Leo would give Eric this: he might not be the fastest guy but man was he determined. Every time the Lost Galaxy Ranger glanced over his shoulder to see how Eric was doing the other man was always right there, fighting to close the gap between them in the wide, tiled hallways that connected the many offices of Bio Labs together. That was a stubbornness that could not be rivaled by any other ranger. That included Taylor. And Kai.
Leo had thought at some point Eric’s rage would be overcome by exhaustion but nope, it seemed like the exertion only made the Quantum Ranger want for his blood more, which was as flattering as wanting to harm your friends could be. Personally, Leo found it adorable but he recognized the fact that he wasn’t the most stable of individuals anyway, so it probably wasn’t an opinion anyone else shared.
Sometime soon Leo was going to have to figure out a way to bring this chase through the interior of Bio Labs to an end. If there actually was a super-mega-epic-mysterious-shadowy scheme in the works that was threatening Power Rangers, there was a good chance they would actually need to fight something at some point. Besides each other. And Wes would probably appreciate it if Leo left Eric with enough energy to do that. Because Eric didn’t seem like the type that would be left behind. Not if Wes was going. He could be passed out on the floor, consumed with fatigue, and just the mention of the possibility of a battle would probably throw him into action, as though he were still up to a hundred percent. Eric seemed like one of those kind of guys. Leo would know this because Kai was one of those kinds of guys, and excessive collaboration with those kinds of guys made those-guy-kinds traits easily recognizable.
…and now Leo was confused. Whatever, the point still stood. He needed to draw this to a close.
He considered trying to charm his way out, a trick he had picked up in his youth to get out of a majority of the fights that came his way, but seeing as his “charm” was sort of what landed him in this position in the first place, he decided to pursue some other alternatives.
Leo could always knock Eric out. Just a small love tap. He would only be out for like, five minutes…maybe ten.
Or half an hour.
Leo could admit he wasn’t exactly sure on the science of love taps. He always had varying results.
Then again, there was a good chance Eric would still be mad (or more mad) after he woke up, rendering the entire process pointless. Damn, Eric was just making everything difficult. If he would only give up Leo could go back to eating his M&Ms and Kai-watching in peace.
There was a fleeting idea where Leo just let Eric catch him, which would put an end to the running, but it also landed him in the rather unfortunate position of being caught by an angry Eric Meyers, which in general seemed like a dumb thing to do. Leo was reckless but even he had a few survival instincts. Instincts which were telling him that being anywhere near Eric right now was a bad idea.
So…back to square one. Again.
Apparently Leo wasn’t on top of his game today.
With a depressed sigh the brunette scanned behind him, checking Eric’s distance and surprised to find Adam jogging beside the Quantum Ranger, attempting, by the looks of it, to talk Eric out of his rage. That was…well, probably better than anything Leo could have done and while he sincerely doubted the likelihood Adam’s success he was grateful that at least someone was trying to help. That was nice. There were plenty of people that felt the thoughts behind gestures didn’t count for anything, but Leo was not one of those people. He appreciated the fact that someone tried to stick up for him. He appreciated that thought a lot.
“If you can outrun him, why haven’t you done that by now?”
The new voice came from beside Leo, forcing him to repress a startled jolt because he had not heard anyone approaching. Surprise of all surprises it was Lucas, jogging beside him with an expression of utter calmness, like this absurdity was all a part of his usual schedule.
Steadfast and unflappable, Leo had immediately liked Lucas. He was a stand up type of guy. Maybe a little too obsessed with his hair but hey, everybody had faults/everyone had their faults.
Lucas’ raised eyebrow made Leo realize the other man was still waiting for an answer. He shrugged haplessly, ducking around a random corner, Lucas following him easily.
“I could have outrun him a few minutes ago, but it turns out Eric is slightly more…”
“Pissed?” Lucas offered.
“Persistent,” Leo settled on. “Than I had previously anticipated.”
“Have you thought about letting him catch you?” Lucas asked, keeping his focus on Leo despite the sounds of breathless curses one Eric Meyers was spitting out behind them.
Leo gave him his best puppy dog eyes. “But I like
“Take one for the team,” Lucas replied impassively. “Wes wants to get us back in the council room.”
“So you guys are on round up duty?” Leo couldn’t help the broad smile that stretched across his face at the idea. “Got the short end of the stick?”
“We volunteered, actually.” Lucas had the beginnings of a smirk as he said this, like he wanted to give into the joy of easy banter were it not for the fact he actually had a job to do right now.
Speaking of which…
“So, any ideas?” Leo asked, darting through another door to discover a cement stairwell. He contemplated the stairs for about half a second before deciding down would be his best choice and took off, jumping down the things two or three at a time.
“I still think letting him catch you is a good idea.” Lucas landed beside him with the grace of…something ungraceful, but managed to keep going.
“And I still don’t,” Leo replied cheerily. “So let’s think of something else.”
“Have you tried talking to him?” Lucas asked, eyes now focused on successfully navigating the stairs to avoid breaking his neck. Which was a shame, because Leo was missing the time ranger’s snarky face.
“Seeing as that’s what got me into this mess…”
The blue ranger shrugged. “Couldn’t hurt.”
Leo blinked, suddenly aware that Lucas had a valid point. He came to an abrupt halt as they reached the bottom of the staircase, crashing into the far wall as he whipped around, the footsteps of Eric (and Adam) audible above them.
“Hey Eric!” he hollered, cupping one hand beside his mouth and trying not to smirk as Lucas made his way back towards the red ranger with a glare, not foreseeing sudden stop. “Lucas thinks I should talk to you!”
The footsteps continued for a couple of seconds before gradually coming to a halt. Based on their shadows Leo would reckon the other two rangers were on the staircase just above them.
There was a few seconds of labored breathing, Eric presumably trying to catch his breath, before the Quantum Ranger answered. “About what exactly?”
“Not sure,” Leo replied, unable to help the cheeky tone that unquestionably grated at Eric’s nerves. “But while we’re taking a break, I must say I’m impressed you’ve kept up so long. I figured you’d run out of anger by now.”
“Yeah well,” Eric spat, displeasure clear in his voice. “Now it’s just a matter of principle.”
“As much as I respect that,” Lucas began, voice perfectly normal after having caught his breath. “Wes wants us to get back to the others.”
“Did something happen?” Eric tried to keep his concern less obvious than it was, not that he succeeded, but they were all nice enough guys not to comment on it.
Lucas took this opportunity to move on, taking the conversation from chases to new interesting developments. “We think we might have misread the situation with the new rangers.”
“Come back with us and hear for yourself,” Lucas offered.
They waited for a few seconds before eventually Eric gave a sigh of defeat, which was as close to an admitted surrender as they were ever going to get from him.
“Great,” Adam said, in that calm tone of voice which made everything he said sound absolutely reasonable while still being cushioned with a gentle hand. Like he was right, but he wanted you to feel good about it. It was confusing, but he somehow made it work. Probably came from growing up with Rocky.
“So…where are we?” Leo asked with a bashful scratch to the back of his head, earning an amused look from Lucas and an irritated grunt from the Quantum Ranger up the stairs.
“Right by the east parking garage,” Eric muttered, clearly annoyed he had to put up with this nonsense. “Shouldn’t take too long to get back to the council room. Five, maybe ten minutes-”
“Wait, shhh,” Leo exclaimed suddenly, ears picking up the faintest sounds of…fighting? Where? Maybe he was just hearing things, too tired from the run to be thinking clearly-
“I hear it too,” Lucas muttered, holding still as his ears strained to pick up the sounds of distant battle; a familiar tune they had all forced themselves to become accustomed to, to pick up and react out of duty, out of need.
That was definitely the echo of minion feet. Lots and lots of minions.
And, by the sound of it, they had met some opposition.
Grumbling at being left out Eric made his way down the staircase, annoyed expression slowly coming into view. “What are you two talking about?”
“This way!” Leo didn’t bother waiting for the others, he knew they would be right behind him, and, with a few startled curses from Eric trailing at his heels, he burst through the door that led into the parking garage, morphing as he went. A few seconds and brightly colored flashes later the other rangers were morphed and standing beside him, taking in the swarm of minions and general types that had set upon a squad of Silver Guardians.
He nudged Lucas’ side and nodded at the frantic mob. “Let’s say you go left, I go right, and we meet up in the middle?”
“I say you start fighting Sparky,” Eric growled, shirking off his agitation and going into fight mode, throwing himself at the throng eagerly, Adam following behind him with that axe-thing of his.
“Good plan Q-bear,” Leo chirped, balancing the weight of his Quasar Saber between his palms. “Let’s do that.”
“You don’t want him to like you, do you?” Lucas asked, whipping out this gigantic canon weapon from nowhere and firing at the minions on the outskirts of the battle with restrained glee.
“Well, you know,” Leo shrugged, shooting fire at the few minions Lucas had missed. “Priorities.”
“I don’t think you’re using that word right,” Lucas muttered, and then he was in the battle too, abandoning his canon whose designer had to be overcompensating for something in preference of using his fists.
“You’re not using that word right,” Leo muttered, earning a groan from Eric over their inner-headsets, and Leo felt a grin spread across his face.
There now, that’s the spirit.
It was always better when you approached things with a positive attitude.
Hunter’s first action when all hell broke loose was to kick Kapri in the face. Mostly because…well, every battle should begin with a good face-kicking, and it wasn’t like he was going to throw off his usual system just because of some measly undercover work.
He had a method, okay? And that method included delivering unrestrained beat-downs to the hench-demons of the guy that killed his parents. He was pretty sure this was a reasonable desire.
Even if Kapri had the audacity to block, it wasn’t like he couldn’t give it another try. There were enough Kelzaks swarming around to keep the Silver Guardian team occupied, and Dellario seemed like he was having a ball dodging Choobo’s attacks and kicking him in the shins or…shin-like area. Whatever.
“Nice duds,” Kapri taunted, eyebrows lifting in an expression of amusement that clearly desired to be punched. “The utility belt is cute but don’t you think the kneepads are a little much?”
Hunter took another swipe at her face, only to growl in frustration as she dodged it, ducking under his fist and smacking him in the side while he was still following through with his hit. The resulting flare of pain was enough to make him choke on his breath, his ribs declaring they were not as up to snuff as he had been desperately trying to convince them to be. He hadn’t had enough time to heal, he knew it. Had been too busy running and fighting and sneaking to actually rest and let them mend themselves, and that hit…It hurt, damn did it hurt, but he forced himself to keep moving, to twist with the blow to lessen the impact as much as possible.
He sucked air in through his clenched jaws and tried to play it off, maneuvering his way through a few Kelzaks that had yet to find an opponent as he skidded out of reach.
“Says the girl with the pink hair,” he spat, hiding his gasps by grabbing onto one of the unoccupied henchmen and hurling it at Kapri, using the time she spent stumbling over it to take out the other two Kelzaks that were hovering nearby in that creepy crouched-pre-fight position they tended to merrily bounce in. It would have been more entertaining were they not annoying as hell.
Behind him he heard a slew of laser blasts, graciously delivered from Burke who had taken up position on the roof of the SUV, using the high ground to snipe the Kelzaks on the outskirts of the battle. From what he had seen earlier Hunter guessed that Henderson was still dealing with Marah, which left Jones and Miller to put up with the rest of the lesser hench-people. That was just a guess though, as Hunter had quickly become occupied with making sure Kapri didn’t cleave his un-morphed head off his shoulders. It was slightly more difficult than he would have liked it to be, but that was probably because he had to constantly suppress his ninja reflexes (his hard earned reflexes) to that of an average dude who knew martial arts compounded with his earlier injuries. It was frustrating. And slightly painful, but Hunter would never tell anyone else that.
Kapri’s nose scrunched in a look of mild vexation. “What’s wrong with my hair? I spent a lot of time making it gorgeously evil.”
“There is nothing evil about braided pigtails.” Hunter rolled his eyes and he aimed a kick at her knee. “With the exception of being offensive to other pigtails.”
“Ha,” Kapri snorted, hopping out of the way at the last second. “You know what pigtails are.”
“What, do I live in a cave?” the blond wondered aloud, offended by the attempted belittlement and not because he was called out on his hair knowledge. “And seriously, that’s the best comeback you’ve got? That’s it? I mean, I’m not surprised, but still-”
“Shut up.” Kapri took another swipe at him with her sword, expression peeved. “Marah talks less than you.”
“Okay, that can’t possibly be true,” Hunter muttered, the throbbing in his side increasing the temptation of sneaking in just a little bit of thunder, just a small jolt, when Kapri decided to unleash one of those energy blasts she seemed so fond of and sent him flying, landing on the ground in a graceless heap near the side of the SUV.
“And…that hurt.” This was said mostly to himself. Luckily he had been able to curl in his knees and forearms to minimize the jolting done to his sides but still, ow. He deliberated the advantages of spending the rest of the battle hiding out under the SUV (screw it, his ego could take a few more blows today, he didn’t care) but was unable to get a chance to enact his new plan because he was hauled up a second later. When Hunter managed to get his feet under himself he realized his aid had come from Jones, who was blinking at him with a look of combined confusion and disbelief.
“Are you talking to them?” the Silver Guardian asked, visibly trying to make this proposed action somehow understandable in his mind.
Hunter felt himself shrug. “You’re not?”
And then he was shoving Jones out of the way because Kapri was doing that sword-waving thing she seemed so fond of and Hunter didn’t particularly feel like getting blood on his uniform.
And, you know, Jones wasn’t that bad a guy.
“Hey!” Kapri turned, shouting at Jones’ back. “I happen to be a great conversationalist!”
“Could have fooled me,” Hunter said, and then completed the most epic maneuver of his entire ninja career, making all possible bruised/cracked/broken ribs totally worth the pain of earning them by opening one of the SUV doors and smashing it in her face just as she whipped back around to face him.
The sight of Kapri’s head snapping backwards and rebounding off the metal door would be one of Hunter’s most treasured memories for a very long time. Shane would probably hold that against him a little, but seriously, it had been perfect.
“Awesome shot Struthers!” Dellario cheered, running past with a manic grin on his face while Choobo huffed and puffed behind him, whining as he gave a pitiful chase. It looked like the Silver Guardian was preying on Choobo’s lack of stamina by running him around in endless circles.
Huh…Hunter would remember that for future usage.
“Focus Dellario!” Miller ordered tersely from the other side of the vehicle. “Has any one called this in yet?”
“Already taken care of sir,” Burke replied, carefully aiming and taking out a Kelzak that had been creeping up on Jones. “Nearest squad is two minutes away.”
“What, do you guys have this down to a science?” Hunter asked, partly out of curiosity and partly because he was a smartass and couldn’t help it. “You know the positions of all your guys?”
“Squad coordination is a very important part of our job,” Henderson chirped, briefly flitting past Hunter’s view before moving back out again. “By the time Ransik was taken care of we had it down to at least thirty second intervals.”
“And now look at us,” Miller grumbled, sounding stubbornly indignant despite being in the middle of a battle. “We’re rough guessing it with minutes. It’s a damn disgrace.”
“We could try sending another complaint to the Commanders sir,” Burke offered.
Dellario made another pass, completing his second lap with a smile. “Yeah, I’m sure Commander Myers would love to get another one of those.”
“Can we focus?” Jones asked, sounding a lot like he was wondering why he was the only one taking this seriously.
Henderson scoffed from…somewhere. “Another important part of our job is multitasking.”
“Yeah, well how about staying alive?!”
“That is but one of the tasks I’ve mastered completing everyday!” Dellario supplied brightly.
“You know…I’m beginning to see why they never let us go to those PR events,” Burke muttered, ending his period of continued stoicism to sound mildly…disappointed?
Burke. He just wanted to get his party
“Psh, obviously it’s because of Jones’ ugly mug!”
Jones managed to spare Dellario a moment to throw his squadmate a fierce glare before turning his frustration onto a few unfortunate Kelzaks. “Complain about me all you want; meanwhile every time a bloody elementary school tours the building you know that Church’s squad is going to get assigned to babysit them. And you want to know why? It’s because they’re charming. Char-ming. A feature it would seem we most certainly lack.”
Hunter swiveled his torso in time to get a view of Henderson sliding across the hood of the car, knocking feet-first into Marah, who had been attempting to sneak away. Probably would have been more successful if she didn’t insist on wearing that enormous bug helmet everywhere.
“Charming-smarming!” Henderson yelled. “You know they just stuck all the pretty boys in one squad so they wouldn’t scare the kids away!”
“It helps that they’re not psychotic,” Jones groused.
“By that you mean bo-ring!” Dellario cheered, now having slowed down to a mild jog as Choobo stumbled pitifully behind him.
“Does it matter?” Jones asked. “They’re still the ones that get to do the tours.”
“What’s so great about this tour business?” Hunter finally got a good shot at Kapri’s sword-wielding hand and took it, knocking the weapon aside with a vicious grin.
Great; now he could get to some serious face-kicking.
Or maybe he would just herd her over to Jones so he could do it. At the rate he was going that would probably be easier.
“At the end of the tour they give out cookies,” Henderson chirped, swiftly sidestepping a punch from Marah. “Fresh cookies.”
“They are basically the greatest thing you have ever eaten in your life,” Dellario added, shrinking the loop he had been making until he was essentially just jogging back and forth the length of the SUV. “But do we get them? No.”
“They only give them out at PR events,” Burke supplied, a quiet hint of melancholy lingering in his voice.
Awwww, poor Burke.
“So therefore, we never get them,” Jones concluded, voice tinged with regret and frustration; realistic enough to figure out there would be no cookie-filled future for them.
“Hold on a second.” Hunter combat rolled (what, he could do that; he needed to get out of the way) around Kapri and repositioned himself with his back to Burke’s vehicle. “If you guys never do PR events, how do you know what the cookies taste like?”
He was breathing harder than normal when he managed to right himself again, but he managed not to pathetically brace a hand against his side anyway, so that had to count for something.
Note to self, combat rolls are bad for injured ribs.
That wasn’t going to stop him from talking or fighting or anything…or even from ignoring that note in the future; it just felt like something he should acknowledge so that little voice in the back of his head that sounded suspiciously like Cam would stop being so goddamn hypercritical.
“They handed them out when they re-opened Bio Labs after Ransik’s defeat,” Miller explained, choosing to add his own piece once he realized that this conversation was going to carry on whether it was the smart thing to do or not.
Henderson bent back to allow one of Marah’s swipes to sail over him and recovered. “I think they wanted to use it as incentive for good behavior or something.”
“Wait, wasn’t that years ago?” Hunter asked, then came to the sudden epiphany that they were talking about baked goods during a fight. They. Civilians. Who didn’t have the comfort of morphers for security.
They were just… yammering away.
Hunter really liked these guys. He was willing to go so far as to say he would miss them.
“It’s been so long,” Burke muttered; to anyone else it would have sounded completely stoic but there was a hint of sorrow in there that made it practically wailing in Burke’s world.
“I know buddy,” Henderson consoled. “I’m sure one day we’ll get there.”
“Aaaaand, now I want cookies,” Hunter complained, to no one really. At most he expected a chorus of agreement.
What he didn’t expect was a voice, gruff and annoyed and demanding respect all at once, to dignify him with an answer.
“We’ll get you some later,” the voice groused, and the next moment a ranger- no, the ranger ran into view, inserting himself between Hunter and Kapri and picking up their fight without missing a beat. It was undeniably satisfying to watch Kapri finally get punched hard enough to be knocked off her stupid, air-headed feet, but the feeling of triumph was slowly replaced by one of dread because no no no no noooooo-
But yes. There he was, the Quantum Ranger, Eric Meyers, kicking ass and taking names and what was the first thing Hunter had said (not intentionally, but that didn’t matter because he had still said it) in his presence?
Oh yeah, he had complained about cookies. Cookies.
Hunter had to force himself into ten seconds of calm breathing the urge to start smashing his head against the SUV was so strong.
Just. His. Luck.
It wasn’t…well, it was stupid anyway, this (hero worship/fixation/idolizing) admiration he and Blake had for Eric. It wasn’t like there weren’t other rangers. It wasn’t even like there weren’t other public rangers. There was the Space team that had fought Astronoma, though that was back when the death of their parents was still a new and tender wound, aching and leaving them blind to focus on things that weren’t each other. And there was the Lightspeed Rescue team, but they and all their publicity was mostly focused on Mariner Bay. People knew who they were, but they weren’t as well known as some of the others.
But the media had been all over Wes and Eric, rangers and co-leaders of the Silver Guardians, and by then Blake and Hunter had been old enough to care. And it wasn’t that Wes wasn’t someone worth respecting - he was a goddamn Power Ranger - but with Eric…
He had fought to get to where he was. He had come from nothing, just like Blake and Hunter came from nothing and yes, yes the blond would admit they were as depressingly dumb as to form some sort of correlation based on that, as though that gave them a special bond or something, but Hunter liked to think that if Eric could make it, maybe he wasn’t too damaged to function in this world. It was something he held onto tighter after he had become a ranger. One of the stupid thoughts that kept him going when he was running low on will and rational thinking to get him through the day. If Eric could do it, he and Blake could do it. It was just that simple.
And then it had somehow twisted into this creepy fanboy thing where Blake would buy magazines that happened to mention the guy or Hunter would commandeer one of Cam’s computers to look up Ranger Gossip (for the internet was a magical place), but it was probably just their small way of sabotaging themselves on the off-hand chance they ever met the guy so they wouldn’t try to do anything as stupid as actually attempting to form a meaningful relationship. He and Blake wouldn’t deny it; they had issues.
All of which were coming back and making themselves very well-known to Hunter the moment other rangers entered into the fray. There was another flash of red in the distance but it wasn’t Collins; the uniform was different, but there- yeah, that was the Time Force blue, whose appearance was a lot more surprising than it should have been.
Not much was known about the other Time Force Rangers. According to the press they were actually from the future, but neither Bio Labs nor the remaining Time Force Rangers ever moved to confirm that story. It made sense. Sort of. At least with the whole “Time Force” business and the fact that they were never around, with the exception of this exact moment.
The last ranger was one of the original team, the Black Ranger, and it was fairly obvious that he was a guy that had not lost any of his skills over the years. If anything, he had honed them into something deadly beyond reason, mowing through the Kelzaks like they were nothing and taking care of Choobo with one blow from his axe, knocking the would-be general to the ground until he was stranded like a turtle, waving his arms in a miserable attempt to get up.
Based on past experience that probably wasn’t going to happen.
The tide of battle changed almost immediately. Before it had been a forced stalemate, with the Guardians fighting to meet the others in the middle. It wasn’t that they weren’t capable; they just weren’t equipped to deal with the dark ninja techniques Marah and Kapri kept throwing at them. The best they could have done was hold them off, so they had.
Not really the case now.
Eventually the four rangers managed to crowd the dim-twins and their tagalongs into a small cluster away from the Silver Guardians. Kapri was sneering at them, holding an arm in front of her sister protectively as they began a cautious retreat.
“It’s not over!” she yelled, as was required by the rule of stereotypical evil-doer goodbyes. “And my hair is evil!”
“Whatever helps you sleep at night!” Hunter taunted back, able to share a conspiratorial wink with Dellario now that the other rangers were doing all the heavy lifting. His ribs still ached and he (probably) shouldn’t be yelling, but like hell was he letting Kapri get the last say. And if the other Guardians noticed the tension in his shoulders or his slightly raised breathing, they didn’t comment on it.
Kapri looked like she was about to say something but Marah tugged at her side, expression pleading. “Kapri, let’s just get out of here.”
“Fine,” Kapri relented with a heavy sigh. She turned her eyes back towards Hunter, narrowing them. “You have a stupid face.”
“You’re named after pants,” he sneered back and got the satisfaction of her outraged expression for about half a second before she was gone, the whole lot of them teleported out back to their stupid spaceship to lick their wounds and brainstorm other ways to make Hunter’s life miserable.
He was startled out of his brooding when Henderson clapped a hand against his shoulder, smiling cheerfully as he nodded in the direction of the other rangers. “I think that went well.”
“Eh, could have gone worse.” Jones shrugged nonchalantly and made a show of working a crick out of his back.
Meanwhile Hunter fought off a wince and nodded, taking in the satisfied looks from all the other guardians. Even the corners of Burke’s lips were almost quirked up in happiness.
Continuing with the joy and camaraderie Henderson’s hand slid across Hunter’s shoulder and looped until it was around his neck in a friendly half-hug. “I’ve got to hand it to you kid, you did awesome out there.”
“Oooh, Burke, you missed it!” Dellario said, talking a mile a minute despite the fact Miller kept prodding him to check for wounds. “Druthers literally smashed one of the SUV doors into the pink one’s face.”
“The pants one,” Jones clarified, because he had found that impressive too, and Dellario smiled at him.
“It was probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen.”
“Let’s just hope it didn’t damage the car.”
And just like that the fun and games were over; the Guardians and Hunter snapped their heads to the front, focusing on the Quantum Ranger as he made his way over towards them. The other three rangers were conversing in the background, probably using their internal radios based on the bobbing helmets and lack of sound. Trying to see just what all that was about.
“Miller,” Meyers said, helmet dipping in a slight nod as he greeted the Squad Leader. “What happened here?”
“Not quite sure sir,” Miller replied, voice rough but certain. “We were just about to go out on patrol when they swarmed in out of nowhere.”
“They probably teleported,” the ranger offered and Miller nodded.
“That’s what I suspected. Anyway, Burke called it in and we did our best to hold em’ off. Agile little cretins,” Miller grumbled. “A lot faster than what we’re used to.”
“But at least they don’t hurt to punch,” Dellario said with a tiny smile, the formality of the debrief slipping as he added his two cents.
“If you can punch them,” Jones snarked.
“Did they ever mention why they were attacking?” Meyers asked, helmet still turned towards Miller, ignoring the other Guardian’s comments.
“No sir,” Miller replied with a regretful shake of the head. “All they did was fight.”
“Druthers was talking up a storm though,” Dellario informed his leader as though it were an interesting factoid, not very important but enough to make you sit back and feel like a slightly more educated and well-learned person. You know, pump up your self esteem.
Unfortunately, Myers was on a mission here, so Hunter wasn’t all that surprised when he found himself with a Quantum Ranger in his face, ready for an interrogation.
“What did they say?” he asked, not looming, but definitely expecting an answer.
Hunter shifted under the glare of the gleaming helmet, not used to being on the end of one outside of his team, and shrugged. “Nothing important, mostly just taunts.”
“Be specific,” Myers said, hint of warning edging in on his tone, not all out threatening, but like he wanted to. Like he’d had a very long day and was coming to the end of his patience.
Well wasn’t that just the most ideal way to meet your idol/hero/person-to-aspire-to?
Henderson tightened his hold in a comforting squeeze and Hunter used that, keeping his face straight as he stared down the vexed Quantum Ranger. “She didn’t like our uniforms, was upset by how benevolent her hair was, and kept trying to stab me with a sword.”
“Unsuccessfully,” Henderson added with a well-practiced smile, aiming to take the edge off their leader’s frustrations.
“That’s about the basic gist of it,” Hunter finished. And there, done. There was no further reason for Eric Myers to give him the second degree.
The Commander contemplated him for a second, and then the helmet gradually tilted to the side, like he was trying to get a better look at Hunter.
“Who are you?”
Before Hunter could say anything, Dellario cheerfully answered for him. “He’s our intern!” he chirped. “Mike Struthers. Has only been on the job for about half an hour.”
Aside from the helmet gracefully returning to its original position this earned no reaction from Eric, which left it open for one of the other rangers, the red one, to call over. “Bet you didn’t know you had interns Q-Bear!”
“Can it Sparky,” he snapped, low and forceful, without bothering to look behind him. Just over his shoulders Hunter could see the Blue Time Force Ranger shaking his head in what was probably exasperation. “Well Struthers, you did a good job.” He nodded slowly. “All of you did. I’ll talk to Maureen in catering to see about getting you guys some cookies.”
The moment of attempted professionalism was ended with cheers from the Silver Guardians, and even a real smile from Burke (it was a small one, but it was there) and Hunter had to fight off the ridiculously huge grin that kept threatening to break his collected exterior, he did good, Eric Meyers said he did good- and then a pair of arms were thrown about him, Dellario latching onto his side in an enthusiastic bear hug that was hardy enough to lift the blond’s feet completely off of the ground.
Unfortunately, that also required a good deal of squeezing to a part of his body that was already much-abused, making Hunter’s ribs decide that enough was finally enough and sent an immediate jolt of pain flaring up his right side, red hot and all-consuming; like it was nagging him for not-morphing and sneaking around in half-assed undercover missions. It hurt. It hurt as badly as it hurt when Toxipod and Choobo were screwing with his head; it hurt more than a bout of “sparring” with Cam; it hurt.
So it wasn’t surprising when this finally read on his face with a flinch he couldn’t hope to hide. Dellario sensed the shift and put him down immediately, brushing aside Hunter’s hands as he tried to indicate he was fine and gently probing at his ribs, frowning whenever he found that sweet spot of absolute pain.
Hunter would like to note that he did not whimper. He didn’t, but he couldn’t help reflexively sucking in a quick breath and wincing, jaw clenched as Dellario discovered the rib/ribs that were probably broken, or damn well intending to get there.
Great- this was- great. In fact, this was actually how he had wanted to meet Eric Meyers (horrible, horrible lie; he actually hadn’t wanted to meet Eric at all, he was weird like that), so this probably couldn’t get any better. People got injured, he knew that; in fact it was pretty laudable that the Guardians had managed as well as they had injury-wise, and Hunter shouldn’t feel anything more than apathetic, but he was also a member of the trio that managed to complicate the simple act of returning a weapon to new and innovative extremes, so suffice it to say, he felt incredibly shitty about it.
“Get him to Medical,” Meyers ordered, tone revealing nothing more than authority. “And all of you get checked out. I’ll call up Church’s squad and have them take over your patrol.”
“Dear lord it’s like Christmas,” Dellario murmured quietly, giving Hunter a reassuring smile as they began to usher themselves away, the Guardians reflexively falling into position around Hunter.
“Careful with those thoughts,” Jones added. “You’ll probably doom us all.”
It was like they didn’t learn.
Not that they suffered under the particular delusion that saying specific words or having a certain attitude in any way tempted the outcome of stressful circumstances to come out horribly, but there was coincidence and then there was utter misfortune; that latter seeming to follow around this squad of Silver Guardians like it was their own personal mascot.
The building shook, causing them to stumble and fight to keep their footing. Between Henderson and Jones, Hunter managed to keep on his feet, but it was a near thing. Behind them, above the cursing and the groans he could hear the shocked voices of the rangers, trying to figure out what was going on.
Hunter’s best guess, his brilliant guess, was simple. If the rangers were surprised then this sudden earthquake wasn’t a potential reason for their team up, which meant it had to be because of team Ninja Storm, because that was how life was turning out today, which meant that Marah and Kapri must have run home to their deranged Uncle and begged for some reinforcements.
Or maybe a lot of little ones, though to be honest, that wasn’t much better.
“Get in the building!” Meyers yelled, looking over his shoulder before whipping back around to face his hodge-podge team of rangers, motioning them towards the door that led to the outside.
Hunter wanted to follow; he needed to find a way to sneak off and ask Blake and Dustin what the hell was going on, but he was already being pulled away by the team of Silver Guardians, jogging into the shaking depths of Bio Labs in search of possible safety.
Hunter took a quick moment to evaluate his current mission’s progress.
He had A) Successfully gotten into the building
B) Unsuccessfully avoided detection
C) Got roped along for a patrol they never made it to
D) Earned himself some cookies
E) Met a bunch of crazy people
F) Aggravated the hell out of a recent injury
G) Met his idol
H) Got the best compliment in the world
I) Was dragged off like wounded wildebeest in front of said idol and other assorted idols
J) Instigated a possible large-monster attack in a city where he had no zord access.
And K) Learned absolutely nothing
He wanted that to be surprising, but it wasn’t.
A lesser man would be depressed.
But Hunter Bradley was a beast, so he decided to be resigned instead.
It would probably make life easier.