Part 6

Dana Mitchell sat in a waiting room looking at the indicator before her. The signal seemed to come from somewhere beneath the campus, but that wasn’t the only strange thing she saw. According to the indicator there was a stronger signal coming towards the campus itself. What is this? , Dana asked herself. Another Matrix signal? Or the Matrix itself?

Dana was shaken out of her thoughts when a receptionist came forward with a brown haired woman who looked to be in her late 30’s early 40’s, little did Dana know she was much older than that. Her face showed a keen intellect but there was also a sense of ruthlessness to her that made Dana a little uneasy. “Miss Mitchell?” the receptionist said. “I’d like you to meet Dr. Ranitime. Head of the Ranitime Corporation and Headmistress of Arcadia Academy.”

Ranitime, or rather the Rani, offered her hand to Dana who shook it albeit a little hesitantly. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Miss Mitchell. Now may I ask what brings you to Arcadia Academy?”

Dana decided not to tell her about the Matrix Quest. She did not have a good feeling about Ranitime, and thought telling her about the matrix was not in the best interest of everybody so she said, “I’m looking around at medical schools. I’m a member of Lightspeed Rescue, but I don’t intend to stay there forever. I’m thinking of going away to college and I want to explore my options.”

The Rani smiled. “Well that’s all good and noble. Perhaps we can show you around our humble establishment. I’ll have one of our student guides show you around.” Rani then disapeared into her office to seemingly make a phone call to a student tour guide. Instead she called the special projects department where she spoke to the director.

“What do the scans indicate?” Rani asked.

“Scans come out as a natural pink, but she does have a trace of red within her,” the voice responded.

“Good,” Rani said. “Send out someone under the guise of showing her around campus. When the time is right bring her down to special projects.” Rani then hung up the phone and went back out to where Dana was waiting.

“A student guide is on their way,” Rani said in her welcoming smile. “I hope you’ll enjoy your tour here. Arcadia Academy has many opportunities you can explore.

“Opportunities is why I’m here,” Dana said just as a brown haired young boy of about seventeen came out of the elevator. Rani then introduced the girl to Dana. “This is Lita Skyler. She will be your guide.”

“Pleasure to meet you,” Lita said offering her hand to Dana. “Shall we begin the tour?”

Dana agreed and she and Lita left the main office to look at the campus. Rani and the receptionist were left alone. “Is the program holding?”

“Yes Dr. Ranitime. The program is still holding,” the receptionist answered.

“See that it does. I’d hate for our reputation to be sullied due to incompetence,” Rani then turned to her office and activated a personal viewer. Lita was already beginning the tour with the medical wing.

Such promise in the young. , the Rani thought. Such promise they can provide me

At the Ziktor industries cold fusion plant Ryan, J. B. , Parker and Kaitlin were working on the download of the computer files from the terminal sending them to the V. R. Trooper lab for analysis. “Kaitlin, I have completed my analysis,” Professor Hart called on the communicator.

“What have you found out Professor?” Ryan asked.

“Well apparently this so-called ‘cold fusion plant’ isn’t a cold fusion plant at all. Rather it’s a great big generator designed to tap into the Virtual Grid and supply power to something I have yet to determine,” Professor Hart said.

“It will take some time for me to figure out where this power is going. There are a lot of computer encryptions that I have to crack first. Leave the communicator connected to the I/O port. I will be able to continue monitoring there.” Ryan, Kaitlin and J. B. nodded and Ryan said “Okay professor keep us informed.” before signing off.

“I don’t get it. What would Ziktor be doing with a virtual tap?” J. B. asked.

Kaitlin had a thought. “You know, we found out Grimlord has a human identity but we weren’t sure who it was. Could it be possible that Grimlord has some connection to Ziktor Industries?”

“What, you’re saying Grimlord is someone who works at Ziktor Industries?” Parker asked.

“Or it could be Ziktor himself,” Ryan said. “I think maybe we should put Ziktor on a 24/7 watch.” Pulling out his VR Communicator Ryan called Professor Hart. “Professor can you monitor any and all VR signals from Ziktor industries? We seem to think Ziktor may have something to do with Grimlord.”

“No problem Ryan. In fact I’ve just broken through some of the encryptions already,” Hart said. “And some of these circuit paths lead into the Z. I. central mainframe.” The troopers and Parker shared a look saying ‘whoa this is deep’ when Hart spoke again.

“There are some watchdogs guarding the database. I’ll have to pull out for now. Disconnect the VR communicator from the I/O port and get out of there.” J. B. did so and all four made tracks just as the siren went off.

“Intruder alarm!” Ryan shouted as the whole plant started filling up with gas. “We’ve got to get out quick!” The troopers and Parker headed for the exit they came in but was locked all of a sudden. J. B. tried another and the door was locked there too. “I’d say it’s a safe bet that we’re locked in don’t you?” Parker said reflecting his sister’s wry sense of humor.

“I guess we’ll just have to make our own door then!” Ryan said. He fingered the virtualizer on his neck before calling out “TROOPER TRANSFORM!”

“WE ARE VR!!!” Blue Trooper stood with his blaster drawn at the door knob but it did not do any damage when he fired. Black and White Trooper combined their firepower but still it didn’t work.

“We’ve got to do something fast,” Black Trooper said looking over at Parker who was already coughing and hacking as the gas started to take effect on him. White Trooper had an idea and called out the doubleteam command.

“VR DOUBLETEAM COMMAND NOW!!!” and where one White stood now stood two. All four joined their blasters at the doorknob and it showed signs of weakening. All it needed was one more touch which Black Trooper delivered.

“LASER LANCE COMMAND NOW!!!” Black Trooper then thrust the lance forward shattering the door knob and allowing the troopers and Parker to escape. The two White Troopers had to carry Parker out, and when everyone got far enough away the whole factory exploded in a tremendous fireball throwing the troopers and Parker to the ground.

When the troopers got back up they all called out “Retroform command now!” and they all changed back. White Trooper 2 went back to the VR buffer where she stayed while not in use. The security guard came running up as a nervous nelly. “Oh my dear lord. Are you kids all right?”

“Yes sir we’re fine,” Ryan said as he and the others dusted themselves off. The guard had called the paramedics and he insisted they be checked out. In no mood to argue the troopers and Parker were checked out by EMT’s. After clean bills of health Parker checked back up on Ryan, Kaitlin and J. B.

“You get the feeling that our friend at Ziktor’s is getting more than a little worried?” Parker asked.

“Yeah, I’d say so,” agreed Ryan.

“Which means we need to find out who our mystery friend at Ziktor’s is, and we need to find out soon,” J. B. added, and everyone agreed.

“You know, for three people who say they aren’t VR Troopers anymore you sure could have fooled me,” Parker had said. The Troopers said nothing as they went back to Kaitlin’s car and Ryan and J. B. ‘s bikes. Parker followed and rode back to Crossworld in Kaitlin’s car.

“Mr. Ziktor, the troopers have escaped your plant,” one of Ziktor’s secretaries had said. Ziktor looked as if he was ready to blow a blood vessel.

“You mean I send Doommaster and a Virtual Demon, booby trap a factory and they still escape?” The secretary then cleared her throat. Ziktor was clearly not going to like what was said next.

“They had also managed to access part of the industry mainframe. It is possible they may know of a connection between Ziktor Industries and Grimlord.”

Ziktor then screamed bloody murder as he then threw his office chair through the window. It plummeted all the way down to the bottom where EVERYBODY had the good sense to get out of the way. Back in his office Ziktor was trying to regain his composure. His identity as Grimlord was in serious danger of being compromised. The troopers would be watching his building for even the slightest hint of Grimlord’s connection to Ziktor.

“Get someone to fix my window, and get me a replacement chair,” Ziktor ordered. “I have to think about this.” The receptionist left leaving Ziktor alone. Hnnnnhhhhh!!! I must stop Ryan Steele before he discovers my identity. He’s already too close as it is. , he thought. Then his private line indicated a call, from a woman who made even Grimlord shudder. Activating his viewer he turned to face the person before him.

“Ahh, Dr. Ranitime it’s so good to see you,” Ziktor said with his usual charm. Ranitime nodded returning Ziktor’s greeting.

“I’m sorry those three ‘students’ I ‘recommended’ didn’t work out like I had hoped,” Ziktor said. “It seems your ‘lessons’ took to them quite well though.”

“Lessons the VR Troopers are rapidly unlearning so it would seem,” the Rani answered. “It truly is an unerving experience.”

“Yes,” Ziktor answered. “Try to teach the children of the world what’s right for them and they go and turn those lessons against you.”

“Perhaps we should discuss a re-education plan?” the Rani asked. Ziktor’s lips curved into a smile. “That would be wonderful,” Ziktor said.

“Then shall we meet on the Dark fortress right away? The sooner we begin discussing strategies the sooner we can ‘re-educate’ our problem children.”

Ziktor signed off and looked down at the crystal on his desk. He realized the consequences of using it again would most likely be the VR Troopers finding out that Ziktor is Grimlord. But if the Troopers ever did find out Ziktor’s identity then he’d rather face them as Grimlord instead of as Karl Ziktor.

“FORCES OF DARKNESS EMPOWER ME! TAKE ME BACK TO MY VIRTUAL REALITY!!” Ziktor transformed into Grimlord and transported to the Dark Fortress where Doommaster, Despara and the Vixens awaited.

“Hail Grimlord. Lord and ruler of..,” their praising of Grimlord was broken by the appearance of the Rani on the viewer in Grimlord’s chamber. “I hope you don’t mind the interruption. I’ve never been one for formality, unless it’s placed in my direction.”

“Not at all Rani not at all,” Grimlord had said. “I trust your input into the problem of the Troopers will be of great value?”

“As a matter of fact Grimlord, I do,” the Rani had said. “I trust you remember our old friend the Queen of the Crown?”

Grimlord then uttered a soft evil chuckle at the thought of the Queen stepping into the ordeal. “Yes Rani. Perhaps it would be a good time if the Queen had put in an appearance.”

Dana was still being shown around by Lita. “So what brings you here?” she asked.

“It was my parents idea,” Lita said. “They thought it would be a good idea if I went to school overseas.”

“Broaden your horizons?” Dana asked.

“Yeah,” Lita sighed for a moment before speaking again. “We had some… disagreements which compelled them to decide for me to leave home and come to school here.”

Dana was listening to Lita as she looked at the Matrix indicator as she saw the two signals start to converge towards the main auditorium. “What’s over there?” Dana asked Lita.

“Not much. Just the usual arena and gym,” Dana asked if she could check it out and Lita said it was okay. Lita mysteriously hung back as Dana crosed the grounds to the arena. But as she crossed the middle of the grounds figures in armor had come out of hiding armed with shocksticks and tranquilizer guns. Dana looked around not finding a way of escape so she decided to fight her way out. Getting into a fighting stance she waited for the armored guards to make their first move.

One guard lunged at her with a shockstick which Dana had dodged and allowed her to deliver a side kick right into his stomach. Others had tried to deliver their sticks as well but Dana had managed to hold them off. One tried to bring his tranquilizer gun to bear on her but Dana kicked it out of the guard’s hand and it landed at Lita’s feet. Lita stared at the gun as if contemplating what to do next. She then slowly knelt down and picked up the weapon looking at it.

Dana however kept fighting. She seemed close to taking down all the guards as she silently thanked her father for all the training corses she went through at Lightspeed. Then, she felt a hard jab in the back of her neck and she felt herself getting dizzy and her vision became blurred. Turning around she saw Lita holding the tranquilizer gun. Her eyes black and seemingly vacant.

With the last of her strength Dana pulled out the tranquilizer dart Lita had shot her with. The sight of it was the last thing she saw before she fell unconscious. The surviving guards put a net over her and proceeded to take Dana away to one of the ‘special sections’ that were mentioned.

Dr. Ranitime held Lita close as Dana was being taken away. “You did good Miss Skyler. I think you’ll continue to do good if you remember to always obey your superiors.”

After the completion of those last four words Lita zoned out and nodded. Rani ordered Lita back to her room. “Mrs. Skyler will arrive soon. You and her will be going back home soon enough.”

Lita nodded and headed for the dorms. Won’t her parents be surprised when they see their daughter again? , she thought evilly.

The Morphin and Zeo Rangers demorphed as they teleported into the Power Chamber. Tommy caught an eye towards Carter Grayson and immediately asked who he was.

“He is a ranger from an alternate reality,” Zordon explained. “He is here to find an artifact of great power in hopes of neutralizing an interdimensional menace.”

“What menace is that?” Samantha asked.

Carter explained. “They are called ‘The Order of Destruction’. They are led by a group of Evil creatures looking to destroy your reality and all the other realities with them. The artifact I’m serching for was called the Matrix of Spirit. It’s one of seven artifacts that can stand up to the Order’s evil.”

“Why were you looking for it in Angel Grove Park?” Adam asked.

“It was one of seven locations where signals were detected,” the Doctor then said. “I have looked through the scans and determined what these areas have in common. They are all connected to Ley Nexus’s”

“What? Billy said surprised as he looked over the results. Carter was confused however. “What’s a ley nexus?”

“A ley nexus is where the laws of probability and magic intersect. They are sites of great power where anything can be, and is, possible,” Zordon explained. “Angel Grove Park is one such nexus.”

“Which is why the putties, monsters and tengas are all attracted there,” Billy said. “They are drawn to the power of the nexus’s.”

“It might also be possible that whoever had possesed this ‘matrix’ beforehand was drawn to these nexus’s leaving signals of it’s power behind,” the Doctor said. “Which is why you and your friends had to search seven different sites.”

“Well can you determine if the park is where the matrix is?” Carter asked. Billy and the Doctor were already on that as they began scanning the ground beneath Angel Grove park. With Alpha’s assistance hey were able to determine that there was nothing at the site. “Dry well I’m afraid,” Billy said.

“We might as well check the other sites as well,” the Doctor said as he asked Carter for the co-ordinates of the previous sites. They looked to find that the other co-ordinates led to ley nexus’s also. While the other rangers looked at the discovery Kat looked around to see where Ranger Nathan Oliver dissapeared to. “Does anyone know where Nathan made off to?” Kat asked.

“He said he had a call to attend to but that he would be back before long,” Alpha answered. Just then the alert siren went off and Alpha looked at the viewing globe.

“Ai, yi, yi. It’s Prince Dex,” Alpha said making reference to the Prince of Edenoi. Aisha asked what he was doing.

“He is in a region of Earth where the pollen plants reside. Atop the mountain of madness,” Zordon answered. “If he is there then he must have a need of its healing properties.”

“That’s not all that’s there,” Richie said. “Look!” Dregon’s spider base headed towards the jungle where Dex was. “With Dregon looking to claim the Masked Rider powers for himself no doubt,” Aisha added.

“If Dregon’s there then that’s not good,” Rocky said.

“It may get worse Rocky,” Zordon said. “There are many stories behind the mountain of madness. For those who climb it must also confront their own demons as well. None that we know of has ever survived such a climb.”

Dex climbed the mountain of madness hoping to reach the pollen plant that would hopefully cure Lillith of the poison in her system.

“Have to keep going,” Dex thought out loud. “Have to find the pollen plants.” Dex continued on until he heard hoof beats coming down the mountain. Ducking down into a nearby ditch Dex stuck his head up to see who was coming down the mountain. He could not believe his eyes when he saw it was the Plague Patrol from Edenoi.

“Masked Rider,” the lead patroller announced. “I have your friends.” Dex turned to see Dex’s childhood friends and fellow freedom fighters Doneais and Sharana chained standing in the middle of the horse caravan. All bound and chained.

“Now come out and surrender the Masked Rider powers to Count Dregon and we shall let your friends live,” the lead patroller announced. “And as a bonus we shall help you find the pollen you need for your friend.”

Dex walked out facing the plague patrollers. “I will never let you take the Masked Rider powers. Dregon would only use them for destruction and subjugation of countless worlds-including Edenoi.”

“Well then I guess the choice is obvious. Your friends or the universe,” the plague patroller ordered. Dex looked at his two rebel friends-especially Doneais with whom he had been friends with since childhood. All of them having a look saying ‘Don’t do it Dex!’ in their eyes.

The plague patroller spoke again. “And as an added bonus-I will ensure that your family is protected from harm.” The patroller waved his hand and an image of the Stewart’s and King Lexian appeared. “But if you decide to keep the powers then they too will feel the wrath of Dregon as well.

My friends, my family. , Dex thought. All I have to do is give up the powers and they’d be safe forever even though the universe would fall to Dregon. But if I keep them then I doom them and save the universe. Dex seemed torn between the choice of his friends and millions he didn’t know and couldn’t even picture what they looked like. But then he realized that there really was no choice at all.

“Neither option is acceptable!” Dex shouted as he hade a jump high into the air knocking the plague patroller off of his feet with a drop kick then pulled down the other patroller’s mounts slamming them to the ground hard. Dex then stood facing his adversaries.

“ECTOPHASE ACTIVATE!!!” he shouted and Masked Rider stood where Prince Dex had. “Electro Sabre activate!” he called out, his weapon appearing in his hand. Cutting the bonds of Doneais and Sharana Dex ordered them to get clear leaving the plague patrollers to Dex alone.

“I may not know what millions of people look like. But I know that each of their lives are just as important as the lives of my friends. And I will fight to protect each and every one of them from Dregon’s tyranny,” Masked Rider called out. Then the images faded and Rider was left standing alone. An illusion. , he thought.

“Well done Prince Dex!” , a voice had said. But your journey is only beginning. There is still much for you to confront. The voice had faded away and then Masked Rider continued on his quest.

Dregon and Vypra stood watch over Dex’s ordeal. “How stubbornly noble of my nephew!” Dregon thought out loud. “Unable to make a choice so he makes his own and tries to save everybody.”

“Why don’t these heroes realize that they can’t save everyone?” Vypra asked.

“Oh, I’m sure he will realize that soon enough,” Dregon said as he then turned to his minions. “And I think we should all be there when he realizes that.” Waving his wand Dregon teleported himself, Vypra, Nefaria, Doubleface, Cyclopter, and Gork down to where the pollen plants lay waiting for when Dex would arrive.

Nathan Oliver had arrived at the Crossworld beach where the Outsiders stood watching Kathy Hart. “All right so what’s the problem?” he asked. Nate had pointed to a girl who stood out on the beach looking at some sort of device in her hand. Nathan looked at her intently and had the same feeling Nate had.

She looked familiar somehow. Her long brown hair coming down to her shoulder and the face that was reminiscent of both Katherine Hillard and Kimberly Hart. Both Nathan’s realized the similarity right away. “She drove back Doommaster’s forces with a power I had never seen before, and she left without a word,” Lillian said. “I followed her here and she’s been looking at that gadget in her hand ever since.”

All the Outsiders looked on as Kathy continued to look at the device in her hand. Nathan looked on with intense curiosity as to who the strange girl was.

Kathy looked at her scanner and set the device to search below ground. Finding nothing she put the device back on her belt buckle and headed towards her Harley. As she neared closer to her bike she felt a strange sensation that she was being watched. She looked around and saw people standing behind a rock and she started to advance towards them.

“All right whoever you are. Come out now I know you’re there,” Kathy ordered. Soon Lillian, Chelsea, Christina, Jamie, Katarina, Tyler, Jinx, Nathan and Nate all stepped out from their hiding places. Kathy looked over all of the Outsiders but her attention focused on two in particular. The human Nathan Oliver and the metallic Nate Hillard. Most noticably Nathan Oliver.

That’s odd. I feel like I should know them from somewhere. But I know I’ve never seen either of them in my life. , Kathy thought. Keeping it in mind but not letting the feelings distract her Kathy asked. “All right now. Who are you and why are you following me?”

Lillian stepped forward first to speak. “My name is Lillian O’Neil. You save me, my brother, and my friends from Doommaster and the vixens at the cold fusion plant.”

Kathy looked Lillian over. “You were that girl in black weren’t you?” Lillian nodded then went on to introduce the rest of her friends.

“These are my friends the Outsiders. First up is Tyler Oliver,” Tyler stepped forward and offered his hand. Kathy noticed the resemblence to Tommy right away. “I was a replica of Tommy. Long story,” he said.

“His girlfriend Terry “Jinx” Jones,” Lillian pointed to a girl in a black leather jacket and skimpy ratty clothes who seemed to be chewing gum like a biker chick. She offered her hand and said in a punk-rock British accent “Pleased to meet ya.”

“Christina Collins” The auburn haired girl in white stepped forward and offered her hand. Kathy returned the greeting.

“Katarina Petronov” Her gesture for a handshake reflected the grace of a dancer with the edge of a fighter. Kathy had a feeling Katarina was involved in some form of fighting or another.

“Chelsea Oliver. Warrior of the Dashaadra,” a girl in long black hair and black armor stepped forward and offered her hand to Kathy.

“Nate Hillard our fearless leader and Zeo Ranger,” Nate stepped forward and offered his hand. He had a skeptical look in his eyes but he too offered a ‘pleased to meet you.’ to Kathy not sure what to make of his connection to her.

“And on loan from the Power Chamber. Nathan Oliver,” Kathy stepped forward and felt drawn to Nathan Oliver and Nate Hillard. She shook hands with Nathan and introduced herself.

“My name is Katherine Hart,” Kathy said. “I’m from another reality.”

Nathan, Tyler, and Nate looked wide eyed at Kathy. “You’re a Hart?” Nate asked Kathy.

“Yes in a way. My genetics are a mixture of both Hillard and Hart DNA. Don’t ask how the DNA got put together. I’m not sure you could handle the story.” Lillian stepped forward and decided to ask the questions. The first was “What are you doing here?”

Kathy answered prompthly. “I’m here because I’m searching for an artifact of special power. There is an interdimensional evil looking to spread its darkness across all realities bringing destruction and ruin in its wake. My team and I had stunbled across seven possible sites where the object was. Turns out mine was a dry well.”

Lillian nodded accepting that explanation. “Okay, why did you save me, my brother and the VR Troopers at the plant an hour or two ago?” Kathy also answered that question.

“Because that’s what rangers do right? Help out other forces of good to stop the evil team from winning?” Katarina then interrupted asking another question.

“What about your power? I don’t seem to recall any rangers who wear a lot of black unless they are a black ranger.”

“My powers are Night Ranger Powers. They allow me to control the forces of the night and the primal forces of nature. Now if there are no other questions I really must be..,” Kathy was then interrupted by Nathan’s communicator.

“Nathan are you there?” came the voice of Kat over the comm. Every time Kathy heard her voice she seemed to get a sense of longing in her heart. No matter what reality I go to she is always my mother. , she had thought.

“I’m here Katherine. I’m just confronting a most… unique being,” Nathan had responded.

“We are aware of who you have before you right now,” Zordon had said. “We have one of her party with us in the Power Chamber.” Kathy heard this and wondered just what Zordon was talking about.

“Hi Kathy,” Carter’s voice came over the communicator. “I take it you found a dry well also?”

“Yes Carter I sure did,” Kathy had responded. Then Zordon continued speaking.

“Nathan, I would like to ask the Outsiders to come to the Power Chamber. Their power may be needed for the crisis at hand. Please bring Miss Hart with you as well.”

Nathan looked at the Outsiders who all nodded their heads and at Kathy who nodded as well. With all in agreement Nathan teleported everyone to the Power Chamber.

Ken had awaken to find himself strapped down to a table. He was demorphed and he struggled against his bonds to no avail. “Ahh you’re awake,” said a voice seated at a computer terminal in the corner. The individual turned to face Ken allowing Ken to get a look at the person speaking to him.

“Billy?” Ken asked.

“Close but not quite,” Biilly answered coming towards Ken. “I’m by definition, a replica of Billy Cranston, except that I’m a much better version of Billy than Billy could ever hope to be.”

“What do you want with me?” Ken asked uncertain as to why he was being held but angry that he was being held anyway. But not angry enough to break his bonds since Ken was still getting his bearings.

“Well I know you are here to find the Matrix of Spirit. A mutual friend of ours told me that you would be looking for it,” Biilly turned his eyes as Zanzibar entered the room.

“Welcome Ken,” Zanzibar had said. Ken turned his head saying nothing.

“What no bravado? No ‘You’re not going to get away with this’ speech?” Zanzibar had said. Ken just turned and said, “You know you won’t.”

“I think I will,” Zanzibar said as he then turned to Biilly. “I think it’s time he got to know his ‘better half’. Don’t you?” Biilly smiled. Turning their heads towards the doorway again a figure walked in wearing all black: leather jacket, t-shirt pants and boots. He was also wearing a face Ken knew all too well…. his own, except the smile and gleam in his eyes were those that reflected the mind of a monster.

Biilly just sneered. “Well don’t just stand there, say hello to your ‘better half.’ Say hello… to Keen Tanaka.”

Ken looked at the evil gleam in his replica’s eyes and he knew that this was bad news.

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