"So that was it," I finished, standing by the window in the doctor's consulting room. "That was the whole adventure, from beginning to end." I stepped across the room and sat down in the chair facing her. "I told everyone that the Rangers wanted to keep an eye on me for a few days after what happened at the museum, so I hung out in a guestroom in their base and watched TV for three days." I paused. "I think I lied because I wanted to keep their secrets safe, but I guess I also just wanted the adventure to be mine and nobody else's. Does that make any sense?"
"More than you think," the doctor replied. "But there's one thing I'm not clear on," and she flicked back through her notes. "What happened after the big battle on the desert planet? Did the Rangers teleport you back to Earth?"
I shook my head. "Once the zords all disassembled," I began, "most of the Rangers teleported away. I guess they were in a hurry to get home. But the Pink Ranger reminded me of something I'd said to her, so she and a couple of the Rangers flew me back in the Phoenix. It took a lot longer, but I'm glad they did."
I was dozing in one of the seats inside the cabin of the Phoenix when the Pink Ranger's voice reached me.
"We're home," she called, and I opened my eyes and gazed around the zord. "We've reached Earth."
Climbing out of my seat, I turned to the viewscreen. There it was, the planet Earth, hanging suspended in the vacuum of space before me, with the long starry arc of the Milky Way behind it. Mesmerised, I made my way over to the window. Setting the zord's autopilot, the Pink Ranger stepped out of the cockpit, and I was soon joined by the Grey, Red and Pink Rangers, standing there staring at the planet below.
I pointed to the Earth. "So is that...?" I began.
"The Middle East," the Red Ranger said, then pointed away to the horizon. "All of that is Russia. If you look closely through those clouds, you can just make out the Caspian Sea."
"Is it what you thought it would be?" the Pink Ranger asked softly.
"It's just so small," I said, my voice barely above a whisper. "I mean, that's politics and countries and religions and everything, and I can't believe it's so small." I felt my eyes filling with tears. I was crying, and I didn't understand why. Unable to take my gaze away from the planet, I wiped my eyes.
"After all these years," the Grey Ranger whispered beside me, "I never get tired of that view. I don't think I ever will."
"Me either," said the Pink Ranger.
"I know I have to get home and see my family," I said. "But can we stay here a little bit? Just for a little while longer? Even with everything I've seen and done these last four days, for the rest of my life, I'm never gonna see anything like this ever again, am I?"
"Sure," the Pink Ranger said, and rested a hand on my shoulder. "Take as much time as you need. We're not going anywhere."
"You know, Tim?" the Red Ranger began, as we continued watching the world. "In another lifetime, you would've made a damn good Power Ranger."
I replied without looking. "Yeah?"
"Yeah," he said.
And there we stayed, watching the Earth turn.
"We appreciate all your help," said Tommy, shaking the hand of Chronopolis's Lord Chancellor on the front steps of the council building, with the Black and Purple Rangers standing beside him. "But you kept valuable information from us."
"Yeah," said Zac. "You cost us time and put a lot of people's lives in danger, including your own."
The Lord Chancellor lowered his eyes, unable to meet the gazes of the three Rangers. "I apologise Rangers," he said. "I'm very sorry."
"But why didn't you just tell us in the first place that Chronopolis was actually responsible for the virus?" Sarah asked.
"It should've been easy to tell you of the guilt and shame we've felt for a hundred years over the creation of the virus," the Lord Chancellor admitted. "It's just, the Power Rangers of Earth are so powerful and so well-renowned, I assumed you'd simply punish us. I felt I had no choice but to lie to you, in order to protect my people. I'm sorry for that."
Zac's face fell, while Tommy frowned behind his visor. It was a few minutes before any of the Rangers could reply.
"Well, that's, well," Tommy stuttered. "It all worked out in the end anyway. So there's that, at least."
"But you owe us," Zac said sternly. "The original scientist who created the virus? Dr Francesca Lorenzo? She was a hero who did the right thing. You need to clear her name and write your history the way it actually happened."
"Yeah," added Sarah. "If you gloss over your mistakes, you're doomed to keep making them."
"Those are fair requests," the Lord Chancellor said. "You have my word, they will be done." The Rangers nodded, satisfied, but as they turned to leave, he stepped towards them. "Just one more thing Rangers, before you go."
"Yes?" Tommy said.
"Out of sheer curiosity, I have to know," the man began. "How did you do it? How did you beat the virus?"
"We did what we said we'd do," Tommy replied. "We got the virus safely out of the host, and then we destroyed it."
The Lord Chancellor's brow fell. "That's all?" he asked. "But, no, you couldn't have been able to do that. That's not possible."
"We know," Sarah said. "That's what everybody else said. We didn't listen to them either. See you around chancellor." Although they were still unsettled by what the Lord Chancellor had said, the three Rangers stepped back, reached for their wrists, and shot up into the sky.
"I'd only meant to stay in orbit for a few minutes or so," I continued. "But I think I ended up being there for a good couple of hours, just watching the world turn. I couldn't take my eyes off it. I felt like I might miss something."
"And after that, you returned to Earth?"
"The Rangers must've sent word to their boss Zordon," I replied. "Or else they'd gotten a message to Eros. But we touched down on the lawn outside the museum, and my parents and Sal were there waiting. I don't remember a lot of what happened next, but I remember sprinting across the grass and wrapping my arms around them. I don't know how long we were there for, but I made sure I did what Hera asked, and told my mother how much I missed her. But then I did the same with Dad and Sally. Then there was this flash of light, and when I turned around, the Rangers were gone. After everything they'd done for me, all the deals they'd made and the battles they'd fought, I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye. They just disappeared. I wish I'd had the chance to thank them for everything they did. I really wanted to."
"For whatever it's worth, I'm sure they understand," the doctor replied.
"It's just," I continued, "how do I go on now? How do I go back to normal? After everything I saw and did, how do I come down from that?"
The doctor didn't reply for a few minutes. When she did, it felt like she was choosing her words carefully. "You don't have to go back to the way you were," she said. "It's been my experience that life changes us every day. Sometimes for the worse, but a lot of the time, for the better. When I've had to come back to my life after something extraordinary, the only thing I can do, the only thing any of us can ever do, is be brave and go on living. You did the best you could with today, and tomorrow will be here soon enough. There's no shame in that. Just between the two of us, I think you're gonna be okay." I nodded, and she glanced down to her notes. "So after all that, I suppose you believe in the impossible now?"
I smiled. "I have to," I said. "But I don't think that's the point, is it? I think, after everything, I believe in me. Does that count?"
The doctor laughed. "You bet it does," she said, and brushed a thin strand of hair behind her ear. "And you're not worried about anything happening afterwards?"
"No, at least, not according to the Rangers," I replied. "And if you can't trust them, who can you trust? The robots were all destroyed, and apparently they can't tell the difference between ordinary people with no energy signals anyway. Once the virus left my system, I'm back to being invisible. The Insectoid never really saw me, and the Rangers said the Insectoid's swarms were all linked with some kind of hivemind. All they had to do was hack one of the downed ships and they'll keep no record of me. As for the zombies, well, they never saw me either. And the only one who did was turned to dust by the Orange Ranger."
"Well that's good," the doctor replied. She hesitated for a minute longer and then met my gaze. "I guess there's really only one question left to ask," she continued. I watched as she slid her notes into the yellow folder on her desk. Standing up, she stepped around to face me and leaned back against the bench-top. "For three days, you had the most incredible adventure," she began. "You were in the inner circle of the Power Rangers. That's somewhere not many people get to be. So my question is, what did it leave you with?"
"That's a good question," I said softly. I didn't reply for a long time. "You know, when people see the Power Rangers on TV, or read about them, or talk to their friends about them, they see this team of invincible heroes. Powerful, smart and brave. And I know that's all true, because I watched that happen right in front of me. But I don't think that's who they are to me."
The doctor smiled. "Who are they to you?" she asked.
"Just a bunch of kids," I said. "Kids my age who one day found themselves in the middle of something so much bigger and scarier than themselves. But they stuck by each other and did their best. They may be warriors and heroes, but to me? I'll always think of them as my friends." I paused. "And I don't think I can give them a higher compliment than that."
I was about to reply when I looked over to the clock. Seeing the time, my face fell. "Holy crap, we've been here this long?" I asked. "I totally lost track of time. My parents are gonna kill me."
"I'm sure they'll understand."
I stood up, about to turn for the door when I realised something. "I'm sorry, doctor," I began. "I never did get your name. I never thought to ask," and I held out my hand.
The doctor in the yellow blouse smiled as she shook my hand. "Kwan," she said. "Doctor Trini Kwan. Pleased to make your acquaintance."
"You too Doctor Kwan," I said. "Thanks for listening. I think I really needed to get all that off my chest. What should I do if I need another appointment?"
"I'll leave a note for your regular GP," Dr Kwan replied, and walked me over to the door.
"So the prognosis?" I asked.
"You're human," she said. "Unfortunately it's terminal. But between the two of us? I think you'll be fine."
I laughed. "Thanks doc," I said. With a final smile, I stepped outside, leaving Dr Kwan alone. Locking the door, Trini stepped back around the desk. Just then, the door to the medical supplies cupboard swung open, and she looked up to see Jason, Peter and Scott step into the room.
"How'd he go?" Jason asked.
"He's clean," Trini replied, reaching for the two scanners hidden on the desk behind books and photo frames. "Neither of them picked up the tiniest hint of anything out of the ordinary," and Trini switched the devices off. "To the rest of the world, he's an unremarkable teenage boy."
"And he'll be safe," Jason nodded.
"Still," Trini said. "Let's set up a monitoring program in the Command Centre to keep an eye on the emergency services bands in this particular region, to respond to very specific words or phrases."
"That's probably not a bad idea," Peter said. "Just in case."
"As for the rest of it," Trini continued, and she turned to Jason. "He'll keep our secrets. He's a good kid."
"Told you," Jason smiled.
Peter glanced to the framed photos on the desk of Doctor Randall and her family. "So where did we send the local doctor for the day?" he asked.
"Doctor Randall and her family were the lucky recipients of a free all-day pass to a local health spa a short distance along the coast," Trini replied. "I assume they're spending the day playing golf, getting massages and eating lobster, that sort of thing."
"From all accounts, Doctor Randall is a tireless local GP," Scott said. "Her family will probably be glad for the holiday."
"And in the wash-up?" Trini asked.
"Alpha says half the galaxy is talking about what happened on Nerimos," Scott said. "For the last week, the big story's been how Earth's Power Rangers fought a war to destroy the Skethani virus for good."
"Hopefully everyone was paying attention," Peter added. "We might just have a quiet few months for a change."
"And according to Zordon, Zeus and Hera have banned the twelve of us from stepping foot on Mount Olympus ever again," Jason continued. "Apparently half the city was destroyed in the battle against General Skull."
Scott frowned. "And you just know we'll get the blame for that," he said.
"Worth it though," Trini said.
Jason gazed out the window to where I was crossing the street with my parents, heading for a nearby bakery. "Definitely," he agreed.
"Still, we couldn't have managed without their help," Peter said. "Should we send the Olympians a fruit basket or a box of chocolates or something? Maybe a nice quiche?"
Scott and Jason laughed as they raised their wrists. "I'll see you back home," Trini said. "I need to sign out at the front desk. Our temporary local doctor routine worked well, but it means I have to leave by the front," and she stepped outside.
"Meanwhile," Jason grinned, turning to his best friend beside him, "someone else saw your face."
Peter sighed. "I'll, uh, I'll work on it," he said.
"Sure you will," Scott teased.
"At least Dale doesn't know!" Peter said hopefully. "I don't think."
Jason laughed, and the three of them reached for their communicators and vanished from the scene in three bright flashes of light.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, PeterSmithWrite a Review