NOTE: Sorry this took so long, guys! Major thanks to Ellen,
Kittie, Selma and Hellfire for inspiration, patience and encouragement.
Special thanks to Jeremy -- without you, my kindred spirit, this would
not be even half done. Quotes are from Dylan Thomas, the Bible and Bram
Stoker. Standard disclaimers apply. Hope you enjoy!
" ... for there is something so strange about this place and
all in it that I cannot but feel uneasy. I wish I were safe out of it,
or that I had never come. It may be that this strange night existence is
telling on me, but would that were all! If there were any one to talk to
I could bear it, but there is no one....I fear I am myself the only living
soul within the place. Let me be prosaic so far as facts can be. It will
help me to bear up, and imagination must not run riot with me. If it does
I am lost."
"Dracula" by Bram Stoker
"...or are you too scared, shrimp?"
Olivia Park squeezed her hands into fists and glared as hard as she could. "Leave me alone." She tried to walk past the four girls and was pushed back.
"Why don't ya come Angel's Rest Cemetery at midnight? If you show and pass our test, we'll leave you alone." The lead bully sneered. "Don't show, dweeb and we'll really make you regret life." The group of four girls all laughed raucously as they circled the smaller girl.
Corry Cranston walked over from the high school to join her friend, as usual, and ride the bus home. She caught site of the girls circling Olivia and stalked over, furious, as she glared down the girls. "Back off, you pack of hyenas! Or are you afraid to pick on someone more your size?"
The leader sauntered over until she was almost nose to nose with Corry. Deliberately casual, she sized up the older girl, looking her up and down. The leader was almost an inch taller than the high school student. "I'm not afraid of nothin'."
"Except good grammar, apparently." Blue eyes glittering icily, Corry went along with the staredown. This group had picked on Olivia for too long already and she was sick of it.
"Think you're so smart, don't ya? Show up with your friend then. We'll see if it walks or just talks." The leader contemptuously flicked a finger at Corry.
"We'll be there." Olivia had moved to stand next to her friend and stared defiantly at the larger girl facing them.
The leader let out a bark of laughter. "Yeah, real brave as long as someone's with ya!"
"Look who's talking." Corry smirked as she indicated the other three girls.
Hands clenching into fists, the girl's face reddened. Her voice was taunt with anger. "Tonight. We'll just see then. See ya, losers!"
Olivia was shaking as the four left. Concerned, Corry put an arm around her shoulders. "You okay, 'Livy?"
"They make me sick!" Olivia's voice was low, shaking slightly from reaction. "Why can't they just leave me alone?"
"Because they're puny little egos won't let them." Corry snorted in contempt. "They're jealous of you, 'Livy."
Olivia shook her head, still not understanding. She'd never done anything to the four girls -- in fact she'd gone out of her way to avoid them! With a sigh she realized the mess they were in. "Oh no! Now I dragged you into it!"
Corry grinned. "Not! You think I was going to stand there while they picked on my best friend?" She squeezed the girl's shoulders. "We'll just show up tonight and see who scares who, eh?"
Brightening, Olivia smiled slightly. "You have an idea?"
"Oh yeah." Corry smiled mischievously. "And since all of the others are busy tonight we don't have to explain where we're going."
"Where's Nisha?" As much as Olivia loved Corry, she knew of the two Nisha was a much fiercer fighter. It would've been nice to have her come with them.
"She's got a date." Corry started checking off their friends' status on her fingers.. "Gavin's working on that holo haunted house of his, Jared's got a date, Raph's coming home tonight and Thomas is ....." She shrugged. "Who knows? Probably with Chelsea and Trey."
"Oh." Olivia bit her lip, noting the pained look on her friend's face. "Are they gonna break the news to the Olivers?" She knew Corry and her brother and sister were like surrogate grandchildren to the Olivers.
"Well...." Corry grimaced. "Actually since I kinda caused the whole mess, I feel like I should explain it. But," she kicked a rock on the sidewalk. "Chelse said she'd go with me to ease the way with her folks."
Olivia stopped walking and faced her. "You did not cause the whole mess, Corry. Geez!" She lightly bonked the girl on the head with the folder she was carrying. "It's done! It's over! Get over it, girl! We all made the decision as a team, okay? End of subject!"
Corry's eyes widened as Olivia's short tirade ended. She blinked several times before starting to laugh. Olivia never failed to surprise her. "Okay! Am I that bad?"
"Worse!" Olivia hugged her. "Now come on before we miss the bus to my house!" Grabbing her arm, she pulled her towards the bus just coming in the stop.
* * *
_This isn't one of my greatest ideas._ Thomas Oliver looked around, shifting his stance as he waited for something -- anything -- to come at him from the deep shadows that pooled the room. The only dim source of light was the earth, so he used the infra-red capabilities of his helmet to scan the rooms.
Dank and dusty, colder than he remembered -- Rita and Zedd's palace hadn't changed much. His feet sank into the layer of moon dust coating the floor. It puffed up slightly as he walked around looking at the huge stone chair in the center of the room. Zedd's throne was cracked in places, with part of the stylized "Z" missing. It looked like it had taken a blast or two at one time.
_Maybe Rita's screeching finally cracked it._ Thomas grimaced as memories flooded his mind. _No time for this!_ Thomas stubbornly pushed the memories aside and concentrated on the task at hand. He had a suspicion the wraiths were using the old moon base, but how? Well....
Once again, his mind flashed to the past -- an image of him kneeling before Rita swearing loyalty as her Warrior. _Again I wear the uniform of the Green Ranger and carry the Dragon Dagger._
"No," Thomas growled. He shook his head to banish the images. "Not...ever...again!" He wished he could change into the form of the Green Morphin Ranger, but the ninjetti outfit didn't offer protection against the moon's harsh environment. Or air. _Oh well. Suck up and cope with it, Oliver._
Moreso than any of the rangers Thomas knew the labyrinth of corridors that ran under the palace. As the Evil Green Ranger, he'd had free run of the place. The memories were as vivid as if it had been yesterday. He almost expected that overgrown monkey, Goldar, to stalk out and challenge him. Thomas tightened his hands into fists. _Tommy killed Goldar. The Rangers banished Rita and Zedd. All that is left here is memories._
The words were not as convincing as he would've liked. There was some part of him, buried deep, that had enjoyed those days. That had enjoyed the feeling of power. The thrill of challenging the Rangers armed only with his wits and dagger.
And the sword. Thomas swallowed hard. He always had like swords. The heft and swing of a perfectly balanced blade.... _NO._ Closing his eyes, Thomas fought the memories that vied for control of him. _I do NOT need or want the Sword of Darkness. I have my ninjetti katana - _ He opened his eyes in surprise as the green handled katana suddenly appeared in his hand.
With a wicked grin Thomas swung the katana several times, feeling the oppressive memories rolling back like fog clears with the sun.
"All right! Time to troll for wraiths."
* * *
"What the hell?" Ted Oliver leaned forward and grabbed the controls, upping the volume on the television. Seven figures in colored armor briefly faced the camera before disappearing in rainbow streaks. The scene shifted to several of the trashed buildings downtown then to some amateur video footage of the Zords fighting the wraiths in Angel Grove State Park.
"...paranormal activity has increased in the city in an unprecedented amount. Paranormalists are flocking to Angel Grove, curious as to what is causing the increase.
This city has always had a reputation for odd occurrences, but most of those were due to outside influences such as Rita Repulsa and the Machine Empire. So far, there has been no comment from the Mayor, but the cities' self-proclaimed protectors, the Power Rangers, have been sighted several times. After a twelve year hiatus it appears the Rangers have returned to defend Angel Grove, though many citizens have expressed strong doubts about their abilities to do so."
"So, Kittie, have you had an opportunity to interview any of these Power Rangers?"
"No, Andrew, unfortunately they've proven to be very elusive. When the alarms sound we're supposed to go to the shelters but we got this last footage by tracking several of the disturbances."
Ted sat back and turned the volume down again as the two reporters chatted. His mind was numb as he stared at the image he'd frozen on the screen. Seven Rangers.
_They have a Green Ranger. _ Almost of it's own volition, his hand reached behind him and pulled the power coin from it's dimensional pocket. The gold coin flickered for a moment as a shimmer of green ran over it's surface. _What the hell does this mean? How can there be another Green Ranger when I have the coin? I've had it with me since Tommy died and left it to me. There's no way...._
Standing, he paced the length of the room, then came back to glare at the television. With an irritated movement he turned it off and strode over to the comm unit. In a moment, his personal assistant was online, smiling pleasantly at him. "Hello, Ted. What's wrong? Another script change?"
"If only, Ami." Ted grinned, the lopsided one that drove so many of his female fans crazy. "When's the next break in shooting?"
"Let me see..." Unfazed by her boss' charm, Ami consulted something off-screen. Her accented voice was crisp when she spoke again. "A week from tomorrow." Blue eyes surveyed him critically, as if to say what now?
"Damn." Ted ran a hand through his dark hair. It was shorter than usual, for the current film, and curlier. "Book me on the earliest flight the day we finish shooting. That night, if necessary. Anything, I don't care if it's the red-eye or a private charter."
Ami's dark eyebrows rose a little in surprise, and a hint of a smile curved her lips. "Angel Grove?"
_How does she do that?_ Ted took a moment to shake his head in amazement. It almost scared him to realize how well she knew him. "Yeah." He grinned ruefully.
"Right." All business once again, Ami nodded. "I'll confirm it with you later. Don't forget, you're expected on the set in...forty minutes. They're shooting - "
"I know, the harbor scene." Ted nodded. He wasn't looking forward to it. It meant getting drenched over and over in cold ocean water. He grimaced. "Why we can't shoot on a sound stage like everyone else...."
"If you'd let them get you a stunt double you wouldn't have to complain about getting wet," Ami pointed out logically.
"And let them take all my fun away?" A wicked gleam entered the dark eyes, as Ted smiled. "You need to get away from that computer more, Ami." His smile grew as she blushed. "See you on-set." With a wink, Ted cut the link.
_A week. Damn! By then the whole mess in Angel Grove might be settled and this new Green Ranger gone!_ "Have to see what I can do to get shooting sped up." Grabbing his leather jacket, Ted left his suite.
* * *
The caves were pitch black. Sounds echoed and ricocheted around until he lost which direction they came from. It was cold, biting through to penetrate his armor. _Or maybe I'm just hallucinating...._
A feeling of evil hung over the labyrinth of tunnels carved out of the moon's very core, adding to Thomas' uneasiness. _How many times did I prowl these very passageways when Rita was in charge?_ Back then, he hadn't noticed how creepy the place was.
_There._ There was an easing in the heavy feeling of darkness, and he knew he was almost there. _Where the Rangers eventually found the Zeo crystal. Hard to believe Tommy was able to grab it._ Thomas shook his head as he rounded the corner and stood staring at the very spot the crystal had rested for untold eons. As the Evil Green Ranger, he had passed here, but been unable to even approach the glowing crystal.
Even then it had drawn him. Beckoned to him to turn away from the dark and embrace the light. _How did Tommy feel when he finally held it in his hands?_ Thomas sighed heavily and walked slowly towards the Zeo crystals podium.
Tentatively, as if afraid of being zapped, he reached out. Thomas hesitated then rested his fingers lightly on the place the Zeo crystal had rested. Nothing shocked him, or repulsed his touch.
Instead it felt warm, like the soothing heat of a fire on a cold day. Thomas closed his eyes and smiled.
"You won't find the wraiths here, Thomas."
Whirling, Thomas stanced -- and froze. "T..Tommy?" His voice was barely a whisper.
The see-through version of the teen grinned. "I thought you'd come here. We always did like this chamber." It glided towards the armor-clad Ranger, not...quite...walking.
"Are y-you a ghost?" Thomas shook his head, wishing badly he could rub his eyes or pinch himself. He could see through the image, yet there was an obvious outline and definition to it. It glowed a blue-white as if unseen light was pouring into it.
"No." Tommy stopped in front of the Ranger. "I'm what you might call the spirit of Tommy -- his soul." He smiled gently, brown eyes warm. "It's been a long time since I saw you last."
Tommy shrugged. "Most of it. Time doesn't exist where I am now, so it just seems like yesterday. We aren't allowed to interfere, you know, but He made an exception this time."
"He?" Thomas gulped. "As in...God?"
"Well, what do you think the Great Power really is?" Tommy laughed. "You know it, Thomas, because I did. It is a shock to have it confirmed, though, isn't it?" He sobered as the Ranger nodded. "There are forces at work beyond any evil ever faced by the Rangers before. That's why I'm here."
Tommy turned and beckoned Thomas to follow. They walked quite a ways, on and on, until Thomas was completely lost. "Where are we?"
"This is an older section of the Palace Rita never used." Tommy smiled. "I want to show you something." He stopped and waved Thomas up next to him.
Thomas stepped out on the stone balcony and caught his breath. The Earth was rising over the ebony surface of the moon. It was the most beautiful sight Thomas had ever seen. He realized just how precious that shining jewel set in space was to him. "It's breathtaking."
"Isn't it?" Tommy nodded. He faced Thomas and gripped his shoulders. "You belong there, helping them defend it. Stop feeling like an interloper. I know you, better than anyone down there." Tommy smiled. "You are there for a purpose, Thomas. A time and season to everything."
"Hey," Tommy's grin widened. "I'm here talking to you, aren't I?" His expression hardened, becoming serious. "The wraiths are darkness, evil incarnate. They're worse than any monster Rita or Zedd ever could've cooked up, and out for a much more sinister purpose."
"Worse than taking over Earth?"
"They don't want to just conquer the planet, Thomas. They want the living, pulsing souls of every creature that lives. They want to twist them and use them for their purpose."
"Which is....?" Thomas prompted.
"What it has been since the Word spoke for the first time." Tommy smiled softly, a dangerous gleam in the dark eyes. "The darkness cannot understand the light and seeks to extinguish it. It want's to be the ultimate power." He nodded to Thomas. "The Rangers fight for the light, for goodness -- and for Earth. Your guardian animals were sent to help guide you, just as I am."
"Guide me...to what?"
Tommy turned and gestured. The walls of stone disappeared, replaced by the pulsing, glowing image of the sun. "You sought the wraiths here, in a place of darkness." He shook his head. "The evil ones prefer to appear as something beautiful. All that much better to fool people."
"The sun?" Thomas shook his head. "I don't understand."
"Talk to Gavin. Tell him what I showed and told you." The walls of the moon once more appeared. Tommy smiled wistfully. "It's time for me to go. Be happy, Thomas. Don't be afraid to live."
A wash of overwhelmingly bright light filled the cavern, forcing Thomas to look away. When it died down, he was alone.
* * *
Angel's Rest Cemetery was a very peaceful place. Usually. During the day.
At midnight, with the moon almost full, the wind blowing leaves around and making tree branches rattle, it was an eerie place.
Worse yet, the two girls both had vivid memories of real shadows coming to life not that long ago -- the graveyard was full of creepy shadows.
Clutching each other's arms, they both shivered a little as the wind blew against them. Not all their goosebumps were from the cold.
"Curse my imagination," Corry muttered.
"Yeah, and all those monster movies we've watched!" Olivia giggled, covering her mouth as the laughter verged on the hysterical. She lowered her voice. "I wish we could morph."
Corry nodded vigorously. No argument there! Not for the first time, she wished she could see in the dark as well as her guardian animal. Too bad Olivia couldn't too -- an owl's vision would be very nice right about now! And why, oh why, did the music from Vampire Hunter D keep running through her head! "Knock it off, Cranston," she growled.
"What?" Olivia jumped nervously, eyes darting around. "You see something?"
"No." Clamping down on her rampant imagination, Corry tried to call on the rational side of her mind. "If we were those hyenas where would we go to ambush us?"
Olivia swallowed hard as she looked at her friend. Both girls nodded.
"The crypts," they said in unison.
"Weapons check." Corry pulled her mini-supersoaker from her backpack. "Very cold water ready to spray on obnoxious girls?"
"Check," Olivia giggled. "I added some of that awful cologne my aunt gave me last Christmas."
"Egh," Corry said and wrinkled her nose. The stuff could peel wall paper. "Just please don't hit me."
"I won't. I'm a good aim." Olivia winked. The two had teamed up against Corry's twin sister and brother many times.
"Well...." Corry took a deep breath. Let's go."
Side by side, the two girls warily walked through the maze of headstones until they reached the older section of the cemetery where the crypts squatted like otherworldly creatures. Granite angels, wings spread up as if reaching for heaven, stood like sentinels on either side of the entrance to one of the crypts. Gargoyles guarded another, their scary expressions doing nothing for the girls' nerves.
"Funny," Corry commented nervously. "They weren't so scary when my history class came out here."
"Your class came out during the day." Olivia eyed one of the gargoyles nervously. It almost appeared to shift in the moonlight. "These places are totally different during the day."
"I noticed." Corry peered past one of the angels, trying to see into the dark interior of the crypt. "The gate's locked on this one."
"It's broken on that crypt." Olivia gestured with her supersoaker, but didn't move towards it.
Corry smiled slightly. "Why don't you check it out?"
"Me?" Olivia shook her head. "Unh-uh. Noooo way." What was up with those gargoyles? She could swear she saw a smile grow on one!
Turning her back to the crypt she'd just looked into, Corry smiled. "We'll go together then." Seeing her friend's suddenly alarmed expression, Corry froze. "What?"
"T-turn a-around." Olivia's cafe-au-lait skin was deathly pale.
Corry whirled and stumbled back, grabbing Olivia's arm and pulling her back also. "Whoa! Who invited them?"
A stone sword, as tall as the girls, suddenly plowed into the ground where they'd been just seconds before. Black as ebony, the sword was held by one of the granite angels come to life.
"Oh my God...." Corry gulped, seeing the once snow white angel was now completely encased in a black, writhing coat. It was struggling to pull it's sword free from the ground. "Wraiths." She turned and pushed Olivia. "Run! Morph and see if you can get the others here. Go!"
"Move it, 'Livy!" Corry gave her a hard shove to start the younger girl running and dove towards the crypt that was open. She didn't want to get cornered, but she needed to distract the wraith. As soon as she was behind the granite wall, she fumbled for her morpher. Her hands were shaking badly and she dropped it. Cursing silently, Corry knelt and reached out to grab it.
Part of the wall came crashing in on her almost burying her in the rubble as her hand closed around her morpher. A chunk of the wall slammed into her left wrist and one into her back and Corry whimpered in pain. Gritting her teeth she cradled her morpher. "White Ranger Power!" White armor encased her, and the pain disappeared, stayed by the rush of power. "Saba!" Corry pulled the sword free of it's scabbard. "Help!"
"Really, White Ranger, I -"
Corry whirled, throwing the enchanted sword up in a two-fisted grip. It felt like her wrists would snap as the angel's sword crashed into Saba's blade, startling an angry hiss out of it. The ebony blade came closer and closer to Corry's head as her arms weakened, and she knew if her grip slipped the angel's blade would easily cleave her in half.
_Not a pleasant thought!_ Corry gritted her teeth. _Where are the others?!_
Suddenly red lasers flashed out of Saba's eyes and the angel's blade cracked in half. Taking advantage of the stunned look on the eight foot statue's face, Corry dove under it's arm and ran out of the crypt.
"'Livy!" Corry looked around and found her. The Pink Ranger was dodging the blade of the other granite angel. "Hey ugly!" Corry waved her arms. "Over here!"
"White Ranger, behind you!" Saba pulled Corry hard to one side as the angel in the crypt made a new exit out of the Grecian-style crypt.
"Oh boy, Mr. Allistair's not gonna like having his families crypt destroyed." Corry ran to meet Olivia.
"No luck! Something is jamming the signal!" Olivia pulled her power bow out and shot off two consecutive bolts at the angels. "I can slow them down, but it doesn't stop them!"
The two girls ran a little further. Fortunately, the angels were so big and heavy they didn't move very fast.
"Why are they even bothering to take over a statue?" Corry looked around, hoping for a little inspiration.
"Intimidation?" Olivia guessed, shivering. "It's working."
"No kidding." Corry saw light reflecting off something and pointed. "Over there! Come on!" Both took off, running as fast as possible over the uneven terrain. The angels lumbered along behind.
"The Pool of Serenity!" Olivia nodded. She stopped and shot another couple of bolts off. "Come on, Ladies!" Out of the corner of her eye she saw more forms approaching, but they were smaller and gave out a lot larger heat reading. "Civvies incoming!"
"Great," Corry growled. Not that she was entirely surprised, but she'd hoped they could avoid the paranormalists. Well, they'd better stay out of the way. As it was, it was going to take her and Olivia to pull this off. "Yo! Angel of Destruction! Over here, ugly!" She ran the opposite direction, heading for the far side of the Pool. Together the ugly sisters could wipe them out, but separated, the two girls might have a chance.
Olivia waited until the angel with the broken sword was almost on her before she took off. "Follow the leader! Come on!" She sprinted away, stopping midway around the pool. Looking over, she saw Corry was egging her angel on, using Saba to swipe the ebony sword back. "Be careful..."
The ground shook slightly as the angel lumbered to a halt and glared at Olivia. Raising the broken sword, it threw it like a spear.
"Cripes!" Olivia dove sideways, away from the pool. Coming to her feet she saw the sword buried almost to the hilt in the ground. "That wasn't very nice!" Raising her bow she sighted down the energy bolt that had formed there. "You need to be punished for using a beautiful statue for dirty work!"
The bolt caught the angel square in the chest and knocked it back a step.
"And for disrupting the sanctity of souls' resting places!"
Another bolt blasted the wraith, pushing it back again.
"In the name of beauty and peace, I punish you!" Olivia let a flurry of bolts fly, pushing the wraith back until it tottered on the edge of the pool. For a moment, it flailed huge arms, then it crashed back into the pool sending a wave of water up as it splashed in. Olivia grinned and came a little closer to watch it sink to the bottom of the deep pool.
* * *
Corry ducked as the angel's sword whistled over her head. "Saba, can you shoot it back?" She backpedaled to gain some distance from the angel's long reach. "I can't even get close!"
"Try and get it to chop at you again, White Ranger. Get it's sword down in front of you if possible."
"Oh..." Corry rolled her eyes. "Sure. NOOO problem." Not knowing what else to do, Corry held Saba like she would a baseball bat if she was going to bunt. _Hope this doesn't cut him in half!_ "Hey, batter, batter! Take your best shot, angel!"
The angel raised the sword high above it's head, pausing for a moment to smile horrifically, before swinging it down in a whistling swipe to cut the girl in half.
Corry waited until the sword was on the downswing before leaping sideways. Ebony death whistled in front of her eyes as the sword barely missed her.
"NOW, WHITE RANGER!"
Raising Saba up much the same the angel had it's blade, Corry brought Saba down with all her strength on the ebony blade, half-buried in the ground.
The ebony blade shattered. With a move inspired by hours of watching martial arts movies and her own studies, Corry spun and used the momentum to slam Saba into the angel's chest.
"OW!" She dropped Saba, her injured wrist tingling numbly from the impact. Saba floated up to hover protectively between her and the suddenly motionless angel. Corry forgot the pain of her wrist as she looked up...and up...at the towering angel.
For an eternal moment, nothing happened. Then, with a sound like the cracking of thunder, the angel began to split apart, cracks radiating out of it's chest.
Corry stumbled back as the angel literally crumbled apart at her feel.
Unfortunately, the wraith wasn't shattered. It rose from the rubble like a dark phoenix, forming into a shadow as Corry watched in fascinated horror.
"Phah," Saba spat. Twin lasers shot out of his eyes, and the wraith disappeared with a shriek.
Corry sank to the ground, staring first at the rubble, then at Saba. "Wow. I thought for a minute you were broken when I heard that loud crack."
Saba snorted indignantly. "White Ranger, I'll have you know that in the past I have broken both Lord Zedd's staff, and the Zeo Crystal. Granite angels are hardly comparable."
Humbled again by the sword's illustrious history, Corry sighed. "Sorry Saba." Hearing someone approaching, she saw Olivia running like the hounds of hell were after her towards her. "What's wro-"
"Are you all right?!" Olivia ran up, panting. "I heard you yell."
"I got hit before I morphed." Corry looked at her wrist. It was gonna hurt once she un-morphed. "Are you okay?"
"Perfect." Olivia gave an okay sign. "My angel is at the bottom of the Pool of Serenity. The wraith bit it from the bolts I think."
"Good job, Pink Ranger." Saba floated down until it was even with Corry's head. "White Ranger, you both need to return to the Power Chamber."
"There are paranormalists and reporters swarming all over -- here come some now." Olivia shook her head. "Guess we gave them quite a show."
"Rangers! Wait! Can we ask you some questions?!"
"Hey, what happened here! There are readings off the scale!" One of the men running over held a funny-looking box with flashing lights that emitted beeping noises. "Oh man, if Uncle Ray could see this, he'd flip out!"
"We need to go." Olivia grabbed Corry's arm.
The girls hesitated, both wincing as the bright light of a holocam was suddenly turned on.
"Rangers, can you tell us what happened here tonight?"
"Umm..." Olivia wasn't sure what exactly they could tell these guys.
"Just a little wraith busting." Corry joked. Saba floated into it's holster. "Let's go."
The girls disappeared in twin flashes of pink and white that briefly lit up the area.
"Damn." The paranormalist sighed. "They are so elusive."
"Yeah." The reporter scratched his head. "Wonder what they're hiding?"
Looking at the remains of the granite angel, the paranormalists shook his head. "Would you rather tangle with that? Seems to me they're protecting your citizens." Folding up his device, he gave a nod. "Excitement's over. G'night."
* * *
It was absolute mayhem in the Power Chamber when the girls 'ported in. Chelsea, Trey and Thomas were embroiled in a discussion with Gavin and Will, looking at something neither girl could see. Nisha and Jared were yelling at each other while a harried looking Raph tried to referee. Not one of them noticed the two girls.
Olivia stepped forward. "Hey guys? We just- "
"No, you interrupted my date! I saw the carrier signal, Jared! It WAS yours!"
"So if the sunspot activity were to increase in the eleven year cycle -"
"Why would I!" Jared threw up his hands in irritation. "YOU interrupted my date! And for what? To yell at me?!"
"RANGERS, PLEASE -"
"But what about the draining of power you sensed? What would -"
"Ay yi yi!"
"Guys..." Raph tried to push in between the two glaring opponents.
A shrill whistle split the pandemonium and brought complete silence. As one, every eye in the room, including Zordon's, went to the diminutive figure in pink armor. "Thank you." Olivia said dryly and bent to pick her helmet up. "We need some help with her wrist-"
Corry stepped back in alarm as every single person suddenly rushed towards them, all talking at once.
"Corry! What -"
"Why didn't you call us?"
"You're morphed! What happened!"
Olivia stepped between them and Corry, holding out her arms. "HOLD IT!" She glared at the group. "What has gotten in to you people?"
Will slipped past and took his daughter's arm, guiding her over to one of the diagnostic tables. "Can you power down?"
"Huh?" Corry felt sluggish. "Oh...power down." She swayed as the pain, held back from the power of morphing, hit full with the disappearance of the armor.
"Hang on." Will grabbed a hypo and checked the contents before administering it to her. "That should dull the pain." He pulled a scanner from a drawer and ran it over her. He scowled at the readings from her wrist and back. "What happened?" Will's normally relaxed face was tight with concern, and his green eyes were paler than normal.
"We were ambushed by wraiths," Corry gritted out. It still burned as if her wrist was on fire.
"They took over two granite angels." Olivia hovered at the foot of the bed, biting her lip in uncertainty. "I managed to stay away from mine using the Power Bow."
"Saba isn't a long-range weapon." Corry managed a painful smile.
"You can throw him, you know." Thomas walked over to stand next to his sister, who was watching the whole thing from Olivia's side. "He's tougher than he looks."
"So I'm learning." Corry's pained look eased as Will began to run a red beam over her wrist and back. "But the wraith was more interested in upclose and personal. I smashed Saba into it's chest and it shattered."
"Solid granite?" Jared's eyebrows went up.
Trey nodded soberly. "Saba is not an ordinary blade. None of the Power weapons are."
"Yes, well..." Will frowned at his daughter. "Next time don't smash yourself along with the wraith." He gingerly began to probe her wrist, making sure the beam had worked. "The armor should've protected you." He gazed at her. "You shouldn't take unnecessary risks, Corry. Fighting unmorphed against putties in the old days was one thing, wraiths are another."
"They surprised us and got me just before I morphed. Dad," Corry said softly. "I'm not that stupid." She looked up sadly.
The former Blue Ranger met her gaze, his expression a mixture of irritation and deep concern. Reaching out, he folded the girl into his arms, cradling her head. "I know, Corry. I'm sorry." Eyes closed he held her close for a moment before setting her back. Both father and daughter surreptitiously wiped their eyes. "Why didn't you call for the others?"
"We tried." Olivia shrugged. "All I got was static."
Gavin shook his head. "I was afraid of this. The wraiths have figured out how to block and manipulate our communicators." He looked at Will. "Just backs my theory of them being electromagnetic creatures."
"Huh?" Nisha shook her head. "Whatever."
"The question is, what will we do if they can block our communicators?" Raph wasn't smiling as he looked around the chamber at the gathered group. "We're in big trouble here."
Corry giggled and shook her head. "Welcome back, Raph."
"Yeah?" A reluctant smile lifted the corners of the young man's mouth. He walked over and tapped Corry's nose. "You need to be more careful." He looked at Olivia. "Good job, 'Livy. Both of you. You came out alive and mostly in one piece."
Satisfied Corry was fine, Will walked over to Gavin. "I think there's something I got from Aquitar that might help. Let's see if we can rig it to work...."
"Hey!" Nisha got everyone's attention. "Don't forget tomorrow we promised Mr. Stewart we'd take the Little Angels group to the Explorer Museum. We meet at nine sharp."
"Glad someone keeps our social calendar straight." Gavin smirked. "I just don't know how we'd coordinate dahling."
"We'll do lunch." Olivia giggled.
"And you," Nisha pointed at Jared. "owe me dinner and a movie. That's what I had to leave to answer your call."
"Oh yeah?" Jared's smile was one of amusement. He grabbed the finger pointing at him. "How could I refuse such an enticing offer?" He winked.
Olivia grinned and batted her eyelashes. "Aww."
"You wait a few years," Raph said, happy his friends weren't arguing.
"Hunh." Corry shook her head. "She already has crushes on-"
"WE," Olivia put her hand over Corry's mouth. "were just leaving. I think the pain killer is making my friend here a little slap-happy. See you tomorrow!" Beaming a smile at everyone Olivia and Corry teleported out.
Chelsea smiled and shook her head. "Is Angel Grove ready for those two?"
"Was it ready for you?" Thomas winked at his sister. "Gotta go. See ya." He left in a flash of green.
"He is just like Tommy!" Chelsea rolled her eyes. "A real brat."
* * *
The next morning dawned bright and warm, with just a little breeze to keep the flags in front of the Explorer Museum waving. Kids were streaming off a bus and being directed by a man in his late twenties with the help of Nisha.
"...but we wanted to go see the T-Rex exhibit-"
"And we don't have to go with you."
"Yeah." The twins crossed their arms and stood back to back, eyeing their sister defiantly.
Corry let out her breath slowly, annoyed. She didn't want them to know it though. "Okay, ya little spores." Corry shrugged. "Go with Gavin. He's checking out that exhibit."
Surprised at winning so easily, the twins stared. "Really?"
"Yep." Corry grinned as each twin grabbed one of her hands.
"Thanks, Corry!" They chorused in unison.
"Just..." A pained expression crossed her face. "don't climb on the skeletons this time, okay?"
"Why do you put up with them?" Olivia scrunched her nose as the twins darted across the plaza in search of Gavin. "They're holy terrors."
"Nah." Corry grinned. "Just lively. They'll be good with Gavin. He keeps them entertained with horror stories." She shivered and looked around, spotting the rest of the gang trying to organize the kids. "We'd better go help before Nisha duct tapes that kid to the flagpole."
* * *
"It's great of all of you to volunteer to take the kids on an outing." Justin Stewart pushed thick brown hair out of his eyes and smiled at the teen in front of him. "The kids love stuff like this."
"No problem." Raph watched the orange vests of Gavin's group disappear, heading for the Natural Science exhibit. "He saw Jared and Nisha rounding up their kids, trying to get them to put the red vests on. "Excuse me, I need to ask Jay a question."
"How long have you been in town, Thomas?" Justin smiled his easy-going smile. He didn't have the teen in any of his classes at the High School, but for some reason he looked familiar.
"Um...not long." Thomas stuck his hands in his pockets and looked around, trying to avoid the man's gaze. "You run the shelter and teach?"
"It keeps me busy." Justin's smile dimmed, a sad expression crossing his features. "It's tough growing up without parents."
"There you are!" Corry pounced on Thomas, grabbing his arm. "You're with our group." She smiled at Justin. "Hello, Mr. Stewart. You going on any of the tours today?"
"Nope." Justin held up a mini laptop. "Grading those Advanced Physics exams."
"Oh." Corry's smile faltered, then brightened. "Well, it wasn't too horrible a test, I guess."
"I'm sure you did fine, Corry." Justin had almost all the teens in one or other of his classes and knew them all.
"Let's go!" Olivia waved her arms from across the plaza.
"Oop. Gotta go, Mr. Stewart. See you in a couple of hours!" Corry dragged a not completely unwilling Thomas in her wake.
Justin watched the four teens gather up a group of five kids from the shelter and head out. "Ah to be young with no responsibilities." With a sigh, he walked over to a table set up under a tree and began to grade the exams.
* * *
"Okay. Fine." Corry shook her head, perplexed as the yellow vested kids disappeared down the hall, Olivia and Raph in tow. "What is it with horror movies?" She turned to look at Thomas who was checking out an exhibit on firearms. "They're all going to the Hall of Horrors."
"You're not?" He straightened, surprised.
"No way." Grinning, she pointed to another corridor. "Action/Adventure. Hall of Heroes. That's for me." Tilting her head to one side she raised an eyebrow. "Want to come with?"
Smiling warmly, he nodded. "Sure."
* * *
"That looks like a giant coyote."
Nisha looked where the child was pointing and nodded. "That's Anubis . The one that looks like a falcon is Horus. They represent deities in Egyptian mythology."
"Huh?" The boy gave Nisha a confused look. "I didn't understand half of that, ma'am."
"Ma'am?" Nisha shook her head and sighed.
"Are there any mummified remains?"
Jared did a double-take, looking at the young boy, no older than nine. He sounded like Gavin. "Uh...yeah. Over here."
"Do mummies really walk around after dark?" One little girl, black hair braided neatly, took hold of Jared's hand, looking up with huge dark eyes. "We watched a movie where they did."
"That was just a movie, Jessie." The brain, as Jared privately nicknamed him, shook his head. "Real mummies are just the remains of long dead people."
'Ew." Jessie grimaced. "Kevin always tells us gross stuff."
"Yeah?" Jared grinned. "I have a friend that does that too."
* * *
"Alex!" Gavin caught hold of the boy's orange vest to prevent him from climbing up on the exhibit. "Whoa there, partner." With the other hand he grabbed Becca, who was hot on the heels of her twin. "Hold up, you two. You haven't even looked at the display."
He knelt between the two, still hanging onto their vests. Casting a quick glance over the other five kids he saw they were all engrossed in fossil digging with one of the museum people. "Look at this." Gavin released Alex as the boy leaned against him for a better look and activated the holo display.
"What is that?" Becca wrinkled her nose as she pointed. "It's ugly."
"A velociraptor." Gavin warmed to his subject as both children leaned in for a closer look, their arms going around his shoulders. "It was one of the fastest dinosaurs and they believe they hunted in packs."
"Like wolves." Alex nodded.
"Or killer whales." Becca got her two cents worth in.
"Yep." Gavin grinned. "That big claw on it's foot......."
"That isn't a toe?" Chewing on her lip, Becca turned pale green eyes on him.
Gavin chuckled. "Nope, this was a special feature....."
* * *
"Look! There's the guy with the hockey mask!"
Olivia followed and nodded. "Jason from Friday the 13th movies."
"Yeah!" The boy grinned wickedly. "Hah hah hah hah shh shh shh shh."
Raph shook his head. "Who is this? I know they were into piercing themselves in the nineties, but... Gross."
"That guy's from Hellraiser." Olivia grinned. "I don't think he had much to do with that craze, though."
"Hey, here's Father Death from Scream 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5! And the killer's dagger!" A holo of Scream was running, and the kids gathered to watch in rapt fascination.
"Oh...geez!" Raph groaned. "Hang up the phone and star sixty-nine his sorry butt!"
Raph sighed and watched half in fascination, half in horror. It was gonna be a long afternoon.
* * *
Thomas shook his head, an amused smile quirking his lips. "These movies were popular when I was a kid." He leaned forward. "Hey! They did end up making the last three."
"Mom has all of 'em on holo if you want to see them." Corry grinned. It was fun to watch Thomas' reaction to the movies that were, in her eyes, classics. "Star Wars one through nine."
"Really?" He looked at her, then back to the exhibit of Yoda and Luke in the swamp.
"This one's cool." Corry pointed. "They made a kagillian of them back in the nineties too."
"Batman." Thomas followed Corry over to the exhibit. "When did Batman and Robin come out?" Reading the display he shook his head. "Geez, how many people did they get to play the lead role anyways?" He noticed another figurine and an appreciative smile curved his mouth. "Batgirl, huh? Nice armor."
Corry pretended not to hear. "Sometime in the late nineties and I haven't a clue."
"Did you ever see these movies?" Thomas moved on down to the next exhibit.
"Terminator and T2?" Trailing after him, Corry thought for a moment. "I think so. Wasn't that the one with the unstoppable robot?"
"That's the one." Thomas smiled. What seemed like yesterday to him was history to her.
"There it is!" She grabbed his arm. "Come on, I want to show you something!"
* * *
"...and then it was-"
"Gavin?" Alex interrupted the teen's story, tugging on his arm.
"Yeah?" Gavin sighed. Each twin had interrupted about six times. "What didn't you under-"
"Why is that skeleton over there turning black?" Innocent caramel brown eyes met Gavin's dark blue eyes which widened in shock.
"What?" Gavin looked up just as Becca let loose with an ear-splitting shriek. Grabbing the kids, he stood and raced for the fossil exhibit. "Get 'em outta here, now!" He shoved the twins at the man helping the kids dig.
"Kids, go!" Gavin glanced back at the skeleton which was now completely black. "Alex, Becca, get them out of here!"
For once, the twins didn't question him. They began to grab their friends from the shelter and push them out of the room.
The man frowned. "This is not at all appropriate behaviour, young man. I hope you...." Eyes widening the man stared as the skeleton of the velociraptor began to move, trying to pull free of the pins anchoring it. "I think I'd better make sure the kids...uh.."
Gavin waited until the room cleared before reaching for his morpher. "Yellow Ranger Power!" He looked around. "Oh man, just me and the shredder." He hit the all call on his communicator, knowing it was probably useless, but hoping someone could come and help.
Now free, the skeleton completely filled in and covered in black, looked at Gavin with beady yellow eyes that seemed to burn with an unholy intensity. With an odd rattling growl it advanced on the Yellow Ranger.
* * *
Jessie looked at Nisha, a skeptical look scrunching her features. "She had the head of a cow?"
"No, that's how she was represented in mythology." Nisha sighed. She was tired of repeating the same thing over and over. Did they ever run out of questions?
"Is this an animitronics exhibit?" Kevin turned from his examination of the Egyptian deities and moved closer to Jared.
"Huh?" Half of what the kid said was like babble to Jared. He frowned as the rest of the kids darted behind him, several pointing. "What now?"
"Whoa!" Nisha leaped back as the statue of Anubis, now completely black, began to move. It lowered it's arms and moved to pick up a spear. Horus was over half black also.
"Run!" Jared whirled and shoved the group of children towards the exit. "Go find Mr. Stewart!"
Once the kids were out of sight and their yelling voices couldn't be heard, Nisha grabbed her morpher. "You wanna dance?" She thrust her arms out. "It's morphin' time! Red Ranger Power!"
A flash of red light flared, followed closely by a wave of blue light.
"Blue Ranger Power!" Jared faced off with the now completely black figure of Horus. "A falcon and a jackal versus a bear and a wolverine." He grinned wickedly under his helmet as he stanced. "Time to pit ancient against modern."
"Yeah?" Nisha stanced. "Let's blast them into the past!"
* * *
Raph frowned and looked down the way they had come from. Was that screaming he heard? _Hard to say, with them watching that movie._
Olivia looked up. "Did you hear that?" She blinked in surprise as a pack of children went running past the Hall of Horrors, screaming. "What the-"
"Trouble." Raph took two steps towards the corridor when a scream made him whirl, stancing.
"It's moving!" A little girl pointed at the figure of Freddy Krueger.
"Aw, Shelby." Christopher, one of the older kids, waved his hand. "You're such a wimp."
The other kids, now nervous, gathered in a tight group with Shelby, standing next to Olivia.
Raph walked over to the statue, leaning closer to get a good look. "It looks - Whoa!" He leaped back as the figurine suddenly became totally black and swiped at him with the vicious curved tips of Freddy's claws.
The kids screamed as Raph fell, scrambling back on his hands in a bizarre version of the crab walk.
Freddy stopped to smile wickedly, baring black, sharp teeth. His eyes flashed yellow.
"Go!" Olivia ordered. "Run!"
She didn't have to tell them twice. They scrambled for the exit, not even looking back.
The girl turned and froze, eyes widening. Her face paled. "No way..."
"It's morphin' time!" Raph stood and thrust his morpher out. "Black Ranger Power!" A wave of black light surged up and died down, revealing a Ranger in Black armor.
"P-pink Ranger Power!" Olivia morphed even as she was backing away from the terrifying image walking towards her. Pink light flared, making the figure hesitate. The Pink Ranger pulled the Power Bow out of thin air and snapped it up. "Back off!"
Pinhead, now completely black, merely shrugged and continued forward.
* * *
Thomas stared at the holo, shock in his eyes and expression. "That's.... That's Teddy?"
Corry slanted a look sideways, almost afraid to see his reaction. "He's one of the hottest holo stars right now." She looked at the holo and sighed. "Ted is so cool."
_My little brother is a movie...holo...star?_ Thomas blinked, watching the holo in fascination.
Six ninjas faced off against one man in a deserted alley. The man in the leather jacket took his sunglasses off slowly and looked the warriors over, shaking his head. "Only six?" He shrugged and put the sunglasses in his jacket pocket. "Okay, girls. Let's see what you've got."
The ninjas leaped at him and for a moment it looked as though he would be overwhelmed. He slammed two into the brick building on one side and grabbed one ninja's arm, swinging him into two of his teammates.
"I'm warmed up now, ladies." Ted cracked his knuckles and grinned wickedly. "Give it your best shot and we'll see who's been slacking."
Thomas shook his head in amazement. Teddy was good. Yeah, it was a movie, but those moves couldn't be faked. "He's fast." He smiled as Teddy executed a series of three roundhouse kicks, taking out the last of the ninjas. "Nice moves."
Corry nodded, watching the holo, admiration for the man shining in her face. "Yeah. He's so hunky." She blushed bright red as Thomas gave her an odd look.
"Isn't he a little old for you?" Thomas cocked one eyebrow, grinning.
She opened her mouth, all set to launch into an explanation when Thomas's expression suddenly changed. Growling an expletive, he grabbed her and shoved her behind him. "Hey!" Corry's protest died as she looked around him and saw the coal-black figure of Darth Vader moving off it's platform and stalking towards them. "Oh, not again..."
"Morph!" Thomas wasted no time talking. Pulling his morpher he yelled, "Green Ranger Power!" Hearing an odd noise behind, he spared a glance at Corry. She was briefly illuminated in green light as he morphed, but was scowling. "What?"
"There's another wraith here." Blue eyes glittered icily as she narrowed her eyes, scanning the area. Her gaze locked on the Terminator robot and her mouth moved up into a snarl. "There! White Ranger Power!"
Thomas turned away from the white flare to face Darth Vader. _How does she do that?_ He shoved the thought aside for the time and moved forward to fight his oddest -- and possibly toughest -- opponent yet. Summoning his katana he swept it up in front of him. "Let's rumble, Dark Lord."
* * *
"Yow!" Gavin tumbled sideways, hit by the tail of the velociraptor. Regaining his feet, he shook his head to clear it. _That skeleton is millennia old! I can't ..._ He leaped up, using the armor's power to gain the high ground and clung to the second floor railing. The black velociraptor circled below, hissing and growling. It leaped, snapping at his boot, and almost got it.
_That's it._ Gavin scowled. _It's either it or me, and I'm too young to die._ "Hey bird-brain! You had your day!_ Holding the railing with one arm, Gavin twisted his left wrist. A gauntlet appeared over the top of his glove, three gleaming bolts shimmering for a moment before solidifying. Gavin sighted in on the velociraptor's chest. "Time for extinction!"
The three bolts shot out, striking almost simultaneously. The bolts began to gleam, as if heating up. The velociraptor shrieked, throwing it's head back in agony as the golden gleam worked it's way up it's chest, burning the black away from the skeleton. In a matter of seconds it was over, and only a pile of bones lie in a silent heap.
Gavin let out the breath he didn't know he'd been holding. "Feel the burn, baby."
* * *
Nisha dodged the thrust from Anubis and summoned her nunchakus. Whirling them faster and faster she grinned at the jackal-headed warrior. "You wanna play, dog-face?"
Jared leaped to avoid having his feet swept out from under him. Landing, he flipped back to gain some fighting room. "Come on, tweety!"
The falcon-headed figure stopped advancing and pointed at Jared. A black tendril whipped out and struck him on the chest, knocking him on his butt.
"Gonna play rough, huh?" Jared stood and stanced. The two circled before leaping at one another and exchanging a flurry of blows. Jared was panting when they broke. This was gonna be tougher than he thought.
Anubis twirled the spear and suddenly lunged forward. One of the nunchakus snagged on the spear and the jackal-headed warrior yanked it out of Nisha's hand.
Nisha narrowed her eyes. "Now you've pissed me off." Holding the chakus in front of her she circled the Anubis. "You won't get another chance at that, bub." As the Anubis thrust again, Nisha turned, narrowly avoiding getting speared. She flipped the nunchaku so it wrapped around the spear and pulled.
Tossing the spear aside, she whirled and snapped the nunchaku up. It connected hard with the Anubis' head, hitting hard enough to knock it sideways. Straightening, the jackal snarled, eyes gleaming angrily.
Nisha dove sideways as a black tendril whipped past her head. Rolling into a crouch she felt her foot hit something.
"Hey dog-face!" Nisha stood, raising the spear. "Time roll over and die!" She hurled it with all her enhanced strength. The Anubis staggered as the spear plunged into it's chest. The wraith shrieked and released the figure, rising in an attempt to flee. It only got halfway off the jackal's head before evaporating with an odd puff.
Jared was getting tired of this. Horus and him seemed pretty evenly matched, but it didn't seem to be getting weary like he was. They circled again, both looking for an opportunity to strike.
As the other wraith shrieked, Jared saw his opening. Fisting his hand, he summoned the power to it. Stepping forward he slammed his fist into the Falcon-headed figure's chest. Horus tumbled end over end, smashing to a weapon display. It screeched, grasping futilely at the spear protruding out of it's stomach. With a weak scream, the wraith melted off the figure, disappearing.
"Fist of death," Nisha commented in a wry voice. "Nice work."
"Not sure the museum people will agree with you, Nisha." Jared sighed. "Better see if we can find the others."
* * *
Raph put a hand up, touching the gashes in his chest armor in shock. They immediately began to re-seal, but it left him a little shaken. He scowled at the Freddy Krueger figure. "You picked on the wrong guy, boiler boy." Raph reached out and summoned his weapons. Each hand suddenly held a silver multi-bladed, gleaming weapon. He slashed them, backing Freddy off a bit. "You're not the only who likes sharp things, Krueger. Let's see how well you like your own medicine!"
Olivia stared at Pinhead, hesitating. It stared it her, yellow eyes boring coldly into hers. She had a bolt notched in the power bow, that was keeping it at bay. Zordon's rules echoed in her head.
Do not escalate a fight.
Pinhead had done nothing. If she shot it, would that be violating the rules? Her aim wavered.
Faster than her eye could follow, a dagger flashed by, nicking her helmet.
"What hides beneath that armor, hmmm?" Pinhead taunted. "Remove it and we'll see...." Pulling another dagger from his belt, Pinhead gestured suggestively with it.
_That did it!_ Olivia sighted down the bolt and let it go, following it with another and another.
Pinhead was knocked back and fell. The wraith released the figure and leaped up, intent on escape. Olivia's last bolt shot through it, and it disappeared with a shriek.
Raph and Freddy were locked blade to blade, neither one giving ground.
Raph gritted his teeth and pushed Freddy off him. Whirling, he caught Freddy in a tornado kick that rocked him back. Leaping up, Raph crossed his arms slashed down diagonally then stepped back. "Go back to hell, Freddy."
Freddy was still for a moment, before the figure simply fell apart. The wraith wailed as it rose, gaping wounds in it's ebony form. With a last whimper, it disappeared.
"You okay, 'Livy?" Raph, shaken more than he cared to admit, turned to his teammate.
The girl sat with a thunk. "I don't think I'll ever be able to watch a horror holo and feel the same again."
Raph just nodded in silent agreement.
* * *
Thomas was glad Darth Vader couldn't utilize a real lightsaber, but that didn't make beating him any easier. The ebony blade the wraith had summoned was bad enough.
The blades clashed with a clang and the hiss of metal as they slid to lock hilt to hilt.
"You are good, human...."
The hissing voice startled Thomas and he barely ducked in time to avoid being decapitated.
"But even the best warriors have a weaknesssss...."
Corry rolled to avoid one of the massive robotic arms. It crashed down next to her, cracking the floor with the force of it's blow.
"Yow!" She leaped up, grateful it hadn't been her head. _Not sure even the armor would've protected me against that!_
Corry backflipped several times, trying to gain extra time and room. As she came upright she saw Thomas engulfed in black flames. "THOMAS!" Grabbing Saba, Corry bolted over to him.
"NO! Corry stay back-"
It was the last thing she heard before her world went black.
* * *
Gavin skidded to a halt, turning to see the Red and Blue Rangers jogging towards him. "Oh man, am I glad to see you! Where is everyone?"
"Don't tell us?" Nisha said dourly. "You had a run-in with our shadow pals, too?"
"Yeah." He sighed. "It tried to eat me for lunch."
"Have you seen the others?" Jared looked up and down the corridors.
"No." Gavin shook his head. "I was just-"
"Guys!" Olivia ran towards them, Raph right behind. "We were just-"
"Attacked by the wraiths?"
"Yeah." Olivia nodded. "How did you know?"
"We were too." Jared said grimly.
"Where are Corry and Thomas?" Raph turned in a circle. "Weren't they going to the Hall of Heroes?"
"Yep." Olivia waved for everyone to follow. "Come on! They might need our help!"
* * *
_What the heck....?_ Corry groaned and sat up slowly. _I'm unmorphed!_ A shiver went through her suddenly and she pulled her morpher. The coin was still there, gleaming brightly. She sighed in relief and put it away. _At least it... Wait. Where am I?_
Turning, Corry tried the door in front of her.
"Aw...geez." The door was not going to give. Short of breaking down the massive solid wood door, there seemed to be no way out. Corry turned in a circle, realizing she was in the one place she had really hoped to avoid. The haunted house. "GAVIN!"
"..avin! Avin! Avin.." Her voice echoed eerily down the hallway of the old Victorian mansion. The very dark hallway was probably full of things she didn't even want to imagine. Gavin was incredibly creative when it came to frightening people in his haunted houses.
"Damn." Corry reined in her temper and sighed. _How...?_ Her expression hardened. The wraiths. Those eerie black flames were the last thing she remembered. And Thomas had been engulfed also. _Well, I'm stuck here now. The program continues until I make it out. If I make it- _ "Knock it off, Cranston!" Squaring her shoulders, Corry decided to go right, into the formal drawing room. Thomas was probably somewhere in this maze also. _I could try to find him...._ She gulped. _ If only this wasn't Gavin's stupid haunted house!_
The chill in the air wasn't a bit alleviated by the fire roaring in the huge fireplace, but Corry walked over to stand next to it anyway. The mantle was higher than her head, and was coated with dust. Slipcovers were over all the furniture in the room, giving it an lonely feeling.
_Maybe I can just stay here...._ She jumped as the piano in the corner began to play. Corry whirled and backed up against the mantle. No one sat at the dusty old grand, but it was playing, the ivory and black keys moving under ghostly hands. She recognized the music as Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.
_It's just one of Gavin's stupid pranks._ Corry bit her lip, swallowing hard. Suddenly the drawing room didn't seem so appealing. Edging away, she slipped out of the room to stand again in the entry. The dark hallway filled with eerie shadows was out of the question.
That only left the stairway in front of her. Shadows swallowed the stairs halfway up, shrouding her view of whatever was there waiting.
The floorboards in the hallway creaked and Corry heard echoing footsteps coming towards her. In a fit of panic, she dashed up the stairs, completely forgetting her fears of what lie waiting.
* * *
"Where the-" Ted Oliver scowled and looked around. He had no idea where he was, or how he'd gotten from his condo to here. It had been a teleportation of some sort, but where normally there was only a moment of disorientation, this had left him jumpy. He could feel the hair raising on his arms as goosebumps formed.. Teleporting had never done that. "Hello?"
He was in a room lit only by a branch of candles sitting on a bureau. Ted walked over and picked up the candles, then turned, holding up to look over the room. It was a study. Books lined the walls and a very dusty desk sat in the middle.
Curiosity overcame irritation, and Ted walked over to the desk. Setting the candles on the dark mahogany surface, he bent to examine the drawers. No locks. With a shrug, he reached out to pull the top drawer open. Nothing exciting. Odd though. Ted pulled out a bottle of ink and some quills.
"What the hell...?" Ted unscrewed the ink bottle with a frown as it gleamed oddly. "Just what is this -" He dropped the bottle, spitting a rash of expletives as he jumped back.
The black fluid oozed out of the bottle and began to take form. In a matter of seconds, a dark form stood before Ted. The candlelight made it gleam like polished ebony and lit the eerie yellow eyes. They peered gleefully at the man and the shadow smiled, showing off two rows of highly polished, sharp teeth.
Reflexes honed years before kicked in, and Ted reached behind him. Pulling the morpher he growled, "Green Ranger Power." There was a breathless moment where nothing happened, then a flash of green engulfed Ted. When it died down, he was clothed in the armor of the Green Ranger. Stancing, he swayed slightly as a wave of dizziness washed over him.
For a moment the Green armor faded, not quite disappearing, before once again solidifying. Icy tendrils of fear gripped Ted's heart as he realized the green coin probably didn't have enough power to hold up in another fight. _No choice then._ Without hesitation, Ted Oliver pulled one glove off and reached to his belt where the green coin nestled inside the morpher. The moment his bare skin touched it, he felt a shock as the connection was made.
With a grim smile he pulled his glove back on and felt the armor power up again. The coin was pulling from his own body's energy now. It wouldn't last long, but hopefully it would be enough. Bowing mockingly to the demon, he growled, "Ready to rumble?"
The shadow's smile widened and razorlike claws extended from its fingertips.
_Damn. Not good. Oh well._ Ted Oliver, Green Ranger, braced himself, sending up a prayer that someone would find him before this thing shredded him to little, tiny bits.
* * *
Thomas stood up, rubbing his posterior. That had been a rough landing! He looked around. _Where am I now?_ He wasn't even morphed! Frowning, he remembered yelling at Corry right before.... Before ending up here.
_Great._ He sighed heavily. _She's probably here too. Wherever here is._
Something weird. As if scenting for prey, Thomas looked around through half-closed eyelids. The only light came from the candles on the nightstand next to the bed. There was a feeling, almost like a vibration just beyond his senses, that was making him wary. He prowled across the room, past the huge four-poster bed, to the door. The knob turned, but the door stayed firmly locked. Thomas tried pulling on it with no result. The door looked very solid. _Doubt I can bust through that._
The hair on the back of his neck began to slowly rise as the temperature took a sudden drop. Stiffening, Thomas closed his eyes and instinctively reached for the power within. Tapping into it, he quietly called it to him. "Dragonzord."
Green light briefly illuminated the room then died, leaving Thomas dressed in his green ninjetti outfit. Taking a deep breath, he turned.
And gawked. A woman stood there, dressed in a black velvet gown that hugged her curves like a second skin. Her skin gleamed like pale ivory in the candlelight, and there was plenty of it showing. The dress plunged in a deep V between her breasts that left little to the imagination. Midnight dark hair gleamed with blue highlights as it fell in thick waves to her waist. She smiled, green eyes smoldering. "Hello, Thomas."
Thomas shut his mouth with a snap and gulped. What kind of place was this? And just who was this knockout?
Her smile widened, showing pearly teeth. "My name is Jett." She sat on the bed, the high slit in the dress revealing perfectly shaped legs.
Thomas stepped back and hit the door. No where to go. Sweat began to bead his forehead. _I'm in trouble._ Not that she was his idea of the perfect woman, but she exuded sensuality from every pore. From the predatory look on her face she hadn't brought him here just to tell her a bedtime story and share milk and cookies.
"Why don't you come over here and get comfortable?" Jett patted the silken comforter and smiled invitingly.
_Oh, man..._ Thomas could smell her perfume, a mix of spice and musk that was almost overpowering. Suddenly the room wasn't so cold anymore. In fact, Thomas thought it was a little too warm, and a lot smaller than it had been when he entered.
The woman stood and stalked slowly toward him, stopping a hand's width from him. Looking up at him through sooty lashes she pouted. "Don't you like me, Thomas?" Reaching up she ran a hand up his chest and pulled down the mask covering the lower half of his face. Jett licked her lips like a cat cleaning cream from its whiskers and smiled very slowly.
His heart was pounding as he stared at her mesmerized. The pupil in his eyes dilated as his breathing became rough. _Get a grip, Oliver!_ By sheer will power, he kept his eyes on hers and avoided glancing down at the woman's cleavage that was almost touching his chest. His hands fisted as he fought to think clearly.
Every breath he breathed brought in another dose of the seductive perfume. Thomas wondered if he could fight against the sheer volume of hormones being dumped into his system just from her nearness. His own body was betraying him, and no matter what his muddled mind was attempting to muster, it was a losing battle. Wetting his lips, Thomas attempted to form a coherent question. "W-what are you doing here?"
Jett gazed deep into his eyes, her voice husky. "Waiting for you." She pushed the hood of his costume back and ran long nails through his hair. "I've been waiting..." Jett snaked an arm around his neck and pressed her body against his, pulling his head down to hers with her other hand.
_Resist it, Oliver!_
It was Thomas' last coherent thought before Jett's lips met his.
* * *
Corry's panicked flight led up her the stairs and through a series of twisting hallways. Reason finally reasserted itself and she stopped, panting for breath. She was in a dark hallway, lit only by candles placed at every other door. There were about six doors on either side, all closed, all exactly the same.
"Oh God..." Corry groaned as she leaned against the wall and slid down until she was as small as she could make herself. Arms around her legs she contemplated her situation. _You either go forward, or retrace your steps, Cranston._ She glanced down the hallway and shook her head. _NO way. Who knows what pops out of those doors?_
Just as she finished her thought a door slammed open and a platoon of ghostly figures turned and marched down the hall and through the wall, the sound of their boots echoing.
Feeling utterly miserable and sorry for herself, Corry rested her forehead on her knees. _I just want to be out of here!_
Hysterical laughter threatened as she heard a ghostly moan and chains rattling nearby. _Get a grip, girl!_ Taking a deep breath, Corry pushed her self-pitying thoughts aside for the moment. Later, she could whine and moan. Right now it was time to do something about getting out of here. _I just wish I wasn't alone._
_Wait! Duh...._ Corry rose to her feet and warily looked around. No one. Reaching behind her she pulled her morpher from it's dimensional pocket. _Abuse of the power or not, I am NOT going on by myself!_ "White Ranger Power!"
When the white light died down, the White Ranger stood in the hallway, feeling much more confident. "That's better." Corry grinned. This might not be so bad after all.
A banshee wail from just around the corner from where she stood made Corry leap to the other side of the hall and stance. She gulped, feeling as if her heart had all but jumped out of her mouth. Nothing appeared to attack her. No more wails.
"That's it." Ticked off, and frightened, the White Ranger finally hit the end of her rope. She reached seeming into thin air and Saba suddenly appeared in her hand. Before the enchanted sword could say a word Corry growled, "One smart aleck comment, sword, and I swear I'll use you to gut fish next time we go camping."
Saba blinked, and closed his mouth.
"We're gettin' outta here, Saba. Even if we have to cut a new exit. I'm sick and tired of being jerked around by these shadows!" Twirling Saba expertly, the White Ranger held the sword up to face level. "Ready?"
"Of course, White Ranger." The enchanted sword somehow managed to sound surprised and pleased at the same time.
"Good. Let's go!" Corry looked right: the hallway of doors -- and unknown surprises lay that direction. Left was more dark passageways, and the staircase down...somewhere. She realized she had no clue what route she'd taken to get here. _Great going, Sherlock!_ Corry stiffened as another of the banshee wails echoed from her left. "Okay...right it is." Gripping Saba firmly, Corry started down the hall.
* * *
Thomas gasped as Jett pulled her mouth from his. _Breathe!_ Never, in all his nineteen years, had he been kissed like that!
Green eyes met his fascinated gaze as Jett smiled seductively. "You look a little hot. Why don't you take your tunic off?" She traced one finger around his lips. "I can make you more comfortable."
The last vestiges of thought fled and Thomas nodded, his eyes almost glazed. Before he could move, his tunic was free from the waistband of his loose pants and Jett was running her hands up his muscled back, pulling his tunic off.
"Mmmm," she purred, and dropped the tunic on the floor behind him. "Much nicer." Her hands roamed freely over his chest and shoulders as she moved closer and once again pressed her body against his. One of her legs wrapped around his as she again drew his mouth down to hers.
* * *
Ted felt sweat trickling down his neck and realized he was tiring quickly. He leaped up, barely avoiding a swipe of the ebony creatures curved claws. There was one major problem in fighting the creature. No room to maneuver. No where to go to avoid it. Gathering himself, he struck out with a series of roundhouse kicks that forced the demon back.
Tommy had taught him how to coordinate that series, making him practice it over and over until he had it perfect.
_Where the hell did that come from? I haven't thought of Tommy in...years._
Ted's thoughts were abruptly brought back to the present as the gleaming claws sliced through the hard gold shield covering his chest like it was made of butter. He leaped back, putting the desk between him and the shadow demon.
For a moment, the two opponents stared at one another in silent reassessment. The demon smiled. "You have fought valiantly, Green Ranger, but we both know the outcome." It's voice was a slithering dual-toned hiss that sent shivers racing up Ted's spine. "It is time to choose. Be killed or serve my master and live."
The rips in the gold shield were not resealing like they should. Ted felt the cold, icy air of the room penetrate the armor. He felt like he had run a marathon, and knew it was the coin pulling from his body's energies.
Gathering himself, Ted Oliver straightened. He narrowed his eyes, chin rising. "Rangers don't surrender, demon. And we don't serve evil."
The gleaming eyes narrowed as the demon flexed it's claws. "You are foolish, Green Ranger."
Ted shrugged, a cocky grin curving his mouth. He just knew the demon could see through the helmet. Damned if he'd let it see how tired he was! "Eat shit, demon."
The demon hissed, and crouched. Ted stanced --
* * *
Nothing had jumped out yet. Corry was eternally grateful, but still wary. She jogged down the hallway, wondering if it was her imagination, or did it just keep getting longer and longer? "Saba, will you check -"
Suddenly she stopped dead.
"White Ranger, why did you stop?" Saba turned in her hand, to look at her. "We are heading in the correct -"
"There are wraiths near." Her voice was a whisper, almost like one entranced. Slowly Corry turned to face a doorway that looked like every other door in the hallway. Her lips curled in a snarl. "There," she growled. "Saba, shoot that door outta my way!"
Ted froze. The demon turned -- both staring in shock as the door blew apart, shards of wood spraying everywhere.
A white armored figure leaped through and skidded to a halt, stancing. "You wraiths are really beginning to piss me off!"
The demon didn't wait for the new Ranger to attack. This White Ranger was much more petite than the Ranger it had just fought. If she was foolish enough to think she could beat it.... Claws extended, the demon leaped, slashing brutally.
Ted blinked, wishing he could rub his eyes. A White Ranger?! This was one of the Rangers he'd seen on the telecast! She wasn't doing to bad against the demon either. He shook his head. It was so odd to see a White Ranger again. Tommy had been the last. Although, besides being female, there were other differences.
"Enough!" The demon hissed. It crouched. "You, I will kill slowly, rending you piece by piece!"
"You sure know how to show a girl a good time, ugly, but I think we're done playing." Corry whirled Saba and thrust him forward. "Take out the garbage, Saba!"
Twin red laser beams shot out of the white tiger's eyes and it roared.
Ted ducked behind the desk.
The demon swayed and looked down at it's body. There were two holes through it's body. "No." It sounded surprised. "You cannot kill me so easily...."
"Saba...slash!" Corry leaped forward and swung the sword. Saba gleamed with white light as it cut clear through the demon's body. Stepping back, Corry waved. "Bye."
With a wailing shriek the demon was consumed by the light and disappeared.
Ted stood slowly, his mind spinning.
"Are you all right?" The White Ranger walked over to stand where the demon had only minutes before.
"Yeah." _I swear, I almost know that voice!_ Ted knew the helmet filtered the Ranger's voices to keep them from being recognized, but it still jogged something in his memory. Another wave of intense dizziness hit him and he swayed. "Power down."
As the armor disappeared, Ted leaned against the desk and regarded the Ranger in front of him with a wry smile. "Thanks for the assist, kid."
"You're getting your slacks dirty, Ted."
"Huh?" Ted looked at the dusty desk. "Oh -" His dark eyes widened then narrowed. "Who are you?" he growled in suspicion. He knew he would be no match for this kid unmorphed, besides being almost completely drained from using the damn coin. Ted tensed, sensing amusement from the armored figure.
"Oh relax!" The Ranger giggled. _He is so handsome!_
Ted watched warily as she reached up and pulled her helmet off. His eyes widened and he almost fell off the desk. "Corry!" He reached out to pull her to him and hugged her, armor and all.
"Really! I am getting squished, White Ranger!" Saba huffed, his voice muffled as he was crushed against the two.
"Good Lord, kiddo! Look at you!" Ted held her at arms' length and whistled. "You've done some growing up since the last time I saw you." He winked.
Corry blushed. "I should hope so! I was only thirteen." Smiling, she let go of Saba and the sword floated up to glare at them.
"And you inherited the blabbing sword, too, huh?" Ted cocked an eyebrow as he looked at Saba. "I read about you in Tommy's journals. He was pretty fond of you."
Corry giggled. "Ah, the infamous Oliver charm." Her expression became concerned. "Are you all right, Ted? You look awfully pale." Usually tan and exuding health, his skin had a grey tint to it.
"It's just the effect of using the coin after all this time, kiddo." He ruffled her hair. "I'll be okay. Where the ... I mean, where are we?"
Corry didn't miss the self-editing and raised an eyebrow in amusement. "In the old mansion Gavin uses every year for his haunted house. Problem is we have company beyond that of his program." _And your brother's clone is in here...somewhere._ That reunion would have to wait.
Ted frowned. "You'd better fill me in before we move on then. Saba, you think you can keep a watch out for us?"
Growling softly, Saba floated over to the remains of the door, leaving the two to discuss their situation.
* * *
Ted was surprised at how focused the kid seemed to be. Banshee shrieks filled the halls and made him startle. Helmet on again, she just kept walking, quietly murmuring to the sword every now and then. He would swear they were going in circles.
Suddenly the floor disappeared beneath Corry's feet and she fell with a shriek. There was a series of loud shrieks and a squishing sound.
"Corry!" Ted ran to the edge and stopped. There were some very un-ladylike words floating up to him from the bottom of the pit. "I take that to mean you're okay?"
"I swear I am going to pluck every hair off Gavin's arms one by one for this!" Corry stood.
Ted covered his mouth to keep from laughing. She was standing on a wet mattress. No doubt when she fell it had felt like something else soft and squishy at first. He swore he could almost see steam coming from the helmet. "Want a hand out?" Ted grabbed the girl's gloved hand and helped her out, still chuckling.
"Glad you think it's funny," Corry huffed.
"Take it easy, White." Ted held his hands up, chuckling. "Considering what we've seen, it could've been a lot worse."
The humor of the situation finally caught up with Corry and her ire evaporated. "Sure you don't want to go first, Ted?" Hand on her hip she regarded him with a smile. "After all, you're the action/adventure holo star." Saba floated over next to her.
"And you're morphed." Ted smiled his patented, guaranteed to win them over, lopsided grin, dark eyes twinkling. "You got the sidekick too, White. I think this is your turn to be the heroine."
_He's at least twice your age, Cranston! Get a grip._ Regardless, Ted Oliver was a handsome, charming man. And he looked a lot like.... "Oh my God." Corry suddenly whirled, almost ending up in the pit again.
Ted reached out and pulled her back. "What?" She had stiffened as if suddenly hit with by something. "You okay?"
"No." Corry once again got the overwhelming sense of trouble. "Th - um...one of my teammates is in here too." Resolution fired her voice. "We have to find him, and fast."
Blinking at the rapid change in her manner, Ted nevertheless was willing to go with her hunch. He'd been a Ranger. Odd things happened when the power got a hold of you. It tended to enhance talents that already existed. "Which way?"
Inside the helmet, Corry's blue eyes unfocused. After a moment she pointed at the solid wall to their right. "There."
"Uh...sweetheart," Ted would've felt her forehead if it weren't for the helmet. "That's a solid wall. How-"
"Like this." Corry walked over to the wall and pushed. A whole section of it swung out, revealing a hidden passage. Icy cold air blasted out, carrying with it the dank smell of mold. Spider webs hung like gauzy banners, impeding their view. "Glad I am morphed now. I see some awfully big spiders in there." She turned to Ted.
Helmet or not, the man knew she was grinning from ear to ear. "What?"
"Chelse told me you have an aversion to arachnids."
"Yeah, I'm afraid of spiders," Ted growled. "So sue me."
"Saba, can you provide some light? Ted doesn't see in infra-red, and I think he'll wanna be able to see." Merrily humming itsy, bitsy spider, the girl started into the passageway.
"You're cruisin', White," Ted grumbled. He pulled his leather jacket together and fastened it before entering. "Maybe we'll come across more of those trap doors ahead."
The humming stopped.
* * *
"...damned thing musta been twelve inches across!" Ted ripped the sticky remnants of the web off his jacket.
"It was kinda big." Corry shrugged. She didn't add that she'd never heard a grown man scream quite so loudly. The sense tugged at her again, more urgently this time and she turned left into another long, dark hallway. "This way."
"No more shortcuts, White!" Ted shook his hair out before following. "I swear when I find out who sent me here...."
He almost walked into Corry, she stopped so suddenly. "Whoa! Wanna give some hand signals there next time?"
Corry just pointed. She got the feeling neither she nor Ted was going to like what lie beyond the door.
Ted frowned, brows drawing together. "What is that?" There was something green barely sticking out from under the door. He would've bent to grab it, but Corry gently pushed him aside.
"Get ready for a shock, Ted." She gestured to the sword. "Saba?"
* * *
Thomas vaguely felt himself pushed back onto the bed, Jett falling across him. Her ebony hair hung like a curtain around them as she continued to kiss him, hands roaming over him. He felt like he was in a stupor, mind totally overwhelmed by the sensations she was awakening in his body.
There was a cracking, splintering noise and then the door was completely blown inwards, shards of wood flying into the room.
Jett sat up with a hiss, her hands on Thomas' shoulders. Tossing dark hair back, the woman's green eyes narrowed as she saw who stood there. "Bad timing," she drawled. A cool, knowing smile curved her mouth. "We're a little...involved...here, as you can see." She stroked a hand across Thomas' chest, down his stomach.
Ted peered into the room, and did a double take. "What the.... Tommy?"
"It isn't Tommy. It's his clone, Thomas." Corry turned her full attention on the woman, resisting the urge to rip the emerald eyes out and shove them in her smirking mouth. "Get away from him." Her voice was cold, a far cry from the joking teen.
"Why should I?" Jett settled more of her body across Thomas'. "He isn't protesting." Smirking she leaned down and kissed Thomas passionately, smiling as he groaned, tightening his arms around her. "And he is past the age of consent."
"Whoa." Ted shook his head. The woman exuded a sensuality he could feel across the room. It beckoned to his senses like an addicting drug. He took a step back. "I think I'd better stay outta this one, White." As soon as he stepped outside of the room, he felt normal again. "She's...uh...a little too attractive, if you know what I mean."
_That does it._ Furious, Corry growled, "Who are you, witch?" She took a step forward.
"Ah, ah..." Jett waved one hand and a blaze of ebony flames leaped up between her and Corry. She ran her hands through Thomas' hair, pausing to toy with his ear. "I don't think you understand. We don't want to be disturbed." Her eyes narrowed. "Go and play with your dolls, little girl, and leave us grown-ups alone."
Corry's hands tightened on Saba as a wave of fury passed over her like she'd never felt before.
"White Ranger," Saba choked. "Please you're going to snap-"
"Huh?" Corry looked down. "Oh, sorry." Tears filled her eyes as she realized she had no idea how to fight the beautiful woman. To step in the flames was to be teleported away again. She could send Saba over, but Corry had a hunch this woman was far more than she appeared to be. _Doubt even Saba can touch this wraith._
Her gaze went to Thomas. He looked completely blissed out, hands roaming freely over the woman. That hurt Corry worse than any weapon the wraiths could ever bring against her. She was no match for this vixen, and she knew it. _Not unless I can suddenly grow about three inches and three cup sizes!_
"White!" Ted saw the girls' shoulders slump. She couldn't be giving up! Rangers never... "Come 'ere, kiddo!" He waved her over.
Corry bowed her head and turned, walking reluctantly over to the door. "Ted.... I...I can't beat her. She's a wraith, a very powerful one. And she has Thomas, and I can't hurt him or I'd never forgive myself-"
"Shhh." Ted grabbed her shoulders. "You can't give up, either. Come on, kiddo. You're the White Ranger. Pure of heart and deed. Zordon didn't chose you, the power did. There was a reason."
Corry shook her head. "It was a mistake. Even the wolf didn't show, Ted." It still stung her that everyone else had had a face to face meeting with their totem animal and she hadn't.
The man had no idea what that meant, but looking over her shoulder he saw something had to be done and soon, or Jett was going to have Tom -- Thomas. THAT was not good. He had a suspicion that would allow the woman control over him. Ted looked at the depressed girl and an idea came to him.
He dropped his voice and stooped to look into the visor. "Corry, don't let him go that easily." Ted put his hand under the girls chin and raised her head. "You care for him, don't you?"
Corry swallowed, fighting the tears. _Don't cry! You'll get your helmet soggy!_ "Yes."
She said it so softly he barely heard, but it was what he hoped for. "Then go win him back, kiddo!"
"Corry." Ted smiled tenderly. "What she is inciting in him is not love, trust me. He's so young it doesn't take much to overrule brains with hormones."
She bit her lip so hard it bled. _What if it doesn't work? Or he doesn't care? I'll look like a fool!_ Corry closed her eyes in pain, hearing Thomas moan again. "All right."
Throwing caution to the wind, she turned. Corry took a deep breath to calm herself then let Saba go and stepped up to the edge of the barrier of flames. "Thomas?" Irritation rose when he didn't even look at her and she reached up and yanked off her helmet. "Damnit Thomas Oliver! Look at me!" She stomped one foot.
Jett's eyes narrowed as Thomas suddenly jerked his mouth away from hers and looked in Corry's direction. "Thomas," she purred, stroking his chest.
Seeing the glazed look in the brown eyes, Corry began to lose her confidence. _Ted said it was just...um...normal reaction. Guys aren't as invulnerable as they think!_ "Thomas, we need you. You're part of our team."
The plea wasn't lost on him, but it didn't quite counteract Jett's attentions. Thomas blinked, trying to focus....
"You're an adult now, Thomas." Jett leaned down to breathe in his ear, sending shivers down his spine. "Time for more adult entertainment."
"Thomas, come on." Corry started to get frustrated. Jett had a completely unfair advantage. "Use your brains, will you? You get teleported out of a battle with the wraiths into this place and a gorgeous woman just happens to be here waiting to seduce you? Stop thinking with your...er, body...and use your mind!" Corry's face was beet red by the time she finished saying this, but she refused to back down. Eyes glittering, she stepped as close to the flames as possible. "If you chose this, this cheap floozy over...." A tear escaped and trickled down her cheek. "Over me...." Corry wanted to die, admitting that in the face of Jett's mocking smirk. "Thomas...."
"That's it, kiddo," Ted encouraged quietly. "The truth. Tell him the truth."
Jett frowned as Thomas' eyes began to clear. "Thomas, don't listen to the child."
Corry reached up and scrubbed the tears away, suddenly determined. She swallowed hard. Fisting up one hand, she suddenly stuck it through the ebony flames and reached for Thomas.
It hurt. Hurt worse than when she'd fallen from the tree and broke her leg; worse than when her best friend had moved away; worse than when she'd hurt her wrist. It burned with a cold ferocity determined to break her. Already she could feel it trying to suck her in, and teleport her away. Corry gritted her teeth and looked Thomas in the eye. "Come with me." It was more plea than command.
The heat in Thomas' body was suddenly dampered, the grogginess replaced by clear vision. He grabbed Jett's wrists and pulled her off of him, sitting up. She smiled and shrugged as he frowned at her.
"Can't blame me for trying." Tossing her hair she rose to her feet in one graceful movement and pulled her hands free. "Our name is Legion, White Ranger." Jett straightened proudly, green eyes burning bright.
"Rage, rage against the dying of the light.." Corry responded defiantly.
Jett shook her head, an almost admiring smile curving her lips. "You are one small light against that darkness. You and your friends together are nothing more than a candle in a storm." Drawing a cloak of darkness out of nowhere, Jett gathered it around her. "And we will overcome."
With a rush of cold air she disappeared.
Corry threw her helmet at the spot the woman had stood in, tears pooling in her eyes again. "NO!"
Thomas stood and walked over to her, hesitating. He looked uncertainly at her, a thousand questions rising up in his dark eyes, holding him back. _After what she just saw...._
Corry's lip trembled as she looked at him, seeing all of his uncertainty. _Well, I'm not so certain about anything either...._
She stepped forward as he reached out and encircled her with his arms.
Ted leaned against the door frame and smiled. "As much as I hate to break up this touching scene..." He sighed. "We're still stuck in this place." He reached down and picked up the green tunic, tossing it to Thomas.
Thomas smiled down at Corry and loosened his hold as she stepped back. She looked away, cheeks pink.
"Our communicators might work now." Thomas pulled his tunic on.
Corry picked up her helmet as Thomas lifted his wrist. "Oh, wait!" She darted over. "If it does work, get Gavin."
Thomas shrugged. "Okay." He hit a button. "Gavin, are you there?"
There was a tense moment of silence broken only by the wail of a banshee from somewhere outside the door. Ted quickly stepped through and joined the two. He smiled and shrugged. "Don't wanna provoke trouble."
"Come on...." Thomas sighed impatiently and stared at the communicator.
"THOMAS! Is that really you?" Gavin's voice cracked in his excitement. "We've been looking for you and Corry all day! Mr. and Mrs. Cranston are about ready to-"
Corry grabbed Thomas' wrist and glared at the communicator. "Gavin Skullovitch, we are in YOUR stupid haunted house! You wanna come get us out of here before I go crazy, please?"
"Oop-" Gavin's voice sounded like he was trying not to laugh. "You're in the old Tate mansion?"
"YES!" Corry stomped a foot in exasperation. "Gavin, so help me, if you don't get us out of here-"
Thomas pulled his wrist away, grinning at her. "I think she's serious, Gavin. Besides, we need to fill you in on what we found out about the wraiths."
"The wraiths?" Raph's voice broke in, concerned. "Is that what happened to you two?"
"Yeah." Thomas sighed. "Long story. We'll tell you-"
"When you get us outta here!" Corry shouted. She blinked at the two men and smiled innocently. "What?"
Raph chuckled. "We're on our way."
* * *
"What a weird day." Jared slid down the wall of the Command Center to sit on the floor. "It's a miracle none of those kids was hurt."
"Or saw us." Nisha sat next to him with a tired sigh.
"Becca and Alex said they had the time of their lives." Corry grinned as the other Rangers looked at her in disbelief.
"Yeah, after they finished interrogating you about where you went." Olivia sat at one of the consoles. "How did you explain it?"
Corry shrugged. "Told 'em I didn't remember."
Will glanced up from his workstation. "They think she fainted." He smiled as Corry's face turned pink. Gavin snickered.
"Daaaad!" Corry rolled her eyes and shot Gavin a dirty look.
"But now we have a new problem." Raph prowled the area in front of Zordon's tube as their mentor watched the team silently. "You all heard what Thomas told us." He looked at his friends and teammates. "Our name is Legion. Not reassuring."
Jared spoke into the dead silence that hung heavy over the group. "We still have allies." He stood and offered Nisha a hand up.
"That's right." Nisha took his hand and stood. "We have the Gold Ranger."
Corry glanced at her father and smiled proudly. "We have the Morphin Warriors." Will's smile echoed his daughters as he nodded.
"We have our guardian animals." Gavin walked over to stand by the others.
"And we have our friends." Olivia finished the circle as she joined her teammates.
Raph nodded, a sense of pride for his friends displacing the doubt. "We also have Ted Oliver now." He put his hand out, smiling.
One by one, each of the Rangers added their hands. "POWER RANGERS!" Each felt much better about facing what they knew would be coming.
"Where's Thomas?" Gavin asked. "He said he found something on the moon he wanted to tell me about."
Olivia giggled, nudging Corry in the ribs. "Yeah, where is Thomas, Corry?"
Blushing beet red, Corry looked at her feet. "Um...talking to Ted."
Raph squeezed her shoulder with a grin.
"YOU HAVE DONE WELL TODAY, RANGERS." Zordon smiled as they all turned to look at him. "I AM PROUD OF ALL OF YOU."
'Thanks, Zordon," They chorused.
"I'm hungry." Raph grinned as the group started to laugh. "What? Breakfast was a long time ago!"
"Why doesn't everyone come over to the dojo?" Jared suggested. "Mom always keeps the fridge stocked -- just in case Raph or his dad show up."
"Yeah, yeah." Raph grinned good-naturedly. "Maybe we can see who's best two of three while we're at it." He mock punched his friend.
"We're outta here!" Nisha disappeared in a flash, followed closely by four other flashes.
Corry turned to face Zordon. "Um...Zordon, what would happen if Ted did try to morph while Thomas was already morphed? Could it hurt them?"
"TOO MUCH GREEN ENERGY WOULD BE DANGEROUS, CORRIANE." Zordon watched as the girl bit her lip, brooding on his words. "HOWEVER, BOTH THOMAS AND THEODORE ARE AWARE OF THE POTENTIAL DANGER."
Corry nodded. "Okay." She smiled at her father. "Later, Dad. I'm outtie!" She 'ported out in a flash of white.
Will shook his head, smiling as he went back to work. "Kids."
* * *
Several nights later...
"Do I really have to wear this?" Corry put a hand up to touch the blindfold covering her eyes. "It's not part of my costume." She was dressed as Scarlett from Gone With the Wind, complete with a black wig and the sweeping southern belle dress.
"Yes." Thomas gently swatted her hand. "Don't touch. We're almost there." He guided her up several steps and stopped her. _Hope she doesn't kill me for this!_ "All right." Standing behind her, he untied the blindfold and pulled it away.
"No way!" Corry turned to run and found him blocking her way. She looked up, seeing him grinning and glared. "This isn't funny, Thomas!" He looked awfully convincing as a vampire, especially in the dark. None of which added to her confidence.
"Come on, this time it's only Gavin's holo program, and it is Halloween. The others are already there partying." He smiled and raised an eyebrow. "You gonna let them have all the fun?"
Corry bit her lip, looking at him uncertainly. "You don't know Gavin's holos. They're almost worse than reality."
Thomas reached down and took one of her hands in his. "I'll hold your hand the whole time."
Resistance crumbling under the gaze of Thomas' warm brown eyes, Corry blushed and looked away. Shaking her head, she sighed. "I hope I don't regret this."
To be continued....