Chapter 09: Ultimate Overdrive

Buried Guilt

 

Titan Red sat within the cockpit of the Drill Driver inside the zord holding bay. The drill spun, and the new zord’s Parallel Engines whined with power.

 

The Red Ranger gripped the zord’s controls. “Setting revolution to maximum!”

 

Max spoke through the zord’s communications system.

 

“Shane, you’re almost at your limit. Your body-”

 

“Drill Driver!” Titan Red said. “Maximum power!”

 

The zord’s power overloaded. Strands of orange energy thrashed the Red Ranger within the cockpit. He winced with pain as the overload electrocuted him. 

 

“Stop the test!” Max said as he powered down the zord.

 

The energy overload died down. The Red Ranger leaned back and breathed heavily as the pain faded.

 

***

 

Shane staggered into Max’s office after the test. The other rangers waited for him there.

 

“Shane, are you OK?” Kelsey asked.

 

“You look like crap,” Will said as he started to walk past his leader. “Looks like it’s my turn to give it a try.”

 

“Wait,” Shane said as he held Will back. “You’re not to pilot the new zord. That’s an order.”

 

He walked away from his teammates and left the room.

 

Kelsey looked to Jake and the others. “Why is he so tired?”

 

“Our Accel Suits get their power from our zords’ Parallel Engines,” Jake said.

 

Max nodded. “No. 6 is even more powerful than the others,” he said of the Drill Driver. “But that power comes with a risk of injuring you guys.”

 

“So Shane thinks we can’t handle it?” Will asked.

 

Rose shook her head. “He just doesn’t want you to get hurt.”

 

“Same thing,” Will said. “In other words, he doesn’t trust us.”

 

***

 

A Dragonoid swam onto the Glimmering Coast while carrying a salvaged device. The device look gear shaped, with small tubes and modules.

 

Three other grunts joined him, and they carried a device of their own. The Dragonoids attached the gears together and twisted.

 

The device hummed with power, and storm clouds formed above, triggering a downpour.

 

Yessss…” a Dragonoid hissed. “We’ve found the Madness Weather.”

 

***

 

Will grinned mischievously as he snuck onto the upper level of the SGS situation room.

 

“Will,” Kelsey called from behind. 

 

Will shushed her and pointed to one of the lounge chairs in the resting area. They saw Shane, who dozed off while reading.

 

“He’s sleeping?” Kelsey asked with a whisper.

 

Will nodded. “This is our chance.”

 

He moved closer to Shane and crouched next to him. The ranger pulled out a pair of thick-lensed, round glasses with a fake nose and put them on his leader’s face.

 

Will used his Overdrive Tracker to snap a picture, as he and Kelsey snickered.

 

“That’s not a very impressive prank,” Rose said as she walked into the loft.

 

“It’s not a prank,” Will said. “We’re just showing him to be careful with naps.”

 

Rose walk towards her leader. “Chief, you fell asleep…”

 

She nudged him, and he knitted his brow, dreaming…

 

Shane moved through a dark tunnel with two comrades. Fire surrounded them. One of his comrades fell. Flashes of movement. Flashes of fire.

 

“Shane!” his first comrade shouted.

 

“Shane!” his second comrade shouted.

 

He reached towards her. Fire everywhere. “Talia!”

 

“Talia…” Shane whispered in his sleep.

 

“Talia?” Will asked.

 

Kelsey smiled. “Does he have a girlfriend?”

 

Rose shook her head.

 

“Dustin…” Shane whispered.

 

“Dustin?” Will asked. “A love triangle?”

 

“No…” Rose whispered, a somber look on her face. “You should let him be…”

 

She walked off.

 

Will knitted his brow with confusion. “Hey…Rose?”

 

***

 

Will, Kelsey and Jake joined Max in his office. Will asked Max about the names Shane whispered.

 

“Talia and Dustin?” Max asked. He grabbed a cup of tea and took a seat at his desk. “Those were his old comrades.”

 

“Back in his treasure hunting days?” Will asked.

 

Jake nodded. “Rose and I heard about that…”

 

“They were a good team, from what I hear,” Max said. “They would have all been recruited for Operation Overdrive if…” he shook his head. “If things had turned out differently.”

 

Kelsey tilted her head. “What happened?”

 

“They died,” Shane said as he walked into the room. He handed Will the joke glasses. “It was a year ago. We were tracking an artifact in Demon City…and got caught in a trap. Everyone died except me.”

 

“What…” Will said with disappointment. “You abandoned them?”

 

“If that’s what you want to think, I can’t stop you,” Shane said. The ranger looked to Max. “Max, I want to try the Drill Driver again.”

 

“I don’t think that’s a-”

 

They heard an alert beep within the main room.

 

Max and the rangers walked into the main room, and Mr. Voice appeared on the viewing screen. A map appeared next to him.

 

“We have a situation in Stone Canyon,” Mr. Voice said in a tone Max digitally modified to sound comically nasally. “We’ve been monitoring drastic weather changes. Clear skies, then rain, then heavy rain, lightning, wind, blistering sun, darkened clouds…there’s no pattern.”

 

“Is a relic causing this?” Kelsey asked.

 

Shane nodded. He recognized the weather pattern from his research of Precious. “Madness Weather.”

 

“It’s a device that allows one to freely control the weather,” Mr. Voice said. “Depending on its use, it could turn the Earth into a desert, or bring about another ice age.”

 

Shane nodded. “And it’s more than just a device. When the Machine Empire attacked in 2004, it lost dozens of gear ships. Some of them fell into the ocean with armies of Cogs and machine monsters. The Madness Weather was the heart of one of those monsters.”

 

Will shook his head. “How did you even know that?”

 

“INET retrieved the Machine’s database from the moon years ago,” Max said. “They catalogued most of the empire’s tech.”

 

Rose entered the room, having heard the last part of the conversation. “Someone must have salvaged the Madness Weather and activated it.”

 

Shane nodded. “Right. Let’s move out and find out who.”

 

***

 

The rangers ran through a small neighborhood nestled in the woods of Stone Canyon. The clouds above thundered with lightning — then cleared to reveal a bright sunny day.

 

Will looked up and squinted. “What’s going on…?”

 

Rose flipped open her tracker and scanned the area. “The temperature’s 88 degrees, and increasing.”

 

Screams came from nearby. The rangers looked to see a group of Dragonoids chasing civilians into the woods.

 

Some of the grunts spotted the rangers and skid to a halt. They hunched and clenched their swords as they glared at the team.

 

“The lizards,” Will said. “Just great…”

 

“Let’s go,” Shane said as he armed his Overdrive Tracker.

 

The rangers flipped open their morphers. “Overdrive! Start up!”

 

They slid their morphers across their arms and sparked their transformation into their Ranger armor.

 

The Rangers charged to attack, and the Dragonoids returned the charge.

 

Titan Blue jumped over a grunt, landed, and kicked a Dragonoid’s side.

 

A Dragonoid chopped at Titan Pink. The Ranger ducked and kicked its legs, dropping the grunt to the ground.

 

A grunt slashed at Titan Yellow. She dodged, punched the creature’s gut and elbowed its chest.

 

Titan Black jumped from behind Titan Yellow and flying-side-kicked the grunt off its feet.

 

A Dragonoid slashed at Titan Red. The Ranger grabbed the grunt’s sword arm, twisted, and round-kicked the soldier’s side.

 

The Red Ranger flipped the grunt to the ground, armed his Drive Defender in blaster mode, and aimed the weapon at the fallen soldier’s face.

 

“Where’s the Madness Weather?” he demanded. “Where?”

 

Suddenly, clouds covered the skies. Lightning struck the ground around the Rangers with thundering booms.

 

Powerful wind blasted them off their feet and hurled them through the air. They crashed and skid across the dirt.

 

Titan Blue rolled into a crouched stance next to Titan Yellow. “Lightning…Gale wind…Looks like the weather report was right.”

 

Laughter came from nearby. The Rangers looked to see Ryuuon step onto the scene, along with more Dragonoids.

 

“My experiment with the Madness Weather was a complete success,” he said.

 

Ryuuon!” Titan Black shouted.

 

“You’re still alive…” Titan Red said.

 

“The Jaryuu Tribe is not weak like you humans,” Ryuuon said. “My wounds have completely healed since our last battle. And after this fight, I will create the perfect world for my kind, using the Madness Weather!”

 

Three Dragonoids lifted the device while standing behind their master.

 

“Summer heat all year long?” Titan Yellow asked.

 

“If you do that, you’ll destroy the environment and wipe out humanity,” Titan Pink said.

 

“That’s what we want, stupid girl,” Ryuuon said. He looked to his soldiers. “Keep increasing the temperature.”

 

The Rangers armed their Drive Defenders in blade mode and charged at Ryuuon.

 

The villain unsheathed his sword and parried their blows as they rushed around him. They slashed and chopped, but Ryuuon parried and struck back. He slashed Titan Black with a burst of spark, chopped Titan Blue aside, and swung wide, slashing Titan Yellow and Titan Pink to the ground.

 

Titan Red chopped towards the villain’s collarbone. But Ryuuon parried and grabbed the Red Ranger in a chokehold.

 

Meanwhile, the Madness Weather whined with power as the Dragonoids tried to manipulate it.

 

Ryuuon looked to his soldiers. “What is it? Why aren’t you increasing the temperature?”

 

The Madness Weather sparked and dropped from the grunts’ hands.

 

Ryuuon tossed Titan Red aside and walked towards the device.

 

The Red Ranger rolled into a crouched stance as the Rangers regrouped around him.

 

Before Ryuuon could reach the device, it flashed with power and hovered in midair. The Madness Weather spun and caused a snowstorm that blasted through the area, nearly knocking Ryuuon off his feet.

 

Titan Blue steadied himself against the wind. “The Madness Weather….It’s out of control.”

 

Titan Red aimed his sword at Ryuuon. “Ryuuon…What have you done!”

 

The Madness Weather spun upward and away, and pulsed with power.

 

Ryuuon ran after it.

 

But the Rangers stayed back. Titan Red flipped open his Overdrive Tracker. “Driver-zords, mobilize!”

 

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

 

The Driver-zords rushed onto the scene, and the Rangers entered their cockpits. They throttled forward as the blizzard intensified around them.

 

Titan Pink scanned the device. “Its power is increasing…”

 

The blizzard blew the Gyro Driver out of control, and the Blue Ranger struggled to stabilize the zord.

 

“What is it, Blue?” Titan Red asked.

 

“The mountains…This blizzard is causing an avalanche!”

 

Mounds of snow and rock collapsed from the nearby mountain range and smashed into the Gyro Driver, knocking it downward. The avalanche continued in full force, piling over the Speed Driver, Dozer Driver and Sub Driver, as well as the fallen Gyro Driver.

 

Titan Red leapt from his cockpit just as the avalanche covered his zord. He tumbled and rolled away as the earth split open. The zords fell through the opening, along with the snow and rock that covered them.

 

The Red Ranger rolled to a stop as the snow settled. He activated his communicator.

 

“Pink! Black, Blue! Yellow!” he shouted. “Answer me!”

 

Static answered.

 

Titan Red climbed slowly to his feet. He thought of his lost comrades, Dustin and Talia. He let them down. Now he let the Titans down too.

 

The Red Ranger dropped to his knees. “I…It happened again…”

 

He rolled his hands into fists, punched the ground and bolted to his feet.

 

Nearby, Ryuuon leapt through the air and chopped at the Red Ranger. Titan Red barely dodged as the blade struck the ground.

 

Ryuuon!” Titan Red shouted.

 

The villain armed a second sword and stepped into an offensive stance.

 

Titan Red summoned his weapon. “Drive Lance!”

 

They charged and clashed weapons with bursts of spark. Ryuuon swung one sword to parry and block, and slashed his other blade to attack. But Titan Red twirled his staff to parry the blows.

 

The Red Ranger twirled his lance and slashed at Ryuuon. Ryuuon blocked, pressed his sabers against the Red Ranger’s weapon, and pushed him several steps backward.

 

Ryuuon knocked the lance aside, slashed Titan Red twice with bursts of spark, then swung outward with an x-shaped pattern that slashed Titan Red and hurled him backward.

 

The Red Ranger crashed and tumbled across the snow.

 

Ryuuon laughed mockingly at his fallen opponent. “It’s over.”

 

Titan Red grabbed his weapon and climbed slowly to his feet. “I’m not losing in a place like this…not when I still have a job to do!”

 

The opponents charged. Titan Red stabbed the villain’s side with a burst of spark, just as Ryuuon chopped the Ranger’s shoulder with a burst of spark.

 

The villain slashed the Ranger’s chest, struck the Drive Lance from the Ranger’s hand, and swung both his swords through streaks of fiery energy; the blades slashed Titan Red with bursts of spark that knocked him backward.

 

Titan Red fired his Drive Defender before he hit the ground. The blasts ripped through Ryuuon with bursts of spark that hurled him backward.

 

Titan Red crashed and rolled across the snow. The impact knocked him from his armor with a burst of red light.

 

***

 

Titan Pink stirred back to consciousness within her cockpit, her zord buried beneath the snow. She opened a communications line.

 

“Is everyone OK?” she asked.

 

“Somehow…” Titan Blue said.

 

“I’m fine,” Titan Yellow said.

 

“We should get out of here,” Titan Black said.

 

They activated their zords’ engines. Wheels spun, but failed to move the mecha from the snow.

 

“We can’t,” Titan Yellow said. “It’s not ordinary ice.”

 

Titan Blue struggled to make the Gyro Driver rise. Its gyros whined with protest.

 

“Our Parallel Engines’ power is dropping,” he said. “We can’t get out like this.”

 

Titan Black slammed his hands against his console. He heard Titan Pink through the communications system.

 

“It looks like Chief made it to safety,” she said.

 

“So that guy’s the only survivor again,” Titan Black said.

 

“Black!” Titan Pink chided.

 

***

 

Shane staggered into the SGS situation room. Max spoke with him through his Overdrive Tracker.

 

“You can’t pilot the drill in your condition,” Max said.

 

 “The Drill Driver’s the only way,” Shane said. “I’m getting in.”

 

Mr. Voice appeared on the main monitor. “Wait, Mr. Torro.”

 

A map appeared on the situation table. “With Madness Weather at the center, glaciers will form, and spread. At this rate, the entire east coast could turn into ice…That’s an unacceptable risk. INET has decided to destroy the Madness Weather.”

 

The map zeroed in on the location of the device. “The Madness Weather is here,” Mr. Voice said. “The trapped zords are nearby. We’ll detonate their Parallel Engines by remote, and destroy the Precious in the process.”

 

Shane knitted his brow. “The other Rangers are still inside.”

 

“Our mission is to protect the world from the Precious,” Mr. Voice said. “In this case, there is no other way.”

 

Shane shook his head and walked off. “There’s still a way.”

 

***

 

Shane stepped into Max’s office.

 

Max shook his head before the ranger could say anything. “Shane, I think the Drill Driver is just too much.”

 

“Max…” Shane said. He looked to the joke glasses, which Will had left behind. The ranger grabbed them from the table. “I lost my comrades once…”

 

***

 

One year ago

Demon City

 

Shane traced his fingers along the wall of a tomb, built by one of the demon clans that inhabited Angel Grove Central — now dubbed Demon City.

 

He found a weak brick and placed small wires around it. He ignited the wires, which sizzled and crackled. The heat burnt the brick loose, and he pulled the brick free.

 

Dustin smiled as he crouched next to his leader. “Not bad, not bad. You really are the Immortal Fang.”

 

Shane reached in and pulled out a stone tablet. He dusted the tablet, to reveal writings in a language known only in Hell.

 

“You did it,” Talia said. “The Demon Tablet.”

 

Suddenly, a brick shifted within the wall. Fiery heat ebbed from the opening.

 

“It’s a trap!” Shane shouted.

 

He dove aside and tackled his comrades away. A burst of flame shot from the wall and spread across the floor, forming a wall of fire.

 

Shane hit the ground hard and tumbled across the stone floor. He rolled into a crouch and looked up to see a wall of fire separate him from Dustin and Talia.

 

Talia clutched her leg and winced. The fire burnt her entire left leg.

 

“Talia!” Shane shouted as he moved towards them.

 

“No,” Dustin said. “No way you can get through. Take the tablet. And go get help.”

 

Shane shook his head. “I’m not leaving you here.”

 

The flames intensified.

 

“Go get help!” Dustin shouted. “We’ll be fine…”

 

Talia nodded. “He’s right. We’ll be OK. Just…Just hurry back. We know you will.”

 

Shane stood and rolled his hands into fists. They had equipment back at the entrance to the tomb. He could save them. He knew it.

 

“I’ll be back. I promise, I’ll be back.”

 

Shane turned and started to run. Suddenly, an explosion tore through the tomb and hurled Shane through the air.

 

He crashed and skid across the floor. Smoke stung his eyes and breath, and he coughed as he climbed to his feet.

 

He looked behind to see nothing but smoking ruins where his friends once stood.

 

***

 

“That’s when I realized,” Shane said. “That saying, that I never lost anything I had my sights on, was a lie. I didn’t gain anything valuable. Instead, I lost my friends. I’ll never let myself lose another comrade again.”

 

The ranger looked to Max. “Give me the spare Titan Driver.”

 

“Shane…”

 

“The Titan Driver!” Shane pleaded.

 

Max handed Shane the portable control console. “Be sure to come back safe. That’s an order…or something.”

 

Max smirked, and Shane did the same.

 

***

 

Titan Red climbed into the Drill Driver, slid his portable console into place, and attached his Overdrive Tracker to the console’s right side.

 

“Number Six,” he said as he gripped the wheel. “Drill Driver.”

 

He pressed the “Go” and “6” buttons on his Overdrive Tracker: “LAUNCH SHIFT, ON! DRILL!”

 

He swiped the tracker’s small wheel: “GO. GO!”

 

Titan Red launched the Drill Driver, which throttled with energy and drove towards Stone Canyon.

 

The zord’s Parallel Engines pulsed with power that discharged in the cockpit. Energy strands lashed the Red Ranger with bursts of spark. 

 

But he clenched his jaw, bit back the pain, and kept his hands on the wheel.

 

Titan Red focused on his friends and pushed forward.

 

***

 

The Drill Driver approached Stone Canyon.

 

Yet another energy discharge thrashed the Red Ranger with bursts of orange light. Titan Red spasmed, and when the charges stopped, he slumped onto the wheel.

 

The Ranger breathed heavily as his heart pounded in his chest.

 

“I can still…” he said between heavy breaths. “I can still go on…”

 

He lifted his head and gripped his controls. “Will… Kelsey… Jake… Rose… I won’t let you down!”

 

Titan Red powered up his zord’s drill. Drill Driver punctured through the ground and throttled downward, tunneling beneath the surface.

 

“Drill Driver!” Titan Red shouted. “Maximum revolution!”

 

The drill spun faster as the zord throttled through the ground.

 

Drill Driver smashed into the crevice where snow trapped the zords.

 

“There,” he said as he opened a comm line. “Guys, it’s me! Guys! Answer me!”

 

He heard their voices through the comm line.

 

“Crow…”

 

Owche…”

 

“Checkers…”

 

“R…oh come on, that’s a hard one!” Kelsey said.

 

“Chief!” Rose shouted when she noticed their leader.

 

Titan Red tilted his head. “Why were you playing a word-chain game?”

 

“Because of Rose,” Jake said. “Pink.”

 

“She said you’d ‘definitely come save us. So relax,’” Will said.

 

“And then I said we should play a word chain game,” Kelsey said.

 

“You believed…I’d come save you…” Titan Red said.

 

“Of course,” Rose said.

 

Titan Red looked away from his monitor. The Ranger gripped his control.

 

“A word-chain game, huh?” he asked with a smile. “Well let’s start fresh. Driver-zords, move out!”

 

Drill Driver drilled through the snow and burst through the surface, and the rest of the zords followed, including the Dump Driver on auto pilot.

 

“We’re out!” Titan Yellow shouted. “We’re finally out!”

 

Titan Black glanced through his viewport and spotted the Madness Weather.

 

“Guys, look at that,” he said.

 

The Madness Weather spun and formed a giant machine monster, its true form.

 

“We’ve got to destroy it,” Titan Red said. “Titan fusion, Dump Driver in auto mode.”

 

“You can drive two zords at once?” Titan Black asked.

 

“That’s what the training was for,” he said. “Fusion System on.”

 

He pressed the “robo” key on his Overdrive Tracker: “FUSION SYSTEM, ON!”

 

“DUMP!”

 

“GYRO!”

 

“SPEED!”

 

“DOZER!”

 

“SUB!”

 

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

 

The five zords shifted shape and combined to form a massive robo.

 

DriveMax Megazord!” The Rangers shouted. “Titan Robo!”

 

The Megazord and Madness Weather charged. Titan Robo armed its shovel in one hand and pick-axe in the other. The robo chopped the monster with a burst of spark, then smashed the shovel against the machine’s chest. But the blows barely budged the monster.

 

Madness Weather parried the shovel and slashed the Megazord with a burst of spark. The monster slashed again, and again, forcing the Megazord several steps backward.

 

The Drill Driver charged towards the monster from the side. The drill spun and stabbed the machine’s ankles with bursts of spark. The monster staggered but stayed on its feet.

 

Titan Robo moved in and chopped its shovel. But the machine blocked the blow and fired a gust of smog. The smog blew the Megazord several steps backward.

 

“Driver-zord, equip,” Titan Red said as he pressed a button on his tracker: “TITAN SHIFT, ON! DRILL! POWER, ON!”

 

The Drill Driver shifted, formed a new right arm, and snapped into place.

 

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

 

The Drill Driver’s power surged through the Megazord. Energy discharges ignited in the robo’s cockpit with strands of orange light, which lashed the Rangers’ armor.

 

Titan Black winced as charges thrashed his arms. “This power…”

 

“Chief…” Titan Pink said as the discharges whipped her hands. “You endured this to pilot the Drill Driver?”

 

“I did,” he said. “That’s why you can too. If we combine our power…we can control it!”

 

The discharges heightened, electrocuting the Rangers with power. But the Rangers combined their strength, braced themselves, and let the pain wash through them. They used the pain as power. As strength.

 

“Drill Driver!” the Rangers shouted. “Maximum Rotation!”

 

The drill spun and charged with strands of orange energy.

 

Titan Robo lunged and thrust the drill. The weapon punctured through the monster with massive bursts of spark and ripped apart its middle. The monster exploded into pieces and scattered into the wind.

 

With the monster gone, the weather patterns returned to normal.

 

***

 

Later that week, the Rangers took turns practicing in the Drill Driver’s cockpit.

 

Titan Blue grasped the controls as energy discharges thrashed his armor.

 

“Okay, okay, okay,” he said. “That’s enough, time to stop.”

 

Max watched through his monitor as the other rangers gathered around him. “Looks like he’s at the limit.”

 

Shane shook his head. “Not yet. Raise the revolution.”

 

Shane turned to his teammates. “All of you can endure this, and learn to drive the new zord. I trust you…”

 

“Trust?” Kelsey whispered to Will. She nudged him. “This is all because you had to say something about trust.”

 

“So it’s my fault?” Will whispered.

 

“Okay,” Shane said with a smile. “So who’s next?”

 

Will shook his head and started walking away. “Yeah, I have something to do.”

 

“Hey, wait,” Kelsey said. “You’re next!”

 

“No, you can go ahead,” he said. “By all means…”

 

***

 

Max sat alone in his office later that day. He leaned back and reviewed the mission file. INET ordered the zords destroyed, the death of the Rangers, to eliminate the madness weather. Luckily it didn’t come to that. But INET showed willingness to make that sacrifice, too quickly, and too easily.

 

Shane wouldn’t forget that, Max knew.

 

I think I’ll be able to tell them the truth... he thought. About INET…the Precious…everything…

 

To be continued…Chapter 10