It Could Always Be Worse
Written by Shaun Garin
Mahou Shounen Teacher… Tommy?
Tommy had a fairly lackluster day. Get up, get ready for work, eat a bagel while hopping to his jeep, teach his class, excuse himself at break to fight one of Anton's mutant dinosaur monsters, drag himself home, listen to weird little voice in his head pleading for help…
…Wait. Rewind to the last part.
Dr. Tommy Oliver followed the call of the voice that evening, panning a flash light in the dark murk of the forest behind his house. He didn't trust himself to not fall into a sinkhole.
Keen Ranger instincts kicked in as he dove to the side as a giant oversized dust bunny attacked him.
…Wow, that brought back memories.
"Dino Thunder, Power Up!"
Tommy woke the next morning hoping it was all a dream. The giant dust bunny, the hurt ferret, the jewel that turned into a reasonable facsimile of his Brachio Staff if it somehow had a love child with Saba and Billy's lance... he opened his eyes and saw the ferret sitting up and looking at him.
FUCK. Maybe if he feigned sleep…
And why did he feel like he needed a pink jacket now?
"Not. A. Word," said Tommy as he marched into the classroom, dressed in black and pink. A pink jacket obstinately borrowed from some kind of free-will thrift store was slung over his shoulders as Yuuno rode on his shoulder and Raising Heart around his neck.
Ethan tried not to laugh. He really didn't. Conner didn't even try. Kira looked halfway between mortified and dying of laughter. And Trent had big eyes as his gaze was drawn towards the ferret, mouthing "ferret?" at the doctor.
"Dr. Oliver, any sudden comment on your wardrobe change?" Ah Cassidy, blunt as ever.
Tommy counted to ten, tried not to assign her detention and grit out, "Laundry accident. Turn to page 345."
"So these Jewel Plants…"
"Jewel SEEDS," corrected Yuuno. Really did the leader of this team have less braincells than an actual ferret?
"Right, seeds. So anyway, these seed things. They grow out of control or just make with the explosions?"
"They're a powerful artifact from the early days of Belkan society. Magical in nature and highly destructive if left alone," said Yuuno.
"Well that doesn't explain why Dr. O's got a hankering for pink now," said Kira.
"Too much pink energy in him," said Hayley, causing the group to look over to Tommy who was busy trying to drown his sorrows in a sandwich too big for himself. "And causing serious nourishment issues too."
"I can't help it. I haven't felt this hungry since the Green Ranger days," said Tommy, gulping down half his soda in a single go.
"I don't think I've ever seen him EAT like that in ever," said Ethan.
"Excessive magical depletion can cause hunger and fatigue," pointed out Yuuno.
"And when Tommy was leaking magical power from the Grid like a sieve, he was hungry. All the time."
"Is this fresh?" said Tommy as he drank some whipped cream.
"Dr. O, this is your job. That Jewel Seed just meshed with Mesogog's freaky monster of the week," said Ethan looking into the sky as a giant monster was stomping around shooting up the city.
"Right. Raising Heart!"
Pink light flared and Black Brachio gained several more fancy attachments like he had gone Super Dino Mode. Flared gloves, gauntlets, the giant staff in his hand merging with his Brachio Staff as he jacked it in. "BRACHIOZORD!"
The black carrierzord stomped into view impressively. Or rather it would have been impressive if it wasn't painted pink at the moment with a big shining jewel in the center of it.
Tommy resisted the urge to facepalm when he saw the repainted zords. He then allowed himself a fiendish grin under his helmet.
Fate Testarossa didn't really know what to think of her opponent. She may have had the superior firepower of a well trained mage and speed, lots of it. But so did her opponent. This Ranger tuned Mid-Childa mage had a device, was pumping out a lot of magic – PINK! Her brain screamed at her in a giggly sort of manner – and ow that really hurt! Clearly he wasn't averse to hitting little girls.
"Sorry!" exclaimed Tommy, long enough for Fate to clip him with her energy scythe.
"Dr. O, stop wimping out on us, she's a little girl! You can hit harder than that!" called out Conner, totally ignoring that he too got his ass kicked by Testarossa.
"You try not hitting a vital!" yelled the pink-and-black clad Ranger-Mage.
"Thunder Smasher," said Fate eloquently.
"FFFFF!" replied Tommy as he was Thunder Smashered.
"Dr. O? Can we offer some critique?" said Conner as Hayley bandaged up the cut on Tommy's forehead.
"If it's anything to do about my choice of attack methods…" growled out Tommy.
"No, I just wanted to ask: is it too much to let Kira handle her? I mean she's a girl! And little girls are just big ones not grown up."
Kira slugged Conner. Hard.
"BRACHIO STAFF FULL POWER!"
Fate really hated that yell as she dodged the attack.
"DIVINE BUSTER FULL POWER!"
She really had to hand it to Dr. Oliver: he knew how to dual wield. Now if only she could dodge a little faster oh wait falling to the ground ow…
"Fate!" yelled Arf from the sidelines, having been waylaid by the other Rangers.
Tommy caught Fate on the way down. And just slightly, Fate's cheeks pinked as she was held close to the spandex.
He was very muscled…
"You know Elsa, I thought you'd have been above kidnapping helpless girls out of my house," growled Tommy as he stormed into Mesogog's lair with Raising Brachio Heart-Staff as Ethan coined it already humming with an Energy Orb or a Divine Buster or at least ONE of the two.
Never both. Tommy learned never to channel Grid Magic and perform advanced calculus at the same time.
"Dr. Oliver, your timing is really something," said Elsa with a smirk. "So you're downgraded your tastes in women?"
Tommy really tried not to flinch, he really did. But with the tabloids citing that the girl and "BlackPink Ranger" were together in the Reefside Tabloid, well, yeah.
Tommy said nothing. Except a four word phrase.
"Brachio Staff – Starlight Breaker."
"You know Yuuno, I gotta hand it to you. You really know your Grid Artifacts," said Hayley as the pair poured over a list of known Grid associated items.
"Most of them are practically myth in Mid-Childa," replied the ferret-boy. "Like the Zeo Crystal. I'd love to study it."
"Why don't you?" said Hayley. "Tommy has his Zeonizer in his sock drawer."
A pause. And Yuuno scrambled upstairs.
"This is the Time/Space Administration battleship Asura," said Chrono by way of introduction. "And this is the captain."
"Admiral Lindy Harlaown," said the woman to the Rangers and one ferret. "It's been a long time since I've seen a Power Ranger."
"We don't get off-world that much," admitted Tommy. "Save for a few teams here and there."
Lindy nodded. "We have much to discuss."
"Yeah, about that. You mind sending at least three of us back? Your son just hauled us out of an impending zord battle," said Kira.
"Zord battle what now?"
Anton limped into the room, much to the concern of his son. "Dad! What happened?"
"Negotiations. Got a little strenuous," groaned out Anton as he sat down heavily. "Mesogog decided to go speak face to face with that Testarossa woman."
"…I'll get the Tylenol too."
"Make it a double. And bring the ice packs."
Crazy she may have been, but she was a damn good hit with that whip. Though in his defense, the parental side of Mesogog had flared to life when he walked in watching the nutcase whip her own daughter. Negotiations for his Jewel Seeds had ended quickly.
He smiled grimly. Elsa had leaped to his defense, at least. Testarossa would be sporting energy burns and a shiner for weeks.
Arf really didn't know what to think. Sure her battles with the damn rodent and the three hang-ons to the real threat of Fate earning her mother's happiness had been entertaining, far more than say watching two elementary kids go at it, but that dinosaur man was beyond scary.
Which was beyond her that she was sharing a suite in a posh upscale mansion under the watchful eye of the woman who blasted Testarossa into a wall repeatedly. "Why are you helping us?"
Elsa sneered. "Master said you'd be useful."
Arf swallowed. In her own way, Elsa was scarier than Precia Testarossa.
"You have Fate in your house?" hissed Kira to Trent.
"Under observation. Dad found her outside the mansion all abused. He totally went into his fatherly protectiveness rages," said Trent in a half-lie. The others didn't know that Mesogog and Anton were the same person after all, even with Elsa grudgingly helping hide the child from the TSAB.
"I should go and check in on her," said Kira. "We fought the least. Maybe she'll appreciate an older girl around."
"Better than Hayley trying to muscle her way in."
"You told Hayley?"
"She's not the easiest person to keep secrets from," admitted Trent.
Fate discovered she liked to draw.
It was a little thing she had discovered as she had limped around the Mercer household, but she had found Trent's studio in the house and started to draw. Crude pictures yes, but they were of happier moments, or at least happier moments she wanted.
Kira would find her later after arriving to find Fate curled up in the chair, clutching a picture. Like a children's drawing it was of a black and pink man holding hands with a blonde child.
"Dr. O, are you certain?"
"Goes against everything I believe in, but we're going to have to take the fight to Precia before Mesogog finds out that we've lost all the Jewel Seeds," said Tommy, suiting up.
"I don't know about you, but after hearing what this woman does to her own child? Makes me sick. Save me a punch Dr. O," spat Ethan venomously.
"That goes double for me," said Kira. The girl had gotten attached to Fate in the few short weeks they had her in custody and the pair were as close as sisters now.
"I say we skip right to Triassic and Super Dino Mode," said Conner and Trent nodded grimly. "Escalation be damned."
"You think we can get the zords in this garden of hers?" asked Ethan. "Nothing says ownage like a Stego slamming through your front yard."
"Focus, people. We get in, get her into custody and then we blow the place up." The route was familiar by now and Tommy's brachio armor got pink highlights and add-ons. "Let's do this, people."
"Hey, we can get the zords here," chirped Ethan happily as Precia grew into a giant monster and the Brachio Carrierzord was summoned. "Sweet."
It would be noted that Precia sported a giant shiner under her monster appearance as the Rangers and TSAB went to town on her.
"I wish we had these sooner," said Conner as he picked up the tiny shrunken Precia Testarossa and put her into a capsule. "Why didn't we have these sooner?"
"It took me months to get Eric to pony up on one of these," said Tommy as he looked over the capsule holding Alicia Testarossa.
"She's dead," said Chrono sadly. "There's nothing for it."
"Yeah there is," said Tommy, startling everyone. "Everyone link your hands and circle the container. I've got a plan."
Rainbow light cascaded across the garden that day.
"You know you Rangers are made of pure miracles," said Lindy. "Bringing back someone from the dead, capturing a villainess hopped up on Jewel Seed powers…"
"Not to mention summoning zords from out of nowhere," put in Yuuno helpfully.
"Now what?" asked Trent. "Mesogog's still out there."
"We'll file a report, but get back to you on that," said Lindy. "Precia has to stand trial and Fate as an accessory. However Fate's actions will probably be ruled out as coercion rather than willingness."
Fate clung to Tommy. "I don't want to see you go…"
"It's okay Fate," said Tommy, hugging the girl close. "You can come and visit as soon as your hearing is done."
"And your sister is here now too," said Conner. "Having a twin is awesome. I've got one myself."
"Isn't that the one at Ninja School?" asked Ethan.
"Yeah. I gotta email him today, let him know that the twin factor went up by one."
Chrono and Yuuno groaned in unison. "Two of you? You're bad enough!" exclaimed Yuuno.
"Home sweet Reefside," breathed in Ethan. "I missed this place."
"We were gone for about a day," said Kira.
"It was a very frantic day," countered Ethan.
"Yeah. Back home with the mutant dinosaurs," said Conner.
"Speaking of which, Mesogog should be unleashing one any second," said Trent.
"How do you figure?" asked Kira.
"Simple." He pointed towards where Tommy had decided to run at the closest pack of Tyrannodrones and a mutant dinosaur who looked like it had been beaten with a length of pipe. "Dr. O saw 'em first."
"Well well, Dr. Oliver, I see we're not wearing pink today," said Hayley. "Finally drain enough of that pink energy?"
"For the time being," said Tommy, pulling up a chair to the bar, watching his students fight over the new video game, or at least attempt to. "Zordon was right: too much pink energy can be deadly."
"Thought he said dangerous," replied Hayley with a grin.
"That too. What do you recommend?"
"One Thunder Smasher." And Hayley passed the drink over to Tommy who twitched reflexively. "Oh c'mon, Tommy, it's not like she's going to show up with that as a greeting from now on."
"No. Just hug my leg. Tell me something, do I have a thing for blondes?"
"No." said Hayley automatically. She grinned. "You have a giant father complex though."
"Touche." And Tommy drank.
Oh, mango juice!