Usual disclaimers apply.Battle of the Planets belongs to Sandy Frank.
Daniella says: Written for the Gatchamania summer gift exchange 2012, based on a prompt supplied by ElectricWhite: The team are betrayed by someone they trust, but not the usual suspects.
We should have known that, as soon as Cronus appeared on the scene, the game was up. He would not listen to reason. He would not give in to our pleas that we were only doing our job. No, it was back to Centre Neptune – in disgrace, told to go to our rooms, while the ISO would decide how to deal with us. And to think that we had actually trusted him!
Let me back up a bit here.
It had been a normal emergency call. I had been racing again, but decided not to push my luck this time and showed up on time. Mark was actually the one who was late, as he was completing a training circuit at the airfield and didn’t want to leave it mid-ways, but, hey, when had Anderson ever reprimanded him? I got so used to it, it almost didn’t bother me anymore. Almost.
We took off and encountered the mecha over the ocean. And there things turned sour. The mecha was one of those contraptions that had us running circles around, unable to do anything concrete about stopping it. The usual ensued: me over the red button, Mark giving orders to back down, Princess trying to keep the peace, Keyop eyeing sadly the older and – supposedly – more mature members of the team, and Tiny dreaming of spaceburgers. OK, I’m joking about the last part. Tiny was actually the one who saved all our asses and managed to get us back to Centre Neptune in one piece.
And then the real trouble began. You see, Anderson was in no mood to risk the Phoenix – and us, he thoughtfully added, how nice of him – to go against the mecha until we had some more info about it. Which resulted in us cooling our heels in the ready room, with Mark going up to the Chief every half hour or so to ask him for permission to have another go at the mecha, and the Chief steadfastly refusing. He could be a right bastard when he wants to, there were cities being attacked out there and Anderson kept us there, waiting for his scientist buddies to come up with a solution. In the end, it was too much even for Mark.
“I never thought I’d say this, team, but it’s time we showed some initiative.”
“Have a go at it, you mean?” I perked up immediately.
“But Mark...” began Princess.
“We can’t let this go on, Princess! That’s another city the mecha attacked! At least we should be trying to make it harder for it to attack, even if we can’t stop it completely!”
“Yes, but if we lose the Phoenix in the process, how’s that going to help?”
“We won’t, Princess, just watch me do my thing around it!” said Tiny, as always confident he could outwit and outmanoeuvre whatever Zoltar threw at us.
“Shall we, then?” Mark pointed at the door.
I was out the door like a rocket, heading down to the Phoenix. Better get there before he changed his mind and had us all nice and proper in the ready room again.
The first attempt we made against the mecha was almost our last. Tiny saved the Phoenix by the skin of its teeth – that is, the mecha’s teeth, which snapped shut just inches from our butts. But, hey, we were out of there and preparing for a second go, this time with better coordination. We did not switch on the monitors. We did not communicate with Centre Neptune. We were so deep in it with Anderson now, it would not get any better if we actually hurled verbal abuse at him. Which we would certainly do, as soon as he ordered us back home. Which he would. So we went with the old maxim that silence is golden.
Taking a battering that had left us shaking and speechless, but not broken, we continued our attacks against the mecha all through the day. Or maybe night, I was too tired to check the time. Princess was leaning over her monitors, knuckles gripping the edges of her seat. Keyop looked exhausted. Even Mark had droplets of sweat on his forehead, bearing the double burden of having disobeyed Anderson and placed his team in danger, and not being able to at least defeat the mecha. As for me, I was not ready to go back to Centre Neptune. Not yet. There had to be a way to beat this thing. As long as Anderson did not physically bring us back to base, we would find the way. I was sure.
And then, the Red Rangers appeared. Our spirits rose considerably when we heard Cronus on the radio, saying that he had come to offer his assistance. We quickly passed on to him all the data we had collected, identifying the mecha’s weaknesses. The Red Rangers started a concerted attack that certainly bode well for us. Or so we thought.
Because as soon as the Red Rangers had started their attack, Cronus’s voice was heard again over the radio.
“I’m ordering you back to Centre Neptune! We will take over now. Mark, acknowledge the order!”
“What? No, I won’t acknowledge the order! You can’t order us back to Centre Neptune! We did all this work here, and now you’re sending us back home? No way! G-Force is staying!”
Good for you, Mark, I didn’t think you had it in you. Not that I said so aloud, of course.
“Mark, I repeat, this is an order! I have been given authorisation from Chief Anderson to take you back to base, forcibly, if I have to! You are in enough trouble as it is, don’t make it worse!”
“We trusted you, you bastard!” whispered Mark over the open intercom. “We gave you all our info, which we risked our lives to gather, and now you’re treating us as children!”
“You risked your lives because you disobeyed orders! Now turn back and head to base!”
I could see Mark gritting his teeth. Literally. While at the same time, what looked suspiciously like tears welled in his eyes. I knew how he felt. Cronus was supposed to be our friend. We had trusted him. And now he was sending us back to Anderson with our tail between our legs, not even letting us at least having the chance to defeat the mecha. Great. That’s what you get by trusting people.
As soon as the Phoenix changed course and headed towards Centre Neptune, Cronus opened a channel to
“They’re heading back now. They hate me, of course,” he said, matter-of-factly.
Anderson could be heard sighing.
“We can’t let them know that the Red Rangers are equipped with new weaponry that the Phoenix does not have yet. You know that this information is classified as top secret, even G-Force cannot know. This is why I wanted to keep them away from the mecha. At least they will make it back alive, thanks to you.”
“Yes, but they also gave me their data. They trusted me with the info they had collected, and now they see me as having betrayed them. It’s childish, I know. But, honestly, wouldn’t you feel the same?”
“Ah well,” said Anderson, and Cronus could almost imagine the smile on his face, “didn’t you know that trust is a four-letter word?”