Ultimate Origins: Chapter Six

Dark Shaper: BOARD

 

Simon, Justin, Rachel, and Blake walked to the docks and looked out upon the ocean, where the Bay Area of Lightspeed Rescue was submerged. Their search for Chalice had turned up nothing, so Simon decided to continue his pursuit for information about Section 31, which somehow had a connection to his birth father. Blake had surprised them all by offering to come with, although obviously, he did so to be close to Rachel.

 

"So..." Justin said. "How are we getting down there?"

 

"We could always swim," Blake said. "Who knows how long it would take to reach the bottom, but I say it doesn't matter: oxygen is overrated."

 

Rachel smiled and rolled her eyes. "Thanks for that wonderful, useful idea."

 

"It's important to contribute," Blake said.

 

Before they could come up with a plan, they heard screams come from deeper within the dock's industrial area. The rangers turned to see workers running for their lives.

 

Justin shook his head as he and the rangers ran towards the disturbance. "It's a wonder anyone works here. Ever."

 

"It's not that bad," Blake said as they passed between two warehouse buildings and ran against the flow of the fleeing workers. "Want to place bets on which big bad is attacking this time?"

 

"I say Shinzon," Justin said. "Or maybe Vexacus. Whatever happened to Vexacus?"

 

New Bitmap ImageThey moved to a construction site where heavy bulldozers and cranes were renovating a group of three warehouse buildings. Piles of pipes and stacks of crates were scattered across the area, and in the midst of it all were three monsters.

 

The monsters were Undead, creatures of the Mogralord killed during the second Countdown to Destruction but resurrected by the INET company for an unknown purpose.

 

Boar Undead's body of red fur was covered with black leather armor that was dotted with metal studs. His black mask had two large tusks, and claws extended from his left forearm and his shoulders.

 

Similar black armor covered the red exoskeleton of the Centipede Undead, whose red mandibles extended from his black, bug-like mask.

 

And Lion Undead had tan fur covered with black armor, a three-bladed fist weapon carried in his right hand, and a black mask with blood-red eyes.

 

The creatures were mauling workers who didn't run fast enough to escape.

 

Simon's face became pale as he recognized the creatures. "How...how is that possible..."

 

Blake armed his morpher and looked to Simon. "How's what possible?"

 

"Never mind," Simon said as he armed his morpher. "Let's do it."

 

"Gorai..."

 

"Senpu..."

 

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

 

The Rangers split up-- Hurricane Yellow charged towards Boar Undead, Navy Thunder and Hurricane Blue dashed towards Centipede Undead, and Hurricane Red closed in on Lion Undead.

 

Hurricane Red slashed his blade towards Lion Undead, but the monster used its fist blade to parry the blow and slash towards the Ranger's midsection. The Red Ranger stepped back to dodge the blow and smash a roundkick against the monster's side. The Red Ranger followed with a powerful upward slash that sparked across the creature's body.

 

He was relentless with his attacks and ignored the lion's slashes, some of which sparked across his armor. The Lion Undead had killed Tatsuya, who was Time Red during the second Countdown to Destruction. Tatsuya, who had traveled back to the 1980s and dealt with the Egos crisis that somehow had something to do with Simon's father.

 

"Why didn't you freaks stay dead!" Hurricane Red snapped a jumpkick upside the monster's head and slashed the creature across the chest with a burst of spark. With each blow he was reminded of all the Rangers and heroes who had died because of the Mogralord and his minions. The Red Ranger had fought alongside Earth's champions, and the memory of those that had died still haunted him.

 

Nearby, Hurricane Yellow snapped a tornado kick that bashed across Boar Undead's head. But the monster barely seemed to feel the blow. The creature leaned down, tackled against the Yellow Ranger while charging forward, and bashed him against a pile of thick concrete pipes that blasted into rubble from the impact.

 

Meanwhile Centipede Undead spat venom that Navy Thunder and Hurricane Blue dove aside to dodge.

 

The Blue Ranger rolled into a crouched fighting stance and snapped a volley of H-shaped throwing stars that slashed across the monster with bursts of spark while Navy Thunder moved in to attack. The Navy Thunder Ranger unsheathed his staff and spun past the monster while slashing across its chest.

 

Crimson Thunder hadn't been too far away when the Rangers were attacked, because he had kept his job at the docks even though Blake quit to start school in the fall. So he was able to quickly morph and join the fight.

 

The Crimson Thunder Ranger landed near Lion Undead, unsheathed his staff, and charged forward with a powerful upward swing that sparked across the monster's body.

 

"Shadow Style! Thunder Strike Jutsu!" He poured his shadow energy into the staff, which crackled with bolts of electricity, and chopped the blade down diagonally and back up with a backhand swing.

 

The strikes sparked against the monster and knocked him off his feet, and secondary explosions sparked beneath the creatures black armor.

 

The Rangers and monsters were too caught up in their battle to notice two motorcycles throttle onto the scene. One of the thin motorcycles was colored blue and white, and the second was armored with plates of white and rust-red colored steel. The cycles skid to a halt, and the riders stepped off while removing their helmets.

 

The rider of the blue motorcycle appeared to be in his teens, with long blonde hair and soft features. And the rider of the other cycle appeared to be in his early twenties, with dark hair, olive-colored eyes, and a piercing in his left ear. They were Ken and Benjamin, from the organization called BOARD.

 

Benjamin stood firm and pulled a buckler from beneath his jacket. "Rangers, this isn't your fight."

 

"Huh?" Hurricane Yellow turned to look at the newcomers- and he got a slash across the chest from Boar Undead as a result.

 

Ken pulled his own buckler from behind his back, and he pulled out a card: the Ace of Spades labeled with the Beetle Undead.

 

Ken slid the Ace of Spades into his buckler and placed the device against his waist, and once there, the buckler ejected a belt that wrapped around his body.

 

A humming noise pulsed from the buckler, and the pulsing started humming faster and faster as Ken lifted his left arm across his body into a fighting pose.

 

"Transform!" He brought his hand down and flipped a switch on his buckler, which flipped the card and projected a two-dimensional card-shaped wall of blue light with the symbol of his Ace of Spades: a beetle with a spade in its center.

 

Ken ran through the card symbol, which wrapped around his body and formed his armor, a blue bodysuit covered with a silver chest piece. The chest piece had the spade symbol, and his silver faceplate-- with red, bug-like eyes-- was modeled after the spade as well.

 

In his armor, with the power of the Beetle Undead fused with his body, he was Kamen Rider Blade.

 

Blade unsheathed his sword and stepped back into a fighting stance.

 

His partner, Benjamin, slid the Ace of Diamonds into his buckler and placed the device against his waist, and the buckler ejected a belt that wrapped around his body.

 

A humming noise pulsed from the buckler, and the pulsing started humming faster and faster as Benjamin lifted his left arm across his body into a fighting pose. He tightened his hand into a fist.

 

"Transform!" He brought his hand down and flipped a switch on his buckler, which flipped the card and projected a card-shaped wall of blue light with the symbol of his Ace of Diamonds: a stag beetle with a diamond in its center.

 

Benjamin ran through the card symbol, which wrapped around his body and formed his armor, a rusty-red bodysuit covered with a silver chest piece. The chest piece had the diamond symbol, and his silver faceplate-- with green, bug-like eyes-- was modeled after the diamond as well.

 

In his armor, with the power of the Stag Undead fused with his body, he was Kamen Rider Garren.

 

Garren armed a blaster weapon with a diamond-shaped barrel and stood next to his partner.

 

***

 

Days ago...

 

Ken adjusted his backpack over his shoulder and walked into the wide hanger deck in the rear of the ISIS Prevention and Recovery Initiative headquarters. The hanger deck was cluttered with massive machines that were under construction, and countless workers stood on ladders stretching several stories high to build the machines.

 

"Hey you!" someone shouted from above. Ken looked up to see a middle-aged man in a jumpsuit staring downward. "Yeah, you! What the hell you doing, kid, you got a death wish? Get out of here before something falls and smashes that pretty blonde head of yours."

 

Ken arced an eyebrow at the man. "Pretty? Really?"

 

"Don't get smart," the man said. "Now get out of here before I call security, you little punk. In fact, I may do that anyway, you-"

 

"Relax, Mack," a voice said from the deck. Ken looked to see a young man in his early 20s walk out from around a portable staircase. "He's a new recruit."

 

"He looks like a girl," Mack said. "In my day, men were men. None of this metro bullshit."

 

The young man rolled his eyes and walked closer to Ken. "You'll have to excuse him. He's...cranky."

 

"I noticed," Ken said.

 

The young man extended his hand. "I'm Benjamin. I'll be your partner, Garren. I'm assuming you're Blade?"

 

Ken nodded. "Yeah. The name's Ken."

 

"Nice to meet you," Benjamin said. "Come on...I'll take you to Dr. Cranston. He prefers to meet all the new recruits these days."

 

***

 

Dr. William "Billy" Cranston stood on one of the highest floors of the headquarters and stared out a wide window that extended from the wall to the ceiling. His back was to the elevator when the doors opened, and Ken and Benjamin stepped out.

 

"Sir," Benjamin said. "Blade just arrived."

 

"Good," Cranston said without turning from the window. "Leave us for now."

 

Benjamin nodded and stepped back into the elevator. Cranston waited until the doors closed before speaking. "Why are you here, Ken?"

 

"I, uh..." Ken started to say as he shifted his backpack-- a nervous habit. "I signed up for BOARD, with the Prevention and Recovery Initiative."

 

"Yes..." Cranston said. He kept his back to the teen. "But why?"

 

"I...I just want to help people," Ken said.

 

"I read your file," Cranston said. "It's more than that, isn't it..."

 

"Well...yea," Ken said. "When I was little, my parents, foster parents actually...I watched them...die in a fire. I couldn't do anything about it."

 

"You felt powerless," Cranston said.

 

Ken nodded. "Yea."

 

Cranston turned to face Ken for the first time, and the young man's eyes looked hardened and sleepless."I know what that feels like, Ken," Cranston said. "You may know, I was a Power Ranger. But before that, I watched my mother die of cancer. And after...I've lost others too. That's why I transformed INET into something more than just a corporation. What I used INET to create, the ISIS initiatives, are all important work."

 

Ken nodded. "I understand."

 

"You don't," Cranston said. "But I don't expect you too." He turned back to look out the window. "There's a group of creatures on the loose called the Undead. It's the responsibility of BOARD to study these creatures and harness their powers. I've made arrangements to have the Beetle Undead sealed and delivered to me. Once in my possession, you will use the card to become a Kamen Rider: Blade. You and Kamen Rider Garren will be responsible for rounding up the rest of the Undead that roam free. Their powers will enhance your own."

 

Ken nodded. "Yes sir."

 

"Good," Cranston said. "I just need to know that I can count on you...because after the Undead are all sealed, your work will just be beginning."

 

"How so?" Ken asked.

 

"We can only save so many people with these pointless squabbles with monsters and villains," Cranston said. "I have something greater in mind."

 

***

 

Cranston waited until Ken returned to the hanger deck before walking back to a private office on the top floor of the pyramid-shaped building. He sat behind a black-polished desk, pushed a button to tint the windows and block the sunlight, and activated a small holographic monitor in the center of the desk.

 

The monitor showed a twisted version of his own image-- the Billy Cranston from Demon World Earth. The Dark Shaper.

 

"Have you considered my proposal?" the Dark Shaper asked with a cold smile of twisted amusement.

 

"I have," he said. "I'll allow you to break into DECA Base, where the rouse cards are stored. There, you'll find the Ace of Hearts. It's yours...provided you use it to bring me the Beetle Undead. Sealed."

 

"Of course." The Dark Shaper's twisted grin became wider.

 

Billy despised the thought of working with his evil counterpart, but the only Rider he had at his disposal was Garren, and Garren was not powerful enough to seal the Beetle Undead. And no human could control the power of the Undead sealed in the Ace of Hearts.

 

"Your attack will be blamed for the release of the Undead, which my Riders will round up and seal," Billy said.

 

"You mean our Riders," the Dark Shaper said.

 

Billy leaned forward and switched off the holographic projector.

 

***

 

The present...

 

Kamen Rider Blade lunged forward and swung his sword through a series of quick precision strikes that slashed across Lion Undead with bursts of spark.

 

Lion Undead slashed its claws towards the Rider, but Blade parried the blow and smashed a roundkick against the creature's side. The blow knocked the Undead a few steps back, and Blade pressed forward with a series of diagonal swings that ripped across the monster's body.

 

Lion Undead crashed against the ground and rolled across the concrete, and the Rider stepped back into a defensive stance.

 

Blade flipped open a fan of cards on his sword hilt and pulled two cards from the deck: the Five of Spades, labeled with a locust, and the Six of Spades, labeled with a deer. He slid the cards one by one through a slot on his sword, and with each swipe, the sword spoke a command: "KICK; THUNDER."

 

The Rider crouched down and held his weapon in front of him as two cards of energy projected from the hilt of his sword and splashed across his armor.

 

"Ha!" Blade leapt into the air, somersaulted forward, and aimed a flying sidekick that crackled with lightning.

 

The kick bashed against Lion Undead with a thundering boom that knocked the monster off his feet and sent him rolling across the ground. Body smoking from the wound, the monster thrashed with pain.

 

Kamen Rider Blade pulled a blank card from his sword hilt 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 Blade's hand.

 

The card was labeled with the Three of Spades and the symbol of the lion, with the word "BEAT" across its side.

 

Blade turned his attention to Centipede Undead, which was being attacked by Navy Thunder and Hurricane Blue.

 

Nearby, Garren aimed his weapon at Boar Undead-- which still fought with Hurricane Yellow-- and opened fire. His blasts sparked across the monster and took the creature off guard, and Boar Undead immediately turned to face the Rider, growled with annoyance, and charged forward to attack.

 

Kamen Rider Garren leapt forward and kicked off of the creature's shoulders, and while flipping through midair, he twisted around and opened fire on the monster. His blaster sparked with discharges that tore into the Undead's body.

 

Garren landed, flipped open a fan of cards on his blaster, and pulled two cards from the deck: the Five of Diamonds, labeled with a whale, and the Six of Diamonds, labeled with a firefly. He slid the cards one by one through a slot on his blaster, and with each swipe, the gun spoke a command: "DROP; FIRE."

 

The Rider crouched down and held his weapon in front of him as two cards of energy projected from the blaster and splashed across his armor.

 

Garren sprang through the air, somersaulted forward, and extended both legs as his feet radiated with fiery energy. He smashed a dropkick against Boar Undead that knocked the monster back with a thundering boom, powerful enough to crack the creature's black armor.

 

The monster crashed back-first onto the ground, and Garren landed on his feet nearby.

 

Kamen Rider Garren pulled a blank card from his blaster and hurled it at the monster. The card spun and stuck into the monster like a blade. The card started glowing, and the monster was broken down into energy and sucked inside. The card pulsed with light and quickly shot back into Garren's hand.

 

The card was labeled with the Four of Spades and the symbol of the boar, with the word "TACKLE" across its side.

 

"Ken!" Garren shouted as he snapped the card towards Blade.

 

The card spun through the air; Kamen Rider Blade caught the card and immediately swiped its edge through the slit on his sword: "TACKLE."

 

His weapon projected a card of blue-tinted energy that splashed across his chest, and Blade charged forward with a powerful tackle that smashed against Centipede Undead and forced him through a pile of nearby crates that splintered to pieces from the impact.

 

Blade skid to a halt, and the Centipede Undead staggered on its feet while trying to regain its balance. But the Rider didn't intend to give the monster a chance.

 

Kamen Rider Blade flipped open the fan on his sword that held his card deck, pulled out the Three of Spades, and swiped it through his sword slit: "BEAT."

 

A card of energy projected from his sword and splashed across his armor, and he lunged forward, slamming an energized punch against the Centipede Undead. The punch cracked its armor and sent the creature falling to the ground.

 

Blade pulled out a blank card and tossed it at the fallen creature. The card stuck into the fallen monster's body, absorbed the creature, and spun back towards Blade.

 

But before he could catch the card, explosions sparked against his armor and knocked him backward. Kamen Rider Blade crashed against the ground and rolled across the concrete, and when he rolled to a stop and looked up, he saw Kamen Rider Chalice somersault through the air and catch the Centipede Undead card, which was labeled with Ten of Hearts and the word SHUFFLE.

 

The Rangers regrouped nearby and looked up to see Chalice land on a tall stack of massive concrete piping.

 

"Man, not him again," Hurricane Yellow said.

 

Chalice looked down at the Rangers, and his gaze drifted to the two other Kamen Riders. Apparently the villain didn't feel like fighting seven opponents. He fired his weapon downward through the pipes, which exploded into clouds of rubble and debris, and he used the cloud to cover his escape.

 

Navy Thunder tightened his fists. "I want to know who the hell he is."

 

"Me too," Hurricane Red said. He looked over his shoulder towards the two Kamen Riders. "I don't suppose you guys could shed-"

 

Garren aimed and fired rapid-volley bursts that sparked across the Rangers' armor.

 

"Hey!" Blade shouted and pushed his partner's gun down. "What are you doing? Those are the Power Rangers!"

 

"I know who they are." Garren knocked Blade's arm aside. "They're lucky no one was killed. And if we don't stop them, someone will be. Again."

 

"Again?" Blade asked. "What are you talking-"

 

Garren aimed and fired another volley of bursts, and the Rangers dove aside to avoid the shower of sparks that blasted around them.

 

"Red," Hurricane Yellow said as he rolled into a crouched fighting stance and unsheathed his sword. "Why are crazy people always shooting at us?"

 

Navy Thunder gripped his staff. "It's because we're so charming."

 

"Quiet!" Garren shouted and fired another volley of blasts that the Rangers used their weapons to deflect. "You think this is funny?!"

 

Blade took a step back away from his partner and shook his head. "What are you doing? This isn't why we're here..."

 

Navy Thunder used his staff to deflect the blasts that sparked against his weapon. "You know...it's hard to take you seriously with those big-green-bug eyes."

 

Crimson Thunder hurled a bolt of crimson-tinted shadow energy that shot through the air and sparked against Garren's arm, knocking the weapon from his hand. The Crimson Thunder Ranger leapt forward, somersaulted through the air. and chopped his staff towards Garren's head.

 

But Blade stepped in, used his sword to block the blow, and sidekicked the Ranger from the air. "Stop this!" he shouted. "We're supposed to be on the same side!"

 

Navy Thunder ran to his brother's side, and the two Thunder Rangers shifted their staffs into attack stances to charge forward, but Hurricane Red ran to stop them.

 

"Wait!" The Red Ranger stood in between Garren and the Thunder Rangers, and Blade stepped in between Hurricane Red and Garren. "We're not doing this. We're just not."

 

Blade looked over his shoulder to Hurricane Red. "You guys better split."

 

"Let's go," Hurricane Red said.

 

The Rangers regrouped and streaked away.

 

***

 

Tommy paced back and forth across the floor of Ops while Ashley sat at her computer. "This is getting ridiculous. Not only are the Undead loose, now Billy's made two new Kamen Riders. We can't keep doing this. We need to do something."

 

"Like what?" Ashley asked.

 

"I don't know," Tommy said. "But I do know, at least I believe, that one day we're going to have to go up against Billy. And he has two Ranger teams and two Kamen Riders now. We have five Rangers...two of which want me dead."

 

"Hunter and Blake are part of the team now," Ashley said.

 

"They still hate me," Tommy said.

 

"But they know the work that they're doing is important," Ashley said. "And they want to make up for what they've done in the past."

 

Tommy nodded. "Anyway...I guess the point is, when Billy does decide to come after us, he'll have us completely unmatched. As we stand now, I don't know if we'll be able to stop him.

 

***

 

Again, Simon and the rangers gathered at the shore, only this time Hunter had joined them too.

 

"We could swim down," Hunter said.

 

"I already said that," Blake said. "Apparently, it wasn't funny."

 

"I'm not joking," Hunter said. "We can dive down while morphed. "Our armor will protect us and let us breathe."

 

Simon kicked himself for not thinking of that. After all, the Astro Rangers had been able to travel through the vacuum of space in their Ranger armor. "Let's do it."

 

***

 

Ken and Benjamin didn't say a word to each other the entire way back to headquarters. They parked their motorcycles in a small garage attached to the side of the ISIS Prevention and Recovery Initiative headquarters and pulled off their helmets.

 

"You want to tell me what that was about?" Ken asked. "I've never seen you act like that before."

 

"Well, you've only known me for a few days, haven't you," Benjamin said harsher than he meant to. He sighed and shook his head. "Look, I lost my temper, OK? It's nothing to worry about."

 

"But why?" Ken asked. "I've always looked up to the Rangers, ever since I was a kid. I know they take a lot of heat, but-"

 

"It's not that simple," Benjamin said. "They're reckless. If they hadn't..." He stopped and shook his head again. "Just drop it, OK? I like you. I don't wanna have to fight with you. Besides, you just sealed your first Undead. This calls for a drink."

 

"I'm, uh..not exactly 21 yet," Ken said.

 

"Please," Benjamin said. "In our business, drinking's the only way to stay sane."

 

***

 

Capt. Mitchell walked into his office and closed the door. His shoulders immediately slumped, and he sighed as he walked to his desk. He moved slow. He was tired.

 

The rangers waited until Mitchell was seated before stepping out of the shadows.

 

"Capt. Mitchell," Simon said.

 

Mitchell pulled a gun from his desk and started to aim, but Hunter snapped a throwing star that knocked the gun away.

 

"We just want to talk," Simon said. "We have questions about Section 31."

 

Mitchell's gaze drifted to Justin. "You're Matt's boy."

 

"That's right," Justin said. "I heard you two were pals."

 

"Still are," Mitchell said. "Your father is still alive. If you have questions about Section 31, go ask him."

 

To be continued...Chapter 07