Disclaimer: The cannon Power Rangers, Zordon, Power Chamber, etc from the show all belong to Saban. The rangers *I* created belong to me, and ask if you want to use them, please.
Author's Note: This comes about one week after Welcome Back. Thanks go out to Hellfire for the help with the fight scenes, and Cyn for her advice and betareading. As of this fic, I'm going to start using Ellen Brand's way of indicating which morphed ranger is which, but mostly for the Turbo Rangers (ie: *color* Turbo is a morphed Turbo Ranger) Also, if a unmorphed Ninja/Guardian Ranger is called a Guardian, that means they're in their ship uniforms. If Ninja, they're in just regular clothes. One more thing, before we start the story. Shadow Mage is used for anyone who uses Shadow magic, good OR evil. Shadow Lord or Lady means said person is evil. Got that? Hope so!
Alex was up to her elbows in trouble, and absolutely loving it.
The Shadow Ranger had stolen the remains of a motorcycle from a local junkyard, and she was straddling it, bent over to the side of the body and tightening down a bolt. She put the ratchet, and straightened, her hands on her back as she arched backwards. Wiping her brow and leaving a line of dirt and grease on her forehead, she said, "That should take care of that," and started the engine.
Tried to, that was. The engine sputtered, and died after belching out a cloud of black smoke from the tail pipe. Alex muttered several potent curses in Shadian, and looked up to see Divatox standing in the doorway of the holding bay Alex had acquired for her own use. "Yes?" Alex asked her ca'dra.
"HE'S here," Divatox said with a toss of her head. Alex smiled, and Divatox said, "How come you're the only person I know of who's actually GLAD to see him?"
"Because he's teaching me a few tricks that the rangers didn't teach me," Alex replied. "Besides, he's one of the few people I trust."
"What about me?" Divatox demanded, affronted.
"Like I said, he's one of the few people I trust," Alex said, before leaving the room. She palmed the lock behind her, so that the lab was closed to everyone but her, and she said, "Don't worry. I won't be wasting any energy needed for today's planned attack. I'll be fine."
Divatox snorted, and muttered something that Alex purposely ignored, and the Shadow Ranger hurried to the set of rooms given to her by the Machine Empire. Alex had found that of the three, she preferred the relative quiet of the Machine Empire's Space Base to the Lunar Palace (where she would have had to put up with Rita's screeching), or the Subcraft (which was crowded enough anyways). There, she could work her magic without any interruptions.
"Hey, Stranger" she greeted the black cloaked man as she entered her main quarters. She had her own washroom, and headed there, "I was working on my bike. I lost track of time," she explained, washing her hands and face.
The black cloaked man chuckled, and said, "I was enjoying frightening the Piranahtrons. But what about you? Enjoying yourself?"
Alex grinned, and said, "What do you think?" She dried her hands and tossed the towel to the floor. The towel disappeared with a flash of black light, and Alex entered the main room again. "I get to play with my soulbond's mind, and I'm doing things with my magic that Shaira never taught me, PLUS I get to be a ranger without Zordon's silly rules. What do you think?"
Stranger laughed. "You're enjoying yourself." He settled himself onto the couch Alex had stolen from some store, and asked, "Have you been practicing what I taught you?"
Alex chuckled and nodded as she dropped into a waiting easy chair. "You bet, and you should see Divatox's face when I popped out of nowhere right in front of her." She chuckled again, and called forth a black globe of energy. In it, a picture of Divatox's face appeared, shocked and almost afraid. Stranger chuckled, and banished the globe with a wave of his hand. They let the humor of the situation pass, and then Alex asked excitedly, "Did you get them?" She leaned forward as Stranger lifted a silver silk pouch from a hidden pocket, and smiled as the visitor tossed the bag to her. She snagged it with one hand, and looked within.
Five black coins rested within the silk pouch, and Alex's smile grew as she spilled them into her palm. "They're fully functional?" she asked, and Stranger nodded.
"The Shadow coins are all yours, but..., Alex, you do know that only Shadow personalities will be compatible, right?" The Shadow Keeper just smiled.
"Do you recall what happens when a non_Shadow personality is exposed to the Shadow mist?" Alex asked.
"Don't presume to teach your teacher, dear one," Stranger growled, but affectionately. "Answer the question."
Alex pouted, and then said, "The Shadow Mists will create the personality type needed, Stranger. For those that need it."
"What do you mean, 'those that need it'?" Stranger asked.
"Easy. Not all of my rangers will need to have an altered personality," Alex said patiently. "One of them is a young, untrained Shadow Mage." Although she still hadn't seen Stranger's face, she could feel his shock.
"Who? " Stranger demanded.
Alex smiled, and settled back. "If I tell you, then the others might..." She jerked her head towards the door, and Stranger cast out a minor probe, sensing those that Alex had already known were listening in. Alex smiled and winked, and disappeared. The visitor waited, and his patience was rewarded when he heard Alex shout, "BOO!" and heard Divatox's idiot nephew scream. He chuckled as Alex came back into the room, walking and dusting her hand off, and she said, "That was fun."
"How did you know?" Stranger asked.
Alex stared, and shrugged. "I'm not sure," she finally said, puzzled. "All I know is... he was there." She was upset by that, and Stranger said, "I think it's just your senses warning you, not any new tricks developing." Alex was relieved, and she asked, "Where were we?"
"You were about to tell who the mysterious young Shadow Mage is," Stranger said, leaning forward. Alex dropped into her chair, and she opened her mouth. But before she could say anything, twin balls of black light popped into existence in the center of the room.
Alex sighed, and said, "Excuse me, Stranger. I have to take these." Stranger nodded his understanding, and Alex held a hand up. The two balls jostled to land on her hand, and Alex snapped a few phrases in Shadian, and the globes began behaving. One landed on her hand as the other started circling around the chair, and Alex raised her brows in surprise. "You've found her all ready?" she asked in disbelief. Alex's eyes clouded over as the globe gave the Shadow Ranger the information she had wanted, and then Alex dismissed the floating ball of energy with a wave of her hand. "Next," she said, and the other globe landed in her hand. "You too?" she demanded, and then left off as the information was downloaded into her brain.
Stranger walked over as the two seekers disintegrated into millions of tiny points of light, and he knelt beside Alex. "What's wrong?" he asked as Alex pinched the bridge of her nose. Alex's eyes were closed as she slumped back against the tall back of the chair, and the visitor couldn't tell if it was from pain or thinking.
"Nothing," Alex said after a moment of silence. "It's just that I know where the teens I want for my Yellow and Green Turbo Ranger are, and I'm not sure how long they'll stay there."
"So go after them," Stranger said.
"Can't. There's previously made plans that I'm a necessary part of." Alex sighed in frustration, and then opened one eye. "Could YOU go get them?"
Stranger smiled, and asked, "What do I need to know?" Alex laughed, and leaned forward.
"Brynne?" Trey looked around the main room of the Safehouse, and sighed, headed for the bedrooms. "Brynne?" The Gold Ranger was looking for his soulbond to treat her to a movie, and found her lying down on her bed. "Brynne?"
The Silver Ranger opened her eyes, and smiled tiredly. "Hey. What's up?"
"I was going to see if you wanted a movie, but if you're tired...," Trey replied. Brynne sat up with a sigh, and Trey sat down beside her. "What's wrong, Bry?"
"I'm not sure," Brynne admitted. "I was doing fine earlier today, and then a dizzy spell hit me out of nowhere. I'm fine now, but when it passed, I was so tired I decided to take a nap." She leaned her forehead on Trey's shoulder and closed her eyes as her fiancT pulled her onto his lap.
He wrapped his arms around her in a hug. "Are you still blaming yourself over Alex?" Trey asked.
"Why does it seem that she keeps disappearing, and it's always somehow my fault?" Brynne asked. "I knocked Alex into the rift that took her to the other reality and I was supposed to be watching her when Stranger took her."
"Brynne, it wasn't your fault. How were you to know that he was a Shadow Lord? Everyone, Alex included, thought that they were all gone," Trey said.
Brynne sighed, pushed away from Trey, and while looking him in the eye, admitted, "You're right, and I know it HERE," she tapped her forehead, "but HERE," she tapped her heart, "it keeps saying that I was at fault."
Trey accepted that in silence, and then, trying to find something good, said, "At least Tommy isn't hurt this time."
"That's what you think," Brynne retorted. At Trey's curious look, she said, "The argument that he and Alex had is weighing heavily on him, and Tommy's blaming himself for her taking the booster." She paused, then added in a heavily sarcastic tone, "And, he's at fault for the Shadow Turbo Ranger. But how he is, I don't know," she finished in a normal tone. Trey just shrugged and wrapped his arms around his soulbond again, pulling her close.
Tommy walked through the park slowly, his shoulders slumped as he thought about Alex. It's all my fault, he repeated mentally. I should have been there for her, and I wasn't. If I hadn't been so stubborn, maybe if I had believed her, she'd be here. She, of course, meaning Alex.
Laughter and shouts brought Tommy out of his blame session, and he looked up to see that several teens were playing soccer. He watched as one Hispanic teen in a green tee shirt scored a goal, and the Red Ranger stopped to watch the game for a bit. The Hispanic boy looked familiar, and finally he realized why. The boy was Carlos , and he lived down the street from the DeSantos'. Tommy had passed the boy several times when going to visit Alex. Each time, Carlos had been kicking around a soccer ball.
"All right, Carlos!" a girl from the sidelines shouted. Tommy though he recognized her as Ashley Hammond, and from her outfit, she had apparently just come from cheerleader practice. She wore the yellow and purple of a junior varsity cheerleader.
Tommy smiled as he thought back to when he had tried out for the football team, and then shook his head. Although it had been great to be on the varsity football team, he was glad that he hadn't tried out the following year. With the draining of his powers, followed by the complete loss not too soon after, the whole deal of practices and games would have been too much.
Shouts turning to screams had Tommy snapping back to the present, and he dropped into a fight stance even before he saw the Tengas. They were escorting the latest monster, a yellow and orange walking crocodile that had Rita and Zedd stamped all over it, from it's drool_dripping jaws, down to its thick tail. From the stethoscope and other medical paraphernalia, Tommy took a guess at the monster's name. "Lemme guess, Croc Doc, right?" Tommy asked.
"That's right, Ranger," Croc Doc replied. "And it's time to prepare you for your surgery!"
"I don't think so," Tommy said, then looked around. He was alone. "IT'S MORPHIN' TIME! ZEO V, RED!" Red light cocooned him, and when it cleared, Zeo V stepped clear. "Guys, I got trouble," Tommy said into his communicator.
"Your friends are a tad busy," a hated voice said, and Tommy whirled to face the Shadow Turbo Ranger. He dropped into a fighting stance as the newcomer laughed. "Croc Doc, go on with your mission!" Shadow Turbo commanded, and Tommy turned to see the monster bow as low as it could, and then hurried off with its escort of Tengas. "See, I get to play with you," Shadow Turbo said, and Tommy turned to face her.
Shadow Turbo held a hand out to the side, and a black katana appeared in her hand. "Shall we dance, red one?" she asked, and Tommy summoned his own sword. They circled warily, and the Shadow Turbo lunged in to strike first.
In the Youth Center, four heads looked around as the rangers' communicators went off. Rocky, Tanya, Adam, and Angela slipped out of the Youth Center, and Rocky asked, "Yeah, Zordon?"
"You're needing in the Power Chamber," the mentor said. Rocky looked at the others, and as one they teleported out.
They landed in the Power Chamber to see Kat, Hunter, Trey, and Brynne already waiting, Brynne and Hunter at the scanner consoles. "What's up?" Angela asked. "Where's Tommy?
"Ai-yi-yi, rangers!" Alpha said. "Three monsters have appeared, as well as the Shadow Turbo Ranger. She's already fighting Tommy in the park."
"Where are the monsters?" Adam asked.
"Rita and Zedd's Croc Doc is in the park," Alpha said, "while Mondo's Scorpio is tearing up the warehouse district. Divatox sent down, See Serpent."
The rangers watched as the Viewing Globe showed images of each monster, and on the third monster, Brynne exclaimed, "Hey, that looks like Eye Guy crossed with a snake!"
"Eye Guy?" Adam asked.
"Before your time. Rita used him long ago to try and take smart kids' smarts, and they made the mistake of starting off with a kid the rangers knew," Brynne replied.
You just liked watching Billy in action, Hunter teased his sister. She sent a mental raspberry, and both turned back to the screen as Zordon went over what was known about each monster.
"Indeed, See Serpent is much like Eye Guy, but he also has control over any water in proximity to him," Zordon said. "Scorpio's claws are powerful enough to crush you even when morphed, and his tail stinger is actually a powerful blaster," Zordon said when the robot came on the screen.
Brynne and Hunter exchanged looks, and Brynne asked, "MMPR:TM?" The other rangers were confused, but Hunter nodded. The Silver Ranger turned to the others and explained with, "The first Power Ranger movie back home, one of the things they had to fight looked a LOT like Scorpio there, except that it was zord size. They ganged up on Scorpitron, as it was called in the movie, and Tommy used his Zord to blow it to pieces."
"Great," Rocky said. "All we need to do is get Mondo to supersize it."
Angela made a rude noise. "That's easy. We start to win against
it, and he will."
Brynne snickered. "I know an easier way to supersize it. Pay the extra thirty nine cents." The others rolled their eyes at the lame joke.
"What about Croc Doc?" Trey asked, getting back onto the subject.
"Croc Doc's tail is powerful enough to sweep you off of your feet."
"Is Tommy handling Shadow Turbo?" Tanya asked when Zordon finished.
Brynne nodded. "He's holding his own, but he could use some backup."
"What's going on?" The Zeo Rangers turned to see the Guardians enter the Power Chamber, and Shaira asked again, "What's going on?"
"Welcome back, Guardians," Zordon said.
"Right now, stories can wait," Adam said. "It appears that Mondo, Rita and Zedd, and Divatox have joined forces. We have three monsters attacking, and an evil ranger that Tommy's fighting right now."
"WHAT!?" The original rangers exchanged worried glances, and then Jason asked, "Who gets what?"
Brynne glanced at the monitors before her, and summed up the situation. "Scorpio's in the warehouse district with Cogs, Croc Doc and Tengas are in the park, and See Serpent is at Angel Grove Lake, escorted by Piranahtrons. And Tommy REALLY needs help now."
"Fine," Shaira said. "Brynne, Trey, you go back up Tommy. The rest of the Zeos can handle Scorpio and the Cogs. Jason, you and the other original Rangers handle Croc Doc and the Tengas. The rest of us will handle See Serpent." Everyone nodded, and Adam and Shaira shouted at the same time, "IT'S MORPHIN' TIME!"
Tommy rolled away as Shadow Turbo swung her katana down, and felt sweat begin to bead up on his face. That had been too close. If it hadn't been for his helmet, Shadow Turbo would have shaved Tommy's head. "Don't worry about your friends coming to save you," she said as he rolled to his feet. "They're a bit tied up with three monsters to worry about."
She swung underhanded, and Tommy blocked with his sword arm. So far, she hadn't used any magics, but Tommy wasn't sure how long that reprieve would last. As it was, it was taking all of his concentration and strength to hold off her sword. Who ever she was, she was GOOD.
She swung again, overhanded this time, and Tommy swung up to block. As soon as they connected, Shadow Turbo took the opening she saw, and spun around, kicking Tommy in the stomach. Tommy staggered back, almost dropping his sword, and Shadow Turbo kept up the attack with a series of punches that alternated between Tommy's face and his stomach. Tommy blocked as many blows as best as he could, but eventually she was able to get through, and a fist knocked Tommy to the ground.
The world spun dizzily as Tommy tumbled to the ground, and as he shook his head to clear it, he sensed Shadow Turbo standing over him. "Game over," she said, and Tommy's sight cleared for him to see her pulling back with her sword. Tommy brought his arms up to futilely block the coming blow and closed his eyes under the helmet.
A pained scream and a pair of hands helping him up had Tommy opening his eyes to see Shadow Turbo staggering back, clutching her sword hand. Even through her helmet, it was clear that she was glaring at Tommy's saviors. Brynne slung an arm around Tommy's waist, and asked, "You okay?" as Tommy leaned on the Silver Ranger. The Gold Ranger kept his Power Staff pointed at Shadow Turbo.
"Just... tired," he panted. "The... others?"
"They're handling Scorpio while the Guardians are handling the other two monsters," Brynne said. "Get back to the Power Chamber."
"You're no good here, Tommy. Git!" With that, Brynne hit Tommy's teleport button, sending him back to the Power Chamber, then turned to face the Shadow Turbo Ranger. "Now, shall we try this again?"
Shadow Turbo chuckled, and said, "As you please." She held her hand out, and the familiar ripple appeared as she recreated her katana. She tipped the sword to her forehead, and bowed to the two rangers. They dropped into mirroring fighting stances, and flipped in opposite directions as Shadow Turbo charged.
Shaira, Jen, Kris, and Dale landed on the shores of Angel Grove Lake, and Shaira asked, "Where is it?"
"It is a sea serpent," the Green Ninja Ranger said. "Maybe it's actually IN the lake?" Shaira nodded, and Jen dove in. With her animal spirit being a dragon, she was the most suitable of the Ninja Rangers to dive after See Serpent. But that also meant that her ranger outfit hadn't changed too much besides having a full helmet instead of the half helmet the former Guardians had worn. But now she looked even MORE like Tommy's original ranger outfit, enough to sometimes confuse some of the original rangers.
Jen wasn't under the water long when she spotted See Serpent, and kicked after the monster. She grabbed it by the tail, stopping the monster dead in the water. When See Serpent turned to look at the Green Ninja Ranger, she wagged her finger tauntingly.
A few moments after Jen had gone out of sight, the surface of the water began to boil, and then a pale shape flew out of the water to land on the other side of the Ninja Rangers, and Jen jumped out of the water to land with her teammates. "Anyone for a snake dinner?" she quipped. "The water got a bit too hot for him." The dragon on Jen's helmet seemed to smiled mischievously, matching Jen's tone exactly.
See Serpent reared up, and snarled, "You'll pay for that, Green Ranger!"
That's Green Ninja Ranger to you," Jen said. She ducked as a Piranahtron's fist swung for her head, and grabbing the wrist, twisted the fish warrior's arm out straight. A kick to the ribs had the Piranahtron off of it's feet, and two rapid kicks to the chest had the Piranahtron turning into water and disappearing from the fight. A quick look around showed that Divatox's warriors had circled around Kris and Dale.
The Orange and White Ninjas were tag-teaming their way through the Piranahtrons, and currently, Kris was attacking with a flurry of her quick but powerful kicks. She held her hands out for her stepbrother, who accepted, and then Dale began spinning, gradually pulling Kris' feet off of the ground. Kris' feet connected with the Piranahtrons that encircled the two, and the fishy warriors collapsed into puddles of water.
The Green Ranger turned her attention back to See Serpent, and saw that Shaira was taking the monster all by herself with her Power Weapon, which looked startling similar to a crossbow. Each bolt of purple energy had See Serpent slithering further back, but the Green Ninja Ranger could see that Shaira wouldn't be able to keep it up alone. Jen hurried over, summoning her Dragon Dagger, and together the girls kept the See Serpent back from the water, using their agility and speed to avoid the snake_like creature's attacks, and Jen smiled. "Is that all you can throw at us?" she taunted.
Nope." See Serpent pointed its tail at the rangers, and the ground underneath them seemed to ripple, causing the Ninja Rangers to lose their balance. They tumbled to the ground as the waters of the lake seemed to come alive and grabbed the rangers, dragging the teens back into the water. "Welcome to MY world, rangers!"
The Zeo Rangers landed in the middle of a war zone. "Whoa!" Rocky shouted, ducking as a car behind him exploded. "Someone's in a bad mood."
"So would I if I woke up looking like that!" Angela retorted, pointing to Scorpio. The rangers ducked as the robot aimed its tail blaster at them, and rolled out of the way as the lamppost the bolt hit started to topple. "Gods, Mondo didn't gift it with much in the brains department, did he?" Angela asked as the lamppost fell on Scorpio. The Purple Ranger clearly sounded as if she were trying to hold back a giggle, but then again, she wasn't the only one.
"No, he didn't," Hunter mused, his eyes narrowing beneath his helmet. He looked around, then his eyes lit up as he spied something. "Tanya, Adam! Take care of the Cogs!" Hunter ordered. "I got an idea!"
"What's the idea?" Rocky asked, rolling out of the way as one of Scorpio's claws tried to close around the Blue Ranger's head. "Hey, I know my mom said I need a hair cut, but that's ridiculous!" Rocky snapped.
Hunter grinned, and said, "It's about time we tied this sucker up. Ange, Kat, keep him distracted. Rocky, you're with me!" He lead the way over to some nearby construction equipment, and as the White Ranger began harvesting some of the steel cables used in the cranes, Rocky caught on to what Hunter wanted.
"Good idea, Hunt!" Rocky said, then moved over to the other equipment.
"This should be enough! Let's go!" Rocky nodded, then followed Hunter back to the fight. But just before they cleared the last corner, Hunter dropped to one knee, and began tying the cable into a lasso.
"Whatever made you come up with this idea?" Rocky asked.
"Chalk it up to watching too much TV," Hunter said with a shrug. "Come on. As soon as I hook Scorpio's tail, you cut it off. Got it?"
Hunter stepped out from behind the concealing wall, and began twirling the lasso over his head. Praying that all of his pretending to be a cowboy as a kid would finally pay off, Hunter let go of the cable, letting it play out beneath his hand. He jerked his hand shut around the line when he saw the lasso had encircled Scorpio's blaster-tail, and began hauling back. Scorpio glared back at the White Ranger when his tail was being pulled back and down, but when the robot tried to pull Hunter off of his feet, help came to the ranger from a somewhat unexpected source.
Tanya and Adam grabbed ahold of the cable just about Hunter's hands, and pulled back. "Now, Rocky!" Hunter shouted.
"Right! Zeo Ranger III Power Weapon, power up!" Rocky shouted, and his arm blades sheared cleanly through the robot's tail. Scorpio let out a long, dragged-out metallic shriek, and Angela winced beneath her helmet.
"Enough," she snarled. "Let's end this!" she reached up and back for her katana, and she ran, then sprang onto the giant scorpion's back. Getting her footing secured, the Purple Ranger reached up with her sword, then jabbed straight down in the middle of Scorpio's neck. The metallic squeal cut off, and the robot collapsed, all functions stopping.
Jason grabbed Croc Doc by the jaws, and held the crocodile's mouth shut, trying to give his teammates time to get out of the way of the monster's tail. "Move it, guys! I can't hold him much longer!" the Red
Just as the teen lost his grip, Kim summoned her Power Bow. She pulled back as Jason was knocked to the ground by Croc Doc, and released the waiting arrow as the monster looked around for another target. The arrow became a streak of pink light, then struck the crocodile-like creature. Staggering back with a roar, Croc Doc spun around trying to see who had DARED to fire on him. "Uh-oh!" Kim exclaimed as Rita and Zedd's monster spied her, and rolled out of the way as the spot where she had been exploded.
"You all right, Kim?" Trini asked, helping the Pink Guardian to her feet.
"Yeah," Kim answered. "Just fine!"
Jason landed with a grunt besides the two girls, and said, "This guys tough."
"Think the Power Blaster will get rid of him?" Kim asked.
"It's worth a try," Trini agreed.
"All right," Jason nodded, and stood up. "Let's bring them together!"
Jen was grateful for the filter built into the mouthpiece of her helmet, but knew that even though she could breathe, the others were dependent on the few minutes' air supply in their own helmets. The Green Ninja wriggled free of the watery hands holding her, and when they followed after her, she started to reach for the Dragon Dagger. Then the thought They're made out of water, you idiot occurred to her, and Jen instead dove just as the hands grabbed for her again.
It was weird, a small part of her noted. Even though the hands were made of water, and she was in water, she could actually SEE the hands. It was as if they were outlined by.... Then Jen realized why she could. See Serpent was actually using magic to control the water. The Green Ninja grinned ferally, and knew how to counter the grabbing hands.
She allowed the hands to miss her, and reached out with her mage talent, focusing, not on See Serpent's control of the hands, but on his ability to keep the water together. With one simple mental twist, the hands dissipated into regular water, and Jen kicked for her teammates.
Jen reached Shaira first, who had been closest to the Green Guardian when the four had been grabbed, and the redhead laid her hands on the 'solid' water around the Purple Guardians. She did the mental twist, releasing See Serpent's cohesion control over the water, then made sure that Shaira was okay.
The leader of the Guardians waved Jen after Kris and Dale, and after pausing to watch Shaira kick for the surface, Jen started after the Orange and White Ninja Rangers. She reached Kris just as the African American girl's struggles were weakening, and released the Orange Guardian just as Shaira came back. Shaira took ahold of Kris and kicked for the surface, leaving Jen to head after Dale.
Jen finally found the White Guardian, and freed him as soon as she could. Grabbing ahold of Dale under his chin, Jen began kicking for the surface, and was met partway by Kris and Shaira. Jen released her burden to the two girls since she was starting to get winded, even with her breathing filter, and her arms and legs were starting to feel heavy. She collapsed on the shore as Shaira and Kris eased Dale onto his back and removed his helmet.
"Is he all right?" Shaira demanded anxiously.
"I don't think he's breathing," Kris said, her ear on Dale's chest. She checked for a pulse, and her expression became frantic. "He doesn't have a pulse!" she said, then reached up to remove her own helmet.
"What are you doing?" Shaira asked as Kris began to tilt her brother's head back.
"CPR," Kris said. "Rocky and I recently took a refresher class."
"Oh, getting some extra tongue hockey with someone besides Zack, huh?" Jen gibed, smiling as Kris sent her an ugly look. But the joking was quickly forgotten as Kris began to breathe for her brother, then began pumping Dale's chest between breaths.
After an unknown, but probably short, amount of time later, Dale began coughing, and Kris sat back as Dale opened his eyes. "How you feeling?" Kris asked.
"Like a dufus kicked me in the chest," Dale replied weakly.
"That's gratitude for you," Kris answered back. "I save your worthless hide, and look what I get in return. Insults!" Her smile belied her complaining tone, and she said, "Don't you EVER do that on me again!"
Dale chuckled weakly before saying, "I don't plan on it."
Jen smiled, but that smile faltered when she remember why they were there. "Where's See Serpent?" Jen asked. The other girls looked around as Dale tried to push himself up, and Shaira turned her attention back to the White Ranger.
"Dale, back to the Power Chamber," she ordered. Dale started to argue, but Shaira cut him off. "You're in no shape to fight now. Get to the Power Chamber, now!" Dale disappeared in a flash of white light, and Shaira climbed to her feet.
"Let's go snake hunting," Shaira snapped.
Shadow Turbo narrowed her eyes under her helmet, and smiled in pleasure. A handy little device that Klank had given her was a special viewer where she could keep an eye on other things while in battle, and for today she had it set up to watch the other battles. See Serpent was taking care of Shaira, Jen, Kris, and Dale, while the rest of the Guardians were tackling Croc Doc. And while she was taking care of Brynne and Trey, the rest of the Zeo Rangers were fighting Scorpio. Although See Serpent was doing better than Shadow Turbo had expected, having gotten the White Guardian out of the battle, Croc Doc would be finished off soon and Scorpio was already so much scrap. Stranger?
Got 'em. Want me to wait, or go ahead?
Gimme a few minutes to finish off here, all right? Stranger sent his agreement, and Shadow Turbo turned her attention back to the Gold and Silver Rangers before her. "Ready to give up?" she asked.
"Never!" Brynne snarled, and Shadow Turbo had to smile at the Silver Ranger's persistence. But she knew of just the way to shake the little priestess up.
"Alex sends her love," Shadow Turbo said, grinning wickedly under her helmet. "Of course, not like she's able too," she added, and ducked a vicious swing by Brynne. "Temper, temper, little fishie, or you might do something you regret." Brynne swung again, screaming her anger.
"That reminds me. Poor little Alex's voice isn't going to be the same when I'm through with her," Shadow Turbo said. "Just think, Brynne, another one of your friends was taken, and you couldn't stop it..., again!" She backed up a step, and then said, "Well, it's back to making sure that the Shadow Keeper is... comfortable. Toodles!" With that, she disappeared from the park, reappearing a few minutes later in her suite on the Space Base.
She powered down with a thought, then turned as Stranger entered the main room. "Are-?"
"Alex DeSantos, may I introduce your first two Turbo Rangers, Carlos Valerte, Green Desert Thunder Ranger, and Ashley Hammond, the Yellow Dune Star Ranger," Stranger said as two morphed Turbo Rangers entered behind him.
The helmets looked like stylized fronts of cars, just like Alex remembered, and the Shadow Turbo Ranger smiled. She bowed to her newest team mates, and said, "Welcome to the family," as both teens pulled off their helmets.
Carlos studied his helmet, and then asked, "I have just one question. Why us?"
Alex smiled grimly, and said, "Let's just say that I have it from an undeniable source that you'd make good good rangers, and great bad rangers." She smirked at the Turbo Rangers, and they matched her, smirk for smirk. "Now, lemme tell you a little story..."
"She said WHAT!?" Tommy demanded.
"That's just it," Brynne said. "She didn't say ANYTHING. She hinted and teased, but didn't say anything."
"But what good would torture do?" Kris asked. "The amount of pain it'd take to break her would make Alex worthless as a fighter."
"That still wouldn't ruin the fact that she's the Shadow Keeper," Shaira said.
"Besides pain isn't the only way to break someone," Brynne said, her eyes on Hunter. The White Ranger was almost as pale as his ranger suit, but resolutely kept his eyes level with Brynne's
"What do you mean?" Jen asked, her eyes following Brynne's line of sight. "Oh," she said when she saw Hunter's expression.
Tommy closed his eyes and turned away, swallowing back bile. The very thought of his soulbond in the hands of that... slut was enough to make him nauseous. "I gotta get outta here," he choked, teleporting out.
Alex laughed as Carlos finished his story, but a flash of concern crossed her face as her stomach twitched. Her hand went down to rub her belly, and she shifted uneasily. The others watched her, and Ashley asked, "Are you all right?"
"Yeah," Alex said, waving their concern off. "I'm fine." She stood up and walked around the main room of her suite, then a thought occurred to her. "We need our own headquarters," she said.
"Why?" Carlos asked, turning to look over the back of the couch. Alex smiled at the Green Turbo Ranger, and continued her circuit. "Can't we harass the rangers from here?"
"No," Alex said, as she came around to the front. She waited for both teens to turn to face her, then said, "There are times when we'll need to keep things just amongst ourselves, and we can't do that here." Her belly twitched again, and Alex rubbed her belly again. "We need our- Ahh!" Her sentence cut off and she exclaimed as a sharp pain ripped through her lower abdomen. The Shadow Turbo Ranger doubled over, gasping for breath
"Alex!" Carlos and Ashley hurried over and grabbed their leader's arms.
"Stranger!" Alex gasped, and in a ripple of shadows, the cloaked man appeared. He hurried over, then put one hand on her shoulder, the other over her stomach. His hand began to glow, then the former Shadow Lord shook his head sadly.
"I'm sorry, my Lady. There's nothing I can do."
"No!" Alex sobbed as her legs gave out from under her. "No, no, no, no!"
Tommy sat back in the chair he had pulled out onto the patio, and looked up at the stars. He let his mind wander where it would, and it eventually came back to his soulbond. Alex.... he sighed. He could have sworn that he had felt her earlier, but it had only been a sudden flash, so he wasn't sure.
Something warned him to jump to his feet just before the shadows of the evening rippled. A black cloaked figure appeared as Tommy dropped into a fighting stance, then the figure held up a gloved hand. "I'm here in the role of messenger, Zeo Ranger. Will you listen?"
Tommy studied the newcomer. Brynne had gotten the description of Stranger accurate. Cloaked from head to toe in black, there was nothing to see of the cloaked man, but there was more than a hint of masculinity in the body underneath the cloak, making him a definite him. Just as tall as the Red Ranger, Stranger gave off the power of a Shadow Lord, but none of the pure evil aura that the twisted Shadow Mages had given off. Something told the leader of the Zeo Rangers that Stranger was telling the truth, and Tommy slowly relaxed out of his fighting stance. "I'm listening," he said cautiously.
"I'm sorry." Tommy's eyebrows rose as the Shadow user continued. "Your daughter would have been so beautiful."
Tommy paled. "Would... have been?" he asked, his voice catching. The Red Ranger dropped back into his chair as Stranger nodded sadly. "Wha- What happened?" Tommy demanded.
"It was all that's happened to Alex."
"The Shadow Ranger?" Tommy demanded angrily, getting to his feet.
"No," Stranger said, shaking his head. "She tried to stop it, but in the end, even she couldn't help. It was being knocked into the alternate reality, and all that happened after that. That wouldn't have been enough to finish off your child, if it hadn't been for the Alex reconnecting with the Shadow Nexus. That was the final straw that killed your child." Stranger paused, then said softly, "I'm sorry." Tommy wasn't sure why, but he believed that the Shadow Mage was telling the truth.
Stranger turned to leave, but stopped, and turned back. "Don't expect to see the Shadow Ranger any time soon. Trying to save your child took a lot out of her. She'll be out of action for a while." With that, Stranger turned and disappeared in a second ripple of shadows.
Tommy dropped his head into his hands and cried.
"How is she?"
Ashley shook her head as she closed Alex's bedroom door behind her. "The bleeding's lessened, but she hasn't stopped crying." The Yellow Turbo Ranger cocked her head as the bundle in Stranger's arms moved. "What's that?" she asked.
"Nothing. You didn't see me bring it. Right?" Comprehension dawned on Ashley's face, and she nodded silently. Stranger opened the door behind the younger girl, then put the package on the floor in Alex's room. Pulling the door shut, he straightened, then motioned Ashley away.