Zhane was leaning against the bar whispering something in the Quakla's ear. Harmony rolled her eyes. Sometimes she thought the Silver Ranger only brought her down on leave so that he would have someone to witness his conquests. Not that he ever really had any conquests. He would flirt, maybe go on a date, but he was never around for more than that. In fact, he had once admitted that the chase was more fun than the actual dating.
Harmony turned her attention to the bar they were in. Not that it was much to look at. The walls were dingy beige, with low lighting and a band in the corner playing some kind of music that Harmony wasn't familiar with. The table she was sitting at was scarred from one too many of the crystalline glasses that the patrons were drinking from and weapons. She reached down and patted her Astroblaster. Harmony was pretty sure that was another reason that Zhane took someone along when he went down to the planet. He didn't have a weapon when he wasn't morphed.
"We have to go-now." Zhane said as he grabbed her arm.
"Why?" Harmony demanded as he dragged her out of her seat. A blaster bolt whizzed past her head and Harmony automatically ducked.
"That's why." He retorted as they sprinted out of the bar.
"What did you do now?" Harmony demanded as she twisted and fired back.
"Later." Zhane yelled back as the two rangers weaved their way through the winding streets, trying to avoid the traffic of the busy spaceport. Harmony could hear the whine of the speeder bikes and grabbed Zhane's arm as she ducked into a doorway.
"Let me guess. The Quakla you were talking to wasn't as unattached as you thought?" She drawled as she peered out of the doorway, her blaster ready.
Zhane rubbed the back of his neck and grinned ruefully. Harmony rolled her eyes. "When are you going to learn?" She asked him playfully.
"Probably never." He retorted. He grinned at Harmony. "You know, you almost look like a Ranger right now."
"Thanks." Harmony said sarcastically. A shot just barely missed her head and she ducked back behind the doorway. "Any help here would be hot." She snapped at him.
Zhane looked at her. "We can't morph and you know it. That's against the rules."
Harmony sighed. She knew that, she just didn't want to admit it. The powers gave her a limited range of fighting skills, but it was more than she had without them. The only defense she had when fighting unmorphed was her Astroblaster. She swung back around the doorway and fired off a quick volley of shots. "At least call for backup. I can't hold them off forever."
Zhane nodded and went to pull his digimorpher out from the inside pocket of his uniform. Frowning he padded his jacket and then his pants. "Uh…we may have a problem."
Harmony shot him a look that clearly said, "We already have problems." "What is it?"
"I don't have my morpher."
Harmony stared at him, and Zhane had the distinct impression that if he wasn't a valued part of the team, that Astroblaster would be pointing at him. "What do you mean you don't have your morpher?" Harmony demanded, punctuating each word.
"I forgot it on the ship?" Zhane answered feebly. At least, he hoped he left it on the ship.
Harmony sighed loudly and pulled off her morpher. "Here." She snapped as she tossed it to Zhane. "Just don't lose mine."
Zhane nodded, but before he could call, another voice piped in. "Looks like you could use some help."
Both Zhane and Harmony whipped around to find the body to go with the voice. Standing where there was a door a few minutes ago was a human male around their age with light blondish/brown hair and blue eyes. Harmony pointed the Astroblaster at him. "Who are you?" She demanded.
The blond stranger held up his hands in surrender. "I'm a friend."
Harmony didn't lower her blaster. "Friends usually have names." She snapped.
"I'll tell you everything later, but right now, you need to get out of here. Those thugs aren't going to wait forever, and you can't hold them off with just a blaster."
Harmony glanced back at the doorway, but she couldn't argue with it. She was a decent shot, but not the sharp shooter Kagero was. Without Zhane's Super Silverizer or backup they were toast.
Zhane nodded. "Let's go." He grabbed Harmony's arm once more and pulled her through the door. Together they followed the mysterious blond stranger, wondering if they were being led into another trap. While Malosh was friendly to the Rangers and the Council of Good, they were quite firm about staying neutral in the war. As such, both Rangers and Evil beings frequented the planet.
Harmony kept her eyes peeled for Zhane's would be attackers as they went farther and farther into the darkness. Zhane's hand was still on her arm, guiding her, but she didn't have the heart to tell him that she really didn't need him to. She was at home in the dark, thanks to an accident that had almost robbed her of her humanity when she was a little girl. "Where are you taking us?" She asked.
"Some where safe." was the answer.
"Relax. He's human. Last time I checked Dark Specter didn't have humans on his payroll." Zhane whispered in her ear.
"Astronema." Harmony replied.
Finally the stranger pushed open a door and walked through. Harmony and Zhane glanced at each other, before Harmony stepped through the entrance, followed by Zhane. The two rangers were inside a small room with a bed and table. The bed was made up neatly with blanket and a small bag that served as a pillow. On the table were various computer and electronic doodads in varying states of repair. A small set of tools was also lying neatly on the table. The walls were dingy and the place stank of something that the Rangers really didn't care to identify.
"This is where I live." The stranger told them, sitting down on the bed and waiting for the two Rangers to situate themselves.
Zhane shrugged. "What's your name?" He asked as he sank down on the floor. Harmony sat down on the stool by the table, careful to keep her Astroblaster out and pointed at the stranger.
"Would you mind putting that away? It's making me nervous." The stranger replied.
"Yes, I would." Harmony snapped, but a gesture from Zhane had her scowling at him and her blaster holstered.
The young man sighed in relief and smiled. "My name is Billy Cranston. I'm from Earth."
Harmony and Zhane both shook their heads. "That's not right. Terrans don't have the capabilities to get out of their solar system, let along to Malosh."
"He's right." Harmony added, her gaze softening just a bit.
Billy nodded. "I know. However, I'm also the original Blue Ranger from Earth. I was helping out the Aquitians, and when they no longer needed my help I was going back to Earth."
"So how did you end up here?" Zhane asked, curious. The Astro Rangers had heard vague reports about a group of Terran Rangers that had managed to fend off Zedd, Rita and currently the Machine Empire.
"Slight detour. I wanted to check out the rest of the galaxy before I went home. What I didn't realize was that my genius on Earth was common knowledge out here."
"You got stranded with no money." Harmony deadpanned.
Billy flushed. "Precisely."
"So you want a ride back to Earth?" Zhane asked.
Billy nodded. "If it wouldn't be too much trouble. If I could at least speak to Zordon, I could probably arrange for my own transportation from there."
Harmony looked at Zhane. She wanted to help him, if nothing else because he was a fellow Ranger. It wasn't her decision; it wasn't even Zhane's decision. It was Andros', and she had a feeling that their quiet but demanding leader wasn't going to go for it.
Zhane frowned as he tried to think of a way to convince his best friend how to take along a Terran. Besides the simple logistics of having another person aboard the Megaship, they also had to figure out how to drop him off on Earth. Terra was a restricted planet, with all beings from the Council, with the exception of Zordon, banned from its space. Never mind that the Aquitian Rangers had recently gone there. That had been mitigating circumstances, and he figured the Council wouldn't decide that dropping off an ex-Ranger was worthy enough to get there.
"Okay, let's go." Zhane decided, as he got up off the floor. Harmony gave him a confused look but followed his lead. "We're at the spaceport, docking bay 94. Think you can get us there?" He asked.
Billy nodded. "Absolutely." He crossed to the door and went through it.
Harmony stopped Zhane. "What are you doing? You know we can't go to Terra. It's a restricted planet. The Council will have our hides for this. Not to mention what Tykwa and Kinwon will do to us being so far away from KO-35. How are you going to convince Andros?"
Zhane shrugged. "Trust me. Besides, where's your sense of adventure?"
"I left it back in that bar." Harmony retorted as she followed the young Terran out the door.
"Quantrons." Harmony whispered from her spot behind a crate of supplies. The three teens watched as a group of Quantrons, lead by Ecliptor, went in and out of the Megaship.
"This isn't good. Where are the others?" Harmony wondered.
"Everybody was on leave except...Andros." Zhane half rose from their hiding spot only to have Billy and Harmony grab him and pull him back down.
Andros was being dragged, still struggling, to Ecliptor, where he was thrown to his knees. Kagero was dropped right next to him. Both were glaring at the cubical being.
"Where is the rest of your pathetic team?" Ecliptor growled out.
Neither of the two teens said a word.
Zhane and Billy turned around and sat down, while Harmony continued to keep watch. "We need a plan. We have to get Andros and Kagero free, and find the others."
Zhane pulled Harmony's morpher from his pocket, but before he could signal the others it chirped. He slapped a hand over the loud device, hoping that the Quantrons sensitive hearing had missed the sound in the noise of the spaceport. "Zhane here."
"Zhane? Where's Harmony?" Yoshii asked through the device.
"She with me. Is the rest of the team with you?" Zhane asked, falling easily into his role of field commander.
"Yeah, but we can't raise DECA. What's going on?"
"Ecliptor has the ship, Andros and Kagero. Harmony and I are sitting on the south side of the docking bay trying to come up with a plan. -"
"Zhane...your morpher." Harmony breathed suddenly as she recalled why Zhane had hers.
Zhane sighed. "Yosh, we've got an added problem. My morpher's on board."
The three teens heard a chuckle from the other end and then a booming voice took over. "Leave it to you, Zhane, to forget your morpher when you actually need it."
Zhane smiled faintly. "Yeah, thanks Tomah."
"So where do you want us to be, oh fearless, if powerless, leader?" Yoshii asked, taking his morpher back from Tomah.
"Meet me at Docking Bay 90. Harmony will stay here for recon. She's the best at staying out of site. We'll figure out what to do then." He closed the connection and tossed the morpher back at Harmony. "You'll probably need it."
Harmony nodded. "You didn't tell them about Billy. You taking him with you?"
Billy spoke up. "I'd rather stay here if you don't mind. The opportunity to see the newest villain in action would be an invaluable help to my own team when I return to Earth."
"Tough. You're powerless, you come with me." Zhane snapped as he grabbed Billy by his grubby long sleeve shirt and dragged him away. "Remember Harmony, first sign of trouble in your direction, meet us at the Docking Bay."
"So, you want us to distract Ecliptor while you go get your morpher?" Saroyan asked.
"That's nuts." Tomah added.
"You sound like Andros. We wouldn't let Andros get away with it, you're not either." Yoshii retorted, glaring at the Silver Ranger.
"I was planning on you guys freeing Andros and Kagero while I get my morpher. We're going to need everybody morphed to handle Ecliptor and the Quantrons."
"We've handled them before unmorphed." Saroyan pointed out.
Zhane nodded. "True, but we need to make sure that the Malosh officials know that it was official Ranger business and not just some brawl."
"Which it is?" Tomah added, a smirk on his face. He loved seeing his friend squirm. He understood the seriousness of the situation; he just couldn't help harassing Zhane a little.
"That is beside the point." Zhane insisted. "Harmony's out there all by herself right now. I'd rather not have our weakest fighter facing Ecliptor alone. So can we please get a plan together so that we can help her?"
The rest of the team looked at each other a bit guiltily. They had forgotten about the Green Ranger, she was easy to forget about. Quiet and unassuming, she often simply appeared in front of the rest of the team. The only one that seemed to get through to her was Zhane.
"Point taken." Yoshii acknowledged
"Thank you. Now, Saroyan, you and Yoshii take the East end of the docking bay. Create a diversion, and draw away the Quantrons and hopefully Ecliptor. I don't expect him to bite though, so I'll take Ecliptor. He won't resist a chance to destroy me. Tomah, you and Harmony grab Andros and Kagero and get them out of harm's way. Preferably on the Megaship. Close it off and have DECA start the intruder protocols. Hopefully she hasn't been reduced to rubble. Take off, we'll meet up with you in orbit."
"Galaxy Gliders?" Saroyan asked.
"One question, fearless leader. You're unmorphed. How are you going to take on Ecliptor, and what about your buddy here." Yoshii asked.
Zhane stopped and scratched his head. "Good point."
"I'll take Ecliptor, you take care of Andros and Kagero. Harmony can cover both your back and this guy's." Tomah said.
Zhane nodded. "Good. Okay, let's move out."
Harmony watched as Andros and Kagero were chained and forced to sit, as Quantrons continued to sack their ship. Andros attempted to break free, only to get a hit from the butt of Ecliptor's sword. He collapsed against Kagero. "Come on, Zhane. How long does it take to come up with a plan anyway?"
A hand clamped down on her shoulder and Harmony turned, lashing out and backhanding Zhane across the face. Zhane fell back and rubbed his face. "What was that for?" He demanded.
"Stop sneaking up on me!" Harmony retorted quietly. "So what's the game plan?" She asked, noticing that Billy was back with them.
"Saro and Yosh are going to get the Quantrons attention, while Tomah takes on Ecliptor. You and I get Andros, Kagero and their morphers, head up to the Megaship and take off. The rest will meet us in orbit."
Harmony nodded. "Ecliptor has their morphers from what I can see. Maybe I can…" She trailed off as she inched closer, her eyes narrowing.
Zhane watched as she concentrated. He knew what she had in mind.
Billy frowned and tried to figure out what was going on. Harmony was staring intently at, Billy thought it was, Ecliptor, and Zhane was watching as well. "What's she doing?" He whispered to the blond teen with a silver shirt.
"Ecliptor has the Red and Blue Astromorphers. We would rather not leave those behind, so Harmony is-"
"Stealing them back." Harmony finished for him. She smiled. "Done. Kagero now has both morphers."
"Good." He took a small light pen from his jacket pocket and flashed it twice in the general direction of the rest of the team. An answering flash was returned. "Okay, here we go." Zhane whispered.
They watched as the Black and Pink Rangers boldly made their way toward the Megaship. The Quantrons noticed them and they took off running in the other direction. The Yellow Ranger moved in and snuck up behind Ecliptor, hoping to incapacitate him. Unfortunately, Ecliptor was alerted and Tomah barely managed to move to side to avoid being skewered.
"Morph." Zhane whispered in Harmony's ear.
She nodded and flipped open the morpher on her wrist. Quickly she punched in the numbers and the Green Astro Ranger was crouched where Harmony had been just moments before. "Let's go." She told them quietly. The three of them moved as quickly as they could to the hostages.
"You all right?" Zhane asked as Harmony blasted both Kagero and Andros' chains.
Kagero nodded. "I am, but Andros took a bad hit."
"I saw. We have to get him on the Megaship." Harmony replied.
Kagero nodded once and then put Andros' arm around her shoulders and heaved. Zhane grabbed the other side and together they slowly made their way to their ship.
"Here." Harmony said, tossing Billy her blaster. "You'll need it."
No sooner were the words out of her mouth than the Quantrons noticed that their hostages were missing, and started streaming out of the ship. Billy blasted what bad guys he could, trying very hard not to get hit himself, considering he had no armor.
The four of them half-ran half-stumbled up the ramp of the Megaship and Harmony slapped the door controls as she ran past. "DECA, run intruder protocols. Authorization Green 5621."
"Intruder protocols initiated." The computer reported as the doors locked down behind them.
"DECA, I need an emergency teleport to the Med. Bay for me and Andros." Harmony added.
"Understood, Green Ranger. Teleporting now."
Harmony felt the tell tale tingling of teleportation and the flash of green before she was deposited in the Med. Bay.
Zhane and Kagero staggered as Andros' weight was suddenly lifted from their shoulders. "Let's get to the Bridge." Kagero snapped, taking command from Zhane. Billy simply followed them, amazed at the technology that these Space Rangers had.
The three teens came to the bridge and Kagero sat down in the middle seat, Zhane taking the controls behind her. "I say we make a strategic retreat." Zhane suggested as he started the Mega Ship through the pre-flight sequence.
Kagero nodded. "You." She snapped taking a glance at Billy. "Sit and don't touch anything."
Billy simply nodded and plopped down in the nearest seat. The technology there was amazing. Light years beyond anything on Earth, or even in most of the ships he worked on.
"Unable to comply." DECA commented to something Zhane was punching into the controls.
"What?" Zhane growled as he tried again. He wasn't Yoshii, but all the Rangers could technically fly the Mega Ship in a pinch.
"Unable to comply." DECA repeated.
"Zhane what are you doing?" Kagero asked as she stepped around to look over the Silver Ranger's shoulder.
"What I'm supposed to. DECA isn't responding." Zhane ground out.
"DECA why can't we lift off?" Kagero asked.
"Kagero, this is Harmony. I think Ecliptor did something to DECA. She thinks we're the intrud-" Harmony was cut off abruptly.
"DECA?" Zhane turned to the red light in the corner. "Who do you serve?"
"I serve the Council of Good and KO-35 "
"And who are we?" Zhane persisted.
"You are recognized as servants of the UAE."
"This could be a problem." Kagero muttered.
Harmony beat against the force field as she tried to figure out a way to get out of it. She realized that beating on it was futile, but it made her feel better. It made her feel less helpless. "Andros wake up." She growled to the prone figure on the bed. Again she knew it wouldn't happen, and even if Andros were awake he wouldn't be any help. In his condition he'd be more of a burden.
"DECA! Andros is in trouble. Let me out and help him!" The small girl snapped, as she banged on the force field once more.
"Unable to comply."
Harmony glared at the blinking red light. She almost thought that it was a joke, but DECA had always been overprotective of Andros. The sentient computer would never have encased the Green Ranger in the force field with their leader's life at stake. She turned away from the offending red light and glanced around her prison. There had to be some way to get out of there. No prison was escape proof.
She looked closer to the walls, trying to remember exactly where the air ducts were. Harmony smiled, DECA never had been able to track her in the small ducts and it was one of the reasons why Andros and Kagero were always on Kinwon's back to get the Megaship upgraded. They kept claiming that it was a security risk to have DECA unable to access the air ducts with her sensors. Kinwon's staff claimed that no one would be able to use the ducts to get to anywhere vital in the ship. Harmony smiled grimly. She had proved those scientists wrong before and she was about to do it again.
"Man, I wish I had Harmony's size right about now." Zhane muttered as he glanced at the red light staring at them intently.
"Hopefully, she got into the ducts before DECA switched over. Otherwise we might be in trouble."
"Might be?" Zhane demanded.
Billy watched the scene quietly, wistfully remembering his days as a Ranger. There were quite a few times when Adam and Tommy or Jase and Zack had been like this as well. He noticed the steady red light trained on him and he tried to make himself as small as possible. He had a plan, but it required the ship's computer or the Rangers not to know what was going on.
Billy waited until the light went back to the strategizing Rangers. He had to hurry before the computer shut down the bridge functions. He was surprised it had not already been done. That would have been the first thing that he would have programmed the computer to do in case of intruder take over. But he didn't program the computer; he was just going to rewire it back to what it was before. Quietly he slid off his seat and worked his way to the computer terminal. There hadn't been a computer that he hadn't been able to crack when he was younger. It should still be true. He glanced at the Rangers, but they were still trying to figure out how to get off the ground and into orbit. The steady red light had apparently dismissed him as a threat, and was focusing its attention on the Rangers. Billy smiled, and looked down at the consol in front of him. It wasn't as foreign as he feared and many of the components were similar in design to that of the Power Chamber.
Silently his fingers skipped over the controls, planning his moves and hoping that the computer, DECA, wouldn't notice what he was doing until he had already gotten around her programming. His eyes noticed the lines of code, and worked furiously, knowing he only had a few seconds, at the most a minute, before DECA was on to him.
"Hey! Get away from there." Billy was pulled away from the consol and found himself face to face with a furious Blue Ranger. At least he assumed she was the blue ranger from the blue shirt she wore under the black flight jacket. "What do you think you're doing?" She demanded.
"I fixed your computer, DECA, well sort of. I managed to bypass her for the moment, but it won't last, so I suggest that we lift off and fix the problem without bad guys trying to get into the ship." Billy snapped back.
"Fixing a computer as integrated as DECA in space isn't considered the safest thing in the galaxy. In fact, there are a precious few other things I'd rather not do. Why should I believe you? For all I know you're a plant brought on board by our rather naïve Green Ranger and working for Dark Spectre and Astronema." The blue ranger advanced on Billy, making the blond boy step back.
He found himself against the consol he had just been using and wondered if what this ranger was going to do to him. The only consolation he had was that Rangers were supposed to protect people. They weren't hooligans, but that didn't mean that they weren't above protecting their own against perceived threats. Billy realized he was in a lot of hot water.
"He's a ranger, Kagero. He didn't mean any harm, and I'm the one that said we could give him a ride to Terra." Zhane said from his position at navigation. He tried imputing the vectors to blasting out of there and found this time that while DECA couldn't plot the course, he could get their ship off the ground. "Besides, it seems to be working. And if he is right and he did bypass DECA, we should be able to do a cold boot from her backup systems, I think. That would be Saroyan's area of expertise, but I'm pretty sure she was mumbling about something like that not too long ago."
Kagero glared at her compatriot in colors. "All right, I know when I'm outmatched, but we have to find out if Harmony and Andros are all right."
"You called?" A voice asked from behind them. They turned and found Harmony standing up, a grimace on her face. "Those air ducts really need some cleaning. And I had to leave Andros in the Med. Bay. I don't think DECA will try to do anything to him right now, but I don't know how long that will last."
"We're running on back up systems right now. DECA's been caged." Zhane told her, his chest tightening as he thought about his best friend, a helpless victim to a psycho computer.
Harmony nodded. "Then I'll go back to the Med. Bay and check Andros out. Don't be surprised if he's not fit for duty for a couple of days. He took a really bad hit."
Kagero and Zhane nodded. "Understood. And take gadget man with you. Make sure he's not going to infect us or something." Kagero snapped.
"Absolutely. Let's go, Billy."
Saroyan growled as she pulled out of hyper rush and found no ship. "Where are they? If this is another one of Zhane's jokes, I swear he's not going to live to regret it."
"Hush, Saro. I don't think this is one of Zhane's jokes. Not with Ecliptor around." Yoshii told the pink ranger as he slipped into place beside her. They hovered as they waited for Tomah, the yellow ranger to hop out of hyper rush. "I think that they had problems with the ship."
"Let's just hope it's not destroyed." Saro snapped back.
Yosh shook his head. He knew Saro usually didn't mean to be cruel; she just had all the tact and sensitivity of a huge garbage barge.
"Andros would never forgive them if his ship got so much as a scratch on it." Tomah replied as he slid gracefully over to them. The husky yellow ranger grinned behind his helmet. "Especially if it was Zhane. He'd kill him."
"Too true. He has enough of a spaz when I do it." Yoshii added, with a grin of his own. Their fearless leader was a bit over protective of his precious Astro Megaship and DECA likewise gave him preferential treatment.
"Duck!" Saro yelled as she swung her glider down into a drop just as the Megaship came careening into view.
"Sweet stars above!" Yoshii breathed as the Megaship passed within a hairsbreadth of where he'd just been. "Who the hell is driving, Harmony?"
Tomah chuckled. "Zhane obviously."
"Hey guys. Need a lift?" Came a familiar voice over their morphers.
Yoshii shook his head at the distinctive cockiness in the voice. "You mean before or after you run us over?"
"Whenever." Came the reply.
Kagero sighed. "Sooner the better. We're running on back up systems until we can get DECA back online."
Yoshii snickered. "So gadget man here caged DECA?" He gave the blond teen a sly look.
"Yes, and my name is Billy." The two boys were sitting in the Med. Bay waiting for Harmony to finish up her exam on Billy and for Saroyan to do a cold boot of DECA's systems. Tomah was checking the rest of the ship to make sure Ecliptor hadn't left any more surprises.
"Well, DECA's back online, a bit confused but she should be able to get us back to KO-35 so we can get some repairs done to her. She's going to need a better diagnostic than I'm going to do in space." The girl in pink glared at Billy.
"How are you feeling Andros?" Yoshii asked, as he went to include their leader in the group.
Andros rubbed the back of his head and blinked blearily at Yoshii. "Like I was hit in the head."
"Funny, that's what happened." Yoshii retorted.
Andros started to get up, only to have Harmony grab his arm and force him back down to a sitting position. "Oh no you don't. You're not going anywhere for at least a day or two. The last thing we need is for you to pass out or take us to Onyx or something like that."
"Hey, did Kagero say we were going to Terra or not?" Saroyan asked, Yoshii, pointedly ignoring the Green Ranger bustling around.
"We go. Kinwon and Tykwa said for services rendered on DECA he gets a free ride." Kagero entered the Med. Bay.
"The council?" Harmony asked, not looking up from her scans.
"They said they'd take care of it. We think that mentioning that this one is Zordon's will go a long way."
"Too true." Yosh added, hooking an arm around Saro. "Let's go bother Zhane. I can't wait to hear about his off world experience. I'm sure he's got another conquest to brag about."
Saroyan rolled her eyes but followed the black ranger out the door.
Harmony snickered once the two of them walked out the door. "Oh, I'm sure he does."