Chapter Two
By Nancy E. Shaw

The next morning came early for the Rangers. They spent most of it back on Earth at Angel Grove P.D. giving their report about the abduction of Katie Brewer. No trace of her could be found from when she left her father's trailer the evening before.

Jim Brewer insisted his ex-wife was to blame, claiming she had never forgiven him for getting custody of their little girl. Andros however, had other ideas, though he kept them to himself for now. He listened to the forensics report on the trailer-- no fingerprints, hair or fiber samples recovered-- and then beckoned the Rangers to take their leave. They returned to the Megaship in silence and prepared to go about their daily tasks and then join the search.

That day, Andros was distracted to say the least. He replayed the scene at the power station over and over again, trying to make sense out of Darkonda's words and actions. He had told the Police he was responsible for the damage at station #119-- that he had attempted to fire upon the kidnapper and accidentally hit the transformer instead. Jim Brewer did not need to know his daughter had been taken by an evil mutant space alien.

What's more, Andros was not entirely sure it was Darkonda he met. He had woken up that morning thinking it had all been a dream-- or more accurately, a nightmare. The only reason he knew it was real, was the lingering smell of popcorn and burnt metal on him. Had Darkonda actually been there? Had Andros actually heard him say those things? Or was it the shock of seeing a helpless child stolen from her loved ones; the feelings of rage that event brought up, that were affecting his perception so?

He couldn't be sure of anything yet, but he knew self-doubt never got a person anywhere. He would have to trust his memory as it was, and use that to get Katie Brewer back.

* * *

Cassie Chan finished her tasks on the bridge and sat back in her chair to think. She and the others had gotten the abridged version of the events at the power station, and now she took a moment to mull over them and try to make some sense out of her friend Andros' emotional state.

He had explained the events as such: The abductor lead him to the power station where he ambushed Andros and then fled. Andros had tried to shoot him down with a low-power blaster shot, but tripped and accidentally fired upward, hitting the transformer instead.

The story smacked of deception. Cassie didn't know why Andros would lie, but she figured he was plenty capable of it. No amount of coaxing could get more from him either, so they were forced to accept his story; even though he was blatantly avoiding eye-contact while he told it.

The MegaLift doors slid open, disrupting Cassie's thoughts. Carlos, Ashley and TJ came through, partially Morphed and carrying their helmets in their arms. TJ was in the lead, and reported, "We're going back down to the fairgrounds. Andros suggested we look for clues at the power station now that it's daylight. You coming?"

Cassie furrowed her brow. "Why isn't Andros going with you?"

"He said he had another lead to follow," said Carlos. "He's in the Work Bay getting ready."

"Did he say where he was going?"

"Nope. Just said not to wait for him."

Cassie chewed the inside of her cheek for a moment, finally getting up from her chair and heading for the MegaLift. "You guys go ahead by yourselves, I'm going to see if he needs any help."

Ashley turned to watch her go. "I already asked, Cassie. He said he could handle it on his own."

"I'm sure he did." was the Pink Ranger's reply.

* * *

She went to the Work Bay to find it empty, with Andros' locker door slightly ajar. Curious, she went up and opened it, and a few rolled-up star charts fell out onto the floor. They had been tossed in carelessly, or in a hurry.

Stuffing them back in, she shut the locker and left the room, this time heading for Andros' quarters on the starboard side. The door stood open and the lights were on, and when she came to stand in the doorway she could see him there. He stood before the window with his back to her, partially Morphed, holding one half of a double picture frame in his hand.

"Andros?" she prompted.

He whirled, and his face hardened slightly when he saw her. "I thought you went with the others."

"I came to see what you were planning to do. Do you need backup?"

He set the picture down and walked towards her, brushing past and out of the room. She followed him.

Andros strode down the corridor at a rapid clip, eyes forward and barely noticing the world around him. Cassie caught up to him quickly, matching his stride.

"Tell me where you're going."

He ignored her question, staying all but stonefaced.

"Come on Andros, don't get like this with me."

"Go join TJ and the others on the surface," he said. "The more people looking for clues, the better."

"And where will you be?"

"I've got another lead to follow."

"Could you be a little more vague here?"

He gave her a sideways glance, unmoved by her sarcasm. They had arrived at the Jump Bay and he paused to consult the starmap.

"You know who did this don't you?" Cassie accused. "And you're going after them by yourself."

He leaned on the edge of the table. "I don't know anything yet. I told you I have a lead, and I'm going to see if it takes me anywhere."

Cassie folded her arms. "You know you're really not doing well on that teamwork kick. What have you found?"

"I'll explain when I get back."

"From the way you were looking at Karone's picture, it seemed like you don't expect to come back."

With a great sigh of annoyance, he rounded on her and gazed at her tiredly. "Fine. You want to know the truth? I'm going to find Darkonda."


"He was the one who destroyed the transformer, not me. I think he's responsible for Katie Brewer's abduction."

She came to stand toe to toe with him. "How come you didn't mention this before?"

He averted his gaze. "Because I'm not sure of what I saw. I only know that when I was chasing the kidnapper yesterday, I could hear the girl's screams as though they were Karone's...and for a few moments I thought I was back in the park on KO-35, chasing after them like I should have done nine years ago."

There was a silence between them as Cassie tried to digest this. She continued to gaze at him quizzically, making him cringe a little. Finally she asked, "So you suspect Darkonda is the one who took your sister. Is that it?"

He nodded, keeping his eyes low.

"And you're sure it was him you were chasing? I mean, you weren't just seeing what you wanted to see--?"

"Why would I want to see Darkonda?" he demanded. "I have to trust my memory from last night and from nine years ago, I've never been this close to having a suspect before. He even gave me a clue: he said that the next time we meet will be the fourth time. Now as far as I know, I've only met him twice before-- when he released the Barillian Bugs and when he hijacked Ecliptor. The first time must have been when witnessed him taking Karone."

The puzzle was slowly coming together in Cassie's mind. "But why is he kidnapping again? What does Katie Brewer have to do with all this?"

He looked defeated as he replied, "I can't answer that. I'm hoping I'll find out when I find Darkonda."

She gave a long sigh. "Well, I suppose we'll never know if I don't let you go, huh?" Her voice was sympathetic, but there was a telltale gleam in her eyes.

"Go on and find Darkonda then," she said. "Just as long as you let us in on the plan. He's trying to set a trap for you, but it may just be our chance to turn the tables and rid the Universe of him once and for all. And no way am I gonna let you ruin this chance by going alone." she added gently.

Andros frowned, but she could see he wasn't going to object.

"Come on, the funhouse yesterday is giving me an idea. We can do this with some help from DECA and a little sleight of hand."