It was starting to get to get dark as three motorcycles came to a stop in front of a motel.
They had done a good day's traveling considering they hadn't started out until late afternoon. In another two or three days and they would be in the town where Nick had grown up.
All three dismounted and Nick led the way to the registration office.
"Can I help you?" asked the young female behind the counter.
"Yes we need a room," said Udonna, "With two double beds."
Both Udonna and Leanbow came from the Mystic Realm true, but that didn't mean they didn't know anything about the modern world, or how it worked.
"Yes ma'am," said the receptionist trying to figure out why all three were familiar. "That will be 40 dollars a night or 200 a week."
"We only need the one night," said Nick speaking for the first time. "We'll be back on the road come morning."
"Here are the keys. Checkout time is 10 am. Your room number is 315.
"Thank you," said Leanbow politely turning to leave as soon as he had paid the bill and all three had signed the register.
As soon as the three had disappeared the receptionist pulled the guest book towards herself and then turned it so she didn't have to read the names upside down.
Leanbow, Udonna, Nick Russell she read the three names on separate lines, the first two having no last names.
Suddenly it came to her that all three of them were Mystic Force Rangers and had just helped save the world from some evil known as the Master. She had just seen them on the news not more then a couple of days ago. Three of the Mystic Force Rangers in her motel? she thought awed practically falling over in shock. Could it be? she wondered again. Could it possibly be?
Three days later Nick led the way down a quiet residential street and stopped at a two story house.
Nick pulled up his visor and observed the house for a moment. "Well here we are," he said as he dismounted and pulled off his helmet hanging it off one handle bar. "They should be expecting us."
Both Leanbow and Udonna dismounted as well and all three walked up the driveway to the house. Nick then took out his out his key and unlocked the front door and went inside.
"Nick is that you?" asked a female voice from another room.
"Yes mom," said Nick as Leanbow being the last to enter closed the door behind him.
Having two sets of parents that you called mom and dad could be confusing so Leanbow and Udonna had agreed that to make thing easier Nick was to use their given names while they were with his adoptive parents.
A woman came out of another room wiping her hands on a towel.
"Mom, where's dad?"
"I think he's upstairs honey," Charlene responded.
Nick nodded and after giving his adopted mother a kiss on the cheek went upstairs to find his adopted father.
A few minutes later all five sat in the living room sipping tea and Nick explained about his being a Mystic Force Ranger and that Udonna and Leanbow were really his parents. Every now and then one of the other two would add a comment, but they mainly allowed Nick to do the talking.
Both Charlene and Daniel seemed too much in shock to do more then absorb the story and when Daniel finally spoke his voice sounded slightly strangled, "You're telling us that you were not only a Mystic Force Ranger right from the beginning, but that you were the leader of them?"
"Yes," said Nick.
"And you never told us why?" asked Charlene.
"I was trying to protect you," said Nick. "I figured if you knew you would be in danger of being kidnapped and used to get us to surrender. I did not want to put your lives at risk. But now that the Master is gone—destroyed, Leanbow convinced me that it was time to tell you the truth because the danger is now over."
"And this is the way it has been for the last year?"
"Yes," said Nick.
"I can understand why you wanted to protect us," said Daniel. "But what I don't understand is why you decided to tell us now."
"I told you why," said Nick. "The danger is now over and I thought that next time you came to visit me in Briarwood you'd find out from one of the citizens anyway—so we thought it better to tell you before you found out that way, or from one of the news reports."
"There have been news reports over the last few days mostly just broadcast in Briarwood, but also picked up by other TV stations all over the world," said Udonna. "If you had watched the news anytime in the last couple of days you would have more then likely seen a news report with the Mystic Force Rangers and how they saved the city and possibly the world from destruction."
"I see," said Daniel thoughtfully. "I suppose it makes sense."
"It does," added Charlene. "The only reason we weren't aware of Nick being a Power Ranger is because we haven't watched the news in a while."
"Actually I'm glad you told us," said Daniel. "I mean now that I think about it, it was kind of suspicious that you told us that the Mystic Force Rangers were your friends, and that you knew their identities, yet you claimed not to be one of them. Now from what I know or at least guess about superheroes is that they protect their identities so they can live a normal life outside of being heroes of course."
"You seem to have thought about this a lot," commented Leanbow. "Most people just assume that superheroes don't have a normal, everyday life."
"I haven't thought about it not really. It is only logical that heroes would have the same desires as anyone else. The desire; too have a job, date, get married. Why people assume that they don't have other identities and lives I don't have a clue. To me it's obvious."
Nick stared at his adopted father in amazement for he had just answered an age old question—well maybe not age old, Nick admitted silently. But his adopted father had thought more about the fact that most superheroes had secret identities and lives then most of the rest of the world.
"So how long can you stay?" Charlene asked.
"Oh a few days at least," said Udonna. "We would like to see at least some of the city before we head home."
"Well you're welcome to stay here as long as you like. We have an extra bedroom upstairs."
"Thanks for that," said Leanbow. "We appreciate your kindness and for raising our son. Not many people would have taken in a child left on their doorstep."
"It's no problem. Of course Nick has always wondered who his real parents were ever since we told him he was adopted and so we are glad that he has finally found them. Because of that he has finally found out who he is."
After that rather startling statement conversation turned to more ordinary things until Charlene announced it was time for dinner several hours later.
Billy Cranston and Hayley his wife sat on the back porch of the house they had bought after they had married. They had gotten married about a year ago and Billy had moved to Reefside so that Hayley could still own and run the cyberspace. Unlike Tommy's and Kim's wedding two years before theirs had gone off without a hitch.
"Isn't it nice to just relax and shut down for a while?" Hayley murmured leaning her head against her husband's shoulder.
"Yes," mumbled Billy into her hair still marveling that she had agreed to marry him.
They sat like that for a while staring out at the trees and watching the creatures moving through the undergrowth when suddenly they heard a cough coming from a few feet away.
Both looked up and Billy was instantly on his feet going on the defensive. The men standing in front of them were both of average height and slender but there the resemblance ended. One had blond hair and looked fairly young while the other had brown hair with streaks of gray. Both wore government; issue suits one in blue the other brown.
"What do you want?" Billy demanded looking ready for a fight while Hayley tensed beside him also ready to do anything she could to help if it became necessary to do so.
"We mean you no harm," said the older of the two agents.
"We just want to talk," added the younger one.
"We work for the government Mr. Cranston."
"I know. I can practically smell a government agent from fifty yards. What do you want?"
"Can we talk about this somewhere a bit more private?" suggested the older agent.
"ID?" asked Hayley holding out her hand.
The two agents withdrew identical brown leather wallets from their back pants pockets and flipped them open to show badges that said FBI.
"Agents Tulley and Peterson at your service Mrs. Cranston."
"Billy," said Hayley softly her tone a warning. She knew what her husband thought of the government, but that was no reason to be rude.
Billy sighed, nodded, gave in and gestured the two agents to come inside.
"Precisely what is it you want?" asked Billy his hands folded in front of him once they had all sat down at the kitchen table.
"Your assistance," said Tulley.
"The government needs you," added Peterson.
Billy snorted and said acidly, "The government and I aren't exactly on the best of terms. So whatever you want forget it. I pay my taxes and that's enough."
Both agents looked at each other then Tulley the older of the two pulled out his ace in the hole. "Mr. Cranston we know that you were a Power Ranger."
"The original Blue Ranger to be precise and we also know that Jason Scott was the very first Red Ranger, Trini Kwan the yellow, Zack Taylor the black, Kimberly Hart the pink and Tommy Oliver the green then the white," added Peterson.
"And if you remember the Green Ranger was original evil and tried to destroy Angel Grove—"
Both Billy's and Hayley's expressions remained blank at this rather apt announcement wondering how the government could have gotten this information.
The original team had gone to great lengths to protect their identities.
"Just supposing this information was true," said Billy neither; confirming or denying it. "What is it you want exactly?"
"You have heard of the Mystic Force Rangers I'm assuming?"
"And if I have?" asked Billy noncommittally, his expression closed his blue eyes shadowed.
"Have you also heard about how the people from both Briarwood and what we are calling the Mystic Realm, that exists in the woods outside of town; have begun by forming a no longer completely human city? It is a place where humans and aliens can mix freely."
"You still haven't explained exactly what it is you want with my husband," said Hayley.
"We want you to talk to these people for us. The government wants to form a kind of Power Rangers police force. Sooner or later aliens from other planets are going to be settling here and we will need somebody to take down the ones who break the law. Something the regular police are ill equipped to handle."
"So why don't you talk to them yourselves?" asked Hayley.
"Because we think that they will be more likely to listen to you as a former Ranger. One who has actually fought something similar, then to us who has no experience fighting that way," Peterson said.
"Probably true," Hayley mumbled almost to herself.
"Not to mention that the three that would have this information live in that other Realm and we really have no jurisdiction in that area," added Tulley.
"Let me get this straight," said Billy starting to push his glasses up on his nose, realized he didn't wear glasses anymore and hadn't for more then a decade, then ran it through his short blondish brown hair instead. "You want me to go to Briarwood and talk to the Mystic Force Rangers to set up a police force of Rangers—" Billy paused for a moment then continued. "I'm assuming you will want to set up a kind of Ranger training program in order to train whoever enters and I'm also assuming that you will want to create your own Morphers."
The two FBI agents looked at each other then back at the pair their expressions ones of stunned amazement.
"Come on gentlemen it is only common sense that one you would only accept those who would agree to be Power Rangers willingly for it can be extremely dangerous at times. Two that you would want to build some kind of place to train them and three that the government would need to create their own Morphers in order to have their own Power Ranger police force."
"Very perceptive of you," Tulley admitted impressed despite himself.
"Anyway you want me to do this out of the goodness of my heart?"
"Not precisely no," said Peterson. "The government is willing to pay you for your services, in the amount of 25,000 dollars."
Billy blinked in amazement at the amount and Hayley coughed in shock.
"I will not do something I consider against my ethics unless I am absolutely sure of the governments intentions. You know what they say burn me once shame on you, burn me twice shame on me."
"Oh it is all on the level," Peterson assured them. "The President himself has voted for this project—"
"Words are nothing, but words for they can be either true or false. So unless you have proof of what you say—"
"We do actually. The President knew you might be hard to convince once he read the file we have on you so he sent this along," said Tully pulling out a sealed document with the presidential seal holding it shut the ribbons hanging off the bottom out of the inside pocket of his suit jacket. He then handed it to Billy who took it and broke the seal with one thumb.
The seal was the real thing as far as he could tell without putting it under a microscope and examining it more closely. He unfolded the letter and immediately noticed that it was done on vellum which was only used for official documents. That alone argued that it was indeed real for vellum was expensive. He read the entire thing which had been typed probably on a computer then printed. Haley got out of her chair and read over her husband's shoulder.
The letter began Mr. Cranston and went on to say that—to plead really—that the government needed his help. It also said how the world was changing more and more every year but especially in the last few months with the humans and people from the Mystic Realm mixing freely and mostly living in peace. It went on to say how eventually aliens would come from other stars and at least some would cause trouble. How would they deal with the ones that did? it seemed to ask. This was why they needed to start making plans for that event before it happened and got out of hand.
"I admit that the President makes a persuasive argument," said Billy looking up from reading the letter with an indecipherable expression on his face. "If I was to be cynical however I could assume that this was written by a secretary and that the President just gave it his seal without even doing more then glancing at it. If I wanted to be cynical that is," he said his blue eyes looking at the two men sitting across from him with such a look of intelligence sparking behind them that it made both FBI men squirm in discomfort.
"Mr. Cranston, I want to assure you that the President did that letter himself. Oh he had a secretary type it but he dictated it right from the Oval Office."
Billy looked thoughtful for a moment before folding the letter along its crease and handing it back to the two agents. "All right say I agree to do this—and I'm not saying that I will or even that I was a former Power Ranger—"
"Mr. Cranston—" Tulley began.
Billy raised a hand the said quietly, "Gentlemen I will neither conform nor deny that I was one. You will just have to accept that your information is either accurate or it isn't because that's the way it is. How you got your information I don't know, although I admit I would love to, but since I'm sure you aren't going to tell me so that settles that. I have agreed to do what you have asked, let that be enough."
Both agents looked at each other then the older of the two nodded and said, "Very well Mr. Cranston, here's what we want you to do—"
After that the two agents finished telling them what they wanted.
"All right, I do this one thing as long as it is understood that this is the only favor I am willing to do the government—ever. Do I have your word that no one in the government will contact or bother me again?"
"We can't give you our word," said Tulley finally after he thought about it. "For the government is big and we are only minor wheels in a very big piece of machinery. I'm afraid that we do not have that kind of authority."
Hayley looked at her husband because she could immediately sense a kind of relaxation in him that hadn't been their previously. The two agents she instantly reasoned had just passed some kind of test when they had answered so honestly.
Billy's expression warmed noticeably and both agents instantly noticed the change and also relaxed a little.
"Do you have a phone number where I can reach you?" asked Billy.
Tulley gave Billy a card that not only listed the FBI main number but both agents' cell phones as well.
Billy then escorted the two agents to the door and told them he would be in contact. As he was about to close the front door he said, "I want you to know if you had not answered that last question so honestly I would have had nothing further to do the government. This just tells me that not all of the government is dishonest, or arrogant, and for that I thank you."
Both agents looked at each other stunned realizing now how close they had come to failing without even knowing it.
"Cranston is a strange man," commented Peterson.
"Not really, I can understand where he's coming from," said Tulley. "Think about it. He's already been burned by somebody in the government once he has a right to be leery of any governmental agents knocking on his door.
"I suppose so," said Peterson looking thoughtful. "I wonder what, happened?"
Billy watched the road a long time even after the federal issue car was out of sight and only came out of his thoughts aptly when he felt his wife's hand on his shoulder and realized that he had been standing at that same spot for at least half an hour.
"You okay?" asked Hayley.
"I'm fine," said Billy turning around to give her a kiss. "Just thinking."
"About what?" Hayley asked.
"Oh about the old days and how much I still miss it sometimes."
"The FBI visit got you thinking again didn't it?" asked Hayley.
"Yes," said Billy softly his blue eyes sad with remembrance.
"And now we have to go to Briarwood and talk to another group of Rangers which will only make it worse," said Hayley.
"No, I kind of want to do this. Too meet these Mystic Force Rangers. It will be nice just to meet some of the newer generation."
"You've been thinking about this for some time haven't you?"
"Yes, even before I was approached by the FBI boys I had been thinking about going down there and just introducing myself."
"And maybe making friends with them?" Hayley suggested
Billy shrugged and didn't respond for a moment then said, "That might be part of it, but one of the main reason's that I wanted to go down there and study the alien life forms."
"They aren't exactly alien," said Hayley.
"I know but they aren't human either. The word alien is just a generic label that humans put on anything that isn't like them. Anyway we have a trip to plan. I'll call the airport if you'll start packing."
"All right, how long do you think this trip will take?"
"I'm not sure but plan for at least a week."
Billy turned away and headed for the kitchen phone to order the tickets.
The next day
Billy and Hayley walked among the residents of Briarwood in amazement for humans with the people from the Mystic Realm freely and without apparent malice.
"Did Peterson or Tulley mention where to find these Mystic Force Rangers?"
"You know they didn't since you were there, but I've heard that one of them runs some kind of training classes. The details I could get were vague at best. However I did get that he runs his business out of an old warehouse that he rents for the purpose."
"Should we head over there?"
"Let us drop our stuff at the hotel first then I can."
"Billy—" began Hayley
"I prefer to go alone this time Hayley," Billy told her gently but firmly. "At least until I'm sure he is who he says he is."
"All right," Hayley sighed. "What am I supposed to do in your absence?"
"Explore the town. Get the lay of the land so to speak."
"Very well," said Hayley not looking happy with the solution but agreeing nonetheless for she really had no choice.
Billy stood in the doorway of the warehouse and observed the scene within. At the far end of the room was a tall dark haired and bearded man teaching a small class of no more then ten students all of whom were paired off and practicing with swords against each other. The swords were real and very sharp as far as he could see. There were no epees or rapiers here but real swords like the knights of old had been reputed to use.
The man who was seemingly in charge wore a half brown half blue tunic with an S in a black border on the left side over where the breast pocket usually went. The tunic was also open at the collar and underneath was a white shirt with long sleeves that were white from the shoulders to the elbows and red the rest of the way. As for the pants they were black with blue belt and gold buckle. Black leather knee boots completed the outfit.
"Class dismissed!" the figure said. "See you tomorrow."
The students saluted then quietly gathered their things and left talking. Daggeron watched them leave then headed over to where he had noticed the man standing apparently waiting for class to end.
"Can I help you sir?" Daggeron asked.
"Maybe, my name is Billy Cranston. And you are?"
"Daggeron, I saw you watching my class." Now why does this guy's name and face seem so familiar? Daggeron asked himself silently for both the name and the face had rung some kind of bells with him. "Now is there anything I can help you with?"
"There is actually," Billy finally said after observing the man for a few moments. "The government requested my help in coming down here and talking to you and the other Mystic Force Rangers about something."
Billy stated this with such matter-of-factness that it made Daggeron raise one black eyebrow in astonishment. "You don't sound as disbelieving as some of the out of town folks I've talked to. For there have been quite a few that believe that the Mystic Force Rangers are nothing, but an elaborate hoax."
Billy turned away and stared out the double front doors which were glass and seemed lost in thought for a moment. Finally when he turned back around to face Daggeron his expression was intently sad. "Maybe because I was a Power Ranger myself years ago," he said responding to Daggeron's earlier statement.
Daggeron's expression turned startled as the combination of Billy's last statement, name and face made something click into place within his brain. Now he knew where he had heard that name and seen that face.
It had been several months ago but Udonna had shown all of them a homemade DVD of all the other Ranger teams that there had been over the last twelve years. She had told them that the disc had arrived mysteriously one day with no return address or name of who had sent it. It had simply been addressed Mystic Force Rangers and the address that of the Rock Porium. Toby, the owner of the store, and friend of the younger Mystic Force Rangers, had contacted Udonna about it without telling the other Rangers and she had come and looked at it on Toby's DVD player that he had in his office.
Daggeron's expression cleared and he shook Billy's hand vigorously. "I know who you are. You were the original Blue Ranger, the very first in a long line of heroes. I am honored to meet you Mr. Cranston."
Billy looked surprised, then pleased. "Thank you, just Billy will do. Mr. Cranston sounds like my father."
"All the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are living legends at least among the Mystic Force."
"We didn't do it to become legends," Billy told him quietly. "We did it because at that time the world needed heroes and still does.
Daggeron nodded agreeing with Billy's statement. "You didn't become a hero, or a legend just because you could; you did it because the world needed you."
"Also might I inquire as to how you and the other Mystic Force Rangers know my identity as the Blue Ranger? We were always very careful about revealing our identities to anyone."
"Why don't you come into my office where we can talk more privately?" Daggeron suggested leading the way. "We have less of a chance of being interrupted that way."
A few moments later they entered a spacious room that had an old fashioned cherrywood desk with various drawers. There were three drawers on each side and one in the middle leaving a space big enough for the legs. It had a raised back where sat various drawers and pigeonholes of different sizes which were used to store letters and bills also in dark wood.
The top of the desk itself was relatively uncluttered with just a big desk calender in the middle, a blotter, pad of paper off to one side and a phone and pencil holder on the other. Also sitting off to one side was a picture Daggeron and what Billy assumed were the other Rangers on the team including an older couple in back one of which had dark hair and beard threaded through with gray. He still looked tall and strong however and capable of wiping the floor with any and all opponents. The other however was a woman about the same age as the man with red hair and blue eyes. She was wearing a long white dress and holding a staff almost as tall as she was with a snowflake on the top of it. Both had one arm around each other the pose practically screaming married. They each had one hand on opposite shoulders of a dark haired boy who looked no more then 20 or 21 at most. Around them were six others, one of whom was Daggeron.
There were several other pictures sitting on the desk as well. There was another one of Daggeron but this time with a dark haired lady with blue eyes and wearing an old fashioned top hat and tuxedo jacket over a white leotard with fishnet stockings. She had a mysterious glint in her eyes although her affection for Daggeron was obvious by the way she had her arm around his shoulders.
The third and final picture was of just Daggeron and the older couple standing in a forest somewhere. The body language of all three suggested that the older couple thought of him like a son and vice versus.
"Have a seat," said Daggeron. "Can I offer you anything to drink?"
"No thanks," said Billy.
"To answer your previous question as to how I know your identity, several months ago a DVD disc arrived at the Rock Porium which is a music store. It was addressed to the Mystic Force. When it was opened and played the entire recorded history of all the Ranger teams is what was on it."
Billy looked startled then thoughtful. "I can guess who sent that disc."
"How?" asked Daggeron.
"Because as far as I know there is only one person who has kind of made a diary out of various footage from different security cams as kind of a history of the Rangers. The only person I know that has done that is Tommy Oliver."
"Ah yes," said Daggeron, the name more instantly recognizable where Billy's had not been. Tommy Oliver was one of the most famous Rangers in history. He had not only been the very first Green Ranger—admittedly evil—but also the white. Both of those had been for the same team. Later he had been leader of the Zeo Rangers and for a while the Turbo before turning over the reins to another. A few years later he had been the Black Ranger of the Dino Thunder Rangers and had finally retired after defeating Mesogog that team's enemy.
Daggeron actually wished he could meet him because from what he knew of him Tommy was a very honorable man who was willing to fight for what he believed in, a very special and rare quality in today's world. He realized that anyone who decided to fight for what they believed in; were honorable as well but Tommy for some reason struck a chord in him.
"You recognize the name I see," commented Billy dryly his blue eyes sparkling with humor despite the dry tone of voice.
"Yes," said Daggeron.
"Well anyway I'm almost positive it was him, although not absolutely sure until I can talk to him. It does sound like something he would do however."
"So you said something earlier about the government sending you?" asked Daggeron finally.
"Yes I did. At first I was reluctant to have anything to do with the government—"
The tone of the other man's voice alerted Daggeron to the fact that Billy apparently had some kind of grievance against the government, what he didn't know, after all he had just met the man.
"So what changed your mind?" asked Daggeron.
"The two FBI agents that came to see me and my wife convinced me that not all the government were a bunch of crooks," said Billy with a careless shrug. "I'd been; wanting to come to Briarwood in any case to meet the Mystic Rangers."
"So I guess this gave you a good excuse," said Daggeron.
"I guess so," said Billy. "Anyway the President would like to start kind of a police force of Rangers. His reasoning is that in the next few years aliens from various planets will start settling here but there will more then likely be a few that want to exploit others whether human or alien. The President wants to plan ahead and start building a Ranger Academy to train anyone who enters to someday be Rangers themselves.
"In other words they will also have to create their own Morphers which will take years," said Daggeron.
"Not necessarily," said Billy. "It has been done at least three times by various people. The first time was by the military who; owned and operated Lightspeed Rescue. The second was by Cam Watanabe of the Ninja Storm Rangers and last but not least by my wife for she is the one the created to Dino Thunder Morphers. I admit it is complicated technology, but it can be done."
"So I see," said Daggeron. "What is it you need the Mystic Force for?"
"The President would like your cooperation and your help. Our current President is a farsighted man and can see trouble looming over the horizon even if it is years in the future. After all evil is never completely gone for it always pops up again in different forms. Just look at how long various teams of Rangers have struggled to make sure Earth stays free? Ourselves included."
"True," Daggeron admitted. "It sounds like you've given this a lot of thought."
"I have thought about it on and off over the years and I'll even admit that sometimes I still miss it, but I also realize I'm older now and being a Ranger was a defining point in my life, but only that. It is a part of my life that is now over. It has outgrown me, or perhaps I have outgrown it."
"You'll always be a Ranger at heart my friend. Once you've been one that kind of thing doesn't just vanish with the powers. It stays in the heart all your life and shows itself when you most need it."
"I know," said Billy. "I know," he repeated more softly. "So what do you about the governments offer?"
"Well I don't know," said Daggeron. "It seems like a solid idea even a good one. Your President seems like a wise man."
"He's your President to," said Billy.
"Technically I suppose," said Daggeron. "Since I live in the Mystic Realm—which is a law unto itself—I don't really consider it my government although I guess I should. Anyway as I said it seems like a good idea. I can definitely see where he's going with this, but why he needs us I still haven't got a clue."
"The President needs you my friend because of the simple fact that you know more about the different species that came from that world full of magic."
"Now I begin to see," said Daggeron. "He wants to know the names of the species, descriptions, what they eat and if they are dangerous to society."
"Precisely, eventually there will have to be laws about aliens as well, not only for if they break it, but protecting their rights as citizens of this planet."
"You see it going that far?" asked Daggeron in surprise.
"Oh yes, Trey predicted that this was going to happen several years ago and the rest of us didn't disagree with him. In fact if I remember correctly it was at the wedding of Tommy and Kim that he made that prediction."
"Trey I don't believe I am familiar with the name," said Daggeron.
"And you wouldn't be," said Billy. "Trey is from a planet known as Triforia. He is the only Ranger on his world. He came to Earth to help out the Zeo Rangers against King Mondo who was our enemy at that time. However because of the interdict against Earth he really wasn't supposed to be here and so asked to be left out of any video footage just in case it fell into the wrong hands."
"So there actually have been aliens on this planet before?"
"Yes, although he is the only one besides Superman that I am aware of," said Billy.
"Whatever happened to this Trey?"
"Oh he went back to Triforia. He still visits Earth from time to time mostly to see Tommy because after all Trey married his sister and Tommy and Chelsea like to see each other occasionally."
"Tommy actually let his sister marry an alien?" asked Daggeron not disapprovingly, but in honest surprise.
"It's not like he could have prevented her even if he had wanted to. Chelsea is a very strong-willed individual, a lot like him actually. To be perfectly honest however all of us liked Trey, but Tommy especially, so he didn't really object when they started dating and was even happy when Trey asked for her hand in marriage. Tommy was only to glad to grant his request for he knew Trey to be an honorable man who would treat his sister right."
"And all of this going on right under the government's very nose," said Daggeron sounding ironic.
"True but that same government doesn't need to know everything," said Billy. "After all it isn't a dictatorship and besides would the government have believed in aliens that long ago? Until last year most of the human race believed that they were the only intelligent life in the galaxy. A very few people might have known or suspected differently, but it would have been a very small percentage."
"Very true, anybody who mentioned seeing aliens to the government would have been considered a crackpot at best and insane at worst," Daggeron admitted. He might live in the Mystic Realm but that didn't mean he wasn't aware of the way the world worked and of human nature. "Well I'll tell the others about the government wanting to create a Rangers police force. I'm not sure what their response will be."
Actually that wasn't entirely true. He could pretty much predict Leanbow's response. If Daggeron knew his friend, Leanbow would be cautiously for it providing that they got someone who was honorable, brave, and a warrior. Someone who held honor as so much a part of them that it wouldn't be possible for whoever it was to misuse the Rangers created for their own ends. He felt the same actually. That kind of technology had great potential for misuse if led by someone corrupt. On the other hand it could also be used for great good if the right person led them. The power after all was neither good, nor evil and could be used for either and had been in the past.
"It was an honor meeting you, my friend," said Daggeron, shaking Billy's hand again. "Where can I reach you after I have talked to Leanbow and Udonna about this?"
"Hayley and I are staying at a hotel for the next few days," said Billy giving Daggeron the number of the hotel as well as the room extension. "I hope we can stay friends," said Billy. "Even if the others don't agree too help the government."
"That is my hope as well," said Daggeron. "Friendship I have found is a rare gift to never be taken lightly for it is too precious for that."
"Yes, I agree," said Billy softly his eyes going distant as if remembering something that had happened a long time ago. "I hope to hear from you soon," he finally said, his eyes returning to normal as he pushed back the memories and barricaded them away again.
Billy finally turned away and headed out of the office and out of the building.
The next day
The telephone in the hotel room where the Cranstons' were staying, rung. On no more than the third ring, Billy picked it up. "Hello?"
"Billy? This is Daggeron."
"Ah, I was wondering when you were going to call."
"Well, I didn't want to call too early."
Billy looked at the bedside clock and noticed the time had just turned from 8:01 a.m. to 8:02.
"Anyway, I have a proposition for you."
"How would you like to meet Leanbow and Udonna?"
"I'd love to," said Billy. "Is it okay if I bring my wife?"
"Sure, meet me outside my business in say an hour?"
"Okay, we'll be there."
Billy put down the phone only to find Hayley standing in the bathroom door with a towel draped over her breasts and her hair also wrapped.
"Who was that?" she asked.
"Daggeron," said Billy. "He wants us to meet him in an hour."
"An hour?" asked Hayley starting to move frantically around the room, throwing both towels into the bathroom and flinging open her suitcase.
"There's no need to rush, honey, or to get all dressed up. This isn't a formal dinner party."
"Billy," said Hayley, not turning around. "If I want to make a good impression, I must get ready. Why don't you go down and have a cup of coffee or something. I'll meet you in a half an hour."
Billy sighed, knowing when he was being dismissed, so he turned and left the room, making sure the room door was closed behind him.
A little over half an hour later, Billy and Hayley arrived in front of the renovated warehouse that was the home of Daggeron's business which by all accounts was booming. Billy opened the door and ushered his wife inside and then headed back in the direction of Daggeron's office.
"Ah, Billy, come in," said Daggeron who immediately rose to his feet when he saw who he assumed was Billy's wife Hayley beside him. "And you must be Hayley. Billy has told me of you. It's nice to meet you."
"It's nice to meet you too," said Hayley, shaking Daggeron's hand.
After a few minutes of pleasantries, Billy asked "You said something about meeting your friends?"
"Yes, Leanbow and his wife Udonna. Leanbow is the one that trained me in knighthood. He taught me how to fight, and not only fight, but fight with honor and also about loyalty and friendship."
"All three of those are good values to learn," said Hayley.
"Anyway if you'll follow me I'll take you to where Leanbow and Udonna are waiting to meet you." Daggeron rose from his chair and headed out the side door, which was just off to the side of his desk in his office. "Leanbow asked that you meet them in their home, which is in the Mystic Realm."
Billy and Hayley looked at each other then Billy shrugged. Billy only hoped he wasn't making a mistake.
Daggeron understood their apprehension for his two guests were getting ready to walk into an unknown situation and as such it could be dangerous. Of course that wasn't the case on this occasion, but they didn't know that. For all they knew Daggeron could be leading them into a trap where they could be killed.
"We'll drive. The woods where they live are outside of town."
All three got into Billy's car, Daggeron riding shotgun while he gave Billy directions.
Within half an hour they reached the edge of the forest that led into the Mystic Realm.
"From here we'll have to walk," said Daggeron.
"How far is it?" asked Hayley.
"Not far," said Daggeron, as he led them into the forest. Within minutes of entering all three passed through some kind of barrier for Billy could feel it tingling against his skin. As soon as they passed it they entered a totally different world. Even the trees changed and the sky grew dimmer almost as if the trees became draped in a perpetual twilight. Hayley to noticed the difference and immediately tried to come up with a logical explanation. She had seen many things in her life, things most people would find hard, if not impossible to accept, but none of them were as hard to accept as magic, at least for her.
She had been raised to think and to only believe in things she could see or touch. When she had heard of the Power Rangers for the first time, over fifteen years ago now, she had figured they were nothing more then an elaborate hoax. She had kept seeing reports over an almost three year period and she'd became convinced, that though it seemed impossible, the Power Rangers were real. She immediately set out to find out who they were out of costume. It took her a while, well over two years, because at that time the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers had ceased to exist and the Zeo Rangers had taken their place.
She had been surprised to discover that all of them were around her own age. She had been a whiz with computers even back them and had almost been able to find out anything she wanted and she had finally succeeded, after corroborating reports, sightings and figuring out what six people were always absent when the Power Rangers appeared.
She had decided to keep their secret for she saw no reason to reveal their identities when they had done so much good for the world.
Seven or eight years later she had gone to college and there she had actually met one of them for Tommy was also getting his degree. She remembered being of two minds as to whether to tell him she knew he had been a Power Ranger or whether to say nothing at all.
Within months the decision was made for her when Tommy showed her the gems he had found in an archeological dig he had been at during the summer. She had been able to practically feel the power radiating of them and had known instantly that they must be something special. Under normal circumstances she didn't believe in magic, but the gems in Tommy's hands made her think that maybe magic was real.
At that point Tommy looked as if he was struggling with himself as to whether or not to tell her something. She immediately guessed what it was and brusquely informed him she already knew. He had looked shocked she remembered with an inner smile. He had then asked her how long she had known and how she had found out after he had gotten over his shock significantly.
She had told him and he had sighed in resignation and had asked if she had told anyone. She had told him no and that she wasn't planning to. If she remembered her exact words, it was something along the lines of: You and your friends have done a lot of good for the world. You've given a whole world hope and something good and decent for people to believe in. Why would I want to ruin that?
He had stared at her hard for a few minutes then held out his hand with in of the gems in it and told her he thought they had power and could be used to create Power Rangers if it ever became necessary.
In order to do that however, he needed three Morphers and he just didn't have the ability to create something that complicated, but she did.
She was as smart as Billy, he had told her. Smart enough to create Morphers to activate the gems powers.
She had blushed she remembered and had agreed to give it a try. That had been the beginning of not only a deeper friendship then had already existed between them, but a trust that hadn't been there before.
"Here we are," said Daggeron jerking Hayley out of her memories.
Hayley looked straight ahead and saw what looked like some kind of prehistoric dinosaurs head and neck that led into a humongous tree. The tree was a giant of its kind for it towered far above the others like some kind of guardian. The tree looked like it had been hollowed out and had openings on every level.
Daggeron entered the head of whatever prehistoric beast it was gesturing for the other two to follow him.
"Welcome to Rootcore," said Daggeron as they entered the room that was at the end of the tunnel.
Both Billy and Hayley looked around and saw a real nice living area that appeared to be a combination living room/study/kitchen. On a long table at one end of the room was what appeared to be a large tome, the kind that was bound in leather. It looked ancient, possibly centuries old. The cover was a faded brown and the words on the front were in gold and said: Xenotome: Book of the Unknown.
"Why don't you take a seat, while I go find Leanbow and Udonna? I won't be but a minute," said Daggeron disappearing into a doorway as soon as Billy and Hayley were settled.
Less then a minute later Daggeron reentered the room and older man and woman following. Billy assumed this was Leanbow and his wife Udonna.
The older couple was a handsome pair. Leanbow with his dark hair and beard both streaked with gray, a tanned face with kind dark eyes and callous' on his hands, which told Billy he was looking at a man who was used to using his hands for holding a weapon, probably a sword.
The woman however had red hair without any gray, blue eyes and hands that were free of callous'. Something told Billy however that despite her look of delicacy she was a warrior all the same. If there was one thing Billy had learned it was that looks could be deceiving.
"Welcome to our home," said Leanbow in his deep voice.
"We are very honored to meet both of you," Udonna added.
"Daggeron has told us the reason for your visit," said Leanbow.
Yes, I admit that was my original reason for coming up here," said Billy. "Although, I've been wanting too come to Briarwood, for sometime."
Billy smiled and there was something so open and honest about the expression that it made anybody immediately want to trust him. And it wasn't that Leanbow didn't trust Billy for he had been a Power Ranger after all, but trust also had to be earned.
"Can I offer either of you something to drink?" asked Udonna after a few minutes.
"No thanks," said Hayley and Billy just shook his head.
There was an awkward silence for a moment until Leanbow decided to relax. After all Billy meant them no harm as far as he could tell, but after his experience as Koragg he didn't trust people as easily as he used to. He had had a feeling however, that he could trust the young couple sitting in front of him. He did not know why he had this feeling, but he did and therefore he should trust his own instincts. Something about Billy, especially struck a chord in him for in many ways they were similar. It was true he was older, but they had both been Power Rangers and both had seen many things in their years, and both were warriors. Different types of warriors true, but that didn't matter if you fought for the same thing, and that was evil in all its forms.
"So what do you think of the governments idea?" asked Billy finally.
"The principal of what they want to do is a fine idea," said Leanbow approvingly.
"But?" asked Hayley when Leanbow paused.
"My main worry is who will they get to be in charge? You need someone honest, brave, a true warrior. Someone who will not misuse the Rangers for their own evil ends. If that happened a team of Rangers could cause a lot of damage if they went bad."
"This is true," Billy admitted. "And don't think it hasn't occurred to me in the past. A team of Ranges is a powerful resource. Zordon used to tell the original Rangers horror stories about teams of Rangers, on other planets, who went bad." Billy shuddered, "Not pleasant stories he told."
"They probably weren't meant to be," said Leanbow.
"I know," said Billy. "Those stories were meant to keep us on the straight and narrow. Not that any of us would ever have considered going bad and using our powers for anything other then the good of the world."
"So tell us a little about yourself," said Leanbow.
Billy shrugged and said, "There's not that much to tell. My mother died when I was no more then five or six, so it was just my dad and me growing up. My genius was recognized early and I was put into an accelerated genius program. When I was older I started going to public school. Until I did I never had many friends, except for Trini. I was always picked on and bullied by the two local tough guys Bulk and Skull. Then one day I met Jason. I remember I was backed into a corner by those very same bullies when this brown and red blur seemed to come out of nowhere and told them to back off. Bulk and Skull were afraid of Jason, even back then, for he was known for protecting those who couldn't defend themselves. Afterwards Jason took me under his wing and through him I met Zack, and Kimberly. We all became friends. Good friends, the kind who would defend each other. When we got older we were chosen to be Power Rangers, perhaps because we already were such good friends."
Billy fell silent his brief recount of his history at an end.
Leanbow, Udonna and Daggeron all listened as Billy told a synopsis of his history and all three silently sympathized with him for it was no fun to be picked on just for being different.
"If I could find someone that I think would work do you want me to bring them here?" asked Billy suddenly.
"That might not be a bad idea," said Daggeron looking at Leanbow and Udonna for confirmation.
"Yes, here in our home is probably the best choice. If we met anywhere in Briarwood there would be a good chance of being overheard."
"Not to mention that ever since we defeated the Master and the Mystic Realm began mixing with the human one, our identities are well known and reporters are always looking for a story. I think it's best if we do this as discreetly as possible."
"Yes, that's best," Billy agreed. "I'm just glad that the original Rangers managed to keep their identities secret. I for one am not sure I could deal with reporters' everyday for the rest of my life. I like my privacy and I wouldn't have that if the world knew the original Rangers identities. At least you have this realm to retreat to if reporters start bothering you."
"This is very true," Udonna admitted. "For a while I couldn't even go visit my son at the Rock Porium, where he works, without being mobbed the second I stepped out into the human world. That's mostly died down now, but not completely. I very rarely go out into the human world and if I do I go in disguise."
"Probably smart," Billy admitted. "Anyway Hayley and I must be going. Kim and Tommy invited us over for dinner."
"And Kim tends to get upset if you're late," Hayley added.
"That would be the Kim and Tommy that were both Power Rangers?" asked Daggeron.
"Yes, it would," said Billy. "They got married about three years ago, and started a family of their own."
"They have a little girl, Alicia by name. She's the cutest little thing," said Hayley. "We must be going however. I hope we'll see each other again sometime soon."
"And I hope we can be friends," Billy added.
"Friends are always welcome," said Leanbow. "And I think we would all like that as well. You and Hayley are welcome back here anytime."
"Thanks," said Billy.
"Oh, Billy, before you go I have a question for you," said Udonna as Billy and Hayley rose to go.
"Yes ma'am?" asked Billy turning back towards the three Mystic Force Rangers.
"I meant to ask you, if you had a choice would you want to be a Power Ranger again?"
Billy stared for a moment then said simply, "In a heartbeat, but that's simply not possible."
"I wouldn't say that," said Udonna thoughtfully.
"Udonna what do you mean?" asked Leanbow looking at his wife, surprise in his dark eyes.
"Just that I might be able too recharge his old source of power. Nothing is for certain of course. I can't guarantee it will work, but we'll never know unless we try."
"Would you be willing to do that?" asked Billy, his blue eyes beginning to shine in a way that Hayley had only seen a few times before, usually when he had been working on some new project.
"Billy," began Hayley cautiously.
"I know it's one of your dreams to be a Ranger again—" Hayley sighed and gave up when she saw Billy wasn't paying any attention to her. They would be having words later of that she was sure, but for now she would let it rest.
"I would," said Udonna. "That is assuming you still have your old power source and that it used magic as its main source of power."
"The original power coins did actually," said Billy. "The Zeo crystals didn't, but the coins did."
"Then it might be possible. Do you have the coin with you?"
"I do," said Billy. "I know it no longer has enough power to transform me, but I carry it around as a kind of good luck piece." Billy then put his hand in his back pocket and drew out a gold coin with a picture of a triceratops head carved on one side. The coin looked like nothing more then an unusual gold piece, perhaps found on some ancient galleon that had sunk a hundred years ago. He handed it to Udonna and she as well as Leanbow, and Daggeron studied it.
"What kind of dinosaur is that?" asked Udonna.
"Triceratops," Billy told her. "Triceratops was also my Zord." Billy smiled nostalgically.
"I'm assuming you had some kind of Morpher to make this work?" asked Daggeron.
"Of course," said Billy. "I still have it at home, but the truth of the matter of that a gold coin is a lot less suspicious then if I carried a Morpher everywhere and someone saw it and recognized it for what it was."
Leanbow looked up from where he had been studying the coin and nodded in agreement with Billy's words. What the former Blue Ranger said was true. Just a gold coin, unusual though it was, was no proof that, that person was a Power Ranger. Add a Morpher to that, however, and anybody who paid attention to the news reports about the Rangers and knew what it was—well that was kind of a dead giveaway to a Rangers identity, even a former one.
Bad news if that person was unscrupulous.
Udonna handed Billy back his power coin, which he then slipped back into his back pants pocket.
"Why don't you come back in a few days? I need time to study the Xenotome."
"Ok," said Billy.
"When you do come back make sure you bring your Morpher as well as the power coin with you."
"I will," promised Billy turning to leave.
"Daggeron would you please escort our guests back to Briarwood," said Leanbow.
"It will be a pleasure," said Daggeron.
"Take them through the shortcut," said Udonna.
Daggeron blinked in surprise then nodded.
"Wait? Shortcut?" asked Hayley. "Why didn't we just use that to get here?"
Daggeron shrugged and said, "Not many people can use the shortcut. That Udonna thinks you can speaks well of you."
"Why can't many people use this shortcut?" asked Hayley.
"Because for one thing it takes a belief in magic. You'll see what I mean in a minute."
Daggeron led them outside and paused at a tree. "Now all you have to do is think of the place you left your car, then step into the tree. If you truly believe in magic then any tree is this forest is a passageway to anywhere you want to go in Briarwood. The tree outside the Rock Porium is the one most commonly used since that is where the other Mystic Force Rangers work, but really any tree will do."
Hayley looked at her husband then at Daggeron. She was still a little skeptical of magic, but not as much as she used to be.
Billy, however, looked positively delighted and stepped into the tree without hesitation. He immediately vanished. Hayley hesitated for a minute then followed, Daggeron coming last of all.
All three reappeared within moments out of another tree right where Billy's car was parked.
"Wow, what a rush," said Billy looking as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. Hayley too looked excited for nothing could have made the trees take them from just outside of Rootcore to their car in less then a minute, except magic. No technology she knew could do it.
"When we get back to Briarwood would you mind dropping me off at my business?"
"Not at all," said Billy.
"Will I see you again?"
"Of course," said Billy. "Briarwood isn't that far from Reefside. I'll be up here as often as I can manage."
"I'm sure from now on I'll have trouble getting him to stay home," said Hayley dryly, only half jokingly. "He'll spend all his time down there if I let him."
"Hayley," Billy protested blushing in embarrassment at his wife's words even though he knew them to be true.
He would spend every spare minute he had in this town studying the different lifeforms and getting to know all the Mystic Force Rangers better.
Daggeron noticed Billy blushing in the rearview mirror and assumed that Hayley was right on the money about what her husband would do.
Billy and Hayley were an interesting couple. There was a certain silent interaction going on between them that Daggeron assumed had to do with the fact that they were married. Both of them were smart, geniuses really, and yet unlike a lot of smart people they were also well grounded in humanity.
A lot of geniuses go so focused on their work that they forgot humanity even existed. Either that or they didn't have any social skills to begin with. But Billy and Hayley had both and were genuinely nice people.
No more then five minutes later Billy stopped in front of the warehouse that was Daggeron's business. Daggeron got out of the car after shaking Billy's then Hayley's hands and said, "Until we meet again my friends."
"Until we meet again," said Billy as Daggeron stepped back on to the curb. "I'll see you in a few days.
"Perhaps next time you can meet the other Mystic Force Rangers."
"I would like that," said Billy. "I'm looking forward to meeting them to."
"I know that will all be disappointed that they missed you, especially Chip."
I'll make sure to see them the next time I am here," said Billy. "Later Daggeron."
"Later," said Daggeron as he disappeared inside the warehouse.
"Billy," Hayley began. Billy and Hayley were at their home in Reefside and it was the day after they had come back from Briarwood and seeing the Mystic Force Rangers. They had gotten back to Reefside just barely in time for their dinner with Tommy and Kimberly and their evening had been spent in pleasant company.
Billy looked up from what he was doing when he noticed his wife's tone. He instantly knew there was an argument brewing, when he saw her expression. Billy sighed soundlessly and thought silently, I should have known this was coming.
He had instinctively known that Hayley wasn't happy when Udonna had mentioned the possibility of recharging his old power coin, and from the looks of it she had held her peace long enough
"Hayley," Billy began turning to face her. "I know what you're going to say."
"Do you now?" asked Hayley her voice dripping sarcasm.
"I do," said Billy calmly, which had the effect of dissipating a lot of Hayley's anger. "I know you're concerned that this if this does work and Udonna does manage to recharge my old power coin that I will be hurt or killed while fighting some evil. You are probably also worried that I will become so consumed at being a Power Ranger again that I will forget all about you."
Hayley's expression of anger crumpled at Billy's quiet words and tears formed in the corners of her eyes. How had he known her exact fears and worries?
"Hayley?" said Billy coming closer and giving her a hug. "I would never forget the woman I love, the woman I married."
"But what if you're hurt during a battle? I mean you're not as young as you were when you originally became a Power Ranger. You haven't fought in a battle in thirteen years and your reflexes more then likely aren't as fast as they were. If anything happened to you—"
"Nothing will," Billy tried to comfort his wife.
"You don't know that," said Hayley.
"No, you're right I don't know, not really. But Hayley think about it, I could die tomorrow in a care accident, be hit by a bus, be shot, stabbed, or mugged. Life itself is not safe and at least if I die in a battle, I die knowing I made a difference."
Hayley turned her back on her husband and was quiet for a long time.
"Hayley if you don't want me to do this, then I won't," Billy told her taking out his power coin and fingering the engraving sadly.
"You'd do that for me?" Hayley asked turning back to face Billy her expression one of shock.
"Yes, yes I would," Billy told her taking her gently by the shoulders. "I'd do it because I love you. If me being a Power Ranger again worries you that much then I'll forget about it."
"I won't ask that of you," Hayley told him. "I know if I did, you would eventually become resentful of me for denying you this opportunity and I love you to much to let that happen. Just promise me one thing."
"What's that?" asked Billy.
"That you'll be careful if you do fight in a battle."
"I promise," said Billy giving her a kiss.
"All right then, I suppose we had better prepare to go back to Briarwood."
"Thanks for this," said Billy.
"What can I say, except I love you and sometimes loving someone means letting them fulfill their dreams and giving them your support," said Hayley.
Billy didn't respond and both of them just stood their quietly for a long time each lost in their own little world and in each other.
A few days later
Billy and Hayley were back again in Briarwood. They had called Daggeron to make sure they weren't coming at a bad time. Daggeron had assured them it was fine and to come anytime they wanted, so here they were back in Briarwood at the warehouse where Daggeron's business was located.
Both entered the warehouse where Daggeron had his business and immediately headed back to Daggeron's office where they were to meet the other Mystic Force Rangers. Daggeron had arranged everything including coming up with the idea to meet in his office to ensure the group's privacy.
"Are you ready?" Hayley asked her husband softly. She knew he had been looking forward to meeting the younger Mystic Force Rangers, perhaps because they were closer to him in age when they had became Power Rangers.
"Yes," Billy answered just as softly. "I'm as ready as I'll ever be." Hayley grabbed her husband's hand and squeezed it gently in comfort then together they entered Daggeron's office.
Five young people instantly turned their way and Daggeron rose from behind his desk and said, "Welcome Billy, Hayley. May I introduce the other Mystic Force Rangers? Nick Russell, the Red Ranger, whose power is fire. Chip Thorn, the Yellow Ranger, whose power is lightning. Madison and Vida Rocca. Vida is the Pink Ranger and her power is the wind. Madison is the Blue Ranger and her power is water. Finally this is Xander Bly whose Power is Earth. Guys this is Billy and Hayley Cranston. Billy was the very first Blue Ranger that was chosen to defend our world from destruction."
"It's a pleasure to meet another group of Rangers," said Billy quietly.
"It's an honor to meet you," said Chip excitedly.
Billy smiled and when he did it had just a tinge of sadness to it, at Chip's excitement.
"It's an honor to meet you all as well," said Billy. "I have kept track of all fights from the very first time I heard of you."
"Why would you do that?" asked Nick, curiously.
Billy shrugged, "It was my way of keeping alive the part of me that was a Ranger, so long ago. I, as well as the other original Rangers; were only fourteen when we were chosen to defend our world from the likes of Rita Repulsa and her goons. When we lost our powers, well it hurt us, in more ways then one."
"What do you mean?" asked Xander.
"Well, I can only tell you how I felt, but I gave up my chance to be a Zeo Ranger to Tanya, because there were only five Zeo Crystals and there were six of us, but when I did I realized how much being a Ranger meant to me. Then I gave up the opportunity. I was still a member of the team, just not as a Power Ranger. I mostly hung out in the Power Chamber helping to fix whatever equipment broke down and keeping in contact with the others through the communications equipment. I didn't realize it at the time, but I began to distance myself from the others staying mostly to myself. As for the others they were so busy fighting the Machine Empire that they didn't notice until I was so far removed from them that there was nothing they could do."
"What happened?" asked Madison.
"I ended up going to Aquitar with an old friend to help them out with a problem they were having. While I was there I had plenty of time to think, and to realize I missed my friends, and that I hadn't exactly been nice to them, so I had the Aquitarians transport me home. Once back on Earth I did my best to mend my fences so to speak."
The room was silent as the other Rangers tried to absorb Billy's explanation.
"So," said Vida finally after along silence. "I heard Udonna was going to try to recharge your old power coin. Is that true?"
"It is," said Billy. "Udonna has promised to try to recharge my old power coin, with an emphasis on 'try.' She's not sure it will work, and she also said it could be dangerous for me."
"Why?" asked Nick.
"Because none of us is sure that the original magic used in the coins creation is compatible with Udonna's. Two non-compatible forms of magic could be explosive—literally."
"But you are willing to take a chance like that, why?" asked Madison. "I mean you said it yourself, it could dangerous for you."
"I don't know how to explain it," said Billy. "But I will try. When I gave up my powers to Tanya thirteen years ago, as I said earlier, I never realized how much I would miss it. So when Udonna offered to try to recharge my old power coin I jumped at the chance to be a part of something bigger again."
"So if it works what do you intend to do?" asked Xander.
"I don't know I haven't really had time to think about it. If it does work then we'll see, until then I prefer not to dwell on it."
"You know as a kid I used to watch the news just so I could catch reports that mentioned the original Power Rangers. I was fascinated by the reports of your battles even back then and dreamed of becoming a Power Ranger someday," said Chip suddenly. "Back then, I thought it was great to be able to fight off such powerful evil and actually win. Now that I'm older and I've been one, I also realize it's a big responsibility."
"It is that," Billy agreed. "I remember me and the others would try to relax and have fun in between battles, but no matter what we were during Rita or Zedd always interfered with some kind of monster. We could be having a picnic, or we could be scuba diving, or even just spending time at the Youth Center drinking Ernie's famous fruit shakes and sooner or later, usually sooner, we were always called to fight some monster."
"There's duty, then there's pleasure," said Daggeron, speaking for the first time since he had introduced everybody.
"And duty always come first," Billy finished. "All of us learned that lesson very early. If we hadn't Angel Grove would have been destroyed, then the world."
"Duty always come first," Daggeron repeated.
"We know," said Nick quietly, remembering what had happened when they had wanted to take the easy way out. Because of their pushing Daggeron to use Jenji, a powerful genie, because they were tired if fighting, their enemies had captured him and used their one wish to wish that there had never been any Mystic Force Rangers. Because of that wish, dark magic had overtaken Briarwood. It had taken an unanimous decision by the council of magic to reverse what had been caused by their carelessness. In order to get that wish reversed they had, had to go and find the council and then prove they were still willing to fight for their world, even without their Ranger powers, or their magic. In the end it had turned out all right, but never again would they take their duty for granted after their experiences.
Nick looked at the others and saw they to were remembering the experiences,
Billy and Hayley instantly noticed how quiet all of the younger Mystic Rangers had become and sensed they were remembering some bad experience. Something that had happened to all of them as Rangers.
Daggeron looked at all the younger Rangers, not only his students, but his friends and realized that all of them were more then likely remembering what had happened when they had asked him to use Jenji at the wrong time. As a result Jenji had been captured by the same evil they were fighting and that evil had used Jenji, a powerful genie to wish the Ranger had never been created. As a direct result of that dark wish all of Briarwood had been over taken by darkness, Udonna and Clare lost hope, Rootcore had been destroyed, he and Jenji had never been freed from their imprisonment in that cave and he had never been turned from a frog back into a human. As for Briarwood all of the people in it had been made slaves.
After that all the younger Rangers had learned that sometimes the easiest way was not the best and that hard work had its own rewards.
They had all learned that lesson well and he was quite proud of all of them, but he only told them so on rare occasions so it wouldn't go to their heads.
"There was a time when we got lazy," Vida admitted to Billy and Hayley quietly.
"We were tired of fighting," added Xander. "We hadn't been born in a time of warriors after all. Until we became Power Rangers we were just your normal teenagers, well except for Chip."
"And because of us being lazy it very nearly got the world destroyed," added Nick.
"I have a genie, named Jenji," Daggeron explained. "I blame myself, as much as them. I gave into their wishes to use him to fight our enemies and as a result he was captured. You have to understand whoever gets ahold of Jenji's lamp and rubs it gets one wish. No matter what that wish might be Jenji has no choice, but to grant it. Our enemies used that one wish to wish that the Mystic Force Rangers had never been created."
"What happened?" asked Hayley before Billy could.
"We had to go to the Council of Magic. They were the only ones that could reverse the dark wish," said Nick.
"It was a dangerous journey in the extreme," added Madison.
"But we made it," added Xander.
"When we got there they didn't reverse it and sent us back to the evil city Briarwood had become."
"But, when they saw we were willing to fight to protect the city even without our magic or our Ranger powers they reversed the dark wish," said Vida.
"If they hadn't reversed it we wouldn't be here," added Chip. "Seeing as the vampire Necrolai had us cornered."
"Without our powers we didn't have a chance of fighting her and winning for she was a powerful enemy," said Nick.
"So if you live, you learn," said Vida, seriously.
"I've had experiences with magic myself," said Billy. "Not with genies, but with other magic. Most of those experiences weren't good, so I know what you mean."
"Like what?" asked Chip excitedly, really wanting to hear some of the stories he was sure the former Blue Ranger had to tell.
"Well," said Billy his eyes going distant as he remembered. "Like the time Trini's cousin Sylvia was turned into a cardboard cutout, or the time all the citizens of Angel Grove were transported to another dimension until I, and the other Rangers were the only ones left. We had to defeat an especially powerful monster in order for the spell to be broken. Or the time all the Rangers lost their memories, again due to another of Zedd's monsters. We barely remembered our names much less being Power Rangers, I could tell you dozens of stories, but we'll have to save it for another time. I wanted to meet you before Hayley, and I, head too Rootcore so Udonna can try and recharge my old power coin."
The other Rangers groaned in disappointment and Billy smiled an expression that lighted up his whole face. "Don't look so disappointed, I'll be back in a few days as for after that I'll be back for visits. Reefside is not all that far away from Briarwood, just an hour or two by car, but as for today we really must be going."
"You'll see both of us again, and if any of you want to come visit us in Reefside, you're more then welcome to," added Hayley.
After another round of goodbyes Billy and Hayley both shook Daggeron's hand then walked out of the building disappearing out the front door.
Billy parked the car outside the Rock Porium and both of them got out and approached the tree that stood right across from the paved road from the building.
They both entered the tree holding hands thinking of Rootcore and instantly vanished, to reappear right outside the former headquarters of the Mystic Force Rangers.
"Anyone home?" called Billy onto the open dragon's head.
"Come on in," called the voice of Leanbow. "I've been expecting you."
The Cranstons entered the dragon's head and within moments were in the main living area of Rootcore
"Welcome back to our home," said Leanbow.
"Thanks we appreciate your hospitality," said Hayley.
"It's no problem, good folks will always be welcome within these walls," said Leanbow, solemnly. "Why don't you take a seat, Udonna should be back shortly. She went to gather some herbs."
"I really liked meeting the other Mystic Force Rangers just a few minutes ago," said Billy.
"They really were looking forward to meeting you. I don't think I've ever seen my son so, excited as he was the other day. And Chip practically glowed when he found out he was going to meet one of the original Rangers. Daggeron's training him to be a knight, you know. In fact, it won't be to long before his training is complete."
The pride in Leanbow's voice was obvious and both Billy and Hayley assumed he was proud of both Daggeron and Chip. As for Billy he reasoned a step further. He assumed that Daggeron, was a former student of Leanbow's, and since he was the one training Chip to follow in both his former mentor's footsteps and his own, that was the reason Leanbow was proud. Of course he was just speculating.
Suddenly they all heard footsteps and within moments Udonna appeared. "Hi Billy, Hayley," said Udonna as soon as she saw them.
"Get the herbs you need?" asked Leanbow.
"Yes, and I also stopped in to see Bowen, briefly."
"Bowen?" Billy questioned.
"You know him as Nick," said Leanbow. "During the Great Battle Daggeron was taking him to safety when he was attacked by a former student of mine, Calindor."
"I thought for sure Bowen had been killed," Udonna added. "As well as Daggeron, but then nineteen years later Nick came to Briarwood to stay with his grandparents and became a Mystic Force Ranger. Almost a year later I discovered he was my son, the one I had thought lost forever. We found out we had Phineas to thank for his salvation. Phineas is a troblin, which means he is half troll and half goblin. Anyway he saw the battle between Daggeron and Calindor and rescued our son, taking him to the human world, knowing with battle raging in the woods there was no way he could look after a baby himself.
"I will always be in Phineas debt for what he did. If not for him Bowen would like be dead. How is our son anyway?" Leanbow asked again.
"He's fine, as are the others," said Udonna. "He's promised to come to dinner and to try and visit more often then he had been lately. He knows we don't go out into the human world very often."
Leanbow seemed satisfied with this response for even though he wouldn't admit it he missed his son. He realized however that Bowen had his own life to lead and also a girlfriend, for Bowen and the Blue Ranger Madison were dating. Leanbow approved for he liked the spirited Blue Ranger a great deal.
"So," said Udonna. "You ready to give recharging your power coin a try?"
Billy looked apprehensive, but nodded all the same and said, "I am."
"You realize this could be dangerous?"
"Yes," said Billy. "Hayley and I have argued about how dangerous this could be for me, but the truth of the matter is that life itself is dangerous. I mean I could be shot, stabbed, mugged, or run over by a car. There are a hundred different ways to be killed. No one knows how much time they have. For all I know I could die tomorrow, or next year, or not for the next fifty, but at least if I do die, I'd die knowing I was making a difference."
Both Leanbow and Udonna looked approving for not many people had that kind of forethought. Most just went through life, living from day to day not thinking beyond that.
It was a very rare trait for someone to think beyond themselves and about other people. Leanbow understood better then anyone what it meant to put your life on the line, not only for your family and friends, but total strangers. He had done so more then twenty years ago during the Great Battle and he had done it not only to protect his own world, but the human one as well.
"Very well, then I am willing to use my magic to try and recharge your power coin," said Udonna, solemnly. "I can't promise it will work—"
"—but all you can do is try you best. There are no guarantees in this life so all you can do, is do the best you can," Billy finished quietly, his face so serious and solemn that Hayley began to realize just how important this was to the man she loved. She had always known, at least in her head that part of Billy, the part that had been a Power Ranger, was a part of himself that he kept locked away. If he didn't the memories of being a hero, of saving the world, and of protecting the innocent would slowly make him a bitter man.
In her head she had known this, but as for her heart, well it was beginning to realize how important this was to her husband. That if she didn't allow him to do this then he would slowly begin to resent her for denying him the opportunity to make a difference again. Too be a hero.
A few minutes later
Are you sure about this?" asked Billy who looked nervous as he watched Udonna prepare to try to recharge his power coin.
He had kept his old Morpher and coin for sentimental reasons mostly, just as the other original Rangers had but now was a chance he had never hoped to have again—a chance to be a Power Ranger again.
"As I said a few days ago nothing is for certain," Udonna told him not looking up from where she was reading the Xenotome. "I'm almost positive I can recharge it, but not absolutely sure."
All this time Hayley remained silent for she had already tried to talk Billy out of this and failed. Oh, she knew Billy loved her with all his heart just like she loved him, but being a Power Ranger again if it was at all possible was one of those dreams that her husband had never forgotten even after more then a decade.
Udonna finally looked up and asked, "Can I see that power coin?"
Billy handed over the gold coin with the triceratops head on it after rubbing a thumb over the engraving for good luck.
Udonna took it then turned back to the table. She placed the coin on the table and stepped back a little raising her staff. She muttered something that neither; Billy nor Hayley understood and white energy shot out of the top of the staff to wrap around the coin encasing it in a light so pure that it was impossible to see the coin itself. The light seemed to last forever, but when it finally faded Udonna slumped and would have fallen if Leanbow hadn't been there to catch her.
After a few minutes Udonna was able to stand on her own although she still looked tired. Udonna went to the table, picked up the coin and held it for a moment feeling the energy within it crackling across its surface. She handed it to Billy with a word of warning. "You do realize this could very well be dangerous? The magic I used to charge it with is a different sort then what was originally used in its creation. It might very well backfire, or even kill you for I am not sure the two magics are completely, if at all, compatible."
Billy held the coin for a moment as if considering, then withdrew his old Morpher from his pants pocket and put the coin into its slot. It snapped into place with a click that sounded loud as if destiny had once again come knocking at his door.
"You all might want to stand back. I wouldn't want anybody injured on my account."
Everyone but Hayley took several large steps backwards.
"Hayley—" Billy began but she just shook her head and said, "I'm not moving so don't even say it."
Billy sighed and didn't argue with her knowing she could be extremely stubborn when she wanted to be.
There was a bright flash of light, much brighter then the original power coin had ever given off when activated. When it vanished there before them was a Power Ranger.
The costume however, although similar in many ways to the old armor was also different. For one thing it now had a cape attached to the back that was the same blue as the rest on the outside while the underside was white. The cape had silver designs embroidered around the edges, which was also the case on the rest of the armor. On the side of the legs starting at the top of the boots were silver streaks that went all the way up to disappear under the shield that came about halfway down the chest and then went up to encase the neck. There was also a silver belt at waist level and a helmet that was reminiscent of the old one, except that instead of a triceratops horn he had what looked like a paw print also in silver in the middle right above the visor. As for the visor itself it looked like a pair of wolf ears.
"Billy?" Hayley questioned, anxiously.
"Yes, Hayley," came Billy voice from underneath the helmet. Billy lifted his hands, which were sheathed in white gloves with blue diamonds interconnected to each other by the points and going all the way around leaving white upside down triangles at the top between each two diamonds. He undid the clasps on either; side and the helmet came apart in the middle. This too was reminiscent of the old costume. He then took off the helmet and tucked it under one arm.
"It worked," said Leanbow who had not spoken for some time.
"It worked all right," said Billy, his blue eyes shining. "The costume's different though."
"Well I might have an explanation for that," said Hayley. "I'm guessing here, but I assume that the parts that are different are because Udonna charged the coin with her magic and so it took on the aspects of the Mystic Force costumes. As for the parts that are just like his old one that is probably due to the fact that the coin still had a slight charge. Not enough by itself to transform him, but with Udonna's magic added into the mix that made it enough to turn him into a Power Ranger again."
"It's as good an explanation as any," said Udonna. "And probably comes close to explaining what actually happened."
"What about the helmet?" Daggeron asked. "The visor is shaped like a pair of wolf's ears with a wolf's paw print in the middle."
That is most likely influenced by my old Ninjetti costume," said Billy.
"Is this transformation permanent?" asked Hayley.
"I'm not sure," said Udonna. "It could go either way. There's no guarantee that the magic won't slowly leak away each time it is used."
"What do you intend to do now that you have a functioning Morpher again?" asked Leanbow seriously.
Billy considered the question thoughtfully for a moment determined to give Leanbow a serious answer. "I intend to do some good, now that I have my powers again."
"In what way?" Leanbow asked.
"I haven't figured that part out yet. I wasn't even sure it was going to work."
"Why don't you join the Mystic Force Rangers?" asked Daggeron.
"But I live in Reefside," said Billy.
"Doesn't matter," said Daggeron. "We don't have an enemy to fight right now. But you do realize that having and extra Ranger or even an extra team could come in handy sometime in the future. After all just because we don't have an enemy right now doesn't mean we won't ever have one. I don't mean to sound pessimistic. I for one would be perfectly happy to never have to fight again—"
"—but that isn't how the world works," Leanbow suggested.
"Exactly, trouble tends to come whether we want it or not so it is better to be prepared for it then to let it catch us unawares."
"This is true," said Leanbow, the pride in his voice for his former student's clear thinking made Udonna smile while Daggeron didn't even seem to notice.
"There's nothing wrong with planning ahead," agreed Udonna. "I'm hoping things will stay peaceful at least for a while longer, but I also know there are no guarantees. There will always be new evils to fight somewhere in the world."
"So Billy how would you like to be part of the Mystic Force?"
"I'd love to, but as I mentioned earlier I live in Reefside. If anything does happen and you need me how do I get here in time to help?"
"You could build one of those teleporters that you used to use when you were a Ranger. The ones that don't require a teleporter at the other end so long as you have the coordinates," Hayley suggested.
"I probably could. I had a lot of time to study Zordon's technology. I think I remember how it's done. I'm pretty sure technology has advanced enough for me to be able to duplicate it."
"Or you could just contact Trey and have him bring you the parts," suggested Hayley.
"Trey?" questioned Udonna the name seeming familiar.
"Remember I told you about him several days ago," said Daggeron.
"Yes, now I do," said Udonna suddenly remembering.
"I could do that," said Billy. "He'd do it to. That might actually be the safer option instead of me trying to recreate technology that I haven't seen or studied in over ten years. Not since the Zeo Rangers." And not since Zordon died, Billy thought but didn't say.
"Okay so now you have options," said Leanbow. "If this Trey is willing to do this would you be willing to be called in as backup if we need you?"
"Yes," Billy replied instantly. "It will feel good to be back in action again."
"I do feel as if I have to ask—" Leanbow began. "You've been retired for years now, are you sure you're in the shape to do this? All the energy that goes into transformation is hard on the body."
"I realize that," said Billy his blue eyes serious. Billy immediately realized that Leanbow was only concerned about his health and how his body would take the transformation. "I am in excellent shape. I take several martial arts classes back in Reefside and Tommy has been giving me some pointers. I have been taking classes for several years now."
"It might be a good idea to have Daggeron; give you a few lessons in our techniques," Udonna suggested. "Just too be on the safe side."
"Not a bad idea," Billy agreed. "I don't ever object to learning new skills, especially if they might someday save my life."
A few days later Trey appeared in Tommy's lab by teleport beam. When he had been contacted and asked for the teleporter technology Trey had asked why. When he had been told the reason he had agreed to bring the parts for it. He had also passed on his congratulations to Billy, for Trey had known of Billy's desire to be a Power Ranger again. He had known every since his Gold Ranger powers had failed to work on Billy when he had been forced to give his powers up temporarily. He had also known, or at least suspected, that just because one set of powers wouldn't work didn't mean a different kind wouldn't. There were all different kinds of powers that could turn you into a Power Ranger. The original Morphers that Zordon had given the first team of Rangers had been based more on magic then technology while the Zeo powers were the exact opposite and worked more on science then magic.
From what he knew these new powers of Billy's were based on magic. Two different kinds of magic. What worried Trey the most was that fact that he was not sure that mixing two different kinds of magic was safe. There could be any number of problems from doing that kind of thing, from major ones to minor. Then again there might be no problems at all and so far that seemed to be the case and he was glad for he considered Billy a friend and didn't want to see him hurt, or worse.
"Trey it's good to see you again," said Tommy as the yellow and black glow surrounding the King of Triforia faded signaling that the teleport was complete.
"You as well Tommy," said Trey shaking Tommy's hand, then Kim's and finally Billy's. "Well here are the parts for the teleporter you asked for Billy," said Trey. "And instructions as well. I made sure to translate them into English for you."
"Thanks Trey," said Billy gratefully. "This will be a big help. Also safer then me trying to build one from scratch considering I haven't studied the technology in over a decade."
"Billy you are aware that mixing two different kinds of magic could very well be dangerous. You are into new territory here thanks to your friend recharging your old power coin by using her magic, and although admirable could also be deadly.
"I know, Trey," Billy said softly. "But when the Gold Ranger Powers rejected me ten years ago I felt as if that was the end of everything. I had regretted from the first giving up my powers to Tanya even though I didn't think I would. When you offered your powers to me I instantly jumped at the chance, but then they didn't work and I was disappointed. Something I had wanted ever since I had given up the original ones had seemed within my grasp and then to have then to have them reject me was almost more then I could take, but now—" Billy paused for a moment as if gathering his thoughts. "I'm more at peace with myself then I have been in a very long time and let me tell you it feels good."
"I understand my friend," said Trey. "And I wish you luck."
"Thanks Trey, I really appreciate it," said Billy.
"If you need anything else you know how to contact me," said Trey. "And Billy I'm really happy for you, but do be careful. I would hate to have to mourn the death of someone I consider a friend."
"I will," promised Billy, seriously stepping back with the bag of parts slung over his shoulder.
"Can you at least stay for dinner?" Tommy asked his brother-in-law.
"No, I really must be going. I can't afford to be gone to long right now."
"Trouble?" asked Tommy.
"No t precisely trouble, no. It just the usual grumblings against me and Chelse, and yet these somehow have a different feel to them, more serious, like something bad is about to happen. Of course I could just be paranoid."
"You and Chelsea; be careful," Tommy told Trey looking worried. "If you need me all you have to do is call."
"I know; I'm sincerely hoping there won't be any trouble, but you can't really predict that kind of thing. At the moment my instincts are telling me there's going to be trouble soon."
"I'd trust those instincts. They could save your life."
"I know. Well I'll see you some time. I don't know when."
"Say hello to my sister for me."
"Will do," Trey promised. "She's already mad at me because I wouldn't let her come with me to see you even though I told her I wouldn't be staying long."
Tommy chuckled, his eyes sparkling with laughter as he said, "That sounds just like her. Don't worry, Trey. She'll get over it, eventually."
The way Tommy said the last word had an ominous tone to it as if the word eventually could mean anywhere from a few days to never. "She loves you," he added. "So she'll forgive you, maybe in the next decade or two."
"You're a cruel man, Tommy," Trey told his brother-in-law only halfway joking.
"Sure am. Are you just now figuring that out?" Tommy told Trey half seriously with an absolutely evil grin.
Trey just shook his head resignedly, but smiled nonetheless. "I'll see you," he said and was gone in a black streak of light as soon as he pushed a button on his communication device that he had had in his pocket.
Tommy and Kimberly beamed into Briarwood using the teleporter that Trey had given Billy when Billy had told him that he was on active duty as a Power Ranger again. Billy had been asking Tommy and Kim to come down and meet the Mystic Force Rangers. With the teleporter now installed at Billy's place, it became an easier proposition and cheaper than flying or driving. Billy had also said that it was Tommy's fault that the Mystic Force wanted to meet him because he assumed it was Tommy that had sent the disc to them of the Power Ranger history. Tommy denied having done it and finally Kim admitted to making a disc one day while Tommy had been teaching and then mailing it.
Tommy had taken the news rather calmly and had asked his wife "Why?"
"Because they deserved to know their own history," she had replied. "If something were to happen to us then how would any future Rangers know of the ones who came before? People who risked everything to make sure future generations would grow up in peace?"
Tommy had sighed and admitted she was right and had said no more on the subject. He could never remain mad at Kim for long, especially when she was right. They were supposed to meet Billy at an old warehouse that was apparently being used as a place to train young men and women to defend themselves. It wasn't martial arts precisely, Billy had explained. Just learning a different set of fighting skills.
Tommy pushed open the door then held it open for Kim. The place was done up like most gyms with practice mats on one section of the floor and gym equipment in a corner. Hanging on one of the walls were different swords. Short, broad, long, every type you could imagine and at the moment the place was as silent as a tomb.
"Hello! Anyone here?" called Tommy, his voice reverberating off the walls.
"In the office! Just walk towards the back. You can't miss it!"
Tommy and Kim obliged and as the voice had said they found the office easily and entered.
"Can I help you folks?" asked the man behind the desk, looking up at the pair before him. His eyes instantly widened as he recognized them not only from Billy's description, but the disc that had arrived mysteriously.
"I see that you recognized us," said Tommy dryly. "Mind if we sit down?"
"I'm afraid I can't stand for long with me pregnant and all," Kimberly said.
Daggeron looked again and noticed Kim's big round belly. "My apologies, please sit down both of you."
Kim plopped down in one of the chairs with a sigh not needing a second invitation.
"Billy said you wanted to meet us," said Tommy, adjusting his glasses.
"I did," said Daggeron. "And I am truly honored."
"Why? We're ordinary people just like you," said Kim. "All right, so we had the honor of being the first Power Ranger team on the planet over fifteen years ago but that doesn't make us anymore special than any other Ranger team who risk their lives to keep Earth safe."
"That's not why I wanted to meet you," said Daggeron. "Sure you were the first and sure you risked your lives, but then so do all Ranger teams. No, the reason I wanted to meet you is to pick your brains. I would love to know more about the history of the Rangers and since you seem to be the only one who has kept track of all the teams there have been, that means you."
"Billy could have filled you in," said Kim.
"And he did on the history he knew, but he hasn't kept track like you have," Daggeron said.
"I always figured it was better to keep track of the history of the Power Rangers. I mean what if something bad happened and Earth needed a team of Rangers or even more than one team and none popped up when they were needed? What would Earth do then?"
"So you made a history hoping it would be found in case the worst happened?"
"Yes, so that me or one of the other original Rangers would be able to make a team out of the different groups of Rangers if it ever became necessary to do so. Not that I wish it too happen, but better to be prepared."
"That I agree with," said Daggeron with a nod.
"That's my Tommy," Kim said, squeezing his hand. "Just like that old boy scout motto, he is always prepared."
"Nothing wrong with that," said Tommy, adjusting his glasses, a nervous habit he had acquired over the last few years whenever he was embarrassed.
"No, nothing wrong with it," said Daggeron, trying not to smile.
"Anyway," said Kim. "It's a pleasure to meet another Ranger. As you probably know my name is Kimberly Hart Oliver, but you can call me Kim and this is my husband Tommy."
"Yes, I knew your first names and your faces from the disc, but not your last names. I'm Daggeron, by the way," he said, holding on his hand to Tommy.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Daggeron," said Tommy, taking Daggeron's hand and shaking it.
"The pleasure is mine," said Daggeron.
"By the way, we both wanted to thank you for what you did for Billy. I have rarely seen him so happy since he lost his original Ranger powers," said Tommy.
"There has been a remarkable change," said Kim. "He is more content than I have known him to be in some time and we have you and the other Mystic Force Rangers to thank for that."
"Don't thank me. Thank Udonna. She's the one that put her magic into it even if she wasn't sure it was going to work," said Daggeron.
"But you believed he could be a Power Ranger again even though he hadn't been one in almost thirteen years. That belief is what I'm referring to, and has done wonders for his self-esteem."
"That's what being a mentor, and teacher is all about," said Daggeron. "I am a teacher myself so I just try to spread a little of that positive reinforcement to all my students. Of course it doesn't always work."
Tommy nodded in agreement. "I know, I teach high school and I have found that some students are eager to learn while others don't even put in the effort to do their homework."
"It's not like that's anything new, Tommy," said Kim. "It was the same when we went to high school. Remember Bulk and Skull?"
"Those two clowns?" snorted Tommy. "Please, they couldn't find their brains with a microscope."
"Bullies," Kimberly supplied. "Back when I was growing up, they picked on everyone that couldn't, or wouldn't defend themselves—Billy especially. They picked on him because he was shy and smart—a genius really. Jack, Zack, Trini, and I were his only friends."
"I've heard the names," said Daggeron. "Billy mentioned them as well."
"Ah," said Kim.
"Then I moved to Angel Grove," continued Tommy. "And we became friends as well. Not as close as Jason and me, but friends all the same."
"Jason got Billy into marital arts. I think he figured that if Billy took some self-defense classes it would help his self-esteem."
"I would say it worked," said Daggeron. "If the way you describe him is a true impression."
"Oh I've known Billy since we were kids. We grew up together so I know him pretty well," said Kim. "He's changed a lot from that shy boy we used to know, but then so have we all."
Daggeron landed his magic carpet in a small clearing in the trees surrounding Wayne Manor. He had called ahead to make sure Bruce was going to be home for it was him he'd come to talk to. Bruce was the closest think Zatanna had to a brother even though they weren't technically related. With her parents dead Bruce was the only one he could ask for Zatanna's hand in marriage.
Daggeron made the carpet vanish and stepped off and headed for the front of the house.
He rang the bell a minute later to have it immediately opened by Alfred the Waynes butler.
"Welcome Master Daggeron, we've been expecting you."
Of course they had. After all he had called ahead, Daggeron reflected.
"Master Bruce is waiting for you in his study. If you'll follow me I'll take you there."
Daggeron gulped once the gentlemen had turned away and followed as Alfred led the way to Bruce's private domain.
He had very rarely been this nervous. In fact it had only happened twice, maybe three times in his whole life.
Alfred suddenly stopped in front of a door and Daggeron barely stopped before he ran into the older man's back for he had not been paying attention being lost in his thoughts.
"I will leave you here," said Alfred turning and disappearing so rapidly that he might as well have vanished in a puff of smoke.
Daggeron gulped again and began to suspect that both men knew the reason for his visit for both were observant and they were bound to have at least suspected his feelings for Zatanna ran far deeper then just a causal romance.
Finally after gathering his courage he knocked and the voice of Bruce bade him to enter. He did so and closed the door with a soft click behind him. The click had a sense of finality to it as if he was walking to his doom.
"Take a seat," said Bruce looking up from a pile of papers. "What can I do for you this afternoon?"
Daggeron gulped again and suddenly realized that this was going to be one of the hardest things he had ever done.
Bruce almost chuckled at his friend's nervousness but managed to keep his face blank and eyes bland.
He had known what was coming for months now and he was more then ecstatic about this turn of events for Daggeron was an honorable man and made Zatanna happy. Zatanna was like a sister and since her parents were dead he was the closest thing she had to a family. Now if Daggeron could just get the words out—. Bruce didn't think he had ever seen his friend this uptight and nervous. Of course he had only known him for a couple of years but still—
Bruce waited patiently and finally what seemed like an hour later but was actually only a few minutes Daggeron finally spoke, "I came here today for one reason only. Since you are the closest thing Zatanna has to a relative I thought it only proper to ask you for her hand in marriage."
The room fell silent as if a spell had just been cast for even the birds outside seemed to stop their chirping.
It remained that way for an eternity, but was finally broken when Bruce spoke, "You have it. I have never seen her as happy as your relationship has made her. As long as she's happy I have no objection. Besides I like you and I can't say that about many people."
Daggeron nodded and finally started to breathe again his nervousness seeming to vanish with Bruce's response. "Thank you for that."
"My pleasure," said Bruce the atmosphere seeming to lighten considerably with the words finally out in the open. "Do you need any help planning the wedding ceremony? I'm sure Diana will be glad to help with that. In fact I'd be surprised if you could stop her. It's the Aphrodite in her."
"The what?" Daggeron asked.
"Well one of her gifts is from Aphrodite who also happens to be the Greek goddess of love."
"So in other words she likes to play matchmaker and then plan the weddings that follow."
"Something like that," said Bruce a glint of amusement in his dark eyes.
"Thank you for the offer but I think we both want a small a small wedding. I'll have to talk to Zatanna of course but I'm pretty sure she feels the same. I think something simple would be best."
"Like just a courthouse ceremony?" Bruce suggested.
"Yes, but I was thinking of letting Leanbow perform the ceremony with just a few close friends there. You and Diana are invited of course."
"Well why don't you propose to Zatanna first? Not that I have any doubt that she will say yes, but you two discuss what you want to do between you and then make sure to invite us."
"Will do," said Daggeron rising from his chair.
"Can I at least get you to stay for dinner?" asked Bruce.
"Well I am kind of hungry," Daggeron admitted surprised.
"It's all that nervous energy my friend. Once it wore off well of course you're hungry."
"Was I that obvious?" asked Daggeron.
"To someone who knows you; yes. I doubt someone who didn't know you would have been able to tell. I am a student of human nature after all so to me it is easy to see."
"Well it's nice to know I won't be obvious to everyone," said Daggeron. "Being obvious can get me killed."
"No worries you can be very inscrutable when you want to be."
"And I might as well stay for dinner," Daggeron added. "Leanbow knows where I am. If the Rangers need me, I can be there fast."
"We're glad to have you. "I'll inform Alfred that you will be staying for supper. The boys will be glad to see their 'Uncle Daggeron.' "
Daggeron nodded and smiled for this was not his first visit to Gotham City or to Wayne Manor. He was up here at least once a month, if not every couple of weeks to see Zatanna. He always stopped in to see Bruce and his family and so as a result had become an honorary uncle to the Wayne children. Both Thomas and James had grown quite fond of their 'Uncle Daggeron' and all his stories.
Diana had commented on more then one occasion that he would someday make a good father. This was said never within Daggeron's hearing of course.
"I will be glad to see them to," said Daggeron with a smile. He had never been around children much growing up but that didn't mean he didn't love them and was genuinely fond of them. Just because he had spent most of his life either in training, enchanted or fighting didn't mean he didn't like children.
"Well you know where they are at this time of day. "Why don't you go and say hello?" Bruce suggested.
"I will," said Daggeron heading towards the office door. Bruce watched him disappear and thanked God for the day he had met Daggeron and the Mystic Force Rangers.
Daggeron paced nervously back and forth waiting for Zatanna to appear. He was about to do something that he had promised himself he would never do, and that was falling in love. He had been a much younger man when he had made that vow—one who had just had his heart broken by a woman he thought he was in love with at that time. He had realized sometime later that though it had hurt at that time. His heart had been bent but not broken.
If Zatanna turned down his proposal though he felt sure his heart would not be merely bent out of shape, but truly broken in half and he wasn't sure if he would survive such an event. He had began his training as a knight shortly afterwards and he had soon been able to put the incident behind him. Leanbow had always had his best interests at heart even though he had resented him at first. Daggeron had soon realized that he had no reason to resent Leanbow and had finally gotten his act together. Soon Leanbow had become not only his mentor, but his best friend. Daggeron came out of his thoughts suddenly when he felt Zatanna's presence come up beside him.
"Ready to go, handsome?" asked Zatanna, too polite to ask what he had been thinking about.
"Yes," Daggeron answered, giving her a kiss.
"So where are we going?"
"It's a surprise," said Daggeron with a mysterious look refusing to say anymore no matter how much Zatanna pouted and begged.
"If you'll climb aboard, my lady, we can be on our way," said Daggeron, gesturing to the magic carpet that had seemed to appear out of nowhere at just a foot off the ground.
Zatanna obeyed and climbed on board with Daggeron right behind her, the carpet remaining steady as they did so.
"And we're off," said Daggeron giving the carpet a mental command. The carpet began to rise higher and was soon high up in the sky heading towards an unknown destination.
No more than half an hour later they landed on what appeared to be a deserted beach and Daggeron leaped off and gallantly helped Zatanna to dismount.
Zatanna looked around but saw nothing but sand along with the moon shining down on the waves and the stars twinkling in the sky. It was a warm night so Zatanna didn't feel cold as she looked around.
"Nice, deserted, quiet. . ." Zatanna said, looking around before turned back to look at Daggeron only to discover that somehow a picnic dinner for two had appeared as if out of nowhere. Romantic, she added silently
Zatanna raised one slim black eyebrow as Daggeron escorted her to her seat. "Well, this is a surprise," said Zatanna. "What brought this on—" she paused and gestured at the feast before them.
"Can't I spend time alone with the woman that I love? Why question it?" asked Daggeron calmly.
Zatanna stared at him in surprise for even though she had been almost sure that he loved her, he had never told her so at least not until tonight.
"Don't look so shocked," he said with a smile. "You must have known I loved you."
"Knowing it and actually hearing you say it are two different things," she said, looking at him with affection.
It had taken her awhile to realize that she had fallen for her handsome knight like a ton of bricks for she had never been in love before—not really. Oh, she had thought that she had been in love before on a couple of occasions, Bruce being one of those times. Over the years she had soon realized that neither man had been right for her. The man sitting across from her however was perfect. He was handsome, charming, polite and not only let a woman go her own way, but was a knight with not only a magic carpet, but a real feline genie.
"Shall we dine?" asked Daggeron, pouring her a glass of wine.
"We shall, but who's going to be driving?" said Zatanna with a smile as she raised her glass that he had just poured for her in a salute then lowering it to her lips and taking a sip.
Daggeron smiled at her question as he saluted her back. "I will only have one full glass of wine. Would you like a plate?"
"Yes," she said, as he handed her an empty plate.
Daggeron watched her covertly as they ate, marveling silently that she could love him. It wasn't that he thought he was unworthy of being loved. Just that he had always been extremely busy. First, training to be a knight, then the great battle then being betrayed by someone he had considered a friend and ending up enchanted then fighting the Master and his minions after being returned to normal. Lately it had been quiet and he had been able to do something he enjoyed doing and that was training people in the techniques he had learned from Leanbow.
He had built up a business from scratch with only a little help from Bruce and had been astonished to realize that he had a real head for making money despite his having grown up in the Mystic Realm. With only a little help and a decent accountant to keep the books he had done quite well. Well enough that he felt secure in asking for Zatanna's hand in marriage. If he could get up the courage that is.
"So what other plans do you have for tonight?" asked Zatanna.
"You'll see," said Daggeron with a mysterious glint in his dark eyes.
"Well you're certainly good at keeping secrets," said Zatanna dryly her blue eyes sparkling with laughter.
"Hazard of being a Power Ranger," Daggeron told her.
"Oh I know all about that secret identity thing," said Zatanna. "After all I am a member of the Justice League where a lot of the members have them."
"And it doesn't bother you?" asked Daggeron.
"No," said Zatanna with a shrug and a shake of her head. "Everybody has their reasons for having secret identities, which is mostly just having a normal life outside of the League. As normal as it can be anyway, considering they save the world on a regular basis."
"You're an unusual woman Zatanna," said Daggeron admiringly. "Most females wouldn't be able to stand not knowing everything that went on in their boyfriends/husband's life.
"So I'm unusual," said Zatanna with a careless shrug and a twinkle in her eyes.
"In more ways then one," Daggeron murmured judging that the moment was now right. He hoped he didn't loose his nerve. "Zatanna," he began.
Zatanna looked at him and immediately tensed up when she saw Daggeron's face had gone shadowed. Was he getting ready to break up with her? She knew that he had just admitted that he loved her and he had meant it to but he might have said it only to decide to break it off. No, Daggeron would never be that cruel. He would never tell her that he loved her and then tell her it was over all in the same night.
"Zatanna," Daggeron repeated seeming too distracted to notice her tenseness. "I was wondering if you would consider a relationship on a more permanent basis."
Zatanna relaxed slightly and her expression cleared. "What do you mean?"
Daggeron gulped realizing he had never felt so nervous in his entire life not even when he had been in training.
"I mean—" Daggeron paused and dug in his back pants pocket to withdraw a small jeweler's box. He held it in the palm of his hand for a moment the black plastic of the box resting against his fingers. "I mean—" he repeated. "Will you marry me?"
He brought out the small jeweler's box from behind his back and presented it to her with a flourish.
Zatanna took it and opened it the brass hinges creaking slightly as the lid snapped back. Inside sitting in black velvet was a simple diamond ring of no more then five or six karats. The ring was set in a simple, slender gold band which shined as if it had just been polished.
Zatanna looked up and before Daggeron could say anything else or start to get nervous at her lack of response, flung herself into his arms which instinctively came up to catch her. She then proceeded to kiss his face.
"I take it this means yes?" asked Daggeron dryly when he had caught his breath.
"Did you really believe I would say no?" asked Zatanna giving him another kiss. "I love you."
"I wasn't sure," Daggeron admitted somewhat sheepishly.
"Silly boy," Zatanna teased him gently. "You should have known that I loved you."
"I did, at least in my head. It was my heart that wasn't sure."
"Well you tell your heart to settle down and quit giving the man I love so much trouble," Zatanna teased him.
Daggeron smiled, put his arms around her and held her close to his chest, his chin on top of her head. He closed his eyes in contentment and smelled the clean scent of her hair mixed with the odor of the ocean.
As for Zatanna she snuggled into his chest her head just under his chin and smelled the scent that was uniquely his. He smelled like the woods and shampoo as if he had just had a shower, which he probably had.
Finally Daggeron shifted his weight and said, "Perhaps we should finish dinner before we discuss wedding plans."
Zatanna nodded against his chest and got off his lap only to sit back down beside him the ring box laying between them.
"Here let me put this on you," said Daggeron taking the ring out of its little velvet box and slipping it on her waiting finger.
Zatanna admired it for a moment then turned to give him another kiss. They finished their dinner in silence and when they were done Daggeron waved a hand and everything from the blanket to the dishes popped out of existence.
"Where did they go?" asked Zatanna.
"Back to my place," said Daggeron. "Waiting, to be cleaned."
"Ah, neat trick," said Zatanna admiringly.
"Why thank you milady," said Daggeron with a half bow since he was still seated with his legs splayed out in front of him, his back leaning against a sand dune. Zatanna leaned into his side her legs also stretched out, her head against the side of his shoulder.
"So what about wedding plans?" Zatanna asked.
"I would prefer a simple ceremony with just a few of our closest friends there and Leanbow to perform the service."
"I have no objections. I've always wanted a small wedding anyway. I do have one observation however."
"What's that?" he asked.
"I don't object to Leanbow performing the ceremony, but the one problem I see is that it won't be legal outside of the Mystic Realm."
"True," Daggeron said. "So what do you suggest?"
"That we are married twice once by Leanbow and once at the courthouse. That way it is legal in both worlds."
"Not a bad idea," Daggeron said, sounding thoughtful.
"So who do you want to invite?" asked Zatanna.
"Oh, the only ones I can think of that I want there are the other Rangers, Billy and Hayley included, Bruce and Diana, maybe a few of my students, Lois and Clark Kent.
"That about covers everyone that I want to invite. I really don't have very many close friends with me being on the road so much of the time."
"That's something else we need to talk about," said Daggeron.
"You mean about me traveling so much?"
"I've actually been thinking about that a lot over the last year or so. Traveling from place to place is okay for a few years, but I've been thinking recently that it was time for me to start thinking about settling down and to quit traveling so much I mean I'm no longer as young as I used to be."
"You're not that old," Daggeron protested.
"No, but that wasn't what I meant. I meant that for the way I've been living over the last fifteen years, or so can't last forever. I started performing when I was eighteen after my father died. I had to make a living somehow, and I had not only my father's magic but my mother's as well."
"That's a long time to be moving from place to place."
"I know," said Zatanna. "I have found recently that I am not as satisfied with that sort of life as I used to be."
"And you think settling down will make you happier?"
"Yes," she said. "I have enough money in the bank I could take a break and try to find me a job close to Briarwood. I'm not going to quit working completely—"
"I'm not asking you to. You wouldn't be happy if you didn't use the talents that you have. That would be like me not using the skills that I have."
"That's very wise of you," she said, turning to look at his face.
"Not really. I just grew up around people who treated women as equals and respected their skills. I was given a set of good examples."
"In other words you were raised to treat women as people and not objects."
"Yes," Daggeron said.
"Good, this just proves my instincts about you were right."
"A women's intuition?" suggested Daggeron teasingly.
Zatanna immediately noticed the smile in his voice.
"Something, like that," she said, also with a smile in her voice. "So when do you want to get married?"
"Well, since we aren't inviting too many people and we both want a small ceremony. I think a month is more than enough time to plan."
"Yes," Zatanna agreed. "I do have a question. Are we going live in the Mystic Realm or are we going to buy a house in Briarwood?"
"I don't know. I never really thought about it," said Daggeron.
"Well there are quite a few details we need to work out," said Zatanna. "After all we are from two different worlds—literally."
"Yes, but they don't all have to be worked out tonight," said Daggeron. "For tonight I think it's time we head home for it is quite late."
"Yes it is," said Zatanna checking her watch. It was after midnight she was shocked to discover. They had been talking for hours.
Daggeron got gracefully to his feet then helped Zatanna to hers. Zatanna looked down at herself and did her best to brush the sand off her pants.
"May I escort my lady home?" asked Daggeron bowing.
"You may," Zatanna replied taking the hand he held out to her.
His magic carpet appeared as if out of nowhere but really just came from the pocket dimension he kept it in. Daggeron helped her to board then got on right behind her. They both rose into the sky on the carpet disappearing from sight
It was night in London when its citizens were treated to the sight of what looked like a shooting star. While the populace as a whole gasped in awe at the sight certain people who lived in that there and had studied astrology knew that burning fireball that moved so fast was definitely not a star falling from space. What it was they weren't sure, but those four people were going to find out because for all they knew it could be dangerous.
"What was that?" asked Ginny
"A shooting star?" suggested Ron as he peered out the window of Harry's and Ginny's condo.
"No it was moving much to fast for that," said Hermione. It could be an asteroid or a meteor, but most of those burn up when they enter the atmosphere. That whatever that thing is; didn't is disturbing."
"Perhaps we should check it out in case it is something dangerous to the general populace," Harry suggested his green eyes looking worried behind his black rimmed glasses.
"Yes, we should after I call the Watchtower and inform them of what has occurred," said Hermione. "In case we need backup."
"A good idea," Harry conceded with a nod pushing his glasses back up on his nose.
"I'll call," said Hermione heading towards the stairs.
No more then half an hour later Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione all surveyed what was left of what appeared to be a spaceship.
"Should we go in?" asked Ginny.
"Yes, there might be someone alive in there," said Harry. "Make sure to keep your wands at the ready in case they're not friendly."
"Right," the other three murmured as they stepped cautiously towards the ship.
As for the ship itself it was not that big probably no more then a scout ship that was only big enough for one, maybe two people.
All four entered after using a spell to cool off the skin of the ship, which was practically blazing with heat so intense that Harry who was closest almost took a step back. He stopped himself and forced himself to enter the ship itself.
The hull of the ship although not quite as hot as it had been was still hot enough to cause steam to rise from it after it had been doused with water.
"You two go towards the rear while Ginny and I will head towards the bridge. Be careful," said Harry.
"Right," Ron and Hermione answered quietly.
Both groups moved off in opposite directions and were soon out of sight of each other.
Five minutes later Harry and Ginny arrived at another door, but this one locked and sealed. They had gone through several half open metal doors that had refused to move either way and both Harry and Ginny had, had to squeeze through even as skinny as they were.
But this final door was all the way closed and when Harry pushed the button that opened it nothing happened just like all the others they had passed.
"So what do we do?" asked Ginny.
"Well why don't we try a little magic?" Harry suggested raising his wand, muttering a word and then gesturing at the door.
The door started to roll aside then stopped less then halfway.
"Can you squeeze through that?" Harry asked his wife.
Ginny looked at the door then at her husband and said, "Not unless you want me to break a few bones doing it. I don't think anything, but a small animal, or a child could fit through there."
Harry sighed and with Ginny's help tried to push the door open a little further by grabbing hold of the crack they had made on tracks that didn't want to cooperate.
Finally the door began to move little by little with a great groaning sound that sounded loud enough to be heard all the way in London. Both panting stepped back to survey their work and then single file stepped through Ginny in the lead.
Once on the bridge they looked at the damage and also for signs of life.
"The crash couldn't have done all this could it?" asked Ginny.
"No, said Harry shaking his head. "If you look closely outside on the hull you can see several burn marks and long tears as if it just went through a space battle or was attacked. It would also explain why it crashed in the first place."
Suddenly they heard a groan and immediately tried to locate where the sound was coming from.
Ginny finally located it near the center of the bridge and made their way over to where the sound was coming from.
What they saw astonished them for even though they knew this was a spaceship which meant aliens they hadn't expected him to look quite so different. Lying in front of them was what looked like nothing more then a dog, except this one would stand on two feet—uh paws just like a human's. He was blue with a snout and pointed ears and his hands like his feet looked like paws but still appeared to be able to pick things up for unlike normal dogs the paws appeared flexible and able to bend.
"Who are you?" the dog muttered in highly accented English.
"Someone who saw your ship crash and has come to help," said Harry. "But first too get that large metal beam off of you."
Harry paused as he tried to think of the best way to move the twisted hunk of metal without hurting the alien trapped underneath any further.
"What about that lightening spell?" Ginny asked.
"Good idea," said Harry raising his wand and saying a word.
The beam pinning the alien rose at Harry's word and then landed with a crash when he released it on the other side of the bridge.
Ginny did the same with the smaller pieces and soon the doglike creature was free.
"Thanks," said the dog. "May name is Anubis Cruger. I came from a planet known as Sirius."
"I'm Harry Potter and this is my wife Ginny. You crashed just outside of London England on a planet we call Earth."
"Don't try to move," Ginny added quietly as Cruger tried to rise but lay back with a groan. "You could be seriously hurt."
"No, I think I'm okay except for a couple of broken ribs," said Cruger.
"Still why take chances?" said Harry. "You could be hurt more then you realize."
"What are you going to do with me?" asked Cruger to hurt to even grasp the sword at his side.
"Nothing except take you home; put you to bed and get a doctor to look at those injuries."
"But no doctor here will know about my psychology," said Cruger.
"What choice do you have?" asked Harry grimly.
Cruger nodded seeing the other man's point. "All right it appears I have no choice."
"Not if you want to stay alive that is," said Ginny.
"What about Kat?"
"Kat?" asked Harry. "Who's Kat?"
"Katherine Manx. She was in her quarters when we were attacked. I have to know if she's okay."
Harry nodded and spoke into his JLA communicator which was in his ear.
"Ron, Hermione, have you found anything?"
"Not yet," came a female voice over the tiny earpiece.
"You should find a female. If so see if she lives and check injuries."
"Affirmative," came Hermione's response. "We'll meet you outside."
No more then fifteen minutes later Ron and Hermione appeared with who Harry assumed was Cruger's companion Kat Manx. Kat also looked alien though less so then Cruger. She had brown curly hair that went to her shoulders and had what looked like large freckles on both cheeks. She also had pointed ears just like a cat's peeking out from beneath her curls and her skin looked the same as any humans.
"Doggie!" exclaimed Kat in concern as soon as she saw him floating on his back two feet off the ground
Standing beside him was a black haired young man with glasses and vivid green eyes.
"We think he's okay," said Ginny. "He was trapped under a ton of rubble. It looked like half the bridge had fallen on him."
"Let me see," said Kat walking to Cruger's side. She started checking him over and finally came to the conclusion that he had gotten off lucky. "Just a couple of bruised ribs and a mild concussion," she reported sounding relieved.
"Are you a doctor?" asked Hermione.
"I am actually. Dr. Kat Manx at you service."
"Let me up," said Cruger. "I told you I was all right."
Ron did as Cruger requested and took out his wand and said, "Molbicorpus!"
Cruger gently floated downwards to land on the moor with a soft thump.
"Thanks," said Cruger as Kat helped him to his feet.
"Here let me wrap your ribs," said Ginny taking out her wand. "Ferula!"
Bandages seemed to flow out of the tip of Ginny's wand surrounding Cruger's middle tightening themselves in order to support his broken ribs.
"Now if you'll just grab our arms we'll take you to mine and Ginny's place," said Harry.
"How?" asked Kat her scientific mind already trying to work out what she had seen so far and how these four had done what they had.
Magic? her mind questioned.
Magic doesn't exist, her practical self protested.
Maybe not where you come from but this is not your home and there are more forces in the universe that can not be easily explained scientifically.
"Easy we'll Apparate," said Harry responding to Kat's question while she was lost in her thoughts.
"Apparate?" questioned Cruger.
"It means to disappear in one place and reappear in another. No one under the age of 17 is allowed to use it for it can be dangerous. You have to take a test to prove you can do it safely."
"That's enough love," Ron told her affectionately. "We need to get out of here before someone who isn't friendly comes along."
"Right," said Ginny. "If you'll just grab our arms," she added for the second time.
Both rescued aliens did as instructed and all five of them popped out of existence.
They reappeared in a two level condo in an open space that had been left open for just that purpose. "Welcome to our home," said Harry.
"Where do we go from here?" asked Cruger.
"Well for now you are welcome to stay with us. Consider yourselves our guests."
"Is there any chance of fixing our ship?" asked Kat anxiously.
"I doubt it," said Hermione not unkindly. "It looked pretty wrecked."
"I'm afraid Earth is somewhat primitive where space technology is concerned," added Ron. Ron like his father kept abreast of what was happening in the Muggle world.
"You just might be stuck here," said Ginny not unsympathetically.
"There is someone who might be able to help," said Harry thoughtfully as both Cruger and Kat digested the news that they might not be able to go home.
"Who?" asked Cruger immediately.
"Tell me have you heard of the Power Rangers?" asked Harry.
"Yes, they are famous throughout the galaxy for taking on evil on various planets that no normal person could handle alone."
"Well the one I'm thinking of is one of the original ones that Zordon chose to defend this planet from the likes of Rita Repulsa. He might be able to help. His name is Billy Cranston and he was the first Blue Ranger. He's also a genius and he has had access to alien technology in the past, so if anybody can fix your ship he can. I'll contact him for you if you want me to. He can be here in minutes by teleporter."
"Are you sure he is trustworthy?" asked Cruger who had heard of Zordon's Power Rangers but that didn't mean the man Harry suggested was honest. He knew however that Zordon would never have chosen him to assume the Power if he hadn't been honest, courageous, and willing to stand up to defend his world.
"Yes," said Harry. "He's very honest. He wouldn't have been chosen to have been a Ranger otherwise. I can't guarantee that he will be able to fix your ship, but he's the only one I can think of that stands even a slight chance of succeeding."
"I guess we have no choice," said Cruger, coming to a decision.
"You won't regret it. You'll like Billy," said Harry.
Harry had met Billy on one or two occasions and had liked him for his honesty and dry sense of humor. In return for his trust Billy had told him a little bit about his past life as a Ranger.
"I'll call him and if he's not busy he should be here in no more then an hour."
No more the half an hour later a dark blue teleport beam appeared on the horizon streaking across not only the ocean but the city of London coming to rest in a park not far from where Harry and Ginny were living. The teleportation beam faded to reveal a nicely dressed young man of no more then 30 with blondish brown hair cut short and startling blue eyes that sparked with intelligence.
Standing a few feet away from where the teleportation beam had deposited the figure was Ginny who had been sent out to meet Billy for he could not teleport into the Potters' condo for it was a wizarding building and like the Leaky Cauldron was invisible to mortal eyes. A Muggle had to actually be led to the structure and have it pointed out to him in order for them to see it for otherwise their eyes would slide right past it as if it didn't exist at all.
"It's a pleasure to see you again Billy," said Ginny stepping forward once the teleportation beam had faded completely.
"You as well Ginny," said Billy his blue eyes shining with excitement at the thought of not only meeting two aliens but to have a chance to work with alien technology again.
"How's Hayley?" asked Ginny.
"Fine," answered Billy. "She hated to stay behind but felt like it wouldn't be safe for her to teleport this distance with her pregnant."
Ginny nodded and led Billy to her and Harry's condo. When they arrived all Billy saw at first was an empty lot until Ginny touched his arm and actually pointed out the building to him. Even after she did Billy had to concentrate so his eyes didn't slide past it again. It was starting to give him a headache.
"That's neat," said Billy. "It's like my eyes just slide from one side of the building to the other without actually registering that there's anything there, but an empty lot."
"That's the point," Ginny told him with a giggle. "There's also Muggle repelling charms all over the lot and the building itself. Since you're with me it shouldn't affect you quite as much."
"Muggle repelling charms?" asked Billy curiously.
"It's to prevent people without magic from taking a closer look. When they approach they suddenly remember they have urgent business elsewhere or that they forgot to do something important. This prevents them from building anything here or even knowing that it isn't something other then what it seems."
"Fascinating," Billy murmured.
"Here take my hand," said Ginny. "It'll make it easier."
A few moments later they were in the building and Ginny released Billy's hand. As they had entered Billy had had an urge that he had forgotten something important but Ginny had assured him it was just the effects of the spell. Once they had actually entered the effects immediately faded. Apparently the Muggle repelling charms weren't within the building itself.
"Come on the stairs are over here," Ginny told him pointing. "They're waiting for us."
A few minutes later after getting off what looked like an escalator except this one was made of pure magic they arrived at a door. Ginny opened it and they both entered the condo.
"Harry?" called Ginny.
"In the den love," said Harry's voice.
Ginny led the way and in no time they had entered a small den. Billy looked around him curiously and noticed there was no TV, in fact there were no electronics of any kind. Instead there were shelves of books all along one wall. A couch was along another along with several comfortable looking chairs.
On another wall were pictures each in a different type of frame. The unusual thing about these photographs was that the pictures were moving. There was one of Harry and Ginny another of Ron and Hermione, one of Harry's parents and three siblings and finally one of Ginny's, and Ron's family.
"Billy I'd like you to meet Anubis Cruger and Kat Manx," Harry introduced. Kat, Cruger this is Billy Cranston."
"It's a pleasure," said Billy not even blinking in shock as what looked like a dog standing on two of his paws with blue skin and a lady with pointed ears and canine teeth stood up politely at the introduction.
"Same here," said Cruger. "You and the original Rangers from this planet are quite famous in certain other places in the galaxy."
"Famous?" questioned Billy with a raised eyebrow. "We didn't choose to become Power Rangers and to risk our lives on an almost daily basis to be famous. We did so to protect our world from destruction."
"That's not why you're famous," Cruger explained. "Not because Zordon chose you to assume the Power—although that choice was unusual at best—but because you overcame every obstacle and villain in your path without ever losing a Ranger, giving up, or being defeated."
"Ah," said Billy in understanding. "Well that explains it. We might not have been beaten, but we came awfully close on more occasions then I care to recall."
"But coming close to death or defeat doesn't count for when you are a warrior you accept death as well as defeat as a part of life. What matters is you never gave up and continued the fight no matter the odds, or the forces against you—that is what being a true warrior is all about—never giving up no matter what. That is what made you famous."
After Billy had digested that the discussion turned to the spaceship. "I'm not sure I can fix it," Billy told them honestly. "From what Harry, told me when he contacted me it was pretty much a wreck. Of course I can't be sure until I see it."
"I hope you can fix it," said Kat. "I don't think this planet welcomes aliens."
"Actually that is not entirely true," said Billy, "At least not anymore."
"What do you mean?" asked Cruger.
"I mean that within the last year or so aliens have begun coming out of what is called the Mystic Realm. It is a kind of another dimension that is attached to Earth. I'm not sure of the exact mechanics involved, but anyway..." Billy then explained about the Mystic Force Rangers and how three of them came from this realm. He also explained how the government wanted to create a kind of Power Ranger academy for the President foresaw aliens coming from other planets and wanting to stay here.
"So in other words it is not totally unexpected," said Kat.
"No," said Billy shaking his head. "It is not. Our current President is a farsighted man and he sees aliens settling on Earth. However he also sees that not every species will be peaceful."
"So he wants to plan ahead and start a training school for Power Rangers for he sees trouble in the future."
"Precisely," said Billy. "After all evil is never entirely gone. Just because you defeat one evil villain two or three others always seem to pop up in their place. So I foresee us needing Rangers sometime in the next few years."
Cruger nodded his eyes going distant as he thought about the destruction of his own world by the evil Emperor Grumm and how he had been the only one to escape. He knew Billy was right evil never died completely.
Billy observed the ship as he and the others approached it. The ship was small, more like a shuttle, or escape pod from something from something much larger.
"So what do you think?" asked Kat as they went closer to the wrecked and damaged ship.
"Well," said Billy. "I would need to examine it more closely, but Harry might have been right. From where I'm standing your ship might be pretty unrepairable. If I can't repair it I can have Tommy call Andros on KO-35. He has a ship that can transport you to wherever you want to go."
"We would both prefer to have our ship fixed if at all possible," said Cruger after looking at Kat.
"I know, I understand," said Billy. "I'll do my best."
They walked closer to the ship and Billy examined it more closely. Just from what he could see of the nose of the ship he was pretty sure that even if he did fix parts of it, it would never fly again, much less be space worthy, but he would try.
Several hours later Billy finished taking a tour of the inside of the ship and thought that his original estimate had been way to optimistic. The ship was much worse on the inside the outside. The bridge was almost certainly a lost cause for the top of the hull had been almost completely destroyed. The beams had fallen on the consoles that controlled the ship, navigation, communication, weapons the whole shebang.
"There's no hope is there?" asked Cruger, seeing Billy's expression.
"No much," said Billy, his expression resigned. "This ship, between the crash and the space battle it has gone through— I don't think anybody could fix it. It would be easier and quite possibly cheaper to either have one built or to buy one. I'm really sorry to disappoint you like this, but I can't perform miracles."
Cruger sighed. "I had a feeling it wouldn't be able to be repaired."
"So where do we go from here?" asked Kat, also looking disappointed. She had known, however, almost from the beginning that their ship most likely couldn't be fixed. She had held onto hope for her friend's sake, now that hope was gone.
"Well, you certainly stay with me and my wife for a few days," Harry suggested. "As for after that, well, I have a few ideas."
"I do to," said Billy, looking thoughtful. "I have a question for you two," he added looking at Cruger and Kat.
"What is it?" asked Cruger curiously.
"How would you feel about staying on Earth, perhaps permanently?"
"Why?" asked Kat.
"Because I might have business proposition for you, but it would mean you would have to remain here."
"What proposition?" Cruger asked.
"We can discuss that once we get back to Harry's and Ginny's condo. I have a lot to explain first before I even tell you what the offer is."
No more then half an hour later Billy, Cruger and, Kat sat in the Potters living room sipping tea as Billy explained his idea to them.
"So you're saying that the government is starting a Power Rangers Academy and they need somebody to run it."
"And this Daggeron and Leanbow you mentioned in order for the government to get their support want someone who will not misuse a team of Rangers for their own ends," added Kat.
"That's basically it," said Billy. "After all the power is neither good nor evil. Only the people who assume the power can use them for either one."
"This is true," Cruger admitted. "If I was put in charge of this academy for Rangers I could do great harm if I was to misuse them."
"Precisely," said Billy.
"I do have a question," said Kat. "What will your government do or say about aliens on this planet. Not to mention the general populace?"
"Well I did mention earlier that the government has issued a kind of blanket statement that welcomes aliens of all kinds."
"What about the population?" Surely they're not all for this major change?" asked Cruger.
"Well, most of the populace; seem to be okay with it. A small percentage however, is protesting."
"That's to be expected," Kat admitted. "Some people just don't like change."
"Yeah well, let's just hope it doesn't lead to major trouble for aliens and the government sometime in the future," said Billy sounding cynical. "So what do you think about the offer?"
"I don't know," Cruger admitted. "It sounds intriguing I'll admit, but—"
"Doggie," said Kat placing a hand gently on Cruger's arm. "Where do you have to go? Your home planet is destroyed and you are the only one of your species left. You've been looking for a purpose for months now, perhaps this is it."
Cruger looked at Kat then back at Billy who sat patiently waiting.
"What assurances do we have that if we show ourselves to the government we won't immediately be imprisoned or killed?"
"If you want assurances I'm sure I could arrange something with the government, for the President to give you assurances himself. I can't promise anything myself for I don't work for the government and never will. I do, however, know someone in the government that could set it up."
"Well—" Cruger seemed unsure, which was a very unusual occurrence for him.
"I for one hope you decide to stay," said Billy. "The human race as a whole could learn a lot from different species. They would come to accept that there is other intelligent life in the galaxy and that we are not alone in the universe. Maybe people would even learn to accept that being different is not a bad thing. Of course I can't say it won't be dangerous sometimes."
Both Kat and Cruger, had a feeling that what Billy; was talking about himself sometime in the past. That people treating anyone different from themselves was something personal in his own life. Both got the impression that Billy had been bullied a lot when he was younger. Those kind of events tended to leave an impression on your psyche, even decades later. It either made you stronger or it destroyed your self-esteem. It looked as through Billy had grown stronger from all the trials he had had to endure growing up.
"Well I accept your proposal so long your government does what it says it is going to do."
"Understood." said Billy.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door of the condo and Ginny poked her head in the den door. "Would you mind waiting upstairs while we see who is at the front door?"
"A good idea," admitted Cruger.
He and Kat rose and headed up the stairs that were just off the living room.
"What about me?" Billy asked.
"You can stay if you want," said Ginny. Her head then disappeared out of the den door as she headed to join Harry any whoever their guest was in the hallway.
"Remus!" exclaimed Ginny in pleasure as she saw whom had been at their apartment door. "It's so good to see you," she added giving him a kiss on the cheek.
"You as well Ginny," said Remus with a smile, one that lit up his whole face.
Remus had changed a great deal from when Harry had been growing up. Ever since he had accepted his old school buddy's James Potter's offer to live with him, his wife Lily and their four children he had grown healthier. There was no extra gray in his light brown hair and with three meals a day he had gained considerable weight. He was by no means overweight, but he was no longer quite as painfully thin as he had been almost eight years ago.
"Why don't you come and sit down," said Harry.
"I'm not interrupting anything am I?" asked Remus.
"Of course not," said Harry.
"Nothing that can't wait a few minutes anyway," added Ginny.
"Besides you know you are always welcome here Uncle Remus no matter how busy we are," said Harry.
"So what brings you here?" asked Ginny. "No that we aren't always happy to see you, it's just we had company."
"Who?" asked Remus, curiously.
"No one you know," said Harry. "Although, you might have heard me mention him occasionally. His name is Billy Cranston."
Remus was quiet for a long moment as he thought about all the conversations he had had with Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione since they had joined the Justice League. If he remembered rightly Billy Cranston's name had popped up in several of them. He was one of the original Power Rangers if he remembered. What color he couldn't recall offhand.
Even the wizarding world had heard of the Power Rangers and the Justice League, at least those who paid attention to the Muggle world had. Remus admitted that when he had first heard of the Power Rangers he had thought the newsman more then slightly insane, but he had then caught another news report while sitting in a Muggle pub nursing a beer.
Once he had reasoned then might have been a hoax, twice a mistake and three times by the same station damn near impossible
A few days after he had seen that news report he had seen another one. He had been walking past a Muggle store with TV's in the window when he had heard the news announcer say: And now we have yet another story on the mysterious Power Rangers.
He remembered turning and staring at one of the screens as the footage came on screen.
Well here was the proof right in front of his eyes. As impossible as it had seemed at the time the Power Rangers did exist and now he was about to meet one of the first chosen.
His thoughts were interrupted when they approached the den door and Remus began to feel almost like a school boy who was overcome with excitement. It was true most of the wizarding world shunned the Muggle one and not because of laws preventing it, but just because most wizards had no interest outside their own little world. That wasn't true however, in some cases like his. For as long as he could remember he had always been fascinated in the Muggle world and had learned much about it from his years of wandering. Now he was about to meet someone he admired. It was true he could do magic, but in his humble opinion that was why he was so intrigued by heroes. Most heroes had no magic to protect them and yet they still risked their lives on an almost daily basis without that protection. To Remus that made them fascinating.
Harry had opened the while Remus was lost in thought and as it creaked open he came back to himself.
"Billy," said Harry. "I would like you to meet Remus Lupin, my uncle. Uncle Remus, meet Billy Cranston."
"It's a pleasure to meet you Mr. Cranston," said Remus.
"You as well Mr. Lupin, and call me Billy, Mr. Cranston makes me sound old and I'm only 27."
"And you can call me Remus."
"Remus, unusual name," Billy commented. "You wouldn't happen to be named for the twins Romulus and Remus who helped found Rome?"
Remus chuckled. "I am actually. My mother had a love for Latin as well as irony, I'm afraid and with the last name Lupin she just couldn't resist."
"Lupin," Billy moved for a moment his blue eyes lighting up in understanding. "Ah, Latin for wolf and considering Romulus and Remus were supposedly raised by a wolf—"
"Precisely," said Remus surprised at Billy's immediate understanding.
As they had been talking Remus had been studying Billy covertly. Billy was a very intelligent and articulate young man and he actually kind of reminded Remus of himself. The only difference being Billy had never been as much of an outcast as he had been. He supposed all humans whether Muggle or wizard were outcasts in their own way.
Some for their intelligence, others for the way they dressed and yet others for just being different from what society considered normal. The list was endless.
"It's nice to see you two getting along," said Harry dryly as he and Ginny brought tea from the kitchen,
"Sorry if I've been monopolizing the conversation," Billy apologized. "I'll just go. We can finish our conversation another time," he added rising.
"You don't have to leave," said Remus. "I only came to tell you Harry that your brother Sirius wanted me to remind you that he has a Quidditch game this weekend and that you promised him you'd be there."
"I remember," said Harry. "Was Si afraid I'd forget?"
"You do tend to get busy, Harry," Remus reminded him gently, with a smile, "Whether with the Justice League or something else. You missed several games last year due to Justice League business that you promised your brother you'd be there for."
Harry blushed in embarrassment and muttered, "Yeah I know. I told him I'd make it up to him."
"You can by being there for this one," said Remus.
"I'll write Si and tell him I'll be there," Harry promised.
"Good," said Remus. "There is one other thing I came to talk to you about. Your parents' anniversary is next week."
Harry started in surprise then did rapid calculations in his head. It only took him moments to realize the Remus was right.
"You'd forgotten hadn't you?" asked Remus with a raised eyebrow and a twinkle in his hazel eyes.
"It had slipped my mind," Harry admitted. "And anyway what do you think I have you for? You never forget anything," he teased.
"It's my gift, but also my curse," said Remus, only half jokingly. The problem with having a good memory Remus had found was that you remembered everything as clear as the day it happened, both good and bad
"Harry, Ginny, I hate to say this, but I really must be going," said Billy glaring at his watch, but then almost immediately looking away in resignation for the hands of the watch face were spinning out of control. It had to do with all the magic in the air at the places where wizards lived and worked. Magic tended to make ordinary electronics go haywire.
"I tend to forget what magic does to ordinary electronics," said Billy dryly. "It looks like I'm going to have to buy myself a new watch when I get back to Reefside."
"I'm sorry about that," said Ginny glancing at Billy's misbehaving watch.
"Not your fault. If I blame anyone, it's myself, for my poor memory. It's not the first new watch I've had to buy due to me forgetting to take it off when I get involved with magic and it more then likely won't be the last. I really must be going however; Hayley is expecting me home for dinner."
"How are you going to get there in time?" asked Remus. "If I'm not mistaken Reefside is in America. That's a long way away by plane."
"I'm not going by plane," Billy told Remus. "Why waste time on a plane, not to mention the cost when there are faster and cheaper ways to get where you need to be?"
"Such as?" asked Remus intrigued.
"Teleportation," said Billy.
"What's teleportation?" asked Remus.
"As I understand it, your way of getting from place to place quickly is Apparating, correct?"
When Remus nodded Billy continued, "Well teleportation in many ways is very similar to Apparation. It's a ways of turning the body into molecules then reassemble them at there destination. All you need is a set of coordinates and the right equipment."
"Ah," said Remus. "I wonder why I never heard of this invention."
"Because, it's really only used by Power Rangers at least on this planet. It was introduced to us by our original mentor Zordon and his assistant Alpha 5. Zordon was an alien from a planet known as Eltar. Eltar's technology is much more advanced then ours so I've built my own teleporter to use for different purposes and it sure does cut down on the expense of flying."
Billy's eyes had crinkled briefly in grief when he had mentioned Zordon and Alpha that made Remus assume they were dead. Although, Remus didn't know it, his assumption was right on the money.
"Do you have to go?" asked Harry.
"Afraid so," said Billy. "But you know how to get in touch with me if you have to. I'm only a communications away."
"I'll see you out," Harry offered.
"I hope we'll meet again Remus," said Billy shaking th other man's hand. "I really mean that."
"I hope we do as well," said Remus. "Meeting you has been an honor. I hope we can be friends. I do not have many friends outside the wizarding world. Not with many people whether wizard or Muggle can I just be myself."
"I understand completely," said Billy.
Both Harry and Billy rose and after Billy had given Ginny a friendly kiss on the cheek he and Harry disappeared.
"What about Kat and Cruger upstairs?" asked Harry as soon as they were out of earshot of the den.
It wasn't that Harry didn't trust Remus, he did, but Remus was also a practical man and he had a lot to absorb right now. There was no point in giving him so much information that he had trouble absorbing it.
"I'll be back," Billy promised.
"Okay," Harry agreed knowing they really couldn't do anything anyway with Remus in the same building. "Say hi to Hayley for me will you? Both of you are welcome back here at any time."
"Thanks Harry," said Billy. "You'll be seeing a lot of me in the near future. As you mentioned just a few minutes ago we've got Cruger and Kat to get settled."
"So you're going to talk to Leanbow and Daggeron?" asked Harry.
"Yes," said Billy. "I think Cruger would be perfect for the job. From what I have observed of him he seems brave and honest, a true warrior. I don't think he would misuse a resource like a team of Rangers. I have no doubt both Leanbow and Daggeron will approve of them."
Okay, you make the arrangements then contact me and we'll set up a meeting," said Harry.
"Okay," Billy agreed shaking Harry's hand. "Until we meet again my friend."
"Until we meet again," Harry repeated as he watched Billy walk a little ways away then push a button on a device around his wrist. He then disappeared in a streak of light.
Remus watched as Billy disappeared in a blue streak of light from the window of Harry's condo and marveled. It was true, real magic could do many marvelous things, but so could technology. In many way magic and technology were equal, but in others both were sadly lacking and yet others magic was way ahead of technology and vice versus of course.
"Pretty amazing sight, hm?" asked Ginny.
"Yes, yes it is," Remus said still gazing into the sky where the streak of blue light had disappeared.
"I remember the first time I saw him teleport. I think I thought then, before I knew any better that it must be magic."
All Remus could do was nod for he was still staring at the sky though Billy's teleport beam had long since disappeared into the distance.
The next day Billy teleported to Briarwood and then stepped through the tree that was a portal for certain people to the Mystic Realm. He was one of the few, that was not a resident of that dimension, to be able to use it.
He reappeared outside the headquarters of the Mystic Force. "Hello? Anyone home?" called Billy.
"Yes, come on in Billy," came the voice of Clare.
"Are Leanbow and Udonna home?" asked Billy as he entered the room that was on the ground floor of Rootcore.
"No, but they should be back shortly," said Clare. "Why don't you take a seat and I'll bring you some tea."
"Thanks, Clare, I appreciate it."
"No problem, Billy," Care assured him blushing. She had, had a crush on the former Ranger from the very first time she had met him. Much to her dismay she had soon discovered he was married and therefore off limits. She had sighed in disappointment, but had known then that he would never be hers. Although she knew he was married that didn't stop her heart from beating just a little faster whenever she saw him, but she would have to suffer her crush in silence.
"So, I guess you can't tell me why you want to talk to Uncle Leanbow?"
"It's not that I can't discuss it Clare. It's just I would rather talk it over with them first. No offence."
"None taken," said Clare blushing again. Billy was just one of those people it was almost impossible to get mad at and if you did manage to get mad at him it was impossible to stay so.
They sat in silence for a few minutes sipping tea put of delicate china cups, until Clare rose to go refill hers. "Can I get you some more?" Clare asked Billy as he put his cup down on the coffee table.
"No thanks," said Billy politely. Clare blushed again as he turned his blue eyes in her direction. She couldn't seem to help herself. Whenever Billy spoke to her or even so much as looked in her direction she blushed. She'd have to learn to control it though before someone not as oblivious as Billy noticed and figured out why. She would be so embarrassed then she would probably never get over it.
Clare turned away before Billy could see her embarrassment and returned to her seat across from his, after her blush had faded to where it wasn't quite as noticeable. They sat in silence for a while and before Clare could get up the courage to start up the conversation again Leanbow and Udonna walked into the room hand in hand.
"Ah, Billy, welcome to our home," said Udonna in pleasure as she saw him and Clare sitting in the living room area. "I hope you haven't been waiting long."
"Not to long," said Billy rising to his feet out of politeness and because he respected Leanbow and Udonna.
"I hope it wasn't too important?" asked Leanbow.
Billy shook his head. "No, if it had been I would have contacted you over the communicator," said Billy as he looked at Clare.
Udonna noticing the subtle hint said, "Clare, would you mind going out into the forest and see if you can find any edible mushrooms? We are out."
"Of course, Udonna," said Clare, with good humor, knowing when she was being got rid of.
"Now, what is it you wanted to talk to us about?" asked Leanbow sitting down on the love seat with his wife.
"Well," said Billy nervously. "I think, I might, have found someone to run that Ranger Academy. Someone you'll like, but—"
"But what?" Udonna asked.
"Well, they're a little unusual."
"In what way?" Leanbow asked.
"In the way, that they're actually aliens, as in from outer space."
Leanbow raised a questioning eyebrow and Billy explained, "You remember meeting Harry Potter and his wife?" When the older couple nodded he continued, "Well, them and their two friends saw what they thought was a shooting star soaring across the sky a few days ago. They checked it out and found out it was a crashed spaceship that looked like it had been in some kind of space battle. They managed to rescue the two aliens on board, both of whom seem very honest and honorable. The male, Cruger by name is a true warrior. I was contacted by Harry to come to England to see if I could do anything to fix their ship, which was in bad shape."
"Hmm," said Leanbow thoughtfully. "I think I would like to meet these aliens."
"I'm sure I could arrange something, but I must warn you that the male Anubis Cruger looks like a dog, except he stands on two paws and is intelligent. As for the female her name is Katherine Manx and she looks more human then Cruger. If not for the pointed catlike ears, two pointed teeth on either side of her upper lip and spots running down one side of her neck she could pass for human."
"They don't sound anymore unusual then any of the creatures in our world. Why don't we set us a meeting?"
"Okay," said Billy. "I'll do that. I really didn't expect you to react different, but what I worry about is this. How is the rest of the world going to react to aliens actually being among us?"
"This is true, but also you must consider what happened in this very town no more then a couple of years ago. Humans and the different beings from our world are living side by side in peace. Anyone who pays attention to the news, especially in the last two or three years should not be shocked at actual from outer space."
"This is true," said Billy. "And I sincerely hope you're right and someone doesn't try to assassinate them just for being different."
After a few more minutes of small talk Billy rose to leave.
"I hate to go, but I really shouldn't be gone from home to long with Hayley pregnant."
"How is your wife?" asked Udonna.
"She's fine," said Billy wryly. "She's insisting she keep working until the very last month. She says she'd be bored out of her mind just staying at home. I can sympathize, but that doesn't mean I don't worry that she's overdoing it."
"Of course you do," said Udonna. "Worrying is only natural, but Hayley is also used to being independent and doesn't need you hovering over her. You'll only make her more stressed out then she already is."
Billy nodded after he had thought about Udonna's words and decided perhaps she was right. Maybe he had been just a little overprotective.
"What do you suggest?" Billy asked Udonna.
"Just lay off a little, and quit hovering so much," Udonna advised. "There are other ways to show you care without that."
"I know and you're right," admitted Billy. "I'll try and take your advice. Now I really must be going."
"You're welcome back here anytime," Leanbow said rising from his position on the love seat and shaking Billy's hand.
"Thanks, I appreciate it," said Billy turning and heading out the mouth of the lizard that made up the entrance of Rootcore.
It was several days later when Billy teleported to a park in London close to the Potters condo. He and Harry had been in contact over the last few days and plans had been going forward with Cruger's agreement to stay on Earth if the government was agreeable.
"Hey Billy," called Harry as he approached the bench that his friend was sitting on. The bench was no more then 30 feet from his beam in point, which was a small patch of woods just a little distance away. Hardly anyone ever went in those woods so it was a relatively safe place for teleportation beams.
"Hi Harry," said Billy returning his friend's greeting rising from the park bench. They shook hands then headed out of the park together. The meeting was again to take place at the Potters condo for it wasn't like Cruger or Kat could actually go out in public or at least not yet.
No more then a ten minute walk later Harry holding onto Billy's arm led him into the building that held his condo. As soon as they were inside Harry released his friends arm and both headed upstairs using what looked like an escalator, except it was magic.
Harry unlocked the apartment door using a very complicated unlocking spell and both men headed inside.
"Ginny we're back," Harry called at he closed the front door.
"Oh good, Harry I was beginning to worry," said Ginny as Harry and Billy entered the den where the two aliens were waiting.
"Sorry If I worried you, Ginny," said Harry.
"Hi Billy," said Ginny after giving her husband a kiss.
"Hi," said Billy. "It's all set," he added turning to Cruger and Kat. "I talked to Leanbow and Udonna and they want to meet with you whenever it is convenient."
""Well, it's not like we have anything else to do," said Kat wryly. "We can't go outside and staying in is starting to drive us a little crazy."
"I can understand that," said Billy.
"So, where is the meeting to take place?" asked Cruger.
"Well, Leanbow and Udonna would prefer it take place in their home in the Mystic Realm, which is in the forest right outside of Briarwood California."
"How far is that?" asked Cruger.
"Over 5000 miles, across the Atlantic Ocean," said Billy.
Kat whistled in surprise. "That's some distance. How are going to get there without being seen?"
"That's easy," said Billy with confidence. "The same way I get to London and back home again. We'll teleport. It's faster, easier, and cheaper. If we do that way you won't be seen until we get to Briarwood and then it won't matter if you are."
"Why not?" asked Kat in curiosity.
"It's easier to show you when we get there then to explain," said Billy with a mysterious twinkle in his eyes. "You'll understand once we're actually there."
"So when is this meeting to take place?" asked Cruger.
"Anytime you want."
"What about tomorrow?" Cruger asked.
"That's fine," said Billy. They set a time and Billy said goodbye. "I'll see you tomorrow," he said before he teleported.
"Bye Billy," said Ginny as Billy disappeared.
The next day
Billy arrived back at the Potters' condo to find both Kat and Cruger ready and waiting for him, dressed in different clothes. Both were wearing pants and light long sleeve shirts. The clothes looked kind of funny to Billy who was used to seeing them in the clothes they had arrived in, but this way they wouldn't stick out quite as much, at least not when they got to Briarwood.
"Ready to go? Good," said Billy when he saw they were. "Here take these," he added handing over two communicators just like the one he was wearing.
"What are these?"
"Communicators just like the ones me and the other original Rangers used to use back in the day. They also act as a teleportation device. The only difference between these and the old ones is that these give off a stronger signal. I've improved them over the years."
"You built these?" asked Kat admiringly as she studied the communicator Billy had handed her.
"From scratch," said Billy. "I was only 14 when I built the first ones. I had only meant the originals to be communicators. A fast way for Zordon and Alpha to contact us when need be. I soon realized I had tapped into the Command Center's teleportation unit as well, totally by accident I might add." The last was said wryly. "It sure did cut down the time it would have taken for us to get wherever the trouble was then if we had, had to run or walk."
"That's quite an accomplishment for someone of just 14," said Kat studying the communicators again.
"Thanks," said Billy blushing at the compliment. "We really must be going however, Leanbow and Udonna are expecting us. We don't want to be late."
Both Kat and Cruger put the communicators around their wrists and Billy said, "Just press the left button. The coordinates are already set. These watches can be set for up to ten different destinations at the same time. They're much more advanced then the originals."
With those words Billy pushed the left button at disappeared in a blue streak of light. A few seconds later both Kat and Cruger did the same and disappeared in two white streaks.
All three streaks crossed the ocean at incredible speed to land in Briarwood, California. When the teleport beam surrounding them faded, all three looked around.
"Right on target," Billy said approvingly. They had landed in an alley, the one right beside the Rock Porium as it happened. It was the one Billy always used for the purpose. For one thing, it was close to the portal that was the shortcut to the Mystic realm. Actually that wasn't exactly true. Any tree could be a portal to the Mystic Realm. The one just across from the Rock Porium was just the one normally used for the music store was where the Rangers worked.
"There is one thing I need to tell you," said Billy. "You see that tree across the street there?"
When Cruger and Kat nodded, he continued. "That tree is actually a shortcut into the Mystic Realm, but if you do not believe it is a shortcut then you will not be able to use it. You see people must believe in magic to make it work. If you don't, then it will be just an ordinary solid tree."
"If it doesn't work for us?" asked Kat, somewhat doubtful of Billy's explanation. Though to be truthful, she had found out recently that magic did not only exist, but that it was an active part in some lives on this planet. So who was to say that a tree couldn't be a doorway to a world that should by all rights not exist at all?
"Then we'll take the long route," said Billy.
"Let's give it a try," said Cruger, not quite as disbelieving as Kat for he had seen many strange things in his life, things that couldn't necessarily be explained by science or technology.
Billy nodded and led the way out into the open. Both Kat and Cruger looked around warily, expecting the people of this town to recoil at the sight of aliens, but to their surprise they saw humans and what looked like aliens mingling together freely.
"Didn't I tell you it was better to show you than try to explain?" said Billy with a smile and laughter in his eyes.
"What is this?" asked Kat.
"Ah, these aliens are from the Mystic Realm I was telling you about. In Briarwood, humans and aliens mix freely. That's the main reason why I believe that the government idea to build a Ranger Academy will work. Anybody who watches the news is aware of what is going on in this town and of the changes that are coming. I'm sure that a lot of them are also aware that eventually we'll need laws to protect both humans and aliens. The people from Briarwood and the Mystic Realm mixing freely like this is the first step towards that long distance goal."
"This is true," said Cruger thoughtfully, as he looked around at the humans and aliens coexisting peacefully together. To him it was a very encouraging sight. He only wished all people on all planets could get along like this.
"Here we are," said Billy, stopping in front of a tree. "Now all you have to do is step into it and trust that the portal is there."
Cruger walked forward first and calmly stepped towards the tree. He almost instantly disappeared. It was as if he had just been swallowed whole. Kat gulped and reluctantly followed. After they were gone, Billy followed as well.
They reappeared outside of Rootcore.
Billy turned to the two aliens and said, "Welcome to Rootcore." He gestured at the giant head that had its mouth open.
"What is this? A giant head of some kind of reptile?" asked Kat in astonishment.
"A dragon actually. There is only one existing dragon, now anyway. His name is Fireheart." Billy tapped on the dragon's head. "Anybody home?" he called.
"Come on in, Billy," called a male voice. "You and your friends are always welcome here."
"We can go in now," Billy told his two companions.
All three entered the two aliens apprehensively unsure what their reception was going to be.
"Welcome to my home," said Leanbow as the three entered what Billy had named a combination living room, kitchen, and laboratory.
"Thanks," said Billy. "Leanbow, Daggeron, these are the two aliens I told you about, Katherine Manx and Anubis Cruger."
"It's a pleasure to meet you," said Leanbow politely as he covertly studied Cruger. Leanbow liked what he saw not only in Cruger's posture, which was military straight, but in his eyes, he saw an honesty and forthrightness that you couldn't say about very many people.
"Why don't we all sit down?" said Daggeron speaking for the first time.
They all sat down, Leanbow and Daggeron waiting until their guests were seated, before sitting down themselves. They made small talk for a few minutes and Leanbow asked both aliens' subtle questions designed to draw out answers about their backgrounds without the two being aware of it. Finally both Leanbow and Daggeron seemed satisfied with both Cruger's and Kat's answers and relaxed a little.
"Is the questioning over?" asked Cruger dryly after a few minutes of silence.
"Were we that obvious?" asked Daggeron in astonishment.
"No, you weren't actually. Let's just say I am familiar with being questioned. You're better at it then most I've known."
"No offense meant."
"Don't worry about it. No harm done. It's all for a good cause."
Leanbow looked approving for warriors that were quick to anger tended to make poor warriors and especially poor commanders. After those words the whole atmosphere of the room lightened considerably and everybody relaxed and made small talk for a while.
"Do you have any place to stay?" Leanbow asked suddenly as conversation lagged.
"No, we don't," said Kat. "We were staying with the Potters in a city called London."
"Harry and his friends were the ones that found their ship had crashed out on the moor," said Billy.
"Ah, yes. We have met Mr. Potter at one of Bruce's parties," said Leanbow
"The very first one he held when we joined the Justice League if I remember correctly," Daggeron added.
"Anyway," said Leanbow. "As I was saying, you are welcome to stay with me and my wife Udonna and my niece Clare won't mind."
"I don't want to infringe on your family's hospitality," said Cruger.
"I wouldn't have made the offer if I minded," Leanbow said. "You are welcome to stay with my family. At least until you can talk to the government."
"We will and thank you," said Kat. "We really appreciate this."
"And although the Potters were nice enough to give us a place to stay for a few days we couldn't go outside the apartment they lived in and we were beginning to go a little crazy from being cooped up."
"Understandable," said Daggeron.
"At least here you'll be able to get out and look around the town. Here you won't stick out since there are others from the Mystic Realm that look more unusual than you."
"That's my point exactly," said Cruger. "Although it was nice of the Potters to let us stay with them, being unable to go out made us feel more like prisoners then guests, even though both of us know it was a necessary precaution."
After that the conversation turned to other topics after awhile Billy rose to leave. "I'm afraid I must be going."
""Thank you Billy for, everything," said Cruger also rising. Both man shook hands. "You have done more for us then you had to and for that I thank you."
""We'll see each other again," said Billy as he turned to go. "I'll see you later Leanbow, Daggeron, tell Udonna and Clare I said hello."
"Of course," said Leanbow. "You are welcome back here anytime."
"Thanks, you're in good hands," said Billy to the two aliens disappearing out the entrance of Rootcore.
The next day
The two FBI agents Tulley and Peterson arrived at the Cranston's house in Reefside, the day after Billy had contacted them.
"You wanted to see us?" asked Peterson after Hayley had answered the door and let them in.
"Yes, I did," said Billy as they all took seats in the living room. The living room was fairly large with a couch against one wall, two armchairs and a coffee table in between. "First off, I wanted to know how building the Ranger Academy is going."
"Fairly well actually. The main part is almost completed. All that's left is the students' wings," said Tulley.
The building of the Ranger Academy had been going onto close to seven years before Billy had even heard about it. The project had been top secret at least until it was for enough along that it was safe to reveal to the public. "Good, then you are almost ready to receive your first students."
"Is that all you wanted?"
"No, I really wanted to tell you that I think I might have found someone to run the Ranger Academy."
"But?" asked Tulley who could hear a, but coming a mile away.
"But," Billy continued. "They are rather unusual."
"In what way?" Peterson asked.
"Before I tell you I want your word that no harm will come to them at the government's hands."
Both Tulley and Peterson looked at each other and although Billy couldn't tell, the exact message that passed between them he could guess.
"All right, Mr. Cranston. We'll give you our word that nothing will happen to this candidate of yours if we can do anything to prevent it," said Tulley. "That's the best we can do since we can't control every aspect of the government or the people that work for it," Tulley added.
Billy nodded satisfied. "All right, my candidates are actually aliens from outer space by the names of Anubis Cruger and Kat Manx."
Briefly looking at the two agents' shocked faces, Billy went onto explain how friends of his had noticed what looked like a shooting star in the sky one night and had then gone to check it out finding the spaceship with the two aliens on board injured but alive. "The ship itself was a real mess. The hull where the bridge was located was caved in and there were several long burnt tears near the rear on the hull. I guessed it had recently been in some kind of space battle and Cruger confirmed it."
"So what makes you think this Cruger is a good choice for the job?"
"I told you recently that Leanbow and Daggeron would support your project and help you out only if they had a say in who was put in charge of it once it began accepting students remember?"
"Yes, we remember," said Peterson.
"Well as it happens Leanbow and Daggeron have met them and both approve of them. If Cruger is put in charge then I think you'll have their support which is what you wanted in the first place if I remember our earlier conversation correctly."
"You do," said Tulley looking at Peterson. "We'll have to check with the President and get his approval. When the President proposed this project I don't think he actually thought of aliens running it."
"Who knows he might have," said Peterson. "After all how do we know?"
"You do that," said Billy. "You discuss it with the President and if he wants to meet them it can be arranged."
"Yes," said Tulley thoughtfully. "I'm sure the President will want to meet both of them. He will want to see for himself these aliens."
"I thought he might," said Billy.
"So when can we meet them?" asked Tulley.
"Now if you like. I brought them here from London where they were staying with the members of the JLA that found the ship and no I won't tell you their names," said Billy, seeing Peterson about to speak. "For one thing they asked me not to, for another you've never heard of them anyway."
Billy was careful not to mention names when he told the two agents to basically mind their own business. Harry had asked that he and his friends remain anonymous. Billy had agreed because he understood that the wizarding world wanted to keep as low a profile as possible. It was better if the world did not know they're witches and wizards living among them. Both agents after Billy's speech knew better then to ask any questions, for if Billy had promised his friends not to mention any names then he wouldn't. Both assumed that whatever Justice League members had found the ship wanted to remain unknown for whatever reason.
"How did you get them from London to Reefside without causing a riot? I mean it's not as if they could get on a plane without causing a commotion, especially if they are unusual looking."
"Oh trust me, they are very unusual looking. As for how I got them from there to here without being seen, well let's just say that's my secret."
Both Tulley and Peterson exchanged another look. Both thinking the same thing: Teleport beam. If their information was correct and Billy was the original Blue Ranger then doing that time all the Rangers had teleported everywhere who was to say Billy couldn't have recreated the technology he had had more than four years to study. After all Billy was a genius at least according to the reports they'd read.
There were certain factions in the government would love to get their hands on such technology both agents knew, but it wouldn't happen if the President had any say in the matter, not to mention the Power Rangers. Anyone who got their hands on that kind of advanced technology could cause untold damage if it was used wrongly with evil intent in mind. It was better if teleporter technology didn't become widespread at least not until the human race was a little bit more ready to handle it.
"Anyway, I'll go get them for you. They're waiting upstairs."
Billy rose and went out the kitchen door which swung shut behind him. No more than five minutes later, Billy reappeared with Cruger and Kat in tow. Both agents blinked in surprise at seeing a blue skinned dog with pointed ears, standing upright, walking on two paws and a lady with pointed catlike ears and two teeth that looked like fangs on either side of her mouth.
Both agents rose out of politeness. "It's nice to meet both of you," said Tulley. The statement seemed to be genuinely meant as far as either alien could tell after the two agents' initial shock at seeing such strange creatures.
After the introductions were over they all got down to business. After only a few minutes, both Kat and Cruger felt a sense of destiny looming over them, though that wasn't entirely true. Both Kat and Cruger had felt like they were meant to be on this planet, practically from the moment they had been introduced to Billy, was it just their imaginations or was destiny sometimes a tangible thing? So tangible that they could practically feel it to the marrow of their bones?
It didn't matter. They would stay on this planet as long as they were welcome. Cruger for one had no home to return to thanks to Emperor Grumm. As for Kat she would stay with her friend for as long as he would have her. And that was the way it would always be.
"Ready?" Daggeron asked his wife, Zatanna. Both of them were standing in a small clearing in the Mystic Realm not far from Rootcore, where the wedding of Zatanna and Daggeron was to take place. The ceremony at Briarwood's City Hall had already taken place just a few days ago, and they were now legally married, but only in the human world. So now it was time for the Mystic Realm to take place.
"Of course," said Zatanna, giving him a kiss. "I've already married you once after all. What's once more?" she said, touching his bearded cheek tenderly.
Daggeron smiled and kissed his wife's hand gallantly. "I'll be waiting for you," he said, giving her one last kiss before turning and disappearing into the forest so silently it was as if he had never been there at all.
A few minutes later, Daggeron and Zatanna stood side by side in front of Leanbow with all their friends, sitting in conjured chairs just behind. When Daggeron and Zatanna had said they didn't want many guests, they had meant it. The only people that were the ones they were closest to. Udonna, Clare, Nick, Madison, Vida, Xander, Chip, Bruce, Diana, Billy, Hayley, Cruger, Kat, Tommy and Kimberly were the only ones that had been invited.
Weddings in the Mystic Realm were somehow different from the ones in the human world. For one thing no rings were exchanged like was the human world's custom. Instead as couples exchanged vows, the magic that made the Mystic Realm what it was would come up to enfold the couple's wrists until they were linked by magic.
After a few minutes just after the final words of the ceremony were said, twin strands of golden light formed, wrapping around the couples wrists, and faded into their skin, leaving behind a faint gold band, bonding them in marriage. This bonding was an unusual one for one person was from the human world and the other was from the Mystic Realm, a match unheard of before now.
"I now pronounce you married until the magic or death decrees otherwise," announced Leanbow. Leanbow then looked up at the crowd. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I now introduce to you, Daggeron and Zatanna Zatara." The newlyweds only smiled.
The guests clapped, got up, and went over one by one to congratulate the couple.
Bruce Wayne was the first. "Congratulations you two. If anybody deserves some happiness, it's you."
"Yes, congratulations," said Diana. "We both wish you a very happy marriage."
"Thanks," said Zatanna.
"We appreciate it and are happy you could come."
"Are you kidding? I wouldn't have missed this for the world," said Diana. "I'm sure Bruce has told you. I love weddings."
"I believe he mentioned something of the sort several months ago," said Daggeron with a smile.
"So I did," said Bruce. "Anyway congratulations again. I'm very happy for both of you."
All four talked for a few more minutes. Then Bruce and Diana said their goodbyes and took their leave, promising to come and visit sometime soon.
It was well over a year since the defeat of the Master and several months since Cruger and Kat had come to stay at Rootcore. It was also several months since Daggeron's and Zatanna's Mystic Realm wedding ceremony and Chip's knighthood training was finally complete. Normally training to be a knight took several years, but between defeating the Master and Chip learning a lot of the skills on his own, it hadn't taken as long to learn the rest of what was required.
Daggeron was quite proud of Chip and had told him so. Every compliment, Daggeron reflected, made Chip practically glow and work even harder. Not that there hadn't been a few bumps along the way, but on the whole Chip had been a joy to teach. The kind of student ever teacher, no matter the subject wished they had. And now today was to be Chip's entrance into the world of Knighthood.
The actual ceremony was to take place tomorrow at dawn, but starting at sundown the traditional vigil began. Then the night after the ceremony there was to be a feast, which was also traditional.
Half the population of not only the Mystic Realm, but Briarwood would be in attendance including Chip's family. At least Daggeron hoped Chip's family was going to be there although he wasn't sure if they would be or not.
Daggeron had never met Chip's family or the family of the other Mystic Force Rangers either, excluding Nick of course, since Nick's family was Leanbow and Udonna. He had never met Nick's adoptive parents, at least not formally. As for Chip's family he was apprehensive at best at the idea of meeting them if they were coming that is, although Daggeron wasn't so sure that they were. From what he knew, Chip only had one parent and two siblings, a brother and a sister, both younger. Chip hadn't said much about his father who had left when he had been no more then eight. The pain in Chip's voice when he had talked about his father was obvious and made Daggeron ache for his young friend. As long as his father wasn't mentioned Chip was always cheerful and enthusiastic about life in general.
"Are you ready to join the ranks of knights of the Mystic Realm?" Daggeron asked Chip.
"You bet," said Chip excitedly. "I've been looking forward to this ever since you started training me. It's been something I've wanted all my life, ever since I was about six and I first heard the stories about King Arthur."
Daggeron smiled at his student's excitement. "Well your dream is about to come true and I know you will bring honor to the knights of the Mystic Realm."
"I will try not to bring shame to Leanbow or to you. I will always remember what you taught me about honor and doing the right thing no matter the personal cost."
"I might have re-enforced those lessons," Daggeron told Chip quietly putting a hand on his shoulder, "But you already had learned them on your own. I know you will never bring shame on the name of knighthood, unlike Calindor." When Daggeron said the name of Leanbow's other former student and his former friend his voice was sad.
"I don't know precisely when it happened, but Calindor begin to resent Leanbow, the training and me as well. Instead of taking the values of knighthood to heart, he did the exact opposite and began to misuse the skills Leanbow had taught him."
"I know," said Chip now placing a hand on his teacher's shoulder. "And I swear upon my honor to always be true to what you have taught me."
"As long as you are always true to yourself as well," said Daggeron, barricading the memories about his former friend away behind and impenetrable barrier.
"I'll try to be," Chip promised.
"I know you will," said Daggeron. "I have confidence in you."
Chip glowed at Daggeron's words, for his teacher and friend very rarely gave them. They had to be truly earned. "Thanks for that."
"Come on my friend. Go enjoy your last day of freedom, before you enter into a world of responsibility. Just make sure to come to Rootcore at least an hour before sundown."
"I'll be there," Chip promised his expression serious and sober for once. "Will Bruce and Diana be there?"
"Of course," Daggeron assured his young student. "As will your family, Toby, and the other Mystic Force Rangers. I've already invited Bruce and his wife when I was in Gotham last month to see them about some business. Diana told me that both of them were looking forward to it."
"Good," said Chip. "I really like both of them a great deal."
"I do to," said Daggeron. "Now get going and spend some time with your friends."
"Yes sir," said Chip with a grin as he headed out of Daggeron's office and out of the building.
Udonna paused and looked at the name of the street. She had found out from Toby that Chip's family lived in a middleclass neighborhood. Chip was excited that he was finally going to be a knight for real, but when her husband Leanbow had broached the subject of Chip's family coming to the ceremony, Chip had gone quiet then said he didn't think they'd be able to make it. The look on the usually cheerful Yellow Ranger's face had been so sad, but resigned that it practically broke Udonna's mother's heart. She had decided then and there that she would pay Chip's family a visit and try to persuade them to attend, so here she was.
She rang the doorbell and it was almost immediately answered by a woman of medium height with red hair a shade or two darker then her son's.
"Yes may I help you?"
"Yes, you can. My name is Udonna." As she finished speaking Udonna saw a flicker of recognition that passed over the other woman's face as she said her name. "I've come to talk to you about your son Chip."
"Why don't you come in," said Jane after a moment.
"Thank you," said Udonna politely as she studied the other woman.
"What was it about Charlie that you wanted to discuss with me?" asked Jane immediately as soon as the front door closed and they had both taken a seat.
Udonna hid her surprise at hearing Chip, called Charlie, but then she thought about and she realized that Chip was probably just a nickname.
"Very well if you can be direct, so can I," Udonna said. "I wanted to request you come and Chip's brother and sister come to his knighthood ceremony."
"What?" asked Jane raising an eyebrow. "What usefulness is their in being a knight? It has no use in the real world."
"Is that all you believe in, the real world as you put it?" asked Udonna quietly. "The Mystic Realm is just as real as this one, and if not for the sacrifices made by the knights and magic users of my world over twenty years ago now, this world would no longer be as it was.
"My own sister died protecting your world for she believed that your world deserved to survive. If not for those who gave their lives so yours could be free and if not for the ancient Mystics and others all the people of this world and ours would either be dead or slaves."
"Maybe so," Jane conceded.
"No maybe about it," Udonna told the other woman gently. "Also if not for your son your world would be destroyed and whoever survived made slaves or killed. Being made a knight of the Mystic Realm is an honor and if you and his siblings are not there then you will break your son's heart. Becoming a knight is very important to him. I know for a fact that it is something he has always dreamed of being."
Udonna's words seemed to have an effect on Jane for she didn't respond for a long time seeming lost in thought.
"If you love your son, you'll come to his knighting ceremony just because it is important to him. It doesn't matter whether you believe in knights, or magical creatures. What matters is that you love your son and having you there for one of the most defining points of his life is what's important."
"She's right mom," said Tony coming down the stairs where he had been crouched at the very top, out of sight, listening. "We should all go, just because we love Chip. The rest doesn't matter."
"Very well, we'll be there," said Jane. "When is it?"
"In one week's time, Saturday morning at dawn."
"Dawn?" groaned Tony. "You expect me to be up at dawn? And on a Saturday?"
"Sorry, it is tradition to knight someone just as the sun is rising," said Udonna. "There is always a feast the same day as well, starting at sundown."
"A feast?" asked Tony, while thinking of all the food there was likely to be.
"That's one way to get him to come," said Jane dryly. "Just mention food."
"Mom," Tony protested, knowing it was true. "I'm a teenager I'm supposed to always be hungry."
"Yes, it does seem to be a normal occurrence among all teenagers," Jane said.
Udonna listened to the conversation, but as soon as there was break in it she stood up and said, "I really must be going. I will inform Chip that you will be coming after all."
"But wait, how are we supposed to get to where the ceremony is taking place, since I'm assuming it's going to take place in your world."
"I can ask Daggeron to escort you," said Udonna. "I know he'd be happy to do it. He'll meet you here half an hour before dawn."
"Very well," Jane agreed. "We'll be waiting."
"Good, I'll just be going then," said Udonna.
"Here I'll show you out," said Tony rising to his feet and heading towards the front door.
"Thank you Tony," said Udonna.
"You're welcome ma'am," said Tony politely. "I just want you to know that even if my mother hasn't noticed the changes in Chip, I have. He more confident and focused then he used to be and I know, I have you and the other Rangers to thank for that. I think being a Power Ranger is one of the best things that ever happened to him. I don't have to believe in magic to know it's been good for him."
Udonna looked at Tony's serious expression then said, "I think Chip is lucky to have family like you."
"Thanks," said Tony blushing at Udonna's words.
"Until we meet again young Tony," said Udonna.
"Until we meet again," Tony repeated solemnly and watched as Udonna walked a short distance away from the house then disappeared in a flash of white light.
Much later that same afternoon Chip appeared at Rootcore as instructed. As it always was when any one of the Mystic Force entered the Mystic Realm they were dressed in their Mystic clothes. There was a cape and dark leather vest with yellow stitching and under that a white shirt with some kind of design on it. He also wore just his normal jeans and tennis shoes.
"Ah Chip, welcome," said Leanbow, as chip entered Rootcore. "Ready too join the ranks of knights of the Mystic Realm?"
"You bet, I've been looking forward to it ever since Daggeron offered to train me."
Leanbow smiled at Chip's excitement for he could remember feeling the same many years ago when he had first been knighted as a young man.
"Well, you've earned it," said Leanbow. "Daggeron has told me of your progress and I have to say I couldn't be more pleased. You have earned this right though your values and hard work. You are one of the few in this day and age who value honor and truthfulness as a way of life."
"Thanks, it's nice to be appreciated."
"I'm sure your family appreciates you," said Leanbow.
"No, they just think I'm strange and weird for acting the way I do, especially my brother and sister. They think I'm nuts for putting my life on the line for total strangers and for believing that there is such a thing as magic, even when they've seen magic with their own eyes. I suppose they're more grounded in today's world then I've ever been," Chip finished with a shrug.
"You are to," Leanbow told him. "You just choose to believe that there are more things in this world then anyone has discovered. That makes you unique certainly, but no weirder then the rest of the world."
"Thanks for that," said Chip.
"Your brother and sister just don't understand, but that doesn't mean they don't love you just like you love them."
Chip nodded absorbing Leanbow's words, but remained silent. "Now you have your night of vigil to be concerned about and tomorrow your knighting ceremony."
"You're right, they'll either come around or they won't and that's the way it is," said Chip.
"Udonna left you some clothes in one of the guest bedrooms. Why don't I show you where so you can get dressed. You only have about half an hour before sundown to get ready."
Chip nodded again and followed Leanbow into the depths of the tree that was Rootcore.
Twenty minutes later Chip emerged dressed in different clothes then what he normally wore in the Mystic Realm or in Briarwood.
Udonna had made for him a white shirt that fit him like it had been made for him which it had, Chip reflected with wry humor. He also wore a blue vest embroidered with what looked like yellow lightning bolts, which was not only his magic power, but his color. He wore linen pants also in blue and they fit him to, but were loose enough to fight in if he had to. Knee boots completed the outfit. The boots were also dyed blue, but with small yellow lightning bolts down both sides and yellow embroidery at the top.
"Well I think my wife has outdone herself," said Leanbow as Chip came back into the main room of Rootcore.
"Yeah, she has. I don't think I've ever had anything this fine. I'm going to have to remember to thank her."
"She knows, Chip, she knows," Leanbow told him. "She told me once that she loves all of you like sons and daughters. You brought her hope when you agreed to defend not only your world from the forces of darkness, but this one. She is very proud of all of you, but especially you."
"What me? I have done nothing. At least not anything that anybody who knows the difference between right and wrong wouldn't have."
"That's not true, especially in today's world. Not many people would put themselves in danger to protect even one stranger, much less twenty billion of them. In that way you and the other Rangers stand out among your kind."
Chip blushed, a bright red up to his ears, but didn't respond.
"Come it is time for your vigil to begin," said Leanbow leading the way to the same glade that Bruce had spent his vigil in last year,
"Bowen and Bruce will stand guard outside this clearing just like you did for Bruce last year. He told me to tell you that he was honored you'd asked him."
"Who else was I going to ask? I suppose I could have asked Daggeron, but since he has been the one training me I didn't know whether that was ethical or not. Some people might have thought I chose him because he was my teacher."
"I think you made a wise choice and Daggeron understands why you didn't pick him. I'll see you at dawn." Leanbow finished speaking just as they arrived at the glade.
Chip nodded solemnly, shook Leanbow's hand then entered the glade just as the last rays of the sun were sinking, heralding the beginning of night and a long vigil till dawn.
Dawn arrived sooner than Chip expected it to for time seemed to pass faster then it had any right to. Before he knew it, dawn was lighting up the sky, Chip rose to his feet and walked towards the entrance to the clearing, just as Nick and Bruce appeared.
"Well I see you managed to stay awake the whole night," said Bruce humorlessly.
"Why are you surprised? You have done as others have down through the ages," said Chip, seriously with a half smile and a twinkle in his eyes.
"But I'm used to staying up all night when I'm working on a major case, you aren't," said Bruce.
"Well I managed," said Chip with a grin.
"So I see."
"Come on you two, we have to get going. Chip wouldn't want to be late for his own ceremony. This is going to be one of the most important days of his life," said Nick.
Bruce nodded and he and Nick proceeded to lead Chip to where the ceremony was to take place. Within minutes, they reached the spot in front of Rootcore. When they got there, Chip saw his friends waiting. There was Xander, Vida, Maddie, and Phineas as well as Diana, Superman, and Zatanna, Daggeron's new wife. They'd only been married a few weeks.
Standing off to one side was his mother and two siblings, who were there only because Udonna had gone and seen them and had told them that if they didn't come, they would break Chip's heart for his family meant everything to him. She had said some other things as well, but what they were no one could get out of her. All that she would say was that what she had said to Chip's mother, Mrs. Thorn, and his two siblings was between them and her alone. If Chip's family decided to reveal what Udonna had said to them that was their business and their privilege.
Leanbow was once again doing the ceremony, but this time Daggeron was standing beside his former teacher looking so proud that Bruce thought he would bust. Chip however, didn't seem to notice for he was too nervous to pay attention to anyone, but Leanbow.
"Who brings this man before me?" Leanbow intoned, standing in front of Rootcore.
"I do," said Daggeron, stepping forward so that he was now standing beside Leanbow instead of a few steps off to the side. "I vouch for his training and for his skills in battle, for I have seen him fight on many different occasions. Never giving up even when the odds were against him."
"And I do," said Udonna, also stepping forward from where she was standing. "I vouch for his honesty and his willingness to not only protect those he cares about, but total strangers."
"And I," said Nick, also stepping closer to Leanbow from where he had been standing. "Chip has shown more courage than twenty people for he has not only saved my life on more occasions then I care to recall but the lives of his fellow Rangers, and the city of Briarwood. I know him to be brave and loyal not only to his friends, but to people he has never met."
"Then bring him before me."
Chip walked forward a few paces then stopped Nick and Bruce a few steps behind him.
"What is the name of the man that comes before us to be knighted?"
"Charlie 'Chip' Thorn."
"Charlie 'Chip' Thorn, do you swear to uphold the vows of knighthood and principles? To protect the weak? To help whoever needs it, whether or not they request it of you? To always do your best to fight whatever evil you may encounter?"
"I do," said Chip, solemn for once in his life.
"Then kneel before me."
Chip kneeled and Leanbow drew his sword from its scabbard at his side, tapping Chip on both shoulders with the flat side of the blade.
"Charlie 'Chip' Thorn, you are now not only a knight of the Mystic Realm, but of your world as well. Do you accept these responsibilities as they have been given you?"
"I do," said Chip.
"Then rise and accept this sword not only as a token, but as a tool to be used to fight whatever evil you may encounter."
At Leanbow's words, Daggeron stepped forward and handed Chip a sword, in a scabbard that was dyed yellow, the same color as his Ranger costume.
Chip immediately put the sword on his belt at his right side.
"Everybody, there is to be a feast tonight, starting at sundown, not only to honor Chip, and his becoming a knight, but to celebrate all we have to be thankful for since the defeat of the Master over a year ago. Everyone is welcome to attend."
Most of the crowd cheered at this, but Chip's family looked uncomfortable. They had come to the ceremony because they loved Chip, but being around so many aliens and weirdness made them uneasy. All three of them were as different from Chip as day was from night. They had just seen Chip knighted like in all those stories and fairy tales. But knights didn't exist anymore, right? Wrong at least not in the Mystic Realm, for in this world not only making knights still practiced here, magic also existed.
Knights and magic didn't exist in their world as anything other than stories at least they had thought so until they had heard about the Power Rangers and then found out Chip was one of them almost shattered everything they believed was real.
"Charlie," said his mother, Jane Thorn.
"Yes, mom," said Chip, coming over. "Look, before you say anything," he added before his mother could speak. "I really appreciate you, Tony and Suzanne coming to my knighting ceremony. It was really important to me. I know that none of you believes in things like this."
"Charlie," said Jane, placing a hand on his cheek in a sign of affection. "I've never understood your fascination with vampires, magic, knights, and heroes, but just because I, and your siblings don't understand, doesn't mean we don't love you. I'm very proud of you and all you have accomplished. After all, you apparently saved our world from the ultimate evil and even though I don't understand how such evil could even exist and how you and your friends could stop it, that doesn't mean I'm not proud of you."
Chip blushed, a bright red at his mother's words and said after a moment, "Are you staying for the feast? I could introduce you to Daggeron and the others."
"I don't know. Your brother and sister might want to head home."
"I'll convince them to stay," said Chip.
"All right if they want to stay then we will," Jane promised her son and had the pleasure of seeing him light up.
"I'll go talk to them," said Chip. "And Mom, I love you, Tony and Suzanne. That's one of the reasons I became a Mystic Force Ranger in the first place. Not only to protect the world but for my family. What do you think would have happened to everybody if evil had won? Anyway I'll go talk to my brother and sister now."
Chip turned away and within seconds had disappeared into the crowd, leaving his mother staring after him.
"Tony, Suzanne, how did you like the ceremony?" asked Chip as he approached them where they were standing off to the side out of the rather large crowd for Chip was very popular and well liked in the Mystic Realm as were the other Rangers. They had saved it after as well as the human world from destruction.
"It was weird," Tony said.
"Yeah," Suzanne agreed. "I didn't think knights actually existed in this day and age. Not real ones anyway."
"Well, now you know," said Chip.
"Hey, is that sword real?" asked Tony suddenly after a few minutes of rather awkward silence.
"Of course it is," said Chip drawing the sword and holding it hilt first. He immediately noticed that the balance was perfect, as was the weight. Daggeron had done an excellent job of choosing him a sword, for not only was it the perfect warriors' weapon with it's straight edged blade the hilt felt as if it had been made just for him for it fit his hand perfectly.
"Wow, that's some sword," Tony said admirably as he studied it. Tony had always been fascinated by swords. It was one of his interests. He had bought every book available on swords whether rapiers, broadswords, claymores or scimitars and whether they were Scottish, German, American, or Russian make or any other he collected the books and read them over and over. In each book he saw swords he wanted to buy to hang on his walls if he could afford them and if his mom would let him.
"So what? It's just a sword," Suzanne said with a shrug of indifference. Unlike her older brothers, she had no interests in swords.
"Can I hold it?" asked Tony.
Chip sheathed his sword before his brother could actually touch the blade and cut himself. Tony looked so disappointed that both Chip and Suzanne had to struggle to keep straight faces. "Actually, the reason I came over here was to ask you to stay for the feast."
"I don't know," said Suzanne, looking around her nervously as if monsters were going to jump out of the shadows and attack them.
Tony didn't say anything but seemed to agree with his younger sister.
"All right, but you'll miss all the food," said Chip.
Instantly it was as if Chip had performed some magic for both Tony and Suzanne were immediately interested.
"There will be roasts simmered in their own juices, rice, chicken that's been roasted over an open fire until it's nice and tender, dishes of casseroles, bowls of the best fruit you can imagine and tons of different desserts for after the main courses," Chip continued to describe what they were going to miss until both were practically salivating at the mouth.
"All right," both teens cried at once. "You can stop torturing us."
"We'll stay for the feast," added Tony.
"It would be a crime to not eat all that yummy food."
"We'll come on then let's go tell mom of your decision," said Chip, putting his arms around both his younger siblings' shoulders and leading them in the direction he had last seen his mother.
"You should be very proud of your son," said the same dark haired man that had done the ceremony.
"I am. I just don't understand him sometimes."
"What's not to understand? Your son has more courage in one finger then most people have in their whole bodies. I have fought beside him and have seen his bravery in the face of sometimes insurmountable odds. Your son is the kind of man that people should strive to be like. He's loyal to a fault, protective of his friends, honest, and a tremendous fighter, but only when he has to be. You should be very, very proud of him. I know, I, Udonna, and, Daggeron are. He's the kind of student every teacher wished they had enthusiastic, cheerful, and a hard worker.
"Yes, he is all three of these things," said Jane. "But it's still hard to believe my oldest son is not only a Power Ranger and now a knight, but that he can do magic."
"Chip always had the talent. Udonna just told him all he had to do to unlock it to believe in magic."
"Which wasn't much of a stretch for my son," said Jane dryly.
"That's true," Leanbow admitted.
"But what use is magic and fighting skills in the real world? I would like Charlie to go to college, get a job and not just at music store, but a real job, one that will allow him to get a place of his own."
"Give him time, Chip is still young. There is plenty of time for such things."
"Perhaps," Jane conceded.
After a moment of silence the man seemed to realize he had never properly introduced himself. "I'm sorry, I never introduced myself properly. I'm Leanbow, Udonna's husband. I believe you've met my wife?"
"I have. She came to see me and my other two children to convince us to come to this ceremony. She can be quite persuasive."
"I know," said Leanbow.
"I also don't understand how this world can even exist," said Jane gesturing around at all the nonhuman lifeforms that mingled with the totally human ones.
"With magic all things are possible," said Leanbow. "Have you ever read Shakespeare?" When Jane nodded Leanbow continued, "One of my favorite lines comes out of Hamlet and seems to best fit this situation. It goes like this, 'There are more things in Heaven and Earth—"
"—Then are dreamt of in our philosophy," Jane finished.
"Maybe you're right, I suppose I'll just have to accept it in any case, for Charlie is who he is, but no matter what he will always be my son."
"This is true. Anyway I hope you and your family will stay for the feast, for it is the first one we've had in a long time."
"Why is that?"
"Various reasons, but the main one is there really hasn't been anything to celebrate, until now."
"Ah," said Jane feeling sure there was more to it then what Leanbow was saying.
"Leanbow," called a voice.
Leanbow turned at the sound of his wife's voice only to see coming towards them looking somewhat relieved. Udonna masked the look quickly, but Leanbow still saw it and it made him feel guilty. Even though he had been himself for over a year he had been Koragg, the Knight Wolf and servant of the master for the nineteen years before that. Not by his own choice, but by strong, evil magic. Ever since he had finally gotten back to who he really was and ever since he had been reunited his wife and son, Udonna had been keeping a pretty close eye on him, not because she mistrusted, him but because she feared he would just vanish again like he had almost twenty years ago. Not that he had any intentions of doing any such thing, but he knew fears didn't die easily.
"Udonna," said Leanbow putting his arm around his wife's shoulder as soon as she was close enough.
As for Udonna she relaxed into her husband's embrace and they both just stood like that for a moment. Jane watched them and envied how they seemed immediately comfortable with each other. She hadn't had that comfortable familiarity since her husband had left almost twelve years ago. She had raised all three of her children by herself, but perhaps because of her husband's leaving when her oldest son Charlie was only eight, was one of the main causes of his sudden personality switch. He'd always been a happy, carefree child, but when Duncan had left he had gone quiet and solemn for over a month before he had seemed to return to normal.
Slowly, so slowly at first that she hadn't noticed the subtle changes in his personality until they became so ingrained that she didn't have hope of changing those traits, he had begun to believe that heroes were real then, as well as evil villains. His personality had changed to such an extent that the only thing about it that was at all the same was his good-natured cheerfulness.
From the day his father had left, her son had become the fellow he was today, one that believed in vampires, magic, knights, heroes, and that if you worked hard enough then no matter how strange your dreams, they would come true. And no matter how weird or wacky he was and no matter what he believed in, he was still her son and she loved him. She came back to reality when she heard Leanbow and Udonna talking.
"I came to tell you that Superman said he wanted to talk to us about something important," Udonna said.
"Do you know what it's about?" asked Leanbow.
Udonna shook her head negatively then tilted her head in Jane's direction.
Leanbow nodded and indicated that he understood and that they'd talk.
Jane assumed it was Justice League business of some sort, for she knew the Mystic Force Rangers including her son were members.
"Well, we had better get back before your family starts to worry about you," said Leanbow, leading the way from the small private area among the trees at the edge of the clearing where Rootcore stood out in the open where preparations for the feast were going on.
"Mom!" called a female voice as soon as Jane stepped into view.
"Suzanne, Tony, Charlie," said Jane as she walked her three children approach. "So are we staying for the feast or are we going home?"
"Chip convinced us it would be a sin to miss out on so much good food," Tony admitted.
June chuckled. "Well, Charlie certainly knows that you guys never miss out on food if it can be helped."
Both Tony and Suzanne put on totally innocent expressions that wouldn't have fooled anyone that knew them for a second and certainly not their mother.
"Why don't you head home and get some sleep?" Leanbow suggested. "The feast doesn't start until sundown. You, especially Chip, need it. You've been awake all night after all."
"But I'm not tired," Chip protested.
"That's just the excess energy from the excitement," Udonna told him. "Once that wears off you'll be dead on your feet. If you want to be in any shape for the feast tonight I suggest all of you get some sleep now. The feast will last well into the night. Some have been known to go on till dawn."
"You're probably right," Chip admitted with a yawn. "Just let me say goodbye to the others, then I'll see you later," he said, running a hand through his short red hair tiredly.
"Have a good sleep," said Leanbow.
"Thanks," said Chip
"You wanted to talk to us?" asked Leanbow. It was the middle of the afternoon the day after the feast. Superman sat on one of the chairs surrounded by all the Mystic Force Rangers.
"I did," said Superman, trying to mask his nervousness for it was hard for him to even think about revealing his identity to anyone. He had spent his life protecting his secret identity at all costs, but now things were different. "I've been talking to Bruce and Diana and they say you can be trusted. And from what I have observed myself, I agree."
"With what?" asked Leanbow although he had an idea.
"My biggest secret."
"You don't mean—" Daggeron began, then halted.
"I do," said Superman. "To tell the truth this is a decision that has been brewing for awhile. My wife has been; wanting me to introduce her to some of the new members of the Justice League, but in order to do that I would have to reveal my civilian identity. Something I have protected at all costs over the years, for like Bruce I have family and friends to protect, people who could not defend themselves against the menaces and supervillains we fight. So if I am to reveal my secret identity to all of you, I want your words of honor that you will never reveal my identity to anyone."
"You would trust our word?" asked Leanbow.
"Yes, I would. As I said earlier, Bruce trusts you and he is a man that does not trust easily. If he trusts you then that means I can."
"Very well," said Leanbow after looking at the others for confirmation. "You have our words of honor that we will never reveal your identity to anyone." All the other Mystic Force nodded.
"Very well," said Superman, rising to his feet. "I suggest you stand back."
All the others did as Superman, requested and moved back to give him room. Instantly Superman began to spin around and around and within seconds, a man with black hair styled differently and glasses stood before them, dressed in a suit and tie.
"My name is Clark Kent."
"Wait a second," said Chip, his eyes lighting up in recognition at the name, "The same Clark Kent that writes for the Daily Planet in Metropolis?"
"Yes," said Clark. "I do work at the Daily Planet. The Daily Planet is a newspaper," he said, explaining to the others, "One of the top newspapers in the world actually."
"Yes, I have read some of your articles," said Daggeron. "They are very insightful."
"Thanks," said Clark, "But all that insight isn't all me."
"Yes, I noticed your byline always says Lois Lane and Clark Kent. Her name is always first."
"It's always first because she has seniority. She was already a topnotch reporter before I ever moved to Metropolis."
Udonna immediately noticed Clark's voice changed subtly when he mentioned his partner.
"Wait a minute," said Xander who read the Daily Planet occasionally. "You said you were married, but you never said to whom."
"Who do you think?" asked Clark dryly. "The same partner I always write my articles with is also my wife. She's one of those people I mentioned that couldn't protect herself if the wrong people found out who Superman really was. Lois has been wanting me too reveal my identity to a few people we know we can trust. Not many people know if Superman even has a secret identity. A lot of people just assume Superman doesn't have a life outside of saving the world."
"I suppose that works to your advantage," said Vida. "If nobody suspects you of having a secret identity then there won't be anyone looking to find out what it is."
"Yes," said Clark. "And that is one reason I've been able to protect my identity for so many years. Not that there aren't exceptions to that rule."
"I'm guessing you have other people to protect besides your wife?" asked Daggeron.
"Yes, there's Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet, and a close family friend. Jimmy Olsen, another close family friend, who is also a photographer and a reporter working at the paper. My parents Jonathan and Martha Kent, Lois's parents Sam and Ellen Lane, Lois's younger sister Lucy, and Dr. Bernard Klein of Star Labs. Plus our children, who are too young to have developed any powers if they ever do, and therefore vulnerable to every villain with a grudge against Superman."
"We understand that you have people that you care about that can't defend themselves," Udonna told Clark gently. "We would never put anybody in danger."
"Thanks for that," said Clark with a smile, some of the worry going out of his eyes.
"And if you ever need our help all you have to do is contact us and we'll be there," added Leanbow.
"Thanks your offer is appreciated. I may be Superman but there has been a time or two over the years I could have used friends like you. There was a time every super villain or bad guy decided to get back at Superman by trying to kidnap or kill those most important to him, Lois especially."
"But how if no one knows you're Superman?" asked Chip.
"Because Superman and Lois Lane are known too be friends. This was before Lois discovered my identity. The villains figured just because we were friends I would do anything to get her back safe. Luckily it never came to that although it came awfully close on more occasions then I like to think about. Now that we're married, such things don't happen nearly as often anymore."
"I take it your wife used to be in dangerous situation regularly," asked Madison.
"That's putting it mildly. I sometimes wonder how she managed to survive before I was around to save her. As a reporter, she has plenty of enemies of her own and those enemies of course want revenge on her. It didn't help that half the time she put herself into dangerous situations going after a story. To be fair however most of the time she didn't actually go looking for trouble, it found her."
"Danger prone?" suggested Xander.
"Not precisely danger prone, Lois is just well—" Clark tried to come up with a word failed and said, "Lois. I really don't think there's a word in the English language to describe her and if there is, I haven't found it." The affection in Clark's voice belied his words.
"You mentioned your parents, but I thought you were an alien," said Chip.
"Chip!" exclaimed Vida horrified at her friends lack of manners.
"I am," said Clark not seeming to mind Chop's question at all. "I came from a planet known as Krypton. When I was a baby, my birth parents sent me here because Krypton was about to self-destruct. I was then found by a farm couple who couldn't have children of their own and they raised me as their son. When my powers began to develop, they didn't panic and handled it all with love and understanding."
"Not many people could have done that handled your developing powers with love."
"I know. I've always known I was lucky it was the Kents that found me. I grew up in the small town of Smallville, Kansas. When I graduated college, I traveled the world moving from one place to the next every few months. I wrote articles as a freelance reporter to earn money to send back to my parents."
"What made you decide to move to Metropolis?" asked Nick.
"I'd always wanted to work at the Daily Planet, to be a reporter. Even as a young child, I'd always been good with words. My parents knowing I didn't want to become a farmer encouraged me to follow my dreams."
"What gave you the idea for Superman?" asked Daggeron.
"The desire for at least a partly normal life. A job, friends, eventually a wife and family, and someone who could accept me as both Clark and Superman. Someone who could love both sides of my personality, but I also had the desire to help people and I couldn't do that without some kind of disguise. If I was ever recognized as Clark Kent when I was helping someone, I knew I would have to leave Metropolis. My dad had always warned me to be careful using my powers because he feared if someone saw me using them I would end up in a laboratory being dissected." Clark shivered at the thought
All the Rangers absorbed Clark's soft explanation then Udonna said "Your parents and Lois sounds like very special people."
"Oh, they are," said Clark.
"I'm sure we'd all love to meet her."
"You will," said Clark. "We're having a cookout for the Fourth of July. You're all welcome to come. We have a cookout every year. We always cook hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausage dogs. It's a big event in the Kent household. It's a time to spend with family and friends."
Leanbow looked at Udonna then Daggeron and both nodded.
"As long as nothing comes up, I don't see why we can't come," said Leanbow.
"It will be fun," said Chip, enthusiastically.
"And educational since none of us have ever been to Metropolis," said Udonna.
"It is good to go to another city and learn different things."
The others nodded in agreement and thought, it sounded like fun.
"Good we'll be glad to have you. I'll contact you with the exact date. It all depends whether or not Perry has a story for us to work on. We might have a cookout every year, but it doesn't always take place directly on the Fourth of July. We have to work around our schedules."
"Understandable," said Leanbow. "You have responsibilities you have to fulfill."
"Yes, but I really must be going. I need to get home. Lois is expecting me to cook dinner."
"I take it she doesn't cook?"
Clark shook his head. "Lois could burn water. Although to be fair, she's gotten a little better since I started giving her cooking lessons. After all, I was taught by the best."
"Oh who?" asked Xander.
"Who do you think?" asked Clark with a laugh. "My mother, one of the best cooks I've ever known. When I was growing up, she kept both me and dad well supplied with cookies, pastries, and other sweets. I always looked forward to coming home from school, because I knew she had been baking and she passed those skills onto me."
"I've always wanted to learn how to cook," Chip admitted. "But my mom has never had time to teach me."
"I suppose I could give you lessons," said Clark. "In my free time." When Clark smiled, his dark eyes crinkled at the corners. "I won't guarantee I won't be called away, but if you want to learn how to cook—"
"I would," said Chip.
"Well then, I am willing to pass my skills onto you. Mom; has been wanting me too take on a student. She thinks it will be good for me to teach what I've learned to others. I've traveled all over the world and picked up recipes from everywhere I've been."
"What will it cost me?" asked Chip.
Clark shook his head. "Nothing. I don't need money. If I take on a student, it will be for the pleasure of passing on my skills."
Leanbow and Daggeron who hadn't said much in the last few minutes looked approving of Clark's words.
"When can I begin?"
"Well give me a couple of weeks to go over my schedule. I'll contact you when I have everything arranged, but now I must be going. I'm going to have to fly home at super-speed as it is. I hope we'll meet again."
"You will always be welcome to come and visit," said Leanbow. "Whether as Clark or as Superman."
"Thanks, I might take you upon your offer sometime, but now I must be going." Clark rose, spun around and around until Clark was gone and in his place stood Superman.
"Wow, I'd love to be able to do that," said Chip and the other younger Rangers nodded in agreement.
"We all hope to see you again sometime," said Xander.
"Me as well. I have found over the years that you can never have too many friends." With those parting words, Superman went outside and flew up into the sky until he disappeared in the direction of the edge of the Mystic Realm and the beginnings of the human one.
Billy, Hayley, Cruger, Kat Manx, Daggeron, Leanbow, and Udonna all looked down at the massive SPD building from where they stood. It was several months since Kat and Cruger had been living at Rootcore and Leanbow had requested through Billy to see the base that would become the Power Rangers academy. Their request had been granted without any trouble, which had surprised Billy and Hayley.
"Hey Billy!" called a familiar voice.
"Wes?" asked Billy.
"Hi Billy," called another familiar voice this time female.
"Jen?" asked Billy for the second time.
"Of course it's us," said Wes as he and Jen came into view.
"What are you doing here?" asked Billy.
"Who do you think has been donating a great deal of the money over the last nine years to get this place off the ground?"
"Ah," said Billy. "Well that explains a few things. Everybody this is Wesley Collins and his wife Jennifer. Wes was the Red Timeforce Ranger and Jen the pink. Wes, Jen, this is Leanbow the Red Wolf Warrior, his wife Udonna, who is the White Mystic Ranger, Daggeron, who is the Solaris Knight and the two aliens I told the government about, Anubis Cruger and Kat Manx."
"It's a pleasure to meet all of you," said Wes not even blinking at the sight of two such weird aliens.
"The pleasure is ours," said Leanbow, shaking Wes's then Jen's hands. "So you donated the money to have this place built?"
"Not all of it," said Wes. "Just some. My father Albert Collins is a millionaire and as his only child I will inherit all his money. It was the government's idea to start this place," Wes added gesturing. He was about to continue when Jen starting speaking.
"But when we heard of it I told Wes that SPD was the beginning of Timeforce, which will be in your futures, a thousand years down the road, and also that Bio Labs was a major contributor to it. I also told him that if SPD didn't exist then Timeforce would never exist either. Trust me when I say that this would be bad."
"I was all for it anyway and Jen's information just confirmed my own feelings. So I contacted certain people in the government who were looking for people to donate money to the project and this is the result," said Wesley gesturing towards the massive SPD building that they were walking towards. "It has taken almost nine years, but SPD is now finished. Let me give you a tour," he added as they finally approached the building.
"You said you were from the future?" Udonna asked Jen quietly.
"Yes, the year 3001."
"But you stayed in our time?" asked Daggeron.
Jen shook her head then said, "Actually at first I went back with the other Timeforce Rangers, Katie, Trip and Lucas, but about two years after we got back Alex, who is Wes's descendent came to me and told me he had been reviewing the history logs. He then said I had to go back to the 21st century for if I didn't, he and his whole family line after Wes would cease to exist."
"The history logs apparently showed that I had married Wes and had a son and that son would be the start of his family's line. If anything happened to Alex then all of history would be changed. You see in the future Alex's role is pivotal to history. He was the original Red Timeforce Ranger and if he was never born then one: I would have quit Timeforce even before my training was complete. If Alex hadn't taken and interest in me I never would have graduated the academy at all. And two: if I hadn't graduated, and Alex hadn't been supposedly killed by Ransik, me and my friends never would have came back to the year 2001 in order to capture him and that would have been disastrous to the timestream."
The others listened to Jen's soft explanation as she continued, "I was actually happy to come back for I had fallen in love with Wes in the year we had spent recapturing Ransik and the prison full of the worst mutant criminals in the galaxy. The two years I spent separated from him was the worst two years of my life."
"Mine as well. I moped around the house not getting anything done until one day Jen knocks on my door and throws herself into my arms telling me she's here to stay. I wasn't able to speak for at least five minutes after that," Wes admitted softly. "I just kept sputtering wondering if the woman I had fallen in love with was really standing in front of me."
"Wes not having anything to say is a rare occurrence," Jen added with a chuckle.
Wes blushed at his wife's words, but didn't deny them.
"Part of your story doesn't make sense," said Kat speaking for the first time.
"What part is that?" asked Wes.
"Why the other Timeforce Rangers needed you in the first place. I mean you weren't from their time, so why did they need you?"
"Because of the fact that the other four Morphers were connected to the red one, as a result they wouldn't work until someone with DNA close to Alex's unlocked that one. Without that we couldn't transform and we didn't have a prayer of beating Ransik or the prison full of mutant criminals he had stolen, without morphing."
"Perhaps it was luck, or perhaps fate, or maybe just pure chance, but I happened to run into them when they tried to confront Ransik for the first time."
"We tried to transform and found out we couldn't," Jen added.
"They were in a pretty bad situation and getting pretty badly hammered when I saw they were in trouble," Wes continued. "I just happened to be in the area riding my motorcycle."
"He saved my life. Ransik would have had me if not for him, but after the mutants had retreated and Wes removed his helmet all four of us were shocked at his resemblance to Alex. The only difference seemed to be the fact that Alex was dark haired and Wes blond and also considering we had supposedly just seen Alex killed in the year 3001, the shock of meeting his almost exact double was almost too much."
"When we finally figured out what was wrong with the Morphers we all knew that Wes was our only hope of getting them activated so I tracked him down at his home."
"I didn't quite believe her at first when Jen told me she and her friends were from the future. I mean who could take that kind of story at face value? On the other hand I wanted to believe. My father might have been the richest man in Silver Hills, but I had never been interested in taking over his business like he wanted me to. I knew I had to follow my own path, to create my own destiny, so I went looking for Jen and her friends again and found them involved in another battle."
"He arrived just in time," Jen said
"Once Jen handed me Alex's old Morpher and I put it on my wrist I was swallowed in a bright light for a second and I heard a voice say DNA confirmed."
"With the Red Morpher activated the others unlocked and we were able to transform."
All the people present listened to the Collins story absorbed in it, even Billy who had heard most of it before.
"Well I suppose that answers my question rather thoroughly," said Kat dryly.
"Sorry," said Wes with a shrug.
"Welcome to SPD," said Jen as they approached the building. It had taken them half an hour to walk the distance to where they had left their cars for there was nowhere to park close by.
"What does SPD stand for?" asked Cruger.
"Space Patrol Delta," Wes answered.
"It is a good name," said Cruger.
"Yes, it is," said Leanbow as he surveyed the building. The building was massive and was actually several connected buildings. The front of the main building was mostly windows made out of something Leanbow was almost sure wasn't glass, for real glass would be too easy to break. At the very top of the building was a dog's head that Leanbow assumed was the command center for the whole operation.
They all entered the main building where Wes and Jen were immediately greeted by the workmen that were putting the finishing touches on the inside of the building.
"SPD is well able to support a number of people, students as well as technicians and support staff. It also has its own defences if it is ever attacked."
"Laser cannons mostly," said Jen.
"The technology used in building SPD is top of the line."
"This is some operation," said Daggeron looking around.
"Yes, it is," Jen agreed.
"The government doesn't ever think small," said Wes as they continued the tour.
Several hours later Wes and Jen showed all of their guests back to their cars just as the sun was setting.
"You have quite an operation here," said Leanbow. "Keep up the good work."
"The world needs a place like SPD," added Daggeron.
"Thanks, and you're right, the world does need a place like this," said Wes.
"So are you going to take the job Doggie?" Daggeron asked his friend.
Cruger had asked all of them to call him Doggie, for it was the name he went by instead of his given one.
"Probably," said Cruger. "I need time to think about it. It is a big decision and a big responsibility, but I more then likely will accept the position."
"I hope you do," said Wes. "We need someone who is a good commander to run this place and from what I have heard of you, you fit that mold."
"News travels fast," said Cruger.
Wes shrugged and said, "What do you expect? News not to travel?"
"I suppose not," said Cruger. "It is the same on any planet in the galaxy, so I guess I can't expect Earth to be any different."
"I hope we meet again sometime," said Jen as they reached their guests vehicles.
"I hope so as well," said Leanbow.
"You are welcome to come visit us in Briarwood, anytime," added Udonna.
"Thanks for the offer. We just might someday," said Wes. "It was an honor and a pleasure to meet some of the newest Rangers and I do hope we meet again someday. See you Billy."
"See you Wes, Jen," said Billy.
All of them watched as Wes and Jen turned and headed back towards SPD and back towards what was the future of Power Rangers everywhere.
All of them stared at the SPD building in the distance as Wes and Jen disappeared and knew that Space Patrol Delta was the future and that future had just been given its beginnings.