When Mike woke up, the first thing that he noticed him was the overpowering smell of fish that pervaded throughout the room.

Mike had always had a moderate love of seafood, eating shrimp and the like occasionally (truth be told, Mike would eat most things. It was food, right?). But this stench was strong and flooded over him, making him a little sick to his stomach.

It only took him one moment to wonder why the smell of fish was in Emily's house when the vague memory of a nighttime conversation came back to him. Antonio…

The former green ranger rolled out of bed, yawning. As he changed out of his pajamas- he was in someone else's house, after all- and brushed his hair slightly, he dared to look over at the clock.

It was 11:30.

Normally this would not be a problem. Mike normally woke up at that time on vacation. Actually, he normally woke up later. And while living with the other rangers, he certainly hadn't bothered to get up early for his fellow rangers. But now, something felt different. Something had changed. Mike felt the obligation of politeness to get up.

Not that being polite to your friends was a bad thing, a strange thing. And it was only a small factor. But Mike felt as though some level of comfort had been removed from the atmosphere of the house.

Does getting up in the middle of the night make me think philosophical thoughts? Hm…

Mike climbed down the stairs, blinking in the sunlight coming in from the wide windows. The wooden stairs felt cool against his bare feet. And the smell of fish was all around him now. He was sure that Emily's house would smell of fish for weeks afterward, and wondered how the aforementioned yellow ranger would like that.

She'd probably just smile and say "No problem!" like always.

Entering the kitchen, Mike was greeted by the cheery sight of all the rangers squeezed around Emily's kitchen table except for Antonio. The whole kitchen had a sunny atmosphere, not just because of its old-fashioned, homey style, or the bright light emanating from the windows, but more from the people sitting around the table.

As it was, there didn't seem to be nearly enough room, or chairs to fit everyone. There were some chairs clearly taken from other rooms, such as the one Emily was sitting in jammed into the corner. On the other side of the table, Mia was practically in Kevin's lap because of limited space. Mike decided the floor was pretty appealing. No matter what his own feelings were, Mike knew that someone (him) would have problems if he ended up practically sitting on Jayden or Lauren.

He cleared his throat to announce himself, and everyone stopped their chatting to look up at him.

"Mike! Amigo, you finally decided to come down!" Antonio said cheerfully.

"Dude, you'd totally be sleeping in to if you didn't-" Mike paused, staring at Antonio. "Don't tell me you're actually…"

Against all odds, Antonio had several plates of fried fish balanced on his arm like a waiter, which he was serving to the other rangers. And by against all odds, Mike had no idea how Antonio would've cleaned the fish, if he'd caught them raw. Then again…

"Fish!" Antonio grinned, bowing slightly to Lauren as he dished her a plate of fried fish. What kind of fish is this, anyway? Lauren only smirked slightly and accepted it. Who knew she liked fish…it was the fish, wasn't it? I should've been a fisherman, dang it…

"Want some?" Antonio offered. The gold ranger was smirking as well, and Mike suddenly recounted their last, nighttime conversation. He was going to boycott these fish in an act of rebellion, and hopefully in the process change Antonio's salt to sugar, or vice versa. Or something.

"No, what else do you have? And put it in a bowl, because I don't think there's room for me at the table." Mike was about to settle himself on the floor when Emily rose from her chair, looking concerned.

"Don't worry Mike, you can sit here!"

Flustered, Mike tried to reject her offer. She was sitting right next to Jayden after all…actually, that just made him want to accept it more. Crap…"It's fine Emily, I'm practically the team's dog anyway." That was not a passive aggressive jab at all…

"No, Antonio's the dog." Mia spoke up. "You're the plant."

"'Cause he's green, and…" Antonio started. When he caught Mike's eye, he quickly stopped, clearing throat. "Well, there is one more thing…"

Quickly casting a glance over at Emily, who was sitting back in her seat but still looking concerned, like she had wronged him as a host or something, Mike looked back to Antonio. "And that would be…"

"Heh heh…the breakfast Mia so kindly made for us." Antonio gestured to the counter, where one of Mia's dishes was. And that was much as Mike could describe it, because it really didn't have the defining features of any other breakfast foods.

Rising slowly from the tiled floor and trying to discreetly look for an escape route, Mike resigned to his fate. "Got any fish?"

Antonio grinned.

/ / /

Mike had never been so glad for his sword before.

Technically they shouldn't have been carrying their Spin Swords on a public bus. But since they were going to see Jii, in a place where they could freely spar with each other (not that Mike had any one on the team's who butt he wanted to kick, not at all) every ranger came equipped with one. Hopefully nobody would notice. If not, they could kill their own Nighlock.

Sitting on the bus this time around wasn't so lonely. It was only a short drive from Emily's to the stop from which they would walk to go see Jii, but still, Mike found it nice to have his fellow rangers accompanying him.

And Mike was actually going to enjoy Jii again. He was a cool old guy, even though Mike was pretty sure he'd be questioned about his studies and if he was training diligently or something. But that'll be just like old times, right?

The bus screeched to a halt, and all seven rangers got up and filed off. Unlike riding the bus to Emily's, Panorama City rose up around them instead of wilderness. Mike glanced behind him to see who else was coming off behind them, but instead he saw the bus rushing away in the other direction, doors closed.

Well…

As they began walking down the street, on their way to Jii's, Mike breathed in the spring air, just beginning to be warmed by the sun. Something seemed off, something was different… but Mike couldn't tell what.

As they crossed more into the suburbs, Mike grew even more uneasy. The talking and laughter of his friends died down slightly around him in uncertain anticipation. Mike's hand inched down to his sword.

Where's the sound? Why are there only a few people? Why do I suddenly feel….

Mike felt weak in the knees. He stopped suddenly on the sidewalk, his breaths coming slightly faster than usual. He didn't know what was happening to him, only that even with his wobbly legs and beating heart, pressure was building in chest, like he was tensing for an attack.

"Mike?" He didn't know whose voice that was, as it could've been any one of the six people in front of him. Six people who stopped and fanned out in a semicircle in front of him, six faces that looked at him inquisitively.

Everyone's gone…this isn't good, something's wrong, something's-

Then he saw it. A fleeting shadow, solidifying into something more terrible. It was a wall of blackness, but more than just that- fear, anger, and strife personified.

And it was right behind Emily.

The pressure that Mike had felt in his chest only before suddenly felt like it was released as he leaped, practice and the experience of countless fights in his muscles as he surged forward, taking out his sword and slashing.

Emily ducked and ran, as did everyone else; they must not have seen what Mike had. Mike leaped for the darkness, the same that had attacked him in Emily's garden only the night before. Once again, Mike felt its recognition, even though it didn't have a face; he felt it acknowledging him.

Mike swung his sword, trying to cut through the darkness, desperately trying to destroy it. He felt rage building in his chest. His sword cut through cleanly, and Mike felt a liquid running down his hands, but still the creature would not disappear. He swung more and more desperately, trying to destroy it completely, to erase its existence.

Maybe if Mike had looked over at his other teammates he would've noticed what was going on with them. At first, they all stared at him, almost frozen as Mike, in a frenzy, tried to obliterate the thing. However, while everyone else was transfixed, a certain Shiba female noticed something out of the corner of her eye, a blotch of darkness on the edge of her vision.

Lauren whirled around, smashing her sword into the sifting wall of darkness before it could attack anyone. "Guys!" she called. "Look out-"

More creatures were approaching, from behind houses and trees, simply floating like shadows. They seemed to be alive but not- they were unlike any Nighlock the rangers had faced before, if they were even Nighlock.

Each of the rangers drew their swords. The sunny morning had been abruptly changed, without anyone knowing what had happened. One moment there had been undisturbed tranquility, and then suddenly Mike had been attacked.

The aforementioned green ranger was having the hardest time out of any of the others. Panting, sweat was running down his face, and oily black liquid down his arms, soaking his clothes. He slashed and hacked wildly, but more and more seemed to appear.

Is…is anyone else having this problem? They just seem to keep coming and…I just need to kill them…kill them all-

Mike brought his sword down on one, slicing evenly through another.

"Mike."

Mike spun around, bringing his sword down on another, barely able to see, only relying on his instincts to tell him where to attack.

"Mike!"

The voice rang clear in Mike's head, breaking through all his other thoughts like an alarm bell. The green ranger lowered his sword for a fraction of a second, and the spell was broken. Suddenly Mike didn't feel furious, or destructive, only very drained. He stared at Emily, suddenly processing that it was she who had called him.

Her brown eyes were round with worry- probably from the fact that we were suddenly and without warning attacked in broad daylight- but her voice was calm when she told him, "Come on, we've got to get to Jii's house."

"Jii's house…?" Mike repeated vaguely, repeating it several times before actually processing what it meant. "But we have to get rid of the rest of those…things…"

"They're all gone." Lauren appeared behind Emily, brushing away a strand of blond hair stuck to her sweaty forehead. As she sheathed her sword, Mike glanced around, surprised to see that, at the moment, there were no more daunting walls of darkness, nothing more that could hurt them. He also noticed Jii's dojo not too far away.

"You can put your sword away." Mike glanced up slowly at Lauren, before glancing back down at his sword. An inky, dark blue-to-black substance ran down its blade. In fact, it was pooled all around all of the rangers, and, breaking from his war-like stupor, Mike registered that it was all over him, soaking his clothes and coating his skin. Apparently something composed of what seemed to be pure darkness could bleed too.

Mike was about to follow Lauren's suggestion when he felt a presence behind him. He swung around, prepared to chop it to bits (well that was particularly violent, wasn't it, but then again, that should be the normal reaction, right?) only to find his blade level with the shocked face of Antonio.

"Hey, amigo, don't kill me, please?" Antonio said it jokingly, but Mike noticed how nervous his smile was. Any other time Mike might've kept his blade up just to screw with his mind, but at the moment he knew they had a serious situation on their hands, so he lowered his sword.

"Not today." Mike promised.

/ / /

The first thing Mike did when they reached Jii's house was change. The others had spatters of the oddly-colored blood on their clothes too, but all it had taken was a quick glance in the mirror to tell Mike that was completely drenched. Funny how things had ended up that way.

Even though Mike knew that Jii had plenty to tell them, as they did him (just coming into someone's house slightly shell-shocked and trailing blood usually merits explanation) his old mentor had quickly lent Mike some clothes and told him to hurry.

Now Mike stood in front of the bathroom mirror, toweling off his hair (he felt a little bad that Jii would have to do the laundry for the towels at least, but there were much more pressing matters at hand).

How exactly had the day transformed from lighthearted chatting at breakfast to this? When Mike had come to see Emily and all the other rangers, he hadn't expected to be dragged back into fighting. Not that he particularly minded…at least not yet, but what they appeared to be fighting wasn't like any Nighlock they'd faced before.

The green ranger lowered his head with a sigh. He was only now feeling the nostalgia that pervaded throughout the place where he'd trained (some of the time) slacked off (most of the time) had good times with his friends, and probably where he'd fallen in love. It was as familiar to him as his own home had been.

In a way, it had practically been destined to be his home, as it had been for his father. Mike almost felt more comfortable at the Shiba House than he had back at home with his mother. Whatever the circumstances, Mike was glad to be back.

"Mike." Hearing his name, the green ranger turned to look over at the door. It was ajar, Jayden holding it open and looking grave, like he always did ever. "I think you need to hear this."

A/N: Hello! I'm back! ^.^ I'm not too sure about this chapter- at least, the last parts. I enjoyed the first part immensely, since I love to shamelessly torture Mike. Fish?

I will admit that recently, I've discovered the wonders of Power Rangers/Super Sentai yaoi. Has anyone noticed how Mike is shippable with everyone on the Samurai team, except Mia, but even then there are people who ship them? I'm not going to be screwing up the pairing dynamics we already have, but if you read something that sounds like it could be read in a yaoi context, then it was probably meant that way. :)

I hope everyone enjoys this chapter!