A New Beginning - Part 3

Previously:

Scene 1:

Scorpina's eyes opened slowly. She found herself lying outside a cave. Someone had lit a fire and removed her helmet so she would be more comfortable. Sitting up, she tried to regain her senses. The last thing she remembered was falling from the cliff after Rita shot a blast at her. The image of the woman who was once her friend flashed in her mind.

Scorpina: "Rita?"

She gasped, seeing Zedd walk out of the cave. He had seen her fall and took it upon himself to make sure she survived. Scorpina looked back up at the ledge she had fallen from, trying to replay the events. She wanted to be sure she had seen Rita and it wasn't just her imagination. Reliving it over and over, it always came out the same. It was her blast. She knew it.

Scorpina: "Zedd, do you remember in '99 when you thought you killed Rita?"

Zedd: "She's alive. I know. She took me by surprise before, knocking me out. When I was locked in a dream state, she went on to say that she was not only alive, but she's been watching both of us. She saw what we did on Onyx and now.... now she wants revenge."

Scorpina: "I can't believe this. I was so sure she was gone. And.... I mean, why now? Why wait all this time? It doesn't make any sense."

Zedd: "I don't understand it either, but she is after us. I tried to reason with her in the dream, but it was no use. Seeing us together broke her heart and I don't think there's anything we can do to fix that now."

Scorpina: "Why can't she see what's right in front of her face? You still love her! Even when you were with me, she was the only one you wanted. I might not have understood it then, but I do now and I'm fine with it. You two were meant to be together and there's nothing that can change that. If you can only convince her you don't love me; that you and I both made a mistake...."

Zedd: "You know Rita! That won't work. She will believe whatever the hell she wants to believe. And right now that's you and I stabbed her in the back."

Scorpina: "She was dead!"

Zedd: "Try telling her that. You'll end up taking a staff upside the head!"

They were quiet for a minute, in shock that this could really be happening. They were all once so close and now that relationship had been torn apart. One stupid action had ruined their lives.

Scorpina: "Do you still want to be with her?"

Zedd: "Of course I do! Our relationship may have been based on a lie in the beginning, but somewhere along the line, I really did fall in love with her. Even now, with her trying to kill me, I can't help but think my life is somehow better with her in it."

Scorpina: "That's insane."

Zedd: "Tell me about it. We fight like cats and dogs, but I can't make my feelings for her go away."

Scorpina: "If that's true, why did you save me?"



<Opening Sequence>


Scene 2:

Scorpina: "If you wanted to get back with Rita, it would have been easier to let me die. If she saw that you didn't care, it might prove to her that she's the only one you want."

Zedd: "I couldn't do that. Rita is irrational. That's no reason for you to have to die. If she can get over this, she'll get over it with or without you. I don't think it would matter."

Scorpina stood up and stretched. The heat from the fire felt good against her skin. The air had gotten colder since she was knocked out and only now was she really coming back to reality. The world was still spinning a little, but slowly things began to come back into focus. Thoughts of her mission returned to her and she started to run off.

Zedd: "Wait. Where are you going?"

Scorpina: "I have to find something. Ecliptor.... he wanted me to get this morpher. He's going up against this Shard woman and they needed me to be the fifth Ranger."

Zedd: "You actually agreed to do it again after what happened the first time?"

She sighed.

Scorpina: "I guess I thought being a Ranger might make things easier. Maybe if I went back into battle....." She took a long pause. ".... I might be able to forget about you."

Zedd: "What?"

Scorpina: "It doesn't matter. The point is I have to find that morpher now. I don't have time for this."

Looking at him, she could hardly believe what she had almost said. Even after Zedd left her because of his feelings for Rita, the truth was Scorpina still carried a torch for him. Up until that point, she never admitted it to herself. The idea that she had almost told him scared her to death. This is what made her want to become a Ranger again. She thought if she lost herself in battle; lived to kill, the way she used to be, all these thoughts would some how fade away. Running toward at path, she wanted to get as far away from her old flame as possible and put him out of her mind forever.

Zedd: "Scorpina, wait."



Scene 3:

Niki's energy reader had detected the morpher on the beach. She had started to dig in the sand where it had indicated the power source was. She would have been cold, but the rage inside her was enough to block out the winter weather. She couldn't believe her own mother didn't trust her. The thought hurt her more than she was willing to admit. Since her father died, the only friend she had in the world was Cerina. They were everything to each other, but when it came down to it, the woman she trusted so completely didn't feel the same way for her. It was as if she didn't have a friend left in the world.

She sighed, knowing she could never tell her mom the truth. Niki always tried to be strong around her and the other Rangers. If she came out and said how much Cerina's lack of trust hurt her, it would make her look childish and weak; at least in her mind.

Niki: "When I get this morpher, you won't have a choice but to make me a Ranger."

She jumped when she heard a voice behind her. Turning quickly, she saw the woman Miranda had sent after the morpher. She stared down at the child, giving her the same look Shard had given her.

Jane: "Niki."

Niki, confused: "Who are you? How do you know my name?"

Jane: "Your mother told you to stay on the ship."

Niki: "So?"

Jane: "Miranda sent me after that morpher. You know you can't be a Ranger. Your mom would just worry about you and that would give Shard the advantage."

Niki: "She'll get over it. You can go back to where ever that lady got you from, cause I'm taking these powers. We don't need you."

Jane: "You can't risk this planet's safety because you want to throw a tantrum. The fact is you are too little. You were given the chance before because of that girl's pregnancy. There was no other choice then. I'm afraid now that is not the case. I am perfectly willing to take your place and you don't have a say in the matter."

Niki: "If you want it, you're gonna have to kill me to get it."

Ignoring Jane, Niki resumed her digging. The woman sighed, frustrated with how stubborn she was being. She would rather risk all of Stregna than turn over the powers and be a normal kid. As she watched her dig, she began to see what was really going on. It was like a game to Niki. At some point, a lot of kids dream of being Power Rangers and she was allowed to live that dream. In a way it bothered her to have to be the one to take that away from her, but there was no other option. She, like Miranda, didn't believe a child could do the job. She was sure the importance of their mission would be lost on her.

Jane: "This isn't a game, Niki. You might think it's fun playing hero all the time, but this is serious. If you make a mistake, you don't get another life like some video game. You die out here or let somebody else die, that's it. It's over. You can't play again. You need to accept the fact that this is not what you're supposed to do."

Niki was still digging; the dirt and sand piling up under her finger nails. Jane's words meant nothing to her.

Jane: "You should be playing with dolls and going to school. Watch cartoons and color. Saving the world is not anything the average kid should worry about."

Niki: "Nothing about my life has ever been average. How many kids can say their mom is a trained killer? How many had to wait up nights, not knowing if she'd even come home at all? I'm not like other kids. When I was stuck in Vulca's palace, I was forced to grow up. I didn't have a dad to lean on or any family at all to lie and say everything would be okay. Mom was all I had and I knew she put her butt on the line every day working for the queen. I have never been normal and I never will be."

Jane: "This is your chance to change all that. You're going to be grown up for an awfully long time. Enjoy your youth while you've still got it."

Niki: "It's too late for that. I'm a Ranger, like it or not."

Jane: "Do you remember how you felt when Cerina risked everything in battle for Vulca? It probably scared you to death, didn't it?"

She didn't answer. Just kept her eyes on the hole and continued searching.

Jane: "That is the same way she feels when you go out there. You didn't want to lose her then and she doesn't want to lose you now. It's the same thing. You don't want her to go through that, do you?"

Niki's eyes lit up when she saw the sun reflecting off of a silver metal spec in the sand. The joy on her face resembled that of a normal kid on Christmas morning. Working faster now, she dug the little device up and held it tightly in her hand. Turning back to face Jane, she saw she was looking right at the morpher, expecting her to hand it over.

Niki: "Mom said she could handle the danger and she was right. I'm just like her. Now you want this morpher so bad, come and get it."



Scene 4:

Ecliptor looked from Cyann to the burning forest and tried to figure out a way to get to his morpher. He didn't want to hurt his former love, but no matter what, he couldn't let her stand in his way. Taking a deep breath, he charged past her, feeling the burning of her blast all across his back. It didn't stop him. Ignoring the pain, he went full speed into the fire engulfed woods, following the signal from the box in his hand. Everything around him was covered in a ray of red and black. He looked up, but couldn't see the sky through the thick smoke that billowed from the trees.

He ran for hours without a word, not stopping or even slowing down. He could feel the heat draining his energy. Finally, his legs gave out and he fell to one knee in the middle of the forest. Struggling to keep moving, his systems were shorting out. He knew he had not been built for such conditions, but once again didn't listen when common sense told him to stop. This mess was his fault. Had he listened to himself and never resurrected Cyann, things would have been different. Ecliptor was not going to let his mistake be the Rangers' downfall.



Scene 5:

Cerina stood in front of an army of Shard's men; her expression challenging them to come forward. The girl she had met, Kayla, was hiding behind a cactus. She looked terrified, seeing the huge warriors. Their muscles bulged and their faces were completely without emotion. Life with Shard had hardened them into unfeeling monsters, even though human blood flowed through their veins.

Two of them charged Cerina, grabbing her arms. They threw her onto the ground, preparing to attack. When one stood over her, she jumped up quickly, kicking him in the chest with both feet and returning to a standing position. She heard another coming up behind her, tucked, and rolled out of the way. The girl looked down at the morpher and wondered if she should let it go.

Cerina: "Give me the morpher! Throw it!"

Kayla could see she didn't work for Vulca anymore, but still couldn't make sense of what was happening. She had never seen the Viking warriors before and didn't know if they themselves were good or bad. Trusting Cerina seemed like a fool's game and she was not willing to take the risk that blonde the was still a part of the empire that attacked her planet.

One of the warriors tried to strike her with his ax while she was distracted, but she grabbed onto the weapon before it hit. Flipping it around, she pushed it up, jamming the blade into the center of his face. The gruesome sight made Kayla cringe, but Cerina seemed unaffected. Pulling the blaster off her belt, Cerina shot one of the men dead and took the ax from him. Though it was heavy, she managed to use it to block the next two attacks. The sound of grinding metal echoed across the vast, empty desert. She forced one of the warrior's hands up and stabbed him with the weapon she had taken. He too was down. Dropping to her knees, she tripped another, coming back up to impale him with the ax through the stomach.

Cerina, still desperate: "The morpher! Give it here!"

She blocked two more axes coming at her, doing her best to hold them off. If she released the force she was holding them at for even a second, she would have been no better than their mutilated team mates. Suddenly, she heard the girl scream and her attention instantly went to her, giving the man time to knock her back to the ground, kicking her when she fell. Another of them stood in front of Kayla; an evil smile on his face. She screamed as loud as she could and tried to run, but he was too fast. The man punched her in the face, knocking her out cold. She fell limp to the ground.

On the ground herself, Cerina returned her attention to the one standing over her. Swinging the ax that she still held, she slit his throat with the blade. In a flash, the others disappeared, leaving her alone at last. Cerina lay on her back for the longest time, trying to catch her breath. She finally released her grip on the weapon. After a while, she forced herself up again, looking at Kayla.

She went over to her, knelt down, and ripped the morpher from her wrist. Without a second thought, she stood upright again and strapped it on. She glanced down at the girl for a second, but made no effort to help her. Despite what she told herself, the evil nature she had developed with Vulca was still very much a part of her. Running her hands through her hair, she started back towards the ship.



Scene 6:

Miranda had found her morpher lost in some tall weeds, way back in the field. When she picked it up, it flew out of her hand as she was forced to release. A light blue blast hit her; the pain removing all voluntary action from her hand. Turning, she saw Destructsa standing on the grass, leaning calmly on his sword. She stood slowly; her eyes growing cold. Just the sight of him brought out the worst in her.

Destructsa: "Long time since it's been just you and I. How I've missed our time together."

Miranda: "Go to Hell!"

Destructsa: "Don't tell me you're still upset over those knuckle walkers you call a family. I thought for sure you would be able to look past that. Why, if they hadn't died, we'd have never met. And just think of all the fun we had."

Miranda: "You took away my whole world! And now.... you don't even care! Those people could have been something, but you cut them down before they ever had a chance! Innocent, hard working people lost their lives because of you!"

Destructsa: "Get over it. They were nothing and we both know it. But you.... you've changed, Miranda, and you have me to thank for that. I made you who you are. If not for me, you would dead now. Don't you think you owe me?"

Miranda: "I owe you shit. Death would have been far better than what you put me through!"

Destructsa, nodding: "That can be arranged."

Laughing, he threw his sword at her. It spun rapidly through the air, striking her. Then returned to his hand. Miranda growled, fighting back the pain of his direct hit. Not thinking, she charged at him, throwing a punch, but he only caught her fist, holding her there. He used the opening she gave him to punch her twice in the face, before letting her go and kicking her in the stomach on her way to the ground. Destructsa looked down at her, shaking his head in disappointment.

Destructsa: "You were once a challenge, Miranda. It's a shame you have allowed age to get the better of you."

Grabbing onto his arms, she fell onto her back, taking the monster with her. Once she let go, he continued to roll until he was behind her slightly. She got up with out the slightest pause and threw a high kick, hitting him in the mouth. He tried to go for the sword again, but she kicked it out of his hand and watched it land standing straight up in the dirt.

Destructsa: "You can do better than that!"

One her second attempt to kick him, Destructsa tripped her, but she managed to jump right back up, blocking his next two punches and while holding his hands, kneed him in the stomach. This was followed through by two hard hits in the face that sent a serge of pain through her whole hand. Only now did she realize she had been fighting metal with flesh. Looking down, she saw blood on her knuckles, but didn't care. All she wanted was to see him dead, no matter what the cost.

Miranda turned quickly and saw the morpher behind her. It had landed just outside the tall grass. She turned her attention back to her enemy, using her head for the first time during the battle. She knew she couldn't afford to let her hatred for him cloud her judgment. If that were the case, the entire planet would be at risk. Coming at him, Destructsa grabbed her by the throat and threw her over next to the morpher, not seeing it himself.

Miranda, quietly: "Yes."

While he retrieved his sword, she stuck the morpher in the pocket of her faded blue jeans. The warrior fired two blasts at her, which knocked her back into the weeds. She was temporarily hidden from him. Outside, she could hear him walking around, waiting for her. He searched through the mess and finally was right on top of her. Sweat poured down Miranda's forehead; completely uncertain weather or not he'd seen her. Noticing that he started to turn away, the woman came up quickly into his line of sight, grabbed his armor, and threw him as hard as she could. His retort was to fire two blue eye lasers at her. They successfully knocked her to the ground; her eyes closed slowly.

Destructsa: "Fool."

Not seeing the morpher, Destructsa disappeared, pleased with himself. When she heard him vanish, quickly Miranda's eyes opened and she sat up, removing the morpher from her pocket. She had tricked him and gotten what she was after. Smiling, she looked up at the palace, which towered high above all else in the sky. The morpher felt good in her hand. With it, she felt a sense of safety that she hadn't in a long time.

Miranda: "Now who's the fool?"



Scene 7:

Scorpina turned back to Zedd, surprised. He went over to a bush at the side of the entrance of the cave; its leaves wilted away from the cold. Leaning down, he put his hand in the center of the dead sticks and pulled out the morpher. Scorpina's face filled with confusion, staring back at him.

Scorpina: "You had it?"

Zedd: "I found it hidden in the rock near the back of the cave a few weeks ago. Then, I had no use for it, but also had no interest in helping the Rangers. But since Rita's return, it's been on my mind more and more. I have the power to stop her, but part of me doesn't want to. She's my wife."

Scorpina: "She's also trying to kill you. Use you head. If she dies because you were forced to protect yourself, it's her own damn fault. Don't you feel guilty about it. Rita started this. You have every right to finish it, should it come down to you or her."

Not listening, he threw the morpher to her.

Zedd: "You wanted it; it's yours. I have no desire to go down that road again. I tried to destroy her once and it haunted me for years. If I do it again and she really does die, I won't be able to forgive myself. You.... you're a trained warrior. I've seen what you're capable of when we were against Zordon's soldiers. Death doesn't effect you."

Scorpina: "It doesn't matter to you either usually, but Rita.... I know she's different. That isn't the point. Even though she blames us both for this, you are going to be her main target. You are her husband; you're the one who broke her heart, not me. If you give me this morpher, you're giving up your life and I won't let you do that."

She didn't wait for his response before tossing it back to him. He looked from the morpher to his old flame, trying to make sense of the million questions in his mind. He didn't know if she was right or not and if she ended up wrong, it would mean her life would be over. It was truly up to Rita which of them lived or died and they had to do their best to guess her next move before the morpher was given to either of them.

Scorpina: "Take it, Zedd. Go to Cerina and tell her you want to join them. Out here in the cave, you're leaving yourself open for attack. You need the Rangers and the Dark Fortress to keep yourself safe."

Zedd: "What about you? If she finds you....."

Scorpina: "If that woman can find me, she deserves to kill me. I hid from you back in '94 and you didn't find me for close to six months. I've spent my whole life running from one problem or another. It's nothing new to me. You need more than that and I understand. You were born to have a real life, people talk to, somewhere to go at the end of the day. The truth is, that's just not me. I'd rather be out here in the wilderness. Since Galaxia killed Goldar, I've gone back to how I used to be. When he and Rita were locked away in the space dumpster all that time, I didn't need anybody. I learned to live on my own and eventually grew to enjoy it."

Zedd: "You can't go back to that jungle. If I find the Rangers..... I want you to come with me. You remember how big the fortress is from our first time as Rangers. There's plenty of room for both of us."

Scorpina: "You know that'll never work. You and I just aren't meant to be. Maybe in a different world we could have been friends, but not now. We went to far on Onyx and that failed relationship killed our friendship as well. Part of me will always care about you, Zedd, but it can't be like it was. You love Rita. There's no room in your life for me."

Zedd: "But if you understand that I love her, why not come back as friends? It doesn't make sense."

She turned away from him, not saying a word. He watched her, confused. He wondered if he should continue, but figured they knew each other too well to hold back.

Zedd: "Scorpina....."

Scorpina, turning quickly back around: "Because I love you, damnit! That's why! I can't look at you every day and know that Rita is the only woman you feel anything for! I won't be your second choice to her!"

Zedd: "Couldn't you ignore that? Pretend things were the way they were before."

Scorpina: "It's no different! I felt the same for you then as I do now! Why do you think I left the palace when you took over? I couldn't serve you and feel this way. If I stayed, I would have been forced to choose between you and Goldar and I just can't do it. I only came back that day to help you with the Black Ranger because I thought maybe you would see me differently. You didn't. So I can't pretend to see you as a friend, just like you couldn't see me as anything more than that."

They were both quiet for a long time. This was the most open they'd ever been with each other. Throughout the thousands of years they had worked side by side, Scorpina never once spoke this way. In fact, Zedd thought this had been the most he'd ever heard her talk at one time.

Scorpina: "Take the morpher and go."

He sighed, starting on a path down what remained of the mountain. Scorpina once again turned away from him. The warrior inside her would not let her cry, even though the part of her that was still a woman begged her to let her feelings out. Her whole life, she bottled everything up and wasn't about to let go now. Instead, she picked up a large rock and smashed it to dust in her hand.



Scene 8:

Niki held onto her morpher tightly as Jane decided her next move. Clearly the child wasn't going to give it up and she knew what she had to do. In a flash, Rita appeared behind them, causing Niki to turn away from her other problem and face the villainess. She studied her for a minute, clearly thrown by her hair. She had never seen anything like that before.

Niki: "Who are you?"

Rita: "I am Rita Repulsa and you are going to turn that morpher over to me."

Niki: "It didn't give it up to her and you ain't get'n it either!"

Rita: "Suit yourself." Raising her scepter into the air, "Now Morphica!"

Niki spun around in time to see Jane's eyes flash red. She lost herself in wicked laughter as she transformed into a monster. Her skin was blue and she wore maroon armor; two blades sticking out of her wrists. The long black hair remained, now tied back in a pony tail that hung out of a crown type head piece.

On Rita's signal, Morphica came at Niki. Startled, she ducked, rolling behind her and returning to her feet. Before the monster could get another shot, she jumped into the air, landing with her legs around its head. While up there, she threw punches wildly, hoping she could phase it. Angry, Morphica grabbed her by the back of the neck and threw her. She landed hard on her knees in the sand, looking back at them. Rita stood back, laughing.

Rita: "Give it to us and we might let you live."

Niki: "Forget it, ya old witch!"

Niki returned to her feet only to be met with a shower of blasts from Rita's staff. Quickly, she did several backflips, dodging each blast. Once out of range, she stopped, spun around, and held the mopher on her wrist. Pushing a button on the side, she teleported off the beach, just as a blast hit.



Scene 9:

Ecliptor's whole body moved slowly, the heat gradually wearing down his system. Everything began to look blurry to him as he desperately scanned the flaming forest for the morpher. Behind him, he could hear Cyann's footsteps. She walked through the fire, feeling no pain. Ecliptor turned, noticing her behind him now. The fire rose up around her and it occurred to him that pain is only a human sensation. His beloved was immune to it, just as she was to any type of emotion.

Looking around, he began to wonder how different Hell would be from his current state. He was trapped in a ring of fire with the woman he cared more for than his own life ready to kill him. Standing up the rest of the way, he realized that should he die there, nothing would change. His world had come crashing down.

Ecliptor: "That's it!"

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the morpher stuck inside the base of a tree. Taking it, he looked back at Cyann again. His accomplishment didn't phase her. He was so used to battling people with feelings. The Space Rangers, Dark Spector; they all had some goal; a reason for their actions. But Cyann, nothing mattered to her. She wasn't doing this out of revenge or a quest for power; only the sensation of seeing living things die as she had. What difference would his possession of a morpher make to her? Seeing that there was nothing more he could do, Ecliptor teleported from the forest; praying she got out as well.



Scene 10:

Hours later, Ecliptor sat on a lab table on the Dark Fortress; Miranda doing his best to repair the damage he had obtained during his search. She worked quickly, looking as though she didn't have to think. It was like second nature to her and this impressed him. Even with her vendetta against Shard, she still managed to acquire a great deal of knowledge. This was the first time a woman of her age had dawned a morpher, thus the only time Ecliptor or any Ranger could benefit from her life experience.

Miranda: "So this woman, Cyann, you ran into her again?"

Ecliptor: "She torched the forest that my morpher was in. She and I.... we faced off out there and I still could not bring myself to harm her. She could have taken so many innocent lives in that fire, but I couldn't make that sink in."

Miranda: "You're in love with her. Common sense, it just doesn't apply. You said Karone showed you what love was and because of that, she made you as close to human as any robot will ever be. You can't stop Cyann because your heart won't let you."

Ecliptor: "Do you speak from experience?"

She was quiet for a minute. The question had made her stop what she was doing and stand frozen in place, thinking it over. The answer had never occurred to her until that second.

Miranda: "No. I.... I understand it, but me, I've never been in love. It's just not in me anymore."

Ecliptor: "Why would you say that?"

Miranda: "I'm fifty years old, Ecliptor. I'm not a kid anymore like these other Rangers. I have lived my whole life chasing after Shard and by now, I'm okay with that. I don't need love to fill a hole in my life that isn't there, ya know?"

Ecliptor: "You speak as though it is too late, and I can assure you that is not true."

Miranda: "I'm not a robot like you. I was born and one day I'm going to die. I don't have millions of years to spend looking for some guy that I'll never find. I don't have that much time left. Why spend it playing a game I can't win? It's pointless." She paused. "Not love itself, but me looking for it. If you're one of the lucky ones who finds somebody spend your life with, great. I'm happy for ya. But it wasn't meant for me."

Ecliptor: "I said the same thing until I met Cyann. She changed my life in ways you couldn't imagine. And as for your mortality, isn't that all the more reason to try to be happy? Make the most of the time you have. Immortals have all the time in the world and we piss it away on these petty grudges. I wouldn't wish the same for you."

Miranda: "If your relationship with that girl was so fulfilling, why are you in this shape? If you had never met her, you'd never know what you're missing. You wouldn't be longing for somebody who was gone. It would be like nothing happened."

Ecliptor: "Maybe. But even with this pain, I wouldn't trade the time we had together for anything."

Miranda nodded, not saying anything more. She had never realized how much of her life had passed her by. She was now fifty years old, no husband, no kids, no real life outside of war. Ecliptor had made her realize that she was doing exactly what Dark Spector's menions had done, only she didn't have the same eternity to do it in.



Scene 11:

Niki had been sent to her room upon returning from the beach. She was lying on her back, kicking her feet against the bed. She wanted to lash out, break things, and show her mother how mad she really was, but of course that wouldn't have worked. Throwing a fit only gets kids grounded longer and she knew that, despite the fact that this was her first grounding ever. Before, Niki and Cerina had been more like friends than mother and daughter. Cerina never bothered to discipline her, believing that she didn't need it. This is what made Niki think that her mom saw her as an adult. Now she realized Cerina had her mind on other things. Parenting didn't come as a top priority when they lived in the palace, under Vulca's rule.

A couple hours after she had been sent to her room, Niki heard a knock at the door.

Niki: "Go away!"

Ignoring her, Cerina opened the door and entered slowly. She had the morpher in her hand and a sad expression on her face. She leaned against the wall, trying to give her daughter some space.

Niki: "Get out!"

Cerina: "Baby, I was wrong. I know I blew up earlier about you taking the morpher. I was tired and stressed out and I didn't mean to take it out on you. You did completely ignore me back there. You saw what you wanted and went after it, no matter what anybody said."

Niki: "Like you."

Cerina: "It pissed me off at the time, but I see that now. You are like me and I should have taken that into consideration before I grounded you. Any wild dangerous thing you do, you got that impulse from me. I didn't have any right to blame you for that. Between your genes and what you see around here, anybody would have expected you to go after this thing anyway."

She tossed the morpher onto the bed, smiling. Niki looked back at her, confused.

Cerina: "It's yours. You earned it."

Niki: "Ya mean it?"

Cerina: "Yeah. I think it's a little late for me to try to be a good parent. When we were stuck with Vulca, you grew up and sometimes I forget that. You're not some helpless kid and you made me understand that." She paused. "If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be here right now. The queen would have killed me on the mountain that day, but you..... you proved to me you're more than capable of being a Ranger."

Niki: "You thought about that day too?"

Cerina: "I think about it a lot, actually. That was the last time we saw Vulca and in the end, she came through for us. Had that stuff not happened, I'd still look at you as a little girl and you getting this morpher today wouldn't have made a difference. It seems like anybody can get one these things now, but it takes a real Ranger to do what you did. You risked your life for me and I'm sorry I forgot that."

Jumping up off the bed, the child ran over, throwing her arms around her mother. They were once again each others best friends and Cerina couldn't have been happier. It broke her heart to fight with Niki, even on the few times it happened. Of course she wouldn't have approved of her going out alone the way she did, but there wasn't anything she could do. Looking back, she had done the same thing and her sister Tracy would have too, given the opportunity. That wild streak was in her blood.

Niki, looking up at her mom: "Does that Miranda woman still have a stick up her butt?"

Cerina: "The size of a human leg, sweetie. You have no idea!" She thought for a moment. "I guess she isn't that bad, she just seems like kind of a hard ass. I don't want to start this team out the wrong way like I did before. That whole feud with Ransik and Kelly was as much my fault as it was theirs. I want to try and make this work. We've got a new start now and that doesn't happen too often."

Niki: "Shoot!"

Cerina, letting herself fall back against the wall: "Oh God, what did you do?"

She didn't answer, but the adorable little girl practically had 'guilty' written all over her face. Cerina sighed, but couldn't help cracking a smile. This too was part of who they were as a family and she might as well get used to it."

Cerina: "Niki...."

Niki: "Well, I found a bunch of bottles of shaving cream in the cabinet. I guess they were that Karone girl's brother's or something. Anyway..... just tell Miranda not to open her purse. Maybe she won't notice for a while."

Miranda from several floors down: "What the Hell?"

Niki: "Oops."


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