Ultimate Origins: Chapter Three
Kiva of the Blood
Simon sat in his room and read the data pad, which was like the Bible of the Egos cult. The Egos was a group of religious fanatics that believed in the advancement of the human race through genetics and black magick. The cult, which had a survival-of-the-fittest mentality, had its roots in the Gorgom Syndicate from Japan.
The Syndicate's leadership was shattered in 2001 by Kamen Rider Black, but apparently, about a century later, the Egos emerged.
The Egos centered their beliefs around a person they called the Dragon. The Dragon had the power to destroy the world and remake it in his image, but he had failed to use that power, according to the texts. The Egos believed it was their divine destiny to go back in time and bring the Dragon under their control, the texts said.
The Dragon was obviously a reference to Tommy, Simon thought. But Simon didn't understand why he had never heard of the Egos before. And why had Simon's birth father had a ring with the Egos crest?
"What does this mean..." he whispered.
Mass Ave. was one of the few upscale shopping districts left in Angel Grove North. The street was lined with trees, and ornate street posts lined the median of the road. Expensive shops and restaurants were in buildings of white concrete and glass on either side of the street.
A spatial tear suddenly opened above the street with a flash of pulsing red light that scorched the sides of buildings, shattered windows, and smashed all the cars below.
A caped, armored figure fell from the tear and crashed against the street with a massive explosion. He was dressed in a red body suit covered with black armor across the chest and a black cape. His helmet had large, blue, insect-like eyes angled upward to resemble a bat. Jagged plates of red armor extended from his shoulders, and the armor plating around his ankles was segmented. Four turquoise-colored gems lined the center of his chest piece. His buckler was an odd-shaped bat.
His name was Dark Kiva.
He slowly climbed to his feet and looked along the street, littered with demolished cars and shattered glass.
"What..." he said as looked around. The civilians who weren't injured or incinerated screamed and ran in panic. "What is this place..."
He looked up and saw a sky that was blue. Blue, not purple or red. And he could see an odd orb of fire burning in the distance. "What in the name of...what is...what is this place?!"
He shouted, and a shockwave of turquoise energy erupted from his body and exploded across the street with massive bursts of spark and flame.
“Stop!” a voice shouted from nearby.
Kiva looked to see J-Force’s Ranger team run onto the scene. INET formed the team in 2008 to combat villains on a cosmic scale - from demons and warlords, to extragalactic and extradimensional threats.
The Jet Task Force Aero Rangers had defeated an extradimensional group of villains known as the Vyram in 2008, and the team remained together afterward on an as-needed basis.
Their leader, Christopher Naxx, was the only ranger with formal training. He enrolled in INET’s ISIS Defense Initiative straight out of high school.
The other Jet Force Rangers stumbled upon their powers by accident following the Vyram’s first attack. The Vyram destroyed the J-Force project space station, and the explosion scattered massive amounts of energy across Earth. The energy fused with small-town-kid Matthew Long, tough-guy Vince Carter, school-girl Amy Ness, and rich-girl Kristin Worthington.
Vince tilted his head and quizzically eyed the enemy. Unimpressed, he cracked his knuckles, and an arrogant grin spread across his face. “This shouldn’t take too long.”
Christopher nodded in agreement. “Then let’s make it quick.”
The rangers armed their wrist braces.
“Suit up!” They slapped their morphers’ activation panels. Energy flashed across their bodies, and they morphed into their Ranger forms. The Rangers snapped into their individual bird-like fighting stance.
“Jet Task Force!” Red Hawk shouted. Together, they called out their name. “Aero Rangers!”
Dark Kiva merely extended his arms, and clouds of red-and-black colored fog seeped from his armor. Invisible energy bursts suddenly sparked against the Rangers with enough force to send them flying off their feet. Aero Red shattered through the window of a nearby store, Aero Yellow and Aero White crashed against the street and skid across the pavement, and Aero Black and Aero Blue smashed into a nearby parked car.
Black Condor slowly climbed to his feet and armed a Wing Gauntlet over his right forearm and fist. Aero Black charged at the villain and swung a punch towards Dark Kiva's faceplate, but Dark Kiva blocked the blow and grabbed Aero Black in a chokehold.
Turquoise-tinted energy snapped out from Dark Kiva's hand and lashed across the Black Ranger's armor with massive bursts of spark that made the Ranger spasm with pain.
Dark Kiva merely tossed the Ranger aside, and he crashed against the street.
Aero Red climbed from the shattered storefront and armed his Aero Saber as he charged across the street towards Dark Kiva.
Dark Kiva extended his hand and projected a 12-foot-tall wall of energy shaped like a demonic bat. The energy wall skid across the street, slammed against Aero Red, and stuck against his body with bursts of spark as tendrils of energy stabbed against his armor.
The villain waved his hand, and the Red Jet Force Ranger tumbled through the air towards Dark Kiva. The villain snapped a sidekick that bashed against Aero Red and knocked him backward, and the Red Ranger slammed against the energy wall with bursts of spark as wisps of energy danced across his armor.
Dark Kiva waved his hand, and Aero Red crashed against the ground and tumbled across the pavement.
The wall of energy laid across the ground like a shadow and slid beneath Aero Red. The wall rose and suspended the Red Jet Force Ranger with bursts of spark as energy tentacles lashed against his armor.
Dark Kiva crouched into a fighting stance and faced his opponent. Red clouds formed around Kiva, making it appear as if the skies had turned red, and that the sun had turned into a red moon.
The villain dashed forward and held back his fist, which pulsed with crimson energy. "Ha!"
He swung an energized punch that slammed against Aero Red with a massive explosion that knocked him off his feet as secondary explosions sparked across his armor and helmet. The Red Ranger crashed against the ground, and his armor powered down with a burst of red light.
Dark Kiva walked over and placed a foot on Christopher's chest.
"I am the Kiva of the Blood. Dark Kiva, of the Waste Dimensions. Conqueror of the Koorenai. Slayer of the Vataru. I am eternal." The villain pressed his foot down harder against the ranger's chest. "My son...whatever this wretched plane is...your people have pulled him here. Taken him. And for that, you will-"
Darts of energy sparked against the villain. He looked up at the four other Jet Force Rangers, who had regrouped and opened fire with their Jet Blasters. "I wasn't done taunting." Dark Kiva waved his hand, and sparks tore across the Rangers' armor and knocked them from the ground. "I sense power in you five...but it is not real power. It is...artificial."
Dark Kiva leaned down and lifted Christopher by the throat. The ranger struggled to break free, but his body was so worn that his struggle and kicks were useless. "Still..." Dark Kiva said. "I know nothing of this place...perhaps a study of your power will tell me more."
Lines of turquoise energy shimmered around Dark Kiva and Christopher as they faded away with a teleportation burst.
Simon and his team stood in a line in the front courtyard of the Hayate Way dojo, and each of the five rangers wore a blindfold as Tommy circled around them while carrying a wooden practice sword.
His each step was still and silent as he slowly stepped behind Justin and whacked the teen upside the back of the head.
"Argh, mother of..." Justin cursed and rubbed the back of his head. "That hurt."
"You think this training is tough?" Tommy asked. "One time, Zordon let Sensei Kaku toss me into a volcano."
Blake looked to Rachel. "Remind me who Zordon is?"
"No way," Justin said. "Are you freaking serious?"
"I'm sorry I haven't lived and breathed Ranger-ness for the past eight years," Blake said.
"You're trying too hard," Tommy told them. "You have to try by not trying. Relax, and let your senses flow. Feel The Power around you. Learn to sense disturbances in its currents."
He snapped the sword towards Hunter, and the teen blocked the blow.
"Good, Hunter," Tommy said.
Simon scoffed. And Tommy whacked him upside the back of the head. "Focus," Tommy said. "Don't let your emotions get the best of you."
A wave of vertigo suddenly overwhelmed Tommy as his mind looked out upon the Astral Plane. He saw the dimensional tear that had dropped Dark Kiva onto Earth. He saw Jet Force fight the villain and lose.
His mind snapped back into reality, and he cursed beneath his breath. "Guys, we need to get back to Ops."
Dr. William "Billy" Cranston sat behind his black, polished desk within INET's latest corporate headquarters building. His dimly-lit office, with wide tinted windows, was on one of the top floors of the skyscraper.
A small holographic projector on the center of his desk displayed an image of Miss. Fairweather, an INET employee in charge of supervising Jet Force. She had just given him a report on Jet Force's defeat.
"The energy signature of this Dark Kiva matches one of your..." she hesitated as she searched for the right word. "...subjects being examined by the ISIS Research and Education Initiative."
The Research and Education Initiative was one of three main ISIS branches of Dr. Cranston's INET corporation: The ISIS Defense Initiative, the ISIS Prevention and Recovery Initiative, and the ISIS Research and Education Initiative.
"Track him," Billy said. "Send the remaining Aero Rangers to bring back Aero Red. He's too valuable an asset. And let the Research and Education Initiative know I'm on my way over...and they better have good news."
"Whoever this Dark Kiva is, he kicked the heck out of Jet Force," Tommy said.
"Heck?" Justin asked.
Ashley smirked. "He's trying to watch his language so he doesn't slip around Tyler."
"Aw," Rachel said.
"Anyway, back to the bad guy that wants to kill us all," Tommy said. "The point is that Jet Force didn't even last a minute."
"Well, they're B-List at best," Blake said. "So that's not really much of a surprise."
"From what we can tell," Tommy said, "this Dark Kiva is like an interdimensional vampire. He feeds off of the energy released through destruction and killing."
"How do we stop him?" Simon asked.
"I don't know yet," Tommy said. "We'll have to work on that. In the meantime, you guys need to help J-Force."
"Um," Justin said. "Haven't we normally tried to stay out of their fights?"
"Yes, but this is different," Tommy said. "J-Force's powers aren't fit to stop him."
"Why?" Rachel asked.
"I don't know," Tommy said. "I just know that you five can stop him."
"Whatever happened to that one-Ranger-team-per-villain rule?" Justin asked.
Tommy's face looked grim as he remembered the words that Gozen had spoken in Demon City. The Gears of Fate are breaking...the art of Ninjetti. The Phoenix. Forces older than time itself have reawakened. These are all signs that the Dark One's prison is weakening...the Great Lord of the Dark, sealed before the Wheel of Time.
"That rule is breaking," Tommy said.
Christopher was chained to the stone wall of a cave outside of Angel Grove, and Dark Kiva stared at the young man while pacing back and forth across the cave floor.
The ranger narrowed his eyes at the villain. "If you're trying to intimidate me, it's not working."
"Not intimidate," Dark Kiva said. "Study. You're a curious specimen. Powerful, yes. But this power was violated and grafted over you by force. It rebelled, did it not?"
Christopher's mind flashed back to a year ago...
Technicians strapped Christopher to the chair beneath the Spire. The probe hummed with power. Christopher couldn’t help but feel a little nervous. Then he thought of Marie. The image of her comforting smile eased his anxiety.
“You’ll feel some discomfort,” Cranston said. “What you’ll be experiencing is energy from the Morphin Grid being grafted over your Life Force, similar to how other rangers have bonded with the Grid by mystical means.”
The chair leaned back so the Spire was over Christopher’s chest. The Spire powered on and fired a crimson energy beam that washed across Christopher’s body. He tightened his eyes and clenched his jaw to keep from screaming. It felt like someone was pouring boiling water over his skin, and that the water was seeping through his every pore and deep into his body.
A small explosion suddenly tore open the side of the Spire. The Spire wailed with a loud hissing noise and started to shake. Another explosion nearly blasted the Spire from the ceiling.
Cranston ran over to Miss Fairweather at her station. “What’s happening?”
“An energy overload,” she said. “I can’t explain it…”
A larger explosion tore the Spire from the ceiling with a shockwave that smashed Billy and Miss Fairweather off their feet.
The Spire’s malfunction tore open a dimensional vortex in space. The vortex crackled with tendrils of violent energy that lashed out against the station, ripping apart pieces of its hull.
A dark energy rippled from within the vortex. The energy stirred like a torrent of black seawater, and from within, an eye glanced into Earth’s reality.
"You have no idea what you're talking about," Christopher said.
"Oh, but I do," Dark Kiva said as he stepped forward and lifted the ranger's head by the chin. "If there is one thing I understand, it is power. Energy."
Dark Kiva powered down his armor and revealed his true form: a humanoid whose entire body appeared as stained-glass. "You see...unlike you...I am a creature of energy. I am not of flesh and bone. I am of power. Pure and unbridled."
"That's funny..." Christopher said. "You don't look like much more than glass to me. And when my team gets here...we're going to break you. And it's going to be damn fun."
Dark Kiva placed his hand against the ranger's chest, and as the hand rippled, it phased into Christopher's body as he screamed with agony.
Ashley sat behind her computer cluster at Ops and completed her scan for Dark Kiva, but the results weren't what she was expecting. "Tommy," she said. "I found something weird when I scanned for Dark Kiva's energy signature."
"What is it?" Tommy asked.
"Two matches," she said.
"So two of them broke through into our dimension?" Tommy asked.
"I don't think so, no," Ashley said as she zoomed in on the second signal's location. "One match was outside of Angel Grove in the mountains. The second match was in the city, and that second match, it's in the Academia Inc. building. One guess who owns it."
Tommy narrowed his eyes. "Billy..."
"What is it?" Simon asked as he walked towards the computer.
"We've got two matches," Tommy said as he thought for a moment. "Simon, I want you to scout the Academia Inc. building. Don't get too close. Just get a feel for what's inside the building and report back. The rest of you will head into the mountains. We're going to assume that the energy source we're picking up there is the same Dark Kiva that attacked J-Force and captured Aero Red."
Dark Kiva tilted his head with delight as his vision allowed him to see the neurons in Christopher's brain fire off with pain. The villain took note of how The Power in the ranger's body reacted.
"Your power gives you strength and healing," Dark Kiva said. "Maybe you think that will help you resist me...but it won't. I can manipulate your energy by using my own. I can stop the healing. I can stop your body from accepting your power's refreshing currents."
Dark Kiva plunged his hand deeper into Christopher's chest, and the ranger screamed with agonizing pain.
"Now tell me," Dark Kiva said as he twisted his hand. "Where is he...where is my son."
The villain intensified the pain for a minute and pulled his hand free. "Where?"
Christopher's head hung low, and his breathing was heavy. But he managed to lift his head just slightly to look Dark Kiva in the eyes. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"You've been near him," Dark Kiva said. "I can sense his essence all over you, just as his presence has touched your teammates."
"You might as well kill me, because you're not going to find out what you want to know," Christopher said. "I'm not afraid to die. I'm not afraid of pain. Not since the woman I loved died because of freaks like you."
"Well, in that case," Dark Kiva said, "I'll stop holding back."
Dark Kiva plunged both hands into the ranger's chest, and Christopher's wailing screams echoed throughout the cavern until his voice became horse.
Simon leapt across the rooftops and landed across the street from the Academia Inc. building, where Silver Guardians patrolled several ledges as well as the rooftop. Luckily, Simon didn't have to get close to the building to use his gift.
The teen had an empathic sense that had nothing to do with the One Power. He reached out with those senses and felt the building for the source of the energy signal Ashley had located. It didn't take him long to find what he was searching for.
Near the center of the building, a powerful entity spiked with fear, anger, confusion, and most of all, pain- so intense, the sensation made Simon flinch and take a step back as his nose started to bleed.
"What the hell," Simon whispered.
He reached out again, more carefully this time, and focused instead on the scientists surrounding the source of the energy signal. Then it became clear.
They weren't scientists studying a specimen. They were interrogators, and they were using torture.
Crimson Thunder led the dash into the cavern tunnel towards the cave where Aero Red was being held. They charged into the cavern expecting a fight, but the only person in the cave was Christopher, chained to the wall, and Dark Kiva was nowhere in sight.
Hurricane Yellow swung his sword and cut Christopher's wrists free, and the ranger immediately slumped towards the ground, but Hurricane Blue caught him.
Weakly, Christopher raised his head to look at his rescuers. "You guys are about the last people I expected to see."
"You're welcome," Navy Thunder said.
Crimson Thunder looked down the stone cavern and reached his hand back towards his staff. "We need to hurry," he said. "It's Dark Kiva. He's coming."
Explosions suddenly sparked against the four Rangers and hurled them against the stone wall hard enough for Hurricane Blue to lose her grip on Christopher, who fell to the ground.
The young man looked up to see Dark Kiva stalk from the shadows. Christopher narrowed his eyes and armed his morpher. "Suit up."
Energy flashed around him as he morphed into his Ranger form. The One Power flowed through his body- a refreshing current- but he was still weak from being tortured at the hands of Dark Kiva.
Aero Red rose to his feet and looked back to the Power Rangers. "I'll hold him off. You guys go."
Hurricane Yellow shook his head. "That would kind of defeat the whole purpose of rescuing you."
"Screw it," Navy Thunder said as he unsheathed his staff. "This one's on me."
Navy Thunder dashed forward and swung his staff towards the villain, but Dark Kiva caught the staff, snapped a pair of sidekicks that sparked against the Ranger's side, and slammed the back of his fist across the Ranger's helmet. The blow whipped Navy Thunder off his feet, and he crashed against the ground and tumbled across the cavern floor.
"More of you?!" Dark Kiva said. "Send all your armies, it will not matter, I will find my son."
Hurricane Blue moved to Navy Thunder's side as Crimson Thunder, Hurricane Yellow, and Aero Red charged at Dark Kiva to attack.
Dark Kiva extended his arms, and the crimson shadow of the bat spread across the stone ground beneath his feet. The shadow slid forward beneath the three Rangers and snapped up like a wall that suspended them in place as tendrils of energy lashed out and sparked against their armor.
The villain waved his hand and reeled in Crimson Thunder, who he caught in a choke hold, kicked against the ribs, and tossed backward. Before the Crimson Thunder Ranger even hit the ground, Dark Kiva reeled in Hurricane Yellow and bashed a sidekick that knocked the Ranger backward. Then Dark Kiva reeled in Aero Red and slammed the back of his fist across the Ranger's helmet.
Hurricane Blue helped Navy Thunder to his feet, and they looked up just as Dark Kiva knocked the Red Jet Force Ranger to the ground.
"Shit," Navy Thunder said.
The Navy Thunder Ranger leapt against the wall, ran across the side of the cavern, and dashed at Dark Kiva while slashing him across the chest with a burst of spark.
Navy Thunder swung his staff around for another strike, but Dark Kiva blocked the blow, slammed a roundkick against the Ranger's side, and slammed a backfist strike across the Ranger's helmet.
Tommy was standing next to Ashley at the Ops computer terminal when Simon's comm signal came through. "This is Simon," he said. "I swept the Academia building, and there's definitely something here."
"What did you sense?" Tommy asked.
"They have a prisoner of some kind, and they're torturing him. He doesn't feel human, so it has to be the bio signal that Ashley picked up," Simon said.
"You're sure he's being tortured and isn't just injured?" Tommy asked.
"I'm sure," Simon said. "I sensed the interrogators."
Tommy clenched his fists. "Okay...catch up with Hunter and the others. Don't try to beat Dark Kiva, just get Aero Red out of there and regroup until we come up with a plan."
"Do we even know how to beat Dark Kiva yet?" Simon asked.
"Not a clue," Tommy said. "Just be careful."
"I always am," Simon said.
They cut off their comm line, and Ashley immediately turned to Tommy. "Don't."
Tommy shrugged. "Don't what?"
"Talk to Billy," she said.
"I can't visit an old friend?" he joked.
"Seriously," Ashley said. "Don't push him. We've got enough going on with the Shinzon, Dark Kiva, and not to mention the Dark Man who's still out there somewhere. You don't need to make an enemy of Billy too."
"We have to find out what's going on," Tommy said. "If Billy gets ticked off in the process, then so be it."
"Hydro Blast!" Hurricane Blue fired a bolt of hydro energy, but Dark Kiva merely slapped the blast back at her, and the bolt of hydro energy exploded against her chest with a burst of spark.
The other Rangers surrounded Dark Kiva to attack, but the villain extended his arms, and his armor exhaled a cloud of crimson-tinted energy. The energy cloud sparked against Aero Red, Hurricane Yellow, Hurricane Blue, and Navy Thunder.
Crimson Thunder managed to snap his staff open into its energy shield formation in time to block the blast, but the impact knocked his weapon from his grasp.
He swung his right hand towards the villain and shouted "Shadow Bolt!"
The Ranger fired a bolt of crimson-tinted shadow energy that sparked against Dark Kiva's chest and knocked the villain back a step.
Crimson Thunder quickly somersaulted across the ground while grabbing his weapon, and he charged at Dark Kiva. But the villain recovered in time to block a flurry of kicks and staff swings and kick the Ranger back with a burst of spark.
Dark Kiva crouched down and leapt at Crimson Thunder. But a powerful gust of air suddenly bashed against Dark Kiva before he could strike and swept him backward, and the villain crashed against the cave wall.
The Rangers regrouped and turned to see Hurricane Red dash into the cavern. "Come on, guys, we have to fall back."
Hurricane Red regrouped with his teammates, swung his sword, and fired a blade of red-tinted energy that Dark Kiva used his forearm to block as explosions sparked across his armor.
When the sparks cleared, the Rangers were gone.
Tommy barged into Billy's office within the high-rise Academia Inc. skyscraper.
"Tommy..." Billy said. "One of these days I'm going to dispense with the pleasantries and just shoot you."
"What's going on in this building?" Tommy asked.
"From the look on your face, you think I'm drowning babies," Billy said.
"This Dark Kiva guy kicked the crap out of your Jet Force team and captured its leader. He practically blew up a city block in the process," Tommy said. "He's after something. Something you have. In this building."
"And I suppose I should just give the bad guy what he wants?" Billy asked.
"It's a person," Tommy said. "And he's in pain."
Billy narrowed his eyes. "It seems you already know more than I'd like you to." He leaned back in his chair. "It's not a person. It's from the same dimension as this Dark Kiva, only it got here first, and it has information we need. It could be a prelude to an attack."
"So you torture him?" Tommy asked. "If he's a villain, fine, hold him as prisoner or whatever, but don't torture him."
"And I suppose if you met him on the battlefield, you'd feed him milk and cookies," Billy said. "How many have you killed in all your years?"
"It's different on the battlefield," Tommy said. "Once you take a prisoner, it's a whole new set of rules and ethics."
"Our captive is a threat," Billy said. "He...it has information that we're going to extract, and it's going to save lives."
"There are other ways to get information," Tommy said. "If you do this, you're no better than they are."
"I'm okay with that," Billy said. "Now get out of my office."
"Billy..." Tommy said. "I need to know what's going on. My Rangers are involved in this, the same as yours."
"No, your Rangers are meddling," Billy said.
Cranston reached beneath his desk and strapped a high-tech gauntlet around his hand and forearm, and before Tommy could react, Billy sprang to his feet and thrust the gauntlet forward.
The gauntlet's palm fired a distortion pulse that splashed across Tommy's body with a flash of light. The blast covered his body with ripples of energy that lifted him into the air. He clenched his jaw to keep from screaming and tried to break free from the energy grasp, but he could not. He felt as if his entire body was in a state of flux.
Cranston kept his arm extended towards his former teammate. "Painful, isn’t it? I’m holding your body in a temporal, spatial shift."
Tommy narrowed his eyes and fired an invisible Kiryoku blast that knocked Billy off his feet and onto the floor. The impact knocked loose Billy's hold on Tommy, and Tommy fell to land on his feet.
Cranston rose to a crouched position from behind his desk and hurled a distortion pulse towards Tommy, but Tommy summoned his sword with a burst of golden light and swung the weapon to deflect the blast.
The blast shot past Billy's head and shattered through the nearby window.
Dark Kiva stepped out from the cavern outside of Angel Grove and tilted his head towards the city, where he sensed the slightest of spatial distortions. Even from such great distances, he could sense the ripples in space and time, and he recognized the distortions as the same that had stolen his son.
The villain's body fluctuated with turquoise-tinted energy as he teleported into Angel Grove.
The Power Rangers regrouped on the rooftops of Angel Grove along with Aero Red.
The Red Jet Force Ranger's face may have been concealed by his helmet, but he clearly felt awkward. He looked to Hurricane Red. "Thank you..."
"It's what we do," Hurricane Red said.
"This isn't going to change anything, though," Aero Red said. "One of these days...Dr. Cranston's going to bring the entire Initiative down on you."
The Red Jet Force Ranger tilted his head as his helmet communicator picked up a signal that the Power Rangers couldn't hear. "Go for Naxx...how many...I'm on route."
He looked to the Power Rangers. "The Academia building is under attack on multiple fronts. One of them is Dark Kiva."
"We're coming with you," Hurricane Red said. It wasn't a question.
A group of five Silver Guardian jeeps raced around the block towards the Academia building plaza, where Dark Kiva walked towards the entrance. He could sense his son stirring with pain from within the building.
The jeeps surrounded Dark Kiva, but before the soldiers could even step out of their vehicles, Dark Kiva sprayed his cloud of crimson mist. The clouds surrounded the jeeps, and the vehicles exploded with massive balls of flame.
Explosions suddenly sparked against Dark Kiva, and the villain turned to see Aero White, Aero Yellow, Aero Blue, and Aero Black rush onto the scene with their Jet Blasters.
"Round two, bug," Aero Black said. "...or bat...or whatever..."
Dark Kiva waved his hand, and the Jet Force Rangers scattered as a shower of explosions sparked around them.
Tommy crashed through Billy's door, slammed against the hallway floor, and skid across the tiled floor until he slammed against the wall at the end of the hallway. The former ranger quickly rose to his feet and looked up to see Billy step out from his office.
"I didn't come here to fight you, Billy," Tommy said.
Dr. Cranston's gauntlet crackled with temporal/spatial energy. "What did you think was going to happen?"
"I was hoping you might actually listen to reason for once," Tommy said.
"For once?" Billy asked. "Look around you, Tommy...look at everything I've built in just eight years. I'm keeping this world safe, this galaxy safe, every day. And all you have is a little dojo in the woods. And remind me what happened to all the students who enrolled there a year ago? That's right, they were slaughtered by Jakanja. You couldn't even protect them. And does Ashley know what you did to their families?"
Tommy narrowed his eyes. "What are you-"
"You used one of your fancy spells," Billy said. "You made the families forget that their children's deaths had anything to do with the Hayate Way."
"I was protecting my-"
"So you bend ethics, and it's OK, but when I bend ethics, against an extradimensional monstrosity, it's not," Billy said. "Is that what you're saying?"
"I'm not perfect, Billy," Tommy said. "I've made mistakes. But the difference is that I recognize them as mistakes, and you don't. What I may or may not have done in the past doesn't make what you're doing here right."
"You're not the judge of that," Billy said. "Who the hell do you think you are, and what gives you the right to barge in here and preach to me about what's right and what's wrong."
Cranston hurled a bolt of distortion energy, and Tommy twirled his blade to deflect the blast. Continuing the swing, Tommy chopped his blade against the floor, and the hallway split open with a ripping line of sparks that tore the hall in half and sent Billy plummeting to the floor below.
Tommy fell through the opening and landed on his feet in the middle of an office area cluttered with glass cubicles. He kept his sword held in a defensive stance and watched as Billy climbed to his feet.
Workers ran from their cubicles towards the nearest exits, and Billy shouted at them. "Make sure you clock out."
The Power Rangers and Aero Red landed on a rooftop across the street from the Academia building. The Red Jet Force Ranger spotted his teammates fighting below and immediately leapt down to attack Dark Kiva.
Hurricane Red signaled his team to hold back. "Wait," he said. "What Dark Kiva wants, his son, is inside that building. Justin and Rachel, you guys come with me to find out who exactly this son of Dark Kiva is and what he's doing here. Hunter and Blake, you guys help J-Force hold off Dark Kiva."
"Help them again?" Navy Thunder asked. "But I really hate those guys."
"They helped us against Centhrax," Hurricane Blue said. "Or Cenathos. Or whatever he was calling himself at the time."
"That was different," Hurricane Yellow said. "The whole city was overrun with crazy zombies and bugs and stuff."
"They're Rangers," Crimson Thunder said. "That's the only reason we need to help."
Hurricane Red looked to Crimson Thunder as if the teen was totally a different person. "Seriously, where did you two go for two months? I'm starting to think you were replaced by Skrulls or something."
"Your cultural references are wasted," Navy Thunder said.
"Guys, we're wasting time," Hurricane Red said. "Let's figure out what the hell is going on and stop it."
Dark Kiva lifted a toppled jeep and hurled it at Aero Red.
The Red Jet Force Ranger leapt forward, dashed across the jeep while it flew through the air, and pushed off from its bumper to jump at Dark Kiva. Aero Red chopped his blade towards the villain, but Dark Kiva used his armguard to block the blow and kicked the Red Ranger backward.
Aero Yellow leapt through the air while holding a chunk of concrete debris that he hurled at the villain, but Dark Kiva swung a spin kick that smashed through the debris, scattering a cloud of dust and broken concrete upon impact.
Black Condor charged through the dust cloud, armed his Wing Gauntlet, and slammed a volley of punches that sparked against Dark Kiva and forced the villain back several steps. But Dark Kiva grabbed Black Condor by the wrist and hurled him aside.
A bolt of navy-tinted lightning suddenly exploded against Dark Kiva's back with a massive burst of spark and sent him staggering forward, just as a crimson-tinted bolt of shadow energy exploded against his chest.
Navy Thunder landed on the street, dashed past Dark Kiva, and slashed the villain across the chest with a burst of spark. Crimson Thunder landed next to his younger brother and swung his staff in a twirling pattern that sparked across the villain's armor and forced him back several steps.
The commotion outside between Dark Kiva and Jet Force, and the commotion above between Tommy and Billy, distracted the guards enough for Simon, Justin, and Rachel to sneak towards the center of the building where Dark Kiva's son was being imprisoned and tortured.
The three rangers knocked out four guards with little trouble and moved into a laboratory cluttered with equipment, test tubes, and scanners that were mounted from the ceiling. In the center of the room was a naked being who looked like he was made of stained glass. The being- who appeared humanoid with a face that was young and child like- was strapped onto an upright lab table.
Simon, Justin, and Rachel slowly walked towards the being, who looked at them with a mixed expression of fear and contempt.
Rachel leaned in close to the humanoid being of stained glass. "What's your name?" she asked. The being looked at her with confusion. "Can you understand me?"
The being nodded.
"He's afraid," Simon said.
"It's okay," Rachel said. "We're not going to hurt you...but we need to know why you're here."
The being narrowed his eyes. "I was brought here," he said with a voice like a chime. "Forced here. But my father...he will come for me..."
"Forced here how?" Rachel asked.
"Pulled," he said. "Against my will."
"Why?" Rachel asked.
The being looked away from her.
"He doesn't know," Simon said. "And he's telling the truth. I don't think he even knew our dimension existed."
"So if you're released from here...what then?" Rachel asked.
"Released?" Simon asked. "Rachel, we can't-"
"What then?" Rachel asked again.
The being tilted his head, and Simon sensed the alien's confusion and skepticism. "You, your people, forced me here. You hunger for my power- but I will not surrender it. I am Kiva."
"The people who forced you here, we're not with them," Rachel explained. "But we do defend this planet. And your father, Dark Kiva, he's attacked us."
"He will free me," the being said. "And he will lay waste to your realm as punishment."
"You'd destroy a whole world just because of a misguided few?" Rachel asked.
Kiva hesitated. "I have seen nothing of this world worth saving. Nothing but cruelty. Arrogance."
"You can't judge an entire race by the worst of us," Rachel said.
Kiva looked away, and Simon sensed something...odd...stir within the being.
Simon took a step closer. "You know exactly what's she talking about...don't you..."
Kiva kept his gaze lowered. "My people, the Fangiya, are known as the conquerors of the Koorenai. Slayers of the Vataru. This is mostly because of my father, who is known in many circles as Kiva of the Blood. Dark Kiva."
"And that bugs you," Simon said.
"We have lost our way," Kiva said. "Actions once thought to be for the greater good have turned into actions of slaughter."
"Kiva," Rachel said. "We don't want to be enemies with your people. It's just that some of us, like the people who brought you here, they've lost their way too."
Rachel looked to Simon. "We have to get him out of here."
Simon looked to Kiva. "Will your father call off his attack if you're freed?"
Kiva hesitated, and then nodded. "I believe so. I only want to return home, and my father has the power to travel through dimensional rifts, which is how he followed me here. I can dissuade him from laying waste to your realm."
Justin looked to his leader. "That's not exactly reassuring."
"I trust him," Simon said.
"Me too," Rachel said.
"Well yeah, me too," Justin said. "But it's his dad I'm worried about. Dark Kiva. Dark. The name doesn't exactly inspire confidence."
"We have to end this," Simon said.
Rachel started un-strapping Kiva from the lab bed.
Dark Kiva extended his hand and projected a 12-foot-tall wall of energy shaped like a demonic bat. The energy wall skid across the street, slammed against Aero Black, and stuck against his body with bursts of spark as tendrils of energy stabbed against his armor.
The villain waved his hand, and the Black Jet Force Ranger tumbled through the air towards Dark Kiva. The villain snapped a sidekick that bashed against Aero Black and knocked him backward, and the Black Ranger slammed against the energy wall with bursts of spark as wisps of energy danced across his armor.
Dark Kiva waved his hand, and Aero Black crashed against the ground and tumbled across the pavement.
Crimson Thunder and Navy Thunder circled around to opposite sides of the villain.
Navy Thunder placed his right fist against his left palm. "Elemental Crisis!" He thrust his hand forward and blasted a thick bolt of lightning that snapped through the air with a thundering boom and rippled the fabric of space/time itself.
Crimson Thunder placed his right fist against his left palm. "Shadow Crisis!" He thrust his hand forward and fired a bolt of twirling shadow energy that shot towards Dark Kiva.
The villain twirled his cape as the blasts exploded around him with bursts of spark and flame that shook the street. But he managed to stand his ground.
"Father, stop!" a voice shouted from the entrance of the Academia building.
Dark Kiva turned to see Hurricane Red, Hurricane Yellow, and Hurricane Blue walk from the entrance alongside Kiva.
"My son," Dark Kiva said. "My heir."
The Power Rangers stayed back as Kiva walked closer to the villain. "They've freed me so we can return home, to our own dimension."
"Have they?" Dark Kiva turned his head towards the three Wind Power Rangers. "Cowards."
The villain hurled bolts of jagged, turquoise-tinted lightning that exploded against the three Rangers and sent them flying off their feet.
"No!" Kiva shouted as he grabbed his father's arm. "They didn't act out of fear. They saved me."
Dark Kiva shrugged his son's grasp away. "They are lower lifeforms. They deserve death."
"I will not let you hurt them," Kiva said. "This madness has to stop..."
Kiva stepped back, and his body rippled as he transformed into his own suit of armor. His shoulder armor was silver, and his chest plate was crimson, the same color as his gloves and the highlights above his yellow bug-like eyes, which angled upward like a bat. His armor covered a black bodysuit it, and silver armor was wrapped in chains around his right leg.
Kiva stepped back into a defensive stance. "These people do not deserve your rage."
Dark Kiva rolled his hands into fists. "You were always weak...perhaps I need a new heir. Very well...because you are my spawn, I will spare this realm and return to our home. You however...if you value these lower lifeforms so much, you can stay with them and rot."
Dark Kiva slammed his foot against the ground, and the impact created an image of a bat that spread across the street. The image flashed with burning light that sparked against Kiva and the Rangers and knocked them backward.
The bat-like image opened a dimensional tear as Dark Kiva sank into the light and vanished. The tear closed with a thundering boom that shattered all the windows across the street.
Kiva lowered his head, but the blare of sirens quickly caught his attention. Another wave of Silver Guardian jeeps arrived at the scene, and Silver Guardian soldiers and more heavily-armored ZECT troopers piled out of the vehicles and surrounded Kiva.
"Wait, don't-" Hurricane Blue tried to call them off, but she was too late.
"Open fire!" The soldiers fired high-yield, armor-piercing bullets that sparked against Kiva with enough force to nearly knock him over, but he stood his ground.
Kiva crouched forward and dashed towards the soldiers, who kept firing as bullets sparked across his armor. Kiva somersaulted through the air and slammed a flying drop against a soldier while landing. He smashed his fist across a soldier's head, kicked another soldier away, and crouched down before leaping towards the rooftops, where he disappeared from sight.
Half the soldiers ran off to pursue, while the other soldiers closed in around the Power Rangers.
Hurricane Red looked to his team. "Something tells me we should be going too."
The Power Rangers leapt past the guards and to the rooftops.
Billy's gauntlet fired a quartet of distortion blasts that shattered through glass cubicles as Tommy dashed down the hall with his sword in hand.
"You done trashing your offices yet?" Tommy asked as he stopped, turned, and fired a Kiryoku blast that knocked Billy off his feet and sent him shattering through a nearby glass cubicle.
Billy landed hard against a desk and rolled onto the ground. He rolled onto his feet, but before he could attack again, a comm signal came through his wrist communicator. "Dr. Cranston, sir...the anomaly has escaped," a voice said.
"What, how?!" Billy looked towards where he had last seen Tommy, but the former ranger was gone.
His name was William "Billy" Cranston, but he was not the Billy of our world. Cranston, the Shaper, came from an alternate reality called Demon World Earth, where the forces of evil defeated the Rangers and reigned supreme.
Cranston had worked for the forces of DaiSatan on Demon World Earth, and as the Shaper, he created monstrosities to smite the remnant forces of good. He missed those days. He missed toying with creation to fashion the ultimate lifeform. The possibilities were limitless on Demon World Earth because of all the resources that were granted to him. His current facilities were lacking.
The villain sat behind a metal desk cluttered with computer monitors and wiring, as was the rest of his chamber. His dimly-lit lair was hidden within the mountains outside of Angel Grove.
Cranston tuned one of his monitors into a satellite feed, which showed the saucer-shaped vessel of the Shinzon in orbit. "Fascinating..." he whispered. "That's the fifth dimensional fracture this month."
Realty breaches were becoming more frequent every month, and they had been for about a year. Most of the breaches did nothing but distort space. About half a dozen had released barely-sentient lifeforms that died and vaporized as soon as they were exposed to Earth's dimension. Only three fractures had released powerful beings: first the Vyram, then the Shinzon, and now this Dark Kiva.
Cranston hoped that by studying the phenomenon, he could find a way to bring the forces of Demon World Earth to the prime reality.
The DaiSatan of Demon World Earth would reward Cranston if he provided the evil lord with a entirely new reality to conquer. But Cranston needed an army of his own to do so. He needed resources. He needed a power base.
He'd spent the past few months using his limited resources to make a crude, small army, but they weren't enough.
Decimator was the self-titled general of the army. His upper body and head were covered with a single armor segment and grated faceplate, and he was armed with a sword forged with vibranium alloy. The rest of his body was covered with black, and he wore a dark-red cape.
Zeltron was second in command. His body was cobbled together with plates of dark gray armor, and certain segments of the armor were painted with black and dark-orange stripes like a tiger.
Toxoid was made of gray-ish green armor, and his head was covered with a transparent dome. Within the dome was a brain-like mass with two eyes.
Hammer Fist was the most bulky of the robot soldiers, with massive fits and plates of armor covering his shoulders and legs.
Crabor was an android that appeared lifelike, with tendrils in place of arms.
Cranston's army was rounded out with three more slender robot models, Chrome, Insectatron, and Combax.
"Master!" Toxoid said in a shrieking, annoying voice. "The television, Master Shaper."
Cranston clenched his fist and restrained from blasting his creation and starting over. He activated the nearest television monitor, which displayed images he captured from various satellite and digital feeds. One of the images showed Tommy and Billy's battle in the Academia building. Another video feed showed the battle between Dark Kiva and the Power Rangers.
He watched each battle until they ended, then he turned his attention to the Academia building itself. What he found inside those walls fascinated him.
"Hmph," he said thoughtfully as he leaned back in his chair. "I seem to have underestimated the ingenuity of my counterpart in this dimension."
Rachel sat down on the grass outside the Hayate Way dojo while Simon practiced a kata. "Do you have a minute?"
"Yeah." Simon kept going through his movements. "Any word on Kiva?"
"No, Tommy and Ashley have been searching ever since we all got back," Rachel said. "That's not what I came out here to talk to you about. I wanted to talk about...well, you. You've gotten really withdrawn during the past couple weeks. What's wrong?"
Simon snapped a roundhouse kick. "Just been busy."
"With what?" she asked.
"It's personal." Simon snapped another volley of kicks.
"Simon," Rachel said. "Tell me what's wrong. I'm your friend...or at least I thought I was..."
Simon sighed and stopped practicing. He looked to Rachel, but then looked away. He took a deep breath and gave up. "I've been trying to track down my parents. My birth parents."
"Your birth parents?" Rachel asked.
Simon nodded and sat on the grass across from Rachel. "I thought I was close for a while, but it feels like I've hit a dead end." He pulled out the ring. "Shurikenger gave this to me before he died. It belonged to my Dad. It was Shurikenger who brought me to my foster parents when I was a baby, back when he had a normal human form. The crest on the ring is the symbol of Egos, a cult from the future. That's all I know."
"The future?" Rachel asked. "Simon, that's not a dead end."
"Then where am I supposed to look next?" he asked.
She leaned forward and put a hand on his leg. "Think about it for a sec, Red. Who would know about the future?"
Simon's eyes lit up. He slightly blushed. "I'm such an idiot sometimes."
"No argument there," she said.
Simon smiled and stood. He reached down his hand and helped Rachel up. "Come on...let's go say hi to Time Force."
To be continued...Chapter 04