Disclaimer: 'Power Rangers' (all incarnations) are property of 'Saban', who are in some strange way related to Disney, who run the show on ABC. No infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This will be a Dino Thunder fic, as I stated in the summary, however, the first two chapters are set during 'Forever Red' and are slightly AU depending on how you view the timeline in that episode. This entire story will be slightly AU. I appreciate comments and constructive criticism. And please, please tell me if I have something that is 'past' cannon facts or technical terms that are wrong! Flames will be used to roast marshmallows. So let me know what you think-- should I continue or not? On with the story...
ROARING ON THE WIND
By Etcetera Kit
Chapter One: the Memories Smolder
The mission had been successful. For that much, he was grateful. He was also grateful that the other red rangers had joined the mission without so much as blinking an eye. The two red rangers not on Earth managed to arrive just when they were desperately needed. Then why did Tommy Oliver feel so depressed?
The trip back from the moon would only take a few hours if they used the maximum speed that the ship could (and they had when going to the moon.) On the return trip they had decided to take the ship at a lower speed, causing the trip to last overnight and into the next morning. That had required everyone to claim quarters. The only rooms made up were in the same wing and everyone had to share a room since there were not enough individual rooms made up. And now that he thought about it, it was only fair that they all share a room. There were nine of them on the ship (Aurico had opted to go straight back to Aquitar after the battle and had borrowed Leo's Jet Jammer.) The nine people on the ship translated into three to a room.
But no one was in their room now. Everyone was sitting around the round table in the Ready Room with several bowls of popcorn and lots of cans of soda. (The beverage of choice would have been beer, but none had been stocked on the ship. Andros had originally thought it was going to be a day mission and stocked the food accordingly. That meant nothing social like beer. How the popcorn got to be there no one really knew.)
He looked around the table, realizing that this would probably be the last time he saw many of these men. To his left sat Andros. He was the Red Space Ranger and was the only one of the group not originally from Earth—he was from KO 35. And he looked, as Cole had put it, like a Legolas wannabe. Tommy hadn't bothered to point out that Andros had looked like that long before Legolas and the Lord of the Rings movies. It was probably better to let Cole have his illusions. Andros and his wife, Ashley, had settled in Angel Grove, where Ashley hailed from.
To the left of Andros sat Leo Corbett. Leo was the Lost Galaxy Red Ranger and had lived the past three years on the space colony, Terra Venture. However, when he was contacted about the mission, he and his wife, Kendrix, had decided to move back to Earth. She was supposed to take her Jet Jammer and meet them in the morning. Since they didn't have a house yet (oddly enough they had jobs), they were going to stay with Jason until they found a place. Since Jason lived in Galveston, Texas and they wanted to live in Seabrook, it made sense since Seabrook was ten minutes from Galveston.
Next to Leo was Carter Grayson. He was the Lightspeed Rescue Red Ranger and still lived in Mariner Bay on the East Coast where he had been a ranger. According to Leo and Andros, he was married to a woman named Dana and they had a son who was just over a year old. Dana had also just found out she was pregnant again. He still worked as a firefighter like he had when becoming a ranger although now he was something like second in command at the fire station. He had also freely admitted earlier to being captain of the basketball team in high school.
Those three had met when one set of rangers came to help another out. The Space Rangers had helped the Lost Galaxy Rangers defeat the Psycho Rangers once and for all. That had been how Andros and Leo met. A year later, the Lost Galaxy Rangers helped the Lightspeed Rescue Rangers rid the world of Trakeena for eternity. Consequently, Leo and Carter met. If Tommy was to assume things rationally, Carter and Andros met through Leo. They also made one of the trios of roommates.
Ironically enough the next three men around the table were the next trio of roommates—Cole Evans, TJ Johnson and Eric Myers. Cole was the current red ranger from a team called Wild Force. He was also the youngest of the group, causing some of the older members of the group to call him things like 'kid' and 'sport.' However, he just took it all in stride. Currently, he didn't have a girlfriend and he hailed from Turtle Cove. That city was not too far from Mariner Bay although Carter and Cole had never seen each other before in their lives. Cole also worked at a vet's office during the day helping with the animals and filing.
TJ Johnson had been the Turbo Red Ranger, the one who replaced him. Later, he became the Blue Space Ranger. He had known Andros, Leo and himself before ever agreeing to come on the mission. He had gone back to Angel Grove after the Space Rangers retired from being rangers. Tommy was fairly certain that he worked at a garage during the day, fulfilling his love of cars. Like Cole, he didn't have a girlfriend and had spent a lot of the trip to the moon reminiscing with Andros while Cole gazed at them openmouthed. TJ was also one of the only ones not to call Cole any of the diminutives.
Eric Myers completed that trio. What made him and Wes split up for the room assignments had Tommy baffled. Clearly, he and Wes were like brothers, they had even arrived together for the mission. He lived in Silver Hills where he remained a Silver Guardian. What Eric's past was had remained unclear. He had made it clear that he didn't have a girlfriend, giving those three something in common. He had been the Quantum Ranger, the sixth Time Force Ranger, and he had been invited on the mission since his uniform was black where Wes' was white and it was red.
Finally, there were the last trio of roomies, himself, Jason Scott and Wesley Collins. He didn't know much about Wes other than the fact that he was the Red Time Force Ranger, he lived in Silver Hills and worked as a Silver Guardian and he and Eric were the only Time Force Rangers from the present. According to Eric's somewhat cryptic remark, he was 'nursing a broken heart.' Tommy had no idea what that was supposed to mean and didn't really feel like grilling Wes about it. If he wanted to talk about it, he would. He and Jason were the two who would understand—they had pretty bitter break-ups in their past, girls they were still in love with, but the relationship was over. And there wasn't must he didn't know about Jason…
It was strange how they had split themselves. The three who happened to be married in one room… the three who were single in one room… and the three who were still in love with their ex-girlfriends in one room. Ironic…
"We've been talking about it and decided that we need a distress signal."
Tommy snapped to attention at the sound of Carter's voice. The Lightspeed Ranger was indicating Leo and Andros in addition to himself. A distress signal? What was he talking about?
"Why?" Cole asked.
"In case we need each other," Andros picked up the thread. "If there's an emergency and you need reinforcements or moral support or something."
"Or man power in a fight," Leo added.
"What kind of situations are we talking about here?" TJ asked. "I mean how trivial can it be to activate something like that?"
"As trivial as you want," Carter replied. "I mean if you just need a pick-me-up or if you need help for a certain task or want guests at a ceremony or something…" He paused. "Or if your wife is having her first baby," he added blandly. Andros flushed slightly. Tommy stared at him for a minute, wondering if there was something he needed to share with the group.
They were all silent for a moment. Eric nodded. "I like it," he said. "It'd be a good support system outside your normal realm of companions."
"But how would we make it work practically?" Wes countered.
"Already thought of that," Andros said. Tommy noticed that the color in his cheeks had subsided for now.
"We'd have a phone tree," Leo offered.
Carter groaned. "Don't say 'phone tree.' It sounds too much like a PTA term and my son isn't old enough for that yet!"
"Okay, phone circle," Leo amended.
Tommy grinned. Within five minutes, they had the 'phone circle' finalized and had exchanged phone numbers and programmed them into their cell phones. The circle was actually fairly simple. It could start anywhere, but the person who started it would know when the message got to everyone when the person above them called. And if any of them remembered their Power Rangers history, the order the circle went in was dead easy to remember. First on the list was Jason, followed by Tommy. After Tommy came TJ then Andros. Andros then called Leo who passed the message onto Carter. From Carter, it went to Wes then Eric and finally, Cole. If Jason activated the circle, then Cole called Jason and let him know the message got through.
After more time of talking and remembering old days, the popcorn bowls were finally empty and they all decided to turn in for the night. As Tommy headed down the corridor to his room, he suddenly didn't feel so depressed. They all wanted to keep in touch. And that could mean all the difference in the world.
Andros lay on his stomach on his bed, pretending to read a book. However, he was really eavesdropping on Carter and the conversation via cell phone he was having with his wife. A booster signal on the ship allowed their cell phones to work from the ship. Leo was sitting on the top bunk, not even trying to disguise the fact that he was listening in.
The rooms they were using were designed for three people. One bed was pushed up against the wall next to the door, while a bunk bed was on the wall opposite the door. A dresser was next to the bunk bed—no closet since officers on space missions had to pack light. A tiny bathroom was in the corner between the beds, barely the size of a small closet, the thing had a shower, toilet and sink crammed in there and hidden by a sliding door.
The agitated conversation Carter was having with his wife out in the hallway right outside their door was nothing like the subdued conversation Leo had had with his wife just minutes earlier. Andros had talked to Ashley before the impromptu 'party' in the Ready Room.
"No! Dana… we will be in tomorrow morning and the group is going out to lunch before we head home… Yes, our spouses are invited… I told you before I left that this mission could take this long… No, there are no women on the ship… DANA! Just be at the base at ten-thirty tomorrow morning… ask the girls next door, Cory likes them… Okay… I love you too… Bye."
Leo was now shaking with silent laughter. Andros felt inclined to smile himself. Carter walked back into the room, looking like he wanted to throw his cell phone at the wall. The firefighter ended up settling for falling onto his bed and placing a well-aimed punch into his pillow.
"Problems in paradise?" Leo asked flippantly.
"I hate it when she's pregnant!" Carter muttered. "She goes neurotic!"
"What happened?" Andros asked, mildly interested now.
"Oh, the usual- 'you didn't tell me the mission could last this long' when I distinctly remember that I did. Then the whole 'are there other women on the ship' and then 'I can't find a sitter for Cory that fast." Carter growled. "Just ask the girls next door! Those girls always want money and argue over who's going to come babysit!"
"The girls next door?" Andros questioned.
"My next door neighbors are an older couple with five daughters who range in age from eleven to seventeen. And Cory adores those girls."
"So, no problem," Leo stated.
"Not to a pregnant woman."
Leo howled with laughter. Carter punched the bottom of the top bunk, causing Leo to stop laughing and hang onto the side rail for dear life. That antic made Andros start laughing, although Carter misplaced the reason for his laughter.
"Just you two wait," he muttered. "Sooner or later, you guys will have kids too and won't be laughing at me about this! You'll know it's nothing to laugh about!"
"I think I'll find out sooner," Andros replied softly.
That froze his roommates. Carter had been about to punch the bottom of the top bunk again and Leo had been looking like he was seriously regretting choosing the top bunk because Carter was making it uncomfortable.
"Ashley's pregnant?" Leo asked.
Andros nodded. "How far along is she?" Carter added.
"About four months,"
"Why the hell didn't you tell us!" Leo said loudly, jumping easily out of the top bunk and launching himself on Andros, succeeding in getting him a headlock.
"Congrats, man!" Carter added.
"Get off me!" Andros yelled at Leo, who backed off, but didn't get back in bed.
"I thought something was up," Carter said shaking a finger at Andros. "But I wasn't sure what so I kept my mouth shut."
"Yeah well…" Andros said, suddenly feeling stupid for not being able to tell his friends sooner. "I think we need to get to sleep."
Leo looked down at his wrist, like he once had a watch and lost it recently. "No watch," he shrugged.
Carter looked down at his watch. "It's almost one a.m." He gave Leo a withering look. "You wouldn't have your head if it wasn't attached to your shoulders!"
"Hey!" Leo protested. "I left it on Terra Venture. Kendrix is supposed to bring it tomorrow."
"Yeah, she runs your life," Andros said under his breath.
Leo glared at him as he vaulted back into the top bunk. "She does not."
"Right," Andros muttered and reached for the manual light switch. He flipped it and the room was immersed in darkness.
"Stop kicking my bed," Leo groaned.
"Stop rolling over and making the bunk shake," Carter replied.
"Good night guys!" Andros said loudly.
Silence fell over the room. Soon the only sound was of the three of them breathing evenly.
Cole snuggled into the blankets on his top bunk of the room he, TJ and Eric shared. Eric was in the bottom bunk below him and TJ was in the other bed across the room. He didn't know about the others, but he still had way too much adrenaline pumping through his body to sleep. They had decided about ten minutes after getting to their room to turn in for the night. However, he still found himself tossing and turning, trying to sleep. It was fruitless. He just wasn't tired yet and he always had trouble sleeping in a strange place.
"Stop turning so much," came Eric's sleepy voice from somewhere below him. "You're making the whole bunk shake."
"Sorry. I can't sleep," Cole apologized.
"What are you guys doing still up?" TJ asked groggily.
"Cole can't sleep," Eric answered.
"Count backwards from 1000," TJ suggested. "Always put me right to sleep when I couldn't back in grade school."
"I don't know if he's smart enough for that."
"Hey!" Cole grabbed his pillow and took a swing at Eric, missing completely in the dark.
"Better not do that again, I'll steal your pillow," Eric threatened. "I could use another pillow too,"
Cole decided that it would be in his best interest to keep his pillow confined to his bed since he rather liked the idea of keeping it and not surrendering it to Eric.
"What's on your mind, kid?" Eric asked.
"Nothing," he lied.
"Oh come on, there must be something if you can't sleep."
"I don't know… I was just thinking… will I ever be able to be as good a ranger as all of you guys were?"
Eric snorted. "Kid, all of us had our moments where we were the worst rangers ever invented and had to have the rest of our team put us in line."
"Being the red ranger isn't about being in charge," TJ added. "Sure you're a leader, but there's a big difference between being a leader and being in charge. Just lead to the best of your ability and the others will respect you for that."
"It's just so hard sometimes."
"Kid, nothing in life worth having is easy."
Tommy was wondering how he somehow ended up with the top bunk. He supposed that being called 'the greatest ranger ever' didn't give him any advantage when it came to claiming beds. Wes had called the bed by the door and Jason had grabbed the bottom bunk before he even had time to open his mouth. The three of them had started talking after they settled into their beds, but had not yet turned out the lights. Currently, the conversation was at the topic of girlfriends.
"Me and Emily broke up a couple years ago," Jason was saying. "I never found anyone after her and here I am today."
"Living the life of a beach bum," Tommy muttered.
"You should see me crush beer cans on my head," Jason declared proudly.
"It wasn't a compliment."
Wes just laughed. Tommy was inclined to agree with him. Jason was smarter than his persona gave him credit for.
"How about you, bro?" Jason asked, hitting the bottom of the top bunk to indicate that he meant Tommy to go next.
Tommy felt like glaring at him. "Me and Kat broke up back in high school."
"Anyone in college? I hear you spend a lot of time with a tech girl," Jason wheedled.
"That's all right," Jason shrugged. "You were never really in love with Kat, you just subbed her for Kimberly when she dumped you. You're still in love with Kim."
Wes perked up. "Who's Kimberly?" he asked.
"My girlfriend from high school," Tommy answered sullenly, realizing that the conversation was heading to a place he didn't want to go. "She went off to the Pan Globals and wrote me a letter, saying it was over."
"Would it make you feel any better to know she's still in love with you?"
Tommy nearly fell off the top bunk. What in the world was Jason saying? Kimberly, the one woman he had been madly in love and continued to love even after she dumped him and he had no reason to, still harbored feelings for him. He needed to sort this out. Torn between a need to get the conversation off of him and a need to grill Jason, he chose the former.
"So how about you, Wes? Any old flames?"
Wes sighed. "Yes. Jen… she was the Pink Time Force Ranger… she had been engaged to one of my future descendents. He helped them get back to the proper time and she dumped him for me. She had thought he was dead… I made her go back to her correct time. She couldn't stay here…"
"But she would have," Jason said softly.
"Yes," Wes replied hoarsely. "She would have."
"Maybe you can go back and get her?" Tommy suggested.
"No." He shook his head. "I can't. And if I could, I wouldn't. She doesn't belong in our time and I don't belong in hers." He paused. "I just wish I could talk to her somehow."
"I guess they don't send snail mail forward in time," Jason replied.
Wes gave a mournful laugh. "I wish."
"Well," Jason said in a falsely hearty voice. "I think this conversation needs to rest for a while before we bring it up again."
Tommy and Wes agreed and they all crawled into their beds. Wes turned off the manual light switch and the room became dark.
Kimberly… why did you break up with me if you still loved me? It didn't have to end like that. I would not have cheated on you with Kat, no matter how much she hit on me. I had the strength to wait for you, you know that. Why? I loved you so much and suddenly it didn't seem to matter. Was there even another guy like you said in that damn letter! Why do I still love you when I know I shouldn't?He didn't know how long it had been when he heard Jason's even breathing, indicating that he was asleep. There was no noise coming from the direction of Wes. He took some small comfort in knowing that Wes couldn't sleep either.
To Be Continued...