Chapter 8: Here Kitty Kitty

by juniperphoenix

The afternoon heat was oppressive. Tanya, who was used to it, didn't notice as she idly leafed through Billy's chemistry book. Billy had been delighted that morning when Rocky gave him the battered, scorched textbook… and that mood had been shared by all the Rangers. Everyone was excited about Billy's recovery, and they'd stayed by his side all morning.

By comparison, the clinic now seemed quiet and empty. Rachel and Aisha had gone off on their daily field observations, and everyone else had gone to take care of Billy's escape pod. Only Tanya and Kat had stayed behind with Billy… and he was asleep, so nothing much was going on. Tanya had spent the last hour reading, while Kat amused herself by exploring the clinic.

Tanya had just learned the difference between esters and ethers when Rachel and Aisha walked in.

"Hey, guys," said Aisha cheerfully, as she began putting up their gear. "Where is everybody?"

"They went out to where you guys found Billy yesterday," replied Katherine. "They were going to see about moving the pod."

"Everybody went?" Aisha asked, surprised.

"Yeah," Tanya replied. "I thought they'd never get Adam and Trini out of here! Billy finally convinced them that he'd be all right, and they needed to go."

Aisha nodded. Besides Billy, only Trini and Adam knew enough about the teleporter to move something as big as the escape pod. They'd need to find precise coordinates so Alpha could get a lock.

"Speaking of Billy, how's he doing?" Rachel asked.

"Better," said Tanya. She glanced over at the sleeping teen, and smiled at the peaceful look on his face. "I think he's getting his strength back… he was sitting up for a while. He's been sleeping a lot, though."

"I'm not surprised. He's been through a lot. And the medication I gave him this morning was pretty strong."

"No kidding!" said Kat. "I think it was a little too strong! He keeps talking about seeing colored lights or something."

"Yeah, I heard him this morning," Rachel said. "I can't figure out why, either. That really shouldn't happen…" She trailed off, staring at Kat.

"What are you doing?" she asked in an incredulous tone. Katherine was sitting on a mat on the ground, next to the cages that lined one wall of the tent. That in itself wasn't unusual. What Rachel hadn't noticed before was that one of the cages was open, and its occupant, a furry beige creature, was curled up in Kat's lap.

"I was just playing with him," Kat said. "Should I have asked first?"

"N-no," answered Rachel in surprise. "I don't mind… but you do realize that's a lion cub, don't you?"

Kat nodded. "Isn't he adorable?" The young lion made what was almost a purring sound, and snuggled up against the girl's fuzzy pink sweater.

"He usually isn't this friendly with strangers," Rachel commented. "I'm surprised he even let you pick him up."

"Oh, I didn't," Kat said. "He just climbed into my lap when I opened the cage."

"She gets along really well with cats," Aisha explained, with a grin in Katherine's direction. Her dark eyes sparkled with mischief and the memory of chasing a certain white house cat around the yard.

"Why is he in the clinic?" Tanya asked, looking at the young lion. "He doesn't look sick."

"He's not," Rachel replied. "C.C. is as healthy as he can get."

Kat raised an eyebrow. "C.C.?"

"Clinic Cat," Rachel explained. "Aisha named him."

"I see." Kat glanced at Aisha, who merely grinned and gave a little shrug.

"We brought C.C. here after his mother died," continued Rachel. "He was too young to care for himself in the wild, so we were going to raise him here. Then we discovered that he seems to be immune to the plague."

"That's our main project right now," Aisha added. "If we can figure out what make C.C. immune, we might be able to come up with a cure for the other animals."

"Well, C.C., it sounds like you're pretty important around here," Kat told the cub, giving it an affectionate scratch behind the ears. It mewed as if in agreement, and the girls laughed.

High above in the Machine Skybase, Queen Machina fought down nausea. "Laughter… ugh! And the way they're fawning over that dreadful creature is positively disgusting!" She turned away from the viewscreen with a rustling of skirts, and began to fan herself furiously.

I'm certainly glad Mondo hasn't been in here for a while, the queen reflected. There had been enough love and caring coming over the viewscreen in the past few hours to make anyone ill. It certainly would not have improved the Machine King's mood.

"It was bad enough when they were all worried about their friend," Machina muttered, "but now they have to go and fuss over that… that animal as well!" The queen shuddered.

Klank, who'd been lurking silently in a corner of the room, stepped forward to address the queen. "But don't ye see, Yer Majesty?" the bronze and silver robot began. "That cub could present a great opportunity for us!"

"I hardly see how."

"Think about it, Yer Majesty. What if that cub were to suddenly turn against the Rangers?"

Machina did a double take. "No. You don't mean… That hideous creature?!"

"T'would be the perfect monster, Yer Majesty," Klank replied. "Those Ranger lassies wouldnae lay a hand on it! They'd be afraid of hurtin' the cub."

"But… a monster? That?" Machina gestured towards the viewer, making no effort to hide her distaste. "It's so… soft and… and cuddly."

"Aye, but I'm sure ye can change that. When that wee little cub has been transformed into a cyborg, t'will be unstoppable! We can capture Billy and destroy the Rangers!"

Machina considered for a moment. It wasn't especially difficult to transform living creatures into monsters, although she and Mondo had never tried it. It should be an interesting challenge for the monster labs… and seeing the looks on the Rangers' faces as their sweet little pet attacked them would be fun.

Mind made up, she turned back to Klank. "Tell the labs to prepare for a new project," she commanded. "I'll be sending their subject along shortly."

"Aye, Yer Majesty." There was satisfaction in Klank's voice as he bowed and left the room.

Machina turned again to look into the viewer. Instead of disgust, though, she now regarded the happy scene with smug anticipation. "Laugh while you can, Rangers," she addressed the images of Kat and Tanya. "Soon, my CyberKitty will put an end to your happiness once and for all!"

"This is a blood sample from one of the zebras that was here yesterday," Rachel explained, preparing a microscope slide. For the past hour, she and Aisha had been doing some lab work as Tanya and Katherine watched. Billy was still asleep.

Kat bent to look into the microscope. "What will you do with it?" she asked curiously.

"I'm going to test this sample with some of C.C.'s blood," replied Rachel. "Watching for changes in the sample might tell us what's causing this disease." The veterinarian went to a drawer and took out some equipment. "Kat," she said over her shoulder, "would you bring C.C. over here, please?"

"Oh, sure." Katherine got up and went to the cage. She bent down to open it and gasped. "He's gone!"

"What?" Aisha was there in an instant. "Where did he go?"

"I don't know," Katherine replied in agitation, her blue eyes filled with worry. "The cage was locked."

"We'd better start looking for him," Rachel said grimly. "Who knows how long he's been gone." She stepped outside the clinic.

"What the-?!" She dashed back inside, her face pale.

"What's the matter?" Tanya asked, seeing Rachel's expression.

"There's… there's something out there!" the veterinarian said simply. "I don't know what they are!"

"'They?'" Tanya went to the entrance and looked out. A short distance away, the bright sunlight gleamed on silver bodies and golden heads. Tanya turned quickly to Kat and Aisha. "Cogs!"

"Oh, no!" Kat got to her feet quickly, followed by Aisha. The two girls joined Tanya at the entrance, and looked out to see a group of fifteen or twenty Cogs.

"What are those things?" Rachel demanded.

"There's no time to explain!" replied Kat. "Stay here with Billy!"

"But where are you…"

They were already gone.

Jason, Tommy, Zack, Kimberly, Trini, Rocky, and Adam were on their way back to the village, after having teleported Billy's escape pod safely to the Power Chamber. They were almost to the village when Zack suddenly stopped.

"What's up, man?" Tommy asked.

Zack was frowning. "Do you hear something?"

Tommy and the others all stopped and listened for a moment. There was a faint mechanical sound, like badly oiled gears, coming from somewhere nearby. "What is that?" Kimberly wondered.

Suddenly Rocky shouted, "Cogs!"

The teens all looked in the direction of camp, where Rocky was pointing. About halfway between the research clinic and where they stood, a group of the Machine Empire's mechanized soldiers were milling around. An instant later, Kat, Tanya, and Aisha came running out of the clinic to face the Cogs.

"Come on, guys!" Tommy ordered. The seven teens ran down the hill to join the girls.

"Glad to see you guys!" Aisha said in greeting as she dodged a punch from one of the Cogs. "Care to join the party?"

"You bet!" Adam replied, throwing another Cog to the ground. He glanced at Tommy. "Ready?"

"Right!" Tommy answered. "It's morphin time!"

Rocky, Tanya, Kat, and Adam moved to join him, summoning their Zeonizers.

"Zeo Ranger One, Pink!"

"Zeo Ranger Two, Yellow!"

"Zeo Ranger Three, Blue!"

"Zeo Ranger Four, Green!"

"Zeo Ranger Five, Red!"

"Power Rangers, Ze-O!" The five Zeo Rangers, now clad in their respective uniforms, saluted in unison.

The five former Rangers stared in amazement. "Wow," Trini breathed. "Things really have changed."

"Let's do it!" the figure in red — Tommy — exclaimed. The Rangers charged into the group of Cogs, which seemed to have multiplied since the moment before. Karate yells and metallic clangs filled the savanna.

"What are we waiting for, guys?" Jason said to Kimberly, Trini, Zack, and Aisha. "Come on!"

"Right!" They, too, raced into the melee. Rocky had his arm-blades out, and was felling Cogs left and right when Jason and Zack came somersaulting over his head.

"What are you guys doing?" the Blue Zeo Ranger yelled over the din.

"Trying to help!" Zack shouted back, knocking a Cog down with a powerful side kick.

"Without powers? The Cogs are too strong!"

"We did it before!" Spinning around, Jason caught another Cog by the arm and hurled it toward Rocky, whose Power Weapons made short work of the robot. "We're with you to the end!"

<< Previous | Contents | Next >>

Send feedback

Return to Fanfiction