Always a Ranger - Part 12
Déjà Evil Part 1: Once There was a Green Ranger…
An evil white ranger.
I never thought I’d live to see the day again.
I got up from the floor where I sat with the rest of the team in the command center/basement of my house and ran a hand through my hair in frustration. It seems like so long ago, but all I could think of the second he showed up was me, and how once upon a time that was *me* being the evil ranger.
God, now I know how Jason must have felt trying to stop me but not hurt me. It’s just unbelievable.
I pace the space in front of where I’d just been sitting, feeling the eyes of my students and rangers as well as Hayley’s as I tried to figure out what to do. Except all that I can see, all I can hear is that fight…
We got our asses handed to us out there. Even me. Hell, especially me. I don’t know if he was more powerful than an average ranger, but I know Kira and Ethan weren’t holding back before they got their powers disrupted. I tried to stop them, warn them, and in the end, we all ended up on the pavement with our powers fried. The only reason we’re still here is that whomever this guy is *let* us walk away.
Now, we have to deal with figuring out whom this guy is, what he really wants and if we can defeat him or rescue him. And truthfully I don’t know what to do now.
“Tom?” Hayley calls from her place at the computer and I turn slowly to look at her. She knows some of the story, but not enough to understand.
“Keep trying to figure out who he is and where he came from. Use what little we gathered from our last meeting and try and sift out the dino gem influence. We need to find him.”
“What then?” asks Conner, standing up from his spot on the floor.
“Maybe we can reason with him,” I explain carefully.
“Reason?” Ethan questions angrily. “He’s evil1 He tried to kill all of us. You heard him Dr. O. He said there were three rangers, or I guess four too many. How are we supposed to reason with that kind of thinking?”
“It may not be as clear cut as you make it out Ethan,” I try to clarify, feeling my own surety at my statement trickle away like melting snow.
“What, is he not evil?” Kira says, still sitting on the floor, staring up at me, looking for some kind of answer that will help them make sense of it all.
“It could be a lot of things. But until we find out more, we can’t assume that he’s just evil and destroy him.”
They all look at me with uncomprehending stares, and I shake my head in despair and anger. I wasn’t supposed to have to deal with this ever again. It was supposed to never happen. I was going to get all the gems and make sure all the rangers were on the right side.
I wasn’t supposed to fail.
“Look, Hayley, work on the scans. Ethan, you can see if you can help. Kira, Conner, you can see if there’s any significant damage to the morphers…”
“And you Dr. O? What are you doing?” Kira asks, standing up to walk towards me, her eyes concerned.
“I have to make a phone call.”
With that said, I turned towards the stairs and head up to the main floor of the house. I feel like my legs are coated with lead each time I lift them to ascend each step. It seems to take forever before I actually open the trap door and move into the living room.
Downstairs I have no doubts that the rest of the group was most likely feeling the need to stick together, confused by this turn of events. This was *their* first experience with an evil ranger. I knew it had to be hitting them all hard. But for me, I’d been here before… and on the other side. My first instinct had been to get them all squared away with something to do, keep their minds occupied while I got a beer and called Kim.
I walk slowly from the stairs to the fridge, hauling out the last of my MGD’s and using the palm of my hand on the kitchen counter to get the cap off. A few quick swigs and nearly half the bottle later, I was ready to make the call I both dreaded and desired. Dumping the rest of the beer in the sink, I dropped the bottle in the trash and headed back to the living room.
Grabbing the phone from the charger, I held it with one hand, using my thumb to press the buttons in a slow, familiar pattern. The other end started to ring, and I found myself continuing to pace. As I walked back and forth across the floor, I brought the earpiece to my head. It didn’t take long before I heard the other end of the line pick up.
“Kim,” I breathed quietly, the weight of everything sitting heavily on my shoulders.
The moment I say her name, I can almost feel the tension on her side of the line. She knows me like no other. Maybe better than I know myself. She is my soul, and if anyone or anything could begin to even scratch the surface of my conflicting emotions, the woman on the other end of the line can.
“Tommy? What’s wrong?” she asks me in a frightened tone.
“We’ve got trouble.”
“An evil ranger. An evil *white* ranger,” I force out, my spare hand raking at my hair again.
“Oh God,” she murmurs, and I silently agree with her statement. “Who?”
“Don’t know yet. You know how it is, it could be anybody.”
“Maybe you can identify who it is. You could check their energy signature, or how about a mystical aura? Anyone with glowing eyes?”
“It’s still too early for a lot of that. Hayley and I tried a scan… the dino gem merged with the guy’s DNA. I don’t know if we can figure out who it is that way. And I don’t know how to search any other way. I mean, you guys were the ones searching before, and then you found me, remember? Anyway, I asked Hayley and Ethan to try and figure something out.”
There was a pause, and I thought for a moment that Kim didn’t want to discuss it anymore when she spoke up quietly, wrenching my heart with the concern in her voice.
“Are you okay?”
I felt my throat choke up for a minute, and I couldn’t speak. God how this woman knows me…
“No, not really Kim. I thought that I’d left all that behind, you know? The pain, the guilt, the memories. But as soon as he showed up, it all just hit me, *wham*, straight in the gut. Of course, the fact that he blocked my staff in mid swing and then fried out my powers might have been partially to blame of the pain.”
I could hear her unspoken concern for my well being. As a ranger, Kim knows how bruised and battered you can get in a fight, even protected by the ‘armor’ of our uniforms. And she knows that my statement about getting my powers short circuited was just the tip of the iceberg in regards to what the team probably went through.
You don’t know the half of it Beautiful.
“Is everybody okay? Are you going to be able to go after him?”
“Yeah. We all got banged up, Kira and Ethan worst, and we’re all a bit power deprived right at the moment. But everything will get fixed. We’ll figure it out.”
“You have to find this guy, and fast. If it’s a spell, then whoever he is, he needs to be freed before he does too much damage,” she urges, and I feel myself start to give voice to the question that’s been plaguing me since the white ranger showed up.
“What if that isn’t the case?”
“I don’t understand.”
“I mean, what if the white ranger isn’t good? If he really is evil, what do we do then? Do we destroy him to get the gem back and find a new person to hand over the power to? And if we do that, how do we live with that? Or do we just have to keep fighting him along with Mesogog until they give up?”
I know that I’m not being fair, asking her to tell me what to do. She’s not the leader. It’s not her responsibility. Hell, if this person is evil, and has a dino gem, it’s *my* fault for them ever being found in the first place.
“I can’t tell you what to do Tommy,” she says softly, “You’re the one who’s there. Maybe once you figure out what the white ranger wants, you can figure out if you need to destroy him or not.”
“He wants us out of the picture, or so he says,” I relate despondently.
“So did you, once upon a time,” she softly reminds me, and I feel my heart crack in my chest.
There never seems to be a day when I don’t wonder what would have happened if Rita hadn’t made me her evil green ranger. If I hadn’t treated Kim the way I did back when we’d first met. If I hadn’t attacked Angel Grove or the whole ranger team. If I hadn’t nearly killed Jase on the beach before he saved me.
Would I be here today? Would I have made the life I have? Would I have been able to connect with Kim like I have? But those were questions I couldn’t answer. All I could do was deal with the here and now. And find out if this new player was really like me, if I was dealing with ranger déjà vu, or if he really wasn’t on my side.
Either way, this wasn’t something that was ever supposed to happen to me, or another team if I could help it.
“Why did this happen Kim?” I blurt out suddenly, looking for answers I know don’t exist.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“I’m their mentor, I *made* them. It was hard enough nearly forcing them into being rangers, since they’d bonded with the gems and we were under attack… but I never wanted what happened to me to happen to anyone else. For this team to have to face the same pain and conflict that you, Jase and the others had to. If someone’s been forced to be an evil ranger… it’s my fault Kim.”
“Mesogog is here after me. My work, my knowledge. If I had given it to them…”
“Thomas James Oliver, don’t you dare finish that sentence!” she nearly yells through the phone, and I feel myself freeze at her use of my full name.
Okay, I think I remember Kim this pissed off at me on possibly one occasion. With that in mind, I hold my tongue as my love imparts her wisdom to me. That was why I called her, wasn’t it?
“You have never done anything but try and do the right thing. If you had given in to Mesogog, you’d probably be dead, and the Earth enslaved by now, or destroyed. Don’t you *ever* feel guilty for doing what had to be done.”
“*No*. Bad things happen to good people. Look at every bad thing that has happened to you over the years. Did you deserve to be turned in to the evil green ranger? Did you deserve to lose the green ranger powers? Did you deserve to have Lord Zedd hate you with everything he had? Did you deserve to have me leave you? Did you deserve what Prince Gasket put you through? Do you deserve what Mesogog is doing now? *No*.”
I stop and listen carefully to what she’s saying. Yes, it all makes sense. And no, I didn’t do anything to deserve the pain I’ve been through over the years. But I still feel guilty over the fact that a ranger exists, possibly enslaved because of what I’ve done in the last couple of years.
“Kimberly, I understand what you’re saying, but it still doesn’t change the fact that this guy might be under a spell because of *me*.”
“And it’s not fair,” she simply states.
“Life isn’t fair Tommy. If it was, Trini would still be alive. You and I would have been able to make things work all those years ago so we wouldn’t have had to spend all this time alone. Things happen, and we can’t always fix it. We’re human beings and rangers, not gods.”
“Still, this dino gem… if I had found it…”
“Yes, you might have prevented it. But it didn’t happen. You can’t second-guess what you could have done. You have to deal with the now. You know in your heart that this ranger isn’t truly evil. You know that from being there yourself. Find out who he is. Help him. And maybe in the process, you’ll help yourself too.”
As Kim says this, I wonder, would rescuing and breaking the evil ranger’s spell actually help me rid myself of some of those demons? I couldn’t break the spell on myself before. Jason had to do it by breaking the Sword of Destruction. Could my helping the white ranger finally give me peace regarding my own past?
I didn’t know the answer to that, except that I knew I had to try. If for nothing else, to help the team deal with this, and to save this guy the years of pain I had.
“Thanks Kim,” I said softly, putting every emotion I had towards the love of my life into those two simple words.
“You’re welcome,” she replies with a smoky tone, and I feel my heart swell at the thought that I am loved by this wonderful woman.
“Beautiful, I hate to say this…”
“But you need to get back down with the others and figure out a battle plan,” she states, and I smile. She knows me *too* well.
“Yeah. I really should see if I can help.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too Tommy. Be careful.”
With that, we hang up, and I turn to look at the trap door leading back downstairs. The battle may not be over, but I feel like with this little extra support from this woman, one who has been where I stand now, trying to rescue a ranger that I can get us *all* through this.
I take the first step towards the stairs, and with each one, I feel more confident. Maybe we can get through this. Stop the white ranger and maybe bring him over to our side.
And maybe when we do, I can finally let go of the pain that being evil left on me all those years ago.
Due to the 3 part series, I’ll try not to have to re-write each of these parts. Depending on the TV schedule, I’ll have pt 2 of the story out as soon as I see part 2 of White Thunder.
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