Chapter 15: Ultimate Overdrive

The Silver Adventurer

 

Max carried a briefcase into the SGS situation room, where the rangers waited.

 

Kelsey greeted him with her usual smile. “Welcome back, Max.”

 

“Thanks,” Max said. “Sorry I’m late. I was finishing this…”

 

He lifted his briefcase and opened it, revealing a silver-tinted bracer.

 

“Is that the Rescue Bracer?” Shane asked.

 

“Yep,” Max said. He activated a viewing screen, which showed three new zords. “And these are the Rescue Drivers. Rescue Fire. Rescue Aider. And Rescue Patrol.”

 

proo-zd-rescuerunners

 

“Nice…” Will said.

 

“INET started developing these for the new Lightspeed Rescue Initiative, but they decided to take a different approach instead,” Max said.

 

“The Rescue Heroes!” Kelsey said, proud to know.

 

“Right,” Max said. “So anyway, I revamped the mecha and gear for SGS. The project’s kind of on hold, though, since we don’t have a sixth Ranger.”

 

Shane lifted the bracer. “I might have someone in mind.”

 

***

 

Shane walked up a fire escape with the Rescue Bracer in hand. The other rangers followed.

 

“Chief,” Jake said. “The Rescue Bracer. Don’t tell me you plan to give it to-”

 

Eiji,” Shane said. “That’s right.”

 

“That arrogant prick?” Will asked.

 

“He’s too dangerous,” Rose said.

 

“Just watch,” Shane said.

 

***

 

Eiji stood on the rooftop. He swiped his hand left and right, forming multi-layered barriers.

 

Ketsu! Ketsu! Ketsu! 

 

He needed to learn how to make barriers strong enough to stop demons in physical form. That way he didn’t need to tap into the dark power that stirred within him.

 

Eiji…” Shane said as he stepped onto the rooftop.

 

Eiji turned and arced an eyebrow. “Are you stalking me?”

 

“No,” Shane said. “But I was looking for you.”

 

The ranger stepped closer and held out the Rescue Bracer.

 

“What’s that supposed to be?” Eiji asked. “First you stalk me, then you buy me clunky jewelry? That’s creepy.”

 

“It’s the Rescue Bracer,” Shane said. “Eiji…become a Titan Ranger.”

 

Eiji scoffed. “Are you losing it again?”

 

“Become a Titan Ranger, and find your own treasure,” Shane said.

 

“Find my own trea-?” Eiji shook his head with disbelief. “I still have demons to fight.”

 

“Is that the only reason you go on adventures?” Shane asked.

 

Eiji knitted his brow. “I don’t ‘go on adventures,’” Eiji said. “Fighting demons, fighting Ashu, that’s my mission.”

 

“I figured you’d say that,” Shane said. “Your mission…”

 

“That’s right,” Eiji said.

 

“Titan Rangers!” a voice shouted from nearby. They looked to see Gajah standing on a nearby building. “Today will be your last.”

 

The other rangers ran to the rooftop and regrouped with Shane.

 

“Gajah…” Shane said. “It’s been a while.”

 

Gajah extended his arm and whispered an incantation.

 

Mist flowed onto the rooftop and took shape to form Gai and Rei.

 

Kelsey widened her eyes with shock. “The Ashu. Gai and Rei…”

 

Rose shook her head. “But we defeated them…”

 

Eiji glared at the villains and swung his staff into a fighting stance. “You’re still alive?!”

 

Gai’s eyes flashed with jade energy.

 

Shane leapt in front of Eiji.

 

“Start up!”

 

The Rangers morphed into their armor just as jade explosions erupted around them.

 

The explosions cleared, and Eiji pushed Titan Red aside.

 

“Don’t get in my way,” Eiji said. “I told you. This is my mission…”

 

The hunter held his staff back and charged.

 

Gajah extended his hand and whispered an incantation.

 

Within the Ashu’s chests, turbines spun and crackled with power. The turbines emitted a shockwave that knocked Eiji aside and smashed over the Rangers with massive bursts of spark.

 

Secondary discharges thrashed the Rangers’ armor and forced them to their knees.

 

Titan Yellow tried to climb to her feet, but the weight of her own suit nearly pushed her off balance.

 

“There’s something wrong…” she said.

 

Strands of energy thrashed Titan Black with bursts of spark that knocked him off his knees. “What the hell…”

 

Titan Blue landed flat on his back. “Everything’s…so heavy.”

 

Titan Pink gripped her gauntlet. “Our Accell-Suits...”

 

Gajah smiled. “Now…Come forth! My Questers!”

 

The Ashu exploded into dust and reformed with bursts of energy. They stood in slick black armor, Gai’s trimmed with green, and Rei’s trimmed with yellow. Their turbines spun in their chests.

 

Questers

 

Gajah smiled with pride. “A quester is a searcher. They are my ultimate team for obtaining all Precious…”

 

Eiji climbed to his feet. “So your forms changed? So what?”

 

Gai growled. “You’re no longer a threat to us!”

 

They dashed through blurs of motion, knocked Eiji aside, and shot towards the Rangers.

 

The Questers bashed the Rangers with punches and kicks, each blow sparking on impact. The Rangers tried to fight back and defend themselves, but their own armor weighed them down.

 

Quester Gai lifted Titan Red and hurled him through the air. The Red Ranger smashed through a neighboring building.

 

Quester Rei grabbed Titan Black and Titan Yellow in chokeholds, leapt from the rooftop, and tossed them onto cars.

 

Quester Gai punched Titan Blue and Titan Pink with bursts of spark, bashing their guts and helmets, whipping them backward.

 

Nearby, Titan Red crawled from the neighboring building and fell to the street.

 

Gajah lifted the fallen Ranger by the neck. “How do you like the power of my Ryujinn Engine?”

 

Ryujinn…Engine?” Titan Red asked.

 

“The Precious I stole from the ruins of the Zeo-zord holding bay. Those schematics and relics. I understood the basis for what would become your Parallel Engines. So I created the Anti-Parallel Engine.”

 

“What?”

 

“That’s what the Ryujinn Engine is,” Gajah said. “I put these engines into the Ashu, resurrecting their bodies, creating my Questers.”

 

He tossed Titan Red aside. He tumbled across the road next to his teammates, all fallen as steam hissed from their armor.

 

Gai and Rei regrouped and stood behind Gajah. Then they stalked towards their fallen prey.

 

Gai stomped repeatedly onto Titan Red’s chest with bursts of spark.

 

“These Quester bodies are superior to your Accell-Suits!” Gai shouted.

 

“And the Ryujinn Engines interfere with the power of the Parallel Engines that fuel your armor,” Rei said.

 

He lifted Titan Pink by the neck and smashed her to the street.

 

Quester Gai and Quester Rei leapt straight upward. While in midair, they each pulled twin blasters, dropped while circling one another, and opened fire.

 

Their blasters rained darts of golden energy that exploded around the Rangers with massive bursts of spark. The impact knocked the Titans from their armor with flashes of light.

 

The Questers landed and laughed at the sight of their fallen opponents.

 

Nearby, Eiji ran onto the street. He thrust his hand, pointing his index and middle finger. Ketsu! Metsu!

 

He formed multi-layered barriers that snapped around the Ashu and collapsed with explosions of blue fire. But the fire washed over them.

 

The hunter cursed beneath his breath and tried again. Ketsu! Ketsu! Ketsu!

 

He formed barrier after barrier, encasing the Ashu in walls of blue light. But they opened fire and shattered the barriers, which exploded into shards of energy.

 

Rei dashed through a blur of motion and grabbed Eiji’s staff. “You certainly are a slow one, Takaoka Descendent…”

 

Eiji narrowed his eyes. He pulled his staff free, spun and swung towards the villain’s side. The Ashu trapped the staff between his elbow and knee; the staff snapped.

 

“No!” Eiji shouted. He needed that staff. Without it…

 

Rei blasted the ringed tip of the staff, which shattered into pieces.

 

Gai charged and kneed Eiji in the stomach. The blow knocked the air from the hunter’s lungs, which burnt for oxygen as he collapsed.

 

Gai laughed and looked to his comrade. “Shall we go, Quester Rei?”

 

Rei nodded, and the Questers started to walk off.

 

“Wait…wait!” Gajah shouted. “This is your chance to finish them off!”

 

Mist twirled around the Questers as they teleported away.

 

***

 

Eiji’s vision blurred into focus. Still groggy, he reached for his staff — then he remembered. The hunter snapped up, his eyes open with panic.

 

He found himself in the SGS situation room, with the rangers nearby. He breathed heavily as his mind raced. “The staff…?”

 

“Destroyed,” Jake said.

 

Eiji shook his head. “Without it…”

 

He winced with pain and grasped his forehead. He felt his blood throb with dark power.

 

Kelsey leaned next to him. “Are you okay?”

 

The hunter lowered his hands. His body shook, and his eyes turned solid white. He opened his mouth, and his teeth turned into fangs.

 

Out of control, he knocked Kelsey aside and lunged. He grabbed Jake and tossed him aside, then flung Will across the room.

 

Shane leapt onto the hunter’s back. But Eiji threw the ranger against the wall.

 

Rose pulled out her tracker and snapped a grappling line, which wrapped around Eiji. The line pulsed with electricity that knocked Eiji unconscious. The hunter crashed to the floor.

 

“What the hell…” Will said as he climbed to his feet. “He’s not human…”

 

The others stood and gathered around Eiji.

 

“We need to investigate,” Shane said. “Find out what happened to him.”

 

“Why?” Will asked. “Don’t tell me you still plan to make him a Titan?”

 

Ashu…the Questers,” Shane said. “We’ll need his power to fight them.”

 

***

 

Max helped the rangers track down the location of Eiji’s childhood home, in the Japanese wilderness. The home belonged to the monks who raised Eiji’s father, originally from Angel Grove.

 

But the monks abandoned the place years ago. 

 

The rangers went inside the dark house.

 

“These monks fought the Ashu for generations,” Jake said. “I’m sure they’ll have records…maybe information about what turned Eiji into a monster.”

 

They split up and searched.

 

Kelsey entered a darkened bedroom, decorated with an elaborate dresser and long mirror.

 

She looked to the mirror, and through its reflection, saw a robed woman standing behind her. She snapped around but saw no one.

 

Frightened, she looked back to the mirror. The robed woman had pale skin and white hair that matched the bleached color of her robes.

 

Kelsey screamed and stepped backward.

 

“Kelsey!” Will shouted as he and the other rangers burst into the room.

 

They each saw the image in the mirror. The woman smiled, and her eyes glowed with white light.

 

Shane narrowed his eyes. “Ashu…”

 

“I am…Ashu,” the woman said. “I am called Kei. Eiji’s mother.”

 

“You mean…you possessed his mother?” Jake asked. “Eiji’s a Shaded?”

 

“No,” the woman said. “I needed to possess no one. I am Eiji’s mother. I birthed him with my own form.”

 

“His father was human,” Shane said. “A demon hunter.”

 

“We shared a forbidden love,” Kei said. “Is Eiji alright?”

 

Jake shook his head. “He went mad.”

 

“The khakkhara. He lost it. Didn’t he?”

 

The rangers nodded.

 

The demon’s eyes dimmed. “That staff was used to contain the Ashu power within him,” she said. “If it’s been destroyed, his Ashu blood has been released.”

 

“Isn’t there a way to return him to normal?” Kelsey asked.

 

“He doesn’t turn into a monster just because of his Ashu blood,” Kei said. “That boy…”

 

***

 

The Questers gathered in Gajah’s lair, an underground factory.

 

“Right now…” Gai said. “With his staff broken, he should be changing…into our new comrade.”

 

“What?” Gajah asked from behind the Questers. But they ignored him.

 

The villains turned and walked off.

 

“Wait!” Gajah shouted. “Where are you going?”

 

The demon lord cursed beneath his breath. He walked deeper into his factory, where machines finished assembling his most treasured prize: A giant-sized Ryujinn Engine.

 

Gajah smiled.

 

***

 

Kei finished telling the rangers about her son’s demon side.

 

“Please…” she whispered. “Save him.”

 

“Come with us,” Kelsey said. “Maybe together we can-”

 

“I cannot leave this place…” she whispered. “All I can do is ask of you to do what I cannot.”

 

She placed her hand on the inner surface of the mirror. Her image dissipated into mist, and the mirror shattered into pieces.

 

The fragments fell to the floor along with a sparkle of energy, which hardened into a small piece of glass shaped like a teardrop.

 

Kelsey leaned down and lifted the glass. “It’s Kei…” she said. “This is her tear…”

 

***

 

“Well that’s decided,” Will said when they returned to headquarters. “Eiji can’t be a Titan.”

 

He gathered in the med room with Jake, Rose and Kelsey. They stood near Eiji, who lay unconscious while strapped to the bed.

 

“But there’s a way for him to overcome what’s happened,” Kelsey said.

 

“Still…” Rose said. “It’s too dangerous if the risk isn’t zero.”

 

“Well no one knows anything about my past,” Kelsey said. “Maybe I’m dangerous. And Will used to be a thief.”

 

Will shifted uncomfortably. “Well…Jake was a spy. And Rose was in the Special Forces.”

 

His eyes closed, Eiji heard everything. He snapped from his bindings, jumped from bed and fled from the medical room.

 

***

 

Eiji ran up a tunnel that connected SGS headquarters to street level. He stopped in his tracks when he noticed Shane walking towards him.

 

The other four rangers ran towards Eiji from behind and caught up with him.

 

Without saying a word, Shane walked to Eiji and strapped the Rescue Bracer onto his wrist.

 

Eiji knitted his brow. “What the hell’s wrong with you?”

 

“Chief,” Rose said. “That’s the only Rescue Bracer.”

 

Shane pulled a device from behind his back and snapped it open. The weapon formed a high-tech staff.

 

“Take this,” Shane said. “The Drive Detector.”

 

“That piece of junk?” Eiji asked.

 

“INET analyzed the power of your old staff and used the same energy pattern to make this,” Shane said. “You can use it to suppress your demon form.”

 

Eiji hesitated. But he felt the blood of the Ashu boil in his veins. The feeling sickened him.

 

Shane held the staff closer. “You said fighting the Ashu was your mission? Then fight the Ashu in yourself.”

 

Suddenly, explosions sounded from the street end of the tunnel.

 

Shane stabbed the staff into the ground and looked to his teammates. “Let’s move out.”

 

The rangers ran from the tunnel, leaving Eiji with the Drive Detector.

 

***

 

The Questers stood on a ledge and blasted the surrounding buildings. Clouds of flame, debris and dust rained onto the streets.

 

Nearby, the Titan Rangers somersaulted through the air and landed on the scene. They kept their distance and aimed their Drive Defenders.

 

“Questers, back off!” Titan Red shouted.

 

Gai tilted his head. “Isn’t Takaoka coming?”

 

“He must be a full Ashu by now…” Rei said.

 

“Whether he’s human or Ashu doesn’t matter,” Titan Red said. “He’s on our side.”

 

“What a joke,” Gai said.

 

The Questers’ turbines spun with invisible shockwaves that splashed across the Rangers. Their suits overloaded with strands of energy that thrashed their armor with bursts of spark.

 

The attack forced them to their knees.

 

***

 

Eiji stood silently and stared at the Drive Detector. Shane’s words echoed in his mind. “You said fighting the Ashu was your mission? Then fight the Ashu in yourself.”

 

He remembered what happened to Simon. He remembered watching the Ranger fall farther and farther into darkness, until he lost himself completely, and died. Eiji didn’t want the same fate.

 

He reached towards the weapon, but stopped himself. The hunter cursed beneath his breath.

 

“If it’s not the khakkhara…” he whispered. “It won’t work.”

 

Suddenly, pain tightened his chest and dropped him to his knees. He felt his dark power stir, as his veins rippled beneath his skin.

 

***

 

Explosions hurled the Titan Rangers through the air. They crashed and skid across the street with an impact that knocked them from their armor.

 

The Questers stalked towards their fallen opponents.

 

“It’s over!” Gai shouted.

 

Slowly, Shane climbed to his feet and glared at the Questers.

 

From above, a figure leapt through the air and landed in the plaza — it was Eiji. He carried the Drive Detector, which he whacked across Shane’s head.

 

Eiji looked monstrous, with solid white eyes, chalk-white hair, and fangs. He crouched into a fighting stance and held his staff forward.

 

The half-demon screamed at the rangers, and his eyes glowed white.

 

Eiji…” Shane said.

 

Rei laughed at the sight of the hunter. “You truly are Ashu. So go…defeat the cursed humans.”

 

Eiji stayed hunched, like a beast, as he stalked towards the rangers. He growled and hissed with each movement, using one hand to crawl, and the other to hold back his staff.

 

Gai laughed. “The Takaoka Decedent as our servant. This is perfect…”

 

Shane knitted his brow at Eiji. Eiji!” Shane shouted. “What’s your mission?”

 

Eiji lunged and slashed towards Shane’s head. But Shane dove beneath the strike.

 

The ranger rolled to his feet, grabbed Eiji by the shirt and pulled him close. “What’s your mission?!”

 

“My…” Eiji said, his voice like sandpaper. “Mission?”

 

“It’s your mission to fight the Ashu. That’s what you said,” Shane said. “So fight the Ashu blood inside of you! Eiji!”

 

Eiji’s eyes faded to normal. But he howled and knocked Shane onto his back.

 

Eiji screamed with rage, lifted his staff, and speared towards Shane’s head.

 

Eiji!” Shane shouted.

 

Eiji stopped the staff inches from Shane’s face.

 

Eiji…” Shane whispered.

 

The hunter screamed. He spun around, swung his staff and fired a wave of energy. The blast slashed the Questers with massive bursts of spark that sent them staggering backward.

 

The hunter held his staff back in a defensive stance. He held his other hand forward and rolled it into a fist, as his appearance returned to normal.

 

“My name…My name is Eiji Takaoka!” he shouted.

 

He tossed his staff upward and armed his bracer.

 

“Overdrive!” he shouted. “Start up!”

 

He slapped his morpher’s activation panel and ignited his transformation into Titan Silver.

 

He caught his staff and swung the weapon into a fighting stance.

 

The new Titan Ranger looked at his armor in awe, as if taken off guard by his own morph. “What is…”

 

Your Rescue Bracer…” Shane said with a smile of pride. “You’re Titan Silver.”

 

“Titan Silver?”

 

Rei scoffed. “Now that you’ve become a Titan, because of our Ryujinn Engines, you cannot move!”

 

Their turbines spun with an invisible shockwave that splashed across Titan Silver.

 

The Questers armed their duel blasters and opened fire.

 

Titan Silver slashed wide, cutting the bullets with bursts of spark before they could strike.

 

“What?” Gai shouted.

 

Max spoke to the Rangers through their communicators.

 

“That Rescue Bracer’s connected to the new vehicles, which use Neo-Parallel Engines,” he said. “They’re not affected by the Ryujinn Engine.”

 

“Good to know,” Titan Silver said as he snapped his staff closed and attached it to his belt. “Gai…Rei…looks like I’m still in the fight.”

 

Titan Silver charged through a blur of motion, grabbed the Questers, and bashed them against the side of a building. The impact cracked the wall with a cloud of dust and debris.

 

The Silver Ranger leapt backward to gain distance.

 

Gai growled as he staggered forward. “You Takaoka bastard!”

 

The Questers leapt through the air to attack.

 

Titan Silver pulled out his weapon. “Drive Detector: Sniper Mode!”

 

He fired darts of energy that blasted the demons with bursts of spark, knocking them from the air.

 

The Questers crashed and rolled into crouched fighting stances.

 

“Damn you, Eiji!” Gai shouted as he fired his blasters.

 

Titan Silver dove aside as the blasts sparked around him.

 

The Silver Ranger rolled to his feet and leapt towards the Questers.

 

“Drive Detector: Spear Mode!” He snapped his weapon into a staff and landed with a chop.

 

Gai blocked the chop. But Titan Silver spun and swung towards Rei. Rei dodged, but Titan Silver pressed forward with a series of slashes and strikes. The Questers parried and dodged each blow, but the force and speed of the new Ranger kept them back, on the defensive.

 

Titan Silver knocked Gai’s arm aside and slashed the Quester with a burst of spark that whipped him backward.

 

Rei closed in from behind.

 

Titan Silver grabbed Gai and used him as a shield; Rei’s attack slashed Gai with a burst of spark.

 

The Silver Ranger tossed Gai aside and spun; his spear slashed the villains with bursts of spark.

 

Titan Silver swung upward with a powerful slash that whipped Rei off his feet.

 

Gai swung his blasters like clubs. But Titan Silver blocked, and the opponents pressed their weapons against each other.

 

“That all you got?” Titan Silver mocked.

 

“Damn you, Takaoka!” Gai shouted.

 

Titan Silver kicked and slashed Gai aside.

 

The Silver Ranger chopped through a streak of energy that ripped Gai’s armor with massive bursts of spark, and then side-kicked him off his feet.

 

Gai tumbled across the street, rolled to his feet and regrouped with Rei.

 

Gai snarled at Titan Silver. “Don’t underestimate me…”

 

The Questers snapped their arms to their sides and sunk into the ground, which rippled like water.

 

“Well?!” Gai mocked from beneath the surface. “Now you can’t even find us, hunter!”

 

Titan Silver flipped a dial on his staff. “Drive Detector: Search Mode.”

 

He lowered the staff and used it like a metal detector. He swept across the street with sensor waves that honed in on the Questers.

 

The staff beeped when it got a lock. “There.”

 

He leapt straight up and snapped his weapon closed, into its blaster configuration.

 

“Sniper Mode!” He aimed downward. “Silver Blast!”

 

He triggered a massive spear of pale blue energy that punctured through the street with an explosion. Flames and sparks tore through the ground and hurled the Questers through the air.

 

Titan Silver landed, snapped his weapon into staff mode, and held it over his shoulder. He watched as the Questers climbed to their feet.

 

“I won’t become an Ashu,” he said to Gai. “I’m a hunter, you son-of-a bitch.”

 

The Questers growled and armed their weapons.

 

Titan Silver swung his staff. “Drive Detector! Silver Slash!”

 

He spun and slashed wide, firing a blade of silver energy. The blade cut through the Questers with massive bursts of spark that forced them to their knees. Secondary explosions thrashed their armor.

 

Slowly, Gai climbed to his feet, and Rei did the same. Injured, they breathed heavily.

 

Gai rolled his left hand into a fist and glared at the Silver Ranger. “Takaoka Descendent…Titan Silver…next time…next time…”

 

Mist twirled around the Questers as they teleported away.

 

Eiji powered down his armor, but kept hold of the Drive Detector.

 

The other rangers walked towards him.

 

“So,” Jake said, impressed. “We have a Silver Titan.”

 

“I wouldn’t say that…” Eiji said as he looked at his new weapon. “I just needed this staff. How’d you replicate my khakkhara?”

 

“We didn’t,” Shane said. “I lied.”

 

Eiji arced an eyebrow. “You lied?”

 

“The Drive Detector can’t stop your Ashu blood,” Shane said.

 

Eiji knitted his brow. “But I didn’t become an Ashu…”

 

“You hated the Ashu inside you,” Shane said. “That hatred awoke your demon half.”

 

Eiji shook his head with disbelief.

 

Shane smiled. “You used your own power…to suppress the monster inside you. You’re not an Ashu. You’re our comrade.”

 

“Comrade?”

 

“Let’s adventure. Together,” Shane said.

 

“Together…” Eiji whispered.

 

The hunter narrowed his eyes. He thought of Zadie. Simon. His father. After what happened with his father…his brother…that secret…

 

“No…I told you. I don’t need comrades,” he said.

 

Will scoffed. “What, still mad about being tricked.”

 

“I can’t,” Eiji said as he shoved past them and ran into the distance.

 

To be continued…Chapter 16