Disclaimer: I don't own Power Rangers, and this fanfic is kind of silly looking back. Yeah. Good thing I stopped about what- chapter seven? Ai ai ai.
Chapter Two: Truths Revealed
"Hey, Justin," smiled a college student as he swung open the door to the Juice Bar. He wore a red T-shirt and jeans, and his dark brown hair came down his back in springy curls. A young brown-haired teenager in a blue sweater behind the bar smiled back in greeting as he wiped the bar.
"Hi, Tommy. How did final exams go?"
"All right," he shrugged as he sat down. "I haven't gotten the results back yet, but I think I did okay. Yours?"
"All 100s. Hey! Maybe next fall we can be roommates at college together! That'd be cool."
"A senior and a freshman in the same quarters?" Tommy grinned wryly. "I'd bet the people in charge would have to say something about that."
"No. It'd be fun, but no. Besides, do you even want to attend the same college as me?"
"Hm… I want to be a scientist, you want to be a scientist, so any school that's good enough for you is good enough for me!"
Tommy laughed and shook his head. "Two mixed berry smoothies, Justin. Jason ought to arrive in a few minutes."
"Great," nodded Justin as he turned to prepare the smoothies in the array of silver machines on the counter behind the bar. "So I guess I should save my big news until he gets here, huh?"
"What big news, Justin?" Tommy perked up, but Justin shook his head firmly.
"Nuh-uh. Not until Jason gets here."
"Come on," the older teenager pleaded. "You're killing me here."
"Plenty of monsters have tried that and failed, Tommy. I think you can survive a piece of secret news for five minutes," he replied smugly.
But it was ten minutes before a black-haired young man in a red and white plaid shirt and black trousers skidded in. Out of breath he plopped down next to Tommy.
"Sorry I'm late, there was a hitch in the construction of the community center and one thing led to another and I'm sorry I'm late."
"It's cool, at least you got here," Tommy assured his best friend as he passed him his smoothie. Just as he slurped up some of his with a straw he commented, "Now Justin can tell us his big news."
"Okay," Justin smiled happily. The two older guys looked at him expectantly. Dramatically he inquired, "Last week guess who returned from Brazil?"
"Ernie!" they cried together excitedly. Looking around, Jason wondered, "Where is he?"
"At the courthouse, setting things up so that he and Jerome are co-owners. But guys, he asked me about Billy."
"Oh shoot. Now two of them will be on all our cases about Billy," winced Jason. "We can explain Kat, Aisha, and Tanya's absences, but how to explain Billy's?"
"Um, we could kidnap him from Aquitar and bring him back to Earth?" Justin suggested hopefully. Jason shook his head.
"He wouldn't let us. He's snug as a bug there in his lab."
"Maybe we could wean away ourselves from smoothies so that we don't have to deal with all the questions anymore," Tommy mulled to himself. Taking a big slurpful of smoothie, he shook his head.
"Nope. Too good to give up. So what are we going to do when they ask about Billy?"
"The truth would be nice," Jerome commented dryly from the doorway. Both he and Ernie were clad in Hawaiian shirts. Jumping up, Jason and Tommy greeted them.
"Hey, Jerome. Hi, Ernie. It's great to see you again."
"Just what Jason said- great to see you again, Ernie. It's been a long time."
"That it has," agreed Ernie as they came in. "Well, the paperwork has been completed. This place is now officially Ernie and Jerome's Juice Bar. We'll have to change the neon sign outside now…"
Jason and Tommy exchanged a look. Awkwardly Tommy began, "Is it just us, Ernie, or in the Amazon did you lose some weight?"
"Yes, I did. What do you think?"
"It looks good," Jason responded honestly. Hastily he continued, "Not that you didn't look good before, Ernie, but now, um, well…"
"It's okay. I understand a lot more than you think I do."
The knowing twinkle in not just Ernie's eyes, but Jerome's as well, had all three panicked. Justin and Tommy shot anxious looks at Jason, who told Ernie uneasily, "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Do you?" smiled Jerome. Ernie chuckled.
"It's all right, guys. We know."
"Know what? There's nothing to know," insisted Justin with an extra-chirpy note to his voice. Ernie and Jerome seemed unconvinced.
"We have no idea what you're talking about," Tommy nodded edgily. Ernie rolled his eyes.
"It's pointless. I'm well aware of the fact, Tommy, that you started to hang out with Jason and his crew just after the Green Ranger became good. And that the six of you always wore a certain color that coordinated with a Ranger's color."
"And you left shortly after the Green Ranger stopped showing up in battles. And when you came back with a wardrobe in white the White Ranger had just shown up," Jerome continued. Nodding, Ernie resumed.
"Then Jason, Trini, and Zack left. I was concerned that I might have been wrong until Rocky, Aisha, and Adam 'replaced' them in your little group, each wearing a color of their predecessor. And those three Rangers' fighting styles altered drastically at this time. Then Kim left, and Kat 'replaced' her. Things got shifted around for Zeo, with Jason hanging around the same time the Gold Ranger was about, although Turbo stayed the same as Zeo-"
"Except Rocky left and Justin took his place."
"Except for Justin as the Blue Turbo Ranger," agreed Ernie. "When you four left for college, Justin got a new group of friends wearing the same colors. T.J., Cassie, Ashley, and Carlos. And Jerome tells me when Space rolled around T.J. became Blue with some new guy as Red and another new guy as Silver. Oh, and Carlos's color shifted from Green to Black for Space. Tell me if I got something wrong, but I don't think I did."
"Busted," Jason sighed under his breath. Out loud he acknowledged, "You hit the nail on the head, Ernie."
The two men exchanged high-fives. Hopefully Jerome commented, "Since we figured out that you're the Power Rangers, will Tommy cut his hair now?"
"No! How many times do we have to go over this! No, no, no, no, NO!"
Ernie chuckled. "About time you all came clean. Can you all still morph or what?"
"We wish," Jason sighed. "But Earth's morphing grid is down. Terra Venture has a link to Mirinoi's morphing grid via the Quasar Sabers, so the Lost Galaxy Rangers can morph, and the Space Rangers might be able to temporarily access it to morph but the rest of us can't."
"Can't Billy fix it? The guy is a genius after all."
"Billy's on Aquitar, Jerome. That's like a couple galaxies away. Besides, it's more of a Power issue than a technology issue. Something is wrong with the morphing grid on Earth; we don't know what."
"Now that college is over for the year Jason and I were hoping to figure out what's wrong."
"Hang on. No offense meant, but a group of teenagers alone couldn't have saved the world. Surely you had a mentor or something to guide you."
"Zordon," nodded Jason sadly. Flatly Tommy added, "He's dead."
"We all miss him," sighed Justin, wiping absently at the bar. "But isn't anything possible when you're a Power Ranger? So maybe…"
"The issue is we're not Power Rangers anymore," Jason interrupted with a bitter smile. Tommy shrugged uncomfortably as he told the others, "I can still access my Ninjetti powers since they're linked to Phardos and not Earth, but that won't help."
"But if all six Rangers with Ninjetti powers, whatever those are, got together and did something couldn't that do something for Earth's grid?" wondered Jerome. Jason thought it over for a moment before nodding slowly.
"That could work, actually. A jolt to the system could get it up and running. I'm worried that some other ancient evil could break free and the Earth would be defenseless against them."
"Problem. That still involves Billy," Tommy observed just before slurping up the last of his smoothie. Jason smacked his forehead.
"Oh yeah… jeez, the one guy who lasted the entire Mighty Morphin era just has to be the one that goes and lives on another planet where we can't contact him."
"But since he and Kim have a telepathic connection surely Kim could give Billy the heads up to come to Earth," commented Justin with a smug smile. Jason and Tommy looked at the almost fourteen-year-old in shock. In tandem they demanded, "What telepathic connection?"
A few days later two red motorcycles pulled up in front of a spacious training gym in the airy, languid city of San Angeles. Underneath the matching red helmets were Jason and Tommy. The latter's hair was restrained by a white bandana that went with his white shirt and worn jeans while Jason wore a dark red leather jacket and jeans. With a heavy sigh he told Tommy, "We better go in."
"Right," Tommy nodded as he dismounted his motorcycle. Quietly the two young men entered the gym. Gymnasts were performing various acts throughout the giant room. Pointing, Tommy commented, "There she is."
"Good," Jason nodded as they walked over to a petite, pretty young woman in a pale pink unitard with her brown hair pulled back tightly into a ponytail on a balance bar. When she flipped elegantly off and made a perfect landing, the first thing she saw when she looked up was Jason and Tommy. She shot them a friendly smile.
"Hey, guys. What's up?"
"Not much," Tommy shrugged as Kim walked over to a bench and wiped her face off with a towel. Jason stuck his thumbs through his belt loops.
"But Justin mentioned something interesting the last time we were at the Juice Bar."
"Ernie's back!" she beamed as she picked up her pink see-through water bottle. "I heard. Isn't it great? I need to go over soon and say hi."
"Yes, but that wasn't what we wanted to talk about."
"What then?" she looked at them curiously as she sipped from her water bottle. Jason told her, "He said that you and Billy have a telepathic connection."
"So you didn't tell us we could contact the smartest Power Ranger via you!" Tommy complained. "We've been stressing out because we couldn't think of a way to get Earth's morphing grid functioning without Billy!"
"Well, I didn't know that," Kim defended herself. "I've been busy preparing for the next Pan-global Games and, and other stuff. So I actually have a life outside Power Rangers- sue me!"
"But you do have a telepathic connection to Billy?" Jason asked. Kim rolled her eyes wearily.
"How did that happen?" Tommy puzzled. "Why didn't you two tell us?"
"Um, we were too embarrassed to. Remember how Billy's brain switching experiment went?"
Jason and Tommy nodded. Kim sighed, "So the two of us switched brains. It was not fun, trust me. But when we went back to normal, after a few weeks we realized that thanks to the experiment we could now communicate telepathically. We also could sometimes sense what the other's up to or what the other is feeling."
"So Billy knew whenever we kissed?" Tommy did not like that idea, even though he and Kim had been just friends for years. Kim smiled wryly.
"He didn't want to, but he did. On the flip side, I knew whenever he kissed someone. Small wonder both of us have been avoiding the dating scene."
"So how come Justin knew and we didn't?" Tommy frowned. Kim flushed guiltily.
"Let's just say I learned the hard way not to drink peach-apricot smoothies. They're as effective as a truth serum on me. Probably a side effect of the Power- you guys might have a certain smoothie like that too."
"Truth serum smoothies. My life is officially weird," Jason groused. Kim nodded sympathetically. "Tell me about it."
"So… could you give Billy a heads up and tell him we really, really need his help?" Tommy smiled hopefully. Kim playfully shoved him.
"Of course I will. I might have a life outside of Power Rangers, but I prefer my life inside Power Rangers."
"Thanks, Kim," Jason told her, relieved. "We'll leave you alone now."
As they walked off Tommy commented, "Actually, Jason, I figure that while we're in San Angeles we might as well visit Mr. Hartford. He's an archeology expert. I'd like his opinion on an artifact I found while on a dig. I brought it along just in case."
Kim shook her head, amused. Tommy was a great guy, but he was so single-minded. She was more… agile, she recalled how Dulcea of Phardos had described her after she had discovered her spirit animal. They wouldn't have been a good match romantically in the long term, but as friends they were just fine. Of course, it wasn't simply a matter of animal spirits; Tommy was still dating Kat, and she was a Crane spirit like Kim. Suddenly a familiar male presence entered her head, and she smiled.
Closing her eyes, Kim mentally replayed the conservation she had had with Jason and Tommy for him. She could feel his acceptance before he consciously was aware of him.
Great! How soon can I expect you?
But I haven't… you know me too well, Kim.
That's the problem with telepathic connections, she agreed gleefully. Spotting three yellow blurs coming her way, Kim told Billy, The hyper trio are coming my way. See you tonight? Around dinnertime?
Count on it, Billy promised before cutting off the link. Arms akimbo, Kim let the three young kids swarm around her. She knew that she should have let the other Rangers know that she was now a foster parent, but she didn't want to overwhelm the three kids with the Power Ranger subculture. The scariest thing about the subculture was that there were only nineteen of them in it, including Kim herself.
Two of the foster kids were ten and one was nine. The nine-year-old, Lily Chilman, had her blond hair with dark highlights pulled back in a ponytail and wore a yellow T-shirt and purple pants. Redheaded, freckled Charlie Thorn, who preferred to be called Chip, wore a yellow shirt, jeans, and a red superhero cape under his olive green backpack. Resignedly Kim noted the toilet plunger poking out of the backpack. Veronica 'Ronny' Robinson was the third and final kid. She had a lean build, a focused face, and dark gold hair in a single long plait down her back; she wore a yellow terry dress and battered sneakers. Smiling Kim asked them, "How did your morning at the library go?"
Once school had let out, the system was that the kids would spend the mornings at the library next to the gym while Kim trained while afternoons were spent together. Chip told her, "It was wicked. I found this really, really old book that's full of ancient heroes and legends. The name Zordon pops up a lot. That's a wicked name. I wish my name was Zordon, but Chip's a pretty wicked name too."
Kim's heart was pounding at this sudden mention of her beloved, deceased mentor but she kept her voice normal. "Maybe I could look at that book sometime?"
"Okay. The librarians let me have it since it's so old, so it's mine now."
"I got books on race cars," grinned Ronny, dumping the pile of said books on the floor. She pretended to be grasping a steering wheel and made engine noises as she ran around the area in a circle. Little Lily smiled happily at her full canvas bag.
"I got books about animals."
"And I checked out a book on plumbing."
Oh dear, Kim sighed to herself. Chip's hobbies invariably led to chaos. His and Ronny's attempt at being mechanics had resulted in her poor pink convertible blowing up and a trip to the emergency room.
"I got a kids' cookbook too, Kim. Could we make pizza tonight?"
"Sure, Lil. But we'll need to make extra."
"Yeah, 'cause I'm hungry!" shouted Ronny as she continued to race around. Kim shook her head.
"No, because a friend of mine is coming over tonight. I want you all to be relatively calm, all right?"
"That means no toilet plungers, no sticking my fingers in electric sockets, no pretending to be a wizard, no jumping off the roof, no jumping off the furniture, no blowing up anything, no pretending to be a monster, no trying to be a superhero, no elaborating on my theories about aliens, and no toilet papering stuff, right?"
"Right, Chip. Lily, no loud music while dancing or pretending to be a cat. Ronny- Ronny!" Kim repeated herself when Ronny just kept running. "Ronny!"
The girl screeched to a halt and looked over at her.
"No running, no pretending to be a race car, and no games. At all, clear?"
Whenever Ronny played a game, any game, she tended to get over competitive in her drive to win. Kim hadn't quite worked out how to break that habit. The girl let out a loud whoosh of breath.
"Fine," and she resumed pretending to be a race car. Kim just shook her head and took Lily's hand in her own, marveling again how small it was.
"Time to go home, guys."
"Yeah, home!" all three cheered, scooping up their belongings and raced towards the door. Kim laughed and gestured to her training outfit.
"I meant it was time to go home after I changed."
"Oh," Ronny grinned sheepishly. "We knew that."