The Rangers and some of the Spices were on the bridge, still looking for Zordon or Dark Specter’s ship. This time, Ruth was among the searchers. Just like the others, she didn’t find anything. She stopped for a minute and stood up from her chair.
“Oh,” she groaned. “I’ve been working too hard for too long.”
Carlos looked at her and smiled. She was trying to do a back rub against her shoulders, but this was difficult to do. He also stopped and walked behind her. He began doing the back rub for her.
At first, she was startled because of her not knowing he was behind her. He stopped, then forced her back into the chair and began doing the back rub again. She relaxed in comfort as the back rub was relieving her of her pain.
Suddenly, Ruth stopped relaxing at the same moment that Carlos stopped massaging. They turned around and saw the others staring at them. Ashley and Cassie giggled at the idea that they were caught staring at them.
Andros said, “If you two want some private time, then you can go down to earth and spend some time there.”
“Okay,” Ruth said, standing up again. “We’ll let you know if we need anything.”
“And vice versa,” Jenny asked.
“Of course,” Carlos answered. They teleported away.
“Both Carlos and Ruth seemed happier ever since they married,” Ashley said. “Too bad you weren’t around to see that wedding, Zhane.” He smiled.
“They do good for each other,” Cassie added. “I’m so glad that they met and got together.” Everyone else silently agreed, then went back to work.
They walked around in the park. It was a beautiful day, and the sky was dotted with large white clouds. Ruth and Carlos sat down on the top of a hill overlooking the lake. There were several ducks and swans on the lake surface.
“You know something, Carlos,” Ruth said in a question tone.
“What,” he asked.
“Even though this very park was the home of many Power Ranger battles, this is probably the most peaceful spot in the entire city.”
Carlos gave some thought to this. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
The couple spend the entire morning all over Angel Grove, doing things. At lunchtime, they arrived at the Surf Spot, where they got some fries, two hamburgers, and a couple of colas for their lunch.
“This place has the best fries and hamburgers in town,” Ruth complimented.
“Tell me about it,” Carlos added.
After eating lunch, they left the Surf Spot. They were just out of hearing distance when they encountered three men. Judging by their clothes, they appeared to be famous people. One of them looked at Ruth with great interest.
“Oh,” he exclaimed in a silly, high-pitched voice. “What a face! You, my dear, ought to be in pictures!”
The second man pushed the first one aside. He appeared to be the one in charge of the other two. “Yeah,” he said in a medium tone. “I could make you a star!”
“You could,” Ruth asked in amazement.
The third man nodded.
“You ready for that screen test,” the first man asked.
In a deep voice, the third one said, “I sure am!” He prepared some complex equipment, including a large movie camera.
Ruth and Carlos were whispering. “Oh gosh, isn’t this exciting, Carlos,” Ruth asked in her whisper. “Me! In the movies! Maybe this is how I could spend my ‘retirement’ years.”
Carlos looked at the men suspiciously. “I don’t know, Ruth,” he whispered cautiously. “There’s something about those guys that I don’t like.”
“We’re ready, ma’am,” the first man called. Ruth willingly went in front of the camera and did an attractive model pose. The first man grabbed a black and white clipboard labeled “Screen testing”, to be used before the screen test started. He said, “Mrs. Ruth Veranda, screen test, take one!”
Carlos was listening and heard the mistake. “Hey, wait a minute,” he confronted. “How did you know her name?!”
Before and answer was given, Quantrons appeared out of nowhere. “Quantrons,” Ruth and Carlos shouted in unison. All of the Quantrons went for Carlos.
Ruth would have helped Carlos if the second man didn’t say, “Action!”
At that moment, Ruth was caught in a red beam of light that ejected from the camera lens. She was unable to move, but she was able to speak. “Carlos! Help!” But there were too many Quantrons for him to fight through. When defeated one of them, he looked to where Ruth stood in front of the camera. She wasn’t there!
He quickly sent a silent distress signal to the Megaship before attacking the Quantrons again. One of the Quantrons began spinning Carlos, then grabbed onto his wrist. He pushed Carlos’ elbow firmly, forcing him to come down on one knee. Another one prepared his weapon for bloodshed.
At the last moment, Andros came in and cut through the weapon before it made contact with Carlos. Cassie used her Satellite Stunner to destroy most of the Quantrons. Three Quantrons were escaping. One of them stopped by the camera and took out something before leaving.
Carlos had seen that the other Rangers arrived with Jenny just as the last three Quantrons were beginning their exit. Jenny noticed them and ran after them, only to return a few seconds after they disappeared.
Carlos was lying on the ground, feeling a great pain in his chest where a Quantron kicked him. Not being morphed had some great disadvantages. He was also crying.
“Where’s Ruth,” Jenny asked.
“She’s been taken,” he answered with tears in his eyes. “There were these people talking about making her a star. Quantrons came and interrupted the screen test. A red beam of energy enveloped her and they next thing I knew, she was gone.”
“C’mon,” Ashley said, helping him up from the ground. “Let’s go find her, and we also have to help you.” With her support, Carlos was able to stand up long enough to teleport to the infirmary of the ship. The others followed.
Astronema and Darkonda were waiting in the bridge of the Dark Fortress. When the three Quantrons arrived, Astronema asked them, “Well, where’s Magic Spice?”
“Don’t tell us that you forgot the camera when you removed your human disguises,” Darkonda said angrily. He had taken a lot of pains to make the three Quantrons look like humans working for a picture.
Astronema grew impatient. “Well?!”
The first Quantron said, “Well, Darkonda told us not to tell you two that we forgot the camera when we removed our human disguises.”
Astronema became angry. “Idiots! You’ve ruined all if my careful planning!”
The second Quantron removed something black and silver, round and shiny. “In that case,” he started, “you won’t be needing this film I removed during the battle.” He approached a lid that was labeled “Refuse”.
He was about to put the film in when Astronema ran to him, acting like a spoiled child. “Give me that,” she shouted. She pulled down a small part of the film, until she saw a familiar figure. “Ah! It worked!”
“Let me out of here,” Ruth shouted. She seemed to be an alive part of the film. She, however, was only allowed to move a limited amount, since there was a film circle surrounding her. Soon, Astronema prepared a camera just like the first. The red beam ejected into a prison cell, and Ruth’s body formed inside the cell.
Astronema said, “I won’t release you from the Dark Fortress until you tell me the location of the source of your magic ability! It could prove...useful.”
“Nothing you can do whatsoever will make me tell you.”
“Very well, Magic Spice. In that case, I’ll have to use my secret weapon. Magic Spice Robot!” She pressed a button, and a door opened. What seemed to be a clone of Ruth walked through the door.
The clone said in a robotic voice, “Good afternoon. I am a simulation mobile electronic Magic Spice duplicate: Batteries not included.”
Ruth practically laughed at Astronema’s plan. “Magic Spice? Ha! You are nothing but a cheap copy of me!”
The clone, now knowing what Ruth sounded like, adapted the voice data into her input. Now, she sounded just like Ruth. “Wrong,” she said. “I’m better than you.” So saying, she ripped a large pipe off of its hinges, and broke it into small pieces.
Astronema handed a device that looked like a hand-held video-phone to Elgar, since he had the least amount of action lately. “This is the robotic Magic Spice’s remote control. Now, do as I told you, Elgar, and be careful with it!”
“No sweat, Astronema,” Elgar answered. “The robot and I will be able to trick her friends to give us the source of her magical powers before you could say...”
“Get going,” Astronema interrupted impatiently.
“You said it,” he said. Then, he teleported with the robot.
“You won’t win, Astronema,” the real Ruth said. “There are several mistakes that I already saw in that simulated mobile electronic duplicate: batteries not included. I know that, somehow, that computerized clone will spill the beans!”
Astronema was confused. “Beans?”
Ruth sighed. “Nevermind that. That’s just an Earth expression.” There was only a chair in the cell she was in. She leaned back into the chair and started to relax. “Well, I guess the most I can do here is wait for my friends to rescue me.”
“You’re friends won’t come here,” Astronema taunted. “They won’t know the difference between you and my clone.”
Ruth giggled. “I guess that is another thing the two of us have in common. We both underestimate our enemies. I underestimated you, and you underestimate my friends.”
“I have known them longer than you have.” She paused. “Wait a minute, what was the other thing we had in common?”
“We’re both very picky.”
Astronema looked at her enemy very angrily. She exited the room. Now, the only beings inside the room were Ruth and two guarding Quantrons.
Carlos, Marvin, and Lexington were examining the camera that the Quantrons left behind. Even after they took it apart, they couldn’t figure out what was extraordinary with it.
Carlos was obviously unhappy. “Oh,” he groaned. “Ruth? Where could she be?”
The clone of Ruth approached them. Elgar was hiding behind a nearby fence, but was out of hearing distance. “I’m right here, Carlos,” Robot-Ruth said.
Carlos was so happy. Lexington and Marvin stopped working and smiled. “Where have you been,” Carlos asked ecstatically.
“Sorry,” she answered. “I was a little stalled. Literally.”
Elgar snickered to himself. “That bionic beauty is working like a charm,” he whispered. He looked at the buttons and knobs that were on the remote control. He decided on a certain knob. “Now, I just give a twist of this what-cha-ma-call-it...”
He didn’t need to peek over the fence to see Robot-Ruth, since the screen on the control was showing Ruth and Carlos talking.
“Well, let’s go, Ruth,” Carlos said. “We gotta get back to the ship.”
“Wait,” Robot-Ruth said, suddenly. “Let’s dance!”
“What!?” Ruth grabbed onto Carlos’ wrists and began spinning him wildly. Marvin and Lexington were too shocked of what’s happening to help Carlos.
“Wait a minute,” Elgar said quietly. “I turned the wrong knob. This is the one I wanted.”
Robot-Ruth stopped dancing and said, “How about a game of basketball?” She began to push him up and down just like a basketball. She threw him up in the air!
Lexington flew up and grabbed onto Carlos just before he fell into a large chimney. Carlos’ weight made it easier for Lexington to give him a soft landing. They all stared at Ruth. This was not like her at all!
“I’m very sorry, Carlos,” she said. “I have no idea what got into me.”
They decided to go to the infirmary to make sure she was all right. Fortunately for Astronema, Robot-Ruth was programmed to tell any checking devices and computers to say that Robot-Ruth is a human instead of a cyborg.
A few hours passed. Everyone seemed to have their own suspicion that something was wrong with Ruth.
While sparring on the SimuDeck, Jenny, Hallie, and Hanim noticed that she was dramatically more energetic than normal.
C. K., T. J., and Andros offered her to join them in eating Ruth’s absolute favorite food besides pizza: spaghetti, but she quietly refused.
Marvin and Lexington always helped Ruth in knowing how some of the ship’s technology worked in the past, but she didn’t seem interested.
The most important suspicion happened to Carlos. It seemed like Ruth didn’t even want to spend some time with him! Almost nothing that Robot-Ruth did led them to think that she was as fine as she claimed, even after Deca said that there was nothing wrong with her.
Carlos seemed to be more worried than anyone else. He passed by their quarters and saw Ruth examining something in front of her. He looked over her shoulder and saw that she was examining the Power Pearl, Ruth’s source of her magic ability.
She heard him behind her. She turned around and innocently placed down the pearl.
“You have to be very careful with that Power Pearl, Ruth,” Carlos said warningly. “One mistake and your powers are gone!”
“Yes,” Robot-Ruth said, coldly. “And now that I have the Power Pearl, I must return it to its rightful owner: Astronema!”
Carlos was shocked. “What?! You mean, you’re a traitor?”
“No, I am a simulated mobile electronic Magic Spice duplicate: Batteries not included.” Then, she stopped suddenly. She just realized that she had spilled the beans.
Carlos gasped. *So that’s it,* he thought. *Astronema must have Spice-napped Ruth and replaced her with that computerized clone.* He noticed Robot-Ruth beginning to walk away. He stopped her, and she began to attack.
Even though he knew that this was a robot, Carlos couldn’t even think about attacking her. He accidentally let her by, and she ran to the jump tubes with the Power Pearl! Carlos chased her. They passed by the bridge in order to get there, and when they did; the Rangers, Jenny, Hanim, and Earl saw them running and decided to go after them.
Ruth was thinking. What if her friends wouldn’t come? It wouldn’t be easy getting inside the Dark Fortress, anyway. But, maybe it would be easy to get out.
After she planned her escape from the Fortress, she looked around at what would be useful to get out of her cell. The only thing she saw was the laser camera that brought her here. She noticed that the lens was pointing at the two guarding Quantrons. Knowing that her magic ability involved telekinesis, an idea hatched in her mind.
Suddenly, she was jumping with excitement, catching the Quantrons’ attention. Then, she pointed at the camera. “Quantrons, look! Smile; you’re on Candid Camera!”
The Quantrons looked at the camera, knowing what Candid Camera was. Using a combination of magic and telekinesis, Ruth turned on the laser camera. Trapped in the red beam of energy, the Quantrons screamed as they were sucked into the camera in the exact same way that it sucked in Ruth.
Then, Ruth channeled her Spice Ring power against the lock on her cell door. The door opened and she slipped out. But the noise made from the trapped Quantrons catched Astronema’s attention. She and Elgar, with several more Quantrons, entered the room and saw the freed prisoner.
“Get her,” Astronema shouted.
Ruth began using her magical jewelry. A bright flash of blue, green, and red shined from her jewelry. When Astronema and Elgar were able to see again, Ruth was beginning a spell originated in France.
“Les Bijoux a Magique: Vivacité,” she exclaimed in French. Translation means, “Magical Jewelry: Animal Spirit Power,” even though she didn’t translate it.
Astronema stood there in confusion. Elgar didn’t understand, either. “Uh, what was that again,” he asked stupidly.
Ruth merely continued. “Le Guépard!” An orange-yellow light filled the room. Astronema, Elgar and the Quantrons were blinded again. When they were able to see again, they didn’t see Ruth. Instead, they saw a young female cheetah, growling and standing where Ruth was.
Astronema smiled. “A cheetah,” she realized. “How clever. Even I wouldn’t have thought of that, myself, Magic Spice.” She reached out to pet her, but she backed away and growled even louder. Before anyone could make another move, Ruth jumped onto the camera and removed the film. She ran away with the film in her mouth, knowing that the camera is useless without i.
Astronema was shocked. “Get that film!”
But Ruth was going at an easy 40 mph, and gaining. After reaching 55, she didn’t dare go any faster. She ran until she reached a spot where she couldn’t be seen. Wordlessly, she teleported to Earth, with the film still in her mouth.
When she was on her feet again, Ruth found her friends battling against the Psycho Rangers and Robot-Ruth was watching with the Power Pearl in her arms. For a quick moment, Jenny saw the young cheetah, but was too busy fighting against Psycho Red. Ruth was about to run to help her friends, but instead ran into an alley way.
*My friends don’t know that I can change into animals,* she thought. *I’d better destroy this film, turn back, and then help them.* She ran to a garbage can. Using her claws and her teeth, she ripped the sides of the film off, and shredded the film into teeny tiny pieces, destroying the Quantrons inside.
After transforming back into a human, Ruth climbed up the stairway on the side of the nearby building. Upon reaching the top, she saw the Psycho Rangers just before they were defeated. Robot-Ruth placed the Power Pearl down and began to attack her enemies.
Robot-Ruth first threw Hanim aside, then grabbed onto Jenny. Jenny was preparing to throw a powerful punch, but she hesitated. “Oh no,” she said. “You look too much like Ruth; I can’t do this.”
“But I can,” a powerful female voice shouted from the top of a building. Everyone looked up to see the owner of the voice falling from the buildingtop. Her feet landed on top of Robot-Ruth’s shoulders, forcing her to fall down. The two began fighting before anyone recognized who saved Jenny.
“Ruth,” Carlos shouted. The others realized that it was her immediately. The two look-alikes struggled and fought. The trick was that no one recognized which one was the real Ruth.
“Oh no; which one is which,” Cassie asked in despair.
“I can’t tell,” Ashley said.
“Me neither,” Hanim added.
“So, what do we do now,” Earl asked.
“Nothing,” T. J. answered. “If we would have decided to help Ruth, its also possible that we would help her counterpart, and we can’t do that.”
After several more minutes, Jenny came up with an idea of how to identify the real Ruth. “Hey, Ruth’s,” she shouted. The two stopped fighting, released each other, and stood side by side. “Only the real Ruth can do this correctly. Let’s add some Spice!” Ruth remembered the saying. It was to gain access to the Spice’s weapons, in Ruth’s case, her twin dagger-like weapons.
The real Ruth, on the right, jumped and crossed her legs as if she was going to land sitting Indian-style. Her hands seemed to grab onto to ankles, but she removed her weapons and landed on her feet again, holding them up high. Robot-Ruth was spinning fancy-like, trying to figure out what Jenny was trying to say.
“That’s Ruth,” Jenny shouted, pointing to the Ruth that did it correctly. At that moment, Ruth began brutally stabbing and slashing her opponent, sending sparks into the air. She finished off by kicking the weakened robot into the nearby lake. The robot was destroyed by electrocution. Ruth held her weapons proudly, meaning victory.
Ruth picked up her Power Pearl and teleported to the ship, returning it to its proper place.
Carlos felt more comfortable, knowing that the Robot-Ruth was destroyed. He and his wife were walking down the halls. C. C. once said that marriage destroys the romance, but that was not the situation between these two turtledoves.
Ruth began rolling her shoulders, trying to remove the pain from them. “Oh,” she groaned. “I’ve been working too hard for too long.” She repeated what had happened earlier that day.
Carlos looked at her and smiled. He did the back rub against her shoulders again. She smiled and relaxed as Carlos continued the back rub. Soon, they arrived at the bridge, where the other Rangers, Jenny and Ebony, Ruth’s pet panther, were working. Ebony greeted them, then sniffed against Ruth’s jeans.
“Ruth,” she asked. “Were you consorting with cheetahs lately?”
Jenny gasped. The others looked at her. “The cheetah,” she exclaimed.
Ruth smiled and nodded.
“I didn’t know that you could change into animals.”
“I have so many magic abilities that it would be impossible to tell you all of them.”
The next morning, Ruth and the Rangers were explaining their part of their last adventure.
“And so I said, ‘Quantrons, look! Smile; you’re on Candid Camera!’ I can’t believe that they were actually that stupid to fall for that old trick.” Ruth giggled. “So, how did you know that the phony Ruth robot was not the real me?”
“I figured that out,” Carlos said. “She was looking at your Power Pearl and getting ready to give it to Astronema. She said that she was a computerized clone of you. I chased her, with the Power Pearl in her arms, down to Earth. The Psycho Rangers were there, waiting for the fake Ruth and her Power Pearl. The rest, you know.”
“So the robot actually spilled the beans?”
Andros was confused. “Beans?”
Ruth sighed. “Nevermind that, Andros. That’s just an Earth expression.” She remembered that she said the exact same thing to Astronema. She giggled. Andros and Astronema still had so many things in common, even though she was now an evil cyborg.