Ultimate Overdrive: Recap

 

INET operated several different Initiatives, each with separate units. The Prevention and Recovery Initiative formed the SGS unit to track artifacts of great power codenamed Precious, before they could fall into evil hands.

 

SGS worked with a Ranger team: The Overdrive Task Force Titan Rangers. INET assigned the former Red Lightspeed Ranger, Max Mitchell, as the Titan’s tech support.

 

The Titans fought against two groups of villains, codenamed Negative Syndicates, during their first joint mission: Gajah, the demon who possessed the Ryujinn King during the time of the dinosaurs, and the Jaryuu Tribe, whose origins remained a mystery.

 

Chapter 08: Ultimate Overdrive

Dark Shadow

 

Max Mitchell didn’t hate his job. He just mistrusted the people he worked for. A lot.

 

He believed in the mission of the Overdrive Task Force and worked hard to help supply the tech and tools they needed to collect Precious, before they fell into the wrong hands.

 

Of course, being with INET isn’t exactly being in the right hands, he told himself. But it’s better than the alternative. At least here I can keep an eye on things.

 

Max wondered whether he could trust the Overdrive team with the truth: His suspicions about INET and its founder, Dr. Cranston. And this crazy Ranger Civil War that destroyed the Hayate Way and sent two Ranger teams fleeing from INET’s Initiatives.

 

The former Red Lightspeed Ranger sat back in his office chair and browsed the Overdrive team’s latest mission files.

 

***

 

PART ONE: Jake

 

Will, Jake and Rose visited the Japanese mansion of Hakumenrou, birth father of the late Ninjawhite, Trini Kwan.

 

A servant brought them a long wooden box and set it on the table in front of them.

 

“The master will see you soon,” the servant said with a bow, and then left the room.

 

Will arced an eyebrow. “So this is the Precious? It’s an old wooden box. That’s falling apart.”

 

“It’s Hakumenrou’s,” Jake said.

 

Will shook his head. “That means nothing to me.”

 

Hakumenrou was a scholar who studied legends of the Youkai,” Rose explained. “In the 1980s, he sensed the Youkai’s power growing and led a small expedition to seek them out. He went missing and was presumed dead.

 

“Then in 2002, when the Youkai returned, so did he — as one of their greatest soldiers. The Youkai leader, Daimamou, had captured him and given him power, turning him into an agent of the Youkai. But Hakumenrou secretly worked against Daimamou from within the Youkai, and he helped the Ninja Rangers defeat him.”

 

Rose nodded towards the box. “That box should have his sword. The Crane Blade. But legends say there was a second sword too, never used. The Crow Blade, the Lost Youkai Sword. Daimamou intended to give the blade to his heir…but the Rangers killed him first. It’s said that when the Crow Blade and Crane Blade unite, they have the power to destroy nations.”

 

Rose opened the box, to reveal a wooden scroll.

 

Will shook his head. “That doesn’t look like a sword.”

 

Jake knitted his brow. “I was sure this was it…”

 

A different servant walked into the room. She carried a tray of tea she set on the table.

 

Jake looked to her. “Excuse me, but did you guys bring us the wrong box?”

 

The woman tilted her head. “Hmm. Let me see…”

 

The servant lifted the scroll from the box.

 

Rose pulled out her Overdrive Tracker and flipped it open. She scanned the scroll, which showed positive as a Precious.

 

“Hazard Level 120,” she said.

 

Jake nodded. “I guess that is it then.”

 

He reached towards the scroll.

 

But the servant grabbed his hand. She smirked. “I guess you didn’t research the sword’s true form.”

 

bou-vi-shizukaShe flipped him to the ground and tore off her robe — a disguise. The young woman wore blue ninja armor and a helmet.

 

Rose stood and stepped into a defensive stance. “Who are you?”

 

The woman, Shizuka, ignored the question and looked to the scroll in her hand.

 

“According to legend, the swords are sealed in these scrolls when not in use. When the two volumes are brought together, the seal is released.”

 

Shizuka looked to Rose and smirked. “And the first volume now belongs to Dark Shadow.”

 

Shizuka leapt from the mansion, and the rangers followed. They armed their morphers.

 

“Overdrive! Start up!” They slid their trackers across their arms and sparked their morph into their Ranger forms.

 

The three Rangers blocked the villain’s path. But she unsheathed a pair of daggers and slashed towards them.

 

The Rangers dodged and dove aside to avoid her blades.  

 

Shizuka slashed towards Titan Blue. The Blue Ranger dodged and grabbed her arm. “You’re not acting very lady-like,” he said. “I don’t suppose we could talk this out? Maybe over some coffee?”

 

“You’re a naive one, aren’t you, Titan Ranger?”

 

She knocked his arms aside and kicked him backward.

 

Shizuka jumped onto the rooftop and leapt away.

 

Titan Black helped the Blue Ranger to his feet, and the three teammates regrouped.

 

Titan Black shook his head as he looked around the landscape. “She got away…”

 

***

 

Will, Jake and Rose regrouped with Shane and Kelsey at SGS base, hidden beneath the Angel Grove Museum of Mythology.

 

The main viewscreen activated, and an image appeared. The image should have looked like a normal human with a normal voice, a high-ranking INET official. But Max tweaked the monitor as a practical joke. The man appeared as a cartoon image, an upside-down cone with round eyes, a black mustache and crowned head. The scrambled audio made the voice sound high pitched and nasally. When the rangers asked who the image represented, Max always smiled and said: “Call him Mr. Voice.”

 

Mr. Voice’s cartoon eyes narrowed. “You must find the second scroll. The Negative Syndicate has one. And we have none.”

 

“Which group is this?” Jake asked.

 

“Dark Shadow,” Mr. Voice said. “Remnants of different ninja factions…”

 

***

 

bou-vi-yaibaA small hut sat in the woods south of Angel Grove. A warrior covered head to toe with blue armor made a campfire within the hut. White fur wrapped from his helmet around his shoulders, and he gazed through a yellow visor.

 

Shizuka stepped into the hut.

 

Shizuka has returned!” she said with excitement as she carried the scroll. “Look, Yami no Yaiba!”

 

“You are not finished yet, Shizuka,” Yaiba said.

 

Shizuka knitted her brow. “You don’t need to talk down at me. I’ll get the second scroll too.”

 

“It’s naïve thinking like that…” Yaiba said as he stood, “that let such a peculiar fellow follow you.”

 

Shizuka turned to see Gajah standing at the entrance to the hut.

 

Shizuka narrowed her eyes. “Who are you?”

 

“Your Dark Shadow’s goal would interfere with the ones called the Titan Rangers, yes?” Gajah asked. “If so…”

 

The villain dropped pebbles ono the ground and whispered an incantation. The pebbles shifted, combined, and took shape while rising to form a group of Karths.

 

Shizuka tilted her head. “You’re lending us your help?”

 

Yaiba walked towards the rear of the hut. “Whether we accept your power or not, is for our head to decide.”

 

Rice paper walls opened, revealing a hidden chamber. A blue owl sat perched within the chamber. He called himself Maboroshi no Gekkou.

 

In 2003, the Ninja Rangers defeated the last of the scattered Youkai. Or so they thought. Just enough energy remained to form one last Youkai: Gekkou.  

 

Slips of paper fluttered around the villain. The paper settled onto the floor in front of him, next to an antique sewing machine and pile of laser discs.

 

“That which has led many lives,” he said, “now receive new life. Kage Ninpo! Tsukumogami Henge no Jutsu!

 

Gekkou’s eyes glowed with yellow energy, and his body ebbed with a blue aura.

 

The kanji on the slips of paper mirrored the glow and fluttered about the sewing machine and laser discs. Some myths said ancient devices came to possess a life force of sorts because of their longevity. Gekkou used this dormant energy, mixed with his own spells and power, to create monsters known as Tsukumogami.

 

bou-vi-tsukumogamiThe laser discs and sewing machine combined with a burst of dark light and formed the Tsukumogami called Jougami.

 

Jougami fired blue energy beams that blasted the Karths to pieces.

 

Shizuka unsheathed her dagger and placed the weapon to Gajah’s throat. “Too bad.”

 

Gajah merely laughed. “Very well, Shadows. I will watch…to see how powerful you are.”

 

The villain stepped backward and shimmered out of sight.

 

***

 

The rangers learned a businessman named Yamatoni Kazuma owned the scroll that contained the Crow Blade. He spent years collecting artifacts left behind by the Youkai after their defeat, although all except the Crow Blade contained no power.

 

SGS contacted him to formally request the scroll, but he refused to hand it over. The organization asked him to think of others, and not just himself, but he still refused.

 

So the rangers went undercover to infiltrate a nighttime party hosted by Kazuma. 

 

Soon, the man discovered the identities of Will and Jake.

 

Kazuma invited the rangers to his office.

 

“I’ve been waiting,” Kazuma said through a speaker as the rangers approached his door. “Please, come in.”

 

Jake and Will stepped inside.

 

Kazuma sat behind his wide desk with the scroll in hand.

 

“Welcome,” he said as he set the scroll aside and stood. “I have something interesting to show you…”

 

He swerved his laptop to face the rangers. The laptop showed several pictures of Jake in various disguises, working secretive exchanges.

 

Will walked closer to the screen and looked to Jake. “Is that you?”

 

Kazuma smiled as he walked towards the rangers. “You spent the past two years as an international spy…one of the youngest, for INET, I believe. You can get into any country, any business, and obtain their most classified information.”

 

“In other words, a spy,” Jake said with a hint of pride.

 

“I’m sure it was a thrill,” Kazuma said. “Risking your life for information. Someone like you should understand how I feel. When you steal a business or country’s secrets, are you considering others then?”

 

“I didn’t,” Jake said. “I liked the thrill. The rush. That’s why I did it.”

 

Kazuma smiled. “We really are the same.” He lifted the scroll. “To obtain this scroll, I felt the same rush. The same thrill.”

 

“We’re not the same,” Jake said. “Eventually, I learned how many people I hurt…when companies fell apart. Their sadness. Their despair…I didn’t want to cause that anymore.”

 

“Are you trying to lecture me?”

 

“If that scroll falls into evil hands, people are going to get hurt,” Jake said. “It’s a weapon…”

 

Suddenly, a shadowy portal opened in the rear of the room. Jougami and Shizuka stepped through the opening.

 

The ninja woman smiled and waved mockingly. “Good evening…”

 

Kazuma staggered backward, his eyes open wide with shock. “Who- Who are you?!”

 

Shizuka placed a hand on the monster’s shoulder. “Jougami can pass through any wall. Now…Jougami, take the volume.”

 

The monster unwrapped its scroll and summoned the Crane Blade with a flash of white light. The creature swung the weapon and fired a wave of wind that blew Kazuma and the rangers to the floor.

 

Slowly, Kazuma climbed to his knees and clutched his own scroll. “That’s…a weapon.”

 

Shizuka crouched next to him and plucked the scroll from his hand. “I’ll take that,” she said with a cheerful smile. “Thanks for playing.”

 

Jake and Will rushed to attack. But Jougami fired a volley of laser discs. The rangers dove for cover as the discs tore through the desk and walls.

 

Alarms blared as automated security systems kicked in: “INTRUDERS DETECTED”

 

Lasers emerged from the corners and opened fire at Will and Jake. The rangers rolled across the floor as the blasts scorched the carpeting.

 

The blasts ignored Shizuka and Jougami, thanks to the monster’s laser discs.

 

Shizuka walked casually across the room while holding the scroll. “Nice security…” She looked to the Blue Ranger. “Bye, bye, you naïve little boy.”

 

Jougami opened a portal, and the villains stepped through it. The shadow snapped shut behind them.

 

Jake narrowed his eyes at the wall. “That monster crossed the security system.”

 

“Impossible!” Kazuma said. “My system is perfect!”

 

Kazuma stood and lifted his security badge towards the nearest camera. “It’s me!” he shouted. “Yamatoni Kazuma!”

 

The lasers targeted him and opened fire. But Jake tackled him out of the way so the blasts missed.

 

***

 

“Ha!” Shizuka said with amusement as she and Jougami stepped from the building. “Smile, Jougami. We did it!”

 

“Dark Shadow!” Shane shouted as he, Rose and Kelsey ran to the scene. “We’re not letting you take that scroll.”

 

The rangers armed their morphers.

 

“Overdrive! Start up!” They slid their morphers across their arms to spark their transformation into their Ranger armor.

 

Titan Red, Titan Yellow and Titan Pink charged to attack.

 

Shizuka and Jougami returned the charge.

 

***

 

Will and Jake crouched behind a desk with Kazuma. The security laser blasted the walls and floor around them.

 

Will peaked from cover but quickly ducked when the laser blasted the desk.

 

“What kind of security is this?” he asked.

 

Jake looked to Kazuma. “It detects motion and attacks, right?”

 

“Y- Yes,” Kazuma stuttered.

 

“Okay,” Jake said. “So let’s get out.”

 

“Yeah, it’s that easy,” Will said sarcastically. “How?”

 

Jake smirked and pulled out a tracker chip. “Like this.”

 

He snapped the chip so it bounced across the floor. The laser targeted the chip and blasted in its direction as it skipped across the carpet. 

 

“Now.” Jake grabbed Kazuma and ran towards the door as Will followed.

 

The laser swerved towards the trio and opened fire. But they leapt through the door just in time.

 

Will rolled to his feet, leaned against the wall and sighed with relief. His relief was short lived — more lasers dropped from the ceiling and opened fire.

 

Will cursed beneath his breath and dashed down the hall. Jake followed while dragging Kazuma.

 

Security doors started slamming shut behind them.

 

Kazuma struggled to keep up with the rangers, staggered and fell.

 

Jake crouched at the man’s side and grabbed hold of him. The ranger armed his tracker and fired its grappler. The grappler attached to the other end of the hallway and retracted, reeling the two down the hall to safety as the last of the security doors slammed shut.

 

In the clear, Jake leaned onto his back and smiled. “That was fun…”

 

***

 

Outside, Titan Pink and Titan Yellow armed their Drive Defenders in blade mode and surrounded Shizuka.

 

The villain twirled her daggers and parried their blows with bursts of spark. She slashed Titan Yellow aside and kicked Titan Pink backward.

 

Nearby, Titan Red slashed his Drive Defender at Jougami. The monster wielded the Crane Blade and parried the blows with bursts of spark.

 

***

 

Kazuma scrambled out of the hallway and collapsed. Jake and Will followed, and Jake leaned against the wall. The ranger rubbed his shoulder and smiled.

 

“Man, that hurt,” he said.

 

Kazuma scowled and climbed to his feet. “What’s the big joke? Is my near death experience funny to you?”

 

“Not funny. Fun,” Jake said. “An adventure.”

 

Kazuma glared. “Adventure…?”

 

Jake nodded. “Saving people. Saving you, even,” he said. “It’s a thrill nothing else comes close to. It took me a while to finally learn that.”

 

A laser dropped from the ceiling. Jake grabbed Kazuma and dashed the only direction he could — towards the window.

 

They crashed through the upper-story window and plummeted towards the ground below.

 

Jake armed his tracker. “Start up!”

 

He morphed into Titan Blue and armed his fan gauntlet. “Drive Vortex!”

 

The Blue Ranger aimed downward and fired a vortex of wind that slowed their decent.

 

Kazuma opened his eyes wide with shock and awe. “Who are you?!”

 

“Titan Blue,” he said as they landed.

 

The Blue Ranger set Kazuma aside. “This is the path I chose…”

 

Titan Black dropped next to them, having used his grappler to jump through the window.

 

“Not bad,” he said to his teammate.

 

“Thanks,” Titan Blue said.

 

The two Rangers ran towards their comrades.

 

Nearby, Titan Pink and Titan Yellow crashed and rolled across the street. Titan Red moved to their side, and they regrouped to face Shizuka and Jougami.

 

Titan Black and Titan Blue jumped from behind the villains and landed near their fellow Rangers.

 

The Titans snapped into fighting stances.

 

“Titan Blue!”

 

“Titan Black!”

 

“Titan Yellow!”

 

“Titan Pink!”

 

“Titan Red!”

 

“Overdrive Task Force! Titan Rangers!”

 

Shizuka smiled. “Impressive,” she said as she clutched the scroll. “But I’m not giving this up.”

 

She patted the monster on the shoulder and started to walk away. “Jougami, you take care of the rest.”

 

Jougami fired a blue energy beam. Titan Black and Titan Blue dove aside. But the bolt blasted the other three Rangers with bursts of spark that whipped them backward.

 

Titan Blue and Titan Black charged and armed their weapons.

 

“Drive Vortex!”

 

“Drive Slammer!”

 

The Blue Ranger lunged with his gauntlet and punched Jougami with a massive burst of spark that forced him several steps backward.

 

The monster spun and slashed. Titan Blue ducked beneath the blow and used his gauntlet to punch the monster with a burst of spark.

 

Titan Black jumped towards Jougami from behind and smashed his weapon against the monster. He spun forward, bashed the monster, and then swung upward, smashing the monster with a burst of spark that whipped him off his feet.

 

The monster crashed and rolled to his feet. He swung the Crane Blade, which fired a wave of wind energy. The blast thrashed the two Rangers with bursts of spark that hurled them backward.

 

Titan Red, Titan Yellow and Titan Pink leapt at the monster from the side.

 

“Drive Defenders!”

 

They fired orange energy pulses that blasted the monster with bursts of spark.

 

The five Rangers regrouped.

 

Titan Red attached his Overdrive Tracker to the side of his Drive Defender, and the other Rangers did the same.

 

“Drive Defender, Sniper Mode!” he shouted.

 

They aimed their blasters at Jougami. “Climax Charge!”

 

They fired energy bursts that combined into a single blast, which tore through the monster with massive bursts of spark. Jougami collapsed as secondary explosions ripped through his body.

 

***

 

Gekkou’s eyes glowed red within the Dark Shadow hut. He whispered an incantation as scrolls fluttered around him.

 

Kage Ninpo! Oogami no Jutsu!

 

The scrolls shot from the hut.

 

***

 

Scrolls splashed against Jougami’s body and infused him with power. The monster grew giant and gripped the Crane Blade in hand.

 

Titan Black looked up and took a step back. “So ninjas can do pretty much anything, huh?”

 

The Rangers flipped open their Overdrive Trackers. “Driver-zords, mobilize!”

 

“LAUNCH SHIFT, ON! DUMP! SPEED! GYRO! DOZER! SUB! GO. GO!”

 

The Driver-zords launched and sped towards the scene. The Rangers rushed into their cockpits and connected their portable control panels — Titan Drivers. They attached their Overdrive Trackers to their consoles.

 

The Red Ranger pressed a button on his tracker: “FUSION SYSTEM, ON!”

 

“DUMP!”

 

“GYRO!”

 

“SPEED!”

 

“DOZER!”

 

“SUB!”

 

The Red Ranger swiped the device’s small wheel, sparking a charge: “TITAN FORMATION!”

 

The five zords shifted shape and combined to form a massive robo. The Rangers grabbed their Titan Drivers, and their chairs slid to a central cockpit. They slid their Titan Drivers into place.

 

DriveMax Megazord!” Titan Red shouted. “Titan Robo!”

 

They attached their Overdrive Trackers to their Titan Drivers. “First Gear, in!”  

 

DriveMax Megazord Saber!”

 

The Megazord armed its blade and charged. Titan Robo slashed Jougami with a burst of spark and then swung a back-hand slash, which struck the monster and knocked him several steps backward.

 

Jougami swung the Crane Blade. The blade clashed against the Megazord’s sword, but triggered a blast of wind energy that hurled the Megazord backward.

 

Titan Red gripped his controls. “That sword is strong…”

 

Titan Pink nodded. “We can’t let it combine with the second one.”

 

Jougami shifted his blade into a fighting stance. The weapon crackled with white energy.

 

“You have no chance of winning…” he taunted.

 

From below, Shizuka looked towards the monster. “The second scroll.” She thrust the scroll upward. “Use it!”

 

…Nothing happened.

 

“What?” she looked at the scroll, which remained folded and normal. She opened it to see a picture of Kazuma. “A fake?”

 

“The real one is here!” Kazuma shouted as he ran closer to the fight. He unbuttoned his shirt, revealing the scroll wrapped around his waist. “Rangers, it’s here!”

 

Jougami tightened his grip on his weapon. “You bastard!”

 

He stomped and just missed Kazuma, who ran frantically to avoid the giant.

 

Kazuma took off the scroll, wrapped it, and threw it towards the Titan Robo.

 

The Megazord leaned down and grabbed the scroll.

 

Kazuma leaned over and tried to catch his breath. He couldn’t help but smile. “So…this is an adventure?”

 

Max appeared on the Rangers’ communications monitor. “Guys, you can use the scroll. Your Megazord’s Parallel Engine can siphon energy from it.”

 

“Let’s try it,” Titan Red said as he activated his console.

 

The Titan Robo grasped tightly onto the small scroll, which pulsed with dark light. The light washed through the Megazord and into the robo’s saber.

 

The DriveMax Megazord swung through a streak of dark energy that slashed the monster with massive bursts of spark. The blow sent the creature staggering backward, and he dropped the Crane Blade, which pulsed with golden light, returned into its scroll, and dropped to the street.

 

Kazuma scrambled towards the scroll and picked it up.

 

Above, the Titan Robo advanced.

 

DriveMax Megazord Saber!” Titan Red shouted. “Titan Slash!”

 

The Megazord’s engines whined with power, and the sword vibrated with energy. Titan Robo swung the blade through a crescent arc, then chopped through a streak of energy that ripped Jougami apart with massive bursts of spark.

 

The giant collapsed and exploded into ash.

 

Below, Shizuka sighed and sagged her shoulders. “They’re pretty good….”

 

She shook her head and sulked away.

 

***

 

Later, the rangers met with Kazuma outside his building. He handed Jake the Crow Scroll.

 

“Here…” he said. “Take care of it. Don’t ever let it get into the hands of another idiot like me.”

 

Jake smirked. “We’ll do that.”

 

Kazuma smiled and looked to the distance. “Maybe I’ll give it a try…Doing something to try helping the people of this messed up world…”

 

Jake nodded. “It’s a lot more fun than it sounds,” he said. “Trust me.”

 

Will sighed. “You two are starting to sound like an after-school special.”

 

Kelsey smiled. “I like it. So…what’s next?”

 

***

 

Hakumenrou stood at the window of his mansion. “First the Ryujinn. Now Dark Shadow. The remnants of your past enemies are returning…”

 

Tommy Oliver stepped from the rear of the room. “You let them take the Crane Blade.”

 

Hakumenrou nodded. “They’ll keep it safe. At least for now.”

 

“You can’t trust INET,” Tommy said.

 

“I know,” Hakumenrou said with a nod. “But my sword is the least of your problems.”

 

Tommy nodded. “I can’t argue with that.”

 

“Did you find what you needed?” Hakumenrou asked.

 

Tommy nodded. “I did.”

 

“And you know the risk of using it?” he asked. “That dark ninpo…”

 

“I know,” Tommy said. “But it’s a risk I have to take. And just one piece of the puzzle.”

 

“I don’t suppose you’ll tell me what you’re planning,” he said.

 

“Actually, I will,” Tommy said. “After the Second Countdown, the original Rangers lost their powers. The Kidenjuu. Muteki Shogun. The Seijuu…all of them. I’m bringing them all back.”

 

***

 

PART TWO: Rose

 

Two black sedans pulled into a dark warehouse. A man with dark sunglasses stepped out of one vehicle, and a young woman stepped out of the other car.

 

The woman walked towards the man while carrying a briefcase.

 

The man smiled, pulled a small case from his pocket, and flipped it open. The case contained a small gem.

 

“There’s no doubt about it. This is the Gem,” he said. “I finally have it. Now…for my payment?”

 

The woman lifted the gem from its case.

 

“Your payment,” the woman said as she lifted her suitcase. “Yes, about that…”

 

She tore off her clothes to reveal her true guise: Shizuka.

 

bou-vi-takumigamiA Tsukumogami monster stepped behind the man and placed its barrel arm to his back. Dark Shadow created this monster with 15th-17th century firearms called arquebus. They called the creature Takumigami.

 

The man sighed and raised his hands. He turned to face his attacker and screamed at the sight of the creature.

 

Takumigami, make sure to handle the clean-up,” Shizuka told the monster.

 

The monster thrust its barrel to fire. But before it could, explosions sparked against his back and knocked him forward.

 

Shizuka looked to see the Titan Rangers step into the warehouse.

 

“Dark Shadow,” Titan Pink said. “Hand over the Precious.”

 

“Um, no, I don’t think I’ll be doing that,” Shizuka said. “Takumigami, get them.”

 

The monster fired cannon bursts that exploded around the Rangers as they dove and rolled for cover.

 

Titan Pink rolled into a crouched stance and pulled out her Drive Defender in blaster mode.

 

Takumigami fired cannon bursts. But Titan Pink fired back with orange energy bursts that blasted the cannonballs from the air with bursts of spark.

 

The monster growled with annoyance. “What?!”

 

Titan Blue looked to his teammate with pride. “Glad those sniping skills of yours come in handy.”

 

Takumigami fired a cannon blast. Titan Pink blasted the cannonball, which ricocheted towards Shizuka and exploded around her feet with bursts of spark.

 

The villain staggered backward and lost her grip on the gem, which flew through the air. The gem landed outside the warehouse and skipped across the pavement.

 

Shizuka ran towards the warehouse doors. But the Rangers blocked her path.

 

Titan Red pointed at the villain. “We’re not letting you get that gem.”

 

The villain pouted and stomped her foot. “No fair.” She looked to the monster. “Takumigami, those guys are mean! Here…”

 

She pulled out a paper drawing of a cannon and let the monster grab it.

 

Takumigami crumpled the paper and placed it in his chest chamber. “Blueprints, input.”

 

The monster’s body shifted and steamed, and a cannon formed on the creature’s left shoulder.

 

The cannon fired a massive burst that exploded around the Rangers and scattered them across the warehouse. 

 

Titan Red rolled to his feet near Titan Pink. He looked to his teammate. “Go get the Precious. We’ll take care of Dark Shadow…”

 

Titan Pink nodded and ran from the warehouse.

 

***

 

The Pink Ranger ran outside and used her tracker to trace the gem’s signal.

 

She turned a corner and saw a boy on a bike. The boy leaned from his bicycle and picked up the gem, which had skipped from the warehouse.

 

“Hey you,” Titan Pink said as she stepped closer to the boy. He opened his eyes wide with shock and stepped back. “Hand over the stone.”

 

Shizuka ran outside.

 

Titan Pink snapped around and aimed her blaster at the villain. She looked over her shoulder towards the boy.

 

“That bad person is after that gem,” Titan Pink said. “Run. Keep it safe.”

 

The boy clutched the gem, nodded, and ran off.

 

Shizuka started to run after him. But the Pink Ranger triggered orange energy bursts that blasted the villain with showers of spark.

 

The villain sighed with annoyance. “I’ll get that gem,” she said. “You’ll see!”

 

She snapped a smoke bomb that exploded around the Ranger with bursts of spark and smoke.

 

When the smoke cleared, Shizuka was gone.

 

***

 

Rose powered down her armor and ran after the boy. She found him close by, leaning over his bike and breathing heavily.

 

“Hey you,” she shouted as she ran towards him. “Thank you. I’ll take that gem now…”

 

The boy clutched the gem and took a step back. “Stay back…Don’t touch me!”

 

“But it’s me,” Rose said as she pulled out her tracker.

 

She flipped it open to morph.

 

But the boy hopped on his bike and rode away.

 

Rose sighed and ran after him. “Hey!” she shouted. “Wait!”

 

“Go away!” the boy shouted as he pedaled faster. “There’s a hero counting on me. You’re not getting this gem!”

 

Rose managed to dash in front of him and stop the bike by the handle bars.

 

“It’s OK, just hand over the gem,” she said. “It’s not a kid’s toy.”

 

“No!” the boy shouted.

 

Rose narrowed her eyes. “Listen. You’ve got to-”

 

“Help!” the boy shouted. “This stranger won’t leave me alone! She says she has candy and wants me to get in her van! Help!”

 

Rose took a step back and looked around. A few passersby noticed and glanced in her direction.

 

The ranger hesitated, giving the boy enough time to drop his bike and run.

 

***

 

The boy stopped running on a pedestrian bridge nearby. He leaned against the railing and looked at the gem.

 

Rose walked towards him.

 

“Hey,” she said gently. “Thanks for protecting that gem…The one who needed you to protect it? She’s a friend.”

 

The boy knitted his brow. “That sounds like something a bad guy would say. To trick me!”

 

“It’s OK,” Rose said with an awkward smile as she leaned towards him. “You can trust me.”

 

The boy shook his head and stepped by. “That’s not a real smile…You’re a fake!”

 

He turned and ran.

 

Rose sighed.

 

“A fake…” she whispered.

 

Her mind flashed back to a few days ago.

 

A young boy cried in the Angel Grove Museum of Mythology. Rose leaned next to him.

 

“Why are you crying?” she asked. “Hey…What’s your name? Where are your parents?”

 

The boy kept crying. Nearby, Kelsey noticed and walked towards him. She leaned down, placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder and smiled.

 

“Hi,” Kelsey said.

 

The boy looked to Kelsey and stopped crying.

 

“It’s OK,” Kelsey said. “We’ll find your parents. In the meantime, come on. We’ll have a look around. Want to see something cool?”

 

The boy sniffed back his tears and nodded.

 

“Good,” Kelsey said as she took the boy’s hand. “Come with me.”

 

Kelsey led the boy around the museum as Rose watched.

 

Shane stepped up beside his teammate. “When kids feel scared like that, you should try smiling.”

 

Rose shook her head. “I can’t smile if there’s nothing funny.”

 

“You’re too serious,” Shane said. “You should try smiling like a kid sometime. To really enjoy an adventure…a part of you needs to be like a child.”

 

“I…” Rose said. “I don’t plan to enjoy adventures. I plan to get our missions done. That’s all.”

 

“Noah!” the boy’s mother called as she moved towards her son and swept him in a hug. “Noah, are you OK?”

 

The boy smiled and nodded. “She played with me. You should see what she showed me. It’s so cool!”

 

The mother looked to Kelsey and smiled. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”

 

Kelsey smiled and nodded. “It wasn’t a problem.”

 

Rose’s tracker beeped, and she answered. “This is Pink,” she said. “Go ahead.”

 

“Pink,” Shane said. “What’s the status of the gem?”

 

“I’m…” she hesitated. “I should have it soon.”

 

“Did something happen?” Shane asked. “I’m not sure-”

 

“I’ll have it soon, chief,” she said. “Don’t worry.”

 

***

 

Shane joined Max in the former ranger’s office.

 

“So what is it about the gem that makes it so valuable?” Shane asked.

 

“As far as I can tell, it powers some sort of land vehicle as big as a zord,” Max said. “The attack power’s got to be overwhelming. We may need the Shovel Driver to stop it.”

 

bou-gg-shovelMax called up the specs for a new Drive-zord, the Shovel Driver.

 

“The Shovel Driver,” Shane said. “Is it ready?”

 

“Of course,” Max said.

 

Shane nodded. “Good. Let’s hope we don’t need it.”

 

“Oh, we will,” Max said. “If not this time, then the next time. Or the time after that. You always need a new zord, eventually. Always.”

 

***

 

The boy ran through a nearly empty train station as Rose followed.

 

“Wait!” she shouted. “Please!”

 

The boy ducked behind a corner, leaned against the wall, and breathed deep to catch his breath.

 

Rose turned the corner and tried to act as non-threatening as possible.

 

“It’s no use,” she said. “If you’re going to board the train, you need a ticket.”

 

She handed him a train ticket.

 

The boy hesitated. “You bought me…a ticket?”

 

Rose nodded.

 

The boy tilted his head quizzically, then reached out and took the ticket.

 

He looked up at Rose and arced an eyebrow. “Has anyone ever told you you’re too serious?”

 

“Found you!” an excited voice called from the other end of the subway.

 

Rose and the boy looked to see Shizuka walk towards them. The ranger stood protectively in front of the child.

 

Shizuka smiled. “Boy…why don’t you hand over the gem?”

 

Rose thrust her tracker and triggered its flash, which blinded the villain. She took a step back, and when her vision cleared, the ranger and boy were gone.

 

Shizuka grunted with annoyance and stomped her foot. 

 

***

 

Rose took the boy by the hand and led him between several train cars. They ducked between two boxcars to try to lose Shizuka.

 

But the villain caught up with them.

 

“It’s really no use,” Shizuka called out. “I’ll find you, eventually.”

 

Rose looked to the boy. “You should run. I’ll hold her off.”

 

“But…” the boy hesitated and looked down. “I…I can’t.”

 

Rose stepped closer to the boy. I can’t look worried. If I do…it will just scare him. Make it worse.

 

She took him by the cheeks, gently lifted his face, and smiled. She crouched down in front of him.

 

“It’s going to be OK,” she said. “I promise.”

 

The boy nodded. “O…OK.”

 

She took his hand, which held the gem. “Be sure not to let go of this gem.”

 

The boy smiled and nodded.

 

Rose dashed from behind the boxcar and faced Shizuka. Shizuka! I’m here!”

 

They charged towards each other to attack.

 

Shizuka unsheathed her knifes and slashed repeatedly. But the ranger blocked and dodged the blows while circling around her opponent.

 

Nearby, the boy leaned from behind a boxcar and watched.

 

Shizuka spotted him. But Rose grabbed the villain before she could go after the boy.

 

“Run!” Rose shouted to him. “You have to run!”

 

The boy nodded and ran. He dashed from the line of trains and entered an industrial zone, where Takumigami dropped to the ground to block his path.

 

“Found it,” the monster said. “The gem!”

 

The boy screamed and staggered backward.

 

Back at the train yard, Rose heard the boy’s scream. She ducked to dodge a knife swing, then stepped back to dodge another slash.

 

The ranger kicked the villain backward and dashed towards the industrial area.

 

Rose turned a corner to see Takumigami grab the boy and lift him by the arm.

 

“Let him go!” Rose shouted.

 

Shizuka followed the ranger to the scene. “Good job, Takumigami!”

 

“Give me the gem!” the monster shouted.

 

“No!” the boy shouted. “I won’t let you have it! I won’t let it go! I promised!”

 

Takumigami grabbed the gem and threw the boy aside. He crashed and skid across the pavement.

 

Rose ran to his side. “No…” she said. He lost consciousness, but still breathed. “Please be OK. Please…”

 

Takumigami laughed as he held the gem.

 

Shizuka smiled and walked towards him. “We finally have it. The gem! It’s ours!”

 

Takumigami scanned the gem, which although mystical, held the key to unlocking an armored weapon. He couldn’t access the weapon itself, but scanned the gem’s magical data.

 

The monster inserted the gem into his chest. “Blueprints, input.”

 

His body shifted shaped and attracted the nearby construction equipment like a magnet. The machines piled on top of the monster, combined, and expanded into a shell-shaped tank equipped with a buzz saw. The monster tank grew giant.

 

Rose shook her head with disbelief. “He used the gem’s power…to do that?”

 

Takumigami!” Shizuka shouted. “Use the tank’s power to destroy the city! Or…at least a block or two. It’ll be great publicity! Everyone in the world will want to buy a weapon just like you! Now go!”

 

The tank roared with power and throttled into the city.

 

Below, Rose lifted the unconscious boy and ran to safety. She set him aside and looked towards the distance, where the monster caused a path of destruction.

 

“Now…” she whispered. “What do I do?”

 

“Pink,” Shane said as he walked onto the scene.

 

She turned to face him. “Chief…I’m sorry. I-”

 

“Looks like he’s OK,” Shane said as he looked to the boy. “You let him get away with the gem…so you wanted to get it back yourself…”

 

Rose nodded.

 

Shane looked towards the monster in the distance. “Only the Shovel Driver can stop that thing,” he said. “You want to take care of this yourself? Do it till the end.”

 

Rose nodded and armed her tracker. “Overdrive! Start up!”

 

She slid her tracker across her arm and sparked her morph into Titan Pink.

 

She flipped open her tracker. “Number Seven. Shovel.”

 

She slid the tracker across her arm: “LAUNCH SHIFT, ON! SHOVEL! GO. GO!”

 

The Shovel Driver launched and rode to the scene. The Pink Ranger dashed into the cockpit and attached her tracker to the zord’s portable console.

 

“Shovel Driver!” she shouted. “Attack!”

 

The Shovel Driver and monster tank sped towards each other head on.

 

“Shovel Arm!” Titan Pink shouted.

 

The zord’s shovel crashed against the tank’s saw with bursts of spark. The machines pressed against each other, wheels screeching against the street and kicking up dirt and debris.

 

The monster rushed forward with a sudden burst of speed and rammed the Driver-zord onto its side.

 

Below, the boy stirred awake just as a nearby support beam snapped loose from the battle. Titan Pink watched the beam fall towards the child.

 

“No!” she shouted as she swung the shovel arm. “I won’t make it…”

 

Suddenly, a zord’s arms grabbed the beam and lifted it away from the boy. Titan Red used his Dump Driver to set the beam aside.

 

Titan Pink looked at the boy through her cockpit.

 

“Now’s your chance to run!” she shouted through the zord’s speakers. “Go!”

 

The boy scrambled to his feet and ran.

 

“Pink!” Titan Red said. “Now!”

 

Titan Pink nodded. “Right, chief.”

 

She used the shovel arm to tilt her zord upright.

 

Shovel Driver throttled towards the monster tank, chopped its shovel, and snapped the saw from the enemy machine.

 

“Shovel swing!” Titan Pink shouted.

 

The shovel arm grabbed the monster tank, spun, and hurled it aside. The tank crashed and exploded with a shockwave that reverted Takumigami to normal and separated him from the gem.

 

Normal sized, the monster and gem crashed and skipped across the street.

 

***

 

Gekkou’s eyes glowed red within the Dark Shadow hut. “Takumigami, fix your reckless failure!”

 

He whispered an incantation as scrolls fluttered around him.

 

Kage Ninpo! Oogami no Jutsu!

 

The scrolls shot from the hut.

 

***

 

The scrolls slapped against the monster and infused him with energy. Takumigami expanded and grew giant.

 

The monster fired cannon blasts that exploded around Shovel Driver with massive bursts of spark, knocking Titan Pink within the cockpit.

 

Suddenly, explosions sparked against the monster and knocked him several steps backward.

 

Titan Pink looked to see the Speed Driver throttle onto the scene.

 

“You made this mess all by yourself?” Titan Black asked.

 

The Gyro Driver swooped down from the sky.

 

“That doesn’t mean you have to fix it by yourself,” Titan Blue said.

 

The Dozer Driver rode onto the scene.

 

“We’re here for you,” Titan Yellow said.

 

“Guys…” Titan Pink said.

 

“Alright,” Titan Red said. “Let’s combine.”

 

The Red Ranger pressed a button on his tracker: “FUSION SYSTEM, ON!”

 

“DUMP!”

 

“GYRO!”

 

“SPEED!”

 

“DOZER!”

 

“SUB!”

 

The Red Ranger swiped the device’s small wheel, sparking a charge: “TITAN FORMATION!”

 

The five zords shifted shape and combined to form a massive robo. The Rangers grabbed their Titan Drivers, and their chairs slid to a central cockpit. They slid their Titan Drivers into place.

 

DriveMax Megazord!” Titan Red called out. “Titan Robo!”

 

Titan Red pressed a button on his tracker: “TITAN SHIFT, ON! SHOVEL! POWER, ON!”

 

bou-gg-roboshovelThe Shovel Driver shifted, formed a new right arm, and snapped into place on the robo.

 

DriveMax Megazord!” the Rangers shouted. “Shovel Driver, equipped!”

 

The monster fired cannon blasts that streaked towards the Megazord.

 

“Shovel defense!” Titan Pink shouted.

 

The Megazord used its shovel arm to block the blasts with bursts of spark.

 

Titan Robo swatted the last cannon blast aside, lunged, used its shovel arm to grab the monster, and hurled him aside.

 

Slowly, the monster climbed to its feet.

 

“Final attack,” Titan Red commanded.

 

“Shovel Knuckle!” Titan Pink shouted.

 

The shovel energized, smashed the monster with bursts of spark, smashed the monster again, and slammed against the creature a final time with a massive burst of spark.

 

The impact hurled the monster backward, and its body exploded into pieces.

 

***

 

The rangers searched the industrial park for the gem after the battle.

 

Will sighed with frustration. “You’re sure it fell around here?”

 

“Just look for it,” Shane said.

 

Kelsey smiled as she watched Rose search. “I wish I could have seen you. Rose chasing around a kid? What a sight.”

 

Rose blushed. “Use codenames during missions.”

 

“Come to think of it, why didn’t you just morph in front of him?” Jake asked.

 

“We’re supposed to be a secret team,” Rose said.

 

Will arced an eyebrow. “Do you not see the jackets we’re wearing? They’re not very subtle.”

 

Kelsey looked to see the boy walk to the scene. “Hey…is that him?”

 

The boy walked towards Rose and held out the gem.

 

Rose crouched next to him. “You kept it safe? This whole time?”

 

The boy nodded. “I made a promise…”

 

“I’ll…” Rose said. “I’ll go get the Pink Ranger. You can give it to her.”

 

The boy took her by the wrist and put the gem in her hand. “You’re her friend, right? You can give it to her…”

 

“Really?” Rose asked.

 

The boy nodded. MmmHmm. And…I’m sorry.”

 

Rose smiled at him, and he smiled back. The boy let go of her arm and ran towards the distance.

 

***

 

Tommy Oliver leaned against a nearby wall with his arms crossed over his chest.

 

The boy ran past him, and Tommy called out to him.

 

“Hey…” he said.

 

The boy stopped and turned to look at Tommy. He started to speak, but hesitated.

 

“Do you remember who you are?” Tommy asked.

 

The boy shook his head.

 

“Then why didn’t you give them the real gem?” Tommy asked. “Which was a smart move, by the way.

 

“It…it belongs to me.”

 

“I know it does,” Tommy said. “It’s been dormant for years, hasn’t it? Ever since our last fight with the Gorma. You took on a new human form and dropped out of sight. And since the gem’s been dormant this whole time, it never returned to The Power at the end of the Second Countdown.”

 

The boy nodded.

 

“Why?” Tommy asked. “Why take a new form and go into hiding all this time…Kameo…”

 

The human form of the carrier-zord Daimugen hesitated. “I wasn’t needed,” he said. “The war against the Gorma ended.”

 

“Well you’re needed now,” Tommy said. “I need your help, Kameo. Daimugen…I need your help to bring back the other Thunder Gems, and the Thunderzords.”

 

To be continued…Chapter 09