Storm Front
Part Two
by Rachel D Dawson

Its Saturday afternoon, and in Angel Grove International Airport, a rather large welcoming committee is waiting at the gate of flight 545, from Philadelphia. One of them, Amanda Darling, is awaiting her two daughters Alexis and Denise, as well as her grandson Johnathan. The nine teenagers are also awaiting Alexis, who is their close friend and fellow Power Ranger. As the airplane pulls into the gate, they all rise to their feet and wait by the entrance itself. After only a few minutes, all three individuals enter the airport, with Denise carrying her son, and Alexis carrying a number of carry-ons. As soon as Alexis sees her friends and mother, her green eyes light up, and a wide smile crosses her face. She didn't get far before she was caught in a large embrace by Kimberly and Aisha.

"Welcome back, Girlfriend!!" Aisha exclaimed, "We missed you!"

"Right," said Kimberly, taking a bag from Alexis, "What's up?"

"Aw, same old, same old," Alexis said, glancing at her mother. Amanda was excitedly talking to Denise, and at the same time coddling her grandson.

As Kimberly and Aisha led Alexis into the crowd of friends, both Katherine and Jason lingered aways back. As Jason watched Alexis chat excitedly with her friends, he couldn't help but steal a glance towards Kat. Kat was wearing a friendly smile, but it was obviously plastered to her face. He didn't get a chance to think any more of the awkward situation, as Alexis ran up to him and embraced him warmly. He smiled as he returned the hug.

"Hey, Red," he greeted, "Long time no see."

"Too long," she answered.

"Here, let me take that." Jason reached over and took the duffle bag hanging from Alexis' shoulder. Then, Alexis slipped her hand into his, to return to the large crowd of friends and family. It was then that she noticed a stranger.

"Hi," Alexis said, bringing Jason with her as she approached Kat.

"Hello," Kat said politely. She then turned to Jason expectantly.

"Oh," Jason said, "uh, Katherine Hillard, this is Alexis Darling. Kat is a member of the Terran Power Rangers."

"Right," Alexis said, "I remember you mentioning her. Pleased to meet you, Katherine."

"Likewise," Kat answered, shaking the red-head's hand, "My friends call me Kat, by the way."

"And my friends call me Lex," Alexis said, still beaming with an excited smile. "So," said Amanda, "are you kids going to the Youth Center?"

"Actually," said Kimberly, "Jason, Aisha and I are going to help Lex unpack and stuff."

"Great!" said Alexis, "We can catch up on all that I've missed!"

Then Kimberly, Jason, Aisha, Alexis, Amanda, Denise, and Johnathan went towards the baggage claim after saying brief goodbyes. Jason waved weakly at Kat, who nodded in response. She then sighed lightly, and rejoined the remaining teens as they left the airport.

"Hey," said Adam, "you okay, Kat?"

"Oh, sure," said Kat, "I'm fine."

"What did you think of Lex?" asked Tommy.

"Well, based on a first impression, she reminds me alot of Kimberly," Kat said honestly. And just like Kimberly, she's got a solid relationship with a great guy. Why does this whole experience feel like deja vu?

As the group left the airport, they all glanced at the sky as a loud thunderclap sounded.

"Looks like a thunderstorm," said Rocky.

"That's odd," said Billy, frowning, "the forecast predicted clear skies."

"The forecast isn't a guarantee," said Kat.

"Still, its odd. The sky was blue only minutes ago."

* * *

Meanwhile, Rita laughs deeply, gripping tightly to her Repulsascope to prevent her from falling backwards. In her other hand she holds a clear crystal orb, about the size of a tennis ball. She laughs so hard that she doesn't notice when her husband, Lord Zedd, steps into the throne room. He stretches his arms, and yawns.

"Ahh! That regenerative sleep sure hit the spot!" he declared, "Now I'm ready to do some major evil!"

He turned to his wife, who was trying to compose herself. He glared at her.

"So," he said, approaching her, "what have you been up to?"

She smiled at him. "Well, for starters, I found out that you created a Purple Ranger!"

Zedd snarled. "Everyone makes mistakes. Besides, at least the ranger I helped create didn't go on to become the most powerful, dedicated ranger on the team! Also, I didn't give the coin to the human. She had it to begin with."

"Whatever," she said, waving away the argument, "Anyway, that Purple Ranger is back in action in Angel Grove. If you had any brains, you would have taken care of her while she was separated from the team!"

"I had bigger fish to fry," he retorted, "And besides, she could have summoned aid from the remainder of the team."

"Fine. So, I decided to come up with a plan, and so I checked out those old wedding presents we never bothered with--"

"And?" Zedd snapped impatiently.

"--and, I found this!" she announced, holding up the crystal.

"What is it?" Zedd inquired.

"Its a Weather Warp," she explained with a smile, "They are magical creations of the Kenshin, a race of beings my father conquered during his spread across the M51 Galaxy."

"What does it do?"

"Zedd, its called a 'Weather Warp'. Therefore, it warps weather patterns. Duh!"

"Cheap parlor tricks," Zedd scoffed, "Count on Mastervile to give a useless present!"

"Don't talk about my father that way!" Rita snapped, turning away from Zedd, "Its already creating a massive storm front in Angel Grove. Weather is one of the most destructive forces in the galaxy! Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards... they kill hundreds of people every year!"

"So, what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to plant this crystal in Angel Grove, so it can have the greatest effect. They, I'll program it to bury Angel Grove in a blizzard! Considering it never snows in southern California, that weather disaster will be the most unexpected of them all!"

Rita began to laugh triumphantly, and Zedd shook his head. "I don't think it's going to work, Rita."

Rita glared at her husband. "Don't be such a stick in the mud!" she croaked, turning on her heel. She then vanished from the Moon Palace in a bright display of energy.

* * *

Inside the Darling's house, Alexis busily organizes the cardboard boxes that littered her room, with the aid of her friends Jason, Kim, and Aisha. Jason and Alexis were busy unpacking her clothing, while Kim and Aisha continue to carry boxes from downstairs.

"So," said Jason, opening a box with a pair of scissors, "what has the Purple Ranger been up to all this time?"

Alexis chuckled, putting some folded sweaters into her drawers. "Not much, really. With midterms right before the break in the marking period, I haven't had much time for patrolling. Not that its all that much fun anyway. The crime rate in University City dropped about 44% since I first showed up about a year ago. I guess they figured that crime doesn't pay-- so long as the Purple Ranger is around to catch them."

"How is the solo fighting life?" Jason inquired, "It must be tougher than working as a team. Also, we know exactly who we fight. We don't go on patrol-- Rita and Zedd make the first move."

"Its really very different," Alexis admitted, "Actually, I picked up alot from Spiderman. The adventure with the Lizard last year really honed my detective skills."

"I guess that makes you a purple Batgirl?" Jason asked with a grin. She rolled her eyes.

"I wouldn't say that. So, how've you been? How's the Terran Ranger experience?"

Jason nodded, and grinned, "I love it," he said, "I didn't realize how much I missed being a Power Ranger until Zordon made me the Black Terran Ranger. Its a feeling that... just can't be described. It felt like a missing part of me was suddenly returned."

"I'm glad you got that chance," Alexis said, sitting beside him on her bed, "It was pretty obvious from our conversations over the Ranger-com that you weren't enjoying the Peace Conference as much as you expected. Its a worthy cause, but its not your style. You save the world in your own way... with your fists."

Jason laughed. "Yeah, I'm just addicted to the action. Discussing world peace seemed pretty boring in comparison. Especially considering nothing seemed to get done! I'm not patient enough to wait years and years for the slightest result. I like to see my accomplishments, so I'm sure I'm making a difference."

Alexis took Jason's hand and squeezed it gently. "I'm glad you're back, Jay."

She waited for a moment, expecting him to return to gesture. She was surprised when he moved away from her. He stood up, and rubbed the back of his neck.

"Uh... I'm kinda thirsty. I'm gonna get a soda. You want anything?"

"No thanks," she said, watching him leave. She blinked, still surprised by his nervous reaction. Just a few seconds later, Kimberly and Aisha entered the bedroom. Both of them glanced back out into the hallway, and set the boxes they were carrying on the plush carpet.

"What's with Jason?" Kimberly asked, an amused grin on her face, "He looks like he's seen a ghost."

Alexis frowned. "I don't know what happened," she sighed, "He was fine and everything, but then I took his hand, and he freaked out!"

Kim's eyes widened. "You're kidding." Alexis' silence was answer enough.

"Maybe he's not comfortable with intimacy?" Aisha suggested. Alexis huffed.

"I wouldn't exactly call holding hands _intimate_ Aisha."

"What else happened?" Kim asked, sitting beside her friend.

"Well, we were just talking about rangering, and I took his hand, and told him I'm glad he came back to Angel Grove. You know, so we can be together again. But, he didn't say anything."

"He didn't say anything?" Aisha repeated.

"Nothing. He just sat there. I figured he'd say something along the lines of 'I'm glad you're back, too'. But not a word came from his lips. Then, he got up, asked me if I wanted a soda, and ran outta here."

"Well you two did kinda leave your relationship up in the air," reminded Kimberly, "You weren't officially dating before you moved, but there was something there between you. Maybe its hard to pick up from where you left off?"

"I guess," Alexis sighed, sitting forward and clasping her hands together tightly, "We kept in touch pretty well, though, and I realy thought something was blossoming. But when he moved back to the US, we kinda lost touch. Could he have changed so much in three months?"

"Jason is one to ease into a relationship," Kim offered, "Trust me on this one, I've know him almost all my life. He obviously likes you. That's why he gets so tongue-tied around you. He's alot shier than you'd expect."

Meanwhile, just downstairs, Jason leans against the kitchen sink, taking a long sip of water. He breathes deeply, and runs his hands through his short black hair. He then pinches the bridge of his nose, and squeezes his eyes shut.

What just happened there? She only touched my hand, and I panicked! What was THAT all about?! Its not like we haven't held hands before. But I just felt so... guilty. Could this all be because of Katherine?!

Jason sighed, and took a seat at the kitchen table. He stared at the glass in his hands, and then back at the table.

How did I get myself into this situation? Well, my plan didn't work. I honestly thought that all I had to do was spend a little time with Lex, and suddenly, all the emotions I felt for her a year ago would suddenly rekindle. Well, I was wrong. I mean, she's still a fantastic person, but I don't think I _love_ her. She'll always be a friend to me, but I don't know what I feel towards her. That's not fair to her. I... I gotta tell her...

Jason rose from the kitchen table, when he heard someone coming up from the basement. He turned to the basement door, and saw Denise walk up. She tucked a loose strand of strawberry-blonde hair behind her ear, and smiled when she saw Jason.

"Good idea," she said to him, moving to the refrigerador. She poured a glass of water, and sat down on the table across from Jason. He sat back down to join her.

"So," she said, "how's the unpacking coming along?"

"Slow but steady," he said with a polite grin, "How are you feeling, Denise?"

"I'm tired," she admitted, "and my mother told me to stop exerting myself. I guess she's right. I just don't like admitting it. So, how are you, Jason?"

"I'm fine."

Denise's eyebrow rose as she gazed at the young man. "Funny, you look a little troubled."

"Really?" Jason asked.

"Jason, I'm a trained prosecuter," she said with a wry smile, "I know the look of guilt when I see it. Is everything okay between you and my sister?"

"Everything's fine," he said, rising to his feet, "I'd better get going. See you, Denise."

She nodded, and watched him walk up the stairs. Jason knocked on Alexis' bedroom door, even though it was already open. He then stepped in, and saw Kim, Aisha, and Alexis all sitting on the bed, with Alexis in the middle.

"Uh, I'd better get going," he told them, "See you tomorrow?"

"Fine," said Alexis, a weak smile on her face, "Goodbye, Jason."

"Bye, Lex. Bye girls."

With that, he left the room, closing the door behind him. With a slight wave to Denise, he left the house, and strolled down the street, his hands in his pockets, and his face cast to the ground. Alexis watched him leave her family's property from her bedroom door, and turned back to her friends, a frown on her face.

"Well," she said, "what are we sitting around for? We've got unpacking to do!"

Although she tried her best to sound enthusiastic, it was obvious Alexis was upset. Kim and Aisha traded worried glances.

* * *

The next morning, Denise knocked on Alexis' bedroom door.

"Come in!" she called. Denise walked in, and saw her younger sister busily styling her shoulder-length red hair in a French braid. Denise walks up behind her, and pulls her to the vanity chair.

"Hey!" Alexis complained as Denise took apart the braid. Denise rolled her eyes, which Alexis could see through the mirror.

"Lex, you've never been very good a braiding. Let me do it for you."

Alexis sighed, and watched in the mirror as Denise brushed through the thick red mane.

"So," Denise said, parting Alexis' hair, "what are you and your friends doing today?"

"I don't know," Alexis sighed, "Kim told me yesterday it was a surprise, and to be ready at ten o'clock."

"Hm, sounds like fun," Denise said, carefully twisting the locks. She glanced at the mirror, and saw Alexis' face. Usually, Alexis would be beaming excitedly at the prospects of a surprise outing, but now, she was almost downcast. "What's up?"

Alexis sighed. "Nise, how do I know if Jason still cares about me?"

Denise's emerald eyes widened, and she stared at her sister through the mirror. "What?"

"Well, he was so... distracted yesterday, when we were unpacking. He didn't seem up to much conversation, he refused to touch me, and he seemed to run out of here as quickly as possible. Maybe I'm reading the signs wrong, but that isn't how a person usually expresses affection."

Denise smiled, and tugged on Alexis' hair. Alexis yelped, and frowned at her sister. Denise giggled.

"Did anyone ever tell you that you think too much?"

"Not really," Alexis responded, smiling.

"Look, Lex, you've been separated for a year. Don't you think he's a little bit disoriented? I mean, suddenly, his long distance relationship has become an up-close-and-personal one. And considering you weren't really a couple when you parted, don't you think that'll cause some anxiety?"

Alexis shrugged. "I suppose."

"Give him some time. He'll warm up to the idea of having a girlfriend nearby."

Alexis frowned. "That's another problem. I mean, maybe it'd be better for the both of us to just stick to being friends. I've already applied, and been accepted, to UPenn. I'm going to move back to Philly in September, and then we'll be apart again. I don't think its fair of me to start a relationship with him, and then leave again."

"Don't you think he has a say in the matter?" Denise asked, tying the end of the braid.

"That's true," Alexis admitted.

"And you love him, right?"


"So talk to him. Let him know how you feel, but don't be too confrontational about it. And ask him what he's feeling. Let him know that you care, and that how he acted last night hurt you. After all, he may not even realize it did."

Alexis nodded, and Denise lightly covered the braid with finishing spray. Then, Alexis put on her jewelry and communicator, when a horn beeped outside. Denise walked to the window, and opened the shade.

"My God!" she shrieked.

"What?" asked Alexis, "Is there a monster out there or something?"

"No, its snowing!"

"Huh?!" asked Alexis, running to the window. Sure enough, flurries were falling from an overcast sky. Alexis opened the window, and chilly winter wind stung her cheeks. She looked at her sister quizzically.

"I've never seen this kind of weather in Angel Grove," she said, "Its never colder than maybe fifty degrees. Its freezing out there!"

"Well, you only lived here for about a month total," Denise reminded her, "Maybe they do get a bit of snowfall once in a while. Put on a heavy jacket."

Alexis nodded, and went to her top drawer. After glancing at Denise, who was still gazing out the window, Alexis pulled out her Morpher, and attached it to her belt beneath her purple sweater. She then hurried to the coat closet, picked up her heavy jacket, and went out to meet her friends. In the driveway was Billy's old Rad Bug, with Billy and Zack in the front, and Jason in the back. Alexis sat down beside Jason, and let out a deep breath.

"Its colder here than it is in Philly!" she declared.

"Tell me about it," muttered Zack, "When I saw snow out my window, I could've sworn I was back in Geneva!"

"I haven't seen snow in Angel Grove since the Bookala creature created some," Billy commented, backing onto the street. Jason sighed.

"Mother Nature isn't too predictable."

The others all agreed. Alexis turned to Jason, who was watching the flurries from his window.

"So," she said, gaining the Black Ranger's attention, "Are you feeling better, Jay?"

"Huh?" he asked.

"Well, you kinda left in a hurry last night," Alexis continued, looking down at her hands, "I thought maybe you weren't feeling well."

In the front, Zack was watching Jason's reaction through the mirror. Jason noticed it, and frowned at his friend.

"Sounds like trouble in paradise," Zack commented. This time, both Jason and Alexis looked around uncomfortably.

"I'm... uh, sorry I couldn't stay, Lex," Jason said finally, "I had some... work to take care of. That's all. No big deal."


The occupants of the car remained silent. Alexis stared out her window, watching the streets and people. Jason kept looking out his own window, watching each snow flake that caught his eye. Billy kept his eyes on the road, and Zack, who was greatly annoyed with the silence, turned the radio on, and found the nearest Hip Hop station. He danced in his seat, and sang along to Puff Daddy's "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down". Finally, Billy parked the Rad Bug in the parking lot of a rather large building, that looked rather new. Alexis gazed at the building, and then back at Billy.

"I don't think I've ever been here before," she said, "What is this place?"

"Its a surprise," said Billy, turning off the car and opening his door. The others followed him out. Alexis stuck her hands in her pockets, and looked around the lot. She easily saw Tommy's white Jeep, as well as Rocky's red sedan. Together, the four friends walked to the door. Jason held it open for everyone, and Alexis gasped when she saw what was inside. There was a large oval ice-rink, with a few people skating and chatting. There was also a refreshment section, with tables and even arcade games. She grinned, and turned to her friends.

"You guys are the best!" she declared.

"Hey!" called Rocky from the bench beside the ice rink. He jogged over to them, as well as he could with ice skates on his feet. He hugged Alexis, and smiled at the guys. "Wow, what took you so long?" he asked.

"Well the snow has been accumulating, and therefore roads are rather slippery," said Billy, taking off his winter coat.

"Is everyone else already here?" asked Zack.

"Just about," said Rocky, turning back to the rink, "Kim and Tommy are on the ice, and Aisha and Adam are warming up with some hot chocolate at the snack bar."

"Where's Kat?" asked Jason, looking around. Rocky shrugged.

"I haven't heard from her, and she isn't here. She may have slept in. She does that, sometimes."

"Maybe I should call her?" asked Jason.

"I'm sure she'll get here," said Alexis, grabbing his hand and leading him to the skate rental counter, "What's your shoe-size?"

Billy and Rocky stayed behind, and watched Alexis tie her skates on. She waited impatiently for Jason, and then lead him onto the ice rink. Jason was a little wobbly on the ice, but he soon grew accustomed to it, and skated around the rink. Alexis was skating excitedly, moving over to Kim and Tommy to say hello. Then, she returned to her boyfriend, and skated circles around him. This sparked Jason's competitive streak, and the two suddenly began racing around the rink. Of course, Alexis beat him.

"Ice-skating was a terrific idea, Rocky," Billy mentioned, clapping his friend on the back, "Everyone's having fun."

"Yeah," said Rocky,watching Jason and Alexis skate. He had an amused smile on his face. "I just remembered Alexis liked to skate is all. No big deal."

"So," said Billy, "are you going to hit the ice?"

Rocky laughed. "Maybe later. Right now, some hot chocolate sounds pretty good. And how about a round or two of 'Street Fighter/X-Men?' I already beat Adam, Aisha, and Tommy today."

"You're on," said Billy, as the two headed to the snack bar.

* * *

In her home in the north of Angel Grove, Katherine Hillard busily blow-dries her straw gold tresses in the bathroom. She's wearing a pale blue bathrobe, and fuzzy slippers. As she fixes her hair, she glances at the snow fall from the bathroom window. She sighed deeply, and turned off the blow drier. She gazed at her reflection, and brushed through her dry hair.

"I'm actually rather late," she said, glancing at her watch on the sink, "I was supposed to be at the rink at ten o'clock. Its already nearly eleven. Not that I'm in much of a rush. I've never been one to like roller skating, and ice skating is a new sport for me entirely. And out of all of us, I'm the only one who isn't really friends with Alexis. It'll be awkward to be at her party. I suppose I should just stay here and do homework. But I really should go, and welcome Alexis into the fold."

Kat left the bathroom, and went back into her bedroom. After a few minutes of searching, she finally found something appropriate for the harsh winter weather-- a white wool sweater and turquoise turtleneck. She then selected jeans and snowboots, and began getting dressed. Once fully clothed, she went back to the bathroom, and tied her hair in a loose ponytail, and applied some lip gloss. Then she went downstairs, and put on the winter outerwear.

You're not fooling anyone, she thought to herself, buttoning her jacket, You're not going to the party to support Alexis, or even to make friends with her. You just want to see how she and Jason interact. To see if they're really a couple. This is so pathetic! Why do I keep falling for men who already have girlfriends? It's some kind of handicap, prohibiting me from ever developing a relationship. I should at least be big about it, and express my support for Jason and Alexis. I'm sure she's a fantastic person. If not, Jason wouldn't have fallen in love with her.

Just the thought made Kat slightly ill. She was still upset with Jason for never mentioning he had a steady girlfriend. At what was worse, Kat actually seemed to see something in Jason's demeanor-- something that seemed to show his interest in her. The day when he received the letter from Alexis, after the basketball game in the park, Jason and Kat really seemed to be building towards something. What, Kat didn't know.

"I probably imagined it," she huffed, "He's in love with Alexis. So obviously, he wasn't expressing romantic interest in me. He probably just wants us to be friends. And we are, of course. Its just a shame that we can't be anything more than that."

Kat grabbed her purse, and headed out the door. To her surprise, full-fledged snow was falling from the sky, in contrast to the light flurries that were there only about a half an hour ago. There was already a few inches of snow on the ground. Kat muttered to herself as she approached her car, and started scraping the snow and ice from the windshield. As she worked, she didn't notice a flash of white light behind her. She didn't realize she wasn't alone until something slammed into the small of her back. She screamed in surprise and pain, and fell into the snow on the driveway. She picked her face up, wiped off the snow, and gasped when she saw about a dozen venemous Viper Putties. The Putty that had kicked her was standing only a few feet from where she lay now, and she rolled out of the way just before a stream of green venom shot from its mouth. The venom burned through the snow, and also into the asphalt beneath it. Kat struggled to her feet, and tried to strike the Putty with a roundhouse kick. But she lost her balance, and slipped on the ice. She growled again, and once again forced herself to stand on the ice. Although she had a problem, the Putties didn't seem to have trouble maintaining balance. They leapt at her with the grace of a cat, and she tried to move out of the way. She only fell again, and rolled off the driveway, onto the grass. Since the grass wasn't completely covered with snow, it wasn't nearly as slippery. She looked around carefully, making sure no one could see her. But there were people on the street, shoveling and driving by. Even though they saw the Putties and fled, Kat knew they were probably watching the battle from some hidden place.

"I can't morph," she whispered to herself, raising her communicator to her lips, "I need some help!"

* * *

At the skating rink, Billy and Adam were engrossed in a game of Street Fighter/X-Men. Kimberly and Tommy were chatting quietly, sipping hot chocolate. Aisha was watching Billy and Adam play, cheering Adam, the underdog, on. Rocky was sitting quietly by the rink, observing everyone. He had lost at the arcade game, and therefore he had to wait until Billy was dethroned to play again. On the ice, Jason and Alexis skated hand in hand. Alexis glided on the ice with the grace of an eagle, soaring through the skies. Jason, on the other hand, was slightly less graceful, and was visibly tired from the skating.

"I'm a little tired," Jason admitted to Alexis, "Do you want anything to drink?"

"Sure," she said, smiling brightly, "I'll have a Coke."

"You got it," said Jason, skating off the rink. As soon as he was at the snack bar, a tone signaled from his wrist. He looked up, and turned to Kim and Tommy, who were sitting nearby. They also heard it, and they were rising to their feet. Tommy beckoned Jason to follow him to the coat room, where no one was currently. Aisha and Billy then joined the trio, and everyone simultaneously turned on their communicators.

"Kat?" asked Tommy, "Is that you?"

^Yeah,^ said her voice through the unit, ^I've been attacked by Viper Putties just outside my house, and I'm in full view of the neighbors. I can't morph, and I need some help!^

"We're on our way," Jason assured, as they all turned off their communicators.

"I'll stay here with Rocky, Adam, and Alexis," said Billy, "Contact me when you find something out."

"Right," said Tommy, taking another quick look to make sure the coast was clear, "Its Morphin Time! TERRA FIRE POWER!!"

"TERRA WIND POWER!!" called Aisha.

"TERRA EARTH POWER!!" bellowed Jason.

"X-Ranger One!" yelled Zack.

"X-Ranger Two!" cried Kimberly.

After the five rangers morphed, they vanished from the skating rink in a rainbow of light. Billy then returned to Adam, who was waiting beside the arcade game.

"We might as well play another round," he said, dropping a quarter in. Billy nodded, and did the same.

On the ice, Alexis continued to skate, spinning in the center of the rink. She continued to spin until she was moving so quickly, she was a purple blur on the ice. Then, she broke the spin, and continued to skate on one foot. She turned her head when she heard enthusiastic cheering.

"Wow, Lex," said Rocky, standing up on the carpet just off the rink, "That was fantastic!"

"Thanks," she said, skating towards him. She glanced down at Rocky's feet, and giggled at the pink ice skates he was wearing.

"What?" he asked.

"They didn't have any others in your size?" she asked.

"Well, they're my sister's skates. They fit me perfectly, so I figured I might as well use them. So what if they're pink? My self-esteem is secure enough that I don't feel like an idiot. Too much, at least."

The two laughed together, and then a mischievious smile crossed Alexis' face. "Say, I don't think I've seen you on the ice all day."

Rocky blushed slightly. "I don't really know how to skate."

"That's ridiculous!" said Alexis, grabbing Rocky by the hand and pulling him onto the ice, "Its a snap! Here, I'll show you. Hold onto my hand."

Rocky's eyes widened as he began sailing over the ice. He grabbed Alexis' hand with both of his, and allowed her to pull him along. After a few seconds, he relaxed his grip a little, and his expression of panic was replaced with a smile.

"Having fun yet?" asked Alexis.

"Yeah," Rocky admitted, "This isn't so bad."

"Maybe you should try actually skating, instead of being dragged along like a wagon," she suggested, "Try to push with your feet."

Rocky did as suggested, and managed to push a little. Rocky grinned, and tried again. But this time, he tripped over his own foot, sending him to the ice with a crash, and pulling Alexis down with him. The two fell in a heap on the cold ice, and fell into a fit of laughs.

"Okay," Alexis said, letting go of Rocky's hand and pulling herself onto her feet, "Maybe I should keep pulling you along."

"Good idea," said Rocky, trying to rise to his feet. But unlike Alexis, he couldn't maintain his balance, and once again fell onto the ice. Alexis sighed, and extended her hand.

"Let me help," she said, pulling him with all her might. But she lost her footing, and fell backwards, pulling Rocky along. Rocky rolled off from on top of her, and they once again laughed hysterically.

"Remind me never to skate with you again!" Alexis giggled.

* * *

Meanwhile, Katherine continues to swing at the horde of deadly Viper Putties with a fallen tree branch she picked up. She gasped in alarm as one Putty spit venom on it, eating through the wood rapidly. She dropped the branch, and backed away from the Putties. It didn't take long for her to slip once again on the ice, allowing the Putties to surround her.

However, the ground began to shake, and suddenly, a column of rock sprang from beneath the ground, elevating Katherine about ten feet in the air. She turned around in alarm, and saw the four Terran Rangers, along with the two X-Rangers.

"You okay, Kat?" called the Black Ranger, as all the rangers immediately pounced on the Putties.

"Oh, I'm great," she answered, "Although you sure did a number on my parents' lawn, Jason."

"I'm sure we can fix it before they get home," Tommy said, slicing off one of the Putty's arms. As usual, the lost limb quickly replaced itself, and the battle resumed. "I wonder what Zedd and Rita are up to," said Zack, knocking two Putties off their feet with his Lance of Light, "Usually, Putties are part of a bigger plan."

"Whatever it is, its not going to be good for us," said Kimberly, aiming her Thunderbow. She fired a bolt of lighting directly into one Putty's chest, causing it to fall into convulsions, and disintegrate.

After a few minutes of fighting, all the Viper Putties were destroyed, and the Terran Rangers sheathed their weapons. The Black Ranger walked to the column of rock, and touched it with his hands. Faint energy passed from his hands into the earth, and the rock receeded back into the ground. Soon, it was completely level with the rest of the Hillards' lawn, and Katherine was back with her fellow rangers.

"What happened?" asked Tommy. Kat sighed.

"Well, I was a little late coming ot the party, so when I got out here, there was a few inches of snow. While I was cleaning the snow from my car, the Putties snuck up on me. I saw my neighbors along the street, and I knew they were watching. I couldn't morph, and I couldn't fight back effectively. Not with all this snow. I kept falling."

"But you're wearing snowboots!" X-Ranger One said, looking at her feet. Kat frowned.

"I realize that, Zack, but I'm not used to fighting in these conditions. It doesn't snow often in Sydney, you know."

"And it doesn't snow often here, either," said Aisha, rubbing her chin, "Guys, do you think maybe this weird weather is Rita and Zedd's doing?"

"I wouldn't put it past them," said Jason.

"How can we find out, though?" asked Kimberly.

"We need to run some scans on this storm front," said Tommy, glancing up at the cloud cover, "and that means we're heading for the CAC."

"I'll contact Billy," said Jason, activating his communicator.

* * *

At the ice rink, Billy receives the message from the Terran Rangers. He glances at Adam, and the two lean towards Billy's wrist.

"Billy here," he whispered.

^Billy, its Jason. Kat's safe and sound, but we think something's going on here. We're going to the CAC. Can you meet us there?^

"I'm on my way," said Billy, turning off the communicator. He then rose to his feet, and Adam followed.

"Let's get Lex and Rocky, and get going," he said, as the two begin walking to the rink, where Rocky and Alexis were both sailing along the ice like pros.

"Wow," said Adam, "I can't believe Rocky's doing so well! Look at him!"

"I'm impressed," Billy confessed, "I didn't think Rocky was even capable of standing on the skates. But we'd better get going. Come on."

Billy walked over to the edge of the rink, and waved at the pair. But they were so busy chatting and laughing, they didn't notice. Frowning, he whistled at them. Alexis and Rocky looked up in surprise, and skated to the edge.

"What's up?" asked Rocky.

"Trouble," Billy responded, "Kat was attacked by Viper Putties."

"By what?" asked Alexis.

"Zedd's newest breed of Putty," Adam answered, "The Terran Rangers are waiting at the CAC. We'd better go."

Alexis looked around, and to her surprise, she noticed all her friends were gone. "When did they leave?"

"About twenty minutes ago," answered Billy. Rocky blinked.

"Wow, I didn't even realize they left."

"Me neither," said Alexis quietly, "Why didn't they come get me? I could've helped."

"They were only fighting a group of Putties," said Adam, "Its no big deal."

"You didn't receive the page from Kat?" asked Billy.

"No," she said, glancing at her communicator, "it didn't make a sound."

Billy frowned. "I guess I'll need to make some adjustments to it, to patch it back into the network. Since you've been gone so long, all the new systems installed since the inception of the Terran Rangers are incompatible with your communicator. But first, let's go to the Central Access Complex."

"The what?" asked Alexis, glancing at Rocky. He grinned.

"Trust me," he said, "you just have to see it."

With that, Alexis and Rocky exchanged their skates for shoes, and the group hurried to the coat closet. In one streak of purple light and three streaks of white, the four heroes vanished from the skating rink.