Second Star to the Right
It was another bright, shiny morning in Angel Grove, little different from
any other. The sun beat down on the city, which had already begun to flow
with its accustomed activity. On the sidewalks of the suburban areas, joggers
huffed and puffed along, struggling towards some semblance of shape. In
the trees, birds chirped and called to one another gleefully. And in the
park, the Power Rangers Turbo were up to their eyeballs in trouble. Nothing
unusual there, either.
"'Goooood morning Vietnam!'" Tasha Young growled, launching a spin kick
into the beak of the nearest Tenga.
"Whose idea was it to go for a workout session in the park, anyway?" Justin
Stewart asked, ducking as a wing swept towards his head.
Rosa De Santos looked sheepish. "Hey, you all thought it was a great idea!"
"I should have my head examined," agreed Fred Kelman. "Frank, need a hand?"
"What would give you that idea?" Franklin Park called back sarcastically.
He had been mobbed by twice the number of Tengas surrounding any of the
others, and they were crowding him fiercely. Despite their superior numbers,
however, not one of the black, oily birds had managed to lay so much as
a claw on him.
With a flying kick, Fred sprang to his friend's aid. Making his way through
the press, the Red Turbo Ranger managed to settle his back directly against
his friends. "Spinning windmills?" the leader of the team asked, offhandedly.
"Why not?" Suddenly, in perfect unison, the two boys spun into a complicated
maneuver of punches and kicks, sending the Tengas around them flying. Sensing
that they had lost the upper hand, the birds disengaged, backing off and
disappearing in a hail of black feathers.
"Good riddance," Justin puffed. Tasha came up and put a hand on his shoulder.
"Am I alone in thinking that takes care of the workout?" she asked sweetly.
"You've got a point, Tash. Come on, let's go get something to eat at Ernie's!"
As the five teens left the park, Rosa noticed a curiously unfocused look
on Franklin's face.
"Frank?" she asked, laying a hand on his shoulder cautiously. "Are you
He started, his eyes focusing suddenly. "Uh- yeah, Rosa, I guess so. I
must still be a little jumpy from the Tenga attack. I feel- I dunno, uneasy."
Rosa didn't pretend to have even a fraction of her older brother's curandero
abilities, but she'd known Franklin Park for far too long to put his worries
down to a simple case of nerves. Franklin knew things, things you
wouldn't expect anybody to know. That heightened sense of intuition had
saved the Turbo Team on more than one occasion.
"Maybe you should talk to Zordon, have him scan for possible threats,"
she suggested. Franklin nodded.
"I will, just to be safe, but- it's not LIKE that. I don't get the feeling
of a real threat, just a- sense of oppression." Then he grinned, looking
a great deal like his brother. "I'm probably just hungry. Come on, let's
go get something to eat." With that, the two of them raced off to catch
up with their teammates, the premonition forgotten- for now.
Meanwhile, in another part of California's "Freak Zone," another group
of young people were greeting the morning somewhat differently.
"He rode his bike all the way out HERE?" the tall, dark boy asked in astonishment,
looking around himself. "We've got to be five miles from your house!" He
and his companion were out on the outskirts of town, surrounded by the
rolling hills and golden grass that were so prevalent in California.
The girl shrugged, adjusting her backward baseball cap. "You know how Drew
can get when he wants to do something," she responded, shading her eyes
as she looked at the small dark figure on top of the nearest hill.
"You know," Roland Williams grinned, "there's a bill on the back of your
cap which is excellent for exactly that purpose."
Jo McCormick stuck her tongue out at her friend. "It's a fashion statement,"
she told him haughtily, unable to suppress her own smile. "Come on, let's
go see why he's up there."
The two children quickly scaled the hill, despite the somewhat steep grade.
At the top, they could see the third member of their team sitting and staring
off into the distance, away from the climbing sun. "Drew?" Jo asked carefully,
taking a step towards her brother.
Drew McCormick rose to his feet with the unhurried grace that had Nano,
Roland's martial artist grandmother, constantly after him to take lessons.
Drew had thought about it in the past, but now he had no idea where he
would ever find the time. Brushing a lock of blond hair out of his face,
he regarded his sister and best friend coolly.
"What's up, guys? This is quite a ways out of town," he remarked.
Roland frowned. He had known Drew almost all his life, and he knew what
that tone of voice signified. There was something eating at the other boy,
but finding out what would be like pulling teeth. "Didn't stop you," the
taller boy responded easily. He could play word games too, if necessary.
Jo, however, had far less patience than the other two. "Drew, what's bothering
you? It's not like you to ride all the way out here at seven in the morning
for no reason. And AWAY from Hillhurst?"
With a sigh, Drew turned away from his sister, blue eyes scanning the horizon
to the south-west. "I don't know," he said simply. "I woke up this morning
with this feeling of- I don't know, like a storm rolling in. I rode out
here to think, which is NOT something I can do under the nagging threat
of being eaten by a mummy. Besides- this is the direction the feeling comes
from." Drew pointed to the south-west.
Roland and Jo exchanged glances. Ever since the three of them had received
their Beetleborg powers from Flabber, the ghost of Hillhurst Mansion, all
three children had found themselves more sensitive to things they had never
noticed before. Drew, especially, had the ability to sense energy fields
that were undetectable any other way.
"Think it's Nukus?" Roland asked finally. Ever since losing his cartoonist
and main source of monsters, the Crustacean leader had been laying low.
None of the Beetleborgs were optimistic enough to hope that he had given
up, though. That type of thing just wasn't in Nukus' personality.
"No, it's not Nukus," replied Drew. "It's too- unfocused. Besides, it's
not coming from Charterville or even Urbana City."
"Well, what's to the south-west?" Jo asked, cocking her head.
"Lots of things. But if I had to pick one that was the culprit, I'd say
there's only one choice. Angel Grove."
"Good morning, Dex," Barbara Stewart smiled, watching her adopted son come
downstairs. "Did you sleep well?"
The tall, dark-haired boy shook his head. "Not really," he yawned. As he
did so, Barbara could see the bags under his eyes. "I kept having the strangest
"Cool!" piped up Albie, Dex's adopted younger brother. "What about?"
"I was on Edenoi, back fighting with the resistance," the alien teenager
explained, opening the refrigerator. He came out with a slice of pizza
left over from dinner the night before and a can of soda. Barbara put her
hands on her hips.
"Dex Stewart, you are NOT going to eat cold pizza for breakfast, are you?"
Dex looked down at the food in his hand. "Why not? It contains something
from each of the basic food groups, doesn't it? And besides, my digestive
system can make efficient use of anything carbon based. I could probably
live on cardboard if I had to- but I wouldn't like the taste of it."
"That's not the point," his adopted mother replied. "Pizza is not a breakfast
Just then, her husband Hal entered the room. "Morning, honey," the slightly
rotund inventor yawned. "What smells good? Oh, hey, pizza! Good thinking,
Dex." As Hal helped himself to a slice, Barbara threw her hands in the
air in resignation.
"Can I have some too, Mom?" Albie asked hopefully.
"No, Albie, you eat your breakfast cereal," his mother instructed. "And
DON'T feed it to Ferbus. He eats enough as it is!"
As the family settled down to their various breakfasts, the last member
came bouncing into the kitchen. "Morning, everybody," Molly Stewart chirped.
Blond, blue-eyed, and very perky, Molly was the epitome of the Earth cheerleader
stereotype. Despite this, she was fairly intelligent and quite observant.
Snagging a slice of pizza, (over her mother's protests,) she plopped down
at the kitchen counter and gave her adopted older brother a long look.
"Dex, you look like something the cat dragged in," she remarked. "What's
"'Something the cat dragged in?' I was unaware that I bore a resemblance
to a mouse this morning."
Molly shot him a withering look. "You've been on Earth MORE than long enough
to know what that figure of speech means, Dex. Quit hedging. What's wrong?"
Dex sighed. "I didn't sleep well," he began, knowing he would have to continue.
Ever since he became Masked Rider, a full, unbroken night's sleep had been
lost to him. Since his adopted family knew all about his hero's identity,
they knew about his nightmares, too. It wouldn't take them long to realize
that the previous night's visions were more disturbing than any before
"I don't know, exactly, why these dreams upset me so. At first, they were
pleasant, memories of happy times spent on Edenoi with my grandfather and
friends. Then came Dregon." The normally open young man's face went solid
as he remembered the carnage his uncle had wreaked on his planet. "But
I've dreamed of that a thousand times since the initial attack. Somehow,
though, it was different-" He broke off suddenly, looking thoughtful. "Perhaps
because this is the first time I've dreamt about my meeting with the Power
Rangers of Earth."
Albie started, his eyes going wide. "You met the POWER RANGERS?" he breathed.
Knowing that his older brother was Masked Rider, and the hero of Leawood
was cool enough, but finding out that Dex knew Earth's legendary heroes-
that was even better.
Dex chuckled. "Yes, although this was a very long time ago. They've likely
all moved on with their own lives now. There were five of them- the Pink
Ranger was left at home with a flu bug. The others came to investigate
the situation on Edenoi, and in the end, we fought Dregon's Plague Patrol
together- although not without some misunderstandings along the way."
"But why would that be bad?" Hal asked. "I mean, it doesn't sound as if
you and the Rangers had too bad a time."
"We didn't," Dex replied. "But there was a background of such menace to
my dreams that I couldn't go back to sleep for the longest time." He shook
his head. "I don't know. If something is wrong in Angel Grove, though,
I'll know about it. And the Power Rangers can count on me to help no matter
As soon as Kaitlin Starr entered the Tao Dojo, she knew there was a problem.
Seeing Ryan Steele there at all hours of the day or night was not unusual,
nor was it unusual to see him practicing his martial arts. But the frantic
edge to his movements was not common, nor was the sight of his kick missing
the hanging bag, dumping him to the ground. Instantly, Kaitlin was at his
side, helping him to his feet.
"Couldn't sleep?" she asked levelly, keeping her concern out of her voice
with an effort. Ryan gave a short, humorless laugh.
"If only. I was out the instant my head hit the pillow- and I dreamed all
"The usual?" Nightmares were nothing unusual for Ryan Steele. In fact,
he had a set pattern he ran through every night, from the loss of his father
to the loss of his teammates at the hands of whatever virtual misfit Grimlord
had sent them up against most recently. It was almost a ritual, and so
Kaitlin was very surprised when Ryan shook his head.
"No, not a one. Just strange, disjointed images, like I used to pick up
when my dad first taught me to meditate. And now I can't remember anything
except waking up in a cold sweat, more terrified than I've ever been in
my entire life." Ryan shuddered. "I just don't remember."
Kaitlin opened her mouth to reply, unsure as to what she could say. She
was saved from finding out when Tao, their sensei, walked in with JB Reese,
third member of the VR Troopers. "Ryan?" Tao asked, his brow furrowing.
"What is the matter?"
"I wish I knew, Tao," the blond boy replied. He swayed slightly, and Kaitlin
moved quickly to hold him up. JB shot her a look, and she shook her head
almost imperceptibly. Ryan swayed more dangerously this time, and Tao and
JB quickly moved to help support him. Quickly they allowed him to sink
down into a chair.
"Did you not sleep well?" the dojo owner asked in a worried voice. Jeb,
Ryan's Redbone Coonhound, watched them from the door.
"Dreams," Ryan mumbled. "I can't remember- I have to remember." He was
almost in a trance, Kaitlin realized. Ryan had learned the tricks of self-hypnosis
early on, and had placed himself in almost a hypnotic state trying to jog
"Tao-" JB began, obviously coming to the same conclusions Kaitlin had.
"Do you think you could hypnotize him, get at those memories? It's pretty
obvious that he's gonna be useless to everybody until he remembers."
Tao nodded. "I will do what I can," he replied. As the older man turned
back to Ryan, Kaitlin and JB slipped out into the hall where Jeb was waiting.
"Jeb," Kaitlin began quietly, "Did anything weird happen to Ryan last night?
No skug attacks he "forgot" to tell us about?"
"Nada," the dog replied, sounding a great deal like Jack Nicholson. An
accident in the lab of Professor Horatio Hart, the Troopers' mentor, had
given the dog the ability to speak and near human intelligence. "We came
home, split a can of stew and hit the hay. He didn't even have a date,
not that that's anything unusual."
Kaitlin and JB regarded each other in puzzlement. Something like this almost
certainly had to be the work of Grimlord. No one else bore them nearly
as much resentment, especially Ryan.
"Excuse me," Tao said quietly, startling both teens. "I believe the two
of you should hear this." The three of them re-entered the dojo's main
room, where Ryan still sat, lost in a trance. "Ryan," Tao began gently,
"tell me about your dreams last night."
"Same one," the boy replied, in a voice that was dreamy and disconnected.
"Over and over. The images make no sense. Fire, pain. A dark cloud over
the earth. I can't see any more."
Tao frowned. After Ryan's father disappeared, the karate master had almost
come to regard the boy as his own son. He knew quite well how intuitive
Ryan was, and he was unwilling to write the nightmares off as simple dreams.
"Where is this darkness centered?" he asked quietly.
Despite the trance, a look of fear came into Ryan's eyes as he answered.
"South. In Angel Grove."
It was ten o'clock in New York City, but for four of its inhabitants, it
felt much later. The Ghostbusters had spent the last three hours chasing
a highly intelligent and motivated Class 5 power-sucker around a warehouse
in the Bronx. It looked, as Peter had announced, like "the results of an
affair between a jellyfish and a squid," plus it was a ridiculous shade
of neon blue. The ectoplasmic entity was capable of absorbing any type
of energy, including that of a normal human being. So far, it hadn't drained
any of its victims fatally, but it seemed like only a matter of time.
"Yeow!" Ray Stantz broke off his proton fire as the energy eater darted
at him. Ducking behind a stack of crates, Ray found himself sharing his
cover with his teammate, Peter Venkman.
"Isn't this great, Peter?" the auburn-haired occultist grinned, brown eyes
twinkling. His older teammate groaned.
"Sure, Ray, real great. May I remind you that we are trapped in a factory
by an energy-eating ghost that would love to have us over for dinner?"
Peter shook his head fondly. He might complain about Ray's enthusiasm for
their work, but to tell the truth, it was sometimes all that kept him going.
Ray, of course, had totally ignored the sarcasm in Peter's words. "Well,
I'll admit it's not my idea of a dream vacation, but wow! Did you see how
it ate the PKE meter?"
"I saw," Peter allowed. The damn thing had snatched the device directly
out of Egon Spengler's hand, swallowing it in one gulp. "This thing seems
to be able to eat almost any type of energy. Luckily, the proton streams
give it indigestion. But we're not getting anything done sitting back here.
Can you see Egon and Winston?"
Ray shook his head. "No, and that thing- well, ate my walkie-talkie." Ray
held up the device in question, which showed the unmistakable traces of
energy depletion. Peter groaned.
"Is there ANYTHING it won't nosh on?" he grouched, pulling his own walkie-talkie
off of his belt. "Yo, Egon! Boy Genius! Where are you?"
After a few seconds of silence, the physicist's dry tones came over the
handset. "Winston and I are currently sheltering behind a rather large
stack of boxes. We're on the western side of the main room. Where are you?"
"Same predicament, eastern side. Ray's here with me. Any ideas?"
"One, but I doubt you're going to like it. We need to bait it with something
so that we can get it out into the open."
"With what? We need all our packs, and I seriously doubt this thing is
gonna bite on my digital watch."
Ray gestured for the handset, which Peter handed to him, one dark eyebrow
raised. "Egon, I have an idea," Ray gushed. "We've got spare traps, right?
Those things pack a lot of power. I can modify one to emit an energy signal,
toss it out into the middle of the room, and let it go feed on that. When
it bites, we can trap it, and put it in one of our other traps."
"Sounds good, Ray. Do it; Winston an-d I will be ready." Spengler broke
off the transmission, and Ray quickly set to work.
Five minutes later, the occultist tossed the modified trap out into the
center of the room. The four Ghostbusters watched in breathless anticipation
as the creature descended from the rafters to settle onto the trap. As
the paranormal eliminators moved into position, Peter frowned. Something
was wrong with the picture. This was a little too easy. In his experience,
"easy" was usually a precursor to "scream and run." His green eyes ceaselessly
scanned the area, widening as he saw a blur of motion in the back of the
room, heading for Winston Zeddemore's back. Peter was processing the information
even as he was throwing himself towards the black man.-
There were TWO of the things.
All day long, the Ghostbusters had only seen one at a time, setting them
up for a blindside. Peter plowed into Winston at a headlong run, knocking
the other out of the path of the ghost. Unfortunately, he himself wasn't
so lucky. He felt the impact as the ghost rammed into him, and then the
cold stickiness of ectoplasm enveloping him. Great, slimed again,
he thought as the energy began flowing out of him. The world began to blur
around him, and he could faintly hear the sizzle of proton fire somewhere,
very far away.
"PETER!" Ray's horrified cry spit the air as the psychologist dropped to
the ground, the power-sucker's tentacles wrapped around him. Ray turned
in that direction, but a yell from Winston stopped him.
"Ray, get the other one! It's gonna move!"
Whirling semi-reluctantly, Ray helped Winston and Egon keep the second
energy-eater at bay with their proton streams.
"PETER!" Egon bellowed. "Take off the pack! It's a better source of energy
than you are! Get rid of it!"
Peter, lying on the ground, was barely aware of the physicist's bass voice
cutting through the fog in his brain. He did, however, still have the presence
of mind to know a good idea when he heard one, and laboriously detached
himself from the pack. Throwing the heavy piece of equipment as far from
him as possible, he collapsed to the ground again as the power-sucker went
Suddenly a cry roused Peter from his stupor. The power-suckers had joined
forces, and were evading the Ghostbusters' beams with phenomenal agility.
Snapping into a pair of power dives, the two ghosts simultaneously slamming
into Ray and Winston. Then they rounded on Egon, who had little chance
of keeping two spirits at bay with one thrower.
Fifteen years of instinct rose up suddenly, taking command of Peter's brain.
He was too tired to move a muscle, but Egon needed his help. Only half-aware
of what he was doing, Peter reached- and energy suddenly began flowing
through his body, sharpening his mind and giving him the strength to stand.
Without thought, Peter reached back over his shoulder for the rifle from
his proton pack, forgetting for a second that it was not there- and brought
it forward. He had no time to wonder about it, though. Instead, he aimed
and fired, sending a streak of green energy racing towards its target.
Green? Peter nearly dropped his thrower. Sure enough, the beam wasn't
his traditional yellow stream, or even the green-touched one that he had
produced ever since his first encounter with the Power Rangers. This beam
was pure, emerald green. However, as long as it worked like a proton thrower,
he wasn't going to argue.
Now Winston and Ray had gotten to their feet, and with four throwers, the
ghosts were quickly subdued. As the last ghost vanished into a trap, Peter
slung his thrower over his shoulder and walked over to his friends, wearing
his usual cocky smile. The expression vanished, however, when he realized
they were staring at him.
"What?" he asked, a mock-aggrieved tone in his voice. "You guys have seen
me pull off last-minute saves before."
Ray pointed. "Peter- look at yourself."
Frowning, the dark-haired Ghostbuster looked downward. His usual brown
jumpsuit was gone, replaced with one of identical style, but bright emerald
green. On the front of the jumpsuit, a gold coin bore the symbol of some
type of lizard. No, not a lizard, Peter remembered, a basilisk.
The animal symbol of his Morphin Grid powers. It was the same type of set-up
that the Morphin Warriors had on their costume. Suddenly realization set
Peter's scream was audible in some parts of Brooklyn.
"Beautiful morning, isn't it?" Chelsea asked, turning her face to the sun
beating down on her. With no Power Ranger emergencies or Oliver family
crises predicted for the near future, she and Trey were taking this moment
to enjoy a long walk in the park together.
"It sure is," Trey replied, slipping an arm around her. He just wished
he could enjoy it. He had been jumpy ever since he woke up that morning,
and could not seem to shake the feeling.
"I love college, but it's good to be home for the summer," she continued,
either unaware of or ignoring his emotional state. "Too many Secret Service
guys on campus."
Trey chuckled. "If it bothered you, how do you think she feels? I remember
being the equivalent of fourteen years old, and trying to ditch my bodyguards
at every turn." He chuckled. "I was quite probably the most rambunctious
prince the Triforian monarchy has produced in the past four millennia."
"I'm going to have trouble keeping up with our children, then," Chelsea
mused. "Tommy, Teddy, and I were all the same way."
Trey stopped dead in his tracks. "Our children?" he asked, somewhat startled.
He worried constantly that the ever-widening gap in their physical ages
might push Chelsea away from him before she was ready to make that kind
of commitment. In effect, she would be leaving the world she knew behind
forever. He wanted to believe she loved him enough to do that, but…
She grinned at him, breaking into his thoughts. "Yes, our children. It's
not a question of if I'll marry you anymore, Trey. I'm just- not ready
for it quite yet. Someday soon, though."
He stepped closer to her, closing the gap between them. Just as they were
about to kiss, a polite cough caused them to break apart. Surrounding them
were five nondescript men of varying races, dressed in dark suits and black
sunglasses. Her eyes narrowing, Chelsea stepped away from her boyfriend,
subtly taking a position that would allow her to cover Trey's back if necessary.
"Are you gentlemen lost?" she asked, a slight hint of sarcasm in her voice.
"I don't remember hearing that the cast of "Men In Black" was in town."
One, obviously the leader stepped forward. "Trey de K'niro, Prince of Triforia,
holder of the Gold Ranger powers?" he asked. Trey's eyes narrowed.
"I am," he assented carefully. He wasn't liking this one bit.
The man shimmered, becoming a silver-skinned robot clad in blue armor and
a white helmet. "You are under arrest by dictate of the Council for violating
Section V of the Treaty of Chrio."
Trey's jaw dropped. "You're hauling me in for violating the interdict?
You've got to be kidding me!"
"Trey, what is going on here?" Chelsea asked, watching as the other four
men shimmered and became robots identical to the first.
"They're Blue Senturion units," her boyfriend replied, his mind racing.
"IGPF, the bruisers. Hey!" This last was prompted by two of the Blue Senturion
units grabbing Chelsea and pulling her away from him.
"Lemme go!" she yelled. "Trey!"
"You are to be detained until trial," the Commander began, turning back
towards Trey. "You will have no contact with the outside world until that
time. Notification of your arrest will be sent to the appropriate parties."
Trey took a step away from the robot, falling into a defensive stance.
"This whole thing stinks," he growled. "Why do I get the funny feeling
I won't make it to trial?"
"Resistance may result in termination," the Blue Senturion unit warned.
"Commander," one of the lower-ranking units began, "what about the girl?"
"She's powerless," the leader replied. "She's of no concern to us."
CRUNCH! CRASH! The sounds of sudden mayhem caused Trey and the three Senturions
advancing on him to turn. One of the units that had been restraining Chelsea
was lying at the foot of a tree, a dent in its helmet testifying to the
force with which the girl had launched it. The other was just joining it,
as Chelsea helped its forward momentum with a foot planted in the small
of its armored back.
"What in the name of the Matrix?" the leader gasped. Chelsea dusted off
"After a dozen of Mondo's Cogs, you guys are simple," the girl chuckled.
The Senturions, realizing that they had taken their attention from their
target, turned back towards Trey, but too late.
"Gold Ranger Power!" In a flash of gold light, the Gold Ranger summoned
his golden power staff and leveled it at the three robotic policemen. "I
don't want to hurt you guys, but we both know if I go with you, I might
as well make my will out now. Chelsea!" The girl ran over to him, slipping
an arm around his waist. "Leave Earth. Now. Or you'll get worse than a
couple dents and a cybernetic headache." Then, in a flash of gold light,
the two were gone.
Upon their arrival in the Power Chamber, Chelsea and Trey found the other
Rangers already there, staring up at a rather grim looking Zordon. Shouldering
through the crowd, the Triforian prince made his way to the front of the
chamber. "Zordon, what's going on here?" he asked. "I just got rousted
by a Blue Senturion squad."
"I am aware of that," the interdimensional being rumbled. "Rangers, what
I have to tell you will not be easy. Perhaps in your time of service, you
have heard your planet referred to as "interdicted" or "off-limits." This
prohibition is in place to protect your developing civilization from the
effects of galactic culture, but also works to keep your "barbaric" people,
as some have termed you, in their place. Technically, the posting of a
Ranger team is the only interference allowed- but the Rangers are not supposed
to be of your race."
That brought a rousing "WHAT?" from the twenty-five humans in the room.
"It's true," Andros nodded. "Rangers are supposed to be recruited from
nearby planets, in the event of an invasion on an interdicted world. Never
mind that the invasion would destroy the culture anyway."
"So, if we were never supposed to be Rangers," Jason began, speaking for
all, "why did you choose us?"
"I spent centuries watching your people evolve, and I saw things in your
people that I had never seen before," Zordon replied. "You are tough and
spirited, and produce an inordinate number of warriors given your population.
You are resistant to magic, yet some of you are open enough to wield it.
But the main thing I saw in the five of you, and the rest of you as you
began to join the team, was a courage that burned far brighter than any
I had seen in a very long time, a courage that matched the greatest legends
of galactic history- or surpassed them. And through thick and thin, I have
never had cause to regret that decision. However, some members of the Council
have decided that my techniques are- somewhat unorthodox. Your membership,
Jamie, and especially yours, Tommy, are sources of discomfort to those
who had before been content to look the other way. In short- I have been
placed under arrest."
Jaws dropped all over the Power Chamber. The Earth-born Rangers were having
trouble with the concept that there was someone with the authority to arrest
Zordon, who was the only real representative of galactic power any of them
had really dealt with. Trey and Andros, meanwhile, were having trouble
of a different sort. Zordon of Eltare was a legend to them, a war hero
and wise sage. Hearing that he had been arrested hit them as if a Catholic
were told that the pope had been served a warrant.
"Well- what are we going to do about this?" Tommy asked, the first to find
"Unlike Trey, I am unable to escape from this decision," the wizard rumbled,
amused. "I was given only enough time to finish briefing you, and then
I will be confined to my time warp, unable to make contact with you through
my plasma tube."
"With no contact with anyone until the trial, right?" Trey added. "Sounds
to me as if someone's trying to railroad you. What happened to getting
someone to testify in your defense?"
Zordon looked over the assembly before him. Morphin Warriors, Zeo Rangers,
Turbo Rangers, and Astro Rangers, these children were his family, the family
he had never had. He could see by the stubborn looks on their faces that
they were not about to simply let this go. In that instant, he felt a wash
of pride stronger than anything he had ever known. "That," he said slowly,
"is up to you, Rangers. However, the Power Chamber's communications will
be deadened. If Trey's suspicions about this being orchestrated prove to
be valid, there will be someone watching to ensure that you do not interfere.
If you are to gain those to speak in my defense, you must go personally.
And it will not be easy, Rangers." His image began to flicker in and out,
and his voice began to fade. His last words before his image left the tube
were perhaps predictable, but no less heartfelt. "May the Power protect
you, Rangers. Good luck." Then he was gone. Alpha, standing in the corner,
gave one last beep and shut down.
"Now what?" Fred asked, looking around.
"Now," Billy interjected, "we start making plans. Let's go to the park.
There's more room there." In a flash of light, the twenty-seven teens disappeared.
"Our most obvious choices for witnesses on Zordon's behalf would be the
other members of the Order of the Meledan," Andros informed the gathered
Rangers. The inordinately large group was gathered in a rather deserted
section of the park, sitting in a circle. Currently, all attention was
on the Kerovan Astro Ranger as he spoke. "They were Zordon's teammates.
There's no way they wouldn't testify on his behalf, no matter what. It
would be like if one of us was on trial."
"One of us is," Rocky reminded him sardonically, looking at Trey.
Christina cocked her head. "Will they allow us to testify for him?"
"Wouldn't carry much weight," Andros replied, "but if we can prove that
Earth Rangers are just as capable as any other team, that will reflect
well in Zordon's favor."
"We've survived villains from Rita Repulsa to Dark Specter, and we're all
still here," TJ pointed out.
"We've also lost what, three sets of Zords and powers?" Jason reminded
him. "Not a great record."
Tommy raised a hand at that. "Technically, we didn't LOSE the Dino powers.
We simply modified the coins to draw both Dino and Thunder power. Admittedly,
we lost the Thunder powers to Rito, but we would have needed to give up
the Ninja Powers anyway, to fight the Machine Empire."
"Still, we've had our share of losses," Andros interjected, taking the
thread of conversation back. "But I think we can show that those were acceptable
for the goal. The point is, we need to get Zordon some more respected witnesses
as well. That means the three remaining members of the Order of the Meledan.
Lord Zarador of Danata, King Lexian of Edenoi and Dulcea of Phaedos. And
someone should inform the government of Eltare about this, too. If Trey's
right about this being a railroad, I'm sure whoever's responsible is keeping
this as tight under wraps as they can. We'll need to split up into teams
to go to the four different planets."
The Triforian prince broke in, "I'll head to Triforia, see what support
I can drum up there."
"WE'LL head to Triforia," Chelsea corrected him firmly. "If you think you're
leaving behind this time, Trey, you're sorely mistaken." He laughed and
nodded, conceding the point.
"And the Turbo Rangers should stay behind to protect Earth," Adam added.
"No offense, guys, but- someone has to stay, and I don't think a team of
fourteen year-old humans is going to impress the Council."
Fred nodded. "We understand. We don't mind, do we guys?" Four heads shook
"So how do we split up the three remaining teams?" Jamie asked. "By team,
and split the Zeos in half?"
Andros shook his head. "No, we're going to have to do this a little differently.
First off, we're going to need pilots. At least five, because we're going
to have to find extra transportation along the way. Who's qualified to
pilot a space craft?"
Billy and Trey raised their hands. Andros winced. "I can fly one myself,
but we're going to need at least two more."
"That means civilians," Trini groaned. "We can't put ordinary humans in
that type of danger!"
"Well," Andros said slowly, "I have something that might help one of the
people. The other one will just have to be a darn good pilot. Anyone know
anybody like that?"
Lillian raised her hand. "I do. My brother, Parker. Back before he was
the Gazette's- most valuable reporter, he moonlighted flying a news
chopper for K-Grove News. He can fly ANYTHING. Give him five minutes with
the controls of a spaceship, and he could fly it as well as you can, Andros."
The Red Astro Ranger nodded. "All right. What about the other choice?"
Ashley bit her lip. "I have this- old friend," she said haltingly. "Back
before I lived in Angel Grove, I was dating this guy- who wasn't nice at
all. My friend, Chris Sterling, was always sticking up for me, cleaning
me up if my boyfriend got a little rough. He's excellent at keeping a secret,
and he's the best I've ever seen on a flight simulator. I think he could
fly anything you put him in."
"Do you think you could get this guy to join us?" Andros asked.
Ashley smiled slightly. "I can try."
"All right. We can split everything up once we hit the ships and see what
skills are needed where."
"Guys," Tanya began, "if we're going to be off Earth for an unknown amount
of time, we probably ought to tell our parents where we're going. That
means telling them the truth, for some of us." The others nodded.
"All right," Tommy nodded. "We go home, make our good-byes, and Ashley,
you recruit your friend. Then we meet back here tomorrow morning and head
up to the Megaship. All right?" There were no objections, and the Rangers
all went their separate ways.
"Dad?" Billy swallowed as he walked into the house. He had no real idea
how he was going to go about this. After his mother had died so many years
ago, he and his father had come to depend implicitly on each other. Sure,
his dad had survived Billy's trip to Aquitar, but this was different. This
time, there was a very real possibility that he would never come back.
"In here, Billy." Hank Cranston's voice floated out of the room he used
as a study. Billy smiled fleetingly. He should have known. Just as his
garage lab had always been his refuge, his father spent most of his time
in his study, working on the various reports for the companies he consulted
for- or just playing computer games. It was a bit of a toss-up.
Walking into the study, Billy paused for a minute to take in the surroundings.
Dark wallpaper, a warm brown carpet, and brown leather furniture all conspired
to give the appearance of a warm, cozy nest. Billy had spent a great deal
of his childhood here, being read to, talking, and occasionally being chewed
out by one parent or another. It seemed incredible that he might never
see it again. "Dad, I need to talk to you for a minute."
The serious tone in his son's voice alerted Hank to the fact that this
wasn't just an idle conversation. Switching off his game, he turned his
chair around. "What's the problem?" he asked seriously, as Billy took a
seat in one of the other chairs.
"I have something to tell you," the teen genius began. "Well, actually
a lot of somethings. Do you remember five years ago, how I was always dashing
out of the house at odd intervals?"
Hank nodded. "And coming home bruised and dirty, when before, you seemed
like you were made of Teflon. I may not be your level, but I'm fairly observant."
"Well- the reason all that happened was that- five years ago, I became
a Power Ranger. The Blue one." Billy had expected his father to be surprised,
shocked, and maybe even angry. He had certainly not expected amusement.
"Good grief, Billy, you thought I didn't know? Your wardrobe suddenly contained
nothing but blue clothing, you came home bruised and battered, and suddenly
Jason Scott and Kimberly Hart were over here all the time, when before
you barely spoke to each other. Five kids, color-coded wardrobes, and you
started taking martial arts? It didn't take me long to figure it out, and
your trip to Aquitar just confirmed it. The only way you would have been
in a position to go to an alien planet was if you were involved with the
Power Rangers in some way."
Billy grinned. "And to think I spent all this time sneaking around, trying
to keep you from finding out." He took a deep breath. "Dad, there's a problem,
sort of a- galactic emergency. I'm going to have to go off planet for a
while, I don't know how long. It might be dangerous, and there's a chance
I may not come back."
Hank Cranston paled. With his wife and parents both gone, Billy was the
only family he had left. How could he think of letting his only son go
off into danger like that? But looking into Billy's eyes, he knew he could
do nothing else. Letting out a shaky breath, he stood.
"Billy, something just occurred to me. I don't think that I ever told you
before how very proud of you I am. And I know your mother would be proud
of you, too. You've grown up into a better person than I could have ever
dreamed you would be."
Getting to his feet, Billy threw his arms around his father in a tight
hug. "I love you, Dad," he said quietly.
"I love you too, son."