Author's Note: Now the conclusion of The Price of Silver. Enjoy the story and remember feedback is welcome. This fic contains some PG level language. Coming Soon: End of the Beginning
Outpost City, Planet Onyx....
The Rangers push their mighty steeds hard as they gallop into the foreboding outpost in search of their friends.
Only a short time ago they came to Onyx to rescue Karone Lanrydan from the forces of evil. It was a mission of mercy that quickly became a disaster. Their rescue plan led them straight into an ambush. Two of their team were captured, and now the rest ride back into the vipers nest to save them. Things couldn't get worse. Right?
Trakeena watches gleefully from atop a nearby building as the Rangers ride through the deserted streets. "Stupid, stupid children," she laughs, "you make it sooo easy. Villamax, release the energy net!"
Below, the Ranger's Tsemus suddenly stop short rearing on their hind legs and baying in protest. Startled, the remaining power teens can only wrestle the alien horses for control.
"What now!?!" Leo demands.
A worried look darkens Maya's pretty face. "Something's not right," she warns.
"Really," Kai says sarcastically, "I wouldn't have gue..."
"AHHHRRRGGGHHH!!!" the Rangers scream in pain as a web of electrical energy suddenly forms around them.
Convulsing under the barrage of energy, the Ranger and horse alike fall to the ground unconscious.
Leaping from her perch atop the building, Trakeena drops twenty feet to land easily along side the heap of twitching bodies. "So easy."
It's late afternoon by the time Karone reaches the great dune that that hides the AstroMegaShip. Having failed to stop her horse from bringing her here, Karone instead decided to find help for new her friends.
Rounding the dune, Karone draws up on her rein and stares in awe at the starship. It's been a long time and the since of dejavu is overpowering. She remembers the all times she tried to destroy this very craft. Remembers coming here as a prisoner, only to become a trusted friend and once again an enemy.
"Andros, where are you?" she whispers sadly. As all the confusing memories rush back, Karone feels a sudden rush of vertigo, and falls unceremoniously to the sand.
"Hey, girl, are you alright?" A voice asks her.
Looking toward the voice, Karone squints in the bright sunlight. She can just make out a tall and powerfully built black man, the sun glinting off his bald head.
Suddenly, Karone shoots up hugging the man and crying in joy. "Oh TJ, I so glad you're here! When you guys disappeared, I thought you wer..."
"Whoa, whoa, lady slow down," a confused Damon says. "Who is this TJ, and where are the Rangers?"
"Oh God, I'm sorry I thought you were someone else. I'm..."
"Your Karone Lanrydan, I'm Damon Henderson, and my friends are missing!" He snaps. "Now, Where are the Rangers!?!" he asks more sharply this time.
Coming back to her senses, Karone recounts the details of her rescue, and the fall of the Phantom Ranger and Magna Defender.
"Damn!" Damon says rubbing his sweaty forehead. "I gotta go after 'em.
"Wait," Karone pleads, "let me come with you!"
"No way, girlfriend. We came here to save your skin, and I wont be the one who drags it back to the bad guys lair," Damon tells her. "Now go inside the ship, have DECA lock all the doors," Damon orders getting slowly on his horse, "and..."
"And what?" Karone asks worriedly.
"Pray I don't fall of this crap factory on the way to town!" With that Damon gallops away holding on to his horse for dear life.
Turning toward the ship, Karone wipes the tears from her eyes and notices a familiar form stepping out of it. "Alpha!?!" she calls. Running to the little robot, tears once again flow down Karone's face. "Oh God, please say its you, Alpha," she says hugging the automaton.
"Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi, It's good to see you Karone! We have so much to tal..." Alpha begins.
"Not now Alpha," Karone interrupts. "I have something important to do." Turning away from Alpha, she looks out over the desert toward Outpost City. "Is the MegaVault still sealed?"
Some time later, six Rangers rest uncomfortably in the old-fashioned jail cell they've been locked in. Across the room, out of reach, their TransMorpers and Battleizers hang on hooks by the door.
"OW!" John shouts.
"Sorry," Kendrix apologizes, "if I had the equipment to set your cracked rib correctly, it wouldn't hurt at all."
"It's okay, really," John insists, "it's just a cracked rib. The ol' Ranger healing factor will fix it up in no time."
As she finishes wrapping strips of torn bed sheet around John's rib cage, Kendrix ties a knot and gives it a sharp tug. "The ol' healing factor won't set a broken bone." She admonishes.
"Ow!" John winces. "At least Mom used to give me a kiss when I got an owwie," He complains playfully.
Leaning back down, Kendrix gives John a quick peck on the cheek. "Big baby."
"She's right Hunter," Mike says from across the cell, "You never could take pain. OW!" He says as Maya massages his sore shoulders. "Be careful, I hit the dirt pretty hard. Some of those bruises are deep."
"I think you'll live," Maya says sarcastically.
Side by side, Leo and Kai sit watching in exasperation as the girls nurse their fallen friends.
"Uh, You guys know I took a massive electrical shock when we were captured," Kai tells them.
"And I hit my head really, really hard when I fell off my horse," Leo adds.
Making a big show of mock sympathy, Kendrix and Maya rush to the Red and Blue Rangers who smile at the attention.
Suddenly, the jail door opens and Damon walks slowly into the room.
"Damon!" Leo says in surprise, "what are you doing here!?!"
Damon looks at them strangely. "I came to rescue you," he says seriously.
"Great," John says, "just grab the Battleizers and..."
"Unfortunately," Damon interrupts, "I got caught." As the door swings completely open, it reveals Villamax and a group of Sting Wingers behind him.
Damon shrugs as he's pushed toward the cell. "At least we're together."
Deep within the bowels of the MegaShip two figures make there way silently to a secret room. One totally absorbed in grim determination. The other consumed with worry.
"Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi, please reconsider, Karone," Alpha pleads. "You don't know what you're doing!"
Stopping in front of a large metal door, Karone turns on the little robot. "Oh yes, Alpha I know," she informs him sadly. "The Rangers had no reason to come here for me, but they did. Now they're caught, and it's my fault. Alpha, I can't take another life on my conscience," she says near tears. "Now help me, or get out of my way."
Shaking his head, Alpha enters a code into the keypad next to the door. "I will always help you, Karone. You know that," he says softly.
Karone smiles at her metal friend. "I know Alpha, I know.
Inside the vault, Karone and Alpha find a small table holding five wristband mounted devices on small mechanical arms. At one corner of the table, almost hidden from sight, rests a cellphone-like device. "AstroMorphers," Karone whispers in awe, "and Zhane's DigiMorpher."
"Zhane," she whispers again. With a smile she remembers the fun loving, and somewhat arrogant Silver Ranger. Then her feelings turn to sadness as she remembers the day the Space Rangers disappeared. Her brother, her friends, her...
"Karone," Alpha repeats, "are you all right?" he asks concerned.
"Uh, yeah," Karone lies coming back to her senses. "What were you saying?"
"I asked which one you would use," Alpha says, "there isn't much time."
Making her final decision, Karone grabs the DigiMorpher and gives the robot an affectionate kiss on the top of his dome. "Don't worry, Alpha," she says smiling, "everything will be fine."
"LET'S ROCKET!" Holding the Morpher the way she had seen Zhane hold it so many times, Karone keys in the morphing code. 2-5-8-0, "Mega."
In a flash of light, a familiar silver and gold uniform and helmet replace Karone's black clothes, and then she is gone.
Walking slowly from the vault, Alpha shakes his head. "I wonder if robots can get ulcers."
Back in the Outpost City jail, the Rangers are enjoying a bountiful dinner.
"Man! I am NOT eating this!" Damon fusses. He raises the lid of his serving dish and grimaces. "Some of this stuff is still moving!"
"First rule of survival, never think about what you're eating," Mike says taking a heaping bite of fried insects and ignoring his brothers gagging noises.
"Good rule," Leo says wiping his mouth. "After eating this, who would want to live?"
"What wrong with it?" Maya asks sincerely. It tastes like Miranite food."
"Try the mollusk with some of the green stuff," John suggests to Leo, then winks at Maya as Leo rushes to a small burlap sack in the corner.
"You know, it's really not so bad," Kai insists, "with a little butter sauce maybe a twist of lemon..."
"Anybody want my rat?" Kendrix asks.
"Dibs!" John, Kai, and Mike call together.
"Uh, if you guys want to finish eating," a voice whispers from the window, "I can come back later."
Startled, the Rangers stare at the Silver Ranger looking in through the barred opening in the wall.
"A Space Ranger?" Leo whispers looking up from his makeshift barf bag. "What the hell are you doing here!?!"
"It's me Karone, I've come to save you. Now move away and I'll blast the wall," she orders.
"Karone!?!" They all say surprised.
"How long have you been a Power Ranger?" Kendrix asks.
"Look, just before the Space Rangers disappeared, they left their AstroMorphers in a MegaVault in the MegaShip. Alpha opened it for..."
"Wait just a minute," John says angrily, "You mean I went through all that crap with Mike's powers, Zordon, and the Zenith Zord to become a Ranger and there were morphers on the MegaShip!"
Suddenly, John notices all present are giving irritated looks. "Sorry," he says meekly.
"Ooookay, now let's get out of here," Karone tells them. "SUPER SILVERIZER, BLASTER MODE!" she commands.
"No wait!" Mike tells her, " You blow that wall, and every monster in town will hear."
"Then what do you suggest," Karone says sharply, "Ranger strength alone can't budge these bars."
"Wait," John interjects, "aren't all Kerovians telekinetic?"
"Yeah," Karone says confused, "why?"
Catching on to John's plan, Leo joins them at the window. "If you can get one of our Battleizers on the wall over there, we can torch this lock."
"But I never really learned how to use it properly." Karone says sadly.
"Oh, just bloody beautiful," John complains.
"Well, telekinesis 101 wasn't exactly a required course at Dark Specters palace." Karone snaps. "But then, I see not getting caught is no longer part of Ranger training."
"Oh yea," John shoots back, "I need advice on avoiding capture from the woman I came to rescue!"
"I'm out, your in," she retorts.
"Enough!" Leo orders, "Can we get out of here now!?!"
"Alright, get back," Karone tells them. "And watch out."
Pointing her finger at the Battleizers on the opposite wall, Karone focuses her concentration on the nearest one, bringing all her will to bear. As first nothing happens. Then...a slight shake of the device. Slowly, it slides toward the end of its post.
"That's right, that's right," John whispers, "bring it to poppa." Moving to the cell bars, He holds out his hands to catch the device.
Inch by inch, the Battleizer nears the post's end, and with one final effort, launches across the room toward John's waiting hands.
"OW, CRAP!" John yells as the Battleizer strikes him square in the forehead. "Damn, you live dangerous," he snaps at Karone as he rubs his latest bump.
"I'm sorry," Karone cries, "I just lost control!"
Silently, each Ranger, Karone included, stifles a giggle, as John enters the laser code into his wrist device. "Wonder if the Avengers need a Phantom Ranger," he grumbles.
"FIRE!" John commands, discharging a blazing beam of light into the cell's lock. Glowing red hot, then white, the lock explodes in a burst of sparks, smoke, and molten metal.
Kicking the door open, Leo retrieves the rest of the Ranger's weapons and passes them around. "Okay guys," he says, " now all we have to do is cross fifty miles of desert, and we're home free."
Looking preoccupied, Maya turns to Leo, "Don't worry, I know where we can get a ride."
At a run down stable near the jail, a familiar band of aliens sit around another campfire.
"I hates Earthers," Midok says drunkenly. "Cost us lots a money. Din' even get no women."
Beside him, Sloat watches the Tsemus locked away in the stables. "We ain't gots no woeman, buts we got Tsemus. An Am still hongray."
"Thatssss right," Slan hisses, "we sssshould at least get a free meal for giving Trakeena the Rangersssss."
"Oh WOW!" a voice cries startling the poachers. "You're the guys who helped catch the Rangers!"
Turning the aliens see a beautiful blonde woman in black clothes sneaking into their camp. Aye! Who you!?! Sloat yells at her.
Karone approaches the group carefully, and puts on her best nervous look. "I.. I'm Karen," she stammers, "I heard how you guys beat the Rangers almos...," she pauses to examine the stable. "Oh WOW, are those the horses they rode!?!"
"Maybe," Midok grunts, what's it to you?"
Karone pulls herself close to the pig man and purrs seductively in his ear, "I would do ANYTHING to ride one. ANYTHING!"
"The lasssssst woman who sssaid that to ussss stole our Tsssssemussss," Slan hisses.
"That's right," Midok bellows. "You wanna ride, you give right now!!!"
"Wellll," Karone whispers, "ooooookay." With that she knees the pig man in the groin, doubling him over in pain. Without missing a beat, she open hand punches Sloat in the throat, stunning him, then spin kicks Slan into the campfire.
As Slan runs off to put out his burning coat, the Rangers amble slowly into camp. "You were supposed distract them, so we would take 'em out," Leo reprimands Karone.
"They looked fairly distracted to me," Karone replies innocently.
"Great, I don't suppose you wanna help us hide them," John says lifting Sloat and dragging him toward the stable.
"I can't do everything myself," Karone jokes.
It's sometime later when Trakeena walks past the stable on her way to torment the Rangers.
Hearing a noise from the stable, Trakeena turns back to investigate. "Whose in there!?!" she demands. "I warn you, I'm in no mood to be toyed wi...AAAHHHGGGHH!!!" Trakeena screams in pain as the stable doors burst open knocking her to the ground.
"'Scuse us!" Leo shouts as he and the other Rangers ride from the barn at full gallop.
Recovering, Trakeena can only watch as the teens ride off toward the desert sands. "No! Not again!" Turning toward the stable, she finds Midok and friends tied up in one corner. "IDIOTS!" she cries as she vaporizes them with a blast from her staff.
Responding to the noise, Villamax comes running sword drawn for battle. "My queen, what has happened!?!"
"That's it!" Trakeena screams with rage. "I want everyone in the desert now. Every Sting Winger, every Piranatron, if you can find Putties, send them to! I want those RANGERS!!!"
As the night sky falls over the landscape, eight desperate riders speed across the desert. Behind them, an army of rampaging Sting Wingers, filling the sky like a plague of locust.
"Leo, we can't outrun them like this, not for long!" Mike calls over the sounds of hoof beats. "I hate to say it, but we may have to stand and fight!"
Leo hears his brother, but is preoccupied with thoughts of another. "Karone," he yells, "if you can morph again, then call your glider and get the hell away from here!"
"No!" Karone cries, "I won't lose anymore friends! If you guys go down, I'm going with you!"
"We're gonna be okay," Kendrix calls, "according to my Navigator, we're about to hit a straightaway that'll carry us right to the ship! We just have to make this next pass!"
Coming through the pass, the Rangers draw their horses to a stop as they look on in horror. Ahead, an army of monsters, mutants, and cyborgs, charge toward them.
"Oh my God, there must be a thousand troops down there!" John yells. "There's no way to get past THAT!"
"Don't forget the Wingers behind us," Mike reminds them.
"Okay, Johnny, you're the big movie buff. You ever see anything like this?" Leo asks urgently.
John fidgets uncomfortably, as everyone looks to him. Then... "I got it! Rio Bravo! John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Rick Nelson are in a situation just like this."
Don't hold back, Man! What did they do!?!" Kai yells.
"They...they..." John thinks hard, and finally snaps his fingers. "Yea! They barricaded themselves in the town jail till the Marshals arrived!"
The group lets out a sigh of collective defeat. "Man! We just broke OUT of the jail!" Damon snaps.
"Funny how that worked out, huh?" John says with a weak smile.
"Okay guys, it's time to get serious," Leo orders. "We can't go back, and their shields won't let us teleport out. But we are NOT gonna die in the middle of this alien cat box!"
"You thinkin' what I'm thinkin' little bro'?" Mike asks.
"I think it's time to ride. LET'S DO IT!" Taking off at full speed, the Rangers aim their charge directly at the center of the onrushing horde.
"Are you sure this is gonna work!?!" John asks Leo.
"It worked on Terra Venture. Now get ready...set...DO IT!!!"
At Leo's command the Rangers call on their TransMorphers, Magna Morpher, and Digi Morpher...
"PHANTOM RANGER POWER!"
Instantly, the teens are morphed, their horses now energized and protected by color coded armor. Where there were eight riders and their horses now ride an incredible fighting force. They are the Power Rangers and...
"Galaxy Horses!?!" the Phantom Ranger says in surprise. "Horses can Morph!"
"We're going through guys," Leo calls pointing toward the advancing riders. "Mike, Johnny, Karone stay behind the rest of us!"
As the other Rangers obey, Leo, Kai, Kendrix, Maya, and Damon all reach toward the ground and then skyward... "LIGHTS OF ORION, POWER UP!" They call out.
"What's happening!?!" Karone calls out as a bright light engulfs them all.
"I don't believe it!" John shouts in joy, "Leo! It's happening again!"
As the light fades, all eight Rangers find themselves wearing Orion armor over their uniforms.
"Looks like the Lights have decided to give us an edge!" Leo calls back.
"POWER UP MODE!" the Rangers shout together. As they ride, they are engulfed once again in light, this time coalescing into a huge bolt of energy that smashes through the approaching forces in a blaze of fire and lightning. Behind them, only charred rubble remains.
Arriving at the MegaShip several minutes later, the Rangers quickly dismount and begin preparations to leave.
"Damon get aboard and prepare to lift off," Leo orders. "Maya get rid of the horses and help Damon. Kend..."
"No," Maya interrupts.
"What?" Leo says surprised.
Maya looks at him sadly. "Leo, if we leave the Tsemus here they'll be killed, or worked to death. There are only a few left on the whole planet! We have to take them with us!" She begs.
"I'm gonna have to agree with Maya, Leo. They saw these horses transform with us. God knows what kind of twisted experiments they'll do if they catch them." John argues.
"Their right Leo, the horses should..." Kendrix begins.
"Okay, okay, I wanna keep 'em to, Leo admits, "Just get them aboard!"
As Kai dismounts he shakes his head at the horses being lead aboard the ship. "I sure hope these guys are housebroken."
Back in the desert, Trakeena and her Sting Wingers arrive to find the remains of her forces. "They did it again," she whispers. "THEY DID IT AGAIN!!!" Enraged Trakeena begins blasting everything in sight, oblivious to the huge ship flying in low behind her.
"Trakeena," Leo's voice calls over the loud speaker. "Thanks for watching Karone till we could pick her up. We'll see ya' later, Buh,bye.
And as Trakeena's tantrum increases, the Astro MegaShip lifts majestically toward the nighttime sky.
Hours later, the Rangers rest in the glider bay as Mike enters the room. "Good news, guys," he says cheerfully, "no sign of Trakeena anywhere. If she tried to catch up to us, she failed."
"Hey, that's great!" Kendrix says enthusiastically. "Now we're in the perfect mood for my toast," She says raising her drink.
"Here's to swimmin' with bow legged women!" John jokes.
Pausing just long enough to give John a playful slap on the shoulder, Kendrix continues. "Here's to our newest Ranger, and friend."
"To Karone," everyone agrees.
Blushing Karone stands up to speak. "I don't know what to say," Karone manages wiping a tear from her eye. "This is the second time a Ranger team has forgiven my past, and opened their hearts to me." Karone looks slowly from Ranger to Ranger. "I would be...honored to join your team."
"The invitation wasn't just for the team, Karone," Leo tells her. "We've become a family. We want you to be a part of it to."
To happy to speak, Karone instead takes the group in a huge hug. And
for the first time in a long while, feels as if she has truly come