Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers. They belong to whoever owns the copyright. A great deal of this chapter came from an episode of Lightspeed Rescue and I thank Jesse at PRSW for providing such a detailed synopsis.
Author's Note: Steph was the Purple Lightspeed Ranger introduce in Entering Lightspeed and killed off in The Emperor's New Rage. Obviously her death affected Lightspeed and her fellow Rangers. The way they are treating Nancy is out of character to the show, but hopefully understandable (never justifiable). Oh and yes I realise Kelsey is channeling just a little more Sky Tate than I would like.
Mariner Bay 8 April 1998
"The balance of life and death now tips, victim to killer, the veil rips..."
As Curszer continued to chant, the rotten remains he had stolen from the cemetery glowed. In just a week he had managed to partially restore the corpse to a more human form. The daily rituals and soaking of the remains in freshly collected blood had reversed the decay. Another week and he would be ready to start the more difficult task of bringing it back to life.
Miss Fairweather and her team were growing frustrated. They had been tasked with repairing the damaged chest and lower body of the Rescue Megazord, but after days of trying they had no idea how they would accomplish such a feat. The body was mangled, burnt and missing key components. The interlocks that held the two section together could not be released and forcing the separation would likely destroy any chance they had of ever joining together again.
"And even if we could separate them we will not gain anything," the technician said, continuing her report. "The internal mechanisms had been damaged beyond repair. We have no way to shift either of them into a standard or humanoid form. I would recommend starting with a new design."
Fairweather nodded in agreement. Her assessment of the damage the Zords had suffered had suggested the same thing. Building new Zords though would take time, something that Lightspeed did not have. At least it was a better option than no Zords at all. She was under no illusions that the needs of Angel Grove would always come first where the hybrid Megazord was concerned.
Mount Jasmine silently overlooked the quiet countryside, a good many miles away from Mariner Bay. At one time the mountain had been deemed extinct, but the release of the demons that now threatened Mariner Bay had caused disruption to the volcano and plate activity throughout the region. Mount Jasmine was a greater risk because the volcano had been mined as part of a government project. There was a good chance that should the volcano erupt, the existing rock structure would be blown aside resulting in a larger eruption.
Stopping the volcano would be impossible. However it was hoped that given time they could find a way to divert any lava flows away from the city. The first step in such an undertaking was knowing when the volcano would erupt. A task Dana had been assigned to oversee. Her team had laboured hard to produce the monitoring equipment, but fitting it to the volcano was outside of their comfort zone and their pay grade. As a Ranger they had been keen to point out that she was the most suited person for the job.
That was why Dana was present as Miss Fairweather vented her frustration for the third time that morning about the futility of trying to repair the Zords. While the scientist was occupied, Dana was running the final configuration of her detector through the testing system.
"Impressive," Miss Fairweather said as she walked over to where Dana was working. Dana hadn't even realised that she had been noticed. "May I?"
Dana cheerfully handed over the box, pleased to get the opinion of Lightspeed's best scientist.
"Very well made," Fairweather agreed after studying the seals along the side of the box. "You should be able to leave this there for a year before removing it for servicing."
"In which time it might not be needed," Dana agreed. "I plan to head out to Mount Jasmine later and place it inside one of the service tunnels. That should be enough to keep the engineers safe while the disassemble their workings. Just as soon as Carter and the others get back."
It had been a fun morning for Kelsey, Chad, Carter and Joel. It had not been so much fun for Nancy, Lightspeed's Ranger-in-training. The three male Rangers had been drilling her hard while Kelsey had been shouting instructions. The four of them were determined that when Nancy was given her powers she would be more than a suitable replacement for Stephanie. They had lost one Ranger in the line of duty and refused to lose another. Unfortunately in their eagerness to ensure that Nancy was fully trained, they hadn't realise how harsh her training sessions had become. Or how close Nancy had come to quitting.
"One more time round the park and then you can have a break," Kelsey promised.
With a sigh Nancy set off to complete the task while the others had their lunch.
"Unless we finish eating first," Joel added causing the Rangers to laugh.
Just then Carter's Rescue Morpher commlink sounded.
"When are you guys going to be back at the Aquabase so I can take the Rover to the volcano?"
"That'll be after I've finished my hotdog," Joel answered. "I've starving. All this training is hard work."
"Right Joel, whatever," Dana replied, her amusement obvious. "I'll find my own way. See you later."
Garth Nelson had spent the morning alone. The Demon Hunter had managed to fit in with his Ranger allies, but still found it difficult to socialise. The modifications carried out to turn him into a cybernetic warrior had damaged some parts of his mind. Although a lack of proper social interaction during and before the many procedures he had endured were also to blame. The processor installed in his skull added to the problem since its insistence on offering advice on what to say made spontaneous replies almost impossible.
Training on his own though was something he excelled at. He had discovered after working with Lightspeed's technicians for a few weeks that even he didn't know the full capabilities of the Techno Warrior System. He had been programmed to know how to use his Techno Blaster and Techno Sword, but there were a myriad of other weapons at his disposal that he was having to learn to operate. And given how destructive some of those weapons had proven, it had been agreed that it was better for Garth to practice on his own, preferably in one of the Aquabase's testing vaults.
So while Dana was debating how she would journey to Mount Jasmine, Garth was unavailable to join her. Had he been Dana might have been able to justify the massive pile of paperwork it would take to borrow one of the Lightspeed Cycles. Instead she decided to have a little fun and enjoy the thrills of public transport.
Away from the Aquabase, somebody else had their eye on Mount Jasmine. Long ago when the demons had ruled the Earth, a dormant volcano had been a rare occurrence. The demons had fed on the lava and used it to shape the world to their needs. They had used it as a weapon again their enemies. In their absence though the Earth had grown tame, allowing the infestation of humans.
"Using the planet to destroy the humans would surely please Queen Bansheera," Diabolico mused.
It was true that humans were not strong enough to handle the raw power that lurked beneath the surface of their world. Human structures could be easily blown away, unlike the magnificent demon creations that had been a part of the planet. He ignored the fact that Queen Bansheera's own palace had for all its greatness, simply vanished.
"And since the volcano is already there we won't need to waste power creating one," Loki tried to point out helpfully.
Yes all they needed was a way to restore the dormant volcano to its former glory.
"And Impus has a plan that will allow us to use the first eruption to destroy Mariner Bay," Jinxer added, interpreting the baby's gurgles.
"About time the little pest made himself useful," Diabolico responded before remembering that this was Queen Bansheera's son he was talking about. "Proceed!"
"Yes Diabolico, I have just the monster for the job," Jinxer bowed before throwing a card into the mouth of a nearby statue. "From all three heads to its pinkie toe, make me a monster with lava flow!"
A three headed dog creature appeared before them, something that pleased Diabolico. Such a creature would destroy the solidified lava, allowing the volcano to erupt once more.
"Good work Jinxer," Queen Bansheera said as she revealed her presence. Since she had restored contact with her underlings, she had managed to keep at least a part of her consciousness there. "Trifire, awaken the volcano with your fiery breathe!"
Mount Jasmine was a good eighty miles from Mariner Bay, which meant that Dana had needed to change buses. Eventually it arrived and she stood cheerfully breathing in the fresh air around her as she stretched. She boarded the bus that was marked as stopping in a town close to Mount Jasmine where she would need to proceed on foot. Once all the passengers were on board, the bus pulled away.
With Batlings scouting outside on the snowy rocks, Trifire entered a cave within the side of Mount Jasmine and headed for the core of the volcano. The humans had tunnelled their way through the rock, making his journey to the core quick and without obstacle. He was soon at a place where he could start to get things shaking by turning up the heat. He unleashed a squall of fire from his mouth into the magma centre of the mountain. The cooled rock was obliterated by the flame.
Over in the Aquabase, Miss Fairweather informed Captain Mitchell that the instruments were picking up seismic activity in the entire area, and that for some reason the volcano was heating up. Several computer-graphics appeared on the monitors in the main Command room.
"How could this happen so fast?" Captain Mitchell asked.
"It couldn't," Fairweather replied. "Even with the recent increase in activity we should have been looking at a three to four year timeframe before any major eruptions. The only way it could happen like this is if something is helping it."
"Diabolico," Captain Mitchell said quietly. "The demons were bound to take advantage of the opportunity. We're going to need a ran to shut that volcano down."
Unfortunately for Dana, the bus she had been travelling on had been caught in the first tremors. Since the road forced the bus to travel close to the base of the volcano, the shaking had thrown the passengers around. Unfortunately the road was far too narrow to u-turn so the driver was forced to press on.
"Dana, return to the Aqua Base. We have reports of seismic activity have reports of seismic activity in your area," Captain Mitchell called over the commlink.
Unfortunately Dana was in no position to answer as another tremor forced the bus into the side of the bridge they were crossing. One of the passengers had not been so lucky and had fallen outside the door. He was barely holding on as Dana grabbed his hand. He weighed about twice as much as she did. Even with help from the other passengers it was not easy, especially since the bus had started to slide over the edge.
Chad, Kelsey, Carter and Joel finally arrived back at the Aqua Base as Captain Mitchell tried to contact Dana. Nancy had accompanied them despite Kelsey's insistence that she was not ready, and Garth had ended his training session when the alarms had sounded, ready to help out if needed. Unfortunately all attempts to contact Dana had failed.
"A Lightspeed Ranger is on the scene and likely in peril," Mitchell announced, making certain that an aide was noting his words. "Under the circumstances I am declaring this a Lightspeed Rescue."
As soon as his words were recorded, the mission was authorised. Technicians and other personnel moved to prepare their stations to help the Rangers.
"Rangers, you will find whatever is causing that volcano to erupt and stop it," Mitchell ordered. "Nancy and Garth, I want you two to locate Dana and then remove any civilians."
"But sir, Nancy is not ready for this!" Kelsey complained.
"Yeah we've been teaching her everything we know, but she's just not up to standard yet," Joel added.
"You four have your orders," Mitchell told them, ignoring the complaints. "Move out!"
Sensibly the Rangers left without a word.
"Nancy, I know what the Rangers have been trying to do. And I know what they have likely been doing," Captain Mitchell told her. "When this mission is over I will be speaking to them. For now I want you and Garth to concentrate on finding Dana and getting any civilians to safety. Do not engage the enemy unless you have to."
"Yes Sir!" Nancy answered.
"Garth, you are authorised to use any means to keep Nancy, Dana and any civilians alive," he added.
"How will we get there?" Nancy asked.
"Use one of the small Rescue Vehicles," Mitchell answered.
As he spoke the technicians were already programming the vehicle in question. Using Lightspeed technology they were about to almost throw the car at high speed down the roads of Mariner Bay. The on board computer once given a route could execute the turn safety even at speed, allowing the car to reach its destination in a short time. With a squeal of tires they were off.
As the Rangers sped toward the volcano and Garth and Nancy raced to find the trapped bus, Dana had managed to haul the unfortunate passenger back toward the bus. But another quake ripped through the bridge, shaking up the bus and sending it slipping slowly over the side.
"Everybody get to the back or we're gonna go over!" the driver yelled.
The passengers obeyed, shifting the weight toward the back of the vehicle, shifting their mass on the road side of the pivot point.
"Please don't let go," the stranded passenger begged.
"I won't," Dana promised although she realised that when the bus moved she had lost he footing and was in danger of being dragged out of the door too.
That was when she noticed that somebody had grabbed her. A female passenger had realised the danger and was trying to help. The woman's husband had grabbed his wife and the bus driver had grabbed hold of him. Together they formed a chain that helped hold Dana in place. Although by staying near the front they were causing the bus to tip.
Inside Mount Jasmine, Trifire had succeeded in releasing the lava from the core of the once-dormant volcano and had sat back to watch the magma flow and destroy Mariner Bay. He was gleeful when he noticed how there was a bus about to plummet from the nearby bridge. It was a sign that this plan would succeed. At least in his mind it was.
The combined effort worked and the unfortunate passenger was saved. Dana allowed herself a sigh of relief, even though the tremors had not stopped and they were far from safe. A sudden tremor sent the driver tumbling as the bus slid further toward the edge. That was when Garth and Nancy arrived. While the former shuttle pilot readied the vehicle to pull, Garth latched a heavy cable to the bus' axle. At his signal, Nancy gunned the engine and the bus was slow pulled to safety.
However it appeared that the demons were not content to let the humans go, as some of the Batlings that had been guarding the volcano, appeared on the bridge.
"You need to go and help the others," Nancy told Dana as she took up position next to Garth. "We'll handle things here."
Dana appeared to want to argue, but another tremor reminded her that they were on a mission and now was not the time.
"Activate!" Garth had found that his armour responded to many different commands. Mostly that was because it was activated mentally and not through words. He just chose to verbalise his instructions. He looked over to where Nancy had assumed a fighting stand and smiled. Unlike the others he had not allowed any attachment to Steph to cloud his judgement where Nancy was concerned. The Purple Lightspeed Ranger had died in battle and further training could have helped prevent her death, but he recognised that Nancy was easily at the same level the other Rangers had reached at the time they had fought Lord Zedd. "Here," he said, offering her a spare sword. He had no doubt with would do more for her safety than being forced to fight unarmed.
For Nancy this was the opportunity to prove herself. She knew that the Rangers meant well, but it had also become clear that what had started out as a desire to keep her safe had turned into a source of amusement for the others. Kelsey's comments to Captain Mitchell had been especially hurtful, since their commanding officer had never suggested that she was a cadet or their trainee. So given the opportunity, she threw herself into combat, calling on all the skills she had learnt during her military career and the few things she had actually learnt from the Rangers.
Garth and Nancy made a good team. Garth's computer enhanced senses made him a perfect shot, while Nancy was capable of hitting what she aimed for, but was not as precise. With a sword though she extremely capable of striking the Batlings before they could reach her. And together they soon had the minor demons retreating.
With the Batlings gone, it was time to get the bus on its way to safety. The only problem appeared to be the driver had broken his arm when he had fallen earlier.
"I'll drive the bus, you clear the way," Nancy told Garth. At his surprised look she just shrugged and mentioned that she was trained to be able to pilot almost anything. Even buses.
With little option, Garth nodded and climbed back into the Rescue Vehicle and set off, leading the bus to safety.
Pink Lightspeed joined the others at the cave entrance. She had remembered the device she had intended to plant there and after checking it, confirmed that the readings were not natural. Something was causing the the volcanic activity. The Rangers rushed into the cave, and found the creature behind the disturbance of the molten rock standing right before them. Instinctively, the five whipped out their Rescue Blasters and fired. Trifire just soaked up the laserfire and barrelled right into Red Ranger, knocking him back out of the cave. The team regrouped with him outside.
"Say goodbye to your precious city," Trifire told them before blasting them with a flame attack.
The Rangers dived to avoid it and Yellow Ranger leapt for the monster only to get blown back by his fire attack.
"Are you okay?" Blue Lightspeed asked.
"I'm fine!" she answered. "Now I know how a burnt marshmallow feels."
"Girl, you are crazier than I thought," Green Lightspeed remarked.
"Crazy or not, there is no way we can get close to that thing unless we can put its flame out," Blue Lightspeed warned.
Fortunately Red Lightspeed had the answer in the form of his Rescue Blaster and a piece of the Rescuebird. Although they had not used it very often, the Rescuebird contained the many small tools they needed to carry out their missions. Together, he and Pink Ranger rushed at Trifire, Dana firing her Blaster at the creature while Carter ran behind her. When Trifire coughed up some flames, Red Ranger aimed his Rescue Extinguisher at it and fired.
With Garth leading the way, Nancy drove the bus to safety, turning the vehicle in time to balls of lava that spewed from the top of the volcano.
"You're pretty good at this," the injured driver said as she swerved to avoid a rock.
"Thanks," Nancy replied, braking as a large boulder rolled in front of them, before putting the gas pedal down to catch up with the other vehicle.
Garth had managed to clear the road ahead of obstructions and after a few narrow escapes. the bus and its passengers were safe. At least until the volcano erupted and covered them and the nearby city with lava.
Red Ranger clogged up Trifire's throat with a constant spray of cold mist. Once that was done, he summoned the rest of the Rescuebird components from where they were stored in the Rescue Rover. Combined together to form the Unilaser. With his teammates acting as a brace, he fired the Unilaser at Trifire, creating a big explosion. Before the Rangers could celebrate though, a card struck the multi-chunks of barbecued meat.
"Volcano smoke and lava flow, make the Trifire monster grow!" Jinxer's voice echoed around them as Trifire's remains turned into bats that flocked together and recreated the monster in giant form.
"Good thing Captain Mitchell dispatched the Megazord the same time we left," Green Lightspeed commented.
The might machine had almost reached them as the giant monster had appeared. The sight of the Megazord caught its attention, causing it to attack and saving the Rangers from having to wait for it to arrive. Instead they teleported aboard. Under the shine of the sun, the Megazord and Trifire duked it out. The monster bites down on the Megazord's arm using its centre head, but got punched away by the fist of the opposite arm.
Trifire's turned his flame breath on the Megazord. The Megazord responded by unleashing a water blast from its should cannons. With the monster doused, the Rangers decided to finish him, unloading with the Megazord's artillery power. The Megazord opened fire and then turned away victoriously as the monster found he was unable to take the heat, and spontaneously combusted into a cloud of smoke.
"Mission accomplished!" Red Lightspeed proclaimed as the Megazord stood victorious.
Inside Skull Cavern, Queen Bansheera's looked down on her servants, as she boasted that this world would be hers.
"Of course Queen Bansheera," Diabolico agreed, "What they should do?"
"Nothing," the demon queen answered. "It has already been done."
"I want to know what the four of you think you're doing," Captain Mitchell said as he looked at his Rangers. "I want to know why you felt that you could order Nancy around, or what made you think you had any authority to deal with her training."
Captain Mitchell had not been pleased when he had found out the extent of his team's actions. As far as he was concerned when Nancy had been offered the position she had been ready for the role. Any training she had needed had been a matter of teaching her how to use their equipment and powers. He had certainly not expected them to treat her like a raw recruit. In many ways Nancy had more training than the Rangers.
"We just wanted her to be ready, Sir," Carter answered. "We lost Steph and didn't want to lose somebody else."
"If we have to have another teammate, we want her to up to the job," Kelsey added.
"And I think that is the problem," Captain Mitchell told them. "I don't think any of you want her to join the team and that you have gone out of your way to make her life miserable, hoping she would quit."
The Rangers wanted to deny it, but there was a part of them that acknowledged that they were comfortable with just five Rangers. The idea of a sixth member of the team made them uncomfortable. Even Garth was kept at a distance, something that was made easier by his lack of social skills.
"We don't need a sixth Ranger," Joel said, speaking on behalf of his teammates.
"Nancy's nice, but she's not a part of this," Kelsey added.
Captain Mitchell sighed. "That is not and never has been your decision to make. I decide how many Rangers there are, not you. I've never been so disappointed in you five. Dismissed."
He knew he would have to think about their words. Mariner Bay needed the Lightspeed Rangers and he could not replace them. So ultimately he would have to back down on this matter. But that did not mean that he liked it. And from the look he had seen on Nancy's face as she had overheard the conversation, neither did she.
Deep within Mount Jasmine a pair of crimson eyes glowed. They belonged to a monster that had rested their since Queen Bansheera had ruled the planet. Triskull had awakened it. And now Magmavore would emerge.
End of Part