Disclaimer: Domo arigato gozaimashita to Haim Saban for his creation,
The Power Rangers. Without him, none of this would be. Ted and Chelsea Oliver
are Ellen Brand's. The Next Gen. Rangers (the ones you've never seen, nor ever
will see, on the show), and Lon Trueheart are my creations.
Author Notes from JRL: Okay guys, I gotta make a confession. It's my fault that it took... eight or nine months for this fic to get cranked out. But thanks to Julia for giving me a chance to dust off an old idea that never saw light. And it's already been established. I'm the Rhoda. I mean, duh?
Author Notes from JH: HUGE thanks to Ellen Brand and Jeremy Ray Logsdon. Both of you are never-ending sources of inspiration...and you're both super people. Thank you for the gift of your friendship. And Ellen, thanks for proofing it during your break! Thanks to Kristling Dreamwalker for proofing this...twice! Your never-ending enthusiasm means a lot to me, and keeps the fire burning. Mostly, thanks again to my Lil Bro, JRL. You are, despite what you say, THE Mary. Thanks for putting up with the insanity of collaborating (not to mention everything else). It was a blast! When do we do this again? *wink* Last, but never least, thank you to those of you who hung in there, waiting for me to finish this. That means a LOT to me! Arigato.
_"People are like stained-glass windows.
They sparkle and shine when the sun is out,
but when the darkness sets in,
their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within."
An uneasy peace lay over Angel Grove. Repairs had begun on downtown, but it would be a while before the city's skyline looked as it had before the Wraith attack. Giant cracks in the earth still gaped where smooth streets had once been. Several buildings still lay at tilted angles, waiting to be demolished and re-built. Others already lay in piles of rubble.
One whole half of Angel Grove's downtown area had been demolished in a single night's attack.
The citizens counted themselves lucky to have any kind of lull. Most, who had been unfortunate enough to live in the vicinity of the attack, had moved. People had opened the doors of their homes to take in whole families suddenly homeless. The Shelters were at capacity. The Red Cross had been flooded with donations of food, clothing and money from around the world as the world watched...and waited. They knew what each and every person in the city knew.
This was a city under siege.
While the government debated over the best way to tackle the problem, diplomats tried to establish communications, the military squabbled about when to attack and the world's press waited in eager anticipation for what might be their shot at the Pulitzer Prize. A city of satellite linking, relays and instant broadcast centers had sprung up overnight at the edge of Angel Grove.
It was a siege in more ways than one.
But life went on. Time did pass, too fast for some. For others those families whose children or loved ones were unaccounted for time slowed, until only the changing days on a calendar marked the passage of one hour into the next.
It was a form of torture for them, this waiting. Watching every sunrise, and every sunset. Wondering if this would be the day they might see their loved one again.
Still, they hoped. They watched, and waited. These people had seen miracles happen in their city. They knew not to give up too soon. Their city had a band of guardians unique in the world. A colorful group they had begun to hang all their hopes for the future on. They watched the replays of footage from that battle, and memorized their heroes' voices, their uniforms and weapons, their style of fighting.
The people of Angel Grove watched...and waited for the Power Rangers to return.
_He is dreaming. Again._ Jett's eyes narrowed. The Green Ranger was hers, in the physical sense, but his mind and soul.... Those were proving more elusive than she had anticipated. With more gentleness than any of the wraiths would have given her credit, she stroked his forehead, pushing the heavy hair off his face. Long eyelashes lay against dark circles under his eyes. _He sleeps, but there is no rest in it._ She ran her hand down one arm, feeling the tenseness in the muscles. Even his hands were fisted.
The woman turned her head to face the door. Mirage stood there, eyes downcast. He waited. "What is it?"
"We should attack now, while they are weakened."
Bowing her head, Jett let a long fall of hair obscure her face from her brother's view. "Not yet."
"But they are hurt, wounded and heartsore from losing two-"
"NO!" Eyes flashing, Jett looked at him. She lowered her voice as the man on the bed tossed restlessly. "No." Turning to look at the sleeping man, she sighed. "To fight now would mean allowing the Guardians' influence upon our captives." Jett shook her head. "They are not completely ours yet."
Mirage scowled. "We beat them once. We can do it again."
Shrugging one milky white shoulder, Jett let her eyes travel over the body of the sleeping man. "Mirage, if you wish to, go and harass Angel Grove. Take whomever you wish." She looked up, and shook her head. "I cannot go. Not yet."
"You would allow me to lead...?"
"For now." A careless smile curved her lips. "Do not get used to it...brother." Jett trailed a hand down the Green Ranger's bare chest. "This warrior and I shall make an unstoppable team." She met, and held, Mirage's gaze. "And then we who have lived so long in the darkness shall be free again."
Mirage nodded, and bowed slightly before backing out of the doorway.
Jett turned her attention again to the man sleeping fitfully. "And you, Thomas Oliver, shall be free with us."
The warrior in green faced the eyes, sending a tendril of angry thought at it. *Who are you? What do you want?*
An ominous, rumbling growl was his answer.
Calling the ebony blade to his hand, the warrior glared at the beast. *WHAT DO YOU WANT?!*
A rasping, growling tone snapped, *What is mine, and wrongfully taken from me!*
He took a step back, startled by the response. *W...who are you?*
*Who....* The amber eyes narrowed. *The correct question, young one, is WHAT am I?* It stalked forward, eyes flashing angrily as it snarled. *Do you see?*
The warrior cringed away, whirled and ran into the inky blackness of the shadows surrounding him. In a few seconds, he was lost to sight.
The Panther sighed and sat.
Downtown Angel Grove was a mess thanks to Jett and her stupid induced earthquakes. No parade this year.
And Corry.... Olivia sniffled again at the thought of her best friend. She had no idea where the girl was, or how she was. _How is she spending Thanksgiving? Is she okay? Are there people there who are friends?_
Lobbing another rock, Olivia refused to think that Corry might actually be a wraith. _Jett hates her so much, she'd rather kill her than possess her. Could she actually be....?_
Rubbing her eyes, Olivia shook her head. _No. She wasn't dead. The White Powers hadn't returned although since the Power Chamber was gone, maybe they couldn't? Maybe she's lost in limbo of some sort?_
Wrapping her arms around her legs, Olivia rested her forehead against her knees and tried not to cry again. She'd cried so much in the past weeks, trying to keep hoping as time marched on.
A warm arm wrapped around her shoulders and she looked up to see her father kneeling next to her. "I thought you'd come here." He wiped the tears off her face, giving her a gentle smile.
"Daddy...do you think she's all right?"
Adam smiled lovingly at his daughter. She didn't call him daddy much any more. Nodding, he stood and answered, "I think so, 'Livy."
Scrambling to her feet, Olivia threw herself at her father, wrapping her arms around his waist. "I'm scared," she confessed. "For Corry, and for all of us."
"It's okay to be scared, Ollie." Adam rarely called his oh-so-mature daughter by that pet name anymore, but he was glad he had as she looked at him with a water-soaked half-smile. "We've all been scared at times. More than once." He gently pinched her chin. "Just don't let that fear rule you. It's there to warn you of danger, but you have to get past it." He kissed her forehead. "You're never in any situation alone, Ollie. Even when you're not with your mom or me, or one of your friends, you know God won't ever desert you."
"I know." Olivia nodded. "And the angels." She looked out at the lake. "Do you think the angels are with Corry, Dad?"
Adam smiled and kissed the top of her head. "More sure of it than anything."
Olivia nodded, satisfied with that answer. "Then Wolf will be too." She took her father's hand. "Does Mom need help with fixing dinner?"
"I'm sure she won't mind." Adam winked. "Race you back?"
With a shriek of laughter, Olivia took off, Adam right on her heels.
It had been an unusually bleak celebration in the Oliver family. They had invited Katherine and David Trueheart to join them, hoping to lift their spirits a little. The couple was still in shock from having found all three of their children were missing.
Predictably, David had been ready to go out and fight the Wraiths. Katherine, ever gentle, ever happy Katherine, had been so quiet..... Chelsea sighed, and pushed back with her feet, to get the swing going. The gentle rhythm was soothing.
Teddy was missing also.
Two of the Rangers were gone. Either missing or possessed. Chelsea closed her eyes. They just had Thomas back in their lives, and now....
It wasn't fair. Life as a Ranger, or as the family member of a Ranger, rarely was. Every ten-cent baddie who saw Earth as ripe pickings was gunning for them, and every being on Earth looked to the Rangers to save them.
Chelsea had never been the kind to sit back and just let things happen, but this time, she didn't see a clear course of action. It had been quiet in the weeks following the destruction of a large part of downtown Angel Grove. The Rangers were like zombies, walking through their lives in a daze.
It was a lot for them to absorb. Suddenly, in the course of one night, everything in their lives had changed. Whole families had disappeared. The Little Angels Shelter was closed temporarily all of the children had been taken at the V.R.Arcade. Schoolmates had vanished overnight.
Worst of all, two of their own had been taken.
Earth was no longer the safe place it had been in their childhood.
_Jett sure rammed that home to them...._ Chelsea scowled. _If only we had the Zeo Crystal...._
It, along with the Power Chamber, had disappeared. She only hoped Zordon had a reason for evacuating without warning. The alternative was that the Wraiths had somehow banished Zordon.
It wasn't good. Even Trey, easy-going, level-headed Trey, had been exceptionally on-edge lately.
_Hopefully we won't get any universal s.o.s.'s while this is all going down._
The door opened, then closed with a soft click. Chelsea looked up, expecting to see Trey.
"Mind if I join you?"
Katherine's softly accented voice was a welcome contrast to the chaos of her thoughts. "Sure." Chelsea moved over, patting the spot next to her.
For a long time, they just swung in silence. The moon was out, slowly rising in the star-laden sky. It was a chilly, but gorgeous, evening.
"Sarah is trying so hard to be cheerful." Katherine sighed. "I've tried to be thankful today, Chelsea, but...." Tears clogged her throat, cutting off her voice.
"Kat....." Chelsea turned and wrapped her arms around the woman. "You don't have to try and be so brave, you know. It's okay to cry, Kat."
Katherine had held back her feelings, hoping for the best, encouraging David to be positive, staying upbeat..... The dam burst, and she sobbed on Chelsea's shoulder. "My babies, Chelse.... Oh God...my little babies!"
Chelsea just held her, offering silent comfort.
"And ....and Corry...and all the little ones from the Shelter....." Katherine's crying slowed, and she straightened, wiping her face. "Chelsea-"
"Don't you DARE apologize, Katherine Trueheart." Chelsea smiled to soften her words. They had become closer ever since Tommy had died, bonding in the grief that had followed. After Katherine had married David, the bond had become one of family, since the Olivers chose to see David as a surrogate son. Their three children were as much nephews and niece to Chelsea as would any children Ted ever had. _Or Thomas...if ......_
Sighing, Chelsea kicked the swing into moving again. "We'll get them all back, Kat." She looked up at the moon. "And teach that wraith witch not to mess with our families ever again."
"I wonder if they can hear us?" Katherine sighed. "Where do you think they are?"
"I don't know, Kat." Chelsea felt the woman's cold hand touch hers and grasped it, giving it a reassuring squeeze. "It doesn't matter because the Rangers always protect their own." She nodded. "Just pray for them like you never have before."
_They're going to need it....._
"Okay." Gavin sat, glancing sideways to see if he could figure out what was on his father's mind. He had a hunch it was about the vague things he and Nisha had told him the night all hell had broken loose in Angel Grove.
"So," Eugene said nonchalantly. "Want to explain a little more about this project of yours?"
"Uh..." Gavin brushed his hair back nervously. "You mean the one Nisha and I mentioned?"
Laughing, the man nodded. "Yeah, Gav." He ruffled his son's hair. "'Fess up, kiddo. I ain't that dumb."
Gavin shrugged, looking at his feet. "I'm sorry, Dad." He looked at his father, a worried frown creasing his forehead. "I would've told you.... You know I didn't want to lie to you, right?"
"Gav." Eugene sighed. "You still haven't come out and said anything. You beat around the bush, and inferred a whole lot, but...."
Taking a deep breath, Gavin turned to face him. "Dad, I'm a Power Ranger. I have been since right after those first people disappeared, including Corry's and Olivia's parents." He swallowed hard, voice quiet. "I couldn't tell you."
Skull threw his arm around the boy's shoulders and pulled him close for a brief, hard hug. Kissing his hair, he pushed him back and grinned. "I know."
"You..." Gavin stared at his father, speechless. "But-"
"Have since that polar bear showed up in the living room." Skull shook his head at the memory. "Scared the bejeebers outta me. I've seen a lotta weird things, living here, but that one takes the cake!" He looked at Gavin. "So...which one are you?"
Gavin shrugged, and looked at his feet, unaccountably bashful at telling his father. "Yellow."
"No kidding?" Skull beamed, nodding. "My son, the Yellow Ranger." He sighed. "I remember when your Uncle Bulk and I were your age. We tried to find out who the original team was."
"Is that how you got into detective work?" Gavin only knew that at one point, his father had been a detective. He played piano in the Angel Grove Philharmonic Symphony now.
"Yeah. Me and Bulkie were pretty strange back then." He shook his head. "We had some wild schemes that never panned out."
"Did you ever find out who the Rangers were?" Gavin was fascinated at this new information.
Eugene's lopsided grin curved his mouth. "Yeah. But we pretended not to know. It was fun to watch Jason, Kat and the others come up with oddball excuses for having to leave all the time." He chuckled. "They came up with some pretty lame reasons."
Seeing he had his father on an interesting track, Gavin prodded him for more. "What did you and Uncle Bulk do to find them?"
"Well, there was the time..."
Raph DeSantos looked up and sighed. They were heading for the old quarry. Lately, he and his dad had taken a lot of walks. They talked, joked...got to know each other better.
"What's up, sport?" Rocky nudged his son. "That was a heavy sigh." Rocky knew he had to make up for the years after his wife, Marissa, had left and taken their daughter, Bailey, with her. Years he had wasted, sunk in despair and depression.
He had no intentions of losing his son also.
"Yeah." Raph shrugged, sticking his hands in his pockets. "Just got a lot on my mind."
"Raph." Rocky stopped the boy, and put his hands on his shoulders. Turning Raph to face him, Rocky said, "I know with Thomas missing you're in charge of the team, but you are not in this alone." He squeezed his shoulders. "You have your team and all of us ex-Rangers on your side, and we don't plan on being sidelined anymore."
Raph's somber expression lightened. "I know, Dad." He reached up to grasp his father's arm. "That means a lot to me."
Pulling him into a tight embrace, Rocky clenched his eyes shut. _Please, God. I've screwed up so many times, and I know I'm not the greatest dad in the world.... Help me be the man and father he needs me to be._
Raph turned away as Rocky let him go, not wanting his father to see the tears in his eyes. "Dad...can we talk about Christmas?"
The rapid switch of subjects threw Rocky for a moment. "Uh...sure." He shrugged. "What about it?"
Turning to face his dad, Raph met his gaze. "Will you think about a trip to Sedona?" Seeing the frown settle on his father's face, Raph rapidly added, "Dad, please. I want us to be a family again."
Rocky closed his eyes. It was asking a lot of him. Marissa and Bailey lived in Sedona, Arizona. Had for the past six years. They had only spoken over the phone a few, brief times, to arrange visits for the kids.
What Raph was asking him to do took more courage than anything he'd ever done even as a Ranger. Rocky ran a hand over his close-cropped hair, down to rub the back of his neck. _I did ask to be the person he needs....._ He sighed. "Okay, Raph. I'll..I'll call your mom and see what she says."
The smile that lit Raph's face strengthened his resolve.
"Thanks, Dad!" Raph threw his arms around him in a brief hug. "Let's go see if you still have a good throwing arm. Bet I can throw a rock further across the quarry than you!"
"No way," Rocky scoffed. "Kiddo, you're on!"
"I don't think that bag is going to hold out much longer," Trini observed wryly. She winced as her son kicked the bag brutally.
"I'll go talk to him." Jason shook his head. "He reminds me of me when I'd lose it."
"Then you'll know what to tell him." Trini smiled and kissed him before walking back into the living quarters behind the dojo.
Waiting until Jared paused to catch his breath, Jason joined him. "Want to talk about it?"
Jared grimaced, leaning against the bag. "What I really want to do is grind those Wraiths into dust!" He wiped his face on his shirt sleeve. "Man!" Jared drew back and hit the bag hard.
Jason held the bag as Jared continued to pummel it brutally. The punches were hard enough to rattle his teeth.
Suddenly he stopped and looked at his father. "How can this happen? How can two of our teammates just...." Jared shrugged, gesturing. "Go over to the enemy so easily? How can they do that to us?"
Before Jason could say anything, Jared continued.
"Or is Jett really that powerful?" He kicked the bag, and followed up with two solid punches. "No way I believe evil is stronger than good." Jared smacked the bag hard enough to make his father take a step back. "NO way."
"Mom said that wasn't really Corry you guys saw." Jared frowned, looking at his gloves. He shook his head. "Corry hates the Wraiths. She can even tell when they're around. I just can't see how she could ...switch sides. You know?"
Jason nodded, as another kick rattled his teeth.
"And Thomas!" Jared punched the bag once, then paused. "He told us how being Rita's Ranger and then being the Wizard's puppet messed with his mind." He shook his head. "Damn! We were right there watching it all! We couldn't even make him hear us!" Jared hit the bag hard several times.
"I guess he thought Jett would spare us if he agreed to serve her." Spinning, he kicked the bag, knocking the air out of Jason. "As soon as he's back, I'm gonna straighten him out on that score!" He bounced on his toes, eyes sparkling. "We have a score to settle with that demoness. One I think we won't be alone in, huh Dad?"
Jason nodded. "You won't be able to keep us away," he promised.
"Yeah." Jared nodded. He looked like there was nothing he'd rather do than take on all the Wraiths then and there. "And something tells me Panther is gonna have a grudge to settle too." A wicked grin curved his mouth. "Payback's gonna be hell."
"Don't let your mother hear you talking like that." Jason cuffed his son's shoulder.
"I won't." Jared gripped his father's forearm. "Dad, thanks for talking to me. It helped." Pulling him into a sweaty hug, Jared released him with a grin. "I'd stay and spar, but I promised Nisha I'd help her with her homework at 4:00."
"Uh-huh." Jason crossed his arms, a knowing smile tilting his lips. "Don't tell me. Human Bio?"
Jared's grin widened. "Something like that."
"Go on," Jason chuckled. "Get outta here and shower or you'll be late." Watching him walk off, Jason shook his head. He couldn't imagine life without his son.
The thought sobered him, as his mind went to Kim and Will. They were holding up well, but everyone was very concerned about them, especially Kim. _Time to go see what's going on with those two._
She shrugged one shoulder, but moved over, making room for him to sit next to her on the bed.
Joining her, Zack casually glanced at the scrapbook. It was from Nisha's twelfth birthday party. The picture in the center of the page was a close-up of Nisha and Corry, arms around one another. Both had cake smeared all over their grinning faces.
"Remember that, Dad?" Nisha pointed to the picture. "Mom couldn't believe I got in a cake fight in one of my best dresses."
"It was one of the rare times we got you in a dress." Zack smiled, reaching out to straighten the long braids cascading down her back. "Your mom always wanted you to be more feminine." He winked. "I guess it didn't help with me encouraging you to take martial arts instead of ballet."
"Or showing me how to do Hip Hop Kido." Nisha loved the times her father had spent teaching her his own trademark brand of fighting. "I guess I'm a disappointment to Mom, though."
"What?" Zack pulled the scrapbook gently away and took her chin in his hand. "Listen to me Nisha Taylor. Your mother is proud of you. She's always telling anyone who will listen what a leader, an athlete and academian our daughter is." He flipped the scrapbook forward. "And look here. Isn't this where you won an award for best design?" Zack smiled. "How can you say you're not feminine when you created a knock-out prom gown like that?"
Nisha nodded. "You're right, Dad." Her smile faded a little. "Dad,...." She reached out and traced her fingers over the photo. Corry had modeled the navy blue gown that had won the award. The photo was of Nisha proudly holding her award, Aisha on one side, Corry on the other. "Do you think we'll find her?"
"The Rangers have never let one of their own go, Nisha." Zack's dark eyes were thoughtful. "We always brought them home." He sighed. "Tommy was the only one we ever even lost in a battle."
Nodding, Nisha smiled. "We're not gonna break that record now." She closed the scrapbook and glanced at the clock. "Jay's coming over at 4:00."
"In other words," Zack stood. "Get out, Dad, I gotta get ready?" He gave a mock sigh. "Whatever happened to 'daddy, read me a story?'"
Giggling, Nisha hopped up and gave him a kiss. "You always added things, and changed them too!"
"Of course!" Zack winked. "You try reading the same story night after night and see if you don't do it too!" He walked to the door, a mischievous smile making his dark eyes twinkle. "I thought you and Jared were just friends?"
Nisha rolled her eyes. "Daaaad!" Picking up one of the pillows on a chair, she lobbed it at him.
Zack laughed as he ducked and scooted out of the room. He almost ran into Aisha, who had been standing out in the hall.
Shaking her head, Aisha kissed him. Hooking her arm around his, she led him away from Nisha's room. "Sometimes I swear I have two kids."
Slowly climbing up the windswept lines of a low mountain, Sam hummed to himself. The songs of his ancestors had been safely passed on to the next generation in David, his son, but Sam worried about his grandchildren. They were so far away most of the time. Even with the convenience of modern travel, Sam wished they all lived with him.
_Here,_ he thought. _In the land the Creator made for His people._ Sam raised his face, closing his eyes, as a gentle morning breeze caressed his leathered, bronzed face. _The air is clean, untainted by city fumes, the birds sing and call to us...._ He smiled as he heard the cry of a falcon.
Sam made it to the top of the mountain, and sat. His patient gaze stayed on the falcon circling high above, riding the invisible currents of air. A lizard popped up on a nearby rock to sun itself. Quietly, Sam began to sing, a song of praise to the Creator for all the good things in his life.
"True of Heart."
With a start, Sam opened his eyes. They widened as he saw the shining being standing before him. "I-I am Sam Trueheart. My ancestor of long ago was named True of Heart." He wondered briefly if he should kneel or bow his head....
"You do indeed resemble him, Sam Trueheart." The man smiled, his blue eyes almost glowing. His hair was blonde, and tied back in a long ponytail. He wore a white tunic, belted by a silken blue cord, and white pants. His boots were pale leather. "There is no need to bow before me."
"Who are you?" Sam's hand briefly went up to the pouch that hung around his neck. It was an unconscious move, but it made the being smile wider.
"I have not come to harm you." The man sat lightly on a boulder not far from Sam. "There is a debt owed to your line from long ago. I have come to make sure you know of it."
"A debt?" Sam shook his head. "The differences between The People and White men have been resolved for many years, stranger. Please, do not stir up old wounds."
Throwing back his head, the man laughed loudly. "Oh, no, Trueheart!" His eyes twinkled as he gazed at the old Indian. "This goes back even farther than that. I speak of a time when the Shining Ones roamed the Earth with The People."
"Th...." Sam stared. His father had passed down the stories of the Shining Ones Great Warriors of purity and bravery who fought only on the side of the righteous. They had not been seen for countless generations. Even when The People were being rounded up and forced onto Reservations after walking countless hundreds of miles on death marches...the Shining Ones had not appeared to help.
Sam had long ago concluded they had ceased to care, or were merely legend. "Why? Why now?"
A look of compassion filled the man's face. "The promise was not made to The People. Only to True of Heart, and to his descendents."
"Then why are you here now?"
The being sat forward. "Listen to me carefully, Trueheart. What I tell you now will make the difference for you and your family."
He had ended up sobbing the entire story out, as the wise, old man held him and murmured soothing words. _I don't know what I'll do when Dad goes...._ His father was so strong. Sam Trueheart had a faith in the unseen that was unshakable. He had even smiled, and told David it would all work for the best. "Wait and see," he had said.
Well, weeks had passed, and the kids were still missing. Looking at the rain, David sighed. "Even Earth is crying...."
Katherine was still so upset, David hated leaving her. Kim and Will were going through the same thing though and they were doing a better job of comforting her at the moment.
All he felt was shock. Anger, then numbness, had set in. How could this happen to his kids? How could this happen again? Everything had been so quiet.....
Stopping the jeep, David climbed out. The jeep would be safe here, just inside the Reservation. He decided to walk the distance to his father's home. It was something he always did. It helped him make the transition from the bustle of the modern world to the serenity of the Reservation. As he walked, David sloughed off his "modern" ways, dropping easily back into the slower, more traditional habits of his father.
An hour later he raised his hand to knock on the door, but stopped when it opened suddenly.
"David! Good." Sam pulled him in, smiling. "I have news about the children!"
Ted Oliver looked around the forest and shrugged. "Heck if I know, kid." It was a thick, wooded forest. A huge boulder dominated the small clearing they had appeared in.
Lon leaned against the boulder and grimaced. "I don't think I can go too far, Uncle Ted."
"Let me take a look at that." He knelt and gingerly pulled aside the slashed edges of his nephew's jeans. "Ouch." Ted winced. There were two deep gashes where the Wraiths' razor sharp claws had easily sliced through the skin. They were still bleeding, seeping into the jeans, and dripping onto the ground. "Let's get that bleeding stopped."
Ted led the boy over to a large tree and helped him sit. "Here." He propped Lon's leg up on a fallen log. "Elevation." He grinned as he knelt. The kid was looking a little pasty under his normally tan skin. "Hang on, Lon." Ted squeezed his shoulder gently. "Your mom'll kill me if I don't bring you back in one piece."
Lon laughed, wincing as Ted ripped the hole in his jeans a bit more. "What do you think happened to Mady and Ben?"
"Don't know." Ted ripped the jeans down to Lon's shoe, tearing a strip off to use as a tie. "Okay, Lon. This is gonna hurt." He tied the strip of jean around the injured leg, then used a stick to create a tourniquet. As he finished tying it off, he checked his watch. "In ten minutes we'll loosen that for a minute, then it goes back on."
The teen's lips were white as he nodded.
Taking off his jacket, Ted draped over Lon, tucking it around his shoulders. "Just hang in there, kiddo." Smiling gently, he pushed back the boy's long dark hair. "Don't worry about your brother and sister. If I know Angel Grove, the Rangers probably showed up to teach those Wraiths a thing or two."
"Mom said you were an awesome Green Ranger, Uncle Ted." Lon used some of the calming techniques his grandfather had taught him, blunting the pain he was feeling. "What is it like to be a Ranger?"
Ted shook his head, a lopsided grin curving his lips as he sat. "Nothing like it in the world, Lon." He checked his watch again. "Did you folks ever tell you about the time we took on Rita and Zedd, the Machine Empire, Divatox and all their lackeys?"
"I'm not very comfortable with this, David." Olivia fidgeted, shifting her feet. She had her hair tied back in a ponytail to keep it from whipping around.
The man stopped walking, and faced the girl. "You'll be welcomed, Olivia. My Father is still very active, and was teaching Lon the old ways of healing." Pain lanced across his sharp features. "He said he had an insight into this problem and to bring the Ranger of heart to him."
Olivia shook her head. "But what does that mean?" She looked up as David gently gripped her shoulders.
She was about the same age as Mady, his middle child, and only daughter. There was a gentle spirit in this petite girl though, where Mady was fiercely independent. "Pink Rangers have always been the heart of the team, Olivia. You're no different, just a little younger than the others." He smiled. "Aren't you the one who worries about how the others feel? The one who tries to cheer them up and make things brighter, even when they're dark?"
Shrugging, Olivia looked away. "I guess." She sighed. "Owl said in time I would have wisdom..." She looked up, dark eyes solemn. "But all I feel like is a stupid kid sometimes."
David chuckled. "Olivia, we all feel like that sometimes. Even those of us over thirty." He winked. "It's all a part of being human." He looked towards a valley and pointed. "See where the valley narrows? Dad's house is just beyond that." He held out a hand, smiling encouragingly.
Sighing, Olivia put her hand in his. "I hope Mr. Trueheart doesn't regret this."
"He won't." David chuckled. "You might, though, after he gives you some of the concoction he fondly calls tea."
"Can't be any worse than Grandma Jo'ng-hu'i's." Olivia grimaced. "She says it's a recipe from Korea, but it tastes like cabbage."
David nodded. "Then you'll know what you're in for."
"Father." David bent to hug his father, kissing the wrinkled cheek. Kneeling next to the old man's chair, he smiled at Olivia. "This is Olivia Park, Father. She's the current Pink Ranger. Olivia," David gestured her to come closer. "This is my father, Sam Trueheart."
Dark eyes twinkling, Sam Trueheart gazed at the petite girl. "So you are the one the Owl has chosen to guide."
Eyes wide, Olivia looked at David. He grinned and shrugged. "You want me to fix something to drink?"
"There is tea in the kitchen." Sam smiled fondly at his son. "You could bring it out."
"Here, Olivia." David pulled a chair closer to the fire, facing his father's. "Have a seat." He left the two to talk.
"H-how did you know about Owl?" Olivia sat, still staring.
Sam solemnly said, "I am very old and have seen many things." A mischievous grin crept up his face, and he gestured to a corner. "I also have a television and have seen the Rangers. Your armor has an Owl on the coin and your helmet."
"Oh!" Olivia smiled sheepishly. She relaxed slightly, seeing he wasn't going to bombard her with questions. "Um...David said you wanted to talk to me?"
Picking up an object on the table next to him, Sam set it in his lap. "How familiar are you with Native American legends, Olivia?"
Shaking her head, the girl answered, "Hardly at all. My father is Korean and Mom is African American, so...." Olivia shrugged.
"That's all right." Sam smiled. His gaze drifted to the fire, and for a moment he was quiet. "When the world was young and The People few, we lived in harmony with nature and one another. We weren't perfect...." His dark eyes looked at the girl, who sat listening with a rapt expression. "For only the Creator is perfect. The People thought the world was theirs to share with the animals. We believed we were His only people."
Sam continued as David entered quietly and joined them, gently setting a tray and cups on a nearby table. "Then strangers came. They were unlike any of The People we had ever seen. Our skin was the color of the manzanita; our hair dark as raven's wings; our eyes the rich color of the Earth. The strangers' had skin the color of milk, eyes the color of the sky, and hair the color of corn. They did not dress as we did in the leathers of animals, but in strange materials The People had never seen. Their language was musical, lilting." Pausing, Sam shook his head. "It became clear to us we weren't the Creators only people. It unsettled us."
When he was silent for a long space of time, Olivia leaned forward slightly. "What happened?"
Smiling, Sam again gazed at the fire. "The strangers walked with a glow about them. They became known as The Shining Ones to us, and for a time dwelt in peace with The People." He shook his head. "But they were restless, wanting to see more of the Creator's world. They decided to move on, and leave The People. One of my ancestors, True of Heart, volunteered to guide them across the open plains to the great waters. Winter was coming and he knew they would never make it across the mountains without a guide." Sam smiled at Olivia. "True of Heart had many adventures with the Shining Ones, even saving their lives once, but eventually, he walked with them upon the shores of the great waters."
Chewing on her lip, Olivia asked, "Was it the Pacific Ocean?"
Sam nodded. "That's right. True of Heart came to love the land very much. So much, he eventually brought The People here to where we live to this very day."
"Wow," Olivia sighed. "I wish I could see what it looked like back then." Her attention was caught by Sam holding up an object in a deerskin covering. "What's that?"
"This is what the Shining Ones gave True of Heart as a sign of appreciation for what he had done." Sam held the object reverently. "This has been in my family for many generations, Olivia. It was passed down from True of Heart to his son, and down to his son, until I now hold it."
Looking at David, Olivia's eyes were wide. "Are you going to give it to David now?"
Sam smiled warmly. He liked the girls' warm, generous spirit. She had the gentle heart he had so prized in his wife. "Not yet." Sam smiled at David. "Before I do, there is a task that must be done." Carefully, he unwrapped the object.
Olivia and David both leaned forward to get a good look at what Sam was uncovering.
It was a miniature tapestry. Intricate knots and animals were woven in intertwining designs and deep, rich colors of burgundy, royal blue, hunter green, sunflower yellow, seashell pink and silver-white on a background of pure black. Sam pointed to the animals as he spoke. "The fish symbolizes clairvoyance; the serpent divine wisdom; the hare good fortune; the birds the spirit of prophecy; the horse sovereignty; the dragon the guardian spirit."
Gently undoing the tapestry, Sam pulled a small dagger out. Its hilt was made from the antler of a deer, but the blade itself had a blue-silver glow that pulsed slightly. "This is what the Shining Ones gave True of Heart. He was told that there would be day, sometime in the distant future, when True of Heart's children would have a great need." Sam smiled gently at Olivia and held the dagger nestled in the tapestry out to her. "I entrust this to you, and give you the charge laid upon me at the time it was passed into my care. Use this only in times of most desperate need when darkness threatens to overwhelm all held dear."
Almost as if compelled, Olivia held out her hands, palms up. Her eyes were huge as she stared at Sam. "But...I'm not one of the line of True of Heart."
"Pink Ranger, you are the one who represents the heart of your team." Sam gently placed it on her hands. "Use this to call upon the Shining Warriors. They will aide only those fighting for the Light. They will not win the battle for you, Olivia." Sam sat back, sighing. "But they will turn the tide, and allow you to win back all that has been lost to you."
Tears filled the girl's eyes as his words sank in. "Mr. Trueheart...." Her voice choked up and she bit her lip. Olivia looked at the objects in her trembling hands with awe.
"Sheath the dagger only in the tapestry, Olivia." Sam smiled wearily. "It will hide it from the sight of the evil ones."
Olivia carefully re-sheathed the dagger, folding it completely into the tapestry, which seemed to almost bind to the blade. She put it back in the deerskin. Quietly she whispered, "Thank you." Standing, she bent forward and kissed Sam's leathery cheek. "We'll get every single one of them back, don't worry."
Seeing the fierce light of determination in the young girls' eyes, Sam smiled and nodded. "I am certain of it, young Owl." He sighed. "Forgive me, but I am tired." He squeezed her hand gently. "Fly well, and fly free, young one."
"Come on, Olivia." David took hold of her arm, guiding her towards the door as Sam's eyes shut. "I'll take you back now."
"Will he be okay?"
David nodded, smiling. "He's just resting. Don't worry." He guided her out the door, shutting it quietly. "Knowing my father, he'll be right there when you use the dagger to summon the Shining Ones." He shook his head. "That's a once in a millennium sight none of us will want to miss!"
"I can't wait to tell the others!" Olivia's steps were lighter than they had been for weeks. "Let's go!"
In the lead was a young woman. Long honey blonde hair flowed down her back, cascading over the gleaming black armor covering her body. In her hand was an ebony blade, topped with a snarling wolf's head. Corry Cranston casually surveyed the plaza, and a smirk curved her mouth.
She shook her head. "No, this has been done too often." Turning to the Wraiths gathered in an ebony mass behind her, she raised an eyebrow. "Let's go stir up suburbia."
Light flared in the plaza next to the fountain, solidifying into the Blue and Yellow Rangers. They stanced as the Wraiths suddenly disappeared back into the shadows.
"Cor-" Gavin bit his lip to keep from calling out to his lost teammate.
" Ah, Crap," Jared growled. He lifted his wrist to his helmet. "You have a lock on where they went?"
"Getting it right now." Will's voice was terse.
"Where -" The Mayor came running out of City Hall. "Why did they sirens go off?" He looked around, only seeing two Power Rangers. "Jim, shut those damn sirens off!"
"I'm telelporting you to their location...now."
"Rangers, wait!" Mayor Velasquez ran down the steps even as blue and yellow light swept the Rangers up and away. He stopped and shook his head. "Blast it! I really wanted to ask them some questions." Looking around the plaza he sighed. "Oh well, at least nothing was ripped apart this time."
The black horde dispersed, silently spreading out.
The Rangers teleported in, momentarily bathing the neighborhood in a rainbow wash of color. For a breathless moment, they faced the woman in the black armor without moving.
She smiled and twirled the ebony sword, bringing it up to face them. "Long time no see, guys."
An amused smile quirked the woman's mouth. "Really?''
"Yes, really!" Pink Ranger yelled. Olivia forgot any trepidation she had about the Wraiths as she glared at the woman. "Corry would never hurt her friends!"
Regarding the black wolf on the hilt of the sword, the woman shrugged. "You know the old saying." Her eyes flashed gold as she looked up and thrust the sword forward. "You always hurt the ones you love!"
Beams of black lightning shot out of the wolf's eyes, slamming into each Ranger. They flew backwards, hitting the ground hard.
Blue Ranger rolled to his feet, and ran over to make sure his teammates were all right.
"I'm fine," Black growled. Raph stood and stared. She was just standing there, watching them, smirking. He stalked towards her, stopping only when the point of the ebony sword was almost touching his armor. She watched him warily, but still looked amused.
Raph stared at her, trying to see if there was any trace of the girl he'd known in the gold eyes.
All he saw was a bottomless pit of darkness so deep, he took a step back.
"What's the matter, Raph?"
He blinked. It was her voice, as friendly and cheerful sounding as ever. Raph shook his head, and took another step back.
An idea came to Gavin. He knew exactly what would irritate her. "How's Thomas, Corry?"
She raised an eyebrow. "Fine." Glancing at him, she shrugged. "Why?"
_That's it, Gavin!_ Black Ranger kept his voice nonchalant. "Oh, just wondering how you feel about him and Jett teaming up." Raph smiled, knowing she could see his face. "I guess that's fine since you're all one big miserable Wraith family now, huh?"
Nothing. No spark of emotion, no frown. Just the same smirk. "You'll know misery, Ranger. Very soon."
"Doesn't it bother you? Jett...and Thomas...together?" Gavin taunted.
Still no reaction.
The woman rolled her eyes. "Don't be juvenile, Gavin." She pressed the ebony blade against Black Ranger's chest plate, slowly reaching her other hand up to stroke his helmet. "Do you have nightmares of Jett caressing your beating heart, Raph?"
As Black Ranger staggered back, obviously shocked by the reference, Nisha moved. "That's it!" Red Ranger charged the woman.
Before Nisha got halfway there, she was blasted back by the dark lightning again. She hit the curb, and rolled into the street. Jared helped her stand. "Someone's cranky today!"
"She needs an attitude adjustment," Nisha growled.
Black Ranger held up his hand as the other two started to attack. "No!" He backed away until he was standing just in front of the Rangers. "That's not Corry." Disgust laced his voice.
"What?" Jared shook his head. "Black..."
"Corry wouldn't hurt us." Pink Ranger's hands were fisted as she glared at the woman. "And she would NEVER say what that...that...thing said to Raph."
"Mixing Corry and Jett is like combining oil and water." Yellow shook his head. "They separate no matter how long and hard you try to blend them."
"Where is she?" Red growled. "What have you done to her?"
"You tried to fool us." Raph shook his head. "Game's over, Wraith. We're going to find our White Ranger." He pointed. "Then YOU had better be ready. Because as sure as the sun rises, she's gonna be pissed."
"She won't like that you tried to fool us by using her image." Yellow walked over to stand next to Raph.
"AND stole Thomas," Pink added. She stood next to Gavin.
"You're gonna be sorry you messed with us." Red Ranger stood on Raph's other side
"Mess with one Ranger, and you mess with us all." Jared walked over to stand next to Nisha.
Raph let a satisfied smile curve his mouth. "You can go now," He said, waving her off. "Go, and take that message to Jett."
The woman blinked, frowning slightly. This wasn't the way it was supposed to go! "Wraiths!" Glaring at the Rangers, she disappeared in a black wash of light, followed by the shadow forms that had come with her.
"I don't know who she is, but... she registers as a Ranger."
"More dimensional travelers?" Beth asked.
"Probably," Omicron said with a shrug. "She looks kind of disoriented."
"She's wearing summer clothes in the middle of winter," Tara said. "We need to get her here; she'll freeze out there!"
"Let's don't risk a blind teleport," Beth said. "Why don't we morph and go out there? If she's a Ranger... then, she'll relate to us. Right?"
"If not, we can wipe her," Omicron said. "Do it."
"It's morphin time!" both girls cried in unison.
"Kangaroo!" Beth shouted.
"Fox!" Tara added. Pink and yellow light flared up around them, and they promptly morphed into the shiny armor of the Pink and Yellow Rangers. Beth, as Pink Ranger, bore the image of a Pterodactyl on her helmet and a Kangaroo on the silver Power Coin in her morpher and the larger coin on her chest. Tara, as Yellow, wore the standard Saber-Tooth Tiger armor, holding a Fox in her silver coins.
"Let's go!" Beth yelled.
"Do you realize we yell a lot when we're morphed?" Tara asked.
"It's the adrenaline," Beth said before they melted into two sparkling streams of yellow and pink. * * * "You aren't Gavin," Corry muttered as she saw a Yellow Ranger teleport in not more than fifty feet away. Besides the obvious gender and height differences, this Yellow Ranger had a different helmet design. _Saber-tooth Tiger?_ Corry asked herself. _And Pterodactyl. Am I in the past?_
Climbing to her feet, using the tree to steady herself, she cleared her throat and shouted, "Mo-... Kimberly!? Trini? Aisha?" * * * "Did you hear that?" Tara asked. "She just asked if I was Trini or Aisha." Neither Ranger said anything, but they immediately shifted into a line-of-site teleport. Turning into an amorphous cloud of appropriately colored light, they darted over to the young woman clad in white. * * * "Uhm, hi," Corry stammered as the two Rangers rematerialized before her. "My name is Corry Cranston."
"Cranston?" Beth asked, turning to look at Tara.
"Are you Kimberly Hart?" Corry asked hopefully, looking at the Pink Ranger.
"No," Beth said. She reached up to her helmet and quickly broke the seal. She removed the helmet and placed it in the crook of her left arm. Extending her right hand, she said, "My name is Beth Berry."
"Beth Berry?" Corry asked. _I don't remember a Beth Berry..._
"And Tara Logsdon," Tara said as she removed her own helmet. "You aren't from here, are you?"
"I- I don't know," Corry said. "I might be. I don't really know what happened."
"Why don't you come with us?" Beth suggested. "To our headquarters."
"Sure," Corry relented. "Anything to get some answers." She reached for her white communicator and then realized it was missing.
"Hold on," Tara said as she reached out and touched Corry's arm. Using a mental command, the trio melted away in a triple bar of pink, yellow, and white. * * * Beep beep beepbeep beep beep. "Jeremy here," the Blue Ranger answered. "Allison, too. Is there a problem?"
"We've got a dimensional traveller," Omicron answered.
"More?" Purple Ranger Allison asked her friend.
He shrugged and said, "All right, we're on our way." The two friends quickly hurried to a side passageway in the mall.
"We're clear," Allison said before they disappeared in streams of blue and purple light. * * * "She's not lying, Omicron," Crystal said.
"Why would I lie?" Corry asked. "I'm just- Oh, I'm so confused."
"You're from the year 2018," Crystal told her. "You used to be the White Ranger, but a villain named Jett stole your powers and you ended up here."
"You forgot about the part with my totem," Corry said sadly. "The Wolf left me."
"Is it possible that powers can be stolen that easily?" Dana asked.
"Anything is possible in other dimensions," Nadia told them. "Some Ranger powers are very, very different than the ones we have here. Some are barely bonded to the person holding them, almost to the point that losing a coin could cause one to lose their powers."
"Ours were stronger than that," Corry sighed. "It's just- I don't know why it happened."
"I'm going to do what I can to get a lock on your dimension and time," Omicron assured her. "But..."
"I'm gonna be here for a while."
"Probably," Omicron said softly. "You're free to stay here. I can fix you up a bedroom, and..."
"I don't want to be an imposition," Corry said, horribly shaken at the news she was about as far away from home as she could ever be.
"You are welcome with us as long as you are here," Sigma assured her. * * * Several hours later, Corry found herself lying on her back in a suitable bedroom. It was friendly and comfortable enough. She even had a television, although it wasn't voice activated. _Don't forget you're in the past, kid._
"Corry?" a soft voice asked.
"Yeah?" she returned, sitting up in bed. She saw her current dimension's Green Ranger standing in the door. "Come on in... Dana?"
"Yeah," she said. She brushed her silken blonde hair over her shoulders as she joined Corry on the bed. "Do you feel like talking?"
"Eh," Corry said with a shrug. "I just... I feel pretty wooden, you know?"
"Not really, but I can imagine," Dana told her. "Omicron is looking, and she's got some really powerful means of searching. We have three of the most powerful Swords in our known universe out there, powering this entire Power Core."
"Yeah, that's our power source," Dana explained. "Everything comes from those Swords. Our armor, our A.V.'s, our coins, the Power Core, everything. Anyway, Beth and I were gonna go to Mickey D's, and we were wondering if you wanted to come with."
"McDonald's," Dana reiterated. "My bad, I forget everyone isn't from here."
"Yeah, but what does it mean?"
"It means sorry," Dana told her with a grin. "Or, to be more proper, my mistake."
"Oh," Corry said with a laugh. "Uhm, you do eat cheeseburgers at... Mickey D's, right?"
"Cheeseburgers, french fries, milk shakes, the works," she answered. "And tonight, we're going to go see _Titanic_ again."
"Yeah, do you have _Titanic_ at your home?"
"It's like a classic, but yeah," Corry said excitedly, her interest piqued. "I have seen the holos, but I've never seen it in... Do you have the old-fashioned theaters? Oh, you don't know what those are. The kind... like a box?"
"Like a box?"
"There's a screen on the wall, and everybody only sits on one side of the screen, all in the same direction," Corry said, trying to express her point with her hands.
"Uhm, yeah," Dana answered. "That's what they all look like here. What do they look like in your world?"
"They're round," she said, standing up. "Sort of like a..."
"Sort of," Corry agreed. "I'd love to go." She looked at her closet, full of freshly synthesized clothing. _Anything to get my mind off of everything._ "Just give me a sec to get dressed."
"All right," Dana said. "I'll be waiting in the Power Core." In a flash of green light, Dana disappeared. * * * "We have to get out and do something before the storm hits," Beth said, standing by the door of her electric green Geo Storm.
"Storm?" Corry asked, looking around worriedly. After what had happened in the last storm, she wasn't too eager to get caught in another one.
"We're gonna have another foot of snow on the ground tomorrow morning," Dana told her as she got in the backseat.
"I wasn't aware you had such good weather prediction methods in the late 20th century," Corry commented.
"We don't, but Omicron does," Beth said. "It's always nice to know someone on the inside."
"I've never ridden in a car that rolls on the ground before," Corry said, a bit warily. "This is safe, right?"
"The car is perfectly safe," Dana said. "Beth drives like a hoodlum, but that's another story."
"I do not drive like a hoodlum!" Beth protested. "I drive defensively."
"You'd be justified if we were in a war zone," Dana shot back.
"Maybe I should drive," Corry joked.
"Want to?" Beth asked, flashing her the keys. "You know, give it the country try?"
"Oh no," Corry said. "I freak out in HoverCars, and those things have preventive crash measures. I'll just sit back here and watch." * * * "See that girl," Jeremy said to his friend. "She's from the future and a different dimension."
"You're kidding?" Michael asked. "Another 'un?"
"We're like Power Rangers Central around here," Jeremy muttered. "But, she's friendly enough. Want me to introduce you?"
"Yeah, but I'm going to scare Beth first," Michael said, lifting his eyebrows. It was partly the two boys' mutual attraction for Beth Berry that had made them friends in the first place. Seeing as they both knew neither had a chance with the stunning beauty, they got along great.
Michael ran up behind Beth and grabbed her by the ribs. Squealing, she spun around, shouting, "Michael Scott! That gets less funny each time you do it!"
"If you like, we could start this again," Jeremy said.
"Stimulus," Michael teased as they tickled her in the ribs. When she erupted into a full-body laughter and wriggle, they both shouted, "Response!"
"Oh, Corry," Jeremy said, still laughing, "I forgot my manners. This is my friend, Mike Scott. Mike, this is Corry Cranston."
"'Tis a pleasure to make acquaintance with such a stunning beauty," Michael said, dropping to one knee and taking her hand to gently kiss it.
Laughing, Corry drew her hand back and said, "The pleasure is all mine, I'm sure."
"What movie are you gonna see?" Dana asked. "We're seeing _Titanic_ for the fiftieth time."
"_Scream 2,_" Jeremy answered, "for the fifty-first time." Suddenly, Purple Ranger Allison popped behind them in full Ghostface costume.
"Allison?" Beth asked.
"I lost a bet," Allison muttered. She lifted the screaming white mask enough to reveal her face beneath. "Just don't tell anyone it's me."
"Hey everybody!" Michael shouted, drawing the attention of everyone in the theater lobby. "Allison Caswell is the fool in the costume!"
As some turned back to their previous attentions scowling angrily, others shouted out her name and a good deal laughed. "Is it always like this around here?" Corry asked.
"It is if Michael Scott is involved," Jeremy answered. "Which movie did you say you were gonna see?"
"_Titanic,_" Corry said. "I'd rather dehydrate than scream myself loopy."
"Chicks," Michael muttered. "C'mon, Screamer."
"Gladly," Allison agreed, ready to get away from the stares of the entire theater.
"I'll catch y'all later," Jeremy said as he hurried off to join his friends.
"What is it with men and horror movies?" Dana asked.
"I like horror movies," Beth said.
"Given what happened during the last horror holo I was in," Corry started as they walked to their cinema, "I have no desire to try again. With my luck, I'll end up at Woodstock next time." * * * "Are you gonna be okay?" Dana asked Corry as they walked back to their car.
"Yeah," Corry sniffled, rubbing her cheeks with the backside of her hand. "It's just- When you're at the holo, you feel a theatrical version of what the characters feel. So whenever I watched it, I was always freezing cold at the end, and you didn't really care that much for the characters 'cause you were freezing cold, too, but in that theater, where you were all warm and comfortable, and you knew that Jack and Rose weren't..."
Suddenly, silver and gold light flashed all about them. Gargoyles dropped to the ground, flexing their arms and flashing their razor-sharp claws. "What are those?" Corry asked as Dana put herself in front of her.
"Gargoyles," Beth answered. "Worthless henchmen." She pressed her thumb and index finger together and pulled her hand up to her mouth. "Omicron, we got beasts."
"Corry, I'm getting you back to the Power Core," Omicron announced. Corry disappeared in a sparkling stream of silver-white light, much brighter than the teleport streams of non-Rangers.
A quartet of blue, red, purple, and yellow light streaked through the sky, forming the remaining Power Rangers. "Let's kick some Gargoyle!" Red Ranger Crystal shouted.
"Right!" the others agreed.
"Lion!" Jeremy shouted.
"Kangaroo!" Beth yelled.
"Squirrel!" Crystal cried.
"Frog!" Allison bellowed.
"Sparrow!" Dana added.
"Fox!" Tara finished. In a bright, multi-colored flash of light, the six young adults morphed into the Power Rangers. Each wore shiny, gleaming armor. The Blue Ranger bore a helmet with a Triceratops on it, Pink Ranger had a Pterodactyl, Red Ranger had a Tyrannosaurus, Purple Ranger was the Mastodon, Green Ranger had a unique Brachiosaurus, and Yellow Ranger was the Saber-Tooth Tiger.
"Attack!" Beth yelled, just as a vicious fight let loose.
Draanov and Raphael appeared in their customary teleportation signals of black light. Raphael immediately threw himself in Beth's direction, while Draanov raised his club and darted for the closest Ranger.
However, rather than hit Dana across her back, he stopped right beside her. Startled, Dana spun around, summoning her Brachiosaurus Trident as she did so. "What are you doing?" she snarled, holding the Trident over her shoulder like a javelin.
"You smell different," Draanov commented, sniffing with his rat-like snout. "You smell like... a wolf."
"I smell like a wolf?" Dana asked, not dropping form. "Thank you SO much."
"What's your friend's name?"
"Leave her OUT of this," Dana snapped. "She's not a Ranger."
"Well," Draanov sighed, shrugging, "whatever you want to think." * * * "Are they talking about me?" Corry asked, looking at the large video screen.
"Seems like," Omicron muttered. Her fingers danced across the console, bringing up vital information on all aspects of the fight. However, at the moment, her efforts were centered on the rat-like henchman Draanov. "Corry? Well, he might not be telling the truth, but..."
"He at least thinks he is," Omicron said. "He's not actually lying."
"What does that tell us?" Corry asked, looking over Omicron's shoulder at the Viewing Screen.
"He thinks you are still a Power Ranger," Omicron answered. * * * Red and purple light flared up beside a massive snow bank near the theater parking lot. Sheila, current main villainess set after planet Earth, was left standing in old, knee-deep snow. She wore remarkably little clothing. She wore red body armor that looked more like a swimsuit from the twenties than it did protective clothing. It covered her entire torso and extended to halfway down her thighs and biceps. The rest of her was left bare. Her fingernails were painted an outrageous shade of purple, along with her toenails which were currently hidden beneath the snow drift. However, she didn't seem to mind the horribly intrusive cold.
Sheila watched intently as her Gargoyles fought with the six brightly colored Power Rangers. As usual, the Rangers eventually turned the tables. The pattern got rather boring, actually. Send down Gargoyles, fight until the Gargoyles are nearly all defeated, produce a random monster, send after the Rangers, fight for a while longer, make the monster grow big, the Rangers call their Assault Vehicles, and then, big surprise, fight until the Rangers win. Repeat at least once a week.
"Of course, Nadia did no better," Sheila mused. "I need a new tactic."
Her eyes flared up bright red as a thought occurred to her. She stuck out her right hand and produced a gleaming red dagger in her hand. The hilt was of a Gargoyle holding a crystalline orb above its head. The orb flashed purple, and a spur-of-the-moment monster appeared in the parking lot. Sheila quickly dubbed it the IceMaker. Not particularly creative, but an apt name nonetheless. The IceMaker was a blue humanoid machine, covered with sharp angles that gleamed and glinted in the halogen lights surrounding the parking lot. Of course, his prime defense mechanism was ice.
"Do your best, IceMaker," Sheila purred. The snow near her caved into the ground as the magical passageway to her abode opened up. She descended the stone staircase that led into a gaping, fire-filled hole in the ground. Even as she entered the Earth, her mind was coming up with a diabolical plan. * * * "Back off, Frosty!" Beth shouted as she ran up to the IceMaker. Already, he had set down a sheet of ice in a thirty-foot circle around him. Even with her enhanced abilities and the grips on her boots, the Pink Ranger still had a bit of trouble stopping exactly when she had intended to.
The IceMaker stretched his hand above his head and formed a long spear of ice in his grasp. However, before he could throw it at Beth, a blue whip shot out at him and wrapped around his forearm. With a grunt, IceMaker's gaze jerked away from the Pink Ranger and traveled down the blue whip lashed around his arm. It ended with the Blue Ranger, a good thirty feet away.
"Try picking on somebody of your own gender, IceMaker!" Jeremy taunted.
"You know good and well Tara is gonna kick your butt for that later!" Beth shouted.
"Durn right!" Tara yelled through their helmet comms.
"Fear not, Yellow Ranger!" IceMaker growled. "I'll take care of Little Boy Blue."
"I ain't little!" Jeremy shouted. Suddenly, blue light flashed and a thick covering of ice traveled down the whip, encasing it in a good six inches of crystalline ice. Rather than stop at the cylinder of the Triceratops Whip, however, the ice traveled up the Blue Ranger's arm, locking him in ice up to the shoulder.
"Uh oh," Jeremy muttered. He instantly put the Triceratops Whip away, although the ice remained behind. "I can't move!" he yelled.
Before anyone could assist him, however, IceMaker lifted the Blue Ranger off of the ground. IceMaker began to spin in a circle with the Blue Ranger still attached to him by a thirty-foot shard of ice. The yelling Blue Ranger was lifted higher and higher into the air as he was being spun in a wide circle around IceMaker.
"Let him go, Creepazoid!" Tara yelled. "Saber-Toothed Tiger Bow and Arrow!" In a glimmer of yellow, her bow appeared in her hand. However, she fired an arrow from it, only to have it bounce off of the heavy shaft of ice that IceMaker continued to use to spin the Blue Ranger around above his head.
"We could really use those laser pistol things!" Allison shouted as she sent her Mastodon Machete whirling toward several enthused Gargoyles.
"We gotta put 'em together!" Dana shouted as she slid to a halt beside her friend. Her Brachiosaurus Trident was gleaming in her hands.
"Right!" Tara agreed.
The two girls faced each other, each holding their weapons at an angle across their chest. In perfect unison, they shouted, "Brachiosaurus Saber-Toothed Tiger Trident Arrows!" As their weapons began to glow brightly, the Trident green and the Bow yellow, they pushed them together. The two weapons disappeared in a combined flash of green and yellow, but a new weapon appeared a second later. It was a giant crossbow. Dana dropped to her knees and Tara moved the crossbow onto her shoulders. The bow itself was about six feet wide. Tara pulled back on the string, and a giant arrow, shaped just like Dana's Trident, appeared in the bow. "FIRE!" Tara yelled to herself as she let the string go. The green "arrow" soared through the air and hit the shard of ice, sending IceMaker flying backwards and Jeremy to the ground with a thump.
"Thanks guys," he mumbled as Tara helped him to his feet.
Suddenly, red and purple light welled up around IceMaker, and he shot up into the air, looming several hundred feet above the Rangers. "Let's do it guys!" Beth shouted. * * * Corry watched only half-heartedly as the Rangers called on their Assault Vehicles. Aside from the obvious differences in armor, and coloring, given the absence of Black and the addition of Purple, it really bothered her not to be able to go join the fight. Glancing around her, she assumed the morphin stance and shouted, "White Ranger Power!" As she had expected, nothing happened. Sighing heavily, she turned away from the Video Monitor and returned to her bedroom. * * * Mirage stared at her as Jett laughed as if he'd just told her some hilarious joke. "Jett...." He frowned his disapproval. "They mocked me!"
"Of course." Jett patted his cheek as she walked past, still chuckling. "Mirage, you have so much to learn."
Completely bewildered by her reaction, Mirage followed the woman down the corridor. "They threatened you too."
She shrugged. "Threats are a dime a dozen, brother. Any petty mind can think up a suitable taunt." Jett stopped at the entrance to her quarters and turned to face him. Her eyes gleamed brilliant green in the dim light. "However to carry it out...." She grinned, showing her white teeth. "That takes some doing."
"You have a plan?"
Jett looked at him as if he was the village idiot. "Mirage, do you think before you open your mouth?" Rolling her eyes, she turned and entered her quarters.
He opened his mouth in a soundless protest, then shut it with a snap. Scowling, he followed her in. "Would you care to include me?"
Sitting on the bed next to the prone form of Thomas, Jett smirked, looking as though she would comment, then shook her head. "No, too easy." She looked at Thomas who was watching her with glazed, black eyes. "The sleeping Dragon awakens." She stroked his forehead.
Mirage crossed his arms and glowered at the pair. The way she fawned over the human made him sick. "Just what is so special about him?" It came out more petulant than he expected. The Wraith winced as Jett turned, her eyes narrowed, to look at him.
"If you can't ask an intelligent question, Mirage, stay silent!" She sighed, shaking her head. "We discussed this. I would have succeeded the first time if the White Ranger hadn't interfered."
Stung by her rebukes, Mirage straightened. "He has been here quite some time, Jett, and still he resists you. Why won't you consider another plan?"
"She is no longer in the picture, and he is coming to, Mirage." Jett smiled sensuously. "He won't resist any longer." She turned her attention back to Thomas.
Mirage's expression darkened, and he bowed curtly before turning and leaving the room.
The rat-man looked at his mirror. For the briefest of moments, his eyes changed from black beads into human eyes, with a rich, brown iris. Bellowing in anger, he slammed his club into the mirror, sending shards of glass raining down to the earthen floor. * * * The Mega Dragon A.V., in quadropedal mode, retracted all of its claws and tried to dig into the ground as it slid on a sheet of IceMaker's ice. "Fire mode!" Tara shouted, slamming her hand down on a red button on her console. Dragon A.V.'s mouth opened, and a plume of fire shot out, melting the ice and snow all around.
"Bipedal!" Allison yelled as she executed the command that lifted Dragon onto its hind legs.
"Let's get our sword and take this guy out!" Beth cried.
"If we super heat it," Crystal suggested.
"Then we can annihilate this guy with one swipe!" Dana agreed.
"Sword, Now!" Jeremy shouted as he and Beth quickly entered the command sequence. Seconds later, a glistening silver sword appeared in Dragon A.V.'s hands. It also appeared in the holographic display in the center of the cockpit. The Mega Dragon A.V. didn't work on the same principle as the other A.V.'s. Rather than have the Rangers placed in front of a "Zord windshield," they were situated in the belly of the fighting machine with a holographic view of the fight they relied on as guidance.
Flames belched out of Dragon A.V.'s nostrils and fired the sword up until it was burning red. "ATTACK!" all six Rangers shouted at once. In one fluid movement, the Dragon A.V. sent its fire-hot sword into the body of IceMaker, instantly melting it.
"Let's head back, guys," Tara recommended. In a visual swirl of colors, the Rangers and their Assault Vehicle disappeared. * * * The six colored teleportation booths flashed as the six Rangers materialized. They hurried down the stairs, practically in a single-file line, removing their helmets in the process. "Did we get him?" Crystal asked, sitting her Tyrannosaurus helmet on a nearby console.
"IceMaker is totally gone," Omicron said. "You can go ahead and go home. I don't think we'll have a recurrence tonight."
"Is Corry here?" Dana asked as the air around her was lit up with different teleports.
"She went to bed," Omicron told her. "Kinda... frazzled."
"I imagine so," Dana agreed. "Have her call me tomorrow, okay?"
"You bet." In an emerald green teleport, Dana disappeared.
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