The Garage, September 9th, 2000's
"If you're sure about this," Harvey said, looking at the group of RPM Rangers. Doctor K and Tenaya watched silently in the background, and the portal Harvey had come in by pulsed behind him.
"We're—" Gem started.
"Very sure," Gemma completed the sentence.
"We all agreed to look together," Scott said, and the others nodded. Harvey shrugged, and began handing out colored file folders. His new Captain's insignia glinted in the light. Summer gnawed on her lip, and Gemma giggled a little. Dillon, Gem and Flynn were serious, and Ziggy a bit fidgety. Both looking controlled, Doctor K and Tenaya accepted their own files.
"We tried to avoid spoilers for the future, but people do like to write about what happens after, so…" Harvey shrugged a little. "But we're from a parallel universe, so I don't think we got anything you should trust."
"Well, a few spoilers would be nice, give us an idea of what's coming next, I mean, this world is kind of crazy," Ziggy said, and Doctor K glared at him. "Right, yes, never mind." Harvey grinned and stepped back through the portal, which winked shut after him. The RPM Rangers exchanged silent looks.
"On three," Scott said. "One, two, three!" The seven Rangers flipped the files open and began reading the Akra reports.
"What? Oh, gross—"
"I have how many sisters now?"
"Wait, how many girlfriends do you get? Why do I only have three?" Gem asked, looking over at Dillon's file. The former Black Ranger brushed him away.
Flynn smirked at a photo. "This chick actually sounds kind of nice. Wonder if her Host's from around here. Ow!" He rubbed his arm where Gemma had punched it.
"Okay, it's a toss-up between me and Dillon and me and Scott, what do you guys think?" Summer asked, grinning. Scott rolled his eyes.
Gem and Gemma's faces were now somewhere between horror and amusement, Gem pacing and his sister gnawing a hangnail. Flipping a page, Summer frowned at it, and slid a little away from Scott and Dillon. Ziggy, on the other hand, was grinning.
"You know, I think I remember that part," he said, pointing.
"Not possible," Doctor K said, not even looking up. "The Hourglass Rangers and Time Force removed the timeline entirely."
Ziggy rolled his eyes. "I was joking. Hey, there's some stuff about you in here, Doc!" Now she gave him a glare.
"I just can't believe all of this actually happened to us," Scott said, shaking his head. "Sort of." The Rangers continued flipping through the files, pausing every few seconds as one burst out laughing or had to repeat a particular bit to the others.
"Whew," Tenaya whispered to Doctor K. "Glad they took it so well."
"Would I have exposed them to something I didn't think they could handle?" Doctor K was eyeing her own folder, not looking up as she spoke. There was a little frown on her face, as if she couldn't quite believe what she was seeing.
"Right, guess not. Oh, come on, a long-lost twin? Are you kidding me?" Tenaya exclaimed, staring at her own folder. Doctor K shook her head, and went back to reading.
Emperor Gruumm's Ship, September 18th, 2015
"So here you are, after all this time," Emperor Gruumm sneered at Isinia. The Sirian glared at him from behind the bars, but didn't do anything else. Mora stood nearby, watching with a little smirk. "Don't even think of trying to escape again, or I may not be so merciful."
Isinia didn't react. Shaking his head, Gruumm walked away, followed by Mora and a few Krybots. Slowly, Isinia sat down in the middle of her cell. It was all dark red-brown, lit by a faint light somewhere overhead, and very quiet. The force field around the almost branch-like bars of the cell hummed faintly, crackling every once in a while.
Then there was a pop, and a yellow portal opened up in the floor. Isinia sprang up just as Garfield fell up through it, catching himself on the side as gravity shifted. Quickly, Isinia pulled him upright. The portal disappeared with a pop as Garfield caught his breath. He grinned at Isinia, brushing hair out of his eyes. They were still clouded, but more hazel now.
"Hi," he gasped. "I've tracked down another straggler. Is this a good time?"
"Yes, but next time I'll call you." Garfield pulled out the Amaranth Gyro Morpher and handed it to Isinia, who looped the chain around her neck.
"Right-ho, Mrs. Cruger." Garfield pulled out a Portal Pointer, squinted at the buttons, and shook his head. "No, you do it. Losing my vision again. Coordinates are for the Pan Global training facility in Florida, about 1995." He smacked his forehead as he passed the Portal Pointer to the Sirian.
"Does hitting yourself help?" Isinia popped open the top of the Portal Pointer, revealing a trio of narrow dials, and began twisting them into place.
"Eh," Garfield said with a shrug. Fixing the coordinates, Isinia pointed and fired at the floor, and a second yellow portal hit and widened there with a pop. The two Hourglass Rangers jumped.
Florida, November 19th, 1996
Isinia and Garfield materialized as human doctors in a hospital Emergency Room. There was a lot of fuss going on—a man with a strong Greek accent was yelling, and Garfield quickly moved to get him out. There were a few other doctors and nurses here, along with a patient or two.
"How could you throw away your training like this?" He shouted, as Garfield tried to gently usher him out of the hospital room. The gentleness soon faded. Isinia turned to the focus of his yelling, and saw a very pregnant, very scared-looking Kimberly. From the looks of it, she was going into labor. Isinia hurried over, reaching into her Pocket Dimension and sliding out a scanner behind her back.
"It's okay," she soothed, "just breathe." The scanner, which looked like a very fat-barreled handgun, beeped and whirred behind Isinia's back, and she turned away to check it. Yes, Chameleon Akra. Well, at least she'd be able to show Garfield something different.
"Brooks?" She called. Garfield reappeared at the door, shaking his head. His nurse's scrubs were askew, and he straightened them. Pulling him over, she whispered, "This is a Chameleon Akra. They attach loosely to one Host, steal two samples of DNA, and clone a child from them. You may want to see this."
Garfield slipped into a corner, and Isinia glimpsed a silvery hip flask come out of his Pocket Dimension. She shook her head, but then Kimberly cried out, and Isinia got back to helping her. She had never actually helped with a human birth before, but this wasn't going to be normal in any case, so she just tried to keep the former Pink Ranger calm.
Garfield returned once the glowing Eternal Falls water had faded back into his skin, and Isinia noted that his eyes were clearer. Kimberly let out the loudest scream yet, her eyes rolled back in her head, and she fell back in a faint. Before Garfield could react, everyone in the room froze, Garfield and Isinia included.
Kimberly's stomach moved, and not in a contraction. As Garfield and Isinia stared, physically unable to look away, flesh-tone Akra tendrils poked through her dress, peeling apart and depositing an unusually pretty baby girl on the bed. Jerkily, Isinia moved forward to catch the newborn, and the Chameleon Akra began to evaporate with a hiss. Isinia felt her memories beginning to warp as the Akra wrote a normal birth into her mind. It only stuck to the layer under Akra control, but the creature was too far-gone to notice.
Then everything jumped back to life, and the doctors swarmed around the recovering Kimberly. Isinia wrapped up the baby, who pinked up and started to cry. Slipping out her scanner again, Isinia confirmed that the baby had an internal Akra.
"We've got her; do we take her in now?" Garfield whispered.
"No, it isn't safe with her this young, especially with an internal Akra like this one." Kimberly was asking for her baby, so Isinia handed her to the tearful ex-Pink Ranger, who cuddled the infant. "Knowing these creatures, she's going to give the baby up for adoption and find her later in life, probably in time to reunite with Tommy."
"How long do we have to wait?" Garfield asked. "I mean, with the Queen gone, do we need to worry about taking the Akra out anymore? They're setting up a full facility in Northside to try and retrain Akra." Isinia shook her head.
"I couldn't say, but removing her from her intended environment could trigger an attack. We'll have to follow her." She pulled out the Portal Pointer, and she and Garfield headed out of the room. "She'll automatically draw us to her strongest moments, which would be the safest for her."
"But not for us. Of course." Garfield shook his head as Isinia opened up a yellow portal on the wall. The pair stepped through, right into a downpour. Recoiling, they darted under an overhang, and looked around through the darkness.
In a few moments, a shadowy figure appeared, crouching as it ran, and coming right up to the steps of a nearby building. It set a bundle down on the stone steps, and knelt beside it. Isinia's Sirian hearing picked up the voice perfectly, and by the way he winced, Garfield picked it up as well.
"I'm sorry," Kimberly whispered, "But it isn't safe for me to take care of you myself." Isinia drew closer, Garfield following, and glimpsed a flash of gold as Kimberly tucked something into the baby's blanket.
"Bet you a fiver it's a locket," Garfield whispered.
"I'll leave that bet where it is; I don't like to lose money," Isinia replied, and Garfield drooped. Kimberly stood up, backed away from the baby, and teleported in a flash of pink light. Garfield gave Isinia a questioning look, and she frowned.
"Again: if we're not taking this Akra out, can't we just grab her and take her to Northside?" He hissed. Isinia considered. With the Akra removed, neutralized or not, Time Force could undo the timeline. This would give them more time, if it worked.
"We'll have to be quick," Isinia replied. "It might still try a burst attack like the Chameleon Akra used to rewrite everyone's memories—and it'd be concentrated on the two of us."
"Right. Three, two, one!" The Hourglass Rangers darted out of their hiding places and ran to the baby, splashing through puddles as they went. The Akra Host was asleep, and only whimpered a little as Garfield picked her up. Isinia was already setting the Portal Pointer for Northside.
"I was right: a locket with the word 'Destiny' on it," Garfield whispered. "Probably supposed to be her name. Poor thing." Isinia gave Garfield a strange look, but it was very dark and he didn't notice. The portal opening startled Destiny, who just had time for a thin little wail as they jumped through.
They materialized inside the Akra Station, in a very white room, and Destiny started crying in earnest. Narrow, whitish Akra tendrils began to creep along her skin, but then the door hissed open and one of the Mesozoic Rangers darted in—a slightly plump blonde in pink. She quickly put one of the devices Xanthe had made to control Akra around Destiny's neck, and the tendrils faded.
"Belle, wasn't it?" Isinia guessed.
"Mary," the girl corrected her, adjusting her grip on Destiny. "You guys should bring thingies like this with you—she was sending out a pretty loud distress signal."
"You mean the crying? It wasn't that loud," Garfield said. Mary rolled her eyes.
"I mean on Akra telepathy wavelengths, genius. Cat picked her up right away." Garfield frowned, and Mary clarified, "I've got an Akra who goes by Cat."
"We'll look into it," Isinia said, "Thank you." Mary nodded, and headed out of the room, Destiny quieting in her arms.
Garfield and Isinia exchanged a look, and the human laughed nervously. "That was different. So, same time next week?"
"Certainly," Isinia said, smiling. Snapping off a salute, Garfield opened up a new portal and stepped through, and after a moment Isinia followed suit.
Aquitar, May 14th, 2011
Garfield had his cane again, and was tapping down a whitish hallway. He saw someone stepping out of a room ahead, and squinted. His vision was fading again; it always did, though at least it was starting to last long enough to be useful. Still, Garfield guessed who it was.
"Urydice?" He called, and the Aquitian woman—Xanthe's mother—turned to him.
"Garfield," she said, acknowledging him with a slight nod. Garfield stopped in front of the door and leaned on his cane.
"Any news on the memory restoration?" He asked.
Urydice sighed. "Time Force has given me what the Akra downloaded, and they are trying to follow her through the rest of her past to retrieve the rest, but it will take time to order them correctly, and I'm still not certain Xanthe is capable of holding memories even if they are repaired. The shock could kill her." Garfield winced.
"Can I see her?" Urydice merely opened the door, and ducking his head and muttering thanks, Garfield entered.
The room was blurry and vague, but Garfield glimpsed something flashing on the other side of the glassy wall. Fish, he thought. The place smelled of it. Xanthe was sitting in a chair with her back to the door, staring at the ocean around them. Garfield's cane taps were the only noise in the silent room.
"Hey," Garfield said, sitting down beside Xanthe. "Took out another Akra. Chameleon thingy. Did you ever have to deal with those on your own?" No answer. Xanthe may have blinked, but Garfield had trouble telling. He took another swig of Eternal Falls water, and shut his eyes as the energy rippled through his body. It felt weird, but somehow right.
"How about before, when you were just a scientist? Ever have to deal with a baby clone? Eh, probably not. I think the whole cloning thing's kind of new, and so is the internal Akra. I wonder how many of those are running around right now." Garfield sighed. "It'd be a lot easier if you could help us."
Silence fell. Garfield reached over and grasped one of Xanthe's hands, loosely clasped in her lap. Over the last few weeks, he'd stopped thinking he felt her squeeze back, but he imagined it. Xanthe's breathing didn't even change; slow and steady just as if she was asleep.
"I'll be back tomorrow. Bye, Xanthe. Wake up soon." He rose and headed for the door, looking down at his feet. He wasn't sure if the rustle of fabric behind him was his imagination, but the soft, slightly raspy voice was definitely not.
Thoughts from 2017: The baby thing squicked me out even when I was writing it, but it seemed like the least gross/rapey option available.