Author's Note- This fic features Teddy Oliver almost exclusively. I know, I know, I'm focusing on a made-up character, but he wouldn't leave me alone. And you know how good Olivers are at puppy-dog eyes. Also, dialogue found between () is translated from Japanese. Which reminds me- when Teddy is speaking to Mrs. Fujikawa, the word he is actually calling her is "obaa-san." I've translated this as "Grandmother," because that has the closest connotations. It's often used as a form of respectful address, even to an elderly non-relative. It literally translates to "old woman," but that sounds disrespectful in English. Oh, and there is no such sound as "Dee" in Japanese. So "Teji" is how Mrs. Fujikawa would pronounce "Teddy" and "chan" is a term of endearment. Double vowels (e.g. "Doozo,") are pronounced as such, stretching the vowel sound out for two beats. (Doh-oh-zo.) Now that we've had our language lesson for the day, on with the fic! (GOD, that was a long Author's Note...)
Tommy Oliver was constantly amazed by his little brother's typing speed. He himself was no slouch at finding his way around the keyboard, but Teddy's typing skills put professional secretaries to shame. Once, Tommy had decided to time Teddy, just for something to do. The younger boy had clocked in at seventy-five words per minute. Tommy could only explain it as coming from the inordinate amount of practice Teddy got.
As Tommy came down the stairs this evening, he saw his younger brother seated before the computer, fingers flying away. This in itself was not unusual. Teddy had the computer reserved from eight to ten at night, under the family's system. The Oliver family only had one computer, a strategy adopted by Sarah to keep the rest of the family from turning into Net potatoes. Not that Sarah didn't appreciate the computer, but the only thing she was into was the Food Network. Daniel used it to pay his bills, Tommy had fallen in love with the computer games, Chelsea was playing around with some of the graphics programs, and Teddy- Teddy had found himself involved in the wonderful world of online fandom.
Tommy grinned as he entered the study, noting the look of intense concentration on his younger brother's face. "So what's up in the world of TH fandom this evening?"
"Hmm?" The thirteen-year-old looked up from the screen, smiling as he saw his older brother. "Not much, just chatting," Teddy replied. "I'm doing some research for my new fanfic."
"Who're you talking to?"
"Miko- you know, the one who knows everything about sentai? I need some information about the Nezuman vehicles from the third season."
"Right." Frankly, Tommy tended to get lost very quickly when Teddy started talking about the Turbo Heroes television show. Sure, he'd watched it a couple times, and had in fact found the adapted program fairly amusing. He just wasn't much of a fan. "So I would imagine you're not going to the tournament with me, right?"
"No, I'm just gonna let you and Jason go male-bond or whatever." Enjoying his barb, Teddy didn't duck quickly enough when his brother reached out to catch him in a headlock. "Hey, watch the hair!"
Tommy laughed. Sometimes Teddy sounded entirely too much like him. Releasing the boy, he watched in amusement as Teddy straightened himself up and promptly began typing. Leaning in, Tommy read the words off the screen.
CyberDragon: Sorry about the time lag, guys. My Neanderthal brother decided to re-establish the pecking order.
Phasm Hero: Perfectly understandable. Is this the black belt?
SirSTACK: Phasm, they're BOTH black belts, remember?
Miko: And the sister. Where are you again, Ted?
CyberDragon: Brown. And be careful what you say, guys. He's demonstrating his lack of manners again by reading over my shoulder.
Tommy pulled back looking sheepish. "Sorry... Seriously, are you going to be okay in the house alone?"
"Yes, Tommy." Teddy rolled his eyes. "I'm thirteen. I can take care of myself. Mom and Dad trust me, otherwise they wouldn't have gone out to their anniversary dinner without getting a baby-sitter. Chill."
"Hey, I'm just worried about my baby brother." Tommy cast another look at the computer screen. "Now, you're sure none of these people are psychos?"
The Red Zeo Ranger decided that this was his cue to leave.
While writing, Teddy Oliver usually entered an almost trance state. It became almost impossible to get his attention, and his family usually had to shake him to get him to look up. Tonight was no exception, as his fingers flew over the keys.
A flash of light and a low rumble, coming from the park not too far away, broke his reverie. Hitting the save button out of habit, Teddy stood up and headed to the window. After living almost six years in Angel Grove, he had become quite familiar with the sound of objects hurtling through Earth's atmosphere, and it sounded as if something had crashed in the park. The question was, should he try and get in contact with Tommy, or go check it out himself? If this were a plot by one of the numerous villains circling the planet, it would be silly to place himself in danger. However, it didn't really match up with the style of any of those villains. Except for Dark Specter, the Alliance members generally possessed all the subtlety of a two-by-four to the back of the head. And Specter was currently occupied with sending his Neji Rangers.
So Teddy doubted it was a monster attack. Which meant that someone had
crashed into the park, probably not on purpose, and could quite likely
be hurt. That thought made up his mind. Quickly, he glanced at the clock-
10:30. Since it was Friday, and therefore not a school night, Tommy could
be out QUITE late, and his parents would be dining and dancing to the wee
hours of the morning. Nobody would know if he sneaked down to the park,
and Angel Grove was a pretty safe place, if you didn't count the monsters.
Heading out the door, Teddy grabbed his jacket. It was the middle of November,
Reaching the park, he almost immediately came upon the crash site. "Man, the groundskeepers are going to be pissed," he remarked, seeing that the falling craft had scooped yet another substantial divot out of the turf. The Parks Department was going through sod at an alarming rate.
Carefully, he moved closer to the downed ship, appraising its appearance. A round, semi-streamlined egg, it looked like nothing so much as a pre-fabricated escape pod, with fins and some sort of drive. No weapons were visible, and Teddy moved a little closer to the crater.
That was when he saw the movement from the hole. The canopy of the pod was open, so Teddy figured that the pilot was trying to get out of the crater. Moving to the edge, he saw something rather unexpected. A girl of about his age was scrabbling at the edges, trying to climb them. She was hampered, however, by the ankle-length, flame-orange gown that she wore. He had to admit, it looked good on her, contrasting nicely with pale skin and dark hair.
"Excuse me," he called down. "Can I offer you a hand?"
She looked up at him, and for a moment didn't seem to understand. Then her puzzled expression cleared, and she nodded. "Please. Are you an Earth native?"
"Yeah," Teddy responded, leaning down. The girl grabbed his hands, and he managed to pull her up the side of the hole, while she assisted by bracing her feet against the walls. Finally he got her to the top. "My name's Teddy Oliver."
"Angharad, Princess of Cimmera," she responded, attempting to appear dignified. She was so covered in mud, however, that she simply looked like a drowned cat. "I have come to Earth on a mission of great importance."
"Well, I think you'd better change clothes before you get sick," Teddy responded. "If you'll come back to my place, you can clean up, and maybe I can help you."
For a moment, Angharad looked as if she would protest. She fixed Teddy with amber eyes, eyes that seemed almost orange in the half-light of the moon. Then she nodded. "Please. I could use a run through the refresher."
"Um, Princess?" Teddy sounded apologetic as he led her back towards
his house. "Things are a little different here than you're probably used
Teddy looked up as Angharad came down the stairs, momentarily glad that Tommy had gone off to the tournament this evening. Otherwise, his brother would be teasing him unmercifully about having a girl in the shower. "Did you find everything all right?"
Angharad nodded. "Yes, although I find it hard to believe that your people still clean themselves with water. The scented soap was nice, though."
"I'll tell my sister you liked it." Pulling a chair from the kitchen table, Teddy noticed how different Angharad looked, now wearing an orange T-shirt and a pair of his jeans. "I just thought of something- how do you speak English? I know I don't have powers to act as universal translators."
"I have translation spell cast on me," she explained. "It picks up the first language I hear, and causes me to speak and understand that one. Very handy when you don't know where you'll end up."
"Which brings us to the question of why you're on Earth in the first place. Did a ship crash or something?"
"No. You see, my home planet is under attack by Kaiju, the Dark Wizard. His creatures are trying to conquer us and enslave my people. Our legends say that in our darkest hour, the line of the king will free the Koryuu Phoenix, and its power shall free our people. When this attack came, our wizards searched the galaxy and found the Phoenix's avatar was on Earth. So I came here, in part to find the Phoenix, and in part to escape from the battle."
"This avatar- it's an Earth person?"
"Yes. According to the writings, the avatar of the Phoenix is the child of Destiny. He and all his line have the lines of destiny running strong within them. They are heroes and centers for the events that occur. I must find the avatar by sunrise, or the chance will be lost to free the Phoenix for another solar year, and I do not believe our world can survive that long."
Teddy smiled. "You're in luck, then. I think I know who your Phoenix is. Child of Destiny? It's got to be my brother, Tommy. He's the leader of Earth's Rangers, formerly the Green Ranger, and the whole family has strange abilities. Heck, his Zord is even the Phoenix! I'll call him."
"We must hurry. I believe the Wizard has followed me here."
"Tommy? Tommy, come in." Nothing but static answered Teddy's communicator call. "Shit, this is not good. Zordon!" Still nothing. Teddy cocked an eyebrow at Angharad. "Does this Wizard guy have the ability to jam communications?" At her nod, he sighed. "I was afraid of that. Now- can he track you?"
"To within a hundred-yard radius."
Teddy's response to that was a curse more commonly heard in the shipyards
of Eltare. "Then the last thing we want to do is hang around here. We'll
be sitting ducks. Come on; we'll head to the Youth Center on foot, and
try to hook up with Tommy there."
Safe streets or not, being out on the streets of Angel Grove after eleven was NOT a fun prospect. Especially not when you were trying to avoid the minions of an evil Wizard by staying out of direct light. Teddy's nerves were humming as he led Angharad down the darkened street. He knew quite well that his Oliver blood and Green personality were flashing his location to any villains in the vicinity. It was like wearing a big neon sign.
"Angharad? What's your planet like?" he asked, hoping to find something to take his mind off his nervousness.
"It's so beautiful," she responded. "It's warmer than your Earth, since we circle a binary star. We have two moons, as well, Hitori and Akama."
"What do you like to do for fun?"
"Sneak out of the palace." There was an obvious smile in Angharad's voice. "It gets so boring sometimes, being a princess. Especially the youngest of three. My oldest sister, Aerin, will receive the crown when our parents die, so she spends all her time training to be Queen. History, politics, etiquette- the classes would drive me insane, but at least it's something to DO. She goes all around the planet, seeing how everything works.
"Then there's my middle sister, Kaeri. She's trained to be a Priestess of the Flame, like the second child of the king has on our planet since anyone can remember. She studies magic, healing- heck, she spends more time at the Temple than she does at home!
"Me? I'm the third child, the one nobody was expecting. It's pretty clear I was an accident, even though my parents love me. But there's no future for me, so I'm pretty much given the run of the palace, but aside from my general studies, I don't have anything to do."
Teddy nodded. "I kind of know how that is, in a way. I'm the youngest of three- or maybe of four, depending on how you look at it. Tommy, he's the Red Ranger, leader of the Zeo Rangers and a planetary legend! He's a hero, an incredible warrior, and a phenomenal commander. Then there's Chelsea, my sister. She's also a great fighter- heck, she's one of the Deshaadra, the galactic warrior elite! Not to mention that she's going to marry Trey of Triforia in a few years and probably be Queen. And I can't forget David, Tommy's OTHER twin. He's a great Ranger- the only reason he didn't stay on the team is because he doesn't want to. He's a healer, too, trained by his adopted father, and just by virtue of the fact that he's a natural White. Don't get me wrong, I love my brothers and my sister, but- after all that, what is there for me to be?"
"It's hard to be the overshadowed one," Angharad mused. "Sometimes, when I can't stand it anymore, I'll sneak out of the palace and go riding on the Currents of Flame, off to the west. Those are powerful wind currents that come up out of a canyon, off the lava flow at the bottom. I managed to make friends with a gyrfalcon, and he lets me ride him until we're both exhausted."
"Man, I wish I could do that." Teddy's voice was wistful. "I've always wanted to fly- I think it comes in the Oliver bloodline. Tommy's had two ground Zords and two flying Zords, and he's repeatedly said he'll stay in the air. He let me fly the Phoenix, once... It was awesome."
"How could you fly his Zord without powers?"
"Well, the Power is really only necessary to start the thing, like the keys to a car." Seeing Angharad's blank look, Teddy dropped the analogy and moved on. "Anyway, after that, anybody can pilot the thing. Of course, without Power-enhanced reflexes, your chances in battle totally stink, but for just flying, you do fine."
A sudden rustling sound caught Teddy's attention, and he raised a hand to cut Angharad off as she moved to respond. "Houston, we have a problem," he murmured. "I think we're about to have company."
As if in response to his words, a tall man stepped out of the shadows. He was clad in black battle armor, with an opaque visor hiding his face. "Surrender the princess, and you are free to go, boy," he drawled.
"Go jump in a lake," Teddy snapped back, pushing Angharad behind him. "You could use the bath."
"You are surrounded, outnumbered, and unarmed," the soldier responded, as more began to appear. "Surrender, and the Dark Wizard will be merciful."
Teddy's response was short, to the point- and two of the least pleasant words in the Triforian language. Behind him, Angharad whistled.
"Can you fight?" he asked her quietly.
"I know a few moves."
"Then head for that white garage when I say the word. GO!" Throwing himself to one side, Teddy caught the nearest soldier completely by surprise. A quick snap kick had the man on the ground, clutching a definitely broken knee. Beside him, Teddy saw Angharad escape the grasp of a soldier by stamping down hard on his foot and launching a kick into his groin. Then the two of them were off and running for the garage Teddy had indicated.
"Now what?" Angharad asked, as the two of them reached the closed garage door.
"Pattersons' door has a short," Teddy explained. "Kick it in the right place, and voila!" Suiting actions to words, he kicked one of the panels and the door began to rise. Grabbing Angharad, he pushed her under the door. "Go close it!" he yelled. "Hit the button by the light switches, by the door to the house!"
"What about you?"
"I'll hold these guys off!" he replied, just as the first wave of soldiers reached the garage. Instantly, Teddy was in motion, a five-foot whirlwind of pain.
After a long moment, Teddy heard the door behind him stop, then begin to descend. He continued his fight for a few more minutes, then threw himself under the door just before it hit the ground. For a long moment, there was silence, only broken by the sounds of the soldiers attempting to open the door.
"How'd you know about the door?" Angharad asked, helping Teddy to his feet.
The boy shrugged. "I catsit when they're on vacation."
The thumping on the door grew louder, and both children knew that it was only a matter of time before the wizard's forces broke down the door. "What are we going to do?" Angharad asked, her amber eyes wide and frightened.
"Tommy would probably fight them- but I'm not Tommy," he muttered. "I don't have any powers, or the muscle to back me up. I need a distraction, something to keep them busy while we go out. Hopefully if we give them something else to focus on, we can lose them."
"What after that? If they follow us to the gathering place-"
"Youth Center," Teddy corrected.
"Whatever. If they follow us there, a large number of people could get hurt."
"Let's burn that bridge when we come to it. We've got to get out of here first." Suddenly a pair of skateboards hanging on the wall caught his eye, and he grinned. "And I think I know exactly how to do it. Get those skateboards down and find me a rope or something- I'm gonna search the trunk of this car."
Nobody locks their car doors once the garage is securely shut, so it was child's play for Teddy to pop the trunk. A few minutes of rummaging around produced a highway emergency kit, including flares and an extra tank of gas.
"Is this some type of binding material?" Angharad asked, holding up a roll of something silver.
"Duct tape! The answer to an engineer's prayers. Toss it here, and hand me one of those milk crates." After a few minutes and liberal amounts of duct tape, Teddy had constructed what appeared to be a rudimentary soapbox car, the milk crate perched on the front of the two skateboards. Crouching beside the car, Teddy nodded at Angharad, who hit the button to open the garage door.
The soldiers outside had been attempting to break the door down for several minutes, but when it began opening on its own, they had the sense to back away warily. For a moment, nothing happened, then Teddy's soapbox racer shot out from under the rising partition. For a few seconds, nothing happened, as it rolled into the center of the gathering. Then the flare that Teddy had taped to the gas can burned all the way down, and the whole thing exploded.
"NOW!" Teddy yelled, grabbing Angharad and pulling her out of the garage.
The two of them went unnoticed in the commotion, having sneaked out through
the tiny corridor between car and garage wall. Then they were lost in the
carefully manicured suburban underbrush, listening to the chaos behind
them. Anyone who knew Tommy Oliver would find the grin on Teddy's face
very familiar as he disappeared into the shadows.
"Are you sure this is where you wanna get off, kids?" the bus driver asked. "It's midnight, and this is not the best part of town."
"That's an understatement," Teddy muttered under his breath, looking at the single bench. Louder, he continued, "Don't worry about it, mister. We come down here all the time." Taking Angharad's hand, he led her off the bus.
Martin Avenue was on the north side of Angel Grove's harbor district, the only place in town that it was still possible to get mugged in broad daylight. Reasonable people didn't go there at all if they could help it, and certainly never at night. So Teddy and Angharad were alone on the deserted street.
"What are we doing here?" Angharad asked, sticking close to Teddy. He grinned to himself. As a princess, Angharad had barely ever been out of the house, let alone in the bad section of town. He, on the other hand, had spent eight years of his life in a place like this, learning everything Tommy could teach him.
"We've got a new plan," he informed her. "With the Wizard jamming all the communications, we're going to need to go to the Power Chamber ourselves. And that means we'll need wheels. I don't particularly like the idea of having those soldiers catching us on foot, on the road out of town."
"So- why did we come here?"
"I've got some friends here. One of them can get us transportation."
Suddenly a voice from an alley caused the two of them to freeze. "Isn't it past your bedtime, kiddies?"
Teddy relaxed. "Hey, Mike. I'm looking for Jacob. Is he at the garage?"
"You kidding, man? He lives there. What's your problem, Oliver?" The speaker came out of the shadows, revealing himself to be a tall, skinny man with ash blond hair and pale blue eyes.
"I need to pick up something he's got ready for me. Care to walk us there?"
"Sure- although you could probably get in on your own. Come on." The man led them down the alleyway to a door set in one of the brick walls and knocked. After a minute, a panel slid open.
"Oh, hey, Mike," a deep voice greeted them. "What's up?"
"Ted Oliver's here to pick something up?"
The panel slid shut, then the entire door opened, revealing a large black man with graying hair and laugh lines around his eyes. "Hey, Ted. You know, when I told you Tyrone was willing to sell you his bike, I expected you to come by during daylight."
"Things happened," Teddy replied easily. "Angharad, this is Jacob Washington, one of the best mechanics I know. Jacob, this is my friend Angharad."
"Pleased to meet you," Jacob smiled. "Come on in- the bike's all ready."
The three of them filed into the garage, where Teddy instantly saw the machine in question. "Cool!" he breathed. "I thought you were just restoring it!"
"I got a little creative," Jacob shrugged, grinning. "You like?"
Teddy's eyes were wide as he looked over the motorbike. Most of it was green, with a scale pattern in black. On the front fender, two golden eyes blazed. The chrome shone silver, and the whole thing looked ready for action. "Too cool. How much do I owe you, Jake?"
"Twenty dollars. My little brother takes good care of his stuff, so there wasn't too much work I had to do. Part of the reason I decided to have some fun with it."
Teddy handed over the money, and just barely caught the helmet Jacob tossed to him. "Safety first," the older man chuckled. Teddy returned the laugh, noticing that the helmet was painted with the same dragon pattern as the bike. "And one for your lady friend, too." The helmet Jacob handed Angharad was orange, painted with a firebird on it.
"How much for the helmets?"
"They're part of the package," Jacob replied, dismissing that with a wave of his hand. "I dunno, they just looked right with the bike."
"They're perfect, Jacob, thanks." Teddy helped Angharad into her helmet, then helped her mount the bike. A hand signal had Mike open the garage door. Pulling on his helmet, Teddy revved the bike and tore off, waving to his friends as he did so. Jacob sighed, pulling the garage door shut again.
"You think he's in trouble?" he asked his assistant. Mike snorted.
The green motorbike tore through the streets of town with a speed that would have gotten Teddy pulled over anywhere else in town. At twelve-thirty in the morning, however, the police in the harbor district generally had more on their minds than speeders. Up ahead, the faint sound of music could be heard, as Teddy pulled the bike to a stop at the light.
"What's up there?" Angharad asked, pointing.
"Mid-Autumn festival. That way's Chinatown. Normally they celebrate earlier, but things have been seriously hectic around here for a while." The sound of engines cut into their conversation, and Teddy looked over his shoulder. "Oh, man! Not these guys again!" The Dark Wizard's troops were back, this time mounted on vehicles that looked like nothing so much as Rebel speeder bikes from "Return of the Jedi." Without a second thought, Teddy gunned his engine, running the red light and slipping easily between the cars coming through the intersection. A crash and some violent swearing behind him indicated that at least one of his pursuers had not been so lucky. A grin formed under Teddy's helmet as he tore down the street, Angharad's arms tightening convulsively around his waist as he went.
The streets had been closed to traffic for the festival, but luckily there were no parades that evening. Teddy crashed through the wooden sawhorses at the end of the street, sending residents scattering in terror. His three pursuers came up behind him fast. Gunning the engine, Teddy scanned the street ahead of him for an out, and he quickly found one.
"Get ready to lean left!" he yelled to Angharad. "NOW!" With that, he whipped the handlebars to the right, taking a turn onto a cross street without slowing down. Angharad's weight counterbalanced him, and he made the turn with ease. Two of his pursuers did the same, but the third took the turn a little too widely and spun out into a food kiosk.
"One down, two to go," Teddy grinned. Suddenly a laser blast whipped past his ear. "Damn it!" he growled. "Tomorrow I go to Justin and ask him to build me a blaster."
"Got it covered," Angharad announced. To Teddy's surprise, she reached around to the small of her back and pulled out a small hand blaster. Quickly, she began returning fire. One shot hit the front anti-grav unit on one of their trackers, catapulting him up into the air. Teddy winced as the man slammed down in the back of a truck full of fertilizer.
"That was NOT pleasant," he mused. "I almost feel sorry for him."
The bike roared down the street as Angharad and their last follower traded blaster fire, and Teddy concentrated on keeping his hide intact. Suddenly he realized where they were headed and grinned. "Angharad! Sit down and hold on!" he yelled. "We're about to have some fun!"
"What?" Angharad asked, facing front once again. Her eyes widened as she saw where they were headed. "Merciful Flame! What are you DOING?" She tightened her arms around Teddy's waist, tucking her head into his neck.
Chinatown in Angel Grove is right next to the harbor district, and right through the middle of it, the Rampoon river runs through a concrete canal down to the sea. Now, the Rampoon is no Mississippi, but it isn't a trickle, either. The water is a good thirty feet across, and deep enough that riverboats often cruise along, offering dinner and scenery, even through the night. What all this boils down to is that Teddy should have been slowing down right now. Instead, he gave the engine MORE gas.
"Hold tight," Teddy said tersely. "This is going to take luck." With that, the bike roared up an embankment and arced out over the river. Then it plummeted back towards the water- and landed on the back deck of a dining cruise. Teddy quickly slewed the bike in a circle, cutting the engine as he did so. Behind them, there was a splash.
"What was that?" Angharad asked, pulling her helmet off. "The soldier who was behind us- where is he?"
Teddy grinned. "I'd say he missed the boat."
They say that New York is the "City That Never Sleeps," but Angel Grove comes close. That's why, at two in the morning, Teddy Oliver was able to roll his bike into the section known as Little Japan without drawing more than a little attention.
"Why are we here?" Angharad asked. "More friends?"
"Something like that," Teddy replied. He pulled the bike over in front of an apartment building, and quickly secured it to a parking meter. "Come on, I've got someone I want you to meet."
The two children headed up to the fourth floor of the building, and Teddy knocked on the door.
"Dare desu ka?" came a voice from inside.
"Teddy Oliver, obaa-san. Doozo, to o akete kudasai." In response to Teddy's request, the door opened to reveal an elderly Asian woman, not much taller than Teddy, her hair done in a bun.
(Ah, Teji-chan!) she exclaimed in Japanese. (Come in, come in!) Ushering the two children into the apartment, she gave Angharad a piercing look. (And is this your girlfriend?)
Teddy blushed. (Not exactly, Grandmother. She's my friend, Angharad.) Turning to Angharad, he quickly switched to English. "This is Mrs. Fujikawa, a friend of mine. She doesn't speak English. I'm hoping she'll let us stay here for the evening, and we can get moving for the Power Chamber when it starts getting light. Don't worry-" he held up a hand to forestall the protest he knew was coming. "I'll time it so we'll get to the Power Chamber almost forty minutes before sunrise. But I don't want to try that road in the dark. Besides- you need sleep." Seeing Angharad, he turned back to Mrs. Fujikawa.
(Grandmother, we're kind of in trouble, but we can't go to the police. Can we stay here for a few hours? We should be on our way around six.)
She smiled. (Of course you can stay, child. Look at the two of you, you're almost skin and bones! Sit down, let me get you something to eat.)
Smiling in relief, Teddy bowed. "Arigatoo gozaimasu," he thanked her. The two children sat down at the kitchen table while Mrs. Fujikawa moved around the kitchen.
"So- how did you meet this woman?" Angharad asked.
"Well, Tommy got me to volunteer at the Senior Center with him, not long after we moved here. Mrs. Fujikawa was down there trying to sign up for one of the Aquarobics programs. She may be seventy, but she hasn't slowed down at all. Unfortunately, no one at the Senior Center that day spoke Japanese. Nobody but me, that was. See, I used to live in LA, and I hung out with a lot of kids who spoke Japanese. So I picked it up. Anyway, Mrs. Fujikawa and I got to talking, and I invited her on a picnic, and she invited me over for dinner, and things just went on from there."
"You have a lot of interesting friends."
"Yeah. Of course, I was lucky enough to grow up- less than sheltered. I've been a lot of places and done a lot of things."
Angharad laughed, but there wasn't a lot of humor in the sound. "I always wanted an adventure... now I'm having one, and it's not as much fun as I expected."
"Nope. But look on the bright side- you met me." He threw her the "Oliver grin" that had melted teachers and parents alike. She giggled.
"There is that."
The conversation lapsed into silence as Mrs. Fujikawa brought them bowls of udon, wheat noodles in soy broth. She also poured Teddy a cup of ocha, green tea. Since he intended to keep watch, he needed the caffeine fix. After their meal, Teddy turned to Mrs. Fujikawa.
(Grandmother, is there anywhere that Angharad can sleep for a while? She's very tired, and she's not used to staying up all night.)
(Of course,) the older woman replied, rising. (Come with me.) She led the pair into the living room, where she pulled a rolled up mat out of one of the closets. Spreading it on the ground, she quickly laid sheets and blankets over it.
"Tatame," Teddy explained. "Rice sleeping mat."
(Comes in handy when my children visit. Your friend can sleep here.)
It took some convincing, but Angharad finally stretched out on the mat. As Teddy had figured, she was asleep in only a few seconds.
(She is very pretty,) Mrs. Fujikawa observed.
(Yeah, I guess. She's really tired. This has all been very hard on her.)
The Asian woman gave him a shrewd look. (You're not so unaffected by this as you seem, Teji-chan.)
(I'm more used to it than she is. My life would make a good science-fiction movie.)
(You are always helping those who are less fortunate than you. My life would have been much poorer without you in it. For this, I wish to give you something.)
Teddy shook his head in protest. (Your friendship has been as much of a gift as I could ever want.)
(So gallant. If you will not take a gift, think of it as a trust.) She walked back into her bedroom, and after a few minutes, came back with a katana in a sheath. (This sword has been in my husband's family for years. When he died, I thought to give it to one of my sons or grandsons, but none of them were right for it. For a long time, I wondered what that meant, and then I met you. I realized that the sword was intended for you, for me to give you when you had need of it.)
(But- an heirloom like this should remain in your family.)
Mrs. Fujikawa smiled. (You ARE my family, Teji-chan, as much as my sons and grandsons, for you have been here for me when they could not. They have not forgotten me, but we are spread across the country, and sometimes an old woman gets lonely. You have always been here for me. Besides, none of my children are warriors, those who should hold this sword. You are a warrior, and I want you to have this. It can go to no more deserving person.)
Teddy took the sword from her gently, bowing deeply. (Thank you, Grandmother.)
Examining the hilt, he was not too surprised to find a phoenix engraved
there. Seem to be running into those everywhere, he mused. Then,
slinging the sword and scabbard over his back, ninja-style, he sat down
on the couch to keep watch.
The clock on the kitchen wall showed five-fifteen, as Teddy finished yet another cup of green tea. He and Mrs. Fujikawa were engaged in a deep discussion of the latest action movie from Japan when Angharad's scream cut through the apartment. Almost instantly, Teddy was by her side, sword unsheathed. Standing in the middle of the room, in front of the tatame, was a tall, dark-haired man dressed in black clothing. Pale and sharp-featured, he looked like something out of an Errol Flynn movie, and a telltale flickering around the edges told Teddy that the intruder was a holographic image.
"I know you can hear me, Princess," the Wizard sneered. "Listen very carefully. We have your Phoenix. I'd rather have his power for my own, but if you aren't here to release the power at sunrise, I'll kill him, and it will be another hundred years before the Phoenix chooses an avatar. Oh, and just to make sure you know I'm not bluffing..." The Dark Wizard gestured to someone off screen, and the image expanded, revealing four guards surrounding Tommy, obviously keeping him subdued.
"You son of a bitch," Teddy growled, even though the magical image could not hear him.
"The cliffs, Princess, on the western edge of town. Be here by sunrise, or your Phoenix dies." The image flickered out.
Momentarily ignoring Mrs. Fujikawa, who had understood little of the exchange, Teddy rested his hands on Angharad's shoulders. "What are we going to do?" he asked quietly.
She sighed. "I cannot allow him to kill the Phoenix. He is my world's only hope. And- I cannot allow him to kill your brother. We'll have to do as he says."
"And hope we can pull our fat out of the fire. I guess now we find out if I've inherited the Oliver gene for flying by the seat of my pants." Rising, Teddy turned to their hostess.
(Grandmother, I have to go. I wish I could explain what was going on, but I think you might be better off not knowing,) Teddy explained earnestly.
(I understand,) Mrs. Fujikawa nodded. (That was your brother in trouble, was it not? Of course you must go. Good luck, children.)
Teddy bowed. (Goodbye, Grandmother. And thank you.)
Forty-five minutes later, the two children arrived at Angel's Bluff, the center of the cliff system that overlooked the beach on the western coast of Angel Grove. As they dismounted, Teddy threw a look at Angharad over his shoulder. "How do you want to play this?"
Her lips drew together in a tight line. "Walk a step behind me, to my right. You'll be my honor guard, not that it'll do much good."
"We'll have me and Tommy in the same place," Teddy chuckled. "We might surprise you." He fell into step where he was told, however, and the two of them made their way to the knot of soldiers waiting for them. Teddy noticed with some satisfaction that there were a lot fewer than had attacked them earlier in the evening.
"Princess Angharad." Kaiju smiled thinly. "How nice of you to grace us with your presence." His eyes fell on Teddy, and one thin brow lifted. "And you've even brought your honor guard. Perhaps this one will be more capable than the poor fools who were protecting you on Cimmera."
"Those 'poor fools' bought me the time to escape," Angharad reminded the wizard.
"And we led your armor-plated butts on a chase all over the city, remember that," Teddy added.
The Dark Wizard snarled. "I am not likely to forget, boy."
A little farther back, Teddy could see some of the soldiers doing double-takes at the resemblance he and Tommy shared. Teddy took the opportunity to wave at his brother. "How're you doing, Tommy?"
"I've had worse," Tommy replied. His voice was somewhat weak, but his tone was dry. Teddy figured there was nothing wrong with him that morphing or a night's rest wouldn't cure.
"Enough!" Raising a hand, Kaiju turned back to Tommy. "Now that you're here, Princess, I will keep my end of the bargain. I will not kill your Phoenix. Instead, I will bind him to the darkness, so that when his power descends, he will do MY bidding!"
Tommy didn't have much of an idea about what was going on. All he knew was that he'd come home from the tournament, and subsequent party, only to be pounced on by these goons. Tired and outnumbered, he had quickly been subdued, and had been listening to them ramble about ancient prophecies ever since. Despite all of that, he still didn't have the faintest idea what was going on, but one thing he DID know. Someone was trying to turn him evil. Again.
"Could we skip this?" Tommy asked nervously, as the Dark Wizard began to chant. "Reruns don't begin until January." He was ignored, of course. Meanwhile, two more soldiers moved to block Teddy from going to his brother's aid, leveling their blasters at Angharad to ensure his cooperation.
As the wizard finished his chant, a dark mist coalesced around Tommy, then faded into nothing. However, the older boy merely stood there, dark eyes empty. Kaiju smiled.
"Now, all that is left is to wait for the sunrise, when his power will descend, and belong to me! Then and only then, Princess, will I do you and your guardian the favor of destroying you."
"You're all heart," Teddy snapped. Off to the east, the sky began to lighten as the sun rose higher. Suddenly the tip of the orange orb peeked over the mountains, and the first ray of sunlight flashed across the land. As sometimes happens when the sky is clear and the air is still, for just one second, the light was a brilliant green. Then it cleared, and everyone turned to Tommy.
The teen was bathed in the orange radiance, but otherwise seemed unchanged.
"What?" Kaiju's eyes were practically bugging out of their sockets. "This cannot be!"
"I'm afraid there's been a slight change in plan." Teddy Oliver was practically glowing with orange light, the flames even seeming to burn in his eyes and along the wickedly sharp blade of his katana. "Let's rock."
A burst of orange fire whipped out, causing the dark magic encircling Tommy to burn away. Shaking his head to clear it, the leader of the Zeo Rangers found a brawl beginning around him, as Teddy began to wade through the soldiers attacking him. Never one to pass up a good fight, Tommy summoned his Zeonizers.
"Zeo Ranger V, Red!" Then, with a kamikaze yell, Red Ranger threw himself into the battle.
It was one of THOSE battles, the kind the Power Rangers of Earth were famous for. All logic would seem to indicate that three people cannot hold off twenty-three, even when two are supercharged. The sheer press of enemies is certain to overwhelm them. Logic, however, has never had much sway over Earth's Rangers, or in fact most of the human race.
From a semi-protected position behind a couple of rocks, Angharad was launching stun bolts into the Dark Wizard's soldiers, not overly concerned with hitting either of her allies. Teddy's orange glow and Red Ranger's crimson Spandex made avoiding them quite easy. One overeager soldier managed to blindside her, wrapping his arms around her waist from behind. With the general agility of a thirteen-year-old girl, she twisted in his grip and hit him in the nose with the butt of her blaster. He dropped like a rock.
Meanwhile, Red Ranger was enjoying himself, despite having to hold back somewhat. These soldiers were living beings, after all, even if he didn't much like them. Still, Red Ranger always liked a good fight, and the Zeo energy from morphing had combined with his adrenaline to give him a serious buzz. No doubt about it, Red Ranger was having a good time. Sadly, the same could not be said for his opponents, who were dropping like flies.
"Hope you guys have a good dental plan," Red Ranger mused.
And in yet another part of the battle, Teddy Oliver was doing his impression of a Cuisenart, promptly dispatching the weapons of any soldier who got in his way. He did not use the edge of his blade on any of the living opponents who faced him, though. Punches and kicks, not to mention the occasional thump with the hilt, were doing more than enough damage as it was. Finally breaking clear of the goons surrounding him, Teddy found himself face to face with the Dark Wizard.
"I am the Phoenix," Teddy announced, in a voice not quite his own. It echoed slightly with power, and contained overtones far older than a mere thirteen. "Summoned in time of darkness, I come to defeat the evil that threatens my people." The boy pointed his sword at Kaiju. "Defend yourself, wizard. Your reign ends here."
"So be it, boy. I shall not be stopped so easily." Kaiju summoned a sword with a black blade, and the fight was joined.
"Is it me," Red Ranger asked, letting the last of his "playmates" slump unconscious to the ground, "or did this guy steal his dialogue off of bad B-movies?"
Angharad came to stand beside him, both watching the deadly dance being played out before them. "He does sound like a lousy late-night holofeed, but he is a formidable adversary."
Red Ranger laughed shortly. "So is Teddy- but I'm not sure that's Teddy anymore."
Under normal circumstances, a thirteen-year-old boy has no chance in a swordfight with a grown man. However, these circumstances were far from normal. Teddy's base strength was already greater than that of a normal boy his age, simply from the martial arts training that he always did. Now, of course, it was heightened by the Phoenix power coursing through his veins, as the energy being lent its strength to his muscles. Plus, the Dark Wizard was hampered by the fact that his fighting style used only one hand, while Teddy's katana work allowed for the use of two. So, Teddy was holding his own.
Back and forth, parry and thrust, the two combatants danced in a circle, neither one seeming to gain the upper hand. Suddenly, Kaiju cast a blast of dark energy at Teddy, only to have it blocked by a sudden tongue of fire. Then, in a sudden flurry of blows, the boy pressed his attack, driving his opponent backwards. In a flash, the sword flew from the wizard's hand, and he fell sprawling onto the ground.
Raising his katana, Teddy prepared to bring the blade down. The deadly sharp edge scythed downwards- and buried itself in the turf beside the Dark Wizard's head. "I don't kill," Teddy announced, his voice rough- but whether he was speaking to Kaiju or the force inside him was unknown. Without warning, Teddy's eyes rolled back in his head, and he fell to the ground as orange energy began to stream out of him. Frozen to the spot, Red Ranger and Angharad watched as the Phoenix took shape above Teddy's unconscious form. Eyes made of black fire suddenly turned on the wizard, who began crab-walking away in utter terror. With a piercing cry, the Phoenix dove on its prey, burning brightly.
Kaiju didn't even have time to scream.
Red Ranger had averted his and Angharad's eyes from the scene, and when he looked back, there was only a charred spot on the ground. Stepping forward, Red Ranger gently lifted his brother into his arms.
"Zordon?" he asked, tapping his communicator. "Three to teleport in,
please." The three of them vanished in columns of light.
"How are you feeling?" Tommy asked solicitously, as Teddy struggled to wakefulness.
"Like the bottom of your closet," the boy replied, sitting up. "What hit me? No, wait, I remember."
Angharad helped him off his cot, and supported him as he tried to stand on legs that weren't too keen on the idea just yet. "I can't believe it. We spent the whole evening thinking your brother was the Phoenix. What I don't understand is why Kaiju was fooled. He should have been able to sense the power of the Koryuu Phoenix."
"My Ranger powers," Tommy explained, moving to help steady his noodle-like sibling. "The Zeo Powers are based around the Phoenix, so it was a pretty easy mistake."
"Besides," Zordon rumbled, startling all three of them, "as Tommy is of the line of the Phoenix avatar, he bore some traces of its power. The combination made telling the difference almost impossible."
Teddy gently pushed his supporters away, managing to stand on his own feet. "I don't get it, Zordon. Why would the Phoenix chose me as an avatar? I'm just a kid."
"Exactly," the inter-dimensional being replied. "Of all the Phoenix line, you are the only one who had not yet achieved his destiny. Tommy is a Ranger. Chelsea is Deshaadra and soon to be Queen. David has also found his niche. You, however, were waiting, and so the Phoenix chose you."
Teddy digested this for a long moment. "Is it gone?" he asked finally.
"Yes. Its purpose was fulfilled, and the Phoenix had no more reason to stay. It has returned to the realm that such energy creatures occupy when not a part of our world."
"Any side effects?" Tommy asked anxiously.
"One. The katana you carry, Teddy, has been changed. It is now capable of limited energy projection, and is strong enough to chop through even Cog metal."
Cocking his head, Teddy smiled. "So basically, it's a magic weapon. Cool."
Angharad looked up at Zordon. "Don't think I'm not grateful for everything, but- I want to go home! My mission is done, and I really miss my parents."
"Understood," Zordon nodded. "Alpha, prepare a teleport to the Royal Palace of Cimmera. Princess Angharad, you have shown incredible bravery and dedication here. If you ever need the Power Rangers of Earth, you have but to call."
She smiled. "Thanks, Zordon. I'll remember that." Then she turned to Teddy, an apprehensive look on her face.
"I guess this is goodbye," he said slowly, unwilling to meet her eyes.
"Just for now. If you want, you could come visit me anytime. I could use a friend."
He grinned. "You know it. If you ever need me, call. I'll be here."
"Same for you." Quickly, she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. Then she dissolved into a flare of white light and was gone.
Tommy chuckled, reaching out to ruffle his younger brother's hair. "Nice going, Casanova. Looks like Chelse isn't the only one in the family who's going to be dating royalty."
"TOMMY!" Any further protest Teddy might have made was cut off with a yawn that nearly split the boy's face. "Can we go home now? I've been up for twenty-three hours straight. The caffeine and adrenaline are both beginning to wear down."
"Sure. But YOU get to explain this one to Mom and Dad."
"ME! This is NOT my fault! Besides, YOU'RE the leader of the Rangers."
Still arguing, the brothers teleported out, heading for home as the sun
rose over Angel Grove.