The Legend of Zeo: Chapter Twenty-three

Fallen Iron

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes beneath his star-shaped visor as a group of Cogs charged towards him, their metal glistening in the rising sun.

 

Zeored dashed forward as he ran his blade through the lead Cog, cutting through its armor and ripping apart its inner wiring. He twirled his blade while spinning forward, and ran his sword through another soldier horizontally.

 

He looked up to see the Machine Prince leaping forward with his sword in hand. Zeored leapt forward as well, and the two opponents clashed swords in midair. Their blades sparked against one another as they flipped backwards and landed back on the shore below.

 

Zeored swung his blade down towards Gasket’s head, but the Machine Prince blocked the blow. The two opponents pressed their swords against each other as they leaned in.

 

“You were lucky to have survived before,” the Machine Prince said. “This time you die.”

 

Zeored knocked Gasket’s saber away and kicked the villain backward with a powerful kick. Zeoblue and Zeopink leapt forward and slammed flying sidekicks against the Machine Prince as well.

 

Zeogreen and Zeoyellow leapt towards Archarina and slammed their fists into her, knocking the Machine backwards as she rolled across the ground to her companion.

 

Gasket helped Archarina to her feet as the Rangers regrouped.

 

“It’s over,” Zeored said.

 

Archarina looked to her left and noticed a group of prisoners being escorted by some Cogs. One of the women was holding a baby. They were moving across the beach’s board walk.

 

“My Prince…” she said as she nodded in that direction.

 

Gasket nodded as the two Machines leapt towards the board walk with a powerful jump. They landed near the prisoners, and Archarina tore the baby from its mothers arms

 

The Rangers ran forward, but the Machine Prince summoned a group of Cogs, giving him and his companion time to fall back.

 

“That’s a new low, Gasket!” Zeored shouted as he jump kicked a Cog and brought his saber down through that soldier.

 

The other Rangers helped bash through the Cogs as they followed the Machine Prince’s trail.

 

***

 

The Rangers followed the two Machines to a construction area, where the Machine Prince and Archarina were standing on a tall pile of pipes. Archarina had her blade held to the infant’s neck.

 

The Machine Prince aimed his sword down at the Rangers. “You were right…it is over. Power down your armor, or the little baby says bye-bye.”

 

The Rangers reluctantly dropped their guard as their armor powered down in a flash of green energy.

 

“You’re not winning, Gasket,” Tommy said. “We won’t let you.”

 

“You don’t have much choice!” the Machine Prince shouted as he leapt downward to the pavement below and charged towards the rangers. He bashed through them, knocking them down one by one as Archarina stood with her blade to the infant’s neck.

 

***

 

Queen Machina stood at the city palace’s viewport with her infant grandson cradled in her arms. The newly-built machine was actually crying. She knew the response was a simple algorithm designed to alert parental units it required attention…but still…it was crying.

 

The young machine seemed so frail in her arms. So vulnerable.

 

For a moment she tried to conjure up memories of her own son at that age. She found none in her data files.

 

Throughout the Machine Prince’s young life, she had been by the Machine King’s side. She had been helping to wage war while droids cared for her child.

 

She wondered what kind of life the small machine in her arms would lead.

 

***

 

The rangers struggled fervently to hold back the Machine Prince as he slammed against them.

 

Archarina dropped to ground level, her sword still pointed at the infant to discourage the rangers from morphing.

 

The Machine Prince shouted as he attacked. “This was how it was meant to be! You, powerless! Me, victorious!”

 

Tommy grabbed Gasket’s wrist and twisted the villain’s sword free. The blade fell to the ground as Tommy rolled forward and picked up the saber. He tossed the weapon forward like a spear towards Archarina. The weapon struck her sword away, distracting her while Tommy leapt forward.

 

Tommy grabbed the infant from the Machine’s arms and rolled across the ground to safety as the others regrouped around him.

 

The infant’s mother ran over to the rangers as she cried hysterically. Tommy handed the baby to the woman as she continued to sob.

 

Kat laid a gentle hand on the woman’s shoulder. “He’ll be fine…now get to safety…”

 

The rangers turned to face the two machines as Justin smiled. “You look a little mad, Gasket.”

 

Tommy readied his braces. “It’s morphin' time!”

 

“Ultra transform!” the Rangers shouted as they morphed into their Ranger forms. They snapped into fighting stances.

 

“Weapons, guys,” Zeored said as he summoned his Star Riser in a flash of crimson energy.

 

The other Rangers summoned their weapons and combined them to form one cannon. “Ultra Blaster!” they shouted. “Fire!”

 

The Rangers launched a massive pulse of energy with their cannon that exploded against the Machine Prince and Archarina, knocking them backwards.

 

The two Machines slowly stood from the ground as smoke rose from their armor.

 

“You will die!” the Machine Prince shouted as he reached forward and grabbed Archarina’s hand. The two activated their expansion programs as they grew to giant size.

 

The Rangers activated their communicators. “ZeoMegazord, mobilize!”

 

The ZeoMegazord rose from the hidden chamber beneath the hanger bay and launched through the sky. The Megazord landed in the streets as the Rangers leapt into their cockpits within streaks of light.

 

“ZeoMegazord Saber, online,” Zeored commanded as the robo activated its saber.

 

“You are not safe in that infernal contraption!” the Machine Prince shouted as he leapt forward and swung his blade down towards the Megazord.

 

The robo brought its blade up to block the blow, but Archarina rolled in low and cut across the ZeoMegazord’s leg. The colossal zord collapsed to its knees as Gasket brought his blade down against the side of the Megazord’s head.

 

***

 

Teddy and Simon were in the city streets along with Zeo Gold. The two young teens had armed themselves with Cog spears after being freed from Gasket, and they continued to fight against the Machines.

 

They looked up to see the ZeoMegazord get pounded by Gasket and Archarina.

 

“They need backup,” Simon said as he shook his head.

 

“The MegaWarriorzord,” Zeo Gold said. “The Machines are holding it within their palace. I can break it free.”

 

“We’re coming with you,” Teddy said.

 

Zeo Gold didn’t have time to argue. The three ran towards the Machine palace.

 

***

 

The gates to the dimly-lit lower levels of the Machine palace tore open from Simon and Teddy’s spears as Zeo Gold barged inside. He led the two boys down a dark metal staircase as three Cogs moved up the stairs to stop him.

 

Zeo Gold swung his staff down, smashing a Cog’s faceplate in as he sidestepped and kicked the soldier back. That Cog went tumbling down the stairs as the next two soldiers moved in and swung their staffs horizontally. Zeo Gold blocked their blows and kicked them out of the way with a lightning quick kick combination.

 

The three moved down a dark pipe-filled corridor, trying to blend in with the shadows as a group of Cogs sprang forward and surrounded them.

 

Zeo Gold tornado kicked a Cog across the head, then swept the legs out from under the soldier.

 

Teddy held his staff horizontally to block a blow, but the force of the impact dropped him to his knees. Simon jumped in with a flying sidekick to back that soldier away, then slammed his spear through its chest.

 

“Thanks,” Teddy said.

 

“Don’t mention it,” Simon said as the two friends stood back to back to face the next wave of Cogs.

 

Zeo Gold jump kicked another soldier against the face plate, then batted his staff across the side of that Cog’s head.

 

The last soldier charged forward towards Zeo Gold. The Gold Ranger leapt forward and double-flying sidekicked that Cog in the chest, pushed off and flipped backwards, landed, and jammed the edge of his staff through that Cog’s chest. Zeo Gold removed his weapon and pushed the broken Machine body to the ground.

 

They moved deeper into the dark corridor and spotted a wide opening around a corner. A giant door extended upwards and bore the Machine symbol.

 

“Huh,” Teddy said. “I’m guessing that’s where the MegaWarriorzord is?”

 

Zeo Gold nodded as he eyed the guards. “I’ll take the point against the guards. Let’s go…”

 

Zeo Gold dashed forward towards the door, but before he could reach it, streams of crimson energy lashed out and exploded against his body.

 

A group of Cogs sprang out as if from nowhere and surrounded Teddy and Simon as the two friends struggled to fight back. They heard laughter and looked to see Clank nearby, his hand over a panel against the wall.

 

“You didn’t really think it would be this easy, did you?” he asked as he pressed the button.

 

Another volley of energy leashes lashed out and struck against Zeo Gold.

 

The Cogs quickly over powered the two younger teens and forced them to the ground…that was until a nearly invisible blur of motion crashed against the Cogs and hurled them to the ground. The mechanical soldiers were defenseless against their unseen enemy as they were beaten by a fierce volley of invisible blows.

 

Simon wrinkled his brow. “Am I seeing things?”

 

Teddy shook his head. “Not unless I am too.”

 

The figure slowly de-cloaked, revealing a man shrouded in slick black armor with a red ruby on his chest. He walked over to the two fallen teens and extended his hand.

 

“I’m a friend…” he said. “The Phantom Ranger…”

 

The Phantom helped the two teens as he turned to Clank.

 

Clank took a step back, not knowing how to react to this Ranger who had appeared out of nowhere.

 

The Phantom extended a gauntlet blaster and fired an energy pulse that exploded against Clank’s control panel. The crimson energy bursts stopped as the Phantom ran over to the Gold Ranger and helped him off his feet.

 

“Who are you?” Zeo Gold asked.

 

“The Phantom Ranger,” he said again. “I was sent from Eltar.”

 

Zordon had dispatched the Phantom Ranger to Earth to deliver Artilitron and the Rescuezords to the Turbo Rangers, as well as a shuttlecraft to the Earth-based INET group.

 

Zeo Gold nodded. “Thank you for your help…”

 

The Gold Ranger eyed Clank as the Machine slowly started to back away. Zeo Gold leapt forward and flying sidekicked Clank against the chest. He followed by striking his staff across the Machine’s head.

 

Phantom Ranger ran up to the doorway and fired a blast from his gauntlet cannon that blew the door open, revealing the MegaWarriorzord and Red Battlezord.

 

He activated his cloak and vanished from sight.

 

***

 

The MegaWarriorzord shot across the sky towards the ZeoMegazord’s battle. Zeo Gold was at the helm.

 

“Back up has arrived,” Zeo Gold said as the Red Battlezord corkscrewed through the air besides the Megazord.

 

“All right,” Zeored said as he transferred into the Red Battlezord with a streak of red energy. “Red Battlezord, online!”

 

Gasket fumed with anger. “Bring on a whole army of zords! It matters not! You will die!”

 

The Machine Prince charged towards the MegaWarriorzord and swung his saber down diagonally. The Megazord blocked the blow with its left arm, then slammed a right punch against the Machine Prince.

 

The Red Battlezord’s fists pumped at high speed as they slammed back Archarina, denting her armor with a fierce volley of blows.

 

Gasket and Archarina fell back as they joined hands. They transformed into a giant arrow of energy as they blasted forward, causing a shockwave that exploded against the three zords and sent them crashing backwards.

 

The Machine Prince and Archarina landed behind the damaged zords as Gasket aimed his sword at them. “We are invincible. You are weak. Flesh and bone.”

 

“Gasket,” Zeored said from his console. “I’ve about had enough of you.”

 

The Red Ranger pulled his zord from the ground and pushed his control levers forward as he shouted, “Gattling cannons, full power!”

 

The Red Battlezord pumped its fists as it fired lances of orange energy that exploded against the two Machines.

 

Archarina returned fire with energy arrows that exploded against the Battlezord's armor.

 

The MegaWarriorzord aimed one of its warrior blades forward and tossed the saber like a spear. The sword crashed against Archarina’s bow and knocked the weapon from her hand.

 

Gasket and Archarina joined together to form a sphere of energy as they streaked forward once more towards the three zords. The Rangers were ready this time.

 

The ZeoMegazord swung its saber through the energy blast, causing the two Machines to rematerialize and fall to the ground.

 

“Trey,” Zeored said. “We could use that pyramid of yours right about now.”

 

Zeo Gold nodded as he called for his zord. “I call upon the power of Pyramidus!”

 

The giant golden pyramid appeared within a flash of energy.

 

“Golden fusion!” Zeored shouted.

 

The ZeoMegazord and Red Battlezord combined with Pyramidus in its warrior formation as they all joined within its cockpit.

 

“Say goodbye, Gasket,” Zeored said. “You lose…Golden Storm!”

 

The ZeoUltrazord opened fire with near countless streams of golden energy bursts that tore through the Machine Prince and his companion. His armor buckled as his inner wiring was incinerated. His vision was filled with static as he looked to Archarina, seeing her body nearly vaporized and ripped to shreds. His last vision was of his companion’s power cells overloading and exploding, flames consuming her body.

 

The Machine Prince’s own power cells overheated as his body blew into pieces.

 

***

 

Machina protectively grabbed hold of her bundled grandchild as the doors to the throne room exploded in, and Clank went skidding across the ground.

 

The six Zeo Rangers ran inside and aimed their weapons at Machina.

 

“Rangers,” Machina pleaded. “Do what you will with this place. With the remains of this once great army. It’s meaning has grown hollow…”

 

“We plan on it,” Zeored said as he aimed his Zeo Blaster forward.

 

“I only ask one thing,” she pleaded.

 

Zeoblue shook his head. “You’re in position to plea bargain, lady. The Machine Empire is dead.”

 

“Be that as it may,” Machina said. “Please…allow my grandson to live.”

 

The Rangers finally noticed that what the Machine Queen held in her arms was a tiny robotic infant.

 

Zeoblue shook his head. “It’s a trick.”

 

“It’s no trick…” the Machine Queen said as she dropped to her knees. “Look at me…I am broken. I have lived for years, and what do I have to show for it? A dead husband. A dead son. A dead family. This war has cost us all enough…”

 

Mixed emotions filled the Rangers as they slowly and reluctantly started to lower their side arms.

 

Machina placed the infant on the ground and slowly backed away. “Please…look after him…”

 

Machina pulled out a small detonator switch and activated the trigger. Her body exploded into a pile of scarp as alarms began blaring throughout the entire palace, and its walls began to shake.

 

“This place is going to blow,” Zeoyellow said.

 

“Let’s get out of here,” Zeored said.

 

Zeopink scooped the infant up in her arms, and the six Rangers leapt out of the palace. They landed in the plaza below just as the Machine base erupted into a ball of flame.

 

***

 

The rangers, Trey, and Alpha gathered in the Command Chamber.

 

“Try it now Alpha,” Ashley said.

 

The android flipped a switch, and the systems came back online.

 

“It worked!” Alpha said with excitement.

 

Trey stepped forward towards the rangers. He was holding the infant in his arms. “My friends…it’s time I returned home.”

 

Tommy nodded. “We can’t thank you enough, Trey…for everything.”

 

“Yeah,” Kat said. “You better come and visit.”

 

A weak smile spread across the weary warrior’s face. “I am sure our paths will cross again.”

 

Justin stepped forward. “And you’re sure about taking the baby thing with you?”

 

Trey nodded. “I feel it is my obligation. Remnants of the Machine Empire are still out there. They may come looking for this child.”

 

“Be careful then,” Chris said.

 

“I will,” Trey said.

 

Tommy extended his hand, and Trey reached out and grasped it. The other rangers reached out and placed their hands on top of the red and gold rangers’.

 

***

 

In a secret chamber beneath the moon’s surface, the head of the Machine King lied in a pile of dust of rubble.

 

His eyes slowly started to flicker as the wiring in the room came to life.

 

END