Work Header

Ranger Danger

Work Text:

          It was a dark and stormy Saturday night. Fortunately, the rangers were off duty. Everyone was in the break room in various stages of relaxation when Doc walked in. Zach was at a table with his kids. He was drinking coffee; the kids were eating ice cream sundaes.
          "Decided to stay in, Captain?"
          Zach gestured at the window, where sheets of water poured down, illuminated by blasts of lightning. "We decided not to risk it."
          "Can't say I blame you." Doc glanced around. Niko was curled up on one of the couches, data pad in hand. She might have been working, but Doc guessed she was reading the copy of The Mists of Avalon that she had downloaded yesterday. She looked up, smiled, and went back to reading her book. She was oblivious to the cluster of rookies staring worshipfully at her, trying to pretend that they were really interested in the Tri-D.
          *Maybe I should get them a bucket to drool in. Hmmm...Nah.*
          Doc took his own mug, coffee with a shot of Jack Daniels, over to the couch in front of the Tri-D. Goose was sprawled across most of it, idly flipping through channels with the remote. That the Tri-D was working in an electrical storm that had fried several main computer banks was a testament to Goose's and Doc's tinkering.
          *Thing probably has more backup systems than the central computer, at this point.* Out loud, he asked, "Anything on, my Gooseman?"
          Goose favored him with a raised eyebrow. "Not really. Just the usual network crap." He continued flipping. Channels sped by at three second intervals. Doc got dizzy watching.
          "Goose, you're giving me a headache with that. Why don't you just tune in Saturday Videorama, and leave it while you decide what to watch?"
          "Absolutely not!" snapped Zach. "I don't want to see another video, ever!" The captain looked ready to spit, he was so mad. Zach Jr. and Jessie, on the other hand, looked positively amused.
          "Don't tell me; let me guess. They're still playing our video, aren't they?" The snickers from around the room answered his question. Zach grimaced, and turned back to his coffee. Zach Jr. and Jessie suddenly had coughing fits. Doc grinned, and turned back to Goose. However, the supertrooper had stopped channel surfing. He was sitting up, staring intently at the screen.
          "What'd you find, Goose?" Doc looked at the screen, but all that was on was an ad for skin dye.
          "I dunno. I caught the end of a preview. There's some show on next, supposed to be about the Galaxy Rangers."
          Everyone looked up at that. "A show about us? You sure?"
          "I think that's what they said. We'll know in a minute." On screen, the skin dye commercial had given way to one advertising Spaceliner Cruises. Doc, Niko, and Zach looked dubious.
          The commercials finally ended, and the Movie-of-the-Week logo spun, as a deep voice proclaimed, "And now, our World Premier Movie! Steve Desmond, Mace Bailey, Cynthia Fowler, and Luis Ocampo star in--Ranger Danger!"
          Jessie paused, her spoon halfway to her mouth. Niko dropped her book. Zach nearly dropped his mug, but caught it in time. Various jaws dropped, Doc's among them. All thirty-seven people in the lounge fell silent and turned to watch.
          *"Ranger Danger", where have I heard that before?*
          As the movie opened on a desolate desert scene, Doc racked his brain. He was certain he had heard that before, as a joke.
          *Bennett. Gordon Bennett, my old drinking buddy from college. I was telling him about my job, all the crazy things that seem to happen, and he nicknamed my stories "ranger dangers". When was that, six, seven months ago?*
          {Out of the sunrise, a cavalry charge of rangers rode. Their leader was a squared-jawed, no-nonsense sort who came across as stiffer than Plasti-Steel.}
          *He didn't. He couldn't have. He's out of work, dammit. He was going to try for a job filming documentaries. He wouldn't have written...*
          {Shadows approached across the horizon. Ranger Commander Dan Danger raised his hand, calling his troop to halt. The shadows loomed closer, raising clouds of dust with their approach. Quickly, the shadows resolved themselves into armored soldiers, on horses that resembled skeletons. A garish red warship (obviously made of plastic) screamed out of the sky. Lazer fire erupted, cutting down riders from their horses, and sending the rest of the rangers into a dust-raising panic, as Danger tried vainly to rally his troops.}
          "Oh yeah, right. We run around like Bovo chickens at the stockyards when the Queen shows up." Ranger Haram sneered at the screen. There was a mumbled assent from the room. Doc relaxed a little.
          *Well, I didn't tell Gord anything like this. It must just be a coincidence. Thank God!*
          {Ranger Danger regained consciousness tied to a bed of red and purple velvet. The Royal Princess (an "alien" in purple skin-dye, stilleto heels, and a cone bra) slunk over to the captive Danger.
          "Well, my dear Dan Danger, you've fallen right into my clutches." She leaned down, and whispered into his ear, "How does it feel, knowing that you're the only survivor of Kirwane?" Her hand trailed down his chest...}
          Zach Jr.'s eyes bugged out. Zach Sr. clapped his hands over a protesting Jessie's eyes. There were low whistles from the audience. Goose snickered. "Bet the Queen would just love this. Maybe we should send her a copy."
          Leiutenant Chase, a Space Navy liasion, snorted. "I'd rather send her whoever came up with this shit. 'Kirwane', indeed!" He was highly insulted. Chase had been one of the 80 humans captured in the raid on Kirwin, back when he was still an ensign.
          "I can't believe that that is supposed to be Kirwin," Zozo complained. "We don't have any deserts!"
          "Creative License, obviously," grumped Zach.
          "Danger there looks kind of like you, Captain. Think it's intentional?" Goose was grinning.
          "He does not look like me. Why would he? This is fiction."
          {Danger played along with the Princess, tricking her into loosening his bonds. He promptly escaped.}
          Zach looked ill. "I don't believe this crap. Who came up with this?" Doc endeavored to look innocent.
          {Danger raced back to headquarters, to report the Empire's plan of conquest. He was debriefed by a crusty "old soldier" type, who promptly assigned dan a new crew. Three new rangers were introduced.
Bart Black, a maverick. A completely uncontrollable cowboy, with an "I don't take any shit" attitude. Needless to say, he wore all black.}
          Goose stared at the screen, looked down at the casual black outfit that he had taken to wearing, and looked back up at the screen. "Now just a minute..." Zach chuckled. "Problem, Goose?" Doc did his best to not wince visibly. He didn't like how this was shaping up...
          {Dina Starr, a scientist (of surprisingly empty head), hovered next to Black. She spent most of the briefing checking her nails, adjusting her hairstyle, and trying to get Bart to notice her.}
          Niko squawked in protest. So did Jessie. However, it was Ranger Parker, fresh out of the Academy, and the only other woman in the room, who found her voice.
          "Two centuries of equal rights, and this is what they come up with? This worthless little TWIT?!" she shouted at the screen. If looks could kill, the Tri-D would have exploded just then.
          {Rounding out the crew was Dr. Wesley Hustace, a half-man, half-machine computer jockey who spoke in semi-incoherent jargon.}
          Doc was rendered utterly speechless. *If you had anything to do with this Gord, anything at all, I swear I'll kill you.* When he recovered his voice, he said, "I dunno, I don't think that looks like me at all. Now the other two..."
          "That, that, frippery, does not look anything like me!" protested Niko. Goose growled assent. "That woman's face looks like it was painted on."
          {Ranger Danger and his new team, the Dangerous Rangers (wince), took off, determined to foil the plot of the evil Empire. For some reason, they needed to infiltrate a vicious gang to do this. The gang was led by a sultry human woman, who instantly made a successful play for Ranger Black, annoying Ranger Starr.}
          There were more snickers. Niko turned bright red. Goose cursed under his breath.
          *Oh God. Did I tell Gord about Daisy? Please, don't let her be watching. I don't need an angry Irishwoman gunning for me personally...*
          {The Dangerous Rangers got the info they needed, but the gang found out who they were, and attacked. The Rangers were forced to don disguises and false names, in order to get off-planet. Black disguised himself as a gambler, Danger a gentleman. Hustace became a dentist, and Starr ended up as a dancehall girl named Louise in a pink dress.}
          "WHO THE HELL TOLD THEM ABOUT THAT?!" Niko hit a decible level previously only dreamed of. Zozo covered his ears and wimpered. Doc felt like joining him. "I do not believe this. I thought everyone swore they wouldn't mention that ever again!" She glared around the room. Half a dozen people suddenly discovered fascinating spots on the floor.
          *Me and my big mouth...I should never have mentioned "Louise". If she even suspects it was me, I'm dead.*
          By this time, it was obvious who the movie was supposed to be based on. Doc spent the last half hour praying that no one would figure out that this was his fault. he had given up on the "coincidence" theory.
          {The Dangerous Rangers foiled the plans of the Princess and her evil Empire, though she escaped to plot her revenge. They rode off into a binary sunset, on robotic steeds. (Black's was black, and Starr's was fluorescent pink)}
          The movie finally cut to the credits. First up was a very large tag proclaiming "Based on true events". This was greeted with boos and hisses from everyone. Then the music kicked in.
          "Oh no," Zach groaned. He held his head in his hands. Sure enough, the background music was the single the Rangers had sung as the centerpiece of their performance at Krebb's Battle of the Bands.
          As soon as Doc saw Gordon Bennett's name in the credits, he began to edge for the door. No one knew he was Doc's friend, but all the same...
          *Be cool, Hartford. He never told you about this, so he probably won't credit you for the inspiration. You're just an old drinking buddy, you had nothing to do with the film. He didn't mention your name, he didn't...*
          As everyone watched intently, hoping to get some clue as to who was responsible for this monstrosity, the final credit popped up, filling the entire screen:

"Special Thanks to Ranger Walter Hartford, without whom this project would not have been possible"

          *Thank you, Gordon. I'm going to kill you.*
          As the credit faded to the copyright date, thirty-seven sets of eyes turned and fixed on Doc. He put on his best smile, and edged closer to the door.
          "Um, did I mention that I have this friend who writes for the Tri-D...?"
          One electronic book, six mugs, a melted ice cream sundae, and the remote control flew at his head. Doc scrambled out the door, Goose, Niko, and Zach in pursuit. Most of the lounge followed, the better to watch.
          Zach Jr. looked at the door, then thought better of it. He picked up the remote, and plopped down next to Buzzwang, who was still staring at the screen. After a moment, Jessie joined them.
          Some movie. Think they'll make a sequel?"
          "Oh, I hope so!" Buzzwang was practically gushing. Zach and Jessie stared at him.
          "You liked it?!" Jessie was incredulous.
          "Well, sure. It was neat. I think a lot of people will like it."
          "For Doc's sake, you better hope not." Zach started flipping.
He just missed the ad proclaiming: "Ranger Danger - the series! Premiers Friday night at seven..."

-END--(for now)