Title: Hymn to Fayth
Summary: AU. Ziggy awakens an ancient power within himself and ends up joining the Rangers before he could ever join the Cartels. Dillon is guided to Corinth by a mysterious voice and learns the values of trust, friendship, love, and faith.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers or anything related to the franchise. I do not own anything recognizable as from one of the Final Fantasy games.
Hymn to Fayth
Her heart raced in her chest and she found her breath coming in quick pants. She focused hard on calming them down so she didn't arouse suspicion. There was no denying that she had never felt so alive. It was a wonderful feeling. She had forgotten how it felt to be human. All she could remember was the empty coldness of being the machine Venjix had claimed she was, the machine she knew she wasn't. If she had the time, she would have become so overwhelmed by the experience she probably would have cried.
But she didn't have that time.
She tried not to run down the metal halls of Venjix's palace, tried not to draw any more attention to herself than was strictly necessary. No one could know, not yet. Not with Dillon sitting complacently in one of the cells. She couldn't be found out until an escape route had been secured for her brother. Not until then.
She slipped easily and undeterred into one of the main computer rooms, gathering a haughty air around her and ordering the Grinders there out. She waited until they were gone then breathed a sigh of relief. This time she did run. It took her only moments to bring up the file on the attack-bot Shifter had designed. As quickly as she could, because every moment here was just another moment to be caught, she downloaded the files and unlatched her mechanical hand, one part of her mind already separating from reality in order to guide it to Dillon.
"The coding for Shifter's attack-bot?"
She jumped at the sudden, unmistakable voice and spun around. Kilobot towered above her, his gaze as menacing as an emotionless robot's could be. She resisted the urge to gulp. She couldn't be human now. She couldn't blow everything when they were so close. She met his gaze evenly, trying to make hers as steely as possible. "Shifter is a traitor. He needs to be made an example of." She snapped at him.
"I find it interesting that you managed to bring in a Ranger without his morpher without a scratch." Kilobot told her, stepping closer to her. Her breath caught in her throat and she had to struggle not to panic. Fear tightened her throat and it was only the knowledge that her brother still wasn't safe that kept her from falling apart in terror. A shiver of alarm slipped down her spine. "Are you questioning my loyalty?" she hissed, forcing herself to step forward.
Kilobot leaned closer to her and, if he could, she had no doubt he would be glaring at her. Cold sweat broke out across the back of her neck. "I question everything about you." He told her. Her eyes widened before she could stop them. It was over. Kilobot had found her out. Had figured out that she was playing them. She wasn't getting out of here alive.
She grabbed those thoughts and shoved them as far back as she could, refusing to acknowledge them any further. It didn't matter. He hadn't discovered her missing hand yet; she could get Dillon out at least. She could help save the summoner Dillon loved so much. That would have to be enough. She closed her eyes briefly, letting a single image pass beneath her closed eyelids. The very first time she had seen Dillon and Ziggy together, the older cradling Ziggy to his chest like he was the most precious thing in the world. There was a fragile innocence to the moment. Something worth protecting. She looked back at Kilobot. "I am not afraid of you." She whispered quietly but forcibly.
The alarms activated.
She didn't bother to hide her vicious grin. "The Black Ranger, my brother, is already gone." She told him. "He's has the codes to take down the attack-bot and protect the summoner. You will lose this war. No. You already have." She expected the hit that followed her statement but that didn't mean she had the means to avoid it. A sharp gasp escaped her when the hit connected with her jaw, sending her sprawling to the ground. She gingerly raised a hand to touch her cheek and looked up at him, defiance burning an artificial courage through her. She stood slowly, glaring at him. "If I go down, I'm taking you with me." She told him, raising her arms into a defensive position.
Before either could do anything, she noticed a dark red glow coming from behind Kilobot. She gapped at it, making Kilobot turn around. The move allowed her to see Dillon there. Her heart froze in her chest. No! No, he should have left! As she watched, her brother charged and punched Kilobot, his closed fist giving a blast of dark red light when it connected. Kilobot dropped to the ground, electrical sparks emitting from where Dillon had punched him, bit and pieces of his metal covering falling to the ground. "What was that?" she asked quietly, watching as Dillon stood up and shook his hand out.
Dillon moved over to her quickly. "Armor Break. Guardian powers." He smiled at her slightly and lifted his hand, revealing her detachable one. "I left you here once. I'm not going to do it again. Come on."
Even as she raced after him, down the cold metal halls and out into the dead Wastelands, warmth spread through her and tears strung at her eyes. She was finally coming home.
It was a strange feeling, entering the Garage for the second time as an ally; the first time she ever did so knowing she wouldn't be attacked. The main building was empty and her footsteps echoed hollowing around the large, vacant area. This was a place that until very recently she had always known to be the base of the enemy. Now it wasn't. Now it was her brother's home; her home, if she got optimistic about the other Rangers' acceptance of her. It would take getting used to.
There were only two rooms in the building that were occupied. The lab and one of the Rangers' rooms. She didn't dare spare a glance for the closed door that led to the Green Ranger's room, heading for the lab the minute she got her barrings. Doctor K was inside as she had expected, typing away at her computers with a frown. The young doctor looked up when her ears finally caught the sound of her footsteps, looking surprised but pleased with her entrance. Tenaya spared a thought to consider telling her to improve the security of this place but she didn't pause to take the time. She quickly handed off the chip but didn't wait to hear what she had to say.
This time she did look up at the door leading to Ziggy's room; this time she headed for it. She would much rather be going to help her brother but Dillon had requested she stay and watch Ziggy until he awoke. A part of her wished he was already awake, recovering from the machine's last attack but he wasn't. She found him still asleep, resting peacefully in the bed, practically dead to the rest of the world. Only months of fighting against him prevented her from falling for the illusion that he was helpless.
She sat down heavily on the ground next to the bed, dropping her head into her hands and taking deep breathes. She soaked in the power pulsing from the walls, the calm and warmth that echoed not only in the room but also through the entire building. It was so different from the palace, so much more alive in so many ways. It was wonderful.
She was jerked from her pleasant daze from Ziggy shifted, a soft groan tumbling from her lips. She shot up, staring eagerly down at the younger man as his eyes slid open to look blankly up at her. "You okay?" she demanded.
His gaze flickered to her in puzzlement before awareness returned to his eyes. "They won." He told her softly. She didn't question how he knew that, frankly didn't want to know how, but she breathed a heavy sigh of relief and turned to fly out of the room. Before she could, Ziggy's hand wrapped like steel around her wrist, preventing her from leaving. Fear flashed briefly through her but she pushed it away, focusing on how Ziggy had stared at her before she had run, with compassion and understanding. He would at the least force himself to like her for the mere reason that she was Dillon's sister. She turned to look back at him. Ziggy stared back at her, his eyes earnest. "They won't let you go." He whispered. "No matter what you do, they won't let you go."
She shivered at his words, knowing somewhere deep down that, he was telling the truth. Venjix would find a way to keep her. And even if he didn't, he would never allow the Rangers to have her. 'Stay here' she read in Ziggy's gaze. 'For now, stay here. You're safe.'
For now at least.
So she stayed with him until the others arrived back. Then she helped him down the stairs and watched as he dashed into the circle of Dillon's arms. Dillon held him close, burying his face in Ziggy's mess of hair and breathing deeply. The other Rangers stood back from them, allowing them their moment with identical goofy smiles on their faces. Then Dillon raised his head to look at her and smiled, mouthed 'Thank you', and held out one hand to her. She hesitated then stepped forward and took it, allowing her brother to pull her in next to Ziggy.
The young summoner's eyes were closed in bliss and there was a wide smile on his face as he leaned his head against Dillon's shoulder. He radiated an aura of power that none of the other Rangers seemed aware of anymore and there was a sense of peacefulness around him that soothed her on the deepest level. She closed her eyes as well and surrendered herself to the peace of the moment, the warmth and safety. Gave into the colorful, beautiful world the Rangers had created.
And if she cried, just a little, in relief, then the others were polite enough not to say anything about it.
Three Weeks Later
Dillon watched his best friend with a small smile. Ziggy was laid out on the couch, a small notebook propped up on his raised knees as he wrote in it. His handwriting was small and thin and he often worried the end of the pen between his teeth. "What are you doing?" He asked.
Ziggy tilted his head back to look at him upside down and grinned widely. "Hey!" He greeted. He immediately shifted so he was facing him, dropping pen and notebook to the ground without a second thought. "Nothing really. What about you?"
He raised an eyebrow and walked forward, leaning down to snatch up the book he had dropped. "Nothing? Mind if I look?" he asked. A panicked look flashed across Ziggy's face and he reached for the notebook again. "No, you can't!" Ziggy protested. Dillon stepped back quickly, holding the book teasingly above Ziggy's searching hands and chuckling softly. Ziggy's panicked expression grew stronger the longer Dillon held it away from him and Dillon actually thought it was rather funny. "Oh come on, why can't I look?"
A deep blush started to spread across Ziggy's cheeks. "There are things in there that are personal!" he complained. He stepped back and scowled at the older, much taller man. "Give it back or I'll call Shiva." He warned. Dillon smirked.
"Should I be scared?" he asked. Ziggy nodded sharply, his dark look slightly ruined by the blush that refused to fade. He smiled and handed back the book, still chuckling to himself. Ziggy immediately snatched the book from his hands and held it tight to his chest, frowning up at him. Dillon reached forward, running his hand through Ziggy's hair in a teasing gesture, hoping it would calm him. The younger man merely batted his hand away, still looking irritated but the threat of a summons was gone.
"What is that thing anyway?" he asked as Ziggy sat back down. One of Ziggy's shoulders lifted upwards in a small shrug.
"It's a journal. I use it to keep my thoughts straight, especially back when I first became a Summoner. It's very important to me." Ziggy whispered. Dillon nodded and sat down next to him, resting his head back against the seat. Ziggy was silent for a moment then spoke up. "They stopped you know."
Dillon looked over at him. "They did? I mean, what did?"
"The visions I was having. They stopped." Ziggy whispered the words softly, like he didn't want anyone else to hear but Dillon. Dillon's eyes widened in surprise. "They did?" He asked, again, in surprise. "Since when?"
Ziggy turned his head to look at him with dark, serious eyes. "When Tenaya joined us. I was right, I think. About them not letting her go. If she'd followed you, they would have taken her. We would have lost her."
Dillon smiled slightly and wrapped an arm around Ziggy's shoulders, pulling him closer. "But we didn't. Did we?" Ziggy shook his head and laughed slightly. Almost immediately, his laughter died out though, replaced by a dark pensive look and tight, unreal smile. Ziggy wouldn't look at him. "What's wrong?" he asked, worry settling tight in his stomach.
"Tenaya has headaches." Ziggy whispered. "Really bad ones. They make her really sick sometimes. I think she nearly passed out once from the pain."
"Why didn't she tell me?" he asked. Ziggy looked up at him again. "She doesn't want to worry you."
"But she worries you?" There was disbelief in his tone now. Ziggy merely shrugged again. "I'm a non-addictive painkiller, Dillon. Of course she told me." There was nothing Dillon could say to that, so he sighed and pulled the younger man closer. "I really hope everything's going to be okay." Ziggy merely sighed and settled into his embrace with a small smile.
"I don't mean to interrupt,"
Flynn looked up at the words, slowly pulling his attention away from the project him and Gemma were working on to stare at the young woman in front of him. Tenaya smiled slightly at him then glanced at something over her shoulder. "I just want to confirm something. We are absolutely sure those two aren't dating… right?"
He followed her gaze to see Dillon and Ziggy nestled on the couch in the next room, Dillon's arm looped around Ziggy's shoulder. It was a pose the rest of the team had gotten used to in the last few months. Ziggy relied on Dillon for a lot of physical and sometimes even psychological support. But for Tenaya, who was still adjusting to the dynamic of the team, it would seem off. "Don't worry." He told her. "We're sure. Although a few of us wish we could pretend that they'd gotten over themselves already." He smiled slightly and shared a look with Gemma. By a few, he really meant just Scott.
"Are they that bad?" Tenaya asked.
Gemma nodded along with him. "You know," the female twin whispered, as if she was sharing a secret, "Whenever Scott complains I always get the urge to mention that if they act like that now when they haven't said anything to each other, then he should imagine how they'll act when they actually get together." He snorted in amusement and shared a brief grin with her. Looking back at Tenaya, he laughed softly at the mixture of horror and mirth on her face.
"Lovely." Tenaya replied sarcastically. She gave them another look. "Any chance I can help you with… whatever that is?" she asked. Flynn hesitated and looked down at the new small weapon him and Gemma were working on. Gemma beat him to an answer. "Actually, I think Doctor k could use more help than we do."
Tenaya stared at them for a minute. "You think?" she asked. Gemma nodded again. A small smile twitching at her lips, she turned on her heel and walked resolutely towards the lab. Flynn looked down at the young woman helping him. "Do you honestly think the Doc's gonna let her help?"
Gemma shrugged. "There's a first time for everything." She replied.
One week later
Ziggy frowned up at the packed ice ball he was holding. It dangled from a thin string that was tied around a small stick. Every time he tried to bite the strange snack, he ended up knocking it away. It was starting to get very annoying. He looked over at Dillon and Tenaya. They didn't seem to be having a problem, although Tenaya did have to hold one hand under it because the brightly colored, cherry-flavored syrup she had had added to hers was dripping off of it. So instead of merely letting the drops fall to the ground, she was having the sticky flavoring pool in her hand and make a big mess. Made complete sense to him.
He turned his attention back to his own snack and tried to eat it again. Again, he failed. "My food is being problematic." He told his friends.
Both of them looked over at him in amusement. "Most powerful person on the planet and he can't figure out a simple Ice World." Tenaya muttered and shook her head before cheerfully catching a few drops of syrup with her tongue. Ziggy shot her an annoyed glare before turning back to the ice treat.
"Hold this." Dillon ordered, handing him his own snack and taking his. Ziggy blinked at the quick switch before looking over at him. Dillon was winding the string around the stick and then pushing the packed ice carefully onto said stick. He then switched the treats again, reclaiming his own half-eaten snack. Ziggy stared down at his own for a moment before taking a careful bite. He smiled when the ice immediately melted across his tongue and proceeded to devour it. Next to him, Tenaya shook her head and whispered to herself. "I could say so many things about that, it's not even funny."
Unfortunately, Dillon heard her and jabbed her in the ribs with his elbow. She winced slightly and yelped in protest, making the small pool of syrup in her hand splash everywhere. Ziggy looked over at them in confusion but both returned to their snacks.
Later, on the way back to the Garage, Ziggy was hard pressed to ignore the whispers and stares that followed them. Every person in the city recognized them as Rangers, had for the longest time. However, it seemed like every time he went out, more and more people were recognizing him by the title of 'Summoner'. Every time, there was a bit more awe in their eyes, a bit more wonder, as if he was something otherworldly. Like he was somehow different or even better than the rest of the Rangers when barely a year ago, despite being a well-recognized member of the Ranger team, he had been practically invisible. But now, every time he entered the city, words that somehow gained a new meaning on the lips of another chased him. Whispers of summoners, and Guardians, and 'those freaky things called Aeons'.
He really didn't like it.
It was his uncomfortability with the situation and Dillon's sharp perception of his moods that allowed them both to miss the way Tenaya stumbled on the way and clasped at her head as if in great pain. They missed her waver, the daze in her eyes, and the sharp glint of red in her eyes.
It was late. She should be in bed but she couldn't sleep. The rest of the Garage was sound asleep, leaving her alone in the dark. She found it amazing that in a mere four weeks, the Rangers trusted her completely. It was invigorating, having that kind of unconditional trust. She rivaled in it, her brother's love, Ziggy's sweet smiles that made the whole team devoted to him, even the dull looks Doctor K sent her when she did something exceedingly stupid.
She wasn't aware she had stood until the sound of her feet meeting the steps met her ears. She was surprised for a minute then decided it probably was more than time to go to bed. Dillon didn't let her sleep in and she was going to be exhausted in the morning as it was. But, without her permission, her feet carried her past her brother's room, the room she shared, and farther down the hall. She tried to frown but found even that simple action beyond her control. Fear started to cloud her senses and tried to scream but her lips remained firmly sealed. She had absolutely no control of her body.
Her body stopped at another door and pushed it open quietly. The familiar earth tones that met her eyes sent another jolt of fear, even worse this time, through her. It was then she realized there was one of the large knives from the kitchen in hand. When had she picked that up? She struggled in vain to make her feet stop their headlong course to the figure resting on the bed. 'Please stop. No. Please. I don't want to hurt anyone anymore.'
She stopped at the edge of the bed, staring down at the figure huddled beneath the blankets. Ziggy's familiar, warm brown eyes flickered open to stare up at her. He sat up slowly. "Tenaya? Is something wrong?" he asked groggily.
She wanted to tell him, yell at him, that yes something was very wrong. She wanted to yell to him to run, run, scream, shout, tell the entire building that something was wrong. The only thing that happened was her grip tightened around the handle of the knife. Something in Ziggy's eyes shifted and then they widened and his mouth opened. The first syllable of her brother's name escaped before the knife whipped through his throat and stained her world red.
Doctor K looked up when footsteps met her ears. She frowned; it couldn't be any later than five in the morning. None of the Rangers were up any earlier then eight unless Venjix attacked. Tenaya stumbled into the lab then. She was pale and shaking, her arms wrapped tightly around herself. Her hair hung limply around her face and there were tears still falling down her cheeks. She stood up quickly in surprise and walked towards her. "Tenaya? Is everything alright?" she asked quietly.
Tenaya surged forward suddenly to bury into the small girl's arms, small hiccups shaking her body. Doctor K stiffened in surprise, her eyes going wide. She didn't move forward but she didn't move away either. She just stood there, Tenaya wrapped around her small form and hot tears seeping through the thick material of her coat. Then, slowly, she reached forward and curled her arms around Tenaya. Her eyes were still wide and all the muscles in her back were tense but she held her all the same.
Finally, Tenaya pulled back and looked at her with red-rimmed, wild eyes. "I'm in trouble." She whispered. "I'm in so much trouble."
"Slow down." K ordered. "What's wrong?"
"I-I had a… a horrible dream. I ki-…I me-mean, Ziggy, I… What if…there-there's a virus in me? Li-like in Dil-Dillon?"
She held Tenaya back by her shoulders and looked her in the eye. "Calm down and we can find out." As Tenaya tried to take as many deep, steady breathes as she could, Doctor k brought up the detection system for the virus. Then she looked back up at Tenaya. She searched through a few of her drawers before finding a small handkerchief she'd thrown in once when she'd first set it up. With it in hand, she walked forward and carefully tilted Tenaya's face towards her. With a gentleness she had once thought was beyond her, she rubbed away the taller girl's tears as best she could. Once that was done, she led Tenaya slowly through the tests.
Even though she didn't say anything when she got the results, she was fairly sure the expression of despair on her face told Tenaya all she needed to know.
"How is she?" Dillon demanded, staring sadly into the lab.
"I've sedated her for now. I'm afraid she didn't take the news very well." Doctor k replied calmly, although she had to resist the urge to bite her lip in worry, a habit she feared she had picked up from watching her Rangers do it several times.
Ziggy glanced at Dillon, then the lab, then back to her. "How long does she have?" he asked.
"Well, her implants were fairly extensive from the beginning. And that virus has been spreading through her body for quite a while now. I have no idea how they even got it in her. But not long."
Dillon turned to gaze at Ziggy. "Can you help her? Like you did with me?"
Ziggy shook his head. "No, it doesn't work like that. I can't force a Guardian bond. I don't know how." He replied, regret coloring his tone.
"What do you mean you don't know how?" Dillon asked. "The Bond links to you! I also very clearly remember you starting the ritual that set up ours!"
"It's not just a bunch of words Dillon. There are other components that are required. Things you can't force or shape in just a month! If it was that simple Dillon, I would have had a Guardian long before you came along!"
"It wouldn't matter!" K cut in before the two could truly get into their first real argument. "She's that far gone. I don't think there's much we can do by now."
"What do you suggest we do do then?" Dillon asked scathingly, turning his back to Ziggy. The younger man averted his gaze with a wince. She met Dillon's eyes flatly. "Pray." She replied. "It's all you can do."
One week later
Ziggy stared around the broken pieces of the lab in sadness. Scott was slowly helping Doctor K back to her feet while the twins mournfully picked up the remains of the weapon the Doc and Tenaya had been working on. Flynn and Summer were hurriedly using the last main computer to search the city for the now renegade Tenaya. He turned his attention back to the man lying on the table next to him. Dillon was out-cold from the fight with his sister. He had tried to only stop her, not bring her down and it had hurt him. He reached forward and ran his hand through Dillon's hair in regret.
He hadn't been able to save Tenaya after all.
"She's in there somewhere." K whispered suddenly. She looked over at him, cradling an injured arm to her chest. "When she ran, she was crying. She said she was sorry. She's just scared. Really scared." Doctor k looked around at her destroyed lab and then sadly at the weapon she had worked so hard on with Tenaya. "She didn't do anything wrong." She finished. Scott sighed equally sadly and helped her to her chair. Every time she rested weight a little too hard on her left ankle, a pained whimper escaped her throat.
Ziggy felt suddenly angry. Angry at everything. At fate, at his powers, at his inability to save anyone. Not even Tenaya. He was angry at Venjix for ruining everything, angry at Tenaya for running instead of staying and facing the destruction she'd wrought and letting them help her, and angry at everyone that would now mark her as an enemy.
It was the kind of anger that had first allowed him to summon Anima.
He stepped away from Dillon and walked towards the desk that somehow still stood in the center of the destroyed room. "Stay here." He ordered Scott, staring him dead in the eye. "Train. Defend the city. Save the world."
It was an echo of the words he'd first used when he'd met Dillon. This time there was no joke or lightness to them. And the dark, frightening anger in his eyes prevented anyone from arguing with him. He reached across the desk and grabbed the blaster resting there. The blaster that had once been Tenaya's before she had given it up to them in a peace offering when she had joined them. With it in hand, he walked carefully through the ruins. The rest of the Garage was still remarkably untouched.
"What are you going to do?" Doctor K demanded. He turned to look at them over his shoulder. His violent gaze made them shrink back in startled terror. Finally, he looked back at Dillon's silent form. His promise from earlier floated through his head. For too long, Dillon had protected him. No more.
Now it was his turn.
"I don't know. But someone is going to pay for this. So just stay the hell out of my way."