* * *
Rocky slammed flat on his back on the mat.
Billy and Adam, watching from a few feet away, winced.
It was a normal, everyday Angel Grove afternoon. The sun was shining, the teenagers were cheerful, and the reconstruction of the downtown area was under way. In the Angel Grove Gym and Juice Bar, a sextuplet of ordinary-looking juveniles relaxed. Of course, they were ordinary-looking only by Angel Grove standards; which is to say, they were either doe-eyed, svelte fashion plates or rock-solid studs with a tendency towards the muscled end of the spectrum.
What distinguished Tommy, Kimberly, Billy, Rocky, Adam, and Aisha from all the other teens convocating in the Juice Bar was that they were superheroes. Not that anyone knew that, of course.
"Nice move, Tommy." said Rocky pleasantly as Tommy helped him up.
"Hey, thanks." said Tommy, feinting at Rocky. "So... what do you want to do today?"
"Uh, I dunno." said Rocky, blocking Tommy and aiming a kick at his midsection. "I think Billy wants to go by the library, right, Billy?..."
"Yeah," agreed Billy.
"Kimberly, too." said Tommy, ducking.
"Yeah, the new Vogue is in!" Kimberly said happily.
"And then of course, we gotta go shopping." said Aisha.
"How about mini golf?" Adam wondered as Tommy helped Rocky up again.
"Yeah, that sounds good, but knowing us, we'll probably end up fighting Zedd, Putties, save the world, maybe help someone with a little self-esteem problem..." said Tommy. "And end up at the juice bar, like always. Why?" Suddenly, he grinned at Rocky.
"Oh no-" said Rocky.
Whoosh, "Not agaaaaaa-"
Thud! "-oof!" Rocky gasped. He remained on the floor, waving away Tommy's helping hand, and laid there for a second, running through the complicated move in his mind.
When he opened his eyes, ready for anything, Rocky saw an out-of-focus close-up of a pair of curvy, retro, white high heels. Tiny white rhinestones embedded in the shoes sparkled in his eyes. Think stiletto crossed with elevator, Rocky thought, then shook his head harder.
Still a bit dazed, Rocky sat up halfway and aimed his gaze higher. He saw white leggings, a simple short-sleeved, scoop-necked dress made of a reflective, shimmery material like white silk, and creamy marble skin. The girl looking down at him was blonde, hair brush-cut in a short, almost military 'do. Cats-eye glasses with flashy rhinestone frames accentuated watery blue eyes.
The new arrival paused for a moment, looking down at Rocky. "Hi." she said shyly.
"Hi." said Rocky, awed.
"Uh... Can I give you a hand?" she asked, sweetly.
"Uh... sure." said Rocky hopefully.
She clapped, two fists full of rhinestone rings clashing discordantly. "Nice fall." she said sarcastically, and walked on to the bar. "Coke, on the rocks." the Rangers heard her order distantly. "...and make it snappy."
"I don't get it." said Adam.
"Wow." said Tommy, summing up the group's thoughts succinctly. "Who is she?"
"I think the question is, what is she?" stated Billy.
"I'll say this... she sure knows how to accessorize!" said Aisha.
"White shoes after Labor Day?" Kim shook her head sadly.
"I think I'm in love." said Rocky, slack-jawed.
"Hey... she's coming back!" Adam freaked. And she was.
"Excuse me." said the girl in white, lips pursed as she sipped her Coke through a straw. She tapped Tommy's chest with a clawlike, pearlescent, rhinestone-embellished fingernail. "You're Tommy Oliver, aren't you?"
The Rangers looked as one to their fearless leader.
"Er..." Tommy said fearfully.
"Tommy!" hissed Adam.
"Oh! Right. That's me." said Tommy. "Uh. What can I do for you?"
"I... need your help." the mysterious stranger stated. Her cynical, crimson-coated mouth seemed to be frozen in a permanent smirk.
"Well, uh, what can we do for you?" Tommy asked very helpfully and somewhat confusedly.
"Well..." the strange girl said softly, looking at the Rangers over the tops of her glasses, "It's like this... I-" Suddenly, Tommy's communicator beeped. The Rangers flinched and exchanged anguished glances.
"Is something wrong?" the blonde asked, arching an eyebrow.
"Uh, no..." Tommy said hastily. "I just remembered, uh, I have a dentist appointment. C'mon guys..."
The rest of the Rangers stood and grabbed their belongings.
"You're all going with him?" the blonde asked amusedly, tossing her head.
"Uh... molar support." Billy improvised.
"Don't you mean moral support?"
"Whatever." said Rocky. "We'll talk later?" he said hopefully.
"Whatever." shrugged the girl in white.
"Great!" said Tommy. "Well, see ya!"
"Buh-bye!" Kim waved.
"'Buh-bye?'" muttered the flashy girl in white as the Rangers headed for the hallway. She frowned. "Good grief... That was not very slick at all."
Meanwhile, on the Moon, Lord Zedd was in an oddly contemplative mood. "Goldar," the evil Lord began, "why don't I have any skin?"
"I don't know, my lord." Goldar responded dutifully.
"Well, of course you don't!" Zedd growled, suddenly angry. "It was a rhetorical question! Kind of like... why do I wear this chafing metal underwear that gives me a zord-sized wedgie? ...but that's not my biggest problem. You know what my biggest problem is?"
"Er... the Power Rangers, milord?" Goldar ventured.
"No, not the Power Rangers!" Zedd shook his head in disgust. "My biggest problem is, that no matter how hard I try, I can't make a decent fist with these huge metal press-on nails!" He demonstrated. "That's really hard on a bad guy! And, that's only a slight annoyance compared to the fact that whenever I scratch my head, I get..." Zedd would have frowned, but he couldn't, of course- "This will sound awfully Rita-ish, but I get a headache!"
"Er... what are you saying, my lord?"
"Goldar, I'm having a self-image problem!" Zedd growled. "A hygienic crisis! I haven't ever used a good body lotion! And I don't want to tell you the last time I brushed my teeth!" He groaned. "I can't reach them through this stupid metal grate!"
"Don't worry, my lord. Today we shall defeat the Power Rangers, and then we can concentrate the next three millennia on making sure you are perfectly healthy! Graaah!" Goldar cheered bloodthirstily. "Yeah! Uh... right, my lord?"
The evil lord sighed noisily, sounding oddly like a vacuum cleaner. "Oh, Goldar... if only it were that easy." He shook his head. "Just... keep an eye on the Power Rangers." Zedd rubbed his forehead dejectedly. "You tell me what they're up to, I'll think up an appropriate monster... and maybe today we'll get lucky."
Meanwhile, the Rangers had moved into the hall. "Are we clear?" Tommy asked, glancing back and forth.
"No, I think we have to move out of the doorway first." said Billy.
"Right." said Tommy. The Rangers moved on down the hall into the corner. "How about now? Are we clear?"
"Uh... no, we're really visible." said Rocky. He tried to see through his hand and failed. "Nope, definitely not clear." Everyone ignored him, as per usual.
"Okay... outside, everyone." said Tommy.
"Gotcha!" said Rocky, pushing open the door to the Juice Bar. "So are we clear now?"
Adam mumbled something incoherent.
"Great!" said Tommy, hand flying to his wrist.
"No no no, he said we're not clear!" Aisha translated, pointing to some kids playing basketball in the parking lot.
Tommy sighed. "Oh, man... To the park!"
As the Rangers ran down the path, they passed rollerbladers, hot dog vendors and picnic tables packed with people eating.
"Man!" Rocky exclaimed. "There are people everywhere today!"
"Rocky's right," agreed Kim. "Like, to the lake!"
A swimming class, a grade school field trip and and the televised newscast of a triathalon later, the Rangers left the lake.
"I'm still not clear!" sighed Aisha as the Rangers tried to hide behind a beach house. "This is taking forever!"
"Yeah, it is," agreed Billy. "And if we don't quit this locale posthaste, Zedd will undoubtedly conceive of some element of the totality to transmute into a monster. And there isn't anywhere around this location where we could be clear."
"Billy," complained Rocky. "You aren't clear anywhere."
"Well, here it is in words of one syllable." said Billy. "We - have - to - get - out - of - here!"
"Billy's right." agreed Aisha. "Where to now, Tommy?"
Tommy held back tears."To the mountains!"
The Rangers jogged up a rock formation, passing some lost hikers and several stray mountain-goat herders. Tommy motioned the others behind a tree. "Guys! Are we clear now?"
"No, actually we're opaque!" Rocky said. "Ha ha ha..."
"Shaddup!" the rest of the Rangers shouted.
"Well, I thought it was funny..." complained Rocky as the Rangers teleported a total of five feet into the command center.
"RANGERS. IT IS GOOD THAT YOU ARE FINALLY HERE." said Zordon.
"Sorry." said Kimberly shamefacedly. "We weren't clear."
"Of course not... you're opaque!" Alpha said. "Hee hee hee..."
"Shaddup!" said Rocky bitterly.
"I THOUGHT IT WAS FUNNY." said Zordon.
"You need to get out more." said the girl from the Juice Bar.
The Rangers turned in shock to see the leggy blonde in white. "Hi. Look, I know you're surprised," said the strange girl, smoothing her hair with a glittering, bejeweled hand. "But please, dispense with the shocked banalities. Basically, my name is Rhonda, I'm the Rhinestone Ranger, and I need your help to get back to the year 2999."
"Wha? There is no Rhinestone Ranger!" Adam protested.
"There is in the future." said Rhonda.
"Man... a Ranger from the future!" said Aisha "This is so awesome!"
"Ooh, what a surprise. Aisha thinks this is awesome." Rhonda rolled her eyes.
"RANGERS. LISTEN CLOSELY TO RHONDA'S TALE." said Zordon.
"Well, I was swept back in time through a warp in the particle flow of my Zord's power core." Rhonda said.
"Oh man... I hate it when that happens!" said Billy.
"Doncha just?" commiserated Rhonda. "Of course, when all you've got for Battlezords is the technological equivalent of a twinkie..."
"Hey!" said Billy.
"...and don't call me 'man.'" Rhonda added, smoothing her dress. "Now. About me getting back to the future."
"Don't worry. We'll do everything we can." said Tommy.
"Yeah," said Rocky comfortingly, edging closer to Rhonda. "'Cause us Power Rangers stick together..." He made his move, putting his hand on her shoulder. "'and we're here for you."
"Talk about history coming to life..." laughed Rhonda, shrugging Rocky's hand off her shoulder. "You were right, Zordon. These guys are totally slowsville."
The Rangers turned to Zordon in shock.
"I NEVER SAID THAT." said Zordon.
"Wait a thousand years." said Rhonda.
Billy looked hurt.
Tommy looked confused.
Kimberly rolled her eyes.
The moment passed.
"Rhonda," Billy asked. "How is it that you beat us to the Command Center?"
"'S like this, Brains- in the future they have a quicker method of transportation."
"Oh? What's that?" asked Tommy, interested.
"We all duck into a bathroom stall and teleport separately." Rhonda chuckled at the Rangers' embarrassment.
"Well, our way..." Tommy began defensively.
"Um," Aisha chimed in, "our way demonstrates teamwork."
"And, like loyalty and stuff." Kimberly finished up.
"Yeah." Rocky frowned. "You think we did all those Power Promises for nuthin'?"
Rhonda shrugged, looking him up and down. "If the Spandex fits..."
"RANGERS." said Zordon. "ALPHA MUST RUN SOME TESTS ON RHONDA. WHY? I DON'T KNOW. I THINK HE GETS SOME SORT OF ODD ROBOTIC THRILL FROM RUNNING TESTS."
"When you live in the Command Center, you make your own fun." said Alpha, happily sweeping a diagnostic instrument around Rhonda's body. "Wheeeeeeee!"
"Ooookay..." said Tommy. "Well then... uh... we'll be in Billy's lab... building a time machine or somethin'." Cringing, the Rangers teleported out.
"Weenies." Rhonda snorted.
"Woo hoo!" Alpha squealed, waving his tricorderlike instrument faster.
Rhonda patted him on the head. "You never change, do you Alpha ?"
"Aw, shucks!" said Alpha shyly.
"That wasn't a compliment."
Meanwhile, in Billy's lab:
"Well... what do you guys think?" said Rocky, striding forward into Billy's lab.
"I think you should stop doing that stupid male model walk!" Tommy snapped.
"I think Billy better get to work on that time machine!" said Aisha urgently.
"Yeah, have you come up with anything yet, Billy?" asked Kimberly.
"No, Kim, I haven't." said Billy shortly. "As a matter of fact, I haven't even turned my computer on yet! Next time, try counting to ten first."
"Well excuse me, Osh Kosh King!" Kimberly huffed. "So what if I just wanna help Rhonda."
"Help her?" Aisha muttered. "Man, I just wanna throttle her."
"I know what you mean." mumbled Adam. "She's worse than the Mirror of Regret... although it was kinda funny the way she kept shutting Rocky down. Maybe you need to take some tips from Billy, Rocko."
"Well at least I never fell for one of Zedd's monsters." Rocky said defensively. "Not like some people around here." He glared at Adam. "Adam and Scorpina, sittin' in a tree..."
"Hey!" said Adam, hurt deeply. Those sitting close to him could hear his fragile self-esteem crumbling to dust.
"K-I-S-S-I-N-G!" Rocky spelled out.
"I think we get the point, pachinko butt!" said Tommy, demonstrating his well-developed leadership capabilities by whacking Rocky on the back of the head.
"Yeah, Rocky." said Billy. "Leave Adam alone! It's not like you can help who you fall in love with."
"Oh, shut up." said Tommy.
"Hey, don't tell me to shut up!" Billy protested.
"Hey you guys, it's totally like neither one of you has the right to talk." said Kimberly. She eyed Tommy suspiciously. "Mr. Whatever Pleases My Empress!" she said, eyes narrowed. "And you, Billy... the Casanova of Angel Grove-a! Gee, it must be hard to juggle four girlfriends at once... but I forgot, you're a super genius!"
"Hey! That whole 'Mistress Rita' thing was just a figure of speech!" Tommy said defensively.
"Yeah, lay off, Mrs. Skullovitch!" snapped Billy. "I'm trying to save the world here!"
"Why you four-eyed-" snarled Kimberly.
"Guys, guys, look at yourselves." pleaded Aisha. "What the world needs now is love, sweet love! It's the only thing there's just too little of! Not just for some, but for everyone! All I am saying, is give peace a chance!"
The Rangers stared at Aisha.
* * *
Next time on Power Rangers- Will Aisha convince the Rangers that all they need is love? Will Rhonda fall for Rocky's masculine charms? And Billy, can't you work any faster?
Find out next time, on the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers!
Author's note: the "Next time, try counting to ten first." line was first written by, and is included here by kind permission of The Eggplant Ranger.