Kaori was sitting at her desk in her quarters, when she suddenly felt someone sneaking up behind her. -"Stay calm. You're probably just imagining it,"- she thought. As the breathing got closer, her palms started to sweat. She set her book down, slowly, and prepared for the worst.
-"Blah!"- A male voice shouted from behind her. She jumped up, closed her eyes, grabbed the intruder's arm, and flung him to the ground. "Ow!"
She opened them and looked at her intruder. "Riley? ... What are you wearing?"
Riley coughed, trying to regain his composure. "It's a vampire costume. Halloween's coming up, remember?"
"Halloween?" She thought about it. "Oh, that holiday that our parents all celebrated back on Earth? That's still a thing there?"
"What?!" Riley jumped up and faced her. "What do you mean, 'still a thing there'? It's only THE greatest time of the year!"
"Meh," Kaori commented. "Seems like a lot of work for some candy, if you ask me."
"It's not JUST about the candy, Kaori. It's about the thrill of scaring the pants off of people, and trying to outdo your neighbors' displays... It's a great time all around!"
"Like I said, it seems like a lot of work for some candy."
"You've... Never celebrated it, have you?" She shook her head. Riley rubbed his palms together in a sinister manner. "Excellent..."
She looked at him, confused. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Oh, nothing!" Riley looked at his wrist, where a watch would normally be. "Oh, would you look at the time? I'd better get going!"
"You're not wearing a watch."
He looked at his wrist again. "Then it's time for me to get one! Bye!" He raised his arms to the side. "Blah!" He ran out of her room, pretending to fly.
Gabriela walked in as Riley was running out. She looked at him in confusion, then looked at Kaori. "What was that all about?"
"Riley's getting into the Halloween spirit. Earth boys... Go fig."
She dropped what she was carrying. "Oh, my gosh! There's never been a Halloween celebration here! It'll be just like living in the 1990s! The costumes! The haunted houses! The free candy! Eeeeeee...!"
"Are you feeling okay?"
"I'll be back!" She turned and ran out of the room. "Riley! Wait up!"
Kaori sighed. "Smart chicks... Go fig."
Down the hall, Gabriela ran into Riley, knocking him to the ground. "Wait up!"
"Oof!" Riley brushed himself off and turned to face her. "What's happening?"
She tried to catch her breath. "Kaori... You... Halloween... Want in... Free candy!"
He stood up, grinning. "You want to join in our Halloween festivities?" Gabriela nodded. "Excellent!"
"Are the other guys as into Halloween as you seem to be?"
"Well, Chase is, and we're bringing Phoenix around. I think he might just be going along with it to satiate us, since we're living together and he can't escape it."
"Hm... I'll ask him later, and I'll get the scoop. If he's not, then we should get him and Kaori together and prank them. Between the three of us, we can probably set up an *incredible* prank! They'll likely never speak to us again."
"Such is the price one pays on Halloween," Riley said, drawing his cape up over his mouth. Quickly, he drew it away. "We shall devise a prank like no other!"
"I like this devilish side of you." She leaned in toward Riley. "What did you have in mind?"
"Silly girl!" Riley exclaimed, trying his best to imitate a Dracula accent. "I cannot reveal the secrets just yet!"
"You mean, you don't know what the prank's going to be yet."
"No! I mean, I don't want you accidentally blurting it out."
"...And, I have no idea what the prank should be."
Riley covered her mouth. "Shh!"
In the woods on the outskirts of Venture Capital, a well started to glow. After a few seconds, the light dimmed, and a creature emerged from the top. The monster, gerbil-like in appearance, crawled out of the well and sniffed around, seeking out some sort of sustenance. He sniffed, and his ears perked up when he came across the scent of candy. He scurried into the trees and peeked his head through the other side, where he saw a couple of familiar faces dividing up their Halloween bounty.
"Now, Mack," Jack explained, "the way this works is simple: We pool our candy in one pile and divide it 70/30."
"That's not fair, because you only got five pieces of candy, compared to the sackful that I have."
"But, that's always how we've done it!"
"Yeah, when we were children! We're teenagers now! Also, I can't help it if people like me better than you."
-"If you're having that much trouble deciding, I'll take it all!"-
"Did... Did you say something?" Jack asked, nervously.
"No... I thought you did..."
-"I'm over here, boys..."- The two teens slowly turned toward the nearby woods and saw the gerbil monster looking back at them. "Hello!"
"Whew," Jack sighed, "it's just one of the kids from Drama Club."
"You're not getting my candy, Arnie!"
"Who's Arnie? I'm the demonized spirit of Admiral Mason Dickson, and I demand that you give me your food, by order of the Royal Militia!"
The two teens looked at each other. "Mason Dickson?"
"Wait," Mack interjected, "I remember reading about him in History class. Apparently, he went to a fortune teller before the final battle of the Colonization War. When he scoffed at the fortune teller for telling him that he was going to lose the battle, she cursed him to turn into a giant gerbil monster." He looked at the monster. "If you truly are Admiral Mason Dickson, then riddle me this: What color was the cloak that the fortune teller was wearing when she cursed you?"
"Oh, you're ~good~. Jack, I think we should give him our candy."
"Wait just a cotton pickin' minute! You wouldn't share your candy with me, but a possessed gerbil monster shows up, and you'll share with HIM?"
"He's a member of the Royal Militia, Jack! I have to!" Mack handed his sack of candy over to the monster. "Here, your Admiral-ship!"
"Thanks!" The gerbil monster looked toward Jack. "What about you, pal?"
"No way." Jack shook his head. "These five pieces of candy are mine, and nobody's taking them from me!"
"Suit yourself. That's how my curse started."
Jack looked nervously at the candy, then to the gerbil monster staring at him, then back to the candy. "On second thought..." He threw the candy at the monster. "It's all yours! Let's go, Skinny!" He grabbed Mack's arm and dragged him off.
"It was nice meeting you!" Mack exclaimed as Jack dragged him off.
"Modern-day humans... I'll never understand them," Mason said, devouring the candy.
Gabriela walked into the guys' quarters, and saw that Phoenix was reading an older book. She crept up behind him. "What'cha doin'?" She asked.
Phoenix jumped. "Don't... DO that!"
"Sorry," she replied, peering over his shoulder. "What's that book?"
"It's some olden day history book. Mom and Dad found it lying around in our library, and they sent it to me. It's actually pretty interesting, especially this one soldier, Admiral Mason Dickson."
"Wasn't he the leader of the Colonist forces in the Colonization War?"
"Yeah, and that's where it gets interesting," Phoenix explained, grabbing the book and reading it. "According to my research, he sought out a fortune teller near the end of the battle, and wound up being cursed to take on the form of a gerbil."
"A gerbil? Sounds familiar..."
"Remember that weird sorceress woman that popped up the other day?" Chase asked, walking back into the room.
"Oh, yeah! Didn't she say something about a gerbil?"
Phoenix kept reading, and his eyes widened after he turned a page. "Gabi, Chase... Look at this." The two of them walked behind Phoenix and looked at the page. "Does she look familiar?"
"Oh, my gosh... It's HER!" Gabriela exclaimed.
"You don't think it could just be a coincidence, do you?" Chase asked. "It's late-October, after all. Maybe she was just wearing a costume and it's all just some sort of prank... Wait."
Phoenix and Gabriela looked at Chase. "What?"
"Riley. This is all some elaborate prank of his."
"What are you talking about?" Phoenix asked. "It's right here in my family's book."
"No, not that. I'm not saying that it didn't happen. I'm saying that the whole sorceress thing isn't a coincidence. Riley's planning a prank, and this is all part of it. It's got 'Riley Griffin' written all over it."
"Really?" Gabriela asked. "You think that Riley's capable of pulling off a prank that spans weeks and is connected to Mirinoi history?" Chase nodded. "Well, you're wrong."
"Riley hasn't even started PLANNING the prank that he wants to pull on you yet. In fact, I ran into him in the hall, and came in here to get intel on whether or not Phoenix was as into Halloween as you and Riley are. We were going to band together and pull a prank on Kaori."
Suddenly, the alarm started to sound. -"ALERT! ACTIVITY DETECTED IN THE PARK!"-
Riley ran into the room. "We need to get to the park!"
Chase laughed. "Dressed like that, Count Chocula?"
"What?" Chase motioned toward Riley's outfit, and he looked down. "Never mind that. We need to get to the park!" Phoenix and Gabriela ran past Riley, into the hallway. Chase didn't budge. "Come on!"
He laughed. "This is all a part of your big prank, isn't it? We get to the park, and walk into some elaborate setup where we get pelted by water balloons... Or, potato salad catapults... Or--"
Riley grabbed Chase by his shirt. "Come. ON!" He dragged him off.
"I still say this is a prank, and don't pull on my shirt so hard. It's new!"
The gang ran through the entrance to the park, right past Big Jack and Skinny Mack. Phoenix grabbed Jack by the sleeve of his jacket. "What's going on?"
"Gerbil monster... Stole candy... No time to talk!" Jack wrenched his jacket free and kept running.
Skinny Mack stopped. "The spirit of Admiral Mason Dickson asked us for our candy, so we gave it to him. Well, *I* did. Jack refused, until Mason told him that hoarding candy was how his curse started. Finally, Jack gave up the five pieces of candy he had, and we ran off."
"So, this phantom is still in the park?" Riley asked. Mack nodded. "Thanks. Let's go!"
"Wait... You five are running TOWARD that thing?" They nodded. Mack shrugged. "It's your funeral." He ran off after Jack.
"What do you think that was about?" Kaori asked.
"You're asking with those two?" Gabriela commented.
"Enough, guys! We've got to get to that monster... Thing."
"Sorry," Gabriela and Kaori replied, in unison.
The five of them ran into the park, where they encountered the gerbil monster. "Hey, you! Monster thing!" Riley exclaimed.
Mason slowly turned around, his hands filled with candy. "Excuse me?" He hissed.
"Aah!" The five Rangers screamed, frightened by his appearance.
"Um... We're here to stop you, Admiral Dickson," Gabriela spoke. "So... Leave us!"
Mason laughed. "No way! I've got a sack full of delicious candy. Why would I leave?"
Suddenly, several flashes of light blinded both the Rangers and Mason. Everyone shielded their eyes as a figure emerged from the light. "Stop right there, Admiral Dickson!" She exclaimed.
The Rangers looked at her. "You!"
"You..." Mason growled. "You did this to me!"
"Serves you right for trying to stiff me on what you owe me, Admiral," the sorceress sneered.
"Can't you just... Lift your curse and change him back?" Chase asked. "Seems to me like that would solve everyone's problems."
"I can't do that. Not until I get what's coming to me."
"Oh, I'll give you what's coming to you," Mason said, preparing to lunge at her.
"Stop!" Riley shouted, running between Mason and the sorceress. "Now," he spoke, turning toward Mason, "I'm pretty sure that you're an honorable soldier, and you wouldn't want to intentionally harm anyone unless they truly did you wrong. Right?"
"I suppose..." Mason nodded.
"Good." He turned around, facing the sorceress. "Now, you're likely an honorable businesswoman, are you not? You started your own company, and you wouldn't let something as silly as an unpaid tab let you potentially lose your source of income, would you?"
"What do you mean?" She asked.
"Let's say - and, feel free to back me up here, gang - that you were to lend your services out to anybody that requested them: Birthday parties, Renaissance Faires, town festivals... Basically, people would pay you money for what you were doing years ago."
"Sounds promising," the sorceress replied.
Riley glared at the others, motioning for backup. Chase stepped up. "Right! People go bananas --" He immediately noticed a look of confusion on her face. "--I'm sorry. People absolutely love the paranormal. If you can deliver them a legitimate fortune that will definitely come true, they'll compensate you handsomely!"
"Oh, gosh, yes!" Gabriela ran up next to Riley. "I, for one, would love to have my palm read and have it turn out to be true!"
"Really?" She asked, looking around at the Ranger teens, who were all nodding. "Hm... I never really thought about it."
"Um?" Mason interjected, waving. "I'm still here, you know."
"Oh, right." The sorceress waved her hand. "Abra-cadabra."
Mason started to glow. He shouted in pain as he transformed from his gerbil form back into his human form. When the transformation was finished, Mason looked down and saw that his regular form had returned. "I'm back to being me." He looked at the Rangers. "Thank you, my friends, but... What will become of me now?"
"I have an idea," Kaori spoke. "Venture Capital's annual Halloween party is coming up, and they could always use another attraction."
"Oh, that's good! My family puts it on every year, and I'm sure I could talk them into giving you two space for a tent," Phoenix added.
"I didn't think you were into Halloween, Kaori," Gabriela commented.
"Hey," she smirked. "I'm full of surprises!"
Mason approached the sorceress, extending his hand out for hers. She put her hand in his. "What do you say, m'lady?"
She summoned a fan and started to fan herself off. "Why, Admiral Dickson, you charmer!" She pulled her hand away. "Not until you pay me what you owe me."
"I'll handle it," Phoenix spoke up. "How much does he owe you?"
The Rangers' jaws dropped. "That's IT?!"
"Why didn't you just pay it?" Phoenix asked.
Mason shrugged. "It was the principle of the matter. I did not like the fortune she provided, so I didn't pay."
"Was it worth being turned into a weird gerbil monster for years?" Gabriela asked. Mason tossed a York Peppermint Patty bar at her, which she caught in the air. "Ooh, Mack got the good stuff!" Everyone scowled at her as she unwrapped the piece of candy and started to eat it. "What?"
Phoenix shook his head, and handed the sorceress a dollar bill. "Keep the change."
"Thanks!" She put her hand back out, and Mason took it again. "Now that the debt is settled, let's start raking in the big money!" She looked back at Phoenix. "We're in! Just name the time and place."
"It's tomorrow night in the Town Square, starting at around 6:00."
"We shall see you then, my friends," Mason said. He and the sorceress waved and turned to walk away.
"Before you go," Riley spoke, "what's your name, anyway?"
"Call me Eriel," the sorceress replied. "Farewell, Rangers!" She and Mason walked off.
"She's so gorgeous," Chase commented. Riley elbowed him in the side. "Ow!"
"You have a very possessive girlfriend, remember?"
"Doesn't mean that I can't comment on other women, mate!" Chase looked around at the others, who were all looking in other directions and whistling. He looked back at Riley. "Doesn't it?"
"Hey," he replied, putting his hands up, "she's your crazy girlfriend!"
The next night, Mason and Eriel were walking through town toward the Square, when they walked past a cemetery. As they walked past, we see hands start to pop up from various graves throughout the area. As the beings emerge, we hear a voiceover...
-"Darkness falls across the land. The half-night hour is close at hand. Creatures crawl in search of food, to terrorize your neighborhood. And, whosoever shall be found, without the soul for getting down, must stand and face Mason the Gerbil, and rot inside a corpse'd shell..."- Chase spoke. -"I love this part."-
In the Town Square, we see more beings pop out from sewers and make their way toward Mason and Eriel. -"The foulest stench is in the air: The funk of wet gerbil hair, and grisly ghouls from every tomb are closing in to seal your doom. And, though you fight to stay alive, your body starts to shiver, for no mere mortal can resist... The evil of the Thriller..."- We pan around to the zombies, who look like the Rangers and various members of TQG. As they close in on Mason and Eriel, we zoom in close on Eriel, as she turns and sees that Mason has turned back into his gerbil form. She backs away as Mason leads our zombified cast in the Thriller dance!