Spirit of a Ranger
Summary: Shinji winds up in our (read: the Power Rangers) world, and has to come to accept a universe that actually isn't out to make him suffer needlessly, and he learns to unleash the potential that had always lain dormant within himself.
Rating: T for now, may raise to M later.
Pairing: Shinji/Kat, other stuff in the background.
"I'm talking to someone."
"If underlined, I'm talking to someone or myself in Japanese."
'And now I am thinking to myself in my native language, be it English, Japanese, or Klingon.'
"And bold, within the story, is reserved for Zordon and/or the Angels, 'cause they're boss."
Once outside, Billy and Kat activated their communicators and contacted the other Rangers.
"Guys, about that new friend of mine? We need to meet up at the Command Center and have a little talk about him."
Tommy asked, "Why, do you think he might be some kind of threat?"
Billy shook his head and replied, "Inversely, we suspect that he's a victim. And while I'm not pleased telling a secret that was confided in me, the rest of you – and Zordon and Alpha Five – need to know."
With that, the duo activated the Transporter and headed to the Command Center.
Billy and Kat were enveloped in (respectively) blue and pink electrical fields, which rapidly ascended to the air as it was drawn to the Command Center, where the energy fields dissipated – as did four others: red, yellow, white, and black.
Tommy asked, "So what's up?"
Billy said, "It's about Shinji, the adolescent I was talking about earlier. He's from the future of an alternate universe in which Rita and Zedd never appeared, and there were never any Power Rangers. But, in his world, there was a nearly apocalyptic event in the year 2000, or perhaps 2001. However, in his time – 2015, to be precise – he claims that his Earth is plagued by attacks from gigantic monsters called 'Angels'. Standing against them and in defense of mankind is an organization called NERV, which has created equally enormous robots called 'Evangelions'. These Evangelions can apparently only be piloted by children – Shinji remarked that including himself, there are only three Evangelion pilots, all of them fourteen years old."
Kat said, "Well, I didn't get all the info about the world he comes from, but I get the impression that Shinji's also an abuse victim. I may not be a professional, but I know enough psychology to understand that he's got some serious confidence issues."
Ignoring the bit about the alternate universe for the moment, Adam asked, "Really? Like what?"
Kat replied, "He says that he's not good for anything at all other than being a half-decent cook, and when he made dinner, I almost… well… let's just say it was the best thing I've ever had, because going any detail further than that would be too much information."
Eyes widening, Aisha asked, "That good?"
Grinning, Kat answered, "Imagine the single most delicious meal you've ever had in your entire life. Shinji can make it over ten times better."
Rocky, the Red Ranger, asked, "That's all well and good, but… Billy, are you sure this friend of yours didn't hit his head on something? Because that story sounds like something out of a giant robot anime gone horribly wrong."
Raising an eyebrow, Adam asked, "Watch a lot of giant robot shows, do you?"
Getting just a bit defensive, he replied, "Not a lot! Just Transformers, G Gundam and GaoGaiGar… and GunBuster. All of which are much more idealistic than the mental image you've painted for us, Billy."
At this point, Zordon entered the conversation. "Rangers, while I do not know the details of the young man's personal life, I can tell you that the world of which Billy speaks is very, very real. There is no one 'true universe', instead there is an infinite number of parallel worlds. However, groups of similar universes are usually clustered together in 'multiverses'. For example, all worlds with a team of Power Rangers are part of a single multiverse, which in turn has its own larger parallel multiverse, where the Power Rangers have counterparts known as the Super Sentai. Not far from these two are another multiverse, in which there is often only one champion of justice per world, the Kamen Rider."
"Furthermore, multiverses which are similar enough tend to group into larger clusters, called 'megaverses'. Ours, for instance, includes the multiverses of the Kamen Riders, the Super Sentai, and the Power Rangers, alongside numerous others, such as the Ultramen. For any given megaverse, all worlds within it will have some basic trait or characteristic in common with each other. And beyond the megaverses, there is finally the Omniverse, which includes every possible reality that ever has been and ever will be."
"The boy, Shinji Ikari, is from a megaverse not too distant from our own – instead of transforming warriors as in our megaverse, the champions of good and evil in that megaverse are either entities of truly gargantuan size and an utterly alien perception, or are humanoids who pilot equally massive mechanized constructs to defend against them. While the universe Shinji hails from is near the edge of my perception, I have observed enough of it to see that it is truly, to use Rocky's phrase, a world gone wrong. Other-dimensional creatures, known to that version of mankind as Angels, wreak chaos on Earth, and yet the humanity of that world has, due to a catastrophe in the year 2000 of that world, been utterly broken. Hope, love, trust, and friendship, which are common enough that many in our megaverse take them for granted… have largely been lost to the remnants of that world."
Shuddering at the thought of a world as horrifying as what Zordon had described, Tommy eventually asked, "So we know that he's really from another world, but the question is, how did he get here, and why? Given that his world doesn't seem to be much more than twenty years ahead of ours, and we haven't even sent humans past the moon, how did this Shinji kid travel to an entirely different megaverse?"
"After observing the battles in the Angel War from afar, I believe it would be more accurate to say that he was thrown here. A few weeks ago, the twelfth Angel to appear in that world arrived, and I was able to observe the battle…"
Everyone noticed the hesitation, and Adam asked, "What happened?"
"The Angel in question appeared to be a living shadow of some sort… the boy's machine was consumed whole, with the pilot trapped inside. Fifteen hours later, there was a massive energy disturbance throughout the Omniverse, and then a young man of Japanese descent was found lost in Angel Grove park."
Barring Tommy and Adam, the Rangers collectively looked nauseous at the mental image of being eaten alive and whole by anything at all, shadow monster or not.
After a moment, Adam collected himself and asked, "No offense or anything, but why do we need to know this in the first place?"
Zordon replied, "The disturbance in question has caused distortions in space-time throughout the Omniverse, far even beyond even my ability to perceive. While similar incidents have happened in the past, and the associated distortions have died down, it is possible that additional entities from alternate dimensions may find their way into ours. And they may not be as benevolent as the young man Billy and Kat met today."
Tommy summarized, "So you're saying that we need to be more vigilant for a while, just in case another monster of some kind winds up here through one of the space-time-warp things?"
Suddenly, Kat asked, "By the way, where's Alpha Five?"
"Upgrading the computer circuitry to detect dimensional breaches."
As Zordon had nothing left that needed to be said, and the Rangers had no further questions for the moment, the six teenagers teleported home.
Back outside Billy's house, Kat said, "Hey, is they any way that you could modify a communicator to be a two-way translator for Shinji, at least until he learns English on his own?"
Raising an eyebrow, the Blue Ranger replied, "Actually, I'd been thinking about that while we were eating dinner. I'll see what I can do about it tonight, but from what I've seen of the kid's personality so far, he'll probably be caught between gratitude and confusion."
Frowning, Kat murmured, "Yeah, I know. When I offered to play checkers with him, he actually looked a little freaked, as if he was thinking, 'Are you really offering to spend time with me? But why? I don't deserve your attention! I'm not good enough for your kindness!' Gah, it's heartbreaking to watch, and just trying to think about how he must've been raised to feel and think like that… I swear, it turns my vision red."
With a good-natured clap on the back, Billy said, "I hear you. Still, I imagine you'll get to spend some time with him tomorrow. … You look like a kitten with a new ball of yarn to play with. Anything you're interested in sharing, Kat…?"
Flinching out of her daydream, Kat responded, "Gah! Ah…. Am I really… that bloody obvious?"
Teasing his friend a bit, Billy sagely pondered for a moment before answering. "To someone who knows you… about as obvious as the sun on a clear day."
Head hanging in shame, Kat grumbled, "Grr.. stupid complex!"'
Patting his friend on the back again, Billy said, "From what I was able to gather, Shinji's about fourteen or fifteen years old, so it's only a couple of years – not enough of a difference to really make a fuss about."
"Thanks Billy, I needed that. Well, I need to head on home. See you and the others tomorrow!"
With that, Katherine Hillard waved, before jogging off towards her home, about twenty minutes away.
The next morning, Shinji Ikari awoke. He could not remember his dreams, as was usual, but for the first time in years, he knew that they had been pleasant.
Opening his eyes, he muttered, "Yet another unfamiliar ceiling. But... this one doesn't intimidate me. I think… I could get used to it."
Getting up, Shinji changed back into his clothes from yesterday and prepared to go downstairs and fix his host breakfast. 'It's all I'm good for. I can't let myself become useless this time. I have to find a purpose and keep it. Billy… and Kat… As much as I'd like to think that they're my friends, that they like me for being me… I just can't take the chance. They make me feel better, so I have to try all the harder to ensure that they have a use for me. I want to be wrong about them, but… everyone who ever claimed to like me was just using me for a tool, and threw me away when they no longer had a reason to keep me around. These people make me happier than I've ever been… if even they threw me aside, I… don't think I'd be able to take it.'
Raising out of bed, Shinji yawned and headed for the kitchen, intent on the making breakfast for himself and his host.
Seeing what looked a bit like a wristwatch on the counter, Shinji briefly pondered it for a moment, having observed that Billy and Kat had both been wearing similar ones the day before. Absently, he wondered who it might belong to, before immediately deciding that it wasn't his business anyway.
However, it was just as he opened the cabinet that Shinji remembered one very important thing.
He couldn't read English. Fortunately, though, this handicap was easily enough circumvented for the time being. No matter what nation/universe/whatever you were in, after all, milk was milk and cereal was cereal.
And so, Shinji made a cursory search for some bowls, using his memory of working about the kitchen the night before. 'Unless I'm utterly and completely mistaken, should be this cupboard up here. … And I was not wrong after all. That's a rare thing.'
About the time Shinji had begun pouring into the first bowl, he heard footsteps coming down the stairs. As Billy entered the kitchen, Shinji offered the first bowl and began to apologize, but was actually beaten to it.
"Oh, you're up already Shinji? Sorry I didn't have breakfast ready, then. It's the duty of a host to provide for the guest, right?"
Confused, but already beginning to adapt, Shinji nodded and poured the second bowl and then began to eat.
After a moment, Billy picked up the watch from before and showed it to Shinji, saying, "Ah, that's right. This is for you, Shinji."
"Go ahead, put it on. It's actually a translator. This converts spoken audio of one language and converts it into a different language. Right now, it's set to convert English into Japanese. Took half an hour of tinkering, but I actually had the insight needed to finish it last night. Before, it could only convert incoming audio, but this complete model is two-way. Have you even noticed that I switched to speaking English?"
In the middle of Billy's talking, Shinji had indeed put on the wrist-worn device, but had been able to perfectly understand his friend the entire time.
Confused, Shinji asked, "Wait a second, why are you giving me this?"
Smiling, Billy replied, "Because you have the most need for it. Now then, I'd like to introduce you to some friends of mine, if you're feeling up to it."
To Shinji, a person accepting him was one thing. But that person thinking highly enough of him not only to consider Shinji a friend, but to want to introduce him to his other friends as well? Shinji's mind reeled.
Wha -? But… Just because you and Kat were nice doesn't mean that the others will be. To me, at least. Heck, I've already had more good luck in the past twelve hours than I've had in the past twelve years. It's bound to run out sooner or later, right? Still, it's not like I can refuse him. Let me stay in his house, then gave me this translator so I can easily communicate with people…
At this, Shinji laughed bitterly in his mind. Nobody had ever understood him even without a language barrier. While he'd told Billy a fair bit about his world, he hadn't shared a thing about his own personal life.
Not that anyone could ever possibly be interested.
Little did he know that his life was about to get turned upside-down.
A meeting of heroes from across time and space! A mysterious creature appears!
A glorious battle! And the bond between souls become stronger than ever!
Please, expect a lot from the next chapter of SPIRIT OF A RANGER! Chapter Four: A Fearful Resolution!*
* Chapter title subject to change.