My 2016 fanedit of Face the Raven is again available and will be up on Fanedit.org shortly.
MIGHTY MORPHING POWER RANGERS:
WORTH THE SCAR
Tommy Oliver stared out at the long stretch of road as his friend Jason Lee Scott drove them into two after a two day period of recreation in the mountains.
The heavens were always so inviting when he was younger, so full of mystery. He wondered how clouds could shape, and how people could perceive those shapes as anything their mind permitted.
His mind drifted to how it must feel for Kimberly too as she glided through the clustered clouds with her Pterodactyl Zord, piercing the air with it’s wings.
And then there was what was above even the clouds, through the atmosphere, where the most fortunate and unfortunate of men had graced with bold footsteps, heading towards days of discovery.
“Hey bro, you feeling Ok?” Jason asked, disrupting Tommy’s state of thought.
“Oh, nothing man, just a little rattled is all” said Tommy.
“Our trip was supposed to clear you of those vibes, I’d hate to think it was all for nothing” Jason replied.
“No, no we’re good, the days were good to me..aw man, I don’t know, maybe it’s just the idea of seeing everyone again in this new state of mind, after all we’ve gone through lately…”
“Hey, they understand, we all do. Your powers aren’t at the levels you want them to be, you shorten out, but that doesn’t make you any less of a Ranger or a person” Jason assured him.
Tommy seemed hard to convince.
The car pulled up at the parking lot of Angel Grove High. The two swiftly disembarked, carrying their schoolbags with them as they sought out their friends across the school grounds.
They soon struck pay-dirt, stumbling across Billy Cranston, Kimberly Hart and Trini Kwan.
“Hey guys, how was your trip?” asked Trini.
Tommy walked past them, unsure of what to say.
“Questionable results?” Billy probed.
“Tommy, hey, lean on me, let me know what troubles you” Kimberly asked, placing her arm under Tommy’s own and escorting him into the school corridor.
“Reckon she’ll strip him of that armoured shield of his?” Trini asked of Jason.
“He seemed fine during our retreat” Jason commented.
“Solitude and minimal company is often more comforting than facing the pressures that come with public immersion” said Billy.
Kimberly and Tommy strolled through the corridor, and walked past Bulk and Skull, two of their school’s resident hell raisers.
“He’s looking a bit green there Kimmy, how about you hook up with someone with a cleaner bill of health?” asked Skull, once again trying to hit on the girl who had on multiple occasions repelled his advances.
“First off, your breath isn’t so clean, secondly, you even attempt to ask me out again and you’ll have medical bills to worry about” Kimberly angrily retorted.
“She’s concerned about your hi-gene now. That’s a step up, bet she just loves to play nurse to you in her dreams” Bulk said, sneering.
This started to signal a simmering rage in Tommy, who gave Bulk a damning glare.
Kimberly nudged Tommy along, Skull attempted to follow them but Kimberly aggressively opened a locker, which hit her leering stalker square in the face.
“Tommy, come on, talk to me, even just a little, you can’t keep yourself pent up about like this. It helps to release a little bit. We all thought the retreat would help you let go”
“It did Kim, but what good is letting go when you have to pick it up all over again? When you have to return to the grind and the battles to come knowing you have limits now, I might become a burden to you rather than an ally. You’ll be too busy taking care of me to worry about saving the rest of the world” Tommy admitted.
“The world owes you our care Tommy, you’ve done so much for us before, you’ll pull through for us again. One day, we’ll find a way to replenish you to full power” Kimberly said, comforting Tommy.
Tommy gave Kimberly a generous smile, and kissed her on the forehead as they entered the classroom.
Awaiting them was Ms. Applebie, who directed the students to their seats.
“Be sure not to sit at the one square in the middle, we’ve had reports of it having some loose screws, we don’t want anyone sitting down and being taken on the ride of their life” she warned.
The day’s lesson commenced. A plodding history lesson on the moon landings, but things were to perk up considerably with the announcement by Ms. Applebie of a special lecturer.
“Class, please give a warm welcome to Ms. Grace Sterling of NASADA space operations” Appelbie said.
The class politely applauded as Grace made her entrance, though it was hard to tell whether the enthusiasm from the student body was genuine or if it was just to be courteous. Many of the class did not look that engaged or interested.
Grace’s appearance, however, certainly commanded Billy’s attention.
“This is incredible” he whispered to Jason.
“Wasn’t she the original director of NASADA back in the eighties?” said Jason.
“Yeah, way back when we were little. I remember learning her name, I wouldn’t stop talking to my mom for hours about her” Trini replied.
“I’m surprised she’s still in good standing with NASADA, after all that happened…” said Billy.
“Yeah, that woman was responsible for Angel Grove’s first manned space mission, which ended with Rita escaping” Zack revealed.
“The astronauts who released her never came back from that mission either, there was an inquiry, but she never faced negative consequences for it” Billy added.
“Class? If we can keep the chatter to a minimal, Ms. Sterling would like to start talking” Ms. Applebie
“Thankyou. I know what you’re all thinking…some of you will have heard of my reputation over at NASADA and you’re left with the question, is this another mistake? Is coming into the open to address you that mistake? Is this where I finally admit to a failure? Why come bore you with what you perceive as hollow promises about the joys of space exploration when you know such horrible consequences emerge from it?”
The class was suddenly hanging on Grace’s every word.
“I didn’t come here to tell you about what happened, how guilty I felt about it afterwards, or how I contemplated never to reach for the stars again. I’m here to inform you of what will forever be waiting for us out there, there’s danger, there are also wonders, both come hand in hand on this tiny planet alone and as reality has shown, it awaits us out there too. We have moments of weakness, moments where we feel we can’t do enough because of our limits. You wanted an admission of fault? Here it is. That is the mistake I made. The mistake we ALL make. Giving in to our limitations and letting them know we can be beaten. There is a wealthy universe out there, a worthy universe, and we must deem ourselves worthy if we wish to go on searching for what’s out there rather than stay precisely where we are worrying about it”
The class erupted in adulation, Tommy joined in, this was exactly what was needed to perk him up.
“Thankyou Ms. Sterling for that riveting speech. Is there anything else we can do for you today to show our gratitude?” Ms. Applebie asked.
“I’d like to talk to Tommy Oliver if at all possible” requested Grace.
The class all turned to an anxious Tommy, who was taken by surprise himself, he pointed to himself and silently mouthed “me?”
“What does she want with you?” whispered Kimberly.
“Beats me” said Tommy.
Grace opened the door to the class and urged Tommy to come with her.
“This is a unique opportunity, you’d better take it” Billy insisted.
Tommy steadily got up and strolled past the envious class and joined Grace outside.
Bulk and Skull bumped into him as they finally came in themselves, Bulk having been tended to a throbbing nose Skull had sustained after crashing into the locker Kimberly had opened in front of him.
“Settle down there buddy, here, take a seat there” said Bulk, pointing to the chair in the middle row.
“Guys, trust me, you don’t want to nest yourself there” cautioned Kimberly.
“Save it limp lips” Bulk retorted as Skull sat down on the faulty seat. Sure enough, it gave way and the entire thing collapsed with Skull being thrown to the floor and square on his butt. The class howled with laughter.
“Skull? You Ok? Talk to me” Bulk said.
“I thought I heard the voice of an angel asking how I was” a disoriented, but elated, Skull asked.
“Yeah, and I bet you see flying ballerinas swirling over your head” remarked Bulk.
“You see them too? Then I’m not crazy” replied Skull.
“He does have a point” Trini whispered to Zack.
“You heard it too?” Zack responded.
“From a most unlikely source” Billy said, pointing to Kimberly, who seemingly also found merriment in Skull’s predicament.
“Kim? Worried about him? You feeling ok bro?” asked Jason.
“Affirmative” Billy said.
“When it comes to those two, that is certainly what I’d call a melting iceberg” joked Zack.
Outside the classroom, Tommy and Grace had a talk.
“I hear you’ve become a bit of a sensation around these parts Mr. Oliver…martial arts expo champion, quarterback, star of a tv commercial..” she said, listing off Tommy’s recent banner accomplishments within the school’s calendar year.
“Yeah, it sure doesn’t beat space exploration though” said Tommy.
“Oh I don’t know, maybe you can compare the experiences when you try it for the first time” said Grace.
“I don’t follow you” said Tommy.
“About two days ago, we picked up a distress beacon emitting from space satellite MVAMA 1. It points to a specific location in the rocky mountain perimeter just on the outskirts of the city. Two human life signs were detected, they matched the bio rhythms of Tanner Scott and Jordan Everett”
“Hey, I know them, they’re the two astronauts who released Rita Repulsa from her dumpster” Tommy replied.
“Rita sent their space shuttle back to us over half a year ago, as a pint-sized time warp device, but it’s crew were never returned. We’ve suspected they’ve remained in her custody ever since, now we have proof. We need your help in retrieving them”
“Why me? Why am I important?” Tommy asked.
He of course knew precisely what the answer is, but wanted to know what Grace’s angle was.
“The perimeter is protected by a dark matter energy wave, the kind of power that we detected from the sword you once carried which was destroyed by your friends. We believe you have the ability to bypass that energy field and allow us a clear path to retrieve Scott and Everett”
Tommy was awe struck at the depth of Grace’s knowledge.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I was a Power Ranger, like you. Back in 1960, Zordon recruited me and a few others to intercept a Psycho squadron at Woodstock. All very secretive at the time, he didn’t want Time Force nosing about”
“Time Force?” Tommy asked.
“A little ahead of you…a little ahead of all of us, that’s not important right now, what’s important is I need your help Tommy”
Tommy took a moment to absorb all he had learned.
“Aw man…what will I tell the others?” Tommy continued.
“You can consult with them if you wish, but you were the one closest to Rita, somewhere tucked inside of you are all her dark secrets, secrets we need Tommy, if we can find a way to access them, we stand to have a real advantage in this rescue mission. Will you help us?”
After school had concluded for the day, Tommy assembled his friends at the Juice Bar, where he discussed the situation.
The team hung on his every word until he was finished.
“What do you reckon guys?” Tommy asked them.
“I think she’s using you Tommy, she’s willing to put you in danger knowing the risk is too great for herself” Kimberly argued.
“But if there’s a chance we can rescue those astronauts, shouldn’t we take it?” Tommy continued
“I concur, it’s our duty as Rangers to maintain the well being of every human under threat from Rita” Billy responded.
“Yeah, but Tommy’s powers are failing him, he could put Grace and her team as well as himself at risk” Zack countered.
“Does she even know his weaknesses?” Trini asked.
“Does she even care?” argued Kimberly.
Jason looked towards Tommy, who was again feeling uneasy, he stared out into space, Kimberly clutched his hand and gripped it tightly.
“I’m sorry man, we all want you to be up for this, these are just the cards we’ve been dealt” he said, handing him his half-eaten yogurt to finish off.
“I know man, that’s why I’ll need all of you supporting me, I want to take this challenge on, it’s the right thing to do” Tommy replied.
“Are you absolutely certain Tommy?” Kimberly asked.
Tommy looked at her with earnest eyes.
“Yeah, he’s totally on this” observed Zack.
“We’d better talk to Zordon” Jason suggested.
The teens retreated to the back of the Juice bar and triggered their teleportation circuits on their wrist communicators. Six bright sparkling beams of electrical energy surged through their bodies and catapulted them upwards into the sky and across the rocky terrain of what lay beyond the city, arriving within a large domed structure, home to their allies Zordon of Eltar and Alpha 5.
And they found one other there too.
“Ms. Sterling?” Tommy said as the Rangers discovered Grace in their midst.
“Surprised to see me?” she said.
“I thought nobody could get in here without a power coin” noted Trini.
Grace produced a coin from her pocket
“Completely depleted now, burned it up when tackling my Psycho counterpart. It’s a fun story, I’ll have to tell you about it sometime around the campfire”
“We’re not your scouts” a salty Kimberly snapped.
“With a lip like that, you’d be kicked straight out” Grace remarked.
“Ladies, ladies, simmer down” cautioned Alpha.
“Grace, it is good to see you again” Zordon replied.
Grace smiled, and folded her arms.
“Still bald I see…didn’t I tell Alpha to adjust your appearance somewhat? Maybe make you look a bit more beatnik? Or maybe a bit of a punk?” she said.
“I’d have to be one bad ‘bot before I ever try to lay graffiti on Zordon” he said.
“Fair enough, I just think if you’re going to recruit teenagers with attitude, you should show a little of it yourself” Grace argued.
“I may not share in the exuberance of the youth I recruit, but I still learn a great deal. Your experience as leader of my covert Power Ranger team gave me the kind of insight I needed to make my most recent selections” Zordon assured her.
Grace was touched by the compliment.
She turned to address the remaining Rangers.
“I know what you’re thinking, that you don’t trust me, that you think I’m a glory hound just looking for a quickfire way of redeeming myself in the eyes of the public, but believe me, if I were so eager to use you as weapons I would have sold you all out to our military powers in a minute. No, this is simply me seizing an opportunity to save two lives from a tyrant, I helped send them into the fire, it’s only right I try to put that fire out”
“You don’t have to put our friend’s life at risk” Kimberly insisted.
“Were there any other member of your team, I’d welcome their assistance, if there any other course of action, believe me, I would take it, but your friend possess something you don’t. We have an advantage over Rita we need to exploit” Grace revealed, hoping that Kimberly, the most stubborn and hardest to persuade of the six, would see sense.
Grace turned to Zordon hoping he would back her reasoning.
“Grace has informed Alpha and I of the situation Rangers. The mass of darkness forming around the city outskirts and shielding Scott and Everett has the potential to inflict even greater harm on your own Ranger forms than anything drawn from the sword Tommy possessed under Rita’s control. If there is to be a rescue attempt, only Tommy is capable of the task”
Kimberly felt all this wasn’t fair to the team. Tommy had just come back to them, even if he was not at one hundred percent, he still gave it his all. Now he was being asked what she perceived as way too much when he could offer so little, especially at this crucial moment when he felt drained and unsure of anything.
She noticed Tommy staring at the viewing globe, which had settled on an image of a quiet, clear blue lake with a small cabin and a sharp-edged mountain overlooking it, almost touching the clouds.
This was the cabin he had spent the past few days with Jason.
“Talk to me” Kimberly asked, gently rubbing her right hand on Tommy’s strong back.
“When we were up there…I felt it Kim, I felt something calling to me, this sense of absolute peace…and when we came down from the mountains it was replaced by an even louder echo of doubt and emptiness, only magnified ten times more…it felt alien”
“Your doubt?” Kimberly asked.
“No, not the doubt, the peace” Tommy revealed. Kimberly was taken aback by this.
“Funny idea right? That something that should make you feel so clear is instead something that you recognise as foreign, like it doesn’t belong to your psyche”
“Tommy, listen, it’s Rita, somehow she’s tapped into your mind again, she’s trying to make you think these things”
“Man, Is this the kind of weapon Rita’s resorting to now? To take our opportunities for recreation and use them to deconstruct us?” Tommy said, the anger in his voice rising. It scared Kim.
“Tommy, we should tell Grace about this” Kimberly said, hesitating to keep her voice down, wanting to speak louder so that Sterling could hear her.
“No, no if I’m the only chance those guys have of getting under Rita’s thumb, I can’t jeopardise that” an assertive Tommy concluded.
“Ok, Ok, but we’ll keep an eye on things over here. The slightest bit of trouble and we’ll come down” Kimberly insisted.
“Well Mr. Oliver, our time for decision making is up, can I count on your cooperation?” Grace asked.
“One hundred percent” said Tommy.
“Then we’d better head back to my base camp. Zordon will teleport us there” said Grace.
“Take care man” said Jason, forming a fist and bumping one hand against Tommy’s own.
“You’ll always have the power inside, not just out” Zack added.
“Shall we go?” Grace said.
“May the power protect you both” Zordon said, maintaining, as always, his composure in light of such an emotional and high stakes situation.
“Coordinates locked, teleportation in progress” Alpha said.
Consumed by sparkling energies, Tommy and Grace left the Rangers’ command centre and towards their mountainside rendezvous overlooking the city.
Meanwhile, far above the planet Earth, on the surface of the moon, within a vast lunar palace, Rita Repulsa, a servant of pure evil, and worn enemy of the Power Rangers and Zordon, plotted her next move.
She watched from her Repulsascope, keeping tabs on everything occurring on the Earth, and watched as her two prisoners, Scott and Everett, squirmed and struggled, bound together by rope.
Rita’s enforcer, the fearsome warrior Goldar, arrived.
“The barrier of darkness is in place my Queen, all is prepared” he said.
“Excellent, soon Tommy will faced with temptation that even a Power Ranger can’t pass up” Rita replied, cackling.
Having touched down, Tommy and Grace made their way over Grace’s camp, Tommy stopped for a brief moment to take in the surrounding area. From a short distance he could make out the cabin retreat where he and Jason had spent a few days training and meditating in.
Grace walked over to him, curious as to what he was thinking.
“This view giving you some fond memories?” she asked.
“I didn’t think I’d be back here so soon…part of me is relieved” Tommy said, taking slow and deep breaths as his lungs took in the crisp and clear air around him. Here there were toxic fumes of car exhaust or foul odours from the unwashed hecklers in class to confound his senses.
Here was no pressure, only peace.
And then his mind turned to the conversation he had with Kimberly earlier, and whether or not the calm was indeed nothing but a weapon being used against them.
He could not afford to make an enemy of clarity, not at this most crucial of hours. Besides, the overwhelming sense of fulfilment substituted for his forcefulness in driving the negative thoughts from his mind.
“Take me to your camp, now’s not the time to waste on splendor” Tommy spoke, and the two resumed their journey.
Finally making it to the camp, Grace introduced Tommy to one other individual.
He was a tall, stone-faced and clean shave blonde who was quite able at playing musically with spoons and was wearing headphones.
Tommy extended his hand to him.
“Hey, good to meet you, I’m Tommy” he said.
The blonde took his headphones out and asked Tommy to repeat his introductions.
“I said I’m Tommy” he said.
“Do you play anything?” the blonde asked.
“No, not really” Tommy admitted.
The blonde turned to Grace, looking distinctly unimpressed.
“He has no song in his heart, it is well that we desire only his mind” he said, tutting and putting his headphones on again.
“is this the part where you say I should probably ignore him?” Tommy asked. Grace laughed.
“I wish it were that simple. The success of our mission relies on trusting him. This is Borg, he’s one of NASADA’s top level navigators. Knows every inch of this sector, and he’s quite set in his ways, he absolutely loves music. Power rock in particular” she said
“Figures” Tommy muttered, as something else came to him.
“What did he mean about needing my mind?” he asked.
“Borg isn’t just a travel guide, that’s his day job. He’s one of the top psychics in the city, he can unearth that which dwells beneath what we possess on the surface of the mind…like I told you Tommy, you have secrets stored somewhere in there that can help take down the barrier of darkness” Grace explained.
“You seem really insistent on uncovering what’s in my head, what if I don’t like what you’ll find there? You might awaken something inside of me, a booby trap Rita left behind. Maybe that’s why I’ve felt so unclear since coming back from here” Tommy replied, again relieved that the pressures of his self-doubts were barely affecting him up here at the top of the summit.
“Whatever we find, we’ll put it to good use…you’re in good hands here Tommy. Trust me, from one Ranger to the other, you’ll have all the help, all the power you’ll need, to overcome Rita’s evil” Grace said, reassuring him.
“Borg, take us to the perimeter, let’s get our boys out of there” she said.
The remainder of the Rangers observed the journey of the three from the Command Centre. The person paying the most attention was Jason, something which did not go unnoticed by the others, Kimberly in particular.
“Nickel for some of those thoughts Jason?” she asked.
“I can’t get my head around how Tommy’s been acting since leaving the mountains…he must feel pretty lucky to be heading back there. It’s as if he lost a piece of himself while up there”
“Or maybe being outside the perimeter of society’s norms is the reason he feels more sufficient” theorised Billy.
“He’s tried to be many different things to many different people lately, maybe he isn’t being allowed to be himself, maybe he feels he is lost in the machinery” Trini added.
“Something still doesn’t add up, but it’s been like this ever since he came back with only a fraction of the power he possessed before”
“I’m not about to give up on him Jason. He’s done so much for us in the span of the year, it feels like we’ve known him for far longer…he’s a part of us, just like the power is”
Jason’s eyes were suddenly alight as a realisation hit him.
“That’s it..it’s so simple. We’ve had these powers for a while, when Tommy lost his abilities the first time, Zordon said his body had to morph back to it’s original state, we witnessed what it was doing to him after he transferred the power, it was causing him physical pain, he was physically breaking down. The powers are a part of us, and it’s like losing a limb, or coping with a handicap, like a missing arm or a leg with minimal mobility” Jason explained.
“Woah, so Tommy feels like he’s missing a vital part of his body? No pun intended, but you’re going out on a limb with this one” remarked Zack.
“It’s the explanation that fits Zack, and I think it’s a weakness Rita is exploring. How long has this barrier of Darkness been up anyway? Was it up when we were up at the retreat?” Jason replied.
“Impossible, the command centre’s long range scanners would have picked up any insidious activity from Rita” Alpha insisted.
Zordon, however, had a theory of his own.
“Not unless Rita has been siphoning off portions of positive energies lifted from Tommy when he originally possessed the Green Ranger abilities” Zordon said.
“Using what was left of her Green Candle” Zack realised in alarm.
“Your instincts are spot on Zachery” complimented Zordon.
“Yeah, furthering Jason’s theory, if our powers are also a part of our cellular make-up, then everything that makes up our positive and negative vibes is tuned to it also” Billy added
“Jason , what exactly is it you’re suggesting?” a tense Trini inquired.
“That Rita surrounded our retreat with energies that made up part of Tommy’s psyche, disrupting his inner fulfilment and making him feel what he’d lost magnified by a hundred fold. When he came down from the mountains, he was made to feel like the answer to his troubles remained where he’d previously been and couldn’t follow him back into the active world” Jason revealed.
“Tommy was right, and so was I. I knew it was Rita getting into his head” Kimberly realised, her instincts having been dead on.
“But if that’s true, then Rita wants Tommy to stay there…meaning…” Trini began, only to be cut off by Kimberly, who shared her suspicions, and who was more than willing to say what her best friend was thinking.
“Grace…guys, do you think she’s luring him into a trap?” Kimberly asked.
“Impossible Kimberly, Grace was a Power Ranger, she saved the entire world” Alpha said in protest.
“But she sounds like she’d do anything to get those astronauts back…she’s willing to take Tommy back to the mountains despite his power loss, what if she’s taking advantage of how vulnerable he is? What if she’s willing to strand him there, she takes the astronauts back, becomes a big hero, and we never see Tommy again?”
“Be wise of what you say Kimberly, these are dangerous questions to ask that could unbalance the very trust we have in the judgement of the Morphing GRID. You are asking us to suspect a valued ally of treason” Zordon cautioned.
“Can you blame me? Times have changed Zordon, for her, for you, maybe even for all of us since Tommy came back. We have to look at every option. Send me down there, Tommy needs me”
The alarm bells in the Command Centre suddenly went off, signalling danger.
“Oh no, what now?” Kimberly asked.
“Goldar and Scorpina are attacking the children’s activity park south of the city” Zordon revealed.
“That’s Rita for you, all work and no child’s play” remarked Zack.
“We’ll take care of this Zordon” Jason promised.
“Alpha, keep a sharp eye on Tommy and Grace, let me know if she makes the slightest ill-advised move” Kimberly requested.
The five teenagers held their morphers up, with a unifying cry of “IT’S MORPHING TIME” from Jason, they uttered the names of the prehistoric spirits that they drew their great power from.
A bright shimmering light ignited within the command centre as the five transformed into the Power Rangers.
Soon, five streaks of light formed around where their bodies were and they found themselves rocketing out of the command centre and through the sky en route to another clash with Rita’s lethal monsters.
On the moon, Rita watched the activities of the Rangers.
“A little distraction from the real danger that awaits them..they best not be hopeful their friend will come back to them as the same man they knew…whichever way he chooses, he will forever live under only one shadow. Mine.”
Back at the mountains, Tommy, Grace and Borg were well on their way, Tommy opted to make conversation with the psychic.
“So, you know your way around these mountains, you ever think of settling down here? Wide open spaces, wilder minds to tap into with the animal life around here…hey, there’s a thought, how come you psychics never try that with animals anyway?” Tommy asked.
“You’re starting to sing, but I still don’t hear a choir” Borg responded with a dismissive tone.
“You talk in riddles, swell” Tommy said, throwing his arms in the air as he struggled to reply with something that satisfied the guide.
“He likes associating things with music, helps him focus on the task” Grace replied.
“Don’t you think that makes him a bit of a caricature?” Tommy asked.
“It’s his way” said Grace.
“Well, I’d help if I could, but man am I a terrible singer” Tommy remarked.
Borg handed Tommy a couple of his spoons, he asked him to hold up one in the air.
“What, is this the part where you bend it or something to show how powerful you are? I’ve seen that trick plenty of times” Tommy said.
“Raise your voice” he said.
“I told you, I can’t sing” Tommy replied.
“He doesn’t mean your literal voice” Grace explained, “He wants you to share what it’s in your mind”
“What does this have to do with the spoons?” Tommy asked.
“Just concentrate, look into the spoon, see what’s reflected back at you” Grace said.
Tommy did as instructed; he watched his reflection in the spoon, thinking about his most recent past, touching on the day his powers were taken from him.
Within his mind’s eye, the reflection changed from a tall, lean handsome man to a dishevelled and broken individual who appeared to be visibly ageing.
“I-I see myself lost, drained” Tommy said.
“That’s understandable, it’s what you’re feeling now” Borg explained, “We want you to go further than that. We want to prepare you mentally for what you’re to go through…think back further, to when you were completely lost to the darkness, not just when you were haunted by it, but when you fully embraced it as a companion, a teacher, when it was a part of your voice, a part of your song”
“Aw man, I really hate music lessons” Tommy remarked.
Nevertheless, he did as he was told. He could feel a tangible link between himself and the power within himself, more than he’d been feeling previously.
“Can you sense your song?” Borg asked, giving Tommy his headphones and playing a soothing country track to keep the young man’s senses soothed as it delved into forces that threatened to shatter them.
“I sense it, it’s coming closer…so near, nearer than it’s been since the sword was broken…” Tommy revealed, small pockets of sweat beginning to form on his forehead.
“Pinpoint it’s exact source, describe your sensation” Borg instructed.
Tommy blinked several times, he felt quite dizzy, the grip he had on the spoon was steadily weakening, but he knew he could not lose sight of his reflection, inner or outer, at this crucial juncture.
“I can hear two words, words I’d heard when I was serving under Rita” Tommy revealed.
Grace was most interested.
“Can you say the words Tommy?” she asked.
Tommy could barely maintain his focus any longer as the pressure of tapping into the darker recesses of his core memory became too much, the words did not wish to be too clear, but he forced them to the surface, as well as his sensation.
“Desire…control…and…something else, I’m…starving” said Tommy, before the spoon finally slipped from his hand and he almost collapsed to the floor.
Grace and Borg helped steady him.
“Rita’s hold over you has to do with desire and control, your hunger is for power” Borg revealed
Suddenly, the group were surrounded by a dozen or so grey clay-like soldiers, making an unintelligible noise.
“Putties” Tommy said, taking out his morpher and holding it to the sky.
“Grace, you and Borg find some cover” Tommy said.
Grace did as instructed, and took Borg around the back of a nearby pile of boulders, peering their heads around the boulder to catch a glimpse of the unfolding action.
A swirl of raw green energy encircled him and Tommy became the Green Power Ranger.
He immediately threw himself into battle, nailing the putties with precision kicks and strikes, though they would retaliate with thunderous punches, some of them were even brandishing weapons welded to their clay arms, which cut deep into Tommy’s body.
Tommy could barely concentrate with the country rock playing, the headphones and walker still attached to his ears underneath his helmet, so he switched tracks to something a bit more of a kick to it.
And so you fell into the danger
And you’re all alone tonight
Well you’re surrounded by the hurtin’ type
And you just don’t care for the sight
Well, we’ll come runnin’ to your side
We will protect you from your fright
All of us our on your side
We’ll take them
We’ll take them… down
Grace and Borg witnessed the battle unfold. Despite Tommy being slightly more motivated it was an even fight. Both sides were gaining swift advantages over the other.
“Tommy will be spent mentally and physically through this fight, we need him at peak levels if we are to breach the barrier of darkness” Grace assessed. Borg went through his pockets, and found something of use.
“Smoke bombs, perfect” Grace said.
The two disembarked from their hiding place and tossed the smoke grenades on to the floor. The Putties were left lost and confounded, allowing the three travellers to make good the escape and resume their journey.
Tommy demorphed , but was left exhausted from the experience. He relied on the shoulders of Grace and Borg as they carried him the rest of the way.
Finally, the three arrived at their destination.
“There they are” said Grace, pointing to two individuals nested against a large slab of rock, wearing NASADA space gear, their helmets off, bound and gagged, both attempting to let out a cry for help.
“Scott and Everett” said Borg, approaching where they were.
“Get back man” said Grace.
Borg heard the warning too late, and reached out to the two, a powerful, fleshly form of energy surged through his body and catapulted him backwards, causing him to land roughly back in front of Grace and Tommy.
“The barrier of darkness?” said Tommy.
“We’re lucky nothing worse happened to him” Grace replied.
“So, it all comes down to this…what do I do? Do I just stand still, click my fingers and it opens?” Tommy asked, producing a finger snap to prove his point.
To their astonishment, this seemed to do the trick.
“You have access to Rita’s song inside you, it recognises it, it will give you access” said a weakening Borg, beckoning Tommy to enter the open barrier.
He did so with precision care, Grace followed. The barrier closed behind them, cutting off any attempt at help from the outside.
“Ok, so now what? This looks all too easy” Tommy asked Grace.
Grace knelt down to untie her friends, only to be electrocuted by a spark of sickly looking emerald energy.
“Don’t come near us, we think we’ve been booby-trapped” warned Everett.
“Here, let me try” said Tommy, trying to untie Everett only to be struck by the same dark energy bolt.
“I don’t understand, I thought the barrier of darkness fed off the raw energy of Rita’s darkness in my mind, I should be able to override what’s been done to these two” Tommy said, mulling over the predicament with frequent patches of mental guesswork, scrambling to come up with a solution.
“You have not yet made the choice Tommy” came a calculating and cold voice echoing from the heavens. It was Rita.
“What choice Rita?” said Tommy.
“You can only select one of my prisoners to take with you, and the barrier of darkness has harnessed the code words I placed in your mind when you first came into my servitude…what you have long desired, what you hope to gain.”
“Desire and control” Tommy realised.
“They have now been made manifest, they are represented by these two prisoners” Rita explained. “The choice is simple, one will maintain your greatest desire, another will give you back control of your fragile state beyond this perimeter. That which leaves with you will remain a part of your soul forever. Choose wisely, or unwisely, it makes little difference Tommy Oliver, one of these days you will realise just how deep a scar I have left on you”
Tommy was lost in thought.
This was a chess game, and it seemed like Rita was making all the right moves. He had to find a fault.
“How do you know my choice will cost me anything? If I choose desire, I could have anything my heart wants, which could be the safety of my friends” Tommy replied, hoping he could make a swift move that would stop Rita’s game in it’s tracks.
“You could, but you would not possess the mental control to win another battle…you will only delay their ultimate defeat. They will fall sooner or later…besides, we know what your desire is, we know from your hunger. You desire power Tommy, and not just the power I stripped away from you, but power absolute”
Tommy turned to Grace, concern and frustrating in his eyes.
“It’s true, isn’t it Grace? Borg told me that too…I didn’t want to believe it. Guess I’m just human” said Tommy.
“Yes, you’re human, you possess great power, and even greater responsibility in wielding it…but you have your moments of weakness, these are desires you suppress in the name of the right thing” Grace said, giving the young man a needed pep talk.
“Take back control, and you will need it to keep the guilt at bay all your days, take back your desire, and you will be faced with the prospect of absolute power with no means of controlling yourself, you will be corrupted, and your friends will turn against you. Either way, you will be left broken. Choose who to save Tommy, but know you can never salvage yourself” said Rita. “You do not possess the will to walk away from either option, you protect the innocent, you are a Power Ranger ”
“You’re right Rita, I am a Power Ranger…but so is she” said Tommy, pointing to Grace.
“Which one are you?” Grace asked Tanner.
“I can hear a word repeating itself over and over again in my head…desire, I am desire” Scott confirmed.
“I hear it too, I’m control” said Everett.
“Great, that’s just what I wanted to hear” Tommy said, untying Everett.
Grace walked over to the bound Scott, and untied him.
Rita let out a damning scream as the dark energies surrounding Tommy and Grace dissipated.
“What happened?” Tommy said.
“I think it has something to do with me…my darkness, what I’ve been through since Scott and Everett went missing, perhaps now that we’re both fulfilled, it’s negating the barrier’s energies”
Back at the Command Centre, Zordon and Alpha watched on proudly as all five individuals made their way down the mountainside.
“Our faith in Grace was well placed Alpha” Zordon said with great confidence, “It was her drive and desire that ultimately provided the necessary counter-balance to Rita’s evil”
“You will never be free Tommy, you may have control, but you will be left unfulfilled for the rest of your days” Rita uttered, snarling.
“We all keep our power in check Rita, even you. I can live without the desire to conquer all, what I care about at the end of the day is having the control necessary to conquer you” Tommy vowed.
He triggered his communicator and patched through to the Command Centre.
“Zordon, teleport Grace and the others to Angel Grove’s medical facilities” said Tommy.
“It shall be so Tommy, in the meantime make your way over to the children’s activity park, your fellow Rangers need you” Zordon replied.
“Do you have enough juice?” Grace asked.
“Yeah, I reckon so. I feel pretty replenished, guess the barrier of darkness wasn’t quite through with me” said Tommy.
“Residual energy” said Borg.
Tommy held his morpher high and cried out the name of his mighty Dragonzord to draw on his limited, but otherwise stable powers, as the Green Ranger.
Everett and Scott, all of this was too much and they fainted just as the teleportation effect kicked in, taking them, Grace and Borg back to the city.
Tommy in the meantime was teleported to the scene of the Rangers latest battle with Goldar, Scorpina, and the putty patrol.
“Tommy, you’re back” said Kimberly with great relief in her voice.
“Yeah, and while my powers at not at a hundred percent, I certainly feel that way” said Tommy.
Realising he still had Borg’s headset and Walkman, Tommy played another track while he helped his fellow Rangers put away their opponents
No, we cannot see, who are we to look to.
No, We cannot hear, what is to believe in.
And we keep dreaming of a world where all is good so we were told, We Need A Hero.
And we keep dreaming of a time where good is all that we can find, we need a…
we need a…
No, we cannot tell, who’s the one to lead us.
But you know that we’ll be there, waiting for them to find us.
And we keep dreaming of a world where all is good so we were told, We Need A Hero.
And we keep dreaming of a time where good is all that we can find, we need a…
we need a…
With their opponents on the verge of defeat, the Rangers came together to assemble the power laser.
The Rangers weapons were unified as one, producing a mighty weapon which froze Goldar and Scorpina in their tracks. They opted to flee.
“Alright, we’ve pushed them back” said Jason.
“Just in time and feeling fine” Zack said, complimenting Tommy.
The next day, news of Everett and Scott’s recovery reached the local news stations.
“There was jubilation yesterday in Angel Grove when missing NASADA astronauts Tanner Scott and Jordan Everett, part of the space mission that resulted in the release of Rita Repulsa and her lethal monsters, were returned to the city. They are said to be in a stable condition, though their traumatic experience has left them most disoriented and have left them with substantial memory loss. NASADA’s Grace Sterling credited the retrieval of the two to the fearless Power Rangers. Angel Grove’s Mayor today issued the following statement: This city once more owes them a debt we can only hope to one day repay”
“Hey, she didn’t take credit. I guess scouts honour counts for something after all” Kimberly said as the six friends gathered at the youth centre to listen in to the news broadcast.
“Yeah, and that’s the irony, since without her I wouldn’t have been able to crack Rita’s dark shell” said Tommy.
“Rita had all the right moves, but didn’t count the number of pawns there were in the game, check and mate” Billy stated.
“So now that you don’t need to be as distant as a mountain range, what are you planning to do for the rest of the remaining weekends in the year?” Trini asked.
“I was thinking we could do enter a cross country four-wheeler race and raise some funds for charity” Tommy revealed
“You mean, you want to head back into the wild open spaces?” Kimberly said.
“Yeah, one thing about having a sound mind is letting it get by with what’s good for the soul. Having the kind of control that I do now means I don’t have to worry about not feeling so good when I get back to the daily grind”
“A toast, to fulfilling your desires…well intentioned ones at that” said Jason.
The six friends raised their glasses of spinage juice to one another, all smiling, all happy.
Tommy let his mind drift just for a moment, back to what Rita had told him.
“One of these days you will realise just how deep a scar I have left on you”
He wondered if saving a life was worth the scar.
Maybe if he pushed himself to do the right thing all of his days, then he’d be well prepared for when that scar revealed itself.
One of these days.
EXTRACT FROM ANOTHER SERIES
“Hi, I’m Troy McClure, you may remember me from such tv movies as “To Have and to Hold My Beer”, and “Where There’s A Wi-Fi, There’s No Will”. Today I have a very special treat for you, a recently rediscovered deleted scene from the pilot episode of Chief Wiggum: P.I, that long-running series starring Springfield’s very own Chief Clancy Wiggum and Seymour Skinner. The scene covers a great deal, and there’s even more to expect from everyone’s favorite family The Simpsons as they drop in to wish both of their old friends luck. Let’s drop in on them now…”
“Well family, we’re here, and just in time for Mardegras” said Homer as the family car came to a halt.
“I wasn’t aware you knew what day Madegras festivities fell on” said Bart.
“I still don’t, it just happens to be going on as I parked the car” said Homer.
“Homer, you’ve parked right in the middle of the whole thing” observed Marge as they stepped out into the street.
“Now, we’ve got two options…one is we join in on all the activity, largely to avoid being caught for disrupting the thing, or we could go and visit our old friend Clancy Wiggum”
“Dad, you’re not friends with him, he’s arrested you more than a couple of times and his son stalked Lisa” remarked Bart.
Lisa savagely elbowed Bart in the shoulder for his trouble.
“What’s up with you?” said Bart.
“Leave Ralph alone, he was confused at the time, besides he did a lot of nice things for me in those days” said Lisa, trying to conceal how hurt she was.
Bart quickly caught on to why she was acting funny.
“I knew there was a reason we came here, it’s because you want to check up on him isn’t it? You never got a chance to say goodbye to him when he left Springfield” Bart realized.
“Mom, tell him to keep his inquiring mind at bay” Lisa pleaded.
“Look dear, Lisa has been thinking about Ralph a great deal, I remember I pushed my sisters to take me to the east coast just so I could hand an old friend of mine, Patricia Phelps back her jump-rope after it spent a good seven years in my care”
“Hey, I was the one who had to retrieve that, my car broke down and your sisters volunteered to drive me the rest of the way, then they left me there. You had to pick me up, how can you not remember that?” Homer replied.
Marge hummed to herself.
“Sometimes to make one feel good about yourself with a cherished memory, it’s necessary to invent one”
“I just worry about how Ralph is keeping up” Lisa explained, “First his dad gets fired for mass corruption, then his parents divorce. He’s such an innocent, delicate soul, you can break his heart pretty easily”
“You speak from experience” Bart said.
“Mom” Lisa yelled.
“Don’t tease your love-struck sister dear” said Marge.
“Mom” Lisa aggressively whispered.
“Oh, right, should have left that part out” said Marge.
“It’s more guesswork than actual fact” said Lisa.
“Yes, but the way you told me to keep quiet indicates otherwise” replied Marge.
“Let’s just try to focus on the important things shall we?” insisted Lisa.
“Yeah, like finding out just what kind of depths even our ex Principal Skinner is sinking to around here. I heard he moved here along with Wiggum” said Bart, rubbing his hands together with a mischievous energy.
“That whole Tamzarian business really did bring his whole world crashing down, he’s got just the right kind of backstory needed to fit in to a shadier world like this” Marge observed.
“All the more reason to give him one last phase of torture” Bart revealed.
“I think I spot Wiggum, let’s dress up and sneak up on him” said Homer, lifting a Mardegras outfit off of a citizen and placing it on Bart.
Lisa took a look around, she was certain she had spotted someone she had been longing to look at again, she was sure she had spotted Ralph in the crowd riding the shoulders of an altogether different person.
And he looked happy.
Lisa breathed a sign of loving relief at that.
“Well folks, while Lisa remains oblivious to the fact Ralph was spending time with his kidnapper, what can I say to something that touching other than maybe ”Too bad you can’t get to touch it..for now”, that deleted scene can’t be found on the upcoming official DVDs unfortunately, but they can be found as a hidden Easter Egg. A literal one. Try to find them scattered around your local parks. Until then, I’m Troy McClure, you can expect me in some upcoming projects as ‘Three Days of the Doctor” and “Where’s Your Hummer Gone?”. Thanks for watching”
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN:
MOMENTS OF NEED
(Contains spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man#1 by Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley)
When a weary and troubled Peter Parker dropped by Mary Jane Watson’s apartment, It was one of those moments in time where everything paused, and all that was laid out before them was their eternity together.
Thier eternity as friends, as lovers, as partners.
Reality had meddled in those moments, diminished them, stripped them of the belief those moments could be eternal, and they had been more than content to invite this cruel paradigm in.
But recent days, recent events, had drawn them closer to their eternal connection once more.
As Peter bore his soul to her, as he had done so many times, and was as unsure and as frightened as he’d ever been when sharing his failings and insecurities, Mary Jane had thought it motivated by the recent death of Flash Thompson, sacrificing his life to halt the rampage of the vindictive and calculating Norman Osborn.
She thought it’d even had something to do with how willing she’d been to stand side by side with him and Venom against Osborn.
Perhaps these moments in their endless waltz together had touched him as much as it’d touched her, causing her to reflect on what she had come to reject in the past, perhaps realizing that it was, again, just another instance in eternity of all too fleeting hesitation.
Peter continued, telling her that he was uncertain of whether or not he was making a mistake, apologizing for asking this much of her.
But Mary Jane didn’t care much for the insecure moments, she focused on the one precise moment that counted.
The moment of need.
It was Peter conveying his need for her in his life, to help him survive the unsustainable moments, that convinced her, at this precise time, to embrace Peter with a warm embrace and a gentle reaffirming kiss.
He had told her he was in need of her once before, back when they were trapped in an airport under siege, and some anguished part of her had always told her Peter had salvaged something back then, something she felt was just out of her soul’s reach, but one she felt compelled to grasp through this latest re-connection.
If there was something that had been lost, it would be found again…perhaps even born again.
All it took to draw her back into Peter’s world were those precise moments of need.
“We’re in this together Pete…and we always have been” she said to him, as their endless waltz resumed again.
GOTTA CATCH YA NOW!
BASED ON “GOTTA CATCH YA LATER!”
With the Johto League Super Conference behind them, Ash and his friends decide to take a well-earned rest in Viridian City before they began the short journey back to Ash’s home of Pallet Town.
As they stood atop a small hill on the road leading into Viridian City, the three friends took in the lush woodland around them. The mixture of scented flowers and brisk air awoke strong nostalgic memories in Ash, memories of family, and of one day in particular.
So strong was the memory that Ash could hear the voices of the past echo all around him
“You be good to your Mom”
“Can I step into the wild you Dad?”
“Come and catch me”
“Ash? Is something the matter?” asked a concerned Misty
Ash, on the defensive, looked her in the eye and let out a hefty laugh.
“Never better Misty”
Ash’s faithful Pikachu had taken to the green around the travelers, searching for some wild Pokemon to chase about or to even battle so his partner could catch a few. It loved a challenge, and despite being exhausted from his Johto experience, was eager to keep his battle prowess in tip top condition.
But there was to be no playtime of this caliber to come, as Ash beckoned Pikachu to get a move on as they made their way through the forests.
“Hold up a second Ash, Misty’s shoelaces have come loose” said Brock.
Ash, however, was drifting in and out again, the nostalgic pull of the voices in his head compelling him to think back to simpler times.
“Don’t you leave me behind Ash Ketchum” snapped Misty as she tied her shoelaces together.
For some reason, it was this that caused Ash to snap back out of his trance-like state.
“What? Oh, yeah, sure Misty, I promise” he said dismissively as Misty caught up with them.
“Our first port of call ought to be the Pokemon Center” said Brock enthusiastically.
Ash and Misty gave each other knowing looks, they knew what he really wanted.
“Keen to try your luck with Nurse Joy again I see” Ash remarked.
“We see Joy in virtually every town” Misty added.
“See, yet never handle. That’s due to change” said Brock, oozing confidence.
Heading into the city, the Pokemon Center was indeed the first port of call for the young trio, and Nurse Joy was of course there to greet them.
Ash handed in his pokeballs, each containing a well worn-out Pokemon still recuperating from their exhausting battles.
“I couldn’t help but notice you’re carrying one too many balls, mind if I help lighten your load?” Brock asked, trying his best to conceal his flirtatious intentions by earning his way into Joy’s good graces.
Joy, however, was having none of it.
“I’m afraid the ball is out of your court” said Joy, and gripped one Pokeball she couldn’t carry by hand in her teeth, carrying all of them over to the resuscitator.
Brock sighed. Misty patted him on the shoulder.
“Nevermind Brock, you’ll get the balls rolling some day” Misty.
A distraught Brock looked Ash’s loyal Pikachu dead in the eyes, Pikachu gave Brock a thumbs up and a wink.
Having replenished the Pokemon and returned them to their owners, Nurse Joy took some time out to examine the trio that had ventured into her place of work, she was trying to place their faces, as she was sure she’d seen them before.
Eager to prove her hunch was correct, Joy browsed the center’s vast computer database and looked up a list of trainers who had been present at the center some months prior. She soon struck paydirt as Misty’s profile and information, including her known relatives, was soon displayed on the screen.
Confident she had found her woman, Nurse Joy returned to the center’s waiting room.
“Excuse me Ma’am, you are related to the Gym leaders of Cerulean City aren’t you?” Joy asked her.
“Yes, what of it?” Misty replied, curious as to what was up.
“A few days ago, your sisters dropped by Viridian City and requested we pass along a message to someone fitting your description. They have been summoned to a private beauty pageant in an undisclosed region and may be gone for some time, they have entrusted the running of their gym to you”
Misty let out a faint gasp and frustration built up inside of her, she swiftly let Nurse Joy know how she felt
“How could they do this to me? What about all my free time? I’ve got a life too you know, there are people I want to spend more time with, this will cut into everything” she said
“I’m very sorry, I wish I could do something” said Joy.
Misty calmed herself, and turned to her friends for support.
“Guys, I really don’t know what to say” she said.
Brock seemed pleased at the news, “Trust me, when the Pewter Gym was entrusted to me, I felt like a huge weight had been placed on my shoulders, but boy did I learn to lift”
Misty wasn’t buying how sincere he was.
“Brock, you haven’t been near your gym in ages, you left it behind to be with us, then you shacked up with she-who-must-not-be-named, then came crawling back to Pallet Town when that went belly up . Don’t lecture me about the responsibilities of the world when you’re still refusing to take any on board”
Brock looked at her with a sheepish expression, he had been firmly put in his place.
Misty turned to Ash, a slight lump in her throat as an unsettling and unnerving calm took hold of her
“Ash, say something” she said.
Ash produced a smirk and gave her a wink.
“You’ll do great Misty” he said, “Besides, it’s only until they come back right?” he said.
“Did’nt you hear what Joy said? We don’t know how long this pageant will take…and it doesn’t help that I can read my sisters like a book, they’ve been on these kind of extended vacations before, but that was when I was little. Now I’m at the right age, they see fit to just get on their bikes and dash off to wherever and leave me with their workload” Misty continued.
“Oh, speaking of bikes, I have another surprise for you” said Joy, heading outside towards the center’s garage and beckoning the trio to join her.
Joy soon emerged from the garage with a very special gift.
Ash’s eyes lit up, while Misty’s eyes teared up.
“It’s your old bike, the one I ‘borrowed’ to help get Pikachu to this center for emergency medical treatment when he got injured protecting me. I remember how mad you were, guess you don’t need to follow me around much anymore do you?” Ash joked.
Misty, however, didn’t see the funny side, to her this was all coming full circle too fast.
“How can you be so calm about this?” she said, “We’re being pulled apart and you seem to think it’s like every other day”
Misty’s words were falling deaf on Ash, as he was recalling, once again, an altogether different day, and altogether different voices.
The voices were known to him, as echoes of the past tended to be. He could see in his mind’s eye, himself at a younger age standing outside his house, his mother behind him and his father in front, a heavy bag slouched over his shoulders, and slowly walking away from the pair
“Can I come into the wild with you Dad?” said the young Ketchum
His father turned and smiled.
“You know how I get to keep all of my wild Pokemon don’t you son?” he said.
“You catch them” said Ash.
“Think of where I am now as something you admire from a distance, but when you’re old enough to understand, when you’re ready to step into the wild, come and catch me” he said.
Ash wanted to ask him one last question, one he felt he ought to ask someone now.
But first he had to settle for the questions that lay in wait for him in the here and now
“Ash Ketchum, are you even listening to me?” Misty snapped angrily.
“I’m sorry Misty, my mind’s been elsewhere” said Ash apologetically.
“Maybe it’s me that needs to be elsewhere” Misty said, and dashed off towards the mountains.
“Misty, wait” said Ash, but Misty was too emotionally distraught to pay attention, she needed some space.
“Ash, go talk to her” Brock said.
Ash kept himself closed off.
“Will you guys excuse me? I have to make a call” Ash replied
“Of course” said Nurse Joy.
As Ash headed inside the center, Brock was left with a feeling of unease, feeling as if nothing had truly prepared him for these emotional winds of change.
“Neither of them are taking this well, Ash is so distant” Brock said to Joy
“You three have been together a long time haven’t you?” said Joy.
“We’ve led quite a roller coaster life, but we haven’t had to deal with the kind of adventure the real world tends to bring” lamented a saddened Brock.
Back at the center, Ash contacted his mother Delia via video phone
“Hi Mom” he said.
“When are you due back in Pallet Town sweetie?” Delia replied.
Ash cleared his throat, he let his mind wander backwards into the past one last time, hearing the voices of his father and his child self resonate, taking that final exchange they had not as something to cherish, but as something to heed.
Still apprehensive, Ash responded as firmly as he could.
“That’s just the thing Mom, I might not be back for a while” Ash said
“Any particular reason?”
“Mom, do you remember when I set off on my journey to be a Pokemon master?” Ash said.
“Proudest day of my life. You’ve grown into a great trainer. Your advancements in the Johto league were all the neighbors could watch on tv and talk about the next day. Every step you take further and further into the world beyond Pallet Town takes you that further to filling in the shoes of your dad. I know he’s as proud of you as I am”
“How is dad?” Ash asked.
“He hasn’t come home yet, but when he does we’ll celebrate how far you’ve come” she assured her son.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about him lately. I bet you have too” Ash said.
“Every day” she replied.
The tone of the conversation turned less jubilant between mother and son as Ash posed a question
“Does it get harder?” he asked.
Delia fell silent, if only briefly, her smile diminished, she briefly closed her eyes and held her hands close to her chest.
Ash felt a pang of guilt, but felt compelled to continue. Something was eating away at him, a choice memory that had been persisting since they arrived in Viridian City.
His mother’s voice soothed his inner sense of uncertainty as she finally responded.
“Whenever he or you are far from home, I reach down into my memories and I pick out all of the moments we spend together, and I bring them to the surface. Nothing that brings me such joy could ever equal a burden, don’t ever think of yourself or your father as something that could bring any day difficulty. What you leave behind, the promises you make for tomorrow, are what see me through today”
Ash let these words from the heart ease himself back into the memory of one such promise. One he’d dismissed earlier
“Don’t you leave me behind Ash Ketchum”
The promise he’d made then took his thoughts back further to another conversation, in another lifetime.
“Catch me later” said his father.
“Why not now?” asked the young Ketchum
Ash stepped out of the projected memories, past and present, with renewed conviction, and at peace.
“Is there anything troubling you dear?” Delia asked of her son. Ash shook his head and gently wiped away a small selection of minute tears.
“Nothing Mom. It’s nothing…and everything. I’ll call you again as soon as I can” Ash said.
“I love you sweetheart, catch you later” she said.
She always would keep his Dad close to her.
Ash came out of the center and found Nurse Joy, he examined the bike.
“You guys did a real swell job” he said.
Nurse Joy beamed with an approving smile. Ash turned back to look at her.
“…But it could do with a slight modification”
A few hours later, Misty had calmed down and had returned from her trek through the mountains, and had caught some water type Pokemon deep in the cavern rock pools. She saw Ash and Brock awaiting her with the bike.
Resigned to her fate, Misty took a deep breath and walked over to them.
“Guys, Ash, I wanted to say sorry for…” she began, but quickly cut herself off as she examined the bike, noticing a significant change had been made to it.
“Ash, my bike, why does it have an extra seat?” she asked.
Ash walked over to the bike and stroked the second seat gently with his right hand.
“I thought we could ride back into Cerulean City, you and me, together”
“I’m flattered Ash, but don’t you need to head back home?” Misty replied.
“I am” he said.
“Ash, what are you saying?”
Ash gripped Misty’s hands tightly with his own. Misty felt a flutter in her chest as her heart beat faster.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad, about a question I asked him when I was younger, he never answered it, he took off into the wild and I’ve been trying to catch him ever since. My whole journey has been trying to grasp something always just out of reach, I can’t let this happen again to someone I also admire, someone I care about”
Misty blushed, she held back fresh tears.
“We’d see each other again” Misty assured him, reminding him of what he’d said earlier “, It’s only until my sisters come home, I can tolerate a few million days and nights by myself once I put my mind to it”
“Then we’ll wait for them together, sometimes it’s better to have someone keeping you company” Ash argued.
“Your ship needs a captain” Brock remarked, reminding him of something he said the last time he parted company with them.
“How about you Brock? We could always use an extra hand” Misty said.
“Nah, you were right, I need to get back to Pewter City and run the gym, maybe I could work out a bit, put some muscle on so I’m as chisled as my Onyx” Brock joked.
Ash and Misty mounted the bike, Misty’s Togepi was deposited in the basket attached to the front, while Pikachu climbed aboard Ash’s head.
The pair waved goodbye to Brock and proceeded to head in the direction of Cerulean City, leaving Brock behind to start his own journey back.
But first, he’d try his hand once more at flirting with Joy.
“Are you sure Brock can take care of himself on the way back?” Ash asked Misty.
“Oh knowing him, he’ll get a lift from Officer Jenny once she comes over to arrest him for harrasing Joy at her workplace” joked Misty.
Ash clung to Misty’s back tightly, Pikachu spotted something up in the sky and prodded Ashe’s head, prompting him to stare upwards too.
Misty brought the bike to a standstill so she and Togepi could stare upwards at the mesmerizing sight also.
High above, a magnificent bird flew over them, a Ho-Oh, native to the Johto region.
“It’s beautiful” said Misty.
“It must be heading home” Ash said.
“Just like us right?” said Misty.
“I guess” said Ash.
Misty smiled, she could tell what Ash was thinking,
“You want to try your luck catching something like that?” she asked.
A part of Ash would have jumped at the opportunity, but he opted to stick by his current decision.
“I meant what I said, it’s better I leave things to the wild and catch what you have in front of you for now” Ash revealed.
As the pair resumed their journey, it came to an abrupt halt as the bike fell into a connivningly camoflaughed pit.
Thrown from the bike, Ash struggled to get his bearings and almost slipped into unconsciousness. Only Pikachu and Togepie’s cries kept him active and alert. He scrambled to Misty’s location.
Ash noticed the fall had left Misty with a bruised leg and some minor cut. He shook her gently, trying to bring her around.
“Come on Misty, wake up” Ash replied.
Much to Ash’s relief, Misty came around.
“Anybody ever tell you you badly need a bath?” she said, noticing the specks of grime on Ash’s face.
Ash gripped her hand tightly and brought her to her feet. Pikachu and Togepi high-fived one another once it was clear Misty was simply shaken.
“What just happened?” Misty said, observing the deep crater they were in.
“Someone’s cruel idea of a prank, this could have been worse for others, what if some kids were playing nearby?” Ash responded.
“Unfortunately for you, playtime is over” uttered a snark voice from above them.
Ash and Misty found themselves face to face with three individuals towering over them.
“Who are you guys?” Ash asked.
“Prepare for trouble” said Kai.
“Team Rocket?” Misty asked.
“Not quite, we’re the Triple K, Kim, Kail and Kai, the best trappers and trainers in all of Viridian City, and we’ve been tasked by Team Rocket with acquiring that Pikachu, hand him over” said Kail.
Misty stepped forward, shielding Pikachu.
“Oh look, she wants to be a hero” observed Kim.
“Get behind me Ash” Misty said.
“Misty, come on, it’s my Pikachu they want, let me in on this action” Ash replied.
“I can handle this myself Ash” said Misty.
“I promised you we’d be all in this together from now on, not one soul’s an island woman” argued Ash
“Hey, are you having a quarrel down there?” said Kail.
Ash and Misty looked at each other, their faces red with embarrassment.
“I guess Team Rocket’s descriptions of these two were accurate, they are lovebirds” Kim said.
“Enough stalling. Kai, send in your Hitmochan” ordered Kail.
Kai did as instructed and sent Hitmochan into the pit.
“I’m sorry Ash, I guess with you willing to live under my roof, I got a little overprotective” Misty remarked as the Hitmonchan came closer.
“Real world responsibilities, don’t let them shake you, let me share them” said Ash.
“Ready Pikachu?” said Ash. Pikachu nodded while Togepi retreated to the remains of the bike and hid.
Ash give Misty a confident and sharp look.
“Ok tigress..pounce” he said.
“Go Politoed” Misty commanded as she set one of her own Pokemon loose.
“Use water gun” Misty instructed. Politoed obeyed and let out a gush of high pressure water at the physically intimidating Hitmonchan. It proved super effective, knocking him out instantly.
The triple K sent in two more Pokemon, Hitmonlee and Hitmontop, which surrounded Politoed.
“Pikachu, thunderbolt attack now” instructed Ash.
Pikachu’s delivery of the bolt was swift and devastating to Hitmonstop, stunning him. Politoed used the bubbles attack on Hitmonchan, while Pikachu delivered another ferocious thunderbolt to Hitmontop and Rapid Spin on Hitmonlee. It wasn’t long before the team of Pallet and Cerulean’s finest had mopped the floor with the forces of the Triple K.
Ash and Misty clambered out of the pit and approached the trio, who all backed away slowly
“Hey, nothing personal you know, simply business” Kim said.
“If this was buisness, consider this pleasure” said Ash, and instructed Pikachu to again use thunderbolt, Misty joined in with Politoed and water gun.
“I guess these stories about blasting off are also true” the trio all screamed in unison as they were captaulted into the air and vanished into the distance.
“Well, guess Team Rocket won’t be paying top dollar for those cheapskates services anytime soon” remarked Ash.
“Yeah, but who’s going to pay for my bike, it’s wrecked again” said Misty as she climbed back into the pit to pick up Togepi.
“Oh I’ll sort that old thing out once we get back to the gym. I need to find something to occupy my time while you’re accepting Gym battle challenges” Ash said.
“I’d much rather you challenge me every day, at least I know I’d stand more than a fair chance against you” Misty remarked as she climbed back out of the pit.
“Hey” Ash said, slightly annoyed.
Misty smiled and rubbed her hand gently through Ash’s hair, handing him back his hat. She kissed him tenderly on the cheek.
“Relax Ash Ketchum, you’ll learn a lot. By the time we’re done, we’ll be the talk of town, and not just as Gym leaders” she said.
Ash pondered what she meant by that, and his mind again drifted back into the mists of time to something Misty had said to him.
An unintentional sign at the time?
“You and I will be married someday too”
“I’ll hold you to that” Ash said aloud.
Misty, having not been privy to his innermost thoughts, was confused.
“I did’nt quite catch that” she said.
Ash laughed and began to run enthusiastically towards the direction of Cerulean city. Misty, clutching Togepi tightly, took off after him with Pikachu dashing alongside her.
“Don’t you leave me behind Ash Ketchum” she yelled happily.
“Sure Misty, I promise, just so long as you catch me first” Ash yelled back at her.
Now was as good a time as ever.
When certain events in history happen, people always reflect on where they were at the time.
For me, I recall exactly where I was when Let’s Kill Hitler went out…it had been my parent’s silver wedding anniversary, we had a grand old tea at a swank little inn and many family members came back to the family homestead for a few drinks and a bit of chatter. I had to watch the episode in my bedroom along with my cousin and little brother. At one point, an uncle joined in.
This, for many, is where not only series six went wrong, but you got the distinct feeling DW’s days as the “cool” thing to watch were numbered in the years to come.
It took a year for it to sink in, but this was it. The first post-hiatus episode following the gripping “A Good Man Goes to War” and what did we get? A flipping River Song rom-com disguised as an origin story. If anyone watching the show had a pre-existing distaste for Alex Kingston’s performance, their tempers were not quelled by this.
And yet, I quite like it.
For all the ham, the comedy, the “clever lie” bit which deconstructs the temporal grace of the TARDIS, and the gimmicky misleading title which doesn’t involve the tantalizing time travel conundrum of what to do with Adolf if you met him, it’s a very energetic script, it does offer some insights into what the Silence are, and the Tesselecta is a great concept, albiet more for the time travel modus operandi than ripping off the Numbskulls in the Beano.
I may enjoy a lot of this episode, but make no mistake, this is where series six died a gurning death over the course of 45 minutes and the Moffat era was never regarded in quite the same light again.
You can enjoy something, but you must always be aware of it’s faults so you can understand the side who trash it and not callously dismiss them in the name of the 10/10 club mentality that think the whole series is sunshine and rainbows. You see this all the time in certain Whovian podcasts on Youtube and reaction channels, save for maybe two (Zaredit personally recommends Blindwave and Seskasays for some proper analysis)
Ah, but there wouldn’t be an edit if there wasn’t something to cut now would it? And there was a lot to go, making this, the second of my World War II themed edits, to run at a considerably shorter run time, this one clocking in at 35 minutes.
The episode begins with the way it should have, with Hitler at the front and center of the action. If you’re going to mishandle the furher, at least make it seem like he’s important…set up a bit of a mystery as to what the Tesselecta want with him, and give the Doctor a massively impactful entrance with the TARDIS crashing through…then have the titles come as Hitler, sodding Hitler, thanks our intrepid travelers for saving his life. DUN-DUN-DUNNNNNNNNNN.
Gone too is the creation of the crop circle summons and the introduction of Mels in the stolen car, and the flashbacks to her childhood with Amy and Rory. All you need to know from the moment Mels is released from prison is that she’s a friend of the family, she set Amy and Rory up together, and she’s trouble.
Afterwards, one of the last things to go was the ultimate in time-wasting filler, where Matt Smith does a little bit of self-sabotaging and diminishes the enigmatic performance of his Doctor by indulging in a childish tantrum about guilt and yelling out fish fingers and custard a gazillion times to really emphasize to the whole audience that Doctor Who serves the children’s whims above the adults or the family.
And that’s your lot. Episode ends on the Doctor handing River her diary and the Doctor/Song ‘ship era is well and truly set to sail in a few filler’s time. Hello Benjamin.