I Call Shenanigans
“What the hell just happened?” Wes asked aloud (which he had debated on, because none of them knew what had happened but still, it needed to be said, just on the off-hand chance someone had brainstormed something in the past few seconds).
What he got in response was a harried yet distinctly frustrated look from Eric that told him to go do some not-so-nice things in a very not-so-nice place while he attempted to calm the Q-Rex down. The zord was just as agitated as its ranger, impatiently shifting its weight from left foot/claw-thing to right foot/claw-thing, antsy for a fight and getting mad because they wouldn’t let it go looking for one.
That was all Wes was going to get from those two (and even that had been more generous than he had expected it to be), so the blond turned his attention to Justin, the younger man having arrived on the scene with reinforcements just a few minutes after Wes and Eric. The Turbo ranger was frowning down at an ipad-like thingy, tapping it impatiently and wholly fixated on…whatever he was doing, so yeah- he wasn’t going to give Wes the time of day anytime soon.
“Anyone?” Wes asked again, turning his attention towards the other three rangers who had fought with them. He focused mainly on Carter, because he knew him. And maybe (totally, completely, shut up it was reasonable) because the other two were part of Earth’s first team of rangers and might just…intimidate him. A bit.
Especially after he had seen them fight. Good lord he did not ever want to cross those two.
“From what I understand, the Q-Rex detected trouble and went to take care of it,” Carter reported, calm and commanding despite the undeniably hectic circumstances. His eyes focused over to where Eric was calming the zord, arms spread wide and palms rubbing against the side of that giant foot/claw-thing. “Has this sort of thing happened before?”
“No,” Wes replied, frowning as the robot anxiously stamped his other foot, making a low crooning sound that could quite possibly be the zord whining at Eric because it had to go looking for a fight, that it needed it, and Wes wasn’t sure if he should be disturbed or find the entire display adorable.
Wes shook his head. Focus Collins. “After it let Eric take control it only came out if he called it. This is the first time it has initiated combat on its own.”
“Do you think they attacked it?”
Wes tensed but didn’t (thankfully) jump at the new voice, having been so focused on not being disturbed by the other two rangers he almost forgot they were there. He turned to face the Asian man in black. He had taken to studying the Q-Rex intensely, though somehow without effort. Thorough without the exertion. Yeah…only kind’ve creepy.
“Maybe that’s what drew it out,” the unknown ranger’s teammate said (there hadn’t really been time for names, just “Black look behind you!” and “Duck you moron!” (the last one being Eric)), dressed in red as he draped himself across the first man’s shoulders, thoughtful look on his face. Of the two, Wes would say he was the least intimidating but then again, that could be just because of the whole red-thing. This red ranger hadn’t been on the mission to take out Serpentera but his suit looked almost exactly like Jason’s. Wes would have to get a better view of him morphed and not fighting for his life before he could be really sure of it though.
“But why?” the Time Force ranger wondered, pulling off his stupid Silver Guardians beret and running a hand through his sweaty hair, feeling just as irritated as the Q-Rex. “Why was the Q-Rex a target? Does it have something to do with the Quantum defender and why-”
“They’re from Lothor.”
By the look on the Asian man’s face, he was just as surprised by his comment as the other three were, blinking and giving Wes a subtle nod in apology before his teammate continued, eagerly picking up on that train of thought and looking at the Asian man excitedly.
“That’s right, Lothor’s the newest baddie right?”
“Bad guy,” the black ranger corrected, habitually though without force, like he knew it was a losing battle.
“Yeah, yeah,” the Hispanic man nodded, eyes looking off in the distance. “Well, if those were his goons, then where’s the Ninja Storm team?” He looked back and forth between Wes and Carter. “That’s what the media’s calling them right? Because of the water and the ninja swords.” His eyes went back to the distance but this time there was a dreamy tinge to them. He sagged against the first man a little more, sighing. “Man, I wish we had swords.”
“You had the Blade Blaster and the Power Sword,” the Asian man said, furrowing his eyebrows.
The red ranger scoffed, “I meant ninja swords.”
“You’re on the Ninjetti team-”
The red-clad man narrowed his eyes and stared at the side of the Asian man’s face, overdramatized perplexity written across his features. “You are ruining my envy.”
Only the barest upward pull of the black ranger’s lips gave away his amusement, studying his teammate out of the corner of his eyes with an almost-poker face. “It is fundamentally misplaced.”
The moment of quiet fondness passing between the two rangers felt entirely too personal for Wes to be watching. He wanted to turn away and give them some privacy, feeling like a clumsy intruder, but the Hispanic man broke off the staring contest as quickly as it started, giving the other two red rangers a jovial grin as normality (or you know, Power Ranger-normality) settled back over them.
“Rocky DeSantos,” he introduced himself cheerfully, rubbing his cheek against the side of the other man’s face. “Red Ninjetti Ranger, at your service.”
“Adam Park,” the black ranger said next, giving a small, tentative wave while Rocky continued to make a nuisance of himself, collapsing the majority of his weight across Adam’s body. “Black Ninjetti Ranger.”
“Dibbs,” Rocky said almost immediately afterward, hugging Adam’s neck tighter. The black ranger’s tiny, amused smile got slightly less tiny and more amused, sneaking a hand up to grab onto Rocky’s, the other man keeping his eyes locked on the other two rangers. “Let the record show I have dibbs.”
Wes and Carter shared a confused look. At least, Wes was confused. Carter just looked patient.
“Uh…” Wes began, looking back at Rocky. “Darn?”
Rocky nodded sagely. “Your disappointment is most appropriate.” The look of wisdom and pity turned into a devilish smirk and Rocky’s eyes looked over to where Eric was standing. “Though we all know you have dibbs on something else.”
“Rocky,” Adam admonished just as Wes decided that going into a fit of choking at that exact moment would be awesome. He bent over and rested his hands on his knees, trying to cover up how badly he was blushing.
Holy crap that was not fair. How had he noticed that? Eric hadn’t even noticed that and they’d been fighting together for years. Rocky had only been there for what, ten minutes?
The Red Ninjetti Ranger smiled cheekily once he noticed Wes’ expression of wonder. “I know things,” he declared proudly.
“Is it anything useful?”
And speak of the devil, there was Eric himself, Q-Rex as pacified as it would ever be, stalking forward and gifting Wes with a short look of concern before he switched back into being unimpressed by Rocky. The Quantum ranger folded his arms across his chest, moving to stand so that part of his shoulder was in front of the blond Silver Guardian, though whether it was because he was feeling legitimately protective or because he wanted to establish dominance between the two of them, Wes wasn’t exactly sure. The fourteen year old girl inside of him was making a substantial case for the former option, but Wes liked to be realistic.
When it became obvious Rocky wasn’t going to rise to Eric’s bait, the Quantum ranger huffed and turned his attention towards Carter who was, to all appearances, the only ranger he liked there. “Is there any reason we’re standing around doing nothing?”
Rocky answered before Carter could, doing a little goading of his own while nodding in Justin’s direction. “Tech wizard’s doing tech wizardy things.”
“Just give him some time,” Adam said quietly, giving Rocky’s hand a squeeze, maybe as a way of telling him to…back off? Take it easy? Play nice? Now that one seemed the most likely. Wes had a well-practiced “be-nice” arm clasp he used on Eric just about every day. Every day.
The black ranger continued, “He’s probably about to-”
As if on cue, Justin threw down his ipad-thing, stomping away from it a few paces before tugging at his hair angrily. He snapped around to face the other rangers, eyes intense and narrowed. “They were here. They were here and if we had been just a few seconds faster I could have come up with a better algorithm-”
Rocky’s disposition turned from playful to serious in an instant, pulling away from Adam so he could focus on the livid Turbo ranger. “Did Lothor’s guys take them?”
Justin shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t know anything! I can’t-”
Adam, the brave one, moved towards the younger ranger, ignoring Wes’ look of warning before placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. “You need to calm down and regroup. You’ll figure it out if you step back a minute-”
“How can I?!” Justin shouted, shrugging the black ranger’s hand off. “They’re in trouble Adam. If the signal blockers are actually with those goons then the whole-”
“Only three of them are gone,” Adam softly interrupted, not standing down. “That means three of their teammates are still out there and they probably have a better handle on the situation anyway. You need to stand down Justin. Take a break and think of a new approach.” Adam turned his eyes to the gradually setting sun, the orange and pink hues a quiet indicator that night was soon approaching. “There’s nothing else we can do tonight. Not out here.”
There were a few tense seconds where it looked like Justin was seriously thinking of arguing, but the teen ultimately deflated, bending down to scoop up his abandoned ipad with a sigh.
Wes tried to hide his own exhale of relief (he had seen what frustrated geniuses were capable of and he didn’t want to go there), pulling his beret back on to give his hands something to do. “So for uh…housing,” he began, appropriately getting all of their attention. “I have plenty of room I mean, for everyone. Since you’re doing us a favor.”
“Once a ranger, always a ranger,” Adam answered, still focused on Justin. He reached his arm out and this time touch was accepted, Justin leaning slightly into the contact before pulling away and walking towards Storm Blaster. Who was a sentient jeep, by the way. A sentient, battle jeep that took as much joy out of riling up Eric as its ranger did.
Wes should…probably be more concerned about that. The whole “Let’s poke at Eric” thing. He should think of a way to dissuade that. Something more subtle than issuing out face-punching threats to all the other rangers.
Though there was something kind of exciting about the prospect of threatening people to play nice with his Eri- His teammate.
Right. Top. Tippity-top. The toppest of-
Outside of the rant going on inside of Wes’ head, Rocky stepped forward, smile reacquainting itself with his face. “What he means is we rangers stick together; it’s no trouble.”
And what was he…?
Oh, right. The whole “always a ranger” thing.
Wes shrugged sheepishly, trying to hide his rather blatant space-out. “Yeah uh…well, anyway, we can go back there and make a new plan of attack,” he explained, rubbing his hands together. “I have plenty of room.”
He didn’t want to make them get hotels or anything, and there was no way they were staying at Eric’s (Wes was almost certain he would murder them all, except for Carter. And probably Adam. Eric didn’t seem too aggravated by Adam, not that he even knew his name).
They all looked at him, expressions ranging from blank to confused.
What was the-?
Eric rolled his eyes. “He lives in a mansion,” the Quantum Ranger explained and that immediately got a woop from Rocky.
The Red Ninjetti Ranger pumped his fist in the air, jogging
his way over towards Justin and Storm Blaster to share the good news. “Woo-hoo, mansion party!”
The other rangers followed more sedately, Adam and Carter riding with Storm Blaster while Wes and Eric prepped to morph again, planning to ride the TF Eagle back to Silver Hills.
Carter raised his eyebrows, sending Adam a question look. “‘Woo-hoo’?”
Adam shrugged, unapologetic, the barest fond smile on his face.
“We’re working on it,” he explained.
They all tried and failed to hide their smiles when both Eric and Justin lectured Rocky on how now was not the time for parties, the two of them sharing a sour look before turning it on the rest of them which was, frankly, all the push Wes needed before he burst into laughter, Rocky joining him enthusiastically while Carter and Adam were more reserved, though partaking in the entertainment at least.
Eric wouldn’t talk to him the whole flight back to Silver Hills. He kept himself occupied by grumbling how he was nothing like “that kid”, and how they were all children and how he should lock them all inside a room and fix whatever this situation was with Carter, because at least Carter could “Act like a god damn adult.”
Despite the fact he was oh-so obviously not talking to Wes, the blond ranger helpfully informed Eric of Rocky and Adam’s names. To which the Quantum Ranger had replied, “If I cared about their stupid names I would have asked about their stupid names.”
Wes was pleased to say that, when the grumbling started up a few minutes later, Adam made it onto the not-locked-in-a-room list.
He viewed this as progress.
First word they got in the morning was that Cam hadn’t been able to finish back-tracking the source of the hacker’s attempts, which was something that none of them were happy about but whatever, they would deal. Hunter was glad to hear that at least the attempted breaches had stopped late last night, but the bad news was (for Cam’s work ethic and ocd-ness and need to be right and Dustin’s putting-up-with-Cam-ability) that Cam was still blocked out of…okay, to be honest most of the conversation had flown right over Hunter’s head, but the end result was that they still knew dick about whoever was trying to track them down.
On the bright side, his ribs felt a lot better after an evening of rest, so that had to count for something.
Their marching orders right now were the same as before. Track down Eric’s house, return the Quantum Defender, get home and try not to break too many more laws. The last bit was added in by Tori but everyone had decided it was a pretty solid idea, even if Dustin had his wounded-puppy, bottom lip jutting out thing plastered on his face when they voted.
By virtue of appearing the least intimidating and not being Dustin, Blake got saddled with sneaking the gun back in. He relieved Dustin of his backpack and glared at Hunter on principal (though there wasn’t one because he was the least intimidating; it wasn’t Hunter’s fault he had tall and brooding mastered while Blake got stuck with adorable and charming; blame genetics) before making his way across the street, using a few quick ninja bounds before he disappeared around the backside of Eric’s house.
Dustin and Hunter were on monitor duty, keeping an eye on the situation from the roof of a neighbor’s house, Eric’s abode firmly in their field of vision.
“Get in, get out, no problems,” Hunter chanted, keeping an eye out for murderous dino zords and taking a tally of all nearby trees that could possibly be weaponized.
Maybe if he thought the worst was going to happen with every fiber of his being things would turn out to be fine.
…yeah, and right after that Lothor would give up world-conquering to pursue a career of professional badminton.
He didn’t share this thought with Dustin. They didn’t need anymore Lothor-themed crayon drawings gracing the front of the refrigerator.
Hunter had enough problems, thanks.
Blake couldn’t remember the exact words Dustin had used to describe Eric’s house. It was probably something along the lines of “medium-messy” because Dustin was a big fan of medium everything, but if that was the case the house Dustin had seen and the house Blake had entered might as well have been in alternate dimensions. Blake did away with the idea that Eric hadn’t noticed the gun was missing. One did not tear apart their house (there were floorboards missing, floorboards, and a toppled over couch and a few ripped up pillows and-) for kicks and giggles.
He had scanned the house before coming in; no heat signatures, no morpher signatures, no nothing, so hedecided to take the slightly-less questionable route and picked the back door’s lock, therefore making it slightly less criminal than Dustin’s entrance. At least he could fake it and say he had a spare key, or something. All Dustin could say was that he was a jungle boy who used windows as his main form of building entrance or that he was just a rabid fan (that one was more likely) who would stop at nothing to get to his idol (whose weapon he didn’t even know had a name-).
Whatever, Blake needed to move on. Hunter would be pissed if he wasted time moping when he was supposed to be planting the Quantum defender (they couldn’t track down Eric to explain things, and Shane had urged that they didn’t really have the time, not if Marah and Kapri were going to follow them to Silver Hills).
He moved around the house quietly, trying to find just the right…
Blake tensed and held still, listening and there…a cracking noise, sort of like a…was it from a window?
The thunder ranger slunk into the shadows, moving into a place where he was calm in both body and mind to prepare for some major stealth-ing. Someone else was trying to get into this house.
Someone who had to crawl in through a window.
He held back and waited, keeping all senses alert.
Eric Meyers had another intruder. Blake doubted they came bearing gifts.
So Leo had this thing where he found making Eric Meyers angry just the epitome of anything that could be considered fun times.
It wasn’t his fault, not really. Kai complained that the impulse to poke at things that wore glaringly obvious “DO NOT POKE AT” signs was imbedded in Leo’s genetic make up. Which…yeah, that had some merit; see his relationship with Kai for reference. And maybe it was because Leo was a natural rebel and maybe it was because it was fun to throw things at Eric’s gruff and prickly disposition and watch them explode and maybe it was because, when he had described each of the other red ranger’s to Kai, the blue ranger had decided Eric was his favorite- but whatever, the point was, Eric didn’t like Leo. And in his defense he had honestly (and he could just envision Kai raising a dubious eyebrow at him but it was FOR REAL this time) not done much to deserve this. Aside from being cheerful and enthusiastic and, well, Leo. But, as it turned out, Eric didn’t like happiness and sunshine or his brain didn’t know how to handle it or whatever so he didn’t like Leo and Leo, and this was totally reasonable, didn’t like being disliked for such a stupid reason.
It would be at this point that Kai would make some remark about needing recognition from his peers because of some issues in his early child development but Kai was one of the biggest hypocrites ever and he wasn’t here so Leo was going to go ahead and say this was completely justified. He had even asked Andros. Though he wasn’t sure if what he was talking about and what the Red Space Ranger had been talking about were the same thing. But there was approval damnit.
A small voice in the back of his head lectured him on taking advantage of miscommunications for personal gain. It sounded suspiciously like Kai. Well- LA LA LA, NOT LISTENING-
Okay, that was good. Back to the task at hand.
The rest of his team had headed over to Bio Labs to meet up with the other rangers. Leo had begged off joining them to “Take care of some business”, but by the looks on Kai and Kendrix’s faces they really weren’t buying it. Which really- just unfair. And hurtful. Leo was taking care of some business; it just didn’t technically have any relevance to the mission at hand. It wasn’t his fault they didn’t ask to clarify, or tell him to get with the program (and he would have come running in a heartbeat if Kai had just whistled, he was sort of pathetically enamored to that guy; would gladly take to groveling if that guaranteed him some Kai-lovin’). But their silence had given him consent. Done deal.
So that was how he, Leo Corbett, just the coolest of the Mirinoi/Lost Galaxy Team, came to be breaking into Eric Meyer’s house, fully intent on pulling a prank. He and Damon had been testing out various pranking strategies on the other rangers (and by that he meant they had been testing them on Kendrix and Mike because one did not mess with Kai and pranking Maya would instigate an all-out-rebellion from the rest of their team). Ultimately (after Mike had threatened to strangle him with his own belt), Leo had decided that the best prank would be an original tried and true one, the old dump-bucket-of-unpleasant-mixture-on-unsuspecting-victim gag. Leo even had a tiny spy camera he had conned out of Kendrix (payment for a halting of all prank assaults) so that the magic could be captured for the enjoyment of all.
He would totally send a copy to Taylor. Cole had mentioned something about her and Eric bumping heads whenever the Time Force and Wild Force teams had fought together.
Leo had climbed in through a…living room window? This might have involved partially breaking it and Leo would have felt worse about that if he wasn’t so engrossed in wondering who the hell had gotten to Eric’s place first because, man, the house was a war zone. He was almost certain there was nothing worse he could do than whoever had done whatever had happened…
Oh wait. Eric had lost his weapon (“stolen”, right. Sure Eric, we all believe you) so this was probably just the fallout from the Quantum Ranger looking for it.
Leo brightened back up. In that case, pranking was still a go. He would have called it off out of pity but this ranger had no sympathies for messes brought upon ones self.
The red ranger had the distinct feeling Kai would have found that particular thought hilarious. Though Leo had no idea why. Surely it had nothing to do with him.
Leo rechanted his inner la-la-la-not-listening song and picked his way across the living room, trying to avoid stepping on any breakable, overturned things as he hoisted his prank bag higher on his shoulder. Stairs, stairs, where were the- ah, by the kitchen. On the off-hand chance Eric actually had company, Leo had decided to put his prank somewhere that would reduce the odds of any innocent bystanders getting caught in the cross fire. Or at least, minimize it to just the Quantum Ranger or Wes getting gooped (if those two ever got their act together, though they probably wouldn’t because Eric was stupid like that). So, Eric’s bedroom.
He found the room easily enough; it was the one that had been hit the worst, thoroughly cleaning-frenzied and the door (and this was too perfect) was even slightly ajar, presenting Leo with optimum bucket-oh-goo placement without the chance of raising Eric’s suspicions. That slightly-open door was nothing to be wary about because he had left it slightly open. No mystery there. Nothing needed to be looked into there.
Leo couldn’t have set it up any better if he had tried.
He placed his bag onto the floor (after he cleared off a spot) and got started, judging the best place to set his bucket as he pulled it out of the bag and began filling it. What to dump on top of a person was a very tricky thing. You didn’t want to pour on anything that was too easy to wash off. You wanted something that would stay with them, maybe something that was sticky, but not so sticky that it wouldn’t pour out of the bucket. It needed to be quick, before Eric could react, so it couldn’t be too viscous.
In the end, he had decided on a syrup/soda/skim-milk sort of mixture that was sure to ruin Eric’s clothes just as surely as it would ruin his disposition. Then Leo would actually deserve the other ranger’s distaste.
It couldn’t be a more satisfying outcome.
Oooh how he would break this video out for special occasions, definitely all the birthday’s, that would be great, and all the Mirinoi holidays. He couldn’t think of a more festive way of celebrating than a fully grown man who would probably be cursing every being in existence. Brought a tear to Leo’s eye really. It was so magical. So sentimental.
Kai would think it was stupid, but he would secretly enjoy it because it made Leo so happy, and then he’d do that tiny-smile thing that was totally his way of expressing absolute joy and Leo would go to mush inside, mush. He wasn’t even ashamed to admit it; he was a happy mush-Leo.
The red ranger studied the door carefully, taking a mental picture of just how open it was before he sidestepped through, moving to position the tiny spy camera in optimum prank-capturing capacity. He almost started whistling to himself as he set the bucket in its dumping position, but nixed the impulse for reasons of stealth. He could celebrate later; right now he had to keep his eye on the prize.
Leo was all packed up and back down the stairs in no time, stopping for a moment to decide the benefits of using the front door as opposed to the back when that slow feeling of unease settled into his stomach, the sensation of being spied upon having been trained into him long ago, and Leo knew he was not alone.
He kept his posture relaxed, rubbing his chin for extra emphasis of how weighty his decision was all while trying to figure out where his silent lurker was. If it had been Eric, the Quantum Ranger would have tried punching him by now. If it had been Wes, he would have been making disapproving speeches all over the place. It could quite possibly be Kai trying to get the drop on him, but his boyfriend would be more concerned with the missing rangers and stolen weapons than he would be with joining Leo in his game.
For some reason or other, probably because Kai’s paranoia had rubbed off on him, Leo couldn’t help but be struck with the feeling that this was a trap. Whoever had taken the rangers, maybe they were still looking for more. And, if they were, what could be more tempting, more appetizing than a ranger all by himself, separated from his team?
Alright, so maybe Leo deserved a little of Eric’s hate. You know, for being so stupid.
Leo didn’t hesitate after that, just ran on instincts, hurling his bag of supplies in the direction the would-be spy could possibly be as he summoned his Quasar Saber. He would apologize to Eric later for the damages, but he had every intention of summoning up a real fire storm right here and now; show them that just because he was alone didn’t make him an easy target. He’d make them regret going after him.
He got as far as charging up the energy to unleash the fire when he registered the startled yelp. He stopped the attack immediately, fire dying on his fingertips as he took in the young man who had just barely thrown himself out of the way of Leo’s bag. Once he collapsed onto the only semi-dirty kitchen floor, Leo got a better look at the kid. It was a teenager, fifteen, maybe sixteen (Leo couldn’t tell, but he was little) and distinctly Asian, or Filipino or something. Maybe one of Eric’s relatives or something. Did he have relatives? If he did, this was definitely a nephew or a younger cousin or-
Ugh- Leo shuddered at the thought of more Eric-spawn. What if this was his kid (no, Eric would have probably mentioned that, would have had to knock up a chick at like, 12 to make the age work out and augh this was an unpleasant train of thought-). Leo turned his head to get a better look. The kid continued to stare at him wide-eyed, bordering on alarmed.
“Hey uh-” Leo frowned, then followed the kid’s line of sight to his Quasar saber, still out and posed to do damage. “Oh no,” he said, rushing to explain, releasing his sword and letting it return to his morpher. “Sorry, thought you were a bad guy.”
The kid, while intimidated, still managed to give Leo a properly dubious look.
Yep, definitely related to Eric.
Leo scratched the back of his head. “Yeah uh, I’m a power ranger, you know like your-” he gestured around to the house to leave the Eric-thing implied. “So anyway,” Leo started again, maybe a little too loud. The kid jumped and yeah- too loud. “I was just, doing Power Ranger-like things so…I’m going to go now.”
And, with this declaration, he motioned towards the back door and began leisurely strolling that way, only pausing to pick up his part-time-weapon of a tool bag. Since the whole stealth thing was blown anyway he allowed himself to start whistling a jaunty tune, trying to calculate in his head how long it would take to get to Bio Labs on his Jet Jammer. Probably what, five minutes? Maybe ten, if he got lost.
He would say his eta was ten minutes then, just to be on the safe side.
It never hurt to plan for complications.
After that Leo refused to waste any more time thinking about the Eric-spawn. Sure, he was one to invite trouble, but even that was beyond his pay grade.
Some things were just meant to be left alone.