Author's notes: I finally carved out some time to finish up this chapter. Sadly, gone are the days when I can handle a chapter a week. Along with my two jobs teaching, I am now studying for my doctoral exams. I am specializing in late-Victorian British literature, with secondary interests in Postcolonial Africa and British Modernism. I will take the exams in the spring, and this will necessarily take up a heap of my time. I will continue to carve precious minutes out to write fanfiction, as I'm still very much interested in this story.
If you're just coming to this story, I want to warn you that this is the third story in a series I'm doing, which begins with A Darker Shade of Green and continues with Spells and Illusions. Which it is not completely necessary to read these two stories to understand this story, I can't deny that it will help, and will certainly take up time while you're waiting for me to update.
I'm planning to not just include the Green Candle, but the rest of the Green Ranger stuff in this story, including Tommy's first loss of power, his return, Lord Zedd, and his second loss of power. I might even include the White Ranger stuff in this story, so this one is going to be massive. It is still my intention to keep this going even until and possibly even through Zeo. As long as Tommy is on the show, I'm interested. If Tommy is not on the show, I'm not going to write about it.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy the angst.
Book 1: The Green Candle
Chapter 1: This is Hell
The alarm rang again. It was the third time.
"Tommy? You getting up?"
Tommy groaned, and his head gave an extra throb. He'd been up half the night with nightmares. His sheets stuck to him, sodden in cold sweat.
And he had a Chem test today.
He weighed his options. It would be hard enough trying to catch up if he missed today. Billy had helped him study all week. Plus, there was a martial arts demonstration after school he didn't want to miss. He'd promised Jason to introduce him to anyone he happened to know.
But, then, there was that two hours of sleep he'd gotten…
Tommy groaned again and slowly pulled himself out of bed. "I'm up!" he yelled to his dad.
"I'll call the papers!" his dad yelled back. "Now get ready already!"
A shower, a change of clothes, and Tommy felt no better. He couldn't really put his finger on what was wrong. He ached all over, especially his head, which felt like two metal plates was pressing on each side. He was exhausted, though he thought lack of sleep had something to do with that. And the cereal and fruit his dad was setting the table with was turning his stomach.
He sat down, determined to choke down a couple bites just to keep his dad from worrying.
"You look terrible," John said from across the table, a note of concern in his voice. "Are you feeling alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," Tommy mumbled. Then he forced a smile on his face. "Really, dad. I'm okay."
He tried to ignore the fact that was already sweating, and it couldn't have been higher than 50 degrees outside.
"Remember Sylvia and Billy are coming over tonight," John said. He paused. "But if you're not feeling up to it…"
"Dad…" Tommy said. "I'm completely fine. I think I'm just overtired. Been training too hard, maybe. Don't worry. And I'll come here after that thing in the Youth Center to help out."
He got up before his dad could start on him again, hoping that his dad didn't notice he hadn't touched his cereal.
He threw his backpack in the van and backed out, turning on the air even in the chilly weather. All right, so most of what he'd told his dad was a lie. He didn't feel fine. He hadn't been working out at all lately because he'd felt too tired. He was probably coming down with something… hopefully a cold. They just couldn't afford for him to get sicker than that.
"… … … flunk out… … …"
Now, why would his math book be saying he was going to flunk out?
Then he heard laughter and realized his ear was being crushed against something… a desk…
"Wha-huh?" Tommy said, picking his head up. He'd been sleeping, and his ever… cheerful… math teacher was glowering down at him. Tommy surreptitiously wiped his sleeve against his notebook, as he was pretty sure he'd been drooling. "Coach Warren… I didn't catch that."
"Obviously," Coach Warren said with a wealth of sarcasm. "Bulkmeyer, tell Oliver what I was saying."
Bulk brightened, always happy that he wasn't the one in trouble. "He said if you were aiming to flunk out of the class, you were doing a good job."
The class laughed again.
The coach smirked as Tommy felt his face burn in humiliation. "Sleep on your own time, Oliver. And that doesn't include the detention you've earned this afternoon."
Tommy quickly stifled a groan. That would make him late for the Youth Center. But he knew arguing the point wouldn't do anything.
Mercifully, the bell rang. Tommy made double-sure he'd written down the homework assignment before packing his bags and running to meet Billy.
Billy was sitting in the school lounge area, his head buried in a thick library book. Tommy couldn't even decipher the title.
Tommy sat across from him and rubbed his eyes. Only two more hours before he could take more pain medicine.
Billy glanced up. "Did you contract the cold virus that's been circulating throughout the school?"
Tommy concentrated on the words, picking them apart. He was usually pretty good with Billy-speak, but not when he felt like this. "I dunno. Hope not."
"I was going to inquire as to whether you wished to go to the Youth Center, but it might be more expedient just to send you home."
Tommy shook his head and stopped when it made him dizzy. "I'll be alright. Can't do either, actually. I have detention. Fell asleep in Warren's class."
Billy frowned. "We could go up to the Command Center. The medical diagnostic equipment…"
"Is being upgraded, if you remember," Tommy said. "Look, I'm just going to head to the library… see if I can get any homework in. See you at the Youth Center later?"
"I have a meeting with the Science Club that might run late. But I'll see you tonight."
"Yeah," Tommy said. He forced himself up and tried to get away from Billy as quickly as possible. Billy was his best friend, but the last thing he needed was someone worrying over him.
Tommy slumped out of the building after detention. He didn't know if he'd had a longer day in months.
The good news was, he was starting to feel a little better. Maybe it was just some minor food poisoning or something. He was just glad he wasn't actually sick.
The bad news was, he was still exhausted, and he still had to head over to the Youth Center and then to his house for supper. All he wanted was to flop in his bed and sleep for a year.
Suddenly, arms wrapped around his neck and hands covered his eyes. "Guess who?"
The corners of his lips curled up in the first real smile he'd had all day. "Betty Rubble?"
"Hey!" Kimberly swooped around him, her arms still circling his neck. "I don't even want to know what weird fantasy made you say that."
Tommy grinned and pulled her in for a kiss. He shouldn't have, just in case he was contagious, but he couldn't resist. "You waited for me?" he said when they broke apart.
"Not for too long. Cheerleader practice ran late. Figured you wouldn't mind some company."
Tommy gave a fake sigh as they started walking, still not fully detached from each other. "I guess I can put up with you."
"Oh, so someone doesn't ever want to make out… ever."
"Always with the trump card…"
Tommy felt himself relax even more now that she was around. She didn't ask if he was okay… and that was good. She knew when to push and when to back off.
It was a short drive to the Youth Center, but a rather longer make-out session in the van in the empty parking lot.
Finally, Kimberly broke away. "You promised Jason you'd show to this thing."
"Oh, come on," Tommy said. "It's almost over already."
"Uh-uh. No more smoochies for you. Now march."
Tommy gave her a fake salute and killed the engine. There better as hell be a freaking amazing fighter in there, he thought.
The crowd had thinned, obviously, as Ernie and the other employees were working hard to clean up. Tommy spotted Jason, Zack, and Trini right off. He and Kimberly joined them at the edge of the mat.
"Hey," Trini whispered. "Don't bother the boys right now. This fighter has had them hypnotized for the past ten minutes."
"Well, she's amazing," Jason whispered back.
Tommy smirked and turned to the fighter in the center. His smirk melted.
The fighter, a woman in her 40's, was quickly dispatching a male fighter twice her size. She was too quick for him, dodging each of his impressive punches and kicks. Almost as if her body was a fluid, she instantly turned attacks around on her sparring partner, and she finally downed him in three quick punches and a kick. It was all so graceful, it all looked like one smooth motion.
She turned smilingly to her cheering audience. "If you want to be true martial artists," she said, as if she were continuing a lecture that had been interrupted by a fight, "you can't follow one particular fighting style. Now, I know there are those who will disagree with me, and I've wiped the floor with a few of them. The most important thing to remember is to strike fast and strike hard. Even if you have to hold yourself back if you're competing, which I most assuredly did, you'll do yourself a great service by becoming stronger than anyone else. If you learn to punch hard enough, you'll end any fight with one blow." She smirked. "I took four because I was showing off, and I didn't want to hurt the Hulk over here."
Jason was nodding slowly. He'd been in too many life-or-death situations recently to discount strength.
Trini was frowning. This fighter had too much emphasis on violence, not enough on discipline.
Zack was wondering if the guy's real name was the Hulk.
Kimberly was staring at Tommy, her brow creased in worry.
Tommy was panicking. Please don't say anything… please don't…
"Would you like to help me demonstrate, Tommy?" the fighter said.
Tommy set his face in a glare, trying to ignore the fact that the entire room was looking at him, including his friends. "I don't have anything to say to you," he said in a tight voice.
"I wasn't suggesting we talk," the fighter said in an amused voice.
"I'm not feeling well."
Without warning, Tommy attacked. She'd been expecting it, of course. She always knew what he was going to do before he did it. Every attack was blocked or dodged, though he was avoiding all of her attacks as well.
He finally saw an opening and went for it… and then a wave of dizziness and pain seized him. He stumbled, and then found himself on the floor, her foot on his throat.
"You give?" she said smugly.
Tommy mustered another glare. "I give."
The fighter addressed her audience again. Tommy realized everyone was watching with astonishment at the humiliating skirmish. "Tommy's mistake there, of course, was losing concentration and not taking an opportunity I accidently gave him to win. You can't drop your guard. Not ever." She smiled. "This concludes the demonstration."
The crowd dispersed with murmurs of disbelief. Tommy's friends, on the other hand, rushed forward to help him up.
"You okay, bro?" Jason said quietly as he pulled him up with one hand.
"Peachy," Tommy grumbled.
The fighter was gathering her things. "You're getting sloppy, son. Comes from inadequate training. I warned you about that when you left."
Tommy gritted his teeth.
"Son?" Zack said.
Jason was looking at Tommy, then the fighter, then Tommy again.
Tommy sighed. "Guys, this is my… mother. Penn Oliver."
"Anderson, actually," Penn said brightly. "Now, Tommy, introduce your friends to me."
Tommy's vision went red. "Mom, these are my friends. I won't bother telling you their names because you won't bother remembering them. That good enough?"
Penn rolled her eyes. "Oh, don't be so dramatic, Tommy." She turned to Jason, who had obviously caught her attention as the most obvious fighter. "I'm Penn," she said, offering her hand to shake.
Tommy couldn't stand it. He couldn't stand to see her be so nice and reasonable to his friends, and his friends making nice with her. Knowing full well he was being as dramatic as his mother had accused him of, he left the group and stormed out of the Youth Center.
The cool air felt good: it had been close and warm in the Youth Center. Or maybe it was just he found it difficult to breath properly around his mother.
Tommy felt his shoulders tense instinctively, as if part of a defense mechanism. He tried to force himself to relax. "Hey, Kim," he said in an awkwardly casual voice. He forced a smile on his face. "Sorry for running out like that. I really have to get home."
Kimberly's eyes were a little too understanding. "She didn't even call, or anything?"
Tommy looked down, laughing a little. "Not her style. She always likes to shake things up. Need a ride home?" He didn't want to hang around until his mother left the building.
"Sure…" Kimberly said, and Tommy knew she noticed the frequent changes of subject.
The drive passed in a sort of dreadful silence. Tommy felt himself reverting back to what he called "Crazyland"… as always when his mother was around. Already his brain was jamming up and clouding over.
"Does your mom do this often?"
Tommy considered this was difficult for Kimberly. They had just come to terms with each other for the past couple weeks, but they didn't really talk about their personal lives. Tommy resisted pushing her away, even though he really didn't want to talk about it.
"Every once in a while," he said. "If she shows up, she shows up out of the blue. And then she leaves just as quickly."
"I'm sorry," Kimberly said. "My… my dad used to come all the time. Not as much anymore."
Tommy didn't respond.
"I know it's really hard when parents split up…"
Tommy stopped the car. "We're at your house. Sorry, but I really gotta…"
"It helps when you talk about it," Kimberly said a little louder, refusing to be cut off. "Especially with someone who knows how you feel."
Tommy found himself grinding his teeth. "I don't want to talk about it right now. And… you really don't know what I'm going through, Kim. I'm sorry, but you don't."
Kimberly paused and looked down. "Fine," she said, a little frostily. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Tommy watched her go, and then let his head fall back on the head cushion. "Great, Tommy. Alienate everyone in your life."
He took several deep breaths. He still had dinner with his father, Sylvia, and Billy that night, and he was determined not to hurt anyone else.
"Well…" Scorpina commented. "This is very interesting. About as interesting as watching Squatt and Baboo do inventory."
"That is actually quite interesting," Finster said. "Particularly when they get to the weapons room and start giving all the guns funny names."
Scorpina looked at Finster. "You get really bored up here, don't you?"
Scorpina chuckled silently. For the past few hours they'd been monitoring the events on Earth on the screen in Finster's lab. Scorpina reflected that "monitoring" more resembled "creepily stalking teenagers." And what she was seeing was not exactly fun to watch.
"I wonder…" Finster said, absentmindedly working the monster clay. "You do not have to participate in these monitoring activities with me, Scorpina. I do not need rest at the present. You must have more interesting pursuits. Goldar, for instance…"
"No." Scorpina backed down from her abrupt interruption. "I mean…" She scowled. "Let's just say I really don't have anything more interesting to do at present."
She gave Finster a hard look, and he backed down. The fact that she and Goldar were no longer sharing sleeping quarters, or speaking except in the context of work, was an open secret around the moon palace. Rita had apparently decided to ignore the situation, so everyone else pretty much followed her lead. Finster, however, tended to be meddlesome.
The truth was, Scorpina wasn't entirely certain why she was staying. She'd turned down two good job offers, and she was starting to get restless anyway. She found no joy in fighting the Power Rangers. They were good fighters, but they were so dramatic and took everything so personally. She also completely disagreed with Rita's tactics, though she admitted that fighting interdimensional beings like Zordon was not her specialty.
And there was Goldar, of course…
And that was another thing. Scorpina spent half the time worrying about her own little love dramas, and then the rest of the time frustrated that she was putting her career on hold for men. She was known for never letting herself get tied down.
So why couldn't she leave?
She scowled at the screen, wondering how much more slow drain Rita would put Tommy through before actually attacking.
"How much more do you think he can take?" she asked Finster casually. She hoped he wouldn't interpret anything more in her tone other than mild interest.
Finster was too preoccupied with the screen to notice anything in Scorpina's tone, it seemed. Scorpina looked at him closely for the first time since she'd been there. She was not adept at reading his expressions—he didn't have many—but she was sure he was just as unhappy about this attack on Tommy as she was. He fidgeted, and he wasn't able to look away from the screen for very long.
"I… doubt Queen Rita will prolong his suffering for very much longer," Finster finally said. "We've let the candle burn for two weeks, now. Queen Rita will get impatient."
"Any guesses on if he'll survive this thing?"
Scorpina didn't have to guess at his expression now. There were definite worry lines creasing his face. That was one expression she'd gotten used to with Finster. "I suppose it will depend on how he reacts. Queen Rita will certainly give him the opportunity to come back."
Scorpina snorted. "That, and Goldar will take up knitting."
"I admit it doesn't seem very likely."
Scorpina felt certain Finster did not want to see harm come to Tommy. She wasn't too keen on the prospect herself, truth to tell. But there was no way to defy Rita. Neither of them ever could.
She could only hope Tommy would blunder into yet another solution to his problems. He seemed to have a knack for that.
Billy was sitting in the dining room when Tommy got home. He had a sort of stunned look on his face. Tommy could hear his dad and Sylvia in the kitchen.
"You're not going to believe it," Billy said in a low voice.
Tommy's mind went into a wild panic. Did his mother contrive to get there before he could?
"What's up?" Tommy said, matching Billy's volume without knowing why.
"They wanted to wait until you got home," Billy said, still in the stunned voice. "Wanted it to be a surprise, but they're really bad at hiding things."
"The diamond ring on my mom's finger."
Tommy sat down. Or, Tommy's legs gave way under him, and he was lucky a chair was there to catch him.
"I'm not," Billy said. "Act surprised."
Sylvia turned from the stove, carrying some dishes to the table. Tommy took them, greeting her more naturally than he felt, and began setting the table with Billy's distracted help.
When he'd finished, Billy looked at him. "Tommy, I said act surprised," he said in a whisper.
Tommy realized his face had split in a huge grin. He hadn't even noticed until that moment, hadn't even really been aware of his thoughts. He bit his lips, trying to make his face serious. He couldn't. And Billy's face was breaking into a grin even as Tommy struggled.
"What are you two grinning like idiots about?" John asked as he wheeled to the table.
Billy laughed a bit giddily. Tommy gave him a severe look, the effect ruined because he just couldn't stop smiling. He cleared his throat. "Um… nothing, Dad. So, you have an announcement for us?"
Sylvia suddenly looked down at her hand, apparently just realizing she'd left her ring on. The two boys laughed.
"It's apparently impossible to keep secrets around these two," Sylvia said, a little miffed that the big surprise was ruined.
"But it looks like we didn't need to worry about how they'd react," John said, his face breaking into a grin to match Billy's and Tommy's.
"Are you kidding?" Tommy said. "This is great!" He looked quickly at Billy, remembering the stunned mood Billy had been in. "It's great, isn't it?"
"Of course it is!" Billy said. "I mean, we're going to be brothers and everything…"
Tommy felt his eyes sting, and he quickly turned his thoughts toward something a little less overwhelming. A real family…"Have you thought about when?"
"It won't take long to plan the wedding," Sylvia said, serving the plates with food everyone had forgotten about. "I mean, second marriages for both of us, we're not looking at anything extravagant. Just a party, I think."
Tommy's mind froze a little at the mention of second marriages. In the rush of excitement, he'd completely forgotten. He was just trying to think of when to break to news to his dad when he heard a knock on the door.
Not now, dammit, his brain screamed.
John looked completely confused. "I'm not expecting anyone."
"Girl scouts, maybe?" Sylvia said. "Oh, wait, they sell in the spring."
Tommy's grin now felt forced and frozen. "I'll see who it is."
The walk to the door was only a few steps, but it seemed like an eternity. He wished anything would happen… Irate neighbor… Putty attack…
Sure enough, Murphy's Law was in full force. Penn stood smiling at the other side of the door. "Aren't you going to invite me in?"
Tommy was still in frozen panic when Penn swept past him easily. "Oh, good, supper. I'm starving, by the way, thanks for asking."
Sylvia looked astounded at this insinuating stranger breezing through the dining room as if she owned it. John's face had turned stony. Billy, always quickest on the uptake, looked a little panicked at the impending crisis.
Penn surveyed the dining room and then smirked. "I don't suppose there's any room at the table for a hungry ex-wife, is there?"
Sylvia's astonishment changed instantly into something that was completely unreadable. Tommy admired Sylvia's self-control for not trying to throw Penn out on the spot. Of course, that probably had something to do with her knowledge of Penn's fighting acumen.
"Penn, this really isn't the time…" John said.
"Not at all," Sylvia interrupted stiffly. "After all, she is a guest."
Tommy suddenly felt the urge to laugh out loud.
"Boys, could you scoot over, and we can make room for…" Sylvia was already getting the extra chair and another table setting.
"You can call me Penn," the woman said, either unaware or delighted at the trouble she was causing. "And… I'm sorry, but I didn't catch your name."
John was holding his head. "This is hell. Yes, I recognize it."
Sylvia stuck her hand out in answer to Penn's introduction. "Sylvia Cranston, John's fiancée. And this is my son, Billy."
Penn's smile grew wider as she sat down, either not hearing or completely ignoring Billy's greeting. "Well, fiancée. This is happy news."
Billy and Tommy ate and looked at each other as passive-aggressive hell went on around them. Sylvia and Penn exchanged deadly pleasantries through gritted teeth as John sat there, looking dismayed. Yet he wouldn't be able to find out what Penn wanted and thus attempt to get rid of her until after Sylvia and Billy left.
When Billy's communicator went off, Tommy almost cheered. He gave a significant look at his dad, saying, "We're done. And we really need to get some homework done tonight."
"That sounds fine, Tommy," John said, giving him a look that clearly said "This isn't fair."
"Thanks!" Tommy said, returning a look that said "Tough." "Come on, Billy."
It seemed as if Sylvia hadn't even noticed, until Billy was almost out the door. "Home at 10, Billy. It's a school night."
They made it out. "Thank God," Tommy said.
"You think we should have left them in there?" Billy said.
Tommy laughed humorlessly. "Even if we had a choice, I'd rather face a billion Putties than what's going on in that house right now."
When they teleported up, the others were already there, focused on the Viewing Globe. The Globe was covered in what looked like electrical snow, with occasional flashes of what looked like a one-eyed monster.
Zack was clearly irritated. "Count on Rita to pick family dinner night to attack."
"Oh, we didn't mind," Billy said. "Really."
Tommy unconsciously positioned himself beside Kimberly, momentarily forgetting their snit earlier. She hadn't, as her pose became icy.
Zordon, as usual, waited for them all to show before giving the mission specs. "Power Rangers, it seems as if Rita has broken her two-week suspension of hostilities. A monster and squadron of Putties are attacking the Angel Grove shopping mall."
"Unfortunately," Alpha broke in, "we can't get a good picture of the monster. It seems to be surrounded by a shield that inhibits our surveillance… and maybe even teleportation."
"Where's the nearest place we can morph in?" Jason asked.
Billy was already at the controls, calculating the barrier as Alpha continued to try to punch through the interference. "Looks like the street across from the front entrance."
"Be careful, Rangers," Zordon said. "Rita obviously wishes for you to fight blind. Even if we gain further information, we may not be able to communicate it to you."
Trini stared helplessly at the staticky Viewing Globe. "There's no telling how many people are at the mall right now."
Jason nodded. "We gotta go now. Alpha, just keep trying to get through the interference. I don't like not being able to teleport out."
"Will do, Jason," Alpha said.
A quick morph, and the six Power Rangers faced the recently-built Angel Grove mall. No one was running out of the building in a panic… a bad sign. It was also very quiet.
"Okay…" Jason said uneasily. "We'll split into pairs. Trini and I will take the front entrance. Zack and Kim, you're on east entrance near Sears, and Billy and Tommy take the one near the movie theater. Go in quiet and take down as many as you can without attracting more attention. The main goal right now is to get people out. We meet in the middle near the carousel if communication goes out."
They broke, staying away from any windows or store fronts that might have guards.
"Of course," Trini commented to Jason, "Rita could be monitoring us and reporting everything to her monster."
Jason shrugged. They were about to enter the front entrance, and Jason was hoping there'd be plenty congregated right there in the food court. "But, then again, Rita could be suffering from the same interference. And we can't just give up the possibility of the element of surprise like that."
They got past the doors with no trouble and stepped gingerly through the food court. No Putties, but they found some mall employees holed up in the Magic Wok.
"It'll be okay," Trini said in a soft, hurried voice as she pulled a middle-aged man in an apron to his feet. "Please exit the building and get far away from the mall. We'll cover you; don't worry."
"Thank you, Power Rangers," a girl said, and Trini was startled to halfway recognize her as someone they went to school with, two years older. She was always startled when normal life intruded on Ranger time.
Zack and Kimberly, in the meantime, were sneaking past the lawnmowers and appliances. They'd met with a few Putties, but no mallrats yet.
Zack jerked his head to one side as they got to the clothes. "Dressing rooms?"
"I'll check," Kimberly said with a smirk. Sure enough, two Putties guarded a group of cowering shoppers in the dressing room near the Juniors' section. Kimberly quickly dispatched the two.
"Come on, get out," she said, pushing a girl out who's clothes still had the tags on them. "Don't worry about shoplifting; you can return them tomorrow. And…" she winced at the hang of the dress on the girl, "I'd return that, if I were you."
As for Tommy and Billy, they did not find a couple of Putties and small groups of cowering people. They found a whole slew of Putties.
Billy methodically chipped away at the attacking Putties. They hadn't found any people. Hopefully, all the people had gone to less dangerous parts of the mall, or even outside. "Looks like the attackers have congregated here," Billy said to Tommy as soon as their lines of attack pulled them in close proximity. "We should call the others here for backup."
Tommy at first didn't answer. Was it Billy's imagination, or was Tommy struggling more than usual? "…Yeah…" Tommy gasped. "…sure…"
As soon as Billy carved out some breathing space, he hit his communicator. "Red Ranger, come in," he said, using Ranger designations just in case anyone was listening. "Do you read, Red Ranger?"
Static answered him. He wasn't even sure if the signal had gone through at all. He bit back his frustration. "Looks like we can't get through, Green Ranger. We should work our way toward the middle to rendezvous with the others."
There was no answer. Billy suddenly realized the Putties were no longer attacking him, but were huddled around a prone green figure. They were beating him mercilessly.
Without conscious thought, Billy threw himself at the Putties and destroyed them all, a feat he could never achieve even morphed under normal circumstances. Now that the Putties were all gone, Billy could see Tommy wasn't moving. His costume flickered once… twice… and then disappeared.
Tommy had demorphed, and he was unconscious.