Jet Force: Chapter Four
The Vyram Queen
Four months passed.
The Jet Force Rangers had fought against the Vyram at least 12 times, and with the aid of their Megazord, they had won every battle. But unlike their zords, which could combine with ease, the five Jet Force Rangers could not join together as a team. Vince was the main reason. The wild card. The x-factor.
The Vyram warlord Radiege leaned back thoughtfully within the Vyram ship. His shoulder rested against nothing but shadow as he thought of the Jet Task Force Aero Rangers. Perhaps he could use Vince to open a rift in the team, he thought. Black Condor seemed at odds with his leader, and both young men seemed to care for the White Jet Force Ranger.
"Touching..." he whispered sarcastically.
Tendrils of silver energy suddenly flared from his armor and nearly knocked him down. He leaned against the shadow to keep from falling and clenched his jaw to bite back his screams. The pain was intense, like iron files rubbing across his bones.
Nearby, the boy Toran and android Grai paused from their chess game and looked to Radiege, but only for a moment, with the slightest of interest. They turned back to their game. Toran loved games. It was he who suggested that the Vyram leaders take turns trying to defeat the Jet Force Rangers. Whoever defeated the Rangers would rule the Vyram.
The Vyram's only female member, Myra, stepped towards Radiege but kept her distance. She could feel the electricity from the energy tendrils lashing from his body. "What's going on...what's happening to you...?"
"Feedback," Radiege said. "Something is approaching from our Shadow Dimension." He clenched his jaw to muffle a scream. "Its power is...enormous..."
Miss Fairweather had briefed the Jet Force Rangers about a new potential threat: the Hidden Task Force Thunder Rangers. The Jet Force team was less than impressed, and only Christopher took the threat of the Thunders seriously.
After the briefing, she ordered the Aero Rangers to go out into town and take a break before their next training session. Her hope was that the outings would help them all to become closer. But it hardly seemed to work out that way at all.
The rangers stopped at a shop along Honey Creek Blvd., a street of rather expensive shopping centers housed in skyscrapers, and went inside at Amy's insistence. Amy smiled and led Kristin by the hand towards a rack of swim suits that cost significantly more than they were actually worth. Christopher, Matthew, and Vince lingered back across the aisle.
"Oooo..." Amy opened her eyes wide at the sight of a blue swim suit that was merely a thong and thin strap of material for the chest. She pulled the suit from the rack and held it up towards Kristin. "How about this one?"
Just the sight of it made Kristin blush. She smiled. "Isn't it a bit...flashy?"
"Girl, that's the point," Amy said as she hung the suit back up and looked through the rest of the rack.
Matthew sighed, leaned his arms against a rack of jackets, and hunched down while resting his chin. "How long do you suppose they can keep this up?"
"The answer to that question will frighten you," Christopher said. He looked down at his watch. "We should be training..."
Vince scoffed. "That's all we do is train."
"It's kept us alive so far," Christopher said. He didn't bother to look at Vince, nor Vince at him.
"Luck has kept us alive," Vince said. "That and our big freaking robot."
Matthew nodded in agreement. "The robot hasn't hurt."
Christopher gave Matthew a look, and Mathew merely shrugged while keeping his chin against his arms. The Jet Force leader looked back to the girls. "It's a Megazord. Not a robot."
Kristin slid aside a few more suits on the rack until she found one she liked. "How about this one?" She pulled a pink two-piece swim suit from the rack and held it up for Amy to see. "Yes? No?"
"Not bad, not bad," Amy said. "Bold in its own way. You could definitely reel in Christopher with a piece like that."
Kristin smiled and blushed. "It's nothing like that..."
Amy smiled. "Mmmm hmmm. Riiiight."
Vince overheard and rolled his eyes. The teen walked towards the swim suits while weaving in between a few other racks. He walked up to the girls and took Kristin by the hand. "Come here for a sec..."
He led her away by the hand, in somewhat of a rush, and the other rangers were too taken aback with surprise to follow immediately.
"What the hell..." Matthew said as he, Christopher, and Amy followed.
Vince led Kristin onto an elevator, and the doors slid shut before the other rangers could catch up.
Kristin pulled her hand away from Vince and took a step back. Her heart was pounding in her chest. She wasn't sure if it was fear or excitement, or maybe both. "What are you doing...?"
"Nothing," Vince said. "I just wanted to be alone with you for a moment. I don't like crowds."
Kristin raised her brow with disbelief and smiled. "There was hardly anyone in the store. With the economy and all the attacks-"
Vince leaned in an kissed her. At first she wanted to pull away. But instead, she sank into the kiss as he parted her lips with his tongue.
Matthew walked up to the neighboring elevator and pressed the "up" button repeatedly. "What is that guy thinking?"
Amy smiled mischievously. "Oh, I know what he's thinking."
"So not funny," Matthew said.
A massive chunk of rock pushed upwards from the barren wilderness outside of Angel Grove near the mountains. The stone, large enough to hold a truck, had pushed its way from the shadowy dimension of the Vyram.
The rock pulsed with a massive surge of energy that rippled through the city. The burst had a similar effect to an electromagnetic pulse and knocked out sources of electricity along its path.
ISIS Defense Initiative headquarters was just south of Demon City in the Angel Grove Reconstruction Zone, an area of intense rebuilding established after the Mogralord battles.
Miss Fairweather was in the pyramid-shaped building's main operations room when the lights started flickering on and off, and the monitors went dark.
Kristin pulled away when the lights blacked out and the elevator stopped. "What was that...?"
"The power must've gone out," Vince said. "Looks like we're stuck here for a while."
"No..." she said. "What was...that. What you just did?"
"Some cultures like to call it a kiss," Vince said.
"You know what I mean...why did you...Vince, we're not..."
"Kristin..." he said softly as he stood closer to her. "You know the way I feel about you..." he reached out and gently took her hand. "I know you feel something too...when I look at you...when I'm around you...it's like the high dive."
"Vince," she said, her voice quivering.
"Just tell me," Vince said. "Am I right or wrong?"
Christopher, Matthew, and Amy were waiting at the elevator doors when the lights went out.
"Great..." Mathew said. "This was not the time for a blackout." He looked upward from the elevator door. "I hope he doesn't do anything to her."
"He wouldn't," Christopher said. "He's an ass, but he wouldn't hurt any of us."
Amy raised an eyebrow at her leader.
Christopher shrugged. "Except me."
"Tell me," Vince whispered.
Kristin reached up and gently placed her hands on his chest. "We can't...there are...whether there are feelings or not, I can't..."
"Is it Christopher?" Vince asked. "The guy's an ass. A simple-minded dick."
Kristin narrowed her eyes and took a step away. "How can you still say that about him? He's our teammate. After all we've been through..." She shook her head. "He has a good heart, Vince..."
The lights flickered back on, and the elevator started moving again. The lift screeched to a halt as the doors opened, and the two rangers stepped out. Christopher, Matthew and Amy were waiting at the elevator doors.
"Kristin, are you okay?" Matthew asked. "Vince didn't try anything-"
"Oh, piss off," Vince said to Matthew. "I'm not a pervert."
Christopher's communicator toned, and he answered. "This is Christopher."
"I'm picking up a disturbance outside the city," Miss Fairweather said. "I need you to go investigate..."
Radiege walked across the rocky ground towards the strange stone that had erupted from the surface. The stone pulsed with power that twirled the wind, whipping the soldier's dark cloak around his body. The villain approached the rock with caution and carried his curved sword in hand.
"What is this...?" he whispered.
A voice ebbed from within the stone. "I am the Mother. She who rules the shadows."
Radiege opened his eyes wide with recognition. "It can't be...that voice...Empress Juza?"
"Hey!" a voice shouted from behind. Radiege turned to see Christopher and the Jet Force team run to the scene. They snapped into fighting stances. "I knew the Vyram were up to something..."
Radiege tightened his grip on his blade. "Jet Force...this is none of your concern. Leave us."
"It's just you, tail head," Matthew said. "What's with the royal-we crap?"
The massive stone suddenly pulsed with cyan-tinted energy and split down the center, revealing a glowing orb of molten energy. The energy shifted shape to assume a form more suited to Earth's dimension. The creature assumed a human, female form with a flowing, thick robe of white. A white, silver-tinted tentacle wrapped around her body, and jeweled rings formed on each of her fingers. She carried a long, twisted staff, and a slithering tentacle grew from her left wrist. She wore a hood of white and black, secured against her head with a black band with a red gem in its center.
The rangers took a step back, but before they could morph, the empress swung her staff and fired bolts of crimson energy at the team. The rangers dove for cover as explosions burst into flame around them. When they rolled to their feet, Radiege and the new villain were gone.
The Vyram had crafted a throne of black wood and silk on their ship. Several feet away from each side of the throne was a pillar of twisting tendrils that extended from the mist-covered floor to the shadows above. The throne was built to belong to the Vyram who destroyed the Jet Force Rangers. But Empress Juza had decided to take the throne as her own.
Radiege took the lead as he, Grai and Toran bowed at the foot of her new throne. The empress reached down her hand. Radiege hesitated before taking her hand and kissing it. He said nothing.
Myra stormed from the shadows and walked towards the throne. "What's going on, Radiege...who is that..." she pointed her sword at the empress, "that woman?"
Radiege looked over his shoulder towards Myra. "She is Empress Juza...she reigns above us."
The empress looked down at her subjects and spoke with a melodious, soothing voice. "It's been a long time since I have seen you, Radiege...Toran...Grai...I see you have adapted to your new forms...forms suited to this feeble, meek dimension."
"I am amazed to see you again, empress," Radiege said. "I thought you had been killed during the invasion of our Shadow Dimension at the hands of the Shinzon."
"It certainly was a long, grueling war," Juza said. "The purpose of my disappearance was to enter a deep sleep, and to regain new strength. Now I have awakened."
Radiege looked up only slightly, and for the first time, he noticed a strange egg-shaped orb dangling from the empress's left hand. The orb pulsed with power, and it was surrounded by white tentacles that slithered as if alive.
"I shall plunge this world into the darkness of our dimension," the empress said. "I will remake this feeble piece of rock into the jewel of a new Vyram Expanse. But to do so...I need the screams and despair of the humans."
Empress Juza reached out with her mind. With her psionic force, she channeled energy into several pockets scattered across the city. Dozens of victims fell to her power. Boys riding their bikes, a couple on a park bench, shoppers at outdoor plazas, they collapsed and convulsed with pain.
Toran sighed as he floated across the mist floor of the Vyram base ship. "It's no use...the empress is back...no more game..."
Myra paced nearby while tapping her small scepter against her palm. "Did you see the way Radiege groveled? He was like her little puppy dog."
"Enough!" a voice shouted from the shadows. Radiege stepped from the darkness. "I have no interest in serving Juza. I'll kill her with my bare hands if I have to." He unsheathed his blade and looked along the edge of the curved saber. "Before she hatches the Semimaru."
Grai inclined his head. "Semimaru?"
"Yes," Radiege said. "By absorbing the pain and suffering of the humans, Juza will conceive the Semimaru."
"This Semimaru," Myra asked. "What is it?"
"It's told that its power can crack the earth and burn the celestial heavens. The Beast of Destruction."
The victims of the empress screamed and convulsed with pain. Jagged chunks of diamond burst from their bodies with splatters of blood.
Juza hovered beneath a bridge near an industrial park and laughed. She took delight in their screams of torment. And their despair fed her "child."
"Yes, scream," she said. "Your suffering and pain feed my child..."
"Stop, Vyram!" Christopher yelled as he and the rangers ran to the scene.
The empress turned and glared with insult. "Insignificant bugs! Do you know who I am? I am the Mother of the Shadows. Ruler of the Darkness. The Empress of the Vyram! Do you presume to defeat me? Be gone!"
She swung her staff and fired spears of energy that exploded around the rangers with bursts of spark and smoke. The Jet Force Rangers quickly morphed into their armor and charged through the smoke towards Juza.
Aero Red leapt through the air, unsheathed his Aero Saber, and chopped the blade towards Juza. But she blinked away as the Red Ranger landed, and his saber swung through nothing but air. Juza reappeared besides Aero Red, and he swung a backhand strike towards the empress. But she vanished and reappeared behind him again. He swung. She vanished. He swung. She vanished.
The empress swung her staff across the Red Ranger's chest with a massive burst of spark that sent him flying off his feet. The Red Jet Force Ranger crashed through a nearby pile of crates.
"Ha!" Aero Black and Aero White leapt side-by-side towards the villain.
Juza swung her hand and fired a wave of orange-tinted energy pulse blasts that sparked against their armor and knocked them out of the air.
"Eat this!" the Yellow Jet Force Ranger shouted as he leapt through the air and hurled a barrel at the empress.
Juza used a TK burst to hurl the barrel backward, and it slammed against Aero Yellow and knocked him from the air.
"Ha!" Aero Blue flipped back and forth around the empress to try and throw her off balance, keep her distracted.
The Blue Jet Force Ranger somersaulted through the air and swung a punch towards the villain's face. "Wing Gauntlet!"
The gauntlet weapon wrapped around the Blue Jet Force Ranger's fist, but before she could strike, the empress opened her mouth and blew a torrent of flame that exploded against Aero Blue and knocked her away. She slammed through a pile of crates and rolled across the ground.
Aero Blue slowly pulled herself back to her feet, and the five Rangers regrouped.
"Jet Blasters!" Aero Red shouted.
The Rangers pulled out their blasters and fired darts of orange-tinted energy, but Juza extended her hand and deflected the blasts back at the Rangers. The blasts exploded around them with bursts of spark that whipped them off their feet. The impact knocked them out of their armor.
Kristin looked down at her hands, realizing she was defenseless, and stared up at the empress with fear.
Juza smiled wickedly at the ranger and fired a beam of light from the gem on her forehead.
"Kristin!" Vince shouted as he leapt forward and pushed her away.
The energy beam struck Vince, and he screamed as it washed across the body. The ranger collapsed to the ground and convulsed with pain, screaming through his clenched jaw.
Juza laughed at the fallen rangers and stepped backward as space rippled around her, and she vanished.
The empress returned to her throne, and Radiege walked towards her to greet her. His pace was slow, and his face cold, emotionless. He kneeled before the throne and kept his head low.
"Everything is in place," she whispered. "Soon, we-"
Radiege pounced to his feet and swung his curved sword towards her head, but she quickly grabbed her staff and blocked the blow.
The empress twisted Radiege's sword down and held it there. "What travesty is this?" She narrowed her eyes and fired a TK burst that knocked him off his feet. "Have you lost your mind, Radiege?"
"Juza!" Radiege shouted. "Your reign ends!"
He leapt at her and swung his sword. But she lifted her staff and used the weapon to channel enough energy to hold Radiege in place.
"You're a fool, Radiege. You have betrayed me..." She fired a beam of twirling crimson energy that splashed against Radiege, denting his armor and hurling him through a twisting vortex of crimson energy. "To think of the care I wasted on you...You will be punished in the most shameful of ways...you shall live like a bug!"
Vince screamed with pain as he sat up and leaned against a nearby wall. He spun across the wall and tried to run off, but he collapsed.
"Vince...Vince! Hold still!" Christopher shouted.
"Vince..." Kristin kneeled down next to him. He screamed as a trio of diamonds burst from his forearm.
Radiege landed on the rocky shores outside of Angel Grove. In place of his armor, he wore rags. And his skin was tan instead of blue. His brain tail was gone, and instead, he had a head of dark hair. He was unconscious.
And he was human.
To be continued...Chapter 05