On Eagle's Wings
There was a bounce in his step as Jason strode into the crowded halls of Angel Grove High Monday morning. He wore a smile that, for the first time in days, was purely genuine.
Finally, after all the torment he had suffered since Tommy first lost his Green Ranger powers, the leader of the Power Rangers was at peace.
No more guilt, no more relentless questions. He had proven he was a capable leader, rather than a useless flop.
And strangely enough, he had Lord Zedd and Goldar to thank for his renewed self-esteem.
In an admittedly inspired plan, the reigning Emperor of Evil decided to capitalize on Jason's feelings of inadequacy by targeting the four remaining Power Rangers. He managed to kidnap Kimberly, Zack, Trini, and Billy while en route to visit Tommy, and forged magical waxen candles to drain them of their Morphin' powers as well.
Once again, Jason had to face Goldar to save his teammates. But, much to the surprise of his opponents, Jason was able to pull together enough to emerge victorious.
Zedd had inadvertently given Jason the opportunity to redeem himself of the failures he had made with Tommy.
Jason felt completely renewed. He forced himself to face the demons of failure, in order to cleanse his mind for the situation at hand.
He couldn't succumb to doubts with four dear friends on the line.
And he finally learned that he was a capable leader. No, he wasn't perfect... but he did succeed when it really counted.
And that helped him look at the Green Ranger catastrophe with new eyes.
True, Tommy's powers were stolen by the Green Candle. But Jason did manage to save his dear friend's life, by leaving the Candle behind.
It was a difficult decision, but in the end, what was more important: his best friend, or a coin?
Yes, the Green Ranger was gone forever. But Tommy Oliver was alive and well, and ready to live out his life as a normal person. He was free from the responsibilities of being a Ranger, and he had been able to make up for the destruction he had caused as Rita's pawn early in his career.
He had a clean slate, and Jason finally recognized that Tommy was okay. Sure, he missed being part of a team, but he had made true friends in the process.
The friendships he had forged amongst the Rangers would live far beyond the extent of their Ranger careers.
"Jason, you're looking well this morning."
Jason grinned, and turned to Billy, who stood with Trini at the latter's locker. Both Rangers eagerly returned their leader's smile.
"Absolutely," Trini commented, giving Jason a tight hug, "It's great to have you back!"
"I feel like... me again!" Jason sighed. "It's amazing. I'm finally free of all the guilt I've been carrying around."
"You should never had let yourself sink so low," Trini chided gently, "We're your friends! We're supposed to lighten your burden, not add to it."
Jason nodded, a small smirk on his face. "I realize that now. I don't need to alienate myself from my friends."
He had learned that lesson in part a few days ago, when he confided somewhat in that girl from his Chemistry class.
"I'm satisfied that you're not thinking about it so much," Billy commented, glancing at his watch, "While I'm certainly cerebral, analyzing problems one can't solve is pointless, and terribly stressful."
He then touched Trini's shoulder, and gestured to the stairs. "We still have a few minutes. We can probably catch up with Mr. Hepsburg about that aerodynamics project."
Trini nodded, waving at Jason as the pair hurried to their destined classroom. Jason leaned against the lockers, a pensive frown on his face.
That girl had advised him not to think about it. The same one that reached out to him earlier that day, right before Goldar and Zedd struck. She had followed him out of the Youth Center, only trying to help him see how useless all his worrying really was.
Of course, he didn't see. He didn't want to see. Perhaps, he wasn't ready to just accept his faults and move on.
But that didn't excuse how rudely he treated her the last time he saw her.
I'd better apologize, he decided, I shouldn't have brushed her off. She didn't deserve that.
He tried to remember her name. She didn't introduce herself when they met outside the weight room; but she had already known who he was.
He did recognize her from Chemistry class, though. She sat in the back, next to Angela.
Angela would know who she is, he realized, a smile returning to his face, I think I've seen them together at the Juice Bar.
His plan of action decided, Jason hurried to Angela's locker, where he'd seen Zack hover many times before.
* * *
Her legs felt like lead. Her backpack felt heavy enough to be carrying a bowling ball or two. Her eyes stung, begging her to just close her eyelids and give them rest.
That was easily the worst night's sleep Alexis had ever experienced.
She exhaled slowly as she weakly pushed open the bathroom door. She braced herself as she made her way to the sink, and leaned to the mirror.
Her eyes were still the deep emerald green she was familiar with.
"Thank God," she sighed inwardly, shaking her head. She then dug into her backpack for a brush and hastily touched up her hair in an attempt to appear somewhat normal.
"Something tells me this isn't going to be a good day," she muttered, heaving her bag onto her back. She then exited the bathroom, weaving her way through groups of students to reach her locker.
To her surprise, she saw a familiar form in red leaning against it.
"Jason?" she gawked. Still, as the name passed through her mouth, her lips automatically curved into a smile.
Her heart leapt when he met her gaze with a warm grin.
"Morning, Alexis," he greeted, moving out of her way. She stared at him incredulously, standing before her locker.
"How'd you know where my locker was?"
"I asked around," he confessed with a shrug.
"Really?" Alexis asked, her smile widening, "Why?"
"I wanted to apologize for being rude to you outside the Youth Center last week. I just wasn't myself that day."
Alexis nodded. "I know where you're coming from. And you're 'yourself' now?"
Jason nodded proudly. "Absolutely. I think I've gotten over my... issues."
Alexis couldn't help mirror his elated expression. "That's really terrific, Jason. Congratulations."
Then the first bell rang, alerting the students to go to homeroom.
"I still feel I need to thank you for your help," Jason decided.
Alexis shook her head, opening her locker. "You just did."
Jason shrugged. "Well, not enough. How about a smoothie after school? I could show you what you missed in Chemistry when you went to your grandmother's birthday party."
Alexis startled, turning to him in shock. "How'd you know that?"
Jason grinned mysteriously. "I have my ways. So, I'll meet you here at three?"
She giggled. "Sounds terrific."
"See you in Chem!" Jason called, hurrying down the hall. Alexis continued to shake her head in disbelief as she absently fished through her locker's contents.
Maybe this wouldn't be such an awful day after all.
* * *
"Aye yi yi," Alpha whispered, his stubby fingers tapping away at various buttons. He then pushed a switch, causing the scanner to hum to life.
He still couldn't believe it. The Purple Coin? But... how? True, the Power Coins were much more than pieces of metal. They were magically forged, designed to channel incredible power beyond mortal understanding. They were a reflection of the ultimate Power. It wasn't so impossible for a Power Coin to survive an explosion, even one that had put an end to Rita Repulsa's wicked schemes for ten thousand years.
But the "how" of the matter wasn't what really bothered Zordon's faithful assistant. The real question was... why?
Why had the coin mysteriously appeared now?
Ten thousand years was quite a long time, and it couldn't take the coin that long to return to Earth.
Why couldn't Zordon sense its existence before? When Kreia had destroyed the Moon Palace, Zordon lost all connection with the Purple Ranger. It wasn't just that the physical coin was gone, but the energy behind it seemed to be muted somehow.
Everyone had assumed it was part of the Ascension. Not only had she nearly killed Rita and her henchmen, but she razed the magical palace and killed herself in the process. She expended the full extent of the Purple energies, far beyond the limits a Power Ranger should have. The intensity of the Ascension caused Zordon to redesign the Morphin' Grid, to ensure that the five remaining Rangers would never be able to Ascend.
But there was no evidence that Kreia had died in the explosion. When Alpha and the others had explored the ravaged moon, they couldn't find a sign of Kreia or Erol. They had assumed the two were obliterated.
After all, there was no possible way Erol, even within the protective shell of the Green armor, could have survived. And as for Kreia... well... she couldn't have fared better.
They knew that because young Kreia wasn't the first Power Ranger to Ascend. There was one before her... of the generation before her. That Ranger was the one that defeated the Shadow Lord of the Morpheonites.
His name was Ghedaliah, the Red Power Ranger.
Alpha didn't know him... he was sent to Earth after the historic battle. But during the years he served Regita, he had heard the former Purple Ranger tell the story of that great battle many times.
The Shadow Lord was all but omnipotent. He had armies of otherworldly monsters, fierce generals eager to do his bidding, as well as the unspeakable power of his magical crystal. So many dozens of Rangers had died trying to destroy him.
Regita's story still caused the small robot to tremble. The battle, long and fierce, against an unbeatable opponent. Still, the seven Rangers were determined to do their utmost.
The Shadow Lord had made the deadly mistake of challenging the Rangers to their limit. He had somehow discovered the true identities of the Rangers, and his thirst for information led him to their families.
In a show of immeasurable wickedness, the Shadow Lord had determined to execute every single person remotely connected to the Rangers.
Ghedaliah's loved ones were the first to suffer. The despot had killed everyone... the Red Ranger's family, friends, and even the religious shrine that he had dedicated so many prayers to.
The emptiness that filled Ghedaliah's heart pushed him over the edge. His rage was unspeakable as he challenged the Shadow Lord, within the very palace of the alien ruler. The other Rangers, as well as Zordon himself, followed the brash young man, and the resulting cataclysmic fight was truly a show of power the likes of which the Earth had never seen, nor would see again. If it weren't for Zordon, the Rangers wouldn't have lasted long at all against such a foe.
But Zordon had died... or rather, his body was destroyed. To the Rangers, though, it seemed their beloved mentor and father-figure had perished, in an effort to save his children.
That was the final straw for Ghedaliah.
White light cracked his red armor, which instantly flashed the core Rangers' armor out of existence. Suddenly, the humans were severed from the Morphin' Grid. All save Ghedaliah, and the Purple and Green Rangers, were completely helpless, and struck silent in awe.
His power erupted like a volcano, morphing his physical body and immersing him in a blinding whiteness.
That was the last Regita had seen of his friend Ghedaliah. It was also the last he ever saw of the Shadow Lord.
The six other Rangers knew one thing... they had to leave. The rage flaming in their leader's heart was too much. Thanks to the sustained power of the Green and Purple Rangers, all save Ghedaliah managed to flee, racing through the winding hallways, weaving their way between dozens of panicking Imperials who felt the quaking of the castle and the dark omen it brought.
The six remaining Rangers escaped the palace only seconds before the white light obliterated everything.
Ghedaliah was never found. Neither was the Shadow Lord. Nor Zordon's body.
So, it was assumed that Kreia suffered a similar fate. But there were no witnesses to her incredible power. And, they had been able to find the Red Coin amidst the vaporized hole that was once the Shadow Lord's great palace.
Therefore, it wasn't hard to believe that the Purple Coin existed. But that still didn't bring Alpha any comfort.
"Where has it been all this time?" he wondered, "And why hasn't Zordon been able to sense it before?"
He cast his gaze toward the Transdimension Cylinder. Faint sparks of energy flashed within the thick smoke, showing that Zordon had temporarily terminated his link to Earth.
He was searching once again. Searching for any further sign of the coin.
Alpha sighed quietly, shaking his head. He could almost feel the desperation Zordon felt at this incredible find.
He knew deep down, Zordon blamed himself for Kreia's fate. He was, after all, responsible for the lives of each and every one of his Rangers, even the ones he didn't select personally. Over the few months of their acquaintance, the ancient wizard couldn't help but be impressed by her indomitable will.
He owed it to her, and to her predecessors, that the Purple Ranger would serve again. Perhaps he felt that restoring her coin to active service was one step in the right direction to letting the ghosts of the past finally rest.
A faint beeping sound drew the small robot from his thoughts. He examined a small computer screen that showed a rough map of Angel Grove and its immediate territories.
"ZORDON!" Alpha shrieked, "I FOUND IT!"
The shout somehow reached the being, who once again fused with the physical plane through his tube. His eager gaze fell upon his assistant.
"WHERE IS THE COIN?"
"It's... in Angel Grove," Alpha reported, "I've narrowed its location to a four-mile radius. It's somewhere between the high school and the border of Angel Grove and Stone Canyon."
"SO CLOSE?" Zordon marveled, his ethereal face folding into a thoughtful frown. "INTERESTING..."
* * *
"And while the majority of you managed to pass this test, I still feel as if you failed. The average score was a 72, which is appalling for such simple subject matter."
Wilbur Wilton raked his icy blue gaze across the classroom, watching as several students winced at his sharp rebuke. The balding blonde Chemistry teacher rose from his seat, straightening his tie before leaning forward against his desk. "We're only six weeks into the school year. The exams will only get harder. This is Chemistry here... not English. You will be handling dangerous chemicals. If you can't hack a simple test of basic mathematical understanding, then you certainly can't handle flammable materials."
That said, he grabbed a small pile of papers and he stalked to the students. He glanced down at the papers, stopping at the third desk from the front.
"Eric Henderson... 59 percent," he announced, dropping the paper on the boy's desk. Eric winced, sinking slightly in his seat in embarrassment.
Mr. Wilton looked up again, and walked to the following row. "Jason Scott... 94 percent." The smallest hint of a smile pulled at his thin lips. "Not bad."
Jason couldn't help but smile slightly at what was the closest thing to praise anyone would ever get from Angel Grove High's resident army commando.
The teacher then moved to the back of the classroom, halting at one of the furthest chairs. His harsh gaze fell upon a girl who seemed to struggle to stay conscious.
"Alexis Darling!" he growled. Alexis jumped. "Is there a reason why you're falling asleep in my class?"
Jason turned around curiously as Alexis shrank into her seat.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Wilton," she stammered weakly, "I'm not feeling well..."
Her voice died on her lips, and Mr. Wilton turned, gazing sidelong at the student. While she was a quiet student, from her test scores he could see that she wasn't the type to cause any trouble. She probably really was sick.
"Then you should go to the nurse," he advised, handing Alexis her test, "You can't learn anything if you're dozing off."
"Thank you," she said, weakly rising to her feet. She fumbled while trying to collect her belongings, and slinked between the rows.
Jason watched her with a worried gaze.
"Mr. Wilton," he said cautiously, "can I walk her to the nurse?"
Alexis turned to him, her eyes wide with surprise.
Mr. Wilton nodded. "But I expect you back in five minutes, Jason."
Jason grinned, rising from his seat and following Alexis out the door.
Alexis watched his movements almost incredulously. She smiled her gratitude as Jason took her backpack, alleviating her burden.
"You didn't have to do this, Jason," she said, averting her eyes from her escort.
"It's no problem," he answered. "What's wrong? Didn't get enough sleep?"
She grinned guiltily. "No... but I don't think that's it. I just have a killer headache." She reached up, rubbing her temples slowly. "It was a dull pain at first, but as the day wore on, it kept getting worse. My head just feels so... heavy."
Jason frowned with compassion. "Well, maybe a bit of rest and some aspirin can help."
"I hope so," Alexis sighed. The rest of the walk was in silence, and finally they paused together outside of the nurse's office.
"Thanks so much," Alexis said quietly, smiling weakly as Jason returned her backpack. His gaze locked with hers, and he observed the redness in her black eyes, as well as the dark circles beneath them. She almost looked like she hadn't slept in days.
"It's not a problem," he assured her once again, "I'll see you later. Feel better!"
Alexis lingered outside the nurse's office, watching as Jason went back towards Chemistry. Is it just me, or is he getting cuter by the minute? she wondered, biting back her smile as she finally went into the office.
Down the hall, Jason slowly continued towards Chemistry. But only one thing occupied his thoughts... Alexis' bloodshot black eyes.
Black eyes... why didn't that seem right?
* * *
The ancient man stood before the pair, leaning his crooked wooden walking staff against a console. With both hands, he cradled a large wooden box on his palms, as if he were offering it to them.
"There have been scores of Power Rangers before you," he explained. "The vast majority had died in battle. All sacrificed their family lives, for fear of endangering loved ones. All Rangers must disappear from Gateway City, and remain here in the Command Center. Always on duty, always striving to learn and grow so as to defend the world all the better. Once the Power is taken, it cannot be returned until the battle is over."
He then opened the ornate box, etched with animal pictures on all panels. Within, lying on a black pillow, lay seven glittering gold coins arranged in rows of three and four. Each coin had a different image, all of animals made legendary by the Rangers of earlier generations.
Her gaze instinctively fell to the Eagle, with its wide feathered wings outstretched as it ascended to the heavens.
"Once you choose a Power Coin, you accept the duty of being a Ranger," Regita explained, "Take your pick."
She stepped forward instantly. While she did gaze at each coin for a few moments, she knew that the Eagle was hers. It almost... called to her. It was more like recognizing an old friend than selecting a color.
The old man smiled tenderly, almost with a touch of nostalgia. "You have selected the Eagle, Kreia. You will be the Purple Ranger, as I was a lifetime ago."
She smiled, gazing at the coin in her palm. She hadn't even known which Ranger her ancient relative had been, but somehow a force she couldn't explain drew her to the winged creature.
Erol's jaw set as he stepped forward. "Which is Green?" he demanded.
The old man blinked in surprise at the odd query. "Why do you ask?"
"I know something of the Power Rangers," he related, "and I do recall that the Purple and Green Rangers were different. They fought side by side as if they were somehow separate from the other five. They are a team within a team."
He then turned to her, his incredible jade gaze locking with hers. "If you are the Purple Ranger, then I must be your partner."
The look in his eyes was so intense, it sent chills along her skin. Her heart fluttered as she stared into those powerful pools of color... so familiar to her since childhood, and so dear to her that much of the time those very eyes dictated her own emotions.
She felt such a bond between them, and as he selected the Green coin, she could feel the bond grow stronger.
And somehow, deep down in her heart, she knew that the bond would only grow with time.
The old man consented, although he did seem to hesitate somewhat. "Then here is your coin, Green Ranger."
* * *
Another sharp intake of air accompanied Alexis' jarring awakening, and her eyelids jumped open almost desperately.
Another dream. Or was it a vision?
The content of the dream itself wasn't disturbing. It wasn't even a nightmare. But these constant visions of this girl named Kreia unsettled Alexis more and more.
She sat up on the cot, rubbing her temples vigorously. The aspirin didn't seem to quell the pain, but at least she had been able to fall asleep.
"What's wrong with me?" she whispered, lying back on the cot weakly. She stared at the sterile ceiling, and frowned thoughtfully.
Turning her head slightly, she noticed the nurse enter the back room. The nurse gazed at her with concern, holding a notepad with both hands.
"Feeling any better?"
The nurse sighed quietly, gesturing to the clock. "It's a quarter of three o'clock, and school's been dismissed. I tried to call your mother, but she's not at her desk. Is there anyone else who can pick you up?"
Alexis shook her head, planting her feet on the ground. She held her breath as she shifted her weight, pushing off the hard cot and rising to a full standing position. "No, it's okay. I'll just walk home."
The nurse grimaced. "I don't know how safe that is, in your condition."
Alexis turned her gaze to the nurse. "So I have a headache... it's not like I'm dying."
"But you seem to be uncoordinated, Alexis," the nurse pointed out. "Maybe I should call an ambulance?"
Alexis rolled her coal black eyes ruefully. "That's a bit extreme. Trust me, I've had worse headaches before. I'll be fine."
And with a reassuring grin, Alexis pulled on her backpack, and hurried out of the office.
But as soon as she escaped the nurse's observant gaze, her smile crumbled to a worried frown.
She'd never experienced such a headache before. It was almost... numbing. She almost felt like she were sleepwalking, so confused were her senses.
She kept her gaze to the ground, watching as first the tiled ground of the school passed beneath her, and then the sharp blades of grass. Finally, she arrived on the concrete of the sidewalk, and focused her mind to count the cracks in the white cement. It was an effort to keep herself at least somewhat attentive to her environment.
"Hey Alexis! Alexis?"
The voice seemed faint, almost drowned out by the constant buzz of conversation that typically surrounded a high school at dismissal. Still, that voice did emerge from the chaos, drawing her attention enough to turn around.
She offered a weak smile as Jason jogged up to her, a confounded expression on his face.
"I thought we were going for shakes..." he began, his brow creasing further when he noticed the pallor of her skin, and the redness in her dark eyes. "Wow... you look like you were hit by a truck!"
Alexis smirked. "You sure know how to charm a girl."
Jason's frown softened, but his concerned gaze never wavered from her puzzling black eyes. "Sorry about that."
He still couldn't figure out why her dark eyes unsettled him so.
Jason shrugged off the odd feeling that had settled in, and gently laid a hand on her shoulder. "Can I walk you home?"
Despite herself, Alexis felt a rising annoyance. She was, after all, more than capable of walking home. So much concern so clearly directed at her was quite... unnerving.
Nevertheless, she nodded. "Sure. Thanks."
She did enjoy his company, after all.
* * *
Goldar stepped carefully into the throne room, crossing the cold stone chamber towards the intense red light that radiated from the balcony. The mighty Titan warrior shivered, as he could only guess what the Emperor had in store for him.
"What took you so long?" the Emperor growled, turning around. Despite the fact that Goldar was over a foot taller than the vertically-challenged ruler, the crimson gaze of the powerful wizard made the warrior feel like an ant.
"I'm sorry, Lord Zedd," Goldar grunted, falling to one knee. He tried his hardest to maintain some shred of dignity, even in the face of so great a failure.
"FOOL!" Zedd howled, the bright red aura intensifying. Goldar bowed his head lower, closing his eyes to block out the blinding fury of his ruler.
Zedd's aura lessened slightly, and he walked passed his soldier. He sat wearily upon his iron throne. "You had four... four magic candles, and you still failed! You couldn't even destroy one Ranger! They all escaped!"
Goldar shuddered with humiliation, but could not deny the truth.
"And worse yet, your pathetic battle against the Red Ranger has only strengthened his confidence. Now he is more formidable than ever before, and when a leader gains strength, the entire team follows suit!"
Goldar swallowed fearfully. "I... I won't fail again, my Lord."
"And how many times do I have to hear that?!" Zedd roared. Goldar cringed again, keeping his eyes closed and his head low.
Finally, after an intolerable silence, Zedd sighed quietly. "So be it. Go, destroy the Red Ranger. Now!"
Goldar lifted his head, frowning in confusion. "You mean, right now?"
Zedd fixed his champion with an impatient glare. "Yes. I observed him just moments ago, walking in the park with some human girl. If you attack them now, her presence will make it impossible for him to Morph, or call the others for aid. If you are swift and cunning, you will only have to face Jason. I absolutely must have the Red Ranger destroyed by moonrise." His voice suddenly took on a mocking tone. "Do you think you can handle that?"
Goldar just barely contained the furious growl that folded the skin on his snout. "I will not fail," he assured Lord Zedd, rising to his feet. In moments, he had vanished in a thick cloud of golden smoke.
* * *
"And when he came at me with a roundhouse, I ducked out of the way, and swept his feet," Jason narrated, crouching to the grass and swinging his powerful right leg in demonstration.
Alexis could barely contain the small laugh that Jason's reenactment had triggered. Instead, she smiled at the excitement and pride that seemed to shine in Jason's eyes, and she watched with full attention as he rose back to his feet, brushing the grass from his jeans, and picking up his backpack.
"That was it," he concluded, his proud grin never wavering. "I got the trophy."
"That's fabulous, Jason," Alexis said sincerely, "You really deserved it. I saw all the hard work you put into that tournament."
Jason shrugged modestly. "Well, all the trophies in the world don't prove anything. It's more than just skill. It's heart." He smirked. "Still, its nice to have something to decorate your bookshelf."
Alexis kept her gaze on Jason with intense interest. He was so animated and alive... so different from the sullen young man she encountered in the weight room. He really was restored, back to the way she so fondly remembered him. But although he didn't say it, she could tell that winning the tournament wasn't the impetus for the new attitude.
"And how's your friend?" she ventured carefully, "The one who had been hurt?"
Jason's smile only widened. "He's doing just great. Hopefully, we'll be seeing him in school soon. We got a letter from him over the weekend-"
Alexis looked up in surprise when Jason cut off his own sentence. She saw the shock in his gaze, mixed with a healthy dose of anger, as he stared at something in the distance. Befuddled, she followed his eyes, and a yelp of horror erupted from her throat.
Standing only a few yards in front of them was a hideous blue-furred beast, with golden armor gleaming in the afternoon sunlight.
"Hello, Jason," he grumbled, slowly approaching the pair. Jason's response was instinctive- he quickly grabbed Alexis' arm, and pushed her behind him as they backed away.
"What do you want?" Jason demanded. Alexis shivered at the deep, cold tone Jason had suddenly adopted. That, and the obvious fact that he knew the creature assured her that Jason Scott was more than met the eye.
"I just thought a rematch was in order," the alien responded, a feral smirk on his lips. He unsheathed his mighty gold broadsword, and pointed it directly at Jason's face. "Considering the circumstances, this shouldn't be hard."
"What?" Alexis whispered, overwhelmed. Jason swallowed hard, his grip tightening on Alexis' arm.
"Listen," he whispered, "you've got to run. Run and get help. I'll hold him off."
Alexis' dark eyes widened with disbelief. "Are you nuts?! You can't fight this thing!"
Goldar cackled, the bone-chilling sound breaking up the conversation instantly. "No, boy... your little friend won't be going anywhere. I need a witness, to see how weak and pathetic you really are!"
Jason ground his teeth, his mind swimming. He knew he couldn't Morph; not with Alexis right beside him. He couldn't break the code he swore to abide on the day he became the Red Tyrannosaurus Ranger.
But what was the alternative? He was no match for Goldar one on one, not when the seven-foot gladiator was this riled up.
Jason released Alexis, his hand quickly grabbing hers. After giving her hand a reassuring squeeze, he let her go completely, and slowly stalked toward the imposing creature, both arms falling into a defensive position.
Alexis trembled with fear and confusion, her black gaze leaping from Goldar to Jason and back again. Her terror kept her feet planted on the ground, making it impossible for her to make a getaway.
Still, despite her building panic, she managed to notice how many times Jason's scrutiny passed from Goldar to her. She could tell her presence was distracting. And he did win a tournament just the other day...
This is still crazy! He may be a black-belt, but that's one of those alien invaders! He's no Power Ranger!
Her panic-stricken eyes subtly narrowed as anger began to slowly brew within her.
Goldar growled deeply, his sword held with both hands as he raced at Jason. His blade swung down like an ax, but it only managed to chisel the ground, for Jason had already moved out of the way. Goldar rumbled, turning to see Jason roll out of the way, and leap back to his feet. Goldar was able to turn and block just in time to keep Jason's sneaker from pounding his face. Goldar's throat rumbled with a mocking laugh as he caught Jason's follow-up punch, squeezing the Red Ranger's fist with his much broader hand.
His eyes glinted with glee at the pained frown that folded the young human's features.
"This brings back so many memories," Goldar grunted, baring his yellowed fangs, "You, so helpless in Rita's Dark Dimension, as I pummeled you like a rag doll!"
Despite the pain he felt, Jason could tell Goldar wasn't using his full strength... if he were, numerous bones would've shattered already. Goldar was just toying with him for now.
Jason forced a cold smirk on his face. "Yeah, I remember," he breathed, "It still amazes me how big a coward you were- forcing me to fight unarmed. And now you're doing it again. It's almost as if you can't beat me otherwise."
Goldar's triumphant chuckle was replaced by a low growl. Ruby eyes narrowing, he tossed Jason aside with all his might, sending the limp boy into a nearby tree.
Jason fought for consciousness, the sharp pain in the back of his head shooting stars through his vision.
"Jason!" Alexis shrieked. She was still almost numb with tormenting emotions, but the sickening crash with which Jason met the unyielding oak had snapped her back to her senses.
Without thinking, she began to run. Not away from the battle, but toward it.
"Stay... back!" Jason forced through pained lungs. He struggled to his feet. "I'm fine!"
Goldar glanced at the approaching human through the corner of his eye. She was a mere slip of a girl, slender in frame and rather clumsy in motion. And without a Power Coin? Did she have a death wish?
He grinned, the cold humor in his expression chilling Jason to the bone. "You had best listen, girl," he warned, pointing his sword toward her, "If I kill you now, no one will be around to witness Jason's fated death."
Jason watched in horror as a sickening mist appeared around Goldar's blade. He cried out the warning, but Alexis couldn't move out of the way.
The cloud flared with energy, and shot at her like a bullet. The force of the impact knocked the girl clean off her feet, sending her flying into the soft grass with a strange glow still surrounding her frame.
"Alexis!" Jason hollered, frozen with disbelief.
Goldar smirked again, turning his attention back to his prey. "Relax, Human. She is alive. She is even conscious. If I kill her, then what is there to stop you from Morphing? I am no fool."
Jason inwardly cursed the beast, but nonetheless he breathed a sigh of relief when Alexis lifted her head from the ground. Still, the golden aura remained.
"What did you do to her?" the leader of the Power Rangers demanded.
"I thought I'd hold her down."
And with that, the battle raged on.
* * *
The dizziness soon left her, and Alexis was able to focus her gaze once again.
But before she could clearly see anything, she could hear what was happening before her. She heard the grunts, screams, battle cries, and choked roars.
She could even hear the sound of that deadly sword smash into the pavement time and again.
At least that was a good sound. If the sword hit the pavement, then it wasn't hitting Jason.
She tried to reach out, to steady herself enough to stand, but to her astonishment her arms were trapped at her sides. She gasped, struggling against the faint energy that held her body in a cocoon.
"Dammit," she growled, grinding her teeth. She continued to push against the gold energy desperately, in the hopes that she could free herself, and possibly call for help? which she should have done much earlier, if she hadn't been rooted to the ground!
Frustration settling in, she decided to give up trying to break the cocoon. Instead, she struggled against the ground she lay on, shifting her body to turn herself around. That she did manage to accomplish, and soon she was lying on her stomach, holding her head up to see the fight before her.
She shuddered when she saw a terrible knee-thrust from the monster connect with Jason's gut, followed by his clenched fists pounding into Jason's back. The boy collapsed at that point, falling limply to the ground.
The monster cackled as it placed its enormous foot upon Jason's back. He watched in amusement as Jason tried to push himself off the ground, but the added weight made it impossible. Then, he pressed.
Jason groaned as the weight crushed his body. Still, he managed to lift his face just enough to lie on his cheek, enabling him to see Goldar through the corner of his eye.
"This is how our last battle should have ended, Red Ranger," Goldar spat in a low voice, "You at my feet, begging for mercy."
Jason rasped for breath, but his frown remained. "Beg? Not on your life, Dogbreath."
Goldar chuckled. "You Humans are a proud race, aren't you?"
"Stop it!" a desperate voice cried, startling both Goldar and Jason. Both turned, and saw Alexis staring wide-eyed at them, once again struggling against the magical bonds that held her.
"Now this is precious!" Goldar remarked, throwing his head back with deep laughter. "You really were in the wrong place at the wrong time, girl. And you certainly picked the wrong boy to befriend. His time has expired, and unfortunately... he's dragged you into this too."
The laughter grated on Alexis' patience as nothing else ever did, and the slowly-brewing rage began to boil over. The terror, confusion, rage, and panic stewing in her heart exploded, and a strange new feeling poured through her body, giving her an almost electric surge.
Suddenly, her body was not her own.
It almost felt like she was a stranger looking in, like her dreams, which were her observations of another life, but from within. She watched in mute intrigue as her body somehow shattered the magic bonds, dispelling the energy almost thoughtlessly.
Goldar stared at the scrawny Human as she stood up, mockingly cracking her neck and tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear. She then fixed her ebony gaze at the beast.
Impossibly, a strange aura of her own began to crackle, building around her clenched fist and throwing her shoulder-length hair in a feverish dance.
"Goldar... still targeting the defenseless, I see," she commented with a disdainful twist of her lip.
Despite himself, the warrior shuddered. The voice with which the human girl spoke was not her own. At least, it wasn't the same voice she used when she was speaking earlier. It was cold, sardonic. And inexplicably... familiar.
The girl gazed at Goldar from a distance. "You are a weak coward, little Titan. As you always were."
Goldar felt his rage building, despite the frightful new appearance of the seemingly helpless girl. She dared mock him, an elite warrior of Lord Zedd?
Who was she?
The girl lifted her slender arm, the tight fist slowly opening high over her head.
Her eyes shuttered closed.
"Eagleheart Pulse!" she summoned.
Goldar's breath caught in his throat as a crackling sphere of energy erupted from the girl's open palm, streaking at him at the speed of light and crashing into his unprepared body dead on. The impact was incredible... the pain blinding as all the breath escaped his lungs in one agonized scream. He kept flying back, helpless against the force of the explosion that rocked his organs. Then, his body crashed against the hard asphalt, and everything slipped into a dazed blackness.
It was at this tense moment that four streams of bright color appeared at the park.
"Ohmigosh!" the Pink Ranger gasped, "Jason!"
She hurried to the side of the wounded young man, still lying on the grass in a spot that seemed imprinted with Jason's body shape. She gently rolled him onto his back, cringing as a sharp rasp of pain passed through his teeth.
But Jason ignored the Pink Ranger's revelation. His gaze was fixed upon Alexis, who stood in the same position in which she blasted Goldar. Her aura had faded, though, leaving a normal-looking girl in its wake.
But the cold expression remained, and it chilled him even more than Goldar's earlier taunts.
"What happened?" the Black Ranger wondered, as he and Yellow surveyed the area. Zack's gaze fell upon Goldar, who lay completely motionless some twenty yards away on the barren basketball court.
Trini, on the other hand, kept her scrutiny upon Alexis. But Alexis was in a world of her own. Her body remained motionless, simply standing with one arm extended.
Intrigued, Trini approached. "Are you all right, Miss?"
Trini felt her concern rise as the girl made no response. Finally, she reached forward and touched her shoulder.
The Yellow Ranger yelped as a surge of energy ripped through her body, knocking her clear off her feet.
"Yellow Ranger!" Blue shouted, as he and Black hurried to help their dazed friend. The trio backed away slightly, staring in bewilderment at the frozen person.
"What's going on?" Pink inquired, directing her question to Jason. He frowned, struggling against the soreness in his body in an effort to stand. Kimberly perceived his intention, and leaned his body against her own. Together, they rose to their feet.
"Goldar attacked us," he recapped, "and somehow, she shot him."
Zack looked from Jason to the girl in amazement. "Alexis? Alexis shot Goldar? With what... a spit-ball?"
Jason's expression was dark as he shook his head. "No. She called it an Eagleheart Pulse."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Kimberly mused.
Jason bit his lip, visualizing the crackling sphere of swirling laser energy that crashed into Goldar like a wrecking ball. It was almost identical to another blast he'd seen, many months ago.
The spherical energy attack the Evil Green Ranger had used.
With the single exception of the differing colors, the two attacks were identical.
* * *
The mental fog faded, pulling Alexis back to reality. But this time was different.
She had been watching, but the story wasn't about some ancient Purple Ranger. It was a golden beast attacking, not some boy named Erol, but Jason.
She shuddered, feeling an electric wave ebb within her. Also, to her astonishment, an aching feeling built in her arm, that for some reason was extended before her.
Her eyes fluttered open, and her face wrinkled in sheer confusion. Before her stood four Power Rangers, one of them holding Jason on his feet.
"What...?" she gasped, her voice hoarse.
The pain in her hand continued to build, causing her to cringe again. She finally grabbed her arm, gently rubbing the forearm and hand.
It was then that her emerald gaze fell upon her palm... more specifically, the black circular tattoo that stood boldly on her skin.
Her instinctive reaction was obvious: she screamed.
* * *
All she could do was gasp air into her starved lungs, forcing her sobs to quiet just enough to breathe.
What was happening to her? The dreams, the headache... and now this?
This couldn't be dismissed so easily. It felt like a dream, and it was impossible for it to have been real... but it was.
She wasn't Alexis Darling any longer. She was something else. Something with power.
She continued to shiver as she cradled her body against the wall in her bedroom. She didn't even remember how she wound up there. Did she fly? Or magically transport her body? Or maybe even run at a phenomenal speed?
Or, could it all have been a really long, really horrible nightmare? Maybe none of it had happened at all. No bizarre eye-color shifts, or blackouts, or visions...
But the tattoo remained. A circle on her skin, with an eagle with outstretched wings.
It was real. It was all real.
And that damned coin had something to do with it.
Slowly, she recovered from the panic that had consumed all rational thought. She calmed down, sucking in air at a more regulated rate, and finally finding enough strength to rise to her feet.
Her green eyes narrowed as she stared at the wooden box that still sat upon her bed.
"It's all you," she whispered, swallowing hard. "It all started when Nana gave you to me. What the hell are you? A... a witch's talisman? Or maybe you're a spirit yourself. Are you... are you Kreia?"
The box didn't answer her. But Alexis was undaunted, and she slowly crept toward the box, fixing the lifeless object with an accusing stare.
"I was just fine before," she barked, her anger building, "I was normal. But now... now I'm some kind of freak. I can't... I can't tell what's real anymore."
She sniffled, leaning weakly upon her bed. Her gaze saw only the box. "I need answers."
Almost mechanically, she pulled the key from the chain around her neck, and unlocked the box. The coin reflected the faint light from the window, staring at her almost enticingly.
She gazed at the coin for a long moment, and then turned to the matching brand on her palm.
"You're the Purple Ranger," she whispered, her eyes widening with realization, "Kreia was the Purple Ranger, so many years ago. And that Power rests in you. And back there, in the park... you saved Jason. You."
She swallowed, ignoring the warning that flashed in her mind. Slowly, she reached her hand to the coin. The moment her fingers touched the glossy surface, a brilliant wash of purple energy flooded the entire room.