Disclaimer: The Power Rangers aren't mine, they belong to Saban. The Real Ghostbusters belong to somebody else as well, but I can't quite remember who at this point. The descriptions of the characters's physical attributes are based on the Real Ghostbusters, the cartoon based on the movie. For those readers who have never seen the cartoon show, 1. you're deprived, and 2. you may be a little confused at the character descriptions. They don't look exactly like they do in the movies. Thanks to all those Ghostbusters sites out there on the net for information used in this story. You know who you are. This story is not mine either. It was originally written by Ellen Brand for her Personality Conflicts series, and has been modified to fit into the COE universe. I would like to thank Ellen once again for allowing me to do this sort of thing.
Who You Gonna Call?
It had not been a good day for Dr Peter Venkman. The psychologist-turned-paranormal exterminator had started the day on a six AM bust, chasing down a pair of poltergeists that had a love of pitching ectoplasm. As usual, Peter had received the brunt of the slime, while the other Ghostbusters had escaped unscathed. Then, upon returning to headquarters, Peter had been slimed again, this time by the firehouse's resident ghost, Slimer. After finally removing the last of the ectoplasm from his person, he had come to the gym to work out and shoot a few hoops. That's when he had run into his latest problem.
Four very big, very mean-looking guys, each of whom could break me in half without a problem, Peter thought wryly, running a hand through his dark hair. "Look, guys, last I checked this was an open court. You can't hog it all day."
"We do what we want, mister," one of the gorillas said, eyeing him. "If you've got a problem with that, we'd be happy to discuss it."
"How old are you guys? You can't be more than seventeen. Come on, let the kids play. It wasn't that long ago you were that age yourself." Over on the sidelines, several children, all approximately twelve to fourteen years old, watched the by-play with interest.
"Nobody tells us what to do," growled another of the boys. "Least of all some old shrimp like you."
"Old?" Peter echoed, offended. "I'm only thirty-nine! Listen, I'll make you boys a bet. A little basketball, me against you. If I win, you clear off the court. If you win, I'm gone, no problem. Unless you're afraid to play an old guy like me."
The bullies laughed. "Four of us against you? You've got to be kidding! Four against one?"
"Four against two," a voice said behind Peter. The psychologist turned to see a young man, about the same age as his opponents. His hair and eyes were black, and his skin was almost the same colour. Also, he wore a black T-shirt which showcased a rather impressive, if lean, musculature.
"You goons against me and him," the newcomer continued, moving onto the court. "What do you say?"
The bullies regarded each other for a long moment. "I'd say you're on!"
"Thanks for the back-up," Peter said quietly, while the four boys began to warm up. "I'm Peter Venkman, by the way."
The young man took Peter's offered hand and shook it firmly. "Zack Taylor. Nice to meet you, Mr Venkman."
"Dr Venkman, actually, but please, call me Peter. Everybody does- well, almost everybody," he amended, thinking of the Ghostbusters' secretary, Janine.
"Okay, Peter. You good at basketball?"
"Sort of," Peter grimaced. "I used to coach, a while ago. You?"
"Played a lot back home. The important part will be working as a team."
The two men stretched out, then headed out to the centre of the court for the face off. The jump ball was thrown, and the game began. It was rather one-sided, of course. Between Zack's quickness and Peter's experience, the four muscle-bound gorillas never stood a chance. The pair quickly outdid their opponents, making it to ten points before the others could blink.
"Thank you, gentlemen," Peter grinned. "The door is that way." Knowing they were beaten, the goons left, their eyes on the ground. "Come on in, kids," Peter called, tossing the ball towards the watching children. "The court's all yours."
As the children ran onto the court, Peter and Zack moved off to the sidelines, sitting on one of the benches the gym provided. "So, what brings you to the gym?" Peter asked casually, sipping from his water bottle.
"I signed up to play in the charity game at the Boys' and Girls' Club, and I wanted to get a little practicing in before I met the team," Zack replied. "You?"
"Same, actually. I haven't really played a lot recently, and I thought I ought to get back into shape. You said you played a lot back home. Where is that?"
Zack chuckled. "Angel Grove, California. A long ways away."
"Here for college?"
"Yeah, I'm a freshman, majoring in Communications at Columbia University."
Peter smiled. "I used to work at Columbia, before I went into the private sector. That was a long time ago, though."
Zack looked at him for a moment. "Dr Peter Venkman. Hey, you're a Ghostbuster, right? I've seen you on the news all the time."
"Ah, fame. It's nice, but it can get a little annoying."
"You won't get an argument out of me," Zack replied, a secretive smile on his face. After all, he thought, I've had to dodge reporters for a large part of the last four years. I know what a hassle fame can be. Looking down at his watch, his eyes widened. "Oh, man! I'd better get back to the college before I'm late! Bye, Peter! See you at the first group practice!" Leaping to his feet, Zack ran out of the gym. Peter watched him go, then headed for the showers.
As he walked out of the gym building, a voice behind him caught his attention. "Peter! Over here!" He turned to see his three best friends in the world waving at him from where their car was parked by the curb.
"Hey, guys, what's up?" Peter asked, crossing towards them.
"Well, we thought we'd come and get you, and we could all go out to dinner, maybe that little Chinese place you like," Ray explained earnestly. "Earnest" was the best word in existence to describe Ray Stantz. Although the occultist was only a year younger than Peter, he still seemed like an eternal child. Ray could dredge up enthusiasm for a bust at two in the morning, in the pouring rain. His auburn hair was constantly slightly disordered, his brown eyes were usually wide, and he habitually had a huge smile on his face. Today was no exception.
"So what took you so long, Pete?" Winston Zeddemore asked. The oldest of the Ghostbusting team, Winston was now almost fifty, grey beginning to show in his black hair, but still in great shape. The older man was the sensible, practical one of the group, usually hauling the other three back when they got too into their work. "Usually you're out by now. We had to wait almost twenty minutes. Ray wanted to go in and look for you."
"Oh, I ran into a little trouble on the basketball court," Peter replied dismissively. "Luckily, I got a little help from a new freshman friend of mine. You'll never guess where he's going. Columbia!"
"Columbia?" echoed Egon Spengler, the fourth member of the group, blue eyes twinkling. "Did you tell him about how you got the three of us thrown out of that hallowed institution of higher learning?" The tall, lanky, blond physicist had a dry, deadpan sense of humour that contrasted well with Ray's enthusiasm and Peter's constant joking. Usually he was the straight man for the three, who had known each other since their days as college students.
"Egon, you wound me," Peter replied easily, heading for the car. "Come on, let's go eat. If I have to spend another night protecting my dinner from Slimer, I'm going to blast the Spud myself." Laughing, the four men climbed into the car and drove off.
Back in his dorm room after his latest class, lying on his bed, Zack thought about his day, grinning to himself. "A Ghostbuster, huh? Boy, I've sure met a lot of interesting people since I came here," he remarked to no one in particular. He liked Columbia, and New York City, a great deal. He hadn't been bored since he started, although he was careful to spend a reasonable amount of time studying. Still, he had made a lot of new friends, and was truly enjoying the experience.
Sighing, he turned on his side. New York was great, but it wasn't Angel Grove. Truth be told, sometimes he missed his friends awfully. They all kept in touch, via letter as well as communicator, but it wasn't the same as seeing them every day. We're scattered to the four winds, he thought sadly. I wonder if we'll ever be together again.
His friends weren't the only things he missed, if he wanted to be honest with himself. He also missed the thrill of being a superhero. No aliens threatened New York, and the Turbo Rangers were doing an excellent job of defending Angel Grove. Still, he couldn't help but wish he was back in the action, fighting along side his friends.
He had felt this longing before, while he was attending the Peace Conference in Switzerland. At first, he had been all for it, barely even missing his Ranger powers as he made a difference, little by little, in the world at large. He had enjoyed the mild fame that came with being a delegate, enjoyed travelling, seeing new things, and meeting new people. The thrill had palled after a while, however. Jason had felt it first, of course. Zack had been sceptical of Jason's joining the conference in the first place. His long-time friend had always been a man of action, a fighter, not a talker. Not that Jason wasn't in favour of peace. In all the time Zack had known him, Jason had never started a fight, and never gone into one without first doing everything in his power to avoid it. Still, he wasn't happy in an atmosphere where everything was talk, no action. Zack had not been at all surprised when Jason left the conference.
He had been a little more startled when he had begun feeling the same longing in himself. He had always thought of himself as the happy-go-lucky one, the Rangers' comedy relief. It had always been his job to break the tension when it rose too high. Eventually, he realized that his problem was that he felt useless at the conference. After seeing monsters destroyed, watching the people as they realized they'd been saved, and knowing that he'd succeeded in his mission, he wasn't able to be satisfied with talking about a peace that never seemed to get anywhere, and no one seemed to appreciate.
Towards the end, right before they had left to return to Angel Grove, Zack had sighted the first stages of the feeling in Trini as well. She had always been so patient, but it was becoming obvious that their work at the conference had proceeded as far as it could. Trini had been the one to make him see the conference's real value, though. She had told him that if young adults, the best and the brightest from all over the world, could learn to put aside their differences and work together, then when these best and the brightest were controlling the countries of the world, there might be less misunderstanding and conflict. Zack understood, he thought, but even Trini had to admit that their presence was no longer making a difference to the assembly. If Minion had not caused them to do so, they probably would have been returning home soon anyway.
Sighing, Zack looked at the pictures beside his bed. He'd only been able to take three pictures with him to college, due to space restrictions, so he'd been very careful on his choices. One was of course of his girlfriend, Angela. He didn't know if their relationship would survive their separation, but he still cared about her very much, and they wrote to each other often.
The second picture was of him and seven other teens. Zack sighed again. The eight of them were the Morphin Rangers of Earth, fully empowered by the various aspects of the Morphin Grid to act as Earth's last line of defence against the evil aliens who threatened it. Five of them had been together since the day Zordon had recruited them to serve as Power Rangers. The three later, yet equally welcome additions had come along when they had been asked to protect the Earth again. These people had become almost an extended family to him, closer than anything he'd ever known. He missed them incredibly.
The final picture was a group shot, taken just before they'd all left for college. They were all there, all the people who were part of or had in some way become a part of their little group, all crammed together and grinning at the enormous panoramic camera. The group was loosely arranged with Justin and the other Turbo Rangers at the very front. Everybody looked rather uncomfortable at the crowding, but happy. Most of them were goofing off for the camera, and Zack was powerfully reminded of how much he missed them all.
Rolling onto his back once more, he stared at the ceiling. Only 'til Thanksgiving, he thought to himself. When break comes, I'll see them again.
"Taylor! Downcourt to Sanders!" The coach cried, clapping her hands together. "Come on, guys, let's see some hustle!" Zack's team for the charity basketball game, the Lions, had been practicing together for while now, and Zack was quickly emerging as the star of the team. Not only could he shoot, dribble, and guard like a pro, but he was extremely good at getting the ball to the other members of his team.
Peter was also one of the team's better players. Although a bit older than most of the other players on the court, he was in excellent shape, mainly from lugging around a heavy proton pack for hours at a time. Also, he had developed an unusual agility from dodging slime, which came in handy against younger players.
"All right, guys, great game," Coach Matthews congratulated them. "I'll see you all back here same time Friday, right?" She was greeted with a chorus of somewhat weary affirmations. "Great! Hit the showers." The players went off to the various locker rooms to clean up and change. As Zack was heading out of the building, Peter caught up with him.
"Hey, where you headed?" Peter asked, falling into step with the younger man.
"The museum. I've got a job there doing grunt work in the archaeology department. I file stuff, type stuff, make coffee, that sort of thing. Money's useful when you're a college student."
Peter nodded. "Ah, yes. I remember the condition. Mind if I walk with you? I've got to catch a bus in that direction anyway."
Shrugging, Zack replied, "Sure, why not?" The two men walked in silence for a little while, then Peter broke it.
"You were pretty impressive out there on the court today. You seem to know exactly how to work with a team."
Zack chuckled, seemingly at some private joke. "I played basketball with my friends a lot," he replied. Although that's not where my teamwork skills come from.
Peter seemed about to reply when a siren startled them both. They turned to see Ecto-1, the Ghostbusters' reply vehicle, actually a hearse painted like a police car, pulling up next to them. Sticking his head out of the passenger's side window, Ray beckoned frantically.
"Peter, come on! We've got a call at the museum, and they want us there pronto!"
Peter groaned. "Ray, I just took a shower. I have been playing basketball for three straight hours. I'm tired, I'm sore, I'm hungry, and the last thing I want to do is tangle with some purple gooper that thinks I'm its lunch!"
"It's not a gooper, Peter. The museum's come up with some artefact, and it's driving the archaeology department nuts. It's some sort of crystal, and every time someone comes near it, it flashes in these colours. They have no idea what it is, so they called us."
Peter, interested despite himself, looked back at Zack. "Want a ride? You'll be crammed in between Egon and me, but there should be room."
Zack shrugged. "Why not? We're headed in the same direction, after all."
Once in the car, Peter attempted to slip into his jumpsuit and boots without elbowing Zack more than absolutely necessary. "So, Ray, what exactly is this crystal you're talking about?" Peter asked with a long-suffering air.
"They're not sure. The doctor described it as a regular octahedron, shaped like two four-sided pyramids placed base to base. It's clear quartz, but there seem to be coins of some golden-bronze metal embedded in each side. It's supported by four posts on a square base of the same metal."
"Anything on the coins? Sorry, Zack." Peter removed his elbow from the younger man's eye and zipped up the suit.
"Yeah, animal symbols," Ray replied. "The doctor can't identify them, though."
"And there's nothing in Tobin's Spirit Guide, or any of the other material we have on hand," Egon interrupted, speaking for the first time since Zack had gotten in the car.
"Any theories, you boy geniuses?" Despite the teasing tone of Peter's words, it was obvious that he had a lot of confidence in Ray and Egon's abilities. It reminded Zack of the way Tommy and Jason sometimes talked to Billy. Occasionally they teased him, but they always knew he'd be there for them in an emergency. It was rarely acknowledged, but it was always there.
"Sure, Peter, we've got theories," Ray responded. "It could be cursed, or maybe just some sort of psychic amplifier. Who knows, maybe it's some sort of beacon for sending out a signal into the unknown."
"Or maybe it's just a paranormal nightlight," Peter responded, his jade eyes sparkling with mischief. He knew it would get a rise out of Ray, and perhaps Egon, and he enjoyed needling them both occasionally. However, before either of them could rise to the bait, Winston interrupted them.
"We're here," he chuckled, throwing the car into park. The four men strapped on their packs and headed into the building, Zack following behind. Soon, the five of them reached the archaeology department, where most of the staff was clustered in one corner of the room, regarding the crystal at the other end with deep suspicion.
"Dr Markov?" Zack called. "I'm here to help with the filing."
An attractive woman in her mid-thirties, blond hair pulled back in a sensible bun, crossed towards him. "Thank you, Zack, but I'm afraid that we won't have much for you to do. Since this thing started acting up, the whole department's shut down."
"Dr Elsa Markov?" Egon asked, moving to the front of the group. "I'm Egon Spengler. I read your latest dissertation on Babylonian shrines, and I found it most interesting."
"Thank you, Doctor Spengler," she replied, shaking his hand. "I only hope you can help us with our current problem."
"We'll do our best," Ray informed her. "Now, we need to ask you a few questions." As the Ghostbusters talked to Dr Markov, Zack tuned them out, wandering over to examine the crystal. As he approached, it flared an impressive black, causing him to furrow his brow.
"Hey, watch it!" Peter cried, hauling Zack back. "You have no idea what that thing is capable of!"
"If it was going to toast people for looking at it, it would have done it by now," Zack retorted, shaking off the older man's hand. He returned to examining the crystal, which still glowed black. Careful not to touch it, he looked at the designs on the coins, and barely stifled a groan. The eight coins bore eight symbols, six of which were extremely familiar to Zack. "Tyrannosaurus, Sabre-Toothed Tiger, Triceratops, Pterodactyl, and Mastodon," he mumbled to himself, identifying each animal in turn. The sixth was the fleur-de-lis which symbolized the Dragon. "These two must be Drago and Stegasaurus."
"That's what they look like to me," Dr Markov agreed, startling him. "The crystal doesn't seem to react to my approach, so I was able to get a good look at them while we waited for you."
Zack shook his head in wonder. He came all the way across the country for college, and he ran into a crystal that was obviously related in some way to the Morphin power. That's why it had flashed black at his approach, but he couldn't understand why it would flash at the proximity of civilians.
"Hmm," Egon mused. Adjusting his PKE meter, he stepped closer to the crystal, and was startled as it flashed with a bright blue light. "Interesting. The PKE spiked just as I approached. Ray, would you come over here, please?" When Ray stepped toward the crystal, it flashed again, this time with a white light. The experiment was repeated with the other two Ghostbusters, and both times the crystal flashed a different colour. Peter's approach drew a green light from the stone, while Winston evoked a pink flash.
"Pink?" the older man asked, his tone a mixture of astonishment and distaste. "Pink?" For his part, Zack could barely keep from laughing. He had finally figured out what the colours in the crystal meant. They weren't an indicator of the power an individual held, but rather the type of personality, where they would fit on the grid. Peter had talked about the other Ghostbusters enough that Zack felt he could analyse them slightly. Egon, cool and scientific, was definitely a Blue. Ray was more intuitive, mystical, a perfect White. Winston, practical, down-to-earth, and somewhat protective, was a Pink, even though the colour was usually associated with females. As for Peter, well, Zack had been around Tommy and Samoht for that matter long enough to recognize that the psychologist's cocky, self-assured behaviour was a front for a man who was a bit of a loner, someone who had been through a good deal of pain. In short, Peter was a Green, through and through. Excusing himself, Zack left the museum quickly. He wasn't going to get any work done that evening, and he most assuredly needed to contact Zordon about this.
Back at the firehouse, Winston was making dinner and trying to shoo Slimer away from the food, while Egon and Ray debated their findings on the crystal, and Peter relaxed on the couch, listening to them. "Interestingly enough, I found that when the crystal flashed, the PKE spiked, but with a strange resonance pattern," the physicist said. "These resonance patterns were always the same for any certain colour and only that colour."
"Like light," Peter mused from the couch. "Every colour has a different wavelength." He looked up to see the other two regarding him in astonishment. "Hey, I paid attention in high school physics," he said defensively. "It was Government where I sat behind Mary Lou Mason." Ray and Egon just sighed.
"So what do you think the different colours represent?" Ray asked, looking over the notes. "The same person always produced the same colour, and there only seemed to be eight colours. They didn't even go with the spectrum, because the crystal produced black, white, and pink, but no orange or indigo."
"How do you tell indigo from blue or purple anyway?" Peter demanded. The two men sitting at the table ignored him.
"I have no idea what the colours might represent," admitted Egon. "However, the people that it reacted to were surrounded with higher-than-usual levels of PKE. Perhaps that has something to do with it."
"You all can discuss this later," Winston broke in, bringing a bowl out of the kitchen. "Dinner is served."
"So what is that thing, Zordon?" Zack asked. He was alone in his dorm room once again, as his roommate was more interested in partying as much as possible. That was just fine with him, especially now, when he needed the privacy to talk into his communicator.
"It is a Detection Crystal, one of three used by Grid Masters to identify those with the potential to wield the Power. The Dinosaur Crystal, which it would appear has shown up at the museum, to detect those strong enough to handle the powers and provide them with limited access to the Morphin Grid. The one crystal in and of itself is harmless, however when used alongside the Thunder and Ninja Crystals, it could provide those holding it with power equal to or perhaps greater than tat of a Power Ranger. Prolonged exposure could lead the holder to become incredibly powerful. If just the one Crystal has been found, there is no danger. However, if the other two Crystals should turn up, you must be prepared to guard them, and perhaps bring them back here, or even destroy them if necessary."
"Right, Zordon. Zack out." Zack cut off the communication, falling back on the bed. "Well," he sighed aloud, "I missed the action of being a Ranger. Reminds me of the old saying. 'Be careful what you wish for.'"
A few days passed without major problems. Egon and Ray spent a great deal of time in the museum's archaeology department, but other than their constant presence, things slowly returned to normal. Then, while Zack was doing some filing, Dr Markov received a call. "Yes? You have?" she asked, sitting up very straight. "Exactly like the one we have? Well, what symbols are on the coins? Really. That's interesting. No, send it over, please. We'll have the Ghostbusters take a look at it. Thanks. Goodbye." Hanging up the phone, she turned to Zack, who was currently the only other person in the office.
"It's incredible, Zack! An estate sale just turned up a Crystal like the one we have, except the symbols on the coins are different! Apparently, one's a tiger, and there seems to be a unicorn on one of the others. A courier is bringing it over immediately. I'm going to call the Ghostbusters, so I suppose you're done for the evening. Why don't you pack it in, and you'll be paid for the full time, of course."
"Thanks, Dr Markov," he replied. As she turned back towards the phone, he grimaced. The new Crystal had to be the Thunder Crystal. It was an awfully big coincidence, the second Crystal showing up now, and so close to the first. Zack didn't like coincidences. They usually resulted in his nearly getting killed.
"I don't like coincidences, Egon," Peter complained as Ecto-1 pulled up to the museum once again. "They usually mean bad things for us, remember? Remember those haunted girders? Every time we think we've got a coincidence, something very bad happens."
"You worry too much, Pete," Winston grinned.
"Yeah," seconded Ray. "What's the worst that can happen?" The four men walked into the room where the Crystals were being displayed and stopped, speechless. Finally, Ray managed to sum up the reactions of all four of them. "Wow," the occultist breathed. The two crystals, side by side, were flickering and pulsating, energy jumping between them.
"Maybe putting these things together wasn't such a good idea," Peter gulped, for once completely serious. None of the others contradicted him. Egon quickly pulled a PKE meter out of one pocket and began scanning the Crystals intently.
"Fascinating," the physicist mused. "The PKE readings have gone up exponentially, by a power of eight. I still can't get a lock on exactly what they're doing, though."
Voices coming down the hall caused all four men to look up. "Dr Markov, please listen to me!" Zack cried, following the doctor into the room. In her hands she carried a packing box and she was not looking at the young man behind her. "I live in Angel Grove, where monster attacks are a daily thing. I know weird when I see it, and those Crystals are WEIRD! I think putting that one in with the other two would be a very bad thing."
"Nonsense," the doctor replied, setting the box down. "These Crystals are obviously a set. They belong together."
"But Dr Markov!" Zack shot back desperately. "Don't you think there's a reason they were broken up?"
"I must agree with Zack, Dr Markov," Egon broke in, stepping forward. "I believe placing these three Crystals together, when we have no idea what they were designed for, would be disastrous." However, he was too late. Dr Markov had already removed the third Crystal from its packing case and set it near the other three. Quicker than thought, green light began to flash among the three crystals, building until it shot out, striking Peter and knocking him into the wall.
In an eyeblink, the three other Ghostbusters were at the side of their fallen friend. While Egon dispassionately checked Peter's pulse and pupillary response, Ray and Winston attempted to bring him back to consciousness. "Peter, wake up," Ray pleaded.
"Come on, buddy, wake up. You took a nasty shot, but you're gonna be okay," continued Winston.
Egon, finished with his examination, turned to his two friends with a shrug. "He should be fine. His pulse is regular, and I can detect no trace of a concussion. Peter's customary hardheadedness has saved him once again."
"Egon, you are so mean," Peter said weakly, his eyes fluttering open. Almost immediately, his friends helped him to sit up. "Oh, man, what hit me? I feel like I took a sledgehammer between the ribs."
While the Ghostbusters had been tending to Peter, and Dr Markov had been staring at the Crystals in shock, Zack's attention had been taken by something different. All around him, he noticed the shadows in the room growing deeper, darker. A hideously familiar chittering sound had reached his ears. "No," he whispered, almost to himself. "Nyghtmayr's gone. We defeated him." Despite his denials, however, he could not convince himself that what he was hearing was not the noise of the Horrors, Nyghtmayr's hench-creatures. Picking up the Ninja Crystal, he quickly brought it over to the Ghostbusters. "Hold onto this," he told Peter seriously. "Don't let anything take it, although I think they'll be concentrating on me."
"What are you talking about?" Peter asked, taking the Crystal gingerly. "What's happening?"
"Please, don't ask questions," Zack shot back. "I don't have time to answer them. Just protect this Crystal at all costs." The chittering grew louder, and Zack turned back to the shadows, which had begun to swirl together, forming an impossible pool of darkness at one end of the room. Slowly, a form pulled itself out of the hole, a dragon-shaped creature, approximately the size of a Saint Bernard, made completely of darkness. Along with it came thousands upon thousands of smaller versions, chittering and snickering to themselves.
At last, I am free! Free to avenge my master, and destroy all those who opposed him! Go, my pets, bring me the Crystals! the creature chuckled evilly.
Swallowing hard, Zack stepped forward. In a voice that was surprisingly steady, he called out, "Haven't you forgotten something, demon? I'm still here. It's Morphin Time! Black Ranger Power!" In a flash of black light, Zack was transformed into the Black Morphin Ranger, startling the Ghostbusters immensely. Dr Markov, however, had passed out when the demon had entered the room, and so missed Zack's transformation.
The large black creature regarded Zack with interest. Sssooo, we meet at last, the creature hissed. You are one of those responsible for the destruction of my master, Nyghtmayr, and of my brothers! I am Angyr, and I will destroy you.
"Yeah?" Zack replied, raising one eyebrow. "Give it your best shot." Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the smaller creatures grabbing the two crystals on the table. "Oh no you don't!" He lunged for them, but was thrown back by a blast from the demon's talon.
If you would stand against me, Zack Taylor, we will fight. But not here, not now. Retrieve the third Crystal!
"I don't think so," Egon interrupted, unholstering his proton thrower. Ray and Winston quickly did the same, while Peter stood behind them, clutching the Crystal to his chest.
Fools! Do you think your puny weapons will stop me?
"Why don't we find out?" responded Winston, his thrower still aimed directly at the demon.
"I don't know what you are, but I'm willing to bet that a shot of protons will at least fry your little buddies," Peter chuckled. "Care to try?"
Angyr regarded him for a long moment, then began making an awful, cacophonous hissing sound. It took all five humans a moment to realize the creature was laughing. I like you, human. You have- spirit. We will meet again, of course, young Ranger , it said to Zack. Then it disappeared, with the Thunder and Dinosaur Crystals, back into the darkness it had come from.
Sighing, Zack powered down and turned back to the Ghostbusters. "I guess I have some explaining to do, huh?" he grimaced.
"I would say," nodded Peter. "Maybe we should do it back at the firehouse, though. It's a little better defended against supernatural occurrences."
Zack nodded, morphing back to his normal self. "We can probably leave Dr Markov here, though. The Crystals didn't react to her, so Angyr shouldn't have much interest in her. When she wakes up, she'll probably think she hallucinated the whole thing." The five men walked out the door, leaving the unconscious scientist behind.
"So you're a superhero?" Egon asked, very sceptical. Zack just nodded.
"Wow," Ray breathed. "That must be interesting. What was that thing at the museum tonight, and why was he after the Crystals?"
Zack took a deep breath. "His name is Angyr, and he's a Horror: a minor demon in the service of the demon Nyghtmayr. The other Rangers and I vanquished Nyghtmayr a while back, and took some of his Horrors out at the same time. Apparently, Angyr wasn't sucked back into whatever dimension they came from and by the looks of him, has evolved. I don't know if there are any more out there, but I doubt it. Nyghtmayr's servants are based on emotions that sustain evil, and I don't think there's any more than fear, despair, bitterness, hatred, doubt, and anger. I could be wrong, though.
"Anyway, Angyr wants the Crystals because they provide a way for it to tap into the Morphin Grid. Our Power Morphers could do the same, but he'd have to get them off us first. These Crystals each tap into one of the three different levels of the Grid, which is the source of the energy humans call magic. It's also known as PKE, although it has a different flavour than the type you're used to reading."
"That's why the PKE meters registered a spike every time the Crystal flashed," Winston realized.
"Exactly. The first Crystal you examined was the Dinosaur Crystal. It's the power of the Body. That level is the energy that bulls through a problem. It lacks finesse, but it has great strength and power. The second Crystal was the Thunder Crystal. It harnessed the power of the Mind. Mind level attacks a problem from all sides, backing off and attacking again. It's understated than Body, but sometimes misses the subtle nuances of a problem. Finally, there's this Crystal, the Ninja Crystal. It controls the level of Spirit. Spirit examines a problem, letting the problem come to it, and understanding it. Only then does it strike. Spirit can gain a lot of information, but it lacks raw power. The best teams contain a balance of these three levels. My friends and I were granted access to all three levels although my personality is best suited to using the Mind level."
"So what will this demon do with these crystals?" Peter inquired, leaning forward. He had almost completely recovered from slamming into the wall.
"He'll try to get the third one. With all three, he can command the power of the Morphin Grid, and turn it against the world. Trust me, the results won't be pretty."
"But he only has two," Ray noted.
"That'll give him enough power to turn against anyone who opposes him," Zack sighed. "I'm going to have to call the other Morphin Rangers in on this. The Turbo Rangers will be next to useless against this sort of pure magic of the grid thing and I doubt Zeo would manage any better." Tapping on his communicator, he put out the call. Within moments, the other Morphin Rangers were standing in the kitchen of the Ghostbusters' firehouse, looking around themselves in astonishment.
"Okay, Zack," Skull yawned. "Who are these people, and what is so important that you called us here in the middle of the night?"
Zack smiled. Bulk and Skull while not strictly Morphin Rangers used similar powers. In fact nobody had been able to determine exactly how their powers worked. The closest explanation was that they were Hybrid powers like those Nate used.
"Guys, these are the Ghostbusters. Egon Spengler, Ray Stantz, Peter Venkman, and Winston Zeddemore. Ghostbusters, these are the other Morphin Ranger. Jason Scott, Trini Kwan, Billy Cranston, Kimberly Hart, Aisha Campbell, David Trueheat and Samoht Revilo, just call him Sam. Over there is Eugene Skullovitch, commonly called Skull, and Farkus Bulkmier, who would prefer it if you called him Bulk." After the introductions, Zack had to explain to the rest of the Rangers why he had revealed their secret to the Ghostbusters. All five of his friends paled considerably at the mention of Angyr.
"Not to interrupt," Egon interrupted, "but if we're going to help out, which I strongly suggest we should, I would like to understand a few more things. Number one, what did the colours in the Crystal, or of your animals, signify?"
Zack looked at Billy. "You want to take this one, genius?"
Billy smiled. "Certainly. The Morphin Power, besides being divided into three levels, is also stratified into eight colours. Some believe there is a ninth colour, but opinion is divided. These colours are Red, Yellow, Blue, Pink, Black, Green, White, and Purple. Bulk and Skull use a different type of power that ties into the Morphin Grid in some form."
"It's not exactly normal, but with these two that's not surprising," Zack commented.
"Hey!" Skull scowled before grinning. It was true that when he and Bulk did something the results were usually spectacular and just a little strange.
"At any rate," Billy continued, taking up the thread of his lecture once again, "the colours represent different types of personality. Each colour has three different animal spirits, one for each level of the power. Reds are leaders, hot-headed and courageous, while Blues are scholars and scientists, people of a scientific bent."
Peter turned to Egon, grinning. "No wonder the crystal flashed blue for you, man. But why didn't it flash for people like Dr Markov?"
"Not everyone is suitable to take up the power. Their spirits are not strong enough, their wills not so powerful. The Crystal only recognizes those worthy of holding the power," Billy informed them.
"We all made the crystal flash," Ray said curiously. "I know what Egon's blue means, but I made it flash white, Peter made it flash green, and Winston made it flash pink. Why?"
"You made it flash pink?" Billy asked the older man. "That's odd. Most Pinks are female, but I don't suppose that it's limited to that gender. None of the other colours are. Pinks are usually down-to-earth, practical, and somewhat protective of the people they care about.
"White means that the person is of a mystical personality, interested in the ways of magic. They don't study the supernatural so much from a scientific point of view as from an occult one.
"As for Greens," Billy sighed, "they're often loners, and extremely danger-prone, as Sam and Tommy would be happy to tell you. They have hard lives, and no one's sure if that's because of the Green Power, or if that produces it. Regardless, most Greens have fighter's spirits, and usually take the brunt of any attack."
Peter grimaced. That was certainly true. He couldn't remember how many times he had managed to be in the path of attack for any and all of the ghosts they trapped. As for a hard life, that was certainly the case. He'd grown up in a rough neighbourhood, and his con artist father had rarely been home. His life hadn't been easy, but he liked to think that he'd borne up under it well.
"Okay, so I'm a trouble magnet with a past," Peter joked uncomfortably. "Why did that Crystal zap me, and why do I feel like I've got a battery in my back?"
"You've been infused with Morphin energy," David piped up, startling everyone. "I can see it. I don't know how long it will last, but for a while, you're a sort of a conduit for the Morphin Power."
"Will that help against Angyr?" Egon asked, leaning forward and shoving his glasses up. The Rangers smiled, seeing how much this man was like Billy.
"It might," Billy replied slowly. "If you're determined to help, it could come in useful. Let's see. You use proton streams to contain and trap ghosts, correct?"
"Yes, the positively charged particles repel and hold the negatively charged energy that they're composed of," answered the scientist.
"I think maybe, just maybe, we could alter your packs to allow them to channel Morphin Power, which is also positively charged, into the proton streams. Since PKE is sort of negatively charged Morphin energy, the positive version should allow you to contain and even trap Angyr, who is similar in composition to many of the supernatural entities you trap."
Egon cocked his head at Billy. "How do you know all of this?" The young scientist blushed.
"I read your articles in the latest paranormal journals. I found the field of paranormal studies fascinating, ever since I became a Power Ranger."
"Hmm. I have a lab upstairs, if you'd like to help me alter the packs." Still talking, the two headed up the stairs, proton throwers in tow. Peter watched them go, shaking his head.
"They'll be up there a while," he sighed. "Anyone for a snack?" As it turned out, this was the wrong word to use. Slimer, hearing it, suddenly came barrelling through the nearest wall, tongue hanging out. Taking one look at Kimberly, he forgot all about food, though. Floating up to her at top speed, he threw his arms around her, covering her in green slime. Kimberly shrieked, ducking away.
"Slimer!" Ray, Peter, and Winston yelled in unison. "Sorry about that, Kim," the psychologist apologized, peeling the love-struck ghost off of the girl. "I think he's got a crush on you."
"Eww, gross," Kim responded, looking down at her slime-covered pink T-shirt. "Does this stuff wash out?"
"Oh, yeah," Peter grinned. "Trust me, I should know. I think I've got a shirt upstairs you can borrow. It's a little big, but it's clean. We'll put your shirt in the washer." He ran upstairs, and a few moments later, came down with the shirt. Kim caught it as he tossed it to her and promptly disappeared into the bathroom. Meanwhile, Ray and Winston attempted to keep Slimer from following her.
"Okay, I'm clean," Kim announced, coming out of the bathroom. Peter's shirt fit the petite girl like a tent, as expected, but it wasn't a real problem. She sat back down next to her boyfriend Skull, who chuckled.
"Guess he has good taste," Skull mused, slinging an arm around Kimberly's shoulders. She elbowed him.
"That was worse than that stuff from that rotten Ghost Galleon, the stuff that was stuck on your clothes!" she replied heatedly. "Now I know how Kat must have felt."
"Galleon?" Ray asked, instantly interested in a ghost story.
The Morphin Rangers launched into an explanation of one of the latest adventures, where they had met Divatox and Maligore. They focused on the Ghost Galleon which had taken them to the island, and occasionally Jason or Kim would put in part of their side of the story, of the events on Divatox's sub. The three Ghostbusters listened in fascination until Billy and Egon came down the stairs, each lugging two proton packs behind them.
"They're done," Egon announced. "We've modified the packs to incorporate Morphin energy with the proton streams. Hopefully, that will provide us enough power to contain and trap Angyr. According to Billy, the smaller creatures will simply explode on contact with the beams."
"Yeah, they weren't very tough in and of themselves," Zack mused.
"Now, all that remains is to infuse the Ghostbusters with Morphin Power," Billy informed them. "Peter, you already have yours, the green energy." Peter took his pack from Egon, and stopped dead as a gold medallion formed on the back.
"Guys, why is there a lizard on my pack?" he asked carefully, almost dreading the answer. Billy looked closer.
"That's -- unusual. You're symbol is the Basilisk, the lesser known spirit animal of Green Thunder Power; most those those of that level are normally represented by the Minotaur. It means that your energy is of the Mind level. Thunder Greens are often less moody or quiet than the other two divisions of the colour. They cover their weaknesses with humour and sarcasm, rather than by being withdrawn."
"That's Peter, all right," Ray agreed.
"Now, I need the other three to come over to the Crystal," Billy instructed. Then he shot a concerned glance at Zack. "Zack, you're sure they're all Ninja personalities?"
Zack nodded. "Positive. They're all much more patient than Peter here." Peter stuck his tongue out at the younger man, but playfully. Ray, Winston, and Egon arranged themselves in front of the Crystal. Billy then stood on the other side, facing them.
"Place your hands on the Crystal," the young genius instructed. The three men did, and the Crystal flared with brilliant light that shimmered from pink to white to blue. "Egon, you are the Wolf, patient, wise, intelligent, diligent in your pursuit of knowledge and goals. Ray, you are the Falcon, noble, understanding. You soar above the obstacles in your path, and never desert those you guard. Winston, you are the Crane, agile and swift. You protect those weaker than you and care for your friends. The Power is a part of you now. Use it wisely and well."
As the three men opened their eyes, they also saw medallions of their animals appear on their packs. Silently, they strapped them on. Finally, Peter broke the silence. "So where do we go now?"
"Angyr will need a tremendous source of power to use the Crystals," Billy mused. "New York is located on a major ley line nexus, just as Angel Grove is. We just have to find the spot where the lines converge."
Sam grinned and held up a hand. A green arrow appeared, spinning in for a few seconds before settling down. He grinned. "Leave that to me. Let's go." Together they trooped out of the firehouse, leaving the Crystal behind, safe behind the cold iron in the walls.
Between Samoht's spell, David's sensitivity to energy and Skull's psychic hunches, they were able to follow the ley lines under the streets of New York. "Egon, did you know there was a ley line nexus under the firehouse?" Peter asked.
The physicist smiled wryly. "No, I didn't, Peter. That would, however, explain why we were drawn to it. Anywhere else, it would have taken a great deal more power to make the containment unit work. Since we are apparently more sensitive to this type of power than normal humans are, we were instinctively drawn to a place that would suit our needs."
"And I thought we picked it because Ray liked the fireman's pole," Peter grumbled good-naturedly.
Suddenly Skull stopped. "I have good news and bad news, people. The good news is, I think we've found the nexus."
Samoht and David were both nodding.
"What's the bad news?" Jason asked warily.
"There appears to be a police barricade around it."
"What!" everyone cried. Sure enough, there was a line of cars around the building that Skull indicated. It appeared to be an apartment building, of odd design, and one corner of the building's top looked a good deal newer than the rest. Peter frowned, sure he'd seen it before. Then, realization hit him like a bolt, and he groaned.
"It's Dana's apartment building," he moaned. "It figures."
"Dana?" Trini asked, looking at Ray. The occultist winced.
"She was kind of his girlfriend, for a while, but they drifted apart. She was involved in our first case. Her apartment in this building was being haunted, so she came to us. To make a long story short, she was possessed by a spirit called Zuul, and with the help of another spirit, brought back Gozer, an interplanar being with a love of destruction. We went to stop it, it turned into a thirty story marshmallow man, and we managed to seal off the dimension and send Gozer back to wherever it came from."
"Thirty story- marshmallow man?" Zack asked, incredulous. "Dude, you guys are the ones who should have the Zords."
"It makes sense that this building would be located on the nexus," Egon mused. "The nut who designed it was trying to make a gigantic altar that would allow him to summon Gozer and bring about the end of the world. It's only natural that he would locate it on the largest nearby source of power."
"Let's go see what's going on," Jason suggested. "First, though, I think we'd better morph. It protects our identities, if you don't see us transform, and I don't particularly want the police to know what we look like."
The others nodded, and while the Ghostbusters watched for onlookers, the six teens quickly transformed. Then the whole group headed off towards the police barricade.
"What seems to be the problem, officer?" Peter asked nonchalantly. The son of a con artist, Peter had a few verbal tricks of his own, and the rest of the Ghostbusters generally let him do the talking in these situations.
"Hey, you guys are fast!" the cop said, as soon as he realized who he was talking to. "We just sent somebody to call your office."
"Well, we had a report of something weird going down," Peter responded. "What exactly is meant by 'weird,' though?"
"Flashing lights, little chittering noises, maniacal laughter, and three workmen who were prepping the place for demolition nearly killed each other in a fight. Now they say that they just got mad at each other, and didn't know why."
The Morphin Rangers regarded each other seriously. "One of the Horror's abilities is to evoke the emotion for which it is named," Billy explained. "Likely it didn't want them around. It's waiting for us."
The policeman frowned as he saw the Morphin Rangers, and the way they were dressed. "Hey, who are you kids? On your way to a costume party?"
"It's okay, mister," Zack assured him. "We're superheroes." Calmly, he summoned his Power Axe into one hand then dismissed it. The cop blinked.
"If you say so. So there's a demon in there?"
"Yeah, a really nasty one," Jason replied. "We'd appreciate it if you'd keep everyone back until this is finished."
"You got it," the cop shrugged. Turning away, he began to relay instructions to the other officers at the scene.
"Well, we'd probably better go in there, huh?" Winston sighed, not sounding very enthusiastic.
Ray shrugged. "Maybe he'll be on the first floor this time, and we won't have to climb all those stairs."
"Most likely he's in the basement, if the place has one," Billy ventured.
The Ghostbusters shot each other relieved looks. Not only were they not looking forward to climbing all those steps, each thought it a good idea that Peter was not exposed to the top floor apartments again. Too many memories.
"Well, let's go," Peter cried. He headed into the building, and one by one, the rest followed him.
Slowly, they made their way down into the basement with the aid of the high-powered flashlights that Egon had insisted on bringing. "I've got a bad feeling about this," Winston whispered. No sooner had they all cleared the stairs than a hideous chittering noise caught their attention.
"Heads up!" Jason called, pulling out his Power Sword. "Here they come!" Tiny monsters swarmed out of every shadow, surging in a black tide towards them. The flashlights were quickly dropped to the ground, and the battle was joined.
The sounds of the chittering hordes mingled with the attack cries of the Morphin Rangers and their allies as they hacked, chopped, shot, and generally decimated the ranks of their opponents. Meanwhile, the Ghostbusters also managed to hold their own, blowing away the little creatures with a few well placed proton bolts.
"Yeehah!" Peter yelled, a wide grin crossing his face. "This is better than our last couple busts! No slime!" The other Ghostbusters just shook their heads and kept on blasting.
Suddenly, the room was silent. No more little creatures came at them. Even so, they continued to hold their weapons ready, intently scanning the edges of the basement.
Very good. Angyr's low chuckle rolled out of the darkness. I am truly impressed. And now you have sealed the third Crystal away from me. No matter. When you are destroyed, it will be a simple matter to "convince" some unwary human to retrieve it for me.
"We don't go down that easy!" Skull cried. The Rangers dropped into defensive stances, flanked by the four Ghostbusters. Angyr simply regarded them with undisguised amusement.
You will fall, one by one, the demon assured them. First to go shall be the foolish Black Ranger, who dared to challenge me. I have tasted your essence, human, and with the Crystals and the power of Earth itself, I will drain you dry!
Lifting a claw, Angyr suddenly began to glow with a black light. Zack suddenly cried out in agony, clutching at his chest and dropping to his knees. Immediately, David and Trini were by his side.
"It's draining his life-energy!" the White Ranger cried. "The demon's somehow connected to his spirit!"
"Must- have connected- when it zapped me earlier," panted Zack through his pain.
"David, can you stop it?" Trini asked fearfully. The boy shook his head.
"No, but maybe I can slow it down. If I can link to him psychically, I can help him beat it back. Unfortunately, it means I'm going to be out of this fight."
"Do it," Jason ordered curtly. "Bulk, Skull, cover them!" Drawing his sword, he threw himself at Angyr, who threw him back with a laugh. Meanwhile, David placed his hands on Zack's shoulders, allowing himself to be drawn into the other's mind.
"Come on, Zack, fight it!" he whispered.
The battle continued, but it soon became obvious to all concerned that the forces of Good were merely fighting a holding action. The Ghostbusters were reluctant to fire on Angyr for fear of injuring either Zack or one of the Morphin Rangers launching an attack on the demon. Meanwhile, the Rangers attacking it were not faring well at all.
"I can't hold him!" David cried. "Billy, Trini, you're telepaths! Give me a hand here!" The two immediately broke off the attack to help him defend Zack's life essence. Unfortunately, that only left two less Rangers to fight Angyr.
"New plan," Jason puffed, calling the Rangers and the Ghostbusters into a huddle. "I figure we've got one chance to beat this guy and save Zack, and that's to get it into one of those traps you guys use. Now, to give the four of you a chance for a clear shot, we need to have something take its attention. That'll be us."
"Why you?" protested Ray.
"It hates Power Rangers," Kimberly explained. "We're a living reminder of all the good in the universe, of everything that stands in opposition to it. Trust me, if it's given the chance to get us, it'll forget all about the four of you."
"So while you distract it, we surround it and open fire with the proton streams," reasoned Egon.
"And hope that the Morphin energy gives the streams enough kick to take it down," Winston added.
"Right," Jason agreed. "Let's do it." Breaking the huddle, the Ghostbusters melted back into the shadows of the basement. Angyr didn't notice this however, because the Rangers had immediately launched an attack on it, taking up all its attention. It knocked Jason away as he took a swipe at its head with his Power Sword, and immediately had to duck as Kimberly fired a barrage of arrows at it. Sam's fire spell was skilfully dodged, but Aisha managed to land a glancing blow.
While the Morphin Rangers kept Angyr's attention, the Ghostbusters had moved into position around it. With the ease of years working together, they powered up their proton packs in unison, aiming them at the dragon-shaped blot of darkness in the centre of the room. The demon, still lit by the discarded flashlights, made a perfect target.
"Rangers!" Peter cried, taking aim. "Get CLEAR!" The two teens obeyed instantly, throwing themselves out of reach of the demon. "Let's do it, guys," the psychologist called to his friends. "Fire!"
Four proton streams shot towards their target. This time, however, they were slightly different than they had been on previous busts. Where before the streams had been predominantly yellow, with a few blue streaks, each stream was now tinted with a different, individual hue. Peter's shone with a green light, while Egon's sparkled bright blue. The stream from Winston's thrower was touched with pink, and Ray's gave off a brilliant white glow. The four streams surrounded Angyr with a cage of light. He struggled, trying to break free, and Peter felt the stream wavering. "Somebody do something!" he called frantically. "We can't hold on here forever!"
Zack, watching the battle from where he knelt, managed to somehow summon enough strength to cry out to his friend. "Jason! On Egon's pack- the trap!" Jason didn't even bother to nod, simply reached up and removed the trap from the pack, throwing it out into the centre of the floor. Silently giving thanks that he'd seen ghosts busted on the news, he stomped down on the foot pedal.
With a burst of brilliant white light, the trap opened directly beneath the demon. With an agonizing cry, Angyr twisted and warped, and finally was sucked into the trap, screaming all the way. As the doors of the trap shut, the demon's connection to Zack was broken. The boy almost collapsed with the relief.
"Well, we've got him," Winston chuckled. "Now what do we do with him?"
"An excellent question, Winston," acknowledged Egon. "I seriously doubt the containment will be able to store a being like Angyr indefinitely." His words seemed to be accurate. Even now, the trap was rocking back and forth, as the creature inside attempted to escape.
"We can handle this," David grinned. "Right, guys?" The other Rangers nodded. Motioning the Ghostbusters back, the six teens made a circle around the trap. Joining hands, they closed their eyes.
"We call on the power of all of us combined," Jason called. "Destroy the evil within this trap!"
"White Ranger Power!" With those words, David began to glow with a bright white light.
"Green Ranger Power!" A brilliant green aura surrounded Sam.
"Purple Ranger Power!" Aisha radiated purple light. Although it was not as bright as the others, the power could be felt by those around her.
"Black Ranger Power!" Zack's black glow joined the others.
"Pink Ranger Power!" Kim also began to glow, this time in pink.
"Blue Ranger Power!" A blue glow enveloped Billy.
"Yellow Ranger Power!" cried Trini, a yellow glow flaring around her.
"Red Ranger Power!" No sooner had Jason's red glow joined those of his friends, a white circle of light began to flow between them, shining brighter and brighter until looking at it was unbearable. Then it began to shrink, converging on the trap in the centre of the circle. A hideous scream filled the air, and then silence. Exhausted, the Rangers released each other's hands and backed away.
Gingerly, Ray prodded at the trap. Gathering his courage, he leaned closer, and his jaw dropped. Looking up at his friends, he shrugged. "It's empty," was all he said.
Peter pretended to wipe his forehead in mock relief, and then everyone sagged. Finally, it was over.
A few days later, arrangements had been made for the Crystals to be sent somewhere safe. At first the Rangers had planned to send them back to the Power Chamber, but Zordon had pointed out that that would lead to them being claimed by the Council.
"The crystals were found on Earth and should remain here," he had told them. Fortunately Ray knew of somebody who could help.
Explanations had been made to Dr Markov, and it was finally time for the charity basketball game. As Zack jogged out onto the floor with his team-mates, he saw all of his friends waving at him from the stands- all of them. "Guess Zordon ruled this an 'acceptable use' of the teleportation system," he whispered to Peter. The psychologist whistled.
"That whole group is here to see you? And they're all Power Rangers?" he asked, as quietly as Zack. His friend nodded. "Am I losing it, or are three of your friends almost identical?"
"You're not losing it. David and Tommy, the guy with the long dark hair in red, are twins, and Sam... well he started out as a clone of Tommy, but we're not sure how they're related now."
Peter shook his head. "Now I see why you need a shrink. If I had to keep all this straight, I'd go nuts too."
Zack just shook his head, grinning. Then the referee blew the whistle, and there was no more time for talking.
The game was fast and furious, but in the end, the Lions beat out the rival team, the Tigers, by one point, thanks to a desperate three-point shot by Zack just before the buzzer. As the Lions were congratulating each other and being congratulated by the Tigers, the organizer of the event walked out onto the floor.
"I am pleased to announce that the winner of the first Charity Cup Basketball Competition is the Lions! Even better, though, thanks to the admissions, we have enough money to keep the Boys' and Girls' Club open!" That brought a chorus of loud cheers from everyone present.
The Rangers and Ghostbusters, who had sat together in the stands, signalled to their two friends on the floor that they would meet up outside the gym after the crowd had cleared. Peter and Zack signalled their acknowledgment and headed for the showers to clean up.
Afterwards, the scene was almost as chaotic as the Zeo Rangers and Turbo Rangers were introduced to the Ghostbusters, and vice-versa. Suddenly, Rocky's voice cut through the crowd. "Hey! As long as we're all hanging out together, let's go get some pizza!"
"Sure, Rocky, know a place that'll serve us all?" Justin shot back.
"I do," replied Ray. "There's a Pizza Hut nearby that has a room for parties at no extra cost."
As the group headed off, Ray leading the way, Peter and Zack found themselves at the back of the group. With a smile, Zack extended his hand to the older man.
"Been nice working with you, Dr Venkman."
The psychologist gripped the boy's hand tightly. "Hey, who says you're done? Drop in at the firehouse any time, Zack. You're always welcome. Now come on, let's go get some pizza. I lost my lunch to the Spud earlier today, and I'm starving!" Zack chuckled, shaking his head, and the two of them headed off with their friends. At that moment, Zack knew that no matter what else happened to him in New York, he would not be lonely again.