Disclaimer : This story is actually fourth in my Power Rangers time line. It comes after Brains Over Brawns and before Unda da Sea.
It is nine o'clock on the Gemini Space Station, and five year old Andrew sits on his bed flying his plastic space ship in dizzying loopty-loops.
"Andrew?" his mother says, peeking in the door. "It's way past your bedtime. You should be asleep."
"But Daddy didn't tell me my bedtime story yet," Andrew whines.
"Daddy went to meet our guests. Their shuttle from Earth was delayed, so he may be back late," she replies. "I'll read you a bedtime story tonight."
"No, you have to TELL me a story," Andrew says. "Daddy always tells me stories."
"I'm not as good of a story-teller as he is," his mother replies, with a weary sigh.
"PLEEEASEEE," Andrew says in his sweetest voice, looking up at his mother with his big brown eyes.
"Okay, a short one," she gives in. She sits down on the edge of Andrew's bed and looks out the small window into the Milky Way for inspiration. "Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess...."
"Princess?!?!" Andrew interrupts. "That's a GIRLY story. I want a BOY'S story. Tell me a Power Ranger story. Daddy always tells me Power Ranger stories."
"A Power Ranger story, hmm," she replies, pushing a graying lock of hair out of her face. She thinks for a few moments more. "Did Daddy tell you 'Power Rangers vs Quick Sand?'"
"Yes," Andrew answers and then asks, "Tell me 'Power Rangers vs Lampry' again."
"No way," his mother replies with a playful squeeze. "You had nightmares for a week last time."
"How about 'Knight in Green Shining Armor?'"
"Yeah!" Andrew answers in glee and snuggles down in his bed for the nightly ritual.
There once was a powerful, evil magician named Lord Obsious who lived in what once was a beautiful castle in the land of Jaffa. Jaffa was a mystical place, full of legend and lore. Before Lord Obsious came, a strong monarchy, many generations worth, had ruled Jaffa with a strong but fair hand. Then Lord Obsious came and attacked the peaceful people, destroying the monarchy. To save his family, the King of Jaffa surrendered his life for those of his family. With the monarchy defeated, Lord Obsious appointed the mysterious warrior Malachite to rule Jaffa in his place. Malachite was a cruel and vindictive ruler, and the people hated him. Soon the once abundant fields of Jaffa began to wither because there weren't enough people to tend to them. The people were angry and many spoke of organizing a revolt against Malachite. No one could decide who would take the throne though. There was terrible infighting amongst the different clans of Jaffa. No campaigns were ever launched against Malachite, because the clans were constantly fighting each other.
The people were in dispair, but one thing kept their hopes alive. They knew of a prophecy. The day before the King surrendered to Malachite, he consulted a soothesayer. The middle-aged woman was known all over Jaffa for her unusual gift. She told the King that one day a lost princess would return to reclaim the throne of Jaffa.
The people of Jaffa knew this prophecy and it gave them hope that one day Malachite would be overthrown. Unfortunately, Malachite knew of this prophecy too. He was searching the galaxy for the lost great-granddaughter of the King of Jaffa.
"He wanted to kill the princess?" Andrew suddenly interrupts.
"No, he wanted to bring the princess back to the castle."
"Why?!?! Why would he want to do something stupid like that?"
"Because, he knew that if he controlled the princess that together they would be unstoppable."
Legends said that somewhere deep in the mountains surrounding Jaffa, the power of the monarchy was buried. To save the lives of his family, the King surrendered to Malachite. He secretly sent his family away to another planet, some say another galaxy, and then gave his life to Malachite. But the King wasn't stupid. Before he surrendered, he incased all of his powers, many generations worth, into a magic obsidian amultet. He buried the amulet knowing that one day, a female member of his family would return to reclaim the power and the throne. Whomever found the amulet would possess a powerful white magic almost as strong as Malachite's black magic.
Angry and feeling neglected, many of the peasants had begun searching for the amulet. Malachite wanted the amulet too, but for a different reason. You see, Malachite wanted to destroy the amulet. For if he did, then even if the princess did return, she wouldn't have enough power to defeat him.
"Wait a minute," Andrew interrupts again. "This sure is sounding like a girly story. When do the Power Rangers come in?"
"I'm getting to that part," his mother replies. "Meanwhile, in Angel Grove...."
"Time out," Adam says, sitting down on a boulder. He wipes the sweat out of his eyes.
"Okay, only if you want to." Alex sits down, glad for the reprieve.
"Don't want you stroking out on me," Adam says, handing her a canteen of water. "Your face is fuscia."
"You're looking a little pink yourself," Alex says. "I'm sure we are quite a sight."
"It's so nice to have a day off." Adam leans back against the boulder, closing his eyes.
"Don't say that. You're going to jinx us."
The pair continue to relax, looking out over the desert.
"If we are going to make it home in time for dinner, I guess we'd better start heading back," Adam suggests.
"Aw, do we have to? It's been so nice today, just the two of us. No school, no homework, no Cogs...."
Adam gives her one of the smiles that always makes her heart melt. He gives Alex a hand up and the two proceed down the mountain.
A trio of warriors clad in black metal armor suddenly appear in front of Adam and Alex. A portal begins to open behind Alex. Within an instant, a solo warrior charges, crashes into Alex and knocks the pair through the portal. Before Adam even has a chance to morph, the warriors all disappear. Alex is gone with out a trace.
Adam stands frozen for several minutes in shock. Then he bellows in frustration.
Alex and the warrior crash heavily into the grass. Though dizzy, Alex nimbly rolls to her feet as Adam had taught her. She pulls her hands up in a fighting stance.
"Lady Alexandra, do not fight us," the warrior says.
Being called by name stuns Alex and she lets her defenses down. The other two warriors appear behind her. One places a steel-like crown upon her head. Alex whips around to fight the other two. The crown's blunt spikes press into her forehead. Alex tries to yank it off, but it won't move. The three warriors move even closer to her.
"Take this!" Alex yells defiantly.
A searing pain in her head causes Alex to stop. The crown contains her psychic blast, the trapped energy over-loading her own mental circuits.
"Now!" the leader says.
Alex falls to one knee, arms wrapped protectively around her head. All the rerouting exercises that Zordon had taught her aren't working. Alex groans as the psychic energy continues to ricochet inside her skull. Alex doesn't put up a fight as the warriors drag her to their hover ship a few hundred yards away.
"Your highness," a warrior says into his console, "We expect to return to the castle within the hour."
"Well, stop doddling!" a sharp voice answers.
Alex curls up into the fetal position on the floor of the hover craft. Thankfully, she is left alone. It gives Alex a chance to talk herself down. After several minutes of internal adjustments, all that is left is a dull ache in her head.
"She must have 'the vapors,'" one warrior comments, noticing that Alex hasn't stirred in the last ten minutes.
"Is she dead?" the younger warrior asks nervously.
"I'm not touching a potentially dead person."
"Go check. That's an order!"
The young man reluctantly walks over to the almost comatose form of Alex. He reaches his hand towards her neck to check her vital signs.
The warrior lets out a yelp as the supposedly dead person suddenly grabs his arm. Alex jerks the warrior to the floor as she jumps to her feet.
"It's Morphin Time!" Alex begins the incantation, as she holds out her morpher. "Power Ranger 6, Purple!"
The fallen young man knocks Alex's feet out from underneath her before the transformation is complete. As she hits the floor, the morpher slips out of her hands. Everyone scrambles to retrieve it. Alex and the young warrior grab it at the same time, fumbling between themselves. The morpher slips through their fingers and falls over the side. Alex gasps as she sees the morpher descend into the lush forest below. It is lost for good and Alex is back to square one.
The rest of the Rangers teleport into the Power Chamber to see Adam pacing nervously.
"Dammit," Adam raves. "This is all my fault. I just stood there and let them take Alex. I didn't do a damn thing to stop them."
"You were ambushed, Adam. Nobody would have done anything different," Billy tries to console his friend.
"What's up?" Rocky asks.
"Rangers," Zordon says. "We have received a disturbing message."
"From who?" Tanya asks.
"It has been coded," Alpha answers. "We have been unable to trace its point of origin."
"Alpha, replay the message," Zordon instructs.
Everyone stares into the viewing globe. A form begins to materialize. It is of a young man, probably in his twenties. He has ghostly white skin and shoulder length jet black hair. His piercing eyes are a steel gray color. Kat notices that he is actually quite attractive.
"Zordon of Eltar," the man begins. "I am Malachite. Regent of Jaffa. I believe that I have something that belongs to you."
The image of Malachite dissolves into one of Alex curled up on the floor of the hover craft. Adam gasps.
The image returns to Malachite. "It seems that today is my lucky day. Not only have I found the lost Princess of Jaffa, but I've found the people to mine for the obsidian crystal. Zordon, my informants have told me that your planet is protected by special beingsso called 'Power Rangers.' [A scene of the Rangers fighting one of King Mondo's monsters appears.] I am in need of such beings to mine for a special stone. I need beings that are virtuous, of high honor, trustworthy...and if that doesn't work, I could just kill her. [The scene returns to Alex collapsed on the floor of the hover craft] Zordon of Eltar, send me your five Power Rangers!"
The room remains silent for several minutes.
"Zordon, how can we send the Rangers if we don't know where to send them to?" Trini asks softly.
"Malachite provided us with coordinates at the end of his message, Trini," Zordon answers.
"That's right in the middle of the desert!" Billy says, yanking the paper print out right out of Alpha's digits.
"What are we going to do?" Kat asks.
"I don't know," Tommy answers gravely. "But for now, we'll have to play by Malachite's rules."
"That's not good enough!" Adam explodes. "I'm not going to stand around while Malachite holds Alex prisoner. I say we go, kick some tail, grab Alex, and come home."
"I know you do." Trini places a hand on Adam's shoulder trying to bring him down a couple of notches. "But if we go storming in there, we may put Alex at greater risk. We aren't dealing with Mondo. We don't know what Malachite is capable of."
Adam doesn't answer. He kicks a control panel to vent his frustration. The pain in his toe helps distract him from the pain in his heart.
"Billy, do you think you can lock onto the coordinates after Malachite opens the portal?" Tanya asks optimistically. "Then reopen it when we find Alex, so we can come back?"
"Maybe," Billy answers honestly. "Only if it leaves enough of an ion trail. Trini and I will come to the proposed site too. After you leave, we will collect a reading, bring it back to the Power Chamber, and begin the analysis."
"Trini, could you run the analysis by yourself?" Adam asks, with a glimmer of hope in his eye.
"Of course," Trini answers, slightly indignant.
"We're going to do the old Bait-and-Switch," Adam says with a mischevious grin. "If Malachite wants five Rangers, five Rangers he shall get."
Adam looks over at Billy. Billy gulps.
"You aren't thinking what I think you're thinking, are you?" Billy asks.
Adam is already removing his zeonizer.
At exactly 1700 hours, the five morphed Rangers stand at the exact coordinates. Trini and Adam hide behind a large tree.
"Adam, are you sure this is such a good idea?" Trini whispers.
"No," Adam answers honestly, retying the black Ninja-like gi around himself. "But what other choice do we have?"
A twinkling begins in front of the Rangers. It intensifies and becomes larger. Slowly, as instructed by Trini, each Ranger walks through the portal. Soon the Rangers are gone.
After a minute longer, the portal begins to shrink.
"Now," Trini whispers to Adam. "Good luck."
Adam makes a mad dash for the rapidly closing portal. He hurls himself through, praying that whatever is on the other side is soft.
Adam hits the ground with a thud, but deftly rolls up to his feet. Where ever he is, it is dark. So dark, he can barely see his hand in front of his face. He surveys the surroundings as best he can. Though he has no idea where he is going, Adam begins walking.
"OW!" Adam says after tripping over a root and colliding with a tree.
"Forget it," he thinks. "I'm not going to be able to find Alex tonight. I'll have to wait until first light."
Adam feels his way down the base of the offending tree and has a seat. He waits silently.
A rustling of leaves, interrupts Adam's dozing.
"It's only the wind," he says aloud, trying to convince himself.
The rustling begins again.
"In this strange world, I wonder where I fit into the food chain?"
Adam quickly stands up and begins blindly climbing the tree. After several minutes of climbing, he finds a larger branch.
"Hope any Jaffa predators are short."
As the first rays of dawn arrive, Adam feels a slight nuzzling at his shoulder.
"Alex?..." he says sleepily, lost somewhere between dreamland and reality.
He turns his head and slowly opens his eyes.
The forest echoes with two startled cries. Adam scrambles closer to the base of the tree and a cat-sized, green creature scurries to the end of the limb.
"What in the hell...," Adam exclaims.
The creature looks at Adam, probably thinking the same thing. It begins to scratch itself and soon forgets all about Adam.
Adam inspects the odd creature a little closer. It looks sort of like an iguana with wings.
"Sabra! Sabra!" a childish voice echoes through the forest.
Adam scrambles to pull some foilage in front of himself.
"Sabra! Sabra! Sabra, you naughty little dragon, where did you fly off to now?" the child scolds.
"Dragon?!?" Adam thinks, making eye contact with the beast.
The dragon begins to make a noisea kind of loud hooting-purring-clicking noise. Adam begins to panic. The dragon was going to lead its owner right to their hiding spot.
"Shoo, shoo," Adam begins flapping at the dragon.
The dragon tilts its head from side-to-side, but remains firmly planted. It makes the noise again.
"Sabra! I can hear you. Come down here," the child commands.
"Go to your keeper, Sabra," Adam whispers softly.
The dragon doesn't budge. Adam decides to give the obstinant little creature a shove. He slides down the limb, stretching his arm out to push when...
The dragon decides to leave. It spreads its membraneous wings and gently glides down the canopy.
Adam is awestruck and leans over to watch Sabra's flight. Then he loses his balance. He over corrects to keep from falling over forwards and instead falls over backwards. Adam scrambles to find something to stop his rapid decent.
He hits the ground with a thud. Adam looks up to see what appears to be a 5-year-old girl peeking at him from behind a large tree. Sabra sits perched on her shoulder.
"Damn dragon," Adam mutters under his breath. He sits up slowly and says, "Hi there."
The little girl giggles and disappears behind the tree. Adam groans and stands up. He brushes the remainders of the tree off of himself. The girl peeks out from around the tree again. Adam could swear that he saw the dragon stick its tongue out at him.
"I'm Adam. What's your name?"
The child disappears again with a giggle.
"I like your dragon. He sure is beautiful."
"SHE," a voice says. Its owner comes into view again. "She, Sabra is a girl dragon."
"I'm sorry. SHE is beautiful."
"I like her. She's my best friend,...Adam," the girl adds, trying out the unfamiliar name. "My name is Galena."
"Very nice to meet you, Galena," Adam says, coming down on one knee so that they are on the same eye level. "Galena, have you seen a strange girl around here recently? She's about this tall, has beautiful, long, black hair, and porcelin white skin."
Galena picks her memory. Adam is hopeful.
"She had on hiking boots and a purple shirt," Adam adds.
Galena continues to think.
"She likes purple?" Galena asks.
"Yes! It's her favorite color. You've seen her then?"
"No, but purple is my favorite color too."
Adam slaps his hand to his forehead. This kid was too cruel.
"Nona would know," Galena offers. "She knows everything."
Galena strokes Sabra as the dragon snuggles up to the girl's cheek.
"Can you take me to Nona?" Adam asks.
The pair head off into the forest. They walk for what seems like hours. Galena gives Adam the grand tour. Galena proudly shows him where her father likes to hunt, her favorite climbing tree, where Sabra hatched, and the haunted cave. Then she plops down in front of a too familiar looking tree.
"I'm tired," Galena whines.
"Me too," Adam says, taking a seat next to her.
Adam's stomach growls and Galena bursts into a fit of giggles.
"Let's go to Nona's house for some lunch," Galena suggests.
"I thought that was where we were just going?"
"Oh, that's right. I forgot."
Adam makes a frustrated noise.
"Here, you carry Sabra," Galena says, scooping up the dragon and handing it to Adam.
Adam fumbles around with the dragon.
"Ow, ow, ow, OW! Watch the claws!" Adam says as Sabra crawls up his chest to sit on his shoulder.
Only five minutes later, the trio come across a small stone cottage. Adam reluctantly follows Galena in the door.
"NONA! NONA!" Galena yells.
A woman comes out from the back room. Adam begins to think that he has stepped into the early 19th century. The woman appears to be in her mid- to late twenties. She wears a long, plain, cotton-type gray dress with simple white gloves. Her firey red hair is done in ringlets.
"Galena!" the woman exclaims when she sees Adam, yanking Galena behind her voluminous skirts.
"What do you want?" The woman glares at Adam, never taking her hand off of Galena.
"Mama, he's looking for his friend."
"I'm sorry," Adam says, placing his hands up in front of himself. He realizes that he probably does look threatening. "Galena's right, though. I am trying to find someone."
"Nona probably knows," Galena says, breaking her mother's grip and running towards the back.
Soon Galena returns with a woman who could easily be pushing one hundred. The old woman hobbles into the room, leaning heavily on her walking stick. She hobbles up to Adam. She stops and squints at him up and down.
"Hmm," she says, scratching her chin.
Nona and Sabra stare at each other intently for several moments. Sabra hops from Adam's shoulder to Nona's walking stick. Sabra makes the eerie sound again.
"I see," Nona says.
"Excuse me?" Adam says.
"Alexandra is here in Jaffa."
"Where?!?!" Adam's heart leaps. "Wait a minute, how did you know her name?"
"Sabra told me," Nona replies as if everyone conversed with dragons on a daily basis. "Sabra has a bad habit of following Petra to the castle. You're a nosy little beast, aren't you?"
Nona feeds Sabra a small morsel from her pocket.
"Sabra said that a strange woman, dressed like a boy, arrived in the castle yesterday," Nona continues.
"Is she okay?" Adam asks.
Nona looks at Sabra again.
"Sabra doesn't know. After the stranger arrived at Malachite's castle, she saw a large fish in his pond. She was hungry, sorry."
"Can you tell me how to get to this castle?"
"Yes, but first, you must eat. Sabra says your stomach is very noisy."
"I don't want to be a bother...," Adam says politely though he is ravenous.
"Adam, come play 'Disks and Spikes' with me while Mama makes lunch." Galena grabs his hand and draws him to the fire place.
Adam still hasn't figured out the silly game by the time lunch is served. He is glad for the reprieve.
As they eat their simple meal of fish and stewed vegetables, Adam begins to tell them his story. For some reason, he trusts these people.
"I'm sorry, Power whats?" Petra says.
"Power Rangers," Adam says. "Our home, Earth, is constantly under attack by the Machine Empire. We were chosen as the Earth's protectors."
"How very odd."
"Alexandra is a Power Ranger too," Adam says and then adds shyly, "She is very special to me. That's why I have to find her. While we are gone, the Earth is left unprotected against the Machine Empire. I...."
"Sabra!" Petra interrupts.
The dragon looks up with a mouthful of fish, which she has just stolen off Adam's plate. Galena giggles.
"C'mon, Sabra. Let's go play 'Disks and Spikes,'" Galena says, scooping Sabra off the table and carrying her to the fire place.
"Machines that have a life of their own," Petra puzzles aloud. "Sounds like a fairytail almost."
Galena's yelling causes the others to glance over at the fire place.
"Give me that, Sabra!" Galena yells.
Sabra chirps again.
"Mama, Sabra's chewing on my favorite disk!"
Galena lunges for the dragon. Sabra becomes airborne to escape. She flies to Nona.
Adam notices that the disk looks familiar. Out of its casing....
"That's Alex's Power Coin!" Adam says in surprise.
He is estatic, then becomes grave. Finding the coin meant that Alex couldn't morph to protect herself.
"Give me that," Adam says, grabbing onto the coin.
Sabra thinks they are playing and growls like a dog. She doesn't let loose.
"Sabra," Nona says firmly.
Sabra obediently releases the coin and flies off to her bed in a snit. Adam examines the coin. Except for a few dragon-teeth marks, the coin looks okay. Adam wipes the dragon spit off the coin and places it in the breast pocket of his gi.
"After lunch we will go to Malachite's castle," Nona says.
"Goodie! An adventure!" Galena squeals from the fire place.
"You, young lady, will go to your Auntie's house until your father comes home," Petra says sternly.
"Aw, Mama," Galena pouts.
"Petra has been summoned to Malachite's castle to sing for his wedding banquet tomorrow evening," Nona explains.
"I have to be there early to find out what his highness wishes me to sing," Petra says.
"We will accompany Petra and see if we can locate your friend," Nona says.
"I have to find the other Rangers too," Adam says, the task becoming daunting already. "Even if I find Alex, we can't leave without the other Rangers. Plus, we don't even know how to get home. I hope that Trini will be able to reopen the portal soon."
"We will succeed. First you must change, you will not be able to blend in at the castle with those clothes on."
"You may borrow some of my husband's clothes, Adam," Petra offers.
"And definitely one of Lars' larger hats. You are a handsome young man, but your exotic looks will make it hard for you to blend into Jaffian society." Nona groans as she gets to her feet and adds, "We've never seen one of tan skin and almond-shaped eyes. Ladies especialy will notice."
Adam flushes at the compliment as Petra leaves to retrieve the clothes.
Adam follows Galena to the stable to retrieve Nona's donkey.
"You don't look anything like Daddy, even wearing his clothes." Galena giggles.
Adam pulls the large, soft leather hat down farther and ducks his head some. "What about now?"
"Nope, you still don't look like Daddy."
"I look more like Robin Hood," Adam decides, tightening the wide leather belt around his green leather tunic. Underneath the tunic, Adam still wears the top of his gi with Alex's Power Coin protectively pressing against his chest.
"Your feet look like Daddy's," Galena says.
Adam looks down at the clunky, brown leather boots which luckily were almost the correct size if he wore the ninja shoes as socks inside. Adam retucks his soft, light brown suede pants legs into his boots.
Galena drags the old nag out of the barn to the front of the cobblestone house. Nona and Petra wait patiently for them. Adam gives Nona a boost up onto the ancient donkey. Sabra settles down in front of the hunchbacked woman. Petra gives her daughter a quick kiss goodbye and sends her away to her sister's house.
"I hope you find your friend," Galena says as she walks away.
"Me too," Adam answers with a short wave.
"Let us be underway. We have a good hour's walk before us," Nona says, and gives Click a swift kick to get him moving.
The trio plod slowly through the misty forest. Above the pea soup-like fog, Adam can see the turrets of the castle in the distance.
"Petra, why don't you sing us a song to make the time past faster," Nona suggests.
"For the pleasure of an old woman, please dear," Nona insists. Sabra chirps emphatically.
"Oh, all right," Petra gives in. "And what would be your fancy today, Nona?"
"My favorite, of course, 'Ballad of a Lost Princess.'"
"Nona never tires of that one," Petra explains to Adam.
Using Click's steps as a metronome, Petra begins the song in a sweet soprano voice. Adam picks his brain trying to figure out the musical style.
"A cross between Celtic music and opera," Adam thinks, as Petra's voice crescendos to a high pitch.
The ballad weaves a tale of mystery and suspense but also of hope that one day the prophecy will be fulfilled. A dramatic, moving tale, Adam becomes lost in its imagery. The real world disappears into the heavy mist, and Adam becomes a spectator in the story. He sees Alex as the heroine; Petra describing her perfectly.
Sabra's low, melodic crooning accompanies Petra's voice and Click's gentle percussion. Petra goes into the final strains of the song. Adam's vision of Alex dematerializes back into the mist.
"We are almost at the castle." Nona is first to break the silence.
"Impossible," Adam blurts out and then says more politely, "We couldn't have been travelling for an hour already."
"It's the song," Petra says, glancing at Nona. "It's such an enchanting song, that the travel time seems to race by."
Adam glances at his watch. Only ten minutes have passed.
"Maybe the time is different here," Adam thinks, though he doesn't really believe it.
Nona notices Adam's skepticism and suggests, "Why don't we stop for some water. All this travelling has made me parched."
Adam realizes that he is thirsty and agrees.
"I don't see any faucets," Adam says and realizes how stupid that sounded. "I mean, water pumps or wells."
Nona chuckles. "Through that brush is the sweetest tasting water in all of Jaffa."
Both Nona and Click groan as Nona dismounts. She retrieves her staff from Petra and uses it to push away the dense brush. Behind the brush is a crystal-clear, icy spring.
"We don't have a cup," Adam says.
"Don't need one," Nona says, chuckling. With a sharp yank, she pulls Adam to his knees beside her. Nona uses her hands as a cup. Awkwardly, Adam does the same.
"I'm sorry, Petra," Adam says, hopping back up. "Ladies first."
Petra gives Nona an anxious look.
"Petra will drink after we are done," Nona says and adds as an afterthought, "Someone needs to stay with Click."
Adam nods and kneels back down, though he has an uneasy feeling.
"Maybe they have some weird cultural custom about refined ladies exposing their hands," Adam thinks, realizing that Petra had never removed her gloves in his presence, even while eating. "But Galena and Nona don't wear gloves?"
Adam helps Nona back to the donkey while Petra disappears into the brush to have some water. Petra soon returns, doing up the tiny buttons on her gloves.
"Once we are through the gates," Nona tells Adam, "you will be on your own. Petra has been summoned to Malachite's Great Hall. Her absence would arouse suspicion."
"You've been a great help already," Adam says. "Just point me in the direction of the dungeon."
"While you both are at the castle, I will try to locate your friends, these...Power Rangers. I will meet you at the blacksmith's stable at sundown and we will discuss how to free all of your friends."
"Please, don't trouble yourself," Adam says.
"Oh, no bother. I haven't had this much excitement in decades!" Nona says with a gleam of mischief in her eyes.
"Nona, we are almost at the castle gates," Petra says anxiously.
"Pull your hat down farther, Adam and stick close to me," Nona says. "We won't have any problems."
They leave the forest and enter the clearing, only a few hundred yards from the castle's walls. Two guards dressed similarly to the ones that kidnapped Alex, block the entrance. The trio slowly plod up to the gate. Adam ducks his head down even farther.
"Halt!" the guards say, crossing their lances in front of the trio.
"State your business," one of them says.
Nona stares at the men intensely. Sabra makes a low, bass-like hum. "I am accompanying my lady friend to his Majesty's castle. Lady Petra has been requested to sing at his Majesty's wedding feast tomorrow evening."
"Enter," the guard barks.
The guards move out of the way as the gate is opened. The trio pass through slowly. Adam's heart beats loudly in his ears. He doesn't breath again until the gate is closed behind them. Nona relaxes too when the gate closes. She slumps further down on Click.
"I can't believe that they didn't question me too," Adam says.
"They didn't see you," Nona says calmly.
"Sure they did. I was only inches from the guard on the left."
"Trust me, they did not see you."
Adam opens his mouth to protest, but Petra waves her hand at him to drop the subject. Adam shakes his head in disbelief, trying to figure out this strange land.
"Here is the blacksmith's stable," Nona says. "Adam wait here until Petra gets past the cooper's shop and then follow behind her."
"The cooperhe makes the barrels that store Malachite's wines."
"Oh, okay. Gotcha. The barrel maker guy's shop."
"Good luck, Adam," Petra says and then walks quickly away.
"Here goes nothing," Adam says, eyeing the stockades to the far right of the castle.
"I wonder if Alex is there?" Adam thinks. "Or maybe she's trapped in the dungeon? If he's hurt her in any way, I will kill him with my own two hands!"
"Is she acting more civilized now?" Malachite asks, stroking his pet raven sitting beside him.
"I believe so, your Majesty," a guard answers, with a bow.
"Then bring her to me."
A few minutes later, a dirty, disheveled Alex is ushered into the room. The spiked crown still buries into her forehead. Members of the court, dressed lavishly under yards of silks and satins, part as the stranger enters the room. Several bejeweled ladies gasp and whisper to each other behind their fans.
"I'm hungry, I'm dirty and I've got one hell of a headache. This better be good," Alex hisses.
"Silence!" Malachite barks.
Two guards grab each of Alex's elbows and one clasps his hand over Alex's mouth. Malachite steps down from his throne and approaches them. He steps closely to Alex to inspect her.
"I see you have your family's beauty," Malachite says, stroking her dirty cheek with his fingers.
Alex squirms in the guard's grip, trying to pull her face away from Malachite's hand. Her blue eyes flash with anger.
"And their spunk, I see." Malachite leans in closer and whispers, "Once your spirit is broken, you will make a powerful Queen of Jaffa. And an interesting wife."
Alex's bite causes her captor to quickly retrieve his hand. Alex kicks her right foot soundly into Malachite's chest, causing him to stumble and fall over backwards. In the melee of people rushing to help their fallen regent, Alex swings her arms upwards to break her captors' holds. A fist to the right and a kick to the left, totally frees Alex and she bolts for the door. The heavy wooden door slams closed as Alex gets to it. She slides to a stop and yanks on the cast-iron door handles. They won't budge. Alex races to the window, prepared to leap for it. Looking down, Alex calculates that it is easily a 100 feet down with nothing underneath to soften the fall.
"If I could morph, the jump wouldn't be a problem," Alex thinks.
She rushes to another window. Another long, unsoftened leap.
"If I could get this headpiece off, I could levitate down." Alex pulls at the crown firmly attached to her head. The tugging compounds her headache.
"Princess Alexandra," Malachite suddenly appears from behind her and grabs her upper arm with an icy hand.
"Look, don't even start with me buddy. I'll take your head off in an instant," Alex growls, pulling her hands up in front of her.
"Oh, I don't think so," Malachite says wickedly, with a slight wave of his hand.
The pain in Alex's head is worse than she'd ever felt. Alex grabs her head protectively and tries to pull away from Malachite.
"Now that I have your attention." Malachite releases both her arm and her head. "Your behavior is far from becoming to a princess. If you expect your subjects to respect you, you must conduct yourself in a more lady-like fashion."
"Okay, okay. Just leave the mind-vise off," Alex says.
"Agreed. Now if you will control yourself, I would like to offer our courtesies to you. Would you like a meal? A bath?"
"Agreed," Alex says cautiously. "But I'm not your princess. You've mistaken me with someone else."
"I am a civilized man. Once your basic needs are taken care of, then we will talk about your role here in Jaffa." Malachite reaches over and slide the crown off of Alex's head effortlessly. It disappears into thin air. "May I suggest that you adopt our clothing and hygiene customs while you are here. You currently look like gutter trash."
"Gutter trash?!?" Alex says indignantly.
One movement from Malachite's hand and the crown reappears. This is enough to smooth down Alex's ruffled feathers.
"Yes, I would like a bath and a change of clothes," Alex says more politely.
The crown disappears again as Malachite puts his hand back down. He extends his arm. "Shall we?"
Alex reluctantly takes Malachite's arm, and they walk back towards the rest of the court. When they are close to the throne, Malachite snaps his fingers. Two maids rush from the side wearing crisp white aprons over their starched black dresses. They do a deep courtsey to Malachite.
"Please follow me, m'lady," one of the maids says.
Alex hesitantly follows the maids out the side door and into the expansive hallway. They travel past at least 20 closed doors along the way. Finally a maid opens the door to a delicately decorated room. The room contains a luxurious feather bed with a satin canopy. A wardrobe stands open revealing several opulent dresses. Off to the side sits a large footed tub filled with steaming water.
"Wow!" Alex says, rushing to the French doors across from her bed.
Alex opens the doors and steps out onto the balcony. She has a perfect view of Jaffa from her balcony. The smell of sweet flowers tickles Alex's nose. She peers over to see tiny white flowers covering the trelise leading to her window.
"This is definitely an improvement," Alex says. She shivers recalling her previous night's lodging in the dank, dreary dungeon. She had refused to eat the rancid food given to her and didn't sleep much either. Keeping the rats away had been an all night occupation.
"You're bath, m'lady," one of the maid says, gently leading Alex towards the tub. The other maid stands stone-faced with a very large bar of soap.
"Thank you," Alex says, taking the bar of soap. "I believe that this is a one-woman job. You two can wait outside."
"We are not allowed to leave, m'lady."
"Then wait over there, WAY over there." Alex grabs the fluffy towel and gently pushes the two maids away from her.
After carefully scowering the stockades and peering into the barred windows of the dungeon, Adam returns to the blacksmith's shop disheartened. Nona sits quietly dozing in the straw next to Click. Sabra is curled up in the old woman's lap, snoring contently. Adam quietly walks up next to the woman.
"Did you have any luck?" Nona says, without opening her eyes.
"No, I didn't. Nobody has seen Alex since she arrived yesterday." Adam slumps down heavily into the straw. He sighs and rests his head in his hands.
"I have found your friends."
"They are working in the mine about one league away from here. I've been told that they are hungry and exhausted, but no harm has befallen them."
"So should I go to them or stay and look for Alex?" Adam sighs again in frustration wondering how he managed to get himself into such a pickle.
"Stay here, young friend. Your friends come to the castle tomorrow."
"How do you know?" Adam's hopes soar.
"The prophecy says so."
Adam's hopes deflate. "No disrespect meant, but I don't think I can put much hope in a bunch of hocus pocus."
"Hocus pocus?" Nona laughs. "Child, there are many things in Jaffa that you do not understand. Our journey, passing by the guards undetected, even Sabra is a mystery to you. Trust me, the Rangers will be in Jaffa by noon tomorrow."
Adam mulls over her words. It was true, there sure were a bunch of goofy, unexplainable things going on. "Worst comes to worst," Adam thinks. "I'll grab Alex first and then go get the Rangers."
"You should eat and try to get some rest. I will wake you when the moon is full and high in the sky. You should try the castle again then," Nona says, pulling out some bread and cheese from her saddlebag.
"You're right. Just don't let me oversleep." Adam tears off a large hunk of bread.
Relaxed by the heat of the water, Alex doses off in the tub, finally clean again.
"M'lady," a maid gently shakes her.
"Huh? What?" Alex says groggily.
"M'lady, the cook has sent you a tray of food and the seamstress a new dress for this evening." The maid holds out the towel for Alex.
"Wow, something smells great. I'm starved!" Alex practically leaps out of the tub, wrapping the huge bath towel around herself.
Alex slides into the chair in front of the vanity and rapidly consumes the gourmet meal of roasted fowl with assorted vegetables. She drinks mug after mug of water, as fast as the maids can refill her glass.
"This is wonderful," Alex mumbles, her mouth full of buttered bread.
The maids attempt to hide their shock over Alex's lack of manners. When Alex had successfully cleaned her tray, one of the maids brings a gray satin dress over to Alex. The other carries a brush and mirror.
An hour later, Alex wooshes out of her room into the hallway. She walks grandly down the hall back towards the Great Hall. Alex stops when she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. The dove gray satin gown fits her perfectly. The fitted bodice flares out at the waist all the way to the floor. Several lacy petticoats underneath give the dress width. Mother of pearl haircombs keep Alex's hair piled high on top of her head. Rows of ringlets spill down from the top of her head to frame her face.
"What an improvement," Malachite says as Alex enters the Great Hall.
"Thank you. I do feel much better. The food was wonderful," Alex says.
"Please, have a seat. Lady Petra has come to entertain the court this evening. She is the best singer in all of Jaffa."
Petra attempts to mask her surprise behind her sheet music. Alex can't decide why this woman is staring at her so intently. Soon Petra refocuses her attention and begins a bitter-sweet love song. Alex sits in wonder as the song progresses. Petra's voice crescendos to a series of high-pitched arpeggios with little effort.
"She's incredible," Alex says when Petra is finished.
"Only the best for our returning princess," Malachite says.
"We need to talk about that."
"Shh, just listen to Lady Petra for now. We'll talk after her concert."
Alex returns her attention to Petra. Soon a guard hurries over to them. He bends down and whispers in Malachite's ear.
"Sire, I have good news. The Earthlings have located the missing obsidian crystal. Unfortunately, they refuse to continue mining. The pink one collapsed and then the red one said that they wouldn't work anymore until they were adequately fed and allowed to rest for a few hours." The guard cowers down after sharing the news.
Malachite growls. "All right. Give them what they want. But that crystal must be here by noon tomorrow. No excuses."
Alex looks quizzically at Malachite. He smiles and returns his attention to Petra.
At the end of Petra's concert, Malachite turns to Alex. "I have a small token from your subjects."
Malachite snaps his fingers and two servants rush from the room. They return instantly carrying two satin pillows covered with purple cloth. Malachite removes the cloth on one pillow to reveal a dynamic diamond and obsidian necklace.
"It's gorgeous," Alex gushes. "I can't accept it though."
"Of course you can. It is a gift from your subjects to welcome you home to Jaffa." Malachite lifts the necklace off the pillow and places it around Alex's neck.
"We really need to talk about that. I'm not a princess. I'm an Army brat from Angel Grove, California."
"Our legend says that the lost princess was taken to another planet. Do you know your great-great grandfather?"
"Well, no. He died long before I was born."
"Exactly. Then how do you know that you are not our lost princess?"
"Well, I...uh. I'm pretty sure I'm not."
"You look like your ancestorsfair of skin, blue eyes, black hair and a firey temper."
"Sorry about that. You scared me earlier."
"We would never hurt you, dear Princess." Malachite gently touches Alex's hand. This time she doesn't jerk away. "Tomorrow will be your big day. You will be officially presented to all of your subjects."
Malachite removes the second cloth to reveal an ornate crown of black pearls. At the front of the crown is a large hole. Alex stares at it and Malachite notices her look.
"Tomorrow the missing obsidian crystal will arrive to secure your spot in Jaffian history. With the crystal in the crown, you will become Regent of Jaffa."
Alex smiles, but her smile soon disappears. "I thought you were Regent of Jaffa."
"We will be Regents of Jaffa."
"Wait a minute. No offense, but I barely know you. I'm not ready to marry anyone. Besides, I left someone special behind on Earth."
Malachite's icy glare returns and he says firmly, "Tomorrow you will become Queen of Jaffa and my wife."
"No deal! Tomorrow you send me back to Earth," Alex snaps.
"Impossible, the porthole is closed forever. You will remain on Jaffa for the rest of your life. I suggest you reconsider my offer."
Malachite's malicious stare strikes terror in Alex's heart. Alex bolts from the Great Hall. It takes her several tries to find her room again. She slams the door closed and locks it. She paces back and forth for several minutes trying to decide what to do. She opens the French doors to allow the warm night air in. A knocking on her door breaks Alex's concentration.
"M'lady, I have a message for you," a guard says. "We received it from Earth just a moment ago."
Alex reluctantly opens the door for the guard. He holds a strange object in his hand.
"What is it?" Alex asks, taking the strange mix of crystal and metal from him.
"A message from Earth. I'll give you your privacy," he says, and walks out the door. A sinister grin lights up his face as Alex closes the door.
Alex sits down on her bed and looks at the cube. She shakes it and then flips it around in her palm wondering how to activate it. After several minutes of fumbling, she triggers the message. Alex does a double take as she sees a holograph of the Red Ranger appear in front of her. The other Rangers stand in a V-shape around him.
"Alex, I'm afraid I have bad news," the image begins. "While you were gone, we have been fighting an intense battle against the Machine Empire. We were losing and then Malachite made a deal with us. He offered to trade a squadron of his fighters for you."
Alex stops breathing. She looks at Adam's form to see his expression, but can't because of the mask. She can tell that he is anxious though. He is fidgeting.
"King Mondo has destroyed our Zords, and we are desperate. I hope you can understand. We all...agreed to the deal. You are to remain on Jaffa indefinitely. Please understand."
"WHAT?!?!" Alex can't believe her ears and replays the message.
She replays the message several more times, trying to convince herself that Tommy is somehow mistaken.
"You are to remain on Jaffa indefinitely," Tommy's image repeats. "Please understand."
"Adam!" Alex yells at the image with tears running down her cheeks. "I don't understand! How can you leave me here? You said you loved me!"
Alex sobs into her pillow until exhausted and finally drifts off to sleep.
As Alex sleeps, a little creature slips in her open window. Sabra twitters around Alex's head,inspecting the girl. Sabra sees a tray of fruit left for Alex and zeroes in on it. After fully satisfying her appetite, Sabra flies back out the window.
The moon is high when Adam returns to the castle. Using all of his ninja skills, Adam slips in and out of the shadows. A light scratching on his back sends Adam leaping into the air.
"Sabra! Shh! You scared me." Adam grabs the dragon and pulls her into the darkness. "You need to go back to Nona before you give me away. Go on, shoo."
Adam pushes Sabra away but the little dragon keeps returning to him.
"I said go." Adam slaps at the dragon.
Sabra chirps and pulls on Adam's tunic.
"Cut it out. I don't have time to play."
Sabra chirps more emphatically and pulls harder. Finally, Adam begins walking in the direction that she wants him to. Whenever Adam veers off course, Sabra gently pushes him back in line. Soon Adam finds himself under a balcony with its door open. Sabra flits up to the balcony and back down again.
"You want me to climb up there?"
Sabra chirps and flies back up and down again.
"You better be right or this is going to be really embarrassing."
Adam takes a quick glance around and then begins climbing the trellis. He agily swings himself over the top. He cautiously walks into the candle-lit room. On the bed lies a sleeping figure.
"It sort of resembles Alex," Adam thinks.
He walks closer to the sleeping form and peers down at her.
"It is Alex!" Adam says. Sabra chirps with satisfaction.
The sleeping form suddenly awakens. Adam places his hand over her mouth to muffle her surprised cry. Alex stands up, moving quickly away from Sabra.
"Adam, there's a monster sitting on your shoulder. Don't move, I'm going to whack it," Alex says, eyeballing the strange beast.
"Wait! This is Sabra. She's a friend. She led me to you."
Sabra purrs and brushes the top of her head against Adam's cheek. Adam reaches up and scratches underneath the dragon's chin. Alex continues to stare at the strange creature. Soon Sabra spots the fruit tray again and speeds towards it. She proceeds to stuff herself.
"Alex, thank God you're okay," Adam says, grabbing Alex in a bearhug. "I was so worried."
Alex stiffens in his arms and pulls away. "Yeah, real worried I'm sure. So worried that you agreed to trade me for a squadron of fighters."
Alex grabs the cube and replays the holographic message. Adam stands silently in disbelief.
"Alex, you have to believe me when I say that everything that Malachite's told you is one big lie," Adam says, grabbing Alex's hands in his own. "All of the Rangers are here, not on Earth. I gave Billy my zeonizer." Adam shows Alex his bare wrist.
"I thought you somehow looked different in the holograph. Billy's body shape is somewhat different than yours."
"The Rangers are supposedly coming to Jaffa tomorrow. If the legend is correct, they should be bringing a large black crystal with them."
"An obsidian crystal," Alex says. "The one that fits in the crown."
"Yes, how did you know?"
"I'm supposed to wear it tomorrow when I become Queen of Jaffa."
"Oh yeah, it gets even better," Alex says sarcastically. "Malachite thinks I'm going to marry him tomorrow too."
"Over my dead body!" Adam says defensively, pulling Alex closer in to him.
"That can be arranged!" a guard says, bursting through the door.
Several other guards enter with him. Alex and Adam both take a defensive stance. Sabra growls. Two guards charge at Adam, their swords drawn. Adam nimbly ducks as the guards cut into the bedposts. A quick leg sweep takes out one guard and a series of punches takes out the other. Alex "hurls" a large china vase at another guard. Adam kicks the sword out of the lead guard's hands. A series of well-placed kicks sends the guard to the floor. Sabra dive bombs the final guard, raking her talons across his exposed face.
"Let's clean the room and block it off before reinforcements come," Adam says, breathing hard from exertion.
Alex "grabs" the groaning guards and "pushes" them out the door. Alex and Adam pull the heavy wardrobe in front of the door to block it.
"We need a plan, quick," Alex says.
"We go down the trellis and race back to the blacksmith's shop. Maybe Nona will have a plan," Adam says, leaning heavily against the wardrobe.
"Ah, man. No wonder women used to be so wimpy. I can't do anything in this dress." Alex grabs the skirt of her dress and several layers of petticoats and hikes it up to knee level.
"I think you look beautiful." Adam reaches over and strokes Alex's cheek and then he kisses her. "Besides, I don't mind being your Knight in green shining armor."
Alex kisses him back. "I hate to burst your bubble, but Billy has your green shining armor. And my armor is history too."
"No, I found...."
The door flies open, pushing the wardrobe away effortlessly. Alex and Adam stumble away from the blast, crumpling into the floor. Malachite enters the room.
"YOU!" Malachite yells.
Alex and Adam scramble to their feet taking a defensive stance once again. Alex sends the strongest psychic blast she can muster without her Purple Ranger power. Malachite acts as if he's been lightly shoved. With a ninja war cry, Adam launches himself into the air, prepared to strike Malachite. A swift arm movement by Malachite sends Adam crashing into the vanity. Sabra hisses.
"Sabra, find Nona. Quickly!" Adam pushes Sabra towards the window and luckily for once she obeys him. Adam groans, grabbing his bruised ribs.
"How dare you!" Alex yells, blasting Malachite again.
Malachite laughs at her effort and sends it back at her. Alex crashes to the floor, slamming into the side of the feather bed. The spiked crown reappears in Malachite's hand and he throws it at Alex. The crown magically settles itself on Alex's head, the spikes pressing into her forehead painfully. Alex's anger overpowers the pain in her head. She launches herself back at Malachite determined to take his head off. Her repeated blows do not phase Malachite. He brushes her away and heads towards Adam. Adam jumps to his feet, his ribs burning. Adam tries every move in his repetoire against Malachite without success. Malachite shoves Adam away and into the vanity once again. Alex jumps on Malachite's back in an attempt to slow his path to Adam.
"Alexandra!" Malachite bellows, yanking Alex by the hair off his back. She dangles on her tiptoes in front of the sorcerer. "If you do not cooperate with me, I will break your lover's neck."
"Leave her alone!" Adam hisses, struggling to get to his feet.
Malachite pushes Alex away from him and jerks Adam off the floor. He grabs Adam by the neck and squeezes his throat. "If you want him to live, you better follow my every wish."
"Okay, okay," Alex says. "Don't hurt him."
"Guards! Take him to the dungeon. No one is going to ruin my wedding plans for tomorrow," Malachite hisses.
"Adam!" Alex yells as they drag him away.
"Princess Alexandra," Malachite says calmly while straightening his cravate. "I am not an unreasonable man. I will send your Adam back to Earth tomorrow...after we are married. Please, try to get some rest. Tomorrow will be a big day for you."
The rest of the guards leave and Malachite follows after them.
"If you do not cooperate tomorrow, you will be signing Adam's death certificate," Malachite adds vindictively.
Adam sits in the dungeon all night trying to come up with a plan. He kicks at a rat and goes back to planning. He reaches into his shirt and pulls out Alex's power coin.
"If I can somehow get this to Alex, she might be able to overpower Malachite as the Purple Ranger. If nothing else, maybe all the Rangers together could take this jerk out. If the Rangers come," Adam thinks.
As the sun rises, a guard comes to Adam's cell.
"You! Come with me!" the guard barks.
Adam quickly slips the power coin in his gi pocket and comes out of the shadows. The guard binds Adam's hands and roughly shoves him through the door. Adam is led out to the stockades and is chained to a wooden post. The guard pulls out a piece of parchment from his coat and tacks it up next to Adam's post. When the guard leaves, Adam turns himself around to read the sign.
"Prisoner: Adam of Earth
That's real original.
Crime: Attempted assasination of her Majesty, Princess Alexandra of Jaffa.
Punishment: Death by hanging at noon.
Noon! Oh man, I hope the Rangers get here soon."
"Psst. Psst. Adam," an old woman says.
Nona peeks out from her shawl and says loudly as other Jaffians pass, "Oh, my poor grandson. How you have disgraced our family. But it is my duty to tend to my kin."
Nona digs into her bag and pulls out a flask of water which she offers to Adam. She leans in close to Adam to help him drink and says, "The Rangers are coming. My sources say that they left the mines before sunup. They will be here in an hour or so."
"They'll save me," Adam says with a sigh of relief.
"I'm afraid that it will be difficult. They are also in chains and Malachite has ordered their execution right after yours."
"Do not give up hope, Adam. Petra and I will be at the ceremony."
"Thanks," Adam says though he has doubts how this decrepit old woman was going to be able to help them.
"I must go before the guards get suspicious. Do not give up hope," Nona whispers and then says loudly on purpose, "Oh, our family name. Soiled by such ignorance. We claim you no more."
Nona gives Adam a parting wink and disappears into the crowd.
As the sun rises higher in the sky, the maids return to Alex's room to prep her for the day's events. At eleven o'clock, Malachite comes to collect his future bride.
"You look stunning, Princess Alexandra," Malachite says with a formal bow.
Alex is dressed in a gorgeous, long white silk dress decorated with pearls. Around her neck is the necklace that Malachite had given her the night before. Her hair was piled up again on the top of her head, however parts were pulled down to cover up the metal crown that still pierced her brow.
"I want to see Adam," Alex says sharply. "If you've hurt him in anyway, you can just kiss this princess crap goodbye."
"No need to be testy. Adam is right there." Malachite walks to Alex's western most window and opens it wide.
Alex rushes to the window. She sees Adam chained to the wooden post.
"Get him off that post immediately!" Alex hisses. "I want him in my eyesight at all times until you return him to Earth, otherwise no deal."
"As you wish," Malachite says with a wicked grin. "I will have the guards bring him up on the stage next to you."
"Time to go," a guard says to Adam, unhooking him from the post.
Adam is dragged by his shackles across the courtyard and up onto the stage set for the day's coronation. The already gathered crowd boos and hisses at Adam as he takes the stage. He is made to stand underneath the gallows.
"How convenient, huh? A two-for-one special," Adam says sarcastically, looking up to see the dangling rope above his head.
"Silence! And bow!" The guard knocks Adam's feet out from underneath him until he is kneeling.
The trumpets blare a welcome as important members of Malachite's court take their spots on stage. Adam gasps when he sees the Rangers, in unmorphed states, being lead through the crowd in chains. Tommy holds the fist-sized obsidian crystal. The Rangers are marched on stage past Adam.
"Hang tough, Adam," Tommy whispers. "We're not finished yet."
Malachite and Alex stand in the wings.
"Tommy...Kat...Billy...Tanya...Rocky...," Alex says as her friends pass them in the distance.
"Now, the Rangers will give you the magic stone," Malachite says, wringing his hands anxiously. "You place it into the crown and then release the magic."
"What magic?" Alex says.
"Don't play games with me, girl. You know you have to set the stone to receive the power."
"I don't want the power; you do. So why don't you just do it yourself."
Malachite grabs Alex's arm so tightly that she yelps.
"You know I can't touch the power. Only the King's descendant can," Malachite hisses.
"I'm telling you, I don't know how to release any power."
"You'd better remember quickly or you can sign your friends' death warrants too."
Alex panics and then has an idea. "Okay, I think I remember. But I can't release the power with the crown on, it blocks my psi powers."
"Done." Malachite waves his hand and the crown disappears.
Alex rubs her forehead protectively.
"It is time for our entrance." Malachite grabs Alex's arm again and walks her onto the stage.
The crowd cheers as they see Alex. Adam says her name as she passes, but Alex doesn't dare look at him. After Alex passes, Adam sees Nona and Petra standing at the front of the crowd in front of Alex's position. Sabra sits on Nona's walking stick, growling.
"Loyal subjects of Jaffa, I present your Queen Alexandra!" Malachite says and the crowd roars. "Today, your lost princess has returned to claim her throne. Obsious' reign of terror over Jaffa has now ended."
The crowd cheered again. Malachite nods at his guards watching the Rangers. The guard unshackles Tommy and pushes him towards Alex with the stone. Tommy walks slowly towards Alex, who stands holding the Regent's crown. He reaches out the stone towards her. Malachite draws in a sharp breath, anticipating the unleashing of the power.
"NOW!" Tommy yells. "Adam!"
Tommy abruptly turns away from Alex and heaves the crystal through the air towards Adam. Adam fumbles to catch the stone with his hands still shackled. Guards approach him from both sides. Adam jumps to his feet and deftly flips off the front of the stage into the crowd, never losing the stone.
"ZEO RANGER ONE, PINK!"
"ZEO RANGER TWO, BLUE!"
"ZEO RANGER THREE, YELLOW!"
"ZEO RANGER FOUR, GREEN!"
"ZEO RANGER FIVE, RED!"
Powering up allows the Rangers to break their bonds. They do front flips off the stage also, rushing to help Adam. Adam ducks, causing two guards to crash into one another. He swerves through the crowd until he spots Nona and Petra.
"Adam!" Nona says, with a wave of her hand, Adam's shackles fall to the ground. "Give me the stone."
Adam hands the old woman the stone and then glances at the stage. Malachite has Alex by the throat and is strangling her. Adam digs the power coin out of his pocket. Two guards are headed his way quickly. Adam glances around trying to decide how to reach Alex before Malachite squeezes the last breath out of her. Sabra cries in alarm.
"Sabra, take this coin to Alex!" Adam says, holding the coin out for Sabra.
"Sabra understands," Nona says. "Now go!"
With a swish of her cloak, Nona and Petra disappear. Adam stands dumbfounded until he is tackled by a guard.
Alex flails around, trying to break Malachite's grip. Sabra screams and scratches Malachite with one of her talons. Malachite howls in pain, releasing Alex in the process. Sabra drops the coin above Alex's head and dives on Malachite again.
"My power coin!" Alex says in disbelief and then snaps back to attention. "POWER RANGER SIX, PURPLE!"
The crowd gasps at the Princess's transformation.
"Buddy, you've had this coming," Alex says, high kicking Malachite to get him to release his death grip on Sabra.
Malachite pitches the wimpering dragon over his shoulder and turns his attention to Alex. He releases a stream of lightning bolts from his hands. The bolts bounce harmlessly off of Alex's mental shield.
"C'mon, you'll have to do better than that!" Alex taunts, sending a psychic blast that knocks Malachite off the stage.
Alex leaps effortlessly off the stage. Malachite sends a series of lightning blasts exploding in front of Alex. Extending her staff, Alex easily pole-vaults over top of them and Malachite. A low leg sweep by Alex causes Malachite to crash to the ground.
A strange eerie singing causes the fight to hault. In the middle of the coronation stage stand Nona and Petra.
The melee in the crowd stops to see what is going on. Petra begins singing an ancient song in an even older language. Sabra hums a steady bass note. Without missing a beat, Petra undoes the tiny buttons on her gloves and removes them.
"That song!" Malachite exclaims, still collapsed in the grass from Alex's last blow. "It is the incantation!"
Nona passes the rich black crystal to Petra. Petra wraps her hands carefully around the stone. Each of her 12 fingers on a different facet.
The crowd freezes and stares incredulously at the stage.
"She is the one," a wizened woman, hunched over her cane, announces. "She has the family trait."
"She's polydactic," Billy says, his booted foot resting heavily on a guard's chest.
Petra sings a series of arpeggioseach one taking her range higher and higher. She lifts the crystal higher with each set.
"No!" Malachite yells, scrambling to his feet. He glares at Alex. "You were supposed to be the one!"
"I told you I wasn't your princess, but you wouldn't listen," Alex says with a shrug.
"Guards! Kill Petra!"
Several guards charge the stage. The Rangers follow in hot pursuit. Alex heads for the stage too, with Malachite on her heels. With the Rangers engaged in a heated battle with the guards, Malachite slips off to the side.
Adam is the first to notice Malachite's disappearance and looks around frantically for the missing enemy. Malachite reappears behind Petra, brandishing an ornately decorated silver dagger.
"Petra! Nona! Watch out!" Adam yells and runs for the stage.
Adam vaults effortlessly onto the stage. He grabs Malachite's wrist, struggling to break the wizard's grip on the dagger. Petra continues to sing, still reaching higher and higher with her voice. Soon the arpeggios are at an ear-splitting pitch. The guards fall to their knees, clutching their bleeding ears. The Rangers are slightly better equiped with their helmets blocking some of the sound. Adam struggles with Malachite even though his head feels ready to explode from the sound.
The note that sends Adam to his knees is the one that causes a fissure in Petra's stone. Petra sustains the pitch and the fissure deepens. With a blast of pure white light, the crystal explodes. The blinding light causes everyone to shade their eyes. Malachite's howl grabs everyone's attention. The white light has reduced him to his original form.
"Lord Obsious!" Nona announces.
"Today, Lord Obsious," Petra says in a loud, stately voice. "Today, the Princess of Jaffa returns to claim her throne."
The old wizard shrinks from Petra's glare.
"Wizard, as Regent of Jaffa, I hereby banish you from our land." Petra waves her hands and the white light intensifies again. When everyone is able to see again, Malachite/Obsious and all the black-armored knights are gone.
"Subjects of Jaffa," Petra continues. "You are now free. Today we return to the just monarchy that my great-grandfather once had."
The crowd cheers, "Long live the Queen! Long live the Queen!"
"Adam, are you okay?" Nona says, peering down at Adam who still sits on the stage floor dumbstruck.
"Sure. Just a little bit overwhelmed though at the moment," Adam answers.
Sabra flies to Adam and perches on his shoulder. The dragon licks his cheek with her sandpaper-like tongue. This rouses Adam quickly.
"OW! Ah man, yuck. Dragon spit." Adam wipes his cheek on his sullied tunic. "
Loyal subjects of Jaffa, return to your homes," Petra says.
"Tomorrow we officially crown our Queen and celebrate with a feast at noon," Nona adds.
The crowd roars with approval.
"The feast will also be in honor of our new friends, Adam and the Power Rangers."
The Rangers join Petra on stage and wave to the cheering crowd. Soon the crowd begins to disband.
"Rangers, please, come back to the castle with us," Nona says, shepherding them off stage.
"I promise, this time we will show you better hospitality," Petra adds.
"I don't know whether to laugh, cry or fall down from complete exhaustion," Kat says.
"This way, child." Nona takes Kat's arm. "A rich meal, hot bath and comfortable bed wait for you."
A few hours later, the Rangers join Petra and Nona in the Great Dining Hall.
"It feels so good to be clean," Tanya says.
"And these dresses are gorgeous," Kat adds, fingering a pale pink, silk sleeve.
"I am going to sleep like the dead tonight," Adam says, already stifling a yawn.
"Pass the potato-looking things. I'm starved!" Rocky says, his mouth watering.
Tommy clinks his goblet to gain everyone's attention. "A toast to Jaffa's new Queen."
"Who knew that she was right under Malachite's nose the entire time!" Alex says with a laugh.
"Sometimes the best place to hide things are in plain sight," Nona answers.
"A toast to new friends," Petra responds.
Beginning to feel a little tipsy from the wine, Rocky adds, "A toast to Adam for the awesome interception he made with the stone. Man, you should try out for the football team when we get home."
"Speaking of which," Alex says. "How are we going to get home?"
"Petra, now that you've regained your power, can you send us all home?" Adam asks.
"I'm sorry, but I don't know how presently," Petra answers remorsefully. "But you are welcomed to stay in the castle for as long as it takes for us to find a way to send you back."
"I will search the ancient tomes I found locked away in Obsious's room for the answer," Nona says.
"So Obsious and Malachite were really the same person?" Kat asks.
"Yes. I found the youth-giving incantation in the open book in his room," Nona answers. "The people hated Obsious so much that he decided to reinvent himself as Malachite."
"Malachite wouldn't win any personality contests either," Alex says, rubbing her still sore arm.
"But as Malachite, he could blame unpopular decisions on Obsious," Nona answers. "It must have taken an exorbanant amount of energy for him to keep up the facade. I wonder if he reverted into Obsious at night."
"Hey, Alex. That would have been a shock on your first night as King and Queen wouldn't it?" Rocky says and then hiccups.
"Don't even go there," Alex warns, shivering at the thought.
"Oh wow!" Rocky's previous train of thought is totally destroyed as the servants bring in a very large turkey-sized fowl surrounded with more vegetables.
"That's it. I'm done." Adam collapses heavily into his chair.
Alex swirls around several more times before falling dizzily into her own chair.
"What fun!" Alex fans her rosy cheeks and takes a large drink of water. "I could dance all night."
"Not me. All I want right now is a soft, dark, rodent-free area to collapse in for about the next twelve hours."
Alex smiles and then looks across the room. "I think somebody needs to cut Rocky off."
A very tipsy Rocky weaves around the dance floor. He swings Tanya around so hard that she loses her balance and runs into Billy who hangs out on the side of the party enjoying the music.
"I think it's time for Mr. DeSantos to make his exit for the evening. I don't think 'The Macarena' is appropriate in this company."
"It wouldn't be so bad if he was actually on the beat," Alex adds with a chuckle.
Adam walks up to Rocky who continues to dance away, lost in his own little world.
"Rocky...Rocky...ROCK-Y!" Adam yells to his glazed-gazed friend.
"Hey, Adam!" Rocky slurs.
"C'mon, buddy. Time for you to go."
"But the party's just getting started."
"If you party too much more, you're going to end up passed out on the floor. And I am NOT going to carry you."
"One more song," Rocky bargins like a small child negotiating his bedtime.
"Tomorrow," Tanya says, coming up from behind the pair. "It looks like we'll be here for a while, Rock. We'll have plenty of other opportunities."
Tanya grabs Rocky's elbow and says to Adam, "Rocky's room is right next to mine. I'll make sure he gets there without any diversions."
"Thanks, Tanya," Adam says, stifling a yawn. "See you in the morning."
"Night, Adam," Tanya says.
"Night, Froggy!" Rocky pulls Adam to him, taking him in a headlock and noogying him.
Adam pulls away from Rocky. "Good night, Rocky."
"Ready to turn in?" Alex asks as Adam returns. She gently pushes his messed up hair back into place.
After kissing Alex goodnight, Adam returns to his darkened room. Still feeling hot from dancing, Adam opens the French doors that lead out onto his balcony. He looks out across the hushed courtyard and up into the clear, midnight sky.
"As much as I am not missing the truckloads of Trig homework and Mrs. Crumb's pop quizes, I hope we can go home soon," Adam thinks. "I'm ready to leave this strange land of sorcerors, magic, and tiny dragons."
A faint light across the courtyard catches Adam's eye. Looking harder, Adam notices a figure pacing around in candle-lit room carrying large books and other equipment.
"Nona?" Adam guesses the hunched-back, tiny silouetted figure to be.
Adam watches for several more minutes without gaining any additional information. He yawns loudly and returns into his room. Adam wearily slips off his boots and throws his ornately decorated, hunter green, suede tunic on the closest piece of furniture. He snuggles down into the plump, overly-stuffed feather bed and falls into an exhausted sleep before his head even hits the pillow.
That night, Alex sleeps soundly too. She dreams of flying through the Milky Way. She sees Jupiter, with its big red eye, pass by on her left. A few seconds later Saturn, with it's unmistakeable rings, passes by on her right. Alex leaves our solar system and ventures out further into unchartered space.
"Artemis?" Alex bolts up right, an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. "Maybe I should have passed on that second pastry."
Alex climbs out of bed and pads barefoot across the cool stone floor to her window. She walks out onto the balcony and looks up into the disappearing night sky. A few streaks of orange and pink appear on the horizon. Voices cause Alex to look down. Below her window, a few servants have already started the preparations for the coronation ceremony and feast.
"I wonder who could be up so late? Or so early?" Alex thinks, staring at the dimly lit window diagonally across from her room. She studies the slow-moving, hunched over figure for several minutes before a crashing sound distracts her.
"He's back! I know he's back!" a boy's voice screams in the darkness.
"Don't be a fool, Ulee. It's just a sun spot or some other easily explainable cosmic event. Now stop fooling around and take this grain to the cook," a deeper voice chastises.
Alex sees the boy reluctantly accept the bag of grain from the older man and slowly head off towards the kitchen area. Alex glances into the sky.
She gasps, "Ulee may be right!"
The dawn sky is a turmultuous sea of purples and reds and oranges. Clouds swirl around in the sky as if they were being sucked into a whirlpool. Alex bursts out the door and rushes down the hallway. She pounds on Adam's door.
"Adam! Adam! Wake up!" Alex yells through the heavy oak door.
Alex pounds on the door again. "Adam! Wake up!"
"Alex?" Adam mumbles sleepily, dreaming of someone sand-papering his nose and cheek.
Alex continues to pound on his door.
"It's still dark outside, Alex. Come back in a couple of hours."
Adam snuggles up to his purring cat, without opening his eyes. "You sound content...." Adam realizes that he can't remember his cat's name. Then he remembers that he doesn't even own a cat.
With a yelp, Adam pushes himself to the edge of the bed. Two green eyes twinkle in the low light. The black blob arches its back and then stretches out two wings.
Sabra makes an affirmative chirp.
"How'd you get in here?"
Sabra chirps again.
"ADAM!" Alex yells again. "You have 2 seconds to get over here before I break down the door!"
"Alright, already. Geez." Adam plods slowly to the door. "What's all the fuss?"
Alex grabs Adam's arm and jerks him toward the balcony.
"That!" Alex says, pointing to the sky.
"It's a sunrise," Adam yawns. "I'd love to watch the sun rise with you anytime, just not today. I'm beat."
"Look at the clouds, Adam," Alex says impatiently. "Malachite is coming back."
"No, he's not. Petra banished him."
"Then how do you explain that weird cloud pattern?"
"I don't know. There are plenty of weird things here. I'll ask Nona tomorrow," Adam says, heading back towards his warm, soft bed.
"We'll ask her now," Alex says firmly, grabbing Adam's arm once again.
Adam groans as Alex pulls him out the door.
The pair weave through the castle until they end up on the other side of the courtyard. Adam shivers, wishing that he'd insisted on wearing his tunic and shoes.
"This better be something important, or we're going to look really stupid," Adam complains.
Alex pounds on Nona's door. No one answers. Several more knocks fail to produce the wizened woman. Adam tries the door knob and finds the door unlocked.
"Nona? Nona? I'm really sorry to bother you, but...." Adam glances around the candle-lit room, but sees no trace of the woman.
"She's out there." Alex points out the window.
"We better wake the other Rangers," Adam says, now not so convinced that Alex is wrong.
"Rangers, this is Alex. Wake up, guys!" Alex yells into her communicator. "We've got big trouble. I think Malachite is back!"
"I hear you, Alex," Tanya is the first to respond.
"Me too," Kat says. "I'll get Tommy."
"Rocky? Rocky? ROCKY!" Alex continues.
"Wha-wha...stop yelling Alex," Rocky says with a groan.
"We'll meet you there. Kat out."
The Rangers converge on the courtyard simultaneously, though Rocky holds his head while he runs. Kat gasps when she sees the mass of swirling clouds.
"We kicked his butt once, we can do it again," Tommy says confidently. "Let's do it, guys."
"ZEO RANGER ONE, PINK!"
"ZEO RANGER TWO, BLUE!"
"ZEO RANGER THREE, YELLOW!"
"ZEO RANGER FOUR, GREEN!"
"ZEO RANGER FIVE, RED!"
"POWER RANGER SIX, PURPLE!"
"I'm sorry, did you want your powers back now, Adam?" Billy says afterwards.
"Nah, it's okay, Billy. You can keep them until we get home," Adam answers.
"There's Nona!" Alex says, pointing further down the courtyard.
An increasingly large group of servants and spectators have gathered around Nona, whispering frantically. Only Nona looks unfazed. The Rangers race to join her, prepared for another battle.
"What's that?" a cry comes from the crowd.
Everyone looks into the sky. A white light begins to intensify in the center of the whirlpool of clouds. The Rangers take a defensive stance. Soon everyone is forced to shield their eyes from the intense glare. A loud bird's cry sends the Jaffians crashing to the ground. Even the Rangers stumble backwards a few paces.
"Artemis?" the cry strikes a chord in Alex.
With a earth-rumbling boom and a flash of light, Artemis breaks through the eye of the storm. She gently back-wings to land gracefully in the middle of the courtyard. Several women scream.
"Artemis!" Alex runs for her zord and, in a streak of purple light, flies up towards the cockpit.
"Well, I'll be," Nona says. "The vision I saw was of a bird, but this wasn't exactly what I predicted."
"You knew Artemis was coming?" Adam says with wide-eyes.
"Not exactly. I was able to open the portal to your planet, but I didn't bring this bird-creature to us. I was going to try to send you all home in the morning."
In a streak of purple light, Alex materializes back on the grass. She unhooks her helmet. A broad grin lights up her face.
"Trini sent her. Artemis said that Trini was able to lock on to a portal that matched Malachite's original coordinates. We can go home!" Alex says.
"Won't you at least stay for the day's festivities?" Petra asks, appearing out of the crowd.
Alex's smile disappears. "That's the bad news. Artemis also announced that King Mondo is up to his old tricks. Zordon has picked up negative vibes or bad karma or whatever he does and we need to high-tail it back to Earth asap."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Rangers. We had hoped to repay you for your help," Nona says.
"You already have. You helped us get Alex back. I don't need anything else. That's reward enough," Adam says, wrapping an arm protectively around Alex's waist.
"Ah, children," Nona says, placing her right hand on Adam's cheek and her left on Alex's cheek. "Your fates will always be intertwined, together until your death."
Alex gives the old woman a weak smile, wondering whether she should be comforted or totally freaked out by the prediction.
"We really should get going," Tommy interrupts their awkward silence.
"And so the Rangers said goodbye to their new friends and boarded the great owl Zord, Artemis, for their trip back home through the Milky Way," Andrew's mother says, bringing the story to a close.
"Did the Rangers ever go back to Jaffa?" Andrew asks and then yawns.
"No, they never did. The portal was permanently sealed when the Rangers returned to Earth, and they were never able to reopen it. Nor were they ever called back to Jaffa by Nona and Petra. So we are to presume that Malachite/Obsious never returned to Jaffa either. Soon the Rangers became distracted by their other adventures. But the Purple and Green Rangers never forgot their adventure together. The Purple Ranger's power coin forever bared the scars from Sabra's sharp teeth."
Andrew giggled. "I wish I could have a dragon friend like the Green Ranger."
"I don't think Sabra would be happy here in space. Dragons like open spaces to fly around in. Plus, the zero gravity sections of the space station would be hard for them to get used to."
"Still...." Andrew's eyes closed as he thought about having a pet dragon of his very own.
"Now, it is time to go to sleep. Sweet dreams." Andrew's mother leans over and kisses his cheek. "I'll send Daddy in to check on you later."
With a groan, the middle-aged woman stands and limps out the door.
The woman slips out of Andrew's room and closes the door. She straightens up a few belongings until the door chime rings. She walks to the door with a slight limp. The door slides open. Andrew's father returns with their two guests from Earth. The woman jerks to attention.
"Captain Alexandra Jamison-Park, reporting for duty ma'am."
"Oh, stop, Alex," the middle-aged Asian woman says. "Besides, I think you out-rank me anyway."
Alex relaxes and gives her old friend a hug.
"It's so good to see you again, Trini. You don't know how excited we were to see your name on the top of the duty roster for our 'special' assignment. And a new professor for the children's school too. We couldn't have gotten a better one. Welcome to Gemini Space Station, Bill."
"Please, come in and make yourselves comfortable." Adam directs the newcomers to the family's livingroom area. He orders some refreshments from the computerized canteen.
"It's been so many years, where do we begin?" Alex says, as they sit down.
"What have you been up to since leaving Angel Grove?" Bill asks.
Alex and Trini look at each other and burst into laughter.
"Let see, 1999 was a big year for us, remember, Red?" Trini says.
"That was the year we officially retired from our crime fighting duties. We decided we needed a change, but I think we went a little off the deep end," Alex answers.
"As I recall, you cut your hair to about two inches all over and dyed it fire engine red."
"So, you cut and dyed yours platinum blonde, remember?"
"Two frustrated, out of work, lonely young women with really bad hair, what else was there for us to do?" Trini says with a shrug. "We joined the Air Force."
"That was a turbulent time for all of us," Adam says, looking at his wife. It was a very dark page in their history.
"After two years, I was ready to return to medical school, but Alex wanted to continue her military career," Trini says.
A buzz from the canteen interrupts their discussion. The ordered food and beverages materialize in the canteen. Adam and Alex grab them and set them on the coffee table.
Trini notices Alex's limp immediately.
"That leg still giving you problems?" Trini asks.
"Yeah. I think it's about time for a replacement." Alex pulls up the pants leg on her left leg. She taps on the normal looking leg. It makes a weird hollow sound. "These bionic limbs have about a 15 year warranty," she jokes.
"Come to my clinic tomorrow morning and we'll discuss your options. Medicine has changed a lot since the Delta War. I wish we knew then what we do now. They could have saved your leg," Trini says regretfully.
It had taken many years for Alex to completely work through that terrifying experience.
"Fighting Cogs and Pirahanatrons was so much easier," Alex says.
"Isn't that how you and Adam got back together though, during your recovery?" Bill asks.
Alex smiles at her husband. "Boy, did he get a shock!"
"I really didn't want the assignment," Adam answers truthfully. "I had just received the divorce papers from my first wife that morning and then the editor of the Times wanted to send me right into a war zone to interview some woman receiving a Purple Heart for the Battle of Helan. Needless to say, I wasn't too enthusiastic about going."
"Well, I didn't exactly want to talk to some upstart from the New York Times either. At that time, I would have gladly traded my Purple Heart to get my leg back again. Kinda put a damper on my dancing career," Alex jokes, though it is obvious that it is still a painful subject.
"We were both surprised."
"But your articles, on Alex and other Delta War heroes, were so moving," Trini says. "I wasn't surprised in the slightest when you won the Pulitzer Prize for literature."
"I know it is coming way after the event, but congratulations," Bill says. "Unfortunately, I didn't get to read your articles until about a year ago. That's when I came back to Earth from Aquitar."
A fit of giggles from the corner interrupts their conversation. Adam peers around the sofa and makes a gesture. A little boy in footed pajamas tears into the livingroom towards his father. Adam scoops up Andrew and sets the boy on his lap.
"Andrew, you are supposed to be asleep," Alex says.
"But I'm not sleepy, Mommy," Andrew answers.
"Trini, Bill, this is our son, Andrew," Adam begins. "Andy, this is Professor William Mitchell and his wife Dr. Trini Kwan."
Andy smiles and then buries his face in Adam's chest shyly.
"So this is the miracle child," Trini says, leaning over to stroke Andy's hair. "I kept the clippings from the New York Timesthe first Earthian child conceived and delivered in space. Quite an accomplishment. I've delivered hundreds of babies since I became a doctor, but I would have given anything to have the privledge to deliver the first child in space."
"Would you like to see the second child conceived and delivered in space?" Alex asks proudly.
"Yes," Trini says enthusiastically, jumping to her feet.
The women leave the room.
"Andy, Professor Mitchell is going to be your new teacher. Isn't that exciting?" Adam asks.
Andy nods his head without removing it from Adam's chest.
"You know what else? He tells great Power Ranger stories," Adam continues.
This grabs Andy's attention. "Really?" he says, looking at Bill with big brown eyes.
"I know a couple," Bill answers, with a knowing wink to Adam. "You'll have some more classmates soon too. My children are coming here next month."
"Do your children look like me too?" Andy says.
The precocious child strikes Billy off guard. "Not exactly. Trini isn't their mother. They are half Earthian and half Aquitian."
"That's okay," Andy answers confidently. "Mommy says that what makes us extra special."
"Your mom is a smart lady," Bill answers, hoping that everyone else had this child's outlook. Biracial children were one thing. Bispecies children were quite a different story.
"Cestria is letting you take the children?" Adam asks in a hushed tone, not wanting Trini to overhear.
"Our split was an amiacable one. I won't say that it wasn't my fault, but I couldn't help it. I ran into Trini about three years ago, when we were both doing some consulting work on the Sagitarius Space Station. One minute we were discussing solar pannels and the next minute we ended up...." Bill notices Andy looking at him intensely. "Uh, we had an intimate discussion in my quarters."
"I can understand," Adam says, stifiling a laugh. "Trini is still as beautiful as she always was. She hasn't aged a bit."
"Ah, here she is!" Trini says in a controlled squeal.
The pair lean over the side of the crib. Alex pulls down the blanket some to reveal a cherub-like, one year old girl with a shock of black wavy hair. Trini brushes the baby's cheek with her thumb. The baby opens her big brown eyes for a moment to look at the stranger and then immediately falls back asleep.
"I think Damiana has been busy today. She's all tuckered out," Alex says.
Trini gives Alex a confused look.
"Trini," Alex asks softly. "During all your research on psi-powers, did you ever find a genetic link?"
"Why?" Trini asks.
"I swear I think Damiana is moving things. This morning I found Andy and Damiana playing with Andy's space ship. I didn't want her playing with it because it has so many tiny parts. I was afraid she'd swallow them. So I made Andy take it away. That afternoon I found it in her crib with her."
"Maybe Andy was trying to be nice, even if he was being disobedient."
"But Andy wasn't here. He left after lunch with Adam to help renovate your clinic. They didn't return until dinnertime."
"Have you told Adam?"
"No, I'm kind of afraid to."
"It's bad enough that his wife's a freak of nature. I'm sure he wouldn't want his daughter to be one too."
"People here know you're psi?"
"No, just the very head honchoes. That's how you got this job, I think. Did you tell them I was psi?"
"No, but I didn't lie and say you weren't," Trini says apologetically and then confesses, "I spilled the beans. They know I was a Power Ranger."
"Me too. I couldn't explain how I knew so much about flying otherwise. Of course they didn't believe me, but my test scores were so high, they had to wonder."
"Do they know about Adam too?"
"Yes, what about Bill?"
"I was wondering why they would hire a Ph.D. in astrophysics to teach elementary school," Alex says.
"We're back to alter-personalities. Mild mannered school teacher by day and crime fighter by night," Trini jokes.
"Crime fighter?" Alex says.
"Alex, did they tell you the real reason we're all here?"
"Sorta. I know they want to begin beefing up security. The Centari have been 'colonizing' planets aggressively over the last ten years and they're headed this way. But at their current rate of speed, they won't reach the Milky Way for another 10 years," Alex answers.
"Before we came," Trini says softly. "Bill and I went to Eltar to seek advice from Zordon. He gave us these."
Trini unscrews the casing off her watch, which surprisingly resembles their old communicators. She tips out two disks, resembling watch batteries.
"These are the plans for new Zords," Trini whispers.
"ZORDS! zords?!?!" Alex says loudly and then softly. "We're going to be reinlisted?"
"No," Trini answers in a combination of relief and disappointment. "Zordon has seen into the future. The Centari are coming. With the Earth Rangers gone and the Power Chamber in total disrepair, Zordon cannot help us. We must build the Zords from scratch and the four of us have the know-how to do it."
"But who's going to pilot them?" Alex asks.
"He wouldn't tell me, but he did say that the Gemini Rangers already exist, though they won't receive their call for another 10 years," Trini says, putting her watch back together. "Alex, two of the Zords are modified for telepathic links."
Alex gasps. She glances into the crib and then out the door at Andy who has fallen asleep in Adam's lap.
"Could they....?" Alex thinks.