Ultimate Gene-Tech: Chapter Four prologue

 

Angel Grove, days after the Sabbath

 

His name was Dr. William “Billy” Cranston, but he was not the Billy of our world. He came from Demon World Earth, an alternate reality where evil ruled. And Cranston, the Dark Shaper, served on the side of that evil.

 

He sat in his cave lair and stared at a blank computer screen.

 

He felt…bored. Not defeated. No, he would never be defeated. He simply felt bored. None of his plans had come to fruition. He needed to redefine his purpose.

 

The Dark Shaper still had hopes for the Undead. He’d lost control of the Spider Undead, and Kamen Rider Leangle as a result. But he had other tendrils of influence extended through the Undead, as well as BOARD, the organization that re-created the monsters.

 

Still, he needed more than the Undead. He needed more power. More resources.

 

He needed a way back to Demon World Earth. More accurately, he needed a way to bring Demon World Earth to him.

 

The Dark Shaper thought of his counterpart and activated a computer monitor. He kept close watch of the real Billy Cranston. He knew his counterpart was working on a project that involved cross-dimensional energy utilization.

 

The villain pulled up an image of a scientific research center called Academia.

 

He smiled. “This should give me something to occupy my time...”

 

Chapter Four: Ultimate Gene-Tech

Academia

 

Dax hated school. Most kids did, but at least they went to typical high schools, where all they had to worry about were history tests, popularity and girls. Dax attended Academia: a research school for gifted students.

 

The 16-year-old thought of his classmates as evil scientists in training.

 

They all worked on bizarre projects for an organization called INET, founded by a guy named Dr. William “Billy” Cranston. Rumors said he used to be a Power Ranger. Now he just made Rangers. And Riders. And Rescue Heroes too, apparently. Whatever.

 

Dax didn’t take an interest in any of it, really. He went to the school because his parents made him, after he made the mistake of scoring off the charts on some IQ test.

 

Worst. Mistake. Ever. He’d kill to have homework he could breeze through during study halls so he could stay up all night watching “Simpsons” reruns.

 

The teen sighed and scrolled aimlessly across his web browser. He sat in a computer lab broken into smaller clusters of desks. Two other teens sat at his cluster: a guy named Ian and some hot chick named Kylie. He liked Kylie. Until she started talking.

 

Kylie opened her eyes wide at her computer screen. “Look at this…”

 

“I know,” Dax said. “So much porn.”

 

Kylie rolled her eyes. “Don’t be an idiot, Dax.”

 

“I wouldn’t be stuck in this asinine hellhole if I was an idiot,” he said.

 

“Lighten up,” Ian said. “Most kids would kill to be here.”

 

“Good, they can start with me,” Dax said.

 

“That’s not funny,” Kylie said. “Now seriously, look what I found.”

 

Dax reluctantly pulled up Kylie’s research on his monitor. Their class project involved the review of a Ranger program Dr. Cranston dubbed the Gene-Tech Task Force. Cranston had abandoned the project. And yet he somehow felt the project worth studying, which didn’t make any sense, but nothing in Academia did.

 

“There’s nothing new here,” Dax said. “These are the same algorithms we’ve been looking at for decades.”

 

“We’ve been here less than two years,” Ian said.

 

“Decades,” Dax insisted.

 

“But I just noticed this,” Kylie said. “Just stop talking and look. Don’t you see what he was trying to do?”

 

“I’m going back to my porn,” Dax said.

 

“Dax, seriously, just look,” Kylie said. “See those patterns there? He was trying to mimic gene sequences.”

 

Dax gasped. “Oh my god!” he said with fake shock. “I so don’t care.”

 

“Why would he abandon something like this,” Ian said as he looked over the data.

 

“Hmmm…” Dax wondered. “BustyAsianLadies.com seems to be down. Damn…”

 

Kylie ignored him. “I don’t know. The morphers should work. Everything looks functional.”

 

“You know the question you should be asking?” Dax asked. “What’s the least amount of work we need to do to get an A-grade. We were supposed to analyze how these things worked. You figured it out. They mimicked gene sequences. Falcon, Lion, Dolphin. Done.”

 

“How did you…” Kylie looked back over her data. “How did you catch that so fast?”

 

“I noticed that pattern six weeks ago. I assumed you did too; it was obvious,” Dax said.

 

“I want to strangle you,” Ian said. “I seriously want to strangle you right now.”

 

“Strangle this,” Dax said as he grabbed his crotch.

 

The room suddenly shook, nearly knocking the teens from their seats. Dax started to say something sarcastic, but the room shook again, and their computers blacked out, as did the lights.

 

The room turned dark.

 

Red emergency lights activated.

 

“Monster attack?” Ian asked.

 

“No alarm,” Dax said.

 

The teen stood from his desk and stretched, then walked towards the exit with casual strides.

 

“Where are you going?” Ian asked.

 

“To see what’s going on,” Dax said.

 

The room shook again.

 

Kylie looked to Ian, who merely shrugged. Kylie sighed. She rose from her chair to go after Dax, and Ian followed.

 

***

 

Academia’s upper classmen worked alongside INET scientists on a project called Enertron.

 

The massive subbasement of the building housed a 12-story tower called the Enertron Matrix, which wined out of control as strands of digital energy whipped from the structure. The power discharges exploded through stations and control consoles, ripping the subbasement apart.

 

INET scientists and Academia students frantically rushed across the floor of the subbasement. They shouted orders at each other, desperately trying to bring the Matrix back under control.

 

“Can we contact the team inside?” one of the scientists shouted.

 

“No!” another scientist shouted back. “They’re cut off! We can’t even-”

 

Someone moved in behind the scientist and slit his throat. The attacker tossed the dead scientist aside and moved towards the nearest console. He smiled coldly and activated a sequence that overpowered the Enertron Matrix.

 

The Matrix imploded with a burst of power that shook the building above.

 

The attacker smiled, his act of sabotage complete. He activated a communicator on his wrist. “This is Jaedus,” he said. “Proceed with Phase Two.”

 

***

 

The Academia building shuddered and nearly collapsed. Dax leaned against a wall to keep from falling, as the building shook again.

 

“This is so annoying…” he muttered.

 

“Annoying?” Kylie asked. “People are dying.”

 

“Yes, and that’s annoying,” Dax said.

 

Kylie moved further down the hall and looked out the nearest window. She opened her eyes wide at what she saw. A saucer-shaped ship descended from the skies and loomed over the Academia building.

 

She didn’t recognize the ship, but the vessel had once belonged to a race of inter-dimensional beings called the Shinzon.

 

“What…” she started to say. “What is that?”

 

Dax looked over her shoulder. “A spaceship,” he said with as much surprise as if he were seeing a bird in a tree. “This is Angel Grove; we see shit like this all the time.”

 

bio-vi-mechacloneThe ship fired a teleportation beam that splashed onto the street outside the building. The beam materialized to form a group of mechanical grunts called Mechaclones.

 

The Mechaclones attacked the students who had managed to evacuate the building.

 

Ian opened his eyes wide with horror. “This is not good.”

 

“We have to do something,” Kylie said.

 

“Sure,” Dax said sarcastically. “Let’s go get those abandoned morphers and become Power Rangers.”

 

Kylie’s eyes brightened. “Yes…That’s what we have to do. Who knows how long it will take for Jet Force or SPD to get here. We can stop this now.”

 

“Um, I was being sarcastic,” Dax said.

 

“Come on,” Kylie said as she moved back the way they came.

 

“Sarcasm,” Dax said. “Seriously, look it up.”

 

Ian followed Kylie.

 

Dax sighed and reluctantly followed. “I hate this school.”

 

***

 

The Dark Shaper stood on the control deck of the repaired Shinzon ship. He had salvaged the vessel shortly after it crashed, and he used his intellect to rebuild the ship.

 

He used the ship’s resources to create his cybernetic foot soldiers, and the vessel’s tech could create monsters as well. 

 

Still, he needed more.

 

The villain opened a comm link with Agent Jaedus. The Dark Shaper had used Jaedus to sabotage the school, paving the way for his attack. “Report.”

 

“This is perfect,” Jaedus said. “They never suspected a thing.”

 

“You’re running behind,” the Dark Shaper said. “Have the Mechaclones salvage what they can and return to the ship.”

 

He disconnected the comm link.

 

Jaedus and his two companions had proven useful. The Dark Shaper didn’t trust them in the slightest, but he couldn’t question their effectiveness.

 

***

 

Mechaclones attacked helpless students in the courtyard outside the school.

 

The grunts left most of the fallen students behind. But some of the soldiers picked up the dead and injured students and carried them back towards the teleportation site.

 

Dax, Ian and Kylie filed from the building. They immediately saw the Mechaclones attack the students who tried to flee. Some of them were as young as 12.

 

Even Dax knitted his brow at the sight.

 

“There,” Ian said. “You hated the school so much. You happy now?”

 

“No,” Dax said. “Just annoyed.”

 

Kylie armed the Bio Bracers on her wrists. Dax and Ian did the same.

 

Ian looked to Kylie. “You sure these things will work?”

 

“Only one way to-”

 

“They’ll work,” Dax said. “Let’s just hurry up before I realize how utterly ridiculous this is.”

 

“Fair enough,” Kylie said.

 

The teens readied their morphers.

 

“Bio Burst!” They connected their bracers, triggering waves of energy that washed across their bodies. Their armor materialized as they morphed into their Ranger forms and snapped into fighting stances.

 

“Red Falcon!”

 

“Yellow Lion!”

 

“Blue Dolphin!”

 

“Gene-Tech Task Force…Bio-Beast Rangers!” they shouted together.

 

The Red Ranger looked down at his gloves. “Why did I feel the need to say that? Why would we announce ourselves? Seriously, let’s just tell the bad guys we’re here, they can attack when-”

 

“Dax, they’re coming,” Yellow Lion said.

 

The Mechaclones charged towards the new Rangers to attack.

 

“Falcon Sword!” Red Falcon armed a double-edged blade and leapt through the air towards the grunts.

 

The Red Bio-Beast Ranger landed while chopping his blade through a Mechaclone with a burst of spark.

 

Two grunts closed in from behind. The Red Bio-Beast Ranger turned and twirled his sword to parry their blows. He slashed them aside, blade sparking through their artificial bodies.

 

Five more Mechaclones scrambled around the Red Bio-Beast Ranger.

 

“Bio Blaster!” Red Falcon armed his blaster and fired pulses of cyan-tinted energy that sparked through the grunts, whipping their bodies backward.

 

Nearby, Blue Dolphin leapt through and armed her weapon. “Dolphin Bow!”

 

She snapped a volley of arrows that tore through several grunts with bursts of spark.

 

The Blue Bio-Beast Ranger landed in the midst of several Mechaclones that swarmed around her. She swung her bow through a low strike that knocked the legs out from under a grunt, causing the soldier to crash to the ground.

 

Three Mechaclones surrounded the Blue Bio-Beast Ranger and snapped whips that wrapped around her neck.

 

Blue Dolphin grabbed hold of the whips and tried to break free, but before she could, the grunts sent electrical charges along the tendrils. The charges thrashed across Blue Dolphin’s body with bursts of spark, forcing her to her knees.

 

Nearby, Yellow Lion hurled a grunt over his shoulder.

 

“Lion Gauntlet!” The Yellow Bio-Beast Ranger armed his gauntlet.

 

Yellow Lion smashed a punch against a grunt’s gut with a burst of spark, then smashed his gauntlet against the grunt’s back, knocking the soldier down. 

 

He swung a hook punch across a grunt’s head, then swung the same fist through a back-hand strike that smashed a second grunt’s head off its shoulders.

 

A Mechaclone tackled against Yellow Lion, pushing the Yellow Bio-Beast Ranger through a wall that crumbled on impact.

 

The Yellow Bio-Beast Ranger crashed against the ground, rolled into a crouched fighting stance, and pulled out his sidearm. “Bio Blaster!”

 

He fired bursts of cyan-tinted energy that punctured through the Mechaclone with bursts of spark. 

 

“Rangers…” a voice said from nearby.

 

The three Rangers regrouped to see Jaedus standing alongside his two companions.

 

No older than 18, Jaedus wore a gray suit of high-tech armor over black leather. He wore his dark hair short, and his skin was pale. His eyelashes were so thick, he looked like he was wearing eyeliner. Short, black fur trimmed the edges of his armor.

 

To his right stood Kaidaron. No older than 15, he wore a slender suit of dark-blue armor, trimmed with black. He had shaggy blonde hair and dark-brown eyes.

 

On the other side of Jaedus stood Caemlyn. The 18-year-old wore an intricate suit of red and black armor, with sharp blades extending from the left side of her black. 

 

Red Falcon tilted his head at the sight of Jaedus. “Nathaniel…?” Red Falcon said. “Didn’t you cheat off my last term paper? Ha. I bombed that test on purpose to watch you fail. Good times.”

 

“And that’s Christian…and Lillian!” Blue Dolphin said.

 

“Old names for old lives,” Jaedus said. “INET squandered our intelligence. But VOLT…VOLT has shown us-”

 

Red Falcon looked to Blue Dolphin. “I always knew this place was a breeding ground for evil scientists,” the Red Ranger said. “I always said that.”

 

Jaedus thrust his hand forward. He fired a wave of invisible telekinetic energy that exploded against the Rangers and knocked them backward.

 

The Rangers crashed against the pavement and rolled into crouched positions.

 

Caemlyn extended her hand, and a barrel thrust from her palm. The barrel fired bursts of twirling energy that exploded against the Rangers with a shower of sparks, hurling them backward.

 

Blue Dolphin climbed slowly back to her feet. “Lillian…” the Blue Ranger said. They hadn’t been friends, but the Blue Ranger knew Lillian was one of Academia’s most promising students. As were Nathaniel and Christian. “How could you do this?”

 

“This school taught us nothing,” Caemlyn said.

 

“So you destroy it?!” Yellow Lion asked as he climbed back to his feet.

 

“Yes,” she said. “INET stands in the way of the advancement we can bring through VOLT.”

 

“VOLT?” Blue Dolphin asked.

 

“Don’t ask,” Red Falcon said. “That will only encourage an explanation.”

 

A red light blinked on Jaedus’s gauntlet. He narrowed his eyes and cursed beneath his breath. “We’re out of time.” He looked to the Rangers. “We’ll meet again.”

 

The three villains teleported away with a sweep of the Shinzon ship’s transportation beam. 

 

“Well…” Red Falcon said. “They’re getting expelled, that’s for sure.”

 

***

 

The Silver Guardians escorted Dax, Ian and Kylie to the ISIS Research and Education Initiative headquarters building. Academia had operated under the research branch.

 

The three teens walked into a dark office with tinted windows, where a man stood staring outside.

 

“Leave us,” the man said to the guards.

 

The Silver Guardians left the teens alone with the man. 

 

Dr. William “Billy” Cranston lowered his head. “I’m sorry you had to get involved in this.”

 

He didn’t sound sorry at all.

 

“We’re over it already,” Dax said. “Can we go home now? Yes? Thanks.”

 

Kylie ignored Dax. “What happened back there at the academy?”

 

“Three of your classmates betrayed you,” Cranston said. “They sabotaged the Enertron Project to weaken the school for the VOLT attack.”

 

Dax fumbled into his pocket for his Droid phone. “Must…find…iFunny…”

 

Cranston turned and glared at Dax. “Am I boring you?”

 

“A little bit,” Dax said as he pulled out his phone and started swiping through his apps.

 

“Dax,” Kylie chided as she lowered his phone. She looked back to Dr. Cranston. “What’s VOLT?”

 

“An organization created by someone called the Dark Shaper,” Cranston explained. “He plans to advance science and genetics at the cost of human lives. He views most of humanity as inferior compared to his intellect, and he wants to wipe out that inferiority to advance the human race.”

 

“That’s crap,” Dax said.

 

Cranston arced an eyebrow. “I’m sorry?”

 

“He has to want more than that,” Dax said. “He was taking dead bodies from the school. If he thought they had ‘inferior minds’, why bother with that?”

 

Cranston clenched his jaw. “I’m not familiar with…all of his motives.”

 

“Clearly,” Dax said.

 

Ian shrugged. “Maybe he just wanted the raw genetic material.”

 

“Genetic material he finds inferior,” Dax asked. “Doesn’t make sense.” He waved his hand dismissively. “Anyway, get to the point.”

 

“The point is you three unlocked the Gene-Tech morphers,” Cranston said. “That shouldn’t have been possible. Those morphers were deemed non-functional.”

 

“Did you check the batteries?” Dax asked.

 

“I don’t think you understand how serious this is,” Cranston said. “Those morphers have essentially bonded with your genetic coding. They won’t work for anyone else. You’ve used them to fight against VOLT once. And I’ll need you to use them again.”

 

“Don’t you have, like, 70 Ranger teams already?” Dax asked.

 

“Two,” Cranston said. “SPD’s occupied with growing meta-level criminal activity. Jet Force has to stay alert for inter-dimensional threats, like the Fangaira. You would be assigned to handle VOLT specifically.”

 

“I’m going to show you the courtesy of just saying ‘no’ instead of telling you to go to hell,” Dax said.

 

“Dax!” Kylie shouted.

 

“Christ, Dax,” Ian said. “Show some respect. He’s giving us a chance to fight against the people who destroyed our school. Who killed our classmates. If you’re too scared, then fine, but don’t be an ass about it.”

 

“I’m not scared, I just know a game when I see one,” Dax said. He looked to Cranston. “This is a game you’re playing. With the Dark Shaper. This doesn’t have anything to do with him wanting to wipe out inferior intellect, or you wanting to save people.”

 

“Dax!” Kylie shouted again. “Dr. Cranston, I’m sorry…”

 

“No, it’s OK,” Cranston said with an odd smile. “You’re so sure this is a game, Dax?”

 

“Yep,” he said.

 

“OK,” he said. “Then play the game. Show your friends that you’re right, and I’m wrong.”

 

“To clarify,” Ian said. “We’re not friends.”

 

Dax narrowed his eyes thoughtfully and stared at Dr. Cranston. The teen nodded. “OK...OK, fine. I’m only doing this to prove my point and wipe that smug grin off your face. I hate smug people. Actually…I hate people in general, but that’s beside the point.”

 

“Good,” Cranston said. “I’ll get you set up with a mobile headquarters and have a team show you your equipment and zords.”

 

Ian’s eyes lit up. “We get zords?”

 

“You’re Rangers now,” Cranston said. “Of course you get zords.”

 

***

 

Dr. Cranston waited until the teens left his office. He stormed to his desk and slid open his holographic communicator. He practically slammed his hand against the panel. He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt such anger.

 

His communicator stayed silent. He slapped his hand against the panel again. “Answer…”

 

The emitter hummed to life and projected an image that looked like a dark reflection.

 

“Does this mean we’re back on speaking terms?” the Dark Shaper asked. “Or were we already on speaking terms? I lose track.”

 

“You attacked my school,” Cranston said.

 

“I did,” the Dark Shaper said.

 

“That wasn’t part of our arrangement.”

 

“Our arrangement?” the Dark Shaper asked. “We never had an arrangement. We simply exchanged favors.”

 

“This VOLT organization you’ve started is a sham. We both know that,” Cranston said.

 

“I could say the same thing about INET,” the Dark Shaper said. “Now…you’ve seen what I have up my sleeve. I know what’s up your sleeve. Let’s see if we can come up with a new arrangement of sorts, shall we?”

 

To be continued…Chapter 05