Up to the Challenge

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers. They belong to the current copyright owners. This is a fan work and no profit has been made from it.

Up to the Challenge

Angel Grove

With Gold Behemoth finally defeated, life for the Turbo Rangers had quietened down. The team had found themselves more concerned with school work and teenage life than defending the planet. Which was probably a good thing since they only had two active Rangers following their friends’ injuries and were currently sharing a Megazord with the Rangers of Mariner Bay after Gold Behemoth had slaughtered three of their Zords and two that belonged to their allies.

It was a chance to relax and catch up on the work they had missed due to saving the world. It was a chance for Tasha, Franklin and Rosa to recover from their injuries although it was doubtful they would ever morph again. And it was an opportunity to wonder what had happened to Zordon and the senior Rangers? It had been months since they had left to assist the people of Aquitar and very little had been heard from them. Both the younger Rangers and their parents were starting to worry.

But there was something about spending the morning working on complex math problems that the Rangers appreciated after the recent upheaval. School was boring, tedious and in some cases difficult interspersed with the occasional funny moment, interesting teacher or opportunity to catch up with friends. As he sat trying to remember how to solve the problem in front of him, Fred was actually happy.

Bulk and Skull were extremely happy as they polished their badges. After completing their training as Turbo Riders, the two youths had taken up working for Lieutenant Stone. The private detective had been asked to review some old unsolved crimes and had asked for the duos’ unique perspective. Both had readily agreed.

And working with Detective Stone, an adult who knew about their secret identities, also meant they were able to leave work when needed. Angel Grove had been extremely quiet recently though and the boys were enjoying what for them at least could be considered a normal life.

Mariner Bay

The Lightspeed Rangers were not happy. There had not been an attack since Gold Behemoth had been defeated, but unlike the Turbo Rangers, they couldn’t just go back to their normal lives. Lightspeed was their life and that meant that when there were no attacks, they spent their time preparing for the next battle. Days spent training, lifting weights and enduring long lectures on procedure. Then there were the hours of helping repair the Zords damaged in their previous battle; it was still to early to decide if there were enough pieces of the damaged Rescue Zords to put them back together again.

But despite how difficult they found the work, they all agreed that it gave them a sense of belonging. As a team their bond was growing stronger and they had started including Nancy in their training sessions. One day she would become the sixth Ranger and training her had helped them improve their skills.

Garth had been training intensely to keep up with the others. He could never hold the powers of a Lightspeed Ranger; his questionable legal status disqualified him from the role and the modifications that had been made to his body were not compatible with those of a Lightspeed Ranger. Not that he minded since his role was to hunt and destroy demons, as opposed to the Rangers’ primary function of saving lives while fighting Queen Bansheera’s forces. Garth had a lot more freedom in his role even if it meant he would never completely fit in around the others.

In her workshop Miss Fairweather was supervising many of the projects that would increase Lightspeed’s arsenal. They included the attempted repair of the Rescue Zords and the restoration of the Express Zord given to them following the Turbo Rangers’ defeat of Divatox’s evil Rangers. Then there were the enhancement units and the modifications to the Rescue Machines and smaller Rescue Vehicles to oversee. It was a busy and demanding schedule, but she left work each day knowing that her work would make the world a safer place.

In his office Captain Mitchell was dealing with the downside of all the effort: paperwork. Every parts request, training update, medical check and security report made its way across his desk. And then there were the requests for information from Lightspeed’s shareholders and other interested parties. There were questions from accountants wanting to know the justification for some minor purchase and from the lawyers demanding an explanation of why Lightspeed did not own the rights to all the Zords inside the Aquabase. There were insurance claims for damaged buildings and more than a few compensation claims from those injured during monster attacks.

~It’s a good thing Lightspeed has such a large budget,~ he thought as he saw the cost of the road repairs from where a Zord had landed. The organisation’s budget had been established a long long time ago by their benefactor. It had grown through careful investment to the point where everything they had spent so far would be recovered within a few decades and had barely made a dent in their funds. ~It’s also lucky that only certain people can access the accounts.~ That had been included as a safeguard to ensure that his family would always be a part of an organisation and that the funds could not be misused or redirected.

He read over the latest demand for the return of the damaged Hydrothermal Generator that Gold Behemoth had eaten along with an outlandish claim for compensation to replace it. He wrote a small figure on the page that lacked many of the zeros they had requested and dictated a letter for his secretary explaining the payment was for the scrap material they had recovered from the scene. He allowed himself some satisfaction as he imagined the look on their faces when he noted the cost of the damage caused by the generator and Lightspeed’s fee for recovering it.

He put the letter to one side and moved on to the next report on unusual happenings in Mariner Bay. There was nothing of real interest aside from a break in at one of the scrap yards. The owner had sworn he had seen Batlings carrying off the remains of a crushed car. There had also been reports of more break ins and the disappearance of a prisoner serving time for causing death by reckless driving. On their own such events didn’t merit his interest, but he put the reports in a folder and assigned them to one of his junior officers to review at their convenience. He had a hunch the events were not completely random.

As he finished reviewing some of his outgoing mail, he opened the top drawer of his desk to retrieve an envelope and paused for a moment to study the photograph he kept there. His eyes closed as he remembered the pain of loss before retrieving the envelope and carrying on, losing himself in his work. There were some wounds time just couldn’t heal. He hastily wrote some instructions on a piece of paper and put it inside the envelope, which he then addressed to the Rangers. They had worked hard recently, so he had decided to give them a little time off before things got busy again.

Mariner Bay

31 March 1998

His name was Curszer and he was a demon. Alongside Jinxer, he was a servant to the Royal Court of Queen Bansheera. However his skills differed from his brother’s abilities and normally that left him to play the role of nursemaid while his brother summoned beasts to aid Diabolico. However Curszer also specialised in necromancy and that made him the perfect choice for Diabolico’s latest scheme. Before him a team of twenty Batlings were digging in the darkness. It had taken a while to find the correct grave, but after dispensing of a few human protections around the ground, they had started to extract the small casket within.

“Good,” Curszer hissed as his helpers opened the casket and he was able to examine the remains. “The body is decayed but mostly intact. We can use it.”

He briefly considered ordering the Batling to cover the grave again, hiding their tracks from those that might investigate. Instead he decided to leave it open and let the humans discover the desecration of their burial grounds. It would likely cause panic as they worried what the demons had in mind for the stolen carcass. It was doubtful anybody would realise what had been taken until it was too late anyway. But along with the other things he had stolen, he had all the ingredients he needed.

Chad had enjoyed his day off so far, playing with the fish in the bay and diving for treasure at the bottom of the sea. But duty called and it was time to return to the Aqua Base for breakfast. He removed scuba gear and travelled back to the Aqua Base along the access tunnel and made his way to the changing rooms where he could dry off properly. He checked his watch and found there was still time to get something to eat before the mess closed if he hurried.

“Kelsey!” he called as he knocked on her door. He was well aware that if he had not eaten there was a good chance the Yellow Ranger had also missed a meal. She had been up late the previous night and had probably not gotten to bed until a few hours ago. “Time to get up, we have a busy day ahead!”

He heard the sound of a half-asleep Kelsey groan in response and carried on his way, knowing that she would join him eventually. Half an hour or so later as Chad was finishing his breakfast, Kelsey finally made her appearance, clearly tired if the yawning was an indication. Fortunately Chad had already ordered her breakfast for her. After making fun of Chad’s early morning swims, the two settled down to enjoy the rest of their meal.

Skull Cavern

Diabolico stood before the hell-mouth and lamented how Mariner Bay would be rubble now if it weren’t for those Rangers. Mariner Bay was but the first step in the demons reclaiming the Earth, but until the wretched city was destroyed, the pocket of negative energy the demons fed upon was unusable. And with Queen Bansheera back in contact, he was aware that it was only a short time before she tired of his excuses.

“Do not worry Diabolico,” Vypra assured the other demon, “I have a monster that will this city to smithereens.” As she spoke she handed Jinxer a card and told him to get to work.

Jinxer took the card and studied it before chuckling. The three senior members of Queen Bansheera’s court could make monsters of their own, but they needed Jinxer to focus the limited negative energy to bring them to life. Once Mariner Bay was destroyed he expected them to handle that part of things themselves. He tossed the card away and cast his spell.

“Hocus pocus, bullfrog croakus. Bring this monster into focus!”

The demonic energies surrounding the palace swirled about into lightning, striking the hell-mouth head to summon forth a red fireball from within. The fireball took shape in the mist-filled room, as the monster on the card rolled-up into ball-mode. Then he stood up, and announced with a laugh: “Smogger is here!”

“Excellent!” Vypra called, “the Rangers will be no match for Smogger’s explosive firepower.”

“You got that right, sister,” Smogger replied as he set off toward Mariner Bay.

The day off continued as Kelsey and Chad took the time to practice with Nancy. As Lightspeed’s newest Ranger recruit, the team had taken it upon themselves to bring her up to speed as quickly as possible. That meant taking time from their schedules to show her the tricks that made them so effective. Today Chad had decided to show her some new fighting moves and Kelsey had accompanied them because… In truth Kelsey was the only Ranger that had noticed how much Nancy was struggling to keep up with the additional training. She worked hard in the official training sessions and then was worked even harder by her future teammates in her spare time. Kelsey was worried that they were pushing her too hard.

“I don’t know about this Chad,” Kelsey said as he set his two students to work. Nancy seemed to grasp most of the moves but Kelsey was having difficulty. “Skateboarding is more my speed.”

“Trust me on this, Tai Chi is the path to inner calm. Something you need more than anyone.”

“Are you saying I’m not calm?” Kelsey demanded as Nancy tried to hide a snicker.

“Kelsey, I think you’re awesome,” Chad replied. “Adventurous…”

“And fearless…” Nancy added, which caused the Yellow Ranger to blush.

“Bu-u-t,” and here Chad paused as he tried to find the right words. Giving up, he looked to Nancy for help.

“Sometimes she gets a little overexcited?” Nancy asked.

Chad nodded, very cautiously.

“Overexcited?” Kelsey demanded as she rushed over and attacked the Blue Ranger’s chest. “I’ll show you over excited.”

At which point the training session turned into a three way tickle fight until they were disturbed by the sound of a motorcycle.

“Well well, if it isn’t the Blue and Yellow Rangers. I thought you were supposed to be fighting monsters, not civilians.”

The Rangers and their trainee turned toward the voice to find two punks watching them. The one who had spoken glanced at Nancy dismissively before deciding she was not worth his time.

“I bet they’re nothing without their powers,” the girl on the back of the bike commented.

“Hi, I’m Chad and this is Kelsey,” Chad said, offering his hand, only to have his offer of friendship rejected.

“Yeah I bet you think you’re really tough,” the punk sneered. “Why don’t we have a little fight and find out?”

Chad shook his head and gestured for his companions to join him as he picked up his things ready to leave.

“What’s the matter, chicken?” the punk cooed. “Little Power Ranger chicken.”

“He’s not a chicken!” Kelsey snapped, only for Nancy and Chad to hold her back. “Come on Chad, you can take him.”

“Maybe,” Chad agreed, ignoring the punk’s snort of disbelief, “but I don’t need to.”

As the threesome gathered their things, the punk seemed to realise that his chicken impressions were not having an effect. He looked at his girlfriend and when she gestured he decided that if Chad wasn’t going to fight willingly, he would make him.

“Get him Brian,” she urged.

Not needing much of a prompt, Brian marched over and stepped on Chad’s blue towel, preventing him from picking it up.

“Excuse me,” Chad said, but Brian pretended not to hear. With a sigh, Chad excused himself a second time and then yanked the towel free, knocking him over.

As Kelsey laughed and Nancy grinned, Chad cracked a small smile while wiping his hands off with his boot-stained towel.

“Don’t let him get away with that!” Brian’s girlfriend screamed.

Not wanting to look weak in front of his girlfriend, Brian jumped up and stomped towards Chad and the others. He attacked with a volley of clumsy but powerful kicks, which Chad easily deflected. With a small wink at the girls, Chad wrapped his towel around his arms while keeping them behind his back, infuriating the punk further. Eventually though Chad had enough and put an end to the fight. It appeared that Brian realised there was no way he could defeat Chad regardless of his powers.

“Come on Brian, you can beat him!” his girlfriend urged, however Chad and Kelsey had other things to worry about when their communicators beeped.

“Sorry Rangers, but your day off will have to wait,” Captain Mitchell told them. “There’s been an attack down town.”

“We’d better get going,” Kelsey said. “Head back to the Aqua Base, Nancy.”

The three headed off, leaving Brian to protest that he could have won while his girlfriend mocked him for losing.

Smogger charged up his amphibian-like body, and mustered up two large white balls. He tossed them at a building, causing the whole place to be racked with a sudden explosion, and the remainder of it to sink into the ground a bit to the great concern of those under the building in the parking garage. Even as the Rescue Rover sped to the scene Carter and the others were working on a plan.

“Joel and Dana help the people outside the building. Chad, see what you can do about the fire.”

The three Rangers saluted and jumped out of the vehicle, with Blue Ranger using his extinguisher rifle while Dana and Joel directed traffic. Meanwhile Red Ranger had used his helmet to scan the building and located three life signs in the parking garage.

“We need to get those people out,” he said.

Yellow Ranger nodded, as Red Ranger spun the wheel and turned the Rescue Rover into the car park entrance. This was one of those times when they could have used some of the Rescue Vehicles that had been designed, but sadly while the machines were useful, they were slow to deploy until Miss Fairweather could find a new method.

“Closing up!” she said, flicking a switch on the central column. The windows and roof of the Rescue Humvee locked into place, shielding the occupants from the pungent smoke that filled remnants of a building. “Rockets away! That’s how you break down a wall!”

“Next time use the claw!” Red Ranger complained as the Rescue Rover was pelted with debris.

The Rescue Rover had been refitted several times to include tools that could prove useful for small scale rescues. A small lifting claw and a winch were just two of the refinements Miss Fairweather had somehow managed to cram into the Rescue Rover’s frame. Kelsey nodded and used the claw to shove some rubble out of the way as they reached the trapped civilians.

Rescue Riser. One of the Rescue Vehicles developed by Lightspeed to help protect Mariner Bay.

Rescue Riser

Outside the building, Blue Ranger had managed to spray a steady stream of water onto the fiery building using one of the Rescue Vehicles The Rescue Riser was a larger than average, though certainly not Zord-sized vehicle capable of directing large jets of water. Unlike the other Rescue Vehicles, the machine operated better at long range, meaning it did not have to travel so far into the city before it was useful.

“The fire’s under control,” he reported, just as the Rescue Rover emerged from the building as Pink and Green Ranger reported that the area was clear of civilians.

They had just handed the three previously trapped innocents over to trained personnel when Smogger decided to appear.

“Playtime is over!” he announced.

“What are you doing here?” Red Ranger demanded.

“I’m having a ball,” Smogger replied as a horde of Batlings appeared and swarmed the Rangers.

With that the monster turned into his ball-mode, curling up and rolling off down the street. The Rangers broke loose of the Batlings, but it was too late as Smogger moved away. Yellow and Blue Ranger chased after him leaving the others to deal with the Batlings.

In another part of the city, Brian had parked his motorcycle. The area was rundown, a sign that not all businesses took advantage of the generous tax incentives offered by Mariner Bay’s council. Many stayed away from such places, fearing stray monster attacks or worse: punks like Brian who enjoyed the empty and almost lawless streets. His enjoyment of the old architecture was ruined by a loud rumbling as Smogger’s ball-form raced down the road. He hid behind a pillar and watched as the Yellow and Blue Rangers chased the madball of a monster into the abandoned buildings. Smogger rolled down stairs and up them, through small narrow spaces and eventually in through a set of doors.

Blue and Yellow Ranger had managed to keep up and followed him through the door, not realising that Smogger was about to unleash his power. A blast of gas erupted from his fingertips, filling up the room with the noxious fumes. Yellow Ranger told her teammates to stand back as she prepared to blast him out with her Rescue Blaster. Blue Ranger cautioned her that such an act could be dangerous, but the Yellow Ranger had made up her mind and as Brian lurked around the side of tattered building, watching the Rangers in action, Yellow Ranger fired her Rescue Blaster at the door, blasting holes in it and hopefully the monster on the other side.

“I got him!” Yellow Ranger cried triumphantly as she rushed toward the door.

“Kelsey, wait!” Blue Ranger responded as he notice smog drifting through the holes.

She ignored him and burst through the doors, just in time to see the smog vacate the room through a stairwell in the back of the room. The sudden change in pressure sent a huge stream of fire back at them, which ripped through Yellow Ranger, and Blue Ranger, as it ignited and erupted through the building.

Brian watched from his safe hiding place as the two Rangers were thrown out into the open. He had to shield his face from the heat as they demorphed. He could see that the Blue Ranger was mostly unharmed, but the Yellow Ranger looked like she had taken the brunt of the fireball.

“Two Rangers down,” Smogger gloated before leaving. “Just wait until I tell Vypra.”

As Chad lifted an apologetic Kelsey into his arms and carried her to a safer location, Brian had reached a decision and followed Smogger to a nearby warehouse. There he witnessed Vypra commending her monster for a job well done.

“Now take your explosive gas and go and blow up the whole of Mariner Bay,” she ordered.

“No problem, I haven’t even used my strongest gas yet,” Smogger promised.

Brian tried to move to a better location, but accidentally bumped into a barrel, alerting Vypra to his presence. Several Batlings rushed over and captured him, presenting the eavesdropper to the demonic princess on his knees.

“Destroy him!” she ordered.

“Wait, I’m not a spy!” Brian protested. “I want to join you!”

“Join me?” Despite herself Vypra was intriqued that a human would ask something like that. Her amusement was enough to keep him alive a little longer.

“Teach me,” he urged, breaking free of the Batlings so that he could run toward her. “Teach me how to destroy the Blue Ranger.”

Vypra pondered the idea. If nothing else she thought it would be amusing to see the humans fight amongst themselves. And even as Smogger ordered the human to lower his head before his new mistress, she blew on his head with her demonic breath, turning him into a human-demon hybrid for a short time.

“Well, let’s get to work,” she said, causing Brian to lift his head. His eyes had turned orange and his face had paled as the demonic vapours affected his body.

“Yes, my mistress,” he replied in a voice that was no longer his own. A part of him protested but it was silenced by the part that pointed out that this was what he had wanted.

Mariner Bay Emergency Medical Center, Room 413

Kelsey had not been badly hurt, but the doctors had decided that rest and some fluid replenishment was needed before she could leave. At first she had protested, but those complaints were forgotten when she closed her eyes for a moment and fell asleep. Chad had been watching over her since her arrival, once the doctors had decided that he was fit and did not need any treatment following his exposure to Smogger’s gas. Finally he departed to let her sleep, wracked with guilt over her current state despite knowing that it was not his fault.

“I should have stopped her,” he told the others as he joined them in the waiting room.

“Yeah right,” Joel snorted. “Nobody can stop that girl from doing anything once her mind is made up.”

“The doctor says she’ll be fine with a little rest,” Dana pointed out.

Carter communicator chose that moment to beep.

“Rangers, we’ve managed to locate Smogger. He’s in the Main Street tunnel!”

“We’re on our way Sir,” Carter replied before nodding at the others.

The four Ranger teens raced out of the hospital with Chad bringing up the rear. A shrill whistle caused the Blue Ranger to pause and as he looked around he spotted a lone Batling gesturing for him to approach.

“Wait,” Carter ordered as Chad moved to do so. “We don’t have time for this; it could be a trap.”

“You guys go on and I’ll deal with him,” Chad replied. “We can’t leave it alone this close to the hospital. I’ll join you shortly.”

Chad followed the Batling behind an ambulance where the Batling handed him a scroll. As he opened it the words lifted from the parchment and burnt into the air. It read: “Blue Ranger, Under the guidance of my new master Vypra, I now have the skills to defeat you. I challenge you to fight me again and this time I will be the victor. -Brian”.

“Blowing up the city from underneath is the perfect plan,” Smogger proclaimed as he led a group of Batlings through a drainage tunnel close to Main Street.

His scheming was interrupted when three morphed Rangers descended into his path using their ropes. He sendt the Batlings to fight them while he concentrated on his task. The Rangers responded by drawing their Rescue Batons and charging the enemy. The fight was on.

Vypra watched as Brian trained for battle. She was pleased with his progress. More so that the distraction meant there were only three Rangers available to stop Smogger. She was impressed when his demon-powered limbs shattered the wooden boards the Batlings had positioned for his use. Yes, he was ready and not a moment too soon as the Batling she had sent to summon the Blue Ranger arrived with the fool in tow.

“Let him go Vypra!” Chad yelled.

“You’re just in time, Blue Ranger,” Vypra replied, ignoring the demands. “I think you know my new warrior.”

“Don’t worry Brian, I’ll get you out of this,” Chad promised.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Brian replied, “And neither are you!”

Chad held his hand s up as Brian circled him. “Come on Brian, you don’t have to do this.”

“Oh yes he does,” Vypra interrupted. “Come on Brian, get him!”

That was all Brian needed to hear as he charged toward the Blue Range and attacked with a series of nasty kicks and punches. Chad tried to defend himself, but a few of the blows landed successfully. But while Brian was fuelled by rage and demon energy, his skills were inferior to Chad, who after ducking a punch, grabbed his rival’s arm.

“Stop it Brian, I’m here to help you.”

“I don’t need your help,” Brian snarled in response before launching a fresh assault.

“Aren’t you supposed to be in bed?”

Kelsey winced, knowing that she had been caught. She had sneaked out of the hospital, found her way back to the Aquabase and recovered her uniform, but in her current state she had been careless and forgotten to make sure that the Weapons Lab was completely empty before entering. Fortunately it was Miss Fairweather that had caught her; whereas Captain Mitchell would have seen the necessity of her return to action, some of his subordinates would have had her forcibly returned to the hospital regardless of the danger her friends were in.

“Yeah, but the others need me!”

Miss Fairweather smiled. She knew there was a reason Kelsey ad been one of those chosen as a Lightspeed Ranger. Since she worked closely with the Rangers she also knew how stubborn the Yellow Ranger could be.

“I’m not going to try and talk you out of it,” she said. “But at least wait a minute so I can give you something to help.”

She pressed a button and one of the Lightspeed Cycles rose into the Transport Bay, along with a new gadget aside it.

“This is the Rescue Speeder,” Fairweather stated. “I thought you might be able to use it.”

Kelsey smiled and gave the scientist a hug.

“Lightspeed Rescue!”

She leapt onto the Lightspeed Cycle, and revved it up, speeding off with the Rescue Speeder attached.

Chad had had enough. He had tried to reason with Brian, to persuade him that they didn’t need to fight. He had tried appealing to the punk to shake off Vypra’s influence, but it was growing clear as Brian continued to punch and kick the Blue Ranger, that the demon’s influence only enhanced his actions. It seemed that Brian was a jerk and that no amount of reasoning could change that.

“Fine,” Chad announced, dodging a kick and removing his jacket. “We’ll do this the hard way.”

He tossed the jacket aside and adjusted his stance. The next time Brian tried to hit him, he found that his punch was easily blocked. After gauging Brian’s strength, Chad had realised that he could hit the punk harder without worrying about hurting him, thanks to Vypra’s enhancements. So he didn’t hold back and Brian soon discovered that Chad was far more skilled than he let on.

Elsewhere, the Rangers had defeated the Batlings and tracked Smogger down to an abandoned factory warehouse district. Smogger coughed up a set of green energy ropes from his mouth, which wrapped around the Green, Red and Pink Rangers. The ropes unleashed a surge of energy that made the Rangers cry out in pain. But Smogger was not done and pulled out two more large white smog balls to throw at them. The resulting blasts sent each of the three Rangers toppling over.

“Ouch,” Green Ranger complained. That seemed to sum up what the others were feeling too.

As Smogger prepared another larger smog ball, he was distracted by the roar of a motorcycle. He unleashed the ball and looked for the source of the sound, realising too late that it was the Yellow Ranger riding down the streets of Mariner Bay to the rescue.

“Rescue Speeder!” Yellow Ranger cried as the Rescue Speeder launched from the bike. It flew through the air and intercepted the smog ball before it could strike the fallen Rangers, and ricocheted it right back into Smogger. While Smogger was blasted back and fell over, the sidecar returned to the bike. Yellow Ranger parked the bike, much to the surprise and delight of her teammates.

“What did you expect?” she asked as she cut the others free. “I couldn’t let you have all the fun.”

Chad and Brian continued fighting and it was clear that Chad had been holding back more than his opponent had suspected. Hours spent swimming had helped improve the power of his kicks. Brian had tried to keep up for a while, but was clearly outclassed and was starting to tire despite his demon-enhanced body. When he was knocked to the dirt for the fourth time in a minute it seemed that the beating had taken its toll. He could hardly stand.

“Pathetic,” Vypra sneered as she watched her human fail. “I should have known!”

“This is over,” Chad told his fallen opponent as Vypra dismissed her spell. “We should go.”

For the first time Brian showed some common sense as he reached up to take the offered hand. However before Chad could help him, another set of Batlings popped up and grabbed the Blue Ranger, holding his arms and legs in place.

“Perhaps now you can finish the job,” Vypra challenged.

“This isn’t right,” Brian protested. “This was supposed to be my battle.”

“Insolent human!” Vypra snarled before punching Brian in the gut. “Either you destroy him or I’ll destroy you.”

Although she had released her possession of the punk, some of her influence remained as Brian obeyed, readying himself to inflict the killing blow. With a howl, he unleashed all his aggression, shifting the direction of his punch at the last moment to strike a Batling. What remained of the spell was broken, causing Brian’s face to return to normal. He smiled at Chad before kicking the Batling holding the Ranger’s leg. Chad replied with a smile of his own as he took out the Batling that had been preparing to strike Brian from behind.

Working together, they made short work of the Batlings as Vypra looked on in disbelief.

“Nobody is going to tell me what to do anymore,” Brian promised.

“You’ll pay for this!” Vypra swore before she decided to cut her losses.

After collecting his jacket and shaking hands with a thankful Brian, Chad left to find his friends.

Smogger flipped Red Ranger into the air and gloated as he landed next to the others. “One wounded Ranger, three left to take care of!”

His gloating was cut short be the Blue Ranger’s swinging entrance. A flying jump kick was rapidly followed by a set of rapid kicks to the monster’s chest. Smogger ended up in an alleyway and had just managed to pull himself back to his feet in time to witness the arrive of Red Ranger on the Lightspeed Cycle with Blue Ranger in the Rescue Speeder, wielding his Blaster. Red Ranger fired the Cycle’s laser guns, while Blue Ranger sat up in the Speeder and fired his blaster. Both hit their target, bombarding Smogger with a nonstop set of bursts. Red Ranger gave a cry of triumph as they drove through the monster. Smogger fell and exploded as the Rangers came to a halt.

As the other joined them and reported that the mission was complete, Green decided that if that was what a day off was like they would have been better off at work. The others didn’t really argue as Chad tried to convince Kelsey to go back to the hospital. It seemed though the Yellow Ranger had other idea as she dragged the Blue Ranger away, promising that she was going to have more fun by teaching him how to talk to girls.

End of Part

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Lightspeed Rescue: The Volcano

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers. They belong to whoever owns the copyright. A great deal of this chapter came from an episode of Lightspeed Rescue and I thank Jesse at PRSW for providing such a detailed synopsis.

Author’s Note: Steph was the Purple Lightspeed Ranger introduce in Entering Lightspeed and killed off in The Emperor’s New Rage. Obviously her death affected Lightspeed and her fellow Rangers. The way they are treating Nancy is out of character to the show, but hopefully understandable (never justifiable). Oh and yes I realise Kelsey is channeling just a little more Sky Tate than I would like.

The Volcano

Mariner Bay
8 April 1998

“The balance of life and death now tips, victim to killer, the veil rips…”

As Curszer continued to chant, the rotten remains he had stolen from the cemetery glowed. In just a week he had managed to partially restore the corpse to a more human form. The daily rituals and soaking of the remains in freshly collected blood had reversed the decay. Another week and he would be ready to start the more difficult task of bringing it back to life.

Miss Fairweather and her team were growing frustrated. They had been tasked with repairing the damaged chest and lower body of the Rescue Megazord, but after days of trying they had no idea how they would accomplish such a feat. The body was mangled, burnt and missing key components. The interlocks that held the two section together could not be released and forcing the separation would likely destroy any chance they had of ever joining together again.

“And even if we could separate them we will not gain anything,” the technician said, continuing her report. “The internal mechanisms had been damaged beyond repair. We have no way to shift either of them into a standard or humanoid form. I would recommend starting with a new design.”

Fairweather nodded in agreement. Her assessment of the damage the Zords had suffered had suggested the same thing. Building new Zords though would take time, something that Lightspeed did not have. At least it was a better option than no Zords at all. She was under no illusions that the needs of Angel Grove would always come first where the hybrid Megazord was concerned.

Mount Jasmine silently overlooked the quiet countryside, a good many miles away from Mariner Bay. At one time the mountain had been deemed extinct, but the release of the demons that now threatened Mariner Bay had caused disruption to the volcano and plate activity throughout the region. Mount Jasmine was a greater risk because the volcano had been mined as part of a government project. There was a good chance that should the volcano erupt, the existing rock structure would be blown aside resulting in a larger eruption.

Stopping the volcano would be impossible. However it was hoped that given time they could find a way to divert any lava flows away from the city. The first step in such an undertaking was knowing when the volcano would erupt. A task Dana had been assigned to oversee. Her team had laboured hard to produce the monitoring equipment, but fitting it to the volcano was outside of their comfort zone and their pay grade. As a Ranger they had been keen to point out that she was the most suited person for the job.

That was why Dana was present as Miss Fairweather vented her frustration for the third time that morning about the futility of trying to repair the Zords. While the scientist was occupied, Dana was running the final configuration of her detector through the testing system.

“Impressive,” Miss Fairweather said as she walked over to where Dana was working. Dana hadn’t even realised that she had been noticed. “May I?”

Dana cheerfully handed over the box, pleased to get the opinion of Lightspeed’s best scientist.

“Very well made,” Fairweather agreed after studying the seals along the side of the box. “You should be able to leave this there for a year before removing it for servicing.”

“In which time it might not be needed,” Dana agreed. “I plan to head out to Mount Jasmine later and place it inside one of the service tunnels. That should be enough to keep the engineers safe while the disassemble their workings. Just as soon as Carter and the others get back.”

It had been a fun morning for Kelsey, Chad, Carter and Joel. It had not been so much fun for Nancy, Lightspeed’s Ranger-in-training. The three male Rangers had been drilling her hard while Kelsey had been shouting instructions. The four of them were determined that when Nancy was given her powers she would be more than a suitable replacement for Stephanie. They had lost one Ranger in the line of duty and refused to lose another. Unfortunately in their eagerness to ensure that Nancy was fully trained, they hadn’t realise how harsh her training sessions had become. Or how close Nancy had come to quitting.

“One more time round the park and then you can have a break,” Kelsey promised.

With a sigh Nancy set off to complete the task while the others had their lunch.

“Unless we finish eating first,” Joel added causing the Rangers to laugh.

Just then Carter’s Rescue Morpher commlink sounded.

“When are you guys going to be back at the Aquabase so I can take the Rover to the volcano?”

“That’ll be after I’ve finished my hotdog,” Joel answered. “I’ve starving. All this training is hard work.”

“Right Joel, whatever,” Dana replied, her amusement obvious. “I’ll find my own way. See you later.”

Garth Nelson had spent the morning alone. The Demon Hunter had managed to fit in with his Ranger allies, but still found it difficult to socialise. The modifications carried out to turn him into a cybernetic warrior had damaged some parts of his mind. Although a lack of proper social interaction during and before the many procedures he had endured were also to blame. The processor installed in his skull added to the problem since its insistence on offering advice on what to say made spontaneous replies almost impossible.

Training on his own though was something he excelled at. He had discovered after working with Lightspeed’s technicians for a few weeks that even he didn’t know the full capabilities of the Techno Warrior System. He had been programmed to know how to use his Techno Blaster and Techno Sword, but there were a myriad of other weapons at his disposal that he was having to learn to operate. And given how destructive some of those weapons had proven, it had been agreed that it was better for Garth to practice on his own, preferably in one of the Aquabase’s testing vaults.

So while Dana was debating how she would journey to Mount Jasmine, Garth was unavailable to join her. Had he been Dana might have been able to justify the massive pile of paperwork it would take to borrow one of the Lightspeed Cycles. Instead she decided to have a little fun and enjoy the thrills of public transport.

Away from the Aquabase, somebody else had their eye on Mount Jasmine. Long ago when the demons had ruled the Earth, a dormant volcano had been a rare occurrence. The demons had fed on the lava and used it to shape the world to their needs. They had used it as a weapon again their enemies. In their absence though the Earth had grown tame, allowing the infestation of humans.

“Using the planet to destroy the humans would surely please Queen Bansheera,” Diabolico mused.

It was true that humans were not strong enough to handle the raw power that lurked beneath the surface of their world. Human structures could be easily blown away, unlike the magnificent demon creations that had been a part of the planet. He ignored the fact that Queen Bansheera’s own palace had for all its greatness, simply vanished.

“And since the volcano is already there we won’t need to waste power creating one,” Loki tried to point out helpfully.

Yes all they needed was a way to restore the dormant volcano to its former glory.

“And Impus has a plan that will allow us to use the first eruption to destroy Mariner Bay,” Jinxer added, interpreting the baby’s gurgles.

“About time the little pest made himself useful,” Diabolico responded before remembering that this was Queen Bansheera’s son he was talking about. “Proceed!”

“Yes Diabolico, I have just the monster for the job,” Jinxer bowed before throwing a card into the mouth of a nearby statue. “From all three heads to its pinkie toe, make me a monster with lava flow!”

A three headed dog creature appeared before them, something that pleased Diabolico. Such a creature would destroy the solidified lava, allowing the volcano to erupt once more.

“Good work Jinxer,” Queen Bansheera said as she revealed her presence. Since she had restored contact with her underlings, she had managed to keep at least a part of her consciousness there. “Trifire, awaken the volcano with your fiery breathe!”

Mount Jasmine was a good eighty miles from Mariner Bay, which meant that Dana had needed to change buses. Eventually it arrived and she stood cheerfully breathing in the fresh air around her as she stretched. She boarded the bus that was marked as stopping in a town close to Mount Jasmine where she would need to proceed on foot. Once all the passengers were on board, the bus pulled away.

With Batlings scouting outside on the snowy rocks, Trifire entered a cave within the side of Mount Jasmine and headed for the core of the volcano. The humans had tunnelled their way through the rock, making his journey to the core quick and without obstacle. He was soon at a place where he could start to get things shaking by turning up the heat. He unleashed a squall of fire from his mouth into the magma centre of the mountain. The cooled rock was obliterated by the flame.

Over in the Aquabase, Miss Fairweather informed Captain Mitchell that the instruments were picking up seismic activity in the entire area, and that for some reason the volcano was heating up. Several computer-graphics appeared on the monitors in the main Command room.

“How could this happen so fast?” Captain Mitchell asked.

“It couldn’t,” Fairweather replied. “Even with the recent increase in activity we should have been looking at a three to four year timeframe before any major eruptions. The only way it could happen like this is if something is helping it.”

“Diabolico,” Captain Mitchell said quietly. “The demons were bound to take advantage of the opportunity. We’re going to need a ran to shut that volcano down.”

Unfortunately for Dana, the bus she had been travelling on had been caught in the first tremors. Since the road forced the bus to travel close to the base of the volcano, the shaking had thrown the passengers around. Unfortunately the road was far too narrow to u-turn so the driver was forced to press on.

“Dana, return to the Aqua Base. We have reports of seismic activity have reports of seismic activity in your area,” Captain Mitchell called over the commlink.

Unfortunately Dana was in no position to answer as another tremor forced the bus into the side of the bridge they were crossing. One of the passengers had not been so lucky and had fallen outside the door. He was barely holding on as Dana grabbed his hand. He weighed about twice as much as she did. Even with help from the other passengers it was not easy, especially since the bus had started to slide over the edge.

Chad, Kelsey, Carter and Joel finally arrived back at the Aqua Base as Captain Mitchell tried to contact Dana. Nancy had accompanied them despite Kelsey’s insistence that she was not ready, and Garth had ended his training session when the alarms had sounded, ready to help out if needed. Unfortunately all attempts to contact Dana had failed.

“A Lightspeed Ranger is on the scene and likely in peril,” Mitchell announced, making certain that an aide was noting his words. “Under the circumstances I am declaring this a Lightspeed Rescue.”

As soon as his words were recorded, the mission was authorised. Technicians and other personnel moved to prepare their stations to help the Rangers.

“Rangers, you will find whatever is causing that volcano to erupt and stop it,” Mitchell ordered. “Nancy and Garth, I want you two to locate Dana and then remove any civilians.”

“But sir, Nancy is not ready for this!” Kelsey complained.

“Yeah we’ve been teaching her everything we know, but she’s just not up to standard yet,” Joel added.

“You four have your orders,” Mitchell told them, ignoring the complaints. “Move out!”

Sensibly the Rangers left without a word.

“Nancy, I know what the Rangers have been trying to do. And I know what they have likely been doing,” Captain Mitchell told her. “When this mission is over I will be speaking to them. For now I want you and Garth to concentrate on finding Dana and getting any civilians to safety. Do not engage the enemy unless you have to.”

“Yes Sir!” Nancy answered.

“Garth, you are authorised to use any means to keep Nancy, Dana and any civilians alive,” he added.

Garth nodded.

“How will we get there?” Nancy asked.

“Use one of the small Rescue Vehicles,” Mitchell answered.

As he spoke the technicians were already programming the vehicle in question. Using Lightspeed technology they were about to almost throw the car at high speed down the roads of Mariner Bay. The on board computer once given a route could execute the turn safety even at speed, allowing the car to reach its destination in a short time. With a squeal of tires they were off.

As the Rangers sped toward the volcano and Garth and Nancy raced to find the trapped bus, Dana had managed to haul the unfortunate passenger back toward the bus. But another quake ripped through the bridge, shaking up the bus and sending it slipping slowly over the side.

“Everybody get to the back or we’re gonna go over!” the driver yelled.

The passengers obeyed, shifting the weight toward the back of the vehicle, shifting their mass on the road side of the pivot point.

“Please don’t let go,” the stranded passenger begged.

“I won’t,” Dana promised although she realised that when the bus moved she had lost he footing and was in danger of being dragged out of the door too.

That was when she noticed that somebody had grabbed her. A female passenger had realised the danger and was trying to help. The woman’s husband had grabbed his wife and the bus driver had grabbed hold of him. Together they formed a chain that helped hold Dana in place. Although by staying near the front they were causing the bus to tip.

Inside Mount Jasmine, Trifire had succeeded in releasing the lava from the core of the once-dormant volcano and had sat back to watch the magma flow and destroy Mariner Bay. He was gleeful when he noticed how there was a bus about to plummet from the nearby bridge. It was a sign that this plan would succeed. At least in his mind it was.

The combined effort worked and the unfortunate passenger was saved. Dana allowed herself a sigh of relief, even though the tremors had not stopped and they were far from safe. A sudden tremor sent the driver tumbling as the bus slid further toward the edge. That was when Garth and Nancy arrived. While the former shuttle pilot readied the vehicle to pull, Garth latched a heavy cable to the bus’ axle. At his signal, Nancy gunned the engine and the bus was slow pulled to safety.

However it appeared that the demons were not content to let the humans go, as some of the Batlings that had been guarding the volcano, appeared on the bridge.

“You need to go and help the others,” Nancy told Dana as she took up position next to Garth. “We’ll handle things here.”

Dana appeared to want to argue, but another tremor reminded her that they were on a mission and now was not the time.

“Activate!” Garth had found that his armour responded to many different commands. Mostly that was because it was activated mentally and not through words. He just chose to verbalise his instructions. He looked over to where Nancy had assumed a fighting stand and smiled. Unlike the others he had not allowed any attachment to Steph to cloud his judgement where Nancy was concerned. The Purple Lightspeed Ranger had died in battle and further training could have helped prevent her death, but he recognised that Nancy was easily at the same level the other Rangers had reached at the time they had fought Lord Zedd. “Here,” he said, offering her a spare sword. He had no doubt with would do more for her safety than being forced to fight unarmed.

For Nancy this was the opportunity to prove herself. She knew that the Rangers meant well, but it had also become clear that what had started out as a desire to keep her safe had turned into a source of amusement for the others. Kelsey’s comments to Captain Mitchell had been especially hurtful, since their commanding officer had never suggested that she was a cadet or their trainee. So given the opportunity, she threw herself into combat, calling on all the skills she had learnt during her military career and the few things she had actually learnt from the Rangers.

Garth and Nancy made a good team. Garth’s computer enhanced senses made him a perfect shot, while Nancy was capable of hitting what she aimed for, but was not as precise. With a sword though she extremely capable of striking the Batlings before they could reach her. And together they soon had the minor demons retreating.

With the Batlings gone, it was time to get the bus on its way to safety. The only problem appeared to be the driver had broken his arm when he had fallen earlier.

“I’ll drive the bus, you clear the way,” Nancy told Garth. At his surprised look she just shrugged and mentioned that she was trained to be able to pilot almost anything. Even buses.

With little option, Garth nodded and climbed back into the Rescue Vehicle and set off, leading the bus to safety.

Pink Lightspeed joined the others at the cave entrance. She had remembered the device she had intended to plant there and after checking it, confirmed that the readings were not natural. Something was causing the the volcanic activity. The Rangers rushed into the cave, and found the creature behind the disturbance of the molten rock standing right before them. Instinctively, the five whipped out their Rescue Blasters and fired. Trifire just soaked up the laserfire and barrelled right into Red Ranger, knocking him back out of the cave. The team regrouped with him outside.

“Say goodbye to your precious city,” Trifire told them before blasting them with a flame attack.

The Rangers dived to avoid it and Yellow Ranger leapt for the monster only to get blown back by his fire attack.

“Are you okay?” Blue Lightspeed asked.

“I’m fine!” she answered. “Now I know how a burnt marshmallow feels.”

“Girl, you are crazier than I thought,” Green Lightspeed remarked.

“Crazy or not, there is no way we can get close to that thing unless we can put its flame out,” Blue Lightspeed warned.

Fortunately Red Lightspeed had the answer in the form of his Rescue Blaster and a piece of the Rescuebird. Although they had not used it very often, the Rescuebird contained the many small tools they needed to carry out their missions. Together, he and Pink Ranger rushed at Trifire, Dana firing her Blaster at the creature while Carter ran behind her. When Trifire coughed up some flames, Red Ranger aimed his Rescue Extinguisher at it and fired.

With Garth leading the way, Nancy drove the bus to safety, turning the vehicle in time to balls of lava that spewed from the top of the volcano.

“You’re pretty good at this,” the injured driver said as she swerved to avoid a rock.

“Thanks,” Nancy replied, braking as a large boulder rolled in front of them, before putting the gas pedal down to catch up with the other vehicle.

Garth had managed to clear the road ahead of obstructions and after a few narrow escapes. the bus and its passengers were safe. At least until the volcano erupted and covered them and the nearby city with lava.

Red Ranger clogged up Trifire’s throat with a constant spray of cold mist. Once that was done, he summoned the rest of the Rescuebird components from where they were stored in the Rescue Rover. Combined together to form the Unilaser. With his teammates acting as a brace, he fired the Unilaser at Trifire, creating a big explosion. Before the Rangers could celebrate though, a card struck the multi-chunks of barbecued meat.

“Volcano smoke and lava flow, make the Trifire monster grow!” Jinxer’s voice echoed around them as Trifire’s remains turned into bats that flocked together and recreated the monster in giant form.

“Good thing Captain Mitchell dispatched the Megazord the same time we left,” Green Lightspeed commented.

The might machine had almost reached them as the giant monster had appeared. The sight of the Megazord caught its attention, causing it to attack and saving the Rangers from having to wait for it to arrive. Instead they teleported aboard. Under the shine of the sun, the Megazord and Trifire duked it out. The monster bites down on the Megazord’s arm using its centre head, but got punched away by the fist of the opposite arm.

Trifire’s turned his flame breath on the Megazord. The Megazord responded by unleashing a water blast from its should cannons. With the monster doused, the Rangers decided to finish him, unloading with the Megazord’s artillery power. The Megazord opened fire and then turned away victoriously as the monster found he was unable to take the heat, and spontaneously combusted into a cloud of smoke.

“Mission accomplished!” Red Lightspeed proclaimed as the Megazord stood victorious.

Inside Skull Cavern, Queen Bansheera’s looked down on her servants, as she boasted that this world would be hers.

“Of course Queen Bansheera,” Diabolico agreed, “What they should do?”

“Nothing,” the demon queen answered. “It has already been done.”

Aqua Base,


“I want to know what the four of you think you’re doing,” Captain Mitchell said as he looked at his Rangers. “I want to know why you felt that you could order Nancy around, or what made you think you had any authority to deal with her training.”

Captain Mitchell had not been pleased when he had found out the extent of his team’s actions. As far as he was concerned when Nancy had been offered the position she had been ready for the role. Any training she had needed had been a matter of teaching her how to use their equipment and powers. He had certainly not expected them to treat her like a raw recruit. In many ways Nancy had more training than the Rangers.

“We just wanted her to be ready, Sir,” Carter answered. “We lost Steph and didn’t want to lose somebody else.”

“If we have to have another teammate, we want her to up to the job,” Kelsey added.

“And I think that is the problem,” Captain Mitchell told them. “I don’t think any of you want her to join the team and that you have gone out of your way to make her life miserable, hoping she would quit.”

The Rangers wanted to deny it, but there was a part of them that acknowledged that they were comfortable with just five Rangers. The idea of a sixth member of the team made them uncomfortable. Even Garth was kept at a distance, something that was made easier by his lack of social skills.

“We don’t need a sixth Ranger,” Joel said, speaking on behalf of his teammates.

“Nancy’s nice, but she’s not a part of this,” Kelsey added.

Captain Mitchell sighed. “That is not and never has been your decision to make. I decide how many Rangers there are, not you. I’ve never been so disappointed in you five. Dismissed.”

He knew he would have to think about their words. Mariner Bay needed the Lightspeed Rangers and he could not replace them. So ultimately he would have to back down on this matter. But that did not mean that he liked it. And from the look he had seen on Nancy’s face as she had overheard the conversation, neither did she.

Deep within Mount Jasmine a pair of crimson eyes glowed. They belonged to a monster that had rested their since Queen Bansheera had ruled the planet. Triskull had awakened it. And now Magmavore would emerge.

End of Part

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