Two long days later an alarm the SPD auxiliary command HQ went off, sending everyone immediately into high gear. Bridge rushed to the command console, his fingers flying across the keyboard on the screen as he uncoded the message that had been routed into the command center and had triggered the alarm. By his side Sky looked down at the message, reading it quickly once Bridge finished his task.
The coded message Jack had sent was still coded even after Bridge had unscrambled the lines of text. It was a set of coordinates along with a time. Sky knew instantly that information spelled out exactly where Kim and Beth’s morphers were kept and where the two women were being held within the building. The time was Jack’s window for the operation to take place, which was a little less than an hour away.
The second Sky was done he took a deep, steadying breath, his head turning to lock gazes with the black Dino Thunder ranger.
“You’re up,” said Sky said to Tommy.
As soon as the words left Sky’s mouth Tommy was moving, prompting the other members of the Dino Thunder team to match their mentor. Conner rushed, almost as if he’d used his powers to pass Dr. O, making the older man slow and then stop. Tommy regarded the red Dino Thunder ranger with a scowl. He cared deeply for the ‘kids’… ‘his’ team, but Conner was in his way.
“You’re sure this is a good idea?” asked Conner, still more than a bit concerned about Dr. O going in alone as he stared down his former teacher, the others quickly catching up and creating a wall of worried rangers before Tommy.
“Conner, I was a ranger when you were in grade school. I think I can handle it,” assured Tommy as he hurriedly moved towards the door even as his team followed him.
“We know that Dr. O, but we want you to keep a clear head. Kim can make you crazy and you know it,” remarked Ethan, memories of when the two had fought when Xondar had attacked over two years (their time) prior and how the resulting affects on the team as a whole had been… devastating echoing in his mind.
“And you need to be sure you are careful about what you’re ‘hearing’ from Kim,” added Kira with a forlorn expression. “If Charlie decides to do anything to her before you get there…”
Leaving the rest unspoken Tommy pursed his lips but nodded. While he knew he could use the connection he had with Kim to locate her, he knew if he opened it wide and found her in pain it could debilitate him. He would have to rely on Jack’s intel once he was inside, even though he desperately wanted to confirm Kim was alright.
“Just remember, the cavalry’s right behind you. We’ll see you, Kim and Beth soon. Just be careful,” Trent stated even as Tommy gave them all a slight smile before they parted, allowing Tommy to move past them to stand before Sky, Syd, Bridge and Sam.
Looking down at the computer console Tommy did his best to memorize the two locations until Syd reached out with a small device the size of a cell phone.
“The coordinates are entered and you’ll get a vibration when you reach them.”
Relief rushed through Tommy as he realized he wasn’t going to have to worry about making a mistake. The two coordinates on the device also gave him the floor and approximate location of the coordinates, so he could quickly cut through the building. With a small, almost cocky grin his head raised as he looked at the four SPD rangers before him.
“So, who’s giving me a lift?”
Jack and Z had taken two days to locate everything they needed for the plan to go off without a problem: the times when people took ‘breaks’, where Kim and Beth were being held, as well as the location of their morphers. Most of all they had spent the time making nice with Charlie and her cohorts, reinforcing the faux relationship to keep their enemies from realizing their true intent.
Jack had quickly ingratiated himself with Charlie and he and Z were able to ensconce themselves in Charlie’s inner circle without significant effort. The fact that the woman believed anyone who had worked for SPD and seen its ‘true nature’ would want to turn traitor against the SPD had made it all the easier to fool her.
He and Z had stayed at the base, taking advantage of the emergency quarters there and learned everything they could about the bond between Morgana and Gruum’s former allies and Charlie’s group. They found quickly that the relationship was tenuous at best. Obviously the primary alliance was between Morgana and Charlie, and Broodwing and the other former Gruum generals had a different opinion of the former Red Ranger…
Z and Jack realized instantly that it was something they could use to their benefit.
The urgency to get their message back to Sky was palpable, and when Kim and Beth had been dragged back to answer more of Charlie’s ‘questions’ they knew they had no more time. Jack had Z taking point… or actually several points as she split herself and situated herself at each intersection near an auxiliary communications terminal in the first level of the SPD HQ. While Z guarded the corridors for signs of any patrol, Jack sent the message to start the rescue and take down of Charlie and her people. As soon as he was done he did his best to cover his tracks and rushed out to Z, who called back her other selves.
The message was sent, now they needed the morphers.
Again, under the guise of his black market salesman role, Jack and Z made their way to the secured area of the command level. As they passed the door where Kim and Beth were locked away they both sped up. Z left a duplicate behind at the corridor intersection as Jack moved to phase through the door to the locked storage area. Once inside he headed directly to the wall safe that he’d learned ‘in passing’ that Charlie had locked up the pink Dino Thunder and Nova morphers.
Hoping that he wasn’t making a big mistake and that he’d learned everything he needed to about the safe, like that there wasn’t going to be an alarm go off when he tried this, Jack phased his hand through the small metal door. Inside the open space within the safe his fingertips solidified and he poked about with them until he felt the cool metal of Kim’s gauntlet, reverted back from her morpher once it had been separated from her. Without thinking for a second he wrapped his fingers around it and pulled it through the solid door. Seconds later he was staring down at the silver bracelet now in his hand.
Quickly he slipped it in his pocket and repeated the process, this time pulling out Nova’s morpher.
Turning, Jack headed for the doorway and once again slid his phased self through the solid object, coming out on the other side to see Z’s worried face. He gave her a thumbs up signal and she visibly relaxed. Jack tilted his head as he silently reminder her that they weren’t done. With practiced stealth the two moved away from the doorway and hurried down the corridors, headed for the location that Jack had sent in his message to Sky – a lone trash can just inside the fifth floor of the stairwell. As he and Z headed to the door, they glanced both directions and Jack carefully opened the door to the stairwell.
Inside saw the burnished silver container and he thrust the two morphers into the slot, knowing that they’d already been filling the can with paper and other dry trash to keep Tommy from having to dive into the bottom of the can to get the morphers.
As soon as they settled in place Jack turned and nodded to Z, and her other selves merged back with her. Since they were already in the staircase they headed down to the third floor and exited, circling back to the elevators and pressing the button to take them back up to the command level where they were going to wait with Charlie and her people.
As they waited for the elevator Jack thought that all that was left was the waiting, and once they set off the alarms, it would all be about timing.
On the hour Tommy stood along with his team and the members of SPD in the woods, morphed and ready to facilitate both Kim and Beth’s rescue but the end of this occupation by Charlie and her people. Sky pointed to Tommy and he nodded, knowing that it was finally time.
In seconds he was invisible and he rushed towards the doors at the HQ before him.
Getting inside was simpler than he had expected. The guards were on a schedule from the looks of it and had just left before he carefully pushed open the door. Then he was in the stairwell, away from any prying eyes. In his hands he had the tracking device and it vibrated in his hand slightly as he climbed the stairs. Each flight he climbed made the machine vibrate harder, and when he finally reached the fifth floor it silently buzzed in his hands like crazy.
His eyes lit on the trash can and moved towards it. Inside he saw a bright glint and he shoved his hand inside, coming in contact with what he immediately recognized as a morpher.
Grasping the item, he pulled out Beth’s Nova morpher, and he quickly shoved it under his arm so he could fish for Kim’s gauntlet. As soon as he had it in hand he shoved it on his wrist for safe keeping before he pressed a button on his tracker to move onto the second location. As it vibrated lowly he rushed up the staircase once again, hurriedly following the machine as it guided him to his wife and daughter.
Another few minutes and he was before the door, which looked locked. He stared at it, thinking that perhaps he was supposed to somehow bust through it before he decided to just try the door handle. Unsurprised he found it gave way, allowing him in. Obviously somewhere in the security system Z and Jack had allowed him to open the door without a code and he smiled briefly behind his helmet.
Quickly he opened and closed the door, knowing that a door opening and closing on its own would be noticed, if anyone did actually come down the corridor and then turned to see the metal cage at the far end of the room he was now in. And within it… the two women that meant the world to him.
“Someone called for a rescue?” said Tommy’s voice from out of nowhere, forcing both Beth and Kim’s heads to jerk up as they searched for the man behind the disembodied voice.
Before their eyes Tommy dissolved into view, two morphers in his hands. He was across the room and at the cage doors before either woman could react, pulling up just shy of the bars as their thrust the morphers through the spaces of the bars.
“Thanks Dad,” replied Beth as she swiftly took her morpher from her father’s hand even as her mom gripped her own morpher and her husband’s wrist instead of simply taking it from him.
“Beth and I already worked out how we’re getting out of here. Can you get out the same way you got in?” questioned Kim, concerned instantly that Tommy had just traded himself for them as he hadn’t opened the cage they were in, leading her to believe that their escape routes were going to have to be different.
“Jack and Z, the two people that are helping with this rescue are making sure that Charlie and her people are a bit… occupied so I have plenty of time to ghost out of here. But I need you two to get moving and go back to the auxiliary base.”
Beth turned her head, her eyes narrowing as she parsed her father’s voice. After years of learning the signs from her mother, uncles and aunts, she knew when he was leaving something out.
“Are you going back to the base as well?”
Tommy frowned, his eyes moving to stare at Beth from behind his visor before he felt Kim’s grip tighten on his wrist. He hadn’t wanted to tell either of them about the plan that was moments from being underway in front of the SPD HQ they now stood in that would pit whatever forces Charlie had against Sky’s people and the Dino Thunder team.
“Tommy… what’s going on?”
“Jack and Z are leading Charlie into a trap. In about a minute the fire alarms will sound and the emergency protocol of the building will start locking down rooms, which will either trap her people here or force them out to the lobby and then out of the building. Sky is betting on the later and the teams are all waiting for them in the courtyard.”
“Then that’s where I’ll teleport us,” announced Beth as she strapped her morpher in place.
“No,” stated Tommy, his tone of voice brooking no argument, even though he knew he’d get one.
“Thomas Oliver, you know you don’t get to make those kinds of decisions,” stated Kim, her words chilling Beth to the bone.
She remembered that tone and was glad her mom’s ire was focused on her dad.
“Beautiful, please… you and Beth have had a rough enough few days…”
Kimberly instantly knew what he was referring to and shut her eyes even as her head fell forward. Since the moment that they’d recognized the connection between them during her rescue from Mesagog’s island they’d both realized the double edged sword it represented. She had used it days ago to spur him to escape and now she knew that she had failed in shielding him from the pain that Charlie’s torture had caused her.
“Guys…” Beth started, interrupting her parents’ moment, unsure of exactly what was going on.
“Look, I can’t tell you what to do, so if you need to be out there… then you need to leave with Beth now.”
“I love you,” said Kim quickly, her hand releasing Tommy’s wrist even as she yanked her gauntlet from his grasp.
“Love you too. I’ll see you both out there…”
Kim slid her gauntlet in place even as Tommy disappeared from view and the door leading out of the room opened and closed suddenly even as the entire building suddenly was engulfed in a horrific blaring alarm, the walls pulsing red as the diversion was launched.
Kim looked to Beth and straightened herself to her full height even as she slapped her gauntlet onto her wrist. She was NOT leaving her husband here or her team to fight.
“We’re going to the courtyard to join the other teams. Let’s go!”
Beth nodded and she strapped her own morpher in place. Two ranger power up calls later, Beth had keyed in the time and place for the time jumps and then with a single touch of her finger, she and Kim were gone.