Disclaimer: 'The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers' is copyrighted by Hearst Entertainment, Inc.
This is a work of fanfiction and I make no profit of it.
Just when Doc was coming out of the gym after a demanding fencing session, Ranger Elizabeth Quinn ambushed him.
Doc knew he owed the athletic blond woman a rematch, but now, when he was already exhausted and planning the last details for his costume, was an inopportune time, at least for him.
Instead, Ranger Quinn said:
"Doc, are you coming to the big Halloween party tonight?"
Doc smiled, pleasantly surprised at that invitation. "Sure."
"Good. I trust you will bring your colleagues?"
Doc's smile faltered. It was well-known that Ranger Quinn had a crush on Gooseman that not even the friendliest growling on the Supertrooper's part could cure.
"I will ask them."
The problem was, Goose would only go if Niko went, and Niko had this thing – or rather not-thing – with Halloween.
Doc determined he would persuade her.
The sooner Ranger Quinn met Goose in real life, the sooner she could get over her crush, and the sooner she did that, he could have normal conversations with her again.
He found Niko in the cafeteria. He decided a frontal attack would be best.
"Niko, there's a Halloween party to which I would like to invite you. Are you coming?"
Doc gave her his most cordial smile.
She eyed him suspiciously.
"Are you trying to set me up for something?"
"Not at all."
"You know I hate Halloween, Doc."
"Yes, and it's time you get over that."
"I'm totally fine with ignoring Halloween."
That was not going so well.
Doc realized from the corner of his eyes that people were watching their match and starting to put money on who would win the debate. It strengthened his determination.
"It's cultural, Niko."
She pulled herself up to full sitting height.
"This is Australia, Doc. I can and I will ignore Halloween."
"Come on, Niko. Just because you had one bad experience with jello?"
"Jello painted, shaped and moistened to resemble human eye balls, being trapped in a closet with a plastic skeleton and talking for hours to people who knew all horror movies ever shot since the invention of cinema."
"What if your parents celebrated Halloween?" Doc asked, exasperated at so much stubbornness.
"Your father is Puerto Rican and your mother's parents are from Ethiopia and Germany, so why do you celebrate Halloween?" Niko countered.
"Come on, Niko, you had a picnic in a cemetery to celebrate el Día de los Muertos when you were in Mexico. Why can't you celebrate Halloween?"
"I really don't like the artificial scary factor."
Before Doc could defend the merits of plastic spiders, however, Zozo joined them and chimed in.
"Kiwis don't either. We're celebrating a fruit party instead. And there will be a documentary about the history of sheep-farming on Kirwin."
Niko's face suddenly took a very strange expression.
"I'm sorry, Zozo, but I promised Doc to go to his party first."
"You did?" Doc asked, surprised.
"I mean, great!" He needed to remember Kirwin sheep had that effect on Niko.
Goose came home from a mission that had not gone as planned.
He had battled Killbane on a planet that mostly consisted of a hot swamp, and to his utter disliking, he had found out that Killbane's X-factor strengthened bio-defenses allowed him to do more transformations than his implant enabled Goose to do.
Luckily, he had been able to throw Killbane into a lake of boiling mud and escape, but it had definitely not been one of his better days.
Understandably, his nerves were a little bit on edge, so when a technician decided to wish him Happy Halloween, he shot him.
Goose even apologized, so he really did not understand why the technician insisted on filing a formal complaint with Walsh. After all, his blaster had only been set to medium stun, and the man did wear a very life-like costume of a scarecrow. And jumping at a Supertrooper from behind an interceptor and shouting 'boo' must be listed somewhere in the book of stupid things too avoid if you wanted your DNA to remain in the gene pool.
Besides, didn't those technicians always complain that their jobs were too mundane and unexciting?
Walsh took a look at Goose covered all in mud, the technician in its scarecrow costume and decided not to ask any more questions.
"Goose, clean up whatever mess you made."
"Technician Baroil, you're off duty for the rest of the day. Just stay away from all rangers that come in fresh from missions."
The technician continued to glare.
"Dismissed," Walsh barked.
"Sir," Gooseman spoke up after the technician had left, "why didn't we train for Halloween at Wolf Den?"
At Walsh's death glare, Goose decided to leave without any further questions.
"Dad…" Jessie began.
"You don't mind if I go to Ulrike's party?"
"That's not what I meant, and you know it!"
"You're not going to a party where people play with Ouija boards."
"I won't participate."
"And you won't go."
"Cool," Zachary junior chimed in, "then you will be home and we can watch all episodes of Battlestar Galactica re-imagined, 2087?"
Zachary flinched slightly at that exuberance. "Until midnight."
"Zach, how did you celebrate Halloween on Mars?" Doc began the conversation.
"Street commotions, stone throwing, battles with the police… Nothing I'd like to repeat here."
"Great. So you why don't you come to our Halloween party? Goose and Niko are coming too."
"Just stay out of trouble. I promised my kids to watch Tri-D with them."
On the way to his quarters to a long hot shower, Goose was unfortunately interrupted by trouble.
A terrified screech resounded.
"There's something in the closet!"
"And it calls itself Larry!"
"And it took all the punch!"
Goose immediately fell into hunter mode. Maybe Halloween did have some redeeming qualities.
Mogul's demons were kept on a slim diet of rats and weeds. So when they heard about the human custom of "trick or treat", they could not resist. Larry teleported them to Earth and a-hunting they went. Just as their food bags started to fill, they realized there were rival hunting parties. Larry had told them to play nice, thus they formally challenged their rivals to a duel.
Doc was finishing the last touches of his Dracula costume when Walsh called them to his office. Goose was already there; no wait, the figure clad all in black was Niko in a Zorro costume. Weird. Sitting next to her was a guy in a poncho with a badge that read 'Ranger Lawless'. Zachary. Very strange.
Walsh cleared his throat.
"Rangers, I want you to investigate undercover. There have been sightings of demons in BETA Mountain and I will not allow that on any day of the year."
"Where's Goose?" Doc asked, remembering that back-up would be nice.
"Missing," Walsh stated grimly.
"And if he does not have a good reason for it, tell him he's on patrol in the Empty Zone for the next month."
Goose looked around himself. He was in a swamp under a purple sky. Nothing new in the swamp experience. The last thing he remembered was jumping at Larry and a blinding white light. He looked up to see a swarm of birds flying in his direction. At closer inspection, they looked like a swarm of Yeoul. He did not like this new aspect at all.
Most rival food gatherers had fled. Only a fool-hardy bunch of rangers dared resist Mogul's demons. The demons drew their laser whips. Soon their enemies were jumping the ropes.
That was when Zachary and his team rounded a corner and came upon the green, scaly monsters. Niko immediately projected a psychic field to protect the rope-jumping victims and get them out of harm's way. Doc and Zachary opened fire on the demons. Three rangers against 15 demons – they odds were not worse than usual.
Niko blocked one of the laser whips thrown at her with a staff that she pulled out from her costume. With a quick jerk, she managed to yank the holder off his feet. 14 to go.
Doc and Zachary had flattened themselves against the corridor wall and managed to take out three more foes with well-aimed shots. Eleven to go.
One of the demons flung itself at Niko. She side-stepped the attack and used a well-placed roundhouse kick to send it into unconsciousness. Unfortunately, the remaining ten demons saw that as a sign to converge on her. Niko reached for her badge to project a fluctuating force field around herself that that the whips could not penetrate, but the demons kept attacking and it was draining her powers quickly.
While Doc kept shooting his blaster, Zachary used the demons' distraction to power up his bionic arm. The energy from his implant collected in his left fist and then diverged into an array of energy rays that knocked out four more demons.
The remaining six demons turned around, growling.
Doc had changed his blaster's cartridge and managed to shoot one more.
Intelligence seemed to kick in with the remaining five monsters and they took flight.
Niko dissolved her shield, sinking to a sitting position on the ground from exertion. Doc hurried to her side, crouching beside her.
"Everything alright, Niko?" Doc asked, placing a hand on her shoulder to help steady her.
She nodded wearily.
"These demons must have come from somewhere," Zachary announced gravely.
Niko was getting up with Doc's help.
"It seems like Mogul is paying a visit," Doc ventured.
"Or his assistant," Niko remarked. "Remember the Battle of the Bands?"
"So we just call Mogul that his apprentice has gotten loose again?" Doc quipped.
Niko spared him an icy glare.
"Do you happen to have his telephone number?"
One of the rangers that the demons had taken prisoner had used the battle to escape and was coming back with reinforcements now. The demons were quickly being hand-cuffed and transported away to prison holding cells.
Zachary watched with a grim look.
"Whoever called these demons – we have to stop them," he ordered.
"And how do we do that?" Niko wanted to know. She still looked pale but seemed otherwise recovered.
"Can your powers detect them, Niko?" Zachary asked.
Niko shook her head.
"I'm afraid, no. I'd need to recharge first, and even then, my powers don't' mix very well with magic."
Doc was inspecting one of the bags the demons had left behind.
"Maybe we don't need to find them – they will find us."
"Explain that, please," Zachary ordered gruffly. Doc's ideas were usually good – once you understood them.
"Well," Doc was holding out the confiscated bag to them so that everyone could see the contents consisting of marsh mellows, chocolate bars and other unhealthy delights, "what if we set a sweet trap for them?"
Goose was learning the art of doing the crawl and deep-diving in mud very fast. Didn't those Yeoul have any other free-time activity but hunt and fight? Their only redeeming quality seemed to be that they spent almost as much time harassing each other as the spent looking for him.
By now he would even have preferred cooking (and eating) a dinner consisting solely of pumpkin for the whole of BETA Mountain but regrettably, he was not given a choice.
"I repeat, your job is not to engage the demons," Zachary was instructing the troops solemnly. "All you need you to do is walk around BETA Mountain in pairs and talk loudly about how great the food at the Galaxy Rangers' Halloween party is. Any questions? No? Go!"
Fifty rangers swarmed out, while Doc, Niko and Zachary hid behind larger-than-life copies of grinning pumpkins, bats and spiders.
Four rangers in assorted costumes were manning the buffet and chatting quietly to make the trap for the demons not too obvious.
"Remember, we need to catch their leader," Niko whispered. "Otherwise, he will conjure just more demons."
"What if it's a she?" Doc asked, concerned about non-sexist speech.
"Alright, so that he/she/per/ual*Kiwi pronoun for hermaphrodites*/whatever cannot call in reinforcements," Zachary cut the discussion short.
Doc and Niko were known for turning every small topic into an endless debate to kill time, and Zachary definitely had no time for a headache.
Goose had found shelter in the nest of some strange blue birds that were about half his size. The birds were indeed very affectionate and kept cuddling and prodding him. He preferred it to wrestling with the Yeoul. That was when he heard an indignant screech. He turned around to see an enraged blue bird about ten times the size of his playmates perching at the edge of the nest, fluffing its feathers and looking battle ready. The screech sounded almost like "Don't play with the food". He spontaneously decided to take some more swamp-diving lessons and jumped over the edge of the nest back into the mud.
Time seemed to pass as slowly as the trickling of sludge. Zachary repeatedly glanced at his chronometer, but it was only one minute later than the last time he had checked.
Of course, there were plenty of guests interested in blood orange pudding and red feta chili salad, but not the right demons. Though Zachary had to admit, some of the costumes were way too life-like. Pirates, zombies and Frankenstein incarnations ate at his nerves while he checked the time again. Half past eight. The news were over. His kids were waiting for him to start their annual Halloween Tri-D session.
He suddenly remembered he had not told them he would be late.
Just when he was about to call GV, the door opened again and a group of four hooded figures entered.
Niko became suddenly alert. "That's them," she whispered.
"Hold your fire until they've all come in," Zachary ordered.
The door closed behind the disguised demons. Just when Zachary was about to give the charge sign, however, the door swooshed open again, and to his horror, he saw Jessica and Zach junior walk in.
"Dad, are you here?" Jessica asked, looking around the room questioningly.
The demons hissed angrily and bared their fangs at the intruders.
Doc reacted first. He jumped from behind the carton bat where he was hiding, which looked especially impressive since he was still wearing his Dracula costume with its flowing cape. The demons were momentarily confused.
Doc quickly grabbed the kids by the arms and dragged them under a table that he knocked over for cover. Plates of black cake and jello-leech salad clanged loudly as they hit the floor and spilt their contents.
The demons growled and drew their whips.
Ranger Quinn astutely assessed the situation and threw a bowl of jello at the hooded figures before diving for cover herself.
One of the charging demons slipped on the mess on the floor and knocked itself out.
Zachary managed to shoot another one.
The head demon roared belligerently. Sparks were flying from the dark hollow where his face should be.
"You humans will pay for this," it bellowed.
That was when Niko's lasso tied itself around it. The demon gasped in shock and toppled over – and split in two. The scaly green half hit the floor face-flat; the upper lilac half jumped away and made a dash for the door.
Shocked, Zach realized he had forgotten to secure the door.
"GV, lock all exits," he shouted, but too late. The door opened – and Larry was hit by a heavy parcel thrown by Jessica.
As the sorcerers apprentice went down, the last demon tried to bolt, but was valiantly tackled and knocked out by two of the rangers who had been guarding the buffet.
Suddenly everything was silent. The battle was over.
With the last foe taken out, the rangers started to reemerge from their respective covers and handcuffed the demons. Zachary checked on his kids.
Zachary junior seemed fine and almost in awe by the fighting that had taken place. Jessie was shaking, but otherwise unhurt.
Zachary hugged her. "Everything is all right now, darling."
"I didn't mean to do this. I just wanted to see where you were," Jessie sobbed.
Zachary kept stroking her hair to calm her.
Meanwhile, Doc surveyed the damage.
"Wow, it seems like Larry was knocked out by a Ouija board," he commented, impressed.
"I'm sorry, Dad," Jessica whispered. "I was going to throw it away."
For a moment Zachary thought of a stern reproval; then he merely said, "I guess that's one of the few uses for a Ouija board that I approve of."
"Actually, what happened?" Zachary junior asked, finally taking in the strange surroundings.
"Some demons attacked BETA and we had to stop them," Niko explained as though it was the most natural thing in the world. Maybe it was on Halloween.
"Where's Ranger Gooseman?" Ranger Quinn asked all of a sudden.
Niko interrupted her task of disarming demons, suddenly looking very menacing and determined.
"That's what we were going to find out," she growled, advancing dangerously on Larry.
Ranger Quinn immediately caught the meaning of her words and followed.
Doc suddenly felt very sorry for the sorcerer's apprentice.
The two women poured a pitcher of iced water over Larry, who became awake with a start. Quinn produced a scalpel from her dress, and Doc realized she was dressed like one of the characters from Anatomie.
"No mutilations," Zachary ordered sternly, "otherwise, feel free to do what's necessary."
"What about plastic surgery to turn him into a human?" Quinn whispered conspiratorially to Niko.
Niko nodded. "And there are interesting things we can do with jello. How long do you think he can hold out in a tank of jello with only a straw to breathe?"
Quinn casually stroked Larry's temple. "Shall we find out?"
Larry gulped. "What do you want?"
"Where did you send Ranger Gooseman?" Niko questioned harshly.
"The blond-haired monster? Just the other end of the universe," Larry defended himself.
Quinn hissed at that. Niko seemed ready to get the nearest bowl of jello and start her experiments right away. It was too much for Doc to watch.
"Larry, what do you say, you teleport Goose back and we let you go?"
Larry nodded thankfully, then a sly smile spread across his inhuman features. "I need my hands for the spell. You need to untie me."
Doc quickly did so before Quinn could dissect anyone.
"If you double-cross us, we'll tell Mogul and send him pictures of your stay here," he warned the sorcerer's apprentice.
Larry got up to his full (unimpressive) height and waved his hands in circles, clockwise and counter-clockwise. Sparks were flying as Larry muttered his incantation.
There was a sudden flash of white light, then Larry and the demons were gone, and Goose was lying in a puddle of mud on the floor.
Quinn and Niko cheered.
Doc realized that Goose's uniform had almost completely disintegrated and quickly yanked a tablecloth free of debris to throw it over the prone Supertrooper.
Zachary came over from comforting his kids.
"You just let them go?!?" he accused Doc.
"Well," Doc shrugged, "the average amount of time a criminal spends in prison before we have to catch them again is three months. I just thought I'd speed up the process this time."
"They could at least have cleaned up the mess," Gooseman muttered from the floor, where he had an excellent look of the stained carpet, shattered glass and just the general mess the room was."
"My Gooseman, I'm so glad you're back from your visit to the fango beauty farm," Doc quipped.
"You're lucky I'm too tired to kill you, Doc."
"My Gooseman, I'm relieved your humor has not suffered."
Goose just growled.
"No mutilations today," Niko cut in. "I'll take care of Doc."
"You're taking me to the beauty farm?" Doc asked, hopefully.
"No, you're accompanying me to the Kiwi fruit party," Niko retorted ominously.
The demon-like gleam in her eyes told Goose he should not interfere as Niko dragged Doc out of the room.
Since there was not much else he could do, Goose wrapped the tablecloth around himself and started collecting the weapons the demons had left behind.
"Someone really should call the cleaning service," he muttered. Being stuck in swamps for the last couple of days had considerably diminished his tolerance for regions rich in smells and puddles.
"Gooseman, get a shower and don't come back before tomorrow morning," Zachary barked.
Gooseman resignedly gave up his cleaning efforts and left, not before rearranging the carton decorations in a neat row and stacking them against the wall so that they could no longer be used for an ambush.
Ranger Quinn looked after him, shocked.
"No one told me he is a neat freak."