Disclaimer: Very few of the characters within belong to me. You'll know which is which. I'm not making anything on any of them anyway, so nobody should get excited.
A/N: The quote on the memorial obelisk is attributed to Theodore Chickering Williams. My entire gratitude to Rachel, for being so smurfy.
Angel with Two Faces
He smiled. Laughter bubbled over lips that stretched to show yellow teeth, jagged and hungry, bared in a death's head grimace.
The newly born creature sat huddled between the corpses of his 'parents', looking from one to the other in triumphant disdain. The man's body was arched and twisted, wracked even in bloody death by the pain the creature had wrung from him with glee. And the more he'd wrung, the stronger he'd grown. Oh, to have understood before!
The woman stared back at him through sightless eyes, mouth open in protest, her silver hair spread like heavy cobwebs on the grass, her flaccid arm outflung as if to ward him off at the last. But he would not be denied.
Revenge, new life, it was all one, though he had not known it sooner. He remembered his death, and the cruel righteousness that seared through him like a holocaust, making ash of his body and of and all he'd known. And then there had been nothing for a long time. Then, slowly, the hate had seeped back. Zordon's sacrifice could destroy evil, could return those subverted by evil's siren wiles to the side of good; but the hate that propelled the evil was outside his reach. And it was hate of which he was made, now more than ever. The others had sat complacent in their evil, willing harm upon the innocent and weak with a certain amount of baneful contentment. Never he, always set apart by fury, by hate: hatred of those who controlled him, of those who opposed him. Of those who used him. Of those who refused him.
Of them all.
He remembered the life that had come before: yes, mistress, as you wish, mistress. Hit me again, mistress. Yes, master. I live only to serve you, master. But the masters he'd served were pathetic, comedic in their ineptitude, and he only hated them the more for it, and himself for serving such ineffectual rubbish.
He raised an ichor-covered hand to the sun and blotted it out, watching purple clouds gather and stain the sky. Lightning split the air, and the creature threw back his head and roared out another howling chortle of glee.
The creature bent its reddened gaze on the couple that lay in puddles of gore around him, his eyes alight with malignant defiance. I shall serve you no more, he thought. I shall serve none. I will find those I despise, and I will feed my hate in their utter destruction, and I will rule among the universe as the tyrant of Hell itself.
With that, he rose and turned to the home of those he'd once served, his crimson gaze narrowing. His massive shoulders hunched, his arms came forward, his wrists met and flexed, and from him leapt a ball of energy, molten hot and seething. It erupted against the flimsy vehicle, leaving nothing but slag in its wake. The creature chuckled as the woman's hair ignited, and then the clothing of the man, the bodies quickly consumed in a white-hot pyre. He glanced at the sky, where the silvery orb of this planet's single moon hung, then back at the burning pile. With a final, derisive grimace, he turned and left them behind, never to think of them again.
"Death is an angel with two faces: to us he turns a face of terror, blighting all things fair; the other burns with glory of the stars, and love is there."
Trini Kwan smiled slightly at the sound of the words in a familiar baritone floating on the warm, damp air of the garden atrium. She might have known he'd be here today; on the same errand as she was, no doubt. She rounded a lush foliate and paused briefly, unwilling to disturb him immediately.
From her vantage point she could see him kneeling before the memorial obelisk, silhouetted against the pinkish marble in three-quarter perspective, slightly less than a profile, more than just his back. It was a broad back, she reflected, strong and flexible, fortunately ample for the burdens he'd carried for so long. Muscles moved under the sleek blue fabric of his uniform as he got to his feet, dusted the legs of his uniform and ran a quick hand through his still-thick, though rapidly graying, hair. He touched his fingertips to his lips, hidden in the heavy beard he'd first grown, what, twenty years ago? and then to the cool stone of the obelisk by the name engraved there, below the poem.
"I still miss her. I always will." It took Trini a minute to realize he was talking to her, had evidently known she was there all along. He turned with a smile. "Thanks for giving me a minute. I'll do the same for you."
"Not immediately, I hope," she returned his smile and crossed the mossy path to tuck her slim hand into the crook of his arm. "Ah, Billy, she'd be so proud today."
Admiral William Cranston chuckled and dropped a light kiss on the top of her hair, still dark and sleek but threaded, lately, with silver. "She would. You've done a marvelous job with Kailey, Tri."
Something between serene pride and sincere pleasure traced across her still-youthful face. "I didn't do anything. Kailey's a great kid – gosh, listen to me, ever the mom." She laughed and corrected herself. "She's a wonderful woman. But I am proud of her, and now – "
"Now inducted, with honors, into the ranks of the Intergalactic Ranger Force."
"Yellow division, too. Somehow I thought she'd go for another color." Trini smiled a little and dipped her face into the spray of pink roses she'd brought.
Billy took her by the shoulders, mock-sternly. "I wasn't surprised in the least. You're her mom, regardless of the DNA."
"Yeah." Trini looked up at him. "Yeah, I am. Thank you, by the way."
He knit his brows. "For?"
"For giving her to me. For giving Kim her last wish."
Billy looked at her soberly. "I have a daughter of my own, thanks to Kim. If she hadn't carried Miri for Cestria and me, hadn't donated some missing chromosomal information so Miri could be her own person and not just a clone of her father, she might have met someone, had a child of her own."
Trini shrugged. "You had the DNA information on Kim and the cloning technology in place anyway; Kim didn't live to have her own child, so I had her instead. And Kailey is her own person, certainly no duplicate of Kim, other than physically."
He nodded. "True enough. And speaking of whom, I should get going. There's this group of Yellow division cadets that I'm supposed to decorate today, and I need to go change into a dress uniform." Billy leant to give her a quick kiss on the cheek. "I'll see you on the dais, Commander."
"Of course, Admiral." She watched him go, then turned to the stone, her fingers trailing lightly across the engraved letters there. "I hope you're watching, Kim," Trini whispered. "And I hope somehow you know how much we all miss you." With that she placed the pink flowers on the bench in front of the obelisk and went to join her daughter.
KIMBERLY ANN HART
Chosen of Zordon
Beloved Friend and Hero
She saved us all
"Dr. Cranston, can you come over here?"
The voice thus raised was slightly nervous, and higher in pitch than usual from a tall, barrel-shaped fellow with pale blue skin that nearly matched his Ranger uniform. Miri looked up from the data she was comparing and frowned. "Something wrong, Ba'altesch?"
Trey, closer to hand, had gone to Ba'altesch's side and was leaning over the hulking alien's shoulder, studying the data that had perplexed the gentle giant. He met her gaze, an astonished look on his face. "You'd better have a look, Miranda."
She got up with alacrity; Trey never called her 'Miranda' in the lab, only off-hours. She never could convince him to shorten it to Miri, and in front of the other members of their team she was invariably Dr. Cranston. He must be really rattled… Miri focused on Ba'altesch's monitor, and what she read there rattled her as well. She spoke more abruptly than she intended. "Run the sim again."
"Yes sir." The large alien nodded briskly and began inputting data; Miri drew Trey a short distance away.
He looked at her. "I can see you agree with me."
"The sim was perfect, Trey. Perfect. No wonder Ba'altesch thought it was wrong. No cellular degeneration…" Miri shook her head. "But we've thought we had it before. I don't want to disappoint my father again. He's waited so long."
Trey inclined his head. "As have I, Miranda. As have all of us who knew him."
Miri grimaced. "I'm sorry, Trey, of course. You, certainly, giving up your position on Triforia to become a part of this. We work together so well it's easy for me to forget you and Dad are contemporaries."
Trey glanced over his shoulder at Ba'altesch. "Are you planning on waiting for the results of the sim?"
Miri looked at him questioningly. "I was, yes."
"Then you will likely miss young Kimberly Kwan's induction into Yellow division."
She nearly jumped out of her skin, glancing at the chronometer by the door. "Oh! Kailey! Shoot! Trey, listen," Miri was shrugging off her lab coat, straightening her blue-trimmed, pewter dress uniform, smoothing her dark blonde hair into its accustomed bun. She headed for the lab door as she spoke. "I'll have my comm on, but muted. Buzz me when it's done, ok?" The door swished closed behind her, then opened again as Miri stuck her head back in. "I'm serious!"
Trey chuckled. "I promise!"
Miri was treated to a death glare from her aunt Trini, up on the dais, as she slid into her seat in the Great Hall. She mouthed 'sorry' and wiggled her fingers at a very nervous-looking Kailey, waiting at attention on the dais. Kailey sent her a meaning look, and Miri grinned. Dad must have been using incomprehensible language again, she thought to herself, amused. I'm not sorry I missed it.
Trini was getting to her feet now, in Commander mode and ready to speak as head of Yellow division. Miri's attention wandered, her mind still in the lab with Ba'altesch and Trey. She looked past the dais through the sprawling viewport at the purple and orange nebula beyond, so beautiful and familiar. But this space station wasn't home to her father, not really. Deep down, Earth still held his heart. It was duty that kept him out here, among the stars. Duty to this Intergalactic Ranger Force he and mama had created, to keep peace across the universe. Miri wasn't even sure whether her father had stayed in touch with his old friends back home beyond good wishes once a year.
The Yellow division cadets were being decorated now; Miri caught Kailey's eye and gave her a thumb's up. Trini looked on proudly as her oldest friend held out a yellow Ranger Comm unit to Kailey, who secured it to her wrist and tried to look decorous. But the Admiral was having none of it, and caught her up in a bear hug, laughing through his beard. The gathered crowd laughed warmly and applauded all of the cadets, and then it was over and Miri's own comm was buzzing gently against her wrist.
She tapped it. "Yes?" A few words from Trey and Miri grinned hugely, pumping her fist slightly. "Yes! Thanks, Trey. I'll let them know. Tell Ba'altesch thanks."
Miri dodged through the milling crowd to find Kailey. "Hey, small one! Congratulations!" She bent and hugged the smaller woman, chuckling at the indignant squeak the newest Yellow Ranger gave.
Miri's father raised an eyebrow. "And my speech?"
Miri blushed. "Sorry, Dad. I missed it. But – "
Trini slipped an arm around each girl's waist. "You made it for the important part."
"Hey!" This from her father made Miri laugh. Trini laughed as well.
"Well, she did. And I can see she's full to bursting with whatever kept her, so let's go home and eat while she tells us."
Billy leaned forward in his seat, his lunch completely forgotten. "Are you sure?"
Trini, too, had pushed her plate away. Miri nodded, her expression unconsciously identical to her father's. "I'm sure, Dad. Trey just ran the sims again. It works."
"My God." Billy leaned back and shook his head. "After all this time."
Kailey grasped her mother's hand; it was trembling. "Put it plain language for us laywomen, will you?" Trini remained silent, her dark eyes imploring as she watched Billy and Miri.
Billy took a deep breath. "It means," he closed his eyes, then opened them and looked at each woman in turn, "it means, please God, that I can finally keep a vow I swore, years ago. I couldn't do anything to save Kim, but – Jason Scott will live again."