The wait is over (well, for the next chapter at least). Did you forget about this story? I sure haven't. For the past few months, I've just either lacked time or motivation to work on this story. I kept thinking I want to go back and finish it since I'm only about 2 or 3 chapters from ending this. It's a fun story to tell, but I'll have to start wrapping up storylines soon. This chapter doesn't really wrap many of them up, but it's setting up the climax of the story (which will be next chapter). I know it's been a long wait, and I thank those of you who are sticking with this story. I proofread this chapter a couple times, so I hope there are no typos, but please forgive me if there are. Please read and review. I really appreciate any and all feedback. Thanks.

Chapter 18

Jason teleports into the Command Center, and sees Billy, Zack and Trini already there.

"What are you guys doing here?" Jason asks. "I was about to call you. We have a situation."

"We already know." Zack says.

"What?" Jason asks. "You do?"

"Yeah. Goldar captured Kim and Tommy." Zack responded.

"He's given us 24 hours to hand over the power coins, or he'll destroy both of them." Billy adds.

"Somehow, I doubt that." Jason says.

"Huh?" Trini asks.

"I seriously doubt that Goldar would destroy the Green Ranger." Jason says. The other stare at him.

"What are you talking about, man?" Zack asks.

"I just got back from a meeting with Mr. Jones over at D.E.T.A." Jason explains. "It seems Goldar broke in and activated the DNA lock on the Green Ranger powers. They were able to rework the software to identify the Green Ranger. It's Tommy."

"What?" Billy says in shock.

"That explains a lot." Trini says. "That must be why he was so keen on getting us to go to the dance. He wanted us apart from Kim so he could capture her."

"Kim's still in trouble." Zack says. "Goldar said if we tried to save them, he'd destroy them. He wants the Power Coins."

"Why is that, anyway?" Trini asks. "He can't use our powers. They're DNA locked to us."

"If he has them, we don't have them." Billy says. "I doubt it's any more complicated than that."

"Well, it could be, Rangers." Alpha interjects. The rangers turn to him. "I wish Zordon were here, he's so much better at explaining these things."

"Well, he's not." Jason says. "What do you know, Alpha?"

"The DNA lock on the Power coins can be overridden by using the Sword of Power. It's found on a distant planet, and I doubt that Rita has the Sword in her possession, but it's not entirely out of the question."

"So if we hand them the Power Coins, they might be able to use their power?" Zack says.

"Besides even if we had turned the Power Coins over, we would effectively sign Earth's death warrant." Trini says. "I want Kim back as much as the next person, but giving up the Earth to get her back isn't exactly a practical solution."

"Well, we have to do something." Zack says. "We can't just sit here and do nothing."

"I have an idea." Jason says. "What if we could somehow create fake Power Coins and hand those over to Goldar instead? We get to keep our powers, and we get Kim back."

"Jason, do you know the odds of a plan like that working? Slim to none, and if it doesn't work, we lose Kim." Billy says.

"Additionally, Jason, the power coins give out a very specific energy reading. If they weren't emitting that energy, Goldar would certainly notice." Alpha points out.

"Then just one fake." Jason says. "One of us keeps our powers, and when Goldar's guard is down, we go in and take the rest of them back."

"That's still a big risk. What if he has the Sword of Power?" Trini asks. "Giving Rita this kind of power could be disastrous."

"What other choice do we have?" Zack says. "Hope Tommy switches sides? That's not happening. We could try to fight them, but that could cost Kim her life."

"So could this plan!" Trini shouts back at him. "If they find out that one of the coins is a fake, then Kim's dead, and so are the rest of us."

"Any plan at this stage is going to come with risks, Trini." Billy says. "It's a simple matter of risk assessment."

"Guys, quit fighting!" Jason shouts. The other quiet down. "Now, if Zordon were here, he might have another solution, but he's not. He made me the leader of this team, so it's my call. Give me your power coins."

"What? Why?" Zack says.

"I'm going to go to D.E.T.A. and seeing if they can make a duplicate of one of the power coins, and I don't want any of you guys trying to be the hero while I'm there." Jason says. "If they can, great, we move forward with the plan. If not, we're back to square one."

"You really think D.E.T.A. will help us?" Trini asks.

"Mr. Jones and I had nice conversation right before I came back here." Jason says. "He wants to help in any way he can, and might be able to create a duplicate."

"We're coming with you." Zack says.

"It doesn't make sense for you to go alone." Billy says. "Besides, until we know that we have a duplicate, I'm holding onto my power coin in case Rita attacks."

"Fine." Jason says. "Let's go." The rangers reach for their communicators and teleport away.

Kim wakes up and realizes she is in the Dark Dimension. She is tied to a post, strung up by her wrists. She struggles to get free, but is unable to. She quickly looks around, looking for Tommy, but he isn't there. Suddenly Goldar appears.

"Goldar, you creep!" Kim shouts. "Where's Tommy!"

"He's OK, for now." Goldar says. "How unfortunate it was that he was on a date with you."

"Where is he!" Kim shouts.

"Empress Rita has a special plan for him." Goldar says. "That's all the information you're getting."

"What do you want with me?" Kim says. "I assume you've already taken my Power Coin and communicator. I'm useless to you."

"I wouldn't say that." Goldar says. "By the end of the night, I will have your friends Power Coins as well. As long as I have you and your friend Tommy, we hold the advantage."

The Green Ranger then enters the room. Kim is still unaware that the Green Ranger is, in fact, Tommy.

"Hello Pink Ranger." He says. "I hope you're enjoying your stay in the Dark Dimension. Your friend, Jason, seemed to enjoy his, but he left so abruptly. You won't be so lucky." Kim just spits at him. He laughs it off and turns to Goldar.

Goldar walks over to Kim. "We need you alive, Pink Ranger, but that doesn't mean we need you to be perfectly healthy."

He grabs her, and punches her in the stomach a few times. Following this, he pulls her hair back and back handedly slaps her across the face. Kim lets out a loud scream.

"Goldar! Enough!" Tommy says. "She's no danger to us here. Leave her alone." Goldar turns to him.

"Going soft on me, Green Ranger?" Goldar says. "Don't forget, if not for me, you wouldn't even be here. Don't ever speak to me that way again."

"I meant no disrespect." Tommy says. "I simply meant that we have no reason to torture her. She's already our prisoner, and as good as dead. Torturing her does us no good, and you risk accidentally killing her before she serves her purpose."

Goldar growls, but begrudgingly agrees. "Fine, let's get out of here." Goldar says then quickly disappears. The Green Ranger looks at Kim.

"You're welcome, Kim." He says, then teleports away. Kim is shocked and confused by this statement.

Jason, Zack, Trini, and Billy all land outside of the D.E.T.A. complex, and they begin to head inside.

"How are we going to find, Jones?" Billy asks. "It's a big facility, and with it being evacuated, it's not like we can ask somebody to help us find him."

"Follow me," Jason says, as they head inside. "I believe his office is near where I met him last time." They head down a hallway.

"Stop!" They hear a voice from behind them say. The ranger teens turn to Commander Harrison standing behind them, pointing a gun at them. "Oh, it's just you kids again." He lowers his weapon. "What the hell are you doing here, anyway?"

"We need your help." Jason says.

"Why on Earth would I help you?" Harrison asks.

"Because if you don't, your Green ranger is going to destroy the Earth." Trini says. Harrison glares at her, but doesn't respond.

"Look, I need to talk to Jones." Jason says. "I met with him earlier, and thought maybe he could help us."

"Help you with what?" Harrison says, rudely. "After all, you're the ones with the super powers."

"Kim's in trouble." Jason says. "Goldar, that Gold Monkey that attacked this place, captured her and is demanding we give him our power coins or else he'll kill her."

Harrison takes a deep breath. "Well, she shouldn't have gotten herself captured." Harrison says. "It's not my concern at this stage. Everything I've worked for is crumbling beneath my feet. If I'm being honest, I could care less what happens now. None of it matters. We've already lost."

The rangers all look at each other. This man wasn't caring even slightly that the world was endangered, and had already admitted defeat. They couldn't believe this was the same man who captured them earlier. Zack speaks to him.

"We haven't lost yet, but we will without your help." He says. "Now, where is Jones?"

"Oh, what the hell?" Harrison says. "He's in his office. I'll take you there." The rangers reluctantly follow him, staying on their guard. However, Harrison stays true to his word, and takes the rangers to Jones office. Jones is sitting at his desk and looks up to see Harrison at the door.

"Mr. Jones." Harrison says "You have some visitors." The rangers walk into the office. "I'll leave you alone." Harrison continues, and walks out of the room.

"That was really weird." Billy says. "What's going on with him?" He asks Jones.

"I'm not really sure myself." Jones says. "What can I do for you, Rangers?"

"The situation's gone from bad to worse." Jason says. "Remember how I told you Kim was out with Tommy?"

"Yeah?" Jones says

"Goldar captured her, and issued us an ultimatum to hand over our Power Coins, or Kim will be killed." Jason says.

"Yeah, and we only have 24 hours to do it." Trini says.

"23 hours, now." Billy corrects. "And we can't try to save her, or the deal is off."

Jones takes a deep breath. "Whoa." Jones says. "So what are you going to do?"

"What can we do?" Jason says. "Without our powers, what chance do we have against Rita? But the same could be said about not having Kim. We were hoping you could help us."

"Help you?" Jones says. "I'd be happy to do what I can, but I'm not sure what I'd be able to do."

"Here's what we were thinking." Jason says. "Once Goldar and Rita get the Power Coins, their guard will be down, not expecting an attack. So what if we created a fake Power Coin, and attacked them when they weren't expecting."

"A set of fake coins in 23 hours?" Jones says. "Look, I know we have a lot of resources, but that's a lot to ask."

"That's why we're not asking for a set of coins." Jason says.

"See, the coins give off a specific energy reading." Billy explains. "If they were all fake, it'd be noticeable. However, one fake may not be."

"So, we'd be down to one ranger against Rita's army?" Jones asks. "Are you kids crazy?"

"Will you help us or not?" Zack asks. "If not, then we're wasting what little time we have."

"If you think it's the best plan, then I'll help." Jones says. "I'll get a team on it. Who's coin are we replicating?"

The rangers look at each other. "I think it should be Jason's." Zack says. "After all, he's our leader, and probably the best martial artist of the group."

"But Billy's the smartest, and you're most creative Zack. Plus Trini might be the safest choice. She's normally got a pretty cool head." Jason says.

"We believe in you, Jason." Trini says.

"You're the logical choice." Billy says.

"If you guys think I'm the right choice, then I'll do it." Jason says. "Replicate my coin." Jason pulls it out and hands it to Jones.

Jones looks closely at the coin. "Already, let's get to work." He says. "I'll contact you when it's done."

The rangers look at each other. "Alright, let's get back to the command center. Maybe we'll get lucky and find Zordon, and he might have a better plan." Jason says. They teleport away.

Goldar walks into Rita's palace.

"How is our guest doing?" Rita asks.

"She's fine, for now." Goldar says. "She'll be dead soon enough, but not until we have the power coins."

"Ah, yes." Rita says. "Without them, the Earth will be defenseless to stop me." She laughs, manically.

Scorpina walks in. "There is still no response from the rangers." She says. "Are you sure that the rangers got the message?"

"I'm sure that the rangers are looking for Zordon in the Command Center." Goldar says. "If they were at the Command Center, they got the message."

"Why not make sure they got it?" Scorpina says. "I could go down to attack Angel Grove. When they inevitably come to stop me, I'll remind them the clock is ticking on their friends' lives."

"I like it." Rita says. "If they don't come, we can just begin the destruction of the Earth a little sooner."

"My queen, I would advise keeping the plan as is." Goldar says.

"Who's in charge around here, anyway?" Rita shouts. "Oh yeah. It's me. Go Scorpina. Attack."

Scorpina glares at her, then looks at Goldar who begrudgingly agrees with Rita. "Go." He says. She nods and then leaves the room. Goldar growls a bit.

"Chin up, Goldar. In less than 24 hours, the earth will be ours. Nothing can stop us now." Rita says.

"You had better hope nothing happens to her." Goldar says. Rita stands up and grabs him by the throat.

"Did you just threaten me?" She asks. "Never threaten me again, monkey breath, or it will be the last thing you ever do." She throws him back.

"I'm sorry, my queen." Goldar says. "My statement was out of line." He bows and leaves the room.

The rangers stand around the Command Center, while Alpha and Billy work on trying to find Zordon.

"Any luck?" Jason asks Billy.

"As soon as I know something, you'll know something." Billy says. "Here's all I know. Right now, the computer is scanning section Q-1-9, but that probably doesn't mean much to you. It should only be a matter of time, but time isn't exactly something we have right now."

"This whole situation blows." Zack says "It just seems like we're fighting a battle we can't win."

"Isn't the smallest chance of victory enough to keep fighting?" Jason asks. "If Zordon were here, do you think he'd accept defeat? No, and neither will I."

Suddenly, the alarms in the command center begin going off. "What now?" Trini asks. They turn to the view globe and see Scorpina attacking Angel Grove.

"What?" Zack says. "Why would Rita attack now?"

"I don't know, but we have to stop her." Jason says.

"You're not going anywhere." Zack says. "You don't have your power coin, remember? You can't go to fight her without revealing our whole plan."

"Don't worry, Jason. We'll take care of her." Billy says.

"It's Morphin' Time!" Trini shouts.



"Saber-Tooth Tiger!"

The 3 rangers rush into battle.

"Scorpina!" Zack shouts.

"Hello, rangers." Scorpina says.

"What, just you?" Trini says. "Rita not give you any putties to do your dirty work today?"

"I don't serve Rita!" Scorpina shouts. "She is not my master. Besides, I don't need putties to defeat you." She charges at the rangers. Zack flips over the top of her, and grabs her. Billy and Trini both pull out their blasters and fire at her. She dives out of the way, and sends Zack flying over the top of her.

Quickly, she spins back to her feet and lasers at Billy and Trini. It hits Trini's right leg and she falls to the ground. "Trini!" Billy says, rushing to her side.

"What do you want, Scorpina!" Zack shouts running back over the other rangers.

"I was going to wait for all the rangers to get here. Where is that Red friend of your?" She says.

"That's none of your business!" Billy shouts, still shielding Trini from Scorpina. "Why are you here?"

"Just making sure you got the message." Scorpina says. "The clock is ticking on the Pink Ranger's life, and her little boyfriend's as well."

"We heard." Trini says, slowly rising to her feet. "And you should also know that we…"

"Are still deciding on the best solution." Zack says, cutting her off. "We got the message. We know Kim and Tommy are in trouble."

"Well you had better think fast. You're almost out of time." Scorpina says. She then shoots another laser at the rangers from her arm. The rangers dodge this one, but when they look back, Scorpina is gone.

"Why would she just bail like that?" Zack says.

"I guess she was just delivering this message in person." Billy says. "It makes sense. Why attack now, when they've issued their ultimatum?"

"Let's get back to the Command Center." Trini says, noticeably limping.

"Whoa." Zack says. "Are you OK? That shot got you right in the leg."

"I'll be fine." Trini says. "It's just a stinger." Billy laughs at this, and Zack and Trini both give him a weird look.

"What?" Billy says. "Stinger? She's a scorpion. Don't tell me that pun wasn't on purpose. It was brilliant."

"Come on, let's be serious now." Trini says. "Let's go."

They teleport away and land back at the Command Center.

Billy rushes over to the computer system to check on the progress of the scan for Zordon. "Still no luck." He says.

"So what did Scorpina want?" Jason asks his friends.

"Just to make sure we knew the situation." Zack says.

"What now? Until the duplicate power coin is finished, do we just wait here, or what?" Trini says.

"I guess we go home." Jason says. "I guess you guys could still go to the homecoming dance, if you wanted to, but I don't have a ticket."

"We're not going to the dance." Zack says. "We couldn't possibly have a good time now."

"Plus, by now, the dance is almost over." Billy says. "It's going on 10 already." Jason looks at his watch. "Oh crap, you're right."

"So what's the plan?" Zack says. "We all go home tonight, and then what?"

"Meet back here early tomorrow." Jason says. "Say 8 am?"

"Can we make it noon?" Zack says. "I know you're thinking I'm being lazy, but I'm not. My parents would know something is up if I'm up at 8 am on a Sunday. Plus, we have until 7 tomorrow night to hand over the Power Coins. Being here doesn't do us much good. We have a plan in place, with the duplicate power coin, and the computers are scanning for Zordon as we speak. We won't find him any faster with us being here. The only reason to be here is so we have enough time to pick up the duplicate, and with teleportation that only takes a few minutes. It's all up to Jones to finish it on time."

"Noon sounds good to me." Billy says.

"Zack's right." Trini says. "Being here early will only give us more time to worry."

"Fine, noon it is." Jason says.

"Good luck rangers." Alpha says. "I'll continue to monitor for any problems and alert you if you are needed sooner. The rangers all nod, and then teleport away.

Kim is still strung up in the Dark Dimension. She's been struggling to get free, for hours, but it's been no use. Suddenly the Green Ranger teleports in.

"I wish you hadn't been a Power Ranger." He says. Kim glares at him.

"We'll you're clearly not one." Kim says. "A true Power Ranger would never serve Rita. If you were truly a ranger, you would fight for what is right."

"You're pretty fiesty for a prisoner." The Green Ranger says. "I only said that because it's a shame someone as pretty as you had to be dragged into this situation."

"Quit trying to flatter me, creep." Kim says. "If you really felt that way, you'd let me go."

"You know I can't do that." He says. "Don't worry, shortly, this will all be behind us."

"What, are you going to kill me?" Kim asks.

"Of course not." He says. "I would never let that happen to you, or don't you remember me stopping Goldar earlier."

"I don't understand." Kim says. "If you're not going to kill, then what do you want with me."

"You're nothing but the bait in our plan." Tommy says. "Your friends will hand over their power coins to save you."

"Hate to break it to you, but even for me, they wouldn't do that." Kim says. "They know I can take care of myself, and I'd rather die than see the world left unprotected."

"Maybe not for you, but what about for your friend, Tommy." He asks. "The others don't know him like you do, but they wouldn't risk the life of an innocent bystander, would they?"

The green ranger opens a portal in front of Kim, and sees a horrifying image of Tommy being tortured.

"No, stop that!" She shouts. "Don't hurt him!" She is unaware that this image was staged earlier.

The Green Ranger closes the portal. "He's fine" He says. "I only came to tell you that your life is safe if I have anything to say about it."

"Am I supposed to say 'thank you'? You'll forgive me is I'm less than impressed by this 'generous gesture'." Kim says.

The Green Ranger turns away. "Whatever you say, Pink Ranger. Just now that this will soon be over." He says, then teleports out of the dimension.

The next day, the rangers regroup at the Command Center around noon. Zack is the last to teleport in.

"Nice of you to finally join us." Trini says sarcastically.

"Sorry, I had a long night." Zack says. "I couldn't sleep at all."

"None of us could." Jason says.

"Still no Zordon, huh?" Zack asks, looking up at the empty energy tube.

"No, but I do have some good news." Jason says. The others look at him, puzzled. "I was waiting for all of you to get here before I told you guys, but take a look at this." Jason pulls out 2 Power Coins, one is the real one and one is the duplicate one that Jones made for them.

"Whoa." Zack says.

"Impressive." Billy says. "I can't tell which one is the real one."

"I know, I was worried about that myself." Jason says. "Jones did a great job on this. Almost too good a job. There really isn't any difference in the way they look or feel." He holds up the one in his right hand. "This is the real one. I kept it on the right side and kept the fake on the left." He puts the coins back in his pockets.

"Let's get this over with." Zack says. "I know we have a few more hours, but if Kim was going to break free, she would've done it by now."

"Plus, she wouldn't without Tommy." Billy says.

"That's right. She still thinks he a friend." Trini says. "We need to get her back as soon as possible."

"Where is the exchange going to happen?" Jason asks. "We never set a place with Goldar."

"I say we go to the North side of Angel Grove Lake and call him there." Billy says. "The beach over there is always empty, plus it's isolated from the rest of town. It would at least buy us a few minutes to get your Power Coin back from Alpha."

"Sounds as good a place as any." Jason says. "We'll be back soon Alpha, hopefully with Kim."

"Good luck, rangers." Alpha says. "I just wish there was another way." The rangers agree and teleport away.

They land on the beach on the north side of Angel Grove Lake.

"Alright, Goldar, we've made our choice!" Jason shouts. "You can have the power coins, just give us our friends back!" Suddenly, lightning strikes in front of them, and Goldar appears, along with Scorpina and a squad of putties holding Kim and Tommy hostage.

"Wise decision, rangers, though I'm shocked it came this early." Goldar says. "You still have a few hours until the deadline would've passed."

"We weren't going to risk you killing them." Trini shouts.

"Hand over the power coins, and they are free to go." Goldar says. A box suddenly appears in his hands. Kim's Power coin is already in the box. "Place them in here." Billy walks up, pulls out his coin, and puts it in there. Next, Trini, followed by Zack. Finally, Jason walks up pulls the coin out of his left pocket, and places it in the box.

"Finally, the Power Rangers will no longer stand in our way!" Goldar shouts. "The Earth belongs to Empress Rita!"

End Chapter 18