Title: Stealing Thunder
Author: Hieiko
Fandom: Power Rangers Ninja Storm
Characters: Blake, Hunter
Disclaimer: I don't PRNS or any of the characters.
Notes: Written for 31days' March 9 theme, "Nothing quite so least as truth".
Summary: Lothor has a way of convincing people. Somehow, it worked on the Thunder Rangers.

Blake's first thought was that he didn't want to wake up. His limbs felt heavy but he didn't know why; he just assumed that the previous day's training must have been particularly hard. But something wasn't quite right, so he forced himself to open his eyes. The sight of an unfamiliar ceiling made Blake hurry to get into an upright position. He should have known that it was a bad idea, though, because he was immediately assaulted by a spell of dizziness. Sitting up slowly this time, he took in his surroundings.

Where's Hunter? Blake almost panicked when he realized he had no idea where his brother was. But he calmed himself, thinking that he had to first find a way out, and then go find Hunter. Not the easiest of tasks, as he couldn't quite remember why he was in this... cell, or at least it looked like one. He was able to stand up, but it took great effort. Moving slowly around the cell, he inspected the walls and the door, but no escape routes presented themselves to him. Too soon Blake felt tired, and as soon as he lay down he was out cold from exhaustion.

xxxxx

Hunter's initial worry at being separated from his brother very quickly turned into anger. Unfortunately, it was an anger he couldn't express, because his body wasn't up to obeying his commands. The best he could do was walk around the cell he was in, but even that easily made him tired. He sat down cross-legged on the floor, and closed his eyes. Maybe if he meditated, he could try to make sense of what was going on. Sensei Omino had always had trouble getting him and Blake to do meditation because they were both too packed with energy to sit still for long. Well, now he didn't have much of a choice about it.

He took a deep breath, and tried to remember. Images flooded Hunter's mind once he was able to focus. Sensei Omino giving him and Blake the Thunder Morphers... alien creatures arriving and capturing their Sensei... being trapped in a bubble and separated from Blake...

It didn't look good. Obviously he was a prisoner of those aliens. Blake was probably in another cell somewhere nearby, as well as Sensei Omino and the other Thunder ninjas. But what did the aliens want with them?

A creaking sound broke his concentration. One of the aliens was standing at the doorway to his cell.

"What do you want from us?" Hunter wanted to take back the words as soon as he said them. Mostly because he didn't like how weak his voice sounded.

"Simple, really," the alien said. "We want the Thunder Ranger powers."

Hunter's right hand immediately went to the morpher strapped to his left wrist. "What for? Don't tell me you plan on becoming a Thunder Ranger." He snorted.

"Cocky, aren't you? You don't even know who you're talking to. I am Zurgane, top general in Master Lothor's army."

Hunter wasn't about to show any fear to this guy. "Never heard of you. Or your Master. And since you're just the lackey, maybe you aren't the one I should be talking to."

"Insolent boy!" Zurgane's reply was accompanied by a backhand slap that sent Hunter reeling.

But after steadying himself, Hunter sat up and grinned. "That the best you can do?"

"Fine, then. If that's the way you want to play it," Zurgane said. "But you're wasting my time. Perhaps the other Thunder Ranger will be more cooperative."

Blake. Hunter was on his feet in an instant. "Leave him alone!"

"Don't worry. He's safe for now," Zurgane said with a sneer. "We'll talk again."

Hunter slumped to the floor as soon as Zurgane left the cell. If something happened to Blake, it would be his fault.

xxxxx

Blood... so much blood... Mom... Dad...

"No!" Blake was jolted awake from his nightmare only to find himself in another one, as he saw the alien creature staring down at him.

"It seems you didn't sleep well, little Thunder ninja. Why is that?"

Blake glared. "None of your business. Who on earth are you?"

"What is it with youngsters these days? No respect for their elders." The alien shook his head. "First of all, we are not on earth. Second, I am Zurgane, the greatest general in Master Lothor's army..."

Blake's expression didn't change.

The alien went on, "You are here because of the Thunder Ranger power that is in your possession. Perhaps you're willing to give it up?"

"I don't think so."

"Your choice." Zurgane grasped Blake's arm and flung him against the wall. Blake felt the wind knocked out of him, and he collapsed in an undignified heap on the floor. But he recovered enough to hear Zurgane's last words before leaving the cell.

"Both of you Thunder Rangers will see sense."

A worried frown crossed Blake's face. He meant Hunter.

xxxxx

It had been two, maybe three, days since Zurgane's last visit.

Hunter could still barely stand for longer than a few minutes without stopping to rest. He was also hungry, but that was because he never touched any of the food that had been brought to his cell. Now he wished he did, if only so he would at least have some energy. Sleeping hadn't brought him any rest, only disjointed dreams about their parents and that horrible day when he and Blake were told they were gone. Worse yet, he still knew nothing of what happened to his brother. It was probably his worry over Blake that gave him those dreams. Hunter hoped that his brother wasn't having the same problem. He got up and again tried to look for a way to escape.

In his own cell, Blake was trying to meditate. He sat facing the cell door, with his back against the wall. Closing his eyes, he tried to focus on the events that lead to their capture. Nothing new came up, and he remembered nothing from the time he was stuck in the bubble until he woke up in the cell. Frustrated, he tried to access his ninja powers. Maybe he could just blow the door up. But no matter how hard he concentrated, nothing happened.

From a viewscreen, Lothor observed the two Thunder Rangers in their individual cells. It was time for him to make his appearance.

xxxxx

Hunter looked up from his position on the floor as he heard sounds of a brief struggle occurring outside his cell. Then the door was opened, and someone was pushed through it.

"Blake!" Hunter immediately recognized his little brother, and went to his side as quickly as he could.

"Hunter?" Blake asked, eyes widening. "You're okay!"

"Mostly, yeah," Hunter answered with a relieved grin. "You?"

"Been better, I guess. Do you know what's going on?"

"Only that we're stuck here because of that psycho Zurgane who wants the Ranger powers."

"He talked to you, too, huh?"

Hunter scowled. He didn't like the idea of Zurgane talking to his brother. But before he could ask Blake if he'd been hurt, the cell door was flung open by none other than Zurgane himself.

Supporting each other, the brothers stood and faced him. But Zurgane stepped aside, and someone else entered the cell. It, or he, was more like a man in a strange mask and costume, than an alien. He introduced himself as Lothor.

Lothor looked them up and down. "Well, it's good to see you're both alright. I believe you deserve an apology for the treatment you have received these past few days."

Blake and Hunter exchanged confused glances.

Lothor continued speaking. "I had no idea you were the sons of the Bradleys."

"You knew our parents?" The brothers asked at the same time.

"Not very well, I'm afraid," Lothor said, "But they were indeed a great loss. If I'd known you boys were theirs..." He shook his head. "I should have realized. But I had long ago stopped communications with the ninja community. It seemed that there was no longer any justice among ninjas after what had happened with your parents."

"What are you talking about?" Hunter asked.

Lothor looked at both boys with something like pity. "You were never told? I suppose it was for the best, since you were mere children at the time."

Hunter spoke up. "What were they hiding from us?"

"We're not children anymore. We want the truth." This time it was Blake.

Lothor turned away from them, and focused on the wall. "Your parents were murdered by Kanoi Watanabe, Sensei of the Wind Ninja Academy. I saw it happen."

The brothers stared at him in disbelief. "You..."

"I'm afraid so."

"Then you could have helped them! Why didn't you do anything?" Hunter demanded.

Lothor nodded solemnly. "Yes, I was unable to do anything. It all happened so fast. And after that, everyone tried to keep things quiet."

"Our parents were honorable ninjas," Blake said, nearly choking on the words. "Why would anyone want to do that to them?"

"No one truly knows. The only one left who knows the reason is Kanoi Watanabe himself," Lothor replied. He turned to face the brothers, and had to restrain himself from smiling as he saw the mixed grief and anger on their faces. "But he is now under the protection of the Wind Rangers."

Hunter's eyes narrowed at the mention of the Wind Rangers. "Why are you telling us this? We won't give you the Ranger powers our Sensei entrusted us with, if that's what you think."

"No, no, I don't think that at all," Lothor said.

But he noticed that neither of the boys believed him. "You don't understand. I have a... personal grudge against Watanabe. I once thought of finding a way to use the Thunder Ranger powers against his Wind Rangers. But, I see now that the powers truly belong to you. And since I'm assured that you're not in league with the Wind Ninja Academy, I will allow you both to go free."

Blake frowned. "But what about the other Thunder ninjas? And Sensei Omino?"

"I can't be sure of their allegiance. They will have to remain here."

"Thunder ninjas have long been rivals of the Wind ninjas. We know that," Hunter said.

"Do you, indeed? If they have been able to keep the truth about your parents a secret, then surely that isn't the only thing they could have hidden from you," Lothor countered.

"But..." The brothers couldn't say anything more.

"I won't change my mind, boys. Until such time that I've made sure that Watanabe has no influence on them, the Thunder ninjas stay where they are."

"Which is where, exactly?" Hunter asked.

"So many questions! But all the wrong ones. There is, however, something on which I can give you an answer," Lothor said. "Don't you want to know how to find the Wind ninjas' Sensei?"

Both boys' faces hardened, and their answer was simultaneous. "Tell us."

xxxxx

Flashes of crimson and navy lights appeared just outside the small town of Blue Bay Harbor. The lights vanished, and two youths appeared, clad in dark ninja uniforms. Both their faces were grim.

"Are we really doing this?" Blake murmured to himself. Then, to his brother, "Sensei Omino never even had the time to tell us how to access the Ranger powers. Is this going to work?"

"I don't know how Lothor knew the words. But if he was lying, we'll know now." Hunter looked at his little brother. "Ready, bro?"

"Ready as I'll ever be."

The brothers moved and spoke as one. "Thunder Storm, Ranger Form!"

There was stunned silence between them after the transformation. Hunter, now the Crimson Thunder Ranger, was the first to form words. "We'll soon have our revenge, Blake," he said, clenching his fist.

The Navy Thunder Ranger nodded. "We'll make him pay."

xxxxx

Lothor sat comfortably on his throne. The recent defeat of his followers was nothing but a minor irritation at the moment. His backup plan was near perfect. This was one of those days when he felt glad he had grown up with a twin; he'd had a lot of practice passing the blame on to his brother. Ah, Kanoi, he thought, Be happy. This may be the last time you'll get in trouble for something I did.