Return Of The Great Power
Book 3 - Living With The Power
Prologue: Missing Zordon
Last Revised: April 16, 2006
"The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone." -- Harriet Beecher Stowe
"Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of the ocean." -- David Searls
"Grief knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; and common sufferings are far stronger links than common joys." -- Alphonse de Lamartine
September 13, 2002
Angel Grove, CA
"YOU SUCK!" the guy in the Armani suit and handcuffs hissed and snarled at Jason, who was dragging him toward one of the unmarked police cruisers.
"Tell that to me again, I love hearing that," Jason joked, even as he stuffed the man in the back of his car. Since his arrival in Angel Grove, Jason had been working a high profile drug case. His team had finally managed to get enough evidence to make arrests. At eight o'clock, they'd gone in and took down the bad guys.
"Good work, Jason," one of the lead detectives complimented.
"Thank you, Sir."
"Head back to headquarters everyone," the detective announced, once all of the men arrested in the bust had been put into the backs of the police cars.
The ride back was uneventful for Jason. He and his partner laughed and joked about family and friends as they tried to ignore the two criminals in the backseat who were cussing and yelling and making a nuisance of themselves.
After booking the two they'd arrested, Jason and his partner sat down at their desks and began writing out their reports, which would be added to all the others from the team. Every few minutes, officers would come up and congratulate Jason, and after a while, it started getting annoying for the Green Ranger. It wasn't until he was reading over his finished report that Jason had the oddest sensation ripple through him.
Blinking back tears, the Green Ranger hastily made his way out of the bullpen and out to the court yard where many of the officers sat on good days to eat lunch. Once he was away from the building, in a secluded corner of the courtyard, Jason dropped down on a bench and covered his face with his hands.
"You did exceptionally well in my absence, Rangers. You carried on like true heroes."
Zordon. He missed the Eltarian Wizard's calming presence, reassuring manner, but most of all, his unfailing guidance. Jason though about it, and realized he hadn't experienced the sensations and feelings he was now since his first major bust after arriving in Frankfurt. Despite his time as Red Ranger, and his years of teaching martial arts, Jason occasionally had self confidence problems.
'Would he be proud of me? Would he be proud of the live I've chosen?'
They were questions Jason had asked himself so many times before, and yet, he had no answers. He could only hope his mentor would have been happy with the choices he'd made in how he lived his life, and what he'd chosen to do in honor of the job he'd been given at fifteen, the same job he had taken up again a few months before.
Billy sat silently, staring at the computer screen, but he couldn't see a word of what he'd typed. He had the briefest moment of self doubt as he was writing the program that needed to be finished in just days.
Closing his eyes, the Blue Ranger leaned back in his chair and took several deep breaths, hoping to calm the jumping in his stomach. 'Am I doing the right thing? Did I make the right decision in coming back? Is this what he would have wanted for me?'
Billy felt the acute ache in his chest. Over the years, it had dulled considerably, but hurt almost as much as losing his mother had. Zordon had been friend, mentor, and confidant. His death had left a void in each of them that would never be filled. It was days like this, when the Blue Ranger felt the emptiness the most – days when it was quiet and he had a few precious moments to himself to think.
'I miss you terribly' he thought to himself before he let to lone tears slip down his cheeks.
AG International Dance Academy and Performing Arts School
Zack slammed the door to his office shut before he collapsed into his desk chair. He'd woken up that morning in a foul mood and hadn't been able to shake it, or identify the cause. Some days he wondered why he was teaching, and other days he wondered if he was doing enough.
But it all boiled down to one point – he'd been given the chance to do something with his life and he wanted other kids to have the same opportunity.
'If it hadn't been for Zordon choosing me to be a Ranger, I'd have floated through life as a slick talking, fast joking ladies man and dance. Being a Ranger has given me the confidence to be more, to think outside the box.'
Zack sighed. He had snapped at his students for no reason, and now he was ashamed of his actions. 'Patience. He never lost his patience with us, even when I know we tested it to the limits some days. I need to follow the example he set before us.'
Taking a deep breath, Zack stood and then froze. His eyes were glued to the picture on his desk. It had been taken shortly after the team had returned from Phadoes. They'd been goofing around at the base and had started a food fight after Rocky and Justin had started arguing. Alpha 6 had snapped the picture when flour and cookie dough had started flying across the kitchen.
'Thank you for giving me a group of friends, a family, to share my life with,' Zack thought, smiling, before he went back out to his students to apologize.
Red Ninja Martial Arts
The first thing he did after entering his office following the meeting at the bank was pop some Advil. Normally, very few things got him aggravated these days, meetings with stuck up bank officials being one of them. "God! I hate pushy bank executives!" Rocky muttered, finishing the bottle of water he'd pulled out of his mini fridge.
Sitting at his desk, Rocky surveyed his office. There were pictures, awards framed newspaper articles, and the code his students learned, practiced and applied, not only to their martial arts but to their lives, displayed.
It was one picture in particular that struck him, causing his throat to clog. Tommy's mom had taken it shortly after he, Adam and Aisha had joined the team. Tommy had planned a big welcome bash for the three of them and their families. The picture was from the party, but it was just the six of them. Billy was next to Adam on the right, Aisha and Kim were in the middle, and Tommy and he were on the other side of Kim. It had been so natural, the way they grouped together for the picture.
Those first few weeks had been kinda scary, adjusting to a new school, new friends, a new 'job', and a talking android and floating head.
The base didn't seem the same without Zordon there, he admitted to himself. He had always felt sort of sorry for Tommy, Adam, Tanya, Kat and Justin, because the five had still been active when Zordon had left Earth for good. They had been subjected to being led by Dimitria, which probably wasn't as bad as he though, but Rocky knew it would have been too much change for him at the time.
'Too much change at once is a bad thing sometimes' he thought. He wondered, briefly, what Zordon would say to that. 'He'd probably say we're strong enough to withstand any change, any challenge that comes our way.' Smiling, Rocky unlocked his desk drawer and pulled out another picture. It was one taken in the commander center right before Kim had gone to Florida. Kim and Tommy were locked in each other's arms while he, Billy and Aisha were on Kim's side and Adam and Kat were on Tommy's. Alpha 5 was standing next to Adam and Zordon was behind them in his tube. It was funny to see them all together, and even funnier thinking about how long it had taken them to stop talking so Alpha could hit the remote for the camera.
'The good old days. No matter what, we're gonna make him proud.'
Red Ninja Martial Arts
Justin smiled, watching Tommy and Adam demonstrate a move for the class they were teaching. Of all the guys, only he, Billy and Zack still hadn't received their martial arts teaching certifications, but he and Zack were close, and Billy still had a ways to go. So it was fun for him to sit back and watch his friends work together. He wondered, briefly, how hard it had been for them to join teams that had already been through so much together.
For himself, it had been extremely difficult. Not only had he been taking Rocky's place, he had been coming into a team already tempered by experiences he'd never share. Not to mention his age at the time of his first tour of duty had been a major factor. He knew if it hadn't been for Zordon and Alpha 5 those first few weeks, he wouldn't have adjusted as well.
Zordon hadn't treated him like a child, as his teammates had been prone to. The Eltarian Wizard had treated him just as he had the others, as one of his Rangers. It had been by that example that the others had begun to treat him as a contemporary not a child to be protected.
'He always managed to make each of us feel complete and important' Justin thought with a wider smile. 'He'd be proud of us, all of us, for where we're at in our lives.'
"Justin!" Tommy called, snapping him from his thoughts.
"Pay attention, you're gonna need to know this too," Adam grinned. Justin just nodded and forced himself to focus on the lesson.
AG International Dance Academy and Performing Arts School
She couldn't help but sigh again, correcting the form of a student standing near the bar. She'd been feeling melancholy all day, and still hadn't figured out why. "Ok class, take a break," she announced. The girls sighed and then moved toward their bags, chatting softly about this and that.
"Ms. Hillard, are you ok?" one of the older girls softly questioned.
"I'm fine, Kathleen, just a little tired," Kat told her softly. "Girls, stay in the room, I'll be back in a few minutes."
Turning, Kat fled to her office. She'd gone from feeling tired and queasy to feel like she was having a panic attack. Once the door to her office was closed and locked, the lithe dancer sank to her knees, arms wrapped around her mid section as she rocked back and forth.
'God, what's going on?' she mentally asked herself even as she automatically started a breathing exercise Jason had taught her. She hadn't felt like this since...since shortly after passing her Turbo powers to Cassie. "Why now?" she gasped out loud.
The sick, queasy and unsure feelings slowly gave way to calm reassurance. It was as if someone had wrapped her in a warm blanket and was holding her close. It didn't quite feel like when Jason held her, but was similar. 'The last time I felt like this was right before...'
Kat blinked rapidly and then struggled to her feet. Quickly, she sat down at her desk and grabbed her mini calendar. The date that stared back at her made her eyes water.
Four years. It had been four years exactly since he'd died. Tears sprung to Kat's eyes as she covered her face with her hands. She sat there, her shoulders shaking and her teeth clenched to keep the sobs in. The loss of him from her life hurt like no other ever had or ever would. Katherine had come to accept that, but it didn't make the anniversary of his death any easier. She also knew she felt this anniversary more now that she was once again tied to the Morphin Grid, and had the others by her side to share in the grief. The first one had been the hardest, and the last two she'd simply pushed the date out of her mind. She couldn't ignore this, not now.
After a few minutes, she finally managed to get herself together. Shakily, she held up her left wrist and pushed a button on the silver and orange communicator that adorned it.
"Alpha 6 do me a huge favor. Contact each of the others and tell them to meet at the base after work. It's not an emergency, but it's important."
"Kimberly just called. She's stopping to get candles. So far, I think she's the only one who realized what today is, other than you."
Katherine grinned. "Leave it to our Hart. Tell Kim I'll stop and get dinner."
"Of course. Alpha 6 out."
North Angel Grove
Trini sat ramrod straight, her eyes on the client she was having lunch with. Her attention, however, was elsewhere. For some odd reason, she felt off, and she couldn't figure out why. "Ms. Kwan, are you alright?"
Trini blinked and automatically nodded. "I'm..."
"You're awfully pale. Do I need to call someone for you?" the gentleman asked, concerned.
"No, I'm fine. In fact, I think I'm going to go to the restroom, excuse me for a moment."
She didn't even wait for a reply, she just hurried toward the bathrooms. Once inside, Trini stood in front of the mirror and studied her reflection. She was incredibly pale; the only thing she could compare it to was what she must have looked like the first time she'd faced Goldar on her own.
'What is wrong with me?' she thought while she leaned down and splashed cold water over her face. 'You'd almost think I was pregnant, but it's impossible since Billy and I haven't been together, and I haven't since my last boyfriend three years ago.'
Carefully, Trini lifted her head, her eyes suddenly fixating on her communicator and it finally hit her what day it was. "Oh Zordon!" she whispered, blinking away the tears that were suddenly in her eyes.
Yellow Paws Animal Clinic
1210 Fort St.
Aisha was sitting on the floor, feeding a puppy that needed to be bottled fed milk when she suddenly felt dizzy and overly warm. "Aisha, are you alright honey?" one of the nurses asked, crouching down next to the Yellow Ranger.
"Jamie, take care of Rox for me," Aisha told the nurse, who took the puppy and bottle while Aisha rushed to the bathroom at the back of the room they were in.
Once she was alone, Aisha leaned her back against the wall and slid to the floor, her hands coming up to cover her face. 'God, why do I feel so sick?' she silently wondered. Taking a couple of deep breaths, Aisha attempted to try and calm her rolling stomach. 'Ok, what did I eat that would make me feel like this?'
Breakfast had been a bowl of cereal with Kim, and Rocky had brought takeout from his favorite Chinese place for lunch. She'd only had egg rolls, rice and soup. None of that could really have caused what she was currently feeling, and both she and Kimberly were vigilant about the food in the refrigerator, so the milk was still really good. Other than that, nothing else could have made her sick.
"Aisha, you have a phone call!" Jamie called through the door.
"Be right there!" the Yellow Ranger called back, moving to the sink where she splashed water on her face. Shakily, she made her way back into the other room and then up to the front desk. The phone was on hold for her, so she picked it up, recognizing the voice immediately.
"Tanya, what's up?"
"You feeling ok today?" Tanya asked, her voice deadly serious.
"Not really, but then again, I have a feeling you knew the answer to that before you asked. What's up?"
"The Alphas have summoned us to the base. I guess they've talked to everyone, and it seems you aren't the only one who isn't feeling great. We need to meet at base after work. Kat's bringing dinner, but something's going on. Alpha 6 would only tell me it was a special occasion."
"Weird," Aisha muttered. "I'll be there." Taking a deep breath, Aisha hung up the phone and felt her body relax, as if a weight had been lifted. She started feeling good enough to head back to the animals she still needed to care for.
Magic 95.4 Radio Station
Downtown Angel Grove
Tanya hung up the phone and stared at the instrument board, her eyes welling with tears. Her chest heaved slightly, her breaths shuddering out of her. While she'd been talking to Aisha, it had suddenly hit her what the special occasion was.
Four years. It had been four years since a piece of her had died; a piece of all of them really. After Zordon had left Earth, their bond had seemingly disappeared. And when he'd died, they had all felt alone. She knew this because she'd spoken about it to most of them since the team had regrouped. Sometimes, she still felt alone, and knew that they all did. Even with Adam beside her, she still felt the void left by Zordon's death.
"Tanya, are you alright?"
"Yeah, let's get started Rick," she murmured.
It was a good idea for all of them to be together, on today of all days. Whatever Kimberly and Katherine had planned, it was bound to be an affirmation of the bond and legacy they had shared with the being that had brought them all together.
"Let's rock!" Tanya smiled.
Red Ninja Martial Arts
Adam flopped down in a chair on the side of the room and raised a towel to his face, using it to wipe the sweat from his skin. He'd been sick all day, and now he knew why. Alpha 5's communication at lunch had cleared up any confusion on his part. He only wondered now if the others were as sick as he was. Tommy had been fine until lunch, and then the White Ranger had gotten quiet and had withdrawn from him, Justin and Rocky.
"Four years," Adam muttered to himself.
Had it really been that long since Zordon had crossed over? It didn't feel like four years, but it had been. So much had changed in that time. He and Tanya were married, not just dancing around each other. All of them had graduated from college. Everyone was back on Earth, and more importantly, back in Angel Grove. They were all Rangers again. Heck, even Tommy and Kim had managed to find one another again. So yes, lots of things had changed, but Adam could only hope Zordon would be proud of each of them for who they had grown into.
"Adam! Come on!" Justin called, gesturing toward the new class of students.
"Coming!" Adam grinned, pushing himself out of his chair and toward where Tommy and Justin stood at the front of the room.
Little Crane Gymnastics Academy
Tommy sighed, pulling his truck up to the curb outside Kim's gymnastics academy. He knew everyone had been feeling like crap all day, he could only hope Kim wasn't in a grouchy mood like the rest of them had been as he'd talked to them. All he wanted to do was pull her into his arms, and hold her till the hellish day was over with.
"You look like shit," Kim announced, poking her head through his window.
"Between school, teaching, and the significance of today, I'm sick of dealing with people," Tommy told her seriously, looking broody and irritated.
Kim raised an eyebrow. "If you're looking to pick a fight, you can just go to the base and I'll meet you there."
Tommy gave her a look that spoke volumes more than any word he could say. "No thanks. Can I come in?"
The Pink Ranger grinned. "Yeah. The seven year olds are here. I'm sure all the little girls will love seeing my oh-so handsome boyfriend," Kim teased.
The White Ranger smiled his first genuine smile of the day for her. "Really?"
Kim laughed. "They giggle easily. Come on." Tommy climbed out of the truck and took her hand, letting her lead him inside her academy.
Once they were inside, Kim nudged Tommy over to where many of the parents were sitting while she went out onto the floor and gathered her students together. Most were girls, but she had three boys as well, and all of them were looking at her expectantly. Tommy wanted to laugh when the kids started bombarding her with questions.
"Ms. Hart, who's that?" one of the girls asked, pointing to where Tommy was sitting.
Kimberly grinned. "That's Tommy."
"Why is he here?"
The elder gymnast laughed. "He's here to pick me up for dinner."
"Is he your boyfriend?" one of the boys asked.
Tommy smiled softly as he watched Kimberly's eyes sparkle as she pinpointed him with her gaze before he looked back to the kids and nodded. "EWWWW! Boys have cooties!" the girls announced.
"WE DO NOT!" the three boys defended.
The White Ranger chuckled to himself, listening to the kids go back and forth. He couldn't help but feel his mood lighten at the playful banter between Kim and her students as they moved to stretch out their muscles before they started their exercises. Adam had been right when they had talked earlier – a lot had changed in four years. For him, the most important change in his life was standing in front of a dozen seven year olds demonstrating a hand stand now. He'd never imagined Kimberly being back in his life as anything more than an acquaintance at most. He'd been so mad at her for what had happened in the beginning, but it spoke volumes of how much he'd grown up that despite everything, and with a lot of explanations and faith, he'd allowed her back into his heart.
'She never left' he reminded himself. Zordon had told him the same thing after the letter had first arrived. No matter what happened between them, Kimberly would remain in his heart forever – as the first girl he'd ever loved. 'Now she's the first woman I've ever loved' Tommy thought, grinning. He and Katherine had still been kids when they'd been together, and she was the last girlfriend he'd had.
"Is he a gymnast?" Tommy heard one of the kids suddenly ask Kimberly when Kim helped them stand up from their handstand.
"Nope. Tommy's a martial artist. He has a sixth degree black belt in Karate and he's studying Ninjitsu now," Kim told them.
"It means he's learning to be a ninja."
"Like the Ninja Turtles?"
Tommy felt himself crack up at the look that crossed Kim's face. She was obviously thinking of the old television show from when they'd been little. If any of them qualified these days as a Ninja Turtle, it'd have to be their newly appointed Green Ranger.
"Ummm, sort of."
'I hope you're watching over us and are proud of the people we've become' Tommy thought, his eyes closing as he pictured the first time he'd met Zordon after being released from Rita's magic. Zordon had always recognized the potential in his Rangers. He could only hope the Eltarian Wizard knew they were still striving for that potential.
The Pink and White Rangers were the last to arrive in the Command Chamber following dinner. No one had spoken a word since they'd finished. Instead, they had all made a silent pact that the rest of their evening was to be spent in a comfortable silence.
However, Kimberly broke that silence as she passed out the candles she and Tommy had brought. "I think it'd be better if we go outside for this," she whispered, watching the others nod in agreement as Jason lit the candles behind her, literally. The Green Ranger was one of the few of them who'd learned he had extra powers he could control thanks to a minor incident with the candles in Katherine's bedroom a few days before.
Jason's eyes were glowing green as he passed his fingertips over the wicks of the candles each of them held. The flames on the candles burned green for a moment before dying down to the normal orange glow of fire.
One by one, the Rangers followed Tommy and Kimberly out the main entrance to the base and onto the plateau outside. Both of the Alphas followed, each somber in their own way. Together, the fourteen formed a circle. Jason, Rocky, Adam, and Zack handed their candles off to whoever was standing next to them before they stepped into the inner part of the circle and each held a hand out. One by one, each closed their eyes and summoned their new powers.
Jason glowed green, and was soon alit with green fire. Zack's body suddenly lit with golden power, and the air around them began to shift and swirl. Adam's body was encased in black, and rain soon began to whip around the group, but didn't drench them. And finally Rocky shone red as the Earth below them rumbled.
Finally Katherine stepped into the inner circle, having handed her and Jason's candles to the Alphas. Quietly, she moved to stand in the mini circle created by the four male Rangers and raised her arms to the heavens; seconds later large bolts of lightning ripped through the air followed by an orange glow of light that surrounded the Orange Ranger.
The five of them had been steadily growing stronger in the use of their new powers, as each held what Alpha 5 had termed as elemental powers. Katherine had explained to them before dinner what she wanted to do, in conjunction with the candles Kimberly wanted to light. The Orange Ranger wanted the five of them to open themselves to the powers they possessed as a tribute to the person they were remembering. The other Rangers kept vigil over the five. It was almost an unconscious nod to how Zordon had often watched over them as they wielded the powers he'd given them.
After a good ten minutes, the five Rangers let their powers disperse back to where they'd called them from, leaving them drained. Each sank to a knee, while the others continued to stand where they were, eyes closed. As one, the Rangers blew out the candles, Billy and Justin leaning over to blow out the candles the Alphas held. Kimberly took the candles back and placed them in the bucket she'd brought out with her. Tommy, Aisha, Tanya, Justin, and Billy moved to help their friends stand, the entire group heading back into the base.
None of them saw the ghostly imagine in the night sky, floating among the sparkling stars. None of them saw the sad yet proud smile of the being that'd brought them all together. 'I am proud of you, all of you. May the power protect you as you enter this new phase of your lives.'