A/N: OK folks, I know it's been a while since I wrote anything, I've been distracted by a massive spring-clean at home. Still, it's inspired a little story that may or may not extend into the next ep. Hope you all like it.
Legal: I do not own Power Rangers or the associated names, places, events etc. Everything else should be presumed to be purely the creation of the author.
The Rangers were amazingly upbeat as they made their way into the training yard in the morning. Since Kevin and Antonio had found a way to accept each other, even if they were not, as yet, in any danger of becoming best friends or anything, it definitely made things much easier and a lot more pleasant around the Shiba House. Antonio was regaling them with yet another tale from his travels around the country.
As they arrived at the mats, they found Mentor Ji standing there waiting, a large smile on his face.
"You all seem full of energy this morning." He commented. "I trust you are all well."
"Better than that, we're all super pumped!" Mike rushed out, throwing out a short burst of attacks, ending with a jumping spin kick in an impressive display to demonstrate the point. "We were all up early, and felt so pumped, we all joined Kevin on his morning run."
"I'm glad to hear you are all feeling so energetic, because I have some very special training for you all today." He replied. Antonio went to the racks, reaching for his wooden tanto, only for Mentor Ji to place his cane upon it. "You will not be needing those today."
"Unarmed combat!" Mike replied with a huge grin, becoming a little excited. "This day just gets better and better!"
"No, you will be armed. Indeed today, I would have you train with new weapons."
There was a slight shuffling among the Rangers, and they smiled at each other, becoming excited. They were going to be training with new weapons? None of them had taken up a new weapon in years. They had all trained with katana since before they had reached the age of ten, and with their individual weapons since they were sixteen. Perhaps Mentor Ji had found some new armaments to help them in their battle with the Nighlock. Mentor Ji waved them over to a small shed in the corner. "Emily, step forward."
The Yellow Ranger came forward, beaming at him brightly, holding out her hand expectantly. Her smile faded as Mentor Ji placed a mop in her hand. As she looked at it in disgust, he placed a bucket in the other hand.
As the Rangers looked confused, he brought out more tools, handing a broom and a duster to Mike and a toolbox to Kevin.
"I don't understand." Kevin commented.
"A fact that is clear given the shameful state of the dojo." He replied. The Rangers just looked at him curiously. "I know it is now summer, and we have spent most of our days out in the training yard. However, that has meant you have allowed the dojo to fall into a state unbefitting of a training ground. Indeed, I would go so far as to say it is unfit even of housing cattle."
They had to admit that it had been a while since they had been in the dojo, but surely it couldn't have been that bad.
He led them over to the dojo, where he threw the doors open. The Rangers all stood open-mouthed as they saw the horrors within. Dirty and broken training equipment was abandoned all around the place. Other items that had no earthly business being in there such as books and magazines were dumped all over the place, and a pile of linen the height of a small child was just thrown in the corner. Every surface was thick with dust, and the floors, what little of them could be seen, were covered in dirty footprints.
"It sickens me to see this place of honour reduced to a common attic." He told them harshly. "I expect it back to his original state by the end of the day. Barring a Gap Sensor alarm, none of you are permitted to leave or rest until the task is complete."
"Uh...Mentor?" Antonio said, raising his hand. "Can I just point out that I wasn't here when this mess was made?"
"Oh really?" Mentor Ji asked, before turning him to see his fish cart. Antonio realised that seeing it, he had mistaken this place for a storage shed and put his fish cart there for safe keeping. "Besides, part of being a Samurai is being a team. You share in each others' glories, and also in your shames. Your team made this mess, you can all clean it up."
"I guess I see your point." Antonio sighed, realising the old Mentor's mind had been made up, and was not to be swayed.
"Firstly, I want everything out of there to create a clear working space." He barked with authority. "Mike, Emily, you are to clean the building from top to bottom. Every surface is to be dusted, swept and mopped. Once everything is clean, I expect the walls to be re-painted and the floors re-varnished, two coats."
He went to Mia and Kevin next.
"Once this...garbage is out in the training yard, I expect you to sort it into piles; training equipment that is fit for purpose to be returned to the dojo, items that are broken and to be repaired, items too broken to be repaired, items for the laundry and items that have no business being in the dojo. From there, I expect everything to be cleaned and repaired, ready to return to the dojo. Anything that does not belong, I expect you to put in the rooms of their respective owners for them to deal with.
He went to Jayden and Antonio next.
"I want you two to do the laundry." He told them. "Training uniforms and towels simply discarded here to fester, I expect all to be cleaned, pressed, and returned to the rooms of their rightful owners. I expect you all to be finished by the end of the day."
"The end of the day?" They chorused incredulously.
"But...this looks like a weeks' work!" Mike shrieked.
"Did I mention that once you are finished with the dojo, I will inspect it?" He asked. "If it is not completed to my satisfaction, you will begin again. Once you are finished, I will expect you to deal with your own possessions. I will not have my house fall into the same sickening state as this...pigsty!"
"You're right Ji." Jayden sighed. "I guess we have kind of taken this place and the good weather for granted."
"This is a place of honour." He reminded them. "It should be treated as such."
"But...it'll take ages..."
"Then I suggest you stop whining and get on with it." Mentor Ji interrupted Mike. "The sooner you begin, the sooner you may rest."
With that, he turned around and left the dojo, leaving the Rangers to the seemingly endless and impossible task. Kevin sighed as he looked around at all the junk.
"Has it really been this long since we used this place?" He asked.
"We've been training outside for the last few weeks." Mia reminded him. "I guess in that time, we just neglected this place."
"Mentor Ji's right, we're not always going to be training outside." Jayden reminded them. "Besides, we really should treat it with more respect. Our training is what keeps us sharp and keeps us safe in battle. Without this stuff, we wouldn't be able to train."
"I can't believe we let it get this bad." Emily said, a note of shame in her voice. "I mean, I know some of this mess at least is mine. I can't claim to be innocent."
"None of us can." Jayden replied, making his way to a box of stuff and picking it up. "Come on guys, let's get this stuff out in the yard. Maybe then we can see how big this job really is."
Mentor Ji meanwhile went into his private study, where he had been studying and translating the fragment of the scroll that Kevin had taken from Octoroo. He turned his cell phone and dialled.
"I was beginning to think you didn't love me." The voice on the other end stated. "I've been here for an hour."
"You read the file I transferred you?" He asked the agent.
"Yeah, I did." The agent replied. "I got here on the first train."
"I am sorry, but there was no one else I could trust with this mission." He replied. "Go to the lost and found desk. Ask for a brown and gold Dolce and Gabbana bag. Tell them it contains a wallet containing three credit cards, an American Express, a Visa, and a Diner's Club in the name of Julia Sherman. In it, you will find the next step."
The agent hung up, before going to the lost and found desk. After a quick conversation with the guy there, she acquired the bag. She had a feeling that one of Mentor Ji's agents had left it there so that she could collect the instructions for the next step of the mission. Opening the bag and checking the contents, the agent found that as well as the wallet, the bag also contained a key that she recognised as a locker key. It was for one of the lockers in the train station.
"Locker 103." The agent sighed, heading to the lockers and searching for the appropriate one, before dialling Mentor Ji back.
"OK, I'm here." The agent assured him.
"Open the locker." Mentor Ji told the agent. "Inside, you will find the equipment you will need."
The agent reached inside, pulling out an envelope, and read the instructions inside. Memorising the details, the agent pulled out a lighter and burned the documents. Mentor Ji didn't need to explain it was important that there was no way anyone could follow. The next item was somewhat curious, it was a kind of leather forearm guard, slim enough that it would fit under the sleeve without being noticed.
"What's this?" The agent asked.
"You didn't expect me to leave you...how would Mike put it...sucking wind did you?" He asked her. "I believe walking around with a katana would be a little conspicuous, but at least this way you are not completely unarmed."
The agent pulled up a sleeve and strapped on the guard, before sliding down the sleeve.
"Flex your wrist." He instructed the agent. Doing as instructed, the agent quickly hid the eighteen inch blade that sprung out, before figuring out how to retract it.
"A little warning would have been good." The agent said sarcastically. "What the heck is this?"
"It's a carbon-fibre and Kevlar blended composite blade. As strong as steel, but it won't set off metal detectors." He instructed the agent. "You know the first location. Good luck Serena."
"Yeah, because saying that really makes me feel so confident." Serena replied sarcastically as she hung up and went on her way.
Back at the Shiba House, Emily, Antonio, Mike and Jayden were just bringing the last of the junk out of the dojo into the training yard, where Mia and Kevin were sorting it into piles, organising it into what needed to be done with it all. Jayden finished by putting a mannequin down by a pile of training equipment.
"Well, that's the last of it." Jayden stated as he looked around at it all. "At least now we have a better idea what we're up against."
"How did all this junk get in there?" Mike asked. Mia just looked to him disbelievingly, holding up a Prima strategy guide for Assassin's Creed Brotherhood. "Hey, I've been looking for that for ages!"
"A towel here, a magazine there, I guess it all adds up." She commented as she picked up a broken shinai, throwing it onto a pile of broken equipment.
"It took us almost two hours to get all this stuff out here." Emily moaned.
"Well, standing around complaining about it isn't going to help." Jayden sighed, picking up some of the pile of laundry. "Come on Antonio, the laundry awaits."
"Dios Mio, this stuff stinks." Antonio said with a little smirk as he picked some up. "A little longer and the mould would make all of this stuff look like it belongs to Mike."
"You can't really talk about anyone stinking fish boy." Jaden chuckled, throwing a towel over his head playfully. "Come on, the sooner we start, the sooner we finish."
With that, he left. Mike handed Mike a mop and bucket, as he picked up a couple of dusters and a broom.
"Come on Emily, the sooner we finish this, the sooner we can start painting." He declared.
"Yippee!" She replied sarcastically, waving her mop in the air as they headed into the dojo. Kevin went to the pile of broken equipment and started to inspect it to see what was broken beyond repair and had to be thrown out, and what could be repaired.
"You know, thinking about it, this is kind of nice." Kevin commented. Mia just gave him a little smile as she started sorting anything that wasn't training equipment into piles, ready to be returned to the rooms of the rightful owners. It turned out that there was a surprising number of books and magazines in there, obviously some people used the dojo as a quiet space for reading and never got round to taking their stuff with them when they left. Antonio's cart was a pile all by itself since he hadn't really been at the Shiba House long enough to get into the bad habit of using it as storage, but the others, it was quickly becoming clear that they had all been abusing the training space at times.
"Only you could possibly think this was nice." She replied with a little smile. "Games magazines…God, how long did Mike spend in here?"
"We all kind of abused it." Kevin conceded as he picked up a shinai and inspected it, deciding that it was broken beyond repair, and that using it would only be a danger. He discarded it. "At least we get to work outside."
"I guess that's true." She replied. "The thought of all that laundry really doesn't do it for me."
"No, but I guess I know what does." Kevin replied as he snatched a magazine out her hands.
"Hey!" She shrieked as she started o chase after him.
"Modern Bride magazine?" He teased her. "Should I be getting worried?"
"Kevin, give it back!" She called out as he started to run around, keeping it out of reach.
"I mean, aren't you meant to wait to be asked first?" He asked her. "I guess I'm flattered…"
"Look at the date genius!" She told him. "It's from before we even got together, I like the pictures, now give it back!"
"Make me." He taunted her. Mia grabbed him and pulled him in sharply, wrapping an arm around behind his head and drawing him into a long kiss. Kevin lost himself for a moment and didn't notice her reaching until she snatched the magazine from his hand and return to her work, leaving him hanging. "Hey, that's not fair!"
"Neither is teasing the girlfriend." Mia replied, placing the magazine in her pile before returning to work. "Deal with it."
Kevin just went back to the broken training equipment to continue working, wondering how exactly he was meant to concentrate after that.
In the laundry, Jayden was separating out the pile into training uniforms and towels, hoping initially that he would get the job done in two loads, but quickly realising that was something of a vain hope.
"Alright, I found the soap powder and the fabric softener." Antonio announced as he arrived back, finding Jayden with the two piles. "Wow, this is going to take a while."
"You think?" Jayden asked him sarcastically. "I guess the easiest way would be to iron between loads."
"I guess so." Antonio replied as he saw Jayden load the first batch of uniforms into the machine. He shook his head in disbelief. "You really are clueless aren't you?"
"What?" Jayden asked him.
"Unless you want more than one Pink Ranger, you have to separate out the reds." He chuckled, pulling the pile out of the machine. "Fortunately all your uniforms and towels should only be one load."
"Fortunately Mentor Ji has two washing machines." Jayden muttered as he helped Antonio. Mentor Ji had indeed invested in two large washing machines when he realised he was going to have enough laundry for a full team to deal with. "Even then it'll take all day."
Come on, the easiest way'll be to separate it out into colours." Antonio told him. "Then there's no danger of colour run."
Jayden just looked down to his pink t-shirt, and back to Antonio.
"Uh...I have kind of a bad relationship with laundry." He admitted.
"You're hopeless amigo." He laughed in response, putting an arm around Jayden. "Here, I'll show you what to do."