08 Birthday Blues
DISCLAIMER I do NOT own Power Rangers, Dino Thunder, or any character other than Austin.
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After a brief trip to the South Pole mid-fight, the Rangers- minus Austin- have defeated a massive, teleporting monster. Back in Mesogog's lab, Elsa and Zeltrax are disheartened as they watch the battle on a monitor.
"You gonna tell him or am I?" Elsa asked.
"I cannot bear to bring my master such bad news again," Zeltrax responded. Before Elsa could retort, Zeltrax suddenly came up with the idea to go inside the machine they used to make monsters to see if it would make him stronger. Elsa begrudgingly helped him out, and soon Zeltrax stepped out out after the machine finished.
?" Elsa questioned.
the same," Zeltrax responded.
"But I feel alive!" another voice added. A red and gold monster similar to Zeltrax emerged from the machine, kneeling in front of steel-colored villain.
"Father, I live to serve you," it continued. Zeltrax and Elsa exchanged looks of complete surprise.
Trent found himself working an especially busy shift at Hayley's Cyberspace one day while the tech genius hung what appeared to be party decorations. Trent bobbed and weaved through the café, delivering drinks to all the teenage patrons. Meanwhile, Ethan was pranking the school reporter, Cassidy, and Kira was preparing for her next performance.
Suddenly and without warning, Anton Mercer strode through the front door of the establishment. Stopping, he glanced around the café with a look of disdain. Trent walked over to him, wondering why his father had come to his workplace.
"Dad, what are you doing here?" he asked.
"I thought I'd give you a ride home; you ready?" Mercer questioned.
"Dad, I'm kinda in the middle of work," Trent responded.
"Listen, I don't mean this to sound
but don't you think a managerial position would suit you better? I mean, waiting tables doesn't exactly scream Mercer," Anton remarked.
"Dad, I like working here, and besides, I'm in high school. This is what kids do," Trent interjected.
well let me think about it and maybe I can come up with a compromise we'll both like. See you at home," Mercer responded. Trent was left bewildered by the comment as his dad left the café.
Later, Trent exited the Cyberspace after work, accompanied by the Oliver's. Tommy had gladly agreed to give Trent a ride home, so they were heading out to his Jeep. Austin, who walked silently at Tommy's side, no longer had bandages around his ribs. However, he was still recovering from his injury and wouldn't be joining his fellow Rangers again for another few days.
"Thanks again for the ride Dr. O," Trent remarked.
"No problem. You know, I've been wondering; all those years working with Mercer and he never mentioned he had a son," Tommy responded.
"He didn't. A few years ago he and my real parents were working on a dig, and there was a cave in. My parents never made it out," Trent explained.
"I'm sorry to hear that," Tommy replied as the group climbed into his Jeep. A few minutes later, Tommy spotted something approaching quickly behind the Jeep.
"Trent, you see that?" Tommy questioned.
"The big, gold guy running 50 mph behind us? Yeah!" Trent responded, worried. Tommy slammed on the brakes and the strange being slammed into the back of the Jeep before falling onto its back. Hopping out of the Jeep, Tommy and Trent cautiously approached the golden humanoid.
"Man, my insurance company is never gonna buy this," Tommy remarked. Suddenly, the being stood up.
"Which one of you is Dr. Oliver?" it asked.
"That'd be me," Tommy answered.
"Prepare to be destroyed!" the being cried.
"Trent, get back!" Tommy ordered as the monster attacked. Tommy fought off the blows, but was eventually knocked back. Taking cover behind the Jeep, he called for backup with his black Dino Gem bracelet.
"Let me try!" Trent said, attempting to fend off the monster. He was unsuccessful, but thankfully the other three Rangers arrived and blasted the monster back with their Raptor Cycles.
"You guys okay?" the Red Ranger asked. Tommy nodded, avoiding talking to the Rangers so that Trent wouldn't find out their secret. Suddenly and without warning, Zeltrax appeared beside the monster and forced it to retreat with him through an invisiportal.
"Is he gone?" a voice suddenly asked. Everyone turned to see Austin peeking out of the Jeep's back seat. Tommy knew immediately that his son was just putting on an act; the younger Oliver was horrible at lying.
"Yeah, thanks to the Power Rangers," the elder Oliver answered awkwardly.
"Drive safely!" the Green Ranger remarked. He and the other two Rangers then sped off on their raptor cycles. Climbing back in the Jeep, Tommy shook off the awkward encounter and took Trent the rest of the way home.
Oliver's house, the next morning
Saturday morning had come, and with it a special day. Austin excitedly made his way downstairs in just a t-shirt and his briefs, smiling at the thought of breakfast. As he neared the kitchen, a familiar smell wafted into his nostrils. The younger of the two Oliver's increased his pace, arriving in the kitchen and skidding to a stop by the dining table. Resting on top of it was a box of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.
"Happy birthday son," Tommy said, walking over with two glasses of milk. A pair of plates already sat on the table, ready for use.
"Thanks dad!" Austin responded. Once his father set the glasses down, Austin hugged him tightly. Tommy picked up his son's small frame and hugged him back, the younger Oliver wrapping his arms around his father's neck. This was the first of Austin's birthdays that the father and son would get to celebrate together, so it was very important to them.
Eventually the two Oliver's separated and sat down; Austin scooting his chair over so it was right next to his dad. The father and son ate happily together, but their fun was suddenly broken up by a frantic knocking at the front door. Tommy walked over to the large hunk of wood, and was shocked to see Hayley outside with a distressed expression on her face.
"It's Hayley, go pull some pants on!" the elder Oliver quickly said to his son. Having just finished his second doughnut, Austin quickly ran upstairs. Meanwhile, Tommy let Hayley inside.
"You're never gonna believe this!" she said immediately, showing Tommy a notice she'd received. Tommy quickly scanned the important details and then looked up in horror. As of the next day, Anton Mercer would be Hayley's new landlord. Only God knew what would happen to the Cyberspace then.
"Yeah, that was my reaction. I can't believe Mercer did this," Hayley remarked.
"I have a friend at City Hall who might be able to help us. Get Trent while I call other Rangers, and then we'll head over there," Tommy responded.
"No problem," Hayley replied, pulling out her phone. Just then, Austin returned downstairs wearing a blue American Eagle tee under a blue, plaid button up and a pair of black jeans.
"What's going on?" he asked.
"Anton Mercer bought Hayley's Cyberspace," Tommy answered worriedly. Austin's eyes widened in shock.
"Alright, I got a hold of Trent; he'll be waiting for you outside his house. Oh, and it wasn't his idea Tommy; Mercer acted alone," Hayley said suddenly.
"Okay, I'll pick him up first. Austin, come with me; we'll get Ethan too. Hayley, tell Conner to pick up Kira," Tommy responded.
"Remind me again why I can't take my car?" Austin questioned.
"Because I saw it leaking oil and it's being fixed," Tommy responded.
"I still don't know how a car with only 50,000 miles on it already has an oil leak
" Austin muttered.
"Alright guys, I'll call Conner and try to stall Mercer; good luck!" Hayley remarked. Then she handed Tommy the notice and headed out the door. Taking a deep breath, the Black Ranger grabbed his keys and left the house with his son.
About half an hour later, all five Rangers and Trent met up outside city hall. Tommy had made a call on the way, so his friend- a councilwoman- was waiting for them outside. Just as they met up with her, however, Zeltrax and the monster- known as Goldenrod- appeared atop the steps leading to the building.
"Austin, Trent, get the councilwoman out of here!" Tommy ordered. The two boys quickly got the councilwoman out of harm's way, taking shelter behind the building.
"Thank you, so much. If there's ever anything I can do for you
" the councilwoman started.
"Actually, I'd like to talk to you about Hayley's Cyberspace. My father, Anton Mercer, is making a huge mistake." Trent responded. He and Austin then began talking with the councilwoman. Meanwhile, Tommy and the other Rangers morphed and fought Zeltrax and Goldenrod in front of the building.
"I thought we were here to fight City Hall," Conner remarked as the battle began.
"Obviously they must've meant fight in front of it," Kira retorted. As the battle continued, the villains summoned some Tyrannodrones, which the Rangers began fighting off. Tommy and Zeltrax engaged in a duel, the evildoer once again seeking revenge. Tommy still didn't know why his adversary was so obsessed with him, but he fought him off anyway.
"Goldenrod, attack the city!" Zeltrax suddenly ordered.
"Yes father!" Goldenrod responded. He then used some sort of ability to grow to a massive size. Now as large as the city's tallest buildings, Goldenrod began a trail of destruction.
"That's our cue, let's do it Brachio!" Tommy remarked, summoning his zord. The Brachiozord appeared, releasing the other zords from inside of it. The Megazord was formed, and the Rangers began to fight Goldenrod unsuccessfully. Tommy was stuck dueling Zeltrax, but knew that his students were in trouble. Upping his effort, the Black Ranger quickly made Zeltrax his bitch. The beaten villain futilely demanded that Tommy come back and fight while lying defeated on the ground.
Leaving Zeltrax, Tommy ran to where the Megazord was battling Goldenrod. The giant monster was actually winning, so things looked grim for the Rangers. Tommy stepped in with his Brachio staff and unleashed wind, earthquake and fire blasts of immense power that destroyed Goldenrod. Zeltrax retreated sadly to his master's lair.
Hayley's Cyberspace, later
Anton Mercer strode up to Reefside's popular cyber café with a few other men and a slew of plans. However, Hayley met him outside and managed to stall for a minute before Tommy and the teens showed up with the councilwoman. Mrs. Sanchez, as was her name, informed Mercer that the city council had voted to put his purchase on hold. Frustrated, the rich businessman left the premises.
With Mercer dealt with, Tommy left to take Trent home and Councilwoman Sanchez back to town hall. In the meantime, Hayley and the teenage Rangers went inside the strangely darkened cyber cafe. Austin stood outside, wondering why the place was so dark when it was supposed to be open. He figured Hayley would know, so after a few moments he headed inside as well. As he stepped through the double doors into the main room, the lights suddenly flashed on.
"Surprise!" Hayley and the other Rangers cried, jumping up from behind a table with a blue tablecloth. Austin backpedalled in shock. The whole room was covered in blue party decorations, and several tables with blue tablecloths had been set up. One, a round table, was full of presents, while another had a cake and other food. A third had ice cold refreshments.
"Happy Birthday!" they added.
"Wow, thanks guys!" Austin responded. Hayley and the other Rangers started off their surprise birthday party for Austin with some games, which the young Oliver really enjoyed. The boy lived up to his age, playing around with little regard to maturity. Once all the games had been played, the partygoers settled down and began eating lunch. Hayley was shocked at how much pizza the teens ate while still leaving room for cake.
Just as the partygoers prepared to light the candles, a horn was heard outside. Everyone turned towards the front doors, which Tommy stepped through moments later.
"Dad!" Austin cried, rushing over. The two Oliver's met in a hug, the younger happy to have his dad at the party. This would be his first birthday party with his real father in attendance.
"Alright you two, we've got candles to blow out," Hayley cut in.
"Of course, sorry I delayed things," Tommy responded. He and Austin made their way over to where the cake sat, at which point Hayley lit the 9 candles on top of it. After the others sang 'Happy Birthday to You' Austin blew out the candles and made a wish. Despite Conner asking him what it was, the boy refused to tell as that meant it would likely not come true.
With the candles blown out, Hayley took them out and cut the cake. Austin got the first piece of the chocolate delicacy, and began to eat it along with a scoop of ice cream while the others were served. Once everyone had eaten their cake and/or ice cream, it was time for Austin to open his presents.
Everyone gathered around the table of presents, and Austin sat down in his father's lap. First came a present Conner, Kira and Ethan bought together; an Xbox 360 bundle. It came with a new console, a remote, Forza Motorsport 4 and an Xbox 360 wireless speed wheel. The other Rangers had also bought an extra controller so that Austin and his dad could play the console together.
Next came Hayley, who presented Austin with a metal briefcase. After blocking all the windows, she instructed Austin to morph. The Blue Ranger complied, and then pulled out his Thundermax Saber as instructed. This was the common Ranger sidearm, and it was about to get an upgrade. Hayley opened the metal briefcase, revealing white parts with gold detail.
"I got this design from one of the Rangers that came from the future. Just put these attachments on the saber and you've got an even more powerful blaster," Hayley explained. She helped Austin put the attachments on the saber, and once in place the weapon had become a powerful blaster.
"It's called the Electro Booster," Hayley added. Austin looked over the weapon in awe, taking in the design.
"I can't wait to use this thing
" he remarked, practically drooling in anticipation. The other Rangers had a laugh before Austin powered down.
"Well, that's all the presents," Ethan remarked, seeing an empty table.
"Actually, there's one more," Tommy cut in.
"Where is it then?" Kira questioned.
"We're going to have to drive to it," Tommy explained, "It's a big surprise."
"Alright, let's go everyone," Hayley remarked, standing up. The tech genius led everyone outside, where she, Austin, Tommy and Kira climbed in the Jeep. Ethan and Conner, on the other hand, climbed in the latter's 70's Mustang and proceeded to follow the others through the city. Eventually the Rangers' little excursion ended at a structure that only Hayley and the Black Ranger had ever seen before.
"Where are we?" Austin questioned, looking around in confusion. The Rangers were in a part of Reefside that they hadn't been in much before. The group appeared to be outside an auto garage; a blank, white building with a simple sign on the front. No one was around, and judging by the sign the shop was closed.
"You sure we've got the right place?" Kira added.
"I've got a friend who works at this garage; I've got keys to get in," Hayley explained.
"Let me guess, you guys got my oil leak fixed free of charge," Austin guessed halfheartedly.
"Actually, that was just something I came up with to keep you from getting suspicious," Tommy explained.
"Yeah, and while he didn't do any of the work, what you're about to see was all Tommy's idea," Hayley added. She and the five Rangers then headed inside the auto shop, entering a space that would best be described as a showroom and a shop area all in one. Sitting atop the smooth, laminate floor was Austin's 2010 Shelby Mustang GT500. However, it looked a lot different than when Austin and his friends had last seen it.
"There are a lot of things to cover, so I'll start with the cosmetic changes, then the performance upgrades and finally the special stuff," Hayley started. The tech genius then began to outline all the work that had been done on the already fancy vehicle.
First was the paint job, which had been changed from black with blue stripes to blue with white stripes. Next were the tail lights, which had been removed and replaced with those of the new 2013 model. From there Hayley moved to the interior of the vehicle. The plain, black paneling and details had been redone, now sporting blue in the color scheme. The black, faded rear seats had been replaced with a new pair, black with blue in the middle. In addition, the front seats had been swapped out for the new Recaro racing-style seats available in the 2013 model.
Moving on to the performance category, Hayley explained that some guys from Shelby American came and tuned the performance of the car to the max, making it comparable to the new Shelby 1000. In addition, a new set of tires had been put on the car, and they were the as close as street legal rubber could get to being racing quality.
All these improvements already had Austin drooling, but there was still more to come. This was where Hayley got into the special goodies she'd put in herself.
"Along with the original performance upgrades, I did some work of my own to increase the car's handling ability. It's still not the most graceful vehicle, but it'll give most muscle cars a run for their money," the tech genius remarked.
" was all Austin could say. The other Rangers were too busy gawking to respond. Moving on, Hayley demonstrated that the paint was actually able to change between the standard blue with white stripes and the old, black scheme with additional Dino Thunder logos. This, she explained, was so that the vehicle could be used in combat without people getting suspicious of Austin at school and elsewhere.
With all the other new features introduced, Hayley moved her focus to the last item on the agenda: weapons. Among the car's arsenal were twin headlight lasers, a mine layer for tailgaters, retractable spikes on the rims, and a pair of rocket launchers. With all the weapons introduced, the Rangers were completely flabbergasted.
" Ethan remarked. He now had a whole new respect for the genius. Austin climbed into the car and looked around it, seemingly in heaven.
"Who wants to go for a ride?" he asked excitedly.
The Oliver's house
About an hour later, Austin had dropped off Ethan and Kira at their homes after the three of them had gone on a joy ride in his car. Conner would have come with them, but he had to drive his own Mustang home. Now the birthday boy pulled into the driveway of his house and stepped out of the car, immediately regressing to his normal age. He then walked to the front door, and stepped inside the house.
Austin's small frame was immediately scooped up by his father, whom he shared a hug with. Despite being rather small for his age, the 9 year-old was starting to get too big to be picked up. Tommy was strong from all his training, however, and still supported him fairly well. Separating, the two Oliver's took a seat on the staircase; Austin sitting in Tommy's lap.
"I'm sorry the whole Cyberspace thing interrupted your birthday," Tommy said.
"It's alright dad, at least Hayley's café is safe," Austin responded, "and besides, I still got a surprise party."
"That you did," Tommy responded, chuckling, "Anyway, how's BJ's sound for dinner?" Austin's eyes widened at the sound of his favorite restaurant.
"You mean it?" he asked excitedly.
"Of course; it's your birthday dinner," Tommy responded.
"Alright then, let's go!" Austin cried. Tommy smiled as he followed his son outside and into the Shelby Mustang. The drive to BJ's was short, and soon the two Oliver's were being seated. When the server asked what they wanted to drink, Austin made sure to get a glass of the root beer the restaurant brewed itself. A few minutes later the Oliver's received their drinks and placed their orders. Austin got a personal-sized pizza, his favorite dish at BJ's.
Eventually the two Oliver's finished eating, paid, and headed back out to the car. Austin walked tiredly out of the restaurant, not playing in the revolving door like he had when they'd arrived. The younger Oliver remained quiet for the entire ride home, and immediately headed upstairs upon arriving. Tommy, meanwhile, decided to go ahead and get ready for bed himself. He might not have lost any fighting skill, but the same could not be said for his stamina. Just as the Black Ranger moved to climb in bed, he was interrupted by a small voice.
" Austin said quietly. The small boy stood timidly in the doorway, clad in a black Denny Hamlin t-shirt and briefs. Low rumbling came from outside, a telltale sign of a severe thunderstorm. Tommy took in the terrified expression on his son's face; never before had the boy seemed so innocent and vulnerable. The elder Oliver immediately knew what was wrong.
"Come here," Tommy responded. Austin crossed the room hurriedly, and was promptly lifted into his father's waiting arms. The elder Oliver then set his son down on the bed before laying down himself. Pulling the covers over Austin and himself, Tommy wrapped an arm protectively around his son. Comforted by his father's presence, Austin closed his eyes and quickly fell asleep.