Disclaimer: For the final time (in this story, anyway), I don't own the characters. They belong to Saban.
Epilogue: Once a Ranger
Four months later…
Troy climbed out of Gwen Goodall's car to the sounds of construction and heavy machinery. The city had been under construction from the Armada's initial invasion, and the carnage dealt after the final battle compounded the cleanup. The six Megaforce Rangers had been helping, and several past Rangers had taken time off to give the citizens of Harwood a hand. Carter and Dana had put in a lot of overtime. Gia's mom and Jake's father were both fine, having found a group of people who'd found a good hiding spot to wait out the battle. Noah's parents as well were both okay. The teens had confessed to their parents that they were the Power Rangers, and aside from Emma's mom and Troy's parents, they were mostly in denial.
It was probably better that way, Troy thought. Most of the population had no clue the six of them where the Power Rangers who had stopped the Armada, and he wanted to keep it that way. He did not want his own chapter in a history book like his parents had.
"Bye, Mom!" Emma called through the passenger window.
"Have fun, you guys. Be careful! I'll be back in a couple of hours!" Gwen replied as she pulled away from the curb.
Emma waited until her mother rounded the corner before turning to Troy and rolling her eyes. "She's a lot more protective now than she was before she knew I was a ranger," she sighed.
"She'll adjust," Troy said. "My parents did. Did Jake and Gia say where they were meeting us?"
Emma shook her head. "Let's just wander 'til we find them," she suggested. She pulled her camera out. "There's so much happening down here. I can't wait to get it all on film."
The future was shaping up to be an interesting one. Emma had an internship under Madison Rocca waiting for her in Briarwood after graduation, a few hours down the coast. Troy would be completing high school and then joining her in Briarwood. He was planning on taking his general education credits there, and then when Emma's internship finished, they were moving back to Harwood so Troy could complete his degree in education. Getting tutelage from all the past (and future) Rangers had inspired him to teach others himself.
Emma yanked Troy's arm and crossed the street to the front of the mall where Jake and Gia were waiting. Jake was waiting on his background check to go through to work at a Conner McKnight Soccer Camp the summer after graduation, and his future after that depended on Gia. Gia, on the track she was on, was scheduled to be graduating early in the fall and then she was headed to the community college, where she was undecided on a major. Emma was trying to push her toward graphic design, mainly because she'd designed the matching tattoos she and Jake had gotten and because Emma wanted someone to go into business with later on.
"Hey, you two," Troy greeted Jake and Gia. "Noah here yet?"
"I texted him; he said he was on his way," Jake said. "Hope he gets here soon," he added.
"It's Saturday," Emma reminded him. "He's got that thing on the weekends, remember?"
"Oh yeah," Gia said. "The robotics thing."
Noah was set to graduate with honors and a scholarship to Harwood Community College, where he would be assisting in the science department with a newly-formed robotics class. He'd already enlisted Tensou as his teaching assistant. Although still single, with some gentle pushing from Jake, he was stepping into the dating pool and there were a few prospects.
"They've been trying to get all the rules and stuff for that competition thing they want to enter," Troy said. "Noah said he thought he had it almost all figured out."
"We'll have to go watch," Emma said.
A flash of silver caught Troy's eye. "Hey, there's Orion!" He waved and his brother crossed the street, ducked around a few orange pylons, and met them on the curb.
Orion had joined the group in school and was finishing out the year with them. He enjoyed Earth history and math and science came easy from his time working in the mines on Andresia. When his Andresian last name had been too complicated to explain (and pronounce), Ryan and Kelsey had given him the Mitchell last name, officially putting Orion in the Grayson and Mitchell family. He lived with the Graysons in Harwood. In a few months when graduation happened, Orion's first plan was to go to Europe and see the world. He'd picked up a copy of a book by Dominic Hargan and was using it to outline his plans. Ryan and Kelsey were planning on joining him.
"Hey," Orion greeted them. "Let's go, I'm gonna be late for my shift!" He led the four other rangers into the mall and into the newly-reopened Ernie's Brain Freeze. Inside, the Rangers picked their favorite booth and sat down as Orion jumped behind the counter to clock in. After he'd grabbed his apron and his baseball cap, he handed the laminated menu to his brother. "Seriously?" Troy raised an eyebrow.
"I know for a fact you've got money," Orion shrugged. "You just got your allowance." With a wave, he drifted over to another table. Troy balled up a napkin and tossed it at him, nearly pegging Noah on his way in, his laptop bag bouncing on his hip. He slid in next to Troy.
"Sorry I'm late. Tensou and I were-"
"Working on the logistics," the others said together. It was becoming his favorite saying.
Noah turned red and ducked his head. 'Yeah," he said, and swiftly changed the subject. "Hey, have you guys seen the news?"
Troy looked at the others and shook his head. Noah pulled his laptop out and pulled up the Harwood paper.
Orion had popped by their table. "T-Rex footprints spotted near Sampson Caves," he read over Noah's shoulder. He raised an eyebrow. "That's up in Amber Beach. You don't think-"
"We're retired!" Jake objected quickly.
"Yeah, but Jake, someday, the day might come when they might need our help," Troy responded. "And we'll have to go. Just like my mom and dad and everybody came to help us when we needed it. We're part of the legacy," he said, looking at Emma, who grinned knowingly. Gia squeezed her arm.
"Once a Ranger, always a Ranger," Noah said thoughtfully. There was silence around the table as those words sunk in.
Then, Troy broke the silence. "All right, enough talk, more fro-yo!" He snapped his fingers at his brother. "Orion, if you would, please?" he ordered in a snooty-sounding accent.
Orion whacked him with his baseball cap and the others broke out in teasing laughter. Troy shook his head.
These were his friends. His teammates. His family.
And not for the last time in his life, Troy Burrows Grayson was very happy his parents had moved to Harwood County.
Author's Note: This is gonna be semi-long.
First and foremost, THANK YOU SO MUCH to everybody who has read/reviewed/lurked/favorited/alert-ed. I appreciate each and every one of you (And I'll thank you forever if this hits 500 reviews, but no pressure to review, seriously.) Thanks to everybody who has let me bounce ideas off them, or given me things to think about and incorporate as I wrote this. That's legit half the fun of writing for me is interacting with other writers and people with far more creative ideas than I have. I know there's probably a lot I didn't get in here, but in the end I'm pretty happy with how it all turned out. I hope you guys enjoyed the ride. This sucker was two years and a little over three months in the making. Thanks for sticking with me during writer's block and all those times where I didn't wanna write (or have time to write) for fun because I was writing for school :)
A lot of inspiration for this came from the stray thought one day that, "Hey, Troy looks like he could be Carter Grayson's kid from Lightspeed." I think it was the hair. And the seriousness. Anyway, that snowballed into this epic. I don't know how many times I've rewatched Lightspeed Rescue, Megaforce and Super Megaforce, or caught clips on Neo Saban Power Rangers' Youtube page to try to flesh this story out. I'm sure I've driven up the hit count on their videos a LOT. Also, the Power Rangers Wikia has been super helpful when it comes to all those past rangers :)
UP NEXT, if anybody is curious or cares, I have another little headcanon series called the "Brothers in Arms" Universe, and I think I'm going to be headed back that direction. Ed the Plot Bunny has been driving around in his little bunny BMW and humming the Mission Impossible theme so, I think I'll go oblige him.
But seriously, again. Thanks for reading, reviewing, favoriting, lurking, alert-ing.