Chapter 1: Sometimes You Can't Make it on your Own
"Our teacher is the oldest living power ranger!"
"Not the oldest," came a voice from behind them, causing the three rangers to spin around.
"Hayley?" Ethan asked in shock.
"Just the best."
"How did you get in here?" asked Conner.
"More importantly, what do you know about this?" questioned Kira.
"I know Tom is in trouble."
This confirmed what they were most afraid of. They had the power now, not their mentor and teacher. How was he supposed to escape… or for that matter survive the TyranoDrones, Zeltrax or any of Mesogog's henchmen?
With that Hayley went on to explain her role in building the dino technology that they were using, and then they moved back to the console. She slipped in the surveillance disk from her café, showing Tommy's kidnapping at the hands of the TyranoDrones. Following the shocked and outraged comments of the rest of the group about why Tommy hadn't morphed, they went on through the rest of the video diary, outlining Tommy's exit from the team and the other incarnations. Finally, when they finished, Kira suggested that they could use the Invisiportals that the TyranoDrones used, and Hayley gave her a smile.
"I've been working on the very same idea. I just need more time," she finished with a tremor in her voice.
"Hayley, you have to figure it out. We have to go in and get him back," announced Ethan passionately, his fist punching the open palm of his other hand.
"Yeah! Just tell us how to get there and we'll storm in…" Kira began, looking excited at the idea that they could save their teacher.
Her fierce pronouncement prompted the rangers to give Hayley uniform stunned looks. She could tell that they were about to argue, and she needed to cut off any dispute before it even started. Tom might have believed that they were ready, but she knew better. They needed help, and no matter what technical skills she had, she couldn't replace a Zordon, a Dimetria or even a former greatest ranger of all time.
They needed a 'real' ranger. Or two.
"You guys are still green. Yes, you've done okay for your first couple times out, but this is serious. If I send the three of you into the lion's den without backup, someone that can provide you some guidance, not only would Tom be gone, but the three of you could get caught as well, and Mesogog gets the dino gems. You need help…" she related calmly but firmly.
"Like who?" queried Conner suspiciously.
As if on cue, the back door to the cave slid open, the slab of rock moving to reveal two people. The first was a man, stocky but toned, his dark hair cut close to his head and wearing a brown bomber style leather jacket, black t-shirt and blue jeans. The other was a shorter woman, slim but athletic, her long brown hair tied up in a swinging ponytail, sporting black jeans and jade colored blouse covered by a black leather biker jacket.
"Whoa! Where did you guys come from?" Ethan asked, surprised to see civilians just walking into the command center.
"And how did you get in here?" questioned Conner, his arms swinging into a defensive position as he prepared for a fight.
Kira followed Conner's lead, but continued to give the newcomers a puzzled stare; something about them was making her feel like she was having a case of déjà vu. "You look familiar…"
"They should. You just saw them on Tom's diary," explained Hayley simply, nodding in greeting to the new arrivals that looked slightly worse for wear. Considering how quickly they had gotten here since she had called them just a few hours before, she wasn't surprised.
"You're rangers!" exclaimed all three of the teens, making the adults in the room wince.
"Former rangers," stated the man thickly.
"Actually, I was hoping that you would be willing to change that," Hayley said tensely, her heart in her throat as she now had to get them to go through with the hasty plan b that she'd concocted once she knew for sure that Tom had been kidnapped by Mesogog's goons.
"What do you mean? And where's Tommy? I thought you said he was in trouble," questioned the slight brunette, her hands clenching at her sides in what the teens thought seemed like fear and concern.
"He's been captured, by Mesogog," Hayley explained, and the two visitor rangers' eyes widened, and the woman reached over to catch the man's hand in hers. "Connor, Kira and Ethan want to go in after him, but I can't send them alone…"
"Hayley, you know that the dino powers are gone, and the ninja coins are lost with Zordon," the dark haired man said regretfully. "What do you expect us to do?"
Smiling, Hayley got up from her spot at the console. In her hands she had a bag, and she dug into it to pull out something. The new rangers watched her intently, starting to realize what she might have in there.
"Take up the mantle again," she said, opening her hand to show two stones, one white, one purple.
The two former rangers looked at each other in wonder. If she was offering what they thought she was…
"Okay, hold on a sec. How about an introduction before we add new team members?" Ethan spoke up, his hand jutting in the air as if to ask a question of a teacher.
"Sorry, my bad. Ethan James, blue ranger, Conner McKnight, red ranger and Kira Ford, yellow ranger, let me introduce you to Jason Scott, the first red ranger and Kimberly Hart, the first pink ranger."
"Oh, wow… you guys were the first… and you were rangers with Dr. O," whispered Kira, stunned.
"And that's why you came, to help your former team mate," Conner stated with admiration.
"Exactly," said Jason, his grim smile making the others feel like he really meant what he said, and would do what it took to get Dr. O back.
"And these gems will give you the power to do that," reminded Hayley, her hand still holding the gems outstretched before them.
"What happens after we get him back?" Jason asked, curious what his bro would have to say about him and Kim joining 'his' team.
"You can decide that with him and the others afterwards. For now, if the gems accept you, then you're rangers again," Hayley stated, her eyes urging the two former rangers to accept this new role.
"And if they don't?" wondered Kim aloud.
"Let's worry about that if it doesn't work."
With that, Jason and Kim turned back to the two gems and Jason stifled a laugh, making Kim swivel her head to look at him in question.
"I was always jealous that Tommy got to wear white."
"You never had to wash all those white jeans," she retorted, and he simply shrugged.
"You okay with purple?" he questioned sympathetically, knowing that not wearing pink might be a sore spot with Kim, considering the sacrifice of her powers, coin and uniform to Kat all those years ago.
"Yeah. I'm glad it's not pink… I don't think that would be a really good idea, considering."
Jason looked at Kim and gave her a knowing frown. Maybe this was just the thing to force them into resolving that old issue…
Finally with a nod to one another, Kim and Jason reached forward to take up their gem from Hayley's hand. Jason clutched the white gem tightly, his eyes closing as he felt the tendrils of power begin to spin around him. Kimberly took the amethyst colored gem, folding it between both palms.
In moments, the light form their gems surrounded them completely, and then disappeared in a blight flash, making the other rangers and Hayley turn away and shield their eyes.
"Well, I guess that takes care of the question of if you can go back," said Hayley as she turned quickly to snatch up two morphers she had on the workbench. "You'll need these now."
Taking the morphers, the two old yet new rangers strapped them on with efficiency. With deep breaths, the two pressed the buttons on their morphers, their thoughts leading them back to older days…
"White ranger, power up!"
"Purple ranger, power up!"
With a series of bright lights and a rush of wind, two newly minted rangers stood in the room. Kim stood in a near match to Kira's uniform, except for minor differences in the helmet, and the fact that the color was a vibrant shade of violet.
Beside her through, Jason's uniform was more than different. Black stripes lined his uniform where the diamonds appeared on the others. Just like Tommy's way back when, the white ranger uniform continued to follow its own path, and didn't conform to the team uniform.
"Wow," murmured Kim as she looked at Jason, then glanced at herself in her new uniform and new color. Around them, she saw the wide eyed astonishment of Kira, Ethan and Conner, and wondered if they even realized that they looked nearly the same as she and Jason did when they morphed.
"Well, now that this is done, let's go get Tommy," Jason said behind his helmet, the confidence evident in his voice.
"Good. It just so happens that while you were morphing, I came up with a theory. You'll need to get up to a speed of 536 mph to make it past the security wall…" began Hayley, moving quickly to start calculations at the console.
Everyone hurriedly moved to huddle around her as they began planning the rescue of the man who was their friend, mentor and in one person's case, former flame.
After Mesogog sent Elsa and Zeltrax to get the team, Tommy again struggled against the straps holding his body to the metal chair in the center of what seemed to be Mesogog's main lab.
He knew that the lab was most likely in the heart of the complex, meaning it would be the most well guarded room in the place. Which meant he had three options; 1, help Mesogog, which wasn't even a consideration; 2, escape, which wasn't looking very hopeful; or 3, wait for the rescue, which he knew was the most likely thing. This worried him the most.
While his new recruits had done well in their first couple encounters with the TyranoDrones, he wasn't sure they were up to either a covert rescue mission or an all out attack. Either way, he was afraid that their inexperience would get them captured along with him, no matter what he'd said in his video diary. Conner needed more time to get up to speed, and Tommy didn't have that time to spare.
What he needed was a miracle.
Looking around, his eyes landed back on the chunk of rock that held a new mystery. A black gem stone that from Mesogog's own mouth was supposedly a power source, hat he guessed was another dino gem. He and Hayley had been looking for weeks for more stones, and now one magically surfaced when he could really use it the most.
Except it was across the room, still encased in what looked to be clear acrylic or even pale amber.
If he could just get loose, and somehow break it open… maybe…
Twisting in his restraints again, he stared at Mesogog, who grinned evilly at him.
Was that, he thought to himself before all hell broke loose. An alarm sounded through the complex, startling everyone.
"It seems we have visitors," hissed Mesogog.
"I'm going to take a guess that it's for you," quipped Tommy with a smirk.
"There's that wit again. If I had a sense of humor, I might enjoy it," spat Mesogog before turning to the TyranoDrones surrounding them. "I'll handle the intruders myself."
With that Mesogog quickly exited the room, leaving Tommy with the half dozen TyranoDrones, who sort of milled around, confused. He'd hoped that Mesogog would take them with him, so maybe he could try breaking free.
Then he found himself surprised again as the door behind him blew open and rangers poured in, engaged in battle with TyranoDrones from outside, and within. Three rangers he recognized, as his students. But the two rangers with them were new. He watched avidly as a white and a purple ranger waded through the chaos with accuracy and confidence, analyzing them as they moved and fought and figured out something startling.
They had experience.
And the longer he watched them; he realized that the way they moved looked familiar, as did their forms… Too familiar.
He violently shook his head to clear it. Maybe he was seeing things. Maybe instead of being rescued, Mesogog had found a new game to play with him, to get him to reveal the secret of the gems. Tommy opened his eyes again to see the white ranger make his way to his side and grasp his shoulder.
"Come on bro, we gotta get outta here," said the white ranger in a voice that stunned Tommy into silence as the white gloves pulled open his restraints.
"Hurry!" called out Kira from the doorway as she let out a terra scream towards the oncoming TyranoDrones.
"Hold on, I've got to get this," Tommy informed the white ranger as he shoved his way up from the chair and lurched towards the rock at the other side of the room. "Get them out of here."
"Leave it! We came for you."
"And I'll be along in a second. Come on, trust me bro," he said, watching the white ranger tilt his head slightly before nodding.
Just like he used to, when he wore red, he thought. With that small acknowledgement, Tommy knew that he'd been right. And if he was correct in his guess about Jase, that meant…
"Bad guys coming!" yelled a new but old voice from beside Conner that ran a chill through Tommy's bones, and he shrugged off as impossible delirium.
"Go!" yelled Tommy again, shoving his friend towards the door as he rushed to the block of rock with the gem stone Mesagog wanted and tucked it under his arm. He landed a spin kick on a TyranoDrone between him and the portal, and then leapt, following his friends and his team.
They all arrived before him in the downtown, and they turned looking for him.
"Where is he?" yelled Conner.
Then suddenly Tommy appeared, landing in a crouch in front of them, leading to a cheer from the teens, and a sigh of relief from Kim and Jason. Their happiness was short lived, as Elsa appeared out of the same portal with Zeltrax, a group of TyranoDrones and a monster that they'd briefly clashed with on the island fortress. Tommy turned around to face Elsa and Zeltrax, the rock in his hands.
Flinging his sword forth, Zeltrax send out a beam of electrical energy towards Tommy, which he quickly blocked with the stone. As the power being sent at him increased, Tommy fought to keep the rock holding the power gem between him and the beam, lest he end up injured or worse…
But the power of the beam was too much, and Tommy felt himself being thrown into the air, the stone going with him. To everyone else, they watched as he flew backwards, and a bright flash blinded them all. When it dissipated, they were shocked.
The stone casing lay shattered on the ground, and there was no sign of Tommy.
"Dr. Oliver!" cried out Ethan.
"Tommy!" screamed Kim, beginning to move forward towards the people who had killed…
"No! This can't be happening," said Kira in astonishment.
"Haven't you leaned anything about our world? Nothing is impossible," stated Elsa with a smug look.
"Even the destruction of the great Dr. Tommy Oliver," cackled Zeltrax.
Then from thin air, a voice rang out, surprising everyone.
"I heard my name?" said Tommy, appearing from out of nowhere. "You missed me, didn't you Zeltrax."
The team rushed to his side, Connor reaching for Dr. O's hand.
"A black dino gem!" Ethan exclaimed.
"That gem belongs to my master," called out Elsa from where she stood, ready to attack.
"There's two things you need to learn about dino gems. One is that you don't chose them, they chose you," said Tommy.
"And the other?"
"They go really well with dino morphers."
At that, Tommy slid down his sleeve, revealing a morpher attached to his wrist. With one swift move, he slammed the gem into the morpher, blending the stone with the device.
"Aren't you a little old for this Tommy," spat out Elsa, and beside him, Kim and Jason struggled not to laugh.
"I may be old, but I can still pull it off," he replied with a smirk as he produced a key for his morpher. "Dino Thunder, power up!"
With a flash of light and a rush of wind, Tommy was gone, and in his place stood a black ranger, helmet and uniform gleaming in the sunlight.
"Just like riding a bike."
"One more makes no difference. Attack!" cried Zeltrax, sending his troops into battle.
But in a way, it did matter. Because with three legends and three new heroes, the odds were totally in their favor.
The battle over, the new black ranger stood in the center of the command center with the woman who had helped him more over the last six years than he could count. He had powered down from his uniform and fought to keep the anger and astonishment he felt at the return of his best friend and his ex-girlfriend to his life and their sudden appearance as dino thunder rangers. Gritting his teeth, he counted to ten before he issued one word.
"I discovered the white and purple dino gems just at the same time the black gem was located by Mesagog. He was focused on you and it, so I was able to gather them up."
Tommy sighed and rubbed his head as a massive headache threatened to overtake him. This was all too much in too short a period of time. The torture under Mesogog, his new powers and on top of that Jase and Kim… But he couldn't just put this of, he still had questions that he needed the answers for. Even if he really didn't want to know them.
"I needed someone that could help Conner lead, someone that had experience," Hayley said calmly, speaking to her former college friend as if he was a five year old.
"And you called Jason, that I get," Tommy said, pacing the command center, his eyes fighting not to glance upstairs where she had gone with Jason. "But Kim?"
"If I told you, you wouldn't believe me. Why don't you ask her?"
"Fine then. Jason's upstairs. Ask him."
He stared at Hayley for long heartbeats before he realized that the redhead wasn't going to back down. With a sigh, he headed for the stairs leading to the trap door, and with leaden feet trudged up the stairs. As he emerged, he looked through the kitchen doorway to see the living room empty save for his best friend since high school. Unbidden, a small smile at the sight of his brother in all but blood appeared on his face, and he made his way up into the kitchen.
"Jase?" he called out, and watched his friend crane his head forward to peer into the kitchen.
"Hey. How you feeling?" asked Jason as Tommy surveyed the area, finding them alone, and he gratefully headed to the couch.
"Better. You know how it is; ranger powers seem to find their way to me," he commented with weariness in his tone as he flopped onto the couch.
"What else is new. So, we're both back in the saddle… you okay with that?"
"You, yes. I have to admit that it felt good to be back in uniform, and with you there with me, it's even better."
Jason noted the omission, and knew he'd have to call his stubborn friend on it.
"We were worried you'd want us to give them back as soon as you were free," he said pointedly, staring his friend straight in the eye.
Tommy looked away quickly, knowing that what could be seen in his eyes would only fuel Jason's defensiveness. Of all the rangers, he was the one that had kept the closest to Kim after the breakup. He never knew exactly how his best friend had kept from mentioning Kim to him over the years, but they had a silent agreement that to stay friends, Kim had to stay an unspoken subject.
However, Jason knew what was in his eyes, his heart anyway. He'd been there for him during it all, if only by phone. But still, the fact was that Jason knew where Tommy's pain and weaknesses laid.
"She wanted to come."
"I don't know why."
"Because she still cares about you."
Tommy laughed harshly. "Yeah, like a brother."
Old wounds were opening up again, and Jase frowned. Why these two couldn't see what was right in front of them mystified him.
"Look, just talk with her, okay?"
"Come on o' fearless leader. It's just Kim. And she's just as nervous about talking with you. Talk, clear the air. And then we can decide if you need two new rangers, or if your team's together. She's staying at the Marriott, just down the hall from me."
Tommy paused and close his eyes tightly. Talking with Kim was just what he'd been dreading. If he was honest with himself, he'd done everything he could to make sure that he wasn't in the same room with her after the Muranthias thing, and he'd let the silence eat at him along with the pain.
And now… now he had to talk to her so they could be a team again? Couldn't he just go back and take on Mesogog single handedly instead, he thought morosely.
"Tommy," Jason started, and was rewarded with his friend's eyes opening and focusing on him. There was a resignation there that encouraged and worried him all at the same time.
"I… it's late. I'll call… I'll see her tomorrow and we'll talk."
"Good. I'll see you both afterwards, and we can talk with the new kids about what is going to happen next."
Nodding, Tommy shook Jason's hand absently and watched him get up off the couch and move to the door. As the door shut behind Jase, Tommy got up and headed for the refrigerator. Pulling out a six pack of Budweiser that normally would have lasted him a week, he made his way back to the couch, determined to get numb so he wouldn't dread the morning, and the fateful talk that he'd been avoiding for nearly a decade.