Several weeks have passed since Ruth joined the Spice Club. One morning, Ruth wasn’t even awake yet, but everyone else was on the bridge. They got up very early in the morning to discuss the day they are planning for, Ruth’s birthday. They were planning something very special for her.
“A surprise party,” Hallie asked in a scream.
“Yes, Hallie,” Jenny said, in a whispering tone. “A surprise party.”
“With all the trimmings that she likes?”
“Yes, Hallie, all the trimmings that she likes.”
“A birthday cake, presents from everyone, games of all kinds...”
“Do you want to arrange the party,” Cassie asked.
Everyone was surprised at Hallie’s response. “No, too much work.” No one could help laughing. Even Aracula giggled.
“That’s why we got 37 of us to work on it,” Jenny teased.
“Well, since Ruth isn’t awake yet, it’s easier to discuss about her birthday party,” Andros added.
“Remember, Deca,” T. J. started. “Do not tell Ruth anything about what we discussed or what were planning. It’d ruin the surprise.”
“Acknowledged,” Deca stated.
Carlos volunteered to go and wake Ruth up. He went into Ruth’s quarters. The room was very beautiful. There were 2 shelves containing books about magic, and 2 more containing mystery books. There were tens of frames containing pictures of Ruth and her parents on the walls, on top of the shelves, and on her dresser. Her parents resembled Ruth in many ways. Also, on her dresser was a vase of pretty white roses.
Carlos turned to Ruth’s bed. The pillow sheet was a deep purple. The blanket was a light lavender with patterns of purple irises, blue violets, and white and lavender roses. Her light brown hair was in two long braids, in white scrunchies. A white rose was tucked in her hair, out of the braids’ way. Her bed sheets were also white. The carpet was a pretty shade of blue. White, purple, and blue were her favorite colors.
“Hey, Ruth, rise and shine.” Carlos knelt beside her bed and gently shook her. She woke up, but kept her eyes closed and decided to turn around in her bed. After she did that, Carlos was surprised. “Hey, beautiful, time to wake up,” he said as he tapped her shoulder. In response, Ruth grabbed his wrist.
With a loud, “Hee-yah,” she pulled him to the other side of her bed, where they were face to face. Carlos shouted in surprise and fear. Ruth laughed. “Did you really think I would make it that easy for you, Carlos,” asked a wide-awake Ruth, with a warm smile on her face and a giggle in her sweet voice.
“You still wear that rose, Ruth,” Carlos asked.
“It’s one of many replacement roses, and I’ll always wear them, Carlos. The rose’s presence in my hair symbolizes how long I will care for you. Carlos, do you know what today is?” Carlos pretended that he didn’t know, and felt ashamed that he had to lie to her. Then, he decided that he can conceal the surprise without telling a lie.
He said, “Well, it’s not Tuesday.” Ruth giggled.
“No, Carlos, you silly boy, today is September the 10th. Tomorrow is my...”
“And what a nice day it is,” Carlos exclaimed. “You are so beautiful, you don’t need to dress into anything nice. I’ll go to the bridge while you get dressed, okay?” Without waiting for an answer, he left the room and thought about how humiliating he spoke. Ruth was very confused about Carlos’ strange behavior.
She got up and dressed into a light blue blouse and a long, lavender skirt. She removed her white rose and placed her hair in a partial ponytail, held by a white scrunchy. She repositioned the rose into her hair, this time in front of the scrunchy, making it look like the rose was keeping her hair in the ponytail. Then, she left for breakfast.
“So, Magic Spice is having her birthday,” Ecliptor asked to himself, after finding out what they were planning. “I know a way to add another surprise for her.” Ecliptor didn’t know it, but Darkonda was listening to Ecliptor speaking to himself. For a while, Darkonda had the suspicion that Ecliptor was in love with Ruth and her magic. Ecliptor worked out his plan, and said to himself, “I only need to wait for Magic Spice to be alone.”
He didn’t have long to wait. Ruth asked everyone on the ship what the day it was, and everyone responded in a similar way that Carlos did. Ruth got so upset in thinking that everyone forgot about her birthday, she went down to KO-35’s surface for a while. She walked around, confused by everyone’s actions.
Suddenly, she heard something moving around her, and wondered what was going on. It sounded like quick footsteps. She looked around, but saw nothing suspicious. She hated being sneaked up by her friends, much less her enemies.
Soon after that, her mouth was covered by a cloth, and her eyes were covered by another cloth. She tried to struggle, and she tried to scream, but both actions were futile. Something dragged her away and disappeared with her to another planet surface.
When Ruth regained her consciousness a few hours later, she was shocked to find herself in the body of a swan. She wanted to escape, but several Quantrons and Ecliptor were with her at a pretty lake on different planet surface, one she has never seen in her life. A Quantron was offering her bread crumbs, and Ecliptor approached her without entering the water.
“Now, don’t let my little spell make you sad, Magic Spice. It doesn’t even last a whole day. When the moon comes up...” Ruth saw the moon coming up, water was magically splashed around her, and she was transformed to a human. “And that’s how it works, every night. You have to be on the lake, of course, and when the moonlight touches you wings...” He paused for a minute. He saw that her back was turned to him. “Now, Magic Spice, I want to make it clear that none of this is giving me any pleasure! Well, maybe a little bit, but what I really want are your magical possessions.”
“Take them, then,” Ruth snapped, turning sharply at him. “You have enough power.”
“Nah, I tried that already, Magic Spice. ‘When you capture something, you spend your life fighting to keep it,’ I always say.”
“Well, I knew that the pain I gave you several weeks ago wasn’t that bad. I knew that you wouldn’t be half-blind for a millennia.”
“The eye still hurts.”
“Surely, you would hate me because of the pain I gave you.”
“I would never hate you, Ruth.”
She turned to him in surprise. That was the first time her called her by her name. Even though it wasn’t her genuine name, it was still her name. “Hmm, let me try something,” Ruth said, before banging on his hard and stiff chest. “I thought so. For a while, I went to thinking that you were going “soft and gentle” on me.” She turned her back to him again.
“Very funny. But, if I wed the only heir to the Magic of the Universe, we can rule with our powers combined, legally husband and wife. You know...”
“Never,” Ruth shouted, and she started to run. She was surprised that neither Ecliptor, nor any of the Quantrons were following her. Ecliptor told her why.
Before she could take another step, Ecliptor said, “Where are you going? As soon as moonlight leaves the lake, you turn back into a swan, no matter where you are. And no communications or teleportations can occur here, except for what I do and allow.” When Ruth realized that she must stay at the lake if she wants to be human every night, she began to sob. At that, Ecliptor and the Quantrons left.
“Has anyone seen Ruth,” Carlos asked. He poked his head in the SimuDeck, where the girls were planning Ruth’s party. “I’m beginning to get worried about her.”
Jenny look up and said, “Not since she left to be by herself. Deca, is Ruth still on KO-35?”
Deca’s answer startled them all, “No, she disappeared from the planet surface this afternoon.”
Hallie tried using the rings, but that was heard was a static. Jenny turned to Carlos, and said, “You better get the boys to the planet, and look for clues; let us know if you find anything. We’ll stay here a while longer. We still have more decorating to do.”
“Okay,” Carlos said, and her went to the abandoned funeral parlor where the Spices once lived. In no time, the boys were on KO-35, searching. Everyone kept calling her name. There was no response, female or otherwise. It was difficult to see, since it was night time, and their lights only lasted for a certain distance.
While searching, Earl got lost, and was captured by some Quantrons. He tried to break loose, but there were too many of them. They disappeared. Meanwhile, Carlos, Andros, and C. K. had gone into the park that Ruth walked around before she disappeared.
“There’s something familiar about this place,” Andros said. Carlos, eager to find his missing love, was not paying attention to Andros, and kept on looking. He saw something white a few yards away from him.
He picked it up, and shouted, “Hey, guys, look!” They all looked, and Carlos said, “This is Ruth’s rose. I’d know it anywhere. It was never out of her hair for more than a minute.”
“Now I know this place,” Andros exclaimed. “This is the park where my sister and I played, the day that...” Lost in his sad memories about his sister, he couldn’t bring himself to finishing his sentence.
Carlos, knowing that Andros was angry at him for saving him from Ecliptor while he was searching for his sister, Keron, didn’t want to add in the conversation. He was afraid Andros would get mad at him again. As if he was reading his mind, Andros tried to comfort Carlos by patting his shoulder. “Not to worry, we’ll find her, and I’m not mad.”
Carlos was thinking about who would be cruel enough to take Ruth away. Then, he remembered that during a minor battle, Ecliptor began to sweet talk Ruth. She was as disgusted towards him as Jenny was to Darkonda, once. He also remembered that after Ecliptor had seen her, he didn’t attack as ruthless as before.
As if the answer came to him, bit by bit, Carlos exclaimed, “Ecliptor!” Andros and C. K. looked at him, confused...
Night and morning passed. The next afternoon, Alpha exclaimed to the Rangers and Jenny, “I’m picking up a transmission. I think it’s Ruth, but I’m not sure. It has Ecliptor in it, though.”
Carlos, with extreme attention, told Alpha, “Bring it up, then!”
The screen showed Ecliptor at a window above Ruth’s head. He tossed some red roses to Ruth’s swan body, although only Ecliptor and Ruth knew that she was the swan. She was in a combination of a well and a dungeon, with several chains around her, but not one was on her.
The roses floated around her, as he said, “It gives me great pain to lock you up, but one’s life is always full of tough decisions. And if you do escape tonight, the spell will be broken. You understand, don’t you?” In response, since she was unable to speak to him, Ruth flapped her wings in anger and frustration, splashing Ecliptor’s face. After he wiped the water away, he saw Ruth picking up one of the roses in her beak and tearing it apart as best as she could.
“Oh, you’re mad at me again. Dag-nabbit!” He slammed his fist so hard that the echo lasted for several seconds. “I can’t do anything right.”
Ruth looked up at him, as if she wanted to say, *You don’t have to tell me that.*
“Well,” Ecliptor said, “I can’t leave you like this. If you’re not happy, I’m not happy.” He pondered. “I know! From what I heard, your friends are planning a surprise for you. If you can’t go to the surprise, then I’ll bring the surprise to you. Now, the first thing you’ll need is ... a man.” Now, he had Ruth’s attention.
“Your lover is busy, of course,” Ecliptor continued, “but I think I can arrange a substitute.” At that moment, a Quantron went through the door, dragging Earl with him. Ruth did her best to gasp, but she was a swan, not a human. The Quantron tried to push him in, but Earl did his best to resist.
“Poor Boxer Spice,” Ecliptor said. “He got lost during a search.” Then, the Quantron kicked Earl in the dungeon, and Earl sank in the water. Knowing that Earl couldn’t swim, Ruth quickly went after him, grabbed his shirt with her beak, and guided him to one of the chains, for his support.
“Ecliptor,” Earl shouted. “Get me out of here!”
“I would love to stay and chat,” Ecliptor said, “but if I don’t leave now, I’ll be late.” He looked at Ruth. If she had facial expression, she would have given him a stern look. He knew what she was trying to do, and said, “Don‘t give me that look, Magica! You had to be one of them, didn’t you? You had to risk your life for your friends to be one of them, didn’t you? Well, that’s fine with me! JUST FINE WITH ME!!!” He slammed the window shut, and that echo lasted twice as long as the other echo did. Ruth flew out of the water, and went to the door, but she found that it was locked. The screen was turned off.
“What would Ecliptor want with a swan,” Cassie asked.
“Wait a second,” Carlos said. “Alpha, do you have that transmission saved?”
“Bring up the last part, again.”
“I would love to stay and chat,” Ecliptor said again, “but if I don’t leave now, I’ll be late. Don‘t give me that look, Magica! You had to be one...”
“There,” Carlos said quickly. “Stop! Did you guys hear that? He called her ‘Magica’. There is only one person that Ecliptor gave that nickname to, and that’s Ruth.”
Ashley couldn’t believe what thought just crossed her mind. “Are you suggesting that the swan is actually Ruth,” she asked in disbelief.
“Well,” Jenny said, “whether Ruth is the swan or not, we have to get Earl out of there.”
“Ruth’s pets have been teleported outside the dungeon,” Deca said. After the Rangers morphed, they all arrived at the dungeon with Jenny. Jenny went to look for a door. Since Ruth was not present with her pets, their language was very confusing to the Rangers. But they knew that Shelly was more excited about getting Ruth out than Feather was.
“I’ve got it, an idea! A spectacular idea! A large, colossal idea,” Shelly exclaimed.
“Sounds big,” Feather replied with sarcasm.
“Listen! Water leaks into the dungeon, right? Well, if there’s a leak, there must be a hole. We’ll find the hole, make it bigger, and ... she’s loose!”
“I think you’re forgetting three things, Shelly. One, I can’t swim; two, that won’t get Earl out; and three, there are crocodiles in that moat!” True enough, there were 3 crocodiles that would have given wicked smiles if they could.
“Don’t worry,” Shelly said. “Here’s my plan.” She started to whisper in Feather’s “ear”. When Feather heard her part of the plan, she flapped her wings in fear. The Rangers knew that she didn’t like her part of the plan, whatever it was. “Oh, come on,” Shelly said. “I’m doing the more dangerous part than you are. What are you worried about?”
“My life! That’s what.”
In several minutes, the Rangers saw the animals’ plan in effect. Feather was distracting the crocodiles, while Shelly was under the water, searching for the hole. Meanwhile, Jenny went back to the others, telling them that she found the door. They went to door and slowly, tried to blow the door up. All, that is, except Carlos. He was just too anxious about Ruth.
After Shelly broke through, Ruth tried to convince Earl to come with her. But being in the water was enough to scare him, much less travel under the water.
The same time that Shelly and Ruth escaped, the door was blasted open and Earl was free. The Rangers and Jenny went back to Carlos, who was hugging Ruth, a human with the spell broken, just as Ecliptor said. Carlos removed something white from his pocket. Ruth gasped when she saw her rose again, and Carlos placed it gently back in her hair.
That very evening, Ruth was blindfolded and led down the hallways of the Astro Megaship by Carlos. She was wondering what everything was all about. They entered the SimuDeck. The simulation was a large room filled with Ruth’s favorite colors, purple, white and blue. Everyone was in it, including Alpha. When Ruth arrived, the cloth was removed, and she gasped at what she saw. There was a large banner, saying, “Happy 18th Birthday, Ruth.”
“Wow,” she exclaimed. “You guys did remember after all!”
“How could we ever forget one of our favorite times of the year, September the 11th, the birthday of a great friend,” T. J. asked. The cake was soon eaten, and the games were played by the ones who were not offering gifts at the moment. Most of the boys gave her either mystery or magic books.
Spinal had no idea what to give, so he made a card, with C.C.’s help, saying, “Roses are red. Violets are blue. Someone is cute. That would be you.” Ruth giggled at the card’s words, and kissed Spinal’s cheek softly. She said, “Oh, Spinal, you’re sweet.”
About half of the girls gave her jewelry of all kinds and jewels; necklaces, rings, watches, earrings, bracelets, with either diamonds, amethysts, or sapphires. Most of the other half gave her clothes of all her favorite colors.
Earl, Cassie, Ashley and Hanim saved up their money to get Ruth their present. In a large box with holes, there was a card saying, “In fond memory of our last adventure, from Earl, Ashley, Cassie, and Hanim.” Ruth opened the box, looked in it, and laughed. She gently picked up a swan in its middle ages. Everyone took one look at the swan, and laughed, for everyone knew about Ruth’s spell as a swan.
“I shall give you the name ‘Esther’, for your beauty compared with other swans is like comparing a bright star and a dim one. And that was once my previous name.” In approval, Esther flapped her wings and flew around the room gracefully. Then, she landed in front of Shelly and Feather to “talk”.
Ruth counted all of her presents. “Let’s see, 4 gave me one. And 7 ... 12 ... 19 ... 24 ... 31 ... 35 ... 36 ... 37...“ She found that she had a present from everyone, except Carlos. “Carlos,” she said in confusion. “You would be the first one I’d expect a present from, but the last one I’ll receive one. Why?”
“Because,” Carlos said, “I wanted to save the best for last.” When everyone heard that, they stood silent and still. “Close your eyes, and relax.”
She obeyed, but she couldn’t help smiling and wondering what he would do. His hands touched her cheeks, and they went into a passionate kiss. He removed a small box from his pocket when she opened her eyes again. He opened it, and there was an engagement ring in it. The girls gasped, including Ruth; the boys smiled, including Carlos.
She looked at him, and said, “When?”
After hearing that, Carlos gave a broad smile. He thought, *I didn’t even have to ask her!* He asked, “How about ... this December?”
“That’s fine. What day?”
“A week before Christmas?”
“There would be too much planning at that time. How about, a week after Christmas. That would be New Year’s Day!”
“What about New Year’s Eve? Then we could spend the night, thinking about our wedding at the turn of a year.”
“Carlos, you silly boy,” Ruth said. They went into another passionate kiss and they fell on the floor. Everyone laughed, as they got back to the chairs they sat in. Then, he slipped the engagement ring on her finger, and everyone applauded.
Author’s note: Today is my birthday. I’m 16, but I just wanted to let you know. I’m not expecting a party from you guys; I‘d just like to thank everyone for reading my stories that included Ruth, and I’d like to thank Crypt for allowing me to write stories along with her.