Rating – T – may be some mild adult themes.
Legal – I do not own Power Rangers, VR Troopers, or any of the associated names, places, events etc. Anything not covered by these rights should be considered purely the creation of the author.
Kira was sitting at her "desk" in the news office, sorting through "her" paperwork. In reality, you could exchange the word "desk" with "broken crap pile in the corner no-one actually wanted" and the word "her" with "all the garbage no one else could be bothered looking at". There were times her internship really sucked. She generally did the lunch run, the coffee run, the donut run, the garbage run, and generally more often than not she did the crap no one else could be bothered with. The worst part was, because it was an internship, she wasn't even being paid. As times she thought Cassidy had gotten lucky when she was passed over for the internship, but she stuck with it. She figured it was worth it given the information she overheard when no one really noticed she was around. After all, Clark Kent was a reporter right?
As she put another file into the paper shredder, discarding it as yet another pointless story that had no real interest when her editor came over and dropped a folder on her desk.
"Pack an overnight bag Ford, this is your big break." He told her a little sarcastically. "You have a big interview in Cross World City."
"Cross World City?" She shrieked. "Why me?"
"Because Cassidy and Devin are still working on the Ranger piece." He sighed. "And all my other reporters are off chasing the big bucks on other pieces, so I need someone to do this."
"Mr. Cormier, I have study to do." She reminded him.
"You're the only person I have available." He assured her. "Your Greyhound ticket is in the file."
"Did I mention you're staying at the Hilton?" He asked her. "Or that you're on a full account?"
Kira smiled as she thought about that. She had hated a lot of things about her internship, but so far this was the closest she had come to getting paid. She was getting to stay in a swanky hotel, all expenses paid, and more than that, she was getting to spend a day away from Reefside. As much as she loved her friends, her duties as a Ranger had seriously eaten into her social life.
"I'll just go home and get packed." She told him, grabbing her cell phone and hitting speed-dial. "Hello, Dr. O? Could you meet me at mine in about half an hour? I need a ride to the Greyhound station."
About three quarters of an hour later, Kira was sitting in the passenger seat of Tommy's jeep, reading through the file. In all honesty, she could have called Conner to give her a ride, but she kind of valued her life, and the one time she had actually ridden with him she had figured out that speed limits and stop signs were alien concepts to him.
"So what's the assignment?" He asked her.
"I'm meant to interview some woman named Kaitlin Starr." She sighed. "She's a reporter."
"You're interviewing a reporter?" He said in a slight laugh. "You do realise that reporters are meant to do interviews, not sit through them right?"
"She's up for some award or something." Kira groaned.
"A Pulitzer?" Tommy asked. Kira just glared at him. She might not have had much interest in the news, but she knew enough to know what the Pulitzers were.
"There's no way I'd be handling something like that." She told him.
"Kira, maybe Mr. Cormier's right, maybe this is an indication they're valuing what you do here." He suggested.
"It's an indication everyone halfway important has better things to do." She replied as they pulled into the parking lot. "Thanks for the lift."
"Kira..." He stated as he reached out, placing a hand on her shoulder. She stopped instantly and looked to his hand. Ever since she had met him, she had noticed that he was hot, and she had found her thoughts straying to him more than a few times. She had told herself that nothing could happen between them constantly since he was a teacher, but that didn't stop her heart from skipping a beat or twenty any time he touched her. He took his hand off as she turned to look at him. "Be careful."
"How much trouble could I really get into?" She asked him, showing him her Dino Morpher bracelet. Tommy just gave her a look that said 'Do you really want me to answer that?' before pulling out and heading home. Kira lifted her bag onto her shoulder and headed into the depot to await her coach.
It was a relatively long drive between Reefside and Cross World City, somewhere in the region of an hour, so she figured she'd spend the time doing a little reading to prepare for the interview. She opened the file, to find a slightly surprising, and somewhat impressive resume for someone Kaitlin's age. She was about the same age as Dr. O. She had no idea why she made that comparison, but she continued. In her time, Kaitlin had done a number of environmental and human interest stories that had given her something of a reputation as a "do-gooder". Kira furrowed her brow as she noticed the same name cropping up again and again, Ziktor Industries. It seemed like most of her stories somehow involved shutting down some environmental scare or some amoral business practices performed by the company.
"Isn't Hayley's surname Ziktor?" She asked herself. She dialled the cyber cafe, finding Trent on the other end of the line.
"Hayley's cyber zoo, how can I help you?" He called over the din in the background. Kira couldn't help laughing. She realised it was about the time the evening rush started.
"Trent, it's me." She told him. "Could you put Hayley on the line?"
She heard a little noise as the phone was handed over, before Hayley's voice greeted her.
"I heard you're going out of town for the weekend." She greeted her. It was still a little spooky the way she seemed to know everything, but she figured Tommy would probably have stopped in for his usual Saturday night take-away burger and fries on his way home the bus depot.
"I just wanted to run a name by you." She told her.
"Karl Ziktor?" Hayley asked her. Kira just furrowed her brows. That was definitely spooky. "Yeah, it isn't that common a name. When I heard you were going to Cross World City I figured you'd come across my brother."
"Your brother?" Kira asked a little taken aback by the detail.
"You know how I got this place because the corporate world didn't really appeal to me?" She asked. "Well Karl's the white sheep of the family. He has more money than God with an ego to match."
"Well this reporter I'm interviewing keeps busting him for..."
"Let me guess, a reckless disregard for the environment and some questionable business practices." Hayley commented. "To Karl, the almighty dollar is the only thing worth chasing. He gets sued on a daily basis, but he's got so much money coming in he doesn't care. It's cheaper for him to just settle than it is to bother defending himself."
"It sounds like you're a close family." Kira laughed.
"Let's just say that he's pretty much everything I gave up big business to avoid becoming." Hayley answered. "Tell me how you like Cross World."
"I will." Kira replied, hanging up and turning back to her research.
Meanwhile, in the command centre, JB and Ryan were waiting to begin the briefing with Professor Hart when Kaitlin arrived.
"I'm sorry I'm late, I was held up at the office." She explained. "What's up?"
"Our scanners have detected a powerful energy signature heading for the city." Professor Hart began.
"Do you think this is something to do with Grimlord?" Ryan asked as he scratched Jeb behind the ears. The dog closed his eyes, enjoying the sensation.
"I really don't know, the scanners are unfamiliar with the energy signature, so I can't give you any details." He replied regretfully. "What I can say however, is that if we know about it, then so will Grimlord. You must find this energy reading and determine what it is before Grimlord can get to it. Whatever is causing this reading is certainly not something he should get his hands on."
"We'll start scanning the city." Ryan assured him. Kaitlin got a slightly pained look on her face.
"Sorry guys, but I have stuff to do." She told them. "Some reporter's coming from Reefside to interview me about that award I won. The editor just sprung it on me."
"Can't you call and reschedule?" Ryan asked her.
"I don't have a number." She told him. Ryan just sighed and shook his head dejectedly. "If I could reschedule..."
"It's alright, I guess you at least have to put in an appearance." He commented. "It looks like it's just us."
"Great." JB remarked sarcastically as they left.
The coach pulled into the bus depot, and Kira got off, throwing her rucksack over her shoulder. She pulled out the address her boss had given her as she made her way to the information desk.
"Excuse me, I'm looking for directions." She told the woman behind the desk. "I'm trying to get to the Hilton on Union."
"You're not that far." The woman assured her. "Just head out the door, take a left, and it's three blocks down on the right."
"Thanks." Kira replied as she gathered her belongings. She headed out the door, stopping only as she reached a news stand, taking a look at the front page. It was clear that Hayley wasn't exaggerating about her brother being a big shot, he was on the front page of every paper, half of them proclaiming him to be some kind of God among men, and the other half referencing some other court case or crusade against Ziktor industries. One of the papers also had a small picture next to it of a blonde woman, around Tommy's age with the words "Story by Kaitlin Starr" underneath.
"Well at least now I know who I'm looking for." She remarked, looking out some change and buying the paper. "Now all I need to do is find her."
Meanwhile, in another part of town, Karl Ziktor was in his office, his team of lawyers around his desk giving him the details of the latest round of law suits being filed against him, and more importantly what they would cost him. He was growing weary of the bothersome press as of late, and he looked forward to the day he would finally be able to tear open the veil between this reality and the Virtual reality and lead his armies to crush humanity. The main thing he looked forward to was never having to hear the words "Lawyer" or "Reporter" ever again.
"So these documents just need your signature." One of the lawyers informed him. "A few well-placed donations to some reputable local interest groups always makes people think twice about their testimony."
"It better be worth it." Ziktor stated coldly as he took out a pen and signed the forms. "This is more expensive than usual."
"Not as expensive as losing this lawsuit would be." The lawyer replied, taking the forms. Karl just waved the rest out the room, leaving him alone in the office. He took a deep breath as he gathered his thoughts.
"I guess it's time to check on my other areas of interest." He stated, placing a hand on his crystal paperweight. "Forces of darkness empower me! Take me back to my Virtual Reality."
Within moments, the dark energies of the crystal changed him into his other form, the conqueror of the Virtual World, Grimlord, and transported him to his throne room. His minions and generals were assembled before him.
"Hail Grimlord, master of the Virtual World!" They all chorused together. He turned to his closest advisor.
"General Ibar, is there anything to report?" He demanded aggressively.
"A powerful energy source has been detected coming into the city." He informed his master. "We don't know what it is, but the energy coming off it is easily powerful enough to use as a weapon."
"I'll bet those accursed Troopers are trying to reinforce their arsenal against me." Grimlord replied, his rage building within him. He pounded a fist against the arm of his throne, which started to glow bright red as his energy flared up. "You must find it before the Troopers do and bring it to me!"
Kaitlin arrived in the hotel, approaching the desk.
"Hi, I'm Kaitlin Starr, I'm here to meet..." She looked through her belongings, finding the name her boss had given her. "Kira Ford."
"Ms. Ford checked in a short time ago." The desk clerk told her. "She asked us to send you straight up when you arrived. Room 508 on the fifth floor."
Kaitlin thought this was a little odd. She had expected to meet her in the restaurant, or perhaps the bar, not the room. She just went to the elevator, heading up to the fifth floor corridor, before making her way down the hall to the room. She knocked the door, at which a short, dirty-blonde girl opened the door.
"Hi, I'm here to see Kira." Kaitlin told her, presuming that the reporter sent to interview her had brought her daughter along.
"I'm Kira." She greeted her, shaking Kaitlin's hand and showing her into the room. Kaitlin was a little surprised that they had sent someone so young, she looked like she was still in high school. She now understood why she hadn't met her in the bar, she was underage. "Please, make yourself comfortable."
"You're a reporter?" Kaitlin asked a little incredulously. Kira shook her head as she looked for her tape recorder.
"I'm an intern." She clarified. "My boss sent me here to interview you..."
"Let me guess, everyone important was doing something." Kaitlin interrupted her. She suddenly realised how it must have sounded and held up a hand apologetically. "Sorry, I didn't mean that the way it sounded. I just remember being an intern when I was your age. I had to deal with all the soft news."
"Sorry." Kira replied a little apologetically. She had to admit that it probably was a bit of a hit to her ego that Kaitlin realised she wasn't considered important enough to send a real reporter to cover.
"So is your boss picking up the tab?" Kaitlin asked her. Kira sighed and nodded.
"I'm on a full account." Kira sighed. "Personally I'd rather get paid."
"You're still new to the whole intern thing aren't you?" Kaitlin giggled. "They don't pay you, and give you all the grunt work, so when the boss lets you have free reign on the company account, make use of the fact."
She picked up the phone and handed it to Kira.
"I heard the burgers here are great." She told her. "We may as well have dinner on the boss."
Kira just nodded and dialled the switchboard.
Meanwhile, in another area of town, Ryan and JB were following the nonsensical scanner readings as they searched desperately for the energy source.
"It's coming from a couple of blocks that way." Ryan told him. Just then, he noticed something odd. "JB, where did Kaitlin say she was going?"
"She said she was going to the Hilton." JB reminded him. "She said something about an interview, why?"
"Her energy signature's showing up on this." Ryan informed him, handing the device to JB. "According to this, she's sitting right on top of whatever it is we're looking for."
Just then a few other energy signatures showed up, and the alarm went off. It was clear that Grimlord's forces were also aware of the location of the energy source.
"That can't be good." Ryan commented as the two friends broke into a run.
Kaitlin and Kira were enjoying their time getting to know each other as they waited for room service. They were quickly finding that they had quite a bit in common.
"So what's this thing you have against Karl Ziktor?" Kira asked her. "I read some of your work on the way over, and it seems like you're always on his case."
"It's good for my career." Kaitlin said with a shrug. "He's the richest and most powerful guy in town, so any time he does something it's always news."
Just then, there was a knock on the door and Kira looked around.
"It sounds like dinner's here." She stated as she got up, heading towards the door. "I'm just coming..."
Just then, the door flew off its hinges, sending Kira scattering to the floor as the room service guy flew through the door. General Ibar came in, followed closely by some of his footsoldiers.
"The energy source is in here." He announced, before looking and seeing Kaitlin in the corner. "You!"
Kaitlin reached for her necklace, but as Kira got to her feet, she remembered that she couldn't activate her powers while she was there without blowing her cover. Kira seemed to be reaching for her bracelet, but saw Kaitlin and just turned to face their attackers.
"If you're looking for a tip, you're going the wrong way about it." Kira told him. Ibar just looked to her bracelet.
"The bracelet!" He called out. "Get her!"
Kaitlin ran to the rescue, beginning to take down attackers, but stood dumbfounded as she saw that far from panicking, Kira was actually holding her own, sending her attackers flying with practiced ease.
"I didn't think Reefside was a rough town." Kaitlin commented.
"My science teacher has some interesting hobbies." Kira replied. General Ibar rushed her, firing an energy blast as she took her eyes off him for a split second, sending her crashing through the coffee table unconscious. He grabbed her and lifted her onto his shoulder.
"We got what we came for." He instructed his henchmen as they held Kaitlin at bay. He disappeared, at which his minions followed suit, leaving Kaitlin alone in the room. Ryan and JB ran in breathlessly.
"Remind me not to order anything from here." JB quipped sarcastically. "What happened?"
"Some of Grimlord's goons crashed the interview." She told them. "Ibar said that Kira's bracelet was the source of the energy readings."
"So where is she?" Ryan asked. Kaitlin shook her head sadly.
"I tried to stop them, but there were too many." She told them. "I couldn't change while she was here..."
"It's alright, we'll talk to the professor." Ryan assured her. "He'll think of something."
"For Kira's sake, I hope you're right." Kaitlin replied as they left.