Disclaimer: Saban owes the Power Rangers, I don't. I wish I did but I don't. So this fic is not done for any gain on my part. For those of you who are at all interested this starts sometime after Jason becomes the Gold Ranger and before Billy leaves.
"Go on Billy... It'd be good for you to get out!" Adam pleaded.
Dressed in his now usual shades of green the Green Zeo Ranger stood in the Power Chamber watching his friend work diligently on some complex task.
He had to admit he was getting worried about Billy. Physically he seemed fine but Adam was sure there was something wrong. He couldn't exactly put his finger on the problem but he knew it was there. The others seemed not to notice but ever since Jason had got the Gold Powers his friend had become quieter and quieter... which hardly seemed possible. Fixing a pleasant grin on his face Adam tried again.
"Just the two of us yeah?" He tried to make the prospect sound enticing.
He hated seeing Billy like this. If there was something that he could not stand was feeling helpless while someone was in trouble. Billy sighed and looked up from his adjusting. Adam had that familiar set to his jaw that he got when he was going to be stubborn. Billy often thought wryly to himself that if Adam spirit animal hadn't been a Frog then maybe it should have been a Mule.
"You're not going to give up on this are you Adam?" he said wearily recognizing defeat. Adam flashed one of his dazzling grins, "Hey you are smart aren't you? he quipped lightly.
Billy smiled a little in response and appearing to reach a decision put down the complicated tool that he had been using. "Okay. okay, we'll go to this... Student Exhibition of yours!" he agreed and turned to speak to Alpha quickly.
"I'll adjust the dimorphic resonator later Alpha... could you check the quantum flow modulation interface on Pyramidas? The analysis came back with reduced efficiency...."
"Yes Billy," the little droid replied, and hustled off busily.
Adam in turn blinked, slightly stunned by the unexpected re-emergence of Billy's famous techno-babble. He hadn't heard it for quite a while. Come to think of it when had been the last time he had heard him say much of anything?.
"Adam?" the sandy haired genius called with a touch of impatience. "You were the one who wanted to go to this thing?"
Billy was poised to teleport, hand set on his communicator. The green ranger nodded with over-acted enthusiasm. "Yes, yes of course! Let's go."
This had been a good idea, Adam congratulated himself quietly. Outside the Power Chamber Billy had loosened up a biteven laughed a couple of times whilst they had been wandering around looking at the various exhibits. Mind you, some of them deserved the laughs, and Billy had found a few of the science projects particularly amusing and a few others genuinely interesting. Adam had no doubt that a few new inventions and devices might be forthcoming from his genius friend's observations on this trip. However, Adam had secretly hoped that Billy might decide he wanted to talk about whatever was bothering him and so far Billy's implacable exterior has shown no signs of cracking. Adam wasn't used to being the "fun" one of the group, and having to draw someone out of themselves but today at least he tried his best. I should have asked Rocky for some pointers before I came, he thought, a little flustered. Something caught his eye and he stopped.
"Hey, the Art Exhibits" he pointed out, something he would genuinely like to see.
Billy looked at him indulgently, feeling a glimmer of a smile on his lips. He knew that Adam was into Art though it was not something he advertised. So many times people looked at the martial arts skill and thought that was it. Well it wouldn't harm... Billy thought to himself. Adam at least had been making and effort, which he appreciated.
"You want to take a look?"
"Yeah! Well only if you want to....?" Adam amended hastily, remembering he had arranged this day for Billy not for him.
"Sure, sure," Billy agreed amiably, gesturing for Adam to lead the way.
They wandered around the hall, "appreciating" the Art, as Adam thought to himself. He noticed a small sign leading into the last hall and read it aloud to himself, "The Valencia Room has been given over to the works of this years prize Winner, Skye Brannon's Quest Against Darkness series, a selection of brilliantly conceived and executed images with an Otherworldly feel blended with an eerie sense of reality."
"Hmm last stop before lunch yeah?" Adam said not wanting to bore his friend too much, but eager to see the exhibit.
Billy nodded in reply. Actually he was enjoying himself, he did like Art and music, only he was usually so preoccupied by science that he just didn't pay as much attention to those subjects as he would have liked. Say what you like but it was a rare occasion when Art had beaten one of the monsters any of these space villains had thrown at him. Science on the other hand seemed to get them everytime. This had been a refreshing change. They both walked into the Gallery and immediately stopped in their tracks. Adam took a sharp breath in shock, and heard Billy do the same beside him. The huge picture ahead of them, almost photographic in it's detail and rendering, depicted hauntingly strange temple ruins, very familiar temple ruins to them! Billy and Adam exchanged astonished looks.
"The Temple of the Ninjetti...." Billy whispered in surprise, his heart racing with shock of recognition.
The next picture was one of a compelling snowy owl which somehow suggested a powerful woman.
"Dulcea... " Adam murmured under his breath, remembering the brief kiss anew.
Billy gazed around the walls where the series continued: the Phaedos Jungle, the Dinosaur boneyard with the menace unmistakable, the Monolith of the Great Power. And finally... the moment of the Great Power released with six anonymous figures transfigured, and somehow all the glory, the power, the danger conveyed in the painting, all that he felt all that he remembered deep in his soul despite the time line alteration. It was all there. "This artist is... phenomenal." breathed Billy, struggling to express the wonder he felt.
"Thanks," a strangers' voice said behind them.
They both jumped, startled. They turned to see a young male student maybe a little older than them, with long white hair tied back giving them a warm smile. Adam tried to remember the name on the board out the front, guessing it must be the artist.
"Skye Brannon?" he asked.
"Just Skye please."The artist shook Adams hand with a slightly quizzical expression on his face, glancing from one to the other almost as if he were trying to remember where he had seen them before.
Adam felt a mild sense of deja vu himself, though he knew he'd never met him before. He would have remembered. Hair like that, and the way he favoured his left leg, too many noticeable features to forget!
"I am Adam Park, this is Billy Cranston," Adam introduced them both.
He looked at Billy, wondering if he had the same sort of feeling. The way that Billy was staring, he guessed that he did. Staring from the person who could give him lessons in shyness!
"We are really impressed with your work" Billy said and then added "Where did you get your inspiration?"
"It's a long story," the artist replied evasively.
Billy frowned slightly, unwilling to let it go at that. This was a mystery, and lord knows he loved a mystery!
"I would really like to hear about it.... Adam and I are just about to go to lunch, would you like to join us?"
Skye Brannon hesitated slightly and then nodded.
It was halfway through a pleasant, if unproductive, lunch of the exhibition's version of junk food that Adam's communicator bleeped its characteristic tune. The Green Ranger got up quickly.
"Sorry, my pager...." he exclaimed hurriedly. "Back in a minute!" And he ran off.
"That probably means we will have to leave," Billy said ruefully. "But I would still really like to know more about your pictures... which you haven't really told us about yet...." He ended on a wistful note.
Skye nodded slowly and appeared to come to a decision. He swiftly scribbled something on a scrap of paper and handed it to Billy.
"I have a lot more of this series back at my studio flat... if you want to swing by and take a look at them... this is my address and number."
Again there eyes met briefly, blue to blue and Billy felt a strange familiarity pass between them, that ignored the fact that they had met only an hour before. Had he seen him before? He had a really good memory, surely he would have remembered?
"Right, that would be great," Billy said absently, feeling like it was one of those weird time-line episodes on a sci-fi show. Either that or a severe episode of deja vu. Adam reappeared at the table suddenly.
"Sorry about this Skye, but we've got to go!" he apologized, giving Billy a meaningful look.
Uh-huh, Billy thought, another monster attack. You could set your watch by them at the moment.
"No problem," said Skye easily, waving casually. "It was nice to meet you both, maybe see you around!"
"Thanks again!" Billy said as they hurried away.
Another crisis over, another monster defeated... and a particularly stupid one at that! Billy thought derisively. Sometimes he wondered how Mondo had been able to make himself King of any type of Empire, from the total lack of imagination involved in his schemes. But I am not going to ask him to make it any more difficult, he thought wryly. That aside, and him left alone in the Power Chamber again, his mind returned to the mystery posed by the artist Skye and his pictures. How had he "seen" Phaedos? Why had he seen Phaedos? What did it mean? The questions plagued him through his normal work until, despite his natural reticence, a few days later he resolved to do something about it... quietly. If the guy turned out to be a sick weirdo then he could 'port out and nobody would be any the wiser. The way his luck was going he'd probably make a huge fool of himself, but he wouldn't tell anyone. No embarrassment, no nothing.
Billy found the apartment fairly easily in downtown Angel Grove. He stood outside the door, about to knock on the door when he stopped. What did he think he was doing!? The chances of this guy being for real were practically nil! This was ridiculous. He turned to leave when the door suddenly opened.
"Oh!" Skye jumped startled.
"Er.... Hello," Billy said nervously, just stopping himself from saying 'salutations'. He really had to concentrate to speak "properly" when he was nervous.
"I... er... thought it would be most edifying if I took up your most generous offer," he said swiftly.
Skye grinned. "I'm glad you have, come in! I was just getting some milk for a cup of coffee."
Billy cautiously followed him into the studio apartment.... Every wall and surface was littered with pictures, drying canvases and sketches. He had to dodge around beakers of water, brushes, inks and half filled palettes. He had no idea how the artist actually managed to live in this place.
"Have a look around... sorry it's a bit of tip," Skye gestured and walked into the kitchenette limping noticeably. "I'll make a drink."
Self-consciously, Billy flicked through some finished canvases. There were more views of Phaedos... some which he didn't recognize... some more normal topics and then a strangely compelling picture, obviously more recent. A frog mid-leap inside a glowing green crystal and in a shadowy background of stars he could just pick out the unmistakable features of Adam! He was stunned into silence. Skye returned with the coffee and noticed what he was looking at.
"Ah you found it then... yes, don't ask me why but the image plagued me for days after I met Adam... until I could get it painted," he explained. He coughed, a little embarrassed. "I'm not sure what it means... though the Frog is often a symbol of Transformation. It seems to suit him though"
"Oh it does." Billy agreed fervently... too well! He found himself wondering if Skye had done a picture of him... but then why would he? he questioned sourly. Adam he could understand, he could be a model after all. As if divining his thoughts Skye smiled and picked up another picture,
"This one I'd like your thoughts on...." he turned it around to show him a beautifully painted picture of a Wolf.... A Wolf turning towards a brilliant star and in the same shadowy style, a portrait of himself behind it. Billy felt an upsurge of emotion that he wouldn't have believed possible.
"I call it Questing Wolf... Do you like it?" Skye asked tentatively.
"Yes indeed... you did this after meeting us once? That's incredible!" Billy said to cover his confusion. What was going on here? He remembered Phaedos, but it wasn't easy, technically it hasn't happened and he knew he remembered it better than the others, the Zeo Rangers. And here was a total stranger, seeing into that part of him which he could barely unlock himself!
"Well it's yours," Skye said offering him the picture.
Billy was pleased and then wary, worried there was more to this gift than generosity. Even so he felt compelled to reach out and take the picture.
"There's one conditionthat I can turn it into a major piece." Skye finished. Billy nodded relieved and a trifle non-plussed. But this was not what he came here to find out. He put down his mug of coffee.
"You never did answer my question the other day," he said carefully. "Where do you get your inspiration?!" of Phaedos, of us... he added to himself.
Skye looked uncomfortable. "Since I had an....accident a couple of years back...."
Billy couldn't help but glance down at the left leg which he had noticed Skye favoring, The artist nodded, noting his attention.
"Yes my leg is somewhat wrecked, but I get by... anyway, since then I have had this kind of "altered perception"... well that's how the doctors described it." His voice faltered and he looked oddly apprehensive now that he had told Billy. The ex-ranger got the distinct impression that the artist was waiting for a barrage of ridicule over this statement.
"Extra-sensory perception?" Billy asked seriously. It would explain some of this uncanny coincidence. The artist looked relieved.
"Sort of... nothing as defined though... sometimes random, sometimes not, intense and vague." Skye shrugged, and leveled a speculative gaze at Billy. "... but when I first used to say that I believed in my pictures, that they were real to me... I got some very funny looks you know? I can't believe you are taking this seriously!" Skye finally blurted out.
Billy grinned, thinking that he would be a fine one to say that something was impossible, spending most of his time with a sentient robot and a giant head in a tube!
"I'm an open-minded scientist and if it hasn't been disproved then I am open to the possibility," he said to cover his pause.
"And you invent too, yes? " Skye said shrewdly.
Billy nodded. "Well that's a plus in the ESP evidence column," he said somewhat evasively, wary of the category "geek, nerd" that usually flashed up behind people's eye's at this point.
"So what sort of things do you invent?" Skye asked interested, sitting back, and before he knew it Billy was chatting away to the artist more easily then he ever had to anyone, save Adam or (his heart gave him a sharp pang).... Trini.
Billy tidied up his lab in his garage quickly and haphazardly. Skye was coming over in a moment, first time anyone had been round to his house in a long time. It was astonishing how swiftly they had become friends, odd in some ways, especially as he was aware that his past record of making friends had been a painful experience, not this easy instantaneous friendship. Okay, anything easy made him suspicious, there was no denying it. That was the way life had treated him.
But, learning from the past, he had checked Skye out... he had told Zordon about the pictures of Phaedos. The dossier they had compiled had been comparatively brief. Skye Brannon, 5ft 10", blue eyes, prematurely whitened hair (Billy had been surprised to find out that it wasn't bleached white) had started at the Angel Grove college of Art and Design two years ago, and since that time had made minor appearances in the local papers for his artistic endeavors, awards and such like. He had a security number, records, so he was essentially a real person. He was in fact 19, though he looked older, probably the hair. All in all, everything appeared fine. They had both checked it wasn't a trap, that they weren't being fooled. But he wasn't a fake... and oddly Zordon had appeared more discomfited by that fact than by anything else. It made him wonder if in some strange way Zordon wanted Skye to be an phony, if that would somehow be preferable to him being the real thing. In the end though Zordon had conceded it might be a good idea for them to get to know each other, but it had be a grudging endorsal.
In some ways this last week had been pretty good for me, Billy thought to himself. It was nice to have company again. Adam tried, but between his schoolwork and the constant Power Ranger crisis', and Billy's work in the Power Chamber, he had been lucky to see any of them outside of a battle... which wasn't the best time to be socializing in the midst of frantic decisions and swift action. He hardly saw them, not any more. He shook his head, he was getting melancholy again... and that was not getting his lab clean!
A knock on the door.
"Hiya Billy!" a familiar voice shouted. "I brought donuts!"
"Come on in Skye," he shouted back and grinning in the great tradition of hurried cleaning, swept a load of papers into a convenient cupboard.
"Well, well... " King Mondo mused. "Looks like the "brain" has found himself a new friend." He sat down heavily upon his throne, creaking slightly. Really, this moon base could do with some serious upgrading, wouldn't do for young Sprocket to get Pit-Rust, he pondered and then collected his thoughts.
"Maybe we can exploit this.... Klank!" he bellowed.
"Yer Majesty?" Klank replied pulling himself to full attention.
"See if there is anything that we might use against this new friend of the ex-ranger," King Mondo ordered. Klank sighed as a tedium loop ran through programming in expectation of the result of this request. Another futile kidnapping, another monster destroyed. Though it was written into his hardware that machine's are, of course, inherently superior to organics, even organics could show a degree of intelligence. It was a fact that King Mondo's algorithms just were not as flexible as they were in the past, and it took a while for an idea to be processed. Nevertheless he was the King so, as ordered, he ran a swift comprehensive analysis on the new human subject and at the sight of one of the readings his circuits nearly overloaded!
"My King!" he exclaimed incredulous. He double checked his figures. They remained the same.
"This one has the potential to try for the Star Crystal!" he announced.
"What?! But you said that you scanned the whole planet for suitable candidates when we first arrived here!" Mondo bellowed extravagantly..
"It must have developed recently, my lord," Klank said smoothly, cursing silently. He hadn't run a full scan at all... after all they were only humans, who would have thought one of them might show signs of psi talent!? Aquitians, Edenoins, Eltarians, yes, but humans? It defied all logic. But the scan still confirmed his analysis.
"Hmm well that changes this human from a distraction to a prize," Mondo said, his metal eyes glowing malevolently. Klank waited respectfully for instruction.
"Send some cogs down to get them... or better yet push them through a portal to Sionas. I'm willing to expend the vast amount of energy required if we have a possibility of controlling the Star Crystal. Without any powers, it is entirely possible that the ex-ranger will be destroyed there, as will the other one if he proves not to be capable of mastering the Star Crystal... either way, I win!" Mondo laughed. "And if he survives, then we'll see about using that delicious new cyberising ray on him and make him ourshe'll be in no shape to fend off an attack if he makes it back.... Oh what a brilliant plan!" the rotund monarch gloated. Klank groaned and set about making the "brilliant plan" actually happen.
Billy was just seeing Skye off, out down his drive when with an abrupt flash they were surrounded by metallic droids.
"Cogs!" Billy yelled in warning automatically and then abruptly realized that Skye would not have a clue what he was talking about let alone what to do. And without any powers (damn it!) to call on there was a limit to how effective he could be! Nevertheless, he hadn't been a ranger for all that time without become pretty good at fighting, even if he hadn't been the greatest warrior of the group... but every hit he took was like been struck with an iron bar.
"Zordon...." he gasped into his communicator, ducking away from the cogs. "Cog attack!"
Woah! Something very strange was going on, very strange. This was not a usual attack. Was this the "trap"?had he been wrong about Skye after all? He looked for the artist... it seemed not. Skye was buried under a mass of Cogs kicking and yelling... quite loudly and with great vigour!
"Come on guys... Where are you?" he yelled to the air desperately trying to fight his way over to Skye. More cogs appeared, which Billy noted as unusual and he soon discovered why as a peculiar glimmering portal appeared in the air. Finally, through sheer weight of numbers Billy was overwhelmed and was grabbed simultaneously by four cogs, lifted by his arms and legs and his last sight as he was thrown bodily through the portal was of the multicolored streaks of light that signaled the arrival of the Zeo Rangers... too late! He heard Adam shout out to him as he tumbled helplessly away into spiraling darkness.
"Billy!" Adam yelled in horror as the cogs threw his friend kicking and fighting through a swirling hole in space... and another person too. A flash of white hair identified who he was, it had to be that artist from the exhibition! The Zeo Rangers attacked the horde of cogs with grim determined vigour and decimated thembut by the time they had finished, the portal had vanished completely. They all looked at each other for a long silent moment, until Tommy spoke tersely.
"Back to the Power Chamber!" and the others, silent and grim, nodded.
Back in the Power Chamber, Tommy ripped off his helmet and stood before their mentor, his expression serious. "Zordon... we were too late! Billy and someone else were thrown through a strange portal," he explained.
"That was Skye Brannon, I'm sure of it." Adam spoke up, his voice troubled.
"You are correct Adam," Zordon confirmed. "I watched the attack on the viewing globe... observe."
The attack replayed, unfolding from the point when Billy had called for help. Tanya narrowed her eyes speculatively. "Is it my imagination or are they going after... Skye?" she asked.
"Is this a traditional friend seized as bait gambit?" Rocky suddenly remarked seeing the same thing.
"I do not know Rangers," Zordon admitted "We will have to locate them first."
There was an uncomfortable pause and silence as they all looked at one another. Kat smiled a little wanly brushing back her blonde hair uncomfortably. "This would be where Billy would say something like I'm already on it... or something" she said quietly.
"Well, I'll help with the scan Alpha!" Adam said firmly.
"And I will too," Rocky added much to everyone's surprise. Alpha trotted up to the two volunteers.
"This way Rangers," he said in a strangely subdued voice, leading them to the consoles.
Billy pushed himself up, feeling cold and gritty sand underneath his hands. First thing he did was look at his communicator, which appeared to be totally dead. Then he looked around at the alien surroundings appraisingly.
"We're not in Kansas any more, Toto! " he muttered aloud as he glanced up at a distinctly grape purple sky.
"Bark, woof, bark!" a dry comment answered him from a glittering sand dune to his left.
"Skye? Billy called.
"The one and only." The white-haired artist replied pushing himself up, shaking sand out of his hair and off his clothes. He absently twisted his hair back into a pony tail. They both got up slowly, Billy wincing as the results of taking on too many cogs without the benefits of power began making their presence felt.
"Where are we?" Skye asked simply, staring at the strange alien landscape.
Crystal spires sprouted out of the glittering sand like massive silicon flowers, twisting and glowing with varicolored light. Two white suns caused them to cast an oddly disturbing double shadow that in some ways was more disturbing that the most obvious alien things. The light was brittle and sharp and the air had a tang of ozone, tart and electric. There could be no doubt that this was not Earth, either that or a really good sci-fi movie set.
"To be honest, I have no idea," Billy replied simply. He looked at the sky... there were strange cloud formations building formidable walls of dense black clouds, that looked stormy. His scientific instincts were intrigued as it looked like this place saw little sign of rain. He blinked as there were bright flashes of distant lightning and thunder rumbled along the horizon.
"Well what do we do?" Skye asked.
"Maybe look for some shelter first." Billy replied carefully looking at the clouds again... "and then maybe see if we can find a way back home."
"I find it most perturbing that there is no animal or plant life here," Billy commented as they trudged over the crystal studded desert. He thought that the white-haired artist was taking this particularly well. He at least in his past experiences as a ranger had been on alien worlds... maybe the fact that Skye had had visions of other worlds was cushioning the bizarreness of the situation. There was no denying it, he was starting to feel a bit lightheaded and he clumsily stumbled slightly and gasped as his side burned. Tomorrow he would be probably unable to move, it had been like that after some of the really tough battles in the early days.
"You okay?" Skye asked concerned. He didn't like the pale drawn look that had appeared around his friends eyes.
"Fine, Fine," Billy lied trying to look confident by walking onwards.
Skye paused near a glowing rainbow filled crystal. He was shaking his head slightly if fighting some sort of conclusion he was drawing about companion.
"Billy...." Skye asked slowly and seriously "Who are you.... I mean really?"
Billy blinked, taken by surprise. "Wha... what are you talking about?" he evaded lamely.
"You know what I mean... " the artist's steel blue eyes were piercing, and they seemed to be fixing on some point inside his head!
"I'm plain old Billy" he protested, worried now.
Skye shook his head slowly and irrevocably. "If there is one thing you are not it is plain old Billy. Who do you think you are talking to?" rebuked Skye calmly.
Billy looked at him, a dark suspicion dawning "Mr. enhanced perception right?" he said wearily.
Skye nodded,"It's stronger here for some reason... much stronger, but even before... when I first saw you and Adam, you glowed. You stood out."
"How?" Billy asked warily.
"You glow blue, Adam a peculiar mixture of black and green... if you can be said to glow black," revealed Skye as if glad to get a weight off his chest.
As Billy was struggling to think up a plausible excuse, a bolt of lightening struck a crystal nearby with an acrid crack, and Skye staggered backwards dropping to one knee. Instinctively Billy reached out to pull him up to his feet and as he grasped his hands felt a shock pass between them. Skye's blue eyes widened in enlightenment.
"A Power Ranger! You are a Blue Power Ranger!" he stated with iron certainty.
Billy nearly bit his tongue in shock trying not to react. How could he know? It had to be a guess... didn't it?
"I don't know what you mean," he said weakly, mentally retreating even now at the reminder of what he had lost, what he had given up.
"No... no even now... I see," Skye said distinctly. "Clearer than ever, clearer than..." he stumbled dizzy again, but continued, a trifle disjointed but unstoppable. "You and your friends... at the very start...."
Billy listened in horrified astonishment as he reeled off the names of them all... from that first beginning to the present day. The artist finally lapsed into silence, but his eyes glittered still with an otherworldly glimmer.
Billy sighed, smoothing his ruffled blonde hair absently. There was no use in denying it, it would be pointless. He hadn't met any of the others yet he knew them all. More than likely he would be able to draw them too, perfect images of them and their powers. His blue eyes clouded at that thought.
"You are correct except for one crucial detail... I'm not a blue ranger... ex-ranger yes, I no longer have the Power." he said bitterly.
"You do have the Power," Skye said firmly "I see it!"
Lightening struck another crystal and both Billy and Skye winced in pain.
Billy mused, "There appears to be a correlation between our reaction, the lightening and the crystals... and maybe your heightened vision?" he nodded to himself speculatively, thoughts turning in his mind. Skye remained silent staring at him, watching him think. "Psi enhancer crystals maybe?" Billy said aloud.
He reached out his hand and lightly touched a nearby shimmering crystal. Abruptly his mind was filled with the glowing eyes of a wolf. PREPARE! thundered a voice in his mind. He stumbled backwards his mind screaming, but what he actually said was, "Ow! Theory proven," before he managed to get back his equilibrium.
Skye looked around at their immediate environment. The clusters appeared to crackle with storm energy. Some reached like enormous silicon trees with delicate filigree crystal leaves shimmering to the dark masses building in the sky. It was like a vast frosted wood, beautiful but cold and deadly.
"Is it just my imagination or there more crystal spires here?" he asked.
"You appear to be correct," Billy replied also noting the change in crystal density. "Maybe we shouldn't go any further."
They sat down, and Billy considered things. "One thing I would say...." he said slowly. "The reason why I was so interested in your pictures... was because they are real... they are of a place called Phaedos, another planet. I've been there."
Skye nodded, as if this wasn't really a surprise to him. "They felt real," he said simply.
"It happened to the Rangers in an altered timeline... I was one of the six from your picture," Billy finished.
"The Wolf right? and Adam is a Frog?" Skye asked intently.
Billy grinned, remembering. "Much to his disappointment."
Skye looked concerned. "Then if that part of what I saw was real... then maybe the rest of it was real too...." His face paled and he shuddered, his eyes shadow grey and unreadable.
Before Billy could ask what he meant, a retina searing lightening bolt earthed itself into a Crystal spire a few metres away. A massive screaming energy monster rose up behind them roaring with a sound that scraped their nerves like nails down a blackboard.
They scrambled to their feet with remarkable speed despite their aches and pains.
"You might have to wait for an explanation on that one...." Skye said urgently. "Run!"
Adam paced, irritated, backwards and forwards in the Power Chamber. "Have you located them yet Alpha?" he asked impatiently. This was taking too long!
"Rocky is just finishing the computer analysis of the dimensional scan," Alpha replied. Rocky strode up clutching a sheet of results.
"Here we go!" Rocky said, quite pleased with how quickly he had completed it. Alpha took the sheet and assessed the data in silence.
"Aye-yi-yie! Zordon, they are on Sionas!" Alpha exclaimed.
"This is grave, rangers," Zordon said in that tone that he used to impart serious news. Adam and Rocky exchanged worried glances. "Sionas is a very dangerous place. It is a planet claimed by the Machine Empire, but they cannot set foot on its surface."
Rocky brightened, "Well that is something," he said hopefully. Surely that was good news. Adam shook his head.
"Why is it so dangerous? And why would they be sent there?" he asked flatly.
Zordon answered carefully. "Sionas possesses huge deposits of mind-crystals, that enhance thoughts and mind abilities. There is one particular very powerful meta-crystal which King Mondo has been trying to obtain for centuries, but so far no living creature has survived the planet because it gives form to their darkest thoughts, which eventually destroys them. The intense electro-magnetism also immediately scrambles any mechanical contrivance," Zordon explained.
So why Billy?" Adam asked and then hesitated. That didn't feel right. Mondo would have surely done this before if it were something to do with his genius friend. "Or is it Billy at all... possibly Skye?" he said suddenly.
Zordon was quiet for a moment. "It does appear that Skye Brannon has some natural highly developed psi-abilities, it maybe that Mondo thinks that he will be able to find the Star Crystal and use it," he said.
"This isn't like a Zeo crystal is it?" Adam asked hopefully. Maybe there was a chance that Billy could get some powers, that would help a lot! In fact, he had a feeling that a lot of problems would be solved if Billy regained the Power.
Zordon shook his head "This is not a Ranger Power Adam," he explained. "The Star Crystal can only be controlled by someone with high psi ability. It does not tap into the morphin grid, and there are no morphin abilities or zord connections involved." Zordon's voice was sombre.
Adam's rising hope was abruptly quashed.
"Can we teleport them out then?" Rocky asked urgently.
"The electromagnetic interference is too great to gain a lock," Alpha reported quietly. They looked at the arcing lightening leaping from spire to spire in the Viewing Globe and hope began to flicker and die.
"Then what do we do!?" Adam asked emotionally but before he got an answer the sirens and alarms flashed and blared calling them to a monster attack in down town Angel Grove.
Running through sand is the pits, Billy thought as he ran, especially when your sides were killing you and a couple of large savage looking 6 metre high monsters are chasing you. "We're being herded!" Billy gasped out as they paused briefly. The crystal's ahead were larger and in thicker clusters, glittering and beautiful... and no doubt deadly. Skye clutched at his bad leg, grimacing as it cramped.
"I can tell," he replied, getting his breath. "but to where and what are those things behind us?"
Billy had a sudden inspiration, and mentally cursed himself for being so blind. "Did you ever see that old film, Forbidden Planet?" he asked excitedly. "Where they were all destroyed by the fears from the scientists subconscious?"
Skye looked at him, comprehension dawning. "You're saying that those things are our... fears?" The artist looked fearful, and screwed up his face as if he had bitten a wasp."Oh yeah that's a pleasant thought."
"I'm afraid so.... It makes sense if these are all mind enhancing crystals, they would pick up our dominant thoughts and give them form through the lightening energy," Billy said. "And if that is the case, we are in a huge amount of trouble."
Skye frowned and then his expression brightened. "Hold on just a moment... let me try something."
"Make it quick....very quick!" Billy warned... looking nervously at the way they had come for sign of the monsters.
There was a brief flash of rainbow light from the crystal around them and there was a glossy black Raven perched on the top of the crystal eyeing them. Billy stared at the apparition.
"Well it worked after all that...." Skye said opening his eyes. Seeing Billy's perturbed frown he explained swiftly. "I reasoned that if our fears became manifest, then maybe parts of our high minds could too... in many cultures, Raven in the keeper of the hidden knowledge." Billy was impressed and instinctively bowed his head to Raven before rapidly asking questions.
"Raven may I ask you questions?" he said cautiously.
"You may." The Raven's voice was oddly melodious.
"Raven, where are we being herded?"
"You are being directed towards the heart of this world, to the Star Crystal," Raven replied.
"What is that?" Billy asked curiously.
"A meta-crystalas diamond is to coal, so this is to these crystal spires, but infinitely more precious," Raven described solemnly. It flapped its gleaming obsidian black wings to command attention and continued. "It is for one of you... and it is the only way that you will ever leave this planet."
"Is it dangerous?" Billy asked, his mind racing.
"All objects of power are dangerous, the one who takes it will have to master it." The edge in the Raven's tone made it obvious that this would not be an easy task. Billy nodded and asked one final desperate question.
"What else do we need to know?"
"You need a guide."
In a flurry of swirling shadow the Raven was gone. A guide? Almost unbidden a shape, a familiar form leapt to the forefront of Billy's mind. A blue tinged Wolf shimmered into existence in front of them, shocking Billy speechless.
"Greetings, my cub!" the Wolf said radiating pleasure and a warm friendly presence.... "I have but a very short time here... let us go."
Billy reached out with a trembling hand to touch its head and with a mischievous expression in its glowing golden eyes the Wolf licked him sloppily. Billy spluttered... and then laughed. "You licked me!"
"What did you expect?" replied the wolf as it started to lead them away. "It is the nature of wolves to play... remember that."
"This is your wolf?" Skye asked smiling. Billy nodded in response, still overwhelmed.
"Bet he's a riot at parties," the artist said in a dry voice as they set off again.
The Zeo Rangers had their hands full battling the latest effort of the Machine Empire to conquer the world... a grotesque parody of the Tin Man from a local production of the Wizard of Oz. This guy was after hearts... in a warped rewrite of the plot. He seemed to be able to put people into stasis so he could collect his prizes later. Also, Alpha had gravely informed them he had an immensely powerful Axe. Alpha had not been wrong; that Axe had been tossing them around Angel Grove Park rather successfully for the past half hour. Adam shook his head getting up from another blast, just in time to see Kat take a hit on the monsters backswing. He couldn't help but wondered what was happening to Billy and Skye. They could really use Billy now... with a device or some strategy. Jason covered Adam's recovery with a blast from the Gold Power staff, as Rocky leapt to Kat's aid.
"This is doing us no good," The Gold ranger said with effort. "This battle is going nowhere fast!" He finished kicking a stray cog out of the picture.
"The Rules stop us from escalating the conflict, you know that!" Tanya said as she anxiously checked on Adam. The Green Ranger was a little winded but appeared to be okay. She suddenly realized that most of the team had been momentarily been overwhelmed leaving Rocky and Tommy alone... with a sick premonition Tanya began to turn when she heard a familiar cry.
"Oh my God!" Kat yelled "Tommy!"
They turned to look as the Tin Man caught the Red Ranger in the side with his Axe. Tommy had obviously tried to take him on alone to cover their recovery as Rocky helped Kat. There was a massive explosion and Tommy was tossed through the air like a rag doll and landed surrounded in a sickly rusty glow. Rocky ran over to him and with surprising strength picked up their fallen leader.
"Tommy's hurt!" he shouted. the Monster laughed and swung at him as he jumped back the blade grazing his armour in a shower of vivid energy sparks.
Adam and Jason exchanged glances and took the fore. "Rocky, get him back to the Power Chamber," the Green Ranger shouted as the others formed up in fighting stance around them. Things were getting just worse and worse.
The Wolf had lead them swiftly to a crystal plateau, where they could see, sparkling like an elongated star the object of their search glittering in plain sight and apparently within easy reach. The wolf turned and looked at Billy with a wistful hunger before fading away to nothing. The ex-ranger felt a surge of loss and loneliness and sighed to himself. Being the Wolf had always been the best, then he had never been alone.
"Well, we're obviously on our own." Skye said aloud, breaking his reverie abruptly.
Billy considered the Star crystal with an experienced eye. "There is no feasible way that it is that easy to get," he speculated.
It might as well have "trap" written all over it. They waited a while as Billy frowned and examined the area for obvious traps... and the sounds of monsters grew louder and closer. In the end Billy decided on the trial and error approach and walked forward slowly.
"Billy...." Skye warned concerned.
"I will endeavor to be exceptionally careful," Billy replied nervously, inching forward. He was about three metres away when suddenly his whole body felt as if he were enveloped by fire, he could hear the crackling flames, even smell the burning of hair and flesh. Crying out in pain he staggered backwards and into a sharp blessed relief. He looked down at his trembling hands and was relieved to see them unmarked by fire.
"Billy?! You okay?" Skye asked in concern steadying him. Billy composed himself breathing heavily.
"Fine.... Somehow I don't think this is for me," he said regretfully. Time to give up another power, he thought... though to be fair, this wasn't his, he could sense that much himself.
He took a deep breath and shot the artist a look. "I think you should try."
"You sure?" Skye queried uncertain.
"We were told that it was the only way off this planet... and I believe it. After all, that information came from ourselves, we've got to try."
Skye reluctantly nodded and limped forwards, bracing himself for the worse but found that though he was aware of the shield, he was immune to its agonizing effects. He stopped and looked back when he reached the spire with the Star crystal perched within a hands grasp.
"So... do I just take the crystal? Oh hey, I see some sort of writing on the spire thing," Skye said nervously.
"Can you tell what is says?" Billy asked. The strange writing shimmered into a readable form.
"The Claimer will be claimed.... I think" Skye read out. "Any idea what it means?"
"None as yet," Billy sighed. There were too many things about this that he didn't know for him to feel comfortable about any of it.
"Well, do I take it? " Skye asked again staring at the crystal shimmering rainbows at him. He wanted it... it called to him... but through his brief touches of Billy's mind he also felt his desperate hope for a return of the power, a return to the team. Maybe there would be a way to transfer this power to Billy later. The ex-ranger nodded slowly in response to his question.
Skye took a deep breath and reached forward. The moment his hand closed around the crystal, all hell let loose! Lightening arced from the sky and discharged from the crystals around them into the Star Crystal wreathing Skye in silver white electric fire. Skye appeared paralyzed, trapped in an ever increasing firestorm. The resulting thunderclaps appeared to shake the earth with their intense sound. Billy panicked briefly; how could he reach him beyond the shield?. The answer arrived... he'd have to reach him very quickly! He took a running leap at his friend. The pain was intense as he sailed throw the air but mercifully brief as he knocked Skye down.
"Get us out of here!" he cried out as the flames appeared to envelop him once more.
The lightening lashed at him and struck him on the leg as Skye, instinctively obeying Billy's desperate command and his own instinct for survival, tapped into the forces of the Star Crystal, willing them away from this dangerous place. In a dark jolt totally unlike teleporting using the morphin' grid they were suddenly collapsed outside his house again in an incongruously sunny and pleasant afternoon. Skye, his white hair wild and tousled by the rough trip, tried to get up and then with a weak sigh slumped back to the ground. He looked drained and exhausted.
"So tired," he mumbled straining to keep his eyes open.
Billy got up painfully feeling everyone of his bruises clamoring for attention, and reached for his communicator just as Cogs appeared once more.
"Oh give me a break!" Billy yelled to the air in frustration.
Like he hadn't had a tough enough time already today. Obviously, Mondo was trying to retrieve Skye whilst he was weakened... presumably that was a side effect of the psi-teleport. Well Billy wasn't going to just sit here and let that happen, Powers or no Powers. Ignoring all his aches and pains he battled the Cogs hoping that Alpha would register the attack and teleport them both out. He saw a Cog lift some sort of device and aim it at the weakly struggling Skye, and pushed him out of the way again. The bush behind Skye became enveloped in a crackling glow which faded revealing the leaves to be laced with delicate metallic circuitry.
"A cyberiser! So that's how Mondo thought he was going to get control of Skye and the Crystal!" Billy exclaimed, the pieces falling into place.
The Cog turned again and Billy rolled under the line of fire and with a legsweep knocked the Cog off balance. The Cog dropped the cyberiser as Billy grabbed for it.
"I wonder what effect a cyberiser would have on metal?" he mused and with a hint of steel in his blue eyes leveled it at the Cog. From the way the Cog cringed in fear, not a nice one. With a wolfish smile Billy fired at the Cogs and then watched in mild astonishment as the cogs began to self destruct as their circuitry tried to rewrite itself too quickly.
"Prodigious." Billy said amazed.
"Billy..." Skye interrupted weakly. "Put the weapon down," he said with a strong hint of urgency in his voice.
"Why?" Billy wanted to keep it- think of what a help it would be!
"There's something wrong... dangerous... feel it." Skye said. Billy hesitated, noticed that the Star Crystal in the artists hand was glowing and then abruptly threw the weapon away. He suddenly had to duck as it exploded midair. He was stung by a few flying pieces of debris, but that faded into insignificance compared to the thought of it exploding in his hand.
"If that had... I mean... oh my god...." he gulped and then helped Skye up.
He examined his communicator in more detail... obviously if Alpha had not picked them up the Rangers must be in battle elsewhere.... Ah, a loose connection. He twisted a few wires together and grabbed hold of Skye.
"I'm going to teleport us to the... well you will see...." he said. It was difficult to explain.
"I know... the Power Chamber." Skye said indistinctly
"Wha... How did you know that?" Billy asked.
"Guess I picked up more than just who the Power Rangers are... from your mind." Skye whispered. The ex-ranger hoisted him up more securely, feeling uncomfortable with the idea that anyone had seen any part of his mind, but put that to one side. He could not leave Skye where the Machine Empire might get him, not whilst he was so weak.
"Lets go!" Billy said and they flashed away to the Power Chamber.
The sight that met them on arrival was worrying. Alpha rushing around from console to console. Tommy was apparently unconscious on a table, still morphed, the Rangers in the viewing globe obviously struggling with a particularly ugly looking monster. Billy let Skye slide to the ground gently.
"I've er...." he struggled to explain, not wanting to just drop him and run, but knowing that was exactly what he had to do.
"I understand Billy... I'll be okay...." Skye said simply.
"Billy! I am very glad you have been able to return," Zordon said warmly. "The other rangers are experiencing difficulties."
Billy nodded, moving briskly to a control panel, and began working.
"I can see... I had to bring Skye here Zordon," he explained hurriedly as he processed information. "He discovered our identities, everybody's. Right from the start."
"I understand," Zordon replied.
Billy was surprised, Zordon was taking this very well. Before, there had been lectures and diatribes on the seriousness of someone knowing the identities of the Rangers. All his carefully planned reasons were suddenly not necessary. A tiny voice inside of Billy piped up, What does he know? Why is this different? but it became lost in a morass of technical problems.
"Ah well... he's weak from psi-teleporting us both and the Cogs were after him... I thought it best that he be protected here." Well, why waste the basics of a good excuse, he thought.
Zordon inclined his head, "You are correct Billy.... Now the others need your expertise," he said. "Alpha has been unable to find a significant weakness in the Tin Man monster."
Billy nodded. His brief glance at the readouts had told him as much.
"What about Tommy?" he asked concerned, glancing at the motionless Red Zeo Ranger. Sometimes these problems were progressive.
"He is in a stasis field created by the Tin Man. His life signs are stable," Alpha contributed.
"Then he is fine for now." Billy turned to Alpha's data frowning. Alpha had been as ever, thorough, covering all the conventional options, deflectors forcefields and all the rest of it... but sometimes these problems needed a quirky human perspective. His mind began to work furiously.
"Tin Man... tin man....what slowed down the tin man?" He had found that these monsters followed a bizarre internal logic. He muttered and then froze. The Tin Man had been rusted to a standstill when Dorothy found him... a simple but effective ploy. Obviously "rust" was a misnomer, but what about a hyper-oxidant? Moving quickly he projected a computer analysis of ignoring the progressively insistent pain from all over his body.
"Yes! A positive result!" Billy exulted. "Alpha, I need a cylinder of the Zord hyper-oxidant."
He ran to his laboratory in the Power Chamber a grabbed a basic spray gun.
"A little reinforcing... Here, a control mechanism there... and the hyper-oxidant cylinder... Thanks Alpha... and there! An instant rust gun!"
Billy looked at the Rangers in the Viewing Globe. They were busy fighting, he would have to go down himself. He grabbed the rust gun and turned to Zordon and Alpha.
"I'm teleporting down there Alpha," he said firmly.
"Aye-yie-yie, be careful Billy!"
"I will, look after Tommy and Skye." And with that, he vanished in a stream of light.
Skye pushed himself up. At least he had enough strength to stand now which was an improvement. But he still felt like he had been run over by a truck. A big truck. Possibly a convoy. He looked up at the huge floating head in a tube and took a deep breath. It was one thing to pick up the image Billy's mind, quite another to see it all in person. He felt compelled to speak.
"Er hi... you must be Zordon," he said hesitantly.
"Welcome to the Power Chamber, Skye Brannon, I have been waiting to meet you for a while." Zordon said. "You are now the holder of the Star Crystal... it is a great responsibility," He intoned. Skye nodded solemnly.
"You understand about the oath of silence required about the Power Rangers?" continued Zordon.
"I do," Skye confirmed. Indeed, even in that brief contact with Billy's mind the oath of silence had been vivid in its intensity. He held the Star Crystal up in his hand. "Is there anyway that I can give this to Billy? Anyway at all?" The Crystal shimmered and sang in his mind.
"I am afraid not," Zordon replied regretfully."The Star Crystal can only be mastered by one with a naturally high psychic abilitywhich you possess. None of the other Rangers have the same type of ability."
Skye sighed. "I had hoped that maybe... well then I think I will need some help with this," he said. He looked over at the Red Zeo Ranger
"How is... Tommy?" he asked, lifting his name from what he had seen of Billy's memories.
"He is in Stasis," Alpha said "Aye yie-yi... but the other Rangers really need him."
Skye walked over to Tommy. The glittering song of the Star Crystal seemed to fill his mind... with a prompting, an urging to action.
"Maybe..." he began "Maybe I can do... something...?" He looked at Zordon, who paused.
"It is possible," the Eltarian admitted. He seemed to be almost holding his breath as if this was some sort of test for the artist. Skye reached towards Tommy and closed his eyes letting an instinctive force guide him. His mind embraced the stasis field, bonded with its energies then... a sharp twist, a wedge... glittering bright like a knife and the Stasis field collapsed with a gentle dispersal of energy. Skye sank down, exhausted again. This Star Crystal business was proving to be very tiring! Tommy shot awake with a yell.
"Ow... damn that hurt! Guys?" Tommy looked around confused. "What am I doing in the Power Chamber?" he was even more surprised to see a stranger in the Power chamber slumped next to him. He looked ill... but Tommy recognized him as the person abducted alongside Billy.
"What happened? What's going on?" he asked.
"You became locked in stasis when you were hit by the Axe of the TinMan. Billy managed to return from Sionas and has managed to devise a weapon to assist the Rangers, and has taken it to them. Skye managed to break the stasis surrounding you," Zordon replied.
"Oh thanks... er, Skye..." Tommy said, trying to take in the news. It seem like just a moment ago when he was facing Tin Man and the Axe sheered down towards.... He pushed the memory away.
"S'okay Tommy" Skye responded tiredly. Tommy looked at the viewing globe, taking in the troubling scene and his expression hardened into purposeful lines.
"I have got to get back to the others." The red Ranger focused his mind and shouted, "Back to Action!" before disappearing in a brilliant flash of crimson light. Skye decided that now would probably be as good a time as any to sleep. Not that he could have stopped himself if he tried.
Billy teleported in close to the battle hearing the sounds of conflict nearby to the right of him. He sneaked closer, knowing he would only get one true shot. With any luck, that would be all he needed. He lined up the shot closely only ten metres from the monster and made sure no-one was around before shouting, "Guys! get clear!"
Startled, the Zeo Rangers glanced around and seeing Billy, jumped out of the way.
Finally, a clear shot! Billy fired a stream of hyper-oxidant with calculated precision and with great satisfaction saw the oxidizing effect begin to occur immediately, effectively paralyzing Mondo's creation. Tommy flashed in and the team formed up again to finish it off.
Billy sighed... just for a moment, a very brief moment he'd felt like it was the old days again. Slightly subdued, he transported back to the Power Chamber. The battle with Mondo's monster was probably going to be very predictable from this point onwards.
Finding Skye asleep on the floor of the Power Chamber and his well-meant attempt to move him to a couch had brought it home to him that he was more than a little battered himself. He was dabbing at the burn on his right legthe lightening burn, he had been struck by lightening, who would believe it!when he heard the others return. Damn, and he wasn't finished yet. He listened as Zordon congratulated them on their victory with a small wry smile on his face.
"Billy?" He heard Adam calling.
"In here," he replied barely raising his voice... if he stopped now he'd lose the grip he had on the dressing. One handed wound dressing was not easy. Adam came in.
"What are you doing Billy?"
Billy indicated his leg and a few cuts and a lot of bruises. "Patching myself up. It's about time we had a proper medical facility up here," he said flippantly, and then seriously considered it. Adam watched unsure of what to say.
"Here let me help," he said suddenly, picking up a sterile swab. Billy was surprised but acquiesced.
"Adam? Billy?" Tanya's voice echoed.
"In here," they chorused. Tanya and Rocky appeared at the door.
"Zordon has just been explaining to us about Skye," Tanya said.
"Yeah, Tommy and Jason are asking how he found out." There was a question in that statement from Rocky. Unconsciously they all glanced at the sleeping artist and at the gleaming crystal he held even now in his hand.
"Sionas crystal had a peculiar property of enhancing the powers of the mind. Skye already had some abilities in this area and was able to pick up who everyone was out of my mind," Billy tried to explain. There was an uncomfortable silence. Adam took a deep breath. "We tried to get you out, but we couldn't," Adam explained in a guilty rush, "We found you, but the interference blocked all our attempts to teleport you."
Billy nodded. "I thought as much... it was fortunate that the Star Crystal enabled Skye to teleport us both out of there."
"And hey, you saved our butts out there today," Rocky added.
Tanya smiled "We just wanted to say thank you," she finished warmly.
Billy smiled a little but then he noticed the wary glances exchanged by Adam and Rocky, and his blue eyes became like chips of deep glacier ice. "But Tommy and Jason aren't happy that I went into battle hmm?" he stated. "Ow, careful Adam," he winced.
The three Zeo Rangers looked guilty. "They're just worried that you might get hurt!" Rocky said defensively. "Because you don't...." He stopped, gulping back the words.
Billy's expression could have made them permafrost. "... have any Powers, I know." He turned away hearing a muffled omff from Rocky as one of the others hit him. What was he to say? It's okay, I don't mind, I don't miss the Powers it's not a problem?
No... He looked up and said "I'll try to be more... careful."
He deliberately didn't remind them that none of his injuries had been caused by him joining the battle. Rocky smiled and nodded accepting the words at face-value, whilst inwardly Billy seethed. Not even a hint of his emotions appeared on his face, though Adam looked troubled.
"You guys get some rest," he said finally breaking the uncomfortable silence. "I'll bring Skye down to meet everyone properly when he wakes up."
Later, when they had gone, Billy sat frozen, his thoughts whirling. God he wanted the Powers, he really did. He understood that the Star Crystal was not for him, and it was nothing like a ranger power, but the lack of the Zeo power, it still haunted him. Oh he'd known, he'd known something had been wrong from not long after the destruction of the Command Center. He'd been ill... experienced some strange symptoms but hadn't told them because he didn't want them to worry about it.
But had they even bothered to ask? a traitorous voice sounded. Once you got up and took charge did anyone ask if you were all right?
Even before the test confirmed it he knew deep down he was never going to be able to accept the Zeo powers. But he had hoped the Gold Powers would be that much stronger, and overcome the anti-protons. No joy there. No joy anywhere. The ache... the loss... that emptiness, and the growing isolation, sometimes it would just grow and grow and grow... and maybe one day it would never stop....
Billy got up suddenly and briskly began to draw up charts and design schematics for a new medical centre in the Power Chamber. It was imperative that they have one as soon as possible... otherwise, next time it could be one of his friends getting hurt.
As he walked away, the Star Crystal flared with blue light in Skye's hands... and the image of the wolf and the star burned in his dreaming mind more vivid than ever. He stood with the Star shining through him, his eyes questioning. The Wolf seemed to look directly into the dreaming artist soul, promising him something for himself and something for his new friend, for them all... something... something powerful, something dangerous before fading into the shadows, though his presence remained and the same echoing alien words resounded in the vaults of his mind....
Zordon, his heart sinking, listened carefully to the chilling words repeating over and over from the sleeping artist.
"M'Khi lucea-sa!! Zha'Khee-ree aa!" Skye whispered in his sleep.
And though it was a phrase that had not been heard for many, many millennia Zordon knew what it meant in a heartbeat that separated him from hopeful uncertainty about the future to despairing certain knowledge.
"The Sun goes Down," he translated in a stricken voice to himself. "Behold The Darkness Visible."
And in the empty room the shadows seemed to draw strength from his words.