Disclaimer: Surprisingly enough I still don't own the Power Rangers, but anything you don't recognize belongs to me. This is the third in the series, so if you haven't read Questing Wolf or Wolf in Darkness you might be a bit lost. Hope you all enjoy it!
Rocky DeSantos walked into the Juice Bar in a desultory manner. Surprise, surprise, he was alone again. It wasn't like the other Rangers were ignoring him, but it suddenly seemed as if they didn't have time for him at the moment and well....he sighed. Not that he was sorry that Billy was happier than he had been in a long time, but it just seemed that he hardly saw Adam at the moment, or the others as they always seemed to be going out and doing something. This morning was a case in point ; Tommy and Jason were off training, Billy and Adam had gone to the Power Chamber to look at the latest gadget and Tanya and Kat had gone with Skye Brannon, their latest "makeover project" to the Mall. Apparently for an artist he was an incredible fashion victim and desperately in need of their services. He had hardly seen his friends outside of a battle, and as they had been having a comparatively quiet time as regards Mondo's activities of late, in the past few days that had been not at all.
"All right Rocky?" a voice called out. Rocky frowned a little before turning. Skye had obviously made good his escape from the girls. He wasn't exactly comfortable around the Star Crystal Ninjetti, though Skye had been pleasant enough on the few occasions they had spoken. It just seemed to him that it was very unlikely that he would have much in common with an artist.
"Fine" he said perfunctorily turning back to the bar. The scowl on his usually jovial features belied his answer. Skye limped over undeterred.
"Mind if I join you?" the artist asked. Rocky shrugged.
Skye looked at him appraisingly "Say, I'll treat you....I'll just get us both something."
Rocky sat down. He wasn't sure if he would have preferred to be alone or not, but he couldn't be rude. Tactless maybe, but impolite never...he grinned softly to himself. And company was company after all.
With a clatter of a spoon and dish a heaped bowl was dumped in front of him.
"Ernie's Chocolate special!" he exclaimed in surprise, digging in "How did you know?".
Skye grinned "A side-effect of my mysterious powers...the uncanny ability to sense the need for ice-cream!" he chuckled sipping his own drink.
Rocky smiled with a mouthful of ice-cream, unsure if he was being serious or not. Truth was, this whole business of being able to pick up thoughts and emotions was enough to make him very uneasy. There were a few thoughts he would much rather keep to himself. Not to mention a few emotions too. The combination of which would probably cause a huge amount of problems, so it was best that they stayed hidden as they had done up until now. He couldn't deny that Billy seem much happier for knowing Skye, but when it came down to it, they didn't really know what had happened on Phaedos. Best to stick to ice-cream and be done with it, keep the topic on conversation on the chocolate chip level.
Skye sipped his drink "So..." he said casually "What's wrong?"
Rocky looked up at him automatically suspicious "You reading my mind?"
"No, Rocky I'm reading your face..." Skye said quietly, "You look like a wet weekend...that's just not you."
"Yeah, happy-go-lucky Rocky...I know" Rocky replied cynically. Skye just looked at him with a penetrating stare not saying a word. The Blue Ranger hated that. Whenever he had pushed the mark with Adam or Aisha all they had to do was go silent on him and watch him punish himself and finally confess to anything and everything just to get them to talk to him again. Finally he couldn't stand the silence.
"Look...it's stupid - selfish perhaps, but I'm feeling a little left out." he felt foolish now he had said it but there was no -"oh don't be so silly, or anything..." . Heartened he continued.
"Well...look at me, where are my friends? Adam is meant to be my best friend, Tommy and I used to spar all the time and now Jason is back...he doesn't have time for me. Adam is out with Billy or Tanya...Kat's with Tommy or out with Tanya...." he trailed off feeling sorry for himself. He knew he was indulging in self pity and how stupid it sounded, but it didn't stop him feeling the way he felt. He played with the melting ice-cream.
"So they have never asked you to go with them?" Skye questioned gently.
Rocky flushed. "Well...sometimes" he admitted.
"And you didn't go?" Skye asked innocently his gray blue eyes glinting with amusement.
"Well Billy is a genius, Adam is pretty smart and I'm, well I'm "good old Rocky"...Tommy has Kat, Adam has Tanya and I....have no-one like that." Rocky lapsed into silence, mentally kicking himself. That was one subject he did not want to be thinking about with a mind reader near to him. Skye looked at him sharply in that disconcerting manner that made you believe he was reading words scrolling across the inside of your head.
"Do you want me to tell you a few truths Rocky?" he asked finally.
Rocky shrugged. Truth - he was open as they came. Everyone knew what he was thinking. Usually very little, he added to himself sourly
"Rocky...you know you are not stupid, it is just easier to be regarded that way."
Stung Rocky looked up. He hadn't expected that. "What do you mean?"
"Your past friends, before Adam and Aisha, didn't like anyone too smart did they? So it was easier to play dumb and fit in...and now you feel trapped in that role, you've nearly convinced yourself!" Skye made his point forcefully. The Star crystal gleamed around his neck in response to his intensity.
"I..." Rocky stuttered in denial and then slumped. He could not believe that the artist had seen something he had managed to gloss over for years.
"But it is true!" he said. "What am I compared to them?"
Skye looked astonishingly very angry .
"Don't ever say that! You may not be a Billy type genius...but do we really need more than one? You have things to contribute that the others do not...they NEED you!"
Rocky shrugged again, not trusting himself to speak. He'd always felt that somehow there had been a mistake, that the Blue Ranger had to solve all the problems like Billy always did, and he just couldn't do that. It wasn't a natural part of him and he felt like he wasn't needed as the Blue Ranger, not like he had been as the Red. Though he couldn't bring himself to accept the artists words, he felt reassured nonetheless.
Skye continued. "Listen..." he said in a low voice. "You were chosen first by the Red to lead the Power Rangers which is an accolade in itself. But you have also been chosen by the Blue. For a while I have been trying to understand something that Dulcea told me on Phaedos about those chosen by the Blue. The Blue never selects those without intelligence and it strives to promote wisdom and learning, and to do that it demands sacrifice. You cannot learn without experience. Be glad that your primary color is Red, as from what I understand much is demanded of those that are of the Blue. It seems to test through life, whereas the Red tests through crisis and battle. This will affect you also, as it affects all those who take the Blue Power. There is one thing that you can take from this, you have that intelligence within you and that you are worthy, otherwise you would not be able to hold the Blue Powers, Zeo or otherwise."
Rocky sat stunned for a moment. No-one tended to discuss this sort of thing with him, yet he understood the whole feeling Skye was trying to convey. There was a completely different feel to being a blue ranger to be a red, although he had not been sure if it was the difference between morphin' power and Zeo power.
"I think I understand...but red I understand, it feels familiar to me...blue...I'm not entirely comfortable with" he trailed off. The reasons why were obvious really.
"You've never really forgiven yourself for being a Blue Zeo Ranger when you felt Billy should have been huh? That's the main reason you feel uncomfortable around him." identified Skye astutely.
Rocky stared. "I never said that!"
"You didn't have to" replied Skye . "But it is true yes?".
Rocky nodded mutely. "It is" he admitted. Some break this was turning out to be. Come in for an ice cream and end up reexamining your life!
"Billy needs friends, Rocky...how you have felt the last few weeks, he has felt like that for most of his life - and worse" Skye said. "All of you need each other...I can't explain why, but I feel it is important that the team is close, there can be no tensions or uneasiness. This will be vital in the future I feel it. You have a chance to mend that breach, to show everyone that they have underestimated you. Billy's birthday is in a couple of weeks, maybe you can think of something you might do to surprise him."
Rocky nodded and then smiled mischievously. Oh he had an idea all right! If he could pull it off. He felt much better and much to his surprise considerably at ease with the Star Ninjetti now.
"Thanks Skye" he said warmly. "That's why you are going round getting to know everyone huh?" he said slyly. He had the pleasure of seeing the artists eyes widen in surprise.
"I thought I was being subtle." he said a little shamefaced.
"Oh you are.....come in buy a guy a drink and turn his life inside out and put it back facing the right way, very subtle." Rocky said pulling his leg a little. "And don't think I didn't notice you getting on with Tanya and Kat. Every guy I know would run a mile before submitting to a Mall makeover willingly."
"Well and truly rumbled..." Skye confessed "But I meant it all....it's just very important. Besides I can't say they didn't make a difference." Rocky had to agree; shades of gray suited the artist especially with that bright white hair of his. It wasn't as if he need bright colors to make him stand out in a crowd.
"Well I owe you one. I needed a good kick to get me out of it." Rocky said finishing off his drink.
Skye slurped down the last of his smoothie and got up. " Tell you what...you could do me a favor too."
Oddly the Star Crystal Ninjetti looked embarrassed. "This is stupid, and I know that I am not a ranger or whatever and never likely to be, but because I do hang out with you guys, I do seem to catch the front edge of the fights with the Cogs before ëporting away. "
He coughed a little. "You may have noticed, but I've had my butt kicked within....ooo average of ten seconds. It's frankly embarrassing. Part of it is to do with a legitimate excuse." he indicated his bad leg. "but realistically, I've seen you guys fight without full mobility many times and its basically the fact that when it comes to self-defense, a kitten could beat me up!"
"Sure yeah!" Rocky replied accepting the challenge eagerly "I've got to admit that basically...when it comes to fighting ....you...."
"Suck - big time?" supplied Skye succinctly.
"Well tact was never my thing." Rocky grinned "Okay you suck, and rumor has it you suck worse than Billy did when they first started."
Skye winced. "That bad huh? We better get started as soon as possible!"
"How about now? It's nice day...we go try in the park...where you won't be too much on show!" Rocky laughed as they walked outside into the sunshine.
Later it crossed Rocky's mind that Skye might have somehow known that Tommy and Jason might drop by although there was no logical foundation for that suspicion. The three rangers became embroiled in a discussion about how Skye could best counter the inherent weakness in his left side. They had got really involved until later in the afternoon Skye had had to cry off laughing in sheer exhaustion. Next thing he'd known, Tommy, Jason and himself had been trying out combinations on each other, sparring and comparing their different styles. It had turned into a really good afternoon and it had dawned on them at some point in the afternoon that they had all been Red Rangers which gave them an underlying bond of common experience.
Suddenly it seemed that half of his problem had been resolved just like that. His niggling jealousy about Tommy and Jason evaporated in the space of a couple of hours as he realized that his temporary exclusion had not been personal, just to do with two old friends catching up. He began to think seriously about Skye's other suggestions and what they had discussed.
Billy walked into his house with a grin on his face. Skye was in the kitchen making coffee and threw a can of soda to Billy as he came in the door. He caught it neatly.
"It's time's like this" he said, cracking open the can "That I am glad my Dad asked you to stay."
"My unspeakable good influence on you - you see, as well as my marvelous coffee making skills." Skye countered. "Just because I filter coffee for him the way he likes it...he won't let me leave the house!"
"Ah but you cheated, like you did with this ice cold can...." Billy said, his blue eyes sparkling with humor.
"Well okay I admit it, I sensed you walking up the road." Skye said and then yawned.
Billy looked at him closely. He did look a bit tired. "You okay?" he asked concerned.
"Not enough sleep, and too much ninja tuition from Rocky. Finally got tired of having the living daylights trashed out of me before I can yell for help. Mind you it did result in a new nickname for me, "Snowball" - apparently that's the type of chance I have in a fight at the moment." Skye replied quirking a smile.
"Those dreams again?" Billy asked not to be put off though he grinned. That had to be one of Rocky's. A snowballs chance in hell, he knew how that went!.
Skye nodded slowly. "When isn't it? Sometimes I feel I do more work in my sleep than I do when I'm awake." His dreams were getting worse and more and more frequent. He was spending a lot of time awake now, a lot more than ever before.
Billy laughed and let the subject drop. "Well you'll be pleased to hear that I finished off the Zord Maintenance Droids this morning - I really don't know why I didn't think of it before!"
Skye had suggested that instead of fixing every little thing that he create something to fix the basic things and deal with the more important problems himself. Surprisingly the Zord Maintenance droid had not been that difficult to design once he had realized that to get them to work on their own initiative all he had to do was to transplant a modified matrix from Alpha's neuronet. Hopefully they would be able to undertake complex repair tasks on their own initiative.
Skye quirked an eyebrow "You didn't want the free time then." he said. Billy nodded soberly. All too true.
"Before I forget.." Skye began. "You have to meet your father after work."
"I do?" Billy said surprised. First he'd heard about it.
Billy sighed. "If you say so."
Skye chuckled "My word Billy, a sentence composed entirely of monosyllables!"
Billy smiled "A suitably impressive demonstration of economic language, don't you think?" he replied in a mock pompous voice before they both started laughing.
Skye teleported himself to the Power Chamber, a lot easier with a communicator than doing it by psi power, much much easier! He didn't intend to psi-teleport ever again if he could help it. Once had been quite enough.
"Zordon, Alpha..." he greeted them both
"Greetings Skye, what can we do for you?" Zordon responded.
Skye paused trying to think how to broach the subject. "I think...I think I have to go back to Phaedos now. I thought it could wait a little longer but the dreams are getting more insistent."
Zordon considered the request. "It is a long journey that will require a significant drain of Power, are you sure?"
Skye hesitated, and then had an idea from one of the lessons Zordon had given him about projecting into anothers consciousness.
"Judge for yourself Zordon and tell me whether I am correct"
He touched the Star Crystal with his fingertips and focusing his dream images rather unceremoniously dumped the information into Zordon's mind.
Zordon appeared to process the information "This has recurred...how often?"
"Every night this week...several times a night...I think the Wolf is getting impatient and he is very adamant!" Skye said, which was an understatement. The Wolf had been pestering him continuously in his dreams and now seemed to flicker, lurking behind the edges of normal sight ready to attract his attention.
"I can tell - but the Wolf does have a tendency to get over focused sometimes." Zordon agreed dryly with a rare hint of humor. "Alpha, set co-ordinates for Phaedos. I will inform Dulcea that you are on your way."
"Thanks Zordon" Skye said gratefully before vanishing in a stream of silver-white light.
Billy reached the place where Skye said his father wanted to meet him, just as his father drew up in his car.
His father got out looking a little worried "You wanted to see me son?" he said concerned
"But I thought..." Billy began and then cursed silently. Damn it, Skye had set them up!
"Hold on a moment dad...just got to get something from the car! " Sure enough on the back seat of the Radbug there was a note and a bag of their favorite junk food. He scanned it briefly.
"I know, you can get me back for it later.. But you have a message to pass on to your father and an important promise to keep....here's some food to keep you going, so take your time. Good Luck!".
Billy pick up the bag thoughtfully, he did have a message to pass on, his father did have a right to know about what his mother's spirit had said on Phaedos, and certainly he had been patient in waiting for an explanation of the radical change in his son.
"It's just something I've been meaning to tell you for a while. Why don't we go and find a place to talk properly?" Billy suggested awkwardly.
Hank Cranston looked startled and then nodded. "Okay then son..lead the way."
Skye returned from Phaedos six hours later.
"How was your mission?" Zordon asked immediately. Skye smiled and unwrapped a shimmering crystal sphere that glittered in his hand crawling with a fiery energy.
"The Marai'sa " Zordon exclaimed.
"The Ancient Mysteries and Histories of the Ninjetti Dulcea said" Skye agreed carefully rewrapping the gleaming orb.
"I believe that it is the first time the Marai'sa has ever left Phaedos" Zordon said "It contains great knowledge."
"Hmm exactly. According to Dulcea in here lies the knowledge on how to make the content of my dreams a reality - plus that extra step that Billy was unable to supply in all his designing and hoping. It goes without saying that Dulcea is very interested in this project as well. She approved of this endeavor heartily" Skye finished, sneaking another peek at the orb, heavy and warm through the cloth. It had a strangely hypnotic appeal.
"It is then possible that we may turn this to a reality" Zordon said hopefully "Though it concerns me that the Ninjetti spirits were quite so adamant about the time involved. It is not wise to ignore such a warning. I will increase our security measures and monitoring."
"Thank you Zordon...and I believe that I will need a great deal of yours and Alpha's help to make Billy's daydream a reality before his birthday. This first one will be the most difficult, but once we align the energies it should be relatively straight forward."
"We will help as much as possible." Zordon said.
"But what about Billy?" inquired Alpha . "We have to keep this a secret so he does not get his hopes up if we are unable to make it happen."
Skye frowned "Good point...well fortunately the guys have organized a few things leading up to his birthday that will keep him occupied. I admit to having organized something for him tonight to prevent him from realizing where I had gone. I'll get it for that later I'm sure!" he grinned unrepentantly. "I will have to tell him I have a big project to complete, which isn't lying, he won't regard it as strange that I am not around so much." Skye said and then smiled with anticipation. "I can't wait to see his face when it actually works!"
"Billy's birthday tomorrow...is everything ready?" Tanya whispered hoarsely. Kat giggled at her friends attempt at subterfuge.
"You are not fooling anyone...anyway, Billy is in the Power Chamber, you don't have to speak in a whisper." she said speaking normally. "Anyway, it's all set. Tommy has arranged things with Ernie for a party tomorrow night haven't you Tommy?"
Tommy looked up, a puzzled frown on his face. "I was meant to do that?" he asked with a faint hint of panic in his voice.
Rocky slapped his head in amazement "Tommy, you've forgotten to book Ernie's?" he said shaking his head in despair. "Why am I not surprised!"
The girls looked horrified until Jason cracked up with Adam behind Tommy and Rocky.
"Ooooo you...!" Kat mock attacked a now laughing Tommy.
"Relax! I did it a few days ago, cake and all!" he defended himself weakly, laughing also as Adam was grabbed by Tanya and treated to similar punishment.
"Do you think he knows?" Kat asked eventually.
Tanya shrugged. "If he does he's pretending not too" she contributed.
"What worries me..." Adam said soberly "Is the possibility of a monster attack.. It's been really quiet lately."
"Tooooooo quiet!" Rocky intoned in a melodramatic tone of voice earning him a well deserved poke in the ribs from Kat.
Jason nodded in agreement "We've had nearly a week clear of attacks and only a few before that...and lets face it, holidays, birthdays and events seem to be the supervillains favorite time to attack."
There was a murmur of agreement; they'd all had experience with one of those.
"Well we'll just have to hope it stays clear tomorrow" Tommy said firmly, but felt inside a prescient twinge of concern.
Billy teleported to his home from the Power Chamber. He had finished tweaking the Zords up to full strength but really, after a week of no attacks, it was all cosmetic fine tuning. He reached to touch his tuned crystal out of habit and then cursed. He'd left it on the side in the Power Chamber on the main Power Console. He activated his communicator and opened a channel.
"Did I leave my tuned Sionas crystal on the side up there.?" he asked.
"Yes." Alpha replied "However Skye picked it up for you - he said he would give it to you later."
"Oh right...thank you Alpha". Billy said and shut down the link. He pondered for a moment wondering what his friend was up to, it was obvious something was going on as he had barely seen him for the last week or so. He knew that the others were planning something for tomorrow, probably a party or something as Adam and Rocky were hopeless when it came to sneaking around, despite their ninja skills. He smiled at the memory of a blatant case of whispering in a group and a box of decorations hastily kicked under the table when he had walked in on them at lunch. But Skye had not been with them, so his secret was something else. It was strange that despite all they had been through, the Star Ninjetti could still hide things from him and he fell for it. Like meeting his father a week ago. He had been annoyed at being set up at the time, but when Skye weathered the storm of his displeasure and just looked at him asking whether it was worth it and he had had to admit yes. They had talked like they had never talked before, his father astonished by the message the Billy had received on what he described as his Vision Quest. It had brought down a barrier that had been erected so slowly over the years that neither had known it had existed. So, though he knew there was a mystery going on, Billy decided that he was willing to be surprised by whatever he had in mind and "surprised" by the party that the others had in mind. Either way, it was possible that this birthday might just be bearable this year.
King Mondo was as frustrated as his emotion algorithms would allow him without requiring him to take some downtime. He paced.
"Isn't it finished yet?" he asked irritably.
"Nearly your majesty" replied Klank patiently. A group of Cogs were just finishing assembling the complex programming unit that would make this plan finally work.
"Good! Good! " King Mondo exclaimed. "This should get Sprocket out of his sulks. He has been unbearable since I stopped him sending monsters to earth because you needed the energy for this machine." Klank nodded. The entire Machine Empire knew what mood Sprocket was in from personal experience.
"Yes your majesty!" he agreed. For once he thought that it was a good plan, he and Orbus had thought of it after the Star Crystal incident, but of course King Mondo had taken the credit for the idea. He didn't mind who got the credit as long as the plan worked, and he would add as many precautions as he could think of to make it succeed.
"This should be operational by tomorrow, my liege" Klank reported "And once switched on and programmed to the correct frequencies.." he pointed to a large petrol black disc mounted on top of the complex machinery "This Singularity Disc will suck the Zeo crystals of any of their Power the moment they invoke it."
King Mondo laughed evilly "And because the Power is now connected with their life energy...well...it's a terrible shame but it looks like their life energy might just be drained along with their Power."
His metal eyes glowed with restored humor "Finally we will be rid of all of them, we will have the Zeo Power that will power the Machine Empire for millennium and it not before time!."
Billy opened his front door to an array of grinning familiar faces.
" Happy Birthday Billy!" They chorused so cheesily that Billy had to laugh.
"What's this? A bunch of rejects from the Waltons?" he asked stepping outside to join them.
"Well how did you guess?" Rocky said smiling. They all stood looking at each other for a moment before bursting into laughter.
Tanya grabbed Billy by the arm. "For crying out loud, if you can't recognize an escort party when you see one...." she said pulling him outside.
"With an emphasis on the "party"!" interrupted Rocky enthusiastically. " Come on! lets get moving!"
Kat laughed. "Okay, okay, lets cut to the presents!This way!"
They adjourned swiftly to the Park where Tommy had arranged for the presents to be on one of their favorite tables. Billy was determined to savor this day and opened each present slowly and appreciated it, much to Rocky's impatient horror. Sometime later he sat surrounded by presents and used wrapping paper and only two presents to go. Rocky finally stepped forward and gave him a book that Billy had wanted, and also an envelope which he mysteriously forbade Billy from opening until he was at home. Billy looked at him quizzically whilst thanking him. Rocky grinned delighted, he'd finally managed to confuse Billy and wait until he opened it!.
Skye stepped up with a tired grin and handed Billy a small package.
Billy looked around at the others and from their expressions realized this present was going to be as much a surprise to them as it was to him. This must be something to do with the surprise!. With excited anticipation he began to open it when suddenly Cogs appeared all around them. They all groaned in unison.
"Cogs! " shouted Tommy dropping into a defensive stance.
"Dammit," Jason muttered explosively. "I just knew it! I knew Mondo would try to spoil everything!"" The peaceful park area devolved into a melee of cogs and battling rangers. Even Billy and Skye took on a couple themselves.
"Tougher than putties or tenga's !" Billy gasped
"Wouldn't know!" Skye replied jumping back as a cog flew apart.
King Mondo watch the conflict in disgust. "They are not morphing!" she shouted. "The Singularity Disc will not activate until they morph!"
Queen Machina flicked open her metal fan with a sound of unsheathing blades. "Send down a monster or two..." she trilled "That will soon get them to move in the right direction!"
"Beautiful! beautiful my dear! " Mondo exclaimed "The very thing! Klank! see to it immediately!"
Terrandroid materialized in the park rumbling with an evil laugh flourishing a deadly laser spear. It was one of Mondo's warrior droids, heavily armored and a formidable opponent. Tommy spotted it immediately assessed the situation and called to the others.
"Time to morph guys! he yelled "Billy, Skye best get to the Power Chamber!" he ordered.
Billy and Skye looked at each other rebellious and then accepting the inevitable teleported away. Terrandroid was not something they could deal with without Powers and they would only hinder the others.
There was a chorus of morphing calls and swiftly the bright glittering armored figures of the Zeo Rangers appeared.
They had morphed - perfect! King Mondo gave the signal with excitement and Klank pulled the activation lever with relish. Power flowed through the Singularity Disc causing it to pulse and hum. Finally it was activated and it's shimmering dark depths seemed to intensify and pulse with a hungry blackness.
Tommy was in full fighting swing and in the process of launching himself bodily at Terrandroid when he was suddenly overwhelmed by a sickening draining feeling, accompanied by an excruciating pain. He doubled over, only just fending off the blast from Terrandroid.
"Jason!" he shouted dropping to his knees.
This felt like his worst nightmares, like ...when he felt his Green Ranger Powers disappearing, slipping away. Eye's wide with fear he rolled and turned to see the others writhing in a similar state.
Terrandroid laughed mettalically. "You are finished Red Ranger!" it rumbled and leveled its laser spear at the helpless Tommy. Tommy closed his eyes, hearing Kat's scream - and then felt a familiar rush as they were swept up in a teleportational beam.
"Excellent! Excellent! " King Mondo gloated. "The Zeo Powers are being drained into the Singularity Disc, Light sucked into a Black Hole! - it was worth the wait and the expense...though I admit I thought that a full legion of my best cogs, and a phalanx of my higher grade monsters was a high price at the time, but see how easily this had been accomplished! Ha!"
Queen Machina giggled "Marvelous! Simply marvelous! we will be rulers of Earth in no time!"
"You have secured the dome area?" King Mondo asked, for once cautious of his impending victory.
Klank bowed "It is protected by shielding to prevent teleporting by the rangers should they somehow reactivate their powers, and totally sealed from the outside." Klank said proudly. He had thought of everything. This time they would win!
"Good" King Mondo chortled. "Prepare the Cogs for an invasion as soon as we confirm the Rangers are no more!"
"Yes your majesty! Klank and Orbus chorused.
The crippled rangers landed on the floor of the Power Chamber their Ranger armor flickering, disintegrating and finally powering down. Billy, who had pulled them out at the critical moment ran over and began a scan.
"Zordon! What is going on?" Skye asked urgently as he helped Kat to sit up, and then the others whilst Billy fed the information to the consoles with a single-minded intensity.
"Rangers, it appears that the Zeo crystals are being drained of the Power." Zordon reported sounding worried.
"Ay-yie-yie! " Alpha contributed. Tanya looked up at Billy, with a frightened look of vulnerability in her dark eyes.
"Billy...I really don't feel well" she whispered. Billy met her fearful gaze knowing that for her to admit that she felt worse than unwell.
"I know Tanya" he said softly, squeezing her hand reassuringly. "You all need to rest for a moment."
Tommy pushed himself up, trying to stand. "We can't! There is a monster loose in Angel Grove". He wavered, the look of disbelief on his face comically tragic as his body refused to obey his will.
Billy caught the Red Ranger as his legs gave way and lowered him down.
"Tommy you can barely stand let alone fight a monster. The sooner you rest, the sooner you can fight." he turned quickly to his computer read out so they would not see the lie in his eyes.
"Billy is correct Rangers" Zordon confirmed. "Alpha assist them to the infirmary....now!"
Billy turned to Zordon after the others were ushered unsteadily away into the Medlab.
"Zordon...you've seen the readings, this is extraordinarily bad." he said urgently "The force is draining not just the Zeo Powers but their life force as well. Within hours they will be..." he couldn't finish the sentence - it wasn't even a possibility he could bring himself to consider.
"I am aware of that Billy" Zordon said gravely "It appears that King Mondo has gone to great lengths to locate a Singularity Disc and has programmed it to drain Zeo energies. I know of no other device that would be able to accomplish this effect "
Billy brightened at this news "Then it is a case of locating Disc and destroying it...should be simple enough! If it is an artificial Singularity, the energy flowing into it will leave a trail right to it's point of origin" he said fiercely and his hand flickered over the controls expertly and he frowned and muttered to himself.
Skye watched and sensed Billy's thoughts focused like fire on his goal, so intense he did not even reach out of himself for help. After what seemed like an eternity Billy swore .
"Dammit! I've located the Disc easy enough, all that energy pouring into it, but it appears to be locked behind a forcefield that I cannot teleport through!" he thumped the console in frustration.
"Is there a way to bypass it?" Skye asked, but immediately knew that Billy had been trying what he could to get around that problem.
Billy shook his head "It seems impervious to focused teleportation beams...modulated shifts, everything I have tried." With that the warning sirens went off.
"Ay-yie-yie! Terrandroid is rampaging through Angel Grove with a band of Cogs!" Alpha reported.
Billy looked up agonized not knowing what to do. His friends were dying, but the duty of the power rangers was to protect civilians, and he was a power ranger, powerless or not.
Skye looked thoughtful for a moment and then spoke up. "Billy, the forcefield around this Singularity Disc- would it stop a psi teleport or does it stop all teleporting?"
Billy caught on "I don't think it would stop a psi teleport, that seems to bypass normal barriers...can you do one, consciously?"
"Maybe "Skye admitted hesitantly. He wasn't entirely sure at all but it would be worth a try.
Billy stood up a determined look in his blue eyes. "Then teleport me" he demanded.
Skye shook his head firmly and Billy felt abruptly betrayed.
"So you too think that I have to be protected and relegated to the sidelines!" he lashed out accusingly in bitter disappointment and desperation to do something, anything. Skye stared at him in astonishment.
"Is that what you think?" he gave a short laugh. "Quite the opposite - someone has to fight monsters until the Zeo Rangers can call on their powers again and their Zords."
"Me? but how?" Billy asked incredulous. What was he talking about?
"Our birthday present to you, you must use it. Teleport me to just outside that forcefield - I'll psi-teleport across and destroy the Disc somehow and you deal with the monster until enough of the Zeo Powers have returned." Skye paused thoughtfully. That was a big "somehow" considering what had happened the last time he had psi-teleported.
"Then I guess you better come and get me too, as going on what happened last time I'll be weaker than they are now after I teleport. So you be careful fighting monsters because if you get hurt I have had it as well!"
Billy looked a little bemused "I still don't know exactly how..."
"Teleport me now, you will see in a moment" he said cryptically. "Now I know why the wolf was so keen on timing..." he muttered to himself and looked up at Zordon who gave a slight nod.
"Good luck!" Billy said as he teleported him to the required co-ordinates.
And then, conscious of time slipping away Billy examined the package containing Skyes present. He unwrapped it quickly - there was a note inside and his Sionas crystal, now carved with the shape of a Wolf's head. He read the note swiftly.
"Happy Birthday Billy...I apologize for taking your crystal for a while - but I hope that this will be worth it. This present is really a collaboration between Zordon, Alpha, Dulcea, your Wolf Spirit as well as myself. Anyway, you may have realized that we have constructed what you once designed, with a few additional features. I'll tell you the technical details later, but the activation of the spirit armor is now keyed to your tuned crystal. The first transformation may be "uncomfortable" according to the Ninjetti mysteries, so I guess that is an understatement.
You were right in saying you would never be a Zeo ranger, but you can from this day forward claim to be the first Ninjetti Spirit Warrior!"
Billy lifted the wolf spirit crystal watching it sparkle as it twisted in the light. He slipped it on over his head his hands trembling, his emotions indescribable. Finally. Finally!
"Zordon?" he asked looking for approval, his voice shaking slightly as well.
"Ordinarily I would recommend that you take the transition slowly" Zordon replied understandingly. "But with the other Rangers incapacitated and a monster on the rampage there is no choice. As yet there is no Zord connected with the wolf spirit armor, but it has certain capabilities that I am sure you are aware of."
Billy nodded - capabilities that he had daydreamed over and over.
"I would suggest that you transform privately as it may rouse the others."
"Thanks Alpha, Zordon." He went in a semi-daze to the room he had set up for himself in the Power Chamber. He held the crystal for a moment in his hand. In the next few moments he sensed that he would never again be the same. It was a thought that scared him more than he would have liked to admit. But his concerns about the future were nothing compared to the fact that his friends were dying. He focused his thought as he had learnt to do over time and then mindspoke calmly.
Blue Ninjetti Spirit Wolf. There was a flare of blue light from the crystal that enveloped him in a glowing power until he felt like he was burning with blue fire, molten spirit fire in his bones, in his mind and eyes. The pain was intense as the energies sought to mesh with him for the first time, but eventually it subsided to a manageable level and he became aware of the familiar, and once thought forever lost feeling of Power alive and active within him.
"Yes!" he exulted. This was the Great Power. He could feel vast resources of dormant energy and then, aside from that, aside from the power and the armor, he felt an indescribably intimate connection with his Wolf Spirit, more than he ever remembered from his alternate timeline memories.
Very well done my young one, its voice resounded in his mind Now we are truly One, now we are the Warrior!
Billy caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror as he prepared to teleport. This armor looked more organic, and somehow more dangerous in nature. It was flexible and responsive to movement he could sense it was fully charged and ready for action. It was colored in a blue-tinged wolf-gray and the helmet was an imposing wolf's head with eyes that glowed a pure sky blue.
"Now! time to kick monster butt!" he muttered to himself, grinning beneath the mask. And taking a deep breath teleported to the Park.
Skye rematerialized outside the sealed chamber in which the Singularity Disc was hidden. Fortunately it was located not too far from Angel Grove as in typical fashion, it had only occurred to him as he teleported that it might be on the Moon!
"Idiot!" he berated himself. One day he would learn to actually think things through properly, but obviously this wasn't that day. He studied the structure carefully. It was a completely sealed dome small and compact and impenetrable. He placed his hands on the outer casing feeling the buzz and tingle of the forcefield. He'd better hurry as the chances of it being unguarded were highly improbable. Inside hopefully would be different. He gripped the Star Crystal firmly and pulled energy within himself. The only time he'd done this before had been in an emergency - once! and an instinctive leap at that. Trying to work out how to do it again was not easy.
He visualized the inside of the sealed chamber and tried to will himself there. Nothing happened.
"Damn!" he exclaimed aloud. He heard a noise behind him and whirled to see Cogs approaching having picked up the sound. Panicked he backed up against the dome wall and just as they were about to open fire, instinctively unlocked his psi-power channeled it through the Star Crystal and teleported.
He landed and immediately collapsed, his chest heaving as if he had just run a marathon. It was worse than he remembered! This teleporting by psi was not easy, not easy at all. He dragged himself up shaking with fatigue, hoping against hope that Mondo felt so secure in his defenses that he didn't post guards inside. He wouldn't be able to fight off that same kitten he had mentioned to Rocky despite his tuition!
He could see the Disc from where he landed within reach and sweating with effort he staggered towards it favoring his bad leg. There was a haze of flickering colors around the swirling black Disc, which he assumed to be the storing Zeo energy. He reached out to it and then yelped as his fingers brushed against another forcefield. He cursed under his breath. He didn't have time for this....the others lives were at stake!. Then he heard a noise behind him - oh lord, he certainly didn't have time for that!
Billy faced up to Terrandroid rather nervously. It had been a long time since he had fought for real, against a monster and not a few cogs. He had trained hard yes, maybe even harder since he had giving up the powers ironically enough trying to prove something. In fact he could only remember going it alone on a couple of occasions and that had been against Rita's creations which he knew were not on the same lines as the Machine Empire's creations. What to do? What to do?
Fight as the Wolf, his wolf spirit whispered Guile, agility and courage...
You don't ask much do you? Billy replied before launching himself at the droid.
The exchange was brief, a flash of laser spear blocked by wolf-shielding as Billy was trying to ascertain his opponents weaknesses. He somersaulted backwards out of reach and flung out energy bolts at the monster from his hands. The Terrandroid howled and as Billy was taking stock, he was slammed to the ground by an explosion behind him. He'd miscalculated the position of the Cogs! Now to confuse them! He blurred with speed darting between around behind and in one cocky moment on top of one of them so that they ended up attacking each other. Terrandroid managed to destroy at least four of its own cogs in this fashion.
He began to tire after a while, and realized that the speed burst was to be used sparingly. The cogs formed up around him, more teleporting in as Terrandroid flourished his laser spear. What now? he thought towards his wolf-spirit desperately.
A wolf when outnumbered seeks the wisdom of the shadow, was the response.
Billy instinctively tapped into a very useful part of his spirit warrior armor, the ability to become nigh on invisible. And he ran the cogs ragged deactivating them with ease. Unfortunately this too was a transient ability as he noted with horror when he flickered into sight right in front of Terrandroid, who gleefully fired upon him. The laser bolt clipped his arm and damn it hurt! One drawback of this armor, he decided, was that it's organic nature, though more flexible and responsive, transmitted more pain than the old morphing armor. He wished he'd had the chance to get to grips with the capabilities of his armor, before launching into battle.
"This is not good!" Billy said aloud to himself, "I'm losing!".
There was a growl within his mind. You fight as a human, not as a wolf, his spirit wolf whispered. Join yourself with me and our strength will flow together and you will truly be Wolf Ninjetti.
"Great -but how exactly do I do that?!" Billy gasped rolling rapidly sideways, and legsweeping a Cog before finishing it off with a single devastating blow.
It is something that must be felt within, the wolf replied. Billy was the one who found himself growling in frustration at that statement. He hoped Skye was nearly done!
A beam of green light flashed in to the side of him. It was Adam, unmorphed and unsteady on his feet but with a look of grim determination in his eyes.
"Adam!? What are you doing here?!" Billy shouted leaping over to him in a dramatic bound. His friend looked ill and shaky. It was a wonder that he was even standing upright.
"I couldn't let you face such a powerful monster alone, and this many cogs!" he replied weakly.
"Adam, please go back...I don't want you to get hurt!" Billy pleaded, but was then distracted by a surge of Cogs making a beeline for the vulnerable human. For a moment he had even his inhuman wolf reflexes tested by the sheer amount of assailants. It was then that he heard a strangled cry and turned to see Adam in the grip of Terrandroid. This struck him to his very heart and aroused the essentially wolfish instincts that the wolf spirit had attempted to described. A member of his Pack was in danger! There would be no quarter!
"Spirit Claws!" he growled and long glowing energy claws sprang from hands. With renewed vigor he bounded through the midst of the defending cogs, ripping them apart in seconds and then blurred with speed at Terrandroid just long enough to grab Adam from the monsters grasp. The speed failed as he tried to bound away and sick with fear, he gave Adam a mighty push as Terrandroid thrust at him with the laser spear. The spear pierced the spirit armor and with a burning pain pushed through his side, before the monster yanked it back with a cruel twist. He staggered forward, shock hitting his system and saw Adams face stricken with horror, fixed on him and unable to move. He dropped to his knees dizzily, as the cogs, emboldened by his apparent weakness formed up in a cohort to take Adam.
Presumably, Billy thought dizzily, Terrandroid is recharging his spear before finishing me off. Well this has been a very short and sweet return to the Power,.
What is this?, the wolf spirit said angrily. You cannot die whilst your Pack lies in peril...What is pain to a wolf? Is it reason to let him die?
How can I save any of them when I cannot fight? Billy thought almost angrily.
There was a wolfish sigh The true power of the Ninjetti is not the body or the mind, but the spirit...use it young Wolf and save your Pack!
Yes Billy thought, the body was injured, the mind clouded but his instincts clamored with a knowing that was desperate to act. With a growling cry he pulled energy from within himself and flung it in a burst of Power at the Cogs, which exploded in a particularly gratifying fashion.
"Yes!" Billy yelped in triumph. But there was still Terrandroid to deal with and....he pressed his hand to his burning side, and then glanced down at the blood. "Oh... fish!" he muttered.
Skye turned to see a cog bearing down on him. Great, there was no chance of him winning this one. Rocky's nickname for him was more apt than they realized at the time - unless he didn't fight. Pretending to slump against the Control Console, which didn't take a lot of acting, he waited for the cog to draw close. The cog approached to pick him up, but as it reached over to grab him, using what little strength he had, he turned and grabbed it's metallic arm, twisted and pushed it right into the forcefield encasing the Disc. With a blinding cascade of sparks the cog exploded taking the forcefield with it in the ensuing blast. Too exhausted to even speak, Skye pulled himself up, his mind telling him to hurry, hurry. He took the Singularity Disc with a shaking hand, feeling the stored Zeo crystal energy beneath his fingers.
This, he thought is not going to be pretty, that's if the stupid thing is even breakable!
He couldn't wait any longer, he just knew, that if it wasn't done now, then it would be too late! He hefted the disc in his right hand and threw it as hard as his failing strength would allow against the far wall. It sailed through the air incongruously like a frisbee and struck the wall and shattered like glass! He was blown backwards in an explosion of multicolored light, that streamed through him, filling his mind with strange images, so much so that he barely noticed when the place came down around and on top of him.
The Wolf was at bay: Billy was standing over Adam, snarling defiance at the laughing Terrandroid. He had barely fended off the last attack. Suddenly an emerald sphere of glittering light enveloped his friend and within moments Adam appeared revitalized.
"My Powers!" he exclaimed..and then wasted no more time. "Zeo Ranger IV, Green!" he shouted flicking out his zeonizers, and morphing rapidly to stand beside the Blue Wolf Spirit Warrior.
"Skye did it!" Billy gasped and watched with relief as five other colored beams of light glittered in around him. Within moments the Zeo Rangers were arrayed around them, ready for action.
"Billy?" came Kat's hesitant voice "Is that you?"
The wolf spirit warrior looked ferocious, blood stained and dangerous, not qualities that she'd ever really associated with Billy.
"Affirmative" he replied absently his thoughts already elsewhere.
Tommy straightened up. "Lets take this guy Rangers !" he shouted. Billy interrupted quickly.
"Tommy I have to help Skye...he will be in trouble after psi-teleporting!"
Tommy looked at the bloodstained figure and recognizing the fact he would not be able to stop him, wisely decided to assist him.
"Jase? We've got this pile of scrap covered here...."
The Gold Ranger nodded understanding "I'll go with you Billy." he said firmly. They teleported away.
The scene of devastation at the Singularity Disc site was enough to make their hearts sink. The place was, to put it in the vernacular...totaled.
"Do you read him?" Jason asked, anxiously keeping watch.
Billy shook his head "I can't even feel his mind." he muttered concerned.
The Gold Ranger glanced at him surprised..."You read minds?"
Billy flushed "No, no he does.... well since what happened on Phaedos, we have a mental bond."
Jason was still desperate to ask exactly what had happened on Phaedos, but the moment passed.
"Maybe he's unconscious then?" he suggested grabbing at straws.
Billy's tone brightened a little " Maybe yes....that could be it...I'll start over here" He ran over to the debris uncertain of where to begin.
Foolishness pup! the soft blue tones of his wolf spirit rebuked, You are a wolf, seek him as a wolf.
Billy considered this advice. So he had the resources of the wolf to draw on...well then....the senses of the wolf would be the most useful, especially the sense of smell. He focused upon the spirit crystal, trying to scent his friend. Meanwhile, Jason was keeping himself occupied with a brace of cogs that had obviously been left to guard the dome before it's destruction.
It's time for a Gold Rush!" he shouted leveling his Gold staff at the Cogs. The Golden energy poured out decimating the metal robots but more were on their way. Billy suddenly became aware of an onslaught of aroma's, bright powerful acrid smells, darks, thick choking smells and there a faint glitter of metallic blood smell. Skye his friend, was covered by debris and surrounded by matt black inert shards, and obviously unconscious. Billy dug at the rubble immediately, uncovering him, relief washing over him as he realize that there were no serious injuries. His friend was unconscious, but on the whole aside from minor contusions and lacerations he was remarkably untouched, and he could be moved. He pocketed one of the black shards so he could make sure this never happened again and called out to the Gold Ranger.
"Found him Jase!" he shouted.
"Good!" Jase replied shortly, still battling.
Billy scooped up Skye, ignoring the stab of pain in his side. "Zordon! Teleport us to the Power Chamber!" he asked and abruptly all three of them flashed away in streams of blue, gold and silver light.
They had barely landed in the safe have of the Power Chamber when Jason whirled and addressed Zordon.
"How are they doing?" he asked urgently.
"They have assembled the Zeozord to fight Terrandroid - they need Pyramidis to finish the conflict" Zordon advised. The Gold Ranger nodded.
"Right...you okay Billy?" he asked and receiving a nod, then teleported to battle.
Billy lay Skye down on one of the medicouches he had installed and as he did so felt the artists mind reach out towards him in a clearer brighter way than he ever had before. Must be the transformation he thought as he watched his friends eyes flick open and then widen as he stared into a wolfshead.
"Hey Billy...your suit looks pretty good on." he croaked out, coughing at the dust all over him.
Billy suddenly realized what he was referring to "Oh. Spirit Armor power down." he directed the thought through his spirit crystal and the wolf armor crackled and flowed away.
"How are you feeling?"" he asked concerned .
Skye blinked slowly. "Bruised, battered, splitting headache...frankly little weird" he replied. Images flowed through his head like fire and he found it very difficult to concentrate on his current surroundings. One thing though immediately caught his attention.
"But I'm more worried about you...." he said gesturing at Billy's bloodstained shirt.
Billy looked down. "Oh..oh...yeah, the Terrandroid ran me through this side with the laser-spear. I forgot!"
"Like it's something you would forget." Skye commented wryly. Billy lifted his shirt and studied his side with interest. He had genuinely forgotten about it, though at the time he had thought it was the end of him. He prodded at a nearly healed wound complete with tender achy tissue, but it seemed nearly cured.
"Well that's impressive." he commented impressed. "It may hurt more but it heals quickly. I appear to be quite fit."
Skye nodded gingerly "The Spirit Armor capabilities for healing are linked directly to the Great Power ...oh....." A wash of powerful images flowed through him dizzying in their complexity and vividness.
Explosions on the moon....a purple haired woman radiating evil... the Gold Ranger, collapsing... new faces different faces... an ethereal woman in Zordons place... mixed jumbled over whelming... flickering so fast and out of control....
"Skye? Skye?" Billy was concerned. His friend's eyes had suddenly seemed to go completely blank.
"Just felt a bit odd there for a moment." Skye said slowly. More than a little odd. He had no control over these images, and a desperate growing urge to sketch them out of his system. Maybe that would stop them burning in his mind.
Billy scanned his friend "You are showing very high ambient energies but nothing...really disturbing." he said frowning. "It would be advisable for you to consider convalescent recuperation".
"Er Billy...I'm fine...really."
"I just said that!" Billy protested.
"Yes..it was the way you said it. You are teching out on me, you only do that when you are nervous." Skye grinned.
Billy smiled. "I guess so."
Skye pushed himself up, trying to ignore the resurgence of images.
"So, enjoying your birthday so far?" he asked with dry irony in his voice.
"Well aside from the near death experience...fantastic." Billy replied truthfully. So much had changed in such a short time. Less than an hour ago he had been Powerless and now he was a Ninjetti Spirit Warrior. How on earth could he express what that feeling meant to him? He owed it to them to at least try.
"Zordon, Alpha...Skye I'd like to thank you all for this...for giving me back the Powers."
Zordon spoke solemnly "The Power was always yours Billy, and there is no-one that I can think of that deserves it more. You are a holder of the Great Power now, and the first of the Spirit Warriors foretold in the distant past. You designed the spirit armor, and you deserve it!"
A lump came to Billy's throat. He had dreamed of this for so long and now it was here! Despite the rough initiation, the old rush had been there, the thrill, the adrenaline rollercoaster of the Power.
"Thanks" he said quietly and was prevented from saying any more by colored light filling the Power Chamber as the rangers returned triumphant. As they powered down, Adam rushed over eyes fixed on Billy's bloodstained shirt.
"Billy...you okay?" he asked, his voice unsteady
"Fine Adam...really... . All healed, well a little tender but nearly completely gone." Billy replied sensing the concern. He wasn't sure what he felt about Adams interruption of his battle with Terrandroid. He'd been so worried, so angry in some ways that he risked himself.
"But...but I saw it run you through with a spear, and then the blood!" Adam said in disbelief. He could not believe his friend was just standing here large as life as if nothing had happened.
Billy ruffled his sandy hair absently, "Yes, and it hurt too...hurts more than the old armor, but heals quicker... see?" he lifted the shirt exposing the vivid pinkish red patch of new scar tissue on his side.
Tanya grinned raising her eyebrows appreciatively. "Lookin' good Billy..." she teased.
Kat looked him up and down. "Not too shabby" she drawled making the young genius blush. The others laughed at his discomfiture and in the ensuing confusion, Adam quietly teleported away. Tanya glanced round and noting his absence made her excuses and went after him.
"Adam! Adam wait up!" Tanya called out, running a little to catch him up. He stopped but refused to turn and look at her. Tanya could almost feel the shadow of guilt around him.
"Adam, come on what is the matter?" she asked outright, planting herself immovable in front of him.
"You have to ask? I nearly got him killed! you didn't see it Tanya... the spear pushed right through him, because I was too weak to help him, because he had to protect me!" Adam was choked with guilt.
A dawning sense of symmetry washed over her. Maybe she could get him to see what this meant and that it wasn't a question of fault, but of circumstance. She placed her hand on his arm gently.
"Adam, why did you go down there....without power?"
He looked at her oddly anguished. "I couldn't bear to see him fighting alone out there, I had to do something!"
"You went because you cared Adam!" Tanya said "That is not a crime!"
"But getting a friend injured is!" he replied adamant. He shook his head slowly, and shrugged off her hand "I'm sorry Tanya. I need to be alone right now. I'll meet up with you later!" he said and strode off swiftly.
"Adam!....Adam!" she called after him and then subsided. If there was one thing she had learnt about the Green Ranger was that when he turned in on himself it was no easy matter to draw him out again unless he decided to let go of what was troubling him. Tanya sighed and turned back to meet the others.
"I don't know whether to...slap Adam or merely throttle him!" Billy muttered under his breath as he was getting changed. There was still a party to go too despite all the days events and they had decided turning up in bloodstained ripped clothing probably might attract a bit of attention. As Rocky had said rather unsubtley, it wasn't like it was a Halloween Party or something.
"Aside from the fact that he would probably trash me within seconds, now he has the Power back." he finished ruefully unable to let go of the issue.
Skye shook his head and threw Billy the clean shirt "Why? What's the problem?"
"He had no business putting himself in harms way, he could have been killed without any powers!" Billy protested brushing his wet hair back after a shower with irritated strokes.
Skye stopped and looked at him piercingly. After a brief silence he said, "Have you listened to yourself? To what you are saying?"
Billy looked up irritably. Skye said nothing more, knowing that he wouldn't have to as Billy would figure it out eventually. He waited until the Wolf Ninjetti looked up with comprehension glowing in his eyes.
"Oh my god... this is me isn't it!?" Billy exclaimed. He had completely missed the obvious parallels between how he had felt every time they had gone into battle.
Skye nodded, tying back his hair neatly, grimacing as he stretched his bruised body. Unfortunately, he didn't heal as quickly as Billy did.
"I'm so blind!" Billy moaned. "I'm going to have to speak to him about this aren't I?"
"Uh-huh..." Skye said, and added pointedly, "And I should do it now, before Adam becomes as fixed in his idea's as you did."
"Hmm... I get the message." Billy said as they left, walking down the street towards the park. "How though? If I know Adam he will run a mile if he sees me coming."
Skye pondered briefly before stopping "I wonder if you can do the shape change of the Ninjetti, like Dulcea shifting into her Owl form."
Billy shook his head "I couldn't in the other time line.
"But in the other timeline you were a Ninjetti, not a Ninjetti spirit warrior." Skye said. "The spirit crystal creates a much more intense connection with your animal spirit....no harm in asking."
They stepped off the main path out of sight. Billy reached for his spirit crystal
Revered One, I request your assistance, he mindspoke. Wolfish laughter rippled.
Revered One? Most appropriate young wolf! What is it you wish?
I would share your form, Billy thought.
For what purpose?
I would assist my friend Adam. There was a wolfish sigh
Ah yes, the young Frog, his Transformation is not yet complete. It is the nature of the Frog to be sensitive to their environment, and sometimes that clouds even their wisdom. It is a cause worthy of the Wolf. Follow my instruction young one.
It was strangely easy and difficult to accomplish the wolf-change. It was essentially a case of letting go of the sense of feeling human. He would have found that very difficult if it hadn't been for that moment in the battle earlier when he had, in protecting Adam, felt the call of a Packbond, a true sense of wolfness. With assistance, that sensation came back to him, and abruptly he shimmered into the shape of a large gray wolf. Skye regarded him with a small pang of envy, and then smiled as Wolf-Billy cocked his head on one side.
He touched his Star Crystal Billy?
Skye, this is marvelous, Billy mindspoke. It was a hundred times more impressive than the tuning in he did whilst in human form at the Singularity Disc site. His sight was vivid, smells glorious and colorful and there was a sense of unbridled freedom and a yearning to run that was almost overpowering.
You go and find Adam, I will catch up as soon as I can, Skye said with a wistful mental sigh.
Wolf-Billy yipped in agreement and loped off.
The trails of his friends hung in the air burning bright in his nose, and he could hear their distant voices off to the left. Adam's scent on the other hand bore off to the right. He trotted along following the trail and observed his disconsolate friend sitting throwing stones and sticks aimlessly. Perfect.
Adam picked up another stick and hefted in his hand and then threw it as hard as he could away - a gray shape shot out of the undergrowth and grabbed the stick and trotted towards him tail wagging furiously. The dog dropped the stick at his feet and barked happily.
"I don't want to play" Adam said morosely.
The dog whined pleading and nudged the stick nearer. Adam shrugged and threw the stick again. The dog joyfully bounded after it. Adam slumped down against the tree as the dog returned again. This time the dog found all its importunings unheeded, and eventually sat down resting his head against him. Adam found himself stroking the long silky fur.
"It must be good to be a dog" he told the dog. He felt safe with this dog, which was odd in itself .
"What problems do you have? The next stick to chase huh? Not like me. Problems...problems, wish that was my only problem. I've got big problems." The dog whined sympathetically.
"I've got this friend, a best friend - and I hurt him. I nearly killed him today. I think I will see that image for the rest of my life, that moment which the spear pushed through him because he pushed me out of danger, him in terrible pain because of my weakness, me being a liability. God it was horrible! I thought he was going to die. I've never been so scared....I'll never forget it, ever." Adam sighed deeply, his voice quavering.
"He probably hates me, I shouldn't have been there. Maybe he thinks I doubted him, but I just couldn't bear to see him fight alone...I just couldn't! But all I did was cause him pain." A couple of tears trickled down his cheeks and the dog licked his face, an oddly comforting gesture.
"You'd forgive me hey boy?" he asked. The dog chuffed encouraging and nuzzled his hand.
"But will he? I couldn't tell him this....there's no way I could..."
"You already have Adam" a soft voice said. Skye was there.
Adam suddenly realized that the dogs collar was a silver chain with a crystal hanging on it.
"No... oh nooooo." Adam gasped as insight flooded over him. There was a blur of blue light and abruptly Billy was sitting where the dog...no, wolf had been.
Adam, despite all the amazing things he had witnessed as a Power Ranger, was still incredulous.
"Billy?" His mind whirled in astonishment. He could not believe what had just happened. "You played stick? You licked me?"
Billy smiled. It had surprised him too, but at the time had seemed totally natural behaviour. "You have the instincts of a wolf when in the shape and wolves love that sort of thing" he answered lightly, realizing that Adam was trying to evade the issue. It was time to put and end to this before it began.
"Adam...Adam listen to me. I understand why you did what you did....intimately!" he said intensely.
"What do you mean?" Adam replied, confused.
"I mean that I felt like you did every time you went into battle, all of you, and this time I was taught a harsh lesson in what it felt to be on your side of the Power fence. I'm ashamed to admit that I was angry...because I was scared for you, until I was told to take a good look at myself." They both glanced at Skye who had discretely walked away to give them privacy.
Billy smoothed back his hair, something he often did when discomfited. He took a deep breath. In some ways this would be more difficult than any monster fight.
"Adam...this is not easy for me to say. I've never been good at making myself understood. I have to struggle to talk normally, you know that. Adam, you have been and always will be one of my best friends. I have never said how much I needed and valued our friendship before. When I was without the Power, you tried your best to help me....when I had the Power you did your best to help me. I was too wrapped up in myself to ever say this before. I need you guys more than anything. I could forgive you anything, and I hope you will forgive me for all that time I pushed you away. "
Adam was astonished, his dark eyes wide. Billy had changed. He would never have had the...strength to make a speech like that before the time he had spent powerless. Did any of them? Would he have been able to say something like that. Maybe there was a value in losing the power. Unable to trust himself to speak Adam nodded mutely.
Billy smiled, mostly with relief. "You over this Adam? At least in that you can let go of that guilt that you are experiencing...and don't say that you are not."
"Yes... I think I am, even if it took you turning into another species to do it." Adam said. "That was a dirty trick Billy!"
"But unspeakably clever! hehehe... ." Billy joked.
Adam grinned. He suddenly got a mischievous gleam in his eye as he considered how he had been fooled.
"How about a small trick on the others?" he suggested with a wicked grin. Billy met his dark eyes and started to laugh as he had an inkling of what was planned
"What exactly do you have in mind?"
Skye and Adam walked up to the others trailed by a large gray dog. Tanya noted with relief that Adam appeared to be in somewhat better humor, and considered to herself that Skye had possibly talked him around. It wouldn't be the first time. The artist was a compulsive listener and seemed to draw people out of themselves just by being around.
"Where's Billy?" Kat asked from across the picnic table.
"On his way." Adam said, with a suspicious eye fixed on the dog that was sniffing around close to Tanya. It eventually approached the Yellow Ranger enthusiastically.
"What a lovely dog!" she exclaimed stroking and fussing over the creature.
"Is he yours?" Kat asked also stroking its soft fur
"No he just started following us." Adam said in a hostile tone.
Kat and Tanya cooed and petted the dog, which managed to look very smug at the attention. After a while Adam approached Tanya to sit next to her only to receive a warning growl.
"Hey mutt! Paws off my girlfriend!" he warned. The dog growled menacingly and then blatantly licked Tanya's face looking even more smug.
"That enough!" Adam lunged at the dog which snapped at him.
"Adam!" Kat said in alarm. The dog uncurled and began to stalk towards the Green Ranger growling and bristling.
Tanya began to panic...and called out, "Tommy, Jason, Rocky! help!"
Adam meantime was hurling abuse at the dog "Ugly Cur! dumb dog, get your flea-ridden hide out of here!" The dog poised to leap.
"Adam no!" Tommy shouted sprinting over, but too late as the dog bounced at Adam and dragged him to the ground snarling viciously, much to the other Rangers horror.
They all rushed forward, to hear Adam yell, "Dammit dog why don't you fight me like a man!" and then a familiar voice said,
"As you wish" and with a blur of light suddenly there was Billy kneeling on Adams chest. The two of them looked at the others totally gobsmacked faces and then promptly cracked up into helpless laughter.
"Billy?" Tanya stated the obvious. There wasn't much else she could do. "You licked me?!"
"Oh and he's going to pay for that later!" Adam gasped and rolled around helpless with mirth. Skye too was doubled up with silent laughter. The astonishing sight of the three most serious and reserved of their group in hysterical laughter, gradually infected the others. Soon they were all laughing uncontrollably.
"Ah man that was a morphinominal...no hang on, can't use that for Billy..." Rocky wheezed still snorting with laughter.
"How about ninj-tastic?" Adam supplied dryly. And Billy nearly ruptured himself laughing at that one.
All in all, it had been a pretty good birthday, Billy sighed contentedly. His side hurt, all his muscles ached, but if he had been still in his wolf-shape he would be out there howling at the moon. He sat on his bed pulling off his shirt making a mental note to himself to make sure he had got rid of the other shirt first thing in the morning.. He touched his wolf crystal briefly and smiling mindspoke thanks to his wolf spirit. He was just about to get into bed when his eyes lit upon the envelope that Rocky had given him, that mysterious package. Intrigued despite his tiredness, Billy opened it. Inside was a note from Rocky and a strip of paper with what appeared to be an Internet address on it. The note was brief, in a Rocky type fashion.
I can't claim all the credit for this present as I was put up to it by a certain someone, though it was my idea, and I got it together. It's probably something you could have done easily, but for whatever reason you haven't. Look at page 7 when you get there and I hope in some way that it makes up for the whole Zeo crystal thing.
Billy fired up his computer, curiosity running wild. What was this all about? He impatiently waited whilst it connected, even with his altered turbocharged PC, the slight delay seemed too long. The address seemed to be a hyperlink to a website, which when he got there was called Better to have... "loved and lost" he muttered to himself capping the phrase.
Page 7 huh? Okay....The page was filled with short elegant poems. The titles leapt out at him. "Yellow sun and wildfire sky" "Leaving blues." "Heart of Goldenfire" "Bluestar vanishing."
He read the poems, their words searing through him leaving a trail of vivid glorious emotions. He lent back in shock, seeing the net alias ST.Tiger...My god it was her! and those poems of passion and loss were about him! Of all the things that had happened on this day, this had to be the most incredible and as he was alone he could admit it to himself, the most wonderful!
Skye, downstairs in the guest room paused in his detailed sketching of the mysterious woman he had seen in Zordon's Tube. He smiled to himself as he felt, without having to consciously link to the Star Crystal, a massive surge of emotion as Billy's heart blossomed with the rediscovery of his love for a certain ex-ranger. Finally things were starting to come together!
"Way to go Rocky..." he whispered aloud to the listening night as he felt Billy's dreams come alive.