NOTE:The Chad Morgan character mentioned later in the story is from Karilee's story "A Greater Love". I have also discussed with Karilee and Helen what to use for their character's clouds.
"Self-repair routine complete. Astro Viper is now fully operational.", said the voice of the Astro viper computer.
"And not a moment too soon." said Kincaid as he and Mackenzie were standing nearby. "We're almost at the resistance base on Tempest 4. They say they're being hit hard by an attack force."
"Crucible, has to be.", said Mackenzie.
Kincaid didn't have time to confirm Mackenzie's suspicion when Hardrive made three buzzing sound effects"Errr!Awww!EEEEE!" and said "Station 51. Attack on base possible fatalities. Location:Tempest 4. Timeout 14:33."
The other Nightfighters were making their way to their zords as Hardrive made the announcement. "Wow, Hardrive sounded almost like a normal computer that time.", said Ashley as she went into her BlackHawk Zord. "How'd you pull it off?"
"Thank Justin and me.", said Cassandra as she loaded the Emerald Tigerzord on Defiance..
"Yeah, we found some episodes of a show called 'Emergency' in Hardrive's data bank. And he liked doing the buzzer.", said Justin as he followed suit with Roadbuster.
"There's only one problem with that.", said Adam as he secured the DragonZord.
"What?", asked Cassandra. Then she turned to see the launch bay doors still closed. "Why don't they open?"
Kincaid sighed then said. "You have to give the code first."
"What code?", asked Justin.
"Station 51 KMG-365.", said Kincaid. Then the bay doors opened and the Zords led by Defiance flew out of the safehouse.
"Kincaid, your computer will either drive us crazy ot turn us into TV junkies.", said Mackenzie. "Which is something I wouldn't mind if the universe wasn't counting on us."
Maybe when Crucible is brought down.", said Kincaid as Defiance, the Astro Viper and the BlackHawk flew towards Tempest 4.
Tempest 4 was actually a pleasent planet. It had a look that was much like that of a small fishing town. It brought up memories of growing up near Lake Erie for Kincaid. As well as fishing on the Scioto river, but he didn't have any time for those memories right now as the Nightfighters were approaching the battle.
As the Zords made their way to the rebel encampment they saw attack fighters sweeping the trenches. Tanks on the ground and sea vessels close to the lake.
Kincaid immediately took charge. "All right Mackenzie, Ashley, take on the fighters. I'll join you as soon as I've dropped the others. Cassandra, Justin, prepare for drop."
Ashley and Mackenzie broke off and headed for the fighters. "How good are you at dogfighting Hammond?", asked Mackenzie.
"Well I've played the Top Gun video game for PlayStation does that count?", said Ashley.
Mackenzie was about to make a "smart" comment when Ashley started to fire her wing cannons taking out three fighters and evading the rest of the fighters.
"That must be SOME video game.", said Mackenzie as she went back into her dogfight.
Kincaid brought Defiance down low and opened the drop doors. Roadbuster and the Emerald Tigerzord immediately came out.
Justin gunned the engine of his huge Zord as he took it full speed towards the tanks. Justin also activated his shields and the fire from the tanks bounced off. Justin then honked his trucker horn and crashed through two of the tanks as if they were practice cars at the demolition derby. Roadbuster was hardly damaged.
Cassandra ran the emerald Tiger towrds her tanks with guns blazing as well as using the zord's natural agility to dodge incoming fire until she was in the proper position. When she had enough of the tanks in her view. The tiger roared out with a burst of flame that set fire to the tanks and later destroyed them as the fires hit the gas tanks.
Kincaid dropped some depth charges into the water before dropping the Dragonzord. Many of the charges got their targets as the wreckage from some of Crucible's sea vessels floated on the surface. Kincaid then dropped the DragonZord into the ocean to pick off the rest of the sea vessels.
Adam was able to take out most of them with a tail swipe. But also blasted the rest with the DragonZord missiles.
"Looks good so far", said Adam. Then he felt his power draining. He called to Kincaid as he was flying towards Ashley and Mackenzie.
"Kincaid, I have a power drop. I need time and some cover so I can change the prototype."
Kincaid said a silent curse then ordered Defiance to prepare for hydro combat. "I can't do this for long Adam. Defiance is an aerial ship not a submarine."
"Understood, I'll be as quick as I can."
After a "Dive! Dive!" from Hardrive the DragonZord broke off and Defiance started blasting at the subs. It wasn't long before the ship started to leak due to water pressure but the self repair program was already at work repairing it.
Adam was back in action before long but Kincaid had a 'going away present' waiting for the rest of the subs. Kincaid brought Defiance's full cannons to bear and fired at the rest of the subs taking out most of them.
"The rest are yours Adam. I'll see what the girls are up to." Kincaid flew Defiance back up into the sky. Adam finished the rest of the subs with no further trouble.
Ashley and Mackenzie were holding their own against the fighters by the time Kincaid arrived. In fact there weren't many left by the time Kincaid arrived. So there was nothing left for him to do but to pick off whatever one's were left. Then the three air zords went to check out the ground zords.
Roadbuster was demonstrating it's toughness as it tore through the tanks as if they were Volkswagon beetles. The Emerald Tiger was munching one of the ground vehicles through it's jowls. The rest of them were wrecks. The commander of the unit had no choice but to retreat leaving the Nightfighters triumphant.
"Great job team.", said Kincaid. "Let's see how the rebels are." And the zords headed for the rebel encampment.
After the Zords were reloaded on Defiance the Nightfighters went into the encampment and met the leader. A blue skinned humanoid from the planet Orion 6. "Welcome, I am Sha'lit, commander of this unit. We are proud to have the help of Power Rangers in our time of need."
"No problem.", said Kincaid. "We came as soon as we heard. How are your casualties?"
"Thankfully low.", said Sha'lit. "We would have won if they didn't have so many troops."
Kincaid and the others were confused by that remark. "What do you mean by that?", Cassandra asked.
"I had brought along some of our Orion 6 technology with me before Crucible took over the planet.", said Sha'lit. "One such technology is the rejuvination chairs."
"Andros told me about those one time. They are a kind of Virtual Reality device that gives people the impression of a paradise vacation of thair choice.", said Ashley.
"Have you ever tried one?", asked Justin.
"No we were too busy trying to find Zordon."
"I have six chairs with me. I would consider it an honor if you each tried one." Sha'lit had a pleading voice to him. Kincaid took the nightfighters aside and asked them what they thought.
"Well I'll admit I'm a little curious.", said Ashley.
"It might be fun!", said Justin.
"I guess I'll do it.", said Cassandra. Serena watch out for me in case something happens., she mentally added.
"Ahh why not.", said Mackenzie.
"Sounds cool.", said Adam.
"All right Sha'lit you have a deal.", said Kincaid.
"Excellent! This way please.". Sha'lit led them to the tent where the chairs were and all the rangers sat down and rested. After a few seconds the chairs activated and they were enjoying their rest.
Sha'lit however went to his technician. "What are their readings?"
"The red, white and emerald have the highest concentrations of negative energy in them. They will be perfect for our needs.", said the technician.
"What about the green, gold and blue rangers?", asked Sha'lit.
"They have more positive energy than anything. Not enough negative energy to use."
"The three will do. Download all the negative energy from them.", ordered Sha'lit. "Their energy shall fuel our greatest weapon."
"Yes sir.", said the technician and he began to download the negative energy from Kincaid, Mackenzie, and Cassandra into three disks. The technicians then removed the disks and gave them to Sha'lit. "Their personalities will provide the storm patterns sir."
"Excellent.", said Sha'lit. He then turned to walk out of the tent while the nightfighters enjoyed their 'dream vacations'.
When Kincaid and the rest of the nightfighters came out of the chairs they felt completely rejuvenated. Almost as if they didn't have a worry in the world. "Thank you for the use of the chairs Sha'lit.", said Kincaid.
"No problem red ranger.", said Sha'lit and the rangers turned away and headed back towards Defiance. When Defiance left, the engineer came up to Sha'lit. "It's ready sir."
"Good, begin at once."
When Defiance docked and the nightfighters were flying on the safehouse they were comparing notes on what they did. Ashley told about swimming near a waterfal surrounded by greenery and taking in the sun. Justin spoke of a trip to an amusement park and enjoying the merry-go-round there. Adam did a prizefight against a bruiser and won. Cassandra relived a memory of her mother pushing her on the swing. It was one of the most pleasing memories of her life. Mackenzie lived in a fantasy where she was cheerleading for Angle Grove high and her mom was still alive and well in the stands. They asked Kincaid what he experienced and he said that he was walking down the beach in Port Clinton with the girl of his dreams, but for some odd reason he couldn't make out her face now.
"That's not all.", said Cassandra. "Did any of you get the feeling that any anger was slipping away from you? That all the sadness and negativity was slipping away?"
Kincaid and Mackenzie both agreed. Ashley, Adam and Justin didn't feel anything like that.
"It's something I felt through my spirit guide.", Cassandra said. "I can't place it."
Just then a distress call came in "This is the supply ship Lusitania to any vessel that can hear us. We are caught in some sort of storm. We have lost power. Request assistance."
"All right gang let's go.", said Kincaid as the safehouse headed towards the co-ordinates of the Lusitania.
Defiance came out of hyperspace to where the Lusitania was taking a beating. "What is that?", asked Ashley pointing at the screen.
The other nightfighters looked at the screen and saw a red cloud with lightning spewing out of it wildly. There was also lightning cracking within the cloud as well.
"That ain't like no storm I've seen before.", said Mackenzie.
Cassandra then felt something. "Kincaid something from the storm is activating my telepathy. I'm picking up feelings from it."
"Feelings?", asked Kincaid.
"Yes, loss, fear, despair, betrayal, a longing for a loved one gone, fear of death."
"Are they coming from the crew?", asked Adam.
"No.", said Cassandra. "I don't understand I've never picked up on feelings like this before but something with that cloud is activating my telepathy. And there's something familiar about these emotions."
Kincaid was about to ask what when the signal from the Lusitania brought the nightfighters back to reality. "Full throttle Hardrive. Straight towards the Lusitania." ordered Kincaid.
The rangers then braced themselves as Defiance headed into the cloud and the turbulence that followed. As they travelled deeper Cassandra saw the feeling starting to turn into memories.
Memories of a young girl waiting for her mother to come home but would never again as her coffin was lowered into the cold ground.
Memories of a father who hit her repeatedly and told her that she was never wanted in the first place.
Memories of endless chemo treatments to get rid of cancer in her small intestines wondering if she would ever live to see tomorrow.
Memories that led to the creation of a rebellious teen that had everything in life fail her. Memories that belonged to Mackenzie Dekalb.
"Mackenzie.", said Cassandra as the memories finally overtook her. Mackenzie then turned to find Cassandra fall unconscious, overwhelmed by the Mackenzie's memories that strangely resided in the stormy cloud.
When Cassandra came to the rest of the nightfighters stood over her wondering what happened but Cassandra spoke first. "Did the ship make it out?", Cassandra asked.
"The ship was a lost cause but we managed to save the crew.", said Alpha.
"It was an enemy ship.", said Kincaid. "We're going to drop of the crew at the nearest resistance base. But enough of that, what happened to you?"
Cassandra tried to explain. "I'm not sure. As we were flying through the storm those feelings I had turned into memories. Sad memories full of anger. But that's not all, as we flew into the cloud I knew whose memories they were."
"Were they mine? You did say my name.", inquired Mackenzie.
"Yes, for some reason Mackenzie I knew they belonged to you."
"But how?", asked Adam.
They didn't have time to answer when another distress call came forth. This time from the resistance base on Gratiot. Their base was being destroyed by tornados.
The mobile safehouse then turned towards the base as they saw another red stormy cloud, but instead of lightning the storm was eminating tornadoes and gusts of wind that pushed some ships away. In other areas of the storm vaccum holes opened that pulled in atmosphere and debris to be crushed by the tornadoes that were also laying waste to the camp.
"Cassandra are you picking up anything from the cloud?", asked Kincaid.
"Yes, more sad emotions. Grief, inner conflict, hate, fear, a need to push people away."
Kincaid felt a twinge of familiarity when Cassandra described those emotions. Ashley then said, "We have to go into the storm to rescue the people again."
"We have to go into that? Ai yi yi yi yi Ashley are you crazy?", asked Alpha.
"No we have to do it for two reasons. The storm is interfering with teleporters and we need to go inside to find out if this storm is like Mackenzie's and if it is whose memories they belong to."
"I think I already know whose memories they are.", said Kincaid.
"Whose?', asked Justin.
Kincaid waited a second before he spoke. Then he said "Mine."
The other nightfighters were surprised but Kincaid's suspicions were proven correct when they flew into the storm full throttle trying to go so fast that the storm would not catch them. It was tough trying to keep Defiance steady, and Cassandra was overwhelmed with memories again.
Memories of a father telling of his decision to divorce their mother and of the son going through guilt trips because of it.
Memories of emotional abuse at the hands of family and enemies alike.
Memories of almost being placed in a mental institution as a result of the abuse, and where his freedom was almost taken from him.
Memories of being hit by his older brother as he emulated his father's behavior.
Memories of being hit by his father one time, and betraying him on Iocaste.
And memories of friends he led into battle being killed--by one of their own.
And Cassandra started crying as the memories overwhelmed her again.
For the second time Cassandra was in the medbay with the nightfighters hovering over her.
"This is no coincidence.", said Adam. "First Mackenzie and now Kincaid. What's going on?"
"I think maybe Sha'lit has something to do with this.", said Justin.
"How are you two feeling?", asked Ashley to Mackenzie and Kincaid.
"Personally I've never felt better. I'm starting to remember some pleasent memories that I had growing up."
"Did you have these memories before?", asked Ashley.
"Yeah, but they always seemed to be out of reach for me emotionally. It was always like my anger and grief got in the way."
"Until you stepped into Sha'lit's machine.", said Justin. "Mackenzie did the same thing happen to you?"
"Yeah. It was like I could finally get in touch with happy memories that I hadn't experienced in a long time."
"Well it looks like Sha'lit stole Kincaid's, Mackenzie's and possibly Cassandra's negative experiences and used them to create these storms that we've seen. Even though we haven't seen a Cassandra's storm yet." The others agreed with Justin's hypothesis.
Kincaid, Cassandra, and Mackenzie felt violated in a roundabout sort of way. Even though they did not care for their negative emotions they did not like the thought that they were being used as weapons. And even though Cassandra hadn't seen her storm yet she was worried as to what it would be.
They went back to the bridge when they got a signal from Tempest 4. They were caught in a space hurricane.
"Well I think we know what Cassandra's storm is.", said Mackenzie.
The part of Tempest 4 where the rebel camp was located in was located in the eye of the hurricane which was more or less the safest place to be. Sure there was storm activity but the worst part of it was for the most part outside the eye.
Cassandra started to feel her own memories and emotions eminating from the hurricane. Emotions mostly centered around fear of being hurt. Memories of growing up in Kentucky.
Memories of physical and mental abuse from bullies who dubbed her the school nerd.
Memories of having to be strong for her father while also trying to be strong for herself.
Memories of her mother dying when she was only five and the road to despair the death started her on.
And memories of taking up Karate as she sought to find balance and self worth within herself.
For some strange reason a hurricane seemed very appropriate as her own storm.
"How are you holding up Cassandra?", asked Adam trying to be reassuring.
"It's weird. It's like I'm looking into a mirror of my own soul or at least a twisted version of it."
"Your telepathy probably has a lot to do with it.", said Ashley as she joined in the reassuring.
"Okay boys and girls. Let's take her in.", said Kincaid as he flew Defiance into the eye."
"One question.", said Mackenzie. "Who gets his hands on Sha'lit first?"
"After he tells us how to undo these storms the light forms at the rear.", said Kincaid.
The rebel encampment was all but destroyed. Other rebels ran looking for some form of shelter from their own creation. Sha'lit was doing everything he could to keep the equipment intact by himself since his staff left with the rest of the rebels, but the shields were starting to fail. Then he saw his equipment being teleported away.
"NOOOOO!!!", he howled as he himself was teleported shortly afterward.
Sha'lit then found himself on the bridge of Defiance with six nightfighters looking down on him. Hardrive then spoke in a Bugs Bunny voice "Would you like to shoot him now or wait till you get home?"
"Alpha, finish teleporting any survivors you can then take us out full throttle." Alpha resomed teleporting as Kincaid, Cassandra and Mackenzie looked down at Sha'lit.
"Problems Sha'lit?", kincaid asked with a sneer in his voice.
"A malfunction yes. The directional controls malfunctioned sending the storms on different courses until they finally crashed leaving us with this one."
"Didn't your mom ever teach you that it wasn't nice to fool with mother nature?", said Cassandra.
"It was for a noble cause.", Sha'lit defended.
"WE DID NOT CONSENT TO HAVING OUR FEELINGS TAKEN FROM US AND USED LIKE THIS!!!!", yelled Cassandra. "Negative or not!!!", she later added with clenched teeth.
You really violated us.", said Mackenzie. Then she advanced towards Sha'lit and kicked him where he sun don't shine so hard he sounded like he was ready to sing soprano for the metropolitan opera.
"We have cleared the storm.", said Alpha.
"Survivors?", asked Kincaid.
Alpha had a hint of sadness to his voice. "I got forty-seven out of one hundred and fifty."
Mackenzie then advanced towards Sha'lit again and grabbed him by the tunic. "Now you got three seconds to tell us how to stop those storms."
"There may be one way.", said Sha'lit. "Since the storms were created with negative energy, positive energy could be used as a counter balance against the existing storms allowing them to dissipate."
"Where are you going to get positive energy?", asked Adam as he joined in on the inquizition.
Sha'lit then turned to look at Adam. "The reason we didn't use you, the girl, and the young one was because your positive energy dwarfed the negative energy that you three had."
Ashley then joined in. "Wait a minute. You're saying that since Adam's, Justin's and my positive emotions were so strong that you couldn't use them in your storms?"
"Yes.", said Sha'lit.
"Why didn't you take the positive emotions if this was going to happen?", asked Justin.
"Because he didn't think it would. Did you?", said Kincaid glaring at Sha'lit.
"No but since you are here and you have brought my equipment with you, we could use your positive energy to disipate the storms.", said Sha'lit.
"ARE YOU CUOCOO???!!!", shouted Mackenzie. "You want Adam, Ashley, and Justin to get into that contraption?"
Ahsley tried to reassure Mackenzie. "It's the only way. If those storms continue the way they are going more people could be killed."
"Kincaid we can do it.", shouted Justin.
"It's the only way.", said Adam.
Kincaid then turned to look at Mackenzie and Cassandra. The looks on their faces made the vote unanimous.
"I'm against it.", said Kincaid. "But okay.
Before long Ashley, Adam, and Justin were hooked up to the machine again as this time it took their positive emotions away from them rather than giving them dream vacations.
Sha'lit monitored the equipment and when the power levels indicated that they had enough he shut it down. He then went to another machine and began work on what he called the peace clouds.
The three rangers who were hooked up to the chairs however found themselves overwhelmed by the memories and negative experiences that they had sought to overcome. For Adam it was the feelings of inadequacy as a person. Always being torn down by bullies to where the point self-confidence was non-existent. As his positive emotions were being drained out of him the feelings of inadequacy returned.
For Justin it was the feeling of abandonment by his father. Fear that he didn't want his son because he was gifted with genius. Sadness as bullies called him names to demean him and devalue him. And memories of grief as his family was being taken away from him a second time by the guardsmen.
And for Ashley, it was a feeling of lonliness as she realized that Andros was not with her and that she may not see him again, that she may not see any of her friends again and be alone for the rest of her life. Fear that she would only be seen as an object and not a person as many people have:the prison governor, her old boyfriend Chad Morgan, and others in her past. An object to gawk at and drool over, and to never be a person who feels and needs to love and be loved.
Ashley didn't want to be hated, she would rather spend life alone than be hated. Then she came to a revelation as she struggled to keep herself from falling too deep into despair she thought "Kincaid is this what it's like for you?"
On a more positive note the peace clouds had found their respective storms as Adam's cloud brought calm to Cassandra's hurricane and the winds dispersed across the vaccum of space.
Ashley's cloud eased the turbulence and inner chaos of Kincaid's tornadoes and they too dispersed into space.
Justin's cloud insulated Mackenzie's wild lightning as the clouds lit up like a star when they merged and then the light spread out throughout the cosmos.
The danger was over. All that remained was Sha'lit.
After the storms were broken representatives from the United Resistance were taking prisoners in tow. Sha'lit was one of them.
The nightfighters stood in front of Defiance as the prisoners were being escorted. Emotionally they were more or less their old selves but thanks to Sha'lit they were now aware of places within themselves they never knew, or had forgotten, existed. As they all looked at Sha'lit they saw how their very beings, their souls were turned inside out. In some cases for the better, in other cases for the worst.
They all knew Sha'lit would get what was coming to him. And Hardrive also knew as well as he expressed his computerized feelings towards what Sha'lit did to the Nightfighters in the only way he knew how...by doing a quote from Jackie Gleason in Smokey and the Bandit.
"Nobody makes Sheriff Buford T. Justice look like a possum's pecker."
The nightfighters then looked up at what Hardrive said and chuckled a little. Then they laughed out loud.
Sometimes Hardrive really knew how to make people feel good. For a little while.
When the rangers reboarded the mobile safehouse Kincaid stood on the command deck alone thinking about what had just happened. He didn't know Ashley had walked in.
"Penny for your thoughts?", she said.
"I'm just trying to put things back into perspective. It's not everyday that one has a part of their soul ripped out and torn upside down.", Kincaid said.
Ashley was silent for a second then she spoke. "I've always tried to focus on positive things. To try to be the most positive person I can be. But I think somewhere along the line I became so positive that I forgot what true darkness really is. The darkness that lies in our souls and the darkness you, Mackenzie and Cassandra have to live with everyday."
Ashley then started to cry "I'm sorry, I had no idea how it could be for you." then she broke down in tears. After experiencing her own negativity it seemed like she no longer had a right to be happy anymore.
Kincaid then turned and held Ashley in his arms. "Don't be sorry. It's all right. It's all right." As Kincaid held her with all the empathy and reassurance he had Ashley returned the embrace just as eagarly.
Neither of them noticed Mackenzie looking on at them. A tear of longing shed down her face before she turned and walked away.