The Legend of Zeo: Chapter Seven

The Last Dance

 

“My tie…” Tommy said as he paced across his room frantically while his younger brother Teddy and Simon stood in the doorway. “Can’t find my tie…”

 

Simon chuckled. “What are you so worked up about?”

 

Tommy continued his search. “The school’s putting on a dance at the Pool Hall tonight for all us graduates. Kind of a last goodbye thing…Since Kimberly’s leaving for Florida tomorrow morning, this will be our last night together.”

 

Teddy smiled. “Better make it count, big brother.”

 

***

 

Ashley leaned over a control console in the Command Chamber alongside Billy as they looked over specs for their Ranger armor, morphers, and weapons.

 

“The morphing sequence is rather complex,” Billy finished explaining. “But like I said, in this case it was all outlined in the crystal structure itself. It was only a matter of unlocking its properties and harnessing its morphagenic properties.”

 

“Incredible,” Ashley said as she shook her head, in awe.

 

Billy smiled, clearly pleased that Ashley was enjoying himself. Few people understood his passion for science, and even fewer were as attractive as Ashley.

 

“How do our zords interface with the Zeo Crystal?” Ashley asked.

 

“I’ll show you,” Billy said with a smile as he led her further into the Command Chamber.

 

***

 

Tommy and Kimberly walked hand and hand onto the dance floor as a slow song played in the background. They wrapped their arms around each other and swayed to the music.

 

“I’m sorry things have been crazy lately,” Tommy said quietly.

 

She held him tighter.

 

“Hey,” he said reassuringly. “It will be okay…”

 

“Will it?” she asked as she lifted her head up and looked into his eyes. “Tommy…I love you, but I can’t just…I can’t do this forever. I know why you do what you do, and I still admire it…but…It’s like I’m only a part of your life when it’s convenient for you…I…god, Tommy, I died, and I was held captive by those Machines…I’m still dealing with those things, and on top of that worrying about you…I know this sounds selfish Tommy, but I have needs too. And you’re not…”

 

She shook her head as she lowered her head away from his eyes.

 

“Hey,” Tommy said. “I…listen I know I haven’t been there for you a lot lately. You’re not being selfish…I love you. You love me. We can make this work.”

 

“Tommy, I’m leaving tomorrow for Florida,” she said. “It’s not going to get any easier…”

 

***

 

Ashley and Billy went back into the main Command Chamber after examining the Zeo-zords.

 

“Have you ever thought of coming up with a better transportation program for the zords?” Ashley asked.

 

“Their size makes it difficult,” Billy said. “I suppose using holographic entryways might be a-”

 

Alarms started to blare as the Viewing Globe displayed an image of the latest machine monster storming through an outdoor plaza within the city. It was a creature of twisted black metal with dull gold blades extending from its body. It resembled a mechanical scorpion.

 

“This is the Machine Empire’s latest creation,” Zordon said. “He appears to be armed with darts laced with bio-toxins fatal to plant and animal life. Alert the Rangers immediately.”

 

“Right away, Zordon,” Alpha said.

 

Billy looked to Ashley. “You better get going.”

 

She nodded. “Wish us luck…”

 

***

 

Tommy and Kimberly continued to sway across the dance floor.

 

“I don’t want to give up on us,” Tommy said. “We’ve been through so much…”

 

“I know, but I…”

 

The sound of Tommy’s communicator interrupted them.

 

“Kimberly…” Tommy said. “Tell me we can make this work.”

 

The communicator sounded again, and Tommy ignored it as he looked into Kimberly’s eyes. “Please…”

 

The communicator sounded again as a tear streamed down Kimberly’s face. “You’d better go…”

 

Tommy sighed. “I love you.”

 

She nodded as he leaned forward. The two kissed slowly, knowing it would probably be their last, before pulling apart. Tommy gave her a longing look before leaving the Pool Hall.

 

***

 

Justin, Chris, Ashley, and Kat ran across College Street Plaza while in their black uniforms as they came to a stop in front of the machine monster. Clank stepped forward on an overhang walkway that extended over the plaza.

 

“Clank again,” Justin said as the four rangers assumed defensive stances.

 

“Zeoranger,” he said as he glared down at the teens. “This is the best marksman in the empire. Your luck has just run out.”

 

“I don’t think so, tin-head!” Tommy shouted as he ran to the scene, still in his tux. The other rangers grouped around him as they readied their Zeo braces.

 

“Do it now,” Clank shouted to the machine monster.

 

The mechanical creature launched a volley of darts at the five teens.

 

“Break!” Tommy shouted as they leapt for cover, but the darts curved through the air and stabbed against Tommy, Chris, and Justin.

 

They rose to their feet as the three guys removed the darts from their bodies. A wave of vertigo suddenly struck them as they collapsed to the ground.

 

Kat and Ashley ran to their sides.

 

“What’s wrong with them?” Kat asked.

 

“Those darts were toxic,” Ashley said with concern as her three teammates slipped away from consciousness.

 

The machine monster reloaded his dart throwers as Ashley and Kat retreated back to the Command Chamber with the injured rangers.

 

***

 

Tommy, Chris, and Justin lied unmoving on the Command Chamber’s bio beds as Alpha and Billy examined them. Their skin was turning red as their vital signs slowly dropped.

 

“Zordon,” Ashley said as she and Kat stood in front of their mentor. “We have to do something…they’re dying.”

 

“Billy…” Zordon asked. “Can you and Alpha develop a method to counteract the bio-toxins?”

 

Billy shook his head as he looked over Justin with a scanning device. “I’m not sure yet…I’ve just gotten their vital signs stable. We have until dawn before the effects of the toxins are irreversible.”

 

***

 

Hours passed in the Command Chamber before the alarms started to blare. Ashley and Kat stood in front of the Viewing Globe as it displayed an image of the machine monster using its darts to strike down civilians and plant life at every turn.

 

“The latest machine monster has returned,” Zordon said. “Try to retrieve one of its raw dart devices. Perhaps Billy can use the device to create a countermeasure against the bio-toxins.”

 

“Well,” Ashley said. “What are we waiting for?”

 

***

 

Ashley and Kat ran up a white-brick staircase that was as steep as it was wide as they approached the Clowes Memorial Hall plaza area where the machine monster had driven off most of the civilians.

 

The machine turned to face the girls as it laughed, a cold metal grating sound. “Looks like I missed two. A problem that is easily remedied.”

 

The girls readied their Zeonizers.

 

“Ultra Transform!” they shouted as they morphed into their armor.

 

Zeoyellow leapt forward and launched a flying sidekick that slammed against the machine. Zeopink followed with a flying sidekick of her own.

 

The machine swung his backfist in a powerful blow that knocked the two Rangers backward. The monster built up a pulse of electricity in his spikes and fired the blast forward as it exploded against the Rangers’ armor with bursts of spark.

 

The two Rangers rose to their feet as the machine charged forward.

 

Zeopink swung a knife-hand chop towards the monster, but it blocked the strike before bashing the Ranger away.

 

The machine turned its attention towards Zeoyellow and grabbed her by the neck before tossing her backward, slamming her against a pillar.

 

Zeoyellow recovered as the machine stalked towards her, grabbed her by the neck, and tossed her onto the staircase.

 

Zeopink moved in from besides the creature and snapped an outer crescent kick across its armor before spinning an elbow strike towards its chest. The machine blocked the blow and slammed the Ranger to the staircase as Zeoyellow moved in.

 

Zeoyellow launched a flurry of front and round kick combinations that forced the machine back a few steps before the monster slammed its fist against Zeoyellow’s knee. The Ranger fell a few more steps down as Zeopink moved in with a combination of kicks and punches. Zeoyellow recovered and leapt forward with a jump kick towards the machine, followed by a spinning reverse hook kick.

 

The machine knocked Zeoyellow backward before turning to Zeopink and blasting her with an electric burst that exploded against her armor and sent her crashing down the stairs as she was forcibly demorphed.

 

The machine stalked down towards her as he armed his poison darts and fired, striking Kat in the arm.

 

“No!” Zeoyellow shouted as she double kicked the monster back.

 

Zeoyellow ran down to Kat’s side and teleported with her back to the Command Chamber.

 

***

 

“We need one of his darts with the bio-toxin still active inside it,” Billy said to Ashley as she paced back and forth in the Command Chamber.

 

“I’ll go back,” Ashley said. “Without morphing into Ranger form. I can trick him into firing a dart at me and catch it in some kind of container.”

 

“It’s too big of a risk,” Billy said.

 

“I agree,” Zordon said from his holographic tube. “We can’t afford losing you as well.”

 

The alarms started blaring as the Viewing Globe displayed an image of the machine stomping through a park within the city alongside a group of Cogs.

 

Ashley turned to Zordon. “I have to go…”

 

Zordon reluctantly nodded. “Very well, Ashley. Take caution.”

 

***

 

The machine monster and Cogs tore through the park as Ashley appeared on a hill looking down upon them.

 

“Remember me?” she shouted as she assumed a fighting stance and readied her Zeo braces. “Ultra Transform!”

 

“Cogs,” the machine commanded. “Clean up my leftovers…”

 

The machine soldiers charged forward as Zeoyellow ran towards her opponents.

 

She slammed a jump kick against a Cog’s face before spinning a roundhouse kick that knocked the soldier to the ground. A second Cog swung a staff towards her collar bone, but she blocked the blow with her forearm before snapping a round kick against the soldier.

 

The machine monster fired a barrage of electrical energy that Zeoyellow rolled out of the way from as explosions sparked around her. One blast exploded against her chest as she was rising to her knees, and she rolled backward across the ground as her armor powered down.

 

The machine stalked towards her while priming his poisoned darts. “You’re next, my dear…”

 

Ashley tried crawling backwards away from the monster, a look of fear in her eyes.

 

***

 

Kimberly walked into her empty apartment and sat down on her couch as she sighed, contemplating whether or not she wanted to turn on the television and see what her boyfriend was up to.

 

She leaned back on the couch and slid from her shoes as she looked to the coffee table to her left, where a picture of her friends rested. She picked up the frame and ran her fingers along the picture as a tear streamed down her cheek.

 

The picture was of all of them. Jason, Zack, Richie, Jonathan, Trini, Tommy, Rocky, Adam, Billy, her, and Kou.

 

The picture represented more than three years of her life. Three years of friendship, rivalry, happiness, sorrow, pain, and joy. A three year roller coaster ride complicated by demons, warlords, demi-gods and death itself.

 

Even now that her part in the war was over, she was still bound to it.

 

She leaned back against the couch as she set the picture down and slowly ran her hand over her stomach.

 

***

 

Ashley continued to back away as the machine monster stalked forward. “Goodbye…”

 

The monster fired a dart that struck Ashley in the center of the chest as she fell to the ground.

 

The machine monster stood up, just as Ashley sprang to her feet. The machine stepped back in shock as Ashley removed a plating of armor beneath her shirt and held onto the dart.

 

“Thanks for the gift, metal head,” Ashley said as she teleported away.

 

***

 

Ashley arrived in the Command Chamber and walked over to the bio-beds before placing the dart on a small table.

 

“Here’s your bio-toxin,” she said as Billy scanned the dart with a hand-held device.

 

“Perfect,” Billy said as he nodded. “This is just what we need. I should have something in 30 minutes…”

 

“Is that soon enough?” Ashley asked.

 

Billy nodded. “If I hurry.”

 

“Good,” Ashley said as she hurried to the center of the Command Chamber. “I’ll hold off the machines until they can show up.”

 

***

 

Kimberly tossed and turned in her bed as the sun’s rays started to creep through her window, freshly risen from the outside horizon. Tommy hadn’t called her all night.

 

She knew he wasn’t dead…she would have felt it. She still worried regardless. She hadn’t been able to sleep at all.

 

She reached over and looked at her alarm clock. She had to be at the airport to leave for Florida in three hours.

 

***

 

Ashley snapped into a fighting stances as a group of Cogs moved towards her in the park. The machine monster primed a volley of poison darts.

 

Ashley readjusted her stance, her muscles weary from an endless night that had meshed seamlessly with the coming of dawn.

 

“Get it your best shot,” she said.

 

“Ashley!”

 

She turned, and her face lit up to see her four teammates running to her side.

 

“Impossible,” the monster grumbled at the sight of the other rangers.

 

“Are you guys okay?” Ashley asked as they all assumed defensive stances.

 

“Been better,” Justin said.

 

“Let’s take care of business,” Tommy said. “It’s morphin time!”

 

“Ultra transform!” they shouted as they connected their braces and activated their armor.

 

The Rangers activated their power weapons and charged forward as they crashed against the line of Cogs that surrounded the machine monster.

 

Zeored used his Star Riser sword as he moved through the trees, cutting down soldiers left and right. He parried a Cog’s blow before dashing forward while cutting through that soldier’s chest. He front kicked a Cog in front of him and turned to his right while swinging his blade through a soldier’s neck.

 

Two soldiers ran in from both sides of Zeogreen and swung their staffs towards his head, but the Ranger used his two axes to block the blows and push the Cogs backward. Zeogreen moved forward while swinging his right axe against the collar bone of a Cog, then he swung the left axe upward while striking that soldier across the chest.

 

Zeoblue leapt over a Cog and rolled across the ground while rising to his knees and using his right tonfa to block a soldier’s staff. He spun while rising to his feet and knocking that soldier back with his left arm blade. Another Cog swung a staff towards him, but Zeoblue dove over the staff and rolled across the ground. He rose to his knees and blocked a soldier’s staff with his left arm blade, then swept the Cog to the ground while twisting around and slamming his right arm blade against the soldier’s neck.

 

Zeopink and Zeoyellow ran towards the machine monster while holding their weapons ready.

 

The monster fired a volley of darts that Zeopink blocked with her shield as Zeoyellow leapt off Zeopink’s shoulders and angled her descent towards the monster. The machine fired another volley of darts that Zeoyellow deflected by twirling her nunchuku.

 

Zeopink moved in low as Zeoyellow came down from above, and the two Rangers slammed their weapons against the mechanical creature.

 

The machine retaliated with an electrical pulse that exploded against the two Rangers’ armor and sent them falling backward.

 

The other three Rangers ran over to the two girls as they rose from the ground.

 

“Ultra Blaster,” Zeored commanded his team to bring their weapons together and form the Ultra Blaster cannon.

 

“Fire!” they shouted as they launched a powerful energy bolt that exploded through the machine as it fell backwards to the ground.

 

Clank stepped into view from on top of a hill and swung Orbus towards the fallen monster. Orbus latched onto the machine and activated the expansion program that allowed the fallen monster to recover and grow giant.

 

“Zeo-zords, mobilize!” the Rangers shouted as they raised their hands into the air.

 

The zords charged to the Rangers’ location on auto pilot while activating their retrieval system. The Rangers streaked into their cockpits in multi-colored beams of teleportation energy.

 

“Zeonizer Crystals!” the Rangers shouted as they inserted the small crystals from their morphers into their forward control consoles.

 

“Ultra Fusion!” Zeored commanded as the zords activated their combination program and formed their giant fighting robo.

 

“ZeoMegazord!” the Rangers shouted from their cockpit.

 

The machine tackled against the ZeoMegazord, but the robo knocked the monster away before slamming a backfist blow against its armor.

 

The monster moved forward again, slamming its spikes against the Megazord’s armor while firing a pulse of electricity at point-blank range that exploded against the robo.

 

“Zeo II Battle Helmet, activate!” Zeoyellow commanded as her battle helmet lowered onto the Megazord.

 

“Fire!” she shouted as her helmet’s rocket launched fiery pulses of energy that exploded against the creature.

 

“Zeo I Battle Helmet activate!” Zeopink commanded as she brought her helmet online.

 

“Fire!” she shouted as the helmet fired pulses of pink energy that knocked the machine backward.

 

“Zeo V Battle Helmet!” Zeored shouted as the standard helmet activated, and he brought the ZeoMegazord saber online.

 

The Megazord dashed forward while slicing the monster horizontally and turned to deliver the finishing blow.

 

“Grand Final Crash!” the Rangers shouted as the Megazord’s saber energized and cut through the monster. The machine’s systems overloaded as it fell backward and exploded.

 

***

 

Tommy raced through the airport as fast as he could, not bothering to apologize to the people he bumped into or accidentally shoved aside.

 

His lungs burnt and his joints ached more with every movement, still not fully recovered from the bio-toxin, but he didn’t let that slow him down in the slightest. He had to make it to see Kimberly. He had to.

 

***

 

Kimberly stood by the flight gate as passengers for the rows ahead of her were allowed to board. She picked up her bag and slung it over her shoulder as she looked at the gate ahead with mixed emotions.

 

She would miss Tommy and the others. They were like family to her. Even so, she couldn’t help but wonder if maybe leaving was a good thing. Throughout her whole life she had been identified by the group in which she belonged. She never had a chance to figure out who she was for herself. To start her own life…maybe you had to have a life of your own to share it with someone.

 

The flight attendant announced the final boarding call.

 

***

 

Tommy pumped his legs faster, determined to find Kimberly. He had to talk to her. Tell her they’d work things out…make things work. He’d be there for her more. Let her know she wasn’t just someone sitting on the sidelines of his life. She was important to him.

 

He made it to the gate just in time to see the entrance slam shut.

 

“No!” he shouted as he ran towards the door. “Don’t let that plane leave yet…” he pleaded frantically with a flight attendant.

 

“Sir,” she said as she held up her hands. “I’m going to have to ask you to calm down. These are difficult times and I will call security if I need too…”

 

Tommy ignored the flight attendant as he looked out the window to see the plane start to roll off the runway. He walked over to the window and placed his hand on the glass as the plane inched further and further away.

 

“Kimberly…” he said softly.

 

***

 

The next day, Tommy sat at Bear Lake as he tossed pebbles into the water in front of him. Kimberly had reached out to him after his time as Bandora’s Green Ranger. She cared for him. She extended her friendship and more. She comforted him with his inner struggles. She made him laugh when he was down. And all that time…what did he do for her? He couldn’t even be there for her to see her off.

 

He shook his head.

 

Ashley walked up from behind him and took a seat, watching him toss the pebbles. “Looks fun…” she said with a smile.

 

“Blast and a half,” Tommy said.

 

“Did you talk to her?” Ashley asked.

 

Tommy shook his head. “I just missed her. I sent her an e-mail since I don’t know her number down in Florida…she hasn’t responded yet. Probably safe to assume it’s over…maybe this is for the best…”

 

Ashley nodded. “I’m sorry…”

 

Tommy tossed another pebble into the pond.

 

“How are you feeling besides that?” Ashley asked, trying to change the subject. “Chris has been complaining all day about that toxin…”

 

“I’m still a little sore, but I’ll manage,” Tommy said. “Thank you, by the way. For saving us.”

 

She smiled. “I can’t let you always hog all the glory.”

 

Tommy chuckled. “Gee, thanks.”

 

The two sat in silence for the remainder of the hour as they both tossed pebbles into the lake.

 

To be continued…Chapter Eight