Ryan Steele took in the guest quarters that he, J. B. , Dex, Albee, Roland, Drew and Josh shared. It was decided that the guests would be divided between boys and girls which meant that Kaitlin, Molly Stewart, Heather Davis, Unia, Lillith, and Jo shared a separate set of quarters for the duration of their stay. Heather, Dex, Unia and Lillith stepped outside for a while since Lillith wnted to stretch her muscles and Heather wanted explanations from Unia as to who she really was. Barbara and Hal Stewart had a different room to themselves.
Ryan sat on his bunk and looked across from Drew who was sitting on the bunk next to his. "Some adventure huh?" Ryan asked. Drew smiled in sarcasm and nodded.
"So you're retired too?" Ryan said continuing the conversation. Drew nodded and said "Yeah."
"Any reason in particular?" J. B then asked joining in the discussion. Roland then entered the conversation. "Probably the same as yours," he said.
"How about we compare notes?" Josh advised. Everyone thought it was a good idea and the boy troopers started to swap their retirement stories.
In the girls quarters Kaitlin and Jo were getting ready to have a similar conversation. "Didn't I see you before somewhere?" Jo asked.
"Probably that prison dimension we were in. It was run by that guy called... Minion right?" Jo nodded at Kaitlin's assessment.
"Now that guy was bad news," Molly commented. "I saw on the news where he had tortured the rangers and gave them blasters to fire at him."
Kaitlin didn't remember since she was unconscious most of the time in Minion's prison dimension. Jo herself had drifted in and out of unconsciousness during the Beetleborg's stay. But both girls heard about the torment of the rangers which made their own tortures seem like a vacation.
But they weren't, and it was all due to one villian in particular.
In the main chamber Alpha and the Doctor looked over the security monitors watching the conversations the Troopers and Beetleborgs were having with interest. Carter, starting to feel exaustion come over him, thought about leaving the computer terminal on automatic but he wanted to be on hand if anything came up on the team's whereabouts.
But for right now it was the Troopers and Beetleborgs that got the Doctor's and Zordon's attention. "You sure about this old friend?" the Doctor asked Zordon.
"The security cameras are seldom used, but in this case if we are to find out what the problem with the Beetleborgs and VR Troopers is then perhaps they will share that information with each other rather than with us.
The Doctor sighed looking at the video images. "I hope you're right Zordon. I hope you're right."
"It started when Minion first attacked," Sam Collins said sitting on the couch with his friends sitting with him except for Lucky who sat on a stool and Amp who sat on his head. "It allows me to listen better," he said standing upside down with his feet hanging on a closet bar and a pillow on the floor where Amp's head rested.
Sam nodded his head at Amp's... rest position and continued to speak to Zhane and Karone. "Well as I was saying, North Valley was attacked by a villian calling himself Minion. We didn't know who he was or what he wanted. All we saw him do was destroy our town."
"We couldn't even fight him," Tanker said. "Our powers work---I mean worked, in the digital realm. There was no place for Servo or the Syber Squad to connect to."
"And that's when she showed up," Syd said as she and the others remembered the villianess that made them feel so helpless.
"This villianess, what was she like?" Molly asked.
Kaitlin grimaced as she had brought up the painful recollection of the villianess who had handed the VR Troopers their greatest defeat. "She was dressed all in white. Even a white veil that covered her face...."
"Only her yellow eyes could be made out," Jo said completing the sentence. Molly looked at both Kaitlin and Jo as she realized that the White Trooper and the Platinum Purple Beetleborg were talking about the same villian.
"What did she do?" Molly asked.
"She had all this power. Power which she used to push us all back," J. B. explained.
"We tried everything from the laser lance, to concentrated blaster fire. All it did was make her stronger," Ryan added.
"And the more power she took in the better she fought it seemed," Drew said. "We were soon at her mercy."
You guys didn't surrender did you?" Albee asked. Next to Masked Rider the Troopers and the Beetleborgs were his favorite heroes. Right alongside the Power Rangers of course. Roland looked up to Albee and gave a smile that seemed to be full of weariness.
"No we didn't surrender," Roland answered. "But I do wonder what would have happened if we did."
"Minion's troops were all over the place. Since we were unable to call on Servo in the real world we were easy prey," Tanker said, eyes sullen.
"I tried to fight back but it seemed like my fighting skills weren't so great when I wasn't Servo so I was overmatched," Sam tilted his head down as if ashamed that he wasn't able to be the great hero that had handed so many defeats to the so-called monarch of the digital doorway. "This woman then brought up these crystals and placed them on our foreheads."
"We then felt our life forces go into the crystals," Syd added. Her eyes as sad as the rest of the squad.
Zhane and Karone looked at the kids. Clearly this villian handed the kids a major defeat in more ways than one.
"This villianess," Zhane started to say. "What was her name?"
"The Queen of the Crown!", Zordon called out identifying the villian that was behind the Trooper's and Beetleborg's woes. The Doctor rubbed his chin as if deep in thought.
"It's amazing. I would have thought the Time Lords would have done something about her. " Alpha turned to ask "What do you mean Doctor?"
The Doctor began to explain. "During my sixth regeneration I ran across a doctor by the name of Crozier. He had perfected a means to transfer a mind into another's body thus rendering a form of immortality. The time lords interceded killing Crozier and stopping the technology from getting out. I would assume that they might have given the Queen of the Crown the same attention since her process also presents a form of immortality."
"But wasn't the high council at that time corrupt?" Zordon asked making reference to the council that was on hand during the Ravolox incident. The Doctor nodded. "Yes they were. So it's possible they may have let it slide. Plus the technology is reminiscent of that which Rassilon used when he offered immortality."
Carter and Katarina, who needed to walk for a bit, couldn't help but pick up on the conversation and listened in. Samantha also stepped out of the TARDIS and participated as well. "Who's Rassilon?" Carter asked.
Samantha answered that question. "One of the founders of Time Lord society. He's been credited for founding the ideals on which the Time Lords live."
"But what about the immortality Rassilon offered?" Katarina asked. "What was that?"
The Doctor sighed before he answered as he remembered he and his five other selves having to play the game of Rassilon under the machinations of Lord President Borusa. They crossed the Death Zone to reach the tower which was Rassilon's tomb and Borusa came forward desiring immortality only to find him transformed into a stone figure at the base of his pedistal. When the Doctor explained the process to Carter, Katarina and Samantha they were all wide eyed with surprise.
"Forget I asked," Carter said. "I'll just make my remaining years count."
"That's good advice," the Doctor said. "Now shouldn't you get some rest? You know you can't keep hovering over that console forever."
"I'm just worried about my friends is all," Carter answered.
"But it will do you no good if you are too tired to help them should they need it," Katarina said, then she had an idea. "You want to go to the gym and get in a little sparring practice?"
Carter noded. Standing around was making him a little edgy. He wouldn't be able to help his friends if he didn't get rest, but his anxiety prevented him from relaxing. So he took up Katarina on her offer and headed to the gym.
The Doctor, Zordon, Samantha and Alpha all watched Katarina lead Carter out of the main chamber while Samantha decided she would watch over the com terminal for a while. "I'll relieve you in two hours," Alpha offered while Samantha nodded. Zordon and the Doctor however went back to watching the Troopers and Beetleborgs relive their encounter with the Queen of the Crown.
"We got the call saying that a new sort of monster had appeared in Virtual Reality," Ryan said. "Professor Hart couldn't identify it at all."
J. B. then spoke next. "She called us out saying 'Troopers! Come out and face me, or all reality as you know it shall fall!' She then fired energy from her hands as she leveled a whole mountain in virtual reality. We all realized that if she could do that in VR, then what could she do in normal reality."
"So we transformed and went to face her," Ryan said. "We didn't have a chance."
"She said she was the Queen of the Crown, and that we would fall before her," Kaitlin explained to Jo and Molly. "Ryan gave his usual speech saying that the VR Troopers would never fall before her and we got ready for battle. We first went at it hand to hand. I had my VR daggars, Ryan with his VR sword and J. B. with his lance. She just dodged them like they were nothing and connected everyone of her shots that she sent at us. I went into doubleteam mode and my double and I threw our daggars at the Queen. An energy wave had appeared from her hands and vaporized the daggars. It also sent my double and me flying back into Ryan and J. B."
"Virtual double?" Molly asked. Kaitlin smiled with a twinge of humor.
"Yeah in trooper mode I can transform into a VR version of the Doublemint twins," Jo chuckled at Kailin's joke and even Kaitlin laughed. Both Jo and Kaitlin shared a look glad that they could still laugh a little. It seemed like they hadn't for a long time.
"So what happened next?" Jo asked.
Ryan continued to tell the story. "Well we decided to call up energy weapons. We had all drawn up our blasters and aimed them straight at the center of the Queen's chest. We saw an explosion thinking we had gotten her and we celebrated with high fives."
J. B. interrupted again. "But as the smoke cleared we saw the queen pass on through like it was nothing. There was no flash burns, no torn clothing, no nothing. The Queen looked unscathed."
The story went back to Ryan. "J. B. and I then decided to call up our VR laser weapons. J. B. had his laser lance, and I called up my laser saber. Again we couldn't get through. These creatures came to her aid and fought off both J. B. and myself. And they were winning."
"It was like they knew our moves before we did," J. B. added. "Through the fight I made out that the Queen had called them 'Slaver Lords'."
"Two other slaver lords came in and gave Kaitlin and her double some trouble of there own. No pun intended," but Ryan nonetheless smiled at his little joke.
"With the boys down my double and I were the only ones left to fight her and her henchmen. ". Kaitlin recalled her and her virtual double trying to fight through to get to the queen, but the slaver lords had proved to be too strong for the Trooper girls. Once the slaver lords overwhelmed them both the Queen fired a bolt of energy apiece at the two White Troopers and both went down.
When the Troopers retroformed and the virtual double dissapeared the Queen ordered the Slaver Lords to take them back to the Prison Sub-dimension where Minion was waiting. "I was unconscious most of the time, but I knew that we were in a cell. And none of us could fight back. It was like it was an effort just to pick up one finger, which was how weak I felt."
Kaitlin brushed her hand through her hair hanging her head down as her face reflected how she felt about being unable to stand against the queen. Jo looked at her with a mix of sorrow and sympathy.
"Sounds a lot like what the guys and I went through," she said as she began the Beetleborg's story.
In the boys' quarters Roland and Drew were telling the same story. Drew provided the introduction. "The Queen of the Crown struck at us too. But what made this different was she had decided to send us someone we had faced before."
Roland spoke next. "We faced a monster called Shadowborg who was basically an evil Beetleborg. Flabber, the phasm that gave us our powers, sensed something returning and knew right away that it was Shadowborg. We borged to go face him but Flabber hoped that we wouldn't have."
"The Queen modified Shadowborg didn't she?" J. B. asked. It was the only thing that made sense. If a villian gave the heroes a run for their money despite being destroyed the best solution usually is to modify the villian so the flaws don't happen again.
The Beetleboys nodded at J. B. 's assumption. "We didn't have a chance," Drew said. "He took our powers and then took us to the prison dimension where Minion set up shop. He turned us over to the Queen so she could drain our life energy."
"Eventually Shadowborg and Minion were destroyed and we were sent back home," Roland said. "But the Queen still wasn't done with us."
"Not by a longshot," Drew added.
"We were out in the forest near Hillhurst," Jo explained. "Josh had come by wanting to check to see if everything was all right due to the temporary return of Shadowborg. It was then the monsters decided they wanted a four-course meal."
"Monsters?" Kaitlin asked in disbelief.
"Yeah if you can believe it. Hillhurst is a haunted house that has a wolfman, a mummy, a vampire, a frankenbeans monster and a little ghoul in the basement. Also there's Flabber, he's the phasm that gave us our powers. " Kaitlin continued to take in Jo's story as did Molly who were still trying to grasp the concept of real monsters in a real haunted house. Jo continued her story.
"Anyway, like I said. The monsters wanted a four course meal with me and the other Beetleborgs as the four courses. We kind of got into our usual chases all around Hillhurst until we were chased outside. I could hear Fangula shouting 'And don't come back!' in the distance. We ran into the forest not aware that they were waiting for us."
"Who are they?" Albee asked.
"New minions of the queen. I didn't really catch who they really were," Ryan said. "They had attacked and quickly overpowered us then they started a fire leaving three body doubles behind to represent Kaitlin, J. B. and me. They had teleported us out and the queen then used smaller versions of her crystals to trap our life forces inside so we could be the power sources to the Psycho Rangers that Biilly Cranston created."
"Sounds like us too," Drew said. "We were overpowered and body doubles were left of us behind as well. We..... " Drew couldn't take it anymore and he had burst into tears. Tears that Ryan Steele, J. B. Reese, Kaitlin Star, Jo McCormick, Roland Williams and Josh Baldwin shared.
"They made us into weapons and I couldn't stop them," Jo cried. "I wasn't strong enough. I wasn't good enough. None of us were. None of us could do anything!"
Molly stood wanting to console the two heroines. Standing in the doorway, Lilith Satana looked in and performed an act that a demoness rarely performed in its lifetime.
She reached out and embraced both Jo and Kaitlin in a group hug. Molly joined in trying to offer whatever strength she could to the two heroines who met with a terrible defeat at the hands of a powerful evil.
Heather Davis stood in the doorway unoticed as the boys told Albee their story. When Drew and Josh went into tears she had consoled both boys as they cried on her shoulders. Unia stood over both Ryan, J. B. and Roland as she placed her hands on Ryan and Roland's shoulders and subconsciously offering her strength to them.
"So the great heroes are human after all," Unia said.
The Syber Squad had a sililar reaction as they broke down in tears as well after telling their story about the Queen of the Crown taking them again and using them to power the rings of the Psycho Rangers. Amp then started to speak trying to reassure his friends.
"I once watched an episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation where Captain Picard went home after he was assimilated by the Borg. He and his brother had fought and after the fight Picard broke down in tears telling that he too couldn't do anything against the Borg. Do you know what he said?"
Sam lifted his head. The redness on his face apparent showing that he had been crying. "What?"
"This will be with you for a long time," Lillith said to the two heroines seated before her. Her hands on their shoulders offering them comfort. "But how you deal with it is up to you."
Jo and Kaitlin looked up at Lillith confused. "What do you mean?" Jo asked.
"What I mean is how are you going to deal with the hand fate had dealt you," Unia said to the boys speaking as if Amp, Lillith and her were in some sort of crazy psychic link as they each said the same speech. "Are you going to deal with it sulking and hiding in offices, and so-called 'safe lives'?"
"Or are you going to deal with it continuing to fight evil as the Super human Samuri Syber Squad?" Amp finished.
Sam Collins looked up to where Zhane, Karone and Amp were looking at them. Syd, Tanker and Lucky followed his lead and looked up as well. "I always did enjoy being Servo I guess," Sam said weakly. "Stopping Kilokhan and all his plans."
"Smashing his megavirus monsters," Tanker added.
"And literally surfin the waves of Cyberspace," Lucky said feeling a little enthusiasm for the old adventures.
"It really made me feel good inside you know. Fighting the good fight. " Zhane muttered under his breath to Karone "I hope it's not the same good fight as the one that 'Steven Richards' dork fights."
"Don't worry. They're not fighting to have us dress like fast-food restaurant managers and tell others to walk talk and think like nerds. " Zhane and Karone both chuckled at Karone's little joke which got confusing looks from the Syber Squad.
"Little joke. You'll get it in four years," Karone had said. Sam however seemed to be in somewhat of a funk despite the good feelings he got from the memories of being Servo.
"But what can we do about Kilokhan now?" Sam asked. "He's got all new power while we only have the main Servo program."
Zhane then came up with an idea and the squad wondered what he had in mind. "I think I know what to do about your powers. But we'll need Doubledealer's help. " The Syber Squad looked at Zhane interested in what he had to offer.
"I'll explain later, but for right now Karone I think we need to charge up Doubledealer," Karone nodded as she and Zhane went upstairs to the garage where Doubledealer sat awaiting the boost of energy from his partners. The Syber Squad, curious about what would happen next followed them.
"So your new body is a mixture of both Hillard and Hart DNA?" Nathan asked Kathy. Kathy nodded and Nathan responded with "How interesting."
"What makes you say that?" Kathy asked.
Nathan took a breath before answering. "My main parents were both Katherine Hillard and Thomas Oliver, but I was infused with the DNA of other rangers as well. Bloodlines run through me starting with the original rangers and beyond. Accounting for years of ranger tradition."
Kathy then asked, "Is Kim Hart's bloodline within you as well?" Nathan nodded yes and Kathy flashed a smile that was reminiscent of her mother Kim.
"So I guess that makes us family in a way huh?". Nathan couldn't help but chuckle at the statement. "Yes I guess it does. As well as Nate's and Natalie's"
"Who are they?" Kathy asked.
"Well, also added into my genetiuc code was the DNA of Trey of Triforia. When circumstances caused for me to separate my three forms they had come out as myself, Nate Hillard and Natalie Revilo. Nate unfortunately received the aspect where a techno-organic virus flooded his system transforming him into a living robot. " Pulling down the collar on the back of his neck he showed the spot where a remnant of the virus lay dormant. Kathy looked on grossed out.
"It must be terrible. Especially for Nate," Kathy said. Nathan nodded that it was.
"So what happened to Natalie?" she later asked. Nathan answered, "She was sent into the future trying to stop future evils from disrupting the time stream. But I always feel her presence."
Kathy smiled and said. "Well it's nice to know some questions can be answered. ". Then she added, "Now if I could only solve my other problem."
"What other problem?" Nathan asked his 'sister'.
Kathy curved her right lip in a sarcastic half-smile before speaking. "Identity crisis. It seems like I'm just going through life not really knowing who I am, or what I'm supposed to do."
"Clarify please," Nathan asked.
Kathy paused before explaining her dilema. "When I was younger, I was supposed to be nothing more than a showpiece in my father's hall. Something to impress the other Luciferian lords when they came to visit or he needed to impress one of them. Sure I learned to fight and trained with the combat masters but it always seemed my role in life was to stand in a corner and look pretty.
"I didn't like that at all. But then an attack came, and I was crushed under the weight of a pillar. I died, kind of. Sure my old body was crushed but my father had a sorceress on hand who prevented my soul from passing on. Then Katherine and Kimberly came into my father's service. Originally they were supposed to be used for... his pleasure," Kathy then flashed Nathan a look that said 'don't ask about details you don't want to know', and Nathan took the hint and didn't ask.
"But father had a different idea. He had his scorcoress Black Annie magically take samples of their DNA as they were... entertaining him and fused them together to create a new body with which my soul was housed in. I took to getting to know my two new mothers and grew to admire them, but then father decided to send me away to a boarding school on another Luciferian world. I'll say straight out I didn't want to go."
Kathy smiled and Nathan smiled as well. "I'll bet you didn't," he said before Kathy spoke again.
"I found my mothers on Iocaste where we had to fight some monsters called the Tek'latha. After that I went to Earth where I joined the Night Rangers due to me being prophesised by Zordon that I would join."
"So what's the problem?" Nathan asked.
Kathy looked at Nathan in amused surprise. "What's my problem? My problem is that it seemed like so much of my life is dictated to me whether by my father, a lord, or some sort of prophesy. It's like I have no direction of my own. Only point and follow. It's like I don't know who I am anymore."
Nathan smiled sympathetically then said, "Well I can right now tell you what you aren't. " You are not a showpiece to your father. You are not an evil spoiled child which was probably what these... Luciferians wanted. And you are definitely not evil.
"You are a creature of goodness who has embraced the gifts the two Pink Rangers have given you. Not only in body, but in heart. When you went into combat what were you the most concerned with?"
"The lives of people under attack," Kathy answered wondering where Nathan was going with his speech.
"Exactly. You have shown that you care for others and that you can't stand to see anyone hurt by monsters that prey on others for the sake of evil or pleasure. You have much love in your soul. Love that is a common trait in all Pink Rangers, as well as the essence of life which exist side by side within the Pink Ranger powers."
"Wow you really seem to know so much," Kathy said. "So tell me, 'Who am I?'"
Nathan grabbed her shoulders as he answered Kathy's question. "You are Katherine Hart. Pink Night Ranger. A warrior who fights for love and life in a world of darkness and vows to protect, guide and nurture those lost in that darkness."
"You make it seem so easy," Kathy said.
"It is," Nathan answered. "When you're in battle, or you see someone in trouble, your true self emerges. And you embrace it. Listen to yourself, even when you're in battle. The whispers of your soul will tell you that I'm right."
"The whispers of the soul?" Kathy asked. "That sounds like something the book of Zordon would say. " Nathan just smiled then turned back to look at the sunset. Kathy then turned and decided to do the same.
In the garage Doubledealer continued to sit waiting for Zhane and Karone to come back from their pig-out so they could fuel Doubledealer, even though the pizzas with the works hadn't arrived yet. "What... took... you... guys so... long?" the Cybertron mercenary asked.
"Hey, you aren't exactly a fuel conservative person you know," Karone said as Zhane transformed into Doubledealer's vehicular mode engine. Doubledealer felt the energy from Zhane fill his circuits as he approached a tolerable power source. Backing out of the garage Doubledealer then transformed into robot mode as Karone transformed into Doubledealer's second engine thus completing the recharge.
Once Doubledealer was back up to power Zhane and Karone told him of their plan for the Syber Squad. "YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS?!!", was his immediate response.
"We're very serious DD. These kids are the only ones who can stop Kilokhan on equal footing. They've had experience fighting him before and they know how to handle him now," Karone said.
"But in order for that to happen they need to undergo the budding process," Zhane added. The squad looked up wondering what Zhane, Karone and Doubledealer were talking about.
"Budding process?" Sam asked. "They don't mean that same budding process you mentioned right Amp?"
"I think I see where you guys are going," Amp said to Doubledealer, Zhane and Karone. "You want us to use the Servo program to download ourselves into your metal frame and once there we merge our energy with that of the five buds you will release. We come out in new Cybertronian bodies ready to fight Kilokhan."
"That's what these two yayhoos have in mind," Doubledealer said. "And it's something I ain't about to do."
"Besides, what would happen to us if we did undergo this process?" Syd asked. "We won't be human anymore."
"Not exactly," Zhane added. "The Servo program has transformation capabilities inside, albeit limited ones in regard to Servo."
"Which means the program won't be enough to make these kids human again if they join with the process. How praytell do you plan to do that? Let alone deal with the swarm molecules that will escape?"
"Oh I thought we could put two and two together," Zhane said. "Much like Kilokhan used his power to reformat the swarm molecules, the Servo program could reformat the swarm molecules to serve as transformation circuits so the kids can go back and forth between human and Cybertron modes."
Doubledealer thought long and hard about the wild idea of his two partners. "I don't like this you know."
"I know," Karone said. "But it may be the kids' only chance against Kilokhan and his new army."
Doubledealer then turned to the five members of the former Superhuman Samuri Syber Squad and asked, "Well? What do you think about this?"
The kids talked amongst themselves for a few minutes as they discussed the risks and what might possibly happen if they did, and didn't undergo the process. If they did, then the possibility of going against another Queen of the Crown like villian was likely. If they didn't Kilokhan could run across Earth unopposed.
Finally after much deliberation Sam turned to look up at Doubledealer, Zhane and Karone and said. "We'll do it! All of us!"
Doubledealer sighed and said, "Don't say I didn't warn you."----