The Legend of Zeo: Chapter Twenty-one

To Triforia

 

The giant Machine monster stomped through the streets as it crashed through buildings left and right, causing massive explosions to rip through the city.

 

A squadron of crab fighter mecha flew over the skyline and unloaded several payloads of missiles that rained down upon the city like an explosive thunderstorm, showering shrapnel and debris everywhere.

 

The gear flagship hovered above as Clank supervised the troop disbursements from the vessel’s main viewport.

 

“Can you believe his, Orbus?” he asked the small droid that rested on his shoulder. “That little prince actually did it…”

 

Orbus replied in a high, squeaky voice. “It seems like just yesterday I was changing his servos.”

 

Below, Cogs rounded up citizens who weren’t able to make it to the shelters. The soldiers set up temporary holding camps where they herded everyone together.

 

Archarina and the Machine Prince watched the carnage spread from the docks in Angel Grove West.

 

“This is just as I dreamed,” the Machine Prince said. “Once this city is secure, we will spread across the entire planet unchallenged.”

 

Archarina wrapped her hands around the Prince’s right arm. “You’ve been able to accomplish even what your father could not…”

 

The Machine Prince nodded, a gleam of pride in his robotic eye.

 

***

 

A small medical treatment center rested near the edge of Angel Grove North on the east side. The center was evacuated along with the rest of that part of city, which mostly rested in shambles.

 

Tommy, Kat, and Ashley were inside the center as patrols of Cogs passed by outside.

 

“They’re spreading out,” Tommy said as he stood looking through a window while the two girls helped dress each other’s wounds. “We can make a break for it soon.”

 

“How far spread do you think they are?” Kat asked as Ashley helped patch up her knee.

 

Tommy shook his head. “There’s no way to be sure…We have to get to the Command Chamber.”

 

***

 

Two squadron’s of U.S. Air Force fighters scrambled to contain and destroy the Machine’s mecha. This was the first time military force was needed against the Machines. Iron Knight squadron and Nova squadron flew in formation over the war-torn city as they approached the swarm of fighter mecha ahead.

 

“Knight Leader to squadron,” the head of the flight group said over their comm. “Missile salvo on my mark…”

 

Lead watched as the red blips on his radar indicating enemy fighters lined up with his cross hairs. “Mark!”

 

A volley of missiles streamed through the sky and jetted towards the enemy formation of crab fighter mecha. The missiles exploded against the enemy targets, lighting up the sky as fire and shrapnel ripped across armor.

 

The crab mecha were slightly damaged by the first attack wave. They assumed attack formation and fired their afterburners as they throttled towards the U.S. fighters.

 

“Knight Leader to squad,” he said. “Break off and attack, but don’t lose your wingman.”

 

Knight Leader rolled his fighter to port and throttled forward as a cloud of fighter mecha appeared ahead of him.

 

“God help us…” he said quietly as he squeezed down on his trigger. The ventral-mounted cannon sprayed armor-piercing blasts and buzzed like a chainsaw.

 

***

 

The Command Chamber itself was heavily damaged, but Cogs and soldiers were unable to infiltrate the structure. It’s outer corridors formed a complex maze laced with magick that constantly shifted shape and form.

 

The Zeo mecha hanger was a different story. Every level had fallen to the Machines. Tommy, Ashley, and Kat quietly snuck through the dark rubble-filled corridors as they made their way towards the main viewport.

 

They entered the viewport and found the main holding bay area. Ashley rigged a few wires on the control console in front of her and brought up a brief status report.

 

“The Zeo Crystal is cracked…” she said as she shook her head. “I don’t know what happened to the rest of our zords. There’s no sign of anyone except Cogs. There’s nothing we can do here…”

 

“So now what?” Kat asked.

 

Tommy shook his head as he rolled his hands up into fists. “This was a waste of time…We go back and find Justin and Chris.”

 

“They could be anywhere,” Ashley said.

 

Tommy nodded. “Gasket will probably try to use them to bait us in.”

 

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

 

***

 

A U.S. fighter dove down, weaving in and out between buildings as a crab fighter mecha closed in on him.

 

“This is Nova Three,” he said as he continued evasive maneuvers. “I have a tail. I can’t shake him.”

 

A missile struck the fighter’s starboard engine, and Nova Three erupted into flames. The craft burst like a comet as it crashed through a nearby building.

 

***

 

Justin and Chris were bound by chains to a stone pillar in the center of a wide ‘L’ shaped plaza in the financial district. Stairs descended at the end of the plaza that led up to a tall building of glass and concrete.

 

Kat and Ashley crouched behind a pile of rubble as they eyed the small group of Cogs guarding the two teens.

 

“Ready?” Ashley asked.

 

Kat nodded, and the two teens sprang forward.

 

Kat moved in behind a Cog and pulled back on its head as she slammed her fist against the soldier’s chest, dropping the Cog to the ground.

 

Ashley slammed her elbow against the back of a Cog and kicked the legs out from underneath the soldier.

 

The two girls ran to their teammates aid.

 

“What are you doing here?” Justin asked.

 

“Saving your neck,” Ashley said.

 

Chris shook his head. “It’s a trap. Get out.”

 

Small explosions sparked around them as Ashley and Kat rolled for cover. They rose to their feet and looked up to see a group of Cogs moving towards them. The Machine Prince and Archarina descended a staircase as another group of Cogs formed up around them.

 

Gasket casually swung his sword over his shoulder. “You humans are so predictable.”

Archarina aimed her bow forward, “Kill them!”

 

The Cogs moved in as the two girls dropped back into defensive stances.

 

A soldier swung its staff towards Ashley’s head, but she outer crescent kicked the weapon away with her left leg. She snapped her other leg around in a round kick that slammed against the Cog’s chest.

 

Kat caught a soldier’s staff and twisted it around, tossing that Cog to the ground as she slammed her foot on its chest.

 

The Cogs continued to move forward, and the two girls stood back to back so they could put up a better defense. Their flesh and bone stung with every blow they made against the soldiers of iron, but they fought on.

 

Tommy suddenly sprang forward from behind the battle as if from nowhere and moved towards the pillar. A small group of Cogs broke away and moved towards the ranger.

 

Tommy leapt through the air with a flying sidekick that smashed one of the soldiers back. Two more Cogs swung their staffs towards him, but he grabbed both weapons and dashed forward while dragging those soldiers along. Tommy released his grasp on the weapons and used his right leg to round kick the soldier to his left and hook kick the soldier to his right.

 

Another Cog moved in front of Tommy, but he snapped a jump kick that slammed against the soldier’s faceplate.

 

Before he could reach the pillar, the Machine Prince and Archarina jumped down to the plaza to join the battle.

 

Archarina swung her blade towards Tommy’s head, but he rolled underneath the blow, rising to his feet and snapping off a sidekick that slammed against Archarina. She was barely phased as she moved forward with a combination of kicks that Tommy blocked. The ranger was thankful for the extra protection his leather uniform provided.

 

The Machine slammed a sidekick against Tommy’s chest. He grabbed her foot, but she flipped backwards while throwing Tommy off his feet and slamming him to the ground.

 

Ashley and Kat attacked the Machine Prince as one with a flurry of kick combos, but Gasket blocked each blow with ease before slamming them backward with a single backfist blow.

 

The Machine Prince, Archarina, and Cogs regrouped, cutting the three rangers off from their captured teammates.

 

The Machine Prince and his troops slowly stalked forward towards the rangers. “You’re powerless now. Why bother fighting? You know you’re going to die.”

 

The Prince extended his hand and fired an energy burst. The rangers dove out of the way as the blast exploded against the pavement. The Cogs surrounded the three fallen rangers and brought them up to their knees, holding them still with their staffs.

 

Gasket walked over to Tommy and wrapped his iron hand around the ranger’s throat. “Who’s mocking who now, ranger?”

 

The Machine Prince lifted Tommy and tossed him to the ground as he skid across the pavement.

 

Tommy slowly rose to his feet and snapped into a defensive stance. “You haven’t won yet, metal head. You’re forgetting our trump card.”

 

“Must it always resort to name calling with you people?” Gasket asked as he pointed his sword at the ranger and walked forward.

 

Before the Machine Prince could attack, the ground started to quake as those assembled at the plaza struggled to keep their balance.

 

Pyramidus appeared hovering over the city as it approached the plaza. The massive zord fired a wide-spread energy beam that exploded against the ground, blasting the Machines backward.

 

Zeo Gold looked down at the Machines below from within his cockpit, Triana standing by his side.

 

“I’m coming guys!” he shouted as he leapt from his zord and somersaulted through the air. He landed on the plaza ground below and summoned his power staff with a burst of golden energy.

 

The Machine Prince tightened his grip on his sword as he looked to his Cogs. “What are you waiting for? Get him!”

 

The Cogs rushed forward as Zeo Gold charged into battle.

 

A soldier swung its staff towards Zeo Gold’s left, but he parried the blow while spinning forward and slamming a reverse sidekick against another Cog’s chest. He turned back to the first Cog and slammed a reverse crescent kick across that soldier’s head.

 

Zeo Gold moved forward with a jump kick that smashed in a Cog’s faceplate. He finished off that soldier by stabbing the spear end of his staff through its chest. The Ranger pulled his staff free while spinning forward and slamming a hook kick across another soldier’s head.

 

Zeo Gold continued his advance as he slashed his way through a trio of Cogs with a single blow from his staff.

 

The Ranger blocked a strike from a soldier’s staff, then jump round kicked that Cog in the chest. He followed with a roundhouse that knocked the Cog to the ground.

 

Two soldiers tried to sneak up on the Gold Ranger. The Triforian turned around, parrying their blows with one fluid swing of his staff. He thrust the spear end of his blade through a soldier, then pulled the weapon free while whacking it across another Cog’s head.

 

A Cog brought its staff down high, but Zeo Gold used his left arm to block the blow. He turned in towards the soldier while slamming his right knee against its chest. He followed by swinging his staff down against the Cog’s back, knocking the soldier to the ground.

 

Zeo Gold turned to his right and reverse hook kicked a soldier backward. The Ranger snapped out a sidekick against another soldier, then bashed that Cog to the ground with his staff.

 

The Gold Ranger continued to push forward through the Cogs with a blur of kicks and punches. He roundkicked a soldier to the ground, landing on that foot and pivoting forward to slam a reverse crescent kick across another soldier’s head.

 

Zeo Gold tossed a soldier over his shoulder and stepped up to the pillar, cutting Justin and Chris loose with a single strike.

 

“Thanks,” Justin said.

 

The rangers regrouped next to the pillar along with Zeo Gold.

 

“Get back,” Zeo Gold said as he stood between them and the Cogs. “I’ll cover you…”

 

Zeo Gold leapt forward into the air and slammed a flying sidekick against a Cog’s chest. He followed with a downward strike from his staff, then spun forward to slam a kick against another soldier.

 

A staff came down towards his head that he blocked with his own weapon. “Triana…” he said as he looked towards Pyramidus. “Get the rangers inside!”

 

Triana nodded as she ran her hands along the zord’s controls. A carrier beam fired from the zord and brought the rangers into the cockpit with a burst of golden energy.

 

The Machine Prince aimed his saber at the pyramid zord. “Don’t let that Pyramid get away!”

 

Archarina snapped her fingers, summoning the giant caterpillar monster which appeared in a burst of teleportation energy.

 

The Machine monster fired its carrier wave at Pyramidus. A small series of explosions erupted within the giant zord as the rangers were tossed about within the cockpit.

 

Back on the streets below, Zeo Gold continued to hunt down and attack the patrol groups of Cogs.

 

He jump sidekicked a soldier in the chest, then bashed his staff across that Cog’s head.

 

A trio of Cogs rushed towards him that he knocked aside one by one with quick strikes from his weapon. Another soldier came at him from the side, but he slammed a roundhouse kick across that soldier’s head.

 

Above, the Machine monster fired bolts of plasma energy from its head-mounted cannon that exploded against the pyramid zord’s armor as it hovered forward, most of its systems still intact.

 

Zeo Gold looked up to see the explosions rock Pyramidus.

 

“It’s time for a gold rush…” he said as he activated his staff and looked up towards the giant Machine monster. “Victory Flash!”

 

Several bursts of golden energy shot from his staff and exploded against the Machine monster’s armor like water splashing across a brick wall. The caterpillar craned its head down towards Zeo Gold and fired its carrier wave.

 

The wave struck the Gold Ranger and short circuited his ancient braces. Although his staff remained stable, his armor shattered since the braces were no longer able to act as a conduit between the staff’s power and Trey.

 

Trey fell to the ground, stunned by the sudden energy loss. He slowly rose to his feet as a group of Cogs surrounded him.

 

“Trey!” Triana shouted as she rose from the cockpit. She turned to leave, but Tommy stopped her.

 

“Don’t,” Tommy said. “We’ll handle it. You should stay here…”

 

“No,” Triana said as she shrugged Tommy off. “He needs me.”

 

Triana turned towards the viewport and vanished in a streak of golden energy as she teleported to the ground below. The rangers tried to follow, but weren’t able to operate the zord’s teleportation controls.

 

“Trey!” she shouted as she ran to her companion’s side.

 

“Triana,” Trey said. “You shouldn’t be here. Get back to Pyramidus.”

 

“No,” Triana said as she took Trey’s hands into her own. “I’m staying with you…”

 

The two Triforians heard a mechanical laughter as they turned to see the Machine Prince and Archarina walk slowly towards them.

 

“The mighty prince of Triforia,” the Machine Prince said. “Pathetic…”

 

Gasket aimed his sword forward and fired an energy burst that exploded against Trey’s chest armor and sent him crashing to the ground.

 

Triana kneeled besides Trey. “Trey…” she said as she leaned over her lover.

 

She turned towards the Machine Prince, staying on her knees as she closed her eyes and placed her hands in front of her. She reached out to an unseen power. She didn’t know what this power was, only that she was connected to it. Bound by it.

 

Pyramidus flashed with golden energy as a beam shot from its tip and into Triana’s hand. A small crystal pyramid appeared in her hand that pulsed with an inner energy.

 

Archarina looked to Gasket. “What is that cursed child doing?”

 

Triana opened her eyes and looked to Pyramidus.

 

“To Triforia…” she said quietly as a rip opened in space.

 

Pyramidus blasted off as it streaked towards the rift within a massive burst of golden flames.

 

Triana’s gaze drifted back towards the Machine monster. The small glass pyramid emitted an energy burst no greater than a small pearl. The burst slammed against the creature, causing the Machine monster to shatter into billions of pieces.

 

Trey rose to his feet as he took hold of Triana’s hand. “Come on,” he said as they started to run off.

 

Gasket aimed his sword forward and fired an energy burst that exploded against the back of Trey’s armor. The Triforian fell face first as he skid across the ground.

 

“Trey!” Triana shouted as she ran towards her love.

 

Archarina cocked an arrow and followed Triana with her line of sight. She released the energy arrow as it stabbed through the air and struck its target.

 

Triana screamed as the arrow ripped through her body, and she collapsed to the ground.

 

“NO!” Trey shouted as he sprang to his feet and ran towards her side.

 

The Machine Prince grinned with amusement as he fired another energy blast that struck Trey against his chest armor.

 

The Triforian fell to the ground face first, striking the dirt beneath him hard. He looked up to see Triana struggling to crawl towards him.

 

“Trey…” she said weakly as she held out her hand.

 

Trey crawled towards her and reached out, taking hold of her hand.

 

Gasket and Archarina stomped forward alongside the Cogs.

 

Trey rose to his knees and scooped Triana up into his arms as he extended his staff towards the Machines and fired a volley of energy bursts. The blasts exploded around the Machines as Trey teleported away along with his companion.

 

***

 

The golden streak of their teleportation beam landed in a field of flowers just outside of the city.

 

“You’re going to be okay,” Trey said as he ran his hand along the side of his lover’s face.

Triana shook her head. “Don’t feel guilty, Trey…this is the way it was meant to be…”

 

“Triana, don’t talk like that,” he said. “You’re not going to…you can’t just…”

 

Triana’s eyes fell shut as her body dissolved into a shower of countless golden sparks that were carried away by the wind.

 

Trey closed his eyes tightly as he slammed his fists against the ground.

 

To be continued…Chapter 22