Hey everybody, sorry for the lateness of this chapter! I’ve been bogged down with college stress and volunteering –there’s really no excuse, so all I can say is sorry! The next chapter won’t take as long, my inspiration has finally come back and with school starting really soon, I’ll be able to schedule a time to write! Keep those reviews coming!
To Jenee and Melissa –thank you for your constant support! I so enjoy our nightly chats and exchange of emails. You girls are fabulous!
Disclaimer: Someone other than me owns Power Rangers.
Nightfall came slowly –too slowly for his taste, but all that mattered was that it was now finally here. Now, all he needed was the right moment to put his plan in motion. Giovanni Deveraux cracked his knuckles in anticipation. He sat still on his bed, listening for the sound that would enable him to take action.
Finally, he heard it.
The jingling sound of keys meant that the night guard was slowly approaching. A few seconds more. Giovanni stood and silently crept toward the door, leaning against the side as the sound of a key slid into the lock and the handle of the door begin to turn. He held his breath and waited for the right moment.
The door began to slowly push open and the guard stuck his head in. “Hey Deveraux! Time for-“
The guard never got to finish his sentence as Giovanni yanked him into the room by his neck. Before the guard could make a noise of protest, in one fluid motion Giovanni snapped his neck, killing the guard instantly. Quickly, he swapped clothes with the now dead body, donning the official uniform. Grabbing the keys, Giovanni placed the corpse onto the bed and wrapped it with the blankets, making it look like there was a figure sleeping. He needed all the delays he could get. Quietly slipping out of the room, he pulled the door shut, locking it securely.
He walked at a brisk, but even pace. Fortunately, luck was on his side that night. No one had stopped him on the way out, nor had there been anyone guarding outside the prison walls. Giovanni Deveraux let out a sigh of relief as he stepped into a row boat and began gently rowing away. He was safe, no one would find out about his escape until morning. His plan had gone off without a hitch and it had been much easier than he had thought.
His thoughts began to focus on the task ahead of him and his eyes narrowed. Part one of his plan had been completed successfully. Now it was time for part two to begin.
He needed to get to Earth by sunrise.
The wind was knocked out of him as Bridge landed on his back for the second time that morning. Training was going well, Bridge thought as he laid on the ground for a few moments, catching his breath. His sparring had improved greatly, his defenses were better and he could almost keep up with Sky now. The blue ranger appeared above him with a concerned expression on his face. Sky extended a hand to the green ranger and slowly pulled him up into a standing position.
“You okay Bridge? You landed a little too hard there.”
“Yeah,” the green ranger panted. “I’ll be okay.”
Sky grinned. “You’ve been practicing. You’ve improved a lot since the last time we sparred.”
The green ranger headed over to a nearby bench and grabbed his water bottle. Sitting down, he lifted the lid, before taking a long drink of water. Sky sat down next to him moments later, with his own water bottle. They watched, resting comfortably, as Jack sparred with the girls. After yesterday morning’s bathroom fiasco, things had considerably returned to normal –although Bridge would never forget the sight of Z standing alone in the bathroom naked. Sky had repeatedly tried to find out what happened, but unfortunately for him, Bridge was keeping it close to his chest. It seemed Z had convinced the pink ranger to do the same thing as well. He knew for sure that Z was also keeping it quiet.
There was something else that was bothering Bridge. For those few very brief moments that he had been in the bathroom, he had seen glimpses of the scars on Z’s body. Now, some of those scars might’ve been from the battles that they had fought with Grumm, but the green ranger privately doubted it. The scars didn’t look fresh and they had to have come from her days on the streets. Bridge took a deep breath and tried to put the thoughts out of his mind as he watched Z pin Jack to the mats. It wasn’t any of his business where the scars came from.
“So what happened yesterday?”
Bridge inwardly sighed. Sky had been asking this question at random times, hoping that it’ll catch the green ranger off guard and blurt out the story. “Nothing.”
Sky frowned at another failed attempt at getting the story. “Yeah right.”
“Well obviously, it’s not nothing,” Bridge spoke up as a thoughtful look appeared on his face. “Because something happened so it can’t be nothing, but that something is nothing because nothing really happened.”
Sky sighed and rolled his eyes. Syd came bouncing up to them with her usual cheerful smile. “I am so ready to stop training.”
“Me too,” Bridge agreed.
Sky gave both of them a disapproving look. “Guys, we’ve only been out here for two hours.”
“And that’s enough,” Syd responded, as she reached for Sky’s water bottle. Jack and Z joined their teammates on the bench, the yellow ranger moved to sit next to Bridge and everyone enjoyed a few minutes of peace.
“POWER RANGERS, PLEASE REPORT TO THE COMMAND CENTRE.”
The rangers gave each other puzzled glances as they rose from the bench. That didn’t sound like the usual emergency call that they always had. The five of them headed inside, toward the command centre, where Kat and Commander Cruger stood waiting for them. They lined up alongside one another and saluted.
“What is it Commander?” Syd asked.
The big blue dog stood with Kat by his side, looking far more serious than any of them had ever seen. “Cadets, we have just been informed of a situation happening in the eighth quadrant of the galaxy. A convicted criminal has just escaped confinement.”
The rangers exchanged glances, but said nothing.
“This man was once a very influential person. Before his confinement, he ran a very dark business. He lured innocent girls into prostituting and the young boys into dealing drugs. He had children slaving away in dark rooms, working to clean their headquarters, package illegal drugs, and he played on their insecurities and emotions.”
Z began to feel anxious. The commander’s description was hitting just a little too close to home. She turned her head sideways and caught Jack’s gaze. She breathed in sharply. From the look on the red ranger’s face, she knew Jack felt it too. The feeling of uneasiness was hard to describe and she knew it wasn’t her imagination. She had a feeling she wasn’t going to like what the commander had to say…
A hologram appeared in front of them as Cruger continued speaking. It showed a man walking out of the prison, heading toward a boat. “This man murdered the prison guard during the night and switched clothes as not to arouse suspicion. As you can see, he was able to escape with no difficulties.” Cruger’s eyes landed on the yellow ranger. “The man’s name is Giovanni Deveraux.”
Z let out a sharp cry at hearing the name. Her breathing became ragged as images flashed through her mind. Images and memories of the life she had tried so hard to leave behind. Her knees suddenly felt weak and the yellow ranger stumbled a bit. Her legs gave out and her eyes rolled to the back of her head.
“Z!” Bridge swung forward and caught the yellow ranger just as she fainted. Syd looked alarmed and had immediately rushed over to where Bridge stood, while Sky moved next to the pink ranger looking calm but concerned. Jack’s expression had hardened; he didn’t look the least bit surprised that Z had fainted. Instead, the red ranger strode up to Commander Cruger and looked at him square in the eye.
“Where is he headed?”
Cruger met Jack’s gaze. “At the moment it looks like he is heading for earth.”
Jack swore under his breath, which confused the remaining rangers. He turned to face them. “Take Z to her room, I’ll come fill you guys in once I talk to the Commander.”
Bridge nodded and lifted Z up into his arms and left the command centre. Both Sky and Syd looked torn between going after their friends and staying to find out what the story was. Jack gave them a sharp look. “That was an order guys, get out of here now!”
The look on Jack’s face was enough to get them moving. The blue and pink rangers shared a look and turned and left the command centre. They headed toward the room that the girls shared and entered to see Bridge sitting next to the unconscious yellow ranger. The room was eerily silent and Sky and Syd sat on the pink ranger’s bed.
“I hope she’s going to be okay,” Syd spoke up softly.
Sky frowned. “I wonder why that name made her faint.”
Bridge had an intense look of concentration on his face as he tried to read Z’s aura. Colors of grey and brown swirled together. The green ranger frowned. The gray and brown colors were some of the more negative colors. That only meant one thing -Z was frightened. He looked at his friends, concern evident in his eyes. “She’s scared.”
“Of course she’s scared, Giovanni Deveraux was supposed to stay in jail for the rest of his life! We never thought that bastard would escape prison!”
The three of them jumped as Jack came strolling into the girls’ room. The red ranger strolled over the yellow ranger’s bed and sighed as he watched his almost sister sleep.
“Jack, please tell us what’s going on,” Syd pleaded. “We want to understand. We want to help.”
The red ranger sighed once more and nodded. He turned to face the window, staring out at the sunny sky. “Before I met Z, she lived at one of the run down orphanages over in the northern part of New Tech City. Things were tough for her at the orphanage –she couldn’t make any friends, the kids there teased her and called her names when they found out about her special powers. She ran away a week later, and that’s when Giovanni found her.”
Bridge, Sky and Sydney all exchanged glances with one another as Jack continued on. “It was during the earthquake that hit a few years ago. Z slipped and almost fell into the ground that was opening up, but Giovanni grabbed her and saved her life. After that, Z saw him as someone who cared about her and became extremely loyal to him.”
Bridge’s expression had hardened and without realizing it, the green ranger had subconsciously grabbed Z’s hand.
“Z was still a kid back then and she didn’t know any better. Giovanni twisted her mind, convincing her that he was the only adult in the world that cared about her. Pretty soon, he had her working away in his little factory, until she was old enough to become a prostitute for him.”
Syd gasped and tears began to fill her eyes. She looked at the still unconscious yellow ranger sympathetically. Sky wrapped an arm around her waist, offering her some comfort.
“And she wasn’t the only one. Giovanni had lured other kids into his trap. Some were living on the streets, like Z was. Others felt that they had no one to turn too and he played on their insecurities and doubts. He had kids, and teenagers eating out of the palm of his hand because they felt that they had no one to turn too or anything to live for.”
“Your friends from the streets,” Syd whispered.
Jack nodded. “Yeah. Giovanni had convinced everyone that he would protect and care for them. Rosanna was the first one to sell her body, followed by Larissa and then Michelle.”
“But how did you meet Z?” Sky spoke up. “I mean, obviously you weren’t part of Giovanni’s scheme, were you?”
The red ranger whirled around from the window to face them. “No, I wasn’t,” there was sad look on his face. “Z was thirteen when I met her. At the time, Giovanni had decided that Z was old enough to sell her body to make money for him.”
Sky tightened his embrace about Sydney as the pink ranger gave another gasp. A tear escaped and she rubbed it away, only to notice the look on her best friend’s face. Gone was the usual friendly look on the green ranger’s face, instead it was replaced with a look of fury. Syd took a sharp breath. She had never seen a look like that on Bridge’s face before. This confirmed what she had been suspecting for awhile now; Bridge was in love with Z.
“Z’s first assignment was a large, beefy man. She was already pretty scared and intimidated by the man’s look. She was only thirteen; she wasn’t ready for such a thing. But she felt she had no choice, after all, the man had given her a home.”
They all listened intently as Jack continued to talk. The red ranger closed his eyes, losing himself in his memories. “It was really dark, and I was wandering around, trying to find a place to sleep for the night. I was walking past this alley when I began to hear screams and sobbing. And you know, I could never leave anyone in trouble, so I went to investigate. The man was trying to force himself on her, and she was trying to stop him. Her shirt was torn, and her pants were pulled down to her knees. She was a fighter, even though she was only thirteen.”
“So what did you do?” Syd asked.
Jack gave a slight smile. “I grabbed the biggest brick I could find and knock the man over the head with it. Thankfully, the man hadn’t been able to get that far, so all Z really needed was something to cover her top. I gave her my jacket and got her out of there.”
“Oh my god,” Syd gaped at Jack in horror, “That is so scary.”
“Yeah,” Jack paused and his hand clenched into a fist. “And now that bastard is free. We have to stop him at all costs. I refuse to let him torment Z or any of our other street friends anymore.”
Bridge sighed as he watched Z and Jack drive out of the SPD parking lot in the official white SPD jeep. The yellow ranger had recovered from her fainting spell, waking up just ten minutes after Jack had finished telling them some of the events that had happened in Z’s past. Immediately, she had sought for the comfort in Jack’s arms, a frightened look on the yellow ranger’s face.
It disconcerted him to realize that he couldn’t be the one to comfort her –and he wanted to more than anything. It had hurt, hearing about Z’s past. He had known Z had lived a hard life –but it wasn’t like anything he had imagined. Hearing it through Jack’s perspective had really shaken him up and he had desperately wanted to hug the yellow ranger once she had woken up. But instead, she had turned to Jack. And it hurt. To know that he couldn’t offer the comforting embrace that Jack could, it physically hurt.
And now they were driving away to see their friends from the streets. Together.
Bridge sighed. There was no hope for him.
A hand reached out and gently placed it on his shoulder. He whirled around in surprise, and smiled slightly when he saw who it was standing behind him. Syd returned the smile and then moved to look out the window as she stood next to him. From where the pink ranger stood, she could see the white SPD jeep disappearing as it turned a corner.
“You love her.” It was a statement, not a question.
Bridge didn’t even bother to deny the statement and said nothing and continued to stare out the window. They both knew who Syd was talking about.
“You should tell her.”
The green ranger closed his eyes briefly and shook his head. “I can’t.”
“Why not? She deserves to know.”
“Bridgey, that’s not the answer,” Syd’s voice was soft. “I’ve seen how you look at her.”
“And how’s that?”
“It’s how Sky looks at me.”
The pink ranger’s statement stopped Bridge short. Had he really been that transparent? The green ranger sighed. “It’s so much more complicated then that, Syd,” he held up a gloved hand. “Even if I happen to tell her how I feel, and we get together as a couple, there’s still the problem of my powers. How can we ever be together if I can’t even hold her hand without my powers going crazy?”
Syd remained silent. A look of sadness came to her eyes.
Bridge let out another sigh and dropped his hand. “It’s just not meant to be, so let it go Syd.” The green ranger turned and walked away leaving the pink ranger to stare at his retreating back.
As she watched him walk away, Syd shook her head as a determined look came to her eyes. “I’m not going to let this go Bridgey. You deserve all the happiness in the world and I’m going to find a way to help you.” The pink ranger took a deep breath and began to head toward the SPD library.
She had some researching to do.
Rosanna’s cry caught the attention of other workers and Caleb and Larissa came running over to where they stood. The usual look of friendliness on Rosanna’s face had disappeared and instead was replaced with a look of fear.
“Who escaped?” Caleb demanded to know. Beside him, Larissa stood, looking alarmed.
Z and Jack exchanged glances. “Giovanni,” Z said quietly.
Rosanna let out another wail and fell into Caleb’s arms. Larissa let out a gasp, one hand immediately covering her mouth, while her other hand covered her chest. She looked horrified. Caleb on the other hand looked thunderous.
“WHAT?” he roared. There was a breeze and it ruffled his dirty blonde hair slightly. His arms were still around Rosanna as he took a deep breath and contemplated the situation. “Okay,” Caleb’s voice was slightly cracked. “We’ve got to warn the others. Rosanna, do you think you’re calm enough now?”
The red head nodded slightly.
“Okay,” Caleb released her. “Rosanna, I want you to go find Michelle and Keegan. Larissa, go find Kathleen, Ian and Oliver. We have to warn everyone that Giovanni had escaped prison. Tell everyone to be extra cautious, go now.”
Rosanna and Larissa nodded and scampered off.
“Do you really think he’ll come after us?” Z asked Caleb in a small voice. Her eyes stared up at him, begging him to shield her from the truth. It was funny how just one name could frighten her beyond belief. She hated Giovanni. She hated everything he stood for –the yellow ranger didn’t want to be reminded of her old life –not when her new life was so happy and rewarding. It just wasn’t fair.
Caleb sighed, rubbing his forehead with his hand. The tone of Z’s voice reminded him of the time when she had still been so innocent. The years of living on the streets and working for Giovanni had taken away all that and he now had a feeling that Z lived in constant fear of having to go back living on the streets. “There’s no doubt in my mind,” he said after a moment. “After all, we were the ones that helped put him in jail in the first place. Giovanni’s not going to take that lightly, he’ll be wanting revenge.”
Z let out a tiny whimper. And Jack wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
Caleb stared at Z, and held her gaze. “We have to be ready for anything. My guess is, he’s going to come after us, one by one. And we can’t let him do that. We made a life for ourselves and we’re happy. We can’t let him take it away.”
Z nodded, the ever present fear in her heart was showing on her face. She was prepared to do whatever she could to protect her friends and herself. The yellow ranger took a deep breath as the determination that she was known for came slowly creeping back. She wasn’t going to let anyone take away her new life.