Always a Ranger - Part 40

With This Ring Part 3: All’s Fair in Love and War

By Jeannine Trevizo

 

 

 

Kim swiveled her head wildly as the doors slid open again. She’d just about gotten to the point where she was wondering when they were coming back. The long periods of silence worried her. As long as it was quiet and Mesogog or one of his goons weren’t tormenting or talking to her, that meant they still had the upper hand, and a rescue was still to come.

 

But, she continued to remind herself that if Tommy was coming, which she knew he would, she had to buy him time to figure out how to get to her. And by keeping Mesogog and his cronies talking, she could hopefully do that.

 

She heard footsteps and then Mesogog walked in. Behind him this time was more than just Zeltrax in his stunningly bright red armor, but a chick in black leather. Now, she thought, she needed to keep them off balance and talking, because talking meant they weren’t attacking Tommy and the others.

 

“Wow, I’m impressed Mesi. I wouldn’t have picked you as the kinda guy that liked leather bar chicks. But honey, the makeup is a bit much,” Kim teased as she watched the woman following Mesogog, waiting to see if the bitch was soft or if she was going to be trouble.

 

Suddenly Elsa stalked over to the chair and swiftly backhanded Kim across the face. As soon as she snapped her head back to glare at her, Kim realized that the leather chick was going to be of the latter category.

 

“Such nice friends you have.”

 

“I’m sorry, we haven’t been properly introduced, although after we’re done with you, it might be a waste of breath but… I’m Elsa.”

 

“And this should mean something to me?”

 

“I forget. You and your silly fiancé Dr. Oliver have no idea I’ve been keeping tabs on him for the last year.”

 

“What the hell are you talking about?” Kim questioned angrily.

 

“You see my dear, once my master realized that your precious Dr. Oliver was coming here, to Reefside for a power source, he sent me to watch him. And I have…as Reefside High School’s Principal Randall.”

 

Kim was stunned for a moment, wondering if Tommy had any idea… and then she immediately pushed it aside. She couldn’t let them throw her…

 

“Oh joy! Well, at least I can tell Tommy your pathetic attempts to pick him up were out of evil intent,” referring to Randall’s behavior that had prompted Kira to e-mail Kim about her hitting on Tommy.

 

“Ah yes, that little game I played with him. Had I known he liked petite brunettes, I would have made more of an effort to change my look,” Elsa stated with a cold fury, her hand tossing back her dark mane.

 

“Please, you can’t hide skank with a wig,” Kim verbally swiped at Elsa, earning her another slap across the face.

 

“Enough Elsa. We need our guest in good condition. At least until Oliver gets here,” Mesogog demanded, instantly making Elsa back up.

 

Kim’s face went white. He knew…

 

“I’m sure that Oliver and his pathetic excuse for heroes will be here soon,” Mesogog stated, as if answering Kim’s mental comment. “They more than likely have deduced where you are by now, and we plan to have a welcoming committee ready when they arrive. Then they will have a choice… hand over their dino gems, or watch you die my dear. And we know your dear Doctor Oliver will fall on his sword for you.”

 

“You don’t know what you’ve done,” Kim said in a low, dark tone.

 

“We’ll see.”

 

With that, he and the others swept out of the room, once again leaving Kim alone. Then her mind struck on a hole in his plot. He’d said he would demand the dino gems from the team coming to rescue her as the price to save her life. That meant he didn’t know…He had no idea he’d picked the worst possible time to try and force Tommy and the team into bending to his will.

 

If her love and the leader of three power rangers teams had thought of what she was sure he had, Mesogog had a rude awakening coming his way.

 

-x-

 

Tommy stood with the current team to either side of him, and the others flanking him. To one side stood Jason and the original team members of the Dino, Ninjetti, Zeo and Turbo powers. On the opposite side was the second Turbo team who had become the space rangers, along with Cole from the Wild Force team and Wes from Time Force. Behind him, Hayley and Billy manned the console, and they turned to listen to Tommy’s announcement. 

 

With the teams nearly surrounding him, he cleared his throat and prepared to hand out the assignments.

 

“I’m breaking us up into three teams,” he stated, looking around the room at the different rangers as they awaited his orders, as if he was their general.

 

He forced himself to stand a little straighter, living up to the image that many had of him as the greatest ranger ever. They expected him to have all the answers, but he’d had precious little time to build a game plan. Years of being the leader though had ingrained in him the process of executing battle plans, and he’d always excelled at it. Still, all he had for this one was the bare bones of a plan; yet it was one that he didn’t think Mesogog would be prepared for. As it was, they were at a huge advantage… Mesogog had no idea that he had a literal army at his command.

 

“Team one is TJ’s. With you are Cassie, Ashley, Carlos, Andros, Cole and Wes. Your job is to secure the portal point and keep the hallways clear and provide us a way out. If that portal gets closed or taken over by Mesogog’s goons before we get back, no one is going home.”

 

TJ nodded. He was actually glad of the assignment. While some might have thought the task was the least of them, he knew that he was responsible for getting everyone home in one piece. As well, he still had something that he had to make up for… it had been on *his* watch that the command center, the first command center had been destroyed. It was a failing that he was still trying to make up for, and he knew this might be his last chance to do that in Tommy’s eyes.

 

“Team two is Jason’s. You have Adam, Kat, Aisha, Zack, Tanya and Rocky. You’re the secondary incursion team. You’ll need to take on all resistance between the main objective and the exit point. I have no doubt we’ll get slammed, and you’ll need to dispatch any oncoming reinforcements so we can get out.”

 

As much as Jason wanted to go with Tommy, he knew that they needed the teams and that his group had a vital role; they would make sure Tommy could get to Kim and that they could all get back to the portal. To their advantage, he had people he could trust, people he knew and in some cases served with as a leader, others as a team mate. Without thinking, he turned to Zack and the two clasped arms, smiling at the prospect of being back in action together after so many years.

 

“Team three is with me, we’re the primary assault team. I’m going to be taking the new dino team: Kira, Ethan, Conner and Trent. We’ll go into the main part of the complex, first the lab, then the other areas, with Jason’s team backing us up and locate Kim. If we can destroy Zeltrax, Mesogog and his other henchmen, we will. But the first priority is Kim.”

 

Kira, Trent, Conner and Ethan glanced at all the older, more experienced rangers and saw them looking back with respect and support. It was in that single moment that the four of them felt that they really *were* rangers.

 

“Hayley, you and Billy are going to get us there, keep an eye on us and get us back. I’m relying on both of you. I’m putting everyone’s lives in your hands.”

 

“You have one hour,” Hayley said seriously, feeling the responsibility of their task weighing on her like a Buick. “Any longer, and I can’t guarantee the portal will still be stable… you might not get back here.”

 

“But we’ll hold it as long as we can past that if you’re not through,” said Billy, and gave Hayley a look that said that they *could* do anything they put their minds to. “Good luck.”

 

“Let’s go,” Tommy said, “Power up.”

 

With that, the teams pulled their different morphers and in a bright flash of light and sounds, the room was suddenly filled with rangers; Jason and Zack and Aisha in the original dino ranger uniforms, Adam, Kat, Tanya and Rocky in their Turbo uniforms, Ashley, Andros, TJ, Cassie and Carlos in their Space ranger uniforms, Wes in his Time Force uniform, Cole in his Wild Force suit and the new Dino Thunder team in their armor.

 

Once everyone was in uniform, Tommy turned and headed out through the command center bunker to the forest, the others following. Before them there was a slight pinpoint of dark light, and lightning began to crackle and crash around them. Some of the rangers who weren’t familiar with the portal technology nearly jumped, but Tommy’s raised fist held everyone in place as the portal opened up.

 

Then, with an authority that he’d never had, and a desperation and drive he never wanted, he waved his hand forward and strode into the portal, followed by a ranger army.

 

-x-

 

The second that Tommy stepped onto the metal flooring of Mesogog’s base, he was shocked with a sensation in his gut… he could almost feel Kim like she was standing beside him, and it took all his will power to wait for everyone rather than race off in search of her. Slowly the small corridor began to fill with rangers in a wide variety of colors and armor. When the last member of TJ’s team came through, Tommy turned and clasped TJ’s hand.

 

“May the power protect you,” Tommy stated seriously, and TJ’s hand tightened on Tommy’s.

 

“Same to you,” he replied, “We’ll be waiting for you.”

 

Nodding, Tommy spun and headed off towards the area he thought was the center of the complex, his team and Jason’s following. They flew down the corridor, seeing nothing and no resistance. Had they been lucky enough to have entered the complex without being detected, Tommy wondered. But he knew in his gut that Mesogog knew he was there, just like he knew Kim was too. He was just waiting…

 

Suddenly the entire labyrinth of passageways was bathed in red light, sirens began to sound and they all knew then that the battle was upon them. From in front of and behind them, Tyrano-drones appeared, their spike-covered countenances swarming over them. Tommy knew that as they were being attacked, so to would TJ’s team, and he hoped that they all were up to the task.

 

Within moments they were upon them, a wave of fists, feet and razor-like spines that cut into their forces with sudden violence. Jason and Tommy pushed into the onslaught, leading their fierce ranger teams behind them, throwing punches and blocking hits in a flurry of mind-numbing action. The corridor provided little maneuvering space, forcing both teams to fight hand to hand, increasing the danger that a stray throw of a punch or a tossed enemy might crash into an ally. Seasoned rangers fought along side the newer ones, the strength and energy of Tommy’s new team and the fear for their own lives as well as Kim’s spurring the rusty skills of the original ranger teams to increase their attacks, pushing back against the tidal wave of drones that continued to advance as fast as they could dispatch them. As the fury of the battle increased, Tommy and Jason both instinctively knew that their teams had to split up now, or they’d all be embroiled in this battle and they’d be unable to reach Kim before the portal closed.

 

“Go!” Jason yelled, violently throwing a tyrano-drone across the floor and nearly hitting Tanya where she was angrily trading blows with another of the foot soldiers. “Get Kim… we’ll do our part.”

 

The two men shared a look, even through their visors, and Tommy inclined his head slightly and turned to his team.

 

“Let’s go. Kira, blow us a hole through them,” Tommy barked at her in his leader voice.

 

She nodded and let loose her terra scream, tossing dozens of the drones away and clearing them a path. Hurriedly, Tommy charged forward, the rest of the dino thunder rangers following him as they hurried past the downed drones, knowing they’d be up soon and either engaging Jason’s team or following them. In the small space where the evil that had taken root in Tommy so many years ago, he hoped that it was the former, because he had other battles to take on.

 

The team turned the corner, the sound of fighting still echoing off the walls behind them when Tommy stopped short. He was sure…

 

Kira, Conner, Ethan, wasn’t the lab here?” he asked in a stunned voice as they stood before an empty room.

 

“I…. I don’t remember,” Kira said, her only two occurrences being there having been when she’d been captured and when they’d come to rescue Dr. O… it was months ago…

 

“I don’t know where we are Dr. O,” Conner stated worriedly, and Ethan nodded as well, his helmet shining in the red light as he did so.

 

“Trent?” Tommy asked, suddenly remembering that the formerly evil white ranger had spent weeks in and out of their enemy’s lair.

 

“Dr. O… I…. I can’t,” he said, his voice cracking.

 

“Trent, what’s your problem? You probably know this place like the back of your hand,” Conner argued, his adrenalin pounding in his veins from the fight they’d just been in.

 

“I can’t…”

 

“Why not?” Kira said confused, moving over to Conner’s side.

 

Trent looked at the masks that covered the faces of his team mates, and knew that beneath the expressionless helmets their anger, frustration, fear and concern for Kimberly was threatening to explode. He’d made a promise to his father… but he couldn’t let Kim die or them die to keep it.

 

Mesogog’s chamber, where he probably has Kim is down this corridor to the left, then up two more intersections, and into the center of the complex.”

 

“Why didn’t you just say so?” Ethan asked, frustrated at the white ranger wasting time they didn’t have.

 

“Because I need to protect him…”

 

“What?” they all said, except for Tommy.

 

He’d known that Trent had a secret when he’d broken the evil spell on the white dino gem. As it was, he’d always wondered how Trent had broken the spell, and part of him had speculated that he’d had help. Now, with Kim’s life in the balance, he was going to have to press the issue, because if there was an ally in Mesogog’s camp, he wanted to know so they could use them… but if not…

 

“Protect who Trent? Tell me!” Tommy demanded, his voice not raising but sounding deadly serious.

 

Trent looked to the members of the team, realizing his dilemma. He’d neglected to tell them the truth, and now that lie, that omission was going to divide them. Still, he owed them all…

 

Mesogog… he’s… he’s my father.”

 

The stunned silence that fell on them all was broken when Conner lunged at Trent, not caring that the white ranger was his friend. They’d given him chance after chance, only to be betrayed over and over again. And now, they were involved in an all out war when they could have resolved the Mesogog problem months ago.

 

“You rotten, lying son of a…” Conner yelled, cocking his arm back as if to let fly, when Ethan and Kira caught his arms and restrained him. “Let me go! He deserves…”

 

“To make amends,” said Tommy, interposing himself between them. “Trent’s our guide, and now we know that Mesogog isn’t fully evil. He’s the one who helped you break the spell on the dino gem, wasn’t he… Anton I mean.”

 

“Yeah… he can’t control it Dr. O. I know I should have said something before, but he’s my *father*. I owed him my silence.”

 

“I understand. But right now, I want you to know that if you can’t get Anton in control, *full* control, and I have to chose between killing him and losing Kim… I will finish him.”

 

There was no mistaking the steely determination in their mentor’s voice. He would do just that, and they found themselves accepting that possible outcome. Being a ranger was about protecting, but sometimes, just sometimes, you had to protect with deadly violence.

 

“Trent, lead the way. Hurry, we don’t have much time.”

 

The white ranger spun around and headed down the corridor, taking the corner at a blinding pace as Tommy and the others followed him. They quickly made their way through the labyrinth and suddenly met a group of tyrano-drones guarding the door Trent was headed for. As soon as Tommy laid eyes on the door before him, he knew she was there, just beyond the metal. He felt like he could tear the drones and the door down with his bare hands.

 

“Now!” yelled Conner, taking the leader role for his team, and the four younger rangers attacked, quickly spearing into the assembled drones and unleashing everything they had.

 

As soon as they did, Tommy realized their plan, one he hadn’t thought of. Quickly he used his power of invisibility and weaved his way unseen through the fighting as his team kept them occupied. Once he was beside the door controls, he quickly opened the door and rushed inside. In front of him he found Kim, alone and strapped to the chair that he’d been in so many months before.

 

Dropping his power, he hurried to her side.

 

“Tommy!” Kim cried from where she was still stuck to the table, overcome with the sight of her love in his uniform. Her rescue had arrived.

 

“Oh God Kim, I was so scared I’d lost… I’d kiss you but…” Tommy joked, noting his helmet before something flew past him and he ducked. Quickly he released the straps holding Kim down, and she leapt from the chair. “I brought you a little present.”

 

From beneath his glove on his right hand, he pulled her gauntlet and handed it to her. Kim’s face lit up, and she gave Tommy a wink.

 

“Hurry up, we can’t hold them forever!” called Conner from behind them.

 

Without a pause, Kim slapped the cool metal onto her arm, and quickly started to morph.

 

“Dino Thunder, Power Up!”

 

Almost as soon as her armor encased her, they heard a yell of anger and fury. In front of them, a door slid open and Mesogog entered the chamber, surrounded by another group of tyrano-drones. Kim and Tommy stood together, facing their enemy as the pair of them created a wall of warriors between him and the others. But they quickly realized that the door that Mesogog had entered and the one behind them weren’t the only ones.

 

“Whoa, heads up!” yelled Ethan as he saw Elsa and the now crimson armored Zeltrax emerge from a side door near the main entrance. They rushed in, heading towards Kim and Tommy.

 

Immediately Conner and Trent used their speed to zip into the main room with Dr. O and Kim, while Kira and Ethan continued to battle the waves of drones forcing them back into the chamber, towards the leaders of Mesogog’s tyranny and into the fire of all out war. Trent and Conner skidded to a stop beside Dr. O, falling into battle stance in preparation to engage Zeltrax and give their mentor some breathing room.

 

Their efforts were useless however, as they went flying, sailing across the room and landing in the midst of the battle ranging between Kira, Ethan and the advancing tyrno-drones, Zeltrax’s single-mindedness in his pursuit of his former friend relentless in its intensity. Zeltrax immediately attacked Tommy, bringing his sword down and crashing against the black ranger’s chest, sending him flying backwards into the chair in the middle of the room. The black ranger’s back slammed against the metal, doubling him over with the force of the impact, and Zeltrax was on him again, faster than his eyes could track.

 

He kicked out in his prone position, throwing Zeltrax off-balance and crashing into the metal paneling of the floor. They both jumped back up to their feet, ready to come to blows again. Tommy barely hesitated as he ran forward, intending to land a flying kick on his crimson armored foe only to have Zeltrax sweep his feet out from under him, throwing him back, Tommy’s helmet cracking loudly on the edge of the metal chair.

 

Kim spun on her heel from where she’d been fighting with a Tyrano-drone, her soul knowing instinctively somehow that she needed to get to Tommy. She saw Zeltrax’s menacing form stalking towards Tommy’s prone and still form. Without thinking, she jumped into the fray as he lunged forward, sword in hand as he brought it down towards his enemy, catching Zeltrax’s wrists and holding with all her strength both his hands and the sword above her, keeping him from landing another blow on Tommy.

 

“Guess what, it’s a much fairer fight when I can do this,” she nearly growled as she leapt up, pulling both feet up and kicking outwards, landing the blow on his chest as she let go of his hands, sending him flying backwards, and then landed on her feet, whirling around to go to Tommy’s side.

 

Behind her, Kira, Ethan, Conner and Trent were fighting tooth and nail for every inch as they pushed back the tyrano-drones that had followed them into the chamber, their fierce dispatching of the drones slowing Elsa’s advance towards them, Dr. O and Kim. Realizing the other ranger’s plot to keep her from Oliver and his whore, Elsa tried to rush around the rangers, throwing drones into their path as she attempted to keep them occupied as she headed towards her prey.

 

“What, you don’t want to play with us? I’m hurt,” quipped Kira with anger in her voice as she threw a kick in the direction of Elsa’s side, the blow glancing off her as she hurried past.

 

Less than a second later, a tyrano-drone rushed up behind Kira, sending her flying. The yellow ranger shoved herself up from the floor and rushed back into the fray, coming to fight back the drones pounding on her team mates.

 

Kim knew the rest of the team probably needed help, but she knew that Tommy would be the best person to do that. She had to get him on his feet and back into the fight, even if she had to distract Zeltrax to do it. But before she could get two steps towards Tommy, who to her relief was now getting up, she felt a blade kiss her back, sparks flying as it met her uniform and she fell forward, quickly rolling and then jumping up to find Elsa staring at her with malicious intent.

 

“Oh God, do we have to do the catfight thing? It’s so old,” Kim said, and avoided the next swing of Elsa’s sword. “How about we even things up and get rid of that?”

 

Kim executed a spin kick, sending Elsa’s sword flying, and then charged her, pushing them to the far side of the room.

 

“I guess we don’t rate,” Conner stated dejectedly as he watched Tommy and Zeltrax starting to engage in their deadly dance again as well as Kim struggling with Elsa when he felt a searing pain through his uniform and went crashing to the floor.

 

Trent, Ethan and Kira turned to find the final player that had been missing… the white ranger.

 

“You and I have some unfinished business,” he said to Trent, pointing his dagger at him. “There can be only one of us, and I prefer it to be me. The rest of you should take care of Trent’s dear old dad before he kills you all.”

 

The white ranger clone leapt forward, bringing his dagger down and across Trent’s armor, sending up sparks and throwing him backwards. Conner, Kira and Ethan were torn between helping Trent and going to make sure Mesogog didn’t enter the fray. The choice was made for them when another group of tyrano-drones swarmed in from behind the door where Mesogog stood, watching the battle with an imperialistic air.

 

It was all they could do to keep from being overwhelmed.

 

“Dr. O, this might be a good time to finish this,” Conner yelled over the crashing swords and sounds of fists and feet meeting metal and ranger armor.

 

The black ranger nodded, bringing his Brachiostaff down again on Zeltrax, cracking the crimson armor. Instead of staying down, Zeltrax rose again, almost faster than before and brought down his sword, which Tommy just barely blocked.

 

“God damn it Smitty, I don’t want to kill you!”

 

“That didn’t stop you last time, now did it?”

 

With that, Zeltrax stopped talking and lunged at Tommy again, his sword point preceding him. Tommy twisted away and brought the tip of his staff down on the space at the back of Zeltrax’s neck with the earthquake setting in place, the power of the energy harnessed in the staff sending him to the ground hard. Tommy stepped back and waited to see if he was getting up, and when he didn’t, he turned and rushed to find Conner, Kira and Ethan surrounded by drones, Kim and Elsa fighting and Trent doing battle with his double.

 

As much as he wanted to run to Kim’s side, he knew in his heart that Kim could take Elsa; if anyone could, it was her. But he knew that the kids needed his assistance first. With a rush, he went invisible and bowled through half the drones before they knew what hit them.

 

“Dr. O!” Ethan yelled, raising his armored arm to deflect the blow coming his way as he realized the invisible force tossing bad guys away had to be their mentor.

 

With Tommy among them, Conner, Ethan and Kira began to push back the attack, felling drones as they made their way towards where Trent and the white ranger clone battled.

 

“This is perfect… you’ll all perish in here, by my blade or by theirs. And when it is all over, I will rule in Mesogog’s place.”

 

“You’re crazy,” Trent yelled, bringing his own dagger down, only to have it blocked.

 

“No, I am practical. Dr. Oliver and Mesogog will destroy one another, and I will be able to destroy what is left of the opposition,” the evil white ranger laughed, his voice deep and ominous sounding.

 

“No!” Trent cried out in rage, and then turned on his speed to ram his clone, slamming them both against the wall.

 

The force of the impact sent them flying, and it took Trent a few moments before he slowly pushed himself from the floor. With care he got up and hurried to join the others, hoping that he had enough time to help get the others out, and get his father back before his clone could regain consciousness.

 

Across the room, Kim and Elsa continued to fight; the leather clad cyborg kicked at Kim, who caught her ankle and tossed her aside. Chasing her, Kim grabbed hold of the collection of dark braided hair and hauled the woman up. Elsa threw her elbow back, and caught Kim at the throat, making the pink ranger release her hold on her. With a quick twist, Kim was able to slip behind Elsa, swiftly catching both her arms and pinning them behind the cyborg. Then with a rush, she ran them forward, smashing Elsa’s face into the closest console, the machinery sparking at the impact, shattering glass which sliced into the cyborg’s face.

 

What Kim didn’t know that the panel she’d sent Elsa into was more than just for show, as Mesogog roared from his spot by the back door to the chamber.

 

“No! Damn you, you’ll destroy my work!” he yelled, his red taloned fingers raking the air as his teeth gnashed in anger and frustration.

 

“Guys, some backup here?” Kim called out nervously as she realized that they were on the verge of being converged on by Mesogog.

 

Then, before she could move again, the panel blew up, setting half the room on fire, and the rest of the panels sparked as the electrical shorts spread across the machinery, arcs of current jumping from one panel to another, electrifying the panels nearby.

 

“You will not defeat me… I refuse to lose to you!” Mesogog hissed, his reptilian nature reinforcing itself as he lunged at Kimberly. “We ruled the world for eons… I will not allow mere humans to drive my race to extinction!”

 

She caught his claws as they wrapped around her throat, fighting simply to keep him from closing fully around her neck. Mesogog pressed his advantage, leering at her while his teeth grimaced at her in a way so evil that Kim couldn’t remember seeing that look since Zedd had fought the rangers back in Angel Grove.

 

“Kim!” Tommy nearly screamed, turning to see Mesogog grasping Kim by the throat and then leapt over the fallen bodies of their defeated foes to get to her.

 

Once in the air, he poised himself for a flying kick, violently slamming his feet into Mesogog’s body, breaking the hold the monster hand on his lover, sending Mesogog into the far wall and Kimberly stumbling away. Tommy landed hard, his knees buckling to absorb the residual power of his blow, and he quickly stood to find Kim standing in battle stance, waiting for their enemy’s next move. He moved to her side, following her lead but knowing that this was it… if he couldn’t get Anton to take control of Mesogog now…

 

“Anton, you have a chance… break Mesogog’s hold and we can help you be rid of him forever.”

 

Deep, evil laughter filled the room as Mesogog rose slowly, his eyes trained on his arch nemesis and his rangers.

 

“Mercer was just a tool Oliver,” he rasped, the look in his eyes hateful as he spoke to Tommy. “He thought he could break free of me, cure himself. He has no idea that he would have to die with me… he *is* me now!”

 

Suddenly around them the canisters holding the liquids and chemicals that Mesogog had used to create his monsters began to shatter from the heat of the growing flames, spilling their fluid across the floor which quickly added to the growing fire, sending up dark blue chemical flames that scorched the metal walls… and rapidly ran across the floor, blocking Mesogog’s advance on Tommy and Kim, cutting him off.

 

Trent turned at the sound of growling and cursing to see Mesogog surrounded in flames, his hands clawing at the fire as he tried to find a way out, but found all his exits blocked with flames.

 

“Dad!” Trent yelled, rushing forward towards Mesogog and the fire.

 

“Trent, no!” screamed Kira, fearful that he’d be engulfed along with MesogogAnton… his father. The whole thing still was confusing.

 

“Dr. O, get everyone out of here!”

 

Kira stood beside Conner, his hand holding her in place. They all cared about Trent, but this was his decision. The three teens looked to their elder counterparts, hoping that they could change his mind.

 

“Trent, there’s nothing you can do,” Tommy said, reaching towards the white ranger, trying to will him to take his hand, move away from Mesogog and the encroaching flames.

 

“I don’t believe Mesogog. He’s lying! I can’t leave my father without trying to save him. I *have* to try. Look, I’ll follow you. Just go!”

 

The determination is Trent’s voice cut through Tommy. It sounded much like when he’d vowed to rescue Kim from Mesogog… Kim turned to Tommy, and as always, the communication between them snapped into place. Unless they physically tried to move him, there was no way Trent was leaving, and from the increasing smoke in the room, there was no guarantee how long they could stay before the room and then the whole complex crashed down around them. And they had other people that they were responsible for, that they needed to get out of the building too.

 

They had to go.

 

“Trent,” Tommy said solemnly, and the younger man turned to look at the older ranger. “You’ve done your uniform proud. We’ll see you at the basement.”

 

Trent nodded, and Tommy grabbed Kim’s hand and turned to run to the door, with Conner urging Kira before him, Ethan at his side.

 

And in the room where Trent had found his freedom from the evil spell on his gem, he fought to break another evil… the one holding his father prisoner in Mesogog’s body.

 

-x-

 

Tommy, Kim and the remaining rangers rushed back down the halls, Ethan leading as he remembered the way the best, until they converged on the continuing battle in the hallway. Jason’s team was still fighting, though the numbers of their opponents had dwindled. With reinforcements, they could clean the place up.

 

Before they could call out to give Jason and his crew a heads up that they were coming, they heard a loud boom, like an explosion back the way they’d come. Kira almost turned to go back, but Conner held her arm and pushed her forward. Trent had said he’d get out if he could; the fact that his father, Anton Mercer was to blame for all this, had made him feel as if it was his duty to try and save his father and make sure that the team could escape. And Conner respected that.

 

Kira, we need to get through,” Conner said, nearly yelling over the sounds of the battle raging in front of them.

 

Nodding, Kira threw a terra scream at the tyrano-drones, sending them flying and some of the older rangers in Jason’s group wincing at the sound. They were still standing however, though Tommy noticed that Kat was holding her midsection, and Rocky looked like he was ready to fall over at any moment. Adam had Tanya at his side, and he noticed that she wasn’t putting any weight on her left ankle.

 

Still, they were alive and they’d held their ground. Hurriedly they ran to meet them.

 

“Sorry,” Kira said to Jason and his group as she and the dino thunder team ran to join them.

 

“Understood,” acknowledged Jason, who watched as Conner and Ethan hurried past them, with Tommy and a uniformed pink ranger that Jason knew had to be Kim bringing up the rear. “God Kim, we were worried. It’s good to ‘see’ you!”

 

“Likewise Jase. But let’s get the hell out of here before we celebrate,” Kim remarked tersely, realizing that there had to be more obstacles yet to come.

 

Nodding behind his red helmet, Jason called for his team to head back to the portal, urging everyone back to the rendezvous point that TJ’s team was defending as they ran from the oncoming heat, smoke and flames from the explosion.

 

-x-

 

The battle at the portal had been fierce ever since the alarms had sounded. TJ had fought hard not to let the tyrano-drones split their group. Andros had taken the other space rangers, while TJ had stayed shoulder to shoulder with Wes and Cole. They’d fought before, when Tommy had led the red rangers against the generals of the Machine Empire.

 

But the odds they’d faced were overwhelming.

 

They’d all been hurt in some way: Cole was limping from a slash to his leg that had gone through his uniform, Cassie was dazed from an extremely hard blow to her helmet, Ashley had injured her arm blocking one of the blows from a tyrano-drone, Carlos was holding his side where he’d been kicked with more force than he’d expected, throwing him into a wall and TJ, Andros and Wes were all utterly exhausted from taking on the remaining drones.

 

So it was with a sigh of relief and a cry of hope that they saw Tommy and Jason’s teams, along with another ranger in pink that they knew had to be Kimberly.

 

Tommy and Jason’s teams plowed into the remaining forces, engaging them in hand to hand. It was blistering, as the heat from the explosion started to radiate from the walls, the metal conducting and funneling the fire towards them.

 

There wasn’t much time, and Kira and Ethan turned to Conner and he recognized their intent. Reaching up, he called on the Shield of Triumph. As the gold gilded shield appeared, and his armor changed to incorporate the additional power drained from Ethan and Kira, he looked to his sides to find both Ethan and Kira collapsed on the floor. While they hadn’t unmorphed, the drain on their powers and from the battle had rendered them unconscious.

 

Kira! Ethan!” he shouted helplessly, fearfully in the din the battle created.

 

Conner knew he had to stop this, now… Kira and Ethan were vulnerable, and he was responsible for them; he refused to let anything harm them if he could stop it.

 

Using the power of the shield, he began to focus it, to send it outwards, when he felt a hand on his arm, and the power he was channeling nearly doubled. He chanced a glance to his side and found Kimberly clinging to his arm, and he could almost see the power from her feeding into the shield and into him. Suddenly he remembered that Dr. O and Trent had both infused the shield with their powers, and Kira and Ethan did the same. Kim was now adding her pink dino gem power as well, and it was beyond anything he’d experienced yet.

 

Long seconds passed and then Kim’s hand went limp, and Conner turned to see Dr. O appear at their side, catching Kim and picking her up. Around him, he observed Jason and Zack haul Ethan and Kira from the floor and they backed up, the others that weren’t injured defending them.

 

It was now or never, Conner thought, and he thrust the shield forward, sending forth a blast of pure white energy, disintegrating the tyrano-drones that had been in their path.

 

The other rangers stood in awe as Conner turned and dismissed the shield, powering down to his normal state. He moved forward and took Kira from Zack, picking her up in his arms, similarly to how Dr. O carried Kim. Zack moved to help Jason hold Ethan between them.

 

“What about the white ranger?” TJ asked, shocked at the idea that Tommy would have left one of his team behind.

 

Tommy swung his head around, looking at the way they’d come through, now quickly being engulfed with flames. He’d never lost someone on his watch… but it was a decision to wait for one or make sure the rest were safe that had to be made. And being the leader made it his decision to make.

 

“If he’s coming, he’ll have to find his own way,” Tommy stated darkly, and no one was willing to ask anything else. “We need to get out of here, now! Everyone through the portal!”

 

Quickly they complied, TJ’s team going through first, followed by Jason’s group and Tommy’s last. They fell through the portal, landing on the forest floor as they escaped the complex. As soon as they hit the ground, Kim started to come to, as well as Kira and Ethan.

 

“Everybody okay?” Kim asked dazed, and Tommy didn’t know what to say…

 

Then behind them, the portal collapsed, the last glimpse they saw was of the corridor swallowed up by flames. Ethan eased himself off Jason and Zack’s shoulders, moving on his own power and Conner slowly put Kira down, holding onto her until he was sure she had her feet under her.

 

For Tommy, he was still reluctant to put Kim down. He’d been so fearful of losing her, but he’d been able to get her back. Finally he bent down to let Kim stand on her own, even if he wasn’t willing to let her go; he held her hands tightly.

 

“Trent?” Kira asked, and Kim looked to the younger woman. She watched how Conner hovered over her, and thought that maybe she and Kira needed to have a talk about what was right in front of her eyes…

 

“I don’t…” Tommy started to say, when the dino thunder team’s communicators went off.

 

Hurriedly, Tommy pressed the button to activate the com channel.

 

Hayely, Billy, we read you. We’ve got Kim and we’re outside the command center’s back door.”

 

“That’s good, because we’ve got something you might want to see,” Hayley said, her voice slightly amused.

 

Once the communication cut off, the door to the basement command center slid open. The rangers slowly trudged inside, the aches and injuries starting to become more apparent as the adrenalin began to wear off. Inside, they came to find Hayley and Billy with the monitor screen on, the image it showed being that of Mesogog’s island and base aflame and crumbling. Tommy and the dino thunder rangers stared at it in shock.

 

Mesogog’s island?” Ethan asked, awed.

 

“Yup. Seems whatever you guys did, you burned the place to the ground. And I monitored only one portal besides ours out of the place, and it didn’t have Mesogog or any of his people passing though it. You did it… you stopped Mesogog and saved the planet!” Hayley gushed, her hand reaching for Billy’s on the console.

 

“But if none of Mesogog’s people escaped, who…” Tommy started to say, when from the back stairs stepped a young Hispanic man, no longer morphed in his white armor that no one thought they’d ever see again.

 

“Trent!” yelled the members of the dino thunder team, and they all rushed to embrace him.

 

“How?” Tommy asked, stunned as he left his hand sit on the younger ranger’s shoulder.

 

“I knew the place pretty well. I knew there was another door that led to a series of passages and at the end of it was a portal. I guess being evil did help me in the end,” he said with a wistful tone.

 

“Your father?” Kim asked, holding his hand.

 

“He broke free, took control for a short window at the end,” he said softly, “and he told me to go. He hadn’t been able to find a cure for the disease that gave Mesogog control, and he wanted to stop him as much as we all did. Even if he couldn’t survive…”

 

Tommy nodded in understanding, pulling Kim to his side. He was thankful that Anton had chosen to do the right thing in the end, and that he’d released his son to escape. Quickly he looked around at the battle weary rangers around him and felt the responsibility of leadership again.

 

He let Kim go long enough to power down, prompting everyone to do the same. Then he took Kim’s hand again as they walked the circle of rangers, shaking their hands or hugging them as Tommy and Kim expressed their gratitude for these rangers, their friends’ willingness to come to their aid.

 

“Thank you,” they said to each and every ranger, as well as to Hayley and Billy who had come down from the console, looking them in the eye as they let them know how much what they’d done meant to them.

 

“Hey, you know what they say bro,” Jason said, coming up to hug Kim and Tommy when they’d finished their thank you’s, the other rangers converging on the couple, “once a ranger, always a ranger.”

 

Kim and Tommy stood in the middle of their friends and comrades and realized that they were truly blessed to be among such heroes.

 

-End-

 

tbc

 

One more chapter!

 

GO TO CHAPTER 41