Tuesday, March 28, 2006

PRDT - The Will To Live - PART 7

Disclaimer: The author would like to clarify that Power Rangers and its characters is owned by Saban Brands and not the author.

Doctor Thomas Oliver has a decision to make. A decision that will either be the end of his Ranger career or will delay the inevitable succumbing of the imbalances that have built up over the years. It's only been five days since his re-awakening, but what he has heard is almost plentiful enough.

Three days ago.

Tommy sat on the couch in the living room of his home, with William Cranston leaning on the side of a wall. It was rather quiet in Tommy's house... in fact, it had been rather peaceful all week at Reefside. Hayley had already told the other Dino Rangers of his recovery and asked to give him a few days alone before meeting with him. Justin had returned to home to continue his studies, leaving the two veterans alone to discuss past activities, memories, and other subjects of interest. Eventually, Tommy thought it was time to bring up the 'problem' Billy mentioned earlier... the one he was purposely trying to avoid all day.

Finally, Tommy blurted out the question. "So what caused my death?"

Billy sighed and sat on a chair. "Your constant exposure to differing Ranger powers over the years is the primary cause of your... 'death' as you refer to it."

Tommy looked away briefly before facing his friend again. "What do you mean by that? I mean, Hayley told me pretty much what you told her, but I'd like to know a little more about what's going on."

Billy grimaced. "Well, during the time I've been here, I've been able to analyze your vitals a little more carefully as well as the properties of the Dino Gem itself. I'll tell you the same thing I told Hayley a couple days earlier; each time you switched powers, your body chemistry experiences a slight imbalance. Nothing particularly fatal in its initial stages, but over time and many power changes, these imbalances would eventually cause you to suffer symptoms."

"Like my coma?" Tommy interjected.

"Affirmative," Billy said, "Now when you assumed the powers of the Black Dino Gem and the Black Ranger, somehow those powers caused a much-more inhibiting imbalance in your life force. To an extent, that's what caused your coma in the first place. Hayley told me some of the circumstances preceding this and it's possible that these occurrences might have added to those imbalances in your chemistry. Unfortunately, it's not sufficient cause to putting you to temporary death, so I studied your vitals with a bit more detail and discovered that a trace of the Gamma-Tri disease had been the cause."

"I don't understand."

"You remember Ethan Kain?"

Tommy thought hard until his thoughts came across an incident several years ago, when the original Rangers had encountered Kain, an aged scientist claiming to be one of Rita Repulsa's chosen disciples. It was during the early period of his stint as the White Ranger and newly-appointed leader. "The guy who used some purple gas to knock you guys out? I remember him, but why are you bring that up?"

Billy nodded. "You remember the prognosis Alpha made on you?"

Tommy thought back to the encounter and the circumstances surrounding it. "If I remember right, you guys were affected because some Gamma-Tri traces were flowing in your bloodstream," Tommy replied, "Jason has never made contact with any Gamma-Tri substance, so he isn't susceptible to the plague. As far as I was concerned, Alpha thought it possible that when the Green Candle burned out and I lost my Green Ranger powers the first time, the Gamma Tri particles may have been eliminated." As he said those words, a thought popped into his mind. "Could Alpha had been wrong?"

"I'd say it's possible that your exposure to Gamma Tri was different than the rest of us," theorized Billy, "That's why Alpha didn't catch it at the time, but I can't find any other possible explanation for your condition."

"My condition," Tommy repeated, somewhat confused. "I thought you said I was fine."

The original Blue Ranger raised an eyebrow. "I never said that, Tommy."

"So what are you saying?"

Billy sighed. "Right now, I'm currently studying alternative means of either curing or inhibiting this imbalance in your life. But until we do, I have to suggest that you restrain yourself from morphing into battle."

Tommy hung his head and stood up. "I can't do that, Bill. Mesogog isn't likely to stay quiet for long and I have to be there for my Rangers."

"I'd have to insist that you hold back," Billy said, "Your morphing is only adding to your condition and quite frankly, it's very likely that another incident like this can happen and the next time we won't be as lucky. And if your Rangers need any help, I'm sure Justin or anybody else can fill in while we have the DNA coder disabled." He walked over to Tommy and laid a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Tommy, I'm telling you this as your friend and as someone who had fought beside you and against you in the Ranger ranks. At your current state, a couple morphs will terminate your existence. And there isn't anything we can do to bring you back to life again."

Tommy slumped into his chair, thinking about his current condition. Much as he wants to dispute it, he had to admit Billy was right. Still, he wasn't thrilled about the idea.

"How long am I on morphing probation?"

"I don't know." Billy said, rubbing his chin. "A week at most."

Tommy nodded, satisfied with the answer for now. "Okay, Bill. Take the time you need."



And so Billy went to work on developing a cure or at least some sort of countermeasure and in the meantime, Tommy was on morphing probation. During that period of time, Mesogog sent another monster to bring trouble to Reefside, but fortunately, the Rangers were able to defeat it easily thanks to Conner's Triassic Ranger powers. While he was glad that his Rangers won, he was admittedly disappointed that he wasn't part of the action. But he did give Billy a week to come up and during this time, he'll stay on the side lines. As it turned out, all the time Billy needed was three days of constant work and came by earlier in the morning to meet with Tommy...

"After some deliberation, I've managed to produce two formulas which will counteract the affects of your condition," Billy said, motioning to the two vials of light-blue liquid on the table. One of them had a slightly pinkish tint. "Both of these vials have different properties, but I've ran a few simulations and they should work without much difficulty."

Tommy looked at the two vials curiously and turned back to his friend. "What's the difference?"

The original Blue Ranger cleared his throat. "I'm not going to lie to you. Regardless of which you take, neither has aftereffects you'll like." He pointed to one of the vials. "This pinkish substance is merely a temporary fix; while it won't completely repair the life force imbalance, it will allow you to morph without any fatal consequences. Its main detriment is that it's impossible to determine how long it'll last. Could be anywhere between a few months or a few weeks."

Tommy nodded. "And what about the other one?"

Billy looked at the other vial. "The other one's a more permanent solution. It'll most definitely repair the life force imbalance without question, but doing so will purge any morphigenic compounds and other Ranger-related substances from your bloodstream."

"In other words, I can't morph into the Black Ranger," Tommy realized, "The Dino Gem won't bond with my DNA anymore."

Billy shook his head before Tommy could say anymore. "In other words, you can't morph. Period."

Tommy was almost at a loss of words. "No Dino Gems? No Zeonisers?"

"Nothing," Billy replied, almost sounding sad. "Even any new morphers you haven't touched will reject you."

Tommy was almost at a loss of words, but in all honesty, he wasn't surprised by this. Somehow, he had expected this, since his constant changing of powers, combined with the lingering affects of the Gamma-Tri compound from years earlier, were the indirect cause of his current state.

"In a way, it's akin to a sports star who suffers a career-ending injury that would prevent him from partaking in the sport in a physical way," the Black Ranger reasoned, "Difference is I have a choice between early retirement and delaying the inevitable, but it's not an easy one."

"I know that," Billy said, "That's why I'm giving you the choice. You can take the pink formula and retain your morphing powers, but you'll eventually have to take the other one if you want to live."

Tommy thought for a moment before replying. "I'll have to think about it."



The day went by smoothly for Tommy. Billy had to return to Mariner Bay to take care of some business he had with Lightspeed Rescue's investors while Justin had been long gone. Things slowly returned to normal for Tommy... well, as normal as his life would be. The decision had to be made about the vials, but Tommy was content with putting it aside and just living out life: teaching class, grading papers, and working out in after hours.

When Tommy fell asleep later that night, he had a dream. This dream was different from the others; it was an emptiness similar to what he had experienced, but the emptiness seemed almost too real. When Tommy found himself here, he also found himself face to face with the so-called "alternate universe" version of himself, the bearded man who had been confrontational with him during his tenure in limbo. Thomas Oliver smiled a wicked smile, which made Tommy cringe.

"You know this would happen, didn't you?" the bearded Thomas asked. "Somehow, you knew about this."

Tommy shrugged. "I had a feeling, but it had to happen."

"That's right, Doctor Oliver. It had to happen," Thomas said, his voice almost matching that of Tommy's. "But truthfully, I'm glad it happened to you. Because I don't believe I would have been as calm."

Tommy couldn't help but grin. "I believe that. So what happens to you now?"

"You beat my ass and left me for dead in limbo," Thomas chirped, "But I've gone to the afterlife, to a better place than most are willing to admit. Just as well, I don't think I want to return to my life of violence."

"Circle of violence has to end sometime," Tommy said, "Maybe this was the sign."

Thomas nodded in agreement. "Anyway, I'm just here to apologize and to wish you luck. Whatever decision you make, I hope you live your life well."

Tommy accepted the peace offering and gripped his counterpart's hand. "Thanks, man."

And with that, he woke up. Immediately, he turned on his lamp and checked his clock. It was still late at night, but despite the time, he no longer had a desire to sleep, because Doctor Thomas Oliver has a decision to make. A decision that will either be the end of his Ranger career or will delay the inevitable succumbing of the imbalances that have built up over the years. It's only been five days since his re-awakening, but what he has heard from Billy and from his dream is almost plentiful enough.

Slipping on a black robe, he made the walk out of his bedroom and into his living room, where the two vials were sitting on the glass table. Before making the return trip to Mariner Bay, Billy left them there for Tommy to take whenever he wanted to, but wished to be informed of his decision. Tommy approached the table, dropped onto his couch, and stared at the two vials and contemplated his decision. The pink vial would allow him to morph without consequence, but after an undetermined period of time, its affects will wear off and Tommy will be back to the state that he's in. The other vial contains a more permanent solution, which will not only purge the chemical imbalance causing his condition, but also the properties in his life force that allows him to morph, thus preventing him from being a Ranger ever again.

It was a difficult decision to make and Tommy stayed up long and hard to come to the decision he eventually made after late hours of thinking. But first, he picked up the phone and made the call to Billy's Mariner Bay home. It took a few rings to get through, but eventually he got connected.

"Hello?" Billy's groggy voice replied.

"It's me, Bill. Sorry to wake you, but I've made up my mind..."


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