Jet Force: Chapter Six

Beast of Destruction

 

Vince closed his eyes and played his saxophone at the Imperial Lounge. He tried not to think about Kristin. But he couldn’t get the girl out of his mind. He knew she loved Christopher, so thinking about her was useless.

 

Kristin…Vince finished his song. and a few bar patrons clapped.

 

The teen stepped down from the stage and walked towards the bar. He had to keep himself from stopping in his tracks when he noticed Christopher sitting on one of the bar stools.  

 

“What the hell are you doing here?” Vince walked next to Christopher and leaned against the bar. “You don’t even drink.”

 

Christopher held up his glass. “Water.”

 

“That’s sad,” Vince said.

 

“We have to talk,” Christopher said. He kept his eyes forward, not looking at his teammate. “It’s about Kristin. I know you like her, but…are you serious about her?”

 

Vince arced an eyebrow. “Why are you even asking me that?”

 

“Just answer me, Vince,” Christopher said.

 

Vince shook his head. “I think you’d better go home,” he said as he started walking from the bar. “I’m sure there’s plenty of water there…”

 

***

 

Radiege stood on the fog-covered floor of the Vyram ship. The egg of Semimaru throbbed, having grown larger than a casket. The villain traced his hand along the glowing cocoon.

 

“I can feel it…” he whispered madly. “Your heart beats. Hatch quickly, Semimaru…once you destroy Jet Force, I will have everything…everything!”

 

***

 

Kristin ate alone in her family’s mansion. She looked across the table towards an empty chair and imagined Christopher sitting there. The thought of his smile warmed her instantly. She longed for him. Deeply. 

 

Her phone rang, and she didn’t recognize the number on the display. She answered anyway. “Hello?”

 

“Kristin,” a voice said. It was Vince. He must have been calling from a pay phone.

 

“Vince?”

 

“Yeah, it’s me. Listen, I want to see you. Just the two of us…2 p.m. tomorrow in front of Zelda’s.”

 

He hung up before she could answer. “Vince? Hello?”

 

She flipped her phone shut and sighed. “Vince…”

 

The phone rang again, and this number she recognized. She smiled and answered. “Christopher…”

 

***

 

Vince stood at a city plaza the next day and waited for Kristin. He checked his watch impatiently. He was used to girls waiting on him, not vice versa.

 

“Vince!” Vince turned to see Amy run to the plaza while waving. “Hey!”

 

Vince knitted his brow. “Amy…what are you doing here?”

 

“Kristin couldn’t make it, so she asked me to come,” Amy said. “Isn’t that great?”

 

Vince tilted his head. He said nothing, turned, and started to walk away.

 

“Hey, wait!” she reached out and grabbed him by the shoulder. “Don’t be like that. Come on. It’s a nice day out. Let’s enjoy it.”

 

Vince sighed. “I suppose it couldn’t hurt…not much, at least.”

 

***

 

Christopher stared ahead somberly as he drove with Kristin in the passenger seat. Kristin seemed oblivious to his mood. She was beaming.

 

“I’m surprised you wanted to hang out,” she said. “Where are we headed?”

 

“There’s someone I want you to meet,” Christopher said.

 

“You mean…like your parents?” she asked.

 

“No,” Christopher said. “Nothing like that.”

 

***

 

Vince leaned his chin against his hand and watched Amy wolf down her fourth chocolate sundae.

 

“How on God’s Green Earth are you doing that?” he asked with the slightest bit of interest.

 

“Haven’t you noticed?” she asked in between spoonfuls. “Our metabolism’s been crazy ever since we got our powers.”

 

“Ah…” Vince said.

 

The diner doors opened, and Matthew walked in while smiling sheepishly and waving at Amy.

 

“Hey Matthew!” she called to him. She looked back to Vince. “I invited Matthew along too. The more the merrier.”

 

Amy slid one of her Sundays towards an empty seat.

 

“Dig in,” she said to Matthew.

 

“Wow, thanks,” Matthew said as he took a seat and grabbed a spoon.

 

Vince sighed. “Well…you two enjoy gorging yourselves. I’m going home.”

 

“Wait, don’t go,” Amy said. “Hang out with us. We’re on the same team. We should be social.” She slid a sundae towards him. “Be social.”

 

***

 

Christopher led Kristin to a cemetery. He carried a bouquet of white roses and kneeled down, laying the flowers on a headstone.

 

“Christopher…” Kristin said hesitantly. “This is who you wanted me to meet?”

 

Christopher nodded. “This is Marie. The woman I love,” he said softly. “We were so happy…even now, it feels like we’re still together, even though she’s gone. I can’t move on. And I don’t want to. I don’t want to forget her. I don’t want to stop loving her. I can’t.”

 

He sighed. “I know how you feel about me,” Christopher said. “I wanted you to see this so you’d know…I can’t return your feelings. Even if I wanted to…I can’t.”

 

***

 

Matthew shoveled down another spoonful of ice cream. About a dozen empty bowls cluttered the table.

 

Vince looked back and forth between Matthew and Amy with disbelief. “Is this really happening?”

 

“So…” Matthew asked Amy, “how do you think Kristin and Christopher are doing?”

 

Amy opened her eyes wide with panic. “Shush.”

 

Vince narrowed his eyes and looked to Amy. “What?”

 

“He means…in general, like, ‘how have they been doing lately?’, that kind of thing,” Amy said.

 

“No, I mean their date,” Matthew said. Amy kicked him beneath the table. “Ow!”

 

“I see…” Vince said.

 

He grabbed his jacket and stormed from the table.

 

***

 

Kristin wiped away her tears as she walked quickly from the cemetery. She couldn’t believe herself. She felt so embarrassed. And so angry.

 

Christopher drove close to the curb and slowed down. “Kristin…” he called to her. “Come on, get in, I’ll drive you home.”

 

“I don’t need a ride,” she said without looking at him. “Just leave me alone. And next time you want to tell a girl you’re not interested, just tell her, don’t make her look like an idiot.”

 

“Kristin…”

 

“Just leave me alone!” She turned and ran across the street.

 

***

 

Vince waited outside Kristin’s mansion until nightfall, when she finally arrived home. She walked towards the massive gates of her long driveway, and Vince walked towards her from behind.

 

“Kristin…” he said softly.

 

She stopped and slowly turned to face him. “Vince…”

 

“So…what happened today?” he asked as he walked closer.

 

“I can’t…” she shook her head as tears swelled in her eyes.

 

“What is it?”

 

She cried and reached out, hugging him tightly, and burying her face in his chest. Vince said nothing and wrapped his arms around her. 

 

***

 

Vince and Kristin took a walk together. They made their way to a park and sat on a swing set. They sat together and said nothing until Vince broke the silence.

 

“Feeling better?” he asked.

 

She nodded. “I’m sorry about that. That was…embarrassing.”

 

“Don’t be embarrassed,” he said. “I didn’t mind. Not at all.”

 

She smiled and looked to him. “Thanks, Vince. You’ve always been good to me. Even though I don’t deserve it.”

 

“But…you do deserve it…” he whispered.

 

Kristin’s heart fluttered. She took a deep breath and rose from the swing. “Anyway…I’d better get home. My butler worries when I’m out too late.”

 

Vince nodded. “I understand.”

 

“Thanks again, Vince,” she said. “I really mean that…sometimes I wish I felt…” She shook her head. “Never mind. Goodnight.”

 

***

 

The cocoon of Semimaru continued to throb. Radiege watched madly. “It’s almost time…”

 

Myra watched from the shadows and narrowed her eyes. She refused to let Radiege be the one to defeat Jet Force. She refused.

 

***

 

Christopher sat in the situation room within the ISIS Defense Initiative headquarters. He reviewed the data on the monitor in front of him, looking for any signs of the Vyram.

 

The situation room doors opened, and Kristin walked inside. Christopher blushed at the sight of her. “Kristin. I…”

 

“Don’t say anything,” she said. “I know yesterday was…weird. I don’t think either of us handled ourselves very well.”

 

Christopher nodded. “I’m sorry.”

 

“Me too,” she said. “So here…” she pulled two tickets from her purse. “These should make up for it. Two tickets to the Ephram Brown concert.”

 

“Who?”

 

“Brown,” Kristin said. “He’s a jazz pianist. I think you’ll like him.”

 

“Kristin-”

 

“Look,” she said. “I know what you’re going to say. I understand. You’re still…you still have feelings for her. I get that. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, right?”

 

Christopher sighed. He wanted nothing more than to go with Kristin. But his heart pulled him back to Marie.

 

“Kristin…” he said softly. “I can’t. At least, not yet.”

 

“OK,” Kristin said. “OK, well, I’ll just leave this with you.” She placed one ticket on the computer terminal. “I plan to still go. If you change your mind, meet me there.”

 

Kristin turned and walked from the room. Christopher sighed and turned his attention back to the monitor. He never thought he would wish for a Vyram attack. But he needed  a distraction.

 

Christopher lost himself in thought when the doors opened, and this time, Vince walked in.

 

“Fearless leader,” Vince said with a mock greeting.

 

“Brave underling,” Christopher said. “What brings you here?”

 

“I was looking for…” he shook his head. “Wait, we don’t talk. Why are we talking? Let’s not make a habit of that.”

 

Vince noticed the piano-concert ticket sitting on Christopher’s terminal. “No way…I didn’t think you liked jazz. And this Brown guy is one of the new greats.”

 

“Really?” Christopher asked. 

 

“No, I’m making this up,” he said sarcastically. “Yes, really.”

 

“Well, take the ticket.”

 

“What?”

 

“Take it,” Christopher said. “It was a gift. I didn’t plan on going anyway.”

 

“Well I’m not arguing with that,” Vince said as he stuck the ticket in his jacket.

 

***

 

Vince walked to the concert later that day. To his surprise, he bumped into Kristin.

 

“Kristin?” he asked as he walked closer to her.

 

“Vince? But where’s Christopher?” she asked with disappointment. 

 

“Christopher? Why would he…” Vince narrowed his eyes and rolled his hands into fists.

 

Kristin looked down, her face blush with embarrassment. “Well...I guess he didn’t want to come. This is…awkward.”

 

“That asshole.” Vince tore up the ticket and stormed off.

 

***

 

Christopher watched Amy and Matthew spar in the woods. The two teens exchanged quick volleys of punches and kicks. They were improving.

 

“Amy,” Christopher called to her. “You’re wasting too much movement. And Matthew, you’re moving too slow.”

 

“Asshole!” a voice shouted from nearby.

 

Christopher looked to see Vince storm into the woods. “Vince, what-”

 

Vince smashed a hook punch across Christopher’s face. “What the hell did you think you were doing?!”

 

Vince pushed forward with another hook punch, but Christopher dodged. “Vince, calm down.”

 

“Calm down?” Vince swung a punch that Christopher blocked, and he twisted the ranger’s arm into a lock. “Didn’t you think about Kristin? And what that would do to her?”

 

“I thought about both of you,” Christopher said. “I-”

 

Vince twisted free, smashed an uppercut against Christopher’s gut, and slammed a hook punch across his face. “You’re so full of yourself.”

 

“And you’re an idiot.”

 

Vince tackled against Christopher, and they tumbled backward into a creek. Splashing in the water, Vince pushed himself to his feet and snapped a kick at Christopher. But Christopher blocked the blow and kicked out Vince’s other leg. Vince collapsed into the water.

 

“Stop!” a voice shouted from nearby. Kristin ran onto the scene towards the two boys. “Christopher! Vince! Stop fighting!”

 

Vince swung a punch at Christopher. But Christopher blocked the blow and smashed a roundkick against Vince’s side.

 

“Stop it!” Kristin shouted again.

 

Matthew couldn’t stand to see Kristin upset. He charged into the water. “Hey guys, break it up! You’re upsetting Kristin!”

 

Matthew laid a hand on Vince’s shoulder to pull him back. “Break it up!”

 

Vince shrugged free. “You dumbass. I know you like her too, but you gave up from the start. Stay out of it.”

 

Matthew narrowed his eyes. “You think you know how I feel?”

 

Matthew tackled against Vince, and they crashed into the water.

 

Sparks suddenly ignited along the shoreline near Amy and Kristin, tossing them backward.

 

The boys stop fighting and ran to the girls, regrouping as Myra stepped out from behind a tree.

 

“Vyram!” Christopher shouted as the rangers snapped into fighting stances.

 

Grai stepped out from behind the rangers, and Toran floated down from their side.

 

Vince looked to Christopher. “I’m sure this is somehow your fault.”

 

Myra snapped her energy whip, which the rangers dove aside to avoid. Grai armed his wrist gauntlets and fired high-yield bullets at the rangers, and Toran fired a telekinetic energy blast. The bullets exploded around the rangers, and Toran’s blast slammed against them, hurling them through the air.

 

The teens landed in a nearby industrial park. They slowly climbed to their feet as the three Vyram regrouped.

 

“Guys…let’s do it!” Christopher shouted as they armed their morphers. “Suit up!”

 

Energy surged around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

“Aero Saber!” Black Condor unsheathed his sword and leapt through the air towards Grai.

 

The Black Jet Force Ranger landed and chopped his blade across the villain’s armor with a burst of spark. He swung his blade through a wide arc that sparked against the villain’s midsection, then chopped his sword towards the villain’s shoulder.

 

Grai caught the blade, grabbed Aero Black in a chokehold, and swung the Black Jet Force Ranger off his feet. Grai spun, keeping his grip on the Ranger’s throat, then let go, hurling the Ranger through the air.

 

Aero Black crashed against the pavement and rolled sideways. He rose into a crouched position and armed his blaster. “Jet Blaster!”

 

Aero Black triggered bursts of orange-tinted energy. Grai thrust his hand forward, and the blasts sparked against his palm. The villain swung his other arm forward and opened fire with his gauntlet blaster. The blasts sparked against Aero Black, whipping his body backward.

 

Nearby, Yellow Owl lifted a canister and hurled it through the air towards Toran. 

 

Toran laughed and waved his hand. Invisible energy crashed against the canister and hurled it back towards the Yellow Jet Force Ranger. The canister crashed against Yellow Owl and hurled him backward, sending him shattering through a building’s window. 

 

“Ha!” Aero Red leapt through the air and chopped his blade towards Toran.

 

The Red Jet Force Ranger swung down, but Toran vanished and reappeared on the pavement behind the Ranger. Aero Red whipped his blade around through a wide arc, but the villain vanished again before the weapon could strike.

 

Toran reappeared, and Aero Red slashed his sword towards the villain. But Toran vanished and reappeared sitting on a nearby crate.

 

The villain thrust his hand forward and fired a bolt of green-tinted, black energy that sparked against the Red Jet Force Ranger’s body, whipping him backward. 

 

Aero Red rolled into a crouched position, and Toran tightened his fist. His telekinetic power launched a wave of crates, canisters and steel beams that flew through the air and smashed against Aero Red, knocking the Ranger off his feet.

 

Meanwhile, Myra swung her baton through an x-shaped pattern, slashing Aero White and Aero Blue off their feet.

 

The villain swung her whip, and the tendril wrapped around Aero White’s neck. Myra pulled, swinging the White Jet Force Ranger through the air.

 

Myra released her whip, sending White Swan smashing against a crane and crashing onto the ground.

 

Blue Swallow leapt through the air and speared her weapon towards Myra’s head. The villain sidestepped and slashed upward across the Blue Jet Force Ranger’s body with a burst of spark, knocking her from the air. The Blue Jet Force Ranger crashed against the pavement and tumbled aside.

 

“Amy!” Yellow Owl shouted as he and the others regrouped around Aero Blue.

 

Toran and Grai regrouped around Myra.

 

She narrowed her eyes at the Rangers. “Jet Force…this is your end.”

 

Red lightning suddenly exploded around the three Vyram, knocking them backward.

 

Yellow Owl tilted his head. “What’s going on…?”

 

The voice of Radiege echoed through the air. “The Jet Force are Semimaru’s prey.”

 

“Guys, fall back,” Red Hawk said, taking advantage of the distraction.

 

The Rangers fled from the scene.

 

***

 

Myra glared at Radiege as she walked towards him. “How dare you?”

 

The villain kept his gaze on the cocoon. The egg pulsed and crackled with crimson power. “Semimaru is about to be born,” he said. His eyes opened wide with madness. He looked to Myra. “Kneel before his power!”

 

The egg flashed with a burst of red light that filled the ship.

 

***

 

Christopher lifted weights in the Jet Force training room the next day. The other rangers should have joined him, but they did not.

 

I was an idiot…he thought to himself. What was I thinking?

 

Marie always told him he had no sense of tact. She was right. As always.

 

The doors opened, and Miss. Fairweather walked inside. “Christopher…where are the others? They were scheduled to be here.”

 

Christopher set aside the weights and stood. He shook his head. “I’m not sure. They didn’t call in.”

 

“They could be in trouble,” Miss. Fairweather said.

 

“They’re not,” Christopher said. “I checked. They’re just…it just wasn’t a good time.”

 

***

 

Vince sat at the Imperial Lounge bar and took another drink of his scotch. He held his glass between his hands and twirled, watching the ice cubes clink together. 

 

“Vince?” the girl beside him asked. She ran her hand down his leg. “Weren’t you listening? Doesn’t that sound like fun? Mandi’s been dying to try…”

 

“Hm?” Vince asked. He’d barely been listening. “Oh, yes. A blast.” He didn’t bother to hide his disinterest. “We’ll have to do that sometime.”

 

The girl scoffed and stood from the bar. “You’re an asshole.”

 

“So I’ve been told,” Vince said as he took another drink.

 

The girl stormed away, as did a second girl who had been waiting nearby.

 

Vince twirled his glass. Kristin…

 

***

 

Amy walked through a buffet line along with Matthew. She noticed the boy pile enough food onto his plate to feed a family of three.

 

“See, this is why I like you, Matty,” she said. “You know there’s no such thing as eating too much.”

 

“I suppose,” he said. “Maybe if I eat enough I’ll forget about Kristin.”

 

Oye,” Amy said. “No way I’m ever letting myself fall in love after seeing what it’s done to you people.”

 

“You’ve never been in love?”

 

“Nope,” she said. “I have high standards. If I’m going to fall for a guy, he has to be tall, handsome, rich, cute, smart, mature, but also naive in a way…”

 

“Okay, okay, I get it.”

 

“…and he should be funny, generous, and good looking in a white T-shirt…”

 

***

 

Kristin sat in her room and played the violin. She tried to stay mad at Christopher. She tried to focus on the cemetery. The concert. The fight with Christopher. But she couldn’t. She knew he meant well. He was looking out for her. And he was heartbroken.

 

Her butler stepped into her room. “Ms. Worthington, there is a young man here to see you…”

 

Christopher walked into the room.

 

“Oh…” Kristin said as she set her violin aside. She looked to her butler. “Thank you.”

 

The butler nodded and walked away, leaving Christopher and Kristin alone.

 

“I’m…I’m sorry,” Kristin said. “I shouldn’t have missed practice.”

 

“You weren’t the only one,” Christopher said.

 

Kristin shook his head. “This is all my fault. It’s my fault we’re all so splintered.”

 

“It’s not,” Christopher said. “There’s no fault. We just can’t…we can’t let our personal feelings get in the way of our work. We’re Rangers. That has to have top priority. 24-7.”

 

“I know that, Christopher,” she said. “And I know you’re right. But we’re people. We can’t just shut off what we feel.”

 

Their communicators toned. And the ground suddenly shook.

 

***

 

The giant Semimaru crashed against the city street with a thundering explosion. Newly-born, the bulky creature had crimson skin, bat-like wings, and bone-like claws extending from its wrists.

 

Semimaru stomped down a city block and fired optic blasts that exploded through buildings. Rubble and shattered glass rained down on the streets below, as people screamed and ran with panic.

 

Nearby, the five Jet-zords swooped down from the skies and flew through the city block towards the monster. The zords stayed in V-formation and passed between skyscrapers, engines roaring and shaking glass.

 

“Jet-zords assemble!” Red Hawk shouted. “Aero fusion!”

 

The Jet-zords rolled and shot upward. Energy surged around the zords as they united to form a robo, which landed on the streets. “Jet-Force Megazord!” the Rangers shouted. “Jet Icarus!”

 

Semimaru turned to face the robo.

 

“Icarus Crusher!” Aero Red shouted.

 

Jet Icarus hurled a massive ball and chain towards the monster, but the monster sidestepped and slashed through the chain with a burst of spark. The mace flew out of control and exploded through a nearby building.

 

Semimaru thrust its palm forward. Invisible bursts of energy exploded against Jet Icarus, nearly knocking the Megazord off its feet.

 

Black Condor grasped hold of his control console as the Megazord shook.

 

“Wing Knuckle!” he shouted.

 

The Jet-Force Megazord shot its right fist towards the monster like a cannonball. Semimaru caught the fist and hurled it back towards the Megazord. The fist slammed against Jet Icarus, knocking the Megazord backward. Jet Icarus crashed against the streets and skid backward, tearing up pavement.

 

Semimaru stalked towards the fallen Megazord.

 

Jet Icarus rose back to its feet and stepped back in a defensive stance.

 

“Jet-Force Megazord Saber!” Aero Red shouted.

 

The Jet-Force Megazord held its blade forward and charged towards the creature.

 

Jet Icarus chopped its sword downward, but Semimaru caught the blade. The monster used its free hand to slash the sword in half with a burst of spark.

 

Jet Icarus staggered backward.

 

Semimaru fired optic blasts of red lighting that wrapped around Jet Icarus like whips. The monster used the tendrils to hurl the Megazord off its feet. Jet Icarus crashed through a building and landed on the streets.

 

The monster extended his palm, and invisible energy bursts sparked against the Megazord. 

 

Semimaru charged forward and swung its arm spikes, severing the Megazord’s arms with bursts of spark. Semimaru smashed a kick against the Megazord’s chest, and the impact hurled the Megazord off its feet.

 

Jet Icarus crashed back-first onto the streets, and the monster pressed its foot against the fallen Megazord’s chest armor. The creature raised its arm spike.

 

Suddenly, a burst of energy exploded against the monster, and the blow knocked the creature back a step.

 

The Rangers looked to see a massive jet swoop down from the skies. The zord was called the Jet Garuda.

 

Jet Garuda fired a trio of energy missiles that shot through the air with trails of smoke and exploded against the monster with bursts of spark. 

 

Jet Garuda swung around, and its beak opened to fire a pulse of blue energy that splashed across the monster, encasing the creature in a block of ice.

 

Black Condor stared with disbelief. “Well…that’s a neat trick.”

 

***

 

The rangers gathered back at base to meet the three pilots of Jet Garuda: the Eltarian man, Rei; the Kerovian woman, Kanna and the half Shi’arian/half Eltarian man, Dahn. Miss Fairweather introduced them to the Jet Force team.

 

“Jet Garuda was going to belong to a sixth Ranger Dr. Cranston hadn’t finished developing,” she explained. “We brought the zord online ahead of schedule when the creature appeared.”

 

“What was that thing?” Amy said.

 

“We’re not sure yet,” Fairweather said.

 

Dahn smiled at Amy and leaned closer to her. “Don’t worry…” he said. The alien looked young and mostly human, except his hair had traces of small, dark feathers. “That ice block could contain a supernova.”

 

“Dahn,” Kanna said. “You’re exaggerating. But…the ice block is strong. I designed the weapon systems myself.”

 

“And I designed the flight systems,” Dahn said. He smiled at Amy, then leaned back and pulled up her skirt to see her behind.

 

“Hey!” she shouted and swatted his hand away.

 

“What?” Dahn asked. “It’s a standard greeting among the Shi’ar.”

 

“You’ve never met the Shi’ar, Dahn,” Kanna said. “Few people have.”

 

Vince sighed and unstrapped his morpher. “Well, this has been a great talk. But it seems like we have a surplus of team members here. So it wouldn’t be a problem if we cut one. I’m out.”

 

He tossed his morpher onto a console and started to walk away.

 

“Vince, wait,” Miss Fairweather said. “You saw the enemy out there today. The Vyram are getting stronger. We need every asset we have.”

 

The alarms suddenly blared. A display screen activated and showed an image of Semimaru breaking from its ice cocoon. 

 

“Rei narrowed his eyes. “Impossible…” He looked to his teammates. “Let’s move out, and show the Vyram the true power of Jet Garuda.”

 

***

 

The Vyram monster stomped through the streets with renewed rage.

 

Jet Garuda swooped down from the air as the three pilots controlled the zord from their cockpit.

 

“Jet Garuda! Rise up!” Jet Garuda blasted forward and shifted shape, transforming into its warrior mode.

 

The zord landed on the streets and stepped back into a fighting stance.

 

Semimaru thrust its palm forward, and invisible energy bursts sparked against Jet Garuda. The zord leapt upward and angled its descent towards the monster.

 

“Garuda kick!” the pilots shouted.

 

Jet Garuda swung a kick towards the monster, but the creature caught the kick and hurled the zord aside. Jet Garuda flipped and landed on its feet with a thundering boom that shook the city block.

 

The zord blasted forward, hooked its fists into claws, and slashed across the monster with bursts of spark. 

 

Semimaru grabbed Jet Garuda by the wrist and hurled the zord off its feet. Jet Garda crashed against the streets and skid backward.

 

Semimaru thrust its palm forward and fired invisible energy bursts that exploded against the fallen zord.

 

Rei looked to Kanna. “Use the Garuda burst.”

 

“That means we’d have to use all our energy,” she said.

 

“It’s OK,” Rei said. “Just do it.”

 

Jet Garuda rolled onto its side. The zord’s chest shield fired a thick burst of orange-tinted energy that exploded against Semimaru with massive bursts of spark.

 

The impact knocked the creature backward, slightly injuring the beast. Semimaru snapped open its wings, turned, and shot into the air.

 

***

 

Miss Fairweather took off her glasses and stared at the monitor. She watched the Vyram creature retreat, despite the crushing defeat of Jet Garuda. The zord had limped back onto its back, nearly powerless.

 

“We can’t win,” Miss Fairweather whispered. “Jet Icarus. Jet Garuda…neither can win. At least…not yet.”

 

***

 

The five rangers—even Vince—and three Garuda pilots worked with an INET team to repair the zords. They worked in a massive holding bay within the ISIS Defense Initiative Headquarters.

 

Rei, Kanna, and Dahn gathered around a control console while looking over schematics. Dahn became distracted and started playing with a nearby wrench.

 

Kanna slapped his hand away. “Dahn, focus.”

 

“Sorry, sorry,” he said. “ACDC.”

 

“ADHD,” Kanna said. “ACDC is the band.”

 

Vince slammed his hand on a console nearby. “Ya’ know what? I quit. Again. There’s no way we can finish this.”

 

Miss Fairweather walked towards him. “Vince, if we’re going to defeat that Vyram creature, we’ll need both these zords.”

 

I’m not doubting that,” Vince said. “But you all saw how powerful that thing was. How are we supposed to fight something like that? Even with our zords?”

 

“So what should we do?” Christopher asked. “Do nothing? Leave it for those Hurricane Rangers to handle? I don’t think so.”

 

“No…” Rei said. “We shouldn’t do nothing. But Black Condor is right. Jet Icarus and Jet Garuda can’t stop that creature. It’s too powerful. But…there is way. We have two powerful robo units. What if we combined them into an even stronger force?”

 

Miss Fairweather smiled and looked up to the two massive zords. “Now why didn’t I think of that…?”

 

***

 

The giant Semimaru stood in the Vyram ship and slumbered. Its skin fizzled with crimson power, and steam seeped from between the segments of its armor.

 

Radiege stood below and looked up at the creature. “Semimaru…heal your wounds, my precious creature. Heal and rise again, for the greater glory!”

 

***

 

Amy looked over a diagram within the zord holding bay. She was learning that her connection with the J-Force energies gave her a strange insight as to how her zords worked. She was by no means a mechanic or scientist, but she could understand the flow of energies the zords commanded.

 

Dahn leaned on her diagram and smiled. “How’s my favorite Earth girl doing?”

 

She smacked his head with a piece of paper. “Down boy.”

 

Dahn smiled and leaned away. “You’re not like the others. And I like that.”

 

Amy arced an eyebrow. “’Down boy’ is a nice way of saying ‘back off’ or ‘not interested’.”

 

“Right, right,” Dahn said. “Listen…Rei asked me to head into the city for something important. I was just going to ask you to come with. That’s all.”

 

Amy sighed. “You sure are persistent.”

 

“It’s one of my many redeeming qualities,” Dahn said.

 

Amy rolled her eyes. “Oh, alright. Come on…”

 

***

 

Dahn rode his motorcycle across the city streets while Amy held on from behind.

 

“So where are we going that’s so important?” Amy asked.

 

“Not just important,” Dahn said. “Urgent.”

 

***

 

Amy leaned her chin against her hand and rested her elbow on the table. Dahn had led her to a restaurant—not even a good one. That sat in a small mom-and-pop Italian diner as Dahn shoveled down a spoonful of spaghetti.

 

“Well…” Amy said. “This is disappointing…urgent, huh?”

 

“Very urgent,” Dahn said with a smile. “How are we supposed to fight hungry? That’s…what do you call it? Inhumane. That’s inhumane.”

 

“Still, I’d hardly call lunch urgent,” Amy said.

 

Dahn waved his hand dismissively. “It’s all a matter of perspective. Aren’t you going to have anything?”

 

“I…?” She felt her stomach rumbled. “Oh, alright, I suppose since we’re here.”

 

She looked over her shoulder, called for her waiter, and ordered three bowls of pasta.

 

“Three bowls?” Dahn asked. “Really?”

 

“It’s a Jet-Force super-metabolism thing, I don’t know,” she said.

 

“Ah, Jet Force,” Dahn said. “What’s with you five, anyway? You were ready to kill each other, then working together then ready to kill each other…”

 

“Don’t get me started,” she said as her pasta arrived. She talked in between spoonfuls. “It’s mostly love problems. Christopher loves Kristin but can’t let go of his dead girlfriend, Kristin loves Christopher, but it’s so obvious she has feelings for Vince too, and Vince loves Kristin, and Matthew loves Kristin too…so pretty much all the guys have a thing for her I guess.”

 

“What about you?” Dahn asked.

 

Amy paused with a spoon of pasta in her hand. “What about me?”

 

“No love problems?” he asked.

 

“No, no, I am single and drama-less,” she said as she took a bite of her pasta. “I have high standards, see.”

 

“Eh?” Dahn asked with disbelief. “You don’t have a mate?”

 

Amy rolled her eyes. “A boyfriend. And no, I don’t.”

 

“Well, I gladly volunteer my services,” Dahn said.

 

“Ha!” Amy shook her head and smiled. “You are persistent. Why would I date you?”

 

Dahn smiled. “Do you want me to make a list?”

 

***

 

Rei and Kanna looked over the final readings of the Jet Garuda and Jet Icarus.

 

“Rei?” Kanna asked. “Do you honestly think we can stop the Vyram?”

 

“Of course,” he said. “Once we get these two units to combine, they’ll be unstoppable.”

 

“And afterward?” Kanna asked. “Do you think we can make a home for ourselves here? I mean, a real home?”

 

Rei smiled and took Kanna by the hand. “We can be happy here, if that’s what you’re asking.”

 

She smiled back at him. “Good…I think so too.”

 

***

 

Amy fell onto her back in a field of grass. “Oh, that was so much food,” she said. “I forgot how tired I get after a good meal.”

 

Dahn lied on the ground beside her. “How true.” He sighed as he looked up into the clouds. “A blue sky…”

 

“Hm?”

 

“A blue sky,” he said. “I’ll never get used to it.”

 

“They don’t have blue skies where you’re from?” Amy asked.

 

“I was raised on a colonial station, so we didn’t have sky at all,” he said. “Just space. It was nice too, but this…” He shook his head. “It wasn’t as good as this.”

 

Amy smiled, and Dahn noticed.

 

“What?” he asked.

 

“Nothing,” she said. “It’s just…you’re kind of nice when you’re not being a pig.”

 

“I guess that’s good to hear…” he said.

 

Dahn sat up and noticed a small flower growing next to him. “Here,” he said. He plucked the flower from the ground. “Give me your hand.”

 

Amy sat up and gave him her hand. He tied the flower around one of her fingers like a ring. “There…perfect.”

 

Amy just arced an eyebrow. “You didn’t just propose or anything, did you?”

 

“Ha. No,” Dahn said. “But, on Eltar, tying a flower around someone’s finger is an expression of love.”

 

Amy smiled and rolled her eyes. “Would you quit joking around.

 

The sky above suddenly blurred, and the translucent image of the Vyram ship appeared. Amy and Dahn opened their eyes wide with shock and shot to their feet.

 

Amy activated her communicator. “Guys, it’s the Vyram! They’re here!”

 

***

 

Miss Fairweather turned to Christopher, Vince, Kristin and Matthew in the zord holding bay.

 

“We finished Jet Icarus just in time,” she said. “Scramble the Jet-zords.”

 

***

 

The giant Semimaru landed on the streets and plowed a random path of destruction. The creature bashed through buildings and fired pulses of energy that exploded across the city block.

 

Amy and Dahn ran from the park as citizens screamed and fled with panic. Dahn tripped and fell, nearly twisting his ankle.

 

“Dahn!” Amy called to him.

 

“Well this is embarrassing,” he said as he pushed himself to his feet.

 

They looked up to see the five Jet-zords swoop through the skies. Amy’s zord was on autopilot.

 

“Amy,” Red Hawk spoke through her communicator. “Suit up.”

 

Amy looked to Dahn. “You’d better get back to the Garuda.”

 

“Right,” he said. “Be careful.”

 

Amy armed her morpher. “Suit up!”

 

Energy surged around her body as she morphed into her Ranger form.

 

Aero Blue leapt upward and landed in her zord’s cockpit.

 

“Jet-zords assemble!” Red Hawk shouted. “Aero fusion!”

 

The Jet-zords rolled and shot upward. Energy surged around the zords as they united to form a robo, which landed on the streets. “Jet-Force Megazord!” the Rangers shouted. “Jet Icarus!”

 

Semimaru armed its wrist spikes and charged at the Megazord. Jet-Force Megazord stepped back into a defensive stance. The creature slashed across Jet Icarus with a burst of spark, knocking the Megazord back a step. Pushing forward, the creature slashed across Jet Icarus twice in an x-shaped pattern, blows sparking across the Megazord’s armor.

 

***

 

“Rei!” Dahn shouted as he rushed into the Jet Garuda cockpit and took his station.

 

“Dahn,” Rei said from the forward console. “Perfect timing. Just a few more adjustments, and we’re ready to fly.”

 

***

 

Jet Icarus stumbled backward but stayed on its feet.

 

“Jet Lancer!” Red Hawk shouted.

 

Jet Icarus armed a spear and swung the weapon into an offensive stance. Jet-Force Megazord stepped forward and chopped the spear towards Semimaru. But the creature caught the blade and kicked Jet Icarus backward. The blow knocked Jet Icarus off its feet, sending the Megazord tumbling onto the ground.

 

The impact nearly knocked the Rangers out of their seats.

 

Red Hawk opened a comm line to the zord holding bay. “Rei, you’d better hurry. We can’t beat this thing with Jet Icarus alone.”

 

***

 

“Input’s complete,” Rei said.

 

“Right,” Dahn said. “Let’s take off…”

 

Jet Garuda rose on the holding bay’s landing platform and blasted off. The three pilots opened their throttle to full, and the zord broke the sound barrier with a massive burst of speed.

 

The zord angled west, towards the fight between Semimaru and Jet Icarus.

 

Suddenly, a giant, translucent image of Radiege’s head appeared blocking the zord’s flight path. The image opened its mouth, and a small burst of blue light shot forth. The light punctured through the zord’s cockpit and stabbed through Rei’s chest, forming a sword that pierced the pilot’s body.

 

“Rei!” Kanna shouted.

 

Rei slipped from his controls, and the zord plunged out of control.

 

Dahn tried to stabilize Jet Garuda, but the zord crashed against the streets and violently skid to a halt. The impact hurled Dahn, Kanna and Rei from the broken cockpit. They landed on the street outside.

 

Kanna barely managed to push herself back to her feet. She heard laughter, and looked to see Radiege lift Rei and pull his sword from the pilot’s body. The villain tossed the pilot aside like a rag doll.

 

“Rei!” Kanna shouted.

 

Radiege thrust his palm forward and hurled a bolt of energy that exploded around Rei, sending her flying off her feet and tearing into her body. She crashed against the ground hard and heard the sounds of her own bones breaking.

 

She barely managed to lift her head, and she saw Rei just a few feet away.

 

Barely breathing, he reached his hand towards her. 

 

“Rei…” Kanna whispered.

 

She slowly crawled towards him and reached her hand towards his.

 

Radiege ignored the dying pilots, walked into Jet Garuda, and sat in the cockpit. He laughed with madness as he grasped the controls. 

 

***

 

Semimaru hurled Jet Icarus off its feet. The Megazord crashed against the streets, smashing through buildings and tearing up pavement.

 

“We can’t take much more of this!” Yellow Owl shouted.

 

The Rangers looked through their cockpit to see Jet Garuda fly onto the scene. The zord shifted shape, transforming onto its warrior mode while diving from the air.

 

Jet Icarus rose to its feet to stand alongside Jet Garuda. But Jet Garuda landed while slashing its claws across Jet Icarus with bursts of spark, taking the Megazord off guard. Jet Garuda stepped forward with a punch that bashed against Jet Icarus with a burst of spark, knocking the Megazord back a step.

 

“What?!” Red Hawk shouted.

 

Radiege appeared on the Rangers’ comm screen.

 

“Jet Force…” he said. “Those Garuda pilots are waiting for you…in Hell!”

 

***

 

Dahn’s vision blurred slowly back into focus. He pushed himself to his feet and looked to see Rei and Kanna lying on the ground. Their hands were stretched towards each other, inches apart. 

 

“No…” he whispered as he ran towards them. “No!”

 

He ran to his comrades as fast as he could, but he was too late. They were dead.

 

“No!” he shouted.

 

He felt energy surge within his veins.

 

He didn’t realize it, but the crash had discharged some of Jet Garuda’s energy, and that energy had mixed with his Shi’ar blood.

 

The resulting mutation morphed Dahn’s body into a blue, bird-like creature.

 

Dahn didn’t understand what had happened to him, but he didn’t care. He looked to the distance to where Radiege had stolen the Jet Garuda, and he ran.

 

***

 

Jet Icarus stepped back into a fighting stance as Jet Garuda and Semimaru circled around the Megazord.

 

Jet Garuda lunged forward and slashed its claws across the Megazord, just as Semimaru charged in and speared its spike against the robo. The blow nearly whipped the Megazord off its feet. But Jet Garuda used its claw to grab Jet Icarus by the head and hurl the Megazord through the air.

 

Radiege laughed from within his cockpit. “This is your end, Jet Force!”

 

The cockpit doors suddenly opened, and Dahn rushed in. “You…you bastard!”

 

Dahn lunged at Radiege, but the villain dashed aside. Dahn crashed against the zord’s control console, and Radiege swung his fist towards the fallen alien. Dahn dodged, and Radiege’s fist smashed against the zord’s controls.

 

Radiege hissed with anger. The villain smashed a punch across Dahn’s head, whipping the alien from the control room. 

 

Dahn crashed into the corridor leading into the cockpit, and he rolled into a crouched fighting stance. The alien armed his sword, and Radiege lunged forward to attack. The villain chopped his blade towards Dahn, and the alien blocked the blow.

 

Radiege pushed his sword against Dahn’s blade hard enough to back the alien against the bulkhead. The villain pulled his sword away and swung upward, slashing Dahn across the chest with a burst of spark.

 

***

 

The Rangers saw the battle through their comm screen.

 

“What’s going on…?”

 

Blue Swallow looked from over his shoulder. “It’s Dahn…”

 

***

 

Radiege smashed the pommel of his sword against Dahn’s face, knocking the alien to the ground.

 

Dahn quickly rolled back to his feet and charged towards Radiege to attack. But Radiege slashed the alien with a flurry of strikes, each blow sparking across the alien’s body.

 

Radiege lunged forward and speared his blade through Dahn’s gut with a burst of spark. Dahn screamed—not with pain, but with defiance—and blew a wave of flame that sparked against Radiege’s face and knocked the villain backward.

 

Radiege grabbed his injured face and staggered, nearly falling. He shifted the space around his body and teleported away, fading from view.

 

Dahn clutched his injured gut, stumbled backward, and collapsed. His body shimmered with power and changed back to his humanoid form.

 

“Dahn!” Blue Swallow shouted through the comm line.

 

“Rangers…” he said through a jaw clenched with pain. “You can combine…combine now!”

 

“Right…” Red Hawk said. The Rangers sat back at their stations. “Jet-zords assemble! Garuda Fusion!”

 

Jet Icarus and Jet Garuda pulsed with power. The two zords disassembled and reformed, with Jet Garuda acting as a suit of armor and arm augmentations for the Megazord.

 

“Jet-Garuda Megazord!” the Rangers shouted. “Hyper Icarus!”

 

***

 

Dahn leaned against the bulkhead and grasped his wound. He heard footsteps rushing down the corridor, and he turned to see Blue Swallow running towards him.

 

“Dahn!” she shouted.

 

“Amy? What are you doing? The battle’s not over yet…”

 

She put his arm around her shoulder and lifted him up.

 

***

 

Hyper Icarus and Semimaru charged at one another. The Jet-Garuda Megazord grabbed hold of the creature before it could attack. But the monster merely knocked the Megazord’s arms away.

 

The Megazord stepped forward and slammed a punch against the monster. The punch sparked on impact, and Semimaru countered with a blow of his own. The creature stabbed his claw against the Megazord with a burst of spark.

 

The blows forced the two opponents apart as they stumbled to stay on their feet.

 

Semimaru thrust his palm forward and fired invisible energy bursts that sparked around the Megazord. Explosions tore across the Megazord’s armor, but Hyper Icarus stomped forward without breaking its stride.

 

Aero Blue stepped into the Megazord cockpit while carrying Dahn over her shoulder. Yellow Owl looked back to the Ranger and pilot. “Dahn? Is he OK?”

 

Aero Blue shook her head.

 

Semimaru snapped open its wings and flew towards Hyper Icarus like a cannonball. The creature slashed across the Megazord with a burst of spark that rocked the Rangers within their cockpit.

 

The creature circled around and dove towards the Megazord. Semimaru smashed against Hyper Icarus, forcing the Megazord several steps backward. But Hyper Icarus stood its ground and grabbed hold of the creature.

 

The Jet-Garuda Megazord spun and hurled the creature aside. Semimaru crashed against the ground and skid backward as explosions tore across his body. The creature rolled to a stop and slowly climbed back to its feet.

 

“Hyper Beam!” Red Hawk shouted.

 

The V-shaped insignia on the Megazord’s helmet fired a beam of red-orange energy that sparked against the monster. The burst of energy forced the creature several steps backward as secondary explosions tore across its body.

 

Dahn weakly lifted his head. “Use the finisher,” he said. “The Hyper Blaster!”

 

“Right,” Red Hawk said. “Hyper Blaster!”

 

The Megazord’s chest insignia fired a wave of energy that splashed against the monster. The blast tore through the creature’s armor and ripped apart its body, which incinerated in a burst of sparks and flame.

 

***

 

Radiege had returned to the Vyram ship. He opened his eyes wide with horror as he watched the Rangers destroy Semimaru.

 

“No…” he said. He dropped to his knees, his eyes fixed on the ship’s viewing portal. “No! No, no no!”

 

***

 

Dahn reverted back to his human form and collapsed in a small park near the battle.

 

“Dahn!” Amy shouted as she ran to his side. “Dahn, hang in there, we’ve got to get you back to base.”

 

Dahn weakly shook his head. “It’s…too late.”

 

“Don’t say that,” she said.

 

“Besides…I looked pretty cool in the end, didn’t I?”

 

Amy smiled and sniffed back her tears. “Yes. Very cool.”

 

She looked to her side and noticed a small flower growing from the grass. She plucked the flower and tied it around his finger.

 

“There…” she whispered.

 

Dahn smiled up at her. “Lucky me…”

 

His eyes drifted aside and grew lifeless.

 

“Dahn…” Amy shouted as she shook his body. “Dahn!”

 

To be continued…Chapter 07