A\N: Unfortunately we have to switch POVs now. The reason why will be clear soon...Also, the line 'Good, evil...s'all the same' is a shoutout to Baby Kitty's fics. She is awesome. Go read her work.
Ethan says the human brain works like a computer. I don't think that way. Computers are too cold and analytical. I don't analyze. No matter how much trouble that gets me into, I never will.
Inside of me, I feel a switch. Most of the time it's off. I goof, I have fun...but the rest of the time it's been honing itself. Soccer fields instead of battlefields, I guess. Once I became a Ranger, it made sense.
As soon as I saw Dr. O go down, Leader Mode went on.
The world is really black-and-white in Leader Mode. It's a pretty simple equation: We use the Power and fight, or we die. It's a lot harsher than others teams have had to be. It makes it easier to kill. I mean, those monsters, they're living beings. Same with the Tyrannodrones. All of us, we're playing God on the battlefield. If I switched my Leader Mode off...
I don't think I could do that. Not really.
My fist leaves the skull of the first Daemon. A teenager, I notice coldly. They're all really teenagers, like us. Part of me is silently vowing revenge for it, to kill Kim or Kiera or whatever her name is, but the rest of me just shrugs. Like me and mine aren't pawns? Good, evil...
S'all the same in the end.
Jason's sitting against the wall whimpering and crying over Dr. O's body. God, man. Shut up and fight. I duck a fireball and the little compassion my Leader Mode has kicks in-all right, all right, he's too much of a wuss to fight, probably better he stays out of the fight anyway.
"Conner!" Kira's voice comes over the helmet comms. "We can't keep this up! Eth's got a broken arm and Trent's about to lose it!"
Right, retreat time. "Retreat. Take White first. Blue, I've got your back, bro." I duck into position. The fighting is mechanical, but it snaps away the happy goldenness to my previous thoughts. It's more real, more cold.
Kiera\Kim\Pink Bitch jumps at me. "GIVE ME THE GEMS!" Whoa-kay, that is my wrist, you may not have it, I am using that. "Blue! Grab-"
"Where are they?" Ethan yelps. I glance over. Jason and Dr. O are gone.
"Move it! Now!" Time to go.
"But Dr. O!" Ethan protests.
"The Green Frickin' Ranger?" I punch Pink Bitch in the face. She crumples. "Shit."
Ethan sees the warriors go silent too. "...Time to go."
I pull over at the lookout point.
The sun's rising, and everyone's either asleep or halfway there. I'm the only one who's awake. I feel my lips twist at the irony. I'm the only one who's been awake. Ever since Trent showed up, Dr. O's been...
I don't think the others have noticed. But he's slipping up. More and more late nights. More and more secrets. And sometimes he'll say 'I' or 'me' when he's talking about Trent. I've tried to pick up the slack, but he's in charge and I can't compensate for bad orders.
I run a hand over my face and sigh. His Jeep was gone when I left. I hate to say it, but if he were gone and okay somewhere...
The color white flares across my mind, then settles. I frown. What the unholy-
Uh. S'just me, Fearless.
"Dude, it's too early for this." I groan.
Trent grins sheepishly. "Sorry." He verbalizes. "Uh. I was trying to say, if you head down to somewhere I can get us food. I've got some cash, Dad said I needed to carry some just in case."
Rich boy. "Nope."
Trent's face drops. He sighs, taking a second to form the sentence, then asks, "What you said about the soccer ball..."
"Bullshit. Dr. O's been off lately. Didn't want to worry him." It's like trying to put your senile grandpa in charge of the family finances some days.
Trent looks at the ground. I swear the boy is a kicked puppy.
"Look, dude, I don't hate you. And I'm not mad at you." I turn, trying to be honest, praying this gets through. I mean, the guy's life is hell. I don't want to make it worse. "Hey. Look at me. My only problem right now is that for some reason you act like a schizophrenic without his meds, kay? I don't hate you."
Trent looks suspicious, but less wounded. Thank you God. "Yeah. I'm sorry, I'm-"
"Don't even try." I order. "Seriously, dumbass. You're nuts. That's not your fault." ...In hindsight, that may not have been expressed gracefully.
Trent snorts. "You suck at pep talks."
"So we're even." I tease.
"So can he get us damn burgers already?" Kira snarks. "And gimme my boyfriend, he's comfy." She reaches out and grasps Trent's arm, yanking him down on the seat next to her.
Damnit, Kira, now I have to be the leader. "No." I say, steeling myself. "Trent can't go around people until we're sure he's okay."
Trent sighs, adjusting his arm so Kira can glomp him without squishing it. "Shit."
"Sorry, dude." I really am. "But luckily, I think I know just where to go."
"Really?" Trent perks up.
I give a very evil grin. "Well, Haley told me something interesting while the whole standoff was going on. Apparently Elsa built your morpher."
"Does she have Red Bulls?"
"No, she has a street address." I love Haley so much. I start messing with my GPS unit. "Who's up for a little trip to..." What.
"Where?" Kira asks after a few minutes.
"Uh. Hang on." That cannot be right.
"Whassit?" Ethan asked.
"...The principle's house."