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Power Rangers Ride The Rails
#17 - "Yuletide Engagement" (Originally Written In: 2017)

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Xityrant walked into his henchmen's quarters, where the six of them were asleep. He coughed, then shouted, "WAKE UP!"

Entoborg sprang out of his bed and ran up to him, saluting. "Yes, sir!"

Xityrant looked past him toward the others, who barely moved. "I knew that I could always count on you." He handed him a strange looking saber. "Give this to Orion. I don't trust him, and this will ensure his loyalty to me."

Entoborg took the saber and looked at it. "It looks pretty strange, sir. You're sure that this will ensure his loyalty to you?"

"If not, it will ensure that he goes insane enough to get destroyed by those Mirinoi Rangers." He shrugged. "Either way, I win."

"Yes, sir." Entoborg walked out of the room.

Xityrant looked at the others, who were still sleeping. He shook his head. "Minions..."

~*~

Down below, Entoborg walked into the Prison Chamber, where Orion was asleep. He slammed the door closed and turned all of the lights on, startling Orion, who quickly rolled out of his bed and fell to the floor. "Good, you're awake." He walked over to his cell, holding the saber. "Master Xityrant has this new weapon for you."

Orion stood up, brushing himself off. "I don't need any special weapons from the likes of you. I have all of the power I could ever need."

"Maybe so, but this saber is made from the finest Navidadium material, guaranteed to be unstoppable against TQG, and whoever they might have as an ally."

"Allies?" Orion looked at him, strangely. "What do you mean?"

"Well, there *is* that girl that you were with when we rescued you from your home planet. Remember?"

He thought back to that day, and images of Gia flashed through his mind. "Gia..." He growled. "Do you think she's allied herself with the Rangers?"

"There's only one way to find out," Entoborg said, passing the saber through the bars of Orion's cell. "Take this and use it to draw them out."

Orion hesitated, but took the saber from Entoborg, who backed away from the door to the cell. He looked the saber over, touching the pink-colored points on it. "Why's it pink?" Suddenly, the saber glowed, with energy crackling all around it. "What's happening?" The energy crackled down Orion's arm and through his entire body. He felt every muscle in his body tighten. "It hurts!" He screamed in pain as his form was transformed into a green monster. His clothes became a black spandex outfit. He roared as the transformation finished. "Why am I locked in here?" He slashed through the bars of the cell, obliterating the door and storming out. He focused on Entoborg. "YOU!"

Entoborg stuttered. "M-me?"

"Yes, you! Which way is the exit?" When Entoborg didn't instantly answer, Orion slashed at the wall. "Never mind. I'll make my own way out." He ran to the back of his cell and hacked away at the wall, until he broke through. He turned around. "Arrivederci!" He jumped out of the ship.

"Well... I didn't see that coming."

~*~

"Well... I didn't see that coming." Riley looked at Chase, who had his arm around Kaylee's waist. "You guys got engaged?"

"You jealous?" Kaylee sneered, waving the ring in Riley's face.

"Do you think I care if you guys got engaged? More power to you, and don't wave your ring in my face," Riley replied.

"Well, I was hoping that you'd be my Best Man, mate," Chase commented.

Riley was stunned. "Really?" Chase nodded. "Thank you!"

"HIM?" Kaylee growled. "You're asking HIM to be your Best Man?"

He turned to her. "Is there a problem?" He stared into her eyes.

"I..." She looked down. "No."

"I didn't think so. Now, don't you have something you want to ask the girls?"

Kaylee walked over to Gabriela and Kaori. "Would either of you like to be my Maid of Honor?"

"I barely know you," Gabriela replied.

"And, I don't really do the whole wedding thing," Kaori added.

"Good, then I'll do it!"

Kaori looked at her. "Gabriela!"

"Thank you so much," Kaylee said. "It means a lot that you'd take on such a huge responsibility. I should let you know right now: I can be very demanding..."

"No!" Kaori gasped.

"Hey, if I can handle being Kelly's right-hand woman, I think I can handle a simple wedding."

"Great! Let's start planning!" Kaylee grabbed Gabriela's arm and dragged her out of the room.

"Isn't your wedding not for another year?" She asked. Chase nodded. "Is it too late to reconsider?" She asked as she was dragged through the door.

-"Yep!"- Kaylee shouted from in the hall.

Phoenix watched as they were dragged out. "Say, Chase?"

"Yeah?"

"If you'd like, you can have your wedding at my place. We've got plenty of room, and you can have the reception in our Guest House."

"You mean it?" Phoenix nodded. "Thanks, mate! I really appreciate it!"

"Will the little woman agree with you?"

"I have ways of making her agree with me..." Chase winked. "...If you know what I mean."

Phoenix laughed, and Chase joined him. Riley looked at the two of them. "What do you mean?" Chase leaned over and whispered into Riley's ear. He pushed him away. "Aw, dude! TMI!"

"Well, you did ask." Chase grinned.

"I've got to go," Riley said. He walked out of the room.

"What's with him?" Phoenix asked.

"We go back a long time. I think he's still confused over my proposing to Kaylee. I'll let him process it for a bit."

"Think he'll come around?"

"I hope so."

~*~

Gia was walking through the Town Square, and came across Dwayne's stand. She looked at some of the more unusual looking produce items, picking them up and examining them. "What are these?"

"Why, that right there's a bunch of Grape Tomatoes!" Dwayne smiled at her. "It's our own secret blend!"

"Don't you mean 'Cherry' Tomatoes? I've never heard of 'Grape' Tomatoes," Gia commented.

"Well, funny thing about that. You see, our youngest daughter mixed up the seeds for the grapes and the tomatoes, and this is what happened. It's pretty popular, so we decided to make up the lore behind it. Say, you from around these parts?"

"Me? Oh, no, I'm from Earth. My friend, Orion, got into some trouble, and I'm here helping TQG keep tabs on him."

Dwayne looked over her shoulder and saw the monster Orion land a couple of blocks away. He pointed in his direction. "That wouldn't be the fella over there, would it?"

She turned around, and her eyes widened. "I've got to go." She dropped the bunch of Grape Tomatoes back into the basket. "I'll be back for those! They sound interesting!"

"I'll save one for ya! Good luck!"

"Thanks!" She shouted as she ran toward the monster. "What have you gotten yourself into now, Orion?" As she got closer, she slowed down and tried to stay out of his field of vision. She studied him. "That's not the same Orion I know..." Suddenly, a pair of Spectres grabbed her and dragged her out of hiding. "Let me go!"

"Ah, Gia," the monster said, turning around to face her, "you always were one to sniff out the goings-on of the evil empire of the Armada."

"Orion?"

"Do you like the new me, my dear?" He bowed. "It's an upgrade, thanks to Master Xityrant."

She struggled to get free. "You're not Orion. The Orion I know wouldn't work for any villain empire, no matter what they promised him!"

"Ah, but this time, I've got a fantastic new sword, this sweet black outfit, and an instantaneous teleporting ability." He disappeared and reappeared right in front of her. "Isn't this cool, Gia?"

"No, and I know that, somewhere deep down, the real Orion's in there. Can't you see that you've been brainwashed?"

He laughed. "No, my dear. I've been shown the truth. TQG's an awful organization, run by the most vile of people, and those candy-colored misfits are only looking out for their own best interests."

"Best interests, huh? Like this?" She stomped on the Spectres' feet, causing them to let her go. She pulled out her Gosei Morpher and transformed into the Yellow Ranger. "If you're really a monster, you'll have no problem fighting me, won't you?"

"Impudent fools!" He slashed through the Spectres, destroying them. "As for you, I needn't sully my hands with fighting you myself. I'll leave that for this monster." He snapped his fingers, and a black-and-pink-colored monster appeared.

"Matches your sword," Gia commented. "You think she's going to be able to stop me?" He snapped his fingers again, and teleported away. "Coward!"

"I'm going to freeze you in your tracks with my Citizen Kane attack!" Rosebud extended her arms, and the roses on her shoulders began to charge up.

"We'll see about that," she replied, drawing out a shield card.

"Freeze!" She shot a steady beam of cool blue energy at Gia, enveloping her before she could activate her shield card.

"No! I... I can't... Move!" Gia froze in place.

At that moment, a young gentleman rounded the corner and stopped in his tracks. He ducked behind a trash can to avoid being seen.

"Whoo! It worked! Now, I'll just take you somewhere for safe keeping." Rosebud placed a hand on Gia's shoulder, and the two teleported away.

The young man emerged from his hiding place, raised up his glasses, rubbed his eyes, and lowered his glasses again. "Did that just happen?" He shook his head. "No, Courtland, you're not seeing giant rose monsters kidnapping Power Rangers. You've been reading too many comic books." He turned around and bumped right into Riley. "Excuse me."

"No, you're fine. It was totally my fault. I should've been watching where I was going."

"If you just saw what I just saw... Nah, forget it."

"What did you just see?"

"I'm not sure, but I think I just saw a monster kidnap a Yellow Ranger. Something about 'taking her somewhere for safe keeping.'"

"A Yellow Ranger?" He thought about Gabriela, but figured she was still back at the base. "Oh, no."

"What is it?"

"I just remembered somewhere that I needed to be."

Courtland looked at him strangely. "Really? You're going to leave the one person that saw the kidnapping go down and try to save her yourself? No chance. I'm coming with you."

"You have no idea what you're getting into, plus I have no idea who you even are."

He extended his hand. "I'm Courtland. You?"

Riley shook his hand. "Riley. TQG."

"No way! You work for the Terra-Quasar Group? I tried to get in there, but I got wait-listed. So, I decided to help out with my dad's construction business instead."

"Uh-huh, that's fascinating," Riley commented, dismissing Courtland's story. "Listen, we don't have a lot of time. That Yellow Ranger might be in danger, and I don't know the first thing about how skilled you are as a fighter. You should really just stay out of the way, and leave this to the professionals." He turned around and ran off.

Courtland watched as he ran away. "'Leave this to the professionals,' huh? Fat chance. Good thing I slipped a tracker into that guy's back pocket when he wasn't looking." He pulled out his cell phone and loaded up the tracking app. After a few seconds, Riley's location showed up. "It worked! Now, what to help out with...?" He snapped his fingers. "Got it!"

~*~

Riley contacted Brandon on his Rail Morpher. "Brandon? It's Riley. Are you there?"

-"I'm here. What's up?"-

"I think Xityrant kidnapped Gia and is holding her hostage somewhere. Can you do a scan and figure out where she is?"

-"On it. I'll let you know what I find."-

"Thanks." He looked around the area. "If I were a monster, where would I take a Yellow Ranger?"

~*~

"Allow me."

~*~

Seismodeluder appeared behind Riley. "Yoo-hoo! Red Ranger!" He turned around, surprised to see her. "Didn't expect to see me, did you?"

"I can't say that I did, but you won't last for long." He pulled out his Engine Charger. "Let's do this."

"I don't think so, Ranger! Tremor Restoration!" She jumped into the air and slammed into the ground, causing an earthquake attack, which knocked Riley to the ground. She stood up. "Aw, what's wrong? Did my beauty sweep you off of your feet?"

Riley struggled to get up. "It wasn't your beauty that did it. More like your booty!"

She growled. "Are you calling me fat?"

"If the armor fits..."

"Why, I oughtta--" She was interrupted by a loud horn. "What the--?" Suddenly, a large wrecking ball knocked her into the side of a nearby office tower. She slowly slid down, landing face down.

"What was that?" Riley got up and looked around, seeing a construction vehicle barreling toward him. He squinted, barely able to make out the driver. "Who...?"

"No time! Get in!" The vehicle slowed down, and Riley jumped into the cabin. "Surprised to see me?"

He rubbed his eyes. "Courtland? But, how?"

"I guess you could say that I came in like a wrecking ball!" He smiled. "Oh, you want to know how I found you?" Riley nodded. "Well, I slid a tracking beacon into your jeans when you weren't looking, and that's how I was able to track you down."

"You did WHAT?"

"Hey, I always get what I want." He smirked. "Now, let's send that creep packing!"

"I don't have to take this!" Seismodeluder shouted. "Nobody knocks baby into a corner!"

"Hey, ugly!" Courtland yelled from inside the cabin. "Ready for Round 2?"

She felt her face and noticed that there was a lump. "You... You ruined my beauty! I'm leaving!" She teleported away.

"Yeah, you'd better run!" Courtland exclaimed. He looked over at Riley. "What do you think?"

"I think you're crazy, and..." He grabbed his head. "Whoa..."

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine..." He slid down the back of the cabin, passing out.

"Riley! I'd better get you to the ER!"

-"Not so fast!"- Orion appeared in front of the vehicle. "Surprise!"

"Whoa! Who are you?"

"Allow me to introduce myself. The name's Claus, Santa Claus." He flash-teleported a short distance away. "Here's your present!" He sent several blasts toward Courtland's vehicle, causing fiery eruptions all around it.

Courtland looked around. "I've got to do something." He noticed Riley's Rail Morpher. "What's that?" He saw the Engine Charger sticking out of Riley's pocket. "I shouldn't... But, we're in trouble. I don't think he'd mind if I just borrowed it." He undid the Rail Morpher and snatched Riley's Engine Charger. He put the Morpher on his own wrist, and jumped out of the vehicle. "Hey, ugly! You don't look like any Santa Claus that I've heard of!"

"Cute, a wanna-be Power Ranger. I'll bet that you don't even know how to operate that Morpher."

"How hard could it be?" Courtland inserted the Engine Charger into the Rail Morpher and lowered the gate, which instantly transformed him into a black version of the Red Ranger. "Aw, cool! I'm a Power Ranger!"

Orion rubbed his eyes. "That's impossible!"

"Nothing's impossible, creep!" Courtland looked through the HUD inside the helmet, which studied Orion closely. "According to my research, if I destroy your sword, your power will be diminished. Wind Saber!" The sword appeared in his hands. "Awesome! Let's do this!"

"You think you can take me on? You're just a novice!"

-"How about taking on all five of us?"- Orion turned around and saw the other four Rangers arrive on the scene, led by Phoenix. "That's right, ugly! We're all here!"

"What's up with Riley?" Kaori asked, pointing at the Black Ranger.

"Must be some kind of upgrade," Chase replied. "No matter. Let's send this creep packing!"

"Let's combine our weapons!" Gabriela suggested.

"Good idea. Hey, Ry! Come join us!"

-"Aw, man, they think I'm their friend! Better go along with it."- Courtland thought. He ran over to join the others. "Let's bring them together! Wind Saber!"

"Hydro Cannon!"

"Flame Axe!"

"Lightning Hammer!"

"Earth Claw!" The five Rangers combined their weapons to form the Hurricane Cannon. "I'll do the honors," Kaori said, inserting her Engine Charger into the blaster.

"Nice toy, but it won't be enough to defeat me!"

"Aim for his sword!" Courtland shouted.

"Right! Hurricane Cannon, Earth Blast!" The Rangers fired Kaori's Engine Charger at Orion, which transformed into a barrage of rose petals, which sliced right through his sword and sent it falling to the ground.

"My sword!" Orion growled. Suddenly, energy crackled throughout his body, and his monster form started to shatter. "No! What's happening to me?" He glowed with green energy, which shattered to reveal Orion's civilian form. He collapsed to the ground. He slowly stood up and looked around. "Where am I?"

"Not so fast." Phoenix and Chase ran up to him and held onto him. "What should we do with him?" Phoenix asked.

"We could take him back to the base for safe keeping," Chase suggested. "With him out of the way, that's one less threat that we have to worry about." He looked toward Courtland. "What do you think, Riley?"

"Um... I think there's something that I should tell you." Courtland removed his helmet, revealing his true form. "I'm not your friend."

"WHAT?!" All four Rangers were stunned.

Gabriela ran up to him. "Where's our friend?"

Courtland pointed to his construction vehicle. "Some creepy monster attacked him earlier and nearly killed him. I rushed in and saved him, but then that guy showed up, and I had to do something, so I, um, borrowed his morphing device. I guess, because I'm not the actual owner, my costume is black instead of red. He's pretty beaten up."

Gabriela grabbed onto him. "Kaori, check that vehicle for Riley. As for you, we'll be taking that..." She ripped the morpher off of Courtland's wrist, causing him to demorph. "I like your long hair."

"Thanks. I grew it out when I spent a summer living with the natives, and my dad doesn't like it. He wants me to cut it and be 'respectable' for his construction firm. I've kept it because I'm such a rebel."

"You know who else has long hair? My boyfriend. It's so luxurious!"

"Really?"

"Gabi!" Kaori shouted. "He's in here. We'd better get back to the base."

"You're coming with us, interloper," Gabriela said.

"That's fine. Do you see me resisting?"

~*~

Seismodeluder walked into the Training Room, where Entoborg was sketching out a battle plan. "So, how'd it go?"

"That creep slammed me with a giant metal ball and ruined my beauty!"

"Fascinating. You know, Orion summoned a monster of his own and captured a Ranger in about ten seconds."

"So?"

"So, I'm just saying that Xityrant doesn't take too kindly to failure. You'd better come up with a strategy to combat the Rangers, since you're the latest one that went down there."

"Yeah, well... Um..."

He turned around. "Yes?"

"Oh, forget it!" She teleported off.

"It's only a matter of time..."

~*~

Riley and Orion were lying in separate medical beds in the Treatment Room at TQGHQ. Orion was strapped down more securely than Riley was, since he was going to be held for questioning. Chase, Phoenix, and Kaori were surrounding them. "What do you think we should do with Orion when he gets better?" Kaori asked.

"I say we kick his butt from here to Butt-Kicking-Ville for trying to defeat us," Phoenix replied, pounding one fist into his other hand.

"Normally, I'd be with you, mate, but we need to think like Riley, which means that we need to be calm and collected," Chase commented.

"So, what would Riley do?" Kaori asked.

"I think he'd want him detained for questioning, and he'd probably also suggest that we de-brainwash him."

-"Hey, guys!"- Mackayla ran in, holding a sealed box. "Guess what? We perfected the #7 Engine Charger! It's right here in this box!"

"Why did you bring it out of the R&D Room?" Kaori scolded her. "You know that it's top secret technology!"

She frowned. "I'm sorry. I'll put it back."

"Good."

Brandon ran in. "Guys, I found Gia's biorhythms. She's being held by some monster that calls itself 'Rosebud.' They're in an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of town."

"That's good news," Chase commented. "What about the interloper?"

"Gabriela's still with him. They're in Kendrix's office."

"We'd better go and hunt down that monster," Kaori spoke. "Mackayla, make sure you take that box back to R&D, then tell Gabriela to come and join us."

"Yes, ma'am," she replied.

"C'mon, guys, let's find Gia," Phoenix commanded. He, Chase, and Kaori teleported away.

~*~

"...And, that's what happened," Courtland explained. "I saw that thing kidnap your friend, and wanted to help. Riley wouldn't let me, but I decided to follow him anyhow."

"Well, it's a good thing that you were there to save him," Kendrix explained, "but, taking his Rail Morpher without permission and jumping into battle was pretty dangerous, to say nothing about planting a tracking device on him without his consent."

Brandon knocked on the door. "Um, sis? Gabriela's needed to join the other Rangers. They found Gia and went off to battle."

Gabriela got up. "Where are they?"

"The old abandoned Mistress Cakes distribution warehouse on the outskirts of town."

"Got it." She teleported away. Brandon walked out of the office.

"Now, what are we going to do with you?" Kendrix asked. "You know all about us, and I'm still not sure that you're not a double-agent."

"Would I have been this consentual if I was working both sides of the aisle?"

"You could have your own agenda."

He sighed. "My only agenda is wanting to help Riley out. He seemed really tweaked earlier, and I just wanted to talk, but that whole monster attack thing happened, and I didn't get a chance to."

"Seems to me like you've got a crush on him."

"Maybe..."

"Why don't you go over to the Medical Treatment Bay and visit with him? It's down on the Second Floor. Just follow the signs."

"Thank you, ma'am," Courtland said, standing up.

He started to walk out of the room, when Kendrix stopped him. "Oh, and Courtland?" He turned around. "If you'll accept it, we can start you on Project: CITRUS."

"What's that?"

"Just say yes."

"Yes."

She smiled. "That's the spirit!" He walked out of the room.

~*~

Courtland walked into the Treatment Room, where Mackayla was still waiting around. "Um... Hello."

"Hi! I'm Mackayla, and you are?"

"The name's Courtland. Riley and I go way back."

"Really? He's never mentioned you before."

"We go way back... To this afternoon. See, I saved him when that guy attacked him, so we're totally bonded for life."

"Really? That's awesome! You're, like, a real hero!"

"Can we have some privacy?"

"Oh, sure. I'll just draw the curtain and check Orion's vital signs. Just pretend like I'm not here." She pulled the curtain around Orion's bed.

Courtland looked at the unconscious Riley. He checked his vitals, which were holding steady. "You've been through a lot. I just hope that, when you come out of it, you'll open up and let me in. I just want to be there if you need someone to talk to. Heck, I don't even know if you can hear me. If you can, then just know that I'm just a phone call away, if you want to talk about anything." He leaned down and gently kissed him on the cheek. "I'll always be here." He saw Riley smirk. Courtland grinned. "You ARE in there!"

Mackayla threw back the curtain. "Aww! How sweet! I'm totally signing up for Team Ryland!"

Courtland blushed, feeling a little embarrassed that Mackayla heard the whole thing. "Aw, shucks..."

"I think you two will make a great couple. Riley's a tough nut to crack, though. I've been trying for months, and nothing. You have thirty seconds with him, and you're practically engaged!"

"I wouldn't go that far. He IS unconscious, after all."

"Yeah, well, you got a smile out of him. Every great relationship starts somewhere!"

"Maybe... I should get going, though. Kendrix said something about a 'Project CITRUS.' What is that?"

"It's our Orange Ranger. From what I've seen of the designs, he's AWESOME!"

"Really?" Courtland grinned. "You guys are going to make me a Ranger?"

"Why not? From what I've heard, you're quite the hero."

"It was nothing, really. Now, I should really get going. See ya!" Courtland walked out of the room.

"Bye!" Mackayla picked up the box and started to walk out of the room, when Orion started to wake up. He opened his eyes and looked around. "Where am I?"

"You're in TQG's Medical Treatment Room," Mackayla replied.

"And, why am I tied down to this bed?"

"Because you've been brainwashed, and we don't want you escaping, duh."

Orion smiled. "You know, you're very pretty. Why don't you come a little closer and give me a kiss?"

"I really shouldn't..."

"C'mon... Nobody has to know..." He smirked.

"You're not going to try anything?"

"Do I look like the kind of guy that would pull a fast one on such a pretty young lady like you?"

"Well... No, I suppose..."

"Excellent. Now, come closer..."

~*~

TO BE CONTINUED...!
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