she declared, a low and evil laugh echoing from her lips. "Very bad indeed!"
"Yay, we did it!" Kim laughed heartily as Narlh vanished into dust. "Let's celebrate!" _and keep me from thinking too much about Tommy._
Just as the Rangers were about to demorph and head for the Youth Center, their communicators beeped. "This is Jason, what is it, Zordon?" the Red Ranger asked.
RETURN TO THE COMMAND CENTER AT ONCE, RANGERS, THERE IS GRAVE DANGER, they could hear the nervousness in his voice. The Rangers glanced at each other.
"Something's going on," Zack muttered. "And if it's worrying Zordon, it's definitely worrying me!"
Trini nodded briefly. "Let's get back to the Command Center!"
"Maybe Tommy's back!" Kim piped up hopefully. The five of them nodded, then teleported back.
"Zordon, what is it?" Jason asked, after glancing around quickly to see that Tommy was nowhere in sight. "Is Tommy in trouble?"
NO, RANGERS, TOMMY'S QUEST IS GOING WELL, Zordon reassured them. I AM INSTEAD AFRAID THAT AN EVEN WORSE MENACE THAN LORD ZEDD HAS ARRIVED TO TERRORIZE EARTH.
"What?" Trini's eyes widened. "You're kidding us, right?"
IF ONLY I WERE, TRINI, Zordon indicated for them to look at the Viewing Globe. An image of Blade appeared.
"Who's the lady with all the knives?" Zack wondered.
SHE IS BLADE, RITA REPULSA'S OLDER SISTER, Zordon told them. SHE HAS FORMED AN ALLIANCE WITH ZEDD, WITH THE INTENT OF DESTROYING YOU ALL. SHE IS A DANGEROUS OPPONENT, WITH GREAT SKILL IN HER WEAPONS, POWERFUL MAGIC, AND IS SERVED BY THE SAKARI SOLDIERS.
Billy frowned. "Sakari Soldiers? Who are they, Zordon?"
POWERFUL WARRIORS FROM THE WORLD OF SAKAR, RECENTLY CONQUERED BY BLADE. THEY ARE STRONG, FAST, AGILE, AND SMART, AND ALL THOROUGHLY COMMITED TO SERVING THEIR MISTRESS. IT WILL NOT BE EASY TO DEFEAT THEM, THOUGH IT IS POSSIBLE.
"Zordon, has there been any word from Tommy at all?" Kim wanted to know more than just 'his quest is going well'!
NOT YET, KIMBERLY, Zordon told her. BUT WE WILL BE WAITING FOR WORD FROM HIM, AS WELL AS KEEPING AN EYE OUT FOR ANY ACTIVITY FROM BLADE. I FEAR SHE WILL STRIKE FIRST, WHEN WE ARE NOT AT FULL STRENGTH. BE PREPARED, RANGERS.
Tommy swore to himself as he wiped off the blood from a scrape acquired in squeezing past some of the smaller twists and turns. After he'd gotten past the rockslide, the trail he'd been following had gotten smaller and smaller, requiring him to slip through very tight spaces.
_Wonder how much farther I've got to go. And if I'll recognize the Crystal when I see it. Zordon couldn't give me a description; he just said I'd know it. I hope I do._
He leaned against the wall for a few moments, trying to catch his breath. He closed his eyes, breathing deeply in a meditation his sensei had taught him as a child. So deep did he enter it, he almost didn't hear the soft voice calling out to him. "Tommy. . . Tommy."
Tommy's eyes flew open, and stayed open. In front of him, where nothing had been before, there now floated two images. One was of a crystal, glowing a deep emerald green. _The Shimerene Crystal,_ the name echoed in his mind. He knew it was the object of his quest.
The other image he knew just as well, how could he not know it? He'd spent hours with it, in various activities of romance. It was Kim. "Tommy," she held her hand out to him. "Tommy, we're in trouble. . .Zedd's monster is too much for us. We need your help."
"I haven't gotten to the Crystal yet!" he exclaimed, his eyes flicking between her and the Crystal.
"I managed to send this message," Kim continued. "Please, hurry! We don't have much time left!"
Tommy stepped towards the Crystal, then looked back at Kim. "Kim," he whispered. "This is my last chance to get my powers back to full. I. . . "
"Hurry, Tommy!" she insisted. Her eyes widened suddenly as she began to back away from him. He turned to see what it was that had startled her, and was almost knocked over by what seemed to be the very essence of evil rushing towards her. "Tommy!!" Kim screamed. "Help me!"
"I'm coming, Kim!" Tommy threw one last glance at the Crystal; his powers didn't matter, saving the woman he loved did! He started to run towards her. . . only to have her fade away, as did the presence of evil that had been attacking her. He looked around, realizing as he did so that somehow, he'd left the small cavern he'd been in. _What's going on here? Did I do what was right . . .or. . ._
The only answer he had was that now the path in front of him was every bit as wide as it had been in the beginning, not the narrow trail it had become before. _I guess I keep going._
There was just nothing else he could do.
RANGERS, BLADE HAS SENT HER SAKARI SOLDIERS TO EARTH, Zordon alerted the Rangers as the alarms began to blare all over the Command Center. I HESITATE TO SEND YOU INTO BATTLE AT THE MOMENT, BUT I FEAR WE HAVE NO CHOICE.
"Hey, don't worry about it, Zordon!" Zack chuckled. "We can handle this ape-dudes!"
_Ah, Zachary, always laughing,_ Zordon smiled to himself. Zack's humor could and did lighten the Rangers at the very worst times.
"We've got to go," Jason nodded. "We can't let those things hurt any of the civilians!"
Billy agreed. "It's our duty!"
VERY WELL, RANGERS, Zordon could see the girls agreed with them, Kim a trifle reluctantly. _She worries over Tommy as I do._ BUT BE CAREFUL. THE SAKARI ARE FEARSOME WARRIORS, AND HAVE NO OBVIOUS WEAK POINTS AS ZEDD'S PUTTIES DID. YOU MUST LEARN THEIR STYLE FOR YOURSELVES.
"Will do, Zordon!" Trini almost saluted, then Alpha teleported them out. Zordon sighed deeply to himself.
"What is it, Zordon?" Alpha asked, looking up at the ancient wizard. "Is something wrong, ay-yi-yi?"
NO, ALPHA, Zordon shook his head. I SIMPLY WORRY ABOUT THEM. BLADE'S ARRIVAL DOES NOT BODE WELL FOR THE RANGERS IF TOMMY DOES NOT RETURN WITH THE POWER OF THE SHIMERENE CRYSTAL. SIX FULLY POWERED RANGERS WILL BE NEEDED AGAINST HER STRENGTH, COMBINED WITH ZEDD'S. AND EVEN I DO NOT KNOW IF THAT WILL BE ENOUGH.
The little robot felt his circuits chill with that news. "Is there anything we can do, Zordon?"
WAIT, AND HOPE THAT TOMMY PASSES THE TRIALS. IT IS ALL ANY OF US CAN DO. IT IS UP TO HIM, AND TO THE OTHER RANGERS. Zordon turned his attention to the Viewing Globe. _Be careful, Rangers._
"Keep your eyes open, Rangers, they could be anywhere!" Jason advised as they teleported to the heart of Angel Grove. "Zordon says these things are tough, so this isn't going to be like facing the Putties!"
The Rangers marched carefully through the town; things were far too quiet for anyone's liking. "Seeing those things must've thrown everyone into a panic, especially so close to a monster attack," Trini mused. "They're probably all hiding."
"That could be for the best," Billy reminded them. "We do want the populace out of the way as rapidly as possible."
Kim agreed. "I wish these things would just come out and attack, though, I hate having to look for a fight. It just doesn't feel right."
"I know," Zack looked from side to side, wondering why he had the feeling of strange eyes on him. He shivered; some parts of being a Ranger he could definitely do without! Being watched constantly by their adversaries was one of them. It seemed sometimes they couldn't even have a bad day at school without Rita or Zedd, depending on who was there at the time, using it against them. Even his fear of spiders had been a weapon, once. _Chill, Zack, you got over that!_
"Maybe we should split up?" Kim suggested after almost five minutes of patrol had produced nothing but aching feet in them all. "Then we could find them faster."
"I don't get it," Jason shook his head. "Zordon and Alpha teleported us right to where the Sakari should've been, but we haven't seen so much as a hair from them!"
"Well, Red Ranger, you had only to ask!" the voice was harsh and thick, and came from a seven-foot tall ape-like thing covered in long shaggy red hair. It stood in front of nine others just like it, all glaring at the Rangers. "We are the Sakari Soldiers, loyal warriors of Queen Blade, and we will destroy you!"
Zack laughed. "Oh, yeah, right! We've heard that before, quite a few times, thank you very much!"
"Charge!" was all the Sakari in charge said, his troops moving far faster towards the Rangers than they would've thought possible. The five Rangers closed in combat with the ten Sakari, and after that, things just got hectic, to say the very least. With two against one odds, the Rangers weren't doing well.
Jason found himself against the head Sakari and one of it's brothers, fighting with all the skill a lifetime of martial arts could give him. He hit, punched, struck, threw, dodged, and flipped as hard and fast as he could. He would not let this things win, no matter what it took.
"You fight well, Red Ranger!" the head Sakari complimented him. "But you are no match for me!"
"That remains to be seen!" Jason grunted as a powerful fist hit him in the ribs. "Blade and Zedd aren't going to have this world!"
The Sakari chief laughed. "That remains to be seen!" he threw Jason's own words back at him. "Come, my brother! Time to destroy this Ranger!"
The Red Ranger backflipped away from a powerful double blow that could very well have taken his head off had it connected, and paused just long enough to pull out the Power Sword. "I don't think so!" he growled. "The Power Rangers aren't going down to a batch of hairy apes!"
He glanced around quickly to check on the other Rangers before charging into battle once more. Zack was fighting off two of the Sakari, using hip-hop Kedo as well as the more powerful moves of a Ranger. Kim and Trini had teamed up against their four opponents, combining gymnastics and kung-fu. Billy stood with his back to a tree as he fought with all the skill being morphed gave him. Jason smiled to see the other boy using some of martial arts moves he'd taught him. _He's going to be a black belt sooner than he thinks. He's got the talent._
Once he was assured his friends were all right and not in need of his help, the leader of the Rangers turned back to the matter at hand: that of kicking serious Sakari rump. Sword upraised, Jason shouted a wild battle cry and went back into battle. As the blade struck the Sakari commander, the Red Ranger was surprised to see, instead of blood or some other liquid, a flash of light, and the creature vanished!
"Whoa!" he'd never seen anything like that! He whirled and slammed the blade into his second opponent, and grinned to see it, too, vanish. "Guys!" he shouted. "Use your Power Weapons! They can't stand up to those!"
"Right!" four other voices chorused. In moments, with the help of their weapons, the other Rangers had defeated the Sakari Soldiers, after almost a full hour of fighting.
Jason jogged over to his friends. "Is everyone all right?" he asked. "Those things were tough!" he winced at the pain just moving caused him. _I hope we don't have to fight these things TOO regularly! I'm going to have MAJOR troubles keeping mom and dad from noticing the bruises if we do!_
"Yeah, I think we're all in one piece," Zack murmured, slowly getting to his feet. "Whether we want to be or not. And I'm not really sure if I want to be right now."
Kim stretched, almost crying out at the agony. "Let's get back to the Command Center," was all the Pink Ranger said. As they teleported back, she had only one thought on her mind. _Tommy._
"You failed!" Zedd glared at Blade as the last of her Sakari Soldiers vanished from the blows of the Rangers' weapons. "You said the Sakari could defeat the Rangers!"
"Actually, I never said that," Blade corrected him absently as she leaned on the balcony, staring down at the Earth with her head balanced on her wrist. "You assumed they would. I was unaware Zordon had given them the Power Weapons. The Sakari are now powered by my own evil magic, which is in direct opposition to the Weapons of the Morphin Grid. If the Rangers had fought them while they were still free-willed and untainted by my powers, they would have found the Sakari far more formidable."
Zedd stared at her, she hadn't even turned to look at him as she'd dryly spoken. He'd never had to deal with such insolence in an underling before. _But, she's not precisely an underling,_ he reminded himself sourly. "You'd better do something, Blade!" he growled. "If all the Rangers have to do to defeat those Sakari is just pull out those Power Weapons, that's going to be a lot of short battles, with the Rangers winning!"
She turned around and flared her eyes at him. "If you would just so kindly shut up, I'm looking for something. Or rather, someone. And I don't exactly need the interruption. So, in so many words, shut up."
"Who are you looking for?" he hustled over to her, looking to see what she was looking at. "The Rangers are all in the Command Center, except for Tommy! And Goldar's on his trail, you don't have to worry about him!"
Blade snorted. "Goldar couldn't catch a cold, much less the Green Ranger, no matter how low on power this boy is! I'm not worried over him, though. And as for who I'm looking for, I don't know yet. I'll know when I see them."
Zedd glared at her; he hated it when someone didn't explain their plans! "I want some answers!" he demanded. "Just what is this plan of yours, Blade?" he regretted his insistence a moment later when she had him pinned against the balcony, one of her daggers at his throat.
"I said, I'd tell you when I was ready to," she hissed, eyes a flaming shade of blood-red. "If you ask me one more time a question I already answered, I will personally remove every internal organ you have and put them all back in: backwards. Is that understood? You can run roughshod over all the help around here all you like, I don't care, they work for you, not me. But I don't work for you, I'm a free agent, in alliance with you because I want to be, not because I have to be! That's all there is to it. Do we have an understanding?"
Zedd refused to show or even feel fear; he had an intense feeling if he did, she'd slam that blade through his throat with about as much emotion as he would feel over swatting one of the Rangers. "Very well," was all he said. "Keep your secret plan to yourself."
Blade stepped back, letting him up and sheathing her dagger as she returned to her inspection of the planet below. _There must be someone there who fits my criteria,_ she mused to herself. _There simply must be!_
Goldar followed along behind Tommy as quietly as he could. He'd seen the Ranger throw himself practically through a wall, that had faded away to reveal a trail as he did so. The armored warrior had simply kept up his trailing of Tommy, ignoring the feelings of unease that went through him as he continued. _I must make certain he doesn't notice me!_
Surprisingly, Tommy didn't notice Goldar as he journeyed. All the Green Ranger really cared about was ending this quest as fast as possible. He wanted to be back with the others, to make sure they were all right. Seeing Kim like that had shaken him a good deal.
"Tommy!" his head jerked up at the sharp sound of his name, and his heart almost stopped at what was in front of him. _Oh, it had to be this, didn't it?_
His exact twin, fully morphed, stared back at him. "Hello, Tommy," came the low, cold voice of the evil Green Ranger. "Nice to see you again."
"You can't be here!" Tommy couldn't believe his eyes. This wasn't happening, this wasn't possible, not in the slightest, he had been freed from Rita's spell! He wasn't evil!
"And why can't I be?" Evil Tommy laughed.
"You don't exist!" Tommy challenged. "You were only created by Rita's magic! You're not real!"
Evil Tommy seemed to find Good Tommy's denials very amusing. "You try to deny me, and deny yourself instead! I wasn't created by Rita, I was always within you! You just never let me out!"
"No!" Tommy shook his head harshly. "You're lying! You're evil!"
"No kidding," Evil Tommy shook his head just as harshly. "You figured it out even faster than I thought you would!"
Tommy stared at his duplicate, not understanding how this could be. _Can this be Zedd's work? Could he have created some evil clone of me? IS this me?_ "You're not me," he repeated. "You're just some copy."
Evil Tommy stepped towards him, removing his helmet as he did so. Down to the last detail, they were identical. Good Tommy shivered at the resemblance. "What's the matter, don't like looking into a mirror?" his twin laughed again, a sound Tommy found chilled him to his bones.
"Not if it's showing you!" he retorted. _This thing simply can't be me! Jason destroyed the Sword of Darkness and freed me! The evil's not in me anymore!_
"You keep denying me, and in so, denying yourself," Evil Tommy hissed. "And that's why you keep losing your powers. You can't accept that you once were evil."
The words hit Tommy like a lightning bolt. He smiled slowly to himself, slow and long. "I was evil once," he spoke the words quietly, firmly, the images replaying in his mind as he did so. "I was evil. I was controlled by Rita Repulsa, and I nearly destroyed the Rangers. I trashed the Command Center, gave Alpha-5 a virus, and almost banished Zordon forever. When the Sword of Darkness was destroyed by Jason, the Red Ranger, I was freed of her spell," he stood up a little straighter. "I was evil. I am no longer. You were a part of me, and still are. But you are not the one in control. You weren't created by Rita, you were a part of me, you were the part that is evil in all that lives. That's all you are. Just another part of me."
Evil Tommy's smile echoed his own, and Good Tommy heard a whisper in his mind as his twin faded away. _I was always a part of you. But you're part of me, too. See you around, self._
_You know it, self,_ he responded. As the way was cleared ahead of him, Tommy stepped forward, peace he had longed for since the moment he'd risen to his feet on Angel Grove Beach after Jason destroyed the Sword of Darkness filling his heart. "I'm almost there," he whispered. "And then I'm going home."
Zordon congratulated the Rangers as they arrived back at the Command Center. THAT WAS WELL DONE, ALL OF YOU! BLADE'S SAKARI WARRIORS ARE VULNERABLE TO THE INNATE GOODNESS IN THE POWER WEAPONS. SHE WILL BE SEEKING SOME WAY TO MAKE THEM STRONGER, THOUGH, SO DO NOT LET YOUR GUARD DOWN.
Kim stepped up a little. "Um, Zordon, I know I asked this before, but. . ."
NO, KIMBERLY, THERE HAS BEEN NOTHING FROM TOMMY, AND I DO NOT EXPECT THERE TO BE UNTIL HE HAS COMPLETED HIS QUEST, Zordon spoke quietly, not wanting to hurt the young girl's feelings. She and Tommy were very much in love, in a way he had not seen in centuries. His heart ached briefly to remember his own love. . . _No, another time for that,_ he reprimanded himself sharply as he turned his attention to the dimension where Tommy was going through his trials. _I must be ready when he returns._
The Rangers slowly took up various positions in the Command Center, waiting for their sixth member to rejoin them. Kim was curled up against a console, her thoughts all focused on Tommy. She looked up as Trini put a hand on her shoulder. "You okay, Kim?" the Yellow Ranger asked. "Kim?"
"Hm? Oh, yeah, Trini, I'm fine," Kim nodded. "I'm just. . .worried about Tommy, that's all."
Her friend sat next to her. "We're all worried about him," she said. She could tell Kim's worry went beyond simple concern for a friend, though.
The two girls sat in companionable silence for several long moments, until Trini finally broke it. "You're really serious about him, aren't you?"
"More than I've ever been about anyone in my life," Kim breathed the words out. "I think I was born to love Tommy Oliver."
Trini's lips curved into a smile. "Tommy's a great guy," she agreed. "You two are a perfect couple, and I know he really likes you too," she examined that statement for a moment. "No, he doesn't just like you. He loves you, Kim."
"How can you be sure?" Kim didn't want to utter the statement, but did anyway. "He's distant a lot of the time, doesn't talk to anyone. . ."
Trini nodded. "He doesn't feel very safe talking, I'd imagine. He's been through a lot, remember, being under Rita's spell, getting it broken, then losing his powers, getting them back. . .give him some time, I'm sure he'll open up to you."
Kim's eyes were dark and distant. "I hope he does, Trini," she whispered. "I couldn't face life without him. I'd rather die. It was the hardest thing in the world when he was so mean to me while he was under Rita's spell. Especially when he'd been so nice before. I didn't know what to think, didn't know if maybe he was playing with my mind somehow, or what was going on. And then when we found out he was the Green Ranger, I felt. . .almost betrayed, in a sense. But also grateful, because that meant his behavior had a reason, it was Rita all along, not really him."
"And that meant deep inside, he probably did like you," Trini continued. Kim nodded.
"It still took him three months to ask me out, after that!" Kim shook her head, not sure just how to remember that day. It had been the same day he'd had his powers drained from him by Rita's Green Candle. She'd went down by the lake, found him practicing, and then. . .not only had they had their first kiss, but he'd asked her to the dance. . .they'd had such fun that night. It hadn't mattered he wasn't a Ranger anymore, Pink Ranger and Green Ranger didn't exist for them, it was only Kim and Tommy, two people in love.
Trini smiled; she recognized the look in Kim's eyes. "He'll be fine," she reassured her friend. "He'll be just fine."
"I hope so, Trini," Kim sighed deeply. "I truly hope so."
A few feet away, Billy was watching the female Rangers, with something in his eyes as purest regret. He sighed to himself as he turned away. _Make her happy, Tommy,_ he thought. _Please, for the love of all that's good, just make her happy._
Tommy knew he'd come to the end of his quest. Maybe it was the fact he'd been stopped three times, for each of the three tests he'd known he was to go through. Maybe it was the brilliant green glow the cavern the path he was on led through was suddenly bathed in.
Maybe it was the fact that as he turned a corner, the cavern ahead of him widened into a cave twice the size of the Command Center, and in the center of it there glowed a crystal the size of his head, pure green, and as round as an egg.
"Incredible," the word escaped from his lips and raced around the room, echoing over and over again, until it returned once again to him. "Simply incredible."
He was stepping towards it when a sudden, harsh hand seized him by the shoulder. "Not so fast, Green Ranger!" Goldar growled in his ear. "That Crystal belongs to Lord Zedd!"
"No way, Goldar!" Tommy reacted automatically and quickly. "I don't know how you got here, but Zedd's not gonna get his mitts on that thing!"
Goldar's sword appeared in his hand as he prepared for battle. "I wouldn't be so sure of yourself, fallen Ranger!" he declared. "You cannot stand against me!"
"Yeah, right, whatever!" Tommy laughed. "Tell me another one, Goldar!"
With an almost insane cry, Zedd's warrior leaped at Tommy, who jumped and rolled to one side. "You're not going to get the Crystal, Green Ranger! Zedd has declared that you will be destroyed! He will have no reminders of that wimp Rita's reign!"
"I didn't ask to be the Green Ranger!" Tommy hissed, pulling out the Dragon Dagger as he got ready to fight. "But since I am, I'm going to make sure Zedd never takes over the Earth!"
Goldar laughed and ran towards him again, blade at the ready. Tommy moved, but not fast enough this time, as Goldar's sword caught him in the shoulder, spinning him around. "Damn!" he swore. Goldar laughed, and licked the blood from his sword's blade.
"That is just the first blood you shall shed before this is ended, Ranger!" Goldar promised. Before Tommy could move away again, the armored ape seized him by his injured shoulder and threw him up against the far wall. Tommy hit his head against the wall and slid down helplessly, almost unconscious from the force of the blow. Goldar laughed and started to throw him around the room for the sheer pleasure of it. "Oh, this is too easy!" he declared. "Far too easy! Fight back, Green Ranger! Fight back!"
But Tommy was already unconscious, he'd hit his head several times during Goldar's version of a 'fight', and his torn shoulder was bleeding badly. Zedd's chief warrior grabbed the Green Ranger one final time, dragging him up to stare into his dark brown eyes. "You were a worthy opponent once," he hissed. "Time to die!" he threw Tommy over his shoulder, without looking, one last time. Once this throw was over he promised himself, he'd stop his play and kill the Ranger.
Tommy flew through the air, higher than before. Goldar whirled as he heard a sudden crash, unlike what he'd heard before, and stared as Tommy lay on the ground, the Shimerene Crystal in his hand. "No!" he roared, starting over towards him.
He was thrown back by a sudden wave of energy, as the Crystal pulsed once, twice, and again. Tommy sat up, eyes open, and glowing a warm green that pulsed in time with the Crystal. He stood up, moving in a trance, and the glow expanded to cover all of his body. A voice echoed in the cavern, and in Tommy's mind.
_You have passed the trials of strength, heart, and soul. You are worthy of the Power of the Shimerene Crystal. You and your Zord are recharged, permanently and forever, Thomas Oliver. Be at peace._
The Crystal glowed one final time, then shattered into fine dust. Tommy's eyes snapped all the way open, all his wounds had been healed in that moment. He smiled; he could sense that his powers were back up to full strength, as was the DragonZord's. He looked over at Goldar, who was just now getting to his own feet, and a cocky grin spread across his face. "Ready for round two, Goldar?"
Goldar glared at him for a moment, then vanished without another word. Tommy laughed; he'd had a feeling that would be his enemy's response! "I did it!" he yelled at the top of his lungs, feeling better than he had in months. He touched the scarf still tied to one wrist, and smiled. "Thanks, Kim."
Kim had her head tucked down, half-asleep. The battle with the Sakari had drained a lot of her strength, coming so soon after the fight with Narlh. Even being morphed hadn't protected them enough, it seemed, since the others were also drifting off. She tried to stay awake; she wanted to be awake when Tommy got back. She forced away the thought that tried to sneak in there, if he got back. She wouldn't let herself consider the possibility of failure. She just wouldn't.
"Hey, beautiful," her eyes flickered a little at the voice. "Come on, Kimmie, wake up. You're cute sleeping, but you're absolutely gorgeous awake."
As her eyes came open and focused, she squealed in sudden joy. "Tommy!" she threw her arms around him. "You're back!"
"Oh, yeah!" they hugged warmly, as the other Rangers slowly came to their feet around them. "I'm back, and I found the Crystal, too!"
CONGRATULATIONS, TOMMY, Zordon boomed. YOU ARE ONCE AGAIN THE FULL GREEN RANGER. THE SHIMERENE CRYSTAL RESTORED EVERYTHING THAT RITA'S GREEN CANDLE TOOK AWAY, AS WELL AS FIXING THE DAMAGE CAUSED TO THE DRAGONZORD BY LORD ZEDD. WELCOME BACK TO THE TEAM, IN FULL, GREEN RANGER.
Jason clapped Tommy on the back. "Glad to have you back, buddy," he declared. "And just in time, too."
Tommy frowned. "What's going on?"
THERE HAS BEEN A NEW DEVELOPMENT DURING YOUR ABSENCE, TOMMY, Zordon explained about Blade, the Sakari Soldiers, and all that had went on during his quest. SCANS REVEAL THAT YOUR DRAGON DAGGER WILL HAVE THE SAME EFFECT ON THE SAKARI AS THE OTHER RANGERS' POWER WEAPONS, BUT IT IS UNCERTAIN AS TO HOW LONG THAT SHALL LAST. BLADE IS NOTORIOUS FOR CHANGING PLANS AND TACTICS JUST AS HER ENEMIES ADJUST TO THEM. IT IS PART OF WHAT MAKES HER SUCH A DEADLY OPPONENT, SHE IS EXTREMELY UNPREDICTABLE.
Tommy took a deep breath, and grinned. "Well, she's got six Rangers to deal with now, and she's going to find out it's not that easy to take down the Power Rangers."
"You know it, bro!" Zack agreed, nodding fiercely. Billy grinned from where he'd been going over scans on the Sakari.
"Congratulations on your successful quest, Tommy," the Blue Ranger told him. Tommy saw a strange shadow in his friend's eyes, and made a note to talk with him about it later
"Hey, everyone!" Trini glanced at her watch suddenly. "Remember, we're supposed to meet Ernie's daughter at the Juice Bar this afternoon!"
Jason almost slapped his forehead. "Yeah, that's right!" he glanced to Tommy. "We're all getting forgetful, are you contagious or something?"
"Hey!" Tommy protested mildly; his forgetfulness had been a standard joke around here since the beginning, it seemed. It no longer seemed to have even the mild sting it had then. Something had changed, he realized, and he didn't have to be a Billy-level genius to realize what it was: he'd come to terms with himself, and what he'd done under Rita's spell. He smiled to himself, then touched Kim's arm lightly. "Before we go, I want to give this back to you," he started to unwind the scarf from his wrist.
She shook her head. "Keep it," she told him. "To remember today by."
Tommy smiled, and kissed her gently. "I love you, Kim," he whispered into her ear. The effect on her was instantaneous. She blushed a fiery red, her eyes misted up, and she threw her arms around his neck once more.
"I love you too," she told him, hanging on as if she had no intentions of ever letting go. He really didn't want her to let go, either. It just felt far too good to have her in his arms like this. It didn't bother him that they were in the middle of the Command Center as they kissed again; it was simply and utterly, a perfect moment.
The Lunar Palace glowed red from the deepest dungeon to the tallest tower in response to Zedd's anger. "No!" he called the denial out over and over again. "I can't believe it, Goldar, you failed again! You could've destroyed the Green Ranger, and instead you play with him! You throw him straight into the Crystal! You might as well have handed him the blasted thing! Now he's got his full powers back, and the last chance I had to drain him completely is gone!"
Goldar was on his knees in front of his master. "I'm sorry, my Lord Zedd!" he declared. "Please, forgive me!"
"I know you're sorry," Zedd growled. "Give me one good reason I shouldn't turn you into mulch right here and now!"
His warrior stammered out something that might have been a word, or not, Zedd couldn't tell which. A lazy voice came from the balcony where Blade seemed to have more or less set up residence. "Oh, leave him alone, Zedd. It's not his fault he's a moron."
Goldar looked over to see who had quite possibly saved his life and career, and almost fainted to see Blade there. He'd met her early in his service to Rita, and she'd terrified him then. It wasn't any better this time around. "Queen Blade," he prostrated himself, not certain who to be more scared of at the moment. "How may I thank you for your mercy?"
"Shut up," she growled. "I'm not interested in your obeisance. Just stay out of my way and that'll do just fine."
He started to back out of the throne room, when Zedd froze him in place with a look. "I'll order my servants around, if you don't mind!" he growled. "You just . . .do whatever it is you're doing!"
Blade ignored him; she was beginning to grow impatient. She'd seen some fine candidates, but just none of them that were right for what she had in mind. "There has to be one," she muttered. "And I'm going to find them."
Zedd stared at her for a few moments, then snapped an order for Goldar to get out of his sight. He joined Blade by the balcony, staring at Earth as he began to make his own plans. Whatever she was searching for, he intended to do something every bit as evil, if not more so! He wouldn't be one-upped by anyone!
The six Rangers teleported to just outside the Youth Center, then walked in like the normal kids they were underneath the armor of the Power Rangers. They took their usual seat inside, wondering just when Ernie's daughter would show up.
"I wonder what she's like," Kim leaned against Tommy a little, enjoying the feeling of his arms around her.
Jason shrugged. "Guess we'll find out when she gets here," he said. He was more than a little curious about the new arrival, however much he concealed it. He'd never really thought about Ernie having a family, though. It was possible, he knew, but it just wasn't something he could imagine their portly friend as doing, marrying, becoming a father. He wondered what his daughter would look like; he liked Ernie, but the cold facts were, in the looks department, he wasn't exactly the cream of the crop. _She'll be a nice person, though, and that's what really counts,_ he reminded himself.
"Oh, hey, Ernie!" the Red Ranger looked up as Zack called out the name. He turned to see the familiar Hawaiian-shirt clad figure coming towards them, and next to him. . .
His jaw almost literally dropped to the floor. She was exquisite. Almost as tall as he was, slender, toned muscles, long curling auburn hair, hazel eyes, and a face to die for. Everyone else was introducing themselves around, it was his turn almost before he realized it. "Uh. . uh. .I'm Jason," he actually managed to speak without stammering, though he was turning as red as his shirt.
Zack nudged Billy and whispered into his ear, "I think the Jase-man's in love!"
Billy chuckled a little, and nodded. "I believe you're right, Zack!"
"Everyone," Ernie smiled. "I'd like you to meet Kamaria Daniels, my daughter."
"Please, just call me Kami," she smiled warmly at them. Jason nearly melted right then and there at the sound of her voice.
_Oh, yes,_ he thought to himself. _Blade might've arrived to make things worse, but Kami makes it ALL better. . .please, just don't let her have a boyfriend!_
On the moon, Blade smiled. "Finally."
What does Blade mean by this? What else could she have in store for the Rangers? And what will Kami's role be in the future? For the answers to these and other questions, wait for "Distractions", #2 in the "True Light Saga". Coming as soon as I can write it!!