Ultimate Gene-Tech: Recap

 

The Road so Far

 

Dr. William “Billy” Cranston formed the Academia school as a learning institution for the most brilliant young minds on the planet. An organization called VOLT attacked the school and killed most of its students. Dax, Ian and Kylie survived the attack and became the Gene-Tech Task Force Bio-Beast Rangers to fight VOLT.

 

Marcus Huntsman and Cam Maddox, who each lost a younger sibling when VOLT attacked Academia, joined the team as Black Bison and Green Rhino.

 

VOLT had orchestrated the attack along with the help of three former students of Academia: Nathaniel, Christian and Lillian, who became Agents Jaedus, Kaidaron and Caemlyn. They served VOLT’s leader, the Dark Shaper.

 

An alternate version of Dr. William “Billy” Cranston, the Dark Shaper came from a parallel world called Demon World Earth, where evil ruled. He formed VOLT as part of a secret plot.

 

Now

 

Chapter 42: Ultimate Gene-Tech

Demon Shift: Giga Brain

 

Agent Kaidaron returned to the VOLT Fortress with the Fifth Ace and BOARD data disc. He smirked with pride for having tricked the Giraffe Undead so easily.

 

Undead…nothing but foolish beasts…he thought.

 

Still, he couldn’t help but remember the Undead’s warning: “Did you read the data? The man you work for…is insane…Read the data. BOARD is for the body. VOLT is for the mind.”

 

“Well…” Kaidaron whispered. “It wouldn’t hurt to take a look…”

 

The agent entered a small lab and inserted the data disc into a terminal. He pulled up images and readouts that outlined the plans of the Dark Shaper.

 

Kaidaron’s eyes widened, and his face paled. He always knew the Dark Shaper harbored mysterious plans. But Kaidaron never guessed the maddening extent of those plans.

 

“I have to tell the others…” he whispered.

 

http://www.ryuranger.com/UPRNG_Book03/UO04_files/image006.jpgHe turned to leave the lab — but the Dark Shaper stood in the doorway, along with his cybernetic assassin, Combax.

 

Kaidaron…” the Dark Shaper said. “You didn’t report in.”

 

“I…” the agent said. “I was on my way.”

 

“Good,” the Dark Shaper said as he held out his hand. “The Fifth Ace, please.”

 

Kaidaron hesitated, and then reluctantly handed the Dark Shaper the Fifth Ace, Kerberos.

 

“It’s…a crude creature,” Kaidaron said.

 

“The appearance can be changed,” the Dark Shaper said. “Now…something tells me you’ve learned my secret.”

 

Combax unsheathed his knife.

 

Kaidaron cursed beneath his breath and activated his dark-blue battle armor with a pulse of navy-tinted light. A smooth, featureless gray helmet wrapped around his head. 

 

He thrust his hand downward and fired plasma bursts that blew the floor out from beneath him. The agent dropped to the level below and dashed towards the nearest exit.

 

Combax dropped through the opening to pursue.

 

***

 

Academia, two years ago

 

Christian — who would become Agent Kaidaron — stood in front of his class and stared at the data screen. The screen displayed a complex equation his teacher asked him to solve, in front of everyone.

 

He knew he could solve the equation. But anxiety clenched his throat. He felt his peers stare at the back of his neck. He heard a few of them whisper. Others snickered. Did they snicker at him? He shifted his feet nervously.

 

Dax sighed near the back of the class. “Oh my god, seriously? This is basic physics.”

 

Christian felt his chest tighten. He felt foolish. Worthless. Ashamed.

 

“Would you like to try the equation, Mr. Slater?” asked his teacher, Dr. Hoshi. 

 

“Not particularly, no,” Dax said. “I’d like get back to my nap, but it’s hard to sleep through awkward silence.”

 

“You prefer my lecture?” Dr. Hoshi asked.

 

“It’s like a lullaby,” Dax said.

 

Dr. Hoshi rubbed his forehead. “Okay, that’s enough,” he said. “Christian, you can sit down now.”

 

“But…” Christian started to say as he blushed with embarrassment.

 

“It’s okay, just go sit,” the teacher said.

 

Christian kept his head down as he walked back to his desk and took a seat. One of his classmates, Lillian — who would become Agent Caemlyn — leaned towards him and placed a hand on his arm.

 

“Hey,” she whispered. “We all get a little choked up sometimes. Don’t worry about it.”

 

Christian smiled sheepishly. “Thanks.”

 

“I mean it,” Lillian said. “I’ve seen your work. You’re better than most of the class.  You can-”   

 

“Lillian, Christian…” Dr. Hoshi scolded. “You can whisper sweet nothings to each other later. Please pay attention.”

 

“We were just-” Lillian started to say.

 

“Okay, that’s enough interruptions for the day. Both of you, to the principal’s office. Now…anyone else in class have anything to say? Anyone? No? Good. Let’s continue.”

 

***

 

Kaidaron dashed towards the nearest hanger to leave the ship. But a group of Mechaclones scrambled into the corridor to block his path.

 

He thrust his hand forward. The conduits running through his palm heated with energy and fired plasma bursts that exploded through the Mechaclones with bursts of spark.

 

From behind, a knife buzzed through the air and stabbed against Kaidaron’s back with a burst of spark, not strong enough to penetrate the armor, but powerful enough to send him staggering forward.

 

The agent cursed beneath his breath. He rolled across the floor and rose into a crouched stance.

 

Quickly, he opened a key pad on his gauntlet and input a code. The code triggered a security program that slammed forcefields into place, cutting off the robotic assassin.

 

Kaidaron shifted his armor’s polarity so he could pass through the forcefields freely. He dashed through the fields towards the nearest hanger while blasting through any Mechaclone that got in his way. 

 

A part of him wanted to stay back and warn the others. But he knew needed to get off the fortress. He could warn them from the surface.

 

The agent lifted his hand to blast the last of the Mechaclones aside. But his palm’s plasma conduits sizzled with protest. He had managed to burn them out.

 

He lunged forward, kneed a Mechaclone in the gut, smashed the back of his fist across a soldier’s head, and elbowed the last Mechaclone in the face.

 

Kaidaron dashed into the hanger, hopped into a shuttle, and sped towards the surface below.

 

***

 

The Dark Shaper stepped onto the bridge of the VOLT fortress to find Agent Jaedus waiting. The agent wore his gray suit of battle armor, over black leather. Short, black fur trimmed the edges of his armor. He wore his dark hair short, and his skin looked pale white. His eyelashes appeared so thick, he looked like he wore eyeliner.

 

He stood with his arms crossed as he stared at several holographic readouts.

 

“You should see this,” the agent said.

 

The Dark Shaper arced an eyebrow. He didn’t like his students telling him what he should or should not see.

 

“Should I?” he asked.

 

Jaedus nodded. “Caemlyn created this…machine. It very well may defeat the Bio-Beast Rangers.”

 

“You’ll forgive me if I don’t foresee that happening,” the Dark Shaper said.

 

“You should have more faith in your students,” Jaedus said.

 

“Is that pride I sense?” the Dark Shaper asked. “Surprising.”

 

“Admiration,” Jaedus said. “She’s pushed herself past her limits this time. I will, of course, do the same…and remain her superior in every way. But for now…I can’t help but be impressed.”

 

***

 

Agent Caemlyn strapped herself to a chair within her lab. She leaned back against a headrest connected to a giant machine that took up half the room. Buttons and wires flashed with red that lit up the dark room.

 

She closed her eyes and activated the device, which projected her virtual image onto the streets of Angel Grove.

 

The virtual avatar appeared on a rooftop that looked down upon Angel Grove South. Her cyber image looked the same as her physical self, with raven-black hair and intricate red-and-black armor, with sharp blades extending from the upper left side of her back like a fan.

 

New Bitmap ImageShe rolled her virtual hand into a fist and extended her mind further.

 

Above, she projected virtual recreations of four destroyed monsters: Sate-Zuno, Roden-Zuno, Plasma-Zuno and Scanne-Zuno. 

 

The giant monsters fired beams of jagged energy that exploded through the streets with waves of fire and debris.

 

***

 

The Bio-Mech Megazord launched over the streets and shot towards the scene of destruction. The five Rangers stared ahead as the previously defeated monsters came into view.

 

“Them again?” Yellow Lion asked.

 

Red Falcon grasped his controls. “Let’s hope they die just as easily the second time.”

 

“Technically, you mean the third time,” Green Rhino said. “You beat them, they grew big, you beat them again-”

 

“Yeah, I get it,” Red Falcon said.

 

The Megazord leapt at the monsters with a flying punch. But the creatures vanished just before the robo landed.

 

New Bitmap ImageThe monsters reappeared behind the Megazord, burst into spheres of energy, and combined to form a single monster: Fusion-Zuno.

 

“That’s…unattractive,” Red Falcon said.

 

The Megazord armed its blaster and fired energy beams that sparked against the monster.

 

The creature flashed with energy, erupted into four bursts of light, and reformed as four separate monsters. The monsters fired jagged energy beams that thrashed the Megazord with bursts of spark, knocking the robo several steps backward.

 

Agent Caemlyn laughed from below. “Behold the power of my ultimate mind!”

 

The Rangers spotted her through their cockpit.

 

“Who talks like that…?” Red Falcon muttered.

 

Caemlyn!” Blue Dolphin shouted. “No…Lillian! Call off the attack! All these people…”

 

Black Bison shook his head. “She’s not going to listen, Kylie.”

 

The monsters fired another barrage of energy blasts that smashed against the Megazord with a shower of sparks.

 

The Megazord staggered backward, and the four monsters charged. One-by-one, they slashed the Megazord while dashing past it.

 

***

 

The Dark Shaper walked to the door of Caemlyn’s lab and looked through the window. Inside, Caemlyn sweated as she sat in her chair. Her muscles twitched. And her veins pulsed on her forehead.

 

The villain activated a small monitor on his gauntlet. He smiled coldly as he watched the readings.

 

“She’s almost ready…” he whispered.

 

***

 

The four monsters combined into Fusion-Zuno and swung the beam cannon on its right arm. The creature fired a beam of blue energy that exploded against the Megazord’s chest with a massive burst of spark.

 

The impact knocked the Megazord to the ground with a massive boom that rocked the streets.

 

Red Falcon looked to the Green Ranger and Black Ranger. “Some reinforcements would be nice.”

 

“Right,” Black Bison said as he activated his comm. “Bio-Mech Battlezord!”

 

The Black Ranger activated the Bio-Mech Battlezord by remote.

 

The Battlezord swooped to the scene with a flying punch that hurled the monster off its feet. The creature crashed against the ground and skid with a massive shockwave that tore through buildings.

 

The Bio-Mech Megazord climbed to its feet. The two Megazords stood side-by-side and shifted into fighting stances.

 

“Bio-Mechs assemble!” Red Falcon shouted. “Mega Battle Fusion!”

 

The Bio-Mech Battlezord pulled apart. The zord shifted to form a suit of armor that wrapped around the Bio-Mech Megazord, forming powerful arms and legs, reinforced chest plating and a horned helmet.

 

“Bio-Battle Megazord!” the Rangers shouted.

 

Fusion-Zuno climbed to its feet and howled with mixed voices.

 

“God that thing’s ugly,” Red Falcon said. “Mega Bio-Blast!”

 

The mouth of the lion opened on the Megazord’s chest, and a sphere of energy crackled within its jaws. The energy sphere siphoned the energy from the five individual zords, creating a powerful charge.

 

The Megazord blasted the fiery bolt of power towards the monster. The bolt punctured through Fusion-Zuno with massive bursts of spark.

 

But the monster simply shifted into its four separate forms.

 

The creatures reassembled into Fusion-Zuno and fired twirling energy blasts. The blasts exploded against the Megazord with a shower of sparks, thrashing the robo’s armor.

 

The Bio-Battle Megazord collapsed, and the impact hurled the Rangers from their cockpit. They crashed against the streets and tumbled with enough force to knock them from their armor.

 

***

 

The Dark Shaper and Combax stepped into Agent Caemlyn’s lab. Her eyelids flickered as her invention scanned her mind.

 

The Dark Shaper extended his hand, and Combax handed his master a knife.

 

***

 

Fusion-Zuno kicked rubble that plowed through the streets. The rangers dove aside to take cover as a wave of dust and debris washed over them.

 

They rolled into crouched positions and struggled to see through the clouded streets.

 

“What now?” Cam asked.

 

“We’ve got to get back to the Megazord,” Dax said.

 

Laughter came from above. The teens looked up to see the projection of Agent Caemlyn shimmer into view.

 

“Rangers!” she shouted down to them. “You’ve defeated our Mechaclones. You’ve defeated our monsters. But you can’t stop the power of our minds!”

 

Fusion-Zuno fired a beam of energy that blasted through the streets, tearing up buildings and pavement with massive shockwaves. The impact hurled the rangers from their feet.

 

Caemlyn laughed as she leapt to a rooftop closer to the teens.

 

“Now…” she said. “Finally. You-”

 

Caemlyn!” a voice shouted from nearby. Agent Kaidaron ran to the scene through clouds of dust and debris. Out of his armor, he wore black slacks that matched his black shirt.

 

Kaidaron…” Caemlyn said. “What are you-

 

“There’s no time,” Kaidaron said. “Call off your attack and get off that fortress as fast as you can.”

 

Caemlyn knitted her brow. “Is this some sort of trick…?”

 

“It’s no trick,” Kaidaron said. “I wanted to warn you…but couldn’t. It’s the Shaper. He’s been using us.”

 

“Of course he has,” Caemlyn said.

 

Kaidaron shook his head. “I’m not talking about ulterior motives…He’s been using us. Literally using us, to develop and harvest our minds. Do you understand what I’m saying? Harvest our minds.”

 

Caemlyn narrowed her eyes. “You can’t possibly mean…”

 

“I do,” Kaidaron said. “I saw his plans for myself. And afterward, he tried to kill me.”

 

Caemlyn shook her head. “What’s happened to you?”

 

“Go back and see for yourself,” Kaidaron said.

 

“Why?” she asked. “Why would he want our minds so badly?”

 

“Because…” Kaidaron said. “He plans to-”

 

The stress and confusion broke Caemlyn’s concentration. She gasped as her virtual projection vanished.

 

***

 

Agent Caemlyn awoke on the VOLT fortress to find the Dark Shaper and Combax standing over her.

 

Caemlyn…” the Dark Shaper said. “This device of yours works well…”

                           

“Shaper…” she said, with the slightest trace of fear.

 

He ran his fingers across her machine’s control panel, fried by the outage caused by her confusion. “I noticed you spoke with Kaidaron…”

 

“He’s…” she hesitated, uncertain what to say. “Not well.”

 

The Dark Shaper grinned. “No…he’s not. I’m glad you see that.”

 

“I do,” she said.

 

“Good,” the Dark Shaper said. “I’d hate for there to be any misunderstanding.”

 

“There is none…” she said.

 

“Good,” the Dark Shaper said. “I don’t like wayward students. Why don’t you go. Bring him in.”

 

“You would…let me leave?” she asked.

 

“You’re not a prisoner here,” the Dark Shaper said. “Go…bring back Kaidaron.”

 

***

 

Agent Kaidaron breathed heavily as he watched Caemlyn and her monsters vanish from sight. He heard the five rangers approach from behind but didn’t turn to face them.

 

“I’m not here to fight you,” he said. “Not this time…”

 

“We didn’t really ask,” Dax said.

 

Marcus nodded. “You have a lot to answer for.”

 

“You’re right…” he said as he turned to face them. “But I don’t answer to you. Not to any of you.”

 

“Finish what you were saying,” Kylie said. “What does the Dark Shaper have planned?”

 

“Why does it matter to you?” Kaidaron asked. “You’re spoiled, pampered brats. All of you. You have no idea what we were trying to accomplish…What I thought we were trying to accomplish…”

 

“You’re obviously in trouble,” Kylie said. “Something’s happened…and we can help.”

 

Dax arced an eyebrow. “We can?”

 

“Are you even listening to me?” Kaidaron asked.

 

“No,” Dax said. “Just shush.”

 

Kaidaron rolled his hands into fists.

 

Suddenly, explosions sparked around the rangers and agent and hurled them off their feet.

 

They tumbled across the ground and rolled into crouched stances. When they looked up, they saw Caemlyn walk towards them.

 

Ian shook his head. “Something tells me she’s the real deal.”

 

“Good assumption,” Dax said.

 

Caemlyn…” Kaidaron said as he climbed to his feet. “What are you-

 

“You’re not well…” she said with doubt. She lifted her hand, and a chamber opened in her palm. “I’m here to bring you back home…”

 

Her palm fired a volley of plasma bursts that shot towards the rangers and agent. They dove for cover as the blasts exploded around them with bursts of spark and flame.

 

Kaidaron rolled to his knees. “Caemlyn…what are you doing?! We’re not enemies!”

 

She aimed her palm towards her fellow agent.

 

Kaidaron lunged and grabbed her by the wrist. “Would you just listen to me?!”

 

“Listen?” She tossed him aside. “I refuse to believe this past year was a ruse to harvest our brains. Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds?”

 

“Not just ours,” Kaidaron said. “All our victims. All our targets. Even Academia. I saw it for myself.”

 

Caemlyn buried her doubt with anger. “Lies!”

 

She lifted him by the collar and smacked the back of her hand across his face.

 

The agent narrowed her eyes and looked to the rangers.

 

Dax knitted his brow. “Oh shi-”

 

The agent fired missiles from her forearms. The projectiles exploded around the teens and hurled them backward.

 

Caemlyn gave them no time to recover. She hurled a volley of plasma bursts and fired a round of high-yield bullets from an elbow cannon. The blasts tore across the landscape with sparks and fire, hurling the rangers aside.

 

***

 

The Dark Shaper watched the battle through a holographic viewscreen on the bridge of the VOLT fortress. Jaedus stood nearby.

 

A holographic readout showed Caemlyn’s brainwave patterns spike rapidly. The harder she pushed herself, the more she plotted her strategy, the higher the patterns spiked.

 

The Dark Shaper’s mouth twisted into a grin. “She’s ready now…That was the final push she needed.”

 

He looked to his robotic assassin. Combax.”

 

The assassin nodded and stepped backward, vanishing into the shadows.

 

Jaedus knitted his brow with confusion. “Ready…? Ready for what?”

 

“You’ll learn…” the Dark Shaper said. “When it’s your time.”

 

***

 

Agent Caemlyn laughed as she stalked towards the fallen rangers. She felt invigorated as she watched them struggle to climb to their feet. Flames and smoke billowed around them.

                                              

“All this time…you felt superior,” she said. “To me. To Kaidaron. Jaedus. How do you feel now, Rangers? Do you still feel superior?”

 

“Actually…” Dax said as he pushed himself up. “A little bit, yeah. Considering you’re about to get ambushed by one of your own guys.”

 

Suddenly, Combax grabbed Caemlyn from behind and held a knife to her throat.

 

“What…?” she gasped. Panic flooded her body. And then she knew. Kaidaron was right.

 

“No…” she said. “Unhand me!”

 

Combax lifted his knife to strike. But Kaidaron lunged and tackled the assassin, knocking Caemlyn free.

 

Kaidaron held Combax in an arm lock and looked to his friend. Caemlyn, run!”

 

Eyes wide with fear, Caemlyn scrambled to her feet and started to run. 

 

Combax knocked Kaidaron aside and pulled twin blasters from his waist. He lifted the weapons and aimed at Caemlyn.

 

“No!” Kaidaron shouted as he jumped in front of the villain.

 

Combax opened fire, and the blasts tore through Kaidaron’s body, whipping him to the ground with splatters of blood.

 

Caemlyn stopped running when she heard Kaidaron’s screams. She turned just in time to see him drop to his knees.

 

Kaidaron looked to Caemlyn with pain-filled eyes. “Don’t let them take…” he stuttered. “Don’t let them…”

 

He gasped with pain and collapsed, and with a final breath, he slipped into the blackness of death.

 

Sorrow gripped Caemlyn’s throat. But when she saw Combax reload his blasters, she knew she needed to run. She turned and fled.

 

Nearby, the five rangers climbed to their feet.

 

“Here’s the deal,” Dax said. “I’m no fan of Caemlyn, but if VOLT wants her for something, it’s probably not good. So we stop Combax.”

 

Ian nodded. “I agree.”

 

“That means the world to me,” Dax said sarcastically as they armed their morphers.

 

“Bio Burst!” They connected their bracers, triggering waves of energy that morphed them into their Ranger forms.

 

The Rangers leapt through the air and landed in front of Combax to block his path. But Combax merely blasted them aside with bursts of spark. The impact whipped the Rangers off their feet.

 

Combax walked past them as he pursued Caemlyn.

 

***

 

Agent Caemlyn scrambled up the fire escape of a nearby building. She ran frantically, trying to gain as much distance from Combax as possible.

 

The villain cursed beneath her breath along the way. She should have listened to Kaidaron. They all knew the Dark Shaper kept his secrets. Why did she doubt Kaidaron’s story?

 

Deep down, she knew why. The Dark Shaper made her feel special. Gifted. She never had the popularity of Dax, Ian or Kylie. Even among peers of budding scientists, she always felt like an outsider. Her classmates made her feel like she didn’t belong. They snickered at her accomplishments and presentations. They giggled as they passed her in the halls. 

 

Then the Dark Shaper approached her. He told her she was special and had potential. He promised to help unlock that potential. To push her past her limits.

 

To use me…she thought as she scrambled up the steps.

 

She ran onto the rooftop. Suddenly, Combax landed in front of her. He fired a volley of bullets Caemlyn dove aside to dodge.

 

The agent rolled to her feet and leapt to the neighboring roof. She landed hard with a roll and rose to her feet.

 

Combax leapt after her.

 

Caemlyn thrust her gauntlet and fired a chain that wrapped around the assassin’s gun arm. She tried to use the chain to toss him aside. But Combax landed, grabbed the chain, and pulled Caemlyn off her feet.

 

The assassin aimed his blaster at the agent.

 

Suddenly, Red Falcon leapt onto the roof and landed while chopping Combax with a burst of spark. The Red Ranger spun and swung wide, slashing the villain backward.

 

Agent Caemlyn took advantage of the distraction to jump from the rooftop.

 

Red Falcon lunged at Combax with a sword swing. But Combax unsheathed his dagger, parried, and slashed the Red Ranger aside with a burst of spark.

 

Combax walked away from the Red Ranger and leapt from the roof.

 

Grumbling, Red Falcon used his sword for balance to push himself to his feet. He ran after Combax and leapt from the rooftop.

 

***

 

Combax stalked after Caemlyn through the ruined streets.

 

Red Falcon closed in from behind. The Red Ranger leapt through the air and angled his decent towards the assassin.

 

Combax turned, blasted the Red Ranger from the air, and continued his advance on Caemlyn.

 

The agent ran as fast as she could. But she couldn’t shake the VOLT assassin.

 

Combax aimed his weapon and fired a round of bullets that sparked around Caemlyn, knocking her off balance.

 

The agent turned and desperately fired a volley of plasma bursts. The bolts exploded harmlessly around the assassin with bursts of spark.

 

Combax fired a volley of bullets that sparked against Caemlyn and knocked her to the ground.

 

The agent rolled to her knees. Her heart pounded in her chest. She knew she couldn’t run. She couldn’t escape Combax. But she wouldn’t let the villain take her mind.

 

She tore open a panel on the side of her armor and pressed a red button on the exposed mesh. Electricity surged through her body.

 

Caemlyn transformed into a fully robotic being. Her skin melted away into gray metal, and her eyes looked like red, solid glass. Her every trace of flesh and muscle vanished, replaced by steel and circuitry.

 

***

 

The Dark Shaper narrowed his eyes as he watched.

 

Jaedus opened his eyes wide with shock. “Caemlyn…”

 

***

 

The agent laughed as she stood. “What do you have to harvest now, Combax? My brain is gone. You have nothing to take from me! My mind was never yours to take!”

 

***

 

Furious, the Dark Shaper triggered the VOLT fortress’s weapons array. From the upper atmosphere, the fortress fired particle beams that stabbed towards the surface.

 

***

 

Energy blasts exploded around Caemlyn with massive shockwaves that tore up the ground, hurling her through the air as secondary explosions tore through her robotic body.

 

The agent crashed and tumbled across the street as her vision blurred with static.

 

“Lillian…” she remembered the Dark Shaper’s words when he recruited her. “You’re better than this. Better than this place. You’re special. And if you come with me…I’ll show you how special. I’ll show you the power to reshape the world.”

 

Her mind flashed with static and darkened to blackness. She died, triggering a self-destruct program that blasted her body apart with bursts of flame.

 

***

 

Jaedus collapsed to all fours, the shock of what he saw too much.

 

The Dark Shaper fully expected the need to defend himself.

 

But instead of attacking, Agent Jaedus laughed. His voice thick with madness, the agent stood and laughed, the sound echoing through the bridge.

 

***

 

The rangers returned to the Tor carrier, modeled after the carrier zord Daimugen from Dr. William “Billy” Cranston’s time as a Power Ranger.

 

They joined their chief technician, Colynn, in the carrier bay.

 

“So…let’s recap,” Dax said.

 

Cam groaned. “I hate it when he recaps.”

 

Kaidaron finds out the Dark Shaper wants his brain, warns Caemlyn the Dark Shaper wants their brains, and then Combax kills them both,” Dax said. “No brains to be had.”

 

“Remember what Kaidaron said,” Kylie said. “It’s not just the agents. All the Dark Shaper’s victims…He wants their…”

 

“Brains,” Dax said. “It sounds weird to say it, so commit to the weird. The Dark Shaper attacks people for their brains. That’s probably why he took the bodies after the attack on Academia.”

 

Marcus narrowed his eyes. “How can you sound so cold about that?”

 

Kylie laid a hand on Dax’s shoulder. “It’s just how he copes.”

 

Dax shook his head. “I don’t-”

 

Dax. Shut up,” Kylie said. “Please.”

 

Colynn crossed her arms over her chest. “What would he want with all that brain matter…?”

 

“Calling it ‘brain matter’ doesn’t make it sound less ridiculous,” Dax said.

 

Suddenly, the alarms blared in the carrier bay.

 

Colynn and the rangers moved to a side station and activated a monitor, which showed Jaedus fleeing from a group of Mechaclones. The agent dashed through the mountains outside the city as the grunts followed.

 

“Looks like Jaedus caught onto his boss’s plan,” Ian said.

 

“Maybe he can give us some answers,” Kylie said.

 

“Doubtful,” Dax said. “But let’s go say hi.”

 

***

 

Jaedus fled from the Mechaclones as they closed in from behind. His armor powered his legs through bursts of speed. But he couldn’t outrun the robotic grunts.

 

From behind, five blurs of motion streaked through the air towards a nearby cliff. The five Rangers landed on the cliff and snapped around to face the Mechaclones.

 

“Bio Blasters!” the Red Ranger shouted. 

 

They armed their weapons and fired pulses of cyan-tinted energy that tore through Mechaclones with bursts of spark. 

 

“Take ‘em out,” Red Falcon said as they leapt downward to attack.

 

The Blue Ranger armed her weapon while jumping through the air. “Dolphin Bow!”

 

She triggered a volley of energy arrows that ripped through grunts with bursts of spark.

 

Red Falcon armed his saber. “Falcon Sword!”

 

He landed while chopping through a grunt with burst of spark. The Red Ranger spun with a wide slash that cut off a Mechaclone’s head.

 

The Green Ranger landed in the midst of a dozen soldiers.

 

“Rhino Rangs!” he shouted as he armed his twin, bladed boomerangs.

 

He snapped the weapons, which twirled through the grunts, tearing them apart with bursts of spark faster than they could react.

 

The Black Ranger landed near his teammate. “Bison Bow!”

 

He armed a staff he twirled like a club, bashing grunts aside left and right, his mighty blows hurling them through the air and smashing their bodies.

 

Nearby, Yellow Lion armed his gauntlet, which shifted into a cannon. “Lion Bazooka!”

 

He fired a pulse of yellow energy that exploded with a wave of fire, blasting several Mechaclones apart.

 

Nearby, Red Falcon slashed the last of the Mechaclones aside with an upward swing that ripped its body in half.

 

The Red Ranger lowered his weapon and walked slowly to Jaedus, who sat on his knees.

 

The agent breathed heavily, his eyes wide with fear and panic.

 

“He’s…He’s mad,” the agent whispered.

 

“And you’re the picture of sanity,” Red Falcon said as he and the others surrounded the villain.

 

“You saw what happened to Caemlyn…and Kaidaron…” Blue Dolphin said.

 

The agent nodded.

 

Black Bison rolled his hands into fists. “You deserve the same, you bastard.”

 

“Let’s not drag this out,” Yellow Lion said. “Tell us what you know. What does your boss have planned?”

 

“He…He used us. To develop our minds to their highest potential. But he only needed…Only needed one of us. He took three to increase the odds of one of us hitting our peak,” Jaedus said.

 

“What about his attacks?” Green Rhino asked. “What’s he planning?”

 

Jaedus shook his head. “He wants my…He wants my…”

 

“Brain, we know,” Red Falcon said.

 

The agent scrambled across the dirt and grabbed the Red Ranger’s feet, pleading. “Help me…help me! You can’t let him take me! My mind…my humanity…I can’t…”

 

Tendrils lashed from the dirt, wrapped around the Rangers’ necks, and electrified them with massive bursts of spark that thrashed their armor. They dropped to their knees as the tendrils tightened and slithered around their bodies, pinning their arms and legs.

 

Jaedus laughed as he stood. “For coming from a school of geniuses…you are fools.”

 

The tendrils ignited another wave of electricity that sparked on impact. The blasts knocked the teens out of their armor with flashes of light, and they collapsed to the ground.

 

Dax clenched his jaw and looked up at Jaedus with a glare. “You know what he wants with you…and you still…?”

 

Jaedus kicked Dax upside the head. “I’m honored to sacrifice myself for his plans…”

 

Dax groaned with anger and pain as he struggled to climb to his feet. “You dumbass.”

 

Jaedus pressed a button on his gauntlet, releasing the tendrils that held Dax. Then, the agent pressed another button on his gauntlet to power down his armor with a burst of light. He stood wearing black slacks and a shirt as white as his pale skin.

 

“I’ve waited for this…” Jaedus said. “You’ve always acted so smug and superior. Like you were better than everyone else at the academy.”

 

Dax climbed to his feet and narrowed his eyes. “Point?”

 

“My point is I see through your ruse,” he said. “You’re nothing but a scared little boy who feels small and weak, inferior to everyone in every way.”

 

Dax arced an eyebrow. “Not really, no.”

 

Jaedus lunged, grabbed Dax by the throat, lifted him, and slammed him to the ground. Dax knocked the arm away and rolled aside.

 

The ranger rose to his feet and pounced with a punch. But Jaedus blocked the blow, punched Dax in the face, and kicked his chest, knocking him to the ground.

 

Jaedus laughed. “You are truly nothing. It’s a wonder you’ve survived so long…You and your friends. Can we even call them that? Friends? You sneer at friendship when in reality you want nothing more, do you? But you keep them at bay. Because you know you don’t deserve friendship.”

 

Dax spat blood and climbed to his feet. “Again, your psycho analysis sucks.”

 

Jaedus lunged and punched Dax in the gut, and then elbowed the ranger in the back of the head, knocking him to the ground.

 

“Stay in the dirt where you belong,” Jaedus said. “This time, I will look down on you.”

 

Nearby, a small VOLT shuttle landed and lowered its ramp. Combax walked down the ramp while carrying a high-tech box.

 

Jaedus looked to the shuttle and opened his eyes wide with maddening fear and anticipation.

 

“It’s time…” he whispered. “I’ve reached my peak, haven’t I? The height of my potential?”

 

Combax said nothing as he walked forward.

 

Jaedus dropped to his knees and stared at Combax with eyes as hot as fire and cold as ice.

 

“I’m ready,” the agent practically shouted. “Do it quickly…Do it!”

 

Combax opened the box and snapped it shut around Jaedus’s head. The box whined with power and flashed with light.

 

The assassin lifted the box, and Jaedus’s headless body collapsed to the ground.

 

Combax turned and started walking back to the ship.

 

With Jaedus dead, the tendrils around the other rangers slackened. They coughed and breathed heavily as they climbed to their knees.

 

Dax wasted no time. He ran towards the shuttle and morphed into his armor with a flash of red light.

 

Combax stepped into the vessel, and the boarding ramp slammed shut.

 

The shuttle took off. But not before Red Falcon leapt onto its side and stabbed his blade into its hull.

 

The craft flew towards the VOLT fortress, taking the Red Ranger along for the ride.

 

***

 

The VOLT fortress hovered through the lower atmosphere and passed over Angel Grove North. The vessel whined with power as citizens below screamed and ran with panic.

 

Alert sirens sounded through the streets as people fled for the nearest shelters.

 

Dr. William “Billy” Cranston watched the fortress through the windows of one of his many high-rise office buildings.

 

The window activated a viewscreen and control panel embedded in the glass. Cranston placed his palm against the control panel and analyzed the readouts of the VOLT ship. He noticed massive energy readings swelling at the heart of the former Shinzon fortress.

 

Suddenly, wave of distortion energy rippled from the ship with a shockwave that shook the streets. The shockwave’s tremors shook Cranston’s office and cracked his window.

 

He knitted his brow and placed his other hand on the glass to activate a comm unit.

 

“Miss. Fairweather, prep Jet Force to scramble,” he said. “Kruger, deploy all SPD and ZECT assets, pattern Sierra. Colynn, what’s the status of the Gene-Tech team?”

 

“They’re in the mountains outside the city,” Colynn said. “Except for Dax…he snuck onto the VOLT fortress.”

 

“Good…” Cranston said. “Patch me through.”

 

***

 

Red Falcon dropped onto the hanger bay floor of the VOLT fortress. He hid behind the landing struts and looked across the darkened bay.

 

Ahead, he spotted the massive bay doors lightly guarded by several Mechaclones.

 

A commline opened through the Ranger’s helmet. “Dax, it’s Dr. Cranston.”

 

“You really don’t need to introduce yourself,” Red Falcon said. “I recognize your pissed-at-life voice.”

 

“Clever,” Cranston said sarcastically. “Now listen…There’s an energy buildup at the center of the ship. I need you to find it and stop it.”

 

“An energy buildup…for what?” Red Falcon asked.

 

“I don’t know,” Cranston said.

 

“Don’t know or won’t tell me?” the Red Ranger asked.

 

“I honestly don’t know,” Cranston said.

 

“Only a habitual liar needs to emphasize when he’s being honest,” Red Falcon said.

 

Dax, we can banter later,” Cranston said. “The energy buildup’s sending shockwaves through the city. Only tremors so far, but they’re getting stronger.”

 

“Go it,” Red Falcon said. “Fortress bad.”

 

“It’s OK if you’re scared,” Cranston said. “Just get the job done.”

 

“Sacred?” Red Falcon asked as he armed his sword. “You do know how to goad me.”

 

“I know,” Cranston said. “Get moving.”

 

The Red Ranger dashed towards the bay doors.

 

***

 

Ian, Marcus, Cam and Kylie ran to the northern edge of the city. Still weakened and injured, they looked to see the VOLT fortress hover through the skies.

 

Ian shook his head. “I can’t believe Dax boarded that thing.”

 

“I can,” Marcus said. “He’s nuts.”

 

“That’s not it,” Kylie said. “He might not act like it, but he cares. About what happened to Academia. The Dark Shaper’s victims. And even Kaidaron and Caemlyn.”

 

Cam scoffed. “He has a funny way of showing it.”

 

“He’s showing it now,” Kylie said. “By stopping the Dark Shaper.”

 

The VOLT Fortress rippled with another invisible shockwave that shook the streets, shattering windows and cracking foundation.

 

Another shockwave erupted.

 

And then another, this one toppling several buildings into rubble.

 

***

 

Red Falcon slashed through a group of Mechaclones while dashing towards the center of the ship. He spun past the last grunt while slicing its head off with a burst of spark.

 

“That never gets old…” the Red Ranger said as he pulled out his Bio Blaster and opened fire on the door ahead.

 

The door blasted apart, and Red Falcon leapt through the opening. He found himself in a massive chamber surrounded by electronic diodes.

 

A mass of brain matter filled the center of the chamber, extending from the pit below to the ceiling above. Strands of electricity lashed from the diodes and splashed across the massive brain.

 

“What the…” Red Falcon said as he took a step back. “What the hell is this?”

 

“I call it the Giga Brain,” the Dark Shaper said as he stepped onto a balcony above.

 

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Red Falcon said. “You suck at naming things.”

 

The Dark Shaper smiled. “You amuse me more than any other Ranger I’ve come across. And I’ve come across plenty.”

 

“Okay…thanks?” Red Falcon said. The Red Ranger aimed his blaster at the Giga Brain. “Say goodbye to your Gigady Brain.”

 

“I wouldn’t do that,” the Dark Shaper said. “The chain reaction would blow up the entire ship, which would crash onto the city below, killing thousands.”

 

The Red Ranger hesitated and lowered his weapon.

 

The Dark Shaper nodded with satisfaction. “Very good. Now…aren’t you the least bit curious as to the purpose of my creation?”

 

“No, but I’ll humor you,” Red Falcon said.

 

“I targeted Academia for a very specific purpose,” the Dark Shaper said. “Just as my VOLT organization plotted all its targets with a very specific purpose.”

 

“And what’s that?” Red Falcon asked.

 

“Some of the more advanced minds on the planet are naturally attuned to dimensional planes. They have a great, intuitive understanding of the universe and how it works, on a quantum level,” the Dark Shaper said. “I’ve been harvesting their brains. Jaedus’s mind was the last I needed. With their combined attunement to the dimensional planes, I can open a rift and bring my home here, to your universe.”

 

“Your home?” Red Falcon asked.

 

“Some of you Rangers like to call it Demon World Earth,” the Dark Shaper said. “With the Giga Brain, I can align the vibrations of Demon World Earth and your Earth, merging the two into one.”

 

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard,” Red Falcon said. “Why would you do that?”

 

“Why?” the Dark Shaper asked. “My motive is no great mystery. My motive is immortality, for myself, and select others. Some are living. Others will be revived.”

 

“You can’t bring people back from the dead,” Red Falcon said.

 

“With the combined energies of Demon World Earth, and your Earth, Earth Prime, I can. And thanks to INET’s BOARD division, I know the perfect, immortal form the new human race will take.”

 

“You’re taking this mad scientist thing to a whole new level,” Red Falcon said.

 

“I watched everyone I care about die,” the Dark Shaper said. “My mother. My father. Kimberly…Now after a lifetime of work, after a lifetime of mastering biology and science, I can bring them all back. And no one, no one, will ever have to die again.”

 

“Except for all the people who actually die if you pull this off,” Red Falcon said.

 

“They’re…inconsequential,” the Dark Shaper said. “No one will survive the merge unless I grant them new, immortal forms. And new, perfect minds. Minds perfected through VOLT’s research.”

 

Red Falcon unsheathed his sword. “Okay. You’re done.”

 

The Red Ranger leapt towards the balcony. The Dark Shaper extended his hand and fired a burst of distortion energy that sparked against Red Falcon and whipped him backward. He crashed onto the deck below.

 

“I’m surprised you care,” the Dark Shaper said as he hurled a bolt of distortion energy.

 

The Red Ranger dove aside to avoid the blast. He rolled into a crouched position and fired his blaster at the villain.

 

The blasts ricocheted off a distortion field and shot back at the Red Ranger. The bolts sparked against his chest and whipped him backward.

 

Strands of electricity lashed from the diodes and whipped across the Red Ranger, snaking around his body with massive bursts of spark that forced him to his knees.

 

The electricity intensified and surged against the Ranger with flashes of light that tore his armor with bursts of spark.

 

A stray bolt blasted part of his faceplate and knocked him against the wall.

 

The Ranger collapsed as his armor powered down with a pulse of red light.

 

The Dark Shaper smiled wickedly at the fallen Ranger. “You were already too late, before you even stepped foot in here.”

 

The Giga Brain surged with a pulse of light that shook the ship.

 

***

 

A beam of light shot from the VOLT fortress and stabbed into space.

 

The energy beam pierced through reality and grasped onto another dimensional plane: The dimensional plane of Demon World Earth. Space rippled, and the fabric of reality itself folded.

 

The beam formed a portal the size of a planet, and through the portal passed Demon World Earth.

 

***

 

Demon World Earth blotted out the sun, casting an eclipse across the world. Only a quarter of Demon World Earth had passed through the portal. But the resulting distortions caused earthquakes and tsunamis across the globe.

 

Beams of mystical energy shot from Demon World Earth and splashed against Angel Grove. The beams served as teleportation conduits for the forces of the evil world. They conquered their whole universe, and they hungered for new territory.

 

The teleportation beams spread hordes of Saima demons, Youkai and wolfmen across the streets.

 

Dr. Cranston watched through the viewscreens embedded in his window. He placed his hand against the glass and activated a commline.

 

“Miss. Fairweather…activate the tracker in Blade’s Rider System,” Cranston said. “I’ll be needing him after all…”

 

To be continued…Chapter 43