A bright colored sign read "North Star Children's Center" above the group of five on top of a simple white building away from the deep city. Reactions were mixed among the crowd, ranging from Tyler's energy to Chase's fear.
"What could be so bad?" Riley said to Chase in a baby voice.
"He's right, though," Shelby added, poking his arm.
"Come on guys," Tyler said as he opened the door. "Trust me, it won't be that bad."
Inside was the complete contrary (to Chase, at least). At the peak of one o' clock, which Chase had believed to be nap time, kids scrambled from end to end with crayons and paper and tears. Wails could be heard loudly from a distance as chaos crept in slowly for some innocent kids. Kids who didn't have to understand what was going on in the world just yet.
Tyler glanced behind him. Their expressions were now all the same. "See. I told you it won't be that bad."
"Tyler!" The five were broken out of their thoughts of what was to come with a short, grinning woman who immediately grappled Tyler into a hug. "I didn't know you were coming down today."
"I've kinda been assigned to," he replied. "But I brought helpers. Guys, this is Miss Jolie, the head caretaker of all these children."
"You take care of all of them?" Chase asked with awe.
"Mmm-hmm," she answered. "Every single one of them, just like a mother should. Now may I ask who these lovely faces are?" Shelby, Chase, Riley, and Koda were all mentioned simultaneously in quiet timid voices. Jolie got back to them with a warm smile. "Well then, we've got about twenty minutes until nap time. We need to get everyone's snack ready, calm them down, get them to set their cots up, and clean up around here. Do everything to take care of these children and to keep them safe and well. Now I'll need three of you to help me get these monsters ready for nap. Tyler, you and your blue and green friend can do that. And Miss Shelby and Chase, I believe, can help out in the nursery."
As Riley and Shelby sniggered, Chase's face color had paled in a blast. "You mean with all the babies? Sorry Miss, but I'm not very graceful on my feet."
"Well this is the perfect time to learn, sir, especially if you're planning to be a father. Now get to work!"
"Tyler!" one of the young boys called running up to the red ranger. He had just escaped Riley's grasp. "That mean man is being mean to me."
"He won't sit down, for god's sake," Riley defended as Tyler snorted. "And he threw a pair of scissors at me!"
Scissors seemed irrelevant to child's play. "Don't worry," Tyler assured patting him on the head. "Greenie's a good man." As Tyler left the kid and the fencer in a bull stare, the younger boy blew a raspberry at him before darting to the other side of the room.
"Don't do that!" Koda shouted to one of the girls. A young female with long blonde pigtails was currently pouncing and nailing a wailing boy. Koda might've been impressed. Where he came from, women weren't naturally considered the strongest. But he remembered that Miss Jolie asked to keep the kids safe, and he wasn't doing very well by acting as a bystander. Therefore, upon instinct, he scooped the two kids in his big arms and separated the two with brute strength. He was keeping them at arms distance as Tyler came over.
"Nice," the red ranger complimented.
The nursery was a separate part of the center, only a room away from what sounded like a rampage of children. Chase didn't think that babies would be quieter than them, but he also didn't think he could hold one for very long.
"So why did we have to do all this again?" Chase asked quietly.
Shelby gently set down a baby in one of the cribs. "Maybe for bonding exercises and community service, black ranger," she said in a light attempt to mimic Kiera's voice, making him smile in the limelight. "Come on. Kiera's probably got a reason for everything."
"She said herself that she was confused most of the time!"
"Shh!" she hissed. Too late, too late, too late, Chase's brain repeated as a slow, but gradual wailing sound escaped from his arms. He sighed at the truth of how terrible he was with children and how he failed something else. The weight was suddenly taken out from his arms and he knew it was Shelby deciding that she did better with the babies. "Let me. Mr. Chase isn't very approachable, now is he?"
Her last phrase was said in a communicative baby voice, which seemed to work and make Chase chuckle all at the same time. He curiously glanced over his shoulder as the room softened and gained interest in Shelby and her soothing. Seeing her seemed to tilt his lips upward right before the door burst open.
"Dude..." Riley muttered as he and his disheveled hair met him at the nursery's threshold.
Chase snickered. "What could go wrong?"
Riley answered with a groan before Chase saw him stumble onto the ground and grit his teeth before turning back into the center. "Don't even!"
The black ranger smiled cheekily. "Isn't it convenient that our morphers aren't buzzing right now?"
"I want the monsters."
Jason furrowed his brows as Kiera typed away gracefully on her computer. The mentors were at opposite ends mentally, Jason failing to bring up an engaging conversation just as Kiera buried herself farther into her research.
"What do you think they're all up to?" Jason asked her.
Without even the slightest tilt of her head, she replied, "Don't know. They've only been to one place and I'm sure they're annoyed with me already. I mean, I asked Tyler to help me persuade them towards voluntary service, too.
He blinked. "So where did you send them to anyway?"
"A children's center!" Riley said as he collapsed onto a rocking chair swaying on the sunny porch. After all that was said and done, Miss Jolie had to let her lovely helpers enjoy some piece in the back center. So the five of them were now relaxing and sipping lemonade and pretending that life was normal. Riley sighed deeply. "Of all places, you decide on a children's center."
"I thought it was fun," Tyler countered.
"You think everything's fun..." Chase replied, pressing a finger to his temple. His red ranger just smiled and took a big gulp out of his glass.
"I liked it," Shelby said. "I think it would've been fun to have a younger sibling."
"Oh yeah? Why?"
She shrugged. "It would've been nice having a responsibility. Maybe someone you had to watch over, someone who would look up to you, someone...who'd care." She noticed how her team fell into a pondering silence. "Do you guys ever think that...like do you guys think that someone's world might be disturbed if you disappeared? Like someone would actually notice and be upset if you were gone?"
Chase turned his head to the side and away from everyone else. "All the time," he whispered.
"Is it bad that I smile at that?" she added, a smile flashing briefly onto her face before disappearing all together. "I'd like to know what it'd be like if someone cared..."
After a moment, Chase looked back up. "My parents care a little too much. I never had enough space."
Shelby blinked. "My parents don't care at all. I have too much space."
"And I am right in the middle," Riley spoke up. "I don't need my dad caring for me, but the other part of me does. I'm stuck here, no father coming after me and sometimes being thankful for it."
"You know what I know?" Tyler suddenly shot up out of his seat inquisitively and gestured to the four before him. "The five of us are more alike than we think."
And there they were again, five kids drinking lemonade wishing that life was normal. And okay.
Down in the city, a new playground was being welcome, unveiled, and opened at once. The cheers and smiles that went around in a circle were the same ones that made monsters cringe and fuel themselves to be so strong that they could defy the strongest.
"Destroy it all! Don't hesitate." The newest monster, Smasher, boomed. With distant power to rappel everyone into the real world, he quickly broke down a building and left the heart of town to be surrounded by smoke and ashes. As he wished, the citizens jumped in fear and began running to their idea of safety. He knew that back at the headquarters, his team was just filling up with power.
"I'll be surprised if you still want to live in this town by evening."
Chase, Riley, and Shelby had retreated back to their own locations, with Koda going back to Kiera's house for some more work to figure out where he came from. So after helping out a bit more in the children's center, Tyler became a lone red ranger. He walked outside of the outskirts with a curious smile on his face and down into the city. He wondered why it was so quiet just before he saw a column of smoke erupt in the air far away from him.
Suddenly, the local speaker, strung high on one of the wooden posts next to him, came on as a deep voice began speaking to the town. "This is the mayor speaking. I just want to reassure everyone in North Point of the newly enforced safety procedures. It seems we have a monster attacking downtown, who hit just as the ribbon for our new playground was cut..."
Tyler faded everything out after the word of the monster. He quickly tore the revolver out from his jacket and sprinted down to downtown.
"We know this target is where most of our population is located right now. So we want to remind everyone just what they must do for the duration of the monster's presence..."
Shelby stood with the current round of Tourism employees and customers in the back. The restaurant held silent with worried fear as the mayor's voice was the only thing that could be heard and felt. She was squished between two other coworkers, who would protest her every breath of her urge to break out of the cafe.
"Wherever you are, make sure you jump inside the nearest building for safety. Proceed to your building's designated safety area..."
"Shelby, where are you going?" her coworker shouted. Shelby had squeezed herself through the crowd and towards the back door. It was deserted and naturally out of sight and she thought this would be an easy way to go be a power ranger.
She turned back around nonchalantly. "I saw some people outside, Gabriel. I'm gonna go reel them in."
"Alright," he replied and turned back around to make sure everyone was okay. He heard the door creak open and shut behind him. He turned back around to check on Shelby, trying to reassure himself that she'd be back in two seconds.
But when he glanced outside, there were no people. Not even Shelby.
Around Chase, people quietly but frantically ran around trying to find a nearby building. His date Jenna clutched onto his arm, intimidated to be caught in the middle of such a fight and the booming voice over head.
"...whether it's the basement or back of the building. Get there as quickly as possible..."
"Jenna, go now." Chase commanded, grabbing her by her shoulders and nodding to the nearest building to them. "I'll find you after."
"Wait, where are you going?"
"I've got to get to some people. But I promise I'll be back."
Before she could reply, he dashed off and left her in the hands of the city.
"People of North Point, this has become a serious affair which will most likely continue to haunt us, break us, pain us until they are defeated. We cannot have a repeat of last time. So please, do as I say and get to safety..."
Koda turned to Kiera. "What happened last time?"
Kiera took a pause before ushering him out with his morpher quickly. "Go Koda. Go now!"
Riley stealthily maneuvered his way past the guards of his apartment building and swiftly made his way down to the city center.
"Our main priority is all of you," the mayor said. "We need to make sure everyone in this town remains safe and out of harms way. Power Rangers, wherever you all are, we're counting on you."
"Here!" Tyler said, arming himself with his morpher. He was lucky to have no commoners gaping at him using a yellow gun while disobeying the mayor. The army of foot soldiers had appeared again. They did their part to shield their boss for the day, who stood in spiked glory watching him and looked around for something to take down.
"Don't you want to fight?" the red ranger called to get his attention. He took out the little battery in his pocket and slid it into his morpher. He pulled the trigger and the red spandex he had come to love enclosed him, full of power. "Dino Saber!"
As Tyler tore his way through the crowd, Smasher called over a soldier, a Vivik, to his aid. "Lead him over. I'll retrieve Aigaron and send out Fury to finish my job."
Tyler seemed to follow the path of the leader, shifting away from the city and the playground and more to the places concealed. He was eventually made his way down to the head of it all, who seemed all the more calm and ready to leave.
"Ironic?" he said, meeting his arm with his sword. "The Smasher gets smashed." As he pushed the monster away, he switched out his sword for the regular gun to finish off the job. But as he took his shot, a border saved the life of a monster and threw his slash to the side. Before the smoke stood a new monster.
"Well that's not very nice," he muttered. "I thought you rangers were all about morality."
"It was an accident," Tyler said and got into a stance. "And who are you?"
"You may call me Aigaron. But you've made me and our army very angry. Therefore, you have lost your privilege to live!" And the new soldier charged.