Chapter 16: Home

"Any word from Andros?" Cassie asked.

Ashley shook her head. Her eyes shone with tears. "Cassie, I don't think he's coming back."

"Hey, it'll all be all right." Cassie tried to comfort her friend. "It's okay."

"Hey, look at that!" T.J. said in a low voice, pointing. "It's the Dark Fortress."

"Then that means that Andros . . ." Ashley's voice broke off as tears trickled down her cheeks.

"It's Andros!" Zhane said. "He's alive. . ." His voice was lost as he realized that Andros was carrying Karone's lifeless body.

"Andros!" Ashley cried.

The other rangers ran to him as he set Karone down gently, sheilding the public from view. She was still dressed as Astronema, but it made her no less Karone in their eyes.

Andros lifted his eyes guiltily to those of his friends. Ashley and Cassie had tears streaming down their faces. Zhane looked lost. Carlos and T.J. looked like they were about to cry. Andros felt his eyes fill with tears that he had managed to keep back so far. He bent his head over his sister's body and let them fall.


His eyes snapped open as he heard Karone's voice. Astronema was gone. In her place was Karone.

"Karone!" he gasped. He wrapped his arms around his little sister. "I'm so sorry!"

"Andros?" she said. "Zhane?"

Looking from one to the other, she said, "What happened?"

"It's a long story," Andros said, as Zhane fell to the ground by Karone and took her into his arms. "I'll tell you on the way home."

"I never thought we'd have to say goodbye," Ashley said, walking hand in hand with Andros on KO-35.

"I know," Andros said. "But KO-35 is my home."

"Will I ever see you again?" Ashley whispered.

"You will," Andros promised. "I love you. I'll come back, I promise. I just need to stay here for awhile."

Ashley managed to keep back her tears. Andros pulled her into his arms and held her for a long time. He was going to miss her so much, but KO-35 needed help right now. In a few months, maybe he could go back to Earth. But it wasn't fair to Ashley to make her wait for months, or even years, he realized. He should just let her go now. It was better to only break her heart once.

Ashley's communicator beeped. "What?"

"It's time to go," T.J. told her sadly.

Ashley swallowed. "Let's go."

Andros nodded. He didn't let go of her hand until they had reached the Megaship.

Ashley was the last one to board the Megaship. Her eyes didn't leave Andros' until the doors had slid shut. She didn't remember how she got to the bridge.

"Are you going to be all right?" Cassie asked her gently.

Ashley shook her head. "I love him so much."

"Deca, set a course for Earth." Andros stepped into the bridge.

"Andros!" Ashley cried, jumping into his arms. She buried her head in his shoulder and held him as tightly as she could. The others laughed, happy that their friends were together again.

"My home is with you," Andros whispered. "I couldn't leave you, Ash. I love you too much."

"I love you," Ashley whispered back.

"Hey, can we come too?" Zhane stepped in, his arm around Karone's waist.

"Sure," Andros said. "If you get your hands off my little sister."

"Hey, you said we could go out," Karone protested.

"I didn't say you could touch each other," Andros retorted, grinning. "But I'm in a good mood, so I'll just warn Zhane that if he ever hurts you, I will hunt him down and beat him into a bloody pulp."

"I'll, uh, remember that," Zhane said, managing not ot laugh.

Ashley burst out laughing. "I can't wait to see what he says when you get married."

"Hey, Deca, hurry up!" Zhane said, before Andros could think about what Ashley had just said.

Andros wrapped his arms around Ashley. "Let's go home."


A/N: I'm so happy! I actually wrote something with an ending! Yay! No seriously, I've spent weeks just trying to write one paragraph, and I just finished a whole story! For my next story, there's two that I can't decide between, so please tell me which one you'd rather read first. Option 1 is set in an alternate universe. The only rangers that you'd recognize would be Andros, Ashley, and Zhane. I have my reasons for doing, this. It's about Andros and Ashley, and how they get together, but it's also about Andros and Zhane's non- romantic friendship with the new pink ranger. (I can't explain that part any further without giving away the story.) It's all about love and family and happy stuff. Well, at least it will end happily. Option 2 is kinda dark and depressing, and more than a little bloody, but it will also have a happy ending. Andros and Ashley just got engaged, but he gets captured by . . .umm . . . I think it was bounty hunters. Ashley, Zhane, and Karone spend a year trying to find him. Oh yeah, and Ashley's pregnant, but Andros disappeared before they knew. So please tell me what you think! Thanks! Hope you liked 'Out of the Darkness!'