undercover-plate.jpg

By JTrevizo, ScarletDeva and Shawn 30

Beta by Pink_Green_White_4ever

 

~*~

 

Dr. Thomas Oliver, paleontologist and high school science teacher, closed his classroom door, eyed his window and settled at his desk.  From his drawer, he pulled out a large tablet and laid his palm flat on its surface.

The screen came alive, bright wavering lines swimming below his hand.

With a soft ding, the lines receded and revealed an operating system that looked very similar to a standard computer screen.

Tommy tapped into the message system.

 

XmasLeader,

 

Attached are the lesson plans for the next week. I do apologize for the uncharacteristic delay, however KnowItAll and I were engrossed in a related project that will be vital in the progress of our assignment.

 

-InfinityBrain


Tommy rolled his eyes as he downloaded the documents.  Billy and Hayley knew very well that, without their assistance, his entire cover would be blown to pieces - no, to smithereens.

It was barely believable to begin with.

It was a good thing no one who actually knew him had any contact with Reefside.  He could just picture Zack or Rocky keeling over with laughter.  Tommy “SwissCheeseBrain” Oliver with a PhD? Were pigs flying?

So yeah it was a good thing that no one was around and, at least, he had teaching skills from years of teaching martial arts classes at the Youth Center.  But the rest... all Billy and Hayley.

Why either Billy or Hayley couldn't be the Intergalactic Council special agent to go undercover to keep an eye on Mercer's research, which was still being processed in Mercer's old lab... now that - that Tommy still didn't get.  But he didn't really give orders.  Except to the kids.

So there he was, with three manufactured degrees, a trail of fake transcripts, a pile of constructed internet evidence to back up the cover and... well... still praying he wouldn't call mitosis mutosis.

That's why, when Tommy was finished reviewing all of Billy's updates, he logged out and then hid his tablet, pulled out his laptop, and fired up MySpace.  Because stalking his ex on the internet for the past six years was good stress relief.

~*~

By the end of the school day Tommy was thrilled to have just survived another round of pretending to understand what the hell he was talking about even as he took off the stupid glasses that were part of his cover. It was difficult enough for anyone to take him seriously, but the tweed jacket and glasses, according to Hayley, would give him a more ‘professional’ look that could sell his situation when his mouth opened and he sounded like the all around idiot that most people who really knew him probably thought he was. What Hayley and Billy were doing... it was well outside his comprehension, let alone grasp. Which was why he was the ‘face’ of the operation, not the brains.

Still, he had to act the part so he started packing up his things, trying to make sure anything he didn’t need stayed here, but the tablet had to come with him. He needed to review the lesson plans from “KnowItAll” and “InfinityBrain” before next week’s classes... (and where the hell did those two come up with their code names?) God knew there were days he really disliked XmasLeader, but when you had been the colors of the frickin holiday, he couldn’t argue much - at least they weren’t calling him Mexicalli or ItalianStallion. Although the last was probably a pretty good term if they were applying it to certain parts of his anatomy...

Opening the locked drawer, he slid the tablet out and placed it in his briefcase. He then snuck out the classroom door, hoping not to get ambushed by one of his students looking for help with homework or that damn woman principal who was equal measures bitch and oversexed slut, considering how she’d rubbed her hands across his shoulders the first time they’d met in her office and he’d been forced to take a thirty minute shower later in the day to wash away the creepy-crawly feeling her hands had left on his skin.

Avoiding everyone he sighed in relief before he slung his briefcase into the passenger side seat of his jeep and then took off the fake glasses, shoving them into his shirt pocket before slipping the key into the ignition and starting the vehicle up. He backed up, careful not to run over one of his students... the smart, African American boy... Ethan, he thought, as the young man walked across the parking lot to the library.

Seconds later, he was on the main road and driving to the hovel on the outskirts of town selected by his ‘contacts’ with the Intergalactic Council for its location away from everything and the ability to... alter the place. The fact that it was so far out also had another effect... it took him forever to get to school and for him and his timeliness issues, it was a challenge every day to get to class before his students.

Once home, he shut off the jeep and grabbed the briefcase. Unlocking the front door, he dumped the briefcase and headed to the fridge for a beer. He walked around inside, slurping down the ‘adult beverage’ before tearing off the stupid dress shirt, leaving him in a white T-shirt and khakis before he went outside, the remnants of his beer in hand. Draining it in one final gulp, he tossed it in the trash.

It was bad enough that he lived out in the woods, like a hermit, with no cable TV whatsoever. Pretending to be Dr. Oliver was taxing enough without having to watch regular TV most nights. Now he truly was the crazy old coot in the woods who lived alone. He really needed something to kick or punch. He’d jumped into a martial arts pose in his backyard, actually hoping for some action. After a few moves in his slightly buzzed state he felt better about things. Well, at least that evil raccoon wasn’t going to do any harm to his trash cans ever again following his awesome display of kick-ass-ness...

~*~

Billy kept a logger on all of Tommy’s computers.  It wasn’t that he didn’t trust his old friend.  It was that... well... Tommy had a Swiss-cheese brain.  Sometimes, he worried that Tommy would forget whether he was on a secure terminal or not and search for something related to the mission.

Of course most of the log was, in order of frequency: Kim’s MySpace page, racecars, surfing and pecan pie with caramel whipped cream, the last being Tommy’s secret Kryptonite... after the first.

Not that Tommy could bake.  Hayley, with Billy’s firm agreement, had the kitchen on lockdown.  The only things Tommy was allowed to touch was the refrigerator, the microwave and the toaster, and the last two only under supervision.  Hayley still complained about nightmares of Tommy exploding corn chowder in her dormroom.

So none of the burners on Tommy’s stove actually worked and the oven was just storage space.

All these thoughts of food were making Billy hungry.  He wandered out of his temporary office at the temple, hoping he would stumble onto where the food was.  Instead, he stumbled past Ninjor speaking to a hologram of Dulcea about coins, power sources, Rangers and... something tickled the back of his mind.

It would have been rude to eavesdrop though so he continued on his way... he had a major hankering for dried kelp snacks.

He’d check into it later...

~*~

Tommy had barely been able to parse the lesson plans he’d reviewed as he ate his delivery pizza. He had learned that if he tipped well enough they’d get it to him while it was still hot, even being as far from downtown Reefside as he was.

Finishing the last piece, he set the box aside and then logged off the tablet before heading to bed.  It would be morning before long and he had another day of ‘teaching’ to get through.

As he started to strip down he heard a ringing that forced him to turn his head... part of the plan was to ‘develop’ a workable communications center for him to securely speak with Hayley and Billy...

He got up and moved towards the sound, ending in the kitchen. He knew that Hayley had told Billy about his disastrous cooking incidents and that the stove was now just an empty metal hunk. But the sound wasn’t coming from the oven, it was under the kitchen table. Shoving a chair aside he saw the indent in the wooden slats that indicated a latch, and he slid his fingers into it, causing some mechanism to pop. The panel was now loose and he lifted it up to look down into darkness, accosted by a louder version of the ringing.

It sounded like a phone...

Carefully he felt around and found the first rung of a ladder. Heaving a sigh he started down, expecting some new surprise from his ‘bosses’ when he got to the bottom. The second his foot hit the floor of the subterranean chamber, the lights came on. He shielded his eyes for a second before turning toward the light.

There, at the far end of the chamber, stood a large console, viewscreen and chair. And the buzzing sound kept going.

Moving forward, he found a big red button with a sticky note which read “Answer the phone!”

As he pressed it, the buzzing stopped and then the screen before him lit up, revealing Billy and Hayley’s faces.

“It took you long enough,” said Hayley with a roll of her eyes. “Please tell me you were reviewing your homework.”

“I already did that. I was thinking of sleep...”

“Well you can get back to that later. We have news...”

Tommy sighed and ran a hand through his hair, feeling the remnants of gelled spikes rake his skin. He moved to the chair and sat, suspecting that he was going to want to sit down for this.

“You were dispatched on this mission to observe Anton Mercer following his unauthorized activities into dino-genetic research. While your cover had been... potentially compromised on his island, your connection with him was sufficient enough to allow you some modicum of respectability if you needed to be questioned on your credentials,” explained Billy, his hand tipping his glasses back a bit.

“English please?” requested Tommy as he fought his exhaustion to try and pay attention.

“You were sent there to see what happened with Anton’s experiments,” translated Hayley with an exasperated look, and then continued, “but now we have more urgent issues.”  

That made Tommy sit up straighter. Something more important than his original task?

“The... senior members of the Intergalactic Council familiar with... power sources recognized and have pinpointed ranger level power sources in the Reefside area.”

“What?” Tommy exclaimed at Hayley’s announcement, leaning forward in his seat as his hands slammed against the console in surprise.

“I have verified the signature identified by Ninjor and Dulcea and concluded that there are at least three power sources nearby,” announced Billy.

“So, what do I do? Are you sending me equipment to locate them? Do we have team members who will be assigned them?” questioned Tommy in rapid fire, thoughts of spandex wearing power rangers flooding his mind.

“You aren’t doing anything, hot shot,” stated Hayley as she pointed a finger at him. “I’m coming to monitor the situation and make sure that you don’t do anything foolish. I’ll be arriving within the week. Until then, do NOT say anything and DO NOT go looking for the power source!”

When Hayley took that tone Tommy knew better than to argue with her. He raised his hands in surrender and tried to disarm her with his most winning smile, which he knew she was already immune to following his attempts at college, especially following the corn chowder incident.

“Okay. I’ll wait for you to get here. If there isn’t anything else...”

“No, you can depress the button and disconnect this communication,” said Billy.

With that Tommy slammed his hand on the red button and turned back to the ladder to climb back upstairs and get some sleep.

~*~

Meanwhile, across the world, Kimberly Anne Hart stretched as she used her lead rope to lower herself head-down from the vent into the room, her legs twined around the cable.  As she eyeballed the distance and determined she was close enough, she secured the rope and clicked on her infrared goggles.  A spider web of lasers clicked in before her eyes, tightest around the glass covered displays.

The curve of her painted-red lips softening, she reached into a small kit at her belt, carefully maneuvering out a mini-pen sized tool.  She clicked it on and there was another laser in the room - this one cutting the glass of the display below her in a well placed spot in the free space between beams.  The sparkly emerald gems inside just screamed Kimberly.  Too bad they weren’t staying with her.

When the circle was complete - Kim had to practice that part a lot as, while she was artistic, drawing perfect circles while hanging like a sloth from a tree wasn’t exactly a picnic - she put away the tool, and rested her fingertips against the cutout.  After three mississippis, no less, no more, she slowly pulled her hand away, the glass round coming away with her.

Kim tucked the cutout in her kit then flexed her abdomen, the movement invisible under the dark-purple sheened leather, bending herself double at the waist to stretch her back, her spine popping at its base.  Now was the fun part.

Shifting her legs around the rope for better control, she tucked one arm behind her back to keep it out of mischief, released the rope control and pulled out a small pebble from her kit, which emitted a faint silver sheen when she depressed the center.  Then she slowly shaped her body to the exact position she needed - everything a little lower, elbow jutted out towards the display with the adorable carved crystal animals, hips shifted to the right so her form curved more gently over the lasers... And there... she slowly slipped her arm into the carved hole of the display - stretch, reach, shift - traded one of the gems for her pebble.

Perfect.

The pebble turned into an exact replica of the gem.

The verdant gems being small enough, she then swept her fingers across the bottom of the display, picking up the rest of them.  The moment she lifted each one, a replica appeared in its spot.

Kim just loved alien technology.

Now it was all over but the singing.

She secured the gems and retrieved the glass circle from her kit, attaching it to her left hand glove this time, and then pressed it back into its spot.  She pulled out the same slim tool, God bless Billy’s penchant for multi-use tools, turned on an orange beam and slowly traced the edges of her original cut.  Then she flexed her left hand and moved it away from the whole glass face of the display.

Was there a word for more perfect?

If not, there should have been.

Kim put away her tool, glanced around the room to make sure she didn’t forget anything, and got the hell out of Dodge.  Hayley would be very pleased with this load - after all she loved power gems.  Maybe Kim would even get an alien cookie this time.

~*~

Tommy had expected to have plenty of time to figure out what exactly was the difference between the mesozoic and the triassic periods, i.e. read his materials from Billy and Hayley before his next test until Principal Randall caught him in the hallway outside his classroom and announced without any discussion that he was going to be responsible for supervising the students on detention for the week. Starting right then.

She swiftly all but dragged him to the students in question, at which point he found that it was only three students, yet they were all from his juniors’ science class.  Normally that wouldn’t have been an issue but, if any of them caught on to the fact that he didn’t know his shit, there’d be hell to pay - both with his cover and potentially blackmail to get a better grade.

Still, he had a job to do, both the one he was pretending to do and the one he actually was assigned to do.

So he had done his best to buck up with the situation and figured that he could maybe pass off his new assignment to assess if the dinosaur collection at Reefside’s natural history museum, which had been donated by Anton, held any items that needed to be confiscated as a field trip for ‘educational’ purposes. So he’d announced the ‘road trip’, shoved them all in his jeep, not caring or knowing that he’d get fired if anything happened to them without parental waivers for them traveling with him, and driven to the museum.

Once there, he was sure things would be fine...

Instead, after he’d hauled the kids to the museum, they’d been attacked by a damn dinosaur! A T-Rex to be quite specific and he’d been wishing that he still had ranger powers right then and there as trying to drive away in the jeep had just been an exercise in futility as the damn thing nearly knocked them off the road.

Still, he’d gotten them away in one piece, he’d sworn them to secrecy as he dropped them off at the school and now he was gonna have to call Hayley or Billy to try and figure some damage control.

God, this whole undercover gig was becoming more of a nightmare every day!

~*~

“Hayley, we have a problem,” said Tommy into his cell phone from his seat in the command center as he watched the power signatures on the scanner that Hayley had set up flare to life in a blaze and then stay glowing much brighter than before.

It meant one thing... the power had been activated.

“Please tell me you didn’t get caught,” replied Hayley from her end of the phone.

“No, but those power signals we’ve been monitoring... they’ve spiked. I think we’re out of time.”

“Shit! Okay, I’m on my way... Billy and I had a contingency plan in case the power sources went online before we found them.”

“Like what?”

“Like morphers and spandex armor... what did you expect?”

Tommy sat there with his phone hanging listlessly in his grasp as he got the gist of her announcement. Billy and Hayley were expecting that they’d need to create morphers and suits and... rangers?

“But...”

“Suck it up, hero. You’re on.”

“What do you mean by that?” questioned Tommy, more confused now than he could remember being in ages.

“If we’re creating rangers, then someone has to teach them the ropes. And you’re elected,” announced Hayley.

“Me? I don’t know how to teach them...”

Hayley scoffed with a loud guffaw before she laid into him, “Thomas James Oliver, you might be occasionally a self centered jerk, more often than not a disaster in the kitchen, definitely not the best person to ask to be somewhere on time or to remind you of something, BUT you are historically the longest serving power ranger around, and have had your own growing pains learning the job. So yes, you get to mentor whomever has stumbled on our power source.”

Tommy sighed before running the hand not holding his phone through his hair. There were days that he hated that damn title of “greatest ranger ever”... Cole had thrown more than a little hero worship at him when the red rangers had been tasked to destroy Serpentera... but that was several years, more mileage and more heartache under the bridge ago.

Still... if he wasn’t wearing the spandex, at least this gave him a little more involvement in that life that deep down he... missed. This kind of undercover job wasn’t the same as saving the world.

“Okay... just tell me how I do all this stuff to find the power sources...” Tommy said finally with a small sigh that Hayley recognized as a sign of surrender.

She fought the grin on her face as she carefully explained the sequence of switches, keystrokes and scans that he’d need to focus in on the reason for the spike in the power signatures. As she slowly walked him through it she could hear him go through the keystrokes and flip switches. Then there was a slight groan and she jerked up in her seat at her cover location - her “Cyberspace” business.

“Tommy?”

“You know those kids I had to swear to secrecy about the dinosaur...” he said with an obvious awestruck tone to his voice.

“You’re kidding...” she replied as she got the subtext of what he hadn’t said.

“Nope. Well, I guess I will have to read them in a little further than I have already...”

“Let me know how that goes, and I’ll follow up with Billy.”

“Understood,” said Tommy before hanging up.

He sat there, still stunned, staring at the image of Kira Ford, Ethan James and Conner McKnight all holding what was most definately color coded power sources. Obviously he was going to have to spend a lot more time with his detention-prone students...

~*~

“William,” a gruff voice followed a knock at his door.

Billy huffed and shuffled away from his personal computer unit to let Ninjor inside.  For once, the legendary master was at least partially unarmored, his helmet left behind to reveal dusky skin and a bright shock of short, blond hair.  He didn’t look anywhere near as old as he should - then again if he did, he would be dust.  His strong features were barely lined although his lips were fully compressed with either displeasure or concern.

“Hello, Ninjor,” Billy said and waved him into the room.

“I am concerned, William,” Ninjor said as soon as the door closed, characteristically mincing no words and wasting no time.  “Dulcea, as you know, looks in on Holders of the Power from time to time as is her wont. Today, she viewed Thomas recklessly bring three civilian children to a place where there were potential artifacts. The resulting danger was almost inevitable. We had all hoped he would grow out of his impulsive tendencies but he is surely an adult man by human standards and still displays a disturbing predilection for unthought through heroics.”

During Ninjor’s speech, Billy’s internal self banged his head against the nearest surface.  In fact if he didn’t think Ninjor would take it the wrong way, he would actually have done so.

Instead, he offered a pacific smile, nodded and channelled Zack as hard as he could.  “While Tommy can be impulsive, his years of experience as a Ranger have honed his warrior instincts. [And provided him with a few more knocks on the head that could ill afford it...] If he brought the children there, then I believe that he sensed that to be the correct course of action at that time. [Or he Tommy’d this one and Hayley and I are going to have mop up his mess and cognitively alter these children’ parents.] Both  my colleagues and I have followed his leadership for years and the results of that is that Earth is still an independent planet. [As a result of that... despite that... Because we detained him in a closet until it was time to cause destruction... Insignificant details...] I assure you that we can trust Tommy with this mission. [Because everyone else has other agendas and we can’t exactly alternate Tommy’s assignment with Kim’s. I do not want to imagine Tommy attempting to cat-burglar anything.]”  The amount of bullshit he just peddled would need more than a cart, he would have to get a Mack truck to get it to the market...

“In any event, Hayley is enroute to join Tommy on this assignment and I have full confidence that she will ensure that this mission will be completed smoothly,” Billy added.  And at least that was unvarnished truth.

Ninjor nodded.  “I will bow to your personal experience in this matter, William, and I will reassure Dulcea.”

Yeah but who’s going to reassure me?

~*~

Kim had three targets left.  It had been an exhausting six months during which she hit museums, exhibitions, auction and private collections in an unforgiving tempo.  Between her flexibility and the tech toys her two beloved geeks endowed her with, the assignments were workable but still difficult.  Thankfully, along with the toys, they also gave her a credit card and Billy backed down when she explained that she had to blend in - wear the right outfits, stay in the right places - the cover had to be perfect each time.  Not that Billy ever had luck telling Kim anything, not since they were in diapers and she took his pacifier.

So yeah, Kim performed feats of near inhuman agility and often, her whole body felt like it was rolled over by a Mack truck the next morning.  But the credit card had no limit and the next morning was usually spent at an exclusive hotel spa near her next target - often after a red-eye, getting a deep tissue massage and all of the works as she leisurely plotted her subsequent moves.

Today she was in Dubai and the Burj Al Arab was everything its reputation said and more.  She ate her breakfast in her suite’s Jacuzzi, her hair pulled into a messy knot to keep it out of the water.  The peaches and strawberries were immaculate and the tiny raisin scones melted on her tongue, leaving a satisfying but light sense of sweetness behind.  She sipped what she was sure was fresh squeezed orange juice with her eyes closed as she contemplated the rest of her day.

First, of course, the massage.  She thought the Balinese would do nicely to get the kinks out.  Then, at eleven, the Platinum Rare Facial.  She should be able to hide the bug in a knot in her hair and leave it behind for the next appointment, who just so happened to be her target.  Lady Alina Malineaux, half French, half Iranian, and all rich.  Alina also happened to be the owner of a fabulous necklace that dated back to the thirteenth century.  The giant fire opals set in an ornate gold net were said to be worth at least three million.  Too bad they weren’t really fire opals, nor safe to leave in Alina’s hands.  Or any human hands.

Kim stood up from the tub, water sluicing down her pinkened skin, and her lips curved softly.  This was going to be fun.

~*~

Billy was already weary from his day; between Hayley going to Reefside to help monitor the mess with Tommy, Kim’s newest card statement and this recent discussion with Ninjor, he really had no desire to deal with anything more today.

Which was why when he shut the door on Ninjor and turned back to his personal workstation, he caught sight of the flashing light which indicated that he had an urgent message; it had him sighing and shaking his head.

It never was easy with this group...

Pressing a palm to the sensor panel, the screen before him activated and he saw Hayley’s face come into focus. The look in her eyes and set of her mouth instantly worried him and he moved to grab the chair, sitting heavily in it.

“Billy, we’ve got a complication. The power source here in Reefside has been identified as three power ‘crystals’, which have been found and bonded with three teenagers. They will not be available to add to the gems Kimberly has been gathering for Ninjor and Dulcea’s grid project,” she said quickly, and Billy knew she was hoping breaking the news fast would be like ripping the bandaid off so it didn’t hurt as long or as much.   “Since the gems have been found, I have also identified a potential threat in Reefside that I believe is tied to Mercer. I’ve taken the initiative to direct Tommy to engage the kids and use the ranger tech we built for emergencies with them. This will mean Tommy will have to read the kids in, but I expect he’ll keep a lot to himself... and with them getting the morphers he can harness them to engage the threat onsite here. I’ll contact you later with more information once I have it.”

With that, the message finished and Billy closed his eyes, lettingt his head fall back against the chair’s headrest as he questioned why he’d gotten himself into this again in the first place.

~*~

Kimberly’s first day in Dubai was fantastic.  The spa was staffed by magicians, the bug picked up details about a huge house party Alina would be going to the next day and a few hours at the bar in the evening netted Kim an invitation from the brother of the owner of the house and his personal cell phone number.  In between, Kim took in several hours of shopping, both to keep up her cover and for the outfits she needed, and tried not to speed too much in the Rolls Royce, which she sweet-talked the hotel into letting her drive herself.  She didn’t need any speeding tickets considering just what she was going to con Billy into later.

And con Billy she did.

That’s why, after speeding just a little in her rented Rolls, she was sitting outside the fitting room in Brioni at the Dubai Mall,  waiting to see how her latest suggestion would pan out.

“I don’t know about this, Kim,” a masculine voice drifted from the fitting room door.  “The pants are kinda tight.”

“Stop wasting time and show me the money,” she ordered.

The door opened and a man stepped out, a faint blush darkening his cheeks.  His tall, stocky frame was outlined in a double breasted charcoal suit, which complemented his tanned skin and dark brown eyes and played off the white and purple multi-striped dress shirt and solid purple silk tie.

Kim grinned and waved her hand.  “Okay now turn around.”

He glared.

“Come on... Turn.”  She crossed her arms over her chest and leveled her patented Kimberly look at him.

The man caved like a soaked napkin and spun around.

“Yep. That’s the tush I need.”

He spun back to face her as fast as he used to move morphed.  “Isabella,” he hissed, thankfully remembering her cover name, the blush on his cheeks brightening and creeping outwards.

“Don’t be such a prude. We’re getting this suit. Maybe not these shoes though.”

After putting him through the paces with anything from black shoes to tan to brown to grey and even a pair of blue just for fun, Kim settled on a pair of classic charcoal loafers.

When they got into her Rolls with the pile of shopping bags, Kim engaged the recording disruptors before she turned on the car and turned to her companion.  “Wasn’t that awesome?”

“Like a hole in the head.”

“Jason Lee Scott, that was not nice. I am calling your mother.”

To make it up to him, though, she let him drive.

~*~

“I have the kids doing okay,” explained Tommy as he and Hayley sat conspiratorially in the cave as she worked on getting the last of her raptor bikes up and running.

At least this had been something he had been able to help with, having learned more than a few things about engines when racing for his uncle.

“Good. I had to tell Billy that the gems were in capable hands and the kids were in yours, so...” Hayley said as she set a wrench down and wiped the back of her hand against her forehead.

Tommy’s eyebrows raised slightly at that. He wondered if that was a true compliment or just a statement that she and Billy didn’t expect him to fuck up too badly.

“If it is a problem for you guys or the Council, you could bring in someone else to mentor them...”

Hayley scoffed briefly and threw a greasy rag at him.

“Everyone else has their own assignments: Kat, Aisha and Tanya are off-world, as are Adam, Rocky, Trini and Zack. And Jason has his liaison work with the State Department besides doing assignments, and Kim has been all over the world using all of her considerable skills...” she started to recite and then trailed off as she realized she had brought up the infamous Kimberly Hart to the man who was internet stalking her...

Tommy was surprised; he’d never heard anything from anyone in the Intergalactic Council about Kim. He suspected that everyone from Jase to Billy to Hayley were conspiring to not mention her name. And the way Hayley had let slip that Kim had used *all* her skills made him wonder just *what* skills she was referring to...
  
~*~

That night, while Jason, firmly ensconced in his role as Leon Aristides, a fast talking playboy from Boston, romanced the middle-aged but fit and attractive Alina, Kimberly turned on her own charm.

The body skimming deep-raspberry silk dress set off her the caramel tones in her hair and the vee of the neckline sliced low between her breasts, the expanse of creamy, tanned skin playing peekaboo with a net of intricate gold chains draped over her chest.

She smiled as a finger skimmed down Tyler Flynn’s shirt, already half unbuttoned in the Dubai heat.  Coyly, she looked up at him from under long, fluttering lashes and and let him draw her closer.  She felt no attraction to the man who was actually the kind of playboy that Jason was portraying, no heat, the crackle in the pit of her stomach, but there was no need for that.

“So, Bella,” Tyler drawled.

She shook her head with a quick smile as she reached up to tangle her fingers into his untidy blond hair.  “Isabella, please.”

“Isabella,” he repeated with an exhale.  “Can I interest you in the private jacuzzi? I assure you that my brother spared no expense in this house.”

She looked down and drew her lip into her teeth.  “Well...”

“I’ll make it worth your while,” he whispered and lowered his head to trail open mouthed kisses that started right below her ear and ended at the gathered strap of her dress.

It was make it or break it so Kim closed her eyes, tuned her body into the magnetic rock emanating through the whole house and purred.  And if she thought about someone else that had nothing to do with the mission doing these things to her instead, well, then that was her own secret.  “Let’s see it then,” she whispered, her voice dropped low and flowing like molasses.

Tyler wrapped an arm around her and ushered her away from the guests into the depths of the house which would have been rightly called a mansion.  The music still reached them but fainter, beating just like the steady tattoo of Kim’s pulse.

He opened the door and revealed a jungle; a room with glass walls, climbing vines and a small rock fountain that culminated in a pool-tub that would easily fit six people.

Too bad Kim had no intentions of fitting even two.

She let him turn her around, slide her against the cool glass wall and fit his lips against her own, his defenseless flesh against her chemical warfare.  Her arms slid around his neck, her body straining tightly against his to keep him in place as the compound in the inviting berry of her lips worked like any other date rape drug - at least initially.  Within moments, Kim was sliding Tyler’s body gently to the floor.

Quickly, she locked the door, then fished a compact out of her silver handbag.  When she opened it, it was clearly not make-up.  She pressed it to the door and it attached with a quiet clang.  Extra insurance.  She took a small rectangular unit from the bag and set it up next to the door.  When she turned it on, she giggled as sounds of very realistic porn began to play.  Poor Hayley had gotten stuck creating the soundtrack and mixing in Kim’s and Tyler’s names. Of course she wondered if perhaps the brilliant redhead had woken up yet and jumped their resident genius yet and used that as inspiration.

She shook the thought of Billy and Hayley doing it doggie style in the command center out of her head as quickly as possible to mitigate the mental damage before she moved on to her task.

Kicking off her dress, she pinned up her hair and slid out the window.  The bike she arranged to have dropped off at the edge of the grounds was there, along with her bag.  Ah, sweet catsuit, she thought with a wicked grin.  Practiced fingers slipped on the worn-in leather, and she was on her way back to the hotel.  And she couldn’t speed now either.

Thankfully it was not very far away, which was part of the basis of the success of this mission.

The other part was scaling the atrium.  

The employees at the hotel were unfortunately too well trained not to miss a stranger dressed in one of their uniforms.

So Kim strapped on her facemask and met the helicopter awaiting her at the parking lot five minutes out of the hotel.  She grabbed the parachute, passed the unmarked cash to the pilot and took a deep breath as they took to the air.  The helicopter bounced in the air movements but Kim only had her eyes on the tower, used to flying much more high tech aerial machines.

When they were about to pass above the hotel, Kim crouched in the doorway and the leapt into the sky below, her breath catching somewhere behind her eyes.  She dropped the cheap parachute, which would give away too much of her presence anyway, and tugged at the small pulls at her shoulders.  Her catsuit released a gathered cape that immediately collected air and slowed her freefall with a thump.  Sliding her thumb along her collar, the leather suddenly glinted, shifting, becoming reflective.

Several more seconds of freefall and Kim reached out her hand, sharply shifting her wrist.  A cord shot out towards the gleaming top of the tower and then clung, the end imbued with exceedingly adhesive chemicals.  She spun her hand and grabbed the end of the cord in both hands, swinging like Tarzan on a branch, except at least six stories higher.  “I’m Spiderman,” she sang to herself.  “Except I’m Catwoman? This is confusing.”

The swing, like the best rollercoaster in the world, took Kim - blood pumping, adrenaline churning, sky above, sky below - back above the tower, but unlike the best rollercoaster, did not have an engine powering it, and slowed.  She released the cord, flipped and landed on the roof, the soles of her boots dampening the sound.

“Freeze!!! Don’t move!”

Turning around slowly as she unbuckled the last of her straps, Kim found herself facing three burly armed gunmen - all of which slightly lowered their weapons just a tad, their eyes widening when they got a good look at the obviously female stranger wearing  striking attire.

Narrowing his gaze, Saul dipped his head, drinking in the scandalously sexy leather-clad woman who just literally landed from the sky.  Grazing his dark salt and pepper beard, his grin turned lecherous.  “I guess my birthday came early this year.”

Scowl firmly in place, Kim wanted to retch when one of the gunmen actually ran his hand over his crotch while staring at her. Though she was more than capable in a fight, the psychological edge sexual appeal had over men wasn’t to be underestimated. Not one of the trio had their guns actually trained on her. “Guys, I seem to have made a huge mistake,” she began in a honey-smooth tone of voice, moving toward them slowly, seductively as they began to fan out. Soon all three were surrounding her. “I thought this rooftop was where I could find some ‘action’ tonight. “

Despite the obvious, blaring,  warning signs of a mysterious woman falling from the heavens, Mack couldn’t get over how tightly that outfit clung to her toned, petite frame. Or how her voice alone made him hard. Or what he could do to her if she wanted to get out of this alive. From head to toe, she was man candy, and he wanted a taste in the worse way. “Lady, you are in deep trouble...” looking back and forth with his guys, his smirk said it all. “Unless you play nice.”

One on each side of her - and one directly in front of her, they were all well over six feet tall, not to mention twice her size in weight. Raising a single gloved hand, she wrapped her fist around the nozzle of the rifle the man in front of her held at his hip. She gently nibbled her bottom lip, gazing into his hazel eyes. “This is how I play nice.”

Moving with a lethal grace, the fist curled around the nozzle shoved upward, ramming the hilt of the gun into the man’s nose, breaking it. His howling, bloodied swear, accompanied Kimberly slamming her foot into the crotch of the guy on her left, while simultaneously throwing a dart from her wrist into the mid-section of the guy on the right.

“I’m going to fucking kill y...” The roundhouse kick Mr. Bloody Nose just absorbed put him to sleep, while Mr. Sore Balls took a knee to the face before he closed his eyes for the evening.

That left ‘Mr. Dart in the Bell.’ Calmly, Kim crouched down beside him as he crumbled into a fetal position, sweating profusely. “I’m going to speak slow and simple so that you understand me. The pain you are feeling is due to a particular drug I have injected into your bloodstream via that dart. You’re feeling nauseous right now, but soon you will begin to lose feeling in your lower extremities. And then you will feel a tingling in your balls and it isn’t anything good. That would be the poison eliminating your ability to ever have another erection. Followed ten minutes later by your ability to ever have children. So, if you do not help me in the next ten minutes, you will be useless to a woman. Do you understand me?”

“Ye... yes.... please help me.”

“Good.  This is what I need...”

~*~

Tommy sat in the command chair in the basement ‘lair’ as he watched on the viewscreen his new Dino Thunder rangers take on a full fledged monster in downtown Reefside.

Watching them he had to say that he was kind of nostalgic for the days when it was him out there and not inside. He wondered if this was how Billy felt after the Zeo powers had skipped him.

Shaking his head he decided he didn’t want to dwell on that particular thought, as when he thought of the Zeo powers he always started to think of Kim... and that, while fun when he was checking her MySpace and asking some of the others, Jase in particular, about her when he was feeling nostalgic, depressed, horny or drunk wasn’t what he needed to be right now.

As the new Dino Thunder Megazord fought off the monster rampaging through Reefside, Tommy sighed and ran a hand over his face. This whole mentoring rangers thing had *not* been part of the plan. He had originally been sent here to find out about Anton, requiring his “cover”, but this new situation: power sources, morphers, villains and rangers was just a little too close to home for him.

Even though he and a good helping of the former rangers were now agents for the Intergalactic Council, all of them hadn’t worn a ranger uniform in some time. So watching Kira, Conner and Ethan in uniform had dredged up some not so stellar emotions from the former green/white/red power ranger. One emotion was jealousy, and it had him stomping down on the feeling any time it came up.

Still, he had his marching orders from Billy, via Hayley - take care of the kids, figure out what the hell was going on in Reefside and, above all, protect the power source - the dino gems.

He sighed as he watched the monster fall and disappear...  the rangers had saved the day yet again. Glancing down at the keyboard he noted the time on his watch and swore under his breath. With the kids done they’d go back to their normal lives, and that included Kira’s singing debut at the Cyberspace which he had promised he’d attend.

Hurriedly he turned off the equipment and headed upstairs to climb in the jeep and make his way downtown.

~*~

Having peeled off her catsuit and locked away of tech-gear, the successful theft of Lady Alina’s necklace was now complete. The necklace was secure, and the guard she injected water and a sleeping agent into would awaken soon and be all that he was.  

Mission accomplished. She only had this last bit of business to attend to.

Once again in nothing but her underwear, Kim climbed back into jacuzzi room and eyed Tyler, who was still laid out prone on the floor.  Then she unsnapped her bra and stepped out of her panties and slid into the jacuzzi with a sigh.  She needed a moment.  And she was a little sweaty.

She worked her calves with sure, practiced strokes, then ran her hands over her torso.  Sadly, she had no time for a soak.  That was for tomorrow.  In Hong Kong.

She rose from the tub, toweled herself off and re-dressed.   Retrieving her handbag and putting away the soundtrack device, she flopped on the floor next to Tyler, still barefoot, touched up her make-up and artistically dishevelled her hair, then pinned it back up.

She removed a silver tube, this one containing a different chemical compound, and slicked it on her lips, leaving them pink and plump.  It was a good thing Billy and Hayley pumped her full of antidotes to all of the crap she was carrying.

Then she knelt over Tyler and pressed her lips to his before tipping her head to his ear.  “We had sex and I was awesome.”

Then she pulled out a mini pen and clicked it into his thigh, releasing yet another chemical into his bloodstream, this one to wake him up.  The mix of the cocktails would ensure that he would be quite malleable, and quite fuzzy on the details.

As he slowly came to, Kim unbuttoned his shirt all the way, unzipped his pants and messed up his hair.

“Hey, beautiful,” he slurred and she nearly recoiled, before catching herself, and debated knocking him out again.  Maybe with a shotgun.  Unfortunately the mission came first.

“Hey, tiger,” she purred.  “This was definitely worth seeing.”  She helped him tidy himself up and get to his feet, although his balance was clearly affected, his body swaying against her.  “I could use a drink, though,” she said breathily, biting her lip.

“I bet I could help you with that,” he said dreamily.

“I bet you could,” she returned with a smile and propped him as best as she could as they returned to the din of the party.  When she caught sight of Jason, Alina’s hands roaming in all the best places - poor Jase, she winked subtly.  Another mission complete.

Not that it would save her from a big brother ass-kicking as soon as Jase found out all the details.  But hey, a girl’s gotta have her fun.

~*~

As the door clanged behind them, Adam turned and hard-clapped a hand upside Rocky’s head.

The other man stumbled before he looked over and glowered.  “What was that for?”

“You know what that was for. Billy and Hayley sent us here to negotiate a trade deal for the Council and now we’re in jail!”  Adam punctuated his statement by throwing out his arms to showcase the dim, cramped room they were stuck in.  The walls were exposed brick, the floor looked like concrete that has not seen a mop in at least five years and benches lining the perimeter of the room were narrow and metal.  “Oh yes and lest I forget... it was your fault because you said god only knows what to the merchant’s daughter.”

“How was I supposed to know that mentioning access to rare substances would make people think we’re drug dealers!” Rocky shot back.  “She was hot and I was flirting. I was talking about myself!”

“Would it have killed you NOT to flirt for five minutes! She’s an alien. You’re probably not even biologically compatible!”

“Billy dated the fish chick!”

“Leave Billy out of this! He’s already going to make mincemeat out of us.”

Rocky scoffed.

Adam threw him a dark glare as he flopped uncomfortably on the thin bench.  “Billy might be quiet and easygoing but don’t forget he comes with backup. And big guns.”  Then he paused and grimaced.  “And that’s if we ever get out of here.”

Rocky scuffed his dress shoe against the dirty floor.  “Aw come on, they aren’t going to leave us here.”

“They aren’t going to cause an intergalactic incident over your stupidity.”

The men were silent for a few minutes.

“If they do leave us here, I just hope prison food doesn’t suck,” Rocky said.

Adam groaned.  Leave it to Rocky to worry about food when they were facing forever in chains.  If he had anything to throw at him, this would have been the moment.

Sadly, they were left with nothing but the clothes on their backs and so Adam was forced to endure several hours of Rocky complaining that he was hungry.  Even sadder was that they were fed, round bowls full of bluish slop, and then Rocky complained that the food was awful.

Adam was reasonably sure this was his punishment for not muzzling Rocky when he went in to speak to the merchant in the first place.  And he was sorry.  Really really sorry.

Then, like a miracle from some really kind god somewhere, the door slammed open and a guard stomped through.  He was also bluish, generally humanoid but taller and slimmer, and his eyes were almost round, liquid and irridescent.  That didn’t stop him from being able to roughly handle Rocky into a set of glimmering silver cuffs while barking orders in the local tongue.  While the merchants spoke a variety of galactic languages, that didn’t apply to the common folk like corrections officers.  Still, Adam was pretty sure they were being not to struggle.  Which, not being completely devoid of gray matter - okay the jury was still out on Rocky - they did not.  The guard clapped the cuffs on Adam and then shoved them both into the hall where another guard was waiting.

The object in the second guard’s hands was clearly identifiable as a weapon so they didn’t argue when gestured down the hall into another room.   This room had a table in the middle and an extra door on the opposite side.

When they sat down, the other door opened, two people walking through.  

The woman was slim, her dark, straight hair falling jauntily around her face in an asymmetrical bob that only set off the rage in her brown eyes.  Her severe black jacket, held together by a row of buckles, was cut diagonally with a dark red sash and her fingers tapped at her hips, clad in functional black pants, outlined in a matching red stripe.

The man sported a golden hoop in his ear, which matched the dark gold of his jacket, offset by the black buckles and epaulets.  He fingered his earring briefly before tucking his hands into the pockets of his straight-cut black pants.  Then he grinned.  “Go ahead, get it out.”

The woman shot him a glare so hot that if she was pyrokinetic he would have been ash.

“We are on a planet,” she began conversationally, “three solar systems away from our own. It is an important trade hub for the Intergalactic Alliance. All of the rare metals utilized for delicate power systems work are moved through this market. The reason we are on this planet is to negotiate the purchase of some of those rare metals for a special project. Billy and Hayley entrusted us with this mission. They entrusted me with this mission. And you convinced me you could be trusted.”  Her voice crescendoed with every perfectly enunciated word, which neither Adam nor Rocky dared interrupt.  “Which was a lie. Because,” she thundered, “you got yourselves arrested under suspicion of drug dealing. DRUG DEALING!”  Her nostrils flared as she drew in air.

“Now Trini,” the man said softly as he wound a friendly arm around her shoulders.  “If your head explodes, I don’t want to be the one to go back alone to explain this whole scene.”

Trini, and it was in fact the former Yellow Morphin Ranger, shrugged off the encroaching arm and gave off another deadly stare.  “Do not start, Zachary, or I will leave you in prison along with these two.”

Zack held up his palms in defeat.  “Whoa there babe. I didn’t do anything. I was with you pulling off a sweet coup that Billy is going to kiss us both for.”  He paused and pulled a face.  “Well... less kissing and more high fiving but man we did good.”  Theatrically, he buffed his nails on his jacket.

“I suspect,” she said from behind gritted teeth, “that Billy might be distracted with news of Cheech and Chong over here.”  She gestured at Rocky and Adam, the former giving a hesitant little wave.  “And now we have to smooth over the intergalactic incident... if it kills them.”

Adam cleared his throat.  “Trini, you have every right to be mad and we are going to do everything-” at that he elbowed Rocky in the ribs, eliciting an enthusiastic nod, “that we can to fix this.”

Trini looked them over with eyes like onyxes.  “You are going to stay here and behave while Zack and I fix this.”

And with that, Adam and Rocky were again left to the tender mercies of an alien jail cell.

~*~

Aisha lounged bonelessly in the observation chair.  It was more comfortable than her computer chair at home.  Not that she was home often.  Between her work with the animal rights groups and her work for Billy and Hayley, if she was home once per month it was a miracle.

And now she wouldn’t be home for at least two months.

Space flew above her as she moved her pencil idly over her sketch pad.  At least this time, Billy and Hayley gave her an all girl mission with Kat and Tanya to the planet of Erithea.  She feared for Trini’s sanity, stuck with both Zack and Rocky - Adam only rarely a help and often a helpmate to the madness.  Aisha certainly wouldn’t have that problem with the girls.  Both Kat and Tanya were possessed of placid personalities.  Truthfully, she could have used a little more madness.

Aisha laughed.

Maybe when she got back to Earth, she’d call up Kim and have a crazy girls’ night.  Invite all the girls.  It would be epic.

Yeah, that would definitely be something to look forward to.

~*~

Hayley was at a total loss and was doing something she never did - panicking.

Tommy had been kidnapped, right in front of her building by these tyrannodrones that seemed to be affiliated with this new bad guy, Mesogog, whom she was certain was involved with Mercer somehow. But right now she couldn’t find Tommy, the new Dino Thunder rangers were off doing who knew what and if she didn’t find a way to get Tommy back...

Quickly she locked her office door at the Cyberspace and pulled out her encrypted satellite phone and pressed the button for her number one speed dial person.

“Hello,” said Billy on the other end after a few seconds of static.

“Billy, we have a code Zulu out here,” she stated with as much control as she could.

Immediately Billy sat up at his workstation, mind trying to process the severity of the emergency code for a lost ranger.

“What?  How?”

“Mesogog’s people snatched him off the street. I have no location for him and will try to see if I can find some way to calibrate the command center’s scanners in the cave to locate him. But I think we need to initiate Charlie Bravo protocol.”

Billy frowned. He had people all over the universe... and right now of all the ones he could send to Reefside that could handle the situation, the two most likely were halfway across the world. Still, he just needed to contact them and he was sure Jason could leave Kim behind; she was more than capable of finishing the assignment alone.

“I’ll contact Jason in Dubai. Hang tight... and if it makes you feel better, Tommy does always seem to find his way out of these kinds of situations.”

Hanging up the phone before Hayley could even reply, Billy dialed Jason’s secure line. After several rings it finally picked up and Billy sighed in relief.

“Can you converse freely?” he asked tersely, his mind currently running search and rescue scenarios.

“Yeah, what’s up?” Jason asked, his eyes flicking to where Kim was in the driver’s seat of the Rolls, guiding them to the airport.

“We have a code Zulu and I need someone for a Charlie Bravo maneuver immediately in the states.”

Jason froze. He knew that there was only one team operative in the states... Tommy.

“Billy, you know I would drop everything and go but I have to get back to the State Department. I’m already on the calendar in 12 hours with the Secretary of State for a debrief. Are you sure there’s no one else...”

“Everyone is off world... except you and Kim...” Billy explained, his tone edging towards worry now. “Hayley’s there but she’s not fully trained, and there are other players but they can’t match an agent in this matter. Jason, there’s every likelihood that he’s been captured by a significantly dangerous adversary. We really need...”

“Hold on...” Jason said before he put his end of the line on mute, his head turning to where Kim was expertly steering the vehicle into the rental car lot. “Kim, park it... we need to talk.”

~*~

Aisha crouched on her yellow hover-board, just a few feet above the lurching flow of the sunset colored lava.  The engine of her hover, a design Billy and Hayley borrowed from Andros and modified to their content, purred under the soles of her boots. That and the pops from the molten rock cascading downward and colliding into itself were the only sounds in the cavernous space.  The only light came from the fires below and the searching rays of the women’s helmet-lights, which transversed the craggy rocks and the mighty vein of fire.

Aisha  was point inside the main stem of the biggest volcano on Erithea - Alastaia Peak - Kat and Tanya flanked behind her.  Her black catsuit, this one complete with a facemask to filter the volcanic gases, kept off the deadly effects of the fiery liquid below them but she could still feel the heat, which radiated through the darkened cavern in flesh-melting waves.

Tanya hit the short range comm, “The lava moves like a heart-beat, guys. We should be able to time it like Billy said.”

Tanya was right.

The flow was shortly steady, then spurted forward before stabilizing, a cycle that repeated itself as Aisha tuned into it.

As they penetrated deeper into the volcano, Aisha doing her best to ignore the sweat slithering between her skin and the leather of her suit, the gas readings creeped higher.  

The power source they were after, a gem created by the interaction of the inherent properties of the rock that made up the volcano and the lava that bathed it, was deep down in the bowels of this Hades.  

Aisha really hoped they could get there without becoming one with the environs.  She had amazing plans for the next girls’ night and she had no intentions of letting some wimpy volcano get in the way.

~*~

Kimberly Anne Hart was on a plane for Los Angeles, and from there, a hop to Reefside, California.

And she was vacillating between pissed off, terrified and anxious. After Jason had laid out the fact that Billy had a code Zulu and needed an agent onsite in Reefside immediately, she had been more than a little overwhelmed by the realization that the agent in trouble was Tommy and that, if she didn’t go, there was no one coming to his aid...

But she was going. If nothing else, he was a fellow agent and she was not going to fail in her duties to the Council by letting some little thing like personal feelings get in the way of her doing her job.

Even if those personal feelings meant she might murder him after she rescued him.

The last time she saw him they were still dating.  Same for the last time she spoke to him.  And that was a long time ago.

And the only time she heard about him was when the women had coordinating time away from their missions and either Kim or Aisha suggested a girls’ night.  After a few shots and several martinis, Trini, or sometimes Hayley, would pass on tidbits to a dizzy Kim.  She never *really* wanted to hear them.

And then there were the pictures in Jason’s studio.  He was the only one with a normal-ish job so he was the only one who had a normal-ish home life.  That came complete with a pegboard that Jase pinned photographs to.  Everyone was on it and he updated it frequently.

When Kim stopped by, which was randomly, she always looked at it.  Ostensibly to see how many drunk Kim pictures Jase got from Kat, the reasonably sober one, but inevitably her eyes got dragged against their will to new Tommy pictures and then she’d get gut-punched.  Seeing his face always gut-punched her.

Especially when he got his porcupine haircut.  She snorted.  She almost gave herself away when she first saw that.

Either way, Kim was sure that this meeting was going to be absolutely ugly - saving his butt or not.  This was why she definitely had to be in first class.  Thank goodness for the credit card.

She’d make sure Billy paid the bill, considering he was the one sending her to the lion’s den... and not just figuratively.

~*~

Trini sighed as she smoothed her iridescent bronze and midnight-blue gown.  It was obvious that Zack helped her pick it out as, although the asymmetric one-shoulder neckline was sleek and appropriate, the coordinating slit along her left leg that climbed up her thigh was just short of completely scandalous.  She was supposed to be a diplomat for god’s sake.

And here she was in a priceless alien-designed gown, strappy heels and dripping with sapphires borrowed from a friendly local noblewoman.  So much for decorum.

But the mark of an excellent diplomat is knowing what tool to use when and this was definitely the day to use all the tools at her disposal.

She entered the busy, fabric draped ballroom with a smile, her benign expression hiding the quick calculation running behind it at warp speed.  There, picking up a glass of pale pink local bubbly known as gilthau, was Commander Sirendar tor Divani, clad, as usual, in his dark blue uniform.  Among his many decorations, all of which shone brightly from the deep orange sash across his chest, he was also the chief of the city police.

And there, across the floor, speaking with two elderly dames of society, was her diplomatic counterpart Siresti Mithyr ter Natu, a younger man in severe black enlivened only by the hint of green at his lapel.  

Trini ran a slender finger along her mocha-painted lower lip.  

Things may have been looking up.

~*~

It was the end.

Tanya’s handheld was giving off-the charts readings.  And that was good because there was no room to follow the lava flow any further down without something far more effective than their suits - something that would let them swim in the lava.  Aisha was pretty sure that wasn’t in Billy or Hayley’s repertoire.  She wasn’t even sure their old Ranger suits could handle that.

“Alright, ladies, we ready?” Aisha said into her comm.

“You got it,” Kat responded quietly as she guided her board to hover next to the spot, right beside Tanya.

Aisha took a slow, deep breath, flashed a thumbs up at her teammates and laid herself stomach down on her board.  Responding to her direction, the board lowered to just half a foot above the molten flow.  She pressed her fingers to a depression on the side of the board and a slim, pale rod came away in her hand.   She twisted it and it extended, releasing four grappling prongs at the end.

In a way, she was playing a very high stakes claw crane game, where the toy she was after was an extraordinary power source but, rather than being buried in other toys, it was enmeshed in live fire.  She really hoped though that this would be more successful than a normal crane game or they’d be here until the cows came home.

With that thought in mind, Aisha carefully lowered the rod until the prongs were right above the lava.  “Status?”

“To your right by three centimeters,” Tanya called.

Aisha carefully adjusted the tool until Tanya was satisfied, her arm muscles beginning to twitch from being held stiffly.  “I’m going in,” she warned, and pressed the knob at the top of the rod, setting the entire tool aglow in dim greenish light as it extended slowly into the swirling molten core of the volcano.

As the seconds ticked by and her lungs began to burn, Aisha realized she was holding her breath and released it in a loud whoosh.

“You okay?” Kat asked.

“Mhmm,” Aisha hummed as the prongs hit something hard, sending a hint of vibration all the way to her hand..  “Is that it, Tanya?”

“Looks like.”

“Easy does it,” Aisha crooned as she slowly twisted the rod, latching the prongs on what was hopefully the power source.  The material that made up the tool was a special infused rare metal that could withstand over a thousand degrees Celsius without melting but, no matter how Billy and Hayley labored, it still conducted some of that rising temperature.  Aisha’s entire suit, including her gloves, was well reinforced, but she felt like she stuck her hand in a roaring oven and was trying to pull out a smouldering coal.  It didn’t hurt per se, but only just.

The rod slowly retracted from the lava, the illumination from the women’s helmet-lights glinting subtly against the pale metal until it emerged, the claws caught on an irregular black sphere.

“Tanya?”

“Yeah, Sha?”

“That doesn’t look...”

“Like a power gem,” Kat finished for Aisha.

“It is,” Tanya concluded.  “Either it is or the gem is inside because the readings off that thing are morphinominal.”  She chuckled softly.

“Alright, Kat, you’re up,” Aisha said as she slowly drifted her board closer to Kat.  The blonde detached a sheath from her waist and held it open for the gem.

As Aisha climbed to her knees and lifted the now short rod to drop the gem into Kat’s waiting grasp, the lava flow below them spurted and then spurted again, spraying high and hard, the molten rock nearly nailing Kat’s arm as it began to run in earnest.

“Shit.”

“Code Red,” Aisha snapped as she let Kat wrap the gem.  “Let’s go.”

Below them, the chamber filled quickly, the lava climbing the walls with inexorable determination.

Aisha hopped up, crouched on the board as she aimed high, an angle that was almost unsustainable - the board had no seatbelts, no safeties and all that was keeping the women astride was their own sense of balance.

And the knowledge that if they were too slow, not only would they fail Billy and Hayley, but there wouldn’t even be any bodies to bring back home.

Their pursuer hissed behind them, like a wild, angry animal, hissed and roared as they sped through the corridors of the volcano, Tanya shouting directions in a short, clipped bursts.

“Come on, come on,” Aisha called.  “The air is clearing up.”

“I think it’s gaining,” Kat yelled back.  “Shitshitshit.”

“Move it or lose it, Hillard,” Aisha growled, “And I do mean MOVE IT!”

The corridors levelled off, letting them fly evenly, all three riding their engines harder than ever before.

“Fuck,” Tanya interrupted herself in the middle of citing the next turn.  “My board is sputtering.”  And it was.  The engine was hiccuping as she leaned forward like an arrow across a taut bow, ready to be launched.

“Lose it,” Aisha commanded and slowed down, matching up to Tanya’s side.  

Light flashed above them and moisture fell through the opening in the rock, rocketing off steam explosions all around them, lava spraying into the air even as Tanya sprung towards Aisha, Tanya’s board falling away and behind.

Tanya’s body slammed into Aisha, who braced hard and rocked, clenching her arms around the other woman as they caught their balance on the flying hover, both hissing as some of the lava droplets burned through their suits.

“You guys alright?” Kat’s frantic voice came through the comms, the former pink ranger herself matching her board speed to Aisha’s.

“I’ll live,” Tanya said slowly as she shifted behind Aisha, careful not to throw off the balance of the flying hover.  After surviving the jump, it would have been doubly ironic to fall into the lava.

“Good thing Rocky didn’t see us getting that close,” Aisha muttered as she accelerated again.  “The lesbian jokes would never end.”  Kat moved in right behind her.

“Let’s just book it,” Tanya said.

The exit in sight, Aisha and Kat raced each other as much as the molten rock, the temperature leveling off so the triple-filtered air didn’t feel like an overheated sauna.

As they emerged full-speed into the night, Kat hollered in glee.

“I think we just beat Cole’s little run through Serpentera, don’t you think?” Tanya asked smugly.

“You know it,” Aisha said and grinned.  “Now let’s go home. I need a nap. For like a week.”

A female Ranger’s work was never done.

~*~

Tommy looked around anxiously  Mesogog’s lab after directing Conner, Kira and Ethan to leave him before his eyes locked on his target. After everything he’d endured at Mesogog’s hands he wasn’t leaving empty handed. He lunged across the room and swooped up the crystalline rock with the dark gem embedded inside it. He was sure he knew what it was, and the fact that Mes0gog had been trying to get his help in cracking the secret of the gems told him that there was more at stake here than just his hide.

Pivoting he rushed towards the same place the kids had already escaped through, knowing he probably had seconds before he would be swarmed by tyrannodrones... and without any kind of superpower or ranger ability, he was going to be severely  at a disadvantage.

And he’d had enough of Mesogog’s hospitality to last a lifetime... he’d never know what the hell drove these villains to fixate on him: Rita, Zedd, Mondo and Gasket... now Mesogog. Couldn’t he just be the hot, kickass ranger leader and not get some wannabe despot thinking he was their arch enemy and want to monologue their evil plan to him?

So when Tommy finally ran through the invisi-portal with the chunk of rock surrounding what he was certain was another power gem like the kids had, he wasn’t sure what he was gonna find when he fell through. So when he landed between ‘his’ rangers and the slut, the tin can, and a horde of tyrannodrones he knew that he’d gone from the frying pan into the fire.

And when Zeltrax fired his laser at him, the only thing he could think to do was to put the hunk of crystal between him and the blast. Seconds turned to a minute, and then longer as Zeltrax kept up the attack, and Tommy had a bad feeling things were going to go from bad to worse.

Damn, it was starting to burn his hands...

Before he could move even a fraction of an inch to alleviate the fire licking his fingers the crystal shattered, the energy from the blast hitting the gem and him in one brilliant white flash...

~*~

Zack shed his diplomatic uniform with relish.  Romancing a girl took style - even an alien girl - and the Zack Attack, perfected since his failures with Angela, required the right garnish for the delicious dish he was serving up.

His loose black pants and fitted green tunic were comfortable and just reminiscent enough of martial arts style that he knew he’d hit that sweet spot, especially on this planet where tradition was taken a lot more seriously than back home.

As Zack approached the girl in question at the kithel bar, the local source of tasty treats, caffeine type drinks and single people their age, he was sure this was going to net him not only Adam and Rocky’s eternal gratitude but at least several points on the scoresheet that he and Rocky have been keeping since they started in this job.

Boys’ night out were never complete without Zack and Rocky competing for the most eligible single ladies at the bar.  Zack, as always, was ahead.  Romancing the woman that put Rocky and Adam in jail, he knew, would put him over the top forever.

~*~

Kim had arrived, finally in Reefside and hurriedly followed the directions from her tablet to the out of the way place that Billy had indicated was the house Tommy was staying at. She parked her rental car in the driveway next to a Mazda sedan that she knew wasn’t Tommy’s and continued to review the message on her tablet, directing her to the basement cave.

Skipping the front door she jogged around the side of the house until she was in forest. Shaking her head at the remoteness, she found the arch of rock indicated in the message and held her tablet up to the center of it, a pulsating flash of light emanating from the screen causing the surface before her to split in two and slide away, admitting her into the command center.

As she walked inside she had to admit that it was a pretty sweet setup, and understood the remoteness of the location better. Once inside the doorway closed behind her and she turned a corner to find Hayley at a console, images displayed on a large view screen.

“Did you find him?” Kim asked matter of factly, only a slight tremor in her tone giving anything away.

“Yeah. The kids and I ended up locating him. They’re downtown right now, dealing with the leather biker chick and her minions,” stated Hayley, not looking away from the scene before her as Zeltrax fired on Tommy.

“Shit... is he trying to block magical blaster fire with some kind of crystal?” questioned Kim as she watched in rapt horror as the leather clad skank had her metal friend fire on Tommy.

“That’s not going to...” started Hayley, her voice steadily rising as she watched the energy signature of the crystal in Tommy’s hand start to expand exponentially.

Suddenly the place where Tommy had been standing lit up like the Fourth of July in a blinding white light. Kim and Hayley both shielded their eyes as the intensity, which even through the viewscreen was too much to withstand. When they finally opened their eyes the place Tommy had stood was... empty.

“Tommy...” whispered Kim, her blood turning to ice in her veins.

The red, blue and yellow rangers staggered towards the empty space by a few feet and Hayley and Kim watched in disbelief. At the same time the villains seemed more than pleased with their... murder of Dr. Thomas Oliver.

“Hayley, I need a weapon. Whatever you have... I am not letting them get away with...”

Before Kim could utter another word of her threat the space Tommy had been in shimmered, and, out of nowhere, he reappeared.

“I need to trust Billy more,” murmured Hayley incredulously as she recalled Billy’s words about how Tommy always seemed to find a way out of situations that he shouldn’t be able to survive.

Kim sucked in a much needed deep breath and watched as Tommy shoved a long sleeve up his arm, exposing a silver bracer. He then slammed the gem in his hand into it and then morphed in the street. A few seconds later a black uniform took the place of his civilian clothes and he dropped into a battle ready stance.

Inside the cave command center, Kim couldn’t help the reaction the spandex armor on Thomas Oliver caused in her, as her heart sped up in her chest.

Damn, the man still looked good in spandex.

~*~

Trini chewed thoughtfully on a piece of bread as she lounged on a sofa in the hotel suite.  “I think that went well.”

Zack laced his fingers behind his head and leaned back against a puffy cushion with a grin.  “Are you kidding? We did great.”

Trini cocked an eyebrow at him.  “Yeah but they’re stuck in prison not knowing if they will ever see daylight again.”

Zack shrugged.  “But they will see daylight again in two months.  And it’s because we’re awesome. Say it with me, T, awe-some.”

Trini let out a soft chuckle, picking up a cup of hot kithel.  “Okay Zack. Awe-some.”

Satisfied, Zack sighed.  “Now whatever will we do for two months now that we finished the trade negotiations...”

“Oh I’m sure we’ll make do...”

~*~

Once Tommy had returned to the house and the basement command center, it was a matter of moments between his utter disbelief that Kim was there, grabbing him in a brief hug of obvious relief before she let go and then slugged him across the jaw.

“What the hell?” he questioned as he brought his hand up to rub his sore chin.

“What the fuck were you doing?” she nearly yelled, her emotional control slipping through her fingers as the fear she’d felt when she thought he was dead flooded her again.

“My job. And what the fuck does it matter to you? You don’t give a shit about me... you haven’t ever since you had the audacity to send me that stupid dear John letter...” spat Tommy, angry now that she was pretending to care after all this time.

“Are you kidding me? You are still jacked up about that letter? Didn’t you ever figure out, especially after we both joined the Council, that I’d just told you what you needed to hear?”

“What do...  you mean... you... lied?”

“I mean I knew what a damn noble guy you were and you weren’t going to break up with me while I was 3,000 miles away. I needed to be the noble person and let you go.”

Tommy was suddenly speechless... she’d...

“Oh come on... look, you needed to focus on Zedd and I was a distraction. I knew that and made a decision; I sent you a letter that would hurt your pride and break things off with us in one fell swoop so you could focus on the fight.  And this is all in the past. What we need to talk about right now is what the hell you were doing getting yourself into this mess with Mesogog or whatever,” Kim announced, recalling her briefing materials from Billy.

“I...” Tommy tried to focus on the rapidly shifting landscape that Kim was laying out.  It was difficult.  The one thought beating inside his head was that she didn’t think of him as a brother.  The rest was sort of... garnish, like curly parsley on a dish of devilled eggs.  “I was trying to protect the kids,” he offered helplessly, his brain following that central thought forward - if she didn’t think of his as a brother, then...  And then his brain sort of flopped like a fish on a hook.

Kim crossed her arms over her chest and tapped her foot.  “That is the dumbest excuse I’ve heard all month and I spoke to Rocky last Tuesday.”

“But I...”

“You had no powers. You had no business getting yourself,” she nearly choked over the words, her insides contracting sharply, “nearly killed without any powers and no back-up.”

Tommy stood there and just stared at her. He saw the anger and, beneath it, the genuine concern for his well being. He knew she wouldn’t have punched him if she didn’t care... and if she cared...

Tommy blinked and blurted, “You like me!”  This was the best conclusion his brain managed with the given evidence.

Kimberly, who had been working herself up to another rejoinder, froze with her mouth open. She had desperately hoped that the anger she was feeling at his stupidity would mask her fear and... other emotions regarding her former boyfriend, who stood in front of her in a tight black t-shirt and khaki pants that were hugging him in all the right places. Her eyes drifted for a second to assess the yumminess in front of her before she caught his eyes again and realized he wasn’t as struck dumb as he’d been a second ago as he started stalking towards her.

“So you’re mad I took chances and nearly got killed...” he started, moving forward into Kim’s personal space as she instinctively backpedaled. “The only reason I can think of that you’d get so upset with me for doing that is that you still care about me... more than I think you’d like to.”

“You’re deluding yourself,” she quickly shot back as she shook herself loose of the spike of hormones that were starting to affect her judgement with his continued closeness. “I’d be pissed if Rocky or Jason or Trini tried that kind of shit...”

Kim then moved to walk past him, stretching out a hand to brush him aside, figuring to get the hell outta there before things got... physical when Tommy swiftly reached out and caught her her upper arm, stopping her in mid stride and nearly swinging her around to face him again, only inches separating them.

“Really? Because I’m getting the feeling that if that *really* was the case that you would not have hit them.”

“You seriously have an ego problem. You think after all this time I still have the hots for you? You *have to* realize that sounds absolutely stupid. I mean I was just in Dubai seducing some mark and you think I ran halfway around the world to rescue my one true love?”

His fingers spasmed hard on her arm, but she barely noticed although it was sure to leave finger-shaped bruises, because he tipped his head, his brown eyes like molten dark chocolate, angry, heated and... something else...  She could feel his warm breath as he spoke, so close, so far away...  “Don’t you? Didn’t you?” he asked, his voice low and rough.  Then his other hand was against at the side of her face, his fingertips stroking her temple, sliding down her cheekbone, trailing warmth all the way to the corner of her lip.  “You *have to* realize that *this* is better than any mark.”  And then his hand was tipping up her chin and his lips were on hers, firm and demanding, and her head was spinning like she just tossed herself out of a helicopter without a parachute again.

For a moment, Kimberly twined her arms around Tommy’s neck, drinking in being sixteen again, being unfettered and light, his mouth warm and familiar and wanted, so so wanted.  Then she shoved him away, breathing like someone was squeezing a fist around her lungs, her hand flashing up to slam into his jaw again... that was going to bruise too.  “What is wrong with you? Just what is wrong with you?”  

He stumbled back, eyes dazed, hand to his chin, fingers feeling out the damage as he absently said, “I love you.”  And that was it.  The world ending confession, completely matter of fact, inevitable, like the sun rising, gravity, E equals MC squared - Tommy loves Kim.

Kim opened her mouth as she grabbed for the nearest thing, in this case the console, that lit up six ways from Sunday as she unknowingly pressed god only knew what.  Words did not come out.  She swallowed painfully past the tennis ball in her throat and tried again, her voice finally obeying her, shaky, hesitant, almost like she really was that sixteen year old girl again and not a jaded secret agent who has seen everything and done more when she finally whispered,  “what did you say?”

Tommy took a long, deep breath as he felt himself dredging up all the emotions that he’d buried underneath the pain, heartache and loss that had prompted him to keep tabs on her year after lonely year...  “Kim. I’ve been in Reefside pretending to have a PhD and trying to shape young minds while conducting an undercover mission. Considering my lack of skills when it comes to time management and organization, it’s a miracle I haven’t been committed to the Reefside Psychiatric Center already. If that wasn’t bad enough, Hayley and Billy appointed me to mentor three stubborn hormonal teenagers who are just as bad as we were. And today... today I was kidnapped, nearly killed and then became a Power Ranger. For the fourth color and who knows what time. And now you can’t even understand simple English and words that are two syllables or less.”  He drug his hands through his hair, which was already a helmet-head mess, pressing down on his aching skull.  “So okay. I’ll repeat myself once. Once,” he added sternly, drawing on his limited teaching experience before he closed his eyes and threw any self respect and caution to the wind,  “I, Thomas James Oliver, love you, Kimberly Anne Hart.”

He didn’t get a chance to open his eyes or even put his hands down before suddenly there was a bundle of Kim ramming him backwards, entangling his mouth with hers.  He tripped backwards, his hands unconsciously moving catch her, and they fell right into his command seat, which was for the best because his knees were going weak as she started suctioning his mouth with hers, her tongue forcefully invading his mouth.

Not that he was complaining. Hell no... after more long years of fantasizing about making her lithe gymnast body do dirty and super bendy things this was just what he needed after nearly dying and becoming a ranger again.

He moved one hand into her hair and curled his fingers in the silky strands. Then he nearly yanked on her head to take control of the kiss, slanting his lips harder on hers and doing everything he could to not just rip her clothes off...

Then Kim forcibly pulled her head from Tommy’s grasp, yanking her lips from his. She felt like she’d run a marathon already by the way her chest was heaving as she gulped in air. She levered back even as Tommy stared at her, his eyes aflame with desire and love and she reached forward and put both hands on the collar of his t-shirt and pulled.

The black fabric ripped down the middle, showing Kim the tanned expanse of his well defined chest and six pack.

“That was my only black shirt,” he growled, partly from annoyance but more from how hot that had been.

“I’ll buy you a new one...” she replied breathlessly as she reached for her own tailored shirt and hauled it up over her head, exposing the white satin demi cup bra.

Once her fabric clad breasts were exposed to his eyes, Tommy’s self control was gone; he flipped Kim backwards onto the console and attacked the button on her pants, pulling them and her panties down in record time before going for his own zipper. As soon as Tommy started on his own fly Kim reached behind her to find the clasp to her bra and popped it open, tossing the thing across the room.

Reaching one hand forward to grab Kim’s head for another hot, hungry and possessive kiss, Tommy felt Kim’s hands grasp his hips, her legs moving to wrap around his thighs and any further thought fled his mind as his other hand found her center, lined himself up and plunged inside her.

Kim’s head flew back at the sensation of being so intimately impaled and let loose a howl of pleasure even as Tommy roughly groaned as he started to plunge in and out of her...

~*~

Billy’s head jerked as the signal from Tommy’s basement command center started chiming at his workstation. He’d already gotten a report from Hayley that Tommy had been rescued and ended up with not just another power gem but had spirited out one of Hayley’s morphers and used it on himself, more than likely saving his sorry ass.

Why Tommy would be contacting him via the cave’s communication system now wasn’t clear, so Billy hit the button to open the line...

His jaw dropped as he saw technicolor Tommy and Kimberly having sex on the console, their moans and grunts filtering around him in stereo surround-sound.

He swiftly hit the disconnect button but the damage was done.

He was going to log off and go take a shower... a very long one as he mentally recited quantum acceleration calculations through his head to try and wipe the image and sound from his poor, assaulted mind...

God, it was never easy with those two...

~*~

“So essentially when we get rid of Mesogog and don’t need them...” Tommy started, even as his fingers ran along Kim’s bare side as they later lay in his bed after having relocated to his bedroom for another round of lovemaking as Kim explained just why the power sources in Reefside were so important.

“Yours and the kids’ gems will get added to the grid and Billy, Ninjor and Dulcea do their techno-magic thing and voila, we’re *all* back online,” she replied as she swatted his hand away even as she scooted closer to him.

“That’s...”

“Awesome? Amazing? Good news since you unfairly are getting another go at playing ranger while the rest of us aren’t?” she asked rapid fire with a smile as she watched his eyes widen at the implications.

“I didn’t exactly plan it,” he complained even as he eyed the soft skin between her shoulder and her neck and let his head lean closer towards it, his mouth and tongue already anticipating the flavor of the skin there.

“Says the man who had a morpher on him at the time...” she complained even as her head fell back as his mouth placed a languorous kiss along her throat.

Tommy didn’t reply and after he trailed his tongue after his lips along the column of her neck to her ear, nipping at it before his hands started moving to much less safe territory, Kim stopped talking too...

~*~

4 MONTHS LATER...

Billy applied heat to the delicate metal connections as Ninjor deftly supplied the thinnest stream of power into the building grid.  The many-colored gems shone from the network, the verdant emeralds, the shimmering fire opals, the five Dino gems, the blackened lava stone, all the colors of the rainbow and then some.

Billy wiped his forehead with a free forearm as he soldered the wiring nexus, which solidified and sparked under the pressure of the fire and the morphin energy.

Slowly, the lights settled into the system and the entire grid began to glow with a soft, steady light.

Billy shut off his torch and looked at Ninjor.  “I believe that it is ready.”

Ninjor, again without his helmet, bright blond hair falling over his face, nodded solemnly.

And then, without fanfare, without explosions, no sky-writing or megaphones, Ninjor rested a hand on the central gemstone - a fat star-sapphire known as the Star of India on Earth - and Billy heard the roar of the Wolf.

A moment later, Dulcea appeared in the room, not just a hologram, but the woman in the flesh, a flesh that was now clad in a green, fitted combat suit.  “It has been so long,” she sighed and then smiled, the expression lighting her face.

But Billy could barely hear her because he was listening to another voice and his fists, unknowingly clenched at his sides, were glowing blue.

“The power is now spread across the grid and to those who have touched the power may now access it,” said Ninjor as Dulcea nodded in agreement.

For Billy he knew what power he had tapped into, but for the others...

“Which powers?” he asked simply, his mind still filled with the call of the Wolf.

“Those that truly touched the spirit animals of the Ninjetti will always be Ninjetti. Thomas, Kimberly... all who first felt the power will have it now,” Dulcea explained in a wistful manner.

“And the others?”

“The original powers imparted from Zordon to those that only held them... the Zeo powers to the others...” added Ninjor, knowing that three of their agents would never know a power other than that which Zordon had bestowed upon them... and those who came much later in time to the power would be connected to that of the Zeo crystal.

Billy nodded, understanding where the divisions lay even as he raised his hands, spreading his fingers wide even as his smile spread as, for the first time in ages, he felt... powerful.

~*~

Tommy was finally free of the Dino gems and the unwanted titles.

The only titles he had now were “agent” and “Handsome”.  And he was more than content with that as he nibbled his way up Kim’s tender-skinned belly, eliciting gasps and giggles from the woman beneath him.

And he may have been Tommy “SwissCheeseBrain” Oliver but there was one thing he never intended to forget - how to make Kimberly call his name while her head tossed back sharply and her body shuddered, her hands digging into his hair.  He grinned against her collarbone and seriously considered growing his hair back out.

“Tommy,” Kim growled, one hand releasing his short, mussed locks to rake down his back, “stop teasing!”

“As you wish, Beautiful,” he conceded gruffly and slid between her thighs, silky-soft and warm, sinking inside her body with the same sense of homecoming she brought him every time.  As his mouth caught hers,  and she pulled him closer with a satisfied mewling, their eyes drifted shut.

Neither noticed the soft glow that filled the room that emanated from them; pink forming along her skin and pure white light suffusing his and where they met a brighter, purer light spread.

And if either heard a pair of birds calls in the distance, neither really noticed that either.

~*~

Rocky was staring out of the tiny, barred window, warbling a show tune.

By Adam’s count, they have now been this alien prison for thirty-four days, thirteen hours and five minutes local time.  And Rocky was still alive.  It was a miracle.

At the end of the first day, they were moved into the actual prison, so now they had what some may call beds and what Adam called torture devices.  The difference between the beds and the benches in the first room was that they were wider and they had something that should have been a mattress pad on top.  Should have been were the operating words.

As Adam was currently laying on one of these things, he could truthfully attest that the mattress pad was no such thing.  He could also attest that Rocky grew hideous facial hair, thick and bushy.  He looked like a young, Hispanic Santa.

Adam’s facial hair was of course much better, straight, and braided - after one terribly bizarre night and a game of Truth or Dare.  The ONE time he picked Dare...

Still, it gave him something to stroke as he contemplated how he would spend his time away from Rocky if they ever got back home.

Rocky paused in the middle of something from West Side Story and glanced at Adam.  “I’m really craving steak. Like really badly.”

Adam sighed and got up.  At least this room was bigger than the previous one so whenever Rocky started talking, Adam started katas.  Body moving fluidly, he destroyed his opponents, most of whom looked like Rocky.

“Like I could just kill for a steak,” Rocky mourned.

Adam stumbled as his vision spiked crimson.  “Have you learned *nothing* about thinking before speaking?” he demanded and then reached out to smack the other man upside the head.  Except that this time, what should have been a medium tap turned into a blow, tinged with black and green, and Rocky was launched upward.

Boom!

Rocky’s thrown up hands slammed into the ceiling, breaking the rock, sending dust spraying below, before he tumbled back to the floor, Adam watching with wide eyes.  Rocky’s fall, however, didn’t elicit any strange colors.  Instead, rather than Rocky, it was the Red Ninjetti Ranger who looked back at Adam from the ground.

Adam sat down.

Then he got up and firmly stated, “Black Ninjetti Ranger!”  He would have been astonished, but looking at Rocky’s helmeted head, it was to no surprise that familiar spandex appeared to surround his body and a distant sound of croaking frogs sang out somewhere far away.

Adam flexed his hands, feeling the power course through him, realizing just exactly this meant...

It was a whole new world, ladies and gentlemen.  

Hold onto your seats.


-END-