While Andrew Hartford is busy calibrating their Morphers to the vehicles, the gathered non-Overdrive Rangers decide to talk.
"So," Adam says, "Anyone else have a family back home that they're looking to get back to? I know Rocky and our son can't wait to hear about the Operation Overdrive Rangers."
Bridge nods in understanding. “It’s been nice helping out an old Ranger team,” he says, “But it’ll be even better heading home to see my daughter again.”
“'Daughter?'” Xander asks, and Bridge nods.
“Eve’s three years old now,” Bridge says, and the smile on his face is the kind of fond borne of unconditional love. “She was born a year after my team defeated Grumm, our main villain.”
“Who’s your Soulmate?” Tori asks.
“Well, it’s kind of a long story,” Bridge says, and while most people would brace themselves when they heard those words exit Bridge’s mouth the Rangers around him just nod.
“That’s not too surprising given your status as a Ranger,” Adam says, “Most of us have some long story involving our Soulmate.”
“Or Soulmates,” Xander corrects, reminding the gathered Rangers about Vida and Chip. (Remind them again, that is- he has a tendency to wax on about his Soulmates without realizing it.)
“Yeah,” Bridge says, “Speaking of Soulmates, I’ve got four of ‘em back home in the future.”
Tori does a quick calculation in her head based on her knowledge of the S.P.D. team and realizes that what makes the most sense is- “Wait a moment. Are your whole team your Soulmates?”
“Makes things both easier and harder, depending on the day,” Bridge says, “And originally, yes. The original five members of the B-Squad team- Jack, Sky, Z, Syd, and I- are all Soulmates. The current team- Syd, Z, Dani, Vasko, and I- are not Soulmates. When Z was pregnant with Eve, Jack resigned as the Red Ranger, started working at a charity, and watched Eve when the rest of us are out on missions. We all got promoted then, and Dani joined the team as the yellow Ranger- Syd refused to give up pink, even though it’s technically a lower position in the team. Then Sky got promoted to commander of Earth’s S.P.D. when Cruger got promoted to Commander of all of S.P.D., and Z’s temporary Ranger replacement from when she was pregnant, Vasko Ilthildrax, joined the team as the new Yellow because once again, everyone got promoted and Z was now Blue and Dani was now Green and Syd still refused to give up pink. So now my original team’s a bit split up job-wise, but we’re all still living in the same house as Soulmates and parents to the same wonderful little girl.”
Tori tries to keep track of all of that but, like pretty much every one of the other Rangers, has gotten a bit lost along the way. Bridge is clearly an intelligent man- he wouldn’t become a Ranger, much less a Red, without being one- but his way of speaking is a hard one to understand sometimes.
“So,” Adam says slowly, as if he’s probably still trying to figure out what the hell Bridge just said (totally understandable). “Your original team were all Soulmates, but two of you now have different jobs and you now have two Rangers who aren’t your Soulmates, but you and your Soulmates all live together and one of your Soulmates had a daughter that you’re all raising together?”
Bridge nods, giving Adam a grin. “See, someone gets it.”
“How many years out are you from when Broodwing dragged us into the future?” Kira asks, and Tori makes a note to ask Kira when the Dino Thunder team ended up in the future because damn, that sounds awesome.
“About five years, give or take a few months,” Bridge says, “Eve was born three and a half years ago, Jack resigned about half a year before that, we defeated Grumm about half a year before that, and we met you about half a year before then.”
“Damn,” Tori says, “It’s been longer for you than it’s been for me since your Big Boss battle.” She couldn’t possibly picture already having a three-year-old child- three years ago, she and Blake weren’t even living together, much less emotionally (or financially) capable of taking care of a child.
“But Bridge is still a Ranger to this day, unlike the rest of us,” Xander says, “Apparently when being a Ranger is literally your job description you get to stay in practice.”
“Says the earth wizard who lives in an enchanted forest,” Kira scoffs, and Xander shrugs.
“Comes with the territory when one of your Soulmates is the long-lost son of a witch and her warlock Soulmate,” Xander says with a grin, and fuck, their lives really are strange. Tori’s gotten so used to certain aspects of being a Ranger that sometimes it takes a statement like that to remind her of how weird their lives must seem to ordinary people. Having four Soulmates is probably the least strange thing about certain Rangers.
“Which reminds me,” Tori says, “We’ve gotta meet up sometime once this whole mission is over and you can introduce your Soulmates to my team. Blake would love to meet them, Cam has always wanted to pick the brains of the Mystic Force team for knowledge about magic, and the rest of the team would enjoy seeing magic.”
“Let’s make a date of it,” Xander says with an easy grin. “I’m never quite sure where Nick and Madison are travelling, but Vida, Chip, and I would love to have you in Briarwood, and I’m sure Udonna would love to meet any other Rangers-" Xander's face gets a bit thoughtful as he continues with, "-As I’m pretty sure she’s never left the forest or Briarwood, I'm pretty bloody sure.”
“But back to Bridge’s future for just a moment,” Kira says with a slight smile, turning to Bridge. “So Sky ended up being part of your relationship, too?”
Bridge grins and nods. “Yep.”
“Glad to hear it,” Kira says, and Tori processes the fact that Kira-
“You visited the future, Kira?” Adam asks, and Kira nods.
“Long story,” She says.
Adam’s grin and tone speak to a years-old inside joke. And to a Ranger- the phrase "it's a long story" tends to start to feel like a joke, especially after Bridge just said it ten minutes ago. “It always is, when it comes to Rangers." He offers Kira a knowing look. "It probably involved aliens and time travel and something to do with villains' plans going awry, didn't it?"
Kira shrugs. "Guilty as charged."
"Looks like you'll have plenty of stories to tell at the planned meetup," Tori says.
"If Operation Overdrive's problems last for much longer, we all will," Adam says, "And probably not all of them will be fun."
The humor in the room dips for a moment as the more 'familial' aspect of the conversation (the way that most Rangers just connect when meeting, able to let the seriousness of their duties slide from their thoughts for a moment when among others who understand what being a Ranger is like) slides away, replaced by a certain level of apprehension towards the future. None of them are scared- they've all won their wars before, defeated great evil and saved entire worlds- but they know the dangers of fighting villains such as these. No fight is easy, and people will probably get hurt. The five gathered in this living room know that better than most, know it better even than the five Overdrive Rangers talking in the game room.
"But in the end things will work out happily," Bridge says, "They always do, because we're Rangers, and we always succeed. And the Rangers downstairs are going to win, once they get their Powers back, and they'll know that too."
Tori smiles at Bridge's faith and optimism. It's rather reassuring to know that Bridge's optimism isn't based in naivety, but instead something that has been maintained after war and years of being a Ranger. "Bridge is right. We all know that despite the villains, everything's gonna end up pretty cool in the end-"
She's cut off as Spencer enters the room. The Rangers immediately stand, relaxation slipping away from their shoulders to be replaced by stances ready for battle. "Yes, Spencer?" Adam asks.
"The Overdrive Rangers would like to speak to you all," Spencer says. "And I also have the toast that Master Bridge asked for."
Bridge grins. "Is it-?"
"Buttery, Master Bridge?" Spencer asks, and Bridge nods. "The butteriest," Spencer promises with a smile, and Bridge grins like a child. As Tori watches, it's almost hard to imagine this excitable man leading a Ranger team and being a father back home.
And yet...it kind of works. Bridge is far from the strangest Ranger she's met since her time on active duty, and Tori much prefers carefree enthusiasm and excitement to pessimism and sarcasm. She loves Cam and Hunter, don't get her wrong, but there's a reason why her best friends are Shane and Dustin and her Soulmate Blake.
Spencer passes Bridge the toast- which the Red Ranger immediately starts devouring- and the veteran Rangers head off to the game room to meet with the Overdrive Rangers.