The disclaimer telling all of you that I don't own any Galaxy Ranger characters just got washed away. This is just an insane idea by insane little old me! Enjoy!
"Why the hell does stuff like this happen to me all the time?" Shane groaned to himself. "All the freaking time!"
"Oh sure," Doc drawled. "Like you're the only one trapped on an energy rig in the middle of the ocean on Planet Maine involved in a shootout with the bad guys!"
"No, I meant my blasters are out of power," Shane gave him a look.
"My charge is getting low as well," Zach grumbled as he steadied his bionic arm. "So much for a typical routine distress call."
"Since when are distress calls ever routine?" Niko asked. She barley ducked the laser fire. "Especially since when the sea miners discover a hidden cache of star stones underwater."
"And sure enough that attracts the lowest of lowlife," Shane snarled as he glared at their opponents, the Black Hole Gang.
"So we're trapped by enemy fire by bandits on an energy rig that could probably blow up at any minute?" Doc quipped. "Things could be worse!"
A flash of lighting crashed through the sky and it started to rain. "You had to say that didn't you Doc?" Zach gave him a look.
"At least we managed to evacuate the crew before we got pinned down," Niko remarked.
"Yeah it'll just be us that gets blasted!" Doc agreed.
"Not if I can help it!" Shane stood up and let himself get hit in the shoulder. He touched his badge and used his implant to create an energy form of himself. He used his arms to blast away at the Black Hole Gang. "Who needs lasers?"
A giant blast rocked the rig. "This whole place is gonna blow!" MaCross, the alien leader of the gang snarled. "We need to retreat! Back to the ship!"
"But boss! We didn't get them star stones!" One of his henchmen shouted.
"If we can't have 'em, nobody will," MaCross snarled as he pulled out a few grenades. He tossed them down a nearby shaft. "FIRE IN THE HOLE!"
"Let's get out of here!" The henchmen screamed as they ran to their space ship parked nearby on the tarmac.
"They're getting away!" Shane shouted.
"Let them! This whole place is gonna blow!" Zach ordered. "Back to the Ranger One!"
Explosions rocked the rig as the Rangers scrambled back to their ship. There was a huge crack and a giant hole opened up underneath, causing Doc and Zach to fall through into the water below. "CAPTAIN!" Shane shouted as he dove through the hole.
"Shane wait!" He heard Niko shouting but he ignored it. Touching his badge before he hit the water he prepared himself for the worst. He grew gills on the side of his neck so he could breathe and his fingers and feet became webbed so that he could move through the water easier. There was even a slight membrane covering his eyes so that he could see through the water without it hurting him.
He swam to rescue his friends but found that they were trapped in a vicious undertow. Zach tried to use his bionic arm and leg to propel himself but found that he was out of power, his charge was depleted.
Shane struggled to get close to them but found that the current was still too strong for even his enhanced body. Got to get closer to them before they drown! If only I had a little more charge in my implant…Maybe…
As if his silent prayers were answered a giant bolt of lightning shot out and hit the top of the water in the area Shane was in. Shane fought the agony as the electricity coursed through his body and held his badge. Come on implant do it!
A giant surge of energy coursed through his body. He felt his body changing again. The webbing on his hands grew more pronounced as was some webbing protruding on his arms. For a moment his legs felt as if they were on fire. A sharp pain turned into a heated glow as his legs merged into one and his feet disappeared and elongated. Instantly his pants and boots shredded revealing a long blue and gold tail with flowing fins.
Shane didn't allow himself a moment to be startled. His friends were in danger! His new body was much stronger, more adept at fighting the current and he was soon able to reach his friends. Using his tail he propelled himself and the other two men, grabbing them by the armpits to the surface as fast as he could.
Both men gasped for air as he got them to the surface, but they were literally not out of the water yet. An explosion above them indicated that the energy rig was being destroyed and pieces of debris were headed right for them. "HANG ON!" Shane shouted.
Using all his strength and speed he pulled them away from the wreckage. Finally he managed to make it to the shoreline and safety. He stayed halfway in the shallow water as Doc and Zach crawled onto the sand coughing.
"Are you two all right?" Shane asked, concerned.
"I feel like one of those squirt guns filled with water," Zach spat out some water. "But I think I'll live. Thanks Goose."
Just then the rain stopped and the squall blew away. "Oh yes now it stops raining!" Zach groaned as he lay back on the sand.
"Nice look," Doc quipped when he saw Shane's tail. "I heard tails were in this season but really Gooseman you take things too far."
"Didn't know you could do that," Zach pointed to his new body.
"Neither did I," Shane remarked.
They saw the Ranger One land on the beach further down. "Yay the cavalry is here…" Doc groaned.
Niko got out of the space ship and ran towards them. "Everyone all right?"
"No…" Doc moaned. "My uniform is ruined!"
"We're fine, thanks to the Goose," Zach looked at Shane. "Or should I say the Fish?"
"You're taking comedy lessons from Doc again, aren't you?" Shane gave him a look as he touched his badge so that he could change back.
"MaCross got away and the star stones are destroyed," Niko sighed. "But no lives were lost. That's something."
"We'd better get back to base and report," Zach stood up.
"Not to mention get dried off," Doc grumbled as he got up. "I'm going to catch a cold! I know it!"
"Oh dry up, you drip," Niko smirked. They started to walk off the beach. "You'll be fine. It could have been worse. You could have needed mouth to mouth resuscitation. Right Shane? Shane?"
"Goose?" Zach looked behind him. Shane was still in the water, and still in a merman form. "What's the hold up Goose?"
"Uh Captain…" Shane coughed. "Little problem here…I can't change back."
"What do you mean you can't change back?" Zach blinked.
"I…Can't…Change…Back," Shane said each word with emphasis. He splashed his tail to make a point. "I'm stuck."
"Stuck?" Niko blinked.
"Stuck," Shane groaned. His tail splashed the water harder in annoyance.
"Stuck as in…?" Doc asked.
"STUCK! YES!" Shane splashed his tail again.
"How can you be stuck?" Zach asked.
"How should I know? This has never happened to me before!" Shane snapped.
"Did you try using your badge?" Doc asked.
"No, Doc I wagged my tail and made a wish!" Shane snapped. "Of course I did! Nothing happened!"
"It's obviously a malfunction in your implant," Doc activated his badge and prepared to send a Tweaker program in to check it.
"No, ya think?" Shane asked sarcastically.
"Lifeline," Doc called out his Tweaker. "I need you to do a repair job."
"Right Doc!" The glowing pink program emerged from his computer pad and flitted into Shane's head.
"Don't worry my Gooseman," Doc said proudly. "The Doctor is on the job!"
"That's why I'm worried," Shane grumbled. Lifeline flitted out of his head. "I'll never get used to those things flying inside my brain."
"Why? With all the space in there it could use the company!" Doc quipped.
"Just wait until I get my legs back Doc," Shane gave him a look. "So I can kick you with them!"
"Everything seems to be okay Doc," Lifeline told Doc as it flew out.
"Try it now," Doc indicated Shane to touch his badge.
Shane did so. "Nothing happened."
"That's odd," Doc frowned. "According to these sensors your implant is functioning properly."
"Your sensors are obviously missing something," Zach said.
"It's not my sensors," Doc told him. "Lifeline get back in there. Pathfinder, Tripwire help him out."
"Okay but I don't think there's much more we can do," Lifeline remarked as the programs went back inside Shane's head.
"Ow, get these things out of my head," Shane felt very dizzy. Then it occurred to him that he needed to breathe. Without thinking he dunked himself into the water and took several deep breaths with his gills.
"YEOW! I NEARLY GOT WATERLOGGED!" Pathfinder shrieked as the Tweakers jumped out of his body.
"Gooseman! What are you trying to do? Drown my Tweakers?" Doc snapped as Shane returned to the surface.
"Sorry I needed to breathe," Shane gasped. "Well?"
"Well nothing! According to this your implant isn't even activated!" Doc said.
"What do you mean it's not activated?" Shane snapped. "That's impossible!"
"Your pad must have a few circuits shorted or something," Zach theorized. "We can sort this out back on Earth."
"Good idea," Niko nodded. "One little problem. How do you transport a merman in a spaceship without the proper equipment?"
"Goose, try changing into another form," Doc suggested.
Shane touched his badge but nothing happened. "My charge is out," Shane was shocked.
"This isn't right," Zach was worried. "You should have changed back when your charge ran out."
"Tell me something I don't know!" Shane snapped. He got lightheaded again and sunk deeper into the water so that his gills were submerged. "And worse I can't breathe out of the water!"
"This is a pickle I tell you," Doc scratched his head. "Wait a minute! I have an idea! Captain come with me! Niko, you and Goose stay here."
"Do I have a choice?" Shane called out as they left. "This is embarrassing."
"Well we might as well make the best of the situation," Niko shrugged.
"Yeah…Hold on a second," Shane blinked.
"What? Are you changing back?" Niko asked.
"No…I…I'll be right back!" Shane dove underneath the waves.
"Goose! Wait! Come back!" She called out. Several minutes passed. "Shane!"
"I'm back!" Shane popped up again. He had some seaweed in his mouth and in his hands. "Sorry…All of the sudden I just got so hungry."
"You're eating seaweed?" Niko blinked. "Is it edible?"
"I don't know if it is for humans but it tastes just fine for me," Shane hungrily chomped on it. "This stuff isn't that bad."
"Goose what made you think…" Niko was stunned.
"I just did it Niko," Shane explained. He stopped mid chew with a small piece of seaweed popping out of his mouth. "It was some kind of instinct. That's not good is it?"
"Uh…Let's just say I'd think a minute before you do anything else instinctive," Niko blinked. "You don't have any other urges do you?"
"I don't feel like spawning upstream if that's what you're getting at," Shane gave her a look. He saw Doc and Zach returning driving a small vehicle towing something in the back. "What is that?"
"Voila! Our answer to our transportation problem," Doc called out. There was a giant globe made of some kind of transparent material and a door with a fastener on top of it. Also attached was some kind of hose.
"What is that thing?" Shane asked. "It looks like an aquarium with a vacuum cleaner attached to it."
"It is an aquarium with a vacuum cleaner attached to it," Zach told him. "Well it's a pump system to draw water in and out. We got it from the miners. Some of them study fish as a hobby."
"You're not going to put me in there!" Shane shouted. "I am not riding in the cargo bay like I'm livestock!"
"Goose we don't exactly have that many options," Zach told him. "I mean you can't exactly sit up front if you can't…What's that in your mouth?"
"Seaweed," Shane gulped it down, embarrassed.
"He got hungry," Niko explained.
"Good, since we left our fish flakes at home," Doc nodded.
"Sorry Goose but this is the best we can do considering the circumstances," Zach apologized. "We'll get you to BETA and fix you up as soon as possible. I promise."
"Look at the bright side Goose," Doc grinned. "Since you're not flying, the chances we'll land on Earth in one piece have skyrocketed!"
"Some days it just doesn't pay to be a genetic mutant…" Shane grumbled.
Not long after the team returned to Earth, Zach, Niko and Doc met with Walsh and Q-Ball at Longshot research base with two other scientists. "Thanks for allowing us to use your facilities Dr. Krueger," Zach said.
"Considering the circumstances Gooseman does have a better chance of returning to his human form here than at BETA," Dr. Krueger nodded.
"Not to mention that his condition would be a bit more of a secret here than at BETA," Dr. Nagata, the floating brain inside a containment unit responded. "I really don't think it would be a good idea if Wheiner or any other member of the Board of Leaders found out about this."
"Fortunately it's in the middle of an election year," Doc remarked. "Too busy worrying about his own behind to check up on us. So did you find anything wrong with Goose? Besides the obvious I mean."
"It's not his implant," Q-Ball shook his head. "We've scanned it three times and it seems to be working perfectly."
"Perfectly?" Doc yelled at Q-Ball. "Hell-ooo! My buddy is a fish!"
"Well there is one hypothesis…" Q-Ball coughed. "Somehow his bio-defenses are on overload."
"Over load?" Zach asked.
"The electric charge Gooseman got in the water gave his implant a boost which overcharged his bio-defenses," Dr. Nagata explained. "We believe the combination of adrenaline as well as electricity sent them into a super defense status which made Gooseman even more adaptable to the environment he was in at the time."
"Underwater," Zach nodded. "But he can't get out."
"Somehow his bio-defenses are frozen in that overcharged state," Dr. Krueger remarked. "However they will go back to normal over a period of time. He just needs to let it wear off naturally."
"Are you sure that will work?" Niko asked.
"It has happened before," Walsh admitted. "Among older Supertroopers years ago in the darker days of the old world wars and early bio-engineering."
"What happened to them?" Zach didn't like where this was going.
"Some cases it was shoddy genetic design, others experimentation," Walsh explained.
"I thought Gooseman's genes were the most advanced design of the Supertroopers?" Doc asked.
"They are," Dr. Nagata informed him. "However like many of the other Supertroopers at Wolf Den he does share the same genes some very prominent ancestors."
"Ancestors?" Niko asked.
"Haven't you ever wondered why some Supertroopers had first and last names like Gooseman and Ryker Kilbane while others only had one name?" Walsh raised an eyebrow. "The Supertroopers that had a last name had a special connection with some of the world's first genetically engineered soldiers, some were created in secret lab experiments as far back as the 1940's."
"You're kidding?" Zach was stunned.
"Oh yes the DNA was added, improved and modified but there are traces of the original DNA still lingering in his genetic makeup," Walsh nodded.
"You're telling us that Gooseman is related to some old super trooper soldier man from the Nineteen Forties?" Doc asked.
"No, actually he's distantly related to a young female genetically enhanced trooper from the Nineteen Eighties," Walsh raised an eyebrow. "According to legend she was quite remarkable and played a big part in ending the Cold War…and fighting in World War Three."
"Whoa just when you think you know a guy," Doc whistled. "Does Goose know…?"
"Supertroopers don't know the details of their genetic donors," Walsh sighed. "But in this situation I thought he deserved to know."
"Apparently a similar situation happened to the female Gooseman during that time period but it went away on it's own with no psychotic after affects," Dr. Nagata told them. "That's one good thing in his favor. Of course she didn't grow a tail but…"
"Weird," Doc chuckled. "Calling a girl Gooseman."
"She wasn't born a super soldier," Walsh grunted. "Just had her DNA enhanced. Her first name was Cheyenne. But like I said that was a long time ago."
"It's fascinating though," Q-Ball said looking at Shane's vitals on the computer. "His original Supertrooper DNA would never allow him to change into anything other than a bipedal form. For some reason, it has evolved into a state unprecedented since the Third World War. This so called regression gene is actually quite remarkable in itself."
"Somehow I don't think Goose appreciates it," Niko told him.
"How long is this gonna last?" Zach asked.
"It could be a day, or a week or…" Walsh sighed. "We don't really know. But we do know that it will wear off. Eventually."
"We hope," Dr. Nagata added.
"Oh yeah that's encouraging," Doc rolled his eyes.
"Until then our best bet is to keep Goose here with the dolphins," Dr. Krueger said. "There's really nothing more we can do for him."
"So what's Goose supposed to do in the meantime?" Doc asked. "Put on a water show for the tourists?"
"Gooseman has acquired some leave time," Walsh shrugged. "If anyone asks we'll just say he's on vacation."
"Where? At Sea World?" Doc quipped.
Gooseman you have been in some weird situations but this beats everything! Shane thought to himself as he swam around the dolphin tank at Longshot. He had removed his remaining garments and was swimming around bare chested without his badge. And I thought being a bug was weird…
As soon as they had gotten back to Earth he had been quickly scanned and then deposited inside a tank in a lab for four very long, very stressful hours. Eventually he was taken to the dolphin tank where his friends Icarus and Winter resided. Fortunately the dolphins recognized him and seemed quite accepting about his situation. Actually they were thrilled that Shane now had an excuse to spend the whole day with them.
So Shane spent an entire day swimming and hanging around with Icarus and Winter in the tank. "Now I know how a goldfish feels," Shane sighed as he noticed a couple of scientists casually giving him a glance through the observation side of the tank. "How do you guys stand it all day?"
"People watch!" Icarus chirped.
"Humans are funny," Winter nodded. "See those two humans over there? They're mates but they try to hide it from the other humans."
"That's because those two are married," Shane watched with his hands on the glass as the two scientists took off to another room. "But not to each other."
"And see those humans?" Icarus pointed to a female scientist and a male janitor who winked at each other and disappeared into another room. "They like each other too."
"This isn't a lab research center," Shane was shocked. "It's a passion pit! No wonder you two aren't bored."
He swam to the top of the tank and broke the surface with the dolphins. "Just when you think you know a place," Shane remarked.
"You're still so sad Goose," Winter nudged him.
"I'm not real good at being cooped up in a tank for long. At least I have you guys to keep me company," Shane sighed as he stroked Winter's snout.
"Don't count me out," Niko walked in wearing a diving uniform with her badge on her belt.
"Niko," Shane blinked as she dove into the tank. "What are you doing here?"
"Keeping you company," Niko told him as she swam over to him. "How are you holding up?"
"As well as a guy can be stuck in an aquarium," Shane told her. "At least I'm not a frozen fish."
"It's not permanent, Shane," Niko said. "It will wear off sooner or later."
"Wish it was sooner rather than later," Shane grumbled. He lay back in the water to get some water into his gills. Giving Niko a good view of his well sculpted bare chest and his oddly enticing new body.
"You have to admit," Niko said it before she realized it. "You could have been stuck in worse bodies. Actually being a merman is pretty…"
Shane raised an eyebrow. "Never mind," Niko blushed.
"Well…" Shane casually flicked his shimmering tail. "I gotta admit it's not a complete drag. Being in the water is kind of…liberating."
"Ah so that's why you took off your shirt," Niko gave him a look.
"It was starting to shrink," Shane shrugged. "And my badge didn't help so…Why wear it? I just wish I still had my blasters. Then again they aren't exactly waterproof either and I guess I don't really need them so…"
"You really like it don't you?" Niko grinned.
"I'd like it more if I can figure out how to turn it off and on," Shane flicked his tail again to splash Niko. "But still…"
"Hey!" Niko pulled back as she was splashed. "Watch the tail."
"Sorry," Shane grinned mischievously. "Darn thing has a mind all its own."
"How about a swim?" Niko suggested.
"Why not? I've only been doing it all day," Shane gave her a look.
"Sorry, I didn't mean…"
"I know you didn't, Niko…" Shane interrupted. "But I guess it would be kind of fun." Mischievously he went under the water.
"Huh? Shane?" Niko looked around. Shane surprised her from behind, splashing her. "GOOSE!"
"Watch this!" Shane laughed as he dove in again. Gaining momentum he managed to leap over her, and splashed her again.
"Okay," Niko was soaking wet now. "You are so going to get it."
"Yeah right!" Shane snorted. "Can't catch me!"
"Wanna bet?" Niko challenged. Both were swimming around underwater but Shane had the obvious advantage as he darted around her. Shane took great delight in teasing her. Finally Niko decided to stop playing nice. She made her way back to the surface. "Okay Mister…You asked for this." She touched her badge and activated her implant.
Before Shane realized it he was levitated out of the water. "Hey! Put me down!" He flapped helplessly. "This isn't funny Niko! I can't breathe! (Gasp!) Put me down!"
"Now who's the fish out of water?" Niko grinned before releasing him.
"That's not fair!" Shane snapped after he got his breath back.
"Who said I played fair?" Niko grinned.
"You liked that a little too much," Shane grumbled as he folded his arms. "I thought you're the one who's always saying how you're supposed to be in control of yourself and all that crap?"
"Look who's complaining about self control. I'm not the one swimming around naked," Niko shot back. Shane then turned beet red. "Sorry…"
"Now I really feel comfortable about my situation," Shane muttered.
"Shane, Walsh did tell you about your uh…relative, Cheyenne Gooseman right?" Niko asked.
"He mentioned it," Shane shrugged as he got closer to her.
"Did he tell you anything about her?"
"Not really, except for the fact that she turned into a mermaid once and then changed back and that's it," Shane said. "So it's her fault I'm stuck like this."
"But aren't you curious about her? What was she like or…" Niko began.
"Niko she died over a century ago," Shane gave her a look. "What's the point in dredging up history?"
"But she's a relative of yours, sort of," Niko blinked. "Aren't you curious at all about her? She is one of your main genetic donors after all."
"One of literally a hundred," Shane told her. "Supertrooper DNA is made up of hundreds of different donors. Not all of them human…Which explains the tail. They just pick and choose the best traits and code them in and well…Here I am. Stuck."
"It will wear off Shane," Niko told him. "I promise."
"I know," Shane sighed. "I'm okay, really."
"Your tail is wrapped around my legs," Niko raised an eyebrow. "It's getting kind of hard to float."
"Told you the thing had a mind of its own," Shane grinned. Niko laughed.
"HEY ALL KIDS OUT OF THE POOL!" Doc's yell startled the both of them, instantly pulling away from each other.
"Oh no," Shane groaned. "What are you doing here?"
"What? I can't come visit the Little MerGoose to cheer him up?" Doc quipped. He was wearing his usual Ranger uniform. "I'd have gotten you a snack but they're out of fish in the gift shop."
Shane used his powerful tail to create a huge spray of water that hit Doc right in the face. "Oh well that is just plain rude!" Doc spat out the stray water. "And I just had this uniform dry cleaned!"
"Doc stop teasing him," Zach groaned as he walked into the room. He was also wearing his uniform. "How's it going Goose?"
"It could be better," Shane gave Doc a look.
"I gotta ask this," Zach said. "What's it like having a tail?"
"Like I'm stuck in a very tight sleeping bag from the waist down," Shane admitted. "But it's pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it."
"What about your uh…" Doc coughed, pointing to his lower half. "You know?"
"Don't ask," Shane gave him a dark look. "Trust me, you don't want to know!"
"Did you have to ask him that?" Niko gave him a look.
"What? Like it never occurred to you?" Doc quipped.
"Splash him again, Shane," Niko told her friend.
"Seriously Gooseman," Doc quipped. "You really do get into some crazy situations with those bio-defenses of yours. First your implant goes crazy and turns you into a were-beast, then you had to masquerade as a bug during that whole General goes berserk in the prison thing, not to mention the Traash invasion. Got shot into another dimension a few times. And let's not forget the time you became a Poe Mutant Artist for a few minutes. It's like the universe is purposely conjuring up crazy situations for you to be stuck in to teach you a lesson."
"You keep bugging me Doc, the universe and I will teach you a lesson!" Shane shook his fist at him. "This is supposed to cheer me up?"
"Doc if I were you I wouldn't go swimming for the next few days," Niko said.
"Come on Goose," Doc knelt down to see his friend's face better. "You know me! I kid because I love!"
"You mean you kid because you love the fact that as long as you're on land you're perfectly safe," Zach remarked.
"That too," Doc grinned.
"Keep laughing Doc," Shane growled. "Just wait until my legs grow back…Then there will be no place for you to hide!"
"Until then I'm just going to have to enjoy myself," Doc grinned. "But you do look good, for an overgrown tadpole."
"TADPOLE! THAT'S IT! I'LL SHOW YOU…" Shane dove down quickly into the water. He did a quick turn around and prepared to give Doc the splash of a lifetime.
"GOOSE WAIT!" He heard Zach shout. Too late he burst out of the water and did a twist into the air, slamming his tail down extra hard so that a huge spray of water shot out of the tank.
Straight onto Commander Walsh. "Gooseman…" Walsh growled as he stood there, completely drenched.
"Oops," Shane gulped, literally cringing. "Sorry Commander. I didn't know you would come by too."
"Actually something has come up," Walsh coughed. "It seems that your particular situation could be an advantage on this mission."
"Mission?" Shane asked pointing to himself. "How can I go on a mission like this? I'm not riding in a cargo bay again!"
"You won't have to ride far since the mission is right here on Earth," Commander Walsh told him as he dug up a computer pad. "And it's top secret."
"Earth? We usually don't get to stay so close to home," Doc blinked. "It must be big."
"It is. And to think I told Q-Ball that it didn't matter if this device was waterproof," Walsh remarked as he turned it on. "Remember our friend Senator Gann?"
"The rogue senator who tried to shut down the Rangers while selling illegal Supertrooper Juice?" Doc remembered. "Lovely woman. How's prison treating her? She is still in prison right? She didn't weasel her way out did she?"
"No, but not for lack of trying," Walsh said. The pad projected a holographic image of an old nuclear submarine. "She did however give up one very interesting tidbit of information. This is the USS Harbinger, a C Class nuclear sub. One of the last of it's kind. It was sunk in battle in the Pacific Ocean nearly a hundred years ago."
"Those things were discontinued right after the Third World War," Doc said. "Didn't know the former senator was a war buff."
"She isn't," Walsh said. "It's what the Harbinger was carrying that interested her. Several schematics and data on early genetic engineering projects. And a base formula similar to Supertrooper Juice."
"Isn't that special?" Doc quipped as he looked at the schematics. "Looks like the Senator wanted to add a few more credits to her bank account."
"And something else," Walsh showed them an image of a crystal. "This is an Energy Star."
"I remember reading about those," Doc blinked. "Man made crystals with powerful charges that made star stones look like flashlights. But they were all destroyed during the Third World War. Mostly because they were so unstable."
"Not all of them," Walsh said. "So as you can see it's imperative that we get to this wreckage before anyone else stumbles upon it. The four of you and the dolphins are going on this mission ASAP."
"Good, if I'm gonna be stuck like this at least I can do it on a mission," Shane agreed. "I was starting to go stir crazy in here."
"As opposed to your regular kind of crazy," Doc grinned.
"Oh and one more thing Ranger Hartford," Walsh remarked. Without any warning he shoved Doc into the tank. "That's for getting me wet!"
"Ahhggh!" Doc spat out water as he came up for air. "Commander…"
"Oh Doc…" Shane grinned mischievously. He hummed the theme from 'Jaws'.
"AAHHHHH!" Doc screamed as Shane tackled him. "HELP! GOOSE ATTACK! GOOSE ATTACK! GURGLE! GLUB!"
"Should we help him?" Zach asked in a bored voice.
"AAHHH! GULB! BLBBBB! GOOSE ATTACK!"
"No, I think Shane has this perfectly under control," Niko grinned.
"These are the last known coordinates of the Harbinger," Zach called out to his crew. They were wearing their diving suits along with badges on their belts. They were standing on top of a large spaceship/diving sub. (Well those that didn't have tails anyway.) "Everybody have their communicators on?"
"I just have to give Shane his," Niko held one that looked like a metal necklace. "If he stops splashing around."
"Sorry. Just needed to get the kinks out of my tail. I gotta admit I do feel better now that I'm not cooped up in a tank," Shane splashed his tail in the ocean. "That's enough to make anyone claustrophobic."
"Here," Niko put the communicator on him. "You can use this to talk directly to us in case you run into trouble. All right? Anything else?"
"Yeah," Shane looked at her. "Can you get Doc to stop singing?"
"They call him Gooseman, Gooseman, Gooseman, King of the Sea…" Doc sang heartily. "Da, da, da deeee!"
"Do you have a death wish or something Doc?" Shane gave him a look. "If you really want me to kill you just tell me and I'll schedule an appointment for you."
"Just having a little fun, my Gooseman. By the way, I found some interesting trivia," Doc called out. "You know who else was on that mission? Your grandma, Ms. Gooseman."
"Technically she wasn't…" Shane began to tell him. "Never mind. So what happened?"
"Ship got hit, went down," Doc shrugged. "Most of the crew escaped. She didn't. She was presumed lost at sea."
"Just don't swim too far from us, Goose," Niko reminded him. "Your bio defenses could revert back at any time and I don't want a repeat of that incident."
"I'm fine, Niko," Shane gave her a look. "This mission will be a piece of cake."
"Ahoy there!" They heard a call. A small tugboat with a sail chugged near them.
"I thought this area was uninhabited?" Zach asked.
"There's always a few old sea dogs sailing around," Doc shrugged. "Goose stay out of sight."
"Way ahead of you," Shane ducked underneath the water.
"Ahoy there!" A short, portly man with wild white hair, a bushy beard and a pair of bulging eyes in a dark blue pirate outfit snorted as his craft pulled up along side of theirs. "Captain McQueeg here! Permission to come aboard!"
"Permission Granted," Zach blinked. "What's the trouble Captain?"
"Ah no trouble with me, per say," The gruff sailor snorted. "It's just that there aren't many visitors in these parts. And I was curious to see who was here. And what ye be doing in my territory."
"This is open water," Zach told him. "We have just as much right to be here as anyone."
"You all are star rangers," Captain McQueeg snorted. "What are you lot doing here getting your feet wet when you're supposed to be high and dry in the sky?"
"Uh…Fishing trip!" Doc said quickly. "We heard that the fish were biting and we just had to come!"
"A fishing trip? Out here?" Captain McQueeg gave them a look. "In the middle of nowhere? With an S Class Explorer sub/plane with the extra options, two dolphins and what I'm guessing is a high standard scanning system with sonar capabilities?"
"Uh, we really like to fish?" Doc gulped. "We take it very seriously."
"You're not fooling me Rangers, Captain McQueeg knows what ye be after," He snorted. "It's the mermaids isn't it?"
"The what?" Zach blinked.
"Mermaids! The sirens of the deep," Captain McQueeg sighed happily. "The sweetest lassies that ever swam Davy Jones Locker! Well back off! One of them lassies is gonna be my girlfriend!"
"Excuse me, could you run that by me again?" Doc blinked.
"If you catch a mermaid she has to be your own true love for the end of time," Captain McQueeg grunted. "And quite frankly that's the only chance an ugly sea dog like me has got of landing a woman! I haven't had a date for over thirty years!"
"I can't imagine why," Doc quipped. "You seem like a charming man!"
"Don't play dumb with me! You're not the only ones out here with special gear and mine has picked up a lassie right near your ship!" Captain McQueeg snapped.
"Uh sir there are no such things as mermaids," Zach gave him a look. "We're just doing a little expedition."
"Well as long as your expedition don't poach on my mermaid hunt I have no problems with ye," Captain McQueeg snorted. A beeping sound could be heard on a handheld monitor in his hand. "What? According to this there are three mermaids right here!"
"Those are our dolphins," Niko pointed to Icarus and Winter. "Uh…One of them is very shy."
"Aggh! Not again!" Captain McQueeg hit the device. "This blasted device keeps getting stuck on 'Dolphin' for some reason! Aahhg! I gotta take it into the shop! Well, just remember what I said! I'm shoving off! And remember, the mermaids are mine! Oh and any talking pink unicorns driving a yacht. They owe me some money from the last time we played poker!"
"I think someone has been at sea a little too long," Doc snickered as McQueeg drifted away. "We better warn Goose."
"I heard everything through the communicators. Just what I need," Shane groaned as he popped out of the water. "A mermaid hunter on my tail. This week just keeps getting better."
"We'd better hurry up and find that submarine fast," Zach agreed. "Rangers fall out!"
Unknown to them there was another pair of eyes watching them from a cloaked vessel underwater. "Galaxy Rangers? Here? It figures…" A mysterious figure grumbled. "It was hard enough tracking that sub with that idiot McQueeg in the way. Well no matter, soon the Energy Star and the Supertrooper formulas will be mine for the taking…"
The rangers and their dolphins were swimming around the area, scanning for wreckage. "Hey slow down Goose!" Zach called out. "Not all of us can swim that fast you know?"
"He can't help it Captain," Niko shrugged. "Right now this is Goose's natural environment."
"As natural as it can get for a genetically enhanced super soldier," Doc pointed out. "Then again he is a Goose so the water is his home."
"It's corny jokes like that Doc that make me want to swim as far as possible!" Shane zoomed up and glared at Doc in the face.
"Sor-ry! Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the seabed this morning," Doc held out his hands in apology.
"I just want to get out of here before that crazy captain asks me for a date," Shane told him. "Aren't your scanners picking up anything?"
"I'm trying but there's some kind of interference down here," Doc fiddled with his waterproof pad. "Best I can do is short range."
"We should split up," Zach suggested.
"Good, I can cover more ground myself," Shane said. Before anyone could stop him he swam away.
"Man he's really fast with that thing," Doc blinked. "Is that a tail or a propeller?"
"I'll go after him," Niko sighed. "Icarus, Winter you come with me. SHANE!" She went after him.
"We might as well head out on this course, Doc," Zach said to Doc and they continued onward to look for the wreckage.
Meanwhile Shane was swimming along as fast as he possibly could. "I can't believe how much power this tail has," He felt a surge of joy as he swam around freely. Then he swam through a school of colorful fish. "It's so beautiful down here. Maybe this isn't so bad after all?"
A glint of something caught his eye. "Niko! I think I've got something! I'm going to check it out!" Shane spoke through his communicator. He sped down towards the object in the sand. It looked like a shiny crystal. "This could be it!"
He picked it up. And it started to blink. "What the…?" Suddenly the crystal exploded and out came a huge net that captured him. "HEY!"
He struggled to get out but he was wrapped tightly in it. "Oh this is just perfect!" He snapped. "I can't break loose!"
"Shane! Wait for me!" He heard Niko say through the communicator. "Just in case it could be a false alarm."
"Yeah, no kidding," Shane gritted his teeth, knowing full well that he was not going to hear the end of this one.
"I'm serious Shane," Niko obviously mistook his words for sarcasm. "It could be what we're looking for. Or…"
"Or it could be a very large net," Shane admitted. He struggled to free himself but he couldn't.
There was a short pause. "You fell into a trap didn't you?"
"Yes," Shane rolled his eyes. He felt himself going upwards. "What the…?" He looked above him and saw the outline of a boat.
"Oh you gotta be kidding me!" Shane struggled to free himself from the net. "Niko you'd better hurry! I'm in trouble here!"
Up on deck Captain McQueeg danced around. "I knew it! I knew it!" He grinned happily as a crane with a magnet hauled up the net. "I knew no mermaid could resist my patented Magnetic Gem Net! Guaranteed to trap to most curious mermaid! It's so simple! Mermaid picks up bright shiny object, shiny object turns into net with tempered with unbreakable steel bonds. Steel net then gets picked up by my magnetized crane!"
The net drew closer to the surface. "Now then! Gots to get ready!" The sea captain took a swig of mouthwash and gargled it. Then swallowed it. He smoothed his wild hair. "All right McQueeg! Here it is! The moment you've been waiting for!" He saw the outline of a mermaid with golden hair. "Oh and a lovely one she is too!"
McQueeg closed his eyes and puckered up as the net was hoisted up. "Ah my fair golden haired lassie of the sea! Give your darling a kiss!"
"Forget it Jerk face!" Shane snapped as he raised his fist. "GET ME OUT OF HERE BEFORE I DECK YOU ONE!"
"AAHHH!" Captain McQueeg opened his eyes and screamed in horror. "Ye not be a lassie! Yer a lad!"
"Brilliant deduction!" Shane snapped.
"Ugh!" Captain McQueeg shuddered in repulsion. "I may have not had a date in thirty years but even I'm not that desperate! Then again maybe if your hair was a little longer and ye weren't as muscular…"
Shane made a menacing growl. "I'm just saying you have a nice golden head of hair that is quite lovely…" Captain McQueeg held up his hands in defense. "If you grew it out a little…"
"ONE MORE WORD AND YOU'LL GET A TAIL SMACK UPSIDE THE HEAD!" Shane roared his tail flailing wildly.
"Excuse me, Captain!" Niko popped out of the water with the dolphins. "But I believe you have something that belongs to me."
"Oh, oh well that explains it then," Captain McQueeg blinked. "Sorry lass, I didn't mean to plunder your treasure if you get my drift."
"Well I did tell him not to swim too fast," Niko shrugged.
"This is the most humiliating experience of my entire life…" Shane groaned. "Can somebody get me out of here?"
"Oh sure," the sea captain pushed a button and Shane found himself back in the water again. "Sorry about the mix up! But he does have quite lovely hair…If there are any mermaids down there could you…?"
"No! No other mermaids! Just me!" Shane snapped. "I'm out of here!" He dove underwater.
"Is he saying there are only merlads here and not mermaids?" Captain McQueeg blinked.
"Uh technically…yes," Niko admitted.
"Ugh! Not again! Now I gotta chart a whole new course! Wait a minute…" the sea captain blinked. "If there are only merlads in this sector then what were those fellows hunting…"
"Uh…" Niko coughed. "I gotta go!" She swam off with the dolphins behind her.
"Oh brother! I always said that Star Rangers were a bit odd in their tastes. Have to be to spend all that time away from the sea! Perhaps the singing walrus was right?" Captain McQueeg sighed as he slumped his shoulders. "I should give up this mermaid hunt and go one of those computer dating services."
Meanwhile Zach and Doc weren't having much luck of their own. They had returned to their craft and were taking a small sub to scout out the area. "Water, water everywhere and still nothing to see…" Doc grumbled. "Seriously, how can you lose a sub?"
"Hold on, Doc I think we've found something," Zach pointed to the monitor. Looming into view was a large submarine on the sea floor. "There it is, the Harbinger. I'll put her in park. Contact Niko and the Goose and have them meet us at these coordinates."
"It's about time," Doc grinned as he put on his diving helmet. "Now that we've actually found that sub it's going to be smooth sailing from here on in."
They didn't pick up the cloaked submarine behind them. "Ready the men," The mysterious captain informed his crew. "The Rangers have led us right where we wanted them too."
In another area of the ocean Niko and Shane were scouting the area with the dolphins. Shane swam much slower now, even though the urge to swim away from a snickering Niko was very strong. "Well you can't say I didn't warn you," Niko grinned.
"You should listen to Niko, Goose…" Winter chided him. "You're not used to being in the ocean all by yourself."
"Never… tell… anyone…what happened," Shane gritted his teeth. "ESPECIALLY DOC!"
"We won't," Icarus chirped. "Right Niko?"
"Right it will be our little secret," Niko winked.
"A secret you're going to love holding over me," Shane groaned.
"Well I did save you from a fate worse than death," Niko teased him.
"I don't want to think about it!" Shane groaned. "I've had it being a fish! I can't change back soon enough! I'll never be able to eat a tuna fish sandwich again as it is!"
"We'd better check in," Niko activated her communicator. "Captain come in. Captain? Doc? Something's blocking my transmission."
"I'm not getting anything either," Shane tapped his communicator. "You think we should head back?"
"It could be just interference we've been getting from…" Niko began. Suddenly the dolphins chirped and swam off. "Oh no, not them too!"
"Stay here and try to contact the others," Shane told her. "I'll go get them!" He swam off after them.
It was a bit of a distance before Shane was able to catch up with them. "Hey! Wait for me! What's going on?"
"She's here…" Icarus chirped. "We felt something."
"Something?" Shane asked. "You mean someone?"
"Someone like you Goose…" Winter called out.
"Like me?" Shane asked. Something darted behind several long reeds. "Hold on!" He went after the figure in the water.
Then he saw her.
A beautiful woman with pale skin and extremely long flowing yellow gold hair, hair so long it covered her breasts and extended past her long golden tail. The tail had extra large fins that seemed to be in the shape of a flowing gown. Her soft emerald eyes conveyed a message of sadness and compassion.
Eyes that were exactly like his.
"You're her aren't you…?" Shane's eyes widened in shock. He didn't know how it was possible but he could feel it somehow. "You're Cheyenne…But how?"
With our kind anything is possible…He felt her mind touch his. I've been waiting for you.
"But how could you know…?" Shane asked.
Anything is possible Shane…
He was mesmerized as the two swam around each other. He could feel her emotions linking them together. She led him through the ocean as they swam with the dolphins alongside each other. It was a moment of pure peace and contentment he had never experienced before.
"I have so many questions…" Shane finally got the courage to speak. "How did you survive all these years? What happened to you? Why didn't you…?"
"Shane?" He turned and saw Niko there.
"Niko wait she's…" Shane began.
"Shane she has your eyes…" Niko gasped. "Are you…?"
I am…Cheyenne nodded her head. Open your minds and I will show you everything.
Images poured into their minds. Images of war and pain. Of experimentation and torture. Cheyenne as a young woman fighting, surviving, living life as much as she could riding motorcycles, flying planes, driving cars. There was an image of a handsome brown haired man who seemed slightly familiar to them. They were lovers and happy.
But that wasn't enough for them. They had planned to escape this life of war and live peacefully. Then the mission came. Her beloved was killed, betrayed by the very people they trusted. In rage Cheyenne managed to wreck the sub and with her last ounce of strength change her body into it's mermaid form.
She let them believe that she was dead.
In her heart she felt dead.
She could not die. Her bio-defenses would not allow it. But they allowed her to evolve over the century. She became aware of abilities she never knew she had. First empathy, then telepathy. She could heal as well as destroy. She used her gifts to hide herself from the world, yet keep a small tendril aware of what was happening using her mind.
There is more…There is something in the blood…She told them. I can sense those of my genes even though they are far away. I could not risk contacting you before but I could watch you from afar…
"My blood?" Shane's head was reeling.
They still had my DNA, my blood from other experiments. I could feel them using it. A flash of Shane as an infant was shown. And I wept for what they did to my children. I could do nothing to save them from their fate…As great as my powers are in the water…I am nothing on the land.
"Children?" Niko asked. "You mean the other Supertroopers?"
All those at Wolf Den shared my bloodline but Shane in you the concentration was the greatest…And in you my hopes are held. You are the one that must carry on and bring justice to the world…And do what you can to save our kind.
"Save them?" Shane asked. "I practically condemned them…"
There was nothing you could have done for the frozen ones. Better where they are now than to hurt innocent people. You will understand there is more to this story in time…My faith, my hope in the future is within you. She gently touched his cheek.
"I hate to break up this tender moment but there is a problem," Niko said. "I think Doc and the Captain are in trouble. Cheyenne we were searching for…"
I know what you seek. Unfortunately there are others that seek it as well. Not McQueeg. Dangerous men.
"They want the genetic codes and formula don't they?" Shane realized.
They will not find what they are looking for, The Aquatic Supertrooper told them. I destroyed the data and the formula a long time ago.
"And the Energy Star?" Niko asked.
Come with me, She gestured. I will show you…
She took them to a small cove nearby. She removed a large seashell to reveal a large blue gemstone. Niko, only a true psychic can properly wield the Energy Star without damaging themselves. Open your mind to me.
Niko was nearly overwhelmed with the quick and powerful images she was assaulted with. "Ahhh…" She fell backwards into Shane's arms.
"Niko?" Shane gasped.
"I'm okay," Niko untangled herself from Shane's arms. "It was just a very powerful experience."
Your friends are in danger, Cheyenne told her as she gave her the Energy Star. You need this to save them.
"Danger?" Niko was startled.
Cheyenne nodded. Suddenly they felt a strong current swirling around them. "HANG ON!" Shane clung to Niko.
Before they knew it they had been transported by a strong current to where the wrecked sub was. They saw Zach and Doc pinned down by laser fire by several attackers in gray diving suits. There was also a large sub hovering over them.
"Come on!" Shane didn't think twice. Even without weapons he couldn't allow his friends to get hurt. He tackled one from behind and knocked another one down with his tail. Another diver fired at him. Shane dodged it. Icarus and Winter hit the diver from behind.
When another diver took aim at the dolphins, Shane took the opportunity to grab a fallen blaster. "Nobody fires on my dolphins!" He snapped as he used the blaster to knock it out of the enemy's hands.
"Is this what you're looking for?" Niko held up the Energy Star. A blast of light emerged from it. It sent out a ray of energy that hit the sub.
"Yeah! It's the cavalry!" Doc whooped.
Shane used his tail to knock down another enemy diver as Niko used the Energy Star to blast at the enemy. "Let's give them a hand!" Zach touched his badge and activated his bionic arm. He sent out a powerful thunderbolt at the enemy.
"Retreat!" Someone inside the ship shouted. The divers fled for their lives. The sub managed to cloak and get away.
"Let 'em go," Zach called out. "You found the Energy Star."
"Yeah we…" Shane looked around. He realized Cheyenne was nowhere to be seen.
"It's very powerful," Niko warned them. "It has a psychic connection. That's how I learned how to use it."
"We didn't find the formulas," Zach said. "It looked like they were destroyed in the crash."
"We know…" Icarus began. Shane quickly covered his snout.
"What?" Zach blinked.
"Nothing could have survived that crash," Niko said quickly. "Come on, we'd better get to the ship and put the Energy Star in a containment chamber."
"You go on ahead. I'll be right back!" Shane called out. He went to search for Cheyenne before the others could stop him. He found her a short distance away. "Wait! Don't go!" Impulsively he embraced her like a child craving his mother's affection. "Don't go…"
She returned the embrace. Shane you know I cannot go back. Human beings have such unlimited potential within themselves…Both good and bad. And projects like the Supertrooper program are at best dangerous shortcuts to that potential. They would use me as well as you to cause more harm. It's better this way.
"I…know, but I can't help the way I feel," Shane said. "I just found you and now…"
And now it's time for you to go back to your life. Perhaps a little wiser and with your mind more open to the possibilities. But know this, you are not alone. You never were. Your friends cherish you. You are a part of them now. No one can take that away from you unless you allow it.
What you have learned here, what you will learn…She pulled away and looked into his eyes. Will make you stronger and allow you to see yourself and the world as never before. All things have connections to the Earth. Even Supertroopers.
She tenderly kissed him on the forehead. Until we meet again my child…
A powerful shock jolted Shane. He recognized it as his body returning to it's normal form. What? NO! Shane screamed with his mind. Not now! Just a little longer…
Take him back! Now! Hurry! Cheyenne cried out to Winter and Icarus.
A searing pain shot through Shane's loins as his tail split back into legs. He tried to scream but found his mouth filled with water. The last thing he saw was Cheyenne's tender face growing smaller as he was pulled towards the surface before blackness enveloped him.
Meanwhile the other Rangers had made it to their ship. "Good thing we have a remote control on this thing," Doc said as he took off his helmet on the bridge. "Of course it would have been better if it had arrived while those jokers were firing on us."
"I wonder who those guys were?" Niko asked as she placed the Energy Star in a container.
"Probably friends of ex-senator Gann," Zach said. "Whoever they were they're long gone. At least we got the Energy Star. Contact Goose and…"
He was interrupted by the dolphins' loud cry as they broke the surface. Shane was between them, barely hanging on. "HELP! RANGERS! GOOSE NEEDS HELP!"
"Oh no…" Niko gasped. She went to get the first aid kit inside.
"Get him out of the water!" Zach shouted. He and Doc managed to grab Shane and dragged him on the deck.
"Goose you're back!" Doc helped pull him aboard. "And you're naked…Oh boy." He covered his eyes. "I did not need to see that!"
Niko ran out with a blanket and they quickly covered him. "Shane, are you okay?" She asked.
"I think so…" He coughed. "I think I swallowed some sea water…"
Not long afterwards there was another meeting back at BETA with Zach, Doc, Niko, Walsh, Q-Ball and Dr. Nagata. "Shouldn't Goose be at this debriefing?" Zach asked.
"I think the Goose has been debriefed long enough," Doc smirked. "Besides he's back to his normal two legged self. For now anyway."
"I don't think we're going to have to worry about that again," Dr. Nagata told them. "Goose's bio defenses and genetic structure have stabilized back to normal."
"It appears the whole incident was just a fluke," Q-Ball agreed. "In fact his bio-defenses seem to have obliterated that recessive gene as soon as he returned to human form."
"Obliterated it? Are you saying that Gooseman's genes can literally repair themselves of any defects?" Walsh was stunned. "We've tried that for years in the Supertrooper program without any success."
"It appears Gooseman is successful," Doctor Nagata remarked. "It's a pity we couldn't have discovered this before. We might have been able to apply it to the other Supertroopers so a disaster like Wolf Den would not have happened."
"Are you saying that even if Gooseman was exposed to X-Factor it wouldn't have harmed him?" Walsh asked.
"We may never know," Q-Ball shrugged.
"Well I think some questions like that are better off unanswered," Zach told him. "Goose isn't a science project you know?"
"Technically he did start out that way," Doctor Nagata pointed out. "But we see your point."
"At least the data was destroyed and the Energy Star is safely stowed away at BETA," Walsh nodded. "What does disturb me is the potential witness."
"That McQueeg character? Don't worry that guy is missing a few fishing lures from his tackle box," Doc snorted. "Nobody would believe him even if he did say something."
"Doc and I met up with him before we left and he said some weird stuff," Zach nodded. "Something about how weird our tastes were but he couldn't blame us if we found ones with the same kind of hair as the other one. And he really didn't like muscular types or something."
"Do you know what that was about?" Doc looked at a smirking Niko.
"Trust me Doc," Niko grinned. "You don't want to know."
Shane stared out over the water as he sat near the lake at BETA mountain. He was wearing his black cowboy outfit but had removed his boots and socks. Cautiously he tapped a bare foot on top of the water, closing his eyes as he recalled the sensations he had while he was trapped in his former state.
Ironic, all that time I wanted to change back so badly and now I'd give almost anything to have a tail again, Shane thought to himself. If only to see her for a moment…
He jerked out of his revere to see Niko walking up to him. "Oh it's you…" He drew his foot back, feeling slightly embarrassed to be caught like this.
"I'd have thought this would be one of the last places you would hang out after what you'd been through the past few days," Niko sat down next to him.
"Yeah, go figure," Shane sighed as he put his socks and boots back on. "By the way…Thanks for not telling anyone else about…you know. And not just the net thing. About her."
"I figured she's been through a lot," Niko said softly. "She deserves her privacy."
"Not to mention what the Board of Leaders would do if they found out that there was one ancient Supertrooper still alive on Earth," Shane admitted. "They wouldn't hesitate to…"
"You don't know that."
"I know, Niko. Trust me on this," Shane shook his head. "I'm not going to let them find out and hunt her down. I won't."
"Don't worry Shane, she's safe now," Niko patted his hand. "She's survived about a hundred years without anyone finding her. I have a feeling she knows how to keep out of sight."
"Niko…This is gonna sound crazy…" Shane was hesitant to say anything. "I think…I think somehow…The real reason I couldn't change back was…Was so I could meet her. Does that sound strange?"
"Not to me," Niko told him. "I was raised by a woman who was a devout believer in karma. I think what you went through was meant to be."
"When she…" Shane struggled to put it into words. "It was like some connection sparked between us. I could feel her pain. She was so sad but seeing me made her happy. She knew who I was. She knew I had her genes inside me. I…For the first time in my life I…It felt like I had a family…I mean the Rangers are my family and technically so are the other Supertroopers but this…"
"Everybody wants some kind of connection," Niko gently squeezed his hand. "Even Supertroopers. Technically she's your mother. Or one of them anyway. Like it or not Shane there is a bond between the two of you now."
"Actually…I kind of like it. It's also kind of nice knowing there's at least one Supertrooper out there that doesn't hate my guts," Shane grumbled.
He sighed and took a breath. "We're not supposed to have any family connections, Supertroopers that is. No history, no past…no relatives. So it would be easier to stay together as a unit and not worry about any loved ones. So we could fight better. I used to tell myself that I didn't need any blood relatives. That I was better off without those kind of attachments. But now…"
"I know how you feel," Niko nodded. "I'm also an orphan. I mean I love my mentor Ariel like a mother but sometimes…I wonder who my real parents were. If I have any family at all in the universe. At least you finally got to meet yours."
"Do you think I'll ever be like her?" Shane asked. "I mean she was able to change herself beyond what she was designed to do. She's a lot more powerful than anyone thought. Could something like that happen to me?"
"I think it already has," Niko told him. "Think about it, Shane. No matter how hard they drilled that training into you, no matter how much of a Supertrooper you were conditioned to be…You were able to rise above that. You gained the ability to be compassionate and to dream. You developed honor and a sense of justice. You have a good heart Shane and the ability to love, and that's probably the greatest power of all."
"Yeah well, I still say a good pair of blasters isn't bad," Shane settled back into his familiar tough guy façade. He stood up. "I'm ready to go back now."
"Let's get something to eat," Niko suggested as she got up and walked with him. "Any ideas?"
"Anything but seafood," Shane shrugged. "I still can't get the taste of seaweed out of my mouth."