A/N: I do not own Power Rangers Mystic Force, or any of the Power Ranger teams for that matter, therefore I borrow for entertainment purposes.
For SilverMoonSparkles and artychick7 for the lovely reviews and gentle nudges to get this story going again
Once more, sorry for the super long delay. Unfortunately there have been many for this story, but I've a personal rule where I finish all my stories. And I'll finish this one...eventually. So thanks for sticking with it for so long. I really do appreciate it. Also, because I have lost a lot of the inspiration I once had for this story, I fear that the characters may seem a little off, so let me know if they are and I'll do what I can to prevent it in the future. I hope this chapter lives up to your expectations and is worth the wait. Even if it's only a little.
On with the reading!
Immediately Vida's arm swung out, her elbow slamming into Sakmis's chest. Apparently, she'd caught him off guard as he had her. Using the opportunity, she rolled away and pulled out her morpher, dialing the code.
"Magical Source! Mystic Force!"
Taking a second to catch his breath, Sakmis stood to face the newly transformed Ranger. "That wasn't very nice. Nya!"
"Neither is sneaking up on people!" She shot back before she rushed at him.
Down in the pit Xander looked up in worry, only able to hear what was going on and not liking the sound of it. There was a lot of hissing taunts from the cat and a lot of bumps and crashes which he could only hope wasn't Vida being tossed around.
When he heard her cry out he'd reached his limit. Pit or no pit, he was helping his friend.
"Magical Source! Mystic Force! Vine Power!" Seconds later thick, heavy green vines were growing up the sides of the hole. Climbing quickly, he was out just in time to see Sakmis pinning Vida to a tree.
"Big mistake." Changing his MagiStaff into his signature axe as he ran, he leapt up with the axe poised over his head, ready to bring it down on his opponent.
Forced to move or be decapitated Sakmis leaped away and landed on all fours some distance away, his tail fluffed up and hissing angrily in Xander's direction.
The green granger quickly pried his weapon out of the ground. "You okay V?"
"I'll live," she replied hotly, "and I'll be great as soon as we bust up that feline."
"Same here," he replied and then they attacked him together.
Madison's steps faltered as the sound of a battle drifted back through the trees and reached her ears. "You guys?"
"I hear it," Nick acknowledged, a focused frown dancing across his face. "Sounds like trouble."
"Maybe Xander and V really lost their tempers with each other?" Chip suggested hopefully. The hope evaporated at the grim expressions his friends regarded him with. "Yeah...I thought you'd think that."
Nick whipped out his morpher and smiled wryly at the confused and concerned look Madison shot in his direction. "With psycho opponents like Sakmis running around, I'm not taking any chances."
Nodding, she and Chip followed suit.
"Magicl Source! Mystic Force!" In a flourish of blue, red, and yellow lights the three of them were off, racing through the trees at a pace only worry for a friend could inspire.
When they arrived on the scene, they found Xander on his back, his wrists pinned under Sakmis's feet and Vida amongst the roots of a distant tree, pushing herself up onto her hands and knees, gasping for breath.
The fastest of the three, Chip lunged forward with a battle yell. He wrapped his arms around the feline's torso as he tackled him from behind and the two of them went tumbling to the ground.
Nick was right behind him, but slid to a stop above his friend.
"You okay?" He demanded, holding out hand and hoisting the green ranger to his feet.
"Better now. Thanks mate." Xander bent to scoop up his discarded axe.
Madison breezed past them all, leaving the guys to handle Sakmis momentarily as she moved in to help her sister. "Are you okay, Sis? Are you hurt?" She asked, dropping to her knees beside her sibling.
Vida shook her head as she took a deep, steadying breath. "Not hurt. Just had the wind knocked out of me is all."
"Not all of it I hope?" Maddie joked lightly, pulling her sister up with her as she stood. "I get the feeling you'll need it." She sensed rather than saw the smirk that Vida shot her way.
"No, definitely not all of it," Vida replied. "I've got enough to deal with the furball."
Sakmis leapt away from the yellow ranger with an angry yowl. Landing in a crouch he slowly rose to his feet, his tail lashing angrily behind him. "Five against one is hardly fair," he taunted, tugging on an ear.
"Well we are a team," Nick pointed out dryly.
"And you attacked us!" Xander pointed out, waving his weapon for emphasis. "Me? I'm always for sorting these things out through conversation," he muttered to himself before confronting his leader. "Why can't we ever talk anything out?"
A sinister smirk settled across Sakmis's face and a fang flashed. "How 'bout we even the odds, nya?" A dark seal appeared between him and the Rangers.
"Xander!" Vida barked as she and Madison joined the guys.
"What?" He barked back.
"Focus!" She used her MagiStaff to point at the purple seal rotating in the middle of the small clearing. There was a flash of light and the seal was gone, leaving in its place a large, tall, very round, very furry thing.
"It's..." Maddie began hesitantly, "kind of cute—what?" She asked defensively, ducking her shoulders and head as four black visors of varying shapes snapped toward her. "It is!"
And while none of them were about to agree with her out loud, she was right. To put it simply, the new arrival looked more less like a large teddy bear. A baby teddy bear, complete with oversized diaper, bonnet, and rattle.
"Ohhh-kay," Xander hummed, shifting his weight to the left. "Am I the only one having a hard time taking this fight seriously all of a sudden?"
"Ooooh!" Chip's arm shot straight up into the air. "I am! I am!"
"Don't let your guards down," Nick ordered. "We don't know what he could be planning."
"You've no idea," Sakmis taunted. With a snap of his fingers, three things happened at once: several more dark seals appeared across the clearing, surrounding the rangers and unleashing numerous Hidiacs upon them, the bear creature let out a roar that was far from cute, and Sakmis leapt up into a graceful back flip to land seamlessly on a tree branch from where he watched the fight unfold.
"MagiStaff! Sword Mode!" Nick yelled just in time to block an attack from the Hidiac closest to him. Shoving up and out, he sent the Hidiac stumbling backward in time for Nick to throw a powerful kick backward to send another one flying into two others, sending them all into a chaotic heap on the ground.
Chip leapt backwards, throwing himself into a series of back flips in order to put some distance between himself and the Hidiacs. Doing so provided him with the chance he needed to summon his bow and give him the distance needed to use it. For each lightening arrow he fired, at least two Hidiacs fell to the ground, paralyzed or unconscious.
Vida immediately unleashed her wind power, knocking the feet out from under any Hidiac within a ten foot radius.
Xander slammed his axe into the ground. "Vine Power!" From the earth sprung countless vines that twisted and turned, knotting themselves around ankles and legs and torsos, bringing any and every enemy they caught to the ground and keeping them there.
Madison brought up her MagiStaff to block one attack while she blocked another with her forearm. Bending at the knees slightly, she suddenly straightened shoving up and out to push them away. Then she suddenly dropped to the ground and swept out the feet from underneath a Hidiac in front of her before flipping over the fallen opponent and out of the way before the others could retaliate.
Dodging a blow to the head, she stumbled back and into another body. She gave a sigh of relief when that body happened to be Nick.
"Sorry," she breathed, fending off an attack.
"Don't be, you've arrived just in time," he replied. Grabbing her wrist he yanked her toward him, but just as she was about to crash into him, he bent at the waist. Continuing with the momentum, Madison rolled across his back swinging her legs out in a cartwheel fashion. She sent two Hidiacs flying with powerful kicks before her feet where on the ground once more.
"The bear!" A new voice shouted. "Look out for the bear!" Bursting through the trees the Gold Ranger arrived, brandishing her sword, and with a transformed Daggeron at her side.
Nick's attention snapped to the bear immediately. His eyes widened to see it charging toward them all, its giant rattle held back and over its shoulder. As the rattle came down in a sweeping motion Nick didn't even think before reacting. Tossing his sword aside, he wrapped his arms around Madison's waist, pinning her arms to her side as he spun them around, shielding her with his body.
From the rattle, a thick shower of glimmering spores burst forth. Vida immediately threw up a wind, preventing any of the dust from touching her, but a bit preoccupied with opponents Xander and Chip had no option but to be bathed in the stuff. Protecting Madison, Nick too was covered in a thick layer.
"Three out of five..." Sakmis hummed. "I'll take it." With a snap of his fingers multiple spell circles appeared, pulling the Hidiacs underground as well as the oversized bear, and then he too vanished.
"Nick?" Madison murmured after a moment, her heart pounding as hard as his against her back.
"Are you all right?" He asked, his arms unfurling from around her waist.
"I should be asking you that," she admonished, turning around to face him.
"I feel fine," Nick said, confused. Rotating his shoulder forward, he glanced back at his shoulder blade to get a better look at the dust coating his back.
"What is that stuff?" Madison asked, reaching to touch the spores when a hand caught her wrist.
"Don't touch it," Daggeron instructed, gently lowering her arm as he studied the spores. Pale copper in color, they looked like over-grown pollen spores.
"What? Why not?" Maddie questioned, a trace of worry seeping into her tone. "Do you know what it is, Daggeron?"
The knight shook his head. "I've no idea, which is why I don't want you touching it. We don't know what it does, but I doubt it's anything good."
Nick felt his stomach knot as worry for his own well-being sunk in, but Daggeron was right. The less of them that came into contact with the spores the better.
"Should I start panicking?" Chip asked as he came over, brushing at the dust on his arms. "Because I can do that!"
"I'd really appreciate it if you didn't," Vida told him, sidestepping to avoid the dust he sent flying everywhere. "I think we're all high-strung enough as it is."
"Rose?" Daggeron said, turning to the Gold Ranger. Nick had informed them all that Rose was the name she'd agreed to answer to. "I don't suppose you know what the purpose of these spores is?"
The girl shook her head with a helpless shrug. "I've never seen that thing before. I haven't heard anything about it either...though, it was sort of cute."
"That's what I said!" Madison said with small smile.
"Yeah, yeah, it was cute," Xander dismissed, "but was it dangerous? I mean, last time any of us got covered in something, Nick and Vida couldn't transform."
Vida and Nick exchanged a look. "That was fun," she scoffed bitterly.
"And inconvenient," Nick added. "There's only one way to find out if that's its purpose though. Release our transformations and try it out."
"The sooner the better," Xander announced. Letting his transformation go, his suit vanished in a shower of green light.
Nick and Chip followed his example, but before any of them could reach for their morphers and give it a go, the spores which had remained after they had all untransformed, began to glow dimly before they seemingly sunk into their clothes and skin.
"Uh-oh," Chip hummed, patting at his arms and chest. He peered closely at his palms to see if there was any residue. "That can't be good... can it?"
Nick and Xander were too busy checking themselves over to answer.
Rose answered in their place. "No. I really don't think it can."
Nick frowned as a tingling sensation began in his fingers. Raising his hand up for closer inspection, his frown deepened as the tingling spread across his palm, to his wrist and up his arm.
"Nick?" Daggeron said at the same time Maddie took a concerned step toward him.
Before he could reply, he, Xander and Chip were encompassed in a blinding light, forcing the others to look away. When it ebbed, the three of them were gone leaving behind three piles of clothing on the forest floor.
"Xander?" Vida called, looking around. "Chip? Guys!"
She was answered by first one cry, and then another, quickly followed by a third. She turned toward her sister, the butterfly-shaped visor hiding the look of utter bewilderment on her face. "Noooooo. There's no way," she scoffed, a hint of doubt in her tone. "Right?"
Maddie didn't reply. Instead she dropped to her knees next to one of the clothing piles. She pulled back Nick's leather vest and found squirming beneath it a squirming, crying baby. A naked one. "Oh!" Blushing furiously, though no one could tell, she quickly wrapped the infant in the vest and scooped him up into her arms. "Is this—?"
"Nick," Daggeron finished. "I—yes. Yes I believe it is,"
Following suit, Vida made quick work of bundling up baby Chip and Daggeron knelt to take care of Xander.
"This is bad," Vida said, bouncing Chip in her arms to soothe his cries. It wasn't long before he was giggling in her arms as she continued to bounce. "This is very bad. I don't do babies!"
"But you're a natural," Madison pointed out, shifting baby Nick into a more comfortable place in her arms, his head supported in the crook of her elbow.
"It's Chip," Vida protested dryly. "He's always been easily amused. Daggeron, please?" She approached their mentor, holding Chip out for him to take. She placed him in his free arm before the knight could protest and bent to retrieve all of the clothes on the ground.
Daggeron looked from Xander, who was still crying, to Chip who couldn't seem to see everything quick enough.
"Where's Rose?" Madison asked suddenly. Vida and Daggeron glanced around.
Vida snorted. "That girl disappears as quickly as she shows up."
"An issue to be dealt with another day," Daggeron told them as he readjusted his hold on the two infants in his arms. "We'd best get them back to Root Core."
The two sisters hummed their agreement.
"Just so you know?" Vida said randomly. "I am not changing any diapers."