Disclaimer: Let it be known that Power Rangers Zeo is
the property of Saban Entertainment. I have no affiliation with them and
I just borrowed their characters for a little while to immerse myself
in a world other than my own.
Comments: This "what-if" story is based on a weird dream when I wondered why Zordon was always so mysterious about things and why nobody ever noticed or cared. Could there be something Zordon doesn't want the Rangers to find out? Be warned that I take alot of liberties with the original Power Ranger structure and myth, molding them to suit my own purposes. It is a stand alone fic that has no bearing on any of my other Power Ranger stories.
Warnings: There is some violence and language involved and a particularly disturbing scene for younger audiences. The story takes place after Jason arrives to take the Gold Ranger power.
Timeline: Power Rangers Zeo
The sun shone hot onto the desert floor, baking the earth into a hard dry clay. Little existed out on this barren plain save a few desert scrubs and long adapted reptiles and insects. However, towering above the flats, embedded in a rocky mountain crag stood a magnificent structure. Its color perfectly blended with the surrounding landscape, a dull dusty brownish grey.
Inside this command center the alarm sounded its brazen discourse making William Cranston jump. His head smacked neatly into the overhead console as he sat up off the floor. He closed his eyes at the sudden pain and crawled out from under the console just as Zordon floated down from within his cylindrical tube. Billy was the only Ranger present within the power chamber.
Rubbing his bruised forehead, Billy addressed his mentor. "What's going on, Zordon?" The great being continually monitored the earth and its surrounding universe, ever vigilant against danger.
The disembodied voice directed him. "Behold the viewing globe." It had snapped on as soon as
Zordon appeared. "King Mondo has sent another monster." It was a long, thin object that rested on two legs. There didn't appear to any arms on the creature only two huge black orbs for eyes.
"What else is new," Billy mumbled beneath his breath and immediately regretted it. He prayed that Zordon hadn't heard him.
Used to Billy's recent mood swings Zordon ignored the comment. "It has arrived near Angel Grove lake." Zordon took in the empty power chamber and noticed a variation. "Where is Alpha Five?" he inquired. The little robot was usually present.
"I sent him to retrieve a faulty part from one of the Zords. I wanted to run a few tests on it. He should be here any second." As if on cue, the red and black automaton appeared, his arms and legs flailing rapidly with his customary 'Ay yi yi!'
Billy gave a pained grin. Alpha was always so excitable. With practiced hands the young man began his scanning program. A scowl drew across his features. "It's not doing anything, Zordon," he remarked with puzzlement. "I'm getting some odd readings from him though. Nothing I've seen before."
"Curious. Continue to monitor him," Zordon commanded. "Where are the Rangers?"
Billy suppressed his hurt at being excluded as a part of the Rangers. "They're on a picnic in Angel Grove Park." The slight sound of dismay in the his voice though did not escape the two entities. However, only Alpha voiced his concern while Zordon disappeared to check on some unknown factors regarding the possible new threat to Angel Grove.
Alpha edged closer to the ex-Blue Ranger. "Billy, why are you not with the other Rangers?"
The young man afforded him a quick glance as he continued to run a variety of scans. He appreciated Alpha's show of support. "Rocky's Zord needed to be repaired. I wanted to finish before Mondo sent his newest monster. Fat chance of that."
Realizing that he had little time to get Rocky's Zord in fighting condition he procured the Zord part from Alpha and examined it critically. There was definitely some carbon scoring on it. He hoped to save some of the circuitry for supplies were running low. He had salvaged as much as he could from the now defunct Zords in order to have enough in reserve to repair the Zeo Zords but the battle damage was just too frequent. Eventually they would run out.
Billy worried at what that would mean for the future. He couldn't very well go down to the local hardware shop or buy surplus IBM machines for his work. The Zords were way beyond that technology. Aquitar supplied a great deal of the necessary raw materials for his work since much of the Zeo Zords were based on their technology but the Aquitarians themselves needed those resources. After all, they were the defenders of their galaxy. Their Battle Borgs needed repair as much as the Zeo Zords.
Zordon said he was looking for a new source of power but Billy didn't expect him to find it anytime soon. Billy briefly felt a flare of hope. Maybe the new power would enable him to be a true Ranger once again, but the ember quickly cooled. The radiation he had absorbed so long ago would probably block the infusion of the power anyway just as it had with the Gold Ranger Power. So broken-hearted he was destined to remain.
He settled the piece of hardware on his work table and proceeded to break it down. Over his shoulder, he called out to Alpha, "Keep running the scans on that monster, will you? Let me know when the computers have analyzed those abnormalities."
"Affirmative, Billy!" Alpha eagerly obeyed.
Billy chuckled at the familiar term, flashing quickly back to his early days when his own speech used to be laced with techno-babble. What did Trini used to call it...Billy-speak? He sighed softly ripping some burnt wiring from its field terminal. He missed her, unable to recall the last time they had spoken to each other. But he remembered her with large dark eyes and a pale oval face framed by cascades of lush silken black hair.
The pain of separation stabbed at him again, surprised at how fresh it was despite the length of time passed. He had always regretted not telling her how he had felt about them. But he had been still too shy and untrusting, so afraid of rejection then. His silence then forever mocked him now with loneliness.
He wished he could tell her now but so many years had come and gone. She had a new life. Jason had even mentioned that she had met a nice young man at the peace conference and she was enjoying her time away. Even though Jason insisted it was nothing serious who was Billy to interfere with her happiness? Lord knows, she deserved it. He had had his chance and now it was gone.
There was an arc of energy as he brushed a capacitor brimming with some stored power. He cursed waving burning fingers in the air. That will teach me to concentrate on what I'm doing. Got to knock off this retrospective crap, he scolded himself. I've got work to do.
Trini Kwan opened the door of her apartment and tossed her books and briefcase on a nearby chair. It had been a long day and she was grateful it was over. Zack invited her out for dinner but she was too tired. She hadn't been sleeping well lately though she couldn't pinpoint exactly why. She stretched her lean arms above her head and sank down smoothly into a crouch, slipping quickly into a familiar kata, one that always brought her inner peace.
Fifteen minutes later, she finished and moved to take shower. As the warm water ran over her face she sighed realizing that the inner peace she sought was still elusive. The Peace Conference wasn't what she had thought it would be. Sure they were doing good here but there was something missing. It didn't give Trini the sense of satisfaction that it should. She wished she knew why. Maybe she was just homesick. She missed the old days in Angel Grove, missed her friends, their daily routines. She missed shopping with Kimberly, sparring with Jason, experimenting with Billy.
At the last, a soft smile crossed her features. She wondered how Billy was doing. They hadn't spoken for a long time. They were both so busy. She had heard he was practically running the command center finally. She supposed he was in his glory, tinkering with the big toys now. But then her smile fell. She never forgot the expression Billy wore on the day she left, so desolate and remorseful. It had actually struck a chord of pain within her.
It still did.
Katherine Hillard reclined on the soft blanket reading her latest fashion magazine. She lay on her side with the magazine spread beside her. She bit into a red Delicious apple dripping a drop or two of its juice on the page she was reading. She wiped at it absently.
Tanya leaned over and pointed to one of the pictures. "That would look great on you. Tommy would love it."
Katherine laughed and quickly covered the picture. "Yeah, but guess how much."
A contemplative scowl crossed the young black girl's face. "How about $150?" she finally decided,
actually bumping up her original estimate at Katherine's sudden question.
"Not even close. Try $350."
A shocked Tanya exclaimed, "Are you kidding me?"
Katherine shook her head, handing her friend the magazine. She then rolled to her left to watch the
boys playing volleyball. It was Adam and Rocky against the lone Tommy. Amazingly enough he was holding his own and though he was still losing it was only by a couple of points. Jason and Emily had decided to take in a movie and might possibly meet them later.
The long haired young man dove for the spiked ball Adam had just slammed over the net but he wasn't fast enough. He fell roughly onto the grass as the white ball struck the ground just inches away and then bounced into the bushes. Adam and Rocky high-fived each other half-heartedly and then looked sheepishly back towards their leader who rose slowly brushing the grass from his pants. He exhaled wearily and then turned to retrieve the ball.
"Too bad Billy couldn't have made it," Rocky commented to Adam who shrugged not really wanting to dwell on the absence of his best friend.
"He said he had work to do." Adam pushed a dark lock off his damp face. He had called Billy's house this morning only to discover that Billy had slept at the command center once again.
"He always seems to have work to do lately," Rocky complained, oblivious to the implications. "We need a fourth player. Tommy's practically no challenge."
Adam's eyes widened at the blue-clad figure. "Don't let him hear you say that."
Rocky shrugged, disappointment was heavy in his face. "Jason doesn't even hang with us. Ever since he met Emily he's got nothing but eyes for her. And besides Billy was always the fourth player."
"Well, that was before the Zeo powers. He has to repair the zords....while we rest." The last bit came out quietly almost in shame.
"So when does he rest?" Rocky demanded sharing his teammate's view.
"He doesn't." Tommy's stern voice interrupted them. He idly spun the volleyball in his hand. "Not so long as we continue to take the kind of hits we've been. Mondo's been playing pretty rough lately."
"We have to get him some help," the Blue Ranger insisted. "He's on call practically twenty four hours a day. He's there when there's an emergency and then he has to stay to repair the zords when its passed. It's not fair."
"Not to mention that he doesn't look well. He's been steadily losing weight or hadn't you noticed." Tanya and Katherine strode up behind them catching the last of the conversation. Tanya had been keeping an eye on Billy of late. She didn't miss the subtle changes in him over the last few months. Especially since Jason had arrived to take over the powers of the Gold Ranger. She sensed the anguish in Billy as he was forced to let the power pass him by. He would never say it aloud but unconsciously he was screaming his frustration at them. It just seemed that no one was listening but in truth it was just that they were all afraid to broach the subject knowing their teammate's extreme disappointment.
Katherine agreed with her friend. "He needs to get out more. He's trapped in that dark command center all the time. Zordon and Alpha don't need fresh air and sunshine but Billy does. We should have insisted that he come along with us."
Tommy snorted. "You can't make Billy do anything he doesn't want to do. Trust me."
"Well, then what are we going to do? He's a part of the team. If he needs help then it's up to us."
Rocky laughed. "Oh yeah, like we know what to do. We'd just be in the way. I'm barely passing
chemistry and physics now. A crash course in symbiosis technology is really going to come easy to me." His voice was edged sharply with sarcasm.
"There's got to be other things we could do," Adam insisted. "Even if it's just simple things, it's one less thing Billy will have to do and then maybe we could all go out together. After all, we are a team."
Tommy nodded. "That's right and as a team we work together. Whether Billy likes it or not, he's about to have company."
The alarm klaxon went off for the second time that day as Billy was inserting the newly rewired circuit board into place on Zeo Zord III. He systematically continued with the connections refusing to be rushed on such a crucial piece of machinery. He did take the time though to thumb open the line on his wrist communicator.
"Speak to me, Alpha. What's going on?"
"Ay yi yi, Billy! The monster has been activated! Smoke is pouring out of its back like a rocket about to take off!"
"I'll be there in a minute. Contact the Rangers."
Billy slipped the last connector into place and resealed the panel. He bolted from the zord's control
room, fluidly hopping the safety rail and landing on the elevator platform. With frustrating slowness he lowered himself down by use of the lift along the massive Sphinx's side. His hands paled as he gripped the rails tightly hating the extended duration it took to reach the bottom. He remembered a time when all he had to do was jump and he would land effortlessly on the floor below, his body coursing with power. He quickly turned those thoughts aside as the lift finally ground to a halt. When he arrived in the command center, the Rangers had already beaten him there.
"What have we got?" Jason asked stepping up to the viewing globe.
Billy explained the situation. He picked up the printout Alpha had achieved through the scans and perused it quickly. He didn't like what he saw. "The sensors were unable to penetrate the casing but it's throwing off some kind of energy signature that goes right off the scale."
"What's it do?" Rocky asked with dread.
Billy shook his head. "I wish I knew. Unfortunately, we just don't have enough to work with."
"Either way we don't have much of a choice. It's gearing up for something," Tommy remarked. "Let's do it guys! It's morphin' time!"
With a precise flurry of hand movements and vocal intonations, the transformations began.
"Zeo Ranger I, Pink!"
"Zeo Ranger II, Yellow!"
"Zeo Ranger III, Blue!"
"Zeo Ranger IV, Green!"
"Zeo Ranger V, Red!"
"Gold Ranger Power!"
They vanished in their corresponding flashes of light and the command center was empty once again. "Play it safe, guys," Billy warned them as he watched the viewing globe display his friends'
appearance before Mondo's newest monster.
The Zeo Rangers and the Gold Ranger materialized a hundred or so feet away from their target. It
was enormous, much larger than most of their previous adversaries. Most were only man sized at first until Klank, King Mondo's footman, enlarged them to several stories high. This one was almost three times human height already.
"Look at the size of that thing!" Rocky bellowed, voicing aloud the surprised reactions of all present. He immediately dropped into a defensive stance, the others following suit, but the machine just remained passive with smoke billowing out from within. The strong wind which was currently blowing swept the long column of smoke high into the air.
"How do you want to handle this, Tommy? We can't attack until it does," Jason pointed out
reminding them all of one of Zordon's few rules.
"I don't want to wait until it takes off for a target or just blows up on us either," Tommy snapped in frustration. "Let's force it into action. Maybe it will attack us if we just move closer."
"Right," they chorused and warily approached the massive machine. Suddenly a high pitched squeal erupted over their internal mics. They screamed in pain, sinking to their knees and clutching their heads.
Back at the command center the same horrible noise burst over the speakers and Billy collapsed in agony, writhing on the ground. Alpha shouted his name but the young man could hear nothing but the horrendous sound stabbing into his ears. Unaffected, Alpha quickly made some adjustments and the screeching eased. Shakily, Billy rose from the floor holding onto the console for support. His head throbbed as the echo of the attack lingered. "Thanks Alpha," he hissed. "Let's do the same for the others." Billy swiftly boosted the filters in the Rangers helmets. Their screaming stopped and Billy hit the communication switch.
"You guys okay?" he inquired anxiously.
Tommy's weakened voice came over the static filled line. "Yeah, thanks man. That almost did us in."
"Tell me about it," Billy held a hand to his aching temple. "It was Alpha not me who made the save on that one. It took me out too."
"Aye yi yi, Billy! Your ears!" Alpha called out suddenly his small hand grasping Billy's arm.
Billy wiped away some blood that slowly dripped from his ears. Without any protection, he was lucky he could still hear at all, so far all he had was a loud ringing in them. "It's okay, Alpha. I'm all right."
"What was it?" Jason asked in concern.
"A high frequency sound wave. Very incapacitating. If Alpha hadn't hit the filters it would have been all over. It was probably a security device meant to trigger when you approached." Billy took a quick reading on one of the computers. "Be careful guys, that attack drained your energies by 35%." Suddenly, Zordon let out a warning. "King Mondo's teleporter has just been activated."
"Tommy," Billy informed the team. "We got a new signal heading your way bearing 32 degrees north, 65 degrees west."
"We're on it." Tommy turned in the general direction and saw the dimensional doorway open and
deposit the royal court of Gadgetry on the nearest hill.
"Great, that's all we need," Rocky moaned.
"Well, well," King Mondo's syrupy voice dripped with smugness. "I see you attempted to attack my newest creation, the Devastator. I'd warn you against trying to goad him again but I know that you Rangers are predisposed to fight my monsters."
"Not to mention it's fun to watch them suffer," quipped the diminutive Prince Sprocket. He looked up at his father expectantly. "Can I give the order, pop."
"Of course, but I don't want to spoil my big surprise just yet. Just send the Cogs."
"Cogs!" the Prince commanded. "Attack!!" Sprocket bounced up and down excitedly as a plethora of King Mondo's fighting fodder swarmed down the hill toward the Rangers.
"I think we are in major trouble," yelled Tanya joining her comrades in rushing to meet the attack."
"This is a delaying tactic," shouted Tommy. He mentally keyed up his internal mic. "Billy we need a way to neutralize Devastator's sound attack!"
"Already on it," Billy announced. "I've introduced a new filter system which should withstand his
defenses. It will be a loud whine but it should be tolerable. Also that energy signature is continuing to build. If it is a bomb it's gearing up for one hell of an explosion. You guys will have to get away from ground zero before it goes off."
"Is that Mondo's plan?" queried Katherine. "To blow us to bits?"
"Apparently," Billy answered, dread filling a hollow pit in his stomach.
"Billy!" Tommy's voice attracted his attention. "You have to let us know when it's going to detonate."
"You got it, but you might not have much time to get out of there."
"Don't worry about that, we can handle it." Tommy yelled quickly and then they were hip deep in fighting mad Cogs and conversation was a luxury he couldn't afford. Three machines came at him at once and he spun about high in the air with a tornado kick. It connected solidly with each of them. They fumbled back and he quickly stepped in and delivered the final blow to each of them. The rest of the Rangers were similarly engaged. Tommy quickly gauged everyone's status and then rushed towards Katherine who had four Cogs to deal with. It took several minutes but the tide eventually turned in favor of the Rangers. The Cogs that remained were weakened and subdued.
Machina turned to her King. "The Devastator is not yet up to a full charge, we need to further distract those annoying Rangers, dear."
"Already taken care of my pet." He waved a fat bulging metal arm behind him and motioned forward another one of his creations. "Meet the Obliterator." A massive but slow moving monstrousity emerged. It's skin was gray and motely with a massive chest from which two huge arms in the shape of rocket launchers waved.
"What is it with these names?" Rocky moaned loudly. "Whatever happened to the evil Garbage Mouth or the Scatterbrain Monster?"
"Spread out," Tommy commanded. The six Rangers fanned into a half circle into which the Obliterator entered. The huge creature lumbered to a stop and lifted his arms out towards the Rangers.
"Look out!" Katherine shouted as twin missiles bore down on them plowing into the ground between herself and Adam. They were both flung backwards by the force of the subsequent explosion. She could feel the heat of it through her suit and grimaced with pain. Tommy was there to help her to her feet as she rubbed her shoulder tenderly. "It's powerful," she informed her leader.
Rocky and Tanya moved forward and each elicited strong kicks to the traditional weak points but the monster merely laughed and fired more of his arsenal. One hit near Rocky as he was trying to dodge. His body went flying into a nearby stand of trees.
"Rocky!" Tanya cried. She went to find him. The remaining Rangers called forth their power
weapons and leaped into the fray. They were swatted aside.
The toll on the Ranger's energy levels greatly disturbed all those present within the command center. Billy watched with great concern as they dwindling rapidly. Mondo was essentially wearing them down and he hadn't even let loose with the big weapon yet. Billy did not like where this was going at all. Rocky had taken the most damage already down to forty five percent but at least his vital signs were coming back up. Billy was about to suggest they use the Zeo Cannon but Tommy, realizing the same thing, gave the order. Billy hit the teleport button which his hand was hovering over and sent the weapon to his teammates. Then he began praying it would work.
Tommy opened the breech of the Zeo Cannon as the rest shouldered the heavy weapon. Then they each individually loaded a portion of their energy into the chamber. It always seemed like such a long time to Tommy, but in fact it only took seconds, existing in the same freakish dimension where their transformations took place. When the cannon was loaded the Obliterator stood in the same position as before. Tommy breathed a sign of relief and then got down to business.
"Zeo Cannon, Fire!"
The recoil from the weapon's discharge was slight despite the fact that the blast knocked the Obliterator off his feet with a tremendous explosion. The Rangers were constantly amazed by the
weapon's efficiency but then most of Billy's inventions had that quality.
The heavy breeze cleared the smoke from the battlefield to reveal the Obliterator slowly staggering to its feet.
"Damn," Rocky spat. Nothing's ever stood up to the Zeo Cannon before. He turned to the others.
"Scatter!" Tommy shouted as Obliterator's heavy armament came to bear. They all flung themselves aside as two missles of destructive force impacted the ground where they previously stood but they still caught the residual effects. It felt like they weren't even wearing the Zeo suits. Queen Machina regarded the battle. "I believe it is time, dear."
King Mondo stepped forward boldly. "Yes, my love. Let the rest of the festivities begin." He signaled Klank who quickly scurried off towards the slumbering Devastator. "Now we strike at our true target while all their resources are otherwise engaged. Farewell Zordon of Eltar!" The King's laughter echoed about the landscape.
The Rangers were slow to get up, shaking the damage off as best they could. Every bone in their bodies felt pulverized. The Gold Ranger was up first and called forth the golden staff's power. "Time for a gold rush!" he announced, his staff raised high in the air while multiple bolts of golden energy fired at the enemy staggering him back a few feet. He had to buy the others time to recover. Adam and Tanya maneuvered behind the lumbering behemoth and struck with their own unique weapons. The Obliterator fell forward. Tommy rushed up and landed a crippling blow on the creature's head. A high pitched whine began to build in intensity from within the metal frame.
"Everybody back!" Jason shouted. But there wasn't enough time. The Obliterator blew. Rangers were propelled through the air to land several feet away with sickening force.
Meanwhile, the second piece of Mondo's arsenal opened its eyes while flame and smoke erupted from its rocket pack. The ground began to shake.
"Tommy," Billy screamed through the link but the viewing globe was still obscured thanks to the drifting black smoke and there was silence over the intercom.
"Aye yi yi, Billy!" Alpha called out. "The Devastator is online! It's taking off!"
Billy quickly looked at the readouts and the hideousness of Mondo's plan suddenly became plain.
The command center was filled with alarms. It was blinding as well as deafening, stabbing painfully into his already sensitive ears. Billy shut them down swiftly. The trajectory of the Devastator was obvious. The young man wasted no time throwing all power to the shields, however he kept a portion silently in reserve.
"Billy," Zordon's voice commanded. "Teleport out now."
"Sorry, Zordon, I can't do that."
Shock ran across his mentor's face. He had never been disobeyed before. Alpha ran up to the ex-Ranger and pulled at his arm. "You have to leave Billy. You can't stay here."
Billy looked up angrily. "You're wrong. I'm not running away like we did the last time. I might have been able to avert the implosion's damage but you forcefully teleported us out!" Pain and anguish enveloped his features until determination took their place, his blue eyes hardening with resolve. "I won't let it happen again!" He turned back to the controls and reconfigured the power levels. There was no way to teleport out anyway once the new shields were activated.
Zordon knew immediately what Billy was doing. He was reinforcing Zordon's dimensional gateway and the Zeo crystal's shielding. He spoke out. "I can't allow this. Billy, return control over to me."
"I'm sorry, Zordon, but we can't lose you."
Alpha pointed to the viewing globe. "Here it comes! Zordon!"
Billy grabbed Alpha and shoved him towards one of the corners. It was probably the most reinforced section of the power chamber. "Stand over there," he commanded. Alpha meekly complied. Billy raced back and shut down all the unnecessary systems, including the viewing globe and redirected the remainder to a secondary interior shield. He ran towards Alpha and as soon as he arrived another smaller force field snapped on around them. There was no time for anything else as the Devastator hit.
The sound that filled the Command Center was worse than even before. It filled every fiber of his being with pain. He collapsed to the floor gasping with agony. The force field around Billy and
Alpha wavered and began to buckle. It felt as if there was a great hand pushing him into the floor just before the fireball broke through the outer shield and rained down upon them. He thought he heard Zordon scream his name just before oblivion took him.
"BILLY!" Tanya screamed. The rest of the rangers stood mutely beside her, numb with horror, watching the great ball of fire envelop the command center far in the distance. Even from here it was huge.
Tommy grabbed her wrist before she could teleport. "Not yet." His voice was strained and barely audible but he was still in command. "Wait."
"What!" Katherine shouted. "Why? We have to help them!"
"We will." He refused to lose anyone else. Their energy levels were already down. He wasn't sure they could even survive inside the inferno that was the command center. Their suits were just too weakened. He was amazed that they were still morphed which meant the crystal was somehow safe. That meant there was still a chance they would be able to teleport though he doubted it. His eyes never left the flames on the horizon. Long agonizing minutes later only black smoke smeared the skyline. He nodded and released her. "Now." They all reached for their wrists. Tommy was the only one who was amazed that it worked. They vanished in brilliant steaks leaving one battlefield for another.
They emerged into hell. Portions of the command center were black and charred. Columns were strewn across the power chamber. Barely recognizable forms of what were once the massive computers were eviscerated and laid to waste. The Rangers slowly removed their helmets and gazed with burning, unshielded eyes at the destruction
Suddenly, Katherine grabbed Tommy's arm in amazement. They all saw it. Zordon's tube was whole and operational, glowing faintly with the familiar green.
"It's a miracle," he whispered. Zordon suddenly appeared in his chamber. His huge eyes were different as he took in the devastation. They looked moist.
Rocky and Jason found Alpha huddled in the corner buried under some debris. He was covered in soot and ash and barely functioning but even Adam could see there was little structural damage. He looked around frantically. That accounted for only two of the three occupants.
Tanya finally spotted the still form under the remains of one of the consoles that had been ripped from its roots and flung across the chamber. "Oh my God." She swayed and Jason caught her in steel arms.
Katherine's hands flew to her mouth. "Oh no, no, no..."
Tommy knelt down. It was Billy. The burns were only minuscule but the console that pinned him to the floor lay heavily across his chest, splashes of red dotted his white shirt.
"Help me get this off of him," he shouted to the others. They leaped to his aid and gently lifted the large piece of equipment off their friend. Tears streamed down Adam's and the girl's faces.
Adam dropped to his knees beside Billy's motionless body. There was a frothy pink film on his lips. He tentatively reached a hand to Billy's neck and searched for the slightest hint that he was still alive. A sob broke through as he felt a weak, thready pulse. He nodded to the others unable to say anything.
Tommy issued commands. "See if there's any medical equipment working. We need to know the extent of his injuries before we move him." Rocky and Katherine quickly complied, frantically throwing the useless equipment aside in hopes of finding something that was still operational.
Remote sounds assailed Billy from a great distance. His muddled mind refused to acknowledge them and it took great effort to force it to think. Something was very wrong. He thought for a moment that he was underwater, as if a giant hand was slowly squeezing his chest. He couldn't draw a breath to cry out. That panicked him. Then suddenly the hand was gone but the pain it left was far worse than before. His mind struggled to retreat back to the oblivion of before. Billy almost allowed it and then forced himself to come back.
His eyes snapped opened as another wave of agony washed over him. He couldn't breath. It was as if he was drowning and his body was racked with a horrible gurgling cough. His arm flailed out in pain and was immediately grabbed by someone offering strength.
"It's alright, Billy. We're here," Adam choked out. Yeah, as if that meant everything was going to be okay. Adam knew things were bad even without any diagnostic equipment.
However, Billy didn't settle down. Billy grabbed at his throat with his other hand and Adam instantly recognized the problem. "He can't breathe, Jason!" he shouted.
Jason quickly grabbed Billy's shoulders and eased him into Adam's lap. Immediately Billy's breathing eased. His bloodshot eyes closed against the pain but he refused to relinquish his hold on Adam's hand which was fine because Adam wasn't letting go either.
"Tommy." Zordon's voice was low. "How is Billy?" Without any equipment to rely on he was effectively blind.
The Red Ranger turned to his mentor, his helmet falling from nerveless fingers. He just shook his head.
"He refused to leave," Zordon nearly whispered. "He locked me out and diverted energy to shield the tube and the crystal." His voice shook. "There was no way for him to teleport out."
Tommy nodded. As leader he hadn't failed to see that Billy had been greatly affected when the command center imploded almost two years ago. Billy had always blamed himself for not being able to stop it and save Zordon and the power. Of course everything had turned out all right when they had found the Zeo crystal the inept Goldar and Rito had dropped. But Billy had always wondered what if they hadn't. He had sworn that such a thing would never have a chance to happen again.
Billy blinked against the smoke and ash still lingering in the air. A great hole had been exposed in the ceiling when the Devastator had hit. He could still see the brilliance of the blue sky obscured by the dark clouds drifting up through the hole. He looked over at Adam and tried to smile. "How's... Zor...don?" he gasped, his every breath felt as if he was inhaling broken glass.
Adam bit his lip for control of his emotions and then answered quickly. "He's fine. You saved him Billy." Adam's voice broke at the last.
Billy closed his eyes in relief. Adam panicked and squeezed his friend tighter afraid he was slipping away from them. Billy's eyes snapped open as pure white agony flooded him. Adam released his pressure and tried to calm down. Billy hated what this was doing to his best friend. I'm sorry, he mouthed soundlessly. Tears rolled down Adam's anguished face.
Jason reached out and ran a large hand through his friend's fine hair. Billy turned to him. "Jason," he murmured weakly. The other tried to give an encouraging smile and failed.
Some leader I am, Jason thought. "Hang tough, Billy. We'll get you help." Billy nodded but Jason didn't think his old teammate believed him. If they didn't find a piece of working equipment soon, Jason was just going to pick Billy up and teleport him to a hospital and damn the consequences. It would be better than watching Billy die helplessly in front of him.
Katherine rushed over with a charred but blinking scanner. "I found this. It's still working I think." She quickly ran it over Billy and fresh tears welled in her eyes, her head unconsciously shaking from side to side at what she saw but had refused to believe until now. Tommy took the device from her and read its diagnosis. It was beyond grim. There was no way anyone could survive those injuries. Maybe if the power chamber hadn't been so damaged....maybe if their own energy levels weren't so low....
Billy drew in a slow labored breath and reached out to Katherine. "Don't .... be sad. I saved .... Zordon ... for you."
Katherine choked on her sobs and Tommy squeezed her shoulder while she held Billy's hand to her tear soaked cheek.
Rocky was supporting Tanya just behind Adam. "This isn't supposed to happen," Tanya kept whispering over and over. Rocky strengthened his hold while his eyes filled with tears. He refused to blink and allow them to fall, feeling the burning behind them as the strain became too much.
Billy gazed up at Zordon, his vision suddenly tunneling; he could feel his heart weakening. A flash of terror struck him and he willed himself to remain steadfast. He wasn't afraid of dying but he was afraid of not being able to apologize to someone he regarded as a surrogate father figure. "I'm sorry... Zordon," he gasped softly, hoping his mentor would still be able to hear his fading voice. "But I... couldn't lose.... you ... or the ... crystal again. It had ...to be .... this way. Please.... forgive me."
Zordon's voice was heavy with deep emotion for the first time any of the Rangers could remember. "I forgive you my Blue Ranger. Your spirit will live on in all of us."
It was too much for all of those present and the tears flowed freely. Only Adam felt Billy's passing and he hugged his friend tightly ordering him not to go. He prayed to God for Billy to respond but he never did. And so for the second time in his short life, William James Cranston disobeyed a command.
Trini had just drifted off to sleep. Her apartment was quiet and peaceful until her scream shattered it. Her hands flew to her mouth to quiet herself before her neighbors heard. She drew in great gulps of air, her body trembling as every pore opened it's flood gates. She staggered to the bathroom and ran cold water over her face and neck. It was just a dream. It was just a dream, she repeated to herself like a mantra. Everything is fine. It was just a dream. But the sick feeling in her stomach didn't leave. Her instinct shouted that something was wrong. The dream spoke to her of a tragic change in her life one that would affect her very soul.
She shuddered. She had always had the uncanny ability to see into the future. Just glimpses, like her father and grandmother before her but never had it ever been so clear. Tragedy waited beyond the door and she didn't want to meet it. Minutes passed and the sense of dread would not leave her. She quickly picked up the phone and called home, just to be sure. Her mother answered the phone surprised that her daughter was still up. They were just setting down to dinner. Everything was fine, her mother assured her and Trini began to breathe a little easier. She relaxed and began to enjoy the unexpected conversation with her mother.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Epilogue