Author's Note: The sixth installment in the Holiday Chaos series. The last one was Towel Day and the first one was St. George's Day (for those of you just joining us).
Disclaimer: I don't own Power Rangers.
The jeep eased slowly around another outcropping of trees. Kim and Tommy groaned when they saw nothing but more dirt road and foliage ahead.
"We're lost," Kim said, leaning back into her seat and folding her arms.
"We're not lost," Tommy ground out. "This is where the directions said to go."
"Directions you got off of a scroll you found on a tree outside the house."
"Hey! There's no shame in getting directions from an unnamed source!"
"Do you know how Jason and I ended up scuba diving that morning?"
"We got a tip from a friend of his who owned a tattoo and piercing shop."
"That guy was probably a drug addict."
"He was. He now runs a rehab center."
Tommy nodded. "But that doesn't change the fact that those directions came from an unreliable source and these—"
"And a scroll of unknown origin is reliable?"
"Come on, Kim. Where's your sense of adventure? You used to be a Ranger!"
"I'm still a Ranger! But since high school, I've discovered this little used part of my mind. It's called common sense!"
"There is nothing wrong with—aaah!" Tommy practically stood on the break, barely managing to stop the jeep before it hit Conner.
"Conner!" Kim yelled, breathless. "What is wrong with you?"
"I'm not Conner. I'm Eric. And you guys are late."
Tommy quickly took in Eric's ninja uniform. He was about to snap at him for the "late" comment when Cam stepped out of the woods to their right.
"You should know better than to talk to two such great heroes like that, Eric. Go tell my father they've arrived. I'll take it from here."
Eric bowed and raced into the woods.
"He's actually not as bright as his brother," Cam said, smiling at the two.
"That's hard to believe," Tommy muttered.
"You invited us here?" Kim asked quickly.
"We did. You can park about a hundred yards up the road. Just go straight through the vines, it's safe."
With that Cam disappeared into the foliage, leaving Kim and Tommy to wonder if this was some sort of elaborate evil plot. Or worse: a plan by their friends to torment them. In the end Tommy's curiosity got the better of him and they forged ahead.
"Whoa," he said when the windshield had cleared the vines. The forest had opened into a very large clearing, filled with over two-dozen cars of all shapes and sizes.
"Dude!" TJ Henderson was waving frantically at them. "Get out of the street!"
Tommy realized that the jeep's backend was still back on the dirt road. He pulled up next to TJ's car and got out.
"What is going on here?" Tommy asked.
"No time," Carlos yelled, running up and grabbing Kim and Tommy's arms. "You two are late!" He ran them up the line of cars and through the woods, all the while ignoring their protests and questions.
"Whoa," Kimberly said. The forest had opened up once more to reveal a large building.
"Ninja Ops," Tommy said, smacking himself with his free hand even as Carlos ran them ahead. "I should have known."
Ninjas from all sorts of disciplines bowed as they passed.
"Ninja Ops?" Kim echoed.
"Yeah, it's where Ninja Storm trained and had their base. They used to be students here. Most of them anyway."
Carlos led them to a large red tent. "Here they are!" he called and shoved the pair through a curtain embroidered with the Air Ninja symbol.
"Finally!" Rocky's voice said.
Tommy blinked furiously, trying to adjust to the indoor light. They were in a smaller room within the tent, only about fifteen by fifteen feet. Rocky, Adam, and Aisha were standing a few feet away. They were wearing the ninja uniforms from their quest on Phaedos.
"What is going on?" Kim asked.
A blue curtain was pushed aside at the far end of the room and Tori rushed in. The look on her face was enough cause for Adam to lunge for his water bottle and close it tightly.
"Come on, Tor," Shane said, following closely behind Tori, his voice pleading. "It's not like it's an unfounded question."
Tori whirled to face him. "I am a Wind Ninja, Shane," she said angrily.
"I know that, but you're married to a—"
"What does it matter what he is?" Tori yelled. "My team is determined by what I am!"
Dustin and Blake rushed into the room and stood on either side of the two, trying to stop a hurricane from being created in the tent.
"Let it go, Shane," Hunter said, coming lazily through the door. "It's not like we need her anyway."
Blake threw his brother a look that was both pleading and sorry.
Tori marched purposefully across the room until she was mere inches from her brother-in-law's face. "Just for that, I'm gonna make your downfall embarrassing."
"Bring it, Water Ninja."
Tori turned, her hair smacking Hunter in the face, and walked up to Tommy and Kim. "I am so glad you guys could finally make it," she said, her voice its usual sweet lilt.
Dustin burst out laughing.
"I'm sorry," Kim said, "could someone please explain what's going on here?"
"Oh!" Aisha cried. "No one told them?"
"They were late," Cam said grouchily as he walked in behind Tommy and Kim.
Shane shot Cam a look and turned to the Olivers. He was about to explain, but Dustin beat him to it.
"Here's the deal. This," he waved his arms around wildly to encompass the tents and all surrounding activity, "is a game. A hundred years ago, when the Wind and Thunder academies were first founded, they didn't get along. Some old ninja dude had sent his two sons to America to found a school. He'd wanted them to do it together. But they had studied different disciplines and so founded different schools. Their students would go to the other school and steal stuff from each other—stuff like the school flags. Eventually the brothers died and their successors put a stop to the stealing, but the two schools still competed with each other. Sometime in the Sixties or Seventies they started having an annual game of capture the flag—on Flag Day," he added happily, "but when both schools started developing Ranger technologies at the same time, that stopped."
Shane cut in, "We brought the tradition back after Lothor was defeated, with one difference. We didn't want the students competing with each other, so we do it and we invited other Power Rangers too."
"This is our third year," Adam added.
Rocky pouted, "Billy came the last two times, but there was some sort of emergency on Triforia and he had to help out."
"So you guys have been doing this for three years," Kim said slowly.
"And you never invited us!" Tommy demanded in more a yell than a question.
Aisha cringed. "We didn't want to choose."
"What?" Tommy asked, confused.
Tori stepped up. "Kira told me about the two of you and when I talked to your other friends about it, it didn't seem like a good idea to invite the both of you until you reconciled, and we didn't want to invite one and not the other."
"Okay," Kim said, "so we're here to play capture the flag?"
"As ninjas," Hunter added.
Blake sighed. "Rocky, Adam, and Aisha are on Thunder team, you two will be on Wind—with Tori."
"All the other Rangers come out to watch," Dustin said eagerly. "It's totally cool."
"Why not?" Tommy shrugged.
Kim bit her tongue. If her husband wanted to lead them into insanity, fine. She'd have fun making him live it down on the ride home.
Tommy cursed his color scheme. Why couldn't he have become black when he was young, like Zack? Then he wouldn't be running for his life from insane Thunder ninjas. Hunter and Blake had been spared Lothor's second—or was it third?—attempt to corrupt Rangers and so he had never faced them in battle. Now he really wished he had.
Aisha, Rocky, and Adam were one thing—he'd been their leader, and though they didn't always show him the conventional amount of respect the title deserved, he knew he could take them. He knew their weaknesses, knew which buttons to push—but the Thunder Brothers were new to him. He'd known them for what—a day? Three, if he counted the weddings, but there had been no fighting at Blake's, and Tommy had been in a suite with Kim doing unmentionable things when the fighting broke out at his.
A bolt of electricity hit a tree just as he ran past it and he only had a millisecond to wonder just how accurate the Thunders' name could be before the shockwave hit him and his eardrums began pounding.
Whose idiotic idea was a Ninja capture the flag tournament?
Kim bit her lip to fight down the laughter. Tommy had rolled over onto his back and his once pristine ninja uniform was covered in grass stains, a black substance that she hoped was mud, and red splotches from the fallen berries of a nearby bush. Even stains had no sympathy for his fractured psyche.
"What's up?" Tori asked, gently alighting onto a branch a few inches below Kim's.
"Tommy just got beat by the Thunders."
"Brilliant," Tori chuckled.
"Aren't you worried they'll see us?"
"No. Blake isn't dumb enough to attack me during battle and Hunter—well…." Tori grinned and lifted her arms. She moved her hands in a circle, pulling the nearby water in and forming an orb about a foot wide. She schooled her features and looked more like a sensei than Kim had seen her all day before looking lazily down to make sure her aim was right and dropping the orb.
"Aaaaargh!" Hunter's yell echoed through the forest.
A mile away Dustin froze. His torso was sticking out of the ground and his hand was inches away from the Thunder Flag. Rocky, Adam, and Aisha all turned toward the sound of their teammate's roar, a fact which would have given Dustin a perfect chance for escape without discovery, had he not been Dustin.
"Nice," he breathed, knowing that the only possible cause for Hunter's anguished cry had to be Tori's revenge.
Rocky, Adam, and Aisha whirled around. "Get 'im!" Adam yelled. The three dove at Dustin.
Dustin jumped out of the ground, grabbed the flag and hauled tail for Wind territory.
"What are you doing here?" Cam demanded when he found Shane sitting with Marah and Kapri among the spectators. There wasn't much to spectate, but it was an excuse for old Rangers to get together—and of course for the Wind and Thunder students to mingle.
"They're handling it," Shane said lazily, popping a teeny weenie into his mouth.
A strangled cry of anger, pain, and coming revenge echoed across the field. Cam gestured wildly in the direction of the forest, as if the cry argued his case for him.
"That's just Hunter," Shane said, waving it off. "Tori probably got back at him. And—" he glanced up at the Sun, "by now he and Blake have taken Tommy down, just for the bragging rights. Dustin should be grabbing the Thunder Flag by now, if he's not already racing back to our side."
"How do you know all this?" Cam asked, dumbfounded.
"I'm the Red one, I have to. Now, who's up for s'mores?"
AN: I already know what happens next time, but I'm debating the holiday to relate it to. It should be in July. But that's good because most people update a lot in summer and you're all probably busy with their stuff. When new information becomes available I'll post it on my author page, and I try to tell reviewers that were anxious for the next installment when it does come out so worse comes to worse you'll find out then. Now, review! That way you're sure to know when the next one comes!