The Legend of Zeo: Chapter Four

Techno Virus

 

The Machine King glared down at the Earth while silently standing on his balcony. His servant, the frail machine called Clank, walked up and bowed his head slightly.

 

“It’s ready, my king,” Clank said.

 

The king nodded. “Good. These Zeo Rangers are proving to be more of a nuisance than I originally thought.”

 

“It’s only a matter of time before you’ll be rid of them,” his queen said from further within his main chamber.

 

The Machine King nodded. “Send it down.”

 

***

 

Tommy and his group entered the Pool Hall within the city. Justin arced an eyebrow as he looked around the diner area, filled with tables, a couch or two, and of course, pool tables.

 

“So this is where you hang out?” Justin asked, apparently not satisfied with the set up.

 

“Yeah,” Tommy said.

 

Justin nodded. “Oh.”

 

Tommy wrinkled his brow.

 

“I think its nice,” Kat said.

 

“Thanks, Kat,” Tommy said. He looked to Justin. “See...”

 

Justin smiled and rolled his eyes.

 

Before the five teens could be seated, their communicators sounded an alert.

 

Tommy sighed as the teens left the Pool Hall to teleport to the Command Chamber.

 

***

 

Billy activated the Viewing Globe and zeroed in on a slightly wooded area outside of Angel Grove.

 

“It landed here,” Billy told Tommy and the others as they gathered around.

 

“What was it?” Ashley asked.

 

Billy looked to Alpha, and the android shook his head. “I’m afraid we don’t know what it was or where it went.”

 

“I am certain it was another machine monster,” Zordon said. “You must teleport to its landing coordinates and try to track it.

 

Tommy nodded. “We’re on it.”

 

***

 

The teens teleported to the area just outside of the city after donning their leather jackets and slacks. Justin questioned their need for the leathers, but Tommy assured him they were useful.

 

“Imagine being knocked out of your Zeo armor, and then blasted across the chest by one of those damn machines,” Tommy had said. “These outfits are made of an unstable molecular fabric Billy designed. They’ll give us some extra protection if that happens. And trust me…it will.”

 

The jackets also had a special feature that would jam any attempt the machines made at tracking them by their Zeo energy signature when not in Ranger form.

 

The teens arrived at the site and began looking around.

 

“Well, this is where it landed,” Tommy said.

 

“Over here,” Chris called. The teens gathered around to see what Chris had found. Two strange footprints were imprinted in the soil.

 

“Bingo,” Justin said.

 

“It looks like it was moving towards the city,” Ashley said.

 

“No surprise there,” Tommy said. “Let’s follow these tracks."

 

***

 

The five teens rode through the city in Billy’s jeep while the former ranger followed the residual energy tracks left behind by the monster. The jeep approached a side street near a large storage building.

 

“The tracks end there at that building,” Billy said over their communicators as Tommy pulled the jeep to a halt. The teens hopped out of the vehicle as a young boy around the age of 12 ran over to them.

 

“Hey Dad!” the boy yelled. “Parking violators!”

 

“Franklin, I told you to stop that,” the officer said as he walked over to his son and saw the teens. “Nice outfits,” he said sarcastically. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to move that jeep…”

 

Tommy sighed impatiently. “We’ll be in and out. If you’ll…” he opened his eyes wide as he noticed the name tag on the officer’s shirt. “Park…you’re Adam’s Dad, aren’t you?”

 

The officer wrinkled his brow, and Tommy thought for a second that the officer might jump him. “Adam? What do you know about my son?!”

 

People from inside the nearby building started screaming as they suddenly ran out in panic.

 

“Let’s go,” Tommy said as he and the others ran inside.

 

Park radioed his headquarters to report the incident.

 

***

 

The teens entered the basement of the building. It was dimly lit with storage boxes and metal shelves cluttering the floor.

 

“It’s down here somewhere,” Tommy said as he looked around.

 

“It might have left already,” Kat said.

 

Tommy shook his head. “I’ve been doing this for more than three years. Trust me…it’s down here.”

 

The monster suddenly sprang through a pile of crates and slammed against the teens. The creature had a large bulbous head making up most of its body with huge red eyes and a large, gaping jaw. Its name was Machine Crusher.

 

The monster grabbed a hold of Tommy and slammed the teen against a wall while trying to bite him. Tommy reached over, grabbed a crate, and slammed the crate into the machine’s mouth.

 

The monster bit down on the crate, shattering it, as the other teens leapt onto its back. The monster released its grasp on Tommy and slammed all five teens away. In the process, he tipped over a small cylinder that crashed to the ground, sparking, and starting a fire that started to quickly spread throughout the entire room.

 

The five teens regrouped among the flames.

 

“Ultra Transform!” they shouted as their armor shimmered to form around their bodies.

 

The monster quickly ran outside to where Park was speaking on his radio to headquarters. The creature grabbed a hold of Park and bit him on the arm.

 

The Rangers ran outside and heard Park scream as the monster’s teeth pierced his flesh.

 

“Zeo Sabers!” Zeored shouted as the Rangers unsheathed their swords and leapt forward while striking the monster with vertical blows. The monster released its grasp on Park and backed away as the Rangers pressed on.

 

“Zeo Rifles,” Zeored commanded as the five Rangers assembled their rifles and blasted powerful pulses of energy that tore through the machine, causing the monster to fall to pieces.

 

“They don’t make ‘em like they used to,” Zeoblue said.

 

The Rangers ran to Park’s side, his arm bleeding profusely.

 

“Let’s get him to a hospital,” Zeored said as he started to lift the officer up.

 

“Get away!” Park said as he pushed Zeored back. “You’ve done enough harm for the day, don’t you think?”

 

A group of squad cars and an ambulance pulled up to the scene as the Rangers teleported out.

 

***

 

Detective Park sat at his kitchen table with a cup of coffee while Franklin was at the stove behind him.

 

Park had a somber expression on his face. Adam was missing, his wife had left him temporarily, believing Adam had run away because he was a poor father, and his superiors at work had given him street cop duties since he was going through a “difficult time with family.”

 

Park turned his head to look at Franklin. He hadn’t let his son out-of-sight for days.

 

“Don’t make that too hot,” Park told his son.

 

“I know, I know,” Franklin said with a smile as he adjusted the stove.

 

Detective Park nursed his wounded arm as he saw the flame. The fire stirred up an odd feeling inside of him, and he felt like every cell in his body was tightening. He gasped in pain as his body started to convulse.

 

Franklin ran to his Dad’s side. “Dad…Dad! What’s wrong?”

 

Park pushed his son away as he stood, and metal wiring started to spring from his skin. Park ran out the door, knocking over the kitchen chair in the process.

 

“Dad!” Franklin called as he ran outside after his father.

 

Franklin looked up and down the dark street of his subdivision, but his father was nowhere to be seen.

 

Suddenly, a monster identical to the machine that bit Park’s arm earlier sprang out from the bushes and grabbed a hold of Franklin. He screamed as the machine carried him away.

 

***

 

Tommy and the other teens gathered in the Pool Hall the next day. They were sitting at a table in front of the room while watching a TV broadcast. Television reporter Lynn Holtkamp was giving a report on several kidnapped children from one of Angel Grove’s subdivisions.

 

Tommy watched with increased concern as he leaned forward.

 

“Not everything is a villainous plot, Tommy,” Justin said. “It could just be a normal kidnapping spree.”

 

Tommy looked to Justin and raised an eyebrow.

 

“You’re going to give me the ‘I’ve been doing this for almost three years’ speech, aren’t you?” Justin asked.

 

Tommy nodded. “Yep.”

 

“Hey,” Chris said as he pointed out the TV. “That’s that Franklin kid from yesterday.”

 

“Adam’s little brother,” Tommy said as he rose from the table. “Let’s go.”

 

***

 

The rangers entered the Command Chamber to find Billy and Alpha examining something on the Viewing Globe. Billy was manipulating a small data pad when he looked over to see the other teens walk in.

 

“I’ve analyzed the remains of this Machine,” Billy said. “…and you won’t be too happy with the results.”

 

Billy and Alpha stepped aside so the rangers could see the Globe. Dozens of metal creatures that resembled worms were swimming and thrashing around.

 

“Yuck,” Kat said.

 

“What are those things?” Tommy asked.

 

Billy sighed. “They’re some kind of a techno-virus carriers.”

 

“A what now?” Justin asked.

 

“These devices enter a victim’s body and infect it with a techo-virus. The virus transforms the victim into a replica of the original machine,” Billy explained.

 

Tommy turned to the others. “So when the machine bit Adam’s Dad…he must have been infected.”

 

“Which mean he’s the monster now,” Chris said.

 

“How can we beat him without killing him?” Tommy asked Billy.

 

“The carriers are sensitive to heat,” Billy said. “Scared of heat is more like it. If you expose him to fire, it might be enough to flush the virus out.”

 

“Good,” Tommy said. “Now, what about the kids that were kidnapped?”

 

Zordon spoke up. “I can only assume they’ve been kidnapped to be infected.”

 

“We have a lock on their location now,” Alpha said.

 

“Good,” Tommy said. “but we have to get to Adam’s Dad first. Justin, you come with me to his station. The rest of you, stake out the location Alpha has.”

 

***

 

Detective Park sat at the police headquarters’ lounge reading a newspaper as he wiped sweat from his brow. His hands were shaking and his skin was pale.

 

Another officer entered the room and sighed with fatigue as he leaned against a wall and started to light his cigarette.

 

“You haven’t been missing much in the homicide division, Park,” he said as he switched on his lighter.

 

Park saw the light through the corner of his eye as the parasite within him reacted. Metal tendrils popped through Park’s skin as he shot up from his chair and stepped back away from the other officer.

 

The other officer screamed as a parasite leapt from Park’s body and into the other man’s mouth.

 

Adam’s father leapt through the window as the other officer fell on the ground, gagging on the parasite.

 

Tommy and Justin barged into the lobby after arriving at the station and hearing the man’s scream.

 

The parasite leapt out of the officer’s mouth and streaked towards the two teens. Justin swatted the parasite from the air as Tommy grabbed an aerosol can, lighter, and ignited the creature. It squealed a hideous sound as it dissolved on the floor.

 

“That was the sickest thing I’ve seen yet,” Justin said.

 

“Looks like we just missed him,” Tommy said as he looked to the broken window. “Let’s go.”

 

***

 

The machine monster was pacing back and forth across the floor of a lobby area inside a recently closed office building. Clank was standing nearby, along with his counterpart droid Orbus.

 

Clank nodded with approval as he looked at the group of kids tied onto bio-beds with electronic monitoring equipment installed.

 

“Everything is going according to plan,” Clank said. “The King will be pleased.”

 

The five Zeo Cycles suddenly crashed through the lobby window and landed on the floor as they screeched to a halt. The teens hopped off their bikes and removed their helmets as they moved forward to face the machine monster.

 

“Let the kids go!” Tommy shouted.

 

Clank glared at them. “Not without a fight…”

 

“Let’s do it guys,” Tommy said as he readied his Zeo Braces.

 

“Ultra Transform!” the five shouted as their armor activated in a pulse of light.

 

The Rangers struck defensive poses as they shouted, “Ultra Task Force, Zeo Rangers!”

 

A group of Cogs dropped to the ground and charged towards the Rangers.

 

Zeored leapt forward and slammed a flying sidekick against a Cog’s chest.

 

Zeoblue flipped backwards while kicking a soldier upside the head.

 

Zeoyellow snapped out with a reverse hook kick, smashing her heel across a soldier’s head.

 

Zeogreen slammed a hook punch across a soldier’s face before striking that Cog with an uppercut to the chest.

 

Zeopink slammed a knifehand blow across a Cog’s head before elbowing that Cog in the chest.

 

Zeored took out the last Cog with a reverse sidekick to the head as he saw the machine monster run off into a back room.

 

“Kat, Ashley, free the kids,” Zeored said. “Justin, Chris, you’re with me.”

 

The three Ranges ran through the back room and entered a dimly-lit, three-story storage area.

 

“Where’d he run off to?” Zeoblue asked as the three Rangers looked around the room.

 

Red optic blasts speared out from nowhere and exploded around the Rangers as they rolled for cover. The blasts ignited flammable materials as the storage room quickly caught fire.

 

The machine monster retreated from the flames and tried to find the nearest exit to the room. He started convulsing as he reverted back to his normal form. He crawled backwards away from the flames as he saw Franklin run towards him.

 

“Dad!” he shouted.

 

Zeoyellow and Zeopink regrouped with their three teammates as they ran after Detective Park.

 

“Get away from me, son,” Park said as Franklin ran closer.

 

“But dad…” Franklin said with tears in his eyes as he reached his father’s side.

 

“Get away,” Adam’s dad pushed Franklin away and retreated further away from the room as he pulled out his gun and aimed it at his own head.

 

“No!” Zeored yelled as he and the other Rangers ran towards Detective Park.

 

“I have to,” he said.

 

Zeored pulled out his Zeo Blaster and shot the gun out of Park’s hand.

 

“Come on,” he said to his teammates as they ran towards Detective Park and grabbed a hold of him.

 

They dragged him over to where the flames were ravaging the storage room and held him close to the fire as he screamed.

 

“Fight it,” Zeored said. “Do it for Adam.”

 

Detective Park continued to scream as his body convulsed. The carrier leapt out of Park’s mouth and landed on the ground.

 

Zeored aimed his blaster at the parasite and destroyed it.

 

The Rangers stepped away from Park to let him try and catch his breath.

 

***

 

The teens stood in the distance as they watched Detective Park and Franklin stand near the officer’s car.

 

“Dad…I miss Adam,” Franklin said.

 

“Me too son…” Detective Park said as he reached out and squeezed his son’s shoulder.

 

Tommy sighed as he watched the scene.

 

Kat placed a hand on his shoulder. “You were there for Adam even in his absence.”

 

Tommy nodded.

 

“We’ll get him back…all of them,” Justin said.

 

“I know,” Tommy said. “Let’s get going. We’ve caused these two enough trouble.”

 

They walked away and returned to the Command Chamber.

 

To be continued…Chapter Five