A few days later, the Rangers were gathered at the Youth Center. The minute he had stepped inside, Tommy had been grabbed up in a big bear hug by Ernie. “It’s great to see you again, Tommy,” he said.
“It’s great to see you too, Ernie,” Tommy replied, “But can you ease up a bit? I think you’re starting to crack some ribs.” He was joking, and Ernie knew it, but the owner of the Youth Center let him go.
The Rangers grabbed their usual table and sat down. Kim, as usual, was half in Tommy’s lap, she was sitting so close. Justin was sitting on the other side of him, with Zack next to him. Billy and Trini were next, then Jason was on the other side of Kim.
They were chatting amiably, when a bunch of obvious punks came up. “Hey, Scott,” the leader said. It was Shane, looking for a fight again. “I told you I’d be back, and this time, I’ve got even more friends.”
“Go away, Shane,” Jason said, “I’m in too good a mood to mess with you today.”
“Oh, is that right?” Shane mocked. He cuffed Jason upside the head. It wasn’t meant to hurt, but it did get Jason’s temper up.
“No fighting, guys,” Kim said.
“Oh, miss goody two shoes is sticking up for her friend?” Shane mocked.
“Back off, man,” Tommy warned, “Jason may not be willing to accommodate you, but I might if you continue talking to Kim that way.”
“Oh, I’m so scared,” Shane said, “Sorry, boys. But I’m looking for a fight today.” With that, he took one of his friends drinks and threw it in Kim’s face.
Tommy moved so fast, Jason didn’t even see him move. One minute, he was sitting down. The next, Tommy had tackled Shane and pinned him to the ground. Shane’s stooges surrounded Tommy and started kicking at him. Jason got up, as well as Zack, Trini, Billy, and even Justin, though Kim pulled him back down into his seat.
They joined into the fight, though they mostly just kept the others from getting cheap shots at Tommy. Jason saw a gleam in his friends eyes as he hit Shane that he didn’t particularly like.
“Break it up,” Ernie yelled, pushing his way in between the combatants. He forcefully separated most of them, but it took all of them to pull Tommy up off of Shane. Shane’s nose was bleeding, but it didn’t look too bad.
“Tommy calm down,” Kim said, as she put herself between her lover and Shane. She knew that he wouldn’t do anything to harm her.
All Tommy had to do was look into her eyes, and all of the fight just drained out of him. The guys who were holding him back were satisfied that he wasn’t going to go after Shane anymore, and let go.
Kim went to get cleaned up, while Jason, Zack, Trini, Billy, and especially Tommy were reprimanded by Ernie. “Guys you know that you’re not supposed to fight in her,” Ernie said, “What started it?”
“Shane threw a drink into Kim’s face,” Tommy said, “I guess I just kind of lost it when that happened.”
“Perfectly understandable,” Ernie said. He sighed. “Guys, I hate to do this, but it’s the rules. You’re all banned from here for a week. I know that you have karate classes, Jason and Tommy, but I can probably get someone else to teach them.”
“Does that mean me, as well?” Justin asked.
“No, you weren’t part of the fight,” Ernie said, “And neither is Kim. But the rest of you are. I’m also afraid that I’ll have to ask you to leave, to be fair to Shane and his crew. You can take the back way, so that you don’t run into them outside.”
“We understand, Ernie,” Jason said, “We broke the rules, and now we have to pay the consequences. But can we wait for Kim first, at least?”
“Sure,” Ernie said, “Sorry again guys.” With that, he headed back to the bar, where somebody was waiting to get something.
On the moon, Zedd had watched the fight. “Ooh, that gang would do perfectly for my team of evil Rangers,” he said, “Too bad my mind control powers are limited to only three people at a time.”
“If I may, my liege, I have a suggestion,” Finster said.
“Speak, lowly,” Zedd growled.
“There is a human on Earth, who is very known for mind control,” Finster said, “Though he uses technology to do so. He is known for his occasional brawls with the hero known as Batman, under the guise of the Mad Hatter.”
“Rather ironic that he would pick a name from a children’s story book, wouldn’t you say, Finster?” Zedd inquired.
“If you say so, my liege,” Finster said, “Shall I go look for this ‘Mad Hatter’?”
“Yes, and be quick about it,” Zedd said.
Finster teleported to Gotham City, where it was surprisingly easy to find out about the Mad Hatter. “I heard that she’s holed up in a warehouse on the docks,” a man told Finster, “Hiding from the bat, she is.”
“She? I thought the Mad Hatter was a man,” Finster said.
“There used to be a male Mad Hatter, but not anymore,” the man said, “I heard he retired or something, and that his niece was taking over the guise.”
“I thank you,” Finster said politely. He gave the man, who was a heavy drinker, a bottle Finster had bought just to bribe him with. “With my compliments, the best whiskey you’ll ever find.”
“You’re welcome and thank you,” the man said, taking the bottle.
Once he got down to the warehouse, Finster didn’t take too long in finding the Mad Hatter. Or, actually, she didn’t have a hard time finding him. In other words, Finster quickly found himself looking down a gun barrel.
It was some male goon of the Mad Hatter’s, Finster guessed. “Who are you?” the stooge demanded.
“I am looking for your boss, the new Mad Hatter,” Finster said, “I come with a big proposition for her. One that could take her out from under the watchful eye of the Batman, though more than likely temporarily.”
“Put the gun away, Ogra.” This was a rich, decidedly female voice. A stunningly beautiful teenage girl in an Alice in Wonderland reject costume stepped out of the shadows. “I am the one known as the Mad Hatter. What’s this about a proposition?”
“My good lady, I don’t think it is good for us to be out here,” Finster said, “I am told that the Batman has ears everywhere.”
“That he does,” the Mad Hatter said, then gestured to a door nearby, which opened mysteriously. “If you will.” Finster went through the door warily, always on the look out for someone that might attack him. The young lady then led him to an office somewhere in what Finster guessed to be the middle of the building. “Now talk.”
“Just one question, before I begin,” Finster said, “Have you heard of Lord Zedd?”
“Anybody that is anybody in the villain consortium knows of Lord Zedd,” the Mad Hatter said, “What about him?”
“I am one of his many servants,” Finster said, “I came here to see you under his command. He has need of your rumored talent of mind control.”
“I’m afraid that this Mad Hatter isn’t into that much,” the Mad Hatter said, “My uncle took most of the secrets of his mind control circuitry to his grave. I found a few schematics of his original circuitry, but that’s it. I just took his old guise as a matter of family honor, because I loved my uncle.”
“Perfectly understandable,” Finster said, “But can you help, nonetheless?”
“I’ll do what I can,” the Mad Hatter said, “Where do I go to help Lord Zedd?”
“I can take you to him right away,” Finster said. He stood up and reached out. “All you have to do is take my hand, and trust me.”
The Mad Hatter stood up and reluctantly took Finsters hand. Finster then teleported them both away.
The whole gang was enjoying a nice, peaceful picnic in the park. “I can’t believe that Ernie kicked us out,” Trini sad.
“Yeah, aren’t we like seven of his best customers?” Zack commented.
Jason shrugged. “We broke the rules, guys,” he said, “Even he can’t overlook that.” The others had to agree. Jason looked over at Justin, who was staring out at something. Jason followed his gaze, and saw Kim and Tommy going through what looked to be a meditation kata. Jason slid over next to the new Green Ranger. “Hey, what’s up, Justin?”
That shook Justin out of his reverie. He glanced at Jason, who was grinning at him. “Oh, nothing really,” he said.
“Just admiring the girls, huh?” Jason said. Justin blushed. “Hey, don’t worry about it. You are only human, after all.”
“Yeah, but she’s Tommy’s girl,” Justin said, “I shouldn’t check her out.”
“I don’t think Tommy would mind too much,” Jason said, “He’s never minded any of us guys checking her out every once in a while.”
Justin still looked skeptical. “I think I’m going to join them,” he said. He stood up and went over to Tommy and Kim. He hated to interrupt them, but did so. Tommy started showing him the kata.
After a while, they all headed home. They were totally unaware of events on the moon. Events that were going to have a profound impact very soon.
“We’re just about done with the neural control circuitry, my liege,” Finster said. He had to report to Zedd over his and the Mad Hatter’s progress. “We should be done before noon tomorrow. That even takes in account that the Mad Hatter is going to need at least four hours sleep.
“Good, good,” Zedd said, “You’re dismissed, Finster.” The ugly little alien quickly left the throne room. “GOLDAR!!!”
“Yes, my liege?” Goldar said, as he entered the throne room.
“Go to my storage on the Dark Martian colony,” Zedd said, “And bring me back the Anti-Lantern Ranger power rings.”
“Right away, my liege,” Goldar said, before flying off.
“I love it when a plan comes together,” Zedd said, before losing himself in maniacal laughter.