Disclaimer: Everything Power Rangers related in this story is the propertyof Saban Entertainment. I'm just writing this series for my enjoymentand for the enjoyment of others.
Author's Notes: This is my fifteenth story in the Power Rangers Beyondseries. It comes after "City of Fire." And now on with the story!

The Master Puppeteer
by: Marques Jeffries

The site was Las Vegas, Nevada. The occasion, the tenth annual ExtremeToughguy Tournament. The rules of the this competition were simple. Twowarriors would enter an octagon-shaped ring. At times the ring would haveadded bonuses, such as an ice floor or ropes charged with electrical energy.

Over the years, this very deadly form of competition had amassed a cult-likefollowing. The MGM Grand was now filled with millions of excited spectators,and among them was Timothy Bennett.

Tim had been fortunate enough to get seats in the fifth row, something thatwould not have happened had Tim's father not been a friend of one ofthe competitors.

The preliminary matches were currently going on, and the match in progressfeatured a wolf-like man against an extremely beefed up fighter from Russia.

The Russian had greatly surprised the crowd with his fighting skills. Thewolf man tried countless times to take the fighter down with savage punchesand kicks, but the Russian would always entrap the beast in some sort ofwrestling maneuver.

Finally, after about twenty minutes of fighting, the Russian finished offthe wolf by applying a painful armbar that would have snapped thewarrior's arm had he not submitted.

"Man, that guy is tough," Tim commented. Then the announcer declared theman, whose name was Boris Blackheart, the winner. The teenager was about tohead to the concessions stand to get a drink, before noticing that hisfather's old friend, Ernest "Stonefist" Forbes, was coming out for hismatch, so Tim decided to stick around for this match.

Forbes was facing off against a fighter named Granite, who appeared to befrom the same race of beings as Rita Repulsa's old henchmen, Goldar.Forbes started the match by grabbing the alien warrior, and driving him tothe mat with a powerful chokeslam. The monster shook off his grogginess andtook Forbes down with a leg sweep.

"C'mon, Stonefist! C'mon Stonefist!" chanted the crowd.

Ernest got to his feet and then he and the monster exchanged severalpunches, with Granite soon gaining the advantage with a low blow. Forbesstaggered backwards, in agony, but Granite continued his attack by applyinga headlock, that looked like it was crushing Ernest's skull. After afew seconds, Forbes escaped the hold, by mustering up all of his strength,and suplexing Granite backwards.

The monster's head struck the mat, and he began to writhe in pain.

"Time to finish this." Forbes said as he stood Granite up. Forbes placed themonster in position for a powerbomb. The fighter then lifted Granite intothe air, took off running, and then leaped into the air, and drove themonster into the mat with a mighty running powerbomb!

The referee checked Granite, and seeing that the monster appeared to beunconscious, Forbes was declared the winner.

Since there was only one more match left for the evening, Tim decidedhe'd stick around and watch that one.

This last match featured a masked fighter called Blac against a fighter fromKO-35 named Linel. Tim noticed that the ropes had been electrified for thismatch, once the fighters had entered the ring. As soon as the match startedthe masked creature tore into the Kerovan with a flurry of punches. TheKerovan tried to cover himself, but the fighter was relentless and refusedto let up. In a normal sport the referee would have made the masked monsterback off, and then check the condition of the Kerovan, but in thiscompetition, the ref's only job was to declare a winner.

With Linel now slumped on the mat, Blac picked him up and tossed him intothe center of the ring. The masked monster then delivered a bone crunchingbody splash to the Kerovan's chest.

"Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!" laughed the monster with pride, as he stood over hisfallen opponent.

There was something awfully familiar about this monster's attitude andfighting style, but what it was Tim couldn't quite figure out, at themoment.

Showing his courage, Linel rose to his feet and kicked the monster in thechest, causing the alien to fall on his back. Linel then jumped on top ofthe monster, and began to pound on his head. Enraged, Blac knocked Linel offhim. The masked monster got to his feet and finished the Kerovan off byhurling the fighter into the electrical ropes. The crowd watched inamazement as the Kerovan was fried to a crisp.

Fans of these types of competitions were generally people who loved to seeblood and gore, so naturally, the majority of the people in attendance lovedthe outcome of this match, but Tim didn't find anything amusing abouta man being killed in the ring.

The electrical ropes were disabled by a worker, with a remote control, andthen Randolph Furline, the head promoter of the Extreme Toughguyorganization, came out and took the mic. "I'd just like to thankeveryone for coming out tonight, and I'm sure you all are getting yourmoney's worth. Tomorrow, I promise all of you that the action willonly get hotter as sixteen men battle for the 2013 Extreme Toughguy trophy,and twelve million dollars! Remember the first match begins at teno'clock tomorrow morning, so don't be late, Have a good night."The man then exited the ring and then disappeared into the locker room.

Randolph Furline was a thirty-five year old billionaire. He had gotten hisfirst taste of the business world shortly after graduating from MichiganState. Furline met a man named Vince Mcmahon, and the two hit off right fromthe start. Mcmahon gave Furline a job at his company, Titan Sports, andFurline had the opportunity to develop storylines for the company'sWorld Wrestling Federation.

Shortly, after Vince passed ownership of the company over to his children,Shane and Stephanie, Furline decided that this was the time to leave.

Randolph used what he had learned from Vince, to start up the ExtremeToughguy Organization. At first the organization consisted only ofcompetitors from Earth, but soon its popularity grew to the point thatcompetitors from all over the universe wanted to take part.

For the most part, Randolph Furline was a genius. He sought out athletesthat had charisma, muscles, and could work the crowd well. His mind wasconstantly at work devising new forms of matches. He loved money, and heknew that the more dangerous the matches were, the more people would come tosee them.

Because of the blood and gore that took place in these matches, The ExtremeToughguy Organization met with much opposition, the biggest critics beingthe people of Triforia. King Trey had gone so far as to call for a trial,which would have to result in a decision being made about whether to banthis form of combat or not.

The governing body of the Allied Planets decided that The Extreme Toughguymatches could continue, as long as a portion of all earnings for each eventwas paid to the governing body of the particular planet visited. They alsodecreed that the competition could only be held on planets that fell overthe jurisdiction of the Allied Planets Sports Commission. So in short,Furline ended up winning, and was even allowed to hold competitions onTriforia, contrary to Trey's wishes, or course.

Ernest Forbes was packing up his gear, and was about to exit his dressingroom, when Furline and his two bodyguards walked in.

"Great match tonight, Ernie," Forbes commented as he shook thefighter's hand.

"Thank you, sir. So who will be my first opponent, tomorrow?"

"You'll face that kid from Tokyo. The boys in the casino think that itwill be Blac and yourself in the main event," Furline explained. "I want tomake sure that happens."

"What do you mean, MAKE SURE THAT HAPPENS?" Forbes was noticeably upset. "Idon't need your help! I can make it to the finals without yourstorylines!"

"Calm down, Forbes! Remember you work for me. You were a two-bit streethustler when I found you, and offered you a place in this organization,"Furline calmly reminded.

"Yeah, Yeah, I remember."

"Good. Well the expected buyrate is astounding. This could be the biggestPay-Per-View in history. I want to make sure its the best, and I need youand Blac in the finals to do that, so I'm going to pair the two of youoff with easy opponents. Although you may have to fight the Russian, but heshouldn't give you that much trouble," stated Furline.

"No one is going to stop me from winning this tournament," Forbes smiled.

"That's a good line. I want you to say that in your interview,tomorrow. I may ask you to take the fall tomorrow," Furline warned.

"Hold it, you scrawny, little runt! I've been training for weeks forthis tournament. I thought you prided yourself on promoting matches withoutpredetermined outcomes. Why are you suggesting this now?"

"Ernest, a lot of money is tyed up in this tournament, and I want to be theone to come out on top. Now if you don't agree to take the fall, if Iask you to, then something bad might happen to your lovely wife and son,"the sinister promoter threatened.

Ernest reached out and grabbed his employer by the neck. "I'm going towin this tournament, no matter what you say!"

The two bodyguards grabbed Ernest, and held him still.

"If you weren't one of my best fighters, I'd fire your buttright now!" warned Furline after catching his breath. "I own you, andyou'll do whatever I tell you to do, or else your wife and son willpay for your defiance."

The bodyguards tossed Forbes against a wall, and then they and Furlineexited the room. As Stonefist lay on the floor, he thought about thesituation that he now found himself in.

In his hotel room, Tim was about to call Andros and Ashley. He picked up thephone and dialed the number.

"Hello," said a female voice.

"Hi, Ashley. I just wanted to call you and Andros, and let the two of youknow that I made it to Las Vegas safely," Tim stated.

"Have you eaten dinner yet?"

"Yes, I got a cheeseburger from the concessions stand."

"So how were the fights?"

"They were cool, but I noticed something that I can't get out of mymind."

"What's that?"

"There was this masked fighter in the tournament. He called himself Blac,but his fighting style was very familiar to me for some reason. That'snot all, my dad's friend Ernest Forbes was supposed to meet me in thelobby, so we could grab a soda together, but he never showed up." said Tim.

"Hmm, maybe something came up? Well Andros wants to talk to you, soI'm handing the phone to him," Ashley said.

"Tim, what's going on, there?" the Kerovan man asked.

"Andros, I wish I knew. There's this strangely familiar masked monsterhere, and I think something is going on with my dad's old friend.I'm thinking about investigating this further."

"Well be careful. Las Vegas is a dangerous city, even for a Power Ranger,and remember the other Rangers are only a communicator call away." remindedAndros.

"Okay. Well I'll call you guys tomorrow night."

"Okay," replied Andros before hanging up the phone.

In Blac's dressing room, he was talking with Furline and thebodyguards.

"Great match tonight, Blac." complimented the promoter.

"Thank you, Mr. Furline. I just want you to know how appreciative I am ofyou allowing me to compete in this tournament," the masked monster replied.

"No thanks needed. This tournament is for the best warriors in the universe,and that includes you."

"I will crush everyone that's in my path, including that guy, Forbes,"the monster gloated.

"Ya know, its funny you should mention Ernest, because he was just talkingabout you, a few minutes ago," the promoter explained.

"Really?! What did that punk say?"

"Oh only that he would wipe the mat with you, if the two of you met in thetournament."

"What?! How dare he! That does it, I want to face him in the first matchtomorrow!"

"No, I have it fixed so that the two of you will meet in the finals,providing you both win your other matches.' the man explained.


"So who are you, anyway?"

"I'm a creature, who could really use the money. That's all youneed to know for now."

"Very well. You will be a very famous creature, if you win this tournament."stated Furline.

Furline saw no need to linger in Blac's dressing room, so he wishedBlac luck in the tournament, and then he and his two stooges left.

"Mr. Furline, why didn't you tell Blac that he might have to lose,tomorrow?" inquired one of the bodyguards as the three hall walked down ahallway.

"Because I checked the latest bookings, and according to the results, mostpeople think Forbes will win," Furline explained.

"So if he loses, then you'll get a higher percentage of thecasino's earnings, for the betting," guessed one of the guards.


It was now close to midnight, and business was booming inside the GoldenStar's casino.

Tim, wearing a black robe and a hood on his head, wandered through thecrowd, trying to gather information about the betting that went along withthe Extreme Toughguy Tournament.

Hmmm, from what I've learned most people think that Ernest is going towin. Tim finally decided that he should find out who this masked man wassince it was obvious that a lot of people felt that he had a chance ofwinning, also.

Ernest Forbes was now making his way through the parking lot of the RegencyInn, where he, his wife, and his son were currently staying for the weekend.Ernest had decided to stay here because of all of the rowdiness that wasgoing on at the Golden Star, where the other fighters were staying.

He had just walked by a parked van, when he was forced to the ground by afirm hand.

"So, you've been talking trash about me, huh," hissed Blac beforekicking Ernest in the ribs. Ernest tried the get to his feet, but Blacpunched him in the nose. Blac now began to slam the man into nearby cars.

"Why don't you try me on for size," stated the White Ranger as hearrived.

"What? A Power Ranger?!" exclaimed Blac as he spun around.

"That's right, pal. So let's get it on."

"With pleasure," Blac summoned a strangely familiar sword from thin air, andthen charged at the White Ranger, who held his Liberty Sword firmly in frontof him.

The two warriors clashed swords, with Blac gaining the upperhand.

"You should have practiced harder before challenging me, White Ranger,"hissed Blac as he knocked the Liberty Sword out the Ranger's hand.

Tim quickly drew his Astro Blaster and stung the masked warrior with ablast.

"I have a tournament to win, tomorrow, but we will meet again, WhiteRanger." At that statement, the masked villain teleported away.

"Mr. Forbes, are you okay?" The Ranger asked as he knelt down beside thewounded fighter.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Ow!" Forbes tried to get up, but his injured ribshindered him.

"I'll get you to a hospital," Tim suggested.

"No, if I go to the hospital, the doctors won't let me fight, andI've got to win this tournament."

"Its just a tournament. There will be other tournaments. Now c'mon,let me take you to the hospital," the Ranger pleaded.

"You don't understand. Randolph Furline has threatened my family.He's supposed to get a portion of the Golden Star casino'searnings. He's going to try to manipulate the tournament, so that theFavorite to Win loses. I've trained so hard for this tournament, andnow Furline tells me that if I don't play by his rules, he'llharm my family," Tears were streaming down the fighter's face as hespoke.

"Don't worry, I'm going to help you, and so will the other PowerRangers," vowed Tim.

"But I thought you guys only fought evil space aliens?" Ernest questioned.

"We're willing to fight any type of evil, and besides, there wassomething familiar about that monster."

"But my family. I don't want Furline to hurt them," Forbes worried.

"Don't worry, Mr. Forbes. The Power Rangers won't let any harmcome to your family. Take my hand, and I'll teleport you up to yourroom." the White Ranger instructed.

Ernest did as he was instructed, and the two men disappeared in two beams oflight.

In Forbes' room, the White Ranger and Ernest explained the situationto Mrs. Forbes. Tim once again assured them that Furline wouldn't beable to make good on his threats.

The next morning, Ernest remembered that he hadn't talked to Tim yet.So Forbes and his family had breakfast with Tim at a local restaurant.

"Ya know, both your parents were good people, Tim," Ernest stated.

"Yeah, I think about them everyday, but I live with two very nice peoplenow," Tim stated.

"So, how did you like the preliminary matches, last night?" Forbes asked.

"They were cool. I think it'll be you and that masked guy in thefinals," Tim replied. "By the way, thanks for sending me the tickets."

"No thanks needed. It always made me feel good, over the past few years, tolook into the stands and see you and Matthew cheering me on. I felt it wasonly right for me to invite you, this year," Ernest explained.

Tim and the Forbes Family finished their breakfast and then parted ways forthe day.

"Ten minutes, til the opening bout of the tournament," informed one ofFurlines' associates.

"Yes, and like a master puppeteer, I will pull the strings of Ernest Forbesand Blac. Both men will do as I command or they'll suffer theconsequences," the promoter warned.

As Ernest laced up his boots, in his dressing room. his phone rang.

"Hello." he said.

"Mr. Forbes, this is the Red Ranger. The White Ranger told us about thesituation, and so the other Rangers and I will be protecting your wife andson," stated a voice.

"I really appreciate what you Rangers are doing." replied the fighter beforehanging up.

"Forbes," stated Randolph Furline, as he and his bodyguards entered theroom.

"What do you want?"

"You'll make it to the finals, and then you'll lose to Blac. Isthat understood?" the promoter ordered.

"Yes, sir." the fighter replied, pretending to be saddened.

The tournament started, and as expected both Blac and Stonefist cruisedthrough their matches easily. Apparently, Furline had paid all of theiropponents to make the matches look good, but take a dive in the end.

In the meantime, Joseph had used his laptop computer to hack into thecasino's computer, and was currently downloading all of the evidenceneeded to prove that Furline was tyed up in illegal gambling. As part of theagreement with the governing body of the Allied Planets, Furlinecouldn't engage in any acts that could corrupt his organization, andgambling fell under this category.

"Let's see. This is a contract that was on file on the casino'sdatabase," the Blue Ranger explained as he directed the Red Ranger'sattention to the image on the computer screen. "And look, Furline'ssignature is at the bottom."

"Great job," commented Chris. "I'll bet Furline didn't count onanybody hacking into the computer, and finding this."

"Thanks. Now all I have to do is send this information to the police,"Joseph hit the send button, and that was that.

On the other side of the room, the Pink and Yellow Rangers were talking toMrs. Forbes and playing with little Johnny.

"So where are you Rangers from?" inquired Mrs. Forbes.

"We're from all over the place," the Pink Ranger replied.

Outside of the room, two of Furline's men were about to knock on thedoor, when they were attacked by the Gold Ranger. Nick struck the twovillains with a few punches and kicks that left them seeing stars.

"I'll drop these two off at the police station," Nick said, when Chrisopened the door.

Meanwhile, at the MGM Grand, the final match had began. The earlier matcheshad taken their toll on Stonefist's ribs, but the fighter gained anearly advantage on Blac, by hitting and then moving.

Forbes stung the masked creature with continuous punches and kicks, untilBlac did something that he hadn't been doing in any of his earliermatches. The masked man began to tele-warp all over the ring.

Everytime Forbes would try to hit him, Blac would transfer himself toanother part of the ring.

"I've played around with you long enough. Its time to die, Ernie. Ha,ha, ha, ha, ha!" laughed Blac, as he grabbed Forbes from behind. The maskedmonster then hurled Forbes towards the electrified ropes. Thankful, Forbesbarely avoided striking them.

The fighter kicked the masked man in the stomach, a blow that was shakenoff, and then countered with a flurry of punches to the head.

Forbes was in serious trouble now, and he could feel himself dropping to theground. In one last desperate attempt, Forbes gave Blac a low blow, and thenDDTed the monster.

As Blac got to his feet, an army of police officers rushed into the arena.The officer ordered the crowd to leave, and some of them began searching forFurline.

I must leave now before those Rangers show up, and find out who I am. Blacthen teleported away.

The White Ranger arrived and handed Ernest the trophy and the check for themoney. The Ranger then teleported Forbes to his family.

There was total silence in the arena now. Randolph Furline crawled out fromunderneath the ring, and looked around.

Thank goodness those dumb cops didn't look underneath the ring. Hethought as he walked up some stairs.

"Hey, Furline, leaving so soon," came a voice.

Before Furline could react, he was struck in the chest by a flying kick. Theman tumbled down the stairs, and ended up in the ring.

Now lying on the mat, Furline looked up to see the White Ranger standingover him.

"Let's see how extreme you are, when you're behind bars," theWhite Ranger said. With that, the Ranger teleported away. Seconds later,Furline was seized by two police officers.

In the Forbes' hotel room. the family thanked the Rangers for theirhelp.

"The six of you really came through for us," Ernest said.

"Like I said earlier, the Power Rangers are always willing to standagainst evil. Whether it comes from an evil space alien or a greedy fightpromoter," the White Ranger explained.

"So what's going to happen to Furline?" Mrs. Forbes asked.

"Well he violated his agreement with the Allied Planets' governingbody, so we can only assume that he'll have to pull some serious timein prison," the Red Ranger explained.

The Forbes family bidded the Rangers farewell, and watched as the six heroesdissolved into beams of light and flew away.

On the Cimerian Planet, Blane stood before Princess Zara.

"Your, hinus, we've just received the energy tube from Ray-Tech,"Blane said.

"Excellent, take the Grand Monarch of Evil to his room. When he awakens,I'm sure he'll have much to tell us," the Brood princessinstructed.

The End