"This... this is incredible!!"
Everyone smiled as Alexis gazed around the huge underground Central Access Complex. It was by far superior to the Command Center she was familiar with, with dozens of computer consoles, a huge Viewing Globe, computer screen almost large enough to be a movie screen, an entire section devoted to medical equipment, and number of doors in the back.
"What's back there?" she queried.
"The door with the symbol of Earth is the entrance to the Terra Zord hangar. The other doors lead to lower levels of the CAC-- storage depot, living quarters--"
"There are living quarters down here?" Rocky asked in surprise, "I didn't know that!"
Billy laughed. "Well, I didn't want you guys to know too soon, because you shouldn't stay here so long as to require accomodations."
"The same could be said about you, Billy," said Zack, "I'd bet you've spent many a night in those quarters."
Billy shrugged. "You're win that bet. But sometimes extra work is a necessity."
Billy then turned from his friends, and sat down at the controls to the main computer, located on what appeared to be a desk. "Okay, the meteorological scan is almost complete. There is indeed an unnatural storm front covering the whole of Angel Grove, as well as parts of Stone Canyon, and other neighboring cities."
"Can you give us a satellite view?" Katherine asked, turning to the Viewing Globe.
"Affirmative," Billy responded, typing in the commands. On the globe, an image of the earth took form, and there was an especially pronounced cloud cover over a small section of southern California.
"Is there any way you can determine the cause of the storm front?" asked Tommy.
"Not directly, but I am reading a strange energy emanating from the exact center point of the area affected by abnormal weather. It appears to be... magical in nature. But the magic is of an unfamiliar pattern."
"How do you mean?" asked Aisha.
"Magical patterns vary according to who cast the spell. The computer can distinguish from the magic of, say, Lord Zedd and Ivan Ooze. But the pattern of this spell hasn't yet been identified. It'll take some time for me to be able to tell you exactly what's happening down there."
"Unfortunately, time is something we don't have," said Jason, a serious expression on his face, "The Viper Putties attacked Kat, and that usually is a precursor for whatever Rita and Zedd have in store. We need to throw a wrench in their plans!"
"I think their plans are already taking shape," said Kimberly, glancing up from the data screen she was looking at, "The snowfall has already accumulated to approximately seventeen inches! The flurries have built into a full-fledged blizzard!"
"Then that's it," said Tommy stepping forward, "The seven of us will check out the source of the alien energy readings. Lex, are you up to it?"
"Am I ever!" she replied, holding her morpher.
"Then its Morphin Time! TERRA FIRE POWER!!"
"TERRA WIND POWER!!" shouted Aisha.
"TERRA WATER POWER!!" called Katherine.
"TERRA EARTH POWER!!" bellowed Jason.
"X-Ranger One!" yelled Zack.
"X-Ranger Two!" cried Kimberly.
"Purple Ranger Power!" finished Alexis.
At the very center of the city of Angel Grove there is a vacant lot, where a travelling carnival has set up for a few weeks. Obviously, since the inclement weather has pretty much forced the inhabitants of the city to remain at home, the carnival has been shut down. But that doesn't mean its abandoned. Rather, there are numerous Viper Putties patroling throughout the area, hiding in rides, concession stands, and even snowbanks. In the very center is a mirror maze, where Rito Revolto had placed the Weather Warp on top of a stone pillar. He then marched around the orb, just in case someone arrived.
"Oh boy!" he said, "I can't believe Rita let me guard this present from Dad! This time, Goldar's the one who has to keep an eye out for the Power Rangers! I'll make sure those rangers don't get the crystal ball! No one gets past Rito Revolto!"
About fifty yards from the mirror maze, right beside the large ferris wheel, seven columns of light land in the deep snow. The seven Power Rangers peer through the heavy snowfall, searching for any signs of trouble.
"This is insane!" Zack muttered, trudging through the deep snow, "There's like two feet of snow on the ground!"
"It'll be hard maneuvering," said Tommy, turning to the Gold Ranger, "Kim, do you think you could construct a TK field around the area? It'll keep the snow from falling any more."
"I can try," she answered, "but it'll take alot of concentration to keep it up."
"Okay then, Kim'll stay here and maintain the force field. Alexis and I will stay with her, in case something comes out to get us. The rest of you, split into teams of two and cover the carnival area. Um, how about Jason with Aisha, and Kat with Zack?"
"What do we look for?" asked the Silver Ranger.
"Anything that could be a focus of magical energy," Tommy responded, "Okay Kim, now!"
The Gold X-Ranger nodded, and a dome of translucent gold energy formed around the carnival. The snow immediately stopped falling within the dome, and the two pairs of rangers ran in opposite directions-- one to the left, and one to the right. Alexis stood beside Tommy, watching their friends leave. She then glanced at Kimberly, who was trembling slightly from the exertion.
"How long can Kimberly hold the field?" she asked Tommy.
"Hopefully, as long as we'll need it."
By the bumper car track, the Silver and Blue Rangers continued their search. Finally, Kat stopped, and threw her hands on her hips in frustration.
"This is ridiculous!" she moaned, "I can't get anywhere in all this snow!"
"Well, there's nothing we can do about it," Zack replied, "Here, if you want, I can levitate both of us above the snow magnetically."
"Don't bother," said Kat, stretching her hands out in front of her, "I'm going to try something."
After a few seconds of concentration, the snow took on a faint aqua-blue glow, and suddenly, all the snow in front of Kat slid into large mounds on either side, creating a canyon of grass between two huge cliffs of snow. Zack gawked as Katherine walked between the mounds.
"I guess you're the next Moses?" Zack asked. Katherine giggled.
"I doubt I can part an entire sea, but as the Terran Ranger of Water, I can command water in a limited extent. All forms of water."
Zack nodded, and the two proceeded towards the bumper car track. Since the track was beneath a large canopy, the black raceway was pretty much free from snow. The two rangers leapt over the iron fence and looked around the arena.
"I don't see anything," Zack said, "Of course, we have no idea what we're looking for."
"Yeah, I think you're--" Kat stopped talking suddenly, as her head turned quickly to the direction they had just come. Zack noticed her reaction, and turned to where she was facing.
"What?" he said.
"I hear something," she whispered, "Something's coming."
"We'll make our stand here," said Zack, silently summoning his Lance of Light, "At least there isn't a whole lot of snow to get in our way."
Katherine nodded, and thrust her hands at the snow. The snow suddenly flew from the ground to the sky, as if a grenade had exploded from beneath it. The sudden explosion of white caused the lingering creatures hiding behind the large snowbanks to fly backwards. Kat stepped back, and took a defensive stance. The Viper Putties then collected their bearings, and gracefully leapt at the bumper car arena. Slowly, they approached the two rangers.
"Five, six, seven, eight..." Kat muttered, "I guess we each take four?"
"Sounds fair to me," Zack replied, "You hang back, I'll make the first move."
Before Katherine could reply, Zack pole-vaulted himself at the Putties with his lance. He didn't manage to hit any of them, because they all avoided him as he landed. As soon as he landed, he rotated his long lance in a complete circle, knocking over all the Putties that were within four feet from him. He then rose to his feet, and blocked all the Putties' kicks and punches with his lance, occasionally pelting them with the two ends, which were topped with heavy prisms.
Meanwhile, Katherine summoned her Ice Daggers and watched Zack's attack. Of course, it didn't take long before four Putties left the Silver Ranger, rushing at the Blue Ranger. She was prepared, and as soon as one Putty was close enough, she ducked his fist, and while turning full circle, she sliced off his leg at the knee with her razor sharp dagger. The Putty fell to the ground, and Kat focused her attention on the other two, knowing full well that it would recover soon. As expected, after only a few seconds, the leg grew anew, and the Viper Putty was ready for action. He fired a stream of deadly venom from its mouth, aimed for Kat's head. Kat had seen it through the corner of her eye, and dove for the ground, allowing the stream of poison to fly over her, and strike another Viper Putty in the face. The Putty writhed in silence as it slowly disintegrated.
On the other side of the lot, the Green and Black Terran Rangers approach a carousel, with horses, unicorns, dragons, and chariots covered with inches of ice and snow.
"How big is this place anyway?" Aisha huffed.
"Pretty big," Jason answered, "The travelling carnival comes each year, and it pretty much has room for every teen in Angel Grove. We came here a couple years ago, not long after we became rangers, and Trini's cousin Silvia got lost. Its a big place."
"...with dozens of places for Rita and Zedd to hide whatever magical nexus they're using."
"Yep," said Jason.
"At least we have Alexis back," Aisha said, hopping onto the carousel and looking around. Jason lingered back. "With seven rangers, things should be easier."
"Yeah," Jason muttered, "I guess they should."
Before Aisha could think about the underlying meaning of Jason's comment, a group of Viper Putties leapt down from the top of the carousel onto her. Jason moved to help, but suddenly the carousel began rotating. Jason turned around, and saw three more Viper Putties at the machine's controls.
"Hey!" Jason yelled, running towards them with his Earth Sword at the ready, "You're not licensed to operate this kind of machine!"
Jason punctuated that statement by chopping off the hand of the Putty that was pressing buttons on the console. The hand quickly evaporated, but the Putty soon grew a replacement. Jason leapt out of the way as another Putty spat a mouthful of the sticky corrosive venom they are armed with.
On the carousel, Aisha felt dizzy as the machine began spinning far faster than it usually did. She shook her head to orient herself, and stumbled back just in time to avoid a Putty striking her in the solar plexus. She rolled back, and struck her head against a plastic pony. She groaned, and weakly rose to her feet.
"Good thing this uniform comes with a helmet," she said, rubbing the back of her green headgear, "That surely would've done some permanent damage."
Aisha regained her balance, and delivered an explosive snap-kick, knocking one of the Putties off of the carousel, and into the metal fence around it. Aisha grinned under her helmet.
"Four to go..."
Aisha took another step back, preparing to launch a deadly roundhouse kick, when she felt her foot was stuck. She glanced back, and noticed her right foot was jammed between the floor of the carousel and the large cylinder in the center. She frowned and tried in vain to pull her foot out as the four remaining Putties approached her from the front.
"Wind Shield!!" she shrieked, holding out her hands. A flash of green light formed the circular shield, and as soon as it materialized, she felt the pressure of a squirt of venom from the other side. She sighed in relief.
Too bad our uniforms aren't made of this material, she thought as she knocked another Putty in the stomach with her shield, We'd be able to take far more punishment!
Back by the ferris wheel, Alexis and Tommy look around warily, walking in a circle. In the center of that circle is Kimberly, her entire attention focused on maintaining the golden shield of energy prohibiting the fall of any more snow. While Alexis continued to walk, her eyes caught the large building in front of her. She continued to look at it, thoughts running through her mind.
Billy tried to teleport us in as close to the energy source as possible. Maybe the source is right in front of us!
"Tommy!" she called, turning to the leader of the Power Rangers, "I have an idea of where it might be. The mirror maze!"
The Red Ranger glanced at the building, and nodded. "Go check it out. If you find anything, contact the rest of us."
The Purple Ranger nodded, and jogged into the building. Tommy watched her leave, completely oblivious to the cold red eyes watching him from within one of the cars on the ferris wheel.
"Now that the Purple Ranger is out of the way, and the Gold Ranger is otherwise occupied, only Tommy remains. Perfect."
The creature moved so quickly, it only looked like a flash of gold as it moved through the crisp air. Tommy turned around just in time to duck as the creature flew above his head, landing a few feet behind him. Tommy rose to his feet and fell into a defensive stance as Goldar unsheathed his mighty golden blade.
"So, once again it is you against I, Red Ranger," Goldar growled.
"And once again, I'm going to fillet your hide!" Tommy retorted, his Flame Saber glowing faintly with heat energy. The two seasoned warriors immediately fell into a duelling match. As their mighty swords clashed, the warriors continued moving further and further from Kimberly, who was oblivious to the events around her. Goldar grinned maliciously as he battled the Red Ranger, glancing at the Gold Ranger. He then nodded his head, and two Viper Putties leap from the ferris wheel, and ran directly at Kimberly. Tommy gasped when he saw them, and turned around, making the fatal mistake of turning his back on Goldar.
"KIMBERLY!!" he screamed, "LOOK OUT--!!"
His warning was cut short as he felt the sharp end of Goldar's sword cut through his side Tommy gasped in pain and surprise, and fell onto his stomach, blood staining the white snow around him. He rolled over onto his back, and saw Goldar raising his sword for the final blow. He faintly noticed that the snow began falling once again, momentarily blinding the large canine warrior. Goldar swung down with his mighty sword, but it suddenly stopped, only inches from Tommy's helmet. Goldar's eyes were wide with shock as he pushed down with all his might. But the sword wouldn't move. He didn't notice the faint golden glow around it, until he ws suddenly thrown into the ferris wheel by a faint gold force. Tommy was dizzy with pain, and lay limp as he felt someone removing his helmet. Through bleary eyes he made out a golden form in front of him. He tried to struggle, but he couldn't muster enough strength to break the firm grip on his chest.
"Tommy, stop it!" ordered Kimberly, "Its only me."
"Kim?" he muttered, "I thought you were Goldar."
Kim shook her head. "That's the last thing you should say to your girlfriend, Tommy Oliver!"
Tommy chuckled a little, but winced as Kimberly gently probed the sword wound.
"I don't think the sword punctured any organs," she said, "What happened? I thought you'd be more careful!"
Tommy smiled at her. "I was stupid, and I turned my back. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she answered, helping Tommy sit up, "I heard your warning, which disrupted my concentration and caused the TK shield to collapse. The Putties were so surprised by the sudden downpour of snow that I managed to knock them both out of my way. They're still alive, though. I just had to make sure you were okay."
Tommy nodded, and tried to stand up. He then noticed that Kimberly had encased the pair inside a smaller TK shield, protecting them from the two Putties who were punching and kicking the field in vain. Tommy's hazel eyes narrowed as he saw Goldar approach them, his sword at the ready. Kimberly held him by the shoulders, instinctively knowing what he was thinking.
"Tommy, you're hurt," she said, "You can't face Goldar!"
"Yes I can," he argued, rising to his feet, "With your help, at least."
Kim nodded and let go and Tommy painfully rose to his feet. She handed him his helmet, and he lifted up his sword in his right hand. He clenched his left fist, which began to grow red with heat energy.
"Lower the shield," he requested, "Its time for round two."
Meanwhile, inside the mirror maze, the Purple Ranger stands at what appeared to be a dead end. Surrounding her were reflections of herself. She was tiring of this situation very quickly.
"I hate mazes," she muttered, turning full circle, "I never know where there's a mirror, until I bump into it!"
She sighed deeply, and cautiously stepping in one direction. Sure enough, she collided with the reflective glass before getting very far.
"Okay, time to use my brain," she whispered, "Mirrors reflect lasers, and therefore a beam of laser would bounce around until it found a way through! That's it! Laser Whip!"
The purple tinted whip appeared in her right hand, and she grasped it tightly.
"All I have to do is make sure the beam is weak enough to bounce off the glass rather than shatter it," she said. A beam of bright violet light shot forth, and slammed into the mirror. Alexis quickly ducked, narrowly avoiding the light, and watched as the laser continued to ricochet until it finally found a path. Alexis ran as quickly as she could after the light beam. Under normal circumstances, it would be impossible for Alexis, even while morphed, to run at the speed of light. However, since the light was constantly bouncing around, she managed to keep up with it. Finally, she saw a small clearing in the center of the mirror maze. She skidded to a hault and gazed at the skeleton creature standing in front of a stone pillar. She ducked out of sight before the creature saw her, and touched her wrist.
"Tommy?" she whispered, "I found the magic source! Tommy? Do you read?"
She frowned when only static was transmitted. She tried again.
"Alexis to CAC. Billy, are you there?"
Alexis huffed with frustration. My communicator doesn't seem to work at all! I didn't realize I couldn't send messages! I just thought I couldn't receive them! How am I supposed to contact the others?
Her emerald eyes widened with insight as she recalled her conversation with Kimberly and Aisha the previous night. After Jason had left, the conversation had turned to the Power Rangers, and Kimberly said that she used to control lightning, but now has the powers of telepathy and telekinesis as the Gold X-Ranger.
"That's it!" she said, almost too loudly. She held her breath as the skeleton creature looked around warily, certain it had heard something. After a few moments, he shrugged, and continued pacing around the pillar. Alexis exhaled slowly.
Now, all I have to do is think, and Kim'll hear me. I hope.
The two Viper Putties leapt at the Gold Ranger, but she cartwheeled out of the way. Taking care not to slip on the ice and snow, she pulled out her Thunderbow, and aimed carefully. One shot of scalding lightning struck one Putty in the face, immediately turning the entire creature to ash. The second one struck Kimberly in the arm, knocking her bow out of her reach. Kim blocked its follow-up punch with her forearm, and then punched it in the face with her other hand, closely followed by an elbow in the chin as she swung her arm back around. The Putty was dazed, so she took advantage of its distraction by grabbing the Putty by the shoulders, and thrusting it downwards, where it met with her knee halfway to the ground. Her knee struck the Putty in the face, and she continued to knee it until it stopped moving. She then tossed the Putty to the snow, where it evaporated. She glanced up, and saw Tommy still fighting Goldar. She ran towards them, picking up her Thunderbow along the way. But before she could reach them, she heard a mental cry. The cry startled her, and she closed her eyes to concentrate.
*Hello? Alexis, is that you?*
*Kimberly! Whew, thank goodness you heard me! I have no idea how to contact someone mentally!* *Where are you?*
*I'm in the center of the mirror maze! Some skeleton monster is in here, and he's guarding a crystal orb. I'd bet my wings that its the source of the magical energy.*
*Why didn't you page us?*
*My communicator is still malfunctioning. I'll have to give it to Billy when we're done here. What should I do?*
Kimberly thought for a moment. *We'll be right there, Alexis. Just sit tight.*
Kimberly then opened her eyes again, and saw Tommy still fighting with Goldar. Tommy didn't seem to desperately need her help, so she focused her telepathic power, sending a mental call to the Black, Blue, Green, and Silver Rangers.
*Guys! Alexis found the power source in the mirror maze! Its right by the ferris wheel! Get here ASAP!!*
Once the message was released, Kimberly continued towards Goldar and Tommy. Goldar had grabbed Tommy by the right wrist, and squeezed, forcing the Red Ranger to drop his sword to the snow. Goldar laughed triumphantly, but then screamed in pain as Tommy jammed his left fist, glowing with flaming energy, into Goldar's exposed face. The canine dropped the Red Ranger, and dropped to his knees, burying his burnt face in the snow. Tommy quickly picked up his Flame Saber, and stepped back from Goldar.
"Had enough, Metalhead?" Tommy taunted. Goldar growled, slowly rising to his feet. Smoke still exuded from his charred blue fur.
"I'll rip you apart," Goldar threatened, "and feed you to Zedd's snake-staff."
"Now that's a pleasant picture," Kimberly said, stepping beside Tommy with her Thunderbow aimed. Goldar frowned, realizing that victory would elude him once again.
"This isn't over," he muttered, as he slowly vanished in a cloud of golden light, "I'll be back."
"Doesn't he always say that?" Tommy asked, sheathing his sword.
"Yeah. The writer's of Terminator II should sue him for copyright infringement."
Just then, all four other rangers ran onto the scene.
"Where's Alexis?" Jason asked, glancing around.
"Still in the mirror maze," Kim replied, "Let's get going."
The six rangers hurried into the maze, immedately confused by the dozens of reflections. "We'll never find our way through this!" Zack moaned.
"Sure we will," said Jason, stepping forward, "Just follow me."
The others shrugged, and followed as Jason walked slowly through the maze, holding his hands out at arms' length.
After only a few minutes, the rangers heard the sounds of battle not far ahead.
"Wow," said Tommy, "how did you do that, Bro?"
"I kept my eyes closed," he answered. Zack gasped.
"The reflections create an optical illusion," Katherine said, "By closing his eyes, Jason avoided the confusion of the mirrors."
"You almost sound like Billy," Aisha joked. Katherine shook her head in the negative.
"Come on," Kimberly said, lowering her voice to a whisper, "They're right behind this mirror."
The four Terran Rangers and two X-Rangers peeked past the final mirror, and saw Alexis fighting with Rito Revolto. Behind the two of them was a crystal orb, placed upon a marble pillar.
"Guys!" Alexis called, kicking Rito in the stomach, "Destroy the crystal!"
"Wha--?" asked Rito, turning around, "Power Rangers!!"
"Keep him busy, Lex!" Aisha yelled. The Purple Ranger nodded, and drew back her Laser Whip. She flung the purple leather whip through the air, wrapping it around both of Rito's hands. Rito struggled against the otherworldly strength of the whip, but he couldn't get loose. Alexis gave the other rangers a thumbs up.
"Terran Tempest, guys!" ordered Tommy. The five other rangers all held out their right hands, which began to glow with energy. Instantly, everyone's weapons appeared in their hands.
"Terra Thunderbow!" cried Kimberly, throwing her bow into the air. It stayed suspended in mid air.
"Terra Lance of Light!" shouted Zack, separating the lance in the center and throwing the two halves into the air. The halves attached to the center of the bow side by side, with the two prisms on either side facing forward.
"Terra Ice Daggers!" screamed Katherine, throwing both short blades up. They attached to the ends of the bow as two handles to hold up the weapon.
"Terra Earth Sword!" roared Jason, tossing his powerful blade into the air. The blade attached to one end of the bow, pointing towards the crystal.
"Terra Flame Saber!" bellowed Tommy, throwing up his trusted sword. It attached itself to the end opposite the Earth Sword, also facing the crystal.
"Terra Wind Shield!" called Aisha, launching the shield like a frisbee. The shield lay on top the the weapon.
Tommy grabbed one handle, while Jason grabbed the other handle. The others stood beside them, touching each others' shoulders.
"Terran Tempest!!" cried the entire team, focusing their elemental energies through the weapon. The two blades fired tight energy beams, while the two halves of the lance each fired beams of white lasers, laced with crackling lightning. The shield released a mighty gust of wind, laced with hail. The barage of elemental energy struck the crystal orb all at once, instantly reducing it to small crystalline particles. The Terran Rangers released their weapon, and it vanished in a flash of multicolored light. Alexis and Rito stood in mute awe of the devestating power of the combined weapon.
"Uh oh," muttered Rito, "My sister's not gonna like this!"
"Sister?" Alexis said in surprise, turning to the rangers.
"He's Rita's brother," Zack explained.
"Well," he said with a dramatic sigh, "I guess now's as good a time as any to face the music. Ciao!"
With that, Rito separated at all the joints, all his bones vanishing from the maze. His head was the last part to go. Alexis stood there for a moment in surprise, and then leaned down to pick up her whip.
"If he could teleport, why didn't he just teleport out of the whip?" she pondered.
"He's not much of a thinker," Kimberly answered, "Why did you fight him? I told you we'd be right there!"
"I know," Alexis sighed, "but I guess he heard me or something. He was coming right at me. I had to act before he actually saw me, so I could utilize at least a little of the element of surprise."
"Well, so much for Rita and Zedd's plan to wreck the world's weather," said Aisha.
"Yeah," said Tommy, "let's get to the CAC, and make sure the damage has been fixed."
The others nodded, and all seven rangers vanished in a rainbow of colored light. While they left, the small fragments of what used to the the Weather Warp began to glow faintly in an entire spectrum of colors, and slowly, the particles burned through the concrete floor, burying themselves in the soil beneath the construction.
In the Central Access Complex, Alexis, Kim, Aisha, Rocky, Adam, Zack, Katherine, and Jason stand in a circle, watching the sphere of the Earth as rendered on the Viewing Globe. Everyone smiled as they saw the threatening cloud covering Angel Grove slowly receed.
"We did it!" announced Kimberly, high-fiving Aisha, who was standing beside her. "Affirmative," said Billy, turning towards them from the med-unit, "The snow's already begun melting, the clouds have mostly dissipated, and the sun's shining. The temperature is estimated to each about sixty-eight. The snow should be completely melted before nightfall."
"Terrific," said Zack, rubbing his hands, "Now we can get back to the party!"
"Not me," said Kimberly, stretching her arms, "I'm wiped."
"Yeah," said Alexis, "Me too. I don't have the energy for skating."
"Well, how 'bout we all go get a late lunch?" suggested Rocky.
"Great idea, Rocko," said Aisha, "To the Youth Center!"
"So," said Tommy, sitting up from the med-unit, "what's my diagnosis."
Billy turned to Tommy, his eyebrow arched. "Try to avoid anymore sharp objects to the abdomen, and you should be fine."
Tommy grinned, and joined his friends by the Viewing Globe. As the teens prepared to teleport, Billy walked over and touched Alexis on the shoulder.
"I think I should make those adjustments to your communicator now," he told her, "Its not safe for you to be out of communications."
"But I won't be able to teleport."
"Don't worry. I'll have the communicator repaired by tomorrow. I can teleport you to the Youth Center from here."
Alexis agreed, and unsnapped her communicator. Billy took it, and placed it on his desk. He then activated the teleporter, sending Alexis, Rocky, Jason, Kat, Zack, Aisha, Tommy, and Kimberly all to the Youth Center. He then opened the face of the communicator, and began examining the gears.
On the balcony of the Moon Palace, Lord Zedd averts his gaze from Earth. In the process, the red energy of his telescopic vision faded, allowing him normal vision. He glanced at his wife, who was still gazing at Earth through her Repulsascope. He sighed, and walked towards her.
"You can stop watching now," he said, "The fights over. Once again, the Power Rangers won. Where did Rito and Goldar go?"
"Goldar went to Finster to get some ointment for his burns, and Rito went with him." Rita said, still not looking up at her husband.
"I can't believe you asked Rito to guard that Weather Warp thing!" Zedd barked, "I'll admit, this actually was a halfway decent idea of yours, but your brainless brother destroyed it!"
"No he didn't," she said, stepping back from the Repulsascope. To Zedd's surprise, instead of wearing an expression of frustration or anger, Rita was grinning.
"WHat do you mean 'no he didn't'? The Power Rangers destroyed the crystal!"
"Well, that's almost true," she said, grabbing Zedd's arm and pulling him towards the Repulsascope. "Here, take a look at this."
Zedd grudgingly obeyed, and saw the center of the mirror maze, where there were now tiny holes in the floor. He looked up and shrugged.
Rita frowned. "What do you mean 'so'? Don't you know anything about Weather Warps? Or Kenshin magic, for that matter?"
"Well, its not my field of expertise--"
Rita sighed, interrupting her husband's excuses. "The Weather Warp is a focus of magical power. Inside the crystal is a field of magic, capable of completely ruining climate. When the Power Rangers turned the Terra Tempest on the crystal, the glass shattered, releasing the magical energy encased within. However, the glass itself absorbed the elemental energies of the Tempest. Don't you get it yet?"
Zedd just looked at her. For the first time he could remember, he was thoroughly confused. Rita grumbled something under her breath, and glared at Zedd.
"Let me explain in a way even YOU would understand. The- energy- the- Power- Rangers- used- against- the- crystal- was- absorbed- by- the- crystal- and- now- the- crystal- fragments- are- transforming- that- energy- and- using- it! Don't you get it?! You can make a monster out of those fragments, and in essence, make a monster out of the elements!"
"Yes," said Zedd, tapping his metallic chin, "An excellent idea..."
"It'll take about twenty-four hours before the crystals are ready to be transformed. Then, Elementor will wreak havoc!!"
"Elementor?" Zedd chuckled. Rita frowned.
"Hey, its my idea, so I get to name the monster!" she sneered.
That evening, Alexis sits in her bedroom in her mother's Angel Grove colonial. She really missed this bedroom while she lived in Philadelphia. It was by far larger, and more cheerfully decorated. Perhaps it was because the atmosphere in Angel Grove was so much more relaxed than in Philadelphia. That's one of the big differences between living in a city and living in a small town.
Alexis is lying on her stomach atop her lavender bedspread, wearing her sleeveless purple silk nightshirt and shorts. Her growing red hair is pulled out of her face in a short ponytail, and she's chewing on the cap of a purple pen. She decided to make some time this evening to write in her diary, since she tries to chronicle all the important events in her life. And coming home again was an event she'd been looking forward to for over a year.
Its funny, she wrote, For the past few months, all I could do was romanticize my homecoming scene, when I walk off the plane, and Jason greets me with an passionate kiss. You know, just like in the movies. Of course, I wasn't expecting that kind of welcome, but I dreamed about it constantly. But, that's not what I got. And the funny thing is, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Alexis sighed deeply, and pondered the sea of conflicting emotions she's been feeling since she moved back. The moment my eyes fell on Jason, over a year ago, I felt something-- like a tingle going up my spine. And every time afterwards, when our eyes met, it was just... oh I don't know... magic! But its not there anymore. I could sense it the other night, when he basically ran away from me. I have no idea what he's feeling, and that doesn't make my position any easier. I'm not sure what I feel for Jason. Its like... he's not the same person I fell for last year. Should I even try to forge a relationship with Jason, or should we just remain friends? And that's what we always were really-- good friends. We never went on a date, we never _really_ kissed, or declared love, or anything like that. It would be so much easier if I knew how he really, honestly felt about me. But I'm too much of a coward to talk to him about it. I just don't know what I'd say to him. Matters of the heart are so delicate!
Alexis closed the diary, and put it back on her dresser, after locking it with the small key. She hid the key in its usual place, and turned off the light. She was about to tuck herself in bed, but she decided not to. She walked over to the window of her room, and looked out on the quiet streets of Angel Grove. She laughed to herself, leaning her elbows on the windowsill.
"Its pretty different from all the hustle and bustle of Philly at night," she pondered aloud, "On nights like this, I'd go out on patrol in Philly. But there really isn't a reason to in Angel Grove. Here, the Power Rangers only fight space aliens, and only appear when summoned. I don't know if that's a good thing, or a bad thing."
Alexis shrugged, and walked back to her bed. She made sure her alarm clock was set for waking up for school the next morning, and she tucked herself in. After a few minutes of tossing and turning, Alexis finally fell asleep.
The sound of a telephone ringing slowly aroused Alexis from deep sleep. She squinted, despite the sunlight pouring into her room, and reached over for the telephone.
"Hello?" she yawned.
^Lex? Did I wake you?^
Alexis rubbed her eyes, and glanced at her alarm clock. "Jason, its six o'clock! School doesn't even start 'til after eight. What are you doing up so early?"
^Well, I should've told you this earlier, but Tommy and I are going in early today. We have a presentation for Economics, and the teacher wants to see us before school to discuss our research. We can still bring you to school if you want, but we need to be there by seven.^
Alexis grimaced. "No thanks. I'll see if I can get a ride with Rocky or something. See you at lunch, Jase."
Alexis hung up the phone, and dragged herself out of bed. She glanced at the clock again, and shook her head.
"I'll wait for a bit to call Rocky," she decided, stretching her arms, "No need to wake him."
With that, Alexis slowly marched to the bathroom.
At six-thirty, Rocky is lying on his bedroom floor, doing a series of crunches as salsa music is playing from his clock radio. A loud knock on the door managed to reach Rocky's ears through the energetic music.
"Come in!" he called. His mother entered the room, holding a cordless telephone.
"Alexis is on the phone," she said with a strong Mexican accent. Rocky jumped to his feet and took the phone.
"Hey, Lex!" he greeted, "What's up?"
^Rocky, could you do me a favor?^
^Jason can't pick me up for school this morning, and I'm really not up to walking--^
"I'll pick you up," Rocky offered, "No problem. Adam's taking Aisha, so it'll just be you and me. See ya at 7:45?"
^You're a lifesaver, Rocky! I'll see you then. Take care!^
Rocky turned off the phone, and stared at it for awhile. He then sighed, and sat it down on his dresser. He wiped the sweat off his face with his towel, and combed back his light brown hair from his eyes with his fingers. As he got ready for a shower, he couldn't stop thinking about the previous day, when he and Alexis were happily skating around the ice rink. They were having such a good time that neither noticed their friends had left. Alexis didn't pay attention to the fact that it took Jason twenty minutes to get her a soda.
We both were just having a genuinely good time, Rocky reasoned, Sheesh, I really miss that. Back when we were the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, we always managed to have a good time. But somewhere along the road, the Terran Rangers have changed. They don't seem to have as much fun as they used to. They've gotten so... serious! Billy's gotten even more serious, and Jason and Tommy act like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders! Aisha and Zack try to lighten up the crowd abit, but even they can't do it alone. Kimberly and Kat are both kinda in the middle, but they're more sensitive than humorous. Its like the Terran Rangers have forgotten how to have a good time. Maybe it has something to do with being heroes-- something I haven't been for awhile now. I don't mind it, though. Its a big relief, actually. I missed the Power at first, but now I'm glad not to have it. What I really miss is being part of the group. They don't alienate me or anything, but I'm not part of the inner circle, so to speak. And then... there's Alexis.
Rocky walked to the bathroom, and locked the door behind him. He then turned on the faucet, allowing steaming water to heat up the room.
Alexis is different. She's got a free spirit. She'll tell it like it is, and she's not afraid of anything. And after everything she's been through-- with her sister being sick, moving to Philly, fighting crooks all by herself, and even risking her life with that Bomb Attack waaay back when we met the Spectrum Force-- she hasn't lost her smile. Through trials and tribulations, her sense of humor is intact. She's really something. I didn't realize how much I liked her until she came back to Angel Grove.
Rocky undressed and stepped into the stream of practically scalding water. The heat relaxed his tensed muscles, and at the same time relaxed his mind.
I wonder if I should tell her? he asked himself, Should I tell her I... I like her? Probably not... she's Jason's girlfriend, for Pete's sake! Well, she's sorta his girlfriend. They don't seem all _that_ close. But do I really want to get between them? No! They're both my friends, and I wish nothing but the best for them. But I've never been one to bottle up emotions. I can't do that. Its a skill I've never mastered. When I hate someone, its obvious. And when I like someone... I'm afraid that's rather obvious too. What could it hurt to tell her? At least I'll be honest with her, and with myself. Doesn't mean she has to reciprocate or anything. Its just something for her information. If she loves Jason-- and she probably does-- that's just fine with me. As long as she's happy. But she still should know.
Tommy waited patiently in the Lee family's driveway. After a few minutes, Jason walked out of the house, his black bookbag in tow. He opened the passenger door, and took a seat beside his best friend.
"How's it going, Jay?" Tommy asked as he pulled his car onto the road.
"Same old," Jason responded, glancing at the back seat, "Where's Kim?"
Tommy chuckled. "Are you kidding? She'd never be ready for school this early! She's going in with Kat later on. So, are you ready with the research proposition for Mister Erikson?"
"Yeah, I got the proposal in there," Jason said, pointing at his bookbag. He then glanced out the side window, and propped his elbow against the window.
"You okay, Bro?" Tommy asked, glancing at Jason through the corner of his eye.
"Tommy, I've got a... a slight problem."
"Is it anything I can help you with?"
"Maybe. Tommy, how do you know you're in love?"
Tommy blinked, and barely refrained from slamming the brake as a surprise reaction. He continued along the road, and turned to face Jason. Jason wasn't smiling. He was completely serious.
"Uh, I think its different for different people," Tommy replied after awhile, "I fell for Kim the moment I met her. It just felt so good to be around her, and I'd do anything to spend time with her. When she was in trouble, I was terrified. When she was in pain, I hurt too. And when she's happy, so am I. Its like an emotional connection. But again, that's me."
"Oh." said Jason, as if unsatisfied by Tommy's response.
"Does this have something to do with Alexis?" Tommy asked. Jason looked at Tommy, and raised his eyebrow. "Okay, stupid question," Tommy said.
"Tom, I don't think I love Alexis," Jason said quietly, "Actually, I'm rather sure I don't love her. I think I _used_ to love her, but that feeling's just not there anymore."
"What makes you say that?"
"Well, I'm not comfortable when I'm around her. But its not nervousness, or the 'good' kind of uncomfortable. Its the bad kind. You know, the guilty feeling. I feel guilty because I'm leading her on. I can't bring myself to tell her the truth."
"Jase, she's only been back for two days! How do you know you don't love her anymore?"
"Because," Jason said, his voice lowering, "I'm in love with Kat."
This time, Tommy did indeed slam the brakes, bringing the white Jeep to a sudden stop. Fortunately, both young men were wearing their seatbelts, and there weren't any cars behind them. Tommy turned to Jason, completely taken aback.
"Are you sure about that?"
"Absolutely. I've loved her for awhile now. I just didn't let myself realize it."
"Do you remember the Crystal Ball?" Jason queried.
"Well, remember when Kat was trapped in that sleeping spell, and she had to face the Nightmare Queen? When Billy told me that her life was on the line, it really scared me. Now, the thought of any of my friends dying is scary, but I was really terrified. And I was determined to save her. Like, I'd do absolutely anything to make sure she survived."
"Yeah," said Tommy, nodding, "I know what that feels like."
"I thought you would," said Jason. Now it was Tommy's turn to sigh.
"Look, Jase, this is serious. You've gotta be straight with Lex. If you don't love her, you need to let her know."
"The thing is... I don't wanna hurt her."
"I know you don't. But what else can you do? Lie to her? Don't you think that'd hurt her even worse that breaking up with her?"
Jason nodded. "You're right. I gotta tell her."
At the kitchen table of the Darling residence, Alexis and Denise converse over a mug of coffee.
"Nise," Alexis said, "I've come to a realization. I'm not in love with Jason."
"And you're sure?" asked Denise, "This isn't just anger because he left abruptly the other night?
"No, its not that. It goes much deeper than that."
"So, what're you going to do about it, Lex?"
Alexis sighed. "I don't know! I've never even been in a relationship before! Not that this really _is_ a romantic relationship, but that doesn't make it any easier. Actually, I think it makes it much harder! I have absolutely no idea what Jason is feeling. What should I do?"
"Isn't that a question you should ask yourself?"
Before Alexis could reply, a car horn sounds.
"Well, I guess you'd better get going," said Denise, "Listen, Kiddo, I really can't tell you what to do about the situation--"
"Yeah, I know," Alexis sighed, buttoning her coat, "Its my problem. I'll have to figure it out."
Denise stood up, and gave her sister a reassuring hug. "Alexis, here's my advice. Follow your heart. You can't lie to yourself, and you can't lie to your friends. If you don't love Jason, you have to let him know. The longer you wait, the more painful it'll be. There's no easy way out of a relationship."
Alexis nodded, and walked out the door. In the driveway, Rocky was holding open the passenger door to his sedan. When he saw her coming, he smiled warmly at her, and bowed.
"Your chariot has arrived, M'lady," he said as she got into the car. She began giggling as he walked around the front of the car, and sat in the driver's seat.
"Rocky, you're ridiculous," she laughed. Rocky feigned insult.
"So, how are you feeling today?"
"I'm still a little sore from falling on the ice so much yesterday," Rocky answered, backing the car onto the street, "but other than that, I'm peachy. We really must do that again some time. It was fun."
"Yeah, it was," said Alexis, looking out her window. Rocky glanced at her from the corner of his eye. He took a deep breath, and let it out slowly.
"So, Lex, do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"You just did," she answered with a playful smile.
"Okay then, how 'bout another one, after this one?"
"Do you know where Drexel University is?"
Alexis turned to Rocky and looked at him quizzically. "Why do you ask?"
"Because you're from Philly. I'm going to Drexel in the fall, and I wanted to know if you're familiar with it."
"Rocky, its like three blocks from Denise's old apartment!" she said, shaking her head in disbelief, "Drexel starts right where UPenn ends. They border on each other! This is amazing!"
"Why?" asked Rocky.
"Because, I'm going to UPenn in the fall! We'll be right next to each other."
"Wow, that's a funny coincidence," Rocky said, laughing slightly, "At least I'll have one friend in the area."
"Oh please, Rocky," Alexis said dramatically, "You can probably make friends in your sleep."
"Ah, M'lady doth shower me with flattery!" Rocky joked. Alexis rolled her eyes.
"I just don't believe it," she said, "you're going to Drexel..."
"Yep. My dad's an alumnus, so I guess its tradition."
The two remained quiet for awhile, both immersed in thought. Finally, at a red light, Rocky turned in his seat, and glanced at Alexis.
"I... uh," he stammered, "I'm really glad you came back to Angel Grove, Lex."
Alexis turned to him, surprised. "Really?"
"Yeah," he said honestly, "we all missed you while you were in Philly. You're a great person to hang out with, and at least you have a sense of humor, unlike most of the team."
Alexis laughed. "Well, I'm glad to be back."
The two looked into each others eyes, and shared a meaningful glance. Both were actually surprised by the strength of the urge to just look at the other. The moment was lost when the cars behind them began sounding their horns. Rocky turned back to the street, and noticed the light turned green. The rest of the car ride was in silence.
"Kat," said Kimberly, glancing up at her tall friend, "you've been quiet all morning. Are you okay?"
Kim frowned, and let out a sigh the two girls walked towards the building of Angel Grove High. Katherine was once again off in her own world, completely oblivious to Kimberly's words.
"KAT!!" Kim yelled. Katherine jumped slightly, and looked down at Kim, eyes wide
. "Did you say something, Kim?" she asked.
"Sheesh, Kat, I think your hold on reality is getting weaker by the minute! The way you keep zoning out, its almost as if..."
Kimberly stopped in mid-sentence, and once again glanced up at her preoccupied friend. A mischievous grin crossed her face as she quickly stepped in front of Kat to look her directly in the eye.
"Who is he?" Kim said. Kat looked at the Gold Ranger, bewildered.
"Who's who?" Kat questioned. Kim's grin widened.
"You're in love," Kim responded, "but the question is... with who?"
Kat frowned, and walked around Kimberly in an attempt to reach the school.
Kimberly raced to the tall blonde's side, and tried her best to keep in step with her. "Kat, don't try to hide it. I know you're in love, so fess up!"
"Okay, okay," Kim said, rolling her eyes, "you don't have to talk about it. But you should really do something about it. Kat?"
Once again, Katherine had stopped paying attention to Kimberly. But this time, she wasn't daydreaming. Instead, something had caught her eye. She was peering out to the parking lot. More specifically, at the red sedan that just pulled in.
"Kim," she said, not taking her eyes off the car, "isn't that Rocky's car?"
"You got that right," Kim said, looking in the same direction. They both witnessed Rocky get out of the car, and jog to the passenger side, where he bowed and opened the door. He held his hand out, and helped his passenger out of the car. She was giggling at his antics, and saying something, which neither girl could hear.
"That's Alexis," Katherine mentioned.
"I guess Jason couldn't pick her up this morning," Kim said with a shrug.
After Rocky closed the door, he lifted Alexis' hand to his mouth, and kissed it. Both Kim and Kat were visibly surprised by this. But what surprised them more was when Alexis smiled, and leaned towards Rocky. Although they were rather far away, it was quite obvious what she had done. She had kissed Rocky.
"I can't believe she did that!" Kat yelled, her blue eyes narrowing. Kimberly glanced up at Kat, even more shocked by the Blue Ranger's furious reaction than what they had just witnessed.
"She only kissed him on the cheek," Kimberly offered. Although this was true, that didn't make the kiss completely friendly.
Katherine folded her arms, and continued walking briskly towards the school. Kimberly ran to catch up with the tall Australian.
"Kat," she breathed, "we really shouldn't read into this."
"Kim, friends don't just go around kissing each other. That's just not how its done. How do you think Alexis would feel if I had kissed Jason? Or how would you feel if someone kissed Tommy? Especially a friend!"
"Do you think we should talk to her about it?"
"You do what you want," Kat replied, as the two girls ascended the stairs to the main entrance of Angel Grove High, "I want nothing to do with this entire matter."
Kimberly sighed and watched as Katherine continued quickly down the hallway. It was obvious the Blue Ranger was extremely upset about the situation. The emotions and thoughts running through Kat's head were so intense, Kimberly didn't need to put any effort into her telepathic skills to pick up on them. She didn't want to pry, but she didn't seem to have the choice.
"Kat's in love with Jason," she muttered to herself, turning down the hallway to her locker. As she approached her locker, she was surprised to see Tommy leaning up against it, his arms crossed and a serious expression on his face.
"What's wrong?" she asked her boyfriend. He sighed in reply.
"I probably shouldn't be telling you this," he said in a low voice, "but you know more about relationships than I do."
Kimberly raised her eyebrow. "What happened?"
Tommy sighed again, and ran his hand through his loose chestnut mane. "I drove Jason to school today, because his truck is still in the shop and all, and he was kinda down, so I asked him what was the matter. He... he's having problems with his relationship with Alexis."
"You're kidding," Kim said.
"No, I'm not. He's not in love with her anymore. He's in love with Kat."
Kim's doe-brown eyes widened, and her jaw dropped slightly. Tommy nodded, as though answering her unspoken question.
"He's sure about it. He said he's been giving the whole matter alot of thought, and he's sure about his feelings. He doesn't love Alexis, and he doesn't know what to do about it."
"The plot thickens..." Kim said, shaking her head in disbelief. Tommy looked at her questioningly, so she elaborated. "This morning, just as Kat and I were coming to the building, we saw Rocky with Alexis."
"So?" asked Tommy, "Alexis told Jason she'd catch a ride with Rocky."
"She did more than just ride to school with him. She kissed him."
Now it was Tommy's turn to display utter shock. "So Jason loves Kat, and Alexis loves Rocky?"
"I'm not sure what Alexis is feeling, but I think its a rather safe conclusion to draw."
"But what about Kat and Rocky? How do they feel about all this?"
"Well, Katherine practically went ballistic when she saw Alexis and Rocky together. I'm pretty sure she's in love with Jason, and so she was furious that his girlfriend would do that. It also explains why Kat and Jason have been rather... uncomfortable in each other's company since Alexis came back."
"You noticed it too, huh," said Tommy, shaking his head. "I guess the next question is-- what do we do about all this?"
"Its really none of our business," Kim decided, "I think the best thing we can do is keep our mouths shut. If Lex, Kat, Jason, or even Rocky ask for our advice, then we surely give it to them. But I don't think its our place to tell them what everyone else is feeling, or tell the others. As far as I know, Adam, Billy, Aisha, and Zack are in the dark."
"Yeah," said Tommy, reaching over and grasping Kimberly's hand, "Mum's the word. So where are you going now?"
"Scientific Founders," Kim sighed, "I don't know why I took that class."
Tommy grinned, "It can't be worse than my Economics class. Can I walk you over?"
Kimberly smiled, and tightened her hold on his hand. "Let's go."
As they walked, Kimberly couldn't help but but say, "I really hope they get everything straightened out."
Tommy frowned. "If they don't, then this emotional conflict will tear the team apart."