An armada blew up the disclaimer telling you that I don't own any Galaxy Ranger characters. This is just some fun and madness that entered my tiny brain that needed to get out. Mostly madness. Don't take it too seriously folks.
"No Ranger Brownville, I know you couldn't stop him," Commander Walsh sighed as he listened to the crying man on the intercom. "And I realize that you are particular on how the spaceships in your hanger are tuned…And how their weapons systems are…"
"That doesn't bother me as much as the fact that Ranger Gooseman insisted on testing them right there in the hanger bay!" A man's wail could be heard loud and clear. "Do you know how many holes there are in the walls? Fourteen!"
"Fourteen holes?" Walter 'Doc' Hartford quipped as he listened in on the conversation. "That's three less than last year. The Goose must be getting mellow in his old age."
"Hartford," Walsh glared at him. "Brownville stop crying! Look we needed new shielding on those walls anyway. I will deal with Gooseman, just…pull yourself together and start repairs." He shut off the intercom. "Looks like I am going to have to find another head mechanic this year!"
"Yeah if they're going to go to pieces every little time someone blows up the hanger…" Doc quipped.
"Doc please," Niko gave him a look. Zachary Foxx and Buzzwang were in the office as well wondering what to do about their resident Supertrooper. "You are not helping."
"Nothing less than a guided missile will help stop Shane Gooseman when he gets like this," Walsh groaned. "I hate it when he gets in his 'Everything is Broken, I Can Fix it Mood'."
"Then again it is slightly less destructive than Goose's regular mood," Doc quipped. "What has gotten into him?"
"It's the anniversary isn't it?" Zach sighed.
"Anniversary? What anniversary?" Buzzwang asked.
"The Anniversary of the Disaster at Wolf Den," Commander Walsh reminded him. "When Gooseman was forced to turn against the Supertroopers. Every year around this time Gooseman always gets a little…"
"Crazy?" Doc suggested.
"No, that's not quite the word I'm looking for," Walsh sighed. "Psychotic. That's the word I'm looking for."
"Remember what happened last year?" Zach sighed. "We were on patrol chasing smugglers at the time. Those poor bastards never knew what hit them."
"And when we got back to BETA he was even more worked up!" Doc groaned. "He spent four hours in the exercise room and wrecked half the equipment! And on the stereo system he would only listen to one song over and over again. 'Dead or Alive'. And as good a song that is you get kind of tired of Bon Jovi after a while."
"Oh," Buzzwang realized. "I don't remember that."
"Of course not," Doc told him. "Your memory chips got partially wiped during that firing range incident when Gooseman got the bright idea to use magnetic boots so he could practice firing his laser on the ceiling!"
"We never could get those scuff marks off after that," Doc remarked.
"To be fair that was right after some idiot left the television screen on and Goose saw Senator Wheiner make a speech decrying the Supertrooper project," Niko reminded him. "By the way good news, Ranger Madison is finally out of the wheelchair."
"Gooseman did that to him when he blew up the television?" Buzzwang was shocked.
"No, someone else put him in the wheelchair," Walsh made a nervous cough. "How did you know Goose blew up the television?"
"I didn't," Buzzwang said. "It just seemed like something Goose would do."
"Well he did and he will again if we don't find a way to keep him under control!" Walsh barked.
"Shane's going through a difficult time," Niko said. "We need to get his mind off of it."
"Not to mention get him as far away from BETA as possible," Walsh agreed. "And no television!"
"It's obvious Goose has a lot of unresolved feelings about what happened all those years ago," Niko said. "Part of him feels guilty about his part about freezing the other Supertroopers and his anger towards Senator Wheiner for his part in it."
"No, really?" Walsh said sarcastically. "I never would have guessed."
"Commander, Goose is having trouble dealing with his repressed emotions," Niko gave him a look. "We need to help him find a positive outlet for it. Preferably one that doesn't involve explosives."
"Sure we can all just get him to talk and have a good cry about it," Doc said sarcastically. "And then we'll all hug and sing songs and skip around the maypole. Get real Niko! Goose is a guy! More to the point a Supertrooper guy."
"Oh so you should just do manly guy things?" Niko asked. "Like go to a bar? Yes why not use alcohol to add to the situation? Get him liquored up and drunk! That will make things better!"
"On second thought maybe we should take a more mellow approach to the situation?" Doc gulped.
"The only thing that could mellow the Goose out is a sledgehammer," Zach groaned. "A very large one."
"I can get a large sledgehammer out of…" Buzzwang began.
"It was a joke Buzz," Doc told him. He looked at Zach. "It was a joke right?"
"Would you believe me if I said yes?" Zach asked.
"I've got an idea," Niko thought of something. "What about Icarus and Winter?"
"Goose's dolphin friends?" Zach asked.
"Yes, we could spend the day at Longshot visiting them," Niko suggested. "And they're always asking us to field test some of their new inventions. Why not go there for the day?"
"You know that is not a bad idea," Walsh thought aloud. "Those two do always did have a calming effect on him."
"Dolphins can be very therapeutic," Niko added.
"I'll be happy if they can keep Goose from blowing the base into a million pieces," Walsh told her.
The base started to rock violently. "OH MY!" Buzzwang cried out. "Is it an earthquake?"
"Please God let it be an earthquake…" Walsh gritted his teeth as the shaking stopped. A buzzer sounded signaling there was an incoming message. "Walsh here…"
"Commander! It's Ranger Gooseman! He's gone nuts!" A frantic voice was heard. "He's practicing on the target range again!"
"Isn't that what he normally does?" Walsh asked.
"NOT WITH A MISSLE LAUNCHER!" The voice screamed.
"GET HIM OUT OF HERE!" Walsh screamed. "BEFORE HE KILLS US ALL!"
"We'd better stop by the infirmary and pick up some sedatives just in case," Niko gulped as they ran out the door.
"Make it some elephant tranquilizers!" Zach snapped. "A WHOLE CASE OF THEM! GO!"
"I'll call Longshot," Niko said. "Which is actually looking like a long shot right now!"
"Maybe we'll get lucky and the Queen of the Crown might decide to launch an invasion today?" Doc quipped as they ran out.
"If only Ranger Hartford," Walsh sighed as he slumped at his desk. "If only…"
The three rangers and one robot ranger had finally tracked Shane down to the exercise room. "How is he doing?" Niko asked as she and Zach caught up with Doc and Buzzwang. Both were standing nervously outside the door while loud rock music was blasting away.
"Not good," Doc sighed. "He's into the Chris Daughtry version."
"Oh boy," Zach gulped. As brave as he was, confronting an angry Supertrooper was something that would make anyone nervous. "All right we'll all go in together. Try to remain positive. No sudden movements."
"Unless he's throwing barbells," Doc quipped. "Then it's duck and cover."
"Doc do not make comments like that," Zach gave him a look. "This situation is as explosive enough as it is."
"Zach for crying out loud! So the Gooseman is having a bad day?" Doc told him. "He's our friend. He's not going to hurt us."
They entered the room and just before they stepped in a punching bag sailed across the room and crashed into the wall, leaving a huge dent. "You really want to test that theory, Doc?" Zach asked.
"Uh on second thought maybe this does require a more serious approach?" Doc gulped.
Shane was now shirtless and without his blasters, viciously pounding a second punching bag. Actually it was an machine with AI capabilities attached to a punching bag. "Ow…Ow…Ow…" The machine said in a tinny voice.
"Stupid…freaking…frakking…" Shane muttered under his breath and hitting harder and harder with each punch.
"Ow…Ow…Ow…Please stop hitting me…" The punching bag machine moaned. "Please, please…AAAAHHHH!" The machine screamed as Shane sent one punch that made it sail across the room. "Owie…"
Shane let out a growl of frustration and panted with minor exhaustion. "Goose…I think that was a knockout," Doc quipped. "Winner and still champion, the Gooseman."
"Oh my," Buzzwang went over to the machine. "Poor Buster One will be in the shop for a while."
"I…I coulda been a contender…" Buster One spurted. "Instead of just a pile of scrap metal…"
"What are you doing here?" Shane grumbled as he grabbed a spare towel to wipe the sweat off his face and body.
"Well we were hoping to use the gym," Zach remarked as he looked at all the holes in the walls and the broken equipment. "But it seems to need some renovations."
"And you worry about my jokes?" Doc gave him a look.
"Shane we were thinking of taking a trip to Longshot," Niko told him. "See what's new at the lab. Why don't you come with us?"
"Why don't you just go away and leave me alone?" Shane grumbled.
"Come on Goose," Zach said. "It's been a while since you've seen your dolphin friends. A quick visit wouldn't hurt."
"Yeah it might even save a few lives around here," Doc remarked. "Not to mention the budget."
"Is that your oh so subtle way of saying that I'm too wound up and need to calm down?" Shane snapped.
"No, the subtle way would be dropping an anvil on your thick head!" Niko snapped at him.
"Niko…" Doc said in a high nervous sing song voice. "What are you doing?"
"Shane we know what today is," Niko faced off with him. "After last year the whole galaxy knows what today is. It's obvious that you're upset but this is not the way to deal with it!"
"I'm fine," He walked past her. "I just need to be alone."
"Goose that's the last thing you need right now," Zach told him.
"With all due respect Captain…" Shane growled.
"Shane, shut up and listen," Niko grabbed his arm and forced him to look at her. Shane growled but didn't say anything. He didn't get a chance too. "We're your friends, and when you're hurting or in trouble we want to help you. And as enjoyable as it is watching you run around beating objects up with your shirt off, it's not exactly the most healthy way for you to deal with this. And when you're hurting the team is hurting. Can't you get that through your brain? Or is your Series Five Implant shutting down your common sense? All we want to do is to help you through this!"
"That and keep BETA in one piece," Doc pointed to the destroyed room. "What's left of it anyway."
"If you think we're just going to allow you to tear though the base like a Bovo Bull in a china shop think again," Zach told him. "You are going to Longshot with us and that's an order."
Shane glared at them for a moment. "Fine…" He grumbled as he went over to pick up his shirt and blasters. "Let's go."
"Well that went better than I expected," Doc blinked as Shane walked out the door.
"Don't celebrate yet," Niko warned him. "The hard part is when we get to Longshot."
"How many fingers am I holding up?" Buzzwang asked the dazed machine as they left the room.
"Twenty seven?" Buster One moaned.
Outside in the hallway Shane had put his shirt back on and now was fastening his blasters. "Come on Gooseman, cheer up!" Doc told him. "A nice relaxing flight will calm you down."
"Oh really?" Shane raised an eyebrow.
Twenty five minutes later aboard the Ranger 1 interceptor…
"GOOSEMAN! YOU MANIAC!" Doc screamed as his hands covered his eyes. "I SAID A NICE RELAXING FLIGHT! THERE IS NOTHING RELAXING ABOUT FLYING UPSIDE DOWN FOR SEVERAL MILES!"
"Really?" Shane asked in a casual voice. "I find it quite relaxing."
"AAAHHHHHHHH!" Doc screamed. "MY STOMACH IS DOING CARTWHEELS!"
"Barrel rolls are pretty relaxing too," Shane grinned as he executed another one. "Look I can do it with one hand."
"We're gonna die," Doc whimpered, hanging onto his seat for dear life. "We'regonnadie, we'regonnadie…"
"GOOSE!" Zach gritted through his teeth as he clung to the seat's handle for dear life. "KNOCK IT OFF! TURN THE SHIP RIGHT SIDE UP!"
"Spoilsport," Shane shrugged as he righted the ship. "Longshot dead ahead. Hmm, we made good time."
"How can we not make good time when you are going Mach Forty Seven?" Doc snapped. He glared at Zach and Niko. "Who's bright idea was it to let him fly?"
"Now I know why Buzzwang insisted on staying behind," Zack grumbled.
"Goose," Niko spoke through gritted teeth. "As much as I know you enjoy tormenting Doc, could you please land the ship in one piece? For once?"
"You know the trouble with you guys?" Shane waved his hand. "You don't know how to lighten up."
"Ha, ha, ha…" Doc said in a dark tone. "Very funny. When we land can you help me find my liver? I think it fell out of my mouth during that last barrel roll."
Shane landed the ship in the hanger. "You were right Doc," Shane said cheerfully as they disembarked. "A nice relaxing flight did cheer me up. Doc? Doc?"
"Oh look we're here…" Doc said in a high voice. "And we're on solid ground again!" He dropped to his knees and kissed the ground. "Hello old friend! I've missed you so much! I thought I'd never see you again!"
"Doctor Krueger," Shane waved to the head scientist of Longshot as he walked up to the Rangers. "Good to see you again."
"Yes Ranger Gooseman," Dr. Krueger nodded. "Commander Walsh called ahead and warned us…Uh, informed us that you were coming."
"Hey we just wanted to see Icarus and Winter and figured that maybe you had some interesting projects for us to test out…" Shane explained.
"Uh yes about that," Dr. Krueger coughed. "Well it seems that there aren't any."
"What?" Zach asked. "Are you telling me that in a top secret laboratory that researches everything from weapons systems to biology to kitchen products you don't have anything for us to test?"
"No, not a thing!" Dr. Krueger laughed nervously. "Been rather a slow week actually."
"This is about the time I participated in that experimental tank run isn't it?" Shane asked.
"That and the flying hamster incident," Dr. Krueger gave him a look.
"That one was not my fault," Shane pointed out.
"We still can't get the smell out of some the air ducts in the east wing," Dr. Krueger gave him a look. "No, we at Longshot have learned our lesson long ago about letting you test things at this time of year. It was difficult enough when you resided here. You can visit your dolphin friends but that is it!"
"Oh all right," Shane reluctantly agreed.
"Hold on," Doc realized something as he stood up. "Goose you actually lived at Longshot for a time?"
"You never told us that," Niko said.
"There's a lot of things I never told you about," Shane shrugged. "Come on let's go see the dolphins."
"There's a story behind that," Zach remarked softly as Shane went ahead. "I wonder what it is?"
"Something tells me we should find out," Niko agreed as they followed him.
"Sure and while we're at it we should also find out what size we want our caskets to be buried in," Doc moaned.
"Goose wouldn't go ballistic on us if we ask him about it the right way," Niko told him.
"I was talking about the return trip to BETA if Goose insists on flying again!" Doc moaned.
"Don't you think you're drinking a lot for this time of day, Commander Walsh?" Ambassador Waldo asked. He and Zozo were in Walsh's office.
"No Ambassador, I don't think so," Walsh had a harried look in his eye, a bottle in one hand and a glass in the other. "I am going to keep drinking for the rest of this damned day!"
"Looks like Goose isn't the only one acting slightly out of character today," Zozo folded his arms.
"And just what is that supposed to mean?" Walsh snapped at him.
"What Ambassador Zozo is trying to say," Waldo said diplomatically. "Is that this anniversary of Wolf Den is obviously a stressful time for both you and Ranger Gooseman."
"Well it was only the single worst day of our lives!" Walsh snapped at him as he poured himself another drink. "Twenty years…Twenty long years I worked on the Supertrooper project. I created a team of crack soldiers with surprisingly few violent incidents. I watched them be created in the labs, born, raised and trained. I put my heart and soul into those soldiers. They were the best and they were supposed to be the best the military had ever seen…We were only a month…Just one month away from full review from the Board of Leaders. And then Wheiner showed up with that damned X-Factor…"
"Oh dear…" Zozo did not like where this was going.
"In twenty minutes twenty years of work went down the toilet!" Walsh snapped, an insane look was in his eye. "All my hard work and sacrifices destroyed by one god damned impatient pencil pushing geek who wouldn't know a thing about strategy even if he was playing checkers! Because of Wheiner Dr. Nagata lost his body, I lost my men, Goose lost his home and family and nearly lost his life… One of these days…One of these days…BANG!"
"Commander…?" Zozo asked cautiously.
"Just five minutes…" Commander Walsh was indeed going off the deep end. "Five lousy minutes alone with Wheiner…That's all I need! That and a starship with a faulty air lock…Yes that would be a perfect plan…"
"Commander Walsh," Zozo asked. "Commander Walsh this is Earth calling…"
"I could always say he just hit his head and tripped," Walsh had a deranged smile on his face. "Yes, an accident. Accidents happen all the time in space…And well it's his own fault that faulty air lock couldn't be fixed because of the budget cuts."
"Commander please!" Waldo shouted. "You're starting to scare us!"
"What exactly is in Earth whisky?" Zozo asked him.
"I could easily make it look like an accident," Walsh grinned insanely. "It's not like he'd be missed. Even better…I could get close to some sun or star and with the right combination of thrusters I could propel his body…BAM! No evidence!"
"I do not know, Zozo," Waldo gulped. "But something tells me that we are better off not knowing. And more importantly not drinking it!"
"Commander Walsh you can not seriously be thinking about killing Senator Wheiner," Zozo pleaded. Then realized what he had just said. "Okay let me rephrase the question…"
BRANG! BRANG! BRANG!
"What?" Walsh snapped out of it as the alarm went off.
"It's the solar defense alarm!" Waldo told him. "It's picking up something entering our solar system."
"Good! Maybe this day won't be a total loss!" Walsh told them. He worked the controls so he could view the situation.
"Commander are you…?" Zozo began.
"I'm fine Zozo," Walsh told him. "I went away for a little while but I'm back now. Let's see the situation."
On screen there were three very large space ships moving just past Jupiter on the solar system. "Holy Mothmoose!" Zozo gasped. "Those are the largest space ships I've ever seen!"
"I've seen planets smaller than that!" Waldo gasped. "Hold on there's an incoming transmission."
There screen changed to a sight of Lazarus Slade, the renegade one eyed mad scientist and a Slaver Lord with the Queen of the Crown's face on it. "BETA mountain and the Galaxy Rangers," Slade sneered with arrogance. "Prepare to fall into oblivion! Our new Ultimate Armada is unstoppable! These three ships have the power of a thousand fleets!"
"Oh really?" Walsh grinned. "Well this day is looking up! I assume you're here to attack us then?"
"That is usually what an invading armada does," Slade was puzzled by Walsh's demeanor.
"Good, good, excellent," Waldo grinned.
"Resistance is futile! All will fall before the Queen's Armada," Slade shouted.
"Great! I mean…" Zozo giggled.
"Wait a minute…" Slade stopped. "Something is wrong here. Why are you people smiling?"
"We're not smiling," Zozo quickly tried to cover his mouth.
"You are! You people are smiling!" Slade snapped. "Walsh I can see you trying to hide a grin under your mustache! What you want us to attack? What the hell is wrong with…?"
"Oh no…" The Queen of the Crown's visage looked worried. "It's that damned anniversary isn't it?"
"What anniversary?" Waldo asked innocently. "We have no idea what you are talking about."
"Don't lie to me Andorian!" The Queen snapped. "You know very well what anniversary I am talking about!"
"Half the galaxy remembers," Slade bristled. "Sometimes you can still hear the screams of those space pirates in that corner of space! He wants us to attack!"
"Oh no we don't!" Walsh and Zozo said quickly.
"Yes you do!" Slade snapped. He looked at the Queen's face. "No wonder Kilbane wanted to come with us! And that's probably why he blew up that small moon for target practice. And Ultimate Four…"
"By the Demons of Hell if those two ever got together on this day the entire universe would be destroyed!" The Queen gasped. "PULL BACK! PULL BACK! RETREAT! RETREAT!"
"Let's get out of here!" Slade shouted.
"No wait!" Walsh and the two ambassadors shouted. "Don't go! We're not prepared really? You could probably conquer us easily! We wouldn't stand a chance! Please come back! Come back!"
"Move out!" The Queen of the Crown ordered. "Execute Delta Tactic now!"
"But your highness," Slade stated. "These ships were not built to perform that maneuver in close quarters…"
"I DON'T CARE!" The Queen snapped. "JUST DO IT!"
"Commencing Delta Tactic…" One crown trooper shrugged and did his duty.
"Sir Ultimate Two and Three have just crashed into each other!" One trooper reported to Slade. "They couldn't maneuver fast enough!"
"I told you the damn ships were too big!" Slade shouted as he saw the ships wreck each other on screen.
"Forget the ships and get out of here! Now!" The Queen of the Crown ordered as the two ships began to self destruct. She took her last remaining ship away from the solar system, much to the dismay of the people at BETA.
"Well so much for a crisis happening today," Waldo grumbled.
"They're gone…" Zozo moaned. "They're gone! Oh noo…" He clung to Waldo sobbing. "Why didn't they stay? Did they have to go away? Waaahhhh!"
"I knew it was too good to be true," Walsh sighed. "Looks like Niko's plan is the only thing that can save us now. I'm going to the target range! I wonder how much ammunition is left in that bazooka?"
"Looks like the target range is going to really get a workout today," Zozo sniffed. "Now I am really frightened."
"So am I little friend," Waldo sighed. "So am I."
"Are you sure you don't want to do this alone Goose?" Zach asked. The rangers were all dressed in diving uniforms with their badges on their belt buckles. The dolphins happily swam around the tank, clicking and chirping in a minor celebration that Shane was there to see them.
"Nah anything I can say to them I can say in front of you," Shane shrugged before he dove into the water.
"Oh that fills my little heart with glee," Doc cautiously dipped his bare toe into the water. "Brrrr…Little cold but after a gradual warm up…"
Both Niko and Zach looked at each other. They just couldn't resist shoving Doc in the pool. "AAAHHHH!"
"CAPTAIN! NIKO!" Doc sputtered spitting water out of his mouth as he treaded water.
"Sorry Doc," Niko shrugged. "Just couldn't resist."
"You two have been hanging around Goose way too long! Hey!" Doc yelped as a beach ball hit him behind the head. Winter laughed with glee. "What is this? Beat up on Doc Day?"
Both Niko and Zach laughed as they dove into the water. Soon all the rangers were swimming and playing with the dolphins.
"Niko! Zach! Doc!" Winter chirped happily as she swam around them.
"Goose! Goose!" Icarus chirped as he playfully bumped Shane. "We missed you Goose!"
"I missed you guys too," Shane meant it.
"See, spending time with the dolphins wasn't such a bad idea was it?" Niko made a smirk.
"Oh yeah?" Doc mischievously splashed Niko. Then he grabbed the beach ball. "CATCH!"
Niko managed to duck in time so that the beach ball hit Shane instead. "Uh oh…" Doc gulped.
"Doc is a dead duck," Icarus chirped.
"You got that right," Shane made a playful growl.
"AAAHHH!" Doc swam for his life with Shane behind him. "MAD GOOSE! MAD GOOSE! MAD GOOSE ON THE LOOSE!"
"Doc cut it out!" Zach barked. "You're splashing all over us."
"HELP!" Doc flailed as Shane easily caught up to him and shoved him under. "Glub! Gulb! Help!"
"Oh I just dunked you once you big baby," Shane sniffed.
"My life was flashing before my eyes," Doc sputtered. "For the second time today!" Then he grinned. "Oooh and what a good life it was too."
"I'd dunk you under again if I wasn't sure your brain was already damaged beyond repair," Shane groaned as he lay on his back to float.
"Goose can we ask you something?" Zach began tactfully.
"About how I ended up at Longshot for nearly a year?" Shane didn't waste words.
"Well yeah," Doc nodded. "Unless you want to talk about something else. Like my latest date. Ah yes, lovely Diana with the beautiful brown eyes. I first met her…"
"I'll talk! I'll talk!" Shane interrupted. "Anything to get Doc to stop talking!"
"Oh yes that is so the reaction I wanted," Doc mocked. "So spill it my Gooseman. What's the story?"
"After Wolf Den…" Shane began. "No one knew what to do with me. Except placing me in either jail or the Cryocrypt. But Commander Walsh wouldn't let them do that. He pulled a lot of strings so he could have custody of me. I was only fifteen when the Supertroopers went nuts."
"That old?" Zach was surprised. "I knew you were young but…"
"Yeah well," Shane ran a hand through his wet hair. "Thanks to growth hormones I didn't look my age but I was still too young for the Ranger Academy even if I would have been allowed in at the time."
"Would have been allowed in?" Niko asked.
"The minimum age requirement for Rangers is seventeen," Zach reminded her.
"Yeah even Walsh couldn't bend that rule," Shane told them. "Walsh was trying to not only fix things for his career and what happened with the Supertroopers, but put together the basis for what would become the Series Five Rangers…And I had never been around too many other humans before. I didn't know how to act. I was angry, confused, had so many self doubts about who and what I was…Let's just say there were problems."
"What kind of problems?" Niko asked.
"The kind of problems that ended up in fights and angry mobs," Shane told her. "Walsh realized that he couldn't just drag me from base to base and expect me to stay out of trouble. He had to find somewhere to stash me where I could adjust and give the Board of Leaders time to cool down. After a lot of favors being called in, he finally found a place for me to settle in and stay out of sight for a while."
"Longshot," Zach realized.
"When I first got here I was terrified," Shane admitted. "I mean it was a research lab and I assumed the worst. But at the time there was this scientist in charge with Dr. Kruger. Dr. Lasseter. He treated me like a human being. Not a lab animal. He and a lot of the other scientists decided that I deserved to learn other things other than how to shoot things or blow stuff up."
"Well you already know how to do that so well," Doc remarked.
"Exactly," Shane didn't get the sarcasm at that moment. "It was pretty ironic than in a lab I found people that were kind to me. And then I met Icarus and Winter."
"Goose was here when we learned how to talk," Winter chirped.
"He was said but then we made him part of our pod," Icarus explained.
"Then Goose wasn't so lonely anymore," Winter added.
"So that's how you all met," Doc realized. "I always wondered where and when you learned to speak dolphin."
"These two helped me get through some stuff," Shane idly stroked Winter's snout. "I didn't feel so…isolated anymore. That's…pretty much it."
"Take my hand Shane," Niko encouraged him. "I want to try something. It's a meditation exercise you can do in the water."
"We're not going to sing or anything like that are we?" Shane was skeptical. "Because if anyone does that is gonna tick me off."
"I want to use a mind link between us," Niko explained. "Everyone hold hands."
"This isn't going to hurt is it?" Zach asked as he took Niko's other hand while Doc took his and Shane's hand.
"I just need you to trust me," Niko said as she quickly activated her badge before holding Shane's hand. A soft golden glow surrounded them. "Goose I need you to focus on that day in Wolf Den."
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Shane asked.
"This might be difficult for you but I need you to focus on those emotions you felt and let them go," Niko told him. "All that anger, all that pain and loss…And your guilt…"
Shane reluctantly did as he was told. All the familiar images and painful emotions swirled around him, as raw as they were the first time he experienced them. "I can't let go…" He whispered. "I can never let it go…"
"Let go of what you can, Shane…" He heard Niko's voice in his mind.
"I know they were sick," Shane said softly. "I know they were crazy and it wasn't their fault…They had to be stopped…"
"And you feel guilty about stopping them," Zach said. "Goose you had no choice. At least the ones you took down are not in pain or hurting anyone. You're not the only one here who's had to deal with some tough choices like that."
A flash of memory assaulted Shane. He saw himself as a young Sergeant in the army, just before the Ranger division was formed. No wait, it was Zach. Being forced to fight some of his former classmates who had gone dirty and had killed an officer.
Another flash of memory. A young Doc facing off with his father who had hit his mother. And yet another flash as he experienced a young Niko being forced to kill a large bear like animal with her emerging powers as her mentor lay unconscious. Another flash as he experienced the young dolphins being forced to abandon their dying pod, their family and friends so that they could survive.
The rush of memories nearly overwhelmed Shane. He realized that they were willing to share their pain with him so that he wouldn't feel so alone.
His friends were there for him.
He didn't have to stand alone anymore.
The memory rush ended instantaneously, jerking Shane back into reality. "Whoa…"
"Holy…" Doc panted. "That was supposed to relax us?"
"That was…intense…" Shane blinked, not quite sure of how he should feel about that personal experience. Then he felt more relaxed, calmer. He knew from the link the others didn't pity him. They just wanted to help.
"Are you okay?" Niko said.
"A little better…" Shane sighed. Winter nudged him. "Thanks. I needed that."
"Now that wasn't so bad was it Gooseman?" Doc smirked. "You actually said 'thank you' and lived to tell about it."
"As enlightening as that was let's not do that again for a while," Zach shook his head. "But I think we made our point. But Niko did it have to get so…personal?"
"Come on Zach you know that subtlety isn't the Gooseman's strong point," Doc pointed out. "He needs to know that he's loooooooooooveed!"
"Doc I get it," Shane gave him a look. "I was acting like a jerk. Lesson learned."
Doc was still in a teasing mood, unfortunately. "Yes, we just can't get by without our little Goose who just means so much to us!"
"Niko did you fry his brain or something?" Zach asked her.
"No, he was like that before the link," Niko told him. "I am not responsible for minds that are already damaged beyond repair."
"You are the sunshine of my life…" Doc sang very loudly putting his arm around Shane. "That's why I'll always be a..Gulgggg! AAAHHHH! Spurrtle!" Shane very quickly shoved Doc head first into the water and held him under for a moment.
"I warned you about the singing," Shane remarked as he calmly held him under.
"It's a good thing Doc's led an interesting life," Zach quipped. "Since he's been watching reruns of it all day."
After a quick dry off and a slightly less harried flight back to BETA the four Rangers returned to the Ranger Recreation room. "Ah! That felt like a day at the spa!" Doc clapped his hands together. "If the spa was run by a maniac who prefers to drown his victims."
"Look guys, I'm sorry I flipped out a little on you today," Shane sighed. "It's just…"
"It's all right, Goose," Zach stopped him. "Like we told you. We're team mates. We're there for each other."
"That's the biggest difference between us and the Supertroopers," Shane admitted. "As close as I was to some of them…The three of you are…Well…"
"Thank the planets you have returned!" Waldo staggered in with Zozo and Buzzwang right behind.
"Goose, please tell me that you are back to normal again," Zozo begged.
"I'm fine, Zozo," Shane told him. "I kind of went away for a while. I'm back now."
"Good," Waldo sighed as he sat down on a comfortable chair. "Because the hanger bay does not need nineteen more holes inside it!"
"I thought Goose only put fourteen holes in the hanger bay walls?" Doc asked.
"He did," Waldo sighed. "Commander Walsh made the rest."
"After he blew up what was left of the firing range," Buzzwang sighed.
"Is that ink on your fingers?" Doc noticed Buzzwang's fingers were covered in ink.
"I was ordered to make several life sized paper copies of Senator Wheiner for target practice," Buzzwang explained. "Don't ask."
"Let's just say whatever Goose had it's contagious," Zozo gave Shane a look.
"By the way I saw some ships scrambling off," Zach remarked. "Did we have an alert of some kind?"
"Oh nothing, it was just a false alarm. By the way Gooseman you were right those weapons systems did need another tune up," Walsh said, his gait having a slight stagger to it. "And we're going to need another head mechanic since Ranger Brownville just had a slight nervous breakdown."
"Oh dear," Waldo put his hand to his head indicating he had a headache.
"It's just as well," Walsh hiccupped. "I couldn't believe the man would fall to pieces over one little fire in the hanger bay."
"How much has he had to drink?" Shane asked.
"Two bottles of whatever he had stashed in his office," Zozo told him.
"Yeah that usually does it," Shane nodded.
"This doesn't shock you?" Zach was surprised.
"You remember I told you I used to get into some fights when I first left Wolf Den?" Shane gave Walsh a look. "Let's just say that I didn't start all of them."
"I needed a drink before I could force myself down to the Cryocrypt," Walsh grunted. "It's…something I do every year. Gooseman do you…?"
"I don't know if I want to come this year," Shane sighed.
"You don't have to go alone if you want," Zach told him. "We could go with you."
"That would be nice," Buzzwang said cheerfully. "Captain Foxx while you are there you could also visit your wife Eliza. I believe your anniversary is coming up in a few days as well."
You could hear a pin drop within the entire room. Everyone was shocked. Zach had a pained look on his face. "Excuse me please…" He stiffly walked out of the room. Two minutes later a loud scream could be heard.
"You just had to mention that didn't you Buzzwang?" Niko gave the robot ranger a dirty look.
"Not again…" Doc began to hit his head on a wall nearby. "Not again!"
"Remember how much damage he did last year?" Shane remarked.
"Yup that's his arm cannon," Shane said. "Right on schedule. Well at least he didn't blow up the rec room this year."
"Oh God no…" Walsh winced in agony.
"Buzzwang why the hell couldn't you keep your big metallic mouth shut?" Doc snapped.
"Great, we calm down one Galaxy Ranger on a rampage only to deal with another one!" Zozo moaned.
"Buzzwang do us a favor and go assist Ranger Foxx on the target range," Walsh ordered.
"But there are no targets left," Buzzwang told him.
"Oh I think there's one more left," Walsh said dangerously. "I'm sure you can find it if you stand there on the range."
"On the range, Sir?" Buzzwang was puzzled.
"On the range," Walsh had a glint in his eye. "In fact I think I might go down there again with you for some more target practice."
"We'll all go," Shane got up and followed them.
"Looks like we're going to have to wipe Buzzwang's mind again this year," Niko sighed. "What's it been now? Five times since he became a ranger?"
"Six, if you count the marshmallow plant in the cafeteria incident," Doc told her. "Which explains a lot about his behavior if you think about it."
"Now if it were only that simple to fix human behavior," Zozo groaned.