High in the clear blue sky of New York City, the silver and purple battle machine dubbed the Eaglezord slowed to a halt. During the entire trip from Philadelphia to New York City, the zord flew so quickly that it appeared to be a streak of light gliding high above the Earth. Now, it hovered about a kilometer off the ground, directly above the campus of Eastern State University.
"We're staying up here?" Spiderman asked.
"Well, its easier than parking," the Purple Ranger responded, unstrapping her seatbelt, "Besides, its far less conspicuous way up here. The Eaglezord can hover as long as it needs to. And how long could it possibly take for you to whip up another vial of that antidote?"
"Hopefully not too long," Spiderman answered, standing up from his seat, "But since we're so high off the ground, how do we get down? Fly?"
"We could, but I'd rather just teleport."
"Teleport?" Spiderman asked skeptically. Alexis nodded, and pressed a few buttons on the main console.
"I'll teleport us to the roof of the building directly below us," she explained, "That way, we won't have to worry about being spotted. Hang on."
Alexis pressed the final button, and the two heroes vanished in streaks of purple and red light. At just about the same time, they rematerialized on the roof of College Hall, the building that housed the offices of a number of ESU staff members.
"Okay, where to?" she asked, turning to Spiderman. Spiderman walked over to the edge of the roof, and peered into the distance.
"The lab is on the northwest corner of campus," he explained, "We'll web-sling over."
"Web-sling?" Alexis asked, "Why don't I just fly us over?"
"No offense, but flying is a little too conspicuous. The people here are used to seeing me sling across the city, so they won't suspect anything. But when they see a being flying around , leaving a purple streak of energy, then curiosities will be piqued. And I can sling almost as fast as you fly."
"But, how do I 'web-sling'?"
"Hang onto my back."
Although her face was masked by her helmet, Spiderman could tell she was a little apprehensive. "Hey, I trusted you to carry me around when we were flying in Philly. Now we're in New York, and so you have to follow my lead."
Alexis nodded, and wrapped her arms around Spiderman's neck. Then, Spiderman pointed his web-shooter at a neighboring building, and the liquid immediately solidified to a long vine of webbing. Spiderman and the Purple Ranger swung on the vine, and Spiderman continued to manufacture new ones until the pair landed on the grass just outside the laboratory. Spiderman glanced around quickly, to make sure there weren't any people around.
"Okay," he whispered, "we're entering the lab via the window. Hopefully, there won't be anyone inside. Since Doctor Conners took his assistants with him, there probably won't be anyone in the Neogenics wing."
"That's logical," she answered, as she watched Spiderman climb up the outside wall of the lab. Once he reached the top floor window, he pulled it open easily, and climbed inside. He then waved at Alexis, who flew into the open window. She landed just beyond the window, and gazed in awe at the laboratory. It was filled with complex machinery whose function she could never comprehend, along with a sophisticated station for chemical experiments, cages with lab rats, and a main computer with external imaging capacities. On the whole, it greatly reminded her of the Command Center.
"Okay," said Spiderman, sitting down at the computer and turning it on, "I'll need to access Doc Conners' personal files, so I can find the exact ingredients to the potion. I just hope we've got all the chemicals needed here in the lab."
"Is there anything I can do?" Alexis asked, standing behind Spiderman.
"Not yet," he answered, tapping away on the keyboard. Alexis watched curiously as Spiderman accessed the hard drive of the computer, as well as the personal files of Doctor Conners. That required having three passwords-- the one to access the hard drive, the one for opening the Neogenics file, and finally Doctor Conners' personal code, for his documents. It only took Spiderman about five minutes to get into the system, find the file he was searching for, and print it out. He then stood up, grabbed the printed pages, and headed to the chemistry station. As she watched, Spiderman pulled out various chemicals from cabinets all over the lab, and assembled them on the lab table. She shook her head.
"I take it you and Doctor Conners are good friends," she said. Spiderman stopped his work and looked up at his partner.
"Why do you say that?"
"You know your way around this lab like you live here!" she replied, "And you even knew Conners' passwords."
"The Doc trusted me with his passwords, because I'm the only person, other than his family, that knows he's the Lizard. So that basically makes me the one responsible for turning him back into a human being, which includes being able to access the systems of his lab."
"And you're a scientist in your own right?"
"Sort of," said Spiderman, carefully pouring a measure of powdered chemical into a flask of a liquid chemical, "I guess science is something of a hobby of mine. Its really helpful in the superhero biz."
"You sound alot like my friend the Blue Ranger," Alexis said, "Science was always his greatest love."
"So," said Spiderman, "why aren't you with the other Power Rangers in California?"
"Personal problems," she said, "I was needed in Philadelphia, and so I came. I'm just glad I was able to remain a Power Ranger, and serve society in my own way."
"That's noble. In my case, there were many times that I wished I wasn't a superhero."
Alexis was startled by this revelation. "Why would you ever want to give this up?"
"Because," he answered sternly, "with great power comes great responsibility. And I've learned a few hard lessons about that responsibility. When you're a hero, your life isn't your own. You are constantly protecting those around you, giving up whatever private life you may have strived for. And your efforts aren't always appreciated. Sure, there are people who truly appreciate the work we do, but many belittle what we do. And if we ever fail... then we have to live with the guilt and the blame. And neither truly goes away completely."
"Wow," said Alexis quietly, "that's sobering."
"I'm not trying to discourage you," Spiderman said truthfully, "I just wanted to let you know some hard facts. Being a superhero isn't about glory, its about self-sacrifice. Still, the rewards are truly worth the price. They aren't material rewards, but you can really relish the idea that, even though many other don't know it, you are making a difference. When you save a life, you feel proud of the fact that this one person can go on living because of what you did. That's a fantastic feeling."
"Virtue is its own reward," Alexis quoted. Spiderman nodded.
"That's why it takes a special person to be a hero. Everyone would love to have powers, that set them apart from the rest of humanity. But being a hero means risking your life on a regular basis, and not getting medals of honor, or grand appreciation, or anything like that. If you can't see the rewards in the eyes of the people whose lives you saved, then superheroing wouldn't be worth the price."
"If you had the chance to give it up, would you?" Alexis asked. Spiderman stopped his work to consider the question.
"No," he said finally, "After being a hero once, it would be tough to just leave it all behind. Besides, I know I'm making a difference. What I do really matters. Its become a major part of who I am."
"It sounds like you've been a superhero forever!" Alexis marvelled. Spiderman shook his head. "Actually, I'm not much older than you are."
Alexis stared at Spiderman. "How do you know how old I am?"
"You sound like a teenager," Spiderman said, smiling beneath his mask, "I'd wager either high school or college, between sixteen and nineteen. I'm in my early twenties, and I've been a hero for a few years. This job matures a person really quickly."
Alexis nodded, absorbing the advice this seasoned professional offered her.
"Okay," Spiderman said, holding up two test tubes of potion, "its ready. I've made two doses, just in case one of them is broken, or if one dose isn't enough. The Lizard is even more powerful now than the first time, which may mean a more powerful antidote may be in order. Here-- I'll carry one and you carry the other."
Spiderman tossed a capped vial to the Purple Ranger, who caught it with her quick reflexes. Suddenly, it vanished from sight in a flash of purple light. Spiderman stared at her in surprise.
"What?" she asked, noticing his confusion.
"Where did you put the test tube?"
"Oh, in the pocket dimension we Power Rangers have access to. Its where we keep our weapons, and other assorted items. Its easier than carrying it around, isn't it? I can summon it back to reality with a thought."
To demonstrate this, Alexis held out her hand. The vial appeared in another flash of light, completely intact. Spiderman shook his head.
"You Power Rangers certainly have a number of abilities at your disposal."
"Yeah, I guess we do," she replied, willing the vial to vanish once again, "That's what happens when you combine magic with science."
Spiderman just accepted her statement without further explanation, and headed to the window. "I guess we'd better fly over to the ship," he said, "Then we can hunt down the Lizard. Hopefully, we can clear up this whole mess by sundown. It'll be much harder to find him at night, and nighttime is when lizards go on the hunt."
The Purple Ranger cringed at the thought. "We'll teleport to the Eaglezord," she said, holding out her hand. Spiderman took her hand, and Alexis guided their teleport to the cockpit of the Eaglezord. .
* * *
"Okay," said the Purple Ranger, glancing down at Philadelphia from the vantage point of the top of the Penn Tower Hotel, "how do we find the Lizard?"
"That's a good question," Spiderman replied, shaking his head, "Philadelphia is a big city, and he's been out of sight for twelve hours. He could be anywhere! I should've tabbed him with a Spider-tracer last night, before he got away. Then our job would be much easier today."
"You've fought him before," Alexis noted, turning around to face her partner, "Where does the Lizard usually go? You said he hunts in the nightttime, so what does he do during the day?"
"I'd think he'd hide out," said Spiderman, tapping his chin, "especially since he was wounded. But that just makes him even harder to track down."
"Too bad we don't have police dogs," Alexis commented, "They'd be able to track down his scent easily enough. He reeked!"
"Scent!" Spiderman cried, snapping his fingers, "That's it! Follow me!"
With that, Spiderman stepped off the side, and crawled to the ground. The Alexis shrugged and leapt into the air, allowing her Mercury wings to slow her descent. She hovered right beside Spiderman, and kept up with him as both grew closer to the ground below.
"So you have an idea?" Alexis asked.
"Last night, when we fought him, you mentioned that he stank," Spiderman recounted, "That was the smell of the sewers. Lizard must've hid in the sewer! Its a perfect way to get across town without being spotted."
"How do you know what the sewer smells like?" Alexis asked, dreading the answer.
"Because the last time I fought the Lizard, that's where he established his hideout. I'll bet that's what he's doing this time around."
Then, Spiderman leapt to the street once he was close enough. He glanced around the busy streets, being sure not to be seen by any passersby. Then, he spotted what he was looking for-- a manhole.
"Come on," he said, walking towards the street. He kneeled on the asphalt, and ran his fingers over the manhole cover. "Do you see this?" he asked, pointing at the manhole. Alexis noticed deep claw marks on the sides of the iron.
"The Lizard must've pried the cover off. So this is his point of entry."
"You got it," said Spiderman, gripping the cover on both sides. He pulled the circular piece of metal out, revealing a dark hole in the street. Alexis frowned beneath her helmet.
"So we're going into the sewers?" she asked apprehensively. Spiderman nodded, and let his legs dangle in the dark hole.
"Hey, its a dirty job, but someone has to do it!"
With that, Spiderman leapt into the all-consuming darkness. Alexis waited a few moments, and then followed. "Wow," she said, looking through the darkness, "Even my helmet's nightvision function can cut through this pea-soup."
"That's not a problem," said Spiderman. Suddenly, the chamber was filled with a pale yellow light, exuding from Spiderman's waist.
"A belt-buckle flashlight?" Alexis marvelled, "You're certainly equipped."
"Like I said, this isn't my first trip to the dark underbelly of a big city," he said, stepping forward into a tunnel, "Let's try this way first."
"Why this way?" Alexis asked, following him.
"Because this is west, which is in the direction of High Rise South, where we fought him last night. If he had already established a base before he attacked us, then it would be in this direction."
After walking in silence for a few minutes, a question popped into the Purple Ranger's head. "How do we know when we get close?"
"My Spider-sense will warn me," he responded.
"Yeah. Its a sixth sense, alerting me that I'm in danger. Its like a tingling feeling in the back of my head. Hasn't let me down yet."
Suddenly, that self-same tingle began in Spiderman's head. He stopped in his tracks as a flash of light momentarily clouded his vision. That light quickly faded, and Spiderman's eyes widened behind his mask. Quickly, he spun around, and tackled the Purple Ranger to the ground. At the same time, a blur of green streaked above their heads, and landed a few feet away. Both heroes scrambled to their feet as a ferocious roar shook the underground tunnels. The Lizard has found its prey.
"Stay sharp, Purple," Spiderman warned, leaping out of the way of a deadly swing of Lizard's mighty tail, "There isn't a whole lotta room to maneuvre."
"You telling me!" she gasped flipping as Lizard slashed at her waist. She somersaulted into the air, and plowed her heel into the Lizard's head. She then pushed off the Lizard, flipping backwards and landing on her feet. The Lizard was stunned by this attack, but he recovered quickly, and shook his head clear. Spiderman took advantage of Lizard's momentary distraction by wrapping the latter's feet in webbing. The Lizard fell to the ground once again, and Spiderman proceeded to web his claws and arms to limit mobility.
"I'll hold 'im!" Spiderman yelled, "You give him the antidote!"
"I'm on it!" Alexis answered, the test tube appearing in her hand in a flash of purple light. She ran to the monster, uncorking the bottle along the way. Once she reached Lizard, Spiderman held its snout open while she poured the contents of the tube into its mouth. But before he could drink the entire dosage, the Lizard clamped his jaws shut, forcing Spiderman to let go. Then it swung its head around, smacking away the test tube. Alexis watched helplessly as the glass tube crashed into the nearby wall, shattering into tiny glass shards while spilling the remaining potion into the waters of the sewers. She turned back around, and was caught by surprise when Lizard grabbed her by the neck with both clawed hands. She struggled against him, and Spiderman leapt onto his back, trying to force the monster to release her. Finally, Lizard tossed Alexis through the wall with all his might, and shook Spiderman off. Spiderman also crashed into a concrete wall, and fought to stay conscious. He saw the Lizard hold his head, and quake slightly.
_Is the potion finally taking its effect?_ he thought dazedly, trying to rise to his feet. But the Lizard quickly recovered, and surveyed his situation. Spiderman was staggering on his feet, and the Purple Ranger hadn't moved since she crashed through the wall. The Lizard turned to Spiderman, his reptilian eyes narrowed.
"Do not toy with me, Spiderman," he rumbled, "I am by far your superior in all aspects."
With that, Lizard ran off into the tunnel. Spiderman quickly reached into his belt, and tossed a small metallic spider at Lizard. The spider caught the tail of the torn lab coat Lizard was wearing. Spiderman smiled, and leaned against the wall to recover his balance.
_Was it my imagination, or did the Lizard's voice soften a bit?_ he thought, _It sounded more like Doc Conners. And why didn't he just kill me? The Lizard hates me enough. Could the potion have somehow unlocked some of Doc Conners' personality? The dose we gave wasn't enough to transform him completely, but it did have an effect._
Spiderman stood up, and jogged over to the hole in the wall where the Purple Ranger was thrown earlier. He glanced inside the hole, and saw her lying unmoving amidst a pile of concrete chunks. He quickly kneeled beside her, and began digging her out of the concrete prison. Once he freed her, he moved to remove her helmet. But he hesitated.
_She has a secret identity, and I don't have the right to compromise it. But, what if she's not breathing? How can I help her?_
Spiderman gently shook Alexis by grabbing onto her shoulders. "Hey, are you okay, Purple?"
Alexis stirred, and her eyes opened beneath her helmet. "What hit me?" she whispered.
"The wall," Spiderman responded, standing up, "Do you think you can walk?"
"No problem," she said, slowly rising to her feet, "Where's the Lizard? Did he get away?"
"Yes and no," Spiderman answered, pulling out a small device from his belt. It looked like a calculator with a large screen.
"What's that?" she asked, glancing over his shoulder.
"Its a tracking device. After the Lizard tossed you through the wall, he threw me into another wall. Then, he retreated. I couldn't follow him, so I tagged him with one of my Spider-tracers. Now we can follow him, no matter where he goes."
"Great!" said Alexis, "So let's get going! I'm ready for round two!"
"Not yet, Partner," said Spiderman, taking the second tube of formula from his belt, "We already gave Lizard some of this potion, but he broke loose before he swallowed the whole dosage. About how much did he ingest?"
"I'd say... a little more than half the tube," Alexis recalled, "Why? Did it have an effect?"
"I think it did. It took a few minutes, but his voice was less raspy then before, and for some reason, after both of us were stunned, he didn't decide to finish us off. He just warned me to lay off. Now Lizard has no mercy, so its hard for me to believe he didn't kill me when he had a chance. Unless somehow, part of Doc Conners was able to assert itself, and restrain Lizard's animal instincts. So the potion did something. But I doubt it'll be enough to completely reverse the transformation."
"So what's our next step?" asked Alexis, sitting down on a large concrete chunk.
Spiderman paced along the ground, rubbing his chin. "We have another tube of the chemical," he said, staring at the tube in his hand, "This this approximately twice the amount he has ingested so far. I originally planned on giving him one full dosage of potion. If we give him the rest of this tube, he'd have ingested one and a half doses, and that may be dangerous. So we have to make sure to give him only half the tube. We need to divide the rest of it."
"Then we need another test tube," said Alexis, "Come on, let's get outta this place."
"Good idea," said Spiderman, as the two heroes hurried out of the sewers. .
* * *
Atop an apartment building near the University of Pennsylvania campus, Spiderman waited rather impatiently, holding the remaining tube of Conners' antidote in one hand, and his computerized tracer in the other. He watched the screen intently, following the small red dot. Spiderman grimaced.
_He's close,_ he thought, glancing down at the city below him, _He's about a quarter of a mile northeast from here. Purple Ranger better hurry up!_
Just then, the Purple Ranger flew onto the roof of the building, holding what looked like a silver and purple watch in her hand.
"Sorry it took me so long," she said, "but I couldn't find my communicator. I haven't used it since I left Calfornia, and that was months ago."
"What will that do?" Spiderman asked.
"Instead of getting a glass test tube from somewhere, I'm going to ask my mentor to give us a better one."
"How long will that take?"
"Not long at all," she answered, turning on the communicator. "Zordon? This is the Purple Ranger. Do you read me?"
After a few moments of silence, there was an answer at the other end.
^HOW ARE YOU, PURPLE RANGER? WE HAVE NOT HEARD FROM YOU IN A WHILE.^
"I'm doing fine, but my friend and I need some help. Could you possibly teleport two unbreakable test tubes to my coordinates? Its an emergency."
Seconds later, two new crystal test tubes appeared in the Purple Ranger's hand.
^DO YOU AND YOUR ALLY NEED THE ASSISTANCE OF THE REMAINING POWER RANGERS?^
Alexis thought about if for a moment. "Nah, I think we can handle it. Thanks for the offer, though. Goodbye."
^MAY THE POWER PROTECT YOU BOTH.^
Alexis turned off the communicator, and it vanished from her hands.
"Let me guess," Spiderman said, "You stored it in that pocket dimension of yours."
"For now, at least," she answered, handing him one of the tubes, "Will this do?"
Spiderman took the tube, and examined it carefully. He then tapped it with his fingertips. "What are these made of?" he asked her, "They don't seem different from normal glass."
"Glass is too fragile. I think its some kind of alien crystal that's much more shatter-resistent. Hopefully, they won't break."
Spiderman nodded, and poured about half the contents of his vial into one crystal tube. Then he sealed it, and poured the remaining potion into the other tube. Then, he sealed the second one, and placed it into his belt. Alexis took the other tube, and stored it in her pocket dimension.
"So what do we do next?" Alexis asked as Spiderman picked up his small computer.
"We go hunting," he answered, watching the sun slowly dip below the horizon. .
* * *
Its early Saturday evening in Philadelphia, and many of the UPenn students walk in groups to one of the many restaurants on or near campus for dinner. In the heart of the campus is Locust Walk, a walkway lined with trees still decorated with Christmas lights, class buildings, libraries, and fraternity and sorority houses. As the unwary students walk along, talking about various topics, none are aware of the creature hiding within a patch of bushes along the side of the Annenberg Center, only yards away from the Walk. That creature is about six and a half feet tall, with a powerful tail, rather sharp claws and fangs, and pale green skin. The creature sniffs about the air, and grins slightly when it chooses its prey-- a rather large, athletic looking student. But before the creature could pounce, something forced him back. It was his conscience.
_I... I can't do it!_ he thought, _I can't kill him! But I am a hunter and he is my prey. I must kill him to ensure my survival. But I just can't..._
Before the Lizard could think anymore about it, twin vines of sticky white material wrapped around his arms and torso, pulling him out off the bushes. Lizard looked up, and saw Spiderman crouched on the wall above, still holding the webs with his hands. Spiderman began swaying the Lizard back and forth, until the latter was swinging like a pendulum. Once enough momentum was built, Spiderman let go, sending the Lizard flying onto the tiled floor of the courtyard of Annenberg Center. The Lizard skidded along ground, still slippery from the snow that fell the previous night, and crashed into a wooden bench, reducing it to splinters. Spiderman somersaulted into the air, and landed gracefully on the snow, his hands planted on his hips. Beside him, the Purple Ranger slowly descended to the ground.
"You're not feeding on anyone tonight, Lizard," Spiderman said authoritatively.
"Not on our watch," Alexis added.
The Lizard grumbled as he rose to his feet cautiously. His claws dug into the snow, grabbing the ground beneath securely. Alexis studied the form of her opponent curiously.
"Does he look shorter to you, or is it just the lighting?" she asked Spiderman.
"He is shorter," Spiderman noted, "by at least half a foot. And his skin is paler, and it looks like his reptilian speed and agility have been weakened as well. The potion we gave him has reversed some of the lizard transformation, but its not done yet. He's still more 'Lizard' than he is 'Kurt Conners'. Hopefully another dose of the antidote will fix that. Did you make sure the arena's secure?"
"Yeah," Alexis answered, "A few tree trunks are separating the courtyard from Locust Walk. Students will hear what's happening, but they won't see anything. And they won't be able to get in the way."
"Good," Spiderman said, "You hold Lizard down, and I'll administer my vial. If that still isn't enough, then I'll hold him, while you give him the rest. Hopefully, that'll be enough to completely reverse the transformation."
"What if its not?" asked Alexis.
"It had better be," Spiderman replied, leaping into the air. Lizard saw Spiderman flying towards him, and he swung his tail around. Spiderman collided with the tail, and crashed into a snow bank along the side of the courtyard.
"Home run," Lizard rumbled with laughter, "Lizard one, superheroes zero."
"And now the Purple Ranger's at the mound!" Alexis cried, holding her palms about six inches apart. Sparks of faint purple energy streamed from her inclined fingertips into a focal point between her hands, and it built until it formed a ball of swirling purple energy. Alexis then pulled her hands to her side, and slowly brought the heels of her hands together. She then trust her hands out at Lizard, sending the sphere of energy flying through the crisp night air. The energy streaked at Lizard too quickly for him to respond. It struck him in the abdomen, exploding on contact. The Lizard was thrown forcefully into the side of the building, striking his head. He slumped to the ground, his reptilian eyes shut tight.
"You're out!" Alexis cried, running to where Spiderman had landed. He was sitting up, painfully rubbing his chest, where the Lizard's tail had hit him.
"I'm fine," Spiderman said before Alexis could even ask, "Where's the Lizard?"
Alexis pointed to the Lizard, who was already regaining consciousness. Spiderman rose to his feet, and the two heroes bounded towards their fallen opponent before he could recover completely. Spiderman wrapped him in webbing en route, and once he reached the Lizard, he already had the test tube open. This time, the Purple Ranger held his mouth open, and Spiderman poured the entire contents of the vial into his mouth. The Lizard's eyes opened wide, and suddenly the green reptilian eyes took on a more human look, with the green turning white and a circle of brown surrounding the pupils. The Lizard roared in pain as his tail slowly receeded, as did his claws and snout. Spiderman and the Purple Ranger both stepped back, watching quietly as the Lizard returned to his human form. Alexis watched with mute awe as Doctor Conners collapsed onto the snow beneath him, breathing heavily and sweat soaking the torn remains of his outfit. Spiderman quickly lifted his head from the snow gently.
"Are you okay, Doc?" he asked.
"Spiderman?" Conners whispered hoarsely, "I'm so sorry... but I couldn't control the Lizard. He was even stronger this time..."
"Don't worry about it," said Alexis, leaning over into Conners' field of vision, "it wasn't your fault. Fortunately, the Lizard didn't do anything drastic. You're going to be okay."
"Who are you?" Conners asked the unfamiliar heroine.
"I'm the Purple Ranger," she answered, "Philadelphia's protectress. Pleased to meet you."
Conners smiled at both heroes. "Thank you so much," he whispered, before passing out.
"Will he be okay?" Alexis asked, as Spiderman lifted the unconscious doctor off the snow.
"He's just exhausted," Spiderman replied, "We need to get him out of the cold. We also need to come up with a cover story."
"That's true," said Alexis, "Everyone knows Conners was mysteriously kidnapped. What do we say?"
"Its up to you," Spiderman answered, "Maybe your alien enemy kidnapped him for some reason. But make sure to keep Spiderman out of it."
"Why?" she asked, startled.
"Because Spiderman is a New York hero. I came here to keep an eye on Doc Conners, but no one else knows he's the Lizard. If I mysteriously appear in Philly, people will be asking questions."
"That makes sense," said Alexis, "I guess I'll take him to his hotel."
"Good idea," Spiderman agreed, placing Conners in the Purple Ranger's arms, "but try to keep away from the press. They'll probably ask you a lot of annoying questions. Maybe you can go tell your story to Conners' assistants. I think their names are Peter Parker and Deborah Whitman. They'll convey what you said to the reporters, but you'll be safe from that media insanity."
"You really know how to deal with the press," Alexis marvelled. Spiderman shrugged.
"It comes with the territory," he responded, pointing his web shooter at the top of Annenberg Center, "Thanks for all your help, Purple Ranger. I couldn't have done it without you."
Alexis beamed behind her helmet, "Thanks. Do you need a lift to New York? I can take you in the Eaglezord."
"Nah. I can get back on my own. Thanks for the offer."
Alexis waved as Spiderman fired his webbing , and swung on the vine into the night. After he was gone, her Mercury wings began to flap, and Alexis and Doctor Conners were airborne, heading towards the Penn Tower Hotel. .
* * *
Spiderman quietly leapt into the window of his hotel room, which he purposely left open. He quickly pulled off his mask and uniform, exchanging his Spiderman attire for that of Peter Parker. He also grabbed his camera, and wound a fresh roll of film onto it.
_I only got one shot of the Purple Ranger,_ Peter thought, _and that was when I first me her, and I blinded her with the flash. I doubt it'll come out cleanly. Hopefully, though, I'll get another chance, as Peter Parker._
Just then, there was a knock on his bedroom door. He closed the back of his camera, and laid it on his dresser. He then quickly hid the Spiderman costume in his drawer, and opened the door.
"Hey Deb," he greeted.
"Don't give me that," Deborah Whitman snarled, walking into his bedroom, "Where have you been all day, Peter?"
"What do you mean?" Peter asked innocently, "I was here!"
"Sure you were," she said sarcastically, "I was banging on your door for twenty minutes this afternoon, when the police came to ask us more questions. I even tried to unlock the door with the key from downstairs, but it was bolted."
"Well, if the door was bolted, then how could I not be in my room?" Peter asked with a grin, "After all, you can only bolt the door from the inside."
Deborah was about to continue yelling, but she stopped short to consider this. She then glanced at the open window, and her eyebrow rose.
Peter followed her gaze, and chuckled slightly at the idea he knew she had. "Come on, Deb. How would I get anywhere from the window? We're like a mile off the ground! Who do you think I am? Spiderman?"
Deborah frowned. "Why is the window open?"
"Because I was hot," Peter answered coolly, "Any more questions?"
Deborah was at a loss for words, and walked over to the window. She glanced down at the ground, which was extremely far away. She sighed.
"Okay, Peter, you're right," she said, still looking out the window, "But I don't understand why you didn't--"
Deborah stopped in mid sentence, and gasped as she gazed directly in front of her. Peter ran towards her, and looked outside. His hazel eyes widened when he saw a purple armored warrior, carrying the unconscious Kurt Conners in her arms.
"Deborah Whitman, I presume?" the Purple Ranger asked the blonde woman. She nodded mutely. "And... Peter Parker?"
"Yeah," said Peter, "And you must be the Purple Knight?"
"Purple Ranger," she corrected, "May I come in?"
Both students nodded, and moved away from the window. Alexis sailed through the window, and lay Conners on Peter's unmade bed. Both Deborah and Peter hurried to their professor's bedside.
"What happened to him?" Deborah asked, looking up at the Purple Ranger.
"He was kidnapped by the evil aliens we Power Rangers always fight against," Alexis answered, "Fortunately, I managed to save him before they could use his genius to their advantage."
"He was kidnapped by aliens?" Deborah asked skeptically. Alexis looked down at her.
"Yes he was."
"That explains how he was kidnapped through the window," Peter said, "The aliens probably flew into the room."
"Actually, they teleported," Alexis corrected, "which is why the glass was broken from the inside. The alien being teleported into the room, and fired an energy beam at the doctor, in an attempt to stun him. The doctor dodged, which is why the beam struck the window instead, shattering it. But the alien got the doctor in the end, and teleported him away."
"And he's okay now?" Deborah asked.
"He should be," Alexis said, "but he probably won't remember what happened to him. He was unconscious most of the time."
"Thanks so much, Purple Ranger," Peter said, extending his hand, "You saved Doctor Conners' life."
Alexis shook the young man's hand, and walked back towards the window. "Take care of him," she said before stepping onto the windowsill.
"Wait!" Peter called, grabbing his camera from his dresser, "Um, before you go, do you mind if I get your photo?"
Alexis turned to him. "Well, I'd like to steer clear from the media-- no offense of course..."
"I'm a photographer for New York's Daily Bugle," Peter explained, "and my boss'll kill me if I don't get a shot of you! Its the only reason he let me come to Philly to help out Doctor Conners."
"Well, I guess one photo wouldn't hurt. But could you do me a favor?"
"Tell everyone that I'm the Purple _Ranger_. All this Purple Knight stuff is getting on my nerves."
"You got it," said Peter with a smile, "Do you mind if I get a shot of you flying?" .
* * *
A week later, Peter Parker strolled into the J3 Communications building in New York City. He had a wide grin on his face, knowing full well that he'd done an excellent job. He had in his hand last Sunday's Daily Bugle, which featured an article on the Purple Ranger's daring rescue of Doctor Kurt Conners from mysterious magical villains. Of course, many people were skeptical of that statement, since they didn't believe in aliens. But there were many more who accepted the article, knowing about the super-powered beings that exist in the world and beyond. Also on the front page was a large, bold color photograph of the Purple Ranger herself, hovering in the dark night sky with stars glittering in the background, and her ankle wings shimmering with purple energy. It was a perfectly composed photograph, and an excellent article to boot. And both were submitted by Peter.
After he had taken those photographs of the Purple Ranger, he begged the University of Pennsylvania president Judith Rodin if he could use the school's photography facilities to develop his film. Since he was a guest, Doctor Rodin gave him permission, and Peter immediately developed the film. He then went to the University's library, and spent hours typing the story about what happened. Then, he scanned the photographs of the Purple Ranger onto the computer, and attached both the article and the photograph onto an e-mail to J. Jonah Jameson, entitled "Stop the Presses!!" Needless to say, that article did stop the presses, and it appeared on the front page the following morning. The Daily Bugle had the most complete story of Doctor Conners' abduction and the Purple Ranger, along with the only photograph of the heroine, Sunday morning. Jameson was, for a change, impressed by Peter's work. And so he e-mailed the young photographer Sunday morning, asking him to pay him a visit as soon as he got back to New York. And now, only about an hour after touching down at JFK airport, Peter is sitting outside the office of the business tycoon.
"Go ahead in," Trixie said, "JJ's ready for you."
Peter smiled at the secretary, and then entered the office. He found Jameson sitting at his desk, a wide grin on his face.
"Peter!" he greeted, "So good to see you! How was your trip to Philadelphia?"
"Eventful," Peter responded, taking a seat.
"And I trust Doctor Conners got the grant?"
"Yeah, he did. UPenn was happy to help fund the Doc's reseach-- especially since it attracted the attention of aliens."
"And Conners is fully recovered?"
"Yeah, he's as good as new."
"Wonderful. Peter, I wanted to congratulate you. You finally came through, and you sent me the photograph the entire nation is desperate for. How did you do it?"
"A little luck, I guess," Peter said, "And me being a friend of Doc Conners sure helped things. The Purple Ranger didn't like the idea of being photographed."
"I'll be honest with you, Parker," Jameson said, standing up, "I didn't think you could do it. I thought you're only good for one thing-- taking pictures of that nuissance Spiderman. But you proved me wrong, boy. And so, I'm giving you a bonus. Good work, Kid."
"Thanks Mr. Jameson!" Peter said, shaking his hand.
* * *
In Philadelphia, Alexis grins as she re-reads the Daily Bugle article she printed off the web the other day. She knew that Peter Parker worked for the Daily Bugle, so she checked the Bugle website. To her surprise, on the front cover was the photograph Peter had taken of her, along with a precise, and somewhat flattering, article.
"Its a shame Spiderman didn't get any credit," she said aloud, "He did even more than I did to save Doctor Conners. I guess that's what he meant when he said that fame isn't the true reward. He was more concerned with Doctor Conners' secret being kept than his own fame and glory. He's a true hero. I'm so glad I got the chance to work with him. I really think I learned alot!"
Just then, the telephone rang. Alexis picked up the receiver on her desk.
^Hey, Red,^ came a familiar voice. Alexis' eyes widened in surprise and elation.
"Jason! How are you? I haven't spoken to you in so long!"
^Things've been a bit crazy in Geneva, but when I saw that Daily Bugle article, I had to contact you!^
"You saw the article?" she asked in surprise.
^Yeah. One of the sessions we had today dealt with the fact that a possible invasion of Earth by aliens is one impetus for world peace. You know, to create a united front against a global threat? And to show the possibility of aliens attacking Earth, the professor showed us the article about the Purple Ranger saving that doctor from aliens. What's happened to you?^
"I hope you don't have anything immediate to do," said Alexis, lying down on her bed, "because this is one heck of a long story!"