The Legend of Zeo: Chapter Nine

Buried Secrets

 

Throughout Angel Grove East, power fluctuations struck the city. Stop lights went out of control, causing car wrecks at several major intersections. Elevators snapped from their cables and dropped down dark shafts. ATM machines began spewing out cash as citizens frantically scrambled to get their hands on whatever they could.

 

The source of the problem was a giant machine monster codenamed Main Drain by the Command Chamber’s systems. Main Drain had two thick wires that extended from his body and tunneled beneath the streets as they tapped into the city’s power grid.

 

The ZeoMegazord stomped through the streets as it approached Main Drain.

 

“There he is,” Zeoyellow said from the cockpit.

 

“Kind of hard to miss, isn’t he?” Zeoblue asked.

 

“Let’s unplug ‘im,” Zeored said.

 

The machine turned its attention to the robo and dashed forward while swinging a reverse punch. The ZeoMegazord knocked the punch away and slammed its own fist against the monster’s chest.

 

Main Drain fought back by smashing a combination of two kicks against the ZeoMegazord, forcing the robo back.

 

The ZeoMegazord slammed a hook punch across the monster’s head, forcing Main Drain back as the Rangers rotated positions within their cockpit.

 

“Zeo IV Battle Helmet, activate!” Zeogreen shouted from the forward position as the Megazord’s ram helmet came online.

 

The ZeoMegazord charged forward while slamming its horns against Main Drain’s chest armor.

 

The machine was pushed back as blue energy crackled around its body, and a black plating of mace armor appeared over its forearms and shoulder.

 

“Not exactly fair,” Zeogreen said as the Rangers switched positions within the cockpit.

 

“Zeo II Battle Helmet, activate!” Zeoyellow shouted as her dual rocket-tube helmet came online. She aimed the barrels at the machine and fired pulses of energy that exploded against its armor.

 

Main Drain crackled with energy again as mace armor appeared over his head and knees.

 

Zeoyellow shook her head. “He’s using the energy from our attacks to strengthen himself…”

 

The machine fired pulses of energy that exploded against the ZeoMegazord’s armor as the Rangers switched positions within their cockpit.

 

“Zeo V Battle Helmet, activate!” Zeored shouted as the Megazord’s standard winged helmet came online.

 

“Crown Sword!” Zeored commanded as the ZeoMegazord saber came online.

 

Main Drain leaned forward as he launched a volley of spikes towards the robo. The ZeoMegazord swung its saber to deflect the black spikes.

 

ZeoMegazord charged forward while slicing the monster across the chest, causing small explosions to erupt across its armor. The robo then turned and swung a blow diagonally, followed by a horizontal strike that sent the giant machine stumbling backward.

 

Main Drain fell to its knees as the ZeoMegazord moved forward. From the creature’s back, a tentacle sprang loose and plowed through the ground, sneaking behind the ZeoMegazord and erupting upward while latching against the Megazord’s armor.

 

Main Drain sent volts of blue electricity traveling across the tentacle that exploded across the Megazord’s armor, causing explosions to erupt across the Megazord as its systems overloaded.

 

The monster used the tendrils to started draining the robo of energy as more explosions sparked across the Megazord. A plate of mace-like chest armor appeared over Main Drain. The spikes charged with blue energy as jagged pulses blasted against the ZeoMegazord. The blast tore across the Megazord’s armor and shattered the Super Crown Sword.

 

The Rangers were tossed around within their cockpit from the vibrations of the blast.

 

“Every system’s getting fried,” Zeoyellow reported.

 

“Fall back,” Zeored commanded.

 

The ZeoMegazord backed away from Main Drain before retreating back to the Command Chamber.

 

***

 

The ZeoMegazord was in the holding bay as INET teams tended to the damage while working from extension catwalks.

 

The rangers joined Billy in the bay’s control room.

 

“How bad is it?” Tommy asked as he and the others walked over to the former Ranger.

 

Billy shook his head as he leaned over a control panel. “Bad…it may take a few days to repair.”

 

“A few days?” Justin asked. “It barely took that long to build the thing…”

 

“What about that machine?” Chris asked. “We can’t just forget about him…”

 

“Look,” Billy said impatiently, his eyes still fixed on the control console in front of him. “I’m doing all that I can. Most of the systems were fried, and the armor’s basically lost all integrity, so it’s going to take time.”

 

“I’ll help…” Ashley said. “Maybe an extra pair of hands will speed things up.”

 

“Couldn’t hurt,” Billy said. He looked out the viewport as his INET team tended to his damaged creation.

 

***

 

Ashley leaned over a control console in the Command Chamber as Alpha, Justin, Chris, and Kat stood by. She was searching through the zord files for a set of specs she hoped would help her assist INET in repairing the Zeo-zords’ key systems.

 

She was scrolling through the menu items when something caught her eyes.

 

“Hey guys…” she said. “Come look at this…”

 

“What is it?” Kat asked as she and the other moved closer to the panel. Alpha seemed to nervously hesitate.

 

“I found a design,” Ashley said. “It’s called a Warrior-zord prototype…the Red Battlezord.”

 

“Was it ever built?” Chris asked.

 

Ashley nodded as she looked to Alpha. “We have an extra zord?”

 

Alpha took a step back. “Uh…Zordon…”

 

The android looked to Zordon as their mentor spoke. “Billy wanted to be the one to tell you if you were to stumble upon the Red Battlezord, “ Zordon said. “I will respect his wishes.”

 

“What’s the big deal?” Justin asked. “It’s an extra zord for us…just as big as the ZeoMegazord we just trashed.”

 

“It would be best if you spoke to Billy,” Zordon said.

 

***

 

Billy was alone in the Zeo-zord viewing bay when Tommy walked up besides him.

 

“What’s wrong?” Tommy asked as he leaned against the control console.

 

“Nothing,” Billy said defensively.

 

Tommy wasn’t sure how to react, because he had never seen Billy acting this way. He knew for sure though that the former ranger was hiding something.

 

“Billy…” Tommy said as he placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder, but Billy shrugged it off.

 

“Look,” Billy said as he took a deep breath. “I’m just upset about the Megazord. That’s all.”

 

The side entrance to the viewing bay opened as Ashley and the others walked in.

 

“Billy…” Ashley said as they walked over to him. “What’s the Red Battlezord?”

 

Billy closed his eyes as he sighed. “Fine…” He looked up and made his way towards the exit. “Follow me…”

 

***

 

Billy led the teens to an unlikely place: a graveyard. He brought them to a stone that looked as if it rested on a freshly-dug site.

 

“Umm…” Justin said as he looked around uncomfortably. “What are we doing here?”

 

Billy looked down at the grave site, a look of sorrow on his face. “I built the Red Battlezord around a month ago. It was a prototype I started after I made your Zeo-zords. It was designed to interface directly with the pilot’s brain…an artificial equivalent to the bond we had with our Kidenjuu and Dinozords before them. One of my people on INET volunteered as a test pilot. This was him. Lucas Marcum.”

 

“What happened?” Kat asked quietly.

 

“Problems started happening as soon as he strapped himself into the cockpit while in the holding bay,” Billy explained. “The Red Battlezord went berserk. It tore free from the support beams and docking clamps and smashed out of the holding bay.

 

“Lucas tried to bring the zord under control, but he couldn’t. It was like the zord was overpowering his brain. Overloading it,” Billy continued. “The Red Battlezord kept stampeding through the mountains until it collapsed over a cliff and caused an avalanche. The avalanche buried the zord beneath that cliff. Lucas was thrown out of the zord’s cockpit. When it went down. He didn’t make it…”

 

“Billy…” Ashley said as she stood up besides him. “It’s not your fault.”

 

“Yeah,” Kat said. “You had no way of knowing something like this could happen.”

 

“Billy,” Tommy said. “Is this zord still out in the mountains…”

 

“Yes,” Billy said.

 

Ashley snapped her head around to Tommy. “Don’t even think about it.”

 

“That machine is still out there,” Tommy said. “It has to be stopped.”

 

Billy looked back down at Lucas, his hands rolled up into fists. Leave it to Tommy to steal the light.

 

***

 

Tommy ran through the mountains towards the coordinates Zordon had provided. Main Drain suddenly towered into view, casting a giant shadow.

 

“Great,” Tommy mumbled as the machine charged its spikes and fired electric blasts towards the ground.

 

Tommy leapt out of the way as explosions blasted around him, and the shockwave hurled him through the air. The monster stomped forward to attack again, but four streams of red energy crashed against his back. He looked over to see the four Zeo Rangers standing on a cliff and firing energy pulses with their Zeo Rifles.

 

Tommy rose to his feet and readied his Zeo braces.

 

“Ultra Transform!” he shouted as he connected the braces and transformed into his armor.

 

Zeored ran towards the giant pile of rock at the base of the cliff that covered the Red Battlezord. He placed his palm in front of his helmet as his saber appeared in hand. He extended the sword in front of him, twirling the blade as it charged with energy.

 

“Star Riser, ignite!” he shouted as he swung the blade, creating an energy shockwave that tore a path through the pile of rock.

 

He climbed through several meters until he reached the head of the zord and climbed into the cockpit. He took a seat, giving the controls a quick glance before placing his hands on the activation levers to the sides of his seat.

 

“Alright,” he said to himself. “Let’s see if this thing still has some juice…”

 

Nearby, the giant machine blasted the four other Rangers with an electric pulse that sent them flying through the air and crashing onto the ground.

 

Main Drain bent over and picked the four Rangers up, squeezing them tightly before tossing them against the mountainside as they slid back down towards the ground.

 

The machine stomped towards the Rangers as they slowly rose to their feet. Before the machine could strike, the ground started to shake violently.

 

The pile of rock nearby suddenly erupted with a serge of crimson energy as the Red Battlezord arose. The four Rangers looked up at the zord in awe.

 

“So far so good,” Zeored said from within his cockpit as he moved the zord forward to face Main Drain.

 

As soon as the Red Battlezord took a step towards the machine, its systems began to go berserk as the robo started to convulse and go out of control.

 

Zeored tried to stabilize the zord as energy surges flashed in his cockpit, and he felt his connection with the zord sting through his brain like a hot needle.

 

“Gotta get a grip,” Zeored muttered to himself through a clenched jaw as he struggled to gain control over the zord.

 

Main Drain launched a long metallic tentacle that attached to the chest plate of the zord and lashed out with a high voltage blast of electric energy that exploded across the Red Battlezord’s armor.

 

Zeored was tossed around in the cockpit as several conduits running besides him exploded. The Red Battlezord fell to the ground with a final blast from Main Drain.

 

Zeored was hunched over the control panel in front of him as he felt a presence enter his mind through the linkup with the Megazord. Somehow, it was Lucas.

 

Zeored felt the lingering presence of the test pilot intensify with fierce determination. Determination to defeat the machines. Determination to make them pay for what they had done to…Claudia. Lucas’s younger sister Claudia had died in the machine’s first attack on Angel Grove. He was supposed to pick her up from school that day, but had forgotten. She started to walk home when the attack came, and she didn’t make it to a shelter in time.

 

“Claudia…” Zeored whispered as his thoughts started to drift. “Shannon…”

 

Zeored could empathize with the test pilot’s guilt. Could understand the pilot’s need to fight back. To prevent such a tragedy from ever happening to someone else.

 

The Ranger sat upright in his cockpit while tightening his grip over his zord’s controls. Zeored felt the remnants of the test pilot’s mind strengthen his own will. His own determination to fight.

 

Zeored pulled back on the controls as the Red Battlezord rose from the ground in a flash of orange energy, creating a pulse that knocked the machine monster backwards.

 

The Ranger remembered what Kaku and Zordon had taught him about controlling his Kiryoku, and he applied that knowledge to his zord linkup. He didn’t fight against the surge of power, he didn’t fight against the pain…he let the pain work for him. Strengthen him.

 

“Red Battlezord, online!” Zeored shouted as his control over his zord strengthened.

 

Main Drain charged towards the robo as Zeored moved the Red Battlezord forward. Main Drain grabbed onto the zord and attempted to fire a point-blank energy discharge, but the robo knocked the machine’s arms away and lunged forward with a flurry of high-speed punches as the zord’s arm hydraulics kicked into high gear.

 

The machine was forced backward by the sheer speed, power, and relentlessness of the zord as Zeored continued its advance and pushed forward. Main Drain’s armor was dented and cracked as the powerful strikes continued.

 

The machine fell backward with a final hook punch, but it quickly pulled itself back up and returned fire with jagged energy beams. The energy beams exploded against the zord’s armor, but the Red Battlezord remained upright.

 

“Gatling arms, full power!” Zeored shouted as he pulled his control levers backward. The zord’s arms flashed with energy and started spraying lances of orange energy while pumping its joints.

 

The energy lances tore through the machine’s damaged armor and penetrated its main power core. The machine exploded in a brilliant sphere of fire as the Red Battlezord stood victorious.

 

***

 

The five rangers and Billy stood in front of Lucas’s grave shortly after the battle.

 

Tommy looked to Billy. “Part of him is still in there…wants to stay. Stay and fight back against the machines.”

 

Billy nodded. “I suppose it’s possible.”

 

“I know it is,” Tommy said as his gaze drifted back to the grave. “I know it is…”

 

To be continued…Chapter Ten