Author's Note: I changed a few lines here and there on "Written in Rock", but it's still the same song. Okay, boys and girls, this one is serious. In this story, one Ranger walks, and everything changes. Enjoy, Feedback is welcome. Special Thanks: (Again) To Crystal Maiden for help with the songs.Coming Soon: Imposter in Pink!
It's a chilly November morning in Terra Venture's City Dome as early morning patrons file into the Comet Café for breakfast.
Farcus "Bulk" Bulkmeyer, one of the Café's two newest cooks hurriedly prepares an order for waiting customers. "Professor!" he calls to his elderly partner, "where are those hash browns?"
"Ahhh, patience my boy," the Professor answers, "three orders of Phenominus's Phenomenal Hash browns!" The Professors voice bristles with pride.
"Uh, Professor?" Bulk asks, examining the plates Phenominus has placed before him. "Why are these hash browns green?"
"All part of a grand experiment, my boy!" the Professor sings with glee.
"Yeah? Well your grand experiment is gonna get us fired, AGAIN," Bulk replies sharply, "These things are nasty."
The Professor smiles, "Perhaps to the untrained eye!"
Bulk pokes the potatoes with a fork, "Untrained eye!?!" he snaps. "The Commander is sitting at table seven, and Mike is at table 12. Those are the worst people on the station to spring green potatoes on! What were you thinking?"
The Professor thinks for a moment, "Actually, I was going to document this particular hue's tendency to render women susceptible to...suggestion."
"Whoa, Prof., You mean to tell me these hash greens make chicks do whatever you want!?!" Bulk looks from the potatoes to a group of beautiful women who just walked into the café, one of whom, Kendrix, sits at a table with Mike and Leo. "Give me potatoes, man, and hurry!" Bulk demands.
As Bulk leaves to serve the beautiful blonde and her friends, the Professor grins to himself. *Push all the right buttons, * he gloats to himself.
Outside the Comet Café, an angry young man walks slowly up the steps to the entrance. He had been out searching since the MegaShip had landed early that morning. If he didn't find his quarry here, he would use the ship's sensors to find him. No matter what it took, he would find the man.
Entering the Café, he automatically finds his target. He's sitting at a table in the middle of the restaurant. It's time for the reckoning.
"Hunter!" Mike smiles and stands as John walks toward their table. "We were just having some breakfast," he says motioning at Leo and Kendrix. "Care to join us? My treat."
"No thanks," John replies politely, a humorless smile on his face. "I think you've givin' me enough."
With that John takes a flying leap, diving over the table between Leo and Kendrix, and landing a solid right cross to Mike's jaw! Stunned, Mike is thrown to the floor by the force of the blow.
"I found the file, Mike! You son of a..." John yells, rising from the floor where he landed.
"Hey!" Leo interrupts, pulling John completely to his feet and shoving him backward, "What do you think your doing!?!"
"Leo, back off!" Mike says harshly, "I had that coming," he adds quietly.
Confused, Leo turns back toward Mike. "Had it coming!?!" he repeats. "Mike what's goin' on here?"
Looking down at Mike with disgust, John speaks, "That's right Leo, ask your brother," he says scornfully, "ask him about betraying friends." "MISTER HUNTER, MISTER CORBETT!!!" Commander Stanton's voice booms as he steps between John and Mike. "May I ask what's going on?" he asks forcefully. "It's just a small disagr..." Leo starts. "I'll deal with you later, Leo," Stanton snaps, interrupting him. The entire group is shocked into silence. While he had always been a forceful presence, they had never seen the Commander lose his temper. "I understand sometimes tempers flare," Stanton continues, calmer, but still angry. "But I will not have people in my charge resorting to a public brawl." Turning his back on them, Commander walks a few steps away then, "ATTENTION!" he orders. Instantly, everyone at the table snaps to attention. Mike, John, Leo, and Kendrix stand side to side in an iron clad military posture. Even Bulk, who had come to investigate the ruckus, stands at attention. Turning, Commander Stanton walks down the line inspecting the "troops." Coming to Bulk, who is obviously scared silly, Stanton sighs deeply and shakes his head. "That'll be all Mr. Bulkmeyer," he says quietly. "YES SIR! THANK YOU, SIR!" Cmndr. Stanton grimaces in pain as Bulk yells right in his ear. Realizing his mistake, Bulk begins to babble nervously, "I'm so sorry, Lt. Ston... I mean Stommander Cant... I mean Comm..." "GO!" Stanton snaps. As Bulk leaves, Stanton's attention returns to the group. "Would anyone like to tell me why Mr. Hunter punched Mr. Corbett?" he asks pointedly. He looks Mike and John over. All remain silent. "Ms. Morgan," the Commander addresses Kendrix, "what did you see?" "Actually, sir," she pauses, "I was distracted by the hash browns." Kendrix silently curses over her lame excuse. The Commander begins to reply, but suddenly realizes the distraction he is feeling from the Professor's hash browns, and remains silent. Moving on to John, Stanton looks him square in the eye. "I don't understand, Hunter," he says calmly, "before the Council dropped your contract, you were an outstanding officer. Now you're picking fights?" John can think of nothing to say, "Things happen, sir," he replies flatly. "Well, I suggest you find a way to burn off some of this hostile energy. You might also try that the next time "things" happen." "Mr. Corbett," Stanton says moving down to Mike, "I expect better things from my First Officer. Don't you agree?" "Yes sir!" Mike answers. "I'm so glad," Stanton says sarcastically. "I want to see you in my Ready Room in twenty minutes." The Commander turns to address the entire group. "Consider yourselves, all on report," he tells them. They reply together, "Yes sir!" "Dismissed!" Stanton commands. Turning the Commander heads toward the men's room, quickly but calmly. "Mr. Bulkmeyer," he calls, still walking, "the hash browns." "Off the menu immediately, sir," Bulk says quickly. "Good call, son," Stanton says, as the bathroom door shuts behind him. The Ranger's breathe a collective sigh, and turn to one another. Accept, that is, for John who storms toward the exit. Not wanting to start another fight, Mike calls to John instead of following him. "John, meet me at Kai's apartment later," he calls, "We need to talk about this," his last words are more request than demand. He knows his friend is hurting. And, he knows he is the cause. "Yeah, Let's do that!" John snaps from the door, not even looking back. "I'm so sorry, man," Mike whispers. Having sat quietly through the entire incident, Kendrix hurries out of the restaurant. She knows it's better if she isn't the one to talk to John, but someone has to. And Kendrix Morgan thinks she knows who.
John's Harley rumbles into the secluded Vernon Park parking lot and comes to a halt.
*How could I have done that!* he thinks to himself. *Mike Corbett is, was, my best friend. And I just punched him out over a plate of green hash browns! *
Then, he remembers the medical file, and how it revealed Mike's lies. "How could you have done that!?!" he shouts to the wind. In anger John punches the bikes handle bar, and winces in pain. "AHGG!" Stanton was right; John had to work off some of his anger. So, here he was.
He hadn't done much running lately, a Ranger's life is a busy one, but he needs this run right now, to sort things out. He isn't even dressed for it. He'd stopped by the apartment just long enough to change into a white sweatshirt. He hadn't thought to change out of his blue jeans, and at this point didn't care. Ignoring the early morning chill, he walks to the tree shrouded foot trail, and runs.
As John runs, the words Mike once spoke to Leo echo in his mind. "Destiny doesn't make mistakes..." The words sting him like needles, and John runs faster.
He's running full tilt now. His lungs ache, his skin tingles, but he doesn't stop. It's not about clearing his head anymore. It was his power, his destiny, and if he keeps running, no one can take it away. He was Magna Defender.
It was over. There would be no powers, no Magna Defender. No Rangers. He had the power and now would lose it. It's over.
With those thoughts, his legs turn to lead beneath him, and he stumbles to a stop. Leaning against a tree, he slides to the ground, unable even to stand. His skin is on fire, his lungs feel as if they're full of razor blades, ever fiber of his body screams in pain. But he doesn't feel it, not inside. Inside John there is no pain, no sorrow, no anger, just emptiness.
"You should probably stretch after a run like that," a female voice says from behind him.
Recognizing the voice, John turns to see Dulcea standing over him. "I...would," he tells her breathlessly, "but...I don't think...I can move." He smiles at her and winces.
"I know why you're here, John," Dulcea says gently as she sits beside him, "I know about your powers, and about your fight with Mike."
"And you're about to tell me some Zin-Ninjetti fortune cookie BS about how I'm over reacting and shouldn't take it so hard."
"Actually, I was going to say I understand how you feel. I was betrayed by a friend once."
John has a hard time believing anyone would betray such a beautiful and intelligent woman, then he looks at her, and sees the sad sincerity on her face. "What did the jerk do?" John asks.
Dulcea smiles a sad little smile and looks at the ground. "The jerk died, he swore he would return to me, but he DIED."
John can just hear Dulcea's voice crack with emotion. "I'm so sorry," he tells her.
Leaning his head against the tree and looking skyward, John rubs his face. "I'm battin' a thousand this morning," he says sarcastically. "I punched my best friend, alienated his brother, and I'm responsible for my girlfriend lying to the Commander. Kendrix doesn't lie to ANYBODY!" John laments.
"Believe it or not, Your not the first person to ever say or do something you regretted." Dulcea rests her hand on the back of his neck. "Your friends will understand and forgive you in time."
"Don't talk to me about friends, please!" John snaps, "I've had just about enough of that action."
"John, you must accept that Mike had no choice. He did the only thing he could to save his friends, under the circumstances. He would never do anything to hurt you otherwise. You MUST believe that!" Dulcea's voice is gentle and soft.
"I want to, but...I just don't know!" John tries desperately to let go of his anger but can't. "He could have at least told me!" He snaps. "He told you, after all."
"No, actually he didn't," Dulcea says hesitantly. "Alpha told me the night you fought Chiron." Instantly, she knows saying that was a mistake.
"ALPHA KNEW!?!" he cries. "Jesus Christ, this just keeps gettin' better and better!"
"John listen," Dulcea says, her voice taking on a new urgency. "It's not my place to say if you, or Mike, is wrong. Only the two of you can make that judgement. But, I will say that you can either let go of your anger, or you will drive those who love you away. You're already losing your powers, do you think hurt feelings are worth losing your friends to?"
John takes a moment to reply, "I think," he pauses to stand up, "I need to talk to Mike."
John takes a step and realizes his legs are still very sore from his run. "I don't suppose you could, uh, zap me back to my bike?" he asks meekly.
"I fly out here from the Mountain Dome, give you sage advice, lend you a caring ear, and you expect me to give you an Orb ride to?" Dulcea complains in mock anger, "Some people." She smiles at John sweetly, "Good Luck, Ranger."
John turns to start the long walk back to his bike.
"You know, you were a great Ranger," she calls to him as he starts walking.
"Great!" he says, "Can I have a reference letter?" he jokes, "I hear the V.R. Troopers are looking to hire."
Turning back for a moment he says, "Dulcea, Thank yo..." But she is gone.
Smiling he returns to his long walk back, only to bump into his motorcycle. It's parked right where he left it, in the parking lot about seven miles from where he met Dulcea on the trail. She had teleported him.
Suddenly a white owl swoops down from the treetops. "Your welcome," she tells him. And once again, she is gone.
An hour later, John steps out of the bathroom after taking his first shower in just over 24 hours. When he returned to the apartment from his talk with Dulcea, he'd felt hurt, guilty, tired, sore, and filthy. He couldn't do anything about most of those feelings. *But, By God I can shower! * he had thought to himself.
Looking around John sees he isn't alone anymore. Mike, Leo, and Kendrix are sitting around the apartment. All have stern looks on their faces, including Kendrix, who actually looked frightened of something. *Is it me? * he wonders.
"Where are Kai, Damon, and Maya?" John asks solemnly.
"Kai and Damon had to work, and Maya's exercising horses at the park." Kendrix answers.
"To bad," John tells them, "I wanted them to be here to."
"For what!" Leo demands, "What is it that has you throwing punches and accusing Mike of betrayal. And what about that file you mentioned."
John says nothing.
"Talk to me John, I mean it," Leo's tone grows steadily angrier.
Finally, Kendrix stands and turns to Mike, "I think its time, Mike," she tells him.
Mike rubs his chin in deep thought. "Your right," he agrees. "It is time."
Mike rises from his seat and motions for Leo to sit. "Little brother, I hope you'll understand. Because what I'm about to say, is gonna change everything."
"It started a little over a month ago," Mike starts, "You guys had just been captured by Scorpius, my powers were still killing me, and I had just been busted up in my fight with Battobass. John, as I would later learn, was back here raiding the fridge."
"Somethings never change," Leo jokes halfheartedly.
Mike continues, "I woke up on the MegaShip with Alpha watching over me." Darkness falls over Mike's face. "I didn't know if you guys were alive or dead. I," his voice cracks, "I never felt so...helpless. With every fiber of my being, I wanted to morph and tear Scorpius' ship apart."
"But you couldn't," Leo whispers, "it must've been hell."
Mike nods. "It was, bro. It was like all those times I was inside the first Magna Defender. When he would attack you, and all I could do was watch. Only this time, I couldn't even do that."
"But then, Alpha found a way. A way to save my life, and more importantly, save the Rangers. I had to transfer my powers to someone else," Mike looks to John, "You wanna take it?"
John nods, then proceeds. "Al used the ships teleporters to beam me into the Simudeck. There I basically cooled my heals while DECA was secretly scanning me to make sure my body could sustain the Magna powers." John stops for a moment and smiles. "They even had a gang of holographic Putties jump me," he snickers at the memory. "Anyway, I guess I passed."
Leo, now pacing, was getting anxious. He had heard this story before. "We knew all this already, John. You got the Magna powers and saved us from the Scorpion Stinger."
"You don't know the half of it," Mike says enigmatically. "Neither did John."
John continues, "I was led to believe," John flashes Mike a cold look, "that when the powers stabilized, they would permanently graft to my body, like yours have. That wasn't the case."
"No it wasn't," Mike agrees. "Alpha's tests showed that the powers would stabilize when transferred to John, but," Mike pauses unsure how to proceed. "they would have to be transferred back to the original host, me, within a few weeks, or the powers would cease to exist."
"Oh God, Mike you didn't!" Leo cries in disbelief. "He was your best friend! Our best friend! You had no right!"
Turning to John, Leo doesn't know what to say, "I...I had no idea. I'm...sorry."
"So was I," John replies coldly, then turns to Mike. "Who else knew, Mike. Leo didn't, I sure didn't. But who did you share your dirty little secret with?"
Mike stands to look John in the face. "No one outside of me and Alpha kne..."
"That's CRAP!" John bursts out, "Dulcea knew, who else did you tell!?!"
"Alpha told Dulcea on his own, I didn't even know until she came to see me last week. She accused me of playing games with your life." Mike's voice quivers as he speaks, his own words stinging worse than any blow could.
"I'd call that a pretty fair assessment!" John yells.
Out of the corner of his eye, John sees Kendrix doubled over in her seat, and he hears quiet sobbing noises. "Kendrix," he asks, his anger replaced by concern, "what is it?"
Kendrix takes a deep breath and rises slowly, as if she were admitting to some horrible crime. Taking of her glasses, she reveals her normally beautiful blue eyes, now puffy, red and tearful.
"I knew," she sobs.
Kendrix can't bear to look at John. She knew he would take it hard, but why shouldn't he. In all the time she's known him, there were only three people outside his family that John let get really close. Two of those had just brought his world crashing down.
John's face bore his emotions, and was holding nothing back. He is devastated; the world as he knew it had turned into a nightmare. Only he can't wake up.
"Oh no, not you, please," he begs, "Anybody but you, Kendrix."
"I was afraid John!" Kendrix' sobs are now full-fledged cries of heartbreak and despair. "I...I thought the powers might hurt you like they did Mike! I double checked Alpha's files and found the truth."
Kendrix tries to catch her breath before going on, "I...I wanted to tell you, but I...didn't know how!"
"Did you wanna tell me on the MegaShip last night!?!" John screams, "Huh, did you wanna tell me then! Maybe you just wanted to break-up again before I found out! Or am I maybe some guinea pig for you to test on. Is that it, Dr. Morgan? Well bad news, DOC, the test are over. I don't need or want this in my life anymore. Not the powers, not the monsters, and especially not you!"
John's mouth drops open in horror. He didn't mean to say that. The words had just come out in anger. He didn't, couldn't mean the things he said. But it was too late.
He had seen Kendrix sad, even heart broken before, but this is different. The pain he sees in her face is indescribable.
"Kendrix...I...I didn't mean..."
Before he can finish the young woman pushes past him and hurries out the door. Even in the throws of despair, she still maintains a certain grace as she disappears down the hall, in tears.
"Oh God, what did I do, what did I say?" Through his own tears, John barely notices Leo walk past him and out the door, a look of disgust on his face.
It's just John and Mike now. Neither man knows what to say to the other. Or perhaps, they're afraid of what they might say. Either way the room is silent.
Mike is the first to step forward. He's not sure what he can say, but he knows something must be said. "John, if I'd known...I'm so sorry," the words are quiet and hoarse, but Mike hopes against hope they'll be enough.
"Oh, Mikey, We've really screwed this one up," John drops to the couch, as he speaks. "Where did we go wrong, man?" he asks rhetorically.
Mike joins John on the couch. "Don't look at me, Hunter, I was dead for a year."
"Yeah, I know, when you got back you stepped on my apartment," John says flatly.
For a moment the two men stare at each other in silence, then burst into laughter. It's a strange sensation after the days events, but one that both men welcome. For a moment all their troubles are forgotten in a storm of humor.
Mike finally wipes his eyes and manages to stifle his laughter long enough to speak. "What...what are we gonna do now?" he wonders aloud.
"Well," John pauses as a final bout of laughter hits him, "Y...your gonna be Magna Defender again, and I'm gonna try to get the most wonderful girl in the world forget what an ass I was." John suddenly forgets what was so funny. "What am I gonna do Mike?"
Mike stands and gives John a playful poke in the shoulder. "Take it easy, What you two have is real. No stupid argument is gonna end that," Mike assures him. "But you BETTER apologize to her," Mike says in his best tough guy voice.
"Oh, I plan on it buddy," John says truthfully.
"Good. Now lets crack open a case of Cokes, and drown our sorrows." Mike rises and walks toward the refrigerator and opens the door. "Whoops, all we got is Gatorade. We really gotta stop Leo from buying groceries."
Looking back from the fridge, Mike sees John is gone. In his place, on the couch, are the Onyx Quasar Saber and the Magna Morphers. Mike sighs deeply, John never was one to wait once he got an idea in his head. *Good Luck, Ranger. * he wishes his friend.
John Hunter is tired. In the last twenty-four hours, his world has been shaken to pieces. What wasn't taken from him by well-intentioned lies, he himself had wrecked with his own temper. But despite all that has happened, the hardest part is still yet to come. He has to rebuild.
John has already forged a fragile peace with Mike. It'll still take a while for their friendship to recover, but at least they were willing to try.
Kendrix is another matter. Off all the things John did during his rage and frustration, the harsh words he spoke to her are the transgressions he feels worst about. He cares for her more than he could ever say, and yet he had lashed out at her like some...monster.
That's why he's here, at the mall. He himself didn't do much shopping. When his freelance income aloud, he usually just came here on the occasional "comic book" run, or to check out the new action figure offerings at the toy store. But this trip was for a much more important purpose. John intends to make amends to Kendrix as best he can.
He has already bought a bouquet of roses. Next a trip to the bookstore for the romance books that as far as he knows, are Kendrix' only guilty pleasure. Then a quick stop at a pay phone to make reservations at Terra Venture's most exclusive restaurant, and he would be done. And BROKE. But if it put Kendrix in the mood to listen to him beg her forgiveness, it would be worth it all, and more.
High above John, clinging to the malls vaulted ceiling, a dark creature watches, until... "It's time, Magna Defender," the creature whispers.
On the mall's lower level, John has just exited the escalator, and is heading toward the bookstore when he hears it. The sound of boots running quickly up behind him. Then they're replaced with an earsplitting "KEEEEYAAAAHHH!!!"
With agility only a true martial artist could possess, John spins toward the noise, and is kicked in the head by some leaping figure!
Still stunned from the first blow, John is helpless as the dark clad figure delivers first one rapid fire spin kick, then another, to his head. Next a powerful jab sends the dazed teenager to the ground.
Through blurred vision, John can just make out the dark figure lifting its right leg to deliver a lethal stomping blow. In desperation, John pivots his body, sweeping hard with his left leg. The move pays off as his foot catches the dark figure just behind the knee of his left leg. Already off balance, the creatures leg flies out from under him send it smashing to the ground.
Spinning to his feet, John shakes off his daze, and finally gets a good look at his assailant as the creature rises. The creature is almost seven feet tall, and decked out in some kind of organic looking black armor with yellow gauntlets and a black visored helmet. But its not the creatures armor or flowing blue cape that John notices first. It's the two extra arms the creature has coming out of its rib cage. The thing looks like some insectoid knight.
"Who are you," John demands feeling the new cut over his eye, "what do you want!?!" Dropping into a martial stance, the creature says, "I, am the Arach-Knight, and I have been sent to destroy the Magna Defender!"
"Dude, you got the wrong guy." John explains, "I was only a temp."
"Lies!" the creature shouts, "My mistress has seen what you are capable of. Now morph, so that you may meet your end with honor."
John is angry now; he's had a long, bad day. He isn't especially fond of being called a liar, and while it has happened a lot lately, he's really tired of being beaten up.
"I told you, I don't do that kinda thing anymore!" John lets the anger show in his voice, "but if you wanna rumble, I'm just in the mood for it."
"So be it!" the Arach-Knight cries.
"Let's Get It On!" John answers.
With lightning speed, Arach-Knight launches a front sidekick, which John deflects with a soft block. Delivering two spin kicks of his own, John launches himself over the creature, somersaults, and lands behind it.
"Surprise sweetie!" John yells. Before Arach-Knight can react, John lashes out with a vicious front snap kick that sends the creature crashing through a "U.S. CALVARY" store window.
With a scream of anger, Arach-Knight draws the sword he wears on his belt, and leaps from the window. One slash, two slashes, John dodges both.
Forcing Arach-Knight back with a roundhouse kick to its stomach, John reaches through the broken window and retrieves a "Highlander" katana from the smashed display within. Spinning, John draws the sword parrying a new slash from Arach-Knight and striking the bug-man across the face with the sword's aluminum scabbard. Pressing his advantage, John tries for a sword strike of his own, but Arach-Knight easily dodges the blade.
Circling each other carefully, both fighters lower their swords to a relaxed ready position. Neither waist an ounce of energy, yet their not totally at rest either.
"Who sent you, Monster?" John demands, "Trakeena?" he accuses.
"I don't know who that is, Boy!" Arach-Knight spits the word, "But I will say this," he continues, "my Impress has sent me to kill first you, and then the rest of your Ranger brood. The Red, the Blue, the PINK..."
John didn't know if Arach-Knight had really put special emphases on Kendrix, but it didn't matter. *Nobody hurts Kendrix, ever again! * his mind screams.
"YAAAAHHHH!" With a scream of rage, John charges at Arach-Knight swinging his sword in a lethal slash. Side stepping the blow, Arach-Knight kicks John in the back, sending him sprawling into the malls central fountain. Unable to get his footing on the fountains slippery tiles, John is just barely able to dodge Arach-Knights follow up slashes.
Again and again they clash, neither combatant able to gain an advantage. Only John's skill and training keep him alive as he fights the stronger, faster, armored Arach-Knight. But how long would he last?
Going for another slash, John swings his sword downward, striking only water as Arach-Knight dodges yet again. On trying to pull his sword back however, John realizes its stuck in one of the drains in the bottom of the fountain. "Oh Crap!" he shouts.
In a blur of movement, Arach-Knights foot lashes out, knocking the sword from John's hands. Not waiting for a reaction the monster follows through with a punch to John's head, followed by a kick that sends the young man sliding into the water. Stunned, John is unprepared for the spin kick that finally sends him down to stay.
"Bah!" Arach-Knight spits in disgust, "a victory against a mere boy is hollow at best. Still," he adds thoughtfully, "I do have my orders, and you did fight a good fight."
Shrugging, Arach-Knight lifts his sword high over his head, preparing to strike.
"Better not miss," John warns him, a scowl of defiance on his face.
"I never do," Arach-Knight brags.
John knows it's over, but if he has to die here, then Arach-Knight will know he fought a Ranger. Power Rangers don't give up.
Even as the sword slashes down at him for the killing blow, John launches himself at Arach-Knight. *One way or another, * he thinks, *this is the end. *
Suddenly, an energy blast strikes Arach-Knight in the chest, with a blast that sends he, and John, reeling.
"You wanna slice of Magna Defender, Pal," Mike says from behind them, "Come and get it!"
Looking toward the voice, John sees not only Mike in his Magna Defender gear, but the entire team. Before he can even react, the Rangers charge into battle smashing into Arach-Knight like a Technicolor tidal wave. All except one, John realizes.
With a gate that looks more feline than human, the Pink Ranger breaks away from the group and runs toward him. Grabbing John up in her deceptively slender arms, Kendrix leaps almost fifty feet straight up, to land on the malls highest level. Gently, she releases her precious cargo.
"I still can't take you anywhere," she jokes, as she moves to return to battle.
"Wait," John says quietly, "Please." Fishing through the pocket of his Duster coat, John finally retrieves a single rose with a broken stem. He'd managed to stuff it in his pocket when Arach-Knight jumped him earlier.
"It, uh was a bouquet of Long Stemmed Roses," John tells her apologetically, "before..."he gestures toward Arach-Knight below.
Kendrix raises the broken flower, smelling it through her helmet's scent receptors. "Long Stems, huh?" she repeats, "he'll pay for that," she promises.
"Can we...talk later?" John asks meekly.
Looking around to make sure the mall had been completely evacuated, and they're alone, Kendrix quickly removes her helmet. "Talk is cheap, John-boy."
Confused by her reply, John is completely unprepared when Kendrix takes him in a tight embrace and kisses him deeply, warmly, lovingly. *Heavenly. * he thinks to himself.
For long moments, the young lovers are lost in their kiss. No pain, no sorrow, only sweet bliss.
"Uh, Kendrix," Kai's voice calls over Kendrix' communicator, "If your not to busy, you wanna help us put this guy away."
Finally breaking off, Kendrix looks down, her beautiful face tinged red with embarrassment.
"What, does he have a sixth since!?!" John complains.
Giving John one last hug and a final peck on the cheek, Kendrix backs away. "We will talk," she promises. Mouthing the words "I Love You", Kendrix returns to the edge of the balcony and places the tiny flower in her belt.
"BACK TO ACTION!" she calls. Then she is gone.
Running to the edge of the balcony, John watches the battle intently. The outcome isn't really in question. Against a single Ranger, Arach-Knight might have been a problem. But against all six, even now the creature falters.
Realizing his friends are in no real danger, John decides to exercise the better part of valor and leave before their insect friend decides to grow, or explode, or something. He knows he'll see them again, though. They are after all his family. Family, friends, brothers...lover.
Stopping in the parking lot, John smiles as he watches the sunset. *Not a bad month. * he thinks, *I saved my friends, helped save the universe, and met my ladylove all over again. *
"I wonder what I'll do tomorrow." Giving the Rangers one last look, he walks away.