Disclaimer: Power Rangers in Space does not belong to me. All original characters do.

Fallen Stars-Part Seven

Karone leaned back in her comfortable chair. She could hear the excited chatter of her friends as they led Ecliptor and his family on a tour of the Megaship. She had denied the role of tour guide, leaving it to the others. Already she felt like an intruder in his family and they hadn't yet been there a day. There was no guarantee that Darkonda was destroyed, and if he wasn't, then there would be a good chance he'd go after them. Therefore, all the rangers had agreed that it would be safest if they remained under their protection. Karone agreed right away, but still, it made her feel strange seeing them together, like a family should be. Though she loved her friends and brother and knew they'd be there if she needed them, she wanted to be alone for a while. That was how she'd always solved her problems before: alone. So far, though, it wasn't helping this time.

"Hey, what's up?" Zhane strolled onto the bridge leisurely, smiling broadly at her.

"Hi," she mumbled. She forced herself to smile. He wasn't fooled.

Zhane grabbed a chair and sat on it backwards. He rested his head on it, facing her. "Whatcha doin'?" he asked sweetly.

Karone suppressed a giggle. Somehow, just his mere presence was cheering her up already.

"Nothing," she replied. "You?"
"Nuttin. I'm bored," he whined, looking up at her with puppy dog eyes.

"So what do you want me to do about it?" she asked. She ruffled his hair. He was too cute.

"Hey, don't mess with the hair. It takes work to look this good."

"Yeah, a lot of work," she teased. "What do you want to do?"

"I don't know, what do you wanna do?" he asked playfully. He rolled closer and pushed her hair out of her face. Karone could feel his breath on her neck. His closeness made her nervous, but it was interesting too, very interesting indeed.

Karone was about to answer when the door opened.

"We're home!" Her brother called out. He and Ashley came in, carrying two big paper bags with the word "Walbaum's" on them. Instantly they jumped apart.

Andros regarded them warily. "And what exactly have you two been doing?" he asked.

"N-nothing," Zhane gulped. "We were just talking, I swear. Honest."
Ashley giggled. "Guilty, guilty, guilty."
Karone blushed. "What's in the bag?" she asked, changing the subject.

"Come to the work bay and see," Andros replied. He shot Zhane a look.

"I swear, I didn't do anything!" Zhane pleaded, following his best friend down the hall. Karone and Ashley trailed behind single file, keeping Karone as far away from her over-protective brother's wrath as possible.

"Then drop it already. It's your guilty conscience that's telling me otherwise," Andros pointed out.

Zhane contemplated this for a moment. "Oh, okay." He clamped his mouth shut and remained quiet the rest of the walk.

All of the other rangers and their guests were sitting around the dinner table when they arrived. The Earth Rangers jumped up to greet them.

"Patience!" Ashley held the bag high out of their reach. Andros copied her. "I don't want you guys to spoil your dinner." They all stared at her. "Just kidding," she grinned.

"Ash, you feeling okay? I thought you'd never even joke about that," Cassie said. She felt her best friend's forehead with one hand, and made a grab for the bag with the other. With the agility of the former cheerleader that she was, Ashley quickly jumped out of the way.

"Uh, uh, uh, not until you all sit and behave yourself." They scurried around, like children playing musical chairs. Carlos nearly sat on Emma, who was blushing furiously. Aurelia put her husband's sword in her lap. He glared at her.

Ashley set the bag down on the table, holding it closed.

"I figured," she began, "that the best way to welcome you guys to the ship,
she nodded to Ecliptor and his family and the two newest rangers, "is with a party. But not just any party," She pulled out a cardboard container from the bag, "an ice cream party."

The Rangers all cheered, except for Karone and Sidra, who looked confused. Alpha, who had come to see what all the commotion was about, would have rolled his eyes if he had any. Instead, the little lights went around his head. "Ay-yai-yai-yai-yai!" he complained. "For people your age. How old are you again? Five?"

TJ clasped his metal shoulder. "Come on, Alpha, no one's too old for ice cream. And you're just jealous cause you can't eat like the rest of us."

"I am no such thing!" he protested.

"Liar, liar, circuitry on fire," DECA taunted. Andros, who did have them, rolled his eyes.

"You're no better DECA," he pointed out. "Who was the one, if I recall correctly, that had her camera stuck in the Synthatron?"

"I most certainly did not! I was framed, I tell you, framed!"

Ashley groaned. "Honestly, who are the children here? You'll have to forgive them," she commented to Sidra, who was standing next to her. "They're all babies, the lot of them."

"Speak for yourself," said TJ.

"Pot calling the kettle black," added Carlos.

"I beg your pardon?" she said haughtily, trying to keep her dignity.

"Er, Ash," Andros said timidly, "They're kinda right."

"What?" She glared at her boyfriend. "I'm not a baby!"
He raised an eyebrow. "Who was it that practically threw a temper tantrum a week ago, because some people threw out the cookies she made?" The other rangers groaned, wincing at the memory.

"For your information, I did NOT throw a temper tantrum. Stop shaking your heads!" They froze and put on their most innocent looking faces. "And besides," she turned back to her boyfriend and said sweetly, "I made them for you. And not these pigs!"

"We're not pigs!" Zhane jumped in. "And FYI, that is for your information, if you didn't know, your beloved boyfriend- OW!"
His best friend kicked him in the shin. Karone stifled a giggle. "She doesn't know that I gave them to you because I can't stand her cooking," he whispered.

"Well don't blame me because you're afraid to stand up to your own girlfriend," he hissed loudly.

"Ahem!" Ashley cleared her throat, unable to contain her annoyance. The room fell silent. The two Kerovians turned away from each other with a "humph".

Aurelia glanced at her husband. Aren't they supposed to be the good guys? Is it this chaotic on the other side of the fence?

Nope. Unknown to the rangers, their people could speak to mind to their spouses and children, due to a special bonding ceremony that was their version of a wedding, and similar DNA patterns.

I for one find this amusing, Emma chimed in. It's good to know that even Power Rangers can act like normal teenagers. Too good is just- scary. She shuddered. Ecliptor had to admit that she did have a good point. Humans were humans after all, superhero or no. And they were still practically kids, from his point of view. But back to the current problem.

"Anyway," Ashley continued cheerfully. It still amazed Andros that she could back so quickly. But it was a blessing in this situation. You know, sometimes I'm glad that she has a short memory span. He gazed at his girlfriend affectionately. Unable to control herself this time, Karone allowed a small giggle to escape. Fortunately, Ashley didn't hear.

"We have lots of toppings for you." She emptied the contents of the bag creating a rather large pile of Ashley's favorite thing: junk food. The Earth-born rangers stared at in wonderment, like little kids in a candy story. One of the perks of living in space without adult supervision was "No snacking between meals" didn't apply here. The only reason they couldn't live like this everyday was that the Synthatron wasn't exactly the best cook, particularly when in came to Earth foods. As for Ashley's attempts, well, more often than not it ended up as refuse, probably abandoned on some planet for the unfortunate alien inhabitants to deal with.

"Let's see." She rummaged through the piles. "We've got maraschino cherries," TJ made a grab for the jar, "butterscotch," Carlos snatched that one, "chocolate syrup," she saved that for herself, "caramel sauce," Cassie's, "sprinkles, both chocolate and rainbow," Andros levitated the little bottles towards himself, "marshmallow flush," "Interesting, "Karone remarked, " whipped cream," Zhane opened it and sprayed some in his mouth, making all except TJ, his teacher, shudder, "and much more." She turned to the newcomers. "I'm sure you'll find something you like."

"Okay, if you say so," said Emma bravely. She dipped her finger into the butterscotch jar that Carlos had so unselfishly offered her. "Hmm, tasty."

"Man, I could live on this stuff," Zhane said, his mouth full of cream, both inside and out.

"You're foaming at the mouth!" Sidra said horrified. She gave him a napkin. "Gross." She examined a carton of ice cream. "Who are Ben and Jerry? And do your people really eat them?"
"That's no weirder than eating this guy," Karone told her. "Who ever heard of somebody named Haggan Daz? Oh well." She grabbed a spoon and dug it into the ice cream. It was hard as a rock.

Ashley giggled. "Those are brand names," she explained. "Let it defrost a bit." She swallowed a spoonful of Rocky Road, dripping with chocolate. "They're the ones who made them. Ice cream is just milk and sugar and a lot of additives that I'd rather not know about, but they're all on the label if you're interested. I find that it spoils my appetite." She licked her spoon clean, making sure not a drop of chocolate was left. Andros wiped some syrup off her chin.

"Honestly, you're a messier eater than Zh-" He was interrupted by DECA, who'd been quiet and sullen all the time, suddenly crackling to life.

"Incoming transmission. Report to the bridge immediately. I repeat. Incoming transmission. Report to the bridge immediately."

The team and co. exchanged glances and raced to their respective seats on the bridge. Andros took his normal position, assuming leadership as always. The others looked on worriedly.

"Mayday!" A voice cracked. The screen was filled with static. "We are under attack by Dark Spectre's soldiers. Mayday!" The transmission came to an abrupt end.

Andros's jaw dropped. He stood there, staring at the blank screen. His shoulders were trembling. Ashley quickly ran over to him and clutched him to her. "Andros, what's wrong?"

The others stared at them in surprise. Andros never seemed like this before, not even when he found his sister. There was a mixture of joy and terror in his eyes. Only Zhane had an inkling of what was wrong. Trying to find his voice, he began "Andros, wasn't that…?"
Andros turned around to face his comrades. "That's… that was my dad…"

To be continued…