|All The Wrong Places
Author: N. E. Shaw PM
One last chance at love leads Andros across a country and across a Galaxy.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama - Chapters: 8 - Words: 18,522 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 5 - Published: 02-25-02 - id: 623999
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The star Karova shone down on the planet known as KO-35, baking its inhabitants like gingerbread men. It was the Karovan summer, and although this was indeed their homeworld, the people were not used to such extreme conditions.
One of them, who went by the name of Zhane, sought refuge in the home of his best friend. It was blessedly cool indoors. The large back windows were open to the breeze which made the thin drapes flutter like waterfalls. Around him, crates and other makeshift furniture took the place of many years of decorating done by Andros and Karone's parents.
Andros, Karone and Zhane were living here now, returning the property to order after the Karovan War and KO-35's subsequent abandonment. Just three years earlier this place had been a lush home nestled at the edge of a tall forest, filled with many fascinating curiosities to spawn memories in the people who lived there. But now it was a barren, stripped place, looted and defaced by the invading armies. The gardens tended so lovingly by Andros's father were just pale smudges of dirt among the weeds. The furnishings were burned or stolen, the skyport was completely destroyed, and the great tree Zhane remembered at the foot of the walkway was now just a ragged, termite-infested stump, blown to shreds by bombing long ago.
Yet the place was not completely without hope. No real structural damage was done to the house; all it needed was a few new windows, some cleaning, painting, and a new host of furniture, and it would be good as new. The gardens would take time to come back, but with care, they would; and most of all Andros and Karone loved to be home. So many memories had come back to her when she saw the mild country dwelling she had been so long parted from. Things were almost perfect...
Zhane took a long sip of ginger water and let the breeze cool the sweat on his body. He would return to the ruins of the skyport in a little while; right now he needed a break from the sweltering heat and back-breaking work he was doing.
But at that moment his ears caught a faint sound behind the wind. It was little more than a vibration, which soon became a hum, and finally a muffled roar. A skycraft was coming. He saw it rise over the treeline close to the house and flash in the sun, then slowly descend towards the property. It passed out of sight over the rooftop, and a minute later the engines fell silent as it set down on the front lawn. Curious, Zhane headed for the front door to see who the visitor was.
From the shade of the porch, Zhane watched as a lone man headed up the walkway. Next to the ruined skyport sat his ship--a sleek white skysled with the markings of the New Karovan Government. Zhane descended the steps to meet the newcomer, soon recognizing him as one of the men he worked with back when the Rebels were in hiding.
"Dag, long time no see," Zhane laughed, clasping the man's arm.
"Too long, Zhane," replied Dag with a grin. "How are things out here in the peaceful countryside?"
Zhane rolled his eyes. "Almost too quiet. If it weren't for all the work to be done, we'd be climbing the walls."
"Well, it's good you're keeping busy. It's probably best the Red Ranger and his sister stayed out of the public eye a while longer huh?"
Zhane nodded. "That's the truth. Karone still isn't used to living among friends. Once she's comfortable with us, she might be ready to face the people who aren't ready to forgive Astronema...but for now what we have here is what she needs."
Dag gave a nod. "Well all the best of luck to you. As to why I'm out here, we received something back at the Statehouse that gave us a bit of a start. It's for Andros."
He removed something white from his jacket. It was a paper envelope with writing on the front. Dag handed it to Zhane and waited to see his reaction.
Zhane gave it a double take in his surprise.
"Where did you get this?"
"It came in yesterday on a Triforian freight barge. They made a special stop at our spaceport to deliver it."
Zhane's mind raced a mile a minute. "I don't believe it. Of all the crazy things..."
"Thought you'd be pleased," grinned Dag in amusement. "Take care Zhane, I'll see you back in the city sometime."
"You got it man, thanks!"
Dag returned to his ship while Zhane tore back into the house.
"Karone! Come take a look at this!"
Karone emerged from one of the bedrooms wringing a rag in her hands. She was dressed in coveralls and speckled with white paint from her head to her toes.
"What's all the noise?" she asked.
"Look what arrived at the spaceport yesterday." He showed her the envelope, and the name written in the upper left corner.
"Oh my..." she clapped a hand over her mouth and snatched it. "Where is he?"
"In the back garden last I saw."
"I'll be right back ok? I've gotta take it to him!" With that, she flew out the back door, tearing the handkerchief off her head and letting her blond tresses fly in the wind of her speed. Through the bay windows Zhane watched her run, heading for the maze of wire fences that used to be the vegetable garden long ago.
"Andros! There's something here for you!" Karone cried, hopping the garden gate. At her call, her brother Andros looked up from his tilling to see what was the matter.
As much as he disliked heat, he had been determined to get the gardens back in shape as soon as possible. All that time spent outdoors had bronzed him quite thoroughly, and less and less could be seen of his dark hair streaks. Now he dusted off his hands and stood up as his sister reached him, clutching the paper envelope in her fingers.
"What is that?" he wanted to know.
"It came into the spaceport yesterday. It's a letter, Andros."
"A letter?" he repeated, taking it from her. He held it before him and read the name of the addresser. Then he read it again...and one more time.
He looked up at his sister in confusion, as if to ask any or all of the questions in his mind, but she only smiled, squeezed his arm and walked away, leaving him with his surprise.
Savagely, he tore open the envelope and began to walk towards the woods where the trees afforded a bit of shade. There were three sheets of paper folded together, and filled with neat, swirling handwriting. He almost couldn't read the first line for all the spinning in his mind.
April 20, '99
I'm praying this letter finds its way to you. If it does, thank the Triforian Commander who promised to deliver it the next time he swung by the Karova System. I don't know how long it will be from now until the time you read this, but I'm guessing it's been a while. Whatever the case, it was high time I wrote you.
Dear Andros, I'm praying this letter finds its way to you. If it does, thank the Triforian Commander who promised to deliver it the next time he swung by the Karova System. I don't know how long it will be from now until the time you read this, but I'm guessing it's been a while. Whatever the case, it was high time I wrote you.
Sitting down on a concrete block, Andros steadied himself to keep reading. His hands were trembling, his heart fluttering. This letter was from Ashley...
Well it's April here. As I'm writing this I'm sitting by the pool at home watching the moon set. Today was a scorcher, which is how it always is in springtime, you remember. I know how much you hate the heat so it's probably great to be so far away on KO-35 right now. What's the weather like there? I can't tell you how much I miss you. I'm thinking about you every day now. Every time I turn around something reminds me of you. I don't know if you've wondered, but I haven't found anyone new since we last heard from each other. To be honest, Earth guys are pretty uninteresting after spending a year with you.
But I'm not trying to embarrass you here so I'll get to the point. I've been madly in love with you since the first day we met--you know that. When you finally told me you felt the same, it was almost too good to be true, and the time we spent together is time I'll never forget. But also, sometimes, I couldn't help wondering if your feelings really were as deep as mine. I mean, I would never have said anything about it, but that's the way I felt. Maybe it's just my immature little insecurities talking, I don't know. Anyway, it ties in with the main reason I'm writing you.
As much as I loved us being together, your happiness is what I'm thinking about now. It's been so long, and I know how lonely I feel right now, so I can only wonder if maybe you've gone ahead and found someone new. If you have, I bet she's wonderful. I bet you love her with all your heart. So, I'm writing to tell you, I'm going to let you go. You will always be the strongest love I've ever had, but I couldn't ask you to wait for me when we'll probably never cross paths again. If you've found someone new, I want you to love her with everything you've got, and not worry about me. We're both better off living in the
present, not in the past.
As much as I loved us being together, your happiness is what I'm thinking about now. It's been so long, and I know how lonely I feel right now, so I can only wonder if maybe you've gone ahead and found someone new. If you have, I bet she's wonderful. I bet you love her with all your heart. So, I'm writing to tell you, I'm going to let you go. You will always be the strongest love I've ever had, but I couldn't ask you to wait for me when we'll probably never cross paths again. If you've found someone new, I want you to love her with everything you've got, and not worry about me. We're both better off living in the present, not in the past.
Andros had to take a breather from it all. He could see the tearstains on the page, imagine Ashley sitting on the deck of her beautiful home, crying under the moonlight...it broke his heart to imagine the pain she was in. And the worst part was that she was dead wrong. There was no new love in his life; he had hardly left his parents' home since he got here--back when the victory over Dark Specter was only days old.
And she was wrong about his feelings not running as deep as hers. Sure he had been slow to believe it, but he was just as much in love as she was. He had only needed time to realize what had changed in his heart since she came around. In the two years that he was alone on the Megaship, he had come to believe he would never love a girl like Ashley because her life was sheltered and innocent next to his. He needed someone who wouldn't need the trials of spacefaring life explained to her, and someone who understood deep personal pain. The bubbly, perpetually cheerful girl he had met on the bridge of his ship seemed neither of those things. But she surprised him in the end.
Now she had written him this letter.
She went on to fill him in on all the news since they were last in contact. That was, unfortunately, the sad day when she and Cassie, Carlos and TJ had passed on their Ranger Powers to the new team. It was three months after the foiled attack on Earth, and Andros, Karone and Zhane had been left with their people after sending the Red and Silver Powers away. These five new Rangers were a dynamic crew, and would carry on the morphing tradition well; but it also meant a loss for the retiring Earth Rangers. Because they would have to mesh back into their planet's society, they could no longer take advantage of high-tech equipment like their communicators. Contact with each other would be reduced to the regular channels, and contact with Andros, Zhane and Karone would be completely cut off.
In the letter, Ashley reported having seen all three of her friends off to different parts of the country. Cassie's band was traveling, trying to spread their name around; TJ was at college in the Southeast on a baseball scholarship, and Carlos was in Europe of all places, playing soccer. Even their friend Justin was gone. The young teen had graduated highschool early (no surprise) and gone on to a prestigious university. Ashley was left alone in Angel Grove waiting for her life to return to normal.
She was telling him a sob-story, Andros knew, but he didn't care. He was lonely too, trying to help his sister build herself a new life. In the meantime, he had to watch her relationship with Zhane grow and blossom. He could always find something to be jealous of Zhane about.
But this letter was unexpected. He had thought Ashley long gone from his life, and he had tried to forget her but now came this sign--this light from above--that he still had a chance for love. There was gardening to be done, but he couldn't pass this opportunity by.