Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, they belong to the respective copyright owners. Large sections of this story were originally written by Ellen Brand and featured in her series Personality Conflicts. They are used with permission and I thank Ellen for allowing me to do this. Lillian, Jamie, Christina and Katarina are COE versions of Lillian O'Neil, Jamie Zedden, Christina Collins and Katarina Petronov from Personality Conflicts. The original names and their characters are the property of either Ellen Brand or Jennifer Bigley.
Ties the Bind Part 2 - Dark Heritage
In the park, Jamie stopped to unsheathe her new sword and try a few practice moves. Sitting under a tree, Jason watched her, smiling. She looked completely natural with it, despite its odd manufacture. Like Mr Hill, Jason didn't feel that there was anything directly malevolent about the sword, but something very strange was happening, all the same.
The arrival of a flash of gold fire broke both teens' concentration. Goldar appeared in the middle of the park, grinning evilly at the two of them. Jason immediately scrambled to his feet, cursing his poor reactions; as a Ranger he should have been alert for such an occurrence. Meanwhile, Jamie had stepped in between Goldar and Jason, sword held at the ready. Jason almost allowed himself to smirk at the idea that he was the super hero and she was protecting him.
"Relax, Jason, I'm not here for you," Goldar growled as he noticed the Red Ranger.
"If you're after Jamie, you tin-plated baboon, you can just forget it," Jason growled back. "You'll have to go through me to get to her. And we both know you didn't do so well against me last time we met."
"Your little girlfriend here is quite safe, for the time being. All I want is the sword. Hand it over, and I'm out of your hair."
Jamie raised an eyebrow. "You want my sword, the one I just paid twenty dollars for, I don't think so."
"Give it to me, human. You have no use for it, no clue about its true power and worth. It's useless to you."
She shrugged. "It's got an edge, so it can cut. How useless can it be? Tell you what. You want this sword? You come fight me for it. The winner takes the sword."
"Are you crazy?!" Jason cried. "Get away from here, now!"
He should have morphed, but as he looked at her he had the feeling that he was supposed to stand back and let things take their natural course.
Jamie barely glanced at him. "What do you say, Goldilocks? You against me, winner takes the sword, and no matter what, nothing happens to Jason."
Goldar thought for a moment, and then nodded. "It shall be done."
The two combatants immediately took "guard" stances. Then, with a ringing down slice, Goldar attacked. Jamie blocked him, and the fight was on. Immediately, it was apparent that the two warriors were masters of their art. Their cuts, thrusts, and parries, formed a glittering web of razored steel that glinted in the sun. Goldar was far stronger than the human girl, but Jamie had grace and speed on her side. They were evenly matched.
Then Goldar tripped over a root, and Jamie stepped away to let him rise, never taking her eyes off him. Instead of standing, however, the monster fired two energy bolts from his eyes. Jamie instinctively lifted her sword to block them, but instead, the blade absorbed them and fired them back as a bolt of multicoloured energy, which Goldar barely managed to dodge. Taking advantage of Jamie's shock, the flying monkey leaped into the air and knocked the sword from her hands with his own.
"You put up quite a fight, human. I'll do you the honour of making your end swift," he cackled, shooting another larger golden energy beam at her. Jamie crossed her arms in front of her face in a futile attempt to block the attack, and absorbed the shot. An indistinct aura formed around her - it could have been any colour but neither Jason nor Goldar could say for sure since a barrier of milky, grey mist covered it - as she stared at her hands in astonishment. Then she looked up at Goldar and smiled. Suddenly, a large bolt of energy left her hands and struck him directly in the chest, knocking him back several feet. With a low groan, the monster disappeared, leaving the two teens alone in the park.
"Well, that was fun," Jamie grinned, turning towards Jason as her aura flickered out. "What was all that about?"
"I think that sword gave you special powers," Jason managed. "God, you must have a death wish or something. That guy could have killed you!"
She shrugged. "I knew I could take him. I think the sword told me."
Looking down at her, Jason sighed. He was going to have to tell Zordon about this. "Get that sword and come back here, okay? There's someone I think we should talk to about this."
She did as he asked. "Who? Where are we going?"
He smiled. "You'll see." When she came within an arm's length, he reached out and grabbed her, simultaneously teleporting them both to the Power Chamber.
"Jason, is something the matter?" Zordon asked as the two teens materialized.
"You could say that, Zordon," Jason replied. Jamie, meanwhile, was staring around the Power Chamber with awe. "Goldar attacked us in the park. He wanted Jamie's sword. She fought him for it, beat him, and then absorbed an energy bolt he threw at her. She did it, not the sword."
"Hmm." Jason couldn't be sure but Zordon seemed to hesitate and for a moment he thought his mentor was about to send them away. "Alpha, please run a scan on the sword," Zordon requested, already knowing where the sword had come from. ~The odds of this happening are incalculable.~.
"May I see it?" Alpha asked Jamie timidly. Any girl who could take on Goldar without Ranger powers was not someone he wanted mad at him.
"Friends of yours?" she asked Jason dryly.
"You can trust them."
Reluctantly, she relinquished the sword to Alpha 5. "I want that back in one piece!" she called after the retreating android. "So where are we, and who are they?" she asked, turning back to Jason.
"Jamie Zedden, meet Zordon of Eltare, inter-dimensional being and mentor to the Power Rangers."
"Power Rangers? You're a-"
He nodded. "Yes, the red one. I recently got my powers back, but I'm not on active duty... it's a long story."
"Oh. Well maybe that's a story we can save for another time."
"Yeah," he smiled. "Maybe later."
"Jamie Zedden?" Zordon interrupted them; frowning as his fears were confirmed. "Aged seventeen, daughter of Lawrence Zedden?"
"Yeah," she responded, puzzled. "My dad's dead, though. Do you know me?"
Zordon sighed. "It would be more appropriate to say that I know of you. I now have my suspicions as to what occurred in the park, although I will have to wait until Alpha finishes his analysis of the sword to be sure."
Jamie looked at Jason, who shrugged. He had no idea what Zordon was talking about.
"Ai yi yi! Analysis completed, Zordon! The sword is of alien manufacture, the last blade manufactured at the bequest of Cathabad and stolen over three hundred millennia ago! It was last seen in the possession of -"
"-That's enough Alpha!" Zordon snapped suddenly. His voice was uncharacteristically harsh.
~Why me?~ he wondered as he stared at Jamie speculatively. Which would be better, to lie or tell the truth? Either would have potentially explosive consequences in the future. In the end he just sighed and said heavily: "Then it is true."
"What is true? What's going on here?" Jamie asked.
"It is a long story. Long ago it was discovered that some races while capable of wielding the powers of a Power Ranger, were unsuited for the demands such a role placed on the individual. A wizard named Ralthor took pity upon one such group: the Zarakin, a race that after being driven from their homes numerous times, had settled upon the world of Danata. And while unable to go against the Council's wishes with regards to a Ranger team, since Danata was deemed too primitive to allow such a team, he was able to provide them with the means to defend themselves in the form of the elemental weapons. Ralthor fashioned six blades representing the major elemental forces of Danata: fire, water, earth, air, heart and lightning. He shaped the magically endowed blades into swords and gave the Zarakin knowledge of the techniques needed to make similar weapons that while not magical, were stronger than those of the invaders.
Over the years that followed, the Zarakin came to realise that to wield the Elemental Blades effectively they needed more than just the strength to lift their weapons, they needed a technique that would allow them to combine their physical and magical attacks. Surprisingly the answer came not from their warriors, but rather their bards. Their entertainers had long used a dance to mimic the ways of their warriors and to mock those they deemed too boastful. The dance was taken and adapted to the bearers' needs, becoming an art form in and of itself.
To this day the House of Swords, as they became known, functions as an organization of bodyguards to the king. Although the loss of the swords weakened their ability to fight against all threats. Still, Zarakin society grew up around stories of these blades and soon developed others. Eventually the Grid Masters approached Danata again and offered an exchange of services. In return for guaranteed protection, the Zarakin would provide some of those warriors trained in the use of their blades. They have proven worthy allies ever since, undertaking tasks such as scouting and guarding supplies."
"That's some story," Jamie commented.
"Indeed, but there is more. Apart from being able to control the element for which they were named, each of the swords had other, hidden powers, known to enhance a skill of the wielders. It was said that some could use them to call forth legendary armour although that was never proven. Many of the Elemental Blades were destroyed centuries ago, but the blade you hold while damaged was re-forged using the remains of the other swords. It was once known as the Sword of Lightning, now I suspect it has some of the abilities of the other blades. Over time, the blade has no doubt inherited a connection to the Morphin Grid and gave you ability to absorb, channel and release energy, a feat that is already a trait inherent in the Zarakin physiology but difficult to reproduce consciously."
"So, I have an alien blade that gave me special powers. Do you think they'll want it back?" Jamie asked shyly.
Zordon hesitated. The risks of a child holding such a blade were great, especially given her heritage. There was a chance she could become corrupted by the power. Oh it was not without risks to hold the sword. As sentient as it had become, it naturally sought to twist the mind of its avatar to serve its own purposes. Although forged for good, it was after all a sword, and what did a sword need more than a hand to wield it in battle and to draw blood from those that opposed it. Luckily its influence was limited.
Then there was the matter of the girl's parentage. If her father ever discovered her existence there was little doubt that he would claim her. It wouldn't even take a spectacular spell to bend her to his will; so long as a bond existed, there were spells that would guarantee obedience and the bond between parent and child was so strong that such a spell could never be broken.
If asked, he knew the people of Danata would reply with an unmistakable 'yes' that the blade should be returned to them. But did he even have the right now that the blade had found its way into Jamie's hands and chosen her as its avatar? The answer was no. He just hoped that with the sword in her possession she might be more inclined to consider her path rather than allowing herself to be led blindly. Having met Jamie though he doubted she would be led anywhere against her will.
"Jamie, the original owners of the blade are long gone and while the Zarakin can no doubt remember the weapons, they no longer rely on them; another wizard later created the Gem Swords for such a purpose. This sword has bonded to you and nobody can take it from you. Only death alone can break the bond between you and this blade.
Given that Goldar has already attempted to take the sword from you, I would like it if you considered an alliance with us. While you are not a Ranger and would be condemned as an enemy by the Galactic Council, the Zarakin have long been considered valued allies. It is in that tradition I extend the hand of friendship."
How he wished that it could have been different and that Jamie could have been accepted as an ally by the Council and that eventually he could grant her the title of Ranger. But that was not to be. Her heritage and the potential harm she could cause would always make her an outsider.
"I'll do it."
"Welcome to the team, Jamie Zedden," Zordon said quietly. "The sword is now an extension of your body, its form adaptive to your needs. Given time and practice you will find that using it will become second nature."
Jason finally asked the questions that had been bothering him for a while. "Zordon, why did you refer to Jamie as a Zarakin, and if the sword's powers are alien in nature, what's to prevent what happened to me from happening to Jamie?"
"Number one, Jason, the creators of the sword have had a great deal of interaction with humans of the years. They know how to make safe weapons. Zarakin for that matter are very close to humans, physiologically speaking. They do not have the chemical differences that Triforians have, so the powers will be far more compatible with Jamie than the Gold Ranger powers were with you. Number two; the sword's powers are not directly tied to Jamie's life force. And number three, Jamie is not completely human. That is why I referred to her as a Zarakin."
"WHAT!" the two teens asked in unison.
"Just what I said. Jamie, your mother is completely human. Your father, on the other hand, is not. This is why you have the innate ability to absorb energy, for like Zarakin, your father's race, you too have this capability. You obviously inherited it from your father; the sword merely developed that ability."
Jamie shook her head, trying to absorb this. "What was he doing on Earth?"
Zordon sighed. "It is a long and somewhat ugly story. You must understand that the beings that now refer to themselves as the Masters of the Morphin Grid or Grid Masters are not the same order as the Morphin Masters that came before them. They are the one of many groups that claim to have descended from the Morphin Masters of old, and three hundred millennia ago they had only just come to terms with the greatest defeat in their history. At the time their ability to totally defeat an enemy was beyond them.
One of the wiser villains, sensing their weakness decided to add an additional blow by destroying the Council's major allies, the Zarakin. It was during that battle that the wizard in question introduced his newest protégé: Zedd, heir of the infamous Xett dynasty."
"Zedd!" Jason cried. "Billy told me Zedd had a natural mother and father!"
"Lord Zedd is not a simple creature by any means. Originally he was of the many demonic creatures spawned by the demon Xett. Although I do not know the exact story, one child was supposed to emerge from the Dark Zones each century to attempt to vanquish the light. Success meant that they would rule for eternity, failure meant a return to the Dark Zones and a long sleep to renew their power. Zedd found a way around the need to return, favouring the use of his Centennial Recharge machine.
Before the attack on Danata, Zedd was believed to have been vanquished. Instead he had been severely injured beyond his ability to heal and had been forced to wear a silver exoskeleton, which he has used ever since. However Zedd was infinitely weakened by his injuries and needed a way to regain his strength."
"So what did he do?" Jason asked.
"If he had returned to the Dark Zones he would no doubt have been able to heal himself. Instead he chose a more insidious method. Many years before the attack on Danata, a Zarakin child was born to the King and Queen of Danata. He was the pride and joy of the royal court, a baby of uncommon handsomeness and intelligence. He had a slight temper, but that trait has bred true throughout seven hundred generations of rulers, and extends to most of the planet as well. There was little chance that he would escape it.
The prince grew to become one of the most agile warriors Danata had ever seen. Graduating first in his class from the House of Swords, he was given the Sword of Fire, possession of which could only be revoked by his death or willing denouncement of the blade in favour of another. As he grew, it was thought that he would be one of the finest kings that the Zarakin Sector had ever known.
Then something happened, and to this day, no one knows what. Shortly before the attack the prince and his friend vanished for two days. When he returned, he was different in some way, but only those with the ability to see beyond the physical world, would have realised how different. During the first attack the truth was revealed: the prince was gone, his soul replaced by Zedd's evil essence. He physically transformed into Lord Zedd.
Many believe the prince was seduced by the dark powers and willingly gave up his body to Zedd. Until her death, his mother believed that it had taken him against his will; much like Rita did with Tommy. Regardless, since Zedd was no longer a pure demon he was severely weakened. He was an evil sorcerer, albeit one of great power, drawing on the darkest sectors of the Morphin Grid and given his weaker state, needed to work his way back through the ranks of evil once more."
"I thought we used the Grid," Jason frowned.
"You did and some of you still do. I am afraid that over your time as Rangers, I have failed to teach you what the Morphin Grid is and to correct some of the theories Billy has formed. The true Morphin Grid is nothing more or less than the network of energy flows that exist throughout this universe. How it was formed we cannot be sure, we cannot even say for certain that it does exist, but all evidence points us in that direction. The Morphin Grid in its purest form does not carry a single type of energy. However, it does carry the forces you recognise as magic and psychic energy inherent to our universe.
In addition, the Morphin Grid links this universe to an even great source of extra-universal energy that is both magical and psychic in nature. It is here that the pools of magic that you Rangers draw upon can be found. Long ago it was believed that these pools were a singular source and were called the Morphin Grid. The energy contained in these pools permeates the universe, where it is then tuned and separated to the polar extremes of being. Some power answers to the dark pole, some to the light, and power of one type will corrupt or dilute a power of the other. The Ranger powers are of the light side of the Grid, while Zedd draws from its darkest regions.
As a demon Zedd would have drawn directly from the energy pools without the need to use the Morphin Grid. Since he has used a Zarakin as a physical medium, he must instead rely on a type of sorcery to maintain his power. Other villains you have met are in a similar situation, having either possessed a mortal form or offered themselves to a demon in return for power. That is also why there seems to be no rhyme or reason in the shapes that many of the villains you face. The sorcerers among them have taken shapes closer to those of the demons they seek to channel, appearances that no true creature would ever wear. The demons that have possessed mortal forms have done their best to adapt their unwilling host to resemble their original bodies. That is why Master Vile looks so different from Rita."
"I always just thought she took after her mother," Jason replied.
"In a sense, she does. Rita is a witch. Her mother was a sorceress who drew her power from the demon named Vile. When she summoned him into this realm, Master Vile as he became known took over the body of a Sradin male. He reverted to that form just long enough for his wife to conceive Rita. Since Master Vile was not in his demonic form at the time, Rita appears human. As a witch she draws her power from objects into which magic has been infused. She does not have an alternate form. However, for a brief time she was a sorceress, using incantations and sacrifices to gain power from the Hell God Lokar.
Rito is Master Vile's younger child. He was conceived while Master Vile was in his demon form. That is why he looks the way he does.
I am a mage, drawing my power from a natural connection with the Morphin Grid. Rather than spells or incantations, I can use mental disciplines to summon and direct the power. There are many other classifications, but it would take too long to go into them now, and I have already strayed from my story.
The reborn Lord Zedd continued his career of evil for millennia, occasionally returning to Danata to ensure their armies remained weakened; during his initial strike he killed the wielders of the other Elemental Blades and had them destroyed before tossing their remains into space. On another of these expeditions, his Zarakin form sired a child, a boy named Zarador. Zarador is now the king of Danata, and one of my closest friends. He, along with the Council of Elders, managed to trap Lord Zedd upon his return to the planet.
Not having the heart to kill him out of concern that their prince had been taken from them unwillingly, they found a way to force him into a human form and isolate him from his more demonic powers, restoring some but not all of the prince they had loved. But they were unable to find a way to remove the demon's influence, nor decide if the being they were talking to was their prince or Zedd. Fearing he would find a way to regain his power or call for assistance, they sent him to a planet where he would fit in, but never be able to rise to power or send for help. They sent him to Earth, using a spell to ensure that his evil tendencies were curtailed. This was eighty years ago. In that time he had a number of relationships, the last one starting almost twenty years ago."
"Oh, no," Jamie said softly, closing her eyes. She had a feeling that she knew what Zordon was leading up to.
"On Earth, it seemed that the Zarakin prince resurfaced. He took the name Lawrence Zedden, created a past for himself, and fell in love with Leslie Corren. The two married and had a daughter, one whom they named Jamie."
Jamie smiled sickly. "Actually, they named her Jamaica, which she both hates and has been trying to live down ever since."
"Jamaica?" Jason raised an eyebrow.
"Hey, Mom was under pain medication! Give her a break."
"So you're Lord Zedd's daughter," Jason marvelled, picking up where Zordon's story left off.
She shrugged. "I guess so. For twelve years, Mom and I thought he died. I mean, they pulled a body from the river that had his ID and the right dental work, so we always thought that he was gone."
"Jamie, I am unclear on the details of Lord Zedd's return to power, but I believe that the body dragged from the river was your father's mortal body. I believe the minions sent by his subordinates to retrieve him found a way to partially restore his original body. Despite that, the fact remains that Zedd is alive and is your father, that your mother retained her maiden name and chose for you to use that name, suggests that Zedd had predicted such an event would occur."
"Great. Just great."
Jason put an arm around her shoulders. "Hey, I don't care if you are Zedd's daughter. I don't know how Tommy's going to take it, though."
"Why would he have a problem with it?"
"It's a long story."
"Jamie," Zordon broke in, "there is something else that you must know. If Zedd truly reverted to his demon self, any feelings he held for you and your mother would have been twisted into a possessiveness few have seen. According to Zarakin law, your parents are still married and in Zedd's eyes, that could mean you and your mother, belong to him. You are in his mind his property. This also means that Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa are not really married, which may bode ill for you. Your mother is technically Zedd's queen and you his heir. With this revelation, Rita's standing has been pushed significantly downwards. And Rita Repulsa does not like to be replaced."
Jamie shivered at the thought of the Tengas attacking her mother. "I'm going to have to tell Mom all about this, Zordon. She has to know."
"I agree. I think the two of you should teleport back to Jamie's house and explain things to her."
"What am I going to do with this?" Jamie asked, raising her sword. "I feel like I need it with me, but how can I carry it all the time?"
"That is a natural feeling for those who carry the Elemental Swords. You can store it in a pocket in hyper space. Simply concentrate on putting it into a pocket." Jamie did so, and was surprised to see the sword disappear. "To retrieve it, simply imagine it in your hand." She concentrated again, and the blade appeared once more.
"Cool. And this pocket will go wherever I do?"
"Neat." She put the sword away again. "Any other interesting abilities I have?"
"Lord Zedd could tell you more about them than I."
As he watched the two youths, Zordon mused on the ironies of the situation. He briefly considered the implications of Zedd becoming interested in his earlier relationships. Zordon didn't know if there were any children from those affairs, but if there were then any descendants would be in almost as much danger as Jamie. These two obviously destined to be together, but set up to be practically mortal enemies. She was the daughter of the evilest villain in the known galaxy, and he was the epitome of what made a Ranger. Who would think that they would fall in love, and so soon after their first meeting? Sometimes, life just wasn't fair and for the first time ever Zordon wished that he didn't have his gift of prophecy. He could already see how this would develop and it saddened him greatly. Though both walked in the light, her heritage and abilities marked her as a creature of the shadows and sooner or later she would slip into a darker world where Jason could not hope to follow.
Jamie teleported into the hall of her house. Jason had agreed to wait in the Youth Center until she was done, sensing that this was something mother and daughter had to discuss alone. "Mom?" she called.
"In the kitchen, honey. Did you have a nice day? Buy anything deadly?"
"You could say that," Jamie grinned, entering the kitchen and leaning on a counter. Leslie looked up at her daughter and smiled.
"You look like you have something on your mind. Care to talk about it?"
Jamie studied her mother intently. It was obvious where Jamie got her looks. Leslie had the same red hair and short, slim build as her daughter, with a similar face and strong features. Only their eyes were different, Jamie's a smoky hazel; Leslie's a cool emerald green. Jamie had also inherited her toughness of spirit from her mother. Jamie had never run across something too unpleasant for her mother to handle, but she still hesitated to drop this particular bomb.
"Mom, the day you found out Dad was dead. You never really talked about it. You just said that the police called and told you his body was found in the river. What happened that day? Why were we living at Grandma's after that?"
Leslie sighed. She didn't really want to remember the events of that afternoon, but Jamie was certainly old enough to deserve the truth, and she wouldn't ask if it weren't important.
"I was doing something or other in the kitchen and you were watching "Sesame Street" in the living room. There was a knock at the door, and I opened it to see two men outside. They looked strange, uncomfortable, like they didn't belong there and they knew it. They said they were friends of your father and wanted to talk to me inside. I didn't like the looks of them, so I said no. They insisted, so I shut the door in their faces and headed back towards the kitchen. That was when the door blew in."
Jamie jumped. The door blew in? None of this was part of her memories of that time. She couldn't remember much from before she was five. Still, she had never imagined that her mother's story was so violent.
"Larry had been afraid that something like this would happen, although he'd never told me why, and he'd trained me in what to do. I picked you up, headed for the car, and peeled out of there. The next thing I knew, they were chasing us. I was never so glad for those driving courses he made me take. I threw everything I had into the chase, and I lost them.
I couldn't go home, of course, so I took you to Grandma's. Later, I learned that our house had been set on fire. Very little had survived. For a while, the police even thought that we had died in the fire. Once they realised that we were alive, they called Grandma's to tell me about Larry. It was almost too much. If it hadn't been for you, I would have given up. To this day, I don't know who those men were or what they wanted. Why are you bringing this up now?"
Jamie sighed and took her mother's hands in her own. "Mom, I have something I need to tell you."
In the Lunar Palace, Lord Zedd was listening to Goldar's snivelling explanation with mounting impatience. He was about ready to blow a hole in the ceiling when something Goldar said caught his attention. "A girl, you say," Zedd asked, leaning forward. "Red hair, about 17?"
"Yes, my lord."
"And she was able to call on the sword's powers?"
"Yes, Lord Zedd."
"Hmm," Zedd mused. Common sense told him it was impossible, but nevertheless, his heart began to pound. "She must have been a half-breed Zarakin. Let me see this girl!" Zedd's eyebeams shot down towards Earth, magically allowing him to see what he wanted. As he did so, a duplicate of the image formed in front of his henchmen. "Goldar, is this the girl?"
"Yes, my lord." The image was of Jamie talking with her mother in the kitchen. Zedd's breath caught in what passed for his throat. He couldn't recognize the girl; too many years had passed. The woman, however, was as familiar as his own name. He dreamed about her every night.
"Leslie," he whispered.
"Leslie?" Rita asked.
Zedd whirled on her. "That's my wife!" Rita paled. "She's alive!"
"What- what does that mean for us?" Rita managed.
"I don't know. I'll have to think about this." Confused, Zedd clutched at his head as if he were debating with himself what should be done next. "Goldar," he said finally. "Take a squad of Tengas and get them, I don't care how. Bring me Leslie and my daughter. Burn their home and dispose of any witnesses. I will decide what to do when they are here. Now go!"
With a deep bow, Goldar disappeared, as Rita left, muttering to herself. With a loud sigh Zedd walked out onto the Moon's surface and headed in the direction of his former palace. He needed a place suitable for his children; Leslie would make an excellent ambassador when he conquered the planet. He was already planning how to make them a part of his evil dynasty.
It had taken a fair amount of arguing, not to mention an exploded toaster, but Jamie had finally convinced her mother of the truth of her story. Now Leslie was trying to deal with the realization that her daughter was a super hero, her husband, whom she had presumed dead, was a space alien, and his current wife was probably hiring an avian hit squad to attack them even now. She was taking it rather well.
"So, what are the vulnerable areas on a Tenga?" Leslie asked calmly. Jamie blinked for a second, then grinned. Very little fazed her mother for long.
"Eyes, throat, beak, the usual," Jamie replied, miming a knee to a sensitive area. Leslie winced.
"So these are male birds?" Jamie just shrugged. Suddenly, the room was filled with a hail of feathers.
"Looks like you'll get a chance to find out!" Jamie called, dropping into a fighting position as Goldar and the Tengas materialized. Both sides prepared for a fight.
"NOT IN THE HOUSE!" Leslie bellowed, startling all the combatants into silence. "We can just take this outside," she informed them all. "You have no idea how long it took me to clean the floor this morning."
Goldar and the Tengas looked at each other sheepishly then walked out the back door. Jamie and Leslie looked at each other for a moment, and then Jamie teleported them both to the Power Chamber. They materialized in the middle of the room, holding on to each other.
"Well, I suppose I'm going to have to get used to that," Leslie sighed, taking in her surroundings. "So this is that Power Chamber you were telling me about?"
"It is indeed," Zordon boomed. "Welcome, Mrs Zedden. I am Zordon, mentor to the Power Rangers. May I congratulate you on a rather ingenious way of escaping the Tengas? However did you think of that?"
Leslie shrugged. "Even things like those had to have mothers. Some behaviours are just universal."
"Where are Goldar and the Tengas now, Zordon?" Jamie asked.
"They have apparently returned to the Moon and are relating their failure to Rita as we speak. I doubt that they will show up for a while, but in case they do, Mrs Zedden, I would like you to have this communicator. Jamie, I have made one for you, as well." Leslie received a grey and white wristband, while Jamie's was simply grey. "Should you be attacked, simply touch the large button. It will teleport you here instantly."
"Thank you," Leslie replied, buckling the band onto her wrist. "I had better go home. I had a cake in the oven that will probably need my attention soon." With that, she teleported out.
"I'd better head to the Youth Center myself. I told Jason I'd meet him there, and I think it's time the other Rangers knew about me. I'll see you later." She also teleported out, in a grey rush. Zordon smiled to himself. It was good to see that the old allies were still willing to stand by the Rangers.
"So you're Zedd's daughter?" Kat asked in astonishment. Jamie nodded. Jason had contacted all the Rangers and asked them to meet in the park. Once everybody arrived, he and Jamie had taken turns telling the story of her origin, powers, and battle with the Tengas earlier. Now everyone was watching Tommy nervously, wondering how he would react to this particular bit of news.
"Hey, that's cool with me," he replied seriously. "I try to judge people by their actions, not their parentage. Besides, in a way, I'm glad Zedd's your dad."
"Why?" Jamie asked.
Tommy grinned. "Because that means he's not mine." Everyone laughed, and the conversation turned to other things. While everyone was talking and horsing around, Jamie and Tommy slipped off to one side.
"How do you feel about being Zedd's daughter?" he asked her, no more humour in his tone.
"I don't really know. I mean, I'm sort of glad that my dad's alive because I still love him and I always will. On the other hand, who wants to find out that their dad's a slime ball? Still, I don't really feel the way one of you might. I never really knew him as a villain. It's going to take me awhile to get the idea absorbed. Then we'll talk about it."
He sighed. "You know, I meant what I just said out there. I've always known I was adopted, and after I found out that there seem to be some-- oddities about me and David, like the fact that we're danger-prone, and some minor discrepancies on scans, I've been worried that maybe my parents were, if not Zedd and someone else, at least someone evil. Knowing I'm not Zedd's kid is a bit of a load off my mind."
"How do you know you're not?" she grinned up at him. His eyes were fascinating, dark and extremely perceptive. If only they weren't so sad.
"Oh, just a hunch," he grinned back. "Maybe it's the fact that I'm not a short redhead."
Laughing, she dragged him back towards the group. Jamie had a feeling that she and Tommy were going to be good friends. She didn't know that other forces had a very different view of how her relationship with Tommy would evolve.
On the Moon, Finster had been sent to find Zedd. He eventually tracked him down to the castle and having found it intact, was trying to make at least part of it liveable again. Finster realised suddenly that Zedd was back in his Zarakin body, a tall man with sandy hair and hazel eyes. The man stared wistfully out the big bay window in what had been the throne room, looking at the earth.
"I miss her, Finster," Zedd said suddenly, startling the little gnome. He had not realised that the man knew he was there.
"Rita?" replied Finster sceptically.
Zedd actually laughed, a rather pleasant sound. "Hardly. Rita is the most evil woman I know, her every screech excites me, but it's not enough for me to say I would miss her. Besides, I mean Leslie. She'll never want to see me again, of course, but I wish I could go back."
"Well, if you weren't trying to enslave your daughters, that might speed the reconciliation."
Zedd chuckled again. "It might at that. But alas Jamie, if she is still alive, is my daughter and belongs at my side. If she won't obey me, I have no choice other than to treat her like I would any other enemy. And Leslie... she's mine by right of marriage." He sighed. "I want you to begin a check on Larry Zedden and what he did during his time on Earth. If he had other children that he's somehow -- hiding from me, I want to know."
"Of course Lord Zedd," Finster agreed. "I assumed you would ask and have already found a list of women he had a relationship with. As far as I can tell, none of the relationships resulted in offspring."
Zedd nodded, Larry was too honourable to leave a woman with child. Still if those relationships had been close then the women were technically his and their offspring were his to claim if he desired. He didn't have any legal claim to them, but the demon was possessive.
"Find out if these women had children. If so, bring them here. They can still be of use."
"Yes Lord Zedd," Finster nodded.
"Right, now I'm going to get some sleep." Absently, he reached out for the staff that lay against one wall, and then stopped. "It'll be safe enough there until morning, I suppose." Leaving the staff behind, Zedd headed for his bedroom.
A few days later and morning came peacefully to Angel Grove. A few of the citizens talked about the shooting stars from the night before, but they were in a minority. For the most part such events were common place in the Freak Zone and those who did care simply wrote it off as yet another side-effect of the Power Rangers' never-ending battle against evil. Little fazed Angel Groveites anymore. On the campus of the Price School of Arts and Science, Katarina was taking a walk with her closest friend, Christina Collins.
"I still don't know how you do it, Katya," Christina sighed, shaking her head. Her long auburn hair stirred slightly in the breeze. "You dance, you kickbox, you have a boyfriend, and you keep up with your school work! Where do you find the time?"
Katarina laughed, her violet eyes twinkling. "Well, for one thing, I don't study obsessively, like you do. You, spend more time studying than any three students I know. Besides, I don't have a boyfriend. Rocky and I are just friends. So our study dates really are just that. Kickboxing doesn't take up much more time than dancing. I admit I'm on the go a lot, but since I'm usually with my friends, it's really a lot of fun. You should come along with us sometime. You'd probably enjoy yourself."
"Right. Hang out with a bunch of people I don't know, and run myself ragged trying to keep my grades straight. No thanks, Katya."
"If you'd cut down on the studying a little and maybe relax the ballet, you'd still be the best in the school, and you'd have more time for yourself. You don't have to kickbox like I do, so that's some free time right there."
Christina's blue eyes sparkled as she prepared to answer her friend, but an odd expression suddenly crossed her face. "That's odd. Do you hear something?"
"Over there, off to the right," Christina pointed at the empty space. On the ground were two small rings, one with a white stone, the other with a silver gem. "That's impossible, they weren't here before," she said as she picked up the white one. Katarina did the same with the silver gem.
Before Katarina could reply, they noticed Finster standing in front of them, backed up by an army of Tengas.
"My master Lord Zedd wishes for you to join him," Finster told them.
"Why?" Katarina asked.
"Because he wishes it," the aged monster maker explained as the Tengas advanced.
"Oh look, birds," Katarina sneered, wondering where these words were coming from. "I've heard about Lord Zedd on the news. If you think we're going to go with you, you are out of your mind." She settled into a fighting stance. Gingerly, Christina did the same. She had no formal martial arts training, but her years of ballet had given her a phenomenal agility, and hanging out with Katarina had taught her a few things about handling herself in a fight. Right now, she just wished she knew what was going on.
"If you insist," Finster sighed, wondering why he had been given this assignment. "Tengas attack!" The birds rushed the girls, but before the fight could begin weapon fire erupted around them, throwing the Tengas backwards with a dual jet of solid air.
"Well, this evens things up a bit, doesn't it?" Blue Zeo chuckled. "Shall we dance?"
The Tengas looked at each other in confusion. Any debate was solved by the other Zeo Rangers teleporting in. and Finster, realizing that he had lost whatever chance he had of seizing the two girls was gone, disappeared as quickly as he had come.
"Are you two all right?" Red Zeo asked worriedly.
"What just happened?" Katarina asked.
"Rita and Zedd's forces don't stick around when the odds are against them. At least their most intelligent forces don't. Don't worry, we'll be watching in case they decide to try again," Red Zeo promised. Then in a flash of colours the Rangers teleported away.
Maguire's Leap was the last outpost of vegetation along the old Angel Grove highway. Beyond the bluff, the yellow grass and sagebrush gave way to the true desert that California is really composed of. It was warm out here, temperatures in the mid-60's. Sitting under a stunted and rather lonely tree, Lillian O'Neil looked out over the desert, wondering if that band of grey on the horizon was a cloud or a band of Los Angeles smog. A cloud, she decided. They were really too far north to get smog from LA. Shifting position, she sighed. California appealed to her, just like it appealed to the rest of the family. It wasn't that she didn't want to travel; it was just that she didn't want to live anywhere else. That's why she was heading to Crossworld University for college. The town was close enough to home that she could visit, but far enough away that she'd be getting a real "going away experience." Besides, Crossworld U had a great chemistry program, the city had lots of martial arts studios, and for excitement, there was always the VR Troopers.
She grinned to herself. Her friends thought she was crazy, trading in one set of monster-fighting super heroes for another, but she liked danger. She didn't go looking for trouble, but when trouble came, she rather enjoyed handling it. Living in Crossworld promised just the kind of excitement she was looking for.
Suddenly, a bright flash of light caught her eye. "Hey, what's that?" she wondered, noticing something glinting in the sunlight. Searching in the grass she uncovered a small ring with a black stone. "Pretty," she commented before slipping it into her pocket. Her expression blanked for a moment and then she went back to her daydreaming about Tommy Oliver, her recent discovery forgotten.
Although she had not wanted to admit it to Randi, he had made an impression on her. He was tall, handsome, and very nice. She'd liked him since the moment she met him, four years. Still, it was silly to fantasize about the two of them. There was only this school year, plus three months for the summer, and then it was off to college for all of them. Lillian sighed again. That wasn't so short a time, she decided. People made do with less. Maybe she and Tommy could develop a friendship in that time. A girl could never have enough friends.
If the Rangers thought Rita and Zedd would give up after one failed kidnap attempt, they were mistaken. Through careful research Finster had discovered that both girls were descendants of those who had had some sort of relationship with Larry Zedden. And while that in no way made them related to Zedd, the demon had decided that the link was enough for him to claim them as servants to his court. That the Rangers had bothered rescuing the two girls had suggested that they were friends, even though Katarina was unaware that her friend was the Blue Zeo Ranger and Christina had very little to do with Tommy Oliver and his friends. He planned to find a way to use that friendship, just as he would use everything else they possessed to his advantage. It was a few days later when the attackers had returned in force and the Rangers had been thrown into battle.
"Tommy, we are getting our butts handed to us out here!" Jamie cried, as yet another of Zedd's Z-Putties sent her sprawling. A combination of magic and technology allowed Jamie to disguise her features. While not a Power Ranger, the sword gave her the endurance needed to deal with Zedd's goons. A bolt of energy from her sword turned her opponent into a mound of clay.
"No kidding! We can't give up, though. Weapons, everybody! Zeo V Power Sword!" Red Ranger called.
"Zeo IV Power Hatchet!"
"Zeo III Arm Blades!"
"Zeo II Nunchuks!"
"Zeo I Power Shield!"
"Golden Power Staff!"
"All right, people!" Red Ranger called. "Let's kick some butt!"
The Rangers launched themselves at their enemies, but found themselves extremely outnumbered. "Any more bright ideas?" Green Ranger asked.
"Yeah. Divide and conquer. Split up into teams of two and take 'em!"
"But Tommy, there's seven of us!" Blue Ranger yelled.
"I'll take on some by myself. Get going!" The other Rangers scattered, doing as ordered. Red Ranger, fighting by himself, soon realized that he was gravely outnumbered. Still, he fought on, hoping to buy his friends the time they needed to defeat the one of Zedd's monsters called The Shifter. It was able to assume any identity it wanted, making it a real pain in the butt to fight in groups. You couldn't tell who you were fighting. Worst of all, there seemed to be no way of making it unable to change, as Zedd had eliminated the original weakness of Primator. The battle had not been going well for the Rangers.
The Rangers regrouped after destroying the Z-Putties. All of them turned to face the Shifter.
Forming its arms into blades, the monster attacked, slicing effortlessly through the material of the Rangers' suits. It scored several hits on each Ranger, but was obviously targeting Red Ranger.
"Tommy!" Pink Ranger cried, as the leader of the Rangers slumped to the ground, bleeding freely from at least a dozen places.
"Oh you've done it now," Jamie warned, her temper getting the better of her. "Mess with my friends and you're going to get it!" A bolt of purple energy shot from her hands, exploding against the chest as purple flames. A hefty kick shattered the rapidly cooled ash into a billion pieces.
After checking the monster was not going to behave like the machines in the movies, the Rangers then turned to where their leader lay fallen. After waiting for his wounds to heal sufficiently they teleported away, hoping that Rita and Zedd would give up for the day, but knowing such an idea was unlikely. The whole group then teleported back to the Power Chamber.
"Ai yi yi!" Alpha cried, seeing the Rangers teleport in. "What happened to Tommy?"
"Zedd's latest goon happened," Gold Ranger replied violently, ripping his helmet off and slamming it down on a console. "Zordon, what is going on here? Ranger suits are made of UMF, unstable molecular fabric. It's supposed to be completely unrippable, yet Zedd's creation was able to cut through it like it was butter. What happened?"
Zordon sighed. "UMF can only be cut with a mono-molecular edge. It appears Zedd, has discovered how to equip his monsters with this, no doubt stealing the knowledge from Mondo. Unfortunately, I know of no way to reinforce your suits. I am afraid that you will just have to be even more careful when in battle."
Tommy woke up with a few hours later with a headache, which practically screamed for Excedrin. Two or three bottles worth. "Either that, or I could just shoot myself," he grumbled, sitting up. He teleported away, hoping that some air would help.
"Feeling better?" a voice behind him asked. He turned to see Lillian sitting on the ground beside him. At his questioning glance she explained: "Your friends said you weren't feeling well." She tried talking to him for a few minutes but it soon became clear he was not in the mood for conversation. "I can see I caught you at the wrong time. I'll speak to you again."
"Wait!" he called, grimacing as the noise made his headache worse. "I was wondering. Would you like to go to dinner and a movie with me tomorrow night? I've been trying to get up the guts to call you ever since the dance."
She flashed him a dazzling smile. "I'd love to. Meet you at the theatre at eight?"
He grinned. "Actually, I was hoping you could pick me up. My car's in the shop, and I live too far from the theatre to walk."
She chuckled. "Sure, I can pick you up-- if you don't mind riding a motorcycle. Where do you live?" He gave her his address, and she promised to pick him up at seven-thirty. Then she moved off, leaving him alone with his thoughts.
The next evening, Tommy was nervously waiting for Lillian to come pick him up. His parents had been ecstatic to learn that he had a date. Teddy had been ecstatic as well, but for a different reason, now that Tommy had a date, the heavy-duty teasing could begin.
When the doorbell rang, Tommy nearly knocked both his parents over running to answer it. Outside, Lillian stood, dressed in black jeans, a blue silk shirt, and a black leather jacket. In her hands, she held a black motorcycle helmet that bore an interesting resemblance to the one she wore the night before. Tommy raised an eyebrow, and she chuckled. "I've had it for about a year and a half, ever since I turned sixteen and bought myself a motorcycle. Come on, I'm parked right by the curb."
Tommy waved goodbye to his parents and followed her out the door, grabbing his own leather jacket as he did so. When she reached the motorcycle, she lifted the seat up and pulled another helmet out of the compartment beneath. This one was red, a crimson colour which showed up well even in the moonlight. Lillian handed it to him and mounted the bike. Tommy pulled the helmet on and settled in behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist.
"You like this arrangement?" she asked, sounding amused.
"Oh, yeah," he grinned. "I should ride motorcycles more often," he responded, squeezing gently. This time, when she chuckled, he could feel her stomach muscles rippling.
"I'll hold you to that," she replied. "Hold on!" She started the bike and roared off into the night.
After the movie, they went to dinner at Mario's, the best Italian restaurant in Angel Grove. Tommy watched, slightly amazed, as Lillian consumed an order of cannelloni that would have made Rocky pause, and finished it off with a large helping of spumoni. "How do you eat that much?" Tommy asked, fascinated.
"I have a Black Belt in Tiger Kung Fu," she told him, swallowing. "I practice every day, and Tiger is a very energetic, powerful style. It burns a lot of calories. I need it too since I don't have many friends to back me up, I really am a loner. Oh, sure, I have a few friends, but nobody really close until now. I've never-- dated anyone before you, either."
Tommy's jaw dropped. "You mean, this isn't just our first date, it's your first date ever?"
She nodded, unable to meet his eyes.
She shrugged. "Well, no one ever asked me, and there wasn't anyone I liked well enough to ask. I guess I was scared of rejection. As a result, I kind of have the reputation of being a cold fish. I never really bothered me all that much. People ignored me, I ignored them back. I didn't really need anyone, or so I told myself."
"Weren't you lonely?" Tommy asked softly, remembering his days as the Green Ranger. Even when he hadn't been losing his powers, or under a spell, or bearing the brunt of Rita's latest little trick, there had been an indefinable barrier between him and the other Rangers. It might have been of his own making; it certainly wasn't of theirs. It was certainly there, though, a mental and physical separation, an attitude of "I don't need them, so if I lose them, it won't hurt so much." The only problem was the loneliness. He had been filled with it, utter and consuming. If it hadn't been for Kimberly and Jason, - Tommy shook his head, dispelling his dark thoughts. The important thing was that they had reached him, had broken through his wall, and brought him out. Those days were over now, and even though he had accepted them, he didn't have to dwell on them.
"Yes, I was lonely," Lillian admitted, drawing him back to the conversation. "I just didn't admit it, even to myself. I always told myself that I was happier on my own, where I didn't have to live up to other people's expectations. I said I was just a loner by nature. What I really was-- was a coward. I was too afraid to take a risk, for fear of being hurt."
"You're not alone anymore, Lillian," he told her, looking into her eyes. "I'm here for you. I know what you're feeling. In a way, we're very alike. I'll always be here to listen."
She took his hand and held it for a moment. "Thanks, Tommy. That means a lot to me."
They stared at each other for a second before the silence became uncomfortable. "So why did you buy a motorcycle instead of a car?" he asked curiously.
"One, it was a good deal cheaper. Two, I like motorcycles. They're fast, they're responsive, they're really a lot more fun than cars. I'm an adrenaline junkie. Cars are boring."
"I'm sorry I asked," Tommy chuckled. The two teens then reapplied themselves to their desserts, their conversation turning to other things.
To be continued