Author's Note: The following story takes place in 2004, several weeks after the defeat of Lord Zedd.

 

The Legend of Zeo: Chapter One

Rise of the Machines

 

A large twirling gear crashed silently onto the barren surface of the moon. The gear began spreading and transforming as it anchored itself to the moon with swarms of tentacles and other mechanical devices.

 

A tall castle of spikes grew from the gear. A balcony extended from the main spike that looked down upon the Earth. A large metal figure with a black cape draped around his massive body walked to the balcony and glared down upon the world with his artificial eyes.

 

“Clank…” he commanded.

 

A skinny robot made of pale metal walked onto the balcony and bowed. “Yes, my King?”

 

“Has it been confirmed that the inhabitants of this planet are indeed human?”

 

“Yes, sire.”

 

The Machine King nodded approvingly. “Hmph. Lock onto the center of the planet’s power. Prepare to wipe them out.”

 

Large gear ships launched from the moon and headed towards Angel Grove.

 

***

 

Tommy lied on his back and stared up at the clear sky as he held his girlfriend Kimberly.

 

“Whatcha thinking?” she asked him.

 

Tommy sighed. “I think it’s going to be weird…when we all move away to college in a couple months.”

 

Kimberly nodded. “But we did go to different high schools.”

 

“That was different though. At least we were in the same city. You’re going to Florida.”

 

Kimberly sighed. “Tommy…we’ve been over this before. You know I love you, but I can’t stay here just for you.”

 

Tommy sighed. He felt life was finally starting to fall back into place. Now with Kimberly leaving and college starting, his stability was once again threatened.

 

The skies suddenly blackened as thunderous booms echoed through the air.

 

Tommy and Kimberly shot to their feet and looked at each other with concern.

 

“It could just be a storm,” Kimberly said.

 

Tommy shook his head as he rolled his hands up into fists. “It’s never just a storm…”

 

***

 

Tommy and Kimberly ran downtown and grouped up with Rocky, Adam, and Billy. Citizens were running away screaming as bolts of energy slammed into buildings at random.

 

“It could be those Youkai Jason and the others fight,” Adam said.

 

Billy shook his head. “This doesn’t seem like their style.”

 

A group of crab-like mecha streaked from the skies and landed on the ground as gray android foot soldiers materialized around the battle machines. The five rangers snapped into defensive stances as people ran for cover.

 

“Definitely not the Youkai,” Rocky said.

 

The mecha began advancing and opening fire as the teens scattered out of the way. The streets finally cleared of civilians, and the teens regrouped while arming their Aura morphers.

 

“Let’s do it guys,” Tommy said.

 

“Chakra ignite, Aura Power!” they shouted as they transformed into their armor and dashed towards their enemies.

 

The foot soldiers ran towards them as well.

 

Lion Ranger low blocked a blow, then backfisted and side kicked a soldier, but his attacks were ineffective. The soldier struck Lion Ranger across the collarbone with one swift strike, sending him to the ground.

 

Dragon Ranger flipped through the air towards a soldier while calling out “Twin Dragon Swords!” but the swords did not follow through their target. The soldier opened its faceplate and blasted Dragon Ranger down.

 

The other Rangers were having similar troubles.

 

The Rangers were forced back by the advancing lines of soldiers and regrouped.

 

“I’ve had about enough of this,” Dragon Ranger said. “Let’s bomb ‘em.”

 

“Bomber set…” the Rangers shouted as they gathered spheres of cyan energy between their hands. “…Kiryoku Bomber!”

 

The Rangers hurled their spheres forward, and the energy combined into one massive blast that exploded against the soldiers.

 

The Rangers were in shock when the blast cleared, and the enemy soldiers appeared untouched.

 

Dragon Ranger shook his head. “This is impossible.”

 

***

 

Back on the moon, Queen Machina approached her husband on the balcony. “It appears this planet is protected by a Ranger team.”

 

“How do they draw on their power?” the Machine King asked.

 

“Through their Ki, their own life force,” she said.

 

The Machine King laughed. “Have them brought to me.”

 

***

 

The soldiers pulled back and made way for the heavy hitters to move in. The crab-like mecha moved forward while launching salvos of missiles that exploded across the streets.

 

The Rangers rolled for cover and quickly rose back to their feet to counter strike.

 

“Magna Blast!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he extended his hands and fired a wave of fiery energy that carried a swarm of crimson plasma lances towards the mecha.

 

“Gravity Well!” Tenma Ranger shouted as he extended his hands and fired a torrent of blue gravimetric energy towards the machines.

 

“Hand of Fate!” Lion Ranger shouted as he thrust his fist forward and fired a beam of pale-green light energy.

 

“Celestial Arrow!” Phoenix Ranger shouted as she fired an arrow of golden energy.

 

“Time Crisis!” Kirin Ranger shouted as he extended his hands and produced a jagged distortion wave.

 

Their attacks bounced off the metal shielding of the mecha as the battle machines returned fire. The missiles struck hard against the Rangers’ armor, causing shockwaves that tore through the streets.

 

“Tommy, who are these creeps?” Tenma Ranger asked as he rose to his knees while clutching his wounded right arm.

 

Dragon Ranger shook his head. “I don’t know.”

 

A mech fired a missile salvo, and the Rangers were blasted back to the ground.

 

Lion Ranger quickly rose and leapt through the air with his Thunder Staff while shouting “Thunder Staff Blade.”

 

A mech grabbed the staff and sent volts of electricity through the Ranger’s body, knocking him out. Another mech grabbed Lion Ranger with a pair of giant pincers and blasted off towards the sky.

 

“Adam!” The others called out.

 

The mechs closed in ruthlessly. The Rangers tried to fight back, but Tenma Ranger and Phoenix Ranger were beaten and taken away into the sky as well.

 

Dragon Ranger was surrounded by five mechs. They all closed in as he held his Thunder Sword at the ready.

 

Kirin Ranger flew in and pushed Dragon Ranger to the side, but the Yellow Ranger’s back was stepped on hard as a result. The mech aimed a massive laser barrel towards Kirin Ranger’s face plate.

 

“Billy!” Dragon Ranger yelled.

 

Dragon Ranger used his Kiryoku to lift up debris and shouted “Ki!” as he extended his hand and used the debris as a weapon to knock the mech off the Yellow Ranger.

 

Dragon Ranger picked Kirin Ranger up, and the two Rangers were suddenly teleported away in a flash of white light.

 

***

 

The two rangers appeared in the Command Chamber.

 

“Zordon,” Tommy said as he quickly walked towards his mentor. “Why did you bring us back here? People are getting slaughtered!”

 

Alpha helped Billy to a medical bed.

 

“You can not fight this enemy yet, Tommy,” Zordon said.

 

“Who are they? And where did they take the others?”

 

“They are the Machine Empire,” Zordon said. “They were created on a world much like this one to preserve life on their planet. They were taken over by their own directive when they decided the best way to preserve their planet would be to wipe out its human population.”

 

“Why did they come here?” Tommy said. “Why?”

 

“They move from planet to planet, becoming stronger day by day,” Zordon said.

 

“So where are the others?” Tommy asked.

 

“The Machine King’s command ship on the moon,” he said.

 

Tommy nodded. “I’ll take Ryuseiou and get them back.”

 

“No, Tommy,” Zordon said. “Your powers will not work against this foe. They are creatures of technology. Creatures of unique metal and iron. They repel the magick that is the basis of your powers.”

 

Tommy sighed. “Well we have to do something.”

 

“There is a way…” Zordon said.

 

***

 

One week later…

 

A small plane flew through the sky on its way back to Angel Grove. A group of four teens piled by one of the plane’s side windows as they looked out at the mountainous desert landscape below. They were returning to the city following a two-week vacation.

 

The four teens, soon to be seniors at Angel Grove North, sat alone at the rear of the plane, while the other few passengers sat up front.

 

Kat Hillard smiled as she looked down at the stretch of land. “I never thought a desert could be so beautiful,” she said in an elegant Australian accent.

 

“It’s okay I guess…” Justin Kase said as he looked out the window as well. “…for being so empty.”

 

Ashley Hammond smiled as she nudged Justin out of her way for a better look. “Your head is empty.”

 

Chris Harris wrinkled his brow as he stared out the window from behind Ashley. “Um, guys…what are those…”

 

“Clouds,” Justin said.

 

Chris rolled his eyes. “No…” he said as he pointed towards two flying objects off in the distance. “Those…”

 

The objects were a mech and a missile, heading straight towards their plane.

 

***

 

The missile struck one of the plane’s engines, and the pilot made a heroic effort to land the plane across the desert landscape below. He succeeded, but the plane was severely damaged. His life, as well as the lives of the passengers at the front of the plane, were lost.

 

Only Justin and his three friends survived as they climbed out the rear emergency exit of the plane, battered and bruised.

 

“Hurry,” Chris said as he noticed flames getting closer to one of the undamaged fuel tanks.

 

The teens started to run as the plane exploded and tossed them through the air.

 

Justin slowly rose to his feet and dusted himself off. Ashley and Chris helped each other up while Kat struggled to rise from her knees. Justin walked over to her to help.

 

“Are you alright?” he asked her as he helped her up.

 

She nodded, visibly shaken up from the crash.

 

Beams of energy struck the ground in the distance as the teens stepped back in shock. The beams faded away, revealing a group of metal soldiers they would later know as Cogs. The four teens stared at the Cogs in disbelief and took a few steps back.

 

“Who are they?” Ashley asked.

 

Justin shook his head. “Hopefully they’re as slow as they are ugly. Run!”

 

The teens ran as fast as they could, their lungs aching for air as they pushed themselves to the limit. They eventually made it into a wooded area that lined the border of the mountains outside the city.

 

Once they believed they made it to safety, they took a break in a small clearing to catch their breaths and rest their aching limbs.

 

“How far away do you think we are from the city?” Ashley asked.

 

Chris shook his head. “Not too far…I hope.”

 

“Some summer break,” Justin said.

 

***

 

The Machine King paced back and forth over his balcony on the moon’s surface. “Did you find them?” he asked.

 

Clank nodded. “Yes, but unfortunately they managed to escape the plane.”

 

“How could four children have escaped a plane crash?!”

 

Clank cowered back.

 

The Machine King shook his head. “No matter...”

 

***

 

The teens continued to rest in the woods, reflecting on the events that had just transpired and staying alert in case the machine soldiers reappeared…and reappear they did.

 

Three Cogs dropped from the trees, each carrying short spears. The teens snapped to their feet as the Cogs hurled their spears forward.

 

Justin and the others rolled out of the way from the spears as the soldiers advanced.

 

Kat finished her roll across the ground and rose to her feet just as a soldier fired a net that pinned her to a tree.

 

Another Cog launched several throwing stars that Justin ducked under as they stuck into the tree behind him. He grabbed one of the stars and ran over to Kat, using the weapon to cut her free from the net.

 

Ashley picked up a staff and threw it at a soldier. The weapon electrocuted the villain, and the Cog fell to the ground as its systems fried.

 

“Come on!” Ashley shouted as the four teens ran off through the woods.

 

They reached the end of the wooded area and found themselves back in a desert-like clearing. They ran until they reached a steep cliff. The teens searched for a way around the mountain, but before they could find a safe route, a group of soldiers materialized alongside three mechs. The enemy force had the teens pinned with no where to run.

 

“Things keep getting worse,” Justin said between raspy breaths.

 

Without warning, a motorcycle dropped from the skies in a streak of red light and throttled towards the rear of the enemy formation. The cycle was red trimmed and had a star on the front shield, surrounded by dark crimson.

 

The motorcycle barreled through the formation of Cogs, knocking soldiers down left and right as the rider pulled to a stop. The rider was dressed in a dark leather jacket with a gold star symbol on the left side, and he wore black slacks. His dark helmet appeared nearly seamless.

 

The rider boldly stepped off his bike and removed his helmet as the soldiers scattered. It was Tommy.

 

Tommy readied a brace on each wrist as he crossed his arms in the sky and shouted “Ultra Transform!” while bringing the two braces together. The two braces flashed with green energy as they connected, and a new suit of armor covered Tommy. It was red with gold trimmings, and the helmet had a black star serving as the visor. Tommy had morphed into Zeored.

 

The Cogs charged towards the Red Ranger and attacked.

 

Zeored low blocked a blow and then backfisted a soldier across the head. He moved forward, round kicking a Cog in the gut and knife handing the soldier against its back.

 

Zeored spun around while executing a reverse crescent kick that slammed a soldier to the ground. He turned to his right and jump kicked another Cog in the face.

 

The four watched in awe as Zeored unsheathed his sword and shouted “Zeo Saber!” as he began hacking through a group of Cogs. His movements were fluid and honed by years of experience as he kicked and slashed through the machines with grace and power.

 

The three mechs moved to surround Zeored and opened fire.

 

Zeored jumped over the blasts and readied his side arm. “Zeo Blaster!” he shouted as he fired lances of red energy at the mechs, disabling their weapons. The Red Ranger then combined his sword and pistol and shouted “Zeo Rifle” as he fired at the battle machines and disabled their systems.

 

oh-vb-baradrillWithout warning, a machine monster crashed through a mountain wall and stood between Zeored and the teens. The machine resembled a walking drill.

 

“Star Riser!” Zeored called as his power-sword materialized in his hand. The Red Ranger charged towards Machine Drill as it opened fire with energy blasts. The blasts tore up the ground around Zeored as he continued his charge.

 

Close by, a heavily damaged mech crawled back to life and aimed its weapons at Zeored.

 

“Guys look,” Justin said as he noticed the mech. “We have to help. He doesn’t see it.”

 

“Here,” Chris said as he ran over to a pile of damaged Cogs and lifted a spear. The others did the same.

 

Justin and his group ran towards the damaged mech and hurled the spears towards the battle machine. The spears struck the mech and sent pulses of energy across the machine’s armor, frying its systems. The mech exploded as electricity surged through it.

 

Zeored spun through the air as he cut the monster horizontally with his Star Riser.

 

The mech returned fire with a pulse of lasers that slammed against Zeored’s chest and knocked him to the ground.

 

Zeored rose to his knees and looked up just in time to see Machine Drill charge towards him. The monster slammed its drill against Zeored, knocking the Red Ranger backwards.

 

Zeored rolled with the impact as he flipped back to his feet, and the monster charged towards him yet again. The Red Ranger noticed damage along the monster’s armor from where he had attacked with his Star Riser earlier.

 

“Zeo Blaster!” Zeored shouted as he pulled his sidearm and fired lances of energy at the damaged area while running towards the monster.

 

Machine Drill’s armor was damaged further, distracting the monster as Zeored leapt through the air and thrust his sword into the opening. He pulled his sword down, slicing the monster down its center before pulling his blade free and kicking Machine Drill back. The monster’s systems overloaded and its power cells exploded.

 

Zeored walked towards the teens who were out of breath while standing in awe.

 

“Who are you?” Justin asked.

 

The Ranger struck his fighting pose. “Zeored…”

 

To be continued…Chapter Two