a/n-This is technically a sequel to Jason Scott Must Die, as this story comes after that one chronologically. In regards to the other three stories in my PR Death Saga (of which this is the fourth story), this one is kind of a "Meanwhile…" type of story, and I don't think there's a huge problem with reading them out of order. Also, just so you know, this story begins on the same day as the events of Chapter 6 of JSMD.
Everyone Else Must Have Died
Billy Cranston was concerned.
And maybe just a tad bit worried, too.
Ok, so he was really just one step shy of totally freaking out, but he was attempting to keep his cool. Really, there had to be a totally rational explanation for everything. There always was…
It had all started more than a month ago when he had come back from Aquitar for an extended visit with all of his old friends on Earth. As it had turned out, Adam had just finished a brief stint as the black Mighty Morphin' ranger again, and he was having a barbecue to introduce some of the newer rangers to as many of the others as he could gather. That was when things had gotten a bit odd.
Billy had been inside with Trini, Alpha, and a newer blue, Ethan, and when they had gone outside to finally get some of the food Adam had promised, Jason had suddenly proposed to Trini, totally out of the blue. But it had gotten even stranger after that.
Trini had of course immediately said yes, but then Jason had the bright idea to have the wedding immediately. Right then and there. In Adam's backyard.
Surprisingly, Trini had agreed to it, and Billy had counted himself lucky that he just so happened to be present, or else he was quite sure he would have totally missed two of his oldest friends getting married to each other. After deciding he would rather spend the night at Tanya and Adam's house, instead of at Jason's where he had previously been staying, the next Billy heard from Trini wasn't for another three weeks (he assumed she and Jason were making the most of their recent nuptials, and quickly forgave her previous lack of communication) when she called to see if he wanted to go out to lunch with her.
Jumping at the chance to see his friend again, Billy had immediately replied affirmatively. It was as he was on his way out the door to go meet her (he was borrowing Tanya's car as she was still on her tour) that things got just a bit stranger. Adam informed Billy that he was going to be going away for a few days (he didn't give an exact number and was rather vague about how long he would be gone for sure, in fact) to go camping with 'the guys.'
He had hurried to say that of course Billy was more than welcome to come, and he would have mentioned it to him sooner, but it was all very last-minute and Adam wasn't sure how long Billy would be on Earth, and he'd always thought that Billy wasn't really the outdoorsy type, and didn't Billy want to visit his family while he was here? Really, that would be such a better use of his time, it really would. But of course, if he really wanted to, Billy could come with. It really wouldn't be a problem at all.
Billy knew that his old friend meant well, he really did. But Adam was more than correct to say that Billy didn't like the outdoors very much. He quite preferred a good computer screen to a camping trip. And who would keep Alpha company while Adam was gone?
And so the two friends parted ways, Billy to go to lunch with Trini and Adam to go on his camping trip for some undetermined length of time.
When he met Trini at the restaurant he was more than a bit surprised to find out that Jason had left to go to a Martial Arts competition with Adam, and a few others. He shook it off, however, because for all he had known maybe Adam had said something about a Martial Arts Competition in there. Either way, camping or Martial Arts, Billy would have rather stuck around Angel Grove, as he had already decided to do.
However, with Jason gone, Trini was feeling a bit lonely, especially since Tanya was out of town as well. So, after they had finished eating, Billy stopped by at Tanya and Adam's now-empty home and had picked up Alpha, along with his few belongings, and went back to staying with Trini.
The pair spent the next couple of days together, alternating between upgrading Alpha's systems and working on other technical things that they were sure none of their former teammates would be able to understand, and other such fun things that the two liked to do in their spare time. But, as the time passed, Billy also thought over what Adam had said to him and came to a decision about something after he had been at Trini and Jason's house for four days.
It would be nice to see his family while he was on Earth. He had barely seen any of them since leaving for Aquitar years previously, and it would be nice to catch up on things. It would be a nice surprise for all of his extended family members, who thought he was involved in some top-secret government project and that was why he wasn't really around anymore.
With Trini's encouragement, he packed up his things once more and left for Los Angeles.
It was what he found upon his return to Angel Grove ten days later that truly gave him cause for concern.
Jason and Trini's house was empty. Trini hadn't so much as left a note explaining where she'd gone, which didn't worry Billy at first. She hadn't known when he would be returning, he rationalized. But after sitting alone in the deserted house for more than a day, Billy finally decided that something was quite possibly very wrong. And so he called Tanya, who should have returned from her tour by now.
There was no answer.
But there was no need to be concerned; she had a career. It was the middle of the day, maybe she was at work.
But then Rocky didn't answer, either. It was at this point that Billy's concern grew to insurmountable proportions, especially when he then didn't get an answer from Kimberly, Zack, Tommy, Aisha, or Kat either. On a whim, he decided to try calling Justin, when he found the number in Trini's phone book. He hadn't spoken to the former blue ranger in years, but then again, Billy hadn't spoken to quite a few people in a number of years.
Justin answered on the second ring.
"Hey Jason, what's up?" An unfamiliar but cheerful-sounding voice asked.
"Actually, this is Billy," the original blue ranger said. "Billy Cranston. Is this Justin?"
"Billy!" Justin exclaimed suddenly, causing Billy to give a slight start in surprise. "How are you? It's been ages. What are you doing at Jason's house? Is there some ranger reunion going on that I wasn't invited to?"
"No," Billy said shortly. "I was actually wondering if you had heard from anyone lately. I had been staying with Trini for a few weeks, but I decided to visit some family in Los Angeles for a few days, and when I got back here yesterday, she was gone. And I literally called every single one of my former teammates to see if anyone knows where she is, but you are the first person to answer."
"I haven't really talked to anyone in a while," Justin admitted once Billy had finished speaking. "I've been pretty busy lately. Could you really not get a hold of anyone else? That has to be at least ten people not answering their phones…"
"Ten exactly," Billy confirmed. "But you haven't heard from any former rangers recently? You've interacted with the Space rangers previously, haven't you?"
"I did," Justin replied. "But the last time I actually talked to anyone…wow…it must have been Eric and Taylor's wedding, and that was a while ago."
"But you could make an attempt to contact them?" Billy questioned.
"Of course," Justin said swiftly. "I'll do it right away, in fact. You'll be at Jason's place?"
"Certainly," Billy stated. "Call me on this number."
"Sure thing," Justin said before hanging up.
Billy didn't even bother putting the cordless phone back down. Rather, he held it tightly in his hand, mentally willing it to ring and be one of his former teammates on the other line as he paced nervously back and forth across Trini and Jason's kitchen. He continued this for the next ten minutes before the phone suddenly began to ring, causing him to jump slightly as the noise broke the silence.
"Hello?" Billy said, sounding a bit breathless in his anticipation.
"It's Justin," The voice on the other line said, and Billy could detect an underlying tone of worry in it. "I called all of them, all six of them."
"And did you get an answer?" Billy rushed to ask before Justin could continue, his concern over the welfare of his former teammates causing him to practically cut the younger man off.
"No," Justin said shortly. "Not a single one of them answered my call. I think something's going on, Billy."
Billy nodded his agreement before remembering that Justin couldn't see him and hastened to say, "Undoubtedly." He hesitated for only a fraction of a second before continuing, "We need to see if we can establish contact with any other ranger."
"And then what?" Justin questioned, always eager to take action.
"We should all meet, whoever we can reach," Billy said slowly, the gears in his brain churning away as he tried to think of an appropriate course of action. "Someone has to have some idea of what is going on."
"Here?" Billy suggested. "Jason's house in Angel Grove."
"Alright, it sounds like a plan," Justin said. "I can contact Operation Overdrive; their pink ranger and I go way back. And they might know how to reach some other teams."
"Very good," Billy gave an approving nod, "And I should be able to establish some form of communication with Dino Thunder. And I'll see if I can reach Lost Galaxy."
"I'll tell everyone to be in Angel Grove as soon as possible," Justin said. "See you soon, Billy."
"Good luck," Billy replied before proceeding to hang up.
After pausing a moment to silently attempt to recall the number, Billy slowly dialed a number he did not think he had ever used before.
"Hayley's Cyberspace Café," A woman's voice answered on the second ring.
"Can I speak with Hayley, please?" Billy requested.
"This is Hayley, how can I help you?" Hayley replied.
"My name is Billy Cranston," Billy began, "I'm not sure if you remember—"
"Billy!" Hayley cut him off suddenly. "I thought I recognized your voice. Where are you calling from? I didn't know you were on Earth; Tommy didn't mention it."
"I'm in Angel Grove," Billy said shortly, distracted by the vital piece of information she had mentioned. "You've seen Tommy?"
"Not in a few days," Hayley admitted. "But if you're in Angel Grove, then you must have seen him. He was going there to…visit Jason."
"I've been in Los Angeles for almost two weeks, and I only just got back here yesterday," Billy told her. "And I haven't seen Tommy. Actually that's why I'm calling you; I haven't been able to establish contact with any of my former teammates, including Tommy, save for Justin, blue—"
"Turbo," Hayley finished for him. "None of them?"
"Not a single one," Billy confirmed. "And Justin attempted to contact the Space rangers, but none of them answered either."
"You know…" Hayley began thoughtfully, "Now that you mention it, the only one of the Dino Rangers that I've seen recently is Ethan, our blue. Trent and Conner practically disappeared two weeks ago and I haven't seen or heard from either of them since, never mind that one of them is supposed to be one of my employees. And then Tommy left on Monday, which was also the last time I actually saw Kira."
"Well I would appreciate it greatly if you could talk to Ethan and see if he would be willing to come to Angel Grove," Billy said. "Justin and I are attempting to see if we can find any other rangers and figure out what to do about our missing teammates."
"I'll pass along the message," Hayley promised. "Whereabouts in Angel Grove?"
Billy gave her all of the necessary information and finished the call with a promise from Hayley that she would contact Lightspeed Rescue immediately and pass along the message. Billy knew that Lightspeed Rescue knew how to locate Wild Force, and so his next course of action was to contact Lost Galaxy on Mirinoi. He was met with a somewhat pleasant surprise (given the present circumstances) in the process.
Less than a week previously, Karone had decided to visit her former teammates on Mirinoi and her husband, Zhane, had accompanied her. Ashley had also decided to tag along because her own husband, Andros, was on some extended trip to Earth and she hadn't had anything better to do. Scarcely three days previously, though, Karone and Ashley had suddenly felt an overwhelming desire to leave. They left a note in the middle of the night and took Maya and Kendrix with them, leaving Zhane effectively stranded on Mirinoi with Kai and Mike, as Damon and Leo had both gone to Earth not long after Andros.
Zhane, Kai, and Mike were more than eager to come to Earth as well after talking to Billy. And that was where they ran into a slight problem.
"We don't have any form of transport to Earth," Zhane reluctantly reminded Billy. "Ashley and Karone took the Megaship with them, and we don't have any other shuttle that can get us there in any reasonable amount of time."
Billy was silent for a few moments, before a sudden thought struck him. "I may have a way," He began slowly. "Trini and I were working on perfecting my prototype for a long-distance teleportation system." He paused briefly before continuing, "You could be our test subjects…"
There was no immediate response from the other end of the line.
"We've already tested it for short-range capabilities," Billy hurried to add. "And everything was flawless with that. And the long-range capabilities aren't completely untested—but we've only used inanimate objects so far."
"…I suppose we do want to figure out what happened to everyone else," Kai said slowly. "And hey, what's the worst that can happen?"
"You idiot!" Mike exclaimed immediately, "Now something is clearly going to go wrong."
"Pessimistic much?" Zhane muttered.
"I've had enough near-death experiences to last a lifetime, thanks," Was Mike's response.
"Well, we're all in, then," Zhane said cheerfully. "Do you need to get anything ready before you…uh…send for us?"
"Give me an hour," Billy responded immediately. "I'll have to get everything set up first."
"We'll leave you to it, then," Kai told him. "We'll be seeing you in an hour."
"Hopefully," Billy heard Mike say, before the line went dead.
Billy immediately made his way down to the basement, mentally running through a checklist of things to do in order to prepare to use the teleport system. He was momentarily distracted, however, when he reached the bottom of the stairs. Directly across from him, laying across Trini's main work space, was Alpha 6. Billy couldn't believe that he had forgotten that the robot was down here; he and Trini had shut him down just before Billy's departure for L.A. in order to replace some old wiring in him. From the looks of things, Trini hadn't finished, but perhaps she had reactivated Alpha at some point in the past few weeks. He might know something…
In a flash, Billy was across the room. After checking to make sure that all of Alpha's necessary systems were in place, he switched the robot on.
"Ay yi yi!" Were Alpha's first words. Then, "Billy! You're back!"
"Alpha," Billy said urgently, "This is important—has Trini activated you at all in the past two weeks?"
"Only once," Alpha replied. "She told me you left to go visit your family."
"I got back yesterday," Billy told the robot. "And I can't find Trini anywhere."
"Ay yi yi!" Was Alpha's response. "Where could she be?"
"She's not the only one who's missing," Billy said then. "I've made a few calls, and it turns out that quite a few former rangers are nowhere to be found. Out of everyone I have managed to make contact with, though, we've decided to meet here tomorrow; we need to figure out what happened to our teammates." He hesitated then, in a moment of brief contemplation before continuing, "Did Trini mention anything about our prototype long-range teleportation system?"
"It's ready for testing," Alpha reported.
"Well it's going to get a test today," Billy replied. "We need to get Mike, Kai, and Zhane here from Mirinoi. Can you help me get everything up and running?"
Thankfully, Trini and Billy's technical genius knew no bounds and, within the hour, Mike, Kai, and Zhane were all fully present in the basement of Trini and Jason's home.
"Well, that went well," Kai said optimistically, causing Mike to groan.
"I hope you realize that now that you've said that, it's going to malfunction horribly and we're all going to die on the way back to Mirinoi," Mike stated.
"I'd just ignore him if I was you," Zhane advised Billy, when the original blue ranger opened his mouth to protest the idea of any prototype of his malfunctioning. "Apparently he's been pulling extra shifts lately, what with everyone's prolonged absences. I doubt he's had a decent night's sleep in days."
"So, who else is here?" Kai asked, abruptly changing the subject, choosing not to dwell on his own recent lack of sleep.
"You three are the first to arrive," Billy replied. "The others are supposed to be here as soon as they can."
Justin was the first to show up, bringing with him some interesting news.
"I was able to contact Operation Overdrive," Justin informed the other four former rangers, plus Alpha. "And something serious must be going on, because even they're missing people. They do have an explanation though, even if it does raise even more questions."
"Yes?" Billy prompted.
"Last night Ronny, their yellow ranger, got a phone call from someone—they aren't completely sure who, because she didn't tell them. However," He continued, "Mr. Hartford, their mentor, gave Ronny and Rose, their pink, permission to take a few days off after the call, because the monster activity hasn't been very high lately and he thought they deserved a break."
"You said you were calling their pink ranger, didn't you?" Billy questioned suddenly. "So did you establish contact with her?"
"No," Justin said, shaking his head. "She left her phone behind when she left. Dax, their blue ranger, picked up. After we talked for a bit, I found out that Mack and Will, their red and black rangers, have been gone for two weeks; no one knows where they are. They've deactivated the tracking device in their morphers, which is what Rose and Ronny did too, apparently, because Dax told Mr. Hartford to see if he could find them as soon as I explained the situation to him, and he wasn't successful."
"Red and black…That's how it started with us, too," Zhane said thoughtfully. "I'm not sure about Carlos, but Andros was the first one to disappear."
"Us too," Kai chimed in. "Except it was red and green; Leo and Damon."
"Will Operation Overdrive be joining us?" Billy asked then.
Justin nodded. "They said they'll be here tomorrow; Mr. Hartford hopes they'll be able to figure out where their other teammates are, because there's no telling when a monster will attack and they'll need the whole team to defeat it. Also, they know people from Ninja Storm and Mystic Force, so they'll see if they can get a hold of them."
"Well then," Mike began, "Hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to figure out what's going on."
The next morning brought a near-constant influx of former rangers to Jason and Trini's Angel Grove home, starting with the arrival of Ethan and Madison, both of whom Billy had met just a few weeks previously. Just as Billy was finishing introducing them to the others, Tori and Blake appeared, necessitating a new round of introductions. There was a brief interlude before Ryan and Chad showed up in the Rescue Rover, with Max and Merrick in tow.
"Is this it?" Ryan asked once he, too, had been introduced to everyone.
"We're still waiting on Dax and Tyzonn, from Operation Overdrive," Tori spoke up. "I don't know about anyone else, though."
"This is everyone who we were able to establish contact with," Billy said with a shake of his head. "Other than the two of them, no one else is coming."
Within the hour Dax and Tyzonn had arrived, with the excuse that they had been delayed by Chillers on their way out of town, bringing their total to fifteen former rangers, plus one robot.
"We all know why we're here," Billy began simply. "Our teammates all appear to have disappeared."
"And we need to figure out why," Justin concluded.
"Maybe it would help if we tried to figure out a timeline of sorts," Max said. "It might help if we could figure out when all of this started."
"More than a month ago, at least," Madison said immediately. "The last time we," She indicated herself, Ethan, Tori, and Blake, "Were in Angel Grove."
"That was an odd experience," Blake agreed. "We were supposed to be coming to a barbecue, but we ended up showing up just in time for a wedding."
"A wedding?" Justin interjected. "Who got married?"
"Jason and Trini?" Blake replied, but it came out more like a question, as he hadn't had the faintest idea who the pair had been back then, and he certainly hadn't seen them since.
"Jason and Trini got married?" Justin asked, surprised beyond belief.
"Yes, that was rather odd," Billy stated. "It was rather out of the blue." He turned his attention back to Madison, now, "But why do you think everything started then?"
"Well, you, Trini, and Ethan were inside with Alpha," Madison told him. "And Kira and I came in to introduce ourselves, but we didn't stay long. But instead of going back out into the heat, we decided to stay inside and talk for a bit. We were both pretty hungry by that point, so we looked outside to see if Adam had started getting the food ready, and it looked like all of the guys were having a pretty serious discussion. That was when Kira pointed out that most of them used to be red rangers, plus a few blacks, whites, and greens."
"Do you know what they were talking about?" Chad asked sharply.
Madison frowned, trying to recall the tail-end of the conversation she and Kira had walked in on. "They mentioned something about some guardians having the resources they needed for something they were going to do two weeks later."
"Was it the Silver Guardians?" Zhane asked.
Madison nodded. "That was it."
"Two weeks later…" Dax said thoughtfully. "That would be…three weeks ago, right? Well, Mack and Will disappeared a little more than two weeks ago."
"Same with Trent and Conner," Ethan said. The others also chimed in with their team members who had 'disappeared' around that same general time.
"We must be missing something," Kai stated when no one else made a move to speak. "I really feel like we're missing something incredibly obvious right now."
"That's because we are," Tori said slowly, looking around at the assembled group. "Out of the fifteen of us here, only five people weren't blue rangers. And out of those five, none of you were a major color."
"I beg to differ," Blake interrupted immediately. "I wasn't blue. I was navy. So that makes six non-blue rangers."
Tori merely rolled her eyes at her boyfriend. "Yeah, you were navy blue. So, for our intents and purposes right now, we're just going to say you were a blue ranger, no matter how much you want to protest it."
"Blue…" Mike repeated slowly, cutting off any reply Blake might have had. "What about everyone who initially disappeared? What were their colors?"
After a brief conversation, they came to the general consensus that their first teammates to go missing were all either red, white, green, or black rangers.
"The same as all of the people Kira and Madison originally saw talking together," Tyzonn stated.
"And the latest disappearances," Ryan continued, "They were all pinks and yellows."
"It's like a repeat of that mission the reds had to the moon," Max stated, rolling his eyes. "Except with everyone except the blues."
"But this is more secretive," Zhane pointed out. "They all left without any explanation for where they went or what they're doing; last time we at least had some idea of what was going on."
"Speak for yourself," Justin muttered, "No one ever tell me anything. Jason and Trini got married?"
"Trini is already planning a huge, second wedding for her and Jason," Billy comforted the younger man. "But that really isn't the issue right now. I'm still trying to figure out what the connection is with those first four colors."
"Kira figured that out too!" Madison said suddenly. "She said those were the four colors that her mentor, Tommy Oliver, has been."
"This would be all Tommy Oliver's fault," Merrick stated, rolling his eyes.
"He just doesn't know when to give up," Mike agreed.
"We thought they were planning something," Madison continued, ignoring the interruption. "Something to do with this Tommy guy."
"Dr. O was gone for a majority of the past month and a half," Ethan put in now. "He had some dig he had to go on, or something." He frowned now. "He should have been home more than a week ago, but I haven't seen him since before he left."
"When I talked to Hayley, she said that Tommy came to Angel Grove," Billy said. "He was coming here to visit Jason."
"I definitely wouldn't put it past Jason to do something crazy to Tommy," Kai stated. "Especially if it has something to do with colors."
"Slightly confused here," Dax suddenly spoke up. "We," He indicated himself and Tyzonn, "Really don't know who these people are, or why what color someone was is really such a big deal."
"Newbies," Ryan said with a shake of his head, while Kai answered his question.
"Jason is the original red ranger here on Earth," Kai told the pair. "And Tommy was the original green ranger. The thing about Tommy is…well, he's been on several ranger teams."
"It is a mutually agreed upon fact of life that Tommy Oliver just doesn't know when to give up," Zhane stated, and Billy, Kai, Mike, Max, Merrick, Ryan, Chad, and Justin all nodded their agreement.
"After losing his powers as the green ranger, he became the first white ranger," Kai continued. "And then he became the red Zeo ranger."
"And after that, he was the first red Turbo ranger," Justin said, "Which is when I was the blue ranger."
"And then he tried to be a normal civilian for a few years, before becoming Dino Thunder's mentor, and then our black ranger," Ethan concluded.
"And people would want to plot against him because…" Tyzonn began, searchingly.
"Prolonged exposure to and then losing the Power tends to have an effect on people," Chad stated. "In the case of a majority of the earlier rangers, particularly the male ones, it seems to bring out their craziness. There really is no rational explanation for why anyone would want to plot against Tommy."
"If that's even what they were doing," Billy put in. "We really don't know what's happened to all of our teammates, and we don't have much to go on. It's mostly all speculation from a few tidbits of an overheard conversation."
"The only way we're ever going to really find out where they went and why they left is if we ask them," Blake agreed.
"Which is impossible if we can't find them," Tyzonn stated firmly.
"Personally," Mike began with an air of finality, "I don't think we're ever going to know what happened to them."
"Why not?" Tori asked curiously.
"It's quite simple, really. They've disappeared without a trace so, naturally, everyone else must have died."