Oliver Torres smoothed down the front of his red collared shirt as he proudly walked down the main corridor of the Irondale Military Academy—or IMA as it was also called. He had received word that the on-site superior, Major Garrett, had requested a private meeting with him. Oliver couldn't help feel a bit of an ego boost at the fact that the Major wanted to meet with him. Whatever the reason for the meeting was, Oliver could only imagine it was something very important. He moved down the halls, nodding at some of the younger members of the academy. After some time, he reached the large metal sliding door that led to Major Garrett's office. Oliver paused a moment and took a deep breath before pressing the call button on the panel beside the door.
"May I help you?" Came the voice of Major Garrett's computerized assistant system.
"I'm Cadet Torres, uh..Major Garrett's expecting me," Oliver replied.
"One moment please," the voice replied before going silence, no doubt contacting the Major to confirm this visitor. Instead of returning a moment later with a response, the doors pulled open with a light hiss, granting Oliver access to the office. "You may enter," the voice unnecessarily said after a moment.
"Thanks," Oliver replied as he stepped through the door. There were a few people mulling around the main portion of the office. Some seemed to be holding folders, while two others were standing near the massive computer system in the room. Oliver stood by for a moment as the door hissed shut behind him, unsure what to say or do.
"Torres," a voice called, catching Oliver's attention. He looked towards the wall to his left and saw Major Garrett standing outside his private office. Oliver gave a small nod and approached his superior. Once he was standing right in front of the Major, he stopped and stood up straight, giving a quick salute. Garret returned the salute and nodded. "Come with me," he said as he turned and walked through the open wooden door that led to his workspace. Oliver obediently followed Garrett inside and stood by as the Major closed the door behind them. "Have a seat," he commented.
"Yes sir," Oliver replied as he moved over to the chair that faced the large chrome desk and matching desk chair in the room. Sighing, the slightly older man eased himself onto the corner of the desk and looked at Oliver. "Is everything alright, sir?" Oliver asked, noticing for the first time the troubled look on his superior's face. His face was creased with worry, which made him look older than his 31 years.
Major Garrett sighed and ran a hand through his short dark hair. "No, Torres," he finally said after a moment. "I can honestly say that everything is not alright," he said in a small sad tone. Before Oliver could ask him to clarify, he stood up from his perch on the desk and retrieved a manila file from the furthest corner of his desk. Without a word, he tossed it in front of Oliver, letting the file fly open as it landed on the desk.
The pages slide out of the folder slightly before coming to a stop. Frowning slightly, Oliver glanced down at them, before taking the papers in his hands. There were dozens of reports surrounding the destruction of Space Patrol Delta, or SPD as it was formerly known as; The death of their commander, his wife and their ranger team; and fairly recent reports from different planets in the galaxy surrounding a group of terrorists traveling around, causing chaos and destruction everywhere they went. He flipped through the pages with wide eyes and saw reports of other SPD posts also having been taken out in just the past year.
"Sir?" Oliver asked, looking up at his grim faced superior, his eyes as wide as saucers. "I…..I don't understand….What happened to SPD?" Major Garrett sighed and moved to his desk chair. He sat down and clenched his hands together on the tabletop, staring down at them for a long moment before speaking.
"You've heard the reports of Emperor Grumm and his minions terrorizing New Tech City, correct?" He finally asked.
"Of course sir," Oliver nodded. Around five years ago, an intergalactic terrorist, Emperor Grumm, had begun his quest for world domination in the distant city. Luckily, it happened to be a place with a large SPD base. After the A-Squad had gone missing, the commander activated a B-Squad team of rangers. After some time, reports came out simply that Emperor Grumm had been defeated, but nothing else was ever heard about the rangers.
"Five years ago, the rangers and their commander infiltrated Emperor Grumm's base," Major Garrett spoke. "Everyone knows that there was an explosion which took out the enemy, but..." he paused a moment. "What people don't know is that…the rangers were destroyed in the explosion as well." He added, confirming the reports Oliver had just seen.
"I don't understand," Oliver spoke, this being the first he had ever heard of rangers being killed, let alone any trouble befalling SPD. "Why weren't people told?" Garrett gave a sad sigh.
"It was a decision made by people much higher up than myself," he admitted. "They felt that, as long as the threat of Grumm and his kind was neutralized, there was no need to trouble the world with the news of the rangers' deaths."
"And now?" Oliver asked, wondering why he was privy to this information.
"Now, it seems a larger threat is coming," Garrett replied.
"What are we supposed to do then?" The younger man questioned. "If SPD has been wiped out... There's nobody to protect us." Garrett looked up at Oliver and gave him a small ghost of a smile.
"There is," he replied. He cleared his throat and sat up straight, regaining his air of authority and order. "Torres, I have been given authorization to activate a new ranger team," he announced.
"With…remaining SPD cadets?" Oliver asked, thoroughly confused. Garrett's eyes saddened for a moment before shaking his head.
"There are no remaining SPD cadets, anywhere," he pointed out. "No, the ranger team will be comprised of cadets, here," he said. Oliver's mouth fell open a moment, shocked. Before he could speak or ask another question, Garrett continued speaking. "Torres, records indicated that you took the SPD entrance exam four years ago, am I right?" He asked. The SPD exam was a test given to the military academies, should cadets choose to take it. It was a way for cadets outside of SPD to be given admittance straight through into the middle or upper ranks, depending on their score, as supposed to going straight into SPD from the bottom and slowly making the way up the levels. The difference between the two methods was that cadets who started at the bottom of SPD had the option to join up as young as the age of ten, where the military academies required cadets to be at least 18 years of age.
"Yes sir," Oliver replied.
"Your score was quite high," Garrett continued, "higher than I'd ever seen, actually." Oliver fought off the urge to grin proudly at that. With the news he had just heard, this wasn't the time to be egotistical. "And yet, since then, whenever there had been an opening to SPD, you've never requested a transfer. Why is that?" Oliver was quiet for a moment, deciding to choose his words carefully.
"I….I guess, sir, I just didn't feel I was ready to be SPD material, yet," he quietly said. Garrett peered at him for a long moment before shaking his head.
"No, that's not it," he assessed. "Please, tell me the real reason," he encouraged. Oliver sighed and raked his hand through his hair.
"The real reason….well, I realized that the SPD base was on the other side of the country, and…I didn't want to leave my sisters here….alone, without me," he admitted, his words stumbling out of him. He looked down, feeling ashamed of his answer. He loved his sisters more than anything, but he also knew that choosing to stall your own career because you don't want to leave your family would hardly be an acceptable answer. But it was the truth. After the death of their parents when Oliver was twelve years old, he took it upon himself to take care of his sisters, Elle who was eight at the time, and Willa who was seven. Even when the three were taken to the Irondale orphanage, where they grew up, his first priority was them. And after he aged out of the system and joined the military academy, he'd visit them at the orphanage whenever he could until the day they too aged out and followed in his footsteps by joining the academy.
After a moment, he chanced a look upwards and to his surprise, saw Garrett giving him a small smile. "Thank you, Torres," he commented. "For a while, I was concerned that I'd picked the wrong cadet. Yes, your score was higher than any I'd ever seen, but there is so much more about a person to take into account. Now, I know without a doubt, you are the right person for the job. A good leader always thinks of other's before his own personal gain." Oliver blinked, completely shocked by Garrett's response.
"L…Leader?" He finally choked out.
"Yes, I've taken some time and given it some serious thought as to who is going to lead this new team of rangers, and you've just proved to me that my decision was correct." Oliver stared at him for a long moment, processing his words and trying to make sure he had heard correctly.
"I…w…." He sputtered for a moment, unsure what to say. "You…..want me to be a ranger," he shook his head. "No, not just that, you want me to lead the team?"
"That is what I just said," Major Garrett replied. "And your first duty as leader will be to pick your team," he added. "Assuming you accept this role as leader, and I hope you do, you will report to the records department to receive the dossiers of other cadets who have scored high on the exam. From them, you will select six people to be under your command." The Major paused for a moment as if lost in thought. "Also, since you'd be taking on a larger role within the academy, you will be promoted." Oliver blew out a shaky breath as his head began to swim with all of this news.
"Promoted?" He spoke.
"Well yes, we can't have a mere cadet leading our ranger team, can we?" The Major lightly joked.
"Uh..." Oliver murmured, running his hands over his face. "This is huge." He muttered.
"Yes, I'd imagine it is," Garrett said with an understanding nod. "If you need a day to process all of this, no one would fault you for that. But, I'd be lying if I said this matter needs to be addressed the sooner the better," he said.
"No." Oliver stated after a momentary silence. "I don't need time... I'll do it." Garrett smiled, pleased by Oliver's readiness to dive right in.
"Excellent," he replied. Oliver watched as the Major opened up one of the drawers in his desk and pulled out three items and set them on the desk. The first was a lieutenant's badge, the second, a large metal box with a military seal on it; the third was a smaller flat box. The Major rose from his desk and opened the smaller box. "Please stand," he said. Oliver quickly did as he was told as Garrett turned the open box to face him. It was then that Oliver saw it wasn't just a box, but a handheld palm scanner. Oliver knew it was what was used to make any promotions official in the academy, not to mention announce it to the rest of the base. The Major pushed the box towards Oliver, who in turn held his hand over the machine and gently pressed his palm down. As soon as his hand came in contact with the pad, he felt a mild warmth sweep the length of his palm as his hand was scanned. As the scanning went on, a beep was heard as a computer display activated on the inside lid of the box.
"This is Major David Garrett. I, being of sound mind and body, promote Cadet Oliver Torres to the rank of Lieutenant. It is with confidence and without doubt that I bestow this rank, for I know this officer does, and will continue to, embody the traits needed for this position," Major Garrett spoke, his voice booming with authority. The machine recorded his words as he spoke them. Oliver had heard this speech before, it was the same that had been broadcasted throughout the base two years ago when Garrett had been promoted to Major, after their previous on site superior, Captain Williams, had put in for his retirement. Oliver had a brief moment of self consciousness as he realized now everyone at the base would know of his current promotion. "Oliver Torres, do you take on this position freely?" Major Garrett spoke, continuing the official promotion process. Oliver cleared his throat and took a deep breath, hoping his voice did not waiver as he spoke.
"I do, sir," he replied, his tone more confident then he thought he could muster.
"And do you swear to uphold the duties, honor, and responsibilities, of your position?" Garrett continued.
"I do, sir," Oliver replied. Garrett carefully balanced the box in one hand while the other picked up the badge from his desk.
"Hold out your free hand, please," he said, to which Oliver quickly obliged. "I now promote you to Lieutenant Oliver Torres," Garrett announced as he placed the badge in Oliver's open palm.
"Thank you, sir," Oliver breathed out, as he felt the weight of the silver badge in his hand. Garrett smiled and nodded as Oliver's hand closed around the badge. As soon as Oliver's fingers wrapped around it, he heard another beep as the display, and the transmission it was recording and broadcasting, ended. Garrett lowered the box to his desk and closed it.
"Well done." Garrett commented as he moved back around his desk, giving the newly appointed Lieutenant a small smile. "I would suggest that you head out to start picking your new team."
"Thank you, sir," Oliver nodded as be carefully clipped his badge onto his shirt.
"Good luck." Came the response as he eased himself into the large chair. "Should you have any questions, you know where to find me." Oliver nodded and gave the Major a salute.
"I won't let you down, sir," he promised. Turning slightly, Oliver departed the room. Turning slightly, Oliver departed the room. As soon as he left the room and returned to the main area of the office, the few people milling about looked at him and smiled, a few uttering congratulations and other positive comments. Oliver accepted the commentary and praise, a blush washing over his face at all the praise. He thanked them humbly before making his way out of the room. He felt some people clap him on the back and shoulders as he passed them. He smiled and nodded before leaving the room. The door had hissed shut after his departure and he barely took a small handful of steps away before he felt two bodies run and jump onto him. "Umph!" He exclaimed as he stumbled slightly.
"Congratulations!" He heard his two sisters say in unison by his ears as they hugged him.
"Thanks." He chuckled as they both kissed his cheeks in unison. They slipped off of his back and came around to stand in front of him to give him a proper hug. Oliver smiled and hugged them back.
"This is so great," Willa gushed, tucking a strand of her short hair behind her ear.
"Totally!" Elle exclaimed. "We definitely need to celebrate," she added in a no nonsense tone. Oliver chuckled and nodded.
"Absolutely," he said, placing a hand on each of their arms. "Later, we will celebrate," he promised. He saw their faces fall slightly at that.
"Oh, okay," Willa replied. Oliver felt a twinge at regret at disappointing his sisters, but he figured he needed to dive right into work as soon as possible.
"Sorry," he replied, quickly giving each of them a kiss on the cheek. "I've just got to do something right now, but I promise we can celebrate when I'm done," he assured them.
"You'd better come find us as soon as you're done." Elle grinned as she poked him in the chest. "Or else."
"Hey," Oliver laughed, "I don't think poking superior officers is allowed," he joked.
"Oh whatever," Elle laughed, rolling her eyes.
"Let's let Mr. Important go." Willa giggled.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Elle laughed as she and Willa stepped aside to let Oliver continue on his way. Oliver gave his sisters one last smile before leaving them and making his way to the elevator to take him to the records department. The elevator ride down was quiet, which Oliver was extremely thankful for. After a few minutes, the elevator reached its destination with a smooth stop as the doors slid open to reveal the records department. The room took up the entire level and was littered with file cabinets, computers, and the people who worked within the department. Oliver disembarked the elevator and quietly entered the space, choosing not to disturb anyone he didn't need to. He walked deeper into the area until he reached the main desk, where the head of the department, Miss Andrews, sat.
The sound of footsteps startled the department head out of her thoughts, and forced her to stop what she had been working on. A soft smile pulled across her face as she pushed her chair away from the desk. "Lieutenant Torres." She greeted as she moved around the desk, her heels clicking loudly on the tiled floor of the Academy. "I hear congratulations are in order." Oliver blushed yet again at the praise from the visibly shorter woman.
Syd Andrews had been at the IMA for over four years now. She was well known for her height, or lack there of. Barely surpassing five feet, she had a gorgeous smile and piercing blue eyes, combined with a beautiful crop of short dark hair. Today, it was straightened, framing her face. Although the Academy had a strict dress code for their employee's, Syd seemed to be able to get away with wearing whatever she wanted. Today, she was wearing a black blouse with a sky-blue cami peaking out from the bottom, paired with a pair of grey slacks, finished with a pair of black pointed-toe heels. Clearly, living with the Major of the Academy gave her the ability to bend the rules.
"Thank you, Miss Andrews,' he replied. Syd smiled.
"Well, what can I do for you?" She asked.
"Major Garrett told me I needed to retrieve the dossiers of cadets who had scored high on the SPD exam," he replied. For a moment, he thought he caught her smile wavering briefly, but as soon as he had noticed; her face was back to its previous state.
"Oh?" She asked as she stepped over to the bank of file cabinets behind her desk.
"Yeah." He nodded as she began to sort through the cabinets. "It's my first order as Lieutenant," he admitted. Syd nodded as she began pulling out some files and setting them on her desk.
"I take it that you're excited about your promotion then." She mused as she pulled out a few remaining files and set them down. Oliver looked down and sighed.
"I don't know if excited is right term for it," he said in a quiet sad tone as he thought of all the cadets and officers within the various SPD stations being wiped out. Some of them might've even been people he had known in the academy who had moved on during his tenure. Syd looked up at him as she set the last of twenty five files on her desk.
"What do you mean?" She asked, her tone laced with concern. Oliver paused, blinking rapidly.
"You mean you don't know?" He questioned, slightly skeptical that she hadn't found out through David.
"Know what?" Syd asked, completely clueless.
"I…I just….I thought Major Garrett would've told you," he said. Syd crossed her arms over her chest, not liking the idea that her partner might've kept a secret from her.
"Told me what?" Syd asked, her tone holding a slight edge to it.
"About SPD..." Oliver trailed off again. Once again, Oliver noticed something flash across Syd's face as he mentioned SPD.
"What about it?" She asked, her voice strained.
"It was destroyed." Came the soft response. He heard Syd gasp as she leaned heavily against her desk.
"Which base?" She asked, her voice small. Oliver swallowed thickly and shook his head.
"SPD, in its entirety, was wiped out," he quietly admitted.
"Oh god." She whispered, her hand moving to her mouth. Oliver noticed her swaying slightly on her feet and quickly went to her side to ease her into her chair and keep her from collapsing on the floor.
"Are you okay Ms. Andrews?" He asked, kneeling next to her once she was situated in her seat. Syd let out a few panting breaths as the color drained out of her face. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath to try and regain control of her emotions.
"Yes," she finally said after a moment. "Yes, I'm fine. Just…..shocked," she added.
"Okay..." Oliver murmured as he slowly pushed himself up. "I apologize for the shock of the news." Syd numbly nodded.
"Thank you….for telling me," she said. "I know you probably weren't supposed to," she theorized. There's no way a complete destruction of SPD could've gone on without anyone knowing, unless people didn't want the public to know. "I won't tell anyone," she assured him, figuring Oliver was worried he might get in trouble for his honesty.
"Thank you," Oliver gratefully replied. Nodding in reply, Syd pushed the folders towards him.
"Just bring those back when you're done."
"Will do," Oliver nodded as he gathered the files up and picked them off the desk.
It was gone six o'clock when David unlocked the front door of the apartment he shared with Syd. It had been an extremely long day after he'd met with his recently appointed Lieutenant, and all he wanted to do was make dinner and curl up on the couch and cuddle with his beautiful partner. "I'm home!" He called out while kicking his shoes off. His excitement and joy to be home was cut short as he entered the apartment and came face to face with Syd sitting in their modest living room, the setting sun from the window providing the only light in the room. She was hunched forward and he could distinctly hear the sounds of her crying. "Syd? What's wrong baby?" He murmured as he tossed his jacket across the couch and set his bag down before moving towards her. Syd looked up at him, her eyes dark and bloodshot.
"Why didn't you tell me?" She asked, her voice hoarse and strained from hours of sobbing.
"Tell you what?" David questioned as he knelt in front of her. Carefully, he reached out to cup her cheek.
"You know damn well what," Syd hissed, moving her face away from his hand.
"Syd... I don't know what you're talking about." He murmured softly. "Please tell me what upset you so much." Syd let out a shaky breath and reached for a tissue on the box sitting on their coffee table. She pulled it out and wiped at her cheeks and nose.
"I heard about what happened to SPD," she finally said. The color drained from David's face as he realized what she was talking about.
"Syd... I... I didn't know you'd take it this way." He replied finally after a moment. Syd glared at him and opened her mouth to reply, but seemed to catch herself and close her mouth. She looked down for a moment before taking a deep breath.
"It's upsetting," she quietly replied. "All those people, taken out…."
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you." He murmured tenderly after a moment. He took her face in his hands and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. Syd closed her eyes as a few more tears slipped down her cheeks. David wrapped his arms around her and held her close for a while as she continued to cry.
It was some time before Syd's tears subsided. Gently, David pulled away slightly. "How about I order us something in for dinner and we just relax here tonight, try and take your mind of this?" He asked softly as he rubbed circles on her back.
"I'd like that," Syd replied in a tiny voice.
"Alright, I'll be right back." He promised softly. Syd watched as David got back up on his feet and moved over to the kitchen drawer where they kept all their take-out menus.
"I'm going to go wash my face," Syd announced as she got up from the couch.
"Alright," David replied. Quietly, Syd moved towards their bedroom and then into the private bath they had attached to it. She sighed when she caught a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror. Her face was blotchy, red and swollen. Sighing, she turned to cold water faucet on and splashed the cool water onto her face to help some of the swollenness. After splashing her face a few times, she shut off the water and picked up the small hand towel by the sink to gently pat her face dry. Tossing the towel down on the counter, she moved back into the bedroom to change out of her work clothing. She stripped out of her work clothes and changed into a pair of gray sweatpants and a white tank top. Just as she was pulling her top on, David moved into the room.
"Good idea." He chuckled as she began to unbutton his shirt. Syd gave him a small smile that didn't quite reach her eyes.
"Did you order dinner?" She asked.
"Yeah, I ordered Italian... Your favorite." He smiled gently as he pulled his dress shirt off and tossed it into the laundry bin.
"Thank you," Sydney replied, stepping closer to him and placing a quick kiss on his lips.
"Anything for you Syd." Came his tender reply as he rubbed her sides gently.
"I'll go set the table," she commented as she took a step away from him.
"I'll be right out." He promised. Syd nodded and brushed past him as she left the room and headed to their kitchen. Once she reached the kitchen, she sighed and leaned against the counter top, running her hands over her face. To say that the news of SPD's annihilation had caught her by surprise would have been an understatement. Her thoughts were immedality drawn to the two people who'd helped her through the death of her teammates five years ago; Dr. Kat Manx, and Boom. Syd suddenly felt pang after pang of guilt as she thought of the years since she left New Tech City and her life as Sydney Drew, pink SPD ranger. She hadn't told Boom or Kat that she was leaving, nor did she give them means to reach out to her, in her need to escape her life and the little that was left in it. And now, she wouldn't even have a chance to apologize to them, beg their forgiveness for undoubtedly making them worry about her wellbeing and her whereabouts all these years.
Syd blew out a breath as she fought off the urge to start crying again. There was nothing she could do now. One day she'd get back to New Tech to properly pay her respects to her fallen comrades. She sighed and busied herself with pulling out plates, utensils and drinking glasses out for herself and David and setting them on the table in preparation for their food to arrive. Within a moment of her setting the last glass on the table, David returned to the room, jeans slung low on his hips, and pulling a dark t-shirt over his head. He gave Syd a lazy smile and moved behind her, wrapping an arm around her waist and kissing the side of her neck. She let her shoulder sag slightly, leaning against him. She sighed as she felt his lips linger on her neck before kissing a trail up to her jaw. Her eyes fluttered closed as his hands moved from her waist, slowly caressing her body as he kissed along her jaw.
"We shouldn't." Syd murmured as one of his hands slipped below the waistband of her sweats.
"Shouldn't what?" David innocently asked with a cheeky grin. Giggling, she bit the side of her lip for a moment. David was a different guy, there was no denying it. He loved to ravish her with food, wine, gifts, and of course, sex.
"You know very well what," Syd lightly chastised around another round of giggles.
"Mmm, very convincing Ms. Andrews." He chuckled as he spun her around and kissed her deeply. Syd moaned lightly against his mouth as her arms slid around his shoulders. David's hands trailed down her back, before finding purchase at the base of her rear and effortlessly lifting her up so she straddled his waist. Syd giggled and wrapped her legs around him as he hoisted her up. Shuffling his feet, he moved them towards the counter, and gently set her down on it before his hands moved back to the front of the shirt she was wearing. Syd's heart quickened as she felt David's hand slip under the hem of her shirt and begin to make its way up to her chest. Just as his hand was at her ribcage, the sound of their doorbell rang through the apartment. David groaned, and Syd dropped her head backwards slightly with an annoyed sigh.
"Worst timing in the world," David grumbled as he stepped away from Syd to get his wallet.
"No kidding." Came her response as she slipped off the counter. David discretely readjusted himself in his pants before opening the door to pay for their delivery. Biting her lip slightly, Syd smoothed down her hair as she watched him open the door and pay for the food. She moved over to the kitchen table and sat down as David finished paying the delivery man and took the bag, letting the door fall shut as he joined Syd at the table. It took them a moment to portion out the food onto their plates and tuck into their meal.
"Looks amazing." Syd murmured appreciately.
"Hmm... I think other things look amazing." He commented as he leered at Syd. Syd blushed likely and shook her head.
"Eat your food," she lightly chastised around a giggle.
"And if I don't want to eat food?" He grinned. Syd bit her lip and gave David a saucy look before leaning closer to him and placing a hand on his arm.
"Well, then," she began, her voice low and husky, "you should put it in the fridge so it doesn't spoil," she added teasingly as she faked him out and leaned back in her seat, giggling.
"You're a tease." David laughed loudly as he tucked into his meal.
"But you adore me anyway," Syd playfully quipped as she twirled her fork to gather up some noodles.
"Maybe I only love you for your body." Came his teasing response. Syd playfully shrugged as she popped her fork in her mouth and chewed her food.
"Oh well," she flippantly said after she swallowed.
"You don't seem too upset about that." He chuckled.
"Well, my body is amazing," she joked, "so if you're going to have a reason to love me, it might as well be a good one," she said with a cheeky grin.
"I guess you're right." David chuckled in response.
"Of course I am," Syd quipped as she took another bite of her food.
"Hush and eat your food!" Came his reply around a loud laugh. Syd simply giggled at that and continued to eat.
Oliver moved slowly down the halls of the cadet quarters, his mind racing as he thought out how he was going to approach the first person. Making the choice had been simple, given their history. However, he wasn't sure on how to break the news to his best friend.
Jordan Mitchellson had been Oliver's roommate when he came to the academy. Oliver had tried living on his own after leaving the orphanage but felt unfulfilled by his limited opportunities after nearly a year and found his calling at the academy. Jordan had been there for a few weeks, having gone in straight from reform school. At first, Oliver was wary of him but he soon found that though Jordan had some issues with authority figures, and tended to make his own rules—which tended to involve breaking others' rules—he wasn't a bad person.
As it turned out, they seemed to have a lot in common when it came to how they liked things, sports, foods, girls, and so on; and they had hit it off right away. That, coupled with Oliver having the utmost confidence in Jordan's loyalty and strength, made Oliver undoubtedly certain about two things the moment he saw Jordan's file amongst the ones Syd had given him. He wanted Jordan to be a part of his team, and he wanted Jordan to be his second in command. Oliver knew Jordan could be the person to help him handle the responsibility of managing the team, both due to their friendship and Jordan's attributes. Oliver also knew that if anything happened to him, Jordan would step up and lead the team in his absence.
As he came to a stop in front of their door, he shifted nervously from foot to foot. Taking a deep breath, he typed in the pass code to their room and watched as the doors slowly hissed open. He walked in to the small modest dorm space he shared with Jordan, where he found Jordan lounging on his bed reading a book.
"Hey," Jordan spoke, looking up from his book the moment he heard the door hiss open. He set his book down and stood up as the door closed behind Oliver. "I heard about the promotion," he commented, giving a small acknowledging nod to the badge affixed on Oliver's shirt. Oliver gave a small chuckle and moved over to his own bed to set his bundle of files down.
"Who hasn't?" He joked, knowing the whole ordeal had been broadcast throughout the grounds.
"I'm sure there's at least someone who doesn't know yet." Jordan replied with a grin. "Probably showering or something."
"Right," Oliver commented around another small chuckle as he sat on the edge of his bed.
"What's that?" Jordan commented, nodding towards the folders that Oliver had set down on the bed. "Looks important." Oliver cast a look over at the files before bringing his gaze back to his friend.
"Files on cadets who passed the SPD exam," he replied, stalling slightly as he mentally prepared himself for what he was going to ask Jordan.
"You know, I know that Garrett is known for giving weird assignments... But looking into the files of cadets who passed the SPD exam? Probably the weirdest I've heard."
"It's not so weird," Oliver replied, "It kind of has to do with…why I was promoted," he admitted. There was a brief pause before Jordan burst out laughing.
"Dude, you sound so cryptic, tell me." Oliver stared at him for a moment before taking a deep breath and looking down.
"Major Garrett told me some stuff," he began.
"Okay…" Jordan said, urging his friend to continue. Oliver was quiet for a long moment, which made Jordan begin to worry. "What is it?" He asked.
"SPD's been taken out," Oliver finally breathed out.
"Wh...What?" Jordan breathed out, his mouth falling open. Oliver took another deep breath and told Jordan what David had told him regarding Space Patrol Delta—from the cover-up regarding the ranger team being killed in the explosion with Grumm five years ago, to the more recent tragedy of every SPD base in existence having been wiped off the face of the earth, as well as other planets. "Wh…who could do something that massive?" Jordan asked, still stunned as before as he slowly sat back down on his bed. Whatever entity had the resources and the power to cause enough destruction as an all but genocide of SPD had to be someone unlike any other.
"I don't know," Oliver spoke. The two were silent for a long moment, the news hanging in the air around them.
"What happens now?" Jordan finally asked. "If there's no SPD, what's going to stop this….thing….from taking out everything in existence?"
"That's the reason for the folders... And my promotion." His friend commented quietly. "Garrett wants me to lead a new team of rangers... And select them too." Jordan's eyes widened, more so than they already had been, at that.
"Whoa," he commented.
"Pretty much, yeah," Oliver sardonically quipped.
"Thats... Awesome!" Came the excited reply. Oliver looked up at him at that so quickly he nearly gave himself whiplash. Jordan caught his look and quickly settled down. "I mean, the circumstances behind it…are terrible, don't get me wrong, but…wow, this is really amazing," Jordan clarified.
"Well, I'm glad you think so," Oliver commented.
"You don't?" Jordan questioned, sounding somewhat skeptical.
"No, I mean…I'm glad you think this is amazing because….I need to ask you something," Oliver replied.
"Yeah? What's that?" Came the response. Oliver looked in his pile of folders for a moment before pulling one out and holding it up.
"I'm supposed to pick the ranger team out of these files. Your file is in here," he stated. "I want you on the team, and to be my second in command." It took Jordan a few moments to regain his composure after Oliver asked his question.
"I'm sorry, but I must have misheard you... Can you repeat it for me?"
"How would you feel about being a ranger, and having a promotion of your own? Say, to 2nd Lieutenant?" Oliver asked with a small grin.
"You're serious?" He breathed in response, watching as Oliver nodded slowly. A massive grin spread across Jordan's face as he laughed. "Hell yeah!" He exclaimed happily. Oliver's grin widened at Jordan's response. He had been worried that Jordan would decline, given his occasional "buck the system" attitude. He wondered if being in a position of authority would rub Jordan the wrong way. He was overjoyed to see that wasn't the case.
"Great," he replied.
"Who else is going to be on the team?" Came the question a few moments later.
"I'm not sure yet," Oliver replied. "I just glanced over some of the files, then came straight here when I saw yours," he replied. "I wanted to get my 2nd lieutenant on board first. And since you've said yes, that leaves one file and one spot taken care of," Oliver stated as he set Jordan's file down. "And 24 files, for five spots, left."
"Wow..." Jordan breathed out. "Do you want some help? Two eyes might be better than one."
"Sure," Oliver replied. He grabbed half of the files and stood up from his bed to hand them over to Jordan. The pair lapsed into silence for well over an hour as they pored over the files in front of them. Finally, they closed the last of the folders and set them aside. Both had created a 'short-list' pile of people they deemed to be more than acceptable for the job, and the second pile of those who wouldn't make the grade.
"Who's your first pick?" Oliver asked. For a moment, he felt odd picking the team like this, it felt like they were picking people for a fantasy sport's team or something crazy like that. He mentally shrugged the thought off and waited as Jordan looked through his short-list pile to pick out a folder.
"Alana Drake," Jordan said.
"Wait? Alana Drake? As in the girl that you slept with when you were 21? Won't that be extremely awkward?" Oliver questioned, a slight grin pulling at the corner of his mouth regarding Jordan's 'interesting' past. "If you want to go there again, there are other ways to go about it," he added. Jordan rolled his eyes.
"That is not the reason," he said, giving Oliver a slight glare. "And even if I did want to, which I don't, she's with that Derek guy." Jordan shrugged. "Her score's high...she's a good fighter….I don't see why she shouldn't be on the team."
"That works then." Oliver nodded, biting his lip slightly, to keep from making another comment regarding the past between Alana and Jordan.
"Alright, who's your pick?" Jordan asked, wanting to move on. Oliver looked through his files before pausing on one and unleashing a hearty laugh. "What?" Jordan asked.
"Well, since you don't mind Alana being on the team….I'm sure you won't mind Derek Stefano being on the team as well," he grinned. He was met with a nasty glare from his best friend.
"Fine." Jordan ground out, not enjoying the ribbing he was receiving from Oliver. Oliver chuckled and put Derek's file aside.
"Okay, who you've got?" He asked. Jordan pulled out the next file on the top of his pile.
"Zoë McAllister?" Jordan asked, only to be met with Oliver quickly shaking his head.
"No way," he replied. "I've had clean up duty with her in the past, girl complains and whines about the slightest thing. And when she's not doing that, she's just an all out stuck up pain in the ass," Oliver replied.
"….So, translation, you hit on her and she shot you down?" Jordan asked, turning Oliver's previous ribbing against him.
"Hell no!" Oliver quickly exclaimed. "I'd have to be drunk, and fresh off of a lobotomy, to want to go there," he said, shuddering slightly.
"Well you didn't have any issues hitting on Abby Simcoe." Jordan grinned. "As I recall, she and Zoë are best friends and might as well be sisters for how similar they are." Blinking, Oliver slowly removed the next file from his short list and placed it in the reject pile. Jordan raised his eyebrows. "And she was your next pick." He snickered.
"Shut up," Oliver quickly ordered around a slight grumble.
"Your life would be so dull without me." Jordan joked as he pulled out another folder. "Anyway, moving on," Jordan said, returning to the task at hand as he looked over the folder her had picked out of the pile. "Adrian Johnson?" He suggested.
"Yeah sure." Oliver nodded. "Adrian's a pretty cool guy." Jordan nodded in agreement.
"And the guy scored ridiculously high on the flight and vehicle simulator parts of the exam," Jordan nodded. "Not to mention the mechanics portion."
"Well yeah, guy's a total gear head," Oliver commented. This assessment was true. It was common knowledge within the academy that Adrian was the one to go to if your car, bike, or any vehicle, was giving you any sort of problem. He was a genius when it came to the mechanics of things. He was the Engine Whisperer, the Carburetor Psychic, and any other clever endearment anyone could think of.
"Alright, so how many left?" Jordan questioned as he tossed the folder into the 'yes' piles.
"We've got two spots on the team left," Oliver replied. Jordan nodded and looked through his remaining possible files. After a moment, he paused with two folders in his grasp.
"I think I have two that might work," he commented.
"Oh?" Oliver absentmindedly asked as he looked through his possibilities piles.
"Yeah," Jordan replied. "They scored pretty high on the exam….I don't really think they'll have any problems following your lead on the team, and they're easy to get along with." Oliver looked up at Jordan; a suspicious nagging feeling entering his mind at the level of certainty Jordan had said these two people would accept him as a leader.
"Alright, I'll bite, who are these two seemingly perfect candidates?" He asked.
"Elle and Willa Torres," Jordan replied with a grin, certain he'd made two selections his friend would approve of. There's no way he'd find fault with his two sisters being a part of the honor of being on the ranger team. Oliver's face fell as his eyes darkened slightly.
"Absolutely not," he firmly stated.
There was a brief beat before Jordan spoke again. "What? Why the hell not?" He demanded. "Your sisters are the perfect candidates for something like this. Responsible, intelligent, skilled fighters." He stated, ticking their traits off on his fingers.
"I said no," Oliver stated, mustering up all the authority his recently acquired position filled him with.
"Yeah, I got that," Jordan shot back, "what you're not saying is why not." Oliver slammed the folders he had in his hands down on his bed.
"Because I said so!" He exploded. "They're my sisters, and this is my team. This is my decision."
There was a brief silence again before Jordan tossed the folders down.
"Fine." He stated, trying to keep his voice even.
"Good," Oliver said, pleased the discussion was over. He picked the folders back up and resumed looking through them. Jordan stared at him for a moment before getting up.
"Since you're so set on who you don't want on the team, why don't you just fill the last spots on your own," he stated, his disapproval of Oliver's attitude evident in his tone.
"Dude, come on." Oliver stated with a frown. "It's not like that."
"No, you come on," Jordan shot back, "look, I don't get why you're so against your sisters being on the team. Maybe it's because I'm an only child and I can't relate, but whatever. You know they'd be a perfect fit for the team. If you're too stubborn to see that, then I don't want a hand in filling up those two spots." Bending down, he grabbed his book. "Have fun." He stated before moving from the room. Oliver simply watched as Jordan stormed out of the room, the only sound heralding his departure being the dual hissing of the door opening and closing. He sighed and shook his head, moving his attention back to the folders in his hands.
Outside of the room, Jordan angrily grumbled to himself as he stalked away from the room. He wandered for a short while before deciding that the lounge would be the best place to clam down in. As the doors hissed open, he felt his stomach turn in somersaults as he saw Derek Stefano sitting in one of the chairs. Given his recent conversation with Oliver about future teammates, he was shocked to see one of them there.
Derek looked up at him from the magazine he was reading and gave him a casual acknowledging nod. Slowly, Jordan nodded in response. This wouldn't be awkward at all. Jordan quietly walked to one of the empty armchairs in the room and plopped down, ready to just go back to his book without incident.
When the door hissed open a few moments later, Jordan inwardly groaned, knowing that his day just wasn't going to get better. Alana Drake walked into the room. Her blond hair swirling down her shoulders and across her chest. She stopped when she saw Jordan, her eyes widenening slightly as he glanced up and made eye contact with her.
"Hey," she said, somewhat stunned.
"Uh…hi," Jordan replied, praying that was as far as their conversation would go.
"Hey!" Derek interjected standing and moving over to his girlfriend. "I though you were going to be out all night." His arms slipped around her waist and pulled her close. Alana looked at him and smiled.
"Eh, got bored, thought I'd see what you were up to," she replied.
"I was just reading." Derek shrugged in reply. Jordan glanced between the couple and attempted to not roll his eyes. Out of the corner of her eye, Alana saw Jordan's reaction and discreetly flipped him off.
"Well, I know something we could do so that we're not bored." She smiled. Derek, completely oblivious to what Alana had done, grinned.
"Oh really? Tell me more," he cheekily replied.
"Not here." She giggled. "I'm not really one for exhibitionism." Her head tilted towards Jordan, who fought back a loud laugh, remembering how they had been together one night when Oliver had returned home.
"Oh right, good point," Derek chuckled, having had nearly forgotten Jordan was there.
"Later man." He nodded at Jordan, before tugging Alana's hand.
"See ya," Jordan dismissively replied. Turning slightly, Alana fixed him with a look before the couple disappeared and the doors hissed shut. Once they were gone, Jordan heaved a sigh of relief and resumed his reading.
Elsewhere, in the academy's garage, Adrian Johnson was stationed by the open hood of a car, working on the engine when he heard footsteps descending the cement staircase that led from the main level of the academy.
"Hello?" He heard a familiar voice speak as the footsteps reached the garage. Adrian peeked out from around the hood of the car to see Willa Torres idly looking around the garage for signs of life. He smiled at the sight of her, which widened to a small grin when he saw her holding a certain contraption in her hands. It was a motorized painter's pallet that she had received for her last birthday. He knew quite a lot about this gift, seeing as he had been the one to give it to her. Well, using the term "give" loosely, as he had anonymously left it at the door to the room she shared with her sister, Elle, while they were out and watched from a safe distance to make sure someone else didn't make off with it before Willa got home. He had made it out of a small paddle boat motor he found in the city wreckage yard, and connected a round tray over it. Willa could put how ever many paints she wanted in the compartments of the tray, and make the tray rotate to whichever color she needed at the moment with a button on the side.
"Well hello there, Wiley Willie, what brings you down here?" He said as he stepped out from behind the car and made his presence known. Willa blinked and looked over at him, rolling her eyes once she realized it was Adrian, the bane of her existence.
"Please don't tell me you're the only one down here," she groaned.
"Alright." He grinned. "I'm not the only one here... There are cars, parts, tools." Willa sighed and shifted the motorized pallet in her hands to hold it in one arm while her free hand rubbed her forehead.
"You're so hilarious," she dryly replied. She sighed and looked at him. "Is there any other human being down here with knowledge of mechanics….that isn't you?" She asked.
"Just me." Adrian replied as he sauntered towards her. "Whatcha need Wiley?"
"For you to quit calling me that, for one thing," Willa replied. Adrian snickered and shook his head.
"Sorry, ain't going to happen, my little Wiley Willie," he grinned. "I have too much fun annoying the hell out of you with that little nickname of mine."
"Clearly." She grumbled with a sigh. Her shoulders slumped and shook her head. "Forget it, I'll come by another time," she stated, not exactly leaping for joy at asking Adrian for a favor. "See ya around," she dismissively added as she went to go back up the stairs. Adrian's face fell and he quickly moved forward to grasp her elbow and stop her. Willa snapped her head around to look at him over her shoulder.
"Uh, hold up," Adrian said, his previous grin gracing his features, "I mean, you made the trip down here. No sense of wasting your time to come back here another time," he reasoned as he released her arm. She thought about it for a moment before nodding.
"Alright," Willa agreed. "I guess it would be a waste for me to come back down." She shifted the contraption in her grasp and held it out to him. "It stopped working," she plainly stated. Adrian tried to hide his disappointment or concern over his invention being broken and took it from her.
"I see," he commented as he took it to his work bench, Willa following close behind. "And, what exactly is 'it'?" He asked, feigning ignorance.
"A motorized pallet," Willa replied once they reached the work station. "Someone gave it to me for my birthday," she supplied. Adrian simply nodded along and set it on his table. He noticed there were chips of dried paint on the tray, indicating she had been using it somewhat often. Adrian felt a surge of pride at that.
"Oh really?" Adrian asked.
"Yeah." Willa nodded as she looked around. "Kinda wish I knew who it was, since it's a pretty cool gift." She shrugged. "I use it a lot, especially when I'm painting and it's probably one of my favorite art items." Adrian did his best to hide his smile and simply continued to nod as he opened the contraption up to see what the problem could be. Willa hopped onto the stool by his bench, figuring she might be there for a while.
"So, Wiley's got herself a secret admirer, eh?" Adrian asked, his eyes focused on the inner workings of his invention.
"Shut up," Willa replied, knowing Adrian was just getting ready to tease her. Adrian chuckled. The two were quiet as Adrian turned his work lamp on and began tinkering with the contraption.
"So, any ideas who this mystery gifter might be?" Adrian casually asked. Willa bit her lip and shook her head.
"No….but…there is someone I kind of hope it might be," she admitted shyly. Adrian blinked and cast a look in her direction.
"There is?" He asked.
"Yeah." She admitted after a moment as a blush crept across her cheeks. She smiled as the person in question entered her mind.
"Well, don't keep me in suspense, who is it?" Adrian asked, bracing himself for her response. He wondered if this was just her coy way of admitting she knew Adrian had been the one to leave the gift at her door, but he couldn't figure out how she could know. And the alternative to that would mean there was someone, who wasn't Adrian, who Willa wanted.
"I'm pretty sure it's Jordan Mitchellson." Willa murmured softly. Adrian's heart stopped hearing the name of Willa's crush, the shock causing him to lose focus and cut his thumb with the tool he had in his hand.
"Damnit!" He growled as he dropped the tool and stepped back, holding his thumb in pain.
"Are you okay?" Willa questioned, reaching to take his hand and inspect the damage.
"It's fine," Adrian grumbled, though he let Willa take hold of his hand. His heart sped up as he felt her hands envelope his own.
"You're bleeding," Willa remarked, seeing a small gash at the base of his thumb, near the webbing between the thumb and forefinger. Letting his hand go, Willa moved over to the sink and took a piece of paper towel and wet it. "Here," She commented as she walked back to him. "Hold that on your cut while I try and find a first aid kit."
"It's in the bathroom," Adrian stated, tilting his head in the direction of the tiny half bathroom in the far corner of the room.
"Thanks." Willa smiled before heading in the direction he had indicated. Adrian silently watched her walk across the room before disappearing past the doorway of the bathroom. He heard her search through the cabinets therein before she finally found what she was looking for and reappeared in his line of vision. "Sit," she lightly commanded. Wordlessly, Adrian perched himself on the stool she had abandoned as she came closer. She came to a stop right in front of her, her knees lightly brushing against his for a moment when she came to a stop and set the kit on the work table. Opening the kit, she dug around momentarily for the antiseptic cotton-balls to clean out the cut. After finding them, she pulled one out while her free hand took hold of Adrian's injured hand. "You can take the paper towel off," she pointed out.
"Oh, right," Adrian murmured as he took the paper off of his thumb and let Willa get to work. "Alright, this is going to sting." She murmured as she poured some of the antiseptic on the cotton ball and gently pressed it against the cut. Adrian winced and forced down a small groan as soon as the cotton ball made contact with his open wound. "Sorry," Willa murmured sympathetically.
"S'ok." He replied. He watched, transfixed, as Willa diligently worked on cleaning his wound, her head lowered and her attention focused on his injured hand. Within a few moments, she pulled the cotton ball away from Adrian's hand.
"It's not that deep." She stated as she tossed the ball into the garbage. "I think you'll be okay with just a band-aid," she theorized.
"Great," Adrian nodded. Slowly, Willa applied a bit of cream to the wound before opening the band-aid and carefully stretching it across the cut. "There we go." She murmured. She carefully wrapped the flaps around his thumb and smoothed her finger along the ends to make sure it as securely stuck onto his skin.
"Thanks," Adrian breathed out, his voice catching slightly at the way her finger ran along his thumb.
"Anytime." Willa nodded. She took a step back and went about replacing the items she had taken out of the kit. Adrian blinked a few times to clear the fog out of his brain before clearing his throat.
"So…uh….you think Jordan was the one to give you that gift, huh?" He asked, doing his best to act nonchalant.
"Well, I honestly don't think it'd be anyone else." She replied with a shrug.
"But…I mean…uh, what if it's not Jordan?" He carefully asked as Willa closed the first aid kit and picked it up to return it to the bathroom. She paused and stared at him, her lips pressed together in a hard line.
"What's that supposed to mean?" She asked. "What…..you think there's no way someone like Jordan could possibly be my secret admirer?" Adrian detected the slight edge in her tone and his eyebrows rose.
"N..No, that's not-" He began. Willa scoffed and rolled her eyes.
"You know, I get that I'm not exactly every guy's top pick….I mean, it's not like I'm my sister or something," she bitterly commented, momentarily begrudging Elle's looks, "but, maybe, just maybe, Jordan's not some superficial a-hole, like you clearly seem to be," she coldly added before spinning on her heel and taking the kit back to the bathroom in a huff.
"What..." He muttered as she stalked off. He sighed and shook his head. "That's not what I meant!" He yelled after her as she re-entered the bathroom.
"Yeah, whatever," Willa icily replied as she came back out.
"Anyway." She stopped near the stairs. "Don't bother fixing it; I'm sure I'll find someone else to do it for me, who won't insult me while doing it."
"Willa," Adrian sighed, "come on, you know that's not what I meant," he insisted, walking across the room and joining her by the stairs. "I'm sorry if that's what you thought, but….I swear, that wasn't what I was implying at all," he softly stated.
"Whatever Adrian." She brushed his apology off. Adrian sighed in defeat and looked away.
"I'll fix your pallet," he said, moving back to the work station. "If you decide to wait here while I work on it, I promise not to say anything at all, if you want," he shrugged as he reached the table and picked up the tool he had been using before he injured himself. Willa paused momentarily as she watched him move back to the work station. Sighing, she moved back towards where she had been standing previously.
"Alright." She agreed after a moment. Adrian nodded and focused on fixing his invention, glad he managed to convince Willa to stay. Although Willa knew that Adrian was quick with anything mechanical, she was surprised when he had fixed it in less than thirty minutes.
"All done." He commented quietly, handing her the small device.
"That was fast," Willa remarked. Adrian shrugged as he moved back to the car he had been working on before.
"I'm the Motor Whisperer…or whatever it is I'm called," he replied, "I know my way about mechanical things. It's no big deal," he humbly replied.
"Well, thank you just the same." She replied sincerely. "I don't know what I'd do without this."
"You're welcome," Adrian replied, deciding against making a comment about her dependence on the gift he had made with her in mind, figuring this was not the time to drop a hint he was her secret admirer, not Jordan. Willa cast a glance down at her watch.
"It's late." She commented. "I should head back before lights out."
"Alright, see ya I guess," he replied.
"Have a good night Adrian." Willa murmured softly, pressing a tiny kiss to his cheek in thanks. Adrian's head swam at the feel of her lips on his cheek. He fought the urge to wrap his arms around her and kiss her full on the lips and simply nervously cleared his throat.
"You too, Wiley Willie," he murmured. Fixing him with a glare, Willa made her exit from the room as quietly as she had entered. Adrian wistfully watched her leave, wishing he had the guts to tell her how he really felt about her.