Aqua Base- Med Bay
Ms. Fairweather looked up from her folder as Capt. Mitchell walked into the Med Bay. "How are the rangers?"
"Tired." William answered, a sigh in his voice. Moments after the rangers returned to the base with an unconscious Ryan, the alarms had sounded. Diabolico had wasted no time venting his anger toward the rangers and had sent a demon to the city. An hour later the rangers had returned looking dead on their feet. "I sent them all to their quarters to rest."
Noticing the circles forming under William's eyes, Ms. F wanted to order him to do the same but knew he wouldn't listen to her concern. "And everyone went?" she asked.
William almost smiled. He knew she was referring to Dana. "Eventually."
Ms. F tried to smile as well but ended up with a sad expression. The Pink Ranger was so much like her father. They had both been going through so much the past few days and she regretted that even though they now had Ryan in their custody and the Titanium powers safely locked away that it didn't mean things would be getting better for them.
William wandered over to the curtain that divided the room and drew it back slightly. An unconscious Ryan lay resting in the bed. His features, for the first time, were relaxed. "Do you know when he'll wake up?" he asked, not wanting to take his eyes off of his son.
Ms. F walked up beside him, "No, Captain. His body was exhausted. His pulse was extremely weak when we brought him in. He's on an IV now and I've given him something to help him sleep and let his body rest. But I don't know how much of an effect it will have on him." She hesitated; looking from Ryan to William, then went on. "He's full of demonic energy, Captain, he could wake up at any time. But before he does there are some things I think we should go over."
William finally pulled his gaze from Ryan and looked at Ms. F. "Alright."
She opened the folder in her hands "As I said his body was exhausted when he came in. In very good shape but exhausted. We ran some tests and it seems that he hasn't eaten."
William gave her a confused look, "Something that simple?"
"No, Captain, I mean I don't think he has eaten anything since Diabolico took him."
Ms. F passed the folder to William, a read out on top. "His system is completely clean. No food particles, no residue, nothing. I don't understand how he could have survived, unless he's been feeding off the same energy as the demons, but this starving of his system seems to have only started this past week. Other than this he seems to be in perfect health."
"Perfect," William said in a subdued voice. As Ms. F had spoken he had begun to flip through the folder and was now looking at physical shots they had taken of Ryan.
"He did sustain some injury in the recent confrontation with Diabolico, and some from fighting the rangers. Nothing serious. There is, of course, previous scarring but from monitoring his fights with the rangers and from our tests there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with him. Physically."
"There is one more thing you might want to take a look at." She said, reaching over and flipping past some of the pages in the folder. "On the lower right side of Ryan's back we found a tattoo of a cobra."
"A tattoo?" he asked, staring down at the photo. The snake was coiled together, its' head lifted, and its' yellow eyes staring out at him.
"At least what looks like a tattoo. It's not printed on his skin but seems to be beneath it. It was most likely put there by magic. From what we've learned over the years, when the demons were in power they would mark the humans that belonged to them. The symbols would vary according to which demon owned them. They were usually…" she hesitated, "branded into the forearm of the human. So far I've been unable to identify this particular symbol. The tattoo may not even be the same thing, Captain. Its' placement and the fact that it isn't a burn support this."
William nodded, still looking at the contents of the folder. Ms. Fairweather's voice faded into the background as she went on. … ones that belonged to them…owned them… branded… The words kept circling in this mind. Branded like an animal, like a piece of property. What was he to them? How had they treated him? Throughout these past fourteen years his thoughts would always find their way back to that night on the cliff, to Ryan and the demon that had taken him away. The unanswered questions and unknowable answers had eaten away at him. Why take Ryan? There had to have been something else that he had wanted. He would have given him anything else.
He remembered stories from a book of fairy tales that his wife used to read to Dana and Ryan. Evil creatures were always making deals with people unlucky enough to cross their path or need their help. In the stories they always seemed to want the person's first born child. Why? The stories never explained why this was wanted and not something else.
He had never told anyone about the demon that had come that night. He had held on long enough for the rescue teams to get him and Dana to safety. No one had pressed the issue when he said that Ryan had fallen and Dana didn't seem to remember anything other than holding onto her father. Not only was he too ashamed to tell anyone that he had allowed a demon to take Ryan but who would have believed him? Sometimes he didn't even believe himself. Thinking his mind had come up with some fanciful story that still didn't cover the fact that he had failed his son. He had no one to talk to. His wife had died only two years before. He had thrown himself into work, taking all the hours he could get at the firehouse. His mother could see he was beginning to fall apart and agreed to take care of Dana for a while, probably hoping that he would be able to pull himself back together faster by giving him fewer things to worry about.
He had wanted to die. He could admit that now. Every fire he had hoped would be his last. Finally, one was. They thought that everyone had gotten out but then a father tried to run back into the building, yelling that his son was still inside. He barely remembered running back in. He just knew that he had to save that man's son. That it might somehow make up for failing Ryan. The smoke was thick but he found him. Carter. As he stayed back and watched the father take Carter into his arms a part of him woke back up. But saving him didn't change the fact that his own son was somewhere else trapped in a burning building of his own and he realized he would never be able to help Ryan the way he was.
That fire had been his last. He took a desk job, brought Dana back home and spent every moment he could researching the demon. He and Ryan were still out there and William was determined to find them. The search spanned years. In the beginning he was almost ready to admit that it had all been in his mind when he finally realized why the demon had been familiar.
Going through his wife's boxes he found some research materials from college and a familiar description of a 'golden god' an ancient civilization had worshipped. He almost couldn't believe it; information had been in his garage that whole time. He quickly got in contact with his wife's college research partner, Andrew Hartford. That was when things really began to take off. Though he was young, Hartford was a millionaire, soon to be billionaire Indiana Jones. He told Hartford about his encounter with the demon, without bringing Ryan into it, and was surprised not only by Hartford's ease believing him but by his willingness to help. He provided private funding and became his research partner. Whenever he began to get discouraged they would uncover some new information. When the normal methods began to fail to produce the results he wanted, he used military contacts he had made before becoming a fireman. But it wasn't until the Power Rangers appeared that he finally got the attention of the right people.
William stopped in his thoughts and turned his attention back to Ms. F. "What was that?"
"I took the liberty of doing some brain scans of Ryan and compared it to the Titanium morpher frequency, no surprise, they matched." Angela sighed when William didn't respond. "Captain, I don't know when you're going to feel like talking to me about this but you and I both know that I deserve an explanation."
Capt. Mitchell closed the folder. "You're right, Angela, you do deserve more than I've told you… but," his eyes drifted over to Ryan, "not today. I… if I could just be alone with my son for now?"
"Very well, Captain. William." Angela reached over and squeezed his shoulder, then turned and slowly left the room.
A mist circled around Ryan's feet as he ran past the seemingly never ending columns. Someone was looking for him. He didn't know who it was, so he continued to run. He could feel his name being called. The voice seemed urgent but it was so distant that it didn't even stir the mist.
The sound of water churning entered his senses. Looking up he almost stopped running. Two feet above him flowed a ceiling of water. The voice seemed to be trying to pierce the liquid barrier to reach him. He was so intent on the ceiling that he failed to notice the wall of water that appeared before him until he had run into it and was engulfed in the water. He thrashed around trying to find the exit but the more he spun around the brighter his surroundings grew. Pressure from the water began to make his ears ring. Its' tone became clear, then it stopped. Seconds later a short burst rang through his ears, followed by silence.
Ryan could almost feel the light around him. It pierced through his eyelids making him groan. He tried to turn away but it seemed to be everywhere. He wasn't in the cave. There would never be this much light. He tried to remember what had happened but his mind felt thick and heavy, making it hard for him to focus on anything but the repetitious high toned note.
What the hell is that sound? His mind yelled. Slowly, he tried to open his eyes. He waited for things to come into focus, to change some how, but everything remained a sickening white color. He turned his head slowly to the right, following the sound and found a square mechanical device with a time keeping, fluctuating line on the screen. Something that annoying could only be made by a human.
He remained silent but his mind groaned. His body felt stiff and sore. Each time he blinked he felt swelling by his left eye where Diabolico had hit him. His mind stopped. Diabolico had attacked him in the mountains. He tried to raise his hand to feel his face but his arm wouldn't move. Looking down, he realized that his torso and wrists were restrained by thick leather bands. His legs were covered by a thin blanket but he could feel the bands around his ankles as well. The rangers. They had come to his aid. Ryan released a short laugh. They had thought they were helping him. He strained against the bands but they wouldn't budge.
He hated feeling trapped. How was he going to get out of this? How had everything gone so wrong? It was all so much simpler in the tomb. Everyday was training for the time when they would be released. Everyday he worked at destroying the weakness inside of him. And yet here he was. A prisoner of the enemy. All that training seemed to be for nothing. He was still human. Maybe it was impossible to overcome the weakness that humans possessed.
Ryan shook his head. He couldn't be thinking like this now. He needed to find a way to escape. His body still felt weak and sore. An irritation on his hand drew his attention. A tube with a clear liquid ran into a vein on the top of his hand. He tried to keep his mind calm but alarm shook his body. What were they doing to him? Once again he strained against the straps that bound him to the bed. Twisting his wrist, he attempted to somehow dislodge the tube. Beside him the machine's beeping grew faster.
Be Quiet! His mind screamed at the device. He was still unsure of what the machine did but he knew one thing, it was going to get the attention of his captors if it wasn't silenced. Frustration boiled inside of him. The straps wouldn't budge. He was about to cry out in anger, when the curtain to the left of his bed flew to the side. Startled, he stopped struggling and turned to the intruder. There, with worry plastered across his face, stood his father.