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Old November 9th, 2018, 02:03 PM #21
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I like the mixed reactions to Hal's actions,. It makes it feel more genuine. I'm interested in seeing if there is another incident in the future that might throw this over the edge, either good or bad.

I would be a little wary over how Hal is presented. He seems a bit too perfect, if you get what I'm saying. Flaws and conflict are what make characters relateable and sympathetic. I would keep that in mind for future chapters.
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Old November 9th, 2018, 11:21 PM #22
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Chapter Ten

Hal was sitting at the bar, trying to figure out what he’d eat. He was a little early for Kat’s presentation of Smokey to Lieutenant Stone, and he was also hungry. He also had a planned date with Kat. Pizza sounded good.

“Ernie, could I get a supreme pizza with triple pepperoni?” he asked.

“Sure thing,” Ernie said.

“How much is it?” Hal asked.

“Ah… on the house,” Ernie said.

Hal gave Ernie a look, then pulled out ten dollars.

“Keep the change,” he said, setting it on the counter.

Ernie took the money, shaking his head. “I’ll add a drink to the order,” he replied. “Your usual Diet Mountain Dew?”

“Sounds good,” Hal said.

Were Kat and Hal on the outs? That question had come in to play. The Pink Ranger – Ernie had long ago deduced the identities of the superheroes who protected Angel Grove – had to have been shaken up by Hal trying to fight those Tengas. It had been brutal, too.

Not that Hal was a bad guy. Far from it. There was a difference. Ernie had volunteered to serve in the Marine Corps and had seen combat in Grenada. He had also figured out that Hal was involved with the Air Force unit that was engaging those alien robots. Maybe they were both keeping their secrets from each other… that had to be the issue.

He put the pizza in the over, chuckling a little. If anything, Hal was… an interesting mix. The two of them both shared an enjoyment of the same radio talk show host and had laughed uproariously at a song that was a send-up of a certain United States senator.

Hal sat back to wait, nursing his soda. He soon saw Kat arrive with Smokey. She greeted him with a warm smile. Ernie noticed, too, and figured they must have patched it up. She went over some of the training. Lieutenant Stone and the duo of Bulk and Skull arrived as well.

The presentation went well, then Smokey was barking and headed towards the kitchen.

“The pizza!” Ernie said, heading to the kitchen. He came back through the cloud of smoke – holding the pizza Hal had ordered was a nice, black frisbee. One that probably could take one of those robots out, Hal thought.

“Sorry, Hal,” Ernie said. “I’ll get a replacement going. This one is on the house.”

“Well, I’ll take the other one,” Hal offered with a smile.

“In case a hostile giant bird shows up?” Ernie asked.

“Waste not, want not,” Hal said.

There was a slight clearing of a throat, and Hal turned to see Trini giving him a dirty look.

“You shouldn’t make light out of what you had to do,” she said.

“Sometimes, if you ain’t laughin’, you’re cryin’,” Hal said. “Not really in the mood for a debate Trini. My pizza just got burned to a crisp.”

“Yeah, Ernie’s forgotten more than one meal in the oven,” Trini said, but then she went bacll to the original lecture. “Hal, you really need to re-think how you view things sometimes. Especially given what happened.”

“Trini, those Tengas – well, that’s what the Angel Grove PD said they were called – were the ones who started that fight, not me. They had a very serious failure in their victim-selection process,” Hal said. “For one of them, it turned out to be a terminal failure. If I hadn’t fought, I’m very sure Kat would have been hurt. Sucks for the Tengas, but Kat, Adam, and Tanya were safe. It’s one of the least tragic outcomes.”

Trini thought it over and sighed. There wasn’t going to be much chance of changing Hal’s mind, and it had reminded her of the clashes they’d had. One had re-ignited recently.

Hal had favored the barbeque pit that the City Council had wanted to install to replace the Forest Spirit Statue. His project had been to find a way to raise more funds for the maintenance of Angel Grove Park, and he’d decided to kill two birds with one stone by suggesting the resurrection of that pit and relocating the statue to another part of Angel Grove Park – to be determined. The presentation had gone quite well, and the City Council’s vote had been 8-3 in favor of the proposal.

“Hey, Hal, nice presentation,” Bulk said. “And thanks for getting the barbeque pit re-started.”

“No problem,” Hal said.

“Don’t get your hopes up,” Trini said. “I saved it before, I’ll save it again.” She then left, deciding not to continue the fight.

“Save what again?” Kat asked, shifting her glance between departing the former Yellow Ranger and her boyfriend.

“Some statue,” Hal said. “Apparently, it was supposed to become a barbeque pit a few years back, but she had a petition drive to save it. Only, if they keep the statue, the pit doesn’t happen, and the Angel Grove Little League won’t be able to afford to have enough teams – so they’ll have to have cuts. And it’s not being destroyed – it’s going to be kept in storage to be placed in front of a nature center.”

“A nature center,” Kat said.

“Yeah, to be built after the baseball fields are done, not to mention three new hiking trails, a rainy day fund for the Youth Center, and upgrades for the lakefront park,” Hal said.

Kat gave Hal a skeptical look.

“When did you get an appreciation for nature?” Kat asked.

“Well, Kat, I always did appreciate it. Sometimes, I’ll admit, I prefer that to be from a distance, but there is beauty in nature,” Hal said.

“Oh, and what do you find beautiful about trees?” Kat asked.

“What is done with them after they’ve been cut down,” Hal responded.

Kat’s jaw dropped.

“What is done after they have been cut down?” she asked.

“Yeah. Books, pencils, houses – like the one you helped build last year, paper, rulers, baseball bats…” Hal’s voice trailed off as he noticed the dirty look Kat was giving him.

“You’re a great guy, Hal,” Kat said. “But in some areas, I think you’re also definitely a work in progress.”

She got up and went to another table.

“Guess the pizza date is off,” Hal told himself, sighing as Ernie delivered the freshly-baked pizza.
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Old November 10th, 2018, 11:48 AM #23
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Lol. Nice turn in the end. Interested in seeing where this leads. He's starting to come across as somebody that sees things as a means to an end. Very black and white. Interesting dynamic.

Remind me though, was Kat an environmentalist? I don't strongly recall that trait as hers more than it was Trini's.
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Old November 10th, 2018, 04:29 PM #24
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BrownRangerKev wrote: View Post

Lol. Nice turn in the end. Interested in seeing where this leads. He's starting to come across as somebody that sees things as a means to an end. Very black and white. Interesting dynamic.

Remind me though, was Kat an environmentalist? I don't strongly recall that trait as hers more than it was Trini's.
During the episode "Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise," she was not upset about losing that surfing competition because they had to destroy a monster that was polluting the water.

So, she is not as extreme as Trini in that regard, but she might take exception to what she perceives as a complete lack of concern when it comes to taking care of the planet.

At the same time... Hal is trying to do good in other areas. She's more upset at the insensitivity.
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Old November 11th, 2018, 08:22 PM #25
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Chapter Eleven

“I messed up, didn’t I?” Hal asked Ernie.

“You could have been less flippant about the environment. Look, I know what happened with your uncle’s sister-in-law, but Kat doesn’t,” Ernie said. “She’s a little irritated with you, but I’m sure she’d understand.”

Hal nodded, just as he heard Bulk and Skull telling Lieutenant Stone about Smokey running off.

“You mean you let our brand-new search-and-rescue dog run away?” Stone shouted. He began to march the two off.

Hal got up as well.

“Ernie, save the pizza. I’ll come back for it,” he said.

Kat was also getting up, having overheard the conversation.

“Hey, Kat.”

She turned around to see Hal.

“Yes?” she asked.

“I know you’re mad about how insensitive I was, but could I help look for Smokey?” Hal asked.

Kat smiled. Yeah, Hal had bad moments and could be insensitive to some important things, but deep down, he was a good person. Even that flap over the statue had come from a desire to do good.

“Sure,” she said.

“We’ll take my car,” Hal said.

Kat and Hal left, but not before Hal left Ernie a note to give to Kat’s friends, in case they were wondering.

_ * _ * _

Hal had also taken the time to buy some sodas. The two had talked a bit on the drive, with Hal explaining the backstory to his skepticism about environmentalism. That had patched up the fight, with Hal again promising to try to keep an open mind about things.

They pulled into a parking area near a hiking trail Kat had used to train Smokey. Hal popped the trunk of his Honda Passport, and pulled out a small GPS as well as two pairs of binoculars. He also pulled out some beef jerky.

“Perhaps this might help attract him,” Hal said.

“He’d probably go to one of these areas, we trained him in the forest some,” Kat said.

Hal took a look around. Then he paused.

“You said you trained him to locate dangers?” Hal asked.

“Yes, why?” Kat replied.

Hal pointed to a glint, then raised his binoculars.

“Let’s check that out,” he said.

It turned out Smokey wasn’t there, but they had found some wrecked vehicles of the California National Guard.

“I heard about this,” Hal said. “They were doing a road march to the NTC in 1992 when they came across a roadblock caused by the Landes quake. They got out to take a breather while they looked over maps, when an aftershock hit. The troops were okay, but the M113 and a couple of trucks went off the road.”

“I don’t recall that quake getting a lot of coverage,” Kat said.

“It was pretty big – more powerful than Northridge in `94 or the World Series quake of `89,” Hal said. “But it was in a less populated area. Mostly shook up desert. But it did its share of damage.”

They looked, and Hal could tell there were some weapons – and they were unsecured. Hal marked the position on the GPS.

“Some of this stuff…” Kat said.

“Let’s leave that for the pros,” Hal said. “That said, grabbing a couple of radios might not be a bad idea.”

Hal went to look for the radios and came up with a pair of handheld radios. They continued to walk, calling for the dog, when Hal saw the bad news first.

“Those robots,” Hal said.

“Not good,” Kat agreed.

“Do we follow them, or do we get help?” Hal asked.

“We have the radios, we could do both,” Kat said. Please, Hal, just give me enough room to morph, she didn’t say.

“Splitting up would be a bad idea,” Hal said. “But we can use the radios to contact help after we follow these guys. They have a frequency called GUARD.”

“121.5 megahertz – my uncle is a fighter pilot with the RAAF,” Kat said.

“There’s also 243, we can use that one. Each day, I get a verification code. Today’s is Echo Charlie Bravo, and we should hear Tango Whiskey Golf in response,” Hal said. “Just in case.”

Kat nodded.

“One other thing, Kat: Say it’s an Alpha Five situation. For some reason, that phrase got the attention of the Power Rangers,” Hal said.

“Good thinking,” Kat said. Damn it, Hal, why do you have to be so… this would be wonderful, but I don’t have Zordon’s permission to let you know I’m a Ranger.

“Okay, then, let’s see just what they are up to,” Hal said. The two of them went. Unknown to Hal, Kat had hit the transmit button on her communicator. Every word of what they had spoken had just been received by Alpha and Billy.
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Old November 15th, 2018, 07:36 PM #26
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Chapter Twelve

Kat’s frustration with Hal coming along ended within ten minutes. Upon coming across the monster, Digster, they had heard the plan, and then tried to make a getaway, only to be pursued by Cogs.

Kat had twisted her ankle while fleeing, but Hal went back for her and helped her back towards the wrecked Army vehicles. She wasn’t surprised to find that the radios hadn’t been the only thing Hal had salvaged from the wrecked vehicles – he had also retrieved a pistol and had sent several rounds at the Cogs, causing them to back off.

He had done so twice more before the gun locked back, empty. Then she heard barking. Smokey arrived and chased the Cogs up a tree. Hal quickly was able to come up with a rope for Smokey’s collar, and the two of them made their way to a hiding place.

Hal reloaded the M9, then pulled out the radio.

“Any US Air Force on this frequency, this is Dragon. I’m calling to report an Alpha Five situation, repeat, an Alpha Five situation. Authentication Echo Charlie Bravo,” he said.

_ *_ * _

In the Power Chamber, the Rangers heard that call. Alpha had started monitoring the GUARD frequency.

“Dragon, this is Sentry Robin. Repeat authentication,” a voice said over the radio.

“I repeat, Echo Charlie Bravo. I am confirming an Alpha Five situation,” Hal’s voice came in clear.

“Confirming Echo Charlie Bravo with Tango Whiskey Golf. Add the number of games a NFL team plays in its regular season to this frequency,” the controller said.

Hal did that.

“Sentry Robin, this is Dragon transmitting.”

“Dragon, state the situation,” Sentry Robin ordered.

Hal described the plot he and Kat had overheard.

“We need F-16s to blast that cave – suggest Golf Bravo Uniform Two Four bombs with Bravo Lima Uniform One Zero Niner cores,” he said. “Also confirm a wounded civilian and a SAR dog that need evacuation.”

“Roger,” the Sentry controller said.

Billy went to run a simulation on the Power Chamber’s computers. He had a bad feeling that the plan might not be completely thought through.

_ * _ * _

“What did you suggest?” Kat asked.

“Using conventional hard-target penetrators to seal the cave,” Hal said. “Should keep the lava from doing anything, and if we’re lucky, bury the Cogs and the other robots.”

“Okay, now what?” she asked.

Two beams of light arrived and were revealed to be the Yellow and Green Rangers.

“Now the Power Rangers get you and Smokey out of here,” Hal said. “Rangers, I noticed a small robot operating levers on the head of the monster. Take it out if you can.”

“The Yellow Ranger will get her to the Power Chamber to be checked out,” the Green Ranger said. “I’ll teleport you over to the base – they’re prepping your fighters.”

Before Hal could protest, the Green Ranger grabbed him and teleported him out of the way.

“Coast’s clear, Kat,” the Yellow Ranger said.

“Zeo Ranger I, Pink!” Kat called out, morphing.

_ * _ * _

Hal arrived at the base in time to get airborne. He scored two Quadrafighter kills, then was one of four F-16s to drop their bombs on the cave, sealing it off.

On the ground, the Power Rangers used the Zeo Blaster to take out Digster after the Red Zeo Ranger sliced the mini-robot on Digster’s head in two.

Hal finished the debriefings to head to the Youth Center. Kat wasn’t there yet, and he ended up waiting an hour and a half before she arrived. She was still limping. Hal helped her to a chair, and they split a pizza and some drinks. Smokey had been returned to Lieutenant Stone by the Power Rangers, and all was well.

Ernie watched, with a little smile. Hal had always been a good kid, but underneath, he could tell there was fury stirring underneath an effort to stay pleasant. Kat had been hurt – he’d heard that they’d had a close call with some Cogs, but that Hal had found a way to warn the Air Force and the Power Rangers. He’d had no clue he’d been going out with one, Ernie realized.

That wasn’t unexpected. It hadn’t taken long for him to figure out who they were – and then there had been that talk after the Halloween party three years ago when Alpha Five had crashed the costume party. At the time Ernie had thought that he’d awarded first place to a little boy. But that some of the kids he knew were Power Rangers – no shock.

He’d heard the occasional beeps on their watches. He’d even seen some teleport at times. Even though he’d been an infantryman, he soon had a rough idea of who they were. That had changed when Alpha had come back after the party. He’d found himself teleported to their Command Center, and he was asked to keep their identities secret. He’d had no problems with doing that, and he’d become some of the few in Angel Grove who were aware of the Rangers’ secret.

Since then, he’d kept an eye on things, he’d put their orders on the house (albeit they sometimes still paid), and he had a means to contact Alpha and Zordon. As he closed up the Youth Center for the night, he went to a phone.

“Yeah, hey Alpha, we gotta talk.”

Last edited by fb111a; November 15th, 2018 at 07:55 PM.
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