Sighs All right Weesta, you evil, evil woman. You challenged me, and here is it. I'm quite proud of this one actually. I rather like Bridge's thoughts at the end.
Anyway, you all know the routine.
Honor the Lost
"Too many funerals." Tommy Oliver muttered to himself, stuffing his hands into his pockets. He shivered against a cold that wasn't there and hunched his shoulders. He was always cold these days.
"Tommy." a voice greeted solemnly.
A hacking cough, followed by a nod from the other man waiting for him as he struggled to quiet himself.
"Carlos, Cam." he returned quietly. It was never 'good to see you' with them. These gatherings were to honor the fallen. There was no joy in their reunion. "What's the explaination this time?"
"Plane crash. Lost control during a routine flight. Happens to the best of them." Cam's reply, though short, was laced with bitterness.
Carlos looked at the funeral procession and sighed. "And then there were three." he murmured darkly.
Adam had been the first. A heart attack in his sleep, supposedly genetic. He was twenty-one.
Then had been Trip, the victim of a fatal Zord accident. He'd gone down in flames during an attack and died a hero. Alex Collins had shocked them all by fighting tooth and nail to honor Trip's wishes for his body returned to the past he'd so loved to be cremated. Trip had been nineteen, two weeks from his twentieth birthday.
Damon had lived a quiet and peaceful life on Miranoi with the rest of the Lost Galaxy Rangers. He had gone swimming alone one day and never came back. He'd been twenty-eight.
It was at Adam's funeral that Tommy stood in the back as his friends grieved, unable to bring himself to face them. He knew the truth; Adam's 'heart attack' was the final of a series of seizures that resulted from the corruption of his life energy. He'd known Adam was dying slowly and painfully for two years, and was sworn to secrecy. He couldn't grieve with the others when he knew what Adam had truly died for, what he had truly sacrificed. He couldn't pretend Adam's tragedy was so simple.
It was there that he met Carlos and Damon. Joel had joined them for Trip's memorial. Each time the group would hide themselves from sight, sharing in the pain of losing a fellow warrior. Only another Green Ranger would really understand.
"Actually, four." a new voice spoke up softly.
The three men turned to find a young boy in military clothing. He offered them all a sad, knowing smile as they took note of the green trim to his S.P.D. uniform. "I'm Bridge, S.P.D. Green." he informed them all.
Tommy's eyes were pained as he shook the new recuit's hand. He would never stop praying for the day that someone else would notice. The Green Rangers would never tell for themselves, but he still hoped for that day that another would see what was happening and find out why. That there would never be a Green Ranger again.
Carlos was quiet, but respect for another who would willingly take up the sacrifice shone through dark orbs.
Another cough racked Cam's frame, leaving him shaking for a moment. At last he looked up, his gaze as fierce and proud as ever. His grip as he took Bridge's hand wasn't as firm as it would have once been, but it was far from weak.
Joel Rawlings was buried with full military honors. Captain Mitchell spoke of him as a Ranger, while Carter's memories of Joel as a friend brought many of the audience to tears. Angela Rawlings cried herself to exhaustion in the arms of Dana Mitchell and Kelsey Winslow. The turnout would have surprised Joel himself; like all of them, he considered few people outside of the Rangers to be his friends.
The four observers watched the service silently.
Cam would be the next. He was quite proud to have made it thirty-eight at all, a rarety for a purely Green Ranger. His fading health had already ruined his immune system. The seizures would come next, eventually leading to heart failure. A long, slow, and painful way to die.
Tommy had a few years more. His health was just beginning to falter. He had made it the longest at fourty-two. He suspected he had three or four years left.
Carlos, nowthirty-seven, wasn't in perfect health, but he wasn't sick. The Black Astro Morpher continued to protect and heal him, even though it was mostly ornamental now. When he finally passed it on, his turn would come.
Zordon, it seemed, had known more of Rita's power then he'd let on. All those fights he'd kept Tommy from, he'd been trying to protect him from the Green Power. When there was no hope and the Power had gone, he desparately searched for a way to save Tommy's life. He'd found salvation in creating the White Ranger. While the change of energy had wreaked hell on Tommy's nervous system, it had begun to mend the damage of the Green Power. The Red Zeo Crystal and Red Turbo Morpher had supported him even more. And when Zordon's energy spread throughout the universe, a small portion went to Tommy, Adam, and Carlos, in attempt to sustain them. Tommy's life, the one that should have been the most condemed, ended up as the one best protected. Which of course, only furthered his guilt.
Bridge didn't know how long his future was, or what it held. He might die in a tragic accident as Joel and Damon had, or in a blaze of glory like Trip. Perhaps in his sleep as Adam. There was no way to know.
What he did know was the honor he felt to be counted among these true heroes. Men who sacrificed their bodies with great pain to protect the greater good. Men who suffered as they watched their friends die and know there was nothing they could do. Men who protected their teams with silence, to protect them from the pain of knowing their sacrifices and why they chose them.
He couldn't save them. He couldn't grieve with tears for the ones he didn't know. But by the Power, how he wanted to make them proud. To uphold their legacy.
He would fight in memory of the ones before him, continuing their battle. As would the ones after him. This was what it meant to be a Green Ranger. And he would make them proud.