AGPD Disclaimer- For the benefit of the lawsuit-inclined, Saban owns the Rangers. I don't. All characters, concepts, and small fuzzy creatures used without permission. Daystar Dianthan/Hunter and Parker O'Neil are mine, however. Please ask before borrowing. This story is number 32 in the Personality Conflicts series, set after "Firebird Run." It is also rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for violence, language, and brief nudity. (Hmm... guess the title's appropriate, huh?)

AGPD Blue

"That is a problem, isn't it?" Rocky De Santos leaned against the nearest console, his arms folded in thought. "We've never really had to deal with anything like this before. Most of the time we just do a little hacking, and the new arrival is off to high school."

The Blue Senturion, time-traveler, robotic police unit, and all-around best hope for Angel Grove's future, regarded the young Ranger dryly. "I do not believe I would be able to fit in as well as Andros and Zhane have," he pointed out.

The two of them were meeting in the Power Chamber to discuss the problem that had recently made itself known. In the three months since Blue Senturion's arrival in the twentieth century, the robot had been ensconced in the headquarters of the Power Rangers, relating every conceivable piece of information in his memory banks that might possibly help the Rangers stop the disastrous invasion of the Shadow Empire. It was an event that loomed ever larger over Earth's defenders as the May 25 deadline drew nearer. Rocky had seen with his own eyes the blasted, barren timeline resulting from the Shadow victory, and had vowed to stop it, no matter what.

So for three months, Blue Senturion had gone over his knowledge, with Zordon and with the Rangers, planning, searching, and generally making preparations. Now, however, there was a sudden shortage of things for their time-traveler to do. Billy and Justin (or more precisely, their future incarnations) had built the Senturion, using as a base the general robotic police enforcers used in the rest of the galaxy. Senturion units were not a line known for their inactivity, and this particular unit, granted full sentience, was beginning to grow bored. As Rocky knew from years of friendship with Adam, bored law enforcement officers are never a good thing.

So the current question was what to involve Blue Senturion in, to give him some sort of purpose? "Well," Rocky declared, "we can't keep you cooped up here, and a secret identity is pretty much out of the question. Unless you can think of something, Zordon?"

"I am sorry, Rocky, I cannot," the inter-dimensional being replied.

"Which pretty much leaves us with going public," Rocky continued. "Can we do that?"

Zordon chuckled. "Rocky, I tossed the Code Book out the window about five minutes after selecting Jason and his team."

"Well, yeah, but we don't want you getting arrested again, so it's better to keep ammunition down to a minimum."

"Secrecy on this planet has already been compromised-"

"You mean it's been shot to hell," Rocky corrected dryly.

The Morphin Master ignored the interruption, continuing. "Since the existence of galactic society is no longer a closely held secret, movement is already underway to make Earth a full-fledged member of the Council of Worlds. Revealing the existence of a Blue Senturion unit will not do anymore damage than has already been done, and can be explained as the first step in preparing the planet for such a contact."

"Cultural liaison?" Blue Senturion mused. "That explanation could also be used to explain my presence to the local authorities."

Rocky grinned. "Of course, the Feds may give them a bit of a hassle about immigration laws... if they even notice what's written on the citizenship form."

"This sounds like a good idea to me," the robot mused. "But what about employment?"

If possible, Rocky's grin seemed to stretch even wider. "Well, I don't have anything arranged, exactly, but I have an idea..."

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Trevor Park had known very early on that it was going to be one of those days. During breakfast, Franklin had been called out for an emergency, returning home covered in some type of purple slime and radiating "bad mood." The police detective knew that the fallout from whatever creature the Rangers had dealt with would be sitting on his desk when he got to work. So Trevor had been expecting something would be off when he got to work. The last thing he had expected, however, was to find Chief of Police standing in his bullpen, speaking quite calmly with Rick Winslow, his partner- and the Blue Senturion.

"What's going on here?" Trevor asked, raising a hand to his forehead. "Or should I just go in my office, read the reports, and pretend I never asked?"

The chief flashed him a smile that could give lessons on the meaning of "obnoxious." Dad taught you never to hit a lady, Trevor reminded himself roughly. Or a superior officer. Now he KNEW he wasn't going to like this.

"Detective Park," Chief Mackenzie greeted him. "It appears that the Angel Grove Police Department has a new applicant. Considering the... circumstances and his previous experience, we've decided to waive the Academy and simply place him. I thought your department was the best place for him."

"You want to be a cop," Trevor asked, still trying to get this straight. "You know we have rules, and take people to trial and everything."

Blue Senturion chuckled. "I have committed Earth Police Procedure to my memory banks," he assured the detective. "And the job itself is performed in a similar manner among the worlds of the Council."

"But you're not-" Trevor began, then noticed Rick's almost imperceptible headshake. Trevor sighed.

"Fine. Who am I to complain about the lack of sanity in this department?" He raised an eyebrow in the chief's direction. "Has he got a desk?"

"We'll have one sent up immediately," she replied, giving him a satisfied smile. Nodding to Rick and the Senturion, she walked out of the bullpen.

Trevor watched her go, growling slightly. "That woman," he began.

"Is one hell of a cop," Rick finished. "YOU just don't like her because she's as stubborn as you are." The blond man turned to Blue Senturion. "That's the first thing you have to learn about our fearless leader here," he explained. "He's really sweet and cuddly once you get to know him."

"If you're through making me sound like a Care Bear," Trevor drawled, "I think we'd better get our new arrival settled in with his partner and his paperwork, don't you?"

The Senturion blinked. "Partner?"

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"You what?" Daystar Dianthan (or Hunter, depending on who you asked) blinked at Trevor across his desk. The detective had decided to have this conversation in his office, away from prying eyes. So now Daystar and Blue Senturion stood in front of his desk, eyeing each other skeptically, while Rick sat in one of the chairs, trying not to laugh himself sick.

"Come on, Star," Trevor sighed, leaning back in his chair. "He needs a partner. You are the only member of this squad with any experience working with Blue Senturion units."

"But he's NOT a Blue Senturion unit!" she exploded. "He's SENTIENT. Not to mention that he was programmed four years in the future, by Billy and Justin. He bears about as much resemblance to the kind of Senturions I've worked with as... as Alpha does to your coffee maker!"

"Blue Senturions aren't sentient?" Rick chipped in. "What about the ones who tried to arrest Trey?"

Daystar shook her head. "Very sophisticated robots. They're capable of emulating emotions, but they don't really FEEL anything. Nor do they really have any concept of 'self.' Big difference."

"Actually," Blue Senturion interjected, "the relationship is closer than that. A lot of my thought processes and processing capabilities are similar to those of regular Senturions."

"You're still different, though."

Trevor raised his hands as if to admit defeat. "All right, all right. Objection noted. However, there's still my other reason- you need a partner. Face it, Star, you can't just keep grabbing me or Rick when you need back-up, and nobody else is going to overlook your- occasional slip-ups."

"Nobody who fits the partnership rules around here, anyway," Rick added. "Um- you ARE psychically deaf, aren't you?"

Blue Senturion nodded. "Well, technically speaking. I can sense psychic energy in the same way I can sense electrical energy, but it won't overwhelm me, nor does it affect me in any conventional manner."

Trevor grinned. "I don't have to ask about your hand-to-hand skills- you got a weapon?"

"Indeed." Reaching down to his side, the robot indicated a blue-plated pistol. "Senturion Laser. Standard issue for the Senturion Corps. Billy and Justin... upgraded it a bit."

"We'll see about getting it declared passable for on-duty use. Does it have a stun setting?"

"Yes, sir."

"Fine. Star, any problems with this?"

She sighed. "No, sir," the woman responded, aiming a blue glare at him.

"Good. Now get out of my office and go fill out forms!"

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Forms filled and filed and the bullpen mostly empty, Daystar took the opportunity to fill her new partner in on the peculiarities in the operation of the "Monster Squad."

"First off, as far as you know my name is Lt. Daystar Hunter, got it? 'Dianthan' isn't exactly a normal Earth name, so when the brains made me a past, they changed it. Friends call me 'Star.'"

"What should I call you?"

She grinned. "'Daystar' will do for now. We are partners. Do you mind if I call you 'Blue?' It's a lot easier to yell in a crisis."

"'Blue' is fine," he chuckled.

"Good. I'll introduce you to the rest of the crew later when they come in. Technically, you call them by rank and last name, but it shouldn't take you long to wind up on a first-name basis with them. We're pretty loose around here. However, unless you want a chewing out, Trevor is ALWAYS 'sir' or 'detective' while we're on duty. He's a stickler for that, pretty much because he's in charge."

Blue Senturion cocked his head. "The command structure for this unit is... unusual, isn't it?"

"Oh, brother, you don't know the half of it. Usually the Homicide unit- that's technically what we are- would be headed by a captain, with a bunch of detectives and uniforms under him. That's how things were, up until about Dark Specter's invasion. See, the homicide rate is pretty low in Angel Grove, so ever since the Rangers appeared, Homicide cops have been taking up the slack in monster-related activities. Well, the murder rate's still low, but monster activity's been going up. So finally, the top brass decided this unit wasn't cost-efficient, and there was a big shake-up. A lot of people were voluntarily re-assigned, most of 'em to Robbery or Violent Crimes. Trevor was put in charge, partly because he knows the Rangers, partly because of his background, and partly because he wound up coordinating activities anyway. Rick stayed with him- they've been partners a long time. Anybody who stayed with him stayed knowing they'd be dealing with monsters primarily, and homicides in any time that was left. So there're probably a few hiccups in the chain of command around here, but if you just ignore them, you'll do fine."

"I see." Blue Senturion digested all this for a minute, then shrugged. "So, what do we have to do now?"

Daystar's face split in a most wicked grin. "How well do you type?"

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"I do not believe that." Daystar watched in astonishment as the printer spat out yet another perfectly transcribed report. From where he sat at her terminal, Blue Senturion gave her a grin. Really, it's amazing how fluid the metal of his face is, Daystar reflected.

"My visor acts as an optical scanner. All I have to do is read your report, and transmit it to this machine of yours. Of course, your handwriting is abysmal..."

"Can I help it if English isn't my first language? Galactic Standard characters have NO relation to those things!"

"Hmm. You might have better luck with Sanskrit," he agreed.

"If you two are finished with the penmanship lesson," Trevor drawled, leaning out of his office, "I have something for you to check out."

"Cat monster in a tree? Somebody's vacuum come to life? Or did Rito Revolto hijack a perfume truck?" Daystar stood, brushing imaginary dirt from her slacks.

Trevor let out a long-suffering sigh. "Guy swears that a busload of Piranhatrons teleported into his store and disappeared with a lot of expensive electrical equipment. He also says they raided the till and ate all his bait. Check it out, would you?"

Daystar shook her head. "I swear, my aunt is seriously in need of therapy. Come on, Blue, let's go check out the scene of the crime."

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"'The New Wave- Fishing and Electronics,'" Blue Senturion read, as the two of them climbed out of the squad car. "Fishing and electronics?"

Daystar shrugged. "Angel Grove businesses are pretty unique. And a fishing store probably cleans up in the harbor district."

Heading inside, the two of them found a number of uniforms securing the scene and interviewing the employees. One of the patrolmen, whose nametag read "J. Booker," looked up as Daystar and Blue Senturion approached.

"I'm Lt. Hunter, and this is the Blue Senturion. We're from the Monster Squad," she informed him. "What have we got?"

Officer Booker sighed. "About an hour ago, the owner says, a squad of Piranhatrons teleported in and ransacked the place." The blond indicated the overturned shelving and general disarray. "Apparently they grabbed several pieces of high-tech equipment- we're not sure exactly what, yet. Computer stuff, apparently. They also emptied the register and cleaned out the bait section." Booker and Daystar traded long-suffering looks.

"Beautiful. How's the owner?"

"Not happy. He's the one over there, wearing a hole in the floor." A sparkle of curiosity entered the patrolman's gray eyes. "Is he really a robot?"

"Yep. Intergalactic Police, here on loan," Daystar replied blithely. Turning towards Blue Senturion, she noticed that he was not paying attention to the two of them. Instead, he was examining the overturned shelves. "Blue, what are you looking at?"

He pointed. "Residual traces of teleportation energy- and fish oil. Leftovers from the Piranhatron attack, I would imagine."

"Okay, so now we're sure it was Piranhatrons," Daystar replied. "I'm sure that'll make the insurance investigators real happy. So?"

"So, what would Piranhatrons want with the contents of the cash register? Divatox doesn't have much use for paper money- it doesn't have any value off Earth."

Daystar's eyebrows shot up. "Good point. Hey, Booker! When forensics gets here, have 'em check the cash register for fish oil!"

"No need," Blue Senturion replied. "It's clean."

"It's a formality," she replied. "Okay, so somebody else emptied the register after the attack, and decided to blame it on the Piranhatrons?"

Blue Senturion nodded. "That would be my guess. Perhaps the clerk on duty at the time could clarify things further."

The clerk, a mousy-looking woman in her early thirties, looked up and suddenly bolted, shoving two of the uniformed officers out of her way as she headed for the door. However, she hadn't reckoned on Daystar's speed. The policewoman grabbed the fleeing woman by the arm, only to be jerked off-balance and into a wall. Recovering quickly, Daystar responded with a powerful uppercut, which knocked the woman unconscious. As the uniforms cuffed the suspect, Blue Senturion moved over to Daystar, who was rubbing her shoulder.

"Are you all right?" he asked, concerned.

"Yeah, just bruised," Daystar replied. "She's stronger than she looks, that's all. Come on, they'll get her checked out and back to the station. We need to go and make our report."

As he followed her out to the car, Blue Senturion asked, "Was this a normal day for you?" Daystar just laughed.

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Parker O'Neil was in the middle of preparing a pot of stew when he heard the door to his apartment open. "Star?" he called, his grip tightening unconsciously on the handle of the spoon he held.

"Yeah, it's me," his girlfriend replied, letting the door shut behind her. As she entered the kitchen, she pulled her shirt over her head. "Have a good day?" she asked, kissing him on the cheek.

"Fair to middling. Interviewed a guy who swears that mayonnaise is the art wave of the future." He grimaced in recollection.

Daystar snorted. "What did you do to get Jacobs mad at you this time?"

Parker's shrug was eloquent. "Who knows?" As Daystar turned to head back for the bedroom, Parker suddenly noticed the bruise darkening the skin of her shoulder, clearly visible beneath her bra. "Hey, what happened to you?"

"Some lady emptied the register at her job under cover of a fish attack," Daystar replied, climbing out of the rest of her clothing. "She bolted, and threw me into a wall. Don't worry about it, she's in lockup right now."

"Ah. So other than that, how was your day?" Parker went back to stirring the stew as Daystar, now only in her underwear, headed back into the bedroom to change.

"I'll tell you after I grab a shower and get dressed. Mind if I borrow one of your sweatshirts?"

"Go right ahead." The door shut, and Parker grinned to himself. The first time Daystar had begun changing in the living room, he'd nearly had a heart attack. Of course, Star had been completely unable to understand what was wrong. When he'd finally explained that Earth humans generally got changed in private, she had rolled her eyes.

"And you wonder why the rest of the galaxy calls you primitive. Last I checked, there wasn't anything wrong with my body."

"Definitely not," he had agreed, ducking her swat.

Parker had already known that by galactic standards, Earth people's attitudes towards sex were extremely provincial. He just hadn't expected to have it demonstrated quite so bluntly. Now, however, he barely even batted an eyelash- even if he was still sleeping on the couch.

By the time the stew was ready, Daystar had showered and changed, now wearing a pair of jeans and one of Parker's "Cross World Falcons" sweatshirts.

"Tell me again," she asked, sitting down at the table, "why you have a sweatshirt for one of the worst basketball teams in the NBA?"

"It was free," he replied dryly. "Besides, the Falcons aren't THAT bad." Daystar just looked at him, then began eating her stew.

"I got a new partner today," she said suddenly. Parker raised one eyebrow.

"Isn't that a bit... fast?"

She shrugged. "Well, this is the AGPD. When a robot from another planet shows up, you don't ask too many questions."

Parker took a second to digest this information. "The Blue Senturion has joined the department?"

"Yep. And Trevor assigned him to me. I have no idea what he was thinking."

"Probably that he's the only person who WON'T blow your cover. What's your beef? You were just complaining the other day that one more stakeout with Rick, and you'd feed him his own gun."

"I just never liked working with Blue Senturion units. The Council touts them as the perfect officers- they don't make mistakes, they don't let their emotions interfere... but they don't CARE. I sure wouldn't trust my back to one, and neither would any other cop I've ever worked with. But he's NOT a Blue Senturion-- he's a thinking, rational being with emotions like anybody else. I'm just having a little trouble reconciling the two." Parker had no response to that, and the conversation soon turned to other things.

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Daystar had no sooner entered the bullpen than Trevor Park waved her into his office. Entering the small room, she sank into a chair next to the one Blue Senturion occupied. "What's up?" she asked warily.

Trevor handed her a folder. "This got sent up from Robbery last night. Apparently three jewelry stores in Angel Grove have been hit by this gang in the past few days. Whoever they are, they're professionals- in and out with the goods in less than five minutes."

"Sir, if Robbery has had this for a while, why has it been sent up to us?" Blue Senturion inquired, as Daystar handed him the folder.

"Because last night, one of our perps blew a security camera off the wall from ten feet away. Near as we could tell from the tape, he shot some type of energy bolt from his hand. That puts it in our jurisdiction. And if you two could hurry this up, I'd appreciate it. These are high-profile places, and the higher-ups are breathing down my neck."

Rising from her chair, Daystar sketched off a quick salute. "We're on it, sir. Come on, Blue, let's go examine the store."

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"What comprises our list of suspects?" Blue Senturion asked, as the squad car headed towards the business district.

"Well, there's the usual- the villains orbiting us, of course. Of those, my money would be on Divatox. None of the others care that much for wealth. These aren't Piranhatrons, though, so we can't assume it's her. We might have a new villain moving in, with a completely new set of goons."

"Wouldn't the Power Rangers know about something like that, though?"

"Not necessarily. Ranger equipment pretty much is designed to detect and track full-spectrum conquerors. Minor threats, like thief gangs, tend to slip under their radar. And then, of course, there's the third option, that we're simply dealing with a gang of human criminals."

Blue Senturion cocked his head. "Then how do you explain what happened to the camera?"

"Bio-electric bolts, also called levin bolts. Humans can develop the ability to generate them if exposed to high concentrations of psychic or magical energy for long enough. Rick has 'em."

"I thought Rick was psychically deaf."

"He is. It depends on how much you're exposed to, and when. If you start the exposure when a human is young, like not yet five, you tend to get psychic abilities. Humans can't do magic, of course, but magical energy can open up a channel for psychic power. If exposure begins when a human is older, the change to the system isn't so great, and you just develop the ability to discharge bio-electricity. This doesn't happen for everybody, of course... some humans are just completely immune to the energy. It wavers."

"So, if these are humans, is the crime still in our jurisdiction?"

Daystar nodded. "Sure. Monster Squad handles any and all crimes that involve weird stuff. Human or not, they've demonstrated powers beyond the species norm. That puts them in our court." Stopping the car, Daystar pulled over. "So, now that the exposition is over, can we get out and go?"

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Andrews' Fine Jewelry had seen better days, Daystar was sure. A hole had been cut with expert precision through one of the skylights, keeping the alarm from going off. Security cameras had recorded the four thieves as they slipped down through the skylight on a rope. All four were dressed in black catsuits and masks that even hid their eyes, although with a fabric of a different texture. Daystar was willing to bet that it was some type of optically permeable fabric, acting like a one-way mirror. The crooks could see out, but no one could see in. Unfortunately, no more of the crime had been recorded, thanks to the aforementioned energy bolt. As Daystar and Blue Senturion entered the room, she immediately saw the charred remains of the camera. "Blue, check that thing out, would you? Maybe we can get some type of read off of it. I'm gonna talk to the owner."

"Of course," Blue Senturion replied, moving to examine the fried device. Turning to the dark-haired young man behind the counter, Daystar gave him a smile.

"Well, Mr. Andrews, what can you tell me about the merchandise you lost?"

The jeweler threw up his hands in exasperation. "THREE of the most perfect jewels that it has ever been my pleasure to display! Such purity, such clarity- and so RARE for their size!"

"Uh-huh. And what type of jewels were these?"

"Nothing TOO outlandish, officer. An amethyst, a ruby, and a Herkimer Diamond."

At that last word, Daystar perked up. "Diamond? How large a diamond?"

"Oh, no, you don't understand." Andrews waved a hand dismissively. "A Herkimer Diamond is a very rare type of quartz crystal. They're double-ended, you know, quite unusual. This one was unusually large, with no flaws... but it would really only have value to a collector. Neither of the other gems was faceted, anyway... they were polished, yes, but in rounded form. I REALLY don't know how much a thief could POSSIBLY get for them."

"Sir?" Daystar repeated politely. "How large were these stones, about?"

"Oh, about palm-sized, I suppose. You could hold them in your closed hand comfortably- if you weren't worried about getting oil on the surfaces."

"Uh-huh. And is there really a market for such gems?"

"Well, a collector would be interested, of course... and perhaps a scientist, although they can usually obtain such things legally."

"Scientists would be interested in jewels like these?"

"Oh, indeed. Gems make excellent focusing devices for lasers, you know. That's how they actually discovered them, passing light through rubies. But I can't imagine that I've been robbed by a SCIENTIST. I have FAR more expensive pieces in this shop- WHY those three?"

"That, Mr. Andrews, is a very good question, and one I intend to find the answer to." Putting away her notepad, Daystar crossed to where her partner had finished examining the camera, and was moving around the room, not focusing on anything in particular.

"Find anything?"

He gave a half-shrug. "Nothing major. There are traces of psycho-magical energy still on the camera, but they've degraded far enough that I can't tell the original composition. Other than that- I think we're certainly dealing with professionals here. In and out quickly, no muss or fuss- whoever they are, they've either done this before, or-" he hesitated.

"Or what?" Daystar wanted to know.

"Or they've been programmed with the information, in which case, they'd be constructs of some sort."

"So we're back at Square 1."

A half-smile was his response. "Looks that way, doesn't it?"

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Daystar slapped the folder down onto her desk, half-wishing it were thicker. There was no such thing as a definitive rustle. "That's it," she declared, gaining Blue Senturion's attention. "We are OFF duty now, and if I spend another minute going over these reports, my eyes are going to cross permanently. I've had it. Pressure or not, this can wait until tomorrow."

"Indeed. Well, I think I'm going to spend a little longer with these reports. Something about Andrews' deposition is bothering me."

"And then I suppose you'll head back to the Power Chamber." Daystar shook her head emphatically. "If two hours of browsing and brainstorming hasn't jarred that thing loose, more time isn't going to get it. You and I are going out for a drink."

Despite his greater size and strength, Blue Senturion quickly found himself being manhandled out of the bullpen, much to the amusement of Lt. Spinelli and Sgt. Maddox, who were on shift at the moment.

"Where are we going?" Blue Senturion asked equably.

"To the only place in Angel Grove that serves forty-weight."

That turned out to be the Youth Center, specifically Ernie's Juice Bar. While the Juice Bar was primarily a teen hangout, it was not completely unknown for an adult to drop in there, especially during the early afternoon. And more importantly, the patrons were unlikely to give Blue Senturion more than a few startled looks. After all, what was unusual about a robotic cop in a place that had once hosted the end of the world?

Ernie Townsend, the owner and bartender, had been in business more than twenty years, five of those years as spent as a secondary base for the Power Rangers. He barely even blinked when Daystar requested one raspberry smoothie and a can of oil. Paying for the order, she brought the drinks over to the table where she had stashed Blue Senturion.

"Drink it and relax," she ordered. "And if you say one word about the case, you'll be wearing it."

Blue Senturion chuckled. "Understood." For a long moment, the partners were quiet, simply sipping their drinks. Then Blue Senturion broke the silence.

"Do you spend a lot of time here?"

"Fair to middling. Lunch hour, like a lot of the force. It's more convenient than some of the restaurants, and the food's a lot better. And occasionally when I need to blow off steam. Better than hitting one of the bars downtown."

"I would imagine so. It's a very... peaceful place, but very lively, too."

Daystar snorted. "It's on one of the six keyline stars in the city. Very powerful, which is probably what you're sensing. It's one of the reasons why no real battles have ever taken place in here. Minor skirmishes, tops. The energy has a very calming effect."

"It feels very welcoming."

"Well, that's as much Ernie as the Power. Actually, sometimes I wonder if he can't manipulate just a little of it-- just enough so that everyone around him feels it. But I know what you mean. It's one of the reasons I like coming here. It feels like home."

"Do you miss the IGPF?" Blue Senturion asked quietly.

Blue eyes clouded, Daystar inspected the deep fuchsia liquid in her glass. "Not really. Don't get me wrong, I like being a cop, but the IGPF itself, I don't miss a lot. I get so tired of everybody expecting me to turn out like the rest of my rotten family. And things get so twisted- life's a lot easier, less complicated here, in some ways. And then there's Parker-- no, I don't miss the IGPF, or living out in the galaxy. It's just that I NEVER had a home. At five, I was living on the streets, stealing to survive and bunking down wherever my group decided to go to ground for the night. At sixteen, I went into the Academy. Yeah, I had a place to sleep, but that was just a dorm room. It was never home-- the rest of the cadets made sure I knew that. And then when I graduated, it was the same way. I had a one bedroom efficiency, and all I ever did there was sleep. Alone." She gave a dry laugh. "All I had was the job, and I honestly thought that was all I needed or wanted. I had friends, I had my job-- and then I wound up here. I guess what I like about Earth, and most especially this place is that for the first time, there's actually someplace telling me 'you belong.'" Daystar fell silent then, seeming embarrassed at having revealed so much. Then she threw back the last of her smoothie and stood up.

"I have to go to the bathroom, okay, and then we can get going. Either back to the station to go over those reports, or just give up for the evening and head home." Turning, she headed off, leaving Blue Senturion to consider what she had said.

A light tug on his wrist brought him out of his reverie. Turning, Blue Senturion found a dark-haired young boy, no more than eight years old. Green-blue eyes watched him with the seriousness that only young children can really master. "Are you a robot?" the boy asked clearly, regarding him in fascination.

"Yes, sort of. I'm a Blue Senturion."

"You look like a policeman."

"I am. Blue Senturions work as police officers."

"Are you from outer space?"

Blue Senturion hesitated for a second, then replied. "Yes." The real answer would probably only confuse the kid.

"Do you drive a police car?"

"No, my partner won't let me behind the wheel."

"Why not?"

"She says she doesn't want me to treat it like a Zord."

"Do you fight monsters?"

"Only when I have to."

The boy opened his mouth to ask another question, but was cut off before he could begin.

"LEO!" That came from another boy, approximately fourteen, with the same dark hair and similar features. Running over to the pair, the newcomer offered his hand to Blue Senturion.

"I'm sorry about that. I only took my eyes off him for a minute-- of course, with Leo, that's all it takes. I hope he wasn't bothering you."

Blue Senturion took the outstretched hand and shook it. "Not at all. I haven't really met many people since coming to Earth."

The boy smiled. "Well, hey, I'm Mike Corbett, and THIS little hellion," he gave the younger boy a gentle shake, "is my brother Leo."

"Hi," Leo grinned, waving up at Blue Senturion.

"Blue Senturion. Nice to meet you both. You're keeping an eye on him?"

Mike smiled. "Always. Mom and Dad have their full-time jobs, and keeping track of Leo is mine." Suddenly Mike realized that his younger brother was no longer under his arm. "Oh, man, where did he go this time? Leo! Leo, get away from those pinball machines, I told you NO MORE!" With a nod, Mike raced off after his brother, leaving a slightly shell-shocked Senturion in his wake.

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No matter what planet you were on, or what corner of the universe you occupied, stakeouts were quite possibly the most boring part of police work-- after paperwork, of course. Daystar sipped what had to be her fourth cup of bad coffee and aimed a glare at the silent jewelry store across the street.

"I hate this part of the job," she groused. "And why don't stakeouts ever come with good coffee?"

"I would imagine that any type of coffee would lose its appeal after sitting in the thermos for three hours," Blue Senturion replied from the passenger's seat. The partners were staking out Mason's Gems in the hopes of catching their quarry in the act.

"You're certain they'll hit this place, tonight?" he continued.

Daystar shook her head. "Certain, no. But this is one of the few jewelry stores in town that has gems of the appropriate size and clarity to attract the thieves, and from their patterns, they're due to pull another heist tonight or tomorrow night. Some guys from Robbery are staking out the other stores on the list, so we just have to wait. Sooner or later, we'll get lucky." Shifting in her seat, she shot a quick glance at her partner. "Speaking of, are you still living in the Power Chamber?"

"At the moment, yes. I've been checking out the real estate ads in the paper, though, and I think I've found an apartment I like. I don't suppose you know a good moving company?"

She grinned. "Actually, Parker suggested he and I give you a hand. He's real anxious to meet you- says he wants to know who he's sharing me with." At Blue Senturion's startled expression, she laughed. "Don't worry, you'll like him. Parker's a great guy."

"From a police officer to a reporter, that's quite an accolade." Suddenly Blue Senturion sat bolt upright in his seat. "I think we've got something."

Daystar followed his gaze, already flipping open her cell phone. "I think you're right, Blue. I'll call it in, and then we'll go check it out."

"What about back-up?"

"If these are our guys, they'll be in and out in five minutes. Do you think we can afford to wait that long?"

"Point taken."

Star's call made, the two of them slipped across the street, weapons drawn. At the door, Daystar jerked her head at the door, which had had a man-sized hole neatly cut out of the pane of glass. Switching to infra-red, Blue Senturion looked inside. Almost immediately, he spotted the four criminals attempting to open the safe. Looking up at Daystar, he nodded, and the two of them slipped into the shop.

"Freeze!" Daystar yelled, pointing her weapon at the four. "AGPD!" She almost immediately was forced to duck as an energy bolt came flying at her head.

Blue Senturion began to return fire, but a second bolt clipped his arm, making him drop his weapon. Instantly, two of the black-clad burglars were upon him. Ducking one punch, he lashed out with a kick, knocking his assailant into a glass case. Then he was forced to deal with a flurry of kicks from the second.

Meanwhile, Daystar had her hands full as well. The two burglars circled her warily, neither wanting to launch the first move. Daystar circled as well, attempting to keep both of them in sight, but in the darkness of the store, she couldn't keep her attention on both of them. Years of intuition, however, warned her of motion behind her, and she ducked just in time to avoid a blow to the back of her head. Twisting, she launched a kick directly into her attacker's chest. A little tingle of energy ran up her leg, but she ignored it as the second burglar tackled her.

The sound of sirens and flashing lights filled the store, catching everyone off guard. Breaking off from the fight, the four thieves gathered in the center of the room. A brilliant light flared, and they were gone, just as the uniforms began to pour in through the door.

Ignoring the chaos around them, Blue Senturion moved to haul Daystar to her feet. "You all right?" he asked, as she brushed herself off.

"Peachy," she replied dryly. "But I noticed something. Through the entire fight, not one of those guys said a word."

"Mute?"

"Maybe... Not deaf, though, because they DEFINITELY heard us coming. Something to think about, anyway."

Blue Senturion nodded. "And here's something else. That door? The hole in it wasn't made by a cutter. Whatever took out that glass slagged it smooth."

"What, you're talking a laser?"

"Or they just melted the glass out of the way."

Star made a face. "More complications. Just what we DON'T need."

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"Where did you get this furniture? The city dump?" Parker asked, setting down his side of the couch. Daystar smacked him on the arm.

"It's not THAT bad," she told him severely. The couch, in truth, did not deserve Parker's assessment of it. While old and somewhat worn, it was still in fairly good shape, upholstered in a tasteful light brown, matching the armchair that Blue Senturion was currently carrying into the apartment.

"Actually, Rick took me to a second-hand store after my shift ended the other day," he replied, setting the chair down. "I got a few tables as well."

"So I see," Parker replied, poking his head out the door to gaze at the small pile of furniture Zordon had teleported into the hall. "Could be a lot worse, I suppose. My first apartment, during college, was furnished solely with beanbag chairs and orange crates."

"And mutant Chinese food in the fridge, I suppose," Daystar teased.

The reporter threw her a grin. "Are you kidding? We were FRAT boys. We lived on beer and pizza." Moving over to the window, he nodded approvingly. "At least you got a place in a good neighborhood."

The small apartment-- bedroom, living room, bath, and kitchen-- was located in an older building, in the north of the city, where Gabriel Heights bled into Little Japan. It was only a short bus ride to the 13th precinct, which was central to most of the city's apartment districts.

"There are no bad neighborhoods in Angel Grove," Daystar informed him, exasperated. "Well, except maybe the harbor district."

Blue Senturion brought in an end table. "I like it. It feels welcoming."

"You like ley nexuses, don't you?" Daystar asked. "There's one nearby- in fact, it's right under the 13th."

"The station house?" Blue Senturion's mouth quirked. "Trevor must LOVE that."

"Nobody's told him yet," Star replied, grinned. "As a matter of fact, it's right under the Squad's bullpen."

Parker laughed. "You know, that explains a LOT. I would LOVE to see Trevor Park's face when he finds out his office is a center for weirdness."

"He knew THAT years ago," Star replied dryly.

"After everything else that's happened, I wonder if he'd even notice," Blue Senturion agreed.

Parker and Daystar exchanged glances. "He'd notice," they chorused. Then Parker tossed Star his keys.

"Hey, why don't you go get us a case of beer and a case of oil, and we'll hold a housewarming party," he suggested. "Gotta have something to put in that fridge after all."

Daystar gave the two men a sharp glance. "You two behave yourselves while I'm gone, all right?"

"Us?" Parker asked innocently. "What trouble could we possibly get into while moving a kitchen appliance?"

"I'm not even going to dignify that with an answer," she snorted, but took the keys and left. No sooner had the door shut behind her than Blue Senturion turned to the other man, waiting for the other shoe to drop. He didn't have to wait long.

"I don't know you real well, but Star seems to like you, and considering her experiences with Blue Senturion units, that's saying a lot," Parker began. "And the Rangers all say you're a real great guy. So I don't have any problem with you. But Star hasn't EVER had a permanent partner before. She has a lot of trouble letting people in. Now, I know you're a cop, and a robot, and probably a much better fighter than I am... but if you hurt her in any way, I WILL reduce you to so many spare parts. Clear?"

Blue Senturion nodded. "Crystal. And you don't have to worry. She's... come to mean quite a bit to me, as well."

"Good." Parker smiled, clapping the other on the back. "Come on, let's get that fridge moved in here."

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Daystar looked up from the report in front of her and rubbed her forehead. "Blue? Has anyone ever died of terminal frustration?"

"Not that I know of," the Senturion replied. "However, I suppose there's a first time for everything."

"Great. Do me a favor-- if my head explodes, make sure some of it gets onto Rick's sport coat, all right?"

The robot snickered. "Will do." Rick Winslow and Daystar had been engaged in a prank war since the woman had joined the department. There was no real malice there; it was simply one of the ways the Squad dealt with the tense and sometimes unpleasant nature of their jobs.

"Hey, mind if I interrupt?" Harry Wong asked, poking his head around a file cabinet. He flinched as Daystar growled at him.

"If you come bearing paperwork, I may have to hurt you," she replied, enunciating carefully.

Harry shook his head emphatically. "No, no, no. I come bearing hot coffee and cold forty-weight. Don't get 'em mixed up," he advised, setting the two Styrofoam cups on the desk. His peace offering received, he pulled a sheaf of papers from behind his back. "I also come bearing the forensics report on the Mason break-in. According to this, that glass WAS melted out of the way, probably by application of intense heat. REALLY intense heat, since no molten glass was found at the scene. No normal burglar tool causes that type of reaction."

Daystar rubbed her forehead. "Lovely." She sipped her coffee. "Anything else, Holmes?"

"As a matter of fact, Watson, there is. The forensics team found a board of microchips and wires in the shop. Looks like it's been seriously cross-wired, probably dropped by the perps when you two made your entrance. I was just about to run an analysis on it. Wanna come?"

Blue Senturion quickly finished his oil, then stood up. "I think that would be an excellent idea."

"Great," Harry grinned. "Just don't sit on my desk."

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It was a little surprising, Daystar mused, how quickly the rest of the Monster Squad had accepted the Blue Senturion into their ranks. Actually, his acceptance by Angel Grove in general was somewhat surprising. While a few people still stared, pointed, or asked stupid questions, most Angel Groveites had quickly classified him as "just another guy." That was the beauty of Angel Grove, in Daystar's opinion. Nothing had the power to surprise you for very long.

As befitted the resident technological wizard on the Squad, Harry Wong's desk was equipped with a state of the art computer, built and donated by local genius Billy Cranston. With the computer, magnifying lens, and tools available, Harry's diagnostic capabilities were unmatched. Now, Star and Blue Senturion were standing behind his desk as he worked, and his partner, Sgt. Jayne Washington, made unhelpful comments which Harry ignored. Par for the course.

"This is interesting," the Asian man suddenly announced. "All this stuff is regular old Earth technology-- ordinary microchips on a piece of chipboard. But this configuration is something I've never seen before. I mean, as far as I can tell, it shouldn't even work. And some of these connections are of a type I've never seen before. It's fascinating."

"Harry?" Jayne interrupted, before her partner could go into a tech-trance. "What IS it?"

"Search me. It looks almost like some type of control circuit, like for a weapon. All I can really tell you is it looks like someone tried to mock up a non-Earth device using Earth technology."

"Technology." Daystar suddenly straightened. "Harry, run the serial numbers on those microchips. I'm betting they were stolen, and I want to know when and where."

Harry nodded. "You got it, Star." His fingers began flying over the keys, the rest of the world forgotten.

"You have a theory?" Blue Senturion asked, arms folded across his chest.

"More like a hunch," Daystar admitted, starting to pace. "Look, between the vaporized glass and this doodad, it's pretty obvious that we're not dealing with humans here. The tech levels are too high. But somebody's using regular old Earth materials to build this stuff. Who? Dark Specter wouldn't touch Earth technology with a ten-foot pole. The Machine Empire and Gasket are the same way. Everybody's heard them boasting about being far superior to our 'puny human machines.' Rita? Please! Rita Repulsa has never had a plan in her life that involved machinery."

"That leaves Divatox. It makes sense, I suppose, and she has a motive for stealing the jewels. But why wouldn't Divatox clean out the entire jewelry store while she was at it?"

"Good question, Blue. I'm positive that there's more to this we aren't seeing. I do have another piece of the puzzle to tie in, though. The electronics robberies, the ones the Piranhatrons have been committing. Nobody thought to tie those to these heists, but now that we know Divatox is behind both of them, there's a good chance they're connected."

Blue Senturion nodded. "The woman has the attention span of a housefly. I doubt she's capable of two plans at once. But the thieves didn't use any special gizmos during the break-ins, which means that the technology is for a part of her plan that we haven't seen yet."

"Right. And THAT scares me worse than anything else."

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"Are you reading Andrews' statement AGAIN?" Daystar asked, incredulously. Blue Senturion barely looked up from the report he was holding.

"I can't shake the feeling that these statements hold the key to this whole thing," he replied. "Divatox is a pirate. She LOVES jewels. So why not clean out the entire store while she's there?"

"Time?" Daystar offered, scooting her chair so that she could read over his shoulder. "She's gotta know that the longer her goons are in there, the greater the chance they'll get caught."

He shifted, allowing her a better view of the reports. "But then why not take the more valuable pieces? Most of the stores she hit had much more expensive jewels than the thieves made off with."

"Well, what do the stolen pieces all have in common? Besides being big jewels, I mean."

"Big jewels of unusual clarity," he corrected. Then he straightened. "Wait-- maybe that's it!" He quickly scrambled for one of the sheets of paper. "Look here. Andrews said that the only value the missing jewels had would be to a collector-- or a scientist."

"That's right. He was talking about how they use gems to focus laser beams and stuff." Daystar blinked. "Wait a minute, you think Divatox is building a laser cannon? It's not her style. She's flashy. She'd pound the Rangers into the ground with a monster, not annihilate them with a laser."

"But there are other types of beams that need focusing," Blue Senturion reminded her. "Heat ray, freeze ray, concussion beams, anything. She's not the most emotionally stable person in the world-- who knows what she'll use it for?"

Daystar let out a low curse. "And we don't have any idea where to start looking for her. Somehow, I don't think waiting for her to spring her surprise on us is a good-- wait. Blue, if you wanted to be in a position to hit ALL of Angel Grove with relative ease, where would you go?"

"Well, the mountains to the east would make an excellent mounting-- but no, she'd be far too visible to Zordon there. So the only other option would be the west. The city would be set up before you like the seats in an amphitheater."

"And there's only one place out in the ocean that she could set up. Gabriel Island. There's an old cannery out there, but the place hasn't run in years. And they can't get anybody to buy the property. It's private, she could hit anything in the city, and it's easily defensible in case of Rangers."

"Shall we tell Trevor?"

Casting a quick glance at her superior's office door, Daystar shook her head. "No. We don't have anything to go on yet, just a hunch. We'll go out and check it out ourselves. If we see anything suspicious, we'll call it in." She got to her feet.

"Come on, Blue, let's go catch a boat."

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"Was this absolutely necessary?" Blue Senturion asked, helping Star shove their rowboat behind a rock.

"We had to come in from the seaward side so she wouldn't see us coming," Daystar explained calmly. "There's no dock on that side. So, we had to take the trawler's dinghy in. You'll dry."

"I most devoutly hope so," the robot muttered. "If I wind up with wet sand in my joints, I will be most annoyed."

Daystar grinned, but before she could retort, the sound of metal on metal caused them both to quiet.

"I thought this cannery was abandoned," Blue Senturion said quietly, drawing his pistol.

"It is," replied Star, as she did the same. "Follow me."

Silently, the two officers slipped through the maze of buildings that had once comprised the Angel Food Cannery, headed for the source of the sounds. Peering around the corner of one metal shed, they could see some type of cannon array being assembled, its muzzle pointed towards Angel Grove. Piranhatrons were swarming over and around it, while Rygog and the four black-clad thieves kept watch.

"FASTER!" Rygog bellowed. "Divatox wants that Freeze Cannon ready by nightfall! When the sun comes up, Angel Grove is to be one big skating rink!"

"Freeze Cannon!" Daystar hissed. "She intends to freeze the city solid?"

"Makes sense," Blue Senturion replied grimly. "If she does it fast enough, she'll take even the Rangers by surprise. Then she can pillage the city at will."

Star shook her head. "Shit. Okay, Blue, I think it's time we called in the Cavalry."

"Right." Raising one hand to the side of his head, he switched to cell phone frequency. "Uh-oh."

"Uh-oh? Tell me you did not say uh-oh. Uh-oh is a bad thing."

"So, apparently, is the communications block Divatox has up around the island."

Daystar's response this time was a gargling curse that would have done her former captain proud. "Wonderful. I would assume this means Zordon and the Rangers won't be bailing us out anytime soon."

"You'd assume right. Unfortunately, we have a bigger problem."

"Are you kidding? What could be bigger than THAT?"

"THEM!" Blue Senturion quickly spun his partner around, just in time to see a Piranhatron patrol rushing them.

Bullets tend to be of minimal effectiveness against foot soldiers. Most aren't vulnerable to the shots anyway, and the ones that are tend to swarm you so badly that you never have a chance to pull the trigger. This reason is why, upon seeing their attackers, Daystar and Blue Senturion quickly holstered their weapons and plunged into the fight barehanded.

Rygog looked up in astonishment as the fight spilled out into the open area. "Plasmoids! Get them!" he yelled. The four black-clad creatures immediately joined the melee, attacking both with fists and energy bolts.

One Plasmoid attempted to grab Daystar from behind. This turned out to be not the brightest thing it had ever done, because she grabbed its arms, set her hip, and tossed it over her shoulder. As it struck the wall, it broke apart with a flash of brilliant energy, leaving only an empty suit behind.

"So that's how they got the name," Star realized. "Blue! The Plasmoids- they're energy creatures! The suits must be containment!"

Her partner nodded his understanding, and ripped the mask off of his opponent. A glowing featureless face stared back at him, but was quickly dispersed by the punch that followed.

The other two Plasmoids, seeing the fate that was soon to be theirs, cut and ran, headed for the dock on the other side of the island. Rygog decided they had the right idea, and vanished.

"Go! I'll handle things here!" Blue Senturion yelled, knocking a Piranhatron into a wall. Star nodded, and immediately began making a path through the goons, following the two escaping creatures.

She caught up with them on the docks. One well-placed leg sweep sent the first into the water, where a brilliant flash signaled its short-circuiting. The other, however, managed to vault into a speedboat and pull away from the dock.

"Oh, you are NOT getting out of here to start this again," Daystar muttered under her breath. Without giving herself too much time to think, she threw herself off the dock after the boat, managing to grab the tie rope that the escaping Plasmoid had not thought to remove.

_This seems awfully familiar,_ Star thought, hauling herself up the rope as she was dragged through the waves. _Oh yeah, that slave ring on Selanus. The guys called me "Dope on a Rope" for a week after that stunt._

After a few tense moments near the propeller, Daystar managed to haul herself into the boat. The creature driving abandoned its post upon seeing her, moving back to knock her out of the boat. Daystar, however, was becoming incredibly ticked off at this point, and was just discovering her second wind.

Deflecting the Plasmoid's first punch, Star counterattacked with a neck chop. The creature dodged, however, sending her reeling backwards with a knee to the stomach. The two of them wrestled for several minutes, until the Plasmoid managed to pin Daystar against the side of the boat, its hands locked around her neck.

"Time to fry," the thing hissed, in a voice that sounded more like static cling. Daystar could feel her hair begin to stand on end, and realized that a charge was building, one that would quite likely barbecue her when released. In a blinding movement, her hand went to the backup weapon she always carried, a blaster at the small of her back. Unlike traditional handguns, a blaster WILL work when wet. Drawing the small weapon, she fired point blank into the Plasmoid's middle. A hole opened up in the suit, and yellow energy poured out. The creature had just enough time for a surprised noise, then dissipated into nothing.

For a second, Daystar simply leaned against the rail and caught her breath. Then she moved to the driver's seat and took control of the boat, before it ended up in China.

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Dispatching the last of the Piranhatrons, Blue Senturion rushed over to the Freeze Cannon. It was making some noises he didn't like. A cursory examination revealed that the thing was building up energy, and getting ready to fire!

"This is NOT good," Blue Senturion muttered. There had to be some way for him to stop it. Redirecting it was out- it appeared to be controlled remotely, probably from Divatox's submarine. And there was no chance of him physically moving it in time. He doubted he could shoot it, since it was made of tempered steel. His shots would eventually destroy it, but not in time.

As the blue light in the barrel grew stronger, Blue Senturion forced himself to calm down and think. A quick glance at the hardware surrounding the cannon confirmed that this was where the stolen computer parts had gone.

"Earth tech," he mused. "What's special about Earth technology as opposed to Galactic? I know it was something..." Suddenly his visor brightened as the answer struck him.

"Magnetic data storage! Galactic computers all use holographic encoding, but Earth computers still use iron filings and magnetic fields. A large enough magnetic pulse should wipe the cannon's memory altogether. The problem is, where do I get a magnet?"

Scanning the area, his gaze suddenly fell on a steel pipe that had been discarded during the fight. "Bingo," he grinned. Grabbing the pipe, he drew his pistol. Billy and Justin had given his gun a "taser" mode, in case he ever needed to subdue a human adversary. Extruding the conducting wire, he quickly wrapped it around the pipe, taking care to coil it appropriately.

"Oh stars, I hope this works," he breathed. Then he hit the button that would sent current through the wire, and dropped his make-shift electromagnet onto the computer banks.

For a second, the cannon simply continued building up energy. The blue light in the barrel grew so bright, it became impossible to look at directly. Then suddenly the array hiccuped, and the light began to fade.

Blue Senturion let out a sigh of relief, then noticed blue energy arcing from point to point on the cannon. Opening a hatch in the base, he hurriedly scooped out the stolen gems, tucking them into a compartment on his hip. By this time, the cannon was making decidedly unpleasant noises, and Blue Senturion decided that it would be a good time to clear the area. He sprinted back to the beach, the sounds of gathering power floating in his wake.

Just as he reached the sand, he heard the machine start to go, and threw himself to the sand, just barely managing to grab the dingy and pull it over him. Then there was a roar and a strange crystalline crackling-- and then silence.

Cautiously pushing the dinghy off of him, Blue Senturion looked around. The island had been frozen by the cannon's destruction. The sand was solid ice, as was the water around the island for almost a hundred yards. Blue Senturion took a step forward, and promptly fell on his behind.

Looking up at the sky, he shook his head. "Trevor is just going to LOVE this," he muttered.

That was when it began to snow.

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"Can you believe it?" Parker asked, taking off his jacket. "I had to put SNOW tires on my Corvette!"

Daystar elbowed him in the ribs, as Blue Senturion took their coats and hung them in the closet. "Quit whining. Did you know Angel Grove has NO snowplows? Traffic is up to their eyeballs in work, trying to clear the streets."

"Do they need us to come in?" Blue Senturion asked in concern.

"Nah," Daystar replied, as the three of them found places on Blue Senturion's beat-up furniture. "Actually, I believe Trevor's exact words were, 'I don't want to see either of you in here until Monday! The Weather Bureau can't handle it!' Still, I don't think he's ticked at us."

"Well, you did solve the case," Parker reminded her. "And a couple inches of snow is a lot better than what Divatox had planned."

Blue Senturion suddenly stood up. "Would either of you like something to drink?"

"Coffee," Parker and Daystar replied, in unison. Daystar snuggled a little deeper into her blue sweater.

"I think I have that." Blue Senturion went into the kitchen, and a few minutes later, returned with two mugs of steaming coffee, and one of some iridescent liquid.

Seeing Parker's inquisitive gaze, Blue Senturion explained, "Plasmic energy. It's nice and warm. Helps keep my joints from locking up." This last was said with a glance at Daystar.

"That was NOT my fault," the woman replied hotly. "I wasn't the one that set off a freeze explosion and then didn't get far enough away in time."

Parker chuckled. "Actually, that reminds me. There's a couple things I'd like cleared up. Off the record," he added quickly.

"Such as?" Blue Senturion replied.

"Well, the Plasmoids. Why did Divatox come up with those, rather than just sending Piranhatrons to do her dirty work?"

"A couple reasons. One, the Plasmoids weren't instantly identifiable as her minions. Two, as energy beings, they were actually pretty easy to make. Just pump a containment suit full of energy and go. I don't think she'll try that again, though. Once you know their weak spot, they're pretty easy to take down," Daystar replied.

"So she was using the Piranhatrons to steal the hardware, and the Plasmoids to steal the jewels, so that nobody would connect the two heists and figure out what she was up to," Parker marveled. "Pretty slick."

"Yeah, she's nuts, but she's far from stupid," Star agreed.

"I propose a toast," Blue Senturion announced. "To our first case, and a long and successful partnership ahead."

Daystar grinned. "Works for me."

"Hear, hear!" Parker added. The three of them clinked mugs and went on talking about various things, as outside the snow drifted lightly down.

The End