Disclaimer: All of the characters belong to Saban. Authors Note: This is the first part of a trilogy within a larger series (which has yet to be named or written). It is set immediately after Countdown to Destruction,Part Two. The trilogy is my tribute to Ecliptor, who was my favorite character from Power Rangers in Space. This story in particular is also dedicated to Ellen Brand, to thank her for giving us her wonderful Personality Conflicts universe (and a special bonus thanks for seeing the potential in Ecliptor's character and taking it in a different direction than the show did!).
The memories flowed back as Karone boarded the Dark Fortress one last time. All she had wanted to do was grab her few personal items from her quarters and get the hell away from this place forever. But the memories wouldn't listen.
He had been a father, the only one Astronema could remember. He had shielded her from the other villians when she was just beginning her training. He healed her wounds, physical and mental. He had been a shoulder to cry on during those few times when her icy control slipped and a scared young girl peeked out.
He had been a mentor, teaching her everything he knew. How to weave spells, though he himself had only limited ability in that area. How to turn into a blow to lessen the damage. And most of all, how to handle a weapon. She remembered how proud he was when she bested Goldar in a fencing contest...almost as proud as the first time she had beaten Ecliptor himself.
Most of all, he had been a friend. Whenever another plan against the Rangers blew up in her face, when the Psycho Rangers plotted against her, when Elgar was grinding away at her very last nerve, he was there, a soothing balm. He always backed her, always believed in her no matter what. To find a person like that on the light side would have been incredible. To find it in a fellow villain was unheard of.
But he had lied to her.
Blinded by tears, she almost missed the holocube. It was in the very bottom of one of her drawers. He had given it to her long ago, with the request that she not play it until he was gone. With all that had happened in the past few hours, she had forgotten all about it.
With trembling hands she set the cube on her bunk and pushed the recessed button on the side. The cube hummed briefly, and then there he was, full-size and looking like he was still alive...except that this Ecliptor was a pre-cyborg one.
"Identify yourself." Ecliptors' voice was calm and cold, just like always.
"Astronema. I'm glad you're still alive and well. I take it I'm dead?"
"A pity. I hope I died in battle."
She couldn't lie to him, not even now. "Actually, you died when the Red Ranger shattered Zordon's tube and released the energy inside."
A pause ensued as the cube's programming chose the most correct, pre-entered response. "Hmmm. That's one I never expected. Ah, well. I will rest well, knowing that you are carrying on the fight even without..."
"YOU BASTARD!!!!" Karone screamed at the top of her lungs. "Why didn't you tell me??!"
The pause was much longer this time. Then, "Damn. You remembered, didn't you?"
A nod was all Karone could manage.
Ecliptor sighed. "I'd hoped it wouldn't come to this. You want to know why I never told you you were Karone? Two reasons. The first was that you weren't really her. You were Astronema, through and through. Telling you would probably have been pointless."
"And the second reason?" she choked out.
"Because, if it wasn't futile, I was afraid you would leave me."
Karone stared at the hologram in pure shock. She'd expected him to say something about not wanting to lose one of Dark Specter's most valued servants, or maybe even something about not wanting to have wasted all the time and effort he had put into her training. Anything but this. He had been her friend, but he had never exactly been the sentimental type.
"I was selfish, Astronema. No, it wasn't selfishness, at least not entirely. I loved you. You were the daughter I never had. You gave my life meaning. And I would do whatever it took to keep you near me, even if it meant lying to you. Like all parents, I was afraid to let you grow up completely."
Karone's eyes were tearing up again, but this time from happiness. He had loved her. Even with all her evil. And if a being like Ecliptor could love Astronema, what would being loved as Karone by Zhane be like?
"I forgive you."
Ecliptor smiled. His face didn't-couldn't-change expression, but she could read his body language like a book, and she saw it. "Thank you, Karone. You....don't know how much that means to me."
"One final thing. I take it you've joined up with your brother now?"
"In that case, I have a favor to ask..."