Author's note: if you haven't read my disclaimer already, you're reading the wrong chapter. Tanis kicks some major ass in this chapter, but from here on in for the next two or three chapters, it's pretty dark.
Tanis rolled her eyes as Mrs. Appleby cheerfully lectured Tommy on punctuality. Due to his lousy memory, Tommy was late again. Tanis sighed in dismay. You think by now he'd remember what class he had after lunch. Tommy slid into his desk next to hers. The seat Tanis was currently occupying was formerly Kim's place. Tommy didn't seen to mind. Just then, Tommy's watch beeped. Tanis frowned, and put up her hand.
"Mrs. Appleby... I'm not feeling well. Could I go to the nurse's office?" she asked weakly. She sounded pathetic. The rotund woman nodded.
"Oh, of course Tanis." she said sympathetically. Tanis smiled slightly, and rose from her seat. She made it just past the front of the row when she fell to one knee.
"Tommy!" she gasped out, loud enough for everyone to hear. Everyone knew they were friends. He was by her side in a flash.
"Tommy, please go with her." Mrs. Appleby said worriedly. Tommy nodded, and helped Tanis out of the class.
"Now am I hot or what?" she giggled once they were out of earshot. Tommy shook his head in disbelief. Then he answered the summons that had preceded Tanis's dramatic performance.
"What's up Alpha?" he asked.
"Aiyiyi Tommy! Rocky's being attacked in the schoolyard, but he hasn't morphed. You have to help him." The little droid said.
"Rocky! No!" Tanis whispered. Before Tommy could stop her, she had morphed and vanished. Sighing, he shook his head, and followed suit.
Rocky dodged the fourth Tenga to come at him, and tried to get some room to Morph. They gave no quarter, and he figured he was doomed. Then a blur of pink flashed beside him. The Pink Ranger was beside him, a whirlwind of fists and feet. Her battle cries were soon joined by those of the White Ranger's. They made enough room for Rocky to morph, so he did. Then the three rangers wreaked havoc among the birdmen ranks. Soon, the monster appeared.
"I'll take the Tengas, you guys get that freak." White said. Pink scowled behind her helmet.
"Alright Tawny, so you wanna mock my Animal Spirit? Let's see how tough you are, pussycat." she challenged. The lionlike creature roared in answer and flicked at her with his tail. Pink surprised herself by blocking the strike with a short staff that appeared in her hands. With a little more confidence, she pressed the advantage she had just gained. Tawny clawed at her, but she batted his paw away. While White was fighting Tengas, and Pink was battling Tawny, Red felt rather useless. Then he felt something totally different. A group of tengas grabbing him. Before he could cry out, one clouted him over the head with a dagger, and he slumped. Then they all vanished, the other two rangers none the wiser.
Tanis sat on the floor of the command center, he knees drawn up against her chest.
"It's not your fault, Tanis." Billy said quietly, sitting down beside her.
"I know... but I can't help feeling this way. If I had been paying attention..." she trailed off.
"It couldn't be helped. Things like this happen all the time to rangers." he said, and hugged her kindly.
"And non-rangers, too." she said, her voice muffled.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"I mean what happened to Kat was not your fault. The same way what's happening to Rocky isn't mine. Things like this can't be helped sometimes. Kat's death wasn't your fault." she smiled through her tears. Billy nodded sullenly.
"Did Rocky tell you what my test was?" she asked abruptly.
"Uh.. No." Billy replied.
"It was hard. Dulcea made my face your friends. All of them. Jason, Zack, Trini... even Kim and Kat. I had to kill them all in order to pass my test. So I did." she said simply.
"What?!" he yelped. She chuckled a little.
"It was an Illusion. None of them were real. At first I didn't want to do it, but then the presence of Kathrine gave it away. Since she's dead, how could I kill her? So I didn't have any problems." Tanis shrugged. Billy shuddered.
Tanis sighed, and rolled over on the cot that billy had dragged out for her. He, too, was spending an uncomfortable night on another such cot. However, he was in the med lab with Tommy. The White Ranger had received numerous scrapes and bruises in his battle with the tengas. Sitting up, the Pink Ranger wandered over to the small room where Billy kept some odd belongings. There was a small fridge that Billy had installed for when he had to work overtime and got hungry. Opening it, she discovered mostly fruits, a few cans of iced coffee, and a six-pack of Jolt. She grabbed an apple and a jolt, and wandered towards the medlabs. Quietly, she nudged the door open with her foot. Both boys were still awake. Tommy was sitting on the examining table, wearing only his jeans. Billy was bandaging a particularly nasty cut on his right arm. "Is this a boys only party, or can I come in?" she asked with a small smile. Billy smiled at her, and Tommy waved her in with his left hand.
"Couldn't sleep?" Tommy asked.
"Nope. I hate to say this, but your cots suck royally." she wrinkled her nose in distaste. Tommy laughed.
"We should probably buy some new ones." Billy grimaced.
"Tommy.." Tanis began timidly. He looked at her curiously.
"D'you.. D'you think we'll get Rocky back Soon?" she asked. Tommy smiled.
"Of course. We haven't lost a ranger yet to Rita." he said. They all fell into an awkward silence. Ranger, no. But civilian, yes.
Tanis walked up to Rocky's front door, sweating a little in her Ranger armor. She had volunteered to break the bad news to Rocky's mom. She was about to knock on the door when she heard a groan from the bushed at the side of the house. Curiously, she walked over and peeked through. "Rocky!" she gasped. The red ranger lay on the grass, shirtless. His back was a mess of raw slashes, as if he'd been whipped. His entire body was one giant bruise. She laid her hand on his, and teleported them both back to the command center.
Billy gaped as Tanis and Rocky appeared on the floor.
"God Billy, help him. They damn near beat him to death." she whispered. As gently as he'd lift a child, Billy scooped the boy up and carried him into the medlab.
"Tanis, get Tommy." he ordered. She nodded, and pressed a button on her communicator.
Tommy stared down at the mess that was Rocky.
"Oh man.." he whispered. Aisha had her face buried in her hands, and she was crying softly. Tanis had broken down earlier, and was now standing dully beside Rocky, his limp hand in her own. Adam was staring at Rocky in horror.
"Rita's gonna pay for this." Tommy growled.
"You said it man." Adam replied, his voce full of ice. Tanis began to cry again, and she fell to her knees on the floor, and buried her face in her arms.
The White Ranger glared at the latest monster. It was a big ape. A direct mockery of what Rita had done to Rocky. Simultaneously, he and the Black Ranger leaped forward. Their feet smashed into Kong's face, knocking him backwards.
"Can't you do any better?" the ape asked.
"You better believe it!" Black yelled, and darted forward. He dropped to the ground, and kicked Kong in the groin. Hard. Kong bellowed in pain, and White and Yellow each kicked him in the face. Then, the pink ranger appeared, he short staff in her hands.
"This is for Rocky!!" she yelled, and proceeded to beat the crap out of Kong single handedly. When the monster was finally pulled from the battle, the pink ranger's suit was red with blood. Without another word, she teleported away. The three rangers left stared at each other in shock and dismay.
Tanis lay in her cot, staring at Rocky's heart monitor. It's beep was stead, but faint. She saw Aisha's legs as the yellow ranger walked past her. She vaguely heard Billy say something to her, and Aisha's reply. Then the black girl left again. At one point in time, she fell asleep, but it wasn't for very long.
Tommy lay in bed, unable to sleep. All he could see when he closed his eyes was Tanis fighting Kong, or Rocky's unconscious form lying on the examining table. Sighing, he sat up, and pulled out a magazine. Randomly, he flipped it open. The facing page was one of him in the White Ranger armor, with Rocky and Kim, who were also morphed. It was for a Drug Program they had supported. There was some cheesy message at the bottom, but he didn't read it. Tommy closed the magazine, hung his head, and cried quietly.
Adam sat glumly at their table at the park. They used to take picnics by the park with Kim all the time. This had been the pink ranger's favorite spot. He heard two sets of footsteps approach, then Tommy and Aisha sat down across from him.
"I can't stop thinking about Rocky..." Tommy murmured. Adam nodded.
"Me too." Aisha said softly.
"Then why don't you join him!!!" A voice shouted. The three rangers leaped to their feet. Goldar, Rito, and an insectoid monster were standing behind them.
"Get them!!" Goldar ordered. The two groups launched themselves forward, Tommy versus Goldar, Adam against Rito, and Aisha fighting Insector.
Tommy and Goldar exchanged a few hits before Tommy morphed. Then the battle went a little more evenly. The Black Ranger was basically winning against Rita's brother. The Yellow Ranger was holding her own against Insector. They just weren't really expecting to be attacked from the rear by Squatt, Baboo, and the rarely seen Scorpina. But then again, Squatt, Baboo, and Scorpina weren't prepared to be attacked by The Pink and Blue Rangers. Pink whacked Squatt over the head with her staff, and baboo grabbed the endo of it. With a mighty heave, eh flipped her over Squatt, but she held onto her staff. Pink was rather surprised to see that she didn't land on her feet as anticipated, but flew several feet while holding a sword that had been hidden in her staff. The pink blade surprised her as much as it did Scorpina, who barely dodged pink's thrust. Blue kicked Baboo int he rear, and the bumbling lackey fell onto Squatt. They both went down. However, Scorpina managed to Stab Black in the side with her sword before Pink Rammed her own blade through Insector's back. The monster fell as the Black Ranger did.
"NO! ADAM!!" Pink shrieked, and attacked Scorpina in a mad frenzy. Yellow joined Blue in fighting Squatt and Baboo, while White continued to battle with Goldar.
Goldar thrust with his sword, but the White Ranger dodged it. He rolled, and came up with the hollow tube that Baboo had discarded. White swung it at Goldar like a baseball bat, and caught him in the chin with the tip. Goldar shouted in pain. Encouraged, the White ranger pressed his attacking advantage. Probably why he didn't see the self healed Insector creeping up behind him.
The Blue Ranger looked up as his friends pain filled scream echoed across the park. He watched as the White Ranger's limp body slid off of Insector's claws. Pink screamed in fury again, and in a single swipe, ended her current battle. Scorpina's head flew off into the bushes as her body collapsed. Then Pink whirled on Insector. "LEAVE HIM ALONE!!!" she shrieked, and attacked furiously. Once she was finished, Insector's decimated carapace burst into flames. Pink dismissed her sword, and put a hand on Tommy's shoulder. They teleported away, followed by Aisha clutching Adam, and then finally billy.
"Well... it sort of worked." Rita shrugged.
"We lost Scorpina." Goldar said quietly. Zedd shrugged.
"She wasn't very useful any ways. She made excellent cannon fodder." he said blithely. Goldar restrained his anger. Barely. He vowed to get even with the Pink Ranger.
Tommy, Adam, and Rocky all lay on bed's in the Medlab. It was starting to get crowded. Tanis kissed Rocky's fore head, then Adam's.
"Well... that's three down. Billy, you have to watch over them, that makes four. I guess it's up to us now Aisha." she said quietly. "NOT QUITE, TANIS. I HAVE TAKEN THE LIBERTY OF SUMMONING ASSISTANCE FOR YOU. YOU GIRLS WILL NOT HAVE TO FIGHT ALONE." Zordon Boomed. Three streaks of white appeared, and when they vanished, Tanis saw three people she had once Ruthlessly slain.
"Jason.. Trini... Zack.." she whispered.
"You called for us Zordon?" Jason asked.
"YES JASON. TOMMY, ADAM, AND ROCKY HAVE ALL BEEN SERIOUSLY INJURED. WE NEED YOU THREE TO BECOME RANGERS AGAIN." Zordon explained. Jason nodded.
"But we need three boys. I'm a girl." Trini pointed out.
"THAT IS NOT A PROBLEM." the giant head stated. Trini shrugged.
Jason took a deep breath, and looked at the coin in his hands. To be holding the red powers again was great, but not at the cost of Rocky's pain. Zack was having a hard time concealing his delight at being the Black Ranger again. Trini was somewhat bewildered by her assumption of Tommy's position as leader.
"Why me Zordon? Why not Jason?" she asked.
"JASON IS MORE FAMILIAR WITH THE RED POWERS, AS IS ZACK WITH BLACK. YOU ARE EASILY ADJUSTED, AND AN INTELLIGENT PERSON. WITH JASON AS YOUR SECOND IN COMMAND, I'M SURE YOU WILL BE A COMPETENT LEADER." The floating head stated.
"He's sure... but I'm not..." Tanis murmured to Aisha.
"Trini's a great person. She'll do fine." Aisha whispered back.
"Whatever you say..." Tanis replied, unconvinced.