Disclaimer (for all chapters) Power Rangers doesn't belong to me, Ninja Storm doesn't belong to me, Blake and Tori and Shane and, well…nothing belongs to me but the words in between what belongs to others! There.
Summary: What if the Wind Rangers were hit by that memory-altering beam in "Return of Thunder," instead of Hunter and Blake? Featuring Tori, Shane, Dustin, Blake, Hunter. Angst, no slash.
Ninja Storm: Quest for Each Other
Chapter One: Reunions
A breeze peeled back the tree leaves and limbs and revealed the noonday sun to a half-asleep Blake Bradley. Blake rolled over, cracking his back along with the sticks beneath it. He groaned, and used his arms to force his midsection to bend up to a sitting position. "Hunt—?" he murmured before clearing his rusty throat and calling, "Hunter?" The crimson Thunder Ranger was nowhere in sight. Blake squinted at what was left of their nightly fire, and he saw footsteps in the ashes leading back down the mountain. "Great…" Blake sighed. "Wherever he's run off to, I hope he brings back breakfast."
As he stood, Blake's hand automatically reached for the morpher around his wrist. It was there, secure as always, and his backpack was right beside him. But still he felt exposed without Hunter. Any separation from his brother always unnerved him, even if it was a brief separation for a Coke. But Blake would never admit that. He wondered if Hunter felt the same way.
Blake brushed the leaves and twigs off of his black and navy suit, and out of his black hair. He stretched his arms out, and then his legs, slowly but with purpose. Gradually, he began to speed up his stretches into kicks and punches, warming up his muscles and speeding his heart rate. He and Hunter were alone in the mountains, they thought, but Blake always started off every morning assuming they weren't. They led uncertain lives, and he wanted to always be certain that he could defend his life, and his brother's, if he had to.
It was during his daily sparring with a tree branch that a puddle of crystal blue water seemed to form at his feet from nowhere. All Blake knew was that he nearly stepped in it, and when he looked down, a face was looking back up at him.
"Blake," Tori's image said from the water. She continued speaking before he could ask what was going on. "If you're getting this message, Blake, I'm in trouble, so listen closely. The Wind Rangers were contacted by one of Lothor's followers who decided to defect. He says he can get us onto Lothor's ship and this morning Dustin, Shane and I are going. I made this message before I left, just in case. If everything had gone smoothly on the mission, I would've deactivated this. Since it obviously hasn't…we need your help. You're the only backup we've got. Help me—Help us, Blake. Contact Cam and—"
Blake had knelt down until his nose was nearly touching Tori's in the water. As he listened, he tuned out everything else around him. So it was quite a surprise when a boot suddenly splashed into the puddle, dissolving it in the middle of Tori's sentence. Slowly, Blake raised his head, afraid of who or what he was about to see. But he blinked, and grinned.
"Tori!" Blake leapt to his feet and pulled a smiling, safe Tori into a hug. "Have you lost your mind? You scared me!"
"Sorry, Blake," she said into his cheek as they hugged. "We just got back, but not in time for me to deactivate the message, so I just followed it to you."
Blake found himself holding onto her blonde hair for dear life. He didn't think he could will himself to let go if he tried. "I'm glad you did, Tori, I'm so glad you're ok."
"I am, I'm fine," she said. "Everything went fine."
If Blake had taken the time to really look at her, he would've seen the evil in her eyes. There was a silver dagger in Tori's hand. She leveled it with Blake's lower ribs, and pushed.
Hunter Bradley pulled a baseball cap as low over his face as it could go. He was on the sidelines, watching the motor cross races, and not for the first time that moment he wondered why he wasn't out there. It just wasn't like him to watch and not participate. If he saw a race, he got involved. If he saw a fight or a game of Scrabble, he was in. But he and Blake had decided to keep a low profile for now, knowing that Lothor was probably after them. And so he had to be content with hiding in the shadows, ignoring people, and staying off the track. "And we're doing this why?" Hunter muttered to himself before sighing. "Sure we're safe…but boy am I bored." Hunter's eyes narrowed as he watched the race. He knew he could take that curve better than that guy, accelerate smoother than that guy, stick a landing better than that guy…
Hunter stiffened. "Shane. Dustin."
The two Wind Rangers were suddenly in front of him, grinning in greeting, but uneasily. "Hey man," Dustin said, "good to see you." Dustin was dressed in loose jeans and a tight yellow t-shirt, and there were bits of dirt on him that had splattered from the track. Shane had a skateboard under one arm and his helmet under the other. He looked at Hunter as if he didn't know whether to shake his hand or defend himself. But Dustin extended his, and Hunter let him pull him to his feet.
"Yeah, it's good to see you too." Hunter tested himself, and was surprised to find that he actually meant that. He relaxed.
"We thought you'd be in Canada or something by now," Shane said. Hunter watched the red ranger relax at the same rate he did.
"Yeah, well, I guess we can't go too far without being drawn back to dirt bikes and, you know, showers." Hunter loosened his posture even more and put his hands in his pockets.
Dustin folded his arms at his chest and cheerily said, "So we were about to go grab a burger if you'd like to come with."
Hunter's hesitation was headed off by Shane's enthusiasm. "And we'll buy, dude. For Blake too. Let's just, you know, catch up? We'll tell you about the monsters we've had fun with since you left and you can tell us about…uh…whatever you've been doing."
Hunter chuckled and nodded. "Sure. All right, sure." He'd just turned to pick up his backpack when he felt something like a bee sting press against the back of his neck. Hunter felt himself go limp, watched as his cap fell off, and suddenly he was on the grass, helpless. As Shane's fist came at his face, he wondered if Blake was all right.