Jet Force: Chapter Two

Recruitment

 

Kristin and Matthew plummeted through the air towards their deaths. The new rangers could barely hear Aero Red shout at them through their communicators. “Guys! Use your morphers to suit up!”

 

Kristin slapped her morpher’s activation panel. “Suit up!”

 

Matthew did the same and frantically shouted. “Suit up!”

 

Energy flashed around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms. Kristin became Aero White, the Swan, and Matthew became Aero Yellow, the Owl.

 

They snapped out their wings and swooped upward into a climb. Aero Yellow slightly wobbled on his wings as they passed the cliff outcropping and swooped back down towards the battle. Aero White held onto his hand to help him keep his balance.

 

“Just act natural,” Aero White said without making an effort to hide her enjoyment.

 

“Act natural?” Aero Yellow shouted. “This is insanely unnatural!”

 

“It’s amazing!” Aero White shouted with amazement.

 

Her grip on her new teammate weakened, and Aero Yellow erratically flew out of control. He shouted and swooped downward while bashing through a group of bare tree branches. The Yellow Ranger crashed against the ground and tumbled backward before skidding to a halt.

 

Aero White and Aero Red leapt towards him and regrouped at his side.

 

The White Ranger helped Yellow Owl to his feet. “Matthew, I am so sorry!”

 

Aero Red patted his teammate on the shoulder. “You okay?”

 

“I wouldn’t say that,” Aero Yellow said. “But I’m not hurt, if that’s what you’re asking.”

 

The Voids regrouped, aimed their hands at the Rangers, and fired pulse blasts from their fingertips. The blasts exploded across their armor with bursts of spark that whipped them off their feet.

 

Aero Red climbed to his feet and unsheathed his Aero Saber. “You two are Rangers now. These are just grunts. There may be more of them, but we’re stronger, faster, and we can take them. Let’s go!”

 

Aero Red leapt through the air towards the Voids. He landed and chopped his sword through a grunt with bursts of spark that tore its body in half.

 

The other two Rangers- they did not do as well.

 

White Swan moved in to attack. But a grunt kicked the legs out from under her. She tumbled across the dirt, rolled to her feet, and looked up to see a Void charge forward with a jagged saber.

 

“No, wait!” Aero White shouted.

 

The grunt slashed across her armor with a burst of spark that whipped her body backward.

 

Nearby, a pair of grunts lifted Aero Yellow and hurled him through the air. Yellow Owl crashed against a Void and flattened it to the ground.

 

Meanwhile, Aero Red used his gliders to dive through a group of Voids and slash them aside with massive bursts of spark.

 

Red Hawk flipped through the air and landed near his two teammates, who regrouped around him.

 

The Wyrm creature hissed at the Rangers and stalked towards them. Aero Yellow and Aero White took cover behind their leader, who held his sword in a fighting stance.

 

Wyrm fired jagged bolts of orange energy that exploded against the Rangers with a shower of sparks. When the sparks cleared, Aero Red snapped open his gliders and dove through the air towards the monster.

 

Wyrm lashed out with a tentacle that latched against the Red Ranger’s helmet.

 

Aero Red pulled out his sidearm. “Jet Blaster!”

 

Red Hawk glided alongside the monster and triggered a volley of red energy darts that exploded against the creature with bursts of spark that knocked its tentacle away. The Red Ranger somersaulted through the air, landed against the side of the mountain, and pushed off towards the creature.

 

Aero Red stabbed his sword through the monster with a massive burst of spark that made the creature squeal in pain. An explosion ripped open the creature’s side with a shockwave that knocked Aero Red off his feet and sent him tumbling towards his teammates.

 

“Christopher!” Aero White shouted as they ran towards him.

 

A dimensional tear ripped open near Wyrm, and the monster leapt through the opening to retreat.  

 

***

 

The Vyram ship floated like a slug within a pocket dimension in Earth’s orbit. The vessel was divided into segments that pulsed with molten power. The ship’s bridge was nothing but darkness so thick it seemed to span infinitely in every direction. A light cloud of mist covered the bridge floor.

 

The Vyram named Radiege watched the Aero Rangers’ battle through a viewing portal of energy. The villain’s elfish face was pale blue. Dark silver armor covered his body, and a thick, silver helmet curved down from his head like a tail.

 

“Interesting…” he said. “It seems not every fleshing on this planet is as weak as we thought.”

 

The Vyram named Grai stood nearby and smoked a cigar-shaped pipe. He was an android covered with sleek plates of black metal. His eyes were dark red. “They could be amusing.” He blew out a puff of smoke. “At least in some ways.”

 

“Now, now, Grai.” A woman dressed in a white-and-black body suit walked down an unseen staircase. Her head was covered with a wide hat with a red gem in its center. “You know you’re just as intrigued by these bird warriors as I am.”

 

A boy giggled nearby while seemingly sitting in midair. “Let’s make a game out of it.” The boy, Toran, was dressed in a white robe with thick black stripes that covered his entire body. Dark shades covered his eyes. “Whichever one of us can defeat these Rangers can have this planet once it’s absorbed into our Shadow Dimension.”

 

A wicked smile crossed Radiege’s face. “Agreed.”

 

A tear in the fabric of space ripped down the center of the bridge. Wyrm stepped through the tear.

 

Radiege smiled at the sight of the creature. “Excellent…my pet has returned.”

 

Wyrm leaned over and opened its maw to spit out several dozen pods. Each slimy pod was thick and leathery with several patches of translucent material that showed energy glowing beneath the surface.

 

Radiege picked up a pod and smiled at the power ebbing inside. Wyrm had attacked Angel Grove, killed civilians, and used their Life Energy to create the pods. The pods were capable of transforming every-day objects into monsters.

 

“But before we start our little game,” Radiege said, “let’s test the limits of our enemies’ power…and find out if there are any more of them lurking in the shadows.”

 

***

A military jet flew through the skies above Angel Grove. The pilot did not notice a tear in the fabric of reality that spat a pod onto his plane’s engine.

 

The pod sprouted legs like a spider, bit against the plane, and unraveled into organic wires that dug into the airplane and branched out within its systems.

 

The pilot was crushed when the plane changed shape and converted into a giant monster with narrow red eyes and a gaping maw of jagged-metal teeth.

 

***

 

Nineteen-year-old Vince Carter sat around a card table at the Imperial Lounge in Angel Grove East. Everyone at the table had folded out except for Vince and a 21-year-old girl. Several thousand dollars worth of chips were one the table in between them.

 

Vince eyed the cards in his hand. The best he had was a pair of fours. He looked at the woman and flashed her a lopsided grin. “You first, beautiful.”

 

The girl blushed and laid down her hand. “Full House.”

 

Vince laid down his hand. His cards had changed. “Straight Flush.”

 

The young woman sighed with frustration and got up to leave. But Vince stood and gently grabbed her by the hand. “Hey, wait.” He pushed his winnings towards her and flashed a smile that would make any girl melt. “Consider it a gift.”

 

***

 

Vince and the girl walked hand-in-hand out of the bar’s rear exit, which led into a night-lit alley.

 

“My place isn’t too far from here,” Vince said. “But let’s take a cab.”

 

She gave him a teasing grin. “In a hurry?”

 

Vince smiled. “I’m sure you can imagine why.”

 

Three men in suits suddenly blocked Vince’s path down the back alley.

 

“Gentlemen,” Vince said as he started to walk around them. “If you’ll excuse me.”

 

One of the men grabbed Vince’s arm and twisted. Several cards fell from the teen’s sleeve. 

 

Vince narrowed his eyes and slammed a punch against the man. The impact knocked the man off his feet and sent him skidding across the pavement before crashing against a pile of trash. Vince opened his eyes wide with shock and stared down at his fist with amazement.

 

He turned and ran away.

 

***

 

Seventeen-year-old Amy Ness walked with two of her friends outside of school. The three girls were seniors at Angel Grove East Community High School.

 

“I know, right?” her friend Amber said. “He is so hot, I just wanna be around him like all day, and when he smiles, I like totally melt it’s so cute I just want to jump all over him.” She noticed that Amy was not listening. “Amy?”

 

Amy’s eyes were fixed on the high-jump set up on the nearby track field. “Huh?” She felt compelled towards the track field in an odd way she could not describe. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t really listening. Can you two wait here for a second?”

 

Amy jogged to the field and lifted the high-jump pole. She ignored the shouts of the nearby coach and ran towards the high jump. She pole-vaulted through the air, spiraled over the high jump, and landed on the mat on the other side.

 

The coach opened his eyes wide with shock. He smiled when he realized what this meant for the team.

 

***

 

A Worthington family limo pulled up to Angel Grove East high school later that afternoon. Matthew and Kristin were in the backseat. Miss Fairweather had decided the best way to recruit J-Force’s remaining members was to split up. The Vyram’s attack had given them a renewed sense of urgency.

 

“You sure this is the place?” Matthew asked. “Seems weird to recruit someone who’s still in high school.”

 

Kristin arced an eyebrow at him and smiled. “And just how long ago were you in high school, Matthew?”

 

He blushed. “That’s besides the point.”

 

They got out of the limo and walked towards the track field. The school was hosting a track meet that featured its newest star: Amy. 

 

Kristin and Matthew noticed Amy leap over the high jump with a grace that made the most seasoned Olympic gymnasts look clumsy. 

 

“Gee,” Matthew said. “I wonder who we’re looking for?”

 

***

 

Matthew and Kristin walked with Amy to the school’s memorial entrance after the track meet. They spoke with her and explained J-Force and the Vyram. She was a bit skeptical.

 

“A Ranger? Me?”

 

Kristin nodded. “How else can you explain what you did out there today?”

 

Amy smiled and lifted her head high. “Maybe I’m just talented. I have really strong thighs, you know.”

 

Matthew blushed.

 

Amy realized what they were telling her was likely true. She remembered being outside several days ago when a bolt of blue lightning struck her down. The sky had been clear without a cloud in sight.

 

“Well…” she said. “If I do join you…what does being a Ranger pay?”

 

Kristin arced an eyebrow. “Pay?”

 

“Yeah,” Amy said. “A girl’s gotta have money. The track coach gave me $500 to join the team.”

 

Kristin sighed and reached into her purse. “If it’s money you need…” She pulled out her wallet, wrote Amy a check, tore it out, and handed it to her. “This should cover it.”

 

Amy stopped blinking when she saw the check. “That’s a lot of zeroes!”

 

Kristin put a morpher onto Amy’s right wrist and a communicator on her left wrist. “Welcome to the team.”

 

A spatial rift suddenly tore open nearby, and Wyrm stepped through. A group of Voids followed. 

 

***

 

Vince played his saxophone for the crowd at the Blue Harp lounge in Angel Grove East. The establishment offered live jazz music 24 hours a day. His mind wandered as he played. He pictured the clouds, high above the ground, and felt the urge to soar.

 

Vince stopped playing when he noticed he had crushed his instrument. “This is getting ridiculous.”

 

A hand reached out to Vince’s shoulder. Startled, he turned to face a stranger dressed in a red sports jacket and black slacks. “My name is Christopher,” he said. “We need to talk.”

 

***

 

Vince joined Christopher and Miss Fairweather in the bottom level of a parking garage. They filled him in about J-Force and the Vyram.

 

Vince smiled mockingly at them. “It’s not that I think you’re both crazy, which I do, by the way. It’s that I want no part in this. I have better things to do with my time.”

 

Christopher narrowed his eyes. “Like playing the saxophone in some club? You call that a life?”

 

“Yes, actually,” Vince said. “Now run along and find someone else to play with.”

 

Christopher blocked Vince’s path. “I can’t let you just walk away.”

 

“I don’t believe I’m giving you much choice.” Vince slammed a punch across Christopher’s face.

 

Christopher stumbled backward and wiped the blood from his nose. He glared at Vince and pounced forward. Christopher gathered all the anger he had pent up since losing Marie, and he unleashed that anger.

 

Christopher slammed a roundkick against Vince’s side and a hook punch across his face. Vince stumbled back, and Christopher pressed forward with a punch that Vince blocked.

 

Vince grabbed Christopher by the arm, twisted, and bashed his forehead against Christopher’s nose.

 

Nearby, Fairweather crossed her arms over her chest and sighed. She would have tried to break them up, but she knew better.

 

Christopher knocked Vince’s arms away and smashed a punch against the reluctant recruit’s chest. The ranger spun forward with a sidekick that knocked Vince off his feet and sent him crashing against the side of a car.

 

Christopher’s communicator toned before he could press on with his attack. It was Matthew. “Hey! The Vyram found us! We need help!”

 

“I’m on my way,” Christopher answered.

 

Vince climbed to his feet as he watched Christopher and Miss Fairweather run off. “Hey, get back here! We weren’t done with our little dance!”

 

Vince ran to his nearby motorcycle, hopped on, and sped after them.

 

***

 

Christopher had parked Jet Hawk on a nearby rooftop. He hopped into his zord’s cockpit, activated the controls, and blasted off to help his friends.

 

On the streets below, Vince followed the zord’s path while swerving through the streets.

 

Christopher activated the radar in the center of his zord’s control panel. The radar zeroed in on Matthew and Kristin’s signal, as well as another blip he assumed was the new ranger recruit.

 

A warning signal suddenly flashed on the ranger’s console.

 

The giant fighter-jet monster, which INET would label as VyFighter, swooped down from behind and fired jagged-orange energy bolts that streaked towards Jet Hawk.

 

Christopher pulled his pilot stick back hard, leading Jet Hawk into a climb and bank to avoid the blasts.

 

Jet Hawk circled around and moved in behind VyFighter, and Christopher locked his weapons onto his target. He triggered a volley of red energy darts that streaked towards the monster.

 

VyFighter rolled hard to starboard, but the blasts exploded against his armor with bursts of spark.

 

Jet Hawk dove back down to street level to try and shake VyFighter. Christopher piloted his zord through rows of skyscrapers that spanned several block. But he could not shake VyFighter from his tail.

 

Christopher turned hard to port around a skyscraper and opened his eyes wide with shock when he noticed the skeletal structure of a building under re-construction. He rolled his zord onto its starboard side and passed through the iron beams as VyFighter followed.

 

VyFighter fired jagged energy bolts that exploded around the zord with bursts of spark and tore through the support beams.

 

Jet Hawk zoomed through the other side of the building and dove upward into the air.

 

Below, Vince pulled his motorcycle to a stop near the side of the street. He had lost sight of Jet Hawk again. And although he didn’t realize it, he was only able to follow Christopher through their connection shared by the J-Force energy.

 

He cursed beneath his breath. “Where’d he fly off to…”

 

VyFighter suddenly swooped downward and fired jagged energy bolts that exploded around Vince with massive bursts of flame that hurled him from his bike. The monster had IDed his energy signature as a match with the other Rangers.

 

VyFighter swooped down, used its hand to grab Vince, and flew back through the air. The teen screamed as the wind rushed against face.

 

Christopher swung his zord down through a head-on flight towards the monster. He narrowed his eyes and kept his finger on the trigger. The zord and monster zoomed closer to each other.

 

At the last second, Jet Hawk rolled hard to port and fired red energy darts that exploded against the monster’s shoulder with a massive bursts of spark.

 

The blasts knocked Vince from the monster’s grasp, and he started plummeting towards the ground far below.

 

Christopher rolled his zord so his cockpit faced downward and hit eject. He dove through the air with his arms at his sides and shot closer to Vince. He somersaulted to slightly slow his descent and flattened his body when he was close enough to Vince.

 

Christopher tossed Vince a morpher, which latched onto his right wrist.

 

Christopher showed his own morpher and slapped its activation panel to demonstrate. “Suit up!” Energy flashed around him as he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

Vince slapped his morpher’s activation panel without hesitation. Energy flashed around him as he morphed into Aero Black, the Condor.

 

The two Rangers snapped open their wing gliders and dove through the air.

 

***

 

Wyrm and the Voids chased Matthew, Kristin, and Amy through the trees of Duskwood Park.

 

Matthew pointed to where Christopher had leapt from Jet Hawk, which was not too far in the distance. “Over there!” He armed his morpher. “We have to catch up with him.”

 

Matthew and Kristin slapped their braces’ activation panels and morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

Amy looked back and forth between the bracers on both her wrists. Her cheeks turned slightly red. “Um, like, okay, which one?”

 

“The right one,” Aero White said.

 

“Oh, okay.” Amy smiled sheepishly and slapped her morpher’s activation panel. Energy shimmered around her as she morphed into Aero Blue, the Swallow.

 

***

 

Aero Red and Aero Black dove towards the ground farther east in Duskwood Park. They somersaulted through the air and managed perfect landings as the other three Rangers ran towards them.

 

“Hey!” Aero White shouted and waved.

 

“Excellent,” Aero Yellow said. “We’re all here!”

 

VyFighter landed on the ground nearby and towered over the Rangers. The creature roared through its metal jaws with a sound that shook the earth beneath the Rangers’ feet. A group of Voids scurried from behind the monster and charged at the Rangers.

 

Aero Red looked to his teammates. “You guys take out those Voids. I’ll handle the giant.”

 

Red Hawk snapped open his wing gliders and shot through the air towards the giant. He unsheathed his sword, zoomed past the creature, and slashed against its armor with a burst of spark.

 

Below, a group of Voids swarmed around Aero Black.

 

A Void chopped its saber towards Aero Black’s head, but the Ranger dodged the blow and smashed the back of his fist across the grunt’s face.

 

Another grunt swung its blade at the Black Ranger. Black Condor grabbed the grunt by the arm, slammed a hook punch across its head, and smashed an uppercut against its gut. 

 

Aero Black turned towards an approaching Void and slammed a jumpkick upside its head. Another Void slashed towards him. But Aero Black grabbed the grunt by the arm and bashed his helmet against the Void’s face.

 

The Black Ranger stood arrogantly and crossed his arms over his chest while looking down at his fallen foes. He did not notice the other wave of Voids until their blades sparked against his armor and knocked him to the ground.

 

Nearby, Aero Blue snapped open her wing gliders and shot through the air while bashing through a group of Voids and knocking the grunts aside.

 

Meanwhile, hand-in-hand, Aero Yellow and Aero White used their gliders to swoop towards a group of grunts. At the last second, they swooped upward and slammed kicks upside the grunts’ heads.

 

Above, Aero Red swooped around towards the giant’s head. But the monster swatted Aero Red from the air.

 

Red Hawk crashed against the ground and tumbled backward. He rolled into a crouched fighting position and looked up to see VyFighter stomp towards him. Through his Ranger-enhanced vision, Red Hawk noticed a gaping hole in the creature’s armor from Jet Hawk‘s pulse blasts. A gas line leaked from within the hole.

 

“Jet Blaster!” Aero Red aimed his weapon and triggered red energy darts that exploded against the gas line with bursts of spark.

 

The sparks set off a chain reaction that tore the monster apart with a massive explosion from within. Scraps of shrapnel flew through the air as a cloud of smoke covered the parkland.

 

The Rangers regrouped around their leader.

 

“Huh,” Aero Black said. “Not a bad shot.”

 

The Wyrm monster suddenly leapt through the air and shoved past the Rangers with bursts of spark before landing. The creature turned towards the Rangers and lashed out with a tongue tentacle that grasped onto Aero Yellow’s throat. The tentacle whipped him off his feet and reeled him in across the dirt as he struggled to break free.

 

“Matthew!” Aero Red shouted. “Use your Jet Blaster!”

 

Yellow Owl managed to pull out his weapon while skidding across the ground. “Jet Blaster!”

 

He triggered yellow energy darts that exploded against Wyrm’s maw with bursts of spark. The tentacle slackened, and Aero Yellow rolled free.

 

The Rangers regrouped.

 

Aero Red flipped open his Jet Blaster and combined the weapon with his retracted Aero Saber. “Guys, combine your sword and blaster to form the Aero Rifle. We’ll blast him together.”

 

The Rangers assembled their Aero Rifles.

 

“Fire!” Aero Red shouted.

 

Aero Red, Aero Yellow, Aero Blue, and Aero White aimed their weapons and fired beams of energy that splashed against the monster and surrounded the creature with tendrils of energy that sparked across his body.

 

Aero Black did not fire. He casually stood back and inspected his weapon.

 

Aero Red looked over his shoulder. “Come on, Vince.”

 

“I never agreed to be ordered around,” Aero Black said. “So don’t rush me.”

 

Wyrm fired jagged bolts of orange energy that exploded around the Rangers with bursts of spark, but they kept firing.

 

Aero Black glared at the monster. “Son of a-”

 

Aero Black fired a beam of energy that splashed against the monster along with the other Rangers’ energy beams. The combined blasts exploded through the monster with a massive burst of flame and sparks that tore its body apart and incinerated the remains. 

 

***

 

The rangers gathered on a trailhead parking lot at the edge of the city. Vince was getting onto his motorcycle, which INET personnel had dropped off for him.

 

Amy was handing Kristin back the check. “Here…”

 

Kristin reluctantly took the check. “That’s not enough? I suppose I could go higher, but-”

 

“No, no, it’s not that,” Amy said. “I’ll stay on your team. It’s just that…what we just did…it like, felt really good and stuff.”

 

Christopher smiled. “We’re glad to have you. And besides, once you get the right paperwork filled out, you’ll be on the Initiative’s payroll.”

 

Her face lit up. “You mean it does pay?”

 

Christopher walked over towards Vince and let Matthew and the girls chat. “Well Vince…” he extended his hand. “What do you say?”

 

Vince pulled on his leather riding gloves without looking at Christopher. Then he punched the ranger across the face. Christopher dropped to the ground.

 

Vince tossed his morpher and communicator onto the pavement. “I say I don’t want anything to do with you people.” He fastened his helmet. “I’m not a freak like you.”

 

He rode off.

 

 To be continued…Chapter 03