The Necessity of Heroes
The girl looked at Ashley's outfit with some fascination. "Where are
you from?" she asked.
"A long way away," Ashley told her, wishing that she and the others had
blended in a little bit more. WIth the Astro Megaship sustaining
unexpected damage on the way home to Earth, they'd had to stop on a
primitive planet and land in a forest outside one of the largest cities
in the area. The Megaship uniforms were too conspicuous, so they'd all
dressed in nice clothing, in hopes that they wouldn't look too out of
the ordinary while picking up some lunch, as DECA's synthesizers were
offline for a day or so.
"Oh. Did you arrive in an airship? You must have come a long way. I've
never seen fashion like that! Are you willing to sell any?"
"Um." She was expecting to have to sell something in order to buy food;
just not the clothes on her back. "This is all I have with me."
"Oh well." The girl sighed. "So, are you enjoying Fynn?"
Fynn? That was hopefully the town name, or the country name; Ashley
hoped it was the town's.
"It's a very nice place," she said. "Tell me, where can I sell some
things? I don't have the right money."
"Where do you live that doesn't have Gil?" the girl asked, clearly
surprised. A world with only one money system, great.
"It's a long story," Ashley said, hoping the girl wouldn't pry, and
deciding to change the subject. "I'm Ashley. What's your name?"
"Nissa," the girl replied. "Pleased to meet you. Ooh, look!"
Ashley decided that her new friend had the attention span of a
butterfly and looked in that direction, hoping that the girl wouldn't
steal anything. "What?" she asked, looking. She didn't see anything
"The blond haired man and the woman with them. See them?"
Ashley looked, and did see the two together, discussing something with
each other. "Yes?"
"That's Firion and Maria, they saved the world. You know, when the
Emperor tried to take it over?"
Nissa clearly expected her to know what she was talking about, and
Ashley wished that she did know the place's history. "Oh."
"They're really nice people - we were all refugees in Altair together,
and then they ended up saving the world. I can't say we're close
friends, but a lot of people know them. They just got married, you
know." She was nodding at the couple. "Let me introduce you."
Ashley caught T.J.'s eye, motioning in the direction that Nissa was
pulling her, and he nodded. A minute or two later, she was standing
with Nissa, and Nissa was saying hello to Firion and Maria. "Firion,
Maria, this is Ashley. She's from a land so far away that they don't
Maria and Firion looked at her, and she looked at them. Firion was
dressed comfortably in one of the local outfits, a sword strapped
across his back and a dagger at his belt. His wife was in a blouse and
loose, free-flowing pants, with a bow and quiver across her back, and
also a dagger. They were clearly warriors, no matter how young they
She suddenly wondered what she and Andros looked like together, to
outside eyes. How the newspapers on Earth would deal with their
"I've never known a place here that doesn't use Gil," Maria said
thoughtfully. "Even the people of the Island use Gil." She looked at
Nissa, and made a shooing option, obviously being careful and
"This isn't precisely my world," Ashley said. It might condemn her to
the local looney bin, for all she knew, or she and the others might
have to retreat. "We got stuck here for a little while, and needed to
buy supplies. We mean no harm."
Maria sighed. Firion was mumbling something to himself, and after a
moment, looked up. "She's telling the truth," he said, looking at his
wife. Maria relaxed a little, as did Firion.
"I know... we've been to hell and back," Maria said, and Ashley had to
wonder if she meant literally. "Where are you from?"
"We call it Earth," Ashley told her, hoping that the word didn't
Maria just nodded. "You've come a long way?"
"A very long way." Ashley sighed. "We're on our way home." Well, home
for her and the others, though she was seriously considering moving to
KO-35 if they were too popular on Earth. Everyone knew who and what she
"You don't want to go," Firion said, and she wondered what he saw in
"Let's just say that we saved our world, too." she told them. "And I
don't think I want to deal with the fame."
A smile lit up Maria's face, slightly bitter but knowing. "I wish we
didn't have to, either," she said, motioning at Firion. "But I guess we
have no choice."
Ashley wondered how it would be like for her. Maria and Firion were
left mostly in peace, it seemed, though it seemed fame had worn on
them. Their world probably didn't broadcast things 24/7, didn't have
the internet, didn't have people far and wide speculating on their
lives, which probably was happening on Earth now. It had been bad
enough that they'd gone to KO-35 for a few days' rest, to tie things up
on that end, before returning home.
She definitely wouldn't mind making that world home; it would probably
be more peaceful. The people had better things to do with their lives,
"Nor do we," Ashley said. "And in our world, I think it will be worse."
She didn't mind saving the world, but she didn't want to be famous.
None of them did.
She doubted Maria and Firion did, either, from their looks.
"I never thought I'd be known for my swordfighting skills," Maria
admitted. "I would have liked to be nothing better than a simple
farmer. But when people needed me, I heeded the call. I thought nothing
of how famous I would be. Now? I still wish I was, but I know I can't
go back. People need me." Her fingers twined around Firion's, and he
gave her a loving glance. "All of us."
"It wasn't such a bad fate," Firion said. "In the end. A story to tell
"Most of it, anyway," Maria said, "Unless you want to tell them about
that lamia queen...."
Firion blushed. "No." He looked over at Ashley. "We went through a lot.
I'm not sure I wanted the fame, either. But it wasn't upmost on my
"No." Maria added. "Endless days of travelling across the land, slaying
monsters, freeing people from slavery... I sometimes got tired of the
castles and the dungeons. GIve me a simple life any day."
Firion gave her a fond snort. "You were the one who wanted to go
adventuring when Princess Hilda said to stay safe in Altair."
"I'd lost Leon. I wanted to find him." Maria's statement was simple,
but the pain in her eyes implied that there was a lot more to that
story than what she was saying. "I did." The last was directed at
"You do what you have to do," Ashley acknowledged. "You be what you
have to be." In the aftermath, she'd talked to Tanya, her predecessor,
briefly. Nobody had ever thought Ranger identities would be exposed on
Earth, not with the code that Rangers lived by. Nobody had ever thought
of the fame, because that wasn't what they were interested in. You
saved the world, you did what you had to, and then you retired. That
was it, until Ashley's team.
Maybe it would be better to settle on KO-35. Their Rangers had never
hidden themselves. The attitudes here were like the attitudes of the
people of KO-35. She knew she'd eventually be forgotten after her
fifteen minutes of fame, but it seemed sometimes that fifteen minutes
of fame lasted far longer than it should.
Of course, their story was epic, or at least Andros' was. Losing his
sister, losing his world, finding his sister brainwashed... well, it
was a classic story at the very least. She wondered who Leon was, what
his relationship to Maria had been, how their story had unfolded. How
much they shared in common.
"Yes." Maria's expression said she knew the pain of sacrifice, of loss.
"You get through it all. No matter what. Sometimes, because you're the
only ones for the job."
In their case, there had been former Rangers. But they'd retired, gone
on with their lives. That was the entire point. You were Rangers for a
while, and then you passed the powers on to a new generation. That was
how things worked. So she and her team had been the only ones there to
save the world.
But ordinary people could be courageous, too. That's what she had been,
before she'd been a Ranger, the thing that had brought Tanya to choose
her. And it had been true of the people in Angel Grove, who had stepped
forward and been there with them when they were saving the world from
"Yes," Ashley said softly.
"There's a pub outside town," Maria said after a moment. "Would you...
like to have lunch there? I have a feeling that you have tales to tell.
You and whoever was with you."
It said something about Maria, how she assumed that Ashley had a team.
"I can't legally drink alcohol in my world," she said, "But if they
serve food... yes."
"Of course they do," Maria said, apparently surprised that she'd ask.
"The pub is welcome to everyone, from babes on up."
Maybe a world hadn't translated well, maybe customs were different
there. But Ashley was never one for turning down a new friend, and she
was sure the others would welcome something to eat, too. "Let me get
And she did, because they were all hungry, and who wouldn't want to
hear tales and share adventures?
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