Door gave easily before bionic arm. Zachary Foxx ripped the metal off its hinges and made a quick signal to the rest of his team. Niko was starting to focus her mind on the goal ahead, Shane Gooseman was finishing off a remaining Crown guard and Doc Hartford was using his Tripwire tweaker to further disable the alarm systems. Likely that it wouldn't do them much good at this point, the Queen of the Crown had been alerted by the shooting, but they were thorough and took no chances.
Oh, and Buzzwang. The rather annoying android followed the four original Galaxy Rangers down the hall as best he could. Foxx no longer had the time to be frustrated at Walsh's insisting that Buzzwang be sent along on this mission. "You'll need as much backup as possible," Walsh had said. "And he's an official Ranger now." He put the thought out of his mind as he stepped over the remains of the doorway and ran to the next, unguarded door. This looked to be the final one, the jackpot. Foxx launched his bionic leg into a flying kick and sent the throne room door crashing down ahead of him.
"You-Rangers!" The Queen of the Crown's awful voice was already spitting venom. Her two flanking guards advanced on the Rangers and fired. Foxx activated the full range of his bionics and shot back a "Thunderbolt" at one of the guards, toppling him. Gooseman was next in the room, drawing guns at lightning speed and firing at the remaining guard. They discovered the guard was not an android when he exploded in blood and bone, spraying the Queen. Gooseman shrugged.
"Zach, she's blocking me partially but I'm reading that she's got something planned. We have to be careful," Niko whispered, putting a hand on his arm.
"She's always got something planned but this time we have her."
"Give it up, Queen. You're finished!" Gooseman told her while he covered her with the guns. Doc and Buzzwang had joined them.
"No, Rangers. You're finished." The Queen had moved behind her throne for cover and pushed a button. There was a blinking in the room, jolts of a force field and whirl of lights. Niko recoiled in shock, grabbing her temples and only Gooseman's arms prevented her from falling to the floor.
"Oh, Shane. Zach, Doc...that was the last thing I got from her, it's a trap. She has a force field here that cancels the use of artificial implants and intelligence. Causes feedback to the user." Niko managed to gasp out. Shane held her close while Zach and Doc looked at each other, then prepared for a non-powered attack on the Queen. All this fighting to get here and still one more obstacle...
Just then, though, they were startled by the sight of smoke and sparks erupting from Buzzwang. The android staggered around the room, circuits sending a shower of sound of light as parts began to fall off one by one. There was a last explosion and Buzzwang was no more, the force field causing an irreparable feedback to all his sytems. Buzzwang was almost totally atomized in the aftermath. Now it was Foxx's turn to shrug.
"The useless pile of junk is no more. Now it's your turn!" Queen of the Crown was raising her hands high at the four remaining Rangers. All were advancing on her, fighting the pull of the force field even on their normal bodies. "I'll send you to another universe entirely. A total vacuum. Die, Rangers!"
So that was her plan, Shane thought, reacting first of the group. Get rid of us with a special spell if the Crown soldiers couldn't. He wasn't sure about placing an accurate gunshot in this storm so instead he grabbed a metal arm, the last remnant of Buzzwang. Balancing it and judging the angle and distance, he threw it hard at the throne as the Queen was completing the spell. Her throne was knocked into her, her arms and legs becoming a tangle of limbs pointing one way and then another. A flash of lightning, a twisting cosmic whirpool and first the Queen, then the Rangers were gone.
The whirlpool was an inexorable force, grabbing all four of them and spinning them round and round, then round back again three hundred sixty degrees. The pressure crushed nearly all air out of their lungs and the lack of gravity left nothing to used for leverage. Niko and Shane managed to hold each other's hands for some emotional warmth. Foxx was clawing at the little pocket of air that surrounded them, Doc focused as he tried to activate his programs on the remote chance they could do something to help.
Another flash of blue light and they approached what looked like a nebulous sort of door. They braced for impact, Niko and Shane holding each other tight. Foxx thought of Eliza one last time, saying goodbye to her. Doc only cursed inwardly that there were a few things he had left undone, then figured death would be a new experience at least, entering the undiscovered country he knew so little about.
"I lo-" Niko whispered to Shane as they hit.
This door did not give easily before the four Rangers as they slammed into it unwillingly and were rendered nearly unconscious. Finally they fell through and far down through a rush of lights. Almost like Christmas lights, Niko thought. Was death supposed to be this peaceful?
The lights began to slow down and the vague outlines of structures defined themslves. Large buildings. A gate.
St. Peter's gate, Doc was wondering. One of his grandmothers had told him stories when he was young but he had never believed them...
Ground, or more accurately flooring, met them at last and they tumbled down to hit it hard. Polished smooth surface, Doc thought, not clouds. Well his grandmother had been wrong about that at least. He looked up slowly at the crowd gathering around them. A mass of mostly alien faces, one best described as a muscular humanoid chicken, another a transparent brain in a skirt. There were only two recognizable as humans in the group...Where were they? Niko was recovering and pointing to a sign on the building above them:
Ducking under the massive fist, Shane Gooseman moved himself slightly and sent Beef Bonk flying back over him. Beef landed against the bottom of the school sign with a thud.
"Earth still stinks," Beef huffed out in reply and slowly got to his feet. He gathered his energy and charged Goose again, putting his shoulder down as if to batter down a door. Goose hit the ground legs first and brought them up in a scissor around Beef's midsection, throwing Beef this time into a section of school gate. Beef winced again as the air went out of him but tried struggling to his feet once more. Goose had to give him points for determination and a form more muscular than most non-augmented humans, born out of Beef's avian genetic pool, even if he was the one of the most undisciplined fighters Goose had ever come up against.
"Earth still stinks...but you're okay, Earth bo-err, man," Beef managed to get out and collapsed back down. Goose helped him up and looked him in the eye.
"I wonder if you're okay, Beef. You're one tough hombre but you've don't seem to have much idea what to do with all that energy." Goose started to show Beef a few elementary moves but still had his doubts about this whole project as Frogface walked over to them...
"Galaxy High, lady and gentlemen," the transparent brain with a spindly torso in a skirt had said in her officious English. "We are a special school dedicated to bringing peace in our galaxy by educating the young people of different worlds about themselves and each other." She was flanked by a man of ice in a lab coat, a froglike alien in coach's sweats and a female centaur. The two young teenage humans hung back a bit, one a pretty girl in form fitting singlet and the other an athletic but rather vacant boy in a turtleneck. An equally young six-armed man in starched shirt and bow tie plus the muscular birdlike humanoid wearing a t-shirt with "EARTH STINKS" on it (trouble, Goose thought) completed the set.
"Never heard of it," Goose spat back. Zach promptly elbowed him in the stomach and Niko glared in his direction. Doc stifled a laugh.
"Naturally, you're yet another of our visitors from an alternate reality. We do seem to get so many of them, just last week we had a Captain James...Tiberius, was it? From a Federation. Rather a crude sort, he could have been our Beef and Doyle combined."
"That's our principal, Biddy McBrain, for you," the male human smiled an eager to please grin. "Always speaking her mind."
"That's 'Betty' McBrain, Doyle," she frowned back. "May I present some of our staff to you: Professor Icenstein, our science chairman, Coaches Frogface and Centaur," McBrain indicated the iceman, frog and centaur respectively. Goose still couldn't get over this weird crowd but he had met enough aliens before. "Milo DeVenus, our senior class president, and Amy Braintower, honor society president," she waved at the six-armed man and the human girl. "And of course," she sighed, "Beef Bonk from Avia and Doyle Cleverlobe, captain of our zuggleball and psych hockey teams," McBrain finished in a tone of attempted dignity as she pointed to the muscular birdlike tough and the human boy.
"All very interesting, Ms. McBrain," Zachary Foxx answered. "But we really don't belong here, we've got to get back to our own reality."
"In due time, Mr. Foxx. Professor Icenstein is already tracing your route back through the reality nexus," she nodded at the man of ice as he walked off. "But you've told us those badges you wear represent some sort of prestigious galactic law enforcement team from your Earth." She narrowed her eyes as Beef prepared to open his mouth at the mention of the word "Earth," which shut him up. "Well, our staff here was just meeting and we had come to the consensus that some of our students have been lacking in discipline and depth," she took Zach aside.
"You see, our students here have become overly set in their ways. Amy is our brightest yet she sometimes uses this as an excuse to avoid developing social as well as athletic skills. We're proud to have Milo as our class president but even with six arms he's extremely clumsy and uncoordinated. Doyle, Galaxy High's greatest athlete, is far from stupid but thinks sports alone will get him through life without any wisdom or character. And Beef..."
"A bully." Zach had seen the type on many worlds.
"Exactly, Mr. Foxx. And you seem experienced enough to know what a problem a teenage bully may become as an adult. Our staff here is the best but we aren't getting through to them at the moment, perhaps we're just a little too familiar and not taken seriously any more."
"What do you propose?"
Principal Betty McBrain spelled it out. A mentoring program while Icenstein worked on a way to send the Galaxy Rangers home. Zach agreed with it as a constructive way to spend the time, then he and McBrain decided each Ranger would be paired with a student counterpart, a faculty member acting as liason. Doc would work with Milo and Icenstein on the nexus, Shane Gooseman was assigned to train Beef under the supervision of Coach Frogface, McBrain herself planned to watch Zach tutor Doyle and Centaur had drawn Niko's informal classes with Amy...
...getting Beef to pay attention whatsoever to Goose had been nearly impossible. The Avian seemed to have a built in disliked for Earth, humans and nearly everything else except for his "Bonk Bunch." Shane wasn't surprised, he knew from his "Supertrooper" days that every bully needs a gang to back him up. He had doubted at first that he should mentor Beef, Shane liked the human Doyle and seemed to have more in common with him than he did with Beef...but then he understood Zach and McBrain's choices. Beef needed someone who had walked in his shoes, and Zach was just a bit too laidback for that.
The "Bonk Bunch" was something else. While most of the Galaxy High students seemed to be at least humanoid, Beef's sidekick Rotten Roland was sort of a giant solid egg with legs and arms while the third member, Earl, was...Goose couldn't determine what Earl was other than a small blob that crawled along with the floor with two eyes and a mouth of sorts. Goose wasn't fazed, though, he knew what to do. Separate the bully from the gang. He did this by catching the first egg Roland hurled at the back of his head, without breaking it, and deflecting it back to shatter above Roland and cover him with yoke. A glare and a shake of Goose's head got Roland moving away and Earl followed.
"You think you're tough, Earth boy? Earth stinks!" Beef sneered.
"Tougher than you."
"Why you-if you weren't wearin' that badge, I'd..." Goose tossed the badge away. There would be no avoiding this. "Take your best shot, Beef. When you're ready to apologize to my planet, we can get started with the rest of the mentoring..." Beef charged.
...Beef was at least a dedicated student of combat, Goose admitted, once he put his mind to it. He caught on fast and learned move after move, adapted to his non-human form.
"You see, Beef? I may be stronger than you but there will always be someone even stronger than me," Goose thought back again to the "Supertroopers." "It's not always how strong you are but how you use what you've got. That's a lot of what the martial arts are about. Self-discipline and following the rules of the game."
"Coach Frogface says there aren't any rules in life."
Goose looked over at Frogface, who drew in his snapping tongue and looked embarrassed. No wonder this boy was so astray. Goose shook his head. "Sometimes the rules are different from place to place and sometimes you have to make up your own but you always need a guide to follow. You keep saying you don't like Earth or humans because so often we don't do as we say but look where being a bully has gotten you, just another beating. You want respect, earn it by respecting yourself and others when they deserve it."
Even Beef had to reluctantly admit the truth of that.
"Truthfully?" Doyle asked.
"Yes, I want the truth," Zach Foxx said. "The only way we're going to have any sort of relationship here is if we're both honest. What exactly do you want?" Doyle was blinking his eyes as if someone had hit him over the head with a sharp hammer. Damn, Foxx thought, but McBrain was right, these kids might have good teachers but they were sorely in need of counsel. No one had ever even asked Doyle that question before.
"I...want to play zuggleball. I'm the galactic high school champion in the individual class plus captain of our championship squad in the team association. Coach Frogface says I can make the pros easy." Foxx had been told in crash briefing on Galaxy High that "zuggleball" was like Earth hockey except with a "live" puck. Doyle smiled, proud of himself.
"Very good. Anything else?" Zach was frustrated, Doyle had been fighting him every step of the way as Foxx tried to test him in the sciences, math, literature, history. The kid was bright enough but...lazy, unmotivated.
"What? I never thought about anything else besides zuggleball and psych hockey...homework, occasionally. I feel alone sometimes, though."
"Why? You're in a school full of people your own age."
"Yeah, but...they're all different. Milo's okay, even Beef sometimes when we're on a team together or fighting someone else. But I kinda miss home, other humans." Doyle sat down on a table in the empty room.
"What about that girl I met?"
"Umm...this isn't easy for me, for us, to talk about. Change the subject?"
"Why?" Zach looked at him closely. "You're a bad liar, Doyle. You like her, don't you?"
"Well, why haven't you told her?"
"I don't wanna get laughed at. We did talk about it once, though, after she dated this other guy, Reggie."
"Well...I laughed at her, then she got real annoyed." Zach hit his forehead with his bionic arm so hard he nearly injured himself. Male-female relationships! Why were they always so difficult?
"Listen to me closely, Doyle. I was married for many years to a woman I loved very much. We met when we were about the same age as you and Amy. My wife...went away for a while. But if we were never honest with each other we wouldn't have had each other even for the too short time we had."
"What's all that have to do with me?" Doyle was still playing the angry young man and Zach had to hold his breath for a moment. It would take a little more patience to guide him home.
"Doyle, you're very close to spending a lot more time alone...or not. You and Amy have to start being honest with each other." Doyle thought this over and smiled, pointing to a photo from a recent school dance of a kissing couple. "Hmm...well, yes, there's that but have some patience. Love is one of the greatest gifts a person can give."
"I'm...I'm a little scared."
"Let's go together. I'll show you the way." They were met at the door by McBrain, who adjusted her glasses and looked awkward when Zach took her aside and whispered an explanation to her.
"Romance? Well, if it will keep them from snapping at each other as they have been...That is...Human children! They are always the most difficult of all. We'll have to watch them closely."
"Very good, Amy." Niko looked up at the girl in the singlet from the mat on the gym floor and admitted that Amy was taking to hand-to-hand combat training like a natural. If they had more time, she would have liked to start Amy on a program of psi training as well. The girl seemed a natural at that as well. Niko didn't know how much time they had here but she had an idea. "Please join me and sit."
Amy sat across from her, crossing her legs, and Niko took her hands palms perpendicular to the ground. "Amy, do you trust me?"
The girl looked a little scared but nodded. "You're like the sister I want to have here, Niko. Wendy's too snooty, Gilda's always talking about other people and Booie...Booie's caught up in her music and just not all there."
"In a way that's why I'm glad I got to meet you here, Amy. I also feel alone sometimes with just the guys...of course there is Shane." They both giggled. "I want us to touch each other in a way I've trained in. Do you feel up to it?" Amy nodded and Niko touched her badge, then started to focus her mind outward after they rejoined hands.
Niko touched Amy in her mind and found it to be gentle, though scared. There were so many things there but Niko followed the flow along to a shy, intelligent, pretty girl in a blouse, skirt, socklets and saddle shoes. She followed by two steps a boy Niko recognized as Doyle. The boy repeatedly laughed at Amy and treated her with disdain, brushing her aside in his arrogant manner-the cad! Niko wanted to cry. Then...a trip across the wonders of the galaxy and the girl was transformed. Dress was changed for singlet, hair was cut and styled, makeup was added...a total makeover. The intelligence was still there but the shyness was-mostly-gone. Amy was at the center of a circle of girls and had some boy admirers now also. Yet...
...The boy was still there, still dressed the same. She no longer walked two steps behind him but now they were in each other's face yelling. Niko's own mind screamed at the disharmony and she reeled, hitting the floor and breaking the connection. Amy looked down at her once more.
"Shane. You love him, Niko."
"Yes." Blinking, she stood back up.
"Does he know?"
"He knows. We haven't been able to get all the words out yet but in our minds, our bodies...we know. And there is something else."
"You love Doyle."
"Maybe." Amy's face fell. "He wouldn't want to hear it if I did. Back on Earth, we went to the same school for years. The other kids, the teachers, the coaches there didn't treat brains the same way they did brawn so Doyle ruled the place. He was the star of the football and hockey teams, only noticed me to shove me out of the way."
"And?" Niko looked in Amy's eyes and Amy sighed.
"Things changed. We were the two from Earth selected from all the high schools this time for a year at Galaxy High. I got in on my grades, which they think real important here, so I got all this new stuff. My own apartment, my own new car, a set of-some-new clothes, even new friends. Doyle didn't do quite as well, his grades were so low that they forced him to get a part-time job to develop some discipline and he's not quite the tough guy anymore with Beef here. We're still not doing any better...he's the only steady connection to home I've had but he seems to blame me for being more his equal now. And he's still enough of a bigtime athlete here that not all the arrogance is gone. I just need him to trust me when I'm ready to trust him."
"Men! It's taken so long for Shane and I to get even as far we have because of his stubborn nature..."
"Doyle's not really that bad. He's just confused, knows now that it's easy for the king of the hill to fall. He just doesn't know where to go for help."
"He doesn't? Well I know!" Niko took Amy's hand and led her out the door. They were met by Centaur, who snorted when they told her where they were going. "Men!" Centaur jumped in the air, putting her two legs foward. Amy and Niko agreed.
Zach, Doyle and McBrain met Niko, Amy and Centaur halfway down the hall. Zach and Niko nodded at each other and made a signal to the teachers to give Doyle and Amy some space. Doyle looked at Amy, looked back at Zach and looked about to run. Zach shook his head at him and Doyle gulped and faced Amy again. Amy tried to take his hand and Doyle jumped, then looked back at Zach again. Zach barred the way but gave them enough room for privacy. Amy said something, then Doyle nodded and Amy continued. Doyle nodded now and then as Amy talked, smiling occasionally and laughing once. Doyle started talking in response and Amy crossed her hands in front of her and looked down. Finally they took each other's hands and hugged.
"All right, that's enough," McBrain pronounced, adjusting her glasses again. "I don't want you two getting too close." Zach and Niko looked at each other and nodded.
"Mission accomplished," Zach said.
"Let's check on the others," Niko said.
"Searchlight is a very effective tool, Milo. In the time you and Icenstein have downloaded a fraction of the data on time and dimensional travel in this baby, I've tapped all the files already." They were leaning over a keyboard in front of the huge Galaxy High mainframes. Icenstein blinked at Doc Hartford's resourcefulness, took his glasses off and cleaned them, then replaced them on his face. It was an effort for Doc to keep from laughing at loud at this strange professor of ice with the German accent but...people are what they are, he knew.
"Then what do you need us for?" Milo DeVenus' voice was not the least bit sarcastic. He genuinely couldn't understand why this man he was starting to admire so much would need help.
"Everyone needs help sometime. Even me. I'm a hacker extraordinaire, yes, a Ranger and a lot of other things but not nearly the physicist your Professor here is. I can retrieve the data and examine it but I need the Prof's opinion on how best to use it."
"Do you? Hold on, Milo, I'm going to finish this file for the Professor. Then..." It was quite some time longer that they were at it but finally Icenstein nodded.
"Ya, excellent. I should haff you Rangers home in no time."
"Our own time will do, Prof." Icenstein looked at him strangely, not understanding the joke. Oh well, as the Prof himself had just said, Doc wouldn't have the time to get this wall laughing. And anyway they both had other concerns. Doc nodded and left Icenstein to his calculations, then took a walk with Milo.
"Milo...Milo. See, I just said it twice."
"So?" Milo took his glasses off and cleaned them in a nearly exact imitation of Icenstein. No wonder McBrain had said he was socially awkward and clumsy, despite his great intellect and six arms. Icenstein had contaminated him.
"You've got different sides to you, that's what it means. Same as anyone else. Except maybe the Queen...she's just plain nasty."
"I'm just a Venusian who wants to be a scientist. They got me a job at the pizza parlor to earn extra money but that's about all outside of science and I'm not that good a chef. Fast but too clumsy. Even the class president thing was just because I had the best grades before Amy got here."
"Then be a scientist. But don't deny yourself from being other things you're capable of." They had reached a training room, one of the many at Galaxy High. This one was empty save for some mats, a ring, and some supposedly non-lethal weapons such as staffs, small clubs, juggling pins and so forth. Well...it had been said that anything could be dangerous given the proper training. Or anyone. Doc put that theory to the test.
"You want me to fight you?" Milo had taken off his bowtie a few minutes later and put his glasses aside. He was nervously handling a wooden staff in two of the six arms.
"Just sparring. Try to parry my attack and counter, Milo. Here we go." At first it was hopeless. Milo constantly fumbled his weapon and tripped over himself. Fought more like a blasted caterpillar than a human! Doc froze and held that thought a microsecond later. Of course...
"Milo, I think I know what part of your problem is. You've been trying to imitate Doyle and Beef whenever you try to get into shape. But you're not human or Avian..."
"No but I'm clumsy even for a Venusian. You should have seen me back on Venus, that's part of why they shipped me out." Doc had to inwardly shake his head again. Humanoids on Venus in this universe! Wonders never ceased, in his own the nearest aliens were so much farther away...But to business.
"You may be but if you start using what you've got, you'll do well enough here and be able to protect yourself if necessary. After all you're the only Venusian here aren't you?"
"But how? What can you show me, Doctor Hartford? You're as human as Doyle." Funny how in this melange of species the Rangers were thought to be so human, it had occurred to Doc, when on their own Earth the implants had given them something of a freak status among other humans. Galaxy High had at least given him a fresh perspective as well as affording him time practicing with his tweakers once they had come back on line, away from the Queen's force field.
"On my Earth, Milo, we respect the abilities of different animals, not just humans. There's one martial arts style in particular I think you'll take to." Milo looked at him, puzzled again, but Doc went ahead and spent the next hours giving Milo a crash course in the animal forms of wu shu, especially the spider. Milo learned slowly how to balance different weapons in each of the six hands, how to coordinate each hand in attack and defense, and how to use the six arms to follow up in multiple attacks. It took a lifetime to master but Doc was starting to hope he had shown Milo the right road.
"That's it, you're getting to be too much for me already," Doc gasped after landing on the mat after taking three punches from three different hands quickly. Milo looked apologetic. "Don't be sorry, just be controlled and you'll be all right," Doc smiled as he noticed Zach, Niko, McBrain, Centaur and the two human kids come in.
"Shame on you, Doc, you're making this kid into a swashbuckler already," Niko warned with more than trace of humor in her voice. Doc got up and wiped his brow.
"Only teaching showing him how to use the most of what his body has. The mind he's got covered and the physical stuff he was born with, he just needs the knowledge."
"Whatever you say," Zach replied. "Icenstein tells us he's almost ready, let's round up the others if you're finished here."
"We could spend decades and never be finished, Zach," Doc grew serious. "But maybe the few words we've exchanged will be enough. I want to see how Goose did with that hardcase."
Beef had finally come around to respect Goose. He had even admitted, on condition that Goose not repeat it, that he respected Doyle for beating him at zuggleball. But as for the rest of humanity...
"Earth still stinks! Maybe you don't, Goosebo-Gooseman. And Doyle's kinda on the same team with me in zuggleball, heck he's our captain. But that's just two on the whole planet. The rest o' you humans...I've seen how soft Amy is, the rest o' you humans are gonna hafta prove you're okay, like you and Doyle did with me."
"You're going to fight a whole planet?" Goose sighed. Teaching this boy was like pulling one tooth at a time. You thought you were making progress when it just got more painful. "No, Beef, we're not like you on the outside. But maybe inside we have some of the same emotions, the same thoughts-"
"You're different!" Beef caught himself after that. "Tough, maybe some of you, but different."
"Are we?" Goose tried a new tack and hit his badge. Slowly he morphed into a rough approximation of Beef's form. Now Beef was shocked, more than he had been when Goose beat hin previously.
"You're...me! But...ah come on, it's just a trick."
"So it is. But what's to tell us apart?"
"Hey I know I'm me. It's what's inside the Beefer that counts-Hey! You tricked me, Goose-man!" Goose smiled.
"Think about it, Beef. Get to know people, humans and others, individually before you start judging. Now I'm not saying to go soft but fight when it's important to you, not as a reaction to everything." Beef grew quiet and mulled this over as Goose changed back to his human form. Just then the other Rangers showed up on the practice field outside with their charges and the Galaxy High faculty. Niko took his arm.
"Showing this boy how to fight, are you? You and Doc are impossible..."
"More like showing him when to fight and when not to. Or trying to at least, darlin'."
"Icenstein's got the platform running. There's only a small window of time for us to get back where we belong, he's traced our path here," Zach spoke up.
"Don't let us stop you. Beef here nearly has me wore out."
The Rangers stepped onto the dimensional platform in the science hall once they were done whispering to each other. Icenstein nodded and remembered something that had been on his mind.
"Ya, by the vay...I traced also this Queen you mentioned. She was thrown to another dimension entirely. One ve haff called Oz from the few known travels there and back. Vitches and vizards rule there, some of them vicked." The Rangers hadn't heard of this Oz but understood enough of Icenstein's accented English to know it sounded like a good place for the Queen. "One thing, Goose-man," Beef was shouting as Icenstein pulled levers and activated the platform. "You ever get back here, I want a rematch."
"Keep working on those moves I showed you and you'll get one some day."
"What about my moves?" Milo looked downcast. "We had just started."
"Don't worry," Doc laughed. "I input a year's worth of wu shu lessons on a disk." He tossed it to Milo. "After that, you're on your own."
Doyle and Amy didn't seem to need to say any goodbyes. They held hands and smiled at Zach and Niko. Niko took the signal and Goose's hand. Learning wasn't a one way effort. Zach made a thumbs up sign as the platform went into action, blurring the four Rangers, blurring the room, blurring the Galaxy High students and staff...then the Rangers were gone.
Doyle leaned on Amy a little and frowned. "I'm going to miss those Rangers," he said slowly. Amy nodded, even Beef crossed his arms and seemed to agree. But Milo was looking inside the disk folder Shane Gooseman had tossed him. He blinked in amusement, surprise, wonder all at once.
"What is it?" McBrain asked him, eager to get the students back to normal classes but wanting to see if they had learned anything of note from the Rangers. Milo tilted the folder and poured out four small stars, one each for Doyle, Amy, Beef and himself.
"They wrote here that they want the four of us to be honorary Rangers in this universe, bringing honor to the name. It says, 'p.s. No guts, no glory.'"
"I got plenty of guts!" Beef hit his chest.
"Me too!" Doyle shouted, not to be outdone.
"It also says, 'p.p.s Beef and Doyle, the greatest power is the power to be responsible.'"
"Hey! We're gonna be responsible!" Beef was proud of himself, like the time he had been appointed temporary teacher of one of the lower grades.
"Yes," finished McBrain, watching them closely and smiling, "you will."