Disclaimer: Saban is He who owns all. The kid Rangers and wraiths are mine. If you want to borrow them, please -- just ask. The Morphin Warriors, Chelsea, Teddy, Sarah and Daniel Oliver, and Franklin Park (and sorry if I missed listing any!) are Ellen's (and Jen Bigley helped with the MW). Ellen, thank you for writing "Ashes to Ashes". I love that story, and it obviously inspired me. :) You're so creative and you always make time to listen to me ramble on. Thanks! Jeremy Ray, what can I say (oh, it rhymed!)? You inspire me, challenge me, chainsaw my fics to improve them, and you're the best lil bro anyone could ask for. Even if you are temporarily blonde! ;) You also are one creative genius! Thanks is totally inandequate for how I feel, but thank you. Kittie, thanks for putting up with me at my ditziest. You Da Moo, girl! I love all you guys! Also, thanks to Rob Sparling, my newest proof-reader and a cool guy! Gang, thanks for writing to encourage me, and ask if I was EVER going to get the next part done! :) Here it is. Hope you enjoy.
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray 's
In deepest consequence.
"Macbeth" ~ Shakespeare
Angel Grove. The twenty-first century. No noisy buses, no pollution from automobile exhaust. No slums, not too many potholes in the streets, no homeless people shivering in the cold, very few runaways. It had been an idyllic place to live for almost two decades. Perfect climate, sunshine almost three hundred and fifty days a year, low to non-existent crime rate, low taxes, good public schools, wonderful community involvement, the kids scored high on their exams, the adults made more than enough to live on....
It all seemed to good to be true.
"It'll pass." Corry shrugged. She tucked her hair behind her
ear as the wind picked up, and continued to read her notebook. Twentieth
century politics were so involved, so crooked. She could see now why so
many people had become paranoid in the 1990's about the government and
it's power. _Not that President Montoya is perfect, but she certainly makes
this goon Clinton look like yesterday's garbage._
"We're gonna get soaked." Nisha began to shove her things
into her bookbag. "Come on!"
"Okay, okay." Corry glanced up at the sky. Nisha was probably
right. "But Gavin said he'd meet us here at the benches."
"He'll see us over there." Nisha pointed to the covered section
of the picnic area. A fat drop of rain splattered on her nose and she grimaced.
Corry grinned as Nisha sprinted for the covered area. Shaking her head
she stood and put her notebook in her bag. "Geez, Nisha! You'd think
you're gonna melt or something!" Fastening her bag, she held out her
hand. "It's just a few -"
To Nisha it looked like the whole area was lit up by a powerful spotlight.
Brilliant white light exploded in front of her, blinding her. With a scream,
she covered her face and ducked. A deafening boom followed almost simultaneously,
shaking the ground.
"Corry?!" Nisha blinked, trying to clear her vision. Her friend
lay sprawled on the ground, eyes clenched shut, a grimace frozen on her
face. The picnic table next to her was now nothing more than a million
charred pieces of wood. Even the ground was singed.
"Corry?" Nisha dropped her bag and ran to her. "Are you
okay?" She shook her to make sure she was alive. "My God, girl!
You were almost killed!"
"What?" Slowly, Corry opened her eyes, thankful to be alive.
Nisha flinched as her friend yelled. "Not so loud! I'm right next
to you." She touched Corry's arm. "Why - Ouch!" Shaking
her hand she backed away. "Girl, you are full of static electricity!"
Gulping, Corry looked at the table. Her ears were still ringing from
the thunder, and every inch of skin tingled as if thousand of tiny bugs
were crawling on her. Slowly she reached up to touch her hair. "Is
it standing straight up?"
"Not quite." Nisha grinned slightly. "It's close though.
You are a human lightening rod, aren't you?" She helped her stand.
"Yeah, great." Corry scampered for cover as another boom of
thunder echoed through the park. "Ever thought it might be what we
are, and not just me?" She grinned as Nisha realized what she meant
and dashed for cover.
"You think?" She picked up her bag.
"It's possible." Corry shrugged. It was beginning to rain
in earnest now, drops sheeting down. "Do you think Gavin's gonna brave
this just to meet us?"
Nisha snorted. "Doubt it." As if on cue her communicator began
to vibrate. Seeing whose frequency it was she smirked. "See?"
Nisha hit the button. "Yeah, Gav."
"Uh...ladies?" Gavin's voice crackled as static interrupted
the transmission. "How about we meet somewhere else?"
"You won't melt, Gavin!"
Corry shot her friend a look of disbelief, one eyebrow raising slightly.
She raised her wrist and frowned as her communicator didn't respond. "Gav?"
Corry leaned closer to Nisha's wrist. "How about the Chamber? I think
my watch shorted out."
"Again?" They heard him sigh. "Why is it your communicator
breaks more than anyone elses?"
Nisha rolled her eyes. "Not now." She quelled Corry with a
frown. "Meet you at the Chamber?"
"Fine. See ya."
"I didn't fall on it this time," Corry huffed indignantly.
"And the other time wasn't my fault either. Can I help it if the neighbors
dog used it as a chew toy?"
"Don't forget the time you spilled acid on it in lab at school."
Nisha shook her head. "You're just a walking human trouble magnet."
"Thanks a lot." Corry crossed her arms. "If it hadn't
hit on the communicator it would've burned me."
"Yeah, well good thing Mr. Stewart reacted fast." She offered
her arm. "Come on. I think you need a lift?"
"Thanks." Corry sighed. So life wasn't perfect. Whose was?
Her vision disolved into red and white light as the two girls flashed out
of the park.
"NO." Zordon mentally sighed. It had only been two days since
two of his Rangers had been trapped along with Ted Oliver in Gavin's haunted
house. "ALPHA AND I HAVE BEEN SCANNING, BUT HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO
TRACK ANY FURTHER ACTIVITY BY THE WRAITHS."
"I'm surprised she didn't do anything at Halloween." Nisha
sighed and crossed her arms to ward off the sudden chill she had at the
thought of the wraith. She hadn't actually seen the woman, but Corry and
Thomas had described her vividly, and Ted Oliver hadn't left out even one
detail -- to their humiliation. It was what the wraith had said that bothered
her more than her actions. "Our name is Legion."
"THE PAST TWO DAYS HAVE BEEN UNUSUALLY QUIET." Zordon winced.
Except with the team, he amended, as Gavin and Corry's squabble raised
"That's not ...exactly...what I said." He frowned, trying
to figure a way out of the spot he found himself in. "I didn't say
I was distracted by the way she looked in her uniform. I believe I merely
said it fit well." Sweat beaded his forehead as Nisha raised an eyebrow.
"Oh!" Corry crowed. "You just don't remember it that
way!" She reached over and hit several buttons on a console. "How
about an instant replay, hmmm?"
Before the holo could solidify, Gavin cut it off. "I don't think
that's necessary." His face flushed red and he grumbled, "You
don't play fair."
Corry stared at him, all ready to go with the next salvo, but stopped.
He really looked upset. She sighed and elbowed him. "Come on, Gav.
I was just teasing."
"Gotcha!" Gavin slapped a toggle and a holo of Corry popped
up. It was a replay from the time they had worked on DragonZord in the
Aqua Bay. Corry had slid off the Zords' nose into the water, then popped
up, spitting and hissing like a wet cat.
With a look that promised retribution, Corry cut the holo. "Just
you wait, Gavin Skullovich. I'll get you."
"Yeah," Gavin scoffed and chuckled. "You and what army?"
It was a game they played frequently. More often than not, he won.
"Okay kids, play nice or don't play at all." Nisha split the
two up, standing between them. "What is it with you two lately?"
"We aren't serious, Nish." Corry grinned, and winked at Gavin.
"Yeah." Gavin pushed his hair out of his eyes. "Would
you rather we team up against all of you?"
"Again?" Corry and Gavin both grinned wickedly.
"No!" Nisha glared at both of them. "You two are brats,
you know?" She remembered all too vividly the pranks the two had pulled
on them all the years they had grown up together.
The Power Chamber shook slightly as a low rumble ran through the floor.
"Ay yi yi!" Alpha ducked under the console.
"What the-?!" Nisha stepped out of the way as Gavin began
to check the various sensors on the console before him.
"It wasn't any of the Zords." Corry frowned. It sure had sounded
like one of the arial Zords launching. She continued to check the Zord
Bays. "They're secure."
"It's registering from the techtonic plate," Gavin informed
them. "I think it's just a small quake."
"It didn't seem to even register in the city." Corry finished
scanning the communication frequencies and shook her head. "Can you
pinpoint the epicenter?"
"Mmmmm..." Gavin fiddled with the controls for a moment. "Out
in the middle of the desert. Nowhere settled."
"You can come out now, Alpha." Corry bent and offered the
little robot a hand.
"Ay yi yi!" Alpha's helmet lights rapidly pulsed. "Please
tell me the ground is through shaking!"
The three teens shrugged. They'd grown up in the earthquake-prone area
of Southern California. It was just another oddity that occurred once in
a while -- like monster attacks.
Zordon didn't say anything, but a vague uneasiness settled over him.
"RANGERS, PERHAPS YOU SHOULD GO HOME. THERE IS NOTHING MORE THAT WE
CAN DO TODAY."
Nisha shrugged. "Okay."
"Well, I do have calculus homework to finish." Corry looked
at Gavin. "I suppose you're finished?"
He nodded. "All but one last problem. Need some help?"
"Love it." Corry grabbed her bookbag and smiled at Zordon.
"See you tomorrow!"
"Wanna go to the dojo?" Nisha asked them. "Classes are
probably almost over. After you finish homework we could work out."
Gavin patted Alpha's arm and grinned. "Sounds like a brilliant
plan. Lead on, Taylor. Bye Alpha, bye Zordon!"
The Power Chamber was lit briefly by three colorful beams as the teens
'ported out. Zordon sighed. It always seemed so quiet with the Rangers
gone. Not entirely unpleasant, but...somehow making the huge complex almost
lonely. He looked at Alpha and smiled. "WELL, OLD FRIEND, LET'S CONTINUE
WHERE WE LEFT OFF."
"Right, Zordon!" Alpha went to the panel that housed the long-range
scanners. "Beginning, now."
"Good." Jared walked through the rows of students watching
them execute the moves they'd learned. "Very good."
"Straight arm." Thomas corrected the angle of a student's
arm. "Now try it." He nodded and smiled at the boy. "Good."
"Okay." Raph, at the front of the class, waited until the
other two joined him and the class was watching them. "Remember to
practice your katas. We'll be testing for belts next week and there's a
tournament coming up in a month. Great job, gang!" He, Jared and Thomas
bowed as the class bowed back.
Corry walked over to Olivia as the class began to stream through the
doorway. "Hey you!" She hugged her. "You're looking good."
"Thanks." Olivia grinned. "I'm still a long ways from
a black belt." She tugged self-consciously at the yellow belt around
"That doesn't matter," Corry assured her. "You're learning
and progressing. The belts are just a way of measuring that progress."
"That's right." Nisha joined them. "And if Corry ever
gets her black belt without killing anyone it'll really be something to
celebrate." She winked at her friend.
,p> "You're close, aren't you?" Olivia asked, brushing hair out of her face.
"Ah...." Corry shrugged, her cheeks warming to a pink color
as she remembered her first test. Her nerves had gotten the best of her,
and it had been a disaster. "I still have to practice. A lot."
"Yeah," Gavin elbowed her as he joined them. "Don't wanna
give Raph another black eye, huh?"
"Or bruise your behind falling." Nisha's grin stole the sting
from the comment.
"Hey." Jared walked over. "You guys here for some practice?"
He play jabbed at Nisha, grinning.
"Are you implying I need it?" Nisha eyed him. "Let me
change and we'll see just who's best two out of three." Shouldering
her bag, she headed for the lockers.
"Boy, you sure have a way with women." Raph chuckled and shook
his head. "Hope you're ready to hit the mats a lot."
"Hey!" Jared protested. "Last time I beat her almost
all three times!"
"Until she made you mad." Thomas walked over. "You would've
won all of them if you hadn't lost your temper."
"Yeah." Jared grinned ruefully, running a hand over his short
hair. "But it's one of Nisha's weaknesses too."
"Oh?'' Corry raised an eyebrow. "What are the others?"
Her innocent smile belied the twinkle in her eyes. Jared's face flushed
"Just call it loss of concentration," Gavin suggested as he
and the others grinned knowingly.
"I think we can all relate to that at one time or another."
Raph avoided looking at any of the girls. The subject hit a little too
close to home for comfort.
"Okay, Mr. Karate." Nisha walked out of the locker room and
began to warm up. "Ready for a rematch?"
"Always." Grateful for the change of subject, Jared left the
group and walked over to the mats.
"Calculus calls." Gavin gestured to benches set up at the
back of the room and walked away.
"Ugh." Olivia grimaced. She looked at Raph. "Can I work
on that kata with you?"
"You're not going to practice?" Thomas walked with Corry towards
Corry shook her head and tucked her hair behind her ear. "Gav said
he'd help me finish my calc." She stopped, and faced him, remembering
something. "Hey, did you guys feel a small trembler earlier?"
"No." Thomas' expression sobered. "How big?"
"Hardly anything." Corry shrugged. "We were at the Chamber.
It just kind of rumbled the ground for a few seconds." She noted his
concern. "Why?" _Zordon seemed uneasy too. Maybe there's more
to this than we thought?_
"Just something Trey said." He smiled, pushing aside his worries.
No need to get any of the others worked up over nothing. Squeezing her
arm gently he said, "Better go finish your homework. I'm gonna go
talk to Jase."
"Okay." Corry smiled uncertainly. Something was bothering
him. Typical of him to try and cover it up. _Trying to keep us from worrying.
Like that's gonna happen!_ With a heavy sigh, Corry regrouped her thoughts,
and walked over to sit with Gavin. Time for calculation of another kind.
Thomas shrugged and moved behind the punching bag to hold it. "Just
Winding a little more tape on his hand, Jason stopped and looked over
to the other end of the room. Jared and Nisha were sparring. Olivia was
mirroring Raph's moves as he demonstrated a kata. Gavin and Corry were
sitting on the benches, heads bent close as they looked at Corry's notebook.
"Feeling a little left out?"
"No. Thomas looked at the members of the team, and amended his
statement. "Maybe a little."
Jason nodded. "I'm not surprised." Having spent some time
with Thomas lately, he was beginning to understand him better. "They
don't mean to leave you out, you know." His voice was quiet.
"I know." Thomas looked down. "It's weird to hear them
talk about classes and homework, and realize I don't have any." He
Jason had given him a job, working as a teacher at the dojo. That kept
him busy...for the most part. It was the evenings, when the others were
home with their families, when he felt the most isolated. Chelsea and Ted
had helped him find an apartment, not far from the dojo, and had spent
a lot of time with him. It was great having a brother and sister again.
_No sense longing for what's in the past. Someday you'll get used to Ted
and the others being older._
Someday. Thomas looked up at Jason and smiled. "I'm not gonna complain
about that though."
"No doubt." Jason laughed. He jabbed at the bag, splitting
his concentration between practice and his friend. "You still feeling
like you don't belong?"
"No." He met Jason's gaze. "I know I belong now."
Thomas was silent a while, gathering his thoughts as he held the bag, leaning
most of his weight against it to hold it in place. Jason packed quite a
punch. "I was wondering what happened to those girls Olivia and Corry
were supposed to meet at Angel's Rest."
The statement surprised Jason into pausing, fist halfway to the bag.
He glanced over at the kids again. "No one's seem them?"
"No." Thomas shook his head. "I think in the excitement
of the museum and the haunted house they kind of forgot." His eyes
darkened as he brooded. "I've got a bad feeling we're not gonna see
them again." Under his breath he added, "Not as humans."
"You-" Jason lowered his voice. "You think they're wraiths?"
"Chances are good," Thomas answered grimly.
"Have you asked Zordon?" Jason's parental instincts were kicking
in. "Their folks must be going crazy!"
"Gavin hacked into the police data base and they've been listed
as missing persons."
Jason frowned. He knew his friend was holding back. The brooding look
in the dark eyes was one he was very familiar with. "Spill it, Oliver."
He hit the punching bag, resuming practice.
"There've been a lot of missing persons reports filed lately."
Thomas grunted slightly as Jason hit the bag hard. "But for some reason
it's being kept quiet. Not even the media's picked up on it."
"Kept quiet, by whom?" Jason scowled, not liking what he thought
he was going to hear. "You think it's deliberate?"
"Not necessarily." Thomas met his friend's gaze. "I think
the wraiths have infiltrated a lot deeper than we ever suspected."
That stopped Jason cold. He felt a chill and swallowed hard. "How
Thomas shrugged, a hard expression masking his worry. "Impossible
to say. Since we got you back, I think they've changed tactics. Going incognito."
"Taking people over and not showing it," Jason mused aloud.
"It makes sense. They aren't stupid."
"Far from it." Thomas' mouth quirked into an ironic smirk.
"And Jett said they were Legion."
"We've got to do something." Jason scowled. He hated being
out of the action at times. This was one of them.
Thomas nodded. His expression chilled Jason. It reminded him of the
cold face of the Evil Green Ranger -- resolve and utter determination to
do whatever was required to succeed. No failure. Jason shook himself. _This
is Thomas! He saved us all! Saved our kids...._ He couldn't stop the next
thought. _But he started his life on the other side._
"Don't leave us out, Thomas." Jason met the younger man's
gaze. "We're parents, but we're also your friends." He reached
out to grasp Thomas' arm. "Once a Ranger-"
"Always a Ranger." Thomas nodded, a real smile warming his
eyes. "I won't forget." _I just don't want you guys getting possessed
They went on to talk about classes and the dojo, mutually dropping their
concerns for the time being.
"Hey, why the long faces?" Corry bounded over to the two men,
hugging Jason. He was like an uncle to her. "We finished our homework
and Nisha and Jay are almost done, so we were thinking of going out to
catch a holo." She grinned at Thomas. "Wanna come with?"
Jason smiled and hugged her. "What? You aren't inviting me, sunny?"
He gave a mock sigh. "I thought you were asking me out." He winked
"Um...." Corry bit her lip. "I...I hadn't thought -"
Jason chuckled. She sounded like he had at her age, trying to get out
of a tight spot. "I'm teasing you." He grinned at her. "What're
you going to go see?"
"Oh." Corry's relief was obvious. Jason's grin grew. "Ted's
latest is out, but so is that horror holo everyone's been raving about."
"YOU want to go to that?" Thomas' expression was skeptical.
He'd used almost every ounce of charm to persuade her to go to the haunted
house on Halloween! Now she was volunteering to go to a horror holo?
"Well...." Corry looked over at her friends, and shrugged.
"If everyone else does, yeah. I guess."
_Peer pressure is alive and well._ Jason sighed. It had been a blast,
but he wouldn't go back to being a teen for anything. He winked at Thomas.
"You'd better go then, Thomas. Someone has to hold her hand through
the scary parts."
Blushing bright red, Corry wanted to sink into the floor. "Jason!"
She ducked under his arm and punched it lightly. "Now I know where
Jared gets it from!"
Jason just laughed, holding up his hands as she punched him. "Hey!
Go easy on the old man!"
"What time?" Thomas tried not to grin, seeing Corry's feathers
were already ruffled.
"Make sure his watch is wound." Jason couldn't resist the
jab at his friend's notoriously bad memory.
The reference was lost on Corry. She looked at him, baffled. "Huh?"
"No wind-up watches anymore, Jase." Thomas chuckled at the
resigned expression on his friend's face.
"Both of them start at 7:10 at the Cineplex." Corry shrugged.
"'Livy has to go home and change first, and Gavin wants to make sure
one of his experiments is growing correctly."
"I don't want to know." Jason held up his hands. Sometimes
Gavin reminded him almost too much of Billy. "I'm gonna go before
you make me feel too much older." He grinned. "Have fun."
Thomas shook his head, his mouth crooking into a lopsided grin. Same
old Jase. His dark eyes twinkled as he looked at Corry. "Do you want
to meet somewhere?"
_All he did was smile!_ She felt nervous and excited at the same time.
Corry struggled to keep a calm composure, something hard for her to do
with him smiling that way. "Um...sure. How about the bus stop on Elm.
At 6:00. It's halfway for both of us. I don't know what Nisha and Jay are
doing, but Gav, 'Livy and I will probably be together and you're welcome
to join us." _Shut up now, girl!_ Corry mentally kicked herself for
rambling on and on. She bit her lip, feeling foolish.
"Great." Thomas opened his mouth to say more, but Olivia bounded
over to Corry and grabbed her arm.
"Hey! We decided on the horror holo! It's got that hunky Ethan
Moore in it!" She slanted a shy look at Thomas. "Are you going
to join us?"
He smiled easily. "Sure."
"Super!" Olivia pulled on Corry's arm. "We're gonna miss
the next bus if we don't go now, Corry." She gave a meaningful stare.
In danger of being dragged off if she hesitated, Corry waved. "See
Thomas smothered his laughter as he watched them. Olivia barely allowed
Corry time to grab her bag, and Gavin, before dragging them out of the
dojo. He turned to Raph as he walked over. "For such a shy person,
Olivia sure can be a pistol at times."
"A pistol?" Raph looked at him, confused.
"Out-going. A lot of fun." Thomas sighed. Sometimes that twenty
year gap in time really showed.
"Oh." Raph grinned. "Just wait. You think you've seen
Corry and Olivia hyper before? After the holo, we'll probably have to peel
them off the ceiling."
"Combo of candy, soft drinks and excitement." Jared nodded,
slanting a look at Nisha.
"They have too much energy sometimes." Nisha shook her head.
"I swear if we could bottle it, and sell it, we'd be rich." She
noticed the time. "I gotta go!" Kissing Jared on the cheek, she
grabbed her gear. "See you all later!"
The dojo seemed quiet with just the three guys in it. Raph grinned as
his stomach rumbled loudly. The other two looked at him. "Hey,"
he shrugged. "I'm hungry! How about we go to my house and get some
"You have any of that salsa?" Jared's eyes lit up at the thought
of the authentic Mexican food always present at the DeSantos household.
"What are we waiting for?" Jared grinned. "Let's go!"
"I don't know...." Corry returned to the room wearing another
outfit. "How's this?"
"Great. Wonderful." Olivia sighed and rolled onto her stomach.
"We have to go in ten minutes."
"I know." Corry bit her lip as she looked in the mirror. "Is
this too casual?"
"It's a holo, Cor." Olivia puffed her bangs out of her face
and gave her friend a long-suffering look. "Not the Academy Awards."
She grinned. "So tell me, what did Thomas say to you at the Halloween
party? You've been on cloud nine since then!"
Corry turned, cheeks flushing. "We just talked, 'Livy." With
a shrug, she turned back to the mirror. "There were things both of
us needed to clarify." She shook her head. "No, I think the other
one was better." Flipping her long hair over her shoulder, Corry hurried
back into the closet.
"Okay." Olivia shrugged. It was useless to try and pry information
out of her. Corry could be extremely stubborn about some things. "We're
gonna be late," Olivia groaned, as she looked at the clock. She flopped
back, grateful she had already picked out her outfit the night before.
_At least she won't goof around with makeup and waste more of our time._
She sat up as Corry came back out, fastening her skirt. "That's the
best. Let's go!"
"Geez, let me brush my hair, 'Livy!" Pulling her hair out
of the collar of the white sweater, Corry picked up her brush and began
working on the tangled mess. Giving her lips a quick swipe of gloss she
"Finally!" Olivia jumped up, then stopped. "I have to
use the restroom first."
Corry rolled her eyes as her friend darted into the bathroom. "And
she gripes about me making us late."
"Gav! Come on!" Olivia grabbed his arm as she dashed by. "We
are sooo late!"
"Wait-!" Gavin accidentally hit the end button as Olivia grabbed
him. With a disgusted snort he shoved it into his jacket pocket. "Oh,
Arm in arm, the three jogged towards the bus stop. Thomas was there,
waiting as they ran up. The bus was just coming in to sight. "That
"Blame it on these two," Olivia said, bending to catch her
Corry and Gavin exchanged dubious looks and shook their heads. With
a nod, they agreed. Later they would correct her. With twin, devious grins,
they moved up to board the bus.
"We're going down in front." Jared, Nisha and Raph trooped
down to the front row and sat.
"Not me." Corry picked a spot about halfway up and sat. "The
closer you get, the more the holo characters interact with you."
Thomas shrugged and sat next to her. He was surprised the group didn't
stay together. Then again, there were strong personalities involved, and
each had very different opinions. He noticed Gavin and Olivia hesitating
on where to sit. _And there are the in-betweens...._
Gavin grinned and bowed. "I suggest we sit somewhere in the middle,
Giggling, Olivia nodded. They walked to a row half-way between the other
two and sat.
"How much candy did she buy?" Thomas noticed the sack Olivia
carried. "You'd be surprised how much that petite, little person can
pack away." Corry grinned, trying to fight off her nervousness. _This
isn't really a date.... The others are here. Just act normal!_
"Didn't you want any?"
"Not for a horror flick." Corry made a face. "Food makes
me feel sick."
Thomas filed that away for future reference. "Does the holo actually
interact with the viewer?"
"It does if they made it that way." Corry shrugged. "Usually
there's some point in a horror holo where something jumps out and grabs
at the front rows. Personally, I don't like that."
He smiled and leaned closer so no one near would overhear. "Too
close to reality?"
Eyes wide, she nodded. "Exactly."
Thomas had to agree with her on that. "Must make other holos exciting
"Sure." Corry smiled. "Especially if it's an action movie,
like Ted's. You feel like he's right there in front of you. Raph and Jared
like those. They get to check out his latest fight scenes."
"He's pretty inventive." Thomas had found out after sparring
with his brother the day before. Teddy had knocked him on his butt more
than once. _Then again, he has eleven years experience on me now. So much
for being my "little brother"._
"Science fiction or fantasy is kind of strange. You never know
what's going to happen." Corry grinned. "They're almost like
one of the rides at Six Flags."
"Is that still around?" It amazed him what was around still,
and what wasn't.
"Disneyland is too," Corry teased.
"Smarty." Thomas grinned. "I'm surprised there's no lunar
"Actually, there are plans." She shrugged. "It's a touchy
thing. Commercialism, safety, transportation, and just people who want
to keep the moon pristine." Corry shook her head. "If they only
"About Rita's Palace? Doesn't everyone know about that?"
"In Angel Grove, sure. I guess people outside the state think we're
all just weird. They call this the 'Freak Zone'. " Corry nodded at
his disbelieving stare. "Oh yeah. Just ask my dad, or one of the others
who've done a lot of travelling."
Thomas sighed. _What else?_
They stopped talking as other people came in. The theatre wasn't very
full for the show though, and most sat down near the front, leaving their
section mostly empty.
Corry looked at him with a funny smile.
"What?" It was an odd look he wasn't sure how to interpret.
"Loyal fans of horror call the seats this high up the chicken coop."
She shrugged. "I guess we could move closer if it bothers you."
Corry remembered the last date she'd gone to a holo similar to this. It
had insulted the guy that she wanted to sit so far up. She had ended up
leaving him to enjoy the holo alone.
Thomas had noticed several people looking at them and chuckling. It
hadn't been too hard to stare them down. He shrugged. "I don't give
a rip what they think. If you're comfortable up here, I'm okay with it."
Thomas smiled as her trepidation turned to a happy smile.
Music began to play as the lights slowly dimmed. Olivia turned and waved,
flashing a smile and a thumbs up. Gavin pulled her back to face forward.
Corry rolled her eyes, grateful the darkness hid her red cheeks. _With
helpful friends like this who needs wraiths?_
The usual plethora of previews showed first, along with theatre rules.
Corry was startled as Thomas leaned over to whisper, "Nothing's changed
here, I see." She grinned.
"Start the holo!"
"Where's the flick?!"
"Who has the remote?"
Corry giggled, recognizing Nisha's as the last voice.
Finally the holo began. Thomas was entranced by the larger than life
figures that looked incredibly real. It was almost like watching a play
with mind-boggling special effects. The holo emmersed you in the action,
making you feel like you were part of it.
The whole storyline was a rehashed version that he'd seen a million
times, watching horror flicks with Rocky. But, the added reality came from
the holotechnology. You felt like you were walking down the wooded path,
with the forest surrounding you, the moon peeking out from clouds only
once in a while. Eerie howls came from all around, and a branch snapped
behind them. The old farmhouse was just ahead. It beckoned like a lighthouse,
shining into the darkness.
Corry clenched her hands, knowing something was going to come out at
the main character. Knowing didn't stop her from jumping when the creature
leaped on the figure. She cringed in her seat as the two wrestled. The
beast had fangs, burning red eyes, claws, and was vaguely humanoid. It
was trying to chomp the neck of the main character. "Ewww.... Throw
It was Thomas' turn to jump, as the creature suddenly seemed to be thrown
right at him. Corry screamed and grabbed his arm, ducking. She only opened
one eye for a peek when no more howls filled the air. She offered a sheepish
He shook his head, but pried her fingers from his arm where they were
cutting off the circulation. He took her hand and put it in his, squeezing
it reassuringly. The whole rest of the holo was like that. Things appeared
out of no where to leap at the people in the front row, or chased characters
past them. It really didn't have much of a plot, just lots of special effects
for the adrenaline junkies, but it was fun.
The holo was almost over when he felt the first, slight, trembler. Thinking
it was the sound system rumbling from the bass in the music, Thomas didn't
react to it. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Corry look around, but
was caught up in the holo again.
Then a jolt shook the theatre. It almost felt like the whole slab of
earth they were on had just suddenly jumped forward an inch. Corry's grip
on his hand tightened. "That isn't part of the holo!" she whispered.
Nodding, Thomas looked up. They were in a dome, structurally, a sound
design. He hoped they hadn't skimped on materials when they were building
Then the whole place began to roll. Literally roll, as the ground beneath
was swelled, like a wave, and the seats began to undulate. They stood,
fighting for balance. "We've got to get out of here!" Most of
the other people were already heading for the exits.
Corry pointed down and to their right. "The exit's over there."
She saw Olivia and Gavin already heading that way, and hoped the three
at ground level were already there.
"Come on!" It was hard to walk, even harder to hurry, as the
stairs lurched crazily. Using each other to balance, Thomas and Corry made
it down, and dashed for the exit. They were almost the last ones out.
"Another good reason for sitting at ground level," Nisha remarked
dryly as she walked over. "You okay?"
"Fine." Corry winced as the emergency sirens began to wail.
Covering her ears she yelled. "What should we do?" Rangers didn't
normally get involved with natural emergencies.
Olivia siddled up to Corry, hands against her ears also. "Shouldn't
we go to the shelters?"
Raph and Thomas walked over, away from the main group. "Zordon?"
Only static met their tries to reach the Power Chamber. Gavin joined
them, a grim frown on his face. "I don't think teleportation is a
good idea. Communication is being blocked, and I imagine they could do
something to our 'porting too."
"This isn't right." Raph scowled. "Most quakes only last
seconds!" He had begun counting when it first started. This one was
going way too long.
The rolling stopped as suddenly as it had begun. The sirens continued
to wail, joined by the sounds of emergency vehicles and their sirens.
"What's the call?" Nisha and the others joined them.
Lightning split the sky above them, lighting the area, as the thunder
crashed with a deafening roar. Corry and Olivia held on to each other,
both looking ready to bolt.
Jared stood behind them, a hand on either one's shoulder. "We stay
calm." He could feel them shaking and knew neither one liked storms.
The holo had probably made them edgy too. "We stay together."
"Jay's right." Raph looked to Thomas. "We can probably
do the most good here."
"Agreed." Thomas nodded. "Morph and see what we can do
As Raph nodded his agreement, they looked around. "Down here!"
Gavin pointed to a deserted alley. All seven ran into the alley, looking
around to see if they were noticed.
"We're clear," Nisha told them.
"Let's do it." Thomas nodded to Raph.
"It's morphin time!"
"Yellow Ranger Power!" Gavin called in a no-nonsense voice.
"Red Ranger Power!" Nisha's voice rang loud, and confident.
Olivia closed her eyes and in a trembling voice yelled, "P-Pink
Jared grinned, an adrenaline junkie to the end. There was nothing like
the rush morphing gave. "Blue Ranger Power!"
Corry cringed as lightning slashed down and thunder boomed. Her hands
shook as she pulled her morpher. The alley was ablaze with the light show
from the energy of their morphing, and the storm. She felt the ground tremble
as if even the Earth was scared, and gulped. "White R-Ranger Power."
It came out as a whisper, but it did the job as white energy enveloped
Raph didn't hesitate. People needed help. "Black Ranger Power!"
"Green Ranger Power!" Thomas closed his eyes as the rush of
energy filled him and enveloped him. Fully morphed, he grinned and slammed
forearms with Raph. "Gonna be a wild night!"
"All right team, let's rock!"
"CALM DOWN, ALPHA." Zordon surveyed the image of the city
on the holo in front of him. "IT DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE AS BAD AS WE
THOUGHT. KEEP TRYING TO REACH THE RANGERS. WE WILL HAVE TO MONITOR VISUALLY
UNTIL WE ARE ABLE TO CONTACT THEM."
"Oh... Ay yi yi!" Alpha shook his head. "I hope they're
"SO DO I, ALPHA. SO DO I."
"I'll cover the warehouse district," Thomas offered. "Why
don't Blue and Pink cover the south side?"
"Good." Raph gestured. "White, you're with me. We'll
go east and see how the power plant is holding up."
"Stay sharp, gang." Thomas waved and dashed off.
Corry cringed as another clap of thunder came from overhead. "Externals,
dampen." She turned to Raph. "Sorry, but that's gonna drive me
crazy if I have to hear it all night."
"No prob." He gripped her arm. "Let's go."
Raph had read the logs of the former Rangers and knew it was a prime
target for any alien attack. He wasn't too thrilled at the idea of walking
the metal catwalks with a lightning storm breaking loose above, but there
didn't seem to be much of an alternative. "You cover the groundside.
I'll go up."
"Hey," Corry grabbed his arm. "Be careful. No stupid
"Yes, mother." Raph grinned and ducked her swing. Turning,
he soon disappeared in the maze of pipes.
"At least the ground isn't shaking too," Corry said, trying
to reassure herself. She began to prowl through the plant, scanning on
all levels. An old place like this could be full of all sorts of nasty
things they might have forgotten to clean up. She didn't feel like taking
a dip in any of it. Still, there were no hot spots showing, so maybe there
wasn't any waste there after all.
Lightning streaked across the sky, washing the whole area in white-blue
light. Clenching her teeth, Corry hoped Olivia was okay. "Rotten storm."
For some reason, her nerves were on-edge tonight. "Probably that stupid
You say something? Raph's voice came through her suit's internal
"Just hoping no one gets hit by this storm." She grabbed a
pipe to steady herself, as the ground trembled again. "You okay?"
Yeah. Raph snorted. I engaged the low-level magnets to keep
me from falling off. Now I just hope I don't get struck by lightning!
She heard him land on something that clanged noisily. I've got some
movement ahead. Why don't you head my way in case it's trouble?
"On my way." Corry forgot her fears as concern took over.
She jogged through the corridor of pipes, jumping several that had fallen
down. Finally, she got to the area Raph was in. Switching to infra-red
she saw his form moving along a catwalk. "Where did you see it?"
She winced as another bolt of lightning lit the sky.
Northwest of my position. Static fuzzed out part of what he said.
"Oh man." The ground rumbled again, longer and stronger this
time. Corry swallowed hard, fighting down the fear threatening to overtake
her. _Stay clam. Stay rational._ "Hey, Saba!" Pulling the sword
from the dimensional pocket it resided in, Corry grinned at the grumpy
looking tiger's head. "You up for some weirdness?"
"I've been monitoring you, White Ranger."
That was news to Corry. She had no idea the sword could do that. _Then
again, I have absolutely no clue on half his abilities._ "Communications
are iffy." Climbing over a huge pipe, Corry hesitated, scanning for
Raph. "I don't see Black Ranger."
"It's possible the storm is causing the troubles." Saba's
red eyes gleamed in the darkness. He floated freely, hanging next to her.
"Have you sensed any wraiths yet?"
"Me?" Corry turned to the sword, surprised. "No."
She shrugged. "How about you?"
A low growl rumbled from the sword. "They are around, White Ranger.
With a nod, Corry took a hold of the sword again. _Don't need Jett getting
her hands on this!_ Jumping down, she headed off in the last direction
she had seen Raph.
Amazing how little it had changed, considering how many times it had
been rebuilt. Same striped tall stacks. Thomas remembered seeing a stack
much like that in DragonZord's mouth as he and the Zord had trashed the
A wry smile curved his face. _Not a very good beginning._
The Green Ranger prowled silently through the mostly deserted buildings.
He avoided the areas where he heard workers. No reason to scare the poor
guys working late shift trying to load the ships.
_We sure scared enough of them in the past!_
Thomas frowned. _Where had that come from?_ With a frown, he stopped
and turned in a circle, scanning in infra-red. The green-handled katana
appeared in his hand almost unbidden as he spotted a humanoid shape in
the dark shadows. "Show yourself," he growled and gripped the
"I'd love to."
Thomas closed his eyes, fighting against the wash of emotions and memories
the throaty voice evoked. Gritting his teeth, he steeled himself against
the woman. "Jett."
"Hello, Thomas." She stepped out of the shadows and stopped.
She wore a charcoal grey catsuit, high-heeled boots and a short leather
black jacket. Her long black hair flowed like a living thing down her back.
She smiled slightly at him, simply watching, but making no moves. "I'm
"Why?" It was less unnerving to view her in infra-red, so
Thomas left it on. He put the katana between her and him and waited, ready
for any move she might make.
"You've been wondering why I didn't kill you when you were most
vulnerable." Jett raised a hand to brush back wisps of hair the wind
blew into her face. There was undeniable beauty there in the high cheekbones,
the almond-shaped eyes and the full lips.
Thomas did his best to ignore how drawn he was to her. He shifted his
grip on the katana. "And you came here to enlighten me out of the
kindness of your heart?" A sarcastic smile curled his lips.
Jett shrugged one shoulder. She glanced up at the sky as lightning split
the darkness. "Your thinking of me is what drew me to you." Now
she looked directly at him. "Can you deny your feelings, Thomas?"
"My -" Shaking his head, Thomas laughed. "You're confusing
love with lust. Lust is easily inspired. There are no true feelings in
it, it's a base emotion. An automatic reaction, like gagging when something
hits the back of your tongue."
One black eyebrow rose over Jett's emerald eye. "Really?"
She looked away a moment. "Then why were we drawn together?"
Jett looked at him. "Why haven't you stopped thinking of me?"
He didn't like the way the conversation was going. _ I'm not playing
this game. Not again!_ Thomas swung the katana once, bringing it to his
side as he straightened. "You came here to meet me, not the other
way around. I think maybe you should examine your feelings, Jett."
He shook his head. "If you have any."
Drawing herself up sharply, the woman frowned. Without another word
she took one step back and vanished.
Thomas let out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding. Seeing
her brought to mind a lot of memories he wasn't ready to deal with yet.
He'd gotten off easy this time, considering their last disastrous meeting.
He began to wonder if the quietness of the last several days was deliberate.
Pushing the problem aside for later, he headed south, towards the fire.
The dazed man leaned heavily on him, making Gavin grateful for the strength
morphing gave him. He half carried the man over to the area the medics
had set up in a safe area, away from the smoke and debris from the car
"Over here, Yellow Ranger." One of the medics gestured to
a cot she had set up. "Thank you."
"You're welcome, ma'am." Gavin left the man with her and turned
to wade back into the mess caused by a building falling over. It was leaning
on another, older building. By the looks of things, it wouldn't be standing
"Is everyone out of there?" Red Ranger turned to the Fire
Chief. She hadn't picked up any other heat signatures from either building,
but the insulation was probably blocking the scanners. That and the fire
they were still fighting to contain.
"Don't know." The man scowled. _On top of everything else
I don't need these costumed goons bothering me!_ "Engine 7, haul it
Gavin grabbed Nisha's arm and pulled her away. "Let's just go check
it out. He's not gonna cooperate."
With a curt nod, Red Ranger turned, and headed for the building, followed
closely by Yellow Ranger.
"Crawl! Go!" The heat had to be intense. She could feel it
through the armor, though it wasn't anywhere near the limits of the suit.
"Come on, let's go." Shifting the baby to one arm, she grabbed
the wrist of the child next to her. Olivia ducked low as she walked, careful
to shield the children as best as she could with her body. The oldest was
scrambling ahead and almost out. "We're almost there!"
The little one next to her screamed as a beam from the celing fell directly
in their path. Olivia grabbed her and pulled her back against her body.
_Now what!_ Their exit was blocked! Through the flames, she saw the oldest
child dash out the doorway. _One down, two to go!_
"Stay down." She crawled back a little to one of the apartment
doors and felt the door. It wasn't hot. Handing the baby to the child Olivia
pointed. "Go over there, stay as low as possible and don't move until
I tell you to!"
Coughing, the child did as told, crying as she cowered down. Olivia
took a deep breath, grabbed the door handle and tried to open it. The door
didn't move, but the handle came off in her hand leaving the other half
still locked on the other side.
_Oh man!_ Taking a step back, Olivia paused, centering herself. Knowing
she didn't have a second chance, she snapped her leg up and kicked the
door with all she had.
It slammed inwards, wood shattering where the lock had been. "Come
on!" She turned, grabbed the baby and the child and ran into the apartment.
It was cooler in there, but she knew it wouldn't last. Olivia ran to a
window and shoved it open. There was a ledge, just a little wider than
the balance beam she was used to practicing on. _Good enough!_ She looked
at the child. "Okay, what's your name?"
Lips trembling, the little girl sniffled. "Raeshel."
"Well, Raeshel," Olivia shifted the baby to her other arm
and held her hand out to the little girl. "I need you to be brave
and come with me out on that ledge, okay?"
"Raeshal...." Olivia wanted to scream they had to leave, but
managed to hold back. "We have to go now. The fire is already coming
in here." She put one leg out the window, stradling the sill. "Come
on. I'll hold your hand. You'll be okay."
Gulping, dark eyes wide with fright, the child took the gloved hand
and slowly climbed out to stand trembling on the ledge.
Olivia slowly climbed out next to her. _Oh please, God, let this work!_
She could feel the heat of the fire again and knew it was going to engulf
the room at any minute. Taking a tight grip on the baby, Olivia held on
to Raeshel. "Okay, let's go that way. Slowly, just take little steps
They inched their way along the ledge, until they were at the corner.
About six stories below, Olivia could see the complex's pool. She knew
water wasn't going to be any softer for the kids, but in her mind it looked
like a better landing spot.
"We're gonna jump?!" Raeshel wailed.
"Yep." Olivia knew it was risky. The baby especially wasn't
going to do well, but fire was beginning to break out the windows of the
apartments they had just passed. Flames were beginning to lick up the sides
of the building. "Raeshel, come on, just come here next to me and
I'll carry you, okay?"
The child sobbed and shook her head.
Olivia's patience, never that long to begin with when it came to children,
bent and grabbed the child around the waist. "Hang on!" She wished
she'd thought to close down her external amplifier as the child screamed
in her ear.
Taking a deep breath, Olivia jumped.
Static was his only reply.
"Damn." Jared had gone in the building with Olivia, looking
for people trapped. He'd only come out several minutes ago with an elderly
couple who'd been unable to climb down the fire escape. Now it looked like
Olivia was still in the building.
"Not good." Fire had shattered almost every window in the
old apartment building and smoke billowed out, filling the air with thick
black clouds. He ran around to the other side of the building, dodging
the camera people yelling at him. Lightning struck the tower of a building
nearby and the area was lit for a moment by the white flash.
"Pink!" Jared skidded to a halt and ran for the pool as he
saw a pink armored figure leap off the ledge. Gathering himself he jumped
over the six foot brick fence surrounding the pool - and landed with a
huge splash in the pool at almost the exact moment Olivia hit.
The water was churned up from the force of their landing, but Jared
switched over to infra-red and spotted them. He swam over and took the
baby. Olivia was struggling with the other girl and gratefully let go of
"Calm down! Raeshel!" Olivia wasn't so much worried about
drowning, as she was the kid hurting herself. After all, she could breath
for a limited amount of time thanks to the suit. The way the kid was thrashing
around though she might drown herself!
Backing off slightly, Olivia waited for the girl to sink just under
the surface. She grabbed her, turned her facing away from her and began
to haul her towards the steps. "You are so stubborn! Geez!" Huffing,
she hauled the limp child up to the cement.
Jared already had resuscitated the baby. She could hear it's wailing
even over the sirens. _My turn._ Grimly, Olivia laid the child on the cement
and rolled her on her side. "Come on kid, spit out the water."
Gently she pushed against the girl's stomach. It only took a second. With
a gurgled groan, the child began to throw up water and whatever else she'd
eaten. Coughing wildly, she flailed around. Olivia grabbed her and held
her. "Easy, just cough it out. You're okay."
Jared handed the baby to a medic who ran over. The medic's partner knelt
next to Olivia who gratefully handed him the hysterical child. She stood
as Jared walked over to her.
"You okay?" He took hold of her arm. "That was quite
a dive you took!"
"I'm fine." Grateful again for the armor that had protected
her, Olivia sighed. "I hope those two will be."
From the increasing volume of the cries Jared figured they would probably
be fine. "I think they'll be okay." He noticed movement behind
and shook his head. "Here comes the media."
"Rangers! Wait!" A red-haired woman in a suit ran towards
them, her camera man right behind. "Can I have a word with you?"
Jared sighed. They could use the positive PR after their first fiascos
as Rangers. He shrugged. "Sure, but make it quick."
"I'm afraid I don't know, White Ranger." Even Saba didn't
"Damnit," Corry cursed softly. This night was just getting
worse! She stumbled as the ground began to shake again. The pipes overhead
groaned as the ground rolled and shifted. Metal pipes and pieces of the
catwalks began to rip apart and rain to the ground. "Saba!" Corry
didn’t even try teleporting. She ran for the only clear spot she could
see, stumbling, as the ground continued to roll.
Saba soared up, barely avoiding being taken out by a huge falling beam
and hovered, waiting for the dust to clear. The whole structure had collapsed,
and more threatened to do the same as the ground continued to roll. Spotting
the White Ranger, Saba floated over to her.
“I hope Raph isn’t in there,” Corry said quietly as the sword hovered
next to her. She didn’t see any forms putting off heat, so hopefully he’d
gotten away. “Black Ranger? Zordon?” Suddenly the air temperature seemed
to drop. Corry grabbed Saba and whirled, already knowing what would be
“YOU!” Corry stanced. Loathing, stronger than any she'd ever felt, welled
up at the sight of the wraith woman. “What did you do with the Black Ranger?”
Jett rolled her eyes. “Always to quick to accuse, aren’t you?” The wraith
gracefully jumped up to sit on a pipe the size of a truck, and regarding
the Ranger calmly. “Well, that’s all about to end.” She held out her hand,
and a large, inky-black bird swooped down to land on her arm. Its eyes
were a bright yellow. “Mirage, this is the White Ranger. Introduce yourself.”
Launching itself off her arm, the bird morphed in mid-air, it’s bird
shape becoming that of a human. It landed on two feet and smiled coolly.
Corry took a step back, glancing behind her. No way to get through the
mass of twisted pipes behind her. She made a split-second decision. “Saba,
“I can’t get anyone on the comm, I can’t teleport, “ Corry hissed at
it. “Go!” Pulling her arm back, she threw the sword as hard as she could.
_Hope he doesn't go into orbit!_ The sword shot off into the night sky.
“I’m Mirage.” The male wraith was as handsome as Jett was beautiful.
Pale skin, black hair, gold-brown eyes, high cheekbones and a chiseled
body…. He looked like a model for one of those home gym ads.
He left Corry cold. Though handsome beyond a doubt, there was no warmth
in the man's eyes. He radiated coldness. She shook her head. “Stay back!"
In response, he smiled and continued toward her. "Don't be so shy."
He held out a hand. "I could make your wildest dreams come true."
_No way I'm falling for the same trap twice!_ Corry looked up at the
structures above her, quickly calculating a route.
She gave the wraiths a mocking salute. “Gotta go!” Corry leaped up to
the top of one of the structures still standing, landing on a catwalk.
She began to run as the catwalk swayed. Seeing a section of pipe paralleling
the same course, Corry jumped over to it. She started to slide off the
other side. "Magnets, engage!" The magnets in her gloves allowed
her to get a purchase on the smooth metal pipe and she hauled herself back
up, gulping as she looked at the two wraiths far below. Without waiting
to see their reaction, Corry ran.
Jett shook her head, as she watched the white armored form run off.
“She's so predictable.” She leaped lightly down to stand next to Mirage.
“Let’s get this over with, brother.”
With a nod, the male wraith morphed again, this time into the form of
a huge dog. With a loud bay that echoed off the metal structures, he bounded
off after the Ranger. Jett looked around once more, smiled, and walked
He stared at the garden above him, now laying half in, half out of the
side of the building he was standing in. The garden that was supposed to
be on the roof of the neighboring building.
"Oh...shit." Raph saw that the newer building had somehow
fallen sideways and now lay collapsed against his building. "This
is not supposed to happen!"
Backing away, he fell as the building trembled violently. All the walls
were rattling. Another quake!_ Scrambling to his feet, Raph bolted for
the staircase. He skidded to a halt as the floor ahead simply dropped away,
falling to the next floor with a huge crash. Backpeddling, Raph turned
and ran back, feeling the floor giving. There was only one clear way. Powering
up, Raph leaped through the shattered side of the building and grabbed
hold of a tree. He scrambled up on the branch and headed for the trunk
of the tree as it began to tilt alarmingly. Reaching the trunk, Raph jumped
up and grabbed what used to be the railing around the roof just as the
tree surrendered to gravity and fell. Hanging at the dizzying angle, Raph
shook his head and hauled himself up to stradle the railing.
The building was laying at what he estimated was at least a 75 degree
angle, and looked ready to give in the center at any time. "Well,
Raph. This is another fine mess you've gotten into." He grinned. "This'll
be one to brag to dad about though!" Swinging his other leg over,
he lowered himself onto the side of the building and activated the magnetic
grips in his boots and gloves. Hopefully there was enough metal wedged
in between all that glass to allow him to get a grip.
"If not, it'll be one heck of a ride!" With a quick prayer
for extra protection, he let go of the railing.
“Nice of you to finally join us.”
Whirling, Corry stumbled back, almost falling as one of her feet slipped
over the edge. She dropped to her knees and glared. _How did she get here
so quickly?!_ Her heart was pounding as if she’d just finished a marathon
as she looked at the wraith. There was no way she could fight and win,
she knew that. _ But I have to try…_ Swallowing hard against her fear,
Corry slowly stood. “You can’t win.”
Jett smiled then burst out laughing. “Such bravado.” She shook her head.
"You really are a source of amusement.” Her expression chilled suddenly.
“You stand in my way, White Ranger.”
Corry gestured to the drop behind her. “Be my guest. First step's a
doozy.” Her smile faded as the ebon form of a huge dog with yellow eyes
bounded up to stand next to Jett. It growled at the girl. Hands shaking,
Corry forced herself to stand still.
“I'll take care of Thomas for you." The woman smirked. "Good
bye, White Ranger.” Jett raised both hands, and the wind and rain picked
up. The dog howled a banshee wail that carried through the sound of the
wind. Lightning slashed down, striking directly on both of Jett’s upraised
hands and on the dogs back. Leveling her hands at the girl, Jett unleashed
all the power of the lightning at Corry, channeling the energy as more
bolts continued to strike her.
Corry dropped to her knees as the lightning hit her, and dug her hands
into the rooftop searching for a purchase to hold on to. The lightning
danced over her armor, making it glow eerily as it crackled and sizzled
in the rain. Gritting her teeth, she found a handhold and gripped it as
tightly as she could without crushing it.
Lifting her head, Corry winced as lightning shot out of the dog’s eyes
and slammed into her. She began to feel very, very cold and weak, as the
wraiths worked in tandem. Panting, Corry closed her eyes as wave after
wave of dizziness washed over her. Her hold on the roof was weakening,
and she dug deeper, trying desperately to resist. _What's happening?_
It felt like her the very essence of her life’s energy was being sucked
out of her, and suddenly Corry felt the rain and the wind, the rough texture
of the rooftop and fell forward as the armor disappeared.
Peering up through rain-sodden hair, Corry saw the woman looking at
her with an almost pitying look. That pissed her off, and she struggled
to raise herself to a kneeling position, glaring at both wraiths.
“Poor, powerless girl.” Jett shook her head.
Corry realized her communicator was gone as well as her armor. She reached
for her morpher. Her hand met only thin air. A chill swept over her. “What
have you done?”
Jett shrugged. “Forced the power out of you. Fortunately for us the
White power is quite particular about embodying a being of purity.” She
laughed, a cruel, mocking sound. “It wasn’t too hard to overwhelm it with
Shaking now, of cold and reaction, Corry shook her head. The dog was
spent, laying on the rooftop, panting, and Jett looked like she was standing
by sheer willpower alone. “It took it’s toll on you, wraith.”
“Moreso you, human.” Jett gathered herself to stand proudly. “Say farewell.
Where I send you none of your friends will be able to help.”
Corry slowly stood, swaying as the wind pushed against her. She refused
to show her fear, even as she shook and glared defiantly. Tears mixed with
the rain on her face. “You won’t win.”
Jett narrowed her eyes, a sneer curving her mouth as she leveled her
hands at the girl. She spat out an incantation and black flames sprang
up around Corry, engulfing her.
When they died down, only the wraiths were left on the rooftop.
_How long? _ Jumbled thoughts bounced around Corry’s mind as she tried
to make sense of where she was. _Where?_ She felt like she was being absorbed
-- taken in and becoming one with the darkness surrounding her. Like being
dragged down, smothered in quiet layers of nothingness. She began to lose
the struggle, and felt herself float as her thoughts slowed…heavy…sluggish…
Blindingly bright light suddenly penetrated the darkness, flaring down
to take form right in front of her.
Corry blinked groggily, and closed her eyes, slumping to lie still against
the ebony ground.
*It is not your time yet, cub!*
The words only brushed against her consciousness, as Corry felt herself
lifted. That was the last thing she remembered as oblivion claimed her.
"Have you seen-"
"It's just us." Olivia said quickly. "Are you alone?"
"Yeah." Thomas raised his wrist, hitting the all-call. "Raph?
Nisha?" With a disgusted growl, he shook his head. "Still down."
"The cops at the fire said there's a building half collapsed in
the Corporate Sector." Jared pointed. "They've got people trapped
in the rooftop restaurant."
"Let's see what we can do to help out."
The three ran down the mostly deserted streets of downtown Angel Grove,
wondering if the end of the world was near. The sky was alive with lightning.
Thunder, booming and echoing off skyscrapers, consistently drowned out
the wail of the emergency sirens.
Every few minutes the ground would tremble or roll, sending another
tree or streetlight crashing to the ground. All around the city, buildings
had collapsed, trapping people inside. One whole section was flooded from
water pipes that had burst. It was like a war scene out of a movie. The
streets were split at places from the force of the earthquakes, showing
gaping sections of earth.
Homes had disappeared into sink holes, or collapsed under the constantly
shaking ground. Bridges had collapsed under the stress, keeping emergency
crews away from isolated canyons. Helicopters had been called in from all
over. News agencies, tour guides, and private citizens had all had their
helicopters pressed into serving as emergency vehicles. They swooped over
the city like huge birds, carrying those critically wounded to the hospitals.
Giant waves pounded the beaches, sweeping away homes that had been built
too close. Boats littered the shore as if tossed by the wimsy of a bored
child. Even some of the larger tankers were beached, lying on the sand
like bizarre whales.
Oddly enough, in the suburbs, life was normal. Stone Canyon, not more
than ten miles away, was untouched.
,p> News crews from around the world were arriving and setting up all around the city. The crises in Angel Grove was quickly becoming a global event.
Running with the help of their powered armor, the Rangers made it to
the Corporate Sector faster than a lot of emergency vehicles. They slowed
to a jog as they pushed their way past the crowds of curious onlookers
and rescue workers.
"Excuse us, please."
Blue, seeing Pink blocked by two large men, reached past them and grabbed
her arm. "Coming through!" He pulled her between them, and kept
hold of her as they wove through the crowd.
Their arrival created quite a stir in the crowd, some heckling them,
others cheering. Reporters caught sight of the colorful trio and left off
interviewing people. They ran towards the Rangers, shouting questions.
Holocams and lights lit up the night as the reporters swarmed around the
"Who are you?" The reporter from CNN shoved a microphone towards
"Power Rangers! What's going on? What's causing all of this?"
Angel Grove's local news station hotshot tried to get past the others.
"European News Agency," One reporter identified himself. "What
exactly is going on in this city?"
Detective Franklin Park turned to see what the ruckus was about and
stopped short. It was the wildest media circus he'd ever seen. "Well..."
He shook his head, a sarcastic smile curving his mouth. "'Bout time
the rest of you showed up."
Gently pushing past the woman from CNN, and ducking under the police
barricade, Green Ranger faced him. "Where are the others?"
"Trying to get some trapped folks out of the rooftop restaurant."
He pointed to the building still standing. "Before both of those come
down." Turning on his heel he gestured curtly to them. "Come
on, I'll get you in."
Saba growled low, pausing to look around the power plant. There were no signs of his Ranger or of the wraiths. Only the residual coldness and tainted stench the dark ones left behind. The sword was concerned. Never, since being bonded to the newest White Ranger, had it been unable to sense her.
There was nothing -- no connection, nothing to monitor. If the White
Ranger was no more, Saba knew it shouldn't have been there either. Which
meant she was still alive.
Eyes flashing, the sword made a decision.
"Finally!" Olivia leaned against the wall for a moment to
catch her breath. "I sure hope school is called off tomorrow!"
"No kidding," Jared agreed in a heartfelt voice.
Thomas pulled on the door and shook his head. "It's jammed good.
Jay?" He made room for Jared to get a grip. "On the count of
Olivia winced as the door groaned, then gave suddenly. "Guys!"
Blue and Green Rangers, still hanging onto the door, stumbled back against
the railing, fell over it and crashed to the next landing.
"Ohmigosh!" Olivia scrambled down the stairs, almost falling
herself, before reaching them. "Are you two okay?"
Thomas shoved the door aside with a groan. "Yeah."
"Great." Jared sat up, shaking his head.
"Hey!" The three looked up to see Red Ranger kneeling on the
landing above. "You guys really know how to make an entrance, don't
"Ha ha ha," Jared sneered. With a groan he stood.
"We could use some help." Nisha said and stood. "Come
"Remind me to trounce her good when we get out of this," Jared
"Will do." Thomas stood and they climbed back up to the fiftieth
The restaurant was a mess. Broken glass and dishes everywhere, tables
upended and silverware scattered all over. Wind gusted in from the shattered
windows, fluttering the white tablecloths and making them look alive. Part
of the ceiling had caved in, exposing insulation and the heating/cooling
ducts. There were ten people laying on the floor or sitting against the
wall. It was pretty obvious from the blood and makeshift bandages on their
bodies they were the patrons too wounded to leave on their own power.
Thomas froze as he saw an older couple and a young woman. The older
woman had a makeshift sling on her arm, and blood stained the front of
her dress, but she had a determined look on her face. The man was laying
still on the ground, the younger woman holding a bandage to his bloody
forehead. "Oh God, no...." Thomas groaned quietly.
Olivia darted past him, only to be grabbed by Gavin. He held her arm
and walked her away. "They don't know who we are, remember? Stay cool.
They'll be fine."
She struggled a minute, trying to free herself. "But -"
"He's right, Pink." Thomas shook his head. "Let's just
work on getting everyone out."
Olivia felt tears sting her eyes at the cool reprimand in his voice.
She nodded as he walked past. Swallowing hard, she worked on calming herself.
"Don't take it personal." Gavin squeezed her arm. "He's
just upset at seeing them like this, you know." He watched as Thomas
hesitated, then walked forward as Sarah Oliver said something to him.
"Well, they're friends of my parents too!" Olivia sniffed.
"Come on." Nisha walked up to them. "We can feel later.
Let's get these people out before this building completely collapses."
Sarah Oliver nodded, her gaze falling on her husband's pale face. Normally
a tan color, it was pasty. Blood still oozed from a nasty laceration on
his temple. She looked up, seeing color out of the corner of her eye. There
was some sort of commotion going on with the new Rangers who had entered.
The Pink Ranger dashed forward, only to be restrained by two of her teammates.
"Well, that's a comforting sight." Chelsea smiled, pushing
a long strand of dark hair out of her face. It relieved her to see her
brother. "With three more Rangers, we can get out of here."
Nodding, Sarah was startled to see one of the Rangers stop and stare
at them. She stared back in turn. "Teddy?" It was the same uniform
Teddy had worn as the Green Ranger...and Tommy before him.
Green Ranger hesitated, then walked slowly over. He knelt and shook
his head. "No ma'am."
Chelsea bit her lip, seeing her mother's face go white. _His voice is
totally disguised! How could she possibly know?_ "Mom? You okay?"
Chelsea reached out to touch her arm.
"Wha-?" Sarah shook her head, topaz eyes troubled. "I-I'm
"What happened to the gentleman, miss?" Thomas pressed his
gloved fingers against his father's throat and was relieved to feel a strong
"Part of the ceiling fell in on us, but Dad took the brunt of it."
Chelsea indicated his head.
"Has he regained consciousness at all?"
"No." Chelsea wanted to comfort her brother, sensing his distress.
In the past months, the two had become as close as she and Tommy had ever
been. They had even begun to sense what one another felt, like she and
Tommy had. "I'm sure he'll be fine, though. He's a strong man."
Gavin joined them. "I used a table to improvise for a back board."
He indicated the table Daniel Oliver was laying on. "We aren't sure
how bad his head injury is, but I don't think he should be moved too much."
Sarah watched carefully as the Green Ranger gently touched her husband's
shoulder, as if reassuring himself the man would be all right. "Can't
we just..." She shrugged. "Teleport out of here?"
Chelsea nodded, looking at the two Rangers hopefully.
"Well...." Gavin sighed. "Our teleportation seems to
be down. We..um..already tried."
Thomas nodded. _Back down the stairs again, then. Damn!_ He stood and
took Gavin's arm, walking him away, out of hearing distance. "We can't
call the Zords either then, can we?" Gavin shook his head. "We
tried that too." There was real regret in his voice. "Communication
is still jammed."
"Then we just do it the old fashioned way." Thomas squeezed
the Yellow Ranger's shoulder. "It's not your fault. Sometimes technology
"Yeah, but it sucks."
The building trembled as another earthquake hit.
"Let's go!" Nisha already had two people leaning on her and
was heading for the exit.
Olivia helped two elderly people stand and stood between them. For her
it was going to be slow going as neither one of the elderly walked very
"Okay," Gavin helped one of the waiters with a broken arm
stand and gestured for a young woman with a swollen ankle to take his hand.
"Just lean on me as much as you need to. I'm pretty strong, so don't
worry about it being too much." He put his arm around the woman's
waist. "Don't put any weight on that ankle, ma'am."
Chelsea stood and went over to her mother. "I'll help mom."
She steadied her mother who swayed slightly as she stood.
"I think I'm okay, as long as someone's ahead of me." A young
business man, his suit torn and bloody in places stood slowly.
"Stay with us," Chelsea told him. "I can grab you if
you start to fall." She shrugged as her mother gave her an odd look.
"What? I can."
After re-checking the strips of ripped tablecloth tied to hold him still,
Thomas and Jared slowly lifted the table Daniel Oliver was laying on. Jared
turned and took a firm grip on the legs of the table that were only partially
broken off. "Ready?"
"I'll go at your speed." Thomas, walking behind watched to
make sure his father didn't move too much. He gritted his teeth as the
building trembled again. _Please, God, just let us get these people out
The tremor stopped and the slow caravan started down the stairs.
"Madre de Dios," he began to pray quietly. It made him feel
calmer and he opened his eyes. Something was moving inside the building...or
was it the building under the.... Raph shook his head. "Switch to
infra-red." If it was a wraith, he wanted to see it coming.
"What the...." It looked like a group of people climbing slowly
down the stairs. And the energy readings.... "Rangers!" Raph
whooped loudly, happy knowing his teammates were okay and near. "Now
if they could just-"
The window he was laying on cracked loudly. "Oh man!" Raph
scrambled to get a better purchase on the ledge, but felt his fingers slip
as the window cracked again. With a huge crash, the window burst in, sending
Raph tumbling into space.
Olivia grinned, thankful for his lighthearted banter.
"You okay, Blue?" Thomas called. "Let me know if you
want to switch."
"I'm fine." Jared actually wasn't feeling a whole lot of strain,
mostly thanks to the armor. He stopped suddenly hearing a tremendous crash
on the floor behind them. "What the hell?"
Chelsea turned and gave him a scolding look.
"Uh...I mean, what was that?" Jared ammended quickly. He saw
a grin quirk Sarah Oliver's mouth.
"We should check it out." Thomas wasn't too sure what could've
made such a big noise, but he hoped it wasn't wraiths. _That we don't need!_
"I'll go." Before anyone could stop her, Chelsea darted past
them and ran lightly up to the next landing.
"Chelsea!" Sarah and Thomas yelled at the same time. Sarah
moved to follow, but was stopped by Thomas standing in her way. "Let
"I can't do that." Thomas said firmly. It wasn't easy to face
down his mother's blazing eyes. "It's too dangerous."
"My daughter-" She stopped hearing Chelsea's laugh float down
Everyone looked up at the landing as the door opened. "Hey, look
who dropped in!"
Chelsea, grinning ear to ear, had her arm around the Black Ranger. "He
was on the outside of the other building!"
"RA-" Olivia stopped herself just in time. "Black Ranger!
Are you all right?"
"Other than a little shaken." Raph felt fortunate to be alive
considering he had just dropped through one building, crashed through three
panes of very solid glass and was virtually unhurt. Dazed, but whole. "I
"Chelsea Oliver," Sarah scolded as her daughter escorted the
Black Ranger down to her. "Next time think before you act! What if
it had been something dangerous?" Sarah sighed, seeing her lecture
only made her daughter smile wider. "Why is it all of my children
always jump then think?"
Chelsea hugged her and kissed her cheek. "We must take after our
parents." She winked at Thomas.
"Let's move it!" Nisha's voice echoed eerily. "We're
"Well," Chelsea looked at the line of colored armor. "All
we need is your White Ranger to drop in on us and we'll have the whole
"She's probably wondering what happened to me." Raph sighed.
"I was with her out at the old Angel Grove Power Plant when something
decided I should be here." He moved to help the young businessman.
"You were just teleported away?" Chelsea remembered what Teddy
had told her about his experience in being 'ported to Gavin's haunted house.
"I thought your teleportation wasn't working?" Sarah, looked
back to make sure Daniel was still all right. He was still unconscious.
"It isn't," Raph said grimly. "This was the wraiths work."
The building trembled again and a resounding crash echoed from somewhere
"This realistic tour of Angel Grove Tower is courtesy of Power
Ranger Productions and is a one time deal." Gavin called in his best
announcer voice. "Please, no flash photography or recording."
Raph rolled his eyes. "How long has that been going on?"
"The comedy routine?" Chelsea grinned. "Twenty-seven
"Only twenty-three to go."
It felt like an eternity, walk down twenty stairs, turn at the landing,
and walk twenty more stairs to the next level. Gavin talked almost non-stop
as the building continued to tremble, until he was almost hoarse.
When they reached the second floor they all began to cheer, almost giddy
"Thank you for allowing us to escort you today, ladies and gentlemen,"
Gavin rasped out. "It was our privilege and honor to be here. No doubt
this is an experience none of us will forget." His voice was finally
"Hey!" A voice called up from the bottom floor. "There's
people up there!"
Fireman came dashing up the stairs, stopping in surprise at the sight
of six Power Rangers escorting injured people. "Holy.... Hey, someone
get the medics! We got injured!"
Thomas ignored the ache in his arms and shoulders, and breathed in the
fresh night air as they left the building and walked to the parameter.
Medics guided them over to the area set up far away from the buildings
and helped them with their charges.
The media came charging over, each reporter trying to stop one of the
Rangers to ask them questions.
"What exactly happened in there?" The reporter from CNN shook
her head. "You guys really get around, don't you?"
Blue grinned, seeing the same red-head reporter from earlier in the
night. "We try to." He swung his arms, wincing as the muscles
protested. He'd held them in one position, holding onto Mr. Oliver's mock
gurney, and they were stiff. "What time is it?"
"Almost three a.m."
"Whoa." Yellow yawned. "No wonder I'm beat." He
tried to ignore the holocam pointed at him.
Black Ranger gestured to them. "Rangers! Let's go!" He scowled
at the reporters. "Excuse us, but we have things to do."
"Sorry," Blue gave the CNN reporter a salute. "The boss
Angel Grove's finest drew back, a smirk on his handsome face. "No
rest for the wicked?" He jumped back as Green Ranger paused to look
at him. There was a definite aura of power around him, and around each
of the Rangers. Though he couldn't see the Ranger's face behind the dark
visor, the reporter could read body language.
Green shook his head and stalked past, leaving the reporter a little
shaken from the encounter. The man turned and found himself face to face
with Ted Oliver. His eyes widened. "You're-"
"Mm-hm." Ted nodded, a tight smile on his handsome face. "If
I were you, I'd reassess my opinion of the Power Rangers. They've risked
their lives for everyone in this city enough to earn some respect."
Putting his hands in his pockets, Ted favored the reporter with his trademark
devil-may-care smile. "You like your job with Angel Grove Broadcasting,
The reporter nodded.
"Then knock off bad-mouthing the Rangers." Ted's smile was
cool. The glint in the dark eyes belied his relaxed look as he turned and
The holocam operator smirked at the reporter. "Boy, you sure handled
them well." She rolled her eyes, as he glared at the Rangers.
"They're hiding something." He wiped his forehead. "Why
else would you run around dressed like that?"
"Don't know." She turned the holocam off. "But you'd
better remember what Ted Oliver just told you."
"Come on," the reporter snapped. He gestured for her to follow
as he headed off into the crowd.
Raph gathered the group up, apart from reporters and the curious onlookers.
"We still don't have working communications with the Power Chamber.
I asked the police around here and none of them have seen Corry."
"Detective Park said he hasn't seen White Ranger all night,"
Nisha added quietly.
"What?" Olivia's elation at getting out safely faded. "But...."
She glanced over at Thomas who stiffened. He turned and looked away.
"She wouldn't just go home." Gavin said with certainty. "Not
with us out still."
"We need to go back to the power plant." It was cut and dried
to Nisha. Until the whole team was safe they all stayed out.
"Then let's get going." Jared noticed a man walking towards
them. "Head's up."
Franklin Park nodded as he walked over to them. "You guys did good
work tonight." He smiled, a genuine, warm smile that lit his dark
eyes. "Thank you." He held out his hand.
"You're welcome." Black Ranger shook it, touched by the gesture.
"I hope we can count on you in the future?"
Green Ranger turned to face the group again. "The Power Rangers
are here to help protect Angel Grove, Detective Park." The others
nodded at Thomas' words. "Now and in the future."
"Good." Franklin yawned. "Now get home before your folks
worry about you." He winked and walked off.
"What?" Olivia whispered. "He doesn't know....."
"He knows we're just kids." Nisha put her arm around Olivia's
shoulders. "Let's go."
Thomas hesitated as they walked past the ambulance his father was being
loaded into. He nodded to Raph. "Go ahead. I'll catch up." Seeing
Chelsea watching him, he walked over to her. "You okay?" Next
to the ambulance he saw Ted talking to their mother, his arm around her.
"I'm fine." She smiled warmly at him, gripping his arm. "How
He sighed. "I've had better nights. Had worse too." Thomas
gently, and carefully, squeezed her shoulders. _Don't want to accidentally
crush her._ "Is Dad going to be all right?"
"They think it's just a concussion. He should be okay." Chelsea
saw he was looking towards the ambulance. "What?"
"I think Mom knows." He sighed. "She gave me a couple
of really odd looks."
"Mom always was more perceptive than we thought." Chelsea
hesitated, then jumped in. "Look, maybe this is a good thing. Why
don't you come to the hospital with us? We could get all of this straightened
out." She felt him tense. "Thomas, I know you don't want to hurt
them, but putting it off only makes it worse."
He took a step back and Chelsea let her hand drop from his arm. "Maybe
later, Chelse." Thomas felt like his heart was being ripped in half
as she gazed sadly at him. "We have to find Corry first."
"You still don't know where she is?" Chelsea bit her lip.
"She'll be okay, Chelse." It was Thomas' turn to reassure
his sister. He gripped her shoulders gently. "Corry's tougher than
she looks, and she's got Saba."
"Yeah." Chelsea didn't look totally convinced. "When
you find her...think about what I said. Okay? We'll be at Angel Grove Memorial."
He nodded and turned, then turned back and reached out to hug her gently.
"Hug Mom and Dad for me too, okay?" Thomas looked over at his
brother who was watching him with a somber gaze. "And throw one in
for Teddy." He raised a hand to Teddy in a brief salute, and left.
"Thomas-" Chelsea frowned, as he ran off. Slowly she walked
back to her mother who had watched the whole thing with Ted. "We ready
to go to the hospital now?"
Sarah Oliver nodded, moving over to make room for her daughter on the
side bench in the ambulance.
"I'm gonna ride up front, Mom." Ted squeezed his sister's
shoulder, seeing the worried look in her eyes.
As Chelsea climbed in, Sarah put her arm around her daughter's slim
shoulders. She sensed a heavy burden on her middle child, but didn't want
to pry. Instead she just hugged her close, and kissed her temple.
Chelsea smiled. "I love you, Mom."
"I love you too, darling." Sarah smiled. "Don't fuss.
Everything will work out in the end."
"I hope so, Mom." Chelsea sighed. "I sure hope so."
"Where's Corry?" Olivia looked around expectantly.
Raph looked over at Jared as the sword was silent. The Blue Ranger shrugged.
"Yeah, short and grumpy, where's White?" Nisha walked over
to stand next to Thomas.
"I'm not picking up a reading on her at all." Gavin looked
up from the graphs scrolling across his visor. "Saba, what happened?"
"We were at the Power Plant after Black Ranger disappeared."
Saba's eyes flashed, glowing red in the early morning darkness. "I-"
Whatever the sword was going to say was cut off as something thudded
to the ground with a sickening crunch.
Olivia put her hand up to cover her mouthpiece. "Oh..my God."
"Corry!" The team ran over to surround the White Ranger. There
was no response.
"Don't move her!" Gavin gulped hard, seeing the angle of one
arm. _Broken for certain...._
"No one's around. Take the helmet off." Raph knelt next to
Thomas stared hard as Gavin reached out carefully to unlatch her helmet.
"She's not there," he said quietly.
"What?" Nisha waved a hand, feeling a little queasy. "Where
"Madre de Dios," Raph whispered as Gavin turned and showed
them the empty helmet. The whole suit of armor was empty.
Olivia made a choked noise and collapsed back. Jared caught her and
gently laid her down, feeling a little unsteady himself. "Okay."
He took a deep breath. "Okay."
Gavin shook his head, for once at a loss for words. He handed the helmet
to Thomas who stood.
"Power down." Expression grimly serious, Thomas took the helmet
and stared at it for a long moment. He traced the wolf design. "Jett."
The coldness in his voice chilled every single one of the Rangers. Raph
took a deep breath. "Power down." He stood and stepped forward
as Nisha and Jared also reverted to civilian clothing. "Thomas...."
Wordlessly he handed the helmet to Raph. "Saba, will you come with
me?" Turning on his heel, Thomas strode off, the sword following him.
"We shouldn't let him go alone." Nisha knelt next to Olivia.
"Gav and I will take care of 'Livy. You two follow him."
"If we can, " Jared muttered. "If he doesn't want to
be followed it won't be easy."
Setting the helmet gently next to the armor, Raph sighed. "Come
on." Slapping Jared's shoulder, Raph headed off after Thomas.
"Stay alert." Jared traded glances with Nisha then took off
"Gav?" Nisha turned from Olivia and put a hand on his shoulder,
gently squeezing it. "You okay?" He was still staring at the
empty suit of armor, and still morphed. She looked around. The area was
deserted and quiet.
"It's not real."
"What?" Nisha sighed. "Gavin, we have to face the facts."
"I am." Gavin picked up the helmet and lifted it to show Nisha.
"This is plastic."
"Fake." He pinched one side and was easily able to break it.
"Jett deliberately did this to scare us."
Nisha's expression hardened. "If she's hurt Corry, so help me God,
I'll kill the bitch!" Dark eyes cold, she looked down at Gavin. "Do
you think the guys are heading into a trap?"
Gavin shrugged. "Power down." He sighed heavily, worried about
everyone and everything. "I don't know, Nish." Gently, he reached
out to touch the Pink Ranger's helmet. "We need to take care of Olivia
first though. The guys are capable of taking care of themselves."
_Not from what I heard about this wraith!_ Nisha fought her urge to
run after the guys. Gavin was right. "Let's take her home. I think
she's gonna want her folks when she comes to."
Nodding sadly, Gavin reached under the armored form to grab her arms.
He grunted. "Too heavy morphed!"
Nisha rolled her eyes. "Red Ranger Power!" After the red light
cleared, she gently pushed Gavin aside, and easily picked the Pink Ranger
up. Cradling the girl, she nodded to Gavin. "Grab the armor and let's
"First, the hospital. Then we find Jett." Thomas reached out
and gently took hold of the saber. "You don't have to stick with me,
buddy. I don't know where you go, the Power Chamber or ...wherever. If
you want to go-"
"Really, Green Ranger!" Saba huffed. "I have no such
intentions." It's red eyes gleamed red. "If you go hunting for
wraiths, I'm going with you."
"Deal." Thomas' grin was almost as feral as the little tigers'.
"Miss?" The nurse poked her head in the room.
Chelsea looked up. "Yes?"
"There's another young man here who says he's a family member?" She paused. They all certainly looked related. "Shall I turn him away?"
"No." Chelsea stood quickly, grateful her mother had wanted to talk to Teddy alone for a moment.
"Thomas?" Trey stood also.
"Hopefully." She gave him a quick kiss. "Be right back."
Trey sat again, sighing. This had been a tumultuous night for the Oliver family. He had a feeling it was only beginning.
Chelsea came back in a moment later, arm in arm with Thomas. Trey smiled and stood. "Hello." His smile faded. "You look distressed."
_He looks pissed,_ Chelsea silently amended. "What happened?"
Thomas' expression darkened. "We only found her armor. And Saba."
Chelsea paled, gripping his arm. "What?"
Trey frowned. "You suspect the wraith?"
"Saba didn't see her, but that doesn't mean anything." Thomas gently pushed his sister into a chair. "Sit." He sat next to her.
"After I leave here, we're going back to the docks to look for Jett."
"We?" Trey raised his eyebrows, surprised his brother-in-law wasn't going to rashly go off alone.
"Saba and me." Thomas didn't miss Chelsea's exasperated sigh. "It's the only way she'll show, Chelse."
"You don't know that." Crossing her arms, Chelsea frowned at her brother.
Trey sat. No one could out-stubborn the Oliver siblings. If these two were going to butt heads it wouldn't be long before Ted was involved.
It was going to be a very long night.
They were still arguing when Sarah and Ted entered the room. Thomas jumped to his feet, argument forgotten. Chelsea scrambled to her feet, expression as guilty as his. Both looked like children caught peeking at a magazine they weren't supposed to.
"Busted." Ted sighed and walked over to stand next to his siblings.
Sarah closed the door with a click and leaned against the door. She was pale as she looked at Thomas. "My God. It's true." Sarah held up her hand as Chelsea stepped towards her, mouth open. "No. Teddy already told me the whole story."
"Chelsea," Sarah sighed. "Hush. I'm not going to drop over from shock." A lopsided smile curved her mouth. "I managed to raise three very independent, active children without collapsing." She smoothed her hair. "You three certainly have a way of surprising your father and I." Taking a deep breath, she stepped over to Thomas.
An expression of pure wonder filled her eyes as she gazed at him. It was her little boy. She could see the same determined jaw, the same dark eyes that could melt the hardest heart with their warmth. "I never expected to see you again." Sarah reached up to cup his face, tears forming in her eyes. The last time she'd looked on this face had been to kiss his smooth, cold forehead one last time. He'd been so still, so peaceful lying in the casket. It had been the hardest thing she had ever done. "At least not on Earth. I thought it would be heaven."
Thomas reached up to cover her hand with his, dark eyes filling with tears. His throat closed as he tried to speak. Here was the woman who had always been there for him, always loved him, always believed in him. Her soothing voice had chased away nightmares when he was a child. Her tender hands had cooled fevered brows, and tended childhood wounds. How many times had she mended his torn clothing after a scuffle at school? Her calm, gentle ways had tempered the headstrong boy, gently steering him towards true strength. How many tournaments had she driven him to? Sat and watched, cheered when he won, and given wise counsel on good sportsmanship when he didn't? She must have grown weary of hearing him prattling on about karate, and his sensei, but he couldn't remember a time she hadn't encouraged him. Told him to give his best, to never do anything by halves. To accept what could not be changed, and look for the best in people.
"I know..." Sarah's voice cracked as tears ran down her cheeks. "You're not exactly Tommy." Her heart ached as he shook his head, dark eyes full of sadness. All of her children were so strong, and yet gentle. She loved them all the more for it. This one....
They really hadn't known what had happened to the newborn infant, only that his mother had arrived at the hospital emergency room almost dead. She gave birth and ran off before they could find her. Baby Doe, they had called him.
From the moment Sarah looked into the dark eyes, she had lost her heart. Her own baby had been born the same day and she was more than willing to be a wetnurse for the unwanted child. Laying there, Chelsea on one side, the tiny boy on the other, Sarah had felt a bond. The bond that usually only existed between mother and child. Going home without him had been like leaving a part of her heart at the hospital.
Sarah smiled. The orphanage had warned her not to get too attached to the baby when they had handed him over. 'He's very small and underweight. Might not pull through.' She looked at Thomas and shook her head. Well over six feet tall, strong, intelligent.... How wrong they had been!
"Tommy wasn't my baby from the start, Thomas." Sarah brushed back his hair and cupped his face. "That never stopped Daniel and I from loving him, from wanting him to be part of our family." Her smile wavered as tears ran down his face. "It won't stop us from loving you and wanting you in our family either."
"I...." Thomas felt completely overwhelmed. "I don't know what to say."
Sarah smiled and stood on her toes to kiss his cheek. "Say you'll be part of our family and let us get to know you." She stroked his cheek. "You belong with us, Thomas."
There was no way he was going to turn that down. Nodding he smiled. "I'd love to."
"Good." Sarah took his hand and sat, pulling him down next to her. "Sit. Now tell me," her eyes twinkled merrily. "Who are the other Rangers?"
Adam unlatched her helmet and gently eased it off his daughter's head,
setting it down next to the bed. Tanya, sitting across from Adam, had one
of Olivia's gloves off and was holding her hand. "Sweetheart? Wake
up." He tenderly brushed the dark hair off her forehead. He met Tanya's
worried gaze. "She's okay, hon."
Adam looked over at the teens watching anxiously. "How long has she been out?"
"About thirty minutes." Gavin brushed his hair out of his eyes. "She fainted."
"What happened?" Tanya turned slightly to look at them. "You two don't look so great either."
"We're okay." Nisha smiled, trying to reassure her. "Just tired...and worried." Briefly, she explained what had happened.
Adam paled as she told them about finding Corry's armor. "Empty?" He looked at Olivia. "No wonder she fainted."
"And teleportation is out?" Tanya shook her head. "What does Zordon say?"
"Um..." Gavin reached back to rub the back of his neck where the muscles were the most tense. "Actually, we can't get through."
"That's happened before," Nisha quickly assured them. "The wraiths have learned to block our comms."
On the bed, Olivia groaned slightly. Her eyes opened a bit and she blinked groggily at her mother. "Mom?"
"Dad?" Olivia realized she was morphed still and it all came rushing back. Tears filled her eyes and brimmed over. "We can't find Corry, Dad!"
"I know, sweetheart." Adam held out a hand to keep her from throwing her arms around him. "Hon, you need to power down before you crush your mom or me."
"Power down." With a sob, Olivia threw herself into her father's arms. Tanya stroked her back.
"Uh..." Nisha backed towards the door. "We're gonna go."
Gavin walked over and knelt next to Adam. "'Livy?" He waited until she peeked at him. "We'll probably end up at Wolfetech in Will's lab. When you feel up to it, join us, okay?" He offered a smile.
Olivia nodded sadly and buried her face in her father's shoulder again.
With a sigh, Gavin stood. "Let us know if you need anything."
Tanya nodded, smiling warmly at him. "We will. Thanks, Gavin." She turned and included the other teen. "Nisha. You two be careful."
"Will do." They left the Parks' home and headed to Nisha's car, parked out front. "Now the really hard part."
Gavin sighed as he climbed in. "Will and Kim."