Chapter 16: Ultimate Overdrive

Eiji’s Past

 

The rangers regrouped at headquarters.

 

“Silver’s the only one who can move freely around the Questers,” Jake said. “Because he gets his energy from those new zords.”

 

“Right,” Max said. “The Neo-Parallel Engines. We’re upgrading your other zords with the same tech. But it might take a week to finish. Maybe longer.”

 

“In the meantime, the only equipment that works belongs to Eiji,” Rose said. “And he’s disappeared.”

 

Kelsey held Kei’s Tear in her hand. “I wonder where he went…”

 

“He’ll be back,” Shane said. “And he’ll join the Titans.”

 

“Why do you like him so much?” Kelsey asked.

 

Shane smirked. “He interests me.”

 

***

 

Eiji returned to his childhood home for the first time in years. He stood in the darkened living room and whispered.

 

“Dad…” he said. “It happened again.”

 

He lowered his head. My Ashu blood awakened…but my hatred of that blood turned me into a monster. How can I make that hatred disappear?

 

The hunter walked into the bedroom and saw the shattered mirror. My blood…it’s all that left of you.

 

“And it killed you!” He swung his staff and slashed the mirror in half.

 

***

 

Gajah looked upon his finished creation: A giant robo powered by a massive Anti-Parallel Engine, the same type of engine that powered the Questers.

 

bou-vi-gagadom

 

“Finally…” he whispered. “My giant is complete…”

 

The robo hummed to life as the Questers took the controls.

 

Gajah narrowed his eyes. “What…What are you doing?!”

 

The Questers laughed.

 

“We’ve been waiting for this machine to come alive…” Rei said. “We can finally part with you, Gajah.”

 

“We’ll be taking this,” Gai said.

 

Gajah watched helplessly as the Questers piloted the robo out of the factory.

 

“You…What are you doing with my giant?!” he shouted.

 

“From now on, this giant is the Quester Robo,” Rei said.

 

“We’ll wipe out all of humanity,” Gai said. “Just sit back and enjoy the show.”

 

***

 

The Driver-zords rode to a mountainous area. The Rangers leapt from their cockpit and landed on the ground.

 

Titan Pink flipped open her tracker. “I’m sure there’s a Precious somewhere in this mountain.”

 

“It must be dangerous to give off a reading this far away,” Titan Blue said.

 

Titan Red nodded. “Let’s move out.”

 

The Rangers ran deeper into the mountains.

 

Suddenly, the ground shook. They looked ahead to see Quester Robo bashing through a mountaintop.

 

“Is that…” Titan Yellow started to say.

 

“The Questers,” Titan Red said.

 

Their suits overloaded with strands of energy that sparked and forced them to their knees.

 

Quester Gai leapt from the robo and landed to face the Rangers.

 

“So, Rangers…” Gai said. “How are you feeling?”

 

Gai!” Titan Red shouted.

 

The villain laughed. “Our Quester Robo has a massive Ryujinn Engine. You’ll barely be able to move, let alone stop us.”

 

The villain armed his blasters and fired darts of golden energy. The blasts exploded against the Rangers with bursts of spark that whipped them backward.

 

Gai shifted his blasters into daggers and charged.

 

He bashed through the Rangers while hacking their armor with bursts of spark. The Rangers scrambled to defend themselves. But with their power blocked, their suits weighed them down.

 

Gai slashed Titan Pink, kicked Titan Blue and hacked Titan Black.

 

Titan Red managed to pounce and slash his Drive Defender. Gai blocked and slashed the Red Ranger aside with a burst of spark.

 

Quester Gai laughed. “How does it feel?”

 

Slowly, the Rangers climbed to their feet. But Gai cut them down with a flurry of hacks and slashes that sparked on impact.

 

The villain swung wide; his daggers fired a blade of energy that slashed the Rangers with massive bursts of spark, whipping them backward.

 

“You are no longer a threat,” Gai said. “You are nothing…”

 

Gai!” a voice shouted from behind.

 

The villain turned to see Eiji run to the scene.

 

“Silver!” Titan Red shouted.

 

Eiji…” Titan Pink said. “Fight with us…”

 

Eiji knitted his brow. “Don’t treat me like I’m a friend.”

 

“But you morphed,” Titan Red said. “You helped us before.”

 

“That was…” Eiji started to say, but he trailed off.

 

“Right now you’re the only one who can move around the Ryujinn Engines,” Titan Blue said.

 

Eiji tightened his grip on his staff, the Drive Detector.

 

Gai shot at Eiji and grabbed his wrist.

 

“Takaoka Descendent…Can you save your comrades? This time…you might not be able to hide your monstrous face. This time…their deaths might be your fault. Just like when your father died!”

 

Gai swung an upper-cut punch that bashed Eiji’s gut and hurled him through the air. The hunter fell over a cliff and landed in the river below.

 

Eiji!” Titan Yellow shouted as she ran after him, but Titan Black held her back.

 

“Kelsey, wait!”

 

Suddenly, the ground shook and nearly knocked the Rangers off their feet.

 

The Quester Robo pulled a massive bazooka from the mountain.

 

“What the hell is that?” Titan Black asked.

 

“That’s the Precious…” Titan Blue said.

 

Titan Pink flipped open her tracker. “Hazard Level 550!”

 

“The Thunder Obliteration Cannon!” Gai shouted as he leapt into his robo’s cockpit. He took a seat alongside his partner. “Good job, Rei.”

 

Quester Robo triggered a burst of fiery energy. The blast smashed into the mountainside like a comet, hurling fire and stone along with a shockwave.

 

Titan Red looked to his teammates. “Back to the zords…”

 

The Rangers returned to their mecha and activated their portable control panels — Titan Drivers. They connected their Overdrive Trackers to their consoles.

 

The Red Ranger pressed the “robo” key on his tracker: “FUSION SYSTEM, ON!”

 

He pressed the numerical keys for the individual zords.

 

“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. The Rangers grabbed their Titan Drivers, and their chairs slid into a central cockpit. They slid their Titan Drivers into place.

 

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

 

DriveMax Megazord Saber!” Titan Red shouted.

 

The Megazord armed its weapon and stomped towards the Quester Robo.

 

Titan Robo chopped. But Quester Robo parried. The evil robo swung its bazooka like a club; it bashed the Megazord’s sword from its hand, slammed the Megazord’s chest with a burst of spark and bashed the Megazord’s head.

 

Titan Blue gripped tightly onto his controls. “It’s no use. We’re not getting any power.”

 

“Squeeze out all the energy you can!” Titan Red said. “We can’t let them use that relic!”

 

The Questers turned their turbines to full power. The engines spun in their chests and crackled with energy, as did the robo’s power source.

 

The engines fired a shockwave that blasted the Megazord with massive bursts of spark that nearly fried its systems.

 

Quester Robo triggered its bazooka and fired a crackling sphere of fiery power. The sphere smashed the Megazord with massive bursts of spark.

 

Secondary explosions ripped across the Megazord’s armor with tendrils of energy. The impact knocked the Rangers from their armor as they shook within their cockpit.

 

Quester Robo took aim to fire again.

 

Shane knitted his brow. “Separate!”

 

Titan Robo started to separate into its individual zords just as the bazooka fired and exploded against the robo. The impact hurled the Driver-zords through the air. They crashed and skidded through the mountains.

 

Shane refused to give up. He spun his Dump Driver around and backed up towards the Quester Robo. The zord extended its arms.

 

But Quester Robo blasted the zord aside like a toy.

 

Gai laughed. “How stubborn…”

 

“This is what happens to those who get in our way!” Rei shouted.

 

“Now…” Gai said. “Let’s use this relic for our next game.”

 

Quester Robo leapt upward, activated its thrusters and flew through the air.

 

***

 

Quester Robo flew through the skies above Los Angeles and opened fire. The blasts exploded through buildings and hurled rubble and debris across the streets. 

 

***

 

Unconscious, the rangers stirred within their cockpits when they heard Max speak through the comm.

 

“Guys…guys, wake up!” Max shouted. “A giant robot is using that relic in Los Angeles!”

 

***

 

Kelsey stirred awake and left her cockpit. She moved to a creek and dipped her hands into the water.

 

Then she noticed Eiji, unconscious on the shore.

 

Eiji…” she whispered.

 

Back in the zords, the other rangers woke. Shane knitted his brow after hearing Max’s message.

 

“Let’s move out,” he said.

 

“How?” Will asked.

 

“Our zords won’t move,” Jake said.

 

“And we can’t fight near that machine,” Rose said. 

 

Jake shook his head. “In a situation like this…we can’t collect the relic. We just can’t.”

 

“What’s our mission? “ Shane asked, determination in his voice. “No matter what the situation, isn’t our mission to collect the Precious?”

 

The rangers nodded silently.

 

Shane grabbed his tracker. “Then let’s move out.”

 

***

 

Kelsey helped Eiji stand and walk farther onto the shore. But he stumbled and nearly fell.

 

Eiji keeled over and breathed heavily, his injuries burning with pain.

 

Kelsey stayed back. “Why don’t you join us…? There has to be some reason…”

 

“I don’t have a reason,” he practically shouted. “I do things alone.”

 

“You caused…your father’s death…”

 

Eiji glared at her.

 

“I heard Gai say that…” Kelsey said softly. “Is it true?”

 

Eiji climbed to his feet. He looked out upon the creek and tightened his grip on his Drive Detector.

 

“The person who killed my dad…was me…and my mother…”

 

***

 

Japan, years ago

 

Young Eiji walked alongside his father next to a creek in the Japanese wilderness.

 

“Dad…” Eiji asked. “What was mom like? You never talk about her…”

 

Karato carried his staff over his shoulder. He sighed and placed his arm around his son.

 

“I’ve told you before. She was kind. And beautiful…After all, she’s the woman I fell for. She had to be, right?”

 

Eiji smirked.

 

Ahead, a man in a rugged suit leapt onto the shore. He wore his shirt unbuttoned, exposing his hairy chest. Bald, he glared with eyes of solid black, demon-possessed.

 

It was Gai, in a human host.

 

“Takaoka Decedent…” he said.

 

Karato lifted his staff into a defensive position and stood in front of his son.

 

Eiji…get back.”

 

Karato and Gai charged at one another.

 

The hunter thrust his hand, pointing his index and middle finger. “Hoi! Joso! Ketsu!”

 

He formed a barrier, but Gai leapt over the construct before it snapped shut.

 

The demon landed with a knee aimed towards the hunter’s head. But Karato dodged, swung his staff and slashed the demon side.

 

Gai staggered backward as blood dripped from the wound. The demon laughed with amusement and tore open his shirt.

 

“Is that all you have, hunter?”

 

Gai snarled and charged to attack.

 

Karato thrust his hand downward. Ketsu!”

 

He formed a barrier beneath his feet that shot him upward. He leapt over Gai and landed on the other side of the demon.

 

Karato turned and thrust his hand. Ketsu!”

 

Gai dove aside to avoid the barrier.

 

The demon rolled to his feet and lunged at the hunter. Karato spun his staff, whacked Gai’s head, and reverse side-kicked his chest. The impact hurled the demon off his feet, and he crashed against the mountainside.

 

Karato dashed forward and pressed his staff against the demon, pinning him against the rock face.

 

Gai…” Karato said. “It’s time to die!”

 

“Finish him, dad!” Eiji shouted from behind.

 

Startled, Karato looked over his shoulder towards his son.

 

“So…” Gai said. “That’s the half-Ashu brat?”

 

Eiji’s eyes widened with shock. “What…What did you say?”

 

Eiji, don’t listen!” Karato shouted.

 

Gai tossed Karato aside and faced Eiji. “Your mother was Ashu. To increase the power of her demon bloodline, she married your father. And her spiritual body gave birth to you…”

 

Eiji stepped backward. “Dad….he’s lying, right? Mom wasn’t an Ashu…”

 

Eiji…” Karato said. “It’s true, but-”

 

Eiji dropped to his knees. He felt his blood boil, twisted and revolting. His eyes glowed white, and his hair turned pale. He screamed, and his teeth turned into fangs. A black, demonic mark etched itself across his right cheek.

 

“Stop!” Karato shouted as he ran to his son and wrapped him in his arms. “Listen, Eiji! It’s true your mother was Ashu…but I loved her. And she loved me. And you…”

 

Gai snuck up behind Karato and stabbed his back. The demon twisted the blade, then twisted again, tearing open the wound.

 

The demon lifted Karato and hurled him aside.

 

Eiji screamed until he lost consciousness.

 

***

 

Eiji’s vision blurred into focus. He sat up and noticed his dad nearby, spread across the ground, barely breathing.

 

Eiji scrambled to his father’s side. “Dad…”

 

Eiji…” Karato whispered. “Listen carefully…” He handed his khakkhara to his son. “The Ashu are weak against this staff. That’s why…with this…you can keep the Ashu blood within you from awakening.”

 

Slowly, Eiji reached out and grasped the staff.

 

Karato smiled. “Good…Don’t let go of it. Ever…Don’t succumb to what you…”

 

His voice trailed off. His body went limp as he breathed his last breath.

 

“Dad…” Eiji whispered. “Dad!”

 

Eiji!” a voice shouted from nearby.

 

Eiji looked to see his older half-brother Tokimori walk to the scene, along with two other monks. They each carried a staff of their own.

 

Tokimori narrowed his eyes at Eiji. “Eiji….what happened.”

 

“It…” Eiji said. “It…”

 

“You did this,” Tokimori said. “It finally happened. I warned him.”

 

“No!” Eiji shouted.

 

Tokimori lowered his head with grief and whispered to his fellow monks.

 

“Take him.”

 

They snapped their staffs into fighting stances and thrust their hands. Ketsu! Ketsu!”

 

They formed barrier after barrier as Eiji scrambled and ran away. He grasped his staff and narrowed his eyes, biting back his tears.

 

He remembered his father’s last words: “Don’t succumb to what you…”

 

Are, Eiji knew. Don’t succumb to what you are.

 

***

 

Eiji tightened his grip on his staff.

 

“If I hadn’t turned into that monster…” he shook his head. “I couldn’t help hating the thing that killed my father. The blood of the Ashu!”

 

He stabbed his staff into the ground. “And my mother. For making me this way. This hatred…it’s not something that will go away. That’s why…I might turn into a demon again. A monster.”

 

He turned and glared at Kelsey. “If that happens, you guys will end up dead, just like my dad.”

 

***

 

Shane, Jake, Will and Rose ran to the streets of Los Angeles. They looked up to see the Quester Robo demolish the city.

 

Rose looked to Shane. “We can still pilot Six and up.”

 

“What about Kelsey?” Will asked.

 

“We can’t wait for her,” Shane said as he flipped open his tracker. “Let’s move out.”

 

***

 

“I’ve fought alongside others before,” Eiji said. “It all ended badly. I’m cursed…If I could throw away my past, I would.”

 

Kelsey knitted her brow. “No…You can never just throw away your past.”

 

“Yeah? What do you know?” Eiji asked.

 

“I understand…because I don’t have a past,” Kelsey said. “Not that I can remember…”

 

***

 

Shane piloted the Sonic Driver, which fired darts of energy that exploded against Quester Robo.

 

The evil robo whined with power, which disrupted Sonic Driver’s systems.

 

Shane pulled up to try keeping his distance.

 

From behind, bursts of jade energy sparked against the robo. Jake piloted the Cement Driver, which fired the cannon within its cement bed.

 

From the other side, Will piloted the Crane Driver, and Rose piloted the Shovel Driver.

 

“Wire hook!” Will shouted. “Go!”

 

“Shovel Arm!” Rose shouted.

 

***

 

“Maybe it’s better you don’t know your past,” Eiji said.

 

“It’s kind of scary…” she said. “But I want to know. That past is a part of me. I only hope when I do find out about my history…I learn my mother was as nice as yours.”

 

Eiji knitted his brow. “She tricked my father. She was just another heartless demon.”

 

“She’s not that kind of person. I met her,” Kelsey said. “She was always watching over you, as a spirit…In the end, she left this…”

 

Kelsey took Eiji by the hand and placed Kei’s Tear in his palm.

 

“I’m sure it’s her soul…” Kelsey said.

 

Kelsey’s tracker beeped. She flipped it open and activated the communicator.

 

“Kelsey, where are you?!” Will shouted.

 

“I have to go,” Kelsey said as she started to run off.

 

“Wait,” Eiji called after her.

 

She stopped, and then turned to face him. “Eiji…do you know what an adventure is?”

 

Eiji gripped Kei’s Tear. The hunter shook his head.

 

“It’s the challenge of trying new things,” Kelsey said. “So making friends, real friends, for the first time? That’s an adventure.”

 

Kelsey turned and ran off.

 

Eiji tightened his grip on the Tear.

 

“She was an Ashu…” he whispered. “She tricked my father and took advantage of him…”

 

He held his arm back to hurl Kei’s Tear into the ocean. But the Tear glowed with pale light.

 

He opened his fist and looked at the Tear, which glistened.

 

***

 

Cement Driver opened its cement bed and fired a stream of energy.

 

Quester Robo dodged, and the energy stream splashed across a building and encased it in stone.

 

The robo opened fire at Crane Driver and Shovel Driver. Explosions sparked around the two vehicles as Jake and Rose struggled to maintain control.

 

“Black! Pink!” Shane shouted.

 

He circled the Sonic Driver around for another pass and opened fire. Blasts sparked against the Quester Robo’s armor.

 

Nearby, Drill Driver throttled onto the scene with Kelsey at the wheel.

 

“Sorry I’m late,” she said. “But I’m with you. We can hold him off until Eiji gets here.”

 

“You were with Eiji?” Shane asked.

 

“He’ll come…” Kelsey said.

 

***

 

Through the Tear, Eiji saw his mother’s face. She smiled.

 

“My mother…” Eiji whispered. “You really were…watching over me…”

 

The light dimmed, and Eiji dropped to his knees. He grasped the Tear and looked up. The hunter sighed and closed his eyes.

 

Through that light, he had felt love, for the first time since childhood.

 

“You and dad…you really did…You loved each other. That’s true, isn’t it? The Ashu blood in me…is proof of that.”

 

The hunter opened his eyes with a look of determination. “I’ll fight the Ashu…but not because I hate them. Not because it’s my mission…”

 

He smirked. “Because, like that Red idiot likes to say, it’s an adventure.”

 

 He armed his morpher. “Overdrive! Start up!”

 

He slapped his bracer’s activation panel and ignited his morph into Titan Silver.

 

***

 

Quester Robo stomped onto Drill Driver with a massive burst of spark.

 

Then, the evil robo blasted the Sonic Driver from the sky.

 

Bruised. Battered. Beaten. The rangers climbed from their damaged zords and regrouped.

 

“What now?” Jake asked.

 

Quester Robo opened fire. The explosion sent a fiery shockwave splashing through the streets.

 

The rangers dove aside as flames blazed around them.

 

“This is it…” Will said. “Isn’t it?”

 

Suddenly, sirens blared through the streets.

 

The rangers looked to see the Rescue Drivers throttle onto the scene: Rescue Fire, Rescue Aider and Rescue Patrol.

 

“Chief!” Kelsey shouted. “That’s him!”

 

Shane smirked. “So you came after all, Eiji. No…Titan Silver!”

 

Titan Silver sat at the controls of Rescue Fire.

 

Eiji!” Kelsey shouted as she waved.

 

Titan Silver skid his zord to a halt.

 

“Double Hydro Blast!”

 

The vehicle armed twin cannons that sprayed hydro energy across the streets, extinguishing the flames.

 

Quester Robo turned to face the zord.

 

Quester Gai growled. “Eiji Takaoka…”

 

Titan Silver lifted his bracer. “Rescue Aider. Rescue Patrol. Attack!”

 

The Rescue Aider and Rescue Patrol throttled towards Quester Robo.

 

The zords fired energy blasts while circling the robo, attacks sparking on impact and knocking the machine off its feet.

 

“OK…” Titan Silver said. “I can’t believe I’m about to say this…Rescue Drivers, Assemble!”

 

He pressed the “robo” button on his bracer. “FUSION SYSTEM, ON!”

 

He turned his bracer’s dial.

 

“FIRE!”

 

“AIDER!”

 

“PATROL!”

 

“SIREN FORMATION!”

 

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

 

FlashPoint Megazord!” Titan Silver shouted. “Siren Builder! First Gear, in!”

 

bou-gg-sirenbuilder

 

Gai! Rei!” Titan Silver shouted. “Bring it on!”

 

Quester Robo launched a fiery cannon blast.

 

“Hydro Blasters!” Titan Silver shouted.

 

The Megazord’s head cannons fired twin beams of hydro energy, which stabbed through the bazooka blast. The enemy blast exploded and dissipated into clouds of smoke.

 

The FlashPoint Megazord zoomed forward and launched a volley of punches that bashed Quester Robo with massive bursts of spark.

 

Quester Robo swung its bazooka like a club.

 

Titan Silver thrust his controls forward, and the Megazord dropped into Trailer Mode, dodging the attack.

 

Titan Silver pulled his controls back, and the Megazord rose to full height.

 

The FlashPoint Megazord punched the bazooka from the Quester Robo’s hands.

 

“Knuckle Vulcans!” Titan Silver shouted.

 

The Megazord thrust its fists and fired cannons that blasted Quester Robo with bursts of spark, knocking the machine several steps backward.

 

“The final blow,” Titan Silver said as he activated his Megazord’s shoulder cannons. “Triple Siren Bomber!”

 

The Megazord grasped its shoulder cannons. The head and shoulder cannons fired pale-blue energy beams that tore through Quester Robo with massive bursts of spark.

 

Secondary explosions tore through the robo, and it burst into fiery debris. The Questers barely managed to jump free.

 

“They got away…” Eiji said.

 

The FlashPoint Megazord snapped a containment card that formed a box, which clamped shut around the bazooka.

 

Titan Silver leapt from his Megazord and landed on the streets.

 

***

 

Eiji powered down his armor as the other rangers rushed towards him.

 

“Precious collection complete. I guess,” Eiji said.

 

“That line…” Will said.

 

“So…” Rose said. “You’re becoming a Titan?”

 

“Doesn’t look like I have much choice,” Eiji said. “You can’t really fight without me anyway, can you?”

 

Shane smirked. “We’ll be counting on you. Eiji.”

 

Shane extended his hand.

 

Eiji hesitated. Then he fist bumped Shane’s shoulder.

 

Eiji!” Kelsey shouted. She moved closer to him and pulled out a silver-trimmed jacket. “Here. A present…”

 

Eiji took the jacket and held it up.

 

Kelsey smiled at the sight. “Try it on.”

 

Eiji arced an eyebrow. “Seriously?”

 

Eiji,” Shane said.

 

Eiji smiled. “Might as well…”

 

He tossed off his black jacket and put on his new, silver-trimmed, SGS jacket.

 

Kelsey smiled. “It looks good on you.”

 

“Let’s not get too carried away…” Eiji said.

 

Shane smiled and put his arm around Eiji’s shoulder. “Let’s move out…”

 

***

 

Tokimori and Gen watched from a nearby rooftop.

 

“Well that was…unexpected,” Gen said.

 

Tokimori nodded.

 

“What now?” Gen asked. “He can turn into an Ashu again at any moment. We need him on our side. Or we need to destroy him.”

 

Tokimori shook his head. “He’ll be OK. Something tells me…he’ll be OK.”

 

To be continued…Chapter 17