Its Friday evening in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the sky takes on a slightly pinkish hue. Two young women bundle up to keep out the bitter January winds as they walk home.
"Looks like its gonna snow," commented Dawn, looking up at the sky.
"I hope so!" said Alexis with a grin, "I've always loved snow. Snowball fights, sledding..."
"Yeah, I know," chuckled Dawn, "and also shoveling, slippery sidewalks, car accidents... hmm, now that I think about it, there probably wouldn't be many car accidents."
"Why do you say that, Dawn?"
"Because, the Purple Ranger would probably stop the accidents before they start. Just like she did New Year's."
Alexis' emerald eyes widened in surprise. "I thought she was the Purple _Knight_!"
"That's what the press says," said Dawn, rolling her eyes, "but I know its the Purple Power Ranger. About six weeks ago, there was a Purple Ranger in Angel Grove, where the other Power Rangers are always sighted, but she disappeared shortly after. I mean, the Power Rangers went back down to six. Then, suddenly, a flying armored Purple warrior appears in Philly. Honestly, Lex, its pretty obvious that the Purple Ranger came to Philly! If the rest of the population believed the Power Rangers really exist, then they'd realize it."
Alexis was astonished at Dawn's logic. "Since when did you know so much about the Power Rangers?"
"Well, I read up on them when you moved to California," Dawn admitted, "I was curious to see what Small Town, USA was like. Man, its no typical town!"
"You got that right," Alexis said with a smile. She then looked up at the sky again. "Its probably going to snow tonight," she said with a sigh, "The sky always turns pink--"
Alexis stopped in mid sentence, and looked up curiously. She blinked her eyes in surprise, and then peered once again into the darkness. A moving shadow had caught her eye.
_That's weird_ she thought, looking around, _I saw something! It was really strange. It moved so quickly, and it was flying through the sky! Maybe the Purple Ranger should investigate._
"Hey Lex!" Dawn yelled, gaining Alexis' attention, "What're you looking at?"
"Nothing," Alexis lied, "Uh, Dawn, I... I forgot, Denise asked me to pick up some diapers for Jonny on my way home..."
"No problem," said Dawn, "we can stop off at CVS. Its just down the block."
"That's okay," said Alexis, breaking into a jog, "I can go by myself."
"Alexis!" Dawn yelled after her best friend, "Its getting late! You shouldn't go alone! This is Philadelphia, not Angel Grove!"
"I'm only about two blocks from hom anyway. I'll be fine!" Alexis assured, disappearing in the crowd. Dawn shrugged, and continued to her house. Alexis hid in an alleyway, and took a quick look around.
"No one here," she whispered, digging into her coat pocket. She pulled out a small rectangular box with a golden coin on the surface, and held it in front of her at arm's length.
"Its Morphin Time!" she cried, "Purple Ranger Power!!"
Brilliant beams of purple light shot forth from the golden coin, and cascaded around Alexis' body, donning her in the form fitting metallic purple armor of the Purple Power Ranger. White thigh-high boots appeared on her legs, and golden Mercury wings stretched forth from her ankles. White opera gloves covered her hands and arms, and a golden shield materialized on her torso. A golden belt with the Eagle coin sat low on her waist, and finally, a purple and white helmet covered her head and hair. The bright light faded, and the Purple Ranger, Philadelphia's protectress, slowly rose from the ground.
"Now," she said, "to find that flying shadow."
* * *
Meanwhile, the costumed superhero Spiderman stands atop the on-campus apartment building High Rise South, whose twenty four stories house hundreds of University of Pennsylvania upperclassmen. The building is located on 39th street, on the western end of campus.
_I've been web-slinging for two hours, and still nothing!_ Spiderman thought as he gazed into sky, _I've crossed the Penn campus three times. Maybe I was wrong-- maybe I should start searching the rest of Philadelphia. Still, something tells me I should keep looking around here. She should have spotted me by now._
Suddenly, Spiderman's sixth sense warns him of danger. Something has come too close for comfort.
_Spider Sense! The Purple Knight must be nearby!_
Spiderman looked around, but still saw nothing. But he felt a gust of wind on his head, and looked directly above him. He saw a woman, donned in a complete purple uniform, hovering a few feet over him.
"I'll tell you one thing," she said, "red and blue spandex isn't the best camoflauge."
"Neither is a highly reflectant purple and gold uniform," Spiderman retorted, "What are you, afraid of getting hit by a car?"
Alexis scowled under her helmet. "Who are you?" she asked seriously, landing on the roof. Spiderman stood his ground.
"Just your friendly neighborhood Spiderman."
The Purple Ranger held up her hand, and a purple whip appeared, sparking with purple hued energy. "Sorry," she said, "there aren't any Spidermen in _this_ neighborhood."
Spiderman quickly leapt back, and just managed to avoid being struck by the whip. He somersaulted in the air to the other side of the roof, and looked down.
_That's a long way down_ he thought, _and I'm too far away from any other high buildings to web-sling! This isn't going quite how I intended!_
"Listen," he said out loud, his hands held out in a gesture of peace, "I'm not a bad guy!"
"Then just what are you?" she asked, launching her whip at Spiderman again. He once again managed to avoid it, but he was running out of room to maneuvre.
"I'm a superhero! Like you!"
The Purple Ranger stopped to consider this. "Why are you here, then?"
"Well, I--" Spiderman started, but he suddenly felt a tingling sensation in his head again. His eyes widened beneath his mask.
_Why is my Spider Sense going off again?_ he thought _Unless... the Purple Ranger isn't the one who set it off in the first place! But then, who--?_
"Spiderman?" Purple Ranger asked, waving her hands in front of his face, "Are you still here?"
Spiderman snapped back to reality, and looked around. "Huh? Well, I've... got to be going," he said, slowly bringing his hands to his belt, "Until next time."
With that, he touched the small button on his belt, and a bright flash from his camera momentarily blinded the unwary Power Ranger. While she was distracted, Spiderman leapt off the high building and created a parachute with his webbing, slowing his descent. He landed safely on the ground, and as soon as his feet touched, his Spider Sense once again went off, even stronger than before.
_I was right! Something else is here!_
Before Spiderman could move, he was struck by a powerful swing. He flew into a nearby tree, breaking the trunk and nearly knocking him unconscious. He shook his head to clear the cobwebs, and caught a quick glimpse of his attacker. It was a seven foot reptile.
"Not good--!" he uttered, just as the monster grabbed him by the neck with both clawed hands. Spiderman struggled under the monster's superior strength, but he couldn't loosen its grip. His vision slowly blurred, and his struggles weakened. But before he could pass out completely, the monster gave a howl of pain, and dropped Spiderman. It turned away, and Spiderman noticed a smoking hole in the soiled white lab coat the monster was wearing.
"I've got more were that came from!" Purple Ranger remarked, her fist still glowing faintly with purple energy. She then waved her gloved hand over her helmet. "Ew!" she croaked, "Where have you been hanging out? The sewers?"
The monster roared deeply, and the Purple Ranger shuddered slightly. Suddenly, the monster leapt at the frozen ranger, baring its enormous fangs. Its claws didn't penetrate her purple armor, but the force of his attack knocked the wind out of her. It then picked up the stunned young woman, and tossed her with all its might into High Rise South. The Purple Ranger crashed through the brick wall, and landed in the empty first floor television lounge. The monster roared again, and turned back to its first target. Spiderman was back on his feet, although he was obviously still dazed.
"Doc!" he called, "You've gotta re-assert yourself! Regain control!"
"Stop your banter," Lizard answered in a deep voice, "You're my mortal enemy, Spiderman! Because of you, my plan to improve the imperfections of mankind was foiled! Now, you're going to pay."
The Lizard knocked Spiderman over with his tail, but then his head swiveled around when he heard the sound of a gunshot. He saw three men, wearing navy blue uniforms and holding pistols.
"This is the Philadelphia Police!" one of them shouted, "FREEZE!"
The Lizard roared, and the three officer's froze with fear. The Lizard leapt at them, and his claws cut deeply into the thigh of one of the officers. The officer screamed in pain as his blood stained the grass. "Harry!" yelled one of the other officers, pointing his gun shakily at the monster. He fired a single shot, striking the monster in the tail. The Lizard howled, and turned to the one who shot him, bloodlust in his eyes. But the officer kept his gun aimed, and the Lizard decided not to attack. Instead, he leapt off the wounded officer, and ran off into the night. The two policemen turned their attention to Spiderman, who once again was on his feet.
"Spiderman?" asked one officer, lowering his gun, "What are you doing in Philly?"
"I get around," he answered, walking towards him, "Will your partner be okay?"
The two cops turned to the other officer, who was now unconscious on the grass.
"We'd better get him to the UPenn Hospital," said one, and they hurried to their downed partner. Spiderman immediately shot a vine of webbing, and went in the direction Lizard had fled.
_I should probably see if the Purple Knight is okay, but I can't let the Lizard get away!_ Spiderman thought, sailing through the cold night air, _He's more powerful than ever! He could kill tons of innocent people!_
* * *
Inside High Rise South, Alexis regained consciousness, and found herself in unusual surroundings.
"Wha--?" she gasped, looking around, "Where am I?"
She then remembered being tossed into the apartment building by the seven foot tall green monster.
"Good thing his claws couldn't penetrate my shield," she thought thankfully, touching her golden chestplate She was surprised to feel gashes in the golden metal. The Lizard's claws left some dents.
"Well, they'll vanish when I morph again," she reasoned, standing up. She walked through the hole she crashed through earlier, and looked around. Both Spiderman and the Lizard were gone, but she saw two police officers standing over something. She ran over to see for herself.
"What happened?" she said, startling the two officers. They both turned around, pointing their pistols at her. She backed away in surprise.
"Hey," said one of them, "you're that Purple Knight I read about in the paper, right?"
"Yeah, that's me," she said, relieved that the officers lowered their pistols. She looked down at the third officer, who was lying unconscious on the grass. She cringed at the huge wound on his thigh.
_Looks like something from Jurassic Park_ she thought, her hands on her hips, _The Lizard has left his mark. But there's no way I'll be able to find him tonight. Hopefully, Spiderman is on its trail. Right now, this guy's life in on the line._
The Purple Ranger gently lifted the wounded officer, and her ankle wings began to flap.
"I'm taking him to the hospital on 30th street," she told the other officers, "He needs medical attention immediately."
"Thanks, Purple Knight," the officers called as she lifted into the air.
"That's Purple Ranger," she said, smiling beneath her helmet, "And by the way, did either of you happen to see a guy in red and blue spandex?"
"You mean Spiderman?" asked the one officer.
"Yeah," she said, somewhat surprised, "How did you know his name?"
"He's in the newspapers all the time back in New York," the officer explained, "I was just transfered to Philadelphia last month. Before that, I was a NYC cop, and I saw Spiderman all the time. He always left crooks wrapped in webbing for us to take in. Sure made life easier."
"Thanks for the info," the Purple Ranger said, taking off into the night. She flew as quickly as her wings could carry her to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, only a block away from the Penn Tower Hotel. While she flew, she was immersed in thought.
_So, Spiderman is from New York, eh? Why is he in Philadelphia though? There must be a reason why he came here. And, it almost seemed as if Spiderman knew that big monster was coming. He did call it "Doc". What's the connection...?_
Alexis frowned, and yawned under her purple and white helmet.
_Well, I'll be able to think more clearly after a good night's sleep_ she decided.
* * *
Alexis wakes up to the sound of a baby crying. She sighs and throws on her robe. She glances out her window, and squints to lessen the glare of reflected sunlight pouring through her room. As she suspected, it had snowed last night, and at least three inches of white powder covered the city. She rubs her eyes and walks into the livingroom, where her sister Denise is feeding young Johnathan his bottle. The television is on in front of her, and the news is running.
"Morning, Denise," Alexis yawned.
"You slept pretty late," commented Denise with a grin, "When did you get back from the movies? I didn't hear you get in, and you weren't here when I got back."
"I guess it was about... one or so," said Alexis, scratching her head, "Dawn and I went to grab a bite before we came back."
"Oh," said Denise, turning back to the television. Alexis sat down on the carpet and watched the screen also.
"What's going on?"
"Well, some famous scientist vanished last night."
"Really?" asked Alexis in surprise, "You're kidding."
"No, I'm serious. Doctor Conners is a professor teaching at Eastern State University, in New York City. He was supposed to meet with the President of UPenn this morning to discuss possible financial aid for his research on Neogenics, but he never showed up. The Doctor is missing, and his hotel room at Penn Towers was trashed. The Police have no leads."
Alexis' eyes widened, and she moved closer to the screen. Two teenagers, a blonde woman with glasses, and a tall brunette man with hazel eyes were answering questions.
^Miss Whitman, Mister Parker,^ said the reporter, ^did either of you hear anything last night?^
^Not a sound,^ said the woman, ^Its so strange...^
^Me neither,^ said the man, ^Doctor Conners was just... gone when Deb and I went to check on him this morning.^
^Thank you for your time,^ the reporter said. He then turned back to the camera, ^The most mysterious thing about this late-night abduction is the manner of the kidnapping. The door was locked securely, and the only sign of forced entry was the shattered window. However, Doctor Conners' room was on the eighteenth floor of the hotel, so it would be most difficult for the kidnapper to get in. The Police are baffled. More as it develops...^
"Kinda freaky, eh?" asked Denise, shaking her head, "Nothing like this has ever happened around here before. How could anyone possibly get into that hotel room and kidnap Doctor Conners without making the slightest sound?"
"That's a good question," said Alexis, standing up, "I'm going to get dressed, and then I'm going to the library to do some research for a project. Do you need anything from the store?"
"No. Have fun, Sis," called Denise, as Alexis disappeared into her bedroom. She quickly threw on jeans, a purple turtleneck sweater, and snowboots.
_No one could've kidnapped Doctor Conners from that hotel room_ Alexis thought, combing through her carrot-red hair, _No one human, at least. But I'm willing to bet that the reptile monster could've done it. But why? I think I need to learn a bit more about Neogenics. After all, that's Conners' claim to fame, and it may be the key to unlocking this mystery._
With that, Alexis grabbed her coat, and hurried to the city library.
* * *
"Finally," said Peter Parker, closing and locking his hotel room door, "the reporters are gone."
Peter sighed deeply, and took off his sweater, revealing the red and blue form-fitting costume of Spiderman beneath it.
_I spent all last night searching for the Lizard, but I couldn't find a trace of him! I'm not too familiar with the layout of Philly, so I'm at a definite disadvantage, since I'm on the hunting end. There are too many places he can be. My best bet is to search the Doc's room, and see if there are any clues there. Hopefully, he'll have some of that serum with him, to transform him back into a human being. Doc Conners has always been pretty cautious. But I can't go into his room until the police leave, and that won't be for several hours. They're still investigating the crime scene. _
Peter covered his mouth as a prolonged yawn escaped him.
_I'm dead tired. After hours of web-slinging through the snow, I finally came back here to get some shut-eye. But after about two hours of sleep, Deb woke me up, and told me to get ready for the presentation. I couldn't stop her from knocking on Doctor Conners' door, and in the end, she went down to the front desk to get the key. The first thing she did when she saw the mess was call the cops, and as usual in a big city, where there's cops, there's news, and where there's news, there's news-hounds-- the press. It took exactly twenty minutes for the whole scene to become a circus, with dozens of reporters sticking their microphones into my face. I really wanted to keep the situation out of the news, but I couldn't prevent it. Now, I'll have to figure out a cover story for what happened to Doc Conners, since we certainly can't let it out that he transforms into a towering lizard monster. Of course, this is assuming I find the Doc..._
Peter put on his pajamas, and tucked himself into bed.
"I might as well make use of this time," he decided, "After a quick nap, the police should be done in the Doc's room, and then Spiderman can give it the once-over."
* * *
At the public library, Alexis Darling is sitting at a computer, searching for articles on Doctor Kurt Conners and Neogenics. After hours of searching the world wide web, she found a few interesting works-- one Scientific American article, published by Doctor Conners himself on the subject, and a newspaper article from the Daily Bugle about the basics of Neogenics, written by freelancer Peter Parker, whom Alexis remembered as the young man on the news this morning. These two articles were a great help in understanding what exactly Kurt Conners is studying.
_So Neogenics is a theoretical science involving the splicing of the DNA of a living being, and combining it with a different being, in order to recreate the traits of one in another species. Could Neogenics be what created that giant reptile? If so, then Conners and the monster are somehow connected, since Conners is the authority on Neogenics. Conners could have even created the monster, and it wants revenge? Sorta like in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"..._
Alexis frowned, and printed out the two articles she read, for future reference.
_I distinctly remember Spiderman calling the monster "Doc", right before I passed out in the fight last night. So, that means Spiderman knows the monster, and that he wasn't always a monster. Once upon a time, he was a human being... a scientist. Maybe Conners and the monster were partners, working on Neogenics, when some kind of accident transformed him into a reptile. Conners works in New York City, at ESU, and that's Spiderman's territory. So Spiderman fought the monster before. And maybe, just maybe, Spiderman came to Philadelphia because Conners came here, and he wanted to protect him. That must be it! Sherlock Holmes, eat your heart out!!_
Alexis grinned, and hurried out of the library. Once outside, she hid in an empty alleyway, and pulled out her morpher.
"Its Morphin Time! Purple Ranger Power!!"
In a blinding cascade of purple light, Alexis Darling was once again transformed into the high-flying Purple Power Ranger. Her ankle wings immediately began to flap, and she was soon airborne, heading back to the UPenn campus.
_I need some evidence of my hypothesis_ she reasoned, _and the best place to look for it is in Doctor Conners' hotel room. Maybe I can find a clue as to where the monster would have taken him!_
After about five minutes of flight, the Purple Ranger descends from the higher altitudes, and lands on the sidewalk just outside the Penn Tower Hotel. She saw a few yards of the sidewalk surrounded by rubber cones, with police tape sectioning it off. There was one officer on duty, protecting the area. As soon as the Purple Ranger landed, he gasped audibly, and attracted the attention of the people on the street. This was the third time this mysterious warrior was seen in Philadelphia, and its the first time she appeared in broad daylight. A crowd began to form as the Purple Ranger walked over to the sectioned off area.
"Excuse me, officer," she said, "why is this area off limits?"
"Um, this is the spot right below the room Doctor Conners was abducted from," the officer explained, "There's some glass and stuff here, and we're cutting it off so we can check for any fingerprints, blood, or anything else that would give us some information about the kidnapper."
"Oh," she said, her wings flapping once again. She hovered over the area sectioned off, and studied it without touching it.
_This is really strange_ she thought _why would so much glass be down here? If the reptile monster broke into Conners' room through the window, the glass would all be inside the hotel room, not on the street!_
Alexis frowned in confusion, and then floated higher into the sky. She flew through the window of Conners' room, and landed on the carpet right in front of the window. She knelt on the ground, and felt around.
"No glass..." she whispered. Her head swung around when the door to the room opened, and a figure walked in.
"Spiderman?!" she said in surprise, standing up. She could tell that he too was surprised to see her, even though his mask hid his face.
"Fancy meeting you here," he said, closing the door behind him and leaning against the wall, "Why _are_ you here anyway?"
"Just looking for that monster we were fighting last night," she remarked, "I thought maybe he returned to his room."
Spiderman stiffened slightly. "What do you mean?"
"Conners is the reptile monster," Alexis said, "and you knew it."
"What gave you that idea?" Spiderman asked. He was shocked that this mysterious superheroine figured out what the New York Police never did learn.
"Well, I did a little research on Neogenics. Although there aren't any documented experiments that have actually worked, its possible that Conners secretly made the process work, and managed to combine the DNA of a reptile with a human being, making the monster we fought last night. At first, I thought it was a former associate of Conners who was transformed into the monster, hungry for revenge. But one thing doesn't fit into that scenario-- the window. If the monster broke into this room to kidnap Conners, then the majority of the glass would be inside the room. However, all the glass is outside, on the sidewalk below. That can only mean one thing-- the monster didn't break in. He broke out. Conners transformed into the monster, and broke out of this room through the window."
"But, why are you so convinced the monster is human?" Spiderman asked.
"Well, last night, I heard you call him 'Doc'. That convinced me that he was at one time a human being, and it also shows that you knew that. You've fought this monster before."
"Nice detective work," Spiderman said, "I'm impressed."
Alexis beamed under her helmet. From what the police officer had said about Spiderman, he was a premier superhero. And she, a relatively new superheroine, was actually being complimented by him.
"I was hoping I could find Conners and change him back before the media got involved," Spiderman continued, "I came to Philadelphia because I wanted to keep an eye on him. It was only a few weeks ago that he first became the Lizard, and I wanted to make sure it was completely out of his system. I guess its not."
Spiderman went into the closet, and pulled out Conners' suitcase. He opened it, and quickly found a small medication pouch. He unzipped it, and looked inside.
"Damn," he muttered, pulling out a small vial. It was broken, and there were only a few drops of liquid inside it.
"What is that?" Alexis asked.
"Its the serum that Conners developed to keep his Lizard half under control. Just in case he felt he was transforming again, he needed to swallow an ounce of this formula to prevent the transformation. Somehow, the vial shattered, probably during the flight over. Without this potion, there is no way I can turn Lizard back into Conners."
"Is there anything I can do?" asked Alexis eagerly. Spiderman shook his head, and walked to the window.
"No. Thanks for the offer, but I work alone. You're new to this job, Purple Knight. You may be able to stop a few car accidents, but this is a whole different ballgame. The Lizard is dangerous."
Alexis glared angrily at Spiderman. She then grabbed his arm right before he could leap out of the window.
"First, I'm the Purple _Ranger_, not the Purple Knight. Second, I'm not new at this. I've fought magical creatures the size of mountains, and I've even fought aliens from alternate dimensions. I've done much more than stop car accidents. Third, you need me. You may be an expert in New York, but Philly is _my_turf. I've lived here almost all my life, and I can help you find Conners."
Spiderman remained silent for a few moments. "I... I guess you're right. Sorry about that."
"No problem," said the Purple Ranger, "So, what's the plan?"
Spiderman rubbed his chin. "I guess what we need to do is find Lizard, restrain him somehow, and transport him back to New York, so I can whip up another vial of that serum to transform him into Kurt Conners.
"Are you serious?" asked Alexis.
"Yes," said Spiderman, slightly peeved, "Why? Do you have a better idea?"
"Yes. Why don't we go to New York right now? You can make the potion, and then bring it back. That way, we won't need to deal with transporting Lizard there."
"But, it'll take hours to get to New York. We have to capture Lizard first, so he can't hurt anyone!"
"What would you say if I told you I can get you to New York in twenty minutes?"
Spiderman stared at her for a moment. "How?"
"I'll show you," she said, grabbing Spiderman's wrist and leading him to the window. She carried him into the air, and up to the roof of the Penn Tower Hotel. She set him down on his feet, and then landed beside him.
"Well, what're you going to show me?" he asked, folding his arms.
"The Eaglezord," she said, grinning beneath her helmet. She raised her arm to the sun. "Eaglezord... power up!"
Spiderman stared as he saw a large flash of purple light. Then, a gargantuan machine, elegantly designed as a bald eagle, descended from the heavens. It was purple and silver, with eyes of gold. The beak opened slowly, and the Purple Ranger once again took Spiderman's hand.
"All aboard!" she said, as the two young heroes sailed into the beak, and into the bridge of the ship. There was only one seat, surrounded by all sorts of control panels. The Purple Ranger sat down in her seat, and pressed a button.
"Eaglezord," she said, "I need a passenger seat."
^Creating passenger seat,^ said the computer. Spiderman was startled to see an identical purple leather seat appear beside the Purple Ranger's. He sat down cautiously, as if expecting it to be a hologram. The seat belt automatically strapped around his waist.
"Comfy?" she asked him.
"Yeah," he said, "Nice plane."
"Its a Zord," Alexis corrected him, "Eaglezord, start up thrusters, and prepare for travel mode."
"Where are we going?" Alexis asked Spiderman.
"Eastern State University campus," Spiderman said into the intercom, "in New York City."
^ETA: Eighteen minutes. Coordinates locked.^
"Then let's get going!" said Alexis, sitting back in her seat. The magnificent Eaglezord then screeched loudly, and flew across the afternoon skies in a streak of purple.