Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers; they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic.
Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate time line.
Accepting the Dark
"NOOOO!" Tommy cried, sitting bolt upright in bed. His eyes darted around the room, trying to reassure himself that there was no black tide getting ready to close over him. He dropped his sweat-slick face into his hands with an inarticulate moan, just as his family ran in.
"Tommy, what happened," his mother asked, concerned.
"It-- it's okay, Mom. Just a nightmare," he managed, smiling sickly at her.
"Tommy, this is the sixth night in a row that you've woken up screaming," his father told him. "This is the last straw. First thing in the morning, I'm making you an appointment to see a psychiatrist."
"Dad!" Tommy wailed. "I'm not crazy!"
"No one said you were, Tommy. Psychiatrists are trained to listen and help with problems, though, and I think you need that. You-- we can't go on like this." With that, his parents turned and walked out of the room, leaving him with his sister and brother.
"Scoot over, Tommy," Chelsea ordered her "twin." He obeyed, and she hopped up on the bed to sit next to them. "Okay, spill your guts. What did you dream about?"
"Just your ordinary Angel Grove nightmare," he lied. "Monsters chasing me all over the place."
"Shyea, right," scoffed Teddy. The ten-year-old regarded him with scepticism. "We really believe that."
"Should we tell him?" Chelsea asked.
Teddy nodded. "It's the only way we'll get the truth out of him."
Chelsea turned back to Tommy. "Okay, mi hermano, we know. We know you're a Power Ranger."
"WHAT?" Tommy spluttered. "I mean, what are you talking about. Me, a Power Ranger? Get real."
Rolling his eyes, Teddy shook his head. "Duh, Tommy. Give us credit for some intelligence. You disappear all the time, you wear a weird-looking watch, you have all these unexplained bruises, and your girlfriend has an Australian accent just like the Pink Ranger!" Tommy closed his eyes in pain and Teddy winced. "Ex-girlfriend. Sorry..." he muttered, wishing he hadn't said anything.
Taking up the litany, Chelsea continued. "When we first moved here, you suddenly became very cold, just when the Green Ranger appeared. When he joined the other Rangers, you suddenly had five very good friends. When he left the team, you became very depressed and stopped seeing your friends. Then the White Ranger appeared and you were happy as a clam, radiating energy. Every time one of your friends leaves, a Power Ranger gets taller or shorter, and their voices change. Plus, Green Ranger, White Ranger and Zeo Ranger V all have the same fighting style, your style. Remember, fighting styles are like fingerprints, and I've been trained to recognize them. I know you're a Ranger, and Teddy does too. Tell us what's wrong."
Tommy sighed. Lying was not one of his strengths, at least not while he was in control. When his dark side took over... He shook his head, trying to clear it enough to deal with the immediate problem. "Okay, you got me. Yes, I'm a Power Ranger, but no one's supposed to know about that. Can you two keep that secret?"
"Of course," Chelsea scoffed. "Now, what did you dream about?"
Tommy smiled. "To tell you the truth, I don't remember," he lied. He trusted Chelsea and Teddy implicitly, but he just didn't feel ready to tell anyone about his dream. "You know what Mom says. I've got a brain like a sieve."
"Bull," Teddy said quietly. "Tommy, just because you were adopted and we weren't, doesn't mean that we don't care about you. Please, let us in."
Tommy regarded his little brother with some surprise. He kept forgetting that Teddy was much wiser than his ten years would suggest. It was funny, in a way, how alike Tommy and Teddy were, despite the fact that they were not blood relatives. Both had long dark hair, melted-caramel-coloured puppy dog eyes, and the sharp hawk like features that had every girl in the school trailing after Tommy. Even at ten, Teddy had the promise of height to equal his brother's, and was beginning to develop the fluid muscle tone of a martial artist. Teddy also had the same lopsided smile that melted any female heart it was turned on.
Tommy then turned to look at his sister. She too had the colouring, sharp features, and height that marked her brothers, and David Trueheart, Tommy's brother-by-blood. Unlike them, however, Chelsea wore her hair cropped close in a sensible cut. Like David, she shared Tommy's age and birthday, which is why she and Tommy had always considered themselves twins. Also a martial artist, she was a kung fu student, rather than taking karate like her brothers. As a result of the difference in style, she was more smoothly muscled. Most of her opponents thought that meant that she was not as strong. It was a mistake people only made once.
Tommy smiled. These two might not be his blood relatives, but they were his family all the same. He owed them the truth, but he didn't want to discuss his dream with anyone yet. "Guys, I can't talk about it. Maybe later, okay?"
Teddy grumbled and went back to his own room. Chelsea regarded her "twin" for a second. "Thomas Tyler Oliver, you are the most exasperating person I know. If you won't talk to me, talk to somebody, all right?"
He smiled. "Yes, Mother. Go back to bed, Chelse." Reluctantly, she did as she was told. Tommy flopped back down to the bed. It was going to be a long night.
King Mondo was not a happy machine, but then given that most machines couldn't feel emotion, that hardly seemed important. He had been gone for too long, that much was obvious given the damage that had been inflicted upon his precious Sky Base. Even with the repairs Grommet had instigated, the vast space station was not the same.
"Of all the insolent, foolhardy - how dare he ruin my Sky Base?" he fumed, causing Klank and Orbus to seek shelter elsewhere before the king's vengeance turned on them for helping his son. "Now not only do we have to deal with the Zeo Rangers, we also have a restored Gold Ranger and more Zords than you care to count to contend with." Sprocket squeaked and waddled to hide behind the throne as his father continued to rant. "Why is this planet such a problem to us, why is it every time we come within the grasp of victory, a new obstacle appears? KLANK!"
The metallic butler, mechanic and general dog's body nervously looked around the doorway he had chosen for his escape, hoping that Mondo would continue to rant instead of reacting in a more physical way; it wasn't often that the ruler of the Machine Empire resorted to physical outbursts, but when he did the results were not pleasant. Given that Mondo had only recently returned from the repair works he was bound to be cranky.
"A-aye, yer Majesty?" he asked.
"Get out here, you obsolete lay about. You have work to do." Klank did as he was ordered, coming to stand by his king.
"Klank, I want to know everything that wayward brat Gasket did during his time on my Sky Base." Mondo declared. "And don't leave anything out. I want to know how many of my Cogs he has had contact with, which monsters he accessed and any parts of the factory complex he or that cyber-whore Archerina corrupted. Compile the report and then have everything named in that report sanitized."
"An Queen Machina an wee Prince Sprocket?" Klank asked.
For a long second, it looked as if steam was going to hiss out of Mondo's ears. Then, with a great effort, he seemed to calm himself down. Even so, when he spoke, his voice was the level of a claxon. "You mechanized misfit, how dare you accuse my wife and son of being soiled?"
"Forgive me yer Majesty," Klank managed to stutter.
"When my Sky Base has been cleansed of any trace of Gasket, I shall have my revenge on those Zeo Rangers. No organics destroy my body and get away with it." Mondo's evil, metallic laughter echoed through the Sky Base as Klank rushed to do his master's bidding.
Time passed as Cogs and servants worked with efficiency only seen in Mondo's presence. It took hours but the job was completed, the base had been scrubbed and sterilized of Gasket's incompetent programming.
"And why did Gasket abandon such a plan when it was clearly a success? Had he waited until Tommy was completely under his control for more than a few minutes, he would have succeeded." Mondo had been reviewing Gasket's efforts. One plan had seized his attention and he had had Klank explain.
"I cannae say, sire," Klank managed.
"Of course not you half-witted toaster," Mondo snapped. "Gasket is a prince of the Royal House of Gadgetry and you are an overrated steam iron. Still, Gasket's plan had merit and since he saw fit to abandon it, we will pick it up from where he left off, with Tommy."
"But we dinna huv the wee Ranger," Klank protested.
"Then you will get him!" Mondo thundered.
Klank was too petrified to respond, he could only obey.
On Earth, the Rangers were blissfully unaware of the nefarious happenings in space. The team were enjoying their summer vacation and had arranged activities planned for the morning and the afternoon. Although it should be noted this was more to allow Tommy, Rocky and Adam to escape the curse of the girls' shopping trips than any important activities. Tommy was at the beach, along with Trey. Both boys were keen to exercise, a side effect of using their powers and an instinctive need to practice and hone their skills. Both of them had spent most of the morning sparring and running on the beach, but they planned to continue working until noon and then relaxing during the afternoon. Trent and Travis, both of whom were adapting to their lives as individuals were there as well.
Normally Jason should have joined them, but Jason was not much in the way of company at the moment; the former Gold Ranger was going through what Zordon described as Power withdrawal, a condition Tommy knew from experience. Besides the tiredness and weakness as the body readjusted to life without the ability to morph, there were dangers of mental trauma, something Zordon was careful to monitor. It was reassuring to know that their mentor was keeping an eye on their former teammate.
"Now this I could get used to," Travis sighed, allowing the Sun to him. "No need to worry about being attacked or asked to attend a royal banquet." He paused as if considering. "Which was worse?"
"The banquets," Trent answered thoughtfully. "At least you know a battle will end one way or the other."
Suddenly a strange wind cut through the area, smelling of Cog Oil and burnt toast. In the air before them, a strange gear-shaped portal opened, dropping a fleet of Cogs in front of the teens. The group of friends exchanged looks, quickly calculating the odds.
"Uh oh," Trent and Travis said in unison. Despite being separated, they still thought as one from time to time.
Trey and Tommy found their way to the front, dropping into fighting stances as they did so; they were capable of morphing if things got too bad. The others did likewise, falling in behind their powered friends. Then the Cogs rushed forward, and the battle was joined.
Somehow, even with all the effort the put into defending themselves, luck was against the Rangers and their comrades. The noise of battle had drawn customers from the Beach Club, preventing Tommy and Trey from transforming.
And then the Cogs pressed their advantage, pinning Rangers and Triforians alike to the ground with their sheer numbers.
Tommy groaned as darkness was replaced by piercing light. He rolled slightly, squinting against the glare while trying to get a fix on his surroundings. Next to him something moaned.
"Are you okay?" he asked, as he picked himself up off the floor where the Cogs had dumped him. For the first time he noticed the bracelets attached to each wrist, a clever way of preventing him from morphing. Not that the metal could affect his powers like it did with the Morphin Grid, but the thick iron shackles covered his forearms, effectively blocking the area where his Zeonisers would appear. Transforming is not an option then.
Finally he had a good grasp of his situation. He and his companion had been flung rather unceremoniously into a corner of the throne room, which had then been cut off with an electrified fence controlled from a box on the floor.
His companion groaned again, a good sign since it meant he was at least alive. It stood to reason that Mondo's forces had only bothered grabbing the two active Rangers; the others although informative were unlikely to be of use in the mechanical monarch's plans.
"Here," he said as he offered Trey his hand. He turned as Mondo swaggered up to the force field.
"Well, well what do we have here, two of Zordon's precious Rangers? Welcome to my home, I know one of you should find this place familiar. Isn't that right Tommy?"
"You won't get away with this," Tommy threatened.
Mondo chuckled in response. "Oh but I will. You have a lot of courage Ranger considering your situation. I could have you vaporized on the spot. But then bravery is something I've grown to appreciate in you Rangers. That and your fighting skills." His voice lowered. "You made a fine king, Tommy. I brought you here to give you chance to fulfil your potential; you would be King of the Earth under our guidance of course."
"No dice, Mondo," Tommy retorted. "I'd never work for you."
"Really, Tommy? I believe you've said that before to my son. You worked for him then and you'll work for me now. It certainly beats death."
"We would rather die than live as your servants," Trey stated.
"Would you?" Mondo asked. "How many times have the two of you come close to death, surviving only through force of will? I don't believe you would just give up and die when there's a chance your precious friends might save you."
"I would never hurt my friends," Tommy growled. Only Mondo's advanced audio circuits allowed him to hear the Red Zeo Ranger add: "again."
"The darkness is within you Tommy, I know all about you... You managed to keep that side of you subdued, but now it must be painful to remain in control every waking moment. And what happens when you sleep I wonder? Even I can sense your indecision Tommy, so maybe I should offer you a little help. KLANK!"
The royal retainer trotted into the chamber from whether he had been, possibly behind the door awaiting further instructions. He bowed stiffly. "Aye, yer Majesty?"
"Is the new Mapomatic prepared?"
"Indeed it is, yer Majesty. This wee gadget wull redirect the electrical signals in his brain, caw him into yer puppet."
"I KNOW THAT!" Mondo bellowed. "I do not need a lesson in my own machine from you."
"Yes yer Majesty, sorry yer Majesty. If the Cogs will just escort our subject over here, we can get started."
At those words, the Cogs advanced, unaffected by the fence. Tommy and Trey struggled, not at all eager to cooperate with them. They used anything to hand including the heavy bands around their wrists. Trey used a forearm smash to remove one of the Cog's heads, which he then threw at the box controlling the force field.
"Give it up Ranger. You cannae morph," Klank, said as he approached Trey.
"You are very clever Klank," Trey commented.
"But you forgot something," Tommy added, wrenching a metal arm free from another Cog and using it to beat another.
"It is Morphin Time," Trey dead panned. He held his hand out. "Golden Power Staff!" The staff appeared instantly and he swung it viciously at any Cog that dared to approach. With the fence disrupted the two Rangers had the run of the room. "I do not need Zeonisers to use my powers... Gold Ranger..."
"Seize him!" Klank screeched, his mechanical voice sounding like a failed clutch in an old Vauxhall.
With his powers activated, Trey was about to offer more resistance, but the Cogs had cut the room in half, separating him from Tommy. Still that disadvantage also allowed him to unleash the full extent of his Gold Ranger powers on those nearest him while the others' metallic bodies shielded the Red Zeo Ranger. Still, he wished he could reach his friend and break the bonds on his wrists. Two against... he wasn't sure how many Cogs were definitely better odds.
"Trey, get out of here!"
Trey looked up and was disappointed to see that Tommy had been subdued. He needed to help his friend, but at the same time he knew that the odds were against him. He knew Tommy would not be killed while Mondo had a chance of using him. That reassured him enough to overcome his reluctance to leave.
In a column of gold he disappeared, heading straight to the Power Chamber to warn Zordon, although he hoped by now Trent and Travis had done so by now.
As the Gold Ranger escaped, two Cogs gripped Tommy's shoulders, pinching so firmly that any movement on his part was excruciating. This forced him to stay in place. A little more pressure and the Red Ranger was certain it would snap his shoulder blades. And then Klank approached, a spider-legged device in his hand, and Tommy felt panic take over. Every instinct told him not to let them attach that machine. He struggled, kicking and thrashing in desperation, hoping that he might connect with a lucky blow. Of course with his shoulder pinned, his actions were to no avail. Klank didn't even notice as he ripped Tommy's shirt open and lined the legs up. Then with a firm thrust, he watched as the leg pierced the boy's skin.
The Cogs let go immediately, which was lucky because as his body shook it was clear that in the Cog's vice grip he would have torn his head from his shoulders. He dropped, twitching uncontrollably as the device disrupted his nervous system. A web of metallic fibres covered the Ranger, some ends piercing the skin and two thicker threads burrowing into the base of his skull.
"And now Red Ranger, it's time for you to remember who your masters really are," Mondo chortled. "I hope it doesn't hurt... too much."
Black and white; that was all there was. No shades of grey, no subtle interpretations. Black and white, good and evil, that was all that mattered. He wanted to be good but knew in his heart he could never make that claim, he had never been pure enough even when he had donned the uniform that represented the power of light and goodness. He hated the thought that he might become evil, but believed it was only a matter of time before he returned to the darkness he had served before. And so he walked a line he didn't believe existed between the light he felt he didn't deserve and the dark he didn't want. And as he walked that line, which grew thinner as he grew more and more uncertain.
His name was Tommy Oliver and at the present time, he was about to lose his mind... permanently. One moment he had been resisting Klank's attempts to insert a nasty looking piece of plug and play into his skin, the next he had been transported somewhere worse.
He had been here before, several times in fact. Whenever he was placed under a spell or other means of control, he would appear in this place. It was a refuge for the real Tommy where he could gather his strength and regain control at the earliest opportunity. It was also a prison, a place where Tommy kept his personal demons contained fearing the results of their freedom. It was a dark place, filled with silence and a sense of death. It was always dark and silent here, a symptom no doubt of the perceived darkness Tommy had placed there.
It was to this place that Tommy was taken mentally as the Mapomatic sifted through the electrical impulses of his mind, analysing and reworking the signals to accomplish its task of creating a model soldier without a will of his own. This was where he would make his last stand in what was left of his mind.
~This isn't good,~ he thought to himself. The landscape around him was changing rapidly as the machine transformed him into a cyborg puppet.~ I can't do this alone. ~
And then he felt it, a sudden breeze chilled him to the bone as it rushed passed him, the sound unmistakably the deranged laughter of a mad man. Footsteps echoed over the landscape as the source of the laughter approached, but not before it was joined by more footsteps. There were at least three sets of footprints, one softer than the others. One set stopped before it got too close, forbidden by Tommy to step too close to his conscious mind.
~Not them,~ he begged the darkness, hoping it would listen and take pity on him. ~Let it be anybody except for them. ~
"We're not going away just because you are too cowardly to turn around," a firm yet terrifyingly familiar voice, his own, stated. "It's time for this to stop. You can't do this to us."
Tommy turned, knowing what he would face and how helpless he was in their presence. They would tear his ego to shreds, crush him psychologically, analyse everything he did, and offer few compliments followed by an overabundance of criticism. And in this place where they had as much say in what happened as he did, there was no way to stop them. In the past their mutual hatred had diverted their attention, but today all were focussed on avoiding Mondo's scheme. Because regardless of what they chose to call themselves, they were all part of the shattered psyche that was Tommy Oliver.
He closed his eyes as they came into view, blinded by their presence, not wanting to face what they represented. In truth they were nothing more than aspects of his personality he either allowed to dominate his every waking moment or tried to suppress to the point where it became a mental effort not to acknowledge it.
"You know those colours don't look right," the voice said. Tommy's eyes snapped open at that remark in time to see the Green Dragon Ranger walking towards him. "Green suits you best Tommy."
Tommy looked down in horror as his clothes morphed into the emerald costume of the Green Ranger. He clawed at the fabric; desperate to rip it away and the memories it conjured. This was the costume he had worn when he was at his weakest, when he had been helpless without Jason or Zordon and the regular top ups he received to renew his failing powers. This was the costume he had worn when Zedd had chosen him as a target and Goldar had gone out of his way to humiliate; memories of his pitiful effort against Robogoat surged through his mind. And then there was the pain he remembered so clearly, of having the Power ripped away not once but twice.
As he tore at it, he felt the tingling he could remember feeling whenever he lost his powers. He looked down, devastated as the costume shimmered and vanished, leaving him defenceless again.
"Stay away from me!" he snapped angrily.
"So we're back to this, are we?" the Dragon Ranger asked.
"What are you talking about?" Tommy asked, genuinely confused.
"Did you forget so easily?" the green aspect of his personality asked. "I'm more than a part of you, I'm everything you used to be before you decided I was too unpleasant and shut me away." He took his helmet off revealing a thin pale face Tommy knew well from having seen it in the mirror every day, but even at his lowest point he never imagined that he looked that bad. The short ponytail hung down his neck, his hair greying slightly at the tips. "Oh please, will you ever get over yourself?" he asked seeing the look of horror on Tommy's face. "Everybody has weaknesses, even you. And everybody has the same choice you had: accept them, do something about them or hide them.
It's a shame that you lacked the courage to face up to me, you could have become a much better person for it. Our flaws and how we handle them make us who we are, Tommy. So you faced weakness and humiliation, so what? That was no reason to abandon everything you believed in, to stop being a team player and a friend. You single-handedly turned every member of your team against you for no better reason than to prove you were not me.
And where did it get you? Two Megazords destroyed, near death at the hands of Lord Zedd, a team where one member would rather sacrifice his powers and another would sooner live in another country than serve under you."
"I am not weak," Tommy said.
"No, you never were," Green Dragon replied. "And had you believed that we would not be having this discussion right now. The Green Ranger powers were weak due to Rita; it was a shame you made yourself weaker by trying to bury all the good things that came from those powers. Perseverance, loyalty, hard work, discipline... the Green Ranger you became once freed, was a noble man. Why did you hide me away?"
"Because the Green Ranger was evil," Tommy said firmly.
"Evil you say, and I thought I was just a pretty face," came a new voice. This one was cocky, had shorter spiked hair and was chewing on a toothpick, which he casually flicked at the emerald Dragon Ranger when he was in range. "And tell me Tommy, what is evil?"
"You know what evil is," Tommy told him. "I won't play this game with you again."
"Oh this is more than a mere game Tommy," both the emerald and dark Green Dragon said in unison. "This is the endgame, the moment of truth where you win or we all lose." Tommy's eyes widened as the dark and light portions of the personality he associated with the Green Ranger - weakness, evil, short hair - merged together. "We have a lot to discuss Tommy. Now, answer the question."
And that's what Tommy spent the next half a minute trying to do. But the more he thought about the question, the harder it became to find the answer.
"Evil is anger, fear, hatred, passion," he said, recalling the things he had heard in films and read in books. The words of a green-eared puppet played over and over in his mind. He added his own: "death."
The unified Dragon Ranger laughed and the sound was not unpleasant. As Tommy watched he realized he could not tell from one moment to the next what the person in front of him would look like. One moment it was Tommy circa his days as the Evil Green Ranger, other times Tommy towards the end of his career, sometimes he was the fully powered Green Ranger and on one occasion Tommy was sure he was looking at a humanoid dragon.
"You've been watching too many Star Wars films Tommy and that is why you are wrong. You are talking about forces and emotions, not evil. Fear, anger, hate and passion are the emotions that make you human, not evil. Fear tests you, it warns you of the dangers ahead. Passion drives you to overcome obstacles and beat the odds; anger when righteous and justified strengthens the resolve. Even hatred cannot be defined as evil. What if you hate evil or the crimes committed by those who aligned with evil, what if that hatred leads to change?
No Tommy, emotion is not evil, it your choices that make you evil. If hatred leads to oppression and murder, it is still the person who commits the crime that is evil. If fear causes someone to act maliciously, his or her actions are evil. Only your actions and reactions can make you evil.
And as for death, death is not evil Tommy, how can it be? Death is natural, unbiased and ultimately unstoppable. In the grand scheme of things all are equal in death. Death cannot be evil; it is just an altered state. It is the actions and motives of others that determine how people die. They can be evil, but death is completely neutral."
"Why are you telling me this?" Tommy asked. "You want me to become you, just as you always do."
"I want you to be yourself," the green gestalt told him. "I am a part of you Tommy, I always will be. I cannot make you become me because you are so much more. But when you deny your dark side, you become someone else. You become him." He pointed towards the source of the third set of footprints, revealing another Tommy; this one dressed in a white T-shirt with loose hair that was longer than it had been during his time as Green Ranger. It was the embodiment of Tommy's time as the White Ranger, dominated by the personality he had developed during his days as the White Tiger Ranger. The less forceful White Falcon persona was there too if you knew where to look.
"And what's so bad about that?" the newcomer asked. "At least I'm strong enough to fight my own battles without needing Jason. And I know I've never allowed my Zord to rampage through the city."
"How about when you were so busy arguing with Kimberly, you lost Saba?" the green clad Tommy asked.
His white clad counterpart scowled at him, unable to think of an adequate answer. Of course he had been under a spell at the time, but to admit that would make him a hypocrite, given just how many times he had taunted the green persona about being susceptible to spells.
"If you'd listened to me more, we could have destroyed Rita and Zedd by now," he said.
"And when would you have stopped your little purge?" was the question.
"When evil was defeated. We could have gone all the way Tommy, destroyed all the threats before they became a threat."
"You know something," the green clad Tommy said.
"There are very few White Power Rangers who draw their powers from dinosaurs. Do you know why? I'll tell you then. It's because those who possess the dinosaur powers are the most headstrong of Rangers and prefer to charge in without considering the consequences. White Rangers seek to purify the environment around them. Combine them together and you would have a walking bloodbath that tries to purify the world of those who might one day do something wrong. Is that what you want to become Tommy?"
"You're grasping at straws," the white persona shot back. His voice had an amused tone. "Tommy is a White Ninja, not a White Dinosaur."
"The point remains, you need the darkness Tommy if only to contrast the light. Because I assure you that too much good is just as dangerous as too much evil. Remember: the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. You are a Green Ranger by nature Tommy, you wore the white because it meant you could return as a Ranger, but that is not your personality. Your personality cannot handle that much light, you are destined to forever walk the line between light and darkness. Fail to realise that and the world will suffer more than if you had stayed Rita's evil Green Ranger."
"You can't deny me Tommy," the white look-alike proclaimed. "If you want to be good, I'm all you need."
"I'm not asking you to exclude him," the green part countered. "But if I can accept that you need the light as well as the darkness, why can't he accept that the opposite is true?"
"I need both," Tommy said. "I need to be complete. I need the light and the darkness, the good and the not-so-good."
"And you said he'd never get it," green smirked before holding out his hand. Just as he had in the real world, the image merged with Tommy in mind and spirit. The white part shook his head and did likewise, fusing the boy known as Tommy together again. Just as the darkness that had been ebbing forward swallowed them.
It was easy to tell that at least one Ranger was in dire peril. It was accompanied by a definite lack of panic in the Power Chamber that could only exist because the occupants were in a state of shock. This time was no different as Zordon had summoned the Rangers only to tell them the fate that had befallen Tommy.
"We still have no idea where Tommy has gone," Alpha commented.
"Can you lock onto their energy patterns and teleport them?" Tanya asked.
"Ai-yi-yi-yi-yi, we cannot detect them," Alpha repeated.
"But we have a way of tracing him," Adam pointed out. "They are linked to the Zeo Crystal."
"Your plan has merit Trey," Zordon interrupted. "However, there is a chance that Mondo could use Tommy's Zeoniser to prevent the Zeo Rangers from attacking."
"Well, if we know where he is we can at least make an attempt," Trent pointed out.
"Teleporting back to the Machine Base would be extremely foolish," Zordon warned.
"We do not have a choice," Trey told him. "Tommy gave up his chance at freedom to buy me an opportunity. If we do not free him, we could have an evil Ranger on our hands. I do not need to tell you what that means."
"I cannot stop you Trey," Zordon conceded, his tone that of disappointment.
"I'm sorry Zordon," Trey answered. "I have to do this."
"We'll come with you," Rocky said, but Trey shook his head.
"We need you to stay here guys," he explained, looking at each of the Rangers in turn. "Someone has to be there if we fail."
The Rangers nodded as Trey, Trent and Travis teleported away.
Three beams of light, one gold and the other two a strange shade of off-white coalesced into three warriors, one the Gold Ranger, the other two were wearing the traditional combat suits of Triforian Special Forces.
"Nothing yet," Trent commented, using a handheld flashlight to illuminate the shadowed corridors.
"Keep alert," Gold Ranger warned. Trent had a tendency to let his mind wander.
"Which way do you think we ought to go?"
"Your guess is as good as mine, I didn't get a good look last time I was here. We need to find a control room. The computer should tell us where they're keeping him."
"Not to interrupt such stimulating conversation," Travis said, sounding bored. He always sounded bored in these matters. "He was observant though. "I think that little blue light means they know we're here.
Trey nodded. "We should move then."
They took off down the hall, looking for a control room or the torture chamber. Either would do for now.
"Look!" Travis exclaimed, pointing to a wall where a modified Cog was interrogating a computer.
"Golden Power Staff!" Trey called quietly. His next act was not so quiet as he swung for the Cog, severing the arm from its body and sending the machine sprawling across the corridor. A second swing destroyed its cranial unit.
"Can you work it," Trent asked Travis while Trey dealt with the Cog. The remainder of the arm was the only means of accessing the console. A careful series of turns and depressions started the screen scrolling through pages of data.
"Found them," Travis proclaimed.
"And they found us!" Trent cried in response. "Trey, we have company!"
He and Travis sank to one, their standard issue weapons drawn and pointed at the oncoming machines.
"Find Tommy, we'll hold them off."
Gold Ranger nodded and took off at a run.
Time was running out.
The Mapomatic was working perfectly, rewriting vast sections of the human's mind. At least it was, until there was a bright flash of green, white and red that in turn caused the machine to malfunction. Tommy stirred, opened his eyes and wished he hadn't. His vision swam and se was unsteady, no doubt due to spending his time having his nerves jolted with high voltage. Blinking to clear his vision he tried to stand. His body ached and he had a number of bad bruises, luckily however he didn't seem to have any broken bones.
With considerable effort he lifted his hand to his chest and wrenched the machine loose, throwing it at a shocked Klank. Mondo stormed forward accompanied by his Cogs. Tommy braced himself for a fight, not that he could do much with his head spinning. Still the claxon that sounded throughout the chamber gave him some hope. The others had come to rescue him.
"The door is locked," Trey reported.
After failing to make progress, they had regrouped and were now working one corridor at a time; Trey taking out any units ahead while Trent and Travis watched their backs.
"We are almost there," Trent noted.
"Okay, when the door opens, we go in full power," Trey instructed as he reached out to the panel that opened the door and pushed it. With a whisper of machinery the door slid upward and the three warriors entered the room carefully.
"Move!" Trey cried as Trent and Travis blasted the Cogs.
Looking up Gold Ranger used a Gold Flash to destroy the few surveillance cameras. As soon as the Cogs were down, Trent and Travis turned their attention to Tommy, while Trey kept the mechanical monarch at bay.
"Are you okay?" Travis asked, cutting the manacles free.
"I am now," answered Tommy, his voice hoarse. He had been through more in the time he had been here than they would ever know. "Zeo Ranger V, Red!"
"I still have you Rangers," Mondo gloated.
Trent didn't respond. "Teleport, now..." They tried but failed.
"I lost you once Gold Ranger. That won't happen again," Mondo boasted.
"All right Mondo, If you want us, here we are, come and get us." Tommy was back in his role as leader.
Mondo laughed, "Cogs... attack!"
Gold Ranger, Red Zeo Ranger and two Triforian heroes opened fire, using their respective weapons to destroy the robotic soldiers. As the Cogs began to close in Trey brought the Golden Power Staff back to the front. "Time for a Gold Rush!"
As Trent and Travis fell back, weapons trained on the doors, Tommy stood to one side - Zeo V Power Sword drawn - he fought off any Cog foolish enough to get too close.
"We can't keep this up for long," Trent noted. It was true, he and Travis only had limited ammunition, Trey's Gold Rush could only last so long and Tommy was already exhausted from his ordeal.
"Aim at the floor," Trey called. "Tommy, use your Zeo Pistol. Mondo, either let us teleport or we'll turn this chamber into a vacuum."
"Silly organics," Mondo mocked. "I'm a machine, I cannot be hurt by vacuum. You humans however..."
He droned on, but Trey was not listening, he was watching Klank's panicked reaction and spotted where the retainer looked.
"There!" he pointed. Three shots rang out, destroying the console that prevented their leaving. "Now, go!"
In four streaks of light they were gone.
A fortnight later Tommy stood alone on the mountain range outside of the Power Chamber, in the spot where years before he had seen the Thunder Zords for the first time. In his hand he held a small golden coin, which he had borrowed for a short time from the safety of its spatial pocket.
At the insistence of Zordon, his friends and members of his family who had been kept awake by nightmares, Tommy had started to seek the services of a psychologist. It had taken time to convince her he was not raving and a trip to the Power Chamber before she believed what he was saying. After that though she had started to help him deal with his issues, leading to this moment.
The time had come, decisions had been put off too long and it was important for him to move on with his life. Moving on though required him to accept certain truths that until now he had denied. It was a case of now or never, he needed to face his fears and move on with his life.
Despite all that had happened, Tommy Oliver still had his doubts about the Green Ranger powers. But he knew in his heart that the only way to conquer his fear of becoming evil the moment he touched the Power, was to face it. He had to let the power of the Green Ranger become a part of him once more.
He reached deep, knowing it was now or never, do or die. In his heart he was petrified and silently he prayed that should anything go wrong, should he be made evil again that his fellow Rangers would kill him before he harmed anybody. But despite his fears he had to do this because so long as that fear had any hold on him, he risked one villain or another using it against him. He was all for denying Rita, Zedd and Mondo any chance to turn him evil again.
The power was tremendous as for the first time in a long time, Tommy willingly transformed into the Green Ranger. And he felt good. There were no desires to rape and pillage the city, no sense of weakness or vulnerability; it felt right.
Even as he powered down again, knowing this was the last time he would transform using that coin, he felt relief. He would still need to attend his appointments, there were still things he needed to talk about with someone who would not judge him. But this was another step on the road to recovery. He was normal again, well as a Power Ranger with a tendency to become a puppet of the villain of the day could be.
He looked at the coin and then placed it back in its secure place. He didn't need it, he had the Zeo powers. But for the first time in a long while, Tommy Oliver was complete.