In the subterranean tunnels that honeycombed the great city of San Angeles, two figures scuttled through the electrically-lighted closeness; one dragging the other.
"C'mon, Rob -- C'mon!" the brown-haired man with the birthmark on his upper lip gasped, pulling his brother. "We can't let 'em catch us!"
Rob shook his head, sending jet-black hair brushing his shoulders. He squirmed out of his brother's grasp, and sank against the wall. "No good, Hal," he panted. "My ankle's had it! Go on... save yourself!"
"I won't leave you!" Hal retorted.
Rob stared at Hal for a long moment, his face darkening. When he finally spoke, his hissed voice held an echo. "Dang it, don't be so stubborn! If you stay, we'll both be killed!" The echo grew stronger. "One of us has to lead the others! Go on!!"
Hal rose to his feet. "I'll be back!" he insisted. "They won't get you... I'll be back!" He fled.
Rob leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. 'I've no doubt you will, little brother,' he thought. 'I only regret I'll be dead when you do!'
"Hold!" a guttural tenor barked. "Here's one!" Rob opened his eyes to see George Michaelson, Captain of the Emperor's Royal Guard, crouching down in front of him. Behind Michaelson was a battalion of soldiers.
Michaelson smiled coldly. "So... Rob Smith, co-leader of the Rebels! My, my... This is a find! You rebels always work in pairs... where's your partner?"
Rob just glared at him. Michaelson chuckled slightly. "No answer, eh? Any last words?"
Rob spit in his face. The smile gone now, Michaelson got to his feet and wiped the spittle from his eye. "Fine," he snarled. "Kill him."
When Michaelson moved out of the way, seven soldiers hefted laser pistols and aimed them directly at Rob's chest. Rob's chin lifted defiantly, determined to meet death proudly.
The soldiers fired at Michaelson's barked order. The bolts hit something unseen and round inches from Rob's chest and dissipated.
Rob gasped, his eyes wide as he realized he was not only alive, but unharmed!
"What just happened here?" Michaelson demanded. "Fire again!"
Before the soldiers could comply, four figures raced out of the darkness. One, a dead ringer for Michaelson, bellowed, "Leave him alone!"
The resemblance rocked Michaelson for a second, till he saw a second "Rob" drop beside Rob and begin to examine the ankle. "They're rebels!" he yelled. "Kill them all!"
Rob stared at his double for a long moment, wincing as long fingers probed his ankle. "Who are you four?"
Chocolate colored eyes raised to meet his own. "Friends," his double said succinctly. Both men ducked as a laser bolt crashed over their heads. Rob's double whirled and fired a laser bolt from his hand at the soldiers.
Rob's eyes widened at the sight. From his hand...not from a laser pistol! "Powers!" he gasped. "Y-You got powers!"
"Yep," his double said, glaring at him. Rob noticed their voices were identical, down to the Texan twang. "Now sit still and shut up."
The newcomers defended themselves against the soldiers' attacks. After several minutes, Michaelson ordered retreat. Minutes later, the five were alone in the tunnel.
The Monkees then introduced themselves. Rob nodded and did the same as Mike helped him up, ordering him to lean on his shoulder until they could get somewhere and bind the wounded ankle. As they headed down the tunnel, Rob told them, "I'll take you to my people." Then an echo appeared in his voice as he smiled. "You could be a great asset to the Revolution."
Peter frowned, not liking the odd tingle in the air when the echo came into Rob's voice. "Hey, Rob, why don't you tell us about this... revolution.... we seem to have become part of?"
Several men came running up, a man who looked exactly like Peter -- except for the shoulder-length brown hair -- in the lead. He pulled up short, grinning as he took Rob from Mike and hugging him tight. "Rob! You're okay!" He pulled back, registering the doubles for the first time. "...Hey! ...Who are these? And why do they look like us?"
Rob chuckled at that. "Friends. Even the one who looks like Michaelson. Everyone, this is Hal Smith, my little brother and co-leader of the Rebellion." He hugged Hal one-armed as he said affectionately, "Come on, little brother. Let's go home."
Rob and Hal led the Monkees to the rebel stronghold, deep in the tunnels under San Angeles. One of their doctors bound up Rob's ankle as the wounded leader explained, "We're in rebellion against Emperor David. He was a good ruler, but he's suppressed almost all civil and humanitarian rights since she arrived. We got fed up, and we've been rebelling ever since."
Davy leaned over to Mike and whispered, "Mike, I think I know this 'Emperor David'. We fought off Micky's double, yours and Pete's are Rob and Hal, and mine is nowhere to be seen! I think he's my double!"
Peter had been frowning ever since they got in this dimension. Suddenly the frown deepened as he jerked to his feet. He fled into the hallway and ran down the tunnel a few yards. There, the tears came; though he made no sound.
"Peter?" a soft, familiar voice behind him asked. A gentle hand lay on his shoulder. "What is it?"
Peter sighed, emotion making his voice shake. "I wanna go home, Michael! Back to LA, back to the show, back to being just an ordinary musician!" He paused, sniffing and wiping the tears from his face. "I hate these powers! What good is being a telekinetic if you're not happy, huh? I was happy before, Michael!" He did not turn around, but leaned his side into the wall. "I love playing music. It's where I belong, not... not dimension-hopping!"
Peter closed his eyes and felt himself shudder as he tried to get his emotions under control. "And why do we get involved wherever we go?" he complained. "Sure, it may be the only way to find the jewels, but I feel like I'm meddling!" He did not open his eyes, but felt the hand on his shoulder shift position as the man behind him moved to the front.
When his companion spoke, Peter heard a soft echo and felt the air vibrate slightly. "Not meddling, my friend. Without you, no difference can be made. You belong."
Peter sighed heavily. "I guess. Thanks, Michael." He opened his eyes and gasped, pushing off the wall and knocking the hand off his shoulder. "You're not Michael!"
Rob smiled and shrugged slightly. "I didn't say I was. But he and I look and sound alike. Mike wanted to come, but I used my power on him and he stayed."
Peter blinked, and then frowned again, tilting his head slightly. "Your power?"
Rob nodded. "Like I used on you." And the echo was back. "Persuasion."
At that moment, came a shout from the main hall a few yards down. "You! Here? I'll kill you!"
Rob sighed and rolled his eyes as they both broke into a run, heading back the way they'd come. "Now what?"
Micky put up his hands in defense and backpedaled as a man with long blonde hair, many scars, and an eye patch circled him with a drawn switchblade. "Hey!" Micky cried. "Hey, chill out, man!"
His opponent shook his head, lip curled in a sneer. "I don't know what you're saying, soldier -- I only know that you're a dead man!"
Micky shook his head and blinked out. "I don't know what you're talking about!" came the cry from thin air.
The blonde looked around and made a noise of sheer frustration, slicing at the air. "Where'd you go?" he yelled. "Coward! Show your face!"
At that moment, Rob and Peter ran inside to join the crowd surrounding the fighters. Peter met Mike's eyes, and Mike shook his head, mouthing Wanted us stay out. Peter sighed and rolled his eyes. Typical Micky....
"Blast it," Rob groaned, shaking his head. "I was afraid of this! Patch is the one I can't control!" He frowned more deeply then. "But... who's he after?"
"Micky, I'll wager," Peter sighed.
Rob blinked, watching Patch slice at the air. "But.....there's nobody there!"
Peter smiled despite himself. "Oh, yes, there is."
The open knife suddenly flew out of Patch's hand. "I'm no coward, Patch," Micky snarled. He shimmered into view, holding the knife and pointing it at Patch. "But I'm not gonna let you hurt me, either. Now calm down."
"No!" Patch screamed, hitting Micky where his neck met his shoulder. Micky fell, stunned, and the knife clattered to the ground.
Patch reached for the knife, which sailed upward seemingly under its own power. Rob saw it glide toward them and nodded, recalling Peter had mentioned he was telekinetic. Rob looked over at Peter and automatically recoiled from the brightly glowing blue eyes.
Peter reached out casually and grabbed the knife by the hilt. "Let's go, Monkees!" he cried.
PETE taking charge? Mike thought. That's unusual! Especially him beating me to the punch!
Patch went for Micky again, reaching for his throat. Mike shot a bolt of bright white light into Patch's face. Patch screamed, hands flying to his face. "My eye! You blinded me!"
"It's only temporary, Patch!" Davy cried, as Patch began to thrash blindly. Davy grew two feet taller and secured the flailing arms. He easily withstood Patch's kicks.
"Why'd he freak?" Peter whispered to Rob.
Rob whispered back, "That eye patch isn't for show. Philip there was our best marksman. Michaelson captured him and tortured him. When Philip wouldn't break, Michaelson carved out his left eye. That's how he became the Patch." He grinned a little. "And he's still our best marksman!"
"What did you say his name was before?"
"Philip. Philip Coleson."
Peter's jaw dropped. He stared at the Patch, taking in the long blonde hair and facial features. The resemblance was striking.
Coleson had been Phyllis's maiden name.
Minutes later, when his sight returned, Patch stopped struggling. Davy still held him fast, however.
"Thank you, Davy," Micky said, walking over. "Now... why did you attack me?"
Patch spit in his face.
"Patch!" Rob snapped. "That was uncalled for!"
"Look at his face, Rob!" Patch snarled, jabbing a finger as best as he could toward Micky. "Look at his face and tell me you don't see this is Captain Michaelson!"
Rob made an exasperated sound and rolled his eyes. The echo appeared in his voice as he said, "Michaelson tried to kill me today, Patch. Micky was one of my rescuers. I saw them at the same time!"
A sarcastic grin slowly spread over Patch's face. "Your power doesn't work on me, remember?" he chuckled. "I only have one eye!"
Peter sensed movement in his hand. He glanced down to see Patch's knife, still cradled in his palm, closing by itself-- and he wasn't doing it! He bounced the closed knife up and down in his palm, grinning at Davy. "Let him go, Big Guy. I think he's calm now."
Davy released Patch and Peter flipped him the switchblade. Patch caught it, glared at Micky, and slid the knife into his jeans pocket.
"I know why he's such a good marksman with only one eye," Peter whispered to Rob. "Patch is telekinetic, like me."
Rob whistled softly, shaking his head in amazement.
A young woman stepped up to Mike and held out a choker. "With my compliments," she said. Mike bent down and she fastened it around his neck. He stood and smiled at her.
"Doesn't go with your outfit," Micky cracked.
"Very funny," Mike said, grinning. Suddenly a faraway look appeared in his eyes. "Hey," he said. "Something... Some...thing..." Mike's upper body twitched. His eyes widened in horror. The choker began to glow.
Peter suddenly recognized the choker as being identical to something he'd read about. "No!" he screamed, lunging toward Mike.
Mike twitched again, harder this time. Suddenly he began to scream as his head fell back. Light exploded from his eyes, mouth, wrists and palms, flaring in every direction.
Rebels and Monkees scrambled. "His light's out of control!" Davy screamed. "What is that?"
"A power booster!" Peter cried. His eyes glowed intensely and Davy and Micky got their first glimpse at just how powerful the blond telekinetic was.
Pushed by Peter's telekinesis, the shafts of light flowed back into Mike's body. The light could be seen pulsing in his eyes and mouth, and dancing around his wrists. But a blue light above it held it in check. "Patch!" Peter cried, trembling slightly from the effort. "I can control the light for a little while -- but I need your help! Sever the booster!"
"Why the hell am I helpin' you?" Patch hissed under his breath, even as he took careful aim and threw his open switchblade. The knife passed under the choker and severed it. So accurate was Patch's aim that Mike's skin was not touched.
Mike fell to his knees, panting. "My... power... out... of... control..."
"It's OK, Michael," Peter soothed, helping him to his feet. "You're OK now." Then he rounded on the young woman. "What's the big idea?!"
She was trembling even as she shook her head and stammered, "He... seemed the weakest of you! I was just to help!"
Micky moved forward. "Lady, his power's the most dangerous of all of ours!"
Davy suddenly yelled, "Pete! Catch him!"
Mike's eyes had rolled back in his head and his knees were buckling. His body began to glow as he slumped into Peter's waiting arms. "Blast," Peter hissed, "he's gone into shock!"
"How do you know that?" Davy asked, frowning.
Peter smiled ironically as he lifted Mike into seven-foot-tall Davy's arms. "Mike's a medic, remember?"
"Yeah, but..." Then Davy grinned. "And you merged with Mike. I get it. There's still some of him left in you, isn't there?"
Peter nodded curtly. "Make him comfortable. Keep him warm." His eyes narrowed. "I've got a Rob to chew out."
Micky was turning in a slow circle, scanning with the tracer, when Davy walked up. "Well?" he asked, frowning at the scanner and looking off in the direction the machine pointed.
Davy sighed and rubbed the back of his neck, stretching some tension away. "Well, Pete says Mike's not in shock anymore. He's resting comfortably -- and still glowing. What are you doing?"
"Tracing the jewel. It's not anywhere in the citadel, but I'm getting a trace reading north of here." He retracted the wand on the scanner and slid it back into his belt. "Let's go fill Peter in."
Five minutes later, the three walked into a meeting room, where Rob and Hal were poring over charts. "Rob?" Peter asked without preamble. "What's north of here?"
The Revolution's co-leader frowned and blinked. "Nothing... except the palace."
"The palace," Davy whispered under his breath. "It figures the jewel would be in a place of power." Aloud, he asked, "Could you show us the way there? It's important."
Rob grinned. "I'll do better than that." He reached across the table and pressed a button. A three-dimensional image of a palace and surrounding grounds shimmered into view.
"Wow!" Micky gasped, leaning forward and studying it intently.
"What is that?" Peter gasped.
"Haven't you ever seen a holographic map before?" Rob asked.
Peter shook his head. "Heard of them, never seen one."
Rob frowned. "That's strange. Anyway," he said, pointing at the map, "here's the palace, and there is the main road. And here is the shortcut we'll take. I'm going with you. It's daylight now; we'll go when it gets dark." He sighed heavily. "We have to be careful. David seems evil, but he's really not. It's his consort, Marilla, we've got to be wary of. I feel she's the force behind the evil here, and she uses David as her pawn."
Three Monkees looked at each other, each mouthing the same word. Mara.
Hal shook his head and leaned over the table facing Rob. "You're rambling, brother. We know your love for your best friend is strong, but he has become evil!"
Rob leaned on the table as well and exploded, "He is not evil, Hal! Not until Marilla came and swayed his mind!"
A bolt of light flashed between the Smith brothers, punching a hole in the wall. "Whoa, you two!" All eyes turned to the doorway where Mike stood, leaning casually against the doorjamb. "The last thing we need is you two fighting!"
"Mike!" Davy cheered. "You're okay!"
"Finally," Mike sighed. "Pete, can I see you a minute?" Peter walked over.
Mike took his arm and pulled him into the hallway. Curious, Rob followed. "Pete, something's happened," Mike whispered. "My light just punched a hole in a wall! It could never do that before, only blow locks and sever ropes! What's going on?"
Peter blinked at him, confused at the note of panic in Mike's voice. "You've gotten a power boost, Michael. You fired a laser instead of regular light."
Rob stepped up to them. "Mike, you still have your regular light capability. You probably meant to fire the harmless light, but were unaware of how much your powers have been amplified."
Mike nodded, eyes wide as he pointed at Rob. "That's it! That's exactly what happened! Is it... perm... perm..."
"Permanent?" Rob asked. Mike nodded. "Yes."
Mike's face fell. "Oh. Then the other is, too?"
Peter frowned. "'Other'?"
Mike nodded. "The confusion. It feels like I'm trying to think through mud."
Alarm spread through Peter, but Rob merely smiled. "No, Mike. That will wear off."
Mike smiled in relief, but Peter didn't. "Michael, if you're... confused..."
Mike lay his hands on Peter's shoulders. "I know, Pete. I'm no good as a leader like this. You, more than anyone, know how I'd lead the team if I were clear-headed. So I want you to lead till I'm okay again."
Peter studied his face for a very long few minutes, then lowered his eyes and sighed. "Alright, Michael. I'll do it."
Mike grinned, nodded, lowered his hands and went back inside.
Rob walked over to Peter, frowning slightly. "'You, more than anyone'?"
Peter nodded, still looking after where Mike had walked inside. "A few days ago, our minds... merged. I know precisely how he'd lead the team... since I know him literally inside out." He sighed heavily and rubbed the back of his neck. "But I do wonder what I've gotten myself into."
The following morning, the five launched an unsuccessful attack on the castle. They were captured, and, their hands tied behind them, brought before the Emperor David --- a short man with long hair who carried a scepter.
David frowned and spoke to a person off in the shadows. "So, my love. These ragtag rebels are your enemies?" The voice was a surprise -- it was American-accented. He pointed at Davy with the scepter. "You! Remove your hood!"
The five had worn hooded capes. Davy's had not become dislodged during the capture. "I can't," Davy said. "My hands are tied."
David nodded at a soldier, who jerked down the hood. David gasped as he looked into his own face glaring back at him. "Your voice is heavily accented, stranger. You're not from here. Who are you? Why do you look like me?"
Davy's chin lifted. "My name is David Jones."
The Emperor blinked, confused. "But... that's my name!"
Marilla burst from the shadows. "David! Don't listen to the stranger!"
Mike tilted his head, smiling mirthlessly. "Hello, Mara. We wondered where you were."
Micky slid a force-field into the ropes he was bound with and began to untie them. Mike used what was now a weak laser to sever his. They held their hands as if they were still tied.
"Give me the segments, Monkees," Mara demanded, moving in front of David.
Micky answered, "We don't have them, Mara. There's one here -- why don't you just take it?"
Mara scowled at him, and Peter suddenly knew the answer. "You don't have a tracer! You can't change the segment without a tracer!"
Mara was forced to agree. "And I can't claim it until it's in its raw form. Correct, Michael."
Peter blinked. Michael?
By now completely lost in the shuffle, David stammered, "Marilla?"
Mara rounded on him. "Shut up, David! You've served your purpose!" She fired an energy bolt at him.
"No!" Micky screamed. He ran in front of the emperor, hands in front of him. The bolt slid into an invisible force-field tube. It seemed to wheel about, turning in mid-air. The bolt struck Mara full in the chest.
"No!" she moaned, falling to her knees and seeming to collapse in on herself. "Your hands were tied..."
And she was gone.
Rob recovered swiftly from the shock. As Micky untied him, he addressed David, an echo in his voice. "David... listen to me. What Marilla has done is over. It's time to wake up, David. Remember, but wake up. It's over, David! Wake up!"
Fury crossed David's face. He gripped the scepter and spat, "She... bewitched me!"
"But she's gone now," Peter said, chafing his aching wrists, "and we ask a boon of you."
Davy extended the wand on his tracer. "Long ago, a friend of ours lost something here. We were sent to retrieve it and return it to its original form. This tracer does it, and we feel it is in your possession. May we?"
David nodded once. "You may."
The scepter was pinpointed; but when Davy touched it, nothing happened.
"What?" David gasped. Then he smiled. "Oh. I understand. You want the Staff of Power. But this is not it."
Davy frowned. "But the tracer registered..."
David raised the scepter. "This is a molecule-by-molecule duplicate, so it would register as the real thing. The real staff is in my chambers. Come."
In the midst of the emperor’s chambers stood a case, in which rested a bejeweled scepter.
"Why would such an important relic be in plain sight, unguarded?" Peter said under his breath.
"I'll get the lock!" Mike said brightly, raising a hand.
"Mike, wait!" Peter ordered. "Something's fishy!"
But the laser was already away. It passed right through the case and harmlessly out the window. "Say what?" Mike gasped.
"I knew it!" Peter snapped. His eyes began to glow. "Micky, protect us! I'm activating any secret panels that are here!"
Micky nodded at Peter: his field was up. Peter slowly scanned the room with glowing eyes. Suddenly part of the wall flew open, startling them all.
The scepter fell into Peter's waiting hands. His tracer transformed the staff into the first jewel-- a diamond-- and sent it to Phyllis.
When the Monkees, Rob, and David reentered the throne room, Michaelson entered, with Hal and Patch in ropes. "Your eminence!" Michaelson said, giving the rebels a shove. "We caught these rebels in the palace! Shall I execute them?"
"No," David said. "Michaelson, sound the order. All martial law is lifted!"
Michaelson nodded, scowling, and left. David pointed after him. "I'll have to replace him," he said. "He seems to enjoy his work a little too much!"
"I want to be there when you do," Rob laughed, untying his friends and hugging his brother. "The evil one is gone! The rebellion is over!"
As the rebels celebrated with the emperor, the Monkees slid into a dark corner and Mike triggered his watch. Silently, they vanished, heading for the next dimension and their next quest.
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