Author's Note: And here we are with part II of the series! Took awhile to get out, but it's *technically* still December. :D Please read and review. All feedback is appreciated. :) HUGE thank you to my beta, pyscochick32, for being amazingly awesome, thorough and patient while helping me with this.
WARNING: If you have not read Cost of Revenge: Control before reading this, you will be SO lost, LOL. So please read that before starting this one if you haven't already. It's worth it.
Now without further ado, onto the fic!
Parc du Champ de Mars
Five days later, Thursday
Local time, 1:03 PM
Tommy dropped quickly to the ground, hands covering his head as a large missile flew over his lean form, colliding with a tree behind him and setting it on fire. The green ranger scrambled to his feet, running quickly to the far left leg of the Eiffel Tower.
He peeked around the corner, only to turn back right away when a spray of bullets came his way.
"Fuck," he muttered. "Come on, Tommy…"
Thinking quickly, he ran out from under the large monument, rolling on the ground to pick up a machine gun from the hands of a dead French soldier nearby before crawling over behind a nearby bench. He turned around, firing at the enemy. Once he saw they were dead, he called his soldiers over the comm-link.
"All right, listen up. Alpha team, secure the perimeter. No one is to enter the red zones, and I want a man at every corner, every port entry, every manhole along the target area – do not let them in. Beta and Gamma teams, continue to your targets. You should be safe with your cloaking devices. Remember, we are not trying to harm them, just keep them detained."
He paused when a loud explosion sounded behind him, shaking the ground beneath his feet.
"All other units hold their defenses at bay. We need to keep their military occupied while Beta and Gamma make their way to their targets. Theta team, maintain aerial coverage over all other units. Diversion is a go. Oliver out."
Tommy winced when a car nearby exploded into flames, and he glared menacingly at the tank rolling his way. The turret of the machine turned slowly to him, locking on his body.
As fast as he could, he teleported away, rematerializing at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Down below, he could make out a scorch mark on the ground where he had been standing.
"They were really trying to kill me… fuckers," he snarled as he brought his Dragon dagger to the mouth of his helmet.
Channeling his energy, Tommy played the familiar tune, summoning his Dragonzord out of the Seine River, and he grinned when the large machine made its way towards him.
The soldiers and tanks on the ground converged on the Dragonzord immediately, firing rapidly at the approaching machine. The zord gave a loud roar as it shot missiles from its fingertips, clearing a path to the green ranger. When the Dragonzord was close enough, Tommy jumped onto its shoulder.
He held his dagger in his hands like a gun, bringing the handle up so it was in line with his visor. He closed his left eye, playfully shooting at the people below in time with the missiles from his zord. He laughed when vehicles and bodies flew in the air from the explosions.
"Status report?" he called inside his helmet, aiming his dagger at a group of soldiers that were trying to sneak up on him from behind. The tail of the Dragonzord swung out, pushing the soldiers into the river.
"Two hundred yards and closing, Commander,"said Kronon, his top general.
"Excellent." The green ranger sat down on the Dragonzord's shoulder, waving his dagger in the air as if he were conducting an orchestra. He timed his movements with his zord, and chuckled at the visual.
A missile hit the Dragonzord, a few feet below where Tommy sat. He was nearly thrown off, forcing the teen to grab on tightly. His eyes flashed green when he caught sight of the jets circling him overhead.
"That's how you wanna play? Fine… I'll end this now."
Tommy pressed the side button on his dagger, and the chest plate of the Dragonzord extended forward. The green ranger jumped into the small crevice, fitting into the human-shaped imprint in the mesh-like substance that was there. Once he was inside, the chest plate closed, locking him into place.
Closing his eyes, Tommy concentrated on channeling his powers outward from his limbs and the small chamber filled with a green glow.
One of the upgrades Finster made to his Dragonzord was allowing him to control the Dragonzord directly. Given that the zord was powered by the energy of the green ranger, Finster devised a way for Tommy to directly channel his energy into the Dragonzord, linking him and the zord together to form one body.
Tommy assumed a fighter's stance, and from how the Dragonzord shifted, he presumed it had the same stance as well. He reached up, plucking two of the jets from the air and throwing the down hard into the ground. He grabbed a tank by its turret next, swinging it around in the air to crash into the other jets, sending them into the river.
Foot soldiers continued shooting at the Dragonzord, annoying the green ranger. Tommy grabbed the top of the Eiffel Tower, bending and twisting the metallic structure until it snapped off, and he used the broken piece to swat at the soldiers below.
The green ranger grunted when he felt tapping at the back of his zord, and he turned to come face to face with a barricade of tanks and SUVs several yards down Quai Branly. Tommy grinned, letting out a loud whoop as he ran full speed at the blockade before doing a baseball slide into the defensive line, crushing several bodies and destroying everything in sight.
Tommy climbed to his feet, scowling as he looked down the Dragonzord's scratched body.
"Dammit… I just painted this thing…"
Loud beeping in his left ear caught his attention. "Status?"
"This is Gamma team. We've reached the target. Beta team has secured their target as well. We are standing by for your order, Commander."
Tommy shot at an approaching tank, leaving a scorch mark in its wake. He switched his weapon from missiles to a flamethrower, covering the surrounding area in a wall of flames.
"Beta and Gamma team, secure the hostages. This is a peaceful overthrow." He paused, reflecting on the irony of that statement. "Interpret as you will, but there must be no casualties when you invade the palaces. Theta team, be on the lookout for fighter jets. Oliver out."
The Dragonzord shook from a powerful blast to its side. Tommy turned, surprised to see a warship shooting at him from the Seine River. Further out towards the English Channel, Tommy could see several other warships headed his way and more tanks on the surrounding roads.
"Where the hell did you come from?" he asked himself aloud.
He walked the Dragonzord into the river, clenching his fists as he focused on channeling his energy through his body. The eyes of the Dragonzord glowed bright green, and its hands aimed downward as a several tiny balls of energy shot out, steadily increasing in brightness. He waited until the orbs were nearly blinding before throwing them towards the ships so that they landed at different spots along the river.
Tommy raised the arms of the Dragonzord high before bringing them down quickly, causing the balls of energy to explode. The explosions destroyed the warships, leaving scraps of charred metal floating in the river. Along the banks, tanks were overturned and sticking out of nearby buildings. Using his powers, Tommy sent a powerful blast into the water, raising a tall wave and sending it down the river. He smiled when he saw the water took the now decimated French military and weapons with it.
"We have the hostages, Commander."
'Sweet, now it's my turn.'
"Good, hold your positions. Alpha team in the southern red zone, maintain the perimeter. Alpha two in the northern sector, I'm on my way to the third target. Make sure my path is clear."
He directed his next orders to the zord. "Computer, set the Dragonzord to defensive mode. I want anything attacking it to be destroyed. Deactivation will only come from manual override."
There was a pause. "Understood."
He powered down and the chest plate pushed outward, giving him room to climb out. The green ranger carefully made his way out of the Dragonzord, teleporting to the ground once he was able to view the area below him.
The first thing to hit him while standing on the bank of the Seine River was the amount of smoke in the air, and he coughed slightly from the sting in his throat.
He looked around curiously; he was somewhat surprised to find he was the only living thing in the immediate vicinity.
"Really? I thought there would at least be more of a fight… how disappointing..."
'With how quickly everyone was to oppose the empire and the invasion, you'd think they'd have better defenses.'
The response to his announcement of the invasion was a resounding "Fuck You" from the leaders of Earth. Hundreds of broadcasts went out from the leaders of Earth to their respective countries about how they would never give in to the hands of Lord Zedd.
'They don't even understand what an improvement this would be… Lord Zedd controls over thirty planets across the universe almost seamlessly with better employment and less crime, and these bastards can't even run one damn country without sending shit to hell. Idiots.'
Their talk was all a bunch of bullshit anyway as far as Tommy was concerned. Globally, the Dark Empire had already taken over two of the ten cities they attacked in three days. With the fall of Paris, it would be three. The other seven were on their way to collapse any day now.
'Maybe they thought the power rangers would rescue them. All this bravado from the so-called leaders of Earth, and yet they still depend on five teenagers in spandex to save the day. Now they just look like fools because the power rangers are in no position to help them. Pathetic.'
Tommy sighed, hands on his hips as he contemplated his next move.
Beta and Gamma teams had successfully secured Palais Bourbon and Palais du Luxembourg, gaining control over the entire French Parliament. He just needed to make his way over to Palais de l'Élysée to find the President.
Tommy spotted a slow-moving soldier nearby, body half blown away by one of the explosions. He made his way over to him, turning the man onto his back. Tommy quickly stripped the man of his weapons, strapping the assault rifle to his back and removing the M9 pistol from its holder. He checked the guns for bullets, pleased to find several still there. Checking the soldier's pockets and pack nearby, he found several clips inside as well as a Swiss army knife.
"Always wanted one of these…" mumbled Tommy as he grabbed the pack.
He stood slowly, stretching the muscles in his neck. He was startled to see the nameless soldier staring up at him wide-eyed, blood dripping from his lips.
Disgusted, Tommy grabbed the pistol, pointing the barrel at the soldier.
"The President… he's over there, right?" asked Tommy as he inclined his head across the river.
The soldier said nothing, breathing shallowly.
"God dammit..." Tommy swore when he saw the life slowly draining from the soldier's gray eyes.
'I have to meet with Kim tonight… I don't have time for delays.'
Tommy pulled the trigger, leaving a smoking hole in the soldier's forehead.
"I'll find him myself."
Local time, unknown
Tommy tied the drawstrings of his black sweatpants, his bare feet resting on the cool stone floor. His gray wifebeater clung to his slightly damp form. He had had to rush his shower in order to make the council meeting on time.
The green ranger gathered his folders off his desk, checking through them to make sure everything was in order. The last thing he needed was for Rygog to bring up something he wasn't prepared for in hopes of embarrassing him in front of the council.
The teen grabbed a pair of black socks from his dresser, slipping them over his feet. It still amazed him that he even had a dresser to call his own. Thanks to the room upgrade he received from becoming commander, Tommy was living in the lap of luxury in the upper level of the Lunar Palace.
The change in rank moved Tommy from his prison cell room to an apartment within the palace. In the back of his living space, his once too-small bed was now king-sized, covered in black silk sheets and numerous large fluffy pillows. His room had what Scorpina described as a Phaedosian theme, a mixture of black, silver, and green. Tommy's wall was covered with various weapons, including a Bo staff, a set of nunchucks, and a warscythe. The front section of his room had a large leather couch and matching loveseat, coffee table, and panther-skin rug. The combination of low lighting and the glow from the Earth outside his window gave him room an almost eerie glow.
He couldn't have asked for a better room. 'Wish Kim could see it… maybe we could break the bed in…'
Tommy grabbed a shirt as he left his quarters, heading directly for the throne room while shrugging on the fitted long-sleeved green t-shirt. The cool air made him shiver, and he wished he had brought his jacket along with him.
Tommy took the seat at Zedd's throne, shifting uncomfortably at the rigidity of the structure. He was forced to sit up straight, something he wasn't used to doing, and it made him squirm.
A soft chuckle beside him hit his ears. "Would you stop it? You're like a child."
Tommy scowled at Scorpina. "Have you ever sat in this chair? It's like sitting on a rock."
She tilted her head to the side with a small smile. "It is a rock, Commander."
He looked up at her, eyes narrowed. "Shut up."
"I hope that isn't how your commander always speaks to you, Scorpina." Rygog came from out of the shadows, red eyes glowing ominously.
Tommy's eyes flashed green in annoyance, and Scorpina simply shook her head. "Commander Oliver and I share a mutual respect for one another. Please do not misinterpret what is mere teasing as disrespect, lieutenant."
Tommy grinned at the way Scorpina unnecessarily stressed their titles, causing the general to flinch.
"Very well," hissed Rygog as he took his seat.
'Yeah… sit your ugly ass down…' thought Tommy irritably.
The other generals filed into the large room, taking their seats around the table. Scorpina sat to Tommy's right.
"Now that we have everyone in attendance, the meeting can begin," said Tommy.
"With the fall of Paris today, three of Earth's most populated cities have fallen. Buenos Aires and Delhi are under tight control, and my army has successfully captured the leaders of Paris."
"What about the other cities?" interrupted Rygog.
Tommy cut his eyes at the ugly creature. "The rule, as you well know, Rygog, is that you only speak when addressed. As I did not call on you to speak, you will be ignored."
The tension in the room heightened, and the green ranger forced a smile onto his young face, purposefully ignoring Rygog's incensed stare.
"Now, as I was saying, the fall of those cities have undoubtedly put the rest of the Earth's leaders in a state of panic. When the other seven fall, we will have them right where we want them."
He leaned forward, hands resting under his chin. "What is the status of the other cities? Beijing?"
General Divatox cleared her throat. "Beijing should be under control in the next 48 hours. Their defenses have strengthened due to news of what happened in Delhi, but it will be of little consequence."
Tommy nodded. "Excellent. Istanbul?"
"Will be ours tomorrow night at the latest," said General Elgar.
"Seoul will fall in the morning. Their defenses will be completely overrun by sunset," informed General Darkonda.
"Three hours," said General Havoc with an arrogant shrug. "My soldiers are storming the Lagos Government Areas as we speak."
The green ranger resisted the urge to roll his eyes; he didn't particularly care for Havoc. 'Arrogant bastard.'
General Hexuba sighed, arms crossed over her chest. "We are having difficulty with the terrain in this climate."
Tommy's gaze was fixed on her oddly shaped body, and he jumped slightly when he felt Scorpina's tail zap him lightly on the thigh underneath the table.
"What do you mean?" he asked, forcing his eyes to stay level with her face.
"The cold is not good for the soldiers. Many of them are unable to function; their bodies go into hibernation during battle."
Tommy raised an eyebrow, confused by this piece of information. "Are they lizards or something?"
Scorpina cleared her throat. "The soldiers in her army are similar in physiology to some cold-blooded creatures you would find on Earth, like lizards."
His eyes widened. "Oh… how much damage have you suffered due to this problem?"
"So far, very little. It is coldest at night, and luckily, we've only been fighting during the day – my guess is that their soldiers cannot handle the bitter conditions. The enemy has yet to figure out why we don't attack when it's dark, but I would expect them to figure it out soon. If they begin to attack at night, this could prove detrimental to the invasion."
The green ranger stroked his chin in thought. "There needs to be a switch between your soldiers and those on reserve. Set up a rendezvous point with one of the carrier ships – Piranhatrons would probably be good to use instead. Trade them out while your soldiers are still mobile. They can be transported to a warmer climate instead and utilized there."
Hexuba nodded. "I will make arrangements following the meeting."
"Good. New York City?"
Scorpina's black nails tapped along the table surface. "General Ransick was unable to make the council meeting as he is in battle. He reported that the city should be in our control by the end of next week."
Tommy frowned. The plan was to have the ten cities under the Dark Empire's control in two weeks. Ransick was pushing it. The green ranger made a mental note to talk to the general when he was available.
Rygog sat forward, eyes narrowed dangerously. "It would appear that my team will need until the end of next week as well."
The teen smirked. "Is the task too difficult for you?" he asked cheekily.
"I'm sure we all find it difficult to have an invasion with no civilian deaths," hissed the hideous creature.
Murmurs around the table rose from Rygog's statement, mostly in agreement.
"I find it convenient that an invasion led by a human against his own people is supposed to be peaceful," spit out Rygog.
All eyes turned to Tommy.
"Is there something that concerns you, lieutenant?" asked Tommy in what he hoped was a neutral tone.
"No, sir. Just making an observation, if you will." He grinned at Tommy, his sharp yellow teeth visible.
Tommy's eyes flashed in anger. "If you have a problem with that order, I'm sure you can take it up with our emperor given that he is the one that gave it."
Rygog growled. "So you tell us."
'Are you going to take that, Oliver?' hissed a voice in his head. 'Put him in his place.'
The green ranger clenched his fist tightly in anger, voice cool as he spoke. "Lieutenant Rygog, need I remind you that I am your commander? Whatever your personal feelings are towards me, the fact remains that you are my subordinate. Continue to talk to me this way and I will strip you of your rank. Am I understood?"
The room was filled with a heavy silence, and Tommy could feel the eyes of the surrounding generals on him.
"Yes, sir," said Rygog tersely.
"Good." Tommy turned back to the other generals. "We are staying with the original plan. I will head out to Berlin tomorrow. The troops in Buenos Aires are to move to Sao Paulo; those in Delhi are to relocate to Karachi."
He flipped through the pages in his folder. "Humans tend to look for patterns. If they haven't yet, they'll figure out we're targeting the most populated cities on the planet. I suspect the second wave of the invasion will be harder than the first," admitted Tommy.
"But their technology is so… primitive," said General Havoc haughtily. "I don't see why fighting them should suddenly become difficult."
'When they drop a nuke on your head and blow you to pieces, we'll see how primitive humans are then,' thought Tommy angrily.
"There are weapons on Earth that you have yet to see, General Havoc. I assure you; the invasion will become much harder when they fight back with their true strength."
Tommy sighed, reigning in his irritation. "But that is not what I was talking about originally. Right now, we've caught them off guard. They now see what we are capable of, and I am sure they are coming up with a plan to retaliate as we speak. The one thing I fear most is their alliance system. The people of Earth rely heavily on each other when times are crucial – it is not an issue right now as there's no real value in helping each other since the places being attacked matter little to each other, but as the number of free cities dwindles, the desire to cluster together will undoubtedly rise. They will join forces and pull from the same resources, and we must be prepared for that."
"Commander, what about the power rangers?" asked Divatox.
Tommy inwardly groaned. 'God dammit.'
"What about them?" he asked slowly.
"Shouldn't we be concerned about them regrouping?" The other generals nodded in agreement.
"The power rangers will not be an issue for some time, I can assure you. Zordon of Eltar is not in the picture, and with the destruction of their zords, they are no threat."
Havoc leaned forward, elbows resting on the table. "Why is Angel Grove not under attack?"
Tommy's heart began to beat faster. "Come again?"
"Angel Grove… the city the power rangers are based out of. Why aren't we attacking their headquarters?"
Tommy clucked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. "As stated before, their Command Center cannot be attacked. The shields on it are virtually impenetrable – you would have to go inside in order to do any damage. I'm the only one that can do anything to their base, and it has already been done."
"But why not destroy the city anyway?" argued Rygog. "They hide behind masks and fight like you do, Oliver, which means that they also go around like normal humans in public. If we demolish Angel Grove, we destroy the power rangers."
The green ranger licked his lips, thinking quickly on how to answer the question.
"You wish to demolish a relatively small city of little importance in hopes that you might kill five virtually powerless teenagers in the process… whose identities remain unknown to you?"
Rygog flushed. "I was under the impression that their identities were known to you."
Tommy could feel the sweat gathering on his palms. "Their identities have never been confirmed, I merely suspect."
He felt Scorpina's glare on him. 'Not now... please.'
"Then isn't that enough to push forward with attacking Angel Grove?" pressed the lieutenant.
The image of a pregnant Kimberly being shot hit him suddenly, and it made him shudder.
"No. To find them would require uprooting the city – we have strict orders from Lord Zedd to refrain from killing civilians. We will deal with the power rangers when the time comes. We need to neutralize the existing governments and defenses of Earth. They pose a far greater threat than the power rangers right now. Without the power rangers fighting their battles, the people are scared – we need to capitalize on that while we can."
Rygog opened his mouth to protest, but Tommy spoke before he could. "Moving on, I want a status report." He flipped through the pages in his folder. "I have 52 confirmed deaths since the start of the invasion… has this number increased?"
'That's right, divert their attention away from the power rangers…' whispered a voice in his head.
Hearing nothing from his generals, Tommy nodded. "Good. Have the families of those soldiers been notified?"
"Yes, Commander. Word has been sent to all of their families," said Scorpina.
"Good." Tommy pulled out a packet from his folder. "How are we on artillery and provisions? I know quite a few weapons were sent down to Earth for the invasion. Have we run out of ammunition? And do we need more food?"
Divatox nodded. "Food is a must if you don't want my soldiers to start eating the civilians."
This brought out a few chuckles in the room, though Tommy felt slightly nauseous at the image of people being eaten.
"They need more meat to feed off of if they are to constantly be in battle. And more energy blasters would be helpful."
The green ranger scribbled down her comments before turning slightly to Scorpina. "How soon can we get the shipments?"
"It depends on the quantity, but I can put a rush on it."
He nodded. "Please do."
Turning back to the others, Tommy cleared his throat. "From what I've gathered, everything appears to be going according to schedule. Rygog, if you need assistance in conquering your cities, please let the rest of the council know. We'd be happy to help."
Tommy smiled when Rygog wore a displeased expression.
"I will be meeting with Lord Zedd at the end of the week to update him on the invasion. If anything happens between now and then, notify either myself or Lt. Commander Scorpina. The meeting is adjourned."
He stood abruptly, sliding out of the chair before heading to his quarters. A few feet behind him was Scorpina, and he knew exactly why she was following him. Tommy opened the door to his room, not bothering to close it as a way to indicate to her to come in.
"Go ahead and ask," he told her as he walked to the back of his room, grabbing his black shoes off the ground and slipping them on.
"Why did you lie to Rygog? We both know you know the power rangers' identities."
Tommy sighed. He couldn't tell Scorpina he didn't want Rygog storming Angel Grove and potentially killing his child in the process.
He walked over to his closet, grabbing his camouflage jacket and shrugging it on.
"Rygog's an idiot – you know that. If it were up to him, he'd make it so nothing was living on this planet. Zedd made it clear he didn't want anyone dead unnecessarily – you were there right beside me." He zipped up his jacket past his navel. "Rygog has to be kept on a leash. If I told him who they were, there'd be no stopping that guy."
The green ranger grabbed his power coin off his dresser, shoving it into his pocket. "I want the rangers dead, especially Jason, but there's a time and a place for that and it isn't now. If he knew I was aware of any of their identities, he would push until he knew the rest. Pretending I don't know who they are keeps him focused on the invasion and away from me."
He paused. "And you know how much I want to kill the red ranger… if Rygog took that from me, well… I'd just be forced to kill him."
"I see," said Scorpina as she watched him collect his things. "Where are you going, Commander?"
The green ranger grinned. "Headed down to Earth. I need a little fun…" He wiggled his eyebrows playfully.
Tommy didn't want to lie to Scorpina, but telling the truth just wasn't an option at this point.
'I trust her with my life… but I can't trust her with this.'
Her lip curled up in disgust, much to his amusement. "Males."
She headed to his door, back turned towards him. "Shall I tell the others you are off to bed then, Commander?"
The green ranger considered this. "Yeah. I don't know when I'll be back, so that would probably be best."
'No need for anyone to try snooping around while I'm gone…'
She nodded, closing the door as she walked out. "I will see you tomorrow."
He waited until the door closed before exhaling heavily, already exhausted from his day.
Being out on the battlefield as the green ranger was where Tommy felt in his element. He was a fighter at heart, so being up close and personal with the enemy is where he felt most at home.
But that wasn't what had him tired.
It was those damn meetings. Sitting around a table staring at some of the ugliest creatures in existence to talk about strategy and tactics was not Tommy's idea of fun. Granted, he was intrigued to see how the other seasoned generals approached problems in comparison to him, but the fascination generally gave way to boredom and irritation very quickly.
Especially whenever Rygog decided to open his damn mouth.
The being was incredibly annoying and constantly trying to undermine the green ranger. If the lieutenant commander weren't brilliant, Tommy would have killed him already.
'Would be one less problem in my life… though it kinda pales in comparison to Kim's bombshell.'
Tommy ran his hands over his face tiredly. 'Pregnant? Jesus Christ…'
There were so many questions running through his mind, so many thoughts coming to him at once that it left his head spinning.
He reached into the front pocket of his jacket, re-reading the address scribbled on there in Kim's neat handwriting asking him to meet her before teleporting out.
Outskirts of Angel Grove
Angel Grove, CA
Tommy made his way to the pink Nissan Sentra parked next to the Angel Grove city limit sign, opening the passenger door and climbing inside.
The two sat in deafening silence, Kim turned away from him to look out the window.
"Your mother's been looking for you," she whispered softly. "Cops came by my house… asked if I knew where you were."
"What'd you say?" he asked thickly.
"Well, I couldn't tell them you were up on the moon, making plans to destroy all mankind, now could I? Your mom's in enough pain."
His jaw twitched at her jibe. "What did you say?" he asked again.
She snorted softly. "I told them the truth. I hadn't seen you in days."
Tommy said nothing in response, choosing to stare at her until she began to talk instead of thinking about his mother.
"We can't meet like this anymore," murmured Kimberly after some time. "Anyone can follow us… it's not safe."
"Why didn't you just teleport?" He hadn't been expecting to see her car there.
She placed a hand over her stomach. "Not sure how it will affect the baby... and I didn't want it on the computer log."
Tommy nodded. "Right." He fidgeted nervously. "I'm sorry; it's just... are you sure?"
She raised an eyebrow. "About?"
He gave her a pointed look, and he could see the recognition creep onto her face. "Yeah, I am. I took five tests. They all came back positive. I'm going to the doctor tomorrow to see how far along I am."
He sat back in his seat, slowly digesting her words.
"You're pregnant," said Tommy quietly, as if whispering the words somehow made them less true.
He glanced over at Kimberly, who sat silently in the driver's seat looking out the window. Tommy ran a hand through his hair.
"God… what… how did this happen?"
"Well, Tommy… sometimes this thing happens between a man and a woman called sex. He gets this urge to shove his d–"
"The sarcasm wasn't necessary," he hissed, cutting her off.
"Neither was your stupid question." She shot him a scathing look. "You never wore a condom, genius."
He rolled his eyes. "Whoa, hold on. You could've bought some yourself. You weren't exactly fighting me off, and if I remember correctly, you initiated the sex sometimes."
"Well, given how frequently we had sex and your incessant need to fuck anywhere at any given time, I thought you'd be the one with the protection," she snapped.
He glared angrily. "I'm sorry, okay? I thought you were on birth control or something! How the fuck was I supposed to know this would happen?"
She shot him a look as if he were stupid.
'Biology 101, genius. You're supposed to pull out.'
"It wasn't like I was having sex all the time with Jason. Birth control was never something I needed, since I wasn't really sexually active," she pointed out.
She turned from him after a tense silence, and he could see the fight leave her. "It doesn't even matter now," she whispered.
'Seems like we finally agree on something.'
He stared at her. "Are you keeping it?"
Kim rubbed her hand over her forehead slowly. "Yeah. The timing is terrible but I can't- I'm not killing my baby."
"Our baby," he corrected without thinking. "It's half mine."
"Half yours?" Kim asked incredulously. "This isn't your fucking property, Tommy."
He rolled his eyes. "That's not what I meant and you know it."
"Whatever," she sighed.
He shifted awkwardly. "Do the others know?"
Kim's fingers ran along the window. "No," she whispered. "But they'll know soon enough when I start to show. Spandex isn't really good for hiding a pregnancy."
Tommy's eyes narrowed. "Hiding a preg- Kim…"
He shook his head, eyes flashing green. "No, what the fuck is wrong with you? You're going to keep fighting even though you're pregnant?"
"It's my body, Tommy. My decision," she argued.
"But it's our baby. You know the fighting is going to get more intense since the war has started–"
"A war you're leading," she hissed.
He sat back slowly. "Is that what this is about? You're mad at me because I'm still working for Zedd, so now you're trying to endanger our baby?"
Kim turned her body so that she was finally facing him. "You self-centered, arrogant piece of shit! You think I would try and kill my child just because of you?"
He threw up his hands in frustration. "Well, what the hell am I supposed to think, Kimberly?" he yelled. He pressed his hands on the dashboard. "You say you hate me. I know you don't want to have my child… and now you're telling me you're going to keep fighting despite being pregnant."
Tommy turned to her. "You hate me that much that you'd kill our baby?"
He flinched as her hand connected with his face, and he knew there was a red handprint on his left cheek. Undoubtedly what he said was uncalled for, but he didn't expect her to slap so damn hard.
He looked at the pink ranger, her face flushed from anger. "You ever say something like that to me again, I'll kill you," she said lowly.
Tommy rubbed his cheek gingerly.
"I know this is difficult for you, Tommy, but just try thinking outside of yourself for maybe five seconds. My decision to keep fighting has nothing to do with you – it's about me and my peace of mind," she said. "And don't even try to pretend you give a shit about my baby. You don't… so who the hell are you to question me?"
"Fighting while pregnant gives you peace of mind?" he asked sarcastically, purposefully ignoring her last comment.
Kim pressed her hands to her temples. "This is pointless. You're not even trying to listen to me or understand what I'm feeling."
"I am listening to you," he argued.
"Really?" she asked with a nasty look. "Then what do I feel right now, Tommy?"
He opened his mouth, only to close it when he realized he had nothing to say.
He hated it when she was right.
"This whole time it's been about what Tommy wants, what Tommy needs… you haven't even asked me how I feel about any of this," she pointed out. "But why should I expect you to care?"
Tommy swallowed dryly, eyes softening when he recognized the truth in her words. He looked at her closely, noticing the dark circles beneath her eyes; the hollowness of her cheeks… her normally bright expression was now dim.
And deep in her doe brown eyes was a glint of fear.
"How are you, Kim?" he asked finally.
She snorted. "Please don't pretend now like you care about me. You're only concerned about Zedd finding out I'm pregnant with your child… or should I say your property?"
'I deserved that one,' he told himself.
His hand found hers in her lap, thumb rubbing her knuckles gently. "I'm concerned about both of you."
Her gaze traveled to their hands, and he could see the confusion growing in her eyes.
"I'm not…" she paused, jaw clenching as if in pain from the words she wanted to say.
"I don't know what to do," she whispered harshly after a long pause, her body tense. "I'm…I'm eighteen…and pregnant." She breathed out slowly, voice hitching on the last word.
And then the words started coming from her mouth at a rapid pace, her eyes unseeing. "My baby's father is a renowned borderline sociopath… my home is being invaded by aliens led by said baby's father…"
She took a shaky breath, pulling her hands from him and running them through her hair. "Everything in my life is spinning out of control, Tommy."Tears were gathering in the corner of her eyes. "Nothing is how it was before, and right now, it feels like I'm just a passenger instead of the driver of my own life."
Tommy listened intently, though as she kept rambling, he got the distinct impression that Kim wasn't talking to him so much as she was talking to herself.
She gripped the steering wheel tightly, knuckles turning white. "I don't want my baby to die, but I also don't want my child to live in this fucked up world you're bringing with this invasion. I-I know there are risks from fighting but I can't just sit and do nothing. I won't let my child be born into that kind of world without trying to stop it."
Kim stared blankly out the window for some time before shaking her head as if to clear her thoughts. "When I start to show, I'll stop fighting, but right now… I just- I need to have some control over what's going on in my life. Fighting gives me that…"
She turned to him. "You need to understand that."
He knew all too well about wanting to stay in control.
Tommy's jaw clenched. "I understand where you're coming from, but I don't want you fighting while you're pregnant with my child."
Kim looked at him before turning to back to stare out of the windshield.
"Why?" she asked softly, a hint of exasperation in her tone.
"You don't want this baby, Tommy. I know you don't…" she said wearily. "And if I were pregnant with anyone else's child, you wouldn't even bat an eye at me fighting."
She cut her eyes at him. "So why does it matter now?" she asked acidly.
He paused, eyes locked with hers as he tried to come up with an answer. "I- It's not…" he began, licking his dry lips before clearing his throat.
'Answer her, Oliver…' hissed a voice in his head.
"Look… the others will know this baby is mine," he said, abruptly changing the subject. "Are you ready for that?"
She sighed at his refusal to answer her question, irritation evident on her face. "I try not to think about it. Jason's going to be so hurt… not that you care."
Tommy shrugged, not seeing the need to bring up Jason.
"At least you're in a better situation," she said softly. "Zedd doesn't know you slept with me."
Tommy breathed deeply, fingers gripping hers tightly. "Yeah, he does," he whispered.
Kim pulled away from him, hands finding their way to her stomach as if shielding it.
"What?" she whispered fearfully.
Tommy licked his lips, not wanting to alarm her further. "Goldar could tell that we had been together… something about his animal senses or whatever. He told Zedd."
He could see the color drain from her face. "Did he confront you?" she asked, eyes wide.
He nodded. "Yeah, after the… incident in the garage. Your scent was… particularly strong that day, and Goldar told him."
At her panicked expression, he held up his hands. "Zedd got the wrong idea about us, and as far as I know, he thinks we're over –"
"We are over," she interrupted sharply.
Tommy briefly closed his eyes before continuing. "He doesn't know you're pregnant. Both he and Goldar are far from Earth at the moment."
She nodded slowly. "And you're sure they don't know about the baby?"
He knew her fears. "I'm sure."
Kim nodded absently, though from the pallor in her face and her worried expression, he could tell his words failed to put her at ease. Tommy watched curiously as her hand remained resting on her stomach, fingers rubbing over the exposed flesh.
When she noticed his stare, she gave a soft smile, gaze on her thin fingers. "When I get stressed, I've taken to rubbing my belly. It's sort of comforting to know that there's this little life inside of me."
He gazed at her stomach, envisioning the small life that was growing inside of her… the life they created.
"Can I?" he asked softly, fingers flexing subconsciously.
Her eyes held surprise and hesitance, and he was sure it was reflected in his own. "Can you what?"
He cleared his throat. "I want to feel the baby…where it's growing, I mean."
All surprise was gone from her face, replaced now by disbelief and mild fear.
Tommy sighed irritably at her distrust. "I'm not gonna- I just…never mind."
He turned from her, only to be startled when he felt her hand wrap around his wrist after a tense silence.
"You won't feel a kick or anything. It's way too early for that."
She hesitantly tugged on his large hand, placing it lightly over her navel, as if scared of his touch. His thumb rubbed over the flesh, and he could feel a firmness that wasn't there before.
Everything fell away once his hand touched her skin. The invasion, the fear, the pain… all he could feel was warmth that soothed him. Her trembling hand rested over his and he looked up at her with a nervous smile.
"I'm going to be a dad," he whispered.
Tommy never expected to be a parent. The lifestyle of a bachelor was too alluring to him to feel any desire to be bogged down with a wife and kids. Even in high school, Tommy was used to going from girl to girl, and he had to admit that he liked the lack of commitment and freedom to do as he pleased.
Tommy knew he wasn't cut out to handle the responsibility of being a parent, and honestly, he didn't think he'd make a particularly good dad. He was rude and selfish and figured those were neither traits to pass on to a child nor the characteristics of a good parent.
But sitting with Kimberly at that moment, his hand resting on her stomach where a life they made was growing, sparked something deep within him. He knew the world was going to Hell right now and that tomorrow was uncertain, but there was one thing the green ranger was certain of.
He could see himself being a father to this baby… and that scared the shit out of him.
"This is so crazy, Tommy," whispered Kim. "I never thought this would be happening… but…"
He heard her sniff; surprised to see her crying when he looked up. "Kim?"
"Everything's so fucked up about this. What am I going to do?" Her voice was full of anguish. "I don't want to lose my baby."
His hand found her cheek, and he saw her flinch at his touch. Anxious brown eyes locked with his. "Listen to me," he ordered with a confidence he didn't feel. "I know you're worried about what's going to happen to our child, right?"
Kim stared at him vacantly before nodding, eyes cautious. "No matter what, it's going to be fine, okay?"
'Liar,' scoffed a disbelieving voice in his head. 'Your words are empty… both of you know that.'
Her face scrunched up in anger suddenly, eyes blazing as she pushed him away. "Don't lie to me, Tommy! Everything won't be fine."
"Kim-" The green ranger was startled by the ferocity of her tone.
"Did you forget that a war is going on right now? The Dark Empire already took out three major cities… when will they be coming for Angel Grove?"
The green ranger stared at her. "They won't… not for a while, anyway. I'm sure of it."
As long as he was able to get away with it, Tommy would divert their attacks to bigger cities than Angel Grove. He knew it would work for a while, but eventually…
Kim threw up her hands in frustration. "Is that supposed to make me feel better?" she asked incredulously. "Angel Grove is safe for… what? A week? A year? Where will I go when this baby is born, Tommy? Where will we live if the Earth is destroyed? How can I give birth if there are no hospitals left standing? Did you even think about any of that or were you too busy stroking your dagger?"
Tommy ran his hands across his face, a migraine coming on from her onslaught of questions.
"As long as I'm heading the invasion, you have nothing to worry about, Kim. I promise you," he said emphatically, wanting her to believe him.
"Nothing to worry about?" she growled. "I'll be pregnant for nine months, Tommy. How many cities will be free then? Angel Grove will be hit before that."
'She knows you're lying,' spoke up the sinister voice again. 'You can't promise her anything but death.'
He shook his head. "We're only going after major cities-"
She glared at him so fiercely he stopped speaking. "I think the city where the Earth's best line of defense against this invasion is based qualifies as a major city, don't you?" she asked in a challenging tone. "Should I prepare myself for a slaughter in Angel Grove anytime soon? I'd rather move while I still can instead of being an easy target in a few months."
'Answer her, Oliver.'
Tommy forced himself to ignore his thoughts. "This invasion is peaceful, Kim. No one's being killed or–"
An abrupt laugh from the pink ranger cut him off. "You call what happened today in Paris peaceful? Tommy, you almost singlehandedly destroyed their entire armed forces."
The green ranger shrugged. "Not my fault they were unprepared. They should take what happened today as a sign of how much improvement they need."
"You killed hundreds of innocent people today, Tommy!" she shouted angrily.
"Those soldiers were anything but innocent," he shot back scathingly.
"Those soldiers were doing their job! Trying to protect the civilians from people like you! From people like Zedd!" she yelled in exasperation. "37 civilians were killed in your attack today, Tommy. People who did nothing but be in the wrong place at the wrong time."
He furrowed his brows. "37? How did we manage to kill so few?" he mumbled to himself.
Lord Zedd would undoubtedly be pleased to hear such a small number of civilian casualties.
Kim blinked in seeming disbelief, slowly shaking her head as she turned to look out the window. Tommy could hear her muttering under her breath; the words "crazy" and "fucking ridiculous" were clear.
He sighed, seeing the conversation was headed nowhere fast. "Okay, look… clearly you're not going to be civil with me, so I guess- I guess we're done here. Is there anything you need from me while you're… in your condition?"
He heard Kim snort. "I need you to stop this invasion."
Tommy took a deep breath. 'Walked right into that one.'
"Or better yet, I need you to go back in time and not destroy our zords or throw me out of the fucking cockpit!" she shouted, forcing Tommy to wince.
'Definitely not one of my smarter moves… but I didn't know she was carrying my child at the time!'
The sinister voice spoke up again. 'Would it have mattered?'
Kim's voice dropped to a whisper, cracking slightly. "I need Zordon back."
Tommy swallowed thickly, unsure of how to handle her mood swing. Awkwardly, he reached out to grab her hand but she snatched it away from him as if she were burned.
"No, don't touch me, Tommy," she growled. "You don't have that right anymore… you never should've had it in the first place."
He frowned, put off by her cold demeanor.
'She said she hates you. Why did you expect any different?'
"Kim- I…" His mouth opened and closed repeatedly, but he knew nothing he could say would help the situation.
"Just go, Tommy," she said weakly, turning away from him.
He stared at her, suddenly finding it hard to breathe. "What if you need me?" he asked softly, hating how weak those words made him sound.
"I won't," she said coldly, and he visibly winced. "If I have anything to say to you… just check under the rock in the park. The place we used to go to all the time before you became... you."
Tommy didn't know want to admit it, but her words cut him deeply. He rubbed his chest briefly, hoping to get rid of the sudden tightness there.
"Kim," he whispered, voice drowned out by the sound of the car turning on.
"Get out," she whispered hoarsely, looking away from him. "Now."
His hand gripped the door handle tightly. "I'll check under the rock in a week." The passenger door creaked open and he shivered at the cool night air.
"Bye," he said crisply. Tommy quickly stepped out into the night air before pushing the door hard and slamming it shut with unnecessary force.
'You want me gone? Fine… I'm outta here.'
He teleported back to his quarters, landing at the foot of his bed. He peeled off his jacket and shirt, tossing them onto the floor before kicking off his shoes.
Had he ever been this drained before?
Tommy climbed into his bed, silk sheets caressing his skin softly as he laid his head on the large pillows.
As he drifted off to sleep, Tommy silently wished, not for the first time, that Lord Zedd had taken away his ability to feel anything on that fateful day he chose to become his green ranger.
Maybe then it wouldn't hurt so much.
More to come in the future. Until then, Happy New Year!