Ultimate Origins: Chapter Five

Dark Shaper: Chalice

 

monster-21The Shinzon's latest creation grew giant and stomped through the streets of Angel Grove. The monster's name was Dragizon; the creature's bulky body was made of folded, dark-brown skin, and two heads grew from its broad shoulders. Each head looked like a mix between a snake and a rodent.

 

The five Power Rangers scattered on the streets below as Hurricane Red raised his morpher towards his faceplate.

 

"Storm-zords, arise!" Hurricane Red shouted.

 

Hurricane Hawk, Hurricane Lion, and Hurricane Dolphin swooped down from the skies, and the Wind Power Rangers leapt into the air and merged into their cockpits.

 

Hurricane Red stood behind a pedestal that carried a crystal control sphere. The sphere was transparent, with a red gem in its center, and the gem pulsed with strands of energy that traced along the sphere's inner surface.

 

The Red Ranger placed a hand over his control sphere. "Storm-zords assemble! Whirlwind Fusion!"

 

Hurricane Hawk, Hurricane Lion, and Hurricane Dolphin radiated with energy and shot into the sky like comets. The comets twirled around each other and collided with a burst of light, which cleared as the zords started to merge.

 

The three zords formed a warrior similar to the shape of their former StormMegazord in Lightening mode. A pair of wings extended from the Megazord's back, and armor formed around the wings as they snapped into position. Most of the Megazord's armor was white, with accents of blue, and the red-colored, H-shaped symbol of the Hayate Way was etched onto the small dome on the Megazord's chest.

 

"StormMegazord!" the Rangers shouted from a central cockpit. "ChoiSenpuujin!"

 

Below, Crimson Thunder raised his morpher towards his faceplate. "Thunder-zords, arise!"

 

The Navy Beetlezord and Crimson Insectazord swooped down from the skies, and the Thunder Rangers leapt into their cockpits, embedded within their zords' armor.

 

Crimson Thunder placed a hand over his control sphere. "Thunder-zords assemble! Thunder Fusion!"

 

The two zords radiated with energy and shot into the sky like comets. The streaks of energy twirled around each other and collided with a flash of light that dissipated as the zords started to merge.

 

The zords formed a warrior similar to the design of their old ThunderMegazord, only more slender. Two pieces of chest armor folded over the front of the Megazord to cover the front of its body; then the plates of armor flipped back like a pair of wings as the Megazord snapped into a mid-air fighting stance.

 

"ThunderMegazord!" The Rangers shouted from a central cockpit. "ChoiGouraijin!"

 

"Thunder Scythe!" Crimson Thunder shouted.

 

ThunderMegazord armed a staff weapon that ignited a yellow energy blade shaped like a scythe. The Megazord leaned forward and dove down from the skies towards the Shinzon Monster.

 

The creature opened its jaws and spat spheres of flame, but ThunderMegazord easily dodged the blasts while in midair and continued its advance. Scythe flaring, the Megazord slashed its weapon across the giant monster with a burst of spark, knocking the creature backward several steps as the StormMegazord moved in to attack.

 

"Storm Saber!" the Wind Power Rangers shouted as the Megazord summoned a slender blade in its right hand. The blade radiated with ebbing, yellow-tinted power, and wisps of flame and vapor danced along the blade's edge. "Storm Slash!"

 

The Megazord swung its blade through a powerful, horizontal swing that ripped through the creature's midsection with a massive burst of spark. The creature howled with pain as its body split apart, and its two halves exploded with spheres of flame that consumed the remains.

 

***

 

The Rangers leapt from their zords and landed on the rooftops before powering down their armor.

 

"Good work, guys," Simon said as he looked to the smoking ashes of the fallen creature in the distance. "There's not much to these Shinzon."

 

Justin snorted. "Don't jinx it, Red."

 

Simon looked to Hunter and Blake. "You guys coming back to the dojo with us?"

 

"Um, yeah," Blake said anxiously as he looked to Rachel. "Sure, I mean, if that's okay..."

 

"Actually, Blake..." Rachel started to say. She looked to Simon and Justin, giving them a silent signal to turn away. Once they did, Rachel looked back to Blake. "I have something to take care of. I know we were supposed to hang out, but...maybe some other time?"

 

Blake looked taken aback, as if he'd been punched in the gut. "Oh, I...sure. I mean...yeah, that's fine, whatever works. No worries."

 

"Thanks for understanding." She kissed him on the cheek and moved towards the edge of the roof to leap away with her teammates.

 

***

 

Tommy sighed with relief and sat on the couch at Ops, and Ashley sat down beside him while snuggling into his arms. Between taking care of Tommy's son Tyler, mentoring the Rangers, and getting ready for college, they were wiped.

 

"I feel so old," Tommy said.

 

Ashley rolled her eyes. "We're not even 30 yet."

 

"Give it time, dearest," Tommy said.

 

"Speaking of time...what time was our appointment at the college tomorrow?" she asked.

 

"You're asking me to remember something?" Tommy asked.

 

"Good point," Ashley said.

 

"Thank you," Tommy said.

 

"That wasn't exactly a compliment," Ashley teased.

 

"I can't be thankful anyway?" Tommy asked. "I'm a very thankful person."

 

The computer cluster at the other end of Ops started beeping with alarm, and Tommy and Ashley both sighed in unison.

 

"Think it's the Shinzon again? This soon?" Ashley asked as they stood up and walked towards the computer station.

 

"Could be those weird robots again. Or whatever toy army Billy is cooking up," Tommy said.

 

Ashley sat at her computer, and almost as soon as she did, the alert signal ended. "That's weird..." She pulled up a few windows on her computer screen. "Whatever we were picking up just vanished."

 

"What was it?" Tommy asked.

 

"Whatever it was, it didn't stay around long enough for us to get a good reading," Ashley said. "Our scanners couldn't even narrow down an area."

 

"That can't be good," Tommy said. "Let's run a sweep and see what we can find."

 

***

 

dcdsThe creature had struck faster than humanly possible; a beetle-like monstrosity, the creature's body was an odd suit of organic armor covered with short spikes. The beetle carried a shield on its left arm, a broad sword in its right hand, and a horn grew from its forehead beneath a pair of narrow blue eyes. 

 

A woman and two of her friends had been walking through the woods when the monster descended and hacked them to pieces. They had tried to run, but the beetle was too swift and desired their death.

 

The creature, bred to fight and destroy, was the reborn Beetle Undead, originally brought to life by the Mogralord, and brought back to life by William "Billy" Cranston's INET company.

 

The Beetle Undead ducked back into the woods to find more victims. And to fight. 

 

***

 

Rachel walked into the large, ornate crypt where she was hiding Kiva from the others. She brought the alien being a backpack filled with various pieces of scrap metal she had salvaged from her parents' garage. Her dad, a Bible-thumping Baptist, loved to work on cars. He liked to fix things.

 

"I brought what I could," Rachel said as she handed Kiva the bag. The alien didn't eat, but he needed to absorb various metals to maintain his physical form in Earth's dimension.

 

"Thank you for your help," Kiva said as he reached into the bag and pulled out a piece of metal plating. "Your comrades...they still do not know about me?"

 

Rachel shook her head. "I wouldn't even know how to tell them. They wouldn't understand."

 

"I am not sure that I do either, Rachel," Kiva said, his voice like chimes. "Not that I am ungrateful. I am just...confused."

 

Rachel shook her head. "I guess I just...I don't know. I guess I just know how you feel. Like an outsider. Wandering aimlessly with nowhere to go."

 

"You have purpose," Kiva said. "Structure. Comrades. Family."

 

"But it's all so..." Rachel couldn't quite describe it. "This just isn't what I want to be doing. I want to sing. I want to make music. I want to be normal. The closest thing to normal I have is Blake...but he's more caught up in this mess than I am. I just...I want to have a life. A normal, life and normal dreams."

 

"Define normal?" Kiva asked.

 

Rachel shrugged. "Normal is...normal. Not...you know, not weird. Fall in love with a man, get married, have kids, go to church on Sundays."

 

"Weird?" Kiva asked.

 

"Strange," Rachel said.

 

Kiva tilted his head thoughtfully, and his gaze seemed to glow slightly brighter. "I do not believe there is such thing as this 'weird.' To define weird, you would have to define what is 'normal.' There is no normal. Thus there is no weird. I believe all lifeforms are unique, with unique circumstances and differences that should be embraced."

 

Rachel smiled. "When you say stuff like that...it's hard to believe your father is a tyrant."

 

"He had strong expectations of me," Kiva said. "He wanted me to hate. To persecute and attack other civilizations and bend them to my will. But...I could not. And I was forsaken because of it."

 

"Sounds like you're better off now," Rachel said.

 

"I am..." Kiva said. "But a part of me...a part of me feels shame. Shame for turning my back on my father and embracing a life he would never approve."

 

"I know what you mean," Rachel said. "Not in the same way obviously, but...I know what you mean."

 

"How so?" Kiva asked.

 

She looked aside, and her gaze became distant. "Did you ever wonder why a girl like me, who wants so much to be normal, would make it a point to learn martial arts? To enroll in some mystic Kung Fu Ninja school? I...I have a secret, Kiva. Something I've never told anyone. Ever..."

 

***

 

Simon spent the rest of the day trying to track down Max Mitchell, the former Red Lightspeed Ranger and son of Capt. William Mitchell, who Simon believed was a link to finding out about his birth father. 

 

Simon knew that Max worked for INET, but the company was rather large with various divisions, and Simon wasn't sure where exactly Max worked.

 

Luckily, his older sister Maya had been able to use her resources to track Max down to the ISIS Prevention and Recovery Initiative main headquarters. The former ranger was working with a division called ARCAM. Simon never bothered asking what it stood for. He just needed to find Max.

 

He was on his way to the headquarters when his communicator toned. Ducking into an alley, Simon answered, and Tommy's voice came through. "Simon, this is Tommy. We've been picking up some strange readings in the woods north of the city for the past couple hours. We need you and the others to check things out."

 

"Strange how?" Simon asked.

 

"We're not sure yet," Tommy said. "It's taken us this long just to narrow things down to the woods. We don't think it's the Shinzon though...or those bots you guys fought at DECA Base."

 

"Great," Simon said sarcastically. "The last thing we need is more bad guys to deal with."

 

"Agreed," Tommy said. "I'll contact the others. Head up there as soon as you can."

 

***

 

Rachel walked out of the graveyard and onto a path that led back into the city, which was visible in the near distance, where skyscrapers reached towards the skies.

 

She didn't make it very far before she realized she was being followed. Again. Only this time she knew it wasn't Kiva. She could almost feel the taint of her stalker, like a shiver that was cool to the flesh but warm to the bone.

 

Suddenly a blur shot out from the woods, and Rachel leapt aside just as Beetle Undead's sword hit the ground where she had been standing.

 

Rachel flipped aside, but Beetle Undead swung his shield and bashed the ranger across the head. She slammed against the ground hard and blacked out as the monster stepped towards her, raised its sword, and chopped down.

 

Before the blade struck, a burst of rainbow-colored light sparked against the sword and knocked the weapon from Beetle Undead's hand. The monster cursed in a hissing, alien language and looked to see Kiva standing in the distance with his stained-glass hand extended forward, energy still sizzling in his palm.

 

"Step away from her, beast," Kiva said.

 

Beetle Undead hissed in a language that Kiva didn't recognize while lifting his sword up from the ground and charging forward to attack.

 

"Kivvatto!" Kiva shouted as he stepped back, and his body rippled as he transformed into his 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, and silver armor was wrapped in chains around his right leg.

 

Kiva crouched down and ran towards the oncoming Beetle Undead.

 

The monster dashed forward and swung its sword, but the massive blade was too slow, and Kiva jumped over the weapon and somersaulted through the air over the Beetle Undead.

 

Kiva landed his feet against the side of a tree, pushed off, and leapt through the air with a flying kick aimed towards the Beetle Undead's head. But the Beetle Undead used his shield to block the kick and knock Kiva side.

 

Kiva crashed against the ground and tumbled across the dirt before rolling into a crouched fighting stance. It was becoming more evident that, although he was faster and more agile than his opponent, the monster was far stronger.  

 

Kiva knew he would have to call upon a power that he swore he would never use. But Rachel's life was in danger, and he had to help her. He unclipped a red gem from his belt and placed it in the mouth of his bat-like buckle, which shouted: "Waik Awp!"

 

Kiva crouched down low as the bat detached from his belt and circled around him. He swung his right leg through a crescent pattern, and the bat buckler circled around the armor of his leg and snapped its chains, making the armor release like the wings of a bat.

 

Kiva leapt high into the air and turned upside down, suspended by the wings of his leg, as he faced the Beetle Undead. Kiva felt power burn through his veins as he flipped forward with a flying sidekick that shot towards the monster.

 

The kick smashed against Beetle Undead with a massive burst of spark, but the monster managed to turn with the blow to cushion its impact, and he used his shield to bash Kiva aside. 

 

Beetle Undead dashed forward and stabbed his sword towards Kiva, but Kiva rolled aside and kicked the legs out from Beetle Undead, causing the monster to collapse onto the ground.

 

Kiva rolled into a crouched position, but Beetle Undead quickly climbed to its feet and swung its sword across Kiva's helmet with a burst of spark powerful enough to flip his body backward.

 

Kiva hit the ground hard and rolled across the dirt before climbing back to his feet. And when he looked up, Beetle Undead was rushing forward. The monster chopped his sword, but Kiva used his forearm to block the blow with a burst of spark upon impact.

 

Beetle Undead bashed his shield across Kiva to knock the warrior down, and Kiva crashed back against the dirt. The monster kicked the fallen warrior several times, each kick sparking against the warrior's armor, and then Beetle Undead stabbed his blade towards the warrior's faceplate.

 

Kiva grabbed the blade less an inch from his helmet, and as he tried to push the weapon away, the monster merely pressed down harder.

 

New Bitmap Image (5)Suddenly, another figure leapt from the trees and slammed a flying sidekick against Beetle Undead, knocking the monster backward. The armored figure landed in a fighting stance and armed a weapon that looked like two pincers connected like a bow. His red, heart-shaped visor was bug like, with two antenna sticking up from his helmet. His chest piece was also heart shaped and etched with red markings.

 

He was Kamen Rider Chalice.

 

Chalice charged at Beetle Undead and slashed against the monster with swings and strikes that were brutal and savage but quick and efficient. Each blow sparked against the monster's armor, a few against its shield, and the creature was too taken aback to mount a successful counter attack.

 

Chalice used his staff like a fist weapon and swung a punch that shattered through Beetle Undead's shield and smashed against his chest, against the wound from Kiva's Rider Kick.

 

Beetle Undead stumbled backward but managed to stay on his feet while clutching the wound on his chest.

 

Chalice pulled two cards from a holster on his belt and lined them up with a slit on his weapon. The cards were the Five of Hearts, labeled with a shellfish creature, and the Six of Hearts, labeled with a hawk. One by one, he swiped the cards, and with each swipe, the weapon itself spoke a command: "DRILL; TORNADO"

 

Two flat cards of light projected from the weapon and splashed against Chalice's chest while being absorbed into the Rider's armor. Chalice crouched down, and as strands of energy circle around him like a cyclone, he leapt upward.

 

The Rider somersaulted through the air and shot at Beetle Undead with a spinning corkscrew kick that punctured through the monster with massive bursts of spark. 

 

Chalice stopped spinning and landed on the other side of the monster, and Beetle Undead slowly collapsed to the ground as secondary explosions sparked throughout his body and splattered green ichor.

 

The Kamen Rider pulled a blank card from his belt holster and hurled it at the monster. The card spun and stuck into the monster like a blade. And when the card started glowing, it appeared as if the monster itself was sucked inside. The card pulsed with light and quickly shot back into Chalice's hand.

 

The card was labeled with the picture of a horn beetle and the Ace of Spades, and it had the phrase "Change" written. He holstered the card into his belt.

 

Nearby, still weak from his battle with Beetle Undead, Kiva slowly walked towards Rachel while speaking to the Rider. "Thank you...You must be one of the Riders of this world. I am Kiva. I-"

 

Darts of energy suddenly sparked against Kiva and knocked him to the ground. He looked up to see Chalice stalk forward with his bow weapon extended outward, still smoking from the blasts.

 

"Why..." Kiva asked. "I am not your enemy."

 

"All things living are my enemy," Chalice said.

 

Kiva climbed to his feet, and Chalice dashed forward and swung his blade through a series of quick, precise strikes that sparked against Kiva's armor and forced him several steps back. Kiva managed to use his forearms to block some of the blows, but he was fatigued, and most of Chalice's strikes sparked across his armor.

 

"Stop!" Kiva shouted. 

 

Kiva slammed a roundkick against Chalice's side and a flurry of punches against the Rider's chest, but Chalice barely seemed to feel the blows, and the villain swung his blade through a wide arc that sparked against Kiva's chest and whipped his body backward.

 

Nearby, Rachel's vision slowly blurred into focus as she regained consciousness. She groaned and slowly sat up as she heard someone call her name from the woods. She looked to see Simon and Justin rush towards her.

 

She opened her eyes wide with panic. "What...what happened?"

 

Simon helped her to her feet. "Tommy sent us up this way to check out some strange readings. We didn't think you'd already be here."

 

"Well..." Rachel wasn't sure what to say.

 

"Hey," Justin said. "It's that Kiva guy."

 

"Come on," Simon said as he armed his morpher, and his teammates did the same.

 

"Senpu...Ninjetti Change! Ha!" Energy twirled around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

The three Rangers unsheathed their swords, dashed at Chalice, and slashed their blades at the evil Rider. But Chalice stepped back into a defensive stance and easily parried the Rangers' blows.

 

Hurricane Yellow twirled his blade and swung at the villain, but Chalice blocked the blow. "Any idea what this thing is?"

 

"Nope." Hurricane Red's slash was parried.

 

The Yellow Ranger snapped a tornado kick that Chalice blocked. "That's kind of becoming the new, annoying standard, isn't it."

 

The Red Ranger snapped a kick that Chalice blocked. "Yep."

 

Chalice swung his blade towards Hurricane Red's head, but the Red Ranger parried the blow and slashed against the Rider's chest with a butterfly pattern that sparked against his armor, knocking him slightly off balance, and giving Hurricane Blue time to move in with a powerful upward swing that sparked against his armor and whipped him off his feet.

 

Blurs of motion suddenly streaked across the landscape as Navy Thunder and Crimson Thunder arrived on the scene.

 

Chalice quickly rolled to his feet and shifted his attention to the newcomers. The evil Rider aimed his weapon and fired energy darts that the Thunder Rangers rolled aside to dodge. The Rider kept firing, and his blasts smashed through tombstones, sending clouds of dust and stone into the air.

 

The Thunder Rangers quickly rolled to their feet to attack.

 

"Shadow bolt!"

 

"Lightning blast!"

 

Navy Thunder hurled a bolt of lightning, and Crimson Thunder hurled a bolt of crimson-tinted shadow energy.

 

But Chalice had swiped the Six of Hearts across his weapon slot. "TORNADO."

 

Chalice hovered within a cyclone of energy, and the lightning blast and shadow blast ricocheted off of the tornado, shot back towards the Thunder Rangers, and exploded against them with a shower of sparks.

 

Chalice stopped spinning, and Hurricane Yellow moved in quick and smashed his Lion Hammer against the Rider's chest with a burst of spark that made Chalice stumble backward.

 

Hurricane Red moved in next and slashed his blade across the Rider with a flurry of strikes that sparked on impact before Chalice could defend himself. The Red Ranger spun forward and bashed a sidekick against the Rider's chest, knocking Chalice into a tree.

 

Hurricane Red charged forward to attack. But Chalice lifted his bow and fired energy darts that sparked against the Red Ranger's armor. Explosions still sparking around him, the Red Ranger jumped aside, rolled into a crouched fighting stance, and aimed his morpher at the evil Rider.

 

"Gyro Blades!" Hurricane Red snapped off a volley of H-shaped throwing stars that sparked against Chalice's hand and knocked the weapon from the Rider's grip.

 

The five Rangers regrouped and armed their weapons.

 

"Let's bring 'em together," Hurricane Red said.

 

Before the Rangers could strike, Chalice leapt across the ground, rolled across the dirt and grabbed his weapon, and rose back to his feet. He fired his bow in a straight line across the ground in front of him, and his energy darts exploded against the dirt with bursts of spark and smoke.

 

When the smoke and sparks cleared, the evil Rider was gone.

 

Nearby, Kiva walked towards the Rangers while clutching his injured arm. "Rachel, I..."

 

The Rider noticed Navy Thunder take a protective step closer to the Blue Ranger and trace his fingers along his staff, ready to strike if necessary.

 

Kiva lowered his head, rolled his hands into fists, and leapt away into the trees.

 

"Kiva, wait!" Hurricane Blue shouted.

 

"Wait?" Navy Thunder asked. "What was that about? Why was he out here anyway."

 

"I..." Hurricane Blue was glad that her helmet hid her face. "I don't know. He was fighting that monster, and I got caught in the middle. Tommy and Ashley sent me here, just like you guys."

 

"Blake." Crimson Thunder laid a hand on his brother's shoulder. "Let's go."

 

"But-" Navy Thunder started to say, but his brother cut him off.

 

"We can still track him," Crimson Thunder said. "He can't have gone too far."

 

Their communicators toned before they could start the search, and Tommy's voice came through. "Guys, more trouble. But at least this time...it's familiar trouble. The Shinzon are tracking something in the city. We're not sure what they're after, but it's near the ISIS Prevention and Recovery Initiative."

 

"Max..." Hurricane Red said. He looked to Crimson Thunder. "You guys try to track down that psycho Kamen Rider. We'll go see what the Shinzon are after." 

 

***

 

The ISIS Prevention and Recovery Initiative headquarters was a pyramid-shaped building just outside the Angel Grove Reconstruction zone that surrounded the vacant center of the city.

 

Simon, Justin, and Rachel lingered across the street from the building and tried to act casual as they sat on a bench, which looked towards an ornate fountain at the center of the plaza. Twin pedestrian bridges stretched over the plaza and linked its neighboring buildings.

 

Justin looked to his leader. "So, no going up and knocking this time?"

 

Simon shook his head. "Max doesn't have any authority over the guards, and he's the only one in there who's on our side."

 

"And you said this guy was the Red Lightspeed Ranger?" Justin asked. "Did all your friends wear spandex?"

 

"Basically," Simon said. "But we weren't really friends. We barely talked."

 

"That's comforting," Justin said sarcastically.

 

They waited several minutes before they spotted Max leave the building. The teen still wore his white lab coat and carried a metal suitcase.

 

"That's him," Simon said. "Come on."

 

The rangers followed Max about a block towards the nearest subway entrance. Once there, Simon felt they were far enough away from the ISIS building to approach the teen.

 

"Hey Max," Simon called.

 

Max instinctively clutched his suitcase and turned around. "...Simon?"

 

Before they could speak, a group of Zectoids suddenly materialized in the street with a burst of teleportation energy. The insect creatures, the grunts of the Shinzon, were covered with sleek-black exoskeletons and had compound eyes, just below stubby antenna.

 

The Zectoids immediately leapt towards Max.

 

"Hit 'em," Simon said.

 

Justin dashed forward with a tornado kick that bashed a grunt across the head, and he continued his spin to smash a crescent kick across the head of a second soldier.

 

Rachel dashed forward, slammed her elbow against a grunt's throat, and smashed a jump kick upside the Zectoid's head.

 

Simon rushed past his teammates towards Max and kicked three of the grunts away from the former Lightspeed Ranger. Simon spun forward with a reverse sidekick that smashed a Zectoid from the street, and the soldier crashed against a nearby building before slumping back to the ground.

 

The rangers regrouped after the last of the soldiers fell.

 

"Well..." Justin said. "That was lame."

 

***

 

Max led Simon, Justin, and Rachel into his lab. The room was cluttered with several desks, computer terminals, and piles of techno clutter. And a large flat-screen television was mounted on each wall.

 

Justin looked around at the piles of wiring and gutted equipment. "It looks like a Terminator threw up in here."

 

"That's not entirely untrue," Max said.

 

"Really?" Justin asked.

 

"No," Max said.

 

Rachel smiled. "I like him."

 

Max walked to a desk that had a large, green crystal on display within a glass case. The crystal was suspended with a trio of lasers.

 

"They were probably after this," Max said.

 

Simon shook his head. "The Shinzon are all about organics. They're not interested in tech."

 

Rachel nodded. "Even their ship is alive."

 

Max opened the case and pulled out the crystal. "The crystal isn't synthetic," Max said. "It's organic. It's the power source for a project I'm developing called the Parallel Engine."

 

"You might want to get it to safety," Simon said. "Keep it out of sight long enough for the Shinzon to lose interest."

 

Justin nodded. "It's like they're genetically modified with ADHD."

 

Max placed the crystal back in the glass storage unit. "I'll have the Silver Guardians transport it out of here and into the Vault." He looked back towards the rangers. "So if you being here has nothing to do with the crystal...what is it you want?"

 

"Well," Rachel said. "We're actually looking for your father."

 

Max's jaw tightened. "What makes you think I know where he is?"

 

"Do you?" Rachel asked.

 

Max's shoulders slumped. He nodded. "He's moved back to the Bay Area. Dr. Cranston's bringing Lightspeed Rescue back online. Not with a Ranger team, but something similar." He hesitated. "What do you need him for?"

 

"To talk," Simon said. "Has he ever mentioned Section 31?"

 

Max shook his head. "I thought he was dead for most of my life. He let me believe that." He looked off into the distance, then shook his head to snap out of it. "I don't know much about his life before then. He was in the military, and when he was home, he was always with his friend Matt Stewart and-"

 

"Who?" Justin asked.

 

"Some other military guy named Matthew Stewart," Max said. "Why?"

 

Simon and Rachel had never seen Justin look so serious. "That was my Dad's name."

 

***

 

His name was William "Billy" Cranston, but he was not the Billy of our world. Cranston, the Dark Shaper, came from an alternate reality called Demon World Earth, where the Rangers had been defeated and evil reigned supreme.

 

The Dark Shaper stood in his lair hidden within the mountains and looked at his creation, Kamen Rider Chalice. Well...it was somewhat his creation. "I'm not really sure what good you are if you can't handle five Rangers."

 

Chalice tilted his head but said nothing. The Shaper assumed that, if the Rider had eyes, they would be glaring.

 

"Just give me the card," the Shaper said.

 

Chalice slowly- a little too slowly- reached into his belt and pulled out the Ace of Spades. He adjusted the card in his hand and reached up, just past his waistline, while moving the card closer to the Shaper.

 

The Shaper impatiently snatched the card. "Insolent..." the rest of his words were mumbled incoherently as he looked down at the card. "So this is the Beetle Undead? I'm not sure why all this was necessary."

 

"Don't you remember what I told you when you contacted me?" a voice said from the shadows. "He had to fight to be sealed. There was no other way."

 

The real Billy Cranston stepped from the shadows and took the Ace of Spades. "Your assistance was appreciated."

 

The Dark Shaper smiled at his counterpart. "As was yours."

 

To be continued...Chapter Six