The Legend of Zeo: Chapter Twelve
The Lost Week
“I’m just saying,” Kat said as she, Justin, Chris, and Ashley sat at a table in the Pool Hall while waiting for Tommy. “If you want to know, just ask him.”
“He doesn’t like talking about the old days,” Chris said.
Justin shrugged. “This isn’t that big. We just wanna know how he got the Zeo Crystal…”
“So go ahead and ask,” Tommy said, surprising the others as he walked over to their table.
Justin smiled sheepishly. “Yeah, the one time you’re actually early…”
“There is a way…” Zordon said.
Tommy was standing in front of Zordon as Alpha looked over Billy on the medical bed. It was only minutes after the Machine Empire overpowered the Power Rangers and kidnapped Adam, Rocky, and Kimberly.
“How?” Tommy asked.
“The Zeo Crystal,” Zordon said. “The people of the planet Triforia crafted the Crystal long ago to combat the Machine threat and banish them from this galaxy. The Crystal was divided into five separate components, each containing a hybrid of magick and technology. The Zeo sub-Crystals were used to form a Ranger team capable of battling of the Machines.”
“Where’s the Crystal now?” Tommy asked.
“On a deserted planet near Triforia,” Zordon said. “A planet with no name. The Zeo Crystal was hidden there and placed under the protection of a powerful curse.”
“A curse?” Tommy asked in disbelief. “You mean this Zeo Crystal is actually cursed?”
“I am afraid so,” Zordon said. “To ensure the Crystal would not be pursued by agents of evil, its power was connected to the spirits of seven demonic soldiers. These demons lie dormant and will attack anyone who sets foot on the planet.”
“So I can’t exactly just go there and ask for the Crystal,” Tommy said.
“You will have to defeat its demon guardians,” Zordon said.
“Good,” Tommy said. “So I get this Crystal, free the others, and we divide the sub-crystals to fight the Machines.”
“No,” Zordon said.
Tommy wrinkled his brow at his mentor. “No?”
“A frontal assault on the Machine’s base would be suicide, even with the powers of the Zeo Crystal,” Zordon said. “You must bring the Crystal back here, and we will divide its parts up into a new team.”
Justin leaned forward on the table, a smile on his face. “That would be us right?”
“Why didn’t you give the Crystal to those Ninja Rangers?” Chris asked. “Not that I’m complaining…”
“Zordon didn’t think it would be a good idea because of the Youkai they fight,” Tommy said.
“They only fight, like, once every three months at the most now,” Justin said.
Tommy nodded. “I made that point…Zordon didn’t think it was a good idea.”
“So then what?” Ashley asked.
“I left to find the Zeo Crystal,” Tommy said. “Billy stayed behind to recover from his back injury and to work with Zordon, using what they knew about the Crystal to start designing weapons, armor, and morphers.”
Tommy stood on the cliff outside of Angel Grove that the Rangers’ had dubbed the “Space Port” since they often left for their travels into space from that location. He armed his Aura Morphers.
“Kiryoku transform, aura power!” he shouted as he connected the two braces. Energy shimmered around him as he morphed into his Dragon Ranger armor.
Dragon Ranger unsheathed his Thunder Sword and extended the blade into the air while holding onto his Thunder Gem.
“Thunderzord arise! Ryuseiou!” he shouted as the Red Dragon Thunderzord swooped down from the sky. Dragon Ranger leapt into the beast, and they flew out of the planet’s atmosphere and into space.
Ryuseiou streaked through the stars as he came upon the deserted planet said to hold the Zeo Crystal.
“Okay,” Dragon Ranger said to himself. “So far, so good.”
The Red Dragon suddenly cried out in pain as it began plummeting towards the planet’s atmosphere. Dragon Ranger could feel the pain through the link he shared with the zord as they were pulled into the planet’s atmosphere.
The falling zord streaked through the sky like a super-heated comet as it continued its descent. Gray clouds stretched as far as the eye could see over murky swamps and black wastelands. The Red Dragon crashed in the swamplands, and Dragon Ranger was thrown from his cockpit.
He slowly rose to his feet, mud splattered across most of his armor. “What the hell was that?”
Tommy’s armor suddenly flashed red and powered down.
“What the…” before he could figure out the cause of his armor’s deactivation, three figures who appeared to be made of solid mud and black, bony armor leapt from the swamp.
They leapt towards Tommy as the ranger stood back in a defensive stance. “Bring it on…”
The pair of mud creatures charged forward with a flurry of punches and kicks that Tommy managed to block and parry with only one hand. They danced across the swamp at blinding speeds as Tommy continued to block their strikes, probing for weaknesses in their defense.
He grabbed one of the soldier’s arms and twisted it around the creature’s back while swinging the soldier off its feet and hurling it through the air. The mud soldier crashed into its teammate, and the two creatures slid across the swamp ground.
A trio of creatures emerged and charged towards Tommy, but he leapt straight up into the air like a bullet and swooped down towards the lead mud soldier while drop axe-kicking the creature against the collar bone.
The other pair of soldiers dashed forward towards Tommy’s back, but he flipped backwards while grabbing onto a mud’s head and twisting as he snapped his legs backwards and double sidekicked the second creature in the chest before landing.
Another figure rose from the swamp, this one different from the others. He was wrapped in a cloak of mud, and his skin appeared as worn and cracked gray clay. His eyes glowed with yellow energy.
“It is the crystal that you seek, but its power’s ours to keep,” the man said as he twirled his cloak and launched a volley of clay daggers at Tommy.
Tommy extended his hand and used his Ki to shatter the daggers before they could connect.
“Nice,” Chris said as the others nodded in agreement.
“So…” Justin asked. “Did this clay freak actually speak in rhyme?”
“Unfortunately,” Tommy said. “All the seven demons did. This one’s name was Mukath.”
Justin tried to hold in his laughter. “Who names these things, anyway?”
Tommy charged forward and leapt towards the demon with a flying punch.
Mukath’s body liquefied as Tommy’s fist passed through the creature’s chest. Mukath hardened around Tommy’s arm and moved his forehead forward to slam against Tommy’s face. Tommy reached up with his free hand and slammed his palm heel against the demon’s forehead before it could connect.
“Burn Knuckle!” he shouted as the fist caught in the creature’s chest ignited, and the demon exploded in a shower of mud and clay.
Tommy slightly relaxed his fighting stance as he surveyed the swamp around him for any signs of more demon creatures. Satisfied that no immediate danger surrounded him, he moved on.
Try as he may, Tommy couldn’t trigger his morph while trekking through the barren desert of ash outside the swamp. The desert reminded Tommy of the outer circles of Hell.
The heat around him produced a strange effect, scorching his skin while chilling him to the bone at the same time. It almost felt as if the planet itself was against him.
The ranger collapsed to the ground from exhaustion as he struggled to remain conscious. His thoughts drifted to his friends, trapped on the moon by the Machines. He had to save them. He had to carry on.
Tommy’s last thoughts were of Kimberly before darkness consumed him.
Tommy awoke within an underground cavern lying face down on the damp stone floor. He pulled himself up to his feet and looked around the dark cave. It appeared empty.
“Just great…” he said to himself as he shook his head.
As Tommy’s eyes scanned the room around him, he noticed the walls seemed to move and flow as if in waves of fog.
The ranger assumed a loose fighting stance as he felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. “Show yourself, whoever’s there…”
“You seek the Zeo Crystal,” a deep whispering voice said, seemingly coming from every direction. “To seek the Zeo Crystal is to seek death itself…”
“At least I won’t be bored,” Tommy said.
The fog lashed out from the walls and wrapped around Tommy’s arms and legs as he tried to pull himself free to no avail.
The ground in front of him moved and oozed upward before taking shape. It formed a humanoid-type figure who appeared imprisoned within the floor itself.
“This is the fate of those who try to secure the Crystal for their own selfish needs,” the figure said through a mouth of stone. “I tried for it and failed, as countless others have across time. The demons protecting the Crystal are relentless and would attack even the Maker Himself were He to try and take the Crystal.”
“Is this supposed to be some kind of warning?” Tommy asked. “I know about the dangers and they don’t worry me in the slightest. I will get the Zeo Crystal because I have to.”
“Your determination is admirable, but…”
“Listen,” Tommy said. “That Crystal was made for fighting the Machine Empire, an Empire currently attacking my planet. An Empire that’s kidnapped my friends…”
“Those that hid the Crystal here were fools in that respect,” the figure said. “Though in their defense, you’re the first to set foot on this cursed ball of rock for a noble cause.”
The bindings holding Tommy slid back, releasing the ranger.
“I suppose I will direct you towards the location of the Crystal,” the figure said. “Although it will more than certainly lead to your death…”
Tommy was directed towards an underground cavern that supposedly led towards a passage aboveground within a wooded area. This area was said to be the hiding ground for the Zeo Crystal.
Tommy made his way down the narrow tunnel as he heard a loud rumbling noise come from up ahead.
A creature was barreling down the tunnel that had the lower body of a snake and the upper body of a bull. It didn’t take a genius to figure out this was the second demon.
The creature snarled as it increased its speed, and Tommy stepped backward into a fighting stance. He couldn’t risk any powerful attacks for fear of bringing the narrow passage down around him, so he waited for the creature to move in closer.
The bull snake grinned with blood-thirsty pleasure as it continued forward. “Flesh to feed, bone to eat, young little human, ripe with meat…”
The bull snake lunged forward with its arms outstretched, but Tommy dove over the creature and rolled across the ground behind the demon before rising to his knees and turning.
The ranger leapt onto the bull snake, planting his knees in the creature’s back and pulling back hard on its horns. “This is the only chance you and your demon pals are getting…give me the Crystal and I’ll be out of your hair. If not…you and your friends are going back to Hell.”
“Your fate is Hell, in fires below, where demons hunt men, there you will go,” the bull snake replied.
Tommy pulled back as hard as he could, snapping the creature’s neck as its lifeless body slumped to the ground.
The other rangers were a little shocked at Tommy’s description of the battle. Justin summed it up best.
“Brutal,” he said. He always knew Tommy was tough, but he found his leader’s actions on the deserted world surprising none the less.
“Nothing was going to stop me from getting the Zeo Crystal,” Tommy said. “Nothing…”
Tommy walked through the dimly-lit woods with black trees around him and dark soil beneath his feet. He again tried to trigger his morph, but to no avail.
“This is ridiculous,” he said to himself with frustration as he moved on.
He heard rustling noises come from within the woods as he stepped back into a loose fighting stance. “At this rate, I’ll never find the Crystal.”
A lone figure stepped out from the trees several feet ahead of him. The creature was covered in black rags and had a body that appeared to be made of bark. He was the third demon.
The creature extended his hand and launched a long vine with a pointed tip that zoomed towards Tommy’s face. Tommy reacted with more than three years worth of honed experience as he grabbed the tentacle and pulled as hard as he could.
The demon was pulled off his feet and sent tumbling towards Tommy as the ranger jump-reverse sidekicked the creature in the chest, followed by a kick against its face.
“Wood, huh?” Tommy said as he slammed a right palm-heel blow against the demon’s face while spinning forward and slamming his other elbow across the creature’s head. “You obviously have no clue as to what I do.”
Tommy grabbed onto the demon’s wrist and ignited his fire power as the wooden demon burst into flames.
Tommy continued along a mountainous path until he reached a mile-high door of stone with various marks across the entrance. The markings appeared to be an assortment of geometric shapes.
“This is it,” he said to himself as he walked forward.
A large gust of wind nearly knocked Tommy from his feet as he braced himself.
“This is it!” a booming voice said from within the howling wind. “This is the end of your mortal days! Prepare to die in most unholy ways!”
A cloaked figure dropped to the ground in front of Tommy. The demon was dressed in white strips of cloth as well as a dark tan cloak that hid most of his face. The creature extended his hand and the winds intensified, nearly knocking Tommy from his feet.
The fifth of the demon guardians landed besides the cloaked creature. He was dressed in a black robe that matched his dark skin and hollow eyes filled with flowing water. He extended his palm upwards as a small cyclone of water 6-inches high appeared. Razor-sharp throwing stars of water shot from the top of the small cyclone and sped towards Tommy along the wind currents.
Tommy flipped backward and let the wind carry him as the water stars passed beneath him. He was hurtled backwards and landed his feet against the side of the mountain before surrounding himself with a shield of Ki energy and pushing off against the wind current. The resistance created a thunderous boom as Tommy somersaulted forward and drop kicked the wind demon in the chest.
The winds died down as Tommy slammed a palm-heel blow against the demon’s face while spinning and slamming his opposite elbow against his temple.
“Burn Knuckle!” he shouted as he slammed a fiery fist that exploded against the demon’s chest and sent him crashing against the mountainside. The wind demon fell to the ground and began to disintegrate.
Tommy turned to the water demon and snapped into a fighting stance. “You’re starting to bore me…”
The demon extended his hand and launched razor-sharp drops of water that flew towards the ranger like countless pins. Tommy used his Kiryoku to shield himself as he gathered cyan-colored energy between his hands.
“Kiryoku bomber!” he shouted as he hurled the energy sphere forward, and it exploded through the water demon with a cloud of steam and vapor.
Tommy pushed open the large stone door and made his way into the dark cave behind it. The cave was wide with only a single column of light extending from its center. The light surrounded a crystal resting on a pedestal in the center of the room. It was the Zeo Crystal.
“And that was that,” Tommy said. “I took the Crystal and came home. Never ran into the last two guardians.”
He chose not to tell them the rest of the story.
Tommy slowly walked towards the Zeo Crystal as he froze in place, unable to move despite his best efforts.
“You know me…” an unseen voice whispered softly in his ear. “And I, you…”
Tommy tried to answer, but he couldn’t move his jaw. A chill crept up his spine as his hairs stood up on end. The voice was soft, and yet powerful. Masculine. Evil…
“Our paths will cross…” the voice whispered. “You will loose everything you hold dear…You will be responsible for the End. Just as it was before…You are the Dragon…It is your destiny…”
Tommy’s mind raced with confusion. It seemed he had been taunted by evil beings hundreds of time, but this was different. This voice spoke with more certainty. This voice knew something Zedd, Bandora, and all the others didn’t. This voice made Tommy afraid.
“It is this fear that binds your soul. Fear that hinders your Power. Fear that will destroy the universe…I am coming…” the voice whispered. “I am coming…”
Tommy collapsed to the ground as he struggled to calm himself, bring his breathing under control, and keep his heart from pounding through his chest.
“What the hell was that?” he said as he slowly rose to his feet. A pair of demonic figures lied scorched on the ground, their bodies bruised and battered. Whatever had spoke to him had also killed the guardians.
Tommy shook his head, deciding to worry about it later as he reached forward and took hold of the Zeo Crystal.
Tommy returned to the Command Chamber with the Crystal in hand.
“Tommy!” Alpha said with relief. “You’re back!”
Tommy extended the Crystal to Billy. “Here…let’s get started.”
Billy nodded as he took hold of the Crystal. “I have preliminary designs based on some data Zordon has from Triforia. It should only take another day or so to fashion a proper morpher now that we have the Crystal.”
“Good,” Tommy said.
“In the meantime,” Zordon said. “I suggest you return home for some rest. Your quest for the Crystal has left you exhausted, and you will need your strength to fight against the Machines soon.”
Tommy normally would have objected. Normally would have insisted on staying. But his encounter with the strange voice had shaken him up more than anything before. He needed time to think.
Teddy ran over to his older brother as soon as he walked in the door. “Why didn’t you let me come with you, man? I do still have my powers, you know.”
“Powers that won’t work against the Machines, so don’t get any ideas,” Tommy said.
“Then let me have one of these Crystals Billy told me about,” Teddy said.
“Absolutely not,” Tommy said as he walked to his room. “I just lost three of my best friends. I’m not going to lose a brother too.”
He slammed his door.
Tommy stared up at his ceiling as he lied in his bed within the darkness of his room. He heard a slight breeze come from besides his bead and jolted up when he saw the Dark Man standing there.
“Trouble sleeping?” Dark Man asked.
“Get out of my house,” Tommy said. “I’m not in the mood.”
“Would you relax, Tommy,” Dark Man said. “You have questions, so I came.”
“What do you know?” Tommy asked.
“Everything,” Dark Man said. “Don’t let this voice worry you, Tommy…that’s exactly what he wants.”
“Who?” Tommy asked.
“You’ll know soon enough,” Dark Man said. “Just think of this time you’re about to spend playing with the Zeo Crystal as a brief intermission before the real show begins…”
To be continued…Chapter 13