Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers.
When Unabeth came to, she found herself in a large, square field fringed with tall, bare trees on all sides. The grass in the field was yellowing, dead, and would have come nearly to her waist had she been standing. Dandelions and a few withering wild flowers dotted the edges of the field near where the forest began, poking through piles of dead, multicolored leaves but it was apparent that the changing seasons had already begun to take their toll of their short lives. The sky was gray and dotted with charcoal clouds, and it was warm out, but the wind was sharp and biting. Autumn would be arriving soon.
However, none of this mattered to Unabeth for all that she could register, at the moment, was that she was no longer in the cave that she had been imprisoned in so long ago. She sat up silently, sweeping her long, curly hair out of her dark, violet eyes as she did so. She smiled when she saw that her servants, Huzgoss – a griffman – and Gacksum – a creature of her own creating known as kiraak – had already awakened and were kneeling before her silently. She got to her feet, lifting the hem of her gown, and said, smiling, her voice as shrill and sweet as the sound of jingle-bells, "Arise, my servants. Our imprisonment by those wretched magi has finally come to an end, and we are free at last from their curse."
"Mistress Unabeth," Huzgoss said as he and Gacksum rose slowly to their feet. "It is so good to hear your beautiful voice again after such a long time." He walked towards her on his two lion-like feet as he spoke. Then when he reached her, he reached out with one long, tawny, wing-like arm and took her hand in his, and brought it slowly to his lips. Then he looked up at her with enormous golden eyes and added, "However..." His voice trailed off hesitantly.
"However?" Unabeth said with raised eyebrows, jerking her hand away from him.
"It has occurred to us, mistress," Gacksum said, stepping forward and gesturing with his four arms, "that the magi who imprisoned us to begin with would never have released us from their curse themselves."
"Yes," Huzgoss said, nodding. "They feared us greatly, and your magical powers even more so."
"Yes, I realize this," Unabeth said, frowning at the two of them. "We were released by someone who is sided neither with the magi nor with myself."
Huzgoss quickly exchanged a glance with Gacksum and asked, "And do you have any idea who that someone may be?"
"Or what they might want?" Gacksum quickly added.
"No, of course not," Unabeth said as she turned away from the two of them and started towards a nearby silver birch tree. "However, should they ever choose to reveal themselves to me..." She got to the tree, and reached out to it's nearest branch. She grasped it in her hand and broke it off silently. As she did so, the branch was transformed into a long, thin, wand the tip of which came to an end in a tight, ornate coil. She turned back to her two monstrous servants. "...They shall be greatly rewarded."
"Yes, my mistress," Huzgoss said, nodding and swishing his lion tail as he spoke, "but if I may be so bold as to inquire – what are your plans for now?"
Unabeth looked at him, smiling. "My plans for now," she said. She then paused and pointed the coiled end of the wand at a nearby of dead leaves, which then burst into flames rather abruptly. "My plans for now are revenge, Huzgoss."
As Unabeth finished speaking, a flash of lightning lit up the ever-darkening sky and rain began to pour down on the three of them as they started to leave.
Hala lay in bed silently, her mind still groggy and full of thoughts about Newcroft. She opened her eyes and groaned as the canopy of her new bed came into focus. She had completely forgotten that her parents had gotten her a new bed. And a bedroom. Complete with walk-in closet, vanity, and bathroom.
Hala looked up silently to see her mother standing in the doorway of her room, dressed in a black pant-suit with her dark hair piled high on top her head in a messy bun. "Yeah, Mom?" she asked, her voice sounding somewhat muffled and throaty due to lack of usage.
"Your breakfast is ready," Amira told her as she turned and started to leave. "Come and eat before it gets cold."
Hala lay silently as she listened her mother's footsteps fade away down the hall. Then she sat up and checked the sparkly, pink wall-clock that hung on the wall just over the door that led to the hall. It was only seven-thirty. She climbed out of bed and crossed the room to the doorway where she paused. "Mom!" she called out to her mother, who she could hear going down the stairs now. "It's seven-thirty in the morning – I'm going back to bed!"
"Come eat or you're grounded!" Amira called back up to her.
Hala sighed and closed her door behind her quietly. "Alright, alright," she said as she walked down the hallway, carefully avoiding all the boxes that were still left over from the day before. She paused when she came to staircase.
At the very foot of the stairs was the front door of the house, which her parents had paid to have tiled with stained glass tiles of The Great Pyramid under the full moon and navy blue, star-dotted sky. If she remembered correctly, those were the same tiles her mother had picked out for their first house back in New York and her father had insisted on bringing them with them in the move. All of three of them. Through the stained glass, though, Hala could see the front path that led to the house and the yard, and coming up the path was a tall boy with messy blond hair and bright green eyes, carrying a plastic shopping bag. He was dressed in a red T-shirt with a black blazer and blue jeans.
Hala stared at him for a moment. There was vaguely familiar about him. Then, suddenly, it clicked as just as soon he stepped onto the porch. Hala ran down the stairs and threw the front door open just as the boy raised his hand to start knocking. "Aren't you the guy from the moving company?" she asked, stepping out onto the front porch and closing the door quickly behind her. Up close, she saw that he wore a tiny, red square stud earring in his right ear and he wore a thin, silver chain around his neck with a set of dog tags dangling from it.
The boy stared at her for a moment, uncertainly. Then he looked away from her, retreated down the front path a bit, and looked around the path and the yard silently, as though to checking to see if there was anyone else around that she could possibly be talking to. When he was certain that there wasn't, he looked at her, smiling, and said, "Yeah, hi, my name is Mason Matthews. I live down the street just there." He paused and pointed to a pale blue Victorian, two-story house at the end of street and looked back at her. "And, yeah, I work for the moving company. Nice to meet you." He offered Hala his hand to shake.
Hala stared at him as she followed him down the path, ignoring his offer to shake hands, silently for a moment in disbelief. Then she said, "You live down the street?"
"Uh, yeah," Mason said, his hand dropping back down to his side. "And my mom made cookies for you guys as a welcoming gift to the neighborhood." He held up the plastic shopping bag, which Hala now saw held a metal cookie tin similar to the ones people bought around Christmastime. "And we probably go to school together. I mean, how old are you?"
"Sixteen," Hala said simply, accepting the bag with the cookie tin in it. Her mother would have killed her if she refused to take it – bad manners.
"Yeah, me too," Mason said, laughing and nodding. "My name is Mason Matthews, and you are?"
Hala scowled at him. He was laughing at her. He was actually laughing at her, and for no reason. She wasn't sure why, but for some reason, this irritated her. "My name is Hala," she said, putting her hand on her hip. "And what,exactly, is so funny?"
"You are," Mason told her, laughing. "You just came running out here, dressed in your pajamas with your hair all messed up, acting like a total zombie. It's adorable."
Hala's face dropped as she felt her cheeks burn red, and she was suddenly glad for she had inherited her parents' exceptionally dark complexion. She stared at Mason, partially in disbelief, partially angry – was he honestly hitting on her? He didn't even know her.
"So do you ever plan on actually saying something?" Mason asked her, grinning after a long moment of silence.
"Yeah," Hala said, her scowl returning and her cheeks still flushed with blood. "Thanks for the cookies." She spun on her heel and made for the door to head back inside.
"Hey, wait a minute," Mason called after her, running after her and grabbing her by her arm.
Hala froze when she felt his hand on her arm, but only for a moment before she sighed and jerked away from him. She spun around to face him again. "What is it?" she demanded angrily.
Mason's smile faded. He frowned and said, his tone somewhat more serious, "School is starting next week –"
"It is?" Hala said, cutting him off, her anger suddenly evaporated. "I had no idea it started so soon around here. Do you know when the first day is?"
"Yeah, obviously," Mason said, scoffing. "It's the sixth, and I really love how you're suddenly being nice now that you need to know something." He turned away from her and started down the path.
"Hey!" Hala said, following after him. "Hold on a second – you're the one, who turned up here at seven-thirty in the freaking morning to drop off cookies of all things, laughing like a moron for absolutely no reason and hitting on me –"
"Whoa,"Mason said, turning around to face her. "Now, you need to hold on – when in the world I was ever hitting on you?"
Hala paused and her face fell as it suddenly dawned on her that he was probably making fun of her rather than hitting on her, and if that were case then she had just made a complete and total idiot out of herself. "Y-you said I was adorable," she said, her voice faltering slightly as she felt herself blushing with embarrassment.
"No, I said it was adorable," Mason corrected her. "As in your behavior, and it was adorable seeing you act like a stupefied four-year-old, meeting Santa Claus for the first time."
"Hala, is everything alright?"
They both turned to see Amira, standing on the porch, closing the door behind her with her car keys in hand.
"Oh, hi, Mom," Hala said, frowning at her. "Are you, um, going somewhere?" She pointed to the keys in her mother's hand.
"Yes, I'm going to work," Amira said as she walked down the path and crossed the lawn to the garage. "Your father is still inside, but your breakfast is cold by now because you let it sit for so long. Who is your friend?"
"Oh," Hala said, turning back to Mason, scowling. "This is Mason. He lives down the street. He's one of the movers who helped with the move yesterday."
"Oh, yes, I remember you," Amira said, smiling sweetly at Mason. "It's so nice to meet you formally, Mason. I look forward to having you as a neighbor."
"Thank you," Mason said, smiling back at her. "It was nice seeing you again, Mrs. Nazari."
Hala watched as her mom waved to them both before climbing into her red hybrid car, and driving away.
"She has a nice car," Mason said quietly.
"What?" Hala said, scowling at him.
"Your mom," Mason said. "She's got a nice car."
"So what?" Hala said angrily. "Are we suddenly playing nice now?"
"Look," Mason said, sighing. "I'm sorry about what I said, but you weren't exactly nice yourself."
Hala stared at him for a moment, her anger slowly beginning to dissipate. "Are you really apologizing?" she asked him, frowning. "I mean, you're not just playing games or pretending to apologize or something, are you?"
"What kind of person does something like that?" Mason asked her, his expression skeptical.
"A bad one," Hala said, looking away from him and scowling down at her bare feet. It was then she realized it was cold and she was standing in a pile of dead leaves, and she wasn't entirely sure if she would have looked stupider if she moved or stayed where she was.
"Anyway, though," Mason said, pulling Hala out of her reverie. "Yes, I'm really apologizing. Are we cool now?"
"I guess so," Hala said, shrugging. She frowned as a thought occurred to her and quickly added, "I'm really sorry, too. I'm just not much of a morning person, I guess." She smiled a little.
"I'll try to remember that the next time I stop over," Mason said, laughing. "By the way, I was going to ask you – do you want to carpool to school with me and my friend, Emmy?"
"Maybe," Hala said, frowning. "I was kinda planning on just taking the bus to school, and if I said yes, I'd want meet to this Emmy girl first, so I wouldn't end up trapped in a carpool with someone I hated, you know?"
"So, yes, and then come meet us tomorrow at The Coffee Pot for lunch, so you can meet her," Mason told her, smiling. "You and Emmy will get along great, I promise."
"How about this?" Hala said, laughing. "I'll meet you guys tomorrow after I download the directions from the net, and then if Emmy and I get along, I'll agree to carpool with you."
"Sounds good," Mason said, nodding. "I'll catch you tomorrow." He turned, and started off across her front yard in direction of his house.
Hala turned towards her front door, hugging the bag with the cookie tin in it to her chest tightly. Then she paused. There was a silver, spotted kitten sitting on her porch, bathing itself. "Aww," she said, bending down to pet it. "What a pretty kitty you are." But as she drew nearer to it, the cat meowed loudly and ran down the path before disappearing down the sidewalk.
Hala sighed and straightened up as she watched it disappear. "That's okay," she said, smiling somewhat sadly. "My parents would never have let me keep you anyway."
On the other side of Cedarwood Falls, in a white house with a tall tower stood hidden behind a six-foot tall wood fence. Inside the house, Calriel Gaspar stood silently inside his study. The walls of the room were beige and wood-panelled, and a tall bookshelf took up all entire back wall beside the door. Calriel himself was standing behind his desk, which a held a thick, ancient book bound in black leather and a framed picture of a beautiful woman with long, auburn hair and sparkling blue eyes, with his back to the room facing the bay window that overlooked his front lawn. He was tall and strangely pale for someone living in California. He had a narrow nose, a square jaw that was covered in a constant stubble, long brown hair that was pulled back into a ponytail with a thin leather cord, and cold, calculating grey eyes.
As he stood, he reached out silently and closed the shades on the window, blocking the world from his view. Then he turned just as the door of his study was opened, and a small, twelve-year-old girl with long red hair poked her head inside the doorway, caring a thin wooden box with a padlock on it.
"You found them, Riclin?" Calriel said as the girl came into the room and set the box on his desk.
"Yes, Calriel," Riclin said, smiling. "Quite easily, actually. I still remember when you asked me to make them ten years ago, although I'm still not certain that the elders would approve."
Calriel frowned when he heard this. "I have done many things that the elders would not approve of were they still alive," he said, sitting down in his swivel chair at his desk. "But you know why I asked you to make these. The old ones were no longer adequate, the magic embedded in them long ago had begun to finally wear off. However..." He paused and grabbed the box Riclin had set on the desk and pulled it towards him. "These will more than suffice whoever happens to be destined own them."
"You really have no idea they're going to go to, Calriel?" Riclin asked, her smile fading.
"No," Calriel said, fidgeting with the lock on the box, "but I know they shall leave our presence soon, for you know that Unabeth has been awakened from her slumber, and only the descendents of the elders chosen by the spirits will be able to stop her before it is too late." He paused in his fidgeting and brought his hands together to his forehead. "Although, I do believe that whoever these belong may attend my school."
Riclin looked up at him, her hair falling in her face, frowning and said, "Why is that?"
"These things have a way of working themselves out," Calriel said, smiling as opened the top left-hand drawer of his desk. He reached inside and pulled out a tiny, silver key.