A/N 1: This is a complete AU for Dino Thunder. Conner, Kira, Ethan, and Trent are not going to be in this story. Instead, veteran Rangers will replace them as the newest team of Power Rangers.
A/N 2: Don't look for the Letter to be an issue. The story is T/K but, as many of you have seen in my more recent works, I've given the characters more of an adult twist. With that in mind, I highly doubt Tommy and Kim really would have gone that long without speaking to each other. I'd like to think they worked stuff out sometime after Murianthis and agreed to be friends.
A/N 3: Well, this is it, the end of Self-Destruct. Of all the stories I have written, this is by far my favorite. I've put more into this than any of my other stories, and I sincerely hope that has shown in my writing. It has also been the story I had the most fun writing, and I hope that you all have enjoyed reading it just as much.
"I've paid my dues, time after time
I've done my sentence, but committed no crime
And bad mistakes, I've made a few
I've had my share of sand kicked in my face
But I've come through
And we mean to go on and on and on and on
We are the champions, my friends
And we'll keep on fighting, till the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions…of the world." – Freddie Mercury
That being said, for the last time, on with the story…
Chapter 16 – "We Are the Champions"
Original Posting Date: June 27, 2008
Over the next few days, Mesogog had become nothing short of absolutely maniacal. Gone were his calculated attacks and well-planned strategies for battle, replaced by an all-out test of the Ranger's strength and will to keep fighting. Production of Tyrannodrones had been increased as his need for them had done the same. Before, he would send a few dozen to fight the Rangers; now they were lucky if it was less than a few hundred.
Thankfully, Mesogog had waited until after the weekend—for reasons unbeknownst to the Rangers, though Mesogog had his—to begin the initial stages of what he knew would be his last stand. With the Rangers separated, it would have been the perfect time for Mesogog to launch some kind of significant attack, but Mesogog had a tiny sense of honor, though it was more like foolish pride, that other evil beings before him had lacked. Yes, he wanted the Rangers dead—in the worst ways possible—but he wanted to do it properly, and that meant waiting until they were all together again.
Rest had been inconsequential to Mesogog in that time; when he wasn't watching the Rangers do battle, he was in his laboratory, working non-stop on his plan to take them out with him. Presently, he stood in front of a steel table where he carefully studied several beakers filled with steaming liquids of various colors. For five days he had been working on this concoction; he had yet to perfect it, and the side-effects of this were becoming more and more prominent.
To ensure that the potion had been created properly required Mesogog to drink it; usually he would have tested it on one of the Tyrannodrones, but supplies had been running thin for some time now, and he didn't want to risk wasting the perfected potion on a drone. Because of this, his eyes had become bloodshot to the point that his pupils were barely visible beneath the dark red. Some of the scales on his body had also started to protrude, creating small spikes that pierced his black robes. He looked like he was poised to take a dive off the deep end and, truly, he was.
His demeanor had grown so unpredictable that Elsa feared for her life to the point that she spent most of her time locked away in her office at Reefside High School, looking at photographs no one knew she had. Most of them depicted a woman with long, sandy blonde hair and a man with wavy blonde locks that stopped at the bottom his neck. Little by little, she was starting to see for herself that Mesogog was not going to succeed, and as her faith in her master weaned, so did the evil that bound her to him.
Mesogog, for the lunacy that had claimed him, was still no fool. He was well aware that he was losing his control over Elsa, and that it had been happening since the day the White Ranger destroyed Zeltrax. Alas, a small piece of him was saddened that she would not be able to appreciate his final battle, and the destruction of the Power Rangers, for across the laboratory, bound to a chair and gagged, was Elsa.
Her muffled moans and screams did little in the way of assisting Mesogog's concentration as he tried once again to perfect his potion. His plan had been to keep her there a little longer, but he hadn't expected that she would be so damn irritating. He wanted her gone, quickly. With his black cloak sweeping behind him as he turned, Mesogog stalked over to the chair that held Elsa. Next to the chair was a small, elevated control panel that held three blue, square buttons and a tiny red lever. Without a word, he pulled the lever, causing a near-blinding light to shine down on Elsa's face, revealing above her what looked like a giant drill.
"You're willingness to return to the side of good disgusts me, Elsa," Mesogog hissed, his fingers hovering dangerously close to leftmost button. "I will send you back, if that is what you desire, but trust me when I say that you will never see your fiancée again. He will die as part of a necessary sacrifice, a casualty of war."
Elsa whimpered as Mesogog pressed the button and the drill came to life, spinning rapidly, creating a sound so loud that it made the walls tremble. Neither she nor Mesogog knew what to think when they both realized that she had tears in her eyes. She hadn't cried in so long, not since shortly after the bodiless funeral for her fiancée. For a brief moment, Mesogog thought of compassion but disregarded the notion almost as quickly as it had come to him.
With a wicked grin Mesogog pushed the middle button, causing a high-pitched ringing as the drill began to take in power from the fortress generator, so much power that the lights started to flicker on and off. "It is here that we say goodbye, Elsa!" Mesogog shouted over the loud rumbling of the drill. "I'll say hello to your fiancée for you!"
It was a need to be overly dramatic that made Mesogog slam his fist against the last button, activating the drill's final sequence. Everything went dark, silent for just a moment before the drill started to hum, followed by a loud clap. Elsa's face became illuminated once more, this time by the beam of blue energy shooting from the tip of the drill straight towards her chest. No greater pain could she recall than when the beam entered her body, coursing throughout her as she struggled to move beneath her restraints.
Mesogog watched with great anticipation as Elsa started to glow; then it became dark again until the lights flickered back on a few moments later. The chair that had just held Elsa was now empty with black leather straps hanging loosely on the sides. Breathing a sigh of relief, Mesogog let out a laugh that was both evil and triumphant, thankful that the burden of Elsa was one that he no longer had to bare.
Curled in a ball in a field of grass, soft tresses of sandy blonde hair strewn about her, the now purified Elsa laid in the middle of Reefside Park, wearing what looked to be a white, ankle length nightgown. Slow to her feet, it took quite some time before Elsa was able to gain some semblance of her bearings. She knew not where she was, but she remembered everything that had happened to her in vivid detail. Someone had to be warned about Mesogog; she needed to find Tommy.
It was by chance that, as she walked aimlessly, she stumbled upon a group of people who appeared friendly enough that she could ask for help. They seemed so joyous and carefree in what they were doing, three men tossing a Frisbee between each other as another man and a woman sat off to the side on a blanket, both playing acoustic guitars. Growing closer to the group, she wondered what she was going to say to them. It wasn't like she could just ask if they knew where Tommy Oliver was. For all she knew, she could have been in some place like Denmark, not Reefside.
"Umm, excuse me," Elsa called out to them, realizing how disheveled she must have looked. Certainly a person had to be certifiably insane to wander around in the middle of a park in nothing more than a nightgown. She could scarcely believe her luck when one of the men, this one wearing a white tee shirt, caught the Frisbee and turned around to face her. "T-Tommy? Tommy Oliver?"
"Yeah, that's me," Tommy answered hesitantly, studying the woman carefully. She looked familiar; he knew he had seen her somewhere before, but he couldn't remember where. "Do I know you?"
"Yes and no. It's kind of complicated," Elsa replied, walking towards him. She smiled when his friends all came to his defense, standing behind him, poised to fight as if she were one of Mesogog's monsters. "You know me as Principal Elise Randall, your boss, and Elsa, general to Mesogog, but that is not who I truly am."
"Oh, fuck this! I am so killing this bitch," Kimberly grumbled, flicking her wrist to summon her Dino Morpher. Elsa flinched, wincing inwardly, but she breathed a deep sigh of relief when Tommy reached out to restrain Kimberly. "Thomas James Oliver, if you know what's good for you, you'll let go of me right this instant!"
"Full name?" Rocky murmured to Adam under his breath. "Ouch."
"I'm not here to cause you any harm, Rangers," Elsa continued, shaking her head. "I'm here to warn you."
"Warn us about what?" asked Tommy curiously, acting as if he was genuinely struggling to hold Kimberly back. "And I really doubt that I'm going to be able to hold her back for very much longer, so you better start talking, and fast."
Tommy's words were meant more as a threat to Elsa than anything else. He loved Kimberly to death, but there was no way that she could ever out muscle him. She was likely to grow tired and give up long before Tommy's arms felt even the slightest bit of soreness. Kimberly was strong, especially for her size, just not stronger than him.
"Mesogog is planning something. He purified me before I could gain all the details, but I know that he is on the verge of giving up. He knows that he can't beat you, and because of that he's working on some potion that's going to make him practically invincible. Unfortunately for Mesogog, I am a potions expert and he left my memory completely intact."
"How does that help us?" Jason asked, more than a little fired up at the sight of Elsa. He was feeling much the same as Kimberly; he wanted to morph and take her out just like Tommy had done with Zeltrax. Not for a second did Jason believe that Elsa had actually been purified. It was a trap, plain and simple, and he knew it. Why Tommy, of all people, couldn't see that was beyond him.
"Could we perhaps go somewhere a little quieter to talk?" Elsa queried.
Four Rangers moved to dispute, but Tommy held his hand up to silence them. Granted, the team was Adam's to lead, but one of the main things Zordon had taught him was to never doubt his instincts and, right now, he had a good feeling that Elsa would be able to provide them with the help and knowledge that they desperately needed to defeat Mesogog, once and for all. In this case, seniority superseded leadership, whether Adam liked it or not.
"Sure," Tommy answered, nodding his head. "We can go to my place."
Ten minutes later, Elsa sat in the living room of Tommy's house with a glass of cold iced tea in hand, explaining to them everything she knew about Mesogog's plan. Kimberly had disappeared into the basement the moment they arrived, in search of a punching bag to take her frustrations out on, but Adam, Jason, Rocky, and Tommy still remained, listening to Elsa talk. As she spoke, Tommy watched her intently, trying to figure out where he had seen her before, to no avail. This was not the woman he knew from school, that much was obvious, yet she was familiar, but he didn't know from where.
"Why are you so willing to help us?" asked Rocky once Elsa had finished speaking.
The soft expression on her face grew stern at Rocky's question. She had to take a deep breath to calm herself before answering him. "A few years back, I was engaged to a scientist by the name of Anton Mercer…"
"Denise?" Tommy interjected, partially in shock as Elsa slowly nodded her head in confirmation. "I knew I had seen you somewhere before. Anton used to show me pictures of you when we went on digs and stuff. Everyone thought you had been killed or something when you just up and disappeared after the funeral."
"I almost wish I had been, Tommy. You see, Anton isn't truly dead," she answered, surprised to see that Tommy's expression remained unflinching. "You don't seem surprised to hear that. I thought you would be shocked to hear that your friend and mentor was still alive."
"He's not alive, he's Mesogog."
Three heads whipped towards Tommy in unison; staring back at him in disbelief were the shocked and confused faces of Adam, Jason, and Rocky. Elsa, however, remained calm like Tommy. "So you know," she started as Tommy nodded his head. "Then obviously you can figure out for yourself how I came to be known as Elsa."
"What'd he do to you?" Tommy asked softly.
Elsa bit her bottom lip, wishing that Tommy would have allowed those painful memories to remain buried deep within her soul. "Mesogog came to me in our home. I was with Anton's son when he showed up. The boy got out in time, but it was too late for me. I was captured and taken to his island fortress where he tortured me day and night for weeks. Somehow I stayed resilient, but I lost the will to fight when he revealed to me that he was Anton. He forced me to drink a potion that turned me into his slave, using the emotional scars he had inflicted on me to fuel the growing evil inside of me."
Compassionately, Tommy placed a hand on Elsa's knee. "Believe me; I know better than most how horrible that feels. What's important now is that you're okay. You've helped us quite a bit, and now taking out Mesogog shouldn't be a problem at all."
"T-take him out?" stammered Elsa, tears touching her eyes for the second time that day.
"Unfortunately, I think that's how it's going to have to be," Adam answered. Tommy might have had the say when it came to letting Elsa into his home, but this was still Adam's team and in battle, he called the shots. "You made it sound like Mesogog is going to come at us with everything he's got. When that happens, there usually isn't enough time to do anything but fight right back. If there's a chance that we can save Anton, you have my word that we'll do whatever we can, but I'm not making any promises. If it comes down to us destroying Mesogog or Mesogog destroying us, well, let's just say that Rangers have a pretty good track record when their backs are against the wall."
Sniffling as she wiped her eyes, Elsa nodded her head. "I-I understand, of course. The fact that you're willing to do anything at all after what Mesogog has done to all of you means more to me than words can say," Elsa replied, looking to each of the Rangers individually. "I am truly sorry for everything I have done, as well, and Tommy, please accept my sincerest apologies. I had no control over what I was doing."
Understanding the veiled reference to the many incidents of flirtation and sexuality which Elsa had pushed on him, Tommy nodded in acceptance. "Don't worry about it. What's done is done," he answered with a smile. "But where will you go from here?"
"Home," she replied, returning the smile. "Anton's son still lives in our old house."
"Can I at least give you a lift?" asked Tommy. After all that Elsa had done to help them, he didn't feel right just sending her out into the real world without a dime to her name while wearing a nightgown.
"I appreciate the offer; however, it won't be necessary. I may not be evil anymore, but I can still get around," she answered, summoning an invisiportal with a wave of her hand. The Rangers all jumped back when the swirling pool of green and black energy appeared in Tommy's living room, fearful that they would be sucked into it along with Elsa. "Goodbye, Power Rangers; best of luck to all of you."
With a whoosh, Elsa disappeared into the invisiportal, which shut instantly with a loud crack once she was gone. Staring at the place where she had just been, Tommy shook his head, trying desperately to make sense of everything that was going on around him. Any sense of normalcy his life may have had went out the window when he witnessed Kimberly heal in minutes from an injury that should have killed her. Things were just getting weirder and weirder by the minute, and when so many weird events occurred in the Ranger world in such a close proximity of time, it was usually a sign that something very, very big was on the verge of happening.
Almost as soon as Elsa had disappeared, Tommy's living room became a chorus of uproars as Adam, Jason, and Rocky started to go back and forth with one another about what they had just seen happen. Using this as an opportunity to slip away, Tommy quietly made his way to the trapdoor leading to the basement.
Loud, strong grunts echoed throughout the room as Kimberly attacked a punching bag with a fierceness Tommy had rarely seen from her. Her strikes were powerful, enough to shake the dust from the part of the ceiling where it hung. Kicks snapped with expert precision as she went into a series of combination attacks that Tommy would have never believed Kimberly to be capable of. It was almost as if she was possessed in her movements, taking out every ounce of pent up aggression she had on the punching bag.
With a loud "ki-yah," Kimberly delivered a snapping side kick so strong that she ripped the bag right from the chain, leaving it dangling there as the bag rolled across the floor. Hands on her hips, Kimberly looked at the bag with an unimpressed expression. "Stupid piece of shit," she grumbled, unaware that Tommy was standing just a few feet behind her.
"That was impressive." Lightning quick, Tommy raised his hands to catch the fist that Kimberly tried to throw at him. He spun her around in his arms, pulling her close. Then he moved as if he was going to kiss her, only to move away, leaving Kimberly staring at him with confusion written all over her face. "If that's the way you want it," he continued, smiling while kicking his shoes off, "let's see what you got."
Kimberly winked at him before throwing herself into a graceful back handspring; coming out of the flip, she stood in a fighting stance. Still in shorts and a tee shirt from the park, his muscles already warmed thanks to Rocky's inability to throw a Frisbee properly, Tommy wore a wry grin as he approached her. Had he not just seen Kimberly rip a punching bag from the ceiling, sparring with her wouldn't have even been a thought. However, her little display had proven that she was more than capable of defending herself. Tommy had always known that she could fight, just not so well.
Stepping onto the mats near the discarded punching bag, Tommy and Kimberly bowed to each other, smiling at the same time. They had never sparred with one another before. This was going to be fun for both of them.
Secretly, Tommy had always wanted to spar against Kimberly, but he had been too afraid that he could seriously injure her. Now, though, he relished the opportunity to block the assorted strikes that Kimberly was sending his way. She mixed punches and kicks like she had been practicing karate her whole life, and blocked Tommy's return attacks with the same level of skill. Tommy was actually on his toes, his full concentration on the battle at hand; it was a reaction that only Jason had ever been able to elicit from him in a fight.
The more they fought, the more Tommy started to realize where Kimberly had picked up her seemingly newfound skills. Mixed in with flares of her own gymnastics talents were bits and pieces of the fighting styles of her teammates. He could see obvious pieces of his own Toso Kune Do style—a style he had created that was distinctly his own—along with Jason's specialty of Brazilian Jujitsu, Adam's mastery of Shaolin Kung Fu, and Rocky's prowess in the art of Tae Kwon Do.
Putting a little distance between them, Tommy looked at Kimberly and smiled proudly. "You've been watching us," he murmured softly as Kimberly nodded her head in confirmation. "Good, then you should have no trouble stopping this."
His years in the martial arts had taught Tommy never to turn his back on an opponent, so he kept his eyes trained on Kimberly as he backpedaled towards an oak cabinet against the wall. Reaching behind him, he pulled the door open, and then went over his shoulder to retrieve two Bo staves. Twirling them about as if he were in competition, Tommy started running towards Kimberly. Flipping through the air, he landed on one knee in front of her, letting out a ferocious "ki-yah," the tips of both staves just inches from her face. It had all happened so fast that Kimberly hadn't had time to react; she simply stared at the staves, unsure as to what she was supposed to do.
"Take one," Tommy told her, pushing himself onto his feet. Hesitantly, Kimberly extended her arm and took one of the staves from him. Stepping back, she swung it around for a few moments, trying to get a feel for this new weapon. "You ready?"
Kimberly nodded, dropping into a ready stance. What Tommy didn't know as he charged her was that Kimberly had been studying him and learning from him since the first time she had ever laid eyes on him, in the karate tournament against Jason. She had seen him use the Bo staff many times before; when Tommy struck, she was ready for him, using her own staff to combat his flurry of attacks.
Their grunts and the cracking sound of wood meeting wood provided the score for the epic battle that was taking place here. They knew each other's moves, what the other person was going to do, and when they were going to do it. Staff-on-staff, they exchanged blows, neither able to gain an advantage. Both were now sweating profusely, trying with all their might to either disarm or take down each other to no success. Forget Jason, Tommy had never gone up against someone who had been able to keep up with him like Kimberly was currently doing; and it wasn't just that she had been studying her teammates, either. She fought more aggressively than Tommy was used to seeing from her, as well, like a fire had been lit deep within her soul.
Swinging at each other with everything they had, their staves crashed against one another, their faces just inches apart. Heavy breathing filled the room; they stared into each other's eyes, neither making a move. They stayed like that for quite some time as their breathing slowly started to steady. Throwing caution to the wind, Tommy dropped his staff and swept Kimberly into his arms, kissing her passionately.
Silly men, Kimberly thought to herself as she returned the kiss, never relinquishing hold of her staff. When their lips finally parted, Kimberly smiled at him; before he could even return the smile, she had used the staff to sweep his legs out from under him. Placing her foot on his chest, Kimberly pointed the staff at his throat. "Do you yield?"
Swallowing deeply, Tommy started to nod his head, waiting to see if Kimberly would pull back and give him an opportunity to strike. She didn't, but Tommy still found an opening. Winking up at her, he reached up and grabbed hold of the staff; rolling backwards, he yanked the staff and used the momentum to send Kimberly flipping over him. He rolled with her, taking possession of the staff as he did so. Straddling Kimberly's stomach, using his hands to pin her arms to the mat, Tommy took one look at the weapon, looked down at her perfect lips, and tossed the staff aside.
At the first sound of the sex occurring between Tommy and Kimberly in the basement, Adam, Jason, and Rocky had taken to the backyard, far away from earshot. Having had their afternoon in the park cut short, Jason had decided to grill the burgers he hadn't had time to cook earlier. Holding a spatula in one hand and a can of soda in the other, Jason alternated between flipping burgers, drinking, and maintain his current conversation with Adam and Rocky, the tone of which was quickly about to change.
"The Caped Crusader is badass, I'll give you that, but he is not in Superman's league," Rocky argued defensively, using wildly exaggerated hand gestures to drive his point home. "There's not a superhero in the world that could take on the Man of Steel and live to tell about it."
"I could," Jason muttered quietly to himself.
"Rocky, are you mentally deficient? Batman keeps Kryptonite in his utility belt. Superman's only weakness just so happens to be that very same rock," Adam retorted, rolling his eyes at Rocky's ignorance. "All Batman has to do is whip out a piece of Kryptonite within a hundred feet of Superman and boom! Superman becomes super dead."
This was a conversation that Jason wanted no part of. He had tried to argue the case of Iron Man, but Adam and Rocky had both shot him down rather quickly, leaving him mumbling things to himself while they argued back and forth.
"Shit!" said Jason loudly, looking to either side of him. Angrily, he turned to Adam and Rocky. "You guys left all the condiments inside, didn't you? I told you to bring them with you when you came out here."
"And we would have if we weren't running from the sound of Tommy and Kim going at it," Adam replied in defense.
Jason sighed, rolling his eyes. "Well, someone has to go get them and fast or these burgers are going to burn. I've been cooking the whole time while you two dingle dorks argued about which fictional character was better. You two figure it out, but do it in a hurry. Save your pointless bitching for when you guys are playing Dungeons & Dragons with each other in bed tonight."
"I like Dungeons & Dragons," Rocky muttered softly.
"Shut up, idiot," Adam replied, elbowing him in the side. Rising to his feet, Adam put his fists up. "Come on, let's settle this like men."
Willing to oblige his friend, Rocky stood up and cracked his neck, bringing up his own fists. "Best two out of three?"
"Let's do it."
"Rock, paper, scissors!" they chanted in unison.
Rocky threw scissors and Adam threw rock, giving the first win to Adam. After four consecutive ties, Rocky defeated Adam with scissors against paper. The next round both men threw rock, then rock again, and then paper, tying three times in a row. Tensions were rising; Jason had even turned off the grill so the burgers didn't burn while he watched the pair go at it.
Alas, with all battles there had to be a winner. In their storied history of solving problems with Rock, Paper, Scissors, Adam had won more than eighty-percent of their matchups. The only reason the game had lasted this long was because Adam was trying to tease Rocky by giving him a false sense of hope. Watching Rocky's eyes, Adam knew what was coming. He threw scissors, not even bothering to look down at what Rocky had thrown. Only when Rocky gave Adam a half-cocked grin did the Red Ranger lower his eyes.
"Son of a bitch," Adam muttered. Rocky had thrown rock, not paper like he had been expecting.
"Go get the condiments, sweetheart," Rocky shot back, pushing an astonished Adam towards the sliding glass door.
"You cheating asshole," Jason said with a laugh once Adam had gone inside.
"It's not my fault he gets cocky. All he had to do was look down and see that I was showing paper. He gave me the opportunity to change my hand, and I took it. I don't know about you, but I have no desire to go in that house when Tommy and Kim are getting it on. If a little cheating is what it takes to avoid that, then that's what it takes."
With his hands over his ears, Adam entered the kitchen, whistling as loudly as he could in an attempt to drown out Tommy and Kimberly. Somehow, he managed to get the refrigerator open with his elbow, but then came the issue of retrieving the condiments. He'd have to have full use of his hands for that. Hesitantly, he removed his hands from his ears, breathing a sigh of relief when he heard nothing but the humming of the air conditioner.
That quiet quickly changed to pounding footsteps as Tommy and Kimberly came running upstairs. They burst through the door and sprinted into the living room, searching for their teammates. Hearing the clatter, Adam stepped out of the kitchen to see both of them looking rather disheveled. Tommy's was shirtless, his shorts were on backwards, and he wore only one sock. Kimberly stood there in nothing more than her undergarments and Tommy's tee shirt, her hair strewn wildly about her face.
Kimberly opened her mouth to speak, but Adam held up his hand, silencing her. "You don't have to explain, 'cause I don't wanna know. I'm just gonna go back in the kitchen, get the cheese and stuff, and act like I never saw any of this."
"It's Mesogog, Adam. He's attacking the city," Tommy replied hastily.
"Another monster?" asked Adam.
"No, I don't think you understand," Kimberly interjected, shaking her head. "He's attacking the city. He's monster-sized, stepping on cars and taking out buildings in downtown. We have to get there now! Where are the others?"
"Backyard," Adam answered, already heading that way. "I'll go get them."
"You know," Tommy started, looking to Kimberly, "some sports scientists say that if an athlete has sex within twenty-four hours of a major physical competition, it can have a negative effect on that athlete's performance."
"We're not athletes, Tommy. We're Rangers."
Nodding his head slowly, Tommy smiled at her as Adam, Jason, and Rocky came running back into the house. "Always," he murmured to her, and then turned to address his teammates. "This is it, guys. This is what Elsa warned us about."
"We're ready," Rocky replied, nodding confidently.
"I know we are, Rocko," said Tommy, looking to Adam. "You're up, bro."
Stepping to the forefront, as the Rangers fell into formation behind him, Adam raised his arm across his chest. "Let's take care of business out there," he said to his teammates. Flicking his wrist, he summoned his Dino Morpher. "You guys ready!?"
"Ready!" four voices answered in unison.
"Dino Thunder, Power Up!"
"White Ranger, Dino Power!"
Teleporting to what they knew would be their final confrontation with Mesogog, the Rangers felt confident in their abilities to get the job done. It would be a tough battle, there was no doubt about that, but it was a battle they believed themselves capable of winning so long as the information Elsa had provided for them proved to be valid. If not, the fight was going to be a whole lot harder than anything they had experienced from Mesogog.
Running through the streets of downtown with Adam leading the charge, he came to a stop roughly three hundred feet from the gigantic Mesogog and signaled for his teammates to do the same as they gazed towards the monster that looked nothing like the Mesogog they had encountered previously.
It was as if Mesogog had merged with a multitude of his dinosaur descendants. The bulk of his body was built like a Tyrannosaurus Rex, with the extended neck of a Brachiosaurus, and the spikes of a Stegosaurus running up and down his spine. The only thing that made this new creature distinguishable as Mesogog was his facial features which remained mostly the same, albeit on a much grander scale.
As the giant creature stomped through the city, the Rangers knew what needed to be done. Standing tall as the leader, Adam led the call to summon the Thunderzords for himself, Rocky, and Kimberly. "We need Thundersaurus Megazord power, now!"
The familiar calls of their Zords arrived moments before the machines did. Kimberly's Ptera Zord flew gracefully through the sky, letting out a piercing cry as Rocky's Tricera Zord, rumbling powerfully down the street, and Adam's Tyranno Zord, jumping over cars with the greatest of ease, entered the mix. While the Thundersaurus Megazord started to come together, Tommy turned to Adam. "I think we're gonna have to try something new. When I came back, I reconfigured the Zords in case we ever needed some major firepower. We can combine the Megazord with my Drago Zord and any of the auxiliary Zords. It's your call, though."
Without hesitation, Adam nodded. "Do it."
Returning the gesture, Tommy took a few steps forward and looked towards the sky, raising his arm high into the air. "I call on the strength of all those combined! We need Thundersaurus Ultrazord power, now!"
A loud rumbling could be hear as the Brachio Zord slowly came into view, making its way across the suspension bridge over Reefside Harbor. Off in the distance, a silhouette of the Drago Zord flapping its wings was rapidly approaching. As the Drago Zord grew closer, the Brachio Zord opened up on all sides, revealing the auxiliary Zords. Swooping in from high above, the Drago Zord extended its talons, grabbing hold of the Ankylo and Parasaur Zords, carrying them towards the Thundersaurus Megazord.
Swinging the two Zords in its claws, the Drago Zord threw them forward, flipping as they started to mold themselves into arms. While this was happening, the Tricera and Tyranno Zords disengaged as the current arms of the Megazord, allowing the Ankylo and Parasaur Zords to replace them. Hovering weightlessly, wings extended to their full length, the head and talons of the Drago Zord folded inwards as it attached itself to the back of the Ultrazord. Last, but not least, Kimberly's Ptera Zord mimicked the movements of the Drago Zord, pointing its wings forward instead of sideways, becoming the Ultrazord's chest shield.
"Let's do it, guys!" Tommy called out, jumping into the cockpit as his teammates followed closely behind him. Settling into their seats throughout the Ultrazord, the Rangers all took a moment to get themselves acclimated to the new setup. More Zords meant more controls to learn, which in turn meant a longer time to figure everything out.
"We can't try and get fancy with this, we don't have time!" Adam added, looking to his teammates, his eyes settling on Tommy. He knew then what needed to be done. "Tommy, you're running the show!"
"No way, man, this is your team! You need to lead!"
"Tommy, we don't have time to argue here! If we weren't going up against Mesogog, I'd agree with you, but we can't wait while we try and figure out the Ultrazord. You know better than I do what this thing is capable of, so do what you do best; take control!"
Adam's voice left little room for argument. Maybe, Tommy reasoned, being a great leader wasn't about always being the one in charge; maybe a great leader was someone who knew when another person could do a better job than they could, and selflessly gave that person the opportunity to do so. Nodding to Adam, Tommy signaled his understanding. "Alright then, guys; let's see what this baby can do!"
The Ultrazord moved forward at Tommy's command, charging towards the back of the creature that Tommy had coined the Mesosaurus.Pushing the controls, Tommy made the Megazord do a front flip, landing on the monster's back, arms wrapped tightly around its neck. Effortlessly, the Mesosaurus reached back and grabbed hold of the Ultrazord, throwing the giant machine over its shoulder, skidding across the street.
"That definitely wasn't good," Rocky commented, as sparks and smoke began to pour from the Ultrazord. Checking his power gauges, Rocky shook his head. "Tommy, Sector Two is already in the yellow!"
"Just hang tight and recharge, Rocko! Adam, guard the left side! Make sure this guy doesn't get in another shot!" Tommy barked, bringing the Ultrazord back to its feet. "Kim, Jase, load the rockets! We're going airborne!"
Following Tommy's orders without question, the Rangers went to work on the tasks that he had assigned to them. Inputting a series of commands on the row of red buttons in front of him, Tommy activated the Ultrazord's thrusters, sending it high into the air. Once Kimberly and Jason had loaded the rockets, he pushed forward on the controls, causing the Ultrazord to fly towards the Mesosaurus.
"Release rockets!" Tommy ordered.
"Releasing rockets!" Kimberly and Jason returned as the wings of the Drago Zord folded under the arms of the Ultrazord, pointing right at the Mesosaurus. With the push of a button, eight rockets, four from each wingtip, were shot towards the creature. They exploded on impact, but did little more than make the Mesosaurus stumble backwards a few steps, rearing its head back and roaring with anger.
"Holy crap, that barely fazed him," said Adam in disbelief as the Mesosaurus quickly began stalking towards the Ultrazord.
Little time was left for any of his teammates to reply. Beyond furious, the Mesosaurus locked itself into a grapple with the Ultrazord as Tommy shouted orders to the Rangers while trying to focus on gaining the upper hand. Elsa had warned them that Mesogog would be stronger than anything they had seen from him, but no mere words could have prepared them for that which they were currently experiencing. Even with the combined power of all the Zords, the Mesosaurus was simply too strong. There was no way that the Ultrazord could survive long enough to find a weakness in the Mesosaurus; at best, they'd be lucky if the Ultrazord lasted more than ten minutes against the oversized creature.
As the Ultrazord and Mesosaurus locked arms again, pushing each other in every possible direction, Tommy looked to his left and the circular red button underneath the glass case labeled For Emergency Use Only. It was their last option, one he didn't even want to consider, but it was starting to look as if it would be the only way. He wouldn't do it yet, though, not until the last available moment.
With Jason controlling the movements of the Parasaur Zord, the Mesosaurus screamed when the Zord latched onto an arm, biting into it ferociously. The Parasaur Zord, at Jason's command, began shaking from side to side as if trying to rip the arm right out of the socket. Both Kimberly and Rocky nearly threw up when Jason succeeded in doing just that, thick green blood pouring from the open wound.
"Eww, gross!" Kimberly commented, disgusted.
"Tastes like chicken," Jason joked as the Parasaur Zord chomped on the dismembered limb, allowing the pieces of chewed up arm to fall towards the street below. Still, even with one arm, the Mesosaurus was quick return fire.
Galloping towards the Ultrazord, the Mesosaurus launched forward, digging its clawed toes into the chest plate of the giant machine. Inside the Ultrazord, the Rangers were shaken every which way as the Mesosaurus began beating its fists over and over against the Ultrazord's head. As a last ditch effort, Jason managed to use the Parasaur Zord to bite the Mesosaurus' side, causing the creature to howl in pain, releasing the Ultrazord in the process.
Their reprieve was only momentary, though. While Jason's action had freed them from the grasp of the Mesosaurus, it had only infuriated the ferocious beast even further. Springing forward, the Mesosaurus spun around in midair, using its tail to whip violently across the Ultrazord's chest. Again, sparks and smoke erupted as the Ultrazord stumbled back, dropping to one knee. The Mesosaurus followed up its attack almost immediately, driving a strong, vicious knee into the face of the Ultrazord.
"I'm losing power, fast!" Adam yelled, as the Ultrazord went down again.
"Me too!" added Kimberly as she checked her gauges, looking to Tommy who was trying to get the Ultrazord back into a standing position. "I'm close to the red, here. We've gotta do something, Tommy."
Looking at the circular red button, Tommy sighed and nodded his head. "I know," he replied softly. Letting out a grunt, he lifted his arm above his head, driving it against the glass case, shattering it. "Everyone, get out of the Ultrazord, now!" From there, four voices started yelling over the top of each other. Tommy couldn't even understand who was saying what, and on top of that, the Mesosaurus was poised to launch another attack. "All of you shut up!" he bellowed, everyone instantly falling silent. "Now, like I said before, everyone out of the Ultrazord! That's not a request, it's an order!"
"What are you going to do, Tommy?" asked Kimberly hesitantly.
"I'm gonna get the Ultrazord close enough to that thing to engage it, lock on, activate the self-destruct sequence, and get the hell out of dodge. Now go before I throw you all out myself. Teleporting provides a much softer landing than if I have to eject you."
"Be careful, bro," Jason murmured, Tommy nodding. Turning away, Jason became a beam of black light, and then disappeared from the Ultrazord cockpit.
"Yeah, man, we expect to see you down there in one piece," Rocky added, pointing to himself and Adam. Tommy nodded once again as Adam and Rocky turned their backs to him and teleported away in columns of red and blue light.
"I'll see you soon?" asked Kimberly, the hopefulness evident in her voice.
"You can count on it."
"Be safe, Tommy," Kimberly murmured, following the path of her teammates.
Alone, Tommy sat at the controls of the Ultrazord, able to do whatever he deemed necessary as his was the only life in danger, now. Guiding the Ultrazord towards the Mesosaurus, Tommy allowed his hand to hover rather closely to the self-destruct button. Opening the arms of the Ultrazord wide, Tommy used a control stick on either side of him to bring them together, clasping the shoulders of the Mesosaurus in its grasp. Like Tommy had hoped for, the Mesosaurus immediately did the same. Though the creature was an enhanced version of Mesogog, the events leading up to now—mostly the loss of his sanity thanks to his inability to perfect the potion from the start—had clearly altered his mental state, and not for the better. He was stronger than before, but he was also less intelligent, and even more predictable.
Locking onto the Mesosaurus so that it became nearly impossible for it to break free from the Ultrazord's hold, Tommy took a deep breath and jammed his fist onto the button. Self-destruct sequence has been initiated, an automated version of Tommy spoke. Ultrazord set to self-destruct in T-minus fifty-nine seconds and counting.
"This is it," Tommy said to himself, watching the nearby digital timer slowly count down to zero. The next forty-nine seconds were the slowest of Tommy's life, but when they ended, he desperately wished he had more time. When the computerized voice of himself told Tommy that there were ten seconds left, the Mesosaurus started shaking the Ultrazord violently, throwing Tommy to the cockpit floor. Back and forth he slid, crashing into every chair and control station in the Ultrazord.
He had to find away to steady himself long enough to teleport out or else he was going down with the Mesosaurus and the Ultrazord.
He wasn't going to make it. The Mesosaurus was relentless in its shaking of the Ultrazord, as if it could somehow sense that Tommy was still in the cockpit, trying to make his escape while preparing to accept his fate at the same time.
As he slid across the cockpit floor, Tommy caught a final glimmer of hope out of the corner of his eye in the way of Jason's ejection button. If he could just reach it in time…
It was a word that meant finality, the end of the line. On the ground below, Kimberly screamed loudly when the Ultrazord started to implode with no sign of a teleportation beam from Tommy. In the fifteen seconds that followed, the Rangers forced themselves to watch the destruction of their Zords as they blew up in the hands of the Mesosaurus, ripping it to pieces that rained down upon the street amidst the debris from their Zords. Eventually, the loss of their Zords and the lack of Tommy became too much for Kimberly to bear. She flung herself against Jason's chest, holding onto him tightly as she tried to block out the sound of the Zords exploding behind her.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, all was silent. Kimberly clung to Jason desperately, unable to believe that Tommy hadn't gotten out of the Ultrazord in time. She sobbed in his arms as he rubbed her back softly, doing his best to soothe her. "He…he didn't make it, did he? He's not coming back."
"I don't think so, Kim," Jason murmured, biting back his own tears. Adam and Rocky came up on either side of her, each laying a hand on her shoulders, giving them a gentle squeeze. "I'm so sorry, sweetie, but there's nothing else we can do here. If Tommy's out there, he'll come back to the house. We should go and wait there for him."
Sniffling, Kimberly nodded her head and slowly removed herself from Jason's embrace, standing next to him as Adam stood on the other side of her, Rocky on Adam's left. As she raised her wrist to teleport, something caught her eye off in the distance. She couldn't be certain that the brighter-than-usual sun wasn't just playing tricks on her, but it appeared that a barely visible figure was slowly walking in their direction.
She said nothing of this to her teammates, allowing them to teleport back to Tommy's house without her. Once they were gone, she began running as fast as she could towards the apparently-approaching figure. The closer she grew to it, the more hope she had that Tommy had indeed made it out of the Ultrazord in time. When she got close enough to see the olive-tinted skin beneath the shredded white spandex, she nearly collapsed in shock.
"Tommy!" she screamed, pumping her legs even faster as he slowly limped towards her, clearly favoring the entire left side of his body. Eventually there was no more distance between them to close, and Kimberly came to a stop in front of him, hesitant to touch him out of fear that she would hurt him further.
Looking through a shattered visor, he forced himself to block out the searing pain running throughout him as he opened his arms wide. "Come here, you," Tommy muttered, grimacing silently as Kimberly threw herself into his embrace. Crying tears of relief now, she buried her head against his chest. "I'm okay, Beautiful. Everything's okay, now."
"Oh God, Tommy, I was so scared. I-I thought you were dead," Kimberly whimpered quietly, her lips quivering as she squeezed him around the waist as tightly as she could, like she never wanted to let go of him again.
"I probably should be," Tommy muttered, wincing inwardly when Kimberly flinched in his arms. Still, he knew that she would want to hear the story of how he had survived. "I had no business making it out of there alive. When the Ultrazord started shaking, I pretty much knew I was done for. It wasn't until the self-destruct countdown hit one that I thought to go into Super Dino Mode and put up a force field around me. By the time I hit Jason's ejection button, the Ultrazord was already going down. If I hadn't gotten the force field up at the last possible second, I wouldn't be standing here. Even then, my landing wasn't a very good one. I definitely sprained my ankle, and I think my ribs might be broken, too."
"You need to see a doctor," said Kimberly sternly.
"Kim, a doctor isn't going to do anything for a sprained ankle and broken ribs except wrap me up and tell me to take it easy. Jason's got some basic medic training; I can have him do that at home and not deal with the hassle of going to the hospital."
"Fine, but Jason's taking a look at you as soon as we get home," Kimberly replied, pointing a finger at him that left no room for argument. Tommy nodded his head in agreement, and then looked towards the shattered remains of the Ultrazord. Needing to see it for himself, up close with his own two eyes, Tommy let go of Kimberly and slowly started to limp off in that direction. Rolling her eyes, Kimberly quickly caught up to him. "Here, let me help you. I can get us there a lot quicker," she murmured, taking a few steps back. "Super Dino Mode!"
Following a bright flash of yellow light, spikes began erupting from Kimberly's uniform as a set of wings sprouted on her arms. With the augmented strength provided by Super Dino Mode, holding onto Tommy while flying towards the wreckage required hardly any effort on Kimberly's part. Letting her wings flutter, Kimberly carefully lowered them to the ground, setting Tommy on his feet.
Limping towards the dismembered head of his Drago Zord, wires hanging loosely from inside as sparks shot from their tips, Tommy quickened his pace, leaving Kimberly behind when he saw what looked like a human arm sticking out from the debris. "Kim, get over here, hurry!" Tommy shouted, using a wave of his arm to signal for her. She rushed to his side to see what the matter was and had her question answered right away. Indeed, lying beneath the rubble was somebody's arm. "Come on and help me move this stuff."
From there, the pair fell silent as they went to work on clearing as much of the debris away as possible. Little by little, they started to uncover more of the body, all of which still appeared to be intact. If not for Tommy's weakened state, it wouldn't have taken nearly as long for them to clear everything away, revealing the still form of Anton Mercer.
"Is he alive?" asked Kimberly as Tommy gingerly lowered himself to the ground, pressing his ear against the man's chest.
"Barely," Tommy murmured somberly.
"Is he going to make it?"
Shaking his head, Tommy's eyes drifted to his gauntlet as a thousand thoughts began racing through his brain. There was a possibility that Anton Mercer could be saved. However, it was quite risky, and with no guarantee that it would actually work out. "Not without a little help, at least," he answered.
"What kind of help are we talking about here, Tommy?" Kimberly questioned, eyeing him carefully.
"Let's get him back to the house. We need to have a little team meeting before we do anything. Help me get him up," Tommy replied. He had barely started to bend down when Kimberly stepped in front of him, carefully and effortlessly lifting Anton Mercer into her arms. "I'm not helpless, you know."
Beneath her helmet, Kimberly rolled her eyes at him. "I know that, but I also know that you're as stubborn as a mule and will refuse help at every turn. You're hurt, so shut up and let me carry the man, unless you want to risk hurting yourself even more; and if that's the case, by all means, be my guest." Extending her arms, she held Anton's body towards him, waiting for Tommy to take it from her, but he made no motion to do so. "That's what I thought. Can we go home now?"
Tommy merely nodded his head, teleporting into the basement where the unmorphed forms of Adam, Jason, and Rocky sat, waiting for Kimberly to return. Jason had to pinch himself just to make sure he wasn't seeing things when Tommy appeared alongside her, Kimberly holding onto a man who none of them had ever seen before.
"What happened?" asked Jason, bolting from his seat to where Tommy stood. "Are you okay, bro?"
"I'm fine. It's a long story. I'll tell you about it later," Tommy answered. Gesturing for Kimberly to lay Anton on the couch, Tommy powered down and looked from his friends to Anton, then back to the others. "We have a decision that needs to be made within the next five minutes. The man you see is Anton Mercer, and he's on the verge of dying. We have to decide whether or not his life is worth trying to save."
"That's kind of a loaded question, isn't it?" Rocky retorted seriously, to which Tommy simply shrugged his shoulders. "How exactly do we go about saving him, Tommy?"
Tommy could have delayed the inevitable by pulling his signature move, pacing about nervously while rubbing his neck, but there was no point in doing that. He was going to give them the straight truth with no sugarcoating whatsoever. "We have to sacrifice our powers."
"WHAT?" four voices replied, their faces showing their surprise and disbelief.
"He's so far gone that the only chance of saving him is to inject him with every drop of pure energy from all of our Dino Gems combined, but even then, it's not guaranteed to work. I know it's a tough decision, but it's also one that has to be made in the next ninety-five seconds and counting or Anton isn't going to make it."
Adam sighed. There was no way they couldn't do it. He could only imagine how disappointed Zordon would be in them if they didn't go to any lengths necessary to save a life, even if that life belonged to someone who had tried to kill them. After all, it was Zordon himself who had sacrificed his own life while, in the process, saving the likes of Zedd, Rita, and Divatox from the evil which had controlled them for so many millennia. "What happens when the next bad guy shows up and we don't have any powers to stop him?"
"This world is lacking a lot of things, Adam, but good Rangers isn't one of those things. No matter what happens after this, there will always be teams ready to answer the call if the Earth ever needs protecting," Tommy answered, looking right at the Red Ranger to drive his point home. "That's not an issue, but you're the leader, and this is your call to make. What do you think, bro?"
Shaking his head, Adam looked at his teammates helplessly. "We have to do it, guys. It's what Zordon would have wanted us to do, and if we're honest with ourselves, I think we're all more than ready to step back from this life for awhile. We did our jobs and stopped Mesogog, but now it's time to walk away and let the younger generation to take over again."
"I don't know about you guys, but I could definitely use a vacation," Jason interjected with a soft chuckle. "And Adam's right. We're all too old to still be doing this. I'm more than ready to pass the torch to someone else."
Nodding, Tommy looked to the two who hadn't said anything yet. "Kim, Rocky, what about you guys?"
Kimberly shrugged. "I'm not thrilled about the idea of giving up our powers so soon, but I don't see any other options here. Zordon would have told us that no life is worth giving up on, no matter who the person was."
"Let's do it then," Rocky supplied, removing his gem from his gauntlet as he turned to Tommy. "So how exactly do we do this, man?"
Giving his friends a warm, appreciative smile, Tommy extracted his own Dino Gem, pointing it towards the nearly lifeless body of Anton Mercer. "Do as I do," he instructed as the Rangers followed his lead with their gems. "I call upon the power of the fearless dragon; give yourself to the one in need!"
"I call upon the power of the mighty Brachiosaur…" Jason followed.
"…the graceful Pterodactyl…"
"…the noble Triceratops…"
"…the fierce Tyrannosaurus…"
"…give yourself to the one in need!" the four Rangers yelled in unison.
All at once, their gems began to glow, accompanied by a low humming, and then a blinding flash that left the Rangers holding up their free arms to shield their eyes. The humming came to a cease as the pure energy inside their gems was released via multicolored energy beams that entered Anton Mercer's body, causing him to seize. As the energy left his gem, Tommy dropped to his knees and saw that his friends had already done the same. He hadn't considered that there could be a negative reaction to giving up their powers.
No one was willing to stop, though. The pain increased dramatically as their gems continued to drain further, pouring more and more of their power into Anton Mercer, but the Rangers remained strong. Tommy was well on his way to blacking out when the outpour of power suddenly stopped, the beams of energy disappearing completely. He managed to stay awake just long enough to see Anton Mercer take a breath and slowly open his eyes, and then he collapsed on the floor.
When he awoke several hours later, he was no longer in the basement. His first realization upon waking was that he was in his own bed, alone; his second realization was the fact that his ribs had been taped tightly. Pushing the sheets away from his body, he saw that his ankle had been taped as well. Slowly, aware that any sudden movements would likely result in a severe jolt of pain that he wasn't in the mood for, Tommy pushed himself up into a sitting position against the headboard. Carefully, he reached for the light on his nightstand and fumbled with the knob until he finally managed to turn it in the right direction.
There, lying on his nightstand was a simple white envelope with his name written on it in cursive. I wonder what that could be, he thought silently as he opened the envelope, pulling out a piece of lined paper that had been folded in thirds. Unfolding the paper, Tommy looked down as another piece of paper, this one smaller and more rectangular, fluttered to his lap. Picking it up, he saw that it was a blank check, made out to him and signed by Anton Mercer. Shaking his head, Tommy started to read the note that had been left for him.
I can't tell you enough how thankful I am for what you and your friends did for me. There are no words that could ever explain the level of gratitude I have for all of you. You truly are an amazing group of people, and the world is lucky to have you as its protectors. If not for your selflessness, this world would now be a much darker place.
That being said, I have enclosed in this note a blank check for you, which I am sure you have already noticed. It is my hope that you will use whatever funds you deem necessary to pay for any damage Mesogog caused to your "equipment." I expect to see a hearty sum deducted from my bank account in the next few weeks. Also, I want you to add in the cost of a nice vacation for you and your friends to the check.
With that out of the way, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. We've been through a lot together, Tommy, and you've been like a son to me since the day you set first foot in my classroom all those years ago. You were also something else I don't have many of, and that's a friend. Your willingness to risk your own life to save me after everything I had done astounds me. The world needs more people like you.
Thank you again, my friend.
P.S. I tried to stay until you woke up, but Kimberly kicked everyone out. Feisty little thing, she is.
Tommy laughed out loud as he folded the letter back up with the check inside and returned it to his nightstand. Anton had hit the nail right on the head when he had called Kimberly feisty, of that there was no doubt. Turning his head as he heard the sound of the bedroom door opening, Tommy smiled when Kimberly, wearing SpongeBob pajama bottoms and a yellow tank top, quietly tiptoed into the room, thinking him to still be asleep. "It's okay, Beautiful, I'm awake."
"Anton's alive," Kimberly muttered. Flopping down on the other side of the bed, she let out an exasperated sigh. This day, and the days leading up to it were definitely going down in the record books as some of the longest, and weirdest, days she had ever experienced as an active Ranger.
"I know. I read his letter," Tommy commented as Kimberly gently ran her fingertips up and down his arms.
"What'd he say?"
Tommy shrugged. He didn't want to go into to much depth in regards to some of the more personal things that Anton had penned to him. "Just how thankful he was to us for saving him. He also left a blank check inside to pay for all the damage he caused, as well as a vacation for the whole team."
"Wow," Kimberly whispered, impressed. "I want friends like yours."
"Speaking of which, where are the guys?" Tommy asked curiously.
"I sent them out for the night. They aren't going to be back for a few more hours," answered Kimberly, rolling her eyes at the wry grin Tommy flashed her. "Don't go getting any bright ideas, mister. You're last two ideas nearly killed you."
"It's okay, Kim, you don't have to lie to me. I know you just kicked them out so you could have me all to yourself. I mean, I know I'm all taped up and everything, but I still think I look pretty damn sexy. Feel free to do with me as you please, milady."
Scoffing, Kimberly shook her head. "I can barely move, Tommy. I don't even want to think about anything but sleeping for at least twelve hours so if you don't plan on doing the same, I suggest finding another room."
"Grouchy much?" asked Tommy with a laugh.
"I'm exhausted, Tommy, give me a break. You know how bitchy I get when I'm this tired," Kimberly answered, burying her face in her pillow. Tired as she was, when Tommy didn't say anything else, she took it upon herself to try and engage him in more conversation, sitting up in bed. "Can you believe that it's finally over?"
"I don't think it's really set in, yet. Whenever we defeated an enemy in the past, there was always a new one waiting in the wings to step in before we could really digest what had happened. Give me a few days, and I'll let you know then."
"What if there is another bad guy waiting in the wings?" Kimberly questioned.
"Oh, I don't doubt that there is, but Adam and Jason were right earlier when they said that it's time for all of us to leave this life behind for good," Tommy answered, putting his hands behind his head as he closed his eyes momentarily. "If the pattern stays the same, I'd say that we have anywhere from six months to a year before another team of Rangers pops up. Hayley told me about some strange readings coming from a town up north called Briarwood. I was going to go and check it out but, for the first time, I can sit here with a clear conscience and say that it's not my responsibility anymore."
Funny thing about that, though; for Adam, Jason, and Rocky, their time as Rangers had truly reached its end. For Tommy and Kimberly, however, their journey was only just beginning. As the old saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens in its place. It wouldn't be long until that new door opened, beckoning for Tommy and Kimberly to write the newest chapter in Power Ranger history.
The time for his return was quickly drawing near…