Legal Disclaimer: This is the fourth in the "Home Guard" saga, taking place after "Corruption of Innocence" . catch you up, the Orange Ranger Tanya was taken by Ivan Ooze and all the evil in her unleashed, turning her against all that is good. All the characters herein belong to Saban Entertainment except for Emmie, who belongs to Elizabeth Wegner. Enjoy!!!

Black and Gold
by Gael Filson

Shadows cloaked Angel Grove these days, shadows of evil and shadowed hearts alike. Eleven grief-stricken hearts, weeping at the loss of one of their own. Tanya Sloane, the Orange Ranger, had been torn away from them, transformed into an evil sorceress at the spellcasting of Ivan Ooze. Each of the remaining Rangers was dealing with this in their own way, some together, some separately.

Jason and Rocky were devoting all their attention to martial arts, practicing as hard as they could. Trini and Billy were talking constantly, about what no one else knew, but it was obviously important to them; they went silent whenever anyone came near them. Kat and Tommy were keeping one another from falling into a mutual depression over the loss of someone to the evil they had both served. Their mutual love was all that kept them from going out and doing things they probably would've regretted in the heat of the moment. Aisha and Zack were spending long hours walking together, while Kim got to know Justin better, her mothering instincts drawing her to him. The two were growing close, and she didn't seem to mind talking to him for hours about the past of the Rangers and all their glory.

Adam was the only one of them who stayed alone during this time. Aisha and Rocky tried every now and then to get him to talk to someone, but to no avail. He moped about like a cloud of ultimate doom and depression.

It had been nearly a week since Tanya had left them all, and that morning, before sunrise, he made his way to a small clearing in Angel Grove Park. Quietly the Black Ninjetti moved through the graceful and strong movements of a kata he had learned as a child, and. . .and taught to Tanya, he thought, wiping tears from his eyes. Oh, Tanya.. .I miss you so much.

He could remember everything about her. Every detail. The way her hair smelled. The way her eyes danced. The sheen of light that glowed from her skin. The sparkling joy that came from her when they worked out together. The way her voice had rung out so triumphantly in morphing calls.

"Zeo Ranger Two, Yellow," he whispered to himself, remembering. "Dune Star Turbo Power. Nightingale."

How sweet her voice was when she sang. How much fun they'd had working on the music video together. How much she loved her job at the radio station.

How much he loved her; how much she had loved him. . .it hurt now to think of that: it hurt incredibly.

"I can't think about it," he muttered as he moved into another kata. He was trying to think of anything but her, anything at all. But every move he made, everything he did only brought those thoughts centering right back to her. "Blast it!" he growled at last, pausing his workout to pull a picture out of his pocket.

A smiling Tanya looked back at him, with himself next to her in the photo. She wore yellow then, and he wore green; this had been taken back in the days of the Zeo Rangers. When they were young and in love and everything had seemed absolutely perfect. "I was a fool," he muttered. "But I love you, Tanya Sloane. And I swear, I will have you back one day. Ooze can't keep you like that forever. Your heart is good, and you'll find your way back to us one day. I know you will."

His heart and mind calmed somewhat, Adam started another kata, falling deeper into it this time, finally able to get his mind off her. He swore to himself as he did so that he would stay faithful to her. He would remain true to all they had meant to each other, no matter how long it took. When she was free, he would be there for her.

He would never love another.

* * *
Adam wasn't aware of it, but as much as he had tried to be alone all this time, he wasn't. Someone had shadowed him every step of the way. Even now she watched him from hiding, watching the smooth movements of his body.

Scorpina's eyes narrowed as she watched. "As much as I wish to free Tanya," she muttered. "I want you even more, Adam Park. It won't be an easy thing to do, to get you for myself and release her from the bondage of evil."

She shivered for a moment, her eyes going dark with remembered pain. She was just able to keep herself hidden and silent, one move out of place would reveal to Adam that she was there, and that wasn't what she wanted. She focused her eyes on him again, using the remembered lust and desire to bring herself back to reality.

I have a three-fold goal now, she thought. First and foremost, to release Tanya from evil. I will NOT have someone else going through what I did. Besides, that much power in Ooze's hands is far too dangerous for me. He could decide he doesn't need me anymore now that he has her. Second, to seduce Adam and get him to fall in love with me. I'd settle for falling in lust, however. Either would work, but I think I'd prefer lust. MUCH more fun.

She moved around a little to the side, chuckling mentally at the thought of being so close to a Ranger and the Ranger not knowing anything of it. This wouldn't have been possible when Zordon or Dimitria were around. But they're NOT! She smiled wickedly, then recalled her third goal.

The destruction of Ivan Ooze, Gasket, and Archerina. Ooze made a very NASTY mistake when he wanted me to be his 'servant'. Scorpina serves NO ONE! But I will keep up the fiction for now. It'll be so much simpler for me to destroy them all when they have no idea of what I'm doing. She grinned. Archerina actually thinks I want to join THEIR empire!! She had been doing everything she could in order to foster that idea in the young Machine Princess's head, ever since they had all joined forces.

She could see Adam starting to move, and quickly slipped behind a tree to remain out of sight. It would've been easier to simply go invisible, but Scorpina seldom did things the easy way! She peeked carefully around the side of the tree, and was treated to the sight of the Black Ranger bending over to pick up his towel and start getting ready to leave. Scorpina caught her breath, images flashing through her mind of a thousand different things that she could and would do to him once she had seduced him.

And I WILL have him, she determined. Gasket and Archerina have each other, Ivan has that Orange bimbo I'm going to free. . just because I'm going to undo what he did to her doesn't mean I LIKE her. . .and I'm going to take her FORMER man while I'm at it.

Plans began to tumble about in her mind for just how she could do it as swiftly as possible. She couldn't revive her Earth identity of Sabrina, six of the Rangers knew that it was really her in the disguise, and one of them was the very one she was trying to get her claws into. She'd have to come up with something else, perhaps a new human form would be the key. . .

She leaned against the tree she was hiding behind for a brief rest, and almost jumped a foot when Adam appeared practically in front of her, morphed to his Ninjetti uniform, and eyes blazing.

"What are you doing here, Scorpina!?"

* * *
"Concentrate," Ivan Ooze instructed. "Keep your thoughts focused on what you want to have happen."

He had never imagined he'd enjoy teaching, but opening up the world of evil magic to his new pupil was providing some very vicious pleasure. Already she had progressed from the simple spells he'd begun her on just after he'd brought her evil out to middle-level ones, levitation and the like. At the rate she was going she would be up to his level in almost no time!

Tanya furrowed her brow, focusing her mind on the task at hand, levitating an apple on the table in front of her. She smiled as it began to rise in response to her mental commands, feeling a rush of pleasure through her entire body at the success. As she did so, her concentration collapsed, as did the apple.

"I'm sorry!" she flinched from Ooze, but not fast enough as he administered his usual reprimand, a sharp slap against her cheek.

"Don't let anything distract you!" he ordered. "If you're in the middle of combat, you can't lose your concentration!"

She nodded, closing her eyes and trying again. One reason she'd learned so fast was if she didn't, her punishments tended to be sharp and harsh. The slap was just the beginning, if she failed again, it would get worse. She sported a just barely fading bruise on one arm that had come when she'd been too slow learning one lesson just the other day.

But as harsh and rough as he was during the day, at night he was a tender, affectionate, and loving. She had never been with a male before coming to him, but Ivan Ooze had more than made up for her lack of experience with his own thousands of years of sexual history. Her days might be filled with learning, but her nights knew only pleasure.

I can't think of that, she reminded herself harshly, thrusting her slightly lascivious thoughts aside and concentrating on the apple in front of her. She didn't look at it; she'd already mastered moving something by seeing it. Now he had set her to learning how to do it by sheer force of will alone, by knowing it was there and causing it to move as she commanded.

Gasket and Archerina watched from the doorway as Tanya's lessons continued. The Machine Prince's eyes glowed fiercely as she slowly began to lift the apple in the air. "She's learning how to use her powers very swiftly. Too swiftly!"

Archerina gestured with her head for them to leave the area; she didn't want Ooze or Tanya hearing what she had to tell her husband. As soon as they were far enough away, she whispered, "I am still working on my arrow of control, my love. I could make it so that it will only work on this one, if I had a few samples of her blood to analyze."

"How do you propose to get some of that?" Gasket wondered. "I don't think she'll just give it to you!"

"I know," Archerina grumbled. "I want to take her from Ooze! She's just too useful to him!"

Gasket shook his head a little. "We don't know that for sure just yet, but she is learning and could become useful in time. I don't want to give them that time!"

Archerina glanced down the hallway to where they'd left the two of them, and shivered to see they'd abandoned the lessons in favor of cuddling with each other on a couch that had materialized out of nowhere. Her machine hearing picked up something softly murmured on the subject of 'sexual magick' and she felt a shiver of revulsion. If Ooze and Tanya started using even that to generate power, where would it end??

And where is Scorpina? She's hardly been around since Ooze brought the girl here. Archerina shook her head, dismissing the thought and returning to what really mattered, the construction and perfection of her arrow of control. Once that was finished, the two of them would be able to get complete power over the entire world.

That was just what she wanted.

* * *
It was a peaceful morning in Angel Grove, quiet and still and silent. That was just the way the Power Rangers liked it. It meant their enemies weren't doing anything to threaten the world.

Of course, with Tanya on their side now, that was a threat that the Rangers wished had never happened. Tommy especially kept wishing that it hadn't happened, this was far, far too much like what had happened when Rita had made him her evil Green Ranger.

He didn't think about that now, though, as he headed to the girls' apartment. Since the restoration of their powers and their resumption of their duties, Kim, Kat, Trini, and Aisha had pooled their money and rented a place in downtown Angel Grove. Tanya had been planning on joining them in a few weeks, once she'd gotten her paycheck from the radio station and could afford to do so.

Somehow, I don't think that's going to be happening now. At least not for a while yet. And we're going to have to come up with SOMETHING to tell her parents. Just WHAT, I don't know. They've been freaking out for the past week, and I have NO idea on what to tell them. We certainly can't tell them the truth: excuse me, Mr. and Mrs. Sloane, but your daughter Tanya was the Orange Ninjetti Ranger, and now she's Tanya Ooze, effectively under the control of Ivan Ooze, one of the most evil things in creation, they're more or less married, and she's now attacking the Earth instead of defending it with the rest of the Power Rangers.

I just don't see that happening.

Just as he was thinking that, he walked up to the apartment door and tapped on it. He adjusted his collar quickly, he'd called to make sure everyone was awake and expecting company before heading over, especially Katherine. His heart pounded a little faster as he touched the small object in his pocket for a moment, then smiled as the door opened and Trini stood there.

"Hi, Trini!" he waved at the Yellow Ranger. "Is Kat. ...?" his voice trailed off as the elegant Pink Ranger waved to him from the middle of the living room.

Trini chuckled. "She's right there. I'll leave you two lovebirds alone; I'm supposed to meet Billy for breakfast."

She shook her head for a moment as the two of them simply drew closer together for a deep kiss, then grabbed her bag and left. She wouldn't have been surprised to find out that they couldn't tell her if she'd even been there or not once they'd seen each other.

"Want to go for a walk?" Tommy asked, gazing into the depths of Kat's eyes. "There's something I want to ask you."

Kat's eyes sparkled suddenly as she pulled the door shut behind her, closing off the almost-snickering Aisha and Kim. "Sure!"

They were in the park before either spoke again. Tommy's right hand was kept in his pocket during the whole walk, and Kat was getting very curious as to what it was.

"Kat," he began suddenly. "We've known each other a long time, right?"

"Yeah," she nodded. "Just about ever since I moved to Angel Grove." She smiled, remembering the day they had met. She honestly had to thank Rita for that; if it hadn't been for her spell, she probably would never have worked up the nerve to introduce herself to the handsome young man.

He nodded. "Yeah. And we've been for about two years now. Kat, I love you, I'll always love you. And. . .there's. . .well. ..something I've been wanting to ask you for most of that time."

"What's that?" Kat almost stuttered in her eagerness to hear what was on his mind. "If it's will I go out with you, you already know that, Tommy!"

He shook his head. "No, it's something more," he took a long, deep breath, and pulled the box out of his pocket, dropping to one knee in front of her. "Katherine Hillard, I had imagined all sorts of flowery words for this, but what it really boils down to is this: I love you more than life itself. Will you marry me?"

* * *
Across Angel Grove at the Youth Center, Trini walked in to see Billy sitting in the corner booth the two of them had started using regularly with their meetings. He had his head down, but even so, she could tell he hadn't slept much the night before. She quietly motioned for Jerome Stone to bring them their usual breakfast, then walked a little closer to Billy, waiting until he subconsciously had noticed her and lifted his head before actually speaking to him. She'd found out the hard way that Billy reacted badly to unexpected frights at times, especially if he were alone.

"Good morning," she smiled, glad to see the tension drain noticeably from his eyes as he recognized her. She leaned over to place a light, loving kiss on his lips, and was even gladder when he returned it. They hadn't maintained a sexual relationship after that first time in the Command Chamber, but they were very much in love. Billy was slowly recovering emotionally from the abuse he'd been dealt by Goldar on Aquitar over roughly eighteen months or so, and Trini's constant love and attention was doing a magnificent job of helping him through it all.

"Morning," he smiled back at her. "How's everyone at your place?"

She ticked off people on her fingertips. "Kat and Tommy are walking somewhere. Kim is preparing for her kung-fu lesson with Master Lee tomorrow," she smiled, remembering her old teacher. He'd rejoiced to find out she was in Angel Grove again, and had eagerly taken on Kim as a student when the young Pink Ninjetti had expressed a desire to learn the art. Kim and Trini had regained their old closeness since the quest to Phaedos, and the gymnast was enjoying herself a great deal with Master Lee. Trini had never really thought of her friend as a fighter, but it was rather plain Kim wasn't going to stay the same person she had been. If that meant learning how to do something she'd never done before, then so be it. "And Aisha is probably heading over to Zack's, he's teaching her hip-hop kedo last I heard."

Billy nodded, moving over so she could sit next to him. It wasn't the easiest thing in the world for him to have most people near him, and he'd hid it so well that she'd almost had to tear his secret out of him even after she'd realized a secret existed! She was the only person he really let come close, in every way possible.

"Here you go, guys," Stone quickly put the plates down in front of them. "Put it on your tab, Trini?" he was very glad to see these two together; though he hadn't known Trini anywhere nearly as long as he'd known Billy, he could tell something special existed between the two of them.

"Yeah, sure," she nodded, taking a quick pull from her soda before continuing. "Thanks, Mr. Stone."

He shook his head. "Call me Jerome!" he insisted, grinning as he headed back behind the counter. They knew he'd let them know if anyone came close enough to overhear them discussing whatever they talked about; so they'd know not to discuss Ranger-related items. It was handy having someone know who they were!

"So, what were the dreams about this time?" she murmured, taking a long look at him as she did so. Billy knew better than to even try to fake her on this one, she knew him well enough to know if he was lying.

He shrugged, though. "Same as they were last time. I was trying to escape, and Goldar grabbed me," she plainly saw the fear in his eyes at the memory, and laid a hand on his shoulder. He touched it gently with his own, and managed to dredge up another smile.

"I love you, Billy," she reminded him, dashing a kiss on his lips. "You should've called me when you woke up; I wouldn't have minded."

"Yeah, but what about the others?" he pointed out. "I don't want them to know!"

She sighed, nodding. "I know," they ate in companionable silence for a time, then she suddenly jumped up. "Come on!" she declared. "Let's go for a walk!"

The look in her eyes brooked no denial, and the slight smile to her lips promised him so much more than a walk. Billy didn't even think about resisting, and this one time, he didn't mind at all.

* * *
"Answer me!" Adam did not look happy as he glared into Scorpina's eyes. "What are you doing here watching me!?"

"That is what I was doing," Scorpina replied, breaking his gaze and looking away. "Spying on a Power Ranger. Now go mourn your little lost girlfriend some more. . .and bend over while you do it, I like to see that rump of yours."

The Black Ranger fought back a blush, then spat at her, "Keep your eyes off me and your mouth off Tanya. If you had told me what he was planning sooner, I could've saved her from Ooze!"

The evil warrior snorted. "Like blazes you could have. He had that planned from the beginning, you had about as much chance of stopping him as you do of getting her back without my help."

"What are you talking about?" Adam didn't believe what he'd just heard. "Why would you want to get Tanya back? Having her on your side's a great victory for evil."

Scorpina's eyes flashed golden. "I know. That doesn't mean I personally like it, though."

"Explain yourself," Adam's voice was harsher than he'd intended; a lot of things he'd been doing lately were harsher. It was almost as if what was good and peaceful within him had vanished with Tanya leaving. "And make it fast, before I call the others."

"Eleven against one?" Scorpina raised an eyebrow. "I thought you Rangers fight fair! Or has Tanya's evil infected you all already?"

The young Ninjetti Warrior turned away, fighting back the tears at that. "That was a very low shot, Scorpina," he murmured. "And to think there was a point in my life where I thought I liked you."

She couldn't believe her ears! "You liked me?"

"I thought I did," he replied quietly. "For about ten minutes. Back when you were disguised as Sabrina, remember?"

She was silent for a few minutes, digesting that. Then she shook her head. "I remember. It doesn't matter, though. That was business, just like this is. Let me put it like this, Ranger: I don't want Tanya evil because I went through something like what she is now, and I was never saved, I never can be. I want to set the scales straight if I can. I can't explain it anymore than that, not even to myself."

Adam turned back to look at her. "Dulcea told us about that," he remembered. "Selena."

"Don't call me that," she hissed, raising her sword threateningly. "Don't you ever call me that. Selena has been dead for longer than you can imagine. I am Scorpina."

"You were Selena," he repeated, staring her in the eyes without fear. "Selena, the Gold Ninjetti, with the Spirit of the Lion. Do you remember?"

She shivered for a moment and almost closed her eyes. Then the evil within her rallied and she seized Adam by the throat. "I am Scorpina," her voice was even harsher than his. "I will always be Scorpina, I can be no one else and do not want to be. Is that understood?"

Adam struggled and choked in her grip, wishing now that he'd taken Jason and Rocky up on their offer to work out with them that day instead of going alone. I think I've been alone long enough! he thought as he tried to get her hands off his throat. Besides, we're not getting anything done about getting Tanya back like this, and if Scorpina can help, or WILL help, then that's something we can use!

"I understand," he managed to choke out, not wanting to throw away what could be their best and only chance to get his girlfriend back. "I understand, Scorpina!"

"Good," she threw him casually to the ground. "I will tell you who I was, though. That might help us both figure out how to free your friend. But I tell you now, Ranger, that this is only a temporary accommodation. I am just as committed to destroying you as Ooze, Gasket, and Archerina are. I just don't want Tanya's help in doing it. Now sit down."

Rubbing his throat, Adam did, and Scorpina casually sat near him, a little too near him for his taste, really, and began the tale of her past.

* * *
Selena had been one of five Rangers chosen to defend the planet of Velos when Dark Spectre had attacked it twelve thousand years earlier, along with her friends Brianne, Rolan, Keith, and Jillian. Selected by Kyron, an ancient wizard of enormous power, they had journeyed to Phaedos to gain the Great Power there.

Guided by Dulcea, they had each discovered their inner spirits. Jillian became the Silver Ranger, the team's leader, with the Spirit of the Leopard. Keith became the Bronze Ranger, guided by the swift-flying Condor. Rolan, the Ebony Ranger, was the Puma's charge. Brianne's Spirit Animal of the Cougar made her the Amber Ranger, while Selena and the Lion combined to make the Gold Ranger.

For some time they battled Dark Spectre's forces bravely, but it seemed he had already laid his plans for their defeat well. It began with the overrunning of their entire planet by monsters. The Rangers couldn't be everywhere at once, and one by one had fallen. Rolan and Selena were the last two to survive, and Rolan was badly wounded in their last battle.

"Do not forget me," he whispered in her ear. The two of them had been lovers for only a short time, but their bond was strong and they had come to this battle knowing they would not survive it. But it had to be fought. "Please, my darling, do not forget me."

"I never could," she replied, holding his hand. "You are my one true love. Please, don't leave me!"

Hot tears splashed onto his face, falling from her eyes. "I foresee peril in your future, my Selena," he whispered. "Grave peril. Remember how much I love you. I will always be there for you. ..when. ..," his voice was failing as his strength left him. "need. .."

And then he was gone. She had tried to avenge his death, had tried to keep herself free, but it was no use. She had been captured so very easily, she was ashamed to admit it. And Dark Spectre had long since planned out what he would do with her. She had untapped magic within her, kept stifled by her Ninjetti powers. He had unleashed that magic, destroying her powers and setting free the evil that had slept within her soul all her life. Selena the Golden Lion Ninjetti had perished. All that lived in her place was Scorpina.

* * *
"Whoa," Adam had never imagined her past to be like that. Scorpina had quite literally seen her love die in her arms, and he could tell the scars remained on her heart still. "I. ..I'm sorry."

She shook her head. "It's long done with," she said simply. "Dark Spectre transformed me, and I am as I am. This is what happened to Tanya, though she hasn't undergone a physical transformation."

"Can it be reversed?" Adam asked sharply.

"That I don't know," she replied. "But I'm going to check in with Ooze now, and see if I can find out. If I do, then I'll get back to you."

His eyes hardened. "And if you don't?"

The only answer he got was the empty space where she had been.

* * *
Dulcea stared into the fire on Phaedos, deep in thought. Ever since Tanya's evil had been unleashed, and she had become one of the forces attacking Earth, the Guardian of the Great Power had been searching her mind and heart for what to do next.

There is only one answer, she knew as the fire crackled and snapped in front of her. The only answer for now. Unless and until something can purify Tanya's soul, burn the evil from her, and restore her to what she longs for in her deepest heart, the Rangers are one short. That must be remedied.

"But so few can hold the power of Ninjetti," she murmured to herself, rising and beginning to pace through the ruins of the temple. "Those twelve were remarkable, as all before them. . .and I know not if there is anyone who could hold that power."

She took a deep breath and turned back to the fire. From the pouch at her waist she drew forth the dust and threw it in, her eyes tracing the path of it as it fell. The fire exploded, rising high above her, and she cried out with all her heart, "Show me! If there is one who has the strength of mind and heart to do this, who can bear the burden of being a Power Ranger, then show them to me now! One who can be strong, who can be brave! One who has the soul and the heart of a Power Ranger!"

The fire blew up even higher, and then Dulcea found herself wrapped in shadows thicker and deeper than anything she had ever seen before. For one moment, everything remained like that. Then, starting with one tiny star, light began to fill the darkness around her. Star after star came into existence, filling and firing the universe with their energies. It was that energy which created and nurtured the Great Power, which was the Great Power, which was within all living things.

Dulcea, the voice was quiet and powerful. She had never heard it before, but at the same time she could've taken an oath she had heard it every day of her life. You are in pain, my dear.

One of the Ninjetti has been taken by evil, she replied softly. The voice that spoke held no gender, but it made even the hardened warrior want to lean against the speaker and be held. I seek to learn if there is another on Earth who has the strength of mind and will and heart to become a new Ninjetti.

There are some, whoever was speaking replied. But there is only one who carries all that you seek. She knows it not, however. You must work with her, to bring out that which lies within her soul.

Who is she?

A gleaming ball of light appeared before Dulcea, and shaped itself into the image of a young woman. This is Emmie, the voice told her. This is the future of the Rangers. The light flared suddenly, then Dulcea found herself in front of the fire on Phaedos. The image of Emmie blazed firmly in her mind, and she took a deep breath.

"Emmie," she whispered. "Emmie."

* * *
"Ivan!" Tanya's voice was shrill as she called for her teacher and husband. "Where are you!?" after her lesson the master of Ooze had went elsewhere in the palace, seeing to various things and leaving her to her own devices. There were only so many times you could watch the Cogs and Oozemen train, however, and not much else to do around the palace, since she didn't particularly want to hang around with Gasket and Archerina. Her half-trained senses kept warning her that something very odd was going on with them.

"Why, hello there," she turned to see Scorpina there. "And just what are you doing wandering around the palace without your keeper?" the evil warrior purred.

"What are you talking about?" Tanya grumbled. "Have you seen my husband?"

Scorpina's eyes narrowed. "Oh, you mean your master? Lord Ivan Ooze, lord of evil and ooze?"

"Yes, him!" Tanya growled. "Have you seen him!?"

"No, not recently, and I'm glad of it," the ancient warrior replied. "I've got better things to do with my time than just stare at him all day, unlike some of us!"

The corrupted Ninjetti hissed, "Do not dare speak of your lord and master like that! He will destroy you!"

Scorpina waved a hand carelessly. "Of course, whatever! Run along about your business, Orange Ranger!"

"I am no longer a Ranger," Tanya's eyes blazed a bright orange. "I am Tanya Ooze, Queen of Ooze! And that who and what I will always be from now on!"

Scorpina merely smiled, and walked away, heading by a roundabout route for Ooze's private quarters. If he wasn't in there, then that was the perfect time to break in and do some research. As his first warrior, it was child's play for her to enter and start browsing through his books.

"Somewhere in here there must be the spell that was used," she muttered, paging through spellbook after spellbook. "And I will find it, and I will reverse it."

She trembled for a moment, pausing in her search, and took a long breath. She had never felt so weak as she did in that moment. It was as if all the strength she had was drained out of her by something. Scorpina closed her eyes for a moment, drawing long and deep breaths in a vain attempt to regain her energy. "What is wrong with me?" she whispered. "What's happening?"

She laid a hand on the next book, and almost shivered to see it was bound in solid black leather. Black. ..ebony. darling Rolan. You've been gone so long. So very long. . .

Selena. ..she shivered again, and lifted her head at the sound. "I am no longer her," she whispered. "I am Scorpina. Scorpina."

Repeating her name seemed to restore her strength, and she began to search through the book she'd picked up. As she read, she began to grow very pale, and even weaker. "This is it," she whispered. "This is what he used."

There it lay before her, in plain language. She mouthed the words quietly, and the counterspell beneath it. She didn't have the amount of power it would take to properly work the spell, so it had no effect, but she knew she was going to have to take this to Adam. The Rangers had to know about this; had to do what they could to break it on Tanya. . .and . . .

She stopped, shaking almost badly enough for her teeth to chatter. "I. . .am. . .Scorpina," she whispered. "I am evil. I do this because I do not want her as one of us. I am jealous of her power. I want her gone for the pain it will cause Ooze to lose his precious converted Ranger. I want . . .I want. . ." she stopped. The lies tasted harsh on her tongue, as they never had before. "I want to be free," she whispered softly, her eyes filling up with tears. "Oh, gods, I want to be free so badly!"

You cannot be free! She heard the voice clearly within her. You are EVIL, now and forever! She wasn't sure if that was a memory or something she was going through now. She shivered, her hands clutching on the page and tearing it from the book. "I am what I am," she said, and rose. "I am myself."

And I will be free.

* * *
Billy and Trini walked through the park, together, but not touching. They didn't need to touch; they had most recently just completed the most delicate and sweet act of touch possible to the human body. Both seemed to glow a little as they wandered around together.

"Hey!" Billy pointed up ahead of them to the ice rink just recently opened. "Look there!"

Trini glanced up and his eyes widened. "That's incredible," she breathed. "I've never seen anything like that before!"

There on the ice was a young woman, long brown hair flying around her head, skating as effortlessly as if she had been born doing it. Almost without thinking about it, she did a double axle, landing perfectly back on her feet. The small crowd that was gathering stared in awe, then started applauding. Billy and Trini couldn't help but join in as they drew closer.

"That was amazing!" Trini said as the young girl left the ice and started away from the rink, her skates slung over one shoulder. "Hi there!"

She stopped and looked at them a little strangely. "Hi," she said finally. "Nice to meet you. I'm Emmie."

"I'm Trini, and this is my boyfriend Billy," the Yellow Ranger smiled. "You're one awesome skater!"

"Thanks," she nodded. "I've been practicing for a long time."

Billy gestured to the hot dog vendor not far away, plying his usual trade in the park. "Can we buy you lunch?" he offered; the noon hour wasn't that far off.

"Sure," Emmie nodded and the three of them started over. Emmie was a little surprised that she'd accepted after only a few moments of knowing these people. She felt she could trust them, though. "So, do you guys live in Angel Grove?"

"Yeah, we both just came back here a little while ago," Billy told her. "Came back in for Christmas to meet with some friends and. ..well, with one thing and another happening, we wound up deciding to stay."

"I've lived here most of my life," she told them. "I really wouldn't know what it's like to live anywhere else."

"You could soon travel to places beyond your imagining, Emily Marie," a quiet voice said. Billy and Trini both looked up in shock to see Dulcea standing in front of them, gazing straight at Emmie. "If you accept the power, that is."

Emmie stared, completely and utterly dumbfounded, at what appeared to be a woman standing before her in a leathery green bikini and boots, a long mane of bronze-colored hair, and carrying a staff in one hand. "Who are you and what are you talking about?!"

"Dulcea?" Trini stepped up. "Dulcea, what's going on?"

The Guardian of Phaedos took a long look at both of them. "Someone must take Tanya's place on the team, and the power of Phaedos has chosen Emmie," she turned her attention back to the startled young woman. "Emmie, if you accept it. . .you are to be a Power Ranger."

Emmie fainted.

* * *
The Command Chamber was a combination of Power Chamber and Command Center technology, and ever since it had come into existence, all the Rangers had spent as much time as they could in it, trying to all become familiar with how it worked. At least one Ranger was there constantly, keeping an eye on the scanners and ready to alert the others if any attacks came.

Two were there today; Kim and Justin. The two of them were spending as much time together as they could, getting to know one another bettter. Kim had always liked working with kids, and Justin was one of the best she'd ever met. He was teaching her the various uses of some of the control panels in the Command Chamber, and she was helping him still deal with the emotional wounds still left by the destruction of the Power Chamber and the defection of Tanya.

"So this panel is the defense system?" Kim glanced at it without touching, she had no intentions of doing anything that would lower their guard even for a moment. That was a lesson they had all learned the hard way. She was determined to become more than just some simple gymnast; she wanted to develop the mind she'd more or less neglected, and train her body to defend herself and others. No one else will ever be hurt because of my weakness. A steely glint lit her eye momentarily.

"Yeah," Justin nodded, glancing from where he was exploring the uses of a new panel. "And it looks like this one here is the communications one. I'm going to have to talk with Billy on this one, though. He knows more about it than I do. Where did you say he was today, anyway?"

Kim smiled briefly. "With Trini." She'd always known that the original Yellow Ranger had harbored feelings for the Blue. It was about time those were acted on, and as far as she knew, that was what they were doing. Of course, with as shy as Billy is and as respectful of that shyness as Trini is, they could be sitting somewhere discussing the inner workings of the dung beetle systems and consider that a successful date!

"Oh," Justin shrugged a little; it sure seemed to him that those two were spending an awful lot of time together. Oh, well, who could figure these older people out sometimes? "I'll see if I can get him in here later, then."

A sudden beeping startled the both of them so much they almost jumped straight out of their shoes. "What is that?" Kim glanced around, trying to figure out where it was coming from. It certainly didn't sound like one of the alarms, so it couldn't be an attack, could it? "Justin?"

He was staring at the communications panel with a very befuddled look on his face. "I think it's coming from here," he said finally. "But it isn't on any frequency that I can recognize."

"Maybe Billy'll know," Kim suggested, reaching for her pink communicator. "Whatever he's up to with Trini is going to have to wait, I do believe."

Justin glanced at the few readings they were able to get on it, and nodded. "I think you should call everyone in," he said quietly. "This seems familiar, and I'd like to check it with all the others if we could," he shivered for a moment, remembering that there was one that he couldn't check it with. My friend, somehow we're going to get you back. Tommy and Adam won't let it be any other way, and neither will I.

"You got it," Kim tapped her communicator and waited til she heard the faint crackle that meant the channel was open. "Everyone, this is Kim. Justin and I are at the Command Chamber, and we've just received some sort of strange signal. Justin wants everyone to come check it out, see if any of you recognize it. He thinks it looks familiar, and," she glanced over the readings for herself. "And so do I. I just can't place it right now. Can you guys get here?"

Affirmations started to come in quickly, until on Billy, Trini, and Adam remained unspoken. Then Billy's voice came. "Trini and I will be there in a few minutes, we're sort of involved with something right now," his voice was a little strained and shocked as he spoke. "We'll fill you guys in when we get there."

"See you then," Kim nodded. "Adam, are you there?" as people began to arrive in the Command Chamber, there was still nothing from the Black Ranger. Kim frowned softly, then headed over to the Viewing Globe. She wanted to know just what was going on with her friend and why he wasn't answering his communicator.

* * *
Adam quietly paced back and forth in the park, wondering just how long he was going to wait for Scorpina. He really didn't expect her to be back very soon, but something told him to wait. He was used to listening to those inner voices, they had guided him well all his life, and he wasn't going to stop now.

"Waiting for me, Black Ranger?" he jumped around to see Scorpina leaning against a tree, a casual leer on her features that made his skin crawl. "I'm touched!"

"Whatever," he shrugged. "Did you have any luck finding something to help Tanya?"

She sauntered over to him, her armor suddenly transforming into normal Earth clothing, very tight normal Earth clothing. "We can discuss that later," she purred. "We have much more interesting things that we could be doing instead of trying to help her."

He jerked away even harder than he'd planned to; something about her revolted him even more than usual. "Scorpina, cut to the chase. Did you find anything?"

"Why should I tell you?" she chuckled. "What are you going to do to pay me for it?"

"I thought you were doing it so that she wouldn't go through what you have," he retorted. "Or don't you remember that anymore?"

In answer, she simply leaned back a little and held out her right hand as if she were holding something. A small puff of smoke, and a paper was there. She read it aloud as if reading to a child or a fool. "Spell to unleash the Inner Evil of a Person," she recited. "And counterspell for same."

Adam came straight to attention. "You found it!"

"That I did," she smiled. "Now, you pay me for it and I might just give it to you!"

"What are you talking about, payment?" he knew he should never have trusted a piece of pond scum like her, she might be willing to help, but it would never be free, and it would most likely be something incredibly obscene that she wanted in return. Well, she's NOT going to get it! he assured himself fiercely. If there's a way to release Tanya, then we'll find it WITH OR WITHOUT Scorpina's help!

She came even closer to him, rubbing against him almost like a cat or a lover would. "The payment I want is you, cutie," she whispered, running her fingers through his hair as she made the paper vanish. "One little encounter, that's all I ask. Just one little time with me, and I'll give you this. Anything after that is. . .optional," her smile made Adam want to hurl just then. "And I personally would opt for more of me, but then again, that's just my opinion," she chuckled.

Adam had only one reaction to her overly blatant sexuality. It was the only thing he felt he reasonably could do, especially since his communicator had just started beeping furiously. "Forget it, Scorpina," he snapped. "Keep your little secret, I'm not going to betray Tanya like that, not even to save her."

"Maybe you don't really want to save her then," Scorpina pressed extremely close to him. "Maybe you really want to have her be evil. be with Ooze. . .to be with Ooze," the inflection in her voice left no doubts as to what she meant by that. Adam quaked, then ripped himself away from her. Moving as fast as he could, driven by fear and hate and pure unadulterated rage, he ran, leaping over bushes and twisting around trees until he was as far from Scorpina as he could get.

When he finally stopped to look around himself, he was far from the clearing he'd been in. He'd left the park, actually, and was now deep in the woods surrounding Angel Grove. He sighed. Maybe here he would get some peace. He sat down quietly and sighed again.

Maybe here he could finally forget a little.

* * *
"You have got to be kidding!" Emmie stared at Dulcea, Billy, and Trini. "Me, a Power Ranger? I'm sorry, but I think you've got the wrong person! There's no way I could be a Ranger, I'm just a skater! I don't know anything about fighting or trying to save the world or any of it!"

Billy and Trini weren't really certain themselves what was going on, but they trusted Dulcea. Once Emmie had fainted, they'd quickly managed to pick her up and take her to an isolated area of the park, out of the normal way of traffic. Dulcea told them they would be ignored by all non-Rangers; she had erected a shield that would keep them safe. Billy was wondering just how she was surviving away from Phaedos when she had told them she couldn't leave it without aging rapidly. He hadn't said anything to her though; there were other things that were more important at the moment.

"If Dulcea says you can do it, then you can," Trini was trying to reassure the confused Emmie. "I know how you felt, I was the same way when I was chosen back in the beginning."

"The beginning?" Emmie frowned. "Not to be stupid or anything, but could you tell me everything that's going on here? I'd really like to know."

Billy nodded. "To put it simply, about four or five years ago roughly, Rita Repulsa escaped from her cosmic dumpster and started attacking Earth. Trini and myself, and our friends Zack, Jason, and Kim were chosen to be the first Power Rangers and stop her. We defended against Rita and Zedd, Rita's father Master Vile, all their henchmen, the Machine Empire, Divatox, all of them. The team members changed, so did the powers, but the important thing is that now Ivan Ooze is attacking Earth, and about a week ago he captured Tanya Sloane, the Orange Ranger, and turned her evil. She's working with him now, and apparently Dulcea here, who gave us our new Ninjetti powers, would like you to take her place on the team."

"It was not completely I who chose her," Dulcea explained. "I knew that you would need another member of the team, and I asked the ancient wisdom of the Great Power who should become the newest of the Rangers. Emmie was the one chosen."

The young skater blinked a few times, then Dulcea turned to her. "It is entirely up to you," she said softly. "This is never forced on anyone. But the world is at stake here, and someone must be chosen. You are offered this. What do you say?"

Emmie was confused, to say the least. One minute, she was just a skater, skating around the ice rink at Angel Grove. The next, she was being talked to by a woman in a green bikini who looked strong and fit enough to outwrestle just about anyone on the planet, and two young people who were Power Rangers. And why am I not even questioning any of this? she wondered. It feels right. . .but. ..

"I say," she slowly made her way to her feet from where she had been sitting on the ground. "I say that I need to think about it, if I can. It's a big step. A very big one. And I don't think it's a decision that should be made lightly."

"A wise choice," Dulcea approved. "But be warned. Ivan Ooze and his cohorts in evil, Scorpina, Tanya, Gasket and Archerina, are very dangerous. If they know we have approached you for this, then you shall be in grave peril."

Billy cleared his throat. "We can keep an eye on her at the Command Chamber. That way if they do try anything, we'll know about it, and can come to help her. We've got to go there anyway, and see whatever it is that communication is about."

At Dulcea's nod, the two already active Rangers teleported away. The Master Warrior of Phaedos looked back at Emmie. "Take the time you need. When you make your decision, call my name. I will come, and whatever you have decided, I will help you with."

Emmie nodded and started walking away. Dulcea watched her go, her fingers playing half-nervously with her staff. Please make the right choice. I know how this must feel to you, but please, make the right choice.

* * *
"So, how is the Arrow of Control coming along, my dear?" Gasket asked, coming into Archerina's workshop. It was here that she created all the different arrows she used in her evil workings. "Is it completed yet?"

She shook her head, examining a long, cruelly twisted shaft in front of her. "Not just yet," the princess reported. "I need one more thing before it's totally done, something that will ensure that it will bind that little sorceress to us, and only us."

"And just what do you have in mind?" Gasket wrapped his arms around her, gazing first at his wife, then at the arrow before them both. "What's going on in that evil little mind of yours?"

"Well, my original plan was to have the arrow control whoever it struck," Archerina explained. "But then I realized that if it struck one of us that could cause problems. So I modified it some, as you might also recall. I managed to get some of her blood," she chuckled.

"You did?" Gasket stared. "How did you do that?"

His wife couldn't smile; she wasn't built for it. But she somehow gave off that impression as she looked at him. "That is my little secret," she laughed. "You don't need to concern yourself over it. But now I just have to mix it with this here," she touched a glittering vial of silvery liquid, "and once I hit her with it, then we'll have our own perfect little sorceress slave, that will serve only us, and will never leave us!"

Gasket threw his head back and laughed harshly. "How excellent! Now, do you have any ideas for how to get rid of Ooze and Scorpina? We have to do it, there's simply no other way."

"I'm not so sure about how to banish Ooze," Archerina said thoughtfully. "But it could be far simpler than we think to deal with Scorpina."

"Oh?" Gasket was pleased; Archerina kept coming up with all sorts of surprises these days! "What do you know, my dear?"

The machine he loved turned fully to him, and there was a glint in her yellow eyes that made his circuits quiver. "I know that Scorpina has been plotting against Ooze for a week now, wanting to totally free the sorceress from the forces of evil, to put her back as a little weak Ninjetti Ranger."

"Ohhhh!!" Gasket was in shock, as much as a machine could be shocked at any rate. "I wonder just how Ooze would like to know that his first warrior is trying to betray him like that. Has Scorpina gone soft, you think?"

"I don't think so," Archerina said after a moment's consideration. "I'd have to watch her a bit longer to be quite certain, though."

The prince chuckled suddenly. "What does it matter if she has or hasn't? With a little bit of planning, we could make Ooze think she has, and that would be all the provocation he needed to turn her into a toad! Or whatever it is he'd do with her."

"Excellent!" Archerina gazed at the arrow she had made again. "Now the weighty decision of who to deal with first: Tanya, Scorpina, or Ooze."

Gasket laughed. "Such a hard choice to make! But I say. . .," he laughed again. "I say that we deal with each other first," he nuzzled her neck briefly. "And save our enemies for later."

As it turned out, Archerina agreed with him.

* * *
"There you are!" Ivan Ooze turned to see his wife coming up behind him. "I've been looking all over for you!" she was almost whining! For a second, he remembered Rita Repulsa, how she whined, screeched, and wailed, and actually winced. "What are you doing?"

"Spying on the Rangers," he told her, motioning for her to join him. "And some fairly interesting things seem to be going on!"

Tanya practically danced over to him. "They are?" her voice was eager now, having lost the whiny tone that threatened to annoy him beyond belief. "What are they doing?"

He waved a hand and displayed two different screens before them. The one showed a young woman his bride didn't recognize walking through the woods, while the other displayed a section of space that appeared to be part of the Milky Way Galaxy. "That woman there is Emmie," he reported. "Dulcea came down and said something to her about being a new Power Ranger."

Tanya's eyes sparked orange. "A new Ranger?" she hissed. "Trying to replace me already, are they?"

"Oh, don't worry about that," Ivan waved a hand airily. "She's thinking it over, and I'm going to send some Cogs and Oozemen to make certain she makes the right choice: to stay out of our affairs."

Tanya smiled, tracing a hand down his neck. "Don't say affairs like that," she purred. "You're going to get me excited, and I think we have other things to do now."

"Quite true," he smiled a smile that just over a week ago would have sent her screaming for the hills, and which now looked to be the most attractive thing in the world to her. "Now, this other event here is most interesting as well."

"What is it?"

He gestured over to the communications center. "We picked up a transmission heading for the Command Chamber, but not on any frequency that they've ever used before. I've been looking for Scorpina, to see if she can figure out how to decode it, but she hasn't been around lately. Do you know where she is?"

Tanya thought for a moment. "I haven't seen her in a couple of hours; I ran into her just outside the practice room then. She was being very rude about you as well, my love."

Ooze snorted. "Like I care. Now that I have you, I have little or no need for her, and I think she realizes it. She's probably scurrying around in some little attempt to keep herself in my good graces."

Tanya laughed, a particularly evil sound these days. "Do you have any good graces?"

"Not the last time I checked! But at least it keeps her occupied and out of the way. I'm actually more worried about this potential Ninjetti."

"What do you mean?" his pupil raised an eyebrow. "You said yourself you're going to have her discouraged from joining the Rangers."

"I know what I said," Ooze snapped, and Tanya shrank away from him. "But something just occurred to me. That is exactly what Rita did in the beginning, she sent Putties to attack the first Rangers when they were wavering on taking up their powers, and that tipped the balance, they knew they couldn't just sit back and expect to be left alone! They were forced into fighting! I could be doing the exact same thing!"

Tanya shrugged. "Does it matter? Eleven or twelve Rangers, aren't they still going to fall to your greatness, my oozy love?"

Even Ooze couldn't stand up to that sort of ego-stroking. "Quite true, quite true," he said at last. "If the attack sends her fleeing in fear, then so be it. If it sends her screaming to Phaedos to get the Great Power, then so be it as well. We have more important things to see to."

As his lips met hers, he smiled. Far more important things.

* * *
"Adam? Adam, where are you?" the voice was fair, sweet, and familiar. He'd heard it a thousand times, yet had never thought to hear it again. "I've been looking for you! Where are you!?"

"Tanya?" he sat up, he was still in the woods, but they seemed deeper, darker, and at the same time more welcoming and homey. "Tanya, is that you? You're free?"

It was her! Tanya! She ran over to him, and he caught her in a warm hug. "Oh, Adam," she whispered into his hear. "Adam, I've missed you!! Ooze could never keep me from you, it was my love for you that freed me! I'm home now, home with you, now and forever!"

He stared hungrily into her eyes, and was met by an equally hungry look. He had never imagined to see her again like this, not in his deepest heart. He had given up hope, but she had not. She had come back to him. They would be together again, together forever!

"Oh, Tanya," he leaned against her, holding her so close. Nothing could separate them again, he knew. Nothing could, nothing would. They belonged to each other, and always would. "Tanya, I love you. I know I didn't. . .don't. . .say it often enough, but it's true. I will love you forever. Until the end of time."

She laid a gentle finger on his lips and shook her head. "No more words, Adam," she pulled him gently to the ground, and began to slide her hands under his shirt. "I was Ooze's wife for a week, my love, and I hated it in my heart every time he touched me. Please, would you do something for me?"

"Anything," he was hardly able to breathe with her fingers and hands on him as they were. "Anything."

She pulled his shirt off and threw it to one side. "Make me your wife. In all ways. I don't ever want to leave you again. I want the two of us to be together."

The only answer he gave, the only answer she seemed to want, was one of flesh and blood, of kissing lips and touching bodies, of sweet, romantic, passionate love. Adam's heart nearly exploded with purest raw joy as he and his Tanya, Tanya and her Adam, made love for the very first time. The nightmare was over. At last.

Adam's eyes flew open, and it was all he could do not to burst into tears as he awoke. "It was a dream," he whispered, balling up suddenly. "Just a blasted dream!"

"Oh, I'll say!" a silken voice spoke from next to him. In a moment of blinding realization, it came to him that he was naked, that he had not been like that when he'd drifted off in the woods, and that the person next to him wasn't Tanya, it was Scorpina, and she was just as naked as he was. "Even with your mind asleep, you're one great lover," she laughed. "We should try it with all your brains intact sometime!"

Adam couldn't think. He couldn't speak. But he could act. He grabbed his clothes and put them on at warp-speed, not caring if they were all twisted around, then seized his communicator and teleported away, feeling ashamed, filthy, and as if he had betrayed everything that made him a Power Ranger. Scorpina stretched out and chuckled, glancing at the paper that had laid next to Adam's hand that he hadn't even noticed on his abrupt awakening.

"I guess he really didn't want this then," she decided, crumpling it. "Oh, well! I'll just have to see to her release on my own then. I'll be more effective like that anyway, and once she's out of the way," she chuckled, "one way or the other, I'll see to the disposal of everyone else that's in my way. Ooze, Gasket, Archerina, and the Power Rangers."

She licked her lips thoughtfully. "But I think I'll save the Black Ranger. He was quite tasty. Quite tasty indeed."

* * *
"Adam?" Kim stared at her friend as he teleported in; she hadn't been able to get a fix on him in the Viewing Globe. He looked horrible, his clothes twisted around, leaves in his hair, eyes wild, and panting. "Adam, what happened?"

He shook his head harshly. "Nothing," he spat the word out. "Nothing I want to talk about anyway. Not right now. Is it an attack?"

Kim wanted to find out what was bothering him, but had learned not to press if Adam didn't want to talk about something. "No, we got some sort of communication that Justin, Billy, and Trini are trying to figure out," she told him. "So far, no luck."

Adam looked over at his friends. "No luck in finding some way to release Tanya?" there was a particularly strangled quality to his voice as he spoke.

"No," Tommy's voice held a tinge of wonder, and he was holding onto Kat's hand as if he never wished to let go. Adam vaguely noticed a ring he'd never seen before on the Tan Ranger's hand, and the two of them took out long moments to stare at each other. "Oh, and, um, Kat and I have an announcement to make."

"So do we," Trini said, glancing across to Billy as they both looked up from trying to decode the transmission. As she looked at her two old friends, she raised an eyebrow. "But I think you guys might want to go first."

Everyone took a break from whatever they were doing to stare at the White and Tan Rangers. Tommy cleared his throat and held up their joined hands. "We're engaged!"

Squeals erupted from all over the Command Chamber at that. Trini, Kim, and Aisha all rushed over to hug their friend and plans sprouted up instantly on how much shopping they needed doing immediately. The male Rangers slapped Tommy on the back, along with a few jokes on the 'ball and chain', until he cleared his throat. "What sort of announcement do you two have to make?" he asked, looking at Trini and Billy.

"Well," the two of them exchanged glances. "It's not quite as exciting as yours, but, we're going to have twelve Rangers again," Trini said. Dead silence fell, and she continued. "Dulcea showed up while we were at the park, I don't know how she was surviving away from Phaedos, but she picked out this really nice young girl we'd just met, Emmie, and basically told her that she's got the option to become a Ranger."

"Another Ranger?" Adam whispered. "What sort of Ranger?"

"She didn't say," Billy told them. "Emmie still hasn't decided if she's going to do it or not. She's thinking about it now."

"I trust Dulcea," Tommy stated quickly and firmly. "And we are going to need another Ranger with Tanya. . .unavailable," he shot a quick glance to Adam. "That one Ranger could make the difference either way, and having it be a stranger would offset the advantage that having Tanya on his side gives Ooze. She won't know anything about whoever this Emmie is, not like she knows us."

Before the discussion could continue, Justin stepped back from the controls he'd returned to. "Everyone," he said softly, and the softness of it got their attention far more than any shouting would have. "I don't know what that communication is all about, but there is a spaceship that is entering Earth's atmosphere right now, and all indications are that it plans to land just outside the Command Chamber." he looked at them all. "And that communication, which we still can't decipher, is coming from that ship. Whatever it is, it's here."

* * *
Emmie's mind was a total chaos of thoughts and images as she walked through the park, trying to make up her mind. She knew she had to work fast, if she didn't, then somehow the forces of evil would find out that she had been offered the position of a Ranger, and they would attack. She'd seen enough of those on television to know that she didn't want to be involved in one.

But that's just what I'm thinking about doing, she thought quietly. Not just involved in one, involved in all of them. In the BIG one. In the real fight against Ivan Ooze and everyone that he's bringing against this planet. Why me? I'm just a skater. Why would that woman want me?

She didn't have an answer to that, and nothing around her appeared to be giving her one. She was going to have to figure this one out on her own, she knew. That made her feel better, paradoxically. No one was going to give her the answers. She'd have to learn them by herself.

But she was going to have eleven others who had the same responsibility as she if she took this job, she knew. Nine of them she'd never even met. Two she hardly knew. The person who was supposed to grant her these powers she didn't even understand. And that was just the beginning.

At the same time, however, that was what was drawing her to doing it. She paused suddenly, her mind clearing as she realized the truth. She'd already decided to do it. She couldn't understand why. It made no rational sense. But she was going to do it. She was going to be a Power Ranger. She moistened her lips, preparing to call Dulcea and do whatever she had to do in order to gain her powers.

"Dul--what the heck!?" she stared as purple lightning exploded all around her, and six Cogs and six Oozemen appeared in front of her. "Umm. ..something tells me this isn't good. I take it you guys aren't exactly the 'welcome to the Power Rangers' committee?"

There was no answer as they started towards her, but that in itself was all the answer she needed. Emmie showed remarkable good sense for a wanna-be Ranger with no powers and no martial arts skills: she ran.

They were hot on her heels though, the Oozemen sliding through and around things, the Cogs just running straight over them as they easily began to catch up with her. Before she'd gone twenty feet she felt a metallic hand on her shoulder and reacted quickly, slamming her elbow into the Cog's chest and following it up with a slam of her ice skates to it's face. "Leave me alone!" she growled. "Or else!"

The creatures didn't seem too impressed with her threat, as more and more of them started to seize hold of her. "Let me go!" she struggled. "Just let me go!" Hey! What am I telling them to let me go for? I've got another option! "DULCEA!"

The answer came quick and harsh and fast, with the warrior leaping from the trees above and making unbelievably quick work of the Cogs and Oozemen, knocking them away from Emmie as fast as possible. In moments, it was over.

"Thanks," Emmie breathed hard, trying to maintain her composure after the attack. "But if you were this close, why didn't you help me when they first showed up?"

Dulcea smiled a little harshly at her. "You didn't ask me. Have you made your choice?"

"Yeah," she nodded. "I'll do it. I don't know what they were trying to do with that attack, but I'd made up my mind even before then. I'll be a Power Ranger. Now what?"

Dulcea smiled and held her hand out to Emmie. "Now we go to Phaedos. You'll meet the other Rangers when you get back."

Emmie took her hand. "Let's do it."

In twin globes of white light, the two of them vanished, on the way to Phaedos and destiny.

* * *
"Is there anything we can do to stop it?" Tommy asked, watching as Trini, Billy, and Justin ran around the Command Chamber like the proverbial chickens with their heads cut off. "It's going to be here in just a few minutes!"

"I know, I know!" Billy grumped. "And no, there isn't anything we can do! Whatever kind of field it has up around it is jamming everything that we're currently capable of doing to it! There's just too much that we don't know about this place!"

Trini jerked a printout from one of the panels and read it over quickly. "It's going to be landing about a half-mile from the Command Chamber itself," she reported. "And I think we'd better get out there. Whatever this thing is, if it's trouble, I think the Power Rangers should be there to take care of it."

"Right," Tommy glanced around at the others. Adam had cleaned himself up a little in the last few minutes, but still looked wild around the eyes. "Everyone ready?"

"As I'll ever be," the Black Ranger muttered. "Let's do this," and I can maybe stop thinking about what Scorpina did.

"It's morphin' time!" Tommy cried out, as he always had and perhaps always would.












With the eleven commands uttered, the Power Rangers morphed and teleported to the spot where the strange craft was landing. Billy looked up. "According to the reports, no Earthly scanners will be able to pick it up," he told them. "So we're not going to get any curiosity seekers, thank goodness."

"There it is!" Justin pointed over them. "It's landing!"

Jason shook his head. "No! It's crashing!"

His report was the more accurate, as moments later the thing smashed into the soil, knocking the eleven of them a good thirty feet away. The noise of it would have deafened them all if they hadn't been morphed and thus had their ears protected. Silence reigned as the craft came to a stop, almost a waiting stillness.

Then they all heard it. A sound that they had never imagined to hear again. Faint and almost unheard it came again. "Ay-yi-yi! I'll get the door open!"

In shock, they could only stare as a panel slide aside in the ship, and something, or rather, someone staggered out. It was small, red and gold, with a shiny helmet and a lightning bolt on it's chest. Billy formed the words under his breath. "A fully sentient multi-functional automaton," he whispered. "Alpha? Alpha-5?"

Before the little robot could respond, a flicker of white came from within the ship behind him, and a tall figure came to lay a hand on the robot's shoulder. "Have we arrived safely?" a quiet female voice asked.

"Ay-yi-yi," Alpha nodded. "We have! But. . .where is the Power Chamber?"

Only five of the Rangers recognized the woman. It was someone they had never thought to see again. Tommy spoke her name first. "Dimitria?"