Pete Robinson was pretty much your average Joe. He had a thin build, average height and he was neither particularly attractive nor unattractive. Pete was quite simply just another face in the crowd – particularly that skinny, nerdy looking kid hanging out in front of Wal Mart. At 25, Pete led a rather lackadaisical lifestyle – pretty much just getting by with his day job working a 6-hour shift five days a week as an employee at Games R' Go, which was a single-branch game shop whose name is a cheap rip-off of a nationwide chain of video game retail stores. That aside, Pete was quite content living off of his monthly wages as long as he could pay the rent on time for his modest but comfortable rent-to-own condo unit and have enough money left over to keep himself from starving as well as import questionable anime/manga paraphernalia from Japan including dakimakura, sexy anime figurines and the latest doujin games from Comiket among others.
"Take care now, Dah-ling." Said Ms. Primela Rosenkreuz, Games R' Go's fabulous secretary.
Primela was a very attractive woman in her early twenties who had glisteningly gorgeous wavy brunette hair and a very natural-sounding trans-atlantic accent. One could easily mistake her for a commercial model or an actress. In fact, it's a mystery to some people why she chooses to stay with such a commonplace day job as being a secretary at a no-name video game store.
"Thanks, Primela. I'll see you tomorrow."
It was 5:00 PM and Pete was just on his way home from his job working at Games R' Go. The place was actually just a short walk away from where he lived so he decided to stop by the local hobby shop as usual on his way home.
"Heya Pete! Buying anything today?"
Sheryl Harrison, the hobby shop's manager greeted Pete nonchalantly. Of course, she was being sarcastic with the extra poke at the end of the salutation. After all, Sheryl was pretty familiar with Pete having known him as one of the shop's regular customers ever since he moved in about five years ago.
Sheryl was a very plain looking girl and was just about Pete's age. Her brown hair was frizzy and sort of looked like overcooked spaghetti. She also wore very heavy-looking dark-rimmed glasses that made her look quite nerdy.
"Hiya, Sheryl. Nah, I'm just browsing around today."
"Typical. Please put everything back where you found them, though. I need
to do a triple-check on the inventory today."
"Any particular reason for that?"
Of course, Pete knew that Sheryl's organization skills were top-class. She
could even tell if a single keychain was missing from a messy stack of 200 similar, nondescript looking keychains – which Pete found out first-hand when he once tried to take an Ilyasviel Von Einsbern keychain when he was flat broke with the intent of coming back and paying for it next payday. Pete will never forget the embarrassment he felt on that day when Sheryl suddenly cried out.
"KIDNAPPER! Hand Ilya over right now, you loli-loving otaku!"
For such a petite-looking girl, Sheryl could give even an ex-war veteran a scare with the sheer volume of her voice if she put her mind to it. Not that there were any ex-war veterans in the vicinity during that incident.
Fortunately, she did give Pete, who had been frozen on the spot in a mix of shock and humiliation, a chance to explain. Eventually, she actually agreed to let him take home the F/SN keychain provided he didn't try anything like that again in the future. Ever since then, Pete always made sure to be very transparent with Sheryl in his transactions with the hobby shop. That aside, the two still maintained good relations afterwards since none of them were the type to carry on a grudge over such a trivial matter.
"By the way, chapter 6 of 'The Great Adventure of Black Trojan' just arrived
"Nah, I'm just browsing around today, really."
"Okay. I could put it on your tab as usual if you really want to."
"You've been reading that series yourself, haven't you?"
"Sure! And I want someone to read it with me and I'm actually just trying to give you some subtle hints so that you'll pick up on the series too and then perhaps we could have a discussion on the merits and demerits of the comic as a literary piece."
"Err… you kind failed at subtlety right there, Sheryl."
"I did?" Sheryl blinked her eyes twice.
She seemed genuinely surprised. Then, she took out a large, yellow book with the title "Subtlety for Dummies" printed in bold black letters at the front and startled mumbling to herself as she read.
When Sheryl started zoning out like this, it was almost as if she was possessed. Pete checked the time on his mp3 player/wristwatch. 5:36 PM, just enough time to leisurely walk home and still make it for the latest episode of Tomodachi Wa Mahou, an anime series that he'd picked up on recently thanks to a scathing review from a magazine critic Pete started watching the show and it turned out to be quite the opposite of what the review made it out to be.
Pete tiptoed out of the hobby shop making sure not to disturb Sheryl. He didn't bother saying goodbye to her since she probably wouldn't awaken from her trance for the next 30 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, in the city's outskirts, a great battle of unimaginably epic proportions was taking place.
"Give it up, minions of Wrath. For I am the red haze, the paragon of justice, the all-around busybody who destroys evil! The Crimson Ranger!"
The warrior, who was clad in red spandex while wearing what looked like a rose-tinted motorcycle helmet with a matching oversized crimson scarf, took an unorthodox fighting stance with one hand over his head and curled in a fist and the other hand in an open palm position and stretched out to the full length of his arm in front of his body as if he was making a stop sign. His feet were positioned far apart from each other and his legs were crouched like that of a professional tennis player reaching for a passing shot after playing the net on a weak serve in the quarter finals match of a grand slam tournament.
"Hah! Did you really think that we'd come here and fight against a man like you unprepared, Crimson Ranger? We're not your average one-hit kill henchmen, you know… we have INSURANCE!"
The henchmen, who numbered five in total and who were all wearing gray over-alls with matching "Scream" party masks on their faces, showed the Crimson Ranger what they meant by insurance.
"You fiends! How dare you take a child hostage?"
"Please help me! Oh paragon of justice and all-around busybody, Crimson Ranger!" Cried the little girl who was apparently struggling in vain at the clutches of the minions of Wrath… or at least it looked that way from the Crimson Ranger's perspective given the poor visibility he got from underneath his motorcycle helmet.
The hero of justice slapped his palm in front of his helmet in a move that is
known as "the facepalm."
"You know… you could just drop the 'all-around busybody' part, kid.
Nevertheless! Prepare yourselves for my ultimate move…"
The Crimson Ranger dashed at the evil henchmen at a speed that was approximately just 20% slower than the speed of light.
"Crimson PWNAGE Speed Blitz!"
"What the eff!" Cried out one of the henchmen.
"How do you even pronounce the PWNAGE part!" Said another henchman.
"Gi! Gi! Gi! … what? Somebody had to say it." Added another henchman.
Meanwhile, as the Crimson Ranger rained down his trademark PWNAGE move upon the hapless henchmen while totally unmindful of the dangers of traveling at near light speeds with an innocent hostage in the vicinity, Pete, who was quite blissfully unaware of the epic battle that was taking place in order to save the world at that very moment, was happily strolling home while humming along to some Hatsune Miku tunes, which he was listening to via his mp3 player/wristwatch.
Suddenly, from out of the sky, a red comet plummeted down to Earth and crash-landed near the roadside right in front of Pete.
Pete was startled at first, but his curiosity was aroused when he saw something moving within the pile of smoke and rubble caused by the comet's impact. He poked around inside the rubble and to his horror, he saw a human hand reaching up from underneath the debris.
"Aggh! It's the alien zombie apocalypse! Run for your lives!"
But just before Pete could bolt to safety, the hand reached out and grabbed his left foot causing him to stumble and fall face first on the hard pavement.
A burnt, black figure emerged from the rubble and started coughing weakly.
"Ugh… they got me good. The old bomb in a decoy doll hostage trick… I should've known when I saw those ball joints… don't think I can make it."
At this point, Pete was almost ready to pee his pants in terror, so he just remained still and tried to play dead.
"Look, kid. Stop playing dead. I'm not a zombie." Said the burnt figure while still sprawled on the ground.
"Well, that's a relief. I guess I'll put this away then."
Apparently, Pete had managed to grab a broken piece of a lamppost which he intended to use as a melee weapon on the zombie, who wasn't really a zombie after all.
"What's your name, brave warrior?"
"Pete, but I don't believe I qualify as a brave warrior by anyone's standards."
"Thank you, Pete. Now take this badge of mine and listen up."
"Uh… are you even listening to me?"
The burnt figure handed Pete what looked a red sherrif's badge made out of plastic with three oversized protrusions that stuck out on its sides.
"Listen, Kid. That's not just some cheap Tokusatsu knock-off badge, I'll have you know. That thing you're holding happens to be the Red One Changer. It's a powerful ancient device created with Alien Technology that allows you to transform into the super-powered paragon of justice and all-around busybody, Crimson Ranger! Uh… you can skip the all-around busybody part, actually. Now look, I'm the original Crimson Ranger but as you can see, I'm too weak to be fighting evil right now."
"Now that you have the badge, it's up to you to save the world from the minions of Wrath. An interstellar army bent on malevolence, destruction and mayhem who are currently targeting Earth. But… I cannot force this responsibility upon you…"
"Asperger's much? Didn't you hear me when I said I wasn't this 'brave warrior' that you're trying to pawn this piece of plastic off to?"
"… my time is short… just remember that if you don't use that badge and transform into the Crimson Ranger to fight the minions of Wrath, you will have to live out the rest of your existence knowing that you just sentenced billions of people to a 1984-like doublethink existence at the hands of an alien dictatorship that you could have destroyed using the pwnage powers of the Crimson Ranger. What is more… they are all animal-haters, LGBT discriminators and racists."
At that moment, Pete realized that the weight of the world rested squarely on his shoulders. Beads of sweat began to form on his forehead.
Also at that moment, the former Crimson Ranger's eyes, or what was left of them, narrowed down into slits and he smiled a most wicked smile… this move would later be known as the "epic troll face."
"I'll take your three seconds of silence as consent. The rest is up to you… Crimson Ranger!"
And with that, the former Crimson Ranger whose name was never revealed and never will be breathed his last.
"Good! I thought he would never kick the bucket – in a manner of speaking. I'll be taking that badge now, dah-link." Said a mysterious female voice in a snooty accent.
Pete turned around to see that it had come from an attractive-looking woman wearing a purple wig in a hime cut and clad in a tight, one piece white Speedo wetsuit cut hastily with zigzag design scissors at the midsection with a small purple cape and matching purple and white boots.
Suddenly, from out of nowhere, police sirens rang out and in a blur, six police cars had surrounded the mysterious woman in wonky cosplay attire.
"Oh my stars, gentlemen! Whatever could you want from little old me?"
"Don't move a muscle miss," said one of the policemen, "you're under arrest for… indecent exposure!"
The policemen moved in to capture the mysterious cosplayer, but she whipped out a double-edged broadsword from out of nowhere, since as you can imagine, there's nowhere to hid such a huge sword inside a tight-fitting wetsuit, and disappeared in the blink of an eye… only to reappear moments later just a few meters in front of the stunned policemen – who fell over simultaneously in the next instant.
"Don't worry, Dah-links. I used the back of my sword."
"T'would've been nice if you were using a single-edged sword… blarrgh." Muttered one of the policemen before losing consciousness and coughing up blood in a very disgusting manner.
"Eww…Ahaha! Well, at any rate. I don't think I hit anything vital… you'll survive!"
The woman then turned to Pete who did not know whether to laugh or cry at the ridiculous and somewhat awesome spectacle that was happening right in front him at that very moment.
"Now then, Dah-link. Where were we before we were ever so rudely interrupted? Ah yes, the badge please. I do so hate to keep my clients waiting."
"And if I refuse."
"Why, Dah-link. Then you'll have to face the wrath of Vanity – Miss Vanity!"
At that moment, Pete Robinson's life flashed before his eyes and it was utterly boring. He knew that his death was at hand and he would only be prolonging the inevitable, but something stronger than fear and even stronger than determination welled up within Pete's skinny frame.
Pete Robinson had made his decision.
"Transform! Paragon of Justice… Crimson Ranger!"
To be continued… See you in the next episode!
Next Episode Preview: Pete finds out that cup ramen is cancerous… from the internet! Will Sheryl finally convince Pete to read "The Adventures of Black Trojan?" Does Primela have eyelash extensions? All this and more in the next exciting episode of Paragon of Justice: Crimson Ranger
Note: The original version of this fic was posted in my fictionpress account here