The Legend of Zeo: Chapter Twenty

Defeat

 

Simon was struggling to fall asleep within the comfort of his bed at night. Try as he may, he couldn’t lose himself to his dreams. Something wasn’t right in the air. Something felt wrong.

 

The 13-year-old heard a small buzzing noise come from outside his window, and he wrinkled his brow with confusion. He rose from bed, his blonde hair a mess, as he walked over to the window. He didn’t see anything, but he knew something was out there.

 

Simon quietly went downstairs and outside as he followed the noise. He froze in his tracks when he saw the source. It was a Machine that resembled a robotic caterpillar with several bronze-armored spherical segments connected to one another.

 

Simon opened his eyes wide. “A Machine monster…”

 

The creature faced the city and emitted an energy pulse that vibrated the very air. Simon narrowed his eyes to try and see exactly what was happening. It was then that the monster turned to face him.

 

Simon backed away from the creature, but tripped backwards and fell, bashing his head against the ground.

 

The Machine turned and started to walk away, still emitting its energy pulse.

 

***

 

Tommy’s clock alarm went off the next morning as he reached over and slapped the snooze button. It was 7 a.m., and he had to be at the Hayate Way school to help with instruction in an hour. He rose from bed, and he knitted his brow with confusion as the clock started flashing on and off. The clock then flew from his nightstand and crashed through his window.

 

“Looks like it’s going to be one of those days,” he said as he threw on a pair of slacks and a shirt before going out to investigate.

 

He noticed several people run from their houses screaming through the suburbs where he lived.

 

“Tommy!” Teddy shouted as he ran outside. “What the hell is going on, bro?”

 

Tommy shook his head. “I don’t know yet…”

 

“Tommy!” Simon shouted as he ran down the street. “Last night, there was one of those Machine things out here. A monster.”

 

The screaming intensified as Tommy noticed several cars screeching out of control and chasing after pedestrians. Various electrical pieces of equipment appeared to be wreaking havoc as if they had minds of their own.

 

Tommy activated his communicator. “Alpha, something weird is going on…”

 

“Ay-yi-yi…” Alpha said. “A Machine monster has hacked into anything with a computer chip within Angel Grove North, causing them to go berserk!”

 

Tommy nodded. “Contact the others. I’m on my way to the Command Chamber.”

 

“We’re coming with you,” Teddy said.

 

Tommy sighed. He didn’t have time to argue. “Fine.”

 

***

 

The Machine monster moved farther east in the city as its pulse intensified and spread. The carrier waves reached outside of city limits and interfaced with the Zeo Rangers' mecha hanger bay and Command Chamber.

 

In the mecha hanger, various terminals exploded as INET personnel ran for cover. Within the Command Chamber, Alpha worked frantically to try and bring the systems back under control. He was thankful his artificial intelligence was too complex for whatever was causing the system hack.

 

The five rangers ran inside along with Teddy and Simon.

 

“Alpha,” Tommy said. “Have you found the Machine that’s causing all this?”

 

“Not yet, Tommy,” Alpha said. “Our systems have been infected!”

 

Ashley shook her head. “I thought we had countermeasures to prevent something like this?”

 

“We did,” Alpha said. “We don’t now.”

 

“Ashley,” Tommy said. “See if you can find out more about whatever signal is hacking into everything.”

 

Ashley looked over a computer console as she manipulated the controls. She found an analytical program that wasn’t infected and activated a diagnostic.

 

“The carrier wave was used as a transportation method,” Ashley said. “The infection itself was physical, done by countless on nanites.”

 

“Can we stop them?” Tommy asked.

 

Ashley slammed her hands against the console as the monitor froze up. “I don’t know…”

 

Alarms started to blare as the Viewing Globe activated and displayed a flight group of Machine gear ships launching from the moon.

 

“Looks like they’re launching their entire fleet,” Chris said.

 

Tommy nodded. “This is it, guys…let’s take care of business.”

 

***

 

The gear ships hovered over the city as citizens below ran in panic.

 

The Machine Prince stood in the control room within the flagship as he looked at the city in chaos below.

 

“We should have just done this in the first place,” the Machine Prince said.

 

Archarina placed her arms around the Prince. “All ships are in position…”

 

“Let the attack begin,” he said.

 

The gear ships opened fire with beams of destructive energy that tore through the streets below. The beams moved across the city like spot lights, destroying everything in their path.

 

Several squadrons of crab mecha swarmed across the skyline and unloaded several volleys of missiles.

 

Back in the Zeo Rangers’ mecha hanger, the MegaWarriorzord moved into position as it was loaded into the launch cannon. The bay doors opened, and the Megazord shot through the sky.

 

Zeopink shook her head as she surveyed the battle damage below. “It’s bad.”

 

“We can’t think about that now,” Zeored said. “We have to focus. Ashley, power up the beam cannon. Lock on targets based on their threat level.”

 

The Megazord flew forward as the beam cannon above its visor launched several blasts that exploded against a formation of crab mecha.

 

The MegaWarriorzord landed as a group of crab mecha launched a missile salvo that exploded against the Megazord’s armor.

 

“Warrior blades!” Zeored shouted as the blades activated with bursts of yellow energy.

 

The Megazord swung its sword through a formation of the mecha fighters, as several of the smaller ships exploded.

 

The Machine Prince and Archarina teleported down to the rooftops nearby as they glared at the Megazord.

 

“Rangers!” The Machine Prince shouted. “Not even you can win this time.”

 

Gasket snapped his fingers as a thundering boom of air signaled the Machine monster’s expanse to giant form.

 

“A giant caterpillar?” Zeoblue asked in disbelief.

 

“Not for long,” Zeored said as he moved their Megazord in.

 

The MegaWarriorzord swung its blades at the Machine monster, but it wrapped itself around the zord and squeezed, causing a series of explosions to spark across the zord’s armor.

 

The caterpillar released the zord, then swung its speared tail end around and smashed it against the zord’s chest. The creature turned its head around and activated a cannon located on its forehead. The cannon fired a stream of green energy lances that exploded against the MegaWarriorzord.

 

Zeored activated his communicator. “Red Battlezord, mobilize!”

 

The Red Battlezord shot through the air as Zeored switched cockpits within a stream of red energy. The zord screwed forward and slammed its fists into the monster’s head while landing.

 

Zeored moved his zord in, and it wrapped its hands around the Machine monster’s head, attempting to toss the creature to the ground.

 

The MegaWarriorzord moved in as well, and the two zords bashed their fists against the monster’s armor.

 

Archarina tilted her head with concern. “This is not going well.”

 

“It’s just getting started, my dear,” the Machine Prince said.

 

The caterpillar split into four separate components and started slamming against the zords, ricocheting off of their armor at great speed.

 

The head piece bit down on the Red Battlezord’s arm, and the tail end pushed the MegaWarriorzord forward. A center segment powered up a cannon that poured a crimson torrent of energy against the two zords.

 

The head piece released its grasp and started vibrating as it released a stream of microscopic organisms on a carrier wave. The small mechanical creatures infiltrated the Red Battlezord.

 

Zeored struggled to maintain control of his zord, but to no avail. The Red Battlezord went berserk as its fists flew chaotically and it moved about in a fit of rage, smashing through everything in its path.

 

“It’s no use guys,” Zeored said. “Nothing I do is working…”

 

The Machine Prince and Archarina laughed as they watched the Red Battlezord go out of control, nearly ripping itself to pieces with each movement.

 

Gasket looked over his shoulder to his command ship. “Clank…do it.”

 

Clank nodded from within the ship’s viewport. “Right away, your lordship.”

 

The caterpillar launched its carrier wave against the MegaWarriorzord, and it too went out of control. The two zords charged against one another and started wailing with a high-speed flurry of punches. Each blow was sloppy, but powerful as the two zords bashed against one another.

 

“Ashley,” Zeoblue said. “Do something?”

 

“Like what?” she asked with frustration over their lack of control.

 

Explosions rang out all across the zords as they moved in a blur of motion, faster than they were ever designed to. The explosions within the zords knocked the two robos backward as they crashed along the streets, tearing up pavement.

 

The Rangers’ control panels overloaded and exploded, sending them crashing from their zords and falling to the war-torn streets below as several fires raged out of control.

 

The five Rangers regrouped, just as the Caterpillar spotted them and charged its forehead cannon. The creature fired, causing a massive explosion on the streets that tossed the Rangers backward.

 

“Zeo rifles,” Zeored commanded as they regrouped, assembled their rifles, and fired up at the Machine monster. Their blasts ricocheted off the Machine’s armor. The Caterpillar returned fire with its head cannon as the Rangers were thrown back by yet another explosion.

 

Zeored rose to his feet and looked up just as Archarina shot towards him, her body encased in an arrow of fire. She slammed into the Ranger as he was thrown backward onto a nearby car. He smashed in the top of the car and shattered the front windshield as he rolled off the hood.

 

Archarina landed on the wrecked car as Zeored rose to a crouched position.

 

“I expected so much more out of you,” Archarina said mockingly.

 

The Machine cocked an arrow and fired. Her blast exploded against Zeored’s chest and sent him flying backward.

 

Nearby, Zeogreen and Zeopink armed their Zeo swords and swung down vertically towards the Machine Prince’s head. The Prince parried both blows with a single wave of his sword, then brought the blade around and cut both Rangers back with a single strike, causing explosions to spark across their armor.

 

Archarina launched another arrow that exploded on the ground as Zeored rolled out of the way. Archarina jumped onto the pavement in front of the Ranger as she transformed her bow into a sword.

 

Zeored activated his Star Riser as he hopped onto the hood of another wrecked car and assumed a defensive stance.

 

Archarina leapt upwards and swung her sword towards Zeored. Zeored backed onto the top of the car as he parried the Machine’s blows. He countered with a vertical swing towards her head, but she parried the blow and dashed forward while striking him horizontally across the chest.

 

She turned to strike again, but Zeored leapt off the ground and landed on the street below. Archarina leapt down towards him while bringing her sword forward, but Zeored parried the blow, and the two opponents began dueling, their weapons clashing against each other as steel sparked against steel.

 

Nearby, Zeoyellow swung her nunchuku towards the Prince’s head, but he knocked her weapons away with his double-edged blade and cut her across the chest. He swung to his right and slammed his sword against Zeopink’s shield.

 

Gasket looked to his left as Zeogreen charged forward, and the Machine snapped out a front kick that slammed against the Ranger’s gut. Zeoblue moved in next with his arm blades, but Gasket knocked him aside and swiped his blade across the Ranger’s chest.

 

Gasket and Archarina regrouped, as did the Rangers.

 

The two Machines placed their hands together and extended them forward while firing a massive energy burst. The blast exploded across the five Rangers’ armor and sent them crashing backward.

 

The giant monster above looked down and launched its carrier wave, which surrounded the Rangers with a pulse of pale green energy.

 

The small robotic viruses entered their armor. The stress placed on their powers during battle, the nanites infecting the zords and now their morphing technology, proved to be too much.

 

The Rangers’ armor shattered into pieces of green energy before disappearing.

 

“What just happened?” Chris asked as he wrinkled his brow. They were struck with a sudden wave of fatigue as their power drained from their bodies.

 

“Our powers…” Tommy said as he shook his head.

 

“This is so not good,” Justin said.

 

“It was those Nanites,” Ashley said.

 

“What do we do?” Kat asked.

 

Above, Clank maneuvered the gear ship over the fallen MegaWarriorzord and lifted the robo up with a tractor beam. Clank accessed the zord’s systems and downloaded all the information contained in its memory banks, including the location of the mecha hanger.

 

Clank spoke to the Machine Prince over the comm line. “It’s done, your highness.”

 

“Good work for once, Clank,” the Machine Prince said as he looked up to the ship. “Push forward the attack.”

 

***

 

The shadow of the flagship passed over the Command Chamber and mecha hanger. A squadron of crab fighter mecha moved in to attack the base with full force.

 

The fighters launched a cloud of missiles that exploded against the hanger bay and Command Chamber. They changed course and prepared for a second attack run.

 

***

 

Panels within the Command Chamber exploded as stone walls started to cave in.

 

“Ay-yi-yi!” Alpha shouted as he was knocked to the ground along with Teddy and Simon.

 

“We’re under attack,” Teddy said.

 

“No kidding,” Simon said as the foundation trembled again.

 

“We need to vacate,” Alpha said as he rose from the ground. Teddy helped Simon to his feet as the three bolted towards the exit.

 

***

 

Cogs pushed through the command bunkers on the top levels of the mecha hanger, pushing their way down to the main storage bay area. They cut through INET officers with no mercy as fire and explosions raged across the base.

 

They opened their face plates and fired optic blasts that exploded through walls. Bodies flew in every direction as they ruptured power conduits with their weapons.

 

***

 

Alpha, Simon, and Teddy entered the main viewport that looked into the mecha holding bay.

 

“Ay-yi-yi,” Alpha said as he worked the controls.

 

“What is it, Alpha?” Teddy asked.

 

“Cogs,” Alpha said. “They’re in the upper levels of the holding bay and working their way down. And that’s not all….the Zeo Crystal is…ay-yi-yi!”

 

Alpha was viewing an image of the five sub-crystals bound to a hidden pedestal within the Command Chamber’s secret levels. It was from that pedestal that the Zeonizer Crystals within the rangers’ braces were able to siphon energy from the Crystal itself in order to morph and power their zords.

 

“What is it, Alpha?” Teddy asked again.

 

“The Zeo Crystal,” Alpha said. “It’s cracked!”

 

Simon and Teddy looked over the panel. Alpha was right. The Crystal seemed dull and dark, and countless lines of cracks covered its surface.

 

Alarms started to howl within the view port as the Cogs descended even further.

 

“They’ll take out the zords,” Simon said.

 

“No. They will not,” Alpha said as he manipulated a few controls in front of him. The ZeoMegazord was lowered into a secure holding shelter and sealed off.

 

A massive explosion rocked the viewing port as the ceiling collapsed. Alpha and the two young teens dove for cover, but debris landed all around them as fires above them raged out of control.

 

***

 

Tommy and the others ran through the wilderness, trying to reach the Command Chamber on foot as the Machines pursued.

 

A volley of Archarina’s arrows exploded on the ground behind them. The Machines forced the rangers back to the edge of a high cliff. The cliff wasn’t too steep, but rolling down it wasn’t a smart option.

 

Archarina and Gasket stalked forward while holding their blades outward, an army of Cogs behind them for support.

 

“Now my friends,” the Machine Prince said. “You’ve run out of places to run…”

 

“Shove it, Gasket,” Justin said as he pounced forward. Chris joined him as they tackled against a group of Cogs.

 

Justin looked over his shoulder. “Get them back to the Command Chamber. Hurry!”

 

Some Cogs charged forward towards Tommy, Ashley and Kat. The three rangers flipped a trio of soldiers to the ground.

 

“We’re not leaving you,” Tommy said sternly to Justin and Chris as he slammed his foot against a fallen Cog. “Come on.”

 

“Tommy,” Ashley said as she reached out to his shoulder. “Let’s go…”

 

Tommy shook his head as he reluctantly tossed down a Cog and used it as a sled as he slid down the steep cliff. Ashley and Kat followed. They hit the bottom hard and went limp as they rolled so as to not injure themselves seriously.

 

The three rangers continued to run as a group of Cogs broke away from the main group and pursued.

 

To be continued…Chapter Twenty-one