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.

by : Julia H.

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.

* * *

"This weather has absolutely sucked." Nisha glared at the sky, which was quickly going from grey to black as another storm rolled in.

"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. "It's starting!"

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.

* * *

Nisha listened to Gavin and Corry squabbling and shook her head. Some things never changed. Alpha, standing between the two, had his hands on his helmeted head, and was shaking it side to side. _Better him than me!_ "So, Zordon..." She faced their mentor's tube. "Anything new on that wraith that put the moves on Thomas?"

"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 in volume.

"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."

* * *

Corry, Gavin and Nisha walked in the old building Jason Lee Scott had converted into his dojo. Nisha waved them over to the doorway to the main room and they stood watching the class just coming to an end.

"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 her waist.

"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 red.

"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 the benches.

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.

* * *

"What's going on?" Jason Lee Scott smiled as Thomas joined him.

Thomas shrugged and moved behind the punching bag to hold it. "Just some stuff."

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 sighed.

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 much?"

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 again!_

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 at Thomas.

"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 you later!"

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 food?"

"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!"

* * *

Olivia flopped on the bed. "Corry! Make up your mind!"

"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 turned. "Okay."

"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."

* * *
Gavin didn't even notice the two girls. He bit his lip, concentrating on the hand-held game. _So close...._

"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, all right!"

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 was close."

"Blame it on these two," Olivia said, bending to catch her breath.

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.

* * *
"How does this work?" Thomas was surprised to find the traditional screen with all seats facing it had been replaced with almost a theatre in the round set-up. An elevated, circular platform sat in the center of the theatre, with all the seats around in a bowl.

"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, my lady."

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 though."

"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 Disneyland."

"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 knew."

"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!"

"Enough already!"

"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 off!"

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 smile. "Sorry."

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 it.

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 then?"

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 Ranger Power!"

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 her.

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!"

* * *

"Zordon!" Alpha waved his arms frantically. "Communications are completely out! Ay yi yi! I can't reach any of the Rangers!"


"Oh... Ay yi yi!" Alpha shook his head. "I hope they're all right."


* * *

"Okay, let's split up." Raph could see a fire burning further down the south side, near the docks. "We can cover more ground that way." He pointed. "Red, Yellow, you two check out the corporate complex. Make sure all those mirrored buildings are intact."

"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."

* * *

The Angel Grove power plant's main generation station was an immense, sprawling monstrosity. Most of it wasn't in use any longer. Fusion had replaced the need for fossil fuels, but the station was kept as a backup.

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 stunts."

"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 holo."

You say something? Raph's voice came through her suit's internal comm.

"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. Be wary."

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.

* * *

This was familiar turf.

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 place.

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 katana tightly.

"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 here alone."

"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.

* * *

"Careful." Gavin helped a man in a suit climb out of his mostly crushed car. "Let's go over here and let the paramedics look you over, sir."

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 crashes.

"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 much longer.

"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 over here!"

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.

* * *

"GET DOWN!" Olivia shoved one of the children down, grabbing the ankles of the one ahead of her to pull him flat. Pulling the youngest of the three to her chest she knelt and braced herself with one hand. Seconds later, an explosion blasted the door apart and fire roared into the small hallway.

"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?"

"But -"

"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 sideways."

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.

* * *

Jared scowled and looked around, trying to spot another armored figure in the crowds of people jamming the street. It was hard to see anything with all the smoke, emergency vehicles and media crews. "Pink Ranger, you there?"

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 the baby.

"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."

"Oh, great."

"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."

* * *

Raph had seemed to disappear. Corry sighed in frustration and raised her wrist. "Black Ranger?” Static met her query. “Any Ranger? Anybody?" She winced as thunder grumbled overhead again. "Saba, where could he be?" Memories of being teleported involuntarily flooded her mind, increasing her anxiety.

"I'm afraid I don't know, White Ranger." Even Saba didn't sound confident.

"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 behind her.

“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. “Hello.”

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, leave.”

“But –“

“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 off.

* * *

Raph shook his head to clear it and looked around. His heart almost stopped as he realized somehow he had been teleported to another location. "Now wha -" He stopped, eyes widening as he saw his predicament. Raph froze.

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.

* * *

Corry skidded to a halt as the alley dead-ended. "Oh no!" Whirling, she heard the wraith/dog following, and knew he couldn’t be far behind. She looked up, gauged the distance and gathered herself. “Going up!” Taking a deep breath, she leaped up. The dilapidated windows of the building flew by as she flew upwards and landed with a gentle thump on the rooftop.

“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 our darkness.”

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.

* * *

It was cold. Cold that penetrates to the very bones and hurts the lungs. No light shone. Only a darkness so encompassing, so enveloping, it became the air breathed.

_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.

* * *

Thomas met Jared and Olivia almost exactly mid-Downtown. They all skidded to a halt and looked around.

"Where are-"

"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 Rangers.

"Who are you?" The reporter from CNN shoved a microphone towards the team.

"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.

* * *

It was a long climb up fifty flights of stairs. Even with powered armor. All three of them were panting when they finally reached the sign that announced they had reached the top floor.

"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 three. One...two...three!"

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 you?"

"Ha ha ha," Jared sneered. With a groan he stood.

"We could use some help." Nisha said and stood. "Come on!"

"Remind me to trounce her good when we get out of this," Jared growled.

"Will do." Thomas stood and they climbed back up to the fiftieth floor.

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."

* * *

Chelsea Oliver looked up hearing a loud crash from one of the exits. She saw Red Ranger run over to investigate. "I'm sure it's all right, mom. Probably some more rescue workers trying to get us out."

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 all right."

"What happened to the gentleman, miss?" Thomas pressed his gloved fingers against his father's throat and was relieved to feel a strong pulse.

"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 fails."

"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 fast.

"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 of here!_

The tremor stopped and the slow caravan started down the stairs.

* * *

"Whoa!!" Raph slid almost two stories before he got a good grip on a ledge juttting out. Pressing up as close as he could against the building, he let his breath out in a relieved sigh and looked around. The wind buffeted him, actually making him slide slightly to one side as it picked up strength. "Oh, great!" He winced as lightning seemed to shoot right over his head. The thunder that followed rattled the window he was leaning against.

"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.

* * *

"Twenty-fifth floor. Half-way down." Gavin tried to keep the people he was with laughing or talking. It seemed to help distract them from the danger and the pain they were in. "Next stop, designer bedding, house wares and the kitchen galley."

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 me go!"

"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 the stairwell.

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 feel okay."

"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 halfway there!"

"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 team."

"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 above.

"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 floors."

"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 with relief.

"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 giving out.

"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 is calling."

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, sparky?"

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 walked away.

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 about you?"

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. "Oh, God...."

"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."

* * *

They were halfway back downtown when the Rangers saw it. "Saba!" Thomas reflexively caught the sword as it soared to him.

"Where's Corry?" Olivia looked around expectantly.

Raph looked over at Jared as the sword was silent. The Blue Ranger shrugged. _Not good._

"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.

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 else-"

"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 after Raph.

"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 go."

* * *
,br> "Where are we going, Thomas?" Saba floated along next to his former partner.

"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?"

* * *

"She's right." Ted shook his head as the three Oliver siblings walked out into the hospital corridor. "We never did get away with much."

"I guess not." Chelsea frowned. "I think she let us think we were, but she knew." She sighed. "Now that's sneaky."

"That's Mom." Thomas smiled. "She probably has Dad all figured out too."

"And let's him think he's a mystery." Ted nodded. "Probably." He grabbed Thomas' arm as he started to walk off. "Whoa, hold up bro. Where are you going?"

Before Thomas could say a word, Chelsea jumped in and told the whole story in a single breath.

"That's where Corry learned it from." Thomas shook his head, a disgruntled look on his face. "Breathe, Chelse, breathe."

"Are you crazy?" Ted ignored his sister's outraged expression and faced his brother. "Jett almost had you as desert last time you went one on one with her! Forget it, Thomas. Besides, it's daylight now. She won't show."

"She'll show." Thomas expression was dark. He pointed a finger at Ted. "Don't even think about following. You don't even have powers to protect you. What do you think she'd do to you?"

A wicked grin curved his lips. "Whatever she wants?" He winced as Chelsea's slugged his arm and held up his hands. "Chill! Look, I've got an idea." Ted raised an eyebrow. "You listen and then tell me why it won't work. And you-" He pointed a finger at his sister. "Don't tell anyone. That means Trey."

Chelsea opened her mouth to protest, then shut it. Eyes flashing angrily, she glared at him. "Fine. But don't forget the rest of the Rangers. Or Trey." With a last scowl at her brothers, she walked to the door. Turning, she pointed. "We're a team. Remember that."

As the door clicked shut, Thomas sighed heavily. "I won't forget. I just don't want to endanger every single one."

"Hey," Ted grinned. "I volunteered."

"Yeah." Thomas rolled his eyes. "What does that say about you?"

Ted checked his watch. "Oh man!" He rubbed his eyes, wishing mightily he had some decent coffee. "I have an appointment in about an hour." He met Thomas' gaze. "Go home. Get some sleep." Seeing his brother's face tense, he scowled. "Well, at least go talk to Will! Don't go alone. I mean it Thomas." He grabbed the younger man's leather jacket. "I can kick your butt and you know it. Don't make me do that." Ted let go, seeing how surprised Thomas looked. "Promise me you'll wait."

Weariness was setting in, but Thomas had been weary before and gone on. He saw the resolute set of Ted's expression and sighed. "Until tonight. ONLY until then."

"Deal." Ted shook his hand. "Stay outta trouble until then." He slapped his shoulder. "Come on. I'll drop you off at your apartment."

* * *

"Power down." Nisha stepped back to stand next to Gavin as the Parks bent over the Pink Ranger.

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?"

"Hi sweetie."

"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."

* * *

"How can one person disappear like that?" Jared leaned against a tree. He was tired, hungry and in need of a shower. If the water was even running. Most of the city's utilities had been shut down when the state of emergency had been declared.

"He's ninjetti." Raph shrugged. His father had the same ability, though Thomas seemed to have honed it to a fine art. "He wasn't at the hospital, he wasn't at the dojo...." They had taken the time to explain what was going on to Trini and Jason, call Rocky, and grab a quick bite to eat. Raph raked a hand through his hair. "Try his apartment next?"

Jared shrugged, straightening. "Why not?"

* * *

After a quick trip to Nisha's house to explain, and a rather prolonged one at Gavin's home, the two teens headed to the Cranston home.

"You think they bought it?" Nisha glanced over at Gavin.

He shrugged. "No." A rueful smile curved his mouth. "Dad's known something was odd since he saw a Polar Bear in our living room and passed out."

"That was pretty obvious, huh?" Nisha grimaced. "So, you think he knows?"

"Yeah." Gavin rubbed his eyes, fighting off weariness. "He knows. Mom is still clueless though." He shrugged. "She's been busy with Leah."

"That's a mixed blessing." Nisha had been as surprised as everyone else when Gavin had announced his mother was pregnant. Leah Skullovich had been born right before all of their parents had disappeared and the events following.

"Yeah." Gavin grinned. He would die before he'd admit it, but he adored his baby sister. She had a smile and a coo that was just for him, and a way of reaching out to grab his face that melted his heart.

It didn't take long to get to the Cranston's home. Both teens got out of the car reluctantly. They looked at each other as the door to the house opened and Kim and Will walked out.

"Oh man," Gavin groaned.

"Hey, kids." Kimberly smiled, trying not to appear anxious. "Have you seen Corry? She hasn't been home since last night."

"Um...." Gavin rubbed the back of his neck, feeling it tense up again.

"Kim, Will," Nisha steeled herself. "Maybe we should go inside?"

Kim's face drained of color. "Is she-?"

"No!" Gavin quickly assured her. "We..uh...."

"Let's go inside." Putting a comforting arm around her shoulders, Will steadied Kim.

They sat down in the living room and Nisha told them the whole story. "So we don't really know where Corry is...."

"Oh God," Kim groaned. "The wraiths have her." She remembered her own possession by the wraiths too vividly. "Will...." Tears filled her eyes and she turned to him.

Will held her, stroking her back as she cried. His own eyes were a little watery. "We don't know that Kim." He shook his head as she began to object. "The armor was meant to scare us." His expression darkened. "I think it was also to throw us off-track."

"What about Zordon?" Kim wiped her face, trying to compose herself.

Gavin shook his head. "We haven't been able to reach him."

"We need to get everyone together." Will gently pulled away from Kim and stood. "Olivia is at home, right?"

Nisha and Gavin nodded.

"Where are the guys?" Kim was a little surprised Thomas wasn't with the teens. _Then again, knowing how Tommy had reacted to this sort of thing...._

"Searching for Thomas," Nisha sighed. " After we found the armor, he took off like he was gonna tear the city apart looking for Jett."

Gavin nodded. "Jay and Raph were going to try and stop him from doing something stupid." He grimaced as he realized how that might have sounded to the adults. "I mean-"

"It's all right, Gavin." Will smiled wanly.

"We know all about that trait." Kim sighed. How many times had Tommy done just the same thing? She stood. "I'll stay here. Alex and Becca are down the street at a neighbor's house."

"Let's go to the lab." Will absently raked a hand through his hair. "We can work on getting your communicators working again and contact the others."

"Be careful." Kim pulled her husband to her and gave him a thorough kissing. He raised a questioning eyebrow. "For luck." Kim hugged him, not wanting to let him go. "Love you."

"Love you too." He kissed her forehead.

Nisha and Gavin had suddenly found the family portraits on the mantle very interesting.

"Okay, let's go." Will winked at the teens, knowing how parental displays embarrassed them.

"You two be careful." Kim ruffled Gavin's hair.

"Don't worry, Mrs. C.," Nisha said as Kim hugged her. "We'll find her."

Kim watched as they walked out to Nisha's car. She bit her lip and waved as they drove off. Closing the door, Kim leaned back against it. _I will NOT get depressed!_ Straightening, she walked out to the back yard and grabbed her gloves. A little time spent in her garden was therapy. "Watch out weeds," Kim warned. "No mercy for you today!"

* * *

Jared raised his hand to knock. "I'm sure he's not-" He broke off as the door opened.

Thomas regarded them for a moment, then a lopsided smile tugged at his mouth. "Guys." He opened the door a little further. "Come in."

The apartment was simply furnished. There was a couch, a table with a lamp on it, and a round kitchen table with several chairs. A bookcase with several rows of books was next to the couch. To the left they could see the bedroom. Even the bed was made, if a little haphazardly. Several plants brightened the room, as well as a couple of oriental prints on the walls. It was neat but homey, ruining the boy's idea of a bachelor's residence.

"You must not be home much." Raph shook his head as he looked around. His father never put anything back in the same place twice, and had a bad habit of leaving his things all over the house.

"No television? No comm unit?" Jared gave his friend a long look. "Don't you get bored?"

Thomas shrugged, smiling slightly. "Raph's right. I'm not here much."

"Think of the wild parties you could have-" Jared winced as Raph elbowed him.

"I suppose." Thomas leaned against the counter. Thinking of the paper thin walls, he shook his head. "I don't think my neighbors would appreciate that though."

"Look," Raph sighed, deciding to get to the point. "We don't know what you're planning, but none of us think you should do it alone."

"We're a team." Jared crossed his arms and frowned. "Jett hurts one of us, she gets us all kicking her butt."

The youth reminded Thomas so much of Jason at the same age, Thomas had to hide his smile. "Guys, I appreciate the thought, but...." He shook his head, a grim expression furrowing his brow.

"No." Raph walked over to stand in front of Thomas. He wasn't as tall as the older boy, but that didn't intimidate Raphael DeSantos one bit. "We are a team. We function best as a team." Steel edged his voice. "You're the one who showed us that, Thomas." He met his teammate's gaze steadily. "Are you going to tell me now that you were wrong?"

No matter how he wanted to, Thomas couldn't deny the truth of the statement. Part of him warred with the idea, struggling to protest and scream that he wasn't bound by those rules. Thomas squelched the protests. _Right now we need to be part of the group. With one member down..._ He winced. _Without a united assault, Jett will bury us._

"No." Thomas saw the surprise in Raph's expression and shrugged. "Now isn't the time to go off alone."

Raph sighed in relief. He had expected to have to battle Thomas over this. _Part of him is a loner at heart._ That was something he could understand. As much as he loved his friends, Raph felt a little smothered by them at times.

"Everyone is probably assembling at Will's lab." Jared rubbed his face, feeling the stubble beginning to grow there. "That's always been the backup plan."

"We should check out the Power Chamber first." Raph looked to Thomas for confirmation.

"Find out why Zordon is being so quiet?" Thomas nodded. "I agree." He grabbed his leather jacket. "Let's go."

* * *

Raph sat, feeling very tired. He looked around the empty bluff in shock.

"How could the whole stinkin' building disappear?!" Jared stalked around, looking at the ground for clues. "The Zord Bays alone are huge!" The ground was untouched, save for the patterns of wind and weather.

"Saba?" Thomas knelt at the edge of the bluff, letting the wind blow his hair back. He gazed down the cliffside.

The sword materialized next to him. Even Saba seemed shocked that the Power Chamber had disappeared. "Oh my!" It blinked several times.

"Why is Saba still here if the Power Chamber isn't?" Jared was surprised the sword was still around.

Thomas traced patterns in the dirt. "Things changed since Ivan Ooze tore the place apart. Zordon had quite a few decades to change the entire structure." He shook his head, looking out over the desert. "We aren't tied to the Grid like the old Rangers were."

"Then how....?" Raph shook his head. He pulled his morpher to reassure himself it was still there.

Shrugging, Thomas smiled softly. "Call it magic. Call it going back to basics." He dug a hand into the sandy dirt. "Zordon tied the Rangers and all our powers to the Earth."

"What?" Raph and Jared walked over to him. "But...why?"

Standing, Thomas dusted his hand off on his jeans. "We are the Rangers of Earth. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Where better?"

"But if anyone destroyed it-" Jared gulped.

"In that case, we'd be toast anyway," Raph said. He looked at Thomas, wondering just how much more he knew. "How long have you known?"

"Since Trey warned me the wraiths were tapping into the Earth for power." Thomas' expression darkened. "They stir up these storms around the globe and gather the energy they generate to attack us." He frowned. "The earthquakes are probably another way to gather energy."

"But..." Jared glanced up. "Why not the sun?"

"They can't." Thomas' smile grew feral. "The sun is a source of light."

"It's still a source of pure energy." Raph frowned. "Are you certain?"

"Positive." Thomas paused. "That doesn't mean they can't benefit from what we get here on Earth, but they can't tap it directly."

"Can we?" Jared looked hopeful. "Did Zordon ever try?"

Thomas looked around the barren bluff. "I don't know." He turned to Saba, hovering next to him. "Do you pick up any sense that the wraiths have been here?"

"No, Green Ranger." Even Saba was quiet.

"That's good, right?" Jared asked.

"Maybe." Thomas shrugged. "Depends on why and where Zordon went." The thought was shared among them, but left unspoken. No one wanted to contemplate the possibility of a new, more powerful enemy than the wraiths.

* * *

Ted Oliver was shocked at how many people turned out for the gala opening of the V.R. Arcade. Considering the other end of the city had all but been demolished, Ted hadn't expected such a mob scene.

Angel Grove truly was like no other place on Earth. "Sheesh!" Ben Trueheart rolled his eyes as another fan reached past the barricade to grab at his uncle. "What's with them?"

Lon Trueheart, seventeen, almost eighteen, could appreciate what his younger brother could not. He grinned at a couple of the younger ladies crowding the barricades.

"He's JAILBAIT!" Mady Trueheart shouted, pointing to Lon.

"Mady!" Lon scowled at her.

His sister shrugged. "That's for all the times you intimidated some guy out of asking me out." She sniffed indignantly. At fifteen, Mady considered herself quite capable of taking care of herself.

"Hey, Ted!" Ben grabbed Ted Oliver's arm. "When are we gonna go in?"

Looking down at his twelve-year-old nephew, Ted grinned. "How about now, squirt?"

"Cool!" Just in case he changed his mind, Ben kept his hold on Ted's arm. _Sometimes, he's just too easily distracted!_

"Okay, gang." Ted waved again to the crowd, almost having to yell to be heard over the yelling. "Let's go blow away some monsters!"

"Come on, Lon!" Mady grabbed his arm and pulled him along with her.

"But, it was just getting interesting!" Facing the prospect of being dragged off by his sister, Lon reluctantly waved to the ladies. "All right," he sighed and turned. "Let's go."

* * *

"Becca," Alex Cranston glared at the teens behind him who were roughhousing around and almost knocked his sister over. "We're gonna be eighty before we get in!"

Moving away from the older kids, Becca scanned the people ahead. "You have our vouchers, right?"

"Yeah." Alex patted his jacket pocket.

"C'mon!" Grabbing her twin's arm, Becca darted forward, almost to the front of the line. Before anyone could see, she slipped into a group of kids around her age.

"Bec!" Alex hissed. "We can't just-"

"Hey." Justin Stewart grinned at the twins. "You two on your own?" He looked around, half-expecting to see Corry or one of the other kids the twins usually dragged out to take them somewhere.

Becca nodded. "Yep." She smiled, using her sweetest expression and opening her pale green eyes wide. "Is it okay if we join you?"

"Sure." Before he could ask how they got out of the house on their own, Justin was distracted by two of the kids he was escorting.

"Mr. Stewart!" Molly pointed at a boy. "He called me barf face!"

"She stepped on my foot!"

Alex nodded as his twin grinned at him. "Not a bad plan, Becca. Not bad at all." He winked. _Mom and Dad will kill us when they find out we came all the way over here alone!_ Alex shoved the thought aside. He'd worry about that later. Now, he was going to have some fun!

* * *

Raph gave up trying to get Thomas to talk. The sullen expression on the Green Ranger's face was not encouraging. He'd been brooding since they got back from looking for the Power Chamber.

"Okay!" Gavin waved them over. "We have teleportation and communication re-established." He grinned proudly.

"How?" Jared looked from the young man to Will.

"I've planned for this day." Will shrugged. "Historically, we lost the Command Center twice. When I started Wolfecorp, I remembered that." He gestured to the large room. "Zordon, Alpha and I worked long and hard to make sure future Rangers wouldn't be out on their own." He looked at Thomas, noting the grim smile on his face. A similar, wolfish grin crooked Will's mouth.

Nisha shrugged. "Whatever. As long as we have it." She tapped her foot impatiently. "Now what are we gonna do about-"

"DAD!" Every single person jumped as the childish voice blared across the comm. The team clustered around the panel.

"Alex?" Will frowned. "What's wrong?" He adjusted the controls, trying to cut the static out of the transmission.

"We're at the....ade! It's....here! Dad, they're killing people!"

Will paled at the panic in his son's voice, but remained calm. "Where are you?"

"The ...V... ade! Hurry!"

The transmission was cut off abruptly. The Rangers looked at one another. "Any ideas where he is?" Raph asked quietly.

"The new V.R. Arcade." Olivia was certain. She took a deep breath. "Alex and Becca were trying to talk Corry into taking them...." She gulped as tears filled her eyes.

"Let's go," Thomas commanded.

As one, the group moved to morph. Will watched, shielding his eyes as the light from the energy influx filled the room. _What I wouldn't give to go with them...._ He clenched his jaw and nodded. "I'll monitor you here."

They left in a blinding flash, leaving a deafening silence in the room.

* * *

"Crap!" Ted ducked as a huge spider swung down, chittering at him. Raising the V.R. pistol, he obliterated it. Blowing on the end of his gun, he flashed a grin at Mady.

She flashed a thumbs up and smiled, but it quickly turned to a wide-eyed look. "Ben, behind you!"

Whirling and raising the pistol in one smooth motion, Ben took out five mutant creatures running at him. "Cool!" He pushed his visor back up on his nose. "Let's go! I've got a record in the making here!"

"Show off," Lon grumbled. He wasn't doing so well. With a sigh, he followed the others through a warehouse, warily looking around the huge crates stacked up here and there. Something in the shadows caught his eye, and he took careful aim. The blue beam caught the creature dead on.

Yellow eyes glimmered brightly as the thing turned towards Lon. It smiled, showing a row of sharp white teeth, and leaped towards him.

"Oh, shit!" Lon stumbled back, feeling wave after wave of coldess that seemed to emanate from the creature. "TED!" He let loose with a barrage of shots at the thing as it came at him.

Laughing, Ted turned to see his oldest nephew stumbling back shooting into the deep shadows of the warehouse. "Lon, it helps if there's a target-" His grin died as he saw the yellow eyes and dark form. "Mady, Ben, RUN!"

The younger kids saw the black creature and didn't hesitate. They ran for the far wall where an exit sign hung over a door.

Ted ran towards Lon, knowing it was useless to fire a V.R. weapon at the wraith. Ted tackled Lon and they crashed into a mountain of crates.

Scrambling to his feet, Ted grabbed the boy's arm and hauled him to his feet. "Just listen. That's a wraith. It's not V.R., it's real. Now, go!" He shoved him past as the wraith cleared the barricade of crates.

"I can't!" Lon hissed and barely managed to stay on his feet. He leaned against the crate, wincing as he looked down at the long, open gash on his thigh. Blood glistened a bright red as it ran down his leg, staining his jeans.

"Crapola." Ted put himself between the wraith and his nephew. _No energy in the coin left to morph, and no time anyhow._ Holstering the V.R. gun, an idea came to Ted. There was no time, though, as the wraith leaped on him, curved claws slashing. Ted grabbed the wraith's wrists, barely managing to keep the tips of the claws off his chest. He quickly saw there was another problem as the wraith bared it's sharp fangs. Reflexes from years of training saved him, as he brought his feet up and kicked as hard as he could, throwing it off him at the same time.

The wraith sailed into a nearby crate, crashing through the wood.

"Come on, kid." Ted ducked under his nephew's arm, half-supporting him. "I've got an idea."

* * *

"Alex!" Becca whimpered as the huge black dogs circled them. She clutched his arm. "I'm scared!"

"Me too." Alex hated admitting that, but in the face of their current circumstances, it didn't seem too weak. "Get back!" He kicked at one of the dogs.

Yellow eyes flashed as the animal easily avoided the blow. It bared its fangs, growling in a low, guttural tone.

Alex heard his sister take a deep breath and plugged his ears. Becca let out an ear-piercing shriek. It rattled his ears, even with his fingers plugging them! The scream went on and on. Alex knew from experience just how good Becca's capacity for screaming was.

Three of the dogs whined and shook their heads, backing away.

It was the only opening Alex needed. He grabbed his sister's arm and pulled her after him, running pell-mell down the corridor. Unfortunately, it startled her. Becca stopped screaming and the dogs immediately gave chase. Their growls and baying echoed in the cavern-like corridor, seeming to come from every direction. Alex pulled Becca along, running until he felt like his lungs were going to burn up.

"NO!" Becca sobbed. She turned as Alex pounded on the locked door, facing the direction the dogs were coming from. Tears poured down her face, and she bit her lip to keep from crying aloud. "Alex....?"

The door wouldn't budge. Alex turned, and froze. Six coal-black dogs soundlessly lined up in front of them, their eerie eyes glowing in the dim light. Alex took hold of his twin's hand as the dogs closed in.

* * *

"NO!" Will pushed away from the console and stalked to the holoimage.

An expression of rage brought the corners of his mouth up in a snarl. "Triceratops." He closed his eyes and was engulfed in a flare of blue light. It died away, leaving him clothed in the garb of the Blue Morphin Warrior.

Will's eyes were cold as he turned to grab a curved device off a nearby console. He slapped it on his wrist. "Lupine, we're going remote!"


A brief wash of intense blue light flared in the chamber, then faded away, leaving the chamber in silence.

* * *

"Lon." Ted heard the wraith scrambling free of the crate. "Do you have that half of the arrowhead your dad gave you?"

"Yeah." Lon pulled it out from under his shirt where it hung on a leather thong.

"Good." Ted leaned his nephew against a crate. He heard the wraith's claws scraping across the warehouse floor as it approached. "Give it to me."

Lon didn't hesitate. True to the Oliver tradition of acting first then asking questions, he gingerly stood as Ted pulled the other half of the arrowhead out from his shirt. Lon shrugged as Ted glanced at him questioningly.

"What the hell, huh?" Ted took a deep breath and stuck the two halves together.

Angry at having been eluded, the wraith hissed as it jumped around the crates. Instead of seeing the two humans, it found only a small puddle of blood. The yellow eyes narrowed and it touched the puddle with a sharpened claw, then brought the glistening tip up to it's mouth. It hummed low as it bent to lap up the rest of the puddle.

Once the floor was spotless, the wraith lifted its triangular face to the air. There were two others near. The wraith's mouth split in a hideous parody of a smile, white fangs gleaming. Two, of the same blood as the first.

Silently, it slipped off to find them.

* * *

A rainbow flashed into the V.R. Arcade and touched down. It solidified into six armored forms.


"Hey, how many points are they worth?"

"Dibs on Red!"

Red Ranger fisted her hands as blue beams began to bounce against her armor. "They're shootin' at us!"

"Brats," Pink muttered. A blue beam dazzled her eyes as it bounced off her helmet.

"Forget them." Green Ranger pulled Saba out of the air. "Saba, are there wr-"

The sword hissed, it's eyes flashing. It all but dragged the Green Ranger off towards a dark labyrinth of corridors.

"I'd say that's a yes!" Blue yelled, running after him.

"Let's go!" Black Ranger gestured for the rest to follow, then turned to face the kids. "You kids clear outta here. Now." He ran off to catch up with the team.

The two boys frowned. "Shah, right."

"All of this stuff ain't real." They headed off into the corridors again.

The girl bit her lip, an uncertain expression on her face. _Dad always said the Power Rangers were the good guys. He wouldn't lie...._ Making up her mind, Lauren Bulkmeier turned and marched to the exit sign. Not hesitating, she pushed it open and left the boys to play games.

* * *

"Very good." Jett smiled at the children grouped in front of her. All of their eyes glowed yellow. A dark grey aura hung around each of them, adding to their zombie-like appearance. "We have a new game to play, kids."

The children grinned. Their innocent smiles, some minus a few teeth here and there, were replaced with the sharp, toothy smile of the wraiths.

"Wraiths?" Jett turned and looked into the shadows. To the human eye, it looked no different than any of the multitude of dark places seen all over. The woman gestured. "Come forth, into this world. Take your places with me."

It was as if the night sky, minus stars and moonlight, poured into the room. The temperature dropped, until the children's breath could be seen in puffs of white.

Jett smiled as swathes of dark winds began to swirl around her, twining around her body. She raised her hands and closed her eyes, a look of ecstasy on her face. Her dark hair hung in a cloud around her as the winds blew stronger. "Sisters, brothers of darkness, join me!"

Several of the dark dogs whimpered as a moan began to fill the room. It rose in strength and volume as the darkness increased. All of it centered around Jett. She was the calm in the eye of the storm.

Jett opened her eyes. They gleamed in the darkness, glowing an unholy green. "Now begins the baptism of darkness!"

* * *

"Where is everyone?" Blue Ranger inched along one side of the corridor and cautiously peered around the corner.

"It's awfully quiet." Yellow swallowed hard. He almost jumped as he heard someone approaching, but soon made out the form of Green Ranger and Saba. "See anything?"

"Lots of V.R. creatures." Green shrugged.

Saba's eyes were glowing crimson as the sword snarled, "They are here!"

Blue shrugged. "We don't see 'em, Saba."

"Let's go a little further." Green gestured forward. "Make sure everyone made it out." Every instinct in him was screaming Saba was correct. Thomas didn't doubt either one. Tightening his grip on the sword, he headed farther into the labyrinth of corridors.

* * *

"YAH!" Pink Ranger dove forward, rolling and coming to her feet. She turned to face the monster and stopped dead. Red just stood there, facing the huge beast that almost stepped on her. "Huh?"

"V.R." Red shook her head. "Did they have to make them so real?" Nisha swatted at the Tyrannosaurus with a gloved hand. She snorted as her hand passed right through the seemingly solid animal.

"Stay sharp," Black Ranger warned.

"Relax, Raphael." Red knew he hated it when she called him that, but he was getting on her nerves. "We're morphed. What do you think is gonna happen?"

"Anything." Black Ranger turned to face Red. "You get cocky, you give them the opening they're looking for."

"They who?" Red threw her arms out, passing it through the massive row of teeth as the T-Rex snapped at her.

Pink grimaced. It might not be real, but seeing the monster's maw close around her friend was a little disconcerting. "I hate this."

"It isn't real, Pink." Red stepped through the T-Rex's snout, turned and kicked it. "Let's move on. I'm bored."

Black shook his head, annoyed with his teammates' attitude. They were all on edge and she wasn't helping one bit. Biting back a caustic comment, he ground his teeth and followed.

* * *

"Alex!" Will had his visor up and was scanning the large warehouse area. "Becca!"

His voice echoed in the large room. It was the only sound. He walked over to the remains of a shipping crate and bent to examine the long gauges in the wood. A chill slithered up his spine. _Wraiths. No doubt._ His visor picked up a residual amount of dark energy.

Will Cranston had no desire to be re-integrated back into the wraiths, but he wasn't about to abandon his children either. _They already did something to Corry._ He clenched his jaw. _No way I'm letting them get away with this!_


An almost inaudible beep was his only response.

"Scan this entire place. I want to know what we're up against here."

* * *

Yellow Ranger grimaced as the Great White swallowed him. _This isn't real. It isn't real._ He cracked on eye open and saw the shark had disappeared.

"This is bizarre." Blue sidestepped a huge crab claw, resisting the urge to blow the thing into oblivion. "Isn't there any way to shut the V.R. stuff down?"

"From here?" Yellow shook his head. "No."

Green walked right through the giant squid that wrapped its tentacles around him. He lifted his wrist to his helmet. "Black Ranger?"

Here. Raph's voice came through all their internal comms.

"You picking up anything real?"

Yellow closed his eyes as all three of them walked through the side of an old wooden ship. It lay on its side on the bottom on the V.R. ocean they explored. All kinds of sea life had begun to grow on its decaying surface.


"Same here." Thomas pushed aside his impatience. A cold rage was growing inside of him. The farther they walked, the stronger it grew. "Keep looking."


The ocean experience ended as they reached a four way corridor. "Now for your viewing pleasure." Yellow gestured. "Caves or City in the Sky?"

Blue shook his head. "Either one."

"Caves." Green took the tunnel to the left. "City in the Sky sounds too much like going to heaven. I'm not ready to die yet."

"That's reassuring," Yellow muttered. The way Thomas was acting, Gavin wasn't so sure. "I'm too young to die."

Blue snorted. "Yeah? Gotta kiss a girl at least once before you die, Yellow."

Yellow resisted the urge to make a finger gesture. "Laugh it up, Blue." He shrugged. "At least I don't get beat up by my girlfriend."

"She isn't my girlfriend!" Blue grumped. "And she didn't beat me up."


"Come on!" Green turned and gestured impatiently for them to keep up. "You two argue later." He turned and stalked off.

"Whew." Blue let out a low whistle. "Someone's ponytail is tied a little too tight today."

Yellow smacked Blue's arm. "Knock it off, Jay! Let's go."

With a shrug, Blue followed the other two into the bowels of the V.R. cave.

* * *

Red kicked at a snake that was coiled up and rattling at her. "This is a waste of time!"

Rolling his eyes, Black Ranger bit back his irritated response. "We're all tired, Red."

Pink Ranger gingerly edged around the skeletal remains of a human. "I don't like this scenario." The vultures circling above did nothing to ease her mind. V.R. or not, this was too real!

"Look." Black pointed to a massive redrock mountain ahead. "We can stop for a minute up there."

"Do we have to?" Red groused.

"Um..." Pink bit her lip. "Isn't that one of those dead ancient Native American pueblos thingies?"

Black sighed and shook his head. "They were called the Anasazi, and yes. It is one of their dwellings."

"It's V.R., Pink." Red sounded disgusted. "Not real."

"Sorry," Pink huffed. She trailed the other two as they hiked up the side of the mountain. Being a Ranger just wasn't as much fun without Corry there to make her laugh and encourage her. Thoughts of her missing friend depressed Olivia, and she sighed.

"Come on." Black stopped and held out his hand. "It's not much farther."

His understanding tone of voice soothed Pink's feelings, and she took his hand.

* * *

"I can't see." Blue switched his visor over to nightvision. "How do they expect kids to be able to see in this one?" The caves were pitch black.

"Try turning your outer illumination on," Yellow suggested dryly. He had switched his on, and now looked something like a giant yellow candle. The illumination was enough to see in almost a three-foot radius around him.

Blue grunted in pain, killing the nightvision as it overloaded from the light. "Thanks." He stopped suddenly. "Where's Green?"

Seeing two points of glowing crimson light bobbing ahead, Yellow pointed. "I'm hoping that's Saba."

* * *

Will straightened, hearing the beep in his ear. "Lupine?" He forgot all about the gauges in the cement floor as Lupine's data appeared on his visor. "Oh...my...God." His raised his wrist and hit the all-call. "Rangers!"

"Forget them."

The Blue Morphin Warrior slowly turned. "Alex? Becca?"

The kids smiled, showing their sharp teeth. "Not quite...Daddy."

* * *

"Will?" Black Ranger scowled at the communicator. He stood in the center of the Anasazi ruins. "Will? What's going on?"

A thudding noise spun him around in time to see Red come tumbling out of a stone building. She jumped to her feet, stancing. "That was REAL!"

Pink put one hand on her hip. "It's all fake, remember?" She walked over to stand in front of the door. "Modern holo technology. Nothing else."

Black's mouth dropped open as a black form suddenly wrapped around the Pink Ranger and yanked her into the building.

"Crap!" Red Ranger was tackled by two large wraiths and tumbled to the ground. Black hit his communicator. "Heads up! The wraiths are here!"

It was all he got out before a mass of black forms swarmed up and obliterated his sight.

* * *

Kim heard the comm ring and sighed. _I forgot the darn cordless again!_ Standing, she walked quickly into the house and hit the comm button. "Hello?"

"Oh, hi Kim." Mrs. Incerty smiled. "Sorry to bother you, but with all that's been happening lately, I wanted to make sure Alex and Becca made it home safely."

The smile slid off Kim's face. "They aren't still with you?" Her voice was sharpened by anxiety.

"Well...no. They left this morning -"

Kim slapped the comm switch to another channel and waited impatiently for the other line to be picked up. "Come on, come on...."

"Wolfecorp. Mr. Cranston's office. How may I help you?"

"Lupine!" Kim bit her lip, recognizing the computer's voice. "Where's Will?"

"He went remote twenty-three minutes and forty-seven seconds ago, Mrs. Cranston."

Remote. Kim's heart stopped. She knew Will better than anyone else. He wouldn't leave the Rangers unmonitored without an extreme emergency.

She was moving before she realized her intention. "Mrs. Cranston, do you wish to -"

"Hang on, Lupine!" Kim stalked to Will's office and threw open the top drawer. She grabbed the microband, shut the drawer and slapped the device on her wrist. "Lupine," Kim spoke to the band on her wrist. "Teleport me directly to Will's lab."

"Commencing teleport."

* * *

"Shit!" Blue didn't see the wraiths approach. His vision went black as the wraiths pounced on him, carrying him to the floor. Yellow was wrestling with an ebony hound, holding off the snapping jaws with both hands.

"Get offa me!" Blue threw the shadows off and leaped to his feet. He yanked his sword from its dimensional pocket and began to cut through the wraiths. A sudden flash of white flared behind him and he whirled. Saba slashed through another wraith as it leaped at the Blue Ranger. "Thanks!"

The sword's eyes flashed and it swooped over to knock the hound off Yellow.

"Saba!" Yellow jumped to his feet. The hound was gone. Ahead, he saw Green Ranger slashing and hacking through a churning sea of dark forms. "Good God." Calling his weapons into being, Yellow looked around. "You okay, Blue?"

Blue nodded. "Banzai!" He bolted towards the mass of twisting black bodies and the Green armored form.

Yellow shook his head as Blue joined in the battle, gleefully chopping away at the wraiths. He knew he was no match for the wraiths. Not like this.

"Yellow Ranger!" Saba hissed.

He whirled and stopped, even as his hand reached up to sight in on the wraiths.

"Hello." The six children smiled at the Yellow Ranger, and their eyes gleamed bright yellow in the dim light.

Yellow took a step back. They were kids from Little Angel's Shelter. He gulped. "Oh man."

* * *

His world narrowed down to nothing more than movement. Left, right, slash, cut, pivot. Green Ranger unleashed the burning anger he'd contained all day, taking it out with savage glee on the very forms he'd come to hate so passionately.

The katana was a blur as he whirled, slashing across the center of three wraiths. He reversed, and cut down two more that appeared to take their places. Green stepped back to gain ground, turned--

The katana stopped millimeters from the boy's face.

Green Ranger almost dropped the sword in shock as he stepped back. This child could have been him at that age, with blue eyes instead of brown. The blue eyes had an eerie yellow tint to them and he realized the wraiths had possessed the child.

"Who are you?" He held the katana warily, keeping it between him and the child.

"I was Ben Trueheart."

_Trueheart?_ Green Ranger shook his head. The name was familiar. _What was it Ted said about that name?_ "You mean you are Ben Trueheart."

"No." A girl stepped up next to the boy. She was a little older, and carried herself proudly. "We are no longer those children." Her shoulder-length honey-blonde hair and pale complexion had a grey tint to it. Her dark eyes glowed the same yellow as the boy next to her. "We have been sent to bring you, Green Ranger."

She stepped up until the point of the katana almost touched her chest. "Kill us now, or come with us."

It wasn't a choice. Green Ranger shook his head. "I can't kill you." Black shadows swarmed around him, forming an honor guard of sorts.

The girl nodded, a knowing smile curving her lips. "Then follow us."

* * *

Blue was suddenly aware that he was the only color moving inside the sea of ebony. Twirling, and clearing a slight gap, he quickly scanned the area behind him for Thomas. Nothing. No Green Ranger.

"Crap." Blue winced as a wraiths blade-like claws tore across the front of his visor -- causing a shriek like that of fingernails on a blackboard. He brought his sword up sharply, taking the wraiths' curved claws off at the base of the fingers.

The wraith calmly inspected its blunted claws. With a shrug, it popped a new set of glistening razor-like claws and grinned at the Blue Ranger.

For the first time since the fight began, Blue felt a jolt of fear. "YELLOW!" If he was in trouble, how was Gavin faring?

"I - " Yellow cleared his throat, as his voice cracked. "I'm a little busy here!" He backed away from the kids. "Saba, can you do anything to fix them?"

The sword growled. "No. Unless the wraiths loose the children, I cannot attack."

_Great. _ He and Corry had speculated on the swords' limitations. Now they knew one. "Stay back." Yellow steadied his hand as he leveled it at the children. His weapon gleamed as the power gathered in the quills.

"You won't hurt us." One of the kids from group Gavin had taken on the museum tour stepped forward. A vicious smirk curled his lips. "You're a Power Ranger, sworn to protect the innocent and uphold the Light."

Yellow's hand trembled, and he lowered his hand. "You're right..." Whirling, he dove forward, towards the sea of wraiths and the embattled Blue figure in the middle. _Rather take my chances with them, than face demon kids!_

Rolling to his feet, Yellow dashed forward. He sighted in on the wraith directly in front of Blue. "Hey, tall, dark, and ugly! Eat this!" The quill hit the wraith directly between the eyes. The power melted it on the spot.

"Nice of you to finally show up!" Blue panted. That wraith had kept regenerating whatever he cut off. He slashed across a shadow leaping towards him, whirled and cut down another one.

"Don't push me," Yellow growled. He loosed another barrage of quills, taking out half a dozen wraiths. "Saba?" He looked around for the sword.

It was no where in sight.

The six kids from the shelter were watching the battle silently. _Like they're waiting..._ Yellow forgot about the kids, as another waves of wraiths tackled him to the ground.

* * *

"Get...off...me!" Red ripped the wraiths from her, throwing them against the ruins. Both wraiths sailed through the illusionary walls and rolled to their feet. "Crap." _Forgot this is V.R.!_ Red pulled her nunchuks from their dimensional pockets and twirled them. "You want a fight? Bring it on!"

The wraiths looked at one another, twin wicked grins displaying rows of gleaming white teeth. They reached toward one another. As their hands met, the two became one, much larger, muscular wraith.

Now joined, the wraith turned to face the Red Ranger. A low, rasping laugh was its answer to her challenge as it charged forward.

Black Ranger struggled against the crush of wraiths holding him down. "Join usssss...." A wraith bent over to stare into Black Ranger's visor.

The triangular face with its gleaming yellow eyes startled Black Ranger. "You gotta be kidding!" Summoning his talons, Black used his anger to fuel his strength. Freeing one arm, he slashed up at the wraith bending over him. "Go to hell!"

With a wail, the wraith grabbed at it's shredded body and disappeared. Black Ranger swept his curved blades at the other wraiths holding him down, freeing his other arm. He jumped to his feet and stanced. Six wickedly sharp blades curved his fists, glinting in the light. "Anyone else want to try to recruit me?"

A hissing laugh from the deep shadows sent a shiver up Black Ranger's spine. He swallowed hard. From the darkness of the shadow, countless pinpoints of yellow light began to appear. Wraith after wraith stepped through the cloak of darkness.

Black Ranger closed his eyes briefly, and said a prayer. He crossed himself and opened his eyes. "Though I walk through valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me...."

Training and instinct kicked in as Pink felt herself grabbed. Grabbing her fist, she used the strength of both arms to ram her elbow backwards. The tentacles holding her prisoner loosened their grip, and she kicked back. Briefly she wondered if self-defense techniques worked on wraiths, then her feet hit the ground. Pink Ranger reached instinctively for her bow, and whirled. Her eyes widened as she saw the amorphous black blob that had held her. Ebony tentacles began to form and reach for her. Bringing the Power Bow up, Pink began to bombard the wraith with shot after shot.

It had little effect.

Movement off to one side was her only warning. A tentacle came up and smashed into her, knocking the Pink Ranger through the wall of the V.R. building. She tumbled to the ground, rolling to a stop at the edge of the cliff.

Pink Ranger almost lost it as she lay there, trying to regain her bearings. She was shaking, scared to death, and wanted nothing more than to teleport out to somewhere safe.

_Where would that be though? If the wraiths win here, no where will be safe!_ Curling her gloved hands into fists, Pink pushed herself to her feet. She felt dizzy still, but shook it off. Reaching out, she called the Power Bow into being again. "Hang on, Red!"

The big blob might've been too much, but she didn't think the burly wraith wrestling Red Ranger would be able to stand up to their combined attack. _Then I can sic Red on that thing that tried to knock me into tomorrow!_

Pink drew back and began to rain bolts at the wraith.

* * *

Yellow Ranger hit the floor hard, driving the air out of him. "Oof!" His arms were pinned, as more wraiths piled on him. All he could see was black. He couldn't move, as the pressure on him increased. "Blue...," he groaned.

"Hang on!" Blue wasn't doing so well either. They were simply outnumbered. Jared had given up even guessing how long the battle had gone on. It seemed like forever.

He hacked through several wraiths, trying to clear a path to Yellow -- and stopped short. Six children stood between him and the Yellow Ranger. They had a grey tinge to their skin and their eyes glowed yellow. "You're from the Shelter."

"We were." One nodded.

"Now we belong." A little girl smiled, showing a mouth full of sharp teeth. "You want to belong too, don't you?"

Blue brought his sword up, holding the kids back. "I already belong -- to a family and a team." He took a step to one side.

Wraiths blocked his way. Taking a quick look, Blue tightened his grip on his sword. He was surrounded.

He looked past the kids. "YELLOW!" Steely hands gripped his arms, his legs and waist as he surged forward. The sword was yanked from his hand, and an arm came around his neck, even as Blue struggled to free himself. "Let...me...go!"

Yellow Ranger was completely encased in a black, writhing bubble. His frantic movements were slowing, becoming weaker and less frequent.

"GAVIN!" Blue felt the arm around his neck tightening. If he hadn't been morphed, it would've crushed his neck easily. Black completely overtook his vision, obliterating everything.

* * *

Kim flashed into the quiet lab and looked around. Her eyes widened in disbelief as they fell one of the holoimages. "Dear God in Heaven....."

Will was backed into a corner. Alex and Becca looked like fiends from one of the horror holos they loved so much.

She recognized the grey haze that seemed to cover them, and the yellow eyes. "Wraiths." Kim's hands fisted as her eyes narrowed. A fury she had never felt before swept over her, and she reached inside for the power, calling it to her. "Pterodactyl!"

Pink light flared in the lab. Kim was walking even before it died. She now wore a pink leotard and tights, pink boots and armor plating covered her chest. "Lupine, contact Jason Lee Scott. Highest priority."


Turning her gaze to the holoimage tracking the Rangers, Kim felt the fury in her grow. _How dare they do this to our children!_ A grim smile curved her lips. _If they think we're gonna just sit back and watch...._

"Kim?" Another holo solidified. Jason's eyes widened as he saw she was morphed.

"Trouble, Jase. The wraiths attacked the new V.R. Arcade. They've possessed all the kids that were there for the grand opening including, Becca and Alex..." Kim's voice cracked, and she took a second to gather herself. " They're using them to attack the Rangers."

Jason's expression darkened. "Will?"

"Already there." She nodded. "I'm on my way."

"We'll be there, " Jason promised grimly. His holoimage faded.

"Lupine, I'm going after Will."

"Going remote. Understood."

Kim glanced one last time at the holo of Will and the kids, before flashing out of the lab.

* * *

Thomas swallowed hard as he walked through the corridors. Everywhere he looked he saw children covered with the same grey haze as the two leading him. _Damn you, Jett._ He clenched his jaw. _Fighting us is one thing, innocent kids is another._ _What am I going to do?_ He felt like he walking to his execution. _Can I stand against her?_

He fervently hoped so, but a dark voice in the back of his mind said otherwise. _You enjoyed being the Evil Green Ranger, Thomas,_ it whispered. _And you can't deny the way Jett made you feel was incredible...._

_I didn't enjoy death and destruction._ Thomas argued. He shied away from answering the part about Jett.

_You enjoyed the challenge, the danger...._ The voice gave a low chuckle. _You got a kick out of running circles around the supposedly unbeatable Power Rangers!_

Thomas winced. There was truth in the words. _But I didn't win,_ he responded quietly. In the end, Jason and the others beat me and won._

_Did they? Did he? Who became the leader of the Rangers? Who was strong enough to be a Ranger the longest?_

Shaking his head, Thomas ignored the children's vacant yellow glares as he walked along. _Jason would have been leader if he had stayed. Zordon knew he would leave...._

_You're reaching...._

_AND Billy was a Ranger almost as long. He made more sacrifices than any of us. If anyone deserves credit for hanging in there, it's Billy._

He sighed in relief as the voice was quiet for a long moment. It made him a little uncomfortable to be having a conversation with himself, but the dichotomy was something he had lived with for quite some time. The darkness was unusually vocal. _Considering where I am, I'm not that surprised._ Thomas sighed.

_You can't deny what you feel for Jett._

Thomas snorted, shaking his head. _I won't deny she can turn me on._

_Are you sure that's all?_

The voice sounded so smug, so sure. Thomas tried to block it out, but doubt had been planted.

Doubt, like weeds, flourish in any climate. Thomas walked towards his meeting with Jett, and doubt preyed on his uncertainties, and grew.

* * *

"Red!" Pink Ranger realized no matter how many bolts she shot at the wraith, it would have no effect. The wraiths kept pouring out of the shadows. As soon as one fizzled out of existence, another two took its place. They fed into the huge wraith attacking Red. "Fall back!"


_She'll never give up._ Olivia knew how much Nisha hated to lose, especially as a Ranger. She looked around for Black Ranger, knowing he could stop her. "Oh my God!" Pink Ranger left Red and dashed for the black mass converging on her teammate.

Black Ranger winced as another wraith clawed at him. It felt like they were trying to penetrate his armor. Fortunately, their claws simply skidded across the armor's diamond hard surface.

A bolt of energy passed in front of him, punching through about eight of the wraiths on him. Unfortunately, it made no difference. He still couldn't move from the sheer number of ebony forms pressing down on him.

"Raph!" Pink was relieved t see her bolts take out most of the wraiths on the Black Ranger. "Uh oh...." The action attracted the river of wraiths pouring from the shadows. Before Olivia could raise the bow again, she was inundated. The press of wraiths slammed her to the ground, pinning her.

Black filled Nisha's vision as masses of wraiths threw themselves at her. The nunchuks fell from her hands as she fought to pull the shadows off. Red Ranger fell to her knees under the assault and lost consciousness as she was driven face-first into the ground.

* * *

"Alex, Becca, listen to me." Will let his visor disappear and knelt in front of his children. "I know what you're going through. Fight against their influence!"

The twins looked at one another. Alex shrugged. "They don't hear you, Blue Morphin Warrior." His eyes gleamed brighter.

"How does it feel knowing we posses all three of your children?"

Will's hands fisted. "I was once under your control and I broke free." His green eyes were pale as he looked at the children pleadingly. "Come on, guys. I know you can hear me."

Becca frowned, blinking.

"No." Alex shook his head. "What they hear are murmurs in their sleep." A wicked smile curved his mouth. "Children are so...uncomplicated."

A flash of pink announced the arrival of Kimberly. Will stood as she ran over to him. "What -"

"Hang on, Kim." Will held her back. He glanced at the twins. "This isn't like with Corry. They can't really hear us."

Kimberly scowled at the grey tinge surrounding her youngest children. "Let them go!"

"Or what?" Becca crossed her arms. "You'll shoot us?" She smirked. "I don't think so."

"However, we have no problems in hurting you." Alex threw his hand out, hurling a handful of grey, star-shaped objects at the Morphin Warriors.

Will and Kim reacted instantly, old reflexes kicking in. They sprang apart, backflipping away.

The grey stars embedded themselves in the concrete floor where Kim and Will had stood just seconds before.

"How dare you!" Kim was furious, not at her kids, but at the wraiths possessing them. Maternal instinct vied with the need to eradicate the wraiths. "Pterodactyl Thunder Whip!" The weapon materialized in her hand.

"Stega Stinger!" Will realized her intention and summoned the weapon.

Almost as one, the weapons fired. Kim's whip lashed out, wrapping around her daughter's body, and pinned the girl's arms to her side. Will's weapon shot out a yellow line that wound around Alex's arms. Will and Kim pulled on the weapons and both children toppled to the ground.

"Now." Will's eyes were dangerously cold as he pulled his laser and pointed it at Alex's head. "Get out of my son!"

"Let Becca go," Kim growled. She knelt next to the girl, pinning her with the whip's handle. "I can sit here and wait as long as necessary. Can you?"

"You won't hurt them."

Kim looked up and gasped.

Will paled. "Corry...." He knelt to keep from falling.

The girl was dressed all in black, her eyes an eerie shade of gold. A grey miasma hung around her. She smiled coolly. "I'm calling your bluff. You and I both know you won't harm a hair on their heads." She gestured to the children. "Let them go."

"Corry?" Kim felt like she was living a nightmare. This couldn't be her daughter! This girl looked older, her figure fully developed, and a maturity in her face that belied her sixteen years. The black bodysuit fit like a second skin, leaving little to the imagination. "No...."

Becca and Alex took the opportunity to scramble to their feet. Pulling the lines away from themselves, they backed up to stand on either side of their sister.

A sudden flash of colored light filled the room, as the rest of the Morphin Warriors teleported in.

"What's going on?" Jason demanded. He strode over to stand next to Kim, helping her stand. "Are you all right?"

"No." Kim swallowed hard. She felt sick. _Something isn't right about this...._

Trini walked over to join them. "Will?"

He gratefully accepted her hand up.

Adam, Rocky, Zack and Aisha joined them, facing the three possessed children.

"Whoa," Rocky muttered in surprise. "When did she grow up?"

Aisha elbowed him hard in the ribs.

Trini's eyes narrowed as she studied the children.

"Well," Corry smiled coldly. "The gang's all here." She put a hand on each of the twin's shoulders. "Too bad we have to leave now."

"Wait!" Will stepped forward, reaching out pleadingly. "Please, don't go."

"Sweetheart," Kim dropped the whip. "Why are you doing this? Please -"

"Save your breath." Corry cut her off, smirking. "You'll need it later. We're tired of listening to you. It's our turn to have some fun. To cut loose."

"Kimberly," Trini said quietly. "That isn't Corry."

"What?" Kim and Will said at the same time. They turned to face the Asian woman, then looked back at their children.

Trini shook her head, a sure smile playing on her lips. "Who are you?" Her eyes never left the girl in black.

"Shows how little you know." Corry rolled her eyes. "You adults are so lame." She stepped back, Becca and Alex following. "Your days of glory are past, old-timers." Narrowing her eyes, she shook her head. "Hope you bought those plots in the cemetary, Dino warriors!" She laughed. "Get ready for extinction! You'll never beat us." With one last smirk, she waved. "Bye, losers!"

"NO, WAIT!" Kim reached out as her children disappeared in ebony flames. "NO!"

Her wail was echoed in Will's cry of protest.

"KIM!" Trini grabbed her shoulders, shaking her sobbing friend. "That was not Corry!"

"Trini," Jason cautioned. He put an arm around Will who stood staring with a shocked expression at the spot where the three had stood. "How can you be sure?"

"Jason, I just know." Trini hugged Kim to her. "It wasn't her. I know it wasn't, Kim." She met Will's gaze with a sure smile.

"Either way." Adam's expression was grim. "We have to get Becca and Alex back."

Rocky nodded. "We can solve the mystery of who that was with them then."

Aisha picked up the Pterodactyl Thunder Whip and walked over to put her arms around Kim. "We'll find them, Kim." She looked over at Will, reaching out to squeeze his arm. "We won't stop until we do."

"Right." Will took a deep breath, shaking off the shock. He nodded to Jason. "Thank you." A determined expression hardened his features. "Lupine, show me where they went."

* * *
It didn't look good. Thomas walked slowly past rows after row of wraiths. It reminded him of the last scene in Star Wars, where the heroes walk down the lines of Rebel soldiers to receive their medals. _Only I'm not going to get a medal...._

The wraiths jeered and hissed at him, but none moved to attack. It was all too strange.

Then he saw her. Standing at the end of the long corridor, dressed in a flowing grey gown, Jett looked like the Princess standing before her troops. A very dark, cold Princess. Thomas' expression hardened. _Remember! This is the thing that took Corry, the thing that possessed your friends and is killing people._ His hand tightened on the katana.

He wouldn't forget. Not this.

The kids stopped just in front of Jett, and moved aside to join a bunch of other children.

"Welcome, Green Ranger." Jett smiled. "You're just in time to join our celebration."

"I wouldn't start raving so soon." Shifting the katana, Green Ranger put it between him and the woman.

Jett shook her head. "Don't be rude, Thomas." She walked towards him, stopping just as the katana would have touched her chest. "Gentlemen usually remove their hats in the presence of ladies."

Tempting as it was to tell her she wasn't a lady, Green Ranger held himself to a small shake of his head. "Forget it."

A moue of disappointment pursed Jett's lips. "Must you do everything the hard way, Thomas Oliver?"

Wraiths shot up from the ground, wrapping around his ankles and legs, and slithered up to cover his body. Before he could even blink, he was covered in black up to his neck. As the katana started to fall out of his numb hand, Thomas willed it back to its dimensional pocket.

Jett reached out to grab it, and blinked in surprise as the katana disappeared. She shrugged. "We'll get you a better one." She smiled slowly, looking him up and down. "Very nice. Perfectly gift-wrapped."

As if in slow motion, Thomas watched her raise her hands up to his head. The latches of his helmet opened with a pop, and she removed it.

"Behold, the Green Ranger un-masked!" Jett re-latched the helmet and held it up to show the mass of wraiths assembled.

Thomas hardened his expression as the corridor echoed with a thunderous cheer. It was a scene out of his worst nightmare. Producing a pike, Jett stuck the helmet on the end and plunged it into the ground. It hung like a gruesome trophy. "So, Thomas. What will you do now?"

Her gloating smirk stung his pride. Forcing a careless smile he answered, "I'm going to Disneyland."

The joke was lost on the group. Jett frowned slightly. "What?" She shook her head, and moved closer to him. "Let me persuade you to see things my way."

It might have been the fact he was morphed; or the black ooze that made him incapable of moving; or the memory that this was the one responsible for so much pain. Thomas felt only coldness as the woman pulled him to her and kissed him.

The passion was all on one side.

Jett pulled back, eyes narrowed. Surprise flitted across her face, and was gone in an instant. She stepped back, drawing herself up. "Very well."

She gestured, and five black globes appeared behind her, hanging just above the ground. "Brothers, sisters...I give you the Power Rangers."

The globes lightened, revealing a Ranger in each one.

"No...." Thomas' whisper was drowned out by the roar of the wraiths. He fought to move, but couldn't even move a millimeter. As Jett looked at him, he struggled to regain his composure. "How do I know it's really them?"

"How do you know it isn't?" Jett smiled sweetly. "I have no reason to lie." She turned and walked over to the globe containing the Black Ranger. "Let's see." Jett tucked her hand under her chin, thinking. "What can I do to prove to you it's really your friends?"

The tenseness in his stomach twisted into a knot as she circled the globe.

"I could pull out his beating heart and show it to you." Jett stopped and reached in to touch the Black Ranger. Her hand slipped smoothly through his armor.

A scream of agony ripped out of Black Ranger as he threw his head back and writhed.

Jett smiled coolly at Thomas. "Call my bluff."

Sweat beaded on Thomas' forehead. The figures in the other four globes fought to free themselves as they watched their teammate flail like a fish caught on a pike.

Twisting her hand slightly, Jett raised a dark eyebrow as Black Ranger screamed again. His moans and wimpers of pain were too much.

"STOP!" _Forgive me if she's telling the truth, Raph._ Thomas took a deep breath. _And forgive me if she's lying._ "What do you want?"

Jett slowly removed her hand from Black Ranger's chest, pausing to pat his cheek, before she turned to face Thomas. "You." She walked slowly over to him, never letting her gaze drop from his. "You, with me."

Thomas ignored the frantic motions of the Rangers in the globes. He closed his eyes as her words sunk in.

Images flashed through his mind: him kneeling before Rita; the Sword of Darkness poised above Jason's chest as he prepared to stab him; the thrill of loosing DragonZord's full power; ripping up the Command Center as Zordon watched helplessly. The chill of his body began to creep up his neck.

* * *

"Thomas! NO!" Jared beat as hard as he could against the grey surface surrounding him. The black ooze was creeping up to his teammate's chin now. "DON'T DO IT!"

Next to him, Olivia was sobbing. She couldn't believe he would give in. Sinking against the surface of the globe, she bowed her head. "Everything is wrong...."

Gavin watched half-fascinated, half-horrified, as the black crept up Thomas' face. "Dear God in heaven, have mercy."

"Damnit, Thomas Oliver!" Nisha kicked the globe again and again. "Fight her!"

Raph leaned back against the grey surface, still holding his hand to his chest. He felt sick to his stomach. "No..."

* * *

The last thing he remembered was the day at the park after they had won their parents and friends back. The sunny smile on Kimberly's face; the relief on Will's, the serene look on Trini's face; Jason's contented smile; Zack's laugh; Aisha's grin; Adam's quiet happiness; Tanya's pride in the children; Skull's crazy laugh. His eyesite began to dim, as a film of grey crept over his eyes. Thomas looked at his teammates, locking their images in his mind from that picnic. How happy they'd been. Carefree, and laughing as they played frisbee.

For a moment, he thought he saw Corry standing next to the others, grinning at him. His mind fought to hold to the image....

Darkness claimed Thomas Oliver once again.

* * *

Jett smiled in satisfaction as she watched the black completely encase the Green Ranger. "Yes...."

The green armor darkened until it was a deep shade of hunter green. The once bright gold coin and shield dimmed and the panther image on it became a bold black. The white of his gloves and boots became a dull grey.

Thomas' brown eyes darkened to a deep, pure, black, enlarging until there was almost no white around the iris at all.

Jett handed him the helmet. "Now...." She smiled as he put the helmet on. The dragon image on the helmet had more of a snarl, and longer teeth that jutted down into the visor. The jewel set in the center of the dragon's crest was now ebony black. A black sword appeared in Jett's hands. It's shape was much the same as Thomas' katana, but the blade gleamed a deep ebony. "Now, my Dragon, kill them." She held the sword out to him.

"Target acquired." Lupine's quiet voice startled Rocky, who glanced around.

"Show visual." Will held up his wrist, allowing the rest of the team to see what was displayed on his visor.

Jason couldn't remember hearing his friend's voice so cold. Kim, too, looked ready to shred anything that stood in her way.

"Where are we?" He studied the holo.

Gold light suddenly filled the room. It died down to reveal a Ranger in black armor, wearing a gold shield. "I thought perhaps you could use some assistance."

"Trey!" Jason gripped Gold Ranger's forearm in greeting. "Good to see you." His expression sobered. "We can use all the help we can get."

Will nodded a greeting at the Triforian. "We're here." He pointed. "This is the location of the largest concentration of dark energy."

"Man," Rocky sighed seeing the distance. "I didn't realize this new arcade was so big."

"It's the largest in the state." Adam shrugged as his friends looked at him surprised. "I overheard Olivia and Corry...." His voice trailed off as he looked at Kim.

She dredged up a smile. "It's okay, Adam." Kim squeezed his arm. "Which way do we go, Will?"

Studying the holo for a moment, Will calculated the quickest route. "That corridor." He pointed.

"Let's go." Jason gestured the group forward.

* * *

Green Ranger took the sword and lifted it to touch his visor in a silent salute. He turned to face the globes holding the other Rangers captive.

A brilliant flash of green blinded everyone. Jett shied away, shielding her eyes from the wash of light. When it cleared, the Panther stood blocking Green Ranger's way. It snarled, ears back, amber eyes blazing. Jett backed away, fear plainly on her face. "Wraiths, attack! Kill the Rangers!"

Olivia looked up as the sea of black forms raced towards her. She pushed herself to her feet and looked over to Jared. "Jay!" The Power Bow wasn't materializing.

"I see them!" Blue Ranger fisted his hands. It was going to be a slaughter if they couldn't get out of the globes. Summoning the power to his fist, he smashed it against the barrier. The grey shimmered black for a moment, but held.

"Let us out!" Red Ranger threw herself against the barrier in an effort to break out.

Raph looked over at Gavin. He couldn't see the younger boy's face, but knew he had to be scared. Gritting his teeth, Black Ranger prepared for the worst.

As the wraiths ran up to the globes they struck a barrier that suddenly appeared, and staggered back. The wave slowed as the first warriors fell back on those following.

Green Ranger stood as if rooted to the spot as the ebony warriors streamed around him. The Panther lashed it's tail, still snarling at the Ranger in front of it.

"Cut it down, Dragon!" Jett commanded. She stayed a healthy distance away from the pony-sized Panther. "No..." she whispered as her newly made warrior lowered his weapon.

A brilliantly colored rainbow shot into the cavern, illuminating the room.

The wraiths groaned in pain, covering their faces. When they could look again, they realized the Rangers were free of their globes. Standing before each Ranger was their individual guardian animal.

There was a long pause, as the wraiths faced the new challenge.

Growling and snarling, the Panther suddenly raised a huge paw up and extended its razor-sharp claws to rest it on the gold coin. It's nails dug into the armor as if it were butter.

Green Ranger staggered back, dropping the black sword.

The wraiths charged forward, uttering an ear-splitting howl.

"Oh man...." Olivia pulled the power bow up, glancing at the Owl.

*Steady, fledgling* The Owl mantled and clicked it's sharp beak. Pushing off the floor, it winged up, diving as the wraiths came at it's charge.

The Polar Bear reared up on its hind legs as the wraiths came forward. Huge, curved claws swiped at the black forms as the Red Ranger came up next to it. Nunchuks swinging, Nisha took her fury out on the wraiths.

"Now what?!" Gavin ducked a swing, aimed his weapon, and burned three wraiths out.

The Mongoose dodged a kick and snapped at the wraith. It disappeared in a puff. *We show them never to underestimate us, youngling!* Quicker than Gavin could almost follow, the Mongoose bit at the ankles of four more wraiths. All disappeared like the others.

Blue Ranger and the Wolverine waded in, swiping, clawing, biting, hacking and slashing anything that was black and not armored. Both looked right in their element. "Eat cold steel!" Jared growled as he sliced through two wraiths.


Raph nodded. "I'm fine. Let's show them not to mess with us!" Summoning his weapons, Black Ranger leaped into the fray, the Jaguar right at his side.

The Rangers, with the help of their guardian animals beat back the press of the wraiths, but the sheer number was overwhelming. More wraiths poured in from shadows all over the room.

"It's time for a Gold Rush!" Balls of gold energy shot out, blasting holes in the sea of black. Before the wraiths could recover, the Gold Ranger seemed to be everywhere at once, cutting the black warriors down even further.

A figure in red armor waded into the battle, swinging a broadsword that cut huge swathes of wraiths down. Right behind him was a slim woman in a skin-tight yellow bodysuit. A gauzy robe flowed around her as she sliced into the wraiths with a pair of jeweled daggers.

A shadow leaped out, curved claws aimed at a petite woman dressed in a form-fitting pink bodysuit. "Kim! Down!" Without hesitation, she ducked. A blue beam shot out, freezing the wraith mid-leap. It fell to the floor with a crash, shattering into a million pieces.

"Thanks!" Kimberly flashed her husband a smile. "Behind you, Will!" She fired off a silver arrow that shot completely through the wraith's head. "I'll cover your back!"

The two stood back to back, in a clear zone that began to slowly widen as the wraiths looked for easier targets.

An axe cut down a swathe of wraiths as a figure dressed in loose black pants and a tunic, leaped into the fray. "Zack-man's here!"

"Don't get cocky, Zack!" Aisha, dressed in a yellow bodysuit that was armored on her chest, arms and legs, leaped in. She summoned a pair of sai and joined in the battle. It soon became clear, although small, this was a fierce warrior.

"Raph!" Rocky ducked a swing that would have decapitated him and plunged his cutlass into the wraith's chest. It disappeared. A hand grabbed one of the armored plates on his arm.

"Hang on, Rocky!" Adam swung his friend around. "The kids are trying to reach Thomas." He gestured behind them. "Let's flank 'em!"

It wasn't easy following Adam through the wraiths. His friend was dressed almost like he had been as the Black Ninja, and was as quick. Rocky clenched his jaw, ducked his head and began to barrel through the wraiths.

Jett saw the Ranger team converging on Thomas and shook her head. "No..." She strode over to Green Ranger as he staggered back from the Panther. Placing her hands on his shoulders, Jett summoned the black fire to surround them.

"Crap!" Jared skidded to a halt as ebony flames leaped up to encircle Thomas and Jett. He glanced at the Panther lashing it's tail. It wasn't moving forward. Not a good sign. "Now what?" He turned to the Wolverine.

*Too late, cub,* The guardian snarled.

"Thomas!" Olivia and Gavin ran up to stand next to Jared.

"Don't!" Raph grabbed Olivia's hand as she reached out to touch the black barrier.

"Guys?" Gavin gulped as he looked into the flames. "I think we need to -"

Before any of the Rangers could move, the flames flashed out to engulf them.

"NO!" Rocky and Adam were thrown back as the force of the backlash radiated outwards.

Gold Ranger held the Golden Power Staff before him and braced himself. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Kimberly and Will duck behind him.

Jason grabbed Trini and turned his back to the blast.

Aisha and Zack grabbed one another and ducked.

The wraiths jumped into the rising black inferno, adding to its intensity. It rose, higher and higher, circling and engulfing the entire area. From the center of the firestorm, rose a black phoenix. It shrieked, green eyes gleaming defiantly and spread ebony wings. The winds pushed all the Morphin Warriors to the ground, pinning them. Even Gold Ranger was pushed to his knees as the phoenix lifted from the ground. Growing until it filled the entire room, it hung, suspended for one moment, turning to glare at the adults. In a blaze of black and green, the phoenix punched through the roof of the building and disappeared.

Debris rained to the ground onto the dazed Morphin Warriors. The room was eerily silent, and one by one, they lifted their heads to see what remained.

The Panther stood, staring up at the sky. After a moment, it slowly looked away.

"Raph...." Groaning, Rocky pushed himself up. He swayed. "Adam!" Reaching down, he grabbed his friend. "They aren't moving!"

Adam blinked to clear his eyes, and scrambled to his feet. The Rangers lay still, sprawled on the concrete floor. They were still morphed. Each Ranger's guardian animal stood over them.

"Olivia!" Adam ran over and knelt next to her. He spared a glance at the Owl. It looked at him, eyes somber. Unlatching her helmet, Adam pulled it off. "'Livy?"

Rocky took Raph's helmet off and felt for his breathing. To his relief, his son was just unconscious. He glanced at the Jaguar who solemnly watched. "Is he all right?"

"Is he okay?" Kim joined Will kneeling next to Gavin. She took the helmet Will handed her.

"He's got a steady pulse. A little weak." Will gently pried open Gavin's eyelid. "Pupils are responsive." He looked up as the Mongoose sat between him and Kimberly.

"Jared?" Trini smoothed her son's hair back.

Jason split his attention between his son, and the Wolverine sitting at his son's feet. The animal looked pissed, nothing unusual for Wolverines, but Jason got the impression it wasn't happy.

"Nisha!' Aisha pushed past the Polar Bear and knelt at her daughter's side. Zack joined her and they took her helmet off.

Gold Ranger walked slowly over to the huge black cat.

It sat staring broodingly at the hole in the ceiling. As if feeling the Gold Ranger's gaze on it, the Panther looked at the man.

"Will they be all right?" Trey indicated the Rangers.

Panther nodded. It stood. *This is not over yet.* In a flash of green light, the animal disappeared.

Trey watched as one by one, each guardian animal left.

"Let's get them to my Lab." Will touched his wrist. "Lupine, wide dispersal. Teleport everyone to the infirmary."

* * *

Adam finished his check on the Rangers and walked back into the main room. He had been the kids' Pediatrician all their lives, mending various broken bones and nasty scrapes. This was a whole new level though. He looked up at the anxious parents, his best friends. "They're all okay." A quiet smile curved his mouth.


"What exactly -"

"Hang on a sec, gang." Will held up his hands as they all jumped up. "Let's talk a minute. They kids probably need a little time alone to regroup too."

Jason remained standing as the others sat. "Adam, what exactly happened?"

The Asian man sighed and sat next to Tanya who had joined them. He squeezed her hand. "They don't remember everything yet. They were sucked into those flames and said it felt like they were being drained. Gavin said it was like being electrecuted..." Adam shrugged. "Each of them felt it differently, but they're all weak, a little nauseated, and have nasty headaches."

"Now they're down two teammates." A thought occurred to Rocky. "Uh...do they know about Corry? The way we saw her?"

Adam sighed. "No. I..." He looked at Will and Kim. "I didn't have the heart to tell them after what they saw happen to Thomas. They think she's just...missing."

Zack shook his head. "What are we gonna do?"

"What can we do?" Aisha hated feeling helpless. Seeing her daughter lying there not moving had been one of the most frightening things she ever experienced. "We did what we could."

"Is it true the Power Chamber is missing?" Tanya looked from Jason to Will.

"Yes." Will sighed heavily. "I haven't had a chance to search for it yet...."

"You had other things to do." Kim put her arm around his waist and leaned against him. She turned her gaze to Jason. "Do you have any ideas?"

Jason nodded. "Yeah, but it won't work without the Power Chamber." He shrugged and gave Will an apologetic look. His friend looked tired, and was no doubt worried sick about their children.

"Couldn't we just do to Thomas what he did to us?" Zack looked around the faces of his oldest friends.

"We have to find him first." Jason sighed heavily. How could this happen to Thomas? How could history repeat itself again?

"What about the Zeo Crystal?" Trini met Jason's gaze. "Is that what you meant about the Chamber?"

He nodded. "Having twice as many Rangers would be a huge asset."

Trey stood quietly, arms crossed, listening to the talk around him. "There is one other problem."

They all looked at one another, almost unwilling to ask.

"All of the children from the arcade are missing. Jett not only has your children," he gazed in sympathy at Kim and Will. "but Lon, Mady and Ben Trueheart are also missing. Ted Oliver was with his niece and nephews." Trey looked around. "If Jett truly has both green coins, we could be in serious trouble."

"She would also have both halves of the arrowhead," Adam added quietly.

"Oh my God." Will closed his eyes. He had completely forgotten about the arrowhead.

Aisha blinked back tears as she leaned against Zack. "What are we going to tell David and Kat about their kids?"

Kim shook her head. She felt numb. _Yesterday we were a happy family. How could it all change so quickly?_

"Don't despair." Trey put a comforting hand on Will's shoulder. "Your actions turned the tide today." He smiled warmly at the group. "Without your intervention, we would be in a much more serious situation." Trey's expression sobered. "You must not lose hope." He gestured to the door to the infirmary. "They rely on you to support them. Without Zordon and Thomas, they will look to me, and to all of you for guidance. We must not let them down."

"Trey's right." Tanya stood. "We always found a way through in the past." Adam stood and took her hand.

Kim took a deep breath and pushed aside her grief for the moment. Trey was right. "We have each other." Kim stood, pulling Will up with her. "We can do it."

Jason nodded. "Once a Ranger, always a Ranger." He smiled and held out his hand to Trini.

Aisha and Zack looked at each other and stood. With a smile, Aisha held out her hand to Rocky. "Together, no one can beat us."

Rocky hesitated a moment, then took her hand and stood. He nodded slowly as he looked around the circle of friends. "I can't think of a better bunch of people to try."

"Then we are agreed." Trey nodded, seeing the steady gazes that met his. "Now we will begin to reclaim all that we have lost."

* * *

It was a much more somber group that met in the infirmary. Olivia was curled up on one of the diagnostic beds, silent. Every now and then, they heard a sniff.

After a while, Gavin couldn't stand it. "Olivia, don't cry." He awkwardly patted her shoulder, uncertain of what to say. _This is Corry's department...._ The thought of their missing White Ranger depressed Gavin further.

And now, one of their own was a potentially deadly enemy.

Nisha sighed and walked over to Gavin and Olivia. "Here." Reaching out, she pulled the younger girl into her arms. "Go ahead and cry, 'Livy." Nisha leaned her face against the girl's hair, feeling her own tears burn their way down her cheeks as Olivia quietly sobbed into her shoulder.

Gavin felt tears well up and turned away. His eyes met Raph's gaze. Guilt and pain mingled in the Black Ranger's gaze.

"Don't." Jared's gruff voice startled everyone.

"What?" Gavin looked around uncertainly. _What did I do?_

"Don't go and pull a guilt trip on us, Raph." Jared walked over and sat next to his best friend. "This isn't your fault."

"He's right." Gavin saw the surprise in the two older boys' faces. "Circumstances were beyond even what our guardian animals could control today. You saw the Panther."

"Jett pulled the rug out from under us." Jared's expression was grim. "Now we have a real idea of what we're up against."

"We're up against the Green Ranger and a buttload of wraiths," Raph growled. He stood and began to pace. The memory of Jett reaching her hand in past his armor and into his chest was burned into his mind. He touched his chest. "We were her playthings today!"

Nisha widened her eyes as Olivia pulled away and slipped off the diagnostic bed. She walked silently over to Raph and touched his arm.

He jumped in surprise and turned to look at the petite girl. "Don't give up." The appeal was there in her dark eyes. "We can't give up."

"Olivia -" Raph struggled to say that he just couldn't do it anymore. The words wouldn't come out. He sighed and shook his head. "All right. Where do we start?"

"We get OUR Rangers back!" Nisha walked over to stand next to Olivia. "Jett thinks she can take our own without retribution, she's got another thing comin'!"

"I agree." Gavin joined them. "Find Corry. She might be the key to getting Thomas back. Even if she isn't, we'll have six Rangers to stand against him."

"Thomas got us our parents back." Jared's dark eyes glimmered. "We owe him. No way I'm letting Jett use him as a weapon against us."

"We need to find Zordon also." Raph sighed, but smiled. He was more tired than he had ever been in his young life, weary both in heart and in body. "We're agreed then?" He held out his hand. "Whatever it takes, we'll be a team of seven again."

One by one the five added their hands, reaffirming the bonds of friendship that nothing could break. "Until we're seven again," Jared said quietly. He gently removed his hand.

"Seven," echoed Nisha.

Gavin nodded.

Olivia looked at Raph and smiled slightly. "We'll be full strength again, you'll see."

"I hope so, 'Livy." Gently squeezing her hand he looked at Gavin. "Let's get going."

The End... for now