Believe it or not, none of the characters in this story are Saban's. Spiderman (Peter Parker), Deborah Whitman, and Doctor Kurt Conners are all the property of Marvel Comics, and are used without permission. Since I don't read Spiderman comics, the characters are based on the Fox cartoon series, early in the first season. Alexis Darling, the Purple Ranger, is my own character, although the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers are Saban's. This story takes place about a month after "Fond Farewells", in early January, 1996.|
At St. John the Baptist High School in West Philadelphia, the students scramble to get to class. A single young woman doesn't care much whether she's late or not. Although she's only sixteen years of age, she has learned that there are bigger things to worry about than possible detention. Alexis Darling tugs at the bottom of her plaid skirt, and straightens her vest in the school bathroom. She always hated wearing uniforms, and in Angel Grove, she actually didn't have to. Alexis frowns at her reflection, and after tucking a stray lock of carrot red hair behind her ear, she leaves the bathroom, heading for her American History class. As she wanders through the nearly empty halls, memories flood her mind like a raging river.
Alexis had finished freshman and sophomore years of high school at St. John's, and she even started her present year here. That was months ago, when she lived with her mother Amanda Darling in Philadelphia. Then, in November, Alexis and her mother moved away from the East Coast, and settled in Angel Grove, a small and charming city in southern California. For a few short weeks, Alexis enjoyed the warmth of the climate as well as the warmth of the people. She found an instant friend in Kimberly Hart, and she felt she would have been friends with her even if she never became a Power Ranger.
Alexis owned a small golden coin, with the image of an Eagle on its face, since childhood. It was a family heirlomb, and she always wore it on her necklace. Lord Zedd discovered that the coin was in fact the long-lost Purple Coin, and he kidnapped Alexis, and attempted to make her an evil Purple Ranger. Of course, his attempt failed, and instead, the Power Rangers added a seventh ranger to the roster.
Alexis really loved being a member of the Power Rangers, one of the most exclusive groups on the planet. She quickly formed lasting friendships with all the members-- Kimberly Hart, Tommy Oliver, Trini Kwan, Zack Taylor, Billy Mitchell, and Jason Lee. She finally found her niche, a group of teens that really understood her. And she also found love, since she was attracted to Jason from the beginning. But Alexis couldn't remain in Angel Grove, and the Power Rangers had a quick, and drastic, roster change. Trini, Jason, and Zack left the team to attend the Peace Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, and so they passed on their Power Coins to three friends-- Aisha Campbell, Rocky DeSantos, and Adam Park. All three were excellent martial artists, and they were trustworthy, since they managed to keep the secret of the identities of the Power Rangers for a week before actually joining the team. And after only three weeks of active duty, numerous circumstances caused Alexis Darling to retire.
For one thing, Alexis tried a desperate, and dangerous, tactic in battle. Usually, the Purple Ranger has the ability to absorb the energies of the six other rangers in a combined Bomb Attack, which is the most powerful combined attack the rangers had to date. She had used it several times, and the only consequence had been mild exhaustion, which faded after a few hours. However, the creature they battled was no ordinary monster. It was Dracola, and nothing short of a miracle would cause the mighty beast to fall. Fortunately, the Power Rangers had assistance from another team of young heroes-- the Spectrum Force. Zordon discovered that the Spectrum Force's powers were comparable to that of the Power Rangers, so much so that Alexis could absorb their spectrum powers as well. The result was an awesome single burst of golden energy, which not only destroyed Dracola, but also left Alexis in an extremely weakened state. She didn't recover immediately, and she couldn't morph. She was useless to the Power Rangers.
Also, Alexis' sister Denise Johnson was diagnosed with AIDS, but she refused to quit Law School. She'd finish most likely in May of the following year, but she couldn't study and take care of her infant son Johnathan without a little help. Alexis volunteered, and so she moved in with her sister, back to West Philadelphia. She left the Power Rangers behind, but Zordon allowed her to keep her Purple Ranger powers, since the coin was hers to begin with. Alexis was still weak, but slowly, she's recovering. She even went on patrol for the first time late New Year's Eve, and managed to prevent numerous car accidents due to drunk driving. Thanks to her, the number of car accidents on New Year's Eve was cut in half from the usual high numbers. The media was in a frenzy about the mysterious purple woman who appeared out of nowhere, but no one could get either a picture of her, or a statement from her. They dubbed her the Purple Knight, because she is clad in purple armor, and comes to the rescue of citizens of Philadelphia.
"Hey, Lex!" called a voice from behind. Alexis turned around in surprise, and saw her good friend Dawn Adams.
"Oh, hey Dawn," Alexis said with a warm smile, "What's up?"
"I've been looking for you! Class is about to begin! Why are you walking so slowly?"
"I'm just... thinking," Alexis said. Dawn arched her eyebrow.
"Its about that guy in Angel Grove that you're head over heels for, isn't it?" she asked. Alexis could feel the heat rise in her cheeks.
"Yeah," Alexis admitted, "but I miss _everyone_ I met in Angel Grove. Not just Jason."
"Come on, Lex," Dawn huffed, "you only lived in California for three weeks! You've lived here all your life! What's the big deal?!"
_If only I could tell you, Dawn_ Alexis thought, _I did more than just meet some nice people. I met a group of friends that were so genuine, its hard to believe. And I spent those three weeks fighting for something bigger than anything I've ever even dreamed about! I participated in saving the planet! That's the kind of life that's hard to leave behind..._
"Lex," Dawn said in concern, "you're not zoning out on me again, are you?"
"Nah," said Alexis with a forced smile, "Let's move it! We're going to be late for gym!"
"We can't let that happen," Dawn said with a grin, and the two girls jogged the rest of the way to class.
The same time in the vast complex of Eastern State University, two young graduate students Deborah Whitman and Peter Parker walk down the hallway towards the largest laboratory in the city. That lab is where the brilliant genetics expert Doctor Kurt Conners works. The two are his best students, and they were both summoned to the lab for a brief meeting. They enter the silent lab, and Deborah turns on the light switch.
"No one's here?" she asked, peering through her glasses. A frown crossed her face as she walked around the lab, "Doctor Conners?"
"Relax, Deb," said Peter with a smile, walking over to the row of lockers. He unlocked the combination on his locker, and pulled out a white lab coat. "Doctor Conners will be here soon."
"Do you have any idea what this meeting is about?" Deborah asked, retrieving her lab coat from her locker, and tying back her long blonde hair in a ponytail, "I just got an e-mail asking me to be at the lab at ten o'clock. That's it."
"Yeah, that's exactly what the message I got said," said Peter with a shrug, "We'll find out soon enough what's going on."
Peter stepped away from Deborah, and looked out at the city through the window. _I sure hope Doctor Conners is okay_ Peter thought, _He hasn't been the same since that whole Lizard incident..._
Peter cringed as he remembered the events of a few weeks ago. Doctor Conners had created a machine that actually bonded human DNA with that of a lizard. Doctor Conners was hoping that by introducing reptile DNA into the human strand, he could grant humans the ability to regenerate lost limbs, just like some reptile species could. He then tested his theory on himself, and the arm he lost in a lab accident a few years ago grew back, good as new. But, the experiment had other, unexpected results. Doctor Conners not only developed the reptilian skill of regenerating limbs, he also mutated into a large beast. He became the Lizard, a deadly, seven foot tall reptile, with super strength and agility, razor sharp fangs and claws, and a mighty tail. Also, his personality was altered, so the Lizard was completely uncontrollable. It was Spiderman's greatest challenge yet to restrain the Lizard without hurting him, and return him to his normal form. He hoped there weren't any permanent changes in Doctor Conners that could somehow bring back the treacherous Lizard. Since the accident, Peter has kept tabs on the doctor, to make sure the Lizard doesn't return.
"Sorry I'm late," said Doctor Conners, closing the door behind him, "it took longer than I thought it would to get plane tickets--"
"Plane tickets?" asked Peter, worry etched on his face, "Are you going somewhere?"
"Yes, I am," Doctor Conners said, "After an... accident that happened a few weeks ago, much of my Neogenics equipment was either damaged or destroyed."
Peter nodded knowingly. It wasn't common knowledge that Doctor Conners actually was the Lizard, but the Lizard did manage to damage a great deal of the equipment in the laboratory.
"The problem is that the budget ESU has given me won't cover all the repairs needed," Doctor Conners said with a sigh, "I know there have been some... setbacks in the Neogenics project, but I know its salvageable, if only I had a bit more funding. So, I decided to seek some assistence from other universities. The University of Pennsylvania, one of the most prestigious research universities in the country, is considering giving my project the necessary extra funding to fix all the damage done. However, I must put together a presentation for the Board at UPenn. My flight leaves tonight."
Peter unconsciously frowned at that statement. _How am I supposed to keep and eye on the Doc if he leaves New York?_
"Wow," said Deborah, "the University of Pennsylvania? Will they really give you the grant?"
"If they like what I have so far," said Doctor Conners.
"How long will you be gone," asked Peter.
"We'll be gone for about a week."
"We?" asked Deborah.
"Yes. I was hoping the two of you would join me. I'll need some help getting the presentation together, and you are my best assistants."
"I'd love to!" said Deborah excitedly.
"Me too," said Peter with a smile. _What luck! Now, I'll be able to look after Doc Conners easily!_
"Well, you have... eight hours to pack your bags and take care of whatever you need to," said Doctor Conners, glancing down at his watch, "The flight leaves JFK at six, and we'll be in Philadelphia at six-thirty."
"Why didn't we just drive to Philadelphia?" asked Deborah curiously, "I mean, it's about a three hour drive. At most!"
"I have a meeting with UPenn's president Judith Rodin at eight o'clock tomorrow morning. I still have some things to get together both here and at Penn before then, and every minute counts."
"We'll meet you at your house at five then?" asked Peter. Doctor Conners nodded.
"Sounds good. See you all then."
Peter and Deborah left the laboratory, hurrying out of the building to get things ready for their sudden departure.
"I'll see you at five, Peter," said Deborah as she climbed into her car. Peter waved at her, and then walked to the nearest subway station, where he could catch a train headed downtown, where the headquarters of the Daily Bugle, New York's premiere newspaper, is located.
_I hope Jameson gives me the next week off,_ Peter thought, running a hand through his short chestnut hair, _He's usually so stingy with vacation time, and he never liked me much. He's always on my back to get some good photographs of something other than Spiderman..._
The subway car pulled up, and Peter boarded, along with a few dozen other commuters. After about ten minutes, Peter exited the train, and headed down the block, to the towering J3 Communications office building, where the powerful business tycoon J. Jonah Jameson runs his entire network of communications mediums, including a newspaper, and several television stations. Peter hurries to the top floor, where Jameson's office is.
"Hi, Trixie," he said to the secretary, "is Mister Jameson in?"
"He's really busy, Peter," Trixie said with a frown, "he just got back from the Bahamas for New Year's, you know."
"Yeah, I know," said Peter, walking to Jameson's door, "but its really important, and I don't have a whole lot of time."
Peter knocked on the door loudly.
"I'm busy!" a voice barked from behind the large oak doors. Peter cringed. Jameson wasn't in a good mood. Peter opened up the door anyway, and strolled in.
"Parker!" Jameson yelled, looking up from a mountain of paperwork, "What're _you_ doing here?!"
"I need to ask for the next week off," Peter said.
"WHAT?!" Jameson roared, "You had a four-day weekend for New Year's! What is it now?"
"Well, Doctor Conners is going to Philadelphia to try to get some funding for his Neogenics experiments, and he asked that I come along. I'm one of his assistants--" "Right," said Jameson, brushing his moustache with his fingers, "You're going to Philly, eh?"
"I'll let you go on a _paid_ vacation on one condition," said Jameson, rising to his feet, "I want you to get me some photos of the Purple Knight."
Peter's eyebrows rose. "The who?"
"The Purple Knight," Jameson repeated, sipping his coffee, "Several eye-witnesses reported a flying woman in purple and gold armor saving them from car accidents on New Year's Eve. This woman only appeared in Philadelphia, predominantly West Philly, where the UPenn campus is located."
"Yeah," said Peter, "so?"
"So, no one has any proof of her existence! A few people said they saw her, but there aren't any pictures of her! Now, since you're so good at tracking Spiderman, I figure you can make some use of the time you'll be spending in Philly, and track down this Purple Knight. Get some photos, and maybe even a statement from her."
"But, how do I find her?" asked Peter. Jameson smiled.
"You'll find a way. You always do."
Peter left Jameson's office, and went directly home. Along the way, he was constantly emmersed in thought.
_The Purple Knight, eh? I guess some mutant has decided to keep an eye on Philadelphia. Well, they need a superhero over there. New York has me, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four! I'm sure I can find this Purple Knight. I just need to know more about her. I need to do a bit of research before I get to Philly..._
Peter strolled over to the small house he and his Aunt May, his sole living relative, live in. As he closes the door behind him, the scent of cinnamon fills his nostrils.
"Are you baking, Aunt May?" he calls as he walks into the kitchen. The aged woman smiles affectionately at her nephew as she spreads icing over a freshly baked cinnamon coffee cake.
"Well, its so cold today, I thought you'd enjoy some hot cake and coffee when you got back," she said, "So, how was your meeting with Doctor Conners?"
"It went well," Peter said, pouring some freshly perked coffee into a mug, "He invited me and Deborah Whitman to go with him to Philadelphia. He has a presentation to give to the board at UPenn."
"Wonderful," said May, "it seems like ages since you've gone somewhere!"
"Well, I've been busy is all," Peter said with a shrug.
"So, when are you leaving?"
"Tonight. I'd better start packing. Call me when the cinnamon cake cools a bit."
Peter kissed his aunt on the cheek, and hurried up the stairs. He immediately turns on his computer, and while it starts up, he opens his closet and pulls out a few outfits for the trip, including two Spiderman suits, just in case. He throws the clothes into his suitcase, and sits down at his computer. He logs online, and goes to the Philadelphia Inquirer website.
"Now, to see exactly what the reporters in Philly _do_ know about this Purple Knight," he said aloud, accessing the New Year's edition. Sure enough, on the cover was the article about the mysterious Purple Knight. He scrolled down the article, sipping his coffee as he read.
"Strange," he said aloud, "most of the accidents prevented were between 30th and 42nd streets. That's right where the UPenn campus is located! And these eye-witnesses are mostly either students at UPenn and the neighboring college Drexel or professors and staff members. This Purple Knight seems to have adopted University City, the few miles of Philadelphia in and around the two big universities. I wonder why..."
"Peter!" May's voice called, "The cake's ready!"
"I'll be right there!" Peter called, printing out the article on the Purple Knight. He then found a map of University City online, and printed that out too. The folded the sheets of paper, and put them in his backpack.
_I'll read up on the Purple Knight on the airplane_ he decided, walking down the stairs towards the kitchen, _and tonight, Spiderman will see just what's going on in the city of Brotherly Love._
After school, Alexis and Dawn walk home. Snowflakes begin to lightly coat Philadelphia, and the two girls enjoy watching the flurries fall as they walk.
"So," said Dawn, "what are you doing tonight?"
"Well, Denise has work at four, so I'd better go home directly," said Alexis with a sigh, "She's working until nine o'clock tonight, so I'm babysitting Jonny all day."
"Too bad," said Dawn, "I was hoping we could go catch a movie. Its Friday!"
"I know, but its not so bad. I mean, next week, Denise starts classes again after Winter Break. Then, things're going to be tough. Juggling school and work doesn't leave her with much time to take care of Jonny."
"Its a good thing your mother came last month to help out," said Dawn, "I mean, Denise was really struggling through her final exams. If you mother didn't help, I don't think you would've even been to class at all the week before Christmas."
"You're probably right," said Alexis, as the girls walk to the apartment complex where she lives, "Maybe the two of us can catch the movie tomorrow night?"
"I hope so," said Dawn, waving as she left, "Take care, Lex!"
"See ya, Dawn!"
Once her friend was out of sight, Alexis entered the apartment building, and went to the apartment she shares with her sister and nephew. As soon as she comes in, she sees Denise pulling her jacket on. Denise quickly put her finger to her lips, signalling silence. Johnathan must've been asleep.
"I've got to get going," Denise whispered, "Jonny fell asleep about half an hour ago, so he'll be our for another hour or so. His bottle's in the fridge, and he eats at about six."
"I know," Alexis said, rolling her eyes. Denise always goes over the instructions, even though Alexis watches Johnathan daily.
"Listen," Denise said, "Alice offered to take care of Jonny tonight, so you could have some time for yourself. She'll be here by six-thirty, so make sure he eats before that, okay?"
"Really?" Alexis whispered excitedly.
"Really," Denise said with a smile. She leaned over and hugged her younger sister tightly. "Its not fair for you to give up your entire social life. Alice isn't doing anything tonight, so you can hang out with Dawn or something. You deserve it."
Denise grabbed her purse, waved, and hurried out the door. Alexis grinned widely, and went to her bedroom. She had about ten minutes to kill before Dawn would get home. She laid her backpack down quietly, and took out her textbooks, planning on organizing her homework. She'd need to get a good deal of it done tonight, since she'd go to the movies, and maybe even on patrol afterwards. She glanced down on her dresser, and smiled as her eyes fell upon an article from the January first Philadelphia Inquirer. It was about her.
In Angel Grove, the Power Rangers aren't really news anymore. They've been around for over a year, and the people have become pretty much used to their presence. Not that they don't appreciate the work the rangers do to keep the city safe. They just aren't as awestruck by the heroes any longer. But things are different in Philadelphia. Here, they've never seen a Power Ranger before Alexis came, and they don't know what to make of it. Alexis chuckled as she read over the article about the mysterious flying Purple Knight. They didn't even know she was a Power Ranger. They probably don't believe the Power Rangers even exist.
_I wonder if I should have been more careful to keep a low profile,_ Alexis thought, _I was lucky that no one managed to get a photo of me. But, they'll be ready next time. In fact, I'm willing to bet people are walking around the city with cameras, just to get a shot at me. I didn't really think much about publicity in Angel Grove, but I'm basically alone here in Philly, so I guess the decision is mine. I mean, talking to the press isn't necessarily breaking the Ranger Code. But, if I give them too much information, they may figure out the Power Rangers are human, or something like that. Its probably best if the Purple Ranger, er, Purple Knight, stays quiet._
Alexis goes back into the kitchen, and finds the new newspaper. After quickly checking out the movie listings, she picks up the phone and dials her best friend's phone number.
"Hey Dawn, its me!"
^What's up, Lex?^
"Guess what? Alice is watching Jonny tonight, so I have the night off! What movie do you want to see tonight?"
"Peter, what on Earth are you reading?"
Peter glanced up at Deborah, who was curiously peeking at the sheets of paper Peter was so intently reading. Peter frowned at her, and folded the papers.
"Just something for JJ," he said simply, "In order for me to have the week off, I need to get some photographs while in Philly."
"Oh," said Deborah, opening her bag of complimentary peanuts, "Of what?"
"Have you ever heard of the Purple Knight?"
"Just some new superhero that was sighted in Philadelphia. Since I'm going there anyway, I'm going to see if I can find her."
"Well, this is the article about the Purple Knight," Peter explained, turning around in the small airplane seat to face Deborah, "I printed it off the web this afternoon. The Purple Knight has only appeared once so far, on New Year's Eve. She single-handedly prevented a few dozen car accidents."
"That's amazing," Deborah said, nodding.
"Yeah," agreed Peter, "but the interesting thing is the locations of the car accidents she prevented. They were all within a fifteen block radius--" Peter pulled out the second sheet of paper. It was a map of University City, marked with red ink. "--the fifteen blocks directly surround the campus of the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University," he continued, "That area of Philadelphia is called University City, for obvious reasons. I marked the places the Purple Knight was sighted. She is clearly protecting this region of Philly."
"Not necessarily," Deborah commented, "After all, this 'Purple Knight' only appeared one night. Its possible she selects a particular area to patrol each time, or perhaps she'll never appear again! There's no way you can deduce her crime-fighting pattern with only one night's data to work with."
"I realize that," Peter said, "but its the right place to start."
Deborah shrugged, and turned to look out the window at the clouds below the airplane. Peter resumed his study of the map of University City.
_What Deb doesn't realize is that superheroes tend to be territorial,_ he thought, _I've met a few heroes, and I've noticed that usually they select a certain area to protect. Especially when they operate solo. I mean, no individual can protect the entire world, so they select either a particular city or portion of a city to patrol. They become experts on the area they lay claim upon. I'm sure the Purple Knight operates in University City. However, I'm not sure how often she appears. She was only sighted once, and I'll be in Philly for only a week! If she doesn't show up, JJ's gonna kill me!_
Peter grimaced at the thought. But, he was still confident he could find the mysterious Purple Knight. After all, he knew where to look.
"Attention, please," said the stewardess, standing in the front of the passenger cabin, "We're beginning our descent to Philadelphia International Airport. Please take your seats, and prepare for landing."
Peter immediately buckled his seatbelt, and Doctor Conners, who was napping in the seat behind Peter and Deborah, woke up. Once the plane landed, the three scientists gathered their luggage, and headed out the airport, where Peter flagged down a cab.
"So, what's the plan?" asked Deborah.
"Well, first we're going to the Penn Tower Hotel to get settled, and at seven-thirty, the Undergraduate Chair of Biological Bases of Behavoir will meet us at my room, and escort us to the facilities at our disposal, so we can set up for tomorrow morning's demonstration."
The three stepped into the cab, and Peter put all the luggage into the trunk.
"Where to?" asked the driver.
"The Penn Tower Hotel, please."
That evening, after a quick dinner, Doctor Alfonse Griffin of the University of Pennsylvania escorted Peter, Deborah, and Doctor Conners to the laboratory at their disposal. After making sure everything was prepared to the morning's presentation, the three returned to their respective hotel rooms. Peter grimaced as he noticed Doctor Conners was sweating.
"Are you feeling okay, Doc?" he asked.
"Oh, I'm fine," Doctor Conners said, "I guess I'm a little nervous about my presentation tomorrow. This is our last chance to get funding for Neogenics."
"Your presentation is excellent, Doctor Conners," said Deborah, "You have nothing to worry about. Just get a good night sleep, and relax."
Doctor Conners smiled at his two assistants. "That's good advice. Don't worry, I'll be fine. Some sleep will do me good. See you both tomorrow morning, bright and early."
With that, the doctor disappeared behind the door to his room, leaving Peter and Deborah in the hallway.
"So," said Deborah with a smile, "what are you up to tonight?"
"I'm going to bed," Peter said simply.
"Right," she said with a smirk, "What about the Purple Knight?"
Peter rolled his eyes. "Okay, I'm going to look for the Purple Knight. I won't be out too long, because we have a presentation tomorrow morning."
"Need some company?" Deborah offered, "I'm not tired or anything. Besides, its only ten o'clock!"
"Thanks, but no thanks," Peter said, "Trust me, tracking down superheroes is much easier to do alone. G'night, Deb."
"Goodnight, Peter," Deborah said with a frown, entering her room. Peter let out a breath, and went into his own room, locking the door behind him.
"I'm glad I got rid of her," he said, unlatching his suitcase. He pulled out a special small camera, two rolls of film, and one of his Spiderman uniforms. "It'll be much easier to track down this flying Purple Knight as Spiderman. Hopefully, she'll come right to me."
Peter donned his Spiderman uniform, and attached the small camera to his belt. It was specifically designed for use as Spiderman, and is small enough to hide easily. After all, it would look odd for Spiderman to be walking around town with a camera on his neck.
"Now, to find this Purple Knight," he said, opening his window. He perched on the windowsill, and climbed up the wall of the building to the roof , where he could get a better view of the area.
"If I remember correctly, the Penn Tower Hotel is on the south-eastern edge of the campus. So, I'll travel north-west, and hopefully, I'll see her."
With that, Spiderman aimed his web-shooters, and launched a vine of webbing to the nearest high building. He then swung on the web, and continued to web-sling across the campus.
Meanwhile, inside his room, Doctor Conners splashes some cold water onto his face. No matter what he does, he continues to sweat profusely, and his head is pounding.
"Oh no," he whispered, his knees wobbling, "Not now!"
Doctor Conners gasps in horror as he notices the green hue his skin has taken. He then holds back his screams as his lost arm grows back, with sharp claws and scales. His face elongates into a snout, with razor sharp fangs instead of teeth. He roars as a tail grows, ripping through his slacks and white lab coat. He releases one more roar, and sniffs the air around him.
"Where am I?" asks the Lizard in a deep, rumbling voice, "What has happened?"
The Lizard leaps across the room in a single bound, and punches the glass of the window, shattering it into infinite pieces of glass. He stares out at Philadelphia curiously.
"I do not recognize the surroundings," he growls, "but I do smell something familiar. Spiderman..."
The Lizard growls once again, and leaps out the window. His claws dig into the outer wall, and he safely lowers himself down the building. Once he reaches the ground, he hides inside the bushes along the hotel, until he locates a manhole. He effortlessly rips the manhole cover off, and leaps into the darkness of the sewers.
Its Friday evening in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the sky takes on a slightly pinkish hue. Two young women bundle up to keep out the bitter January winds as they walk home.
"Looks like its gonna snow," commented Dawn, looking up at the sky.
"I hope so!" said Alexis with a grin, "I've always loved snow. Snowball fights, sledding..."
"Yeah, I know," chuckled Dawn, "and also shoveling, slippery sidewalks, car accidents... hmm, now that I think about it, there probably wouldn't be many car accidents."
"Why do you say that, Dawn?"
"Because, the Purple Ranger would probably stop the accidents before they start. Just like she did New Year's."
Alexis' emerald eyes widened in surprise. "I thought she was the Purple _Knight_!"
"That's what the press says," said Dawn, rolling her eyes, "but I know its the Purple Power Ranger. About six weeks ago, there was a Purple Ranger in Angel Grove, where the other Power Rangers are always sighted, but she disappeared shortly after. I mean, the Power Rangers went back down to six. Then, suddenly, a flying armored Purple warrior appears in Philly. Honestly, Lex, its pretty obvious that the Purple Ranger came to Philly! If the rest of the population believed the Power Rangers really exist, then they'd realize it."
Alexis was astonished at Dawn's logic. "Since when did you know so much about the Power Rangers?"
"Well, I read up on them when you moved to California," Dawn admitted, "I was curious to see what Small Town, USA was like. Man, its no typical town!"
"You got that right," Alexis said with a smile. She then looked up at the sky again. "Its probably going to snow tonight," she said with a sigh, "The sky always turns pink--"
Alexis stopped in mid sentence, and looked up curiously. She blinked her eyes in surprise, and then peered once again into the darkness. A moving shadow had caught her eye.
_That's weird_ she thought, looking around, _I saw something! It was really strange. It moved so quickly, and it was flying through the sky! Maybe the Purple Ranger should investigate._
"Hey Lex!" Dawn yelled, gaining Alexis' attention, "What're you looking at?"
"Nothing," Alexis lied, "Uh, Dawn, I... I forgot, Denise asked me to pick up some diapers for Jonny on my way home..."
"No problem," said Dawn, "we can stop off at CVS. Its just down the block."
"That's okay," said Alexis, breaking into a jog, "I can go by myself."
"Alexis!" Dawn yelled after her best friend, "Its getting late! You shouldn't go alone! This is Philadelphia, not Angel Grove!"
"I'm only about two blocks from hom anyway. I'll be fine!" Alexis assured, disappearing in the crowd. Dawn shrugged, and continued to her house. Alexis hid in an alleyway, and took a quick look around.
"No one here," she whispered, digging into her coat pocket. She pulled out a small rectangular box with a golden coin on the surface, and held it in front of her at arm's length.
"Its Morphin Time!" she cried, "Purple Ranger Power!!"
Brilliant beams of purple light shot forth from the golden coin, and cascaded around Alexis' body, donning her in the form fitting metallic purple armor of the Purple Power Ranger. White thigh-high boots appeared on her legs, and golden Mercury wings stretched forth from her ankles. White opera gloves covered her hands and arms, and a golden shield materialized on her torso. A golden belt with the Eagle coin sat low on her waist, and finally, a purple and white helmet covered her head and hair. The bright light faded, and the Purple Ranger, Philadelphia's protectress, slowly rose from the ground.
"Now," she said, "to find that flying shadow."
Meanwhile, the costumed superhero Spiderman stands atop the on-campus apartment building High Rise South, whose twenty four stories house hundreds of University of Pennsylvania upperclassmen. The building is located on 39th street, on the western end of campus.
_I've been web-slinging for two hours, and still nothing!_ Spiderman thought as he gazed into sky, _I've crossed the Penn campus three times. Maybe I was wrong-- maybe I should start searching the rest of Philadelphia. Still, something tells me I should keep looking around here. She should have spotted me by now._
Suddenly, Spiderman's sixth sense warns him of danger. Something has come too close for comfort.
_Spider Sense! The Purple Knight must be nearby!_
Spiderman looked around, but still saw nothing. But he felt a gust of wind on his head, and looked directly above him. He saw a woman, donned in a complete purple uniform, hovering a few feet over him.
"I'll tell you one thing," she said, "red and blue spandex isn't the best camoflauge."
"Neither is a highly reflectant purple and gold uniform," Spiderman retorted, "What are you, afraid of getting hit by a car?"
Alexis scowled under her helmet. "Who are you?" she asked seriously, landing on the roof. Spiderman stood his ground.
"Just your friendly neighborhood Spiderman."
The Purple Ranger held up her hand, and a purple whip appeared, sparking with purple hued energy. "Sorry," she said, "there aren't any Spidermen in _this_ neighborhood."
Spiderman quickly leapt back, and just managed to avoid being struck by the whip. He somersaulted in the air to the other side of the roof, and looked down.
_That's a long way down_ he thought, _and I'm too far away from any other high buildings to web-sling! This isn't going quite how I intended!_
"Listen," he said out loud, his hands held out in a gesture of peace, "I'm not a bad guy!"
"Then just what are you?" she asked, launching her whip at Spiderman again. He once again managed to avoid it, but he was running out of room to maneuvre.
"I'm a superhero! Like you!"
The Purple Ranger stopped to consider this. "Why are you here, then?"
"Well, I--" Spiderman started, but he suddenly felt a tingling sensation in his head again. His eyes widened beneath his mask.
_Why is my Spider Sense going off again?_ he thought _Unless... the Purple Ranger isn't the one who set it off in the first place! But then, who--?_
"Spiderman?" Purple Ranger asked, waving her hands in front of his face, "Are you still here?"
Spiderman snapped back to reality, and looked around. "Huh? Well, I've... got to be going," he said, slowly bringing his hands to his belt, "Until next time."
With that, he touched the small button on his belt, and a bright flash from his camera momentarily blinded the unwary Power Ranger. While she was distracted, Spiderman leapt off the high building and created a parachute with his webbing, slowing his descent. He landed safely on the ground, and as soon as his feet touched, his Spider Sense once again went off, even stronger than before.
_I was right! Something else is here!_
Before Spiderman could move, he was struck by a powerful swing. He flew into a nearby tree, breaking the trunk and nearly knocking him unconscious. He shook his head to clear the cobwebs, and caught a quick glimpse of his attacker. It was a seven foot reptile.
"Not good--!" he uttered, just as the monster grabbed him by the neck with both clawed hands. Spiderman struggled under the monster's superior strength, but he couldn't loosen its grip. His vision slowly blurred, and his struggles weakened. But before he could pass out completely, the monster gave a howl of pain, and dropped Spiderman. It turned away, and Spiderman noticed a smoking hole in the soiled white lab coat the monster was wearing.
"I've got more were that came from!" Purple Ranger remarked, her fist still glowing faintly with purple energy. She then waved her gloved hand over her helmet. "Ew!" she croaked, "Where have you been hanging out? The sewers?"
The monster roared deeply, and the Purple Ranger shuddered slightly. Suddenly, the monster leapt at the frozen ranger, baring its enormous fangs. Its claws didn't penetrate her purple armor, but the force of his attack knocked the wind out of her. It then picked up the stunned young woman, and tossed her with all its might into High Rise South. The Purple Ranger crashed through the brick wall, and landed in the empty first floor television lounge. The monster roared again, and turned back to its first target. Spiderman was back on his feet, although he was obviously still dazed.
"Doc!" he called, "You've gotta re-assert yourself! Regain control!"
"Stop your banter," Lizard answered in a deep voice, "You're my mortal enemy, Spiderman! Because of you, my plan to improve the imperfections of mankind was foiled! Now, you're going to pay."
The Lizard knocked Spiderman over with his tail, but then his head swiveled around when he heard the sound of a gunshot. He saw three men, wearing navy blue uniforms and holding pistols.
"This is the Philadelphia Police!" one of them shouted, "FREEZE!"
The Lizard roared, and the three officer's froze with fear. The Lizard leapt at them, and his claws cut deeply into the thigh of one of the officers. The officer screamed in pain as his blood stained the grass. "Harry!" yelled one of the other officers, pointing his gun shakily at the monster. He fired a single shot, striking the monster in the tail. The Lizard howled, and turned to the one who shot him, bloodlust in his eyes. But the officer kept his gun aimed, and the Lizard decided not to attack. Instead, he leapt off the wounded officer, and ran off into the night. The two policemen turned their attention to Spiderman, who once again was on his feet.
"Spiderman?" asked one officer, lowering his gun, "What are you doing in Philly?"
"I get around," he answered, walking towards him, "Will your partner be okay?"
The two cops turned to the other officer, who was now unconscious on the grass.
"We'd better get him to the UPenn Hospital," said one, and they hurried to their downed partner. Spiderman immediately shot a vine of webbing, and went in the direction Lizard had fled.
_I should probably see if the Purple Knight is okay, but I can't let the Lizard get away!_ Spiderman thought, sailing through the cold night air, _He's more powerful than ever! He could kill tons of innocent people!_
Inside High Rise South, Alexis regained consciousness, and found herself in unusual surroundings.
"Wha--?" she gasped, looking around, "Where am I?"
She then remembered being tossed into the apartment building by the seven foot tall green monster.
"Good thing his claws couldn't penetrate my shield," she thought thankfully, touching her golden chestplate She was surprised to feel gashes in the golden metal. The Lizard's claws left some dents.
"Well, they'll vanish when I morph again," she reasoned, standing up. She walked through the hole she crashed through earlier, and looked around. Both Spiderman and the Lizard were gone, but she saw two police officers standing over something. She ran over to see for herself.
"What happened?" she said, startling the two officers. They both turned around, pointing their pistols at her. She backed away in surprise.
"Hey," said one of them, "you're that Purple Knight I read about in the paper, right?"
"Yeah, that's me," she said, relieved that the officers lowered their pistols. She looked down at the third officer, who was lying unconscious on the grass. She cringed at the huge wound on his thigh.
_Looks like something from Jurassic Park_ she thought, her hands on her hips, _The Lizard has left his mark. But there's no way I'll be able to find him tonight. Hopefully, Spiderman is on its trail. Right now, this guy's life in on the line._
The Purple Ranger gently lifted the wounded officer, and her ankle wings began to flap.
"I'm taking him to the hospital on 30th street," she told the other officers, "He needs medical attention immediately."
"Thanks, Purple Knight," the officers called as she lifted into the air.
"That's Purple Ranger," she said, smiling beneath her helmet, "And by the way, did either of you happen to see a guy in red and blue spandex?"
"You mean Spiderman?" asked the one officer.
"Yeah," she said, somewhat surprised, "How did you know his name?"
"He's in the newspapers all the time back in New York," the officer explained, "I was just transfered to Philadelphia last month. Before that, I was a NYC cop, and I saw Spiderman all the time. He always left crooks wrapped in webbing for us to take in. Sure made life easier."
"Thanks for the info," the Purple Ranger said, taking off into the night. She flew as quickly as her wings could carry her to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, only a block away from the Penn Tower Hotel. While she flew, she was immersed in thought.
_So, Spiderman is from New York, eh? Why is he in Philadelphia though? There must be a reason why he came here. And, it almost seemed as if Spiderman knew that big monster was coming. He did call it "Doc". What's the connection...?_
Alexis frowned, and yawned under her purple and white helmet.
_Well, I'll be able to think more clearly after a good night's sleep_ she decided.
Alexis wakes up to the sound of a baby crying. She sighs and throws on her robe. She glances out her window, and squints to lessen the glare of reflected sunlight pouring through her room. As she suspected, it had snowed last night, and at least three inches of white powder covered the city. She rubs her eyes and walks into the livingroom, where her sister Denise is feeding young Johnathan his bottle. The television is on in front of her, and the news is running.
"Morning, Denise," Alexis yawned.
"You slept pretty late," commented Denise with a grin, "When did you get back from the movies? I didn't hear you get in, and you weren't here when I got back."
"I guess it was about... one or so," said Alexis, scratching her head, "Dawn and I went to grab a bite before we came back."
"Oh," said Denise, turning back to the television. Alexis sat down on the carpet and watched the screen also.
"What's going on?"
"Well, some famous scientist vanished last night."
"Really?" asked Alexis in surprise, "You're kidding."
"No, I'm serious. Doctor Conners is a professor teaching at Eastern State University, in New York City. He was supposed to meet with the President of UPenn this morning to discuss possible financial aid for his research on Neogenics, but he never showed up. The Doctor is missing, and his hotel room at Penn Towers was trashed. The Police have no leads."
Alexis' eyes widened, and she moved closer to the screen. Two teenagers, a blonde woman with glasses, and a tall brunette man with hazel eyes were answering questions.
^Miss Whitman, Mister Parker,^ said the reporter, ^did either of you hear anything last night?^
^Not a sound,^ said the woman, ^Its so strange...^
^Me neither,^ said the man, ^Doctor Conners was just... gone when Deb and I went to check on him this morning.^
^Thank you for your time,^ the reporter said. He then turned back to the camera, ^The most mysterious thing about this late-night abduction is the manner of the kidnapping. The door was locked securely, and the only sign of forced entry was the shattered window. However, Doctor Conners' room was on the eighteenth floor of the hotel, so it would be most difficult for the kidnapper to get in. The Police are baffled. More as it develops...^
"Kinda freaky, eh?" asked Denise, shaking her head, "Nothing like this has ever happened around here before. How could anyone possibly get into that hotel room and kidnap Doctor Conners without making the slightest sound?"
"That's a good question," said Alexis, standing up, "I'm going to get dressed, and then I'm going to the library to do some research for a project. Do you need anything from the store?"
"No. Have fun, Sis," called Denise, as Alexis disappeared into her bedroom. She quickly threw on jeans, a purple turtleneck sweater, and snowboots.
_No one could've kidnapped Doctor Conners from that hotel room_ Alexis thought, combing through her carrot-red hair, _No one human, at least. But I'm willing to bet that the reptile monster could've done it. But why? I think I need to learn a bit more about Neogenics. After all, that's Conners' claim to fame, and it may be the key to unlocking this mystery._
With that, Alexis grabbed her coat, and hurried to the city library.
"Finally," said Peter Parker, closing and locking his hotel room door, "the reporters are gone."
Peter sighed deeply, and took off his sweater, revealing the red and blue form-fitting costume of Spiderman beneath it.
_I spent all last night searching for the Lizard, but I couldn't find a trace of him! I'm not too familiar with the layout of Philly, so I'm at a definite disadvantage, since I'm on the hunting end. There are too many places he can be. My best bet is to search the Doc's room, and see if there are any clues there. Hopefully, he'll have some of that serum with him, to transform him back into a human being. Doc Conners has always been pretty cautious. But I can't go into his room until the police leave, and that won't be for several hours. They're still investigating the crime scene. _
Peter covered his mouth as a prolonged yawn escaped him.
_I'm dead tired. After hours of web-slinging through the snow, I finally came back here to get some shut-eye. But after about two hours of sleep, Deb woke me up, and told me to get ready for the presentation. I couldn't stop her from knocking on Doctor Conners' door, and in the end, she went down to the front desk to get the key. The first thing she did when she saw the mess was call the cops, and as usual in a big city, where there's cops, there's news, and where there's news, there's news-hounds-- the press. It took exactly twenty minutes for the whole scene to become a circus, with dozens of reporters sticking their microphones into my face. I really wanted to keep the situation out of the news, but I couldn't prevent it. Now, I'll have to figure out a cover story for what happened to Doc Conners, since we certainly can't let it out that he transforms into a towering lizard monster. Of course, this is assuming I find the Doc..._
Peter put on his pajamas, and tucked himself into bed.
"I might as well make use of this time," he decided, "After a quick nap, the police should be done in the Doc's room, and then Spiderman can give it the once-over."
At the public library, Alexis Darling is sitting at a computer, searching for articles on Doctor Kurt Conners and Neogenics. After hours of searching the world wide web, she found a few interesting works-- one Scientific American article, published by Doctor Conners himself on the subject, and a newspaper article from the Daily Bugle about the basics of Neogenics, written by freelancer Peter Parker, whom Alexis remembered as the young man on the news this morning. These two articles were a great help in understanding what exactly Kurt Conners is studying.
_So Neogenics is a theoretical science involving the splicing of the DNA of a living being, and combining it with a different being, in order to recreate the traits of one in another species. Could Neogenics be what created that giant reptile? If so, then Conners and the monster are somehow connected, since Conners is the authority on Neogenics. Conners could have even created the monster, and it wants revenge? Sorta like in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"..._
Alexis frowned, and printed out the two articles she read, for future reference.
_I distinctly remember Spiderman calling the monster "Doc", right before I passed out in the fight last night. So, that means Spiderman knows the monster, and that he wasn't always a monster. Once upon a time, he was a human being... a scientist. Maybe Conners and the monster were partners, working on Neogenics, when some kind of accident transformed him into a reptile. Conners works in New York City, at ESU, and that's Spiderman's territory. So Spiderman fought the monster before. And maybe, just maybe, Spiderman came to Philadelphia because Conners came here, and he wanted to protect him. That must be it! Sherlock Holmes, eat your heart out!!_
Alexis grinned, and hurried out of the library. Once outside, she hid in an empty alleyway, and pulled out her morpher.
"Its Morphin Time! Purple Ranger Power!!"
In a blinding cascade of purple light, Alexis Darling was once again transformed into the high-flying Purple Power Ranger. Her ankle wings immediately began to flap, and she was soon airborne, heading back to the UPenn campus.
_I need some evidence of my hypothesis_ she reasoned, _and the best place to look for it is in Doctor Conners' hotel room. Maybe I can find a clue as to where the monster would have taken him!_
After about five minutes of flight, the Purple Ranger descends from the higher altitudes, and lands on the sidewalk just outside the Penn Tower Hotel. She saw a few yards of the sidewalk surrounded by rubber cones, with police tape sectioning it off. There was one officer on duty, protecting the area. As soon as the Purple Ranger landed, he gasped audibly, and attracted the attention of the people on the street. This was the third time this mysterious warrior was seen in Philadelphia, and its the first time she appeared in broad daylight. A crowd began to form as the Purple Ranger walked over to the sectioned off area.
"Excuse me, officer," she said, "why is this area off limits?"
"Um, this is the spot right below the room Doctor Conners was abducted from," the officer explained, "There's some glass and stuff here, and we're cutting it off so we can check for any fingerprints, blood, or anything else that would give us some information about the kidnapper."
"Oh," she said, her wings flapping once again. She hovered over the area sectioned off, and studied it without touching it.
_This is really strange_ she thought _why would so much glass be down here? If the reptile monster broke into Conners' room through the window, the glass would all be inside the hotel room, not on the street!_
Alexis frowned in confusion, and then floated higher into the sky. She flew through the window of Conners' room, and landed on the carpet right in front of the window. She knelt on the ground, and felt around.
"No glass..." she whispered. Her head swung around when the door to the room opened, and a figure walked in.
"Spiderman?!" she said in surprise, standing up. She could tell that he too was surprised to see her, even though his mask hid his face.
"Fancy meeting you here," he said, closing the door behind him and leaning against the wall, "Why _are_ you here anyway?"
"Just looking for that monster we were fighting last night," she remarked, "I thought maybe he returned to his room."
Spiderman stiffened slightly. "What do you mean?"
"Conners is the reptile monster," Alexis said, "and you knew it."
"What gave you that idea?" Spiderman asked. He was shocked that this mysterious superheroine figured out what the New York Police never did learn.
"Well, I did a little research on Neogenics. Although there aren't any documented experiments that have actually worked, its possible that Conners secretly made the process work, and managed to combine the DNA of a reptile with a human being, making the monster we fought last night. At first, I thought it was a former associate of Conners who was transformed into the monster, hungry for revenge. But one thing doesn't fit into that scenario-- the window. If the monster broke into this room to kidnap Conners, then the majority of the glass would be inside the room. However, all the glass is outside, on the sidewalk below. That can only mean one thing-- the monster didn't break in. He broke out. Conners transformed into the monster, and broke out of this room through the window."
"But, why are you so convinced the monster is human?" Spiderman asked.
"Well, last night, I heard you call him 'Doc'. That convinced me that he was at one time a human being, and it also shows that you knew that. You've fought this monster before."
"Nice detective work," Spiderman said, "I'm impressed."
Alexis beamed under her helmet. From what the police officer had said about Spiderman, he was a premier superhero. And she, a relatively new superheroine, was actually being complimented by him.
"I was hoping I could find Conners and change him back before the media got involved," Spiderman continued, "I came to Philadelphia because I wanted to keep an eye on him. It was only a few weeks ago that he first became the Lizard, and I wanted to make sure it was completely out of his system. I guess its not."
Spiderman went into the closet, and pulled out Conners' suitcase. He opened it, and quickly found a small medication pouch. He unzipped it, and looked inside.
"Damn," he muttered, pulling out a small vial. It was broken, and there were only a few drops of liquid inside it.
"What is that?" Alexis asked.
"Its the serum that Conners developed to keep his Lizard half under control. Just in case he felt he was transforming again, he needed to swallow an ounce of this formula to prevent the transformation. Somehow, the vial shattered, probably during the flight over. Without this potion, there is no way I can turn Lizard back into Conners."
"Is there anything I can do?" asked Alexis eagerly. Spiderman shook his head, and walked to the window.
"No. Thanks for the offer, but I work alone. You're new to this job, Purple Knight. You may be able to stop a few car accidents, but this is a whole different ballgame. The Lizard is dangerous."
Alexis glared angrily at Spiderman. She then grabbed his arm right before he could leap out of the window.
"First, I'm the Purple _Ranger_, not the Purple Knight. Second, I'm not new at this. I've fought magical creatures the size of mountains, and I've even fought aliens from alternate dimensions. I've done much more than stop car accidents. Third, you need me. You may be an expert in New York, but Philly is _my_turf. I've lived here almost all my life, and I can help you find Conners."
Spiderman remained silent for a few moments. "I... I guess you're right. Sorry about that."
"No problem," said the Purple Ranger, "So, what's the plan?"
Spiderman rubbed his chin. "I guess what we need to do is find Lizard, restrain him somehow, and transport him back to New York, so I can whip up another vial of that serum to transform him into Kurt Conners.
"Are you serious?" asked Alexis.
"Yes," said Spiderman, slightly peeved, "Why? Do you have a better idea?"
"Yes. Why don't we go to New York right now? You can make the potion, and then bring it back. That way, we won't need to deal with transporting Lizard there."
"But, it'll take hours to get to New York. We have to capture Lizard first, so he can't hurt anyone!"
"What would you say if I told you I can get you to New York in twenty minutes?"
Spiderman stared at her for a moment. "How?"
"I'll show you," she said, grabbing Spiderman's wrist and leading him to the window. She carried him into the air, and up to the roof of the Penn Tower Hotel. She set him down on his feet, and then landed beside him.
"Well, what're you going to show me?" he asked, folding his arms.
"The Eaglezord," she said, grinning beneath her helmet. She raised her arm to the sun. "Eaglezord... power up!"
Spiderman stared as he saw a large flash of purple light. Then, a gargantuan machine, elegantly designed as a bald eagle, descended from the heavens. It was purple and silver, with eyes of gold. The beak opened slowly, and the Purple Ranger once again took Spiderman's hand.
"All aboard!" she said, as the two young heroes sailed into the beak, and into the bridge of the ship. There was only one seat, surrounded by all sorts of control panels. The Purple Ranger sat down in her seat, and pressed a button.
"Eaglezord," she said, "I need a passenger seat."
^Creating passenger seat,^ said the computer. Spiderman was startled to see an identical purple leather seat appear beside the Purple Ranger's. He sat down cautiously, as if expecting it to be a hologram. The seat belt automatically strapped around his waist.
"Comfy?" she asked him.
"Yeah," he said, "Nice plane."
"Its a Zord," Alexis corrected him, "Eaglezord, start up thrusters, and prepare for travel mode."
"Where are we going?" Alexis asked Spiderman.
"Eastern State University campus," Spiderman said into the intercom, "in New York City."
^ETA: Eighteen minutes. Coordinates locked.^
"Then let's get going!" said Alexis, sitting back in her seat. The magnificent Eaglezord then screeched loudly, and flew across the afternoon skies in a streak of purple.
High in the clear blue sky of New York City, the silver and purple battle machine dubbed the Eaglezord slowed to a halt. During the entire trip from Philadelphia to New York City, the zord flew so quickly that it appeared to be a streak of light gliding high above the Earth. Now, it hovered about a kilometer off the ground, directly above the campus of Eastern State University.
"We're staying up here?" Spiderman asked.
"Well, its easier than parking," the Purple Ranger responded, unstrapping her seatbelt, "Besides, its far less conspicuous way up here. The Eaglezord can hover as long as it needs to. And how long could it possibly take for you to whip up another vial of that antidote?"
"Hopefully not too long," Spiderman answered, standing up from his seat, "But since we're so high off the ground, how do we get down? Fly?"
"We could, but I'd rather just teleport."
"Teleport?" Spiderman asked skeptically. Alexis nodded, and pressed a few buttons on the main console.
"I'll teleport us to the roof of the building directly below us," she explained, "That way, we won't have to worry about being spotted. Hang on."
Alexis pressed the final button, and the two heroes vanished in streaks of purple and red light. At just about the same time, they rematerialized on the roof of College Hall, the building that housed the offices of a number of ESU staff members.
"Okay, where to?" she asked, turning to Spiderman. Spiderman walked over to the edge of the roof, and peered into the distance.
"The lab is on the northwest corner of campus," he explained, "We'll web-sling over."
"Web-sling?" Alexis asked, "Why don't I just fly us over?"
"No offense, but flying is a little too conspicuous. The people here are used to seeing me sling across the city, so they won't suspect anything. But when they see a being flying around , leaving a purple streak of energy, then curiosities will be piqued. And I can sling almost as fast as you fly."
"But, how do I 'web-sling'?"
"Hang onto my back."
Although her face was masked by her helmet, Spiderman could tell she was a little apprehensive. "Hey, I trusted you to carry me around when we were flying in Philly. Now we're in New York, and so you have to follow my lead."
Alexis nodded, and wrapped her arms around Spiderman's neck. Then, Spiderman pointed his web-shooter at a neighboring building, and the liquid immediately solidified to a long vine of webbing. Spiderman and the Purple Ranger swung on the vine, and Spiderman continued to manufacture new ones until the pair landed on the grass just outside the laboratory. Spiderman glanced around quickly, to make sure there weren't any people around.
"Okay," he whispered, "we're entering the lab via the window. Hopefully, there won't be anyone inside. Since Doctor Conners took his assistants with him, there probably won't be anyone in the Neogenics wing."
"That's logical," she answered, as she watched Spiderman climb up the outside wall of the lab. Once he reached the top floor window, he pulled it open easily, and climbed inside. He then waved at Alexis, who flew into the open window. She landed just beyond the window, and gazed in awe at the laboratory. It was filled with complex machinery whose function she could never comprehend, along with a sophisticated station for chemical experiments, cages with lab rats, and a main computer with external imaging capacities. On the whole, it greatly reminded her of the Command Center.
"Okay," said Spiderman, sitting down at the computer and turning it on, "I'll need to access Doc Conners' personal files, so I can find the exact ingredients to the potion. I just hope we've got all the chemicals needed here in the lab."
"Is there anything I can do?" Alexis asked, standing behind Spiderman.
"Not yet," he answered, tapping away on the keyboard. Alexis watched curiously as Spiderman accessed the hard drive of the computer, as well as the personal files of Doctor Conners. That required having three passwords-- the one to access the hard drive, the one for opening the Neogenics file, and finally Doctor Conners' personal code, for his documents. It only took Spiderman about five minutes to get into the system, find the file he was searching for, and print it out. He then stood up, grabbed the printed pages, and headed to the chemistry station. As she watched, Spiderman pulled out various chemicals from cabinets all over the lab, and assembled them on the lab table. She shook her head.
"I take it you and Doctor Conners are good friends," she said. Spiderman stopped his work and looked up at his partner.
"Why do you say that?"
"You know your way around this lab like you live here!" she replied, "And you even knew Conners' passwords."
"The Doc trusted me with his passwords, because I'm the only person, other than his family, that knows he's the Lizard. So that basically makes me the one responsible for turning him back into a human being, which includes being able to access the systems of his lab."
"And you're a scientist in your own right?"
"Sort of," said Spiderman, carefully pouring a measure of powdered chemical into a flask of a liquid chemical, "I guess science is something of a hobby of mine. Its really helpful in the superhero biz."
"You sound alot like my friend the Blue Ranger," Alexis said, "Science was always his greatest love."
"So," said Spiderman, "why aren't you with the other Power Rangers in California?"
"Personal problems," she said, "I was needed in Philadelphia, and so I came. I'm just glad I was able to remain a Power Ranger, and serve society in my own way."
"That's noble. In my case, there were many times that I wished I wasn't a superhero."
Alexis was startled by this revelation. "Why would you ever want to give this up?"
"Because," he answered sternly, "with great power comes great responsibility. And I've learned a few hard lessons about that responsibility. When you're a hero, your life isn't your own. You are constantly protecting those around you, giving up whatever private life you may have strived for. And your efforts aren't always appreciated. Sure, there are people who truly appreciate the work we do, but many belittle what we do. And if we ever fail... then we have to live with the guilt and the blame. And neither truly goes away completely."
"Wow," said Alexis quietly, "that's sobering."
"I'm not trying to discourage you," Spiderman said truthfully, "I just wanted to let you know some hard facts. Being a superhero isn't about glory, its about self-sacrifice. Still, the rewards are truly worth the price. They aren't material rewards, but you can really relish the idea that, even though many other don't know it, you are making a difference. When you save a life, you feel proud of the fact that this one person can go on living because of what you did. That's a fantastic feeling."
"Virtue is its own reward," Alexis quoted. Spiderman nodded.
"That's why it takes a special person to be a hero. Everyone would love to have powers, that set them apart from the rest of humanity. But being a hero means risking your life on a regular basis, and not getting medals of honor, or grand appreciation, or anything like that. If you can't see the rewards in the eyes of the people whose lives you saved, then superheroing wouldn't be worth the price."
"If you had the chance to give it up, would you?" Alexis asked. Spiderman stopped his work to consider the question.
"No," he said finally, "After being a hero once, it would be tough to just leave it all behind. Besides, I know I'm making a difference. What I do really matters. Its become a major part of who I am."
"It sounds like you've been a superhero forever!" Alexis marvelled. Spiderman shook his head. "Actually, I'm not much older than you are."
Alexis stared at Spiderman. "How do you know how old I am?"
"You sound like a teenager," Spiderman said, smiling beneath his mask, "I'd wager either high school or college, between sixteen and nineteen. I'm in my early twenties, and I've been a hero for a few years. This job matures a person really quickly."
Alexis nodded, absorbing the advice this seasoned professional offered her.
"Okay," Spiderman said, holding up two test tubes of potion, "its ready. I've made two doses, just in case one of them is broken, or if one dose isn't enough. The Lizard is even more powerful now than the first time, which may mean a more powerful antidote may be in order. Here-- I'll carry one and you carry the other."
Spiderman tossed a capped vial to the Purple Ranger, who caught it with her quick reflexes. Suddenly, it vanished from sight in a flash of purple light. Spiderman stared at her in surprise.
"What?" she asked, noticing his confusion.
"Where did you put the test tube?"
"Oh, in the pocket dimension we Power Rangers have access to. Its where we keep our weapons, and other assorted items. Its easier than carrying it around, isn't it? I can summon it back to reality with a thought."
To demonstrate this, Alexis held out her hand. The vial appeared in another flash of light, completely intact. Spiderman shook his head.
"You Power Rangers certainly have a number of abilities at your disposal."
"Yeah, I guess we do," she replied, willing the vial to vanish once again, "That's what happens when you combine magic with science."
Spiderman just accepted her statement without further explanation, and headed to the window. "I guess we'd better fly over to the ship," he said, "Then we can hunt down the Lizard. Hopefully, we can clear up this whole mess by sundown. It'll be much harder to find him at night, and nighttime is when lizards go on the hunt."
The Purple Ranger cringed at the thought. "We'll teleport to the Eaglezord," she said, holding out her hand. Spiderman took her hand, and Alexis guided their teleport to the cockpit of the Eaglezord. .
"Okay," said the Purple Ranger, glancing down at Philadelphia from the vantage point of the top of the Penn Tower Hotel, "how do we find the Lizard?"
"That's a good question," Spiderman replied, shaking his head, "Philadelphia is a big city, and he's been out of sight for twelve hours. He could be anywhere! I should've tabbed him with a Spider-tracer last night, before he got away. Then our job would be much easier today."
"You've fought him before," Alexis noted, turning around to face her partner, "Where does the Lizard usually go? You said he hunts in the nightttime, so what does he do during the day?"
"I'd think he'd hide out," said Spiderman, tapping his chin, "especially since he was wounded. But that just makes him even harder to track down."
"Too bad we don't have police dogs," Alexis commented, "They'd be able to track down his scent easily enough. He reeked!"
"Scent!" Spiderman cried, snapping his fingers, "That's it! Follow me!"
With that, Spiderman stepped off the side, and crawled to the ground. The Alexis shrugged and leapt into the air, allowing her Mercury wings to slow her descent. She hovered right beside Spiderman, and kept up with him as both grew closer to the ground below.
"So you have an idea?" Alexis asked.
"Last night, when we fought him, you mentioned that he stank," Spiderman recounted, "That was the smell of the sewers. Lizard must've hid in the sewer! Its a perfect way to get across town without being spotted."
"How do you know what the sewer smells like?" Alexis asked, dreading the answer.
"Because the last time I fought the Lizard, that's where he established his hideout. I'll bet that's what he's doing this time around."
Then, Spiderman leapt to the street once he was close enough. He glanced around the busy streets, being sure not to be seen by any passersby. Then, he spotted what he was looking for-- a manhole.
"Come on," he said, walking towards the street. He kneeled on the asphalt, and ran his fingers over the manhole cover. "Do you see this?" he asked, pointing at the manhole. Alexis noticed deep claw marks on the sides of the iron.
"The Lizard must've pried the cover off. So this is his point of entry."
"You got it," said Spiderman, gripping the cover on both sides. He pulled the circular piece of metal out, revealing a dark hole in the street. Alexis frowned beneath her helmet.
"So we're going into the sewers?" she asked apprehensively. Spiderman nodded, and let his legs dangle in the dark hole.
"Hey, its a dirty job, but someone has to do it!"
With that, Spiderman leapt into the all-consuming darkness. Alexis waited a few moments, and then followed. "Wow," she said, looking through the darkness, "Even my helmet's nightvision function can cut through this pea-soup."
"That's not a problem," said Spiderman. Suddenly, the chamber was filled with a pale yellow light, exuding from Spiderman's waist.
"A belt-buckle flashlight?" Alexis marvelled, "You're certainly equipped."
"Like I said, this isn't my first trip to the dark underbelly of a big city," he said, stepping forward into a tunnel, "Let's try this way first."
"Why this way?" Alexis asked, following him.
"Because this is west, which is in the direction of High Rise South, where we fought him last night. If he had already established a base before he attacked us, then it would be in this direction."
After walking in silence for a few minutes, a question popped into the Purple Ranger's head. "How do we know when we get close?"
"My Spider-sense will warn me," he responded.
"Yeah. Its a sixth sense, alerting me that I'm in danger. Its like a tingling feeling in the back of my head. Hasn't let me down yet."
Suddenly, that self-same tingle began in Spiderman's head. He stopped in his tracks as a flash of light momentarily clouded his vision. That light quickly faded, and Spiderman's eyes widened behind his mask. Quickly, he spun around, and tackled the Purple Ranger to the ground. At the same time, a blur of green streaked above their heads, and landed a few feet away. Both heroes scrambled to their feet as a ferocious roar shook the underground tunnels. The Lizard has found its prey.
"Stay sharp, Purple," Spiderman warned, leaping out of the way of a deadly swing of Lizard's mighty tail, "There isn't a whole lotta room to maneuvre."
"You telling me!" she gasped flipping as Lizard slashed at her waist. She somersaulted into the air, and plowed her heel into the Lizard's head. She then pushed off the Lizard, flipping backwards and landing on her feet. The Lizard was stunned by this attack, but he recovered quickly, and shook his head clear. Spiderman took advantage of Lizard's momentary distraction by wrapping the latter's feet in webbing. The Lizard fell to the ground once again, and Spiderman proceeded to web his claws and arms to limit mobility.
"I'll hold 'im!" Spiderman yelled, "You give him the antidote!"
"I'm on it!" Alexis answered, the test tube appearing in her hand in a flash of purple light. She ran to the monster, uncorking the bottle along the way. Once she reached Lizard, Spiderman held its snout open while she poured the contents of the tube into its mouth. But before he could drink the entire dosage, the Lizard clamped his jaws shut, forcing Spiderman to let go. Then it swung its head around, smacking away the test tube. Alexis watched helplessly as the glass tube crashed into the nearby wall, shattering into tiny glass shards while spilling the remaining potion into the waters of the sewers. She turned back around, and was caught by surprise when Lizard grabbed her by the neck with both clawed hands. She struggled against him, and Spiderman leapt onto his back, trying to force the monster to release her. Finally, Lizard tossed Alexis through the wall with all his might, and shook Spiderman off. Spiderman also crashed into a concrete wall, and fought to stay conscious. He saw the Lizard hold his head, and quake slightly.
_Is the potion finally taking its effect?_ he thought dazedly, trying to rise to his feet. But the Lizard quickly recovered, and surveyed his situation. Spiderman was staggering on his feet, and the Purple Ranger hadn't moved since she crashed through the wall. The Lizard turned to Spiderman, his reptilian eyes narrowed.
"Do not toy with me, Spiderman," he rumbled, "I am by far your superior in all aspects."
With that, Lizard ran off into the tunnel. Spiderman quickly reached into his belt, and tossed a small metallic spider at Lizard. The spider caught the tail of the torn lab coat Lizard was wearing. Spiderman smiled, and leaned against the wall to recover his balance.
_Was it my imagination, or did the Lizard's voice soften a bit?_ he thought, _It sounded more like Doc Conners. And why didn't he just kill me? The Lizard hates me enough. Could the potion have somehow unlocked some of Doc Conners' personality? The dose we gave wasn't enough to transform him completely, but it did have an effect._
Spiderman stood up, and jogged over to the hole in the wall where the Purple Ranger was thrown earlier. He glanced inside the hole, and saw her lying unmoving amidst a pile of concrete chunks. He quickly kneeled beside her, and began digging her out of the concrete prison. Once he freed her, he moved to remove her helmet. But he hesitated.
_She has a secret identity, and I don't have the right to compromise it. But, what if she's not breathing? How can I help her?_
Spiderman gently shook Alexis by grabbing onto her shoulders. "Hey, are you okay, Purple?"
Alexis stirred, and her eyes opened beneath her helmet. "What hit me?" she whispered.
"The wall," Spiderman responded, standing up, "Do you think you can walk?"
"No problem," she said, slowly rising to her feet, "Where's the Lizard? Did he get away?"
"Yes and no," Spiderman answered, pulling out a small device from his belt. It looked like a calculator with a large screen.
"What's that?" she asked, glancing over his shoulder.
"Its a tracking device. After the Lizard tossed you through the wall, he threw me into another wall. Then, he retreated. I couldn't follow him, so I tagged him with one of my Spider-tracers. Now we can follow him, no matter where he goes."
"Great!" said Alexis, "So let's get going! I'm ready for round two!"
"Not yet, Partner," said Spiderman, taking the second tube of formula from his belt, "We already gave Lizard some of this potion, but he broke loose before he swallowed the whole dosage. About how much did he ingest?"
"I'd say... a little more than half the tube," Alexis recalled, "Why? Did it have an effect?"
"I think it did. It took a few minutes, but his voice was less raspy then before, and for some reason, after both of us were stunned, he didn't decide to finish us off. He just warned me to lay off. Now Lizard has no mercy, so its hard for me to believe he didn't kill me when he had a chance. Unless somehow, part of Doc Conners was able to assert itself, and restrain Lizard's animal instincts. So the potion did something. But I doubt it'll be enough to completely reverse the transformation."
"So what's our next step?" asked Alexis, sitting down on a large concrete chunk.
Spiderman paced along the ground, rubbing his chin. "We have another tube of the chemical," he said, staring at the tube in his hand, "This this approximately twice the amount he has ingested so far. I originally planned on giving him one full dosage of potion. If we give him the rest of this tube, he'd have ingested one and a half doses, and that may be dangerous. So we have to make sure to give him only half the tube. We need to divide the rest of it."
"Then we need another test tube," said Alexis, "Come on, let's get outta this place."
"Good idea," said Spiderman, as the two heroes hurried out of the sewers. .
Atop an apartment building near the University of Pennsylvania campus, Spiderman waited rather impatiently, holding the remaining tube of Conners' antidote in one hand, and his computerized tracer in the other. He watched the screen intently, following the small red dot. Spiderman grimaced.
_He's close,_ he thought, glancing down at the city below him, _He's about a quarter of a mile northeast from here. Purple Ranger better hurry up!_
Just then, the Purple Ranger flew onto the roof of the building, holding what looked like a silver and purple watch in her hand.
"Sorry it took me so long," she said, "but I couldn't find my communicator. I haven't used it since I left Calfornia, and that was months ago."
"What will that do?" Spiderman asked.
"Instead of getting a glass test tube from somewhere, I'm going to ask my mentor to give us a better one."
"How long will that take?"
"Not long at all," she answered, turning on the communicator. "Zordon? This is the Purple Ranger. Do you read me?"
After a few moments of silence, there was an answer at the other end.
^HOW ARE YOU, PURPLE RANGER? WE HAVE NOT HEARD FROM YOU IN A WHILE.^
"I'm doing fine, but my friend and I need some help. Could you possibly teleport two unbreakable test tubes to my coordinates? Its an emergency."
Seconds later, two new crystal test tubes appeared in the Purple Ranger's hand.
^DO YOU AND YOUR ALLY NEED THE ASSISTANCE OF THE REMAINING POWER RANGERS?^
Alexis thought about if for a moment. "Nah, I think we can handle it. Thanks for the offer, though. Goodbye."
^MAY THE POWER PROTECT YOU BOTH.^
Alexis turned off the communicator, and it vanished from her hands.
"Let me guess," Spiderman said, "You stored it in that pocket dimension of yours."
"For now, at least," she answered, handing him one of the tubes, "Will this do?"
Spiderman took the tube, and examined it carefully. He then tapped it with his fingertips. "What are these made of?" he asked her, "They don't seem different from normal glass."
"Glass is too fragile. I think its some kind of alien crystal that's much more shatter-resistent. Hopefully, they won't break."
Spiderman nodded, and poured about half the contents of his vial into one crystal tube. Then he sealed it, and poured the remaining potion into the other tube. Then, he sealed the second one, and placed it into his belt. Alexis took the other tube, and stored it in her pocket dimension.
"So what do we do next?" Alexis asked as Spiderman picked up his small computer.
"We go hunting," he answered, watching the sun slowly dip below the horizon. .
Its early Saturday evening in Philadelphia, and many of the UPenn students walk in groups to one of the many restaurants on or near campus for dinner. In the heart of the campus is Locust Walk, a walkway lined with trees still decorated with Christmas lights, class buildings, libraries, and fraternity and sorority houses. As the unwary students walk along, talking about various topics, none are aware of the creature hiding within a patch of bushes along the side of the Annenberg Center, only yards away from the Walk. That creature is about six and a half feet tall, with a powerful tail, rather sharp claws and fangs, and pale green skin. The creature sniffs about the air, and grins slightly when it chooses its prey-- a rather large, athletic looking student. But before the creature could pounce, something forced him back. It was his conscience.
_I... I can't do it!_ he thought, _I can't kill him! But I am a hunter and he is my prey. I must kill him to ensure my survival. But I just can't..._
Before the Lizard could think anymore about it, twin vines of sticky white material wrapped around his arms and torso, pulling him out off the bushes. Lizard looked up, and saw Spiderman crouched on the wall above, still holding the webs with his hands. Spiderman began swaying the Lizard back and forth, until the latter was swinging like a pendulum. Once enough momentum was built, Spiderman let go, sending the Lizard flying onto the tiled floor of the courtyard of Annenberg Center. The Lizard skidded along ground, still slippery from the snow that fell the previous night, and crashed into a wooden bench, reducing it to splinters. Spiderman somersaulted into the air, and landed gracefully on the snow, his hands planted on his hips. Beside him, the Purple Ranger slowly descended to the ground.
"You're not feeding on anyone tonight, Lizard," Spiderman said authoritatively.
"Not on our watch," Alexis added.
The Lizard grumbled as he rose to his feet cautiously. His claws dug into the snow, grabbing the ground beneath securely. Alexis studied the form of her opponent curiously.
"Does he look shorter to you, or is it just the lighting?" she asked Spiderman.
"He is shorter," Spiderman noted, "by at least half a foot. And his skin is paler, and it looks like his reptilian speed and agility have been weakened as well. The potion we gave him has reversed some of the lizard transformation, but its not done yet. He's still more 'Lizard' than he is 'Kurt Conners'. Hopefully another dose of the antidote will fix that. Did you make sure the arena's secure?"
"Yeah," Alexis answered, "A few tree trunks are separating the courtyard from Locust Walk. Students will hear what's happening, but they won't see anything. And they won't be able to get in the way."
"Good," Spiderman said, "You hold Lizard down, and I'll administer my vial. If that still isn't enough, then I'll hold him, while you give him the rest. Hopefully, that'll be enough to completely reverse the transformation."
"What if its not?" asked Alexis.
"It had better be," Spiderman replied, leaping into the air. Lizard saw Spiderman flying towards him, and he swung his tail around. Spiderman collided with the tail, and crashed into a snow bank along the side of the courtyard.
"Home run," Lizard rumbled with laughter, "Lizard one, superheroes zero."
"And now the Purple Ranger's at the mound!" Alexis cried, holding her palms about six inches apart. Sparks of faint purple energy streamed from her inclined fingertips into a focal point between her hands, and it built until it formed a ball of swirling purple energy. Alexis then pulled her hands to her side, and slowly brought the heels of her hands together. She then trust her hands out at Lizard, sending the sphere of energy flying through the crisp night air. The energy streaked at Lizard too quickly for him to respond. It struck him in the abdomen, exploding on contact. The Lizard was thrown forcefully into the side of the building, striking his head. He slumped to the ground, his reptilian eyes shut tight.
"You're out!" Alexis cried, running to where Spiderman had landed. He was sitting up, painfully rubbing his chest, where the Lizard's tail had hit him.
"I'm fine," Spiderman said before Alexis could even ask, "Where's the Lizard?"
Alexis pointed to the Lizard, who was already regaining consciousness. Spiderman rose to his feet, and the two heroes bounded towards their fallen opponent before he could recover completely. Spiderman wrapped him in webbing en route, and once he reached the Lizard, he already had the test tube open. This time, the Purple Ranger held his mouth open, and Spiderman poured the entire contents of the vial into his mouth. The Lizard's eyes opened wide, and suddenly the green reptilian eyes took on a more human look, with the green turning white and a circle of brown surrounding the pupils. The Lizard roared in pain as his tail slowly receeded, as did his claws and snout. Spiderman and the Purple Ranger both stepped back, watching quietly as the Lizard returned to his human form. Alexis watched with mute awe as Doctor Conners collapsed onto the snow beneath him, breathing heavily and sweat soaking the torn remains of his outfit. Spiderman quickly lifted his head from the snow gently.
"Are you okay, Doc?" he asked.
"Spiderman?" Conners whispered hoarsely, "I'm so sorry... but I couldn't control the Lizard. He was even stronger this time..."
"Don't worry about it," said Alexis, leaning over into Conners' field of vision, "it wasn't your fault. Fortunately, the Lizard didn't do anything drastic. You're going to be okay."
"Who are you?" Conners asked the unfamiliar heroine.
"I'm the Purple Ranger," she answered, "Philadelphia's protectress. Pleased to meet you."
Conners smiled at both heroes. "Thank you so much," he whispered, before passing out.
"Will he be okay?" Alexis asked, as Spiderman lifted the unconscious doctor off the snow.
"He's just exhausted," Spiderman replied, "We need to get him out of the cold. We also need to come up with a cover story."
"That's true," said Alexis, "Everyone knows Conners was mysteriously kidnapped. What do we say?"
"Its up to you," Spiderman answered, "Maybe your alien enemy kidnapped him for some reason. But make sure to keep Spiderman out of it."
"Why?" she asked, startled.
"Because Spiderman is a New York hero. I came here to keep an eye on Doc Conners, but no one else knows he's the Lizard. If I mysteriously appear in Philly, people will be asking questions."
"That makes sense," said Alexis, "I guess I'll take him to his hotel."
"Good idea," Spiderman agreed, placing Conners in the Purple Ranger's arms, "but try to keep away from the press. They'll probably ask you a lot of annoying questions. Maybe you can go tell your story to Conners' assistants. I think their names are Peter Parker and Deborah Whitman. They'll convey what you said to the reporters, but you'll be safe from that media insanity."
"You really know how to deal with the press," Alexis marvelled. Spiderman shrugged.
"It comes with the territory," he responded, pointing his web shooter at the top of Annenberg Center, "Thanks for all your help, Purple Ranger. I couldn't have done it without you."
Alexis beamed behind her helmet, "Thanks. Do you need a lift to New York? I can take you in the Eaglezord."
"Nah. I can get back on my own. Thanks for the offer."
Alexis waved as Spiderman fired his webbing , and swung on the vine into the night. After he was gone, her Mercury wings began to flap, and Alexis and Doctor Conners were airborne, heading towards the Penn Tower Hotel. .
Spiderman quietly leapt into the window of his hotel room, which he purposely left open. He quickly pulled off his mask and uniform, exchanging his Spiderman attire for that of Peter Parker. He also grabbed his camera, and wound a fresh roll of film onto it.
_I only got one shot of the Purple Ranger,_ Peter thought, _and that was when I first me her, and I blinded her with the flash. I doubt it'll come out cleanly. Hopefully, though, I'll get another chance, as Peter Parker._
Just then, there was a knock on his bedroom door. He closed the back of his camera, and laid it on his dresser. He then quickly hid the Spiderman costume in his drawer, and opened the door.
"Hey Deb," he greeted.
"Don't give me that," Deborah Whitman snarled, walking into his bedroom, "Where have you been all day, Peter?"
"What do you mean?" Peter asked innocently, "I was here!"
"Sure you were," she said sarcastically, "I was banging on your door for twenty minutes this afternoon, when the police came to ask us more questions. I even tried to unlock the door with the key from downstairs, but it was bolted."
"Well, if the door was bolted, then how could I not be in my room?" Peter asked with a grin, "After all, you can only bolt the door from the inside."
Deborah was about to continue yelling, but she stopped short to consider this. She then glanced at the open window, and her eyebrow rose.
Peter followed her gaze, and chuckled slightly at the idea he knew she had. "Come on, Deb. How would I get anywhere from the window? We're like a mile off the ground! Who do you think I am? Spiderman?"
Deborah frowned. "Why is the window open?"
"Because I was hot," Peter answered coolly, "Any more questions?"
Deborah was at a loss for words, and walked over to the window. She glanced down at the ground, which was extremely far away. She sighed.
"Okay, Peter, you're right," she said, still looking out the window, "But I don't understand why you didn't--"
Deborah stopped in mid sentence, and gasped as she gazed directly in front of her. Peter ran towards her, and looked outside. His hazel eyes widened when he saw a purple armored warrior, carrying the unconscious Kurt Conners in her arms.
"Deborah Whitman, I presume?" the Purple Ranger asked the blonde woman. She nodded mutely. "And... Peter Parker?"
"Yeah," said Peter, "And you must be the Purple Knight?"
"Purple Ranger," she corrected, "May I come in?"
Both students nodded, and moved away from the window. Alexis sailed through the window, and lay Conners on Peter's unmade bed. Both Deborah and Peter hurried to their professor's bedside.
"What happened to him?" Deborah asked, looking up at the Purple Ranger.
"He was kidnapped by the evil aliens we Power Rangers always fight against," Alexis answered, "Fortunately, I managed to save him before they could use his genius to their advantage."
"He was kidnapped by aliens?" Deborah asked skeptically. Alexis looked down at her.
"Yes he was."
"That explains how he was kidnapped through the window," Peter said, "The aliens probably flew into the room."
"Actually, they teleported," Alexis corrected, "which is why the glass was broken from the inside. The alien being teleported into the room, and fired an energy beam at the doctor, in an attempt to stun him. The doctor dodged, which is why the beam struck the window instead, shattering it. But the alien got the doctor in the end, and teleported him away."
"And he's okay now?" Deborah asked.
"He should be," Alexis said, "but he probably won't remember what happened to him. He was unconscious most of the time."
"Thanks so much, Purple Ranger," Peter said, extending his hand, "You saved Doctor Conners' life."
Alexis shook the young man's hand, and walked back towards the window. "Take care of him," she said before stepping onto the windowsill.
"Wait!" Peter called, grabbing his camera from his dresser, "Um, before you go, do you mind if I get your photo?"
Alexis turned to him. "Well, I'd like to steer clear from the media-- no offense of course..."
"I'm a photographer for New York's Daily Bugle," Peter explained, "and my boss'll kill me if I don't get a shot of you! Its the only reason he let me come to Philly to help out Doctor Conners."
"Well, I guess one photo wouldn't hurt. But could you do me a favor?"
"Tell everyone that I'm the Purple _Ranger_. All this Purple Knight stuff is getting on my nerves."
"You got it," said Peter with a smile, "Do you mind if I get a shot of you flying?" .
A week later, Peter Parker strolled into the J3 Communications building in New York City. He had a wide grin on his face, knowing full well that he'd done an excellent job. He had in his hand last Sunday's Daily Bugle, which featured an article on the Purple Ranger's daring rescue of Doctor Kurt Conners from mysterious magical villains. Of course, many people were skeptical of that statement, since they didn't believe in aliens. But there were many more who accepted the article, knowing about the super-powered beings that exist in the world and beyond. Also on the front page was a large, bold color photograph of the Purple Ranger herself, hovering in the dark night sky with stars glittering in the background, and her ankle wings shimmering with purple energy. It was a perfectly composed photograph, and an excellent article to boot. And both were submitted by Peter.
After he had taken those photographs of the Purple Ranger, he begged the University of Pennsylvania president Judith Rodin if he could use the school's photography facilities to develop his film. Since he was a guest, Doctor Rodin gave him permission, and Peter immediately developed the film. He then went to the University's library, and spent hours typing the story about what happened. Then, he scanned the photographs of the Purple Ranger onto the computer, and attached both the article and the photograph onto an e-mail to J. Jonah Jameson, entitled "Stop the Presses!!" Needless to say, that article did stop the presses, and it appeared on the front page the following morning. The Daily Bugle had the most complete story of Doctor Conners' abduction and the Purple Ranger, along with the only photograph of the heroine, Sunday morning. Jameson was, for a change, impressed by Peter's work. And so he e-mailed the young photographer Sunday morning, asking him to pay him a visit as soon as he got back to New York. And now, only about an hour after touching down at JFK airport, Peter is sitting outside the office of the business tycoon.
"Go ahead in," Trixie said, "JJ's ready for you."
Peter smiled at the secretary, and then entered the office. He found Jameson sitting at his desk, a wide grin on his face.
"Peter!" he greeted, "So good to see you! How was your trip to Philadelphia?"
"Eventful," Peter responded, taking a seat.
"And I trust Doctor Conners got the grant?"
"Yeah, he did. UPenn was happy to help fund the Doc's reseach-- especially since it attracted the attention of aliens."
"And Conners is fully recovered?"
"Yeah, he's as good as new."
"Wonderful. Peter, I wanted to congratulate you. You finally came through, and you sent me the photograph the entire nation is desperate for. How did you do it?"
"A little luck, I guess," Peter said, "And me being a friend of Doc Conners sure helped things. The Purple Ranger didn't like the idea of being photographed."
"I'll be honest with you, Parker," Jameson said, standing up, "I didn't think you could do it. I thought you're only good for one thing-- taking pictures of that nuissance Spiderman. But you proved me wrong, boy. And so, I'm giving you a bonus. Good work, Kid."
"Thanks Mr. Jameson!" Peter said, shaking his hand.
In Philadelphia, Alexis grins as she re-reads the Daily Bugle article she printed off the web the other day. She knew that Peter Parker worked for the Daily Bugle, so she checked the Bugle website. To her surprise, on the front cover was the photograph Peter had taken of her, along with a precise, and somewhat flattering, article.
"Its a shame Spiderman didn't get any credit," she said aloud, "He did even more than I did to save Doctor Conners. I guess that's what he meant when he said that fame isn't the true reward. He was more concerned with Doctor Conners' secret being kept than his own fame and glory. He's a true hero. I'm so glad I got the chance to work with him. I really think I learned alot!"
Just then, the telephone rang. Alexis picked up the receiver on her desk.
^Hey, Red,^ came a familiar voice. Alexis' eyes widened in surprise and elation.
"Jason! How are you? I haven't spoken to you in so long!"
^Things've been a bit crazy in Geneva, but when I saw that Daily Bugle article, I had to contact you!^
"You saw the article?" she asked in surprise.
^Yeah. One of the sessions we had today dealt with the fact that a possible invasion of Earth by aliens is one impetus for world peace. You know, to create a united front against a global threat? And to show the possibility of aliens attacking Earth, the professor showed us the article about the Purple Ranger saving that doctor from aliens. What's happened to you?^
"I hope you don't have anything immediate to do," said Alexis, lying down on her bed, "because this is one heck of a long story!"