Disclaimer: The Power Rangers are owned by Saban Entertainment, not me. This fic was inspired by the movie Armageddon. This fic is set about a year after the original turbo team left the show, shortly after Countdown to Destruction. Although there will be some arguing scenes and romance scenes, this fic contains NO nudity, very little course language, but does have quite a bit of violence. This fic is mostly about adventure, but involves quite a bit of family relationships, particularly that of Kat and her father. Thus, it is rated PG-13. This fic is NON-profitable, and just so you know, it is a very long fic, so it may take a while to read, but I guarantee you're likely to enjoy it. Commander Norquist is the guy from "Chase into Space part 2" who gave Justin and the Turbo Rangers the shuttle to fly to Eltar. The song "I Don't Want To Miss a Thing" is owned by Aerosmith. I take NO credit for any of their work, and I give credit to the movie Armageddon for some of the ideas that I use. Enjoy the story!
Throughout the course of the earth's history, unexplained occurrences and changes affect the life inhabiting our lush, green planet. Since the beginning of time, life on earth has evolved from several different species, and mankind can only go so far back in time with their studies on their planet's past...
...there was a time when man did not exist. Back then, a savage-like, large and powerful species that we know today as the dinosaurs ruled a planet of a warm, comfortable climate. However, the mindless creatures were unaware of the coming of their own extinction. An asteroid from deep space changed the face of our planet for millions of years to come. With the passing of the dinosaurs during the Jurassic period, the earth was left as a lifeless sphere of molten lava for thousands of years. However, the death of one species lights the path for the birth of a new one, bringing the dawn of a new age. Mankind now roams this planet, developing their technology and expanding their knowledge about everything around them. However, our arms can only reach so far. Although our land is large to us, it is but a small fraction of the universe. We know only very little about what goes on outside of our planet. The innocent souls that wander the earth are unaware of what is to come in the near future...
It is a time of peace. With the noble sorcerer Zordon vanquished and his energies spreading forth throughout the universe, all evil was diminished. The planet earth has ceased all warfare and other conflicting actions, thankful for the death of Dark Specter and all evil spirits in existence. Now, without villains, there is no more need for heroes. However, though vileness throughout the universe has died, mankind can do nothing to prevent natural disasters, for they come and go. Even every earthquake, tornado, hurricane, or volcano eruption in history cannot prepare the world for the destruction that is about to come...
...in outer space there lies an infinite number of asteroids both large and small, their existence based on the theory of the "Big Bang" before the creation of the universe. As these asteroids continue their endless cycle of floating in space, often there are planets and moons that interfere with their trajectories. The ancient Greeks tried to explain the scars on the moon's face with stories about the "man on the moon." Little did they know those scars, which were actually giant craters are the result of a meteor crashing down onto the moon's surface. If life ever existed on other planets, they were probably wiped out by asteroid collisions. But for several billion years, we have been more fortunate. Though the pieces of giant rock strike us at regular intervals in time, life has been preserved on our planet, and we never questioned the existence of our own future... that is... until now...
Deep space, hundreds of millions of miles from the earth...
Invisible to even the most powerful telescopes, a large rock 275 miles long and wide travels at a constant velocity with nothing to disrupt its path. So far away, yet so close to taking the lives of six billion people, the asteroid's speed is exceeds the speed of sound, and on a direct course with the planet earth. Though several months will pass before the world will even have the slightest hint of trouble, when the asteroid will be close enough to be in visible range for astronomers, the question now remains of what man will do to prevent this menace, that is, if we can do anything at all.
Present day Angel Grove, inside the Hillard residence...
"Where could she be this late at night!?" yelled Major Jack Hillard angrily. "It's past midnight and we still haven't heard from her."
"Now Jack," said his wife Ann. "You know that Katherine's out with Tommy right now. She'll be home before long."
Sitting on his living room couch, Major Hillard retorted "that's what she always says. But whenever she's out with him [Tommy], she always takes her sweet time before coming back home. Every weekend it's like this. She never calls and I'm always worried sick about what might happen to her!" Jack was a tall man in his mid-forties, standing close to 6'4, over 200 pounds with broad shoulders, and only a very thin Aussie accent. He was clean shaven, with a slightly wrinkled forehead and greyish-white hair. He had muscular arms and a deep voice.
"Take it easy now, Jack," said Ann. "You know you're only upset because she came home early from London to spend time with Tommy. But she's grown up now, and she can make her own decisions. She's the type of girl who sacrifices something for something more important, even if it means dumping college for a future husband. Now I know you hate Tommy for this, but it's not his fault. They're in love. Please try to understand."
"It... it's more than that," Jack answered. "And I don't hate Tommy. It's just that Kat could have been something more special, she could have done a lot with her life. She's a bright, talented young woman capable of doing any career. But every time I look at Tommy, all I ever see in him is our daughter's future washed away. They're relationship could have waited, and they aren't married yet, Ann. Even if they were, I highly doubt that that martial arts institute that Tommy and his friends run are going to make enough income to support a future family," Major Hillard sighed. "And besides, it's always like this with her. Every time she gets a boyfriend, her grades wind up dropping and she spends time trying to please her man. She was dumped twice before when we were living in Australia. But this time she dropped something that could have made her a somebody. I... I'm just afraid that he might, you know... hurt her."
"He won't," his wife assured. "They've been going out for two years now, with everything perfectly steady. I think that Tommy is a fine boy. You have nothing to worry about."
Elsewhere in Angel Grove...
A beautiful couple strolled along the shoreline of a beach, holding hands. It was a peaceful night, with the moonlight illuminating their shadows as the calm waves of the waters splashed about. Tommy Oliver and Katherine Hillard stopped walking for a moment and stared out into the open sea.
"What a scenery," the tall blond haired girl said softly. "Thanks for taking me out tonight, Tommy."
"Anytime," he replied. "I just hope your folks don't mind you being out so late."
"Don't worry about that, Tommy," Kat said convincingly. "My mum knows that I'll be alright. But my dad, well, he's always a little paranoid about these things. But that's how he is, very strict. All those years working for the Air Force in Australia have made him this way."
"A military man," Tommy chuckled. "How long did he work there for?"
"Twenty years," his girlfriend answered. "Most officers retire by then. He was considered by far the best pilot from down under. He even got the opportunity to operate a space shuttle at Nasada one time. That was before we came here, though."
"Wow," Tommy was fascinated. "Then what brought you guys to America?"
"Well, he was offered a position in the United Nations shortly after he retired," she explained. "He took the offer and this is where his new office is located. He's always been a tough guy, so you shouldn't worry about his attitude."
"I guess," the long-haired boy sighed. "It's just that I could tell he wasn't too pleased to meet me, and the way he talked it was like he didn't want you to see me."
"That's only because he's always tried to be 'all that he could be,' and that's what he expected out of me as well. So when I dropped the ballet school in London to come here to be with you, he was crushed," Katherine said.
"I see," Tommy bowed his head down low, wondering if he should be feeling guilty for what his girl gave up for him. Then, staring back up into the sky, he changed the subject: "the stars sure look great at this time of night."
"Yeah, the constellations can be really beautiful sometimes," Kat agreed.
"They are. But not... as beautiful are you are tonight," Tommy smiled, and took his girlfriend into his arms, and kissed her, "I love you."
"Love you too," Kat said, almost speechlessly. They began kissing each other, and Tommy lay down on his back onto the soft, dry sand beneath him. Kat lay on top of him, in a straddle position. Tommy removed his shirt, leaving it on the ground beside him. He then slowly undid Kat's dress, removing it as she slipped off her high heels, until she wore nothing but her bra and panties, exposing her smooth, sexy body. They kissed each other passionately, as he undid her bra strap...
Later that evening...
Jack Hillard sat at the top of the staircase in his home. It was now three o'clock in the morning. Kat had never been out this late before. His wife had gone to bed already, but he couldn't help worrying about where his daughter was. He tilted his head back against the wall he was leaning on and sighed. He was adamant on his belief that an individual could lose everything when in a world of love. He himself was raised by a single mother on welfare. He had no brothers or sisters, so his childhood was tormented with loneliness every time his mother left home. But she was long dead now from a disease that the doctors couldn't cure. Perhaps this was what increased Major Hillard's uneasiness of his little girl being out so late. Worst of all, Major Hillard never did tell Kat about her grandmother.
A few minutes passed before the front door opened. Before walking in the door, Kat kissed Tommy goodnight, then walked in to see her father's angry look at the top of the staircase.
"WHERE have you been!?" he screamed as Kat shut the door behind her. "It's 3 in the morning! I was worried sick..."
Sighing, Katherine didn't know what to say, "I..." her voice trailed off. Just minutes ago she had explored her sexuality for the first time with Tommy. _How can I explain this to him?_ she thought. She was unsure about having sex just earlier that evening, yet she did it, and had other things on her mind other than arguing with her father.
"Leave me alone!" Kat beamed at her father. "I said I'd be out late tonight. You're always trying to run my life."
"What did you say to me!?" the Major was shocked at his daughter's outburst. "You don't even call, and you think you can just show up here without an explanation?" he stood up and crossed his arms, blocking the stairway before Kat could even begin to get to her room. By now her mother had woken up and stepped out into the hallway beside her father.
"I told you she'd be home, Jack."
"What am I supposed to do with you, Kat!?" he shouted, ignoring his wife. "It's dangerous to be out there this late! I was worried sick! You could have been hurt, killed, or... or whatever!"
Katherine fell to her knees and slowly began to cry. "You... you can't run my life like this! Why can't I ever have any freedom from you?" her voice began to shake, and she buried her face in her hands and sobbed. There was nothing she could do to make him understand. Ann Hillard rushed down the stairs and wrapped her arms around Kat.
"It's okay," she whispered.
Sighing, Jack shook his head and walked back into his room. Was it wrong for him to be strict on her? He questioned himself. Ann had always been so lenient towards Kat, maybe because she was their only child. By now he had been so used to giving orders, and couldn't help but feel frustrated every time they were disobeyed.
A week later...
Kat sat in her room on a bright Saturday afternoon. She hadn't spoke much with her father in the last 6 or 7 days. It was always like this in her home. Arguments would occur and would soon be forgotten, but the pain stayed inside of her. She might have paid more attention to her father in the recent days, but her mind was focused on something else, something she dared not even tell her mother. Closing the door to her room, the former Pink Ranger picked up the receiver of her phone and dialed, "hello? Tanya? Yeah it's me."
"Kat!" called Tanya on the other end of the line. She was studying at a university somewhere upstate and rarely got a chance to speak to her best friend. "How've you been?"
"Not good," Kat said depressingly.
"Really? Why's that?"
"Tanya, I really need to talk to you about something. It's kind of important," Katherine spoke with uneasiness in her voice.
"Alright, I'm listening. Is something wrong?"
"Sort of," Kat answered. "You're the only one I can talk to about this. Last week, me and Tommy went on a date. Well, he started kissing me, and... and..."
Katherine took a deep breath before continuing. "We, well we... um, I... I don't know how to say this, but..." she sounded concerned, "he started taking my clothes off, and..."
"Oh my goodness," Tanya was shocked. "Kat, you, you didn't, did you? I mean, did you use protection?"
Kat sighed, "no. But that's not why I called," she looked around to make sure no one was listening. The four walls around her stared back at her blankly. "Yesterday morning, I was supposed to, um..." she began whispering, "I missed my period."
"What?" Tanya said in disbelief. "Oh no, Kat. You, you might be¾"
"Pregnant, I know. Tanya, I don't know what to do."
"Kat, listen to me. You've gotta go to a clinic and have yourself checked," Tanya said on the line.
"I know I do," Kat answered. "But, I'm scared. What if I am?"
"You'll have to find out anyway," Tanya said. "We need to be sure of this. Try and do it as soon as possible if you can."
Deep in the vast oceans of space...
The giant asteroid in deep space continued its long journey to earth. The rock formations on the object were hideous, and it was swarmed by hundreds of thousands of small meteors, traveling at just as fast a rate. Earth was still quite a distance away, its inhabitants still unaware of what is to come...
Several days later...
Katherine Hillard sat on a couch in her living room, staring into a blank television screen. The results were finalized. She was pregnant, and no one else knew. She didn't know how to tell anybody, much less her father. _No_ she thought. _I can't tell him yet. He'll be so mad at me. I should let mum know first._ A few minutes went by before Ann Hillard entered the door, carrying a grocery bag.
"Hi honey," she greeted her daughter. "Is something wrong?"
_Why would she ask that?_ Kat thought to herself. "Why do you ask?"
"I dunno," her mother replied. "You look depressed. Did something happen?"
Katherine took a deep breath. _Just tell her_ "Mum, I need to talk to you about something."
"Good work everyone," Jason Lee Scott commented to the young karate class he was teaching. "Now remember to keep practicing. We need to be ready for the junior tournament in a few days. I'll see you all here tomorrow." The group of young students bowed to their teacher before leaving. A large banner hung from the ceiling bearing the letters 'Angel Grove Martial Arts Institute,' the school that Jason, Tommy, Adam and Rocky founded together. It was a rather large gymnasium, with punching bags and floor mats, as well as certain weapons used in everyday training. Jason walked over to the shower room and removed his tank top. He had been working out more than usual, so his body was in the best shape it had ever been in. Tommy stepped out of a shower with a towel wrapped around his waist, with his hair wet. It took him a moment or two before realizing Jason was standing next to him.
"Hey buddy," Tommy greeted. "How was class?"
"Great. The team's doing well," his friend answered.
"That's good to hear. Um, Jase, just so I know, have you heard from Kat recently?"
"No man, I haven't. Why?" asked Jason.
"Hmm... that's strange," Tommy pondered. "Every time I've called in the past couple of days, she says she can't talk. I don't know why."
"That's weird," Jason stated. "She doesn't usually act like this. Maybe something's wrong. Girls can be like that sometimes. Maybe you should just drop by her house and pay her a visit."
"Ya know, I should," Tommy said joyfully. "I'm leaving right now anyway, so on my way home I can pass by."
"Mum... I'm so sorry," Kat said, feeling uncomfortable. Her mother hadn't spoken for several seconds after hearing her story.
"Don't be," her mother's words were a sigh of relief. "Katherine, I don't know what to say. You're only nineteen years old." She hugged her daughter. "But you're my only child. Now I'm not going to sit here and yell at you because it's not going to help. And I know you're afraid of telling your father, so we won't worry about that right now. Kat, first you're going to have to tell Tommy."
"I don't know if I can do that, mum." The doorbell rang shortly after Kat's response. She opened the door and was surprised to see Tommy standing in front of her.
"Hey," said Tommy. "I was on my way home and I thought I'd stop by." He suddenly realized his girlfriend's eyes were slightly red, and she looked as though she had been crying. "Wait a minute, is there something wrong?"
"Tommy we need to talk," Kat stepped outside her doorstep and shut the door. Tommy would have to know eventually.
"Tommy, remember our last date?"
"Yeah, of course I do."
"Tommy, I'm afraid to say this, because I don't know how you'll react," Kat summed up the courage before continuing. "I... I'm pregnant."
Tommy stood in disbelief, "...what? Are you sure?"
Tommy took a step back, and stared up blankly into the sky, then hung his head low with his hand on his forehead. "Is... is it mine?" he watched as Kat nodded. He took her in his arms and hugged her gently. He paused for several moments before speaking again, "Kat, this is shocking. But... but I'll help you through this. I... I'll be there for you, I promise. I won't let you do this alone."
Nine Months Later...
Downtown Angel Grove, just several miles from the Nasada Space Center...
A local Nasada astronomer sits in his usual workplace late on an evening where the full moon outside shines from behind a shade of black clouds, as if to be an omen of some sort. A large telescope, taking up the capacity of nearly half the room, points up into the open sky as the astronomer stares through its lenses through the open ceiling. He makes a few calculations on the computer sitting in front of him before turning back to his telescope to resume navigating the solar system. Studying the area near the asteroid belt between the planets of Jupiter and Mars, he notices a giant rock-like object in the sky, miles and miles away, yet it catches his attention that is moving at an extremely fast, constant rate. Navigating for another several minutes and seeing the size of the rock, he concludes that it is an asteroid, hundreds of miles long, and hundreds of miles wide. Looking concerned, the astronomer picks up the coordinates of the asteroid on his computer, then studies its trajectory...
...a few seconds pass before the shocked astronomer reacts from what he has just discovered. Raising both of his fists in the air, he slams his hands down onto the desk in front of him, knocking over his cup of coffee and causing a stack of papers to scatter over the floor. Footsteps came trotting down the hallway and the door creeks open.
"Hubert, your dinner's getting cold," called what appeared to be the astronomer's wife.
"Not now, Martha," the astronomer responded. Then, picking up the telephone to the left of his desk, he quickly dials a phone number which he seems to know like his own. "Hello?" he called into the receiver, "this is Dr. Hubert Hayes calling. Put Commander Norquist on the line, and tell him it's an emergency... no it can't wait! I have to speak to him NOW!"
Nasada Space Center, same day, 5 am in the morning...
Commander Norquist was a man in his late-fifties, standing 5'9 with white hair and gold rimmed glasses. The Commander stormed down a corridor and came into the large navigations control room at the north end of the Space Center, where hundreds of men were working on computers and large monitors at the front of the room, trying to track the asteroid. "James, get on the main computer and begin tracking its coordinates! We want to know as much as we can about this thing! Go on, move!"
Several minutes passed as Nasada workers began linking communications with Russian satellites in orbit. Using powerful telescopes, the satellites snapped distant photos of the asteroid. A few hours passed as several workers who had been woken up from bed rushed into the space center and began processing as much information as possible about the giant rock. Men gathered in groups holding up piles of papers and folders, comparing all known data with one another. It was absolute chaos. A few more hours passed as everything was finally sorted out, and Commander Norquist gathered up a small group of scientists in a secret briefing room in Nasada Headquarters. 6 large photos of the asteroid were hung up on one end of the room, with the Commander standing at the head of a long, narrow table with about fifteen men seated around him.
"So you're all positive that this thing is going to hit us?" Commander Norquist stared blankly at his men, awaiting answers.
A man wearing a white dress shirt and tie stood up from the other end of the table, "sir, eight hundred people have been running around this Space Center, and we've studied its trajectory hundreds of times. We're positive... this thing is heading right for us now at 30 thousand miles per hour."
"Then we've got to inform the president," responded the Commander. "Jenkins, do what you can to get the White House on the line. Let them know that Commander Norquist has urgent news. Alert the United Nations as well."
"Congratulations Ms. Hillard, you have a wonderful baby boy!" exclaimed a nurse at Angel Grove hospital. Kat was breathing heavily after giving birth just seconds ago. Tommy held her hand throughout it all and kissed her on the forehead when it was over. Over the past nine months she was trained to prepare for giving birth, though she never thought it would be this difficult.
"You did it," he complemented before going over to the nurse to see his child.
Kat's mother, who had been waiting outside, rushed in and gave her daughter a hug, "this is wonderful. I know you'll make a great mother."
"Ugh... has... has daddy arrived yet?" Kat asked, still breathing heavily.
"No dear, I'm sorry," Ann Hillard sighed. She knew her husband was furious about everything that was going to happen. Many nights he stayed out late, and even going to bars for drinks in the early morning just to stay away from home. _if only I could tell her why her father's been acting this way_ Mrs. Hillard thought to herself. She was the only one who knew about his dark past. "Your friends are outside waiting to see you," she told Kat. "I'll send them in after a few minutes."
Several minutes passed as the doctors washed the baby before handing him back to Kat. Kat cradled the baby in her arms, with Tommy right by her bedside. The door to the room creeked open slightly, and in walked Tanya with Adam, Rocky and Jason.
"Hi Kat," Tanya greeted.
"Tanya! You made it!" Katherine was excited to see her friend.
"You kidding? I couldn't miss this. Congratulations," the former yellow ranger said.
"This has been quite a day. So have you decided what you want to call him yet?" Adam wondered.
"Good question," answered Tommy.
"How about we name him after a really cool guy?" suggested Rocky, "I say we call him, uhh... Rocky," he joked.
"Rocky..." Kat half-smiled at him. "Sorry guys, I'm just not in the mood for this right now. You think up a name for him, Tommy," she sighed.
"Is something wrong?" questioned Jason. "You don't look like a happy mother right now."
"It's my dad," Katherine explained. "He said he didn't want to be here as long as Tommy was around."
"Kat..." Tommy began. "I'm really sorry about everything that's happened in your family. I just wish there was something I could do."
"Don't feel bad, Tommy. It's not your fault," Kat said to appease him. "It's our baby, and I know you'll do a lot to take care of him. I just don't feel right without daddy here. I know we've had our hard times recently. But before that he was such a loving, caring man. Things have changed so much."
Tommy held her by the hand and stared into his baby's adorable eyes, "hey, it's gonna be okay," he assured her. "There's so much to be proud of right now. This baby was our choice, not his," Tommy said, then changed the subject. "Now, what were we going to call him again?"
A long, black limousine pulled up at the main entrance of the Nasada Space Center. The back door opened as the President stepped out, along with a few of his men and a man in a military uniform. The President was a man in his early sixties, clean shaven and with gray hair. He wore a black armani suit and trudged up the staircase to the entrance where he was met by Commander Norquist. "Thank you for arriving on such short notice, Mr. President," the Commander welcomed him as they shook hands.
"Norquist, if an asteroid is going to hit this planet, then I've got a darn good reason for being here," responded the President. "Now, I'd like you to keep my presence here a secret. Make sure that no one outside of Nasada knows I'm here. There's no need to alert the press as of yet."
"Of course, sir," Commander Norquist agreed.
"Captain Floyd, get my briefcase and tell the driver to park the limo, we'll be here for a while," the President ordered the man in the military uniform. The Captain saluted and did as he was told.
The President was greeted by several Nasada officials on his way inside. The Commander led him to the briefing room where several Nasada astronomers were already seated. The President, along with some of his advisors entered the room, followed by the Captain. The President sat down at the head of the table next to Commander Norquist. "So, now that we're all here, tell me a little about this asteroid," said the President. "How big is this thing?"
"We predict close to 300 miles long and wide," reported the Commander.
"Dear God," muttered the President under his breath. "So... what kind of damage... are we expecting?"
"That's what we're afraid to tell you, sir," the Commander began. "Something this size, traveling at this speed gives a 0% chance of survival for all human beings here on earth. The rock would strike us with the force of a hundred thousand nuclear warheads. All life currently existing on this planet would be wiped out within a matter of hours. We're talking end of the world here. No matter where it hits, and no matter how hard it hits, mankind would be extinct... forever."
The President listened in shock, "this is incredible. Then, Commander, what have you and your colleagues decided to do about this asteroid?" the President stared around at the blank faces around him.
"Well..." said Commander Norquist embarrassingly, "that's why we're all here. We, um... still haven't finalized our decision."
"You mean to tell me that you don't know what you're going to do about this thing!?" the President was furious. "Here comes the end of mankind, and here we are taking our sweet time deciding what the heck we are going to do! You're Nasada, you've made miracles happen, and this is the time we need you the most. Now, of all times this is when you tell me you've got nothing planned!?"
"Sir, this came out of the blue just last night," explained Norquist. "None of us have had any sleep, or any time to rest at all. Now the asteroid shouldn't hit us for at least another few months. By then we will be ready, I assure you."
"Well then, you'd better be." said the President, "And until that time I am declaring this information as top secret. NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY outside of this Space Center will be saying anything to anyone about this. If word were to get out, there would be a total breakdown of society throughout the world, rioting, the press never being about to get off our backs, etc. Now Norquist, we've got a lot of work to do in these next few months."
Seconds later, footsteps were heard rampaging down the hallways. A man carrying a pile of papers in his right hand came bursting into the room, breathing heavily as he stopped. The men seated around Commander Norquist and the President gazed up at the man as he stood before them.
"Joe, what is the meaning of this?" the Commander questioned as he stared strangely at the man. "Can't you see we're in the middle of the most important meeting in the history of this planet!?"
"Sir, it's urgent," began the man with the papers. "We've been studying the comet, and we have exactly 4 weeks..." he caught his breath before speaking again, "FOUR WEEKS... EXACTLY 28 DAYS UNTIL IT HITS EARTH!"
Tommy's car pulled up into the driveway of the Hillard Home. Kat stepped out of the passenger seat of the car, holding her baby, who slept quietly. It weighed in at about eight pounds, with adorable little blue eyes and was slightly plump, as most newborns are. Tommy stepped out of his side of the car and walked Kat into her doorstep, "so you sure you want to keep him here tonight?"
"Yeah," she replied. "My mum said it was okay. Listen, why don't you come visit us early tomorrow morning and we can take the baby out somewhere. What do you think?" but before Tommy had the chance to answer, Katherine's father stepped out the front door of the house.
"What do you think you're doing here with THAT?" her father asked rhetorically. "And you [pointing at Tommy], get off my lawn right now!"
Just then Kat's mother came rushing down the staircase and to the doorstep next to her husband, "Jack! Stop this, don't do this to her now!"
Ignoring her mother, Katherine was lost in a world of both hurt and anger, "dad, that's enough! I told you for the last time that I was keeping my baby!"
"And I'VE told YOU for the last time that you're not!"
"What makes you think you have the right to make my decisions??" Kat shrieked angrily. "You did nothing to help prepare me for this baby, and you weren't even there in the hospital while I was giving birth! You're never there for me!"
Almost ready to give up to his shame, Major Hillard had little to respond, "Katherine, honey, give the baby to your boyfriend and come inside. We'll work this out tonight."
"No," she retorted curtly. "I know what you're going to make me do, and I'm not giving him up."
"Come inside right now damn it!"
"No! I... I hate you!" Kat finally screamed. Jack Hillard shuddered with the words that shot out of her daughter's mouth. He watched as she almost burst into tears, just another of several times before that his actions had hurt her.
"Kat," Tommy put his arm around her. "Let's go... my place," he whispered. The couple strolled back into Tommy's car. "It's going to be okay," he assured her before turning on the ignition.
Nasada Space Center the following day...
"I'm telling you, Mr. President," the Commander explained desperately. "Dr. Hubert Hayes is probably the world's greatest astronomer. He was the one who discovered the asteroid. He and two of my men are in the Navigations Mission Control Room studying everything they can about the asteroid. They should be back with an answer soon."
"You dispatched them 4 hours ago," Captain Floyd spoke up for the President. "Now sir, I've been a part of the American army for 8 long years now, so I think I can speak from experience when I recommend you to send up a nuclear warhead at that asteroid and blast it to shreds."
"I'm telling you for the last time, Captain Floyd," the Commander seemed frustrated, "that's not going to work."
"Then send up every atom bomb we've got here on earth," the President put forth his thoughts. "Our military combined with Russian technology have some of the largest missiles and most advanced nuclear bombs in the world. We could engulf this thing with the radiation blasts and it'll never hit us."
"Hitting the rock from the outside won't do anything to it!" Commander Norquist said at last. "That's what we figured out last night. This thing is made from a combination of several different elements unlike anything we've ever seen on earth. Those nukes will just barely dent the asteroid, not to mention that firing them from a distance down here could mean that a single miss-fire would result in the loss of a perfectly good bomb."
Seconds later, Doctor Hayes trotted back into the conference room to rejoin the Commander and the President and their men. "We believe we've found the answer," he announced.
"Well, go on."
"Now pay attention carefully. We've studied the asteroid inside-out, and we've found a weakness. Now this thing is exactly 276.5 miles long, and the strategy we've devised has its complications," he began. "Just imagine two gigantic drilling machines," he pulled out a map of the asteroid and placed it on the long, narrow table where they were all seated. "Now position those two machines carefully," he took out a red marking pen, and drew two lines across the map, dividing the asteroid into thirds. "If we draw these imaginary lines to divide the asteroid evenly into three zones, zone X, zone Y, and zone Z, we could place one of the giant drills at the north end of the asteroid, zone Z, and the other one at the southern end of it, zone X. Now the idea here is for each machine to drill to at least 1000 feet. Once that's done, there will obviously be two gigantic holes in the ground. From then we would need to drop two nuclear bombs in each hole that we've dug, and set them both off. From the inside-out, the radius of each nuclear warhead should cover the radius of about a hundred miles, which will definitely be enough to disintegrate most of the asteroid and it'll all be over. Zone Y, the one in the middle, will be engulfed by the radius of both nuclear explosions, disintegrating it into nothing. Meanwhile, zones X and Z should split apart and be redirected into opposite directions, neither of which will hit earth. But remember, the key thing is to make this thing implode from the inside, otherwise it won't work."
Several moments passed as the shocked faces seemed frozen, staring at the astronomer as if he had just given a hero's speech. Commander Norquist then commented, "that's brilliant! That will work for sure! Good work, Hayes."
"Wait a minute," one of the President's scientific advisors was quick to object. "Since you're proposing that we drill through this thing, the surface is made of elements stronger than anything we have here on earth, and is literally unbreakable. How in the world are we going to drill through this thing if we can't put a scratch on it?"
"We're still working on that," Dr. Hayes said regretfully. "But we do have the blueprints for the machines we intend to send up there." He took the map of the asteroid off the table and rolled it up, then placed a second, smaller sheet of paper showing the design of the machine he intended to have built, "think about the most powerful mobile fighting machine you've ever seen in your lives... a Power Ranger's zord. We've seen those things in action, and they are remarkable. We don't need for it to be too big, but we do intend to construct two identical zords powerful enough to penetrate the skin of this giant rock. Tracing these blueprints were what took up most of our time over in the Navigations Control Room. As you can see, the two zords will be covered with protective layers of titanium, each with a massive base for leverage and a stainless steel drill head that we would need to have rotating at least 100 miles per hour to build up enough drill speed to crack the asteroid."
The Commander shook his head, "Hubert, these plans for making a zord only show what the outer layer is going to look like. Also, this machine you're proposing to have built is so complex that no group of technicians in the world could put this thing together in less than 4 weeks. I mean, just look at it. You could have every technician in the world working on this and it would still be literally impossible to get it done on time. Only a Power Ranger would be familiar with these plans you've designed."
"Well, we've been making some calls," Dr. Hayes said. "We've contacted certain people here on earth, and have even asked for help from our neighboring planets such as Aquitar and Triforia. Each time the same name is recommended. He's worked on machines such as this one before. In fact, the Aquitian Rangers tell us that this boy was indeed a Ranger himself at one time in his life."
"Who is he?" the Commander asked anxiously.
"Billy Cranston," replied Dr. Hayes. "He's familiar with machines such as this, and he's even created some space age tools he keeps in his garage at home to make his work more efficient. He's only 20 years old, but research shows that the boy has a 201 I.Q. score."
"Perfect," complimented Commander Norquist. "Have him brought in from Aquitar immediately."
"I'm not so sure about this," the President objected. "So he's smart, fine with me. But just because the boy says he was a former Power Ranger doesn't mean we have to believe him, you do a few hours of research and suddenly we're letting him in on a top secret plan that no one else in the world knows about? I don't like this."
"Mr. President," Dr. Hayes said. "With all due respect, the Aquitian Rangers have known him for years, and they don't lie to us. If they say he was a former Ranger, then he's a former Ranger. If they say he can do the job, then he can."
A small Aquitian shuttle soared through the galaxy with incredible speed. Cestro sat in the pilot's seat steering his way towards earth, with Billy sitting next to him. "I just don't get it," Billy said to Cestro. "What could Nasada want with me?" he hadn't changed much since the day he left earth. He was still the same blond haired boy with gold rimmed glasses and a moderate muscle build under his shirt.
"Whatever it is, I'm sure it's important," Cestro assured him. "Now hold on, we're heading into the earth's atmosphere." Cestro guided the ship through the clouds until they could see the ocean and some land in the distance. This was the first time that Billy had come back to earth since his departure.
"Dang, I sure missed this place," Billy pointed out. "I was beginning to get homesick." The ship came shooting down from the sky until they were just a few hundred feet above a desert in Angel Grove. "Hey, this is where the Power Chamber's located. Cestro, steer that way will ya? I wanna see if it's still there before we head to town." Cestro did as he was told. Little did they know that the Power Chamber was destroyed from the Piranhatron attack that Divatox perpetrated. The day that Dark Spectre was destroyed and Astronema turned good had passed just a few months ago. And with the death of Zordon and all evil in the universe wiped out, so were the Aquitian Rangers' powers. Without evil in the universe, there was no reason to fight any longer. Billy continued to ponder why Nasada had called for his help. As they steered in the direction where the Power Chamber was supposed to be located, Billy was shocked to see nothing but pieces of rock laying on the ground. As the small shuttle touched down, Billy jumped out the door and ran towards the pieces of the old and long forgotten Power Chamber. "What happened here?" he exclaimed.
"It was obviously destroyed, Billy," Cestro said at last. "It looks dead and rotten now, so it was probably attacked a long time ago."
"It, it can't be," Billy had never heard anything about the Power Chamber being destroyed. He stood there speechless, as if in mourning, questions in his mind that no one could answer.
"Billy," Cestro placed a hand on his shoulder. "We've got to go. The Space Center is waiting for you."
Billy took several moments before responding. As he stood there, he thought he saw a slight glow from the corner of his eye. He looked up, and headed in the direction of what he saw. As he came closer, he was positive that there was a shimmering light from under a rock. _Can it be?_ he thought to himself. He turned the rock over, and was startled to see the fully charged Zeo crystal still in tact. Cestro stared in awe as Billy picked up the large crystal with both hands. "I don't believe this," Billy said gleefully. "It must have been here all this time. Here, Cestro, since you and the Aquitian Rangers don't have your powers anymore, maybe you should take it to Aquitar with you."
"No, Billy," Cestro refused. "You may be the one that needs it. When word got around that Zordon's good energy spread all throughout the universe, it took all violent forces, both good and evil, our enemies, and our powers, were all lost. Without villains there isn't a need for fighting. Aquitar lives in peace now, free from threat. That crystal is the only thing in this universe that was probably too powerful to be destroyed. You keep it, and share it with your friends. After all, it was yours to begin with. Now, if you don't mind, we had better go now."
"Right," Billy answered. He stepped back into the small, egg-shaped shuttle and they headed towards the Nasada Space Center.
A while later...
"I don't believe this. It... it's outrageous," Billy stared in awe at the faces around him in Nasada's briefing room. Commander Norquist had just given him a full explanation about the asteroid.
"Well, it's for real, so you'd better believe it," the Commander said in response.
"It's all so... sudden," Billy took a long look at the large photos of the asteroid suspended on one of the walls. "But sir," he looked towards Commander Norquist. "I still don't understand what you called me here for."
The Commander took a deep breath before answering. "Billy, we've heard of your work. We've learned from your friends that you are a former Power Ranger, familiar with advanced technology." The Commander pulled out the giant poster paper containing the blueprints for the giant zord they had intended to construct, and laid it flat on the long table. "These are the designs for a Power Rangers drilling zord. It's job is to get onto the asteroid and drill a deep hole into it's surface. Once that's done, we'll drop some nuclear warheads and head back to earth. Your job Billy, is to assemble this zord. You will be in charge of monitoring the construction. Some of the best technicians are being flown into this space station right now to do the dirty work for you. We've got the parts, now all we need is your expertise."
Several moments passed with Billy slouched into his seat, appearing to be in deep thought. Finally, the President intervened. "Billy, we have less than four weeks till impact. All we're asking is... will you help us? Will you make this zord and make this mission possible to save mankind?"
Billy stood to his feet and stared at the faces around him. All eyes were on him. "Yeah, I'll help." He positioned himself at the head of the table, and pulled the blueprints of the drilling zord towards him. "However, there are a few things that aren't right about this zord. Some parts are going to have to go. Firstly, this drill head you have mounted on it is going to have to be a lot bigger if you want to generate more power. Also, we're going to have to add more wheels to its base, and widen it's structure a bit so it can build more force while it's drilling. Also¾"
"Alright, alright Billy, we get the point," the Commander said curtly. "Make whatever adjustments you need. You're in charge of it.
"Hold on a second," the President said. "Who's going to pilot that zord? And, more importantly, how do you intend to get this zord onto the asteroid?"
Commander Norquist sighed, "in a space shuttle, Mr. President."
Several of the President's advisors looked at one another strangely, conversing quietly amongst themselves, as if disapproving. Suddenly, the President spoke again: "You can't be serious, Commander. Let me make this clear to you. It doesn't matter whether or not you've thought up a master plan. But NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE is crazy enough to fly a shuttle up onto that asteroid and dig two holes each a thousand feet deep."
"Trying to survive such a mission is hopeless," one of the President's advisors spoke up. "Once the shuttle is within a hundred miles of the asteroid, swarms of meteors and debris will be everywhere. The shuttle would crash before it even made it onto the asteroid. It's a losing battle."
"I don't think so," one of the astronomers in the room interrupted. "The ship will be traveling fast enough to avoid the debris, land safely, dig those holes and plant those bombs. It's not as difficult as we all want to make it."
Captain Floyd then put in his thoughts: "A ship can't break through clouds and clouds of meteors without being hit at least once before making it onto the asteroid. We'd have to send pilots, drivers for the zord, and possibly other specialists to monitor the mission and see that it's done, and then someone else to plant those bombs and detonate them. We'd be risking the lives of far too many men. One big hit on that shuttle and the mission's history. It's too risky an idea."
"Listen!" the Commander halted the debate. "We are in the process of finding the BEST men for this job. In fact, we are sending two shuttles up onto that rock, not just one. Our mechanics are busy preparing the two strongest, fastest space shuttles in the history of mankind. Those shuttles will serve as the transports for the zords and its crew members. Both are bigger and stronger than anything you've ever seen, coated with layers of liquid metal, a compound stronger than titanium. The shuttles will break through the debris with some talented piloting. And speaking of pilots, our scientists are currently making calls and scanning the globe for the best men for the job. As for the two zords we are building, we'll find the *RIGHT* men for the job. The mission *will* go through, love it or hate it. We will have ONE chance to save this planet. Risking the lives of several men is not a concern to me, because if we don't try, we all die anyway. Now, take it or leave it." With that remark, the Commander walked out of the room and headed for the Navigations Control Room.
Several moments passed as Billy sat, quietly thinking to himself, _the RIGHT men for the job, huh?_
"It... it's so unfair," Kat said. "Why does he have to do this to me?"
"Don't cry, Kat," Tommy kissed her on the forehead. They were seated on a couch in Tommy's living room. "Remember, it's our child. You made the right decision. Now, let's think up of a name for him."
Katherine wiped the tears from her eyes and stared up into Tommy's face, "how about Thomas? We'll name him right after you."
"Thomas..." Tommy pondered. "I like it. We'll call him that."
Hours later... Nasada Space Center...
Billy stood in a giant garage on the ground floor of the Nasada Space Center, with a group of thirty technicians and mechanics seated in front of him. Billy wore a white Nasada blazer to indicate he was a part of the staff, at least temporarily. In one hand he held the blueprints for two zords. In his other hand, he clutched, the shiny, fully charged Zeo Crystal. _Damn, I knew this thing would come in handy sooner or later_ "Alright team, we've got a lot of work ahead of us. These robots are gonna be built big. The exact dimensions for each one are 65 (length) by 27 (width) by 30 (height). I know how I want this built right down to ever last square centimeter. We're going to make sure they're strong, and then we're going to test them several times before telling the Commander that they're ready. The zords will draw their strength from this crystal in my hand. Now everybody get to your positions, work hard, and let's get this job done." With his commands, the crew pieced together piles and piles of metal and slowly putting the zord together.
Billy sat down and viewed the construction, thinking to himself, _This asteroid gives me butterflies in my stomach. But now, who's going to pilot the zords? Who's gonna fly those ships up onto the asteroid? I just hope Nasada's not in over their heads about this thing. They picked me, out of billions of people on earth to put this zord together. I'm so nervous right now I could faint_
Elsewhere in Nasada...
Commander Norquist walked through the corridors of Nasada's top floor, and entered the Navigations Control room. He stared around the room at the hundreds of television monitors all showing progress throughout the space center. Hundreds of men were working in the Navigations room, some studying the structure of the asteroid, others making phone calls, others doing work on pen and paper. As the Commander stared around the room, Captain Floyd approached him with a cross look on his face.
"Commander, I've been speaking with the President and some of our colleagues," the Captain said. "Time is running out on us. Though your men are constructing zords and space shuttles right now, we need a group of men that are crazy enough to do this damned task of yours. Now where have you been?"
"I've been making calls, Captain," the Commander retorted coldly. "You said we need someone crazy, well I'll show you crazy. I spoke with some members of the United Nations head department, in search of pilots for the shuttles, and they've found a man for the job."
"His name is Major Jack Hillard," announced Commander Norquist. "An old acquaintance of mine. He used to be one of the world's best air force pilots. He even flew a shuttle for us one time on a minor satellite mission in 1993."
"USED to be one of the best?" the Captain did not sound convinced. "How old is this guy, eighty?"
"Forty-five," answered Norquist.
"How come I've never heard of him?"
"Because he was a pilot for the Australian Air Force," responded the Commander. "You're American."
"Hmm... well have you had a chance to speak with him yet regarding this?"
"No," said Commander Norquist. "Someone is going to have to the north side of Angel Grove and locate him. He's not taking any calls from his office right now for some reason, and we'd rather ask him in person."
"I'll be sure to let the President know." With that remark, Captain Floyd walked away. Seconds later, the Navigations room broke into complete chaos. Men were running around every which way, and soon, all the monitors in the room switched to photos taken of a group of small meteors coming from space.
"Sir!" one of Nasada's astronomers came dashing up to the Commander. "We've picked up a meteor shower! It's headed for downtown Angel Grove!"
"Dear God!" exclaimed the Commander. "Alert the press and make sure everyone evacuates that part of town!"
Downtown Angel Grove...
Ann Hillard strolled down the sidewalk and went through the entrance to a supermarket. It was Sunday, her usual shopping day. However, she hadn't been able to sleep well ever since Kat had her baby and Jack being upset all the time. She loved both of them, and just wanted them to be a family again. She sighed to herself, _I wish they could get along_ Continuing with her shopping, she strolled a shopping cart down a few aisleways, picking up food for dinner later on. Suddenly, she heard and explosion coming from outside. Several voices screamed in agony.
"What on earth was that!?" shouted a male shopper.
Mrs. Hillard resumed her shopping casually, with too much on her mind to worry about other things. As she grabbed her last few items, she lined up at the checkout counter, paying for the products she had bought. Minutes later, she exited the supermarket carrying a bag of groceries in each hand. To her surprise, when she stepped outside, she realized that a small meteor had landed in the middle of the street, and several cars were honking their horns as the meteor had created a small fire, resulting in a traffic jam. People were running about, wondering what had happened. An ambulance stopped by to tend to the victims in a small car that had been crushed by the meteor.
"LOOK OUT!!!" a bystander shrieked as he pointed into the sky. A swarm of meteors was on its way...
...the meteor shower came in full force. People ran as quickly as they could to find safety, but none could. The meteor shower crushed several small buildings, and knocked skyscrapers over. Explosions occurred in every direction, people being blown away by the force of each rock. Ann Hillard dashed as quickly as she could to her car, not knowing what could happen next. She saw people being killed and cars flipping over in the middle of the streets. As she ran, she tripped over a large crack on the sidewalk, just several meters away from her car. Dropping her grocery bags, she quickly tried to squabble to her feet, but as she looked up into the sky, a meteor came crashing down in front of her...
...her life flashed right before her eyes. The force of the meteor landing hurled Mrs. Hillard several feet into the air... a stroke of death...
...her body crashed through a window in a building behind her. Kat's mother lay motionless on the ground, her life slipping away as she closed her eyes one final time...
Forty-five minutes later...
Sitting in Tommy's living room, Katherine held the tv remote controller in her hands, flipping through channels, with her baby sleeping in her lap Tommy was in the shower. He had been living alone ever since he made his living working at the Martial Arts Institute. Kat caught a glimpse of the channel 6 news report and decided to see what was happening in the world. A concerned look crossed Kat's face as she saw the setting of the news report to be somewhere in Angel Grove, with flames smothering the background, the entire scenery was that of destruction. A news reporter stood at the front of the screen, with the channel 6 news logo on the bottom left hand corner of the view.
"Hello everyone, this is Andrea Burns reporting live from downtown Angel Grove," the reporter announced. "Just minutes ago, an unexpected meteor shower hit this part of town, causing the massive amounts of destruction you see around me."
"Oh my goodness," Katherine muttered. "Mum..."
"An estimated 1,200 people were killed today," the reporter said, "while several hundred are severely injured."
Tommy came out of the shower room, his hair still wet and a towel wrapped around his waist. "Hey Kat, what are you watching?" Tommy looked concerned as Kat didn't answer.
"Mum..." she said softly. "No..."
"Since the meteor shower came out of nowhere," the reporter continued, "the Mayor of Angel Grove has tried to come into contact with Nasada Space Center with questions regarding the situation. However, security officers barricaded all Nasada entrances, and all the Nasada workers that we did manage to contact said they knew nothing regarding what just happened." A clip showed of hundreds and hundreds of reporters and news cameramen surrounding the entrance of Nasada Space Center, all trying to push their way through the wall of security guards blocking their way.
"My God," Tommy muttered. "This is horrible. I wonder how this all could have happened."
"My... my mum was there shopping," Kat said under her breath. "She.. she always goes on Sundays."
"Oh no, Kat," Tommy sat down and put an arm around her and their baby.
"Rumor has it that the President has been seen at Nasada Space Center," continued the reporter on the screen. "This could explain his absence from the White House lately. But with no answers to our questions, we are all keeping a keen eye out for what might happen next."
Angel Grove Hospital...
As a doctor unraveled a sheet covering the dead body of Ann Hillard, her husband grunted in disbelief, shuddering and falling to his knees. "Th... that's... her..." he barely managed to say. The doctor watched as Major Jack Hillard inched towards his deceased wife, not knowing what to do or what to say. Finally, he buried his face in his hands as a tear rolled down the left side of his face, grinding his teeth together, as if trying to fight the inner pain. "Wh... why?" he muttered under his breath. "Why... WHY!? Why damnit! Why!!!" he began to shout. Several minutes passed before the doctors covered up the dead body.
Nasada Space Center, 3 days later...
With the Zeo Crystal in his right hand, Billy lead Commander Norquist, the President, and company down the elevators and through the corridors until they arrived in the giant garage on the ground floor of the Nasada Space Center. In the center of the large room, technicians surrounded a pair of massive machines. "Gentlemen, may I present to you... the MEGA PREDATORS," Billy gestured to the twin zords. Each zord was designed the exact size that Billy had specified, each with tremendous width, like monsters. The zords each were designed each with 16 wheels (eight on each side), painted black and gray. Each had titanium drill heads on the zords' fronts, and a large, convex windshield. Inside the cockpits, they could see that each was good for seating 3 pilots. Each had large horns at the head, like a bull, and massive bumpers at the front to protect the zord. The men stood watching in awe as the technicians polished the drill heads of each zord to add finishing touches. "So, what do you think?" asked Billy with a smile.
Commander Norquist walked around one of the zords, speechless, checking out every square inch of it. "They're amazing, Billy," he commented.
"Let's hope they work as well as they look," Captain Floyd said as if not assured.
"They're powered by the Zeo Crystal," Billy said, holding up the crystal, the colored glows of red, blue, green, pink and yellow shining from it. "This crystal has never let us down before."
"Well, I'm going to stay optimistic and hope that this thing does the job up there," the President commented. "Impressive work, Billy, but we only have three weeks left before this asteroid hits us, and we still need a crew for the job." The President then shot a look at Commander Norquist, as if to be an indication of some sort. Norquist stood forward and took a deep breath.
"Billy," the Commander said his name nervously.
"While you were here finishing the construction of these zords," the Commander's voice was shaking, "we've been upstairs in a meeting, deciding on who is good enough to do the job on the asteroid."
Commander Norquist took another deep breath before speaking again, "the two shuttles we're sending up are almost ready. We've found men that we will soon ask to pilot those shuttles, but we still need some drillers up there. Billy, you've done a lot for us, and we can't thank you enough. But as of right now, you're the only one who's familiar with the functions of these zords. As far as we're concerned, there's no better man for the job... than you."
Billy look confused, although he felt he knew what the Commander was asking. "Wh... what are you saying?"
"Billy, you've been chosen by us to save the world," Commander Norquist announced.
"Me? But, sir, I..." Billy's voice trailed off.
"As a former Power Ranger, we feel we can put our trust in you," the President said to encourage him.
"But... you just asked me to design these things," Billy said gesturing towards the zords behind him. "I mean... this came out of nowhere. I don't know anything about space travel, I can't space walk, I know nothing about being an astronaut."
Billy turned around and wiped the sweat from his forehead. The Commander walked over towards him and put a hand on his shoulder, "Billy, all you have to do is help drill."
"I... I'm not sure," Billy said under his breath.
"Billy," the Commander felt as if he needed to convince him. "We need eight men to do the drilling, six zord pilots and two repairmen. Four men will be on each shuttle. Each Mega Predator can hold three pilots. The repairmen are in charge of monitoring the mission, repairing any damages done to the zord done during the drilling, and replacing the drill head if it is damaged. You'll be one of those two men. We'll teach you everything you need to know about space travel in the time that we have. You're the best man for the job, no doubt about it. We need you to prepare the other seven men and teach them how to use these zords. They will be skilled astronauts that have trained for years, so you'll have nothing to worry about."
Billy stood in thought for several seconds before answering. Finally, he made his decision. "The only reason I'm the best is because I was a part of the best," he turned around and stared at the anxious faces awaiting his answer. "I was a Power Ranger, a defender of the world. The Power Rangers were a team... a team that I haven't seen for over two years. However, if I do this, I can't just take any seven men into the biggest battle in the history of mankind and expect to do a good job. I'll go only if I can take my own men up there."
The President was quick to object, "Commander, I think we need to talk about this."
The Commander shook his head. "No, Mr. President. Billy's right. Let him take who he wants."
"Wait a minute," Captain Floyd stepped forward. "Having Billy trained as an astronaut and sending him up there is enough work. But to send eight guys who don't know jack about space travel would be a horrible idea. Firstly, this thing will have giant craters everywhere, unexpected meteor showers, boiling temperatures in the sunlight, and freezing temperatures in the shade. Some of them are sure to freak out on the asteroid."
Billy sighed, "Captain, these men are the best at what they do... or at least what they used to do, and that was saving the world. They know how to pilot a zord, which makes our jobs much easier. All I'll have to do is train a second repairman, and our job will be finished."
"That's fine," the Commander said, as the President and his men all gave Commander Norquist strange stares. "Have you decided which men you want to take?"
"There have been many rangers in history," Billy said. "I'll need a little time to decide which seven I believe are the best."
"You got it, Billy," the Commander smiled. "So you'll do it?"
"Alright then," the Commander turned around, followed by his men, and headed back towards the elevator.
Following the Commander closely behind was the President. "Commander, I don't know about this."
"My decision is final," Norquist was beginning to get tired of the President's pessimism. "Billy knows which rangers he needs. Now we need to find some shuttle pilots. Captain Floyd, I need you to come with me to the north side of Angel Grove. I know a former air force pilot that I'd like to speak to in person."
Hours later, at a graveyard in northern Angel Grove...
Around eighty people showed up for the funeral of Ann Margaret Hillard. The funeral was just coming to a close. Mrs. Hillard's body lay in a casket in front of the audience, the casket being wide open for family and friends to say goodbye one last time. Major Hillard sat in the front row of the audience, with his head bowed low, saying prayers. Kat and Tommy sat in the back, away from Kat's father. The former Pink Ranger was extremely saddened by her mother's death. She knew she'd be in mourning for a long time. "I think my dad had this funeral too quickly. My mum's only been gone for four days," she said somewhat bitterly.
"I wouldn't be upset, Kat," Tommy said softly. He didn't want to speak too loudly, for their baby was laying asleep in his arms. "Look, Kat, you and your father have been angry at one another ever since you became pregnant. If your mom were still around, I'm sure she would want things to be settled between the two of you. You need to come clean with one another. It's for the best."
"I dunno..." Kat felt as though Tommy was right, yet she wasn't sure whether or not she was ready to forgive her father for causing her so much pain. Moments later, as people were leaving the scene, Major Hillard slowly walked up and stood beside his wife's open casket.
"Go talk to him," Tommy said to his girlfriend. "You've got to sometime."
"I suppose so," Katherine stood up and walked towards the casket. She hesitated for a moment, then walked up and stood right next to her father.
Major Hillard noticed his daughter from the corner of his eye, but waited several moments before saying anything, though he didn't know what to say and just began the conversation casually: "So... how'd you find out about all this?"
Without looking at him, Kat answered, "the news."
Several seconds passed before they conversed again. By now Tommy had gotten up, still holding the baby, and stood about twenty feet behind them, letting them work out their problems. Finally, the Major spoke up again, "you mother wanted everything to be right between us."
"Listen, Kat," Jack Hillard turned to face his daughter. "In the past nine or ten months, I realize we haven't spent any time together. Now we've both suffered a great loss. I... well, um, if you don't mind, maybe... could we just have a while to ourselves? Just to talk and perhaps work things out the way your mother would have wanted."
Kat smiled, and faced her father. "I suppose so." Kat reached out and hugged her father, something she hadn't done for months. At least she knew he was still a good man, despite recent hardships they had faced. "I just want us to be a family again."
"Me too," the Major replied.
No one noticed a suspicious looking limousine parked across the street from the graveyard. Commander Norquist, Captain Floyd, and several White House officials sat in the two back rows of the long vehicle. The Commander stared out the window. "That's him, Captain. A member of the United Nations, and former air force commando, Jack Hillard."
"Then what are we waiting for?" the Captain said sarcastically. "We need this guy. Let's go." The group of men stepped out of the limousine and approached the entrance of the graveyard, where they waited. Kat walked out with her father, with Tommy closely behind. They stopped when they saw the group of men dressed in black suits standing to the side of the entrance. The Captain approached Kat's father. "Are you Major Jack Hillard?"
"Yes, I am."
The Captain saluted the higher ranked military officer before continuing. "I'm Captain Floyd of the U.S. military. I've been sent here by direct orders from the President. This regards top secret news, so we need you to come with us, no questions asked please."
"Captain," Major Hillard looked upset. "This really isn't a good time. My wife was just killed by an unexpected meteor shower, and I'd really like to spend some time with my daughter right now."
Commander Norquist stepped forward, "we're aware of that, Major."
"Commander Norquist," Jack shook hands with him. "Long time no see. Speaking of which, where have you been hiding? The mayor's officials have been trying to contact Nasada Space Center for days now. Are you hiding something from us?"
"Jack, we have a complete explanation on why your wife died, and where that meteor storm came from," the Commander said.
"Tell us how mum died," Kat asked anxiously.
"You'll know soon enough," the Commander answered the young daughter of the Major. "Jack, I need you to come with us to the Space Center right now. We'll tell you everything."
"Wait a second," the Major interrupted. "If you have an explanation, then I believe my daughter deserves to know what happened. She just lost her mother. If I go with you, let me take her with me."
Tommy knew Kat was having doubts. "Go ahead," he whispered to her. "I'll take care of the baby."
"Alright. Thanks, Tommy," she answered. Captain Floyd motioned towards the Hillard family to step into the limo.
30 minutes later...
The black limousine pulled up at the entrance of Nasada Space Center. "Come right this way," the Commander stepped out of the limousine and escorted Kat and her father into the bottom floor of the space center. They stepped into the elevator and headed to the third floor, where the usual meeting room was. The Commander sighed, for he had been in and out of that meeting room perhaps a hundred times since the asteroid crisis first arose. As they walked in, Kat noticed a familiar face standing at the side of the table. It took her a second or two before realizing it was Billy.
"Katherine?" Billy was surprised to see his friend.
"Billy!" she ran over and the two friends hugged one another. "It's been so long since I've last seen you. How was Aquitar? And what are you doing here?"
"That's what we're about to explain," the former Blue Ranger responded. The group of men seated themselves, leaving two seats at one end of the table for Kat and her dad. At the other end sat the President, and Commander Norquist stood behind him.
"Welcome, Major Hillard," greeted the President.
"The President," Jack Hillard was surprised. "So this is where you've been this past week. So, why don't one of you tell us why we're here. I'm all ears."
The door to the meeting room was shut before the President began, "we have urgent news to bring you, Major. We've heard of your work down in Australia, and we know you were quite a military man. The United Nations gave us a file of your accomplishments, and we're impressed with what you've done in the past. So here's the story..."
An hour later...
Several photos of the asteroid and the blueprints of the Mega Predator were laid down on the long table where everyone was seated around. "So, that explains how your wife was killed," said Commander Norquist.
"The asteroid is heading for us at thirty thousand miles per hour," Dr. Hubert Hayes added. "So when it went through the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars, it knocked several millions of little meteors out of orbit and towards our direction, meaning that a meteor shower could strike us at any time."
Kat shuddered in disbelief, and stared over at Billy, who had an expressionless look. Major Hillard then spoke up, "I see. This is quite a crisis. Now you've told me that a Power Rangers' zord needs to be operated on the asteroid, and I know you didn't bring me here just to tell me how my wife died. So I'll ask again, what do you want from me?"
The stressed out Commander Norquist sighed, feeling that he'd have to do the nervous task of asking another man to risk his life. "The zords need a way to get up there."
_Zords?_ Kat thought to herself. _How on earth were they able to make zords? Where did they get these blueprints? Billy didn't tell them he was a ranger, did he?_
"Tell me more," Major Hillard said.
"We're sending two shuttles up onto the asteroid," explained Norquist. "The two shuttles will be called the Patriot and the Avenger. Each shuttle needs a pilot and a co-pilot. We have three skilled American air force commandos that we've drafted for this task, and we need a fourth. Since you're not an American citizen, Major Hillard, you couldn't be drafted. As a result, you're here because we'd like to ask you to be the main pilot for the Avenger shuttle. You've trained with us before, so we figured we could count on you."
"I..." Major Hillard sat in dilemma. "My daughter just lost her mother. This... this is terrifying, all this garbage about some asteroid. I'm not prepared to have Katherine lose another parent, I just¾"
"Wait," Kat interrupted. "Dad, they've chosen you because you're a great air force pilot."
"Katherine, honey, please stay out of this," her father said politely.
"Dad," Kat ignored his command. "If you don't do this, they'll have to choose someone else, and you'll be regretting this for the rest of your life. You could be a hero. I trust that can do this."
"Are you sure?" the Major seemed concerned.
"Yes. I have faith in you, dad," Kat smiled.
"Alright then. I... I'll do it," Major Hillard said, somewhat hesitant.
Billy adjusted his glasses and cleared his throat. "Kat, I've revealed my former Blue Ranger identity to the men around us."
"What? Why, Billy?"
"Because they need our help," Billy answered. "There's no time to explain. But there's something we need to tell them about you." All eyes were focused on Billy. "Kat was the former Pink Ranger."
"What!?" Major Hillard stood to his feet. "Is this true Kat? Why didn't you tell me?"
"It's a very long story," she answered, then turned to face her friend, "Billy, why are you doing this?" Kat wondered.
"Because we were the ones that saved the world for years," Billy said to appease her. "The reason a Power Ranger's zord is being sent up there is because it's the only thing powerful enough to carry out the job we're handling. We take the Mega Predators, dig two giant holes on the asteroid's surface, drop some bombs and we go. I need some former rangers to operate these zords. I'll be up there, so I want some of our friends, particularly Tommy to come and be the main driver for one of the Mega Predators."
"Well, this saves us a lot of time," the President said. "So, Ms. Hillard, what do you say? Perhaps you'd like to join your friends and your father on the mission?
"No!" Major Hillard shouted so loud that everyone in the room was silenced. "I don't care what anyone says. My daughter is NOT coming on this voyage!"
"But dad, they need me."
Major Hillard grabbed his daughter by the shoulders, and looked her right in the eyes. _So Tommy was a ranger too?_ "Kat, if they intend to ask Tommy, then someone has to take care of the baby."
"Don't worry, dad. Me, Tommy, Billy and the others are a great team."
"That's not the point," Major Hillard had to make sure he could convince his daughter. "Katherine, I know now's not the time to tell you this, but the reason I've been so protective of you is because, when I grew up, I had no parents. I never knew my father, and my mother left me when I was young. I was raised as an orphan. I know I should have told you this before, and I'm telling you now. If anything happens to me or Tommy, I don't want your baby to be left alone. Kat, stay here on earth. Think of the baby... think of the baby..."
"I guess your father's right, Kat," Billy added. "Forget about it, Kat. I'll ask the other rangers."
Kat sighed, but understood what she had to do was for the best, "alright. I understand. I'll stay."
Later that night...
Commander Norquist led Major Hillard down to the basement floor in a separate building in the Nasada Space Center. "This is the astronaut training facility," the Commander explained. As they entered the entrance, they were greeted by three men wearing large white space suits. One of them removed his helmet, and greeted the Commander. The Commander then made formal introductions. "Major Hillard, these are your fellow pilots. Firstly, Lieutenant Briggs will be the main pilot of the Patriot shuttle." Lt. Briggs was a tall, bald African American man, around 6 feet 6 inches tall with a moderate muscle build, who looked to be in his late thirties. "Sergeant Jackson will be his co-pilot." The Sergeant shook hands with Major Hillard. "And finally, your co-pilot for the Avenger, Corporal Craven." The Corporal was a thin man in his late twenties, with a crew cut and a black goatee.
"So we'll be flying together," the Corporal smiled and saluted the Major.
"I guess so," Major Hillard replied. "It's nice to meet all of you.
Back at the meeting room in Nasada's main building, Billy was left with Kat and a few other officials seated in the room. Dr. Hubert Hayes removed his glasses before speaking, "alright, so you two are assigned the task of choosing the men for this voyage."
"We're going to need the best rangers we can get. Kat, we're going to need Tommy the most," said Billy. "He was our leader for a long time, and he knows the most about handling a zord. He'll be the main driver for one of the Mega Predators, as I said earlier."
"Okay," she responded. "We could get Jason to be the driver for the other one. I'm sure he'd be good."
"He sure would," Billy commented. "Now we're going to need four other assistant drivers. Rocky and Adam would be good. Aisha's in Africa, and there's no way we can contact her, so I guess she's out of the picture. I wrote a letter to Trini one time, but never got a response. I guess she moved. I suppose we could get the original Black Ranger, Zack. I saw him on the news one time, so I assume he's still in Switzerland. Now we still need one more person."
"How about Tanya?" suggested Kat.
"Perfect," Billy complimented. "Now comes the biggest problem. Every time a zord has been damaged in the past, I've been able to repair it. I'm going to need a technician that's familiar with zord functions and the proper tools required to fix them on the asteroid."
"Let's ask Justin," Kat suggested, although she had some doubtful thoughts, since Justin was just a kid.
"Who?" Billy was confused.
"Justin Stewart, the third Blue Ranger," Kat explained. "He's only fourteen years old, but he's a genius, just like you, Billy. He's just as familiar with handling machinery as you are."
"Alright then," Billy said. "So we know who we want. Captain Floyd, we'll jot those names down for you again, and we'll give you their locations so you know where to look. Bring these former Power Rangers here as soon as you can."
Angel Grove Martial Arts Institute...
"Good work, everyone. Class dismissed," Jason complimented his young students. To the left of Jason was Rocky, and to the right of Jason was Adam. The three had just finished a class together and were prepared to leave. The young students bowed to their three instructors before packing their bags and leaving. Seconds later, Captain Floyd appeared along with 3 other men dressed in black suits. As Jason walked over to a bench to pick up a towel, Captain Floyd approached him.
"Are you Jason Lee Scott?" the Captain asked.
"I need to have a word with you, and two friends of yours that go by the names Adam Park and Rocky DeSantos," the Captain said.
Rocky and Adam walked up to the Captain, "um... are we in trouble?" Rocky half-joked.
"No, just come with us," the Captain demanded. "It is a matter of urgency."
Somewhere in Northern California...
Tanya Sloan entered her room in dormitory 5. University was stressing for her, but she knew it was worthwhile. Removing her coat, she took out some textbooks and began studying. Moments later, she heard a rapping on her doorstep. As she opened the door, she was surprised to see a pair of men dressed in black suits standing in front of her.
"Tanya Sloan?" asked one of the men.
"Yeah, that's me. Is something wrong?" she looked concerned.
One of the men pulled out a badge, "FBI. We need you to come with us."
As Zack Taylor stepped out of the office building he had been working in for the past 3 years, he was stopped by several FBI agents.
"Hold it right there," one of the FBI agents called.
"Whoa... take it easy," Zack stopped dead in his tracks. "What's this all about?"
"Zack Anthony Taylor?" one of the agents questioned.
Zack was puzzled. "Yeah. Do I um... know you?"
"Come with us."
"Justin!" Mr. Stewart hollered. "Some men want to see you."
"Coming!" the 14-year old former Blue Ranger hustled down the stairs and made his way to the front door, where two FBI agents stood. _What the heck?_ he thought to himself. It was only a matter of moments before he had to leave with them.
Tommy had been living by himself almost a year now. At age twenty, he was old enough to be out of his parents' care and out on his own. His parents had died two years ago in a severe car accident, just after his graduation, a tragedy that he knew he would never get over. _I wonder where those strange men could have taken Kat. She would have called by now_ Little Thomas was resting in his father's arms, sleeping. There was a knocking on the door a few seconds later...
Several black limousines pulled up in front of the entrance to Nasada. Tommy stepped out of the door of the first limousine, and looked around. Soon, the other limousines' doors opened, and he was happy to see some of his friends. "Hey Jase, hey Rocky, hey Adam. Do any of you have a clue why we're here?"
"No idea," Rocky looked at his surroundings, "maybe they'll ask us to walk around in space suits," he joked, not realizing the irony of what he had just said.
Zack stepped out of the limousine and was happy with what he saw. "Hey Tommy! Jason!" He walked over and exchanged hi-fives with Jason. "Good to see you bro!"
Justin then stepped out, greeted by Tanya. "Hi Justin, how've you been doing?"
"I've been great," the boy exclaimed. "My dad just got remarried, and my new mom is going to have a baby soon! It's just... why are we here?"
"I think that's what everyone else is trying to figure out," Tanya replied, looking around to see more of her friends.
Commander Norquist stepped out of the front entrance of the space center. "Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am Gerald Norquist, Supreme Commander here at Nasada. Nice to see you all here, and hello again, Justin. I believe we've met before."
"We sure have," Justin replied.
"An old friend of yours has summoned you all here," announced the Commander.
Billy then stepped out to greet his friends. Kat stepped out from behind him. She quickly ran over and hugged Tommy, who was still holding their baby, then gently took the baby into her arms. Billy stepped forward in front of his friends before speaking. "Hey everyone. It's been a while since I've seen you all."
"Tell me about it," Rocky said sarcastically. "But it's sure good to see you again."
"Thanks. But there's a reason I've brought you all here," said Billy. "Come, follow me inside, I'll explain everything." As he walked inside, his friends followed closely. Billy led them into the usual meeting room where he and all the Nasada officials had been meeting. The President greeted each ranger on their way in. Billy kindly asked everyone else to leave the room, then let his friends each take a seat. He then stood at the head of the table, with Jason, Adam, and Justin sitting along the right side, Zack, Tanya, and Rocky sitting on the other, and Tommy at the other end of the table, with Kat and their baby.
"Well, Billy? You gonna tell us why we're all here?" Adam asked impatiently.
Billy adjusted his glasses and cleared his throat. "Guys, I've been back here on earth for one long, hectic week. I haven't been able to contact any of you because I've been busy working with Nasada on a massive space project. Kat's dad is involved, and that's why she's here, although she won't have anything to do with it because she'll be taking care of her baby."
A few seconds passed before anyone spoke again. "Alright, tell us more," Jason said.
Billy took a deep breath. "As you all should know by now, there was a heavy meteor shower in downtown Angel Grove just a few days ago. And there's reason for that." He pulled out a large photo of the asteroid as taken by an astronomer through a telescope from the front view. "And this is that reason," he laid the giant photograph down on the table.
"Billy, is this what I think it is?" Adam looked worried.
"It's an asteroid," Billy answered. He let several moments pass as he looked around at the concerned faces around him.
"Is... is it heading... for earth?" Zack asked nervously.
Billy hesitated before speaking again... "Yes. Yes it is. Nasada astronomers have been doing lots of research over the past little while. They're sure."
Justin leaned forward and stared at the former ranger he had just met. "Billy, how big is it? How fast is it coming? Are we expecting heavy damages?"
_So this is the kid genius that's supposed to be the other technician on asteroid_ "300 miles long and wide," Billy said. "It's coming for us at a velocity of 30,000 miles per hour. As for the damage... so intense, more than any of you can imagine. If it hits... it'll the end of the world as we know it... total annihilation," Billy cringed slightly as he uttered those words from his mouth.
"God help us," Tommy muttered. "Th... there's no hope of... anybody or anything surviving?"
"If it his us, no," Billy answered. "It's so dangerous, it would hit us with the force of thousands of nuclear bombs."
"Damn... Billy, tell us you're joking," Rocky said.
"He's not," Kat cut in. "It's all true."
"If it is," Jason said, "is there anything we can do about it?"
Billy turned around and faced the wall behind him, sighing. He then turned back around to face his friends. "I've constructed a set of twin zords, both extremely powerful."
"How?" asked Tanya.
"With the power of this," Billy reached into his backpack which was laying beside the table, and pulled out the Zeo Crystal, then placed it on the table. "Unfortunately, the Zeo Crystal's power is weak and isn't capable of restoring ranger powers any longer. As for what you can do, well, here's the story. I've been asked to go up onto that asteroid. As a result, Nasada and the President know of my identity as a former power ranger. They also know of all of yours. Now before anyone objects, they needed to know otherwise this space project wouldn't have been possible, and none of you would be here. Now, I've been asked to select a team of the best rangers in history to take up onto the asteroid. Me and Katherine sat down and planned this out very carefully. You've all been chosen to come with me, up onto this asteroid, and prevent this menace from hitting the earth."
Several moments passed before Rocky broke the silence. "Billy, this is insane! What kind of environment would we expect up there!?"
"I won't lie to you," Billy said. "This thing is massive, with temperatures at freezing in the shade and boiling when exposed to sunlight. You can expect meteor showers occurring irregularly, and occasional earthquakes resulting from the comet's turbulence." He let a few seconds go by before talking again, seeing that no one else had anything to say, "I need you guys to pilot the zords going up onto that asteroid. You'll be given space suits so you can walk around without being harmed by the heat or cold. But most of all, with the conditions up there, you'd all be putting your lives in danger. We won't have our ranger powers, that's for sure. The point is to get those zords up there via two space shuttles, and use those zords to drill two giant holes on opposite ends of the asteroid. From there, we drop nukes inside each hole and implode the asteroid from the inside, shattering it so it completely misses the earth. But the bottom line is, I want you all to come with me. I'll give you a little time to decide."
"This is crazy, man," Zack put his hand on his forehead and wiped the sweat.
Minutes passed as the whole room was silent. Finally, Jason stood up, and walked over to the head of the table, next to Billy. The original Red Ranger stared at his friends' blank faces before speaking. "I'm goin' for it, Billy. I won't let you go up there alone." The other rangers in the room stared at Jason with expressionless looks. The former leader then continued. "Don't you see, rangers? We're a team, we always have been. We've stood by one another through thick and thin. We've been together in spirit when separated, and we've always defied the odds. We've beaten some of the most powerful villains in the universe. We've never lost a battle, and I don't think we're about to start now. We may not have our powers, but the world can still count on us. We can't abandon them now. We've always hidden behind the colored masks, but it's time to come forth and show who we are, to show the world who the Power Rangers are. We have another chance to be heroes, and I'm not about to pass it up, especially when we're needed now more than ever. Let's blow this giant piece of garbage to pieces. Let's do it to protect those we care about. Let's do it to preserve mankind. Saving the world is our duty... it was and always will be. So come on guys, what do ya say?"
Another minute passed before anyone else spoke. "Jase, we've known each other since childhood," Zack spoke up. "Every time you've asked something from me, I've never turned you down. And I won't do so this time either. I'm in if you're in, buddy."
Another moment passed before Adam raised his head and looked over at Jason, "if we don't do this, we'll be regretting it for the rest of our lives. We've been in danger before, and we've all survived. You can count on me."
"Guys, this is going to be the most heroic thing anybody has ever done," Justin suddenly looked excited. "There's billions of people in the world, and here we are, the chosen ones to do this thing. There's no turning back now. I want in."
"Well, if the rest of you are going," Rocky began. "I don't really think I have a choice. I'm with ya."
"There's a lot that I don't want to leave behind," Tanya said. "Such as school, people I care about, and everything else I've got here on earth. But if I don't go, and the asteroid hits us, I lose it all anyway, and so does everyone else. Another call to duty to protect billions of lives is just fine by me. I'll go."
Billy smiled and admired the bravery of his friends. Suddenly, all eyes stared towards the other end of the table, where Tommy, holding Kat's had, was still in deep thought. Jason walked over to the other end of the table and touched his friend on the shoulder. "Well, what about you?"
Tommy raised his eyes to come face to face with his best friend, "I, I don't know. I mean, I just had a baby. I have a woman who I love, and I don't want to leave her. This is the life I've always looked forward to. I just don't know what to do."
"It's okay, Tommy," Kat said. "I know you're happy right now, but don't give this up. Look at your friends," she gestured around the room at the other 7 former rangers that were looking at them. "They need you. 'Cause if you don't go, I will."
"No no no!" Tommy jumped to his feet. "No, Kat. I won't let anything happen to you. Your father would freak out if anything happened to you up there, and so would I. Take care of the baby. I... I'll go, and I'll be back before long. Count me in, guys."
"I knew you'd do it," Kat said and gave him a kiss.
"Alright, so we're going," Billy put his hands on his hips.
"Billy, how long before it his us?" asked Adam.
"Twenty-one days," Billy answered.
"Is that enough time for us to prepare?" Tanya asked.
"I don't know," replied Billy. "The Nasada officials are in charge of that. "We'll spend the next fifteen days training, and the sixteenth day for lift off. From there, we'll have 3 days to get to the asteroid. On the twentieth day, we get there and, since we'll be split into two teams, both teams will each have twelve hours to dig a giant hole on the north and south end of the asteroid. However, if we don't get the work done on that twentieth day, if the bombs are detonated anytime on the twenty-first day, then it doesn't matter if the asteroid explodes, it'll be so close to earth by then that millions of pieces of rock would hit the planet anyway, killing all life. So the final day is not an option. But since we're the best at what we do, I have faith that we will be able to get through this mission."
"Why does it take twelve hours to drill two holes?" Justin raised the question.
"Because Nasada has planned everything out in accordance to the asteroid's trajectory," Billy responded. We'll be drilling through a really powerful compound of which the asteroid is composed of. It will be stronger than titanium, which is why we need these zords. Now, since the zords need to be a thousand feet into the ground, they'll be attached to a long cable from the space shuttle when landed, so that the shuttle can pull the zord back out in case anything goes wrong. And Justin, you and I are responsible for making any repairs to the zords if they're damaged during the drilling process. The rest of you are in charge of piloting the two zords. Remember though, that this is top secret information. Nobody outside of this space station knows anything about the asteroid yet, so keep quiet and everything that goes on in here is confidential."
Commander Norquist then walked into the room. "So... what's the verdict, Billy?"
"They'll do it," Billy answered.
"That's great," said the Commander. "Now, I'm sure Billy has explained everything to you all. Now, here's a key thing to pay attention to. If everything goes as planned, you should have twelve hours to do the drilling, give or take a few minutes. During the drilling, the asteroid will continue to head towards earth, as expected. If you get the mission done, which means drilling and dropping a few nukes BEFORE the twelve hour time limit expires, the explosion will disintegrate most of the rock, with the remaining large pieces deflected enough to miss the earth. You need to set the bomb for automatic detonation and leave the asteroid with plenty of time before the explosion. Now, pay attention to this: AFTER twelve hours, the asteroid will pass the final barrier. If the nukes are detonated any time AFTER the final barrier, the remains of the asteroid will be close to earth, raining large comets upon our planet, causing total destruction anyway. I want you all to remember this important information, and to keep track of the time while you're up there."
Nasada training facility...
"I don't get it, Billy," Rocky sounded slightly disappointed. "Why do we need so much training in the next few days? I mean these air force pilots wanna take us for some high speed flight so that we know what flying in space will be like. But c'mon, that's stuff we're already familiar with. The Super Zeo Zords flew faster than any plane here on earth."
"Yeah, not to mention that we'd be better off making up a battle plan rather than spending days and nights training without sleep," added Jason. "We'd be too tired come launch time."
"No, you need the training, regardless," Billy said at last. "When you operate the high-tech space armor that we give you, you'll need to know how to use them so you can walk normally on the asteroid. Also, you need to know how to operate the Mega Predator. It's a little more complex than the fighting zords we had before, because you need to know how to operate the drill head and generate enough force to get through the rock. You'll also need to get a few practice runs with the Mega Predator, and have some training in the underwater weightless training pool so you get a feeling of what it's like in space. We'll also need some mental preparation so that we won't freak out on the asteroid."
"But we won't," Tommy objected. "Billy, we've been in the line of fire hundreds of times, and here these Nasada officials and White House people are telling us how to train ourselves. There's no way any of us can freak out. These training programs begin at 6 am in the morning and go on until 12 midnight each day. We'll be stressed out."
"But remember, it'll be different this time," answered Billy. "We won't have our powers, so it's many times more dangerous. Without the proper mental training and being able to handle the deadly, physical environment, we'd be taking too much of a risk. The U.S. Government doesn't take chances. Besides, you'll have the last night off from training to do what you wish. The night before liftoff will be your chance to relax before returning here the next morning. Now come on, let's begin training."
The first 4 days of training was stressful for the team. For those days, basic preparation was to be done first. A few men from the military and some former astronauts spoke with the rangers in a form of pep talk. Nasada pilots took the rangers on fighter planes just as a taste for being up in space, and they practiced their space walking in a weightless room, learning how to operate their high-tech space armor. Billy spent many hours teaching everything he knew to Justin about the Mega Predator, making sure he knew how to operate the tools needed to make necessary repairs during the mission. He then showed the young boy how to make repairs to the shuttles, and gave Adam a few tips as well in case they ever needed a third. Physical tests were run on the former rangers, as an assurance that they were healthy enough to survive the trip to the asteroid traveling at extremely high velocities.
Day 5 of training...
Major Hillard stood before the group of men that would be his comrades up on the asteroid. They were located at the designated testing site for operating the Mega Predators. "Alright, team, so here's the battle plan. Lieutenant Briggs and Sergeant Jackson will be the pilots for the Patriot shuttle, with Tommy, Zack and Rocky operating the Mega Predator. Justin will be the crew's technician specialist. I'll be piloting the Avenger shuttle along with my co-pilot, Corporal Craven. Jason, Adam and Tanya will run the Mega Predator for the team, and Billy will be our technician specialist."
Three days were spent at the testing site for the Mega Predators, and the two teams practiced drilling holes into the earth as preparation for the asteroid mission. Both teams were able to finish their jobs within the twelve hour limit on each attempt. Katherine sat on the sidelines watching her friends' work, not having much time to talk to them anymore.
Day 8 of training...
The eight rangers and four shuttle pilots were seated in the meeting room of Nasada, with Commander Norquist standing at the head of the table. Kat was seated with Tommy. The Commander cleared his throat before laying a diagram on the table and speaking to the group in front of him. "Alright, so this is how you'll get onto the asteroid. For three days, you will be flying at the regular shuttle speed up onto the asteroid. Once you get close to the asteroid, you will be cruising at 8000 feet above it. From here on, the pilots will initiate the lightning thrusters of the shuttles, and you will nose dive 8000 feet onto the asteroid, coming at it from the top. You'll be traveling at the speed of 26,000 miles per hour during this time, almost as fast as the asteroid's speed. Once you get within 3500 feet of the asteroid, swarms of meteors will be everywhere. So pilots, this will be the part where your performance will need to be at its best. The top of the asteroid will have the least debris, but still, you'll have to be very careful. Providing both teams make it through the meteor storm, once you reach just 500 feet above the asteroid's ground, both teams will separate from one another, the Patriot crew heading to the north end of the asteroid, and the Avenger crew landing at the asteroid's south end. Then comes the part you've been training for the most, the drilling, which I'm sure will be done with ease if both teams make it. Both bombs must be dropped before final barrier to secure complete implosion of the asteroid, that way it will miss earth for sure. But pilots, the key thing is for you to land your crews there, otherwise it'll be hopeless. Do you understand?"
The pilots around the room nodded. Kat had her arm around her father, and she shot a concerned look into his eyes. "Don't worry, Kat," her father said to her. "We were chosen for a reason."
The Commander then led the group into an underground, top secret area of Nasada, where he showed the teams the Patriot and Avenger shuttles that were to go up onto the asteroid. The rangers and the pilots were amazed at what they saw, and went inside the shuttles to see some of the functions. "You're the only people who have seen them so far," said the Commander.
"They're amazing," commented Major Hillard. The shuttles were larger than any other shuttle ever known.
"They're coated with layers of titanium and liquid metal," Commander Norquist stated. "They can take quite a beating."
The next three days were spent putting everything they had learned together into a series of practice missions, the pilots practice flying in fighter jets, the rangers operating the Mega Predators, and the whole group practicing space walking. Everything they had learned was now combined into these practices, and each individual going up felt confident in what he or she could do.
4 days prior to liftoff...
Commander Norquist rushed into the Navigations Control Room when he got word of an emergency. "Dr. Hayes, report please!"
Dr. Hayes switched on every monitor in the room, focusing them from a video camera out in space, showing a swarm of meteors coming. "Another meteor shower is coming! This time it's a big one, heading for northern Europe!" The hundreds of men in the large Navigations Control Room focused their eyes on the screens, as the meteor shower came crashing down onto parts of England, causing massive amounts of damage far worse than the meteor storm that had occurred in downtown Angel Grove just weeks before. Every Nasada worker rushed into the room and watched as chaos broke out onto the streets of England, buildings being toppled over, cars flipping over onto the streets and blood being shed in every direction. The echoing screams of dying children could be heard, and people running away hopelessly could be seen. Thousands were being killed at a time. Several minutes passed before the worst of it was over. Everyone in the Control Room remained quiet.
11 p.m., same day...
All eight rangers going up on the asteroid mission, along with Katherine were gathered in front of a television monitor in a private room at Nasada. Word had broke loose about the asteroid. Tommy held the remote controller in his right hand, flipping through channels. Channel 6 news was the first station he came across. "The death of 80,000 people in Great Britain has peaked the attention of billions worldwide," the reporter said. "This place was hit with what appeared to be an enormous meteor shower."
Tommy continued changing the channels. "A Russian astronomer has discovered a foreign object in space. The astronomer confirmed that the object is a large asteroid. Sources are yet to confirm whether or not it is heading for earth."
Tommy changed the station again. "Ladies and gentlemen," another reporter said. "We have just learned that Nasada has been working on a top secret mission regarding the recently discovered asteroid deep in space."
"Security surrounding the entrances to the Nasada Space Center has increased ten fold in the past several hours," another reporter said as Tommy clicked the remote control again. "The speculation about an asteroid collision is true, and we have just received word from the head council of the United Nations that Nasada has been busy preparing an elite team of astronauts to blast off into space and stop the asteroid from coming."
Tommy continued channel surfing. "The recent disappearance of the President from the White House may be explained through the discovery of the massive asteroid heading for earth. Two shuttles are rumored to be blasting off at 7:15 p.m. Monday night. Nasada and White House officials have refused to comment on the disaster that is scheduled to hit us. Several astronauts are expected to take off into space, several of which are rumored to be former Power Rangers. We have heard that the names of the shuttle pilots will be Major Jack Hillard, Lieutenant Davis Briggs, Sergeant Eric Jackson, and Corporal Arnold Craven. We've always wondered who the Power Rangers were, and we've learned of several of the former ones. We've heard the ones going up are Angel Grove citizens Tommy Oliver, Jason Lee Scott, Bill Cranston, Adam Park, Rocky DeSantos, Tanya Sloan, Zack Taylor, and Justin Stewart. It has also been rumored that former Pink Ranger, Katherine Hillard, daughter of Major Jack Hillard, has also been seen at Nasada and may have something to do with the mission. Commander Norquist is scheduled to be on the air some time tomorrow morning to address the world on this situation."
Tommy switched the T.V. set off. "So everyone knows."
"What do we do?" asked Zack.
"There's nothing we CAN do," answered Jason, "that is, except continue our training and save the world."
"The press is gonna be all over us," Adam said grudgingly.
"Not if security can keep them out of here," Billy said in response.
"Well it's about time the world found out who we are," Jason said proudly. "They've deserved to know for a long time, but they haven't because we needed to protect ourselves. We have to be proud of who we are, stand up and admit that we are the Power Rangers, no denial. Now we're going to be heroes for what we do, and that means being more than just being the Power Rangers. That means showing the world the faces of their former heroes, and letting them know our names. Now c'mon, we've still got a lot of work to do."
End of the final day of training...
Tommy Oliver walked lazily into the room provided for him at Nasada. The rooms occupied by each ranger were used as places to stay for astronauts going up on a mission, since they were not allowed to leave the space station. Tommy collapsed onto the bed, breathing sighs of relief. It wasn't long before Kat entered the room to visit him. "Hi Tommy," she called.
"Hi darling," he greeted. "Damn, I'm sure beat. The last few days have burned me out."
"I know," Kat agreed. "But there's someone here to see you." She was cradling their baby in her arms, and Tommy reached out to pull little Thomas Junior into his hands and onto his lap.
"Hey Tom," Tommy said to his son. "Gosh, I missed him," he hardly had any time to see his son or girlfriend during his 18 hour days of training.
"Well, at least you get tomorrow night off," Kat said to make him feel better.
"Yeah," he said. "Kat, maybe we should go out tomorrow night then. Just you and me. We've hardly had any time together in the past little while."
"Sure thing," Kat smiled. "But won't you be too tired?"
"Not if I get a lot of sleep right now," he answered. "Otherwise, it's a date."
"The night before liftoff, and you want to give your men the night off!?" the President shrieked at Commander Norquist. They were located in Nasada's Navigations Control Room.
"They deserve it," was the Commander's simple answer.
"They need to spend more time preparing," the President said in anger.
"How much more can they train?" the Commander asked rhetorically. "For all we know, this may be the last time we ever see these guys again. And if that's the case, then they need the final day to spend with their friends and their families, because that's who they're doing this for. That's all I have to say."
Billy was up early the next morning and was quick to return to his home in northern Angel Grove. "Billy!" his mother exclaimed. "It's been so long since I've seen you!"
He reached out and gave her a hug, "I missed you too, mom."
"Billy! This is too good to be true," his father came to the doorstep of the house where Billy had just arrived. "I thought I'd never see you again. So I heard about you on the news. I just want you to know that your mother and I are very proud of you."
"Mr. Taylor," there's someone here to see you, the secretary to Isaac Taylor's office escorted a familiar face inside.
"Wassup dad?" Zack called as his father reached out to give him a big hug.
"Zack! You've been away so long I began to get worried," his dad said in relief. "And most of all, you're going to be a hero! I want to be there when you take off tomorrow evening."
"Sure thing, pops," Zack said. "Now, we got a lot of lost time to make up for."
"And then Billy asked us if we wanted to join him on the asteroid! It was so cool!" Justin exclaimed to his dad and his new, pregnant stepmother. "Now we're going into space to drill this giant hole and drop some bombs and save the world!"
"That's great," said his father. "Now Justin, you mean a lot to me, so be careful up there. We're very proud of you right now."
Jason Lee Scott nervously came down the sidewalk of a familiar street in Angel Grove. He walked up the driveway of a house he'd been to before. Little did he know that his old flame was watching him from inside. Emily stepped out the front door and rushed out to give Jason a hug. "Jason! I've missed you."
"Missed you too," he said.
She had heard about the news of him joining the voyage onto the asteroid. "So... what brings you here?"
"Just had to visit some people I care about before leaving," he answered.
Rocky, Adam and Tanya sat around a small table in a fast food restaurant. "Man, I'm sure glad to get some free time," Rocky said.
"Yeah," agreed Adam. "So Tanya, how's your new boyfriend?"
"We broke up," she answered. "Never told ya 'cause we were too busy training."
"Oh c'mon you guys!" Rocky cut in. "You two have been giving each other these looks for years now. I don't mean to be a pain, but aren't you guys ever going to hook up?"
Adam and Tanya exchanged glances and then laughed. "Naaa," Tanya said while laughing.
"We're friends for now," Adam added. "We can talk to each other about anything, and we trust each other with our innermost secrets. Things are fine the way they are now."
"And that probably won't change," said Tanya. "But we do enjoy spending time together."
It was late in the evening. Tommy Oliver and Katherine Hillard danced happily together at a local Angel Grove dance club. As the song came to a close, Tommy and Kat wrapped their arms around one another. "Tommy," Kat said quietly.
"Are you nervous... about tomorrow, that is?"
He sighed. "Yeah. In fact, I'm more scared than anything else. I mean, anything could happen... to any of us. But like Jase said, we've been together through thick and thin." The two of them stepped off the dance floor and went to the snack bar for a drink.
"You can do it," she replied. "I know you can. You've always been so brave, and you've always succeeded."
"But... it's different this time," Tommy said. "We won't have our ranger powers. I'm used to morphing and using space-aged weapons. With powers like that, our lives were never really in danger. But now, we're just regular people. This is more dangerous than anything we've ever faced. I know the other rangers feel the same."
"Tommy, it's alright," Kat said. "You've all been through so much together. You guys are a really great team. And you're more than just regular people. You're still the Power Rangers, with or without your powers, only this time the world knows who we all are. I'm scared too, but it'll soon be over and you'll all be remembered for doing the greatest thing anyone has ever done for earth."
"Thanks Katherine," Tommy smiled. "I guess I just don't want to leave you here all alone with the baby. I have regrets about risking my life and having you watch while anything could happen to me."
"Don't worry about me," Kat said softly. "Just take care of yourself."
Tommy held her so that her head was resting against his chest. "I will. I'll be up there fighting for everything and everyone that I care about... especially you." He held her in his arms for several seconds. Soon, the DJ came back from a break and played the next song. The opening chords were familiar to Tommy and Kat, so they stepped back onto the dance floor and resumed their perfect evening...
I could stay awake just to hear you breathing Watch you smile while you are sleeping While you're far away and dreaming I could spend my life in this sweet surrender I could stay lost in this moment forever Every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure
Don't wanna close my eyes I don't wanna fall asleep 'Cause I'd miss you baby And I don't wanna miss a thing 'Cause even when I dream of you The sweetest dream would never do I'd still miss you baby And I don't wanna miss a thing
Laying close to you Feeling your heart beating And I'm wondering what you're dreaming Wondering if it's me you're seeing And then I kiss your eyes And thank God we're together Well I just want to stay with you in this moment forever Forever and ever
I don't wanna close my eyes I don't wanna fall asleep 'Cause I'd miss you baby And I don't wanna miss a thing 'Cause even when I dream of you The sweetest dream would never do I'd still miss you baby And I don't wanna miss a thing
And I don't wanna miss one smile I don't wanna miss one kiss Well I just wanna be with you Right here with you just like this I just wanna hold you close I feel your heart so close to mine And just stay here in this moment For all the rest of time Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Don't wanna close my eyes Don't wanna fall asleep 'Cause I'd miss you baby And I don't wanna miss a thing 'Cause even when I dream of you The sweetest dream would never do I'd still miss you baby And I don't wanna miss a thing
I dont' wanna close my eyes I don't wanna fall asleep 'Cause I'd miss you baby And I don't wanna miss a thing 'Cause even when I dream of you The sweetest dream would never do I'd still miss you baby And I don't wanna miss a thing
Don't wanna close my eyes I don't wanna fall asleep yeah I don't wanna miss a thing
As the song came to a close, Tommy and Kat gave each other another long kiss before leaving the dance club. "Come on, it's getting kind of late. Let's go," Tommy said.
Launch day... T minus 10 hours...
"Dad?" Katherine opened the door to the room her father was staying in. He was sitting on his bed, looking down onto a picture he held in his hands.
"Hi Katherine," her father greeted.
Kat came and sat next to him, when she realized that he was holding a picture of her mother. "You miss her a lot, don't you?"
"Yeah. She..." he paused, "she didn't have to die."
"Well, I miss her too," Katherine said.
"Mm hmm," her father mumbled slightly. He turned to face his daughter, and touched the side of her face. "Well, every time I see you, Kat, it reminds me of her. You have your mother's eyes, her golden hair, her beautiful face, and her kind, loving heart."
She smiled, "thanks daddy. But you look so, I dunno, worried."
"I'm afraid," he admitted. "Afraid of leaving this planet and never returning."
"Don't be," Kat said to try to appease him. "They're all scared, everyone. And I'm scared too. I'm scared of my child not knowing his father or his grandfather. I'm scared of being left alone without my friends. I'm scared of that giant rock hitting us and taking all our lives. You've always been special, dad. I've always looked up to you. And I know that mum would be so proud of you if she were here. So dad, just let me know that you'll come back, and that you'll be okay up there."
"Alright, Kat, I will," he said. "Listen, I've got something else to say. You and Tommy, you two are so happy together. I know I've been a little hard on your relationship, but now I've worked with the man, and he's a fine person. He's not like the other guys you've dated. He's much better. I don't want you to go on thinking I don't approve of your relationship, because I do, at least now I do. I want you to be happy, 'cause you're more than just my little girl now. You are your own woman, your own individual. There comes a time when I have to let go."
"Aww, dad," Katherine said playfully. "I'll always be your little girl. Nothing can change that. But thanks." She gave him a hug, and he wrapped his strong arms around her, as if he would never hold her again.
T minus 1 hour...
It was a quiet locker room in Nasada. The twelve astronauts seated on benches sat with expressionless looks. "Well, time to get our game faces on," Major Hillard stood up, and picked up his space uniform behind him, with his name written on the left side of his chest and a mission patch on the right sleeve. Slipping the uniform on, he started for the door, "let's go."
As the rest of the team suited up, Jason looked over at Tommy, who was still sitting down, and hadn't moved an inch. "Hey bro, we gotta go."
"Is something wrong?" Jason asked as he slipped his gear on.
"No," Tommy replied and slowly got up to put his things on. "It's just..." his voice trailed off.
"It's Katherine, isn't it?" Jason knew what his best friend was thinking. "You don't want to leave her behind."
"Yeah, exactly," Tommy replied.
"Listen man, it'll be okay," Jason said to liven his friend's spirit. "We've both got big jobs to do. Try and stay focused on the task at hand, just like what we learned in karate. Kat will be alright."
"I guess you're right," Tommy said. "Thanks Jase." He put the rest of his gear on and lined up at the locker room door where Major Hillard was standing. Soon, the door opened and led to the giant garage where the Mega Predators were constructed, though this time the zords were now being loaded into the shuttles.
Katherine stood at the entrance of the locker room, waiting to see her friends. Her father stepped out of the door, and gave her a hug. "I'll be back soon, Katherine."
"Good luck, daddy."
Billy stepped out next, holding the Zeo crystal in his hands. "Katherine, I want you to hang onto this," he said. "And take this as well, in case of an emergency," with the Zeo crystal, Billy handed Kat a communicator like the one they used when they were rangers. "This will be our way of keeping in touch while we're flying."
"Okay Billy," Kat responded. "Come back soon." Billy then turned away and followed Major Hillard..
The rest of the rangers strutted out nervously, each giving their farewell to Kat. At the end of the line was Tommy, who was quick to open his arms for Kat to step in. "Take care of the baby," he said.
"I will," she answered. "I'll be waiting for you."
Tommy didn't want to let go of her, but he knew he had to, at least for a few days. He brushed a strand of her hair aside, and held her face in his hands. At last, he uttered his final words to her before leaving: "Katherine, I just want you to know that no matter what happens, I'll always love you... always."
The two lovers kissed one another for several seconds. "Love you too," Katherine said. She stepped away from Tommy's arms, as he walked off, glancing back at her. The twelve astronauts stood in a horizontal row, all facing forward towards the giant garage doors that were beginning to open.
"Suck it up, men," Lieutenant Briggs encouraged. Not to anyone's surprise, blinding cameras flashed in every direction in front of them, as the thousands of fans gathered around the Nasada Space Center bid the astronauts farewell, restrained only by heavy security. Major Hillard was the first to step forward, leading his men and following the pathway made for them to step out of the garage and into the bus waiting outside that would take them to their space shuttles. As the men stepped out, deafening cheers erupted from the massive crowd waiting for them. Video cameras were everywhere, with reporters making news stories. One by one, each ranger and shuttle pilot stepped onto the bus before the doors shut and the bus was ready to bring the men to their launch pads.
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