A Light In the Dark
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A Light In the Dark
by Red Witch
Summary: The Rangers investigate a series of bizzare attacks while escorting an ambassador. Meanwhile, Goose tries to deal with recent relevations about his past.
"We've got 'em on the run!" Zachery Foxx shouted as Ranger One blasted at an unknown spaceship that had been firing on a much larger luxury cruise starship.
"Gotta admit these creeps have some nerve taking on a ship twice it's size," Walter 'Doc' Hartford said as he monitored the instruments.
"Doc you know as well as I do these luxury cruise liners have very few weapons systems, if any," Shane Gooseman told him as he fired on the ship. "Just a bunch of low life bandits looking for a quick and easy score."
"Well this little raid is not going to be as easy as they thought," Zach grunted as the enemy ship turned tail and tried to escape.
"Captain we're getting a distress call from within the ship," Niko told him. "It seems that somehow some of the bandits have boarded the ship. They've engaged in some kind of firefight on the hangar deck. The security squad is having trouble holding them off."
"It seems they're leaving their buddies behind," Shane remarked as he saw the fleeing ship. "Should we follow them?"
"No, we need to board the liner and stop those pirates left behind from doing any more damage," Zach decided as the ship flew away.
"Gonna be a problem since the hanger doors are locked down," Doc read the instruments. "The bandits must have disabled the hanger systems."
"Not for long," Shane headed straight for the hanger doors. "Readying weapons systems on maximum power."
"Uh Goose, what are you going to do?" Doc gulped. "As if I didn't know…"
"Think it'll work?" Zach asked.
"We'll find out in a minute. Hang on!" Shane shouted as he pressed the button.
"I knew it!" Doc screamed as he hung on and closed his eyes.
Using Ranger One's lasers on it's most powerful cycle Goose was able to blow open a large hole in the hanger bay doors. "I knew it! These so called luxury ships don't have half the structural shielding that regular warships have. We've only got a few seconds until the life support force field kicks in," Shane grinned as he piloted the ship through the hole.
It fit but just barely. However the landing wheels were ripped off on entry and the force field that prevented the air from escaping the ship cut the tail end of the ship.
Ranger One crashed into the hanger, startling the bandits fighting inside it effectively. But not enough to stop them fighting with the security squad.
"Oh good we're alive…" Doc grumbled. "For how long I have no idea."
"It seems we have company," Niko said. Some of the bandits started firing on the ship. "From what I can tell there's about fifteen to twenty of them out there."
"Is that all?" Zach readied his bionic arm.
Three heavily armed bandits wearing blue outfits, strange black harnesses and masks over their faces approached the ship. They were met with a giant thunderbolt blast.
"YEOW!" One bandit was nearly fried by the strange harness he was wearing as it collided with the energy of the thunderbolt. He fell down in pain. One of his companions ran to him and yanked it off while the others provided cover.
The Rangers made short work of the bandits. Doc and Shane used their laser fire, Zach set off a few more thunderbolts and Niko used a few telekinetic blasts as well as her large laser gun to attack.
"These guys aren't half bad," Doc joked. "Too bad for them the other half is bad!"
"Your bad jokes are even worse than their fighting," Shane grumbled. He was hit by a stray laser blast. He touched his badge and reverted to his metal form. Which he then proceeded to charge headlong and take on the bandits.
"They're too strong! We need to retreat!" One bandit shouted as he helped the injured bandit get away. He touched his harness and turned a dial. Then he and his companion disappeared in a flash. All the other bandits did the same.
"They're all gone," Doc blinked.
"That's an interesting trick," Zach grumbled.
"Teleporter?" Shane reverted to his normal form.
"Looks like," Zach grunted. He picked up the broken harness with the device on it. "Must have been preset to return to the ship. No wonder it didn't stick around. Good thing we picked up a little souvenir for Q-Ball to analyze."
"We'd better talk to the captain of this vessel and make sure that everything is all right," Niko looked at Ranger One. "Not to mention apologize for the mess."
Soon the Rangers were walking in a very opulent hallway. "Remember when we were on the SS Christie, Niko?" Doc whistled. "This ship makes that one look like an old rust bucket."
"Flashy passenger ships like this make very tempting targets," Zach said. "Too tempting for my tastes."
"It was just bad luck for these suckers that we were patrolling nearby," Doc smirked.
"This has been the third cruise ship this month that's been raided," Shane grumbled. "You would think whoever runs these liners would know better than to pilot their ships out in unprotected space."
"They usually do," Doc told him. "Thing is these liners are in protected space! In fact all the liners that have been attacked were boarding from the resort space station Lunar Five to Earth. It's practically in our own solar system."
"And a little too close for comfort for Earth's taste," Zach said.
"Well at least we stopped 'em from stealing anything this time," Shane grunted.
"They didn't steal anything the last two times," Doc said. "That's the other weird thing. Each report states that the bandits attack, board the ship, trash it and then leave without taking anything. Not even a single credit or a stray piece of jewelry."
"I didn't recognize any of the bandits from our usual Rogue's Gallery," Zach thought aloud. "Not even the Black Hole Gang would try to poach anything this close to Earth. Whoever's organizing these raids is obviously looking for something."
"Or someone," Niko added. "The fact that these bandits have access to some kind of advanced teleportation technology is what's making me a little nervous."
"You think it could be the General again?" Doc thought, remembering one of their enemies. "He had access to advanced teleportation technology."
"If it was him we'd all know who he'd be after," Shane grumbled.
"This doesn't seem his style," Zach agreed. "And I don't think the Queen has this type of technology."
"And if she did, she sure wouldn't waste her time going after cruise ships," Niko nodded.
"So in other words we are dealing with a brand new enemy we know nothing about," Doc said cheerfully. "Lovely."
"And worse we have no clue why they're attacking luxury liners and not stealing anything," Shane grumbled as he looked around the ship and it's lavish decorations. "It makes no sense."
"Space vandals?" Doc grasped at straws. "Getting their kicks out of trashing the lifestyles of the rich and famous?"
"If only it was that simple," Zach said. "Which it never is."
"I'm sorry to keep you waiting Captain Foxx," The space liner captain walked over to meet them with two of his aides. "I had to calm down the passengers. This has never happened before on the Bravia."
"Were there any injuries?" Zach asked.
"A few of our security personnel got a bit banged up but thank heavens nothing serious," The Captain wiped his brow with a handkerchief. "This is most disturbing. I've heard of liners being hijacked before but never this close to Earth. I'm grateful you were able to chase them away before anything was stolen."
"That would be a tragedy," Shane grumbled under his breath, disgusted at the obscene wealth all around him. He could never understand the obsession some people had with acquiring vast amounts of money for the sake of acquiring vast amounts of money. His eyes glanced around the lavishly decorated hallway, gold and jewels embedded into the walls. On one wall side was a giant aquarium filled with glittering tropical fish.
What caught his eye however was not the aquarium itself but the giant gold statue embedded in the middle of it. A golden mermaid with long flowing hair reaching her arms out above her.
Her sad emerald eyes glistening as he was pulled away from her towards the surface. She seemed to be reaching out for him as he reached for her.
Shane shook his head, trying to displace the images to the back of his mind. Sometimes having a genetically enhanced memory was more of a burden than an asset. But for once it was a good memory that was troubling him.
The warmth of the water surrounding him with an occasional cool current giving his skin a light tingle. The sunlight playing above them as they swam, illuminating the sea floor and all the colorful fish and plants around them. The flash of her golden scales in the water. A moment of pure peace and tranquility.
Emotions that weren't his flooding into his mind. Sadness from the past, happiness and joy in the present. A loneliness that had been breached just by being there. Instant unconditional affection and acceptance.
Just being next to her gave him a feeling he had never known before. A different kind of desire and need. Not one of lust or attraction but of wanting affection and the desire to please. The desire to be with the one whose genes were in his body.
Cheyenne…Shane thought of his long distant genetic donor. Technically she was one of his parents, one of many unknown parents that had their genes infused in his body. But not really a mother. Yet still…
That unfamiliar pang hit him hard. A longing for that connection again. He never felt such emotions before. He never needed or understood them. And now…Now they assaulted him with all the force of a blaster on it's highest setting.
"Goose? Goose are you okay?" Zach's voice and the touch of his hand on his shoulder brought him back to reality.
"Huh?" Shane realized he had drifted away from the conversation. The luxury captain had left and the Rangers were alone in the hallway.
"I was saying that we'd be staying on board until we get to Earth," Zach looked at him. "Since our ship is totaled. Are you okay?"
"Oh yeah," Shane covered quickly. "Sorry. I guess I must have gotten hit harder than I thought. Just give me a minute. My bio-defenses will cover it."
"All right," Zach nodded. He had no reason not to buy the excuse. "We'll meet you on Deck C. Our cabins are located there."
"I'll show him where they are Captain," Niko said. Shane knew Niko did not buy the excuse. She alone had a glimpse of the truth and wasn't going to let him off easy. And she didn't. As soon as the others left…
"Want to talk?" Niko cast her eyes on the statue for a moment, indicating she had a pretty good idea what was on Shane's mind.
"Is it that obvious?" Shane let out a breath.
"Let's just say I didn't need any psychic abilities to get a clue about why you're distracted," Niko looked at the statue again. "You miss her don't you?"
"I shouldn't," Shane shook his head. "I mean I only met her for a few hours. I never really gave a thought much before who my…Whose genes were in my body. But now…Lately, I can't stop thinking about her. I still have so many questions. So many things I want to ask and talk to her about."
"Then you should," Niko told him.
"It's not like I can just go visit her," Shane gave her a look. "In the first place we're far too busy for me to just take off and go diving in the ocean without any excuses. Especially with the Queen scrambling to hold onto what's left of her empire. Secondly even if I did go there's always a chance somehow someone will follow me. Knowing my luck it would happen and that someone wouldn't hesitate to either inform the Board of World Leaders about her or try to hurt her to get at me. Either way it's too dangerous."
"There is another way," Niko said gently. "Remember what Cheyenne said? That she had some kind of psychic connection to those of her bloodline. Maybe using my powers we can…?"
"No, Niko I've dragged you enough into this," Shane shook his head. "Look even if she could…It's not like she can do much else. She's trapped in the ocean for crying out loud. It's not like she could have done anything when I was a kid or whatever. What was she supposed to do? Swim around Wolf Den and try to knock it out with a tidal wave or something? She would have been captured or worse. She doesn't deserve that. After all she's been through."
Shane sighed. "The truth is…She's just a donor. She didn't have a choice about what happened to her DNA. That doesn't mean she doesn't feel compassion for me or any of the others. But…I can't just run to her every time I have a problem or something. I've done fine on my own most of my life."
"Just because you've never known or wanted a mother before doesn't mean you can't want one now," Niko asked. "She's a part of you. I think she'd want to be part of your life. And it's okay to want her in yours."
"Come on Niko," Shane let out a breath. "Look at Zach's kids and all they've been through. They deserve to miss their mother. I…I'm just feeling sorry for myself. That's all. There's no point in moping about something that can't be changed. I just have to push it out of my mind and get over it."
He turned and walked away, indicating that he was done with the conversation. Niko sighed and shook her head but didn't say anything. Both of them went to join the others.
Shortly after back on Earth the Rangers were meeting with Commander Walsh in his office along with Ambassadors Zozo and Waldo and Q-Ball. "It was fortunate that you were able to stop the bandits this time," Walsh grunted. "But Gooseman did you have to wreck the Ranger One while doing it?"
"It could have been a lot worse if those bandits had teleported to the bridge or an area populated with civilians," Shane grunted.
"I don't think they could have," Q-Ball said. "From what I've been able to piece together this teleporting harness is not as advanced as it should be. It appears to need to recharge between teleporting."
"Something else Q-Ball and I have discovered," Doc added. "It seems to have some kind of limited range. It has trouble sending signals through certain metals, such as gold."
"The upper levels of the ship were covered in gold," Niko nodded. "The walls were practically coated with it."
"So the only place the bandits could teleport into was the hangar bay," Zach thought. "It still doesn't tell us what they were doing there or why."
"Obviously this has become a matter of great importance to several senators and their wealthy supporters," Walsh sighed. "The problem is that we have very few leads."
"Isn't there some kind of homing signal in these teleporter things?" Shane thought. "Maybe we can use that to track down the bandits?"
"One of the first things we thought of," Doc shook his head. "The circuits were just too fried for even the Doctor's magic."
"So what now? A stakeout?" Zach asked.
"I've already sent a few more teams of Series Four Rangers undercover on the remaining passenger ships," Walsh said. "The truth is you Series Five Rangers have developed a bit of notoriety and reputations this past year. You might blow our cover."
"Well we did save the Earth and the universe a few dozen times," Doc shrugged jokingly. "Ah the price of fame!"
"However you are going to Lunar Five," Walsh told them. "But for a different mission."
"There is a very important conference of ambassadors representing the League of Planets," Waldo told them. "We will be discussing many topics from colonization of new worlds to further strategies on how to deal with the Crown Empire."
"In addition to escorting ambassadors Zozo and Waldo you will be assigned to keep an eye on Earth's ambassador," Walsh told them.
"Please tell me it's not Wheiner," Shane groaned.
"Heaven forbid," Waldo rolled his eyes.
"It's not him," Walsh allayed their fears. "In fact the rest of the Board of World Leaders unanimously decided not to ever make him Earth's ambassador. They feel he gives the planet a bad name."
"He gives the entire solar system a bad name," Doc snorted. "So who is the ambassador from Earth?"
"Doctor Magdella Domani," Walsh said.
"I've heard of her," Niko thought aloud. "She's a very well respected scientist as well as a human rights activist."
"Yes she's a very…" Walsh hesitated. "Resourceful and respected woman. She's the perfect choice to represent Earth. I don't think I need to emphasize the importance of this mission."
"Don't worry Commander," Zach said. "We'll make sure that everything goes well."
"See that you do," Walsh grunted. "And while you are on Lunar Five…If you can learn anything about these mysterious attacks well…"
"I think we may be able to do a little sightseeing as well," Doc grinned, getting his meaning.
"I love traveling in style," Doc grinned as he placed his luggage in the suite he was sharing with Shane. "And this time we get first class accommodations."
"That's only because the Ambassador is next door sharing a suite with Niko," Shane gave him a look. "They're really taking security seriously."
"Considering the importance of this conference they should," Doc told him. "I thought the Christie was impressive but I really think the Nora Charles beats it hands down."
"They're getting bigger and more flashier every day," Shane looked around. "Come on we'd better meet up with the others."
They went outside and saw Niko in the hallway. "How's it going Niko?" Doc smiled. "Are you and the ambassador bosom buddies yet? Or is she like old Dutchie was?"
"Well she's not an android if that's what you're getting at," Niko smiled. "This isn't the Christie."
"You can say that again," Doc agreed.
"This isn't the Christie," Niko couldn't resist.
A loud yell was heard from Zozo's cabin. "What the…?" Shane grabbed his blaster on reflex.
"Calm down, Goose," Niko grinned. "It's not an attack. Well not on the ambassador anyway."
They went inside Zozo's quarters and found a surprising sight. Running around screaming happily in some kind of demented game of tag were the Kiwi kids, Buzz, Swee and Little Joe. "YAYYYYYYYY!"
"Kids! Kids! Knock it off!" A harried Zozo chased the children.
"Oh I had to agree to share quarters with Zozo," Waldo sat in a chair, clearly tired.
"What's with the rug rat brigade?" Shane blinked.
"My darling sister has insisted that I spend some time with my niece and nephews," Zozo groaned.
"Translation, she needs a break from the kids and 'volunteered' you to do it," Doc snickered.
"You got it," Zozo groaned.
"HI THERE!" The Kiwi Kids tackled Doc. "DOC!"
"WHOA!" Doc was so startled he fell down. The kids happily climbed all over him. "Oh no! It's the Black Hole Gang! I'm doomed! Doomed!"
"So much for this being a quiet trip," Zach walked in with his kids and a familiar face.
"Goose!" Billy Sawyer ran over and gave the surprised Supertrooper a hug.
"Billy!" Shane blinked in surprise. He gave him a friendly hug back. "What are you doing here?"
"Billy goes to my school," Jessica explained. "And he was my partner in the science fair."
"We did our project on genetics," Billy explained. "First prize was that we get to represent our school at the Interplanetary Science Fair on Lunar Five."
"You knew about this?" Shane asked Zach.
"The kid wanted to surprise you," Zach grinned.
"I guess it has been a while," Shane admitted sheepishly. "Sorry I haven't visited you much lately kid…"
"It's not your fault," Billy shook his head. "I know you're real busy with the Rangers."
"How's Sundancer?" Niko inquired about Billy's winged horse.
"He's great," Billy said.
"He's become the unofficial school mascot," Jessica grinned. "Even the teachers can't get enough of him."
"A genetically engineered horse on a space station?" Shane was stunned.
"You'd be surprised at the facilities the Albert Einstein School for the Gifted has," Zach grinned.
"Let's just say Sundancer's made some new friends," Billy grinned.
"This is going to be a fun mission," Doc laughed as the Kiwi Kids tickled him. "He he…When I heard this was going to be a babysitting mission I didn't think they meant it literally! Hey! Come on! I surrender! I surrender!"
"Now we gonna make you walk the plank!" Buzz chirped.
"That's pirates Dummy Head!" Swee snapped at her brother. "Pirates are the ones that make you walk the plank!"
"Bandits do it too!" Buzz snapped back.
"Yeah, this is going to be a quiet mission," Shane rolled his eyes.
The trip to Lunar Five was surprisingly without incident. "Well we got here safe and sound," Doc remarked as he and Shane walked around the hotel on Lunar Five. "A nice quiet ride."
"As quiet as it can be with a bunch of screaming Kiwi kids," Shane smirked.
Doc nodded. "The Ambassador is safely conferring with the other delegates. I can't believe it. We actually accomplished a routine mission and nothing weird happened! That's got to be one for the record books."
"The mission isn't over yet," Shane reminded him. "We still need to keep an eye out on what those bandits are after. Whatever it is."
"Not really much to go on," Doc shook his head. "All we can do is keep an eye out for anything suspicious. So how's Billy doing?"
"The kid's doing fine," Shane told him. "He likes his school and Sundancer keeps him busy. He wants to become a horse breeder and trainer when he grows up."
"That's pretty cool," Doc nodded. "I'm glad the two of you got to spend some time together. Since he is the closest thing you have to family."
"Yeah," Shane said. Unless of course you count Cheyenne…He thought to himself.
"I got an idea," Doc said. "Why don't we check out the science fair? We don't have any leads and it's as good a place as any to scope things out. And we can spend more time with the kids."
"You really think the bandits are just going to show up at a middle school science fair?" Shane gave him a look.
"Not really, but stranger things have happened," Doc shrugged. "Maybe it might give us some ideas."
"Well, we're not going to find much here that's for sure," Shane indicated the people lounging by the pool. "In fact this whole place is mostly casinos, restaurants, shopping centers and pools. There's nothing here those bandits can't steal they can't steal anywhere else. And they haven't."
"Like I said, maybe the science fair will give us some inspiration," Doc said as they walked over to the building the science fair was to be held in. He was nearly run over by a very short, pinkish alien with large owl like eyes behind thick glasses. "HEY!"
"Move it Mac!" The alien snapped in a high pitched voice, carrying something wrapped in a parcel as he ran off.
"How rude," Doc sniffed. "Some children have no manners!" He gave Shane a look. "Look who I'm talking to…"
"I have manners," Shane remarked as they went into the science fair. "I always try to say excuse me before I shoot someone."
Soon they met up with Zach Jr., Billy, Jessica, Zozo and the Kiwi Kids setting up the booth. "We're helping!" Little Joe said cheerfully.
"That's good," Doc smiled. Then his eyes caught something. Some men in blue wearing some familiar looking harnesses. "Uh oh…"
"What?" Shane looked and saw what Doc did. "This is interesting."
"Goose, don't those guys look a little familiar?" Doc nudged his friend.
"They don't look like judges that's for sure," Shane growled. "I wonder what they're looking for?"
"What's going on Goose?" Billy asked.
"Billy, you and the other kids stay here," Shane warned as the two rangers went after the strange men. "Zozo at the first sign of trouble get them out of the building!" They went off before the others could say anything.
They didn't get far before they saw laser fire. The short kid with big glasses was firing at the bandits. "YOU'LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE YOU JERKS!" He screamed as he fired at them with one hand.
"Something tells me this kid is a little too old for grade school," Doc blinked. "I think we've just figured out who those bandits were after."
"Yeah and something tells me whatever he's got in his hands is why they're after him," Shane growled as they joined the chase.
By now the bandits were firing their lasers back. Several students and teachers were fleeing the fair in panic. One laser blast hit a stray exhibit and a lot of smoke exploded, covering the room in smoke.
"Hey! This is a no smoking area!" Doc coughed. "Doesn't anybody pay attention to signs these days?"
Meanwhile in an office Zach, Waldo and Niko were being briefed by Commander Walsh via the communications monitor. "We finally have a lead on what the bandits are really after," Walsh told them. He showed them a familiar face. "This man is Dr. Emile Nedener, a renegade scientist that had been expelled from the League of Planets Science Institute."
"I remember him," Waldo sniffed. "A rather greedy disagreeable little man if I do say so."
"Why was Dr. Nedener expelled?" Niko asked.
"He was caught selling scientific secrets to the highest bidder," Waldo told her. "But he escaped custody and disappeared. He hasn't been heard from in years."
"Until now," Walsh told them. "It appears the not so good doctor was the one who not only created these teleportation harnesses, but another device even more dangerous. A weapon these bandits want very badly."
"What kind of weapon?" Zach asked.
"From what we've learned it's like Mindnet," Walsh said. "It creates something called a Psyche Field that ensnares minds. However…It hasn't been perfected."
"That's does not bode well," Waldo frowned.
There was a beep on the communicator. "Goose to Captain Foxx! We got trouble!"
"Goose! What's going on?" Zach asked.
"Nothing. Just a little shoot out at the science fair," Doc quipped. "The bandits are here and they're trying to capture some little pipsqueak that's causing a lot of trouble!"
"The science fair?" Zach startled. "The kids!"
"Goodness! Zozo and his nephews and niece are down there as well!" Waldo realized.
"Come on!" Niko shouted and the three of them went to assist Shane and Doc.
Meanwhile the smoke while non toxic was definitely a hindrance. "This is nuts!" Doc barely missed a laser blast. "Can't see a thing in here!"
"Goose where are you?" They heard Zozo shouting along with the kid's cries.
"We can't find the door!" Swee screamed. "It's too smoky!"
"Oh this just gets better and better!" Shane snapped.
"I'LL USE IT! I'LL USE THE PSYCHE FIELD! I SWEAR I WILL!" A shrill voice screamed from the smoke.
"Uh oh," Doc gulped. "That can't be good…"
There was a blast and a scream. The smoke seemed to dissipate just enough for them to see that a stray laser blast had hit the object the renegade scientist was holding. "You fools! You've doomed us…" A purple and black cloud of energy emitted from the device. "AAAAAAAHHHH!"
"Niko! It's been activated!" Shane shouted. The energy cloud quickly spread through the room. As it surrounded him he felt as if a million bees stung him all over his body at the same time. "AAAAAHHHH!" He and Doc screamed and fell to the ground.
As Niko and the others ran to help she stopped and screamed in agony. "AHHHH!"
"Niko!" Zach stopped to help her.
"Look!" Waldo pointed. The building was covered in a black energy cloud. "What is that thing?"
"A Psyche Field…" Niko panted. "A powerful force used to control minds."
"And it appears out of control," Zach realized.
"This device…" Niko shuddered. "From the power I sensed it makes Mindnet look like a child's toy. It's ten times more powerful. And just as dangerous."
"Goose? Doc? The kids?" Zach asked her.
"They're trapped…" Niko gasped. "Zach we have to get them out of there before the Psyche Field destroys their minds!"
"But how?" Zach asked. "If we can't even go in there…"
"I can create a shield around us," Niko said. "But don't know how long it will last."
"Do it," Zach said. "If we both combine our charges we should have enough power to get inside and deactivate the device."
"All right," Niko took Zach's hand. "Waldo, if we don't make it out…"
"I know, we'll come up with some kind of alternative plan," Waldo nodded. "Good luck."
"We're gonna need it," Niko touched her badge and allowed Zach's energy to add to her own. She created a psychic shield around them and they walked into the dark mist. "Here we go…"
"I just hope the others are okay…" Zach frowned.
Floating…Shane was floating in the darkness…Everything was cold and still all around him. He was paralyzed and his mind felt clouded and unclear. He could barely even think and what thoughts he could…All he wanted was to escape the cold and be safe.
Shane…A soft voice pierced the darkness.
Shane can you hear me?
Wake up Shane…
Slowly Shane's eyes fluttered. His surroundings had changed. He was underwater, floating in a deep blue ocean. Even though his charge wasn't activated for some reason he could still breathe. Then he realized why. I'm dreaming…
Yes…A familiar voice entered his mind. A bright flash of gold was before him, but he couldn't make out the figure. For some reason everything was blurry.
Shane look at me…
Shane forced his eyes to focus. Floating before him was a golden mermaid with long flowing blond hair. "C-Cheyenne?"
Shane you have to wake up now, Gently she touched his cheek.
"Don't…want to…" Shane said groggily. "Stay…"
No Shane, She shook her head. You are needed. Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!
A painful flash of light startled him. Shane's head reeled as if a sharp spike was driven through his ears. In an instant his eyes opened and he found himself flat on the floor. "Where…?" He sat up, holding his head.
All around him everything was dark and it was painful to think. Shane weakly touched his badge and a golden glow surrounded him. "That's better," He sighed. He still felt a painful buzz inside his head. "Not much but better…"
He looked beside him and saw the outline of a figure lying prone on the floor. "Doc!" He knelt next to his unconscious friend. "Doc wake up! No good. Maybe…" He touched his communicator. "This is Goose…Can anyone hear me?"
"Shane?" Niko's voice broke through the darkness. "I thought you were affected by the Psyche Field."
"I was…" Shane moaned.
"How did you…?" Niko began.
"Dunno…Think my bio-defenses shook it off…" Shane said, obviously still in pain. "Doc's out cold…"
"Goose," Zach spoke. "You need to find the Psyche Field device and shut it off."
"Wonderful," Shane could barely see in the darkness. "I can hardly see as it is. And it got damaged during he firefight."
"Try Goose," Niko's voice wavered. "I don't know how much longer I can keep up a shield. And if we don't shut it off…"
"We all fry. I got it," Shane growled. He slowly got to his feet. His legs felt like they were on fire. "Here I go…" He staggered off to find the device.
He thought he saw another figure on the ground not far away. To his horror it was Billy's form. "Hang on kid," Shane whispered. "I'll get us out of here…Just hang on…"
Darkness. Darkness and cold surrounded Billy. "Where am I?" He looked around. He felt as if he was being closed in. "Goose? Goose! Help me! Help!"
Slowly behind him he felt a gentle warmth. He turned around. Behind him he could see a growing portal behind him. A portal filled with light and warmth.
Come away from the darkness young ones…A soft gentle voice called to him. Come…Don't be afraid.
Cautiously Billy went towards the light. As he passed through the portal, he was startled as he found himself surrounded by warm ocean water. He was under the sea surrounded by colorful fish, but he could breathe with ease.
Jessica, Zach Jr, the Kiwi Kids and several other children were there as well, happily swimming in the water. Before him he saw a beautiful mermaid with long golden hair. She smiled warmly.
Don't be afraid children, you are safe…She smiled.
And Billy felt safe. He swam in the ocean, forgetting about the darkness behind him.
Meanwhile Shane had managed to make his way and found the Psyche Field Device. "Okay now what do I do with this thing?" He grumbled as he picked it up. "Oh yeah, the old Supertrooper motto: When in doubt…blow it up."
He took out his blaster threw the device in the air and shot at it. It exploded with a bright flash. The cloud began to dissolve around him. "Yep, that usually does the trick."
"Shane!" Niko called out. Niko and Zach entered the room. As the cloud dissolved Niko let down her barrier. Shane let his bio defenses stop and his body stopped glowing.
"Are you all right?" Zach asked.
"Yeah but Doc, Zozo and the kids!" Shane went over to Billy. "Billy! Billy! Wake up!"
Billy's eyes fluttered. "Goose?"
"Billy!" Shane helped him sit up. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah I'm fine," Billy shook his head. "What happened?"
"We had a little accident," Shane told him.
"Oh Mommy my brain hurts," Doc moaned where he lay.
"Doc are you all right?" Zach asked.
"I just said my brain hurts!" Doc groaned. "Doesn't anyone listen anymore?"
"He doesn't look too good," Niko looked at the twitching form of Dr. Nedener. "He must have been affected the most since he was holding the device when it malfunctioned."
"We need to get all these people to a medic to check them out," Zach said as several people stirred.
"Ugh…" One of the bandits groaned. "Time to go…"
"Oh no you don't!" Zach grabbed the bandit and yanked the teleportation harnesses off him. "Stick around a while."
He threw the bandit down and hit another bandit unconscious. The third bandit managed to teleport away. "Looks like we got a few prizes at the fair," Zach smirked.
"I would have settled for a ribbon," Doc groaned.
The next day the Rangers were back on the Nora Charles in one of the large conference rooms. The Kiwi Kids were happily coloring and drawing on paper. Zach was talking with his kids. Shane was with Billy. Waldo was there as well. "This was a very successful mission," Waldo remarked. "Not only was the conference a success we managed to capture a renegade scientist and a few bandits."
"As well as have a few more pieces of their hardware for study," Doc remarked. "So what about the Ambassador? Why isn't she here?"
"She's staying on Lunar Five a bit longer," Zach explained. "She's putting together another conference. But Walsh wants us back on Earth as soon as possible."
"Yeah I think I've had enough of science fairs for a long time," Jessica groaned.
"Too bad, I think Dr. Nedermer got a bang out of it," Doc smirked.
"What's left of him," Shane grumbled. "His brain got completely fried. He's practically a vegetable now."
"Thank goodness the kids weren't affected," Zozo sighed. "I don't know why but they seem to be fine."
"None of the children trapped at the fair were affected," Waldo said.
"Thank the heavens for small favors," Zozo went over to his niece and nephews. "What are you drawing Swee?"
"The pretty water lady," Swee was finishing a picture.
"Water lady?" Zozo asked.
"I saw a pretty lady in the water," Swee grinned. "She looked like a human on top but she had a fish tail on bottom."
"That's a mermaid, Swee," Zozo explained. "That's a mythical human that was supposed to live in the ocean."
"That's where she was! In the ocean!" Buzz added.
"Can we see the mermaid again?" Little Joe asked innocently.
"Mermaids aren't real, child," Waldo explained. "You were just dreaming."
"That's weird," Jessica blinked. "I was dreaming of the exact same thing."
"Me too," Zach Jr. realized. "I dreamt of a mermaid too. With long gold hair, gold tail and…"
"Green eyes…" Billy added. He looked at Shane. "Just like yours Goose. They were really bright."
"She was pretty," Swee chirped. She held up the picture she drew. "You like my picture?"
"It's very nice," Shane said as he knelt down to her level.
Swee smiled. "Here!" She gave the picture to Shane.
Shane's hands nearly shook as he held the drawing. "This is for me?" He whispered.
"Uh huh," Swee nodded happily. "That's for you! I'm gonna make another for Mommy!" She went back to her crayons.
"The kids all dreamt the same thing?" Zach was puzzled. "How did that happen?"
"Must have been a side effect of the Psyche Field," Niko shrugged.
"I know I didn't dream of no mermaid," Doc pouted. "Why didn't I get a dream like that?"
"You dream of enough weird things," Zach gave him a look. "Right Goose? Goose?"
Shane seemed to be lost in thought as he stared at the picture. "Gooseman?" Doc nudged him. "Are you okay?"
"Oh yeah," Shane shook his head. "Guess I'm still a little affected by the Psyche Field. I'll be back." He left the room.
"Is he okay?" Billy asked, concerned for his friend.
"He'll be fine," Niko put her hand on his shoulder. She smiled a quiet knowing smile, happy for her friend. "Just give him a few moments."
Shane stared out the window of the viewing port alone as the luxury ship reached Earth. He held the picture in his hands as if it was a lost treasure. His eyes stared at the blue immense ocean that covered the planet he called home.
"Cheyenne…" He whispered. "You really are watching out for me aren't you? I know it must be hard for you…But somehow…Thank you. Thank you for being there for me when it counted the most."
He looked down at the picture in his hands. "I promise…One day I'll see you again. Until then…I'll try…I'll try to do whatever I can to make you proud of me. Maybe…Maybe one day I can help you too. Now I know I'm no longer alone. And one day…You won't be alone either."
And somewhere on Earth, under the ocean…a lone mermaid smiled.