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Husband and Wife

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Rocky blinked twice.  Had his helmet been off, he would have scratched his head.  Instead, he clicked his tongue, pressing his hands on his hips.  What just happened here? he thought to himself.  He cocked his head at Adam, who was beside him.  Adam looked at Rocky at almost the same time.

“Did that make any sense to you?” Rocky asked his lover.

Adam shook his head.  “None,” he said, returning his gaze to the place Jason had been.  “He just left w—”

“Kim!” Billy said sharply, his eyes hitting on Kimberly’s limp body behind Tommy.  Demorphing, he crossed and knelt beside her on one stride.

“Is she okay?”  Tommy asked, spinning 180 degrees.  Having teleported in front of the door, Tommy had not seen Kimberly.  Kneeling before her, he cracked a smile.  She rose onto her elbows.  “Kim?  That looks nasty.”

He pointed at the three inch wide hole that had been punctured into her helmet along the upper right side of her cranium.  Blood leaked from the gash carved into her scalp.

“I think I’m okay…” Kimberly began, rocking her head, her eyes unfocused.  She couldn’t feel the gash, only the throbbing of her capillaries as blood raced to her head, resulting in a continuous head rush.  “What are you guys doing here?”

“Sean contacted me,” Billy said, removing her helmet with neutral eyes.

“How—how did he know?” she asked unable to meet his eyes.  It hurt too much to lift hers.

“He didn’t say,” Billy said, setting her helmet aside without taking his eyes off of her, scrutinizing her wound.  “My guess, he was doing reconnaissance.  It’s what he does.”

“Why did he not help?” Kimberly wheezed.

“Kim, take it easy,” Billy soothed.  “Just breathe.”

Still woozy, Kimberly faltered.

Suddenly, an idea popped through Tommy’s mind.  He tapped Billy on the shoulder.  “Billy,” Tommy whispered.  “She has a point.  Where is he?”

“I don’t know, Tommy,” Billy whispered back.  “I wish I did.”

Suspicion flickered once within Tommy’s mind, but he snuffed it out, turning his attention away from the shadow that thought had cast in his memory.  He had no real evidence to suggest Sean was treacherous, and his gut reinforced these conclusions.  Tommy was more concerned than anything.  He did not know what Jason was capable of, and Sean had not looked well when they had parted.  Those facts made him uneasy.  Regardless of Tommy’s doubts, Sean was a power ranger.  That cleared his name in Tommy’s book.  And right now, they needed him— along with the rest of his team.

He darted his head around the room.  “Kimberly,” Tommy said softly, bending his head towards her.  “Where’s Zack?”

Kimberly lifted her eyes at Tommy.  “I don’t know—Trini!”  She pushed herself up, but sat down immediately with an enormous groan.  Her throbbing head began pounding excruciating.  Moaning, she clamped her eyes shut.

“Hey, take it easy,” Tommy said, placing his hands upon her shoulders.  He looked at her firmly, even though she could not see his face behind his mask.  However, she yielded.  Tommy turned his head around.  “How is she, guys?”

Rocky, who was closest to the bed, knelt beside Trini.  “Trini…?” he asked, searching her with his eyes.

She shot a glance at him, and then with a rough shiver, she recoiled from him, shivering.

“It’s probably the color,” Adam supplied, placing a hand on Rocky’s upper arm.

Rocky glanced at Adam, nodded, and took off his helmet.  He did not yet know how to demorph by will.  The last time he had demorphed was by reflex.  “Trini, are you still afraid of me?” he asked, his face a whirlpool of compassion and worry.  “It’s me:  Rocky.”

In the back of his mind, Rocky grimaced.  Adam had always been the better of the two at hiding his feelings.  He should be doing this, he thought.

Trini held a wide-eyed stare with Rocky.  Yet unlike Rocky’s face, hers constantly trembled.  Her pupils darted at various parts of Rocky’s face.  Still trembling, she opened her mouth.  “Get out!” she whispered, pressing her eyebrows together even though her eyes were still wide open.

The rest of them froze.  Even Kimberly heard Trini’s command, yet she was too stunned and woozy to move.

Rocky gawked.  He stammered incoherently, fishing for something to say, yet nothing came to mind.

“Get… out!” Trini repeated with a stonier face.

“But—”

“GET OUT!” Trini roared, venom spewing with her words.  “GET OUT!  GET!  OUT!”

Standing up, Rocky shuffled backwards a few feet, still locked in eye contact with Trini.  His mouth hung open in amazement.

A hand tugged at Rocky’s shoulder.  “Rocky, move!” Adam hissed in Rocky’s ear.  Reluctantly, Rocky followed Adam’s sway.

“Can you stand, Kim?” Adam asked as they got nearer to her.

“I don’t know,” Kimberly began, taking Billy’s outstretched hand.  “Maybe…”

“GET OUT!” Trini snarled.

Billy and Tommy’s heads snapped toward Trini.  Kimberly craned her eyes at the bed post.  The words stabbed them at their cores.  It was unthinkable for them to hear such agony, hostility, and pleading from Trini.  None of them had seen her in this state before.  Indeed, they hardly recognized her.  Rocky and Adam flicked their gaze from their friends and Trini, unsure of what to say.

“Did you not hear me?!”  Trini spat.  “I said ‘get out!’” Reaching behind her, she hurled one of her pillows at them.  “NOW!!!” she added in a voice cracking shriek.

“Hey!” Rocky cried indignantly, deflecting the pillow.

Trini screamed in response—a scream injected with a wail.  It pierced her chest and her skull with ungodly anguish.  She arched her back backward, her arms cradling her torso and legs as if she did not want to lose any other part of her body.  Her core was gone; all she had was her body—but no.  Jason had robbed that from her also.  Not even her mind was her own possession.  She crumbled to her side in a fit of tears and sobs, her hands drifting from her torso.

Kill me… kill me…!

The others looked on with horror and pity on their faces.  Even Kimberly was able to partially forget her wound.

Agony… suffering… torture….

Those were only words to the others.  What they saw was true pain from the soul.  Jason had invaded this house—this room—and violated her body while she was still in a state of woe and confusion.

“Let her be, rangers,” Sean called from down the hall.  His voice was weak but compelling enough to draw their attention.

The others turned, Billy assisting Kimberly.

There, no more than ten feet from them, stood Zack holding Sean up with an arm around the Green Ranger’s waist.  Sean stood, half hanging with his arm around Zack’s shoulders. 

“Do what?” Kimberly asked.

“Leave her alone,” Sean said.  His face was worn, stretched, and old.  Every worry line and sag in his face was pronounced even more.  “She must mourn.  You can do nothing for her now.”

Some of them turned their heads back at Trini.

Billy kept his eyes on Sean.  He had caught the remorse seeping through Sean’s words.  Though Billy had had suspicions already, this proved that this day had taken its toll on Sean in more ways than one.

To say that Sean looked like hell would have been an understatement.  His clothes were soaked and half covered in mud along with half of his face.  His hair was rumpled and held in place by congealed mud.  The strength that he had presented hours ago at Rocky and Adam’s Academy was almost completely gone, leaving only a shadow of what he had been.  Yet despite his physical discomforts, Sean still beckoned them with a mastery and discipline of his spirit that emphasized a deeper inner strength which shined through the shell of his body.

Billy was impressed, and silently commended his friend and mentor.  Sean had never been this fatigued while with Billy, and yet, Billy got the impression that if Sean had needed to defend himself, he would be able to with ease.  His body was exhausted, not his spirit.  However, it was clear that his heart was in pain for his whole body cried at hearing Trini’s wails and screams.

“Please,” Sean said.  “She doesn’t want people around her.  And people are not what she needs now.”

“Guys, listen to him,” Zack interjected.

Kimberly pinned her gaze at Zack.  You changed your mind quickly, she mused.

“Then what does she need?” Tommy asked, uncertain if his heart could stand more strain.

Sean took a deep breath and shut his eyes.  With a great effort, he pulled his eyes open.  “Time, White Ranger,” Sean answered, looking into Tommy’s face.  “Only time.”

Chapter Text

Stretching his back to its full length, Jason rolled his shoulders, his eyes stiffening into a pensive stare nowhere in particular within the vacant Chamber of Command.  Shadows cast by Zedd’s slowly revolving fan crawled along the opposite wall, the foot and a half high floor fog, Zedd’s dais and throne with Jason’s immobile shadow at their center.  Yet this held only a scrape of Jason’s attention.

The feeling of accomplishment and triumph he had been relishing in after raping Trini had been quickly wiped away by his encounter with Kimberly.  He glanced at the floor, replaying in his mind what had occurred when he had shot Kimberly with his second barrage of fireballs.

That shouldn’t have happened, he thought to himself, at least not so soon.  Weird… and to think…it happened with her?  He uttered a low chuckle, cracking half a smile.  But then again it’s not surprising.  She was always strong spirited.  But what was she doing there?  How did she know I was in that room?

Jason’s smile melted back into the concrete now molding his face.  Faint anxiety pumped within his heart, spewing out blood quicker.  He had no doubt that Sean was thinking about those same questions.  For that reason, it was imperative that Jason determine those answers as fast as possible.  Perhaps he could use them to his advantage.

Meanwhile accompanied by her minions on the balcony, Rita, who had just turned to say something to Lord Zedd, caught Jason out of the corner of her eye.

“Ahh!” she announced triumphantly, bowing to her master, “Our brave and powerful Monarch has returned!”  Finster, Goldar, Scorpina, Squatt and Baboo turned around.  Spotting Jason, they bowed.

Jason lifted his head and looked at her, immediately submerging his pondering underneath a mask of relaxed and polite incredulity.  Rita did not register Jason’s previous expression.

“Rita, is that all you can say?” Zedd chided at her, bowing as well.

She shot him a dirty look.  However, Zedd ignored her.

Raising his left hand, he conjured an alloy goblet of smoking potion from white energy coursing through his tubes.  No sooner had he finished, he charged his staff with white lighting and seven bolts coursed from the Z on top of it to each of his companions’ right hands, providing the same drink for all of them.  “A toast, everyone!” Zedd announced, laughter bellowing behind his words.  “To the Supreme Monarch of Evil for devastating one of the power rangers to the point of self-revulsion!  JASON LEE SCOTT!” he finished, chorused by his minions.

The hair along the back of Jason’s neck sprung erect with distant pleasure.  He had done it!  Jason had launched a campaign against a team of power rangers (his old friends at that), and had succeeded!  A faint echo of his previous joy surged through his spine up into his brain, spilling drops of endorphins back into his bloodstream.

However, even though he had succeeded with his task, he had not fully won.  He would only succeed completely once Trini was in his gasp.  That time would come soon.  All he needed was patience.  In the meantime, he could discover Kimberly’s mystery.

Rita took another swig from her goblet, her eyes sweeping the rest of her companions.  Goldar and Scorpina were still waving their swords in the air towards Jason, shouting cheers of celebration.  Squatt, Baboo, and Finster were clapping as well as they could while each holding a goblet.

Rita snorted, torn between annoyance and glee.  She could not deny that it was indeed a rarity for Evil to ensure such an enormous victory over Good.  Not only that, but they had never seen a ranger team in such a state of devastation.  For that, Rita was willing to keep from retorting to Zedd’s slight on her.  But she would not forget it.  Mustering her composure, she raised her glass to Jason again.

“I’m glad you succeeded, my Lord,” she said, injecting as much genuine sincerity into each word as was possible without betraying her aggression.

Jason lifted the goblet to his nose and sniffed it.  He cocked a smile.  It was one of his favorites:  an ancient concoction from a planet two star systems away.  Unfortunately, this was not the time to celebrate even though the desire to do so tugged at his gut.  Instead, he lowered the goblet and lifted his free hand in a motion to silence his minions.

“Thank you for the honor, but we have a problem,” he said, his tone cutting through his minions’ mirth.  He crossed his arms.

His minions gawked at him in silence for several seconds.

“I don’t understand, my Lord,” Finster began, once he had judged that Rita and Zedd were not going to speak.  “You achieved an enormous victory.”

“Yes, I did,” Jason said, his tone unchanged.  “It was… exhilarating.”  A drop of mirth slipped through his voice as he said the final word and he held onto it, savoring it as if it was piece of tender marinated steak.

“Then forgive me, my Lord, I fail to understand—”

“You saw what happened when I attacked Kimberly?” Jason cut across Finster, his mirth evaporated.

“She won’t be able to cover up that scar,” Rita squealed with laughter.  She had always been jealous of Kimberly’s aspirations, which had driven her to end Kimberly’s gymnastics career all those years ago.

“When I shot at her again, Rita!” Jason cut across her in an icy tone.

Rita froze with her face stretched in mid-laugh, making her look like a stupefied clown.  “Oh!” she finally said, barely moving her lips.

Both she and Lord Zedd had witnessed the attack, along with Jason’s change in posture after Kimberly had crashed onto the floor.

Lord Zedd stepped forward.  “What do you mean, my Lord?” he asked.

“The force from those fireballs should have de-morphed her,” Jason said focusing on Zedd.  “Something protected her.  Did any of you see what it was?”

“No, my Lord,” Zedd replied, shaking his head.  “I thought I saw a flash in front of her, but if I had it was for barely an instant.”

“I see,” Jason said.  “I thought I saw something similar,” he mused softly to himself, turning his gaze back to the floor.

Thirty long seconds hung in the air.  Most of Jason’s minions craned their ears and eyes, wanting to snatch at the slightest word when Jason spoke.  Only Zedd remained at ease.

“Jason?” Rita asked in a meek voice, unsure of how to read Jason’s mood.

A pint of irritation sizzled beneath Zedd’s skin at the sound of her voice.  Will you ever learn when to be quiet! he snarled in his thoughts, poking her in the ribs with his elbow.

Rita stumbled a foot sideways, rubbing her left side.  Resentment boiled within her stomach, churning with the desire to retort to Zedd.  Yet as before, she restrained herself even though she knew why Zedd had dug into her ribs like that.

Shortly after Jason had “restored” Rita and Zedd to their evil forms, he had become curious about Zedd’s softer attitude, since it was different from when Jason had met Zedd during his time as a ranger.  After isolating Tommy from the rest of the team and then successfully draining the remainder of the Green Ranger’s powers from him with a green crystal, Lord Zedd had brought the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers to the Other World, his personal dimension, to gloat his victory.  Back then, Lord Zedd had been ruthless and cold, an entity that lived up to his reputation of viciousness.  Yet the Lord Zedd that Jason had “revived” was a sappier, jollier, and diminished shell of his former glory.  Suspicious of these changes in attitude—and bafflement at why Zedd had even considered marrying Rita mere months after he had banished her from the castle—Jason had interrogated and telepathically probed Finster for the reasons behind this, which had proven more of a challenge then Jason had initially surmised.  Strained by his loyalties to Rita, Lord Zedd, and Jason, the Little Mutant Dog, as Rita was fond of calling Finster, was surprisingly resilient to Jason’s probing and was hesitant to answer any of Jason’s questions.  However, Jason gathered enough to guess that Rita had used some form of deception.  In the end, Finster finally divulged that Rita had poisoned Lord Zedd with a love potion Finster had supplied her so that she could regain her former authority.

Upon learning that, Jason commanded Finster to inject Lord Zedd with an antidote, so that Zedd would be as ruthless as possible.  Quaking in terror, Finster complied.  To Rita’s immense dissatisfaction and horror, when Zedd had discovered that his character had been weakened by Rita as a ploy for her to gain power again, Zedd almost killed her.  Yet surprisingly Jason intervened, telling Zedd that they needed each other and that he wanted both of them in his empire.  He summed up his order with an ultimatum stating that they could either do that or he would kill them.  Seething with rage at the dilemma, both of them agreed to Jason’s conditions.

It was those facts that forced Rita to check herself in the present.  She owed her restoration to Jason.  Plus, it was only by Jason’s favor that she had not been imprisoned, murdered, or thrown out of the castle again.  Thus, she was not tempted to get on Jason’s bad side.  I liked you better when you were jollier, she thought at Zedd, referring back to when Zedd was under the influence of Finster’s love potion.  At least you weren’t so abusive, she added, locking her glare with steel to the side of Zedd’s face.

Despite Jason’s pardon, Zedd had not forgiven Rita for her crime since then.  He had tried to divorce Rita but she had counter argued, saying that they would be a stronger force if they stayed united.  Jason told them that he did not care if they were married or not, but told Zedd he could not banish or vanquish Rita.  And in the back of her mind, Rita thanked Jason deeply for that.

“Continue surveying them,” Jason commanded in a more confident voice.

Rita snapped her attention back to Jason and the present.  Victory over Trini… strange event with Kimberly, she recited to herself.

“Alert me if anything else happens.”  Without waiting for a reply, Jason turned and left for his private chamber.  He needed to be alone, and did not want Zedd to pick up that he was unnerved.  Still, even though Jason had anticipated this development in the rangers, he had not expected it to manifest so quickly within them.  First Tommy, now Kimberly, he sighed.  I wonder how long it will take for the others’ to develop.  He smiled.  This is going to be interesting… maybe even fun.


Darkness and shadows nestled along the walls of Kimberly’s living room, held back only by the light of a single lamp on its lowest setting which sat on an end table beside a loveseat.  In front of the loveseat rested a coffee table, banked by another loveseat, marking the middle of the room.

Lying underneath the lamp’s light, a now unmorphed Kimberly clutched an ice bag to the right side of her head, while resting the left side of her head on her loveseat’s armrest.  Though initially the ice had soothed her wound, she no longer felt a difference between it and the drum rally banging within her cranial capillaries.  Facing the opposite loveseat (both of them ran perpendicular to the double door wide, smooth cornered doorway leading to the hallway), Kimberly kept her eyes open only because she had not yet descended into sleep.  Faint glimmers of indistinguishable colors and vague shapes matted her vision, but she did not care.  Numbness had frozen her emotions while shock grappled her cognitive thoughts, locking them into a fractured, hyper-sped loop of the past twenty minutes since she had woken up.

But nothing blared louder or projected sharper in her memory than the past two minutes.  Trini’s screeching wail repeated and echoed within Kimberly’s mind, stitched with a collage of her ravaged and raped body writhing with Jason standing before her.  White noise of Billy’s confirmation that Jason had raped Trini sprinkled the savage requiem within Kimberly’s mind.

Tear droplets swarmed together behind Kimberly’s lower eyelids.  I should have been there sooner, she protested from far away.  Beneath the mass of numbness, regret and remorse now stirred in the depths of her core, pulling at her stomach.   I could have helped more.

But what else could I have done? her conscious amended wisely.  Part of the fog around her mind cleared as she began thinking.  Jason had overpowered her with only two attacks:  first with those fire balls, and then her head wound.  Jason really did that! she thought, cold realization coiling around her lungs. 

The shroud of defeat wafted inches from her skin.  Breezes of shame blew from it, darkening Kimberly’s regret.  Kimberly wanted to veil her face in shame.

I failed, Kimberly thought.

In less than twenty seconds, she had gone from the aggressor to being at Jason’s mercy.  (Who am I kidding?! she snapped, shaking out of her shame.  Jason had the upper hand and I knew it!)  What else could she have done?  Had she been in there any longer she could have been murdered.  Kimberly had been more courageous than she had been in her life by facing Jason last night, but in the end, she was not enough.  She—who had loved being a power ranger so much that it rivaled her passion for gymnastics to the point she had once decided to put her career on hold to stay a ranger—had stood up to evil.

Jason… what happened to you? Kimberly asked.  Her cheekbones clenched as the truth swallowed her:  Jason was a monster now.

“Kim?” Adam whispered.  “Kim?” he repeated a bit louder.

“Hmm?” she asked, blinking as she surfaced back to the present.

Adam was crouched in front of her, silently beseeching with his compassionate and serene face like a dog would to his or her owner. 

“Yeah?” she added in a sigh, too drowsy to force a polite smile at her friend.

“Are you okay?” Adam asked, concern lurking behind his eyes.

“Yeah,” she sighed.  “I just can’t get what happened out of my mind.”

“I bet,” Adam responded.  Reaching out, he patted her arm.  “Try to get some rest.  We’re looking out for you.”

“We’ve got your back,” Rocky supplied from behind her.  Perched on the back edge of the armrest, he laid a hand on Kimberly’s left shoulder.  “We won’t let anything else happen tonight,” Rocky added.

Venting a sigh, Kimberly shut her eyes but did not fall asleep.  Anxiety lurked beyond her senses’ detection.  That and she did not know if she had a concussion.

Rocky and Adam’s gazes intersected instantly.  Even now, Adam saw through Rocky’s brave mask, aware of the toil that knotted the base of Rocky’s tongue.  Adam lifted his eyebrows, asking in gesture if Rocky was alright for now, knowing that Rocky would understand.

Rocky nodded and then spun his head toward the farthest window.  “I guess we can’t call for an ambulance, huh, Billy?” he half-joked.

A smile blossomed from Adam’s gladness at hearing Rocky say something light hearted again, relief spreading throughout his body.  For the moment, he forgot his worry.  There you go, Rocky, Adam silently encouraged. 

However, Adam did not forget his wits.  Knowing Rocky as he did, Adam was not at all surprised to hear the serious undertones—nay, a plea—in his partner’s voice.  Adam followed Rocky’s gaze, laying eyes on their sentinel.

Billy stood in front of the window in full ranger attire, holding his helmet at his waist.  Not looking back at Rocky, he cracked a smile.  “I wish we could,” he said.  He glanced at Rocky, Kimberly, and then to Adam, silently expressing his sympathy before returning his gaze to overlooking Kimberly’s front lawn.

His eyes glanced down at the flowerbed beneath the window.  Due to the limited light, Billy could not identify what flowers occupied it.  He then shot his gaze at the house directly across the street unworried about his current attire.  At this hour, hardly anyone would be up so he was not worried about exposure.  Besides, all of the lights in that house, like the others flanking its sides, were off.

Not at all interested, nor even thinking of what flowers Kimberly had planted around her house or the state of the neighborhood, Rocky snarled, tossing his head from side to side with restless agitation grinding against his stomach’s inner wall.  “But we can’t!” Rocky spat, tightening his hands into fists.

He knew that was untrue.  They could easily either call an ambulance to the house or drive Kimberly and Trini there, and the doctors and nurses would have helped them out gladly.  However, bound as they were to Zordon’s rules by their honor, police involvement would be unwise as it would infringe upon them.  Since Trini and Kimberly were victims of assault, the hospital would probably contact the police.  Even trying to persuade the hospital officials to not involve the police could be suspicious.

Billy sank his head, and uttered a sigh.  He turned to his friends, remorse pulling the outer corners of his eyelids.  Of all the times for a reunion, why couldn’t I have come in happier times? he asked himself.  Billy of course knew the answer but was not at liberty to inform the others.  Mustering himself, he crossed over to Rocky’s side.  He clasped Rocky’s shoulder, squeezing it a bit.

Rocky paused and then gazed into Billy’s face.  Even though it had been a little over eight years since Rocky had seen Billy face to face, he found himself staring into a face that he did not know.  Purpose and perseverance had etched Billy’s face into a stone of certainty.  Rocky blinked.  When he had been a ranger on Earth, Billy had been a fairly good Martial Artist, who had made enormous strides in personal, physical, and mental development.  However, the personal development Billy had made between then and now was literally awesome.  Rocky felt that he was almost looking at a different person, and as a result almost gaped.

When Billy spoke, he spoke from his heart, soul, body, sacred animal, and mind.  “We’re going to get through this,” he said simply.

And Rocky believed him.  That was all he needed to hear.

Adam watched the pair in masked awe.  Way to go, Billy! he cheered silently, allowing a smile to brighten his face.

Kimberly betrayed her gloom with a smile at Billy’s words.  Though subdued by her condition, she reminded herself that she had gotten through her last head injury.  She chortled slightly.  It had been one of the most difficult times of her life.

Due to exhaustion from an intense daily workout/practice schedule in order to prepare for the Pan Global tryouts and constant attacks from Rita and Lord Zedd’s forces, Kimberly had lost her balance while attempting a basic back flip on the balance beam, and fallen on her head.  After a couple of days in the hospital she physically recovered.  Unfortunately, she had resigned from gymnastics because she was anxious of another accident occurring.  It had taken a courageous demonstration of Katherine, Kimberly’s soon-to-be successor, diving off a high dive into a swimming pool to show Kimberly that she could face her fear.  Having been in a similar accident, Katherine understood where Kimberly was coming from and also what the consequences would be because she had had the same anxiety and had made the same resigning choice.  Plucking up her courage, Kimberly attended the tryouts, and succeeded, qualifying for the Pan Global Games.  Even now, Kimberly still had great admiration for Katherine for inspiring her as she had.

Yeah, but that was then and this was now, Kimberly thought.  During that time, she had been dealing only with her life.  Now she was fighting for the life of her friend.

As Kimberly contemplated this, Sean wobbled into the room, supported on either side by both Tommy and Zack.  Dressed in one of Jake’s full length cobalt bath robes, the now showered Green Ninjetti Ranger sat himself down into the corner between the wall opposite Kimberly and the doorway, ignoring the rest of the chairs and footstools in the room.  Adam, Billy, and Rocky turned their gaze at the newcomers.

Meeting Tommy’s eye, Zack nodded and withdrew out of the room to the hall closet.  Tommy remained.

Kimberly’s gaze, however, drifted to the exact center of the upper half of the wall in front of her.  There hung a brass framed painted portrait of her father and stepfather standing on either side of her mother with Aisha, Jake, and Kimberly in front of them on a lower level as if the group were on invisible risers.  Hung underneath the portrait was a row of 8”x10” framed photographs of Jake and her, and their friends at their wedding reception.  All of the photographs and pictures were dear to Kimberly, each for various reasons.

However, it was the portrait of her immediate and step family she stared at.  It was the most important item to Kimberly in her house because it was a symbol of her family’s (both biological, step, and friendly) love for her, and also of the strength of that love.  Made from separate photographs of the five of them, Pierre, her stepfather, had given it to Kimberly as his wedding present to her.

Unfortunately, the artworks’ 2-D quality reminded Kimberly that her family was on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in Paris.  She could not ask them for assurance.  And they could not comfort her.  She darted her eyes to her wedding photograph, zooming in on Jake as tears leaked from underneath her eyes.

“You miss them, Kimberly,” Sean simply spoke, admiring the portrait.  Half of his face shrouded in shadow.

All eyes turned to him.

“What?” Kimberly asked.

“Your family,” Sean clarified as if they were having tea, yet the exhaustion rang clear through his answer.  He faced her, feeling the weight of his head triple as he did so.  Yet he held her with his eyes nevertheless with certainty and compassion as his iron foundation.

Kimberly tilted her head in a gape.  “Yes, I do,” she answered.

Billy narrowed his eyes upon Sean.  He did not need to be a telepath to recognize that his friend was in a terrible state.  And that knowledge worried him.  Why didn’t you tell me this earlier, Sean? Billy thought to himself, shielding his thoughts.  “Sean, you look terrible,” Billy said, crossing towards Sean.  “You should get some sleep.”

“I agree,” said Tommy.

Sean did not look at the other rangers; already knowing who had spoken.  Yet he smiled, warmed by their compassion.  “Thank you for your concern, but I will sleep when all of you have heard what you’ve been yearning to know,” Sean said simply.

Just then, Zack marched in, carrying some first aid supplies.  Without pausing, he nodded to Tommy as he passed him while crossing to Kimberly.  Adam stood and moved to Rocky’s side, allowing Zack room to kneel in front of Kimberly.

“Hey, Kim,” Zack said, soaking a cotton ball with peroxide.  “Let me see your head,” Zack added.  He sat the peroxide bottle down, nudged Kimberly’s head to the left so that the wound was illuminated by the lamp.

Wincing sharply, Kimberly withdrew the ice bag.  Zack stiffened his recoil.

Three deep gashes scraped into her cranium a centimeter above her temple met his survey.  Insignificant scratches and abrasions populated the area while half dried blood oozed out of two of the gashes down past her ear.

Zack did not sigh.  He did not flinch, nor look away.  Instead, he began dabbing the wound with the cotton ball.

Kimberly winced and gasped, jerking her head into the backrest of the couch.

“I’m sorry, Kim, but I gotta do this,” Zack whispered.  Sighing, she slid her head forward.  Zack glanced up before addressing her gashes again.  “What’s everyone so silent about?” he asked aloud.

“Sean says he has something to tell us,” Tommy responded in an indistinguishable voice.  “I’d like to hear it.”

Zack pulled out a bandage and a sheet of cloth.  “So would I,” Zack replied, his voice neutral as he squeezed some antibiotic ointment onto the bandage.  “You never said how you ended up like that, Sean.” he added, glancing at Sean as he wrapped the bandage around Kimberly’s head.

“I was watching over Trini,” Sean answered, “All night.”

Kimberly’s eyes flared open.  Seized by fury, she clutched the armrest and pushed herself up to a crouching position, plowing through the throbbing of her head.  Zack and Rocky jerked back in surprise while Adam moved toward her, placing a cushioning hand on her shoulder.   Kimberly shrugged it off.

“You!” she spat, glaring at Sean with knives of contempt.  Sean held her gaze with patience, too wise and fatigued to argue.  Kimberly neglected this act.  “You were outside her room all night and you did nothing!?  How could you have let this happen?  I thought you were here to help us!  But instead, you allowed my best friend to get raped!  Please tell me you have an explanation for that!”  She ended in a snarl.

Zack flipped his gaze back and forth between Kimberly and Sean unsure if he should duck.

Sean took in all of Kimberly’s words and splashed them upon a river stone with compassion.

“Had I interfered, Trini would have been in a worse condition,” Sean replied, his calmness quelling most of the tension in the air.  “Regardless, say whatever you wish to me, Kimberly, and I will tell you if I myself have not thought it these past eight years.”

Kimberly blinked at this.  “What do you mean?” she asked.

“All of you, minus Billy, know so little of what that woman has endured,” Sean continued in a heavier voice that reflected his nostalgia, looking at them in turn.  “However, I will not elaborate on that at this time.”

“I think you owe us the truth!” Kimberly retorted.

“Trini deserves to know it before you do,” Sean responded.

Kimberly snorted, averting her eyes to the ceiling away from Sean.

“You’re loyalty to Trini is admirable,” Sean said, keeping his cool.  “But I will not sit here entertaining your curiosity at the cost of our team.”

Tommy narrowed his gaze on Sean, sharpening his hearing.

“I do not have the energy to do so,” Sean continued.  “I am fighting for my life.” He added, raising his left arm in front of his face.  Relaxing his focus, the green energy streaks surfaced from under his skin, slithering along his forearm and hand.  Just as before, half of their cores were silver while the other half were yellow.  “And I am also fighting to maintain the ranger powers of Trini, Zack, and myself.”

Everyone else in the room gawked at what they saw.  Kimberly’s tightened face relaxed.  Only she, out of everyone else in the room could understand fully the significance of what Sean was experiencing.  Yet something Sean had just said made her brain twitch in confusion.

“You said you were fighting for Zack and Trini’s ranger powers also,” Billy asked, keeping his tone neutral.  “How is that possible?”

“Because neither of them earned the right to bear the Great Power,” Sean explained.  “In my haste to arm you against Jason’s forces, I neglected that fact.”  These words hit the others like a battering ram.  Even Zack understood somewhat.  “It is my fault that I am suffering.  You have done nothing wrong.  I am sorry.”

“Does this mean that I won’t be able to morph?” Zack asked.

“You can morph,” Sean answered.  “But the source of your powers comes from my life force.  If this power struggle is not resolved, then I will die and both yours and Trini’s ranger powers will disappear.  However, that cannot be solved now.  Now, I wish to arm you with information.”

None of the others spoke.  Kimberly thought of when her life energy began leaking from her.  But that had occurred because Katherine had stolen her power coin per Rita and Zedd’s orders.  That had been terrible, but she had never considered what Sean was describing to them.

One question blazed in some form or fashion within the others’ minds.  How could one individual power two other power rangers in addition to himself?  Sympathy and a sense of helplessness reverberated from them.

Sean, Billy thought, unsure if Sean could hear him, I’m sorry you had to endure this alone.

“What will you tell us?” Adam asked in a soft voice, determined to move the conversation forward and to honor Sean’s requests.  Sean had done nothing to cause Adam to distrust him.  As a result, Adam was determined to help him out.

Rocky silently agreed with Adam’s question.  He was getting tired of the constant apprehension.  He felt as though he was playing a role in a mid to late 1990s horror thriller.  Those guys could make a movie series with the stuff we’ve dealt with in the past 12 hours, he mused seriously.  Jokes were a distant commodity only represented by a faint, nauseating echo.  However, some of Adam’s patience had rubbed off on him in the years they had become closer.  Sean will reveal what he feels is important when he feels it is the right time, he told himself.  Thinking back, he recalled that Zordon had behaved similarly in regards to certain information he told the rangers.  He’s not being rude; he’s just trying to work with the time he has available.

Sean stared at Adam with an iron gaze.  After a handful of seconds, he spoke from his heart.  “That what Trini went through tonight was inevitable,” he said.

Seven heartbeats passed, and then Zack scoffed.  “You have got to be joking!” he spat, appalled.

“You’re saying that Trini was meant to be raped by Jason?” Tommy asked out of curiosity, hostility gone from his voice.  He crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes, yet the rest of his face remained slack.

“No,” Sean answered.  “Merely that it was only a matter of time before she remembered what Jason was… and also discovered what he had become.”

Billy nodded at the words Sean had used.  However, none of the others saw him do this.

“Remember?” Rocky pondered.  “She knew this… and then somehow forgot?”

Sean nodded, his body wailing for sleep now but he ignored it.  “To an extent, you are correct:  that is almost what happened.”

“You aren’t making much sense,” Zack interjected.

“I am making perfect sense,” Sean countered.  “However, I don’t think it would be wise to tell you everything before Trini remembers her past.”

“Don’t we have a right to know?” Adam asked.

Tommy darted his eyes among his teammates, determined to stay neutral and objective.  This day has been the craziest day of my life, he reflected.  One thing’s for sure: one bad move and we’re dead.  He shifted his gaze upon Sean.  I don’t know what exactly is going on, Sean, but it looks like you’re playing with a very hot fire that could be your funeral pyre.

Indeed, it could be, Tommy, Sean answered, not looking at him.  But better mine than yours.

Tommy lifted his eyebrows.  He had not heard someone else’s voice in his head since Rita had controlled his mind.

“Indeed, you do,” Sean answered Adam, heaving a sigh.  “But I think it would be best that Trini learns this before you do.”

“Why?” Rocky asked.

“It is important for her to discover this on her own,” Sean said.

At this time, Billy stepped forward.  “Would you please tell us what you can of what happened tonight?” Billy interjected.

“Yes,” Sean said, glad for the subject deviation.  “Trini was beyond my help before Jason had teleported into the room.  He had already forged a deep rooted telepathic link with her mind, connecting himself to her autonomic functions.  Had I tried severing it, Jason would have ripped Trini’s mind apart.”

Thirteen seconds ticked before the effect of those words had soaked into the rangers’ minds and bodies.  Absentmindedly, Kimberly picked up the ice bag and applied it to her head.

“In my current state,” Sean concluded, “there was nothing I could do to help her without damaging her further.”

Adam regarded Sean.  “If you weren’t fatigued, could you have done something?” he asked humbly.

Sean drew back his head and shut his eyes, replaying the events in his mind.  He juxtaposed them with scenarios of him being fully cognitive and energized, and then compared and contrasted the hypothetical and factual data.  However, regardless of the simulations, his answer had not changed from when he had probed Jason’s mind.

Just as Rocky was about to ask Sean if he was going answer, Sean lowered his head and pulled his eyelids apart, staring at all of them with stony eyes.

The other’s mouths had dried upon waiting.

He sighed.  “Yes,” Sean said at last.  As the others were half way blowing out sighs of relief, Sean continued, “However, I would not have.”  All eyes sharpened on him.  Billy watched the rest of his friends, ready to step in as mediator.  “As I have said earlier, it was inevitable that Trini remembered and learned who and what Jason is and used to be.  Tonight was a prime example of Jason’s nature, but not all of it.  She has more trials ahead of her that she must endure; some of them alone.”

Rocky, Adam, and Zack gawked at Sean, their outrage inscribed in paragraphs upon their faces. 

Billy closed his eyes in meditation.  Although Billy was sad and outraged by what had happened to Trini, he respected Sean’s decision.  However, he did not relish the psychological agony his friends were experiencing.  Curious as to how Tommy was reacting, he jerked his head toward Tommy and opened his eyes.

Tommy’s expression was torn between bafflement and uncertainty.  Patience and anger crackled underneath his skin from his chest to the top of his throat, sparking flames of annoyance that could distantly be seen behind his eyes.

Yet despite this inner conflict, Tommy refused to tighten his face.  Regardless of how annoyed he was, Tommy wanted to hear more.  Too much has happened already, he reminded himself.  Wait.  Wait.  If anything, his earlier confrontation with Jason on the Moon had taught him that.  He yielded to his wisdom, discarding his juvenile impulse to strike back in revenge.

 “I am not hearing this,” Kimberly said, sinking back onto the loveseat, and turning her head away from Sean.  All eyes flew to her.  “I don’t know who’s worse:  Jason or you!”  She spun her head around, trying to glare at Sean, but only crinkling her face into a grimace.  In the rapidity of her movement, blood stormed into her head.  Suddenly, dizziness overpowered her.  Her neck buckled, unable to support the added weight in her head and her eyes faltered into a fog.  She fell back onto the armrest, slamming her head on the ice bag.  The mix of a groan and a moan spewed from her mouth.

Zack and Rocky immediately scooped their hands to cushion Kimberly’s head.  “Hey, be careful,” Rocky added with a grin, snatching the ice bag with one of his hands, and offering it back to her.

Kimberly accepted it, sprouting only a weak smile, but did not apply it to her wound.

“Would Jason be as kind to you as I have been?” Sean asked.

Kimberly lifted her gaze back on Sean, her eyes sagging in confusion.

Sean reached out a hand to Billy, while maintaining eye contact with Kimberly.  Grasping his friend’s forearm, Billy pulled Sean to his feet.

“Thank you, Billy,” Sean said, wobbling slightly as he clasped Billy’s shoulder for support.  The bones in his legs were hollow, while his calf muscles felt like pudding.  Regardless, Sean maintained his penetrating stare with Kimberly.  “Would he do this?”

Sean stretched out his left arm, with his palm open to the ceiling.  He tilted his wrist downward; angling his palm toward Kimberly’s wound.  Suddenly, a golden—almost white— light shined from deep within his core.  Though small, it cancelled out the lamp’s glow.  The melodic call of the phoenix reverberated from Sean, and then its emblem poured out of Sean’s palm into Kimberly’s wound, connecting them with a beam of golden light.  Several tiny indigo glowing white orbs spewed from Sean’s beam, swirling around and above Kimberly, basking her in warm light.  The maimed side of her head shined with Sean’s light.  And she relaxed into it.

Zack scurried out of the way immediately in amazement.  However, the others remained where they were.  The image of Zordon lying dead in a circular bed of collapsed crystals leapt through Tommy, Billy, Rocky, and Adam’s minds.  And then the image changed to the moving memory of them using the Great Power to resurrect Zordon and repair Ivan Ooze’s damage to the Command Center.  Although initially petrified with surprise and shock, the former Ninjetti rangers soon nodded, comprehension dawning on them at what Sean was doing.  Zack, having only heard that event described to him by the others, gawked with his mouth hanging open, unable to recognize what was going on.

Soon the swirling orbs fused into four rings above Kimberly.  Sean’s golden inner light diminished as his beam and energy rings receded into Kimberly.

Zack’s eyebrows shot upward in awe.  “Kim—what ju—?” he jabbered, pointing a shaking finger at the right side of her head.

Kimberly did not answer.  Instead she reached for the bandage, and pulled it off.

The others crowded back around her, exuberance and amazement beaming through their faces upon her.  “Kim, you’re head!” Zack almost shouted.

Trembling slightly, Kimberly lifted her hand, and touched the side of her head.  She gasped.  The gashes and abrasions were gone; replaced by healthy skin and hair!  Even the blood had evaporated.  Kimberly gasped and smiled, her eyes dancing amongst her friends.

“How did—?” Zack stammered, tossing his head back and forth from Kimberly to Sean.

“The Great Power,” Billy answered.

Kimberly sat up, and staring at Sean.  “Thank you,” Kimberly said from her heart, gazing at Sean with open eyes and newer understanding.

“I cannot heal Trini’s damage as easily as I just healed yours, Kimberly,” Sean replied, relaxing his stare into a gaze, yet still maintaining eye contact with her.  “However, what is important is to remember that Trini is not alone in this.”

Kimberly studied Sean’s face.  After a moment, she nodded.

Sean lifted his gaze to encompass the others.  “I believe that Zordon would have been proud of all of you tonight,” Sean said.  “Baffled as you were by what has happened, you rushed to defend your friend.”

Billy nodded in agreement.  “In this time of crisis, let’s show Jason, Zedd, and Rita what kind of a team we are.”  Keeping one arm around Sean’s waist, Billy extended the other forward, palm up.  A dull, metallic 5x12” box materialized from rising blue energy from his hand.

“What’s in there?” Zack asked.

Billy looked at him.  “Your new communicators,” he said, the box opening at his silent command.  Inside it were six more communicators generally identical to Billy and Sean’s.  “Each one has eight buttons circling the face so that we can call people directly without saying each other’s name,” Billy explained.  “The owner’s sacred animal emblem is carved unto the faces’ underside.”

The others stared at the communicators, neither gaping nor sneering.  What Sean had said was true.  They were power rangers, and they had risen up to do what was right.  One by one, they walked over and collected their individual communicators, and fastened them around their wrists.

Even though they still wanted to know more, they realized and agreed that the answers were not relevant now.  Satisfaction coursed through their veins at demonstrating to Lord Zedd, Rita Repulsa, and Jason Lee Scott that their team spirit was not shattered.  Trini may be incapacitated, but they would stand by her side and protect her until she was better again.

Chapter Text

Jason opened his eyes, ignoring the familiar stone-layered walls of his chamber as he hovered cross-legged four and a half feet above the floor.  Twitching candle light reflected on the side of his face.  Ignoring it, Jason channeled his focus in maintaining the flow of his chi throughout his body and aura—nothing else mattered.  With his ESP, he sensed and felt his invisible aura swell from six to eight feet in diameter, brushing upon the floor and ceiling, dense and enriched by his chi

If one could see it, they would see an off-white aura of a bluish hue.  As time went on, the color separated into pockets of soft blues, royal blues, and indigo.  One and a half foot long beams of metallic gold blazed from a faint outline above his skin, only millimeters high.

Yet, however strong his aura was, it was neither that nor his mind which levitated him, but the unification of his being.  Because of this, Jason neither sweated nor grew weary.  Instead, he felt more energized—freer.  Many years ago when he had begun his metaphysical training, he used to squeeze almost every major muscle in his body just to keep up the effort to push his chi into his aura.  However the many months of intense meditation afterward had helped him relax his body and allow his chi to flow through his body like the life river it was.

This was a centering exercise:  one he had learned from Sean many years ago; back when he was still an agent of Good.  Sean had told him then that if one did not know himself, he could not know all his possibilities.

Though this was a lesson Jason was familiar with due to most of his life’s devotion to the Martial Arts, he had not known it as well as he had thought.  There were doorways of potential Jason had not even known that existed for him which Sean had helped to unlock.  Indeed, if it had not been partially for Sean, Jason would not have chosen to become the next Monarch of Evil.  For that, Jason honored Sean.

But Jason did not immerse himself in those memories now.  Gone were the days when he had feared the changes he had later accepted.  Instead, he was preparing himself by cleansing his body with his spiritual energy.  He needed to be ready for his next meeting with Trini.

“She’ll want to find out the truth,” Jason had said years ago, “and I’ll wait for her when she seeks them out.”

With that, he lowered his legs, and stood.

Jason stretched his awareness outside of himself, looking with his eyes at the samurai armor display against the wall in front of him, but mentally… his mind’s eye pinned itself on Trini, like that of a satiated hawk that had once been famished after scouting its prey for too long.

She was still awake.

The stone of patience, perseverance, and integrity Jason had constructed during his early years as a martial artist began to erode as desire and joy burned in his heart.  A clear, vibrant red began to stain sections of his aura.

Trini lay on the bed alone, defenseless; trapped in her own terror and horror—unaware of the daylight drifting through the blinds.

Jason’s impulsiveness and impatience slithered through his body.  He wanted to ravage her again.  Raping her mind and body during the night had only given Jason a taste of the victory he sought for.  Mentally, he stroked her cheek with the back of his fingers.  She shivered, squeezing her eyelids shut with a huffy gasp.

Jason sighed in mild ecstasy, wanting to feel her with his fingers again.

Jason, whispered a faint voice.

Returning his focus to the present, he grabbed a hold of the mind that had spoken.  Briefly astounded, he cocked his eyebrows.

I see you still lack mastery of your emotions, it resumed.  That has always been one of your dominate weaknesses.

Crawl back into your mind, Sean, Jason rebuffed coolly, before I reject being kind to you.

Letting me live was a terrible mistake, Sean said in a stronger voice than he had displayed last night.  You have left a window of hope for—

Go to sleep, Sean, Jason added with a dismissive groan.

I already am.  Perhaps you should too.


Without another word, Sean slid out of Jason’s mind, submerging himself back into R.E.M. sleep while wrapping his mind in a mental shell, strengthened by the flare of his sacred animal.


Jason peered at the mental defense from a safe distance.

“Well done, my friend,” he murmured aloud, comprehending what Sean was doing.  Instead, he redirected his ESP back at Trini.

Her mind, however, was not protected by her sacred animal.  Amazed by this, Jason probed the room and her body, thinking that the other rangers might be protecting her with their energies—perhaps Billy.  Baffled that he did not detect any other presences in the room, Jason ran a finger across his chin.

“They aren’t even trying to shield her from me,” Jason pondered.  He then smirked.  “I can’t tell if they’re being foolish or trusting,” he chuckled lightly, and then an idea bloomed in his mind.  “They’re trying to not over task her mind,” he added.  “Well, then, I think I will step in again.”  He zoomed in his telepathy, targeting her subconscious.  Home, he planted in her thoughts.  Satisfied, he pulled himself out of her mind.

Taking in a deep breath, he focused his aura, chi, and mind’s attention into his core, and on the exhale, let his energy flow outward in all directions.  Bringing his fingers to Jnana mudra (the tip of his index fingers touching the tips of his thumbs) he stepped back into levitation, crossing his legs in Indian style.

Chapter Text

Zack stampeded around the street corner, pumping the post-dawn air in and out of his lungs as if he was a steam engine back to Kimberly’s house.  Wincing as another puddle of stinging sweat dripped into his eyes, he slapped at his eyelids, trying to bat the sweat away.  Unfortunately, his already saline saturated hands wacked more salt into his eyes.  Zack hissed in annoyance and swore amongst his thoughts, regretting this by wasting a chance to breathe in.

Zack glanced ahead.  He had four city blocks to go before reaching Kimberly’s home.  You have got to be kidding me!  Zack groaned.  How did I end up this far from her house?  And why the hell am I sprinting!?  The ten minute old cramp stabbed deeper into his left side, ripping his skin apart.  His calves and quads ached in protest under the excursion.  Even his abdominals, lats, back, upper pecs, and shoulders chorused in muscular strain while fatigue leeched at his stamina.

Yet despite these physical ailments, his body charged through them, maintaining its momentum.  While the aching had not exacerbated to throbbing, the weed of anxiety grew within Zack as its roots clutched his gut.  Zack felt and knew in his heart and experience that some muscles were on the verge of tearing.

Still, he kept sprinting, just as he had reluctantly for the past forty minutes; not driven by will… almost as if controlled.  No, he thought as epiphany strummed in his mind, more like… motivated.  Adrenaline alone was not driving him.  Primal perseverance was.

This is insane! Zack had thought when his mind had caught up with his body.  How can I be going this fast?  All I had was a banana and water before I left.  My body should’ve given out by now!

Suddenly, the thought of external mind control flashed in his mind but he tossed that idea into the garbage immediately.

Rita and Zedd would have just sent down putties or a monster if they wanted to kill me, he reminded himself.  It’s gotta be something else.  But what?

Just then, a dark shadow flashed in front of his vision, obscuring most of it.  Light headedness engulfed him.  Shaking his head, he blinked his eyes twice and then closed them for a few seconds without stopping.  Upon opening them, his vision cleared almost at once, only to reveal he was about to collide with a tree.  Leaping back onto the sidewalk, he spat out a sigh of relief, unable to utter an articulate exclamation.

Man, I have got to slow down! he declared, his body disobeying by automatically resuming at sprint pace.

Unfortunately, it was too late (and he knew it) for if he suddenly stopped—or even slowed down—he would not be able to continue:  walk or even stand.  Plus, he figured the concrete sidewalk or asphalt road was not the place to have a tumbling fall.  Only a void inhabited his stomach now.  Therefore he had to keep going—battling his fatigue to get to Kimberly’s house.

Two blocks.  One block.  Just… keep… going… he chanted, steadying his footwork so that he did not trip.  Three houses to go…two… here!  And he leapt onto the yard, galloping toward the front door, trying to slow down.  But the distance was too short.  Damn these long feet! he screamed in his head while reaching out with his hand for the door handle.  (His thighs felt as if they were being ripped out of his hips.)  At the last minute before impact, his fingers clasped around the door handle.  Without pausing, he twisted it, slamming into the door at full force and then collapsing through the doorway onto the foyer floor.

For a brief moment, he thought he was dead until he heard his heart pounding against the floor.  He then uttered a groan at still being conscious.  The thought of lifting himself did not materialize in his mind.  His entire body felt like it was cement pudding and Zack did not challenge this interpretation.  He kept his eyes shut.

 “Zack?” called out Kimberly’s voice.

Zack pulled his head up, craning his neck toward the hallway beside the stairway.  He groaned in response.

Kimberly had dashed into the foyer from the kitchen, still in her bed robe and pajamas, her face wide with anxiety and panic.  Immediately, she crouched down to his side, sweeping his body for wounds with her hands.  “Are you alright?” she demanded, panic shaking her voice.

Been better, he thought.  Instead he replied with, “Hmm-mm.”

“Zack, open your eyes!” she demanded.  Hands gripped his face.  Kimberly’s.

“Yeah, yeah,” Zack barely whispered, peering through slit-like eyelids.  “I’m good.  Just worn out!  That was...”

Knotting her face, Kimberly jabbed his shoulder with her fist.

“Ow!” Zack recoiled, rolling onto his back.  “Kim!”

 “You scared me!”

“You’re not the only one,” he replied.  “I was scaring myself.”

She sighed.  “What were you doing?” she asked in a lighter tone, kneeling by his side.

“Jogging, or at least started to.  I ended up sprinting through most of the run.”

“And you aren’t dead now!?” she exclaimed.  “You’ve been gone for almost an hour!”

Trying to laugh, Zack spat out a mouthful of air.  “I guess it takes more than that to beat the Zack-Man!” he half joked, boosting a smile.  He then coughed.

Kimberly drifted her head from side to side.  “Zack, you shouldn’t joke like that,” she said.  “We don’t know when or how Jason will attack us next.”  She rose, shutting the door.  “It’s best if we don’t provoke him.”

Zack blinked and then craned his eyes at her.

Kimberly remained rooted to the spot, staring off in the distance.  Her face sagged, betraying a deeper worry.

“What do you mean?” Zack beseeched, trying to lift himself on his elbows, but his arms refused to move.

Kimberly only sighed in response, her eyes still locked in a far off gaze.

Zack squinted at her, studying her.  Come on, Kim, I thought you were over this, he thought.  Kimberly had more than once hidden her worries from her friends because she was not sure how to cope with them.  But this time she was actually distracted from the moment, from even Zack.

“Kim?” he called breathily.  She didn’t hear him.  “Hey,” Zack panted, tapping her ankle with his toes.

She jerked back, blinking her eyes and darting her gaze right and left before resting them on him.

“Can you help me up?” Zack asked.

“Yeah.”  Nodding with an uncertain face, she knelt down and pulled him up.

“Thanks,” Zack said, pushing as best he could with his other hand.  Once up, he added, “Are Trini and Sean up yet?”  Tommy, Billy, Rocky, and Adam had departed before Zack had left to prepare for their workdays.  Though hesitant to separate, Tommy reminded them that they had their communicators and the ability to morph once more if something happened.  Billy interjected afterward that they could not let Trini, Zack, and Sean’s circumstances dictate their lives.  It was for that reason that Zack had decided to jog this morning—to get rid of his pent-up frustration.

“Sean was still asleep in the living room last I check,” she replied.  “And I haven’t seen Trini yet.”

“Oh,” Zack sighed, wrapping his arm around her shoulders.  His heart sank at her words about Trini.  “I guess she’s not ready then.”

“It’s only been a few hours.  Come on; let’s get you something to eat,” she said, leading the way to the kitchen.

“Need a hand?” Sean asked from just behind the hallways entrance.  He was standing tall and erect, the weariness from yesterday washed from his skin.

Zack and Kimberly turned their heads.  Their mouths fell open.

“I thought you’d be as tired as me,” Zack said, uttering a half chuckle.

“My energy is your energy,” Sean said, striding behind Zack.  “Come on,” he urged them, placing a steady hand on Zack’s back.  Bewilderment swimming within them, Zack and Kimberly walked into the kitchen (Zack more or less wobbling), crossing to the table.

“Easy, Zack,” Kimberly said as she and Sean guided Zack into a chair.  Zack groaned as his thighs and calves stretched.

Sean looked at Kimberly “Let’s make some breakfast before I resume answering questions,” he said.  “None of us has had a good meal since yesterday.”

“Okay?” Kimberly agreed, still perplexed.  She went over to the cupboard, grabbed a glass, and then filled it with water.  “Here you are, Zack.  Eggs and potatoes okay?”

“Sure.” Normally, he would have disagreed, but at this time, he did not care.

“Kimberly, do you mind if I cook something also?” Sean offered.

She shrugged.  “Uhh… sure.”

“Thanks,” Sean said, heading to the refrigerator.


Within eight minutes, fresh coffee was brewing, and the kitchen was filled with the aroma of eggs and potatoes, strawberry pancakes, and steaming maple syrup.  Sean, who had whipped together the pancake mix from scratch, served a short stack to Zack and Kimberly before there was enough for him.  “Go ahead and eat up, Zack,” he said encouragingly, beaming with a smile.

Cutting a slice with his fork and knife, he shoved it into his mouth.  Immediately, his face exploded with joy.  “Sean, these are excellent!” he exclaimed.

“Thank you.”

“Kim, you have got to try these!” Zack continued.

“I will in a sec,” she called back.  “Just save some for us.”

“I was just trying them,” Zack amended, putting down his silverware.

“Don’t worry, Kimberly, I have enough batter for all of us,” Sean announced.

“Good,” she said, shifting the sizzling eggs and potatoes around the pan with a wooden spoon, “Because these eggs are done!” she announced.  Grabbing a serving bowl from the adjacent cupboard, she scooped the eggs and potatoes into it, and carried it to the table.

Sean joined them with a stack of pancakes for himself.

Kimberly dashed to the coffee pot and poured some into two mugs.  “Sean, would you like some coffee?”

“I would prefer tea if you have any, please,” Sean replied.

“It just so happens I have some jasmine tea,” she said, grabbing another mug.

“Perfect,” Sean replied, flipping his pancakes over.

Filling it with some water, she stuck it in the microwave.  After setting the time, she grabbed the tea box and poured some tea leaves into another mug.

Zack drew in the rooms’ aromas into his lungs.  “This smells delicious!” Zack exclaimed.

“Why, thank you!” Kimberly chirped, retrieving the now boiling water, and pouring it into the second mug.

“Sean, do you want milk or sugar in your tea?” she called over her shoulder.

“Just milk please.”

“Coming up.”

Kimberly dashed over to the refrigerator, got out the milk and poured some into the tea.  Afterwards, she placed the milk back in the fridge.  Grasping the mug’s handle, she strolled over to the table, grinning in happiness.

“Thank you,” Sean said, as Kimberly placed the tea in front of him.

“Thank you for helping,” Kimberly replied, sitting and surveying the breakfast palette.  A platter of fresh cantaloupe slices lay amongst the main dishes.  “Oh, this looks so good!  Please help yourself and dig in.”

With gusto, they did.  Sean perked up even more, gladness and satisfaction satiating his being as the food passed along his tongue into the rest of his body.  The pizza last night had been appreciative but not refueling enough.  Thus, he indulged with immense joy.

“Sean, these pancakes are amazing!” Kimberly exclaimed a few seconds later.  “If you want to cook here again, you are more than welcome.  I’m sure Jake would love your cooking.”

“Thank you; I may look into that,” Sean said.

“I just thought of something.  Do you even have a job here—on Earth?” Kimberly asked.

At this question, Zack perked his head up.  Taking his time with his meal, he glanced over at Sean, raising his eyebrows.

“I don’t actually,” Sean replied.

Kimberly blinked twice, flashing glass eyes of surprise.  “What?” she gasped.  “I would’ve thought you would.”

“Sadly, no.  I’ve been jobless for the past week.”

“Then, what are you doing for money?”

Sean wiped a pancake & syrup smudge from the corner of his mouth with his napkin.  “Oh, I’ve got enough to last me for a few months.  I should be fine until then.”

“But what do you do?” Zack asked.

Sean looked at him and then smiled.  “Forgive me.  I’m an artist—painter primarily.”

“A painter?” Kimberly mussed.  “That’s an interesting career.”  And then a memory flashed in her mind.  She leaned forward.  “You know, my step-dad said to me once that a person has to follow his or her passion or there’s no joy in that person’s life.”

“Your step-father is a wise man to say that,” Sean replied.  “Indeed, that is one of the reasons I paint.”

Munching on a mouthful of eggs and potatoes, Zack leaned in closer, gazing at Sean.

“My life is that of a power ranger,” Sean elaborated.  “But when I’m able to escape from my duty, I like to indulge in the more beautiful aspects of life to remind myself of why—that there is more to existence than just fulfilling my role in the Grand Design.”

Zack nodded.  “I can understand that:   knowing that you don’t need to be compelled to do something in order to be happy with it.”

“Art is a portal in which I can both distract myself from and study the life I lead.  It is where I can be both near and far from the woes of my heart and mind.”

“You sound like a poet,” Kimberly said.

“Or a philosopher,” Zack added.

“I’ve dabbled in such during my ‘off-hours’,” Sean admitted.  “For isn’t every artist a philosopher in their own right?  It is an ingenious way to bring forth reality and the imaginary, bridging them in ways that would make no sense but to the absurd.  Yet, when closely observed, the absurd is more like reality than people would first admit.”

Finally realizing that her face had not moved, Kimberly bounced her eyelids together amazed at the intellect pouring from her house guest’s mouth.  Immediately self-conscious she dabbed at her lips hoping food had not fallen and collected there.

“I seem to have overwhelmed my hosts,” Sean said, darting his eyes back between his companions.

“No,” Kimberly began, replacing her napkin in her lap, “it’s just…I didn’t expect that.”

Remaining silent, Zack shook his head, refocusing his eyes on Sean.

“When you have fought as much as I have,” Sean added, looking at both of them, “the simple privileges in life become more of a treasured desire than the grander ones.  Friendship, kindness, companionship… those are what count in a person’s life because at some point they become easier to lose sight of.  Therefore, let’s cherish this meal and leave the future and past alone for now.

Kimberly and Zack agreed with smiling nods.

Moments of silence passed as they ate and drank, refueling their bodies.  Soon Zack felt more human, even though his calves felt half hollow.  Chuckles hummed through his throat which soon swelled into raucous laughter.  Delighted at the sight, Kimberly joined in.  Sean surveyed both of them, feeling their spirits soar.  He smiled, embracing the astral brilliance of their auras.  Even now, while suffering a severe post-traumatic event they were still able to tap into the brighter aspects of their personalities.  Their auras shimmered with pale yellow hues, reflecting their new good moods and more energized selves.

Smiling he turned his attention to his own aura.  It shimmered with a dazzling solid yellow and emerald green.  Though not at full intensity because of Trini’s condition, Zack’s improved humor was enough to rejuvenate Sean’s life energy.  He sighed in content.

“Hard to imagine a tragedy occurred out of the blue,” Sean commented matter-of-factly without preamble.

Kimberly was just about to take another mouthful of pancakes, but then lowered her fork.  She had completely forgotten about the previous events in her flurry of cooking up something for Zack and Sean.  Now it all came rushing back to her, bombarding her shoulders with leaded weight.

“I wasn’t even sure why I was laughing,” she apologized, diverting her eyes away from Sean.

“Me neither,” Zack said.  “You didn’t cause us to laugh, did you?” he added to Sean, suspecting mind control.

“No,” Sean answered.  “Sometimes the body knows when it needs to.”  He surveyed them.  “Hold on to that feeling.  Sorrow will not turn these events around.  In fact, only with raised spirits can we overcome the coming days’ obstacles.”

“We know we’re in danger,” Zack responded.

“But you do not know your enemy,” Sean countered, “An enemy that has dealt us a crippling blow.”  He stared at Zack.  “And I have made matters worse by giving you and Trini back your ranger powers too early.  However, as long as you remain hopeful and jolly, the stronger I shall be.”

“You mean our powers will be stronger?” Zack asked.

“Are you saying they’re connected to our emotions?” Kimberly asked, sipping some orange juice.

“Yes,” Sean said, nodding.  “Your powers are now a part of you, connected with your life energy.  Is it not so that when one is happy, that person feels more energized?”

“Yeah,” Zack said.

“The same is applied to our ranger powers,” Sean continued.

“Isn’t that self-confidence?” Zack asked, remembering something Zordon had told them about their morphing powers.

“Exactly,” Sean answered.

Zack snapped his fingers as a memory struck him. “Hang on.  That’s how it was when we were rangers before:  our first major defeat.”  The memory of he, Kimberly, Billy, and Trini accepting defeat after the original Megazord had been destroyed during the battle with Goldar, Scorpina, and the evil Green Ranger flashed in his mind.  During that meeting, Alpha 5 and Jason had kept preaching words of confidence and perseverance to them.  Unfortunately, the others had closed their ears to that.  Zack frowned.  During that time, Tommy had been Rita’s slave, while Jason had been the voice of reason—a warrior of light.  Now, twelve years later the tides had changed.  Nevertheless, Jason and Alpha 5’s words of encouragement resonated in his memory.

Across the table, Kimberly thought of the same moment, when the gloom of despair had permeated the Command Center and infected her, Zack, Trini, and Billy.  Remorse crawled up the underside of her skin as she remembered that she was the first to voice her teammates’ discouragement and dismay.

“The Power Rangers are history,” she had said.

“It’s over!” Trini exclaimed.  “Rita’s won!”

“Rangers, we can’t give up,” Jason said.

“Why shouldn’t we?”  Kimberly countered.  “Zordon’s gone.”  In some unknown dimension thanks to the green ranger, she thought.  “The Megazord has been destroyed.  We’re outmatched.”  We might as well give up, she had thought.

Alpha 5 crossed over to Billy.  “Billy, what are the chances of bringing Zordon back online?”

Slouching upon one of the three newly rewired command center consoles, Billy shrugged, his head swaying from side to side.  “Less than ten percent.”

“Isn’t the smallest chance of victory enough of a reason to keep fighting?” Jason asked, moving to the center of the floor.  “The world needs us, rangers!”

“Let’s face it,” Zack interjected, opposing Jason. “The Green Ranger was Rita’s trump card.  She played it.  She won!”

Looking away, Jason threw up his hands, pushing himself from Zack’s objections. 

Even now, Zack’s mouth stung with disgust at his betrayal of faith in their power and teamwork.

“No, Rangers, I cannot accept that,” Alpha 5 had said.  “Zordon would not accept that.”

“But Zordon’s not here,” Trini said.

Zack gritted his teeth at the memory.  Had the computer not discovered the Green Ranger’s identity, all but Jason and Alpha 5 would have surrendered to Rita in person.

Maybe their current struggle wasn’t as dark as they had imagined.

“But what about Trini?” Kimberly interjected.  “Isn’t she going to put a damper on you guys’ power?”

“For now, yes,” Sean said.  “But Zack, you are more capable to being in higher spirits now than she is.  Later today, I shall talk with her.  It is she who must break out of her depression and for that to occur she will need guidance.”

Zack and Kimberly exchanged glances, reading each other’s concern and anxiety.

“Have faith, rangers,” Sean encouraged, sipping his tea.  “In time, we will see where choice and fate lead us.”

Zack and Kimberly stared into each other’s eyes.  For the first time since becoming rangers again, hope reinforced their determination.

His mind now clearer, Zack gazed at Sean.  “Sean?” he asked.

“Hmm?”

“When I was sprinting earlier…” he began, “Were you… encouraging me?”

Sean gazed at him with glistening eyes.  “Wisely chosen words,” he said.  “However, you were doing the motivating, not me.  I only opened myself to you so that you could call on my strength which you did unconsciously.”

“That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  Half my body still feels like pudding.”

“But you got through it, and so did I.  Your body is only strained because it’s not used to such exertion, so it misinterprets that for fatigue.  Frankly, I would not recommend doing that again.”

Zack chuckled.  “Don’t worry.  I don’t plan to.”

“Zack, why did you do something so unhealthy?” Kimberly asked, the logistics of the situation still baffling her.

“I found that to be remarkable too,” Sean chimed in.  There was more occurring then the others suspected.  Kimberly’s match off against Jason the previous night was evidence of that.  Beyond that, how she had been there without any alert.  I wonder… he mused, piecing some of the puzzle together with new hypotheses.  That would make sense but I need more to go on.

Zack sighed and then shook his head.  “I don’t know.  I just felt like sprinting I guess.”

“That makes no sense,” Kimberly remarked.

“Yes, it does,” Sean said. 

Zack and Kimberly darted their eyes at him.

“What do you mean?” Kimberly asked.

“When was the last time you guys exercised?” Sean asked.

Kimberly strummed through her memories.  To be quite honest, all she had done was her normal gymnastic routine yesterday morning.  Due to her shock of the events, she had not yet worked out or exercised.  Plus, it was still 7:00 in the morning.

“Well, I was hoping to burn off some stress; not put myself in a panic,” Zack admitted.

“Perhaps you had more than you thought,” Sean suggested.

Zack thought about this for a second.  “Yeah.  Maybe.”

“How do you feel?” Sean asked.

“Lighter,” Zack responded.  “But still confused.”

“That’s a start.  Now, let’s finish this excellent feast before it gets too cold.”

Shoving doubt and worry out of their minds, Kimberly and Zack resumed eating.  None of them could afford listening to their doubts.  With lightened hearts, they filled the remaining empty pockets of their stomachs with food prepared with love, which sang through their bodies.

Meanwhile Sean scanned Kimberly’s guest bedroom.  Trini was still there, alone—distant.  I hope you can find rest, my friend, he prayed.  For in the coming hour, you will need more courage than I can inspire in you.

He was just turning his attention back to his meal when his eyelids sank shut and his head tittered forward, weighted by exertion.  Collecting his wits, he sighed.

“Something wrong?” Kimberly asked, holding her mug to her lips.

“Only with my mitochondria,” Sean joked, smirking.  “I’m just not used to this.”

“Well,” Zack chimed in, “If it makes a difference, I’ll take it easy today at work.”

Sean gazed at him with opened eyes, his gray irises glistening.  Finally, after hours of tense pressure, a bridge of friendship had broken through the chaos from one of the other rangers to Sean.  Inside Zack, Sean felt the skepticism seal break, opening the door for collaboration.  Sean smiled.  “It will,” he replied, his heart lifting.  “Thank you.”

“No problem,” Zack replied.

With that, Sean finished his tea and sank into a moment’s deep meditation.  However joyful he was, his body was still infected with fatigue, but at least now, he had a full stomach.

Chapter Text

After breakfast was done Zack limped off to the shower, following Kimberly’s insistent (but playful) complaints about his odor.

Meanwhile, Kimberly scurried around the kitchen, wiping the counters down, emptying and loading the dishwasher, and packing the leftovers.

Sean opened his eyes, steeling them with determination.  Breathing in, he turned toward the guest bedroom.  “Kimberly, are there any pancakes left?” he asked, still gazing off.

“Of course,” she said.  “Zack and I figured Trini might want some later.”

“I’m going to see her now.”

Kimberly paused, concern mopping her eyebrows.  Shaking it off, she slid open the half sealed Ziploc bag she had just filled.  “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” she asked, stacking two pancakes onto a clean plate.  “She might be asleep still.”

“Kimberly,” Sean sighed, kindness flowing underneath his voice.  “Did you go back to sleep last night?”

She shook her head.  “No,” she answered humbly, scooping up a spoonful of eggs and potatoes.

“I slept while the rest of you stood watch so that I could help her through this,” Sean said.

Kimberly willed courage into herself.  “Would you like me to be with you?” she asked.  It was the first time she had thought of seeing Trini after Jason’s assault.  Each time she had crossed the hallway, she had averted her eyes from the open guest bedroom.  No one had repaired the door yet.  Anxiety wobbled in her calves as shame squeezed her heart.

Sean smiled.  “No, thank you.  If she asks for you or Zack, I’ll call you.”

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” Sean said, now looking at her.  He rose.  “May I have the plate?” he asked.

Smiling, she handed him the one she had fixed on a tray.  “Here you are, complete with silverware,” she said in a quivering voice.  Tears gathered beneath her eyes.

Sean nodded in acknowledgement.

“I guess I wouldn’t know what to do if I saw her anyway,” she said, steadying her voice.

“You have done much already by defending her well-being,” Sean said, “And providing this meal for her.”   He turned to leave.

“Wait,” Kimberly interjected.  Scurrying over to the sink, she grabbed a dry glass and filled it with water, and handed it to Sean.  “She might be thirsty.”

Sean gleamed at her through his eyes.  Cracking half a smile, he took the glass and headed toward the exit.

“Sean,” Kimberly called out.

Sean immediately wheeled around on the spot, answering her with a sweeping glance before peering into her eyes.

Kimberly gaped, recoiling under Sean’s cool confidence. 

“Be careful,” she said.  “You don’t know how she’ll react.”

“That’s how it usually is,” Sean remarked.  He smiled.  “I will be careful and thank you.”  With that he turned, strolling to the hallway.

Kimberly watched him leave, awe cementing her feet to the ceramic tiled floor.  What is it about this guy? she pondered.  He gets knocked down, loses his energy, and still he keeps helping us.  Either he is crazy, or he’s a better ranger than Tommy is.


The 7:05am sunlight wafted underneath the window blinds, piercing the gloom of the guest bedroom.  Trini sat slouching with her arm draped over her knee, staring off into space and paying no heed to the sunlight.  Her clothes merely hung off of her.  Her eyes had stopped focusing on anything since before 5:30am.  She was not even aware of the bruises that had darkened along her ribs and pelvis.  She did not feel their pain.  Trini did not even realize that her skin was a few shades paler.  She did not care.

She had long since drifted within the black void of her mind amongst the various remnants that faded in and out of sight.  Trini did not linger on any memory, apathetic to feel any pain but unable to outrun the edges of the folding tides.  The titanium cage that had held her mind together had shattered hours ago, twisting, imploding, and warping into an asteroid field of multi-dimensional intricate maze pieces, held together by a constricting web of jagged, sharp, and dead vines laced with thorns.

Yet despite her infinite enclosure, she had still felt her friends and Sean throughout the night—not in the sense of imagining their presences or knowing that they had been in that room.  No.  She felt them in a different way—one that she couldn’t quite describe.  It was like touching but not being in physical contact with them, like feeling gusts from far off that had lost their power a mile away.  What had puzzled her further was that she could feel how far away her friends were.  And she crawled further from the shore of reality, unable to fully escape the “touch” of her friends’ presences or her memories.  Yet she kept crawling away from it.

The very presence of human contact, whether near or far, churned her stomach.  Yet now so distant was her awareness that she had forgotten about the puddle of sick saturating the carpet beside her bed, even though its stench had permeated the room.

Escapism, revulsion, and terror infected every cell in her body, leaking toxins into her blood.  She wanted nothing to do with them.  Numbness wrapped around and within her flesh, secreting tranquilizers into her heart and lungs.  Fatigue was irrelevant.  Life was irrelevant.  She did not have the will power or desire to care.

There was a soft knock at the doorway.

She did not hear it.

The person knocked again.

For the first time in over an hour and a half, Trini moved, tilting her head toward the battered doorway.  Faint curiosity pulled her attention back to the present.  The presence felt familiar to her.

“Trini, may I come in?” Sean asked.

That voice…. she thought.  Where…?

Her eyes scaled up to meet his, barely studying his features.  A pause froze them… neither long nor short but deep.

“Yes,” she finally answered, hardly moving her mouth.

Sean stepped into the room.  “How are you?” he asked, ignoring the smell.  “I brought some food for you.”

“…not hungry,” she uttered.

Nodding, Sean sat the tray on the floor.

Trini continued staring at him, her eyes slowly regaining focus.  “I know you,” she said.

“Yes, you do,” Sean said, meeting her gaze.  “We have a long history together.”

“But not continuous,” Trini said almost instantly, recalling echoes of lost memories.

“That is correct,” Sean agreed, standing at least two feet from the bed.  “We haven’t spoken with each other in almost seven years.  Do you remember what happened back then?”

“Years?” Trini asked.

“Mm-hmm,” Sean supplied.

She looked at the window.  “Fragments, sounds, voices… from another life…” she looked at him with wide eyes.  “And battles.  Screaming.”

“Yes,” Sean agreed.  “There were many.”

“Why didn’t I remember them for seven years?” she asked with a hint of demand stabbing through her voice.  “It’s all jumbled and confusing.  I know you know why.”

“I do know, but I feel you must make sense of your past before I tell you that,” Sean said, taking a step forward.  He sat on the very edge of the bed.

Trini recoiled a foot backwards.

“You have nothing to fear from me, Trini,” Sean advised, keeping still but relaxed. 

“I don’t know who you are!” Trini gasped, shaking her head slightly from side to side.

“Yes, you do, Trini,” Sean emphasized softly, his compassion flowing through his voice.  “You simply won’t remember.”

Trini squeezed her eyes shut, burying her face into her left shoulder.  “I don’t know what’s real anymore,” she said, grinding her teeth.

“Last night was real, Trini,” Sean said.

She looked up at him with wide eyes; her mouth hanging open.  “It wasn’t!” Trini argued.  “It was a dream!” She added adamantly.

“A dream that kept you up for the last couple of hours of the night?” Sean asked simply.  “No, Trini.  It happened.”

“Nothing happened,” she added vehemently.  “I was asleep.”

“Yes, Trini.  But you were awake for the later part of the night; and are in pain because of it.”

“I feel nothing,” she countered.  “I don’t believe you!” she spat in a choked voice.

“You do not have to.  Just trust your body.  Listen to it.  What does it feel like?”

“I… what?” Trini asked, baffled.

“What do you feel?” Sean asked.

She gaped at him.

“Close your eyes,” Sean encouraged.

She drifted her head from side to side, glaring into his eyes.  “No,” she admitted.

“Trust yourself,” Sean said, honesty glimmering through his face but brightest through his eyes.

Leaning forward, she narrowed her eyes, peering into Sean’s face.  Somehow she felt sincerity radiating from him.  How…?  Yet even in her confusion, she found refuge in Sean’s honesty and benevolence.  Still confused and wary, Trini bent her head forward, and closed her eyes, trying to listen to what her body was saying.  After several seconds, she slammed her hands on the mattress in fury and screamed, “I hear nothing!”

“Only because you don’t want to hear it; it wants to be heard,” Sean countered, matching her volume while keeping the serenity in his voice.

She gaped again.

Inhaling, Sean added in a softer voice, “Empty your mind of questions and desires; merely focus on your breathing.  Draw strength from it.”

She curled her lips.

“Sean… I am a mess!” Trini beseeched, staring into his face with moist eyes.

Sean lifted his eyebrows.  “You remember my name?” he asked.

“You—Jason—myself… are all I see in my mind!” Trini cried, clutching her head.  “My mind… it’s agony!”

“Then let me help you,” Sean suggested, opening his hand toward her.

Trini gazed at Sean’s hand.  “Help with what?”

“Restoring your body’s physiology by directly sharing my energy with you,” Sean explained. 

Trini scanned Sean’s hand with curiosity, distrust clawing up her spine.  “I don’t… understand…”

“Trini, I have never hurt you out of malevolence,” Sean said.  “Somewhere inside you know that.”

“I want to die,” she responded automatically almost nonchalant.

Inside, Sean’s heart bled tears while he merely nodded in understanding.  “Then you do remember this morning?” he asked in an even voice.

She did not answer.  Not even an eyebrow twitched.

“Trini, there is no honor in that wish,” Sean said.  “Can you not see that?”

“What life should I live?  The wife of a monster?  A demon?”

“You are a power ranger.  Do you remember what that is?”

Trini paused.  “Power Ranger?” she asked.  Broken and sluggish though her brain was, she struggled to hold on to something concrete.  The term tingled with … significance, but she could not remember why.

“You used to be one many years ago,” Sean continued.

“I…”  No matter how much she tried, the term signified nothing to her.

“Do you remember what I did yesterday before dusk for you and your friends?” Sean asked.  “With your old power coins?”

“Power coins…?” she whispered.  The term rippled within her mind, bouncing amongst her memories.  Yet whenever she focused on one it faded into mist before she could see it.

“That is correct,” Sean said encouragingly.

Trini mused for a moment, her eyes staring at the comforter she had wrapped around her legs.  For several seconds, she did not speak, but kept her mouth open as she searched for something to say.  Sean waited patiently for her answer, as if she were solving a quadratic equation for a high school homework assignment.

“You… ” Trini began.  Shadows, echoes, and flashes sparked and spun in her mind.  She snatched at snippets of images, sensations, and dialogue, attempting to piece together the event Sean was referencing.  Power coins, she mused.  The exterior of the Command Center flashed before her mental eye along with Zordon’s enormous green head, Tommy giving Jason his power coin, and the Power Transfer involving Rocky, Adam, and Aisha.  Yet a snippet of intuition told her that those memories were not what Sean was referring to.  She saw others but not herself.

“I—I don’t…” she stuttered.

“What do you see?” Sean asked, tilting his head.  Instead of using his telepathy to watch her thought process, he held himself back.  My telepathy could overwhelm her mind, he though.  She has not eaten and is emotionally drained.  All I can do is lend her strength like I did to Zack.  But first, I need to refocus her mind—guide it towards clarity.

She met him with a vacant stare.  However she stretched her cheek muscles in an attempt to speak, hindered only by the vacancy of permanent thought.  They had slipped through her hands like water, leaving only traces that soon evaporated.

Sean saw this in her face.  Interesting, he thought to himself.  “Try closing your eyes; it may help.”

She did.

“Good,” Sean said.  “Now focus on the phrase ‘power coins’.”

Trini sighed.  Power coins… power coins…

Sean leaned forward.  “What do you see?” he asked.


Miles away from Earth, Lord Zedd curled his fingers in midair as if closing around a shrunken foe.  He snickered. 

Following Jason’s orders, Zedd had kept a partial mental lock on Kimberly, having not learned anything during the rangers’ summit meeting.  At long last, he sensed she was alone. 

“Where is she?” he asked, darting his gaze at Earth.  Pinpointing on her mind, he activated his supervision. 

Kimberly sat cross legged on the floor of her wooden patio beside a flowerbed of lilies.  Closing her eyes, she breathed in their heavenly aroma.  “Ahh, this is just what I need,” she sighed, grinning at the beauty around her.

“Excellent!  The time is right,” he announced, his voice hissing with glee.  “Putties, pay a visit to the struggling Pink Ranger.  Give her some practice!”

Seven Z putties nodded and vanished with imploding white light.


Warmth ignited within Kimberly at the sight and smell of her flowers, their aromas surrounding her in an aura of semi-peace, but unable to banish the shards of shame carving within her.  She caressed a nearby lily.

Although she was a dedicated gymnast, gardening had always been a fun side hobby.  It brought Kimberly a joy she relished in, stroking and molding the soil around seeds and new plants.  The soil on her property was perfect for it, and she had spent countless hours over the years cultivating it with compassion, honesty, and diligence.  Whenever she was too busy to work on it, Jake stepped in to help out, neither a curse nor growl stirring from his throat or even the thought of one.

Though both of them were childless, they viewed the garden as their child.  While the desire lingered in them to have a baby, they wanted to enjoy their lives together before introducing another into their lives.  They had married each other to enrich both their lives, not to start a family.  And they were more than satiated with each other.

Their garden was a sight to behold now.  Stone urns stood along the edges of the patio, each holding a different type of rose in a batch of fresh earth.  An arch of grass stretched thirty feet in all directions from the patio.  Beyond that, bushes, shrubs, and trees chorused in an ensemble of mingled tranquility and diversity.  This was her sanctuary.  Someday soon, perhaps, her future child would find solace here.  It was ready for it.

However, the solace did not pierce her current agitation.

Kimberly drew in a breath filling her body with rejuvenating air.  Though her shame was bitter inside her mouth, the breeze gliding along her skin soothed the top layers of tension, unable to quell the deeper ones.  She sighed, feeling the knots stretch as she did so.  I might ask Zack for a massage if he has time later…

All of a sudden, seven putties materialized in a ring around her.  Before she thought of hitting one, all of them seized her and threw her into the grass.  Stomping to her feet, she shook her hair out of her face.

“I guess I’m glad I didn’t shower after all,” she grunted.  Stomping to her feet, she opened herself in a fighting stance while the putties bounced around her.  “Come on, clay-brains,” she challenged.  “I could use some exercise.”

The nearest one in front of her inched toward her, his hands wobbling at his side.

These guys, haven’t changed a bit, Kimberly smirked.  Too bad I have.  And with that she slid her back leg to her front leg, pivoted, and raised her front leg in standard sliding sidekick prep.  But just as the advancing putty cowered behind its arms, waving them frantically in front of his Z, Kimberly rotated her hips over, swinging her standing leg around, stepped into a reverse lunge with her lifted leg and punched the putty behind her in the center of his Z.  Its body crumbled apart in vanishing gray and white energy.

The rest of the putties scurried away from her.

“What’s the matter, putties?  Scared?” Kimberly taunted.  “We memorized that in high school for crying out loud!”

Three putties moved in, but Kimberly was too fast for them.  Grabbing hold of the middle one’s shoulders, she slammed her left knee into its Z and then snapped her foot into the adjacent putty’s Z, immediately followed by ramming her right elbow into the remaining one.

The remaining three putties danced behind her, unsure of what to do.

I gotta end this quickly, Kimberly reminded herself.  If I let these guys touch me again, they could finish me.  The memories of how much stronger Zedd’s putties were compared to Rita’s came flooding back to her.  She then cart wheeled out to the side, and without stopping, shifted into a twist flip, kicking the nearest one to the ground.  Rising to her feet, she side kicked the closest putty’s Z with her right foot and then front kicked the remaining one without waiting for the previous one to disassemble.  Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the putty she had kicked to the ground squirming away.  Oh, shoot, I missed!  Frantic, she slammed her elbow into the putty’s Z.  Falling through it, she hit the ground with an “Oaf!”

Gratified that the putty came apart, she sighed, “That was close.”


Inside the Chamber of Command, Zedd tapped his fingers along his throne’s armrest.  “Well, I guess I should have expected that, but don’t get too cocky, Kimberly,” he began, “I have big plans for you!”  A bolt of lightning slithered up his staff.  “Be ready, ranger.”


Kimberly scurried down the hall, halting just behind the guest bedroom doorway.  Taking a moment to catch her breath, she scanned the room.  Trini was still sitting on the bed, her eyes closed in deep meditation.  At the sight of her, Kimberly’s stomach clenched, unable to hold back her guilt.  Not wanting to distract herself, she darted her eyes away and then noticed Sean.

He sat before Trini in Indian Style, seemingly unaware of Kimberly's intrusion.  “Good… Focus your breath; let it fill you with clarity,” Sean instructed in a gentle voice, “all the way down to your core.  Breathe in… out.”

Amazing, Kimberly thought.  Trini’s actually calm.

Indeed, she was.  The rage and hysteria that had deranged Trini’s face had slid away.  While her hair was still messy, she held herself up from her core, no longer sinking.  To Kimberly, Trini almost looked like herself again after a bad battle with the flu.

Registering this and reminding herself of why she had come here, she approached Sean.

“Excuse me, Sean?” Kimberly whispered.

“Hmm?” Sean asked.  He turned around.  “Oh, hello, Kimberly.”

“I don’t mean to interrupt—is this a bad time?”

“No.  What can I do for you?”

“Can I talk to you?”

“Of course,” he replied, getting up.  Turning back to Trini, he added, “Continue focusing on the cycle of air.” He followed Kimberly outside the shattered door frame.  “What’s wrong?”  His voice was patient and calm yet inviting while his body did not tense as he saw the apprehension returning in her face.

“I was just attacked by Zedd’s putties,” she uttered in a whispered.

“Really?  I had not noticed.”  Sean had been focusing all of his attention on Trini.  Still, he had thought he would have sensed a flicker of putties.  Inwardly, he sighed, accepting that his perception was dwindling.  Then, a thought leapt to his mind.  “Tell me, did they look any different from how you remember them?”

“No,” Kimberly answered, shaking her head.  “Wait; has Zedd improved them?”

“Yes, by removing their weak spot and fusing them with Rita’s super putties.”

“He made them stronger!” she said, laying her head against the wall.

“I would bet he used his regular ones to test you.”

“Test me?  What do you mean?”

“He’s interested in you because of last night,” Sean said, stretching his senses out.  “If only Zack or I had seen you.”

“Seen me?  What are you talking about?” Irritation crackled within Kimberly. 

Sean stared at her, studying her face.  “Last night, when you smashed through this door; how did you survive your encounter with Jason?”

“I was morphed,” Kimberly said.

“But your helmet had been punctured; I saw it,” Sean elaborated.  “Something else occurred but I’ve been uncertain as to what.”


“She doesn’t even know?” Zedd exclaimed, watching from his throne.  “Curious, Pink Ranger.  She must have shut her eyes when Jason blasted her through the door last night.  Come on, Sean; tell me what I want to know.  There’s only one thing that could have protected her last night without her knowledge.  And you and I know what that is.  Now say it!”  He added in a whispered snarl, squeezing his free hand into a clutching fist.


Kimberly threw her head back in a double take.  “I’m alive because Billy, Tommy, Rocky, and Adam came to our rescue,” she said, peering at Sean.  “They teleported in right after I smashed through that door.”  She indicated the ruined doorway.

“Yes, but something else surprised Jason,” Sean said, stretching his senses to encompass the room, tracing the ripples of energy within it back to last night.  “Something he had not expected so soon.  He could have easily neutralized all of you and fled, but I do not believe that was his plan.”  He shut his eyes, redirecting his senses.  “Zedd is watching us.”

“What?”  Alarm shrieked within Kimberly, louder than her voice could portray.

“It cannot be helped.  He suspects what I suspect.  Kimberly, what happened after Jason blasted you through the door?  What did Jason do?”  Urgency surged through Sean’s voice now.

Kimberly racked her brains.  “I—I was… on the floor—still in pain,” she stammered.  “But I did catch a glimpse of him studying me.  His eyebrows were raised and his face had loosened.”

“What did he hit you with?”

“An enormous fireball.”  She held up her hands, showing the approximate size of it.  “This big.  He hurled it at my chest.”

Sean took a step back, musing.  “He wanted you unconscious I bet—or at least incapacitated.  But instead you were still morphed when Zack and I arrived.”  He snapped his fingers.  “That’s what happened!”  He smiled, joyous at the epiphany in his mind.

“What?” she snapped out of impatience.

“You protected yourself… or rather your sacred animal did,” Sean surmised, grinning from ear to ear.  “Ahh, the annoyances of the fatigued mind.  Kimberly, you can shield yourself.  That’s your power!


On the balcony of the Chamber of Command, Lord Zedd clasped his free fingers into a fist.  “Ahh!  Of course!” Zedd seethed with glee.  “It makes perfect sense!”  Directing his thoughts to Jason, he added, My Lord, I have your answer!


Kimberly stood there in awe.  “You’re kidding,” she jested.  “I have a power?”

“You saw that Tommy and Billy each have one.  My telepathy is no exception.  Why should yours not be accepted?”

Kimberly turned her head away.  “’Cause it could’ve come from something else,” she admitted, dropping her gaze to the floor.

Sean peered into her face, not reading her mind.  “Muiranthius still haunts you?” he asked.  She looked at him, blushed, and turned her gaze away.  “I had a feeling.  There is no shame in fearing that.” He added, grasping her shoulder gently.  “You may indeed have some powers from Maligore but now is not the time to discuss that.  Until we know for certain, let us be glad that you and Trini are alive.  However, I have a feeling your protection came from your sacred animal instead of from Maligore.”

Kimberly stared into his eyes with her now moist ones.  “How can you be sure?” she asked, almost demanding, her voice cracking slightly.

Sean relaxed his face into compassion.  “Because I do not sense any other evil in that room except for the remnants of Jason’s presence,” he answered.

Kimberly blinked in confusion, glancing at the room and then at Sean.

“Last night, he stained the room with his aura,” Sean answered.

“Oh!  I didn’t know you could do that.  Wait!  Isn’t that harmful to Trini—to us?” she exclaimed, surprising herself by remembering to whisper.

“Not necessarily,” Sean said.  “On the contrary, it is helpful for her.”

Kimberly reminded herself to be patient.  “Sean…” she began, pushing her bubbling impulsivity down through gritted teeth.  “With all due respect, I don’t want her near any of him.”

“That cannot be avoided,” Sean reminded her calmly.  “Sooner or later, she will have to face him again.  But I understand your objections.  Still, it is also because of your loyalty to your friend that I doubt your shield came from Maligore.”

Kimberly looked at him again, disbelief yearning from beyond her eyes.  And yet she also knew that it was true.  How could something evil perform an act of love? she thought.  Wait.  What about when Katherine...?

“Jason did all of this?” Trini uttered, cutting Kimberly’s retort of before she could express it.

Steered out of her train of thought, Kimberly faced her again, as did Sean. 

“Not all of it,” Sean admitted, stepping toward her.  Kimberly followed.  “Everyone is responsible for their own actions.  Some of this is mine.”

“Why… would you… hurt me?” Trini asked, piecing thoughts together.

“It is never my intention to cause my friends harm unless it is necessary,” Sean responded, remorse sprinkling his voice.  “I did not mean for you to experience this.  I am sorry you are suffering,” he added, staring into her eyes, sincerity pouring out of his face.

Kimberly regarded Sean.  She felt there was something Sean was not saying.  However he did not elaborate.

“I remember… I think…” Trini said, squishing her eyelids together in concentration.  “But it’s hard to hold onto anything.  I can still feel him… in this room… on my skin—inside me.” She added, whimpering as revulsion and horror rose to the surface.  “This… pain… is unbearable,” Trini stammered, clutching her shoulders.  She quivered.  “Wh—what… has he become?  It’s… foreign—alien.  What have… I… become?”

“You are recovering parts of yourself that were sealed away years ago,” Sean said.

Trini glued her gaze onto Sean’s face, her jaw still trembling.  “What else was taken from me?”

“Your ESP,” Sean admitted.

Kimberly bit back from gawking, forcing herself to keep a straight face for Trini or at least for herself.

“That’s why you never suspected afterward,” Sean said.

“After what?” Kimberly asked, forgetting to stop herself.

“When Jason accepted his path and committed this sin,” Sean said, relieved that he was finally divulging this to Trini and Kimberly.

“Show me what… happened, Sean,” Trini beseeched.  “Take me home.”

Sean remained composed while washing his anxiety away.  His mind had to remain clear, especially now.  “You must eat something before we go there,” he said.  “Your body will fail itself if you went there now.”

“How could I possibly feel worse than I do now?” Trini asked, almost whining.  “I feel like my body’s being ripped in two!” she added in almost a scream.

“But your soul is intact!” Sean emphasized.  “That and your mind are now healing.  If you went home now I fear it would shatter in its current condition.”

“IT’S ALREADY SHATTERED!” Trini spat, agony fuming from her pours.  The edges of her mouth drooped into a wail.

“Not completely,” Sean replied.  “It is close, however.  With the right amount of pressure, it could snap.”

“I want to know!” Trini snarled through gritted teeth.

Sean studied her and considered for several seconds.

“Trini, please eat something,” Kimberly urged, holding up the tray.  Due to the restless energy dancing throughout her muscles, she had scooped it up so as to do something with her hands.  Though by now the food was at room temperature, she could still smell a hint of the aroma.  “I can warm it up for you if you want.  Did you want something else?”  Annoyed that she was reduced to the role of 1950s housewife, Kimberly held her position, desperate to do something.

“It’s fine,” Trini said, not looking at Kimberly.  “I’ll eat it.”

Smiling, Kimberly sighed.  Walking forward, she sat the tray down.  Trini picked up the fork and stabbed at an egg covered potato and stuck it in her mouth.

“She’ll need more than food,” Sean said to Kimberly after Trini had swallowed.  “As will Zack and I.”

“Like what?” Kimberly asked.

“A sharing of energy,” he answered.  “We must equalize the flow of energy streaming from me, or I will die, thus neutralizing their powers.”

“And we’ll be weaker,” Kimberly said.

“We will need Zack for it to be effective,” he said.

“For what?” Zack asked from the doorway.

Kimberly spun around, eyes open in surprise.  “I thought you were on your way to work?” she gasped.

“I wanted to check in before I left,” Zack replied, glancing at her and then at Sean.  “Sean, what do you need?”

“Ideally both of you,” he said, now crossing to the bed and sitting opposite of Trini, slightly off from her center.  “I do not know how long this will take.”

“I’m here for the team,” Zack responded.

“Then would you please sit beside Trini to form a triangle?” Sean asked, smiling in relief.

Nodding, Zack did so.

“Kimberly, please stand watch,” Sean asked, empowered voice with his inner strength.  He stared at Trini and Zack, focusing on the separate waterfalls of energy pouring out of him into them.  He was connected to them in this fashion but they were unable to manipulate the connection.  It was time for the waterfalls to become a river—and then perhaps a pool.  I must live until their trials are completed, Sean had decided earlier in the night.  Zack’s has not even begun.  Fueled by his goals, he turned his attention back to the present.  “I suspect we won’t have much time before Jason attacks again,” he added to Kimberly.

“I’ll hold off whatever comes for as long as I can,” Kimberly affirmed, moving toward the window.  She ran her index finger along her attached communicator.  “Help’s only a touch away.”

“Thank you,” Sean said.

Kimberly had just lifted her hand to the glass when she noticed she was still in her robe.  “If we’re expecting company, I think I’ll change for a first impression,” she announced.

Smiles erupted on Zack and Sean’s faces.  Trini did not hear her.

“Go ahead, Kimberly,” Sean said.  “And while you’re at it, see if you can contact the others.  Zedd will most likely take advantage of this news.  It’s early enough that their work lives won’t be interrupted.”

“No problem,” Kimberly called over her shoulder, already scurrying down the hallway, her robe half off.

Excellent, Sean thought, turning back to Trini and Zack.  Trini had set her fork down, waiting.  She had moved the tray to her right side, the eggs only eaten.  At least she ate something, Sean consoled himself.  That helps.  Closing his eyes and lifting his chin, he relaxed his focus.  The energy tendrils surfaced once more, slithering over his skin.  He opened his eyes.  “Please take my hands,” he added to Trini and Zack, extending both of his.  Zack grasped Sean’s right while Trini grasped Sean’s left.  The tendrils remained on Sean even though they brushed along the others’ hands.  He felt Zack’s uncertainty.  “In the long run, this will help us, Zack, until your trials are completed.  Rest assured, I will not put myself or either of you in peril with this.”

Zack nodded, returning to his original resolve.

“Open yourselves up to the energy streaks,” Sean instructed.  “Reach out for that power that should be yours:  The power of the universe.  The power within you.”

Trini and Zack shut their eyes in silent meditation.  Sean opened himself up to them, feeling them stretch out toward him.

Chapter Text

Even though it was early in the morning, it had only taken Lord Zedd two minutes to round up everyone into the Chamber of Command and relay his findings to Jason.  They stood between Zedd’s throne and the balcony.

“I don’t know for certain what form it takes, but I suspect it is energy,” Zedd finished.

“I agree, and as of now she doesn’t yet know how to control it,” Jason commented.  “You’ve done well, Lord Zedd.  We can now move forward.”

“Excellent!” Zedd rejoiced, squeezing his staff in mirth.

“Draw the rangers into battle,” Jason commanded.  “Trini will go back home to escape the confusion.  I’ll wait for her there.”

Lord Zedd pivoted around, creeping up to his balcony.  Even in his “more evil” humor, his euphoria threatened to overflow.  “At last!” he sighed with raucous vibrato, blasting his supervision at specific points on Earth.  “All of the rest of the rangers are in pairs, my Lord,” he reported.

“Divide our forces accordingly,” Jason ordered.  “Split their attention.  Sean should be the only one who interferes with me.”

“As you command,” Lord Zedd said.

“Be merciless with the others,” Jason commanded, evaporating into flames.

“Scorpina, Goldar: pay a visit to dear Kimberly,” Zedd ordered.  “Drive Trini’s friends away from her.”

Both nodded.  Gleaming with gleeful smiles, they vanished in orange flames.

Bringing his other hand to his staff, Zedd charged it with white lightning from his tubes.  “Power Rangers, let me introduce you to the new Monarch of Evil’s reign!”  He announced, swinging his staff at the earth.  Lightning scorched the lunar atmosphere as it raced to Earth while thunder reported throughout the Chamber.

 


 

North of Angel Grove, Billy rested along the outer side wall of Tommy’s house, taking in the scenery.  He had just taken in a deep breath of the fresh air when Zedd’s lightning struck the ground four feet from him.  Warned by the heat grazing his skin, Billy jumped away into a fighting stance, facing the impact.  In the lightning’s wake stood Inciserator, a gray skinned, humanoid fusion of a giant termite and a misshapen human bodybuilder.  Snarling through its enormous mouth, it aimed its dull silver wand at Billy.

“Greetings again, Ranger,” it said, flourishing its other arm from underneath its cape.

“So the mayhem begins again,” Billy said in sotto voce, recognizing the resurrected monster.  Back when Katherine had stolen Kimberly’s power coin, Zedd had conjured Inciserator to lure the rest of the rangers into battle so that Kimberly could be lured into a trap.  Only this time Trini’s the prize, Billy reminded himself.  That’s not going to happen today.

 


 

Back on the moon, Zedd laughed.

“Knowing our plans won’t help you, Billy,” Lord Zedd said, shifting his supervision back to Angel Grove.  “Let’s keep things interesting, shall we!” he added, looking at Rocky and Adam as they went over numbers in their office. 

Rocky rubbed his eyes and yawned.  Like the rest of the other rangers (minus Sean) they had not gone back to sleep after their summit meeting. 

“Excellent,” Zedd celebrated.  Taking aim, he unleashed a surge of white lightning at the couple.

 


 

 

“So we have thirty students testing for Red belt, and sixteen trying out for their first Black Belt,” Adam recited to Rocky, looking over the list on his clipboard.  “Nice turnout.”

“I agree,” Rocky responded, checking his Excel spreadsheet.  “Yep, that looks about right.  Oh, we’re missing a name with the black belts.  Would you read out the ones you have?”

“Sure.  Aaro—”

Before they felt anything, two white lightning bolts caught and engulfed them into nothing.  The clipboard dropped to the floor, almost tap dancing before collapsing on its back.

 


 

“Now the fun begins,” Zedd commented, almost laughing.  “I’ll set them down in the park for you, Rita.” Pointing his staff, he fired lighting from it once more.

Beside him, Rita Repulsa grinned, peering through her telescope.  “Fantastic,” she purred, removing her eye from the eyepiece.  Pointing her staff at the earth, she fired a red-orange beam at it.  “They’re gonna hate this!” she screamed with glee.

 


 

“Whoa!” Rocky yelled falling onto his bottom, and rolling onto his side.

“You okay,” Adam asked.

“Yeah, just lost my footing—and apparently my chair,” Rocky smirked. 

The two got to their feet.  Rocky looked around.  They were standing on a small grass covered hill with a single tree at the top of it.  Before them was a meadow.  No one else was in sight.  “The park?” he asked.  “I don’t like this.  It’s not even 8:00.”

“Agreed.  Look out!” Adam cried, pointing at Rita’s beam fifteen feet in front of them.

An enormous humanoid Skunk, dressed in Marine combat attire appeared before them.  “Care for a change in stench?” it asked in a high, jovial manner.

Thisstinks,” Rocky spat out slowly, cursing the cliché and Rita’s sick sense of humor.

“Though it is appropriate,” Adam half-joked.

“I’m not in the mood for jokes,” Rocky said, his face set with annoyance.

“Neither am I,” Adam agreed.

In unison, they pulled out their morphers and cried:  “It’s Morphin’ Time!”  Red and black energy beams danced along their respective bodies.

“Frog Ninjetti Power!”

“Ape Ninjetti Power!”

The Black and Red Rangers faced off against The Skunk.

 


 

Meanwhile Billy kept his composure, staring into Inciserator’s enormous eyes.  Neither had moved.

“I’ll enjoy eating you!” Inciserator announced with glee.

“Not this time, Inciserator!” Billy retorted, slightly surprising himself by remembering the monster’s name.  Without pausing, he pushed out his hand, sending out a shove of telekinetic energy at Inciserator.

“Not today, ranger!” Inciserator cried out with a laugh, holding its wand in front of its face.  A cylindrical cerulean force field flashed into visibility, refracting Billy’s invisible energy.  It vanished instantly as Inciserator lowered its wand.  “Did you think you’d surprise me with that trick?!”

Billy smirked.  “Not in the slightest,” he said, clasping his morpher underneath his belt.  “Just testing you.  It’s Morphin’ Time!  Wolf  Ninjetti Power!”  And he morphed.

“You don’t scare me, ranger!” Inciserator barked.

“I’m not one for intimidation,” Billy calmly retorted.  “Power Lance!” he added, pulling out his lance from behind is belt.  He swung at Inciserator’s wand.  Inciserator parried it back with a grunt and advanced.

 


 

Back in Angel Grove Park, Rocky and Adam still stood locked in a standoff against the Skunk, none of them making a move.

Fascinating, Adam thought to himself.  Since when did Rita and Zedd’s monsters hold off on attacking?

To his right, however, irritation burned within Rocky.  The sight of the monster had conjured the image of Trini’s violated body, her mangled mind.  Rocky drove his fingertips into his palms, trying to calm himself but to no avail.  All he remembered was that justice (or was it vengeance?) needed to be sought after.  But that could not happen.  He was a protector, not a soldier.  The impossibility of their situation had forbidden him to take such action, but with a monster in their midst (especially from Jason’s empire), Rocky felt the urge to unleash his frustration on it.  However, he also battled to keep his wits.  The last thing any of them needed was one of them going out on a vendetta.  As a red ranger, he had a responsibility to his teammates first and then to his wishes.  His friends came first—always did.

Unfortunately, the Skunk was not in a hurry.  It stood in front of them, scratching its nose with its claws.

Out of the corner of their eyes, Rocky and Adam peered at each other, both wondering the same thing.  Rocky looked back at it first.

“So what’s your first move, you overgrown rodent!” Rocky challenged, a bit fiercer than he had intended.

In answer, The Skunk lifted its paws above its left shoulder with about five inches between them.  At once, a projectile device solidified into existence out of greenish-yellow smoke.

“Wait; is that—” Rocky began.

“A bazooka?” Adam finished, his heartbeat quickening.  “Move!”

The two ran in opposite directions.  However, before they had taken their third step, The Skunk shot two yellow missile-shaped energy projectiles simultaneously.  Crashing into Rocky and Adam’s chests, they exploded in a blast of fire and smoke. 

Rocky and Adam slammed into each other’s backs, tumbling downhill toward the monster. 

For a minute, Adam forgot he had legs.  “Man, that hurt!” he squeezed out of his mouth, pressing his hand to his chest, feeling the rest of his body.  A black char mark ringed with sparse flame now stained his suit.  He patted the flames out.  “Rocky… you alive?” he added.

“Unfortunately,” Rocky grunted, rising to his knees.

Adam cracked a smile and then grimaced as he breathed in too deeply.  Good, he thought, rolling onto his side.  He dug his toes into the ground as he pushed onto his knees.  Man, that almost felt like when Maligore slapped me! he commented; an image he did not want to see again.  When he had been struck down by Maligore on Muiranthius, he had thought that Maligore was going to eat him.  The force of the assault had rendered him temporarily immobile.

Meanwhile the Skunk was hooting with laughter.

Rocky shook his head and glared at The Skunk.  “Okay, this skunk’s hand it!” he grunted, dropping to a knee.

“Can’t even stand, can you!” the Skunk chuckled. 

Rocky cracked a grin and uttered a shallow chuckle.  “You wish,” he said, standing, new strength flowing in him.  “Thank you morphing power.  Follow my lead,” he whispered to Adam.

“You got it.” Adam nodded.

Pulling out his Power Sword, Rocky charged at The Skunk.

 


 

Meanwhile Billy cut at Inciserator’s head and then slashed at its middle.  The monster parried both attacks and reposted.

Slash.  Parry.  Advance.  Repost.  Kick.  Punch.  Cut.  Duck.  Swing.  Dodge.  Slash.  Parry.  The battle went back and forth, neither gaining the upper hand.

This guy’s better than last time, Billy admitted.  He’s got to have a weakness.

But just then, Inciserator rammed its fist into Billy’s lance.  Billy stammered backward, finding his balance.

“You couldn’t defeat me last time,” Inciserator growled, seizing the opportunity by swinging its mace-like wand into Billy’s chest, sending him backward, “What makes you think you can this time?”  It swung around, heaving its wand horizontally at Billy.

Acting on instinct, Billy dug his lance into the ground behind him with one hand, and caught Inciserator’s wand with his other.

“Hope, you pathetic insect!”

Roaring, Inciserator unleashed five tight purple energy beams from its wand, two hitting Billy’s biceps while the others drilled into his chest.

Groaning, Billy rolled backward but pulled Inciserator with him, snatching his blade blaster out of his holster, and ramming the blade into Inciserator’s stomach.

Inciserator opened his mouth in a pained exhalation of breath and then clamped its jaws around Billy’s right shoulder.

Billy stiffened his scream as pain dug into his shoulder, while not feeling any teeth.  Grinding his own, he focused on his intent and teleported ten feet behind Inciserator.

Having lost its foundation, the monster crumpled to the ground but instead of exploding, it merely groaned.

“That’s not good,” Billy noted, glancing at his blade blaster.

 


 

“You’re not winning this round that easily, Blue Ranger!” Zedd yelled, aiming his staff at Inciserator.  “Arise with new strength, Inciserator!” he instructed while shooting lightning at it.

 


 

Back on Earth, Billy stammered to his feet, sucking in deep breaths.  Just when he was raising his eyes at the monster, Zedd’s lightning hit it.  For a split instant, Billy thought that it was going to grow, but instead it merely rose to its feet, its wound healed.

I’m going to need a bigger blade, Billy thought, squeezing his weapons’ handles.

Meanwhile, the monster turned at him, glaring.  Roaring, Inciserator shot out four enormous purple eye blasts.  The force of them hurled Billy backward in a shower of sparks.  Despite the impact, Billy used the momentum to springboard to his feet.  Snarling, Inciserator charged at Billy with new rage and focus, swinging its wand and free fist in random intervals, using its cape to add confusion.  Billy scampered backward, studying his opponent for an opening.  In the confusion, Inciserator slapped its wand at Billy’s blade blaster hand.  At the last second, Billy moved to parried it, but Inciserator let go and sank his fists into Billy’s hips.  Billy flew backward several feet, slamming into Tommy’s house, but not hard enough to pierce the wood.

His vision spinning from having the wind knocked out of him, Billy tapped Tommy’s button on his communicator without looking at it.  “Tommy, I need help—Ahh!”

Inciserator pelted him with a shower of purple energy bolts from its wand.  “By the time he gets here, you’ll be dead!” he snickered with a growl.

“Then I guess I’m early,” Tommy’s voice responded from the sidelines.

“Huh?” Inciserator spat, turning in the direction of the voice, halting his attack.

Tommy was at the front door, dressed in a maroon suit with a briefcase in one hand, glaring at the monster.  Anger steamed from his pores.  “I thought I smelled something disgusting,” he commented.  “You alright, Billy?”

“I’ve been worse and better,” Billy responded, getting to his feet with a few grunts.

Tommy tightened his glare at Inciserator.  “You shouldn’t have done that,” he warned.

“Oh, I’m shaking.  I came to fight!” the monster barked back.

“You’ll regret those words,” Tommy dictated, ice chiseling his glare.  “It’s Morphin’ Time.  Falcon Ninjetti Power!”

He morphed with Saba already in his right hand.  “Ready for a fight, Saba?” he asked, not taking his eyes off of Inciserator.

“Always,” replied the enchanted saber.  “And might I say, it feels good to be active again.”

“Feeling’s mutual,” Tommy replied.

“Blah!  Blah!  Blah!” Inciserator chanted mockingly, advancing toward Tommy.

However, Tommy was faster.  Having already leapt into the air, he front flipped, and slashed Saba’s blade across Inciserator’s middle before it was ready to attack.

It staggered backward, groping at its chest.  “Good… shot,” It admitted.

“Not finished,” Tommy said.  Flicking his wrist over, Saba unleashed twin ruby eye beams at Inciserator’s chest.  Inciserator staggered backward under the force of it, yelling as sparks erupted from its core.  Tommy advanced, spun on the spot, and slashed across Inciserator’s middle again, white electricity crackling along its skin.  “Told you.”

Screaming, the monster disintegrated.

Tommy turned his back on the debris.  “Thank you, Saba,” he said, sheathing the saber.

“You’re welcome,” Saba replied.

“Seems like you remembered your powers well,” Billy said, walking toward Tommy.

“Kinda hard to forget,” Tommy responded.  “And I was a bit angry.”

“Really?” Billy joked.  “I couldn’t tell.”

“We need to get moving.  Kimberly just called me, saying that Trini, Zack, and Sean are doing some sort of Power ritual to reenergize themselves and that Zedd might take advantage of it.”

“I have no doubt he already has if he sent Inciserator to keep us busy.”

“She couldn’t get hold of Rocky or Adam.  They might be in trouble.”

Billy nodded.  “Agreed.  You teleport to Kimberly’s and I’ll help Rocky and Adam.”

“Be careful,” Tommy said.  He was just about to teleport when three lightning bolts slammed into both of them from across the yard, ramming them into the ground.

“I guess Zedd doesn’t want us to go,” Billy moaned, massaging his chest.  “It’s a good thing you’ve got that shield.”

Tommy uttered a chuckle.  “I wish it could deflect sometimes,” he coughed.

“You’ll need more than that shield to deal with me, Tommy,” Zedd snarled.

Billy and Tommy darted their eyes in front of them, Tommy’s wide open in shock while Billy relaxed his.  Lord Zedd was twelve yards away, marching fiercely toward them with staff in hand.

“I didn’t wait all these years to exact revenge just so you could weasel out of it!” Zedd growled.

“This could be a problem,” Tommy said.

 


 

Meanwhile, back in Angel Grove Park, Rocky swung his sword at the Skunk.  To his surprise, the Skunk blocked it again with its forearm, unscathed by the blade, and kicked Rocky backward.  Taking aim, it fired again at both of them.

Rocky rolled sideways out of the way of the energy missile.  Adam jumped over his.

“Missed us!” Rocky gloated, charging forward while rising to his feet.

“Curse you!” the monster yelled.

“Curse this!” Rocky yelled, channeling his weight in an overhead sword cut, cracking The Skunk’s bazooka in half in a shower of sparks.

“NO!!” The Skunk screamed in horror, hopping backward.

“That’s that,” Rocky commented, smirking.

“How DARE YOU!!!” the monster shrieked, devastation and shock flooding its being.

“No, Skunk,” Adam said, holding his axe in cannon mode, aiming at the monster.  (Hearing Adam behind him, Rocky dodged to the side.)  “How dare you and your master!”  Channeling his outrage and frustration, he yelled and fired.  The bright magenta energy beams from the cannon’s mouth pierced the monster’s fur, sparks exploding from its chest where its heart should be.  It staggered backward two yards.

Smiling at the well placed shot, Rocky back flipped to Adam’s side, and clapped a hand on his shoulder.  “Nice shot, Adam,” he said.

“Hold on,” Adam said, his quiet voice charged with worry.  “Look.”  He pointed at the monster.

Rocky turned his gaze.  “Huh?”

The monster was still standing.  Snarling with irritation, and wreathed with the smoke from Adam’s attack, it glared at both of them.

“Well, I’ve never used the cannon on my axe before,” Adam confessed.  “Looks like Rita made this monster specifically for us.”

“That’s right!” it snarled, creeping toward them, craws raised.  “Now do you understand why your sword slashes have been useless, Red Ranger?!”  Fury blazed from the monster.  Without waiting for a comeback, it bent forward from its waist, spraying them with yellowish liquid from its tail.

Rocky and Adam bounced out of the way, but not before their weapons, gloves, and parts of their fronts were drenched.  Immediately, their weapons and gloves began smoking, their skin sizzling underneath their outfits.

“Ah!” Rocky yelled, dropping his sword and ripping off both of his gloves.  “That burns!”

Roaring again, the monster fired a yellow energy missile from each hand at the rangers.  Distracted by the acid spray, the missiles exploded upon their chests, right where the spray had hit them.  Screaming, they tumbled backward.

Rocky winced, the thumb sides of his hands lightly flash burned.  “Adam, any ideas?” he asked.

“Not right now,” Adam said, spotting small holes in his suit.  This is not good.  He looked at the monster.

“And I’m just getting started!” it snarled.

“Blade blasters?” Adam suggested.

“Best idea so far,” Rocky answered, unsheathing his in blaster mode.  “I can’t do anything else until my hands heal first.”  Taking aim, he fired a few shots.

The Skunk blocked its face with its hands, snarling afterwards.

“I’ll cover you,” Adam pulled out his blade blaster, switched it to blaster mode, and fired a continuous black beam at the monster.

Rocky followed suit, making sure not to move his thumb much.

 


 

Three dilemmas and no time to think, analyzed the Blue Ranger, still staring at Lord Zedd.

Billy shoved himself to his feet, stepping in front of his friend.

“Tommy, get going,” he ordered.  “Leave Zedd to me.”

Tommy regarded Billy.  “Are you sure?”  We should stay a team; we’re spread too thin as it is, he thought in a heartbeat.

“I can deal with Zedd,” Billy said, his voice soaked in seriousness.

Surprise and apprehension leapt into Tommy, griping him with uncertainty.  Too much was at stake here.

“Tommy,” Billy emphasized.  “Jason isn’t playing games today.  He’ll kill all of us to get to Trini.”

“So will I!” Zedd said, seething with murder as he charged his staff once more.  Swinging it forward almost like a hammer, he shot forth another barrage of lightning bolts.  They rammed into both rangers, knocking them to their knees.  Flipping his staff to his other side, he charged it with shimmering ruby energy from his tubes and stabbed the Z forward, as if impaling the air before him.  Streams of fire blasted Billy and Tommy, smashing them backward into the ground.

“Billy, you can’t take this guy alone,” Tommy said, getting to his knees again.

“Yes, I can!  In the name of the Wolf, GO!”  Billy yelled, pointing at Tommy without turning away from Zedd.

All of a sudden, blue electricity crackled around Tommy’s torso and then spread over his entire body.  “Billy, don’t do this.  We can’t lose y—!” His voice faded into an echo as he teleported away as a white column.

We can’t lose you either, Billy thought.

“Brave move, Ranger,” Zedd chuckled.  “You fared well against Inciserator.  Shall we see what else you’ve learned from Sean these past nine years?

“Closer to eight and a half, actually,” Billy said, raising his lance into a middle guard.  “Just bring it, Zedd.”

Lord Zedd regarded him for a handful of seconds, letting the silence engulf the area.

If this had been Billy’s first year as a ranger, he would have been fighting with his decision, but he stood poised and clear-minded, trusting in his friends and himself.  This was right.  If he could keep Zedd focused on him, then the others would not be in as much danger.  Unfortunately, Rita and Jason were still free, but that could not be helped.  Swatting away any other worries or responsibilities, Billy opened himself to the moment, seeing the full picture of this universe.  Everything else was irrelevant.

Zedd lifted a finger, pointing at Billy’s heart.

Anticipating a second and a half before it was fully lifted, Billy sidestepped out of the way as a tiny lightning bolt sizzled past him, scathing the trunk of a nearby tree.  Sean had used similar ones to test Billy’s reaction time.  Aiming with his finger, Billy shot two ninja ranger energy beams at Zedd.  Zedd swapped them away like flies.  In the split second opening, Billy spun his lance overhead and swung it down at Zedd’s exposed brain.  Zedd intersected it with his staff at the last second, pulling it towards him so that Billy could almost feel his breath.

“This isn’t a game, Billy,” he growled.

Prepared for this, Billy pulled Zedd’s staff upward telekinetically (Zedd caught it after a few inches but it was all the time Billy needed.)  While Zedd was distracted, Billy lodged the bar of his lance into Zedd’s unguarded hip, ran forward and slammed Zedd into the side of Tommy’s house.  Upon hitting the wall, Zedd dug his feet into the ground and roared, unleashing a cannon blast of fire and lightning from his chest at Billy.  Billy flew backward, landing in a crouched stance.  He drew in a deep breath.

Those first attacks took more out of me than I thought, he commented.  Or maybe it’s the planet.  He still had to remind himself that this was not Aquitar.  A part of him still felt (and rightly so) that the past day was surreal

“Glad to see you have some fight left in you, Blue Ranger,” Zedd said.  “Come on!”

Billy tightened his fingers around his lance, studying Zedd’s defenses.  I don’t see any openings now, but I’d better attack first before he does.  He charged at Zedd, silent in his courage.

 


 

Meanwhile, across the state, Kimberly dodged Goldar’s overhead sword cut and missed Scorpina’s claw strike to her face by inches through chance on her part.  Kimberly jumped backward a couple of yards, unsheathing her blade/blaster, keeping it in dagger form.  Okay, I just have to keep between them and the house, Kimberly reminded herself, holding her blade/blaster up.  She had always been better with her bow and arrow but since Goldar had knocked it out of her hands across the yard, she could not break her ground to retrieve it.  But there’s nothing stopping them from teleporting inside.  Why haven’t they? she added, curiosity sparking inside her.

“Where are your friends that have abandoned you, Pink Ranger?” Goldar snickered as Scorpina strolled to his side.

“You seriously underestimate your chances of defeating us on your own,” Scorpina added, smirking as she caressed Goldar’s chest with her armored arm.

“You two haven’t been so tough,” Kimberly bluffed.

Sneering, Scorpina unleashed a fire stream from her armored hand as Goldar sent a slew of fiery eye blasts at Kimberly.  The attacks slammed into Kimberly’s upper right chest and shoulder, knocking her to the ground.  She gasped, her skin sizzling underneath her suit.

My shield didn’t come up!  How do I summon it?

She had been trying throughout the fight to conjure it but nothing had worked.  She did not know the trigger that had caused it last night.

“You were saying?” Scorpina asked.  To be honest, they had been taking it easy with Kimberly.  The two of them had been sent there to draw Sean and Zack into battle but Kimberly had refused to call them.

Unfortunately, she was running out of options.  If help did not arrive soon, she would have to call one of them.  She knew that she could not defeat Scorpina and Goldar on her own.

“I think it’s time we show this ranger we mean business,” Scorpina suggested.

Great, Kimberly sighed disapprovingly.

“I’ve waited too long for revenge,” Goldar said, his blade igniting with white fire, “Either your friends come now, or you die.”  And he hurled the flames at her.

Snarling underneath her helmet, Kimberly executed a perfect backwards shoulder roll on her left shoulder, and stood.

“Try again, goldilocks!” she challenged, determination blazing in her eyes, though her foes could not see it.  With or without her Special Power, she was not a pushover.

Goldar growled in approval.  “I’d rather kill you in battle anyway!” he growled, advancing at her.

Just then, Tommy materialized on Kimberly’s left-hand side.

Goldar halted, leering at Tommy.  Years of hatred and frustration at Tommy boiled into a glare of silent deadly rage.  Though he had once vowed to destroy Jason years ago, his continued defeats at Tommy had kindled deeper resentment at the White Ranger than he had ever thought possible.  When Jason had resurrected him, they had spent hours of training, learning to harness their anger into focused adrenaline.  It was only with that focus that Goldar did not seize Tommy’s head and tear it off.

“Tommy, thank goodness you’re here,” Kimberly gasped.  “Things were just about to get nasty over here.”

Tommy looked around.  “Hey, Kim,” he gasped, “We gotta make this quick.  Billy’s fighting Zedd by himself.  We need to get back there and help him.”

“Alone?!” Kimberly screamed.

Scorpina and Goldar cocked their eyebrows up in interest.  So Zedd never had a backup monster, Scorpina thought.  Impressive.

“Yeah, which means Rocky and Adam are still on their own with whatever’s attacking them.”

“Enough chatter!” shrieked Scorpina.  “You’re business is with us.”

“Like we could forget that,” Tommy said sarcastically.

“Scorpina, leave the White Ranger to me!” growled Goldar, glaring into the White Ranger’s visor.

“No problem,” Scorpina answered, aware of her husband’s feelings.  She leered at Kimberly.  “Let’s see you block this,” she added, sliding her other hand over her sword, white energy covering the blade.

Goldar approached Tommy, sword raised.  “We have a score to settle, don’t we?” he invited.

“We do,” Tommy accepted, unsheathing Saba again.

Feet away from him, Kimberly neither gulped nor gaped but stared into Scorpina’s eyes.  Fear no longer gripped her.  Perhaps it was Tommy’s appearance or the knowledge that all of her friends were in danger.  Either way, she could not be weak and timid anymore.  She was going to protect her friends no matter what.  It was the same now as it had been last night.  I can do this, she chanted, strength flowing through her once more.

“Get out of my way!” Scorpina yelled, throwing her boomerang sword at Kimberly.

Kimberly raised her free arm and swatted Scorpina’s sword away as a minute, translucent, pink energy shield sprouting from the back of her forearm, protecting it further.  “NO!” Kimberly yelled in defiance.

Instead of going back to Scorpina, the sword sailed into Goldar’s feet, ricocheted off them, and tripped him right before he was about to strike.  He caught himself at his knees.

“Scorpina, what happened?” he growled, knowing it was her sword that hit him.  Not losing sight of Tommy, he stomped back to his feet.

“It was her!” Scorpina exclaimed, catching her sword.

“Hey, Scorpina,” Kimberly called from the side.

Scorpina whirled around to see Kimberly aiming an arrow at Scorpina’s neck.  She was no more than ten feet away.

“I think you better leave before things get worse here!” she demanded.  She had found the trigger to her power:  her devotion to protect her friends.  Perseverance poured into Kimberly’s hope, grounding her resolve.  I may have failed last night, but I won’t today!   “If you think you can come back into our lives after all these years and wreck them, think again!” she screamed.

“Take your shot!” Scorpina retorted with a smirk, raising her sword to a high guard.

To Kimberly, Scorpina looked more like a scorpion poised to strike then she had seen before.  She slapped her fear away, gripping her perseverance.  Stay strong, Kim, she thought.  Stay strong.

Meanwhile, Tommy closed in on Goldar, his sword arm already cocked to knock Goldar out with Saba’s hilt.

However, the golden warrior parried and froissement Saba with his own sword.  “This battle’s not over,” he declared.

“So it seems,” Tommy agreed as Saba flew into his hand again.

They clashed swords, Goldar attacking with a fusion of saber style fencing and broadsword attacks while Tommy used a single sword kendo style, neither of them relinquishing their ground.  Goldar attacked with rage behind each of his attacks but guided each one with diligence and patience, resulting in devastatingly powerful blows.  At more than once, Tommy resorted to using both hands to steady Saba.

Whoa! Tommy thought, surprised.  He had forgotten how strong Goldar’s attacks were.  Had he been human, Goldar would have made a terrific Viking.  This isn’t going to be easy.

Seeing an opening, Goldar kicked Tommy to his knees, stepped forward, and swung his sword in a two-handed, overhead cut.  Tommy dropped to one knee, digging into the ground with his foot and shin, and intercepted Goldar’s attack with Saba, reinforcing the enchanted saber with both hands.  Grunting, he pushed back, stepping forward and up with his back leg, pushing his face into Goldar’s.  Their crossed blades gnashed inches beside their heads. 

Goldar growled, pressing his sword into Saba.  Tommy did not yield.

On the other side of the yard, Kimberly shot at Scorpina.  With strictest accuracy, Scorpina smacked it away a foot from her body, stepped forward, and slashed at Kimberly’s middle.  Kimberly brought in her bow closer to her chest, braced the bottom with her free hand, and parried Scorpina’s sword with the bottom of her bow.

“You’re not getting in there,” Kimberly said.

“So what?” Scorpina asked, cutting again and again.

Kimberly parried each attack with accuracy.  She then tilted her hands and drove the top end of her bow toward Scorpina’s middle.

The half armored warrior jumped out of the way, swatting it with the edge of her sword.

“Perhaps you’re not as rusted as I thought,” Scorpina thought.

Kimberly spun around, and drove the bottom of her bow at Scorpina, and then, flicking her bottom wrist, slashed with the top end at Scorpina’s side.

Scorpina dodged it, growling.

I’m sick of this dance! she thought.  Screaming, she slashed with the talon on the back of her armored hand at Kimberly, following through with a punch from her other hand, and then shoving her knee into Kimberly’s stomach.  Spinning around, she slammed her sword-wielding fist into Kimberly’s temple with all of her might.

Kimberly tumbled onto the ground with a grunt.

 


 

Up on the moon, Rita peered through her telescope at each battle.  The Skunk was doing well against Rocky and Adam, but Goldar and Scorpina were not making much headway with Tommy and Kimberly.  Plus, to her immense dissatisfaction, Billy was holding his own against Zedd; though she wasn’t surprised since Billy had received eight years of training from Sean, something that many fighters in the universe would kill for.

Rita withdrew from her telescope.  As it stood, each battle was at a stalemate.  She had to do something to draw out Sean and Zack so that Trini would be alone.

Just then, an idea leapt into her mind, but she hesitated.  She could make any of Jason’s forces grow with her wand which would force the rangers into a Zord battle.  Without Trini, the rangers could not form the Ninja MegaFalconzord or the Shogan Megazord!  If she just made Goldar, Scorpina, and The Skunk grow, then perhaps Zedd could provide enough leverage for Trini to leave.

However, she had had enough time to reflect that whenever she altered plans prematurely to gain an upper hand, they usually failed.  While not fighting Megazords, her warriors would be outnumbered six or seven zords to three.  And if four of them were shoganzords, Rita’s monster would be toast.

Suddenly, an epiphany sparked in her mind.

“Finster!” she shouted.  “I need a batch of Tengas, pronto!”  She’ll hold off on a zord battle until later.  Jason has wanted that to happen at a particular time.

 


 

Back on Earth, Zedd double parried the twin side cuts from Billy’s lance with his staff, and then slammed the bar of his staff down onto Billy’s right shoulder.

Billy groaned, sinking into the ground, but then dug his heals and toes into the earth, and pushed up, using the momentum to fuel his next chain of attacks.  In a blue blur, he smacked Zedd’s staff upward with his lance, twisted his wrists, and slammed the end of his lance into Zedd’s exposed left underarm, stepped back, and swung the other end of his lance forward, slashing at Zedd’s now exposed chest  before Zedd brought his staff down for a vertical parry.  The so-called Emperor-over-all-he-sees fell backward onto his back.  Stepping forward, Billy kicked Zedd’s staff out of his hand and out of reach.

“Had enough, Zedd?” Billy asked, after whirling his lance around and shoving one of the trident-like edges into Zedd’s neck, without piercing the skin, and holding it there.

“Not in the slightest,” Zedd declared.

That’s a shame for you, Billy thought.

 


 

Back at Kimberly’s place, Kimberly rolled through her fall and spun up to her feet.  Biting back the pain in her head, she glared razors back into Scorpina’s evil eyes.  Holding her ground, she lifted her bow like a staff before her.

“You’re not getting her, Scorpina,” Kimberly said.  “Besides, even if you do get past me, you’ve got two other rangers between you and her.  Not good odds, I’d say.”

“We’ll see.” Scorpina uttered, agitation twitching her jaw.  Pests!  “Both of those so-called rangers are shadows of what they could be.  Less of a threat from my standpoint.”

Maintaining her composure, Kimberly yielded to the grimace forming underneath her skin.  Scorpina was right, but so was Kimberly.  It basically came down to whose bluff was more accurate.

Where are those guys? Kimberly thought, referring to Rocky and Adam.  We need more help.

Scorpina was just about to attack Kimberly when twelve dark purple energy streams surrounded by a flock of black feathers drifted to the ground, materializing into Tengas.

Even after all of these years, Kimberly had not forgotten how the Tengas teleported.  She skipped back while changing her ready stance, keeping herself between the house and her

“Well, well,” Scorpina said smirking, “What are you going to do now?”

Kimberly darted her eyes around, seeing her enemies.  Some of the tengas were heading toward Tommy and Goldar.  Tommy can handle tengas and Goldar, she consoled herself.  Unfortunately, a truth hit her gut with a loud pang:  she and Tommy were not going to get any help soon.  Rocky and Adam would have been here if they could have.  Squeezing her free hand into a fist, she sealed her resolve in molten steel.  “If you want Trini, you have to go through me!”

Scorpina smiled.  “Kill her!”  Six tengas charged at her.

On the other side of the yard, Tommy kicked Goldar backward into the four approaching tengas.  Great! he thought, ramming his fists together.  This is not what we need now!  Anger began boiling within him again.  Jason, what game are you playing at? he added, disgusted by the lack of honor Jason was displaying.  He glanced over at Kimberly.  “Huh?  What?” His anger churned his stomach. 

If it had been just tengas, worry would not have poisoned his veins.  However, with Scorpina there, it made the battle worse.  And to make matters worse, Tommy did not know if these tengas were ordinary or if they were the ones Master Vile had enhanced.  Having not gone back to sleep the previous night, Tommy had reflected upon most of his mighty morphin’ ranger battles.  “It doesn’t matter what you send after us,” Tommy announced.  “None of you are getting inside!”

Goldar growled with glee.  “That’s exactly what I was hoping you’d say!  Tengas, attack!”

 


 

“This isn’t doing anything, Rocky!” Adam cried aloud, still firing at the Skunk.  However, the Skunk kept swatting away most of their blaster fire, while absorbing the stray shots.  “We need to retreat.”

“To where?” Rocky asked, firing off a few shots.  “The others are having trouble too or they’d have contacted us again.”

“Try calling Kim again.  Hurry!”  With that, Adam ran, leapt into the air and side kicked the monster back.

“Got it.”  Trusting in Adam, Rocky scanned his new communicator, baffled by the circle of buttons.  “Which is—Oh, there it is.”  He pressed it.  “Kim, we need help!”

“Unfortunately, Tommy and I have our hands full here,” Kimberly responded.  “Get off me!  Tengas, Scorpina, and Goldar.  Whoa!”

“Kim, are you alright?” Rocky cried, alarm shooting through his arteries.

“I’m fine, but we’re close to being overrun.  We need help.”

“So do we.  What about Sean and Zack?”

“They’re inside—safe.  Sorry; can’t talk now!”

“We’ll try to get there if we can,” he stressed.  He waited a few seconds, hoping for a reply but he knew none would come.  Man, this sucks!  Undermanned and outgunned.

Just then, the Skunk hurled Adam toward Rocky.  Hearing his lover’s yell, Rocky caught Adam’s upper torso and slid downwards into the hill, cushioning their fall.

“Thanks.  What’d she say?” Adam asked.

“We’re on our own.  She’s got tengas, Scorpina, and Goldar.  Tommy’s with her.”

“Well, that’s a good thing,” Adam muttered, getting to his feet.  Despite being separated from the rest of the team, Tommy and Kimberly made a great team, having never lost their chemistry.

“So are you two going to stop love making and fight or should I just incinerate you now?” the Skunk taunted, hurling another energy projectile at the duo.

Catching sight of it at the last second, they front flipped over it, coasting on the explosion’s momentum.  They landed on their feet in fighting stances along either side of the monster.  Without losing a second, they round kicked its ribs, and sent him flying backward with two jump spin sidekicks.

“Oh, right!” Rocky cheered, glad for the change in dynamics.

“You stupid rangers!” growled the Skunk, stomping to his feet.  “I’m invincible to you!”

Shit, Rocky swore.

 


 

Meanwhile, Billy stared into Lord Zedd’s visor.  Though his face was masked, Billy could tell Zedd was not joking when he had said he was not through.  On the contrary, his tone worried Billy.  Zedd had proven to be devious in the past and it would be foolish of Billy to think that he had won.  Zedd was too relaxed.

“You know,” Zedd commented as if he was having tea with Billy instead seconds away from murdering him.  “I’ve actually enjoyed our little battle.  It’s a shame you think you’re going to win.”  He vanished with sweeping, imploding lightning strands from his hands and feet to his head.  His staff vanished also.

Not missing a beat, Billy swung his lance around into a high guard and shifted his front stance into a back stance already darting his head around to catch a glimpse of Zedd.  However within half a second of vanishing, Zedd materialized with expanding lightning four feet in front of Billy, aiming his staff at the blue ranger.  Without hesitating, he fired two short lightning bursts at Billy.  Almost without thinking, Billy stuck his lance vertically in the ground and crouched behind it.  The lance absorbed and dispersed the lightning throughout the ground, not harming Billy at all.

Not wasting a second, Billy telekinetically swept Zedd up into the air and hurled him backward.  Unleashing an earth quaking roar, Zedd threw his arms and legs out, stopping himself in midair.

Billy narrowed his eyes at this.  Though he had anticipated this, the awe tingling down his spine was unexpected.

I have to admit, he observed, Zedd is giving his all with this battle, and he’s fighting honorably.  However, I’m going to need at least the Power Cannon to neutralize him, he added, the reality of the situation crawling back to him.  He embraced it and washed doubt from his mind.  I have to continue.

“I’m more powerful than you realized, Ranger,” Zedd said, descending to the ground.  “There’s a reason my power is unmatched by many in the universe.”

“So I see,” Billy responded, keeping his voice cool.  “But words don’t win battles.”

Not waiting for a response, Billy stepped around his lance and aimed a kick at Zedd’s side.  Zedd pushed it away with his staff.  Billy got into Zedd’s face and began punching him, flowing into different hand to hand attacks.  Not phased, Zedd dropped his staff, seized Billy by the shoulders, and hurled him into a pair of nearby trees.  Before he landed, Zedd fired quick electrical bursts from his hands at him.

Billy groaned as they hit various pressure points.

Picking up his staff, Zedd charged it with five wavy rings of shimmering ruby energy and white lightning.  Billy grunted, pushing himself up.  Just then, Zedd fired four inch wide lightning bolts at Billy, tentacles of power slithering up and down the Blue Ranger’s body.  Sparks, steam, and smoke erupted across his suit.

His discipline snapping, Billy screamed.

Zedd kept pouring ruby energy into his staff, continuing the barrage.  After half a minute he stopped.

Billy’s ranger outfit shattered.  However, he did not even register it.  Fog enraptured Billy’s mind, stunning it beyond confusion.  He could do nothing.  Thought was impossible.  He could not even remember what he was doing.  Plus, almost all of his muscles were numb from the overflow of energy shot throughout his body.

“I grow weary of this affair,” Zedd said, marching over to Billy and kicking the ranger onto his back.

Billy barely felt it, hardly aware that Lord Zedd was standing over him.

“The best way to get you out of our way is to kill you now!” Lord Zedd added.  “Good-bye, Blue Ranger.”

Blue Ranger…?  What? Billy thought, his head weighing both a ton and an ounce at the same time.  The Wolf howled from a distance within Billy’s mind.  Billy barely heard it.  Wait… Me.  Zedd!  No!  Feeling returned into his neck and face.  Peripherally he felt the sharp edge of Lord Zedd’s staff aimed at his heart.  Danger and urgency surged adrenaline through his body, revitalizing him.  Mustering his will, he focused it on Zedd’s staff.

Zedd stabbed downward and missed, his hands sliding in an arch.  The blade pierced the ground at Billy’s side, centimeters from his temple.

“What!” Zedd shouted, glowing red.  “How dare you!?”

Sean… help…, Billy whispered, his eyes drifting shut as he sank under waves of unconsciousness.  Gotta… survive…

“You’ll regret that in the afterlife!” Zedd shouted, lifting his staff again, this time, aiming for Billy’s neck.

Gotta … focus, Billy chanted, holding onto the light of life.  With a trembling hand of telekinetic energy, he pushed upward against Zedd’s staff.

Snarling on the verge of roaring, Zedd shoved his weight down but Billy resisted still.

Need—Sean, Billy thought.  Ninjetti… guide me…

Surrendering to his sacred animal, he teleported away as a column of blue energy just as Zedd was about to strike, his mind barely conscious.

 


 

 

Zedd seethed in disappointment.  “That ranger’s always been strong-willed,” he said.  “Fate always seems to be on their side.  He won’t get far!”  Directing his thoughts back to the moon, he stated, My Lord, Billy has been neutralized for now.

Good work, Jason responded.  Now make the monsters grow.  Force Trini into battle.

Immediately, Zedd answered, bowing his head and vanishing.

Chapter Text

As Billy fought against Lord Zedd, Sean continued guiding Zack and Trini.  Instead of directly energizing their power coins like Zordon had done for Tommy years ago when his Green Ranger powers were temporary, Sean focused on opening them up to and feeling his ranger energy.  Even though their powers were not theirs yet, Sean felt that part of their trials was to become intimate with his ranger energy.  Having never been to Phaedos, they were strangers to this power, as it was to them, even though Zack had morphed yesterday.  Therefore, as it is with all relationships, familiarity was needed.

Nestled in their triangle, Zack, Trini, and Sean remained poised in seated meditation, ignoring the battle outside.  Even through his fatigue, Sean picked up faint impressions from each of the battles but kept his focus on Zack and Trini.  These were the most important now.  He trusted Billy, Rocky, and Adam, and Kimberly and Tommy, all of whom could handle what Jason threw at them.  Zack and Trini could not nor could Sean—at least not everything.

“Breathe into the belly… and out,” he instructed through flowing whispers.

Zack and Trini did so, still grasping Sean’s hands.

“Grasp each other’s free hand; let them lay in your laps,” Sean continued, “Bridging you to each other for this energy is yours as much as it is mine.”

Without opening their eyes, Trini and Zack grasped hands.

Zack strained his senses for something new, but instead felt only a void, as if a part of him was blind.  In his mind, he sighed.  And then an unknown sensation tingled from outside his grasp, only giving him echoes from its source.

Patience, Zack, Sean said.

Zack perked up, remembering to keep his eyes closed.

Time reveals many things at different intervals.

I can hear you, Trini said.

Zack nearly jumped out of his skin at her mental voice.

Does that startle you? Sean asked Trini, allowing Zack to hear him.

No.  I forgot how to speak with my thoughts.  It’s like learning how to walk again.

Our breath is the key to our energy, which becomes power as we work, Sean continued.  We are stabilized by the earth—its foundation, our refuge.  Even here, in this room, on this bed (though separated from the ground) we are able to tap into the universal power to touch our potential; for what drifts in the air will soon settle in the earth as what rests on and in the earth floats into the air.  All of nature is connected.  And now the door has been opened for both of you.  Though premature, it still lies within you, a ripped portion that yearns to be whole.  Cleanse the body with your breath.  Open your pores to the universe around you.  Explore it.

Tranquility wafted over Zack’s mind, quelling his agitation, while awe stimulated his awareness.  Having never experienced anything like this before, he opened himself to this experience—process.  While there was still a lot he did not know and understand, he accepted that he would get his answers when the right time presented itself.  His time as a ranger and as a representative at the World Peace Summit years ago had taught him that.  As he settled into this truth, another twinge of sensory information drifted along the edge of his senses.

“Amazing,” Zack whispered, hardly realizing he was speaking.

“What do you sense?” Sean asked.

Eyes still shut, Zack pondered, trying to articulate what he was experiencing.  It was like tasting something instead of smelling it—touching and hearing it instead of seeing, and at the same time hearing instead of touching.  Though uncertainty blurred his perception, he felt beings—people.  And there was warmth steaming from them beyond temperature.

“Am I… sensing Kim and Tommy outside?” he asked.

“Yes, you are,” Sean answered.  “You are connected to a telepath and an empath.  It’s not surprising that you would share our senses.”

Trini stirred on the word ‘our’ but returned her focus to the meditation.

“It feels… distant,” Zack elaborated, “Like I’m receiving an echo.”

“Have you ever experienced ESP before?” Sean asked.

“No.  You can hear my thoughts now, right?  ”

Yes, I can.

Zack paused, reflecting.  “Is this what it’s like for you guys?

“More or less—Hmm!” Sean grunted.  Without warning, he bent forward, tightening his grip on Trini and Zack.

At the same time, Trini gasped in sharp pain.

“What is it?” Zack asked.

“Billy—he’s hurt,” Sean reported.  Though he did not reveal it, he felt his life force tug upon acquiring the sensation.  “Trini, we must focus on our objective.  Do not falter.”

Behind her eyelids, she glared at Sean, old memories reconstructing on the words ‘our objective.’  I’m not a puppet, Sean!

I understand and respect that, Sean replied to her.  “Please excuse the violation, but I must pull our energy… now!”  Under his silent will, Sean directed a large burst of green, yellow, and silver electricity at Billy’s teleportation column as it phased through the roof onto the floor between the bed and the door.

Zack felt the energy pull out of his hands.

With the added energy, Billy materialized his body now was limp with fatigue and pain.  Zack and Trini glanced at him.  Billy’s pale white skin threatened the unfurling of the shroud of death.  The two of them gasped.

“He will survive,” Sean consoled, mentally surveying his friend.  “He is alive, but needs rest.  We must continue with this.  Our friends cannot hold back this storm alone.”

Zack gaped at Billy’s almost lifeless body, fear and shock tightening around his trachea. 

“Breathe, Zack” Sean urged calmly.  “Hope exists more with the living than with the dead.”

“It’s just—Billy did this for us,” Zack stammered.  “We’ve never sacrificed our lives for each other like this.”  Memories of the battle with the Cyclops monster and the Green Candle swirled around his mental eye.  Rita had tried to take Tommy’s powers back from him with magic wax she had fashioned into a candle.  Jason had been given an opportunity to steal it but Zack had called him back because the Cyclops monster was about to kill Tommy and destroy the Dragonzord.  That was the closest they had ever come to sacrificing their lives for each other.  In the end, Jason decided to return and save Tommy, but the Green Candle burned out as a result.  Therefore, Tommy gave the remainder of his powers to Jason, so that Rita could never reclaim them.

“Who was he fighting?” Zack asked.  “Do you know?”

Sean looked Zack in the eye, keeping his face straight while showing concern.  “Lord Zedd.  He could have escaped but he wanted to make sure that Zedd did not interfere here, so he stayed while sending Tommy to us.”

“You knew all along and never said anything!” Zack retorted, his anger from yesterday returning now.

“Harness your passion, Silver Ranger,” Sean responded with the intensity and tranquility of a river.  “I just learned this now.  Nothing will be gained for us if we go to battle now.  We must harmonize our bodies’ energy so that mine can flow into yours easier and less energy is wasted.”

Even through his burning frustration of wanting to have helped Billy, Zack saw the wisdom in Sean’s strategy.  Unable to quell it completely he simmered his frustration into mild annoyance.  “I’m sorry.”

“Thank you, Zack.  And you are not being outrageous, but caution must be remembered in this time.  Trust in your friends.  They will not fail you.  And remember Billy is alive.”

Nodding, Zack closed his eyes in silent meditation, shoving Billy’s dead-like face out of his short term memory.  He reached out for the serenity to blanket his mind once more.  Please, let us get through this day, he prayed, hoping some higher being was listening to him.

Meanwhile, Trini gawked at Billy’s motionless face, her eyes hooked on the frozen limp body.  Not even his nostrils were twitching—though his belly barely rose and fell.  From afar, he appeared dead.  However, it was not just seeing his appearance that had stabbed her with terror.  She had seen that look before—no…  She had seen death before!  A person—a friend of hers…

But who?

Though the door to her past was unlocked, she could not make sense of most of her memories.  Nevertheless, nostalgia (or was it remorse?) resonated within her.  Not only had she seen someone dead but she had also seen that person murdered.  It was a girl… teenager, she thought.  But it can’t be.  That was different.

“Trini?” Sean asked.  “What’s wrong?”

She continued staring.  “His body… it reminds me…”

Suspicion crawled up Sean’s spine but he massaged it with patience and sympathy.  He knew what Trini was referring to.

“Aisha…” she gasped.  “Oh, God!”

The blurred silhouette of a frozen memory drifted into Zack’s mind.  Before he knew what he was looking at, it vanished.  Snapping his eyes open, he darted his gaze on Trini.  “What did you just see?” he asked.

Shuddering, she pulled her hands away from Zack and Sean, scurrying to the edge of the bed.

“Trini, what was that?” Zack repeated.  “I know I saw something.”

Trini shook her head, still staring at Billy.

“You remember,” Sean said to her.

Trini looked at him, a single tear squeezing out of her eye as she struggled to keep her face from breaking once more into sobs.

“Remember what?” Zack asked, unable to sense Trini’s thoughts now.

“You remember seeing Aisha’s murder,” Sean supplied.

Zack twisted his head around, gaping at Sean with wide open eyes, his mouth hanging open.

Trini closed her eyes in silent acknowledgement.  God, she implored, let it not be true.

 

 


Inside the Chamber of Command, Squatt, Baboo, and Finster were hopping with joy at their steady victory.  Though the rangers had been holding their own, (Tommy destroying Inciserator for starters), they were slowly being beaten back, their endurance slowly ebbing.  Even Tommy could not defeat all of those tengas, The Skunk, and Goldar, and Scorpina.

“I think we might win this time!” Baboo sang.

Squatt smacked Baboo’s arm.  “Quiet, Baboo,” he said.  “We might lose if you say that.”

“But I just did.”

“Well, don’t say it again.  I don’t want to see Lord Zedd angry.  He might clip our ears.”

“Hush, you babbling dolts!” Rita yelled from the balcony. 

White lightning struck the opposite side of the balcony, solidifying into Lord Zedd.

“Nothing can stand in our way now unless the blue ranger wakes up,” Rita continued.

“Fat chance of that soon,” Zedd said, catching the end of her sentence.  “Come, Rita; it is time to make our warriors bigger.”

Grinning with glee, Rita stepped around her Repulsascope.  “No need to hit the tengas with it,” she said. 

Zedd sighed.  “Fun as that would be, I agree.”

Rita’s grin stretched wider at those words, though she avoided eye contact with Zedd. “Let’s start with the Skunk.”

“Why not.”

Lifting their staffs above their heads, they crossed them.  “By the power and force of lightning, make our monster grow!” they shouted in unison as blue lighting shot out from the intersection of their wands.  Laughter roared from their mouths at their success.  Their minions cheered in the background.

 

 


 

 

Elsewhere on Earth, Rocky jumped out of the way of another acid spray just in the nick of time.  “I don’t know how much longer we can do this.”

“If we don’t figure something out soon, we better retreat,” Adam yelled across the field.

“Would you please tell me why we’re fighting when we can’t win?” Rocky snapped.

Just then, several massive blue lightning bolts from an enormous thunderstorm cloud struck The Skunk.  However, instead of exploding, it grew in size, towering over Rocky and Adam.

“Try to avoid me now, rangers!” it bellowed.

“I’d say this is worse,” Rocky said.

“If he fires a bazoo—duck!” Adam cried out.

 


 

 

Back in Kimberly’s backyard, Tommy kicked a tenga out of his way as he charged again at Goldar.  “Don’t think these tengas will make a difference, Goldar!” Tommy said, his resolve resonating with his voice.  “You still won’t win.”  He clashed swords again with Goldar.

“Wrong,” Goldar responded, “This day was inevitable.  Trini will succumb to Jason.”

“You won’t get past me while I can breathe,” Tommy growled.  “I don’t care if you send a thousand tengas after us.”

“Both can be arranged.”  Growling, Goldar slammed his weight down on Saba, knocking Tommy’s arms out of the way.  Immediately, Goldar clamped his free hand around Tommy’s neck, constricting it.  With a mighty heave, Goldar lifted Tommy off the ground.  “Don’t be so sure of yourself, Tommy,” he snarled, digging into Tommy’s neck with his fingertips.  “From where I’m standing, you can’t do anything to stop us.”

Caught off guard by the abrupt attack, sharp pain, and lack of oxygen, Tommy flailed his arms.  He was too close to Goldar in order to slash at him, so he dropped Saba.  Seizing Goldar’s arm with both of his, he tried wrenching himself free.

“I don’t think so!” Goldar exclaimed, sending forth a surge of yellow lightning bolts from his clenched fist into Tommy’s neck.

Grunting, Tommy’s now numb hands fell to his side, his throat cartilage almost ripping under the strain.

“That’s more like it,” Goldar said.  “Now what were you saying about us not getting by you?”

Tommy kicked Goldar in the nuts.

Goldar laughed, unfazed by it.  Tightening his hold, he tossed Tommy aside.

“I’ll finish you later, Ranger,” he said, walking toward the guest bedroom.  “Tengas, take care of him.”

Tommy did not get up.

 


 

Meanwhile, blood drained out of Zack’s face, paling it to ashen.  Trini froze.  “Murdered?” Zack repeated, lowering his hands and opening his eyes.  He gaped at Sean.  “I thought she died in a firestorm.”

“She did, but not from those flames,” Sean said.

“That’s… insane!” Zack spat, uncertainty suffocating him.  He struggled for air and understanding, piecing the new information together with what he had known beforehand.

“I can’t do this,” Trini admitted, her eyes still locked on Billy.  “I tried to save her, but I couldn’t!”

“You were there!” Zack asked.  From what he remembered, Trini had been nowhere near the firestorm that had ravaged the forest on the outskirts of Angel Grove a little over six years ago.  Visiting from Africa, Aisha had been hiking through the forest, reminiscing of her life before Master Vile used the Orb of Doom to reverse time on Earth, to transform the Power Rangers back into kids.  In order to restore the earth to its natural time, Zordon had sent the Rangers through different special and temporal portals to find the five Zeo subcrystals.  Aisha’s journey had taken her to Africa where she decided to stay with her family, and sent Tanya, a girl she had met along the way, back in her place.  Although the time stream had been altered, all of the rangers remembered Aisha and their lives together, even though in the current time line, they had never met her.

“It was Jason’s first attack on Earth as an agent of Evil,” Sean elaborated, knowing that he could not keep this secret any longer.  Trini was already remembering that day.  “He killed Aisha as proof that he had turned permanently.  And I nearly killed him later that day.”

“Why didn’t you?” Trini demanded, glaring at him.  “I remember—you could have.  Why!”

“Our battle ended because Dark Specter intervened,” Sean confessed.  “But Jason’s campaign ended because he forged a truce of honor.  He blocked your memories of the year you two were on the run from Dark Specter, stating that neither he would attack Earth again nor would I mount a defense against him, until the hold was lifted.”

“That’s crazy!” Zack exclaimed.  “What about all of the aliens, monsters, and demons that have been attacking the Earth since then!”

“They were not members of Jason’s Empire,” Sean said.

Trini was not listening now.  Instead, she tilted her head like a wounded dog, and scanned her body.  Convulsions wiggled in her gut, spreading up her esophagus.  Disbelief and shock constricted her body, overpowering her senses.  She clutched to her former ignorance, demanding that the recently revealed truth decomposed into ash.

No, he didn’t, she told herself.  No.  It’s impossible.  “I refuse to believe it,” she said, struggling to keep herself awake and her voice steady.  “That can’t be what happened.”

Sean held her with his eyes, compassion watering them.  “Last night was not the first time he raped your mind.”

Though the truth screamed within her, she fought to deny it.  “I… won’t… believe this,” Trini said.

“I’m sorry,” Sean said, a tear falling from each eye.

“Bastard!” Trini yelled, slapping his face.  “How could you do that to me?” she added, crawling backward, tears fighting through her stubborn eyes.

Zack beheld Trini, possessed by speechlessness.  The only sentence that rang in his mind was that this woman, one of his best and oldest friends, had been raped continuously for the past six years.  Alarm blared in his heart.  Damn!  There was nothing else he could think of.

Just then, blue lightning swirled out of the corner of Sean’s right eye.  Without turning, he said, “Goldar and Scorpina have grown.  The others need your help, Trini.”  Just then, his communicator beeped.  Instead of answering he kept gazing at her.

Trini drifted her head side to side, not meeting Sean’s gaze.  “I can’t fight,” she confessed.  “Not now.”

“Very well,” Sean said, lifting his communicator to his mouth.  “Sean here.”

“Sean, we got big problems outside,” Tommy said a bit breathily.  “We could use some help out here.”

“Trini and Billy cannot fight now,” he replied simply, betraying no emotion.  “All of your Ninja and Shogunzords can be called upon.  I hid them after the Earth was restored to its normal time.”

For a brief moment Tommy paused, wanting to ask for more information, but the finality in Sean’s voice deterred him from doing so.  “Alright.  We’ll call the shoganzords.”

Sean shook his head.  “Tommy, use the ninjazords, and destroy the monster attacking Adam and Rocky at the park.  They are designed to function individually whereas the Shoganzords are stronger as a full team.”

“Good plan.  What about Zack?”

Zack looked at him, his face drooping in uncertainty.

“He should stay here in case Jason makes a move for Trini.  You have enough energy for a battle,” Sean added to Zack.  “Watch over her and Billy.”

“I will,” Zack swore.  With my life, he added.

Sean heard him, and smiled.  Sliding off the bed, he stood and instantly morphed into his ranger attire.  Not wasting a second more, he teleported outside as a green column.  “Let’s do this,” he said, staring into Tommy’s visor.

Tommy nodded.

“We need Ninjazord power now!” chorused the rangers.

“Green Phoenixzord, power up!” called Sean.

“Pink Crane Ninjazord, power up!” cried Kimberly.

“White Falconzord, power up!” Tommy called out.

No sooner had they called out their zords’ names, they heard the sounds of their calls.  Three distinct bird calls:  two screeches, and a melodious call from Sean’s zord.

“Let’s go,” Sean encouraged, jumping into a cloud and landing in his zord’s cockpit.  Kimberly and Tommy followed suit with theirs.  “Tommy, you and Kimberly go help Adam and Rocky.  I’m sure they could use a hand.”

“You sure?” Kimberly asked, once in hers.

“Positive.  Now go!” Sean emphasized.

“Okay,” Kimberly muttered, changing her trajectory to the Skunk on her targeting computer.  Tommy flew beside her.

“So where is this awesome Zord of yours, Green Ranger?” Goldar taunted, looking up into the heavens.

“Right here, Goldar,” Sean answered, plotting a course for Goldar’s head.

“Well then, let’s see it,” Goldar sneered.

Scorpina readied herself in her scorpion sting fighting stance.

 


 

At the park, the Apezord was slashing at the Skunk with its twin swords.  Because it was based on the Japanese mythical ape, it was more of a combination of a human man and a male gorilla.  Unfortunately, the sword slashes seemed to do nothing more than irritating the Skunk.

“I thought you two understood!” the Skunk roared, blasting the Apezord with four energy projectiles.  “I’m indestructible to you two!”  The Apezord crumpled to the ground in a shower of sparks.

Kimberly, now close enough to see the battle, gasped.  “Oh, that monster’s had it,” she said, gritting her teeth.  “There is no way Evil is going to win today.  Not.  After.  Last.  Night!”  With that, she opened fire from her twin laser cannons, slamming six blue energy blasts into the Skunk’s hide. 

Groaning slightly, it staggered back a step.  “Who did that?” it asked, looking up.  Spotting the Cranezord and Falconzord, it screamed.

 


 

Up on the moon, Rita pursed her lips.  “Oh, drat!  I didn’t make the monster invincible to the other zords!  Oh, they’re gonna ruin everything!” she whined.

“Whether they destroy that monster, is none of our concern,” Zedd remarked.  “But, the rangers aren’t at full strength apparently.”

Rita checked her repulsascope again.  “You’re right!” she shrieked with a jump, jubilation running through her.  “We actually did something right!  We’re winning!”  She screamed at the top of her lungs.

Zedd laughed beside her.  “This was definitely worth the wait,” he seethed.

 


 

“It’s time we taught you some manners,” Tommy said.  Accelerating to a gliding coast, he shifted the Falconzord into an upright perched position, its wingtips pointing at the Skunk.  “And fire!”  Screeching, the Falconzord unleashed a volley of energy blaster shots at the Skunk’s chest.  Kimberly joined in, firing a few more volleys from her zord.

The Skunk barely kept its footing under the barrage.

Just then an enormous stream of fire slammed into its chest as Tommy returned to flying mode, veering off the monster’s left, while Kimberly veered off its right.

“Nice shot, Adam,” Tommy said through his intercom.  “I think that one hurt him.”

“Keep up the cover fire because here come the mini-frogs,” Adam announced, grinning.  Of all his zord’s functions that was his favorite.  Opening its mouth, the Frogzord, extended its tongue to the ground like a ramp, and thirteen mini frogs hopped down it toward the monster.

Unfortunately, Kimberly kept flying around the monster and shooting at it, so it could not do anything to stop it.  Tommy shot another volley at it, causing it to fall to a knee.  A groan leaked from its snout.

The mini-frogs leapt onto the Skunk, stuck out their tongues onto him, injecting painful electric volts of purple electricity into the monster.  Its screams were chorused by several explosions over its skin.

“Hold on ’cause the Frog’s not done,” Adam supplied, signaling his army to retreat.

 


 

On the other side of town, Goldar and Scorpina stared in awe at the sky.  Overhead, Sean’s Phoenixzord soared out of a cumulus cloud.  Primarily emerald green except for touches of scarlet and yellow here and there, it roared at the golden duo.  Though only slightly bigger than the Falconzord, its body the fusion of an eagle and a swan, it dwarfed the duo in sheer majesty, demanding their fear.  Like a pelican dips to catch its fish, it swopped over Goldar and Scorpina’s heads, cuffing them with its enormous trailing tail.

“I’m not scared of some mythic bird!” Goldar snarled.  “Come back and fight!”

“I’ve been ready to fight for over six years,” Sean said.  “Jason should have killed me when he had that chance during our duel.”  He added, thinking of their battle yesterday.

“Shoot it!” Goldar yelled, igniting his sword and hurling white flames at the zord.  Scorpina energized her pincer hand with blue electricity, and shot out several yellow energy rings at the Phoenixzord.  Unfortunately, both attacks dissolved upon hitting an elliptical energy shield encompassing the Zord.

Pausing only for a second, Goldar shot his fiery eyebeams at it as Scorpina fired a concentrated energy beam from her sword.  The Phoenixzord’s shields absorbed the two blasts.

Not missing a beat, they stepped toward each other, crossed their swords, energized them, and unleashed a cannon blast stream of yellow energy ringed with a magenta energy.

The assault nudged the Phoenixzord a few feet off course, but Sean corrected it with a minor coarse change.  “Now, let’s see if you like this,” Sean asked, touching a button.  Roaring again, the Phoenixzord shot a fiery eyebeam from its right eye at Scorpina and then one from its left at Goldar.  Barely giving the duo time to groan, Sean shot each of them with a quick double burst from both eyes.

“Enough of this!” Scorpina snapped.  Leaping into the air, she raised her sword in preparation for an overhead strike.

Two seconds ahead of her, Sean dropped his shields, steered his zord hard to port, and raked Scorpina’s collar bone with his zord’s razor sharp wing tips, following suit with its tail, as he about-faced.

She tumbled onto the ground beside her husband.  “This can’t be happening!” she screamed, frustration sweltering into a rage within her.  Never knowing what Sean’s zord was capable of, they had never been able to prepare.

“Sean, do we still have Titanus?” Adam’s voice rang through Sean’s intercom.

“Yes,” Sean responded.  “Tommy, the honor is yours.”

“Thanks,” Tommy said, pride kindling within him again.  “I call on the power of Titanus!”

No sooner had he said it, the carrierzord appeared along the outskirts of Sean’s battle.  Shaped like a white and black brachiosaur, it fired three fireballs from its mouth at Goldar, knocking him backwards but not to the ground. 

“Get up, Scorpina,” he snarled.  “That thing is useless without a megazord.”

“Oh, really?” Sean asked.  “Titanus, convert to cannon mode.”

Upon Sean’s command, Titanus’ chest rolled down, its neck rolled down into a 45 degree angle while cannons slid into mounts on its front shoulders, aiming at Goldar and Scorpina. 

“Titanus, fire!”

Titanus shot four cannon blasts at Goldar and Scorpina, as Sean fired two dual eye blasts at them.  Crashing to the ground, they vanished in orange flames.

“Nice work!” Tommy cheered.  “Everyone, Titanus, target that Skunk.”

“Ready!” chorused the rangers.

“Rocky, you’re up.”

Leaping into the air, the Apezord combined its swords at the hilt, energized them with lightning, and slammed them down on the Skunk’s chest.  Flicking its wrists, it slammed the other edge into the monster’s hide also.  As the monster grunted in pain, Rocky fled out of the way.  “Ha!  Looks like it’s not so invulnerable now,” Rocky jeered.

“Everyone, open fire!” Tommy ordered.

Kimberly’s laser beams, Tommy’s concussive energy blasts, Sean’s eyebeams, and Titanus’ fireballs and cannon blasts slammed into the monster’s hide, lifting it into the air.

“How about this!” Adam snapped at the monster, pressing a button.  The Frogzord shot out an enormous stream of fire at the monster, slamming into its core.

“NO!!!!” the monster screamed, crashing and exploding into the ground.

 


 

“I don’t care if they weren’t at full strength!” Rita screamed into Zedd’s face, mere inches from him.  “They still blew up my monster!”

“They were able to repel all of our attacks,” Jason muttered, lurking in the background.

“My Lord,” Zedd cried, bowing his head.

“They passed the test of loyalty then,” Jason continued, “but Trini was not with them.  She has lost her spirit.”  He smiled.  As charming and handsome as it had been when he had sprouted it many times as an agent of good, malevolence now poisoned it but did not rot it.  “We have the edge.  Let the game continue.”

“Destroying them won’t be easy,” Zedd reminded Jason.

Jason looked at him.  “Destroying a power ranger team never is, even without their powers.”

 


 

Back on Earth, Rocky, Adam, Tommy, Sean, and Zack gathered outside Kimberly’s back door.  “Guys, please let me talk to Trini alone,” Kimberly begged.  “I know I can get a reading off of her.”

Each of her friends regarded her.  Having just heard from Zack what he’d learned from Sean, they were unsure how to approach Trini.  Normally they would have given her time, but they didn’t have time now.  Their enemy was alive, powerful, and ruthless while they were fragmented and disorganized.  She looked at each of her friends.  “Please, guys.  I can do this.  If what you said was true, Zack, then she’d prefer speaking to one of us instead of all five.”

“Alright,” Tommy admitted.  “Go ahead.”

“Sean, is Billy still unconscious?” Kimberly asked.

“He’s sleeping now,” Sean replied through closed eyes.  Though the battle had been adrenalizing, mild fatigue withered his muscles.  “I can drain the excess energy in his body now.  We can do it here to give you space.”

“Thank you,” Kimberly said.

“Rocky, Adam, Tommy,” Sean instructed.  “Concentrate on Billy and teleport him here.”

Not caring to see Billy’s body, alive or not, Kimberly turned her back on her friends, and marched into her house.  Worry and duty clashed within her.  It had not even been a full day and yet she felt as though she had just gone through a week of daily attacks.  But her resolve steadied her.  She needed to know.  So she kept marching, barely aware of what she passed as she went.  Before she knew it, she was in the doorway of her guest bedroom.

Trini stood by the window, gazing at her friends as Sean extracted the Billy’s excess energy and shared it with Zack.

Kimberly approached her.

“I felt everything,” Trini uttered, not looking at Kimberly.

Kimberly halted.

“The battles everyone fought… your emotions—everything.”  She looked at Kimberly.  “Even your bravery.”

Kimberly watched her, uncertain if she should speak.

Trini walked over to Kimberly.  With a mixture of seriousness and anxiety, she handed Kimberly her Ninjetti morpher.

Stunned, Kimberly gaped at the object in her hand and then at Trini.

“Trini, you can’t do this,” Kimberly said.

“Yes, I can,” Trini said.  “Yesterday, Jason tore my mind apart with his own mind.  Last night, I dreamed about my honeymoon when Jason and I were happy together.  And I woke up to him raping me.  My own husband—did that!” she added in a spat, disgust and confusion distorting her face as she spoke.  “He raped me for the last six years!”

“Trini…” Kimberly began, desperate for something to say, but nothing came to mind.  Her prepared list drifted into crumbled ashes.

“I don’t even remember if I am really married,” Trini replied, eyeing her wedding ring.  “For all I know, this is a fake!”  She added, waving her wedding ring, still attached to her left finger.  “Look at it, Kimberly!  Look at it!  It hasn’t shined since Jason disappeared a week ago!”

Kimberly stared at the dull stone.  If she was honest with herself, Kimberly could trace it’s dullness to the day Jason departed

“My heart is crushed and my soul’s been shattered.  Can’t you understand what I am going through?” Trini continued, positively shouting.  “And worse of all, I had no say in the matter.  Instead I was nothing more than a puppet.”

Kimberly gawked at Trini, and for the first time, she allowed a tear to fall from her eye.  She nodded, understanding melding her shock.  “I won’t stop you from leaving,” she said, “But I won’t take your morpher.”  Trini opened her mouth in protest, but Kimberly cut her off.  “I can’t bear your power,” she resumed, holding it out to her.  “I have my own to bear.”

“Then don’t,” Trini begged, refusing to touch it.  “Just keep it safe.”

Kimberly shook her head, closing Trini’s hands around her morpher.  “That’s not for me to have,” she said firmly, folding her arms.

Trini bent her arm downwards while a bemused expression stretched over her face.  Just as she started turning around, Kimberly did something Trini never expected.  She smiled.

“But I don’t think you’re the one to have it now,” Kimberly continued in a softer tone, her smile illuminating her entire face.  And in this one moment of wisdom, she was reminded of the time when Zordon had said that she had demonstrated wisdom beyond her years twice.  It comforted her thinking of the moment when she had given her power coin to Katherine.  “When the time is right, you’ll know who to give it to.  Take care.”

Trini searched Kimberly’s face incredulously for a long time.  Finally, after discerning that Kimberly was telling the truth, she nodded.  “Thank you,” she said.  She crossed to the dresser, grabbing some clothes from within it.  When she had everything she needed, she walked to the doorway.

“Where will you go?” Kimberly called after her, sniffling.

Trini paused, placing her hand on the doorframe.  “I’m not sure,” she said.  “Somewhere unconnected to this mess.”

Kimberly blinked back the tears threatening to leak down her cheek as she understood the meaning behind Trini’s words.  For Kimberly, it was almost as if Trini was truly forsaking her lifelong and deep friendship with them.  It was a testament of how she honored their friendship that Kimberly did not collapse onto the floor or say the practical wisdom shouting in her mind.

Trini met Kimberly’s gaze.  “Thank you for what you’ve done for me.”  Before Kimberly could utter a response, Trini walked out of the room.

Trini… is this for good? Kimberly asked.  Even being honest with herself, she was unsure of an answer.