Note:The song Running through the fire is by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown band from the soundtrack of Eddie and the Cruisers II:Eddie Lives from Scottie Bros. Records.
Mackenzie Dekalb was walking on the bridge of Defiance where Kincaid was taking the helm. "Where are we heading?", she asked trying to start up some small talk.
"We have to make a pit stop on Iocosta to get some fuel. Our run-ins on Earth have left us pretty dry.", said Kincaid.
"Iocasta.", asked Mackenzie who had never heard of the planet. "What's there?"
"You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villany.", said Hardrive impersonating Obi-Wan Kenobi. "We must be cautious."
Kincaid then turned to Mackenzie. "Need I say more?"
"Nope." said Mackenzie. Then she decided to get to the point. "Can I talk to you about something?"
"As long as it's not about the Night Rangers I'm fine with it.", said Kincaid. "What's up?"
Mackenzie paused for a moment before she spoke again. "You've got a look in your eyes I've seen before. I...had this friend see who had everything to live for. She planned to be a cheerleader in high school, be a champion martial artist and have lots of friends. Then all of a sudden her mother died and she took it hard. She felt her world end right there. She started getting into fights. Tried to commit suicide four times, even starved herself to death to the point where she became anorexic. Her father was not there because he was too busy getting drunk around bars. What friends she had she pushed away. No matter what anyone said it didn't matter. All she knew was the pain of life, and the mind numbing loss that just filled her heart. And the look in your eyes is the same one that girl had when she lost her mother. Do you want to talk about it?"
Kincaid thought about it for a minute, "No not really. But there are times that I think of someone I knew who had the look you spoke of. He was someone I was...close to. He had his share of friends, but he had an even bigger share of enemies. He was always the target of bullies who wanted a punching bag to prove how tough they were. They'd berate him. Humiliate him. They even punched him down a few times. At times he would go to his father for comfort since he was the one my friend looked up to as a hero. He lived in a house of abuse, you name the abuse it was probably done--even though emotional abuse was the specialty of the house. My friend's mother was always yelling and wanting things done her way. The older brother took on some abuse traits of his own. The father was suspected of being physically abusive. It was even told that my friend's father beat him once for not being able to do math homework, sent him crawling to a closet for safety. To this day my friend probably doesn't remember his father hitting him because my friend loved his dad so much.
"With the exception of my friend's father my friend felt like he grew up in what was turning into a loveless house and a loveless life with the exception of the few friends he had for support.
"Then my friend's father decided to get a divorce from the mom, and since my friend idolized his dad he wanted to go with him. Then the mother tried to prove how bad the father was and laying guilt trips on my friend. With that, the abuse that went on in the house,and attacks by school bullies he fell into a depression. Nothing mattered, he was torn apart. He contemplated suicide once or twice, and almost faced a stay in the mental institution because of it. Bullies thought he belonged there anyway, they enjoyed putting down my friend.
"Then his father left after the divorce was final. He didn't take my friend with him. His father remarried shortly after and while he lived in the life of luxury with his new floozy, my friend was stuck in a house of abuse that was little more than a run down shack."
"What happened to your friend after that?", asked Mackenzie.
Kincaid spoke again. "He couldn't bring himself to end his life due to the threat of going to the psycho ward so he ran away from home. With the exception of a few appearances on a few milk cartons I haven't seen him since. What about your friend?"
"Ohh she's...around somewhere.", said Mackenzie coyly.
Kincaid paused for a moment then looked at Mackenzie, "Well let's hope our friends find each other. They could use the support."
"I guess they could.", said Mackenzie. Then she turned to the viewscreen with Kincaid and watched as they came up to Iocaste. Both of them were thinking about the other's "friends".
Mackenzie then left the bridge and walked down the hallway contemplating the conversation she just had with Kincaid. Even though when she told her story she said it was a friend who had lost her mother, Mackenzie was making reference to herself, and she had a good idea that Kincaid was doing the same.
As Mackenzie came to the living quarters she saw Cassandra waiting in the hall. "What do you want?", asked Mackenzie.
"Look I don't know what your problem is but it seems like ever since we met all you have done was to do your best to insult me. And frankly, I don't care for it.", said Cassandra.
"What you expect everyone to like you?", asked Mackenzie.
"You don't even know me.", said Cassandra. "But since then all you've done is is throw stupid wise cracks and compare me to Kermit the frog. What gives?"
"It's a normal reaction I have to shiney happy people.", said Mackenzie. "It's like when I see Kathy Lee Gifford and Barney the Dinosaur. Perkiness makes me want to grab my dad's shotgun."
"Who said I was perky?", said Cassandra.
"You didn't have to say it. It's all over you like body odor.", said Mackenzie.
Cassandra just couldn't take it anymore and she got ready to hit Mackenzie until Kincaid and Adam came in to break it up before it started.
"Well, it seems we have some kinks to work out.", said Kincaid.
"That's one way to put it.", said Cassandra.
"Well.", said Kincaid. "I have an idea. We are about to get ready to land on Iocaste. I know someone there who owns a shootfighting rink there. Since you have so much...fighting spirit, what you may need is a good old fashioned shootfight to work out your troubles."
"A shootfight?", asked Adam. "What's that?"
"Shootfights are no holds barred anything goes gutterfights.", Kincaid said. "Anything goes in those. Martial Arts, streetfighting, weapons, you name it you can use it. All you have to do is beat your opponent and walk out.", said Kincaid.
"Aren't those dangerous?", asked Mackenzie.
"And a little extreme?", asked Cassandra.
"Maybe.", said Kincaid. "But you'll respect each other in the morning...I hope."
Kincaid turned to leave and then turned back around. "Oh and one more thing my friend will insist that you fight morphed."
"WHAT?", Cassandra and Mackenzie said in unison.
"He needs to bring in the paying customers so he's needs to put on shows. And two female rangers fighting is quite the show. Besides, shootfights are anything goes. And when using your ranger powers anything will go." Kincaid then turned to head back to the bridge.
"But what about Crucible?", asked Adam.
"Iocaste is out of his empire.", Kincaid said. "Besides he doesn't like sewer planets."
Kincaid then walked back to the bridge leaving a stunned Cassandra, Adam and Mackenzie behind.
As Defiance landed at a run down spaceport Kincaid asked Justin to stay on board. "This is the place your parents warned you about if they said 'don't walk anyplace where people can grab you.", said Kincaid. Justin didn't want to stay behind but he agreed reluctantly to stay.
Kincaid also brought out a brown fedora and put it on his head. "To make me look inconspicuous.", he told the rest of the team. Mackenzie stayed in her black leather jacket and t-shirt with jeans. Cassandra put on a blue jean jacket and a green fedora. Adam put on a black and green flannel shirt. "You're going to stand out.", said Kincaid but Adam didn't care. When they were dressed for the rough and tumble environment they stepped out of Defiance and walked into the urban environment of Iocaste.
As the rangers walked into the neighborhood they found the place to be nothing more than a slum. There were dirty run down buildings, spray painted walls that served as territory markers, trash was everywhere, vehicles were overturned or barely serviceable, and more people were dressed in rags more than anything. From one who lived in the clean beautiful city of Angel Grove, this was a complete opposite of it. There was no luster, there was no light. It seemed like a city of the defeated.
"This used to be a popular planet once.", said Kincaid. "The highlight of the universe. Most everyone wanted to come here to be part of it's splendor."
"What happened to it?", asked Adam.
"It lost that splendor.", said Kincaid. "People moved out and the lower classes moved in as they bought places here dirt cheap. The whole planet devolved into a slum as the wealthy patrons decided to find a planet with 'new' luster leaving the undesireables behind."
"If there is anyplace that needs a ranger, this is it.", said Cassandra.
"Do you want to volunteer?", asked Mackenzie snidely. Cassandra glared at her. "Save it for the ring.", said Kincaid.
Just then a street gang came up and drew out their knives as they demanded the teens money and valubles. "I don't think so.", said Kincaid. "We're all in a pretty bad mood and we just don't feel like handing over our money."
Then the gang leader attacked and Kincaid blocked the knife in his hand and threw a side kick to the stomach. The other gang members moved in and Mackenzie, Cassandra and Adam as they dropped into fighting stances. Then they too began fighting.
Mackenzie went blasting into one of the gang with a series of kicks and jumped to another doing the same. She also threw a few punches where she could get them in(some where the sun didn't shine) as she moved from gang member to gang member with her hit and run attacks. She knew the gutter and how to fight in it.
Adam started to treat the fight like a putty or tenga attack which was a mistake on his part. The gang was a lot more vicious and brutal in their attack, and even though Adam got a few good shots in he felt overwhelmed until Cassandra came in to even the odds a little. She too knew Martial Arts moves but caught on quick as to the level of ruthlessness that the gang used.
Kincaid went all out in his fight always going for the quick end so he went for moves that would disable quickly. Some were low blows, but others were not even though they hurt like they could. He gave shots to the forehead, the knee cap where he gave sweeps, almost anywhere there was a pressure point to exploit. Kincaid knew where to strike and how, with surgical precision.
When the gang had enough they all turned away and ran back down the alley. Cassandra went over to Adam to see if he was all right. Adam was a little bruised but okay. Cassandra then turned over to see how Mackenzie looked. She looked okay and found that Mackenzie was looking at her the same way.
'She must be a good fighter' each one thought of the other as they walked down the street to the bar that Kincaid said they were going to.
"This is the place!" said Kincaid as they walked in. It was noisy and had a smoke flavor in the air. They noticed a bar on the side and a ring in the center of the bar surrounded by an iron cage. Hanging from the cage was an assortment of weapons ranging from folding chairs to billy clubs to kendo sticks to almost anything.
Mackenzie and Cassandra especially took notice of the structure. 'We're going to fight in that?' the other thought. Then they both followed Kincaid and Adam over to the bar. Kincaid looked like he was talking to the bartender...a dark skinned human who looked like a teenager himself.
"Hey Bruce.", said Kincaid as he shook hands with the teen. "What happened to Leroy?"
"Leroy died three months ago.", said the teen behind the bar named Bruce. "But what's up with you? I ain't seen you around these parts for a while."
"I've been...away for a while.", said Kincaid. "Oh these are my traveling companions." he said making reference to Mackenzie, Adam, and Cassandra.
"Adam Park", said Adam as he went to shake his hand which Bruce took with a firm handshake.
"Mackenzie Dekalb", said Mackenzie who went to shake Bruce's hand then pulled back the hand as she brushed it against her hair. "Quite the spitfire ain't she?" Bruce said as he made reference of Mackenzie to Kincaid.
Cassandra came up next and offered her hand "Cassandra Jensen", she said as Bruce took her hand and kissed it in a gentlemanly like manner. "You're still an old smoothy.", said Kincaid.
"So how do you know Kincaid here?", Cassandra asked.
"My dad taught him how to shootfight.", said Bruce. "This freckled face kid walks into town looking for a place to stay for a while so my dad took him in for a bit. Dad taught him how the shootfights work, what techniques to use the whole nine yards."
"What are you doing here?", asked Adam. "Aren't you from Earth?"
"Yeah dad and me were originally from Earth.", said Bruce. "I grew up in a small Ohio town called Port Clinton just off Lake Erie. Jeff came into town one day trying to find a place to sleep. He'd lived there before apparently since he really knew his way around."
"We'd sometimes sneak onto the ferry boats to head out to the islands.", said Kincaid. "We'd take girls we were trying to impress out to Put-in-Bay for walks under the moonlight."
"Islands?", asked Mackenzie.
"Yes, Ohio has islands.", said Kincaid. "You didn't think islands only existed in the tropics did you." Mackenzie blushed in embarrassment. Cassandra had a little smirk watching Mackenzie blush. "But what are you doing here?, on Iocaste", asked Cassandra.
"Would you believe dad and me were abducted by aliens who were heading for Kansas and made a wrong turn?", said Bruce. "We were dumped here later."
"I came along a few months later. Visited off and on over the years.", said Kincaid. "Leroy found a place to open up a bar and fight ring which the neighborhood loved."
"Dad thought the ring was a great place to settle disputes.", said Bruce. "We were shocked when Jeff came through the door the first time he was here. We wondered how he got here. He wouldn't say how though just that it was a long story."
"He's called Kincaid now.", said Mackenzie. "He doesn't answer to Jeff anymore."
Bruce took that information in and wondered what made his old friend do that. As he looked in the eyes of his old friend he saw that they were more haunted than before when he met Jeffrey Kincaid. "Another long story?", asked Bruce. Kincaid nodded.
"Well then...Kincaid what brings you to this armpit of the galaxy?", Bruce asked.
"I've got two girls who have some differences to work out.", Kincaid said making reference to Cassandra and Mackenzie. "Is the ring available tonight?"
"I don't know.", said Bruce. "Korzan the ape man has a problem with his brother in law that might be settled tonight, unless you have something better."
"How about two Power Rangers going at it? No holds barred?".
Bruce thought about the idea for a second and said, "You got it."
Kincaid then went into the back office where Bruce was sitting. Kincaid poured himself a drink from what looked like an old milk carton. "You're still serving drinks out of this thing?", he said.
"Hey, dad always cleaned it before he filled it, and so do I.", said Bruce.
"Isn't using the same paper carton a little unsanitary?", asked Kincaid.
"Like you haven't done the same.", said Bruce.
Kincaid paused before he spoke again. "I offered to take both you and Leroy back to Earth you know. You didn't have to stay here."
"I know.", said Bruce. "But dad thought he could make a difference here. Besides, I think he was getting tired of small towns anyway. Coming here made him feel like he was moving on up."
"To outer space?", said Kincaid.
"What else is higher than a penthouse on Earth?", said Bruce as he and Kincaid laughed. Then Kincaid got serious, "Crucible's returned."
Bruce was shocked, "I thought you killed that dude."
"No such luck.", said Kincaid. "He's back and he's conquered Earth."
"You gonna need some back up?", asked Bruce.
"Maybe.", said Kincaid. "Will you be ready?"
"Just say the word. You know I'll be there.", said Bruce. "Anything else?"
"Yeah, do you still have that book on how to pick superhero nicknames?" Kincaid asked.
"That and something else if you're interested.", said Bruce with a smile. "We've still got that stage set up."
"It's been a while.", said Kincaid. "But okay."
The two old friends walked out of the office. Bruce's voice echoed in the hall as he said, "Have you got anything in mind?"
Mackenzie sat in a locker room getting ready for her fight. She had a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, as well as a real mean streak when it came to fighting. She also had the white Astro Power coin which was created by the Morphin Masters to be the most powerful coin created. But still, she was nervous even if she wouldn't show it.
In the fight with the gang Mackenzie caught sight of Cassandra fighting a few times. Mackenzie knew Cassandra was no slouch. She also wasn't sure what powers she had as a ranger. But she read some of the stories about the Emerald Ranger and the Ninja powers and realized they were not to be trifled with.
But then, none of the ranger powers were.
"Well it's time", she said. "LET'S ROCKET!!!" Mackenzie pushed in the 3-3-5 code on her morpher and transformed into the white Astro Ranger. Then she headed out to the fight rink."
In a separate locker room Cassandra Jensen was also having the same doubts Mackenzie had. Like Mackenzie, she too had seen her opponent fight. Cassandra saw that Mackenzie had not only a mean streak, but a cleverness to her as well. She may have been a small fighter but she was also a smart fighter.
Cassandra pulled out the Emerald Crystal, created by the wizard Tehelm. She prayed to her spirit guide Serena to give her strength.
Do not fear my child., said a voice in Cassandra's mind. The desired outcome in this struggle shall be obtained..
Cassandra then brought up the crystal and held it out in front of her. "Emerald Ninja Ranger Power Now!!", she said and transformed into the green Emerald Ranger. And like Mackenzie headed out to the fight rink.
"Ladies and Gentlebeings!!!", said Bruce who was in the ring announcing the fight. "Tonight we have a treat for you. Tonight you will see the rumble of the Morphin Grid."
Kincaid was sitting at a table near the ring with Adam who was reading a book of super hero nicknames trying to find the right one.
Bruce continued to make his announcement. "Tonight you will see two Power Rangers fight it out for your viewing pleasure." The announcement caused Adam to lift his head up. He looked at Kincaid and wondered if he knew what he was doing.
"Making her way down to the ring the White Astro Ranger!!!", announced Bruce as Mackenzie was walking down to the ring. When she reached the cage she looked at it and then walked in.
"And her opponent. The Emerald Ninja Ranger!!!", said Bruce as Cassandra was walking down to the ring. She too surveyed the cage before walking in.
"The rules are simple.", said Bruce. "The first one to walk out of the cage wins. And it is no holds barred rules. Anything goes." Bruce walked out of the cage and closed the door.
"Begin!", said Bruce as the fight officially started.
Cassandra and Mackenzie were sizing each other up waiting for the other to make the first move. Mackenzie grew tired of waiting and delivered a side kick which Cassandra blocked.
Cassandra then retaliated with a side kick of her own which Mackenzie dodged but then Cassandra followed through with a series of punches that sent Mackenzie driving back towards the cage wall. Knowing where she was being hearded to Mackenzie did a ranger flip over Cassandra and did a back kick that sent Cassandra face first into the steel fencing of the ring. The crowd went wild.
Cassandra then went into a series of flips towards Mackenzie ready to do a drop kick to her but just as she was about to make contact Cassandra dissapeared leaving only a green sash to strike Mackenzie. "Hello", said a voice from behind and delivered a spinning wheel kick to Mackenzie's feet knocking her off balance and down to the floor.
'So that's how you want to play it huh? I can do that thought Mackenzie as Cassandra was heading for the door. Mackenzie then did her own series of flips towards Cassandra to gain momentum for her own ranger trick.
"Repulsor kick!", said Mackenzie as she used a version of Masked Rider's Rider Kick against Cassandra. The impact sent her into the cage wall and back across the ring into the other cage wall and just as she was about to come towards Mackenzie the White Astro delivered an upper cut to the jaw that sent her sprawling to the ground.
Cassandra then turned to see Mackenzie heading for the cage door. She then teleported herself in a flash of emerald mist across the ring and appeared in front of Mackenzie. Cassandra then brought her hands together into a force push that sent Mackenzie flying back again.
Inside the crowd there were numerous murmurs among the audience. "Boy, there sure has been a lot of flying in the audience." "When are the Zords coming in?" "BORING!!!" "PLACE YER BETS!!!PLACE YER BETS!!!"
Kincaid and Adam watched the fight. Adam did not like Cassandra being beaten the way she was, even if it was by another ranger. He then turned to watch Kincaid, his expression was stern as he watched the fight.
"Why the hell did you arrange this?", Adam asked Kincaid. "What are you hoping to accomplish?"
Kincaid turned towards Adam. "I'm hoping that they accomplish a certain amount of respect for each other. Whether the fight ends in a win, lose, or draw."
"Can I ask who you hope will win?", said Adam. "You can.", said Kincaid. "But I wouldn't want to spoil it for you." Kincaid then turned his attention back to the fight.
Cassandra was then heading for the door when Mackenzie pulled out her blade blaster and shot the door as Cassandra was about to touch it. When Cassandra turned around Mackenzie lunged at her into a spear that sent her into a wall. Then Mackenzie ducked back and the two combatants entered into a series of punches and kicks hoping to wear each other out. Some were ground moves others were aerial moves. After a long and drug out fight with neither of them showing any signs of giving up Cassandra decided to try another Ninja trick.
"Double up!", said Cassandra as she split into two rangers. The said "Double up again and split into four rangers. She continued to split until there was a ring of Emerald Rangers surrounding Mackenzie ready to strike.
Mackenzie then brought herself into the prayer position and let the energy build within herself. When she had enough, she cut loose with "WHITE ASTRO SHOCKWAVE!!!" and let loose with a bundle of energy that not only threw back the Emerald Rangers surrounding her but the walls of the cage as well.
When the energy dissipated there was only one Emerald Ranger laying in the ring and the White Astro laying in the ring as well. Both had demorphed into their human forms as they struggled to get up. When they did they looked at each other and shared a look of respect. Cassandra then held out her hand. Mackenzie took it and they walked out of the ring together.
"Ladies and Gentlebeings!", said Bruce. "This match ends in a DRAW!!!"
Adam was happy and cheered Cassandra and Mackenzie. He then turned to see Kincaid and saw that he was smiling as well. Obviously a draw was the result he was hoping for.
Cassandra and Mackenzie sat in Bruce's office relaxing after the fight they had. He offered them a drink and they both took the milk carton which they shared.
"You fought pretty darn good!", said Cassandra.
"You were no slouch either.", said Mackenzie. "Sorry about the Kermit lines. I'm not that good with putting on friendly faces with people I don't know."
"Don't worry about it.", said Cassandra. "I had to earn your respect didn't I?"
"There's no such thing as automatic respect with me.", said Mackenzie. "It has to be earned."
"Even with Kincaid?", asked Cassandra.
"Yeah.", said Mackenzie. "Even with Kincaid." She then took a swig from the carton when she noticed something on it. Mackenzie took a look at the carton and couldn't believe what she saw.
"Cassandra take a look at this.", she said as she showed Cassandra the picture on the carton and read the inscription.
Missing since June 6th 1994.
If anyone has seen him contact Franklin County Children's services. at the number below.
Both girls shared a look of surprise. For Mackenzie, it was proof of who Kincaid's "friend" was. For Cassandra, it gave her a clue on who Kincaid was.
Cassandra and Mackenzie came out to the table where Adam was sitting. Adam congratulated on them on how the fight ended. The girls asked where Kincaid was. Adam said that he didn't know that he just got up and left. Then Bruce came up on the stage before them.
"Now ladies and gentlegeings we have a treat for you.", said Bruce. "Tonight we've got a singer who will sing some songs from Earth that will fill your soul. Singing 'Running through the fire' is Jeff Kincaid!!!."
Adam and the girls couldn't believe their eyes when they saw Kincaid coming out onto the stage and the band started playing. They were wowed even more when he started singing.
trouble hangin round my neck like a ball and chain.
gotta be more to this than being alive
everyday spittin out nine to five.
every night rolling all over this town feeling no pain.
I got a hunger and a cold desire, someday it's gonna take me higher, just another small flame just running through the fire.
Just another small flame that's running through the fire.
Running through the fire...baby it's gonna get hot.
running through the fire...ready or not.
running through the fire...any way you turn.
running through the fire...baby you're gonna get burned.
The audience were getting into the performance and Adam and the girls found that Kincaid wasn't too bad a singer. They found themselves getting into the performance as Kincaid was ready for his next verse.
I got a soul full of struggle and I need a little mercy tonight.
This world's asking a little too much honey I need a lovin tender touch.
Just move your body close to mine make everything allright.
I got a hunger and a cold desire, some day it's gonna take me higher just another small flame running through the fire.
Just another small flame that's running through the fire
Running through the fire...baby it's gonna get hot.
Running through the fire...ready or not.
Running through the fire...any way you turn.
Running through the fire baby you're gonna get burned.
The audience got into the band and singing more and Kincaid sang the refrain at least two more times before the band ended the song. A standing ovation erupted from the crowd as the audience cheered. Adam, Cassandra, and Mackenzie were also cheering.
But in the back of their minds they also wondered what other surprise awaited from Jeffrey Michael Kincaid.