Tommy Oliver sighed as he sat on the park bench. It was well past midnight, but he knew no one would be missing him at home. His adoptive parents were probably passed out drunk hours ago.
He was more tired than he wanted to admit. He was tired enough that even sleeping on the park bench was sounding good, but he knew sleep wouldn't come that easily. He hadn't been sleeping recently - every time he tried, or even when he just relaxed, his thoughts kept drifting off, remembering…
It was a cold night, he realized. And way too late for the day he knew was bound to follow. He knew he should go, to Jason's house if nowhere else, and get some sleep. Jason didn't keep the nightmares away, but he did sooth Tommy when they came, and he never looked down on him because of them. Jason was his best friend, his brother of choice, and his leader, the one that most supported his place on the team, even over his girlfriend Kim. But sometimes Tommy could see that even Jason wasn't completely sure about him. Especially when he woke from a nightmare of the control spell time only to realize he'd been talking in his sleep, saying things that scared the other.
Perhaps it was because of this, but whatever the reason, Tommy couldn't make himself go there or even decide on somewhere else to go. It's not like he could sleep anyway. His latest nightmares, remembering the ones that died at his hands when Rita's spell controlled him, then endless battles targeting him since the Rangers freed him and he joined their team, all this had him wound so tight, even if he wasn't afraid to dream he knew he just couldn't seem to wind down, tonight. The battle earlier today had been rough, as they all were since Lord Zedd arrived on the moon. Rita was bad enough on her own, but this Zedd character was . . .
Tommy found his eyes drawn to the full moon. Before he came to Angel Grove, he used to look up at the moon and stars and dream about what lied beyond. Rita's spell made his innocent dreams into nightmares, though.
He sighed again. "This isn't helping," he mumbled to himself.
"On the contrary, young Ranger," a voice stated. "I found it very helpful. Putties, attack."
Tommy jumped out of his seat before the creature finished speaking. The latest of Zedd's monsters was barely visible against the backdrop of night. 'Just great,' he thought sarcastically. 'I'm either on my own with Shadow here, or the others will be bugging me about my night's wonderings.' And they'd just recently started acting like they thought he could think on his own, since his last abduction. At least, that's what Tommy's sometimes jaded thoughts took their attention to be most the time. 'Damn it all, I don't need them or anyone running my life. I don't need anyone,' he thought venomously, almost loud enough to drown out the voice within him crying out for them or anyone to just be there, hold him, comfort him. let him rest from the tribulations of having no one to count on but himself.
He dropped into a fighting stance, deciding to hold off on morphing. Maybe he could get out of this without alerting the others. That was his last thought as two dozen Putties swarmed him. He never did see the Shadow again.
Companion Protector Major Liam Kincaid stopped Da'an outside their office. "Something's wrong," he whispered. "Let me check it out, first."
Da'an stepped aside and let his young Protector enter. He tried to hide his worry for him. Liam was more than just his Protector, they were also friends. But that wasn't it, either. Da'an was like a substitute father for the young hybrid. Though no one else working for the Taelons knew, Liam was the child of one of the Taelons enemies, recently killed by Da'an's last Protector: a Kimera named Ha'gel. Liam was only a few months old and had been acting as his Protector since the second day of his life.
"Um, Da'an, could you come in here?" Liam asked.
Da'an entered the office, locking the door behind him. Liam was kneeling beside a teenaged boy that lay unconscious in the middle of the floor. What surprised Da'an the most was that there seemed to be a bond of some sort between his Protector and the child.
"I don't think he's from here," Liam breathed, transfixed. He noticed some wounds on his side and leg, but the bleeding had stopped.
Da'an looked at the boy closer. A great Power seemed to envelope him, though Da'an hadn't felt any of it from outside the office. "I believe you are right." Da'an knelt beside Liam. He noticed the boy had a death's grip on something. Looking closer, he felt a shock of recognition. "He's a Power Ranger."
"Power Ranger. They are . . . Protectors of the Universe, usually stationed on one world or solar system, called to defend against a great threat. There are no Rangers in this system, or anywhere nearby." Da'an stood suddenly. "He's injured. I must call a healer."
"Will he be . . . safe?"
"Power Rangers are greatly revered, Liam. Our healers will do everything they can for him."
Da'an contacted Mit'gai, the head of the Healers, who promised to send a healer immediately. He would have come himself but he was on the other side of the planet at that moment and he wouldn't have the Ranger's care waiting for him to return. A moment later, a young healer named La'rel arrived. The Power Ranger chose that moment to awaken.
"Uh," he groaned as he opened his eyes. Seeing only unfamiliar and non-human faces, he immediately jumped into a fighting stance.
"It's okay," Liam assured him quietly. "We want to help you. You're injured."
The boy looked at Liam warily, but relaxed his stance a bit. The two Taelons decided to stay back and let Liam do the talking for the moment.
"Will you let me help you?"
He shook his head. "I'm okay. My friends will be here soon."
"You're side and leg are bleeding," Liam commented, seeing the injuries he'd noticed earlier were now bleeding openly. The boy looked down at his injuries with a distant look. "And probably going into shock. Let us help." Liam sighed at the stubborn look in the child's eyes. "I will personally guarantee your safety here."
At this, the young man gave him an intense look. "On your honor?"
Da'an finally spoke. "Liam, before you answer, honor has a ... stronger ... meaning for the Power Rangers."
Liam shrugged. "Honor is the most important thing one has. How could it mean more for him?" He answered the boy, "On my honor, I will do everything in my power to guarantee your safety here."
The Ranger smiled at the wording, knowing it was all the man could truthfully guarantee and to promise more would be to risk dishonor. Finally, he nodded. "I ... trust you," he breathed, sounding almost confused by this.
Liam approached him slowly. The boy tensed for a moment, but forced himself to relax. "It's okay," Liam breathed as he reached his side. He helped the boy sit down. "Can my ..." he wasn't sure how to explain the Taelons to the boy. Aliens he worked for, protected, one he considered almost a father, but definitely didn't trust didn't seem like the best way to get the boy to let them help. "Friends help. I'm not a doctor." The child nodded tensely; the Taelons approached, copying Liam's slow movements in an almost comical manner. As La'rel began checking the wounds, the boy leaned into Liam's side, drawing comfort. Liam asked, "What's your name? I'm Liam."
"I heard. - Tommy," he breathed.
"Hi, Tommy. Your doctor is La'rel, and that's Da'an. This is his office."
"How'd I," he gasped as La'rel touched a sensitive spot, "get here?"
"I don't know. Da'an and I found you here when we returned."
Tommy thought for a moment longer, and remembered. "Shadow creature," he murmured, putting it together in his head. "Vortex, trying to pull me somewhere, but I ... I reached for a light to help me and ... I found one." He looked at Liam, recognizing the bond between them as what had led him here.
Liam also recognized that he was the 'light' Tommy had found. He offered Tommy his hand; he accepted, gripping it like a lifeline. Liam could tell he was hurting much more than he was letting on. 'I wish I could help him more,' he thought.
La'rel jerked back in shock as Liam's shaqarava activated, causing a glowing connection between the two's joined hands. Da'an closed his eyes sadly, fearing for Liam.
In that moment, they knew each other. Tommy knew Liam for the child he truly was. Liam only appeared as an adult human, but just like Tommy, he was a child trying his best to navigate a world set against him. He was part human, as this world Tommy found himself on was much like his earth and populated with a mirror species. Liam's other parent was of a species called Kimera, the last of his kind, and Liam was closer to this than his other parents, even though his appearance was otherwise. It was a sort of camouflage, a protection for the child, as was the adult appearance. All, as far as Liam could figure out, chosen by his Kimera parent at the time of his conception, less than a year ago.
Liam's earlier hesitation was explained, as well. Da'an and La'rel were Taelons, and it was their people that hunted and killed the Kimera, leading them to near extinction. Liam's other two parents were both employees of the Taelons, or Companions as they were called on this world, working as Companion Protectors and therefore having very close and personal relationships with at least the one they protected. As Liam was born with the inherited memories of all three of his parents, this caused some confusion. Add into that the fact Liam ended up being born in the headquarters of the Resistance against the Taelons, had ties to those people, worked with them, and worked as a Companion Protector to Da'an, and Liam's life was just as twisted and confusing as Tommy's own.
Liam saw Tommy's life as clearly, the paths Tommy came from, the paths he currently walked. He saw their connection. They understood. When Tommy reached out for a light to help him, Liam was also reaching out in loneliness for someone that could understand him. Their calls touched, their spirits recognized a kindred, and a bond was formed. Forever.
A lifetime and a second later, the shaquarava deactivated and the glowing connection faded. Liam looked at La'rel in fear.
"You are Kimera," La'rel stated. "But how?" Tommy found himself thinking of the two Taelon's as male, but their species wasn't divided by sex.
"Ha'gel joined with humanity before . . . his death," Liam answered quietly.
Fully healed, Tommy stood defensively between Liam and the Taelons, not trusting either one. While Da'an had known of Liam's genetics all along, that didn't mean he would be safe now that it had been revealed to his people.
La'rel looked at Tommy for a long moment, not doubting for a moment that the Ranger would fight for Liam. Turning back to Liam, he said, "I never met a Kimera before. Please don't fear me, child. I will not betray your secret."
Liam and Tommy both looked at La'rel a long moment, measuring. Neither one was truly satisfied, but decided to wait and see what would happen. Tommy decided he would stay beside Liam so long as he was there. No words were needed between the two, they were bound as one.
Tommy smirked as he handed the Taelon puzzle back to Augur, completed. The Resistance computer wiz was staring at him with slack jawed amazement. "A whole month, huh, Augur," Tommy drawled, enjoying showing a side of himself he usually kept carefully concealed.
"I - How? Only Liam's ever …"
Liam walked into the room and collapsed on the sofa. "They're not made for humans, Augur. That's why you have so much trouble."
"And what's the kid?"
"Maybe you're just too damned old to get it," Tommy responded to this reference. Augur wasn't old, not even thirty yet. However, when compared to Tommy at fifteen and Liam at under a year, he was significantly older. And Tommy really didn't like being called a kid. "You okay, Liam?"
Augur gave Tommy a look, but Liam didn't have to ask how Tommy knew there was anything more than the usual complications of his life as a Companion Protector and member of the Resistance against the Companions. They didn't bother to explain to Augur, either, he wouldn't be able to understand. Liam answered, "Sandoval. - I don't need him. I don't need anyone," he quietly stated. Sandoval was one of Liam's human parents, but neither one of his human parents were aware of the fact they had a child, of who and what he was. It was painful for him, working side by side with them and unable to speak to them.
Tommy looked at him a moment, then simply nodded. "Yeah, me either." He paused. "You know the only thing worse than caring about someone that doesn't seem to care about anything? Caring for someone that cares for you. Harder to push away the ones that won't be moved. But, honestly Liam, the man doesn't have enough information to know what he's doing."
"I don't think Sandoval knows what caring is, anymore," Augur commented darkly. Sandoval was something like the Resistance's worst nightmare for several years already.
Tommy said in a thoughtful tone, "Even the worst know what it is to care. I don't think any of us are as different as we like to pretend. Personally, before I met Jas and them, I didn't know I knew how to care for anyone beyond myself. In order to survive the hostile circumstances of my life, I learned to hide any dangerous emotions. My worst enemy has on occasion saved me from the very people I fight to protect, and …" He shook his head, letting the rest go unsaid, Liam would be able to see it, anyway. "Anyway, I've spoken to the man, you know. The Taelons seem overly impressed with the Power Rangers in general, so I've met most the major players in your conflict here. And I believe he'd surprise you, family means a lot to him." He added silently, 'It'd mean a lot to me, too, if I could have one.'
Liam nodded, knowing from his inherited memories that family was of great importance to Sandoval, at least before the implantation. - Most Companion Protectors, as in all except Liam, had an implant in their brains, called a CVI, that was supposed to be to give them the ability to control the shrill, a creature that fired powerful blasts of energy and lived grafted to one of their arms. What hadn't been spoken of, what only a few knew of, was the MI, motivational imperative, that was part of this implant, used to ensure loyalty. It changed a person, even as drastically as Rita's spell changed Tommy. But if Tommy was seeing that now, still …
"Hey," Tommy said softly, an acknowledgement of the woman's skills in treating her as a warrior and not just walking up on her.
"Tommy," she greeted in return, a hint of sorrow in her voice.
"Are you okay, Lt. Beckett?" He leaned against the railing beside her, overlooking Da'an's gardens.
"I - Call m' Siobhan, please, Tommy."
"You seem down, Siobhan," he reworded.
She looked around. "Would y' keep a secret?"
"I won't tell anyone what you say to me, if that is what you want. I give my word of Honor."
She smiled slightly at this. He said that so gravely, she could almost see her dad, uncle, or brother in him. Warriors of the old ways, Druids, all. And, as when speaking with them, she could not doubt the strength of this child's honor. She answered him softly, "I ha' several hours of memories missin', from almost a year ago now. Ever since then, I ha' been feelin' like something very important is gone from m'. I feel unable t' live, for this missing piece."
Tommy was silent for a long moment, well aware of what, or rather who she was missing, but equally unable to tell her. Finally, he turned and met her eyes, knowledge of ages beyond his years shining forth. Siobhan gasped slightly at meeting his eyes, finally understanding the awe she saw in the Taelons when they spoke to or of the young Ranger. He was like the old Gods; she thought immediately of the Greenman, the God of Wild Places. She'd thought the Taelons were treating him like a deity, now she found herself thinking of him as such and wanting to introduce him to her family to see their reactions.
"This missing piece of yourself," Tommy quietly stated, "you might not survive the knowledge. But I promise you, Siobhan Beckett, I will do everything in my Power to see this missing piece brought to you and you unharmed by the return."
"I - Thank y', Honored Ranger," she stated, using for the first time the title the Taelons used for him, smiling softly when the young man blushed.
Several weeks later, they had yet to find a way to return Tommy to his home and Tommy still hadn't heard from his team. Tommy was staying at Liam's place and honestly, he was growing used to having someone there that, while still a kid himself, watched out for Tommy. Someone that understood Tommy completely. Liam was also growing used to having someone with him that watched out for him, that understood him. Neither one of them wanted the solitary life they lived. Life's circumstances had forced both Tommy and Liam into the rolls of adults too young, they'd gone too long with survival the main objective and no one to understand them, it was with each other only that they managed to relax and live. Liam never thought of his place as home before Tommy came there, now anywhere with Tommy would be home. And Tommy found himself thinking of anywhere with Liam as home, as well. So, while they went through the actions of trying to return Tommy to his world, subconsciously, neither one was really trying.
Then, La'rel called Liam and Tommy to join her in her lab. A few minutes later, they arrived.
"I may know a way," La'rel stated as they entered. The lab was empty except for the three. "But I need to know the exact location for it to work. Would the two of you be willing to Share with me? Between myself, Liam's Kimera heritage, and your own memories, we should be able to pinpoint your home."
Tommy shrugged. "A sharing is like a mental conversation, combining our knowledge?"
He hesitated for a moment longer, but pushed his doubts away. La'rel had offered him nothing but friendship since he'd arrived. "Okay."
Liam was also hesitant, but agreed, for Tommy. He honestly couldn't say if it was the idea of the Sharing that frightened him, or of finding the way to send Tommy home.
The three joined hands, La'rel leading the Sharing, as she knew the most about how it was done. Everything started out fine, but then, La'rel turned the direction. Liam tried to pull himself and Tommy out, but La'rel was too skilled for that. Maybe if it was just him, but he couldn't get them both out.
A moment later, Liam and Tommy collapsed on the floor as La'rel let them loose. Liam looked up at La'rel's arrogant grin. "Why?" he asked.
"What did she do?" Tommy demanded quietly, not quite believing what he'd felt.
La'rel stated, "You are uninjured; only tired. I would never injure a Power Ranger."
Liam told Tommy, "She Joined with us. To create a child."
"The Taelons are a dying race," La'rel said. "I saw a chance to bring a new child into the Commonality; I could not let it pass."
Da'an barged into the lab as La'rel was speaking. She was already showing from the joining. It took him a second to process these words, with the two exhausted children on the floor. "La'rel," he growled. Liam looked at him is shock; he didn't know Taelons could growl. "You forced yourself on these children. I will see you before the Synod for this."
Da'an knelt beside his Protector. Too quiet for La'rel to hear, he said, "I'm sorry, Liam. We will have to tell the Synod what you are. Mit'gai must look at both of you, to make sure you are unharmed."
Liam thought to himself, 'Before they either kill me or make me into a Guinea pig. But Tommy may need help, and the child. They respect the Rangers enough that I'm sure they will let Tommy have our child, if he wants.' He looked at Tommy, who nodded as though he'd heard.
Tommy took Liam's hand. "I won't let them hurt you, Liam," he breathed. "Or our child. Or I'll die protecting you both. You have my word of honor."
Liam smiled, as he now knew what Da'an had meant about those words meaning more to the Rangers than they did to him. While it was the most important thing to him; to the young Ranger, it was everything. For the Ranger to feel he'd lost his honor would be for him to loose his reason for existence, and any reason to actually end that existence. He would be a lost soul. Liam almost asked Tommy to take back his vow, for he feared the boy wouldn't be able to keep it, but he knew that it was impossible for the Ranger to even contemplate such a thing. Liam nodded to Da'an.
Da'an called Sandoval to come to the lab with a squad of Volunteers, then he called Zo'or to report the assault. Zo'or ordered a Synod meeting for as soon as they returned to the Mothership.
Sandoval arrived a moment later, with the European Protector, Lieutenant Siobhan Beckett, and the Volunteers. He froze as he entered the room. Da'an was hovering protectively over Liam and Tommy, who sat on the floor, Tommy resting securely in Liam's arms, both of which looked exhausted. Across from them, trading glares with Da'an, was the doctor who'd helped the Power Ranger when he'd arrived.
"Agent Sandoval," Da'an stated. "Please take La'rel into custody." When the two Protectors and Volunteers finally approached, Da'an stated formally, "La'rel of the Healers guild, I hereby charge you with misuse of power and assault, forcing a Joining upon children. I order you to appear before the Synod immediately."
La'rel sneered. "You may take me down, Da'an, but I will make sure you and your hybrid Protector join the void with me. The Synod will not like that you've hidden a Kimera hybrid from them."
Sandoval and Beckett looked at Liam in shock. A Kimera hybrid? Liam refused to meet their eyes. La'rel chose that moment to try and slip out the back. Sandoval called for her to stop, raising his shrill.
"No!" Da'an called. "She carries a child!" Sandoval re-aimed his shrill at the door she was headed towards, started to fire … and froze in shock. A Green Dragon blocked the doorway, somehow bigger than the room, almost translucent, but solid enough to touch. The Dragon opened it's mouth, it's roar was the crash of thunder, it's teeth lightning bolts. La'rel backed up in fear.
Tommy hadn't moved from his resting place in Liam's arms. He looked at La'rel with eyes of sea green orbs, spoke in an icy yet almost conversational tone, "Didn't anyone ever warn ya, La'rel, don't mess with a Power Ranger. Don't mess with those in our protection. And," he chuckled slightly, dangerously, "whatever you do, don't ever piss off a Green Dragon Lightning Ranger. - Did you really think the worst that could happen is embracing the void, or did you think me too young to truly master Lightning? I'd suggest you go with them, 'cause if you foolishly leave it to me, I swear you will never see the afterlife, which is still more than one of no honor deserves. I could make you beg for oblivion."
La'rel made no move, frozen in place. Tommy tilted his head slightly as he looked upon her in loathing. "You have no idea what you have done. We trusted in your honor and you betrayed that trust. None shall stand after such a betrayal of the Green Line."
La'rel backed up, moving away from the Dragon, careful not to move towards Tommy. Suddenly, those that had come to take her into custody didn't look near so bad, she was more than ready to turn herself over to them. She was halfway to them when she gripped her stomach and collapsed to the floor.
The Dragon disappeared at this, Tommy's eyes changed to normal and he pulled loose from Liam's arms and ran to the Taelon, with only a whispered, emotion-filled, "My child." Liam hesitated for a moment, having to shake off his own shock, then followed him. Liam knew, as no one else in the room did, how much the Dragon Tommy called up cost the young Ranger, and that it wasn't completely Tommy speaking to La'rel just now. Sandoval and Beckett ordered the Volunteers to hold back as the two ran towards the Taelon. Da'an quickly called Mit'gai, then Zo'or.
"She's too weak," Da'an said quietly. "She and the child will die."
"Not if I can help it," Tommy replied with a fierce determination. "Jas'll kill me for all this. - Dragon Zord!" After just expending much of his energy on the Dragon, right after La'rel taking from him to create the child, he called on his Power, but didn't allow it to morph him. Instead, he directed it out of him, to his unborn child. Liam activated his shaqarava and directed his own energy to their child and Tommy, feeling the boy was giving too much of himself away. Neither one bothered with La'rel; they knew they would be pressing their limits in bringing the three of them through this without her.
Mit'gai, Zo'or, and the rest of the Taelon Synod arrived as the child greeted the world. La'ral joined the void, as the last of her energy left with the child she was too weak to carry.
No one spoke, as Liam and Tommy looked at their child, wrapped in their combined energies. After a few moments, their little girl started to age, growing into a teenaged girl within moments. Their energies separated as Tommy stepped back. He pulled off the trench coat Liam's friend Augur had given him and wrapped it around his daughter.
Seeing this, Siobhan Beckett finally started to remember what the Resistance had forced her to forget. She gasped in wonder and shock, causing Liam, Tommy, and their daughter to look at her. They saw a trace of blood running from her ear. As one, the three approached her, taking her hands in their's. Upon contact, they began to glow, predominately Green.
As the glow died down, Liam explained to the room, "When I was born, in Resistance HQ, they programmed my mother's CVI to make her forget the entire event, and kill her if she ever remembered. Seeing an almost exact replay caused her to remember. The three of us were strong enough to keep her from dying." Quietly, to Siobhan, he added, "I'm sorry."
"Do nay apologize, Liam. The fault is nay yours." She handed him a rune. "It is the one that fits you, my son. You ha accomplished much in only a few months of life."
Liam looked at the rune, Raido, and smiled. This time, he kept the rune.
Tommy smiled at the reunion. He hoped that his mother would be as kind as Siobhan, if he ever found her. His daughter saw the smile, and, sensing the thought behind it, rested her hand on his shoulder, offering him her love and support. Tommy turned to her. She looked almost his age by human standards, but he didn't find that odd at all: That didn't say anything about the strangeness of his life, did it?
His daughter, uncertainly, "What happens now?"
Liam turned from his mother to his daughter. "I'm not sure, Crystal," he replied, then hesitated, trying to figure out where the name came from.
Tommy laughed. "It's a fitting name," he stated, thinking of a legend Zordon had told him on one of the many nights he'd gone to the Command Centre to escape his home life.
"Crystal," she said, remembering from Tommy, "the New Light."
Mit'gai told Da'an, "I believe neither of the boys were injured by the Joining."
Mit'gai's voice reminded them that the Taelon's were present. Tommy stepped protectively in front of his family.
Zo'or sighed at the Power Ranger's protective behavior. "Major, no ... What is your name?"
Liam looked to Tommy, who smiled at him comfortingly. Liam smiled. "Liam. My mother named me Liam."
Siobhan smiled at this.
Zo'or said, "Liam, could you tell us how you came to be?"
Liam looked at him a moment. He seemed confused, rather than he usual arrogant self.
"I gave you my word," Tommy breathed, reminding him he could answer whatever he wanted, or ignore the question.
He nodded. All his life, he'd lived in fear of being found out, by anyone, any species. He was tired of living in fear, he wanted to tell the whole story, find out where he truly stood. Taking strength from Tommy's quietly spoken vow, Liam explained, "When Ha'gel was freed from his confinement, he, uh, started looking for a way to . . . reproduce with humanity, since he knew you would be trying to kill him. He … succumbed to a biological imperative," he repeated softly the words Ha'gel spoke to him when he'd found himself beyond the veil, before Dr. Park revived him. Everyone present could tell those words hurt him, the Taelons were the only ones to suspect he truly heard them from Ha'gel. Tommy and Crystal knew this from their connection to Liam. "He ended up taking Sandoval as a host and luring Siobhan to St. Michael's Church, where they Joined and I was formed. When Boone arrived, Lili took my mother down to the Resistance HQ, and I was born a few minutes later. Right on time to feel Ha'gel's death. Before I'd aged above five, Doors had her CVI reprogrammed and had someone abandon her in an alley. Lili and . . . another person with the Resistance, fought Doors to keep him from killing her and me, though I think he finally decided that he'd prefer to control me." He was careful with names. Lili and Augur were the only ones that stood up for him in his life. He could name Lili since she was dead and her Resistance affiliations were known. Augur was neither known nor dead.
Liam continued, "I think I surprised them all when I went to Boone's funeral and ended up becoming Da'an's Protector. Though the other person to stand up for me seemed to understand the best. He seemed to almost understand what I mean when I talk about genetic memories."
Zo'or nodded. "With two Protectors as parents, I am not overly surprised that you came to us. And with Ha'gel's memories, I can understand why you didn't tell us who you truly are."
"That, and it was my conception that led to Boone's death, leaving Da'an without his Protector and friend."
"That, your conception … You cannot blame yourself for that." Zo'or sounded confused at this.
"Uh, okay," Liam said, not really sounding convinced. Tommy took his hand in a gesture of comfort; Liam turned to him with a soft smile.
"How did La'rel learn of this?" Mit'gai questioned. He was most interested in this part, as he was head of the Healers Guild, La'rel was one of his subordinates.
"When I appeared," Tommy stated. "Liam healed me, with La'rel there."
"You knew of this," Zo'or said to Da'an. An important point to Zo'or as Da'an was his parent.
Da'an nodded. "I have been Liam's mentor since his second day."
"Then you cannot be in on this vote."
"I am aware."
The Synod, minus Da'an, held a mental debate over these events. Finally, they decided. Zo'or, as head of Synod, spoke. "Liam, you have proven yourself to use many times over. The lie of your identity is forgiven, as is your involvement with the resistance, willing or not. I suspect with what they did to your mother, the involvement was less than willing, others disagree. If you wish to continue as a Protector, you may. But, as a Kimeran child, you are also a part of us. Yes, our ancestors were responsible for the near extinction of the species, however, many of the younger Taelons joined with some of the surviving Kimera to keep their people's knowledge from disappearing, in strict rebellion against the Synod of that day. We are their descendants and are therefore part Kimera. Ha'gel … the reason we struck against him is he was of a group of Kimera that was set against Joining with any Taelon, they tried to kill any of us that carried their genetics."
Liam didn't say anything to this, he was looking at his inherited memories, and while he was closer genetically to Kimera, he'd always had easier access to the human memories. Tommy and Crystal, though their bond with Liam, saw the memories as well, and all three found confirmation of Zo'or's words.
Zo'or smiled gently as he saw this. "The point, child, is you are a part of us, and most welcome among us. Are you aware that you will most likely live for millions, or billions, of this worlds' years?"
Liam shrugged. "Academically, though there are times that I can't imagine making it to one year."
Knowing a bit of what this child had already faced, ashamed to realize how much of it was because of him. Zo'or could easily understand that. "The Taelons and Kimera are distantly related. When you need help, or anything, we will be available. - Crystal, we offer you the same relation. We will be here for you however much you wish us to be. - Honored Ranger …"
"Zo'or," Tommy cut him off. "My name's Tommy."
He bowed slightly, seeing Tommy to have granted him a great honor with this. "Tommy, we wish to apologize for the manner in which you've been treated. If there was a way for us to undo this injustice to you . . ."
"I'd tell you not to," Tommy interrupted firmly. "I, um, doubt I'll ever forgive La'rel for forcing us like that, but I wouldn't change it. To even think that would be the greatest crime I could ever commit against my daughter."
Zo'or nodded once, looking obviously pleased with Tommy's response. "We welcome you to our family, also."
"Thank you." The look in his eyes said they had given him a precious gift.
Sandoval approached Liam. "Liam, I don't know much about Kimera, but, um. . ."
Liam found himself suddenly very interested in the floor. "Technically, you are my father," Liam answered, quietly. "But I'll understand if you don't want that."
"No! I mean, Liam, why wouldn't I want that? Liam, your my son. You, your mother, your daughter, and her other father are my family."
Liam was speechless. After a moment, he turned to Tommy. "Looks like you were right."
"Had to happen sometime," was Tommy's sarcastic response.
"Is there a time you've been wrong in your judgment of a person?" Liam asked, as though such a thing was in the realm of the impossible.
"Yes." There was so much emotion in that one word, telling much more than he meant for it to say.
Before Liam could form a response to this, or turn to his newly found parents, the five Rangers appeared in the middle of the room, morphed.
"Hi, guys," Tommy said.
Seeing Tommy, unharmed and relaxed, the other Rangers demorphed. "Tommy!" the Pink Ranger, Kimberly exclaimed, running to him and throwing her arms around him. Tommy had to shift his weight quickly to keep from falling. The others joined him a little less enthusiastically. In their ebullience, they ignored the others in the room.
"You had us worried, bro," Jason, the Red Ranger, commented with a smile. "Don't ever do that again."
"Do what?" Tommy asked, oh so innocently.
"Oh, take midnight strolls though the park, in the middle of monster central. Not call us when Zedd sends two dozen putties and a freaking invisible Shadow monster after you. Take on that force unmorped. Leave a lot of your blood all over the park, so we had to worry about whether or not you'd actually survived. And let's see..."
Tommy laughed. "I get the point, bro. But it worked out fine, right."
"Worked out fine? Are you trying to ..." Jason drifted off. He turned to the other Rangers. "Did he just say ..."
Zack shook his head. "I'll face anything Zedd throws at us with you, man, but I'm staying out of this one."
Trini and Billy agreed. "I think we'll go ... look at stuff over here," Trini said as she, Billy, and Zack walked over to the other side of the room.
"I so love not being the leader," Kim commented as she went to join the others. She didn't want to let go of Tommy for a second, but she really didn't want in the middle of this conversation.
"That was a quick bail out," Tommy said with a grin.
Jason turned his attention back to the sometimes rogue Ranger. "Almost two months, Tommy. We couldn't cover at school that long. They reported your absence. And I'm sure your parents reported you missing with the police."
The humor drained from Tommy's face. "Don't worry about that, Jas. The last thing the Olivers are ever going to do is bring the police in on anything." Before his friends had a chance to question that, he smiled again. "Guys, meet my new family." He introduced the Taelons first, then continued: "That's Ron Sandoval, Siobhan Becket, and their son, Liam. This is Crystal - mine, Liam's, and a dead Taelon's named La'rel's daughter."
His friends forgot about how long Tommy had been missing, his not calling them, his comments about the Oliver's - everything except that last. "Daughter!" Kimberly exclaimed.
"How can . . . She looks . . . You've only been gone . . ." Jason drifted off. Finally, he said, "Billy, explain this!"
The Blue Ranger looked at him in shocked confusion. "I can't begin to explain that. I don't see how it could be possible."
"Since when," Zack asked, "has it mattered whether or not something was possible to our Greenman here?"
Siobhan gasped slightly as this designation, having thought of him by that same term not all that long ago, reacting to him so casually naming him by the God's name.
Tommy shook his head in bemusement, then began to relate the story, starting with waking in Da'an and Liam's office, though he left off the Dragon part. He ended with, "And this, of course, leads to a problem. I can neither leave my family or turn my back on my commitments back home. So, Blue boy, can you answer that one?" There was total trust and assurance in Tommy's voice as he asked this, as though he could not possibly imagine Billy failing to accomplish this for him.
Smiling at the trust placed in him, Billy thought for a moment, then nodded. "I believe so, Tommy. Guys, I need the signal boosters back. If I'm correct, we should be able to work with the technology here to make the boosters last." The others handed over the boosters, though Kim did so reluctantly.
"I can help with that," a Taelon stated. When Billy looked at him questioningly, he restated the introduction Tommy had given him. "I'm Ta'ki, head of the Science guild." Billy and Ta'ki wondered off to work on the technology.
"Life force," Jason said, in a state of shock. "You gave her ... Are you suicidal, bro! Rita and Zedd trying to drain your Power isn't enough, you've got to do it yourself!"
"Daughter. You heard that part, right?" Tommy said. "Anyway, Liam joined me and we balanced out between us. No big deal." He didn't know what to think when Jason suddenly pulled him into a hug.
"Don't scare me like that, bro," Jason mumbled as he released him from the hug.
Tommy wasn't sure what to think of any of this, so he changed the subject. "Signal boosters," he commented. "So that's how you planned to get back."
Jason nodded, recognizing the avoidance, but letting him have it. "We finally found your Power signature, but we couldn't get through with a comm line or get a lock to teleport you back, though that was a last resort on its own. Blind teleportation with you is not always a good idea," he stated wryly.
The Rangers, minus Jason and Tommy, laughed at this. Zack said, "Yeah, man, if anyone should know that, it's Jason."
Tommy smirked. "I didn't mean to knock you out that time, Jas. But the last time I'd been teleported blindly out of bed was by Rita - And I was asleep."
"Yeah, bro, it makes me feel so much better to hear you knocked me out in your sleep," Jason stated sarcastically. "It just says so much about my abilities."
Tommy laughed this time, along with most everyone else in the room. Tommy then stated, "You're great, bro, almost as good as I am. You're definitely the first one to give me any challenge fighting."
"You know how damned cocky that'd sound from anyone else?"
"It'd be a lie in anyone else of our world."
Jason nodded in agreement and said, "Well anyway, we learned. Always let you know what we're doing, and never try to sneak up on you. So, Billy designed the signal boosters to bring us home. Teleporting here wasn't all that difficult."
Trini laughed at Jason's wording. "Wasn't difficult, he says."
Jason smirked and added, "Okay, we did have to have Zordon reroute all power in the Command Centre to be able to make it, but Billy assured us that it would be easy to return with the boosters. Once we give Zordon time to recharge from the drain."
Tommy sighed. They kept saying they had to wait to go home, but no one would say just how long that wait would be. He wanted to know how long he had with his family before having to return to the life he was trying to make on earth. So, he asked, "How long?"
Billy replied, "Half a day."
Zack commented, "We're kinda hoping we have a world to return to."
"Zedd won't attack while we're all gone," Tommy stated confidently.
Jason gave him a questioning look. "How can you be so sure?"
"Because ... there's no challenge to it without us there to fight. He's a warrior." He shrugged, unsure how to explain to them how he knew this. Or maybe unwilling to explain would be more truthful. He knew the Dark Emperor would wait for them to return for the same reason Tommy didn't kill the Rangers in their sleep when he was under that spell. He and Lord Zedd fought the same way, just for different causes. But Tommy couldn't tell his friends he was that much like that evil maniac that he knew without a doubt how the dark sorcerer would act, in war, at least. Zedd definitely confused him when it came to more ... personal matters between them, but when it came to warfare, there wasn't any doubt as to when Zedd wouldn't attack. Still, it wasn't like he was going to tell them, 'Well, he's the one the Green Powers come from, and since I'm now the Green Ranger, I know how the Green thinks.' No, he'd much prefer they forget where the Green came from, not learn more about it's origins. But, there was a way to explain it that they might understand. "No matter what the tactical analysis says, all warriors love the challenge, the battles that prove your skill above all else. Zedd won't move until we're there, 'cause it'd be damned boring to win that way, anyway. Think about it, bro. Did you beat the Shadow that night?"
"Uh, next morning," Jason said, softly, trying to follow Tommy's thought process.
Tommy grinned. "Well, bro, how many attacks have there been while I've been gone? Not counting Goldar, Scorpina, or putties."
The five Rangers exchanged looks, thinking on that. Finally, Jason said, "None. Just the annoyances distracting us."
"Distracting. Exactly." Tommy paused. "In over two months, that's all he's done, despite the lightest times being weekly attacks since I've joined. Daily attacks are more common. Zedd's distracted right now, too."
"He's looking for you? You fell through his portal and didn't end up where he was sending you," Billy said in shock from where he was working.
Tommy just looked at him.
Billy moved away from the console, thinking on Tommy's words. "You said he won't move until we're back because it'd be boring. Boring in what way, Tommy?"
"Billy, how long could you sit at a desk and answer questions like one plus one, two plus two, until you ditch the joint and seek out a real challenge?"
Billy wondered at his choice of wording, but knew better than to ask as Tommy would use the distraction to forget the important parts. "You're saying Lord Zedd is looking for a challenge?" That didn't seem quite right, it was like he was still missing something of great importance.
"No, I'm saying he's been looking for a challenge for … centuries, now. And now that he's finally found it, he's not going to throw that away." Tommy shrugged as though it was all unimportant. "Which means we'll either win the war spectacularly or lose it the same way. I don't know which of us is the more talented warrior between us. So far, neither Zedd nor I have made a move to answer that question, but it'll come to it eventually. I'll put it off a few years if I can, leaving our world war torn, but …" He shrugged.
"War torn is better than killed and enslaved with impunity," Trini stated, and Tommy looked over, sharply, recognizing her quoting his words. Trini smiled. "I don't know about our world, but Iwas listening."
'Lord Zedd's been looking for a challenge and he's found it in Tommy? Tommy fell though Zedd's portal and didn't fall where Zedd wanted him, but ended up on a world where he found allies?' Billy softly asked in a tone of awe, "Exactly how Powerful are you, anyway?"
Tommy shook his head. "How Powerful are you?" he returned. "I'll meet you back here in about twelve hours."
"Where are you going?" Zack asked.
At the same moment, Billy commented, "None of us being missing has ever stopped the daily attacks. The five of us together never draw as much … attention as you do alone, so the question really doesn't relate to anyone else."
Tommy looked at him a moment. 'Lucky you,' he thought, but didn't comment aloud on Billy's words. Instead, he answered Zack. "First, I think Crystal could use some clothes. Then, I want to spend some time with my family here."
"Clothes?" Kim repeated. "Does that mean shopping?"
"No," Siobhan replied. "I sent a couple Volunteers to get her some things before you arrived."
"Oh." She pouted. Then she asked, "Tommy, if you did have to choose, which would it be? I mean, you would choose me over some complete strangers, right?"
Tommy froze, then looked at Jason for help. Everyone else in the room was glaring at Kim, including the other Rangers.
"I can't believe you asked that," Tommy breathed.
"And there's no reason to answer it," Billy stated. "That's why I'm here. No one should have to choose between family. Tommy, unlike Kimberly, we will never ask you to choose between your family here and the Ranger family. If I had to find a way to create wormholes for it to work, I'd find it for you."
Tommy smiled. "Thanks, Billy."
Billy grinned. "Hey, if there's one thing I can't live with, it'd be failing the trust you place in me. It's hard won."
Kimberly pouted. "I didn't mean it that way. Can I come with you?"
Jason glared at her. "I think they want some time alone," he stated quietly. He wondered about Tommy and Kim's relationship. It seemed to bring out the worst in Kim, and was wrong for Tommy, too, but he didn't think there was anything he could do about it.
Tommy nodded to Jason, then said, "I do, however, disagree with your words to Kim, Billy. There is reason to answer, so they'll never be room to question again. - By Power and Honor, I swear by these words: Kimberly Anne Hart, Pink Ranger of the Power Rangers of Earth, I love you deeply, even when you're being a bitch. I cannot imagine anything possibly changing that fact. However, there is no comparison to what I feel for my daughter. She's my everything, and in a choice between her and anyone and anything, including you, Kimmy, I will always and forever choose my daughter, Crystal."
As Tommy finished speaking, there was a light applause from the Volunteers, Protectors, Rangers, and even some of the Taelons. Tommy glanced at them with a hint of confusion. Kim ignored them, thinking on Tommy's words.
Finally, Kim sighed. "I really didn't mean that like it sounded, and it was like a totally stupid thing to say, I guess."
"You guess?" Jason murmured.
She ignored him. "It's just ... I've lost too much, Tommy, and Zedd makes me wish for the good times when we just had to deal with Rita attacking. It's like since we met, someone's been trying to take you from me. I just don't want to lose you."
Tommy met her eyes with a small smile as she finished speaking and actually looked at him. "I know, Kimmy. I know." He turned and headed out of the room, his family at his side. Halfway out, he turned back around, his gaze taking in the whole team. "I just hope it's me you're talking to and not the color," he stated quietly, before continuing on his way out.
The Rangers flinched at his parting words. Jason sighed, but didn't bother to once again reassure Tommy of their good intentions. Instead, he called out as Tommy was stepping through the door, "Stay out of trouble!"
Tommy turned in the doorway and said with a smirk, "Hey, it's me."
Jason grinned. "The trouble magnet - I know. You're the only one I know for which sleeping is a dangerous occupation."
Tommy laughed as he left the room.
"I want to go with Tommy to his planet," Crystal stated quietly, not looking at any of her family.
The others forgot about their food as they turned to the youngest. "It's not the safest place there is," Tommy commented.
"I know. But I think I could be helpful there. And . . . there's no Taelons." She finally looked at her family, tears visible in her eyes, though they didn't fall down her face. "I remember what you both felt when . . . La'rel forced you to Join. I also remember what La'rel thought and felt, and it scares me. I know she's dead, but I just . . . don't feel safe with Taelons right now. In time, maybe, but not right now."
Liam and Tommy exchanged glances, then nodded. "Okay," Tommy stated. "But I don't want you to go anywhere around the Olivers."
"Only if you promise to avoid them, too."
"I can't avoid my home."
"And I can't avoid my father's home. You can't let them keep . . . doing that."
Tommy was silent for a long moment, staring down at the dinner table. Finally, he quietly said, "Okay. I'll leave there, for you."
Crystal smiled, feeling that she may have just saved her father's life.
Siobhan quietly asked Liam, "What is this about?" Liam could only shrug. "Didn't you see it during the Joining? I remember things from Ha'gel."
"I was a little busy fighting her."
"And it's none of his business," Tommy stated dryly. They looked up, surprised that he'd heard them. "I'm a Power Ranger - The Power enhances."
"What's none of his business, bro?"
The Companion Protectors looked up in shock. No one should have been able to get into Ron's dining room without their knowledge. Tommy smiled. "Jas, what're you doing here?"
"Couldn't do much back there. Boy Genius and the Ancients are taking care of everything. So, I got to thinking, you'd been gone a whole half an hour. There was no telling what kind of trouble you'd found. So, I came to make sure you didn't need me to bail you out of the fire - again." Jason smiled as he said this. Then, more seriously, he added, "And I want to hear the rest of the story."
Tommy looked at him, innocent and confused.
Jason sighed, sitting in the empty seat between Tommy and Sandoval. "Don't give me that shit, bro. Why the hell were you in the middle of the park, after midnight, alone - Especially after the day we'd had?" Jason sighed. "That's a recipe for disaster for any of us, but worse for you, what with Zedd obsession with you."
"Not now, Jas."
"You've had two months to think up a good excuse."
"And you'd think I'd have come up with something by now." Tommy shrugged.
"Come on, Tom. You scared the shit out of us."
The look Tommy gave him clearly said that he didn't understand.
"You know we worry about you, Tommy. You're a Ranger, part of our family. Why is that so hard for you to understand?" Jason looked at him a moment, then quietly said, "It wasn't Rita that made you not trust, was it?"
Tommy didn't respond for a long moment. When he spoke, it wasn't in response to Jason's words. "Crystal's decided to go home with us."
Jason looked at Crystal, then Liam. Both nodded in agreement. "It's not the safest place there is." Jason looked at Tommy in confusion, as everyone else was laughing.
"My exact words, bro. But she's coming - It's not open for discussion."
"Okay. And Tommy - good try at changing the subject."
Tommy sighed. "Okay, Jas. I'll even tell you the truth. Ron has a large, private back yard. Let's see what the two months have done to your fighting skills." The two boys stood and walked out the back door. After a moment, the others followed them out.
The boys were already deeply immersed in their sparring. As Jason blocked a round of punches and kicks from Tommy, he asked, "Why were you in the park?"
Tommy dropped to the ground to avoid Jason's kick, following through with a leg sweep, bringing Jason down hard. Both boys jumped up together. "'Cause it wasn't home."
"Wasn't home?" Jason jumped up, grabbing hold of a tree limb above him, and swung himself towards Tommy. Tommy sidestepped the attack, and countered with a punch-kick combination as Jason landed. Jason blocked part, letting himself flow with the impact on the others. "Tell me about your parents."
"Parents?" Tommy scoffed, barely blocking the kick Jas sent his way. "Never knew 'em. I'm adopted."
Jason looked at him oddly as he caught Tommy's punch and pulled him into him. Tommy countered with a knee to the stomach - following an unwritten rule not to hit the groin when they were unprotected. "I'm adopted, too, but the Scotts are my parents."
"The Olivers are drunken shit. Gerry Oliver is an ex-Navy Seal, has a hundred pounds over either of us, all muscle. They, um, they're both violent drunks."
Jason froze as the meaning of Tommy's words clicked. Tommy stopped, too. After a moment, they finally noticed the rest of the family watching, and listening, from the back porch. Tommy looked at them, then turned his attention back to Jason.
"Shit," Jason breathed. "Shit, shit, shit." He replayed all his memories of Tommy, starting with the Martial Arts Competition they'd tied - which Tommy came to and left alone. No family. Tommy under Rita's spell, sneering to Zack's comment about family in English class; saying that family's just a group of strangers that are in the best position to hurt each other. Tommy when the spell was lifted, on the canyon side. 'The only thing I don't regret is what I did at home.'
And most recently, Tommy teleporting into the Command Center, around midnight, when he was talking to Zordon. He was the only one surprised to see him. Jason still remembered the conversation they'd had early the next morning. Tommy was worried about his relationship with Kim. Kim had been getting very serious with their relationship, daydreaming about marriage and children. 'I don't know how to be a husband or father,' Tommy had said. 'What if I . . . hurt them or something?'
"Jason?" Tommy called, a hint of fear in his voice.
"I must be blind," Jason breathed. He'd known there was something wrong with that family, but he never thought it could be anywhere near this bad. Not actual abuse! And he still didn't have any idea how bad this abuse Tommy was only hinting at could have gotten, either. Looking at Tommy, he saw fear in his eyes but couldn't begin to understand it. He stated with a steel voice, "Tommy, by the Power, you are not going back there."
"I know," Tommy whispered. "That's why I told you. I, um, need your help finding a place for me and Crystal to stay."
"We'll, um, tell the police when we get back."
Tommy shook his head. "No, Jas. If they'd believe me, the best that would happen is that they'd send me to a family outside of Angel Grove. Not to mention the openings it'd give Zedd. I have another idea, but we'd need your father's help."
Jason thought about that for a moment. He knew Zedd would take advantage of this if he could. After all, it was about Tommy. "Dad will help, if you tell him the truth."
"Jas, would you tell your dad that your a Ranger, if Zordon allowed it?"
Jason looked confused, but nodded. "I don't really like hiding things from him."
Tommy smiled. "Good. Because Zordon suggested that I talk to him, as he's a psychologist, and someone I basically trust. He also thought it would be good if a psychologist knew who we were, so there was someone we could talk to after battles."
"Zordon said we could tell him? Why didn't he tell me?"
"I, uh, think he was trying to convince me to leave home."
Jason nodded, putting his questions to the side. He was more worried about Tommy than why Zordon hadn't told him something. "Tom, does . . . anyone else know about . . . this?"
Before Tommy could reply, their communicators signaled. As they answered, they heard the three Protectors Globals chime.
'The signal boosters are integrated with the Taelon technology,' Billy told them. 'We contacted Zordon and he's ready for us, so we can go home as soon as you get here.'
Jason looked at Tommy and sighed. "We're going to be awhile, guys. You go on home and we'll join you as soon as possible."
There was a pause, then, 'Okay, if you're sure. We'll see you at the Command Center.'
"No - Go on home. We're going to stay one more night."
A longer pause. 'Okay. See you then.'
Siobhan Beckett and Ron Sandoval watched from the back door as Tommy and Jason sparred: Their usual form for conversation. Liam and Crystal joined them around 7am.
"How long have they been at it?" Liam asked quietly.
Ron shrugged. "I got up at three and they were already out here."
Crystal asked, "Did I do the right thing? I kind of forced him into making some hard decisions."
"Yes," Ron and Siobhan stated as one.
Ron added, "The fact that he made your avoidance of his house part of the agreement on your coming with him said that."
"He's afraid of being seen as weak," Crystal said.
Liam looked away from the sparring match outside. "How could anyone see Tommy as weak?"
Crystal looked near tears as she stated, "His adoptive parents have beaten him, called him weak or useless, for most of his life. He was never close to anyone until Tao, his martial arts instructor, but he was shot in front of Dad. Then, Jason, but that didn't start very well." She shrugged. "I had to ask Jason about some of this, because I can't really see it. When Dad came to Angel Grove, he competed in a tournament against Jas, and tied. Jason said that if it had been a real fight, he would have lost, because Dad was just better. He said it doesn't bother him anymore, though. Jason was the best around before Dad came, so I guess it took him a bit to get used to the idea. I don't know if they'd have become friends or not, but Rita stepped in there."
She paused there, then explained, "Rita Repulsa was the enemy the Power Ranger team was formed to fight. When Dad left, she sent some of her goons down to capture him, then put a spell on him to make him obey her and gave him the Green Power Coin. Dad still feels a bit uncomfortable with the team, as he was the only one not chosen to defend. The other Rangers managed to break the spell; which sorta force demorphed him, leaving him feeling . . . lost and . . . Well, Jason then demorphed and offered Dad his hand and friendship. They offered him a place on their team, which we know he accepted. But every since they broke the spell, Rita focused her energy on Dad, rather than the Rangers. Then, Lord Zedd arrived. He's like Rita's master - much worse than she ever was. Well, he focused on Dad from the start, but he uses the things dad cares about against him."
Crystal wiped a tear from her eyes. "But, the point is, Rita, Zedd, the Olivers, and alot of others have spend alot of effort to convince Dad that he's weak and powerless. I don't know why." Crystal looked at her father and grandparents. "Why do they do that to him? I mean, look at him - he's one of the strongest, most powerful people around. Why?"
Liam answered, "Because he is the strongest, the most powerful, the best. And the kindest, the most willing to stand up for others, and so much more. He is, in all ways, the most dangerous enemy they have."
"But he's not the enemy of the Olivers," Crystal stated. "He's supposed to be their son."
Liam looked to his parents for answers. Ron replied, "The Olivers are exactly what he called them, drunken shit. They are weak minded fools that only feel strong and powerful when they're hurting or controlling someone. And the only one they could hurt and control without fear of reprisal was the little boy they adopted."
"Which makes them the worst kind of monster," Siobhan added.
Crystal nodded in dawning understanding. "And it was their . . . abuse that left the openings that Rita and Zedd use to attack Dad?"
Her grandparents nodded. "Exactly," Ron stated.
The two boys suddenly stopped sparring and headed inside. Tommy smiled at his family when he saw them. "Morning," he greeted, not the slightest bit out of breath. "We're just going to hit the showers."
Ron nodded. "Breakfast will be ready in half and hour."
"We'll be ready. Come on Jas, you can use the shower first. I'm just gonna do a light kata to cool down." He was out of the kitchen and halfway up the stairs before he finished speaking.
Jason shook his head in amusement. "I don't know how he does it," he said, slightly out of breath. He slowly followed after Tommy.
Late that night, Tommy, Jason, Crystal, Ron, Siobhan, Liam, Da'an, Zo'or, and Ra'el, the European Companion, were alone in the room aboard the Mothership that Billy and Ta'ki had installed the teleportation system.
"Are you sure you want to come, Crystal?" Jason asked while Tommy was occupied talking to the Taelons. "It's going to be really dangerous, especially with your connection to Tommy. And Tommy's going to have to reestablish his life, now that he's leaving the Oliver house."
She nodded. "I'm sure. I was serious when I said I'm not very comfortable with Taelons right now - Though I hope some time apart will help me settle those feelings. But, even more importantly, Dad's facing all this now because of me. He needs me, and my family here doesn't. I know they want me, they all do, but with Tommy, it's different. And don't worry, I won't call him 'Dad' outside the Command Centre once we leave here."
Jason smiled. "Good - I just wanted to make sure you knew what you were getting into. Tommy means alot to me. I don't think anything could hurt him worse than his daughter not being able to accept him. And you mean alot to me, too - The same kind of connection, you know. I don't want you getting hurt over this decision, either."
"Thanks, Uncle Jas," she said as Tommy finally joined them.
"You ready, bro?" Jason asked him.
Tommy took a deep breath. Life would get . . . complicated when they got home. "Yeah."
"Then let's go." The three teleported.
Welcome home, Rangers," Zordon greeted. As he noticed Crystal, he felt confused, as the alarms hadn't reacted to a non-Ranger. "And who is your friend?"
"This is Crystal," Tommy stated, "my daughter." Tommy proceeded to tell him everything that had happened since his disappearance.
The Command Centre was silent when he finished. Finally, Zordon stated, "Welcome, Crystal, and thank you for convincing Tommy to finally face his demons. If you don't mind, I would like to do a scan on you to see why the computer didn't read you as a non-Ranger."
Crystal looked to Tommy, who nodded. "Okay," she said.
Zordon had Alpha start the scan. "While we wait on the scan, Jason, would you please bring your father here?"
Jason nodded and teleported out. A moment later, he, as the Red Ranger, returned with his father. Once there, he turned to his father and demorphed.
"Jason!" James Scott exclaimed, feeling shocked and relieved. He'd felt he was losing his son, especially after his wife died in one of the first alien attacks. To realize now the boy's disappearances and secrecy was because of the Rangers gave him great hope that his family would be strong once again. "No wonder the Rangers chose me to counsel them."
"I would have told you before, but as I said at home, it's against the rules to tell anyone our identities."
James smiled at his son. "I know you, Jason. If you keep something from me, you have an honorable reason to do so."
"Welcome to the Command Centre, Dr. Scott," Zordon said. Tommy walked up behind the Scotts. "Jason, Tommy, the results of the scan on Crystal show that she inherited the Green Ranger Power. She should be able to morph, without a Power Coin, and fight with you."
"Where is she?" Jason asked.
Tommy answered, "Sleeping, in the medical bay. Hi, Mr. Scott."
"Tommy. You're a Power Ranger, also."
He nodded. "Yeah, Green Ranger. I'm, uh, sorta the reason Zordon said we could tell you about us."
Jason said, "But the first thing we need to tell you about doesn't really involve the Ranger secret."
Crystal chose that moment to enter the room. "Oh, hi," she said. "I'm Crystal."
"James Scott," he introduced himself. "You're a Ranger, also?"
"Sorta," Tommy answered for her. "Crystal, Zordon said that you inherited the ability to morph Green."
Seeing James's confused expression, Tommy suggested they all sit down. Once they were seated, he began, "Around two months ago, I went for a walk in the park to get away from what Jas thinks I should tell you first. While I was there, Zedd sent a Shadow monster after me, with about two dozen putties . . ."
"So, when the other Rangers arrived, the Blue Ranger, Billy, worked with some Taelon scientists and found a way for us to be able to use teleportation to travel between the two planets," Tommy continued. "Crystal decided to come here with us, partly do to her being uncomfortable with the Taelons right now."
James looked at Crystal. "You're only a day old?"
"No, I'm a few hours past one day," she responded. "Both the Kimera and the Taelons inherit the memories of their parents."
James nodded. Turning back to Tommy, he asked, "What did Jason think you should start with?"
Tommy sighed. Looking at the time, he said, "It's getting late. Maybe we should eat dinner first, and . . ."
"Tommy," Jason said.
"Would it be easier if we spoke in private?" James asked.
"No," Tommy breathed.
Crystal took Tommy's hand. When he looked at her, she said, "It's okay, Dad. You're not alone." She hugged him. "And it doesn't make you weak. You're the strongest man I know."
"You don't know many people, yet," he commented.
"Not personally, I guess," she admitted. "But if my grandparents and my father didn't think you were strong, do you think they would agreed to me coming here? They didn't argue with me even after they heard what the Olivers did to you. You're strong enough to face this, Dad."
Tommy sighed. "Zordon, where are the others?"
Zordon answered, "The Youth Center. Do you want them here?" He was almost certain that wasn't the case.
"NO! Uh, could you just . . . make sure they don't come in while we're talking, or something?"
"I set up an alarm to let us know when anyone starts to teleport in."
"Thanks, Zordon." Tommy took a deep breath. "Did you know I'm adopted?"
"No, I didn't," James answered.
"The Olivers adopted me when I was . . . four, I guess. I don't remember anything about my real parents or how I ended up in the Children's Home, just the Olivers coming in and choosing me.
"Everyone said that I was lucky, that the Olivers would be great parents. They said I was extremely lucky that someone was willing to take me, 'cause I was too old.
"Was I lucky?" He asked this of Jason.
"For being adopted by them? No," Jason stated.
James could easily tell that the Olivers must have abused this boy, but he wasn't sure to what extent. "Tommy," he said. "How did they hurt you?"
Tommy asked Crystal, "How much of this do you remember from me?"
"I know that they hurt you, but not how."
"Good," he breathed. "Could you please go in the other room? I don't want this to hurt you."
She nodded. While she wanted to stay and support him, she understood why it might be easier for him without her there, and it was much more important that this be done than that she know what exactly happened. "Call me if you need me." She returned to the medical bay.
Once she was gone, James repeated his last question.
"It started with them yelling at me for everything, and sometimes they'd hit me but never really hard. Just enough to knock me down. Then, they started fighting each other, and would forget about me. That was okay - I could usually find some sort of food in the kitchen, or the guy at the store would give me something. But Alice left Gerry for awhile after he was discharged from the Navy Seals - dishonorably. Gerry suddenly remembered me, and he . . . He expected me to fill in for his wife. Cooking, cleaning, and . . . other stuff. When Alice came back, I was still expected to do all of that stuff. They also started hitting harder, and I ended up in the hospital a few times. It was never in the same town, though. - Then, I met Tao. He taught me the martial arts, over about a year and a half. He actually moved to follow us several times. He was killed in a drive by shooting during our last lesson."
Tommy paused, remembering his old teacher, still mourning for him. "It was about a month later that we moved to Angel Grove and I competed against Jas. When I left the Youth Center, Rita sent Goldar, Scorpina, and a couple dozen putties after me. It didn't really take them long to capture me - I was sorta tired from the tournament. Once they had me on the moon, Rita put a spell on me, and made me the Green Ranger. You lived here through that, so I'll skip to the last battle. The Rangers managed to break the spell, then Jason . . . I still have a hard time believing this part. Jason actually offered me not only a place on the team, but his friendship. I still don't know why."
Jason stated, "Because you're a great guy. We knew it was Rita's spell that forced you to fight us. It was you that had the strength to fight the spell enough that you didn't kill any of us. And we all know that you could have killed us all. Especially me."
James asked, "What do you mean by especially you?"
"I, uh, was fighting him one on one," Tommy replied, "in the Dimension of Darkness. I won the fight, knocked his blade out of his hand and had him on the ground, with the tip of my sword at his heart."
"And you stopped," Jason added. "You stood there for a moment, then you drew your sword away. Even with Rita's spell ordering you to kill me, you stopped."
James forced himself to move beyond the fact that he'd almost lost his son, reminding himself that this boy fought the spell and didn't kill him. That had to have taken alot of strength and honor. Plus, everything he knew of the boy told him that it was only the spell. "Tommy, do the Olivers still abuse you?"
"Why would they stop?" he asked quietly.
James sighed. "Tommy, we need to tell the police . . ."
"We can't. It has to be handled between us. Zedd will us this against me."
"Zedd will use anything he can against him, Dad," Jason agreed. "But we do have a plan."
A few hours later, Tommy, Dr. James Scott, and Jason teleported to the Oliver's house. Tommy opened the front door and they went inside. They found the Olivers in the kitchen, drinking beer.
"'Bout time ya got here, punk," Gerry Oliver growled. "Get me anodder beer."
"Told you," Tommy whispered to Jason.
Tommy handed each of the Olivers a can, and waited patiently as they began to drink. Almost as one, they spit out the foul tasting liquid.
"What the hell?" Gerry demanded.
"Just a formula to sober you up," Tommy replied calmly. "With you drunk out of your minds, you would never hear what I came to say."
"You little punk, if . . ."
"Shut up, Gerry," Alice Oliver said. "Let the little weakling talk."
Jason looked ready to explode. Tommy looked at him until he calmed himself down. James marveled at this.
"I'm leaving," Tommy stated. "You're going to sign these papers," he tossed some papers down before them, "giving Mr. Scott custody of me. Then, you're going move back to LA. The movers will be here first thing in the morning - You'll be moving back into the flat, as Tao left it to me in his will. I'm giving it to you to get you out of town and out of my life. You are to never come back to Angel Grove for anything.
"If, for some reason, you don't do everything I've just said, I will go to the police and tell them everything that the two of you have done since I've had the misfortune to know you."
"You think the cops would believe whatever stories you'd make up, Tommy boy," Gerry said. "I'll see you in hell before I let you leave, after everything we've given you."
"Mr. Scott, Jason, would you wait for me outside?" Tommy asked. When they hesitated, he tapped his communicator. "I won't be alone." They reluctantly did as he asked. Tommy waited until they were gone, then calmly stated, "Listen carefully, asshole. I don't give a damn whether the cops listen to me or not. If you don't sign that fucking paper and get the hell out of town, I'll sign it and make you disappear. No one will ever know. No one will miss two pieces of crap like you. Understand?"
"You fucking shit!" Alice exclaimed. "You think you can threaten me!"
Gerry growled. "A weakling boy like you! I'll kill you myself."
Tommy smirked. "Dragonzord!"
Gerry and Alice froze as they found themselves threatening the Green Ranger.
"Sit down, sign the paper, and get the hell out of town immediately and you'll survive. If I see you again . . ." Green Ranger drifted off.
Gerry and Alice, white with fear, sat down and signed the paper. Tommy took it, then demorphed. Without another word, he walked outside.
Jason was beside him immediately. "How'd it go?"
"They signed. Let's go back to the Command Centre." The three teleported out.
Crystal threw her arms around Tommy the moment he appeared, taking his hand in hers. A soft green glow emanated from their hands at the gentle sharing. Crystal saw the confrontation with the Olivers and how Tommy got them to sign, the mixed emotions that went from joy of freedom to sorrow that he was never truly wanted to guilt over threatening them to get free. Tommy felt Crystal's complete acceptance of him, the assurance that he'd done the right thing. They were filled with the feeling of belonging, of family.
Jason smiled as he watched the two, saw the tension fall off his brother of choice for the first time since Rita's spell, maybe for the first time in his life.
Dr. James Scott watched the three apparent teenagers that were now legally his children: one he'd adopted as a baby, one he'd been thinking of as his second son since they'd met, and one that was literally born yesterday yet held the knowledge and wisdom of an entire species inside her. It was overwhelming to know they were Power Rangers, the heroes the world looked to for salvation, but in some ways he'd already recognized his son in the Red Ranger, recognized his second son in the Green Ranger and the story the Rangers told of his breaking free from mental slavery. It was even more overwhelming to learn about so many different worlds and species, different dimensions. But again, the Power Rangers and their alien enemies had been known for awhile so it was only the vastness and intricacy of it all that was unknown. Overall it was amazingly easy to accept the truth of these three children.
Zordon watched the small family with a sense of peace as he saw them regain what was lost and find what they'd never had. As hard as the path had been, as much as still stood before them, he saw this as a turning point that could lead to a victory that did not break his chosen. He remembered when he first told Tommy the prophesy of the New Light, speaking to a broken child as he just tried to fill the night and give him even a moment of peace. Now he saw that child finally beginning to heal. He agreed Crystal was a fitting name for his daughter, but in Zordon's eyes the three before him were all the New Light.