"Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells! Jingle all the way!"
I stuffed the pillow over my head trying desperately to drown out the singing.
"Oh what fun it is to ride on a one horse open sleigh Hey!"
I pushed it harder against my head.
"Come on Nikki, we're going Christmas shopping."
It was Ashley singing in my ear and trying to get me up.
I let an unintelligible groan and picked up my pillow threatening her with it.
"You are such a grinch! Come one, it's already 7:30. We let you sleep in."
I threw the pillow at her full force and crawled deeper beneath my blankets.
"Alright 5 more minutes. Then you have to get up."
She tossed the pillow onto my bed and walked out of the room.
I groped around for the pillow and finding it, stuffed it under my head and fell asleep.
"Is she up yet?" Andros asked as Ashley entered their small cafeteria.
"No. I told her 5 more minutes." Ashley replied and slid into a chair across from Andros.
Andros nodded and went back to the control panel in his lap.
T.J. and Cassie entered then, joking and laughing.
"Good morning guys!" Cassie greeted walking over to the synthetron and getting some breakfast.
T.J. sat down at the table and leaned over to watch Andros fiddle with the panel.
Cassie sat down a moment later with a plate full of scrambled eggs.
"Where's Nik?" Cassie asked reaching for the catsup in the middles of the table.
"Sleeping." Ashley and Andros said in unison.
"Still? I thought we're picking Justin up at 8:00 so we could get to the mall early." T.J. spoke his eyes never leaving the control panel on Andros lap.
Andros noticed and started laughing. "You really want to work on this don't you?"
Andros handed the panel over and went to get breakfast. Carlos walked in yawning then, still in a pair of sweat pants and T-shirt.
"Morning Carlos." Ashley said cheerfully.
"How can you people get up so early and still be happy?" Carlos mumbled beneath the dark black hair that had fallen into his face.
"Don't worry. You're not the only one on this ship that isn't a morning person. Speaking of which, I better go get Nik up before it gets any later." Ashley stood up and exited the room.
I heard Ashley coming and pulled the pillow from under my head, ready. She opened the door and got a pillow flung at her once more.
" Come on Nicole! We have to go shopping. There's only one more week until Christmas!" She flung the pillow on me and sat down next to me.
I pulled myself up and looked at her blankly. I opened my mouth to say something and a ferocious yawn escaped.
"What time did you get home last night? I didn't even here you come in." Ashley asked. I avoided her eyes.
"Come on Nikki. How late were you out last night?"
"1:30." I answered not looking at her.
"1:30! No wonder you're tired! You were supposed to be home by 11:00!"
"I'm sorry! We were talking and we lost track time, Honest!"
"Does Mike know you were out until 1:30?"
"Yes. That's part of the reason I didn't get home until 1:30. When Justin and I got to the house Mike was waiting in the front hallway. We got lectured for an hour."
"Good? No. Not really. Mike said he was going to talk to you today and tell you I'm grounded for a week after Christmas vacation."
"Well that was a wise decision on his part. And I respect it fully. Maybe we should talk to Zordon and see if he want's to add another week on it."
"On come on Ash! I promise I won't do it again. Please don't tell Zordon."
"He's going to find out anyway. What are we supposed to say after Christmas when you can't leave the ship?"
"I don't know. Lie!"
"Lie to Zordon? Oh that'll work out real well."
I crossed my arms across my chest. "Fine tell him."
"I'm going to."
Ashley stood up and left the room. I sighed and got out of bed and went into the bathroom to take a shower.
"Zordon? Can I talk to you for a sec?" Ashley entered the Bridge and walked over to Zordon.
"Of course Ashley. What about?" He answered.
"Nikki went out last night and didn't get back until 1:30. Mike said she's grounded for a week but I don't think that'll do it. She's just going to do it again. You know that."
"Nicole talked to me when she go back last night. She apologized for staying out so late and promised she wouldn't stay out that late with out permission again. I agreed with Mike about being grounded for the week." Ashley face reddened to the roots of her hair.
"Why didn't she tell me that Zordon?"
"I don't know. She's probably trying to get you into trouble by the looks of it."
"She wha..." Ashley's voice trailed off and she turned around and ran of the Bridge.
I stepped out of the bathroom and pulled the towel off my hair. As I was readjusting my overall's straps Ashley came flying into the room and tackled me to the floor.
"Wow! Ashley what's up?"
"I can't believe you did that! You made me look like an idiot in front of Zordon!" She screeched.
She didn't look very mad just embarrassed.
I burst out laughing.
"I didn't think you'd really go talk to Zordon!" I said in-between giggles. " You must have because you wouldn't have made up all that about Zordon not knowing!"
"Ok! Ok! I admit it. I wanted to get you back for..for...Oh well you didn't do anything."
"Well I am going to be doing something now. So watch your back." She rolled off me and helped me up.
"How are you feeling?" She asked reaching for my brush.
"Better. That is until you jumped on me."
" My ribs still hurts and all these scars are driving me crazy. The doctor said they'd fade away but not for awhile. They're all pink still and I look funny."
"You're all ready. Now go eat breakfast so we can go." I nodded and walked out of the room and down to the cafeteria. I went straight to the synthetron to get breakfast.
"Ok. Don't be giving me any eggs or pancakes, D.E.C.A., I just want a simple blueberry muffin." I
told our ship's computer. She thought I should eat more in the morning, but I just wasn't hungry. I was relieved when I opened the door to find a warm blueberry muffin.
I carried it over to the table and sat down next to Zhane.
"Hey Zhane!" I greeted cheerfully, clapping him on the back.
He wasn't prepared for it and almost went face first into his cereal.
"Why are you so chipper?" He growled. I shrugged and reached across the table for the butter.
I ate my muffin quickly and left the room. "What's the hurry now Nik?" Cassie called after me.
"I told Justin I'd be down at his house my 8:30." I shot back over my shoulder. I reached my room where Ashley was finishing up her hair. I reached for my communicator and morpher.
"Where you going?" She asked.
"Down to meet Justin." I replied strapping the communicator on my wrist.
"Already? Don't you want to wait for us?"
"Not really." She shook her head as I teleported out. I walked down the familiar walkway and stuck my key into the door. I opened the door and found Justin asleep on the couch watching cartoons. I went into the kitchen and found a note from Mike. 'Nikki and Justin,
Be back by 8:00 tonight. I'll be home at 7:00. Be good and don't waste your money at the mall.'
I laid the note back down. I wasn't sure how I felt about Mike being my adoptive dad. It was weird I guess. I never thought after my parents died that any one would love me enough to take me into their family. I was wrong. Now I have an adoptive brother, a.k.a. boyfriend, and a dad. It felt good.
I poured myself a glass of water and drank it while I was walking back into the family room.
I sat down on the couch but Justin's feet and reached for the TV controller. I switched through the channels finally stopping on an old Looney Toons carton.
It was one I'd seen a million and a half times.
Justin stirred and I glanced down at him. With the controller I stroked the bottom of his foot. He twitched and started talking.
"Stop, no. Please don't hurt me mister clown!" Justin was thrashing now and it was all I could do not to spit out the water in my mouth. I swallowed it quickly before it could escape and stroked his foot once more.
"Ahhhhhhh! Please don't! No, clown, No!"
I burst out laughing and Justin jolted awake. He looked at me with his eyes half closed for a second.
"What time is it Nik?" He mumbled.
"Almost 9:00. We're supposed to meet the others at the mall at 9:00, remember?"
"Oh! I totally forgot. I'll go get ready. Give me ten minutes."
I chuckled as he ran past me and up the stairs. I settled comfortably on the couch and watched cartoons while waiting for him. I heard him upstairs banging around for a few minutes and then he flew down the stairs.
"Ok....I'm.....ready....let's go." He said breathlessly.
"You might want to comb your hair down." I suggested coming over next to him and tried to smooth down his cowlick.
"Oh. I forgot. Hold on."
He escaped to the bathroom and returned with his hair matted down to his head. He grabbed his wallet off the coffee table and then reached for his coat.
"Ok. Now I'm ready." He promised. I reached for my jacket and pulled it on. We quickly tidied up the family room and walked out the door. I locked the door and stuffed the key into my pocket. I reached in my pocket and pulled my gloves out. I slipped my hands into them and then took Justin's outstretched hand.
Angel Grove was having a record-breaking winter. It usually didn't drop below 40 degrees in the winter season, but this year we'd already had a total of a foot of snow and freezing temperatures.
We walked quietly down the sidewalk, six blocks to the mall. I pulled my gloves off as we entered the mall and stuffed them back into my pockets.
Justin unzipped his coat and then took my hand again. We weaved through the crowded mall and found the 6 of them waiting in front of JC Penny's.
"Hey guys. We were beginning to worry." T.J. greeted.
"Justin was still sleeping when I got there. I had to wait until he got ready." I replied.
"Ok. We have until 5:00 or earlier if Astronema decides she want's to bug us today." Ashley said looking at her watch.
"Well let's get a move on it. We only have 8 days until Christmas to shop." Cassie said pulling Ashley away from the group.
"Wait a sec, Cassie. The sales can wait." Ashley reassured pulling away from Cassie's grip. Ashley turned back to the group. "Where are the rest of you going? And when do we meet for lunch?"
" T.J. and I are going to look for something for Nikki. We haven't found anything yet." Zhane explained.
He leaned over and placed his elbow on my head. "You're the perfect height for this, you know that?" He asked me.
I shoved his arm off and spoke, "Justin and I have to go find stuff for kids at school. We already got all your stuff."
"And Carlos and I are going to shop for all the girls. You're hard to shop for so we saved you for last." Replied Andros.
"Ok. Cool. Let's go shop and get this over with so we don't have to come down to the mall on Christmas Eve like last year. That was a disaster." Ashley called over her shoulder as she and Cassie walked away. That left, Zhane still trying to rest on top of my head, Carlos, Andros, T.J., Justin and I. I swatted Zhane's arm away again and stood out of reach.
"Ok. Let's get going." T.J. ordered pulling Zhane away. Andros and Carlos turned and left too. Justin and I looked around deciding what store to go to first.
"How about Hallmark?" I suggested.
"Ok. Maybe I can find something for Dad." Justin replied walking in that direction.
"Is that all you have left?"
"Yeah. I don't buy gifts for boys at school. I'd probably get beaten up."
"Well then you can help me find something for Danee` and Emily."
"Those two? No way. You're on your own. If they found out that I helped pick it out they'd probably think I liked them or something." Justin visibly shuttered.
"No they won't. Emily likes Kyle and Danne` likes that new Charles kid."
"Ok. Fine. But don't even let them know that I went with you to go shopping. I'll never hear the end of it." I smiled and pulled him into the store.
We walked up down the aisles looking for something suitable for a gift. Emily liked music and Danee` liked books.
I found a picture frame that had Best Friends written along the edge of it. It was a really nice frame. But I didn't know them well enough for something like that. I moved on down the aisle Justin trailing behind me.
I stopped suddenly and Justin ran into me.
I turned around to face him, "I should get Emily a Teddy Bear. She collects them. Yeah! I'll buy a bear." I hurried out of the store with Justin in tow behind me.
He grabbed my arm. "Slow down Nik. I don't think they'll be bought out by the time we get there. Take your time."
"Sorry. A jolt of sugar through the system I guess."
We walked, slowly this time, down to this new store they had just put up called, 'Cuddles'. It was a store full of stuffed animals. Every kind of animal you could think of.
We must have been in that store for an hour. I just couldn't decide between these two adorable bears. Justin was close to asleep in the lap of a MASSIVE gorilla. The thing must have been 4 feet wide and five feet tall.
I finally decided on the softer one and pulled Justin out of the gorilla so we could go. We went to the bookstore next and I found a poetry book for Danee`. Justin still couldn't find anything for Mike.
We entered a departments tore and went over to the men's section.
"I haven't got anything for Mike yet either. Let's split it." I suggested.
"Good idea. What do we get him though?"
Justin sighed and turned around to see if there was anything of interest in site.
"Justin, you know him better then I do. What did you give him other Christmas's before this?"
"Well I was in the orphanage so I always sent him this card I made and a picture of me so he wouldn't forget what I looked like. I haven't bought anything for him since I was like 5. Yeah, my 5th Christmas was the last one with my mom. She died two weeks later, I remember that year we went shopping together for something to get for dad and I bought this big White T-shirt and had a picture put on it. It was me, my mom and my dad. He wore it all the time. He loved it. So did my mom."
Hinted tears in his eyes were brushed away and he took my hand.
"Let's do that again. We can have a picture of us on it." He suggested.
"That's a cool idea. Let's go get the sweat shirt." I replied.
We bought the White sweatshirt and walked down to the food court.
T.J. and Zhane were sitting at a table going through their bags. They saw us coming and quickly stuffed the bags under the table.
"My present I assume." I said dryly sitting down next to Zhane.
"Oh right. I'm going to tell you." He answered.
"So what did you guy get?" T.J. asked us.
"I got Emily a stuffed bear, and Danee` a poetry book." I answered eagerly.
"Those two cackling girls from your school? They talk too much. What a head ache I get when I ever see those two." Zhane said rubbing his temples.
I hit him playfully.
"Stop making fun of my friends." I ordered. T.J. laughed. "So Justin what did you get?" He asked.
"Nikki and I split a gift for dad. It's a white sweat shirt and we're going to get a picture of us put on it." Justin explained pointing to me.
"That's cool. I'm sure he'll love it." T.J. nodded.
"So what did you guys get?" I asked sweetly.
"None of your concern ragamuffin." Zhane replied flatly.
Ragamuffin. Great, a new nickname. As if I didn't have enough of those. Andros and Carlos plopped down in chairs then and I looked curiously at their bags.
Andros saw me and stuffed the bags under the table with the others.
I frowned and leaned back in my chair.
I listened as the boys talked about the latest basketball game on TV. The girls came through the crowd then and huffing and puffing sat down in chairs. In their hands they had twice as many as we had all together!
"Hope you didn't buy out the store girls." Andros mocked.
"Don't worry there's still a few things left." Ashley reassured.
"I'm surprised." T.J. mumbled. Cassie smacked him upside the head.
"Why don't you guys go get some food and I'll watch these priceless bags." I volunteered waving them away.
"The day I leave you with present's that are YOURS, it'll be raining blood outside out-side." Andros said scornfully.
"Ahh, come on. I promise I won't look. The only reason I want to stay here is because my feet hurt soooo much! Justin dragged me all over the mall!" I whined.
"That'll be the day." Justin shot back.
"Come on Nik. You and me will get the food." Zhane pulled me out of the chair.
He led me into the line and immediately placed his elbow on my head. I sighed.
Once we reached the counter Zhane took his elbow of my head and ordered two large pizzas.
"That'll be about 10 minutes." The server said. Zhane nodded and paid for it.
We picked up sodas and carried them back to the table. I sat down and reached into my pocket for my wallet. Pulling it out I opened it and took out a picture of Justin and I.
"Here Justin. This is my favorite one of us." I handed it to him and he nodded.
"I like this one the best too." He agreed. It was one taken only a week after we'd met at the park.
The rest of the day went by quickly. We ate lunch shopped a little longer and then saw a movie. I stayed home until 10 or so and then went up to the ship.
I found all six of them in the lounge wrapping presents and watching some old black and white movie.
"How can you guys watch this?" I asked sitting down on the couch.
"I always watch this every year right before Christmas. This year I'm making every one watch it with me." Ashley said smiling.
"What is it?" I asked staring at the screen.
" 'It's a Wonderful Life'" Ashley answered.
"Oh. My parents use to watch this every Christmas Eve. I used to sit on the stairs watching them on the couch. They were so happy just to be together. They didn't know their life would end a month later." I replied quietly.
My eyes came alive with tears and I tried to brush them away before any one noticed.
"It's ok to cry Nikki." Ashley told me quietly. She sat down on the couch beside me and wrapped her arms around me.
I was soon surrounded by six teens hugging me.
"Guys! I can't breathe." They laughed and got off me.
I went to bed a few minutes later after they told me they couldn't wrap my presents with me here. Trust me, I would have stayed but I just didn't feel like it for some reason. I trailed down to my room and got in bed with my flight-suit still on.
"Ecliptor!" Astronema's voice rang through the Dark Fortress. Ecliptor entered the throne room and stood in front of Astronema.
"Yes your majesty?" He asked.
"Have you found a monster capable of taking away the White Ranger's Powers yet?"
"Yes. I have."
"As you command." Ecliptor bowed slightly and exited the room. He returned a moment later, a monster following him that looked like...well...a satellite dish I guess.
"G'day mate!" The monster greeted, doing a little curtsey. Astronema raised an eyebrow.
"This my queen is Bob." Elcliptor quickly said before Astronema started getting really mad.
"Bob? What kind of name is that?" Astronema scoffed.
Bob shrugged. "I come from Australia."
"Australia? Isn't that an earthly place?" Astronema asked narrowing her eyes at him.
"Yes. I use to be human. I was in a terrible accident, and was transformed into a cyborg. I became frustrated with the way I looked and left earth. I've lived on Mikaw ever since."
"Mikaw? I'm unfamiliar with that planet."
" It's the closest planet to the sun. It's so small that no one from earth can detect it. Let's just say it's really hot there." Astronema looked less amused by the second.
Ecliptor stepped and began speaking in a rush.
" Bob has the power to take the White Ranger's powers through his satellite and there the power can be turned evil for use of us. He has also volunteered to take Nikki's place by making a clone of her. That way the rangers won't be interfering with the Power transfer." Astronema was quiet for a second before speaking. " Sounds good. So you can take human form?"
"Yes'em. When would you like the little human captured?" Bob asked.
"Don't worry about that. I'll send Ecliptor and some quantrons to do that. You can just rest here on the Dark Fortress until next week. I've decided to make it worse for Nikki by taking her on their Christmas Eve holiday. She can spend her Christmas in a dungeon." Astronema smirked. Bob nodded and walked out of the throne room.
"Good job Ecliptor. I like him." Astronema congratulated on her way out of the room. Ecliptor sighed with relief and followed her out.
"A little to the left, Justin." I beckoned.
"This is the last time you get me to help you decorate anything!" Justin promised moving the garland slightly.
"Right there. Perfect!" I called and then walked over to him and handed him a tack. He tacked in above the door and climbed off the step-ladder.
"How much do we have left to decorate?" Justin whined.
"Where's your Christmas spirit Justin?" I teased.
"Nikki. We've been decorating for two hours. Let's go home!"
I shook my head. "Justin this is a big deal. It's our first Christmas dance at AGH. I volunteered us so we would have a chance to talk."
"Hello? We talk all the time Nikki! You just wanted to decorate so you could get back at me for the other day." Justin had a sly grin on his face.
" Ok. So maybe that's true. But putting a huge hairy ALIVE tarantula in my back pack is not funny." He laughed. "But you should have seen your face! You could probably hear that scream through the whole school!"
"You just wait Justin Timothy Stewart. I'll get you back. Watch your back."
"Oooooo. Now I'm scared." I whirled around to face him and he started laughing.
Before thinking I leapt on him and wrestled him to the ground.
"Why don't you think I could get you back?" I asked pinning him to the floor.
"Nikki get off!" He twisted and turned trying to get up.
"Not until you tell me why." I replied shaking my head.
I was caught off guard when the gym doors opened and Ashley, Andros, and the rest of the team entered.
Justin took the advantage and pulled away from me.
"Awww guys. I lost my prisoner." I accused glaring teasingly at Justin.
"You wouldn't have if you ever concentrated on one thing at a time!" Justin shot back. I swooped down to the ground and quickly swept my leg across the floor knocking Justin off his feet.
"Guys! Don't kill each other! Not before Christmas at least." Zhane added.
"Just let me get one good move in and then I'll drop it." Justin mumbled pulling himself up and dropping into a fighting stance. I pulled myself into one too, and immaturely stuck my tongue out at him. Andros came in-between us just as Justin looked ready to throw a kick.
"Not now guys. We have to go to your house for dinner remember?" Andros reminded.
"Oh yeah. Ok Nik. You're safe. For now." He narrowed his eyes at me and then burst out laughing. He draped his arm around my shoulder and led me out of the gym.
"What just happened here?" Zhane asked pointing to the two young teens walking out of the gym. The 5 other replied with shrugs and smiles.
We made it to our house just as Mike was pulling in the driveway. I carried my bag up to my room when I stayed here and took the dress out of it.
We had decided on a casual dinner. I smoothed the wrinkles out of it and slipped it on.
I wasn't a big dress person, but I wore them for special occasions. I pulled my hair back into a half up and then looked despairingly at the pair of stockings in hanging out of my backpack. I sighed loudly but sat down to put them on, hoping I didn't put a run in them.
I slipped my dress sandals on and headed downstairs. I found all of them, from Mike to Zhane sitting in the family room talking.
The boys looked uncomfortable in their dress pants and nice shirts. It looked like the girls got them to wear ties too. I got a few whistles as I entered the room and sat down by Justin on the small loveseat.
"Shut up." I mumbled, blushing. The girls looked wonderful in their pale yellow and pink dresses. I hope they wore something besides pink and yellow to the Christmas dance tomorrow night.
We talked until the timer rang in the kitchen and Mike excused himself to put dinner on the table. We made our way to the dining room and sat around the candle lit table. Everything looked perfect.
We had decided on a Christmas dinner tonight just in case Astronema wanted to bug us on the real holiday.
Mike said a quick grace and then passed the Turkey around. He'd made a special Caesar salad for him and I. The dinner went by pleasantly with talk about the dance the next night. We stayed until 11:30, then teleported back to the ship and went into the lounge to talk.
I settled into the couch first after getting my pj's on. I waited quietly staring at the picture across the room from us. It was all of us, except Justin and Karone. It was taken just a week after Justin and I found Zhane on KO-35. Zhane still looked confused with earth's ways but he still looked as cute as ever. I smiled at it. T.J. and Cassie came running in then giggling, both in a comfortable looking jogging suit. The plopped down on the couch next to me.
"What are you wearing tomorrow Nik?" Cassie asked.
"I don't know yet. I think I might skip school and go find something." I answered.
"Very funny. I actually have this really pretty dress that might fit you."
"It might. You can try it on before school tomorrow." Ashley and Zhane entered then and sat down on the floor in front of the couch.
"Hey guys. Why are we talking tonight anyway? It's like almost 12:00." Ashley asked yawning.
"I don't know. I think Andros wanted to talk about something." T.J. explained. Andros and Carlos walked in then laughing a bout something.
"I'm really tired. Say what you got to say and let's get some sleep." I told him. " I don't have to say anything. I thought T.J. wanted to tell us something." Andros replied.
"Not me." T.J. answered shaking his head. I threw my hands in the air.
"Guys! I could be sleeping right now!" I whined.
"Sorry Nik. Go on to bed. I'm not tired. I might turn on the TV." Andros apologized and then walked over to the TV.
"Goodnight." I mumbled. I walked down to my room and climbed into my bed falling asleep instantly.
" Has any one seen my white sandal?" I called walking through the corridor of the Mega Ship with only one shoe on. I passed the boys room where they were still getting ready. I stopped in the door.
"Have you seen my other sandal?" I asked again waving my foot in the air. Andros shook his head.
"Come on. Shoes just don't walk away!" I demanded. "They do when they have feet in them." Zhane added.
I glared at him and walked down to the cafeteria. Cassie was in there fiddling with her galaxy glider in the corner.
"Are you ready Cass?" I asked standing over her.
"Almost. I just wanted to fix this. Hey. Where's your shoe?" She questioned glancing at my foot. I sighed. "That what I'm looking for."
"Go check under your bed. I think I saw something white under there when I was doing you hair earlier."
I ran out of the cafeteria and down to my room to find Ashley still fixing her hair. I dropped down to the floor and groped around with my hand trying to find a shoe.
I felt it, "Yay! Finally." I sat up to quickly and thumped my head on the bed.
"Ow!" I sat on the floor rubbing my head with one hand and trying to put my shoe on with the other.
"You ok Nik?" Ashley asked sitting down on my bed.
"That dress looks really pretty on you." She commented. I stood up and smoothed the skirt down.
"Thanks. I really like it." It was Cassie's. It was a creamy white color, sleeveless with a long skirt. I had a sheer pale green shirt over it that was open in the front except for a single tie at the collar. I was probably going to be cold, but oh well. I'd live.
"Is it time to go?" I asked impatiently standing next to Ashley who was still staring in the mirror fixing her hair.
"Almost. You can go down to Justin's if you want. We'll pick you up there and we can walk the rest of the way."
I nodded in agreement.
I picked up my coat and slipped it on. I tucked the locket with the pictures of my parents safely under my dress and then reached down to my communicator.
"Are you sure you don't want any makeup on Nik?" Ashley asked.
"Positive." I answered and teleported out. I landed in the living room. I wandered into the kitchen to find Mike.
"Hey Nik." He greeted. I stood next to him watching as he loaded the dishes into the dishwasher.
"Wanna help?" He asked. I shook my head and smiled.
"Justin! Nikki's here." He called. I walked back into the hallway to watch Justin hurry down the stairs.
"Hey Nik. Are you ready to go?" He asked adjusting his tie. I nodded and helped him out. His black sports jacket looked perfect over his white shirt and black dress pants.
Mike walked into the family room and stood watching us as he wiped his hands on a dishtowel.
"Don't you think it's a little odd that you're going out? I mean. You are legally related now." Mike told us. He walked over and smoothed down his son's hair and then turned toward me.
"We're glad to have you in our family, Nikki. We really are." He leaned over and hugged me tightly.
As he let go I could see a single tear in his eye. He brushed it away quickly and smiled.
"Did Justin ever tell you, you alike a lot like Tammy?" He asked.
Tammy was the deceased Mrs. Stewart.
Justin blushed. A knock at the door brought us out of the uncomfortable silence.
"Come in." Mike called. The door opened and Andros walked in. "Come on guys. We're running late." Mike laid a kiss on my forehead and then ruffled Justin's hair.
"Be back my 11:30." He told us as we closed the door and walked down the walk to road where the others were waiting.
"It's freezing!" Ashley squealed pulling her coat tighter around her. Andros came and stood next to her wrapping his arm around her. "Better?" Ashley nodded shyly. We talked quietly on the way to the school.
The gym was crowded when we got there. We entered to find the music booming and everybody was either dancing or talking in groups.
Mrs. Daniels came up to Justin and I. "Good job decorating." She congratulated. I elbowed Justin. "Told ya." He grinned and pulled me onto the dance floor. Dancing was thing I just could not do.
"Justin. I can't dance." I whispered.
"Don't worry about it. Just follow me." So that's what I did. We danced for two hours and then finally sat down and talked. Talking was something we did best. We could talk about anything together. That why we got along so well. I walked back to the house hand in Justin's. I had to go up to the ship and he had to stay down. As he was going to enter the house he leaned forward and kissed me. He leaned back and entered house. I stood on the porch a second later speechless. I fumbled with my communicator and finally managed to teleport myself to the ship. I entered the bridge to find Ashley and Andros talking quietly.
"Hey guys." I mumbled.
"What's the matter Nik?" Ashley asked coming over next to me. I looked up her my face blank. I shook my head to clear it. "I'm fine." Ashley smiled. "Justin kissed you didn't he." I blushed and hung my head down.
I could hear Andros laugh. "Go Nikki." He called. I blushed harder and exited the room before they could see how red my face was.
"Nikki! You are needed on earth." D.E.C.A.' s voice rang into my room and bolted awake. I threw my flight-suit on and ran down to the bridge.
"What's going on Alpha?" I asked still pulling my jacket on.
" Eliptor has attacked earth with an army of quantrons." Alpha exclaimed.
"The other rangers went down to Saturn to pick up some samples of plants. They can't be reached. You'll have to do this on your own." Zordon dropped the bomb on me.
"Ay yi yi! Can you do it Nikki?" Alpha screeched.
"Yeah. I can do it." It didn't sound very promising.
"We will keep trying to contact the other rangers. May the Power protect you Nicole."
I nodded at Zordon and ran out off the bridge and down to our jump tubes. I held my star fire disc at hand as I landed on earth in the midst of the army of quantrons. People were running and screaming everywhere.
I took a deep breath and flung my disc at the quantrons. It set a display of sparks and five or so that the disc had hit blew up. I caught the disc and hooked it to my belt. Another batch of quantrons came at me and flipped quickly over them. They turned around confused.
"Idiots." I mumbled. I kept backing up until I hit something hard and very unwelcoming. My heart jumped into my throat as I turned around.
"G' day mate!" The monster greeted. I raised my eyebrow as the monster caught me off guard. Two quantrons grabbed me from behind and forced me to the ground.
"Let me up!" I screamed. I struggled trying to reach for my disc. With luck I reached it and jabbed it into the quantron holding me. I jumped up and pulled away from the other quantron. I needed to get out of here. That was too close of a call.
"Not so fast White ranger." That was Ecliptor grabbing my arm. My temper burst and I wrenched away from him. I bolted back five feet or so and pulled my disc out in front of me.
"I see you're getting smarter. And stronger." Ecliptor observed.
"Thanks to you!" I snarled throwing the disc at him.
He was ready for it and caught it. He looked at the disc in his hand and then at me. With one swift snap of the wrist he broke the disc in half.
I gasped and once again was taken off guard. Quantrons flew at me pushing me to the ground. I thumped my head hard on the pavement and no matter how much the swirling darkness that tried to close looked comforting I shook my head and tried to snap out of it. It left me dizzy and weak as they pulled me to my feet and stood me in front of Ecliptor.
"We have plans for you White Ranger." Was all he said as we disappeared. I landed still in the quantrons grip, unmorphed, in the Dark Fortress throne room.
"No! You can not do this to me today! It's Christmas Eve! Couldn't you wait until next week?" I asked tugging at the hunk of metal behind me.
"That why we did it. During your earthly holiday that means so much to every one." Astronema stood and walked over to me.
"I'm still very upset about this summer, Nikki." She growled.
"Go ahead. Be mad. I could honestly care less! You don't intimidate me Astronema don't try to." I shot back.
"Release her." Astronema uttered.
"Thanks." I mocked. She turned slightly staring off somewhere and then turned back quickly slapping with the back of her hand. I didn't flinch. I just stood staring at her. The pain wasn't going to bother me. I wouldn't let it.
"You are a brave little girl. Let's see what happens after you spend a few weeks in a nice dark dungeon." That did it. Being freed, I brought my leg up quickly and kicked her right in the ribs. You could hear the sick crack of the bones and she stumbled backwards. Ecliptor took over pulling the whip that hung mercilessly from his waist, out and lashing me across the back as I was still laughing at the fallen purple haired freak in front of me. As the whip broke through my back and I let out a scream and fell to the ground. I pulled myself back up slowly. I turned to face Ecliptor. I bit back my tears and morphed once again.
"Let's Rocket!" I cried. Standing at my 5'4" height I stood before Ecliptor who still stood a foot taller.
"You don't scare me either, Ecliptor."
"All in time my dear child." As I was still staring him down, his quick hand motions pulled my morpher off and I shrunk back down.
"A minor set back." I growled. He handed my morpher to Elgar. "Guard this with your pathetic life." He ordered. Elgar soluted. "Alrighty. Will do."
"With both of you in the room it's really hard to find a bigger idiot." I muttered with a smirk. Eliptor snarled and brought his arm down on the back of my head. As I fell once more he said, "Having a big mouth isn't always smart." I tried once more to get up but with his foot he shoved me back down. I bit my tongue as my head hit the ground and I could taste a large amount of blood in my mouth. I was not going to give up. I couldn't let this guy know how afraid I was. My head churned and spun as I lay still for a moment waiting for him to be caught off guard. I became oblivious to everything as two quantrons picked me up and I stood in front of Ecliptor once more.
I saw out of the corner of my eye, 2 quantrons picking up Astronema and carrying her to her quarters. The monster from the park stood in front of me.
" Hi. I'm Bob." He greeted waving at me. I groaned in pain and at the fact that this monster was a complete moron and was probably going to kill me.
" I'm going to take your powers for my own use. It'll only hurt for a moment." He said cheerfully. My powers? That jolted me back to full consciousness and began pulling at the two quantrons. Bob laughed uncontrollably. He brought a hand up and a ray shot out from it turning into a fortress around me.
I couldn't move. I stared in fear as he closed his eyes and seemed to concentrate on me. Another beam shot out from him and closed around me bringing me into such pain I can't describe.
I let out a shriek of pain and then it was over. The fortress fell and I collapsed in a heap. I fought consciousness and lost. My head spun and I fell into the black hole.
I don't know how long I was out but I stumbled awake and found myself in the same place that I fell. In front of me I saw two black boots, looking so close to my own that I jumped in spite my pain and followed my eyes up the body to find...me! I stared into 'my' eyes with bewilderment. I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out.
"Hi I'm Bob." 'I' spoke. Bob? No! This can't be happening.
"I'm taking your place for awhile so I can kill your friends. Cool huh?" He sounded just like me!
"You can't be me! No one will ever believe you're me!" I growled.
"You're a ditzy blond. How hard could it be?" He said with a smile. I jumped on 'myself' and wrestled 'me' to the ground. Some one pulled me off of 'me' and held me back, as 'I' stood up and dusted myself off.
"I have work to do." 'I' said and disappeared. I turned around to find Ecliptor once again. He smiled grimly and handed me over to Elgar.
" Take her down to the bottom deck. She'll love it down there." Elgar had a stupid grin on his face. "Alrighty!" He pulled me away from the throne room and down the dark staircase.
"No! Ecliptor don't do this! Please!" I pleaded with the beast.
"Don't worry. You'll be dead soon." Elgar said, and then realizing what he said laughed.
He locked a thick metal door after shoving me into a dark room. I screamed and beat on the door for awhile. I finally gave up. As I slid down to the floor my body on fire with pain, and tears running down my face, my mouth uttered quietly, "Merry Christmas to me."