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Chapter 8

Warmth seeped onto her face, waking Dulcea out of her slumber.  The light of the mid-morning sun momentarily blinded her, causing her to shield her eyes with her hand.  She sat up, running a hand through her wind-blown locks that covered her face.  She slowly stood up, wincing as she felt the tightness in her back.  As she worked the kink out of her back, she noticed that Yoda and Mace Windu were already up, conversing softly by the small fire.  She took a step towards them when a chill suddenly went down her back.  She turned, a sense of foreboding running through her as she searched for Zordon.

 

Her eyes found him immediately, lying by the fire.  He seemed to be sleeping peacefully, for a slight smile was on his face.  Yet, his chest was unmoving.  Dulcea rushed over to him, causing Yoda and Windu to look her way.  She paid no heed to them, though, as she sank to her knees next to her old friend.  Tears welled up in her eyes for the third time in the last twenty-four hours as she realized that he was dead.  Wiping a lone tear off of her cheek, she slowly – ever so slowly – walked over to the others, her hand hung low.

 

“We are sorry,” Windy said quietly, touching her briefly on the shoulder.  She looked up and gave him a shadow of a smile, seeing the pain that reflected in their own faces.  They too had lost many that were dear to them that day.

 

“Thank you,” she whispered, glancing over to Zordon’s body.  “It was his time, though.  His journey in this land is over.”

 

They nodded silently, glancing over at his prone body once more.  A tugging at Dulcea’s mind caused her to frown slightly and turn to the slowly extinguishing fire.  She closed her eyes and reached into it, not feeling the heat of the flames.  The spirits of the animal guides found her at once, information spilling from them.  She searched painstakingly through them, looking for one in particular.  Upon finding it the spirit animal screeched in misery, for her child was still in danger.  Dulcea pulled her hands out of the fire and opened her eyes, sighing as she turned back to the Jedi.

 

“The danger is not over yet,” she sighed tiredly.  “The crane still cries out for its childe, weeping for her lost soul.”

 

Yoda and Windu glanced at each other, troubled by this news.  Each of them closed their eyes briefly, using the Force to feel for any trouble.  Relief passed through both of them as they realized that the Darth Lord threat was gone for the time being.

 

“The Darth Lord is gone,” Windu said to her, watching as she nodded in acknowledgement.  “With that goal accomplished, our time here must come to an end.  We have many things back home that we have to take care of.”

 

“You must go then.  I will take care of Zordon.”

 

Windu and Yoda turned around and started heading towards the ship.  Suddenly, Yoda stopped and walked back over to Dulcea.  Windu kept his pace, reaching the ship in just moments.

 

Yoda hobbled back over to her, his eyes reflecting the wisdom he had collected over the years.  Dulcea bent down, staring the creature in the eye.  “Much there is to be done, yet.  Not past is the danger.  Much care take in all matters.  May the Force be with you.

 

Dulcea hugged the Jedi, closing her eyes as tears rolled slowly down her cheeks.  She pulled back from him, giving him a watery smile.  “Thank you.  I will be careful, especially now.  And may the power protect you.”

 

Yoda nodded and turned, hobbling slowly to his ship.  Dulcea watched as he entered his ship, the door hissing as it closed behind him.  Slowly, the ship rose from the ground and, hovering momentarily, shot off through the atmosphere and into space.  Dulcea watched until it disappeared completely from site before turning back to Zordon.

 

She shuffled over to her old friend, kneeling down next to him.  She wiped her hand across his forehead, a sad smile crossing her face.  She leaned down and gently kissed him on the forehead, a single tear landing on his face.

 

“Goodbye old friend,” she whispered, picking him up slowly and carefully.  “You will be missed.”

 

With great care she placed his body into the pyre, placing a blanket over him.  Tears streamed faster down her face as she sprinkled dust onto the fire, causing the flames to shoot up in great intensity.  Dark clouds suddenly appeared from nowhere, rumbles of thunder echoing through the sky.  Giant drops of rain fell, though none touched the sacred ground of the ruined temple.

 

Dulcea watched in grief as her friend and teammate was engulfed by the flames, barely noticing the rain that now fell heavily around the temple.  It was as if the universe itself was mourning the loss of such powerful and compassionate mage.  And yet, even as Dulcea mourned, a movement close by caught the corner of her eye.  She turned slowly, but the movement was gone.  A slow, sad smile crossed her face as she realized what she had seen; a slight movement of light as if reflecting off a balding head, a slightly gold-tinted light.  Though his body might be gone, Zordon would always be watching over his people.

 

Slowly his body burned, though his memory would never be gone.  His legacy was one that many would try to live up to – the legacy of the mighty Zordon of Eltar.

 

*****

 

Memories blurred together as if he was slowly waking up from a long, horrible dream.  Andros opened his eyes, not knowing that it was the first thing he had actually done by his own will for years.  He sat up slowly and looked around in shock as he saw the destruction that surrounded him, suddenly confused.

 

What is going on here? He wondered silently as he slowly stood up, knees wobbling beneath him.>Who did this?

 

He searched the area, looking for anything that would explain the disaster area that had once been called a magnificent room.  A lump formed in his throat as he saw a body half hidden by pieces of rock.  Is it one of my team?  Where we in a battle here?

 

Pushing away any thoughts of distrust he had, he rushed over to the body, pushing away pieces of rock to uncover it.  A boy, maybe seventeen at the oldest, lay beneath the rock, his breathe shallow but there.  Andros gave a sigh of relief as he realized the boy was still alive.  It was not one of his rangers.  But yet, as he looked at the boys face, a slight feeling of recognition filled him as if he had seen the person before.  But that was impossible.  He had only been on Earth for a short while – hadn’t he?

 

A sudden noise behind him caused him to turn in alarm, absently reaching for his morpher.  He frowned in confusion when his hand came up empty, puzzlement filling him as he realized his morpher was not there.  He pushed the thought away and searched for the source of the noise.  He found himself staring directly into the face of a person he felt like he had not seen for ages.

 

But that doesn’t make sense, Andros thought to himself.  I just saw him yesterday, on the Megaship.

 

Andros walked towards his best friend, not watching where he was going.  He stumbled over a piece of upturned ground, his knees hitting the floor with a loud thunk.  Zhane’s head shot up, staring at Andros first in mistrust then in shock and relief.

 

Andros almost fell over completely as Zhane rushed over to him, grabbing him in a hug as tears welled up in his eyes.  Andros hugged him back, not able to understand why his friend was crying.  As Zhane pulled away, Andros was shocked to see the tears that were now running down his friend’s face.

 

“What’s going on Zhane?” he asked, surprised to find his voice so hoarse.  “Why are you crying?  Where is everyone?  What happened here?”

 

“You don’t remember?” Zhane whispered.  “You don’t remember anything?”

 

He shook his head, fear rising as Zhane did not respond to his gesture.  Andros reached a hand towards Zhane, touching him questioningly on the shoulder.  “What happened here, Zhane?  Where are the others?”

 

“They’re dead, Andros.”

 

Silence greeted his words as Zhane willed himself to look at his long time friend.  Andros stared at him in disbelief, shaking his head violently at the thought.

 

“No,” he whispered, not wanting to believe the words.  He had already lost one set of teammates – he could not believe that he had lost another.  “TJ?  Cassie?  Carlos?”

 

“Ashley?”  Even saying the name of the girl who had betrayed him hurt.  He had really liked her – she had been his sun after a long and cold darkness.  But she had betrayed him with another – even so, he did not want them to be hurt, or worse, dead.  They could not be dead.

 

“I’m sorry, Andros,” Zhane whispered bitterly, wishing he did not have to tell him.  “But they’re gone.”

Andros stared blankly at Zhane, accepting what his friend said was true.  “How did this happen?  Why can’t I remember it?”

 

Zhane took a deep breathe, remembering that day when his world had shattered.  He slowly explained, his voice hushed.  “We were in the park – all of us, including the former rangers of Earth.  I wasn’t – I had been captured by the villainess who called herself – “

 

Kanara.”

 

Zhane looked at his friend in shock as Andros’ features changed from confusion and puzzlement to grief and anger.  “I remember – she brought hostages out.  Former rangers, from what we learned.  We didn’t know where you were.  She killed them – slitting their throats as we could only watch.”

 

“Then we attacked her, but we weren’t strong enough.  She killed more rangers, including those from my own team.  She laughed as they were butchered, relishing the moment.  Then, she sent a spell over us that remained – and I don’t remember anything after that.”

 

Andros looked passed Zhane, lost in his thoughts as his memories came back to him.  He pulled himself out of his memories quickly, eyes narrowing as he stared at Zhane.

 

“Where is she?” Andros hissed softly, his eyes suddenly filling with anger.  “Where’s the creature that killed them?”

 

Zhane shrugged helplessly, bothered by the amount of venom in his friends voice.  “I don’t know.  She disappeared awhile ago.  Then Rita came and we had to fight against her and – “

 

His sentence was suddenly interrupted as he heard a slight moan from behind him.  He jumped up and rushed over to the source of the moan, not even noticing the look of surprise that Andros gave him.  Zhane knelt down besides Kat, wincing as he saw the wounds that covered her body.

 

Kat opened her eyes, wincing at the brightness of the light.  She smiled as she saw Zhane’s face above hers, watching her in concern.  “Hey.”

 

“Hey yourself,” he said softly, a smile touching his lips.  “Glad to see you awake.”

 

She nodded, pushing herself up carefully.  “So am I.”

 

She looked around, shock on her face as she glanced around the room.  She had not noticed the damage to the room during the battle and only now could she see the results of their fight.  Suddenly, her body tensed as she searched for the villains they had fought against.  Seeing none, she looked back to Zhane, questions flitting through her eyes.

 

“Where are they?” she asked, a slight panic rising in her voice.  He smiled at her, smoothing her hair down with his hand.

 

“They’re gone,” he answered, pointing to the pile of ashes that lay in the center of the room.  “I don’t even know what happened exactly.  We were fighting when all of a sudden a golden light covered them and they exploded into ashes.  I think I was in shock for awhile but when Andros woke up, I snapped out of it.”

 

Kat’s eyes widened as she finally noticed the man behind Zhane.  She glanced at him for a moment before turning back to look at Zhane.  “Is he…?”

 

Zhane nodded.  “He’s one of us again.”

 

Kat nodded, wincing as she felt everyone of her injuries finally catching up to her.  Zhane lightly caressed her face, concern written on his features.  Andros watched them carefully, taking into account the way they acted around each other – delicate touches, soft murmuring; there was something going on between them, something that would take more than a couple months to build.

 

“What’s going on?” Andros demanded as he walked over to them, a steely look behind his eyes.  He wanted answers – he deserved answers.  Kat and Zhane glanced at each other momentarily before he stood up and placed a hand on his best friend’s shoulder.

 

“Things have changed, Andros,” Zhane said softly.  “The events that you remember happened five years ago.  You, along with a scant few, survived and have been in cryosleep ever since then.  During that time, the people of Earth fled to the tunnels as they are now called.  Kanara disappeared not too long ago and Rita quickly took her place.  Kat, Justin, Tommy, Karone, and I all received powers to defend the planet.  You started to show signs of life and were kidnapped by Rita.  She programmed you to do her bidding and you, along with her other henchmen, attacked us.  A golden light came through and destroyed them and brought you back.”

 

Andros stared at his friend in shock, taken aback by the brief yet crushing information.  He had been evil?  He had attacked his own friends?  What have I done?  How could I have let them control me?

 

Andros pushed the thought away, remembering more of Zhane’s words.  Karone?  She’s alive?”

 

“Yes,” Zhane nodded, glancing over at Kat as she bit her lip and averted his eyes.  “At least she was when we last saw her.  She and Tommy left awhile ago in search of Zordon.  We haven’t heard from them since.”

 

Andros digested the information, his head spinning.  I get my sister back, only to be put in a coma for five years.  Then, when I finally wake up, she is gone and they don’t know if she is alive or not.  What else can happen?

 

Justin’s moan jerked all of them back to the present, glancing over to the boy in alarm and relief.  Slowly, he stood up, wiping dust off of his clothes and wincing as all of his muscles tightened.  He looked around, frowning at the destruction around them, searching frantically for their enemies. 

 

“They’re gone, Justin,” Zhane called, causing the young man to relax in relief.  Justin hobbled over to them, pain flickering across his face as his right ankle throbbed as he walked.  He leaned heavily against the wall when he reached them, his face anxious.

 

“Are all of you alright?” he asked.  Kat and Zhane nodded.  Justin sighed in relief and glanced towards the Control Center, noticing Andros for the first time.  His eyes widened as he saw the former villain.  He looked frantically at his fellow rangers.

 

“Rita and her henchmen are gone, destroyed by a golden wave.  Andros is good, helped by the same wave.  Deal,” Zhane explained quickly, tired of explaining the story.

 

“Oh,” was all Justin could say as Kat stood up with Zhane’s help.  The four walked towards the Control Center, walking through the tunnels in shock.  Destruction met them at every turn in the tunnels, showing what the putties had done while they had been engaged with Rita.  Lights flickered on and off as they neared Justin’s room, stopping to help people as they did.

 

Justin gave a sigh of relief as his door opened, revealing no damage.  The putties had not started with the rooms yet – they had gone after people first.  In a matter of moments, the rangers had entered the Control Center.

 

Karone!” Andros exclaimed as he rushed towards his sister, joy filling him as he enveloped her in his arms.  She hugged him back, surprised by his presence, yet thankful.  But even seeing her brother again could not hide the fact that something was not right with her.

 

“Did you find Zordon?” Zhane asked quietly as he walked forward, his arm still around Kat’s waist. 

 

Karone glanced at them for minute, taking in the closeness of her fellow rangers and the way they held each other.  Her heart lurched painfully, but she pushed the pain aside as she looked into Zhane’s eyes.  “Yes.  We found him.  He got away from Dark Spectre.”

 

Zhane smiled faintly at her as Kat and Justin felt relief run through them.  Kat frowned as she looked behind Karone, waiting for her one-time boyfriend to emerge.  “Where’s Tommy?”

 

Karone winced as she heard those words, looking away from Kat.  Kat felt her body grow cold as she tore herself from Zhane’s grasp and put her hands on Karone’s shoulders.  Karone looked at the blonde, tears glistened in her eyes.

 

“He’s dead, Kat,” she whispered.  “He died on KO-35.”

 

Karone watched in morbid fascination as Kat’s face turned almost white.  She let go of Karone’s shoulders and leaned against the wall, tears streaming down her face.  Zhane reached over to comfort her, but she pushed him away.

 

“Where is he?” Kat asked, steel behind her quiet voice.  Karone pointed wordlessly to the ship, watching as Kat ran into the Megaship.

 

Zhane started after her but was stopped when Karone grabbed his arm.  He turned towards her, opening his mouth to speak.  She shook his head, shushing him quietly.

 

“You love her, don’t you?” Karone whispered.  He nodded, glancing away from her and staring at the ship where Kat had run.  “Then go to her.  But let her have a few moments by herself.”

 

Zhane looked into Karone’s eyes and saw the pain that she hid behind them.  He pulled her into a hug, both of them closing their eyes as they silently said good-bye to what they once had.  As they pulled away, Zhane whispered, “Thank you.”

 

With that, he pulled away from her completely and followed Kat onto the ship.  Karone watched him go, tears sliding down her cheeks.  She turned to see Andros and Justin standing behind her, Justin staring at the ship in shock, not wanting to believe that his teammate was dead.  Andros pulled Karone into another hug, rubbing her back as her sobs came, mourning the loss of a friend and the end of a romance.  Together, they sank to the ground, with Justin watching on.

 

*****

 

Blood dripping down a wickedly curved knife; maniacal laughter filling her as she gutted one that had once been a friend; calmly and systematically wiping out an entire race just because she could; torturing people just to see their pain.

 

Images burst forth in her memory, causing waves of grief and guilt to weigh down on her as she remembered everything that she had done over the last couple years.  Though it was not really her – was it?  Kanara was everything that Kimberly Anne Harte was not – but yet, it had been her.  Sure, a part of her always fought against the evil but it was never enough.  Kanara had taken pleasure in crushing every resistance possible, especially resistance from the girl she used to be.

 

She lay there, crying until tears would no longer flow.  She lay against the cold floor, not even caring what happened, only knowing that she was responsible for the death of so many. 

 

How will I live with this?  How could I have done all those things?

 

The smell of blood filled her nostrils causing her to open her eyes.  There, kneeling over her, was the man she had been fighting with just moments ago.  He looked down at her in concern, as though he did not care that she had been…torturing him moments earlier.  He brushed his hand across her harm, frowning at the deep gash.  She froze at his touch, her tear-streaked face turning to look at him.

 

“How can you touch me?” she whispered, her voice broken.  “How can you even look at me even after all that I did?”

 

“The evil – the mark of evil that has been a part of you ever since I met you – is gone,” he said softly.  “You are your own self once again.”

 

Kanara’s gone?” Kim asked with a raspy voice.  “I am free of the evil?”

 

Obi-Wan nodded, watching as emotions passed rapidly through her mind.  He could see the guilt that lay deep within her, carved so deeply it was etched in her bones.  How could this girl be the same creature that had found pleasure in causing others pain?  It was almost impossible to fathom, even though he had seen it himself.

 

“Let me help you up,” he said, reaching over to gently pull her into a sitting position.  She allowed him to do so, not having the strength to resist.  As she sat up, she slowly began to get her bearings back – and with that, came another, familiar feeling.

 

“No,” she whispered, her already pale face losing what color it had.  He felt her panic began to grow as her muscles tensed up beneath his hands.  “No, no, no, no, no!”

 

With each repeat of the word, she shook her head weakly, trying to cry but her empty tear ducts not allowing her.  She slowly looked into his eyes, shocked by the emotions she saw in his eyes.

 

“It’s not over,” she said.  “It will never be over.”

 

“What will never be over?” Obi-Wan asked, almost desperately as her panic grew even more.

 

“She will be coming back – the golden light merely smothered her for the time being.  But I can feel her.  Even now, I can feel her power growing once again.”

 

Suddenly, she grabbed his arm, gripping it so tightly he almost yelped in pain.  “You have to end it.  Now.  Here.  You can’t let her take over again.”

 

Obi-Wan grabbed the hand that gripped his arm, slowly and carefully peeling it off his arm and grasping it in his hand.  “What do I have to end?  How can I end it?”

 

“Kill me.”

 

Obi-Wan stared at the girl, not knowing how to react to simple yet direct statement.  Kill her?  She is not doing anything – killing her would be murder.  And yet, when he stared into her eyes, he could not help but begin to relent.  The sheer determination, as well as the pain and pleading that filled her eyes, caused him to rethink his first though.  Yet, he found himself shaking his head, almost begging her not to ask.

 

“I can’t,” he said, trying to explain.  “If I kill you, I would be killing an innocent.  You were being controlled by a force that you couldn’t overpower.  It was not who you were – it was evil taking advantage of the power it had.  You are an innocent.  Killing you would be murder.”

 

“You don’t understand,” she pleaded, her voice desperate.  “She will come back if you don’t kill me.  There is nothing in this universe that can stop her from gaining power again.  I am not strong enough to control her – you’ve seen that.  You’ve seen what she can do!  You have to do this.”

 

He looked away, not responding to her words.  She felt a piece of her heart break as she looked at the strong and noble man.  She had searched for a man like him for years, ever since she had broken up with Tommy.  And now that she had found him – it was too late.

 

“I can’t,” Obi-Wan explained quietly.  “Killing you, an innocent girl, is against everything I stand for.  I am a peacemaker, doing everything that I can to keep evil from overtaking the universe.  And though killing you might do so, it is going against the codes of the Jedi.  If I kill you, I bring myself closer to the Dark Side.  I let the evil win – I will someone who does not deserve to die.”

 

Tears once again filled her eyes as she placed a hand on his shoulder.  “If you let me live, evil will win anyway.  I have not had the strength to fight against her – she is too powerful, too strong.  Her evil is much too great.  If you don’t do this, you will let havoc fill the universe.  You will be responsible for the deaths of many more that do not deserve to die.”

 

“I beg you.  Please, do not let me live as I have for the last five years.  Give me the peace that I will never find.  Please.”

 

At her final please, Obi-Wan felt his resolve begin to crack.  Even now, he could feel the evil begin to swarm back.  Slowly, ever so slowly, Kanara would return.  It would take a few days, a week at the most, but she would be back.  He looked back up at her, staring into her eyes.

 

“I wish there was another way,” he whispered, reaching for his lightsaber.  To his surprise, he could feel tears slowly starting to run down his cheeks.  She reached a shaking hand towards him, brushing away the tears.

 

“If this was a different time, a different place, there would be,” she said sadly, silently cursing the fates for giving her the man she had wanted at a time when she knew she had to die.  “But wishing won’t make the present change.  This is the only way.”

 

She leaned forward and softly kissed him on the lips, lightly brushing his lips with hers.  He was surprised by the sudden kiss but he did not pull away.  Instead, he realized that this was the way it had to be.  A girl who could have done much for the good of the universe had to die in order to save many from destruction.  Sometimes, that’s the way life is.

 

She pulled away from the kiss, watching helplessly as he stood up and ignited the lightsaber, their eyes locked the entire time.  Seconds passed as they stood there when suddenly, Obi-Wan silently prayed for forgiveness.  He swung his lightsaber, hitting Kim in the side.  A pinkish white light covered her and when it was gone, there lay nothing of her but the cloak that she had worn, sliced in half.  Obi-Wan looked around for her, thinking it was a trick.  But as he did, he felt a breeze on his shoulder.

 

Thank you, A voice whispered, almost caressing his ear.  Peace filled him as he left the room, knowing that Kanara was gone forever.  And yet, at the same time, he could feel the Dark Side surrounding him, laughing at him.  He, a Jedi, had willingly taken the life of an innocent being.  Yes, Kanara would have returned, but Kimberly was an innocent girl, an innocent victim of the evil.

 

Things will never be the same.  Obi-Wan thought, slowly sliding his lightsaber back into his belt.  I will never be the same.  I do not deserve to be called a Jedi Knight.  Not now.  Not after what I did.  The Council will surely know what has come to pass – there is a good chance that they will expel me from the Jedi Order.

 

I have failed; I have failed in my duty to protect the innocent lives and now I fail the legacy of my master.  I have let the Dark Side win this battle.  Obi-Wan walked down the hall, his soul burdened by the actions he had taken.  He would live with that knowledge for the rest of his life, however long it would be.  It would live with the knowledge that he had let part of himself fall to the Dark Side, taking a life that may not have been destined to be taken.  It was with those thoughts that he ran into Anakin.

 

Anakin glanced up at his Master, astonished by the emotions that he saw playing across Obi-Wan’s face.  He started to ask, but Obi-Wan simply shook his head and placed a hand on Anakin’s shoulder.

 

“Let’s go home.”