"Come on!" Donald called to Bloom and the others as he, Ryan, Goofy, Ariel, Jake, Zim, Genie, and Piglet walked across the rope bridge to the cottage. Goofy was covering Bloom's eyes.
"Guys, why can't you tell me what this all about?" Bloom curiously asked.
"Awhuck, you'll see! It's a surprise." Goofy responded with a chuckle. After they entered the cottage, Jake closed the door and Goofy uncovered her eyes.
"TA-DAH!" Zim exclaimed when they were all the way in the cave, pointing ahead, and the others smiled as Bloom looked on in surprise, stopping short when she saw what was in the center of the cottage. There, tilted to one side, was the statue of Sky! "Prince Sky's statue!" Bloom exclaimed in surprise. "But where- when- how did you get it?"
"Oh, you guys are the best!" she exclaimed, hugging Ariel, giving Ryan, Goofy, Jake, and Zim a kiss on the cheek, then petting Piglet on the head. She scooped up Donald and twirled around with the duck in her arms, and finally hugged Genie.
"It looks just like him! It even has his eyes!" she gasped, as she flew around the statue. If only it really were him, she thought. "Why, Sky, you want me to run away with you?" she asked dreamily with a giggle. "This is all so sudden!"
She whirled around with happiness. The room seemed to spin. She saw the shelves, the window, the ceiling, her friends, the entrance, Xem, and Obi-Wan Kenobi-Obi-Wan Kenobi?
"Master Kenobi!" Bloom yelped when she saw a shadowed Obi-Wan at the entrance with an intent look on his face. Xem stood right behind, looking down at the ground in guilt. Ryan and the gang hid behind a large chest.
The Jedi Master stepped out of the entrance and into the cottage. In the uneven light, his face was etched in shadows.
"I consider myself a very reasonable Jedi... I set certain RULES; and I expect them to be obeyed; not broken!" Obi-Wan said angrily.
Bloom swallowed hard, and tried to explain. "But, Master, I-"
"Is it true that you rescued a outsider...a human - from drowning?" he demanded.
"Master, I had to!" Bloom exclaimed.
"Contact between our world and the mortal realm is strictly forbidden, Bloom, you know that. Everyone knows that!"
"He would have died!" Bloom protested.
"Bah!" Obi-Wan scoffed waving his hand. "One less human to worry about!"
"You can't treat me like a child," Bloom said heatedly.
"Bloom, think about what happened to your parents!" Obi-Wan shouted. He began to sing:
Obi-Wan: This is where you belong!
"You don't understand-" Bloom protested.
Obi-Wan: For once, just listen will you?
That savage brute would kill you in the world out there!
"He's not a barbarian!" Bloom shouted.
Obi-Wan: Don't try that same old song,
I'll have you grounded til next year!
Am I clear! Don't go near that world out there!
"You don't even know him!" Bloom shouted.
"Know him? I don't have to know him!" Obi-Wan roared. "They're all the same; heartless monsters who are only compelled by greed, and will kill and destroy anything that's not like them-"
That did it for Bloom, who couldn't hold it in anymore. "Master, I love him!" she shouted with tears in her eyes. Upon realizing what she said, Bloom gasped and covered her mouth. Xem and the others gasped as well. Obi-Wan looked stunned.
"No..." he gasped. His shock turned to anger. He ignited his lightsaber and turned to Xem. The tiger screamed in terror and flattened himself against the wall, trying not to get killed. "I leave her in your care and this is what happens?" Obi-Wan shouted.
"Please, Master! Have mercy!" Xem begged, sobbing hysterically as he got on his knees and hugging Obi-Wan's knees. The Jedi Master kicked the tiger away, who whimpered and curled up, shaking terribly.
"It isn't his fault!" Ryan shouted, stepping out. Obi-Wan turned off his lightsaber and turned to Ryan.
"And you, Ryan! You knew all along, too?" the Jedi demanded.
"Yes, Master." Ryan gulped.
"Why did you not tell me this then?"
"I...I...I'm sorry, Master Obi-Wan." Ryan said slowly. The jedi master turned back to Bloom.
"And, as for you, have you lost all sense? He's a human; you're an immortal!" Obi-Wan shouted.
"It doesn't matter! I don't care!" Bloom protested.
"So help me, Bloom, I will get through to you, no matter what!" Obi-Wan threatened. Bloom's friends couldn't take anymore of this. They ran from their hiding places.
"Why you pompous, arrogant, cold-hearted wind bag! " Genie shouted.
"WHAT WAS THAT?" Obi-Wan shouted angrily. Xem yelped.
"Yo, you heard him, you piece of Bantha fodder!" Jake shouted.
"You're not a nice person!" Piglet said timidly.
"Yeah! You only care about yourself, you emotionless pig!" Donald added.
"You old jerk!" Goofy shouted.
"You're ten times worse than my daddy!" Ariel added.
"You have no heart at all, Obi-Wan!" Zim sneered. Xem looked nervous and Obi-Wan was furious.
"THAT'S IT! You pushed me too far! Xemnas and you seven are BANISHED from Fantasia until the end of your days!" Obi-Wan shouted. Bloom and her friends gasped.
"Exile?" Xem whimpered. "No! NO! NOOOOOO! IT CAN'T BE TRUE!" Xem sobbed hysterically.
"And, Xemnas, if you are not gone by sunset, you will be sent to the electric chair!" Obi-Wan shouted. Xem whimpered and hid behind Ryan and the others.
"That's not fair!" Bloom shouted. Obi-Wan resumed singing:
Obi-Wan: I'm still the King here!
My word is law!
Obi-Wan grabbed a telescope off one shelf and glared at it with disgust, before throwing it to the ground and stepping on it, breaking the item.
This filth you bring here,
Is the final straw!
And push, my student, has come to shove!
I'll make you obey till you do what I say!
I don't care, come what may, but I'll keep you away
from that cruel, harsh, cold, vile world OUT THERE!
Obi-Wan ignited his lighsaber. Xem and the others gasped and ran for cover. Despite Bloom's pleas, Obi-Wan destroyed every artifact with his lightsaber. He then set his sights on the statue. He prepared a mighty force burst. "MASTER OBI-WAN, NO!" Bloom shouted. The statue was destroyed in a mighty explosion caused by the force.
Obi-Wan then introduced Bloom and her friends to Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker! Anakin was Obi-Wan's best friend! Bloom and her friends were very happy to meet Anakin!
"No!!!!" Billy leaped across the console, trying to get to the teleportation unit that would send all of them, all the Rangers, Alpha, and Zordon, out of the Command Center. Tommy pulled him away as fast as he could, then everything went white as they were teleported outside.
Slowly Billy made his way to his feet. They were outside; the Command Center sat on it's hill roughly fifty feet above them. His eyes went at once to the magnificent building that had been everything but his home the past three years. His heart spasmed as it exploded, scattering dust and debris everywhere. He started to run towards it.
"Tommy!" Kat's voice cut through the noise of the explosion, stopping him in his tracks. He looked over to where it came from, and his heart sank.
"No," he breathed the word this time. The explosion dwindled almost to insignificance at that moment as he saw who. . . or rather what. ..she was kneeling beside. "Tommy. . ."
He found himself beside her a few moments later. Tommy lay splayed on the ground, a huge piece of bloody shrapnel imbedded in his chest. "Oh, no," Rocky breathed, tears starting down his cheeks. "This is horrible. . ."
There was nothing that could be done. Tommy had likely been dying even as the Command Center exploded. And now. . .it was done with.
"Now what do we do?" Tanya whispered. Her life had been turned upside down in less than the space of a day. First she'd been torn from the time she'd been in and sent to them. Then just as she was adjusting to that, Rito and Goldar had stolen the Zeo Crystal and let off an implosion device in the Command Center. Now, one of the people she'd just met had died in that destruction.
"Let's go see if Zordon and Alpha are . . .all right," Billy suggested. "We . . .can't do anything for Tommy now. He'll be safe here."
Kat nodded a little bit, then slowly reached over to close the former White Ranger's eyes softly. As the others started up the side of the cliff, she leaned over to place a gentle kiss on his lips. "Rest well, Tom. You've earned it."
The five of them wandered about the ruins of the Command Center. Kat whispered softly, "I always thought the Command Center was the one safe place Rita and Zedd could never touch."
Rocky placed a hand on her shoulder. "We'll find a way to get them for this, Kat," he assured her.
"How?" Adam asked. "Without the Zeo Crystal, what can we do?"
Billy sighed and looked around. The place was a total shambles, to say the absolute least. As his eyes traveled across the ruins, something stopped them suddenly. "What's that?
Something crystal glittered at them from underneath the rubble. As swiftly as they could, the five teens ran over to it, and Billy dared to reach under and pull free. . . The Zeo Crystal.
"Whoa," Rocky stared at it. "Rito and Goldar must've dropped it during the explosion!"
As they stood around staring at the object that had brought so much pain, destruction, and even death, the earth suddenly began to shake under their feet. "What's going on?" Tanya screamed; there were few earthquakes in Africa.
"Earthquake!" Adam tried to reach for the Zeo Crystal as it fell from Billy's grasp. "Hold on!"
It was all they could do to remain on their feet as the entire mountain shook like an aspen leaf in a strong wind. Then, just where they were standing, the earth collapsed, dropping them into a deep and dark hole. Darkness engulfed each of their minds.
It might have been hours or days later when they each stirred and came back around. "Where are we?" were the first words out of Kat's mouth.
"Looks like we're in the tunnels under the Command Center," Billy said, looking around. He'd seen schematics for this in the data files. He closed his eyes for a few moments, doing his best to force the horrible memory of Tommy on the ground like that. We'll go back for his body once we've found Zordon and Alpha. Tommy would've wanted us to protect the Earth first and foremost.
Adam nodded briefly. "Let's try this way," he gestured down a corridor. With Billy in the lead, they headed out.
For who knew how long, they walked through the seemingly endless tunnels. Then, out of nowhere, they heard Alpha's voice. "There! Everything's all set up and working properly again!"
"Is that. . .," they looked at each other, hardly daring to hope that they had heard correctly.
"Rangers," Alpha spoke again. "Please enter the vortex!"
In front of them there appeared a strange bluish-white swirl of light. The five stared at it a bit fearfully, then Alpha's voice came a third time. "Rangers, step into the vortex."
One by one they did so, emerging into a huge, well-lighted, spacious chamber. "Whoa," Tanya breathed. "This is awesome!"
"To say the least," Billy agreed. Computers and scanning devices of every type were everywhere, but there was no sign of Alpha or Zordon. "I know we heard him. Where are you, Alpha?"
"Ay-yi-yi!" they all turned to see the familiar form of Alpha 5 coming towards them. "Hello, Power Rangers. Welcome home."
"Alpha!" the Rangers ran towards him, forgetting their grief over Tommy for a few moments.
"Hello, Rangers. Welcome to the Power Chamber," he spoke a little sadly. "We are aware of what happened to Tommy. He was a brave and proud warrior, and he will be missed."
"We?" Kat's voice held a moment of hope. "Then Zordon is. .
I AM FINE, KATHERINE, Zordon appeared in the new tube for him. BUT THOUGH THIS IS A TIME OF SADNESS, FOR THE DEATH OF TOMMY, WE HAVE NO TIME TO MOURN. ALREADY THIS WORLD FACES A GREAT CHALLENGE.
"Rita and Zedd?" Tanya asked. Zordon shook his head.
NO, TANYA. The Rangers listened in awe as he told them of the mighty Machine Empire, and how their arrival had sent the two minions of evil packing off to the M-51 Galaxy.
"I can't believe they left!" Rocky's eyes were huge.
THE MACHINE EMPIRE IS EVEN MORE DANGEROUS THAN RITA AND ZEDD, Zordon told them. BUT THE ZEO CRYSTAL HAS BEEN SUCCESSFULLY ASSEMBLED, AND THUS CAN NOW GIVE YOU ALL NEW POWERS.
Billy stepped forward suddenly. "Zordon," he said. "Who's going to take Tommy's crystal and lead the team?"
BILLY, I HAVE THOUGHT OF THIS EVER SINCE OUR SENSORS REGISTERED TOMMY'S DEATH, Zordon spoke solemnly. THOUGH THERE ARE MANY CANDIDATES WHO ARE WORTHY, ONE STANDS ABOVE THE REST, WHO HAS LED THE TEAM IN A TIME OF GREAT PERIL, IS A SPLENDID FIGHTER, AND POSSESSED OF GREAT WISDOM.
The former Blue Ranger bit his lip. Jason. He's talking about Jason. Good choice. He'll make a fine leader.
BILLY, WILL YOU ACCEPT TOMMY'S SUBCRYSTAL, AND BE THE LEADER OF THE NEW TEAM OF RANGERS?
Say what? Billy stared up at his mentor. "Zordon, you can't be serious!"
"Why not?" Adam asked. "I think you'd be perfect for the job!"
Kat nodded. "So do I!"
Rocky and Tanya weren't long in agreeing. With everyone else united, Billy sighed. "All right, if you all insist."
RANGERS, STAND BEFORE ME, Zordon ordered. YOUR COURAGE AND SACRIFICE HAVE BROUGHT US THE ZEO CRYSTAL, WHICH WILL NOW BE USED TO EMPOWER THE NEXT GENERATION OF POWER RANGERS.
Five sets of bracelet-like things appeared on a table before them. RANGERS, THESE ARE YOUR ZEONIZERS. WITH THE POWER OF THE SUBCRYSTALS, THEY WILL ALLOW YOU TO MORPH AND CALL UPON YOUR NEW ZEO POWERS.
As they picked up the Zeonizers, the Zeo Crystal appeared floating next to Zordon briefly, then divided into it's subcrystals, each one hanging over one of the Rangers. KATHERINE, YOU ARE NOW ZEO RANGER I, PINK. The crystal descended into Kat, and a moment later she stood clad in her new Pink armor.
TANYA, YOU ARE NOW ZEO RANGER II, YELLOW. A flash of light, and Tanya was fully morphed.
THE OTHER THREE SUBCRYSTALS HAVE GIVEN YOU ALL NEW COLORS, Zordon told the male Rangers. ROCKY, YOU ARE NOW ZEO RANGER III, BLUE. Rocky now wore blue armor similar in shade to what Billy had worn during his days as the Blue Ranger.
ADAM, YOU ARE NOW ZEO RANGER IV, GREEN, Zordon told him, as he was empowered by his subcrystal. Finally, they all stood and looked at Billy.
BILLY, TOMMY RETRIEVED HIS CRYSTAL WITH HONOR, BUT PERISHED BEFORE HE COULD ACCEPT IT'S POWER. I KNOW THAT IF HE WERE ABLE, HE WOULD ASK YOU TO CARRY ON IN HIS PLACE AS ZEO RANGER V, RED.
The crystal enveloped Billy in it's power, and he stood there in the gleaming red armor of the team's leader.
AS POWER RANGERS, YOU HAVE SERVED YOUR PLANET WELL, Zordon told them. BUT THE POWER RANGERS AS YOU HAVE KNOWN THEM ARE GONE FOREVER. IN THEIR PLACE HAS ARISEN A NEW, MORE ADVANCED FIGHTING FORCE. YOU ARE NOW THE POWER RANGERS ZEO, THE NEXT LEVEL IN THE FIGHT AGAINST EVIL.
Billy could feel the strength that the Power gave him, but also in his heart there beat sadness at the price this had come. I'll do my best to be the kind of leader and Ranger you were, Tommy, he swore to himself. I never wanted this, not at the cost of your life, or anyone's life. But I'll do you proud, my friend.
Once the Power Rangers Zeo had halted King Mondo's first attack on the planet, they returned Thomas Lyn Oliver's body to his parents. To them alone did they reveal his identity as a former Ranger, stating he had given his life in the defense of the planet. The rest of Angel Grove was told Tommy had died in a monster attack, a rare, but not unheard of thing to happen in that town.
Two days after Tommy's funeral, Billy stood on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. The red shirt and jeans he wore felt natural on him, though he'd never thought he'd look good in this color.
Tommy was on his mind. He had been ever since the funeral, heck, ever since seeing his body outside the Command Center. And even more so since accepting the power of the Red Zeo Ranger.
Billy, I swear, if you don't cheer up, I'm going to haunt you the rest of your life!
The Red Ranger jerked around to see. . ."Tommy?"
Of course, who were you expecting, Elvis? Tommy's ghost stood there, just as if he were alive.
"Tommy. . .you're dead!"
Of course I'm dead, that's why I'm a ghost! Tommy actually laughed; in all the time Billy had known him, it had been as if a great weight of some type were on his shoulders. Either he had been the Green Ranger, visible symbol of Rita's near-successful defeat of the Rangers, or he had been the White Ranger, the white knight leader of the team. But now he seemed relaxed, at ease. Billy irreverently thought, death's been good for him!
"Tommy, I'm sorry!" he gasped the words out. "I should've. . .you shouldn't be dead!"
His friend laid an insubstantial hand on one shoulder. Yes, I should be. I went through too much as a Ranger, Billy. Fighting the Machine Empire would've eventually driven me insane. It was time for me to move on.
"I have your crystal," Billy whispered. Tommy nodded.
I rather suspected Zordon would give it to you. I'm glad. You deserve it, Billy. And you're doing a fine job of leading the Rangers, better than I ever did. I just came to tell you that. And if you need to be asked, Tommy looked at him a trifle harshly, a trifle pleadingly. Billy, I'm dead. Would you take the subcrystal that I retrieved and be the Red Zeo Ranger, and lead the Power Rangers?
Amazingly, Billy felt better for hearing the question. "Yes, Tommy," he said softly. "And thank you. For trusting me."
Ghostly fingers ruffled through his hair. Hey, just returning the favor. You guys trusted me back in the old days, when I was the Green Ranger. Now I trust you: Red Ranger.
Tears stood in Billy's eyes as Tommy began to fade away. See you one day, Billy. . .but not too soon. . .and talk to Kat. . .
A few moments later, Billy stood alone on the cliffs, but with a lighter heart than he had felt before. The beeping of his communicator interrupted his thoughts. "What is it, Zordon?"
BILLY, KING MONDO HAS SENT DOWN ANOTHER MONSTER, THIS TIME TO ANGEL GROVE PARK, Zordon's voice came over the device. THE OTHER RANGERS ARE ALREADY THERE. Billy smiled a little to himself. Time to go to work.
"I'm on the way, Zordon," he said. "It's morphin' time!"
The power began to charge him even as he said the words. Then. . he spoke the last part of the morphing phrase. "Zeo Ranger Five, Red!"
Kimberly Harte worked through her usual morning routine, humming under her breath as she concentrated. Things were just as they'd always been here since she'd arrived here in Gunther Schmidt's compound: boring and repetitious. Every day was the same here. A five a.m. wake up call, a light breakfast, practice until lunch, eat a decent meal, practice until supper, then more practice until all hours of the night. No variety, very little time off, and no one interesting to talk to. All the people around here wanted to discuss was gymnastics, morning, noon, and night.
She missed her friends in Angel Grove. They'd all been different, had different interests, a thousand different things they loved to do. But most of all, she missed Tommy.
Tommy Oliver, she whispered his name in her mind over and over again like a mantra of peace and remembrance. Her beloved white knight, her truest friend and true love, always there for her. . .
She sighed suddenly, and headed for the showers. She wasn't going to be able to work out anymore for a while, her mind was too focused on Tommy. She paused suddenly as she passed the recreation room and caught sight of the TV in there.
A special news bulletin was being aired. "And in the city of Angel Grove today, the citizens mourn the passing of Thomas Lyn Oliver, killed in a monster attack, one of the last by Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd before they left the planet due to the invasion of the Machine Empire. The newly formed Power Rangers Zeo, who assure us they are the same as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers who previously protected our planet, did their best to save his life, but even they failed in this.
"Zeo Ranger V, Red, the team's leader, issued this statement on behalf of the team. 'Thomas Oliver died nobly, and we would gladly give our powers up if that would restore him to life. However, it will not. We cannot guarantee this will not happen again, but we will do all we can to make certain it does not. We cannot make up for the loss of this fine young man, nothing can possibly make up for the loss of a life. But hopefully the new defensive measures we are taking will lessen the odds of it happening again.'."
The announcer looked up, and Kim could tell this was no practical joke. "To recap, Thomas Lyn Oliver of Angel Grove has died in a monster attack."
Kim backed away from the television, as one of the other trainees glanced over at her. "Hey, you're from Angel Grove, aren't you, Harte? Did you know this guy?"
Kim didn't answer, as she turned and ran back to the training room. Exercise. . .that's what I need. . .exercise. . .it wasn't real. . .didn't hear it. . .didn't hear it. ..
She hit the exercise beam a moment later, leaping up with all her skill. She flipped back and forth, her tears blinding her, but her body moving with almost innate skill. "Miss Harte!" she heard her coach's voice only vaguely as she missed her hold on the balance beam, and struck her head once more on it, in the same place she had six months prior.
Darkness invaded her mind, and took residence there.
Five beams of light appeared just outside the Angel Grove Youth Center, pink, yellow, green, blue, and red. The pink and yellow became two young women, one a tall blonde with a light Australian accent, the other an African-American lady. The green, blue, and red lights became three young men. In green was an Asian, in blue a Latin American, and in red, a Caucasian, with mixed joy, sadness, and wisdom in his warm eyes.
Quietly they walked into the Youth Center. The bonds that held them together were every bit as strong as they ever had been, but were now touched with sorrow. "I miss Tommy," Kat, the Pink Zeo Ranger, said softly as they sat down.
Rocky, wearing blue now, nodded. "It's like there's this gap in the way things are supposed to be," he murmured. Green-wearing Adam and yellow-suited Tanya, though she had known him for only a few moments, both agreed. Billy, dressed in the red he was slowly becoming accustomed to, said nothing.
He still clearly remembered his meeting with Tommy's ghost on the cliffs outside Angel Grove two days earlier. Since then, he'd felt much easier about his position as Red Ranger and leader of the team. But still, he missed his friend. He'd been the one who'd had to announce to the world about the death of Thomas Oliver, and it hadn't been easy in the slightest.
We have to tell the others. Jason, Zack, Trini, Kim. I wish we could get in touch with Aisha somehow. Kim. Oh, Kim. She's going to take this worst of all. She and Tommy were so close. . .so close. . .
"Billy?" he looked up to see Ernie calling them from the counter, holding out a telephone in one hand. "Call for you guys, from Florida!"
Must be Kim. I wonder if she knows yet. . ."I'll take it, Ernie," the Red Ranger walked over to the counter and picked up the phone.
Back at the table, Tanya glanced at the others. "Who does Billy know from Florida?"
"Kimberly Harte," Kat told the Rangers' newest member. She quickly filled her in on the first Pink Ranger. Tanya nodded slowly, then looked up as Billy came back over to them, his face paler and whiter than they'd ever seen it before.
"Billy?" Rocky asked. "What's going on?"
It took him three tries before the latest leader of the Rangers could get the words out. "Kim's in the hospital. She's hurt herself again on the balance beam."
Rocky, Adam, and Kat all looked as if they were going to faint, Tanya looked startled and sick. Billy took a deep breath. "They don't know if she's going to live."
Kim looked down at her body and sighed. So this is what it's like to be dead, she thought. Well, mostly dead, anyway. She could see the way the heart monitor was still beeping, indicating her life.
It had been quite a surprise to her to find she was more or less aware of herself after the accident. It hadn't been like that in her first accident in Angel Grove. Then again, this one was a little different. She'd listened to the doctors as they'd examined her, and talked to her mom and stepdad once they'd arrived in the hospital. She'd hit her head in an extremely vulnerable spot, and the damage was severe. She'd ruptured several blood vessels in her first fall, and the second one had done it again, even worse.
I'm going to die, she knew that already. She shrugged her ghostly shoulders. Without Tommy, I don't want to live anyway.
Kimmie? the former Pink Ranger looked up to see a sight in front of her she hadn't seen in far too long. Kimmie, is that really you?
Tommy!! she ran straight over to him and threw herself into his arms. They were solid only to each other, and it was a relief beyond words to feel him again. Oh, Tommy, I missed you!
Tommy ran his ghostly fingers through her insubstantial hair. Oh, Kim, what happened to you?
I fell off the balance beam again! she told him. I'd heard about you. ..
He raised her head to look into her eyes. I've missed you, he told her. I wish you hadn't taken it quite so hard, though. You have a lot of life ahead of you.
She shook her head. Her choice had been made the moment she saw him standing there. No, Tommy. I HAD a life ahead of me. My life ended the moment yours did. I don't want to be without you any longer, and now we don't have to be.
Kim? What are you saying?
Her transparent eyes flashed with all the fire they had in life. That I'm not going to live. It's not like I have a choice, anyway. I've heard the doctors, they can't save me. They're keeping me on life support until the others get here. Then. . .they turn me off.
He couldn't believe his eyes and ears. Kim? Are you sure?
I've never been more certain of anything in my life, she told him firmly. He nodded, and took her hand, pulling her into a kiss.
I love you, Kimberly Ann Harte. I've missed you since I died, and even before.
Hand in hand, they sat down to await the end, and the beginning, together. The end of Kim's life, and the beginning of her death.
Jason, Zack, and Trini were the last ones to arrive in the hospital room. The others were scattered throughout the intensive care room, all of them in various stages of tears. Trini looked briefly around, naming off faces to herself until she saw who was missing. Her heart twitched a little to remember Tommy was dead.
Jason glanced first at Billy, and nodded briefly to himself. He wears it well. It's been rough on him, but he's doing a good job from what I've heard on the news. Billy had called them once the Zeo Quest was settled, and told them about Tommy's death and his own selection as the Red Zeo Ranger.
Zack was choking back tears, Kim had been his friend since childhood. To see her so pale on the bed, with tubes up her nose and down her throat, and snaking out from under the sheets absolutely terrified and sickened him. Why did this have to happen?
Kat looked quietly at her friend and predecessor as the Pink Ranger, and wiped away her tears. Going to miss you, my friend. But you're going to be with Tommy, and I know you wouldn't have wanted to live in a world without him, anyway. Good luck, both of you. I love you both.
"Is everyone ready?" everyone looked up to see Dr. Davis standing in the doorway. Kim's mother shook her head softly.
"No," she said. "But we don't have a choice."
The doctor nodded, and walked over to the machines that were the only thing holding Kimberly Ann Harte to life. With quiet motions, he began to slowly turn them off. The room grew very quiet. Everyone's attention was on the pale face on the bed.
Quiet voices were the only thing that broke the peace of the room, as each person spoke briefly of times they had spent with Kimberly. Billy spoke of a time when he and her had been 'extremely' close. Only Jason, Zack, and Trini knew of what he meant by that, the time when the two of them had traded bodies.
Kat told of how Aisha and Kim had welcomed her to the neighborhood when she'd first arrived, and had become friends almost at once. Kat withheld how she'd been under Rita Repulsa's evil spell when she'd come to town as well.
Each of the others told a little tale of Kim, as the doctor quietly turned off each machine. Just as the sun was touching the horizon outside, Kimberly Ann Harte, former Pink Ranger, and former Pink Ninja, took her final breath.
Only those who were or had been Rangers saw what happened next. From out of her body rose a ghostly pink crane, that smiled, somehow, at them all. From out of a glow of light there came a white falcon. They circled around the Rangers, past and present, and twin clear, and very familiar, voices sounded in their minds.
We're together, guys. This is what was meant to be. We can't stay long, but we want you to know, we're going to miss you. But we'll always be watching. We love you.
Then, they were gone. Kim's mother was bent over with tears, as her husband did his best to comfort her. A time of great mourning had begun.
Three days later, Kimberly Ann Harte was put to rest next to the man she had loved in life, Thomas Lyn Oliver. Her parents had agreed to it, once Tommy's parents showed them his diary, where the last entry had spelled out his intentions to propose to her as soon as she returned from the Pan-Global Games.
Once the funeral was over, the Zeo Rangers stood in a row looking at the small metal plaques that was the only sign their two friends had ever lived. The gravestones would come in due time.
"We're going to miss them," Kat's voice was thick with tears she had not shed. There had been no time in which to shed them.
Billy nodded. "More than can be said," he agreed. Words slowly failed them all as they simply stared at the grave. Finally, one by one, they all headed for Billy's new red Tracker that they'd come to the graveyard in.
Hey, guys! the Rangers suddenly jerked up at the sound of Tommy's voice. They looked to see two ghosts shimmering into being, leaning against Billy's car. Keep your chin up, my friends. You guys have got a lot of living ahead of you, and Kim and I don't want to have to haunt you!
That's right! Kim nodded. So you guys get your tears out of the way, and then get on with protecting the planet. To put it bluntly, Mondo's not going to wait around for you to mourn before he attacks, and you can't do your job if you're weeping and wailing about us.
Rocky stammered, "But. . .you guys are dead!
And you're not, Rocko, Tommy reminded him. We're not saying not to miss us or forget us. Just. . .remember what you're here for.
Kat only stared helplessly at her best friend's ghost, and then let the tears she'd wanted to shed for so long slide down her cheeks. Kim came over to her, wrapping her arms about her friend. Let it out, Kat, Kim whispered. Don't be afraid to cry.
The guys gathered about Tommy's ghost, whispering their own fears, doubts, and grief over his passing. He did what he could to comfort them, and instill his complete confidence in Billy as a leader.
For many long hours, the Rangers, two ghosts and five alive, spoke with each other. The conversation was interrupted by the beeping of the Rangers' communicators. Tommy and Kim both smiled. Get to work, guys, Kim told them. The living Rangers stepped away, and Billy cried out fiercely, "It's morphin' time!"
Kat began it, and did it with a lighter heart than she had since first taking on her powers when Kim left for Florida. Her desire for peace had finally been granted. "Zeo Ranger I, Pink!"