Things had gone better in the meeting with the World Leaders than Jason had thought they possibly could. There was some reticence from the British, but for the most part the whole world was ready to jump at a chance for peace with the dragons. Jason smiled to himself thinking, Of course having the secret to interstellar travel added to the pot helped a great deal. And when all this is over at least Billy will have the money to be taken care of for the rest of his life. Now the trick is to make sure that he stays alive long enough to use it.
Forcing his mind back to where it belonged, he watched the holo-tank as almost a hundred Hafar ships slowly braked into an orbit just beyond the moon. "To quote one of Ben's favorite movies, I've always wanted to fight a desperate battle against overwhelming odds," McKenzie said from across the tank. All the rangers and their support crew were there- even Teelo was standing protectively close to the small red-haired woman.
"Shut up Mic," Ben and Billy said simultaneously.
Jason looked over at his lover and asked, "Is there anything we can do?"
Billy shrugged, "The Hafar are like the Klingons. They build powerful guns but their ships leave a great deal to be desired."
"So we out-fly them and try to not get hit?" Rocky asked eagerly.
Billy shook his head, "It's not quite that simple." He leaned forward onto the tank and said, "You remember what they use to say about the war on terrorism. They only have to get lucky once, we have to get lucky every day." Billy sighed, "If just one of those craft gets through, they can do irreparable harm. We have to stop ALL of them."
"What will happen if they get through?" Teelo asked.
Billy smiled over at their guest. "They'll dump enough hard radiation onto the planet so that nothing will be able to live here for the next fifty thousand years."
Teelo nodded, "I see. And this would destroy not only us, but you as well?"
Billy nodded. "Something like that." Jason hadn't considered that aspect of the situation. Dragons did NOT react well to exposure to hard radiation. It's very likely that by using that particular form of attack, the Hafar would wipe out the dragons as well as the humans.
The young dragon smiled up at Jason from behind McKenzie, "Then we fight."
Jason sighed, "I would say that this isn't your fight, Teelo,"
"But you'd be wrong, Jason Scott. You are Dragonkin. Even if it wasn't a case where the Spawnworld was threatened, I would still fight alongside you for that reason alone." He looked down at the short redhead in front of him, "If not for other reasons."
"Count me in, Commander," McKenzie said quietly. "I may not be able to fly one of those overgrown tin cans you guys like so well, but I can damn sure man the Plasma Cannon from down here. I can promise you at least a clear takeoff."
"Ben," Billy said. "You stay here and man operations?"
"Aye, aye," the doctor said quietly.
Jason nodded to all of them. Suddenly he really felt like the team was back in action. He thrust his fist out in front of him, and said, "Then let's do it!"
The Rangers had returned home. Each of his teammates nodded and put their hand on top of his. Billy. Kim. Zack. Trini. Tommy. Rocky. Adam. Aisha. Kat. McKenzie. Finally, Ben. In unison they all leapt and shouted, "Power Rangers!"
"Jason," Billy said quietly to him as they walked toward their 'zords.
"Yeah, Bill?" Jason asked.
"You know I'd rather you not go." Billy shook his head, "Not with you in the shape you're in. I even toyed with the idea of having Ben ground you."
"Wouldn't have done any good," Jason said. He knew what Billy was thinking. This was a do or die mission. He fully expected some of his friends wouldn't come back from this fight.
Billy nodded, "I know." He looked around to see if any of the others were looking. He smiled to himself when he realized that all the other couples were doing the exactly the same thing- taking a few moments to connect with each other- to reach out for that possible last touch, for that possible last kiss. "It's who you are and I wouldn't want you any other way." He leaned forward and gently kissed his lover. "I love you Jason Scott."
"Good," Jason smiled. "I love you too, and trust me, I'm coming back and we're going to figure out a way around this problem I've got." He gently touched Billy's face, "I just got you back into my life. I don't want to lose that."
Billy smiled at him, "Good."
"Adam," Kim said quietly, "In case things don't go well..."
"Shhh," Adam said putting a finger to his wife's lips, "don't say it. We're both coming back." He looked around "We're all coming back."
Kim smiled. She knew wishful thinking when she heard it. She knew that Adam knew that somebody was going to die during this mission. She simply nodded and pulled his hand to her cheek. "I love you."
"I love you too, Kim."
"Kat, I love you," Tommy said quietly to his wife as the two stood at the foot of Pink Ranger Two's 'zord.
The young Australian looked up at him and smiled, "I love you too." It was all that needed to be said. The rest was understood. They kissed.
"Zack," Trini said to her husband.
Turning he flashed her his best smile, "Yeah love?"
Seeing the natural enthusiasm in her husband's soul, Trini took a moment to simply bask in the positive energy that just seemed to exude from him. She couldn't bring herself to put a damper on that feeling. Finally, she managed to say, "I just wanted to say that I love you."
Sensing something disturbing his wife, Zack turned to her and pulled her into a kiss and then said, "I love you too Trini."
She smiled and snuggled against his broad chest, reveling in the simple smell of him. "Good."
Rocky and Aisha simply stood staring at each other. Nothing was said, nothing needed to be said. The two understood each other on such a deep level that words had become superfluous. After long moments, Rocky pulled his wife to him and kissed her as deeply as he did on the night of their honeymoon. They may be facing certain death but for that moment, all was right with the world.
"Take care of yourself up there," Ben was telling Teelo. "Don't make me have to tell Mic that you've gone and gotten yourself killed."
"I'll try Ben Storm," Teelo said. Then giving the man a strange look he said, "Why would you have to worry about something like that?"
Ben smiled, "I've seen the way you two look at each other," was all he said.
"I know little of human customs, but what I DO know suggests that you should not be this blasé about this situation."
Ben chuckled, "Then you don't know me very well, Teelo. When you are God's proof to the universe that He has a sense of humor, you learn to look at things in a new light."
Teelo looked across the bay and sighed. "I'll keep that in mind."
Mic set the
base's planetary defense cannon on maximum draw, picked the largest cluster of
Hafar ships she could target with one setting and fired. She felt a shudder run through the base as
electrons were stripped from hydrogen atoms and hurled into space at near light
speed. Into the audio pick up she said,
"Okay, guys you're clear for about the next forty seconds.
Get your butts outta' here!"
In the Red Ranger One Dragonzord, Commander Jason Scott, the first Red Ranger, ambassador to the Teen Peace Conference, Gold Ranger, Naval Pilot, and all around good-guy poured the power into his 'zord and followed the beam out of the Command Center. Closing his eyes, he fought against the rising blackness as the acceleration overloaded the 'zord's inertia compensators. In a matter of seconds, the clear blue sky shifted to a hazy gray and then to the blackness of space.
He felt something rock his 'zord and realized that one of the Hafar had managed to draw a bead on his ship. Twisting the dragon hard over he continued with his climb, but brought the 'zord's twin particle cannon's around and fired point blank into the offending craft's hull. He was rewarded with a blossoming explosion of energy.
Bringing his 'zord back around, he continued to "plow the road" for the other 'zords coming up behind him. He knew that it was a combination of surprise, his Ranger Reflexes, and sheer dumb luck that he hadn't been blown out of the sky yet. Still, he wouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.
He locked in on one of the Hafar fighter-clusters that had yet to separate and deployed his 'zords claws. Swooping down he felt a shudder run through the 'zord as claws penetrated the hull of the cluster and then rotated back to the "carry" position. Jason accelerated toward the nearest large carrier, his cluster of fighters trapped in his claws. Pulling hard over on the 'zord's yaw control he sent it into a barrel roll, shifted the claws forward and released his "prey" and then straightened the yoke and pulled back hard on the pitch. The result was to send the cluster of fighters suddenly spiraling out of control into the larger carrier.
"Hey, leave some for the rest of us, Jase!" Rocky's voice crackled over the radio as Red Ranger Two came flying past him firing his particle cannons at the Hafar fighters that were trying to flank Jason.
Jason smiled to himself and radioed back, "Sure thing buddy. Take all you want."
"Too kind," Rocky smirked back to him as he dove further into the battle.
Billy dove his 'zord in and out of the fray, careful to keep a running line between the Hafar and the Earth behind them. The Rangers couldn't afford to let a single ship get through the line. So far, their strategy was working. The 'zords were too small and maneuverable for the Hafar to get a good bead on them, and they were too large and heavily armored for the fighters to be much use against them.
Off his port bow, Teelo was literally ripping a Hafar corvette to shreds with his claws, as small fighters poured their fire into his exposed flank. Billy twisted his 'zord around and flew sideways while he raked the offending craft attacking his draconic friend. Suddenly out of nowhere, a blue Aquitian fighter 'zord came blasting through the Hafar lines laying waste to fighters attacking Teelo.
"Cestro?" Billy called over the radio.
"Affirmative, William of Earth. When the Hafar fired on your dragon friend, it gave me free reign to attack them. I think Trey will be joining us fairly soon." Billy saw the Aquitian Ranger make gesture of irony again, "It would appear that the Hafar are in for an unpleasant day."
Suddenly Billy's sensors went off line and then came back on. In the distance, he could see space warp and twist as a second wave of Hafar ships dropped out of subspace. Billy felt his blood run cold as a third wave appeared and launched fighters toward their ten 'zords.
If Billy lived to be a thousand- and the evidence was beginning to show that he and the other Rangers might- he would never forget the feeling of horror that swept through him as a whole wave of corvette's closed with Jason's 'zord. There was no way Jason could outmaneuver that many attack craft. Those corvettes were just the right size to cause considerable damage to a 'zord. "Jason!" Billy screamed into his radio as time around him slowed down to a crawl. "Get out of there!"
Then out of nowhere, a single blue Aquitian fighter-'zord braked into the swarm, grabbed Red Ranger One and slung him out of the "fur ball" before erupting into a blossom of energy. The universe took Cestro of Aquitar back unto itself.
Billy hit his thrusters to intercept Jason. Suddenly, his systems read a huge spatial warp, and his engines fought against the most powerful gravitational anomaly he'd ever encountered, or could even imagine. His power systems began to fluctuate and then went off line. His 'zord simply drifted toward Jason as something huge and black blotted out the stars.
Slowly his systems came back online as the reading began to make sense. The black form under his 'zord was a good mile long and massed in the millions of tons. It snaked its way through space as it slowly took the form of one of hundred huge dragons that suddenly stood between Earth and the Hafar.
Without warning the dragons lashed out. Space warped, metal twisted, matter suddenly transformed itself into energy and then winked out of existence. In just a few seconds the entire Hafar fleet had ceased to exist, the only evidence of their existence remaining was the slowly dissipating energy coronas where the ships had been moments before.
Billy heard in his head the words of the dragon, "THIS IS OUR SPAWNWORLD AND THESE ARE OUR DRAGONKIN. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO INTERFERE HERE." Billy was sure that even those without phyre heard that.
Zack's voice echoed over the radio, "Looks like the dragons have decided to explain things to our friends from the Galactic Council."
It had been a long several weeks of changes for the people of Earth. Peace had been declared, the treaty Kim had negotiated had been signed, and the celebrations had begun. A worldwide day of mourning was declared in honor of Cestro, the fallen Aquitian Ranger who'd died saving Jason.
Several of the dragons who'd mastered the appropriate elements had worked tirelessly alongside Trini and Billy to heal the damage to the Earth's ecology. Storm Avionics had managed to produce Earth's first series of interstellar spacecraft.
Then the dragons had surprised everyone in their request of Ambassadors. Jason and Billy were ready to leave for the Dragon's Homeworld tomorrow as Earth's first ambassadors to the stars.
The party last night aboard the Storm's yacht, Melissa, made up exclusively of former Rangers plus the Storms and Teelo had gone on until the wee hours of the morning. Although alcohol was readily available it was a surprisingly sober night. Although Kim had her own reasons for not imbibing and suspected that Kat, Trini, and Aisha also shared those reasons, Kim felt there was more going on. They'd begun this journey years ago in a raging fire in Angel Grove forest, and tonight was its culmination. This was going to be their last night together as a team and she suspected that many of her friends didn't want its memory lost in a haze. Mostly there was a great deal of kidding and connecting.
Memories were drug out and dusted off. Trini was gently kidded about her fear of heights, and Zack teased unmercifully about his sleepwalking and his comments while half asleep about bunny vacuums. Kim herself spent several moments of intense embarrassment as Billy described the time she and he had switched bodies.
With sleepy good nights, they'd all turned in sometime long after midnight. Not long after sunrise Kimberly felt a familiar turning in her stomach. Recognizing the symptoms of her condition, she bolted from the cabin she and Adam were sharing below decks to lose last night's dinner over the gunwale.
For long moments afterwards she fought for control of her stomach. Turning to leave, she was surprised as Trini and Aisha suddenly burst from below decks to join her in selling Buicks to Ralph. Wiping her mouth on the back of her hand, Aisha turned to Kim to say something but was interrupted by the appearance of Kat among them.
All three women smiled to each other and offered the young Australian their support as she joined them in what they realized was going to be a shared daily activity for the next few weeks. Kat finally looked up from the gunwale, the yacht gently rocking beneath her feat and smiled slightly. "Not you three too?"
"It would appear so," Trini smiled.
"Boy is Dr. Storm going to be busy in about seven or eight months," Aisha said.
"No kidding," Kim said. "I bet…" Suddenly another form dressed in a red tee-shirt burst from below decks to lean heavily over the gunwale. Anything else Kim might have wanted to say was lost in the sounds of Jason losing his dinner from last night.
Eventually standing up from where he was leaning over the railing he blushed deeply as he realized he wasn't alone above decks. "Uh…, uh…,"
"Jason?" Kim asked.
"Don't say anything Kimberly," the Red Ranger warned.
"Jase?" Trini asked grinning.
"You either, Trini." Jason shook his head. Then leaning over the rail all he said was, "This is SO embarrassing. This is NOT funny."