Disclaimer: I do not own Power Rangers, they are owned by the respective copyright owners. Power Rangers the Movie is property of Fox. This is a retelling of Graduation Blues and has been altered for storytelling purposes within my series.
Mr Caplan had been the Principal at Angel Grove High School for almost nine years and considered himself a firm yet fair administrator. He encouraged student participation in issues arising outside of school life; pollution was a special concern of his and sometimes he missed Trini Kwan and her petitions. However he was also a strict disciplinarian who held no tolerance for the more antisocial members of the student body and their behaviour. Bulk and Skull were regulars in detention and despite their beliefs to the contrary, he knew exactly what they got up to when he left them alone. Today though was one of his more pleasurable tasks, when he had the opportunity to speak to a student who not only took his education seriously, but was an inspirational role model to Angel Grove's younger citizens.
There was a knock at the door and he quickly placed the file he had been reading back into the appropriate tray. He wanted this discussion to occur without distractions. It was such a rare occurrence when a young man truly reinforced his faith in the school system.
"Come in," he called, deliberately keeping his voice neutral until he knew who it was. Although having given the instructions to his secretary not to allow anybody else to see him, he had a very good idea who was outside the door. The handle moved and the door opened slowly, revealing the nervous teenager he had sent for. "Ah, Billy, punctual as well as hard working. Good, good, another trait I wish some of your fellow students would learn."
"Thank you, Sir," Billy replied. He tried not to sound nervous, but couldn't help feeling just a little concern about the reason Mr Caplan had asked to see him.
The principal took his time, studying the boy now standing in front of his desk. From the chemistry book in his hand he could imagine Billy had not been expecting his request and had been on his way to class. Although given what he knew about Billy, this could have been just a bit of extra study. ~And to think his teachers wonder why he aces their tests.~
"I imagine you're wondering why I asked you here Billy. No, don't look so worried; you haven't done anything wrong. Quite the opposite in fact, I'm afraid we've been unfair to you."
"I don't understand," Billy replied, clearly confused.
"As you know, the school's board recently asked that we review all our academic records following the installation of our new computer system. It was a good thing they did, the spreadsheet that monitors our grading system had a coding error and-- well let's just say if we hadn't found it some of your fellow students would be leaving with a negative average. I'm afraid your grades were among those that have been misrepresented for the last two years. You've taken more classes than any other student and managed to maintain a 4.0 Grade Point Average in those classes, an amazing accomplishment and one that leaves us with a problem."
"I don't understand Mr Caplan," Billy confessed.
"In simple terms, Billy, you've amassed both the grades and hours needed to graduate. In fact you have exceeded that requirement and should have graduated at the end of last year." He saw the look of panic in Billy's eyes, the slight tremor as he dropped his chemistry book and knew instinctively that while he was academically finished at the school, he was not ready to move on just yet. "Had you been any other student Billy, I would have insisted that you graduate today and left immediately. However, I clearly remember the young man who started here just a few years ago and I see before me the man you've become. It's clear to me that the environment here has helped you to become a more sociable person and learn the skills you would not necessarily find in a book. And that is why I'm satisfied I have found a solution."
Billy looked up hopefully, interpreting the principal's words to mean that there was a way he could remain in the school until it was time to graduate. He didn't want to leave yet, to become further separated from his friends, the Zeo Rangers, than he had been since allowing Tanya to keep the Yellow Zeo powers.
"Personally, I would be in dereliction of my duty if I did not push you forward, Billy. You have a great mind and it would be a terrible waste to see you held back when there is nothing to stop you progressing further." He sighed, this was harder than he thought. "I'm going to suggest that you take this opportunity to better yourself. I can arrange for you to act as a teaching assistant in some classes to give you a position of responsibility. This will go on your permanent record and count as extra credit. The rest of the time I suggest you look into a part-time course at the college and take the opportunity to join some of the fine clubs you seem to have overlooked. Coach Stevens was sorry to see you leave the Football Team and I believe such activities will help you present a more rounded resume to future employers. You'll be on a flexible timetable, though of course you are free to graduate now if you would rather."
"Thank you, Sir," Billy answered, feeling numb that his comfortable routine of schoolwork and homework had been thrown out the window.
"Very well, you may go," Caplan smiled as he made a show of tucking the diploma in his desk drawer. He knew Billy would need time to think this out, but was certain the boy would see that continuing at Angel Grove High School after all this would have a detrimental effect on his future. He trusted Billy to come to the right conclusion on his own and to tell him when he had done so. "And Billy, congratulations, you've worked hard to accomplish this."
And with a firm handshake, Billy left the principal's office, secretly wishing perhaps that he had been given detention. He stooped and picked up his chemistry book on the way out. He held his silence long after he had escaped the outer office, waiting until he was at the front entrance before asking himself: "Now what?"
When Bulk and Skull had signed up for the Junior Police Patrol, they had done so for the girls. They both knew that was the truth, just as Lieutenant Stone realised that was probably the only reason they were even remotely interested in what would normally be too much like hard work for the bothersome pair. He had read their school reports, part of the vetting procedure for Junior Police applicants, and had instantly reached for the stamp to decline their application.
What had changed his mind that day he wasn't sure, perhaps it was an overwhelming desire to teach the two boys a lesson and make them realise the level of dedication they needed to join the force. He knew even now that Bulk and Skull were the most unlikely Junior Police he had ever met. So why had he helped them and pushed them to succeed? He didn't believe it had anything to do with the annoying sergeant with the bald head who had insisted on telling him that Bulk and Skull would make fine officers.
He had tried to think of as many ways to justify his decision as possible, but in the end it boiled down to the fact that they had impressed him. When he had heard them talking about quitting, he had felt that his instincts had been correct. Then he had heard Bulk tell his smaller sidekick that they would succeed and had decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. The pair had not let him down and had completed their training.
Since then he had not regretted his decision. Sure the boys were bunglers, accident prone and almost certain to get mixed up in any trouble, but they couldn't always be blamed for what happened. ~This is Angel Grove,~ he mused, ~and it's not as if they invite monsters into their homes and consider them pets.~
Unfortunately for Lieutenant Stone, while he liked Bulk and Skull, they presented him with the constant problem of finding tasks for them without making it obvious that many of his superiors refused to sanction them for any jobs that involved members of the public. Where possible he had complied with requests to "keep them out of the way", but it was becoming difficult to do so. There were only so many quiet parking lots and security details he could find for them.
He jumped at their response; it still annoyed him that for such a clumsy, and in Bulkmier's case awkward duo, they could sneak up behind him so easily.
"Don't do that!" he told them for the hundredth time that week. He saw the two exchange sly smiles and knew that once again it had not been an act of stupidity, but a demonstration of what they could accomplish. He chose not to approach that subject. "The Police Academy recently had a picnic in this part of the park," he told them, gesturing to the small eating area close to Angel Grove Park's lake. "Now as police officers we cannot go around having picnics and leaving the area a mess, can we?" He waited until his Junior Patrollers had finished nodding before he pushed a pointed stick at each of them. "Glad we agree. You boys will pick up every piece of litter in this area. I will be back in an hour to see how you are doing. Any questions?"
He walked off, waiting until they couldn't see him before rubbing his ear. Sometimes he wished they wouldn't shout so enthusiastically.
Bulk and Skull watched him go and then exchanged a brief glance. They nodded and gave a shrill whistle, watching as the Goldar and Rito emerged from the bushes. The two henchmen readily accepted the sticks from their masters, still having no idea that in the past these humans would have been working for them as slaves.
"Now, get to w-WO!" Bulk exclaimed as the ground rumbled. He turned around in time to see a plane of some kind, he quickly realised it was a space capsule, landing over the hill.
"Come on," Skull urged, curious to see what had landed and for some reason not concerned that it would be an aggressive alien.
"Hey," Bulk said as they approached. "There could be someone trapped in there." His eyes lit up in that speculative way Skull had come to recognise after years of friendship. "If we save him, we could be ... heroes."
They spent the next minute or so kicking the door, trying to release it after finding the handle didn't work. Finally there was a hiss as the air pressure equalised on both sides and the door slid open, drenching Bulk, Skull and their servants with water.
Bulk screamed. He couldn't help it; of all the things he had expected to find in an alien spaceship, an alien was not one of them. Skull joined him as the black suited alien emerged. Taking this to be the native language the alien started screaming in response, an action that set started Goldar and Rito off and as a result made Bulk scream all the louder. When after a few minutes Bulk realised that the alien was probably not going to hurt them, he decided it must be scared of them, hence the screaming.
"Hi there," he said in a loud and slow voice that would have made many obnoxious tourists proud. "We're not going to hurt-- you."
"Please," the alien replied. "I must find the one known as Zordon."
"Zordon?" Bulk repeated, "I don't know any Zordon. Do you?"
"I do!" Rito exclaimed, scratched his skull and then amended, "Nope, I forgot."
"You... I know you," the alien said, looking at Goldar and then Rito. He started to back away having heard the tales of Goldar and Rito. Suddenly he did not feel so trusting of the two Earthmen. He turned and started to run. "I must find Zordon, the fate of my world depends on it."
"Mommy, Daddy!" Sprocket cried. "Come and see."
"What is it Sprocket?" his father asked, shuffling his large frame towards his newest model son.
"Yes, what could possibly excuse this shouting dear? It's simply vulgar to exclaim so loudly in front of the Cogs," Machina added, her fan opened to cover her embarrassment at her son's antics.
"Something just entered the Earth's atmosphere," Sprocket explained.
"Really?" Now Mondo was interested. He studied the planet, searching for the incoming craft. "An Aquitian! How dare he land on Earth without my permission?"
"Oh no," Machina moaned. "Those organics are simply dreadful with their rust producing planet. They're ten times worse than those Earthlings. Tell me dear, isn't he one of those Aquitian Rangers?"
Mondo focussed in on the alien, running his appearance against the Machine Empire's enormous database of enemies. "Yes my beloved queen, he is. But no matter, Aquitian Ranger or not his powers are quite useless against us."
"But not against the Rangers, right Daddy?"
"Quiet Sprocket, your father is thinking," Machina admonished. ~We really should have installed that upgrade that allowed Sprocket to be seen and not heard.~
"No, Sprocket has a good point," Mondo told her. "This Ranger is no match for us, but against those Zeo Rangers he could prove useful. Now then, this is what we shall do... Klank!"
Ernie's parties did not always make things right, for that matter they sometimes made things seem worse than they really were. Still, at that moment in time, Billy was grateful that he had friends such as Tommy, Tanya, Adam, Rocky, and Kat, who would think to throw him a party and attempt to lighten his mood.
"So Billy, what do you plan to do with all the extra time?" Kat asked.
"I have yet to allocate a suitable activity for that duration," Billy admitted.
"Hey, maybe you could tutor us," Rocky suggested.
"Rocky, he already tutors us," Adam pointed out. "If he did any more, he might as well do our homework for us."
There was a silence during which Rocky seemed to ponder such an occurrence.
"Saved by the tone," Tanya teased as their communicators sounded. The six teens made their way to Ernie's back area.
"We're here Zordon," Tommy half-whispered.
"Rangers, teleport to the Power Chamber immediately," Zordon ordered.
After checking they were in the clear, the Rangers did as they were told, teleporting to the chamber underneath the citadel in the middle of the desert outside of Angel Grove.
"We're here Zordon," Tommy stated when they arrived.
Zordon continued as if the Red Ranger had not spoken. "Behold the Viewing Screen, what you are seeing occurred just before we contacted you. The spaceship is of Aquitian design and land some time ago."
"Aquitians?" Tanya asked.
"Aquitar is an ocean world and the Earth's closest neighbour with a live population. The Aquitians are a peaceful race that live in Aquitar's ocean cities. As such they are unsuited to the environment on Earth."
"So why would one come here?" Kat asked.
"Ai-yi-yi, the computer has locked onto his pattern within the Morphin Grid. His name is Cestro, one of the Power Rangers of Aquitar."
"Alien Rangers?" Tanya asked.
"You didn't believe that Earth was the only planet with Rangers did you?" Billy asked. Tanya looked sheepish and tried to shrink away as Billy added, "Even when you know Zordon is an alien being trapped in a time warp and Rita is a space witch?"
"So Cestro is on our side," Tanya said, coming to her blue teammate's rescue.
"Affirmative. The question would be why he felt it necessary to come to Earth."
"Hey, why don't we ask him?" Tommy suggested.
The others seemed to agree and teleported away, leaving Billy to monitor the scene. "Am I the only one who wonders why Bulk and Skull are walking with an Aquitian Ranger, and Rito and Goldar?" Zordon didn't answer, but his soft laughter echoed through the Power Chamber.
Bulk and Skull jumped as five Power Rangers appeared before them, said Rangers extremely grateful that Billy and Zordon had installed holographic generators on their Zeonisers so they could appear morphed to any non-Ranger humans without needing to morph. It meant that while Bulk and Skull couldn't see their faces, the Aquitian was less likely to find their sudden arrival threatening.
"Ah, the Power Rangers!" Bulk announced triumphantly, thumping Cestro on the back as he did so. "These citizens might be able to help you, sir." He chuckled in a heroic fashion.
"Cestro?" Kat asked.
Cestro shifted as he heard his name.
"Zordon sent us," Adam told him calmly.
"I must see him," Cestro told them urgently. "Only he can help me find the one who can save my world."
"We'll take you to him," Tommy offered.
Cestro nodded and the Rangers teleported away.
"Cestro, it is good to see you again," Zordon greeted. The last time he had seen the Aquitian had been during a lecture he had given on battlefield strategy.
"I am glad I found you Zordon," Cestro replied, making a gesture of peace. "I am afraid that I do not come to reminisce. Aquitar has been under siege for many years by our dreaded enemy the Hydro Hog. Now he has found a new weapon, enormous engines that pollute our oceans, the most sacred resource on Aquitar. We do not know where he found such weapons, but he has used them to attract an alien race that call themselves the Hydro Contaminators. Unless we can destroy the engines and the monsters they attract, my people are lost."
"Couldn't you fight them?" Billy asked. He had taken time to learn as much as possible about the Aquitians before Cestro arrived. He had seen they were active Rangers, holding powers similar to those that Billy had used during his time as a Ninja Ranger. There were also references to the legendary Ninjor giving them battle machines to protect Aquitar.
"I am afraid our weapons are ineffective against the Hydro Contaminators. No matter what we try, our energies are simply repelled. They used their first attack to shut down out computer system. Without those mainframes our teleportation system has failed; our planet's Battleborgs have also been rendered useless."
"That explains the spaceship then," Billy commented.
"Yes, without teleportation and communication, this was the only way to find help."
"The Rangers of Earth will help you," Billy told him, already he could see that having a friendship with the Rangers of another world would be useful.
"That will not be necessary," Cestro told him. "Zordon, I need to speak to the one you call Billy. News of his genius is known beyond this planet although many refuse to believe it."
"I am Billy," Billy told him, realising in the rush to discuss Cestro's arrival they had dispensed with the courtesy of an introduction.
"Then perhaps you can help me," Cestro said. He pulled out a sheet of paper that Billy recognised as the technical schematics for some kind of weapon. Obviously without the use of a computer the Aquitians had been forced to make do. "Our analysis shows this weapon will work, but we have been unable to make it reliable."
"I will do what I can," Billy promised. "Have you managed to produce a working prototype yet?"
"Yes, but it is still in my ship."
"Hey, we'll go and get it for you," Tommy offered, just before the alarm sounded.
"Ai-yi-yi, King Mondo is trying to steal the ship."
The Rangers didn't need to wait for instructions. After dealing with the Machine Empire they were aware that Mondo would turn anything he found inside the ship against them. The idea of Cestro's weapon, even in an unreliable state being turned on them was unappealing at best. And since the ship was also Cestro's only guaranteed way of returning to his world, they understood the urgency of stopping the Cogs.
"It's Morphin Time!"
"Zeo Ranger I - Pink!"
"Zeo Ranger II - Yellow!"
"Zeo Ranger III - Blue!"
"Zeo Ranger IV - Green!"
"Zeo Ranger V - Red!"
While the five Rangers teleported into battle, Billy and Cestro started to review the schematics. For Billy it was a welcome distraction from watching his friends in battle. As much as he hated to admit it he was really starting to regret giving up his chance of being a Zeo Ranger. For Cestro, the few times he looked at the Viewing Screen revealed that the rumours he had heard were true; the Rangers of Earth were a force to be reckoned with.
They winced in sympathy when Rocky took a nasty blow to the back as the Cogs started to gang up against him, then shared a grin as the Blue Zeo Ranger skilfully ducked a Cog's eyebeams, which then went on to slag the two robots behind its intended target.
"Billy, you must hurry," Zordon spoke up, surprising the two Rangers since they had assumed he too was waiting for the others to get back. "Intergalactic travel between Earth and Aquitar is dangerous without a portal. The current portal will close within the next two hours and will not reopen for another two weeks."
"Is that normal?" Billy inquired.
"Earth and Aquitar share a direct path for only a short time during which the portal can be accessed. After it closes we must wait for the planets to rotate into the correct position to try again."
"Right," Billy conceded, reaching for the communicator. "Tommy, we need that weapon back here."
"We have our hands full," was Tommy's short reply.
Billy and Cestro nodded and before Zordon could stop them, teleported to the ship in the hope that the Rangers would keep the Cogs busy long enough for them to retrieve what they needed.
Away from the immediate battle between the Rangers and the Cogs, another ship was about to land. This one spelled disaster for the Earth should its occupant make contact with the native water supply. It was one of the Hydro Contaminators, one of a number who had designated themselves as defenders of the machine that had attracted them. It had a nonferrous metallic body, which was shaped like a landmine. It had been sent with the sole purpose of stopping Cestro. However, when it realised its quarry had reached the allies it sought, the Contaminator had changed its approach, deciding that by contaminating the Earth's water, any potential allies would be too worried about their own problems to consider aiding Aquitar.
He noticed the Cogs drawing the other Rangers away, and when he saw that Billy and Cestro were alone with the weapon, he decided the time had come to see if he could contaminate a human. ~After all, they are mostly water.~
"Not so fast!" Rocky yelled as he teleported in front of the metal monster. The other Zeo Rangers joined their friend in the face off just as Mondo decided that it was time to help against a mutual foe. He dispatched more of his Cogs into battle, with orders to aid the Hydro Contaminator.
Using the distraction, Billy and Cestro teleported back to the Power Chamber, hoping that they would be able to get the weapon working and be able to test it against the Hydro Contaminator.
"Logically, if the molecular bonds within the monster are the same as the machine, the weapon will be effective against the machine and anything it can create."
The Zeo Rangers kept fighting the Cogs on the beach for a while, but had to abandon the battle when they saw the Hydro Contaminator heading for the lake. They managed to get there in time to stop him, but doing so, had allowed the Cogs to regroup. Rather than fight though the Cogs teleported away and now on his own, the Hydro Contaminator also took the opportunity to withdraw.
"Time's running out," Billy growled as he painstakingly slotted one of the last pieces of circuitry into place.
After their opponents had vanished, the Rangers had returned to the Power Chamber and started searching for Hydro Contaminator's activity. Adam had been the one to suggest they check the places where water entered the system, which had led to a detailed scan of the Angel Grove Dam, the pumping station, many water towers and even the out-of-town spring. So far though they had failed to find any traces of activity. But when they scanned the treatment plant, they discovered the telltale signs that something was wrong. Terrified citizens running from the buildings were a clear sign something was wrong.
"Will this work, Billy?" Kat asked.
"I think so," the young genius replied before addressing the entire Zeo team. "I have integrated the prototype to work in conjunction with the Zeo Power Weapons to create the Zeo Power Blaster. With a few modifications to handle the different environment, I believe the weapon will function adequately on Aquitar. I just have a few more modifications to make."
"Rangers, you must go ahead and try to slow the Hydro Contaminator before he can locate the water source," Zordon told them.
"I am sorry Rangers," Cestro said. "If I had known I was being followed I would have stayed away. Now I have endangered your world as well as my own."
"Hey, don't worry about it. Earth was already under attack and we agreed to help you. That's what Rangers do." Tommy told him as he picked up his helmet from the console. "Back to Action!" The five Rangers vanished in columns of light.
"Your students are a tribute to your teachings, Zordon," Cestro told him as he watched the Zeo Rangers lay waste to the Cogs that had appeared to show the Hydro Contaminator the way to the water supply. They were using their Zeo Power Weapons to dismember the foot soldiers, but against the Hydro Contaminator their efforts seemed wasted.
"I cannot take credit for the bravery of my Rangers," Zordon answered. "It is their strength that has made them such a formidable force."
"The Hydro Contaminator's ability to alter its molecules into a liquid state makes it too fast for them to attack," Billy surmised as Tanya took a nasty blow to the left shoulder.
"Alpha, reconfigure the Rangers' helmets to adjust for his speed," Zordon instructed. "Billy, the Rangers need the weapon."
"Oh boy, this is the best monster I've seen in days," they heard Sprocket announce as Billy completed the last piece and prepared to prime the weapon.
"I am not certain I can make the modifications to the weapon," Cestro confessed. Seeing Billy work had been an amazing sight and made him realise just how little about the technology he understood.
"I know," Billy admitted. "I anticipated this and, - the only way I can ensure the weapon works is if I accompany you to Aquitar."
"I cannot ask you to do that Billy, the risk is too great."
"I'm not letting you ask me," Billy retorted. "I'm asking you to take me with you."
"The Rangers of both worlds are lucky to have you in their lives," Cestro stated, slapping Billy on the back in what he had observed to be a gesture of encouragement.
Billy stumbled forward, his contact lenses falling on the floor as he did so. As he scrambled to find them, he failed to notice Alpha approaching until the robot had stood on them, cracking the lenses and leaving Billy visually impaired and the weapon's completion looking bleak.
"Zeo V Power Sword!" Tommy cried, slashing at the Hydro Contaminator and forcing him back before ducking aside and allowing the other Zeo Rangers to blast it with their Zeo Pistols. He combined His Zeo Sword and Zeo Pistol to form an advanced version of the Zeo Pistol, which then fired a pure Oxygen field at the monster. The move was successful and the Hydro Contaminator fell from the building. When he tried to get back up, the Rangers were there, weapons drawn and ready to put him right back down.
"Guys, this is Billy, I'm sending you the weapon now."
"Got it," Tommy acknowledged. "Zeo Blaster..."
"Power Up!" the others cried.
"Pull it in guys," Tommy ordered and the Rangers assumed what seemed like the most helpful firing position, bracing their leader against the recoil. "Fire!" A massive ball of energy shot from the weapon, striking the Hydro Contaminator and evaporating him with its superheated beam.
The Rangers ensured that he remained defeated before teleporting back to the Power Chamber.
"Where's Billy?" Rocky asked.
"I am sorry Rangers," Zordon told them. "You are too late."
The Viewing Screen centerd in on Angel Grove Park where Billy and Cestro were preparing the ship for launch. Minutes earlier they had been told that time was running out and they had little time to get ready. Billy had reluctantly agreed to go without saying goodbye when Zordon had pointed out he had done all he could for his friends.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Cestro asked.
"Affirmative," Billy answered. "I will miss my friends, but this is the chance of a lifetime. Besides, it took me too long to convince my dad to let me go to back out now."
Had they been there the Rangers would have laughed at the scene as Billy and Cestro tried to load their things into the ship. But the Rangers were not in the Power Chamber; they had teleported to the park. They were too late to say goodbye in person though because the hatch had already closed.
"Billy!" Tanya shouted.
The door panel became transparent, showing Billy as he waved to them and smiled, pleased that his friends had come to wish him a good trip.
"We'll miss you, pal," Tommy remarked, but his words were lost as the engines roared to life.
The ship took off, leaving the Rangers in the crater as they watched their friend disappear on his next big adventure.
"Good luck Billy!" Tanya called as the ship disappeared from view, bending down to pick up the chemistry book he had once again managed to drop, and leaving the Rangers to wonder: "What now?"