"Leo! Come in Leo!" Maya cries into her communicator.
There's no response.
Maya tries again. "John, Leo, Kai, do you read me, over!?!"
Nothing from her communicator but static.
"Alpha, answer me, please!"
She is answered instead by another blinding flash of lightning, followed by a great boom of thunder and pouring rain.
She wipes her forehead with her hand. It doesn't help. She is soaked. Her long brown hair is heavy with rain. Her boots are soft and squishy. Icy water drips down her back.
She shivers and glances quickly over her shoulder. "Is he back?" she wonders.
It was just her imagination.
But why was it so dark? And why aren't the park's lights working?
Her boots splash as she hurries toward home. She listens for the sound of an engine or the squeal of rubber behind her. But the only noise is that from her boots and the sounds of the storm all around her.
What was that thing? Maya asks herself. She shakes her head as she runs even faster.
If only she had ridden with Leo a few hours ago. She would be safe at home, among friends.
But no, Maya shakes her head, silently scolding herself. I had to stay in the Mountain Dome to see the stars.
It wasn't really a long walk. Her and Kendrix' apartment in the dormitory complex, was actually pretty near the Mountain Dome tube. But why was it so dark? Why did it have to rain so hard? Why was she running in fear for her life?
Halfway across the elevated walkway that spans the center of the park, Maya spins around. She stares into the blackness behind her.
Her Miranite senses are much sharper than a human's, and right now they were paying off. Something is moving. A dark shape, behind a tree trunk.
What was that?
Holding her breath, she listens carefully. A voice. The softest whisper. "Maya."
Run, Maya pleads to herself. Run!
But her legs won't move. They feel planted in the concrete.
"Maya," the voice whispers again. Playful, teasing, but somehow dark.
"Leo," she begs into her communicator, "please help me, Please."
Turning again, Maya tries to trace the whispers. They seem to be coming from the park ahead of her.
Suddenly, amidst the torrential down pour, she sees a dark cloud. Smoke. She stares in horror, watching it rise from the tree line.
The whisper. Right behind her. Right in her ear.
She gasps as a bright light floods over her from behind. Then the rumble of a car's engine.
"He found me," she realizes. "He has me trapped."
"Oh no," she groans.
Turning, the last thing she sees are two glowing headlights rushing at her.
"AAAIIIEEEEE!!!" 6:30 a.m. VST, Venture Park, City Dome, Terra Venture
Several hours later, early morning light shines over the park. The "storm," a Halloween surprise for Terra Venture's residence, had ended as scheduled. Now the clouds break allowing sunrise to shine over the wet and gloomy park.
Two sparkling shafts of energy land in the park, materializing into Leo Corbett and Johnny Hunter. They had been home, watching an all night slasher movie marathon and decorating the apartment for Halloween, when they had received several garbled and obscure transmissions from Maya. The last of which, a blood curdling scream, had galvanized them into action. Now the two men are determined to find their friend.
John glances at Leo suspiciously as they walk along a muddy footpath. This was just the sort of Halloween gag Leo was always pulling back on Earth. For four years, Leo had taken sadistic glee in trying to scare he and Leo's older brother Mike with some lame prank on this day.
But this is different. Maya has almost no concept of Halloween. Even if she did, she wasn't the kind to pull a "fast one" on her friends. If she called for help, she needed it.
"Maya!" they both call.
Once again, Leo tries his communicator. "Maya, if your there, answer me," he says, almost begging.
Getting an idea, John activates his own communicator. "Al," he calls, "See if DECA can locate Maya's TransMorpher. Then give me a bearing."
Within moments, the little androids voice answers, "According to DECA's sensors, Maya should be exactly one hundred yards ahead of you at twelve o'clock."
Following Alpha's bearing, Leo and John see that it leads them to the middle of the bridge that spans the center of Vernon Park. There is nothing on the bridge however, but soggy newspapers, probably blown there by the night's storm.
Flashing John a confused glance, Leo speaks to Alpha. "Alpha, We're at the location now," he says worriedly, "but there's nothing here."
With a sudden sinking feeling, John once again addresses the Rangers' robot helper. "Al, Listen," he says seriously, "I want you to buzz Maya's communicator, Now."
"Bee, bup, Bee, bup." As John had feared, a beeping noise issues from beneath a nearby sheet of newspaper. He curses silently, as Leo retrieves a small metallic device.
"No way she would've taken this off," Leo says returning with the TransMorpher.
"Now lets not jump to conclusions," John replies trying to calm his friend.
Taking the Morpher from Leo, John continues, "She's always swinging through the trees, maybe... Eww," John grimaces as he feels something sticky on the underside of the Morpher's wristband. Looking at his hand, John's face goes white.
"What," Leo asks, "What is it!?!"
Saying nothing, John turns the palm of his hand to Leo's face, showing him what he'd found. Covering the first three fingers of John's hand is a thick reddish liquid.
"Blood," Leo says quietly.
Snapping into action, Leo triggers his communicator. "Alpha!" Leo commands. "Signal the other Rangers, Now! I don't care what they're doing! Full Emergency Status!"
Nudging Leo on the shoulder, John points to the opposite end of the bridge. "You go north," John tells him, "I'll go down and check the gardens."
Nodding, both men go their separate ways, Leo racing to the end of the bridge, as John vaults down the stairs leading to the lower level gardens below.
Reaching ground level, John frantically searches the bushes and plants lining the small field.
"Maya!?!" he calls repeatedly.
Losing his footing, John tumbles into the mud sliding several feet before stopping at the base of a large rose bush. Catching his hand on a thorny branch John curses. "Son of a...!"
John stops as he reaches to free his hand but feels something deathly cold.
Moving the branches aside, John finds... "Maya," he whispers in disbelief, "No."
Still soaked from the rain, her body lies partially hidden beneath the bush. Her skin is a pale white, her lips and nails a dark bluish shade.
Frantically, John searches for a pulse. From the state of the body though, he expects none. "Oh God," he says feeling nothing.
"Leo!" John cries, "Leo, I found her!" 12 p.m. VST Dormitory Complex, City Dome, Terra Venture
The Power Rangers have gathered at the guy's apartment, trying to make since of the day's tragedy.
John sits at the dinner table, running trembling hands through his damp hair, still pale from the day's horror.
Kai paces the floor like a caged beast. His face is a mask of calm hiding the turmoil within.
"Uh, Where's Mike?" Kendrix asks wiping her red eyes. "He should know."
For the fist time since taking Maya's body to the MegaShip, Leo looks away from his window and speaks. "He's in a closed conference with the Command Council," he answers hoarsely, "We won't be able to reach him till later tonight."
"I shouldn't have left her alone," Leo says finally.
Kendrix looks at Leo with concern. He and John have had the worst of it. Finding Maya in the park. She wished she could make their pain go away, but she didn't know how. "Leo, You couldn't ha..."
"Don't comfort him!" Kai snaps, "He's right, he should have been there," he hisses.
"Hey, Kai," John says rising from the table, "Leave it be, okay?"
Now Kai turns on John. "Leave it be?" he asks in disbelief. "Where were you?" he demands, " Watching a stupid movie while one of your friends is being murdered, that's where!" Kai's voice trembles and his eyes fill with rage and hurt as he yells. "Your no Ranger," he finishes scornfully.
Closing his eyes, John bites his lip and lowers his head. Kai's words sting him more than he cares to admit. In a barely audible whisper, he speaks, "Kai don't."
His anger not yet spent, Kai shoves John roughly, desperate for some reply.
In a flash, almost, by reflex, John's fist lashes out striking Kai with a right cross. As Kai goes down, John, mad with rage, rushes forward to press his advantage.
Recovering quickly, Kai leaps forward ready to meet the attack, only to be caught and held in Damon's iron grip. Mere inches away, Leo is holding John.
Having had enough, Kendrix places herself between the combatants. "Enough!" she yells, "This won't bring back Maya." As she speaks, the tears once again come to her. "We've gotta keep it together, we're all we have," she sobs.
"Come on guys," Damon says releasing Kai, "We're family!"
John and Kai simply glower at each other, and turn away saying nothing.
"God!" Now Damon is angry. "I can't believe you guys," he says, his voice getting higher with emotion, "one of us is dead! And all you two can do is fight like little kids!"
Turning, Damon storms toward the door. "I'm leavin' for a while!" he says sharply.
"Damon!" Leo calls, "Where you goin'?"
"To the park," he says from the door, "somebody has to find who did this!" And with that, Damon is gone. 12:45 p.m. VST Astro MegaShip, Hangar 18, Terra Venture
Aboard the MegaShip, Alpha 6 performs the saddest duty he has ever undertaken. As the Ranger's assistant/advisor, it falls to him to perform the Post Mortum exam on Maya.
He stops his scanning as he looks at the young girl's face. As a robot, he has no real concept of beauty, in the human sense at least, but from what he gleaned from the other Rangers, the girl lying in front of him was indeed beautiful.
They were a lot alike, Alpha thinks. They were both strangers in a strange land. He, a robot totally confused by the customs of his human friends, and she, an alien from a distant planet, also struggles to understand a new world.
Alpha loves all of his human friends, but Maya was probably the one he felt closest to. But now, the little robot is left with an empty space inside. Numbness he can scarcely understand. But if he were a living breathing being, he knew he would call it a broken heart.
Without warning, DECA's voice fills the medical chamber startling the android. "Bio-Scan complete," the computer tells him, "results indicate cuts, abrasions, and soft tissue trauma, but no fatal injuries."
"Ay-yi-yi, That's impossible!" Alpha exclaims. "Run diagnostic on Medi-Scanners," he orders.
Several moments later, DECA once again speaks. "Medi-Scanners functioning at one hundred percent of maximum."
Alpha is beginning to lose his temper, "If that's true," he snaps, "then why is Maya dead!?!" he demands.
"Indeterminate," DECA replies, "the absence of any physiological means of death suggests the possibility of supernatural means."
"What are you suggesting?" Alpha asks more confused now than angry.
"I would suggest consulting an expert in that field," DECA answers.
Thinking over this new information, Alpha knows what he must do. "DECA," he orders, "prepare to send a sub-space transmission. Destination: planet Phaedos."
As DECA prepares, Alpha takes one last look at Maya before leaving the Medical Bay. As he hurries to the bridge, he hopes it's not to late. 2:00 p.m. VST Vernon Park, City Dome, Terra Venture
Back at Vernon Park, Damon is deep in thought. He had come here under the pretence of hunting for clues, which was true enough, but he also had to get away from the others. He didn't want them to see him this way.
Damon had always been the man with the snappy comeback. The joke just when it was needed. For years he had hidden behind a sense of humor. But now was different.
He couldn't hide the pain he felt. The loss was just too great. He didn't want the others, his friends, to see him like this.
His fathers words came back to him, "Don't ever let 'im see you cry." The words had shaped Damon's whole life. From his amateur boxing career to his being hijacked into space. He could laugh something off, or get raging mad, but he never showed the pain.
The sight of a large black Hearse driving toward him snaps Damon from his day dreaming. As the vehicle passes, Damon gets a strange feeling in his gut. It's the same feeling he always gets when things were out of place.
"Why should the hearse upset him so much?" he wonders. "Just cause one of my closest friends died this morning," he answers himself ironically.
"Wait a minute!" Suddenly it comes to him; there ARE no hearses on Terra Venture. No gas using engines of any kind. All their cars are electrical.
Turning, Damon sees the hearse has stopped a few yards ahead of him. His curiosity peaked; Damon goes to investigate the car.
The hearse is long and black. The back door standing open revealing a red velvet interior complete with flowing drapes. No coffin though.
"Thank God," Damon muses.
Knowing, he'll probably regret it, Damon moves forward to check inside the vehicle. His uneasy feeling growing as he nears the open door.
"This is sooo stupid," he admonishes himself, "if the others knew what I was doing, they'd ki..."
Grabbed by an unknown force, Damon is yanked completely into the back of the Hearse. Without so much as a noise, the door shuts behind him, and the vehicle speeds away leaving not so much as a track in the mud to indicate it was ever there.
It's late afternoon by the time the Rangers find Damon's body. Alpha had signaled them to return to the MegaShip immediately, something about important news. When Damon didn't acknowledge the call, the others feared the worst.
Now here they were, another dead friend before them.
Kneeling over Damon's body Kendrix checks for vital signs even as she weeps for her friend. "Nothing," she says between sobs, "no pulse, no respiration, nothing."
Joining her, John holds Kendrix while trying to fight back his own tears. "This is no Monster Kill," he whispers, "What the hell is goin' on here," he asks to anyone listening.
"I'll tell you what's going on," Kai answers, "someone is hunting Power Rangers." His words carry a razor edge.
Shaking his head, Leo looks to each of his friends before resting his gaze on Damon. His breath starts coming quicker, the muscles in his face tighten, turning away from his comrades Leo looks toward the sky as if calling on a higher power.
"NO MORE!!!" he shouts, "No more Rangers are going to be hunted," he swears, "if you want us, then come get us, together, NOW!"
As if summoned by Leo's outburst, the hearse explodes through a hedge, leaping into the air. Its engine roaring likes the war cry of some primordial beast.
Dropping into a split, John ducks low, the car missing his head by mere inches. "I think he heard you Leo!" he yells.
Landing with a crash the car skids in the mud before stopping directly in front of Kai. Its rear door swinging open.
"What the h..." Kai starts.
With a sound like a whip cracking, a thick white rope shoots out of the hearse, and wraps around Kai's neck!
Kai claws savagely at the noose around his neck as it drags him toward the car, but can't loosen it. Finally, his face a bright shade of red, he drops to his knees blacking out.
"Kai!" the Rangers shout in unison.
Rushing to their friend the three teens pull with all their might trying to make slack in the rope. Little by little, they realize they are losing this dark tug of war.
"Kendrix!" John calls through gritted teeth, "Your saber, use your saber!"
"Cut the rope!" Leo adds.
Leaving her friends, Kendrix summons her Quasar Saber, charging it with energy.
Lifting the weapon over her head, Kendrix focuses all her attention on severing the deadly cord. "KEEEEYAAAAH!!!" she calls swinging her sword.
As her blow strikes home, Kendrix is struck by the energy released as it deflects harmlessly off the rope. Thrown several feet through the air she lands with a thud and a grunt of pain. "Unngh!"
With a sudden jerk, the rope is forced from Leo and John's grip, throwing them to the ground. Then with violent speed, Kai is pulled into the hearse, the door closing behind him.
"That's it!" John shouts, returning to his feet, "Magna Power!" Instantly John is transformed into the Magna Defender.
"I'm gonna open you like tuna fish," John shouts. Drawing his Magna Blaster, John fires several rounds into the rear and side of the massive car.
"ARRRGH!!!" John screams in pain as his energy is deflected back at him, sending him flying. With a grunt he lands next to Kendrix, his armor still smoking.
As quickly as it had come, the hearse roars away, rounding a corner with Leo chasing on foot.
Returning seconds later, Leo bends over, hands on knees trying to catch his breath.
"H...He...He's gone," he manages between breathes.
Rocketing back from around the corner, the hearse narrowly misses Leo as he jumps clear in the nick of time.
As Kendrix tries to help John to his feet, the hearse skids to a halt in front of them. Before either can react, the cars rear door opens, and Kai flies out, landing in a heap at their feet.
Kai lies there totally still. His skin is chalk white, his lips blue. There is a garish red rope-burn around his neck.
Triggering his helmet's Bio-Vision mode, John scans Kai desperately hoping to find any vital sign. Nothing. As much as John wants to deny it, Kai, his friend, is dead.
Looking at Kendrix, John can only shake his head "no".
"Oh Kai, no," she sobs. "Not you, please!" she begs.
Turning and holding John, Kendrix presses her head against his chest plate, tears pouring down her face. "He was my best friend," she cries.
Desperate to soothe Kendrix' pain, all John can think to do is hold the girl tighter. "I kn...I know," he stutters through his own tears, "they'll pay," John promises through gritted teeth, "I swear they'll pay."
Seeing the two of them holding each other, Leo feels a strange emotion joining his anger and pain over Kai's loss. Was it...jealousy?
Cursing himself for that selfish thought, Leo turns toward the hearse. He has lost to many friends today, felt too much pain, it's time to end it.
As Leo approaches the hearse, a thick cloud of smoke bellows out from under it. At least it looks like smoke. But as the cloud grows bigger, it begins to take shape. Arms, legs, a head, piece by piece the smoke forms a vaguely humanoid form.
Leo looks the creature over as he approaches. It stands almost eight feet tall, and wears a blood red cloak over black flowing robes and what looks to Leo like organic body armor. The creature's most notable feature though, is its face, looking for all the world, like an exposed skull. The bone of the skull is yellow and tarnished, but set deep in its eye sockets are glowing red eyes. If Leo weren't so angry, the creature's appearance might have scared him.
"Who are you!?!" Leo demands pointing an accusing finger at the creature, "and why are you after the Power Rangers?"
With a wave of its bladed staff, the creature introduces itself; "I am Chiron, Master of the Dead! I have come to this place to harvest souls," the creature looks at the Rangers and grins darkly, "and you and your friends will be the first to join me in my own private Hell." With that the creature laughs maniacally.
"Wrong, Big Man!" John shouts as he launches a corkscrew kick at Chiron.
To the Rangers' surprise, John's kick carries him completely through the monster as if Chiron were made of smoke.
Flashing each other a confused look, Leo and Kendrix attack together. Leo going low to sweep Chiron's legs, and Kendrix striking high with a roundhouse kick to the creatures head. To their mutual horror, neither blow affects their immaterial foe.
"Idiotic she thing," Chiron spits, slapping Kendrix away, "you are nothing to me! But," he continues, turning to Leo, "a Red Rangers soul is a prize in itself."
Grabbing him by the neck, Chiron hefts Leo into the air with little effort. "Why don't you join me... in DEATH?"
With a maniacal laugh, Chiron tosses Leo toward the open rear door of the hearse.
With practiced agility, Leo twists in midair readying arms and legs for the coming impact. With a massive THUD, Leo catches himself on the sides of the door, preventing the lower half of his body from falling through the portal.
Though only his head and shoulders fall within the demonic car, Leo isn't prepared, could never truly be prepared for what horrors lay before him.
Before Leo can even open his eyes, his other senses are assaulted by a multitude of foul sensations. Burning, rot, death, and a hundred other obscene odors strike him like a physical blow. It's hot, Leo guesses well over a hundred degrees. A stark contrast to the autumn chill he still feels in his legs. Screams, moans, and a thousand other sounds of torment fill his ears, threatening to deafen him.
Calling on every once of his courage, Leo wills his eyes open, and wishes he'd kept them closed. He is jutting out of a portal composed of black swirling energy set in what looks like a rough hewn mountain side. About him lay piles of bleached skulls and other bones, positioned carefully as if for some arcane right. Everywhere jagged black peaks reach toward a dark red sky. Fires burn in all directions. Creatures Leo can only call demons scurry around like hellish insects, covering virtually every surface. The few creatures he sees that may have once been human, are mangled beyond belief, yet still somehow cry in agony.
With a sudden attack of panic, Leo comes to a single dark conclusion. "I'm in Hell," he thinks to himself.
Hearing a rustling of gravel, Leo turns to see who, or what, approaches.
A dark silhouette steps forward from the shadows. Leo gets a good look as firelight illuminates the approaching creature. If the human shaped thing had ever been a man, Leo guesses he must have been born hideously deformed. The creature's baldhead and neck appear to be disproportionately large for the rest of its massive frame. Over its face it wears what looks like a hockey goalie's mask, but broken, and burnt with jagged cuts and deep gouges. The "thing" is dressed in a soiled blue work shirt and filthy tan pants with clunky construction boots and dirty work gloves. In its hand, the creature holds a rusty but obviously sharp machete.
"Oh, God," Leo whispers.
Searching desperately for any weapon within reach, Leo spies a second figure approaching from the opposite direction. This one is slightly less inhuman than the first, but still ominous. Though not as tall as "mister hockey", the new guy is still massive. His head is covered with a featureless white Halloween mask with spiky black hair, and he's dressed in blue mechanics coveralls and work boots. In his right hand he holds a large, well-worn butcher knife.
"Don't mess with me man," Leo warns both, full of false bravado, "I am NOT having a good day!"
"GAAH!!!" Leo screams as Chiron appears from out of thin air in front of him. "Come on in and tell us about it," the demon cackles. With that, Chiron grabs Leo's shirt with sharp claws, and pulls.
As Leo's legs and hands struggle to maintain their hold on the outside of the hearse, the two monsters approach Chiron, apparently to help secure his prisoner.
"NOOOO!" Leo screams as his grip begins to weaken.
Suddenly, an ear splitting whistle issues from the portal. Even as Leo grits his teeth at the offensive noise, he notices the profound affect it has on his assailants.
Chiron releases Leo and falls to the ground in agony. Meanwhile, the two mystery monsters follow suit, as if struck by an incredible force. Indeed, the entire landscape rumbles as if offended by the sound.
Realizing he has an opening, Leo pulls with all his strength, drawing himself back through the portal and away from this nightmare.
With almost superhuman effort, Leo throws himself from the rear of Chiron's hearse and into the still wet grass and mud of Vernon Park. For a moment he lays there, happy beyond words to be anywhere but in the "place" he just left.
Then Leo notices the whistle. Holding his ears against the screaming noise, Leo looks toward its source, and for the first time, notices he is laying at the feet of a beautiful woman in a skimpy green suit. As the woman stands, she spins a three-foot baton in each hand. These sticks, Leo surmises, are what is making the whistling noise.
Remembering his friends, Leo turns to look for them.
About ten feet away, Kendrix is having as hard a time as Leo is with the noise. Holding her ears, she tries to help John.
"John!?!" Leo questions. For the first time, he notices the strange affect the whistling has on his long-time friend. John is on his knees, motionless, as if in a trance. Around him tiny arcs of electricity play over his armor. As the arcs touch the black metal, the armor flickers in and out exposing John within.
Suddenly, the hearse vibrating wildly guns its engine and spins its tires in the mud. Finally, spraying Leo with mud and turf, the hearse takes off like a shot, and disappears, once again, around the bend.
As suddenly as the whistling started, it stops, as the mystery woman ceases swinging her batons and joins them to form a six-foot staff.
"Hello, Rangers," the woman says happily.
Shocked at the woman's cheery tone, Leo drags himself to his feet, and realizes for the first time that his near trip into the hearse had a profound affect on him. He's soaked in a cold sweat, his breathing is rapid and his shivering has nothing to do with the temperature. For the first time in his life, he feels real undiluted, undeniable fear.
"Who...are...you?" he manages.
"And what did you do to me?" John asks as he and Kendrix join Leo.
"I honestly don't know, Magna Defender," Dulcea answers, "the Whistling Sticks have never had that effect on a Ranger before. Perhaps..."
"Who are you?" Kendrix interrupts
As John gives Kendrix a curious look, the mystery woman retrieves a crystal orb, about the size of a baseball, from a pouch on her belt.
"There is no time," the woman says, "Chiron will be back, and soon."
Raising the orb above her head, the woman continues, "Now, We must get back to your ship. There is much to explain."
"Wait, What ar..."
Before Leo can finish, the orb gives off a burst of intense light. When it clears the woman, the Rangers, and the bodies of Kai and Damon have all disappeared. 4:45 p.m. VST, Astro MegaShip, Hangar 18, Terra Venture
Aboard the MegaShip Bridge, Leo, John, and Kendrix materialize, along with the mysterious woman, in a flash of light.
"Ay-yi-yi, Rangers your safe," Alpha yells.
" Where are Kai and Damon!?!" John demands of the woman.
"And who are you?" Leo adds.
"Why is that Chiron guy killing us?" Kendrix finishes.
"Rangers please," Alpha pleads, "Kai and Damon are with Maya in the Cryo-Bay in the Engine Room. All your other questions will be answered in time."
Once again, the woman smiles at them. "Rangers, I am Dulcea, the Master Warrior of Phaedos."
"Phaedos?" Leo asks.
"The fifth planet in the Mizar system," Kendrix answers.
"That is correct," Dulcea says, empressed by Kendrix' knowledge. "I was called here by Alpha 6 to help you face your new foe."
"You mean this Chiron thing," John states.
"Yes," Dulcea replies, "Chiron is a deadly opponent. To face him unprepared, is to forfeit your very soul."
Leo shakes his head in disbelief. "Maybe you should tell us about this guy," he says.
A sad look crossing her face, Dulcea sighs deeply and begins, "Chiron, was originally a lesser "servant" demon of Yomi, an other-dimensional underworld strikingly similar to what you Earthers," she points to the Rangers, "call Hell. There he lived for thousands, if not millions of years collecting the souls of evil beings and bringing them back to Yomi, where they were judged and sentenced to spend eternity." Dulcea stops to allow her words to sink in.
"But why is he after us?" Leo asks.
"An excellent question, Leo," Dulcea says, "Alpha?" she beckons.
"Ay-yi-yi," he begins, "Eventually, Chiron became dissatisfied with his job, and secretly planed to amass a fortune in souls, which are very valuable in certain dark dimensions. To this end, Chiron became a mercenary in the service of evil. Working for a price, Chiron will use his demonic powers against anyone or anything."
"Whoa, Shotgun back-up," John says, "You mean to tell me, Maya, Damon, and Kai were murdered because some satanic civil servant went postal!?!" As he speaks, John's irritation grows.
Putting a soothing hand on John's shoulder, Kendrix looks to Dulcea. "Who hired this thing to come after us?" she asks.
"That is a mystery I am not privy to," she answers apologetically.
Once again taking command, Leo addresses the group. "That doesn't matter now," he says matter of factly, "if he collects souls, then once he has ours," Leo looks toward a schematic of Terra Venture on one of the view screens, "he'll take Terra Venture."
"Never," Kendrix and John promise simultaneously.
"Alright then," Leo turns his attention to Dulcea, "you said you came to help, so you must have a plan," he finishes.
"With the others dead," John winces at the thought; "it'll have to be one we can pull off shorthanded."
"Your friends aren't dead," Dulcea informs them.
"What!?!" the Rangers shout together.
"We saw that thing kill Kai," John says angrily, "I held Maya's corps in my arms!" John fights back hot tears as he continues, "three of my best friends are laying on slabs in the Engine Room, and you say their not dead."
Touching John's angry face gently, Dulcea speaks soothingly, "I know it's been difficult for you," she looks away sadly, "I recently lost someone...close."
Taking a deep breath, Dulcea smiles a weak smile and looks into John's eyes. "Your friends are not dead," she repeats, "Not exactly."
"Here comes another migraine," John says shaking his head.
"What do you mean, not exactly," Kendrix asks.
Turning, Dulcea chooses her words carefully, "According to the laws of Yomi, Chiron is forbidden from killing any being from this dimension. He can however steal their souls and take them back to Yomi."
"So your saying if we get their souls back, The others will be okay?" John asks swallowing a pair of Tylenol.
"That's right," Alpha says happily, "my scans show none of their injuries were fatal. If their souls can be recovered, they will wake up good as new."
"So what do we have to do?" Leo asks.
"We can do nothing from here," Dulcea tells them, "we must take the bodies of your friends to my Ninjetti Temple in the Mountain Dome."
"There are no temples in the Mountain Dome," Kendrix informs her.
With a mischievous grin, Dulcea replies, "There is now." 6:45 VST, Ninjetti Temple, Mountain Dome, Terra Venture
The move to the temple isn't an easy one. The mystical shields Dulcea erected to protect the cave temple make it impossible to teleport directly there. So the Rangers are forced to teleport as far as they can, then carry their friends the remaining distance. Two hours after starting out they reach their destination.
The temple is secreted in a large cave in the side of a small mountain. Just within the mouth of the cave, marble columns are positioned to form a large semi-circle. In the center of the temple, four stone tables surround a small fire. On the wall opposite the entrance is a massive carving of a circle containing various animals. In one corner, a shelf holds several rolled up scrolls and unidentified powders.
"Dulcea," John asks, placing Maya on one of the stone slabs near the fire, "why build a temple? I mean, you said that your powers come from that orb, right?"
Dulcea replies over her shoulder as she goes through several of the rolls of parchment in the corner. "Most of them do," she says, "but I dare not over use the Orb. Doing so could lead me to misuse it's power."
John nods, but still looks confused. "Same question," he says, "what about the temple?"
As John admires the view of her doing so, Dulcea rises and comes to him. "If I should leave my temple without either being under the Orb's influence, or in my bird form," she pauses and grins, "I would rapidly begin to show my...true age."
"True age," John says curiously. "How old are you, anyway?" he asks.
"Old enough not to answer," she says mischievously.
Giving John a peck on the cheek, Dulcea returns to her work at the scrolls.
Watching Dulcea walk away John grins. "I wish I had that swing in my bac...OWW!"
From out of nowhere, John is slapped lightly on the back of the head. Snapping out of his daydreams, John turns to see Kendrix obviously struggling to hold Kai up by herself. "If your through landscaping, could you please give me a hand?" she asks perturbed.
Moments later, the Rangers rest while Dulcea continues to search her texts.
Anxious to get started, John paces the temple, his senses cranked to their highest level. If he didn't get to do something quick he would explode.
Then he sees it. A flicker of movement in one corner. He inches closer to the intruder, not making a sound lest he announce his intention to capture it. Step by step, inch by inch, slower and slower he moves closer, until...
"YAAAAHH!!!" John screams, as he pounces.
With a flash of motion, the mysterious creature flies at John, striking him in the chest and knocking him flat on his back.
Looking up from the floor, John gazes into the eyes of his attacker.
"Snoggle?" the creature says.
John can only stare in wonder at the small creature still straddling his chest. The tiny creature can't be more than three feet, if that. It has large "cartoony" eyes with mule-like ears sticking straight out from its head, and a long round snout. The creature has thick dark skin with patchy coarse black hair and a long naked tail. It looks for all the world, like an alien anteater.
"My god, I've been mugged by a Muppet." John says in disbelief.
Rushing over, Dulcea lifts the creature gently off John's chest. "Did he hurt you?" she asks concerned.
"Nah, I've had worse," John says getting up. With embarrassment he sees Dulcea was talking to the creature.
"Snogglesnogglesnoggle," the creature says as Dulcea carries it away.
Walking up beside John, Kendrix places an arm over his shoulder. "I can't take you anywhere," she says in mock disgust.
At the mouth of the cave, Leo leans against the cave wall staring at the night sky, oblivious to events around him. He's so caught up in his thoughts; he doesn't notice Kendrix approach.
"Leo?" the pretty blonde asks.
With a start, Leo turns to her. To Kendrix surprise, Leo appears to be trembling.
"What?" Leo says quickly, "is she ready yet?"
"No, Dulcea's still preparing the spell." Kendrix answers.
Turning back toward the cave, Kendrix starts to leave, then casts a concerned glance at her friend. "Is something wrong?" she asks.
Looking as if he doesn't know what to say, Leo finally slides down the wall to a sitting position. "I...I don't know," he says hesitantly, "I've never felt like this before."
"How do you mean?" Kendrix says concerned, crouching down beside him.
"Kendrix, I..." Leo's voice cracks as he speaks, "I feel...scared, really scared."
Kendrix has to look away for a moment. In all the time she has known Leo, she's never seen him like this. Anytime he faced danger in the past, it was always with fierce determination to overcome it, or at least with that indeering smile of his. The one that tells the world, Leo Corbett is ready for anything! But seeing him like this, it just isn't right.
"We've all been through a lot today, Leo," she tells him gently, "we..."
"Kendrix, I went to Hell this morning," Leo interrupts. "I saw things I can't begin to understand. Horrors I couldn't imagine in my worst nightmare!" Leo takes a deep breath, trying to calm himself before continuing, "I don't know if I can face that again."
Pulling Leo's head close to her own, Kendrix tries to comfort him. "Leo, there is no reason you should go back," she states, "If this spell works, any one of us can make the trip. Me, John..."
"No," Leo says rising.
Once again, Kendrix hears the grim Corbett Determination. But is there something else in his tone? Something like...anger?
"As scared as I am, I won't let him take another Ranger. Not John...and not you."
"Don't you dare do this to protect me, Leo Corbett!"
Leo looks to the floor before speaking again, he says, "Look, When Mike was...was gone, I felt like I lost all I had. Now this thing," he spits the word, "is trying to take you guys away to." Leo doesn't try to hide the emotion in his voice; "I'm not saying good bye again."
Overcome with emotion, Kendrix takes Leo in a tight hug. She to thinks of the Rangers as family. And she completely understands his point.
A few feet away, John silently watches their embrace. Feeling a new weight on his heart, he returns to the temple in silence.
Soon, the Rangers and Dulcea gather around the fire to begin the ceremony. Pulling a handful of powder from her belt-pouch, Dulcea throws it on the fire.
As the tiny flames suddenly flare into a raging fire, she speaks, "Eons ago, my people, the Nathadians, came to this universe to battle evil. For this purpose they brought the secrets of the Ninjetti, and the Great Power. These two forces have helped keep evil at bay for thousands of years."
Reaching into another pouch, Dulcea produces the Orb, and holds it toward the fire.
"Once housed in the Great Monolith of Phaedos," she begins, "I now call on the Orb, the physical embodiment of the Great Power." For the forces of evil have once again risen to threaten the great balance of the universe."
As the Orb begins to glow, Dulcea shifts her attention to the Rangers.
"Who among you shall negotiate the paths of the dead to locate your lost friends?" she asks.
Leo steps forward, a look of determination his only expression. "I, Leo Corbett, the Red Ranger will walk the path!" he exclaims.
Nodding, Dulcea continues, "And who will be his link to the Realm of the Living on this quest?"
Now Kendrix steps forward, "I, Kendrix Morgan, the Pink Ranger will be his link to the Realm of the Living!"
John has to look away. He can't let Kendrix or Leo see the pain he feels, not at such an important moment. For now, he must suffer in silence.
Kendrix catches a glimpse of John's face as he looks away. The pain in his eyes makes her want to run to him, hold him tight. But she can't. Not while so many lives hang in the balance. As much as it's killing her, she can't help her friend, this time.
"Bee, bup, Bee, bup." To the Rangers surprise, their communicators go off, signaling an incoming call.
Flashing Dulcea an apologetic grin, John answers the call. "We're right in the middle of something, Al," John says slightly perturbed.
"Ay-yi-yi," the robot says, "DECA's sensors show Chiron's hearse near your position, and moving toward you, fast!"
"No!" Dulcea yells worriedly, "Chiron must know what we are attempting." She looks to John; "The spell must be uninterrupted!
"I'll explain that to him," John says with a dead serious expression.
"Be careful out there," Leo says, concerned. "That thing is a tough egg to crack.
"I eat eggs for breakfast," John says with a smile.
As he walks toward the cave mouth, John calls back to them, "Don't worry guys, I got your back!"
"He is indeed a true hero," Dulcea tells them.
"You got that right," Leo agrees.
Outside on a long and winding dirt path, Magna Defender stands waiting. After a few minutes a pair of headlights roll silently into view then stop.
"I know I can't destroy you," John calls to the demonic car, "But I can give you one hell of a repair bill!
In answer to John's challenge, the car's engine rumbles to life. With a squeal of it's tires, it careens toward the armored hero, headlights shining a blinding flash.
Smiling beneath his helmet, John gently grasps his saber.
"Time to dance."
With a start Leo wakes. "Where am I!?!" he yells.
Catching his breath, Leo observes his surroundings. He is in a dark gloomy bedroom. The cob webs in the corners and gaping holes in the wallpaper indicate the room hasn't been used in a long time. The windows, barely covered by tattered curtains, are broken and encrusted with filth. Judging from the sky outside, it's late at night. Leo is lying on a bare mattress on a dilapidated bed frame. The filthy bed smells of mold and mildew.
Rising from the bed, Leo realizes he is covered in sweat. But why? It's cold in the room. Not just because of the season either. It's an evil cold. Something is definitely not right.
"Kendrix?" Leo calls.
Nothing. He is alone. There is no sign of his "link" to the living world. "Great Corbett," he says to himself, "You're flying solo."
Knocking dust from his blue shirt, Leo turns toward the door.
"Jesus!" Leo screams. There standing a little over a couple of feet away is a small boy. Where had he come from?
The boy is dressed in a yellow and orange striped Halloween clown costume. Most of the boy's face is covered with a yellow mask.
"Are you alright?" Leo asks him.
The boy simply stands there staring at him. There is no trace of emotion, or even recognition on the child's face. The only sound he makes is a heavy breathing.
Concerned, Leo moves a little closer and kneels in front of him.
"My name is Le..."
Before Leo can finish, the boy lashes at him with a large butcher knife he had been hiding behind his back.
Thanks to Leo's combat honed reflexes, the knife blade cuts into his baggy shirt, but narrowly misses the skin underneath.
Falling to the floor, Leo grabs for the child, but only manages to snag part of his costume collar as the boy turns and runs out of the room.
Recovering his senses, Leo examines the piece of cloth in his hand. What was this little tag? A name tag!
"Michael," Leo reads solemnly.
For a brief instant, thoughts of his brother flood Leo's mind. Quickly he shakes them off. Mike was never the "clown" type. In his trick-or-treat days Mike's tastes ran more to heroes and monsters. He had even dressed as a Red Power Ranger once. He laughs at the thought.
"Mind on business, Leo," he scolds himself. He needed to find the boy. The child may know where his friends are. For that matter, the kid himself may need help. Leo had a soft spot for children, and hated to see a child in trouble.
Stepping into the dark hallway, Leo looks in the direction "Michael" had run. There is nothing there now but the boy's mask, lying discarded on the floor.
Walking forward to retrieve the plastic mask, Leo hears a heavy breathing noise again. This time coming from the end of the dark corridor. There he can just make out a shape, hunched over in a dark corner.
"Michael?" Leo calls. He walks toward the form slowly. "Care to explain that knife thing back there?" he says cheerfully.
The shape remains silent.
"You don't have to be scared," Leo assures, "You know what? I have a brother named Michael, well Mike actually."
Slowly the shape rises from the corner.
"That's right," Leo says gently, "Come on over here and we can tal..."
Something is wrong, the shape is rising, but it isn't stopping. The empty clown suit falls to the floor, discarded like the mask.
There, standing well over six feet, is one of the same creatures he had scene in the hearse. It's the one in the weird Halloween mask. He still brandishes the worn butcher knife. The same knife, Leo realizes, that the boy tried to gut him with.
Swinging into action, Leo kicks the knife from the man's hand, sending it flying back down the hall. "Michael" keeps coming. Leo lands a flurry of solid punches to the man's head and upper body. Right Cross, Left Cross, Right Hook, Left Hook, Jab, Jab, Jab, Shudo Chop, Shudo Chop. "Michael" is unfazed.
"Oh, Crap!" Leo shouts.
Leo angles his body, twisting to deliver a lethal roundhouse kick. "HIIIIYAAH!" he yells.
With little effort, "Michael" grabs Leo's foot mid-kick, trapping the teen. With incredible strength, "Michael" pulls Leo's leg, first forward, and then pushes downward, slamming Leo into the floor, hard.
"AHHGGH!" Leo screams in pain as his back crashes into the floorboards.
"LEO!" a voice calls from behind him.
"Kendrix!?!" Leo questions.
Twisting his head, Leo sees Kendrix standing at the opposite end of the hall. She is surrounded by a hallo of white light, and if his eyes can be trusted, is partially transparent. She has a worried look on her face as she beckons him toward her.
"Leo come on hurry!" she screams.
Bracing himself against the floor, Leo kicks at "Michael" with both legs. The force of the blow knocks the big man far enough back for Leo to handspring to his feet and run toward Kendrix.
"GAKKK!" Leo chokes as "Michael" grabs the collar of his blue button up. Grasping the front of his shirt, Leo tears the garment open, sending buttons flying, and shrugs out of it.
Running full speed at "Ghost Kendrix", Leo leaps toward her. Reaching out, he grasps her ghostly hand and.... All goes dark.
"Whoah!" Leo falls to the ground with a bone-jarring thud.
"Owww," Leo moans in pain.
Rising Leo once again surveys his surroundings. He's sitting in a mud puddle in the middle of some kind of camp in the woods. The cabins around him are old and in disrepair, all around him the ground is strewn with the memories of a once thriving summer camp. The sky is cloudy and dark with the promise of rain. Somewhere near, Leo hears the quiet splashing sounds of a lake.
Walking toward the nearest cabin, Leo stops to examine a splintered sign lying in a pile of rubble. Lifting the mildewed sign, Leo struggles to read the faded lettering. "Camp Crystal..." he reads, "something," he finishes, unable to make out the last word.
"Help me, mommy, help!" a voice cries in the dark.
Trying to trace the sound, Leo realizes its coming from the direction of the lake sounds.
"Hang on, I'm coming!" Leo calls.
Racing through the trees, Leo stumbles and falls onto a rickety boat dock on a misty lake.
"Mommy, Don't let me drown!" the voice cries.
Leo follows the young boy's voice down the shore for a few yards before happening on a man sitting on the bank. The man is wrapped in a blanket from head to toe, as he stares across the water.
"Hey, mister," Leo calls, "Did you see that kid?"
The man ignores him completely.
"Hey, you!" Leo calls impatiently, "there's a kid in trouble, did you see 'im!?!"
Still no answer.
His patience exhausted, Leo shakes the man roughly to get his attention.
Leo jumps back as the "man" falls apart. As the blanket falls away, Leo sees that he's been talking to a pile of butchered body parts stacked carefully under it.
Shocked beyond speech, Leo backs quickly away from the carnage, and into someone behind him.
Leo curses silently as he turns to face whoever has stopped him. There, towering over him stands the hockey-masked creature he had seen earlier.
Not waiting for him to move, Leo drops into a split and delivers a vicious jab to the creature's crotch.
Looking down at him, the creature simply shakes its head as it reaches for Leo.
Lifting Leo effortlessly, the creature holds Leo's face mere inches from his own. A hoarse croaking sound comes from where the creature's mouth must be behind the mask. Leo realizes with horror that it must be laughter.
With savage strength, the man-thing throws Leo a good twenty feet into the lake. Choking on the fowl water, Leo feels himself being pulled downward, sinking deeper and deeper.
As he feels himself blacking out, Leo sees a bright light in the water ahead of him.
"Kendrix?" he thinks to himself.
No, It's different this time. Different, but still...important
As his vision goes dark, and his lungs scream for air, Leo reaches for the beautiful light. Touching it, Leo feels a warmth wash over him.
Then he sees them.
As if through a cloud of smoke, he sees his friends. They are bound to poles in a place much like the one Leo saw when he fell into Chiron's hearse. Around them he sees demons of every make and description. Taunting, striking, torturing, killing them.
Hearing his friend's screams, Leo forces himself upward. Swimming higher and higher. Ignoring the burning in his chest. The throbbing pain in his oxygen starved head. All that matters are his friends, he has to save them, no matter what.
Once again Leo's eyes flutter open. His head still throbs. He is cold and wet and tired. Every muscle in his body hurts, but he is alive.
Rubbing his damp face, Leo looks around him. Once again, he is in a totally different place. All around him he sees, and smells, beautiful flowers. In the distance majestic mountains reach into a beautiful blue sky. The pleasant field is in total contrast to his previous "stops". Its noon sun was a welcome change from the dark and dreary skies of before. Maybe Yomi isn't such a bad place after all.
Touching his sleeveless red T-shirt, Leo notices it's still sop and wet. For that matter, he was still soaked. How long had he been in that lake?
For the first time, Leo realizes there is no lake. The grassy plain stretches all the way to the horizon.
How did he get there?
Rubbing his aching head, Leo lets out a weak, humorless laugh. "This is no quest," he says to himself, "this a bad Quantum Leap episode."
Leo jumps at the voice behind him. Spinning, he sees three incredibly beautiful women staring at him. They had apparently been there picking flowers all along.
"Who are you?" Leo asks suspiciously.
"I am Kaori," a slender Asian woman answers. She was the one who had spoken to him before.
"I am Rynn," a green eyed brunette says.
"And I am Tarryn," a tall black woman says.
Leo is totally taken by there beauty.
"Have you come to pick flowers with us?" they ask together.
"Uh...no, I have to...do something," Leo stammers.
What was it he was supposed to do? Something about his friends. He was supposed to meet them or something.
Rynn walks over and runs her fingers through his wet hair. "Please?" she says.
Leo feels something in the back of his head. A nagging anxiety. But why. These beautiful women were obviously no threat.
"What you had to do wasn't that important, was it?" Tarryn asks, rubbing against him.
As hard as he tries, Leo can't think of what he is supposed to be doing.
"Wait," he thinks, "That's it!" He was supposed to help the girls pick flowers.
Proud of himself for remembering, Leo embraces the three women before him.
Back in the Ninjetti Temple, Kendrix and Dulcea watch through a mystical portal.
"What is he doing?" Kendrix wonders aloud.
"It's worse than I thought," Dulcea explains, "Chiron is using Leo's most primal urges against him. If he doesn't resist, his soul will be lost along with his friends'."
"I have to warn him," Kendrix says, "can you send me in again?"
"Yes, but be warned," Dulcea tells her, "the longer your astral form stays in Yomi, the more difficult it will be for you to return."
Kendrix' expression doesn't waver. "I have to," she insists.
Dulcea looks back toward the portal. "Then I hope you're not to late."
Back in the field, Leo is laying with his head in Tarryn's lap as Rynn plays her fingers over his now bare chest. He smiles happily at the sight of the beautiful women.
"Leo!" a quiet voice calls.
"Huh, Who was that?" Leo asks.
"Leo!" the voice is louder now, and familiar.
"K...Kendrix?" Leo says.
Sitting up, Leo sees Kendrix' ghostly in front of him.
"Leo, You're in danger! You have to remember your mission," she cries.
"What mission?" Leo scoffs.
In a flash it comes to him. He's in Yomi. His friends are in danger. All of Terra Venture is. He has to hurry!
"Sorry babe," he says to Rynn, as he stands, "I gotta go to work."
When Rynn replies, it isn't in the silky voice he's heard before, but a low-pitched demonic roar. "WRONG, BOY!"
The world has changed again. A moment ago, Leo Corbett had been standing in a field of beautiful flowers with three gorgeous women. Now, he stands on a ledge on the side of a black volcanic mountain. The sky above him is red with black rolling clouds. He recognizes the sounds and smells from the last time he was here.
More importantly though, he recognizes the three vile creatures he fought before. Chiron, "Michael", and the hockey-masked man-thing, all are gathered around him.
"Great," Leo says darkly, "I'm back in Hell."
Leo drops into a fighting stance. The time for running is passed. His friends needed his help. He is tired of being chased, beaten, scared, and most of all, tired of this twisted dimension. Now is the time to fight.
Summoning his Transmorpher, Leo smiles at his adversaries, and hits the trigger button.
Leo looks down at himself, in horror. Nothing happened! He can't morph!
"Idiot!" Chiron bellows, "Your Morphing Powers are useless here!"
"KILL HIM!!!" Chiron orders.
Hockey-mask is the first to attack. Rushing Leo, he swings his machete down at the hapless teen.
Throwing a high sidekick to the creature's hand, Leo manages to deflect the blow. Now all he has to do is stay alive.
"Michael" attacks next. No longer holding his knife, the brute simply tries to smash Leo with his powerful arms.
Ducking the blow, Leo decides to take the fight to its source. Dulcea told him Chiron would be solid in Yomi, so it was time to put it to the test. Running at Chiron Leo launches himself into a flying sidekick.
To Leo's delight, his kick connects with Chiron's solid chest. To his horror, the kick does no damage. Actually, it feels like Leo just kicked a brick wall.
Grimacing in pain, Leo tries to back away from the demon, but it's to late. He's grabbed by the neck, and lifted up to Chiron's eye level.
"You play a good game, BOY!" the demon says, "but you never really stood a chance."
"Its not over yet," Leo chokes," I'll..."
"Oh spare me," Chiron interrupts, "and just die."
Spinning, Chiron throws Leo with unholy strength, sending him flying over the cliff!
As Leo sees the ground rushing at him, one thought screams in his head.
"LEO!!!" Back at the Temple, Kendrix and Dulcea watch in horror as Leo is thrown over a cliff.
"No!" Dulcea exclaims, "he wasn't ready!"
"What do you mean ready!?!" Kendrix demands.
"If Leo is to morph, in Chiron's realm, it must be an act of will, not physical action." Dulcea explains.
"Send me in," Kendrix commands, "Now!"
With a wave of Dulcea's hand over the Orb, Kendrix once again dematerializes into the portal.
Back in Yomi, As he falls, Leo is making his final peace. "I'm gonna miss you Mike," He thinks to himself. "Kendrix, I really thought we had something." He feels pain at the thought of never seeing her again.
Even now he could hear her voice calling him.
"Leo, Wake Up!" he hears her say again.
"Wait a minute," he thinks. "KENDRIX!!!" he screams.
Opening his eyes, Leo sees Kendrix really is there, her ghostly form keeping pace with his own falling body. "No!" he thinks, "I don't want her to see me die."
"Leo listen to me," she cries, "You can morph! You just have to believe it. Forget about falling, forget about Chiron, and forget about being scared, just concentrate on morphing.
Kendrix looks down at the ground rushing up towards them. "Oh God, Leo hurry please!"
"Concentrate," Leo repeats over and over in his head, "concentrate, concentrate, concentrate, concentrate!"
Closing his eyes again, Leo focuses on his mission and the people who need him to succeed. Kendrix, put her soul on the line to guide him, John is alone, fighting that Demon Car back on Terra Venture, Kai, Maya, and Damon were have already lost their souls to Chiron. He has to save them. Save them all. All his friends, and the people on Terra Venture.
Like a flood, the images fill his mind and spirit. They fuel his will, giving him a new strength. The time for fear is passed.
Once again summoning his Transmorpher, Leo focuses all his hope, his will, and the memory of his friends into two simple but powerful words..."GO GALACTIC!!!"
This time it works. This time, Leo becomes the Red Ranger. This time he is fully empowered to take on any evil. But there's more.
A raging fire burns within Leo, and it wants out! He doubts he could stop it, even if he wanted to. With a flash of light, the flames engulf him, not burning him, but joining him.
The ball of flames takes the form of a huge lion, mane and tail blazing. With a mighty roar the fire-beast flies skyward, for this creature is on a mission. Its time to find his friends.
Nearby the Rangers, are still being mercilessly tormented by the horde of demons. Electricity, coming from the biggest demon, plays over their bodies. With each jolt the three prisoners scream in pain. Then it stops.
Only Maya's eyes are open to see the great fire beast attack. She sensed it coming, even through her pain.
Now it was here, wreaking vengeance on the demon spawn. The demons unlucky enough to be near it, are instantly turned to ash, their remains blowing away in the firestorm. The others are clawed or mauled by the creature's fiery mouth. When the creature finally fades into nothingness, only now morphed Rangers remain.
Maya is the first to approach the Red Ranger. "Leo?" she asks, doubtfully.
"That's right," Leo says, smiling under his helmet, "I came to take you guys home."
"NOOO!!!" a roaring voice cries from behind them.
Turning, the Rangers see Chiron and his two man-things moving quickly to surround them. Each one now holds its own weapon, Chiron, a huge scythe, Hockey mask, his machete, "Michael, his butcher knife. They're murderous intent is clear, and all look ready to get down to business.
"I've been waiting for this all day," Kai says, "Let's ace these chumps!"
With that each, Ranger chooses his opponent, and all leap into action.
Kai, itching for a fight, takes "hockey mask", leaping into the air and delivering a flying side kick to the monsters chest. "You're not so tough," he yells to the creature as it sails over the edge of the cliff.
Damon attacks "Michael", pummeling the maniac with a storm of super-speed punches. As the creature falls to its knees dazed, Damon turns away, "Well that was easy," he quips.
Behind Damon, "Michael returns to his feet, this time holding a large boulder over his head. Silently he rushes toward the unsuspecting Green Ranger.
Knowing his trap has been sprung; Damon pivots his body to deliver a reverse kick, even as his leg glows with green energy.
"ZEEEEYAH!!!" Damon cries as his kick strikes home.
With an explosion of energy, "Michael is thrown back a good twenty feet before slamming into one of the bone altars. Falling face fist, "Michael" hits the ground with a thud. Jagged shards of bone from the altar protrude from his back like spears.
"That's gotta hurt!" Damon says.
Regrouping, the three liberated Rangers join Leo, who is stalemated by Chiron. Together they attack. As one, kicks and punches strike out, but are blocked repeatedly. Each Ranger searches desperately for a weakness in Chiron's defense, but there is none. In the end they must fall back and regroup.
"Idiots!" Chiron screams, "I said you didn't stand a chance! But you fight anyway."
"We don't back down from your kind, Demon!" Leo shouts back, We'll stop you, no matter what!"
Chiron replies quietly, in a deadly tone, "And the price for trying will be your eternal tormen..."
Chiron is interrupted by a noise over head, a noise like breaking glass, only a thousand times louder. The shattering sound rolls like thunder over the twisted landscape.
Looking toward the noise, the Rangers stare in wonder as the sky cracks like glass and falls into nothingness. From the blackness that is left, a ball of light falls toward them. Its course is deliberate and exact, its pink energy leaving a trail across the darkness. Striking the ground near the Rangers, the ball explodes into a familiar form. Before them stands...
"Kendrix!" Leo yells, shocked.
It is indeed the Pink Ranger. Fully morphed and ready for combat, she joins her friends in facing Chiron.
"Guys listen," Kendrix tells them, "Dulcea said only the Light can destroy Chiron!"
"What, you mean the Lights of Orion?" Kai asks her.
"No way!" Damon exclaims, "Since the Lights chose John to, the six of us have to be together to Power Up."
"How very true," Chiron agrees happily, "It's just to bad your friend met his fate at the hands of my Demon Hearse."
"Oh no, John," Kendrix whispers.
Without warning, a volley of energy blasts strikes Chiron, sending him flying backward.
Startled, all the Rangers look toward the source of the blast. There, standing above them on the mountainside, is the Magna Defender, his armor cracked and smoking.
"Chiron!" John calls, "that first round was to get your attention." John cocks his Magna Blaster. "The next one, is to keep it!"
"But that's not possible," Chiron says stumbling to his feet, "No one can destroy my car!"
"Funny thing about indestructible Demon Cars, is that if you roll one, it just sits there, upside down, looking big and stupid. All I had to do was pop the back door open, while your car gunned its engine and spun its wheels in all its BA glory, and slip through the portal to this dimension."
"In other words," Leo says as John joins the other Rangers, "He crashed your car, then he crashed your party!"
"I do love a good Halloween party," John jokes.
"Let's do it guys!" Leo commands.
Reaching toward the sky, the Rangers are surrounded by a halo of bright blinding light as they shout in unison... "Lights of Orion, Power Up!"
As the light fades, the Rangers are once again outfitted with their golden armor pieces and enhanced Quasar Sabers.
"Oh Hell," Chiron whispers in fear.
Running at the creature, the Rangers hold there Power Claws forward as they begin to glow.
"Power Up Mode!" they shout together.
With a flash, the Rangers become six streams of energy, then coalesce into a single powerful energy bolt stabbing through the air toward Chiron.
The demon screams as the energy tears through him. Falling forward, Chiron explodes in a burst of light that consumes all it touches in the dark realm of Yomi, until only the blinding light remains. Yomi is no more. 11:45 VST, Ninjetti Temple, Mountain Dome, Terra Venture
At the Temple on Terra Venture, Alpha paces nervously as Dulcea looks on. Unable to stand the silence any longer, the little robot turns on the Master Warrior.
"Ay-yi-yi," he cries, "What's taking them so long? John disappeared into that hearse hours ago!"
"I don't know Alpha, I lost contact with them the last time Kendrix went through the portal," Dulcea's voice is calm, but she can't hide her worry.
"I fear we may have to accept the fact that they may have fai..."
Before Dulcea can finish, the Orb levitates out of her hand, and floats toward the ceiling.
"On second thought," Dulcea says.
Before their eyes, the Orb glows bright with multi colored energy. First red, then, pink, blue, green, yellow, then black, and suddenly, the lights explode from the Orb.
Instantly, the bodies of the "dead" Rangers begin to stir. The normal color returns to their skin, and their eyes flutter open. Around the fire, the energy takes the form of three humans. Slowly the glowing figures coalesce into Leo, Kendrix, and John. At last the Rangers were home.
Feeling himself, as if to insure he is all there, Leo looks to Dulcea as Kendrix and John check the other Rangers.
"Dulcea," Leo asks urgently, "Did we do it? Did we beat Chiron?"
Smiling at him, Dulcea nods her head. "You and your fellow Rangers have acquitted your selves well," she tells him, "Chiron will not be returning to this realm again."
"Well that's the best news I've heard all day," Damon says sincerely.
Putting down the Medi-Scanner he has been using on Damon, Alpha pats his friend on the shoulder.
"My scans show no ill affects from your ordeal," Alpha says relieved, "Your all going to be fine."
"Now that's the best news I've heard all day," Kai quips.
"So what dose one do after being resurrected?" Damon asks his friends.
"I don't know about you guys," John says, "but I hear Commander Stanton is throwing a killer Halloween bash."
"Killer?" Maya asks dubiously.
"We'll explain on the way," Kai says smiling as he escorts Maya toward the mouth of the cave.
"You guys wanna come?" John asks Dulcea and Alpha, "It is Halloween."
Dulcea smiles at her young friends. "No, I think you should go and enjoy yourselves," she tells them, "you have earned that right, at least."
Turning the Rangers stroll arm in arm out of the Temple. All smiling, all happy to be alive. They had fought, and won, a great battle, now it was time to enjoy their victory.
Still smiling, Dulcea watches the teens leave as Alpha joins her.
"Will you be returning to Phaedos, now?" Alpha asks.
Dulcea shakes her head as her smile fades. "No," she answers.
"Alpha, there is a great crisis coming," Dulcea tells the robot. "My place is here with the Rangers, until it is past."
Alpha once again feels fear. "Ay-yi-yi," he says, "Can they beat this threat?"
A reassuring smile crosses Dulcea's beautiful face. "These Rangers are the best I have seen Alpha, perhaps the best ever. If they cannot meet this crisis, then no one can.
Turning Alpha prepares to leave the Temple, when Dulcea calls to him again.
"Alpha," she asks, "Tell me about this new Magna Defender."
Alpha turns back to her, dreading the question. He knows that Dulcea
won't like what she hears. And with good reason, if this secret ever
leaked, it could spell the end of the Power Rangers.