This was the planet the Night Rangers had called home.
And one of them had returned home.
The CarrierZord Defiance flew across the dusty, icy plains of Hades. The Nightfighters looked out to see that no life was seen on the surface, and it was as if the only inhabitants of the planet that could exist there were ghosts. For the briefest moment Cassandra thought she could sense some of the ghosts on Hades.
The rest of the Nightfighters took in the bleak landscape. Only two did not look since they were guiding the craft and had been to Hades before.
Kincaid and Bruce stood at the helm and navigation consoles as they were guiding Defiance to it's destination.
The other Nightfighters looked too see a structure standing on the bleak landscape. It looked old and dark much like a haunted house. For all the other Nightfighters knew, it was an old haunted house. "What is that?", asked Justin.
Kincaid answered. "That is the old Night Rangers HQ. We always called it 'the lighthouse' It was quite the sight when we were in there. It used to emerge it's own light as if it was a beacon in the universe."
"What happened?", asked Adam.
"The beacon went out.", said Bruce. And he and Kincaid went to set down Defiance.
"In a minute.", said Kincaid as he put his hand on a palmprint screen then he removed it. A computer terminal appeared in front of him and Kincaid entered in some commands.
"The computer has been down for a while. I've managed to activate the lighthouse's self-repair program but it will still take a while.", said Kincaid.
"Anyone want to build a campfire?", asked Cassandra.
"Sounds cool to me.", said Mackenzie. And the rest of the Nightfighters moaned at her pun.
After a few minutes the Nightfighters had gathered up enough dead roughage and Kincaid fired his blaster and a fire was started. Soon everyone was warming up to it.
"You know, this is kind of appropriate.", said Kincaid.
"What do you mean?", asked Ashley.
"Well when one sits by a campfire, one tells campfire stories. And I guess with the place and setting..."
"It's a good time to tell a story.", said Cassandra.
"Like one about the Night Rangers.", said Adam.
"And how you joined them.", said Mackenzie.
Kincaid sighed and made ready to bebin his story. "Well it all started in Leroy's shootfighting rink in Port Clinton...
Jeff Kincaid and Pat Kinkle were going at it full tilt when Jeff's friend Bruce Greene walked in. He didn't say Hi since he didn't want to distract Jeff. Besides, he knew Jeff well enough that he would be getting a second wind before too long.
Bruce's reaction was right on the money when Jeff started to do a leg sweep that knocked Pat down. Jeff got up and placed his foot on Pat's throat. Two seconds later he said "I quit."
Jeff let up and shook Pat's hand as he got up. He then went over to where Bruce was standing. "Hey what's up?" Jeff asked his friend.
"Not much.", said Bruce. "But you seemed to really cut into that guy back there."
"Well I got a lot to work out.", said Jeff. "My mother got in touch with her lawyer. She's trying to ramrod a judge into getting visitation rights to see me."
"And the problem is?"
"I could barely handle mother when I was living with her. How could I handle even small doses of her?". Jeff paused for a moment before he continued. "This would be a stepping stone for her in helping to get my life under her control again. She knows my grandmother won't be around forever. And even though Leroy is like a father to me she'd really try to make him out to be an unfit parent."
"My dad's not unfit!", defended Bruce.
"We both know he's not!", said Jeff. "But my mother would turn every screw to convince a judge that he was. She may even use the shootfighting thing as an excuse. Hell, my grandmother is scared when I do it."
"Do you think you should stop?"
"Hey I love doing it. Why should I stop?"
"Well if you find yourself livin with mom again...", said Bruce.
"Good point, I'll think about it." Jeff took a pause before he spoke again. "So what's up?"
"We got a new member. I need someone to show him the ropes."
"No problem. Who is it?", asked Jeff.
"His name is Mark Kinega." And Jeff saw an olive skinned brown haired 17 year old standing before him.
"What was the secret? That he had fantasies about Roseanne Barr in a G-string?", asked Mackenzie jokingly.
"Funny, but no. It turns out that he was a member of a branch of a very exclusive club and he was looking for a few new members."
"This club didn't happen to be the Night Rangers was it?", asked Cassandra.
"Give the lady a cigar.", said Kincaid.
Jeff and Mark had sized each other up not saying a word. They then faced each other, bowed and went into their fighting stances.
Mark lunged forward with three punches followed by a front kick which Jeff backed away from. Jeff then ducked down and did a leg sweep which Mark jumped to avoid. They did a lot of moves with neither of their opponents making contact. 'this guy has got fast reflexces', thought Jeff.
Jeff then threw a punch when Mark grabbed his arm and spun him over. Jeff hit the ground hard.
Jeff later tried to force Mark forward as he was holding the arm. Jeff later moved the arm back and hit him where the sun didn't shine. Mark then removed the arm and Jeff was back on the attack.
Mark then landed a low blow of his own on Jeff, but Jeff would not allow himself to be taken down easily. The fight went on with neither fighter besting the other until they both collapsed in the middle of the ring.
Jeff looked at his opponent in respect. "You're not too shabby there Kinega."
"You're pretty good too Kincaid.", complemented Mark. Then they both got up to tend to their bruises and they hit the showers.
"Yeah, it's supposed to be a sign of respect. But until Mark called me by it I never really saw it that way. I always insisted that I be called Jeff."
"Why didn't you like Kincaid?", asked Ashley.
"I've had instances where being called by a last name was an insult. Unless I beat a fighter in the ring I saw no reason to think otherwise. I needed their respect."
Kincaid paused for a moment before speaking again. "This part of the story is what Hardrive had told me."
When Mark rematerialized he found himself on the bridge of a spaceship. Then he spoke as if he was speaking to the ship. "Hello Hardrive, status report."
Mark knew who 'the big giant head' was as he activated his main viewer and found Zordon looking at him. "Hello Mark, how goes the mission?"
"I think that I may have found my first candidate. He seems worthy of holding the blue Night Ranger powers. And he may one day hold the red ones too."
"Excellent", said Zordon. "What is this young warriors name?"
"Jeff Kincaid.", said Mark.
Zordon paused for a moment as if in deep thought. "Your choice is correct. He will make an excellent addition to the Night Ranger team. Contact him at once."
Zordon then broke contact and Mark got ready.
Just then he felt a tingle throughout his body and he then felt himself being pulled across the sky. He then rematerialized on what he couldn't make out. Jeff took a look at the design of the room and thought it might have been some sort of offshoot of the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. "Where the hell am I?", asked Jeff.
"Toto you're not in Kansas anymore.", said a voice. Jeff spun around to see who was speaking. "Who said that?"
"That was my computer Hardrive.", said the voice of Mark Kinega as he entered the bridge.
"Why'd he call me Toto?", asked Jeff.
"It's his way. He's watched so much TV that the only time he speaks is in TV jingles."
"Can't you fix it?", asked Jeff.
"I don't really want to.", said Mark. "It kind of gives him a personality. Not like these other computers that don't really have much of one."
"All right, enough about the computer. What am I doing here?", asked Jeff crossing his arms.
"Okay, well where do I start." Mark paused for a second before he spoke again. "I take it you have heard about the Power Rangers?"
"The super heroes who trash monsters in California? Yeah what about them?"
"Well...I'm sort of a Power Ranger."
Jeff could not believe his ears as the next second he broke out laughing. Mark then decided to prove his point as he brought out his morpher and said "Red Night Ranger activate!"
Mark then morphed in front of Jeff's eyes. When Mark was finished he was wearing a black and red costume with a red helmet and a scowl on the face. Jeff was shocked and confused. "Power Rangers don't have red and black costumes.", Jeff said.
"Correct.", said Mark. "The Power Rangers of Earth don't. But I'm part of a ranger force that's not limited to Earth."
"Not limited to Earth?
"I'm a Night Ranger Jeff.", said Mark.
"What's a Night Ranger?"
Mark made ready to begin his story. "When the universe was just coming out of it's infancy the lines between good and evil were being drawn. Many had chosen to serve the side of good fighting to preserve the rights beliefs and freedoms of the individual as well as focusing on the goal of peace. Those who sought to serve evil were those who were self serving, disrespectful and thought that peace was achieved through opression. Benefiting the select few at the expence of the many.
"One race sought to explore the many depths of evil. Their name has been lost to ages. They discovered various powers that could be used for the cause of evil as well as to transcend the spirit realm to feed the power to their evil warriors and leaders. When one of these evil creatures died and another took their place the spirit of the previous evil warrior would help to guide and increase the power of his predecessor. Hense many evil warriors became dark spirits.
"The first morphin masters needed a way to counter the efforts of the dark spirits. For the evil warriors knew of no limit to the evil that they could do. They also did much of their work at night since spirits were known to traditionally move freely among the night, as well as provide cover among the shadows for their evil deeds. So a new team was created one that could match the evil warriors on an equal footing. These rangers had spirits of good to guide them which were fallen warriors who fought the good fight and provide a balance to the dark spirits that guided the evil warriors. These rangers were called the Night Rangers.
"Night Rangers journey into the night to protect people from the evil that the dark spirits represent. The evil of greed, lust, pride, gluttony..."
"The seven deadly sins?", interupted Jeff.
"Yes exactly," said Mark. "Except these evil warriors didn't fall into a cliche that the current Power Rangers face of 'send down the monster and destroy the world'. A lot of these evil warriors took what they wanted and had the power to do it themselves. Whether it be money, power, people, there was really no limit to the evil that these warriors could do.
"Many times the Night Rangers had to adopt the tactics of the evil warriors to defeat them but only when necessary. The three rules that applied to the Power Rangers applied to the Night Rangers as well:Never use the power for personal gain. Never escalate a battle unless forced to, and never tell people that you are a power ranger."
Jeff took it in for a second. "So what you're saying is that there are these evil monsters that are guided by the ghosts of other evil monsters. And that you are a member of a team of Power Rangers that are guided by the ghosts of other Power Rangers to beat them?"
"That's about it!", said Mark.
"Okay, so what does this have to do with me?", asked Jeff.
"Well, the time has come for a new Night Ranger team to be put together, and I need you to be the blue Night Ranger."
Jeff took in the news and thought about it for a second. Then he broke out in laughter.
"What's so funny?", asked Mark.
Jeff tried to calm himself for a second then spoke. "I just can't believe it. Me a Power Ranger?"
"A Night Ranger actually.", said Mark.
"I'm sorry, but I don't think that I'm Power Ranger material. Now if you don't mind I've got to get back to the hellhole that is my life."
Mark then sighed. "If that's your decision then fine. But if you change your mind let me give you this." Mark reached across one of the consoles and gave Jeff a communicator. "If you change your mind just press the activator switch on the side. You'll be teleported up here to Defiance and the Morpher will be waiting."
"Defiance?", asked Jeff.
"That's the name of the ship, or Zord"
"I thought the ship was named Hardrive."
"No the computer is named Hardrive, the ship is named Defiance."
"Whatever, I gotta go, now if you can beam me back down to where I was I'd be happy." Mark then went to the controls and beamed Jeff back down.
"He'll be back.", said Mark as he stared at the empty spot where Jeff Kincaid once stood.
"At the time the concept of being a power ranger was a little daunting to me.", said Kincaid. "It really didn't seem real."
"So what made you change your mind?", asked Cassandra.
Kincaid reflected for a moment. "Well it involved Bruce and a girl I had quite the crush on."
"Hey Jeff, are you going to be ready for the theatre presentation tomorrow that we have to do for class?", she asked.
"Yeah, I've been going over the monologue for a while now.", I'll be ready.", said Jeff.
"Great, I'll see you tomorrow.". Jeff was ready to ask her out on a date but the words didn't come to his mouth. Jessica then walked away. Bruce then came up to his best friend and asked "What happened?"
"I got scared", said Jeff.
"Of what her saying no? If she does so what? She's passing up a good thing."
"Bruce,", said Jeff. "I've been burned a lot of times in the past. I really don't want to get shot down again." Then Jeff walked off.
Bruce however had other plans.
"Yeah Jessica, this is Bruce Greene I'm a friend of Jeff Kincaid's."
"What can I do for you Bruce?", she asked.
"Well my friend Jeff has missed something for the project and I can't get in contact with him on it. I was wondering if you can pick it up for him?"
Jessica thought about it for a minute. "Where is what he has?"
"It's at Leroy's shootfighting rink on first street."
All right I'll be right there.", she said and she hung up.
One down one to go, thought Bruce as he went to call Jeff's number.
Bruce had to stall for time. "Yeah well ah...". he didn't have to wait long since Jessica was coming. She took a look at Jeff, then at Bruce. "Why didn't you call and tell me you found him?"
Jeff was confused. "He was supposed to call you?"
"He told me you had left something that we needed for the theatre project tomorrow.", said Jessica.
Jeff got defensive. "No I didn't!"
"Then why did your friend call me?". Then both Jessica and Jeff turned to glare at Bruce.
"All right Bruce, what's going on?", asked Jeff.
"Look Jeff, you like this girl but..."
"You like me?", interrupted Jessica. Jeff's face turned red.
Then there was a flash of light and a group of robots in red uniforms stood before them.
"What are these guys?", asked Bruce.
"I don't know.", said Jeff. But before long the red guard robots moved in to attack.
"Bruce get Jessica out of here. I'll hold them off." Jeff immediately went into fighting the robots and Bruce escorted Jessica away.
When Bruce thought they were safe enough away another group of robots appeared. Bruce went into a fighting stance and went after the robots before him. "Run Jessica. RUN!!!", he yelled as he was fighting.
Jessica turned to run when two robots grabbed her and teleported her away. The remaining guardsmen teleported away having enough of Jeff and Bruce.
Jeff looked around. "Where's Jessica?"
"She was just here.", said Bruce. "I told her to run when those red robots appeared. Perhaps she got away."
"Let's split up. I'll look north."
"I'll look south.", said Bruce as they split up.
When Jeff was far enough away, he activated the teleporter and teleported himself back up to Defiance.
"That depends. What can you tell me about robots that wear red, have blasters at their sides, and kidnap teenage girls?", asked Jeff.
Mark thought about it for a moment. "Red robots with blasters? Were these robots dressed like they were guards or something?"
"Yeah. Do you know them?"
Mark then turned to Hardrive and ordered him to scan for any ships in the vicinity. "Klingon battle cruiser off the port bow.", said Hardrive.
"I was right. You just described a platoon of guardsmen.", said Mark.
"They are the military arm of the Luciferian empire.", said Mark. "They are an old empire who research and practice the ways of evil. In fact, they're the ones that the Night Rangers were created to stand against."
"What are they doing kidnapping a girl from Port Clinton?", asked Jeff.
"Best guess I can think of is slave labor. Worst guess is one I don't want to give."
Jeff was starting to get anxious. "So what are you going to do about it?"
"Well I can't do it all by myself. I need to finish putting together my team.", said Mark. "The offer still stands."
Jeff thought about it for a moment. Then he made his decision. "All right, I'm in."
"Great, now to find the rest of the recruits."
And finally there was the blue Night Ranger Jeff Kincaid, who was a runaway from an abusive home. Mark welcomed them all then began the power chant.
"Spirits of the night. The time has come again. Four have been chosen, and agree to accept your gifts of power. They will be the light against the darkness. Guide and empower them and let the magic of the night flourish again!"
As Mark finished the chant, the room became darker. And it seemed as if ghosts were flying around the room. All the Night Ranger candidates saw these ghosts flying around. Then the ghosts turned to them and flew through them, entering them, and filling the four teens with their power. The four teens then found themselves transformed and in the place of four teenagers from hard lives stood the yellow, pink, black, and blue Night Rangers.
"This is so cool.", said Anna Hawker.
"Stellar", said Ishalla Nab'ri.
"This is so Prime.", said Krolos.
"When do we get after the ship?" asked Jeff.
Mark then talked to Hardrive as if he was StoneCold Steve Austin. "Hardrive, if the linker is still transmitting. Give me a hell yeah!"
Hardrive replied with a "Hell Yeah!"
"Then set course and let's go get em." And before long, Defiance streaked across the cosmos.
"What's Jessica doing down there?", asked Jeff.
"Occasionally they do runs in disputed space to pick up girls for their pleasure harems. For 'general' amusement."
"Which means they have girls to amuse the generals. As prostitutes.", said Anna. Mark agreed.
"Revolting.", said Krolos.
"Do we have a plan to free them?", asked Ishalla.
Mark thought for a moment then came up with an idea. "We'll do a frontal decoy. Jeff you lead the attack from the front. I'll take Defiance down and take out the internal defences."
"Uhh, no disrespect here. But what do we attack them with?", asked Jeff.
"Good question. If you go down to the landing bay, you'll find your Zords waiting."
Jeff and the other Night Rangers went down to Defiance's loading bay and saw the Zords waiting for them. Jeff's zord was that of a blue and black winged wolf. Krolos had the black PantherZord. Ishalla's Zord was a pink and black bat, while Anna's was a yellow and black raven.
"Awesome.", shouted Anna.
"The best plans are the simplest.", said Kincaid.
"The Ritual with the Night Ranger powers seemed interesting.", said Cassandra. "Is there a chance you could do it again?"
"No.", said Kincaid. "And I'll get into the reasons why later. But let me finish my story for now."
The Zords left Defiance's landing bay and flew out towards the pleasure base. Jeff and the rest of the Night Rangers kept the defences busy while Mark flew Defiance in and teleported to where the central control computer laid. He then activated the intruder control field and the generals on hand quickly were knocked out.
It wasn't long before the generals found themselves in prison and the slaves they had taken were freed. Mark then asked Zordon to transport them to their respective homelands.
After Jeff returned from space, he and Jessica did their project together and got a good grade as a result. He then asked the question. "Are you doing anything tomorrow afternoon?"
"No.", she answered.
"Well I was wondering if you wanted to go out for lunch tomorrow?"
Jessica thought about it for a second and said "Sure, why not?"
Jeff said thank you but his heart was jumping for joy.
Kincaid sighed and said "No. But we did remain friends."
"Have you seen anyone since? Romantic wise?", asked Mackenzie.
"Why are you interested?", asked Kincaid. Mackenzie gave a playful look that said 'Maybe'.
"Well there was one other. But she stepped on my heart after dating for six months. But that's another story."
Kincaid went on with his story. Unaware that he wasn't the only one taking a trip down memory lane.
The Luciferian Empire was not an empire limited to one specific race. It hadn't been for millenia. Over the ages, many evil practicioners had come to join their forces and learn new skills as they became a force to be reconed with.
But now that force was in jeopardy of dying as the empire now stood leaderless.
Many generals had come forth and sought to prove their wortyness to lead. Many times the cases lead to arguments, which lead to bloody fights.
In the background was a young warrior who had just come into the empire. Like many others he had abandoned his former name and embraced the new identity given him. His name was now Savrod, he was a general in the honor guard. Savrod saw the senior generals squabbling. He knew that none of them were fit to lead. They had faced the force known as the Night Rangers and lost repeatedly.
Savrod believed that he should be the one to lead. But he knew that the senior generals would not allow one of Savrod's inexperience rule the Luciferian empire. Despite being a general(and a lot of manuvering, backstabbing, betrayal, and murder), he was still very young. He could not command respect as the elders could.
He needed to find someone to manipulate. To pretend to serve as a right hand man. Then when the time was right...assume his rightful place...as leader.
'But who?', he thought. 'Who could effectively lead against the Night Rangers?'
Then the answer came to him, and he laughed.
'One that I can use, and when the time is right will dispose of.', he thought. Then he made his preparations.
Savrod then made communion with the dark spirits that the Luciferians worshiped. Many of them had advised the generals of the Luciferian's to their greatest conquests. But lately there had been few communions, until Savrod came in.
Savrod outlined his plan to the spirits. They gave it their blessing, and stood ready to empower the new leader of the Luciferian empire when Savrod delivered him.
Savrod returned his focus on the present, and looked upon Crucible's chamber. The time will come soon said Crucible's 'loyal' general.