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Power Rangers Ride The Rails
#13 - "Independent Rangers, part 1" (Originally Written In: 2017)

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"Okay, Phoenix," Brandon said, his voice emanating through the loudspeaker in the Weapon Testing Room, "the others haven't been able to make this work. Are you sure you want to try it?"

"I ain't afraid of no experimental powers," he replied. "Bring it on!" Brandon motioned toward Alex, who took the experimental #7 Engine Charger into the room and handed it to Phoenix. "Purple? Not normally my color, but I'll give it a shot."

"Now, we've been fine-tuning this, and we think we've ironed out the bug that electrocutes you when you try to use it."

"Well, that's good -- Wait, what? Electrocution?"

"What's wrong? I thought you weren't 'afraid of no experimental powers.' You're not chickening out, are you?"

"I guess not." He gulped, and then inserted the Engine Charger into his Rail Morpher. "TQG... Activate..." He nervously lowered the gate mechanism, triggering the morphing sequence. He felt the energy pulse through his system, and he did transform into a Purple Ranger, but only for a few seconds before demorphing completely. He looked at the smoldering Engine Charger on his wrist. "Um... Can someone take this out? I don't want to lose my good arm before the big game!"

"Oh, geez! Alex, go and get it!" She nodded and ran into the room, grabbing a fire extinguisher on her way. She sprayed Phoenix's wrist, cooling the Engine Charger down, and then used a grabbing tool to remove it from his morpher. She took it out of the room. "Phoenix? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine. A little warm, but otherwise fine."

"That's better than Riley fared a few weeks back. We're making progress!"

~*~

Gabriela and Kaori stood outside of the guys' quarters, beating on the door. "Let us in! Let us in!"

Riley opened the door. "What's going on?" They ran in past him, each holding a paperback novel with a black and green cover. "What's that?"

"It's this incredible new book called 'Selfie,'" Gabriela explained. "The author, Elizabeth Perkins, lives here in Venture Capital! Isn't that fantastic?"

"Not only that, but check out this dreamy guy on the cover!" Kaori handed Riley her copy. "If I ever meet him, I'd do things to him that would make even Chase blush."

Chase, who was lying on his bed reading the newspaper, just grinned. "It'd take a LOT to make me blush." He picked up the bottle of L&P on his nightstand and took a sip.

"Um... Chase?" Riley questioned.

"Yeah, mate?"

"You might want to take a look at this cover." He tossed the book over to his friend. "Anything look... Oh, I don't know... Familiar to you?"

Chase looked at the book, then tossed it back to Kaori. "No, not really."

"Why would Chase know anything about this book cover?" Kaori asked. "Unless..." She looked at Chase, then back to the book cover, then back to Chase, and finally back to the cover. She shook her head. "Nah, it couldn't be. This guy's way hotter than Chase."

"He's almost at Otome levels of dreaminess," Gabriela said.

"Anyway..." Riley interjected. "What's the big to-do with this book?"

"It's just a really good story."

"And, this shirtless gentleman on the cover had NOTHING to do with why you picked it up? I didn't think cryptic cypher mysteries were up either of your alleys."

"Maybe our tastes are changing," Gabriela retorted.

"Yeah! People's tastes change as they get older, you know," Kaori added.

Riley put his hands up. "Okay, sorry!"

"C'mon, Gabi, let's get back to our room and read some more!"

She leaned over toward Kaori. "Is that what we're calling it now?" Kaori elbowed her in the stomach. "Oof! I mean, right behind you!" She coughed, trying to regain her composure. The two ladies walked out of the room, closing the door behind them.

Riley walked over to Chase's bed. "So, when should we tell them that you're the cover model?"

Chase looked up. "And, ruin their fantasies? No way. Kaylee made sure that Elizabeth would obsure it enough that nobody would ever figure out it was me, and --" He set down the newspaper. "Wait, how do YOU know that I'm the cover guy?"

"You don't think I know what you look like with your shirt off?" Riley asked. "Think back to being trapped on Xityrant's ship..."

"Oh, yeah, you did see the total package. Clearly, you liked what you saw, if it stuck around in your mind like that." Riley blushed a little. Chase grinned. "Yeah, you did..."

"I... I've got to go," Riley said, stuttering to find his words. "Something suddenly came up. Bye!" He took off out of the room.

"Yeah, he did..." Chase went back to reading his newspaper.

~*~

Joopy wandered around the farm, wondering what his next move should be. "Those Rangers have thwarted me at every turn. Their weapons are just too powerful, and that Megazord..." He snapped his fingers. "Wait! That's it! I'll make sure that they CAN'T use their weapons!" He summoned his monster-creator syringe and squeezed out some ooze, which formed into a monster. "I'll call you Mysterian!"

"Can you not do better than that?" Mysterian asked.

The syringe disappeared. "Excellent! Now, I want you to go into the city and wreak some havoc. Make people talk in nothing but questions, especially the Power Rangers! If they can't properly summon their arsenal, then they won't be able to stop you!"

"Should I not have some support?"

Joopy sighed. "It's always about support with you monsters." He snapped his fingers, and several Nightmare creatures jumped out of Mysterian's body. "There."

"Was that so difficult?"

"Just go!"

"Should I retreat if things get dangerous?" Joopy glared at him. "Should I not take the hint and leave?" Mysterian and his Nightmares teleported away.

Joopy sighed. "This is going to end well..."

~*~

Mysterian and his squadron of grunts appeared outside of Lone Star High. He looked around and saw some students sitting on the steps. He motioned toward the grunts. "Wouldn't it be fun if we started with them?" He asked, pointing toward the students. The Nightmares nodded and made their way over to them.

"Oh, my gosh, Stef," Kelly said, "that's such a horrible idea for my show!"

"For once, we agree," Dominic added.

"But," Stefanie said, pouting, "I thought it'd be a good idea to have a pie-eating contest!"

"Have you tasted the school cafeteria's pies?" Kelly asked, cringing. "Ugh, they're terrible! Also, they're full of calories, and I've got to maintain my girlish figure!" Dominic rolled his eyes. "What?"

"Oh, nothing. I, for one, liked the idea. You're just shooting it down because I'd beat you SO HARD at it."

"That's not it at all!"

"Yes, it is, and you know it. Everything on this show has to be about you, you, you. You want it so bad? You can have it!" Dominic stood up and walked back inside.

"Can you believe him?" Kelly asked. "He's so conceited!" She looked over and saw the Nightmares standing there. "What are you guys looking at?"

Stefanie turned around. "Um, Kelly... I don't think they're friendly..."

"Hey, nerds! Cosplay Club meets in the back of the school!"

Mysterian appeared behind the Nightmares. "Isn't it a nice day, ladies?" Kelly and Stefanie screamed, but their screams were soon silenced when Mysterian sprayed them with his Inqusition Mist. "Well, isn't it a nice day?"

"Should we not be running away, Stefanie?" Kelly asked. Her eyes widened. "What's happening?"

"Why are you asking questions?" Stefanie looked around. "Why am *I* asking questions?"

"Shouldn't we be going?"

"Would that not be a good idea?" Stefanie and Kelly jumped up and ran away.

"Wasn't that a successful test?" Mysterian asked. "Should we wait for the Rangers to show up?"

~*~

-"ALERT! ALIEN ACTIVITY DETECTED AT THE HIGH SCHOOL!"-

Chase threw the newspaper aside, jumped out of bed, and ran into the hall, where he met up with Riley, Phoenix, Gabriela, and Kaori. "The school?"

Phoenix gasped. "That thing will destroy my trophies!"

"It's not always about you, Phoenix," Gabriela interjected. "We need to get there before he messes with our friends!"

"Right," Riley spoke. "Let's go. We'll morph on the way." The others nodded, and they ran off toward the exit.

~*~

Mysterian and the Nightmares were sitting on the steps. A few of the grunts were playing 'Rock, Paper, Scissors' out of boredom. Mysterian sighed. "What's taking them so long?"

-"Hydro Cannon, Pressure Blast!"- Mysterian was struck with a sphere of pressurized water, dousing him as Chase led the team to the scene. "Sorry we're late. There was traffic!"

Mysterian stood up, the water dripping off of his body. "Was that any way to greet a guest?"

"Aw, are you all wet? Maybe you could use a blast of wind to dry yourself off." Riley pulled out his Wind Saber. "Wind Saber, Tornado Spin!" He slashed through the air, sending a tornado right at Mysterian, striking him and knocking him down the stairs as the Nightmares jumped out of the way.

Mysterian coughed. "What are you all waiting for? Shouldn't you be attacking them?" The Nightmares nodded and charged toward the Rangers, who engaged them in combat, trading blows and weapon slashes as Mysterian struggled to get up. Once he was up, he surveyed the battle. "Is this not an opportune time to strike? Which ones should I spray? Perhaps the Green and Pink ones?" He held up his Inquisiton Mist Sprayer and joined in the battle, making sure to get in and out quickly, spraying Phoenix and Kaori with the mist.

"What the--?" Phoenix wiped his visor.

"What was that?" Kaori gagged, wiping off her helmet.

"Was that not a success? Perhaps, we should take this opportunity and leave?" Mysterian teleported away, taking his Nightmares with him.

Phoenix and Kaori leaned against a tree and removed their helmets. Question marks briefly flashed in their eyes. Riley and Chase ran up to Phoenix, and Gabriela ran up to Kaori. Riley held Phoenix up. "Are you okay, man?"

"Why are you asking me that? Didn't you see what happened?" Phoenix asked.

"Okay..." Riley backed up and walked over to Chase. "Something's not right with him."

"You're just now figuring that out?" Chase snickered. Riley elbowed him. "Ow!"

"I'm serious! I think that monster did something to him."

-"Guys!"- Gabriela screamed. They ran over to her. "Watch. Kaori, what's 2 + 2?"

"Why are you asking me such a trivial question? Is the answer not 4?"

The three of them looked at each other. "Uh-oh..."

"We'd better get you to Brandon for examination," Riley said. "Chase, you grab onto Phoenix. Gabriela, you get Kaori." When the others were in place, Riley led the teleportation back to TQGHQ.

~*~

Mysterian and the Nightmares walked into the barn, and were greeted by an ecstatic Joopy. "It worked!"

"Are you surprised by that?"

"To be quite honest, yes. You did a good job by getting two of the Rangers, but you only got two of them. Why didn't you get all five?"

"What if I did get them all? Would it not be as much fun to keep attacking without future objectives?"

"Hm... You have a point there. At least, I think that you do. Anyway, with two of the Rangers down, they're pretty much powerless to stop me!"

"Was that not the objective all along?"

"Man, that's an annoying shtick. Get back there and lay waste to the city! Without the entire team, they can't call their powerful weapon, nor can they pilot the Megazord! It's the perfect time to attack!"

"Should I take the Nightmares with me?"

"Sure, why not?" Mysterian bowed in allegiance and teleported back to the city, taking his grunts with him.

~*~

Phoenix and Kaori laid on neighboring beds in the medical examination area of TQGHQ. Brandon walked in, flanked by an array of nurses and technicians. "What happened out there?"

"It seems like Joopy's latest monster sprayed Phoenix and Kaori with something that makes them only talk in questions," Riley explained.

"It's really annoying," Gabriela added.

"Now's not the time," Chase interjected.

"Sorry."

"Really? Nothing but questions, eh? That's fascinating." Brandon approached Phoenix. "What's your name?"

"What's in a name? Is it not just a term to address someone by without simply referring to them as, 'hey, you'?"

Brandon's eyes widened. "Wow..." He turned toward Kaori. "What day is today?"

"Is it not Wednesday?"

He turned toward the other Rangers. "They're definitely speaking in nothing but questions. This means that they can't join you on the field."

"What do you mean by that?" Gabriela asked.

"Without the ability to form complete sentences, they'll be useless in combat. They cannot summon their weapons, and I'm even questioning their ability to pilot their Rail Riders and the Megazord."

"I can understand not being able to summon the Hurricane Cannon," Riley mused, "but, you've all piloted the Rail Riders in the past. Why not send - oh, I don't know - Alex and Mackayla in Phoenix's and Kaori's places if we need the Megazord?"

"You're right, mate," Chase added. "Why can't you send them with the Riders, Brandon?"

He pondered the idea. "I suppose I could, but what do you think the odds are that the monster will return before I prepare an antidote?"

Just then, the alarms sounded throughout the base. -"ALERT! ALIEN ACTIVITY DETECTED IN THE QUARRY!"-

Chase and Riley looked at each other and smiled. "I'd say they're pretty good," Chase commented.

"I see that, even on another planet, monsters still flock to rock quarries," Riley spoke.

"We have a quarry here?" Gabriela asked.

"Apparently. You three had better go and hold him off. I'll try and get Phoenix and Kaori back in fighting condition. Let me know if you'll need the Rail Riders, and I'll send Alex and Mackayla with them."

"Will you be careful out there?" Kaori asked.

"Why don't you kick that monster's butt for making me talk like this?" Phoenix inquired.

"Why couldn't it be singing? At least THAT would be enjoyable," Chase commented.

"Don't throw ideas out into the universe, because you never know what Joopy's capable of. Anyway, are you two ready to go?"

"Ready!" Chase and Gabriela shouted.

"Good. Let's defeat this guy once and for all."

The three Rangers took out their Engine Chargers and inserted them into their Rail Morphers, lowering the gate mechanisms to initiate the morphing process. "TQG, Activate!" Energy enveloped each of them, shattering after a brief time to reveal their Ranger forms. They teleported out of the medical center.

~*~

"Couldn't we have picked a different area to attack?" Mysterian mused. "Isn't this kind of, well, empty?"

-"Lightning Hammer, Strike!"- Gabriela swung her hammer toward the ground, sending an electrically-charged shockwave toward Mysterian from behind.

"What's that?" He turned around, but it wasn't fast enough. The energy from Gabriela's attack pulsed through his body, causing him to spark and fly backward toward a rock wall. He struggled to get up, brushing himself off. "Who did that?"

"We did," Riley shouted as he, Chase, and Gabriela ran toward him, "and there's more where that came from." He charged up his sword. "Wind Saber, Tornado Spin!" He slashed through the air, sending a small tornado flying toward Mysterian, which knocked him back into the same wall.

"Why do you keep knocking me into this same wall?"

"'Cause it's fun," Gabriela replied. "Duh."

"You seem depressed because we keep knocking you into the wall," Chase spoke.

"Wouldn't it be more pleasant to do something else?"

"Why don't you drown your sorrows with some water?" Chase summoned his blaster weapon. "Hydro Cannon, Pressure Blast!" He charged up a large sphere of water and sent it flying toward Mysterian, who took the full brunt of the impact.

Mysterian coughed and looked around at the Nightmares, who were just standing around, watching. "Why aren't you defending my honor?"

"We don't get paid enough for this." They teleported away.

"Isn't that wonderful?" Mysterian mused.

"Do you give up yet?" Riley asked.

"Do I not have one more trick up my sleeve? Why don't you watch this?" Mysterian focused his energy and started to glow.

Chase asked, "What's he doing?"

"If I had to guess," Riley replied, "I'd say he's about to grow to a gargantuan size."

"Maybe we should throw everything we have at him while he's charging up," Gabriela said. "We can try to defeat him before he grows."

"Good idea. Let's do it." Riley took aim at Mysterian. "Wind Saber, Tornado Spin!"

Chase took aim. "Hydro Cannon, Pressure Blast!"

"Lightning Hammer, Strike!"

The three attacks combined into a swirling waterspout with electricity surging through it. The combined attack struck Mysterian, sending him flying away. When he landed, he exploded. The Rangers lowered their weapons.

"Looks like we did it!" Gabriela exclaimed.

"Good idea to combine our attacks, Gabi," Chase commented, giving her a high-five.

"Aw, thanks!"

"Do you think that destroying the monster negated its effects on Phoenix and Kaori?" Riley asked.

"Let's check." Gabriela spoke into her Rail Morpher, "Gabriela to Brandon... Come in!"

~*~

In the exam room, Phoenix and Kaori glowed for a brief second, before the energy shattered. They sat up. "I feel... Weird," Phoenix spoke.

"Me, too," Kaori added. "What happened to us out there?"

"That creature sprayed us with something, and that's all I remember."

Brandon walked in. "I don't know, Gabriela. We're still working on the antidote, but I'll check." He looked at the two Rangers. "How are you guys feeling?"

"We're ready to kick some monster butt!" Phoenix shouted.

"Gabriela?" Brandon spoke into his communicator. "Yeah, they're fine. Guess I'll just put this antidote we were working on aside." He ended the call. "Nobody ever appreciates the scientist..." He walked back out of the room.

~*~

"They're fine," Gabriela said, lowering her arm. "Is that thing really gone?"

-"Not a chance, pathetic Rangers!"- Joopy appeared in a flash of blue and gold light, armed with his syringe of growth potion. "The answer: The cause of your destruction. The question: What is a gigantic Mysterian?" He laughed, shooting the growth potion all over the pieces of the monster. "Cheers!" He teleported away as Mysterian reformed and grew to city-wrecking proportions.

"Is this not the end of your city, puny Rangers?" He asked, his voice echoing from above.

"Aw, man! They never stay dead!" Gabriela pouted.

-"Phoenix to Riley, come in!"- Riley answered the communicator signal. -"Is everything okay out there?"-

"We sure could use your help, and the Rail Riders!"

-"We're on our way."-

~*~

Phoenix got out of his exam bed and looked at Kaori, who did the same. "You ready to do this?"

"You know it!"

The two grabbed their Rail Morphers and their Engine Chargers. They inserted their Chargers into their Morphers and lowered the gate mechanisms, triggering the start of the morphing process. "TQG, Activate!" Energy fields enveloped the two Rangers, as streams of colored energy formed around their bodies, shattering to reveal their Ranger uniforms. Manifestations of their Rail Riders zoomed around their heads as their helmets formed, colliding with the fronts to create their visors. The energy fields dissolved, revealing the two Rangers, who teleported into their Rail Riders.

~*~

The five Rail Riders departed and headed for the city on their multicolored tracks. As they approached the city, Riley heard their whistles. The three remaining Rangers teleported into their respective cockpits, and the five Rail Riders came together to form the Rail Rider Megazord, armed with its sword. It assumed a defensive pose as it faced Mysterian.

"Should I be afraid of your candy-colored robot, Rangers?"

-"You should be!"- Phoenix's voice boomed from the Megazord's speakers.

-"We're going to send you right back to the English book you escaped from!"- Chase added.

"Do you really think you can defeat me? Would you take this?" He grabbed a nearby billboard, ripped it from its supports, and flung it at the Megazord.

~*~

"Slice it, Riley!" Kaori shouted.

"Right!"

"But, that's the 'Selfie' billboard!" Chase exclaimed, a hint of panic in his voice.

"Don't destroy it!" Gabriela shouted.

"Sorry, guys, but I've got to do what I've got to do!" Riley commanded.

~*~

The Megazord sliced through the billboard, halving it as it flew past them and landed on the ground below, further breaking into multiple pieces. Inside the cockpit, Chase and Gabriela both sighed. Outside, Mysterian wasn't pleased. "Why won't you let me win?"

-"We've got a final ending for you. Rail Rider Megazord, Super Slash!"- The Megazord hopped onto two of the train tracks and rode them toward Mysterian at blazing speed, holding its sword in front of its body. As it sped past the monster, it slashed right through his midsection, causing him to explode upon impact. It stopped and turned around once it was a short distance past the monster, whose particles dissipated into the air.

~*~

"The answer: A *really* irritating monster. The question: Who did we just destroy?"

"Riley," Chase growled, "don't you EVEN start..."

"What? Do you not like it when I speak in questions?"

"Riley..."

"Does it annoy you?" Riley smirked underneath his helmet. "Should I keep going?" Chase smacked the back of his head. "Ow! Okay, I'll stop!"

~*~

Back at TQGHQ, the Ranger teens were walking toward their quarters. Phoenix and Kaori were asking about what had transpired earlier. "So, you mean to tell me that I was just talking in questions all the time?" Phoenix asked.

"Yep, and you were even more annoying than you usually are," Gabriela replied.

"Aw, you DO care!" He spoke, giving her a hug as she tried to push him away. "Don't fight the love!"

"Ew! Get off of me!" She broke free enough to run toward her room.

Phoenix followed her. "I knew that you liked me!"

Kaori stopped at her room. "I'd better get to bed. After what happened today, I think I need the rest. Not only that, but, if I'm asleep when she gets back, I don't have to hear her complain about Phoenix. 'Night, guys." She walked into her room.

"G'night," Riley said as the door closed behind her.

"So, mate, what do you think about that blue guy?"

"He's not Xityrant, that's for sure."

"Secondary villain, like Heckyl?"

"I'm not sure he's related. I do have to wonder, though... Whatever happened to Xityrant?"

~*~

"We're approaching our destination, sir," Entoborg spoke.

"Excellent!" Xityrant shouted. "Soon, the end of TQG's Rangers will be at hand! Prepare to land, and get ready to begin the assault!"

"At once, sir!" Entoborg walked out of the bridge, heading toward the lower level of the ship and the Training Area.

Xityrant laughed. "Wait until you see what Daddy's bringing home, Rangers..."
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