“And these are our ever-famous jump tubes,” Jenny said to her mother. “This is the synthetron. We make whatever kind of food we want.”
She reached into the synthetron and pulled out a mouth-watering, juicy steak. “Chow time.”
“I’m not hungry,” Astronema sighed. “I feel terrible. Will your friends be able to forgive me for all the terrible things I’ve done?”
“Well.....yeah, they should be able to,” Jenny said.
“The more important question is, will YOU be able to forgive me? I mean, I can never forgive myself for trying to destroy my own daughters. I’m glad that you were able to defend yourselves.”
“Well, if you join the family, I can forgive you.”
Astronema smiled and hugged Jenny.
“But Mother....” Jenny began. “Do you still like Spinal?”
“Well.....yes. He’s adorable,” Astronema said. “I just hope he’ll accept me now.”
“Well, it might take some time. He can’t really forgive as easily as others. I don’t think he’s even forgiven Justin for accusing him of being evil.”
Astronema sighed sadly.
“Karone, please report to the bridge,” Deca called. “The other Rangers would like to see you.”
“Uh-oh, here goes nothing,” Astronema mumbled.
She and Jenny walked to the bridge together.
“Hello there, all you happy people,” Jenny called.
“You wanted to see me?” Astronema asked.
“Yeah. We’ve been talking.....” Carlos began.
“And we’ve reached a really important decision,” Ashley added.
“Based on your actions, we decided that there was only one thing to do,” T.J. said.
Astronema gasped, afraid that they were going to toss her out.....or worse.
“And that is to make you an honorary Power Ranger,” Cassie concluded, holding out a Megaship uniform and communicator.
Astronema gasped again, this time in surprise.
In the Dark Fortress, Darkonda was talking to Dark Specter.
“Is it done?” Dark Specter asked.
“Mission accomplished,” Darkonda replied. “Ecliptor will never again forget that his allegiance is only with you, Dark Specter.”
“Listen closely. No one kidnaps Astronema without paying the price.”
Karone entered the bridge with her uniform on. Now she looked like a normal woman. Even the “Astronema” hairdo was gone. Her hair was short and blonde. Everyone was stunned. Karone looked incredibly young. No one would be able to tell that she was Jenny and Hallie’s mother. Karone looked younger than she was, while Jenny appeared to be older than she was. In fact, Jenny may even look older than Karone!
“You look great!” Cassie said.
“And different,” Jenny added.
“Thanks,” Karone replied shyly.
“Oh come on, step inside!” the Cryptkeeper called. “Show everybody your new look!”
“It’s going to take me a while to get used to this,” Karone said. “It’s a totally different life for me.”
“I know what you mean, Mother,” Jenny said. “I had a hell of a time being evil myself.”
Suddenly, the Rangers realized that the Megaship was on a collision course with an asteroid. Quickly, the Rangers veered the ship away.
“That was too close to be an accident!” T.J. cried.
Dark Specter appeared on the monitor. “You have something that belongs to me!”
“What!?” Jenny cried. “My mother belongs to no one. And she’s not a ‘something!’”
“And guess what?” the Cryptkeeper added. “Your asteroid missed us, pal!”
“Of course. It’s headed for Earth,” Dark Specter told him. The image disappeared.
“He’s right, everybody!” Alpha called. “You’ve got to do something!!”
“We’ll blast it into a million pieces,” Andros said.
The Megaship moved really close to the asteroid and fired all of its lasers on it. Nothing happened.
“It didn’t work!!” Cassie cried.
“We’ll have to get closer,” Andros suggested.
“Let’s go!” C.C. cried.
The Rangers and some of the Spices started out of the bridge with several detonators.
“To the asteroid!” Hallie cried.
“Come on, Spinal, you’ll miss the fun!” C.C. grabbed Spinal’s wrist and began to drag him out.
“Wait!” Karone called. “Let Spinal stay. I want to speak to him......alone.”
Spinal’s eyes glowed brightly. After his previous experiences with Astronema, he had no idea what to do or say about Karone.
“Go ahead, Spinal; it’s okay,” Andros assured him.
“Well......okay,” Spinal mumbled, his voice trembling.
The Rangers and Spices left the bridge, leaving Karone and Spinal alone on the bridge. Spinal sat in a chair while Karone sat next to him.
“Spinal......I know this is a big shock for you,” she said.
“You can say that again,” Spinal interrupted.
“Spinal.......I don’t expect you to feel the same way about me as I feel about you,” Karone continued. “I just want you to know that......I’m sorry. And I hope that someday you’ll believe that I don’t want to hurt you. I’ll always love you.”
“Please.....call me Karone.”
“Karone.....” Spinal muttered. “Karone......that’s kind of pretty.”
Karone smiled, then gently placed her hand on Spinal’s shoulder. “I’ll make this all up to you.”
“You don’t have to,” Spinal told her. “Perhaps I’ve been overreacting.”
Karone chuckled, then gently kissed Spinal’s cheekbone. Spinal only looked at her, stunned.
“Well, I’d better get down to the asteroid; they might need me,” he said.
“Please be careful, Spinal,” Karone said.
Spinal proceeded directly to the red jump tube. “Look out below!!” he called as he dove through.
On the asteroid surface, the Rangers dug several detonators into the ground while the Spices held off the Quantrons. Thankfully, it didn’t take long.
“It’s done!” Andros called. “We’ve only got a few seconds to get out of here!!”
“Sayonara, suckers!!” Jenny called.
They reached the Megaship and watched the explosions all over the asteroid.
“Look, it worked!” Andros cried.
“No it didn’t!” Carlos cried.
He was right. The asteroid was still whole and as deadly as can be.
“Well, I’m out of ideas,” the Cryptkeeper sighed.
“I have an idea,” Karone said, sitting in the chair at the side of the bridge. “Dark Specter sent that asteroid to hit Earth. I can get into the Dark Fortress and reprogram it.”
“No, I can’t let you,” Andros said. “I practically spend my entire life looking for you, and I’m not going to lose you again!”
“It might be the only way to stop it,” Karone told him.
Andros sighed. “All right.”
Karone looked directly at Spinal. “Wish me luck.”
Spinal nodded. The other people could almost see tears in his eyes. Karone left the bridge.
Karone put on her Astronema look and snuck into the Dark Fortress. She had a small headset acting as a communication channel.
“Everything seems quiet,” she said to the others. “Okay, I’m at the computer.”
She tapped a few buttons and an image of the asteroid targeting the Earth appeared.
“I found the asteroid,” she announced. “Now to--”
“Astronema!” a familiar voice demanded.
Astronema gasped and turned. “Ecliptor.....it’s you.”
Ecliptor had a new look. His left arm was now all metal, as well as several metal pieces on several areas of his body. He had a red spot on his chest, and an yellow-orange rim around his eye. “Yes, Astronema, it is me......and I’m better than ever.”
“What did they do to you?” Astronema asked.
“The same as will be done to you, my princess.” Ecliptor advanced on Astronema.
“Ecliptor, don’t!!” The headset fell to the floor.
“Karone!” Andros cried.
“Mother!” Jenny cried.
Both stood looking distraught.
“Her signal has been cut off,” Alpha said.
“That’s it!” Jenny cried. “I’m going to go reprogram that asteroid and find Mother.”
Jenny flew through space on her galaxy glider. She snuck up on a Velocifighter straight ahead and leaped onto its tail. The Velocifighter flew inside the Dark Fortress, where it landed with the signals from the Quantrons. When the coast was clear, Jenny hopped off the Velocifighter and hid behind some crates.
“Elgar, keep your eyes open!” Darkonda called. “Lock the hatches and put the Quantrons on high alert. The Rangers and Spices will be coming after her!”
“You got it, boss,” Elgar replied. “Trusty old Elgar has it under control. Nobody’s gonna set foot in here while I’m around.”
“They’d better not. I’m relying on you.” Darkonda left.
Jenny attacked a Quantron and took its armor. Then she walked casually.
“Hey you!” Elgar cried. “Come here.”
Jenny approached him nervously.
“Yeah, rumor has it that those Rangers and Spices could be snooping around here. So keep your eyes peeled.”
“Okay, carry over....I mean on. You know what I mean,” Elgar said. “Now get outta here, you little knucklehead.”
Jenny skipped away, trying to hold in her laughter.
“What a good guy over there,” Elgar muttered as he walked on. “Hmm, wonder what’s for lunch?”
Jenny hid behind a crate, removed the Quantron helmet and laughed out loud to herself.
“That guy is funny!!” she squealed.
She wandered around the Dark Fortress and found the main computer. She opened a communication channel to the Megaship.
“Wow. This place seems so deserted all of a sudden,” she said.
“Be careful,” Spinal told her. “That doesn’t mean that there’s no one in there.”
“You’re right. It’s so spooky. Let’s see....” Jenny found the computer and began working on it. An image of the asteroid’s direction appeared on the screen. However, access was denied without a password. So Jenny dug up the password hint: “Dark Specter’s ultimate mission.”
“Yuck! That’s a broad clue.....” Jenny thought. “There are at least a million possibilities.” She started typing every guess she could think of. “Universal conquest? To drain Zordon of his powers? Oooh, I know! To release all hell on the good and decent!”
“Ahh, the hell with it!” Jenny growled. “Domination!”
“Whoa, it worked!” Jenny went in and reprogrammed the asteroid to fly away from Earth. “Not only will I reprogram the asteroid, but I’ll also change the password so that no one will be able to re-reprogram it.”
She pondered about the new password. She needed something that was difficult to spell. “I know! Necronomican!”
“Oh great...” After another moment of thinking, Jenny typed in her clue.
“The Power of Spice.”
“Mission accomplished!” Jenny told her friends.
“Great,” the Cryptkeeper said. “Now you’ve got to get out of there!”
“Wait a minute. While I’m here, I might as well look for Mom.”
She tore off her Quantron disguise, moved away from the computer and searched for Astronema. However, she found herself lost.
“This place is like a labyrinth!” she cried. “How can I get out of here?”
She walked through some sort of hallway when she heard an odd tapping sound. She paused and gasped.
“What was that!?”
Seconds later, something grabbed her shoulder. In response, Jenny threw her elbow back, punching the Quantron behind her. Before she could make another move, several more Quantrons grabbed her arms. She struggled furiously as they dragged her down the hall.
“Let me go!!” she screamed.
The Quantrons dragged her into a room with a strange chair in the center. They forced her onto the chair and strapped her arms and ankles down. They lowered the back of the chair to a reclining position. Jenny squirmed against the straps as Darkonda came into the room. Jenny looked up at him and gasped.
“Comfy?” Darkonda asked sweetly.
“Let me out of here!!!” Jenny demanded. “What do you think you’re doing!?”
“Oh, you are feisty, my dear. You see, I knew you were in pain when you saw your mother’s fate. I just want to help you. When I’m through, it’ll all be perfect. I want everything to be perfect. Not only among you and your family.....but between you and me.” As he spoke, Darkonda stroked her forehead gently.
“I told you, I can’t!”
“Oh, I think you can, and I’ll see to that.”
Jenny struggled again, crying out in frustration. Darkonda watched and listened carefully. Although he had captured her several times in the past, this was the first time he’d had her physically restrained, and he was loving it! Darkonda reached down and picked up a weird-looking device. Jenny gasped when she saw that large, painful-looking machine.
“Darkonda, no!” she cried.
Darkonda position the tip of the machine to Jenny’s chin and lifted it gently. “Now don’t worry your pretty little head about it, my love,” he said. “When I’m finished with you, I’ll just do the same to your sister, then your uncle. Then we’ll all be one big, happy family!”
When he pushed a button, the machine whirred and spun around in a drilling motion. Then he slowly lowered the device to Jenny’s head.
“Oh God, no!!” Jenny screamed. “NOOOO!!!!”
She had never seen this type of device before. It looked like it would grind her head upon contact. She had never been this frightened before. As the device grew closer, Jenny kept struggling and gasping. When the device was just a mere inch from her head, Darkonda paused. He looked down at the helpless girl, who was still gasping. Darkonda switched off the machine and tossed it aside. Jenny looked up.
“I can’t do it!” Darkonda cried.
“What!?!” Jenny gasped.
“To turn you into a cyborg means that you’ll turn permanently evil. But I look back on all the fun times we’ve shared as enemies. You lead the Spice Club so well, and you have presented me a formidable challenge.” As Darkonda spoke, he caressed the edge of her face. “I can’t change your attitude; I love you just the way you are.”
Jenny was still unable to calm down; still she gasped. Darkonda backed away from her.
“Quantrons, release her,” he ordered.
The Quantrons shrugged, then unstrapped Jenny from the chair. She stood up, still gasping.
“Darkonda......don’t ever scare me like that!!!” she screamed. Then she ran out of the room.
Jenny attacked another Quantron for its disguise, and explored the Fortress some more. Eventually, she found her mother. Astronema sat in her throne. Jenny opened the slide door and entered the room. “Hey, Mom!”
*Nice move,* Jenny thought. *What kind of idiot Quantron could walk in and say, ‘Hey, Mom!’ I’d better try this again.”
She removed the Quantron helmet. “Hey, Mom!”
Astronema turned the chair to face Jenny. “I am Astronema,” she said. “What brings my daughter here?”
When Jenny saw Astronema’s cyborg look, she backed off.
“Uh.....” Jenny mumbled. “Come to think of it, nothing.”
“Ecliptor,” Astronema called. “Get her.”
Ecliptor entered the room. Jenny turned to him and saw his new cyborg upgrade as well.
“Ecliptor.....not you, too,” she groaned.
The real Quantrons attacked, and Jenny fought them off. She started toward the exit, then paused to get another look at her brainwashed mother.
“I can’t bring Mom back like this,” she told herself. “I’m getting outta here.”
She ran through the Dark Fortress searching for her galaxy glider. As she raced down the hall, Darkonda came out of a room. However, Jenny ran right through him. Darkonda spun around before falling to the floor. The Quantrons tripped over him, giving Jenny a head start. Finally, Jenny made it into the room where the Velocifighters were parked. There were more Quantrons in pursuit now. Jenny ran through, hopping and spinning around like a football player in the field. Finally, she made it to her galaxy glider.
“Touchdown!!” she cried as she took off. She was back at the Astro Megaship in a flash.
“What happened?” the Cryptkeeper asked. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.....but Mom isn’t,” Jenny said sadly. “She’s been upgraded into a cyborg. She’s Astronema again.”
“Mommy’s a robot now?” Hallie asked.
“Yeah......and the Candyman, too,” Jenny added.
“Oh man, this is awful,” Ruth said. “To think, you had a mother again for a while.”
“Oooh, that Darkonda has had it,” Jenny growled.
“Darkonda did it!?” the Cryptkeeper asked. “Why didn’t you stop him?”
“It was already too late when I found Mom,” Jenny said.
“So you didn’t see him do it?”
“Then how do you know he did it?”
“Because he tried to turn me into a cyborg.”
“But you escaped?” the Cryptkeeper asked.
“Not really. At the last second, he decided that he couldn’t do it,” Jenny told him. “He loves me just the way I am.”
Although the asteroid crisis was solved, Andros and Jenny were still disturbed by the loss of their family member.
“We’ll need more strength in order to defeat the Power Rangers!” Darkonda cried.
“We?” Astronema asked. “I am Astronema, Princess of Darkness. And you......you’re an outcast.”
“What did you say!?” Darkonda asked.
“Ecliptor, throw him out.”
“With pleasure!” Ecliptor replied.
“Hey! This is ridiculous! Without me, you would all be destroyed!” Darkonda cried as Astronema aimed her staff at his throat. “Go ahead. I still have a few lives left. Remember, you have only one.” He disappeared.
To compensate for her troubles, Jenny went to her father’s grave and sat on his tombstone. She clutched the wedding necklace tightly in her hand. As she pondered, Darkonda appeared to comfort her as usual.
“Poor Tonfa Spice,” he sang. “What, may I ask, is troubling you?”
Jenny, who was almost incapable of throwing a tantrum, stood up and sighed. “Darkonda.......there was a woman once. She gave birth to me. She was my mother. She took care of me for four years......then she gave birth to my sister. More years went by......Mother took care of both of us. But then......she was killed in a car accident. I believed that she was gone forever. Then several months ago......I learned that Astronema was my mother. She tried to destroy me. Then several days ago......Mother became good again......realized that she was the Red Ranger’s sister. That means that the Red Ranger is my uncle. I had a mother again......for only a few hours. Things were looking up......that is, until you went Frankenstein on me!”
“Look, Tonfa Spice, we may be a married couple, but we’re still enemies,” Darkonda told her. “Of course I’m going to do these things to you every now and then. But everything’s back to normal now. Your mother is trying to destroy you again.”
“Yes, I know, and that sucks!” Jenny cried.
“Sucks?” Darkonda suddenly became confused.
“In other words, it sinks really low.”
“Well, if it makes you feel better, your mother has declared me as an outcast.”
Jenny giggled, then pondered some more. “Yeah.....that does make me feel better. If you had turned me into a cyborg, I probably would have done the same thing. Then we’d really be torn apart. We’d have to break up.....”
“Break up? Never!!” Darkonda cried, grasping Jenny’s hands. “We are one, my love. We will be together no matter what! That’s what this whole marriage was about. That’s why I gave you that necklace.”
“Well, thanks, Darkonda; you’ve been a big help.” Jenny teleported out of the graveyard.
“You are welcome, my dear. I’m glad that I could help you feel better.”
So it turned out that Darkonda and Jenny were a true couple. They worked their way out of a troublesome situation. But will Jenny get her mother back?