The Legend of Zeo: Chapter Twenty-two

Final Gift

 

Pyramidus blasted through a mystic hyperspace tunnel as it carried the five powerless rangers on board.

 

“I don’t get it,” Justin said from within the cockpit. “Why is she sending us to Triforia?”

 

“Isn’t that where they made the Zeo Crystal?” Kat asked.

 

Tommy nodded. “Maybe there’s something we can do on Triforia to get our powers back…”

 

Ashley was straying away from the group as she stared out the viewport at the swirling vortex of stars outside. She noticed something odd as the zord moved forward. The vortex was starting to swirl with fiery energy that was growing by the second.

 

She placed her hand on the panel in front of her and noticed it was getting hot.

 

“Guys…” Ashley said. “I think we may have a problem.”

 

Tommy and the others moved to the viewport. “What is it?” he asked.

 

Ashley shook her head. “This tunnel we’re in…it’s almost like its super heating.”

 

The rangers watched as the hyperspace tunnel continued to ignite into a torrent of flame. An orange light cast into the cockpit as a result of the fire as beads of sweat started to drip down the rangers’ foreheads.

 

A brilliant flash of light suddenly exploded ahead of them like a supernova as a shockwave of heat rocked Pyramidus. The rangers were tossed to the deck as the zord shook with violent tremors.

 

The air around them quickly heated as the rangers struggled to breath the dry burning air. Before they could figure out what was going wrong and try to fix the problem, they slipped from consciousness and went limp against the deck plating below.

 

***

 

The rangers slowly awoke to find the cabin lighting had returned to normal. They pulled themselves to their feet as they looked out their viewport and saw a clear blue sky with hues of purple towards the horizon. The sky met against a sparkling ocean of clear water.

 

Pyramidus was resting on a beech of white sand untouched by footprints.

 

“Is this Triforia?” Chris asked.

 

Justin shook his head. “What just happened? A second ago we were about to be fried…not that I’m complaining…”

 

Tommy’s eyes were fixed on a small island in the middle of the ocean. A small palace spread across the island of white rock. The palace itself was made of ornate white marble and gold trimming that sparkled in the sunlight.

 

“Something’s on that island,” Tommy said quietly. “That’s where we have to go.”

 

As if on cue, a swirl of rainbow colored light enveloped the rangers and streaked towards the island. The light landed on a plaza in the palace and slowly twirled as the rangers rematerialized.

 

“Weird,” Justin said quietly as the five rangers looked around the deserted plaza, taken aback by the oddity their situation.

 

They heard what sounded like a girl's laughter echo eerily across the wind.

 

“Who’s there?” Tommy asked.

 

The voice in the wind spoke. “A mind so full of questions is not a mind at ease…”

 

A young woman stepped out from behind one of the pillars ahead. She looked identical to Triana.

 

“Triana?” Tommy asked

 

The girl smiled and shook her head as a group of five more young women stepped out onto the plaza, each identical to one another.

 

The rangers found themselves taking a few steps back.

 

One of the girl’s stepped forward. “You will not learn who we are until you need to know.”

 

Another spoke. “For now you must only see.”

 

“See what?” Tommy asked.

 

The girls quietly laughed, the sound echoing in chorus through the breeze as chills crept down the rangers’ spines.

 

Tommy shook his head and asked again. “See what?”

 

Another girl stepped forward. “That you are all part of a greater whole.”

 

“Something larger.”

 

“Something you can’t comprehend.”

 

A thin smile spread across the original girl’s face. “But you will someday.”

 

Kat shook her head. “What does this have to do with Triana?”

 

“She was one of us.”

 

“Separated long ago.”

 

“Made into flesh.”

 

“Now she’s returned.”

 

One of the palace walls became translucent, and they saw Triana lying still within. She was suspended on a hammock of golden fibers between a cluster of pillars. She wasn’t breathing.

 

“No…” Tommy said quietly.

 

A trio of the girls moved over to the rangers.

 

“You can return now.”

 

“To Earth.”

 

“You have seen.”

 

A blinding flash of gold light nearly blinded the rangers as they slipped from consciousness once more.

 

***

 

The rangers awoke to find Pyramidus on the city streets of Angel Grove under the cloak of night.

 

“We’re back,” Chris said as he looked out the viewport. Everything was frighteningly still.

 

“So…” Justin said as he wrinkled his brow. “What just happened?”

 

No one had any answers.

 

The rangers left Pyramidus and darted across the empty streets. The screech of a crab mecha fighter wing cut through the air above them.

 

“Come on,” Tommy said as he and the others took cover behind an alley.

 

They walked through the dark alley, and what they saw when they reached the other side shocked them.

 

A tall bronze spire extended from the ground and stabbed into the air. Moving gears circled around the spire at odd angles. It was a palace.

 

Justin shook his head. “Looks like the rust buckets are making themselves at home.”

 

They heard commotion off to their right and looked to see a group of Cogs leading human prisoners down a staircase descending towards the palace below.

 

Small explosions suddenly sparked against the Cogs as some of them collapsed and stumbled down the staircase. A small group of men in military outfits charged forward, blasting at the Cogs with high-yield, armor-piercing sub machine guns.

 

Trey dropped onto the staircase as if from nowhere and flipped a soldier over the rail and onto the concrete below. He leapt over the rail and landed on the Cog, smashing his heel against its chest.

 

Another soldier dashed forward while swinging its staff towards the prince’s head, but Trey ducked under the blow and turned while slamming a hook kick across the Cog’s head.

 

The rangers ran over to Trey. The prince snapped the head of the last soldier and looked up to see the rangers running towards him, his face lighting up.

 

“Rangers,” Trey said. “I wasn’t sure what happened…”

 

“How long were we gone?” Tommy asked.

 

“Five days,” Trey said.

 

“Damn,” Justin said.

 

“Come,” Trey said as he started to walk off. “We’ve established a temporary base under the city.”

 

“Who’s we?” Chris asked.

 

“You’ll see,” Trey said.

 

***

 

Queen Machina cradled a newly-assembled Machine in her arms as she ascended the turbolift to the top level of her son’s palace. The Machine infant was her grandchild, fashioned by parts from her son the Machine Prince and her cousin Archarina.

 

The Machine Queen herself was a shell of her former being. Her armor was gray and cracked, and her systems were in a constant state of deterioration. The only thing that kept her going was the desire to see her son succeed. To watch a new home be created for her new grandchild.

 

The turbolift came to a halt on the top level of the needle-like palace as Machina stepping into her son’s main throne room.

 

Gasket and Archarina were standing by the viewport when they turned to see Machina walk forward with their child.

 

Archarina quickly walked over to the Queen to inspect the infant. “He is magnificent.”

 

The Machine Prince nodded in agreement as he walked over to see his son. “He is lucky, coming into existence at such a pivotal time in history. By the time he is complete, the entire universe will be rid of disease-rotted flesh”

 

Clank entered the throne room with Orbus clutching securely onto his shoulder. “My lord…Pyramidus has returned to Earth.”

 

Gasket tightened his grasp on his sword. “The rangers are just as annoying without their powers. Let them try something…then I will get rid of them for good!”

 

***

 

Trey led the rangers into an underground chamber beneath the city streets. Inside was a makeshift base with a few radar screens and weapon racks. INET security personnel and military officers were scurrying about.

 

“What is this?” Tommy asked as the six rangers walked through the groups of soldiers.

 

“Rangers!” a robotic voice said from behind them. They turned to see Alpha.

 

“Alpha!” Justin said as they walked towards the waddling android.

 

“Thank goodness you are alright,” Alpha said.

 

“What’s going on?” Tommy asked. “Where are Teddy and Simon?”

 

“They are fine,” Alpha assured Tommy. “They are actually proving quite useful. After retreating from the Command Chamber, we regrouped with an INET team that was forming a resistance against the Machines.”

 

Tommy shook his head. “I don’t want Simon or my brother involved…”

 

Alpha nodded. “I told them as much, but they would not listen.”

 

The group heard gunfire coming from an access tunnel joined to the room they were in, followed by an explosion. A trio of Cogs leapt forward from the darkness and fired optic-blast pulses that exploded against stone as the rangers ducked for cover.

 

Trey sprang forward and kicked the head Cog back, snapping that foot back and forth to kick the other two soldiers down as well.

 

“A patrol,” Trey said. “There will be more.”

 

“We can’t stay here then,” Tommy said. “We need to move.”

 

A radar screen in the rear of the room crackled with static before an image of Gasket faded into view. “You people are so hard to get a hold of sometimes,” the Machine Prince said. The mountainous wilderness outside the city was visible behind him. “I have something that might interest you.”

 

Machine Prince stepped aside as Tommy’s face turned red with anger at what he saw. Simon and Teddy were bound and gagged to a gear lying flat across the surface.

 

“Let them go, Gasket” Tommy said firmly.

 

The Machine Prince laughed. “Come to me. We will discuss terms…well, actually I will kill you as soon as you arrive, and then kill these two children…but it’s not like that will stop you.”

 

The radar screen blinked off.

 

***

 

Trey stayed behind to help with the relocation as the rangers moved out.

 

They ran across the rocky shore north of the city and spotted Simon and Teddy. The two young teens were strapped down on a gear resting against a small formation on rocks near the shoreline.

 

Before the rangers could reach the two teens, Gasket and Archarina stepped forward and crossed their swords in front of their captives.

 

“Glad you could make it,” the Machine Prince said.

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes as he snapped back into a fighting stance. “I bet you are…”

 

Archarina extended her sword and fired a crimson energy pulse that exploded around the rangers as they dove for cover. The shockwave knocked them backward as sand and dust was kicked up in every direction.

 

“You killed my father,” the Machine Prince said as he extended his sword towards the rangers. “Now watch as I take something dear from you…”

 

Gasket turned and aimed his sword at Teddy and Simon as he stalked forward.

 

“No!” Tommy shouted as he sprang forward.

 

Gasket turned and fired an energy blast that slammed against Tommy’s upper right chest and knocked him backwards as he screamed. The ranger clutched his wound as he rolled across the ground in pain.

 

The other four rangers charged forward.

 

Kat and Ashley launched jump kicks towards Archarina, but she knocked them back with ease. Justin moved in to attack Gasket as Chris jumped onto the Machine’s back, but he flipped Chris away and knocked both rangers back.

 

The five rangers regrouped, Tommy only able to rise to his knees due to the crippling pain from the energy blast.

 

The two Machines laughed as they turned to face the rangers.

 

“You’re only prolonging the inevitable,” the Machine Prince said. “Accept your deaths with some dignity.”

 

A bright ray of golden energy suddenly cut across the sky as the rangers looked up to see a shower of golden sparks slowly rain down along the wind.

 

“Rangers,” the chorus of voices from Triforia said. “Receive Triana’s final gift.”

 

The shower of golden sparks accelerated and swirled around the rangers as they rose to their feet. The sparks weaved in and out of the rangers’ bodies, healing their wounds. The golden energy then circled around their Zeonizers.

 

The energy penetrated the braces and repaired the Zeonizer crystals within. The sparks then began twirling and changing color to represent each ranger as the five cyclones crackled with energy.

 

The cyclones shattered apart to reveal the Zeo Rangers standing in full armor.

 

“No…” The Machine Prince said as he took a step backwards.

 

***

 

Back in the city, Trey slammed his fists against a group of Cogs that had ganged up on him.

 

The shower of sparks suddenly shot down from the sky and twirled around his golden Zeo braces as they pulsed with energy.

 

He smiled as he looked up to face the Cogs.

 

“Ultra transform!” he shouted as he connected his braces and transformed into his armor with a flash of golden light.

 

***

 

The five Rangers snapped into fighting stances as they faced off with Gasket and Archarina.

 

“Zeored!”

 

“Zeogreen!”

 

“Zeoblue!”

 

“Zeoyellow!”

 

“Zeopink!”

 

“Ultra Task Force…”

 

“Zeo Rangers!” they shouted together as their armor flashed with energy.

 

The Machine Prince aimed his sword forward. “Just die!”

 

He fired a crimson energy blast that exploded around the Rangers as they rolled out of the way.

 

Zeored somersaulted across the ground and sprang to his feet, summoning his Star Riser in a flash of red energy. He charged forward towards Gasket as the others moved in as well.

 

Zeored parried a blow from Gasket and ducked under his blade as he pushed forward. The Machine Prince turned to attack Zeored from behind, but Zeogreen and Zeoblue tackled against Gasket.

 

Archarina swung her blade down towards Zeored’s head, but he parried the blow and hook kicked her across the head before dashing forward. Zeoyellow and Zeopink moved towards Archarina and attacked with a flurry of kicks.

 

Zeored used his sword to break Teddy and Simon free.

 

“You two get out of here,” Zeored said as a group of Cogs appeared.

 

The two teens ran to safety as Zeored turned to face the Cogs. He swept a soldier’s staff away and brought his blade back around to decapitate that soldier before sidekicking it backwards. The Ranger turned to his right and slashed his blade upward diagonally across another Cog’s chest. A Cog swung its staff down vertically towards Zeored, but he jump kicked the weapon away and chopped his sword down through that Cog’s head.

 

Zeoyellow tornado kicked a Cog to the ground. She turned to her right with her nunchuku and bashed a soldier across the head with her weapons before finishing that Cog off with a reverse axe kick.

 

Zeogreen blocked a staff with his left axe, then swung the right axe down through the attacking Cog. Another soldier swung a staff towards him, but the Ranger ducked under the blow and slashed his twin axes across that soldier’s back.

 

Zeoblue dove forward over a pair of soldiers’ strikes as he rolled across the ground. He rolled to his feet and spun horizontally with his arm blades, knocking the weapon from another Cog’s grasp. He jump kicked that soldier in the faceplate, then flipped backward while kicking that Cog upside the head.

 

Two soldiers swung their staffs from both sides of Zeoblue. He extended his arm blades outwards to block both blows, then spun to knock the staffs away. He tornado kicked the soldier to his left, and slashed the Cog to his right with a horizontal strike.

 

Zeopink blocked a blow with her shield, then turned inward towards that Cog while knifehanding it in the neck. She finished off that soldier with an outer crescent kick across the head.

 

***

 

Back in the city, Zeo Gold was holding his own against a group of Cogs.

 

The Gold Ranger spun forward with his staff in his right hand, blocking a soldier’s staff and whipping his left leg around in a reverse hook kick that crashed across that Cog’s head. He turned to his right and ran the spear end of his weapon through another Cog’s chest.

 

***

 

A group of Cogs surrounded Zeored as he fought through them relentlessly.

 

He moved forward, parrying a Cog’s blow and cutting through that soldier diagonally. He spun while snapping a reverse sidekick against another soldier, then cut through that Cog with a strike from his blade.

 

Zeored parried a pair of soldiers’ staffs at once and brought out his right leg to round kick one and hook kick the other. He finished the pair off by cutting through them with his sword, exposing wiring and circuits as small explosions ripped through their armor.

 

A staff came zooming towards his head. He grabbed the weapon with his left hand and turned his head to the right to spot an incoming Cog. He knocked the incoming Cog’s blade away and cut that soldier down with a single, fluid strike. The Ranger released his grasp on the staff and turned while bringing his blade down diagonally through that Cog.

 

The battle intensified as metal sparked against metal. The Zeo Rangers fought on.

 

To be concluded…Chapter 23