Disclaimer: What can I say? We know the drill by now. No one and nobody owns Power Rangers except Saban. And anything else that you don't recognize from "The Show" is probably my creation, and I would really appreciate being asked if you could borrow anything or anyone. Thanks!

Author's Note: Thanks go out to Mandi Ohlin for betareading this, and to Hellfire for help with the dream. Thank you, you guys!

Welcome Back
by KrazieKat

On the Guardian Ship, nine rangers were in the Medical Bay. The console muttered to itself as it sorted through all the data as the Green and Yellow Zeo Rangers talked softly while finishing the last of the tests, the only sounds in the quiet room. The automatic scanner tucked itself neatly back into its slot above the bed Alex rested on. Her pallid skin was contrasted against her black hair, and then dark green sheet drawn over her, making Alex seem even paler. SARA, the robotic assistant to the Guardians, said softly, "I'm sorry, but there's nothing we can do until the energy booster is out of her system." The gathered rangers there relaxed in disappointment, but only Brynne noticed an absence.

As the others set up a watch so that there would always be someone with Alex, the Silver Ranger started a search for the comatose girl's soulbond. She found him in the Simudeck, sitting on a recreation of a beach. "Hey, Tommy," she said quietly.

The Red Ranger turned, and nodded to the Silver Ranger. "Hey, Brynne."

The lack of any emotion in Tommy's voice worried Brynne. As she sat down beside him, she added, "I was worried about how you were doing." For a moment, the only sounds were of the waves crashing and of their breathing. The wind even stopped for that moment, as if the world created by the Simudeck was holding its breath for the answer.

"I'm all right," Tommy said, finally. Brynne leaned away from him and gave him such a skeptical look that he finally admitted, "I felt like I shouldn't be there, Bry."

"Why?" Brynne asked, her brow furrowing. To her line of thought, no one belonged there MORE than the Red Ranger did.

"I was the one that drove her to it," Tommy said in an anguished voice.

"WHAT!?" Brynne demanded, startled. "Honey, no you didn't. If it's because of the argument-"

"It's more than just the argument, Bry. I said goodbye to her. I told her that I never wanted to see her again. Maybe if I hadn't-" Tommy's voice choked as tears welled up.

Brynne sighed. "Honey, I have a feeling that she would have taken the energy boosters no matter if you two had argued or not. We needed the Caller batteries, and we had to free Hunter. Alex knew that, and chose to risk herself to help us by taking the energy boosters."

"But-"

"No buts, Tommy. Things happen that none of us can stop, and I have a feeling that this is one of them."

"Cha'lem's telling you something?" Tommy asked. Brynne shook her head.

"Nah." She grinned, and said, "It's too much like a poorly written fan fic."

"A WHAT!?" Tommy asked with raised eyebrows.

"Fan fic. The full term is fan fiction, shortened down to fan fic. See, remember how Hunter and I come from a reality where Power Rangers are a show?"

"Yeah," Tommy said hesitantly.

"Well. I discovered, about a month before we left our reality, a site on the Internet where there are stories written about Power Rangers by the fans. Hence, the fan part. It was shorten into the term, fan fic. Anyways, there were some fan fics that were SO bad that they got MiSTed, and current events remind me of some of those fics." She smiled, and said, "Come on. We're arranging a watch, so that Alex is never alone."

Tommy couldn't help smiling back at Brynne, and accepted her hand to help him to his feet. "Thank you, Bry," he said.

The Silver Ranger brushed it off. "There's nothing to it, Tommy. It's all a part of being a priestess of Cha'lem. Besides, it's what friends do." She smiled, and led Tommy back to the Medical Bay.

* * *

Divatox was not a very happy pirate queen. She paced back and forth in her subcraft, thinking. She knew that her step-granddaughter was back, but how could she get Alex? Ever since she had returned, Alex had either been closeted in the Power Chamber or the Guardian Ship. What was wrong with her, to have the rangers keep her locked up like that?

"Do you really want Alexandria?"

Divatox froze, then whirled to face a black cloaked man standing in the entranceway to the bridge, and the Pirate Queen snarled, "Who are you? How did you get in here?" She tried to see past the drawn up hood, but the face was hidden in shadows too deep for Divatox to see through.

The man chuckled, and stepped farther into the bridge of the Subcraft. As he passed Rygog, the stranger paused to stare at the mutant, and the first mate stepped back, glowing eyes wide with fear. "Does it matter?" the stranger asked as he continued on his circuit around the bridge.

He allowed one gloved hand, again black, to drift down to the console face as he passed behind the lone console at the front of the bridge. Divatox could feel his hidden eyes weighing, assessing everything in the subcraft with a faint contempt. And every time the stranger's eyes passed over a member of the crew, said member was shaken, afraid. Even Elgar.

Well, she thought to herself, it doesn't take brains to be afraid. Or at least not much. "What do you want?" Divatox snapped, irritated at her crew's reactions.

"To offer you my services," the man said, finally turning to study Divatox. She felt herself being judged, weighed, and found lacking. She narrowed her eyes angrily.

"Why should you help me?" she demanded.

"Let's just say that I hate seeing families broken apart," the stranger said. "I'll get your," he seemed amused at the next part, "granddaughter for you, at no cost."

"And I just suppose that you know where she is?" Divatox retorted sarcastically.

"Exactly," the stranger responded calmly. "She's on the Guardian Ship, with only the little Silver Ranger to protect her."

"And how will you get her?" Divatox wanted to know, her curiosity getting the better of her anger. "I doubt that you can just waltz in there and take her."

"Waltz, no," the stranger replied amused, "but I WILL take her." He walked over to the same console he had passed, and typed something in. "Be at these coordinates in ten minutes with whatever you were going to use to... persuade Alexandria to join you." With that, the room seemed to ripple, and when reality stabilized, the stranger was gone.

* * *

In the darkened Medical Bay, the shadows seemed to temporarily deepen, and the cloaked stranger appeared. He looked around, and a soft chuckled filled the quiet Medical Bay when he spotted Brynne. The Silver Ranger was sleeping in a chair beside the only entrance to the room.

He stepped soundlessly over to Brynne, and passed a hand over the Silver Ranger's head. She sighed, and seemed to settle into a deeper sleep. The stranger then turned to the Shadow Mage, and hurried over to the comatose girl's side.

He gently picked the Shadow Keeper in both arms, and as he backed up, felt something bump the back of his head. "Put her back," Brynne growled. "Gently." The stranger complied, easing Alex back onto the bed, and turned to see the fully awake Silver Ranger, Silver Power Staff pointed at his head.

"So the little fishy isn't asleep," the stranger said, some surprise, but mostly amusement coloring his tone.

"Priestesses of Cha'lem are resistant to sleep spells," Brynne snarled. "Who are you?"

"Stranger," the man replied, and then the intruder flipped over Alex's bed. He flipped his cloak over Alex, and the shadows seemed to gather around the two. Brynne swung for the stranger as the shadow began dissipating, and hit....

Nothing. Alex and Stranger, as the man called himself, had disappeared. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Brynne shrieked. She collapsed to the floor of the Medical Bay, her Power Staff tumbling to the ground beside her.

* * *

In a cave some miles north of Angel Grove, reality rippled, and Stranger appeared with Alex in his arms. Several Tengas, Cogs, and Piranahtrons were finishing up connections, testing controls, and mounting a metallic cylinder onto a base, all under the constant watch of Porto, Klank, and Finster. Stranger nodded to Divatox, who was sitting on a chair brought especially for her, and Divatox stood up, shocked. "You actually GOT her?" Divatox demanded.

"It wasn't as hard as you think," Stranger replied. "But, are you ready for her? How are you going to control her?"

"They're almost ready," Divatox said with a toss of her head towards the grunts. "How did you get her?" She backed off when Stranger's head turned towards her, and Divatox felt the full weight of his stare. "We're going to use Shadow Mist," Divatox said. "My fiancÚ gave me a scroll with instructions on how to create the mist."

"Very good," Stranger said, as Porto waddled over to the Pirate Queen.

"The tube is ready, my queen," Porto said. "If you'll just follow me." The walking pillow lead the way to a tube who's bottom was padded, and the top half, made entirely of clear glass, was open. Stranger eased the Shadow Mage onto the waiting bottom half, and stepped back as two Piranahtrons lowered the glass top onto the bottom half.

Divatox stared at the glass casing that held the comatose girl, and she asked, "Are you sure it will work?"

"Absolutely," Finster replied. He, Klank, and Porto were running checks on everything. Out of everyone in the alliance, those three had the least arguments. "We re-created the gas from the formula that was recorded in the Shadow scrolls Maligore gave you. Since she's part Shadow, it will bond with her dark side and bring it out. We've also added a healing agent that should take care of the damage caused by the energy booster."

"Then what are you waiting for?" Divatox demanded.

"Your order, my queen," Porto said.

"Well, consider it given," Divatox snapped. Finster bowed and nodded to Porto, who had waddled over to a console, and stood ready. The walking marshmallow pressed a button, and the tube began to fill with a white mist coming up from below.

Alex's eyes never opened as the mist obscured the coffin-like structure.

* * *

The first sensation that Alex registered was the sound of laughter, carrying over the sounds of waves crashing. Alex opened her eyes, and saw that she was lying on her back on the beach. She flipped onto her front, and smiled at Tommy, who was playing water tag with a four year-old boy with white hair. "Don't drown your father," Alex said, smiling, and the boy shouted, "Okay, Ma!"

Alex laid back and closed her eyes, but opened them a few minutes later as the laughter stopped. She propped herself up on her elbows, but she was alone on the beach. A sinking feeling began in her stomach, and she called, "Tommy? Brian?" She waited a moment, but there was no response. "Come on, fellas, this isn't funny." She finally stood up and looked around. The beach was empty, and Alex gulped. The shadows cast by the cliffs seemed to stretch for Alex, and she backed away, towards the water. There was a roar behind her, and she turned to see a wave about to crash over her. She backed away, but it was too late. The water fell over her as Alex opened her mouth to scream, swallowing salt water in the process. She struggled to the surface, but something started to drag her down. She glanced down, and only saw the blackness that had stretched for her from the shadows of the beach. She struggled to free herself as her lungs burned. Her arms and legs became heavier, and she gave up the struggle with one last scream. No one was on the beach to notice the bubbles floated up to the surface in peaceful ignorance.

* * *

Alex sat up in her bed with a shriek, quickly calming down as she recognized her surroundings.

As she tried to regain control of her breathing, she suddenly felt someone sit next to her. It was Tommy. He traced the line of her face with a finger, before saying, "They're waiting for you," pointing to the door. He then got up and left.

Confused, Alex got to her feet and walked out the door.

And into...

The park?

No, not the park. Not THE park. She hadn't gone back there. She COULDN'T have. Alex stood in shock as she watched herself, the evil Shadow Turbo Ranger, take on the Turbo Rangers.

"She's gone!" Alex whispered. "She's not real!"

"She is you," Ma'erok stated from behind her, laying a freezing hand on her shoulder. Alex flinched, but something held her in place, and her eyes widened as Vampyra burst from the earth and howled at the moon before throwing herself at the Rangers as well.

But suddenly it wasn't the Turbo Rangers standing there. Now it was her friends, all demorphed. Guardians and Zeo Rangers together watched helplessly as the Shadow Turbo Ranger and Vampyra circled them. "She is you too," Ma'erok pointed at Vampyra. "It is your destiny. You cannot escape."

"I can die," Alex growled.

Ma'erok chuckled. "Not even oblivion will be an escape. Look."

Alex looked up and saw a throne of grey mist floating in midair. Upon it sat Alex, in a long grey gown. Shades swarmed around her throne, bowing to her constantly as she blinked cold, grey eyes at them.

With one vicious yank, she jerked her shoulder free, and began running away from the scene for all she was worth. :It wasn't true!: she wailed in her head. :I'm NOT evil!: After about five minutes, she stopped and leaned against a tree, and glanced up as a boy began shouting, "Rocky and Alex, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!"

The boy was Adam, when the Green Zeo Ranger had been ten years old. Alex stood up, and started running again, stopping when she ran out of breath. She leaned against a building, and when she recovered her breath, looked up.

Her jaw dropped as she saw that she was leaning against the apartment building that had been her home for the first 17 years of her life. Something pulled her inside, and in seeming a few moments, she was in the old apartment.

Inside, she found... "Mom? Dad?" Alex asked, confused. "I thought you were dead!"

"We are," her father said, his eyes filled with contempt. "No thanks to you, you ungrateful brat! You should have been the one to die that night!" Alex flinched, and saw that her mother's eyes held no warmth for the Shadow Mage.

"Alexandria, how COULD you?" her mother asked. "How could you team up with those that killed us?"

"But I didn't!" Alex protested, and her mother's lip curled with contempt.

"Then look behind you!"

So used to obeying that tone of voice from her mother when she got into trouble, Alex turned, and blanched. She was back in the park, and the Shadow Turbo Ranger and Vampyra were finishing off the last what remained of Alex's friends.

Macabre curiosity made her walk through the bodies. She flinched at the accusing look in the eyes of her friends' corpses. Vampyra moved through the bodies, searching for some more food, walking around as if Alex wasn't there.

A small ray of hope appeared in Alex. "Tommy isn't here. Is he alive?"

"Yes. He is," a cold voice said behind her. Alex whirled, and almost screamed to see Tommy in his Green Ranger outfit, the helmet off, standing directly behind her. The cold look in his eye was all the warning Alex had before he roughly grabbed her by the back of her neck. He pulled her in for a cruel kiss that bruised her lips as it took her breath away. She felt a cold something pass from her soulbond to settle into her, and she began struggling away.

The Evil Green Ranger threw her to the ground, and when she looked up, Tommy was gone, leaving only Ma'erok, the Shadow Turbo Ranger, and Vampyra were around her, the Shadow Lady still sitting on her throne. All of them were looking at her. "You are a fool," Ma'erok spat. "You think you can fight the evil. But the evil is inside you. You cannot fight it anymore than you can rip out your own heart and soul and cast it away."

Vampyra and the Shadow Turbo Ranger then stepped towards Alex. The Shadow Lady Alex rose from her throne and followed. One by one they walked into Alex's body, disappearing as they touched her.

Alex felt colder and colder. With a shudder she fell to her knees.

"Receive your destiny," Ma'erok said.

And Alexandria DeSantos was gone, lost in the darkness within her.

* * *

When the rangers, minus Rocky, who was babysitting his younger siblings, landed in the Power Chamber, the first thing that greeted them was the sight of a miserable Brynne sobbing on the examining table. She was curled up into a ball with Trey trying to calm her down. "What's wrong?" Tommy demanded. The last thing he heard, the Silver Ranger was supposed to be on the Guardian Ship with Alex.

The White Ranger, who was over by the sensor console, spoke up. "Trey grabbed me without a word, and teleported us to the Guardian Ship. We found Brynne crying on the floor of the Medical Bay, her staff beside her, and Alex gone. We haven't gotten Brynne to say what's wrong." He motioned over to where Trey was still trying to calm the Silver Ranger down.

Trey looked over to the other rangers, and shrugged helplessly. He turned back to the Silver Ranger, as Brynne said, "It's all my fault. If I had been quicker..., if I hadn't been so DENSE!" She started another round of sobs, and Trey gathered his soulbond into his arms.

Turning his attention to Hunter, Tommy demanded, "Have you found anything, any trace of Alex?"

The White Ranger shook his head. "No. It's as if she had been taken off of the face of the planet," Hunter said.

"I'm not meant to be a ranger," Brynne sobbed. Tommy narrowed his eyes, and then marched over to Brynne. Taking the Silver Ranger from her soulbond's arms, he shocked everyone by slapping Brynne, hard. Twice. He lowered his hand, and Brynne's hand went up to cradle her left cheek, which was developing a red handprint.

"Better?" Tommy asked, and Brynne nodded, still quiet. "Now, if you're ready to answer some questions, who took Alex?"

"I don't know," Brynne said helplessly, new sobs threatening to overtake her. She bit the tears back, and said, "It was a man entirely in black, and his face was hidden by the hood over his head. He called himself Stranger."

"What happened, exactly?" Tommy asked.

"Well, after everyone left, I settled by the door, and somewhere along the way, I fell into a light nap. I felt... SOMETHING, and then I felt someone try to cast a sleep spell over me. It didn't work, and when I opened my eyes, he had Alex in his arms. I called my staff, and had him put Alex back on the bed. He turned, and said...," she paused as she tried to remember what he said, and then "'So the little fishy isn't asleep.' I informed him that I was resistant to sleep spells, and then demanded his name. He said, 'Stranger,' flipped over Alex's bed, swung his cloak so that it was covering Alex, and then they both disappeared," Brynne said. "That's when I broke down. It was my fault that she's gone agai-"

"You said disappeared. How?" Tommy demanded. Brynne froze, startled, and Tommy grabbed her by the arms. "HOW?" he demanded as the Silver Ranger winced.

"Uh... the shadows seemed to gather around them," Brynne said. Tommy released the Silver Ranger, and swore softly as Trey groaned. "I swung as soon as the shadows began gathering, but by then, they were gone."

"It's not your fault," Tommy said. "This.. 'Stranger,' sounds like some sort of Shadow Lord."

"WHAT!?" That had everyone's attention, and Trey nodded.

"The way he disappeared sounds like a Shadow slide," the Gold Ranger said. "It was the only way that he could have gotten out with Alex, since she wasn't in his arms."

Before the rangers could respond to Trey's statement, the alarms in the Power Chamber went off. "What's wrong?" Tommy demanded of Alpha as the little droid hurried over to the consoles.

"Ay-yi-yi! There's a massive surge of energy in a cave in the mountains to the north of us!" Alpha exclaimed. "Sensors can't pick up anything other than that!"

"Rangers, you must go and see if it is another attack by the forced of evil," Zordon said. "Alpha and I will continue the search here, and will send Rocky to you as soon as possible."

Tommy nodded, and dropped into his morphing stance. "IT'S MORPHIN' TIME!"

* * *

As the Rangers landed at the cave, they immediately went on guard, but no one was there. "I don't like this," Tommy said.

"It's too quiet?" Brynne quipped, causing a short, nervous laugh in the rangers. Lately, Tommy's precog had been to accurate to discount out of hand.

"I'm not sure," Tommy said. "Let's go in. But we take it nice and easy."

The Rangers cautiously entered the cave, and they spread out as they walked deeper and deeper into the cavern. "Where is it?" Tommy asked Adam, who had been over at the sensor console with Alpha.

"It was set near the back," Adam said.

"It's getting awfully dark, Tommy," Angela commented.

"Brynne? Trey?" Tommy said.

"On it," Brynne said, and then a soft, silver light began emanating from her Power Staff. Soon her silver light was joined with a golden one from Trey's Power Staff.

"I think I see something," Kat said, and as the rangers began to turn in the Pink Ranger's direction, a blur of black shadows raced between the Australian and the rest of the group. It was gone almost as soon as it registered to the others, and Adam asked, "What was that?"

Then they realized that Kat was missing. "What the HELL?" Trey swore. "Where's Kat?"

"She's here," an amused, and cold, voice said, and everyone turned in the direction of the voice. They faced seeming endless shadows, and as Brynne and Trey brought their staffs over to part the shadows, a figure began to glow with a deep grey light.

At first, all the rangers could make out was a familiar outline, of a female ranger, but then the light increased, and they could see more details. The featureless helmet. The entirely black Spandex. Those that had met the Turbo Rangers recognized the Autoblaster in one hand aimed at the group. The other held a black, decidedly deadly looking sword to Kat's throat. The Pink Ranger was pinned to the floor of the cavern by a boot pressing down on her windpipe.

"One wrong move, Rangers," the Shadow Turbo Ranger said, "and then you can kiss this kitty good-bye!"

"Kat!" Hunter said, lunging for his girlfriend, but Adam and Tommy stopped the White Ranger.

"Smart move, Rangers," she said, not moving her head, and then addressed Kat. "Well, now, it seems that I get to find out just HOW many ways there are to skin a Kat. How shall I start?"

"How about like this," Kat said, and twisted a leg around the Shadow Ranger had on her throat, knocked the Turbo ranger off balance.

The Shadow Ranger rolled to her feet, out of the shadowed nook, and then said, "Catch me if you can, rangers!" With that, she took off, heading for the entrance to the cave. After helping Kat to her feet and making sure she was okay, the rangers took off after their newest nemesis.

As the rangers burst outside of the cave, they looked around, but the evil ranger wasn't in sight. "Where IS she?" Tommy asked.

"Right here!" The rangers turned and stared up the mountain slope the cave was set in to see the Turbo Ranger holding a black bow, with an arrow cocked back. She released, and then pulled back, causing a second arrow to appear, and released. Firing arrow after arrow, she caused the Zeo Ranger to duck for cover.

A flash of blue made the Shadow Ranger exclaim and drop the bow, which disappeared as soon as it hit the ground. A hand went to her back as she turned to see Rocky. "You'll pay for that!" the ranger snarled. She held her hand out, and a ripple seemed to travel down her arm and then form into a sword. She attacked the Blue Ranger as the rest of the Zeos caught their breath.

Finally, she knocked Rocky to the ground, and he rolled down the slope to his friends. The Rangers stopped Rocky, and then helped him to his feet, Tanya and Brynne supporting the exhausted Blue Ranger. "Who are you?" Tommy demanded, as the black clad ranger skidded down the mountainside. Her sword had disappeared.

"Please, Tommy," the ranger said. "Like I'm going to give away and advantage like that?" She whirled and fired at Kat with the lazer pistol she created with another ripple, and the Pink Ranger rolled down the mountainside. The Shadow Ranger jumped as Kat was about to hit her and flipped over the rangers to land behind them. She turned her head to face the rangers, and banished the pistol as Hunter and Trey supported the shaken Pink Ranger.

"I'd love to stay and chat," the Shadow Ranger said, "but I gotta book. I have other appointments. I love ya, buh-bye now!" Black energy swirled around her and she disappeared.

* * *

Back in the Power Chamber, Tommy ripped off his helmet, and demanded, "What the hell is going on? Who was that? How did she manage to access Alex's powers? I thought only Alex could use them! And why the hell did she leave the fight when she had the upper hand?"

"I don't know, Tommy," the rangers' mentor said. "Although we were able to watch the battle, the scanners were blocked by some sort of barrier created from Shadow energy."

"Shadow energy?" Brynne asked, her eyes clouding over as she mulled over that. She was standing over by the console where she had just put her helmet, and she closed her eyes, massaging her neck. Everyone turned to her, and Trey asked, "Any ideas?"

Brynne shook her head. "Nothing that really stands out." She began rubbing her nose, and Tommy turned to the others.

"We need to know more. Kat, Tanya, I want you to get everything you can find on the Shadow Zeo shard from the Guardian Ship. Have SARA help you. Hunter, Trey, go to the Safehouse, pull everything we have on the Shadow Zeo shard, and the Turbo Rangers. We need to have SOME sort of expectations for her, so that we won't be caught totally off guard. Also, pull all of what we got from the scans we ran on Alex's Powers, when we were still in the alternate reality. Adam, pull everything that the Power Chamber has on the Shadow Crystal. Ange, Rocky, I know you don't like getting into Alex's personal things, but I need to see what Alex has on her diary program. Download, and bring it here. Since we're still lacking information, and we don't know why she pulled back, everyone goes in teams of as least two, no one goes anywhere alone." Everyone nodded at their orders, and broke up for their assigned missions.

"We need to know as much as we can," he said. "Meet back here with what you got when you're done." Those assigned jobs started off in search of information.

* * *

Divatox watched as her step-daughter, she just couldn't stand the thought of a step-granddaughter, smoothed down the black material of her dress, and then pushed back her ebony hair. A few streaks of white showed that her hair was returning to its frosty color. The pale fingers brushed against the black opal set in a silver mesh necklace, and Alex asked, "Do I look presentable, ca'dra?"

Divatox smiled, and nodded. "Of course, my dear. You're ALMOST as lovely as I am."

Alex smiled wryly, and bit back her reply. "Shall we go introduce me to the others? I'm sure they'd LOVE to know if it worked or not."

The two women teleported out, and landed in the hallway leading to Zedd's throne room. Alex rolled her eyes as the door opened. Zedd and Mondo were arguing. From the sound of it, it was over if she should use a zord, or magic. "Frankly, I think that should be my opinion," Alex said, stepping into the throne room. All noise stopped as the two adversaries turned to stare the newcomer.

"After all," Alex continued, "I'm the one that's going to be fighting. And I wouldn't want my soulbond to be hurt. You don't know how that might affect me."

"Then why did you pull back from the fight?" Zedd demanded. "You were winning!"

Alex ran her eyes scornfully over Lord Zedd, and said, "It may not have been obvious to you OR the rangers, but I knew that if I had stayed any longer, then I risked revealing myself to the rangers. And I'm not ready for that yet. The way I just left the battle left them confused, and I know that the rangers are gathering data on anything relevant, such as the Shadow Zeo, and the Turbo rangers. They may even be checking out my diary program. But they won't find anything they won't already know."

"Alexandria," Machina said. "How nice to see you on the PROPER side."

Alex turned to the Machine Queen, and smiled coldly. "The only side I'm on," the Shadow Keeper informed Machina, "is my own. It just happens that it.... coincides with yours. For now. Now, if you don't mind, m'lords," she said the word sarcastically, "I have a few things I need taken care of. Klank, Porto, Finster, with me!" Alex strolled to the door, and then paused. "Oh, and if any of you EVER call me out of a battle without a DAMN good reason, don't expect me to be thrilled about it." With that, she left the throne room, followed by the named lackeys.

For a moment, no one spoke. Then Zedd wondered out loud, "Are we sure of what we're doing with her?" No one had an answer for him.

* * *

As soon as the throne room doors closed behind them, Alex turned to face the three lackeys. She pulled off her morpher and almost carelessly flipped it to Klank, who caught it. "I want five copies of these. While quickness is good, I'd rather that the duplicates be accurately copied. I'll handle the Keys. I want you and Porto to get on it immediately, please."

"Yes, m'lady," Klank bowed, and disappeared with Divatox's inventor.

"Now, as for you," Alex said, her tone softening as she turned to Finster. "I need an assistant, someone to watch over me during and after major works of magic, and to help me when ever I need it, whether I want it or not. Will you take it?"

"Uhm... er... yes, Lady Alexandria, but what about Empress Rita?" Finster asked.

"If she doesn't like it," Alex said softly, her eyes glowing with a black light, "then Rita can take it up with me."

* * *

Alex finished her spell, and five glowing, spinning balls of black energy hovered before her. Alex laughed, and held a hand out. One icy ball landed in her hand. "Seek," she ordered it, the image of a face forming in her mind. "Find the one worthy to make the Pink Turbo Ranger." Alex released it, and it hovered before her before winking out. The Shadow Mage held her hand out, and another flare jumped out to her hand. Another face formed in her mind's eyes as she commanded, "Seek the one to be the Red Turbo Ranger." The flare winked out as the girl released it, and she turned back to the remaining seekers. The seekers landed in a hand, and Alex ordered them, "Seek the Yellow, Green, and Blue Turbo Rangers," each given a certain target to look for, a certain face to search out. Releasing the now commanded seekers, she watched as they disappeared, and then smiled. "Time to pay a visit," she said.

* * *

Tommy flopped back onto his bed with a sigh. After a long day of waiting for a second attack that never came, everyone had headed for home, and sleep. No one had come up with any ideas as to who the ranger was, or how she had gotten Alex's powers to work for her.

"There's too many unknowns," the Silver Ranger said, shaking her head. Then a huge yawn stopped anything else she might have said.

"Time for bed, Bry," Hunter said, when his sister started to turn back to the console that all the gathered information had been loaded into. He gently put a hand on Brynne's shoulder, and then said, "You're worn out. You need to sleep."

Brynne yawned, and then shrugged. "It's been too long since..." She yawned, and then added, "I crunched data like this." As she finished, she began swaying slightly, and the others watched her worriedly.

Hunter smiled, and said, "In other words, good night, all. She'll be fine in the morning." Brynne nodded, and as Hunter helped her to her feet, Brynne leaned on him sleepily. With that, the White and Silver Rangers shifted out.

That was taken as the cue for everyone else to go to bed. Zordon promised to inform the others if the scanners picked up any trace of Alex, or the Shadow Ranger.

"Alex...." Tommy sighed, and then drifted off into sleep, dreaming of his soulbond.

A pair of lips pressed cruelly to his jerked Tommy out of a sound sleep, and his eyes snapped open, but a blindfold over his eyes prevented him from seeing anything. Almost as his eyes snapped open, a dagger was pressed to his throat, and a weight settled on his chest, pinning his arms to his side. The amused voice of the Shadow Ranger spoke.

"Just thought that you'd like to know," she said. "I'm keeping dear little Alexandria... safe." There was a twist to the way the Shadow Ranger said "safe" that made Tommy's stomach roil. "But don't worry. Soon you'll be with her again. See, the powers on the moon have promised you, and her, to me. But I'm not here for you, not yet anyways. So you're safe.... for now." The weight and dagger disappeared, and Tommy sat up, jerking the blindfold off. But his room was empty.

Unbidden, the Shadow Turbo Ranger's last words echoed in Tommy's mind, taunting the Red Ranger. For now...

The End

Rule

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