Disclaimer: 'The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers' is copyrighted by Hearst Entertainment, Inc. This is a work of fanfiction, and I make no profit of it.
This is a slightly rewritten repost of an older story.
Zachary Fox comes home from a desolate mission. The smugglers have escaped, his uniform is torn and he has to write a report that explains the previous two facts. Sorting through his mail, he comes upon a letter from his children's school. He groans inwardly. Parent-teacher meeting. Not again. The dust that stirs when he drops onto his couch reminds him that it is time to activate his household AI. As he presses the power button, the machine squeals, splutters - and executes itself.
Fox' cry of anger is so loud that his neighbors decide to skip their next vacation and save their money for better insulation instead. "Enough is enough," Zachary cries. "I'm raising my children without a mother, I'm braving parent-teacher meetings alone, but I won't buy a new household AI without spousal advice!"
His neighbors decide to phone Commander Walsh. Zachary grabs his blasters and sets out for Tortuna. He will get Eliza back and if it is the last thing he tries today. Everyone he meets on his way to the hangar shrinks back from his determined gaze.
Shane Gooseman is flirting with his mug of coffee. He is looking forward to a relaxing weekend on Earth, which is - for good reasons - the only planet in this sector on which he has no (possibly angry) girlfriend waiting for him. Then Doc appears and takes the chair next to him. Goose silently wishes Maya would permanently bind Doc with the chains of love – or at least find him a position on Tarkon. Doc's cheerful mood before a weekend visit to his girlfriend is unbearable.
"This chair is reserved for people who want to help me with target practice," Goose growls.
"O my Gooseman, don't you ever think about getting a hobby that doesn't involve violence? Oh, and it's good if you don't because then you can drill the recruits this weekend while I'm away on Tarkon."
"If you'd left an hour ago, you would have had 13 minutes left to spend with Maya before you have to return. Help me out with the math: what would that be now?"
"You're putting too much confidence in mundane trivia like the Andorian equations for hyperdrive speed limits - I, on the other hand, believe in love and its power to do the impossible."
"Tell the Andorians. And if they don't tear and feather you, I will if you aren't back on Monday morning and take over the recruits' class."
At that moments, a beep of their wrist communicators interrupts their amiable conversation. Walsh's somber face becomes visible. "Fox is on one of his spousal withdrawal trips. Make sure no one is hurt and stop him."
"Sir, there is a woman who wants to speak with Ranger Walter Hartford..."
"Not now, Sheila."
In passing his secretary Walsh briefly notices a beautiful woman with a large traveling bag sitting on the visitor chair. He wonders even more briefly if she is Hartford's solution to his weekend relationship with princess Maya and the fact that Tarkon is 32 hours by hyperdrive away. He discards the thought for later perusal. Fox has priority now. When he finds the Captain, Gooseman and Hartford have already disarmed Fox and are pinning him to the wall.
"I'm going to free Eliza and you're not going to stop me," Fox shouts.
Walsh tries to calm the enraged officer and wonders whether he should record his speech on tape, given how often he's had to repeat it.
"Captain, as long as the Queen pays her taxes, there is nothing we can do."
"She's my wife!" "Captain, I hope you realize that without the generous salary the Queen pays your wife, you'd be absolutely unable to feed your 22 children."
"I have TWO children! I didn't adopt those 20 Kiwis!"
"Captain, may I remind you that you lost the lawsuit against the adoption ministry of the Kirwin government."
"SHE'S MY WIFE and they are NOT MY CHILDREN!"
Walsh sighs in resignation. "Make sure he doesn't come near a shuttle for rest of the day."
"Sir, I have plans for the weekend," Doc protests.
Goose and Doc are escorting Fox during his weekend shopping.
"Sometimes there are days when I regret being a Galaxy Ranger...," Doc muses as he tries to locate the cheapest brand of cornflakes at the bottom of some shelves.
"What other job would allow us to visit unexplored planets and risk our life on a daily basis?" Goose replies as he tosses the most expensive brand of coffee he can find into the shopping cart.
"Traveling sales agent for Andorian atlases?" Doc suggests as he steers Zachary away from a rummage counter of model shuttles.
While they carry Zachary's shopping to his car (and almost collapse under the weight), they notice a woman who is carrying her heavy traveling bag seemingly without effort. Doc makes a mental note about bringing anti-gravity devices the next time they have to accompany Zachary to a supermarket, and then there's still the problem how to get their shopping into the car...
"This is when I wish that BETA's staff budget wasn't so small," Doug mutters under his breath.
"Zach always fills three shopping bags and we need a fourth colleague who can retrieve the car keys from his coat."
"I can do that for you," the woman with the heavy traveling bag offers.
Zachary almost drops his shopping bag from shock and protests that he's a married man and won't allow a strange woman to rummage in his coat pocket. Goose grumbles that he'll do it for Zachary then and shoves his shopping bags into the woman's arms. Doc protests that he can't thus burden a lady, dropping his shopping bag from proper consternation at such rude behavior, and the lady starts floating all three bags in the air.
Flabbergasted, Doc stares at her, while Goose seeks cover behind the first non-movable object he finds (a fire-hydrant), and Zachary shouts something about no casualties during shopping. The woman seems surprised at the attention she is getting. She places the bags in the trunk (that Zachary could have sworn was locked) and starts handing out a set of cards.
"All of you can learn to float your bags. Just phone our company and ask for our full program. Oh, and I read in your minds - you can take courses for that, too, if you want - that you are Galaxy Rangers. Maybe you can tell me where I might find Ranger Walter Hartford?"
"That's me," Doc stutters, "and where can I escort you to?"
The lady smiles at him. "I'm Niko, apprentice of Ariel, from the Xanadu taxi service. You have ordered transportation to Tarkon. If you concentrate on your destination, we'll be there in a thought."
"Oh, that's nice...," Doc stammers. "I'm going to Tortuna, and I'll get my wife back," Zachary roars.
"You're trying to get to Tortuna every weekend," Goose bellows back. "Why don't you give it a break and let us relax for a change."
The air is charged with tension, and Niko hastily rummages through the books in her traveling bag until she finds 'Diplomatic incidents and how to smooth them over'. She looks something up in the chapter about severe cases, then she interrupts Goose's and Zachary's weekly shouting match.
"You may be surprised but your problem is not as grave as it seems. If your Captain could rescue his wife from Tortuna this weekend, all of you could relax on all future weekends on which you don't have to save the universe. Would that be acceptable to you?" Doc and Goose murmur something about how much they hate slaver lords and sponge fish coffee, respectively, but in the end the alternative of spending the rest of their careers selling Andorian atlases convinces them to give this a try.
"Fine. So I take your Captain to Tortuna and you can read our prospectus about relaxation courses in the meantime."
"We're not letting our Captain go into trouble alone," Doc protests.
"I don't want to miss the fun," Goose affirms. Niko blushes. "Sorry, but I have only a license to transport one person."
"Your advertisement said up to 15 people," Doc objects.
Niko blushes even more. "The more advanced drivers can do that, but today is a very important date in our company's lawsuit against the Megamind, who is trying to push us out of business with dumping prices, and I'm the only driver who's available for this galaxy."
Zachary flashes a wolfish grin. "We need to get weapons from BETA first, anyway. Goose, you drive."
"Are you insane?" Doc protests. "I mean, even more insane than usual?"
"I just want to make a point about driver's licenses."
15 nerve-shattering minutes later. Niko tries in vain to loosen her panic-stricken grip on 'Travel accidents and how to survive them'. She looks decidedly paler than before. "What was the point you wanted to make about driver's licenses, Mr. Fox?"
"It doesn't make a difference if you have them."
Goose, who feels slightly guilty about Niko's livid complexion, transforms into a life form with stronger upper arms in order to pry her hands from the book. Seeing his startling transformation, Niko drops the manual about travel accidents, grabs another book and starts reading with a panic-stricken look. Doc notes with interest that it looks exactly like the one Maya keeps on her desk. Before he can decipher the title, however, Zachary begins giving orders:
"Get our Zanquil clothes. Charge the blasters. Saddle the horses and tell Walsh we are going to have a picnic."
Half an hour later, after necessary preparations and solving minor problems (like Zachary refusing to let Niko ride on a horse with him and Niko refusing to ride with Goose), the Galaxy Rangers are ready to take their taxi. Niko interrupts her reading of 'Men who morph and how to resist your desire for them' and asks the rangers to concentrate on their destination. Another half an hour later, they actually manage to think of the same place, and Niko transports them to a back alley in Tortuna City.
Just as Zachary wants to give the charge sign, Doc interrupts with a strategic question: "What's actually our plan this time? Not that I doubt your tactic genius, but I don't think I can stand giving any more 'fencing with your bonsai' lessons at the Queen's self-assertion school."
Goose considers this for a moment. "We could attack through the back door this time."
Meanwhile, Niko is studying a placard of said Queen's establishment intently. She writes down the dates for a course about 'Scarecrows and how to get rid of them for good'. Listening with one ear, she realizes that the rangers are still discussing strategy and since she wants to be home in time to watch 'Terra X', she casually remarks that that the Queen is searching for bonsai-fencing teachers and that the rangers could use that to infiltrate her school. She doesn't understand why her suggestion provokes such grim opposition.
While the rangers heatedly discuss whether it is legitimate to involve civilians in a dangerous mission (and send them into self-assertion courses), a Crown Trooper approaches unnoticed. As he sees that the rangers are standing in a no-parking zone with their horses, he flashes a malicious smile and proceeds to fine them. (After all, he is paid according to his performance.)
"Money or your driver's licenses!" he yells as he draws his blaster. "You're in a no-parking zone."
Niko flinches violently and turns even paler than during Goose's driving. "There's no 'no parking' sign here," she protests. "You have to put up a sign if you want to fine us. That's interstellar taxi law."
"Tortuna has never signed any interstellar treaty," Zachary mutters gravely and moves his hands stealthily towards his blasters.
"Now that's a good cue," the Trooper gloats, "interstellar travel. We don't allow any interstellar travel unless we are bribed to do so. So, you're Zanquils and you're here. But Zanquils don't live on Tortuna. Consequently..." He grins even more viciously. "... I can fine you for that, too.."
"God help us," Doc mutters, "the Queen has installed an intelligence patch in her Troopers." Then he remembers something even more inconvenient. "I forgot the bribe money in Walsh's office."
"You don't have money?" the Trooper squeaks.
"He doesn't have money," Zachary corrects. "I'll give you what you deserve." He motions for Goose to get Niko out of the fire line.
That's when the Trooper's intelligence patch kicks in and he realizes that everyone's hands have been moving stealthily towards their blasters. "Hey, it's illegal to shoot a Crown Agent," he protests.
Then everything happens very quickly. Goose lunges at Niko and pulls her to the ground with him, Doc shoots the Trooper and Zachary comments dryly: "We don't observe Tortuna's laws."
Doc looks pleased at having eliminated one more evil computer program, Zachary shows a grim satisfaction at having destroyed one more fiend, Niko still looks stunned from tumbling over the ground with a morphing life form, and Goose tries to disentangle himself from her firm grip. A sudden shock look of shock comes over Niko' face as she abruptly rolls him over and projects a force field around them one second before the Trooper's colleagues open fire on them.
Goose growls, disgruntled, and morphs into a fireproof metallic life form to shield Niko and return fire. Zachary and Doc are already taking out as many troopers as they can. Soon, however, they are outnumbered by 37 pay-hungry Crown Troopers and have to flee.
They find shelter in a deserted night club that hasn't been refurbished for at least three months. Thankful that Tortuna's investment rate isn't as high as the Queen claims in her accounts, Doc picks up a prospectus, 'Tortuna's greatest attractions', and reads: "Stars of the Queen's special night show include ex super trooper Ryker Killbane. When asked why he gave up other lucrative jobs to work for the Queen, he answered 'She's the most exciting psychic I've ever met. Besides, she makes me feel like no one strips better than I do.'
Niko turns bright red and mutters insults in her native language. She angrily stuffs 'Men who morph and what they can do for you' back into her bag and replaces it with 'Men who morph and what you can do to them'.
Doc shakes his head in sympathy. "Now no one deserves that fate," he comments.
"Well, maybe, if he had a hand in Eliza's abduction," Zachary puts things into perspective.
"Can we visit one of the shows?" Goose asks with an evil grin.
"Weren't you going to free your Captain's wife?" Niko interrupts them vehemently.
"We could ask Geezi where she is," Doc ponders.
"But we still haven't compensated him for the carpet the Crown troopers scorched when they tried to arrest us in his hide-out," Zachary objects.
"Where can we find him?" Niko asks full of resolve and pulls Doc to his feet. "If I haven't gotten the information out of your informant by evening, I'll charge you double fees," she adds as she leaves with a protesting Doc in tow.
"Just where did the woman suddenly get her determination from?" Goose wonders as he starts sorting the books from her traveling bag into those that can be used as ammunition and those that are too light. He casually notes that the cover of the books she's recently read in look a lot like the ones Daisy always keeps on her bedside table. Half an hour later Doc returns.
"Where did you leave Niko?" Goose inquires. "She's still bargaining with Geezi for an exclusive contract to smuggle refugees out of Tortuna for him. That woman's tough for sure. I think I'd better pay my taxi bills."
"Well, Tortuna has always lacked travel facilities for those who wish to leave it in a hurry," Goose comments.
"What about Eliza?" Zachary brings them back on topic. "Geezi said she is in the Queen's recreational facilities in the west of Tortuna, right next to the only beauty center," Doc informs them.
Goose peers through the barred window. "Are you sure that no one followed you?"
"My Gooseman, of course not. I'm a pro."
At that moment 37 eager Crown Troopers who are paid according to their performance open fire on them.
"Now that I think about it...," Doc concedes as he leaps behind the counter.
"Geezi's paying us back for that scorched carpet," Zachary growls and activates his badge to send some of his enemies into oblivion.
"Maybe I really shouldn't have forgotten that bribe money," Doc muses as he takes out two troopers and a third one hits him from behind.
Despite their resistance the rangers are stunned and transported to the Queen. "So we meet again, Captain Fox," she purrs, "Ranger Gooseman, Ranger Hartford, I've got jobs for you."
"No, not another bonsai tree!" Doc screams but the Queen just utters a merciless and evil laugh at his protests.
"And for you, I've got special assignments," the Queen adds in her most sultry voice as she eyes Goose and Zachary maliciously. "You're going to participate in the beauty contest I'm holding and strip for me."
"That's beneath our dignity," Zachary asseverates.
"I can beat Killbane in every contest," Goose declares grimly.
Meanwhile, Niko is treating herself to a cup of herbal tea after successfully completing negotiations with Geezi. The pedulant may not have been there, but the contract between them definitely exists. One of the public advertising screens catches her eye: It displays a full-screen portrait of a woman in purple make-up with some message beneath. Maybe a refund campaign against a beauty center?
'Her Majesty congratulates herself on having caught three Galaxy Rangers.' Niko flinches. Now how is she going to collect her money?
'Furthermore, her Majesty announces that the flexible metamorph and the brawny Captain will strip this evening in the Sundown Bar. Tickets are still available for only 88 Crowns.'
Niko shudders. How is she going to keep this maniac in purple make-up from hoarding all interesting men in this galaxy?
Eliza yawns again. It's another long and boring day in the Queen's book shop. She almost misses her teaching assignment giving courses about 'The 1001 uses of psycho crystallization'. Finally, a customer enters. Eliza appraises the Zanquil woman as someone whom she can sell at least three copies of 'Men who morph and how to get them'. Eliza suddenly misses her husband. He may not have super powers, but she still loves him.
"Your husband has been kidnapped by the Queen of the Crown. If we don't rescue him and his men soon, they will strip for the Queen this evening."
Eliza is roused from her reverie as the woman mentions Zachary. "What?"
Just as Eliza packs the weapons she's been secretly gathering, an inconvenient matter that has prevented her from fleeing before comes to her mind. "How am I going to support my 20 adopted Kiwi children if I shoot my employer?"
"I know some good lawyers for that," Niko tries to dissipate Eliza's doubts.
Eliza sighs. "We've tried lawyers before and all it got us were huge bills - and more adopted children."
"Trust me on that. Our lawyers routinely banish our enemies to mind singularities from which they emerge only every 1000 years for a brief but costly interlude."
Doc is standing in front of a class of frog-like aliens and wishing his mother had never enrolled him in that fencing course - or made it public that he passed it. As he shows the frogs how to properly attack their bonsais, he mentally compiles a list of reasons 'Why I regret becoming a Galaxy Ranger - 89 th edition'. Just as he arrives at reason no. 112, Eliza shoots the bonsai and the frogs flee in panic.
"Where's my husband?" she demands. "
They're already in the changing room for their great show." Eliza storms off.
"Hey, could you maybe take off my foot shackles?" Doc protests.
The Sundown Bar is brimming with customers, and the Queen is rubbing her hands in anticipation of the profit she is going to make today. (Soon she'll be able to upgrade her troopers to the full version of MS Intelligence.)
Not to mention the two super troopers in tight leather outfits who are going to strip for her. Not to mention the attractive Captain Fox who is going to do a wrestling match with her tame mini Bronto bear. (After all, a good employer knows how to find jobs for their employees that they can do without consenting.)
The struggling Eliza her troopers bring in just serves to excite the crowd even more. (This performance-related pay scheme really has its merits.)The Queen decides to increase the margins on drinks by 10% and starts daydreaming about her galaxy-wide expansion strategy until Fox and the Bronto bear come on stage.
Unfortunately, even the best of business plans can be hit by unexpected occurrences. (In this case, the unexpected occurrence is a book entitled 'Peace and Understanding through Telepathy' that Doc throws at her.) The Queen collapses to the floor.
Doc silently thanks Goose for placing the books that can be used as missiles in the upper part of the traveling bag and Niko for insisting on retrieving said bag as he continues to throw books at the troopers that hold Eliza. The Bronto bear (who is very emphatic) howls in pain as his mistress and her servants are hurt. Niko hurries to comfort the sensitive animal.
Meanwhile, Goose and Killbane interpret the howling as their cue to take their fighting to the stage. The crowd cheers wildly as the exchange blows and morph into a variety of life forms. The fight drags on, still in a draw, and the Queen threatens to regain consciousness.
"Watch out for the photographers," Niko yells by way of diversion.
As Killbane pivots around with a dazzling smile, Goose knocks him out.
"Okay, Killbane, maybe you win the stupidity contest," Goose acknowledges.
"Hurry up," Niko shouts, "let's go before it occurs to someone to get their money back."
The rangers and Eliza assemble around her. "Okay, I've never teleported so many people before, so this is going to be a rough ride," Niko announces and plunges them through space. Several thoughts later they arrive at BETA with a decidedly more greenish complexion (except for Goose who has morphed into a completely green life form that is immune to space sickness). Now everyone is free to enjoy the rest of their weekend.
Walsh has confiscated the Galaxy Rangers' bribe money to cover the fines their cybersteeds accumulated while alone on Tortuna in a no parking zone. He is still deliberating whether to spend the remaining surplus on better insulation or a bonsai for his office.
Zachary and Eliza are happily united and have managed to reduce the number of their kids to two again. Eliza is giving courses about 'Employers from hell and how to survive them'. (The difference between the expenses necessary to support 20 Kiwi kids and paying the weekly installments of their lawyer's bill actually allows the Fox family to have a sundae every second weekend.)
Niko has secured an exclusive contract as BETA's taxi driver and is testing 'Men who morph - the soft approach to win them' on Goose.
Goose is still thinking about ways to introduce her to Daisy.
Doc has not yet returned from his vacation on Tarkon but the postcards he has been sending indicate that he is happy (and according to conspiracy rumors firmly attached to the planet).