"How long have I been out?" Mikelah asked groggily. Her cousin helped her sit up.
"An hour or so. Sorry about that." Liam said. That afternoon the five rangers had decided to train a bit. The session had ended with Liam punching the red ranger in the head, knocking her out.
"Where are the guys?"
"Stan and Almendra went to go get some takeout then head home and Shandy said she had a date."
"You should probably go home too, Li. Aunt Holly would be worried by now." Mike swung her legs out from her bed and tried to stand up. She managed it after grabbing Liam's arm for support. A thought popped into her head. "What did you tell my mom? Y'all carrying me in from the backyard was bound to get her to ask questions."
"You got pissed and I punched you," he said with a smile. "Figured the truth would be good. Auntie K seemed to think it was funny."
That's great. "Leave, Liam." She said. "I need to sleep some more."
"See you tomorrow." Liam gave one last grin and left.
It felt like her head had just hit the pillow; in fact it had, when her cell phone rang. She knocked around stuff on her nightstand before grabbing her cell. It was Liam. Probably wants to check on me.
"Li, make it quick," She answered, not fully awake.
"I JUST CAUGHT YOUR GREEN RANGER KISSING MY SISTER!" he yelled into the phone.
"Wha?" Mike was awake now. "Hang on a bit, I'll be right over." She hung up and scrambled to get ready. She ran through the living room. "Hi Ma, bye Ma." She called over her shoulder.
"Where are you going, young lady?" her mother asked.
"Li needs help with his AP English project." Mike quickly lied. Her mother kept staring at her.
"I'm fine Ma," Mike said exasperated. "It's just down the street."
"Dinner's at seven." Mike rushed out the front door. Mrs. Harahan shook her head and went back to her evening news program.
Mike ran the half-mile to her cousin's house. Liam was waiting for her at the door. She went inside. Shandy and Liam's sister Colleen were sitting next to each other on the couch. Mike sat in an armchair next to them. Liam stayed standing. His eyes never left Shandy for a second.
"Could y'all explain what happened?" Mike asked.
Liam immediately started talking. "I came home after dealing with you and I saw Shandy sticking her tongue down my sister's throat! I yelled at them, then I called you."
Mike looked at Shandy and Colleen. Shandy spoke for them. "He's right. I didn't think Li'd be home so soon. My Mistake."
When Mike made no move to censure Shandy, Liam lost it. "WHY WON'T YOU DO ANYTHING?"
"Liam," Mike said quietly. Her voice was soft, yet sharper than a razor blade. "If you'd be quiet for a few minutes I'd be able to hear myself think."
Liam heard the anger in the red ranger's voice and wisely shut up. He was still seething.
"Thanks, Birdboy. I'm not doing anything," Mike said. "I can't force them to change. Derek-"
"Would you shut up about your perfect boyfriend?!" Liam shouted. "I can't believe you'd still take her side-"
"I ain't taking her side! If you'd just listen we'd work this out!" Mike was thoroughly pissed.
"I'm not working anything out with the bitch." Liam motioned to Shandy. "I'm not working with her either." He ripped the blue stone off his neck and threw it at Mike's head. "I quit." He stormed out of the den, leaving the three girls to pick up the pieces.
Colleen spoke first. "What did he quit?"
The two rangers froze. "Uh…" Mike paused. "He quit…uh…science team! He quit the competitive science team at school. He and Shandy were going into an event together."
"Yeah," Shandy added.
"What was that blue thing?" Colleen asked.
Mike continued with her lie. "It's a necklace Coach gave us when we joined the team." Mike stared at Colleen, daring her to ask any more questions. She wisely didn't.
The back door slammed shut. "I'll go after him," Mike said.
When Mike walked into the back yard, she found Liam sitting on a bench near the flowers. She sat next to him. "Talk," she ordered.
Liam didn't say anything. Mike stayed there next to him. Night fell. "Look, I know you like her."
THAT got Liam's attention. "What!" he spluttered. "I- I don't like Shandy. Why would you even say that? I can't believe you said that. You don't have proof. You can't accuse someone without proof."
Mike just stared at Liam. His rant wound down and he was silent. "I just said that to get you talking. I had no idea."
"Oh." He said.
"Now talk, Li." Mike said, looking at the blue ranger next to her.
"Stop doing that!" Li told her. Mike looked at him quizzically "Stop with the I'm-the-leader-so-do-what-I-say-stare."
"I don't do that." Mike defended. She suddenly realized she was staring at him. She lessened the gaze and warmed her expression up. She suddenly started laughing.
"What is it now?" Liam asked.
"You and your sister getting into a catfight over Shandy. That would be hilarious."
Liam looked at his cousin in annoyance, then he, too, started laughing. "Stop…trying to… distract… me. I'm… not going… back." The laughing faded away.
Mike looked at him. "Are you sure?" she asked.
Mike held Liam's blue token in her hand. "I'll keep it for you."
The next morning at school was almost unbearable. Liam wasn't talking to Shandy. He would purposely avoid her in the halls and in class. Shandy would only talk to Colleen and Mike was being forced to be the middle-woman between the two factions.
After lunch, Mike knocked on the door to Mrs. Miller's office. "Come in," the occupant answered.
Mike came in and sat down. "Mrs. M? You know that club I'm in that you found out about," Mike was staring at her the entire time she was talking. Please not be entirely stupid. When Mrs. Miller looked completely clueless Mike discreetly pointed at he morpher. Mrs. Miller nodded and stood up. She went over and locked the door and pulled the shades down.
"What do you need my help with?" the administrator asked.
"I need your advice." Mrs. Miller nodded for her to go on. "Li quit. He got pissed at Shandy for kissing his sister, and then quit the team. I don't know what to do. He should take responsibility for his actions, Athena did choose him so he needs to fight, but I don't want to force him to fight. He gave me his token, but not his morpher so maybe he hadn't fully decided to stop fighting. Should I force him to keep fighting or let him be? I have no clue."
Mrs. Miller was pensive for a moment. "As much as I would love to help you with your problem, you'll have to work it out on your own." Her radio squawked. Down in the main hall two kids were roughhousing. "I have to go. I'll talk to you later."
Mike was left sitting in Mrs. Miller's office.
During sixth period, Mike's phone beeped. She had a text. She flipped her phone open underneath the desk. When the teacher wasn't looking, she glanced at it. Surprisingly, it was from Mrs. Miller. 'Attack dwntn will send pass.' Mike waited. Not two minutes later, a student aide came into her math class with a pass. Mike gathered up her stuff and rushed to Mrs. Miller's office.
The rest of the team was there. They dumped their stuff inside the office and began to head out the door. "Rangers," Mrs. Miller called. "You'll be skipping seventh period. Congratulations, I'll see you in detention." Stan grumbled and the team rushed out of school.
The team had reached the downtown area in Shandy's old Chevy truck when Almendra realized that the group hadn't received any information on where the monster was actually attacking. The four piled out of the pickup. In the distance, they heard the screams of innocent civilians.
"I'm guessing, we head there," Stan quipped. "We should probably transform now."
Mike nodded in agreement. She plucked the red charm from around her neck. "I call upon Ares!"
Almendra went second. "I call upon Artemis!" she cried.
There was a pause. It was Liam's turn. He didn't call. He wasn't there. The entire team felt his loss acutely.
Shandy took up the slack. "I call upon Demeter!"
Stan stepped up. "I call upon Aphrodite!"
The multi-colored flash lit up the empty street. The transformed rangers rushed off to the scene of the chaos.
Smoke and fog covered the area. Small fires burned in the midst of rubble. Two plebes stood guard in the center of the square. The four rangers marched across the battlefield. A single reporter was standing in the far end of the square, reporting on the terror.
The red ranger held her hand up. The team stopped. Red headed to the reporter. "Ma'am, Sir, you might want to get out of the way." She said. "It's about to get real messy."
"Bah there's onnie two," the camerawoman protested in a heavy southern accent.
"It's called an ambush. Film if you want. Just be careful. If something comes at you, give a shout, then run." She turned on her heel and headed back to her team. The reporter and camera- excuse me- photojournalist hid behind a large pile of rubble.
The four rangers attacked the two bait plebes. As soon as the second one fell, almost a hundred more came and attacked. The rangers fought and fought and fought. But for every plebe the defeated, more seemed to spring up and attack.
Brenda Johnson and Zeke Williams peeked out from their hiding place. The red ranger had just walked up to them and told them to move out of the way. How rude. They watched the fight.
The yellow ranger was hit directly in the chest. Sparks flew; he spun around and fell to the ground. The reporter and his partner cringed in sympathetic pain. The pink ranger turned and screamed, "NOOO!" She was shot in the back and went down as well.
Brenda immediately started fumbling with her camera, getting the state-of-the-art equipment up and running. Zeke ran his fingers through his hair and straightened his shirt, making himself presentable for television.
Brenda angled the camera so that the fight in the distance was visible behind Zeke. The camera began to roll.
"This is Ezekiel Williams reporting from Downtown. The battle is on! Our Power rangers, harnessing an as-yet unknown power, are currently fighting for their survival in-" There was a loud explosion and a monster began striding purposefully towards the rangers. "And we at KABB-TV are the first to report to appearance of this week's monster."
Zeke turned around to view the battle. The rangers had regrouped and were slowly retreating from the battle site. The monster, a spotted white buffalo with six legs and a beaver tail, stalked towards them while precariously balanced on its hind legs. The rangers ducked behind some rubble to hide from Buffalo Boy. They had not emerged for several minutes when there was a noise from behind them.
It was the red ranger.
"I need you to get a message out for me." She said.
"Uh…sure," Zeke agreed. "Bren, could you film her? You are a her, right?" he asked the red ranger.
"Yeah." The red ranger said.
Brenda set up the camera and started rolling.
Introduction to Information Technology, my ass. Liam thought as he surfed the web. Stupid class. I already know this crap. Feeling immensely bored, he checked a local news site.
He read the first headline. 'Blue Ranger quits? Red Ranger speaks out' Startled, he clicked on it. It wasn't an article, but a video. He slid the headphones from the computer onto his ears and pressed play. To his surprise, his cousin, the red ranger, started talking.
"L-Birdboy, it's me. We need you. At first your little spat with your sister was understandable but now the situation's serious. For being Athena's chosen you're being an idiot. You can't change the green ranger's decision. You just have to deal with it. We need you to fight with us. We're getting our asses kicked." Mike stared at him, no at his soul. "Yes this is the stare. I have your token for when you finally come to your senses. Help us. We need our blue ranger." Mike looked off camera. "I'm done. Thank you." The video ended.
Liam leaned back in his chair. Mike needed him. "'Getting our asses kicked'?" he whispered. Liam checked the post time for the video. It had been posted a whole fifteen minutes ago.
It was all Shandy's fault. If she hadn't started this thing with his sister then this wouldn't have happened. The team wouldn't be in danger. But…she didn't quit. He did. She didn't leave the team. He did. No! Shandy started it! He came in and found his sister with her. He started yelling and… over-reacted. Damn! He had to help. It was Duty.
Minutes had passed. Thirty minutes since the red ranger had asked the two reporters to send out a message. Twenty-five since her plea had been posted. Ten since Liam had realized how much of an idiot he had been.
Brenda and Zeke had moved behind the burned out shell of a car. They were waiting. From far out in the distance Brenda saw a mop of brown hair on top of some kind of blue shirt. She whacked Zeke in the arm. "Z, look." She pointed to where the person had been, but he was gone. "Theres'um guy over dere. He- I think he's wearing blue."
"Do you think it's the blue ranger?" Zeke asked.
The conversation would have continued but for the fact that across the nearby parking lot there was a sudden blue flash. "'S them," Brenda confirmed with a smile.
The five transformed rangers stalked towards Buffalo Boy. They drew their weapons and readied for their attack.
Buffalo Boy spoke. "This is all of you?" he asked. He spoke slowly, with a deep, yet somehow child-like voice.
"What's it to you?" the blue ranger shouted back.
"I just want to know." Buffalo Boy said.
"Yes." Mike answered. "This is all of us."
"Good." The monster - smiled - and faded into a haze of gray smoke. The plume rose up and vanished into the sky.
It was night and a blue sedan pulled up to the Baker farm. Two people stepped out. Colleen turned to her brother. "Thanks for everything, Li." She said. "Don't you hurt her," She said poking him in the chest by his token.
Shandy came walking out of the front door. She waved to the both of them. Liam motioned off to the side. Shandy and Liam walked to the side of the house. They had just gone out of sight when Liam turned and slammed Shandy against the siding.
"You hurt her and I will personally make sure that you never see the light of day again. I don't like this but I will endure it. Don't mess up. Understand me?"
Shandy nodded her head quickly.
In his dark lair, Khaos seethed. How dare his minion bring a cowardly… thing into his lair. Damn Power Rangers! They must have corrupted his monster. But how did they do it?
"Get up here, kid!" called a voice from upstairs.
Khaos grumbled and removed his helmet to reveal a human face.