Time had passed since the earth was in danger from the outside. No Rangers had faced the minions of evil in battle for many years and the battles of space were distant memories to some and nothing to others. Those who had once defended in secrecy now lived lives much more mundane . . . in comparison. All that was left of those days of valor and danger were memories . . . .
"So, a man and a woman
forked out a baby
and the prince of dysfunction
boy on a string
from the suburban palace
he walked out to freedom it led to a concept in the world of a king."
World of a King by David Mead.
A lone figure darted across the bar with three others in pursuit as he headed for the exit. He skidded to a halt as a big man in a battered duster and mirrored shades entered the bar, effectively barring his exit. The big man smiled menacingly, "Are we going somewhere?"
The lone figure didn't even dignify that question with an answer as he quickly scanned the room. He barely paused as he leapt to a nearby table and then another avoiding his pursuers. He saw his target as he jumped to one last table, but as he landed he felt the table begin to shift beneath him. A brief flash of panic flickered on the edge of his calm and he didn't even think as he hopped to the top edge of the upending table. Adam felt adrenaline rush through him as his feet touched the edge of the upended table and he leapt upward. Adam flipped as he easily vaulted onto the second story railing. He lightly hopped down and breathed a silent sigh of relief as he headed down the walkway.
He stopped as he reached the end of the corridor. 'Something is wrong. It's too quiet.' He walked back to the railing and saw everybody staring up at him. "What? Wasn't it a good take? I know the table wasn't supposed to spill, but . . . " He trailed off as it finally dawned on him what was wrong. 'I'm on the third story landing, not the second. What in the heck?'
As he cleaned up after the shoot, he kept going over his miraculous leap. 'That was weird, well I guess that's what adrenaline can do for you. At least that's what everyone else is saying . . . a good take though. But it didn't feel like adrenaline . . . it felt familiar. Only a couple more days left to the shoot anyway.' He pushed these thoughts from his mind as he headed home for the day. The rest of the shoot went well and in a few days he was home.
When he awakened the day after his return, he went through his morning ritual of dynamic stretching and kata. This was something he no longer did in front of others, always alone in the morning sun. This was where he let go and didn't worry about what others thought, this was just the moment and the kata. He was calm as he flowed from one move to the next. Graceful and powerful, each move was seeming perfection with no wasted energy. As he worked, he felt in tune with the world around him. Then he began to move his focus inward and as he did so his kata became more intense. He breathed calmly as if the activity was nothing more than a simple walk. As he felt himself flow with the movements he felt a familiar feeling rush through him and he heard a voice from within, "Young Prince, it is good that you have returned."
Adam was startled and gracelessly dropped from his kata, 'Wha?,' and as he looked down at himself. 'I'm . . . I'm . . .' He floundered mentally as he took in his appearance, for once more he wore ninjetti black. 'No, it's not.' This outfit was different, it lacked the white diamonds and golden frog he was so accustomed to. Yet it was not bare, in dark silvery, grey thread the frog sat proudly on his chest and stylized frogs form patterns around his forearms. At his waist was a dark metallic belt that seemed to follow a frog through its leap. As he looked closer, he noticed that not even the black was solid, more of an off-black, and it too was worked with a pattern of foliage and frogs of different types. 'Wow. This is wiggy . . . Am I really a ninjetti again?' He sat and calmed himself, falling back into his meditation and reaching for that familiar place inside.
"What Young Prince, do you doubt your eyes and soul?" came a laughing voice.
This time Adam was prepared and held to his calm, "A little," he replied sheepishly. "I thought that I had lost you? I mean the coins were destroyed . . . "
"Did you have the coins when you met me? Hmm . . . no, my link was forged to your soul, you confused your powers with what was within."
"But I lost the powers and you were gone, I mean it's been years . . . "
"Years yes, but gone never, it was a shock to you to lose the coins and in pain you locked yourself away from me, but I knew you would return."
"But . . . uh . . . How did my outfit come back, why is it different?"
The Frog laughed once more, "So many questions, Young Prince. You have made yourself ninjetti once more, you are not an apprentice in a uniform, you are the ninjetti you have made yourself. New gifts shall be yours, but you must learn them."
A thought came to Adam, "Will the others come back too?"
Silence greeted him, "If they can find the path."
"What?" Adam paused, "Do you think they will?"
The Frog sounded sad, "As it stands now, no, they will not."
"Can I help?" interjected Adam hopefully.
He sighed, "I do not know." He paused once more, "But now dwell on happier things, you are ninjetti," the Frog laughs once more, "enjoy it for a while. Your path is your own, let it take you, or you it, where it will." He chuckled, "And may the power protect you."
I've watched the stars fall silent from your eyes
Oh, the sights that I have seen
I can't believe that I believed I wished
That you could see
There's a new planet in the solar system
There is nothing up my sleeve"
-Great Beyond by REM.
Adam sat in the empty bleachers and watched the cars race around the track.
'Not where I expected to end up was it?' He thought bemusedly to himself as he waited. He had intended to take a vacation after the movie so he could wait to see how it did at the box office, but this wasn't it. Now, he smiled sadly as he remembered those final days as a Ranger, when Tommy decided that he would like to race professionally. 'Well, he's not Jeff Gordon, but he's not doing that bad.' Adam rose from his seat and headed down toward the track as the race ended. He waited for the din to settle and began to yell for Tommy. 'Hopefully he'll remember I was supposed to meet him.'
He waited patiently as one of the racers made his way toward the stands and began to pull off his helmet. "Hey Adam, it's good to see you man," grinned Tommy as he removed his gloves and ran his fingers through his short hair. "I haven't heard from you in so long, how's it going?"
'He doesn't look different with that short hair. Same old Tommy.' "Pretty good, just wrapped a movie, just a little one, but I starred. It was very cool."
"Great, wanna get some lunch and talk? Just gotta let me get cleaned up real quick, but when I saw you in the stands I had to come by first. Where do you want to eat, oh, you're not from around here, uh, there's this place not far from the track called Oz's . . . "
"The place with the big green sign? Yeah, I saw it, how could I miss it? Sure I'll meet you there." Adam watched Tommy go, 'What am I looking for? Do I just go, 'Hey, look at me I'm a ninjetti!' and go from there?'
Adam watched Tommy as they ate, they'd been catching up on current events, but Adam decided that now was the time to get to business. He dropped his voice conspiratorially, "You remember when we became ninjetti?"
Tommy grinned and leaned closer, "Yeah, on Phaedos with Dulcea," he laughed, "Yeah Kermit, I do." Adam smiled hugely. 'That's more true than you know.' "Can you feel it? Do you ever want it back?"
Tommy's grin vanished, "It's gone, Adam. We're not Rangers and we won't be. We're not needed anymore."
"Does it matter if we're needed? We were Rangers, which was great, but do you think we just really left it all behind? I mean look at you, you're almost 30, but you look almost as young as you did when we were Rangers. From the pictures I've seen of Kim she's doing that well too." 'Shit, why did I have to say Kim?' Adam mentally berated himself as he saw Tommy's expression become grim.
"Adam, you need to stop living in the past. It's over. Deal. I have and I think everyone else has too."
'He's too bitter and he won't let himself have . . . it. I just can't feel it. Is this what Frog meant?' He sighed, "Tommy, it's just a possibility, an errant thought if you will," Adam trailed off as he noticed the stubborn look on Tommy's face. 'Where are Rita and Zedd when you need them?' "Well," he paused, "if you don't want to talk about it . . . How about we just forget about this conversation and just be old friends for the few days I'm in town?"
The next few days passed uneventfully with the two old friends catching up, but Adam's attempts to help Tommy rediscover his ninjetti side were in vain. 'I think he'd put so much of himself into being a Ranger for so long that when he gave it up, even willingly, he had to shut it out . . . and that part of himself. He doesn't even do martial arts anymore. The stubbornness that made him such a determined leader is now working against him.' He sighed to himself as he waited for the taxi to reach his next destination: Red Dragon Martial Arts. 'At least he could tell me where Rocky and Jason were, hopefully they'll be more open.' He sighed once more 'I just 'feel' that the 'time problems' make it impossible to bring Aisha back, so that's another no go.' He frowned slightly, 'And Tommy didn't even know Billy was back from Aquitar . . . that was odd. I mean I've only been able to talk to him a couple of times and get a few letters because of my schedule, but . . . And Tommy couldn't stop from berating me for my 'fixation with the past.' He pulled himself from his thoughts and smiled as the taxi pulled up to a converted warehouse 'At least someone kept true to the old dreams.'
He smiled as he grabbed his bags and walked into the dojo, taking in the sight of students young and old going through kata and exercise. He scanned the room and stepped off to the side to watch class for awhile. As he's looking at the trophy case, he hears a familiar voice from behind, "Looking to learn about martial arts?"
He didn't turn as he replied, "Oh, I don't know. I mean what could you teach me . . . " Adam spun around with a grin, "Monkey-boy?"
"Adam," Rocky shouted enthusiastically as he reached forward and grabbed Adam in a bear hug. "I haven't seen you in forever, how are you? What have you been doing? Are you still in Martial Arts? Where have you been?" the questions just poured from Rocky as he guided Adam toward his office. Then he turned with a mischievous grin on his face and put a finger to his lips, "Shhhhh."
He leaned into the office, "Hey Jase, we got a new student, he doesn't look like much . . . " Rocky paused as Adam elbowed him in the ribs, "but I think he has some possibility."
Adam watched expectantly as Jason walked out of the office with a confused look on his face, "Uh, Rocky that doesn't . . . Adam! Man, good to see you." He extended a hand which Adam accepted, "So you've finally got around to coming to see us."
Adam grinned sheepishly, "Actually I had to ask Tommy where you were, the last letter I got was for the opening of your old schools. I've just finished work on a project and I'm taking a long awaited vacation. I decided to see how everyone was doing. You said that if I came you'd let me crash with you and if the offer's still open I'll accept."
Rocky beamed at Adam, "Yeah it is. Let me show you around the school and when we shut down you can stay at my place."
'Should I?' Adam wondered for the umpteenth time as he watched Rocky and Jason spar. His stay had been fun and he quickly found what had been missing from Tommy. There was a sense of the power that hung over Rocky. When Adam closed his eyes, he could feel the mist and mountains about him, all aglow in red. He also understood why Rocky would never rediscover the ninjetti powers on his own: it just wasn't in his nature. Rocky had always been very emotional and exuberant with little focus on the internal, so while he'd kept his connection, he'd just never made it back.
'Should he?' was another question that plagued Adam. 'Tommy needed it to heal, but he shut himself off and built walls against it. Rocky is perfectly happy here, he enjoys what he is doing so much. He likes the martial arts and he loves working with the kids. I mean just look at the way they light up when he comes around. Jason may be the respectable teacher, and the kids like him too, but he doesn't have that way that Rocky has.'
He paused to watch Jason for a moment 'He made a good partner for Rocky, it was amusing that both had decided to stay in Angel Grove and open Dojo's. For a short time they were inadvertent competition for each other and then they decided that maybe they should just join forces. Under the banner of their common Ranger past they started a new school. Well it worked.' He's interrupted from his musings as Rocky yelled, "Hey Adam, wanna spar?"
Adam looked at him and shrugged, "Well it's been awhile since I've worked out with anyone else except on a set." He got up and headed for the mats, "Don't hurt me too much," he quipped to Rocky.
Rocky just stuck his tongue out to the amusement of many of the students watching. Jason sighed and rolled his eyes heavenward, "You know you are supposed to be a role-model," he sighs once more and shakes his head, deciding 'why bother?'
Jason was actually eager to watch this match. He'd been watching Adam since they'd convinced him to do a kata for the class while he did his 'morning workout,' Jason had the distinct impression that there was also an 'evening workout' as well. He'd probably see that later, but he also felt that he wasn't seeing it all. 'It feels like there should be more, but man, that was impressive.' Adam had just done a simple kata, one that Jason had seen him do in their ranger days, but . . . 'It was amazing. It was powerful, fast, graceful, and easy. I think Adam may still be selling himself short after all these years.' He turned his full attention back to the impromptu sparring match.
Well, what he thought would have been a sparring match 'Damn! That was quick.' He'd watched as Rocky launched an attack to test Adam, which Adam easily blocked. Then he stepped up his attacks and each time it was met with a block. Adam easily stayed on the defensive 'Rocky was pushing hard and Adam wasn't even breaking a sweat. Rocky's no lightweight, I've sparred with him too much. I wonder if Adam thought Rocky was still playing nice.' Regardless of what Adam was thinking, he suddenly lashed out with a fast round kick 'It was so fast, it looked like something you'd throw to tap someone. Man, if Rocky hadn't been knocked on his ass, I would have thought it was a tap.' He shook his head as he watched Adam help Rocky up, stammering apologies all the while. 'Adam, you've definitely been practicing.'
He walked over to them, "Well, Rocky I think you went a little too easy on him." He winked at Adam, "Or maybe you're just getting old."
The look Rocky fixed on him could melt glass.
"Well Adam, while the old man here recuperates, do you want to spar me? Though I won't go as easy on you as Rocky did," Jason smiled cheerily at Adam 'Well this should be an experience.'
"Are you sure you're okay?" Adam looked at Rocky worriedly.
"Yeah, just a lucky shot," 'I now know what they mean when they say, 'kicked by a mule,' ouch'
"Just knocked the wind out of me, I'll be fine," 'After a few weeks in intensive care.' Rocky winced inwardly as he sat to watch Jason's turn 'Probably going to get his ass handed to him' That thought brought a smile back to Rocky's face. He patted Jason on the back, "Have fun."
From his position as spectator Rocky got a great view of the next match, and so did everyone else in the building: after Rocky had gotten creamed everybody was watching Adam and Jason. It didn't even start the same: Jason kept his fighting stance as he slowly circled Adam. Adam stood there totally relaxed, only turning when Jason's movements would take him behind.
They both watched each other intently, Jason looking for some inkling of what Adam was going to do, and Adam for something else. 'He does glow! Not as bright as Rocky, but it is there. Potential? Or residual?' A bemused grin appeared on his face as the glow seemed to flare slightly 'And here it comes . . .' Jason's attack was sudden, no outward sign had tipped Adam off, but he knew. Air met Jason's attack as Adam dropped to the floor then sprang up lightning fast and leapt straight up for a sudden tap through Jason's guard to his head.
Jason felt a flash of relief shoots through him as Adam lightly tapped him on the head 'At least he has more control this time.' Jason distantly heard Rocky's groan, but didn't give it much thought as he tried to figure out what to do next. "Good one Adam," he said as they continued to circle. 'He's so fast and strength is just going to get me slammed.'
'Well if I'm going to fight ex-rangers, this could be handy' Adam grinned to himself. 'Maybe I should just take the offensive?'
Jason watched as a grin appeared on Adam's face, then he frowned as Adam suddenly shrugged to himself 'wha . . . ' The thought didn't get much further as Adam's sudden assault forces him on the defensive. He blocked and dodged as fast and furious, but he kept feeling those light taps zip through his defenses. 'Oh boy. I'm getting trashed. I don't even see some of those attacks. I need something.'
This went on for a little while. Adam was having fun, but it had to come to an end. ' Jason's looking like he's been running a marathon, and I didn't mean to go off like that. Well . . . ' He debated for a moment, then carefully opened a hole in his defenses, slight, but a hole none the less.
'How long has this been going on?' Jason wondered as he felt himself begin to tire. Usually his workouts were longer, but this blitzkrieg was draining. 'Wha . . . ' Jason just reacted as he perceived an opening and attacked. He watched in shock as Adam is knocked flat on his back and nimbly rolled up.
"Good one Jase, I thought I had you," he grinned as he went to towel himself off.
The class broke into applause as Jason grabbed his towel 'I didn't touch him, I came close but there was no contact.' He shook his head in disbelief 'Well, he . . . , I guess it's his job to make it look convincing, if I wasn't the one doing the hitting I wouldn't know either.' He looked at Adam, "Yeah that was the most intense workout I've had in a long time. Hey, come to the office, I'll snag you a juice." He turned to Rocky, "Hey, Old Man, why don't you take care of the class for a while? I want to talk to Adam while I recuperate."
Rocky grinned and started to get the class to settle back down into its usual pattern.
Once they were in the office, Jason closed the door and headed to the fridge in the corner. As he rummaged around, he began talking, "That was some match," he shook his head, "What kind of juice? Are you still a grape fan?"
"Yeah it was a great match and yeah, grape is good."
Jason tossed it to him and raised an eyebrow as Adam didn't even look at it as he snagged it out of the air. "But I have a question, why did you let me win? I mean, it looked like I nailed you good, but I didn't even touch you. You gave me that opening, didn't you?" He looked at Adam intently.
Adam blushed and stammered, "Well I couldn't beat you in front of your school, I didn't know that I could do that. I just did. It's different now," he shook his head and began pacing 'Should I?' He stopped and looked at Jason, "Okay, I'm going to tell you some stuff, but it doesn't leave this room okay?"
Jason nodded in assent and Adam continued, "I had been intending to come see you guys when I was done with the shoot, that's true, but something else came up." He paused and stared at Jason intently. 'Yes, this is right.' "I was working on the wrap up of my last project when a slight accident happened. I was supposed to leap from top of this table and grab the second floor railing in this bar. No problem, I could actually grab the bottom of the railing from the table, it just looked impressive," he shook his head, "But something went wrong and the table tipped, a screw came loose, and I didn't think, I jumped to the edge of the table and leaped up, it was graceful and impressive, I've seen the footage, and I landed lightly on top of the railing. The only weird thing? It was the third floor railing. I'd leapt up a story, impressive huh?"
Jason waited patiently sensing that this was more rhetorical than anything. Adam started once more, "When it happened I felt something, something that was familiar and I couldn't place it. Well once the shoot was over, I went home and took some time to wind down and all. But the next morning when I did my morning workout, well I found that feeling again." He closed the blinds to the office then he stopped and gave Jason a soul-searching stare, "It was the ninjetti power."
Jason stared in shock 'The power?' It was not what he had been expecting. His mouth worked for a moment and he managed to blurt out, "Are you sure?"
Adam looked at him bemusedly, "Not at the time, but . . . " he trailed off and glowing black tendrils seemed to start at his feet and weave together in the blink of an eye, leaving Adam's new ninjetti outfit in its place. "I think that it's a definite possibility." He grinned lopsidedly at Jason, "and as long as I'm into blacks and greys, I have infinite wardrobe possibilities." He winked as the tendrils flash out again and leaves him standing in a black suit. "Guess black really does go with everything."
A shocked laugh burst from Jason and Adam joined in 'That went over well.' Adam raised his hand and the light seems to seep back into him, leaving him back in the casual clothes he wore earlier. "But I'm not really here to show of my excellent fashion sense."
Jason nodded at Adam, "You're checking to see if you can teach Rocky?"
Adam nodded, "That's why I came, but I just don't know. I mean I talked to Tommy, but he's lost," he shook his head sadly, "and I can't be sure if it's the right thing to do for Rocky. I mean I think it's great, but I have a feeling . . .," he shook his head, "He's very happy here, do I want to risk that? Can I? What right do I have?"
"I don't know, why don't you ask him? Why tell me?"
Adam ran his hands through his hair frustratedly, "I feel that if I start it now, it has to finish, whether I'm here or not." He paced deep in thought, "Jase, I'm not going to tell him. Not yet." He sighed, "I'm not having any luck with this am I?"
Jason shrugged 'He's made his decision.' "Well I don't think Tommy counts, he barely talks to me anymore. You're right he's slowly shutting us all out, and as for Rocky, well you're the ninjetti, not me. That's all your call."
"Thanks, I've needed someone to talk to. It's been hard not to just yell it from the rooftops, y'know?"
"I remember that feeling," Jason shook his head fondly, "Those were good days."
"Now about that fight . . . ," Jason restarted the original conversation.
Adam looked embarrassed, "I hadn't sparred anyone in so long, I stood there against Rocky and I didn't feel . . . different . . . y'know in the zone?" He waited for Jason to nod, "Well then he attacked and WHAM, he was down. And it dawned on me that I didn't feel different, because I was in the zone already, been in it . . . ," he trailed off searching for the right words.
'Ninjetti . . . this boy is kicking ass and taking names!' "Isn't that the goal of martial arts?" replied Jason with the reasoned tone of an instructor. "You're getting there, now you just have to keep working." 'He's already started the next race actually.'
night is my companion
and solitude my guide,
Would I spend forever here
and not be satisfied."
-Possession by Sarah Mclachlan.
Someplace far away. . .
A lone cloaked figure moved through ancient buildings, as silently as the wind that whispered through empty halls. Checking rooms and halls that have been empty for so long. Going through a task that once gave purpose, but now seemed hopeless and barren. 'Such is my life' The figure sighed to herself 'So much lost, when am I to join them?'
She moved through empty rooms that spoke of ages past, yet no dust marred them and all sat ready for the next guests . . . guests that never came. Braziers lined the halls and sat in the rooms, though no one had attended them for so long they lit as she went by. She passed a dining hall, bedrooms, and many others without pause, but stopped at one room. 'Should I?' She sighed as she pushed open the great doors and enters. She searched the room, her eyes running over books, scrolls, and even tablets, until they came to rest on the main table and the lone scroll on top of it.
'Must I torture myself more?' she thought as she opened the scroll once more. 'Such hopes lost in a shower of golden dust.' She looked to the scroll, it is long, yet she knew it by heart. She only hoped that something has changed, that something was missed. She started to read the lines that had been her guide for so long and now left her rudderless in the seas of time.
"Those who were great shall fall,
one shall hold true,
Time shall wipe clean their transgress,
one shall hold true
When all is forgot,
one shall hold true,"
Her eyes stare at the last line without reading, 'I have held true, I thought he was the one, but now....' She closed the scroll and the last line, the one that now was a cruel joke echoed through her mind:
"One shall seek what was once sought,
the Dark Prince shall hold true."
Jason watched in fascination as Adam goes through his evening workout. 'He does this twice a day?!' After much badgering Adam had decided on his last night there to allow Jason to watch him work out. He had seemed nervous, right until he started: then he was calm and collected.
Jason shook his head in bemusement 'No wonder he never broke a sweat.' He watched Adam move through the intense movements 'He's better than me and he doesn't even know it.' He blinked as Adam performed a couple of leaping maneuvers that defy logic and gravity 'Man, frogs can sure hop!' He'd actually had Adam show him a couple things 'He'd had to pass it off as well my style doesn't have anything like this instead of where the hell did you learn that!' He was impressed, there was no doubt about it, Adam had been spending all that time alone learning from those around him. 'In the end his shyness had become an asset. He was able to try his own ideas and make his own decisions without interference. When I asked him what style, he just shrugged and said 'Dunno, my own I guess, little of this and that.' I'd even seen a couple of my old moves in there.' They'd had fun and Jason had been able to give Adam an exact location for Kimberly, but he too had no idea Billy was back. He'd had to tell Adam that he hadn't seen him either, but maybe Kim had. 'If not he could always check with Trini.'
all this talk of time
Talk is fine
But I don't want to stay around
Why can't we pantomime, just close our eyes
And sleep sweet dreams
Being here with wings on our feet"
-Great Beyond by REM.
'Two down, two to go' thought Adam as walked up the path to the gymnastics academy where Kimberly taught. After her success in Pan-Globals, she'd actually made the Olympic team for 2000 and brought back silver. In the 2004, she qualified again ' Though there was a big fuss about her age' And brought back gold. Now she was teaching for a living and doing quite well for herself 'I'm amazed that she doesn't have her own school by now.'
Adam walked into the main building and after a quiet chat with the receptionist waited for Kimberly to appear. He doesn't wait long as a slight figure bounced up and gave him a hug, "Adam, you look great!" She went on to show him around the school and let him watch while she taught a couple classes.
After a couple days of him watching classes or talking about old times, Kim led him to her private apartments. She opened the door to her small building, "Home, sweet, home. Want something to drink? How's tea?"
He nodded and watched as she bounded out the room 'Guess she's happy to see me.' She smiled at him as she handed him a glass of tea, "It's good to see you, stranger. But you still haven't told me what brought you to my neck of the woods?"
"Oh, not much. Finished my job and decided to take a long awaited vacation, thought I'd see how everyone was doing. Just finished talking to Jason and Rocky, can you believe they're in business together?"
"It's nice, though I'm amazed at how well those two get along."
"Yeah, it was fun." Now after only a little concentration he saw the pink glow that surrounded Kimberly and the impression of ponds and clouds 'Stronger maybe . . . ' "Well, tell me about how you're doing, I've seen all the articles but . . . "
"You want to know if there are any other juicy happenings," she beamed, "Well you've heard about the Pan-Globals and the Olympics. I kicked majorly, I was a bit . . . ," she sighed, "After that not much. I teach."
She lapsed into silence and a sad look crossed her face. During these last couple days he'd noticed these occasional lapses when she was training or talking. The only time she seemed totally like her old self was when she was going through routines or hanging with him. 'Something has her down and I want to know' "You don't sound happy," he ventured hesitantly as she looked up at him, "Well you don't," he finished lamely.
She paused and looked at Adam searchingly as he began to study the carpet, "You always noticed everything, didn't you?" She sighed again, "I don't compete anymore, I can't. Not because I don't want to, but do you remember all the furor of the '04 Olympics because of my age?" Kim didn't wait for an answer as she began to pace, "Gymnastics is something I love, but it's a sport for young girls, not young women. I teach, but it isn't the same . . . I want to do it and not just by myself or for myself. And I can't, not without a media circus or more allegations of steroids, hormones, drugs, and whatnot. It's just not worth it."
Adam watched for a moment as a tear began to slip down her cheek, then he hesitantly stood up and gave her a supporting hug. 'I never thought of that. Our blessing it seems is double sided.' He paused as a feeling of rightness passed through him, "Hey, I've got something . . . neat to show you. It'll definitely make your day."
She wiped her eyes and looked at him expectantly, "Neat?"
He grinned hugely, "Well it is." 'I don't know why I'm doing this.' He shrugged and morphed into his ninjetti outfit.
"Ohmygod," slipped out before Kimberly could stop herself.
"You know people keep reacting to me like that . . . Is it my cologne? ," Adam quipped mischievously.
"Just try to calm yourself and focus on . . . ," Adam trailed off and sighed. 'We've been trying this for a week and she's not making any progress.' He watched as Kimberly once more tried to reach a meditative state. 'Maybe this isn't the best way?' "I'm sorry Kim, but I think I'm doing this wrong." 'Meditation and kata worked for me, but is it the only way? I don't think I'm wrong about Kim and she needs this. She's out of place in her chosen place, odd thought. How? Duh!' Adam groaned out loud and Kim looked at him startled, "No, it's not you, it's me, I thought about this wrong," he explained sheepishly, "This should not be me 'teaching' you but me helping you. If I know you . . . ," he shook his head. "Well, I've kept you away from your gymnastics long enough, I need to think about this for a few minutes, okay?"
Kim frowned at him for a moment and then got this 'little kid out of class' grin on her face as she headed to the mats. As she began a routine, Adam pondered over his new revelation'Um, Frog can you hear me?'
He heard a chuckle, "You're right, work with it, my Young Prince," and the chuckle became a full throated croaking laugh.
Adam mentally stuck his tongue out at his spirit animal and the laughing became harder as it started to fade away.
'The crane is graceful and agile, I forgot in my haste to help Kim. I used meditation and Kata, because it was natural to me. I cannot force it on her and expect it to work, she has her own way of being in tune with . . . ah, there it is!' He blinked as the light pink glow that surrounded Kim began to flare as she dropped ever more into her workout. 'This is her. Now how to use this?'
He thought about it for a few minutes as Kim continued her workout. As her workout started to hit its peak, he began to speak softly and soothingly as she gracefully flew across the mats. "Remember you are the crane, a bird in flight, holder of the pink powers, feel them burn inside you," he watched Kim intently as he spoke. 'I sound like Yoda, Use the force Kim.' "Think of those you care for, for that has always been your strength." As he said this, Kim's 'aura' of pink glow more brightly. 'YES! Paydirt!' Adam did a little internal victory dance as Kim's routine became a little more impressive. "Be brave, fly true." 'Man, I sound weird.' He paused as a wave of certainty washed over him and he felt his voice rise, "Fly free! You are the Crane, graceful and agile!" As he said this, he felt his power flow through him and a black spark seemed to start a pink blaze.
once upon a time I was nobody's fool
(once upon a fool)
two jobs and showing up for school
I guess it comes apart so little by little
you don't know your there till your stuck in the middle
I try not to care I would lose my mind
running 'round the same thing time after time"
-Cold Beer and Remote Control by the Indigo Girls.
Adam walked through Stone Canyon with a spring in his step. After his success with Kim he told her that he really needed to find Billy and she knew where he was. It seemed that she had been talking to him on the phone for the last couple years, but she was a bit worried: every time she tried to visit him something came up. She was getting the impression that Billy didn't want to see her and with her schedule she couldn't just up and leave to go visit him. 'Well, I can.' Adam was a bit surprised to learn that Billy was living in Stone Canyon, yet he never took the short walk or ride to see Rocky and Jason. 'Something is up, but what?'
He shrugged as he walked toward the house that Kim told him about, it was easy to find-only a couple of blocks away from his old house. 'Well here goes' thought Adam as he knocked upon the door. He waited and didn't get an answer.'I hope he's home.' He knocked again and out of the corner of his eye he saw the blinds move slightly, he reached out and . . . 'Blue!' He knocked on the door again, "Billy, I know you're in there. Let me in. Or I'll camp out on your doorstep for the next week."
Adam felt the blue flame flicker and got the impression of running in a dark forest, but the door still didn't open. "Come on Billy. Why are you hiding?" He sighed and put his hand on the doorknob. As he did, he felt the locks click, "Finally you're seeing reason," he opened the door and leaned in to see a very shell shocked and very young Billy.
Billy blinked at him, "I didn't open the door! Go . . . " he sighed and his shoulders slumped, "Oh, come in and close the door."
As Adam stepped in, Billy relocked the door and the deadbolt. Then he stepped over to the security system and stares at it for a moment. He frowns and looks at Adam searchingly, "Well, you've found me, I take it Kim sent you?"
Adam nods dumbly. 'He looks like . . . like those old pictures of when he first became a ranger!'"You're young!" he blurted out in shock.
Billy looked at him cooly, "Yes, I have noticed that," he softened his expression with a slight smile, "and I suppose you want to know what happened? Well follow me downstairs and we'll talk."
Adam looked around as Billy led him toward the basement. 'The living room was mundane enough and so were the kitchen and dining room, but past that and its like walking into Billy's old garage . . . squared!' He examined Billy's muted blue glow as Billy typed a code 'he has a keypad for his basement!?' and opened the door. He went down the stairs and took a seat on the beat up couch that Billy gestured to.
"Would you prefer refreshment before our discussion?"
Adam shook his head and Billy grabbed a juice out of a small refrigerator and took a seat on the couch as well. Billy looked at him and sighed once more, "Well, this is quite simple actually. You remember when I went to Aquitar to deal with the accelerated aging?" He waited for Adams affirmation, then continued, "As you know it required drinking from the Aquitian's sacred waters, a veritable fountain of youth. Its effects on Aquitian's are quite well known on Aquitar, unfortunately those on humans were not. It took careful effort to cure me, but in the end the effects were a little too powerful for the human physiology. I had the distinct 'pleasure' of going from one-hundred and ten to ten. And I was stuck there. There was no way to age me back to my then current age, so . . . "
"That idiotic story of you falling in love with Cestra and staying on Aquitar," finished Adam.
Billy grinned at Adam, "It was preposterous, wasn't it?" He laughed, "But it was a good excuse, though if you knew why didn't you tell the others?"
"You must have had a reason, I trusted the Aquitian Rangers' judgment and yours."
Billy smiled gratefully, "But back to my narrative, I stayed on Aquitar until I felt I was able to pass for myself on earth. I mean a ten-year-old claiming he was 16 seemed a little too farfetched. Even now when I venture out, I receive strange looks when go about my business."
"And since you didn't want to deal with any of us, because of?"
"Well, I had enough problems and I didn't want to be . . . ," Billy trailed off.
"Pitied? A problem? Billy, we are your friends, we'd . . . ah, that's it, have been there for you," Adam shook his head, "You wanted to suffer alone?" Adam couldn't help the chuckle that escaped, "I thought you were Patient and Wise?"
Billy glared at him, "Well . . . okay you might be right. But, hey, cut me some slack, I've just finished going through puberty again." His face crinkled in silent laughter as he attempted to contain his mirth.
Adam wasn't so successful as he fell off the couch laughing. He managed to get himself under control after a few minutes and as he wiped his eyes, he noticed that Billy's muted blue glow has flared so much brighter than before. "Well, besides that what have you been doing?"
Billy glanced around the room, "Working on this and that, I've patented a few safe inventions and formulas, now I'm quite well off financially."
"I sense a 'but' here."
"Well, yes. I've got inventions that I can't do anything with. Look at me, I'm 16 going on 28, I can't do
anything in the scientific community. I'm building off a technology that is alien and advanced. I've studied scientific principles that will never be accepted on earth. And what can I do with it," he stood up and began to pace agitatedly, "nothing. I'm working for knowledge's sake, but what of it?" he finished rhetorically.
'Could it be this easy? It's been so long, but he really does seem like the same old Billy.' "Then don't." Billy stared at Adam in shock and Adam pushed on, "You want something to work for? Help me." Adam paused as Billy stared at him in confusion, "Help me rebuild the ninjetti," he finished quietly.
"What?" whispered Billy, shock stealing the strength from his exclamation.
'Where did that come from?' Adam paused and regrouped his calm, "I'm the Black Frog Ninjetti once more and Kim is the Pink Crane. I've come to you in hopes that you will join us." 'This sounds odd?'
"Me!? A ninjetti? How?"
Adam smiled, "Well first, we need a way to get to Phaedos," 'First I've heard of this!'Adam inwardly glowered as he heard a faint chuckling, "and you'll have to help with that. I mean, do you . . . "
Billy interrupted excitedly, "Wait, all I have to do is contact Cestro. I'm sure he could send us some assistance, oh, but I have to build a new communicator, I used the old parts, let me see."
Adam kept his mirth on the inside as Billy moved across his lab in a whirlwind of activity. 'For others not for himself, a pack and a good laugh was all he really needed' he thought as the blue fire leaps around Billy. "Oh, and Billy?" Billy looked up from the device that was rapidly coming together on his table, "You're the Wolf, silent and cunning," and a black spark created a bonfire of blue.
"On a gathering storm comes
a tall handsome man
In a dusty black coat with
a red right hand."
-Red Right Hand by Nick Cave.
A silent figure moved through the deserted buildings with ease. 'Someone really is here and again they elude me! No matter. I have other business. ' He passed through corridors and rooms that the other had walked earlier. He looked around as he entered the library 'Yes, there is danger here!' He frowned as he felt a slight sadness wash through him, but it was soon replaced by purpose as he picked up a brazier and set the shelves aflame. He walked out and vanished without a second thought as the library began to burn.
'Something is wrong! ' She'd felt a disturbance on the other side of the complex, but found nothing. Now she knew that she was somehow mistaken as she ran through the buildings. She reacted instantly as she saw the smoke coming from the library, she leapt and flew up through the window. ' The scrolls! 'she thought to herself as the shelves went up in flames. ' They are lost! ' Grief washed through her as she summoned the waters and winds to her aid and doused the blaze. ' Who would do this? Who could? 'she thought as she noted the fallen brazier 'No wind did this. ' As she looked through the wreckage, she sees that all the shelves are ruined, as are their contents, but the scroll she had studied earlier sat serenely on the table. She gently picked it up, but parts of it fell away . . . only the pieces directly against the table were saved. She sighed as she carefully laid out the pieces and then she frowned as the first pieces come together:
"Those who were great shall fall,
one shall hold true,
Time shall wipe clean their transgress,
one shall hold true,
When all is forgot,
one shall hold true,
One shall seek what was once sought,
the Dark Prince shall hold true."
'Again? What does this mean? These are different parts, but they reform the first verse?' She carefully began to put the pieces in order and a new prophecy took form from the ashes of the old.
"...And I left Kim alone for a while so I could come and see you," Adam paused and laughed, "Anything else you need Qui Gon Billy?" Adam laughed even harder as a wad of paper sailed across the room and hit him in the chest.
Billy shruged as he continued working in his ninjetti attire. It was an outfit remarkably similar to Episode 1 Jedi attire sans robes, except with a deep cobalt blue as the main tone and a dark navy as the undertone, and his belt buckle was a running wolf of gold. "Well, you said you saw Rocky, why not him?"
"One, I didn't think it was fair to Rocky. You and Kim both needed it, but he was quite happy, even has a girlfriend," Adam sighed, "All of us seem to be decidedly lacking in that department."
"Not like I have a choice," 'And I doubt you have really even attempted to date since Tanya . . . ' grumbleed Billy as he fiddled with his current project.
Adam grined as he continued, "And secondly, it just didn't feel right. With Kim it was like, 'I have to try.' With you it was, 'Yes, you will be ninjetti.' But I didn't get that with Rocky."
Billy frowned as he looked up at Adam, "Nowhere during your recitation did you talk about why you decided to revive the ninjetti, not as us reattaining our powers, but the rebuilding. What caused you to reach that decision?" 'There is a pattern here, I wonder what it means?'
"I didn't really," Adam blushed slightly, "the Frog kinda butted in I think. He keeps doing that."
Billy raised an eyebrow, "You seem to have developed a great rapport with the Frog, yet you said that Kim hasn't?" 'Perhaps preparation?'
"I don't know why she hasn't, I mean this is personal, that's why I left her, so she could get used to the powers and have some fun with them."
'I detect a note of 'while she has the chance' with that statement, but he doesn't notice.' "Ah, then once I get this finished perhaps I could 'play' as well," said Billy with an exuberant grin upon his face. "Well," he said as he played with the device, "I'm finished with this. Who should I call?"
"Uh . . . ," stammered Adam.
Billy laughed, "Just joking, I'm going to call Cestro, but I'll need a when and a where. It will take a while for him to make arrangements and travel from Aquitar."
Adam frowned in thought, "A week then, at my place," he replied after much debate.
"And where is that?" After a few minutes of discussion, which finally ended with Billy saying in exasperation, "just teleport there," and Adam doing a mental 'duh' as he teleported away and returned a few minutes later.
In a dark place far away . . .
"My lord, I have returned."
A giant armored figure on an obsidian throne looked down and spoke in a deep rumble, "And what was so urgent, Vadyvov?"
Vadyvov stood tall in his light armor, it's mottled black pattern blending easily in the shadows of the room. "I felt . . . an unease. I had informed you of Zordon's pack of play ninjetti, correct my lord?" he asked in a respectful tone.
"Ah, yes. I do remember, you feared that some of the ninjetti had escaped. It has been a very long time."
Vadyvov stood straighter at the light rebuke, "I believe I have been proven correct and I have taken steps, but I would prefer to take more direct action."
"What!" the giant roared, "How could one escape us? And why only now are they revealed?"
Vadyvov calmly received the outburst, "I do not know how one escaped, but one has. I do not know their identity, but it was not one of the Council. So only a student, perhaps." He paused until the giant calmed down and nodded for him to continue. "Regardless, they eluded me. But I masked myself from them as well. Yet as I searched the temple grounds I felt myself drawn to the Great Library, and I burned it."
"You fear the knowledge, or . . . ," purred the deep voice, "do you fear something else?"
"At this juncture, I am unsure. If it is acceptable, I will return to Phaedos with some of your guard to find this last ninjetti and destroy them. I feel an urgency in this matter."
The giant nodded, "Take a squad, good hunting to you."
Vadyvov bowed and quickly exited the room.'Whoever you are, your time is at an end.'
"Nice place," commented Billy as he looked around Adam's house.
"Well, you remember my uncle James? He gave it to me, said that I was the only member of the family that would appreciate and not sell it. I love it here, its secluded and the area is great," replied Adam as he hastily straightened up some. "Well, Kim'll be here tomorrow and we can . . . get ready."
'For what?' Billy pondered the situation and Adam as he puttered about the lodge. 'Almost every time you talk about us getting together, you seem to infer that something is impending. And you don't know it.' "Well, I'll just leave my stuff packed. I'd recommend that you figure out what you want to take. I'm going to go out and explore the area."
"And play with your powers."
"Well, that to," grined Billy as he headed out the door and into the woods.
Adam watched Billy leave as he began to go through his belongings and pack for the upcoming trip.
Dulcea stared at the prophecy before her. 'I am worried. Why was this prophecy so hidden from me? To what purpose is it revealed now?' She looked thoughtful as she paced around the table. 'I cannot worry about that now, it will do no good. Is this another look at the past or a new future?'
She left the room and headed toward the cliffs. As she stared at the monolith in the distance, she reminisces about the time when she first thought the prophecy was to pass.
'Zordon has sent them! Perhaps they are the ones.' She thought to herself as they made their way to the temple. After they asked for her assistance she called forth the ninjetti power and studied the forms it took within them. The bear, a fierce heart. The ape, strong and more intelligent than he gave himself credit for. The crane, shining with compassion and exuding grace. The wolf, wise, but not aware of his abilities. The frog, shy and hidden, yet with possibilities. And the mighty falcon, a leader born and white as well. Such darkness loomed over him, but the white falcon was such an auspicious combination.
She looked on in pride as they looked in awe at their spirit animals'the first ninjetti in so long. The prophecy is coming to pass.' She studied them once more and then she gave them the attributes that they held most strongly, even those that they did not themselves see. She'd smiled at the charming frog and his plight, "The kind you kiss to turn into a handsome prince," she'd said as she gave him a kiss. His blush and bashful manner had been reward enough for her actions. And at last she stood before the falcon' he is the one!' She had felt such joy and pride as she named him the winged lord of the skies. And much more when she saw them leave the monolith, the first to claim the great power.
Dulcea smiled as she thought back on that day and the hopes that had sprung from it, only to be dashed when the beast Goldar destroyed the coins they held so dear and their connection to the power was shattered. 'Why have they never returned?' As she stared out toward the monolith an errant thought began to nag her. 'I was wrong!' she thought in amazement 'I held the key and did not know it! In darkness, yes . . . but what does this mean now?' Dulcea looked to the sky and felt unease 'is it too late?'
Kim and Billy were enjoying themselves as the worked out in the woods surrounding Adam's house. Billy had spent the first day loping around the woods getting his bearings and experimenting with and without his powers. Now that Kim was here, they had talked about old times and were now into current events.
She shook her head at him again 'he's so young, just like when we got the powers.' "Well O' Wise One, what can we do? I know you've been 'testing theories' again. I should probably hit you for that, but I admit I'm curious too."
Billy glowered at her for a moment and began to speak, "Well, as for power I estimate that unmorphed we rank somewhere close what we used to be as morphed ninjetti. Morphed, as far as I can tell, we are as strong or stronger in some areas and weaker in others. Yet from watching Adam, I believe that there are differences in our abilities. What does the air smell like to you?"
"That's a weird question, but . . . ," she paused and took a deep breath, "woodsy, pine trees and grass. Why?"
"My sense of smell seems much more advanced. I can smell those smells, but I can also smell the rabbit that went by a few minutes ago, the water from the lake to the north, and the path that we just took. And I now have better night vision as well. I believe that we will each receive powers unique to us, though I am unsure how to test you or Adam for them."
"Cool and we don't have to morph for these?"
"No, some are now a 'natural' part of us, like my sense of smell. And they are definitely different for each of us. Have you been able to change your attire the way Adam does?"
"No, I've tried, because it sounds really nice to have an instant wardrobe, but all I get is my outfit."
"And I as well, I think that it is a function of Adam's powers. He is also remarkably silent, even with my now enhanced senses he can still take me by surprise." 'His scent is muted as well and the few times he's morphed, I haven't been able to find him.' "I've also been able to," he grins at Kim, "change into a wolf. A very unusual experience to say the least."
"So I could change into a crane? If I wanted to?" Kim frowned as she tried to grasp this and then shruged. She closed her eyes and leapt up, and in mid-leap she transformed into the crane and after a wobbly start managed to gain some altitude. 'Little one, ride the currents, don't strain yourself.'she heard a soft voice whisper as she looked down in wonder at the forest below her.
"Well, that wasn't hard," 'for you' mumbled Billy as he watched Kim flying above him.
Billy and Kim were now taking a break from their respective workouts and watching as Adam paced. Billy knew that tomorrow Cestro would be here and take them to Phaedos 'Cestro was amazed that it actually existed and that I knew where it was. When I told him I was a ninjetti now and before he looked like, well, he looked like he was slightly awed by me. But yesterday Adam began to get nervous and antsy, like our time was growing short. And today he cannot sit still, he didn't even workout last night or this morning. Why do I feel our trip to Phaedos will be eventful?' He sighed and Kim looked at him oddly and nodded toward the door, "Adam, we're going to go outside and workout some more," he said as he rose with Kim right behind him.
Adam barely noticed their leaving as he continued to pace, he'd had this feeling of unease that had blossomed into fear as the time progressed. Now he paced to burn off this nervous energy that filled him and danced the edges of his usual calm. 'Something is happening, something bad. We have to get there to stop it.'
"What do you think?" asked Billy as he turned to Kim.
"I don't know, but it makes me nervous, he just seems to radiate tension," replied Kim as she looked back toward the house.
"Me as well. I've theorized that something is guiding Adam. He's even admitted that most of this is based on intuition and sudden whims. Yet, we've both fell into place and he makes no move to really get Rocky or Aisha. I find it odd."
"So what exactly does that mean?"
Billy smiled, "I'm not sure yet," he changed tracks, "Have you been able to speak with the Crane?"
Kim smiled, "A little, but not the conversations that Adam seems to be having. I mean I've watched him kinda zone and . . . felt something happening, but it does seem more intense. For me Crane basically said, 'good to see me and you must go' and then not much but the occasional encouragement." 'Felt something?' "Wolf has been remarkably taciturn as well. Yet I do not think it is only our newness to the powers. Adam has only regained his for a couple weeks longer than you or me, yet his connection was stronger." He frowned.'We are being led.'
"Well he was always the quiet one. Aisha used to say that black was really his color, he took everything in and let nothing out. You always seemed to get along so well with him, but he was always so quiet around me. Even now, but I feel that he's just preoccupied by . . . whatever."
"Yeah, I think he had a crush on you," grined Billy. "And you weren't there for the Zeo debacle . . . ," Kim looked at him with amusement, "when he started dating Tanya it was almost like he was a new person. Much more confident, if he had wanted it, he probably could have been Red."
"Tanya . . . ," she sighed sadly, "and now he's even more confident, you might be on to something. But right now he's so tense, really calm and totally wired, it's as if he knows something we don't."
"I concur, but hey, what else are we going to do?"
"Spread out, destroy as much of the temple as you can. If you are challenged fall back regroup. Do not engage this person . . . that is for me alone," commanded Vadyvov as he strode over the rocky beach. 'The elites are distasteful, but they follow orders well' he thought as he watched their blackened armor absorb the light from the hot sun. He knew that even in this weather, a touch would feel as cold as ice, the dark energy kept them as cold as death. Yet long after their bodies had become skeletons covered in taut skin, they still served faithfully. 'Now for the straggler.'
The elites headed toward the temple grounds 'hopefully they will draw whoever is there out' thinks Vadyvov as he stepped into a cliff side shadow and vanished.
'Intruders on the beach! More fools come for the Great Power! Now is not the time for such nonsense. ' Dulcea thought as she pulled her robe on and headed toward the beach. She frowned as she saw the first form coming toward her 'they are not going for the power.' As she felt the dark power that flowed from them she prepared for battle. "Halt, whoever you are and leave this place!" she commanded.
The form moved closer and she began to make out the details of its appearance. 'Wraithguard here? They are not here for the power, I must stop them!' She confidently strode forward with her staff at ready as the creature began to fall back. 'Afraid? They know no fear. A trap.' She turned and headed back toward the main temple area. 'What am I to do?'
'Master Warrior Dulcea!? She escaped? How? This is more than just a lone ninjetti apprentice and must be dealt with differently. Yet how is she still . . . ah, she must have bound herself to the temple.' Vadyvov growled as he saw Dulcea turn and flee from the lone Elite. 'She knows somehow. No matter, she will be revealed or she will be destroyed with her temple!' He moved silently through the shadows as he came upon one of the elites, "Wait for the others," he whispered. Then he quickly scouted out the others as they prepared to lay siege to the temple. He produced a small pane of blackish metal, "Lord, I would require more reinforcements. I wish to wipe the ninjetti temple from existence, not just memory."
A rumble escaped it, "So be it, but if this is not resolved soon . . . I will come and deal with it myself."
Vadyvov felt a slight tremor of fear 'I will be one of the things he will deal with.' Only on the matter of the ninjetti was his Lord so obsessed. 'But it will not become his concern.'
"Cestro, it is good to see you well," smiled Billy as his Aquitian friend.
"It is good to see you well also," said Cestro formally as he bowed to Billy. He turned to look at the others, "Adam, it is good to see you well," he bowed once more. "But you are unknown to me," he said to Kimberly.
"I am Kimberly, um, the Pink Crane ninjetti."
Cestro looked at Billy for a moment and turned back to Kim, "It is pleasing to meet you. I am Cestro of the Aquitian rangers. We helped assist Billy and Adam after the destruction of their powers during Master Vile's assault on time. I am well met."
As soon as Cestro said those words Billy began to talk excitedly, "You were able to get a Gui'ron for us to go in?"
Adam and Kim both looked on in amusement as Cestro began to describe in depth his efforts to acquire the ship they were taking. Adam decided that enough is enough, "Um, excuse me. I hate to be rude, but we need to go now."
Kim and Billy both frowedn at him as he picked up his light bags and entered the vessel. Billy gently guided Cestro around the ship, "I'm sorry perhaps we could continue our discussion at a later time. I believe that we have pressing business, though I do not know its nature."
The Aquitian Ranger nodded to Billy, "Perhaps it is some Ninjetti matter?"
Billy heard the emphasis on 'Ninjetti,' "I believe so. But I still cannot believe you were able to get a Gui'ron class for us. The trip to Phaedos will only take a day in it."
"Yes, most of my delay was caused by the fact that I did not disclose our destination or our purpose, only that you required such a vessel."
Billy's brow crinkled, "Why?"
Cestro paused for a moment, "Phaedos is a myth to most space-faring cultures. The Ninjetti are also a myth. That you became Ninjetti makes you a part of that myth. The Ninjetti are legend, as is the Great Power on Phaedos. Though I did not know there was a connection between the two. It would cause great disturbance if it was known to all at this juncture." Cestro paused and smiled very slightly at Billy, "I must admit that this excursion has me feeling like a youngling on the first day of training."
Billy smiled in return, "Well, let's get ready before Adam turns back into a frog."
Cestro stared at him strangely as they finished their preparations.
'This place is unreal 'thought Kim as she wandered around the ship. 'It would be better, but Billy's off being Billy and Adam is just . . . grrr' She frowned'just being around him is driving me nuts.' Yet she found herself drawn back to watching the black frog as he stared out of a viewport. 'He's so calm, like a lake, but it's like there's something on the banks trying to get in. I couldn't stand it.' Then she started as Adam stood bolt upright and a feeling of pain and grim resolve tinged with his own fear washed off Adam as he bolted out of the room. 'What was that?!'
Adam rushed down the corridor toward the cockpit 'it's happening!' He didn't know what, but he knew that time had just run out for them. "Billy! Cestro!" They both looked up at his entrance, "How long to Phaedos," he asked with forced calm.
"A few more hours," replied Billy. 'Something's wrong' "Why?"
Adam ignored the question, "Can we get there any faster?"
Billy and Cestro both looked at each other for a moment. Billy turned back to Adam, "Well, if we break anything I'll take responsibility. Watch up here." Both he and Cestro left the cockpit.
Adam took a seat and stared into space.'Will it be enough?'
'Must I continue to hide?' Dulcea thought as she quietly moved through the remains of the temple grounds. 'Fortunately there are some areas that those creatures cannot damage' but the thought was of small consolation as more of the ninjetti grounds were reduced to rubble. She had been carefully striking out at them, but whoever had planned this attack had prepared for her defense of the temple 'the groups are set up with too many. I cannot take one easily and in this open area I would be easily overpowered.' But she still longed to strike out, she was a master warrior, but her duty to the temple was greater than even her wants.
"Greetings Master Warrior Dulcea," politely intoned a voice behind her.
She turned at ready and her eyes widened in recognition, "Vadyvov!?"
Vadyvov smiled cordially, "Yes, it is I. And I have returned with . . . friends."
She stared at him angrily, "You betray your duty to the ninjetti, black one? Why?"
"Dulcea, I've done it before, I see no reason to stop now."
They began to circle each other warily, "You were the one who destroyed the Council Hall?"
He bowed slightly in acknowledgement never taking his eyes from Dulcea, "Yes, though I am amazed at your survival Master Warrior."
'I wasn't there, I was preparing to be raised to the Council. My ritual watch in the Master Hall's had me safe away.' "I have always been amazing," she countered.
"It is no matter, I will rectify that error."
She looked at him sadly and took note of the sad condition of his spirit animal.'So sad, he looks so defeated. His charge's misdeeds weigh heavily upon him, but they are one. For better or worse, only Vadyvov's death will free him. I will have to see to it.' "You may come, Vadyvov, but know that I will destroy you," she said grimly as she waited for his first attack.
She didn't have to wait long as Vadyvov produced a wickedly jagged blade from the air, "You first, I insist," and he launched an attack to Dulcea's head.
Dulcea easily evaded it and his next attacks, but her counters were met by his blocks as well. She could already see that he is not up to the task and after a few minutes it is evident that she would defeat him. He drew back from her and saluted.'Another trap!!'She moved instantly and felt the blast as it burned into her shoulder. 'I cannot win this.'
Vadyvov felt a snarl escape him as his assassin missed 'No matter, she will fight and she will die. Greens were always suicidally stubborn and duty obsessed.'
Dulcea held her staff before her as she ignored the pain in her shoulder, prepared to fight this final fight to its conclusion. 'No my child. Today you must fly, this is not your fight.' Understanding came at Owl's gentle words and she doesn't hesitate as her only means of escape presented itself. She kept Vadyvov between her and the sniper 'he is too confident.' She suddenly attacked and backed off as she began to draw him after her as she headed toward her objective.
"You cannot defeat me and you cannot escape. Stand and let me kill you with dignity," politely stated Vadyvov as he began to press her back and his troops began to move in.
She smiled at him and he felt a shiver run down his spine, "I am not the one to defeat you."
"You can't escape, you're bound to the temple. Even if you evade me, when I raze it I will destroy you as certainly as my blade," he snarled as his composure began to fray. "You are running out of places to cower, Dulcea."
She nodded calmly in response and continued to retreat.
"NO! You cannot," howled Vadyvov as Dulcea turned and leapt from the cliff's edge. 'It does not matter, you will not survive long outside the grounds.' He slamed his sword into its sheath as he watched a bloodstained owl fly away unsteadily. 'If you manage to land in one piece that is.'
"I'm pushing an elephant up the
stairs I'm tossing up punchlines that were
never there Over my shoulder a piano
falls Crashing to the ground."
-Great Beyond by REM.
Adam sat in the pilots chair gripping the arms tightly. He closed his eyes and tried to focus on the calm, as he forced these intruding emotions away. 'Frog, tell me what is happening?'he said in a mental tone that expected an answer. 'Now.'
' The ninjetti temple is under attack and Dulcea has been gravely injured, ' relayed Frog quietly.
"What?! How?! Who?"
' You will know soon. They will be there when you arrive. You must prepare, ' Frog began to fade away.
"Wait! Why only me? Why am I the one going through all of this?"
' Why ask why?, ' wryly chided the Frog as he took his leave.
Dulcea cried out in pain as she attempted to fly toward her destination. Once she had leapt from the edge and felt the air beneath her wings, she knew she was in trouble. Her damaged shoulder made it impossible for her to fly with the control necessary to skirt the cliff wall and stay within the temple's boundaries. She glided out and instantly felt the ages as they began to creep into her bones. Every moment was agony, even keeping in owl form was becoming a chore 'will I make it?'as she spiraled down. She saw a small cave near the bottom of the cliff and suddenly dropped toward it. Her landing was graceless, the pain in her shoulder nearly overwhelmed her as she suddenly transformed back before properly landing. She crawled into the cave and passed out as she felt the temple's power flow back through her.
"There are two other ships in orbit," relayed Cestro as they entered the Phaedos system.
"Can you keep us hidden?" asked Adam.
Cestro nodded and began to work the controls. Adam watched him for a moment and turned to Billy, "I don't like this, but you're right. This is our only way to get there."
Billy nodded as he looked over the scans, "I do not like it either, but there are twenty hostiles destroying the temple. If we land on the beach . . . "
"They'll be right on us, I know. I just don't like the idea of going through the jungle again. With six rangers we were hard pressed, what about only three?"
Kim gave Adam a sudden hug, "Hey we're here, think how impossible that is," she smiled at Adam as he began to blush slightly. She turned and winked at Billy, "All we need to do is stick together."
Vadyvov frowned as he noticed a shimmer in the distant sky. He produced a pair of binoculars and focused on the shimmer. 'A ship! Someone to help Dulcea?' He contacted the orbiting vessels.
"Never thought we'd be doing this again," sighed Kim as they moved carefully through the jungle.
"Our quest for the great power in reverse," commented Billy as he carefully scaned the surrounding area, his senses alert.
Adam frowned at both of them as he strode forward toward his destination. 'We have to hurry.' He sighed. Even in his impatience he knew that rushing off half cocked in the jungles of Phaedos was suicidal. He started slightly as he heard the ship take off, they had decided that it was too dangerous to leave the ship on the planet 'hopefully we'll be able to call Cestro soon.' "We need to go this way," said Adam as he began to move through the dense foliage.
Billy and Kim exchanged glances that seemed to say 'it's worked so far' and followed him.
'No record . . . hmm . . . ' Vadyvov thought to himself, after he checked with the orbiting vessels. He watched as the ship reappeared above the jungle canopy and flew off. He turned and ordered his troops to head down to the base of the cliff and sent some into the jungle. 'I will have some casualties, but I must destroy Dulcea before they can assist. ' He growled as he stalked through the smouldering ruins of the temple.
"Man, it's hot," groaned Kim as she followed Adam. 'He's dead certain he knows where we are going to.' She thought as she wiped her brow once again. 'And look, he hasn't even broken a sweat.'She glowered inwardly as she took a sip from her canteen.
"I concur. Adam perhaps we can pause for a moment, I feel that a case of heat exhaustion will not help our quest," calmly stated Billy.
Adam turned and looked at Billy and Kim, "Okay," as he took in their sweat-soaked appearances, "I'll guard you." With that he began to scan the jungle around them, off in his own little world.
Billy and Kim both slumped down and took a few more drinks from their canteens, "Adam, are you thirsty?" asked Kim. She and Billy both watched as he shrugged and took a few sips from his canteen, then he returned to his pacing. "Well, he seems to be taking this well, he must be in great shape," mumbled Kim quietly.
Billy pondered it for a moment, "He is, but I don't think that is the cause. I have a theory, but I have yet to gather enough evidence . . . ," he trailed off as Kim glared at him. "I believe it's a function of the frog totem," he sighed. 'Transformation and adaptability.' "As neither you nor I have any exceptional tolerance to this climate." He grew quiet as Adam approached them, "I suspect we have to go now?" said Billy as he rose to his feet. Adam nodded as he helped Kim up. "Well then lead on," he grinned as Adam began to lead them through the jungle once more.
They walked for a while longer and marveled at the beauty of the setting as they passed over small streams and the occasional crevice. Adam kept moving forward with a determined stride as he moved through the jungle. Kim followed behind wondering idly if she'd ever be able to get the sweat stains out of her clothes as she watched Adam thoughtfully.
Billy walked confidently behind them as he scanned the surrounding area. 'Water, pond? Close.'he thought to himself as he took in the sensations the jungle offers. Suddenly without thought he summoned his weapon to his hands and spun around. His staff caught a large and hungry looking lizard in the snout. It howled in pain and backed away snarling, yet even as it fell back, another took its place. 'What? A pack?! Oh, boy!' He felt a slight growl escape him as he connected more solidly with the next one and damaged its leg, a move that effectively took it out of the fight. He began backing up as he heard a few more of the creatures as they moved through the underbrush. He didn't look but he heard Adam and Kim go on the defensive. Billy grinned at the approaching monster and held his staff at ready.
They retreated slightly, as they moved toward the clearing ahead as the creatures suddenly darted in and out of the jungle attempting to take one of them down. Billy kept his staff moving in an easy pattern as he fended off the initial creature that was still fixated on him. He nearly laughed as a bolt of pink hit it squarely between the eyes and it staggered back comically. He regrouped with the others, "Well, I don't know about you, but I liked the dinosaur bones better."
Kim glared at him as she shot her bow at another and then grinned back, "All we have to do is scare them off, a few have already run away." She gave Billy a mischievous wink, "Episode one much?"
"Sure, Darth Billy over there can whack on a few more of them," quipped Adam as he kicked more away.
Billy groaned, "Well, it looked so neat," he said defensively as he swung his 'light staff' around causing more to fall back.
After a few more minutes, the creatures fell back. "Well, that was interesting," said Billy as he lowered his staff.
Kim stared into the jungle, "They're not done yet."
"Why do I have a bad feeling about this? ," asked Adam.
As if summoned by his words the jungle erupted and ten more of the creatures leapt out at them. Adam and Kim leapt easily out of the way as a couple went after them and Billy met his head on. He slammed his staff into one and then another as he spun about his staff blazing with blue fire as he fought back.
Adam landed on the back of another, "Hey, look at me, I'm Tommy."
Kim glared down at him from her treetop perch, "Adam Park! I...," she was suddenly cut off as a snake burst from the leaves beside her and entangled her in its coils. They fell from the tree into the lake below as she struggled to get free.
Billy saw Kim's fall from the corner of his eye and growled at the beasts, his attacks became a blur. "Adam, go get her!" 'I hope I'm right.'
Adam looked at him for a second and leapt from the lizard's back and gracefully into the water, a slight glow of black vanished underneath the water's surface.
Billy turned his attention back to the nine beasts that still stood before him and grinned, "Who's first?"
Both of the creatures he had been fighting turned and vanished back into the jungle. He moved with the beasts and whirled about in a pattern of defense and attack that was natural to him. His staff flared bright as he smacked another away and stood at ready as the beasts fell back. They circled for a moment and three more ran off, but the others began to close in and he waited calmly. "I don't want to hurt you, but keep this up . . . " He suddenly dropped to a crouch and brought his staff up slicing into the one that had just tried to jump him from behind. He watched sadly as it crumpled to the jungle floor, "I had hoped that wouldn't be needed."
He looked calmly at the last three as they broke and disappeared into the jungle. He turned and stared at the lake, staff at ready, as the snake that attacked Kim slithered out of the lake. It hissed at him and headed back up its tree. 'Now why do I have a bad feeling about this?'
'Where is she?'thought Adam as he easily swam through the dark waters. 'Isn't that . . . ? ' blinked Adam as he watched a large snake go by. 'This is bad, definitely very bad.' He swam faster toward the direction it had came from and finally saw Kim . . . and the large 'squid-thing?' that had a hold of her. He watched as she uses her bow to send glowing shaft after glowing shaft into the thing in hopes of getting free. 'Oh, hell.'
He swam to Kim and used a black knife to stab into the creature's tentacle. After a few moments he felt elation as the tentacle released its hold on Kim and she swam up toward the surface. 'Oh, hell!' He groaned inwardly as another tentacle latched onto him and then another. He stabbed at one and it loosened, but the other one held him tight and when he turned his attention to it the other tightened. He lashed out as another grabbed onto him. 'Some rescue!'
Kim swam up to the surface and broke through gasping for air as she began to swim toward Billy. 'That was close.' He waded out and helped her to shore and she looked behind her, "Adam should be behind me," she gasped.
Billy looked as the water's surface calmed. 'What have you gotten yourself into now?' "Well, we'll have to wait and hope."
Kim stared at him in shock, "You mean we just wait up here until Adam drowns or gets eaten?"
Billy calmly returned her glare, pain evident in his expression, "Unfortunately, we are not suited to underwater. I can only hope that I am right." With that he returned to staring into the water's depths.
'No! No! No!'screamed Adam mentally as he fought frantically to keep from being pulled toward the monster. He blanched slightly as he saw the gaping maw looming ahead and redoubled his efforts. One tentacle and then another sliced free, and he slashed at the others while he tried to keep two more from grabbing on. 'I am not about to get eaten!?'Adam asked himself incredulously as he was pulled into the beast's maw. 'This is not supposed to happen! '
Kim felt a flash of terror from a familiar source and she turned to Billy panic evident in her expression, "We have to do something!"
Billy nodded and didn't even look at her as he dived into the water while his staff lighted the way.
The tentacles that held Adam loosen suddenly as he was propelled into the monster's mouth. 'Oh, hell.' he thought as the mouth clamped shut and he felt the monster's tongue wrap around him. 'Well,' he thought grimly, 'at least I can give it a killer case of indigestion.' Then the tongue loosened suddenly and Adam felt himself being sucked back into the beast. 'Oh, hell.'
Billy swam toward the area Kim came from and stared at the monster below him. 'Why do we always get ourselves into these messes?' As he swam toward the creature he sawit jerk and a black shape flew past him. 'Adam!?' He watched perplexedly as it disappeared from the water only to crash back down a few seconds later. 'Yup.' Billy sighed internally as he swam toward Adam and pointed toward the surface. As they broke the water, Billy took a few lung fulls of air and stared at Adam, "What exactly was that about?"
Adam looked confused, "I don't know."
"Frogs. It's what's not for dinner," quipped Billy as he started to chuckle.
Adam reddened and ducked under the water as they swam back to shore. When he surfaced near the shore, he saw a very annoyed Kimberly 'maybe I should ask that monster to reconsider.' He wilted a little under her glare, "It was just a joke," he mumbled as she stared at him.
"Look at me I'm Tommy, Adam Park, you, you," Kimberly trailed off and whacked him in the head with her bow.
"Ow, Hey! What is this pick on the frog day?" griped Adam as he guarded his head from another attack.
Kim and Billy exchanged glances and Billy burst out laughing.
"Yeah, yeah, laugh it up, Wolf Boy," said Adam sarcastically as he started back down the path.
Billy just kept laughing as he and Kim fell into step behind Adam.
'Man, what died?'thought Billy as he caught a whiff of something in the air.
If it felt such things any more, it would be ecstatic as it looked out from the underbrush at the approaching creatures. It looked to its comrades and gestured to the surrounding area. Then the trooper readied its sword and strode out toward the three, "Prepare to die," it hissed and closed to combat range.
Billy wrinkled his nose at the foul smell that confronted him. 'Why don't the bad guys believe in bathing? Personal Hygiene is such an important part of projecting the proper image.' He sighed and readied his staff, "I think that we have other ideas. Please stand aside and we will not harm you."
Its skin stretched tight over its face in what might have been interpreted as a smile, "Die." It launched an attack the one in blue. "It is commanded."
Billy easily parried and countered, but it was met with the warrior's black blade. He vaguely noticed Kim to the side with her bow at ready watching the trees around them. All other considerations were put aside as he entered the battle in earnest.
Kim spun toward the trees shivering slightly from the chill that seemed to radiate from the warrior that fought Billy and from various places around them. "Adam, there are more of these things!"
She fired a bolt into one of the cold patches and was rewarded by a growl. 'Got one!' As the warrior burst from the jungle in front of her, Adam was instantly on it. He dodged its initial clumsy thrust and countered with a vicious strike to its throat. It gagged and staggered, but it was not felled by the lethal attack. Adam used the distraction to continue pounding on it.
'These things aren't alive.' Kimberly gasped as she saw another come out of the foliage behind Adam with its sword at ready. She sighted and shot true, her bolt took it through the visor slit dropping it instantly. She watched as a black mist rose from it and dissipated, leaving only a puddle of black ooze, the armor, and some bones. 'Gross!'
She watched as Adam pounded on his relentlessly until it too released a cloud of black mist and collapsed to the ground. She felt a fierce warmth as it seemed to boil around the patches of cold in the jungle. Then they vanished. She frowned as she looked to the one Billy was fighting. 'Where are the others?' Adam nodded to her and went after Billy to even the odds, but even before he reached him, Billy suddenly spun countering one attack going around its guard to cut it in half. He looked at Adam and grinned, "Much harder than tengas, but not as bad with the cliches. And at least they don't burble."
Adam smiled in return and got ready to reply, but he was cut off by Kim's voice from the side. "Guys you have to see this."
Billy walked easily toward her and Adam followed, as they headed off the side of the trail, they saw Kim leaning over the remains of three more of the warriors. Billy and Adam both looked at each other, "Way to go, Kim," they said in unison.
She looked up at them and shook her head, "I didn't do this." She reached out and pulled a broken spear from one of the remains and held it up. She carefully fit it together with the other half of the haft that she had found. "Whoever did though, well I hope these Ewoks are on our side," she said as she held up the three-foot spear.
A communicator crackled to life, "My Lord, we have lost a squad of Elites. What are your orders?"
'Idiots!' "Send down more and have them go toward," 'Now I'm being an idiot.' "Belay that," Vadyvov paused and began to speak very slowly, "I understand that you cannot use the ship's weapons against the temple itself, and that the same field that protects the temple protects most of the planet to a lesser degree. Yet our opponents have landed a vessel, correct?" He waited for a reply. 'Stupid creatures, you have to walk them to the point.' Vadyvov sighed, "Well, wouldn't that mean that there is a way to send down something to destroy that area of the jungle where we lost our forces?"
Vadyvov sighed and began to pace. 'Patience' he smiled as he finally received the ship's reply, "Understood."
'Now whoever you are, you shall be dealt with.' He smiled ferally as he ordered more troops down from the ship and those on the surface back toward the cliffs.
"Well, he's loads of fun," grumped Kim as she watched Adam forge ahead.
"I concur," grinned Billy as he too watched Adam. "He is very determined to get to our destination."
"Yeah, we need to get to the temple and help Dulcea."
Billy slowed his pace slightly and dropped his voice to a whisper, "Actually we are not heading directly for the temple." He paused as Kim looked at him quizzically, "We are not off the course that Adam has set, but if we continue in this direction we will bypass the temple."
Kim frowned slightly, "So where are we going?"
"Where we are needed," he said after a moment of debate. He winced slightly as he heard a high-pitched screech and began to scan the area for the source.
Kim felt uneasy as Billy suddenly started to ignore her. 'I'll get Adam.' She looked to Adam and noticed that he kept looking upwards and crouching slightly. 'Like he's ready to spring. Oh, no. They're both picking up the same vibe.' Kim didn't pause as she began to move forward at a sprint, "Guys run!"
They both started slightly and watched her take off, they both shared a glance and took off after her. "Kim, what?!" cried Billy, anything else he had to say was cut off by the lightning strike that tooks down a nearby tree. He watched as she gracefully rolled under the falling tree and kept going. He was torn from his reverie as lighting crashed down near him and knocked him from his feet. He rolled up and began to head toward Adam, but as he neared he saw Adam suddenly stop and leap sideways an instant before another bolt crashed down. He blinked to clear his eyes and watched as Adam paused again. He scanned the skies and looked for the source of this attack, 'the temple should be protecting us from attack, they must have sent something down 'he winced slightly as he heard the bolts crash down around them. He kept moving and spied Adam pausing and suddenly leaping in a different direction as more bolts crashed down near where he was. 'Intuition? It's gotten us this far . . . ' Billy raced toward Adam and watched as Adam leapt once more. Billy veered in the direction of Adam's leap and felt the slight tingle of the charge that crashed down beside where Adam had been standing. 'Hypothesis still being tested.'Inwardly observes Billy as he followed Adam's 'leap frog' progress.
Kim wasn't worried about scientific theory as she nimbly moved over and through the uneven terrain. She hated taking off like that, but she had this feeling that now was the time to move. She found herself easily evading the falling debris and started to notice that the lightning wasn't striking down near her any more' must be getting out of it. I hope the others are . . . ' She paused as she felt the comforting calm of Adam's presence somewhere behind her and the slightly frantic, yet methodical presence of Billy. As she reached out to them a thought crossed her mind. 'The temple should be protecting us from attack, they must have sent something down.' She frowned slightly but the idea makes sense 'well, I'll just go take a look.' She didn't think about it as she leapt up and changed into the crane.
'Hunter . . . here . . . ' Dulcea moaned as she felt the ground quake beneath her. 'Temple . . . back to temple . . . ' She managed to get to her knees and began to crawl deeper into the cave she had sought refuge in. 'Almost . . . there . . . ' She moved painfully toward her destination but dropped in exhaustion and tried feebly to move forward once more. 'Will I . . . fail . . . again?' She managed to drag herself a few more inches forward, but even her will could not push her any farther and she collapsed. As she tried to move again she heard voices near her. 'What are they saying?'
"Hrurt . . . hrer . . . threy crum . . . lrone werrior . . . hrunter . . . rah, hrer hrere."
'Lone Warrior? The Hunter? They know?!'The voice trailed off and she managed to raise her head, she blearily focused on the small forms in front of her. She tried once more to make her way to the doorway, but her only reward for her efforts was unconsciousness.
As she began to fade out she heard one of the figures speak as it moved closer to her, "Truth, wrisdom, rand rove conqueror rof rawl, the wrark prince, the lrone werrior, rand the courogeous hrunter wrill hold true."
'They know . . . 'was her last thought as she succumbed to the darkness.
Billy sighed in exasperation as he kept following Adam 'enough of this already.' After a few close misses he had finally caught onto Adam's pattern and was now only a few steps behind him. When Adam leaped, he easily jogged after him, he'd quickly found that Adam's leaps were a lot farther than his and after a few close calls he'd just taken to running after him. He winced slightly as the sound of falling trees and small explosions kept buffeting him. 'Getting more intense, and way too loud.'
She spread her wings and began to gain altitude. 'Gymnastics has nothing on this' she thought as she felt the winds as they moved over her feathers. She followed the air currents away from where the attack began and when she was over the canopy she started to circle back.'Well, guess I was right.' She looked thoughtfully at the black globes that were sending bolt after bolt down into the jungle 'maybe I should do something about that?' She looked around and found a suitable location and landed in one of the taller trees. She changed back and carefully repositioned herself until she had a good place and readied her bow. She carefully sighted on one and fires 'one down, a gazillion to go.'
"Sir, our weapons are being destroyed. We are unable to continue the bombardment."
"What!" roared Vadyvov 'this cannot be, everything they escape. No choices now.' "No matter, send down all troops. They are to sweep the cliff base and kill anyone they see."
Vadyvov stared down into the jungle and looked toward the smoking and scorched patch of jungle. 'Too close. They will be here soon. I cannot fail my lord.' He stared out over the jungle for a few minutes more and suddenly smiled 'They had better watch their backs. Unfortunate things can happen to the unwary.' He turned and stalked off into the nearest shadow. He vanished in the fading light of day.
'What?'thinks Billy as he watched as Adam suddenly straightened up and began to walk normally again. 'I guess we're through.' "Adam, do you know which way Kim went?"
Adam paused and blinked a few times and looked at Billy worriedly, "I saw her run off after she warned us, but I was . . . distracted. The attack stopped," he frowned and began to look around. "They trashed this place."
"Um, yes. Where now?"
Adam turned around in a circle looking over the surrounding area, he then nodded to himself and pointed, "That way. We have to get there before nightfall."
"What about Kim?" 'Does he suddenly want us to abandon her? And where exactly is there?'
Adam paused for a moment and a perplexed expression crossed his face, "Um, she should be . . . dropping in soon." 'And what exactly does that mean? This is not THAT funny. Oh, whatever.' Adam sighed in disgust at Frog.
Adam shrugged, "We should keep moving." He gave Billy a 'why me' look as he started walking forward once more.
'Do I want to know?' Billy shook his head to himself as he followed Adam. 'Nope. Don't want to.' Billy watched with amusement as Adam shook his head vehemently at something and began blushing. 'Nope.' He chuckled quietly so as not to disturb Adam 'But I should sell tickets.' His smile died a sudden death as he smelt a familiar carrion reek in the air. "Adam, there are more of those things," he paused and listened carefully, "and they're coming this way."
Adam pointed to the vegetation around them, "Let's try to sneak around them. We don't have time for a fight. If we get separated . . . I will be by the base of the cliff . . . a cave, I think."
'You think?' Billy sighed and nodded to Adam as they each stepped to the sides of the trail and began to carefully move through the vegetation. He watched Adam disappear in the foliage and listened carefully, but after a few moments even that faded 'he's good.' Minutes later, Billy moved carefully, but he was making far too much noise for his liking 'I sound like a herd of elephants.' He paused and waited for a couple more of the troops go by 'but they sound like a zord convention.' He grinned wryly at his joke and paused as he heard a distant howl. 'Hopefully it won't like them either. Hmm . . . good idea and much better than this.' Billy stood tall for a moment and closed his eyes, an instant later a silvery wolf stood in his place. 'Much better' he thought as he began to easily make his way through the jungle toward the cliffs.
'Finally, how many of these things did they make? A million, two?' inwardly grumbled Kim as she sighted for the umpteenth time on another globe. She aimed, fired, and watched with satisfaction as it exploded. She smiled and began to look around 'no more! Finally. Now to find Billy and Adam.' She started to climb down but paused when she felt a large cold patch beneath her. She froze and watched as five of black warriors went by. 'Maybe I'll just stay up here.' She concentrated for a moment and changed back into the crane. 'Air Kim!' She giggled mentally as she took off and began looking for her friends.