Ultimate Origins: Chapter Four
Dark Shaper: Scrap Metal
Simon, Justin, and Rachel walked towards DECA Base, the headquarters of the Silver Guardians and their new Ranger team, the DECA Rangers.
Justin was reluctant to approach the fortress. "So what...we just go up, knock, and ask for the Time Force Rangers?"
"Former Time Force Rangers," Simon said. "And yes."
Justin sighed. "Remind me to ask Tommy if you and I can switch morphers so I can be in charge."
Simon smiled. "Then we'd never leave Ops."
"Exactly," Justin said.
Rachel shook her head as they walked closer to the Silver Guardians who stood guard outside the base entrance. "They'll probably arrest us on sight. They know who we are, and they don't like us."
A mischievous grin crossed Simon's face. "That's what I'm counting on."
Simon stepped closer to the guards and flashed them a mocking grin. "Gentlemen, if you don't mind, we'd like to point out a few issues with your landscaping. You see-"
The guards pulled out their guns and aimed at the rangers. "Not another step!" One of the guards spoke into a comm link on his upper arm. "Code 5."
Justin looked to Simon and arced an eyebrow. "Code 5?"
Simon shrugged. He kept his eyes on the guards. "We need to talk to your boss. Wes Collins."
The guards said nothing. The entrance to DECA Base swung open, and two dozen guards filed out. The soldiers carried energy rifles that they aimed at the rangers while surrounding them.
One of the guards narrowed his eyes. "Give me a reason. My sister went to school at Solon Robinson."
Justin scoffed. "Mine went to Angel's Haven. What's your point?"
"The school was crushed when you and your Thunder pals decided to duke it out in your Megazords. She was 10."
Simon's face became pale. "I'm sorry..."
The entrance to DECA Base opened again, and Wes Collins stepped out. He walked towards the rangers without bothering to pull out his weapon. "Stand down," Wes told his men. "It's okay."
He stepped closer to the rangers and knitted his brow. He did not look happy. "You shouldn't have come here." He kept his voice low. "We're ordered to detain you three if you set foot within even a block of this place."
"So a block and a half is okay?" Justin asked sarcastically.
"Justin," Rachel chided.
He lowered his head and grinned sheepishly. "Sorry."
"We need to talk to you," Simon said.
"Fine," Wes said. "But it will have to be in an interrogation room."
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 cobbled together a makeshift lab in the mountains outside of Angel Grove after getting pulled into the prime reality, following the event that the media called the Countdown to Destruction.
He created a small army too, but the crude soldiers were hardly sufficient for the Dark Shaper's plans.
Cranston knew that he needed new assets at his disposal, and he knew the perfect place to aquire such assets.
The villain tuned one of his computer monitors in to an image of DECA Base. The video feed was hacked from INET satelites around Earth's orbit.
"This is your target: the Earth Branch of an organization that my counterpart calls Space Patrol Delta," Cranston told his generals: Decimator, Zeltron, and Toxoid. "Inside this fortress is a confinement area, where you will find your objective."
Cranston's video feed showed an interior map of DECA Base and the path that his army would need to take to the confinement area.
Toxoid barely paid attention. "Why is this even necessary?!" he screeched with an annoying voice that Cranston regretted programming. "You already have your army."
Cranston shook his head. "All of you are nothing but scrap metal. What I need is real power; power you'll bring me from this fortress. Then I will have an army. Then I will make myself known."
Simon, Justin, and Rachel sat at an interrogation room table as Wes, Jenn, and Lucas stood across from them. Jenn and Lucas were both from the future, but they became stuck in the present following the Mogralord War.
Simon finished telling them everything he'd learned about the Egos so far.
Jenn nodded along as she recognized the story. "The Egos went back in time to the 1980s to try and gain control of the Dragon. Time Force sent a team back to stop them. They were all apprehended and brought back to the present...well...our present. Your future."
"How?" Simon asked. "What happened?"
"I'm not sure exactly," Jenn said. "I wasn't involved with that mission. Tatsuya was. I read some of the files when I infiltrated Time Force to find Dorunero's spy. All I know is that the Egos tried to establish a power base in the 1980s. They changed history somewhat, but the TIR was too high for Time Force to do anything about it."
"TIR?" Simon asked.
"Temporal Incursion Ratio," Jenn said. "It's how we determine how much damage a change to the time stream would cause if left alone, versus how much damage it would cause if we tried to fix it. High TIR events would cause more damage to the time stream to fix than to leave alone.
"Apprehending Egos had a low TIR," she continued. "Cleaning up after their mess had a high one, if I remember correctly."
"I hate time travel," Justin muttered.
"Was anyone from Egos left behind?" Simon asked.
"No," Jenn said.
"Why?" Lucas asked.
"No reason," Simon said.
"Time Force actually teamed up with a covert agency from your time called Section 31 to fight off the Egos," Jenn said. "That's all I know."
Alarms suddenly blared within the nearby corridors, and Wes activated a comm link on his wrist. "Sit rep."
"Sir," a voice answered. "The base is under attack by a meta-level threat, and all Ranger assets are off site."
Wes looked to Simon, Justin, and Rachel. "Not exactly."
Silver Guardian SUVs surrounded the plaza in front of DECA Base, and the soldiers fanned out to surround Cranston's monster known as Crabor.
The guards fired high-yield rounds that exploded against the monster with bursts of spark, but the creature hardly seemed to feel the blasts.
Crabor whipped out his tentacles, which extended long enough to cross the length of the entire plaza, and swept the tentacles around like whips while smashing nearly every SUV over and smacking down several dozen of the guards.
The villain continued his swing, whipped his long tentacles overhead, and smashed them against an SUV with enough force to cause the vehicle to explode with a massive shockwave that shook the ground.
Nearby, the entrance to DECA Base opened, and Simon, Justin, and Rachel rushed onto the war-torn plaza.
Justin scoffed. "I am so over monsters with tentacles."
The teens armed their morphers.
"Senpu...Ninjetti Change! Ha!" Energy twirled around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.
"Power of Air...Hurricane Red!"
"Power of Earth...Hurricane Yellow!"
"Power of Water...Hurricane Blue!"
"Hurricane Task Force!" Hurricane Red shouted. Together they called out: "Power Rangers!"
Crabor swung back his tendrils, which expanded several meters, and slammed the tendrils against the ground with a thundering boom that shook the plaza. The impact caused a shockwave that made the Rangers lose their balance and stumble to stay on their feet.
The creature lashed out with its tentacles, wrapped the limbs around Hurricane Red and Hurricane Yellow, swung them overhead, and bashed them against the ground hard enough to crack the concrete on impact, with enough force to shake the plaza.
Hurricane Blue dashed towards Crabor to help her friends, but a massive figure suddenly dropped to the plaza in front of her with a massive boom that shook the ground and cracked the concrete.
The figure, Cranston's monster known as Hammer Fist, lunged forward and slammed the back of his fist across the Blue Ranger's helmet. The force of the blow sent her flying off her feet, and she smashed against the side of a nearby Silver Guardian SUV.
Hurricane Red climbed to his feet and activated his communicator. "Tommy, Ashley, we're under attack. What the hell are these things?"
"Not the Shinzon," Tommy answered.
"Then what are they?" the Red Ranger asked.
"No clue," Tommy said.
"Well that's not exactly reassuring," Hurricane Red said.
Crabor snapped his tentacles like whips towards Hurricane Red and Hurricane Yellow, and the Rangers leapt clear as the tentacles passed beneath them and smashed against a Silver Guardian jeep hard enough to knock the vehicle over.
A squad of Silver Guardian soldiers stood with their backs towards each other in a 4-way cross section within DECA Base, and each of them was armed with a high-yield rifle. The soldiers, freshly initiated into the Silver Guardians, were at the cross section in the unlikely event that attackers penetrated the deeper sections of the fortress.
The unlikely had happened without warning.
A small metallic sphere dropped into the center of the soldiers' formation and exploded with a burst of concussive energy that knocked the guards out and scattered them down the corridors.
Combax dropped to the floor and dashed down the corridor towards his objective: one of SPD's retention and research labs.
Three soldiers turned a corner up ahead, and Combax dashed past them while quickly breaking one guard's neck, snapping the second guard's back, and smashing the third guard's nose up into his brain.
Combax kept charging ahead, knowing he had only moments before someone in the base noticed the unresponsive guards and sounded the alarms.
Sure enough, the alarms started to blare as red lights flashed along the floor and ceiling, and metal doors slid into place to protect sensitive areas of the fortress.
But the security measures were too late.
Combax fired a concussive burst that blasted through a doorway, and he leapt through the opening and into a laboratory just before a large metal door slammed shut to seal the area.
The laboratory walls were lined with large glass containment units that extended from floor to ceiling. About half the units contained various creatures and monsters suspended in clear, bubbling fluid, and the rest of the units were empty.
A pentagonal-shaped lab table with several computer clusters was in the center of the lab, and suspended in an energy field just above the center of the table was a card that looked similar to an Ace of Hearts, but with the symbol of a mantis.
Combax lifted the Ace of Hearts from the lab table, but before he could run off, the doors to the lab slid open and Wes, Lucas, and Jenn stormed inside with their blasters firing.
Vibranium-tipped, high-yield bullets sparked against the villain and nearly knocked him off his feet.
"Jenn, go!" Wes shouted.
Lucas and Wes kept firing, but Jenn jumped onto a nearby lab table, pushed off, and leapt towards Combax with a flying sidekick. Wes and Lucas stopped firing, and Jenn smashed a kick against Combax. But the monster grabbed her ankle and hurled her like a rag doll across the room, and she slammed against her two teammates.
Combax threw a small pellet to the ground, and the pellet exploded with a near-blinding flash of light that took the three Silver Guardians off guard. When the light faded, the Guardians' vision burred back into focus. But Combax was gone.
Lucas narrowed his eyes at the spot where Combax had disappeared. "How'd he get this deep into base without our knowing?"
"That's a good question," Wes said as he looked down to where the flash grenade had burnt an explosive pattern across the floor. "It shouldn't have been possible. This place is more secure than Fort Knox."
"You think it was an inside job?" Lucas asked. "That clown could have been posing as a Guardian."
"That's still a stretch," Wes said.
"Um, boys," Jenn said to get their attention. "Look around you..."
For the first time, Wes and Lucas noticed the cylinders around the room and the monsters contained within. More than one of the monsters looked frightfully familiar.
Lucas shook his head. "What are these doing here? I thought they were destroyed?"
The monsters were called Undead, minions of the Mogralord that all of Earth's champions had fought against during a massive battle that the media referred to as Countdown to Destruction II.
"Maybe some of them survived," Wes said.
"No..." Jenn said. She narrowed her eyes and stood in front of one of the tubes; the tube that contained the Eagle Undead- the monster that had killed Damien, Time Yellow, and Sion, Time Green. Sion had sacrificed himself to kill the creature. "This is the one that killed Damien and Sion. We know for a fact this one was destroyed."
"Then what are they doing here?" Lucas asked.
"I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason," Wes said.
He wished he could believe himself.
Combax dashed across the city rooftops with the stolen card in hand. He moved with the speed and agility of a ninja, despite his artificial limbs and body. But he was no match for the real thing.
A bolt of navy-tinted lightning sparked against his body and tossed him onto a roof. He skid across the rooftop, and when he rolled into a crouched position, he looked up to see Navy Thunder and Crimson Thunder land nearby.
The villain tucked the Ace of Hearts into his belt and rose to his feet. "I have been programmed by my master to fight you, Power Rangers. You will not block my escape."
Crimson Thunder unsheathed his staff. "We'll do more than that."
Navy Thunder armed his stag claw; and Combax charged forward with a blur of motion to attack. The Navy Thunder Ranger dashed forward and spun past the warrior while slashing across his chest with a burst of spark.
The blow took Combax off guard, and the villain started to stumble backward as Crimson Thunder moved in.
“Shadow Style! Thunder Strike Jutsu!” He poured his shadow energy into the staff, which crackled with bolts of electricity. He chopped the blade down diagonally and back up with a backhand swing.
The strikes sparked against the villain and knocked him off his feet, and secondary explosions sparked beneath the warrior’s armor.
"So much for your programming," Navy Thunder said as he dashed forward and slammed a flying kick that knocked the villain off his feet.
Combax crashed against the rooftop hard and tumbled towards the ledge. He rolled to his feet and clutched one of the gaping wounds on his armor plating. "I was already wounded, you fools. This was not a fair fight. When next we meet, I will be at my prime, and you will be destroyed."
The villain tossed a trio of smoke bombs to the rooftop, and they exploded with clouds of thick gas that hid his escape. The Rangers dashed forward, but when the smoke cleared, the villain was gone.
"Son of a-" Navy Thunder cursed. "I hate that trick. Come on, let's try to follow him. He couldn't have gotten too far."
"No," Crimson Thunder said. "We have to get to the others."
The Navy Thunder Ranger was about to protest, but then his thoughts drifted to Rachel. "Right."
Hurricane Yellow quickly ducked beneath one of Crabor's tentacles, which stretched and smashed against the walls of DECA Base with a thundering boom.
Nearby, Hurricane Red leapt through the air and slammed a flying kick against Hammer Fist to knock the villain back from Hurricane Blue.
With the villain off guard, Hurricane Red somersaulted through the air with his sword in hand. “Air Style! Whirlwind Strike Jutsu!”
The Red Ranger slammed a flying kick against the villain’s chest, and the impact sent the two opponents flying backward through the air. The Red Ranger kept his foot planted on the robot’s chest and swung his sword in a butterfly pattern, blade slashing across the villain’s body with bursts of spark.
Hurricane Red flipped backward, and the momentum smashed the villain against the side of DECA Base. Hammer Fist crashed against the ground and cracked the concrete upon impact, and Crabor rushed over to the fallen villain's side.
The three Rangers regrouped as well, but before they could attack, a cloud of toxic mist drifted across the plaza area. The mist surrounded the Rangers and sparked against their armor with enough force to knock them off their feet.
When the Rangers looked up, they saw Toxoid land on the ground next to Crabor and Hammer Fist. The villain's shrill laughter echoed through the air, and his fellow generals- Decimator and Zeltron - stepped into view.
Hurricane Red used his sword for balance and climbed to his feet. "Who the hell are you guys."
Toxoid laughed. "Nothing but scrap metal!"
The villain swung his hand, and his fingertips fired darts that exploded against the Rangers with a shower of sparks and clouds of mist.
When the mist cleared, the villains were gone.
Hurricane Yellow shook his head. "I'm getting sick of getting my ass handed to me."
Nearby, Crimson Thunder and Navy Thunder landed at the plaza, which looked like a mini warzone. Smoke still drifted in the air, and toppled SUVs still burned with flickers of fire. The concrete ground was cracked and smashed, and the bodies of injured or dead Silver Guardians littered the ground.
"Are we too late?" Navy Thunder asked.
"Look around," Hurricane Red said. "What do you think?"
Few people knew of the Hayate Way dojo's existence, and even fewer knew how to find it. Wes was one of those few. The former Time Force Ranger walked through the courtyard towards the dojo, and he was met outside by Tommy and Ashley.
"Wes, nice to see you again," Tommy said. "Unless you're here to arrest us or something."
"Nothing like that," Wes said. "But I do have bad news. I wasn't sure if I should even tell you or not. But it feels like I have to."
"What's going on?" Tommy asked.
"It's Dr. Cranston," Wes said. "Jenn, Lucas, and I...we think he's re-growing monsters that were destroyed in the Mogralord War."
Tommy narrowed his eyes, and his whole body tensed. "Why..."
"We're not sure," Wes said. "I just thought you should know. He's up to something, and it isn't something good."
"Where's this lab at?" Tommy asked.
"It was at DECA Base, but it's been moved since the break-in," Wes said. "I'm not sure to where."
Tommy nodded, and his gaze drifted towards the ground. Billy...His thoughts drifted to the space station that the former Ranger had used to create various monsters just before the Mogralord War. Tommy's younger brother Teddy had almost been killed by the creatures.
Ashley laid a hand on Tommy's arm and looked to Wes. "Thanks for letting us know..."
Rachel left the Hayate Way dojo and walked through the woods on her way back to the city later that afternoon. She didn't make it very far before she noticed a ruffling noise come from the nearby bushes. She kept walking but peaked her senses. Whoever was following her wasn't doing a very good job of moving with stealth.
"Whoever you are," she said as she stopped walking and turned around. "I know you're there."
A head peaked out from the nearby bushes, and Rachel recognized him instantly- which wasn't hard considering he had skin and hair like stained glass.
"Kiva..." Rachel said.
"I was trying not to startle you," he said with a voice that sounded like wind chimes.
"Sneaking up on someone is not the way to do that," Rachel said.
"I apologize," Kiva said as he stepped from the bushes.
"How long have you been following me?" Rachel asked.
"Not long," Kiva said. "I...was not sure where else to go."
"Where have you been these past few days?" Rachel asked.
"Wandering," Kiva said. "Aimlessly. This world of yours is...confusing to someone foreign."
Rachel smirked. "It's confusing to most of us too."
Kiva tilted his head. Cleary, humor was a foreign concept to the being, who'd been trapped in Earth's dimension because of a spatial tear created by Dr. Cranston's INET company. The alien was exiled from his home dimension when he refused to fight alongside his father, called Dark Kiva, or Kiva of the Blood.
Rachel sighed and shook her head. "Look...I'll help you for now. You can't just...roam aimlessly." But she knew Tommy and her friends would never let Kiva stay at the dojo. They wouldn't approve of her helping him. She had to keep it a secret and keep Kiva out of sight. "There's a cemetery not too far from here. Come on...we'll find you a place to hide."
"So they were robots?" Maya asked as she sat at Simon's desk and scrolled through the data on her grandfather's computer. Simon had contacted her after returning home.
"We think so, at least," Simon said. "We're just not sure where they're from."
Maya shook her head. "So much for-" She stopped in midsentence when she found what she was searching for. "I think I found a match."
"To Section 31?" Simon asked.
Maya nodded and pulled up a list of names on the screen. "Here," she said. "It looks like a list of names. No other files."
Simon sighed. "This thing practically had the floor plans of Zordon's Command Chamber. Why is it lacking everything we need now."
"Hold on a second, Simon," Maya said. "This name." She pointed to the screen. "This Section 31 member sounds familiar."
Simon's eyes opened wide at the name. "William Mitchell...the founder of Lightspeed Rescue."
The Dark Shaper, the Billy from Demon World Earth, held the Ace of Hearts in his hand and traced his fingers along its surface. "This will do nicely," he whispered.
The card had power- the power of the creature it depicted. The Shaper knew that his counterpart, the real William "Billy" Cranston, intended to use the set of cards to create a small army of four warriors, each powered with a different suit from the card deck, and each card infused with the powers of the monsters of the Mogralord. The Undead.
"Yes..." the Dark Shaper whispered. "This will do nicely. I will call him...Chalice."
To be continued...Chapter 05