As Alex fended off a Shade, the Shadow Lords watched, and one spoke up. "THAT finished off one of us? How? She's just a human."
"Because, foolish one. The one she finished off underestimated her. He thought that if he took her soulbond's shape, he'd have her. Anyway, she's a powerful Shadow Mage. Watch."
Alex raised her hands and two Shades disappeared in a flash of light. She turned and shot a second lightning bolt, and finished off two more Shades that were attacking Adam. The green ranger smiled at Alex and they returned to the fight.
"It's a shame she's on the side of light," a third Shadow Lord mused. "Imagine if we had that power on our side. What of her soulbond? Is he anywhere near as powerful?" he asked the second Shadow Lord
"Alas, no. Or if he is, I've seen no evidence in it. There he is, now." Tommy ran over to Alex, and they finished off the rest of the attacking Shades. The second Shadow Lord raised his hand and banished the image.
"Why did you show us that?" a fourth Lord, more powerful than the others, asked.
"Well, I was looking at our old laws. Did you know that there is an instance where if one manages to destroy one of our own, that person can take their spot?"
"What!?" This announcement started whispering among the other Shadow Lords and Greater Shades.
The most powerful Lord, and hence, the ruler, raised his hand, and demanded silence. When everyone complied, he asked, "Explain. How would you bring young Alex to us?"
"Her weak spot, and also her strength is her soulbond. I have a plan to capture him, and bind her to us. Then we have her powers on our side. There is one problem, though."
"I knew it!" the first one sneered, but shut up at a glance from his superior Lord.
"What is it?" the third asked.
The second Shadow Lord raised his hand, and an image of a girl with long black and white hair, and dressed in a white uniform with a purple top, appeared. There was a caliphony of angered whispers and hisses at the girl. "Shaira," the ruling Lord hissed.
"Yes, Lord. She and the other guardians are her friends, and if Shaira catches on to what we're doing, then she might be able to find a way to stop it. How can we distract her so she doesn't'?"
"Maybe WE don't have to," a new Lord spoke up. "Forgive me, but, why should we do it, when we can use the red ranger to do it for us?"
Alex and Tommy walked through the park after the movie, and Alex shivered. "Cold?" Tommy asked.
"No. It feels like someone's watching me." Alex shrugged it off as Tommy wrapped his arm around her shoulder, then Alex smiled. "At least we're not alone," she commented out of the blue.
"Huh?" Tommy asked, lost.
"Brynne, and Trey?" Alex asked. "Surely you noticed that they're acting like us? I suspect that they have a soulbond developing."
"Good luck to Trey," Tommy said, laughing.
"What do you mean by that?" Alex demanded good-naturedly. She spun out of Tommy's arm, and crossed her arms, tapping her foot. "I'm waiting for an answer, Thomas Oliver," she said.
Before Tommy could answer, a rift opened, and Shades poured out. "Great," Alex groaned. She sighed and dropped into a fighting stance. "They just wait until I'm in heels, and THEN attack,' she complained, then kicked off an attacking Shade.
A few minutes later, Alex noticed a discrepancy. Instead of focusing on her, like they usually do, the Shades were focusing on Tommy. She narrowed her eyes dangerously, and then summoned up a mage bolt. It caused the instant disintegration of half of the Shades, and the others turned to Alex, and started backing off.
"It's one thing to mess up my date by messing with me," Alex said menacingly, "but it's an entirely different cup of tea to attack my date." She raised her hand as it began to glow, and the Shades disappeared.
As soon as the Shades disappeared, Alex lowered her hand as it stopped glowing, and Tommy jokingly said, "Remind me never to make YOU mad." He walked over to Alex, and asked, "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. I wonder why they were focusing on you, though," Alex said Both teens turned at the sound of clapping to see a man dressed in black leaning against a tree, clapping.
"Lovely fight, Alex, Tommy. I especially enjoyed the light show." He stood up and walked towards the couple.
"Who are you?" Tommy demanded. The man just laughed.
"Alex finished off one of our own, Thomas. She's becoming one of us." He smiled at Alex and asked, "Or haven't you noticed, my dear?"
Alex's eyes widened, and she stepped back. "Get out of my head!" she exclaimed, then ran off. Tommy watched her, and turned back to the man, but he was gone. He turned and ran after Alex.
"Alex, Alex, wait up!" Alex stopped as Tommy caught up with her, and he asked, "What was that about back there?"
"He- he WA- was a Ha- Shadow Lord," Alex stuttered. "He- he said I was becoming like him, because I- I-" She couldn't continued and started to cry. She didn't resist as Tommy pulled her close.
"Let's go se Shaira, okay?" he asked. Alex nodded against him.
"Well, everything checks out normal," Shaira said. "Are you sure he was a Shadow Lord?" she asked Alex.
Alex sat up on the examining table on the Guardian Ship, and said, "Yeah. He felt like a super concentration of Shadow energy. Not even my strongest spells felt like that."
"Okay. I need to talk to Tommy in private, you stay right here, okay?" Alex nodded, and Shaira lead Tommy out of Sick Bay.
"I didn't find anything wrong, but that doesn't mean that there's nothing wrong, Tommy. If there's anything that worries you, bring her ASAP, okay? We can't take any chances."
"Sure," Tommy said, and they reentered Sick Bay.
"Well, I'll see you tomorrow then, all right?" Shaira asked. Alex nodded, and hopped up. Neither girl noticed the brief flash of red light in Tommy's eyes.
"Why not have him take care of Shaira now?"
"Patience. If we do it while Alex is around, she's suspect something. Besides, I want to make sure this spell is well set before we have him do anything. Tomorrow, we can have him take care of Shaira. For now, let them rest."
"I bow to your greater experience."
Shaira felt the sensation of being watched, the next afternoon as she practiced alone in the park. She paused and looked around, then shook her head. She continued with her kata, and then collapsed in a heap. Her head snapped up as someone started clapping. "Oh, it's you Tommy," she said, placing her hand over her heart. "You scared me half to death."
"Only half?" he asked in a tone that made Shaira uneasy. "That's too bad. I was hoping to scare you completely to death." With that, he lunged for Shaira. The Purple Guardian avoided him by the narrowest of margins.
"Tommy, what are you doing?" Shaira asked. Then she saw his glowing eyes and gasped. "Tommy, you have to fight this!" she cried, fending off a powerful punch. Tommy didn't reply, or at least not in a verbal way. He continued attacking Shaira, getting past her defenses easily.
When the Purple Guardian was unconscious on the ground, Tommy finally left her. When he came back a few minutes later, his eyes were normal, and he stared at the bruised and bloodied mess that was Shaira. He rushed to her side, and then said, "Zordon, this is Tommy. I need an emergency teleport to the Power Chamber!" They disappeared in identical streams of purple and red light.
When the other rangers and guardians were contacted, they all immediately teleported to the Power Chamber. Tommy was pacing angrily in the Power Chamber, and even Alex stood back. "I'm not even sure how I knew she was in trouble. I was drawn to the clearing, and there she was. How is she?" he asked.
"Who ever attacked her did a good job," Alpha said softly. "There are internal injuries, broken bones, and massive blood lost. It was a good thing you came along when you did, Tommy. If she had been left there a few minutes more, she wouldn't have had a chance to survive. I've managed to stabilize her, and we're just waiting for her to wake up."
"Why Shaira?" Jason asked.
Brynne answered before anyone else. Ticking off on her fingers, she said, "She's been teaching Alex how to control her mage powers, she's knows the most about Shades and Shadows, she's been a guardian the longest, am I missing anything?"
Alex nodded. "Plus, last night, Tommy and I had a surprised visit by some Shades on our way home. After they left, a Shadow Lord appeared, saying that I was becoming one of them, then he left. Tommy and I went to see Shaira, and she had me checked out, just to be sure. They may have been afraid that she'd find a way to reverse any changes the Shadow Lords may do."
Jason narrowed his eyes a bit, then said, "If they attacked Shaira, they may be planning on going after you soon. Alpha, Billy, is there a way we can rig her communicator to contact the rest of us if the Shades try to grab her?"
"It's possible," Billy said. "I'll get on it right away." Alex took off her communicator and handed it to the Blue Guardian. Just then, Shaira began to moan and toss.
"No, Tommy, don't," she mumbled, and the group exchanged worried looks. Tommy shrugged helplessly, and Kris said softly, "It's probably a nightmare caused by the attack, jumbling with her memories. I've been knocked over the head, and imagined that Dale was trying to play baseball with me as the ball." The others laughed weakly at the image, and no one noticed Tommy's eyes flash.
"This is working perfectly. They don't suspect a thing. Now for step two."
"What's that?" the younger Shadow Lord asked.
"We have Tommy bring Alex to us."
"Tommy, are you sure this is safe? I mean, without my communicator, what am I going to do if Shades appear?" Alex shivered and crossed her arms as Tommy smiled at her.
"Don't worry. I won't let anything happen to you." He dropped behind her as Alex continued walking along the sidewalk.
"I'm not worried about that. It's just... I was thinking about Shaira's bruises, and I remembered the one time I had a bruise similar to hers. We were sparring, and I wasn't really paying attention, and you slipped through my guard with a mean punch." Alex noticed that Tommy wasn't walking beside her and turned, and gasped as she took in his glowing red eyes. "YOU attacked Shaira!" she exclaimed.
"My masters ordered me to do it, and I obeyed. And now they want you!" Tommy lunged for Alex, but the Shadow ranger was already running. Tommy growled and ran after her, tackling Alex to the ground. "They demand your presence now!" he snarled, and picked up the struggling girl. He threw her over his shoulder, knocking the wind out of her, and then, placing one hand on her backside to keep her balanced, entered a rift that appeared, and stepped through.
Jason turned away from the viewing globe. "You were right," he told Zordon. "Tommy must be under a spell. But how do we break it?"
"I'm not sure, Jason. But what I'm afraid of now, is that the Shadow Lords have Alex. The main question should be, If they turn Alex into one of them, how do we turn her back?"
Shaira opened her eyes in the Power Chamber and felt relief swamp her. She looked around and saw the others. "Wha- what's going on?" she asked tiredly. Her friends jumped at the sound of her voice and turned as Shaira tried to sit up.
Tanya and Kat gingerly helped Shaira sit up, and Jason said, "Tommy's under a spell and has taken Alex to the Shadow Lords."
"What!?" Shaira closed her eyes and groaned. "This is NOT good." She opened her eyes and said, "Tell me everything that happened."
Tommy threw a kicking and screaming Alex into a cell, and Alex landed on her rear with a grunt, then scrambled to her feet. Tommy chuckled and closed the cell door, locking it, and Alex kicked the door, screaming a few insults in several languages, including some swear words from Photeus.
"Temper, temper," an amused voice said and Alex whirled to see a hologram of the Shadow Lord from the park. "We don't want you hurting yourself, now do we?" Alex made a biologically impossible suggestion and the Shadow Lord just chuckled. "Now, now dear child, don't fight it. You destroyed one of our own, so you get to take his place. And when your transformation is complete, your soulbond will be with you as well. What could be better than that?"
A black mist seeped out of the walls and Alex backed away. It followed her, and as she began to scream, settled over her. The mist was icy cold, and settled into her bloodstream first, turning her blood to icy. Her heart turned cold next, and then her mind went numb. Alex continued to scream as the icy mist settled into her, until she collapsed into unconsciousness on the floor.
Jason and Angela snuck down the dungeon hallway. "Are you sure this will work?" the red guardian asked.
"Well, it sounded good at the time," Angela said.
"Yeah, but Shaira was half doped up on Alpha's painkillers," Jason half-growled.
"You like her, don't you?" Angela asked.
"Uh, yeah, she's a good friend," Jason said, deliberately misinterpreting Angela's question. The purple ranger sighed and shook her head. "That's not what I mean," she said.
"Aw, isn't this cute? My best friend and my twin sister having a heart-to-heart chat," Tommy said from behind the two superheroes. They turned and saw Tommy leaning against a door, his arms crossed lazily across his chest. Strapped at his side was a sword, and he stood up, pulling it out. "All alone? Good."
"There's one thing you forgot, Tommy." Jason said.
"And what's that?" Tommy demanded. There was a soft THAWP! and Tommy collapsed into unconsciousness, revealing Shaira behind him, holding a hypospray.
"A ranger's never alone," she finished for Jason. Then she looked at Jason and Angela, and said, "Find Alex, and hurry! I'm not sure how long the trank will keep him out."
The two split up and began searching dungeon, then Angela stopped, and said softly, "I found her." Jason hurried over and tried to open the door.
"Locked. Stand back, I'll open it." He pulled out his sword and sliced off the lock. It fell to the ground and Jason opened the door. He hurried over to where Alex was lying on the floor, and picked her up.
"Guys, he's waking up!" Shaira shouted, watching Tommy warily as he started to stir.
Angela and Jason hurried out into the hallway, Jason carrying Alex, and he said, "What ever they do to turn one into a Shadow Lord, they started it on Alex."
Shaira sighed. "I was afraid of that." She bend down and shot another load of tranquilizers into Tommy, and then said, "We'll need him. Ange, could you...?" she motioned helplessly, and Angela grinned, then shouldered her twin brother. In three streams of light, they teleported out.
"You want me to WHAT!?" Brynne asked disbelievingly. "I don't know if I can do that." Everyone was in the Power Chamber, and Shaira had just outlined her idea to Brynne.
"There's a first time for everything, Bry," Hunter said. "You'll never know if you don't try."
"DO you know what they're asking of me, Hunt?" Brynne demanded. "They want me to take Tommy to the Chaos Plains. Not an Order Pocket, but the actual Chaos Plains." Hunter shivered as the memories of the place rose up in him again.
"I'll do it," Brynne said, after a few moment's silence. "They're our friends, and I have to help them. Wish me luck, all right?"
"Great luck, little sister. You come back to me, all right?" Hunter hugged Brynne then stepped back as she walked over to Trey.
Brynne opened a gate, and looked over at Trey, who was holding the still tranquilized red ranger, and nodded. Trey entered with Tommy first, and then Brynne followed. She landed on her feet lightly in the impossible land of the Chaos Plains.
Anything the imagination could create, it was there. The three rangers landed in an open-sided temple, and in the distance were what looked like houses, but Brynne knew were trees that were shaped like houses, even having furniture-like protrudences. Curls of energy swirled and played with the grass, and the sky looked like a slab of marble who's swirls had come alive, and were moving freely. There were odd disturbances, that looked as if some invisible hand had grabbed reality and warped it, proving to be Order Pockets.
Brynne raised her hand, and spoke four words. "I ask a favor!" The simple statement was enhanced by the Plains itself, and it echoed and rolled around the temple.
WHO? A voice rumbled from everywhere, carrying overtones of extreme age and power. The Chaos Plains itself responded to Brynne's plea.
"Brynne Donovan! Sister to Hunter Donovan and Silver ranger," Brynne replied.
"The Shadow Lords have tried to make our friend into a Shadow Lord and have bespelled her soulbond, a Spell Breaker. We need him free."
Brynne looked at Trey, and said, "We need him."
"They're our friends," Trey said.
"Of course, what ever you ask," Brynne said. A noise from behind them made them whirl, to see Tommy awake and standing under his own power.
"Even if it means your life?" he asked. Trey was about to lunge for him when Brynne held up her hand. "Yes," she said, simply.
"There is your answer then. But there is a price that MUST be paid." He motioned, and a dagger appeared at Brynne's feet. "To free Tommy, I need some of your blood." Brynne picked up the dagger, and sliced open her palm. Several drops hit the ground, and then Brynne's cut was gone. Tommy smiled, and said, "And Trey, as well." Brynne handed the knife to the Gold ranger, and he sliced his palm open as well. As soon as his blood hit the ground, his wound disappeared as well. Tommy smiled, and then a white mist rose out of him and settled over the drops of blood, swirling around them, picking them up, and then it surrounded Tommy again, and then sunk in.
A black cloud rose from Tommy, and then a red light flashed in Tommy, and he collapsed. The white cloud rose from the collapsed teen, and it seemed to struggle with the black cloud for dominance, and then the darker cloud dissipated into the white one. The victorious cloud whirled, becoming a miniature whirlwind, and then disappeared in a flash of light so bright, Trey and Brynne flinched back.
When Brynne opened her eyes, she was lying on a cot in the Power Chamber. Hunter was sitting beside her, and he smiled with relief. "Hey, Brynne. How do you feel?"
"Great," Brynne said, sitting up. "How are the others, though?"
"Well, as soon as the three of you made your spectacular appearance back in the Power Chamber, we had cots laid out for all three of you, and Trey and Tommy are still out cold," Hunter replied. "You're the first one awake. Alex hasn't woke up, but Zordon says that it's a good thing."
Just then, Tommy sat up with a gasp, and Kat hurried over. "It's okay," she said soothingly. "You're in the Power Chamber, Tommy. It's all right."
"No, it's not. Something's wrong with Alex," Tommy said, climbing off his cot. "I have to go to her." Kat gave up trying to insist that he stay in bed, and helped him into the next room, where Alex was lying.
Jen was bent over the Shadow ranger, frantically checking for a pulse. She looked up as the door opened, and said, "Kat, she's not breathing! All of a sudden, she just stopped breathing!"
Tommy leaned against the table, and said, "It's part of the spell that the Shadow Lords cast on her. If she doesn't turn into one of them, it kills her." He closed his eyes, and held his hand over Alex's head. His hands began to glow with a red light, and a black cloud lifted out of Alex. Tommy gritted his teeth and the glow brightened, then something eased, and the glow brightened to blinding intensity.
A black cloud was now above Alex, and Tommy focused the glow on it, and it dissipated quietly. Tommy lowered his hands, and leaned on the table heavily, sweating as if he had just run a mile. He glanced at Jen when she took Alex's pulse, and she smiled at him. "What ever you did, it worked, Tommy." Tommy relaxed and said, "I think I'm going to-" Before he could finish his sentence, his tiredness caught up with him and he collapsed to the ground, asleep.
Kat and Jen smiled, and then placed him beside Alex. Even in Alex's sleep, she turned to him, and spread a hand across his chest. Jen and Kat slipped out, leaving the sleeping couple alone.
Alex groaned as Tommy climbed off the table, and she mumbled, "Let's just go back to sleep. The world can live without us for a bit." She didn't even open her eyes, just laid on the table with her eyes closed. Tommy chuckled, and said, "We can't and you know it."
Alex sighed, and said, "I know. I had to try, thought." She opened her eyes, and said, "There's something I should take care of, though." She got to her feet, and pecked Tommy on the lips. She felt his question, and said, "Nothing for you to worry about, Tommy. It's something personal."
That had been the morning, and now was the afternoon, and Alex was standing in the Shadow Keep where all the trouble had started. As soon as it was known that Alex had come, all of the Shades had disappeared, and Alex suspected that the Shadow Lord had enemies. She entered the throne room, where the two Shadow Lords were waiting.
"Come to finish us off, Alex?" the elder asked. Alex snorted and shook her head. "No. You see, when you tried to turn me into one of you, you deposited a large chunk of knowledge of the Shadow Lords inside my head. I came to thank you." She winked, and the Lord stared at her, confused.
"Aren't you mad?" he asked. Alex shook her head. "No. You see, it'll help me and the others against your kind." She pretended to look shocked, and her hand went to her mouth. "Oops. I think I shouldn't have said that." The two Shadow Lords turned, and faced the rift that opened behind them. They started backing away, but the rift began sucking them in. Alex smiled as the rift shut behind the two unfortunate Shadow Lords, and turned away.
Tommy was leaning against the doorway, and he shook his head. "Did you have to do that?" he asked. Alex shrugged.
"I though they'd like a taste of their own medicine. They'll doubt themselves now, just like they tried to make me do. That's what most of their spell was, really. It tried to make me doubt the good inside of me." Tommy shook his head again, laughing.
"Let's go home," he said. Alex smiled and they teleported out.