Disclaimer: Don't own anything you recognize.
Author's Note: Well, this is the much-advertised and long-anticipated Blue Ranger story! Special thanks to Kaidence Ledger for acting as the test audience for this -- much hobbity love for that! These first three chapters introduce the core three rangers and the other two will be introduced in coming sections. I also have plans to incorporate Mystic Force towards the end. With that said, reviews are always appreciated, constructive criticism as well. Flames, as per usual, will be used to roast marshmallows for s'mores. Enjoy!
Time Frame: Chapter One is set just after History, but before Badge. The following chapters are set in the fall of 2005, the fall after Dino Thunder ended.
CHANGING THE STARS
By Etcetera Kit
Chapter One: Out of Time I
The room was large and airy, unlike anything he had experienced in his life. Large windows lined the walls, not quite going from ceiling to floor, but covered with filmy white shades, letting the light in. The foot of the bed led directly to a balcony. He stepped slowly. He couldn't remember being in the bed, but he must have been there at one point in time. The wooden floor was cool underneath his feet—a light breeze ruffled the thin white curtains around the doors to the balcony. Those doors were open, providing a tantalizing view of the world outside, of the golden sunlight, of the fresh smell of recently fallen rain.
He inhaled deeply, taking in the damp scent on the air. In Newtech City, that meant that the day would be humid and, the moment he stepped outside on patrol, he would begin to sweat. It didn't help that their uniforms were made of a heavy gray fabric. This dampness was not unpleasant or humid. It was cool and inviting. He wanted to peel off his clothing and feel that cool mist on his skin. His clothes…
Looking down, he noticed that he was not wearing his uniform. That puzzled him, because he should have been wearing it or at least his work-out clothes or the clothes that he slept in. But he was clad in none of those items. Instead, a loose robe hung on his shoulders and remained untied. His chest was bared. His pants were loose and comfortable. He was barefoot and didn't seem to be wearing anything other than the robe and pants. The articles were a deep shade of red, too dark to be called crimson, almost black, but still distinctly red.
This was not uncomfortable. On the contrary, he wanted to drop the robe from his shoulders and stand on the balcony. Taking slow, careful steps, he moved out to the balcony, the screens that separated the outdoors from the indoors drawn open. Once there, he felt the thin, silky fabric slide from his shoulders and to the ground behind him. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, feeling more than he normally would. The air, the breeze, was present and moving past his skin in an almost sensual manner. But that dampness, that mist, was there as well, but a different force from the air, remaining by itself, liquid and separate. The air and the water worked together, but remained a different force.
He turned back into the room. A candle was lit by the bed. As if in a trance, he walked towards it, drawn to the flickering flame in a way he couldn't describe. The pale yellow fire danced atop the wax, threatening to extinguish with just the right gust of wind. Slowly and cautiously, he extended his hand to the flame. The fire didn't burn, just provided a pleasant tickling sensation against his palm. Using a scooping motion, he moved his palm upward, fascinated that he had taken the fire into his palm. The flames danced blue.
He tore his gaze from the merrily dancing flames in his hand to the bed. A woman was there, rising slowly. Her blonde hair was tousled, but still curled of its own accord. The white sheet was tucked under her arms, but he didn't need to be told that the sheet was her only clothing. She looked familiar, but he couldn't quite recall her name. It was elusive, like reaching just beyond a veil.
Closing his palm, he passed the fire back to the candle before moving to her side of the bed. A contented smile flitted across her face. He wanted to remember who she was, what they had done in this bed before he got up, but nothing came.
"Sky," she whispered, her voice sultry and appealing.
That was his name, he knew it. Who was she?
"Sky," she said again, the sheet beginning to fall from her chest.
Schuyler Tate jerked awake, sitting straight up in bed and nearly smashing his head against that of his roommate's. Bridge, for his part, looked a little confused at Sky's less than graceful waking. He blinked, quickly trying to orient himself. Sunlight was pouring through their window and his alarm clock was beeping insistently in the background. Bridge was still dressed in his nightclothes, which meant that neither of them was late—yet. Reaching out, he shut off the alarm clock. He quickly ascertained that he was wearing the blue SPD t-shirt and gray sweatpants he had gone to bed in. Why, then, did he feel like he should have been wearing some sort of robe and loose pants?
The dream came back in a burst—the room, the woman in the bed, the fact that he had literally picked up fire and it turned blue the moment he touched it… What did that mean? He glanced to Bridge and found the Green Ranger still staring at him intently. Bridge had been his roommate for a long time and knew when and when not to press an issue.
"What?" he asked a little sharply, wanting to know why Bridge was still standing there, staring at him. Now that he was fully awake, he felt a little irritated and a little more disappointed that the dream was gone.
"You didn't wake up to your alarm," Bridge said simply. "You just stayed asleep like a foot." Sky fought the urge to roll his eyes at being compared to a foot. "You all right?"
"I'm fine," he replied, pushing away his blankets and sitting up, swinging his legs to the side of his bed.
"Must have been an intense dream," Bridge muttered as he went to his own side of the room, picking up his uniform jacket.
"How did you know I was dreaming?"
"REM—rapid eye movement. That's the stage of sleep you dream during. You were still in the middle of REM."
"Oh." He had been expecting some complicated psychic explanation that would eventually hinge on Bridge's powers. The textbook simplicity surprised him.
For Bridge, the conversation was over. The Green Ranger finished gathering the pieces of his uniform and his shower things and left the room. Sky let out a long breath. He wasn't sure what that dream meant—nothing had happened in it. Except that he had literally picked up a flame and it expanded once it hit his hand… he had also been extremely aware of the air and the water in the air. Elements… and then there was the woman in the bed. He still could not place her—all he knew was that her blonde hair and petite frame were familiar.
He glanced at the clock and knew he needed to go shower now, if he hoped to have a shower before going on patrol that morning. His uniform was folded on his desk chair, where he had left it last night. He gathered his uniform, towel and shower items, heading down the hall towards the showers. Most people were already done using the room or they were waiting until after morning training sessions.
Sky moved into an open stall, quickly stripping out of his pajamas and adjusting the warm spray. What did that dream mean, if anything?
He was in the room again. This time night had fallen. Crickets gently chirped outside, setting a soothing nighttime rhythm. He had never been one for staying up late, but there was something about this night, an intoxicating drug that he wanted to explore. The doors to the balcony were still open and the curtains fluttered in the breeze. Candles were set all over the room, bathing the space in a golden glow. The bed was made, but the sheets were drawn tantalizingly open. What was going on? What was this place?
Clothing was his next inspection. He was not wearing the soft robe and pants from before. Instead, he was wearing a uniform of sorts. It was made of leather and felt constricting next to his SPD uniform. The leather was black with red trim—Red Ranger red. He felt a pang shoot through his heart. He had come to grips with being the Blue Ranger a long time, but seeing himself wearing the color he could never have made it painful again.
Moving on instinct, he went to the nearest candle. The fire intrigued him, more so than fire ever had before. The sensations here puzzled him. So many times he should have been burned, injured from handling the flames, but he wasn't. All he felt went he touched the fire was a gentle tickling or a pleasant warmth, not unlike being in a warm bath. He ran one finger through the flame, studying it intently. What did his sudden affinity for fire mean?
A long, heart-wrenching howl tore through the peaceful night.
Panic stabbed at his stomach as he hurried out to the balcony. He had been on the balcony before, but he hadn't taken in the ground below. The view was that of a large field—a practice field it appeared—with red, yellow and blue banners sporting the same symbol on it. The entire field was bathed in silver moonlight.
Standing in the center of the practice field was a lone wolf. In the silver light, its gray fur seemed to have a blue tinge. Once more, it raised its head and howled.
I am with you, the wolf seemed to say. The one I used to serve is coming. He sings to the moonlight now
"With me?" he murmured.
With you—quell the fire, Wolf.
The fire twenty years past.
But the wolf had gone. He watched the spot on the practice field where he had been for a few moments. Quell the fire—the fire twenty years past? It didn't make sense. He could not time travel, nor did he know anyone who could. What was he supposed to do when he got to the past? It was simple. There was nothing he could do.
He turned back into the room. The vague outline of the woman from before could be seen behind the sheer white curtains around the bed. She didn't appear to be clad in much, if anything at all. He stepped off the balcony and into the room. Automatically, his hands went to the zipper on his uniform jacket, tugging it down and shrugging out of the top. He wasn't wearing a t-shirt underneath it, like he might with his SPD uniform. The night air teased his skin in a caress that was all the more sensual than a human touch.
There was a chair near the balcony door. He took advantage of it to slide his footwear off. Standing, he realized that the uniform had a loincloth that went over the pants. He could not fathom what this was a uniform for—all he knew was that whatever the classification of red meant, he was a part of that group.
"In ancient times, red belonged to the fire ninjas."
The voice seemed to coming from the woman in the chamber with him, but it did not seem like the voice belonged to her. This was not the voice she had in the morning—in his dream where it had been morning.
"Are you a fire ninja, Wolf?"
"I don't know."
The woman came into view and his jaw dropped open. Her name burst into his memory. It was Syd, except she was wearing a filmy nightgown. It skimmed the tops of her thighs and showed ample cleavage. His mouth watered. This had been his fantasy for a long time, but, in this dream, it didn't seem right. He hadn't even worked up the nerve to ask her on a date yet, let alone expect to see her scantily clad in a bedroom with him.
"Sky," she said with a smile. Her voice sounded normal.
"Syd," he breathed, closing the space between them. She met his advance, stopping him with a hand placed lightly on his chest. He was all too aware of her warm palm on his bare chest. His body felt flushed—nothing made sense.
"We can't be together now," she whispered. "But soon, when you get back."
"When I get back from what?"
"You'll find out soon."
"I don't understand. This doesn't make sense."
But she was gone like a wisp of smoke. He reached out, drawing the flame of the nearest candle to him. Immediately, it curled into a ball in his palm, turning blue, the color of the hottest flames.
With a muffled shout, he pulled himself into awareness. The room was still dark. He glanced at his alarm clock—it read 3:27 in glaring red letters. This was the second vivid dream he had that involved that room and all that fire. Something was wrong. The wolf had told him that he had to quell a fire twenty years past? Did that mean he had to get to the past?
"It's not time to get up, Sky," Bridge muttered in his sleep.
Sky ignored Bridge's mutterings. They had sent the Dino Rangers back to their time earlier today—or yesterday afternoon. Kat had used a machine similar to what Professor Cerebros had used to bring them here. The machine had been powered by their dino-gems and sent them back to 2005, twenty years in the past. What if he could get that machine and power it up something—his morpher?—and get twenty years past. Despite the promise that the plan showed, he couldn't help but feel he was already too late.
This was ridiculous!
He sat up in bed, reaching over to turn on his lamp. Bridge groaned at that and buried his head under his pillow, muttering darkly and threatening to injure Sky. He had two dreams about this place, that room, two dreams that involved him handling fire… and now he was raring to break into the lab and program the time machine to take him twenty years in the past. He didn't know who he was supposed to contact or even where he needed to go. Someone needed him—he didn't know who, but the longer he sat in bed, the longer he felt like any efforts on his part would be in vain.
"Turn off the light!" Bridge wailed.
Coming to a decision, Sky stood up and strode to Bridge, shaking his shoulder. "Get up," he said impatiently. "We need to look something up."
Bridge blinked. "What has gotten into you?" he groaned.
"I need your help."
"With what?" Bridge near-growled. He made an effort to sit up, but collapsed back onto his pillow, covering his face with his arm. "Go away."
Sky gave his shoulder another shake for good measure—to be sure that he wasn't going to fall back asleep—and rummaged around on his desk for paper and a pen. Clicking the pen into life, he quickly sketched the symbol that had been on the banners in the practice field. Now that he thought about it, he had seen that symbol before—he just couldn't remember where. Bridge was awake now, but looked highly disgruntled that he was in that state. Sky knew that Bridge sometimes—hell, all the time—had trouble getting to sleep and didn't appreciate being jolted from sleep once he had been able to find it.
"This," he said, thrusting the piece of paper at Bridge.
Bridge took it, raising one hand to rub his eye. "That's the symbol for the Wind Ninja Academy," he replied, shoving the paper back at Sky and pulling the blankets over his head.
"Wind Ninja Academy?"
"Yeah," his roommate responded, his voice muffled from his blankets. "Their school location and actual enrollment is secret, but they sometimes come out here and do martial arts demos and training sessions and stuff."
"Yeah! Can I go back to sleep?"
"Where is the academy?"
"It's in a secret location. But…" Bridge sat up, as if finally realizing that there was no way he was getting back to sleep. "Most of the teachers who have come out here live and work in Blue Bay Harbor. Leads me to believe it's in that area."
"Where is it?"
"South of here, near the ocean—why do you care?"
"I need to get there. Well, there twenty years ago."
Bridge blinked. "Who hid drugs in your dinner?"
"Bridge, please. I've been having dreams about the place and I need to get there twenty years ago." The Green Ranger still looked doubtful and uncomprehending. "You of all people should trust me on this." God, he needed Bridge to help him, to believe him…
"You are suggesting we take Kat's time machine—God only knows how we'll power it—and go to Blue Bay Harbor, send you back in time twenty years without knowing how you'll get back. Not to mention taking an SPD vehicle when we're not on duty."
"Okay… Let me put this in terms you'll understand. I will most definitely be thrown out of the academy, if not thrown in jail. If you manage to get back here safely, you will subsequently be thrown out or in jail…" Bridge trailed off. His blue eyes met Sky's and, in that moment, he knew that Bridge believed him, would help him.
"I know," he said softly. "But I can try to get back the moment I left—hopefully we can get the time machine and the jeep back before anyone notices." He paused and gave Bridge a pleading look. It was so odd for their roles to be reversed like this. Ordinarily, he was the one that would be listening to Bridge plead to do something stupid. "Please, Bridge."
"What are we waiting for?"
"Yes. You're my friend… and I've never seen you acting this out of it." He paused and a wry smile broke out on his face. "Besides, if you tried to operate the machine yourself, you'd end up somewhere wacky on the timeline."
For the first time in the tenure of their friendship, Bridge took charge. Sky had been ready to go commandeer things in his pajamas, but Bridge pointed out how impractical that would be. Clothing styles hadn't changed too much in the past twenty years, so Sky got dressed in civilian clothes and packed a small backpack with a few essentials—a change of clothes, pajamas, a few toiletries. His long-time friend also told him to get some food and water from the food replicator as there was no telling how long he would go without finding whatever it was he needed to find. Besides, he had no money that would work twenty years in the past.
Bridge also got dressed—in his uniform, since someone had to be in uniform if they were taking the jeep—and headed down the hall to the lab. Sky found an old road map in the glove compartment of the jeep and was studying it, trying to figure out the best way to get to Blue Bay Harbor.
He turned to see Bridge jogging out to the parking garage. He was empty-handed. "Where's the time machine?"
"We can access it from the command center. We can also program destination coordinates—including geographical region."
They went back into the building. It was quiet and eerie this time of night. Even the night crew had gone. The major alerts would wake Kat and she, in turn, would wake them, but no one was in the command center. With just them in the large room that was normally bustling with life, it made it creepy. He shuddered, watching as Bridge frowned in concentration, pulling up the various programs he needed.
"Power source?" Bridge asked, looking at him.
Sky held up his morpher and tossed it to Bridge. The Green Ranger nodded, placing the morpher in the power cell chamber. He began bringing up controls. Soon enough, the machine was ready to go—all Bridge needed to do was initiate the process.
"Are you sure about this?" Bridge asked.
He nodded, taking a deep breath. "Thank you for helping me," he said softly. "And if I don't come back from this—"
"I'm serious! Tell my mom a-and Syd that I love them."
Bridge didn't question anything, just nodded gravely. "I will."
He nodded and Bridge let out a long breath. He tapped a few controls and then, with an unsure glance, Sky felt himself enveloped in white light. The sensation was not entirely unpleasant, much like being swung around on a ride at an amusement park. He closed his eyes and felt his feet hit the ground hard.
The command center, Bridge, Newtech City had faded away. Instead, he was on a beach in the middle of the night and he was alone. On a ridge ahead, he could hear passing cars. He climbed up the beach to see a large sign. Welcome to Blue Bay Harbor.
To be continued...