Disclaimer: Power Rangers = Saban's. Star Trek: the Wrath of Khan = Paramount's. Why am I disclaiming that?
…I can't explain how it happened, it just did.
"James?" It was Kaiden, standing behind James in the battered Rec Room. The Blue Ranger turned around and frowned at his teammate.
Kaiden folded his hands. "Er, you remember that Weeping Angel Rachel and I took care of? It came out of your laptop. And—"
Eyes wide, James darted into his quarters and to the silent laptop. He hit the power button, plugged and unplugged it, even flipped it over and began dissecting it.
"I thought I should warn you," Kaiden finished awkwardly. James looked up, with an expression appropriate for someone who'd just discovered their goldfish doing the back stroke. Feeling distinctly silly, Kaiden clapped James comfortingly on the shoulder.
Silently, the Blue Ranger began putting the laptop back together, and zipped it up in its case.
"You backed it up, right?" Kaiden asked. "Did we lose anything important?"
"Of course I did," James said, setting the laptop on the table. He reached under the bed, and pulled out a duffel bag.
"What are you doing?" Kaiden asked.
"Packing. We're not going to stay up here for much longer," James said, glancing at the Yellow Ranger. "I want time to make sure I'm not forgetting anything."
"Oh. I hadn't thought about that, but yeah, we're done, aren't we?" Kaiden said.
"Yep," James replied, shoving a fistful of shirts into his duffel. Kaiden leaned against the doorpost, and looked around the room.
"What are you going to do now?" He asked.
"Go back to Area 51, probably," James said. "Who knows, maybe they'll assign me to help with Zeuth."
"Zeuth?" Kaiden asked, folding his arms. James turned and stared at him.
"You mean you never bothered to ask Rex what he named the Demi-Zord force he gave the UN?" He asked.
"No, I've been a bit preoccupied," Kaiden replied cheerily. "But thanks." Rolling his eyes, James went back to packing.
"By normal conversation rules, I'm supposed to ask you what you're going to do next, right?" He asked, unzipping an inside pocket and digging through it.
"Yeah, usually. I'm thinking of starting a teen center in Angel Grove. There was one in LA that helped me get back on my feet after I ran away from home, run by a lady named Anne Steele. Think maybe I'll go visit her first," Kaiden said thoughtfully, looking out the window. The Satellite Base was hovering over daylit Africa.
"How about your Ranger sister?" James asked, pulling out some of the clothes and folding it so it would fit.
"I've been trying to write to her about this whole thing, but I keep hitting writer's block. I think I'll just show up there and we can talk," Kaiden said.
"Well, that's one thing you're good at," James said. Kaiden grinned.
"Do you ever make non-sarcastic jokes?" He asked.
"Yes, I also do pranks," James said, zipping up his duffel.
"You mean like crashing peoples' emails?" Kaiden asked suspiciously, glaring out from under his eyebrows at James.
"Sometimes," James replied innocently.
"What was your best?" Kaiden asked, unfolding his arms. James paused. "Come on, you must have done something good that wasn't top-secret," Kaiden coaxed. A grin spread across James's face.
"Last April Fool's Day I—" James cracked up, and took a moment to regain control. "I rigged Google to search 'I'm an Aardvark' for everything."
"You're kidding. All of Google?" Kaiden asked. James nodded, and Kaiden burst out laughing.
After it died back down to chuckling, James's smile faded, and he furrowed his brow. "Nobody else thought it was funny then, though." He sat down on the bed slowly, twisting the duffel bag strap around his hand, and looking at the computer case again.
"Well, government agents aren't known for their sense of humor," Kaiden said.
"No," James said, and smirked a little. "They always had such classic reactions, though." Seizing the opportunity, Kaiden pulled over the computer chair and sat down.
"Spill," he demanded. He followed James's glance to the dead laptop, picked it up and set it behind himself, where James couldn't see it. "Seriously, I'm tired of competing with this thing for your attention. Now, what did you do?"
One Week Later
Rachel's ship drew down to the desert plateau. Looking around, she spotted what might have been a cloaked person or a rock, she was too high up to tell. She brought the ship down gently, and the landing gear activated with a hiss.
Rachel sat in the ship for a minute, closed her eyes and just breathed. Then she opened the hatch and sprang out, squinting in the desert sunlight. There was a rustle of heavy fabric, and Rachel whirled around to see someone standing on a stony shelf. It was a woman, and she dropped to the ground across from Rachel. She removed her hood, revealing loose blonde curls.
The newcomer looked only a little older than Rachel herself, except around the eyes. She'd seen thousands of years go by—and by the way she gripped her staff, spent a good portion of them on martial arts. Rachel turned to face her fully, biting her lip.
"Where did you get that ship, and who are you?" The woman asked. Funny, that sounded kind of like an Australian accent. Rachel took a second to register the questions.
"I-I've always had it—I was found with it. I'm Kaelan," she stammered. The woman took a step closer. Her face was unreadable. Gaining confidence, Rachel pressed onwards. "You're Dulcea—you guard this planet. You know I wouldn't be able to drive that ship if it wasn't mine. My parents—Valera and Eseus—sent me away from here thousands of years ago because of the war, and I only landed on Earth twenty years ago."
Dulcea was now standing eye-to-eye with Rachel, and inside, the Pink Ranger wondered exactly how long it would take the other Phaedosian to flatten her into the rock. Ten seconds?
"I had thought all of our children had been discovered and grown up long ago," Dulcea said softly. "Very few ever returned. Why did you?"
"I want to know more about my heritage. Plus, I need some help with the whole shapeshifting thing," Rachel said, the corners of her mouth twitching upwards. "I can't control it at all yet. Besides, I figured we've both got a lot to talk about." She held up her hand, and the Power Ring glinted on her finger.
"That we may. Come," Dulcea said, turning. Rachel stared around at Phaedos. It was wild, windy and craggy, and she could hear waves crashing nearby. She brushed her hair, already escaping its bun, out of her face. It didn't look very much like Phoenix, Arizona, but it still felt peculiarly home-ish. Was that a word? Whatever, she had more important things to think about now. Rachel began following Dulcea.
Elandra rested River Merrick against her shoulder and patted the baby's back. Thanks to a lot of meddling with her Power Ring, River had been born full-term; though still preemie-sized at three pounds, sixteen inches—well, forty point six centimeters to Rex. Elandra had thought she'd heard some comparison to an old, wrinkly tomato from James's direction, but had ignored it.
It was the middle of the night, and now that River had been fed, everything was still. Well, almost. There was a soft shuffle coming from across the Rec Room, so quiet it would never have been heard during the day.
River burped, and Elandra walked out to investigate the other noise. Aha, Tony's light was on—and his door slid open. He was still dressed, and had his index finger stuck in a book to mark his place. The Satellite Base's engines hummed more strongly, making the floor vibrate.
"Can't sleep?" Elandra hissed. Tony nodded, with a wry smile.
"Peace Corps still haven't responded," he whispered.
"They will. Getting some studying in?" Elandra asked, nodding to the book. Tony glanced at it.
"Not exactly," he replied, and held it up so Elandra could see. It was the sequel to The Baron's Betrayal, The Viscount's Vengeance. She raised her eyebrows.
"I read the original. Not bad," she said, shifting River on her shoulder. The baby was already falling asleep again. "Now that I've got time, maybe I'll check it out."
"You can borrow it," Tony offered. Elandra grinned.
"I'm going home to KO-35 tomorrow, remember? The postage would be a nightmare."
"Right," Tony said. His smile faded. "It doesn't feel real yet, the fight being over."
"I know," Elandra said. "It won't for a long time, or so I've heard." Tony nodded.
"What time are you going?" He asked.
"Oh-nine-hundred hours," Elandra replied. "Probably on the dot."
"In case I don't see you again, goodbye, good luck, and thanks," Tony said.
"Goodbye, have fun and keep saving the world," Elandra replied with a smile. River burped again. "Excuse him."
"We are here today to pay final respects to our honored dead technology. But it should be noted that this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new, Weeping Angel and Alchemist-free world; a world that this beloved laptop gave his hardware to protect and nourish. Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the systems I have encountered in my hacking career, his was the most...compatible," James said quietly.
He was alone in the Zord Bay; somehow, nobody else seemed able to take the idea of holding a funeral for his laptop seriously. Therefore he'd locked them all out. Well, Rachel had already left for Phaedos, but everyone else was locked out.
James put the laptop inside one of the Typhoon Zord's missiles, which he'd gutted and rewired for the purpose. Loading it, he climbed into the Demi-Zord and flew out into space. He hit the red button, and the missile shot out into space. James had timed the shot just right; the missile flew right into the sunrise peeking around the Earth. It flared up as it hit the atmosphere and disintegrated.
Rex's voice came over the radio. "James? You need to get back into the Base now; we're heading for the rendezvous point."
"Coming," James said, turning the Typhoon Zord around.
Inside the Base, James headed straight for the command center. He passed a couple of his teammates, frantically helping secure everything for the flight. Rex was in the command center with Fischer, throwing levers and typing on computers. James slipped into a chair and went right to work alongside them.
"Hey, where are my shoes?" Tony yelled up the elevator shaft.
"Which ones?" Rex yelled back, pushing a quick sequence in a multicolored keypad.
"The basketball ones!"
"You left them in Engineering!" Kaiden shouted, leaning into the elevator shaft.
"Thanks!" Tony left.
"Do I even ask why and how you know that?" James asked, as Kaiden came into the room carrying a toolbox. Fischer gestured for him to leave it beside him, which he did.
"Not really, no," Kaiden said, leaving again.
"Ready yet?" Fischer asked Rex.
"Almost," he said. "James?"
"I'm done," the Blue Ranger said, hitting the "enter" key with a dramatic flourish and giving his chair a spin. "All files organized and ready for Zeuth."
"All Zords secured," Tony reported over the comm. "And Engineering's good to go."
"Kaiden? How's the Living Quarters deck?" Rex asked.
"Everything's ready here," the Yellow Ranger reported.
"Then we're set," Rex said. "Everyone to their positions. Five minutes." He flipped off the comm, and cracked his knuckles before buckling his seat belt.
"Ready," Fischer said, as he and James followed the Red Ranger's example.
"All hatches battened," Tony said, as he and Kaiden entered the command center. The Yellow Ranger dropped into a chair, using the momentum to spin around a few times before buckling up.
There was a silent moment, as it sank in that the mission was really and truly over. They weren't turning in their morphers, but Zeuth was taking the other technology unless it was needed again. They were also taking Rex and the Monster Rangers, who'd gladly accepted the Red Ranger's offer to serve there. Going by most Ranger history, they'd get called back into action some time in the next year, but…
"Can we go now?" James asked. Rex started a little, and shook his head.
"Yeah. Geronimo!" He said, and hit the button.
Trivia: The Baron's Betrayal was the book Mack was reading in the very beginning of Operation Overdrive. I made up the sequel, because I've already used the original over in Legion of Monsters.
A/N: If anybody here knows about Angel, yes, it's that Anne Steele. I'm not even entirely sure what that show is, but Rye Lee does, and he put it into Kaiden's backstory.
And…french the llama, this could qualify for NaNoWriMo! ANd that's another story done! Thanks to all of my reviewers, and especially WolfsbaneX, SSJ-Jolt, Gmoney22 and Rye Lee for giving me such cool people to play with! Exclamation points!