I don't own PRNS or any of the characters, nor do I make any money from this work of fiction.
Pairings: Hunter/Cam, Blake/Tori
Summary: The Rangers are powerless and Cam goes back in time to get the amulet. When he comes back, the answers he finds aren't exactly the ones he wanted.
Notes: The author is alive! Happy two year anniversary to this story--I'm working through it guys, don't give up on me yet! Cam's part in this will be similar to 'A Samurai's Journey,' since I think that plot was well-done, so expect to only see Cam for a few moments at a time. Most of this will focus on the Rangers and Sensei Nakamura, who is left behind to field their questions.
The Choices We Make
Chapter Twenty-Three – Samurai Remix
The Rangers were sprawled out around Ops as Cam rapidly typed on his computer, trying to find a solution to their problem.
"Dude, this sucks," groaned Dustin, spread-eagled on the ground.
"You're going through withdrawal," Cam told them, frowning at his screen. "Your powers have been almost completely drained."
"English, Cam," said Shane, annoyed.
"You've been hyped up on Power for so long that not having it is making you tired—and irritable, apparently," Cam told him, daring him to contradict the statement.
Shane looked appropriately chastised. "Sorry, bro," he apologized. "This just…"
"Sucks," Cam finished for him. "I'm aware."
"We need to get the sphere back. We can't let Lothor have our powers," said Tori, attempting to focus.
Cam sighed. "You shouldn't be doing anything," he told her. "You guys are in no shape to fight."
"So give us some super-geeked up gadget," grumbled Hunter, pushing himself up. "There's no way I'm letting that freak of an alien get away with my powers."
"Definitely," agreed Shane, pushing himself up as well. "We've gotta fight."
He was probably going to regret this. "I can give you a temporary power boost," he told them. "Emphasis on the temporary. It won't last long, but if you get the sphere back it'll be worth it."
Right after he sent them out, a knock came on the outside entryway. Cam opened the doors to admit Sensei Nakamura.
"I heard of the recent battle and the subsequent loss of the Ranger powers," he told Cam. "Is there some way I may be of assistance?"
Cam was hard-pressed to refuse help at this moment. "If you could monitor their energy levels on this screen, I'd be grateful," he replied.
The two of them watched the battle with concern. It was obvious that the Rangers weren't exactly at their best. Madtropolis was taking advantage of their weakness, tricking them into attacking each other.
"I am not as adept as your father at this skill," murmured Sensei Nakamura, closing his eyes, "But I should be able to aid them."
Ninja telepathy. It was a skill Cam had never had much interest in. He had enough going on in his mind that he was more than happy to remain ignorant of what went on in the minds of others. But he had to admit to its usefulness when the Rangers snapped out of their confusion and managed to get out of the warehouse with the sphere.
"I should be able to teleport the sphere back," said Cam, talking to himself, the Rangers, and Sensei Nakamura at once. "But since we don't know how to open it…"
"Cameron, the problem at hand has just increased exponentially," said Sensei Nakamura, gaze fixed on the screen.
The Rangers would never last in a Zord battle. He told them as much, but as per usual they were too stubborn to listen. He teleported the sphere back and sent them the Zords, against his better judgment.
"A scarf?!" exclaimed Shane indignantly. "You sent us a scarf?!"
Under any other circumstances Cam might've laughed at that. But he was on the verge of panicking, so instead he told Shane to shut up and deal with it—politely, of course—while frantically trying to come up with a way to help.
Sensei Nakamura hadn't spoken since Madtropolis had been enlarged. Now he looked like he had resigned himself to a decision.
"There is a power source that might help," he told Cam.
"What? Where is it?" demanded Cam, too worried to deal with respect and formalities.
Here Sensei Nakamura hesitated, and Cam told him seriously, "Sensei, if this will help them I need to know. Even if it goes against everything my father wanted for me."
"You are a good man, Cameron," said Sensei Nakamura at last. "You will be a great warrior. The power you require is not in this time. You need to use the Scroll of Time to find it—you will know it when you see it."
Cam retrieved the scroll immediately, feeling its power practically sear into his hand. "What about the others?" he asked, not too caught up to forget their wellbeing.
"Time will stop, until the scroll returns. And it will do so with or without you," answered Sensei Nakamura. "Be very cautious, Cameron. The past holds temptations that have bettered even the most honorable of men."
Cam nodded tersely and released the scroll. It opened before him, glowing with ancient knowledge. With one last look back, he walked in and vanished.
Sensei Nakamura sighed, looking at the monitor. "Forgive me, Kanoi…Miko," he murmured quietly. "This was the only way I saw that might end well for us all."
He had been a traditionalist for a very long time, initially opposed to the idea of an untrained novice leading the Wind Academy. But Cameron had exceeded all expectations, had grown into his own and had openly defied not only his peers, but his teachers for what he believed in. And as he considered the consequences of his choice, its sheer rightness seemed to resound throughout the empty room. The disappearance of the amulet so long ago, the mysterious visitor to the Academy, Kiya's banishment and Miko's insistence that her child not be trained as a ninja…yes, it did make sense in light of Cameron's mission.
He hit the button that would bring the Rangers back. The other sensei would not be pleased with his decision, but they would come to understand it in time.
Time was all they had, now.
The Rangers landed in Ninja Ops with a thump in the middle of Ops.
"Ow, Cam," complained Shane, rubbing his leg. "What the…Sensei?"
"Where's Cam?" asked Blake warily, as they stood.
Katsuo Nakamura sighed. The Thunder Rangers did not trust him, nor did they trust the Wind Academy as a whole. Understandable, as they had not been given a reason to. But to see the Wind Rangers, his former students, looking so guarded…it pained him.
"Cameron has gone on a quest to retrieve a power source that will, with all luck, enable you to win this battle," he told them.
"Where did he go?"
Questions bombarded him, and he held up a hand to quiet them. They still retained enough respect for his status that they silenced themselves immediately.
"Sensei," said Shane, their chosen leader, "Could you explain, please? Why is time frozen? Where did Cam go, and what is he looking for?"
"I will tell you what I can," replied their teacher carefully. "The rest will be Cameron's story to share, should he choose to do so."
They sprawled out on the floor, obviously too weary to move much, and he seated himself on the computer chair before continuing.
"There was an amulet, in times past, that held an incredible amount of power," he began. "This amulet was lost some time ago, but it was the only power I could think of that might enable your team to emerge from this battle victorious. Cameron has used the Scroll of Time to enter the past to retrieve the amulet from its last known location. That is why time is frozen. It will remain that way until the scroll returns."
A heavy pause, and then:
"He did what?" asked Blake, the five of them momentarily roused from their weariness.
"Cameron has gone back in time," repeated Sensei Nakamura patiently. "The amulet is a powerful relic that may help you regain your powers. At one time it was kept by a member of the Academy, but it was lost more than twenty years ago. Cameron, with all hope, will find it and return safely."
"With all hope?" demanded Hunter. "Are you kidding me? You just tossed the guy back in time without any kind of help and all you can say is that you hope he makes it back with whatever it is you sent him to find?"
"Hunter," said Tori sharply, reprimanding him for his disrespect.
"What?" snapped Hunter, tired and irritable, "You heard him! He said that time will be frozen until the scroll comes back—not Cam. Cam might not even come back!"
"…Sensei, is that true?" asked Dustin.
"It is true that the scroll will return, with or without Cameron," acknowledged Sensei Nakamura, but he gave Hunter a stern look and added, "However, he was fully aware of this risk before he agreed to this undertaking."
Tori murmured something quietly to Shane, who nodded in agreement and shared a look with Hunter. The two of them conversed silently through gazes and Hunter sighed, scowling.
"Point," he muttered, albeit reluctantly. He nodded at Blake as Tori gave Dustin a reassuring smile.
It was extraordinary, how close they had become within a few months' time. A few words and eye contact, and the entire group had gone from upset to merely concerned for their friend's wellbeing. These students…they were truly something special.
Hunter didn't like surprises. Hell, he hated surprises. To come back to Ops to find that Cam had gone off on some half-assed "mission" pissed him off as much as it worried him. But Tori knew Cam, and Shane had communicated her point well enough: no one could make Cam do anything he really didn't want to do.
Which just meant that Cam was crazy. But he'd kind of figured that out already. Now all they could do was wait, which was another thing Hunter hated. He was at his best when he was doing something. He didn't like feeling useless, but his limbs felt like they were lead and even nodding at Blake had felt like a challenge.
So he waited. And waited, and finally he felt the disorienting surge of teleportation when they were dumped back in the place they'd been before time stopped. Finally, some action.
Of course, he remembered belatedly, the action happened to be the giant alien about to crush them. Suddenly lying around in Ops sounded like a better plan.
When time resumed its natural course and Cameron did not immediately appear, Katsuo thought he might know how the young man had felt—uncertainty in the face of a decision made. Had he made the right choice, letting Kanoi's son go off on his own? He only knew what had happened until the point in time where Cameron disappeared—he had assumed it meant the boy would come back safely, but had he guessed incorrectly?
His hand clenched briefly on the mouse—his only outward sign of distress. Then he shook off his worries and straightened, continuing his observation of the fight. Doubts would do him no good in this situation. The choice had been made. There was no sense in wondering.
A sharp rap sounded upon the doors, and he knew his coworkers had sensed something amiss. He opened the doors to admit the other sensei.
"The Scroll of Time has been used. What happened?" asked Sensei Garcia, alarmed.
"Where is Cameron?" added Sensei Hayashi.
"I permitted Cameron to use the Scroll of Time, in hopes that he would find the samurai amulet," said Sensei Nakamura simply.
"This is exactly what we were trying to prevent!" exclaimed Sensei Tanaka. "You do not know the ramifications of your actions!"
"I considered the available options, and chose the one that was most likely to end well," replied Sensei Nakamura.
"Miko's wishes—" began Sensei Tanaka.
"Miko would not wish for her son or his friends to suffer under Lothor," interrupted Sensei Hayashi on his behalf. "Nor would Kanoi. Katsuo made a difficult decision under pressure. Is that not the equanimity we teach our students to strive for?"
"This was not just his decision to make," pointed out Sensei Garcia.
"Did this decision really belong to any of us?" countered Sensei Nakamura.
A commotion from the monitors caught their attention, and they turned to see a green helicopter attacking the alien.
"No," said Sensei Hayashi, smiling slightly. "This choice always belonged to Cameron."
When he saw green, Hunter thought he was hallucinating. At least he could say it wasn't just him, though. The others seemed just as confused when a new Green Ranger appeared just in time, beating Madtropolis with an ease that was enough to inspire envy. The newcomer landed in front of them and was immediately bombarded with questions.
Tori got it first, of course, stepping forward with a knowing grin. "Told you that you'd make a great Ranger," she said.
"Yeah, well," said the voice they knew all too well, "Don't let it go to your head." Then the suit disappeared and it was Cam, standing there like he swooped in and saved their butts every day. Well, he did, but usually it wasn't in green spandex.
He was pretty sure he was still loopy from Power withdrawal. And that was when it happened.
Cam was grinning, and looked happy for the first time in Hunter's recent memory, and Hunter's stomach tightened and he felt his heart speed up ever so slightly. He knew himself, knew what this meant, and yet strove to deny it with every fiber in his being.
No. No way.
This was not happening.
No, he's not having a heart attack :) I think this chapter ran a little short, but there was a lot of stuff going on, so I think content made up for length, in this case. Thank you all for sticking with me--writing is a passion of mine but still a hobby, and sometimes hobbies have to be shelved for your ultimate goals to be reached. I still fully intend on finishing this story though, so please continue to be patient with me; readers are what fuel my writing. Until next time!