August 26, 1996
Plateau of Mystery
Mojave Desert, CA
It's hard to breathe. It's been less than ten minutes since the one place that I thought completely invulnerable to a direct assault by Rita and Zedd was blown sky high…literally. I can see the air visibly roiling with the heat waves emanating from the top of the mountainous plateau that the Command Center was situated on.
We lost. I still can't believe it, that these words are actually forming in my head. Despite all of the sacrifices that we've made—as did Jason, Trini, Zack, and Kimberly before us—as Power Rangers, despite risking the lives of the Aquitian Rangers and our own going on the Zeo Quest…
Somehow, those two evil menaces managed to pull off the plan of the century.
No more Power Rangers.
I don't know what to do, or how to deal with this all. As pathetic as it might seem, a part of me just wants to curl up in a ball and hide away. I know that I shouldn't feel this way—I am a Power Ranger after all, or was—but I can't help myself. I don't know how I'm going to get through this.
I look at Rocky and I have to fight the urge to run to him and curl up around him and cry into his shoulders, the way that I did when my mom got cancer when I was in the 2nd grade and Father had her shipped off to a private care facility unwilling to have to be bothered with her care because he was so busy.
That night I literally cried myself to sleep after running away to hide out at Rocky's place. He was so cool, he hugged me and let me curl into him and just cry and cry…
That same urge fills me now. But for a slightly different reason. I need something familiar, something sure to hang on to. And Rocky, he needs it too, I can tell. As stupid and girly as it sounds, it's probably the only thing that would keep us both sane at this moment. Rocky has always been my rock, the one person that I considered a part of myself.
He's so lost.
Anybody else—even Billy and the others, would think that he's bummed about the explosion, on pins and needles wondering about Zordon and Alpha, if they managed to survive…
But I see differently. I see it in the way his shoulders are set and the look of befuddled agony that is shining from his eyes. Yeah, he's definitely torn up about the mess we're in right now, and he's going to focus on that, but I know that the loss of the Command Center and possibly Zordon and Alpha 5 only compounds the more personal loss that he and I are suffering right now.
I know that in his heart of hearts, Rocky is struggling with the most significant loss of all.
She's gone, and God, I have to strain with everything in my body to hold back the desire to scream out my grief and rage…
I don't understand why she chose to willingly leave us behind. She's been my best friend, my sister in all but name and blood for nearly my entire life. I don't know how I would have survived all the way to high school if it wasn't for our fashion forward, mother bear. No matter how dark my life has been, she has always been there to knock some sense into me and keep my spirits up. As long as I had her and Rocky by my side, I never lost hope that as dark as my life was at times, things would eventually get better.
But now she's gone. And as I see Rocky try to hold it together, when I know he is literally about to burst apart with grief—
A part of me can't help but hate her a little.
I respect her choice to help that African tribe with the plague that is ravaging their village, to seek out her heritage and help protect the animals. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to choose to step away from us, from her duties as a Power Ranger. I know that she wouldn't callously rip herself from our lives without any trouble…
The only thing that I can do, is fight down my grief and pain, hold Rocky together and make it through this crisis we're in right now. After that, I have to get Rocky alone so he can let it all out. No matter how bad I feel about her being gone, he's got to be feeling a hundred times worse. But he's strong, stronger than I am for sure. He'll keep it together, for now.
Right now, we have to get to the remains of the Command Center and hope that somehow Zordon and Alpha managed to make it out alive. Because without them, we're doomed.
What do we do now?
I can't believe Rita and Zedd have won.
As I look around the ground where we were teleported to, littered with the smoldering wreckage of what used to be—in my opinion at least—the one place that Evil couldn't touch, I feel like there's no hope left. If those evil creatures could cripple us so much, what hope do we have of beating them back? What hope does the planet have?
I know that the Rangers in the past have faced similar situations to this. Tommy and Billy told me about the time that Tommy as the evil Green Ranger nearly destroyed the Command Center, Alpha and Zordon in a way much like this.
Somehow though, I thought that those incidents would have been a thing of the past now, that with the Zeo Crystal restored, the dark times would pass by. I thought that we would be one step closer to putting a permanent end to the evil of Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd for good.
What happens now? What hope do we have? The Crystal is gone, we have no Power, no Zords. Zordon ad Alpha might be…
I'm not going to finish that thought, it's too horrible to imagine…
I'm just glad that we're all relatively safe right now. Especially our new friend Tanya. She's about the only bright spot in this nightmarish situation. I can't believe how cool and collected she is right now, while the rest of us are running around with our heads cut off! She's absolutely incredible! I love and will dearly miss Aisha, we all will. Still, of all the potential candidates she could have sent to take her place, I'm just glad that she chose someone as terrific as Tanya. Assuming we make it out in one peace, I can wait to get to know her better…
We may be down, but Rita and Zedd are making a big mistake if they think that the Power Rangers are out. I believe that somehow we'll find a way out of this.
We've just got to…
This is so crazy, I definitely have no idea what I'm getting myself into. I've barely adjusted to the fact that I'm back in the United States—again, and that I'm now a part of a group of people fighting a hidden war against evil space aliens, and that I have two streams of thought running through my mind of where I was and what I was doing before whatever weird spell Master Vile cast to turn time back happened, and my thoughts now; now, we're standing amidst the wreckage of the base of the Power Rangers' operations to protect Earth.
Everything has been happening so fast...
Meeting Ahshalla's grand-niece Aisha, learning of her identity as a Power Ranger, taking her place in delivering the shard of the Zeo Crystal to reassemble it and break the evil spell…everything's seemed like such a strange dream.
Now it's like the scene of a nightmare…
Getting a first glance look at some of the evils that Aisha and her friends have been fighting for years was a terrifying moment for me. Not only were those two monsters ugly, I could 'feel' the darkness of their beings—in the manner taught to me by Ahshalla over the past few years that I've spent being sheltered by the tribe.
But nothing compares to the enormity of what I see in front of me now...
Twisted metal, blackened by fire litters the ground beneath our feet, even though we are hundreds of yards away from the site where the explosion took place moments ago. If any of us had been any closer to the epicenter of the blast…we would have been vaporized in seconds. Even as far below as we are, the waves of boiling heat roiling around us has me on my knees, gasping for breathable air.
Even though I've only just met Billy, Katherine, Adam, Tommy and Rocky—Aisha's closest friends—little more than an hour ago, strangely enough, I feel extraordinarily calm and at peace, knowing that they're here by my side. I know that their hurting so much. I feel so bad for all of them, especially for Billy. The look of utter loss on his face…
I hope, for all their sakes that some way, some how, Zordon and his robot assistant Alpha 5 managed to survive. Loosing them would crush my new friends.
But as I stare at the acrid smoke ascending from the charred remains of that strange, yet extraordinary place, I just don't see how.
Aisha, I hope that your prayers are ascending on your friends' behalf…
Oh Zordon, Alpha…may the Power that you speak of, be with you now…wherever you are…
I feel so lost.
I want to scream into the desert sun, and let myself fly apart. But I can't, not now. There's too much going on right now, and I know a meltdown from me is the last thing that the team needs at this moment.
I know that Adam understands me, he always has. I see him sending subtle looks in my direction, and I love him for getting me, for getting how messed up I'm feeling right now, how betrayed and how pissed off I am. I may not be the brightest crayon in the box, but I know that he's hurting too, almost as much as I am. I can see his fingers twitching, and if we make it out through this nightmare alive, I foresee an incredible amount of sleepovers and teary cuddles in our future.
The others, they don't get it. They won't understand why I'm fighting the urge to march up to the new girl, Tanya and holler abuse and curses in her face. Not because she's an awful person, God forbid. She seems like a spunky kind of gal. I'm sure in any other circumstance, I'd either flirt with her like crazy or go out of my way to make her feel welcome, like Billy has, or Katherine or even mi hermano, Adam.
But right now, all I can do is hate her, because of what she represents to my mind.
Aisha chose her, chose her tribe over the Power Rangers. Over her friends.
I don't know how I'll ever be able to forgive her for that, for what she and her people have taken from me.
I feel like an utter bastard. I don't think all of the Hail Marys and Our Fathers in the world could be enough to absolve me from the black rage and hate and grief that is choking the life out of me right now.
And I hate myself most of all.
Why, dammit? Why didn't I get the courage up to confess how I really felt to Aisha? Before she made such a irreversible choice? I had so many chances, so many years that I could have told her how I really felt about her.
But I was a coward. I played the funny man. The flirt, the one who's constantly chasing after girls and willing to go out with anyone except the one woman that I've been saving my body and my soul for.
And now, what? I'm too late.
And to make matters worse, I can't complain about it to anyone except perhaps Adam. Because I know how my girl thinks. I may not know exactly what happened in that African safari, but I know that if there had been any other way to get the Zeo sub-crystal, Aisha would have taken it in an instant. She'd never leave, not without at least talking to us, to me.
So I push down all of the bitterness, all of the sadness, all of the blind rage bubbling up inside and focus on giving a shaky smile to my spirit brother, and focusing on Tommy as he mentally runs through our collective options without the Zeo Crystal, without Zordon, or Alpha.
I'm going to fight. We're going to beat this thing and send Rita and Zedd packing once and for all.
No matter what, I won't let them have this victory.
For Aisha's sake, I'm going to do all I can to support the team.
It's what she would have wanted.
At the very least, I can give her that.
This can't be happening, this can't be happening, this can't be happening…
If there is a Deity of some kind out there, please don't let this be happening!
I—I don't know what to do.
How can we fix this?
The Command Center…it's completely totaled.
The one place that felt more like a home to me than my actual house.
And Zordon and Alpha…
I can't stop the wail that rips its way from my mouth as I look at the blackened plateau once dominated by that incredible Eltarean edifice. The pain I feel in my heart is so great, I can barely feel the surge of electrical energy still arcing through me; the only time I ever felt as broken and crushed by the world as I do now was when I placed a tulip inside the pine coffin where my mother resided in repose as a child.
For the first time in a long time, I feel utterly clueless.
That implosion was so powerful that it's energy is emanating even as far below the plateau as we are currently.
How could anyone, even someone as wise and powerful as Zordon survive such a destructive force? As jumbled as my brain is now, I still find myself attempting to run mental calculations of the percentage chance of Zordon surviving the detonation much less, Alpha.
From a practical standpoint, it's absolutely absurd to think that he could still be alive.
I can't operate from logic right now. All I can do is hope with every fiber of my being. My mind is being overrun with questions that I don't think anyone can begin to answer, let alone answer to my satisfaction.
The dominating ones are, how in the nine circles of hell did Goldar and Rito manage to skulk about in the Command Center completely undetected until the very moment when it was defenseless with us gone to see off the Aquitian Rangers and only Tanya and Alpha to guard the Zeo Crystal that had just been reconstituted only minutes ago?
And what do we do now, that we've lost the Crystal and given Rita and Lord Zedd everything they need to gain ultimate power and destroy the entire planet? How do we stop them?
Please, Zordon wherever you are, please be okay! Never did we need your words of wisdom and your guidance until now!
I failed myself, I failed Zordon, I failed my team…
I failed the Rangers who entrusted the fate of the planet, of their own lives as well as that of their families and friends…
I've failed the world…
Rita and Zedd have the ultimate power now, in the Zeo Crystal. They can raze this planet into the ground, and there's not a damn thing I, or any of the others with me can do to stop them.
Not if Zordon is really gone for good…
The scream that comes out of Billy's mouth at the sight of the charred remains tears at my soul. This has to be killing him.
Damn it! How could I have been so—so arrogant thinking that with our proper ages restored and the Hydro Hog destroyed, Rita and Zedd would slink off into their Palace and rage and wait to plot for another day? I used to serve Rita! I know the way she thinks! I should have known that the pair of them were playing a much longer game than we were…
Thank God, Kimberly is safely away from all of this. I miss her fighting by my side as the Pink Ranger, but never have I been as glad as I am now that she gave her Power to Kat. If she had been affected by all the craziness of the last couple of weeks, or God forbid, caught in the explosion…
I'd die. Simple as that.
I don't know where we go from here. The others are depending on me to keep it together, to figure out some kind of solution, but I just don't know how to go on.
But I have to try.
This might be the end of the Power Rangers, but I owe too much to Zordon, to Alpha, to Jason and Kimberly and my team to give up now.
But how do we protect the Earth now? How do we go on, without our powers? How do we stop Rita and Lord Zedd without Zordon backing us up?
I really don't know…but I do know one thing.
We're the Power Rangers.
Powers or no powers, we will find a way to save this world from destruction…