A mishap on an off-world mission leaves Sky to fend for himself and his incapacitated team. What's a reluctant babysitter to do?
Jack, Sky, Bridge, Z, and Sydney were crowded on a tiny shuttle craft. The shuttle was SPD's fastest; any other space ship would have taken at least two days longer to travel from Earth to their destination. They'd been pursing the alien called Nino for months and he had finally been spotted on a small planet in the Jatex Galaxy. Now they hoped to be only an hour or so away from apprehending him. The strange thing was that Kat had handed each of them a bag before they left, saying, "Just in case; don't open them unless you absolutely have to."
"So what do you think is in these bags?" asked Jack, poking the one at his feet with the tip of his shoe.
"Don't know, and I hope we never have to find out," said Sky. "Kat said they were only for emergencies; I plan for this trip to go smoothly."
Sydney agreed, "Yeah, I've just got to get back before the next season of American Idol starts." The other rangers stared at her. "What?"
Z rolled her eyes. "Never mind, Syd. Just never mind."
"Hey guys, I can see the planet! We should be there in thirty minutes, give or take," Bridge announced.
Z turned up the volume on her mp3 player and leaned back. "Great. Wake me up when we get there."
"Well, at least we found him!" Bridge said, always the optimistic one.
Miserably Sydney tried to wipe the dirt off of her back. "I'd say he found us," she grumbled. They had landed barely an hour ago in one of the few large clearings on the thickly forested planet Silva and immediately began a sweep of the planet. After more than forty-five minutes of encountering nothing but small animals, Nino had jumped out of a tree and ambushed the rangers. His surprise attack had sent them to the ground.
Jack was already back on his feet. "Nino, you are under arrest for–"
"Destroying the Power Rangers!" Nino cackled. He fired at Jack with a small gun. Jack underestimated the weapon because of its size and did not move far enough out of the way. He yelled when the laser burned the side of his arm and, once again, found himself staring at the canopy of branches above. He blinked and the leaves were replaced with Z's face.
She smirked and held out her hand, "Jack, how many times do I have to tell you: that is a terrible excuse to try and look up our skirts – especially when both Sydney and I are wearing pants."
He groaned but accepted her hand anyway. "Not funny, Z. Now let's morph and take down the real joker!"
Z grimaced, "Do the bad puns come with the red morpher or something?"
Jack ignored her comment and raised his morpher. "Ready?!"
The other rangers lined up behind him. "Ready! SPD emergency!" The blue and green ranger charged Nino with their deltamax strikers, closely followed by pink and yellow. Jack waited until his teammates were clear and fired his delta blasters at the criminal.
Nino staggered for a moment, his bulky grey body smoking. Then he straightened his spine and laughed, turning to face the rangers. "You are going to have to do better than that if you want to catch me, rangers!" he aimed his gun at the rangers again. "Let's see what happens when I raise the setting!" His thumb pushed up at the same time as his index finger pulled back on the trigger. The rangers scattered, narrowly avoiding a blast that left a hole in the trunk of a thick, moss-covered tree.
"Hey Z!" shouted the pink ranger. "Why don't we show this guy a little girl power?"
Yellow nodded, "It's what I live for, princess."
"Want a boost?" asked the green ranger at her shoulder.
Under her helmet, pink grinned and grabbed the red ranger's arm. "Jack can help, too. We'd love a lift."
The two boys knelt down and used their hands and knees to create a spring board. The red and green rangers propelled their teammates into the air, one right after the other, so pink was only seconds behind yellow. The girls hit Nino with a rapid series of attacks, eventually landing just behind him. The red, green, and blue rangers ran forward to take advantage of Nino's concentration on his back. It was only the blue ranger who noticed that Nino was not trying to swat away the girls; he was taking something out of a bag hidden under his long brown trench coat.
"Guys, look out!" blue yelled, quickly backing away from the criminal. As soon as the words were out of his mouth Nino had tossed a grenade into the air. Just as quickly Nino grabbed a low-hanging branch and climbed up a tree, putting himself out of harm's way. There was a deafening explosion that knocked all of the rangers backwards, leaving them demorphed.
Sky had managed to avoid the brunt of the explosion but the force knocked him against a tree several feet away. Once his head stopped spinning he stood up and tried to see through the thick smoke caused by the explosion. Sky ran to where his friends had been only seconds before, but found no one. He called desperately through the grey, "Guys! Are you okay? Bridge? Sydney? Z? Jack?" The only answer came from above his head.
"So one did get away! This will make things so much more fun! Good luck babysitting!" Nino cackled. Sky growled; he could not chase the alien's shadow through the trees and help his friends at the same time. It was times like these he wished he had Z's powers.
Sky decided his injured teammates were more important. He called for them again and finally received an answer. "I otay," the pink ranger's voice sounded far away.
"Where are you?!" Sky called. He felt a tug on his pant leg and looked down. A little girl with blonde curls and big blue eyes looked up from somewhere around his knees. She wore an adult's ranger uniform that was quickly falling off of her little body. Sky recognized her not because of the uniform, but because of the eyes; eyes that had never aged. "S-Sydney?"
"Who else, silly-head? You bay sighter for all us?"
It took Sky a moment to decipher her childish grammar. He took a deep breath, "A babysitter for all of who?"
Sydney pointed behind her. A slightly older boy with dark skin and dreads gave Sky a smirk, and on the ground behind them were two infants. Each wore a familiar SPD uniform. Sky paled, "Oh shi…" he glanced back at the children and rethought his word choice. "Oh sugar honey ice tea. This is not happening." He pulled out his morpher and called SPD Earth. "This is B-squad blue requesting assistance," he tried to sound calm.
"What's the problem?"
Sky was eternally relieved to hear Kat's voice on the other end, instead of some cadet with duty in the Command Center. "Kat, we have a major problem!" he yelled into the morpher. "You are not going to believe this, but there was an explosion and Jack, Sydney, Z, and Bridge are…well, they're…um, kind of…"
"Children?" Kat interrupted. "Yes, I was hoping Nino had not been able to retrieve his time grenades, but apparently my hopes were in vain. That is a problem."
"Kat, what do I do?! I can't fly the shuttle by myself, and I can't go after Nino without my team! Could you send back-up?" asked Sky.
Kat's reply was hesitant. "I'm sorry, Sky, but it will be at least three days before reinforcements can reach you. Until then, you are going to have to take care of your teammates."
"NO WAY! Kat, I hate kids and kids hate me. I don't even know how to hold a baby, and Bridge and Z are definitely not old enough to walk. If it weren't for their uniforms, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between those two!"
"Sky, Z is a girl and Bridge is a boy. There is a pretty obvious difference."
"But they're my teammates and that would be disrespectful!" Sky protested.
Sky could almost hear Kat roll her eyes. "I'm going to assume you don't know how to change a diaper then. Look, Sky, this is an emergency situation. If one of them had a deep, possibly infected wound on their thigh would you hesitate to take off their pants?"
"Relax, they will forgive you. I know this will not be your easiest mission, but I'll send you my personal number so that you can call me any time. The duffel bags I sent with you are filled with baby supplies, just for this purpose. I believe yours also has a parenting guide book," Kat explained.
Sky sighed, "How do I get them back to the shuttle?"
"Who can walk?"
"Jack and Sydney."
"Tell them that you'll show them a secret hideout if they follow you. Carry Z and Bridge," she said.
"It's very simple. Make sure you support their heads with your elbows and carefully carry one in each arm, like – like you would carry a woman out of a burning building if you wanted to look heroic."
Sky bit his lip, looking down at his team. "I'll try, Kat, but I can't promise they'll make it back without brain damage…oh good God, why is it always me?!" He hung up.
As soon as she'd closed the line with Sky, Kat threw back her head and laughed. Other cadets stared at her, but the corners of Cruger's mouth twitched into a smile. "Time grenade?" Kat could only nod in answer. "Who managed to escape?"
This time, Kat managed to gasp out, "Sky!" Cruger joined her laughter, allowing the cadets to see their usually strict commander in a moment of light-heartedness.