It was a perfect day Mariner Bay, the sun was shining, the wind was gentle and cool, and there were no demons to interrupt Carter's daily run. It wasn't a long run, only eight miles. He did longer run when he was in the Marine Corps.
"I had a pig and his name was Sam! Sunday he was bacon, Monday he was ham!" Carter sang the old running cadence he learned in San Diego. "Grinding my Ka-Bar in the bar, while my donkey runs the farm!" Running always cleared his mind, maybe because he has done so much of it. But being out here in the hills outside Mariner Bay, he felt perfectly at peace.
"Hey, Smoke Chaser! Slow down!" yelled Dana Mitchell. Carter sighed.
There goes my peaceful run, he thought as Dana pulled the truck over. "Dana, what's up?"
"General McKnight wants us," Dana explained making Carter groaned. "Basically, he wants to give us his assessment on how we've been doing."
"Fine, but for the record, this is bullshit," Carter growled as he climbed in.
"Noted and agreed," Dana grumbled as the two raced back to the Aquabase. Dana radioed in and asked for a few minutes for Carter to shower so he could be presentable. Captain Mitchell promised Carter that he could get five minutes to shower and shave once he got in, but not a second more. A little bit later, the Lightspeed team stood at attention as General McKnight began lecturing them.
"While I admit that my Cyborg Ranger initiative was a failure, I wasn't completely convinced that you five could turn the tide against the demon threat," McKnight said.
"How long do you think this will take?" Kelsey groaned.
"Five bucks that says that his speech will take so long, that only thing that will stop it will be a demon attack" whispered Joel.
"Ten that he won't notice us going off to fight," Chad replied.
"Shhh," Dana giggled only to be cut off by General McKnight saying her name. The general snapped his fingers and an aid put a file in his hand.
"Dana Mitchell, Lightspeed Pink Ranger," McKnight said as he pulled out a pair of reading glasses. "Daughter of Captain William Mitchell and Janet Mitchell. Mother died from breast cancer, and brother lost in a car accident. You graduated from Stanford University, top of your class in pre-med. Took a year off between your sophomore and junior year to become a paramedic, and currently studying to get into med school. Yet you continue to do excellent work as a ranger, your father must be proud."
"I hope so sir," Dana replied standing a little bit taller. Captain Mitchell gave her a small but proud smile.
"Kelsey Winslow, Lightspeed Yellow Ranger," McKnight continued, making Kelsey squeak in fear. "Comes from one of the oldest and wealthiest families in California, grandfather, father, and brother were graduates of West Point. You, however, majored in physical education at Colorado State University."
"Yes sir," Kelsey uncharacteristically replied in a meek voice.
"Three Olympic gold medals in the modern pentathlon, the triathlon, and cycling, mountain bike race; plus, silvers in cycling BMX and road," McKnight continued. "Not to mention the numerous championships in rock climbing and various other extreme sports. It's clear, why you were chosen to be a ranger, and I'm glad you're continuing to improve."
"Thanks!" Kelsey exclaimed before adding, "Sir, thank you, sir."
"Joel Rawlins," McKnight bellowed making Joel's smirk disappear. "Grew up on a small ranch in Texas, before becoming a mechanic in a local air show. Attended the University of Texas at Austin before joining the Air Force. Was a pilot in the 27th Special Operations Wing, achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant, and received both the Bronze Star and the Air Force Silver Star. After leaving the Air Force, you joined your old air show to become the 'Sky Cowboy,' thus turning it into one of the biggest air circuses in the country." McKnight looked up from Joel's file only to see the Sky Cowboy at attention.
"Despite your earlier performance reviews at first, you clearly have grown as a ranger," McKnight said. "Dr. Fairweather has given exceptional great reviews." Hearing that statement, Dr. Angela Fairweather cleared her throat in embarrassment making Joel grin like an idiot.
"Thank you, sir," Joel said as he shot Angela a wink. Turning toward the blue ranger, the general continued.
"Chad Lee, the son of Japanese immigrants," McKnight said, "Olympic gold medals in karate and judo, silver in boxing, and a bronze in wrestling. You received a bachelor's in science in marine biology from Oregon State University, before becoming a member of Navy SEAL Team 10. You left navy as a Petty Officer Second Class with one Purple Heart, one Bronze Star, and one Silver Star. After that, you were a trainer at Ocean World?"
"I was working on my master's degree, sir," Chad explained. "My thesis in on the behavior of Orcas in captivity compared to the wild."
"I see," McKnight grunted. "Well, thank you for your service and keep up the good work as the blue ranger."
"Yes sir, thank you, sir," replied Chad. McKnight turned to Carter who stood like a statue.
"Carter Grayson, a Hollywood marine I see," McKnight read. "1st Marine Recon Battalion, a Gunnery Sergeant, two Purple Hearts, one Bronze Star, one Silver Star, one Navy Cross, and one recommendation for the Medal of Honor for saving several civilians and injured team members from terrorists despite being injured yourself. After leaving, Marine Corps, you joined the Mariner Bay Fire Department where your bravery and leadership made you the clear leader of this team."
"Thank yo…" Carter started until McKnight cut him off.
"However, there is this incident that happened while your team was on leave in Seoul. You were thrown into the brig for a night after participating in a brawl that left several military officers and enlisted members injured," inquired McKnight. "A young Navy ensign and graduate from the Naval Academy claimed you dislocated his jaw. However, no charges were made, but it seems, therefore, this is the reason why you didn't receive the Medal of Honor. Do you have anything further to say about the incident?"
"Semper fi!" snapped Carter making Captain Mitchell laugh and his teammates stare at him in shock.
"I thought as much," McKnight sighed as he snapped the filed shut. Addressing the rangers, "You all have done well and continue to do so. Dismiss." The rangers saluted the general as the filed out. McKnight turned to Captain Mitchell.
"Well, sir?" Mitchell asked. McKnight sighed and shook his head.
"It explains why he tried to run a demon over with a truck," the general said, gesturing toward Carter.