Disclaimer: 'Power Rangers' (all incarnations) belong to BVE, who are related to Disney. No infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This is an idea I had when SPD was announced as the newest incarnation. It was going to be tied to SPD, but that just didn't work since SPD is set fifteen years in the future. So it's set in the present day. The initial five recruits are at least named in this chapter. I'd like honest opinions on this-- should I continue or not? Flames, as per usual, will be used to roast marshmallows for s'mores. On with the show...
By Etcetera Kit
Part One: On the Run
Chapter One: Lateral Shifts
Eric Myers stared at the memo with a mixture of apprehension and anticipation. A memo, summoning him to Mr. Collins' office, was either entirely good or entirely bad. Nothing fell in between with the millionaire who owned Bio-Lab and the Silver Guardians and signed his paychecks. He racked his brain to think of something that he had done that could be classified in the 'bad' category. Nothing came up. Of course, that still didn't set him home free on the assumption that the meeting was about something 'good.' He let out a long breath and sat back in his chair behind his desk.
He hated not knowing what was going on.
Wes Collins, his partner, was always quick to tell him that he was just a control freak and couldn't stand not being in charge. Some water was held in that claim, but not much. He was the co-commander of the Silver Guardians. He had to know what was going on at all times—it was a part of his job! It was what those paychecks on the fifteenth and last day of every month meant. He was in charge.
There were times he imagined just packing up and leaving Silver Hills, like he had just packed up and left so many towns before it. There was only one thing tying him here and it could be summed up in two words—Power Rangers. So, the methods surrounding his possession of the quantum morpher were sketchy at best, but he had found himself thrust onto a team with five others who already functioned as a team. The four rangers from the future had gone back and he found himself left with Wes. Some things had changed… others had remained the same… and he had decided to stay in Silver Hills.
Now there was this memo.
He glanced at the clock on the wall of his office, and then double-checked it against the watch on his right wrist. He had thirty minutes until the meeting. That gave him enough time to get some badly needed paperwork started on. His almond-shaped black eyes glanced to his left wrist where his morpher was. That seemingly small and insignificant device had been the catalyst that vaulted him from a peon guardian to commander. He had been an ambitious career climber and had been willing to use any means to get it. Now, he had everything he wanted, so he wasn't sure if he would resort to the same methods, assuming that he was put at the bottom of the heap again.
His entire life had revolved around becoming a ranger. He and Wes had inadvertently discovered the team of rangers that followed them—the Wild Force Rangers. That incident in and of itself had been enough to change his life. Wes argued that it had changed something for good. He begged to differ. Becoming briefly involved with a very difficult woman had been nothing but a headache. God, she had been beautiful, but the pair of them had been entirely too much alike. A long term relationship would have brought nothing but strife. He just wanted to find a woman he respected to settle down with. None of that happened… his break-up with Taylor Earhardt had been more than enough reason to give up on the relationship front for some time…
Glancing up, he realized that the clock hands had moved quit a bit since he went off into his reverie. Crap. He needed to leave now. Standing up, he cast a withering glance to the paperwork and headed out of his office, down the hall towards the Bio-Lab building where Mr. Collins held court.
"Hey, Commander!" the secretary said as he entered the lobby through a side door. "Mr. Collins is waiting for you."
Eric glanced at his watch. According to the atomic clock, he was three minutes early. His heart began to hammer in his chest. All of the signs surrounding this pointed to something bad. He walked down the hall and knocked softly on the door to Mr. Collins' office.
"Come in!" his boss called.
Taking a deep breath and adopting a neutral expression, Eric pushed open the door and walked into the office. Mr. Collins looked up when he entered.
"Eric!" he said warmly. "Have a seat." He pointed a pen at the cushy leather chairs sitting in front of the huge desk.
Eric took a seat, trying to look as respectful as possible.
Mr. Collins finished signing a document and closed the dossier it was in, setting the pen down on the desk. "I'm going to get right to the point," the man said. "You are aware that I have started a small bond agency for the pending court appearances that happen through the Silver Guardians."
"Yes, sir." In other words, relatives and family members posted the bail for new inmates through Collins, so that he or she could sleep in his own bed while awaiting a court appearance. This was great, except for the fact that some people didn't appear in court. The Silver Guardians had been given the task of bringing these people in.
"I'm forming a small squad of fugitive apprehension agents," he continued. "The sole purpose of this squad is to bring in the growing number of FTAs that the bond agency is receiving."
'FTA' stood for 'failure to appear,' It meant the people who didn't show in court. 'Fugitive apprehension agent' was just a fancy term for a bounty hunter. Most of the time, bounty hunters received a small percentage of the bond money. However, he had a feeling that regular paychecks would be involved if Collins were in charge.
"I'd like you to act as a member of the squad."
Eric frowned. "Sir?"
Mr. Collins nodded. "I realize that you would be losing your command position, but the benefits would be greater. My companies own a series of townhouses and apartments in town. I'm offering a townhouse for the squad's use—it would be easier than having you commute since your schedule would be hard to mold around 'nine to five.' Your pay would remain the same, but that would now exclude rent and utilities and groceries."
Eric raised an eyebrow. Collins must have been losing a lot of money over these FTAs in order to be that generous. He was already generous with the benefits he offered his employees, but to fund a squad to that extent? It was like giving them twice again the salary. It was a tempting offer—and it would test his theory about what he would now do. He didn't imagine that he would feel the need to be in charge since bounty hunters had a lot of leeway when doing apprehensions anyways. A command figure would organize the squad into tasks and the squad members would perform the tasks independently.
"The squad could use a member with your expertise."
Lay it on thick. "Who is the commander, sir?" If Collins was asking him to be a squad member, then that most certainly meant that he already had a commander.
He willed his jaw not to drop. He had heard of Corbett—who hadn't? The man had been second-in-command on Terra Venture. It meant he was a high-ranking commander from the Galactic Space Alliance and would most certainly know what he was doing. How in the world did Collins manage to get him, shuttles from Mirinoi aside? But did he want to leave his command position in order to run down skips?
"I'll do it, sir." It didn't sound like him speaking. Something told him that this could be a great opportunity, but… there was no retracting the words now, no time to think…
"Great. You won't be alone. One of the forensic scientists from Bio-Lab will be joining the squad with you. You've worked with her before—Kendrix Morgan."
His heart stopped hammering and just stopped. Not her… she was nuts. She thought that performing autopsies was the coolest thing in the world. What was he thinking?
Kendrix Morgan sighed as she pulled a duffel bag out of her car and slung it over her shoulder. Four years ago, taking the job offer with Bio-Lab and starting anew on Earth had seemed like a great idea. Once her friends learned that she wasn't dead… well, things had not been the same. A wide canyon had formed between them. They still cared about her, but it was awkward and strained. It had just been better to return to Earth and do work that was something she loved. Her degree in college had been criminal justice with a minor in ecology. The minor had gotten her the job with the GSA and, later, on Terra Venture. Now, she was back to being a forensic scientist and doing the meticulous work that she enjoyed. Autopsies, when she worked with the morticians and doctors, were even fascinating. So much could be learned, confirming that dead men do tell tales.
Collins had asked her to be a part of the fugitive apprehension agent squad. Her field of expertise would help when tracking particularly difficult skips and she had combat training from her time with the GSA. What Collins didn't know about was her past as a Power Ranger—the Pink Galaxy Ranger—and the fact that she had her saber and she could still morph. The Galaxy Rangers had kept their identities a secret. The people of Mirinoi knew who they were and the people of Terra Venture had an idea, but it wasn't the same as putting it on a resume.
She had accepted the offer with the prospect of Mike being her commanding officer again and the cushy benefits. When Mike had been her superior on Terra Venture, she had found that she worked well with him. He was fair and just, making her work easier, because she didn't have to worry about career politics. That aside, Mike was her friend and knew her. He knew her capabilities and strengths, as he knew her weaknesses. It would not be like switching jobs and going to a place where no one knew her.
What she hadn't know when she accepted was that the same offer was being given to the brusque and ill-tempered co-commander of the Silver Guardians. Well, ill-tempered wasn't exactly the word, since he had never been hostile with her. But impatience and anger was always lingering in his eyes. Bluntly, he was not a nice person and was difficult to work with. Kendrix had no idea how his partner put up with him. Now she had to work with Eric Myers, but he was her equal—no longer her superior. This was going to be interesting.
Walking back into the townhouse, she went upstairs to her room and put the bag down on the floor. The rest of her things were already in place. The townhouse was odd, in that it was larger than it appeared. Four bedrooms were upstairs and each was designed to accommodate two people. Two bathrooms, between each pair of rooms, rounded out the upstairs. Kendrix was in the B room. From the configuration, it appeared that the A and B rooms would be females, while the C and D rooms would be males. Simple, but it worked. Eric was in the C room.
Mike had his own room downstairs, where he would share a bathroom with another commanding type, if another joined.
Speaking of Mike… she left the duffel bag on the floor and went out into the hall to the top of the narrow stairs. "What's up?" she asked.
Mike nodded towards the kitchen. "We all need to touch base. Then you can get back to unpacking." He added the last sentence with a smile. Kendrix rolled her eyes and came downstairs; almost embarrassed that he remembered how long it had taken her to settle into her quarters on Terra Venture, only to have it tossed into a tailspin when Maya showed up.
Eric was sitting at the island in the narrow kitchen. Tall stools were placed around the island so that it would be used as a makeshift table, since there was no room elsewhere for such a luxury. The living room was in the front of the house with a sofa, two armchairs, a coffee table and large television stuffed in it. A small room off the front of the house would serve as a control room later, for equipment in the realms of forensics and surveillance. A garage was attached to the outside, since their house was on one end of a row.
Kendrix sat down across from Eric, adjusting her ponytail. His expression was neutral, but she got the intense feeling that he wasn't too crazy about her. She reciprocated that particular feeling. Mike sat between them, at one end of the island.
"Collins put us in charge of recruiting our other two members," Mike said without ceremony. "We get to pick them, but he has the final say."
"He's going to interview them too?" Eric asked.
Mike nodded, shuffling through a pile of papers on the island. "He gave me a bunch of names that he had." He located a piece of paper and pulled it out. "We've got two I'd like to check out. Cameron Wantanabe and Kira Ford," he read off two separate packets.
"How does he find these people?" Kendrix muttered.
"We don't ask these questions," Eric replied, almost flippantly.
"At any rate," Mike said, oblivious to the slight tension in the air. "I've arranged for Cameron Wantanabe to meet one of us in that small diner off of I-5."
"The Greasy Spoon?" Eric asked.
"You know it?"
"Yeah. Great food, nice people, but you don't want to look in the kitchen."
Mike nodded. "All right, Cameron's going to be there at three." He glanced at his watch. "So one of us should get on the road now—any volunteers?"
Eric looked at Kendrix. "You," he said succinctly.
"Me?" she squeaked, looking at Mike for help. "Why?"
"You're a woman, decently attractive and have more charisma than a couple of guys."
"What kind of a reason is that?"
"He's got a point," Mike interrupted. "You send out the signal that the squad is not a lot of guerilla warfare types, wanting to take the law into their own hands." He paused and looked at one of the packets. "This guy would be coming aboard to do the computer-technology side of things. I don't think insinuating that we're all gung-ho would make him likely to join. And we need someone to set up a surveillance system."
Kendrix rolled her eyes. "I can talk to him."
Mike gave her an encouraging smile and handed her the packet on Cameron. "Just talk to him and answer his questions. If he's still interested and you think we can work with him, report that and we'll send him onto Mr. Collins with our blessing."
She nodded and stood up.
"I look out of place at that joint," Eric muttered in an undertone. "Stand out too much. You need to blend into the background."
Kendrix hated to tell him that the only time he wouldn't look out of place was if he were in a line-up with Batman and Rambo. She also didn't appreciate his insinuation that she was invisible, but she kept her remarks to herself. Eventually, they would have to work together and it was better to keep up appearances. Besides, if push came to shove, she'd rather have Eric covering her back than anyone else.
She went upstairs to get her purse, while skimming the information on Cameron Wantanabe.
It was going to be an interesting working dynamic. Mike Corbett was sure of that much as he watched Kendrix study the directions to the diner and then leave the townhouse. He had an idea of the kind of work distribution already. Eric was much more suited to the actual apprehensions, letting others do the tedious surveillance and forensics work, while he came in and handcuffed the skip, dragging the subject to the police station. Kendrix would do much more behind the scenes work, dusting abandoned apartments for fingerprints and other clues to lead them to a missing FTA.
He hoped that the two he had his eye on from the papers Collins' had given him would make the final cut. Cameron Wantanabe had two degrees—a master's in mechanical engineering and a bachelor's in computer programming. He didn't have much of a resume, but he did have the combat skills being a master at some kind of martial arts. He had also spent a year working on advanced weaponry and surveillance techniques and he had the blueprints to prove it. Mike had no doubt that this guy could build a space ship from household appliances.
The other would take more of a challenge when presented to Collins. Kira Ford was a Grammy-award winning musician with absolutely no reason to join a fugitive apprehension squad. She was nineteen and had just graduated from high school. No college and no practical experience… but she did have a strange recommendation letter from her high school science teacher. The teacher—a Doctor Thomas Oliver—had explained that she was proficient in combat skills along with having the ability to engage in undercover activities and help with strategic planning. Mike wasn't sure what all that implied, but he had a gut feeling that she would turn out to be more than just a singer. And, as an added incentive, she had some connections that the others could never hope to have.
And, for the technical issues on Collins' end, he had a roommate for Kendrix and a roommate for Eric. Collins had explained the room usage—he wanted females to be in the A and B rooms, while the males would be in the C and D rooms. He was of an older generation that did not feel co-ed bathroom usage was proper. That also meant that Collins would prefer an eventual co-commander to be male. Of course, Collins had explained that exceptions would be made if a qualified person of the opposite gender turned up. It limited some possibilities, but Mike felt confident that he could work within the confines of it. In all actuality, it wasn't any stranger than some of the GSA guidelines. And Collins was covering his ass with a move like that.
Eric was giving him a scrutinizing look. "Are we going to look into the other?"
Mike looked at the former Silver Guardian, wondering what his reasons for leaving his lofty command position had been. He shuffled through the papers and pulled out three concert tickets and backstage passes.
Myers looked at them and frowned. "We're going to a teenybopper concert?" He paused and shook his head. "You have terrible taste in music."
There was an underlying joshing tone to his last statement. "It's to talk to Kira Ford." He paused as Eric connected the name on the packet with the latest teen idol. "She can't get time away during the day to meet with us, so we're coming to her after the concert."
"Would she have a tour commitment to finish?"
He nodded inwardly. It didn't take Eric long to come up with possible hitches in their plans. That trait would come in handy when tracking down people. "She's got four more concerts after the one tonight. If she decides to join, she'll finish the concerts and have her interview with Collins by the end of the week." He paused. "I'm hoping that Collins can help her out if she runs into contract issues."
Eric shrugged. "He's a fucking Rockefeller. He can afford it."
Colloquially expressed, but essentially true.
"So why these two?" Eric paused and gestured to the other packets. "Why not one of the others in there?"
"Cameron has the expertise. Kira… has a strange recommendation letter." He handed her packet to Eric. The Quantum Ranger thumbed through it, coming to the letter.
"She's hiding something," he said flatly.
Eric looked thoughtful for a minute. "She's from Reefside. The latest bunch of rangers was located there."
"Are you implying she was a ranger?"
He shrugged. "It's a possibility. I mean what else can explain the vagueness surrounding her skills and abilities regarding becoming a bounty hunter?"
"How would the science teacher know about that?"
To his surprise, Eric smiled. "That's Tommy Oliver. He was a ranger for a long time. I wouldn't be surprised if he got mixed up in a newer group somehow."
Mike raised an eyebrow. "Should I ask how you know that?"
He stared at Eric with renewed interest. Everyone in Silver Hills knew that Eric was the Quantum Ranger. His identity had been known from the moment he got his morpher—it had been the reason he was made commander of the Silver Guardians. Kendrix had been the Pink Galaxy Ranger and she had her saber—Mike was pretty sure he was the only one that knew that, just as he was pretty sure that Kendrix was the only one that knew he had been the Magna Defender before he sacrificed his powers.Mike thought for a moment. Leo had gone on a mission with a number of other red rangers about three years ago. His younger brother hadn't mentioned too many others outside of Andros and Carter. He had a feeling that Eric had been on that mission, making it possible for him to know about more former rangers than anyone else. What if Kira Ford turned out to be a former ranger as well? It was a thought worth entertaining.
To Be Continued...