A/N: I actually wrote this years ago for forlorn-kumquat's birthday, but never got around to publishing it because it didn't feel finished - a lot of my own headcanons and backstories pop up. But I dusted it off recently, and figured eh, why not.
Disclaimer: I do not own Power Rangers, or any part of the Stargate franchise.
That said, please, read and enjoy!
It was supposed to be a standard recon mission. Explore P3X-477, investigate the signs of human settlement, make nice with the locals, come home. Simple. Easy.
As SG-1 had learned the hard way, there was no such thing.
Soldiers dragged them to some kind of control room, with several people milling about, poring over maps and computers. In the centre, three young men in jumpsuits and a girl in the same stood around a table, discussing some kind of strategy.
Behind them, a man in his late twenties was being restrained by a metal collar attached to two rods held by other solder, his wrists shackled in front of him.
The kids in the jumpsuits – and they were kids, not older than nineteen or twenty – looked up in panic as they were pulled away from their work.
"What the Hell?!"
"You lied to us!" the Commander snarled, "There are more Earthlings crawling in our base!"
"Oh no –" the girl gasped, turning to the restrained man, "Dr. Oliver –"
"We didn't lie!" the boy in blue snapped, trying to break free, "You don't know they're form Earth –"
"Ethan –" the boy in red interrupted.
"For all you know, they could be from KO-35 –"
"Ethan, shut up –"
"- or Mirinoi –"
"Ethan, they have MP-5's," the restrained man ground out. "They're from Earth."
"Is that a problem?" Daniel asked unsurely.
Ethan's eyes widened. "Oh, shit."
The man gave an aborted cry and collapsed to his knees, sweat beading on his brow as he hunched over in pain.
"Stop," the teen in red begged, "Please, stop. You don't have to do this, I swear, we didn't know! We have no idea who they are, please just stop – leave him alone!"
SG-1's eyes widened as they realized the man was being tortured because of them. "Look, I'm sure this is all just a big misunderstand –" Jack started, and then stopped short at the weapons pointed in his face. "Or not."
"Take one of them as insurance."
The teens' eyes widened and they started struggling again. "No, wait –"
"Fine, we take responsibility for them!" the teen in white cried out, "Take me, leave them alone!"
"No one's taking anyone," Jack snapped, "Teal'c –"
"Shut up," Ethan hissed, and Jack's eyes widened.
"Look, we don't mean any harm," Daniel cut in, "We're just peaceful explorers."
"You come bearing lethal weapons," another soldier sneered.
"We're trained to defend ourselves," Sam protested.
"For the love of God, shut up," the teen in red hissed, "Hey, Nazor, eyes on me. I'm ranking officer here – leave the civilians alone, and we can figure this out. The next raid is going to his in less than fifteen minutes –"
"I've heard enough," the Commander snapped. "Take him as insurance –" he pointed to Daniel, "-and get the rest of them in holding. The four of you –"
"We're not –"
"You can't do this!"
The Commander slammed the butt of his weapon against the teen's face, snarling, "Get back to work."
"Stop, you can't –"
"Hey, wait a minute –"
Daniel screamed in pain as the collar snapped shut around his neck.
Daniel lurched awake, gasping sharply. "Guh – What –" His hand clapped around the metal ring on his neck.
"Don't try to pull it off," a voice warned.
The speaker was the man who had been restrained earlier. He sat cross-legged on the floor of the cell opposite him and looked up, lips tilting into a faint smile. "They'll turn up the bands if you do."
Daniel frowned. "Bands?"
The man gestured at his collar. "The colored bands. They feel warm to the touch – the more there are, the more pain you'll be in."
Daniel felt along his collar, but found no difference in temperature. "I don't feel anything."
"That's because yours isn't active right now. No bands."
The other man had at least four bands that Daniel could see. "But you –"
"There are five on mine right now, if you're wondering," the man continued calmly, "It's gone up to seven before, which is really not fun."
Daniel shook his head. "I can imagine. How much did they shock me with?"
"Half of one band, I think," the man replied, "That's enough to knock out a human civilian, if I remember right."
Daniel's eyes widened. "But if you have five ridges –"
"I'm actively being tortured? Yeah, they don't like me very much."
"My God," Daniel breathed, "I'm sorry, our presence here only added to your pain."
"Don't worry about it, I've had worse."
"I –" Daniel shook his head. "You remind me of one of my teammates, Teal'c. I'm Daniel, by the way, Daniel Jackson."
"Tommy Oliver," the other prisoner replied, "I wish we could have met under better circumstances."
Daniel smiled slightly. "Likewise. I'm sorry, I must be straining you."
"Mmm. I –"
Tommy jerked, a cry tearing from his throat. He gripped the cell bars, his knuckles turning white as he struggled to control himself.
"Wait, what's happening – why –" Daniel bucked, clutching his collar. Pain flooded through him and he screamed, writhing on the floor.
The guards watched in silence until both prisoners collapsed, unconscious.
"Leave him alone, dammit!" Jack yelled, turning away from the monitor showing Daniel's prone form. "We told you, we don't know anything!"
"You lied," a female guard said simply, pushing open the cell door, "And until you stop lying, your friend will continue to suffer."
"We're not lying!" Sam and Jack snapped.
"Don't bother," a tired voice replied, and the teens started filing in. The girl in yellow led Trent in, helping him walk as he wrapped an arm about his ribs gingerly. Conner and Ethan followed behind, glaring at the guard. Exhaustion lined their grimy faces, and they didn't seem to register Jack, Sam, or Teal'c anymore.
"Power down, guys," Conner said, and the jumpsuits disappeared. All three boys were wearing jeans and T-shirts – Conner in a loose red soccer jersey, Ethan in a navy T-shirt that read 'REEFSIDE TECH' across the front, and Trent in a white T-shirt with black flames licking in from the hems – and the girl wore a yellow tunic with a wide belt and leggings.
They were teenagers. Kids. Exhausted, battered kids.
"Bedtime, sweet table," Ethan muttered as he fell back against the table, shifting and wriggling until he was completely sprawled across it, facedown.
"Wouldn't one of the beds be better?" Sam asked.
Conner snorted. "Too late, he's fast asleep. You guys been interrogated yet? With the –" Conner gestured vaguely at the monitor, "- screaming?"
"Yeah," Jack replied tightly.
Conner nodded absently, keeping an eye on his teammates. "They did that to us the first week, too – Trent, get a blanket."
Trent grumbled and pulled a blanket from one of the beds, wrapping it around himself and the girl.
Jack frowned. "The first week? How long have you kids been down here?"
"Two and a half, three weeks? Dr. O would know. Who are you people, anyway?"
"I'm Colonel Jack O'Neill, this is Captain Samantha Carter, Teal'c, and our friend downstairs is Dr. Daniel Jackson. We're… explorers."
Conner scoffed. "Explorers with MP-5s, Sig Sauers, and O-6 and O-3 lever officers. Right. Whatever, I'm Conner McKnight, the dork on the table is Ethan James, Trent Mercer –"
"Dude. Sleep." Conner ordered, rolling his eyes, " – Trent Fernandez, and Kira Ford."
Trent made a vague motion towards Conner, but his eyes fell shut and his body went slack.
"How did you get here?" Sam asked.
Conner shrugged. "You know how it is – come home for summer break, meet up at the park, get kidnapped –" Conner suddenly swayed on his feet, his hand shooting out to balance himself on Ethan's table.
Jack and Sam rushed to steady him as he sank down against a table leg. The teen sighed. "Look, man, I know we gotta do the whole mutual debrief and planning thing, but –"
Ethan's hand clapped itself over Conner's mouth with startling accuracy, and Conner made a hapless gesture, his eyelids already drooping.
"It's fine, Conner," Sam said softly, "Get some rest."
Conner was asleep before she finished speaking.
"Dammit," Jack swore, pacing the room they were all locked in. "We've gotta find a way to get Daniel out of there."
"We must first find a way to free ourselves," Teal'c pointed out, as Sam looked at the monitor still showing Daniel's unconscious form.
"They're going to kill him!"
At least his pained expression had faded. If the echoes of his screams weren't ringing in their ears, they could almost pretend he was just sleeping.
"They've got an armed guard outside," Sam replied, "And they haven't exactly been paying attention to us. The security here's tighter than SGC."
Teal'c expression remained stoic. "That has not stopped us before."
"We can't just leave the kids here," Sam protested, "They're out cold."
Jack's fists clenched as he looked at them. "Who even are they?"
Trent shifted and groaned in pain, grimacing in his sleep.
Sam couldn't take it anymore. She strode over to the other side of the room and knelt beside Trent. She reached out towards him –
- And Kira's hand shot out and wrapped around her wrist in a vice grip.
The girl's eyes were hard and suspicious. "Get. Away. From. Trent."
"Easy, Kira, Sam soothed, "I'm not going to hurt you. I just want to help."
"I said get away!" Kira shot to her feet, shoving Sam back.
Jack and Teal'c immediately moved towards the women.
"Your help got Dr. Oliver tortured," Kira spat, "Like Hell am I letting you near my boyfriend."
"It is not our intent to harm you," Teal'c cut in, "Allow us to make up for the harm our presence caused your DoctorOliver."
"I said no," Kira snapped, "Just stay out the way and try not to get anyone killed."
"Listen, kid –"
"Can you not?" Ethan grumbled, lifting his head up with a glare. "These four hours are all the sleep we're going to get for the next forty, so if we could actually use them, that would be awesome."
Kira gave SG-1 a last mistrustful glare and then settled back down beside her boyfriend.
Conner and Trent slept on, completely oblivious.
Tommy glared at the guard as he picked himself up. "You better pray your Commander doesn't touch my Rangers, because then I will kill you all."
"Your words don't scare me, Ranger," the guard sneered.
Tommy surged forward, slamming his fists against the bars of his cell. "They should. If you know me, you know what I'm capable of."
Tommy's eyes flickered green.
The guard's eyes widened and he strode away, leaving Tommy to slump against the bars with a deep exhale.
Tommy looked up and smiled as Daniel slowly roused.
"Hey. How're you feeling?"
"Like a tank ran over me," Daniel said with a groan. "How long have you been… awake?"
"A while," Tommy shrugged.
Daniel blinked, frowning.
"I'm fine, Daniel."
"Right," the archaeologist muttered dryly. "You should really, uh, try to get some rest."
Tommy shook his head. "Not while my Rangers are up there."
"What, the brightly coloured spandex didn't give it away?" Tommy replied wryly, "We're Power Rangers."
Daniel blinked in shock. "I thought the Power Rangers were a myth!"
The other man grinned. "Most people do. We prefer it that way, makes things easier for us."
"But – but they're teenagers! How can they be out there fighting?!"
Tommy shrugged again. "The Power chooses whoever's best equipped to handle whatever threat the Earth is facing. We don't always believe it ourselves, but being a Ranger… It's like a calling. None of us have any regrets."
"The energy source that gives us our abilities," Tommy replied with a smile. "It's… quasi-sentient, as far as we can tell, but our science is pretty young, so we don't really know."
Daniel huffed a small laugh. "Yeah, we've been told that a couple times. But wouldn't the military be better off handling the threats you guys do?"
"The military's not usually equipped for that. There's only been one team that was constructed by us ourselves, but even that was guided by the Power."
"Aliens, occasionally domestic threats."
Daniel sat up interestedly. "Have you encountered the Goa'uld?"
Tommy's gaze drifted as he thought back. "Not that I remember… But the Universe is pretty big. Who are they?"
"They're parasites," Daniel spat, "They call themselves the System Lords, and they invade humans and take them over as hosts. They conquer any world they come across, and what they can't conquer, they destroy."
Tommy pressed his lips in a thin line, grimacing as he absently rubbed over the black triangular tattoos that had appeared on his skin in the past few hours. "Yeah… I've known a couple races like that."
Daniel's eyes widened. "A couple?"
Tommy nodded. "Yeah. It's been over twelve years since I became a Power Ranger, and in the early days, other planets with Power Rangers looked at us as Earth's primary diplomats. My teammates and I got a crash course in interplanetary diplomacy, and we met a lot of different people and cultures over the years."
"That sounds fascinating," Daniel said wistfully. "It's only been about fifteen, sixteen months of our exploration, and I've already learned so much."
Tommy grinned. "Tell you what, when we get out of this, I'll tell you all about it."
Daniel grinned in response. "I'll take you up on that. Are the tattoos related to you being a Power Ranger?"
Tommy nodded. "They're kind of like a warning system when I'm in danger. They come up from time to time, but they'll fade back in a while."
"How long have you been a Ranger?"
"Ah… I was, what… fourteen, when I become a Ranger? Yeah, freshman year of high school."
Daniel's grin fell away. "That's… young. And the teens upstairs?"
"They've been Rangers for about two years. They were only active for one, but the Power stays with you for the rest of your life."
Daniel nodded, resisting the urge to comment further – Tommy clearly loved being a Ranger, as much as Jack and Sam loved being the military. "So it's a full-time job?"
Tommy laughed. "Not by a long shot. Feels like that, sometimes, but I put food on the table as a high school science teacher."
Daniel grinned. "Funny how life goes, right? I was an archaeologist laughed out of academia, and now I get to explore the stars."
"Which is still an archaeologist wet-dream," Tommy teased. "That makes it, what, astroarchaeology? Like astrobiology?"
"Someone on a dig I went on a few years ago actually suggested that – we were studying indigenous cultures' astronomy and calendars in Peru."
Tommy blinked. "I was in Peru once, my first year of grad school. Paleontology dig, though."
"An archaeologist and a paleontologist exploring space – sounds like a bad sci-fi novel!"
"Morning, Sunshine," Conner greeted cheerfully as Kira stirred awake.
Kira glared at him, and Trent cracked an eye open. "When she kills you, I'm not going to save your ass."
"Up and at 'em!"
Kira groaned and let her head fall back against the wall. "What did we do to deserve a Red who's such a morning person?"
"Ethan, get up, we need the table for food."
Trent scoffed and muttered to his girlfriend, "You should see Dr. O in the mornings, that's where he gets it from."
"Hey, jackboots, you guys get any sleep?"
"How the Hell are you so energetic right now?" Jack responded, looking up from his bunk.
Conner shrugged as Sam and Teal'c also opened their eyes. "Rangers don't need much sleep."
"Rangers?" Sam asked.
"Did you miss the brightly colored suits?" Ethan replied incredulously, "We're Power Rangers, dude."
Jack's jaw dropped. "I thought they were a myth!"
"No, Colonel," Sam replied faintly, "They're real. There was some mention of them at the Pentagon. But I had no idea that Rangers came so young."
"There's a reason for that," Kira replied, redoing her ponytail, "Can you imagine the field day the press would have if they knew?"
The three boys shuddered.
Jack remembered what it felt like to see Skaara playing with his MP-5.
Trent groaned as he stretched, arms raised above his head.
"Trent, your ribs!" Sam protested.
"Hunh?" Trent replied, looking down, "Oh! No, those healed up while I slept. Nothing to worry about."
"Such a rapid healing rate is unusual for humans," Teal'c observed.
"Power Rangers, dude," Conner replied easily, "Rapid healing and not needing much sleep are part of the package."
"Need a ton of food, though," Trent said as the door opened, revealing two guards carrying large boxes of food.
"Gotta love increased metabolic rates," Ethan added, taking the boxes from the guards.
One of the guards entered the room, nodding to the monitor. "You ready to talk yet?"
"We told you everything already!" Jack snapped.
Daniel jerked with a scream, scrabbling at the collar around his neck.
All heads turned to Conner, who was practically vibrating with fury, his eyes blazing.
"Daniel Jackson is a civilian. I don't care what your laws are, you have no right to treat civilians of any world this way!"
"And you don't have the right to question our laws," the other guard snapped.
Conner strode forward, his teammates quietly slipping into position behind him. "Oh, you better believe I do, the Red Ranger snarled. "I've had to sit back and watch while you tortured my mentor and a Ranger under my command as "insurance" but I'm done. You need us, and if you want to maintain this alliance, you'll release Dr. Oliver and Dr. Jackson."
"You don't have the authority to make demands –"
Red seeped into Conner's irises.
"I speak with the authority of Iain McKnight, General of the United States Army, and as a Red Ranger of Earth's Ranger Corps, leader of Earth's twelfth domestic and seventh interplanetary Ranger team. Let Dr. Oliver and Dr. Jackson go free, or I will let my Rangers burn you out of the sky."
The guard sneered. "Your threats are pathetic."
"That wasn't a threat. That was a promise."
The two stared each other down until the other guard by the monitor made it back to his partner. "Leave it. We're needed back at Command."
The guard gave on last glare, before turning and leaving. Conner remained straight-backed and proud, less like a teenager, and more like the General whose name he'd invoked. Then the door clanged shut and his shoulders slumped, a teenager once more.
"Well, I'll be damned," Ethan muttered, "Never thought I's hear that from Mr. Daddy Issues himself."
"No, that would be Trent," Conner quipped, returning to the others.
"What was that all about?" Jack asked.
Conner shrugged. "The Army thing should cover you guys, and Rangers have political pull of their own."
"General Leighman would have been better," Jack responded glibly.
Conner grunted. "Flyboys. Not that it would really help; 'The United States military does not negotiate with terrorists,'" Conner's voice was bitter, but he continued on. "Fucking Al Qaeda. Anyway, Dad would totally class the Ivizi as terrorists – guerrilla warfare, hard targets, insurgent forces against the regime – and then we'd still be stuck here while he and Nazor did the whole posturing thing."
Jack's eyebrows rose at Conner's assessment and Ethan shook his head. "I will not stop being amazed when stuff like this comes out of your mouth."
"Dude, my Dad is General of the Army. Eric and I would have had to run laps for eternity if we didn't know this stuff."
Sam asked, "The Ivizi, that's the people here?"
"The guys in this base, yeah. You should eat, it's better than rations."
Ethan rolled his eyes as Conner proceeded to stuff his face. "The country we're in right now, Anahari, is under the rule of the Rathi clan. They're kinda oppressive and awful in basically every way. So, unhappy citizens banded together to form the Ivizi, and then civil war broke out. Basic stuff."
"We," Kira continued, "got kidnapped by the Rathi, and they convinced us to help them for a couple days. Then we found out what the Rathi were really like, and the Ivizi demanded we fight for them as payment for blowing up their ships."
"And they had Dr. O hostage," Trent added.
"Also, he has this weird thing about diplomacy," Conner groused.
Kira rolled her eyes. "Yes, Conner, because not wanting to spark another interplanetary war within the Power Coalition is so weird."
Conner made a face at her and returned to eating.
"You guys don't know what the Coalition is, do you?" Trent asked, at SG-1's blank expressions.
"Dude, you travel in space, how do you not know that?!" Conner exclaimed.
"Don't talk with your mouth full, Conner," Kira said absently, more out of habit than hope of getting through to her teammate.
Conner made another face and Ethan elbowed him. "Try to act like a college student and not a Neanderthal."
"You mean there's a difference?" Trent replied dryly.
"Hey, I resent that!"
"Well, he's not wrong," Sam teased lowly as the teens bickered.
"Anyway," Ethan said loudly, cutting through the chatter, "The Power Coalition is all the worlds that can support the Power. Out of the ones that don't, there's the Protectorate of the Four Great Races, and the Unaligned Worlds. As far as we know, anyway. The Universe is pretty big, so who knows what else is out there?"
Jack and Sam looked at Teal'c, who replied simply, "The Goa'uld made no mention of such alliances. It may be that they do not know, or deem such knowledge unnecessary."
Sam shook her head in wonder. "This is amazing."
Jack was thinking something a little different. "How do you kids know all this?"
The teens' expressions fell slightly.
"Dr. Oliver," Trent explained softly, "He taught us everything we know."
All four Rangers tensed at the reminder of their mentor and his suffering.
Conner turned to the adults. "So that's us. What's your story?"
"We really are explorers," Jack began, "Part of a military project called the Stargate Program. We use stargates to travel to other worlds, meet the locals, and try to build alliances to help fight off the Goa'uld. This was supposed to be a routine recon mission."
The teens looked stunned, and Jack smirked. "You kids alright? Looks like you're not the only space cadets around."
"Yeah, no, can we go back to the part about stargates," Ethan demanded, gesturing, "Giant metal circle with spinning symbols and glowing metal triangles?!"
"That's the stargate," Sam replied cautiously.
Ethan turned to Conner. "Conner –"
Conner shot to his feet, his fists clenched and his face a mask of fury. "Nazor."
Trent scoffed under his breath and smirked. "Oh, somebody's gonna get dead."
Daniel groaned. "As far as wake-up calls go, that really sucked."
Tommy chuckled. "It's probably breakfast time upstairs. The Ivizi are getting ready for the next round of interrogations."
"The Ivizi – they're the people holding us captive?"
Tommy nodded. "They're rebels fighting against the oppressive Rathi regime that rules the area. My team and I were convinced to fight for the Rathi, before we realized their true intentions. The Ivizi demanded we helped them in return as payment. The collar was a pretty good incentive, too."
Daniel groaned. "A civil war. Of course. So much for a standard recon mission!"
"In my experience, there's really no such thing."
Daniel nodded ruefully. "You'd think with how much I've travelled, I'd be used to it by now."
"You do this often?"
"We use these devices called stargates to travel to other planets," Daniel explained, "It's alien technology that creates a wormhole between two stargates on different planets an allows us to travel through. You need a specific combination of symbols – coordinates – to lock on to another stargate."
Tommy's expression was one of shock, but before he could comment, the footsteps of Ivizi guards sounded around the corner.
"You two! Get up!"
Tommy looked at the guards mildly as Daniel scrambled back. "You've already broken through the protection placed on my Power, is more torture really necessary?"
"I said get up!"
The cell door opened and Tommy bolted into action. His fist slammed into the first guard's solar plexus, and his elbow followed into the man's back as he hunched over. The Ranger spun quickly, trapping the incoming rod between his bound hands.
Tommy smirked, "You want to give up now and save yourself a beatdown?"
"Do it now!" the guard order, and behind Tommy, Daniel screamed.
Tommy jerked around in shock, "Daniel-"
He didn't expect a fresh wave of pain to tear through his defenses, sending acid across his skin and driving knives into his bones.
"Turn it up!"
Death would be a mercy.
Beyond him, Daniel gasped as his collar stopped the onslaught of pain and whimpered as he trembled, trying to pull himself together. The pain was fading, but the screaming –
The screaming wasn't him. Daniel scrambled towards the bars of the cell to see Tommy writhing on the floor, shackles broken and wrists bleeding as he clawed at the ground, screaming.
"T – Tommy?!"
Tommy fell still.
"I told you it'd kill him!" the guard snapped.
Tommy's tattoos glowed red.
Daniel barely saw the sword that appeared in Tommy's hand in a flash of red, before Tommy was back up and moving. He swept one guard's feet out from under him, ramming the hilt of the sword into his temple as he went down. Tommy spun around in a smooth movement, the tip of his sword blade pressing into the other guard's neck.
"Drop it. Now."
The controller for the collars clattered to the floor, along with the accompanying rod. The terrified guard swallowed. "How – that kind of pain –"
Tommy smirked slowly. "I was trained by Empress Rita and brought the planet of Horath to its knees while under torture and captivity under the Machine Empire. You don't know anything about pain."
"Please don't kill me!"
Ten seconds and an eye roll later, the guard was unconscious at Tommy's feet. The Ranger went through a quick check of his injuries, frowning at his still-bleeding wrists.
Daniel flinched when Tommy turned towards him, unable to tamp down on his instinctive reaction.
Tommy frowned. "Daniel…?"
Daniel resisted the urge to cringe at his own reaction and straightened up. "Your – uh – your eyes- "
Tommy blinked. "Are they red?"
Daniel nodded. As soon as Tommy had stood up, his irises had become a brilliant vermillion, to match his tattoos.
Tommy exhaled slowly, and the red seeped away. "Sorry," he said sheepishly, "It's a Power Ranger thing. You ready to get out of here?"
Daniel nodded fervently. "Oh, god yes."
Tommy grinned. "One sec." He stabbed the sword down onto the controller viciously, and their collars fell to the ground with loud clangs.
Daniel rubbed his neck in relief and stepped out of the cell after Tommy broke open the lock.
"Come on," Tommy said, tearing off a strip of his own shirt and wrapping it around his wrist, "We need to get back to Command before one my Rangers gets around to killing Commander Nazor."
No sooner had Tommy and Daniel turned the corner did they run into Ethan. The Blue Ranger's eyes narrowed as his sharp gaze ran over his teacher, lingering on Tommy's bandaged wrists. "Dr. O…?"
"I'm fine, Ethan."
"Yeah, we established back in high school that your definition of 'fine' needs a lot of work. Stargate?"
"YOU SON OF A BITCH!"
Conner slammed Nazor into a wall, his fists tight around the soldier's lapels. Every other soldier in the room had their weapons trained on the Rangers and SG-1. Conner ignored them, while Kira and Trent stood defiantly in front of SG-1, shielding them.
"This is a stargate planet?! And you didn't tell us?!"
"You what?" Conner snarled, and slammed Nazor against the wall again. Every weapon in the room cocked. "Oh, for the love of – Trent, disarm."
"Oh, thank fuck," the Hispanic teen said in obvious relief.
What followed could only be described as brutal.
Kira pushed SG-1 back and Conner kept his hard, furious gaze of Nazor as he pinned him against the wall. Meanwhile, Trent tore into the soldiers like a wolf among sheep, leaving behind a slew of broken bones and bloody mouths in his wake.
Every soldier in the room was disarmed in under a minute, their weapons collected on the table.
"Now," Conner said firmly, "Back to the business at hand."
"Trent, I thought I told you not to kill anyone."
"Why does everyone always think it's me?!" Trent protested.
"Because you got assassin-trained by a mutant dinosaur?" Ethan quipped.
Trent would deny pouting until the end of time.
Tommy stepped past SG-1 and his Rangers, squeezing Kira and Ethan's shoulders reassuringly as he passed. "Conner?"
"Hey, Dr. O," Conner greeted with a smile, not letting go of Nazor. "Good to have you back. The Commander and I were just having a discussion on interplanetary law and politics."
"Yeah?" Tommy said mildly, surveying the rest of the command center. "How's that going?"
"Fabulously," Conner grit out, returning to glaring at Nazor.
"Tell your Red to stand down," the Ivizi Commander demanded of Tommy.
The veteran Ranger's eyebrows rose. "You've got to be joking. You lied to my team and forced them to fight for you, terrorizing them and driving them into the ground for fifteen days – What makes you think I would order them down after that?!"
"And your Ranger brutalized my men," Nazor spat furiously.
Tommy looked at the carnage Trent had wrought and then turned back to the Rangers. "Kira, call the medics. You and Trent help them get the wounded to the Infirmary."
"What?!" Trent squawked, "Why me?!"
"Because you're the one who put them in this state."
Trent scowled mulishly. "Fine."
Conner snorted. "Dude, New York turned you into a whiny little –"
Conner fell silent.
Tommy looked at SG-1. "Do any of you need medical attention like Daniel?"
"I'm fine, I don't need any medical attention," Daniel replied quickly.
Jack shot him a look, which Daniel returned innocently. Jack shook his head. "No, but some explanations would be nice."
Tommy nodded. "Ethan, keep an eye out for the Rathi."
"You got it, Doc."
"Nazor, when the medics get here, tell them to stand down."
"You've got to be joking!"
"Does it look like we're joking?" Conner snarled.
Nazor glared, but Tommy remained implacable. He grunted and nodded reluctantly.
Tommy gestured for SG-1 to gather around the central table, while Kira and Trent started rousing the fallen soldiers. "Air Force?"
"How'd you guess?"
"Lightspeed was Army and Navy-"
"Commander!" Weapons burst to life as armed guards flooded the room, barring the medics from entering.
Nazor clenched his fists and nodded to his men.
The Rangers had their weapons pointed back at the guards instantly. Trent had a white dagger in his hand, while Kira and Ethan wielded guns or some sort, and Tommy had a long sword pointed at another guard's throat.
Conner pressed his own weapon into Nazor's gut. "Tell them to stand down. Now."
"We could just raze the base to the ground and go home," Trent commented.
SG-1 looked at him incredulously, but none of the Rangers contradicted him, their expressions dark and grim as they stared down their targets.
Nazor swallowed. "Stand down and tend to our men."
"But, sir –"
"That's an order, Enias."
Kira and Trent stowed their weapons and set to helping the medics while Ethan turned back to the computers.
Conner shoved Nazor into a chair. "You're going to sit there and think about how to explain why you pulled us into this bullshit, while we Earthlings finish our debrief."
Tommy looked at Conner fondly, and turned back to SG-1. "Where do you want to start?"
"How about why the stargate is so important here?" Jack replied, settling in.
Tommy nodded. "The known Universe is loosely divided into three groups – the Power Coalition, the Protectorate of the Four Great Races, and the Unaligned Worlds. The Coalition comprises all the worlds that support the Power, the Protectorate the stargates, and the Unaligned Worlds everywhere else. Some worlds, like this one and Earth, have both the Power and stargates, so jurisdiction defaults to the Great Races, unless there's an active Power Ranger team on-planet, in which case, we deal with the interplanetary threats.
"There are no active Ranger teams here, and since there's a stargate as well, we don't have to be here – we shouldn't be here, in fact. Us being here and being forced to fight is at best kidnapping, and at worst, an act of war."
Conner smirked viciously. "So, Nazor, how do you want to play this? Choose wisely."
Nazor paled and looked pained, but remained silent.
"How do you know all this?" Jack asked, "Some kind of Ranger diplomacy school?"
"Dr. Oliver knows everything," Kira piped up from the doorway.
"It's true," Ethan and Trent confirmed cheerfully.
Tommy shook his head affectionately, and blinked in surprise when Trent held gauze and antiseptic out in front of him. "Trent –"
"I got it," Conner cut in, blurring in between Tommy and Trent. "Sit, Dr. O."
"You know I can do that myself," Tommy pointed out mildly, but still sat back as his Red Ranger flapped at him absently.
"Red Ranger's prerogative," Conner quipped, "You're not the one who's a part-time EMT, either."
"He's got you there, Dr. Oliver," Kira added, squeezing Tommy's shoulder gently.
"Done!" Conner chimed, stepping back to reveal Tommy's clean, neatly bandaged wrists.
Tommy laughed and clapped Conner's arm gently. "Thanks, Conner."
"So what happens now?" Sam asked.
"I, for one, am going home," Ethan said bluntly. "Do you know what missing three weeks of classes is going to do to my grades? My GPA is going to tank!"
"I'm all for that," Trent agreed, "I've got a project due tomorrow that I was supposed to start three weeks ago."
Kira winced in sympathy, and Conner rolled his eyes. "Lightspeed will call the school and get it fixed, relax already."
"No!" Nazor blurted out, "You can't leave! We need your help!"
The Rangers and SG-1 stared at him incredulously. "Dude," Conner snapped, "You've worked us to the bone already – you have no right to ask us for anything!"
"And you have even less right to ask anything of Dr. Oliver," Kira added with a scowl, "Since you basically tortured the galaxy's greatest Power Ranger for two weeks."
"Please," Nazor begged desperately, looking between the Rangers and SG-1, "We don't have the strength without you."
"We're not your saviors, Nazor," Jack replied flatly, "And frankly, you haven't really even convinced us you deserve saving."
"I shouldn't have expected you to help," Nazor spat, "Given the company you keep."
"Excuse me?" Sam replied with a frown.
"I believe the Commander is referring to me," Teal'c pointed out, "As I am a Jaffa."
"Teal'c is a member of my team," Jack snapped, "And he's sure as hell more trustworthy than you."
"Uh, what's a Jaffa?" Trent cut in.
"Servants of the Goa'uld," Nazor sneered, "Their bodyguards and loyal lapdogs."
"I was once the First Prime of Apophis," Teal'c affirmed, "Now I work with O'Neill and his team to bring down the Goa'uld."
Conner shrugged. "So kind of like an alien version of Trent. Cool."
The other Rangers looked unperturbed, to Nazor's frustration and SG-1's surprise.
Before anyone could say anything else, loud sirens started blaring, and Ethan swiped at the computer displays. "Three incoming airships, at seventy units each. Four wide range lasers on each airship, standard phasers on all units. We've got, what, forty mobile troops on base right now?"
Conner and Trent grinned. "Oh, this is going to be fun."
"You kids have a strange definition of fun."
There were bright flashes of color, and all teenagers stood morphed again. Tommy flicked his wrist, bringing his morpher to life, but Conner was having none of it.
"No way, Doc. You're not going out there until all that –" Conner gestures at the red markings on Tommy's skin, "- goes away."
Tommy raised his hands in acquiescence, "I'll coordinate from here and keep an eye on Nazor."
Conner turned to SG-1. "That goes for you, too, Dr. Jackson. No torture victims in the field."
Daniel turned to Jack in protest, but Jack shrugged. "You heard the man."
Conner grinned. "Alright, flyboys – you ready to go blow shit up?"
Daniel kept an eye on Nazor as Tommy watched over the battlefield. Conner and Jack traded command seamlessly while Tommy called out warnings and status updates.
"What do you plan to do after you defeat the Rathi, anyway?" Daniel asked.
Nazor looked at him incredulously. "We will free our people from slavery!"
"And after that?" Daniel continued patiently. "Are you going to stick with the same governmental system, or rebuild it with new laws, elections –"
"Elections?" Nazor interrupted, "Why would we need those?"
Tommy and Daniel stared at him, dumbfounded.
"Do you have a monarchy, then? Or some kind of ruling council to replace the Rathi?"
"The Ivizi will, of course. It is our right as liberators."
"Which would, what, make you supreme ruler of your country?" Tommy demanded acerbically.
"It would certainly be better than the Rathi!" Nazor snapped.
Tommy and Daniel looked at each other.
"If Jack were here, he'd point out that this isn't our fight."
Tommy's lips turned down at the corners. "As a Power Ranger, I can't knowingly let one oppressive regime to be toppled, only to leave another in its place."
Daniel quirked a half-smile. "And I never listen to Jack, anyway."
"The Ivizi would never oppress our people!" Nazor protested in outrage, "How dare you –"
"Your system of justice involves torture," Tommy said loudly over him, "Blinding, agonizing torture."
"And how else would we punish criminals?" the Ivizi Commander sneered.
Tommy rolled his eyes, turning back to the monitors to type. "Oh, I don't know, prison, fines, community service…"
"We're not trying to marginalize your culture or your values," Daniel said quickly, "But you can't continue the cycle of violence once you free your people from the Rathi slave laws. If you want a lasting, stable peace, you can't just be different – you need to be better."
Nazor scowled. "And I suppose you have a better idea?"
"A peace treaty. I leave you alone for two minutes, and you manage to convince the leaders of two warring factions to agree to a peace treaty."
"We left them alone for 37 minutes, O'Neill," Teal'c pointed out.
"Yes, thank you for that, Teal'c."
Daniel grinned sheepishly. "Well, Nazor begged us not to leave…"
"And I can't really leave without making sure the best interests of the innocent people of Anahari are secured. And since every other country on the planet has stringent non-intervention policies…" Tommy added.
"… We compromised."
The teens burst out in snickers and Sam shook her head in amusement. Jack continued to look vaguely flabbergasted and close to asking God to grant him deliverance.
"Man, did we look like that the first time, Dr. O?" Ethan asked, when he calmed down.
"Trent did," Conner piped up helpfully.
"I did not!"
Kira grinned at SG-1. "Remember when we said Dr. O was the greatest Ranger in the galaxy? This is why."
"So what's the plan now?" Jack asked dryly.
"You all go back to Earth and get checked out, while Nazor and I wait for the Rathi delegation."
Kira crossed her arms. "There's no way we're leaving you here alone, Dr. O."
"Kira's right," Sam agreed, "This sounds like something you need all hands on-deck for."
Tommy gave them a crooked smile. "What we really need for this peace treaty is witnesses and reinforcements. I understand SGC has specially trained diplomatic teams?"
"Their help would be invaluable. Conner, I need you to go back and contact Lightspeed."
"Sure, Doc. Wait, why me? Wouldn't you be better?"
"He's brokering the treaty," Ethan pointed out, "He can't leave."
"Also, there is no better proof of identity than you bitching out your Dad for a couple hours," Trent added with a grin.
Conner considered this for a moment, and then shrugged. "Fine."
"And Conner? No felonies before you take a shower."
"Aw, Dr. O…"
Conner shuddered as he stepped out of the stargate. "Okay, that was awful. Ranger teleportation is way better."
"Welcome back, SG-1," General Hammond greeted, "You're late, we were getting worried."
"That's a funny story, General…"
"General Hammond?!" Conner interrupted, "Ashley's Dad is your boss?!"
Hammond frowned. "How do you know about Ashley, son?"
Conner flicked his wrist, bringing up his morpher. "Conner McKnight, Red Ranger."
Hammond's eyes widened and Conner snorted. "Military bureaucracy, gotta love it. We need to get in touch with Operation Lightspeed, Sir."
The General nodded. "Of course. I'm sure your father will be glad to hear from you."
Conner scowled, and Jack clapped a hand on his shoulder with a grin. "Remember, Conner, no felonies until you've had a shower."
"General, we have a problem."
Hammond frowned at the put-upon expression on Dr. Janet Fraiser's face. "What is it? Is SG-1 alright?"
"Oh no, SG-1's fine. The problem is a very stubborn nineteen-year-old refusing to be treated by anyone besides Dr. Dana Grayson and Dr. Angela Fairweather-Rawlings."
Hammond's eyebrows rose. "Lightspeed's still a few hours out; let me talk to him."
The two of them made their way through the base, nearing the infirmary to hear "I get that Dr. Fraiser is a great doctor, she's have to be to work here, but I have the right by law to be seen by a physician of my own choice."
"Did Tommy or your Dad make you memorize that?" Jack asked amusedly.
"Dr. Fraiser, is all of this really necessary?" Daniel asked, sitting up and gesturing at the wires and IV lines attached to him. "I feel fine –"
"Don't listen to him, Dr. Fraiser!" Conner cut in immediately. "He's as bad as Dr. O. He should be on bed rest and liquids for a week after what he went through."
Daniel made a noise of protest and Janet bit down a smile at the expression of perfect seriousness on the teen's face.
"I'll take that under advisement," she replied.
Conner nodded in satisfaction and sat back.
General Hammond shook his head. "Son, Lightspeed isn't going to be able to get out here for at least a few hours. Dr. Fraiser is the best of the best."
"It's not that," Conner explained, "I'm not trying to disrespect you or anything, Dr. Fraiser, but Dana and Dr. Fairweather-Rawlings have actual experience treating Rangers."
"Conner, you know I can't let you leave until you've been medically cleared," Hammond countered.
Conner shrugged. "So I have to wait a few hours. No big deal."
"You don't strike me as the type to be good at waiting," Sam pointed out wryly.
Conner opened his mouth to protest, and then sulked when he found he had nothing to say.
"How's he doing?" Hammond asked Janet a while later.
"Practically vibrating with energy," the doctor replied wryly. "Colonel O'Neill's keeping an eye on him, but he's going to start climbing the walls soon."
"Then it's a good thing we came," a woman said.
Janet turned to see three newcomers – a young blonde in a pink blouse and grey skirt, a man her age in a red shirt and combat pants, and an older brunette with glasses. The women wore white lab coats, and the man wore a military jacket.
"Dr. Grayson, Dr. Fairweather-Rawlings," Hammond greeted, "We weren't expecting you yet."
Dana tapped the device on her wrist. "We took a shortcut. Carter pointed out that Reds, especially Conner, don't do so well with sitting around waiting."
The man accompanying them, Carter, shook Hammond's hand with a respectful nod.
"And the longer we leave Conner unattended, the more likely he is to get into trouble," Angela added.
"So we're learning. Follow me, the infirmary's this way."
The three Lightspeed officials followed after Janet, reaching the infirmary in time to hear Conner's excited chatter.
"- So you let the midfielders feint here, and then the forwards can shoot past and – Dana!"
Conner sat up brightly, pushing aside sheets of paper with diagrams of soccer plays. "Hey, Carter, Dr. Fairweather-Rawlings."
Carter nodded with a smile, while Angela commented, "I hear you've been causing some trouble."
"What?!" Conner protested, "I have not! Col. O'Neill, tell them!"
"Oh, he's been a perfect angel," Jack deadpanned.
Conner scowled, muttering uncharitably under his breath as Angela and Carter set up some instruments.
"Mhmm," Dana replied, "Open wide, Conner."
Conner complied, as Carter started hooking him up to the instruments, while Angela adjusted the readings.
"Would it be too much to hope that the Douchebag is overseas or something?" Conner grumbled when his mouth was free.
Carter snorted and Dana checked the thermometer, unconcerned. "Your temperature's a little high, but you'll need bloodwork to completely rule out any infections, even with the Power."
Conner groaned. "My day gets better and better."
"Did he forget a birthday or an anniversary?"
"Mom's birthday," Conner replied with a scowled. "And their anniversary, but no one cares about that anymore. But Mom – after she put up with him for – ow! – almost fifteen years…"
Dana made noises of agreement as she drew Conner's blood, letting him rail against his absentee father while she worked. Angela shared a chuckle with Janet as she walked the other doctor through the readings on her monitors.
"Conner, how long have you been morphed?"
Conner broke off his falsetto mockery of his father and turned to Angela. "Uh… eighteen days total, couple hours active intermittently for three days, then 44-hour cycles for the next fifteen: four hours asleep, forty hours active and on standby."
Dana and Carter gaped. "And Tommy let this happen?!"
"He was a little busy being tortured," Conner snapped.
"Of course he was," Carter muttered darkly, as Dana and Angela exchanged glances.
"From the looks of it, you're essentially fine, Conner," Angela reported, "You've got a case of exhaustion from overusing the Power, which I'll give you a booster for, but nothing critical. You could have let Dr. Fraiser treat you and waited for us to get here with the rest of Lightspeed."
"Well, yeah," Conner replied with a shrug. "But where you go, Carter goes, and he's an awesome human shield against my Dad."
"Conner and his father have a tenuous relationship," Carter explained to the SGC personnel, "Very tenuous."
"Because he's a douchebag," Conner informed them.
"Conner," Dana warned. "Dr. Fraiser, would you mind if Dr. Fairweather-Rawlings and I took a look at –"
"Daniel," Jack supplied, when Dana looked at his teammate unsurely.
"- Daniel? If the Ivizi are familiar with Rangers, they might be using technology we're familiar with."
Janet nodded. "Of course. Anything we can do to help."
Dana attached a few wires and electrodes to Daniel at Angela's instruction with a reassuring smile. "Take it easy, Daniel, this'll only take a minute, and then you can go back to resting."
"I'd rather go back to work," Daniel grumbled.
"I'm sure," Angela replied absently, "But you're dehydrated, your immune system is compromised, and your body's energy is almost completely depleted."
"Not to mention the nerve inflammation…" Dana muttered, "How long were you… tortured for?"
"A few hours, I think," Daniel replied uncomfortably, "It's all kind of a blur."
"I'm not surprised, this kind of damage –"
Dana was cut off by the shrieking of one of the devices, and Carter's hand darted out to grab her. "Dana, get back! Conner, stay where you are!"
"What is it?" Jack demanded, moving closer.
Angela immediately started disconnecting wires as Carter and Dana stepped back away from Daniel. "It's a Power dampener – a chemical only detectable by Ranger technology," she explained, "It's harmless to normal people, but to Rangers, it's…"
"Bad news?" Janet offered.
Carter's expression was grim. "Lethal."
Tommy looked up from explaining the American prison system to Nazor at the sound of rapid footsteps. "Dana! Dr. Fairweather-Rawlings! I didn't expect you here already."
Dana gave him a tight smile. "I don't expect you did, Dr. Oliver."
"Ohh, someone's in trouble," Ethan murmured, and Kira elbowed him.
Nazor turned to Dana warily. "Who are –"
"Dr. Dana Grayson," Dana replied crisply, "And this is Dr. Angela Fairweather-Rawlings. Ethan, Kira, Trent, front and centre. Tommy, go with Angela."
"Never argue with a Pink Ranger." Tommy warned as he moved in front of Angela.
"Not if you know what's good for you," Dana agreed, "Dr. Jackson is on IVs and bed rest for at least the next two days after his trauma, if not more, and he isn't affected by Power dampeners."
The teens shot to their feet. "What?!"
"Power dampeners?" Kira asked, her brow furrowing, "But we've been in close contact with Dr. O, and we haven't felt anything."
"They tend not to spread between Rangers until the infected Ranger's been destroyed," Tommy pointed out with a grimace.
Trent and Ethan's fists clenched.
"You're already using more than twice the amount of Power the human body can withstand," Angela warned with a frown, "It's a miracle you're even alive."
Dana glanced down at the readings in her colleague's hands, and her lips pressed into a thin line. Placing an arm on the other doctor's shoulder to keep her from speaking further, she turned back to the teens. "Kira, Ethan, Trent – Your vitals look alright for now, but I want you to get a full check-up from Dr. Fraiser at the SGC. She'll take good care of you, and Carter's got boosters for the Power exhaustion when you're done."
"But Dr. O-"
"Guys! I'll be fine!" Tommy assured them with an easy smile. "Go, Conner's probably driving the SGC up the wall by now."
Kira and Ethan chuckled faintly before reluctantly turning to leave. Trent gripped Nazor's shoulder before he left, leaning down to murmur, "If he dies, then fuck your treaty, because I will kill every last one of you myself."
Nazor looked at him sharply, but Trent simply smiled and walked away.
Back at Stargate Command, Sam, Janet, and Carter were trying to coax the teens to rest.
"Look, I know you guys are on edge because Tommy's hurt, but Dana and Dr. Fairweather-Rawlings are with him, and they're not going to let anything happen to him."
"You need your rest," Janet pressed, "You're going to burn yourselves out if you keep pushing your bodies like this, regardless of the Power."
"We'll be fine," Trent dismissed.
"Besides, how can we sleep in a place like this, have you seen this tech?!" Ethan protested, "That's a CRX-975 with a tri-core P7 processor, it's not even supposed to exist yet, and the mainframe to support these kinds of calculations…"
The adults exchanged amused glances as Ethan babbled excitedly, and Conner gave a smug grin.
"How about a compromise," Carter proposed, "General McKnight and the others won't be here for about three hours. So, you guys sleep for two hours, and then you have an hour to explore."
"Look, I'm all for taking a nap," Kira agreed, "And if you're going to fight with your Dad, Conner –"
"Which you will," Trent added.
"- you'll need to be well-rested."
"Though he is a lot more cranky and entertaining when sleep-deprived."
"Not helping, Trent."
The White Ranger shrugged cheerfully.
Conner shook his head, crossing his arms. "I get it, Doc. But we can't, not while Dr. Oliver's still out there."
Janet sent Carter an imploring look, but the Ranger sighed. "It's no use. You won't be able to change their minds. I've been where they are, and no one could get me to stand down, either."
Janet and Sam shared hapless glances, but relented. "Fine. But if you show any signs of further injury –"
"- You'll ties us to the bed, yeah, we got it," Conner said, hopping down from the bed. "Awesome, I'm starving."
Kira rolled her eyes. "You're always hungry."
"Dude, after the shitty food the Ivizi gave us, even military rations are like gourmet food."
Sam laughed. "Don't worry, the mess hall isn't quite that bad."
Ethan impatiently diverted Sam's attention back to himself. "Alright, so your servers – they must require massive cooling, right? At least a couple levels…"
Sam grinned and nodded. "Actually, we use…"
Tommy shoved Dana's hand away as she came at him with a syringe. Nazor looked up from the documents he was writing warily.
"I've already got one chemical interfering with the Power in me, I don't need another one in the mix."
Dana looked angrily at Nazor while Angela shook her head. "Your entire body is in stasis, Tommy – you're essentially dead, only kept animated and aware by the Power."
Nazor paled and Tommy chuckled weakly. "Don't let Trent hear you say that. I'm pretty sure he threatened to annihilate the Ivizi if anything happened to me."
"He did," Nazor admitted, "And probably the Rathi, too."
"I see your kids inherited your bloodthirstiness."
Tommy blinked up at Dana innocently.
The Pink Ranger huffed. "Alright, Commander, if you won't let us treat you, explain to me what your plan is for this treaty."
Nazor looked at him curiously. "Commander?"
"Commander of Earth's Ranger Corps," Tommy replied.
"Then your Red Ranger was right – what we did would constitute an act of war!" Nazor looked between the Rangers, horrified. "And you're still willing to help us?"
Dana's stern expression softened and Tommy reached out to grasp Nazor's hand with a small smile. "We're Power Rangers, Nazor. This is what we do."
"Would you guys happen to have some kind of intern program?" Ethan asked hopefully. "Just for, like, a few weeks during the summer?"
"Sorry, Ethan, but I don't think we have the right security clearance," Kira teased.
"Can we get the right security clearance?" Ethan asked Carter, eyes wide and pleading.
Carter's eyes widened and Trent snorted. "That might work if Conner wasn't snapping at every soldier in the place."
"Aren't you supposed to be keeping him in line?" Jack asked Carter, looking down the corridor to see Conner lecturing an airman on the importance of keeping a weapon well cleaned at all times, even indoors.
"I'm just here to make sure he and General McKnight don't kill each other," Carter replied, "The rest is all on Tommy."
"Who is conveniently off-world," Jack finished, "Great."
"Army Boy'll calm down when his Dad gets here," Ethan replied dismissively, "You met the Nox, right? Short guys with flowers in their hair?"
"You've met the Nox?" Sam asked.
Ethan shook his head. "Heard of them. Dr. O said they don't like the Power Rangers very much."
Sam's expression was surprised. "Really? I thought the Nox liked everyone."
"It's probably because the Power is meant to fight. It's the Rangers themselves who are supposed to spread peace."
"You're like UN peacekeeping troops."
"And occasionally peacebuilding," Conner added, coming up behind them, "Dr. Oliver knows this stuff way better than we do, but he told us the basics – Protectorate of the Four Great Races, Unaligned Worlds, Power Coalition, stay away from the Nox because they don't like us, stay away from the Huaun Void because everyone there is batshit crazy and will try to kill you, level classifications within the Coalition…"
"I had no idea there were others on Earth with so much knowledge about aliens."
"Power Rangers, especially those that interact with anyone outside Earth, are automatically bound by the laws of the Coalition," Carter explained, "There's a lot of red tape to go through before we can disseminate this kind of information freely on a planet as young as ours."
"You'd be surprised how often we hear that," Jack muttered.
Trent shrugged. "The Universe is pretty much limitless. There's no way Earth is the most advanced planet out there; we're, like, teenage equivalents. And dude, we fight over the dumbest stuff. America might have military hegemony over half the planet – mmph!"
"Trent," Kira cut in with a tight smile, covering her boyfriend's mouth with her hand, "Do not insult the American military when we are in an American military base no one even knows about – And if you even think about licking my hand, you'll be sleeping on the couch for a week."
Trent pouted, and Sam and Jack bit down on their smiles.
"Anyway," Ethan pressed, "Ignore the lovebirds – stargates."
"We've got fifteen teams," Sam explained, "Some specialise, like SG-9, who specialises in diplomacy. Our mandate is to gather allies and technology to help fight the Goa'uld."
"You mentioned those guys before, who are they?"
"Parasitic little snakeheads," Jack replied, "Infest humans and take over their bodies."
The teens all looked at each other with identical expressions of disgust. "Let me guess," Conner said dryly, "They want to take over the Universe?"
"How exactly did you even get the Rathi to agree to this?" Dana asked as the Rathi Commander stormed away.
Tommy looked innocent. "I asked politely."
Nazor and the Rathi diplomat snorted. "You threatened to blow them out of the sky."
Dana shook her head. "Your diplomacy training took well."
Tommy smiled sharply, gesturing to his red tattoos. "At this point, they'll let me do whatever I want." He nodded towards the Rathi diplomat. "Akael, I think we should start laying down the groundwork while your Commander cools off."
Akael nodded. "Of course."
"Conner, the General's here."
Conner looked up at Carter from where Trent had him pinned down on the sparring mat.
"You guys don't have a way to rewind time, do you?" Conner muttered unhappily.
Trent helped him up. "Come on, man. The sooner you get this done, the sooner we can get Dr. O back."
Conner grunted as he stood. "Let's get this over with."
General McKnight was standing at the head of the briefing table along with General Hammond.
Conner gave him a plastic smile. "Hi, Dad."
The General stifled a longsuffering sigh. "Conner –"
"The Commander of Earth's Power Ranger Corps requested Lightspeed's assistance in brokering a peace treaty between the Ivizi paramilitary forces –"
Carter stood to attention beside Conner, diverting the General's focus enough for Conner to continue brusquely, "- and the regnant Rathi Clan in the nation of Anahari, of the planet Senn, designated P3X-477 by Stargate Command."
The General looked at his son for a long moment, lips pinching at the corners. "Very well. Lightspeed is not in the habit of leaving its men out in the cold."
Conner's composure snapped. "Since when?!"
"Conner!" the General warned sharply, as Carter shifted to intervene.
"No, let me clarify," Conner sneered. "Carter, I get – he would die before letting anything touch his team. But you? You left your own son to die in the middle of China, because, what was it, again? 'The United States does not negotiate with terrorists.'"
"Conner, that is enough!" General McKnight snapped. "This is not a discussion I will have here."
"No, of course not," Conner spat, "You wouldn't want your colleagues finding out what kind of person you really are."
"You may be angry, Conner, but this disrespect –"
"You're the one who taught me – respect has to be earned."
Carter put his hand on Conner's shoulder. "I can take over the debrief."
Conner nodded curtly. "Yeah, I'm done here."
He turned on his heel and stormed away.
"Dads are dicks."
Janet looked at her patient mildly. "That doesn't tell me how you managed to break your arm."
Conner slumped on the bed and shrugged mulishly.
"He picked a fight with a wall," Trent responded bluntly from his seat beside the bed.
"And lost, by the looks of it," Daniel commented, sitting up in his own bed.
"It'll heal soon enough."
Janet looked unimpressed. "As I recall, Dr. Fairweather-Rawlings expressly told you not to do anything that would draw on the Power any further."
"That may very well need surgery."
"What?!" Conner squawked, "It's a broken bone!"
"And the break could affect your tendons and muscle development if not treated appropriately. Now keep ice on there while I get a cast ready."
Conner groaned. "Dr. O is going to kill me."
"Dana's going to kill you worse," Trent offered.
Conner shot him a dirty look.
"You really don't like your Dad, do you?" Daniel asked from the next bed over.
Conner scowled darkly, glaring a hole into the sheets. "My brother, he's in… special forces. Sort of. Super classified. Anyway, he's out in the field, in China, and he and his team get ambushed. Team gets slaughtered, but they put up a Hell of a fight. Enemy leader sends the army a message – the US surrenders, or they kill Eric and broadcast the execution everywhere."
Conner stared at the bed, his eyes full and bright, seemingly unaware of Trent's supportive hand at his elbow.
"They had a sword to his neck," the Red Ranger continued, "They drew blood, as if he wasn't beat to Hell enough already. The Rangers saved him – but when I looked in his eyes, all I could see was that he was scared and hurt and wondering what he did to fuck up so badly that his own father wouldn't come for him."
"It wasn't like that, Conner," General McKnight said from the door.
The teens immediately stood. "It wasn't?" Conner hissed viciously, "Then please, tell me what it was like, because, in case you missed it, I am the only person on the planet who can tell what was going through my twin brother's head that day."
Daniel felt his blood chill. Nineteen. Eric, like Conner, was only nineteen.
Trent rolled his eyes and sat back down, facing Daniel. "We need popcorn for this."
"Does this happen a lot?" Daniel asked quietly as Conner sniped at his father.
"More so recently. It wasn't bad when we were active Rangers, but then Eric got hurt and Conner had a meltdown – psychic twin bond thing – so bad that Conner was in the hospital for a few days and his Mom had to take off work. Mr. McKnight never visited Eric in the hospital, and I don't even think he knows Conner was there, too."
"Everyone knows I don't give a rat's ass about your opinion," they heard Conner say, "But Eric? For some godforsaken reason, all he has ever wanted is your approval, and when it mattered most, you left him to rot."
"I knew the Rangers would intervene," General McKnight countered stridently, "You have no idea the delicate position I was in – we have protocols for a reason-"
"Fuck your protocol, he's your firstborn son!"
Trent shrugged as Conner began another tirade. "What can you do? Dads were put on this Earth to fuck over their children."
"You, too?" Daniel asked wryly, shifting on the bed.
"Oh, my Dad blows Conner's out of the water on the douchebag scale," Trent replied with a smirk. "Trust me, our entire team is just a bundle of Daddy issues. You?"
Daniel shook his head. "My parents died when I was young."
Trent winced. "Crap, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have – Conner, your hand!"
Conner swore as he unclenched the fist of his broken arm almost as soon as he made it.
"Conner, you should wait for Dr. Fraiser –"
"Oh, now you care about my wellbeing –"
"Mr. McKnight," Trent cut in, standing, "It's getting close to the time for us to head out. Dr. Fairweather-Rawlings said she wanted a final check of everyone's vitals before we left, and General Hammond and Colonel O'Neill are already down there."
The deliberate slight wasn't lost on the General, but he merely scowled. "Get that arm looked at, Conner."
Conner collapsed back against his pillows as soon as his father left. "Son of a bitch."
Trent grasped his leader's shoulder in comfort, and Conner placed his good hand on top of it. "Thanks, Trent."
Trent smiled. "What are friends for?"
"That is not a sacrifice the Rathi are prepared to make," one of the Rathi diplomats protested officiously.
Tommy's tattoos turned a few shades lighter as his eyes flickered red. "It's a sacrifice the Rathi need to make," Tommy replied with false mildness, "If there's going to be any kind of lasting peace and security for the people of Anahari."
The delegates scowled, but resumed conversation with SG-1 and the Ivizi diplomats. Carter and Tommy read through Nazor's proposal as Conner and Sam tried to clarify another one of the treaty's points to another delegate.
Kira leaned over to Dana and Dr. Fairweather. "What happens when Dr. O's tattoos hit white?"
"Then we get Conner and Trent out of here before they try to kill anyone," Dana replied, watching the other Rangers like a hawk.
"And Dr. O?"
Angela glanced at the teen sidelong. She knew Tommy hadn't gone into the specifics of his tattoos, how each level – black, red, white, and green – marked how much beyond the human body's limit of Power he was using, and how much easier it was to draw on the Power the further he got, but Kira was a smart girl. She had to have some inkling.
"Pray he doesn't hit green before the treaty is solidified."
The negotiations had been going for hours. SG-9, Power Rangers, SG-1, Lightspeed, Rathi, Ivizi, and even recently arrived Eltaran mediators had been negotiating the boundaries and powers of the new government. It was painstaking work, with sleeves rolled up, hair tied back, and chairs abandoned for perches against tables and consoles. Trent, Ethan, SG-1, and several soldiers were going over weapons systems to see which would need to be disabled, and which could be incorporated into the new government.
And with every flash of Power Tommy used to enforce his mediation, the closer he marched to death.
Three days later, SG-1 and the Dino Thunder Rangers stumbled out of Earth's stargate, the last to leave after the Rathi-Ivizi peace treaty had been finalised. Teal'c supported Tommy, whose eyes were glassy, and whose tattoos where almost completely white. Conner and Ethan leaned against Jack, while an exhausted Daniel and Kira helped each other walk, and Sam guided Trent.
"I'm glad you came, Daniel," Tommy said with a tired smile, "We wouldn't have gotten done so quickly without you."
"Couldn't let you guys have all the excitement," Daniel replied with a weak grin.
"Alright, kids, you can clap yourselves on the back later – now we face the esteemed Drs. Fraiser, Fairweather-Rawlings, and Grayson, with an entire hospital staff behind them…"
"Welcome back, SG-1," Hammond greeted with a smile.
"We're in so much trouble, aren't we?" Ethan despaired.
Dana's expression was forbidding. "Oh, you're going to be lucky if you get out of bed within a week."
The teens all groaned, and Tommy took that as his cue to start coughing up blood.
Teal'c was the only one to hear Tommy say softly "At least I get to die on my own soil" before he collapsed.
" – which is super dumb, because Rob Liefeld is a hack and literally no one thinks he's a good artist, but apparently Marvel's run by morons, because they decided to hire him to work on Captain America –"
"Weren't you telling me this a month ago?" Tommy mumbled faintly, and Trent's diatribe ground to a halt.
Tommy opened his eyes, blinking as they adjusted to the light of the infirmary. Trent and Daniel were sitting on opposite sides of his bed. "Hey."
"Take it easy," Daniel said as Tommy tried to sit up, "You've been out for nearly two days."
"That explains why I feel like a tank ran over me," Tommy replied with a grimace.
"And, y'know, because you had about three times the amount of Power the human body can withstand running through you," Trent added bluntly.
"Angela and Dana told you about that, hunh?"
"Oh yeah. You're in for a lot of lectures, Doc."
"I bet," Tommy said with a groan, shifting up slightly and gratefully accepting the cup of water Daniel handed him. "So where's everyone else?"
"Conner's fighting with his Dad again," Trent ticked off, "He'd have thrown his cast at him if Carter hadn't taken it away. Ethan's following Captain Carter around like a lovesick puppy and trying to get General Hammond to authorize an internship program. Kira's downstairs getting food, and the doctors are around… somewhere. That left me and Dr. Jackson to keep watch over you."
Tommy smiled gratefully. "Thank you."
Trent nodded and stood. "I'm gonna go let the others know. You guys can do your, as Conner calls it, 'old fossil thing.'"
Tommy laughed as Trent darted away with a grin, and Daniel shook his head. "'Old fossil thing?'"
Tommy grinned, and Daniel noted that it made him look much younger. "Conner likes to think that because I study dinosaur fossils, I must have been alive when the dinosaurs were."
Daniel snorted. "I knew some undergrads like that when I was working on my thesis."
"How'd you get into archaeology?"
"My parents, really. They were archaeologists as well, and I spent my childhood going with them on their digs. It's what spawned my love of Egypt, which is how I got involved with the stargate program to begin with – that's where Earth's stargate was first found. What about you? You did promise me stories," Daniel teased.
Tommy laughed again. "I did. Well, given all this-" – Tommy gestured to the IVs and machines around him – "- I think it's safe to say there'll be plenty of time for that."
Janet and Angela appeared at the far end of the infirmary, and Tommy sank back against his pillows, shaking his head. "You know, getting kidnapped, tortured, mediating a peace treaty, and almost dying…" The veteran Ranger grinned. "On the whole, not a bad way to celebrate my birthday."
A/N: And there we have it! Just another routine mission, right guys?
The Power Coalition and Tommy's tattoos as a gauge for how much Power he's using, Tommy's rank as Commander, the Power dampener chemicals... all those are my creations, and hopefully I explained them well enough in the story without detracting from the overall flow. Eric McKnight is still a ninja, as explained in Chapter 5 of Dino Thunder: The Legacy of Tommy Oliver, and is doing super secret ninja things in other countries on behalf of the Ninja Academies and the US government.