"That is the scared Stone of Benghait," he had said.
"I thought so," Myagi's father had answered.
"What's the Stone of Benghait?" Myagi had asked,since he and his sister had not yet learned the ancient legend that his people had passed down for generations.
"The Stone of Benghait is the most powerful force known to us," the historian had begun. "Its powers can only be used for good, and they will defeat any evil within quite a broad range."
"But there's no evil around here, so it's no good," Myagi had said, disappointed.
"That's not true," the historian had said. Kakana and Myagi's father had glared at the historian, who ignored it and continued. "There is evil. Close to the village in fact." Myagi and Kakana had looked back up at the historian's wrinkled, old face with sparks in his eyes.
"There is?" Kakana had asked, growing more and more excited. The historian had nodded.
"Yes, and it is coming our way," he had said. "The only way to defeat them is by using The Stone."
"We're going to have to find someone who can handle the responsibilities," his father had broken in.
"But father, we can handle the responsibilities," Myagi had protested. His father had looked doubtful, and rightfully so. Myagi and Kakana were only seventeen years old, barely adults by his culture's standards.
"I am afraid that there is no time to find two other more worthy recipients of The Stone's powers, though I doubt we could find such people," the historian had said. "Your son is brave, noble and true. He has the heart of a warrior, and the training." Which was true; Myagi had been taking Mokora lessons since he had been 5 years old, and he now held a blue shana. "Kakana is agile, strong and fearless. These qualities will serve her well."
"All right," his father had consented after a moment. "But only until we can find someone older, more experienced."
"Thank you," the historian had said, bowing. Then he turned to Myagi and Kakana. "Myagi, Kakana, you must both find a strip of cloth long enough to go around your heads several times. Hurry!" Confused, Myagi and Kakana had turned and run back to their appropriate huts where they knew they had what the historian had asked.
Rummaging through a box, Myagi found a long strip of blue cloth; his blue shana, the last level before the illustrious amber shana level.
He emerged from his hut at the same time as Kakana. She too had her blue shana in her hand. Quickly, they ran back to the historian's hut with their shanas in hand.
They arrived at the hut in record time, barely breathing hard. The historian, who had held the stone while Myagi and Kakana were gone, told the two siblings to go out back and wait for him there with their father. The three did, while the historian stayed in the hut for few minutes.
When he came out, he was dressed in a long, dark purple robe that went over a pair of black, loose-fitting pants with a matching jacket; the dress of a master in the art of Mokora. Also, the ceremonial dress when presenting the Stone of Benghait to new recipients though the garments hadn't been used for such a ceremony in many years. Myagi and Kakana were standing casually, if somewhat nervously, on the grass, but when they saw the historian emerge in the ceremonial garbs, they immediately brought their feet together, and bowed low at the waist. Their father echoed their movements. The historian brought the two siblings forward, and they stood upright. Their shanas were taken from them by the historian, who laid them over his arm. He had brought with him from the hut a tray covered by a square piece of black cloth with a bright yellow lightening bolt in the middle, and four quarter-moons stitched on the corners in the same bright yellow thread. Everyone recognized this as their national flag, something that carried great honour, respect and tradition.
The historian walked over and stood in front of Myagi and Kakana. He motioned for the both of them to place their hands on either side of the stone, which was shaped like a circle. However, when both Myagi and Kakana had placed their hands on the Stone, it broke into two parts. There were identical in shape; both were now half-circles. The historian took Myagi's shana from across his arm, placed Myagi's half of the stone against Myagi's forehead, then proceeded to hold it in place with the shana. The historian did the same to Kakana. The historian passed his hand over Myagi and Kakana's eyes, and they closed but the two remained upright. The historian started chanting in their native language, and he and the father also closed their eyes.
When the historian was done, he and the father opened their eyes and beheld a breathtaking sight. Myagi and Kakana's foreheads were glowing with a black energy that showed even through the thick cloth of the shanas. Suddenly, the shanas went limp and hung from Myagi and Kakana's necks. Nobody moved as the siblings were engulfed in a black energy similar to the one that had been seen on their foreheads a moment ago. Myagi and Kakana arched their backs and spread their arms wide as they were filled with a power that they had never imagined could possibly exist.
"Will they be alright?" their father had asked anxiously.
"They will," the historian had replied simply, neither one taking his eyes from the siblings, who were now dressed in loose black pants and the matching jacket that looked almost identical to their Mokora clothing. The only differences were that the suit was now more form-fitting. Also the two wore black gloves with gold trim, gloves that were made of a material totally unknown to them. They each had a golden belt around their waist, along with a holster and a laser-pistol. On their feet, they wore boots made of the same protective material as their gloves, with the same gold trim. On their heads and covering their faces, they wore cloth masks that were impossible to tear or rip by any conventional means. The only thing that differentiated Myagi from Kakana was the shape of their bodies, their powers, and their weapons, the latter of which had yet to be revealed to them.
"This is incredible," Kakana had breathed, holding her hands out in front of her. She removed her mask and held it in her hands, examining it. It had slits for the eyes so she could see, and the material didn't restrict her vision it in the slightest.
"I agree," Myagi had said, nodding his agreement as he flexed his hands.
"You now both have possession of the power of the Stone of Benghait. Use it well, and only for good or it shall be lost forever," the historian had said, approaching the two. "Now, you must go and use your powers to defeat The Evil that is threatening to take over our village."
"We will go and defeat The Evil, then return victorious," Myagi had promised, crossing his arms over his chest and bowing low at the waist, the traditional symbol of respect towards one's elders.
Now, as he and Kakana ran through the forest, Myagi wished that he could have kept his promise.
"What are we going to do, Myagi?" Kakana asked as she ran alongside her brother.
"We must stop running and fight instead of behaving like cowards," Myagi answered. "We were given this power to defend our people, not abandon them."
"You're right," Kakana agreed. "Let's do it."
With that, they both turned to face the hoard of evil creatures that had been chasing them.
Kakana let out a small cry and, after brandishing her sword, started running at the evil creatures. She slashed off one's head as it ran towards her, intending to meet her halfway. The body did, and the head came rolling soon after, leaving a trail of dark red blood behind it. Kakana and another minion clashed swords , and then they were surrounded by the others.
Myagi, who had always preferred hand-to-hand combat, didn't bother bringing out his weapon as he got a running start, then leapt into the air and flew towards the evil creatures, doing a deadly side kick. The one he had been aiming for fell to the ground with a dull thud while Myagi rebounded, then landed gracefully on his feet a few feet away with his back to the creatures. That proved to be his mistake, for he was grabbed from behind and held fast, unable to move, barely able to breathe.
"Kakana!" he shouted, then immediately regretted it for his cry caused his sister to hesitate. She was promptly captured, and the two were dragged to the evil headquarters.
"Myagi, we can't let the Stone fall into their hands," Kakana shouted.
"You're right, Kakana," Myagi agreed. "We've got to send it someplace where it'll be safe until we can retrieve it."
"There's a planet that supports life it in the next galaxy," Kakana said. "We could send it there until we're free."
"Good idea. Let's do it," Myagi said. He and Kakana closed their eyes, and concentrated as hard as they could considering they were being dragged against their will to what was probably going to be their doom. Their foreheads started to glow with an eerie black energy that made the evil creatures drop the siblings and back away.
"What's happening?" one of them asked. None of the others responded as the energy reached intolerable proportions to anybody's eyes, and the minions were forced to look away.
When they looked back, they looked first to the ground where Myagi and Kakana were laying, motionless but breathing steadily. Then they looked towards the sky.
"Up there!" another one called, pointing. The others followed his gaze, and saw two small, black bubbles floating up into the atmosphere, then disappear.
"What do we do with them now?" the first one asked, nudging Kakana with her toe.
"I guess we take them back to the boss," a third one answered. The first one shrugged her shoulders, then bent down and lifted Myagi over her shoulder while the second one did the same for Kakana. Then the convoy kept going to headquarters.
The bubbles, which contained the Stones of Benghait, floated harmlessly through space, past many different stars until they came upon the next galaxy. There, they sailed to the third planet from the main gas giant on the solar system. They floated down into the atmosphere, down over a city, then fell to rest upon a balcony on a building that overlooked a small park. There they laid at rest until...
Rocky DeSantos awoke to the sound of his sister rummaging around it in the kitchen it in the apartment they shared. Rocky rolled over and looked at the clock. 11:45, it read. Man, I must have been exhausted, Rocky thought to himself as he swung his legs over the side of his bed and yawned. He had a shower, got dressed and went to join his sister.
"Hey there, Mr. Van Winkle," Kris teased as Rocky came into the kitchen where she was sitting, eating a plate of scrambled eggs with ketchup and reading a book at the same time.
"Mornin' Kris," he replied, moving over to the fridge. He took out the container of orange juice and closed the fridge, then poured himself a glass and replaced the juice.
"Kind of a light breakfast," Kris observed. "Are you feeling OK?"
"I'm fine, I'm just warming up," Rocky joked, emptying the glass it in one gulp. Kris chuckled.
"I can see." She paused to chew and swallow another mouthful of eggs. "Hey, we were supposed to meet the others at the Beach Club today, right?"
"Yep," Rocky replied, stealing some of Kris's eggs.
"And exactly what time are we supposed to meet the others at the Beach Club?" Kris asked, checking the watch she always wore on her left wrist with a slightly worried expression on her face.
"I don't know, why?" Rocky asked.
"Um, it wouldn't have been noon, would it?" Kris said hesitantly.
"That sounds about right."
"Then we're going to be so late."
"What are you talking about? We've got plenty of time," Rocky scoffed. Kris held her watch up to where Rocky could see it, and his eyes widened.
"Oh boy! We're going to be late! We'd better get moving!" he exclaimed, jumping up from his chair with Kris mimicking the movement.
"I'm not even changed yet!" she cried, sprinting into her bedroom; Rocky did the same.
Less than five minutes later, they both emerged, and broke almost into a dead run for the doorway. Rocky opened the door, and started down the hall while Kris locked the door then started after him.
They managed to catch the elevator and then, when it reached the parking garage, the siblings sprinted for Kris's car, which was parked close to the exit/entrance. Kris unlocked the car, jumped into the drivers' seat and started the engine while Rocky climbed it in, did up his seat belt and held on while Kris fairly screeched out of the garage.
"It's a wonder you got your licence," Rocky teased as Kris practically careened around a corner it in the road.
"It's a wonder you managed to get anywhere on time," Kris retorted good-naturedly. Rocky groaned.
"'Nuf said, I think," he said with a grin.
Kris drove down to the Beach Club it in record time, then she and Rocky jumped out, locked the car and sprinted all the way to where their friends were waiting for them.
"Hi guys," Kris said as she and Rocky skidded to a halt it in the sand, then plopped down on some chairs.
"We thought you guys weren't coming," Kat Hillard commented.
"Blame the time-keeper over there," Rocky said, gesturing at Kris with one of Tanya's French fries. Kris scowled at him.
"Oh sure, Mister I-Got-Up-At-Eleven-Forty-Five," she retorted.
"Hey guys? Maybe we should move to a less touchy subject, such as volleyball?" Tanya Sloan suggested suddenly.
"Good idea," Jason Scott agreed.
The seven moved out onto the sand, and since Tommy Oliver had conveniently brought a volleyball with him for just such an emergency, they had no problem getting a game organized.
With Adam Park, Kat and Kris on one team, and Rocky, Jason and Tanya on the other team and Tommy Oliver as a spare/ref, they quickly got going.
"Come on, do your worst!" Kris shouted over to Rocky, who was serving.
"Heads up!" he replied. With that, he tossed the ball up and smacked it as hard as he could towards Kris. Kris, who had been ready for it, bent her knees a little more and bumped the ball straight up into the air, then dove out of the way so that Kat could volley it, and Adam ended up spiking it across the court. Rocky dove for it, but missed and fell into the sand while Jason tried to get the ball, but couldn't get a start it in the sand, fell, and the ball landed softly it in the sand next to Rocky's head with a quiet thud. Kris laughed and high-fived Adam and Kat, then went over to her brother and knelt beside him.
"Want some help?" she offered, grinning and extending her hand. Rocky reached for her hand, but pulled her to the sand next to him instead. Kris landed on his back with her upper torso, then rolled off him; both of them were laughing. Kris flung sand onto Rocky's back, then moved away as he picked up a handful of sand and tossed it at her lightly.
"Man, this is definitely the life," Tommy said, watching Kris and Rocky help each other up from the sand, for real this time.
"I'll say," Adam agreed. "Things have been quiet for the last week, weather's great..."
"Don't say it," Tanya cautioned, interrupting him. Both guys turned to her, confused.
"Say what?" Tommy asked.
"Weren't you going to say, "what could go wrong"?" Tanya questioned.
"No," Adam replied.
"Good. I don't want to jinx this luck," Tanya said with a small sigh. The others laughed at her as Rocky and Kris came over to them, covered it in sand. They started brushing themselves off, and succeeded in throwing sand at the others it in the process.
"You know, I think they should both get cleaned up," Tommy said, glancing at the ocean with a mischievious twinkle it in his brown eyes. Rocky and Kris looked at him, then started backing up.
"You're right. It would be a shame if Kris's car got all sandy," Tanya agreed.
"Come on guys, we're sorry," Kris said, holding her hands out it in front of her. Tommy, Jason, Adam, Tanya and Kat advanced on them, grinning.
"Guys!" Rocky called, still going backwards.
"Run for it!" Kris cried, taking off. However, she only made it a few feet when she was grabbed from behind by Kat and Jason while Rocky was grabbed by Tommy, Tanya and Adam.
"Come on guys, let's toss 'em in!" Kat called to the others as she and Jason started pulling Kris towards the surf.
Kris tried to dig her bare heels into the sand, but she only succeeded it in skinning them. Rocky tried to do the same, but came up with the same results. The two were dragged until they were ankle-deep it in salt water.
"Hey now!" Kris cried. "Lemme go!"
"Grab their feet!" Tommy hollered, his grin widening as he reached down and brought Rocky's feet up from under him while Kat did the same to Kris.
"I'll make it worth your while to put me down," Kris said, desperately trying to get Kat and Jason to let her go before she hit the salt water.
"On the count of three," Adam said, standing aside. "One...two...three!"
At the count of three, Kris and Rocky were released and thrown into the waves. They came up, coughing and sputtering, Kris with her hair plastered all over her neck, face and back. She and Rocky found ground, and saw their friends laughing at them from the seemingly-safe beach.
"Shall we?" Kris asked, gesturing with her head towards the others. Rocky took it in the evil glint it in her green eyes, and returned her grin with one of his own.
"Let's," he agreed. The two took off at as much of a run as they could accomplish. Tommy and the others had seen them coming, but hadn't thought that the siblings would be coming to get revenge. They found that out too late.
"Uh oh!" Adam cried, starting up the beach, but Rocky was too fast and grabbed his best friend, then dragged him out into the water and dunked him briefly, then headed up after the others.
Kris had latched herself onto Tanya, and was dragging the slightly taller but more slender girl towards the surf. Tommy came over and gave Tanya a playful push that sent both Tanya and Kris crashing into the rolling waves.
The girls surfaced, but the only person the water had made an impact on had been Tanya since Kris had already been dunked and was still soaking wet.
"I think we need to teach him a lesson," Tanya commented, glaring at Tommy, who was still relatively dry. Wordlessly, Kris followed Tanya up onto the beach and after Tommy, who looked like a deer caught it in the headlights of a mack truck. Tanya and Kris grabbed each of Tommy's arms, then hauled him over to the water where he was promptly dunked.
"Nice job, partner," Kris said, shaking hands with Tanya. Then they split up and went after Jason and Kat, the only two who were still dry.
Rocky grabbed Jason as he ran by, and Tommy helped Rocky drag the reluctant Jason to the waves where he met his fate bravely.
Adam and Tanya went after Kat while Kris stepped back and reflected on the events that had just happened. Sure is nice to have friends, she thought, wringing out her hair. Friends and my long-lost brother. Somebody upstairs sure must like me.
Eventually, all seven teens got out of the water and dried off by continuing their game of volleyball. They all tried not to have to dive for the ball since they were still damp, and the sand would stick, but Rocky just couldn't help it and he went after a low one. Kris winced as she saw sand spray up everywhere, and knew that her brother was going to be coated with the stuff for a while to come.
"All right, Rocky!" she shouted from the sidelines, having given up her spot to Tommy, as Rocky hit the ball high enough for Adam to hit it over and score a point. She ran over to Rocky once he had picked himself up and high-fived him, for he had just helped to win the game.
"Traitor," Adam joked.
"Sore winner," Kris joked back.
"I don't know about you guys, but I'm hungry," Rocky commented. "And I also know that I'm not rich enough to spend more money on take-out."
"You mean...you're going to...dare I say it? Cook?!" Kris asked dramatically. "Alas, poor stomach, I knew you well." That sent the others virtually into hysterics, and Kris bowed. "And I never took an acting lesson it in my life, either."
"No, she's always been like this," Rocky added.
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"As it was intended."
"Sure. Anyway, he does have a point. It is getting kind of late," Kris continued. "And it's been a while since breakfast."
"Yeah, you're right. We'll see you guys tomorrow at school, OK?" Tommy said.
"Yeah sure," Rocky replied. He and Kris said their goodbyes, then walked off towards the parking lot.
"You're not getting into my car like that," Kris said when Rocky reached for the door handle.
"I can't walk home," Rocky protested.
"Well..." Kris pretended to think it over. "OK, but try not to move until we get home, OK?"
"The way you drive, it'd be hard not to," Rocky retorted with a smile.
"I'm reconsidering driving you," Kris warned good-naturedly, a smile appearing on her face. Rocky proceeded to shut up and got into the car, as did Kris. Then she started the ignition and drove towards their apartment complex.
~*~There, they headed up to their apartment, and received strange looks from the other residents because of their appearance. Rocky was covered it in sand from head to toe and his clothes were still slightly damp; it was much the same for Kris, except she was relatively clean with her brownish-blonde hair sticking out every which way it pleased.
It in their apartment, Kris made a beeline for the shower. She washed the sand and salt out of her hair and from every nook and cranny of her body, then stepped out and got dressed it in a pair of clean blue jeans and a white tank top.
"It's all yours," she called, going into the living room. Rocky moved off of the balcony and went to shower.
Suddenly, the phone rang and Kris moved over to the table beside the couch to pick it up.
"Hello," she said.
"Hi, Kris? It's Tanya," came the reply.
"Hi Tanya," Kris said.
"Um, are we still on for later?" Tanya asked.
"Oh gosh, I completely forgot!" Kris exclaimed.
"If you're busy, we can do this another time."
"No, I really should start to catch up, or I'll always be behind," Kris answered. She thought for a minute. "Tanya? Do you think you and the others could come by around four? That'll give Rocky enough time to get out of the shower. I think."
Tanya laughed on the other end. "Sure Kris. See you at four."
Kris replaced the phone and turned around to survey the apartment. She sighed as she looked at the trail of sand he left behind. She got a broom out of the closet and started sweeping the sand towards the balcony. Good thing we don't have a carpet, she thought as she brushed the sand outside.
On the balcony, Kris sent the sand over the edge after making sure that there was no one underneath. She was sweeping up the rest of the balcony when she noticed two small, round, black globes it in one corner of the balcony. She put down the broom and knelt down beside the globes.
"Weird," she murmured to herself, examining the globes optically.
"Kris?" she heard Rocky call.
"Out here," she called back to her brother, not taking her eyes from the globes. Rocky came out onto the balcony, clean and dressed it in blue jeans a dark blue T-shirt.
"Hey, what are those?" he asked, kneeling down beside Kris.
"I don't know," she answered. "I found them out here when I was sweeping the sand off the balcony."
"I wonder what they are," Rocky said as he reached for one. The second he touched it, his eyes rolled into his head and he fell, unconscious, on the balcony.
"Rocky?" Kris asked, alarmed, trying to tear her brother's hand from the globe. Kris, in trying to free Rocky from the globe, accidentally hit the other globe with her left hand. Darkness was the next thing she knew.
Tanya, Kat, Adam, Tommy and Jason were standing outside Kris and Rocky's apartment. Kris had asked them to help her catch up with some of the things she had missed during the first term of school when she had been looking for her brother.
Tanya raised her hand and knocked three times on the door. The five waited for an answer, but none came. Tanya tried again, but got the same response.
"I wonder where they are," Kat said softly.
"Are you sure you gave them the right time? Rocky might still be in the shower or something," Adam commented from the back of the group.
"I could have sworn I told Kris we'd come by at around four when I talked to her earlier," Tanya said.
"Do you think something could have happened to them?" Kat wondered. The possibility had been at the back of everyone's minds, but no one had dared to bring it out into the open. Tommy moved forward and rapped loudly on the door, but there was no answer from within.
Adam moved up to the door now and, after making sure that there was no one else it in the corridor, removed the two bottom screws from the 2 on the apartment door. A small, golden key fell into his palm. Adam slipped it into the lock, unlocked the door then replaced the key and the screws. He turned the doorknob and the door opened without any resistance. A clean, tidy apartment greeted the five of them as they entered and closed the door behind them.
"Rocky?" Adam called hesitantly as the others moved about it in the small apartment.
"Hey guys, over here!" Tommy called as he hurried out onto the balcony. The others came quickly at him call.
"What happened to them?" Tanya asked as she knelt down beside Kris's still figure.
Jason took Kris's wrist and felt for a pulse. It was a great relief to him to find one.
"They're alive," he reported, doing the same to Rocky.
"We'd better get them to the hospital," Tommy said. Kat stopped him just before he tried to move Rocky.
"Wait, we shouldn't move them until we know what happened," she said. Tommy retracted his arm.
"I'll go call and ambulance," Tanya said, getting up and hurrying into the living room and over to the phone.
"They're so still," Kat whispered, looking down at the brother and sister who lay, side-by-side, unconscious.
"What could have happened? We were talking with them only a few hours ago," Adam said quietly, almost as if he was afraid of disturbing Kris and Rocky.
"Whatever it was, we'll figure it out," Tommy vowed. Tanya came back onto the balcony then.
"They're sending an ambulance over right away. They'll need someone to be waiting to show them the way up," she told them. "Any volunteers?"
"I'll go down," Tommy offered.
"Same here," Kat added. They got up and left the apartment without another word to anyone. That left Tanya, Adam and Jason to stay with the unconscious bodies of Kris and Rocky.
They heard sirens it in the distance a few minutes later that became louder as the ambulance approached. Though no one said anything aloud, they were all praying for their friends' health and safety.
Adam looked over the railing on the balcony as the ambulance pulled into the circular driveway and shut off its sirens. Then he moved back over to Rocky's side. Hang it in there, he thought, looking down at his friend's face.
~*~Downstairs, Kat and Tommy held the door open while four paramedics rushed inside with two stretchers between them, then followed the medics inside and into an elevator. Tommy pushed the button for the twelfth floor. The elevator carried them upwards.
"What exactly are we dealing with here?" one of the medics asked.
"We don't really know," Kat admitted.
"We found our friends on their balcony, unconscious," Tommy provided.
"Any signs of a struggle? Any marks on them?"
"We didn't really look for anything like that," Tommy replied. The elevator doors opened and Kat and Tommy let the medics go first, then followed them to Rocky and Kris's apartment.
Outside of 1221, Tommy opened the door, then held it open so the paramedics could take the stretchers through to the balcony. Adam, Jason and Tanya cleared the way so the medics could do their job. Quickly, they got to work, checking for a pulse, checking blood pressure and so forth. One of them placed a stiff board beneath Rocky while another medic almost rolled Rocky onto it. Then the two men lifted Rocky and placed him gently onto the stretcher. A male and a female medic did the same for Kris. Then the brother and sister were hurried out of the apartment with their friends behind them.
Since there were multiple victims, none of the teens were allowed to ride it in the ambulance, so they all piled into Tommy's jeep. Tommy followed the ambulance the whole way to the hospital, not letting it out of his sight.
The ambulance stopped outside of the emergency entrance. Tommy parked his jeep, then he and the others got out and ran into the hospital.
"Where did they go?" Kat asked as she and the others scanned the area.
"I thought they were brought it in here," Adam said. Tanya walked over to the mouth of the corridor.
"There they are!" she called as she started to jog down the hallway to where Rocky and Kris's beds had been left. The others followed her, but were quickly stopped by a nurse it in a white coat.
"Excuse me, but we have to see our friends," Kat said, trying to get past the nurse.
"I'm sorry, but you're not allowed down here," the nurse replied.
"What's going to happen to them?" Jason asked.
"You're friends of the two teenagers that just came it in?" the nurse asked. Everybody nodded. "Don't worry. Doctor Travers and Doctor Bartlett are with them now. They're taking your friends down to X-ray to see if there's any internal damage. You have nothing to worry about. Doctor Travers and Doctor Bartlett are two of our best doctors. Your friends are it in good hands." With that, the nurse walked away to tend to her other duties. The five teens also walked away and sank down into some chairs it in the waiting room.
"I hope it's nothing serious," Kat said suddenly.
"Just think positively," Tommy advised. "They'll be OK." I hope, he added silently.
The teens waited for several hours before a pair of doctors, one male and one female, came down the corridor that they had tried to go down before.
T ommy got up from his seat beside Kat and went over to them.
"Excuse me, Doctor Travers?" he asked hesitantly. The male doctor looked over at him.
"Were you two the ones who were treating our friends?"
"Oh, you mean the two that came it in here earlier today unconscious?" Doctor Bartlett said.
"Yes, that's them. How are they?" Tommy asked. Doctor Bartlett and Doctor Travers walked over to where the other four teens were sitting with Tommy behind them.
"Well?" Adam asked anxiously, wringing his hands together.
"Your friends, I'm happy to report, are going to make a complete recovery," Doctor Bartlett announced. Everybody grinned and smiled and there were sighs of relief from the teens who hadn't consciously been holding their breath.
"What was wrong with them?" Jason asked. The doctors exchanged glances.
"We ran some tests, did X-rays, but we could find nothing physically wrong with either of them," Doctor Travers admitted.
"How is that possible? There had to be something that indicated what had happened," Tanya argued.
"We couldn't find anything," Doctor Bartlett disagreed.
"Can we see them?" Tommy asked.
"I think that would be acceptable," Doctor Travers said. "But not for long. They need their rest."
"Thank you," Kat said as she and the others filed down the hall to Rocky and Kris's room.
Inside, it was brightly lit. The only sound was that of the heart monitors that were steadily beeping. Rocky was it in the bed closest to the door; Kris closest to the sole window. Neither of them appeared to be awake. Adam moved over to Rocky's bed and gently placed a hand on the blanket, as if afraid to touch Rocky for fear of hurting him. At the subtle movement, Rocky groaned and stirred.
"Rocky?" Adam asked.
"My head," Rocky muttered groggily, opening his eyes. "Adam?"
"Yeah, it's me," Adam said, grinning with relief. "The others are here too."
"How are you feeling, Rocky?" Kat asked, coming to stand beside Adam.
"I'll tell you once the native stops using my head as a drum," came the moaned reply. Just then, Kris let out a grunt from the other bed.
"What am I, meat loaf?" she complained groggily. The comment brought smiles to everyone's face, especially Rocky's.
"How goes, sis?" he asked, canting his head to one side to look at her.
"Ask me when my skull isn't the main instrument it in the 1812 Overture," she replied, grimacing as the light hit her sensitive eyes. "And you?"
"'Bout the same."
"What happened to you guys? When we found you, you were out cold," Jason said.
"How did you find us?" Kris asked.
"We were coming over to help you catch up, remember?" Tanya supplied gently.
"Oh yeah, I'd forgotten," Kris replied. "Well, I guess Math can wait."
"How'd you guys get it in? The door was locked," Rocky commented from the other bed.
"Number Two has the loose screw," Adam said, reciting the mnemonic phrase he and Rocky had come up with when Rocky had first bought his apartment.
"Good memory," Rocky said. "I'd forgotten the thing was still there."
"So, what happened?" Kat prodded.
"Well, you all remember how sandy Rocky was when we left, right?" Kris asked. The others nodded. "When we got home, Rocky went for a shower and I got stuck with cleaning the beach out of the living room.
"I was sweeping the sand off the balcony when I noticed these two round, black globes it in a corner. I put the broom down and knelt beside them. When Rocky came out of the shower, he came to kneel beside me and he touched one of the globes."
"I don't know what those things were but man, did they pack a wallop!" Rocky exclaimed.
"That's one way of putting it. When Rocky touched a globe, it zapped him and knocked him out. I tried to make him let go of the globe, but it wouldn't budge. I guess when I was trying to free Rocky, I must have hit the other globe with my foot or something because the next thing I can remember is waking up here," Kris finished.
"But when we were on your balcony, we didn't see anything like the globes you described," Jason said, frowning.
"Maybe they fell?" Kris suggested.
"It's possible," Tommy said. Just then, Rocky yawned.
"Maybe we should go," Tanya said reluctantly. "You guys need your rest."
"OK," Kris said just as reluctantly. "Come back soon now, ya hear?" The others smiled.
"We'll be back soon," Adam promised. He and the others left the room and closed the door behind them.
"We're lucky they found us," Kris commented to her brother, but she got no response for he was already asleep. Come to think of it, I'm kinda bushed myself, she thought. Maybe just a short nap...
~*~When Kris awoke, she felt perfectly fine. She got out of bed and wandered out the door. She came face-to-face with a clearing that was obviously it in a heavily wooded area, or a jungle. However, she felt no surprise. Kris wandered away from the "hospital" and let her feet take her to a hut that was directly beside hers. Without even bothering to knock on the door, she went inside and found Rocky, sitting up it in a bed.
"Hi," she said cheerily, moving over to him. "How do you feel?"
"Great, thanks. And you?" he replied.
"Never better," Kris answered truthfully. "Come on, I'll bet dad's waiting to see us." Kris and Rocky left the small hut and made their way without any hesitation towards another hut, this one larger than the first two, and went inside, again without knocking.
"Father?" Kris called. A tall man looked up from his place at the desk he was sitting at, obviously writing something.
"My children, you're home," he said, getting up and moving quickly over to hug the siblings. Then he stood back and examined the two. "What happened? You're not yourselves."
"We can explain," Rocky said
"What...what happened to you two? Everybody thought you had been killed by The Evil," their father commented.
"We were captured, but we managed to send our powers to a planet called Earth," Kris explained.
"Our powers were discovered by the two humans whose bodies we are now inside," Rocky continued. "These humans are not like the rest of their race. They possess a great power and are a part of a team that fights evil. On Earth, their team and its members are known as the Zeo Power Rangers."
"Zeo Power Rangers?" their father said, confused.
"Yes. This human is not one of them, but is the sister of one of the Zeo Rangers," Kris said. "Though she has no extra powers, this human is bright, a quick-thinker and agile."
"And this human whose form now stands before you is a Zeo Ranger. He is not incredibly intelligent, but his loyalties lay with his friends, and he would do anything to protect them and his sister," Rocky added.
"What about your bodies? Are they lost forever?" their father asked, worried. Rocky and Kris exchanged glances.
"We do not know quite yet, but I do not believe so," Kris said finally.
"Kakana, that's wonderful news!" their father exclaimed. "How do we get you back into your bodies?"
"I believe we must first retrieve our bodies from The Evil. Then everything will happen naturally," Rocky answered. "But getting through The Evil's defense forces will not be easy. So, Kakana and I will bring back some help."
"Who will you bring?" their father asked.
"We will bring the Zeo Rangers."
~*~Kris sat bolt upright it in bed with a gasp. Beside her and at the exact same instant, Rocky did the same. They looked at each other across the hospital room.
"You too?" Kris asked. Rocky nodded.
"That was one weird dream. What do you think it means?" he asked. Kris replayed the dream it in her mind.
"Rocky, if it means what I think it means, then we're not alone," she whispered.
"Kris, what are you taking about?" Rocky demanded, a little more harshly than he would have liked. Kris didn't even flinch.
"Remember those globes on the balcony?" she asked. Rocky nodded. "They must have held Kakana and Myagi's powers. When we touched them, we were probably infused with those powers."
"Which means...?" Rocky prodded.
"Which means that we've got to go help Myagi and Kakana's father get their bodies back from The Evil, or Kakana's consciousness will be stuck it in my body forever..."
"And Myagi's will be in mine," Rocky finished. The two stared at each other. "We've got to tell Zordon and the others about this right away." Rocky raised his arm up to his face and pressed a button.
"Tommy, Kris and I need you and the others to get back to the hospital pronto. We've got something big happening over here," Rocky reported.
"Rocky, is everything alright?" Tommy asked, sounding worried.
"Oh, Kris and I are fine. But there's a couple of other people who won't be soon." With that, Rocky cut the communications link, then settled it in to wait. It didn't take long. A few minutes later, the other teens had reassembled it in the hospital room.
"What's going on?" Jason asked.
"You guys, we have a bit of a problem," Rocky said. Quickly, he and Kris described their vision to the others.
"You all may think it was a dream, but that's because it didn't happen to you," Kris finished. "Rocky and I feel that this may actually be true; that we were infused with a power from another planet and that someone on that planet needs our help."
"Why are you putting so much faith into a dream?" Tanya asked, skeptical.
"Because I can feel something at the back of my brain, like a caged animal waiting to be let loose. I can feel something...somebody in here with me," Kris replied, tapping the side of her head with a finger.
"Let's say for a minuter that all of what you've told us is true. Even so, how are we going to get to this mysterious planet without knowing where it is?" Tommy said.
"We know where it is," Rocky said firmly. "We could give you the coordinates if you gave us access to a star chart." Rocky's brow creased at his words. That wasn't his regular speech pattern. It's gotta be influencing me more than I thought, he decided. He wondered if Kris felt the same.
"I'll bet Zordon, Alpha and Billy have everything that Kris and Rocky need to find the planet," Adam said, snapping his fingers as the idea came to him. The others nodded.
"Let's go," Rocky said, getting off of the bed. Kris did the same, although a bit more slowly than Rocky.
"Are you OK?" Jason asked, being the closest one to her. Kris looked up and over at him, blushed then nodded her head.
"I'll be alright," she replied. "I guess my body's just not used to having so much power in it."
"Don't worry, you get used to it after a while," Jason told her. Kris moved over to where Rocky was standing and gripped her brother's arm while he and the other five lifted their wrists and teleported to the Power Chamber.
The Galaxy And Beyond
In the Power Chamber, Kris let go of Rocky's arm and put a small amount of distance between her and her brother, but not much.
"Greetings rangers, and Kris," Zordon thundered. "What is wrong?"
Rocky and Kris proceeded to explain about their experience with the mysterious globes, their dream, then waited while Zordon, Alpha and Billy processed the information using their various techniques.
"This is indeed a serious situation," Zordon said finally.
"Billy, can you call up some star charts? Maybe Kakana and I will be able to spot our planet," Rocky said. He noticed the others looking at him strangely. Everyone, that is, except Kris. "What?"
"You just called Kris 'Kakana'," Adam pointed out.
"And you said 'our planet,'" Tanya added, looking at him with worry on her dark face. Rocky looked from his friends to Kris, who shrugged.
"I guess our "guests" are stronger than we thought," was all she said. Billy, in the meantime, had gone over to a computer console with a monitor beside it and had called up the most recent star charts he could find it in the area that Rocky and Kris had asked. He called them all over and they crowded around the monitor with Rocky and Kris in the front row. They looked at it for a long time, longer than was comfortable.
Suddenly, Kris pointed to a small speck with her index finger.
"There?" she asked. Rocky nodded.
"There," he confirmed. Kris then turned to face Zordon.
"We've located the planet, Zordon," she reported. It's a fair distance from Earth, but I think we can make it."
"I believe that we have enough power to teleport you all there, but getting you back immediately might be a problem," Zordon said.
"Knowing The Evil like we do, we won't be back for a while," Rocky interjected pessimistically. Kris told him so.
"Come on, Kakana. You know how difficult it was the first time we used our powers," he told her.
"I know, Myagi," Kris replied, somewhat indignantly. "But we've got more experience now. Besides, you have your experience as a Power Ranger to draw strength from. We've got to believe in ourselves." Kris turned to face the others. "We all do."
The other five teens were getting slightly thrown off by the alter egos that were using Kris and Rocky's bodies to communicate, but they managed to recover.
"Before we leave, we should know what we're going to be facing," Tommy suggested.
"Good idea," Kris said. "Well, we've got a long weekend coming up in two days. We can leave then. Nobody will miss us."
"Until then, we will tell you all you will need to know about The Evil," Rocky added. He shook his head slightly. "And if this Myagi person has any idea what he's talking about, it isn't looking too good for us." That was Rocky, pure and undiluted.
"So, what sayest thou all?" Kris quipped. "Shall we rendezvous at our apartment tomorrow after school?" There were nods all around the Power Chamber. Kris turned slightly. "Billy, you should come too. After all, you're going to be holding down the fort, as it were, while we're all gone. You'll need to know what's happening."
"I'll be there," Billy promised.
"Hey man, don't you live here?" Rocky joked, grinning. Billy smiled back.
"No, it only seems that way sometimes," he replied.
With that, Kris gripped her brother's arm once again and he teleported the two of them back to their apartment.
"I hope they'll be OK on their own tonight," Kat said.
"They'll be alright," Adam assured her, although he felt no more certain than Kat sounded.
~*~Later that evening, Rocky and Kris were sitting in their apartment, thinking about their home planet.
"Having doubts?" Kris asked, noting her brother's solemn face. Rocky looked up at her.
"You could say that," he replied. "I'm worried that we won't be able to get our bodies back. And if we don't get our bodies back, we're going to be stuck in these ones forever."
"I know what you mean," Kris agreed. "We'd have to make a choice; whether to stay on our planet or come back here and not see our family again."
"I think we should discuss this tomorrow," Rocky said, yawning.
"You're right," Kris agreed. She and her brother went to their own rooms, then quickly fell asleep.
~*~The next day, Kris and Rocky awoke, got dressed, ate something then promptly went to school to meet with the others. To their surprise, they were almost the first students to arrive at the school.
"First time I've ever been early," Rocky quipped, driving a chuckle from Kris.
They waited around until more people started coming to the school. The next person to arrive was Tanya. She parked her two-door sedan in the student parking lot next to Kris's, then got out and went to her locker to get her books for first period.
Kris and Rocky came walking down the hall towards her, deep in conversation. Tanya shut her locker and turned to face them.
"Hi guys," she said cheerfully. Kris and Rocky looked startled, but recovered quickly.
"Hi Tanya," Rocky said, Kris echoing him shortly thereafter. They hung around Tanya's locker until the others started arriving, one by one. They all converged near Tanya's locker.
"You guys are all coming to our apartment after school, right?" Kris said as the bell rang. They started walking to their first period class; English.
"Yeah," Tommy replied. "There's a lot we need to know."
"I just hope we'll be able to prepare you all enough," Kris said.
"Aw, don't worry," Tommy told her. "You'll tell us everything you think we need to know."
"You're probably right," Kris admitted. "I'm just naturally skeptical."
The seven walked into class, sat down and faced forward as their teacher, Mrs. Appleby, began her lesson.
Kris pulled out her notebook and pretended to copy what Mrs. Appleby was writing on the board about their novel study book, but instead she was sketching a flag. One she had never seen before, but she instinctively knew what it looked like. It was like her hand had a mind of its own as it flew across the paper, putting in a few light lines here and there. Once she was finished the sketch, Kris took out a black pen and went over her pencil lines, then erased them. Taking out her pencil crayons while Mrs. Appleby had her back turned, Kris selected a bright yellow and a black, then started colouring in her flag.
When she was finished, she put her pencil crayons away and held the notebook at arm's length. That was too weird, she thought.
"Kristine?" came Mrs. Appleby's voice through Kris's thoughts. Kris quickly dropped the notebook, picked up a pen and looked straight ahead.
"Yes?" she asked.
"I asked you if you'd read the first chapter of your book yet." Fortunately, Kris loved reading, and she was halfway through the book already.
"Yes, Mrs. Appleby," she replied.
"Would you care to give us a quick summary?"
"Sure." Kris launched into a five minute rôsumô of what had happened in the first chapter. Mrs. Appleby looked slightly taken aback.
"Very good," was all she said before she turned back to the chalkboard. Kris looked down and emitted a small, silent sigh of relief. Where's my notebook? she wondered, slightly frantic. She looked around and saw that Rocky had taken it from her desk and was staring at the flag she had spontaneously drawn. As if he could feel her gaze, Rocky looked over at her, his eyes a bit wider than normal. He looked at her in bewilderment, and yet at the same time with recognition in his eyes. Kris simply shrugged her shoulders and mouthed the words, Beats me. Rocky shrugged back and placed her notebook silently on Kris's desk, then they both payed attention to what Mrs. Appleby was saying for the rest of the class.
~*~The entire day, Kris and Rocky got in trouble from their teachers for not paying attention, but none of what the teachers said fazed either sibling. They were both too preoccupied with their own thoughts, questions and worries of what was to come in the none-too-distant future.
~*~After what seemed like an eternity, the end of the school day finally arrived. The seven teens all went to their respective lockers, got their things, then met up in the parking lot. They'd all drive their own cars to Kris and Rocky's apartment complex instead of sharing one vehicle.
At the apartment lobby, Tommy, Jason, Adam, Rocky, Tanya., Kat, Kris and Billy all rode in one elevator car up to the apartment, then Rocky unlocked the door and admitted everyone inside. Kris closed the door behind them all since she was the last one inside. Once everyone had settled in, Rocky and Kris looked at one another across the room. Wordlessly, they came to an agreement.
"I guess we had better start from the beginning," Kris said without any preamble. "Though, to be truthful, neither of us is quite sure where the beginning is, but we'll take a stab at it."
"OK," Kat murmured.
"There exists a planet in a galaxy not far from ours that has the ability to support life. The inhabitants are very similar to humans, except with different customs. They look exactly like us in every aspect. Heck, they even speak English." Kris paused a second to chuckle. "Anyway, on this planet, a long time ago, there was a war between the inhabitants and what they call The Evil. I don't know too many details except that the inhabitants finally won out because of a power that helped them, then disappeared," Kris began.
"What kind of power?" Jason asked. Kris looked at Rocky for help.
"We don't know," Rocky admitted for his sister.
"Anyway, the inhabitants thought that they had gotten rid of The Evil, but apparently The Evil was laying low and waiting for a time when the inhabitants were vulnerable again. I guess that time came because the power was rediscovered by two warriors who had no idea of their destiny. The Evil captured the warriors for their power, but the warriors wouldn't give it up to The Evil. Instead, they sent it away, along with some of their memories, to Earth," Kris finished.
"I'll bet that's what those globes you told us about were," Tanya commented.
"You're probably right," Kris told her.
"So what do we do once we get to this planet?" Adam asked.
"I think we have to make contact with a certain inhabitant, tell him what has happened, then find the two warriors that were captured by The Evil," Kris said slowly.
"I think we'll have enough power to get you all to the planet," Billy said, speaking for the first time. "But getting you back will be kind of sketchy. Don't worry, I'll figure something out." Tommy put a hand on Billy's shoulder.
"We know you will," he said reassuringly. Billy smiled a little at the comment.
"We should get going as soon as we can. I don't know how long the warriors will be able to survive without their powers to protect them," Rocky commented, standing up.
"You can go anytime," Billy said.
"Are you all ready?" Kris asked, addressing everybody in the room. Tommy, Jason and Tanya nodded immediately, never hesitating. Adam and Kat sat there for a second before also nodding their heads. Kris and Rocky smiled at each other.
"Let's go," Rocky said. They all teleported to the Power Chamber to inform Zordon and Alpha of their decision, and so that Billy could do a long-range teleportation to the planet.
Upon their arrival in the Power Chamber, the seven teens found Zordon and Alpha, busy working on diverting power to the teleportation system. Billy immediately set to work helping them.
"Zordon, we need to leave as soon as possible," Rocky said, walking forward with Kris beside him.
"Alpha, do we have enough power to send the rangers and Kris to the planet?" Zordon asked, his voice echoing throughout the chamber.
"Yes, Zordon. We can teleport anytime," Alpha replied.
"Let's morph and get moving," Tanya said, beginning to extend her wrists.
"No!" Kris cried, though rather unsure why. "No. We should all go in human form."
"Kris is right," Tommy agreed. "We don't want to alarm them." He turned to face Billy. "Get us there and back in one piece, man."
"I'll do my best," Billy promised with a small yet sad smile, as though he was saying a final farewell. I sure hope that's not the case, Tanya thought to herself, careful not to betray her thoughts or emotions to the others who stood close to her.
"Everybody ready?" Tommy asked, facing the others now. Everyone present nodded. Then they all got into a straight line, facing Billy, Alpha and Zordon. The three regarded the teens with mixed emotions between them; fear and hope being the most common.
"We're ready," Rocky said. Billy turned, almost reluctantly, to a console and entered a few commands.
"Teleporting...now." After hitting the final button, Billy turned quickly just in time to see his good friends disappear in columns of red, yellow, green, blue, white, pink and golden light.
"Good luck," he whispered as the same time Alpha said, "Good luck, Rangers."
~*~Kris and the others stayed conscious during the teleportation process, although Kris was unaware of it at the time.
"This is going to be...interesting," she commented to herself, not even realizing that she had been talking aloud.
"Nervous?" Tanya asked her, her voice coming through loud and clear. Kris, had she had a physical form at that moment, would have jumped.
"You mean, we can talk to each other?" she asked, the surprise evident in her voice for all to hear.
"Yeah," came Tommy's simple reply.
~*~All of a sudden, the seven of them were standing in the midst of a warm, humid jungle. They looked around anxiously. Only Kris and Rocky seemed comfortable in their surroundings. They were also the only ones who didn't have to take off any extra layers of clothing since they had subconsciously known what kind of climate to expect.
"I thought we were teleporting into the village," Kat said, somewhat confused.
"I guess the targeting scanners were a little off," Adam said, somewhat sheepishly since he had helped Billy set the coordinates.
"It's not far from here, I don't think," Kris said, turning full circle. She started to do another turn, but stopped partway, raised her hand and pointed with a single finger straight ahead. "There."
Without another word, Kris and Rocky started off in the direction Kris had pointed to with the others close behind them, not wanting to lose them in the dense foliage.
The closer they got to the village, the faster Kris and Rocky moved until they were running full-tilt. The others had to scramble over roots, through bushes and under low-hanging vines and branches while Kris and Rocky had no problem with their navigation. They moved with single-minded determination through the trees, never talking or looking around to examine their surrounding environment.
Suddenly, they stopped dead. The others behind them were able to slow down and stop since the siblings had had enough of a lead on them. Without a word of explanation, Rocky picked up a fair-sized stone and threw it a couple of meters up ahead. Where it landed, a wall of needle-sharp spikes shot straight up into the air. The others were taken aback.
"How did you know?" Adam asked, coming up behind the siblings, who looked at one another.
"Instinct," Kris replied after a split second of hesitation.
"So how are we going to get over those?" Tanya demanded softly, gesturing at the spike-wall vaguely with one arm. The wall had retracted into the ground, but the threat and ominous presence remained to haunt the teens. Kris and Rocky looked around for a moment. It's not the trees, Kris and Rocky knew that for sure. Hang on a minute... Kris thought. She picked up another stone and cautiously approached the area where the spikes would pop up again if they detected any movement.
"Kris, what are you doing?" Kat asked her. Kris didn't bother to reply; she knew what she was doing. At least I hope I know what I'm doing, Kris thought wryly. She stopped a few feet away from where the spikes were hidden by a carpet of moss, grass, leaves and other jungle debris, then crouched down with the stone still in her right hand. Taking a deep breath and saying a quick prayer to whoever might be listening upstairs, Kris dropped the stone on the exact spot where the spikes, that had sickle-shaped extensions on in case any enemy thought that they could get between the spikes, would pop up from the ground. Sure enough, as soon as motion was detected over the spikes, they shot towards the sky, taking the stone with them. The stone dropped to the ground, intact. Exactly the result Kris had been hoping for. She jumped up and ran back over to the others, grinning.
"I think I just found our way over the obstacle," she said, a trifle proudly.
"How?" Tanya asked.
"If we can pinpoint six more spots where the spikes and their sickle-shaped extensions will pop up, we'll be able to ride those extensions when the spikes go up. Then, all we have to do is climb from spike to spike and jump down on the other side," Kris explained.
"But aren't the extensions extremely sharp?" Jason asked.
"Not as bad as the tops of the spikes," Rocky said, jumping in. "And if we can find something to cover our feet further, we'll be perfectly safe." Kris had wandered off and was examining the ground intently.
"If we can find enough of these vines," she called back. "We can tie them around the arches of our feet to protect them. We'll need to do our hands, too."
"What are we waiting for?" Adam asked. He and the others set to work, finding and tying the vines to their hands and feet.
When everyone was equipped, they approached the spike-wall once more. Kris threw her rock at the wall, then pointed out the places where the extensions came from. She and Rocky got everyone into position, then waited as the spikes retracted.
"Now remember; don't fight the upward motion, or you'll get sliced in half. Also, don't wait for the spikes to reach their peak before starting to climb over. If you do, you won't make it over in time," Kris said. Tanya shuddered inwardly. Kris brought her hands up and placed them in a ready position, awaiting the spike to appear. "Everybody ready?"
There were six shouts back to her.
"OK. On my mark, the spikes will go up. Be ready. One! Two! Three!" On the last number, Kris briefly waved her hand over a spike-covering, then waited. She and the others grabbed the spikes as they shot upwards. They put their feet on the extensions. "Ok everybody, move it!" Kris didn't wait for the spikes to stop moving as she did a small leap from one spike to the middle row, then onto the last row, then jumped and landed on the ground. Rocky was right behind her, and landed at the same time as Kris. Tanya and Kat came next.
"Come on!" Kris shouted. Tommy and Jason, and finally Adam who barely made it off the fast-retracting spikes.
"One down, two to go," Rocky said, somewhat wryly as he, Kris and the others started moving away from the spikes.
"Two to go?" Adam asked.
"Oh yeah. That was only one of the tests. The village is encircled by three obstacles that are meant to keep all those who are unworthy out of the village," Kris explained, never stopping.
"So where's the next one?" Tommy asked as he walked ahead of the others with Rocky beside him. Rocky said nothing, but was on alert for anything that might trigger a memory, or a trap.
Suddenly, he froze in place, even reeled backwards slightly.
"Tommy, look out!" he shouted, lunging at Tommy from the side. Both teens fell to the ground. Kat, Kris and the other two hurried over and helped the two up.
"Rocky, what's gotten into you?" Tanya asked.
"Nothing. It's what Tommy would have gotten into," Rocky replied, nudging some grass and leaves with his toe. They fell away, revealing a dark, deep pit that was three meters wide and ten fold that in length.
"Woah, thanks man," Tommy said, looking down into the pit.
"This is one of the easier ones," Kris commented, moving over to a fallen tree. Rocky joined her, but the two weren't quite strong enough to move it themselves. Seeing their difficulty, Jason and Tommy moved over to help them, and together, the four of them managed to lift the fallen tree a foot off the ground, carried it over to the pit and laid it down gently. Then they proceeded to push one end out over the pit. It just reached the other side.
"That doesn't look very sturdy," Kat commented, her brow creasing.
"Only one way to find out," Kris said, stepping up onto the dead tree. She started walking very slowly across, watching where she was putting her feet. Just don't look down, she told herself. You won't fall, you've got perfect balance. But don't get cocky. Kris was almost across when she felt the tree begin to shift. She let out a small cry as she almost lost her balance and tumbled head first into the deep pit.
"Kris!" Rocky shouted. Kris steadied herself, and glanced backwards cautiously.
"Somebody has to stand on that end of the log!" she called back. "I need counter-balance."
"Don't worry, we're on it. Just be careful," Rocky called to his sister.
"Don't need to tell me twice," Kris said, although she was talking partly to herself as she turned back around and started moving once more. Just a few more feet... Kris leapt off the tree and onto solid ground. She said a small prayer of thanks, then turned around and waved the others over.
"OK, come on!" Kris called. Rocky got off the end of the tree and allowed Jason to get up. He looked a bit nervous as he started, but he said nothing to betray his feelings as he walked slowly across. By the time Jason reached Kris's side of the pit, sweat was dripping down the sides of his face. He stepped down onto the solid ground in relief. Kris smiled at him.
"Not that hard, eh?" she asked. Jason didn't reply.
Tanya was the next one to come across. Kris went up onto her end of the tree and waited for Tanya to come across. Kris helped Tanya the last few feet to the ground.
"Thanks," Tanya said.
Tommy was next, followed closely by Kat, who came right after him. Rocky had stayed behind, wanting to get the others across before he came. He stepped up onto the fallen tree without any hesitation whatsoever. He was three quarters of the way across when suddenly, he slipped on a patch of moss the others had somehow managed to avoid. He let out a shout as he fell.
"Rocky!" Kris shouted in terror. Fortunately, Rocky had managed to grab onto a branch that was attached to the tree, but the branch wouldn't hold his weight for long. Kris started to go to him, but Tommy pulled her back.
"Don't, you'll both go over," he warned her.
"I can't leave him there to fall to his death," Kris argued. Without waiting for a response, Kris grabbed a length of vine that was both long and hardy and walked over until she was just above the branch that Rocky was dangling precariously from. She straddled the tree and threw one end of the vine down to her brother. It fell right beside his left hand. "Grab on!"
"I can't, I'll pull you over," Rocky argued, not touching the vine.
"You won't," Kris said firmly. "Remember, I went through the same training that you did. I'm at the same level as you are, so I can certainly pull you up from there." Which was true, Rocky reflected. His sister and himself were in the same level in Mokora, so she would have the same abilities as he. Reluctantly, Rocky grabbed onto the vine with one hand, transferring half of his weight to see if Kris could handle it. Neither of them remembered that Kris wasn't in Kakana's body, so she wouldn't really have the same level of training as Kakana's body.
Up on the tree, Kris jerked slightly, but held her balance as she felt her brother begin to let go of the tree.
"I'll start to pull you up," she called down to him. Rocky said nothing, so Kris started pulling with all of her strength. Slowly but surely, Rocky started to approach the tree from beneath. He helped Kris as much as he could, and eventually he was on top of the tree on his stomach, still gripping the vine, as was Kris. Kris grinned at him in relief, and he grinned back.
"Nice job," he told her, righting himself.
"Thanks," she replied. "Now let's get moving." Together, the two of them stood up carefully and, avoiding any further patches of moss, crossed to the other side where the others were waiting for them.
When they hit the ground, they were surrounded by their friends, who had been worried sick.
"Kris, that was incredible," Adam told her. Kris shrugged.
"I would have done the same for anybody," she replied simply.
"But how did you manage to lift Rocky? He's heavier than you are, certainly," Kat commented.
"It's not really weight that matters, it's inner strength. I just drew on the power I needed to save my brother," Kris explained. She realized that the alternate identity was slipping into the pilot's chair, and she quickly shook her head, but the presence remained.
"One more obstacle and we'll be at the village," Rocky reminded them all.
"There's a mixed blessing," Kris commented.
Without anything further, they all started towards the village and the final obstacle. But now, they allowed Kris and Rocky to lead and nobody even considered going faster than a walking pace.
"Can you tell us anything about the final obstacle?" Adam asked walking beside his best friend.
"I don't really know what it is, or where," Rocky admitted. "But I think I'll know it when I get near it."
"We've been through the spikes and pit, so what's left?" Kris muttered to herself, trying to figure out the next challenge that would be set before them. It was at the edge of her mind, but it was like trying to remember a dream after waking up; the harder you tried to remember, the further away you pushed it. "The spikes, the pit, and..." She broke off in frustration at herself. I've got to remember! she thought, annoyed. They were both pressure sensitive, but I know that the last one isn't the same. She snapped her fingers. Everybody turned to look at her.
"What is it?" Kat asked, sounding concerned.
"I just remembered what the last challenge was," Kris said, smiling triumphantly. "The path of silence."
"Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about that," Rocky said. "It starts just up ahead. You can't make a sound, or these stone arches that go over the path will collapse in on you."
"OK everybody, not a word from here," Tommy ordered softly. Kris went first, then came Tommy, Jason, Tanya, Kat, Adam and finally Rocky bringing up the rear.
Everything went well at first. The seven of them managed to avoid stepping on any stray branches that littered the path, as well as talking. They barely even dared to breathe as they went through the stone arches. Kris felt someone tap her shoulder, and she turned silently. Jason was behind her now, mouthing the words, How much further? Kris glanced up ahead, thought she saw the beginning of a village, and mouthed back, A mile. Jason nodded, and relayed the information back along the band.
As they neared the end of the path, Kris came very close to letting out a sigh of relief, but she restrained herself just in time and glanced back sheepishly to see if anyone had noticed her small slip. Fortunately, no one had. Thanks for small miracles, Kris thought to herself. She walked ahead until she was absolutely sure that they were clear of the final challenge, then turned to face the others. Is it safe? Rocky asked her silently. Kris nodded. I think so, but I'll check. Kris picked up a branch and snapped it across her knee. The crack echoed throughout the silent jungle, but none of the arches caved in.
"OK everyone, we're safe," Rocky announced, smiling. There were audible sighs of relief as everyone exhaled the half-held breaths they had been holding for the past twenty minutes or so.
"Now, on to the village," Kris proclaimed. "It isn't far from here."
They started walking again. Now, there was a spring in everyone's step that had disappeared because they all knew that they were close to attaining their goal. At least, that's what they thought.
"Nervous?" Rocky asked Kris as they walked side-by-side along the well-worn path that led to the heart of the village. Kris, who had been lost in her own thoughts, jumped slightly at the sound of his voice.
"Yeah, I am, kind of," she admitted. "But aren't you? I mean, we don't know how we're going to be received by everyone when we get back."
"That's true, but if we explain what happened to them, I'm sure they'll understand. Besides, we won't be stuck in these bodies for long," Rocky assured his sister. They both did double takes at Rocky's words. "I just said 'these bodies', didn't I?"
"Yeah, you did," Kris said quietly, nodding. "To tell the truth, I was thinking the same thing. I guess Myagi and Kakana are growing stronger the closer to their village we get."
"I hope we'll be able to find Myagi and Kakana's bodies. I don't want them to be with us forever. Not that I would mind," Rocky added quickly, basically for his own benefit, "but it wouldn't be fair to them, or our selves."
"You have a point," Kris agreed. "We've got to find their bodies, no matter what the cost."
They walked in silence for a few minutes, once again lost in thought.
"Is that the village?" Adam asked, snapping the siblings from their reverie.
"Um, yeah, you're right," Rocky said, recovering faster than Kris. The two put on more speed, as if the village was somehow drawing them towards it like a black hole drew debris and anything that crossed its path in space. Rocky and Kris broke into a dead run. The others had to push themselves to the limit to keep them in sight.
When Kris and Rocky stopped, it was in a clearing that had fair-sized huts made out of grass, leaves, branches, mud and other jungle materials outlining it. There was a large, stone-outlined pit in the centre of the clearing that was obviously a place of gathering for the villagers. Kris and Rocky stood, rooted to the spot for several minutes, smiling and breathing normally, even after their run. The others came into the clearing a minute later, breathing laboriously. Adam and Tanya bent over at the waist and put their hands on their knees until they were breathing normally again.
"Is this the village?" Kat asked, looking around.
"Yes," Kris replied, her voice sounding distant. "This is our village; Fujikara."
~*~An older man was sitting in his hut, reading, when all of a sudden he felt something in the clearing. He couldn't describe it, but he knew that he had to go to it. He put down his book, not bothering to mark his place in the volume, moved to his door and flung it wide open. He looked around, then spotted the source of the vibes he was getting. His mouth dropped open. He didn't recognize the physical bodies of the visitors, but he knew deep in his soul that he knew two of the seven. He started towards them, at a walk at first, then he broke into a jog.
~*~Kris and Rocky's eyes had narrowed as they felt something coming from one of the huts. They looked at a hut at the same instant as its door flew open and a man emerged. The man looked around, spotted the seven and started running towards them.
"Myagi, is that...?" Kris broke off, unable to believe it. Rocky could only nod. That was enough. He and Kris took off across the clearing, meeting the older man halfway with their friends right behind them every step of the way.
"Father?" Rocky asked hesitantly as he, Kris and the man stood a few paces apart. Tommy and the others let the trio have their space for the moment.
"You don't look like my children, but you feel like them..." the man said, narrowing his eyes. "Myagi? Kakana?"
"Father, it's us," Kris said, smiling happily. "I know we have different bodies, but it's us in spirit."
"I knew you'd come back to me one day," said their father as he embraced his children, who hugged him back tightly. A tear slipped from Kris's eye as she felt her self become more at peace the more time she spent in the clearing. The man released them, and stepped back to look at them. "Such beautiful adults you have both become."
"But father, these aren't our bodies," Kris reminded him gently.
"I know," their father replied, "but I meant your sprits. What happened to your bodies?"
"It's a long story. Maybe we should go to your hut?" Kris suggested. Their father nodded. They moved off with the others behind them.
"Who are they?" their father demanded, noticing the others for the first time.
"These are the friends of the people whose bodies we are in now," Kris explained. "They helped us come back to rescue our bodies, and their friends."
The eight of them moved into the small hut. There weren't enough seats for everyone, so Adam sat on the floor alongside Tanya. Tommy and Jason stood, allowing Kris, Rocky, their "father" and Kat to sit down on chairs and the bed. Then Kris and Rocky proceeded to explain everything that had happened from the point of them fleeing and sending their powers to Earth to their journey through the jungle that surrounded the village and the obstacles they had been forced to face to prove their worth.
"This is an incredible story," their father told them once they had finished.
"Mister..." Tommy faltered.
"Mr. Lumo, we need to find the bodies of your son and daughter as soon as possible. We don't know how long their...spirits...can survive outside of them."
"Good point. You should leave in the morning," Mr. Lumo said. Kris was about to protest, but her father held up his hand. "No, I won't hear it. You may be grown up now, Kakana, but you still need food and rest for those bodies, I assume?" Kris nodded reluctantly. "Then it's settled; you will all stay here tonight and start out in the morning once you've had a good sleep and have some food in your stomachs."
"You guys can sleep in my hut, if you want," Rocky offered to Jason, Tommy and Adam. "There isn't a lot of room, and there's only one bed, but I think we can figure something out."
"Sounds good," Tommy said for all of them.
"I guess that leaves you with me," Kris said, looking at Tanya and Kat. "Like Rocky, I've only got one bed, but there's some extra bedding, I think."
"We'll make do with what you have," Tanya said, smiling. The seven of them split up and went to their appropriate huts.
That night, after darkness had fallen, everybody from the village gathered around the fire pit. Already, a huge fire blazed in the pit, lighting up the surrounding area and throwing warmth on everyone who sat around it. They roasted an animal that was native to the planet, and was extremely common throughout the world. There was also some fresh vegetables and fruit, and water. It was an extremely healthy meal, and also very appetizing. The seven from Earth ate as much as their stomachs would tolerate, which meant having seconds and thirds of basically everything.
"I haven't eaten like that since..." Rocky said, breaking off, trying to think of a particular moment.
"Since yesterday?" Kris teased. Rocky gave her a mock-glare, and she laughed. Mr. Lumo stood up suddenly and called for everyone's attention. When he had it, he took a deep breath before speaking.
"As you all know, a few weeks ago Myagi and Kakana, my son and daughter, disappeared after receiving the power of The Stone of Benghait and going off to fight The Evil," he began. "When they did not come back, we had all assumed the worst; that they had been captured and the power was taken over by The Evil. But we were wrong. Myagi and Kakana apparently managed to send the power to a planet called Earth in the next galaxy. The Evil has their bodies, but not their souls. The souls and the Power of Benghait lies within the bodies of the two who stumbled upon the powers on Earth. They have traveled, along with their friends, to our planet to help us reclaim the bodies of Myagi and Kakana and help us defeat The Evil once and for all. I will now present to you, Rocky DeSantos and his sister, Kris DeSantos. They are the two who carry the souls of Myagi and Kakana within them." Mr. Lumo gestured to Rocky and Kris, who stood reluctantly. There were murmurs around the circle of people seated around the fire pit as they looked at Kris and Rocky skeptically. "And their friends; Tommy Oliver, Jason Lee Scott, Adam Park, Tanya Sloan and Kat Hillard." As their names were spoken, the five remaining teens stood up and moved to stand beside Rocky and Kris.
"I know we don't look like Kakana and Myagi, and I know that our friends are not from this planet, but we will fight to protect all of you from The Evil," Kris said, raising her voice and silencing the people. They looked up at her expectantly. Kris realized that they were waiting for more, so she improvised. "Myagi and Kakana are within us. Their thoughts, feelings, skills, all lie within us. The only thing different is now there's two people thinking for one body."
"But that won't be for long," Rocky jumped in. "We will all fight to get Myagi and Kakana's bodies back and restore them to normal. We want to have Myagi and Kakana back as much as you do."
"They might all look like normal teenagers, but they possess a great power that was given to them by Zordon," Kris added. That got everybody's attention.
"You know Zordon?" a man asked. Tommy nodded slowly, cautiously. "We are saved!" Cheers rose up from the crowd of people.
"Show them," Kris whispered to Rocky, who relayed it to Tommy. Their leader nodded.
"It's morphin time!" he shouted.
"Zeo Ranger One, Pink!"
"Zeo Ranger Two, Yellow!"
"Zeo Ranger Three, Blue!"
"Zeo Ranger Four, Green!"
"Zeo Ranger Five, Red!"
"Gold Ranger Power!"
Kris stood back as the six teens transformed before the eyes of the villagers.
"Why didn't you change?" a young girl asked of Kris. Kris looked down and found herself staring into the eyes of a girl, no more than 15 by this planet's standards. She had straight blonde hair and blue eyes.
"Because I'm not one of them," Kris replied without a trace of bitterness of jealousy. "They're the Power Rangers Zeo, I'm just a normal human."
"Don't you wish you were a Power Ranger?" the girl asked.
"Sometimes, but they've had much more experience at this sort of thing than me, so I'll let them take care of it," Kris answered, smiling. The girl smiled back. "You know, you look kind of familiar. Do I know you?"
"You, or Kakana, was in my Mokora class and we obviously got the same schooling," the girl replied. "I'm Dicere."
"Well, right now I'm Kris, but Kakana's mind is inside of me," Kris said. Just then, Kris was called by the others. "I've got to. I'll see you later maybe. At Mokora probably. Bye, Dicere."
"Bye, Kakana," Dicere replied.
Kris moved over to her friends, brother and father.
"We should get some sleep. We want to leave as soon as dawn comes," Rocky said quietly. They all agreed, then went to their huts.
That night, they all slept lightly, but the rest was welcome after their exhausting day. Sleep well everyone, Kris thought silently. We've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow.
In the morning, Kris and the girls in her hut woke up at about the same time after a light but much needed sleep.
"Morning," Kris said to Kat and Tanya.
"Mornin'," came Kat's reply from the floor on the left side on Kris's bed. Kat and Tanya had insisted on sleeping on the floor even after Kris had offered to give up her bed for one of them. They had refused, camping out on the floor that consisted of soft, dark green grass.
The three girls got dressed, then went outside to wash up using the main water source, the well off to one side of the clearing. Kris brought a large canteen-type of container with her to fill up with fresh water for their journey that they would be starting on shortly.
A few minutes later, Rocky and the others from his hut came outside and wandered over to the well.
"You guys sleep OK?" Kris asked, hauling up a bucket full of water from the bottom of the well.
"Not bad. How about you girls?" Adam replied. There were nods all around, though Kat and Tanya's weren't as sincere as Kris's since Kris was partially accustomed to sleeping in the middle of a jungle. When Kris had raised the bucket up to ground level, she first filled the canteen, then let everyone else splash water on their faces, through their hair, and even at each other, though it wasn't a full-fledged water fight.
After everyone was done, Kris gently lowered the bucket back down into the well for the usage of the other villagers, who were starting to come out of their huts right now.
"You guys go ahead to my father's hut to eat breakfast. I'll catch up in a minute," Kris said, spying two people she had been meaning to talk to since her arrival the night before. Rocky followed Kris's gaze, saw who she meant and nodded. Then he took the others to a familiar hut; Mr. Lumo's. Kris waited until they had gone inside before she jogged over to the people.
"Rahshi! Lashai!" she called, waving and smiling. The two stopped walking and turned to see who was calling their names. They looked at Kris's suspiciously as she came to a halt in front of them. "Don't look at me that way, please. I know that this isn't Kakana's body, but her spirit is inside of me, and she really misses you both."
"How do I know you're telling the truth?" the girl demanded, hands on her hips.
"Oh, come on Lashai, why would I want to trick my friends, my own father?" Kris demanded, smiling.
"You could be from The Evil," Lashai pointed out.
"OK, I'll prove it to you," Kris said. "Lashai Weno. You're the same age as me, 17. You take Mokora, are at red shana, but you were going to take the test for the blue shana a few days ago. You're an only child, you're parents were taken by The Evil last year and you've lived on your own ever since. You hate eating Noweka, but you love anything sweet. Happy yet?" Lashai looked taken aback.
"Kakana, it is you," she murmured. Kris turned to Rahshi.
"Need me to convince you, too?" she asked, grinning. Rahshi shook his head silently, never saying a word.
"I...are you really going off to fight The Evil for Kakana...yours and Myagi's bodies?" Lashai asked quietly, looking at Kris with her hazel eyes. Her brown hair that curled at the ends was braided at the front, and the braids merged into one at the back of her head, then fell down her back. The rest of her hair fell free, flowing along her shoulders and back.
"Yeah, but with the help of my new friends, we'll be able to defeat them without any problem," Kris assured her best friend.
"I hope you're right," Lashai said doubtfully. "Life is so dull without you around." Kris smiled warmly.
"Thanks. Now, do you think I could talk to Rahshi alone?" she asked, hoping she wouldn't insult her, or rather Kakana's, friend.
"Yeah sure. I...I guess I'll see you when you get back," Lashai said. Then she walked off, leaving Kris alone with Rahshi.
"Kakana...this is so confusing," he confessed.
"I know, Rahshi. But it'll all be over soon, and we'll be married. I'll get my body back, I promise," Kris said.
"But what'll happen to your, Kakana's, mind if you get hurt, or worse?" Rahshi asked.
"I don't know," Kris confessed. "But don't think about that now. Think about how happy we'll both be when all of this is over."
"Hey Kris, hurry up! We need to leave soon and you haven't eaten yet!" Rocky called to her from across the clearing. Kris raised her hand without looking away from Rahshi. He had black eyes and dark, straight brown hair that just brushed the tips of his ears.
"I've got to go," Kris said, stating the obvious.
"Hurry back, and be careful," Rahshi said to her. For a moment, they said nothing. Then, slowly, they moved closer together, kissed briefly, then broke apart, going their separate ways. Kris was close to tears, but she held herself back as she walked to her father's hut.
Inside, she found the others eating the fruit and bread that had been placed on a table. Kris picked up a couple of slices of bread, some fruit and ate quickly, not really tasting anything she put into her mouth.
"Are you OK, Kris?" Tanya asked, noticing Kris's somber expression.
"We can't fail on this one," Kris said softly. "There's too many people that I'd be leaving behind. I can't let them, or my father down."
"You won't," Tanya assured her. "I saw you with that guy. Is he your boyfriend?"
"We're to be married."
"I see." Tanya was momentarily speechless, not expecting someone that was a year younger than her to be engaged. "Well, you've got all of us to help you, and we never give up." Kris smiled slightly.
"Thanks. Zordon picked the right people for the job," she said. She finished her food, went for seconds, and polished that off, having regained her appetite.
"You will need to take some food with you. You don't know how long you'll be away," Mr. Lumo said, breaking the silence. "I've prepared some loaves of bread, cheeses, some smoked, dried meat, dried fruits and nuts for you all to take with you."
"Thank you, father," Rocky said formally. There's that alter ego again, he thought. Mr. Lumo, with Jason's help, brought out a large tray covered with everything that Mr. Lumo had described. On the floor next to Mr. Lumo's desk, there were seven sacks that looked like they were made from a strong fibre. Mr. Lumo handed one to each teen, then told them to fill up the sacks with the food. The seven teens quickly complied.
Once that was finished, they all received canteens, with the exception of Kris since she already had hers. They went to the well, filled up the canteens to the brim and put them in the sacks on top of the food.
Back in Mr. Lumo's hut, they were each given a length of strong rope, some knives and other useful items that were for defense, as well as cutting through the dense underbrush of the surrounding jungle they would be forced to go through. Among other things, tents, blankets and first-aid kits were also given around to every other person.
Rocky and Kris said an emotional goodbye to their father, promising to return with Myagi and Kakana's bodies, then left the village. Everyone who lived there was standing outside and gave them a farewell nobody would soon forget as Kris, Rocky, Tommy, Jason, Adam, Tanya and Kat started through the jungle that would lead to The Evil's headquarters where the bodies in question were being held.
For the first few hours, the going was easy. There wasn't much foliage since the local children were often allowed to play in the nearby woods under supervision of their parents, relatives or older siblings.
"It won't stay like this long," Rocky commented to his sister. They were walking side-by-side along a small path. Behind them, Tommy was walking alongside Kat while Jason, Tanya and Adam brought up the rear.
"I know, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Kris told him. Rocky was carrying a sharp knife to cut the vines that got in their way, as well as having it in case they were attacked by they-could-only-guess-what.
They took a break at around noon to eat a bit of the dried fruit, a piece of cheese each, a couple of pieces of the smoked meat and a drink or two of water before getting on their way once more.
When night fell and it began to grow dark, Kris and Rocky had to make a decision on where to camp. Fortunately, they found a small, flat clearing that would easily accommodate the three tents the group had brought with them. There were even trees close enough together to string the tents on. It's amazing that this could occur naturally, Kris found herself thinking. Then she kicked herself for looking a gift tree in the mouth. They announced their plan to the others, who readily agreed that it was time for a rest. None of them were used to hiking like this. The three tents were set up close to each other. Stones were found while Jason and Kat dug out a pit for a camp fire. The stones were placed around the pit so there would be a minimal chance of starting a forest fire. The group shed their sacks in a pile then sat around the fire, eating a bigger meal than they had for lunch, and talking.
When they all started to look tired and limp, it was decided that they should probably get some sleep.
"Do you think we should keep a lookout party?" Adam asked as they all stood up.
"It might be a good idea. We're still pretty far from The Evil's headquarters, but they might have soldiers out patrolling," Rocky said. "Who wants first watch?"
"I'll take it, though I'd prefer not to be alone," Kris admitted. She was a night owl, and could go for a time without sleep, although you didn't want to be near her afterwards.
"I'll stay too," Jason volunteered. The others nodded sleepily.
"OK, that's good. Adam and I will take one tent. I guess Tanya and Kat can take another. Tommy, you've got the third," Rocky said.
"What about the second shift?" Tanya asked, pausing mid-stride.
"I'll go," Adam and Tommy volunteered at the same time. They looked at each other, grinned and looked at Rocky for confirmation. Rocky nodded.
"OK, this works," he said. "Kat and I will take the last watch."
"What about Tanya?" Kris asked.
"I'll take first watch tomorrow night," Tanya said.
"That works," Kris said, satisfied. They all separated and went either into their tents or sat around the fire that still burned brightly, lighting up the surrounding area, much like the one in the village although on a smaller scale.
Everything fell silent as the five teens got comfortable in their tents and fell asleep under the careful guard of Jason and Kris. Those two were sitting as close to the fire, and each other, as they could get for it had grown colder as the night wore on.
"Do you really think we'll be able to rescue Myagi and Kakana's bodies?" Kris asked suddenly, staring straight into the fire. Jason was startled. He had been lost in his own thoughts.
"We'll do everything we can to get them back," he promised. Kris looked up at him across the fire.
"But that's no guarantee," she told him. "But then, I can't blame you for that. You don't really know what we're going to be up against here. To be honest, neither do I. All I know is that we're really going to be tested. The price of failure is too high to even contemplate."
"So don't tell yourself we're going to fail. If my friends and I have anything to say about it, we'll get the bodies back and then we'll get to go back home before we're even missed," Jason said softly.
"I hope you're right," Kris replied.
They pair stayed in silence until they mutually decided that it was time to go wake up Adam and Tommy. Jason saw to that while Kris said goodnight to him and went into the tent that had been previously occupied by Tommy.
Nothing eventful happened during Tommy and Adam's watch, for which they were both grateful. They kept the fire going by constantly feeding it dry twigs, branches and grass. Occasionally, they drank a bit of water or took a handful of dried fruit, but mostly they stayed seated around the fire in silence.
For third watch, Rocky, Kat and Tanya had to be roused from their slumber. For Rocky and Kat, it was time for their watch. Tanya had to wake up because she needed to give up her tent and go over to Kris's because there was only room for one person in Jason's tent, and Tommy already had dibs on it. Since neither Adam, Tanya or Kris would feel comfortable about sleeping in the same tent, Tanya was moved to Kris's tent and Adam got what was formerly Tanya's tent all to himself.
In the morning, Adam, Tommy, Jason, Kris and Tanya all awoke to the sound of birds chirping and the wind rustling the trees gently. They oriented themselves after a moment's hesitation and thoughts of, "Where am I?" ran through their heads. Then they all emerged at pretty much the same time out into the clearing. The fire had long since gone out. The sun now lit the clearing, and it felt warm on their backs. Rocky had fallen asleep during his watch, and Kat hadn't had the heart to wake him. When Kris saw this, she grinned evilly. The others noticed and backed away discreetly as Kris advanced on the sleeping form of her brother. When she was beside him, she clapped her hands loudly. He jumped, waking with a start.
"Sorry, but I know how much of a sound sleeper you are," Kris said apologetically at Rocky's glare.
"Next time, just give me a bit of a shake, ok?" he replied, getting up and dusting himself off. He and the others ate a hearty breakfast, then packed up the tents and started on their way again.
That day was warmer than the previous one. Fortunately, they had all been smart enough to layer their clothing during the night, so they at least had layers to take off. Lunch came and went quickly. When darkness fell that night, the teens had made good time.
"I think we did at least 13 miles," Rocky said, impressed with his own stamina as he and the others broke camp again. This time, there was no clearing so no fire could be built, but nobody really minded; they were all too tired to do anything except sleep. Tanya and Kris took first watch. Tommy and Jason volunteered for second while Kat and Rocky took the last one, allowing Adam the luxury of sleeping the entire night undisturbed.
The days seemed to meld together. The only difference between them was the night watches. Mentally, Kris had estimated a week before reaching The Evil's headquarters. The third night, Adam and Jason took first watch, Kris and Tommy took second while Tanya and Rocky took third.
The fourth night it was Kat and Kris, Jason and Rocky and Adam and Tommy.
They managed to rotate enough times so that everyone got to sleep through the entire night at least once. How convenient, Kris thought wryly when she realised this.
On the seventh night, the night before they would reach the headquarters of The Evil where the bodies in question were being held, Kris was allowed to sleep through the entire night since she looked extremely sleep-deprived and tired all the time. She thanked them all profusely before going into a tent by herself and collapsing for the next 12 hours.
The Beginning Of The End
In the morning, Kris woke after the others feeling fully refreshed and revitalized. She exited her tent and found all of the other tents already packed up and the fire pit covered with leaves, tree branches and green grass.
"Morning," Tanya said cheerily, waving at Kris as she stood up and stretched.
"Good morning. Are we ready to move out?" Kris asked, feeling her spine crack pleasantly.
"Yep. As soon as your tent is packed up, we're moving," Rocky reported, handing a sack of food to Kris. Kris, who was starving, dug out some of the fruit, the smoked meat, a piece of cheese (not her favourite) and broke off a large chunk of bread. She closed the pack back up and slung it over her back.
"How are we doing on our provisions?" she asked.
"Pretty well, considering how long we've been out here," Tommy replied. "We've still got more than half of what we started out with."
"We should probably have a big breakfast and a big meal at lunch or just before we hit The Evil's headquarters," Kris said. "We don't want to be drained just after we've gotten inside enemy lines."
"It's a good idea," Rocky said, coming up behind his sister. He called the others over, and together they managed to empty out one of the large sacks. Everything was distributed evenly and they all ate in a pensive silence, thinking about the battle that was sure to come.
After breakfast, the teens packed up the tents and the empty sack into more sacks, then started on their way once more. Everything was quiet, if you didn't count the animals and birds that rustled through the trees, just out of sight. Rocky and Kris, who were at the front of the group, both carried knives and ropes in case they met up with any minions from The Evil prematurely. Fortunately, they didn't.
Suddenly, Kris tensed up and stopped dead in her tracks. Tanya almost ran into her from behind. Kris crouched low and didn't move a muscle.
"Kris, what's wrong?" Tanya asked.
"Listen," Kris said in a whisper barely audible to those around her. They all did, but it seemed in vain.
"I don't hear anything," Kat said.
"I do," Rocky said, mimicking Kris's position. "Everybody get ready. They're up ahead." The others didn't have to ask to whom Rocky was referring; they knew. They tensed as well, although none of them heard what Kris and Rocky apparently did. They started forwards again, though at a much slower pace and now they were being careful not to step on any stray branches or twigs that might give away their position. Up ahead, there was a thick clump of bushes. Beyond those, there was a clearing that Kris and Rocky knew well, though they weren't quite sure why exactly that was. As they approached, the siblings dropped their packs on the ground silently and hid them under some leaves and branches; the others did the same with their own packs and the tents.
By the time they were finished, Rocky and Kris had already crept up and were crouched behind the bushes, peering through into the clearing beyond. Tommy, Jason, Adam, Tanya and Kat knelt beside their friends and peered through the buses with them. They knew what they were looking at without having to ask, although they were quite different from what the teens had expected.
"They" were people, obvious natives to the planet. The people were all of the same race, that much was obvious. There were males and females; obviously The Evil had no problems sending anybody they needed into battle. The males all had hair cut close to their scalps and were dressed in black and dark green form-fitting suits that allowed them to blend in with their surroundings in the jungle. They were assorted hair colours; black, brown, blondes although fewer of those than any since blonde hair stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the greens and earth tones of the jungle. The females also had hair of the same colours, and theirs was allowed to be long, but it was braided or held back in some other manner. They wore the same form-fitting suits as their male counterparts. Both sexes looked equally threatening.
They were doing what looked like training exercises on each other using swords, ropes, knives and some were locked in hand-to-hand combat with one another. They were good; even the Rangers knew that it would be a challenge defeating these enemies.
Rocky silently held up his hand and counted down from five without ever saying a word. When he had folded all of his fingers into a fist, Kris leapt up from her hiding place at the exact same instant as Rocky and the others, belatedly. Then the seven of them charged into the fray, taking as many of The Evil down initially as they could. Behind the bushes, Tommy had counted about twenty of the enemy in the clearing, and he didn't know if there was anybody else hiding the in surrounding jungle foliage. He didn't have time to find out as he and the others were attacked in short order.
These enemies weren't like the cogs, was the first conclusion they all drew after several seconds in battle. These guys played for keeps. They used swords that sliced through the air with ease, ropes and their bare hands to try to destroy the seven teens with a ferocity none of them except Kris and Rocky were used to, and even their experience was extremely limited in their current state.
"I know how much you all despise it, and I do too, but don't be afraid to draw blood," Kris called over the sounds of fighting. With that, she drew her knife and she and her enemy circled one another, oblivious to what was happening around them. Her enemy, a female with long black hair and narrow black eyes, drew her own sword and lunged at Kris. Everything seemed to go in slow motion as the others stopped fighting to watch; their enemies doing the same to see what kind of force they would be up against.
Kris and her opponent stood face-to-face two meters apart, each brandishing a sharp knife. Come on, come and get me, Kris thought, not taking her eye off her opponent for a second. Eventually, her opponent got tired of waiting and lunged at Kris, slashing the air with her sword. Fortunately, that was all she ended up slashing since Kris rolled out of the way and came up behind her foe. Kris took the enemy's disorientation to full advantage, and swung the knife down as hard as she could. The expression on her opponent's face was one nobody would ever forget. Eyes and mouth wide open, the head fell to the ground and was joined shortly thereafter by the body. Her opponent never felt a thing.
"Kris, you didn't have to do that!" Tanya exclaimed, horrified as a pool of blood collected around the body and the severed neck.
"Yes I did, Tanya. Get used to it because this is the only way to get rid of these guys," Kris said firmly, her voice as hard as stone. But then, that was Kakana speaking. Inside, Kris's own self was screaming for the killing to stop.
"It can't be the only way," Adam said, shaking his head.
"The only other way would be to take their power stones," Rocky said, going to stand beside his sister. Kris was shaking like a leaf, unable to believe what her body, what she had just done to another living creature!
"Power stones?" Tommy asked, oblivious to Kris's anguish. Rocky moved over to the corpse, nudged it until it laid on its back with his toe and indicated a shiny stone that gleamed in the sunlight.
"That stone is the source of their life force. If you take it out of their bodies, you destroy them. It's just as painless, and just as quick," he explained.
"Then let's go. We don't have much time left," Jason said. The others nodded and went back into battle, this time with a sense of purpose. All of them except Kris, who was left alone to stand in the middle of the clearing.
"I can't do this," she whispered to herself. "I can't kill them. I can't...it's wrong...I can't..." She kept mumbling the same things over and over to herself, standing stock still, unaware that soon the hunter was about to become the prey.
One of The Evil's minions, a male this time, was silently sneaking up behind Kris, having realized that she was in shock. Kris never noticed a thing. She kept staring down at her feet, and she noticed that her black shoes had a drop of blood on them. This is insane! her mind screamed. The enemy was almost upon Kris. Brandishing a sword that glinted in the light from the planet's sun, he raised it above his head and grinned at the thought of delivering the final blow to this young warrior who had killed one of his kind.
Rocky, who had been busy dealing with two of The Evil's loyal subjects, hadn't really had the time to take in the situations of the others.
"These'll look good in my rock garden," Rocky said, ripping the stones from their places on the bodies of their hosts. The stones were embedded just below the collarbone on every single soldier from The Evil. The stones drew their power from the energy waves that flew through the air, emanating from The Evil's headquarters. Nothing was able to block the waves, so The Evil's soldiers lived on until their stone was pulled from them. When that happened, their hands flew up to the now-empty circle below their necks, their let out a small scream and collapsed to the ground, lifeless.
That was exactly what the two Rocky had been fighting did now. The entire process of death took less than three seconds. Now, Rocky stood, still in a defensive pose, and looked around the clearing. He saw that Tommy, Jason and Tanya were holding their own while Adam and Kat were busy beating down four soldiers together. Where's Kris? Rocky asked himself, looking around. He saw her standing exactly where he had left her in the middle of the clearing, but she wasn't alone. Kris was standing, head bent down, staring at the grass and her lips were moving but no sound reached Rocky's ears. Standing behind her was a soldier, sword raised to lop Kris's head off her shoulders. It was apparent that Kris hadn't noticed the enemy behind her, for she did nothing even as the sword was raised.
"Kris!" Rocky shouted even as he took off towards her as fast as his legs would carry him. Kris didn't react at all; she just stood there. The soldier was also unaware of Rocky's approach. "Kris, move it!" No response, not even a blink. Rocky was almost to Kris. If he could only reach her in time...
As the soldier brought the sword down, Rocky threw himself at Kris, effectively knocking her out of the way of the gleaming metal as it sliced downwards. The only resistance it met was the flesh of Rocky's upper arm. Rocky cried out in pain, bringing Tanya and Jason to his side immediately. Kris laid under her brother's body, now aware of her surroundings but afraid to move her brother; she didn't want to injure him further. Rocky clutched his right arm in pain, squeezing his eyes shut and trying not too moan loudly. Tanya quickly ripped off a strip from her yellow shirt and tied it around Rocky's wound, but it was quickly soaked with blood. Tanya wrapped her hands around the wound and squeezed hard, effectively stopping the bleeding but putting Rocky in even more pain.
"Is he going to be OK?" Jason asked, somewhat anxiously, kneeling helplessly beside his friend's side. Kris inched out from under Rocky's body and knelt beside his upper torso, laying his head in her lap.
"Rocky, can you hear me?" she asked, worry evident in her tone. Rocky opened his eyes and looked up into his sister's eyes.
"That'd be one heck of a pizza cutter," he joked weakly. Kris grinned in relief.
"Just take it easy. You'll be patched up in no time," she assured him.
"What about you? Are you OK?" Rocky asked, concern etching into his brow.
"Thanks to you, only a few bruises. You should have been on the football team," Kris told him, smiling. Rocky returned the smile, then grimaced as Tanya squeezed his arm harder. Tanya told Jason to go grab the empty pack. Jason got up and sprinted from the clearing, returning moments later with the pack. Tanya proceeded to rip it to shreds using Kris's knife and then tied in in layers around Rocky's wounded arm. The first few layers were saturated with blood in no time, but eventually the bleeding stopped coming through the thick cloth. Tanya let go of Rocky's arm and wiped her bloody hands on the grass while Jason and Kris helped Rocky sit up. By then, the others had finished off the enemies and were rushing over to where Rocky was sitting, looking rather haggard but otherwise alright.
"What happened?" Kat asked. Kris proceeded to explain as briefly as she could what had occurred.
"You OK, man?" Adam asked, crouching beside his friend.
"I'll be fine," Rocky assured him, and the others. "We should get moving. It'll be dark soon and we've still got a lot of ground to cover."
"We can't move you now. You've lost a lot of blood," Tanya argued, and the look that appeared on her face discouraged the others from saying anything more.
"We could camp out here tonight, but we'll have to be on the alert in case The Evil decides to send any more soldiers after us," Kris said slowly.
"But we might not have much time," Rocky protested.
"Forget it. I won't lose my brother to stubbornness," Kris said firmly. Her tone told everyone not to mess with her. "Now, we'll set up the tents just inside the tree line. That way, if anyone comes through the clearing they won't see us right away." The others moved off to retrieve their packs and started setting up the tents and a small fire pit. Kris stayed with Rocky while the others worked, but nobody really minded; both siblings had been through a lot during the past couple of weeks, they both deserved a small break.
Once the "camp" had been set up, darkness was already beginning to fall. A small fire was built, and Kat concocted a soup made from the water from a canteen, some of the dried meat, the dried vegetables from one pack and some bread and cheese for the side.
"That smells really good," Tommy commented, coming to sit beside Kat, who was stirring the pot using a stick she had found and stripped of its bark. Kat smiled at him.
"Thanks," she replied. The others had also smelled the food and had converged on the small pot that contained the food. Seven portions were dished out, although Rocky's was larger than that of the others since he had to regain his strength. Kris helped him get into a leaning position against a tree, then sat back with him and the two ate, separated from the others who were sitting around the fire in silence.
"We're sure to hit the base tomorrow," Kris said, talking half to herself.
"I think we're all ready," Rocky commented.
"I sure hope so. Do you think the others will be OK? They haven't had the same experience as us," Kris said, frowning.
"They'll be OK. Remember, we all fought Rita, Zedd, Mondo, Master Vile and Ivan Ooze. I think they can handle The Evil," Rocky reminded her.
"I sure hope you're right," Kris murmured, staring down into her soup bowl.
That night, Rocky was allowed to sleep through the night because of his injury. Kris dragged one of the tents so that is was right next to the one Rocky was sleeping in, and when she wasn't asleep but on watch duty, she positioned herself almost directly in front of her brother's tent. She knew why she felt so protective; Kris felt that what had happened to her brother had been her fault. She had been blaming herself silently all night. If only I had been paying attention! was her most used guilt trip. Deep inside, she knew that it wasn't really her fault, but she couldn't help the way she felt. Kris also knew that it was pointless to stand guard against something that had already happened, but throughout the night she stood in front of Rocky's tent, alert and ready for anything.
By morning, that anything had never come, fortunately. Kris had been on second shift, so she had gotten some more sleep. When she awoke, the others had once again already packed everything up and were ready to go after eating.
"I should have left a wake-up call," Kris joked, going to sit beside Rocky at the clearing's edge. "How are you feeling?"
"Pretty good, considering I almost became an amputee," Rocky replied, dead-serious. Kris had to chuckle at his dead-pan expression.
"I'm glad you're OK," she said, sobering up.
"We'd better get going soon. I'm not sure how long the...our bodies can last," Rocky said, correcting himself. He stood up and brushed himself off, Kris doing likewise. The others, since they had already packed everything up, finished eating quickly then the seven teens started off once more towards The Evil's headquarters.
A few hours into the journey, they stopped at a fresh stream to wash and refill their canteens. The stream was crystal-clear and only about half a meter deep. They took off their shoes and socks, rolled up their pants and waded into the stream, finding it not too cold, but not too warm either.
After washing off what they could using what was left of the empty sack, they dried off as best they could, put their shoes and socks back on and kept on walking, feeling refreshed.
"I'm glad we found that stream, I'd hate to think what would have happened if we'd run out of water," Kris remarked. She was walking once again at the head of the group with her brother by her side and the others behind them. They were walking hurriedly along a path, being cautious but not overly so. Rocky only nodded, not wanting to draw attraction to him and the others unnecessarily.
It was around two o'clock by the time that they neared the enemy base. They stood in a tight circle around a sandy patch of ground while Rocky and Kris talked quietly to one another, formulating a plan of attack.
"OK, here's what we have to do," Kris began, coming over to the sandy patch and kneeling down beside it. The others took their cue from her and tossed their packs on the ground silently. "The entire base is surrounded by a wall almost five meters high, and there are patrols that walk around every minute of the day. The only other way in is the four doors, one on each side of the fort. They're heavily guarded by armed troops, but they're our best bet of getting inside."
"We'll need a decoy, someone to bring the guards away from the door and close to the woods where they won't be seen," Rocky broke in. The seven teens looked at one another, none of them wanting to be a sitting duck.
"We'll draw straws. The person who gets the shortest straw gets to be our guinea pig," Kris said, breaking up a branch into six roughly equal pieces and one short piece. She put them behind her back in both hands, rolled her palms together to mix the twigs up, then brought them around and held them in front of her, arm extended. Six hands reached in and took six of the twigs simultaneously, leaving one for Kris. When all seven of them held out their twigs to determine who the unlucky one was, there was a slight groan from Tommy, who had tried (and failed) to conceal his reaction to his misfortune. Kat put a hand on his shoulder sympathetically.
"Well, I guess that settles that," Tommy said grimly, gripping his twig so tightly they all heard a snap of it breaking in his hand.
"Tommy, you'll run out of the woods, screaming, about having seen us approaching fast. The guards are sure to come and retain you for questioning. Before they manage to get a grip on you, run back to the woods. We'll be waiting, and we'll ambush the guards before they can cry for help," Kris instructed. Tommy nodded silently, mentally preparing himself for what he had to do. "The rest of you, hide amongst the trees; in them if you can get there. Be ready because we won't have any time to mess around. Once the guards realize what's happened, they'll want to send out an alarm. We have to stop them from doing that." Everybody nodded, realizing just then exactly what they had gotten themselves into.
"Let's go," Rocky said quietly. He and the others left their packs at that spot, memorizing the place for future reference. They took with them only what food and the canteens they could conceal safely. Everything else, including most of the rope, knives and other defense utensils, was left behind and hidden under bushes and grass. Kris and Tanya managed to get up into the lowest branches of two nearby trees after standing on Rocky's and Jason's shoulders for extra height. Then, Rocky, Jason, Kat and Adam all took up positions under bushes, behind thick trees and Rocky even managed to get himself wrapped around a tree branch, after a little jumping and grabbing had taken place. Tommy looked around to make sure that his friends were ready. Then, after saying a small prayer to whoever might be listening, he took a deep breath and burst out of the trees.
"Hey! Over here!" he shouted as loudly as he could. The guards standing at the door turned to look at him. The ones on the wall did the same. Too late to back out now, Tommy thought.
"Who are you?" one of the male guards at the door called.
"I...I saw them! They're heading this way!" Tommy shouted, neatly dodging the question.
"Who are you talking about?" the same guard demanded.
"I don't know who they are, but they're coming to destroy the base!" Tommy replied. Then he started running. The guards, three females and three males, followed him. He ran into the woods with the soldiers on his tail, hoping that his friends would be ready for him.
From where she was crouched on the tree branch, when a flash of red darted through the jungle Kris knew immediately that it was Tommy. The guards weren't far behind him.
"Where'd he go?" one of the females asked, looking around. She and the others came to a halt and looked around in wonderment. That was when the teens attacked. Kris jumped down onto a male guard, and they both went crashing to the ground. Tanya managed to down onto another male guard. The two soldiers were tied together after having their coats removed using the rope Tanya had brought for just such an emergency. Kat and Adam managed to get a female guard, Rocky dropped onto a female guard and Tommy brought down the last male. Kris, Tanya and Kat ganged up on the last female, bringing her to a halt before she could warn her comrades at the base.
"That was the easy part," Kris said as she buttoned up the navy coat over her white T-shirt. She and the others all took cover behind different bushes and trees as they changed from their pants to the pants that completed the outfit that the guards wore.
"Kris is right. Now we have to get inside," Rocky agreed once they had converged once more. "We'll have to take their masks as well." The soldiers all wore masks that covered the majority of their faces save their mouths, eyes and nose. The mask slid over the head and rested there. It held their hair in place and stayed immobile until it was taken off by the wearer, or an attacker.
"But there's six of them and seven of us," Kat pointed out. "How are we going to sneak the last person inside?" Everyone thought for a moment.
"We'll go in dressed as the guards and say that we captured Tommy. They'll probably take him to where the bodies of Myagi and Kakana are being held," Kris said thoughtfully. "Then, we'll find the dungeon and free everyone at once."
"It's a good idea. Are you up to it?" Rocky asked, looking at Tommy, who nodded.
After making sure that the pants, masks and coats were in place, the seven teens started towards the fort with Tommy between them.
At the door, they were stopped by the guards along the wall.
"Who goes there?" one of them demanded.
"We captured the guy who was bothering us earlier," Kris called back, hoping her response would be believable. Apparently, it was since the door opened. They were greeted by four guards, who took Tommy from the teens and started hauling him towards the dungeon, at least in theory that's where they were taking them. Tommy had to restrain himself from looking backwards at his friends. His friend had to restrain themselves from following the guards and Tommy.
"Good luck," Kat murmured, too softly for anyone else to have heard.
Suddenly, they were confronted by six more guards of mixed genders. Uh-oh, Kris thought uneasily.
"You guys had better go get some rest. You've been pulling double duty all week," one of the females said, looking at Adam through her mask. Adam gulped and was glad that the mask hid his face, for he was turning redder by the second. "You're right. See you later," Kris said smoothly, covering for the lack of communication that had settled over the group. As she and the others were leaving, one of the replacement guards caught her arm and drew her close to him. Kris resisted the urge to gasp out loud, and instead prayed that she was only being mistaken for someone else.
"I'll see you after my shift," he said in a low voice, his deep brown eyes boring into Kris's.
"Um, yeah. Uh, where are we meeting again?" she asked, finding her voice.
"Behind the weapons shack, like we always do," the guard replied, smiling. Kris smiled back, though her grin was prompted by nervousness.
"Right, how could I have forgotten?" she said. Before he could answer, "I'll see you then." Then she hurried after the others, who were almost to the main building inside the fortress walls.
"What was that all about?" Rocky asked Kris once she had caught up with them.
"Case of mistaken identity," Kris replied. "Know where the weapons shack is?"
"Yeah, why?" Rocky asked.
"I'm supposed to meet that guard there later, once the shift rotates," Kris answered.
"Are you sure that's safe?" Adam broke in.
"I'll be fine, especially considering I don't plan on making it to that meeting," Kris told him with a small smile. It was enough to silence the group, but that was probably a good thing as they walked into the main building. It was lined with long, wooden tables and benches. There were guards eating at the tables, laughing and talking.
"All right! We picked the best building to start at," Rocky said softly, moving over to what was apparently the servery line. They all picked up trays at the entrance, then moved along slowly until they reached the place where their trays were filled with food.
Exiting the servery, they all found a table at the back of the room where they could talk in relative privacy.
"What is this stuff?" Adam asked, prodding a lump of white stuff with his fork cautiously.
"This planet's equivalent of mashed potatoes, if memory serves me right," Kris replied, digging in without hesitation. It was enough to convince the others that the food was edible, if not even appetizing. Fortunately, none of the other guards had removed their masks when sitting down to eat, so the six teens didn't appear to be too conspicuous.
Once they were finished eating, they returned their trays to the stack that was ever-growing in the corner of the room along with several other guards, then left the dining hall without saying anything to anyone else or each other.
"I wonder where our...cabins are?" Tanya asked, looking around casually. Night was beginning to fall over the camp.
"I don't know, but we'd better figure it out before nightfall. I don't want to be wandering around here in the dark alone," Kris said. She wasn't afraid of the dark itself, just what it could hide. They wandered around until finally deciding to split up and reconvened at the dining hall in the morning at 9 o'clock. The girls followed the female guards while the guys followed the males to what they all hoped was sleeping accommodations. They were right. On opposite sides of the fort, there were long buildings that had the ability to house every single soldier of each sex inside. Inside, there were bunk beds that stood three bunks high and there were three rows, one in the middle and two on the sides with room to walk and move in between. There had to be at least ten sets of bunks in each row, and this was just in the one bunker. There were three more identical to the one in which Kat, Tanya and Kris stood at that moment. The three girls stood just inside the doorway, taking everything in. At the foot of each of the bunks, there was a wooden ladder that allowed the women to get to the uppermost bunks without having to jump, or climb over their comrades whenever they wanted to get up or down.
Suddenly, they were jostled from behind by a woman who had apparently just returned from the shower house.
"It might not be such a bad idea if we showered," Kris whispered. "I could use it." The others agreed, and went off in search of the shower house, hoping it wouldn't be too hard to find. Fortunately, it wasn't. There were several women coming back from the shower house, still damp and they had their hair up in towels that matched the ones wrapped around their slender-yet-muscular bodies. The only peculiar thing about this whole scene, besides the fact that the women apparently didn't care that the male guards could come by at any moment, was the fact that they were all still wearing their masks.
"When in Rome," Tanya muttered as the three friends walked into the shower house, which consisted of about a hundred stalls with faucets at the top that sprayed hot and cold water down on the occupants. Soap and towels were thankfully supplied in many different places, so all Kris, Tanya and Kat had to do was find an empty stall, shower, then grab a towel and dry off. The entire process didn't take long since the girls didn't want to arouse suspicion by any means. They went in and out of the shower house in less than 10 minutes, a record for all of them. Then they returned to the cabins to sleep.
The three girls managed to grab three bunks that were all on the second level together, hoping that no one would contest their claim. No one did. Apparently, there were no set sleeping arrangements. Kat was about to take off her mask when Kris stopped her after noticing that no one else had theirs off either. She told Kat and Tanya as much in hushed tones, and Kat nodded. Then they all bade each other goodnight and fell into a much-needed, if light, slumber.
Over on the male side of the fort, the guys had gone through pretty much the same routine, showering and claiming their own bunks. Their cabins were set up identical to those of the female guards'. Adam and Jason fell into a deep sleep almost immediately, but Rocky lay awake for half an hour or so, thinking and worrying about his sister. Sisters, he reminded himself, cracking a smile in the darkness. I sure hope that Tommy's all right.
Lost And Found
After his "capture", Tommy had been taken down to a subterranean level in a small building made of stone. He had been thrown into a cell and chained to the wall with his arms above his head, and his ankles locked as well. There was a small window with bars across it both vertically and horizontally to prevent anyone from escaping. There had been no light except for that of the moon, which was admittedly meager, so Tommy had no chance to survey his surroundings for a means of escape, or for danger.
Normally, Tommy would have had adrenaline coursing through his veins that would have kept him awake all night long, but now he was asleep, being dead tired after their long journey and the sleep deprivation it had brought on for all of them.
In the morning, he awoke to find his arms numb to the shoulder. He couldn't feel the shackles around his wrists, but he knew that they were there, along with those on his ankles, but those he could still feel. I wonder if the others are OK? he thought to himself, testing the chains that bound him to the brick wall. They were as solid now as they had been when Tommy had first tried that the night before. Now that there was light illuminating his temporary home, Tommy had the chance to look around and see what his surroundings consisted of. He was startled to find two bodies in the cell with him, one on his left and one on his right, both chained to the wall as he was.
"Myagi," he said loudly. "Kakana." Nothing. The bodies didn't so much as stir as Tommy's voice echoed throughout the chamber. They're probably just unconscious, he told himself as he looked at them wearily. Then, his mind switched tracks. I sure hope that the others get here soon. If these are the two that we're looking for, then we may have run out of time.
~*~That same morning, Jason, Adam and Rocky got up out of their bunks feeling much more refreshed then they had expected after sleeping in an enemy base. They jumped and climbed down from the second and third-level bunks they had managed to sleep in without being contested, then went to the dining hall to meet the girls, who were already there. Kat, Tanya and Kris were leaning against the wall casually, but when they saw the guys then went over to them, trying not to appear hurried.
"We're going to need to do some exploring today," Adam said quietly as they entered the dining hall and moved over to the servery line like they had done the night before.
"He's right. We have to find Tommy," Kat agreed softly, picking up a tray. The six teens got their food, then managed to snag the same table as they had eaten at last night.
"So how are we going to find Tommy? None of us knows the layout of the camp," Kat said quietly as they ate.
"We'll have to split up into teams of two each. We'll cover more ground that way," Kris said thoughtfully.
"Good idea. I'll go with Adam and check out the North side of the camp. Jason, you go with Kat and check out the South. Kris and Tanya, that leaves you two to search the West side, and we'll all converge on the East side when we're through," Rocky decided. They finished eating, returned their trays, then went outside and split up to look for their friend.
~*~Tommy was, more than anything, bored. He could barely move, he couldn't feel his arms and so far, the people on either side of him hadn't moved a muscle. Tommy was beginning to doubt if they ever would again, but he didn't let himself dwell on such matters. Instead, he concentrated on thinking about positive things, like getting out of the cell for example. He had tried repeatedly to break the chains that bound his arms, and when the strength and feeling had left his arms he tried to break free from the chains on his ankles, but he was unsuccessful in both attempts. And all he had received for his efforts was small cuts around his wrists and his ankles that bled enough to stain his clothing, but not enough to make him pass out from lack of blood, although that possibility was at the back of Tommy's mind.
So now, he was simply standing there, looking around and flexing what muscles he could in order to keep them from stiffening up on him entirely. I'm going to be feeling all of this when I get back home, he thought. The mere mental mention of his home back in Angel Grove was enough to sidetrack his mind. He thought of his parents and his brother, who were probably quite worried by now. They had all been gone for twelve days to date, and it would take them at least 8 days to get back to the village. Probably more since they would have two extra people with them. At least, they hoped they would have two extra people with them on the way back; Myagi and Kakana with their minds back in their own bodies.
Suddenly, the door to his cell opened and a female guard walked in carrying a large tray that had plates of food and bowls of water on it. She moved over to Tommy and offered him the water. Normally, Tommy would have flat out refused, but he was so thirsty that temptation overcame him. He opened his mouth anxiously as the cool liquid was poured into his mouth. He swallowed gratefully, enjoying the feel of the water as it slid down his throat. The water was a bit warm, but it was still the best thing that he had ever tasted. Next. the guard offered him some food that was already cut into bite-sized pieces. They sure treat their prisoners well here, Tommy thought as he ate what was offered to him.
Once he was done and the guard had put everything back onto the tray, which she had set on the ground, Tommy called to her. She turned expectantly without saying anything.
"What about them? What's wrong with them?" he asked.
"They were brought in about a month ago. I think their names are Mahgi and Lakani, or something like that," the guard replied.
"Myagi and Kakana?" Tommy prompted. The guard looked at him.
"That's right. How did you know?" she demanded, staring at him with her intense blue eyes. Tommy swallowed apprehensively.
"Um, I'm from a neighbouring village, and I've heard of them," he explained quickly. The guard seemed to accept that for a moment, and turned to leave, but she stopped in mid-stride.
"Wait a minute. You're not from around here," she said, taking in his clothing and long hair. "Who are you? Where did you come from?"
It can't hurt to tell her who I am, Tommy decided. "My name's Tommy. What's yours?"
"I'm Leelah," the guard replied, smiling shyly. "How did you manage to get stuck here?"
"Just bad luck I guess," Tommy replied vaguely, sensing that Leelah was warming up to him. Maybe I can get some information from her, he thought to himself. "Have they regained consciousness since they were brought here?" Leelah shook her head, making her long brown hair dance across her back.
"I haven't seem them awake yet. To be honest, I'm kind of worried about them," she replied. It was at that point that Tommy realized that Leelah exhibited a kind of caring that none of the others guards around the camp had. She truly seemed to care about the welfare of Myagi, and Kakana, and probably Tommy himself, though Tommy wasn't quite positive about his assessment.
"I should probably go. If I'm in here too long, the other guards will get suspicious. I'll try to find out as much as I can about your friends," Leelah said, stepping towards the door once again. At first, Tommy thought that she meant his Earth friends, but then he remembered Myagi and Kakana on either side of him, and simply nodded instead. Then Leelah left, closing the cell door tightly behind her. Tommy was once again alone with a silent Myagi and Kakana for company.
"I don't think Tommy's here," Kris said, looking around the West side of the camp.
"But we saw him being brought in here," Tanya argued, squinting in the bright sunlight.
"I mean I don't think he's right here. He's probably being held at another area of the camp," Kris elaborated.
"Oh," Tanya replied. "I think you're right. We haven't found a trace of him, or a building that looks even remotely like a jail."
"I hope the others are having better luck," Kris said.
~*~Over on the North side of the camp, Rocky and Adam were just about done searching and were ready to head over to the East side.
"We should look around one more time," Adam advised, glancing around as casually as he could manage. He wasn't quite sure exactly what he was looking for. He supposed he was looking for someplace that had bars on the windows, or heavy guards around the front entrance, something like that. So far, nothing of the sort had been found.
"Maybe you're right. I don't want to leave him behind because we were careless," Rocky agreed. The two friends moved along a pathway beside several other guards, who were moving along in both directions, talking with one another or just moving silently, lost in thought but apparently heading towards a destination.
~*~Kat and Jason were walking along a path that had been made in the grass from the constant traffic of heavy boots and lots of people over a period of who-knows-how-long. They had been drawing blanks at all of the buildings they had wanted to look in. They had found an armory, a meeting hall and another shower bank, but no jail of dungeon of any size, shape or form.
"We should head over to the East side soon," Kat said as they walked.
"You're right. The others are probably already there," Jason agreed. They turned down the next path they came to and headed for the East side of the compound.
~*~They all arrived at the same point on the East side of the compound and relatively the same time, moving at about the same speed.
"Did you find him?" Kat asked once they were all within talking distance of one another. The others waited as a female warrior clad entirely in a black form-fitting suit walked past them, carrying a tray of plates and canteens.
"No, not a trace," Kris replied. "Did any of you have any better luck?"
Rocky and Adam shook their heads in unison.
"Nothing. It's like he disappeared," Adam reported. Though it wasn't audible or intentional, there was a collective, if quiet, groan of disappointment from the entire group.
"We can't let ourselves get discouraged," Tanya said suddenly. "I mean, we haven't even checked out the entire camp yet."
"Tanya's right. Maybe we'll find Tommy here," Rocky agreed. The others simply nodded and then spread out along the East side of the compound to search for their leader and friend.
Tommy was looking out the window, idly wondering if his friends were anywhere nearby, or if they were even searching for him. Suddenly, he noticed several pairs of feet standing close to the window that was the sole source of light for his, Myagi and Kakana's cell. His heart skipped a beat as he realized to whom those feet belonged.
"Guys! Down here!" he called. The feet didn't move anywhere, but stayed in place. "Guys! I found them!" Nothing. Great, he thought.
~*~The six were in the middle of standing around, talking about where to search when the heard somebody call faintly.
"Did you hear that?" Kris asked. The others looked at her, and the call resumed once more.
"That sounds like Tommy," Kat said quietly. They started looking around casually, hoping no one else had heard their friend call out to them.
"I think he's in the building behind you," Rocky whispered in Kris's ear. Kris bent down to tie her shoelace and looked over at the wall at ground level. There was a window with bars going across it just above the grassy ground. She stood upright and told the others.
"That has to be the jail," she said.
"But how are we going to get in there?" asked Adam. There was a silence as the problem was contemplated by all.
"We could pretend that we're going in there to question Tommy," Kris said slowly, the idea only just forming in her mind. "Then we'll spring him."
"But what about the guards? There are sure to be at least two guarding the door to the cell," Jason pointed out.
"That's where the rest of you come in. Rocky and I will go in to get Tommy. The rest of you will come in when we give the signal and take out the guards. Then we can masquerade as the guards and say that we're taking Tommy out for a walk, so to speak," Kris answered. Everybody nodded in agreement.
Kris and Rocky started to go inside the building while the others moved away in separate directions. They managed to get down to the level where the door to Tommy's cell was located. When the guards at the door saw them, however, the guards raised their knives.
"Who are you?" one of them demanded.
"We're here to interrogate the prisoner," Kris replied firmly.
"He was already questioned yesterday," the guard countered.
"Yeah, well he wasn't very cooperative then. We're here to knock some sense into him," Kris said, trying her best to sound menacing. At that point, it wasn't hard.
"OK, go ahead," the guard said, moving reluctantly out of the way. The other guard opened the cell door and admitted Kris and Rocky, then shut the door behind them. It closed with a clang that echoed for a short time throughout the cell.