"Are you sure you want to do this?" Conner asked Kira in a warning manner as she stopped their car in front of Hawkins laboratory. "I've heard that it's dangerous to go in there these days."
"I'll be fine," Kira assured him and Ethan. "Now, which one of you is driving next?"
"Me," Conner answered.
"Okay." Kira got out of the car.
"Call us if you need us," Ethan called as Conner got into the driver's seat and began to drive away.
"Goodbye, guys," she whispered after them.
Kira then turned her attention to the building. There was something very sinister about it, but she believed that it would also be very interesting. She walked over to the door and opened it.
"Hello." She spun around at the sound of a scientist's voice. "Who are you?"
"My name is Kira Ford and I was wondering what it was like in a lab."
The scientist was male, with short brown hair and tan skin, with a small beard. He smiled. "Follow me then. I'm Arnold. Also, put on a lab coat." He handed one to her. "You'll need it to get into our human experimental division."
"I'll show you."
He began to lead her through the twists and turns of the laboratory, which began to make Kira nervous, even with the bright lights all around. Maybe Conner was right. Maybe she shouldn't have come here. But what the scientist was about to show her was what she needed to know about. Somehow, she had heard that they were keeping people with special powers prisoner there and experimenting on them. Even Conner, Ethan, Dr. O, or Trent didn't know this. However, one thought quickly passed through her mind. Why was the scientist so trusting of her already? She had also heard that they never allowed anyone in who didn't work there. However, when he pushed her into a bright room and closed the door, muttering "Wait here," as he left, she took a few deep breaths, encouraging herself not to panic. It still wasn't locked. Then she realized there was already someone in there with her.
A fair-skinned girl with a shaved head sat at the table in the center of the room, glaring at he space in front of her. But as soon as Kira took a step toward her, the girl's gaze swiveled toward her. She blinked, slowly taking off her lab coat. "Hi."
The girl spoke slowly, in a warning voice. "Where is Papa?"
"Why do you think I know? You don't even know me."
"Papa left me here."
"I'm sorry about that."
"Can you bring me back to him?"
"I'm afraid not."
The girl's eyes narrowed even more. "You took me away from him."
"I did nothing to you!"
"You're only saying that to save yourself."
"What do you-?" Kira's words were cut off as some kind of energy swept her off her feet and she crashed to the floor. "Ow! Did you do that?"
"No one else is here. You will take me back to my papa right now."
"But I don't know where he is!" she protested, realizing something. If this girl had strange abilities, then she had to be part of this program. Had the scientist left her in here so the girl would think she was someone working there? Was she fighting back? "Don't do anything to me!"
"You took me.'' She had clearly been wanting to get out of there for a while.
"I. Did. Not!" As soon as those words left Kira's mouth, the girl held up her arm in front of her, palm facing away. Kira felt a rush of agonizing pain flash through her body and she was slammed against the door, which then fell open. As soon as it did, she got up and started to run.
"Stop right there!"
Kira skidded to a stop as she saw the scientist from before. Arnold, standing a few feet away in front of her. More scientists surrounded her and she gasped.
"You didn't really think that we'd let you into any of our programs, did you?" Arnold snarled, taking a step toward her. "We knew our subject would eventually fight back. We know who you are. You have nowhere to run."
He pulled out a gun and before she had any time to move, he sent a bullet into her side. Kira cried out in pain, collapsing on the floor.
"Who am I then?" she yelled.
"You're part of the police force hired to bring us down!"
"I'M A POWER RANGER!" she roared back. Those words exhausted the last of Kira's energy.
"I don't care."
She couldn't believe what was happening. No one had ever tried to kill her other than Mesogog and most of his monsters and allies, including Elsa and Zeltrax. Kira pressed a hand against her side, her vision growing blurry as blood seeped through her yellow top. Arnold fired at her again and hit her on the side of the head. Unspeakable pain surged through her and she screamed again before it faded out and she fell unconscious. The bullet, luckily, had not reached her brain, but it had nearly done so and blood was streaming from her side and head.
Then, as soon as the scientists had left, a couple of voices sounded from behind a door in the other direction.
"Do you think everything is alright in there?"
"I hope she isn't in there. I heard gunshots."
"We still have to make sure that someone isn't hurt before we go look for her."
"You're right. Shooting isn't exactly a normal thing to do in a lab."
The door sprang open and Conner, Ethan, Tommy, and Trent rushed inside, halting in shock when they saw the scene in front of them.
Trent was the first to move again. "Kira!" he gasped, darting over to kneel beside her. "No... no..." He and Kira had been in love for a while yet ad he definitely didn't want to lose her.
"What happened here?" Ethan's eyes widened.
"Kira... my love... don't leave me..." Trent looked up at Tommy with terror in his eyes. "Dr. O... do you think Hayley can help her?"
"Then let's go."
Everyone climbed into the car and Trent drove as fast as he could to Hawkins Hospital. Kira had to stay there for a whole month until she was strong enough to make it back to the hotel where the team was staying for their trip to Hawkins. However, when they got there, they began to smell smoke. Then many people ran out shouting, "FIRE!"
Conner called the fire department and the firemen had just arrived and gotten everyone out when someone pointed out that they could still see someone in the building. The chief radioed up to the firemen getting out of the hotel to look for them.
Tommy's heart skipped a beat as he looked over the crowd in front of him. Only one person was missing. He held his breath. It couldn't be...
"We've got her!" the walkie-talkie yelled with a bit of static to it.
An ambulance drove up to the building and the Rangers craned their necks to see who was hurt as one of the firemen came out holding a young, unconscious girl in his arms.
At once, Tommy called, "Hayley!"
It can't be, he was thinking. Not her...
"Hayley?" Kira murmured with a trembling voice.
What had happened to her? As the fireman got closer and the crowd parted to let him through, Tommy could see dark marks on Hayley's neck, in addition to the blood covering her chest, as if someone had tried to choke her. This hadn't been an accident. Someone had been after Hayley and attempted to murder her.
Kira knew who it could have been. That girl from the lab could have been manipulated to do this. Even when she was attacking her before, she had seen the fear in her eyes and realized she was just scared. Or it could be the male scientist Arnold who had betrayed her. She followed Tommy and Trent into the ambulance and Conner yelled to them to call him on updates.
Trent bit his lip as he wrapped his arms around Kira and they sat on the little bench. She leaned into him, trembling.
"We shouldn't have brought her with us," Kira sighed.
"Well, what's done is done," Tommy pointed out.
"Oh, don't pretend you're not freaking out too," Trent replied.
Tommy glanced down at Hayley laying motionless on the bed. "I am. But I've been afraid for a long time that this would happen. You're right. We never should have brought her here."
Kira looked at him in surprise. "What do you know about this? Please tell us."
"I really shouldn't..."
"But we need to know what's going on."
"Fine." Tommy took a deep breath. "Hayley used to work at that lab, around the time when you, Conner, and Ethan first became Power Rangers. That's where she used to go while we were all at school. However, one of the scientists hated the Power Rangers and had convinced everyone to hate them too, since he knew they couldn't solve the problem of the Upside Down. When he found out she was working for the Power Rangers, he chased her away and threatened to kill her and anyone she worked with if she or they came around ever again." He paused to breathe for a moment. "She had mentioned Kira a few times before but when he found out she was a Power Ranger, he was angry. In the lab, someone must have recognized her there and today, he must have set the whole building on fire. It's the only hotel in Hawkins, so he'd know from Kira that she was staying there."
Kira felt a lump form in her throat, but she forced herself to swallow it back. "What was the scientist's name?"
"I think it was Arnold."
The hair on the back of the Yellow Ranger's neck stood up. "Th- that's the name of the one who attacked me at the lab, along with this crazed girl."
"And now he's finally found Hayley again..." Trent whispered, rubbing Kira's back gently.
They soon arrived at the hospital and Kira stayed outside with Trent and Tommy, crying on Trent's shoulder and being pretty much unable to look as Hayley was taken away.
There was no news of her for two months and Tommy was the most worried out of all of the team, for his and Hayley's relationship was like Kira's and Trent's. It was killing him and since the hotel had burned down, they were staying in the hospital itself. Even there, none of them were allowed to see her.
All of a sudden, Conner burst into their large room at 1:00 am in the morning, panting heavily.
"Guys... she's dying... they might be able to help her... but... she's been in a coma for two months and she's asleep now, but woke up earlier tonight... please... just come..."
All the Rangers were light enough sleepers to be woken by his cry. They quietly tiptoed through the hospital until they reached the room where Conner had led them.
"Does she have a roommate?" Ethan asked. "Do hospitals even let people do this?"
"This one does. And no, she does not have a roommate. Come on." Conner slowly opened the door. "Dr. O, you can go in first."
Tommy drew in a huge breath as he entered the room. He could see Hayley clearly in the small lamplight that filtered from the lamp on the nightstand. She looked so small, so helpless. He pulled up a chair next to her bed and grasped one of her hands as he sat down. Her red hair was splayed out on her pillow and her skin was almost as pale as snow. Kira, Conner, Ethan, and Trent stood behind them, wishing that they didn't have to be here.
"Hayley..." he murmured. "We shouldn't have brought you here. I knew your past. I should have warned everyone. It's my fault you're dying."
"No..." Tommy jumped as a whisper of breath came from Hayley's lips and her eyes slowly opened. "Tommy..."
"Hayley, you're alive!"
"O- of course I am..."
"But aren't you..."
"I am, but I still have time left..."
"I'm so sorry..."
Hayley blinked. "It's okay. He was bound to find me anyway." She bit her lip and a tear slipped from her right eye. "I- I just can't believe it... if anything goes wrong later..."
"What are they doing to you?"
She bit her lip again and gestured to an extremely thin tube that was connected to her arm. "This... this is the only thing that's keeping my heart rate from slowing down and stopping. I- I'm getting an operation tomorrow that will make it so I can survive without this. If someone took this out before then... I'd be dead within a few minutes."
"A- are you sure?"
"You really want to test that?"
Tommy was silent, then shook his head.
"Tommy... I'm really scared..."
"Not as scared as I am. Hayley, I don't want to lose you."
"And I don't want to let you go. But... you know it's like 1:15 in the morning, right?"
"I don't care. I'll do anything to stop you from being like this."
"But there's really nothing you can do," Hayley pointed out, breathing out a sigh. "Except... just... pray for me."
"I love you, Hayley." Tommy ran a hand through her chestnut hair. "And I promise I will pray for you. But now... I think we need to get some sleep." He leaned down and kissed her cheek, then stood up.
"Goodnight, Tommy." She smiled weakly. "Trent, Ethan, and Conner... have a good night. Kira, I heard what happened to you before and I'm glad you're all right."
"Thanks, Hayley," Kira said shyly. "Have... have a good night."
The Rangers left the room in silence and Tommy cast a mournful look back at Hayley before closing the door.
She can't be dead, she can't be dead, she can't be dead...
That was the only thought going through Tommy's head the next day as he sat in the waiting room. He kind of wished that Hayley hadn't told him what was happening to her because now he was more worried than ever. He just wanted it to be over so she'd stay alive and they could get out of Hawkins and back to Reefside.
"Tommy?" The Black Ranger looked up as someone called his name. It was Anton Mercer.
"Anton, what are you doing in Hawkins? And in a hospital, no less."
"I just came to see the town and I can also check on Trent while he's here. I also have a friend who lives here that I've been staying with. But I could ask you the same thing." He sat down next to him. "What happened?"
"Kira was trying to find something specific in this town, but when she went back to the lab, she was attacked."
"Isn't that where Hayley used to work and divided her time between there and the cyberspace?"
"Yes, you know the whole story."
"So, is Kira the reason you're here?"
"No. The day Kira did get out of the hospital, about two months ago, we discovered that the hotel we'd been staying in was set on fire. Hayley had been trapped inside and she nearly died. She's been there for two months and today is the day when I'll find out if she's survived."
"Hayley? Oh..." Anton looked away.
"What's wrong? Have you heard something about her?"
"Tommy... Hayley survived, but..."
"She's paralyzed from the waist down and is never going to walk again. They're releasing her today, but she's going to be confined to a wheelchair for life."
"Hayley...?" Tommy winced.
"They're bringing her out now," Anton explained. "Do you want me to go get my son and his friends?"
"That would be very helpful, actually."
"Okay. I'll be back in a moment."
Once he had left, Tommy sucked in a deep breath and closed his eyes. I don't know how to deal with this. Poor Hayley...
And then, as he opened his eyes and there she was. Hayley Ziktor, the one he'd always loved. Anton was right; she was in a wheelchair. She gave a little wave.
"It's okay. I'm okay."
"Hayley, you can't be okay with this. I know you. I know how much something like this would hurt you." He held out his arms and lifted her out of the wheelchair onto his lap.
Hayley sighed. "You know me well." A couple of tears slipped down her face and she was losing the fight to not let more come.
"Don't worry; you'll be okay." As he held her gently against him, he saw Kira, Conner, Trent, and Ethan being led in by Anton Mercer behind her. They soon surrounded the pair.
"You survived," Kira whispered as she wiped a tear from Hayley's face. "I'm so sorry. This was all my fault."
"No, it wasn't," she sniffed. "He was going to find me again anyway."
"But he won't hurt you again," Conner proclaimed, glancing at all of the Rangers before turning back to Hayley and Tommy. Hayley managed a weak smile.
"We'll always protect you," Tommy said.
"And we'll help."
Everyone turned toward another direction toward the voice as a group of kids stepped out in front of them: an African-American boy with a bandanna tied around his head, a meek-looking boy with chestnut hair, a sort of smiling boy with brown curly hair, a confident-looking boy with short brown hair, and a tall girl with long, bright red hair.
"We know who you are," the boy with the short brown hair said. He had been the speaker from before. "We know you're the Power Rangers of Reefside. And we know who you're after."
"You do?" Ethan cocked an eyebrow. "Who are you?"
"My name is Mike." He gestured to his friends. "This is Lucas..." The African-American boy waved. "... Will..." The meek boy gave a timid wave, managing a small smile. "...Max..." The girl nodded, looking pleased. "...and Dustin." The last boy smiled, showing two missing front teeth. "We've even looking for you all afternoon."
"How do we really know you can help us?" Tommy asked.
"Because we have a friend trapped in the laboratory and she can communicate with us within her dreams. She also has the power to move things with her mind."
Kira stiffened and Trent narrowed his eyes. "Well, your friend attacked my girlfriend when she went into the lab."
Mike blinked. "She was trapped in there a long time before she escaped and found us. However, she was captured again later and they've been messing with her mind a lot."
"How do you know who we're after?" Conner snapped.
"It's Arnold. He's the one who recaptured El."
Tommy nodded. "You do know us. I'm Tommy, but you can call me Dr. O."
One by one, the Rangers introduced themselves, then Mike turned towards Hayley. "And who are you? Are you a Ranger too?"
Hayley shook her head. "I'm Hayley and no, I'm not a Ranger." When Tommy explained what had happened to her, the kids looked appalled.
"We have to stop Arnold," Lucas growled. "He's done too much damage to all of us."
While Mike explained their plan, which consisted of bringing someone as bait and then some other teammates would morph and fight him while the kids got their friend Eleven out, Ethan said that Hayley should stay behind at the hospital.
"No, I'd better come too," Hayley said.
"Are you nuts?" Ethan gasped. "You..."
"Just because I can't walk doesn't mean I can't be if some use!" she snapped. "I can be your bait."
"No way," Tommy snarled. "No way." He looked straight at her. "I don't want to lose you again."
"Tommy, I need to do it. He'll definitely be drawn out if I'm there."
"Hey, I may be paralyzed, but that doesn't mean you can stop me. Then you can come out when he tries to attack me."
Kira sighed. "That may be the only plan we have."
Conner agreed. "Let's go get some sleep now. We get up early tomorrow and put the plan into action."
Be careful tomorrow, Hayley, Tommy prayed silently as they went their separate ways for bed. I don't want to lose you for real.