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who lives, who dies (who tells your story)

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Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.

A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.

-Shannon Alder

 

 

There is a little girl who dreams of being a Ranger, a little boy who dreams of saving the world.

Sometimes, rarely, that girl, that boy, that child reaching for the stars, gets their wish. They become a Gia Moran, a Casey Rhodes, a Dustin Brooks, a Theo Martin. They become a hero, get to learn the rush of connecting to the Power, get to feel their vocal cords integrate into the Grid.

Sometimes, that child grows up and reaches for the stars and falls. This is the story of Trent Fernandez, Ryan Mitchell, Karone. Their reach for heroism, for a different life, comes crashing down around their shoulders as they become the very thing they were supposed to hate.

Sometimes, that child gets to help the Rangers, if only barely. There is a boy who lends his tiger spirit to a flagging Red Ranger, a girl who hands an ax over to the Green Series Operator, a little alien kid who hands a blaster over to the Pink B-Squad Ranger.

Most of the time, though, those children don’t grow up to become Rangers. Instead, they just see the Rangers rescuing them, get to bear witness to a legacy in the making.

There are thousands of little mutant and alien kids who look up to B-Squad and see nothing but heroes, an entire city that places its hope in the Series Operators and their relationships, a city that depends on Rangers to stop the demons from invading.

Being a Ranger is not just about saving the world, about wielding great power and wearing colorful armor. It is about the legacy one leaves, the children who will tell your stories.

Rangers have legacies; this is known. But the kind of legacies they leave are varied. Some are ones of hope, some are not. Magic, mutant abilities, symbol power- these can’t stop every monster. There are some deaths that can’t be stopped, deaths that are carried on the shoulders of Rangers.

Names like Kara Finley and Alicia Alvarez and Frankie O’Hara and Mason Truman- these are the responsibilities carried by Rangers who failed to save everyone. These are the names that sit in the backs of brains, hunch spines, break voices.

There are dead Soulmates littering sidewalks in damaged cities, planets wrecked by galactic empires, an Earth destroyed by a computer virus and its armies.

But on the other hand, there are also universes without Rangers, universes where there are far more deaths or far fewer deaths, universes where actors and students and scientists never have to become soldiers.

(Would it really be worth it to have a world without the legacy of the Rangers? A world where there is never a rainbow of teams, where the mountains are not full of generations of Rangers when the Armada arrives?)

There are worlds where Rita Repulsa or Ecliptor or Xandred or Gruumm invade and win, where humanity falls because there is no one to save it.

There are some universes where Dai Shi is never released, where Sledge turns away from earth, where Venjix is never created, and thus Rangers never have to arrive.

There are worlds where Soulmates are different, where war never pushes Soulmates together. There are worlds where Koda and Ivan die in their original times, where Karone and Tyzonn and Zhane and Andros and Orion are never forced from their planets by war.

(What does it mean to be a hero in those universes, worlds where “once a ranger” means nothing?)

There are worlds where there are kids who never grow up to become Rangers, who live peaceful lives never knowing the taste of steel against their skin or the smell of the inside of a helmet, and there are worlds where some kids never grow up at all.

There are worlds where Hunter and Blake Bradley’s parents live, where Brody Romero never becomes a slave. There are worlds where Bowen grows up with parents, never knowing what it’s like to be abused by the people who are supposed to love him.

There are worlds Lauren and Jayden don’t exist. Chasing and fighting Xandred push the Shibas to America- if Xandred doesn’t exist, then there is no reason to bring their father in contact with a woman named Karen Hanson.

There are worlds where S.P.D. doesn’t happen. Without Gruumm, after all, Cruger has no reason to bring alien tech and experiments to Earth.

Heroes need villains to fight, after all- any legend will tell you that.

(What is a legacy, in worlds that have no heroes or villains, no hope to look up to and no monsters to fear?)

Kendrix Morgan looks up at the stars and ends up becoming an astronaut; Jack Landors is never born. Taylor Earhardt and her Soulmate Kara join the Air Force together and live happily ever after; Xander and Vida never meet Chip. Ryan Mitchell grows up to become a doctor; Angel Grove is decimated by an alien Empress with no enemy.

So these are the worlds where “Ranger” has no meaning, where no child looks at rainbows of armor made out of that’s-not-spandex and sees hope. Maybe things are a little better and a little worse, in these worlds. There is destruction without hope and a lack of superheroes without enemies to fight. Sometimes the world lives, sometimes it dies.

No matter what, there will still be children looking up at the stars, wondering about the world, dreaming of more. But here, without supernatural forces or magic or aliens or animal spirits, without the Power, sometimes dreams stay just that.

Gia races cars. Casey flips pizzas. Dustin collects comics. Theo learns how to fight.

Casey doesn’t become a leader. Gia doesn’t meet Jen Scotts and learn how to accept non-Soulmate relationships. Cam doesn’t become a Samurai, and spends the rest of his life in his mother’s shadow. Theo Martin doesn’t learn how to pace and humble himself.

Gia still meets Emma Goodall in elementary school and finds that their ink matches, while Theo and Lily still meet at the Pai Zhua academy and discover their connection after they become Masters. Casey Rhodes meets his Soulmate, a guy named Derek Walker, one day on his shift at a pizza store. Dustin’s Soulmate, a girl named Kristen, dies in a car crash, and he spends his life with bare skin on his arm, no matter how many people he dates.

Casey never learns the name Robert James. Cam Watanabe brushes past Dustin Brooks in training at the Wind Academy and never glances at him twice.

History changes, and a legacy is never formed. The children still grow, still reach for the stars, but without a Power to reach to, none of them ever learn the tragedy and triumph of heroism.

And maybe that’s better. Maybe that’s worse.

Only one thing can be guaranteed: in these universes, the only legacy they carry is their own.

(And sometimes it is very, very lonely.)

 

In one timeline we kiss but the stars don’t come down.

In another you set a world on fire for me but I perish in the flames.

Another and we’re strangers on a busy street, brushing by close enough to send each other reeling off balance but not stopping.

-Elizabeth Hewer