“Are you okay,” he asked her after she was retrieved.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she said in relief. “I just lost my footing.”
“Well, you’re not going to ‘slip away’ again, are you?”
“Very funny, Carlos.”
“Okay, you two,” Andros interrupted. “Stop it. We have this entire planet to search.” Ruth and Carlos giggled. They went on. Eventually, they got to a drier area, a meadow, in fact. Just as they got on, a black panther was seen walking along. When it saw the Rangers, it walked straight to them and greeted them. “Are you friendly,” Andros asked.
The panther giggled. It spoke in a female voice. “I’m very honored to meet the Power Rangers, and I’ve heard of the Spice Club. Would you like a tour of this planet? My name’s Ebony, and I know this planet like the back of my paws.” They agreed to go with Ebony, knowing that if Zordon was on this planet, she would know it was he or a prisoner.
But they didn’t go far, for when they just walked in the open of the meadow, they found Astronema with Ecliptor, Darkonda, Elgar and a few Quantrons. A fight got started, and during the fight, Andros and Astronema blown up a tree stump at the edge of the meadow. A shining object was inside the stump, but it was hard to tell what it was in the dust that stirred.
Most of the shouting was completed, and after the dust had cleared, everyone heard a female voice so strict, it stopped the fight, saying, “Hold it! Hold it! Keep it quiet out there! I’m trying to get some sleep in here!” Everyone looked around to locate the source of the voice.
Andros saw the shining object moving; it was perfectly clear that the object was some sort of oil lamp. “What’s that,” he asked, pointing to the lamp.
“That’s a genie’s lamp,” Ebony said. “But I don’t remember which one this is?”
Earl asked, “You mean whoever has it can have any three wishes he wants?”
When that was spoken, T. J. went for the lamp the same time that Ecliptor did. They both grabbed one end of the lamp and fought over who would get it. Suddenly, a female figure floated out of the lamp and shouted over the argument between T. J. and Ecliptor, “Hey, you two bozos! What do think you’re doing? Let go of my lamp!” Everyone was surprised at the being’s authority, except Ebony, who recognized it at sight. It was obvious that Ebony was this being’s pet, or friend, or something of the sort.
“Well, I, uhh...,” T. J. started, but couldn’t find the words to finish.
“Uhh, you see...,” Ecliptor said, also unable to find words to finish.
“Yeah, I see,” the figure shouted. “What I see is some no good fighting!”
Earl quietly approached the figure and asked, “But aren’t you a genie?”
“What if I am,” the genie asked.
“And whoever has your lamp could get any three wishes he wants?”
“Who told you that?”
“You mean it’s not true?”
“I didn’t say it wasn’t true. I just wanted to know who told you.”
There was a sudden silence besides the birds chirping. Jenny quickly said, “Grab the lamp!” She and most of everyone went after the lamp. The genie, with wide eyes, went for the lamp and got it before anyone could find it in the rising dust.
With the lamp in her hands, the genie shouted, “Wait a second! Wait until I see a second! If it’s my lamp you want, you must respect the rules. Rule #1: No fighting!” Everyone was silent again. “Hmm, three wishes. That might be entertaining. We’ll have a competition. Best 3 out of 5 wins!”
“A competition,” Elgar asked.
“Best 3 out of 5,” Andros asked.
Astronema approached the genie with her own authority, and said, “No one treats Astronema like this! Who do you think you are?”
Instead of backing away, like Astronema had planned, the genie got closer and said, “Who do I think I am? Well, my friends call me Genie, but ALL of you will call me Gina!” Everyone silently decided that it isn’t worth the effort trying to overpower the genie, so they all agreed to her terms.
“All right,” Gina announced. “It looks like we’ll get started with the first event of this tournament: The Canoe Race!”
“I’m ready,” Earl shouted, waiting by the starting line in his canoe.
“Where’s Darkonda,” Gina asked.
Darkonda was at the turn of the river, where no one saw him. He was giving instructions to two Quantrons, who were sitting at a machine similar to a bicycle purpose. The “canoe” Darkonda was using actually had a larger “submarine” like area underneath the boat, which was invisible under the water.
Darkonda arrived a few moments later, and said, “Okay, I’m ready. C’mon, let’s go! C’mon, c’mon, I haven’t got all day. Start shooting off the starting gun!” It was obvious he was one of the impatient types.
“Listen, Darkonda,” Gina said. “I’ll make you a deal. I’ll start shooting off the starting gun when you start shutting up your mouth! Do you read me?”
“Uh, yes, Gina.” He opened a small door that connected the canoe with the Quantrons underneath. He said to them, “All right, the starting gun will shoot in a few moments. Start pedaling when it does, and remember: one knock means ‘slow down,’ two knocks means ‘faster.’” Then he closed the door.
The starting gun was sounded. For a while, Earl and Darkonda were tied. Then, Earl was ahead by about 15 feet. Darkonda knocked twice on the door, and he went faster. Darkonda got ahead, and he knocked twice on the door again. In a few more minutes, Darkonda broke the rope that symbolized the finish. With that, he cheered and jumped in the canoe.
Unfortunately for him, he jumped twice, and landed on the door twice. As instructed, the Quantrons kept pedaling, and Darkonda almost fell out of the canoe. He tried to urge them to stop, but the Quantrons kept pedaling. They got out of the river, onto dry land, and went over a cliff because of the pedaling.
“You knuckle-heads,” Darkonda shouted at the Quantrons at the bottom of the cliff. “Why didn’t you stop when I told you to stop?”
One of the Quantrons said, “But didn’t you tell us that...”
“No, no, no,” Darkonda said. “I didn’t tell you; I told you.”
“But you did tell us,” the other Quantron said.
“No, I didn’t tell you; I told you. Now, I’m telling you, do what I tell you when you are told! Is that clear?” Then, Darkonda realized that what he said wasn’t very clear to him. “Oh!” He went back to the others.
Back at the river, Darkonda arrived with the Quantrons just when Gina said, “That makes the Villains ahead of the Heroes, 1 - 0 in the first event!” The Rangers and the Spices started to complain. So did Ebony, who had shown obvious favor in the heroes. “Hold it! How do you know Darkonda cheated? Did anyone see him do it?”
“No,” Ashley said, meekly.
“Oh,” Jenny said, boldly. “That’s all right. We will win at the end because we play the game fair and square!”
Gina approached Ruth and said, “If you aren’t fair, you are a square! All right! Let’s go on with the competition.”
They followed Gina to a wide, two-lane track. Gina announced, “The Valacrause Race!” A valacrause is similar to a go-cart, having only enough room for two. What looks like a pinwheel made of feathers attached to a large rubber band at the back is what starts the valacrause at the beginning. After that, the engine takes over. Lexington and Cassie got to their valacrause, which was a lovely blue color with beautiful different colored stripes, including the colors of the Rangers and a black circle at the front. Cassie sat down in front of the steering wheel, while Lexington wound up the rubber band.
Elgar and a Quantron got in their valacrause, an ugly green color with black stripes. Elgar was holding Astronema’s staff in his hand. When they got to the starting line, Cassie and Lexington noticed that neither Elgar nor the Quantron were doing anything.
“Aren’t you going to wind up your rubber band,” Lexington asked.
“Nah, we don’t need to,” Elgar responded. “All we need is what we got. We have...” But before Elgar could say anything more, Astronema closed his mouth.
“It’s already rewound,” she said, sweetly. “No problem.” Then she turned to Elgar and the Quantron. “Keep my staff out of sight until the race starts, you chowder-heads. And remember, the mines I placed are at the end of track on the right, so stay to the left, right?”
“Right,” Elgar responded.
“Gentle creatures,” Gina said, “start your engines.” Lexington took his place. “Get going!” She waved the flag, and Cassie’s valacrause went immediately. The Quantron lowered the staff and turned it on. Elgar’s valacrause went like a rocket. Where Cassie’s took bumpy parts, Elgar’s glided above the bumps. Where Cassie’s had to make a loop, Elgar’s just went through. Then, with the staff still turned on, Elgar’s was tied with Cassie’s, and was on Cassie’s left.
“This is easy now,” Elgar said. “All we have to do is stay to the left.”
“Right,” the Quantron agreed. But Elgar misunderstood.
“To the right? Oh, okay.” With that, he got behind Cassie and went around behind. They got tied again, only this time, they were at Lexington’s right. Because of his misunderstanding, Elgar went over every mine that Astronema placed. Sometimes, they got ahead because of the mines. Sometimes, they got behind. Just as Elgar’s went upward instead of behind, Cassie’s went through the finish line. The Rangers and the Spices cheered. The score was tied.
Gina confronted Astronema. “Are you sure you didn’t tamper with the track, Astronema?”
“I swear, I didn’t tamper with the track,” Astronema lied. “May the sky fall on me if I’m lying!” At that moment, Elgar's valacrause fell on top of Astronema. Gina was shocked.
“Okay,” Gina announced. “That gives the Villains one, and the Heroes one. Now to go on with the next event: The Pole Vault.” She floated in between two tall poles, with several cuts to serve as holders for the last pole. The last pole was at the lowest cut, which was about 6 yards off the ground. Carlos and Ecliptor were ready to start.
Ecliptor started to mock Carlos. “Ha! I’m the champion at this sort of thing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you leave this event a loser!”
“Oh, yeah,” Carlos asked. “Gina! Put the pole up higher! We’ll just see who’s a loser.” Gina placed the pole about half way to the end.
“Ha,” Ecliptor said. “You can’t make that in a million years!” Instead of returning the insult to Ecliptor, Carlos grabbed his pole and went for the jump. He successfully made the jump, went over the pole without touching it, and landed on the ground gracefully. The Rangers and the Spice went to cheering, especially Ruth.
When the excitement stopped, Ruth went to the semi-humiliated Ecliptor and said, “Not in a million years, huh?” She giggled. “My, how time flies!” Ecliptor looked at Ruth, and he stared at her and her beauty. He couldn’t get over the fact that she was, indeed, very beautiful.
A thought crossed his mind. He wanted to deny it, but her beauty made him unable to deny it: he was in love with her, one of his many enemies! He wondered if there was a way to get the magic Ruth possessed, which was called the Magic of the Universe. Then he, after shaking these thoughts out of his head, grabbed his pole, which was a trick pole that grew longer just at the touch of a small button.
Before he went for the jump, he said, “Hey, genie!”
“Gina to you, Bolt Boy,” she shouted.
“Put that pole up all the way!” Gina did so.
“What are you up to, Candyman,” Hallie asked.
“A world’s record. That’s what.” He went for the jump, and not only did he go over the pole without touching it, but his stance was too powerful, and he landed in a bird’s nest. There were a few chicks, chirping for food, about 4/5 his size. The mother arrived with a worm half as long as he was in its beak. The worm was dropped, and it fell on Ecliptor’s shoulders. As he tried to get it off, the chicks were pecking at him. Eventually, he got away from the nest and got back to the competition.
“All right,” Gina said. “The score is now 2 to 1 on behalf of the Villains. Now it time to go on to the Obstacle Course!” Ruth and Astronema went to the starting line. “On your mark, get set...”
“Just a minute,” Astronema exclaimed when the wind picked up. “I got some dirt in my eye.”
“Well, Astronema,” Gina said. “I got some dirt in my eye, too; and that’s you and your goons!” Taking the insult without saying anything, much to everyone else’s surprise, Astronema got back to the starting line. “All right, on your mark, get set, GO!”
Astronema grabbed onto a vine and swung across a small yet deep gorge safely. Ruth grabbed the other vine, but it broke and she barely grabbed onto the gorge’s edge. She climbed up and ran to catch up with Astronema, who placed her feet in circles similar to tires. When she was done, she placed the last one over a pile of leaves without Ruth knowing.
Ruth stepped in the last circle, and fell into a small hole covered by the leaves. Astronema looked back for a second and gave a grin. “Oh, there’s no doubt that I’ll win now. Oh, Astronema, get ready to own a genie!” Ruth got out of the hole and raced towards Astronema, who looked back and saw Ruth trying to catch up, but Astronema laughed. “Magic Spice is so far behind, even if I walk, she won’t beat me.”
She turned a corner, and saw the finish tape, with everyone else waiting for the victor. “Hey, Power Rangers! Spice Club! Get ready to congratulate your new master!” She gave a hideous laugh. Fortunately for the heroes, the laugh was stopped short when Gina made the finish tape disappear. Astronema fell flat on her face, then looked up and looked around. All she saw were two poles and Gina. “Hey, what’s the big idea?”
“The big idea is that I’ve decided to move the finish tape over to the other side of the frozen lake,” Gina said. The Rangers and the Spices smiled, some of them giggled.
Astronema looked around, but she saw no frozen lake. “What frozen lake?”
Gina leaned beside her, pointed in front of her where the meadow is, and said, “That frozen lake, dummy.” At that moment, the meadow turned into a frozen lake, the trees around the meadow disappeared, and the climate suddenly got a little cooler. The finish tape appeared at the other side, and the lake was too wide to go around.
Astronema gasped. “Hey, you’re not being fair!”
“What do you know about being fair, you foul ball,” Gina asked in a shout. Astronema was about to throw back the insult, when Gina looked at the corner Astronema entered by and said, “Well, well, well, here comes Magic Spice now!” Astronema looked behind her in fear. Sure enough, Ruth was catching up, and she didn't look even a little bit fatigued. “You better get a move on, Astronema, if you know what’s good for you.”
Astronema went to the lake, and stepped on cautiously. She kept on slipping, and could hardly keep her balance. Ruth, however, just slid across. She could didn’t keep her balance very well either, but she was doing a far better job than Astronema was. Ruth arrived at the other side just before Astronema did. Ruth passed through the finish tape, and the heroes cheered. But Astronema didn’t cheer.
“Wait a minute! Wait a minute! I should have won the race!” She grabbed Gina’s point, where her legs would be if she had legs. “You can’t do this to me, you overgrown puff of smoke!”
In response, Gina said, “w-r-o-n-g, WRONG!” At the word “wrong,” Gina pulled herself free, and Astronema started slipping again. This time, she fell on her stomach. “In this competition, I am the ruler, and I’m also the un-ruler. That makes you the unrulee. Frankly, you are the most unruly person I ever met, so I’m returning a favor!” Gina snapped her fingers. Astronema looked below her, and the ice underneath her made a circle. When the circle was complete, Astronema fell into the freezing cold water, immediately after Gina said, “See ya later, violator.”
When Ruth arrived to the others, her friends cheered again. Ebony, who watched each event with extreme attention, was very glad that her personally favorite human had won. She gave her quick licks, and talked so quickly, Ruth could barely understand her. “Oh, Ruth, Ruth, you did it! You did it! Oh, Ruth I’m so happy!”
“Okay, Ebony, that’s enough!” Everyone else laughed, excluding the villains; among them was not Astronema, who just crawled out of the ice.
“So,” Gina said. “This winds up the score 2 to 2. How can I wind up this mess?”
“Serves you right for cheating, Astronema,” Cassie shouted. Among all the Rangers, Cassie was the one Astronema hated the most.
“I don’t see Astronema anywhere,” Jenny said. This was because the frozen lake was at their backs. Astronema approached Cassie and Jenny.
“Neither do I,” Cassie said, boldly. “But if she was here, I’d show her a thing or two!”
“Oh, you would, huh,” Astronema asked.
“You bet I would! Woah!” At that moment, Cassie realized that she was behind them.
“You little worm,” Astronema insulted to Cassie. “I’m going to put you on a hook, and feed you to Divatox’s Piranhatrons, right now!” At that, Astronema started chasing Cassie around Jenny. Jenny remained motionless, shocked and surprised at what’s going on, literally around her. Darkonda laughed at the sight of his shocked wife.
Ebony, who knew that Cassie was a friend of Ruth, started growling at Astronema angrily. She ran and falsely tried to bite her, getting her attention away from Cassie. “Get away from me, you cat, you ... Stay away from me, you vicious beast!” Ebony gave one last snort and trotted back to Ruth in triumph.
“Ooh, Astronema,” Gina said. “You are even cruel to my pets!”
Astronema gazed at Ebony and said, “That feline would growl a different tune if my pet, Scrudly, was here. Wait a minute! That’s it! Oh, Astronema, you clever rascal!” In a few seconds, Scrudly arrived. He was what appeared to be a combination of a cat, a dog, and a bear. His size was about the same as Ebony’s, and so was his intelligence and strength. But speed was not Scrudly’s advantage, and the heroes knew that. “Listen, Gina, why don’t you let our pets determine who gets your 3 wishes, huh?”
“Hey, Astronema, you mean like a race?”
“What’s going on,” Earl whispered. “We know that Ebony could outrun Scrudly.”
“What are you up to, Astronema,” Ashley asked.
“Oh, I’m not up to anything,” Astronema said, sweetly. Ebony started growling at Astronema again, knowing that her sweet talk was a trick. Astronema backed off in fear, but her face was strict. “The trouble is, neither is your flea- bitten prowler!”
An argument started up, but Gina stopped it quickly. “Hold it! Hold it! This might be a competition, but there is to be no fighting, remember? All right, let’s bring the racers over to the starting line.” Ruth walked with Ebony, and she stood beside her. “Astronema! Front and center!”
“Be right there!” She whispered to Elgar and Darkonda, “Are the ‘others’ in place?”
“Oh, you mean the other animals,” Elgar asked. Before he could continue, Astronema covered his mouth, and made sure no one listened. No one had.
“They’re ready, my queen,” Darkonda whispered.
“Astronema," Gina shouted. "Get your overgrown, disgusting trouble maker over here!” Scrudly stood beside Ebony, with Astronema on his other side. “All right. This determines who gets what. Get ready, get set, GO!” Scrudly walked ahead of Ebony, but she started running. Everyone started cheering with Ruth for Ebony, who knew that she could only do her best.
It was a close race. They got tied, then Scrudly got ahead, but he grew tired in no time. Ebony ran past him, as Darkonda took Scrudly and made his replacement run. The replacement got ahead of Ebony, but it also grew tired quickly. Ebony ran past him, as Elgar took him and made his replacement run. He ran past Ebony, who ran faster and faster. They got tied, but Ebony ran through the finish line a few seconds after her opponent did.
Astronema cheered and cheered. Ebony staggered back to Ruth, who said to the very fatigued panther, “Aw, that’s okay, Ebony. We know you did your best, even though my friends and I are doomed.” Ebony forced a smile, because she was too tired to say anything.
Astronema was still cheering when Gina approached her. “Okay, Astronema, what are your 3 wishes?”
“Somewhere in outer space, there are two ships called the Astro Megaship and the Delta Megaship. They have been the ruins of my plans as much as my enemies were. They have to go. I wish for those ships to vanish, forever!” Andros quickly got his scanner, and he was able to pick up the two ships.
“1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4,” Gina said.
There was a pause. All of Andros’ friends looked at him. “They’re gone,” Andros said, looking up from his scanner.
Jenny went to Gina and pleaded with her, “Oh, Gina, please return the ships. Without them, we can’t travel from planet to planet, and...”
“Sorry, Tonfa Spice. A deal’s a deal. Okay, Astronema, you have two more wishes,” Gina said.
“Now, do the same thing to the Red Ranger and the Black Ranger,” Astronema ordered.
Ruth gasped, quickly got up and hugged Carlos. “No,” she declared. “If Carlos goes, I go! If I stay, he stays! I won’t let go of him unless I know that he’s safe in my sight.”
Gina turned to Astronema sharply. “You know you got a wicked mind? At least let Magic Spice go with them.”
Astronema smiled and said, “Hey, it’s my second wish. Only the Red and Black Rangers! Like you said yourself, a deal’s a deal.”
“You got a vicious smile with that wicked mind.” Astronema smiled gleefully. “All right. 7 ... 6 ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1!” At that moment, Andros and Carlos vanished. Ruth, no longer support by Carlos, fell into the grass. For a few long moments, she shed terrible tears. Then she got up, showing her tear-stained face. It was obvious that she turned her mind from grief to anger. She gave a cold stare to Astronema.
“You, you wicked old witch. You’ll pay for this someday, some time” she said. Then she started shouting, “And that time is RIGHT NOW!” She raced for Astronema, who walked backwards back in fear. Ruth was too fast for her rival, and in a while they were both struggling on the ground. Astronema tried to get up, but Ruth was, amazingly, too strong. Ecliptor tried to pick Ruth up, but she kicked him away. Eventually, Ecliptor and Earl were able to separate the girls.
“You can’t tell me what to do,” Ruth snapped.
“I’ll show you a thing or two,” Astronema shouted, trying to lunge for her, but Ecliptor held his mistress tight. Ruth shoved Earl off of the bear hug that restrained her, and she went to the place where she and Carlos stood before he vanished. She began to weep again.
“You better be careful what you wish for next time, Astronema,“ Gina warned, who found the fight, surprisingly, amusing. “You’re two wishes has already caused too much trouble for this planet to bear.”
“You had it in for the Black Ranger that bad, didn’t you, Magic Spice,” Astronema asked, now released from Ecliptor’s protective grip. Ruth looked up at Astronema angrily, but said nothing. She didn’t even get up. She stared at the ground with bitter tears again. Everyone was surprised that she did nothing.
“All right,” Gina said. “You have one final wish.”
“At last. I, Astronema, am master of the Power Rangers and the Spice Club!”
“C’mon, c’mon, what’s your last wish?”
“The Red and Black Rangers, the Astro and Delta Megaships all gone forever. Oh, how I wish I could see the looks on their terrified faces right now!” Ruth perked up, lifted her head, and she gasped with hope. She realized what Astronema had just said.
So did Gina, who said calmly, “You’re wish is my command.”
“8 ... 9 ... 10. They’re all back again!”
“No, no, no. Wait a minute. Wait a minute!” But it was too late. The ships were picked up by the scanners again, and Andros and Carlos returned. Carlos and Ruth hugged each other as if they would never let go.
“Well, that’s it for the Villains. Now, for the Heroes, you can have my pet panther, Ebony, for trying so hard and so fairly.” When Ebony heard that, she rushed to her new masters. And she knew that there were more friends where they came from. And Ebony was the one that separated Ruth from Carlos, as she licked Ruth’s happy and laughing face.
“Well, that’s it,” Gina said, with the lamp in her hands. “I’ve done my genie bit. Now I’m going to catch some Z’s.”
Astronema was shocked at her mistake. She even tried to beg with the genie. “No, wait. That really wasn’t my last wish.”
“Ciao, you turkey.” With that, Gina disappeared into the lamp, which now seems to have levitating powers of its own.
“No, wait, I get another wish. I demand a refund!” Astronema didn’t know where she was going, so she fell in a river, and she swam for the lamp, even though it was too high up. She didn’t know where she was swimming to, and she fell down a waterfall. The Rangers and the Spices stood by the river and looked down the falls. Astronema’s henchmen were already on their way to save her.
“Umm,” Hallie started. “Don’t you think we should rescue her?”
“Rescue her,” Cassie asked, almost laughing.
“Candy Spice,” Ruth said, “you’re so sweet you make my teeth ache!”
Everyone laughed at this, and they went back to the ship to see if Alpha and
the others were okay. As for Gina, who knows when they might come across
again? Maybe in a few weeks, maybe in a year, maybe when the Rangers are
retired, maybe never. Who knows?