Disclaimer: I do not own Power Rangers or any other show. They belong to their respective copyright owners. No money is being made from this piece of writing.
Fangs of the Speed Hound
Angel Grove was the same as ever despite the threat of the Elemental Beasts that had yet to make an appearance. Following their failure to destroy the containment capsules, Aisha, Zack, Trini and Kimberly had agreed to return to Angel Grove full time.
Rita and Zedd had resumed their previous attacks and the Gem Coin Rangers along with their returning allies soon fell into a new pattern of longer periods of inaction followed by the occasional monster attack. In addition to Zedd and Rita's existing arsenal, Finster had manufactured a matter altering device and yet another means of recreating his previous monsters, this time using clay.
Mondo had also returned; the mechanical monarch, his aristocratic wife and spoilt son along with their two servants had taken to attacking immediately following an attack by Rita and Zedd. Their intention was obviously to capitalise on the Rangers' fatigue.
Mondo had ordered an automated cycle of attacks. This meant that the Rangers had to become even more adaptive as they fought not one, but two types of monster requiring different approaches; after a few near misses they had discovered that the hit hard and fast technique worked against Rita and Zedd's monsters but usually failed against Machine Empire efforts. Nobody had yet broached the subject that somewhere out there, Gasket was also lurking.
"Man, is it me or did it seem that Rita and Zedd put hardly any effort into that?" Tommy asked as he led the Rangers over to a quiet corner of the Youth Center.
"Definitely not the monsters I remember," Aisha seconded. The former Ranger had been watching the battle on a portable television.
"What'll it be guys?" Emily asked.
Since closing down his beach club, Ernie had given Emily a job at the Juice Bar for the winter months.
"Five smoothies please," Tommy answered after an unspoken conversation with his friends.
"And I'll have one of Ernie's Mega Salad sandwiches," Rocky added.
The others laughed. Rocky did not overeat and actually maintained a well-balanced diet. However, his metabolism like those of the other Rangers was slightly higher than most teenagers. Of course the metabolism of a normal teenager was naturally high anyway. With all the activity he packed into his day it was only natural that he felt hungry. Of course it was the fact that he often chose to eat at the Youth Center that led to some people thinking of him as a human mouth with a bottomless stomach.
"So where are you staying?" he asked Aisha.
Once the excitement of returning to America had calmed down, the Rangers had been faced with more practical problems. Aisha had flown home early, under the pretence of reporting to the University on their success. In fact their sponsor was Zordon who had managed to rig events so the sponsorship ended up with the Campbell family and had been given educational backing from the facility. That meant that upon reporting Aisha would attain the credits she needed for higher education and a spot at a university of her choice.
When she had first arrived, Aisha had been satisfied to stay at the Angel Grove. But she realised that in the long run, her parents would need a home where the whole family could live.
"I'm going to stay at my parents' old house in Stone Canyon," she answered. "Maybe I can enrol at the high school again."
The others nodded. It did make some sense. Kimberly had chosen to return to Angel Grove, but had accepted a placement under the tutelage of a local coach. It meant while she was often around, she didn't have as much time to spend with her friends.
Trini and Zack had surprised the others when they had returned to the United States, but not Angel Grove. Technically they were still part of the Peace Conference and while no longer representatives, they had agreed at the last minute to finish their education. That meant both of them had undertaken individual research until the end of the school year. Both had touched base briefly in Angel Grove before starting their project work. It was fitting in some way that they had chosen to study provisions for youth in small towns and cities within the United States. Zack had chosen Newtech City and Trini had selected Blue Bay Harbour. Later they would combine their research and combine notes before moving onto the next area.
"How does that work anyway?" Rocky asked, referring to the switch over between Aisha and Tanya. "I thought the Zeo fragments were found in the past."
"Actually Tanya's from our time," Tommy told him. "Or at least that's what Billy told me. The Orb of Doom just screwed things up so much that time twisted itself into knots around that one event. Ten years became six months, weeks became minutes. Even now I doubt things are totally back to normal, it still seems as if time is moving at it normal pace but the days are passing at a slower rate.
Anyway, when Vile used the orb, he literally ended everything. I doubt he cared since they were outside of the disturbance he could use it to recreate things according to their tastes. But Earth is a resilient planet and reality is just too stubborn to end and start anew. Instead the orb's power was perverted and could only change the Earth to look as it did several years before. I think Billy said due to the Earth's volatile state in relation to time, such an action resulted in a pseudo-timeline in which Tanya and Aisha changed places."
"When we united the Zeo Crystal, it cancelled out the effects and time restored itself as best it could. In short: that whole period is one big mess. Technically we were in the past, but since Zordon had realised the Zeo Crystal would not be destroyed and had locked onto the location of each fragment, we were able to retrieve our crystals from the present." Adam paused as Rocky realised where he was going.
"Except for mine, which caused a volcano to erupt and had to be retrieved just after it arrived."
"Right," Aisha agreed. "So the quests took place in the present, several years earlier than the real year. When I switched places with Tanya, my parents never moved to Angel Grove with Adam and Rocky, but agreed to spend time in Kenya with Ashala's tribe. We never sold the house because we always thought that once their contract was over, that we would return to Stone Canyon."
"That's why Tanya was so well adjusted to life in Angel Grove," Kat suggested.
Aisha nodded. "And of course if I had been trapped in the past I could never have sent Tanya any mail."
"Great," Rocky smiled. "Now I have just one more question: who were those weird Ninja Rangers who took over while we were children? I thought they were aliens, but Zordon said they were from Earth."
"I guess that's something we'll never know. Hey, why don't we help you move your stuff in?" Tommy asked. "I bet the place needs some cleaning."
"Thanks, you guys," Aisha answered.
"So, those goody two shoes are trying to make their friend feel at home are they?" Rita cackled as she looked through her Repulsa-scope.
"I don't know Sis, are they?" Rito asked, oblivious to his sister's glare.
"Quiet Bonehead, I need to think."
Rita knew that her recent monsters were not up to the standard the Rangers expected. It had been a deliberate move on her part to give the impression that she and Zedd were just not up to par. In fact, while she was sending down a stream of pointless monsters, Zedd was working on a new scheme. He hadn't told her what it was, except to mention it would be good. ~For his sake it had better be.~
She looked down at the varying monsters Finster had made for her, each sharing the characteristic that she had rejected them in the past. If nothing else this was a good chance to prove that her opinion about some of Finster's monsters was indeed correct.
"Aha!" she almost shouted in delight. "This one will be perfect."
"The Sp-- eed Hou-- nd," Rito read over her shoulder.
"Just what we need around here, another stray mutt," Goldar mumbled.
"Quiet Monkey Boy," Rita warned. "Oh Finster!"
In his workshop Finster looked up and through some unknown means seemed to see the monster she wanted. He muttered some sort of acknowledgement and started his work. The Speed Hound was a monster he had never created before because Rita had rejected the plan outright. So, as he didn't have a model ready, he decided to give Rita a surprise. Throwing the clay he was holding back into the storage jar he made his way to another box marked: Super Putty.
The Speed Hound was actually a rehashed idea Finster had dreamt up one morning after too much of Rita's yelling. He had taken a creature known as the Hell Hound and had given it a pair of clay sneakers. Then he had simply altered the shape so it appeared humanoid, ignoring the impossibility of it standing for long. In short the monster had been worthy of Rita's contempt, but now she wanted it Finster knew he would need to include some improvements.
He altered the design slightly, changing the monster from a dog that resembled a human to a werewolf. He paused to consider the possibility of capturing a real werewolf to do the job, but decided he didn't want to involve himself with humans.
"He's ready, my Empress," Finster grovelled when he had finished. "I've made him extra quick to catch those kids."
Rita looked the monster over critically. She had to admit it looked mean as it sniffed the air and growled at her. Goldar remained in the corner, well aware that this monster like so many others was probably doomed to failure. Why Zedd allowed this level of incompetence to continue, was beyond him. But there again, he hadn't seen his Emperor since Rita had commenced her activities.
"I shall take some Putties and soften them up for you Empress," he said, as he grew tired of sitting still. Maybe if he were lucky he could capture a Ranger or two and earn favour with Zedd.
Rita gave a grunt that he took for her assent and in a burst of flames he left for the planet below.
Having opened all the doors and windows, the Rangers had dusted the house from top to bottom. During the Campbells' absence a neighbour had maintained the lawns, but there were still areas of the garden that needed tending. By the time they had finished they were hungry and had agreed to find the local shops and buy some food.
They were walking back to the house when Goldar and his group of Putties confronted them. The five teens quickly assumed their fighting stances and the fight was on.
"Split up!" Tommy instructed.
Stone Canyon was still quiet after the monster attack that had occurred days earlier. Many residents were still cautious and luckily the streets were abandoned. They were close to a small building site and although they knew it was dangerous to enter, decided it would be worth it if they could fight the Putties without being seen.
"Come and fight me, Tommy," Goldar challenged as Aisha, Kat, Rocky and Adam faced off against the Putties. Tommy did so and the two exchanged blows. Goldar knocked him to the ground and laughed. "You cannot morph here, Red Ranger. And without your powers, you're nothing!"
"Goldar, you talk too much," Tommy panted. He had found a shovel near a pile of cement and brandished it as a club.
The two warriors continued to fight as they had done many times before. Their battle was personal, a matter of pride on Goldar's part and survival on Tommy's. As Goldar moved to slash Tommy with his sword, Zeo Falcon rolled to his left and jammed the handle of his weapon into the back of Goldar's knee. Growling in surprise Goldar bent over to attack his opponent, at which point Tommy smashed the titan in the face with the shovel. He laughed as Goldar fell on his back.
Katherine led some of the Putties over to a set of large pipes and crawled through. The Putties followed her but were soon stuck inside the pipe while Kat with her smaller body managed to slither free. Adam meanwhile made his way to a layer of freshly poured cement. He waited for the Putties to charge and then ducked, allowing them to fall face-first into the quick drying mixture.
"Rocky, look out!" Aisha warned.
Unmorphed, Zeo Ape still had been busy enjoying himself and had failed to notice when the Putties crept up behind him. Even so, his training in Ninja competitions and his time as a Ranger meant he had learnt how to dodge and that was the technique that came in especially useful. He allowed the Putties to over balance in the various bricks and sand they were lying around. Then when he was certain he was ready he exploded at them with a series of vicious kicks.
Aisha had been too busy fighting her own Putties to pay too much attention to Rocky and Adam. There had been a time when the three of them would fight together and back each other up. Those days were sadly behind them, the edge they had developed through years of friendship and their time as Rangers had diminished while they had been split up. The only cure was practice and time, neither of which they had in abundance. So instead they had to rely on themselves.
Although she worried about her friends, she had faith in their abilities, just as they had faith in her skills. During her time in Kenya her skills had not lost their edge; if anything, the change in practice partners had improved her skills. Some of the other aid workers were from families with strong traditions of Karate. They had travelled from Japan to help and were eager to have someone to spar with. A few throws and a lot of kicks later and she was clear and ready to help her friends.
All the while Tommy was fighting Goldar, a fight in which the winged monkey had a clear advantage despite Tommy's initial advantage. Even as Tommy was thrown to the ground yet again he realised that the best he could hope to do unmorphed against Goldar was survive. In previous encounters he had triumphed, but that had been with surprise on his side. This time he did not enjoy that small advantage.
As he fought, he allowed himself an occasional glance at his friends, just to see how they were managing. He was pleased when they finished off the Putties and ran towards him to help. At least five on one they stood a chance of landing a lucky punch or kick.
"Enough of this," Goldar growled suddenly. "Retreat!"
In a burst of flame Goldar vanished, leaving his companions behind. The Putties had already disintegrated.
"Check around," Tommy hissed.
Adam and Rocky moved to the entrance to the site while Aisha and Kat checked the equipment sheds. Tommy scanned the area, knowing that when Goldar retreated a monster would normally appear as a replacement. He raised his communicator to contact Zordon and was thankful that they had found a way to boost the signal so that it could no longer be blocked by magic.
"What is it Tommy?" Zordon asked.
"Zordon, we were just attacked by Goldar and Putties," Tommy told him.
"You must be on your guard Rangers," Zordon said. "If Rita has sent Goldar and her foot-soldiers, she is probably planning to send down a monster of some sort. Teleport to the Power Chamber immediately."
"Right Zordon, we're on our way," Tommy said. He made eye contact with each of the others and somehow they knew what he was thinking. They silently made their way to his side and together they teleported away.
When the Rangers arrived, Rocky, Tommy, Tanya and Katherine moved to look at the Viewing Globe while Adam walked over to where Alpha was studying a computer printout.
"Rangers," Zordon said after what seemed an eternity. "Rita has sent Speed Hound to Earth. You must go and face him."
"Ai-yi-yi, Speed Hound is attacking some joggers in the park," Alpha said.
"Time for action," Tommy decided. "It's Morphin Time!"
"Zeo Ranger I - Crane!"
"Zeo Ranger III - Ape!"
"Zeo Ranger IV - Frog!"
"Zeo Ranger V - Falcon!"
Aisha closed her eyes and concentrated on forming the connection between herself and her powers. "Stegosaurus!" she called as she was once again energised with a fragment of the power of a the two Power Coins that Alpha and Billy had jury rigged as a power source.
"Power Rangers!" they called.
The skeletal dog attacked, scratching with his claws and attempting to bite the Rangers with his fangs. For the first part of the fight they held him at bay, but the monster had a few surprises in store for the Rangers.
"Grrr try my flea attack to grrrret you jumping!"
The Rangers sparked as they were assaulted by millions of fleabites.
"That wasn't funny!" Zeo Falcon snapped.
Zeo Ape whipped out his Gem Coin Pistol and fired, but Speed Hound was too quick to be hit. He darted left and right before pouncing on the Zeo Ape, drool running from his mouth. His teeth bit into the Rocky's arm, making him squirm in pain.
The Ranger powers made use of an extremely dense fibre surrounded by an energy field and sustained by the internal energy grid of the Ranger's morpher. The suits were intended to absorb energy blasts and physical assault. They could by penetrated though if struck by a small projectile or extremely sharp blade. The energy field could regenerate the suit in the event of any damage just as the Ranger's healing would take care of his wounds.
However, the small breach in Rocky's suit caused by the Speed Hound's surprising strong teeth, had allowed it to infect the Zeo Ape with a spell. Animal instinct replaced rational thought as slowly he was transformed from Rocky into the Speed Hound's pet.
Aisha attacked and knocked the monster away from her comrade. Her hands blurred as they jabbed toward the beast.
"Grrr help me grrr Rockyy!" Speed Hound ordered.
Aisha turned to see Zeo Ape snarling at them. His helmet had disappeared either because Rocky had removed it or because the spell had changed his helmet into a snarling head.
"He must be under a spell," Zeo Frog said.
Before the others could reply, Speed Hound and his pup attacked. The ferocious Gem Coin Ranger jumped at Aisha and bit her. Now the odds were three on three.
"We have to get back to the Power Chamber," Tommy said. "Alpha..."
"Teleporting now Rangers," Alpha said.
The five Rangers were teleported away; three would arrive in the Command Center while the other two were placed in a containment field.
"Alpha, can you help them?" Kat asked.
"We will do our best," Zordon answered.
The Rangers were silent while Zordon and Alpha worked. Each was wondering what they could have done differently. Tommy especially felt guilty for the fate of his friends. If he had noticed the threat or somehow stopped them, they wouldn't be in this situation.
Eventually though Tommy was snapped out of his thoughts when he heard Alpha cry out in alarm.
"The only way to safely restore them is to destroy Speed Hound's collar," the robot said.
"You will need to work as a team and then destroy the collar with your Zeo Pistols," Zordon said. "I have contacted Tanya and once Rocky is restored you can use the Zeo Power Blaster to finish him."
When the three Rangers returned to the park, Speed Hound was still running around. He skilfully avoided their attacks, using his stealth and his speed to attack as often as possible.
Red Ranger caught onto his teammate's idea, as did Pink Ranger. Red fired one weapon, while Pink waited for Speed Hound to move. He did, dodging to the right where Pink intercepted him with her weapon. Tommy then shifted to stop the skeleton from moving the other way as Adam leapt in close and struck the beast with his own weapon.
Tommy dropped to one knee and took careful aim. He could hear a voice telling him that he should not even try this shot, but he ignored is and squeezed the trigger. He fired three shots, the third shot released the collar and Katherine fired her weapon to destroy it. Speed Hound howled with rage.
In the Command Center the two released Rangers picked themselves up and after assessing the situation on the Viewing Globe were once again ready for action.
"Zeo Ranger IV - Ape!" Rocky cried.
Aisha moved over next to Alpha so she could watch the battle unfold.
"You're going down, Speed Hound!" Red Ranger called.
A pair of blaster bolts nailed the monster as Blue Ranger arrived.
"Let's do it!" Green Ranger called.
"Right!" the other Rangers responded. They touched their weapons together, merging the energy.
"Fire!" they called.
"Uh Sis," Rito restarted.
"I know you Ninny!" Rita cried. "Magic wand, make my monster grow!"
The wand struck the ground as the Rangers' weapon fired. As the monster grew the blast went wide and dispersed.
"Zordon, we need the Defender Zords, now!" Tommy called.
The Zords were soon on their way and the Rangers assembled the Megazord. After a swift battle they called on the Power Sword and finished the monster.
End of Part