By: Willow Blessing

[nee GCHEU empress]

Disclaimer: Power Rangers don't belong to me, they belong to Saban the Dread and Puissant. I'm doing this for love, not money. Any characters herein you don't recognize from the show are my own creation.

Note: This takes place a few months after "Passing the Torch" and blithely proceeds to ignore the whole Phantom Ranger/RescueZords/PRiS thing.

Warning: This story contains adult situations. It has been edited from the original version for more general reading; nevertheless, it may still be offensive. Use caution. If violence, profanity, melodrama, references to sex and rape (which are not the same thing), or a pot-shot at Christianity [if you're familiar with Chieftains music] bother you, I suggest you read something else.

Thanks Be to Capri. Sometimes courage just needs [virtual] hand-holding.

Physics class:
Adam is thinking more of the stunt work he's been picking up here and there than the theory his instructor is explaining. he thinks, before turning his attention back to the class. The good Doctor is reciting a theory whereby the universe has no starting or ending point, it's circular. It's a little too much for Adam. He looks around the room to see if anyone else is lost. He notices a girl about his own age sitting in the first row - she has that downy, nordic hair, as if the pale, fine strands are trying not to touch each other - shaking her head in negation. The instructor sees her too.

"You disagree with Professor Hawking's theory, Miss Bliss?" says Dr. Simmons in a deceptively mild voice.

"Yes, sir." answers the blond, levelly.

"May I ask why?" comes the condescending rejoinder.

"His theory fails to take into account that the material universe - en toto - experiences time in a linear fashion. Therefore, it cannot be circular."

Simmons blinks a few times, looking pole-axed. Apparently it was a good answer. The Dr. seemed to understand the implications, even if the rest of the class didn't.

In the room's silence, Adam fantasizes he's experiencing an episode of cl airvoyance. In his mind he hears the Dr. thinking "Well, I'll be damned! Why hasn't anybody thought of that before?"

Before Simmons can recover himself to reply, the bell rings, signaling di smissal. "I want a write-up on your refutation before midterm." Dr. Simmons tells her, raising his voice above the din of exiting students.

Adam waits outside on the building steps to talk to her. "Hi. I'm Adam Park." he says politely.

"Chandra Bliss." she responds, shaking his hand.

"You really stunned 'ol Simmons..." His mouth continues talking, unattended, while his brain is busy drowning in large, blue eyes -so dark they're almost black. "Haven't I seen you at the gym?" he distantly hears himself asking, knowing damn well that he had.

"Yeah, I ..." he's so lost in memorizing her elfin face that he only vaguely registers the affirmative reply.

"Would you be willing to help me with this class? It's a little tougher than I expected..." he continues. He doesn't know how he's keeping up a conversation with his brain shut down. Did he just say something about being worried about the upcoming paper?

"Sure, glad to. I've got some late classes today. How 'bout if we meet at Fudd's about six o'clock? We could eat while we talk."

"Sounds great." He's never been in that cafe, but he knows where it is.

"Ok, meet you there at six." she says as she turns to go.

"Six." he repeats in confirmation. < I can't believe it! We're going on a date tonight - sort of.> He floats all the way to his next class.

"That monkey wrench you threw at Doc Simmons, - how'd you learn that?" he asks over dinner.

"I'm an army brat. We traveled all the time. I spent a lot of my life stuck out in the middle of nowhere with not much to do, so I studied a lot on my own. I'd get sent to private schools sometimes, or end up with tutors on the base." She snorts derisively. "As to how I came up with that little tidbit that threw the Doc for a loop ..." she shrugs. "Contemplating the nature of the universe helps fight off boredom."

This turned out to be the first of many nights at the popular hangout. As they got to know each other, Adam found out the hard way that Chandra would talk about anything. Nothing embarrassed her.

Most evenings found them at Fudd's discussing religion, politics, old rel ationships that soured, social conventions, the difficulties of having a mixed heritage, their respective viewpoints on sex, art, anything and everything they could think of. Adam was pleasantly surprised to discover Chandra doesn't gossip. He could safely tell her *anything* - she treated personal information like a sacred trust. She's also brutally honest. She would never say anything behind your back that she wouldn't say to your face - which was good. Also, she'd say anything to your face - which caused her trouble sometimes.

As the semester passes, they start hanging out at other places as well; working out at the campus gym with the other martial artists, going to movies, rollerblading.

"There's this sort've club in Houston called the Urban Animals." she says on one such outing. "They *joust* on rollerblades!" That led to another of her interesting stories.

One afternoon, while the two of them are working on their chemistry project, Adam finds himself trying to figure out what exactly their relationship is. Are they dating or just hanging out?

"Y'know, Sweet, I think this is really gonna work." she says distractedly, her whole attention focused on the model in front of her.

Adam's inner voice grins.

One night in bed - his roommate snoring lightly from across the room - Adam reflects on the latest 'Episode With Chandra.' He'd come home from a stunt job that evening, just in time to get a call to come bail her out of city jail.

She and her roommate Sherri had been at a busy art gallery exhibition. An unenlightened fellow student had made a nasty comment about Adam's parentage within Chandra's hearing. She'd rounded on him immediately and let him have it - loudly and publicly.

A brawl ensued.

"Chandra! What were you thinking?" Adam chastised, putting an ice pack on her black eye. "I saw that guy while I was paying your and Sherri's bail." The offender had been a real jock. "He's half a foot taller than you and at least twice your weight!"

"Nobody bad-mouths my friends." she'd replied grimly. That had been the end of the discussion.

Adam can't quite figure it out - the nature of their relationship - but he's afraid to ask her. he thinks, His mind drifts to 'what he's got.'

Chandra's usually pretty quiet. Not shy like himself, just - quiet. Most of the time. He remembers the infamous argument in Fudd's last month. A group from class had gotten together for a study meal. Guy Preston was being a real jerk to Felicia - attacking her personally, instead of debating the topic of the study-group's discussion. Chandra finally piped up.

"Hey! Why don't you lay off the personal remarks, Guy."

"Shut up, brat." Guy spat at her, "Nobody's talking to you."

"I hope you get gonorrhea and your dick falls off." she retorted.

Stunned silence hit the table - nobody could believe Quiet Little Chandra had just said that! Then the laughter erupted. It was so incongruous, even Guy laughed.

He'd been incredulous at some of her reminiscences. The one about the last boarding school she'd attended was the biggest.

She and two of her friends had been expelled from a Catholic boarding school for performing the song "Rebel Jesus" at the Christmas pageant.

"The sisters told everyone who was not in the play to pick something on our own to do for the Christmas pageant. I guess that song just hit too close to home for them."

Then she had to pull out her Chieftains "Bells of Dublin" CD and play the song for him so he'd understand what she was talking about.

"I can see how they might ..." Adam searched for careful words. "take that the wrong way."

"It's a *great* Christmas song!" she had insisted.

Since she tells him about herself - including regaling him with embarrassing events from her past - he tells her about life in Angel Grove and his old friends.

He sighs inwardly. < I just wish I could tell her about the Power Rangers. I hate holding out on her. It's like I'm not being as up front with her as she is with me. But then, it's not exactly comparable to her escapades.> he argues with himself.

he laments into the darkness.

Adam's timidity reasserts itself. He's suddenly afraid to hope for anything in their relationship. He feels the scorch marks on his heart from Tanya's rejection flare up again. Adam winces as he stares up at the ceiling, putting his hands behind his head. He replays the drama of his breakup with Tanya.

It was two days before he left Angel Grove. The pair was sitting on his livingroom couch, talking about their plans for the immediate future. He to college, she to L.A. to pursue her singing career.

"We'll be so far apart." Tanya says. "We'll never see each other. I'll be on the move so much." She tries not to gulp as she says as matter-of-factly as she can, "Maybe we should see other people."

The sound of his heart breaking fills his ears. "See other people?" he repeats in a small voice.

"We shouldn't have to be lonely and sit at home all the time. It'll be good for us to meet new people. It'll help us grow." She's thinking more of herself, really. She wants to ... *experience*.

"I guess so." Adam mumbles as he bows his head to stare at his hands in his lap.

"Who knows? Maybe it'll all work out for us in the end." She tilts his chin up. "Oh, Adam. You're such a sweet boy, [he flinches inwardly at that] and I really do love you. I just don't want either of us to have to be alone while we're apart."

Adam nods. She hugs him. "We'll always be friends." she says, hoping to console him.
-end flashback-

he sighs mentally. He had hung on to his feelings for Tanya for a long time. He'd never dated anyone after that, hoping vainly she'd show up one day, saying she'd made a mistake.

Unbidden, more images of Chandra swim before his mind's eye. She's fun, funny, surprising and very sweet. Her rare, shocking moments make her so intriguing. He sighs, rolling onto his side. A realization strikes him - he'll go *anywhere* with Chandra. Like that time she took him ...


"Sure. You'll like it, it's fun"

"But I don't know how to bowl."

"That's ok, I suck at it. But I have a good time." she'd said cheerfully.

He actually *did* enjoy it - not so much the bowling in particular, but Chandra made it fun.

That recollection segued into another ---
The day Chandra and her roommate had that video party after midterms. Adam arrived at their apartment early to help them set up. They were all in the kitchen getting the refreshments ready when Adam spied the Blockbuster bag on the counter; he decided to check it out. His perusal of the video selection left him perplexed.

"'Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD'?!" he read the titles aloud. "'The Toxic Avenger'? 'Tromaville War'? **'Surf Nazi's Must Die'?!?!** What the Hell are these?"

"It's a Troma Team movie marathon." said Sherri. "Haven't you ever seen any Troma movies?"


"They're hilarious! They give B-movies a bad name." Chandra snickers. "But their stunt crew is awesome!! And their make up f-x team is really, really good. You just have to know the plot's gonna be *awful*." Chandra and Sherri laugh.

Turns out they were right - those were the CHEEZIEST movies ever. But the stunts were great.

That evening was also when he finally pinned down what it was about Chandra's perfume he found so disarming. It smelled like the narcissus in his grandmother's flower garden - a smell that conjured warm memories of pleasant summer days. It made him feel very comfortable with her.

Adam drifts off to sleep with the phantom smell of perfume in his nostrils and echoes of her laughter ringing in his head.

One autumn afternoon:
Tanya pays a surprise visit to the campus. She's lonely in her fledgling singing career and is beginning to regret dumping Adam when they all went their separate ways after high school. She'd spoken to him on the phone once or twice since then, written a few letters. Just trying to stay on friendly terms with him.

She locates his dorm room, knocks. A girl answers. "Hi, I'm Tanya Sloan. I'm looking for Adam Park."

"Hi, I'm Rick's girlfriend Jennifer. C'mon in." the redhead says, stepping clear of the doorway. Tanya sighs inwardly, relieved.

Jennifer bangs on the bathroom door and shouts, "Rick! Where's Adam? There's a girl here looking for him."

"Working out at the gym with Chan, probably." comes the shouted reply.

"You know where the gym building is?" Jennifer asks Tanya, who shakes her head no. Jennifer gives her directions.

Tanya finds the building, parks and scampers up the steps. She stops someone inside and asks for Adam. "One of the small practice rooms." the guy tells her. "Um, number five, I think." He gestures towards the hallway leading farther into the gym.

She locates room five and quietly opens the door so as not to disrupt anyone's concentration. She peeks in and sees Adam and a lithe blond sparring. <'Chan' is a *girl*?!>

Adam deflects Chandra's throw attempt and tries to reverse it. He succeeds in knocking her off balance, but also loses his own in the process. They fall together. Adam lands squarely on top of her. He manages to get his hands out in front of him just in time to plant them to either side of her head, stopping his face from colliding with hers by two inches. "Ooof." they both say, as his hands slide forward, settling his weight onto his forearms.

They lay still for a moment - stunned, winded and panting - noses almost touching. Time stands still as their eyes lock and they become mesmerized. Then Adam lowers his head, closing the distance between their lips and kisses her. She draws her arms away from the mat and wraps them around his shoulders, returning his embrace. Their kiss deepens as Chandra's knees rise from the floor, bracketing Adam's hips. The passion between them rises in a near-palpable wave.

Tanya backs out of the doorway, silently closing the door behind her. Choking back her tears she leaves the building, heading for her car as fast as she can.

Adam suddenly realizes his body has unconsciously responded to her. Shocked at himself, he pulls away from his sparring partner, wide-eyed. "Oh my God. Chandra, I ... I didn't mean ..." he stutters as he sits back on his heels, climbing off of her. He can scarcely believe what he'd just done.

"Wow, you're a great kisser." she smiles breathlessly, as she pushes herself up into a reclining position by propping herself up with her arms, hands splayed on the mat behind her, knees still bent in the air. "Why do you sound sorry you did that?" her pale eyebrows furrow in confusion.

"You aren't mad?" he says in disbelief. "I didn't plan to do that." Pleading with his eyes for her to believe him, desperate that he hasn't mortally offended her.

"I didn't think you did. It just ... happened." She shrugs with the last word. "We were both surprised." He doesn't look too convinced. "Look, if you regret it, we'll just pretend it never happened, ok?" she offers as she sits up straight, pulling her legs into tailor-fashion.

"Do *you* want to forget it?" he asks, biting his lower lip anxiously.

"I don't think I can." she says in a breathless chuckle, her lips curving upwards slightly. "You're an awesome kisser." She smiles. "And no, I don't want to blow it off." she says as she rests her forearms on her thighs.

He smiles back shyly. "Does this mean we're in to a 'dating seriously' phase, now?" he asks, hoping it's not a mistake.

In answer, she leans forward and gently kisses him.

"I've lost him." Tanya thinks aloud, tears still threatening to erupt. "I thought I could come back to him any time I wanted." She pulls her car out of its parking slot feeling hurt and cheated.

So distracted by her thoughts is she that she runs a stop sign and almost has a wreck. She spies a cafe coming up on her left. she decides as she signals for the turn into the parking lot.

She perches on a stool at the counter, orders something simple from the menu, then morosely picks at it once it arrives. she recalls fondly. < I can't believe he's so - sexy. They were laying there, all sweaty and panting. He actually pinned that girl to the floor and kissed her! My shy, innocent Adam was laying on top of that...that...!> her mind splutters.

Resentment swells in Tanya's heart.

Tanya doesn't notice when Adam and Chandra walk in. They begin making their way towards an empty table, but before they can reach it, a rough voice rings out above the din.

"Chan!" the man yells from a crowded table. "C'mere a sec."

Tanya, Adam and Chandra all turn towards the shout. "Order me something, will you? I'll be right back."

"Sure." Adam replies.

Adam turns back and spies Tanya, who didn't turn away fast enough to hide her face. "Tanya!" he cries. "What are you doing here?" he asks as he approaches. "You look great. How are you?" He hugs her, smiling.

"I was in the area on business." she lies, smiling weakly. "I saw this place and decided to stop in for a quick bite." she concludes, affecting nonchalance.

"Why don't you join us?" he offers as Chandra walks up. "Chandra Bliss - Tanya Sloan." Adam introduces. They shake hands, how-do-you-do, yadda, yadda.

Tanya thinks sourly, a cardboard smile plastered on her face. "No, I've really got to go. I'm late for my appointment. Nice to meet you Chandra. 'Bye Adam." Tanya once again hurries for the door before she crumbles, never looking back.

Adam and Chandra sit at a vacant table nearby. "*That's* Tanya?" she asks.

"Mm, hm."

"The one who left you?"

Adam nods, looking down to his hands clasped before him on the table.

Chandra covers Adam's clenched hands with one of her own. "She's not as smart as she looks."

Adam peeks shyly through his bangs and gives her his lopsided smile. "Thanks, Chan." he exhales softly, stroking her hand with his thumb as the waitress walks up.

Ten days later:
There's a weekend reunion in Angel Grove; Tommy, Jason, Rocky, Adam and Tanya are having a get together to celebrate Tanya's birthday. Justin joins them over lunch. All of the ex-Rangers get a shiver of deja vu when Justin gets beep beep beepbeep beep beep'd. They all shake their heads as he leaves. "Now we get to see what *we* used to look like." chuckles Rocky.

Tanya looks around at her friends fondly; she's glad they came. These are the people she can relax with, be herself with. They make her feel comfortable. Except for Adam. His presence, which used to be comforting, is disturbing to her now. She *had* to invite him though; it would've been suspicious if she hadn't. And she didn't want to explain to anyone why. Besides, she also wanted the opportunity to feel Adam out, see if he's really serious about that girl. Vague ideas about getting him back dance around in her head, but no real plans.

"Guys, have you noticed? No monster-alert sirens have gone off." Adam says in a low voice, leaning in towards his friends.

"Yeah, weird." says Tommy. "There should've been a warning by now. I wonder what's up?"

A few minutes later, Justin comes back to the table. "Can you guys come to the Power Chamber?"

"What's up Justin?" queries Jason.

"I'll let Dimitria explain."

"The Duke of Evil, Hidross, has been sighted on an approach course to Earth." intones Dimitria. "He is known for attacking several locations at once using foot soldiers and war machines ranging in size from human to nearly Zord height. The largest of these machines are not nearly as powerful as a Zord and the troopers' strength is a fraction of a Ranger's, but they don't all attack in one place - they scatter across the globe and attack simultaneously."

TJ speaks up. "Since you guys've had so much experience, we thought you could help us brainstorm, maybe help come up with a solution."

"What happened to Divatox?" asks Tanya.

"It looks like she's working for Hidross now." answers Carlos.

"Too bad we used the Zeo crystals to power the Turbo." says Tommy. "There's enough of us here to handle Hidross' forces, if we could still morph. The SuperZeoZords are even still here in the holding bay."

No one pays attention as Adam mutters to himself, "...wave modulation ...through the amplifier..." He pulls on his lower lip thoughtfully. Suddenly he speaks a little louder. "Guys, I think I know a way we *can* use the Zeo power. If it does what I think, it'll reduce Turbo power by about a third and Zeo will only be up to half strength, but that should be enough power - and provide enough people - to take these creeps out."

Everybody looks hopeful and a little confused.

"C'mere, Justin, I'll need help with this." he continues, turning to a console. He sketches out for Justin the plans he had in mind and the modifications needed.

"It'll work." confirms Justin confidently. "Now we just have to build it. Let's get to Billy's lab."

Adam thinks idly as he trails after Justin,

* * *

The device they construct does indeed work just like they planned. 'The Modulator,' as it became quickly dubbed, was installed in a wall bracket in the main chamber, displaying individual readouts for the Zeo and Turbo power levels. All that was left to do was distribute the re-energized Zeo crystals.

Tommy received his customary red, Rocky again became blue, Adam remained green, Tanya reclaimed the yellow that Aisha had entrusted to her, and Jason ...

"Oh, no. There's no way I'm wearing pink!"

Tanya offers to trade with him, but Dimitria explains that Zeo Oval will be orange on a male, much to Jason's relief.

"It's Morphin' Time!"

In a blaze of blinding colors, the Zeo Rangers once again stand ready to defend the Earth.

"This was a great idea, Adam!" Tommy congratulates as he removes his helmet.

"Well, it was Chandra's idea really." Adam admits, tucking his helmet under his arm.

"You told somebody about us?" exclaims Rocky.

"No. It's an energy conversion theory she's been working on for physics, I just borrowed the idea and figured out how to make it work for us."

"Who's Chandra?" Jason questions, as the Zeo team powers down. Having checked the function, there's no need to remain morphed.

"A friend of mine. We're pretty close." states Adam.

Tanya glowers at the floor.

"Is she pretty?" asks Cassie, smiling.

"Don't play Cupid, Cassie." scolds TJ. "You remember what happened last time."

Carlos rolls his eyes. "Yeah, Cassie. Stay out of it."

Ashley puts a supportive arm around her best friend's shoulders. "Hey. C'mon guys, lay off."

"What happened last time?" Rocky asks eagerly.

Justin moves next to Adam at the foot of Dimitria's tube as the friendly by-play continues. "I wish she were here Justin." Adam sighs. "She's really smart, and level headed too. I just *know* she'd be able to work out a lot of the logistics and data analysis on Hidross."

"Hey! I can do all that stuff!" Justin exclaims indignantly.

"Justin, we're *all* going to be busy fighting Hidross' forces, including you." he says pointedly.

"Oh, yeah." says Justin sheepishly. He looks thoughtful for a moment. "None of us are gonna have time to analyze Hidross' strategy, or scan for weaknesses in his equipment, or - "

"Or do all the work involved in planning ahead; and I've got a feeling we're going to need to be *way* ahead of this creep if we're going to beat him." Adam says emphatically.

"Would your friend help if we asked her?" Dimitria inquires. Her question draws everyone's attention.

"I know she would." answers Adam firmly.

"Would what?" pipes up Ashley.

"She who?" asks Carlos.

"Are you *still* talking about Chandra?" mumbles Tanya in a sour tone, which goes unnoticed in the excitement.

"Do you trust her?" questions Tommy, once again their commander.

Adam looks levelly at his leader. "Yeah, I do."

"That's good enough for me. Guys?" There is a chorus of agreements. No one notices it is one voice short.

TJ turns to Adam, "You think you can find her now?"

"I know her habits pretty well, I'll find her."

"I'll go with you." volunteers Rocky. "I wanna see you explain *this*." He grins hugely and ducks the mock-swing Adam takes at him.

They teleport to a deserted ally on campus. "She's probably working on her lab project, let's try there first."

They find her there alone, absorbed in her latest assignment. Adam moves to where she can notice him without being startled, possibly disrupting the experiment.

"Adam!" she exclaims, spotting him. "I thought you were gone for the weekend." She comes around the large table.

"Yeah, I was. Something serious has come up. We need your help."

"Who's your friend?" Nodding her head in Rocky's direction.

"Rocky DeSantos, meet Chandra Bliss."

Chandra shakes his hand. "THE Rocky?" she says, smiling and lifting one eyebrow, looking back and forth between them.

"The one and only!" Rocky replies, grinning. "Hey, what's he been saying about me?"

"This isn't a social call guys. Let's save it for later. We're kinda pressed for time." Adam looks pointedly at Rocky, who surrenders with a shrug, both hands palm up in front of him.

Adam faces her squarely. "Chandra," he begins, "This is going to sound really weird, just hear me out, ok?" She nods agreeably. With a deep breath, he begins, starting with a confession of being a former Power Ranger, then moving on to an explanation of the current crisis and what they need from her.

Through the entire speech, Chandra remains silent and listens attentively.

Adam winds down, exhales a big breath and looks to Chandra hopefully/ques tioningly. She takes a few steps closer to him, studies his face, looks him directly in the eye and asks him in a serious voice,

"Are you high?"

"Ok, Plan B. Let's go Rocky." Adam hooks his arm through hers and the two young men activate the teleport in practiced unison.

The trio land in the Power Chamber and Adam releases Chandra's arm. She blinks a few times, turning her head to survey her surroundings, then faces Adam and in a poised, level voice says,

"Ok. I believe you."

"Man, nothing shakes your composure, does it?" chuckles Tommy, extending his hand and introducing himself.

Introductions are made all around. Adam and Justin run her through a brief familiarization with the Power Chamber's technological features and the details of the situation that Adam left out when he initially asked for her help.

Chandra adjusts to her new surroundings quickly and integrates with the team as well as Adam thought she would. He doesn't say it, but he is very proud of her.

That night, over a celebration dinner at Fudd's: "My theory about the wave modulation is correct! It worked!" Chandra says excitedly, bouncing in her seat. "The use of the Zeo crystals proves it!" Her excitement drops away. "But I can't show it to anybody." she sighs. "Oh well. Now that I know it works, I'll just have to find another way to prove it." she asserts stoutly.

Adam grins, "That's the spirit." he almost says. Then the significance of the censored thought hits him. His stunned realization barely flickers across his face as he gazes at the delicate-seeming pixie who has become such a central figure in his life. Chandra doesn't notice his momentary attention lapse, she was glancing away at the critical moment. Adam decides to keep his suspicion to himself.

* * *

Hidross attacks: Over the weeks, Earth sees many battles between the combined teams of Power Rangers and the armies of Hidross, the Dread Duke. The populace becomes familiar with the sight of Hidross' war machines and his foot soldiers. The soldiers were a creepy sight. Mottled grey-green-brown, bulbous heads, lamprey-like mouths, tentacles instead of arms - two in front, two in back and one to either side. They are upright and bipedal, vaguely humanoid. The symbols on their uniforms resemble the letters "T-R-O-R-G" -- if you use a little imagination. So they were quickly dubbed "Trorgs" by the media.

Teamwork and heart prevail in the end. The big, bad machines are destroyed. The monsters soundly trounced. The Earth saved once more. Hidross manages to evade capture and is sporadically detected lurking around the solar system in his battle cruiser, although he masks his presence well enough to avoid being pinpointed.

It is decided that the Zeo's will remain on standby, in case Hidross resurfaces to make trouble. Everybody picks up their interrupted lives.

The victory doesn't last long enough. A few days later, the Zeo and Turbo Rangers are summoned to the Power Chamber for an update on Hidross' activities.

"He has begun scanning the Earth for a person with latent Kaes potential." Dimitria informs them.

"HuhWhat?" says everyone.

"Kaes is the ability from within one's self to tap into the Morphin' Grid. I have this ability, for instance. So do Zordon, Ninjor, Lokka of Alcor, ...a few others. Kaes wielders are rare - even rarer still to find the training to use it properly. Latents have the potential for this within their genetic makeup. They are on the cusp of being evolved enough to tap the Morphin' Grid without needing mechanical assistance."

None of the Rangers can guess what Hidross could want with such a person, but they all agree it doesn't sound good. "Talk to Chandra about it when you see her later." Tommy tells Adam. "Maybe she'll have a bright idea for us."

As everyone prepares to depart, Dimitria says solemnly, "Remember, Rangers, this undoubtedly heralds something dire to come. Everyone consider the matter and we will share our thoughts tomorrow evening."

Adam teleports back to campus. He is taking a shortcut across the busy quad, when Trorgs abruptly teleport in, right in the midst of the crowded throughway. Everyone screams and scatters. Adam breaks into a run. He sees the Trorgs single out one of the students, quickly surround her and teleport her out before he can get close enough to interfere. It was Chandra. Adam realizes. He hurries back the way he came and quickly returns to the Power Chamber.

While Alpha 6 recalls everyone, Adam reports the few details he has of the kidnapping to Dimitria.

"Hidross' scans have stopped." says Alpha 6, after checking the monitors. "I guess he found what he was lookin' for."

The Rangers can't locate Chandra with any of their instrumentation, although they assume she is being held on Hidross' space fortress. "I know this is cold comfort, man," Tommy says as he claps Adam's shoulder, "but if he wanted her dead, he wouldn't have grabbed her." Adam can only nod, his arms wrapped tightly around his middle.

* * *

Two days later, the scans resume. But they are not looking for the same thing this time. None of the Rangers can determine for what, exactly, he's after now.

"It seems to be a medium-band-width bio-frequency scan with fairly narrow resonance parameters." Justin tells the assembled heroes.

"Thanks, Justin. That helps a lot." says Rocky sarcastically.

The next afternoon, on the steps of the Practical Sciences building, Adam gets Trorg-snatched as he is leaving his chemistry class, in exactly the same manner Chandra was. There were almost as many witnesses, too.

As soon as Adam materializes in the Station's receiving area, he is swarmed by Trorgs - they are ready for him. Adam tries to activate his Zeonizers, but the mass of tentacled bodies force him to the floor flat on his back, pinned beneath their combined weight. They grab his arms, strip off the Zeonizers and communicator and force a brownish liquid down his throat. It tasted like somebody tried to flavor cold medicine with pomegranate. Then they smash the Zeonizers and comm bracelet.

At the Power Chamber, Alpha 6 reports the lost tracking signal on Adam's Zeonizers. "They must've been destroyed." He checks the displays on the Modulator, seeking confirmation. "The Green Zeo gauge is reading zero. And there's an increase in power levels to all the others. Looks like the Green energy was released and it redistributed itself."

"There's our confirmation." sighs TJ.

Adam finds himself being 'escorted' down a metal corridor by Trorgs, Hidross walking alongside him. "What was that stuff they gave me?" Adam asks. "Where's Chandra? What have you done with her?"

"I'll take you to her. I'd be a terrible host if I didn't explain things, wouldn't I?" Hidross says with an affected lord-of-the-manor tone. "That 'stuff" you drank was Meidok, it stimulates the biological imperative. In very, very small doses it's an aphrodisiac. Large doses will over-ride a person's reason temporarily, reducing him to a basic animal." he tells Adam in a conversational tone. "We haven't given any to your little friend, but she *has* been heavily sedated. And she was already exhausted from the 'medical examinations.' She won't be able to put up much of a fight." Hidross grins, patting Adam on the shoulder companionably. "You get to help me break her."

Adam fights to get the significance of the Duke of Evil's words, they don't seem to match the friendly tone. "Why? She doesn't have any power, she's just a latent. You can't train her. It won't do any good."

Hidross chuckles. "Dear boy, we aren't going to *train* her, we're going to *breed* her. A child of hers should be capable of wielding the Power. Provided of course it's father had the capacity to channel Morphin' energy and has a high enough SRI - that's Sympathetic Resonance Index - to her."

They turn a corner. "Yours was in the 96th percentile, by the way." continues Hidross. "And all those years of being a Power Ranger has made you a well adjusted conduit for the Morphin" Grid's power." The party halts by an iron door. "Ah, here we are."

By this time the drug has almost completely overcome Adam. He can hardly focus on the meaning of his captor's words. He is nudged into the cell, barely conscious of his surroundings. Chandra is within, lying on a pallet. His attention is instantly riveted on her as the cell door closes behind him. His intellect has dimmed to the point that he is barely human.

Animal instinct overcomes him as the door lock clicks home. He rushes forward and kneels beside her. He hesitates a moment, then begins roughly running his hands along her body. The scent of her is so compelling, so overpowering. She weakly protests and tries to swat his hands away. He begins pulling at her clothes, disregarding her objections. His pupils are completely dilated and his nostrils are flaring like an animal scenting for prey. His universe narrowed to a single, driving purpose. Her protests are meaningless sounds to him and her weak tears go unheeded. As he climbs on top of her, pinning her down with his weight, lust, animal need, consume him entirely.

An indeterminable time later-- Adam comes to face down on a pallet, dimly aware of his nudity, feeling like a high-traffic doormat on a rainy day. He squeezes his eyes shut, puts his hands beneath his shoulders and pushes himself up onto all fours, then carefully rocks back into a kneeling position, bracing his arms against his thighs. When the spinning in his head abates, he opens his eyes again. On the pallet next to him, Chandra is sprawled on her back, unconscious. She's naked. And there's blood between her legs.

"Oh God, no." He whispers. "Nooooo." he moans as he doubles over and begins to cry.

After his tears ease up a little, he becomes aware of another animal need. While answering the call of nature, he glances over and discovers two wash cloths and what must be some kind of bath gel. He cleans himself up at the sink, then dampens the other cloth and carries it over to Chandra.

As he gently washes her tear-streaked face, she wakes up, weakly rolls onto her side and immediately curls into the fetal position, her entire body trembling uncontrollably. He pulls her against his chest, rocking her gently against him and begins stroking her hair in an effort to soothe her.

"Chandra. Chandra, I'm so sorry." as the two of them sway back and forth. "I didn't mean to hurt you. I couldn't control myself. He gave me something... Meidok he called it. I couldn't stop. I didn't know what I was doing." He chokes on his words as the grief rolls down his cheeks and falls into her hair.

"I was so doped up, my memory is blurry." begins Chandra "I...something was wrong with you. You looked so...gone." Her brow furrows with the effort of trying to sort out the jumble. "We were...wrestling?..for some reason. But I could hardly move 'cause of the drugs. Then it felt like I was being smothered - my whole body was being smothered. And then you...." She pulls away with a gasp, her hand flying to her mouth and her eyes widening in horrified shock as partial memory rushes back.

"I raped you." he whispers, the words barely choked out. "It's a good thing you were drugged." he says, sniffing, swiping at his tears with the back of his hand. "If you *had* fought me, I would have hurt you. I couldn't help it." he says in a miserable voice.

He holds her as she falls apart. "I know that nothing can ever fix it, that you'll never feel safe again. I hate myself for hurting you - for being the instrument they used to..." He pauses, sobbing once. "I know I can never make it up to you. But I promise, I'll be here for you from now on. To shelter and protect you as best I can. I'm responsible for you now."

After wringing themselves out, they feel in desperate need of a shower. "And some clean clothes would be nice." says Chandra, feebly trying to lighten the mood.

They retrieve the bath gel - soap and shampoo all in one they suppose - but there aren't any towels. Trial and error brings them the discovery of a button in the shower stall that causes warm air to blow dry whoever is in there.

As Hidross turns away from the peephole in the door, an idea lights his eyes. "I'll give 'em some music to listen to while they get cleaned up. Gotta be a good host."

The Violent Femms song "Prove My Love" begins playing in their cell. Hidross listens to the first few lines and then bounces away down the corridor, laughing hysterically. "Oh, I really crack myself up!" he cackles, wiping away a tear of mirth.

When they finish showering, they find food has somehow been transported in. Their hunger overcomes their wariness and they eat. Only afterwards do they notice what is missing. The clothes they came in and everything they had on them - right down to Chandra's earrings - were gone.

They lay down after the meal, both feeling emotionally drained. They des perately cling to each other. Physical comfort the only thing either has to offer. Their tears of despair mingle as they lay entwined in misery rather than passion.

Chandra awakens to the comfort of a warm body pressed against her back. A strong arm is encircling her ribs. Adam takes a deep breath, exhales against the back of her neck and wakes. His arm tightens convulsively, pressing her closer to him. Half a minute passes before he turns his head and kisses the back of her left shoulder. "Chandra." he whispers into her ear, "I love you."

"I love you too, Adam." she whispers back, turning her head so he can hear. He works his other arm underneath her. She turns in his embrace to face him, so that she can hug back. They press their naked bodies together, trying to make as much surface contact as possible. Still seeking what small comfort they can get.

A short while later, tranquilized, they are taken to the med lab. Minor physical traumas on Chandra are repaired and the question that most interests Hidross is answered.

"She's NOT!?" he exclaims.

"It doesn't always happen the first time, Master." explains the wiry, ch artreuse-skinned med tech.

"I know that!" snaps Hidross.

"But I have uncovered something interesting." he adds quickly, hoping to avert the Duke's anger. "They can be soul-linked due to their unusually high SRI." he theorizes.

Hidross grasps the implications instantly. "The only thing she lacks is an interface to the Morphin' Grid. If she could be connected to a compatible interface..." Hidross' eyes dance at the prospect. "Together they can accomplish what a low level Kaes-wielder is capable of. *Now* we use spells." he thinks aloud, gleefully. "Encourage the link to form *and* place controls on them. They'll be a powerful weapon together. Bespelled, I can turn them on their friends." He erupts into fiendish giggles. "And I get the baby to train as a future tool!" He claps his hands like a delighted child. "Oh, I am a genius!"

He gives orders to return them to their cell and to administer Meidok in their food continually. "It will keep them disoriented and vulnerable to my magic. As well as forward my original plan."

Adam and Chandra's captivity blurred for them. It became a haze of despair, exhaustion and fatigue - and desperate lust. The constant supply of Meidok in their food helped distort their senses in the timeless, unchanging twilight of their prison isolation. The many spells being burnt onto their souls were torture sessions beyond endurance. The constant alternation of exquisite pleasure and extreme pain were more than any sane mind could cope with.

The new plan works better than Hidross intended. During an examination of the spell integrity, it is discovered his victims have surpassed a mere linking of their life forces and achieved partial integration. "A warning, Dread Lord. They will get exponentially stronger every time they use their power." the groveling assistant cautions.

"Oh, pooh. You worry too much Eno'ek. My spells will hold. That's why we're layering them on so carefully." Hidross waves dismissively.

Three weeks later, on the bridge of the space fortress: "I believe we are ready to test my new weapon, Ramma." Hidross tells his chief henchman, a burgundy-skinned woman six feet tall, with slanted yellow eyes and four arms. He transmits a message to the Power Rangers.

"I challenge you to meet on the field of battle!" he intones melodramatically. "Just as your Knights of the Realm used to do."

"He's really nuts." proclaims Rocky.

"Sensors just picked up a teleport signal." reports Alpha 6. "There's a whole group of those wackos about half a mile from here, out in the desert."

"Let's get going." TJ and Tommy say simultaneously.

"It's Morphin" Time!"

"Shift Into Turbo!"

In nine brightly colored flashes, the assembled heroes go to join the battle.

They arrive on the desert field and quickly survey their opponents. Hidross and his lieutenant, Ramma, are there, along with Divatox, lounging like a courtesan. Arrayed about their commanders are two males of Ramma's species, four grotesque creatures resembling Trorgs - only uglier and much larger - with tan, rubbery skin and barbs along their tentacles, and a Barox-looking guy in full armored suit. Not to mention the small army of Trorgs.

"Look!" Ashley exclaims, pointing.

Standing at a little distance from the baddies are two helmetless figures in black body armor - katanas strapped across their backs - holding each other in an embrace more appropriate to a dance floor with slow music playing than a battlefield. Adam and Chandra. Their attention wholly consumed with each other.

"I see you've noticed my Unholy Trinity." Hidross addresses the Rangers from across the field. "A rather ambitious venture on my part. With unexpected benefits. I think you'll be impressed." He sounds very smug.

"Trinity? But there's only two of them." Ashley points out, confused.

"He's an alien." says TJ. "Maybe he's just trying to pick a phrase that'll intimidate us and he got it wrong."

"No time for that now." pronounces Tommy. To Hidross he shouts. "Are we just gonna stand here all day and talk?"

Rocky joins in. "Yeah, is that your plan? To bore us to death, you windbag!"

"Lay On!" Hidross bellows like a medieval drill sergeant, signaling them all to begin. He moves to the sidelines and leans against a large yucca tree to survey the proceedings, Divatox by his side.

Chaos ensues as the participants clash. The battle seems to go on forever.

"Rangers," Alpha 6 addresses them over their communicators, "I've picked up Adam and Chandra on the scanners. It looks like they're under some kind of spell."

"Y'think?" says Cassie sarcastically, as Chandra kicks her in the faceplate, sending her sprawling. Cassie rolls, scrambling out of the way of a beheading stroke.

Elsewhere on the field; "Adam! Snap out of it, man. You've gotta fight it!" says Tommy, facing off with his former comrade over crossed blades. Adam says nothing as he cuts downward and loops his katana around the Zeo Five Power Sword in a classic disarming maneuver. Tommy backpedals hastily to avoid losing his weapon. Trorgs immediately swarm him from all sides. Slashing about himself wildly, Tommy loses sight of his black-clad friend.

Meanwhile, Jason goes toe to toe with Ramma. The villainess swings a kus ari-gama from her two lower hands, while wielding a short sword and a baton -resembling a kubotan- in the upper two. Jason releases the Zeo One Fire Cloud at her. Ramma is blown back several feet, stumbles and loses her grip on the kusari-gama and the baton as she uses her two left hands against the ground to stop her fall. But before Jason can take advantage of his successful move, he is struck from the side by black lightning. As he slams into the ground hard enough to knock the wind out of him, he sees his attacker. Chandra. Adam is behind her, drawing his hand away from her shoulder as he turns away.

"They're kickin' our butts." says Rocky as he gives Jason a hand up.

"No kidding." replies Jason.

"It takes one of our own to have a chance of beating us." Tommy puts in, having also come over to fend off Trorgs while Jason catches his breath. The other Rangers gather around the trio to regroup.

"It's really creepy; neither of them have spoken the whole time. I don't mean just failing to respond when we talk to them, but *at all*. They never make a sound."

"You're right Jase, they haven't said anything to anyone this whole time." agrees Tommy.

Justin notices something else, too. They never use their magical attack *without* making physical contact. "Guys. Adam and Chandra touch whenever they blast with that black stuff. Maybe they have to touch for it to work." he tells the others. Before anyone can respond to Justin's observation, the group gets rushed.

"Scatter!" yells TJ.

A few minutes later, Jason gets an opening to test Justin's theory. He sees the duo fire a black cloud at Tommy, apparently to obscure Tommy's vision of the Barox-guy who is charging him. Jason frisbees the Orange Power Disk at Adam's arm, knocking his hand off Chandra's shoulder. The energy stream stops, cut off instantly.

"Keep 'em from touching!" shouts Tommy, seeing the result.

Noticing that the Rangers have discovered the weakness in his newest creation, Hidross decides to help out his own cause. He chants aloud a spell to magnify emotions. His voice carries across the hot desert air to the collective ears of the Rangers.

Here's a seed of my power To reap what I sow In your heart it shall flower And make your hate grow

Everyone witnesses the angry-red magical energy arrowing through the melee like a swarm of bees, seeking the most convenient target and locking on like a heat-seeker. It follows as the target tries to dodge, refusing to be shaken. In an instant, it completely engulfs Tanya, seeping into her. Meanwhile, the Trorgs and Hidross' so-called 'knights' redoubled their efforts on the rest of the team, preventing them from coming to Tanya's aid.

But instead of causing Tanya to attack her teammates - as Hidross had planned - she made straight for Chandra, who had become separated from Adam in the melee. Tanya faces off with her.

"Keep you two away from each other, huh? My pleasure." Tanya snarls.

Tanya fights with anger, getting increasingly wild. Chandra deflects her every move easily, maintaining control of the fight. Tanya gets more and more frustrated. She makes a rookie lunge that Chandra side steps with careless grace and whacks Tanya in the back of the helmet with the flat of her blade. It's an instructor's scolding move, an embarrassment. Tanya goes over the edge in a red haze of battle fever.

"I'll KILL you!! You stole him from me you SLUT!!!" she screams, her eyes narrowing to slits inside her helmet. "You hear me?! You're DEAD!!"

Tanya is so frenzied she fails to notice that Adam has worked his way over close to them. As Tanya lunges with her Zeo sword - intending to run her rival through - Adam and Chandra extend their hands toward each other and their fingertips brush together. Chandra makes a flinging-gesture at Tanya and a spray of black darts - thousands of them - flay at Tanya, surrounding her in a deadly swarm. The yellow Zeo power suit is pierced in a hundred places. Tanya screams and falls to the ground.

"Ha! First blood goes to my team!" Hidross cries in a singsong voice, like a little kid going 'nya-nya-nya-nya-nya-nya.' "You guys look all shook up. Just to show you how fair I am, I'll call a time out. We can play again later." Hidross' internal monologue says

The baddies disappear in an implosion of air. The Rangers run to gather up Tanya and teleport to the Power Chamber. It's almost too late to save her.

Rocky paces the floor near Tanya's med bed, flailing his arms. "I can't believe those two tried to kill her!"

"She tried to kill Chandra first." Ashley tells him. "I heard her yelling it."

"But Tanya was under a spell!"

"So are they." Cassie reminds him.

Tommy addresses the assembly. "I don't have it in my heart to blame *any* of them. I know what it's like being under a spell." His gaze turns inward momentarily. "You aren't in control of yourself." he practically whispers. Everyone falls silent, going very still. "Man! We need to get them back *soon*." Tommy continues, returning to the present. "The more awful stuff Hidross makes them do, the harder it'll be to *get* them back."

"I may have some good news about that." Alpha 6 reports. "I took readings during the battle. Each time 'ol Green and his lady-friend used their power, the spells on them cracked a little, getting weaker every time. It don't look like Hidross has noticed either, otherwise he would've pulled them out of the fight, pronto."

"How much more would it take to break down the spells completely?" Jason asks, feeling a ray of hope.

"There's no way to tell how long before they shake loose of his control. We just have to hope it's real soon." responds Alpha.

"I guess that means we're going to have to fight them to get them to use that black ... whatever-it-is." Carlos says with a sigh.

"They're not going to be happy once they're free again, and they realize what they've done." Jason thinks aloud.

"We'd better be there for them when that happens." says Tommy solemnly.

"If they don't kill us first." mutters TJ.

"Why hasn't Hidross noticed the problems with his spells?" Cassie asks, turning to their mentor.

Dimitria speaks. "The fractures in Hidross' spells become visible to him only when our lost friends are actively using their power. But when they do, the power itself blinds Hidross' magical senses, effectively masking the flaws."

* * *

Hidross resumes his onslaught of Earth. Over the next several weeks, the Rangers are run ragged all over the planet facing what remains of his fighters, mechs and his villainous crew - including Adam and Chandra. The diminished resources of his space cruiser force the Duke of Evil to resort to single battles. A tactic the Rangers are familiar with. Despite this advantage, they lose ground against the invaders - one battle at a time.

"We've got to do something!" demands TJ during a planning session. "If we don't stop this guy soon, the Earth will be devastated!"

"Maybe it's time we take the fight to him." says Tommy, looking to Dimitria for any sign of objection.

"What do you have in mind, Tommy?" she responds from her tube, falling back on her maddening habit of questioning everything.

"Well, he launches everything from his space fortress -" Tommy begins.

Rocky's eyes light with comprehension, he continues for his leader. "If we used the MegaZords in a surprise attack on it -"

"We'd stop him dead in his tracks!" Cassie concludes excitedly.

The proposed new strategy is a real morale booster. The team's flagging spirits evaporate as they enthusiastically tune up the Zords in preparation. Positive voices ring across the Zord holding bay as they hammer out ideas for rescuing Chandra and Adam.

* * *

"They will probably try an attack *here* Lord, soon. They're getting short on time. And patience, if I know Tommy." Adam answers the Dread Duke in a listless voice.

"Well, in that case, perhaps we should attack them in their stronghold first." Hidross rubs his hands together in anticipation.

"Death Country." murmurs Chandra from behind Adam, shaking her head slowly.

"I beg your pardon?" Hidross says as he leans around Adam to see her.

"Death Country." she repeats. "Sun Tsu. If you give your opponent no avenue of escape - back him into a corner - he will fight with inhuman vigor, because he perceives his situation as hopeless."

"So you're saying *don't* attack them in their vaunted Power Chamber? Well, you're the military expert. What *do* you suggest?"

"Let them come." she says quietly, chewing thoughtfully on her lower lip. Her mind already turning over the possibilities, formulating the tactics that will bring low the Earth's greatest defenders.

* * *

Space: "It's like they were ready for us!" cries Ashley, over the explosions that rock the TurboMegaZord.

"How could they?" TJ asks in disbelief as he fans away the sparks shooting into his faceplate from a short-circuited control panel.

"Chandra." states Rocky flatly, over the open comm channel. "Adam said she was an army brat. And she was always quoting from Sun Tsu's 'The Art of War' and Myamato Musashi's 'Book of Five Rings' when she was on our side."

"Power source is reaching critical mass!" Justin cries. "We're about to lose the whole MegaZord."

"Separate the TurboZords, fast!" Tanya calls out. "You may be able to save some of them."

"We can't!" Cassie's desperate reply rings out. "The docking mechanisms are all fused."

"We've got to evacuate. Get ready to catch us guys." Ashley says to the Zeo team. "We're coming your way in a hurry."

"Hope there's enough room in here for all of us." Rocky says, glancing around the SuperZeoMegaZord's cockpit.

Five streaks of color arc from the exploding TurboMegaZord, headed for the SuperZeoMegaZord in nearby space. They never make it.

"What happened? Where'd they go?" Tanya's voice rises with hysteria as she frantically re-checks the scanners.

"Holy shit! We've got another problem." shouts Tommy, bracing one arm against his console. "Look!"

Centered in the MegaZord's front view screen is the space cruiser's hanger. It is beginning to open its doors. "Readouts show enough fighters and assorted mechs in there to make mince meat out of us." Jason informs them, looking up from his instrumentation.

"And then the Earth." Tanya whispers in horror.

"Where'd he get all the extra artillery?" asks Rocky. "What's he been doing? Hoarding them or something?"

"Or buying them from someone else." guesses Jason.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures." says Tommy. The words give him a chill of deja vu as he hits the thrusters, sending the SuperZeoMegaZord on a collision course for the rapidly opening hanger doors.

"What are you doing?!" screeches Rocky.

"Everybody, teleport to the Power Chamber ... Now!" Tommy commands. Everyone scrabbles for their teleport buttons.

The SuperZeoMegaZord annihilates Hidross' remaining fleet, exploding on impact inside their hanger. The Rangers' primary goal is achieved. Although the fortress itself is still intact, there will be no fighters exiting through the fused slag of MegaZord where once an egress was.

But the Zeo's teleportation beams, like the Turbo's before them, are inte rcepted. They find themselves inside their enemies' fortress. They materialize in a packed-earth arena. The Turbo team is sitting, standing, lounging around. Waiting for them apparently. "What took you so long?" asks Ashley, dusting off her seat as she rises from the dirt floor.

"I told you we'd have a rematch!" Hidross' voice rings out from a balcony high above. The combined Ranger teams whirl as one at the sound. "I thought we'd use a gladiatorial theme this time. Waddaya think?" He gestures around the coliseum-like arena with his arm.

"Great! Now he's Julius Caesar." Tanya says disgustedly.

"I told you he was nuts." says Rocky.

The same crew that the Rangers faced in the desert enters the arena. They are fully prepared for battle and are accompanied by at least two dozen Trorgs. "Here we go again." TJ says from behind his helmet.

The villains fan out along the circular wall of the arena, moving to either side of the only door. The last figures through it are the black-clad duo the Rangers have learned to dread in the past month of conflict.

"Get ready, guys." cautions Tommy. The Rangers form a rough circle, everyone facing outward towards their foes, and take defensive stances. Each team member sizes up his or her situation and estimates the chances of coming out of this fight. Then they each offer up silent prayers to God, Luck, Benevolent Ancestors or Whoever Is Listening, because they all realize they are never going to pull this off without some kind of Divine Intervention. Even Justin, with youth's arrogant conviction of invincibility, knows they're in more trouble than they can handle. He gulps but stands his ground, not wanting his friends to see his fear.

The ensuing battle goes badly for the captive heroes. They are exhausted and outnumbered three-to-one. Their incredible luck finally fails them.

"Ha! IwinIwinIwinIwin!" Hidross hops around in a circle, clapping his hands. "Group them together. They can all go out as a team." he orders, flapping his hand at them.

Just as the defeated Rangers are herded to the center of the ring for the coup de' gras, the last strands of the spells holding Adam and Chandra snap. They reach for each other.

A whirlwind of blackness suddenly springs into being. It is unleashed and sent rampaging through the battlestation. Before anyone has a chance to react, the pair wrap themselves and their friends in a cocoon of raw Morphin' energy and disappear.

"Nonononononono!!!!!!" Hidross yells in a tantrum as sirens blare and his ship begins to pull apart.

"This way!" shouts Divatox. "My submarine was docked on the other side of the station." she explains, taking Hidross by the hand and dragging him along the collapsing, dust-choked corridors. "We'll get out of here on it."

"We can come back for those traitors and their do-gooder friends another time." Ramma's booming voice reaches them easily above the sounds of destruction as she joins them.

"And make that miserable little planet pay for defying me!" the Duke of Evil shouts indignantly as he ducks into the sub's hatch.

Back in the Power Chamber: The Rangers suddenly find themselves facing the viewscreen. The forbidding space station exploding silently in the void reflects off their shock-widened eyes.

Before they have a chance to recover from the incredible sight, they are caught off guard by an empathic wave of raw emotion. It washes over them like an elemental force. They stagger as if it were a physical blow. Looking behind them, they locate the source. This pit of emotional Hell is emanating from Adam and Chandra, who are standing in the back of the room.


The entire assemblage is rendered immobile, gripped by the black tide rising in the wake of the disintegrated spells. Chandra's hands fly to her mouth, smothering a gasp. Tears spring into her eyes.

"Oh God, what have we become?" moans Adam. Before anyone can break their shocked paralysis, the devastated couple grasp each other's hands and teleport out.

The Power Chamber erupts like a kicked anthill. Everyone begins talking at once.

"Madre de Dios." Rocky and Carlos both say. Carlos has to fight the urge to cross himself.

"They feel so *awful*!" exclaims Ashley, tears coming to her eyes.

"How can they stand it?" Cassie says in a horrified tone as she hugs herself.

"How could that...that *monster* do that to them?" TJ demands indignantly.

"What did that fiend do to them?" gasps Tanya.

"I knew it would be bad, but this...this is..." Jason trails off, speechless. He shakes his head and glances over at Tommy.

"Yep. That's what it feels like." Tommy says quietly, mostly to himself. He looks green-faced and painfully sad.

"We've got to find them!" Ashley proclaims in a desperate voice. "We can't leave them alone out there, feeling like that!"

"I can't track 'em." Alpha 6 announces as he continues to work the telemetry console. "There's not a trace of 'em anywhere."

Everyone turns hopefully to Dimitria. "I'm sorry Rangers. The wake of their passage is causing a distortion in the Morphin' Grid. It prevents me from following their trail as well."

"We've got to find them." Tommy reiterates, sounding shaken.

"We will, Bro." Jason reassures him. "We will."

The pair rematerialize in a cold, damp forest. "Where are we?" asks Adam, turning in a circle to survey their surroundings.

"Washington - Upstate." answers Chandra as she collapses on the ground in a heap. She's still crying and she looks exhausted. "It's the first place that sprang to mind when we 'ported."

"I can see why." Adam says, sitting on the ground next to her. "It looks just like I feel." They sit in silence for a while. Two shattered souls, with each other as their only solace.

"Both of us really need a shave." Chandra says eventually, as they lean against each other. Adam laughs.

"Seriously, we need to decide what to do." he says, sobering.

"We can't go home. How could we face them after what we've done - after what we've become?" she says hoarsely against his chest.

"Home is with each other now." he states gently.

After a few minutes of silent communion, Adam's conscience forces him to ask his beloved a difficult but necessary question. "Chan? Are you going to be able to stay with me?" he asks timidly, swallowing hard. "I mean, after I ..." he falters. "you know..." He can't bring himself to say the word again. "hurt you." he finishes lamely. He inhales deeply before continuing. "How can you ever forgive me for that? How can you stand being close to me?" His fear of losing her, of having to be without her, communicates painfully along their soul-link.

"I don't blame you for what happened, Adam. You couldn't help it. And I don't even remember it very well. Besides, how could I be afraid of you after ... all those other times? The Meidok they were feeding us pretty much got me over being scared." Her mouth twists at the irony. Then she bites her lips as she admits "I ... enjoyed it. Not that first time." she amends hastily. "That was *definitely* not enjoyable. But the times after that." She pauses, inhaling deeply. "That ... scumbag. He ..." she struggles for the right words. "He opened the door to our sexuality. There's no going back now. We just aren't the same people we used to be. And we never will be again."

Adam hugs her to him fiercely. "That's it, exactly." he says, relieved that she understands, and that she forgives him. "I hated that we were being forced. But I wanted you even before that maggot tore up our lives. And I don't want to give you up now." He kisses the top of her head. "I *would* if you couldn't stand the sight if me, in a heartbeat. But I'm glad you still want me too."

More mutually reassuring hugs are exchanged before Chandra speaks again. "Now that that's settled, what are we going to do?" Feelings of isolation thrum along the joined strands of their souls. "How are we going to survive, all alone in the world?"

"With Power Rangers after us." adds Adam with a shiver.

The Park's receive a phone call from Adam after dinner that same day. He sounds like he's in shock and on the verge of tears.


"Adam! Where are you?"

"Mom, you can't imagine what that sicko did to us - what he made us do."

"Adam. Come home, baby. We'll talk about it then."

"We can't come home, Mom. We can't face any of you after what we've done."

"Nobody blames you, Adam. We know you were under that monster's evil spell."

"No, Mom. We can't ask forgiveness from anyone until we can forgive ourselves. I just wanted to tell you I love you." =click=

Mrs. Park stares at the receiver and begins to cry.

Chandra's parents in Connecticut receive a similar phone call.

* * *

Early the next morning, Justin and Carlos check on the computer's 'info-watch' sub-routine that Justin had set up in the wake of Adam and Chandra's abrupt departure. It has turned up two 'hits' on them during the night.

The first incident had occurred about 5:30 p.m. in New York City. Chandra's trust fund had been cleaned out. The paperwork showed it was indeed Chandra Bliss who'd made the transaction. It also appeared that the bank officer who assisted her had been telepathically coerced into bypassing the legal red tape involved in such a large withdrawal - in cash no less!

Carlos whistled in awe when he saw the monetary value of the emptied Trust.

"Cut it out Carlos." said Justin as he pulled up the next 'hit'. Both of their mouths gaped when they saw what it was - a marriage license had been issued in a New York City night court.

"MARRIED?!?!" they shout simultaneously.

* * *

"Some wedding night, huh?" Adam snorts in ironic amusement, staring out at the rainy Kansas landscape in the wee hours. He is leaning his shoulder and forehead against the windowsill, one arm covering the other, folded across his chest. His profile is suddenly lightning-lit. The poetic pose strikes Chandra like the rolling thunder outside, making her breath catch in her throat. He's so beautiful it's almost heart breaking. He turns away from the view to face her.

Chandra scans the small hotel room from her perch in the center of the bed and then turns her eyes back to him, shrugging one shoulder in answer.

He uncrosses his arms as he walks over to her. He sits down on the side of the bed and turns his torso to face her, propping himself up with one arm. "I want this to be like it should be." he tells her softly. "Touching, looking, feeling, learning. I don't want it to be so ... desperate. Not like it was on the station." He slowly stretches across the bed, reaching for her, pulling her into his lap. They embrace gently, their lips meeting in compassion which quickly rises to passion. They begin pulling each other's clothes off, helping each other along through the inevitable hang-ups.

* *

They remain entwined as the passionate tidal wave ebbs. The rocking of their bodies slows. "I can never get close enough to you." she says almost desperately, pressing him tightly to her. Her impossible urge to climb inside of him communicates itself along their soul-bond, infusing a piece of her *self* deep within him. He eagerly surrenders as a portion of his *self* buries inside of her as well. They revel in the fusion. Ignoring completely the magnification of their power that it caused.

* * *

After a week's respite, Divatox reappears. She picks up right where she left off. Harassing the Rangers.

"Where's Hidross?" wonders Cassie out loud. "I thought those two were pretty tight."

"Guess she dumped him when he failed." says Carlos with a shrug.

"Typical." snorts Tommy. Noticing the looks he's drawing from his teammates, he adds hastily, "Of her, I mean. That's her style."

"The Turbo Rangers are capable of dealing with Divatox on their own, now that the RescueZords have been retrieved from Eltar. Zeo Rangers, I believe it would be best to place you on standby for the time being. You can now return to your lives and lend assistance at your convenience in the search for Adam and Chandra." Dimitria says.

"And you'll be handy if that creep Hidross ever shows his ugly mug again." Alpha 6 puts in.

"Thanks guys, you've been a big help." TJ says as he shakes Tommy's hand. "We couldn't have made it without you."

"It's been great working with you all." adds Carlos, also beginning to shake hands with the Zeo team. "We really learned a lot."

"Our pleasure." says Jason, smiling.

"Hey, anytime you need us, just call." Tommy puts in, speaking for his team.

The Zeo crystals are once again retired - used to fully power the Turbo t echnology. The Modulator is re-calibrated so the crystals can be used in dependently again if necessary, without reducing the Turbo Power's efficiency on a day-to-day basis.

The Rangers continue to search for their missing friends. The Zeo team members take turns dropping by the Power Chamber to help chase down the occasional leads Justin's 'info-watch' program turns up. The sporadic leads are all over the globe, mostly in North America, but not all of them. And the pair is always gone by the time anyone arrives to check it out.

Three months later: After another run-in with Divatox, the Turbo Rangers arrive back at base to find another rare computer hit. Justin reads it.

"Where is it this time, Justin?" asks Ashley.

"Portland, Oregon." Justin begins, reading aloud. "A midwife has been co ntracted to oversee the pregnancy of and delivery for 'Park, Chandra B.' The med data includes an estimated delivery due date, too." Justin does some quick math in his head. "That puts the date of conception during when they were Hidross' prisoners!"

"Well, I guess that explains the marriage license." says TJ.

"How come they didn't tell us?" Ashley asks.

Cassie answers. "Would you? Besides, we all felt it when they broke the spell. They were emotional wrecks. We don't know what all Hidross did to them when they were his prisoners, or what all he made them do."

Carlos adds. "Cassie's right. Adam never struck me as the kind of guy who'd ... you know. I mean, he was such a straight arrow."

"I'll contact Tanya." TJ volunteers after checking the Zeo roster. "She's up next to track down leads."

* * *

Bright and early the next morning Tanya teleports from the Power Chamber straight into the kitchen of the Portland apartment. She peeks into the livingroom curiously. It's furnished, but there aren't any of the little things people collect to personalize a place - make it a home.

Suddenly she hears a voice from the bedroom and the creak of a door being opened. Tanya panics, She ducks back in the kitchen and hides in the pantry. There is just enough room for her between the shelves and the closed louvered doors if she stands very straight.

She can see into the kitchen by peeking through the slats in the door. She sees Chandra enter, dressed only in a maroon silk robe. She's visibly pregnant. Chandra goes to the counter across the room from Tanya's hiding place and starts the coffeepot. Then she gets o.j. from the 'fridge and pours herself a glass. Tanya regrets her knee-jerk panic reaction.

Then Adam walks in, and embraces Chandra from behind. "Pretty soon this will be the only way you *can* hug me." she laughs. He disengages one of his hands, using it to pull her hair aside so he can kiss the back of her neck. He whispers something in her ear that causes her to giggle.

Tanya thinks uncharitably as she gazes at their profiles.

Adam eases around in front of his mate and starts backing her towards the table in the center of the room, his arms around her, kissing her face and throat. He pauses to kneel down on his knees, place his face close to her growing belly and talk to the baby.

Adam rises, kissing his way up from her slightly protruding navel, sliding his arms around her as he finally backs her into the table. His hands caress her lovingly. Tanya feels a wave of burning masculine desire for Chandra's pregnant body. He finds his mate's altered shape powerfully attractive - *his* woman carrying *his* child inspires lust and an amazing tenderness in him. The emotions are fierce, primal and very possessive.

Tanya can't help but watch as Chandra returns Adam's caresses, running her hands up his back from his waist, across his muscular shoulders, runs her fingers along his scalp and grabs handfuls of his dark hair.

The minutes seem like hours to Tanya, trapped in her hiding place, as Adam plays Chandra's body like Puccini on a Stradivarius.

The sight and sounds of the lovers sends a hot rush throughout Tanya's body. She is so mesmerized she almost forgets to breathe.

As the lovers begin to climax, Tanya pulls herself together. She chances a teleport just as Chandra's lustful cries of "Aaadammm" peak into a scream.

Tanya rematerializes in the park across the street. Luckily, no one sees her. she reminds herself as she fans her face with her hand.

She kills some time in Portland. She finds a coffee shop, grabs a bagel and some milk, sits at a table by the window and people-watches to take her mind off. Once she collects herself sufficiently, she walks back the way she came.

As Tanya is crossing the park on her way back to the apartment, she sees Chandra exit the building, taking a sharp right along the sidewalk. Chandra doesn't see her.

She walks up the three flights of stairs and knocks on the door. Adam (fully dressed this time) answers. He is so surprised to see her that he is speechless. "Please, Adam. Let me come inside for a minute." pleads Tanya.

He reluctantly steps aside, allowing her in. She sits in the chair he indicates with a negligent wave of his hand. He seats himself on the end of the couch farthest from her. Tanya makes her speech, asking for them to return. He waits in silence for her to finish, then speaks for the first time.

"You have no idea what he did to us, Tanya. The things he made us do." His eyes unfocus, looking inward at memories. He shudders. "What he took from us we can never get back. He destroyed who we were." Tanya can barely hear his next sentence. "We aren't the same people you knew."

"Nobody blames you for what happened. We know you couldn't help it. Hidross *made* you do all those things. We understand."

"No you don't! You have NO IDEA ....!!!" He cuts himself off abruptly, closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. Collecting himself with visible effort, he opens his eyes again. "We blame ourselves." he says in a desolate whisper.

A long silence follows. Finally, she breaks it, with the only thing she can think of.

"You really love her, don't you?" Tanya says softly. It is more of a statement than a question.

"Yes, I do." he answers simply, matching her somber tone. Suddenly, he raises his head, as if he's listening to something Tanya doesn't hear. "Chan's on her way back. You'd better go."

"Why?" asks Tanya querulously.

"Because seeing you may upset her - and that's not good for the baby."

"That's why you married her, isn't it? Because she's pregnant." Tanya accuses, barely keeping from spitting the words out.

"No. I married her because I love her. I married her *immediately* because she's pregnant." A brief, lopsided smile flashes across his features before the faraway look returns. "We were already in love when Hidross kidnapped us. Our experiences on his ship...united us, through mutual suffering. We've clung to each other ... to ease the pain." Tanya can see he is fighting back tears as his arms unconsciously wrap around his middle. His next words are said as much to himself as they are to Tanya. "The baby's the only good thing that's come out of this mess. It gives us hope." He looks directly at Tanya "And hope was one of the things that bastard stole from us."

Adam stands, gesturing towards the door. "Go home, Tanya." he says in a tired voice.

Tanya, stunned and a little afraid, can only nod. She rises from her seat. Adam follows her to the door and firmly closes it behind her.

Tanya teleports back to Angel Grove.

Chandra hurries home, having felt her husband's distress through the fused strands of their souls. She enters to find him pacing the livingroom floor.

"What...?" she begins.

"They've found us."

Chandra looks sad and anxious. They go to each other and embrace tightly. She buries her face against his chest. "We have to leave." he tells her sadly, stroking her hair.

After school, Ashley visits the Power Chamber and reviews Tanya's report on that morning's Portland contact. [Tanya's report makes no mention of the *first* time she entered the apartment.]

Ashley turns to Dimitria. "Tanya couldn't persuade them; I'll go and give it a try." With the press of a button, she's gone in a streak of yellow light.

When she reaches the apartment, she finds it vacant - completely cleaned out. She questions neighbors in the building - zip. The building manager tells her, "They just up and left. Moved out about mid-morning. Dunno where they went."

Ashley reports back to the Power Chamber empty-handed.

Justin has been pursuing cyber-trail leads during Ashley's recitation. The only traces he finds are computer records of a closed bank account, bills paid off, phone service canceled. No trace of them after 11:00 a.m.

"Dammit!! We lost 'em again!" TJ grits out, slamming his palms on the console.

"How'd they do it?" asks Carlos. "How'd they get out of there so fast?"

"They can teleport." answers Justin. "Remember when they broke the spell and brought us all back here?" he asks, looking around at his teammates.

Cassie paces, thinking aloud. "They can generate raw power as a weapon, they can influence people's minds, they have telepathy with each other," She looks up at her teammates. "and they can teleport too. Not just themselves, but a whole apartment full of stuff?" She shakes her head, raising her arms briefly, then letting them flop to her sides.

Carlos adds, "How come we can find traces - computer trails and stuff - of where they've *been*, but we get nada when they're actually *there*? Not counting this one time."

Dimitria answers. "They appear to be able to generate a kind of fugue around themselves. It affects not only people, but reality itself."

Justin adds, "I get it. Kind of a cloaking field, a 'We're Not Here' thing. Nobody notices it's them, just some generic couple. But when they leave, things start to pull back to normal."

"That is a good way of putting it, Justin. Not even I can penetrate their fugue." Dimitria admits. "Somehow, they slipped up this one time. Through carelessness, perhaps."

"They're getting stronger aren't they?" asks Ashley, turning to Dimitria. "Even after they broke the spell, they haven't stopped getting stronger. Maybe they're staying away from us for our own good - or at least they think they are." She plants herself stubbornly. "I don't care what Adam said, they're NOT bad people!"

"No, they're not." agrees TJ. "They've just been hurt really badly." Everyone nods silent agreement.

The Turbo Rangers (in their official capacity) dutifully report the sighting - and subsequent re-disappearance - to Adam and Chandra's families and the FBI Missing Persons agent assigned to the case.

The wounded pair continue to elude detection. Another six weeks goes by without even a cold trail to be found.

"I wonder what they're doing right now?" says Cassie, as she and Justin share afternoon duty in the Power Chamber. * * The Amsterdam night is cold and rainy. The darkened room is cozy, a cheery fire in the fireplace casts it's orange dancing glow over the couple sitting curled on the settee in front of it. They listen to the crackling logs, the wind and sleet against the windowpane, and the beating of each other's hearts. No words between them are spoken or needed. They both smile as they feel the baby kick.

Two months later: Jason materializes in a grey metal room. The Trorgs holding him drag him forward quickly, before he can recover his balance, and shove him into a cell. He stumbles, catches himself just as the door clangs shut behind him. He turns and walks over to the door. "Again?!" he says aloud, exasperated, as he tugs on the bars.

"They got you too, Jase?" Jason knows that voice. "Tommy?" he asks, leaning against the bars to get a look around.

"And Rocky." comes Tommy's reply from somewhere on Jason's left. Jason is in what looks like a city jail cell. Solid metal walls on three sides and all bars on the side facing the short hallway. His cell is closest to the medium-sized room to his right. The cells are arranged in a three-sided square. There are two cells on Jason's side, the one he is in and one next to it that he can't see into. Then one empty cell facing the open room. Tommy is in the cell next to that. There is one cell to Tommy's left, making a corner, then two more empty cells directly across from Jason, facing him and the short hallway that the cages flank.

"Hel-*lo*, studmuffin." says an all-too-familiar female voice.

"Divatox." Jason says disgustedly as she saunters into view. "What are you up to now?"

"Actually, it's my darling fiance‚ who's up to something. By the way, what do you think of this place? My brother gave it to me as an engagement present." She waves her arms airily around. "I like the roundness of it - but none of you saw it from the outside did you? Take my word for it, it's a lot more impressive than my submarine." She grins broadly.

"Your fiance‚? Who did you sucker into it this time?" taunts Rocky.

"Shut up! I'm not talking to you." she says.

"Answer the question, Divatox." demands Jason.

"Hidross, of course."

"Oh, great!" says Tommy, twisting his lips. "So what does he want with us? We aren't Rangers anymore, you know."

"But you used to be," says Hidross as he walks into the room. "And that's what counts."

Following half a minute behind Hidross is a cadre of Trorgs, herding four people in their midst. "What is the meaning of this?! Why have you brought us here?!" a male voice rises indignantly from the middle of the Trorgs.

"Mr. Park?!" exclaims Rocky, easily recognizing the voice of his best friend's father.

The Trorgs push Mr. Park and another man into the cell across from Rocky. Mrs. Park and a short blond woman are deposited in the cell across from Jason.

"You are those people who were attacking Earth!" says the petite platinum-haired woman, her Dutch accent making the words sound hard and choppy. "What did you do to my daughter! You answer me right now!"

"Calm down, Spitfire." says the pale, blond man from the next cell, uncon sciously tugging on his US army uniform. "Getting hysterical won't help."

"Don't you 'Spitfire' me! And don't tell me not to get hysterical." The woman breaks into a tirade in Dutch. It sounds like she's cussing, but since it is in a foreign language no one can tell for sure.

"Are you Chandra's parents?" asks Jason. He gets a sick, sinking feeling in his stomach as he voices his suspicion.

"Yes." Lieutenant Colonel Bliss answers. "You know Chandra?" Mrs. Bliss quieted down upon hearing her only child's name. Tommy and Jason trade a look, which Tommy passes on to Rocky as well.

"We're friends of hers - and Adam's." Tommy interjects. "The people in the cells with you are Adam's parents."

"This doesn't look too good." Lieutenant Colonel Bliss states. "I smell bait - and it's *us*."

"Correct!" chortles Hidross. "I see where that little minx gets her brains." He sounds like a game show host. "You four are the lure to get my escapees to return to me. Incentive to come out of hiding and onto my turf. "

Hidross turns to Divatox, "Check the long range viewer for me would you, my dear? The attack I ordered to keep the Turbo Rangers occupied should be starting about now."

Divatox walks around the corner from the cells to check the big view screen. Jason is the only one who can still see her. He tries to see the view screen too, but it is out of his line of sight.

"If they're the bait," asks Rocky, indicating the parents, "then what are we doing here?" He is ignored.

"There they go!" squeaks Divatox joyfully. Then she turns on her heel, leans against the view screen and asks, "What *are* the buff-boys doing here? You aren't going to try making another link-weapon are you? I helped set your plan to destroy the Earth in motion this morning. I know you don't need anything more to make it work."

"I made a mistake last time. I admit it." Hidross tells Divatox. "I shouldn't have used someone with such a high Sympathetic Resonance Index to her. But I can fix that. I'll connect her to a suitable conduit with a lower SRI - say, 70% or thereabouts. One of these young bucks will fit the bill." He waves his hand in the direction of the cages, indicating Tommy, Rocky and Jason. "She won't be as powerful then. But that was the reason I lost control of her before. Of course, this means I'll have to discard the old interface afterwards."

"How can you disconnect Chandra from Adam? They've integrated, haven't they?" Divatox points out.

"After I've connected the new interface to her, I'll just kill the old one. The newly established link should buffer the shock. And the backlash will help make the new pair vulnerable to my controlling spells."

"How can you say that!" Mrs. Bliss gasps, horrified. "That's a human being you're talking about! Not some computer upgrade chip or something!" She continues angrily, "He's the man who's been taking care of my daughter, not some old machine part!"

"Now, who should it be?" Hidross rubs his hands together, sauntering around between the cells. "Darling? Do you have a suggestion?"

Divatox purses her lips. "Hmm, tough choice." She covers her eyes with one hand and points with the other. "Eeney, meeney, pista, teeney." she chants, pointing at a different ex-Ranger with each word. "How ... about ... you." She takes her hand away from her eyes. "Ha! I should have known. Isn't it always you?" she says laughing, her finger still pointing at Tommy.

Hidross walks over to the computer terminal next to Jason's cell. He presses a button and says (apparently into a microphone) "Eno'ek! Bring me some Meidok will you? And some orderlies." He glances over his right shoulder at Tommy. "Better make it five of them."

"Now all you have to do is catch Adam and Chandra." Divatox say a little skeptically.

"They will come." Hidross replies with confidence. "And when they do, we're ready for them."

A spindly, chartreuse humanoid enters the room, trailing five hairy, seven-foot tall trolls behind him. They barely have enough time to clear the doorway when a ruckus in the hall starts up.

One of the tan mutant-Trorgs enters. Wrapped in his six tentacles is a s truggling figure, dwarfed in his grasp. "What about the other one?" Hidross demands of the mutant.

"Surprised them. Got separated. Being pursued. Lost sight of him." The big rubbery thing rumbles in a bass voice.

"Tell everyone to be on their toes. As long as we keep them physically s eparated, they're no threat. But I want him apprehended! You understand?" The big tan thing nods.

"Well, isn't this felicitous?" Hidross says, eyeing the ineffectually struggling form in the mutant's embrace. "Eno'ek, put your boys to work." he orders, pointing at Tommy without shifting his gaze away from the new captive.

The trolls lumber forward, open Tommy's cell and tackle him. The Meidok is poured down his throat. Eno'ek pinches his nose shut to ensure he swallows it all. Then they all retreat, leaving the cell door wide open behind them.

"Tommy!" call Jason and Rocky, trying to rouse their friend. Tommy lays flat on his back for a moment, groaning and spitting at the nasty taste in his mouth, before finally levering himself into a sitting position. He shakes his head as if trying to clear it.

"What did you give him!?" Jason demands angrily. "What will that stuff do?"

"Stimulate the biological imperative." Hidross answers, as the entire as semblage retreats from the room. "He'll be a human again in about twenty minutes, it wasn't too big a dose. Don't waste your breath trying to talk to him until then." the Dread Duke tells them from the doorway. "You stay here, honey." he says to Divatox. "Keep an eye on things." Divatox smiles evilly and saunters over to her former position, leaning up against the large view screen.

Tommy stumbles through the open cell door, holding his head. He staggers like a drunk and finally has to stop in the middle of the room, swaying slightly.

"Leave her." Hidross tells the mutant as he turns away. The mutant casts his burden into the room and closes the door behind him, locking it.

"I'm going to step out for a minute." Divatox announces to the room in general. "I'll be right back. Go ahead and start without me." Her voice echoes as she steps through a small side door set in the wall next to her, closing it behind her.

Chandra tugs on the main doorway's handle ineffectually for a moment before turning around. She crosses the room to the cells, ignoring Tommy entirely. She stops near the first one, Jason's.

"Chandra! What the Hell -" He cuts himself off abruptly, glancing over Chandra's shoulder. She turns to follow his gaze. Jason sucks in a breath at the wild look in his "Bro's" eyes. She begins walking towards Tommy.

"Is Chandra here?" questions Rocky. "I can't see anything from in here." he complains.

"Chandra, don't!" cries Jason, alarmed. He extends a hand towards her, but she's out of reach. "There's something wrong with him. He's been drugged." he warns. A chorus of questions go up from all the prisoners. Nobody but Jason can see what's happening.

Jason watches in horror as Tommy advances on Chandra, stalking her. Chandra takes a few steps to her right, trying to circle him and reach the doorway. Tommy's body coils as if he is preparing to pounce. The look of absolute focus on his face is chilling. He comes within four steps of her.

"She's *mine*." comes Adam's hard voice from behind him. An intense burst of projected emotion accompanies the emphatic statement. No jealousy is in it, just a primal possessiveness.

Tommy pauses. He can barely attach significance to the sounds, but the emotion he can grasp on an instinctual level. It translates to his benumbed brain as a rival male challenging him for mating rights. With difficulty he divides his meager attention between the female in front of him and the male behind him. He stops dead when he turns his head and sees the look on the rival's face, the toned, wiry body poised and ready. "If you touch her, I'll kill you." Adam says softly, menacingly.

A primitive understanding penetrates Tommy's debased mind. The female is breeding. This is her mate. I am the interloper. The animal Tommy has become recognizes the mistake he is making. He backs down. He hesitantly begins backing away from both of them, cautiously retreating. The drive within him to procreate is barely edged out by his survival instinct.

Tommy unknowingly backs towards the cages. As he gets within arms reach, Rocky and Jason both grab him through the bars, pinning him against them. "Hurry Adam, do something!" shouts Rocky, as Tommy flails and squirms in his grasp.

"I don't think we can hold him for very long." says Jason, grunting. His large biceps bulging with the effort of trying to restrain his struggling friend. Adam comes forward quickly, finally coming into sight of the other prisoners.

"Adam! Dios, you've changed so much!" gasps Rocky. The captives take in his appearance. All black clothing - right down to the motorcycle boots. The ponytail clasped at the nape of his neck reaches past his shoulder blades. And the mustache-goatee he is sporting gives him a rather sinister air. Rocky shudders involuntarily.

Adam draws his right fist back over his shoulder and swings a powerful haymaker punch directly at Tommy's chin. Tommy's head snaps back, clanging on the bars. Rocky and Jason lose their grip on him as he slides to the ground, out cold.

"Christ!" exclaims Jason, flabbergasted. "Did you have hit him so hard?"

"It's safer if he sleeps off the Meidok." Adam answers as he grabs Tommy under the armpits and drags him to an empty cell. "It'll keep him out of trouble."

< I wish I could've done that.> thinks Rocky enviously.

"Still..." Jason says.

"Jason." says Adam, turning to face him as he closes Tommy's cell door. "Tommy will hurt himself if he is only locked up. This isn't something you can just ...control by thinking about baseball. It doesn't matter how much discipline you've got, or how respectful of others you usually are. Meidok makes people into animals - desperate, *driven* animals."

Jason shuts up. He hears the unspoken 'trust me, I *know*' in Adam's voice. Jason shudders inwardly at the thought.

Adam goes to Chandra's side. They stand by the now-open doorway talking quietly for several minutes. Chandra nods and then exits the room. Adam turns and heads straight for the control panel located next to Jason's cell, black leather trench coat flapping behind him. Divatox re-enters, spies him and moves to intercept. "Sweet little Adam." She coos, smirking. "You ---"

"Go home to mama, bitch!" Adam snarls, snapping his elbow out on his way past her, slamming it into her face. The blow knocks Divatox out cold. He never even slows down. He reaches the control panel, begins twiddling dials and flipping switches as he watches the readouts on the little screen mounted at eye level above the control board.

The captives are all shouting at once again, demanding answers, demanding release. Adam doesn't seem to hear as he continues working the control panel. After several long, noisy minutes, Tommy groans and pulls himself up on the bars with his hands. He puts one hand on his forehead and leans against the cage door. "Ungh. What happened? I feel like road kill." He gingerly touches his jaw. "What happened to my face? Did somebody hit me?"

More time passes without any acknowledgement from Adam. They can all see him now, but it isn't helping any. Behind him, Divatox regains consciousness. She sits up painfully, stares at Adam's back for a few seconds, then quietly slinks towards the little door next to her, cradling her broken jaw.

"Adam!" Jason bellows, trying to be heard above the babble. "Divatox is leaving."

"I know." Adam replies in a normal tone. Jason has to practically read his lips to make out what he said. "Aren't you going stop her?"

Adam doesn't respond. And not once did he ever take his eyes off the small monitor screen, nor did his hands ever stop moving over the switches and dials. Eventually he pauses, straightens and looks over his left shoulder at the big wall screen behind him, the one Divatox had been standing by. "Oh, shit!"

"Adam!" exclaims Mrs. Park from her cell, her tone sharp with disapproval. A mother's reflexive reaction. Adam ignores the reprimand. "Chandra, get down here!" he yells to the air.

Chandra materializes next to him in a flash of black. "Yes?" Her cobweb-fine platinum hair is clipped into a crewcut, which she still manages to make look feminine. She moves with a slow, languid grace despite her ungainly belly. The captives all sense an aura of fragility about her, an indefinable sadness that made one's heart ache just to look at her. She obviously needs Adam; he is her strength, her protector. Odd, since she is the focus of their awesome power and he merely the conduit. Yet he is undoubtedly her anchor.

"I found out what their big plan for destroying the Earth is." Adam turns his back on the console. "What is your informed, professional analysis of that?" he asks, as he indicates the big view screen with a nod of his head.

She looks where he's indicated. Her eyes widen briefly before she turns back to him. "We're fucked." she says, rather too calmly. The captives are again shocked by the language, this time coming from the porcelain woman-child.

"Can you stop it?" Adam questions.

"No." she states flatly. She considers thoughtfully for a moment. "But I can re-direct it."

"Is that safe?" he asks. He indicates his concerns by briefly caressing her gravid belly. The prisoners are touched by the tenderness of the gesture.

"Yes." she responds with a touch of amusement in her expression, but her tone is level. They lock eyes for three heartbeats. "Better get *them* out of here though." She gestures with her head towards the prisoners. "This place is gonna be nothing but dust and vacuum when I do." They resume the frantic button pushing Adam had begun.

Seeing them next to each other - light and dark - how they move and work in perfect tandem, Tommy is struck by the mental imagery they conjure. The rightness of it makes him quake to the core of his being, especially in light of what he had almost done.

Chandra says something quietly to Adam and teleports from the room, leaving him to continue the job he had begun. The door of Tommy's cell suddenly pops open. Tommy leaves it and approaches the dark man he once called friend. "Adam, I ... I don't know what to say. What I almost did ..." he flounders. "I can hardly imagine how you would have felt if I had ..." his voice trails away with a shrug. "I remember that punch you threw at me, now." Tommy rubs his chin ruefully. "It would've been some brawl. I was feeling pretty wild. I'm glad it didn't come down to a fight, it would have been something else if you had been *really* pissed off."

"I know how hard it is to concentrate through the Meidok, but I meant what I said. If you had touched her, I would have killed you." Adam's voice was devoid of expression.

Tommy's bowels turned cold. Adam did mean it. Not figuratively, not 'I would have beaten the snot out of you.' If Tommy had so much as laid a hand on her, Adam would have killed him, dead. Without a second thought.

An image of what could have been flashes in Tommy's head. He sees himself - deranged by the Meidok - seizing tiny, helplessly pregnant Chandra by the upper arms in a vice grip. He begins forcing her to her knees, a look of horror and panic on her face as she struggles, tries to remain standing. Failing against his much superior strength. Then Adam coming up behind him unnoticed, wearing a deadly calm, almost blank look. Adam reaches up and viciously snaps Tommy's neck with a sharp, quick twist. Tommy drops to the floor, a lifeless piece of meat. Adam stands over him, gazing at his corpse remorselessly.

<> Tommy hears Adam's voice in his mind. Tommy looks at Adam, startled. Adam gazes back at him briefly, with the same cold, emotionless stare Tommy had envisioned on his face. It is one of the few times Tommy had ever truly been afraid. Adam says nothing out loud, then he turns his flat gaze back to the console.

"You don't need to touch anymore, do you?" Tommy asks him as another frightening realization hits. "To do all that stuff with the Morphin' energy. I saw Chandra 'port out of here on her own just a minute ago. And the door didn't open when you came in. You were just suddenly there."

"Hidross underestimated us again." Adam tells him. "He was warned - way back when - that the two of us were integrating. He failed to comprehend what that really meant. We touch all the time now, whether we are physically together or not. Bodies, distance, mean *nothing* when you become fused to another person's soul."

Tommy swallows hard. It is scarcely imaginable, what has happened to his old friend - what he has turned in to. "This is why you guys have stayed away. Because you were changing into..." words fail Tommy.

"Hidross did a lot of things to us Tommy. Changed a lot of things. We didn't know who we were anymore, only that we weren't the same. We had no idea what we would become. We've been trying all this time to find out who we are now, come to terms with these new people. To regain some kind of equilibrium within ourselves. We are still trying to."

"You could have come home. We would have helped you."

"You know -better than anyone alive- what it's like to wake up from a spell and discover that it wasn't all just a nightmare. Remember how that felt? You look back on all the horrible things you did - things you *never* would have done - and wonder who you are? You can't just brush it off. Spells don't change the fact that *you* did those things."

"I remember." Tommy says quietly. "I had to leave Angel Grove for a while. I went up to the cabin. I had to get away from everything, everybody, connected with who I used to be. So I could come to terms with who I ..." he smiles ruefully as he hears himself echoing Adam's words. "who I had turned into."

"Explain it to them for us, will you? I think you're the only one who can."

Alarms begin blaring. The incomprehensible alien babble over the ship's comm system sounds frantic. A tremor rocks the station.

"That's our cue. Tommy, get them out of here." All the cell doors pop open and the prisoners boil out. Before anyone has a chance to do anything more, Adam continues. "Out that door, left down the hall, left again when it dead ends, third door on the right. Get everybody onto the teleportation platform and hit the go button. You can't miss it, it's the big orange rectangle on the wall. Coordinates should already be set. Hurry!" He turns and vanishes through the doorway he had just indicated, turning to the right and running down the corridor.

"Let's go!" Jason says as he herds the bewildered parents towards the indicated exit. Tommy goes first, taking the 'point' position. They encounter no one all the way to their destination.

"Creepy." notes Rocky as they all climb onto the platform. "I wonder where all of them are?"

"I don't think I want to find out." says Jason. Mrs. Park and Mrs. Bliss both nod vigorously in agreement. "Here goes." Tommy says, letting out a breath as he slams his palm into the orange-lit button. They all vanish in a swirl of colors, reaching safety in the blink of an eye.


The winter passes into spring: It's a mild, sunny day in Angel Grove. Rocky is walking along a pathway in the park, indulging in a little fond nostalgia on his day off. Happy memories of other sunny days spent in the park with his friends flash through his head. He grins to himself as the images flow past.

He glances to his right as he draws even with a dark-haired man sitting on a bench. He does a double take. "Adam?!" he exclaims in disbelief, stopping dead in his tracks. He approaches rapidly, but slows down when he reaches his long-time friend, as if he's afraid Adam will startle away like a skittish animal.

"Hey, Rocky." smiles Adam in his familiar, quiet voice. His hair is shorter, cut to his shoulders and hanging loose, but the black goatee still frames his mouth.

"How are you doing?" Rocky asks, carefully taking a seat on the bench. The bundle Adam is holding looks suspiciously like a baby's blanket to him.

"Better, I guess. Not *well*, but better."

"What're you doin' here? Not that I object." Rocky adds quickly.

"Just enjoying the sunshine, waiting for Chandra to get back." He notices Rocky's interest in the blanket he's cradling to his chest. He tilts the baby towards Rocky, lifting the corner of the blue blanket away from Niko's face.

Rocky leans forward and scoots closer for a better look at the tiny, blac k-haired baby sleeping safely in his father's arms.

"This is Nicholas." Adam says, with obvious pride and love.

"He's beautiful." whispers Rocky, afraid of waking the infant.

"*I* think so." Adam smiles fatuously at his son for a moment before turning his eyes back. "We thought my parents might like to meet their new grandson."

"Are you guys moving back, then?"

"We're just here for an afternoon visit." Adam replies. "Maybe someday...." he trails off with a shrug in his voice.

Chandra walks up behind them and places her hand on Adam's shoulder, causing him to look up. "You ready?"

Adam nods. "Let's go." he says, standing up. He turns back briefly to his oldest friend. "It was good seeing you Rocky." he says, heartfelt.

Not trusting his voice, Rocky can only nod in response.

Adam and Chandra teleport out in a flash of black that somehow seems less sinister than it used to. Rocky suddenly springs into action, sprinting for the parking lot and his car phone.

The Park's house: Adam and Chandra walk up the concrete path to the door, Adam still carrying Niko. Chandra knocks. Mrs. Park answers. She is shocked when she sees who it is, and then hysterical with joy and relief. She ushers them inside, yelling for her husband.

Rocky gets hold of the others. They gather at the Power Chamber, where he excitedly tells them the news.

"This is a good sign." says Jason. "They're finally reaching out to us."

"A little." says Tanya skeptically.

"That's more than we've gotten from them in a year." he replies, refusing to be daunted. "Maybe if we show them how much we miss them - love them - it'll convince them to stay?"

"Let's see if we can't encourage them a little." grins Tommy.

"Yahoo!" shouts Rocky with glee. "*Every*body - to the Park residence!" He gestures with pointed index finger, flinging out his arm like a general ordering his troops to charge.

His excitement is infectious as they all head out.