Duty & Honor – Part 14

Making It Count

By Jeannine Trevizo





As they watched the center of the city melt and char, the emotions assailing them began to bubble up and erupt, just as their fears had in the heat of Olin. It wasn’t long until the first of them, the most outspoken of them announced his opinion.


“We’ve got to do something now!” Conner cried out, realizing just how catastrophic this could be; the lives being lost…


“Going out there without a plan is crazy,” responded Ethan calmly, even as his own apprehension threatened to overtake him as well.


“Well we need to come up with one now,” barked Kira, looking to Conner and then Dr. O to point out without speaking that they were the leaders and needed to figure out a plan.


“Hey!” yelled Kim, forcing everyone’s attention to her, “Calm down. We’re all upset and we’ve been through a really draining experience. Let’s step back and get some perspective.”


“Tom? Maybe Zordon…” offered Hayley somewhat quietly, fearing her voice breaking in might disrupt whatever calm Kim’s intercession has brokered.


As if summoned, the crystal that Billy had laid carefully on the console for safekeeping began to glow. Hurriedly he picked it up and moved it to the floor where he and Hayley had found it hours earlier. As soon as Billy had moved back, the glow grew larger, encompassing the area and Zordon’s image appeared before them. To Kim and Tommy, the look he focused on the ranger team was one they recognized well… one they saw whenever he was proud of them for a job well done. It made their hearts swell to see it after so long.




“It wasn’t exactly easy, but we did get through it,” complained Conner, thinking on the images of his fear, and the fight with Trent beforehand.




Kim and Tommy stared at Zordon before looking to one another. That word…


“You know, we still don’t know how to use this power, after all we did to get it, it would suck to not have it work when we need it to,” remarked Trent, bringing up the nagging question that all of the rangers had been considering since the priests had sent them off without a training manual.


“THE ACTIVATION OF YOUR PHASING POWER WILL BE AT YOUR WHIM. YOU MAY SIMPLY THINK TO BE SOLID, OR TO PASS INTO THE RELM OF MOLECULES,” Zordon explained at length, making all the rangers breathe a little easier.


“Oh, well that’s helpful to know,” said Kira simply.


“Zordon, Xondar’s attacked again, and this time he doesn’t show signs of stopping. This is it. Can you give us anything to work with here?” Tommy questioned, his anxiety over the situation obvious in his voice.




“What kind of knowledge?” asked Kim quickly, wondering what fact could be more useful than their powers.


There was a pause as the image of Zordon almost… flickered before them. His face turned grave, and the pain in his expression was more than enough to tip off those who knew him best that there was a dark secret, something that he was loathe to reveal. Except that he needed to, for whatever reason, to stop his brother’s rampage across Reefside.




“Okay… so, what? He’s pissed off he wasn’t there to save you or something?” remarked Ethan flippantly.


The silence that had been there before with their former mentor intensified. And Tommy let the comment by Ethan sink in. His own experiences at being too late, and his fear of failure that he’d had to accept in the test on Olin brought him closer to the answer they hadn’t expected…


“Yes,” breathed Tommy quietly, looking up to Zordon as he spoke up. “That’s it exactly. He’s taking revenge on us, but it’s to assuage his own guilt.”


“What happened that made him feel guilty?” asked Trent, confused.


There was another long pause, and this time, there was no more delay. They were going to finally get the answer.




“It was the catalyst to alleviating his guilt for not doing the right thing. He’d atone for his decision to turn his back on the duty of being called to protect the galaxy, the universe by punishing your killers,” remarked Billy, suddenly putting the pieces together as he looked to his friend, one who knew more than his fair share about guilt.


Zordon’s light form nodded, and the rangers looked from him to one another. This was a turn of events that most of them didn’t know how to deal with. That the bad guy should have been good… and now they had to… what? They actually weren’t sure.


“So, do we go out there and just talk?” Kira questioned, looking to Kim and Dr. O for some guidance.


“No, there’s fighting to do… but fighting Xondar, when we finally do get to him, that won’t be the end of it,” Tommy said simply, looking from his team, to his wife, and then back to the being that had been like a father to the original rangers.


“I SEE YOU UNDERSTAND THEN,” spoke Zordon, his gaze falling on his two prized rangers. At their nod, he smiled. “THERE’S NOTHING MORE I CAN SAY TO YOU THEN. GOOD LUCK RANGERS, AND MAY THE POWER PROTECT YOU.”


With that, the light faded, and Tommy turned to Billy and Hayley. The fact that they were there made him worry a little less. If anything should happen… they had someone that could call for backup. But in his heart and soul, he knew that they were walking away from this confrontation with Xondar in one piece. Because they had the upper hand finally. In power as well as understanding. It was just figuring out how to use it…


“We need to go. Now,” said Tommy quickly, looking to the team expectantly, and they started to move instantly, knowing there wasn’t any time left.


“Is there anything we can do?” asked Hayley, moving towards the team as they started towards the center of the room, making space to use their new teleportation powers.


“You guys sit tight. If we fail…”


“You won’t. You never have before,” reminded Billy as he laid a hand on Tommy’s shoulder, eliciting a grin from his friend.


“We’ll be back,” replied the black ranger, catching Billy’s hand in his, Kim following suit before they moved to join the other members of the team.


Once they were lined up, Billy and Hayley moved back and watched as the transformation took place; armor and helmets taking the place of street clothes and hairdos. As the six rangers stood before them, Tommy raised his hand and gave the signal. Then they were transporting out of the command center basement and into the field of battle.




In the center of the ruined four blocks of the downtown, the rangers materialized; their newly acquired teleportation powers allowing them to stand before the invading army suddenly like a colorful barrier. Symax and dozens of wraith soldiers were ripping up anything in their slow advance through the streets. Turning to glance behind them, the rangers noted the armored vehicles of the National Guard, and saw the relieved faces of the men and women doing their best to keep the advancing horde at bay. They weren’t trained or equipped for this, and the ranger’s arrival was greeted by cheers.


“Rangers! You have finally dared to show yourselves. You are cowards, forced out of hiding by my master’s plan,” growled Symax in his usual dark tone.


“Symax, you don’t have to do this… you can stand down,” Tommy stated through this helmet, his hand waving forcefully in a slashing move, showing his desire to try and make it clear to the alien general that this was the last stand.


Evil, cold laughter drifted towards them, even over the sound of fire engines and sirens. In his heart, Tommy knew that this was going to be tough, but now…


Before he could let that thought grow in his mind, he felt Kim’s hand take his tightly, however briefly before she brought herself into battle stance. Just that simple reminder that she was there, by his side… she had been the strongest of them all, and she was reminding him that together, her and him, along with the team, they could defeat Symax, the wraiths and Xondar.


They simply had to have faith in themselves and use the powers they had been given.


“Very well, we’ll just have to go through you.”


There was a moment when those watching the power rangers standing stock-still across from the unmoving horde of aliens would have thought that everything had been frozen in time. But it was simply an old fashioned gun battle. Someone had to draw first.


And rangers didn’t start fights… they ended them though.


The calm was shattered when Symax raised his sword high and then swung it towards the six rangers before him, the tip pointing towards them with every ounce of menace within the being before them.




The fight had begun.


Tommy called for his brachiostaff and rushed forward as the dozens of wraiths moved forward at Symax’s command. He had to get through them and bring Symax down, or there was no end to this. He felt Kim with her bow beside him, the energy of it humming at his shoulder.


“Fire!” yelled Kim, pulling back on the bow and letting forth her first energy arrow, accompanied on the opposite side by Trent’s energy arrows from his dagger.


The flying missiles hit their targets, causing multiple explosions as the energies met and collided. As Kim and Trent cleared the path, the team members with more direct powers and weapons surged forward, Kira’s terra grips, Conner’s tyranostaff and Ethan’s tricera shield cutting straight into the wraiths.


Metal staffs parried forcefully with the ranger’s weapons, sending up sparks as the battle began in earnest. Kicks, punches and jumps became the maneuvers as the opponents fought for the upper hand. Kira fought beside Conner, the two working as a team, similar to how Kim and Dr. O usually did on the battlefield. Her terra grips cutting into the open spaces of the wraith’s guards with blinding speed as Conner’s staff smashed repeatedly through the defenses of the soldiers attacking them.


Meanwhile, Tommy had pushed his way through, using his invisibility to avoid the most compact combat to face Symax. As he materialized before the gold armored behemoth, the man seemed to be smiling at him.


“Let us finish this black ranger.”


Instantly the gold sword swung down on him, and Tommy quickly backpedaled to block it. As the weapons scraped against each other, sending up fiery sparks, the black ranger pushed back, forcing his opponent to take a step backwards. Rolling his shoulders, he spun on one foot and wrenched his staff from the clash, swinging it up and bringing it quickly down on Symax’s shoulder, staggering him.


“If you want,” Tommy said darkly before they pulled back and begin their deadly dance for real.


As the two fights went on, they all knew there was going to be a point in time when their new powers would have to take center stage. When Ethan finally had his shield go through the first of the wraiths, just before Kim and Trent’s arrows stopped hitting them, the team knew they had to change their battlefield.


“They’re ghosting on us. Time to join them!” called out Conner loudly.


Each of them took a deep breath and focused on imagining themselves blurring through the dimensional lines, becoming less of this plane and more of the other.


Suddenly with an almost audible pop, the five of them found themselves in two places at once. They knew they were still on Earth, but before them the misty surrounding, like the test on Olin brought them face to face with the shocked and solid forms of the wraith soldiers.


“Let’s finish this,” cried Trent, firing off his dagger and they all were relieved and heartened to see the wraiths hit by the energy arrows go down and stay down.


“Yes!” yelled Ethan as they all advanced on the wraiths with the renewed intent to stopping them permanently.


Tommy fought to not let his head snap towards where the team was and wasn’t. He knew the instant that Kim had passed into the other molecular realm. While he was certain he still felt her, as he’d been able to since the day before their wedding, he wondered how it felt to her on the other side of the parallel dimension that they’d followed the wraiths into.


As a wave of emotion poured into him, Tommy smiled behind his helmet, recognizing Kim’s soul calling back to him. With renewed determination, he pushed into Symax again, assured that Kim was there and was with him in spirit.


He knew the rest of the team was taking on the wraiths, and as long as Kim and Conner were there, they would be fine.


He had considerable faith in the red ranger’s abilities. As to the pink ranger’s… that went without saying.


Symax and the black ranger’s weapons clashed over and over again, Tommy’s powers continuing to feed his advance as he battered his staff again and again against Symax’s armor. It had dented in several places under the onslaught before a crack was heard. A long, dark fissure appeared in the breastplate of the overwhelmed warrior before him, and Tommy knew he had to press the advantage.


“They’re down, and in their own plane too!” commented Conner eagerly as the team returned suddenly from the other plane.


Behind him, Tommy heard Conner’s triumphant cry as his team as they merged back fully into their own dimension. He chanced a glance to see them all… they were alone, the wraiths gone, left behind in their own plane of existence and down for the count.


For now.


Which meant it was his turn to get them to the next step… to Xondar’s doorstep.


Calling up all of his reserves, Tommy launched into a powerful swing, bringing his staff down with a sickening thud onto Symax’s helmet, shattering it with the force of the blow. It staggered the gold armored warrior, and he stumbled to his knees.


As the team quickly surveyed the battleground, they found themselves alone, with only two others there. They looked to see Symax leaning heavily on his sword, Tommy standing over him, waiting to see if he was getting up. When he finally seemed to be staying down, the black ranger quickly turned and focused on the team. The plan he’d been formulating in his head was taking shape. It now all depended on one person. Quickly he ran to his wife, the woman he would always consider the pink ranger and took her hand. The contact was all he needed, and she instantly looked to him, waiting for him to announce their next move.


Glancing up, he noted that she followed his gaze to the ship hovering above them. They all knew that Xondar was up there. And they had to get to him. The rest of the fight was there.


And she could get them there.


“Now Kim,” he said simply, and she nodded in understanding.


With that, Kim took Kira’s hand with her left, her husband’s tightly held in her right.


“Take someone’s hand and hold on!” Kim yelled as everyone quickly did as they were told. “Shift your molecules to make this easier.”


Kira grasped Conner’s hands in hers,  Trent took hold of Conner’s other hand, and Ethan caught Tommy’s other hand before Kim took a deep breath and stepped up and skyward. Using the dual abilities of her levitation and the dimensional shifting power that they all were using, they rose steadily in the air where nothing could follow.


Kim walked them straight towards the ship, step by step through the sky as the stunned National Guard and police watched. Finally after steady, slow progress, they reached the hull of the ship, and their bodies slipped through the walls and into the metal hull.


Once they’d passed through, Kim let go of Tommy and Kira, dropping to the deck plates, exhausted by the taxing of her powers. Everyone shifted back fully to their plane of existence and huddled around Kim’s form in concern.


“Beautiful?” Tommy asked fearfully, dropping to his knees by her side, catching her shoulders in his grasp as he pulled her up to his chest.


“I’m okay… just beat. That’s not an easy feat,” she breathed heavily, her head, encased in her helmet leaning against his shoulder.


“And you still made it look simple,” he replied softly, his voice full of his awe and love at this amazing woman who loved him.


Smiling at him, even though she knew he couldn’t see it behind her helmet, she let him help her up. Once she was on her feet, the others quickly threw their arms around her, Kira first and followed quickly by the guys. She felt her heart swell at the outpouring of caring for her well being by the team, but they didn’t have time for it now.


“Thanks guys, but this needs to wait. Let’s go find Xondar and finish this,” she announced as she started forward in search of Xondar.




After searching a few of the compartments on the level they’d started off in, the rangers had found some resistance. But when the team realized that most of the people still on board of the ship were techies and crew, not made for fighting, it only took some questioning to get what they needed – a location. As it was, it had been a chore to get a person to ask, or interrogate, as Conner had put it. More than a few of them had scrambled to get away from the advancing rangers, as if aware that the moment of reckoning was upon them.


Finally they made their way to the room they were looking for. Without waiting anymore, Tommy searched the walls for the controls and quickly got the heavy metal to open. As the inner space was revealed, they saw the main screens of the ship showing the carnage below. And in the middle of the room, on a dais above everything, a chair sat, with one lone being in it.


Slowly they walked inside and found themselves face to face with the being that was Zordon’s brother. Standing inside Xondar’s control room, the rangers defiantly waited for their foe to come down and deal with them as his eyes came to land on them in shock.


“Rangers! How did you get in here? My soldiers…” he stammered angrily. It was only then that he looked up to see Symax helpless on the ground and his wraith solders gone.


“Are all defeated in their own dimension, and your general lays defeated. We’re here now, because this is about you and us,” stated Tommy, his voice edged with determination.


“Bah! You are nothing… beneath me. I sent my soldiers to deal with you because you aren’t worthy of my notice. You don’t deserve to die at my hands.”


“Why? I thought you hated us… hated rangers,” asked Kira suddenly, her confusion at the being who had viciously attacked them again and again now not wanting to engage them himself… it made no sense to her.


The scowl on Xondar’s face belied his outward anger, his words bringing them closer to the truth. Kim and Tommy saw past it and heard what he wasn’t saying, what he couldn’t feel lest his plans crumble beneath him. His hatred towards them was warring with his need to have rangers, his brother’s Earth rangers be worthy. Because that was what he’d expected of his brother…


Stubbornly Xondar seemed to push the thoughts aside and rose from his lofty perch on the dais before stepping down towards them and the main console, his menacing frame standing just feet from Tommy.


“You don’t deserve the mantle you have! A ranger’s life is about duty, honor and sacrifice. And you have sacrificed nothing!” Xondar insisted lividly, his fingers pointing at the rangers in his madness.


“Duty? Honor? Sacrifice?” Tommy spat, incensed at the arrogance of this man…


They had all been told by Zordon before going onto the battlefield today what had happened between him and his brother; how Xondar had refused to answer the call to fight for good while Zordon had gone. And that decision, once his brother fell for what he thought was the final time seemed to have been turned into the rage that he outwardly projected at all rangers, rather than internally at his own reluctance to fight at his brother’s side.


It was in that moment of knowing that Tommy and Kim realized just what their knowledge was for. Now it was just a matter of using it…


“You know nothing of those things,” insinuated Xondar with malice in his voice.


“Really?” said Kim suddenly, reaching for the latches at her helmet and popping them. She removed the helmet as the others gasped at her, Tommy calling to her softly even as she moved forward, her helmet slipping from her grasp to smash into to the floor.


Xondar turned from her, and she narrowed her eyes, anger filling her. How dare he…


“Look at me,” she said simply yet powerfully, her voice edged with pain and his eyes turned towards her without realizing it. “I served Zordon faithfully for years. And then I made a choice that cost me years of being with the man I loved because I followed a dream. One your brother urged me to leave my ranger post to pursue. Those are years, mistakes, pain I can never get back. And I lost my only child since your arrival… a child I desperately wanted. But who could not be. So don’t tell me about duty or honor or sacrifice, because *you* know nothing of them!”


The look of astonishment on Xondar’s face surprised everyone. Kim’s simple declaration on her losses, her sacrifices had made Xondar go white as a sheet. He began to back away from Kim, which made Tommy wonder if perhaps this was the weakness they needed to exploit. They knew what Xondar’s guilt was, now it seemed that making him face the fact that rangers were human and had lost as much as he felt he had was getting to him. That Kim’s announcement of her pain and loss was beginning to break him.


They just needed to show him more of their pain, more of their guilt, more of their… sacrifices.


“It was my child as well,” Tommy announced quickly, following Kim’s lead and taking his helmet off and letting it crash to the metal floor as he came to Kim’s side. “I have sacrificed so much to be a ranger. I stayed true to my calling as the leader of the rangers while I lost the only woman I loved to another. I let my responsibility to being a ranger preclude me getting her back, and in doing so I sacrificed a part of myself to stay the course. And now, we have sacrificed our future because of our duty, our commitment to the code of being a ranger.”


Again Xondar cowered for a moment before forcing himself to stand to his full height, pointing at them with a demanding, angry finger.


“You lie! And perhaps you earlier rangers knew something of honor, having been trained at my brother’s knee. But these brash new rangers… they know nothing of duty or honor.”


“That’s a lie!” cried out Kira, her hands flying to her helmet to rip it off and throw it, joining Kim and Dr. O’s on the floor. “I’ve let go of my dream, my music for duty. Instead of playing every gig I was offered, I stepped back, knowing I had to choose. I’ve honored the ranger ways, as Dr. O and Kim taught us what they were taught by Zordon.”


“I gave up my pride and my arrogance,” Conner offered quickly after her, his own helmet tucked under his arm as he moved to Kira’s side. “I wanted to quit. I didn’t want to be the leader. I wanted to be stupid and foolish. Instead I learned I had to be humble, to be a hero, to give others the chance to be the best they could be and for me to support them so I could learn to lead. I had to realize that I was a part of something bigger than myself. And I did that. Because that’s what it means to be a ranger.”


Xondar’s eyes widened. He had underestimated the younger team. He’d thought… that they were fools, like the others he’d crossed. The pink and black rangers were his brother’s warriors, and they’d taught their protégé’s well.




“I’ve given up my isolation to be a member of a team,” spoke up Ethan, his helmet in his hands before him, his eyes glued to Xondar’s as the man shook before them. “I sacrificed grades, the perfection of a geek’s life to be a ranger. To become more than I thought I was. I learned to fight, learned to be honorable, learned to be a ranger.”


“And I sacrificed my father on the island of his own making, choosing to follow the path that I’d been taught: to preserve life at all costs, even the cost of my father’s death to protect the Earth from his other, evil self,” Trent stated thickly, his white helmet bouncing off the metal plate. “We all know duty, honor and sacrifice, because we are rangers.”


“You see Xondar… your loss is not the only one. Even your brother sacrificed for the fight; he sacrificed his ties to you. He chose duty and honor over self-preservation and indulgence. He chose to die at the hands of a ranger to save the universe and everything beyond it,” spoke Kim honestly, moving forward in an advance on the shaking, fearful man who was watching his vengeance collapse around him under the weight of the honor, duty and sacrifice of these true rangers.


Ones like those he’d slaughtered…

“No! I refuse…” he stammered, turning and trying to climb the dais to escape the inescapable truth that was seeping into his soul.


He’d corrupted his brother’s legacy with his madness.


“YOU REFUSE TO SEE THE TRUTH?” came a voice suddenly, and everyone turned to see the hovering energy image of Zordon appear in the room in a flash of gold and white.


“No,” Xondar said stunned, his feet sliding from underneath him as his eyes fixed on the image before him. “This cannot be.”




“But… you died. I undertook this to see to it that those who should have defended you were punished!”




“I…I, I was not there. I chose the wrong path. And you died. If I had been with you…” stammered Xondar, only now accepting what had hidden in his heart all this time. The truth of his actions…


The rangers stared as the being that had terrorized them, caused so much pain and destruction huddled into a near ball on the floor of the ship, his eyes letting forth streams of tears as the emotions escaped him, assailed him. He was facing his own test… his own fear.


And they understood the implications all too well.


“NO,” Zordon said simply, his face downcast as he realized the depths of his brother’s pain. “YOU COULD NOT HAVE STOPPED MY DEATH. OR MY REBIRTH. FOR NOW I AM TRANSENDED. AND NOW YOU MUST RETURN TO ELTAR, AND BEGIN TO MAKE AMENDS.”


“How? How can I atone for the deaths of those rangers I killed in my arrogance? They were honorable, yet I did not see it.”


Before Zordon could speak, Tommy suddenly moved to Xondar’s side.


“You can find it by taking on the role you were meant to play,” he said quietly, reverently as he felt the memories of those days bubble up inside of him. “Your brother took me in after I had been tainted by evil, had done things that while I had no control over doing, I still felt guilt and pain over. And because he did, I was able to find my true self, find my place as a ranger.”




“And because Tommy was there before, he helped me do the same,” said Trent, joining the black ranger beside the fallen, once honorable brother of Zordon.


“I have been a fool. So many have died because of me…” Xondar said, his voice choked by tears.


“Then go home and repent. Follow your brother’s path and find honor in the duty you were called to once. Let that become your legacy,” commented Kim, taking Tommy’s hand in hers.


Slowly the being on the floor nodded, his heart heavy with the deaths he’d caused. Looking up, he saw the rangers faces before him, Zordon’s chosen two, and their chosen, and he realized his grievous error… his madness had almost killed them, like so many others….


“I have wronged you rangers. You *are* worthy of your mantles,” he told them simply, their eyes showing their acceptance of his apology, their acknowledgement of his attempt to honor them.




“Be well Zordon,” said Kim, her eyes tearing as she realized that this was it, they’d never see him again. It was worse than when he’d died.


“Thank you Zordon. May the power protect you,” Tommy murmured softly, catching Kim’s around the shoulders and holding her to him tightly.




As the control room began to rumble to life for liftoff, the team quickly gathered their helmets and backed away. Snapping them back in place, they teleported back outside the ship, near the spot they had originally arrived. Staring up, they watched as the ship glowed golden, and Symax’s form was pulled back up into the hull with an energy beam.


Then, as quickly as it had arrived all those months ago, Xondar’s ship, now carrying Zordon and a penitent Xondar lifted up into the atmosphere, and then was gone.


“I guess we won,” whispered Conner as Kira leaned into him, Kim and Tommy holding each other tightly, not caring who might see two rangers clinched together with Ethan and Trent staring at the sky in disbelief.


“We did indeed. Let’s go home guys,” said Tommy, as they broke apart and teleported away.




Closing in on the end everyone…





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