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Old September 5th, 2018, 12:57 AM #1
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> GreenDTRanger
Bronze Age > New 52
 
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GreenDTRanger
Bronze Age > New 52
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Joined: May 2004
Posts: 1,403



The Unknown Ranger Goes Zeo - Season 4

PREVIOUSLY IN THE UNKNOWN RANGER

Dave Cranston, younger brother of Billy, discovers the Power Rangers secrets. He helps them out while also dealing with his own adventures. He's fought intergalactic despots to international assassins, while trying to balance school, a job, family, friends and random powers that manifest out of nowhere.

**************************************

As the flash of light faded, I felt incredibly disoriented. I put my hands out to steady myself and I realized I was already sitting. In my bedroom. Surrounded by my He-Man toys. They were scattered about as if an epic battle was being fought. That was when I noticed the monolith of plastic sitting in front of me. It was an Eternia playset. They are rare to find and I don't own one, but there it was. As I glanced around there were a few extra toys I didn't have, like the mechanical horse and the skeleton carriors. I never owned them because they were never on the show. Same reason I never got Snake Mountain because it was different than the show version. I then spotted a Snake Mountain, and a Crystal Castle and a pile of She-Ra toys complete with comb weapons. What the hell! Ooh, a King Randor, I didn't have him either.

I got up and was very confused. Why was I teleported back to my room? Even my clothes are different. I was wearing a Flash t-shirt, and I haven't had one of those since I was about five. My room looked the same, a few things were in different places but still the same. Is this another parallel Earth?

Mom walked into my room, knocking only after she had already opened the door. "David, you left your pager in the living room again."

"MOM!"
She looked at me and my surroundings. "David, should I be worried? You are way too old for toys."
"I was just... sorting -- them." Weak.
"Okay then." She then tossed me the beeper. "Are you ready for school?"
I snatched the device out of the air but was again confused. It looked more or less the same, but the screen was scratched, there were knicks in the casing, lint accumulation in the crevices and a fading lightning bolt sticker wrapped around the side. "Yeah, ready for it to be over so summer can start."

"I don't think I've heard you so pessimisticly about school before."
"It's been a rough year, so I want this summer to be awesome."
"You're already planning your summer vacation nine months in advance, before the school year starts? I would think you would be happy, being a Junior now?"

"What?
"Are you sure you're all right?
NO! Not at all. "Yeah. Sure. Absolutely."
"I really came to ask you if you had seen your brother lately? I feel like I haven't seen him in forever."
"Can I go find him?" Yes, I need Billy so I can figure out what the hell is happening.
"Sure, just take that with you." Mom pointed to my pager, and gave me a long look before exiting.

I waited until I heard her in the kitchen and tried my communicator. "Billy. Billy come in." Nothing. Not even static or malfunctioning beeps. The teleporter didn't work either. If I had to I would take the Radbug to the Command Center, but for now I'll try to find them myself. As I was heading out it was then that I noticed the calendar and I felt real confused. According to it, almost four months had passed since this morning.

That's not possible. Wait, why isn't it? Rita and Zedd have both pulled time travel crap before. This needs fixed. I headed for the back door and the faceplate for the security system was no longer a pristine white. I punched in the code and headed to the garage. My bike was there, but almost all of Billy's inventions were in boxes and storage totes instead of scattered everywhere.
I headed for the park first. I spotted Bulk and Skull, and with their very civic oriented turn around I figured to give them a shot. "Hey, guys, have you seen Billy or any of his friends lately?"

I startled Bulk. "We weren't doing anything."
Skull was also defensive. "Yeah, we weren't swinging or anything."
Bulk gave his buddy a scathing look before responding. "No, haven't seen them. Come on Numb-skull."

That was weird, but it was also Bulk and Skull. On my way to the youth center, I saw Marcus changing the sign at the video store. Last time I saw him he was mad at me for the girl he was starting to like was starting to like me. "Hey."

"Hey." Marcus was happy to see me. "Is everything there?"
I had no idea what he was talking about. "Is what where?"
"The He-Man stuff. I think out of all the Star Trek stuff I got all that was still missing was a few tiny accessories but I wanted you to check them. I'm thinking about going back to that yard sale today. You want to go back?"

"I'm not sure I'll be able to. I'm trying to track down my brother. Have you seen him, or any of his friends?"
"No, but didn't that one girl move?"
"Which girl?"
"The one with dreads who worked at the animal shelter."
"Aisha." Why would she move?
"You look like you're a million miles away. When you get that look we end up not seeing you for at least a couple days."
My mind was swirling and I need some explanations. "No, I was just thinking about what happened at the mall that time."
"How many times do I have to apologize?"
"It's just I'm having trouble wrapping my head around it."
"Adina likes that I understand when she goes on about musicals. She was thinking that the two of us should go see 'Evita' when it comes out. My mind started hyping up something that didn't exist. Once Ajay and Adina were back to squabbling I realized I was over it quick."

One plot thread wrapped up before it could become a potential hassle. "I have to go. If you find anything cool --"
"I'll beep you. And if this is just an excuse to go see her, say hi to Lucy for me?"
"Who's Lucy?"
Marcus rolled his eyes at me. "Okay. Sure. Bye now." He shook his head in disbelief as he climbed back up his ladder.

What was that about? But what Marcus said about Aisha was bothering me so I went over to her house. Grandma Campbell was in a rocking chair on the porch and there was a 'FOR SALE' sign on the real estate pole in the front yard. She waved at me.
"Hey there, young man."
"Hello ma'am. How are you today?"
"I'm just fine now. It's a lovely day today."
"Yeah, sure is."
"You look troubled. David, won't you come sit and have some lemonade?" That question wasn't a question, but old lady speak for politely telling you what to do. I did as told and she poured a second glass for me. "Now tell me baby, why is today not a good day?"

"It's just -- complicated." Damn, the lemonade was good.
"You breathin'? You got a home? And a family that loves you?"
"All that stuff is fine. No first world problems here. What I'm really worried about is -- time, I guess."

"Aren't you a little young to be worrying about that? Time is fleeting for all of us. It shoots by faster than we all realize."
No shit. "No kidding."
"Are you making the most of it?"
"What do you mean?"
"I see you kids all the time helping in the community, which is all amazing and you should do it, but what do you love? What are you passionate about?"

I had no idea but the first thing that came to mind was "Comic books." I got a look. "Star Trek?"

"My grandbaby realized she was good with animals. She found an opportunity to help in Africa and Aisha felt like she had to help. When my son realized it was near where our ancestors came from, he felt compelled to help. It was like fate was calling them home. And in a few days, my daughter-in-law will come back to settle a few things and I'm going to visit too." She handed me a letter to look over. "I always wanted to go, but never in my life did I ever think I would get to. And my Aunt Ashalla is still alive."

"How does that work?" I didn't mean to be rude, and I feel like I sounded surprised.
"My father came to this continent after slavery ended. He would go back and forth, telling tales of his little sister. She was something of a folk hero in the area, loved and respected by those close. You can appreciate this though, she supposedly had powers from a mystical totem."

"That's cool." I handed the letter back. When I did, my finger grazed hers and there was a noticeable shock. It startled the both of us and Grandma Campbell started to laugh from the surprise. As I pulled my hand I noticed purple energy briefly surge around my fingers before disappearing.

"This family was given an amazing opportunity, and collectively getting to pursue our dreams. Just like Kimberly with her gymnastics. Sometimes when I see you, you look miserable. I get the feeling you are doing things because you have to."

"You're not wrong." Oddly enough, I felt a great sense of relief about that. And even stranger still, overwhelmed. Which doesn't make sense, I know.

Grandma Campbell reached over and took my hand. Once I grasped it, she placed her other one on top. "Maybe you should try pursuing your passions. Aspire to be your own superhero. Now you give me a hug but don't shock me again."

I wasn't sure how to take her superhero comment but I gladly did as I was told. Once my arms were wrapped around her, I clasped my communicator with my free hand. I felt another surge from my hand and my communicator started going haywire. I quickly pulled away just to make sure I didn't shock an old woman twice.

Grandma Campbell seemed a little annoyed. "You know Aisha has that same watch, makes that same annoying noise."

"I should fix this. Thank you, for everything. I'll try to see you again before you leave."
"You better be out there living and not worrying about someone who doesn't need to be worried over."
"Say hi to Aisha for me."
"You know it."

I hopped on my bike while still having these conflicting feelings of relief and overwhelmed. Once I was out of sight of the Campbell house, I stopped and looked at my hands. I only manifested electrical powers around those ninjas. While I could believe they might be spying on me still, I wouldn't think they would harm an old woman. None of this makes sense. Now I really needed Billy.

*****

Akomaru sat on Master Vile's throne with a great sense of triumph. He had five female warriors, three of them Gohma heritage, and all agreed to serve him. Granted they weren't exactly overjoyed, but they were definately willing. They were constantly training and all enjoyed the freedom of beating up Tengas whenever they wanted. He had lieutenants, the beginning of a power base. Scorpina was still looking over his shoulder at every opportunity, so he would have to come up with something before Vile got back.

"Get off my throne!"
Akomaru was so lost in thought he hadn't seen Master Vile enter. "You've conquered Earth's whole galaxy so quickly."

"Zordon was able to call the Power Rangers from Aquitar. The spell I cast on Earth drained me greatly, and losing to them only worsened it. I return home to recharge and the Machine Empire are already moving in on Earth. Akomaru, make sure that rooms are prepared for Rita and her minions. They are fleeing Earth too."

Akomaru didn't like that. His position here was tenuous at best, but it would definately be reduced with the return of Vile's children.

"I believe the Master gave you instructions," said Scorpina, appearing out of nowhere, "and with his return there is no longer need for your regency."

"I will of course oblige with the ruler's wishes." As Akomaru got up from the throne and left, no matter what, he only knew that he would see Scorpina gone before him.

*****

Trini and Kim hugged as if they were never going to see each other again. Both were also failing to not cry.

"You have all my email and contact numbers?" asked Trini.
"I don't want you to go." Kimberly was unable to dab at her eyes with a tissue fast enough.

"I know, but I've been here way longer than I intended. I need to go back, if only to put that chapter of my life to a close."

"I need to go see my Mom in Paris, when I do maybe we can arrange a meetup somewhere."

"Absolutely." Trini jerked her head at the announcement over the airport PA system. "That's my flight."
"I love you so much."
"I love you so much."
"Best friends forever."
"Best friends forever."

It wasn't until the boarding started did Trini finally let go of her friend's hand. Kimberly was oblivious to everything around her. She stared as Trini stood in line and showed her ticket. Trini turned at the terminal, smiled, and waved good-bye. It wasn't until her head disappeared down the hall that Kimberly turned herself.

As she walked out of the airport she didn't have to wait long before Tim pulled up in his car. Without even waiting Kimberly hopped into the passenger side.

"Sorry I didn't come in, but I couldn't find a parking spot so it was easier to just circle around."
Kimberly nodded in appreciation. "Thank you. For this. Waiting."
"Friends help friends out."

Kim rolled down the window and let the wind blow on her face. It felt nice. She allowed her hair to flap freely as her tears dried. When Tim asked if she wanted to stop anywhere she declined. She preferred to just rest her head on the door and stare at the ocean. Crying had given her a slight headache but she ignored it. She had cried too much lately and she was getting tired of it. It wasn't until she got home did Kimberly speak up. "I came to Florida to pursue my gymnastics career, not be in a teen drama. If we're friends, we stay friends. If we are meant to be more, then I need to take it slow."

Tim nodded at everything she said. "You're worth it."

~~~~~~~~~

After a quick check in with Ernie to know if he had seen anything, I headed home. In the garage I was able to find replacement circuitry to replace what I had fried. It seemed in working order so I decided to try jetting to the Command Center to better track my travel. The teleportation was sluggish to start but it did activate and I arrived with no problems. Except instead of landing in the Command Center I arrived in a corridor. It looked like I arrived in one of the lower levels near the Power Chamber. I wasn't certain where to go until I started to hear an alarm going off. I hurried toward it and turned a corner. There were the Power Rangers, but... different.

In unison they shouted "POWER RANGERS ZE-O!" and then gestured in a motion that looked like they were flipping me off with their arms.

Katherine said "ZEO RANGER ONE, PINK!"
A girl who was not Aisha then said "ZEO RANGER TWO, YELLOW!"
Rocky said "ZEO RANGER THREE, BLUE!"
Adam said "ZEO RANGER FOUR, GREEN!"
Tommy said "ZEO RANGER FIVE, RED!"

Morph completed, all five teleported away. It was then I saw Billy and Alpha standing by a console on the far side of the room. A room that was the Power Chamber. I descended a few steps and walked into the room . My eyes were quickly drawn to the back wall. The costumes of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were on display. Blue, Yellow, White, Pink, Black, Red. And separating them in the middle was a display of the Power Weapons.

"Welcome to the fully operational Power Chamber, David." Zordon sounded happy in the different tube.

Billy gave me a hug, then so did Alpha. Both were happy to see me and said as much but my head was racing with questions. "What is going on?" Good start.

It was a strange story. The orange light was a spell cast by Master Vile to turn back time. With the gang unable to morph, Power Rangers from the water planet of Aquitar stepped in to save the day. Billy tried to use the Ninja coins to counter the spell, but was only able to reverse it on himself before Goldar destroyed the coins. With the Aquitians unable to sustain themselves in Earth's environment and Vile pressing the attack, the Rangers went searching for the Zeo crystals.

"And I'm going to assume that Aisha ended up in Africa and decided to stay there."
Now Billy's mouth dropped. "How could you know that?"
"Her grandmother told me. The whole family has moved."
"Zordon did say that her decision affected the course of her family's history."
"And maybe much more. How long were you under the spell?"
"Several day unfortunately."
"Uh huh. You might want to check just how much Aisha's decision has changed the timeline."

Alpha was the closest to the console, and checked the chronometer. "Aye yi yi, this can't be."
Billy hovered over the robot. "How could we lose that much time?"

Luckily for all concerned, I read enough sci-fi to hazard a guess. "It's time travel. I'm thinking she skipped over what would have allowed her to move in real time, so history is retroactively trying to fix itself by shunting us forward too."

Zordon piped in with "David, do you have any recollections of the last four months?"
"No. The last thing I remember was heading to Katherine's birthday. Then I was in my bedroom."
"While the Rangers were transformed again into children, the Power Coins protected their memories from the altered history. No doubt the coin you possess protected you as well."

"If I regressed to about five or six, I couldn't process what I know now. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't remember some of my experiences." I touched my Flash shirt. Was this my actual shirt from when I was that age? Or did I buy it at some point during this new retroactive timeline? Like those He-Man toys.
"I too am experiencing a lack of memory of events. Please excuse me." Zordon then lowered himself out of view.

I turned back to Billy and saw his suit in the case behind him. That's when it hit me. "You're not the Blue Ranger anymore. Rocky is."
"Yeah." Billy now looked miserable.
"You can't be okay with that."
"Five sub-crystals meant five Rangers. Tanya offered me hers, but Aisha chose her as the new Yellow Ranger. It's her reason for being here."
Not good enough. "You have to fix this. I will help you fix this but I need your help first."
"Okay, with what?"
I held up my hand but wasn't exactly sure what to do. I flexed my fingers and got nothing. I snapped my fingers and got results.

Billy's eyes bulged and grabbed my hand. "Self-generating electrical discharge. How can you do this?"
"Did I not tell you about the ninjas with electrical powers who ambushed me once?"
"Was this before or after the assassin was stalking you?"
I thought about it. "During." Billy dropped my hand in disbelief. "Do I know everything about your life? No."

Zordon rose back into view. "David's assessment seems to be correct. The time elapse has been filled, but it may take some time for all of us involved to become cognizant of the ramifications of events. And the need for the two of you may be even greater than before."

"What do you mean, Zordon?" asked Billy.
"With new enemies comes the potential for greater threats. The Machine Empire can generate a completely functioning and autonomous Cog in a single hour. There's also their fleet of mechanized lieutenants. We need to be prepared."
"Like new weapons, and new zords compatible with the Zeo powers."

I looked at the back wall, with the old weapons and the old costumes. "Where's the Green Ranger?" Everyone turned to look at me. "You have a new one now, why isn't the old Green in here?"

Zordon seemed to smile. "As I told the others, the Power Rangers as they have known them are gone and as such are shown in remembrance. But the powers of the Mighty Morphin Green Ranger are still present and a part of you. And there may come a time when they will be of necessary service."

~~~~~~~~

Lord Zedd could feel his brain throbbing through his metal claws. Everything was a disaster. He had been on Earth for almost two of their 'years' and had never known defeat in this manner before. He had never ran from anybody, and now the Machine Empire would be taking over where he left off. And now, worst of all, he was having to go stay with his father-in-law. He couldn't think of anything worse.

Finster came rushing into the cockpit, "Lord Zedd, Mistress Rita is vomiting again."

"Then deal with it. I have to pilot the zord."
"I can put it temporarily on auto-pilot. She's requesting you."
Zedd's patience had been wearing thin ever since boarding. "Make sure we make it to the first space portal before engaging the autopilot. I don't want to get stranded on the outer edges of the Milky Way galaxy." Zedd stormed out of the bridge for the living quarters. He found Squatt and Baboo fidgeting outside of waste extraction.

"She made quite the mess getting here," said Squatt.
"She sure..." started Baboo, but the waste extraction door flung open. Baboo was hit in the face and fell backward.

"Come on now Zeddy, where'd you learn how to fly!" Rita looked pale and there were stains on her dress. "Both of you, go clean up that mess," she shrieked at her underlings.

Once Squatt and Baboo were gone, Zedd's tone softened. "Honeykins, what is it?"
"I don't know. I've been feeling off ever since before Daddy cast his spell on Earth. It got worse as we were leaving the moon." Rita began to absently rub her stomach. Her hand stopped mid-rub and her eyes bulged. She had been less scared when she saw the Machine Empire approaching through her telescope. "Zeddy..."

"What now?" Zedd was annoyed, but Rita took his hand and placed it on her stomach. After a few moments he felt movement and Rita's stomach swell slightly. "By all that is evil, you've been infected with a parasite!"

Last edited by ShadowRanger; September 7th, 2018 at 02:16 AM. Reason: Colors are not allowed in posts. See fanfic rules at top of forum - ShadowRanger
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Old September 5th, 2018, 01:09 AM #2
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Please do not use colors in fanfic section. See rules at top of forum if you njeed a reminder or have not already viewed them.

Edit: Colors removed.

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Old December 6th, 2018, 11:43 PM #3
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Part 2

I felt an overwhelming sense of pride, but there was no time to waste. Zordon immediately put us to work. The team had new powers but no additional support. We needed weapons, zords and we needed them now. Billy was already cobbling something together on one of the secondary consoles while we tossed around ideas. I started to immerse myself into the fully active computer systems and tried not to geek out. I stumbled upon the schematics for the 'new' Command Center as it is and was impressed. Even when I had previously explored the lower levels for the last two years I still barely knew what was down there. Everything was powered up and functional. There were science and testing labs, a foundry, industrial replicators, an area near the power core to house the Zeo crystals, in addition to regular storage and living quarters. An additional hangar was already under construction by the automated systems. What was weirder, was that there were areas and doors that seemed to lead nowhere. Alpha said it was for "the Vortex" but didn't explain it.

That was when the Power Rangers returned. Something was nagging me. I didn't know how I felt about the suits but that might have been because they were new.

"Are you David?" The new Yellow Ranger demorphed with the rest of the team. She was smiling and extending her hand. "Hello, I'm Tonya."
"Yes, and hello." Her shake was very exertive. Her clothing was clearly not local.
"Isn't this place amazing?"
"I'm used to it."
"Right. So, what happens now?"

Zordon answered for me. "A new beginning. Much has changed while time was in flux. First must be the adjustment to the time we now face. Tonya, what year was it when you left home?"

"1996."
The rest of the Rangers were confused and Tommy expressed it. "How is that possible? We all traveled into the past."

I raised my hand. "That might have been me." I explained resetting the temporal coordinates when sending away the Zeo crystals.

"We're lucky you did." Now everyone looked at Billy yet he never looked up from what he was doing. "Imagine if Aisha had decided to remain even further in the past. It could have screwed up the timeline even more."

"Indeed," said Zordon. "The world around us has been altered but you all must adapt accordingly. Especially for our new Ranger."

"I have an idea on how to do that," replied Kat.
"First, she'll need this." Billy joined the group and presented Tonya with a communicator. "I have already congifured it to be compatible with the Zeo powers. Kat, I've done a temporary patch on yours but the others I need to reconfigure slightly." The three Ranger guys each gave over their communicators.

"Alpha, teleport the Rangers home. Katherine, proceed with your plans. Mondo's forces have been temporarily pushed back but we need to prepare."

Once the Zeo team was gone, Billy went back to work. The first thing he did was pop the white and black stripes off two of the communicators. "I was thinking we could recongifure your Sword of Power."

That seemed to come out of nowhere. "You mean my prototype that I hadn't even come up with a decent name for. The prototype Tommy stole when he went evil again."

"Yeah that one."
If the Zeo powers were as powerful as they were made out to be, compressing that much power into a single weapon could be devastating. "Let's work our way to that. It would be easier to start off with a... Zeo cannon. And if the Rangers have individualised weapons, maybe there's a way those could be combined." I started to pace the floor as Billy pitched me some more ideas. I would then offer some suggestions and Alpha diligently started taking notes.

"Okay, I have to take these to the others." Billy then held up the three fixed communicators in the correct colors.
"How did you do that so fast?"
"There's a small matter replication unit in that console."
"Of course there is."
"Somebody will need to teleport me. Without a power coin, I..."
"I know, I've been there. I'll send you home first. That way Mom won't be worried anymore."

I pushed the necessary buttons and Billy disappeared in a flash of white light. Once he was gone my eyes rested on the suit of the White Ranger. That was what was bugging me. I hadn't thought about him in a while. Kou's legacy, and the last vestiges of his people's powers were gone. Worse yet, I wasn't there to do anything about it. Now I was feeling like a scumbag failure. If nothing else, the Thunderzords needed to be fixed. I checked on the automated systems, and the secondary hangar further in the mountains was well underway and would probably not need much longer until completion. The zords were still in pieces so I set the programs to make repairs the main priority after the bay was finished.

"David, what are you doing now?" Alpha came up to me after inputting something into the computer.

"The Thunderzords were never ours. If we're not going to be using them we need to send them back." How do you thank a people when a very personal piece of their cultural heritage has been lost? A greeting card and fruit basket definately won't cut it. Maybe... maybe I can get them functioning again. But first I would have to sever their connection to the Power Coins, since they are still programmed as the power source. "Zordon, where are the Dino coins?"
"I have secured them in the vault with the Zeo Crystals, but Adam did take back the Mastodon coin."

I turned to leave the room and realized I didn't exactly know how to get there. Everything was getting to be too much. So much to do and school was starting tomorrow. I wasn't exactly sure how many more metaphorical balls I could juggle. "You know what, I'll be back tomorrow."

"We understand David. There is much still for us all to process." With that, Zordon lowered himself out of view.

I rubbed Alpha on the shoulder, said "Later" and teleported home. My perpetual disaster of a room needed cleaning. No thank you. Sorting through this new stuff could be fun and hey, maybe I could catch up with Marcus for even more stuff. I moved some stuff on a shelf, and my Storm figure dropped her lightning bolt accessory. Hey! Billy and I barely discussed my problem. I heard Mom in the kitchen so decided to check in.
Mom was in full homemaker mode. A meatloaf, lasagna, a casserole, two pies and brownies were in various states of completion.

Mom waived me in, "Sweetie, could you take the cookies out of the oven." I looked around for the oven mitts and found them next to a bowl of frosting. "Dave, something awful has happened. You know Justin Stewart?"

"Sure"
"His mother just passed away."
"Oh no, that's awful." I couldn't even remember the last time I had spoken to Justin, but Mom always seemed pretty friendly with his mother. Mr. Stewart had offered me lessons a couple times at his karate studio, but I was already much further along with Jason and Trini and the others instructing me than other kids in my age range.

Billy had stopped by long enough to say hi to Mom, change and go to meet back up with the others. I thought about going also, but figured Mom might appreciate me staying. She did too, finding constant excuses to hug me, kiss me on the forehead or mess up my hair. We loaded up the provisions into the car and headed to the Stewart house. Turns out it wasn't that far away in a new subdivision. There were a few other cars there and people could be seen through the windows. I carried in most of the food myself, while Mom started conversing with everyone in sight. I recognized most of them from church and acknowledged the greetings of everyone who noticed me.

Mr. Stewart was sitting on his living room couch, surrounded by people offering help or condolences. He looked pale and sickly, almost oblivious to everything around him. Been there. Mom went to join while I looked for the kitchen. I found a little bit of empty space on the stove to deposit what I had because the table and all the counters were covered with crockpots, pans and plates overflowing with meals, side dishes and desserts. I then thought I heard a sniffling noise. From the pantry. I opened the door and found Justin sitting on the floor with his arms wrapped around his legs. A plate of unwrapped cookies was next to him, but his red eyes showed what he had really been doing in there. I was saddened for his loss of course, but I was in no mind set to tolerate Mom's friends or inflict them on a grieving child. "Do want to get out of here for a little while?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

King Mondo looked at the blue planet before him. He didn't particularly care for it but, according to Clank's reports, petroleum and oil business was a driving force in the planet's economy. It could provide good raw materials for his family and minions. He then glanced at his wife Machina. She listened more diligently to Clank's continued droning, but she was tapping the fan in her hand rather impatiently. He looked back to Earth. Mondo knew the decision to leave the United Alliance of Evil was the right decision ever since Dark Specter had begun his own moves in the neighboring galaxy. Specter was coming much too close to the galaxies under Machine Empire control and taking the Milky Way could continue his current reign of success and cut off Specter's potential future interests here.

"But Daddy, let me take a fleet of quadrifighters and I'll make these Power Rangers pay." Prince Sprocket was bouncing in anticipation but he was barely getting his frame a few centimeters from the ground.

Machina quit tapping her fan and turned to her son. "Now now dear, your father has already said not until tomorrow. He wants to finish inventorying our resources."

The universe was littered with heroes: Power Rangers, Knights, planetary warriors, not to mention more ancients forces like the Morphing Masters or the Tribunal of Magic. Some of these individuals, like this Zordon, had developed reputations throughout the known universe. In his conquests, Mondo had never had much competition to fight against, especially when he had the Democles Sword. Much as he never cared for Rita or Zedd, he knew enough about their reputations. They had power, the experience, the resources, and yet a group of underage humanoids defeated them time and again. But with his superior power, his greater experience and vaster resources it will be a much different story.

Orbus was floating near a wall interface when he started calling for his leaders. "Your highnesses, we have an incoming ship."

"This type of brazenness must be common in this galaxy." Electrical impulses were shooting up his spinal column, and Mondo started feeling exhilarated.

Machina was also intrigued. "Who dares? Anyone we know."
Orbus had now floated over to Clank and was sharing his sensor data. "It appears to be from the planet Edenoi."
Mondo retrieved an internal memory file on potential threats in this galaxy. "This must be Count Dregon."

The small ship flew in closer to their walkway. Once beside it, a plank extended from the hatch. Count Dregon appeared at the door, walked the length of the plank and stopped. He put his arms behind his back and looked down at the Machine rulers. "Your Majesties."

Neither Mondo or Machina liked Dregon for his impertinence, but that was what Clank was for. "How dare ya' be so rude! These are the rulers of the Machine Empire! You will be respectin' them."

Dregon turned his attention briefly to Clank. "I am merely here as a formality. I have business that has kept me here and Zedd knew well enough to stay out of my way. When I am finished I will be returning home."

Mondo accessed what information the Empire's network had on Dregon. "You may complete your business at your leisure." He then started to casually stride forward. "But you will remember one thing Count Dregon. You may be inheriting a planet once you've destroyed the Masked Rider, but know this: I have several galaxies under my control with a multitude of loyal lieutenants manning them. I am intent on claiming this one as well, which includes your home planet. As a future servant of mine, you may remember who you cross. Disrespect me or my family ever again and that gas planet will become a smoldering cinder."

~~~~~~~~

Justin and I walked for two blocks with no destination in particular. Mom had thought it was a wonderful idea for him to get out but Justin's father seemed to be in a perpetual state of shock. Justin was barely easier to get a any kind of response out of. The news of his loss was still fresh, so I couldn't push him. He needed to grieve whatever worked for him but at least somebody could try to be there for him in some way.

"So, do you want to go anywhere? Angel Haven usually has summer activities going on."
Justin shook his head no.
"A friend of mine was going to a yard sale. We might be able to catch up with him."
Justin shrugged.
"Do you need anything? Or want to talk about anything?"
Justin looked off in the distance before asking. "Why were those cops around your house all the time?"
That was unexpected. "Well, um, I was helping out the mayor. And a bad man came after her and I helped scare him off. The cops were just there to keep us safe."
"Is he coming back?" Justin wasn't scared, but did seem a little intrigued.
"No, you don't have to worry about him."
"But you can't be sure."
"I'm pretty sure."

With no better ideas, when I saw a yard sale sign I decided to follow it. Once there, Justin just hovered while I searched the tables. I found a Tor robot for $5. It was banged up and stickers were peeling, but over all in good shape. Mine. "Do you see anything you like?"

Justin didn't really answer, just picked up a random Transformer that was in front of him, looked at it and set it back down.

"Hi Dave."
I turned to the voice and just stopped. This very pretty girl with red hair was approaching me. She was smiling at me and the summer air started to get warmer. How does she know me? Did we meet in the alternate timeline?

She stopped in front of me and looked at Justin. "Who's this, your little brother?"

It took me a few seconds before I realized she was asking me. "Huh? No! No, this, this is Justin. Justin, this is--" Please answer for me, please answer for me.

"I'm Lucy."
Justin said "hi" but then walked away.

I never really knew how much I liked the name Lucy until that moment. I mean, it is one of the best names ever. "Don't be offended," I leaned in a little closer to whisper "his mother just passed away." She smells amazing. Flowery but not in a sickening type of overwhelming way.

"Oh that is so sweet of you. To be there for him."
She thinks I'm sweet. "How are you today?"
"Good, I just wanted to say thank you."
"For what?"
Lucy seemed curious, but an amused curious. "The book suggestions from yesterday. I caved and bought the Anne books and was so into the first one I read the whole thing in one sitting."

I was smiling at her, but was it a crazy smile? "You might want to pace yourself." I hope it isn't a creepy smile.

"I was thinking about getting these." Lucy then showed me VHS copies of 'Anne of Green Gables' and 'Anne of Avonlea'. "Since you're apparently a movie guru too, are these worth a dollar?"

"Absolutely. The first one is pretty faithful but takes a few liberties. The second one is a combination of parts from several of the sequel books so I would hold off until after you've read 'Windy Poplars'."

"Oh, I looked at that one. Is the whole thing written like letters sent back and forth?"
"Yeah, but if it bothers you, know that 'Lady Susan' is worse."
"You've read Jane Austen too? You really know your chick lit."
I defensively blurted "It was an assignment" but I immediately had a mental image of Miracle Max's wife from 'Princess Bride' screaming "Liar! Liarrrrr!"

"I thought you said you were a student librarian who liked to read."
How talkative was I in the alternate timeine? "That too."
"Tia and I were going to hang later. Maybe we'll see you around."
"Maybe. Yeah. Sure. Totally. If I can." I smiled again but gestured a thumb towards Justin.
She smiled back. "Right, of course. Well, bye."
I really liked how she walked away. Confident, yet swishy. And her hair literally bounces with each step.

Justin was now on the opposite side of the table, shaking his head in disapproval. "Gross."

"What?" How can one word sound so defensive? "Tell you what, let me check the long boxes to see if there are any good comics, and then we go grab a burger at Adelle's."

"I haven't been there. It's down town, so my mom wanted to make a day of it." Justin started to sadden again.

I glanced over at Lucy, who had just bought her movies and was walking away. But then I looked at Justin. "If that's what she wanted, then that is what we are going to do." I walked to him and put my arm around his shoulder. "But first, the long boxes await us."

Justin and I spent the rest of the afternoon together. After a brief stop at my house to drop off my purchases I indulged Justin in any whim I could get him to respond to in any affirmative way. We took the bus downtown to Adelle's restaurant where Justin barely touched the appetizer cheese sticks so I didn't order anything else there. I took him for milkshakes to help with the heat and that got me a fraction of a slight possible positive reaction. We walked along the beach and browsed tourist shops until it was almost closing time. He let me sign him up for activities at Angel Haven when we passed by on our way back to the bus stop. The sun was starting to set and the last thing I needed to do was get the kid in trouble for being out past dark.

As we headed back to his home Justin began to tense up and his face started to get pale. Before I could ask what was wrong, Justin ran to the front of the bus and demanded to get off. The driver barely slowed before Justin was pounding on the door. I offered up an open apology to everyone in general as Justin was finally let off. He went running into the park with me chasing after him. I was able to keep pace but there didn't seem to be a destination. Justin eventually started to slow down and, once he stopped, he slowly fell to his knees. He was crying really hard and starting to gasp for air. "Please... I can't... "

I still had some napkins from the milkshakes and handed one to Justin. "You have to at some point." I sat down right in front of him. "But it doesn't have to be right this minute."

Justin blew through half the napkins before his breathing came under control again. "She was sleeping. They wouldn't even let me see her."

"Do you think seeing her like that would have made you feel any better? I don't think it would."
"How would you know?"
"Because I watched someone die once." Even I was surprised by how blunt that came out. I had never spoken this openly about it before. Even with Billy I hadn't been completely forthcoming. Justin was just gawking at me now. "I was with him when he let out his last breath."

Justin's eyes were shimmering in the limited light, but I had his complete attention. "When?"
"Couple years ago."
"How -- how did you feel?"
"Startled. Shocked. Afraid. Sad. Horrified. Angry and frustrated. The combination of them washing over me made me kind of numb. And I was determined to do something about it."

Justin squatted into a more comfortable sitting position. "Like what? How did you deal with it?"

I blew up his killer, but that wouldn't apply here. But damn, it had been cathartic. "I attended the funeral, confided in my brother and a couple close friends about my feelings, and I spent many nights crying into my pillow."

"How about now? Do you think about him?"
"Just today I realized I hadn't thought about him in a while, when before I couldn't help but agonize over it every spare second of the day. Something like that is impossible to forget but I am starting to get past it. That's how I'm positive your mother wouldn't have wanted you to see her like that. Your father did see it and look at him now."

"But I don't want to forget her." Justin's throat cracked as he pleaded with me.

"Justin, I only knew my friend a few days and I will never forget him. There is absolutely no way you can ever forget your mother." I looked at Justin, and I wasn't sure how to console him. If he had wanted sympathy, he wouldn't have hidden from the church ladies. During everything with Kou, I had been treated like an adult so I was going to offer the same courtesy. "You are going to feel miserable for a while though."

"How long?"
"As long as you need to be. People are going to be offering sympathies and offering to help, but don't let them rush you. If you need to vent, do it. Cry, by all means. If you need space, take all you need." I now had a flashback to Zordon and how every time I felt frustrated and overwhelmed, especially after Daos, he had me take breaks. Damn his wiseness. "It will help to focus on the good stuff but you really need to do what is best for you."

Justin turned his head to look off toward the lake. The darkness had fallen on us and his face was unreadable in silhouette. This kid has had his entire life changed and I dropped a personal bomb of my own on top of him. After several minutes Justin finally stood up and said "I think I need my dad right now."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Linn stood on the forward balcony of her castle. The aroma of turned soil was all she could smell and it was invigorating even from a great distance.

"What is that smell?" Ryu approached with a mortified expression.

Linn shook her head. "Farming season has begun. With the new equipment we were able to get we can increase production of the grain crops. Expand and increase trade opportunities."

"That's why I'm here." Ryu handed a letter to his queen while using his other hand to cover his nose. "There is an orchard east of the capital city that is requesting to expand. This is their proposal."

Linn began to read. "Why is this being brought to my attention?"
"Apparently a majority of the land they want to expand onto is part of the royal holdings."

Linn finished and handed it back. "We'll agree, but reduce our profit margin by a quarter and we will maintain proprietary rights of the land itself. Have Kaizu go with you."

"He hasn't returned yet. He found a shop in the city that he wants to open as a new hair salon."
"Daigo?"
"He went with. Daigo might be opening a pet salon to go with it."
"Shoji?"
"He's off training somewhere. He wanted to try out for 'Galaxy Warriors' but I spent most of yesterday talking him out of it."

"Wow." Linn turned to look back at the vista around them. "When did that happen?"
Ryu stood next to her and leaned on the railing. "When did what happen?"
"When did the team disband and go their separate ways?"

"I think it started after Lord Zedd blew up our planet and we realized we were never going back."
"But the mission--"
"The mission is over. It has been ever since David Cranston destroyed the last Emperor. We have no powers, no zords and no pressing enemies. Our days as Power Rangers are over."

Linn had never really liked people arguing with her. She hated it even more now that she was Queen. "Our scientists have been trying to re-energize our morphers."

"They've had an entire planetary orbit and they have made no progress."
"I've been speaking with some Eltaran representatives and even some Space Patrol delegates. They've given me some promising ideas."

"Bureaucrats seeking opportunity. Or possibly patronizing a ruling monarch without upsetting her."
Linn gripped the railing in frustration. "So, what now?"
Ryu joined her at the railing and placed his hands down. "Move forward. New adventures and new opportunities await. Don't you think being Queen is enough?"

"So does this mean you're leaving me too? Get a job at a restaurant?"
"I'm eager to explore whatever comes next."
It was then that Linn noticed that Ryu's hand was on top of hers. She smiled.
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Old February 17th, 2019, 04:01 AM #4
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Part 3

I got Justin home just fine with no more disruption. Some out of town friends of the family had arrived and Mom had stayed to wait for me. When it became clear that no one in the house was paying much attention to him, Justin went up to his room alone. I felt bad again for the kid but didn't know what more I could do for him. The ride home was quiet and I was feeling wiped out as I rested my head on the window. Mom told me to go straight to bed and send my brother to help her carry in her dishes.

After issuing Billy his orders, I grabbed a Lunchable and went to my room. So much was going on (Again!) and I was going to not let myself be overwhelmed. I snacked and used my feet to move the action figures from the middle of floor to along the wall and up against furniture. There! An attempt was made. At least I can walk freely. It was still relatively early but I turned in anyway. I decided if I got up early enough I could check on the Thunder zords before school. I did as planned and was I suprised that Billy had the same idea. There he was, removing primary components from the zords and had them scattered in the hangar bay. I was immediately furious when I confronted him about it.

"No."
"Why?"
"No!"
"Be reasonable."
"NO!" I grabbed my brother and teleported us back home.

Billy shrugged off my hand. "That was unnecessary."
"Really?! You can't understand why I might have a problem with this?"
"I had some ideas I wanted to implement about the new zords. I wanted to see if it would be easier to utilize preexisting --"

"I am seperating those zords from the power coins and I am sending them home."

Billy at first opened his mouth to continue arguing, but finally nodded in comprehension. "Okay. I'm sorry if I touched a nerve. I'll focus on simulations for now but if it comes down to your experiments and my constructing, my task will have to take priority."

I understood but still had an urge to kick him in the nads. Any further discourse was interrupted by Dad calling us to the kitchen.

"Well look at the two of you, up early and ready to go," Dad said, admiring us from over his newspaper.

Mom was back into her Uber-Homemaker mode and had whipped up a breakfast feast: waffles, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, hash browns and a rainbow of fruits. She even had out cereals, different syrups and three kinds of juice to accommodate any desire. "Look at my boys." Mom gave us both a quick squeeze as she brought the coffee pot to the table. Her smile was genuine. "Two studious upperclassmen."

I let that sink in as I sat down to consume mass quantities. Billy and the Rangers were Seniors now. What about after graduation? I knew Billy had feelers to a ton of schools, with Angel Grove University a strong possibility. U of C Angel Grove was further across town but they were also a contender. Apparently the parents had been looking into it, and some very prestigious universities were calling. Even the Ivy League were sniffing around Billy. He had so many that he was having trouble deciding. I had barely glanced at any of the brochures that were littered around the school and at home. I had no idea about the plans of the others.

Since it was still a little early, Billy and I walked to school. Since I felt like a bloated whale it was probably a good call. "I'm so not ready for this."

"I get it. This was going to be my last summer of freedom."
"I don't even know what grades I got last term."
"I'm sure you did great."
"That's not the point Mr. Four-Point-Oh. I feel like I time traveled into the future."
"We kind of did."
"All of this is just so disorienting."
"This is technically my third timeline in just a few days. All we can do is to push forward."

As we got closer to Angel Grove High, Billy began telling me his plans. Since the Zeo powers were so ancient, he wanted to maintain a mythical quality to the zords. I vaguely recalled Tommy mentioning some mythology studies and wondered if he retained any of it. We split at the entrance as I genuinely wanted to check what my grades had been. I found Mr. Caplan readjusting his toupee in the main administration office. I made my request to him and he sent me to the main secretary, Mrs. Quarters.

"It's the weirdest thing. We have been having all kinds of technical problems. The tech support people can't make heads or tails of it. Everyday, the computers crash if we try to access anything from before this summer." Mrs. Quarters was clearly frazzled.

As I left the office, the school had started filling up. So, I headed for the gym to get a good seat. At the entrance, I found some slightly nervous Freshman. "It's about time you guys finally got here."

Paul, Ajay, Marcus and Troy were huddled together but all eagerly turned to me with joy. With high fives and arm punches their nervous energy was gone. I was happy too. I was finally going to school with my closest friends again.

"Could you guys be any lamer?"

Ajay responded with an almost laugh of "Holy crap."

We all turned to see Delmar Crandal. The time loop certainly affected him. He had grown several inches, but in turn he had lost his heft. But it was the clothes that were surprising. Suspenders pulling up his pants so you got a whole two inches of visible ankle. Tight turtleneck and thick, round glasses. He looked like a white Steve Urkel.

Everybody was desperately trying not to laugh. "Bold fashion choices, Delmar," said Paul.

"Well, Cranston is the biggest nerd I've ever known. And you always seem to get away with everything, getting attention that you don't deserve. Now, everyone will be fawning over the greatness that is me."

That was some real Bulk and Skull type of logic right there. "I also don't feel the need to dress like extra from 'Revenge of the Nerds'."

Crandal hovered over me, as if to try and intimidate me. "I plan to rule this place. And if that means taking you down a peg or two, I'll be glad to point out how much of a loser you really are."

That does it. I glanced around me and noticed some friendly faces. "Hey, Thomas! Matthew! Bobby, can you guys come here for a second?" My calls had gotten the attention of three starting football players. They acknowledged me with greetings and salutations. "Guys, this Freshman is giving me attitude. An example may need to be made."

All three jocks turned on Delmar, and before he could whimper in fear he was raised in the air and pinned against the lockers. Delmar struggled but his frame was no match for three very muscular athletes. "My father is the chief of police."

Matthew smirked, "I know, he gave me a ticket once."

Delmar paled at this. His one trump card was played and failed.

Marcus whispered, "This isn't going to be a 'Dazed and Confused' type of thing is it?"

I shook my head no before turning to my grade school tormenter. "You see Delmar, things are different now. The playground bullying crap is really ineffective. Almost everyone here tries to get along. Be friends with everybody. But there still can be a pecking order." I pointed to myself and said "Upperclassman." I pointed to him and "Fresh meat" was not a name he liked. "Thank you guys, but he's not worth it." Delmar was released and made a quick exit from view. With him gone, I introduced my older friends to my Senior friends. "Guys, this is Paul, you might want to introduce him to your Paul and try to convince him to take up track again. This is Troy, soccer is his thing but if you asked nicely you might be able to replace your kicker. Ajay here can run math statistics better than I can." This was a lie, but it did make my friend smile. "And Marcus can quote every sports movie ever made." With just those few remarks, my friends were on the social register. Everyone exchanged pleasantries until Mr. Caplan started paging over the intercom.

Everyone finally entered the gym. I pointed the guys to the Freshman section while I headed over to the other Juniors. I saw Ashley sitting on the main basketball court with the other cheerleaders and I gave her a wave. I saw Billy up in the bleachers with the other Rangers, and it was weird to see him in a beige sweatshirt. None of his original Ranger friends were here and he had no powers himself. I waved to others as I found a spot to sit and began to run things through my mind some more. Everything was just, well, weird.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mayor Carrington had been feeling disoriented for more than a day now. Maria was concerned for her of course but was limited in what she could do. Her grandmother wasn't in pain or anything but had an overwhelming feeling that something may not have been right. Maria had gone over the appointment schedule for the last few days with Diane and the older woman couldn't remember any of it. The last thing a city under constant duress needed was a Mayor with less than all her faculties.

Diane got up in frustration and poured herself a glass of water. One of the Mayor's personal lines began to ring and Maria dutifully answered it. "Mayor Carrington's office." The man had a thick accent but was understandable. "Hold please." She looked at her grandmother and wondered how personal this could be. "Mayor, you have an international call on line three. He says to just tell you that it's Barry."

"Really!" Diane's face lit up as she took the receiver. "Barry, is that really you? It's been forever." She then gave a backhanded wave good-bye to Maria. With only a glance, Diane dismissed her with a "That's it for now."

With the amount of responsibilities expected of an appointed official, Maria understood that she needed to interact with her grandmother at work on a professional level. But moments like that, where she was treated just like hired help, were infrequent but greatly angered her. Maria closed the office door, dropped her notepad and the Mayor itinerary on her desk with a huff, and sat with frustration in her desk chair. The Mayor had gotten quite cold and distant ever since her Japanese friend visited and the Cranston kid quit. Maybe the phone guy would warm her up. That then gave Maria a disgusting visual she immediately wanted purged from her brain.

Maria sat for several minutes, letting all the calls go to the answering machine while she pondered which of her grandmother's credit cards was going to pay for her very long lunch and afternoon shopping excursion. She briefly wished the kid was back, if only to pawn off a few duties to him. It wasn't until she heard the office's door knob turn that Maria started to pretend to work on the computer.

Diane came out, coat and briefcase in hand, her face and demeanor was determined. "Maria, cancel whatever you were planning to do to get back at me as you will need to stay here for the rest of the day. I apologize for my abruptness but I need to go see somebody. I also need you to track down as much background information on this girl." The mayor gave Maria a slip of paper. As she tossed her coat over her arm and started to leave, she called back "I will be checking my account balances."

Maria rolled her eyes. She was still annoyed but her flash of anger had dissipated. She then wondered how important this kid was. The paper read Tanya Sloane.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kenya! Zack still couldn't believe he was here. Stories about his family heritage (in addition to multiple viewings of 'Roots') had instilled in him a desire to see Africa, the mother continent. The weather was a little dry but not unlike what he was used to in California. The animals, the tall grasses, the slender trees, and if he closed his eyes long enough, Zack swore he could smell salt water from the ocean in the air. He genuinely felt like he was coming home.

What Zack wan't used to was getting bounced around in the passenger side of a truck. It was making him feel nauseus, like he had a couple days ago. But the hectic manner and multiple flights that it took to get here hadn't helped. Since he was the only black member of the five Peace Conference delegates, he was the only one who hadn't been hassled upon arrival by the locals and they were already looking to him for guidance. As if he knew how things operated here, just because. Three of his companions were squeezed into the partial space behind the truck seat as they were the skinniest. But the fourth, a girl named Constance, had gotten the middle spot in the front and was the only one who complained.

As the driver arrived at their destination, Zack was confused for the first time. He was expecting a village with more stereotypical huts and tribal locals. What he found was multiple modular buildings of various sizes surrounded by tons of tents. The truck stopped outside one of the larger modular buildings. A group of men and one woman with a clipboard appeared to be waiting for them. Their driver got out and waved the waiting men to the back of the truck. Not waiting for Zack first, Constance had slid out on the driver's side and immediately pulled out her cell phone for a signal. Zack got out, pulled forward the seat and assisted the gratefully cramped threesome from the back.

Clipboard woman, giving Constance a confused expression, smiled to the others. "Hello everyone, my name is Karen Campbell. I help administrate the civilians here and will be doling out jobs and responsibilities. You may have primary daily tasks, but everyone will be needed to pitch in. I am also a former college professor, so I will assisting in tutoring you in your audit classes. My husband Phillip is a lawyer and can help as well, but he is occupied at the moment."

Karen had them gather their bags and took the group to the barrack shelter. After stowing their gear, she then showed them the grounds: the kitchen/mess hall, offices, research labs, the different medical labs for people and animals. "We do routinely go back into town, so if you have any personal or even religous things to take care of, just let us know."

Everyone acknowledged this, but Constance said "I'm an atheist, but I'll need a car."

Karen eyeballed the girl for a second, before continuing, "We also try to be cooperative when we can to others who are conducting there own studies. Zuberi! Aisha! Could you come here for a moment?" An African man came forward, dressed in simple khaki shorts, t-shirt, hiking boots and a vest with the UN logo on it. Despite his gray hair, he physcially did not look old. "This is Zuberi Mganga, he runs this site and several others. Some of them are the ones I mentioned before about coordinating research. He may not be around much as he also appropriates funding in addition to his own pursuits. And this is my daughter Aisha, she is one of the vet techs."

Zack gave the daughter a once over. Long dreadlocks pulled back, tight yellow tank top and jean shorts that hugged her comfortably. He also had the strangest feeling that he had seen her before. Aisha noticed the look, crossed her arms, and returned a much more disapproving stare. As she did this, Zack noticed her wrist, or more precisely, the communicator that rested on it. Karen suggested the group go back to their barracks to freshen up or rest and when to be in the kitchen for meal preperation.

Aisha turned to leave also, but Zack ran in front of her. "Hey, Aisha."
"Not interested." She tried to move around him.
"Nice watch. Rare, aren't they."
"You could say that," said Aisha, trying to ignore his presence.
"But I bet you got yours-" Zack showed his own wrist "-from the same guy who made mine."
Aisha gasped in recognition. She then looked at him again. "You're..."
"Yep."

Even though they didn't know each other, they shook hands like old friends reuniting would.
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Old February 23rd, 2019, 10:58 PM #5
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Looks pretty cool.
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Old March 19th, 2019, 02:12 AM #6
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The last few days had been miserable. The only being who was remotely happy for the pregnancy was Master Vile. Zedd and his minions were completely frazzled by the time they arrived from Earth. Rita's scream was grating under the best of circumstances, but combined with the pain of the growing fetus inside her, she was a nightmare. Physicians couldn't understand why the fetus was growing so rapidly as it was causing Rita extreme pain. A dark priestess was finally able to explain that since the child was conceived under a temporal spell it was having sporadic bursts of aging. Master Vile conjured a time dilated pocket dimension with Akomaru's help that would hopefully ease her pains. Akomaru used the opportunity to ingratiate himself upon the future grandpa.

"It's no trouble at all, I gladly offer myself and my service women to your useage."

Master Vile stomped his staff, "As long as you remain here, you are already at my whim. The question is, why are you still here?"

Akomaru really didn't want to answer that question. He had power, but no kingdom. He had five competent warriors but no army. So, he was sucking up to someone who had what he needed. "To learn from an experienced and powerful master such as yourself is a great honor."

"Too true," responded Vile as he reclined on his throne.

"You have your daughter and future grandson to worry about now. Your son needs to returned from Earth. Even one as capable and important as you needs to focus on what is important. All I wish is to continue the position you have entrusted to me as Overseer and serve at your discretion."

"You have done well enough here."
"But of course, I would understand if you wished to appoint your son-in-law to my post..."
"NO!" Vile launched himself up from his throne. "No, no no. You may continue for now."

Finster came rushing into the throne room, bouncing with glee with every step. "Master Vile, wonderful news. Rita's pain has lessened greatly and she is resting comfortably."

Lord Zedd and Scorpina entered shortly afterward, conversing quietly. Akomaru was starting to think that something might be going on but also didn't want to vomit from thinking about it too much. Zedd reluctantly stepped forward, rubbing his hands together. "I want to... to... thank you. For what you have done for Rita."

Zedd clearly hadn't wanted to say that but did anyway. Vile was impressed. "My daughter will always be welcome here. If she wishes you here, then you may stay as well."

Akomaru eyes flicked back and forth between them. Zedd getting along with his father-in-law was preposterous but right there was a beginning. That didn't bode well. He saw Scorpina smirking behind Zedd. No doubt she encouraged this. "What about Earth?" The whole room turned to look at him. "Rito and Goldar are still there. The Machine Empire is now laying claim to territory you all have spent years trying to take. What are you going to do about it?"

Master Vile pondered the query. "While I would normally encourage such bloodlust, Rita must take my priority. I have never been able to take the Machine Empire in combat and don't have anything right now that could take them on."

"Serpenterra could," said Zedd.
"Yes, it could," commented Finster. "But Serpenterra still has the same problem it always has."

This could be interesting. "Which is what?" asked Akomaru.

"For a zord of it's size, it needs a tremendous amount of power to operate it's systems. Especially the offensive capabilities. It sat unused for centuries when Lord Zedd failed to capture the Zeo crystals."

"Enough Finster." After berating his servant, Zedd began rubbing his skinless arms.

To Akomaru, the solution was obvious. "Then shrink it."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


The last few days were weird. I was able to focus on school which was still easy. Having actual conversations with my friends for more than a few minutes was bordering on strange. The only problem was the same friends who had been giving me crap about not being around the last couple of years were opting to hang out with their new older friends. Adina claimed to have "found her people" with the drama club. Ajay dragged Marcus into joining a few academic clubs and both wanted to move into the new study and research center. Troy and Paul both went out for several sports, but Paul spent more time trying to flirt with cheerleaders. Tia joined an environmental club and Kimberly's former flower club. I even built up the nerve to hang with Lucy, but when she wasn't cheerleading or in volleyball, she was always with Tia or Adina. I didn't have an afterschool job anymore. Mom will be pushing to be more involved in activities again.

Billy's presence in the brand new and largely automated Power Chamber made me superfluous. I was able to drag my big brother away from his zord project just long enough to do the medical scans on me. Billy got the same results as I had. Nothing was wrong with me. But unlike before, I could still manifest a power. I could make sparks. My Captain Planet Wheeler action figure can do the same thing.

Billy went back to work while I remained in the main Chamber. It looks like I would have plenty of time for reading now. I decided to start archiving the adventures of time traveling clone Thomas. While it was interesting, and definitely fascinating, I found myself just staring more and more at the White Ranger costume.

Alpha 5 tapped me on my arm. "Come with me." He was holding an empty containment cylinder. He led me into the corridor and next to a 'Vortex' door.

"You have still never explained what these are."
"Just think of the vault," said Alpha while pushing on a wall panel control.

The door opened and I stared into the swirling green emptiness. I allowed myself to think of the power vault. The green mass then flowed out so quickly I was surrounded before I could blink. It was like being surrounded by a fog that was the color of snot. And then it was gone and I was standing in the vault. Alpha was still with me and the cylinder cannister was now full of the green substance. It was also billowing a white gas off of it too.

"What just happened?"
Alpha 5 walked over to a preset table. I could see the damaged Dino Morphers and a variety of scanners, tools and the Sword of Light. "You just entered the morphing grid."

"How?"
"The morphing grid can tapped in a variety of different ways: technologically, magically, even naturally for beings like Zordon. It can manifest in different ways also."

"So that, and that," I gestured toward the cannister, "are what, a plasma state?"
"Essentially yes. This is the same substance used in the zords for them to undergo their morphing changes."

I had seen it dozens of times but had never given it much thought. There were so many systems in the zords I just always focused on whatever I was specifically working on. "What is going on here?"

"Dave, it's also a power conductor."

This was the missing link I needed. It all clicked in my head. According to Zordon, Master Vile had used his energy to link the Zeo crystals to the Ninja zords. Due to how Ninjor created the Ninja coins and my own tinkering, they were connected to the Dino coins. So, the Zeo crystals had a connection to the Dino coins. Maybe the link could be strong enough to jumpstart the coins. And the Sword of Light has the specific ability to transfer Ranger powers. While Alpha retrieved the Zeo crystals, I wrote out our plans on a dry erase board.

5 - Red - T-Rex / Red Dragon
4 - Green - Dragonzord
3 - Blue - Triceratops / Unicorn
2 - Yellow - Sabretooth / Griffin
1 - Pink - Pteradactyl / Firebird
? - Black - Mastadon / Lion
? - White - Tiger


Green should be easy, since this coin was still relatively in good shape and power. Red I also had high hopes for since it was one of two coins that came out of the first fight with Rito unscathed. I don't know what we were going to do about Black and White.

I placed the Sword inside a container that more closely resembled a fish tank. I think it was the same container from when Katherine got the Rangers out of being trapped inside bricks. Alpha handed me the Red Zeo subcrystal and I placed it with the Sword. Alpha then dumped the plasma into the tank as well. The plasma began to glow in alternating colors, like Christmas tree lights of green, white and red. Alpha went to a console for a readout. "The plasma is charging. Put in the morpher."

I picked up the Tyrannosaurus morpher and placed it in the tank. The glowing shifted to varying shades of red with the occasional green.

"I am picking up a steady energy transfer," said Alpha.

I rushed to the console to confirm for myself. I then hugged Alpha "You did it." Just as we began to celebrate, the red light in the tank dimmed back to green plasma. "What happened?"

The robot's head shook. "I don't know. We both confirmed it. Where did the power go?"

A few seconds later, Billy paged us over the communicator. "Alpha, Dave, are you working on something?"
I found a comm button on the console and opened a line. "Yeah. Why?"

"Because I heard a loud noise down in the secondary hangar. I went to see and the Red Dragon and the Tyrannosaurus zords have separated."

I rushed to the hangar to see for myself. Alpha beat me there by using a Vortex door. Sure enough, there stood the Tyrannosaurus zord. I was overjoyed and Alpha jumped up and down.

Billy was doing his own inspection. "Whatever it is you did, it triggered the separation sequence."

"Well, that's where the power went." But why did it stop?
"Dave, if you keep this up the room is going to get crowded real quick."
I couldn't help but keep smiling. "Send it back to it's resting home. Alpha, we have work to finish."

We returned to the Vault via a Vortex door and it was less disorienting this time. I rushed to the tank and removed the crystal and morpher. The process had stopped itself, so I made the assumption that was all it could handle for now. Alpha agreed with me. Since it was next on my list, I placed the Green sub-crystal. The tank started to glow a much brighter green. So far, so good. I then took the Dragonzord coin from my pocket and dropped it in.

The disappointment was obvious in Alpha's voice. "Nothing is happening. No transfer underway."

I removed the coin. "Maybe it needs the whole thing. Morpher too." I placed the coin behind my back and assumed a morphing stance. My actions summoned the morpher and the coin was inside. I put the morpher in the tank and waited. Still nothing. We repeated the process three more times for the other colors. A miniscule amount of power was confirmed as transferred for those colors, but it was so low it was almost not worth mentioning. "Why didn't this work?"

"Maybe the morphers and coins are too damaged to take the amount of power that the sub-crystals generate. I definitely wouldn't advise a Ranger trying to morph with one."

"So the coins themselves need fixed. Where is Zordon? I haven't noticed him all day."
"He's off-planet, communicating with some allies."
"Well, then I guess I'm going back to the only other expert we know. We need Ninjor. Again."

~~~~~~~~~
"Tommy actually fought Zedd!" Zack was astonished.

Aisha handed him a wet plate. "Yep. He didn't actually lay a hand on him, but yeah, they fought."

The two of them were alone in the kitchen doing dishes. When he went to Switzerland, Zack had Jason and Trini. In Africa, he lucked out and met the only other African-American Ranger he knew of. And even though he barely knew Aisha, her presence made him more comfortable and adjusting that much easier. "Was this before or after My Main Brain Billy took out a giant monster solo?"

"Before. Katherine had just joined the team when Billy did that."
"Jason or Tommy, I've seen it before. But Billy?"
"He's really grown since you left. He's more confident and comfortable with himself. When ever Tommy wasn't able, he had no problem stepping up and taking charge."

"Sounds more like Dave than Billy."
"Dave was always around, but he was usually off doing his own thing."
"That sounds about the same. How was Kim? When Trini said she left too I couldn't believe it."

"Half the time she was being attacked by Rita and Zedd, then she was sick, or overexerting herself. It was pretty rough before she left."

"What about you? Why did you leave?"
"Once in a lifetime opportunity to help save the world. Without superpowers. Sound familiar?"

They were both laughing over this when Aisha's mother walked in. "Are you two finished?"

Zack dried his hands with a towel. "Finishing now Mrs. Campbell."
"Thank you. Aisha, may I have a word?"

Zack handed her the towel to dry her own hands. Aisha did, gave it back to him, then gave him a good night. She headed out with her mother. "Hi Mom."

Once they were outside, Karen made her disapproval known. "I don't think you should be getting too close to him."

"Come on, Mom. He's from Angel Grove. We have the same friends."
"Mm hm. Just listen to me Baby Girl, we are having a family experience. You are getting a once in a lifetime opportunity. I just don't want you to throw it away for a boy."

"Oh, that is NOT happening. For sure."
Mrs. Campbell was not completely convinced, but it was enough for now. She spotted movement from the corner of her eye. "Mr. Mganga is still up." She took a few steps closer to see him.

Zuberi Mganga poked his head out the window, telephone in hand. "Good night ladies." He smiled as he closed the window.

-------

Zuberi Mganga watched the two women walk away. It wasn't until they were out of sight that he went back to his desk. On his computer monitor, he could still see Zack putting the finishing touches in the kitchen. On his desk, was a notepad with names scrawled on it next to an Angel Grove High yearbook. "I got incredibly lucky tonight. Yes, I think I've identified a few more."

Mganga flipped open the yearbook to a page labeled 'BON VOYAGE'. "Three students were chosen to go overseas. I can now confirm that those three individuals were indeed named Trini Kwan, Jason Scott and Zack Taylor. I've cross-referenced several of the names to the likeliest possibilities. In addition to Aisha Campbell, add Billy Cranston, Rocky DeSantos, Kimberly Hart, Tommy Oliver and Adam Park. The last one, David, is a little harder to figure." Mganga flipped from the Juniors pages to the Sophomores. "The likeliest candidate would appear to be David Cranston, brother to Billy. We also need to check on a Katherine, unknown if it a 'C' or 'K' spelling. Contact me tomorrow if confirmable." Mganga hung up the phone and closed the yearbook. He tapped the name on the cover. "Thank you Aisha."
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