DECA Rangers: Chapter Three
Bundles of balloons decorated the ballroom and stretched to the high domed ceiling, where chandeliers cast light across the partygoers on the polished floor below. Everyone was dressed in tuxedos and dresses, even the servers, who carried trays of red wine and cheese.
Sky was among them, trying his best to blend in, but he hated under-cover assignments. He wasn't an actor. He preferred the hands-on approach.
The problem was SPD didn't know who exactly its target was. Sky's job was to find out which of the party guests was an extra terrestrial-- living as a human-- in possession of a powerful artifact that alien criminals in the city had recently started talking about.†
"Hey there," a voice said from behind Sky. He turned to see a woman in a tight dress that left little to the imagination, with a diamond-slit opening to show her belly and a low cut top to show much of her cleavage. "I don't think I've seen you at one of these before. My name's Claire."
Sky arced an eyebrow at the woman. "I'm Jonathan. And I'm not your type."
She moved closer to him and laced a hand across his arm. "You could be."
"Okay..." he pulled away. "You're not mine."
This was why he hated uncover work. It was the people.
Sky blended back into the crowd and waited a few moments before he moved towards the real party. A door in the rear of the room led to the wine cellar, and a secret compartment in the wine cellar led to a wooden staircase that wound down into the basement of the building.
The basement was lit by faint glow lamps, and the partygoers inside had stripped down from their formal wear. Young men wore white t-shirts beneath their unbuttoned dress shirts, and the women had let their hair down and torn off the excess frill and embroidery from their dresses.
Sky took off his jacket, tossed it into a corner, and unbuttoned his shirt.
One of the young women-- who looked around his age-- smiled and walked towards him. She had short, curly brown hair and dark eyes. "Hi...I'm Erin. Is this your first time?"
"Yeah," Sky said and smiled back. "They call me Jonathan here. My family and I just moved into the city."
"Hmm..." she looked at him thoughtfully. "You look too good to be wearing a holo disguise or genetic modification. Let me guess...Kerovian? Or Eltarian?"
"Kerovian," Sky said. Humans, Kerovians, and Eltarians were identical enough, so the lie was easy to pass.
"I'm Sulvani," she said. She reached out, took Sky's hand, and placed a small inhaler in his palm. "Enjoy...it's not much, but it helps take away the boredom of this rock."
"Thanks," Sky said. "Sounds like just what I need."
The inhaler was filled with a mist called Rapture, a heroine-type drug created by a group of offworlders for sale on Earth's ET black market.
Suddenly, the ground shook, and from above came screaming and shouting. The partygoers in the basement ran up the stairs to see what was wrong, and Sky ran with them.
They entered the main ballroom to a scene of chaos. Half the building had been literally torn off, opening up the ballroom to the night-lit streets.
Outside stood a giant robot modeled after a shark, with blue-tinted armor and pincer claws for hands. Sky cursed beneath his breath and flipped open his morpher.
"Sky to DECA Base," he said. "I've got a mega-scale threat."
The partygoers-- those who weren't frozen in fear-- scattered and fled as fast as possible. One of them, the girl who had introduced herself as Erin, stared in shock at the creature with eyes frozen open in fear.
The shark-like robo seemed to stare down at her. And suddenly, the robo's eyes pulsed with red light and enveloped Erin in a tractor beam that reeled her inside the robo.
Sky armed his morpher. "SPD! Emergency!" Energy shimmered around him as he morphed into his Blue Ranger form.
Sirens blared from further down the streets, and DECA Blue recognized the noise as the Delta Runners. The Blue Ranger ran down the block and leapt into his zord, Patrol Gyro, which hovered above.†
Below, DECA Red swerved his Patrol Striker across the streets and throttled towards the evil robo that SPD had designated Devil Capture. "I'm taking him down," DECA Red said over the comm line. "One hit to the legs should do it."
"Nat, wait," DECA Blue said. "Fall back. We have to assemble the Megazord."
"There's no time for that," the Red Ranger said. "You said this thing took a hostage..."
"Nat," DECA Green said. "You should listen to Sky; he's an elite-"
"Okay, I've stopped listening," DECA Red said.
"Nat, please," DECA Pink said.
The Red Ranger sighed. He tightened his grip on his controls, and he reluctantly consented. "All right, fine...let's do it. Delta Runners assemble! DECA fusion!"
Patrol Striker extended two arms and lined up with Patrol Armor and Patrol Signer, which regrouped beside the red-armored zord. The three zords continued to drive forward, and at the same time, the Patrol Striker arms latched onto Patrol Armor and Patrol Signer.
Patrol Gyro and Patrol Trailer maneuvered into formation and formed a pair of legs, and the other three zords linked up with the two. The fusion program completed, and the five zords formed a giant robo that stood tall on the streets.
"Gear up!" the Rangers shouted. "DECA Megazord!"
The Patrol Trailer leg opened a side panel and popped out the Signal Cannon, which the Megazord caught in its right hand.
Devil Capture swung a pincer claw at the robo, and DECA Megazord swung its blaster, parried the blow, and slammed a back-fist strike against the enemy machine.
"Locate its power source," DECA Blue said to his teammates. "Cut off the power, then rescue the hostage."
DECA Pink initiated a scan of the enemy robo. "I've got it...the energy generator is in its neck."
"Use the Judgment Sword to make an incision," DECA Blue commanded. "Then we'll blast the power source and pull out the hostage."
The Patrol Trailer leg flipped open and ejected the Judgment Sword, which the robo caught in its hands.
DECA Megazord parried a strike from the evil robo, stepped forward, and slashed across its neck with massive bursts of spark. The evil robo stumbled backward, and DECA Megazord aimed its Signal Cannon at the opening.
But before the Megazord could fire, Devil Capture teleported away with blurs of energy.
The rangers powered down their armor and gathered near the rubble and debris of the smashed ballroom. Sky flipped his morpher open and initiated a forensic scan of the area while keeping his eyes on the display.
Nat walked over to Sky. "So who messed up this time?" Nat asked. "That giant robot got away with the girl."
"I didn't mess up." Sky kept his eyes on his display. "I don't fail. Ever."
"You call this a success?" Nat asked.
"In a way, yes," Sky said. He flipped his morpher shut and looked to his team. "That girl he took, who called herself Erin, she's the one I was sent to ID."
"How can you be sure?" Nat asked.
"I'm never wrong, either," Sky said. "Come on."
Sky's forensic scan found a DNA reading from Erin, which the rangers used to track down her address. Her father and mother lived in a high-rise loft within the city, and they were both at home when the rangers arrived. The seemingly ordinary, middle-aged couple answered the door, and Sky took the lead.
"We're with SPD." Sky flipped open his badge. "We need to talk to you about your daughter..."
"Erin..." his father whispered as he placed an arm around his wife's shoulders. His wife was visibly shaken and afraid. He allowed the rangers inside and closed the door behind them. "What's happened to her?"
"She was taken," Sky said. "Do you have any idea why?"
Erin's father looked down and said nothing. He simply held onto his wife, who had started to cry as she wrapped her arms across her chest.
Syd tried to speak with a gentle voice. "Have any demands been made?"
"Not yet," the man said.
Suddenly, a computer on the man's desk flickered with static, and its monitor projected a holographic image of a monstrous villain standing next to cage that looked like a glass pyramid. Erin was inside the cage.
"We have your daughter," the villain in a deep, rumbling voice. "If you want to see her alive again, you will bring us the Wellness Stone. You have five hours. The father, alone, will come to the East Dome area to deliver the stone. If you try anything...anything...she will be gutted."
The image faded away, and Erin's mother screamed. "No!"
Syd used her badge to ID the alien criminal. "His name's Korq. He's a Groserian, wanted for murder on 13 worlds."
Sky stepped closer to the parents. "The Wellness Stone...what is it?"
The husband looked to his wife, and she nodded, as if she knew they had little choice but to trust SPD. They faced the rangers and started to wrinkle as their facial structures changed shape and color, and their hair retracted. Their new faces, their real faces, were yellow/green and completely covered with goose bumps. Their eyes were yellow with multiple black dots for pupils.
"We are Sulvani," the father said. "I am Alamy. My wife is called Mehnke. Our world was decimated by Sauron four of your years ago. As the chief scientist on our world, I was tasked with creating a weapon to ensure such an atrocity never again happened.
"Then, during what your people called the Second Countdown to Destruction, or the Mogralord War, the skies above our world twirled into pools of energy that unleashed hordes of demons. Their period of destruction was brief before they vanished. Brief...but enough. The damage to our world's atmosphere was beyond repair. I fled to this world, along with my family, and the Wellness Stone, the key to the weapon I was never able to finish."
"Your daughter," Sky said. "She didn't exactly keep the information about this Wellness Stone to herself. Every ET criminal on the planet's been talking about it."
"Our daughter...before she was kidnapped...she ran away. Weeks ago," Alamy said. "This world is so..." He hesitated to find the right words, almost like he was trying to avoid offense. "You must understand, on our homeworld, we modified our genetic structure as often as you people cut your hair. We were a people who were constantly evolving and experiencing our surroundings in new, exhilarating ways. Then we came here. Adopted human guises. This world is so...limited. It became too much for our daughter to handle."
"So she turned to Rapture," Sky said.
"Yes," her father said. "Maybe...maybe she had intended to use the stone as a bargaining chip of some sort, or for currency, or perhaps just to impress others. She would never do any harm, though, I am sure of it."
"Where's this Wellness Stone at now?" Nat asked.
"Safely in my possession," Alamy said.†
Alamy walked further into the loft to a small study area and ran his hand along a globe on his desk. He turned the globe and clicked it into a position that triggered a panel to open on a nearby wall. Inside the panel was a safe, which Alamy slowly opened, and inside was the Wellness Stone.
The octagon-shaped stone was an orange-tinted crystal with an alien marking at its center.
"This," Alamy said, "is the stone. It is small...but capable of amplifying energy waves. Its power could be used to destroy an entire planet."
Erin's parents turned the stone over to the rangers, and they regrouped at DECA Base.
In the base's briefing room, Kruger paced around the table where the rangers sat. In the center of the table was the Wellness Stone, suspended in a small glass container.
"Korq is likely planning to sell the Wellness Stone to the highest bidder," Kruger said. "The Vingian and Sedementarians both have expressed interest in the Wellness Stone as a way for them to reclaim the Rigel Expanse as their own. The Machine Remnant see the stone as a way to rebuild their empire. And the Kilrathi and Kyrana both have learned of the stone as well."
Bridge slowly raised his hand. "Um, am I the only one here who has no idea who any of those people are?"
"Bad guys," Nat said.
"Ah, thanks," Bridge said.
Nat leaned back in his chair and looked at the stone. "Our first priority has to be Erin."
"No," Sky said. "If we give up the Wellness Stone, think of all the planets that will fall victim."
Nat narrowed his eyes. "So we just let Erin die?"
"Did I say that?" Sky said. "We can save Erin and protect the stone."
Kruger looked to the ranger. "You seem to have a plan, Sky."
Sky smiled arrogantly and nodded.
The Silver Guardians had evacuated the East Dome area and surrounding blocks so Alamy and Korq could make the exchange. Alamy and Korq walked towards each other from opposite ends of the wide, open plaza area, and Alamy carried a suitcase clutched tightly in his hands. The villain's mecha, Devil Capture, loomed above.
The two aliens stopped when they were within shouting distance of each other.
"The stone!" Korq yelled. "Show me the stone!"
"Show me my daughter first!" Alamy shouted.
Korq pulled a small device from his belt and pushed down on a switch, which activated a teleportation burst behind him, where Erin materialized in her glass-pyramid cage.
The villain didn't noticed Nat and Sky lying on an overhang that looked down upon the plaza area. Sky flipped open his badge and used its sensors to zoom in on Erin's cage and start a scan.
Nat looked to Sky's morpher. "Is it really here?"
"Don't talk to me," Sky said without taking his eyes from the scan.
Below, Alamy opened his metallic suitcase and tilted it downward to show Korq the Wellness Stone. Korq pulled his own miniature sensor from behind his back and used the device to scan the stone.
Sky zoomed in his scan, and his readout flashed briefly with static before zooming in on Erin inside her cage.
Nat had noticed the flash of static. "What was that."
"Just a glitch," Sky said. He looked over the readout of her bio readings. "That's her."
"Are you sure?" Nat asked. "The-"
"I'm sure." Sky flipped a switch on his morpher to activate his transformation sequence, and energy shimmered around him as he morphed into his Ranger form. "Get ready."
Nat shrugged and pulled out his morpher. "Whatever you say, partner."
"Don't call me 'partner,' " DECA Blue said, as if not noticing the mocking tone Nat always used when saying the word, or not caring.
Nat flipped a switch on his badge and morphed into DECA Red
The two Rangers stayed down low as they watched and waited. The Blue Ranger combined his D-Knuckle and D-Baton into the D-Blaster and aimed the weapon downward.
Below, Korq extended his hand palm up towards Alamy. "The stone..."
Alamy shook his head. "Release my daughter first."
"No, the stone first." Korq pulled a small disc from behind his back. "This is the key to opening her cell. You give me the stone. I give you the key. Everybody happy. Try anything...and my Devil capture steps on her. Squashes her flat."
Alamy reluctantly clutched onto the suitcase and walked towards Korq.
Above, DECA Blue watched and waited while keeping his finger on the trigger of his D-Blaster. He knew his timing would have to be perfect. He waited until Alamy lifted the case towards Korq. And just as the villain was about to grab the case, the Blue Ranger opened fire.
Lances of blue energy blasted against the top of Erin's cage with bursts of spark, which snapped the glass panels open and dropped Erin onto the ground.
"What?!" Korq turned to see Erin free and dashed towards her, but before he could reach her, a Silver Guardian SUV burst from a nearby wall, scattering debris and chunks and concrete.
The SUV zoomed out onto the plaza and smashed against Korg to knock the villain backward. DECA Green was behind the wheel, and DECA Yellow was in the passenger seat.
"Get in!" DECA Yellow shouted to Erin as the rear doors to the SUV flipped open.†
Erin wasted no time scrambling to her feet and practically diving into the SUV, and once she was in, the SUV sped off.
"Gah!" Korq screamed as he watched the SUV speed away. He turned back towards Alamy. "The stone...now!"
A smug grin crossed Alamy's face. "Not going to happen." Alamy pulled a small cylinder from his belt and pressed down on its red switch, and light shimmered around him as his holographic disguise dropped. To reveal Syd. "You're new at this, aren't you?"
"What?" Korq shouted. The villain snarled with rage and charged towards the ranger.
From above, DECA Red and DECA Blue leapt through the air and opened fire. The Blue Ranger's D-Blaster sprayed lances of blue energy, and the Red Ranger's D-Magnums shot armor-piercing, explosive rounds, which sparked against the monster and sent him stumbling backward.
The Blue Ranger and Red Ranger landed on either side of Syd.
"Good job," DECA Blue said.
"It was perfect." She handed the suitcase over to DECA Blue and pulled out her morpher. "SPD! Emergency!" Energy shimmered around her as she morphed into her Pink Ranger form.
"Distract him," the Blue Ranger said to his two teammates. "I'll get the case clear."
DECA Blue ran to the streets where the Silver Guardian SUV waited, and the Red Ranger and Pink Ranger charged towards Korq.
DECA Pink smashed a spin kick across the villain's head, and Korq stumbled back, just as the Red Ranger smashed a roundkick against the criminal's side. The villain struggled to keep his balance as DECA Red and DECA Pink stood side by side and spun forward with reverse sidekicks that knocked Korq off his feet and sent him tumbling across the ground.
Korq slowly pulled himself to his feet, and by the time he looked up, the five Rangers had gathered together and regrouped.
"D'ast Rangers," he cursed.
"Actually, it's DECA," the Green Ranger said. "I'm not quite sure what it stands for, or why it's always in caps, but-"
Korq reached behind his back and hurled a handful of sphere-shaped grenades that scattered across the concrete and materialized into a small group of Krybot automated soldiers.
The grunts immediately charged towards the Ranger team to attack.
DECA Blue spun through a group of Krybots, armed his D-Knuckle over his fist, and smashed a back-fist strike across a grunt's head. He punched another soldier against the chest with a burst of spark and snapped a roundkick to knock the grunt aside.
Nearby, DECA Green back flipped away from three grunts to gain some ground, and when he landed, a group of three Krybots pounced towards him. The Green Ranger launched a trio of spinning tornado kicks that knocked the grunts back.
Meanwhile DECA Yellow had armed her D-Baton. She twirled the weapon to parry the punches of two soldiers, and she twirled the weapon again to slash through their bodies with bursts of spark that whipped them backward.
DECA Pink was nearby with her D-Baton, and she chopped the weapon against the back of a grunt's neck with a burst of spark to knock the Krybot to the ground.†
Meanwhile DECA Red armed his two D-Magnums and eyed the soldiers that surrounded him. He swung the blasters-- firing left and right, forward and back-- and sprayed bullets that tore through the grunts with bursts of spark.†
The last of the soldiers scattered like scrap metal, and the five Rangers regrouped to face Korq.
"Bah," the villain grunted and pulled a remote from behind his back. "I'll just use my Devil Capture!"
The evil robo stomped towards the Rangers and nearly shook them off their feet. The DECA Rangers rolled for cover, and DECA Red snapped open his badge. "Patrol Striker, Patrol Trailer, launch!"
Patrol Striker sped down the streets, and DECA Red leapt into his cockpit. He opened a comm line. "Bridge, I need your arsenal."
DECA Green spotted his zord and leapt into Patrol Trailer. "Judgment Sword!"
Patrol Striker sped towards the giant robo and knocked into its legs, sending the mecha stumbling backward as the Judgment Sword ejected from Patrol Trailer. The red-armored zord sped around, skid across the pavement, and extended a grappling arm that latched onto the sword and connected it to the side of the vehicle.
Patrol Striker sped back towards the robo and turned hard, tilting onto two wheels while raising the sword into the air. The sword curved and slashed across the robo with massive bursts of spark, and the mecha crashed backward, its energy generators overloading and exploding with a massive shockwave.
DECA Red and DECA Green leapt from their cockpits and landed on the ground below while regrouping with their teammates.
Korq snarled at the Rangers. "Do you have any idea what you just did?! That mecha was worth more than this country!"
"Well," DECA Green said. "Considering the national debt-"
"Not now," DECA Red said.
The Red Ranger led the charge against the monster, and the Green Ranger followed.
DECA Red and DECA Green spun past the monster while bashing their weapons against the criminal's body. The blows weren't particularly powerful, but they distracted the villain from seeing DECA Pink and DECA Yellow leap through the air and slash their D-Batons across his body with bursts of spark. DECA Blue moved in, slashed his D-Baton against the monster, and smashed a powerful sidekick against the criminal to knock him backward.
Korq hit the ground hard, and the Rangers regrouped.
Ranger Blue thrust his badge forward. "Korq," he said. "You're accused of murder on 13 worlds and kidnapping." He flipped open his badge. "Judgment!"
The badge lights flashed back and forth between a red-colored "X" and a blue-colored "O". Once the badge stopped flashing, it showed a glowing red "X".
"Guilty," DECA Blue said.†
Ranger Blue, Ranger Green, Ranger Yellow, and Ranger Pink combined their D-Knuckles and D-Batons to form the D-Blasters, and Ranger Red combined his two blasters into a single weapon.
"Fire!" DECA Blue shouted.
Ranger Red triggered a twirling burst of crimson energy, and the other four Rangers fired lances of energy. The combined blasts punctured through the villain with a massive explosion that consumed his armor and his body.
The Rangers lowered their weapons as the villain's remains blew away into wisps of smoke.†
The rangers powered down their armor and ran back towards the Silver Guardian SUV to find Erin gone. They split up to search for her, but they didn't have to go far to find her in the midst of the debris left behind by Devil Capture.
The girl was crouched down with the Wellness Stone suitcase while fiddling with a small transceiver, apparently out of boredom.
"Erin!" Sky shouted as they ran towards her.
"You scared us," Syd said. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." Erin rose to her feet with the Wellness Stone case in one hand and the transceiver in the other. "Thank goodness this is in tact...otherwise I wouldn't be able to return to my world."
Nat narrowed his eyes. "What?"
"Did you really think Korq would be working alone? That mindless brute?" Lines of light shimmered around Erin, and when the lights dimmed away, she was Erin no longer.†
The villain-- who had posed as Erin-- had a chameleon-like face with red eyes. His name was Kevaka, a Rikomoian.
"Where's the real Erin!" Nat shouted.
"She's in my world, ranger," Kevaka said in a high-pitched, maddening voice.
Kevaka held the transceiver above his head, and the device emitted a wave of cybernetic energy that washed over him, broke his body down into particles of energy, and sucked him and the Wellness Stone inside.
The transceiver dropped to the concrete.
Sky looked down at where the transceiver fell. "It can't be..."
He knew how it had happened. The glitch in his morpher's scan. Somehow the villain had interfered with the scan to make him believe Erin really was inside the cage.
"So much for never failing," Nat said. "Huh, partner."
To be continued...Chapter 04