Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers; they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic.

Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate time line.

The Birdcage Bandit

It had been a quiet day, something that should have worried the Rangers. The Rangers had gathered, along with Jason and were enjoying the afternoon spent with friends in a quiet place. Quiet that is until the door flew open and Ernie, the portly yet cheerful owner of the Juice Bar entered, carrying an oversized brown box that threatened to fall over at any moment. The top had already been opened and packing material was spilling out onto the normally clean floors.

"Hey Ernie," Kat greeted as she stepped up to support one corner of the box and guiding it towards one of the tables.

"Let us help you with that," Tommy offered, taking another corner.

Ernie nodded his thanks and ordered the teens a round of drinks on the house as he settled down to open the boxes.

"I think I know what you're missing, Ernie," Rocky joked to the owner of the Juice Bar a few minutes later. "There's supposed to be a bird in one of those!"

Ernie grinned back and put the large brass bird cage, which he had just removed from one of the huge boxes that still seemed to be spilling packing peanuts, onto the counter in front of the group of teenagers. "Very funny, Rocky" Ernie said, "but it's a birthday present for my great-aunt Meryl."

"It certainly looks pretty" Katherine said, as she carefully traced a finger along the swirls and bird designs that had been formed in parts of the metal frame, "and fairly old too, wherever did you find it?"

"I have a friend who was over in Mexico, and he knew I have a weakness for these sort of things," Ernie said, as he himself looked at all the swirls and gesturing to the other boxes and their odd contents. "This is an El Tweeto original, he was a very famous maker of bird cages ages ago, and they are all highly detailed."

"Has your great-aunt got a lot of birds, Ernie?" Adam asked.

"Only a few, but she has a Mexican blue-wing that would really like this" Ernie replied, "I just need to get it polished up".

"Can we help?" Kat asked her, eyes perky. Beside her Adam smiled towards Ernie.

"Sure, that would be great!" Ernie replied, handing the cage to Rocky while he went out back to find the necessary cleaning materials.

"Eep!" squeaked Rocky, and everybody turned to see that the spring on the cage door had snapped back to catch his finger.

The red-tinted image played out, showing Adam, Katherine and Rocky carefully polishing an ornate bird cage, sitting together in a corner of the Juice Bar while their friends were otherwise engaged. A vocal "Hmm" sounded over the image, it belonged to Lord Zedd who was viewing the scene through the visor of his mask while reclining lazily on his throne. His staff lay haphazardly to one side.

"Did you call Lord Zedd?" Finster asked, sticking his large nose around the door before entering, a small vial in his hand. He approached his master, bowed and offered the vial. "It is a small Energiser Potion," he explained.

"Perfect," Zedd sighed once he had drained the contents. "Have you shared this with Rita and those other buffoons?"

Finster nodded.

"Good, in that case tell Goldar to take some Putties bring me that bird cage," he ordered, expanding the vision so Finster could see it.

"At once Lord Zedd," Finster said as he hurried away. "I will recover the Molecular Scrambler for you too."

In a corner of the Juice Bar, the birdcage that Rocky, Adam and Katherine had spent hours on was really starting to gleam. "So, I meant to ask, how did you first trip to Careers Guidance go?" Katherine asked, as she dabbed her cloth once more into the pot of polish.

Tommy and Jason had gone off somewhere, mentioning something about a bet that Tanya had been quick to volunteer as judge.

"Not bad," Adam replied, "though I think it's strange that Rocky, Tommy and I were all told in the initial interview about jobs in the new NASADA complex."

"Yeah" Rocky added, jokingly "It's like there's some sort of government conspiracy to get us recruited"

Adam grinned, leaned in conspiratorially and whispered: "Maybe they've uncovered our secret. Now they want to duplicate the powers to help out on 911 calls."

The teens' laughter carried across the room, down the hallway and into the changing rooms, where it mingled with the sound of warbling from putties.

"Quiet!" Goldar ordered as he emerged along with a collection of Putties. Any attempt at stealth was abandoned as the first human spotted them and screams. Goldar groaned and then shrugged "Let's go!"

"Watch your backs" Katherine called out as the last of the patrons of the Juice Bar ran through the doors, leaving only Katherine, Adam and Rocky to halt Goldar and his company of Putties.

The three teens drew close and assumed a fighting stance. "I don't know what you're up to," Rocky said, pointing at Goldar, "but we're going to put a stop to it anyway!"

Goldar simply grunted, while the putties grouped around him, preparing to strike. "Foolish humans," he replied.

"Putties attack them." Three Putties charged forward, and swung punches towards the teens, who defensively blocked and landed their own blows. Immediately several more Putty Patrollers responded, charging forward.

Katherine dived across a tabletop, and swung around on the far edge to kick up into a Putties chest, sending it flipping backwards, before she hopped off the table.

Reacting with his usual speed, Rocky blocked a Putty's kick, while simultaneously dodging another's punch. Still holding the Putties leg, the Blue Zeo Ranger rolled to the ground, pulling the putty over and causing its back to hit its fellow Putties vulnerable Z spot as it tripped. As the first Putty exploded Rocky swung around to deliver a critical punch to the second.

Meanwhile, Adam sent a heavy kick into a Putty, sending it stumbling backwards, allowing him to launch forward with a jumping sidekick that landed an obliterating blow. As he landed, another Putty tackled him from behind and bought the teen crashing in, and through, one of the Juice Bar's table.

Rocky charged towards Goldar, ducking a swipe from the warrior and straightening up to deliver a quick kick to the ribs. Rocky delivered a chop to Goldar's plated chest, before being forced backwards by a swing of Goldar's fist. From across the room, where Katherine and Adam were still defeating Zedd's putties, a warbled cry carried over, Goldar looked over and saw one of his patrollers waving the birdcage in the air.

Goldar roared with laughter.

"I could destroy you now, Rangers" Goldar growled.

"But Lord Zedd has better plans for you." With that he tapped a fist to his chest and, along with the remaining putties, was enveloped in flames as they teleported away.

Power Chamber

"And then Goldar tapped his chest and they teleported away," Adam explained.

After the attack the three Rangers had contacted Zordon and the other Rangers before teleporting to the Power Chamber and telling their tale. That Goldar had left after stealing the birdcage was both a clue and a warning to be on alert. It had been some time since they had dealt with one of Rita and Zedd's transmogrified monsters.

"This is indeed bad news Rangers," Zordon said. "I dread to think what Lord Zedd might attempt."

"I am afraid Alpha that Lord Zedd is far more powerful than that. I am certain that even weakened he will find a way to accomplish his aims. However, I do not believe that Zedd will be able to create a monster from the bird cage using his magic."

"He's right," Jason said. "I remember Zedd, he usually needed something living to work with."

"Hey that's right," Tommy agreed.

"So then why did he take it?"

"Rita can bring objects to life, so can Zedd," Kat told them. She should know; the transformation she had undergone in recent times had left her feeling more confident, but had also opened up forgotten memories along with her suppressed abilities. The training she had received from the Rangers' allies had helped her.

"Oh ai-yi-yi, why can't anything be simple?" Alpha moaned.

"Ready when you are Lord Zedd," Finster said, holding the empty birdcage to one side.

"Not even Zeddy can mess this up," Rita commented.

"Silence woman," Zedd snapped. "I am more than capable of aiming."

Rita muttered something as Zedd lifted the device, which resembled a heavily modified super shooter and fired.

"I thought you were making a monster," Rita said as she laid eyes of the result. "What do you call this, a Bird Cage Bandit?"

Zedd just laughed.

The alarms in the Power Chamber sounded, alerting the Rangers of a new threat. The Viewing Screen conveniently showed the monster as it made its way through the city of Angel Grove, assaulting the innocent citizens.

"Lord Zedd has unleashed the Bird Cage Bandit on Angel Grove," Zordon boomed. How he knew the monster's name was anybody's guess.

"It's Morphin Time!"

"Zeo Ranger I - Pink!"

"Zeo Ranger II - Yellow!"

"Zeo Ranger III - Blue!"

"Zeo Ranger IV - Green!"

"Zeo Ranger V - Red!"

Alpha pushed a button and the Power Chamber transported them to where the Bird Cage Bandit was rampaging.

"That was not supposed to happen, was it?" Blue Zeo asked as he and his leader recovered from the shock of losing three teammates inside the first minute of a battle. They had arrived ready for battle, but had been caught off guard by their opponent's special power. ~Or maybe it was his goofy accent.~

The Blue and Red Zeo Rangers stood before Zedd's newest monster, a sombrero-adorned creature with a rusty birdcage where its head and torso should have been, and wearing a large curtain of garish fabric along its back and sides. Inside the cage were several small figures, including miniature versions of the Green, Pink and Yellow Zeo Rangers.

"It's over, Bird Cage Bandit!" Red Ranger shouted, pointing straight at the monster, "Release our friends!" That was so Tommy, total confidence even when the most uninformed bystander could tell that the monster had the upper hand.

"No way, senor!" Bandit squawked back, and charged forward, knocking into the two Rangers and causing them to stumble away.

Rocky was first up and leapt towards Bird Cage Bandit, connecting with a powerful punch that sent the monster sprawling. Tommy got to his feet and started swinging punches and kicks, knocking the already troubled monster back to the ground.

The Bird Cage Bandit swung an ill-placed punch, and Tommy jumped back out of the way, clearing it easily. As Tommy and Rocky regrouped, the Bandit rolled backwards and, wobbling, got to its feet.

Without another word, the two Zeo Rangers charged forward. The monster swung its fist towards Tommy. Seeing it coming, the Red Ranger ducked, leaving an opening for Rocky to deliver a dropkick to the Bandit's cage, which knocked the monster backwards. Rocky scrambled over the monster and pulled open the little door in the monsters' side. As he did so several beams of light shot out, and when they landed formed the shapes of the previously trapped Zeo Rangers and members of the public.

"Run!" Pink Ranger shouted to the recently removed citizens, then clenching a fist to her chest added "We'll take care of him from here!"

"Zeo Cannon!" they called, unifying their collective powers as the heavy-duty weapon appeared and they went through the usual loading routine. "Fire!"

"I told you this was a bad idea!" Rita shrieked.

"Silence woman," Zedd snarled, "my monster is more than up to the task; he just needs to grow a bit!"

He lazily tossed a bomb out off the balcony and watched as it was guided to target. Bird Cage Bandit grabbed the metallic bomb and tossed it on the ground, releasing the growth spell in the process.

"We need Zeo Zord power, now!" the Rangers called.

They waited as their mighty battle machines rode and flew into action. But they were not the only ones waiting. When he saw the Rangers preparing to teleport, the monster had activated his new abilities, trapping the five battle machines inside a magical cage. The Zeo Megazord formed, but could not reach beyond the bars and with the Rangers unable to teleport in, it lacked the intellect to find a way around the trap.

"Zordon, we need the Super Zeo Zords instead," Adam called.

"Wait, I have an idea," Tanya said.

Usually strategy fell to the Green and Red Rangers, but that in no way meant Tanya was not smart enough to think of something. Switching to a private channel she told the others her idea.

"Good plan," Tommy agreed.

"Yeah," Rocky agreed. "We'll distract him with the Super Zeo Megazord and Warrior Wheel while Tommy uses the Red Battlezord to break that cage open."

"Rocky!" Kat hissed. "Don't tell everybody."

"Let's do it guys!" Tommy called. "Red Battlezord!"

"Warrior Wheel!" the others cried before teleporting to the Super Zeo Megazord while Tommy transferred to his personal one man-punching machine.

"Oh no you don't amigo!" Bird Cage Bandit announced, extending the cage to capture the Red Battlezord.

The monster and Super Zeo Megazord faced off, the latter seeming to take more of a beating than normal. In a surprising move, the monster threw its sombrero at the large robot and completely engulfed its head.

"See if you like my cuckoo punch, senor!" it said as its fist flew at the Zord on the end of a large spring. Sparks flew as the fist returned to its starting position ready to strike again. "I think I have outsmarted you."

"I think you're wrong," Tanya answered. "Or have you been watching your cage?"

Bird Cage Bandit turned suddenly and was confronted by the fully formed Mega Battlezord. The twin shoulder cannons pumped out bolt after bolt of destructive energy, trashing the cage.

"Disengage!" Tommy ordered.

The Mega Battlezord disassembled as the three Megazords took up a triangle formation and started throwing the Warrior Wheel between them.

"No way José!" the monster wailed, throwing his sombrero over the Warrior Wheel and then blasting both the Super Zeo Megazord and the Red Battlezord.

The Zeo Megazord fell back into its battle stance, as the giant-sized Bird Cage Bandit charged towards them. The Bandit lunged, striking down with a heavy chop and forcing the Megazord to the ground. Inside the Megazord warning lights flashed as the alarms sounded.

The Bandit once again reached to its side and opened the small door. A fastball of light shot out and circled in the air before forming into a giant, fiery bird. As the Zeo Megazord got to its feet, the bird swooped and hit the Megazord in the chest, erupting in sparks.

"Finish it!" Tommy yelled as the Zeo Megazord collapsed.

The other Rangers seemed to agree with his order because mere seconds later their combined blades sliced through the Bird Cage Bandit, cleaving it in half. It exploded, leaving the four battle machines to regain their balance and bask in a moment of victory.

"Here you go, Ernie" Katherine said cheerfully, handing over the sparkling clean birdcage. It had taken all the Rangers, and Alpha's, help to get all the dents and grime off it following the battle, but now it gleamed.

"Wow, good job guys!" Ernie exclaimed, then looked solemn "it's amazing how something can be so beaten up, but still be fixed quickly"

Rocky merely grinned as he said "You have no idea, Ernie". With that all five teens began chuckling.


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