At first, the clearing is empty, save for a lone owl. Then the owl flaps its wings and the feathers blur and a woman stands there. She wears the traditional garb of a Phaedos Guardian and her staff rests easily in her hand. She nods once and steps forward. "I can see that you are here in search of the Great Power. It was a long journey, and most assuredly a hard one," she says.
Then she frowns sadly; sighing heavily, like a great weight rests on her bare shoulders, she says "I wish I could tell you that your journey will be easier from here on out." She straightens her shoulders and tightens the grip on her staff. "But it will not." She gestures towards a path behind her. "Come with me; if you truly wish to become a Power Ranger, there is much you must learn."
Ronny rubs her sweaty palms on her uniform pants. She still can't quite believe that she's going to be a Ranger again. Ever since Thrax showed up, there had been so many ups and downs. She spots Kira browsing the video games in the main living room and she smiles.
"Hey," she says, dropping down onto one of the love seats.
Kira looks up with a smile. "Hey! Ready to get back into it?"
Ronny nods, trying to hide her nervousness behind a smile. "So," she says slowly. "I couldn't help noticing that you're pretty laid back."
"Yeah?" Kira chuckles and sits down beside her. "Well, I guess it was that or snap and kill Conner and Ethan... Or Trent's rubbing off on me-" She coughs lightly, her cheeks flushing. "Okay, I swear that was less dirty in my head."
Ronny tries to smile at the joke, but it feels a bit tight. "I guess I was just trying to figure it out, the Sentinel Knight's choices, I mean." She turns towards Kira, curling a leg up under her body. "Like, maybe he was trying to do better the second time around?"
Kira smiles gently. "Or maybe he just needed people who could hold the fort until you guys got back," she says. She holds up her morpher, the yellow gem catching the sunlight and sparkling a bit before it shifts into a dinosaur head. "You probably didn't get a chance to look before, but there's no 'perfect Ranger' button on this thing."
"Yeah, okay, but-"
"Ronny," Kira says, resting a hand on Ronny's shoulder. "If there's one thing I've learned, it's that you can't spend all your time living up to what everyone else expects of you. That's the fastest way to lose yourself."
Ronny raises an eyebrow. "Just be myself?"
"Well, yeah. It's worked so far, right?"
"...Yeah, it has, hasn't it?" Ronny smiles.
Trini's parents expected her to excel at whatever she put her mind to. And they expected her to be the good, responsible girl. Her peers expected her to be the reliable one, the one you could always count on for tutoring or notes. Her friends expected her to help them understand Billy. And then there was Zordon; he expected her to save the world.
She was always moving from one set of expectations to another and she liked to think that she'd become skilled at navigating all those expectations with ease and calm. Then those expectations led to Sweden and the Peace Conference. And suddenly, all she had left were Zack and Jason. It was a flurry of orientations and meetings and speeches, they were only set loose for dinner and sleep. Trini didn't think about Rita once during that conference. She wanted to say that she was horrified by this, but she never truly was.
It was freeing and terrifying, to try to be herself without having to take into account all the expectations placed on her shoulders. They felt so very far away from Sweden. She'd floundered for a while, rebelling here and shirking there. She stayed close to Jason and Zack, but then, she realized that they were using each other as an excuse, a means to hide.
That was the day she took a deep breath and stepped out. She discovered that her skills at navigating expectations also made good moderating skills. She discovered that her ability to face her fears made her strong in the face of opposition. She discovered herself, and through her example, Jason and Zack also began to open up. They all stayed on afterwards, working with a group of other teens who were setting up a flow of peace conferences across the globe. When Tommy had called Jason back to Angel Grove, Trini had been surprised to feel no real envy or desire to follow him back.
She had made a place for herself here. And she was happy.
Then came Astronema's attack.
Trini watched as the incoming ships started firing on everything in sight. "Oh sure," said Zack, handing her a first aid kit. "They attack now that we finally got Hiro and Sasha to agree on something."
The screaming and running didn't phase Trini or Zack nor, strangely, the American reporter Kaitlin Star. Trini had simply nodded to the woman and went back to organizing the evacuation of the building. Between her, Zack and Kaitlin, they were able to hold the attacking aliens off until everyone had escaped. Trini and Zack fought like they used to, in sync with each other. Kaitlin also fought like a warrior trained in battle; it made Trini wonder.
Once outside, they ducked behind a wrecked car and tried to take it in. Aliens were marching down the streets, blasting anything that moved while more ships tore through the sky. Then Trini had turned to Zack and said, "we need to stop this."
No one answered the communicators. Zack and Trini took Kaitlin up on her offer to help them get back to the States. They'd just crossed the California border when the wave hit, and Trini knew then, without anyone telling her, that Zordon was gone. she'd hugged herself and thought of all the worlds she knew existed out there. The stories that Jason and Kim had told, and the ones Billy had told, before he left.
"Billy's out there on his own," said Zack softly.
Trini nodded. And surprised herself with what she said next. "Not for long. Remember what Kim said about that guy Ninjor?"
"Didn't we quit?" he asked, smiling wryly.
Trini let out a short laugh. "I don't think so. Not really. I don't expect we ever will."
Charlie stares at the bland walls of her transfer cell and wishes she had a set of paints on her. She could paint some unicorns stampeding over Gruumm for a start. Maybe some singing flowers. She hears the outer door sliding open and she looks over to see B Squad's Yellow Ranger, Z, walking up to her cell, holding a tray of food. Charlie raises her eyebrows at the other Ranger. She nods at Z's uniform. "They didn't promote you?"
Z gives her an annoyed look. "Well, we're still busy working out all the problems losing a whole squad of Rangers to greed causes." She smiles, a sharp edge to it. "How's the de-brainwashing going?"
Charlie narrows her eyes at Z's tone. "You should put a little more disbelief in your tone next time, Cadet. I almost thought you believed the truth there."
"Oh, I'm sorry," says Z insincerely, sliding the meal tray through the slot. "The fact that we actually have to abolish a whole rank just for you isn't enough?"
Charlie stays in her seat, making no move for the tray. "So, what? B Squad are the best of the best now?"
"We always were." Z smirks, crossing her arms.
"Wow." Charlie laughs, feeling the bitter edge of it cut deep. "You'd better be careful with that pedestal, kid."
"What?" Z tenses, eyeing her warily.
It's Charlie's turn to smirk. "The higher they shove you up there? The more it's gonna hurt when you fall off."
"Oh, like when you fell off and landed right in evil?" Z raises her chin defiantly.
Charlie laughs, feeling old and tired. "Yeah, just like that." She rests her head against the wall behind her. "You think you're the best out there? That you're going to be able to walk into the den of the biggest, baddest hard ass out there and take him on no sweat?"
"We took out Gruumm and-"
"And now you're the perfect Rangers? The perfect heroes that are going to save the entire universe and everyone's going to want to be you?" Charlie leans forward, willing this kid to actually hear her words. "So you got lucky once. You think that's going to keep going? Your whole team just charging off into the unknown together? And SPD the shining perfect institution backing you?"
Z steps back before she catches herself. "You don't know what you're talking about."
"I know that your Blue and Green got promoted, Yellow Ranger." She stresses the word yellow and Z flinches slightly.
"You're still wrong." Z glares at her hard. "And I don't see Red being the magical colour that saved you," she spits.
Charlie smiles, she doesn't need a mirror to know it's a hard, bitter one. She can see it from the doubt and confusion on Z's face. She stands slowly and practically glides up to the bars, leaning in close so the surveillance mikes won't pick it up. "And who told you that Cruger gave me the Red powers?" she whispers.
Z hesitates, then quickly backs away and stalks out the door.
Charlie laughs, feeling the hopelessness of it all. Even if she did convince the kid, just how was that going to help her own team? She picks up the drink from her meal tray, opening it and toasting the camera focused on her cell. "To landings," she says. "May hers be softer than mine."
Kim was the role model. She was the stable kid who handled her parents divorce with grace and understanding. She was the best example of a studious gymnast at Angel Grove's gym. She was the best cheerleader, even being as short as she was. And she was the first listed when people talked about the girl Power Rangers. She was the awesome girlfriend, even over long distance. She was the top choice for the Pan Globals.
She was human.
She hadn't wanted to fall for Peter, but he was just so different from everyone back home. He liked to laugh and poke at her. He liked to pick fights with her, not in the physical sense, but he liked to challenge her. When she almost kissed him, she'd gone home and written that letter to Tommy. Peter and her had lastest three months. Kim never regretted it.
She'd also never regretted getting so distracted with Peter that she lost her chance at the Pan Globals. When her coach wouldn't let that go, all the picking and remarks, Kim had left. She instead picked up a small coaching job in the urban areas. The pay was poor, as was the area, but she loved it.
Astronema attacked when Kim and her group were at the city wide meet. Kim had simply reacted, herding her girls towards the shelters. When three of the aliens had blocked the exit, Kim got in front of the girls and dropped into a ready stance. It may have been a while since she'd been in a fight, but she was the Ranger who'd held off the Terror Toad despite having the flu.
One of the heavy balls came flying from out of nowhere and took out one of the aliens. Kim glanced over quickly to see one of the assistant coaches there, a group of girls huddled behind her. "McCormick, right?" asked Kim.
The girl smiled. "Call me Jo."
Kim nodded. "Kim. Let's get our girls out of here."
"Right," said Jo, cracking her knuckles. "Girls? No trying this kind of thing until you've passed my self-defence course."
Kim smirked at the aliens. "Ditto."
They attacked. Jo was a good fighter, though more of a brawler than a martial artist. Between the two of them, they had the aliens down within minutes, and took out the few others who were rushing in from outside.
Mary, one of Kim's newest students, stared at the pile of unconscious aliens with wide eyes. "Miss Hart? Are you some kind of super hero?"
Kim smiled softly, remembering the weight of a small gold coin. "No, sweetie. I'm just me." She straightened up and nodded to Jo. "And we need to get to the shelter now."
Later, Zordon's wave hit Earth and Kim realized what had happened. And then Trini called and she thought long and hard about what she should do. She'd given up the power, all those years ago, and there were times when it felt like a lifetime ago. She didn't regret it. Every decision she'd made since then was based on doing what she thought was right. She didn't think this one should be any different. She told Trini yes.
Taylor paces the clearing angrily. She glares up at the top of the cliff where the Red Lion is resting. A small, childish part of her wants to throw a few rocks at it, even if she knows it won't change anything. Her Eagle shrieks as he circles the air above; he can sense Taylor's upset, but doesn't understand the cause. Taylor sighs in frustration and kicks a rock off into the forest.
"Taylor?" Princess Shayla steps quietly into the clearing, eyeing her worriedly.
Taylor crosses her arms. "I don't want to talk about it," she bites out.
The Princess nods and sits down on a log nearby. "Very well..."
"Good," Taylor says. She feels restless and starts pacing again. She can feel the Princess watching her worriedly. "We don't need more help," she snaps. "We're doing fine with just the two of us. I don't care what the White Tiger says!"
"Yes," says the Princess agreeably. "You've been doing a wonderful job."
With that, Taylor feels a bit of her anger slide away from her. It's not the Princess' fault that Taylor can't do her job. "No I haven't, and that's the problem."
"That Tire Org," Taylor sighs heavily. "If you hadn't been there..."
The Princess rises from her seat and crosses the clearing to rest a hand on Taylor's arm. "But don't you see? This is why you need more Rangers. No matter how great a warrior you are, Taylor, you can't do this alone. Doing so always leads to pain and loss." She has a distant and sad look in her eyes.
Taylor rests her own hand against the Princess' arm. The Princess smiles softly, and the sadness eases a touch. "But I'm not alone, I have you," Taylor says.
The Princess shakes her head. "I'm no warrior." She raises her hand to silence Taylor's protest. "You need a team. Even the strongest warrior can fall if she has no one to catch her."
"Can't save the world on my own?" Taylor smiles ruefully.
The Princess doesn't smile back, but her eyes have a warmth to them now. "It's a very big world."
Taylor sighs. "All right," she says, watching her Eagle's flight slow from a hunting flight to a gliding one. "Did the White Tiger at least tell us where we can find this guy?"
"Yes," says the Princess, smiling now. "We can find her at the Turtle Cove University."
Aisha was going to save the world. From itself, from aliens, from well, anything and everything. It had been true before she'd met Zordon and it had been true afterwards. When she'd gone after the Zeo crystal, she hadn't felt burnt out or ready to retire. If anything, she'd felt more charged up than ever. And when she'd seen all the sick animals, she knew right then that she wasn't going back to Angel Grove until this was done.
She hadn't regretted it. But saving the animals was hard work and Aisha lacked a lot of training when it came to these things. She learned fast and the doctors and nurses weren't about to turn down any pair of helping hands. Master Vile's tampering with time screwed up a lot of things; Aisha's memories of the plague conflicted a lot. She could easily recall growing up with the tragedy and remembering holding a dying lion cub when she was sixteen.
The doctors found a cure, and Aisha was one of the many who spent hours and days finding ways to inoculate and vaccinate and risk life and limb to get medicine and antidotes into wild animals that would most likely attack their saviours. She was in the lower ranks of the teams, having no formal schooling in veterinary work.
In the end, it was over and the doctors were celebrated and the rest were cheered but never named. Aisha never minded that; she'd never been in it for the fame. But she didn't really know what to do with herself afterwards. She spent a year connecting with her new home, taking correspondence courses and keeping in touch with her old friends.
Then Astronema attacked. Aisha had been acting as a tour guide for a young man named Swinton Sawyer, who was out looking for his family's roots, and Swinton's friend Drew Vincent. They kept whispering about an unexpected power portal when they thought she was out of earshot though, and Aisha's Ranger senses were pinging at her. And then they saw the meteorite racing through the sky. It crashed a few miles away and Aisha's instincts started screaming louder.
"I found it," whispered Swinton deadpan before Drew hushed him.
"We need to check that crash," said Aisha firmly. "It's been dry all season; we can't afford a fire."
Reluctantly, the other two had followed her. To their shock, they found a thirteen year old boy and a strange ape-like alien. The boy looked up and Aisha gasped. "You're Justin Stewart," she said, pointing at him.
Justin blinked in surprise. The alien stepped forward and trilled at her urgently. That's when the other aliens attacked. When she looked back on that moment, Aisha always wanted to say that she hesitated. That she'd put being a Ranger behind her and that she'd become just another ordinary teen. She hadn't hesitated though. She'd ducked, kicked and taken out three aliens before Justin could even drop into ready stance.
She'd heard Drew and Swinton running off, but she'd put it out of her mind. Civilians always ran away; it was the Rangers that charged forward. Justin dropped into a ready stance beside her. "We have to protect Lerigot," he said.
Aisha rolled her eyes, because duh. "So keep up, kid. You're talking to the second Yellow Ranger, here."
Justin grinned and they moved as one. The aliens never had a chance. Then Lerigot groaned weakly. "We have to get him out of the sun!"
Aisha eyed the battlefield. A couple of space ships were landing and releasing more of the aliens.
"Come on!" shouted Drew. Aisha turned and blinked at the masked fighter running towards them. The fighter levelled a trident at the aliens and knocked the first wave off their feet with a blast.
Between the three of them, they got Lerigot to a portal that a second masked fighter was guarding. And then they were standing in a large dark chamber. "Wow, deja vu," said Aisha, remembering her first time in the Command Center. She turned to the second fighter. "Interesting roots you have, Swinton," she said with a smile.
Swinton spluttered. "How-?"
"Ah, a pair of Zordon's Power Rangers," said the strange alien in the centre of the room. "You choose your travel companions well, Lerigot."
Lerigot muttered something weakly and sank down on the floor.
"My name is Nimbar," said the alien. "Come, I can help him."
Lerigot was just getting out of the recovery unit when Zordon's wave hit. Aisha felt tears well up in her eyes when she realized what had happened. Lerigot said something mournfully and looked at her with a mixture of sympathy and sorrow. She tried to smile her thanks.
"So, that's it?" said Justin tentatively, glancing from her to Drew, who was on duty. "We won?"
"Gorganus is still alive," said Nimbar softly.
Aisha wiped at her eyes. "He won't be the only one, will he?" She gave Lerigot a knowing look. He closed his eyes sadly.
Justin sighed. "Well, I meant it, Lerigot," he said. "I may be the only Turbo Ranger on active duty, but I'm still going with you."
"So am I," said Aisha firmly. "We need to stop by Angel Grove first. Zordon's files on potential Rangers should still be there." She knew she was going to do this, just like she knew she was going to send Tanya home with the Zeo crystal.
"Uh, maybe not," said Justin, rubbing the back of his neck. "Divatox blew up the Command Center about a year ago."
"Doesn't matter," Aisha said. "There were back-ups in case this happened. Billy showed them to us when we first became Rangers. We just need to get to Angel Grove and we can get you a team." At Justin's surprised look, she rolled her eyes. "What? You can't do this on your own. Rangers come in teams for a reason."
Lerigot said something that sounded like he was agreeing with her and then pulled out a small wand. He closed his eyes and chanted. A warm golden glow enveloped Aisha and when it faded, she was morphed.
She stared at her suit in surprise. "Pink?" she said incredulously. "Aw, man! You couldn't have given me Yellow?" Lerigot stared at her serenely. Aisha sighed. "Kat's never going to stop teasing me about borrowing her clothes now."
"So that makes two of us," said Justin.
Aisha nodded. "It's a start. So?" She looked from Justin to Lerigot and grinned. "What are we waiting for? Let's go get the rest of our team and save the galaxy."
Udonna looks up to see Madison walking slowing into Rootcore, her eyes fixed firmly on what she'd called her video camera. Udonna was still having trouble grasping the concepts of all this Earth technology that her new Rangers used so easily. At least the technology in Rootcore itself came from the Minotaurs, so it was somewhat familiar. Udonna had not been a part of the team who created Daggeron's powers, but she knew more than the average citizen.
Madison keeps walking until she reaches Udonna and then stops, her eyes still focused on the video camera. "Udonna?" she asks.
Udonna smiles warmly at her and puts her book down. "Yes, Madison?"
"Well..." Madison bites her bottom lip nervously. "I was wondering if I could interview you."
"Interview me?" asks Udonna with a laugh. She tries to picture the forest dwellers settling down long enough to watch one of those film things. "What ever for?"
Madison shrugs. "Not for public record or anything, just kind of a private archive. A history of our Mystic Rangers."
Udonna doesn't think this is the entire truth, but she's not quite sure what Madison's getting at yet. Instead of pressing that matter, she says as gently as she can. "Our history as Rangers starts with me and, so far, ends with you and your friends."
"W-Well, the Mystic Warriors too. I mean. All of us who use the Mystic Force." Madison flushes and stares very intently at her video camera.
It only takes her an instant, but Udonna decides that now is not the time to explain that every living being uses and is connected to the Mystic Force. Magical use is more about being able to channel and manipulate that force. Instead, she says, "All right. What would you like to know?"
"Okay, how about telling us a bit about the team before us," says Madison, still looking a bit flustered. "Like, what was the Blue Mystic Warrior like?"
Ah, Udonna's thought right, that's what this is about. Out loud she says, "Morra was a good woman and a brave warrior." She pauses, taking the time to gather her thoughts. Madison sits down beside her slowly, waiting. "Actually, she reminds me a bit of Nick," adds Udonna with a fond smile.
Madison looks up at Udonna in surprise. "Nick? But his element is fire!"
Udonna smiles. "Yes, it is."
"But-" Madison glances down at her video camera, forehead wrinkled in confusion.
"But you're nothing like that?" Udonna finishes for her. Madison flushes again. She opens her mouth to protest, but Udonna beats her to it. "There is no one true way to master an element and use it in battle."
Madison looks up at her. "But you're always teaching us about the past. To learn from it."
"Learn from it, yes." Udonna nods. "Copy it exactly, no."
"Water is many things. It can be a steady moving river with hidden waterfalls. It can be a deep ocean with deadly undercurrents. It can be a life giving spring that travels the world."
Madison shakes her head softly.
Udonna clasps her shoulder. "You are not Morra, and you're not supposed to be. You are supposed to be Madison Rocca of Earth. To be anyone else, well, you would no longer fit so easily and seamlessly into your team. You were chosen because you're you."
Madison stares at her camera, turning it around in her hands. "But, I'm... well..."
"Someone who followed her sister and friends into possible danger and death, even when you had no powers?" offers Udonna. "Someone who provides a calming influence on her team mates? Someone who listens?"
Madison flushes again, but Udonna sees her mouth quirking up just a touch. "I still want to do the interview," she says, looking up. "Just to hear their stories."
Udonna smiles. "Very well. Then let me begin with the time Morra kept stuffing frogs into Daggeron's bed."
Madison grimaces. "Ugh, frogs."
Kat replaced Kimberly. When she was under the influence of an evil spell, she'd tried to do it on purpose, and failed. When she was freed from the spell, she'd done it successfully, only this time, not at all on purpose. And at first, it felt like her whole life had become one continuous moment of replacing Kim unintentionally. One of her best memories of the old days was overhearing Bulk and Skull arguing over a tape measure because Skull was insisting that the Pink Ranger was taller now and Kat was so happy that someone had noticed something, anything, was different.
Looking back on it, Kat can't pinpoint the moment when it stopped being about Kim. Oh, sure, there were times when she'd forgotten about it, stopped mentally comparing herself or waiting for one of the others to voice the comparison, but there was never some clear shining moment where she suddenly realized that she was herself and not Kim's replacement. Changing powers had helped, but so did being turned into a kid, and many small moments scattered through her time holding the powers.
Kim hadn't been in the back of her mind when Kat had started focusing more on her ballet. And even seeing Kim again in Maligore's chambers, she'd been more worried about her friend than anything else. She did think about Kim when she'd turned over her Turbo powers to Cassie. She found herself hoping that Cassie wouldn't feel like she had, like a replacement trying to live up to a legend, and she'd found herself understanding Kim's side of things just a bit more now that she had a legacy of her own for someone to live up to.
But she'd moved on. Working hard at her ballet and eventually wound up doing some work in Ireland of all places. Which is when Astronema attacked. Kat had been out wandering the countryside near Meath when the initial ships flew by, leaving alien ground troops in their wake. Kat had tossed her bag aside and called her Zeo Morphers without even thinking.
Taking out the first few caught the attention of others and Kat quickly found herself outnumbered. Then a small whirlwind came from out of nowhere and knocked several of the aliens down. It was enough of a distraction for Kat. "Power Shield!" She charged her shield and used the force to knock down the remaining aliens.
When she looked over towards the direction the whirlwind had come from, she saw a woman in armour and wielding a crossbow standing there. Kat nodded to her and the woman nodded back. "I thought Pink Power Rangers had bows and arrows?" asked the woman, with a grin.
Kat smiled and hefted her shield. "Not all of us."
The woman held out her hand. "I'm the Air Mystic Knight of Tir na nÓg."
"Power Ranger Zeo One," said Kat, shaking the Knight's hand.
Suddenly a small fairy flew up. "Princess! The others need your help in the city!"
"I'll come with you," said Kat.
The Knight nodded. "Always glad of an extra pair of hands."
The ensuing battle was long, but the Mystic Knights were creative. When Kat finally had time to catch her breath, she picked a quiet corner to try and contact one of the other Rangers. And that's when Zordon's wave hit. And she knew. She sagged a bit, sitting down hard.
"What was that?" asked the Earth Knight, staring up at the sky.
Kat sighed and stood up. "The sacrifice of a great warrior for good."
"So it's all over then?" the Air Knight asked, sounding a bit doubtful.
"No," said Kat, smiling sadly. "The worst is over, for Earth. For now. But I have to go. There's people off-planet that-" She blew out a frustrated breath. She thought of Trey, out there alone; of Archerina and Gasket who might have been out of range; Master Vile and his power. "I have to help make sure it really is over."
"Well then," said the Air Knight, holding out her hand. "Gó n-eirigh an bothar leat."
Kat shook her hand, not quite understanding the phrase, but she recognized the intent. "And may the Power protect you," she returned.
Cassie fiddles with the morphing key in her hand. She's still having trouble believing that it's really supposed to be hers. She glances over at the other girl in the room, Ashley, and gives her a tentative smile. "Pretty crazy, huh?"
Ashley nods, clutching her own morphing key. "Yeah, it's been a crazy day."
"I hear ya," says Cassie with a laugh. "I was on my way to Stone Canyon for a singing career."
"Hey, that's cool," Ashley says. "I was just trying to survive a monster attack."
Cassie shakes her head in confusion. "I still can't believe it. I mean, me? A Power Ranger?"
"I know!" Ashley shifts so she's facing Cassie. "I mean, I know you're not from around here, but they're legends! Some of the things they've done. I don't know if I could ever manage it."
"You have doubts in your abilities?" asks Dimitria as she flickers back into existence in the room.
Cassie shrugs. "Well, I mean. I don't even know if I'm a good enough singer, never mind saving the world."
"I wasn't the only person helping people," says Ashley. "Why me and not someone with more training?"
"I see." says Dimitria. "And if, someone had come up to you and told you that you were not worthy of being Power Rangers, would that have prevented you from helping those people?" She looks at Cassie. "Or helping Tommy and Katherine?"
"But," Cassie shares a puzzled look with Ashley, "they needed help."
Ashley nods. "Those kids were really scared," she says softly.
Dimitria doesn't say anything for a moment. "There were others there, could they not have helped?"
"Well, yeah," says Ashley. "But I just..."
"Had to help," finishes Cassie. "But that doesn't mean I should be a Power Ranger."
Cassie can't think of a clear way to put it. She looks over at Ashley for help. Ashley is fiddling with her morphing key again. Then she looks up and meets Cassie's gaze. "I don't know if I'm worthy of this, but I think I want to try."
"I..." Cassie stares down at her own morphing key. "I should give this back and get a bus to Stone Canyon," she says slowly. And then she remembers TJ with his own morphing key and that excited grin on his face. She can't just abandon her friend. "But I haven't been listening to me all day; why should I start now?"
Tanya had never expected to be a Power Ranger. She'd heard of them, sure, but they were so far away and so utterly different than the concerns of her immediate world. And then Aisha had shown up and changed that whole world. Tanya had stepped through that portal and felt like a small fish who'd accidentally found the ocean.
It had taken her time to find her footing. She'd had to adapt to so much, struggling with fitting in at school, adjusting to the differences in culture, learning to fight so that she could be more effective in stopping the Machine Empire. Trying to be a good Ranger was hard at first, because Tanya had so much changing around her that she wasn't even sure who she was, never mind what she was.
And then one day, Tanya looked back and realized that she'd come out the other end of that confusion and struggle. It had been a gradual progress, but it had happened just the same. She'd helped defeat the Machine Empire, found her parents, passed on the Turbo powers, had a growing singing career, and she was happy.
Astronema attacked when Tanya just finished up her gig in New York for the day. First the building shuddered and then there was chaos. Aliens swarmed into the club and Tanya grabbed her mike stand. She kicked off the bottom and separated the two main sections so she had weapons, and leapt into the fray.
Soon she was fighting back to back with one of the entertainment reporters. Tanya looked at her in confusion. "April O'Neil? Don't you usually handle the crime stories?"
April grinned and smashed a chair over an alien's head. "I was covering for Tara Swift, flu bug. Looks like I've got my own story instead."
Tanya chuckled. The two of them started to fight their way outside. Tanya gasped when she got a good look at the sky. "That's not good," she said, eyeing the flying ships.
"Crap," muttered April. "Where's a Power Ranger when you need one?"
Tanya hesitated and then glanced around. No one was watching. "Off the record?" she asked. Trey had assured them that the Zeo powers weren't gone and she was counting on that right now.
April squinted at her. Tanya could see her putting the pieces together. "So off the record, it's like I was a scientist, not a reporter at all," she said with a grin.
Tanya grinned back and called her morphers. "Zeo Ranger Two, Yellow!"
There was an explosion behind them and Tanya ducked, pulling April in front of her, acting as a human shield.
"Crap!" said a young Goth girl, as she staggered away from the blast. She was wearing some kind of armour with a large pack on her back. "Janine, you okay?"
An older red headed woman came close behind, carrying another large pack with a hose on it. "I've had better days."
"Ghostbusters?" said April, standing up. "What happened? Is this another portal to the ghost realms that opened?"
The Goth shook her head. "It's not us."
"But you're out here any ways," said Tanya, smiling to herself. A hero was a hero, no matter what the suit looked like.
"Woah," said the Goth girl. "You're a Power Ranger!" She shook her head to bring herself back on track. "We were using the Ecto flyers. The proton streams are ideally just for trapping ghosts, but we were able to up the output, give us a better weapon to take down some of these hostiles."
"Except they shot us down first," said Janine in annoyance. "We need a new flyer."
"Would a news chopper do?" asked April.
The Goth girl grinned. "That would be perfect."
"Until we get shot down like last time," said Janine. She glanced down the street at all the fleeing people and the aliens running around. "If we even get there."
"Hey," said Tanya, patting her blaster. "This isn't just for show. Just grab some pipes and follow me."
"Deal," said the Goth girl. "I'm Kylie." She pointed to Janine. "And that's Janine."
"Zeo Ranger Two," said Tanya.
April looked around at the rest of them. "You guys watch the news right? I don't have to introduce myself?"
Tanya laughed. "Let's go."
Between the proton packs, Tanya's weapons and April's flying, they did some serious damage. The next day, Tanya was still helping with cleaning up the ground patrols when Zordon's wave hit. Tanya reeled when it all sunk in, just what had happened. Then she reached for her communicator, she knew what she had to do.
Dulcea is sitting peacefully at the camp. She looks up and smiles warmly. "Welcome, Power Rangers." She gestures to the seats in front of her. "You have successfully completed your quest for the Great Power."
She leans forward, her gaze searching. "You were meant to hold these powers, in this life, with this team. You were always meant to be a Ranger, and you always will be one. With or without power, nothing will change that and no one can take that from you.
"There are a great many expectations placed upon heroes, most so high that no one could ever hope to live up to them. You must hold true to yourself above all else. And you will make mistakes, but do not let that shake your steps. You are a Ranger for a reason.
"No two Rangers ever take the exact same path, even when serving on the same team," Dulcea says, slowly standing up. "Other possessors of the power have experience and are good examples, but your path is your own and no one else's.
"I know you are anxious to be on your way." Dulcea walks up closer, standing tall and proud. "But before you leave Phaedos, there is one question you must answer first." She smiles, her eyes warm and confident, as if she already knows the answer she will hear.
"Are you ready to save the world?"