Rangers in Space: Chapter Twenty-three

Psycho Rangers: Fall

 

An Onijuu manned his platform station on board The Ring. The self-made monster was in his human form with leather body armor with metal lining. He wore a pair of sabers strapped across his back and a blaster attached to his leg.

 

He didn’t notice a small figure step out from the shadows. It was young Zehk, scarcely clad in his robe. “Hey…kind of a boring job, don’t you think?”

 

The Onijuu turned and glared at the boy. “How in the nine hells did you get in here, brat?”

 

“Well,” Zehk said, flashing the guard a grin. “It’s actually quite a funny story. You see-” 

 

Jikku jumped out of nowhere and slammed a jump kick against the demon’s back. The Onijuu went flying off the platform and crashing against the wall.  The cloaked warrior somersaulted through the air and landed in a crouched position as he pulled a green ruby out from his belt.

 

The Onijuu underwent a transformation, turning into his demon form. The creature’s head looked like a dark-blue scaled dog. It’s eyes were yellow and penetrating. It’s body was covered in a dark white and gray suit of armor. A red medallion was embedded in the center of his armor.

 

Jikku’s green gem radiated with energy and washed over his body. He transformed into the armor of Demon Hunter.

 

Demon Hunter pounced forward and moved in low, slamming an uppercut against the monster’s chest. He followed with a hook punch across the villain’s head, and a roundkick against the demon’s side.

 

While Demon Hunter bashed against the Onijuu, Zehk ran over to the platform and started running his fingers across various control. The plan had officially started.

 

***

 

The Megaship was in formation among various traveling vessels that were waiting to dock with or board The Ring. Cy, the six rangers, and their two passengers Shara and Nolan manned the bridge.

 

Justin sighed with frustration while he stood at his station. “I don’t like sitting still this long. God only knows who’s out there.”

 

“I agree,” Tommy said. He looked to Cy. “How long does this usually take?”

 

Cy narrowed his eyes as part of a look Tommy had learned meant trouble. “Not this long. Something is wrong, but I’m not sure it has anything to do with us.”

 

“Okay,” Tommy said. “Here’s the plan. I’ll have the Delta Mega make a fly by to distract security. Justin, you, me, and Zhane will take a shuttle pod and squeeze onto The Ring. We’ll drop Nolan and Shara off, and get back to the Megaship.”

 

***

 

The Delta Mega speared into real-space and flew past the lines of vessels with a blast of its thrusters. The Delta Mega, its weapons powered down for a mere light show, fired pulses of energy blasts that streaked over the various ships and transports.

 

No sensor array bothered to notice a small shuttle pod weave along on its ways to The Ring.

 

***

 

Gidyin noticed the Delta Mega swoop past his ship’s forward view port. “What in the nine hells is that thing?”

 

His sensor officer reviewed scans of the ship. “It’s a mobile weapon platform...but it’s shooting blanks.”

 

Gidyin wrinkled his brow. “Blanks? What do you mean blanks?”

 

“Those energy blasts are harmless,” she said. “And I can’t identify any attack pattern.”

 

“A distraction,” Gidyin said. Had The Committee caught on to their presence? Were they trying to lure the [pirates into the open so they could be identified and destroyed? “Tag every ship movement. Where ever that mobile weapons platform is, I want our sensors aimed in the opposite direction. We can’t be taken off guard.”

 

The pirate ship’s sensors detected the rangers’ shuttle pod streak towards The Ring. he had no idea what the pod was up to, but it was the only thing besides the weapon platform that was out of place. he had to find out what it was.

 

“Follow the shuttle pod,” he said to his helmsman. “I want to know what’s happening here, and more importantly, how we fit.”

 

***

 

The Onijuu fired crimson optic blasts that exploded against Demon Hunter’s armor and sent him crashing backward against a wall. The creature turned its attention to Zehk, but Demon Hunter quickly recovered and shot towards the villain, slamming a flying sidekick against the demon’s body.

 

Zehk activated a series of commands. He created a set of false disturbances, all small occurrences but enough to merit and extra patrol or two to investigate. He cleared guards from the path Demon Hunter planned to use.

 

Demon Hunter cracked a spinning heel kick against the creature’s head. The warrior followed with a roundkick to the demon’s side and a backfist across the head.

 

Demon Hunter downloaded a short blade from his armor and slammed the hilt of the weapon against the demon’s face. The creature was dazed as Demon Hunter spun forward and slammed the short sword into the creature’s chest.

 

Demon Hunter looked to Zehk. “Duck.”

 

Zehk ducked for cover behind the platform. The demon fell backward, its energy overloading and exploding in a sphere of flame and sparks.

 

***

 

Tommy, Zhane, Justin, Nolan, and Shara moved through one of the upper levels of the ring. Wide viewports stretched four six stories high, giving a view of the red and brown planet below.

 

Three levels of walkways ran along the main corridor. Various beings and travelers walked moved through the long passageway. Only high-class customers moved through these passage ways.

 

“Everything seems normal,” Zhane said. “As normal as these places can get at least.”

 

“No,” Nolan said, shaking his head. “There are no guards stationed anywhere on this deck. That is most unusual for a station as unique as The Ring.”

 

“Could they be under cover?” Justin asked. “So they can move around with the normal people?”

 

“Ha,” Shara said. “This place is run by The Committee. Their guards as anything but inconspicuous. It’s a pity for them that their fighting skills don’t match their enormous egos.”

 

"We need to find out what's going on," Tommy said. "Shara and Nolan, talk around with people and see if they know anything. Zhane, let’s find a data terminal. Maybe we can find something useful.”

 

The deck plating suddenly rocked as a large explosion ripped through the floor ahead. A demon monster, twice the size of a normal human, leapt upward from the resulting hole in the floor with a gold and black armored humanoid slung over its shoulder. The humanoid was Demon Hunter.

 

The monster flipped backward and slammed Demon Hunter against the ground while tackling a knee against the warrior’s chest. The creature had tracked Demon Hunter after finding the remains of the dead Onijuu that the warrior had killed.

 

Citizens ran in panic as the demon swung a punch that slammed against the fallen warrior. The three rangers ran forward, with Nolan and Shara staying by their side.

 

“I’ll assume the giant freak is the bad guy,” Justin said as he readied his morpher.

 

“It’s so hard to tell out here,” Tommy said as he readied his own morpher.

 

“Justin is correct,” Nolan said as he summoned his tsincaat to hand. “It’s an Onijuu.”

 

Zhane nodded with agreement as he readied his morpher. “The whole race basically turns themselves into demons.”

 

“A demon, huh,” Tommy said. “Well let’s send him back where he came from. It’s morphin time!”

 

“Install! Astro Ranger!” Tommy and Justin shouted as they keyed the code 3-3-5-enter into their braces. Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

“Keitizer!” Zhane shouted. “Install!” He activated his morpher as silver energy shimmered around them and they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

Nolan stepped forward with his sword in hand, and Shara pulled a pair of blasters, each topped with curved razor blades, from her hip.

 

Before they could attack, more screams flooded the corridor, but these came from behind. A group of black lions was chasing after people who were running in panic, trying to escape the demon.

 

A group of pirates, Gidyin and the Diggers, split up and fought against the lion creatures, trying to keep the beasts away from the civilians. The Ring’s armored guards were not too far behind. They carried various blasters and blade weapons and attacked the Diggers without mercy.

 

Astro Red’s helmet comm beeped and Chris’s voice came through. “Tommy, you’ve got trouble.”

 

“I noticed,” Astro Red said.

 

“No,” Chris said. “More trouble. Astronema just appeared in-system.”

 

Five flashes of light appeared on the deck. The light dissipated, and the five Psycho Rangers stood, each glaring at the three Rangers.

 

“Is it just me?” Astro Blue asked. “Or is it getting a little crowded in here?

 

A group of Craterites and Quantrons appeared.

 

The Psycho Rangers extended their hands and fired jagged green energy bursts towards the Rangers and their allies. The three Rangers spread out in front of Nolan and Shara to protect them. The energy blasts exploded against the Rangers armor as the grunts charged forward to attack.

 

Nolan twirled his blade. “Come, Shara. We can handle the foot soldiers.”

 

Shara lifted her blaster and fired a volley of shots that exploded against four Craterites and knocked them backward. The Quantrons did not go down as easily.

 

Nolan moved forward and spun his tsincaat, thrashing the magical blade through a Quantron’s chest and ripping apart its innards.

 

Psych Red and Psycho Yellow leapt forward towards Astro Red. Psycho Yellow fired yellow energy darts with her weapon.

 

“Drill Saber!” Astro Red shouted as he used his weapon to deflect the blasts.

 

Psycho Red dropped and chopped his blade towards Red Ranger’s head. Astro Red parried the blow and snapped a spin kick towards the Psycho’s head. Psycho Red grabbed the Ranger by the leg and turned forward, crashing a punch against the Ranger’s stomach.

 

Psycho Yellow moved in from the side to attack, but Astro Red slammed a sidekick against her faceplate, distracting Red Ranger enough for Psycho Red to thrash his blade across the Ranger’s armor.

 

Nearby, Psycho Black charged towards Astro Silver. The Psycho swung its black staff towards the Ranger.

 

“Silver Blazer!” Astro Silver shouted as he armed his weapon. He parried Psycho Silver’s blow and thrashed upward across the villain’s chest.

 

Psycho Blue jumped down behind Astro Silver, surprising the Ranger and slashing horizontally across his back. The blow sparked on impact and caused the Ranger to stumble forward, straight into a knee blow from Psycho Black.

 

Psycho Blue then spun to his right near Astro Blue and slammed a hook kick across the Blue Ranger’s helmet.

 

The Craterites charged forward with Quantrons to help attack the Rangers, but Nolan and Shara kept most of them at bay.

 

Meanwhile, Demon Hunter leapt onto the large demon’s back and started slamming punches against its spine, hoping to crack bone. The creature reached back and grabbed Demon Hunter, then swung him forward and crashed him against the ground.

 

On the other side of the Rangers’ battle, the Diggers blasted and slashed at the pouncing lions. The creatures’ flesh was tough and hard to penetrate.

 

One of the lions leapt straight towards Gidyin. The pirate leapt to the side and triggered a pair of shots at the creature. The beast twisted in midair and clamped its jaws on the pirate’s arm.

 

Gidyin screamed, distracting Nolan, who was fighting Quantrons near the pirate. Nolan ran his blade through a soldier’s throat and snapped a spinning kick around to knock a second soldier to the ground.

 

Astro Red parried a series of three fierce strikes from Psycho Red, each blow forcing Red Ranger a step backward. “We have to get organized…”

 

He parried a fourth blow while spinning around with a reverse sidekick to the Psycho’s chest. Three newcomers arrived onto the battlefield as Astro Red landed another blow against the Psycho: the other Rangers arrived.

 

“Thanks for stopping by,” Astro Blue said before getting thrashed with Psycho Blue’s axe.

 

“Alright,” Astro Red said. “Zhane, help fight against that giant. Whoever’s fighting is getting worn down. Shara, leave the Quantrons and Craterites to Nolan. Help against those lions. Everyone else, take the Psychos.”

 

The Rangers and their allies regrouped and attacked.

 

The demon monster was about to stomp down and crush the fallen Demon Hunter. Astro Silver dashed forward with a volley of yellow energy darts that exploded against the monster and knocked him off balance.

 

Demon Hunter rolled onto his back and aimed his blaster upward, firing jade energy blasts that exploded against the monster’s stomach. The demon was taken aback as Astro Silver ran to Demon Hunter’s side and helped the warrior to his feet.

 

“I think he likes you,” Astro Silver said as the creature growled.

 

“Doubtful,” Demon Hunter said as he armed a pair of fist blades on his gauntlets.

 

“Stay behind me,” Astro Silver said.

 

The two warriors charged forward towards the beast, Demon Hunter staying behind the Ranger as Astro Silver fired a volley of energy darts that exploded against the demon with a shower of sparks.

 

When the pair moved in close enough, Demon Hunter jumped out and dove forward, slamming his fists against the beast’s chest, his fist blades ripping through muscles and cracking bone.

 

Astro Silver skipped forward next, energizing his blade, and swinging the weapon down diagonally across the demon’s chest.

 

On the other side of the corridor, a lion tossed Gidyin against the view port like a rag doll. The pirate’s arm was mangled and bloody from the creature’s teeth.

 

The black beast pounced forward to finish off its prey, but Shara leapt forward and slammed a double-flying sidekick against the creature. With her feet still against the lion’s body, she held her blasters at near point-blank range and fired a volley of shots that ripped through the lion.

 

***

 

Psycho Red pushed forward. Each swing of his blade brought him closer to victory. Each swing brought him closer to ending it all. That bastard Ranger! He deserved to die. Die!

 

“Why won’t you die!” Psycho Red shouted, swinging his blade through a powerful downward arc that Astro Red parried.

 

“Just to tick you off, psycho,” Astro Red answered as he swung his blade horizontally.

 

Psycho Red slapped the Ranger’s blade aside. Hearing Red Ranger’s voice was more painful than any physical blow. It was the most irritating sound or sensation in all of existence.

 

Psycho Red pushed forward faster. His blade thrashed across Astro Red’s chest in an ‘x’ pattern, sparking on impact. The Psycho followed with a round kick that slammed against the Ranger’s side.

 

***

 

Nolan ran his blade through another Quantron, pulled the tsincaat free, and slashed across another soldier’s chest. A nagging feeling tugged at his mind throughout the battle. Psycho Red’s psionic imprint was…familiar.

 

Nolan jump kicked a soldier in the faceplate and ran his blade through one of the Quantron’s neck.

 

Psycho Red. Something about the Psycho…something inside the Psycho…was Zero. Memories flashed before Nolan’s mind’s eye. Zero’s memories.

 

I stared up at my kidnappers. The green-grid android and red-haired woman had attacked me on the penal colony and kidnapped me along with nine other inmates.

 

She had my blades.

 

I pounced forward from the ground to attack, but she ignited a jagged-purple lightning blast that exploded against my chest and knocked me backward. I fell back-first onto the deck of her Dark Fortress.

 

“He has a fiery temper,” Astronema said in a cold voice. “He’s perfect.”

 

I rolled my hands into fists. No one hit me and lived. Especially a woman. I flipped back to my feet again. This time, she swung her staff in a horizontal strike that cracked against my ribs, crushing bone and sending back to the deck.

 

“A lesser foe would have been incapacitated after one of my energy blasts,” she said. “And yet this one manages to fight back…as foolish as his efforts may have been.”

 

A man stepped out from the shadows. He wore a long, black jacket that matched the color of his dark hair. His face was pale. Astronema knew him only as the Dark Man.

 

He pulled out a slim card and handed it to Astronema. The card had ancient writing scribbled across it. “I have something you might find helpful, Astronema.”

 

She kept her eyes on me, even though she addressed the Dark Man. “I warned you about sneaking up on me. Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t turn around and destroy you.”

 

“This card,” the Dark Man said. “It holds the key to destroying Sauron. You can use it to defeat him.”

 

Astronema sensed truth in the Dark Man’s words, it seemed. She turned to face him and ran her fingers along the card, sensing the power and strength within its writing.

 

“What is it?” she asked. “Speak quickly.”

 

“The power of Sauron,” the Dark Man answered. “This card as a very old, very powerful spell that will let you channel energy from Sauron into the five warriors of your choosing.”

 

“Excellent…” Astronema said as a cold smile spread across her face. She looked down towards me.

 

“But the power of Sauron consumes the body,” the Dark Man explained. “You will need more than five.”

 

“That won’t be a problem….” Astronema said. “I have ten.”

 

I knew what was coming. I had to stop her.

 

I pounced forward and swung a knee blow towards the villain. She fired a purple energy blast that slammed against me. This time, she kept pouring on the power.

 

Electricity danced across my body, scorching my flesh. My muscles tore. My bones cracked and smashed.

 

Pain was replaced by nothingness.

 

My vision narrowed until…

 

***

 

Someone else was in my mind!

 

<Who is this? What the hell is happening to me!>

 

Someone else. Five. She meshed us. Astronema meshed our bodies together. Two of us in one body. The same for the other five. Ten captives. Mashed into five.

 

<five? What five! What is this madness! Voices in my head!>

 

Shut up you fool! Who is this? What is this? It hurts. He’s fighting! His will. My will. Battling against each other. It has to stop!

 

<I’m going insane! Why won’t it stop!>

 

Silence!

 

<Stop!> No more, I will root you out from my own <I was only just riding along to> I will kill with my bare <a thief I’m only a thief> My body’s a living weapon and yet <oh how I miss the> the android had my blades <my pouch was only> the pain <why does it hurt> The pain <anger> hate. <pain> pain.

 

***

 

I opened my eyes beneath my visor. The first thing I noticed was pain. A field of pain wrapped around me like a crimson blanket. The pain started to move inward, closer into my soul, closer into my being, as the cloud surrounding my vision dissipated.

I looked up and saw Astronema. I didn’t know who I was, but I knew her. She was my maker. She was the one holding my leash, and I hated her for it and adored her at the same time. My eyes moved past Astronema and looked back to Eclipter, the android body guard. A master swordsman.


Astronema began speaking, each word like a dagger in my ear. “Your former lives are insignificant. A forgotten memory. You are mine. That’s all that matters.”


I felt my anger rise up, my blood boil as every muscle in my body tensed. Astronema continued to speak, each word hammering against my mind. “You are here for one reason, and one reason alone. To kill my enemies. You are in pain, and will feel pain until you do so.”

 


My madness reached its first incline as the subject of my anger flashed before my mind’s eye. I cursed the name of my enemy in a deep metallic voice. “Astro Red…”

 

***

 

Nolan stumbled backward and collapsed onto the deck. A group of Quantrons lunged forward and aimed their blade downward, ready to spear them through the fallen warrior’s chest.

 

Nolan quickly regained his senses and used his blade to slap the Quantrons’ weapons away. He flipped back to his feet while driving his heels against a soldier’s chest, pushing the Quantron back.

 

Nearby, Shara fired another trio of blasts that tore through a lion creature. The creature lurched in pain as its body slid across the deck. She looked behind the fallen creature to see a slender human she recognized.

 

“Tarrant?!” she said.

 

Tarrant’s eyes opened wide in recognition. “Shara? How are you…what are you…”

 

Tarrant and Shara had been close. Before Tarrant became a cadet, he had been friends with Shara on his homeworld. They had laughed together. Made love together. She often tried to Tarrant into trouble.

 

Then one night she was gone, without a word or trace. She just left him and their world. He had learned through his father that she wound up in a penal colony. He never knew why.

 

“Good to see you too,” Shara said as she blasted another group of lions away. “But what do we say we save the shocked gasps of awe until after we stop these things from trying to kill us.

 

Large metallic doors suddenly slammed shut on either end of the lengthy corridor. The doors made a large clanking sound that vibrated the deck, nearly knocking the group of combatants from their feet.

 

“Something about this isn’t good,” Astro Blue said as he parried a blow from Psycho Blue.

 

Large metallic gears started to crank near the view port. Gidyin’s orange skin grew slightly pale. “Personal shields!”

 

The pirate slapped a band onto his upper right arm while tossing another band to Tarrant. He had heard of the bands. They emitted energy shields that could protect a person from the vacuum of space for a limited time. Prolonged use was fatal.

 

“What about Shara!” Tarrant shouted. “And her friend.”

 

Gidyin grumbled beneath his breath and tossed a pair of the arm braces to Nolan and Shara.

 

Shara slapped the brace on. “He is not my friend.”

 

“Why thank you,” Nolan said sarcastically.

 

The view ports suddenly shattered. The workers of The Ring had decided it best to flush out their problem as opposed to dealing with it directly.

 

The Rangers, Demon Hunter, and the entire battle group was sucked out into the blackness of space. The lions were crushed, frozen, and suffocated. The demon monster imploded. All others were either protected by their armor or personal shields.

 

Tarrant nearly panicked as he flailed about space. His arms and legs were moving about freely in the void. He hated EV training even when protected in an environmental suit. This was far worse.

 

The Digger ship and Astro Megaship came about, trying desperately to gather the scattered warriors before they spread too far.

 

Astro Red watched as the Megaship bay doors retrieved his teammates, Nolan, Shara, and the one called Tarrant.

 

A strange saucer-shaped ship picked up Demon Hunter. The pirate vessel retrieved its crew.

 

Astro Red was about to enter into tractor range when a blur of motion slammed against his body, tackling against him. It was Psycho Red. The two streaked backward and slammed onto The Ring, skidding across its surface as explosions sparked against their armor.

 

Astro Red rolled backward and pushed off, kicking Psycho Red in the chest. Psycho Red went streaking backwards. Astro Red had kicked too hard and went floating away from The Ring.

 

Psycho Red used his energy to propel himself forward again. The villain slammed against Astro Red, using a  knee to pin the Ranger against the hull.

 

“You will never escape me,” Psycho Red said through the Ranger’s comm system. “This fight is to the death. Your death.”

 

“Not going to happen, psycho,” Astro Red said.

 

Astro Red used his right hand to grab the villain’s ankle, and pressed his left hand against the villain’s knee. He pushed against the knee, causing the Psycho to growl in pain. Psycho Red started to drift upward as Astro Red pushed off the deck as hard as he could. He flew at the Psycho with a series of kicks and punches. Each blow threatened to knock him away from his opponent, but he corrected himself with a series of twists and turns.

 

Psycho Red energized his body and shot forward in a blur of crimson energy. He tackled against Psycho Red and the two opponents went streaking down towards the planet’s atmosphere. Astro Red armed his Drill Saber and started slamming the end of its handle against the villain’s temple as hard as he could, but the Psycho did not respond at all.

 

The heat of the planet’s atmosphere illuminated their armor as they streaked down towards the barren and inhospitable world below.  

 

***

 

Demon Hunter collapsed against the deck plating of the strange ship’s cargo hold. He didn’t know who owned the ship, and didn’t care. His armor was not designed for prolonged space exposure. He would have died.

 

He heard footsteps approach. He looked up and was shocked silent. It was Zehk. The kid.

 

“Do I even want to know?” Demon Hunter asked.

 

Zehk shrugged, as if the answer was obvious. “You said you’d get me out of here. I can’t fly one of these things through hyperspace. I had to come get you.”

 

“Where did you get a ship?” Demon Hunter asked.

 

“It’s just a shuttlecraft. I stole it while you and that demon thing were ripping The Ring apart,” Zehk explained.

 

Demon Hunter groaned with pain as he collapsed back to the deck. It felt like fire was shooting through his veins.

 

“Hey,” Zehk said as he kneeled down to Demon Hunter. “Don’t die. You have to fly this thing.”

 

“Your concern is touching,” Demon Hunter said through clenched teeth. “My armor is damaged. It needs repairs.”

 

Zehk rolled his eyes. “Well we can’t just sit around here forever. Get us out of here, fix your rust-bucket armor later.”

 

Demon Hunter shook his head. “Those Rangers…send a message to the Rangers.”

 

***

 

The Megaship pulled back to the edge of the system. The Digger vessel and Demon Hunter’s stolen shuttle were at the Megaship’s side. They were regrouping before going back to search for Tommy, much to Ashley’s protest.

 

Demon Hunter was lying back in the Megaship’s medical bay. Ashley ran a device over his emerald gem. The device emitted crimson energy that washed over the damaged green gem.

 

Zehk stood nearby, shifting uncomfortably in the flight suit the rangers had given him. He crossed his arms over his chest impatiently. “Are you done with him yet? I need him.”

 

“I didn’t ask,” Ashley said, her attention tuned to the task at hand. “What were you two doing at The Ring anyway?”

 

Demon Hunter shifted his head as he answered. “The Committee runs The Ring. I was tasked with rotting them out.”

 

“What’s The Committee?” Ashley asked.

 

“A threat,” Demon Hunter answered. “They hide behind the guises of politicians and business men. They orchestrate attacks. Traffic illegal cargo. Harbor Sauron’s troops. All within allied space. Our space.”

 

“How many of them are there?” Ashley said.

 

“Too many,” Demon Hunter answered. Ashley continued her work.

 

***

 

“So let me get this straight,” Justin said in another wing of the medical bay. Chris stood by his side as Nolan sat on the medical bed. “This Zero guy you mentioned is one of two people sliced into Astro Red?”

 

Nolan nodded. “The memories were…painfully detailed.”

 

Chris shook his head, struggling to put the new information to use. “There has to be some way we can use this to our advantage…but how?”

 

DECA’s voice piped through the comm system. “Sensors have detected Astro Red’s signal on the surface of Kowlune.”

 

“Let’s go,” Justin said as he, Chris, and Nolan left the medical bay. “DECA, contact Ashley. Tell her she’ll want to meet us on the bridge.”

 

***

 

Tarrant and Shara sat side by side on the deck in one of the Megaship’s lower corridors.

 

“Why did you leave, Shara?” Tarrant asked after several minutes of silence. “Why did you leave me?”

 

Shara dropped her rough and gritty exterior - something few were privileged enough to ever see. She sighed and shook her head. “I had to, Tarrant. What we had was…” she shook her head. “There wasn’t time to say goodbye.”

 

“But why?” Tarrant asked again.

 

“They were going to kill me,” she said simply. “And you. Everyone I knew was about to die.”

 

Tarrant narrowed his eyes. “What are you talking about?”

 

“The Committee,” Shara said. “I don’t know the details...but my father betrayed them. They killed him, but if you betray The Committee, they don’t just kill you, they wipe out every trace of your existence. They came after me, but I fought back. With some help.”

 

Tarrant’s face grew pale. The Committee. His father’s death. Why? Why did he never notice the evil within The Committee? Or maybe he did and wouldn’t admit it to himself. “Help from who?”

 

“A group of Digger pirates,” she said. “I stayed with them for months. Until one of our missions failed. We were picked up by authorities. I was taken to the penal colony.”

 

DECA’s voice came over the comm system. “All passengers, report to the bridge.”

 

***

              

The rangers and their passengers gathered on the Megaship bridge as the barren world surrounded by The Ring filled the view port.

 

Chris reported from his station. “The Psychos are spreading across the surface. They haven’t found Tommy and Psycho Red yet.”

 

Zehk snorted as he leaned against the rear bulkhead. “The Druibids will find him first. Everyone knows that.”

 

Druibids were tall, slender beasts with razor-sharp fur. The fur shifted color from re to black, seemingly at random. They roamed the planet through dry air rich with poisons and sand particles so sharp that they tore through flesh and bone.

 

Ashley ignored Zehk. She knew the rangers could handle any native on the planet. It was the Psychos she was worried about. “He can’t take on all five Psychos by himself. They know our moves inside and out.”

 

Justin wrinkled his brow, a revelation hitting him. His eyes opened wide. “Of course! We’ve been fighting these Psychos one-on-one. Red on Red. Blue on Blue. Why don’t we switch it up? Psycho Blue may have all my data loaded in his head, but not yours. See?”

 

Ashley smiled. The idea was so simple. She kicked herself for not thinking of it earlier. “Not a bad idea. We’ll try it.” She looked to Cy. “Prep the shuttle pod, Cy. We’re heading down to the surface.”

 

***

 

Psycho Red was standing back-to-back with Astro Red. The villain hated it, but was left with no choice. A group of Druibids had surrounded them. Psycho Red was not about to let those creatures rob his kill. The villain wanted Astro Red all to himself.

 

Psycho Red slashed his black blade through one of the creature’s throats, and brought the saber back around to cut across its chest, ripping through flesh and cracking through bone.

 

The villain used the end of his saber to knock the dead creature away. Psycho Red snapped forward with a jump kick that slammed against a creature’s snout. The villain followed with a hook kick that smashed against the creature’s head, crushing its skull.

 

Astro Red downloaded his Drill Saber. He used the weapon to spear forward and puncture through a creature’s chest. Astro Red twisted the blade, mangling the creature’s flesh and tearing through its vital organs. The Ranger pulled his saber free and sidekicked the creature away.

 

The last of the creature’s pounced towards Astro Red’s back, but Psycho Red drove his saber through the back of its skull. Psycho Red removed his saber, and the dead creature slumped top the ground.

 

Psycho Red glared at the Red Ranger. The villain’s temper boiled. “I hate you.”

 

“I’m not surprised,” Astro Red answered.

 

Psycho Red dashed forward and started swinging his saber through a series of strikes. Astro Red parried the first few blows before Psycho Red maneuvered his blade upward in a diagonal strike that sparked against the Ranger’s chest. The villain followed with a round kick that slammed against the Ranger’s side.

 

Psycho Red enjoyed every blow. “No one will stop me this time! Not even Astronema! This time you die!”

 

“Spoken like a true psycho,” Astro Red said as he spun forward and slammed the edge of his saber’s handle across Psycho Red’s head. He followed with a spinning sidekick that slammed against the villain’s chest and brought the same leg up for a hook kick that smashed across the Psycho’s head.

 

Psycho Red growled and grabbed Astro Red’s throat. The villain sent tendrils of red energy down his arm, each tendril exploding with a cloud of sparks as it exploded across the Ranger’s armor.

 

Lances of blue energy exploded against the Psycho’s armor. The Psycho went tumbling backward as Astro Red slumped to the ground. The other five Rangers ran to his side.

 

“Thanks,” Astro Red said between his quick breaths. He slowly pulled himself back onto his feet just in time to see the other Psychos arrive.

 

“Tommy,” Astro Blue said as he placed a hand on his leader’s shoulder. “We’re going to mix it up. We can’t fight them red on red or black on black.”

 

Astro Red nodded. “Sounds like a plan. Let’s take care of business.”

 

The Rangers and Psychos snapped into fighting stances. The two groups started to circle around each other. The breeze howled through the air, whipping sand and dust across their bodies. Both teams pounced forward to attack.

 

Astro Red leapt through the air and tackled against Psycho Yellow. Astro Red tackled the Psycho to the ground before rolling back onto his feet. Psycho Yellow recovered and pounced forward to attack, swinging a knifehand strike towards the Ranger’s head. Astro Red blocked the blow, slammed a roundkick against the Psycho’s side, and sent a knifehand strike crashing against the back of her neck.

 

Psycho Blue wrapped his hand around Astro Black’s neck. Astro Black slammed his fists against the Psycho’s arm to break free from his grasp. The Black Ranger stepped forward and slammed an elbow against the Psycho’s midsection.

 

Psycho Red swung his black saber down towards Astro Silver’s helmet. Astro Silver used his blade to slap the Psycho’s sword away, and dashed forward while thrashing horizontally across the Psycho’s chest.

 

Astro Pink moved in towards Psycho Red next. She slammed a roundkick against the villain’s side, whipping the Psycho around. Astro Pink stepped forward while slamming a palm-heel blow against the Psycho’s chest.

 

Astro Yellow jump kicked Psycho Pink in the faceplate. The Yellow Ranger pressed forward, slamming a roundkick against the Psycho’s head, and a spinning heel kick that crashed against the side of the Psycho’s helmet.

 

Psycho Black moved in with a backfist aimed towards Astro Blue’s faceplate. The Blue Ranger blocked the blow and twisted, slamming a roundkick against the villain’s side.

 

Psycho Blue was growing sick of the Rangers’ new strategy. He stepped forward and slammed a kick against the side of Astro Black’s knee. Astro Black collapsed, and Psycho Blue dropped an elbow against the Black Ranger’s chest, sparking on impact.

 

Psycho Blue glared at Astro Blue. The villain shot to his feet and leapt forward through the air.

 

Psycho Blue slammed a screw kick against Astro Blue, knocking the Ranger off his feet and sending him stumbling across the surface.

 

“Justin!” Astro Black shouted as he started to run towards his friend’s path. But psycho Black blocked the Black Ranger’s path. “Don’t worry about your blue friend. Worry about yourself.”

 

Psycho Black charged forward and snapped a flying-reverse hook kick that sparked against the Ranger’s armor upon impact.

 

The Psychos attacked their counterparts with a fierce volley of kicks and punches. Explosions sparked against their armor as the Psychos overwhelmed them with a flurry of attacks.

 

Psycho Blue slammed a kick combination against Astro Blue that knocked the Ranger backward. Astro Blue rose to his feet as Psycho Blue thrashed his twisted axe across the Ranger’s chest.

 

Astro Blue went stumbling across the ground. He rose to his knees as the Psycho fired a twirling blue blade of energy. The energy blade thrashed across his chest and boomeranged back, cutting through his armor and through his left shoulder, tearing through flesh and bone.

 

His armor de-energized as Justin collapsed to the ground, clutching the wound on the left side of his body.

 

Psycho Blue casually draped his axe over his shoulder as he stalked towards the fallen ranger. “You at least could have put up a fight…but I suppose it will be nice…being able to see the fear in your eyes as you die.”

 

Psycho Blue stood by Astro Blue’s side and raised his axe high. The villain swung the axe downward towards Astro Blue’s head.

 

Astro Silver pounced forward and used his Silver Blazer to block Psycho Blue’s blow. Silver Ranger slapped the axe away and thrashed Psycho Blue across the chest before sidekicking the villain backward.

 

Astro Silver charged towards Psycho Blue. Silver Ranger skipped forward and swung his blade diagonally downward towards Psycho Blue’s neck. Psycho Blue parried the blow and dashed past Astro Silver while slashing the Ranger across the chest. Psycho Blue turned and thrashed to blows in ’x’ shape pattern that sparked across Silver Ranger’s armor.

 

***

 

Sauron’s psionic scream nearly split open Astronema’s head. The dark monarch’s power was being drained with every blow and attack from the Psychos.

 

“Call them off, Eclipter,” Astronema said through her clenched jaw as she nearly collapsed from the pain.

 

***

 

The Psycho Rangers fell back, giving the rangers time to return to the Megaship and leave the system.

 

Justin was lying in a bio bed in the Megaship’s sick bay. Kat was at his side, tending to his owns. Justin ran his hand over his injury.

 

“Some brilliant plan,” he said sarcastically. “Just a little bit to the right and I’d be dead.”

 

“Don’t say that,” Kat said. “It was a good idea. There wasn’t anything you could have done…It could have happened to any of us. Just be glad you’re alright.”

 

“Yeah,” Justin said, placing his palm over Kat’s hand. “I guess it’s our fault for color coded or costumes.”

 

Kat smiled and rubbed his hand. Justin’s eyes widened as a thought struck him. “I think I have another idea…only this one should work.”

 

***

 

The Dark Fortress moved to the Calskc Sector in the galactic rim. Astronema was regrouping and preparing a plan of attack. But the Psychos were tired of waiting. She had pulled in their leash for the last time. 

 

Psycho Red paced back and forth across the deck plating in the Dark Fortress’s lower chambers. The other Psycho Rangers were with him.

 

“Who does she think she is?” Psycho Red asked to himself, although his voice echoed across the walls. “I want Astro Red! I want him dead! And every time we come close she stops us!”

 

Psycho Blue tilted his head. “What would you have us do? We can’t just-”

 

“Quiet!” Psycho Red shouted. “I’m thinking.”

 

Psycho Black stared at a bulkhead, almost as if he could see through the wall. Calskc Prime is inhabited. If we attack, the Rangers will try to stop us. We can kill them then.”

 

“Fool!” Psycho Red shouted. “Astronema will only bring us back here again.”

 

“What then?” Psycho Blue asked, his voice growing with frustration. “We sit here? No. let’s attack. To the nine hells with Astronema and her android pet.”

 

***

 

Astronema was listening from the shadows. Did the Psychos really think they could hide from her? On her own ship? Let them strike. It was only a matter of time before Sauron was completely drained.

 

“Then it will all be mine,” she said quietly to herself.

 

***

 

The Psychos attacked like a storm from hell. They released their anger on the planet below, tearing through streets clogged with industry and factories. They fired energy blasts, cut through structures, threw civilians through windows.

 

Every one of their steps brought someone closer to death.

 

“Hey Psychos!” a voice shouted from behind the villains.

 

The Psycho Rangers turned to see Astro Blue step forward from behind a silo. He stood defiantly and crossed his arms over his chest. “How about a rematch, blue boy?”

 

Psycho Blue rolled his hands up into fists, anger filling his veins. “Shouldn’t you be laying dead in a gutter somewhere?”

 

“Maybe,” Astro Blue said. “If Astronema hadn’t pulled you in by your leash.”

 

Psycho Blue snarled at the Ranger, but his anger quickly turned into perplexity. Another Astro Blue came out from behind a factory. Then a third. Then a fourth, followed closely by a fifth.

 

Each of the Rangers, their armor modified to appear blue, snapped into an identical fighting stance and shouted. “Astro Blue!”

 

Psycho Blue stepped forward, his teammates at his side. “I’ll just have to tear each of your pretenders apart, limb-by-limb. You can’t hide behind them forever.”

 

Psycho Blue armed his twisted tomahawk and charged forward towards the five Rangers. The five Rangers dashed forward to fight back.

 

Psycho Blue moved in low and thrashed across a Astro Blue/Red’s midsection. The Psycho spun forward and thrashed upward, striking Astro Blue/Yellow across the chest. Psycho Blue followed with a roundkick against the Ranger’s back.

 

***

 

Every muscle in Psycho Red’s body tightened. The villain glared at Psycho Blue. Psycho Red was not about to let the blue one hog all the kills, no matter what color the Rangers were wearing.

 

Psycho Red charged forward, the other Psychos at his heels. The villain pounced forward and armed his onyx blade, swinging the weapon down in a pair of diagonal slashes that sparked against Astro Blue/Black’s armor on impact. Psycho Red dashed past the Ranger with a horizontal thrash, and turned to bring his blade back down in a diagonal blow that knocked the Ranger backward.

 

Psycho Red tackled against the Ranger and pressed him down against a nearby railing. Psycho Red held his blade down at the Ranger’s neck. “You’re Astro Red! You can’t hide!”

 

Astro Blue/Black laughed beneath his breath. “Sorry to disappoint you.”

 

Psycho Red growled with frustration and tossed the Ranger aside.

 

Nearby, Psycho Blue grabbed Astro Blue/Yellow and slammed her front-first against a factory wall. Psycho Blue leaned in, pressing his tomahawk against her back. “Blue! Stop hiding behind your pretenders!”

 

“Sorry,” Astro Blue/Yellow said sarcastically. “Can’t help you.”

 

Psycho Blue tossed her aside and shouted with anger. “Blue!”

 

The real Astro Blue leapt down behind Psycho Blue. Blue Ranger swung his tomahawk in a downward chop that thrashed across the Psycho’s back.

 

Psycho Red pounced forward and grabbed Astro Blue by the neck. The Psycho held the Ranger still while slamming a series of round kicks that sparked against Astro Blue’s side.

 

Psycho Black grabbed hold of Astro Blue/Pink and slammed her against a barrel before tossing her away like a rag doll.

 

Psycho Yellow dashed forward with a jump kick that slammed against Astro Blue/Black’s faceplate. Psycho Yellow followed by swinging a knifehand blow towards the Ranger’s neck. Astro Blue/Black blocked the blow before slamming a backfist blow across the Psycho’s head.

 

The battle raged around Psycho Blue as he stood, tomahawk in hand. The villain growled under his breath. How long did the real Astro Blue think he could hide? Sparks thrashed across armor as the battle continued. Psycho Blue looked around at the combatants as they smashed against each other.

 

“How long?!” Psycho Blue shouted.

 

Psycho Yellow placed a hand on Psycho Pink’s shoulder before she could attack. “Come…this battle is pointless. Let our three teammates die…better them than us.”

 

Psycho Pink nodded. “And more Rangers for us to kill…”

 

The two Psycho females teleported away with a rippling wave of energy

 

Nearby, Astro Blue slammed the handle of his sniper against the back of Psycho Red’s neck. He aimed his Astro Sniper forward towards Psycho Blue. “Be careful what you ask for, Psycho!”

 

Astro Blue fired twin bursts of blue energy darts that exploded against Psycho Blue’s armor. Astro Blue sidestepped and swung his blaster to the left while blasting Psycho Red and Psycho Black with energy bursts.

 

The five Rangers regrouped as the Psychos pulled themselves together as well. Crackling bursts of lightning suddenly streaked down from the air, exploding across the ground with a massive shower of sparks while knocking the Rangers and Psycho’s backward.

 

A dark figure stalked through the parting smoke as the flames from the explosions dissipated. The newcomer was a silver Psycho Ranger. He stood tall, his edged armor looking far more powerful than the other five Psychos.

 

The villain snapped into a fighting stance and introduced himself, his voice sounding cold and metallic. “Psycho Silver.”

 

The villain extended a rifle weapon with a long blade instead of a nozzle. He aimed the weapon forward at the Astros. “Psycho Ranger…you are all obsolete. The Rangers are mine to destroy. And mine alone.”

 

Psycho Red rolled his hands into fists, his body trembling with anger. But before he could protest, Psycho Silver leapt into action. The latest Psycho leapt forward and brought his blade down vertically across Astro Blue’s chest, sparking against the Ranger’s armor.

 

Psycho Silver spun forward with a horizontal strike that thrashed across Astro Blue/Red’s chest armor with a flash of sparks.

 

“No!” Psycho Red shouted as he and Psycho Black ran forward towards Psycho Silver, who was thrashing through the Rangers with powerful strikes and swipes from his blade. “Go back to hell and leave the Rangers for us! You do not belong!”

 

Psycho Black snarled. “You don’t even have a counterpart!”

 

Blue strands of energy exploded against the two Psychos’ backs with ripping sparks and explosions. The two collapsed to their knees and looked back to their attacker: Psycho Blue.

 

“What the hell is wrong with you!” Psycho Red shouted.

 

“I want Astro Blue!” Psycho Blue shouted, waving his tomahawk to punctuate his words. “You two are only distractions!”

 

Psycho Black and Psycho Red were not at all intimidated. Psycho Black looked to Psycho Red. “Let him stay and play his game. With luck, they’ll all kill each other.”

 

“Except for Red.”

 

“And Black,” Psycho Black agreed. The two villains teleported away with a blur of energy. 

 

Psycho Blue extended his tomahawk and stalked towards Psycho Silver. The blue-armored Rangers lied injured at the sixth Psycho’s feet. “Now…out of my way…”

 

Psycho Blue’s tomahawk pulsed with neon energy. A cloud of mist suddenly erupted from the ground and blew Psycho Silver back with a thundering boom. The Psycho turned to see one of the blue armored Rangers standing. The injured Ranger was breathing heavily, and had a tomahawk in his hand. Just like the true Blue Ranger.

 

“Now…” Psycho Blue growled, sick pleasure boiling through his veins. “It’s down to you and me. Just like I’ve dreamed. Oh, I’m going to enjoy ripping you to pieces!”

 

“I don’t think so!” a voice shouted from behind the Psycho. Psycho Blue turned to see Psycho Silver back on his feet. Psycho Silver extended his arms and Astro Blue leapt onto the false Psycho’s shoulders, pushing off while spinning through the air towards Psycho Blue.

 

Astro Blue’s tomahawk cracked against the Psycho’s head, shattering part of his visor while knocking the villain backward. Psycho Blue stumbled across the ground as the five Rangers regrouped. They shattered their own holo disguises and returned to their own colors.

 

Psycho Silver removed his helmet. It was Zhane. “Psycho and gullible.”

 

Insane laughter erupted from Psycho Blue as he rose back to his feet. “Clever.” He extended his hand and fired a pulse of blue energy that exploded against the Rangers. Knocking them backward.

 

Zhane and Astro Blue rolled to their knees, landing in crouched positions next to each other. Zhane snapped open his visor. “Keitizer! Install!”

 

Silver energy flashed around him as he morphed into his armor and activated his arm-mounted blaster. “Silver Blazer!”

 

“Astro Sniper!” Astro Blue shouted as he armed his blaster.

 

The two Rangers dashed forward towards the Psycho while opening fire. Darts of blue and yellow energy exploded against the Psycho, ripping across his armor with a thrashing eruption of sparks and explosions.

 

“Tomahawk hurricane!” Astro Blue shouted when he moved in close enough. He leapt forward while spinning through the air and thrashing his blade across the Psycho’s chest, ripping apart his breast plate.

 

“Blazer Impact!” Astro Silver shouted as he skipped forward and swung his energized blade downward in a diagonal arc. The blade thrashed through the Psycho’s body.

 

Astro Blue and Astro Silver snapped into victory poses as Psycho Blue fell backward and exploded.

 

Blue energy suddenly crackled around the fallen warrior’s body. The villain slowly rose back to his feet as jagged pieces of ice protruded from his body, sending webbed cracks along his armor. His armor suddenly shattered, and Psycho Blue stood in his true form.

 

The villain’s monstrous body was made of blue, white and black ice. Psycho Blue’s body flashed with another pulse of jagged energy as he grew to giant size.

 

Astro Red activated his communicator. “Mega Voyager, online!”

 

Astro Silver activated his communicator. “Mega Winger, online!”

 

The five Voyager zords streaked down through the planet’s atmosphere. The Rangers used their Cyber Sliders to enter the zords’ cockpits. The five zords reconfigured and joined together to form one, giant robo: The Mega Voyager.

 

The Mega Winger flew through the skies and snapped upright, assuming a Megazord formation as Astro Silver entered the robo’s cockpit.

 

Psycho Blue extended his hand and launched a cloud of sharp ice and subzero particles. The ice and particles distracted the two zords while Psycho Blue dashed forward. The Psycho used his ice claws to thrash across Mega Voyager’s armor. Psycho Blue turned and swung his ice blades horizontally, damaging the Silver Ranger’s zord.

 

Mega Voyager stepped forward and swung a fist towards the monster. But psycho Blue sidestepped and slashed his ice claws across the robo’s armor.

 

Mega Voyager was forced back as Psycho Blue launched another flurry of ice and sub zero particles. The ice coated around the zord’s leg and head, freezing vital circuitry and armor.

 

“Guys!” Astro Silver shouted from his cockpit.

 

The Psycho Ranger turned his attention towards the Mega Winger. He moved forward and stabbed the claws from his hands forward, causing sparks to rip across the zord’s armor upon impact.

 

The Rangers struggled within their cockpit. Several power conduits ruptured from the freeze.

 

“Report,” Astro Red said.

 

“Systems are freezing in the entire zord,” Astro Yellow said. They shook as another conduit ruptured.

 

“Can we heat up our armor?” Astro Blue asked. “Melt off the ice?”

 

“No,” Astro Yellow said. “But we might be able to do the opposite. I can dump emergency and auxiliary power into the zord’s Mega Accelerator. It would cause every power conduit to heat up.”

 

“That sounds dangerous,” Astro Black said.

 

“It is,” Astro Yellow said.

 

Astro Red nodded. “But it’s better than being frozen still. Do it.”

 

Astro Yellow made the modifications. A surge of energy shot through the zord’s systems. The robo started to overheat, melting the ice that froze it in place. The zord’s armor started to glow with fiery energy as the ice continued to melt.

 

“We’re thawed,” Astro Yellow said.

 

“Good,” Astro Red said. “Power back down to normal levels.”

 

“Wait…” Astro Blue said as he turned towards his leader. “Let’s channel the excess heat into the Voyager Spartan.”

 

“Good idea, Justin,” Astro Red answered. “Ashley, can you make it happen?”

 

“Just say the word,” Astro Yellow answered.

 

Psycho Blue knocked the Mega Winger aside with his claws and turned towards the Mega Voyager. The villain rushed forward, realizing that his opponent was free from the icy trap.

 

Mega Voyager fired four beams of energy from its chest cannons. The energy beams exploded against Psycho Blue and knocked the villain backward. Mega Voyager armed its missile launcher weapon and prepared to deliver the final blow.

 

“Mega V-3 missile mode,” Astro Red commanded. The zord’s excess heat channeled into the missile. “Voyager Spartan!”

 

The missile blasted in a sphere of fiery power towards its target. The blast exploded through Psycho Blue and ripped the villain apart. His body shattered and exploded, his ashes consumed by flames.

 

“One down,” Astro Red said as he leaned back in his seat, “four to go.”

 

***

 

Five days past. The Megaship maneuvered through the dark void of space with only three of its thrusters working. The other thrusters and engines were damaged from a recent skirmish with a group of DaVreen warships. The DaVreen had been trying to stop a refugee convoy from fleeing a fallen world near the Galvopsee Cluster.

 

Ashley was on the floor of engineering, various panels and circuits strewn about the deck around her as she tried to make repairs to the ship’s power systems.

 

Every day it was something different. An ODN relay failing. An impulse manifold clogging. Not even the Delta Mega’s automated repair systems could keep up with the Megaship’s damage anymore. Which meant Ashley was working overtime.

 

The engineering bay doors slid open and Kat walked in.

 

“Ashley,” Kat said, “the power relays to the communications room are offline.”

 

“I know,” Ashley said, her eyes focused on her work. “I had to reroute a few couplings. The comm room will be off line for a few days.”

 

“A few days?” Kat said, agitation in her voice. “I need to review transmission logs.”

 

Ashley sighed. “I’m sorry, Kat, but you’ll have to wait. This is a bit more important.”

 

“Look,” Kat said, an unusual edge to her voice that caught Ashley’s attention. “The comm systems are my responsibility. I have dozens of transmissions to go through. You can’t keep-”

 

“Your responsibility?” Ashley said. “Fine. Next time the comm breaks, you fix it.”

 

“Ashley,” Kat said. “It’s just that the comm system is important. Zordon could be-”

 

“Look,” Ashley said, turning away from her work and standing. “You want the comm system online. I get that, okay. But Tommy and Cy need thrusters. Chris wants his long-range theta-sensor net. Justin wants the targeting sensors calibrated. Zhane wants…to be Zhane. I can’t do everything and make everyone happy. This ship is falling apart, Katharine.”

 

“I understand that,” Kat said. “But a little courtesy-”

 

Ashley rolled her eyes and sighed with frustration as she stormed out of engineering. “I don’t have time for this Kat. Go play with something else.”

 

“Ashley,” Kat said, following the yellow ranger towards the bridge. “We all do our fair share of work around here. I know it’s frustrating, but-”

 

“And will you stop trying to be everyone’s psychiatrist,” Ashley snapped as she walked onto the bridge. Kat was at her heels and the other rangers were at their stations. “It’s getting annoying.”

 

“I’m only saying,” Kat said as she followed Ashley towards a starboard station, “an attitude problem is only going to make things worse for everyone.”

 

“Fine,” Ashley said as she sat at the console. “Then don’t have one.”

 

Justin leaned over towards Tommy, both their eyes were fixed on the two girls as they continued bickering. “Do we do something…”

 

Tommy shook his head as the girls’ arguing continued. “I don’t know…I kind of want to see what happens…”

 

“You always get your way,” Kat said. “I would too if I slept with the captain.”

 

“Okay,” Tommy said as he and Justin moved towards the girls. Chris followed, but Cy and Zhane stayed back. “What’s going on, you two?”

 

Kat looked to Justin. “She took the comm room systems down.”

 

Ashley looked to Tommy. “I had to. It’s not like I was picking on her.”

 

“Of course not,” Kat said. “You do it to everyone.”

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Justin said as he held his hands up in a defensive manner. “Now we’ve all been on this ship together for a very long time. We have to-”

 

DECA’s voice came over the ship’s speakers. “The Psycho Rangers are attacking the Sharsynper Outpost.”

 

“We’ll settle this when we get back,” Tommy said. “It’s time to take care of business.”

 

***

 

The five Rangers ran along a concrete path at the outpost. Railing to their right separate land from ocean. Gardens of bushes to their left created a buffer between the path and the outpost plaza.

 

Explosions suddenly sparked in front of the Rangers as they stopped in their tracks. A group of Craterites materialized in front of them. Each soldier was armed with a jagged blade.

 

Astro Red dashed forward with a jump kick that slammed against a soldier’s face. He followed by slamming a knifehand chop against the back of a second soldier’s neck. That soldier collapsed to the ground.

 

Astro Black slammed his knee against a Craterite’s gut, and slammed his elbow against the soldier’s back. He looked to his right and hook punched a second soldier across its twisted head.

 

Astro Yellow round kicked a soldier in the chest and axe kicked the Craterite to the  ground.

 

Astro Blue jump kicked a soldier in the face and spun forward, slamming a knifehand strike across the Craterite’s head.

 

The battle moved up the path and onto the outpost’s plaza. Astro Pink crescent kicked a soldier across the head, and reached back, slamming an elbow against a Craterite that had tried to sneak up behind her.

 

Psycho Pink suddenly leapt through the air as if from nowhere and tackled Astro Pink. The Psycho and Ranger went tumbling across the ground.

 

Astro Pink rolled onto her knees as Psycho Pink pounced forward and slammed a kick upside the Ranger’s head. Astro Pink went stumbling backward, but managed to rise back up to her feet.

 

The Psycho pressed on, taking full advantage of her surprise attack. Psycho Pink spun a roundhouse kick that bashed across Astro Pink’s helmet. The Pink Ranger fell onto the ground as Psycho Pink leapt forward, arming her bow, and swinging the weapon down like a saber towards Astro Pink’s helmet.

 

Astro Yellow dashed forward and used her Astro Sling to block Psycho Pink’s blow. The Yellow Ranger spun forward with a reverse sidekick that knocked the psycho backward.

 

Astro Blue ran over to Astro Pink’s side as Astro Yellow aimed her weapon forward. “Astro Sling!” she shouted as she fired darts of yellow energy that exploded against Psycho Pink’s armor.

 

Psycho Pink stood her ground and extended her hand. She fired jagged beams of energy that streaked towards the Rangers. Astro Blue stood in front of his two teammates to protect them as the blast exploded against his chest with a powerful burst of energy and tossed him backward.

 

“Justin!” Astro Pink shouted as she rose to her feet.

 

With Astro Pink distracted, Psycho Pink extended her hand and fired another burst of jagged energy beams. The beams wrapped around Astro Pink and exploded against her armor with a ripping burst of sparks.

 

Astro Yellow leapt forward through the air and swung a knifehand strike down towards Psycho Pink’s head. Psycho Pink used one hand to grab Astro Yellow by the wrist and used her other hand to grab the Yellow Ranger in a choke hold. Psycho Pink slammed a series of roundkicks against Astro Yellow’s side. Each kick sparked against the ranger’s armor on impact.

 

Psycho Pink kicked the feet out from underneath Astro yellow while slamming a knifehand strike against the back of her neck. Astro Yellow fell back-first onto the ground, and Psycho Pink placed a foot on the Ranger’s chest.

 

Astro Blue moved in and swung his tomahawk towards Psycho Pink’s body. Psycho Pink low blocked the blow and slammed a knifehand strike across the Ranger’s helmet, knocking him backward.

 

A young boy dressed in all black ran across the plaza. He was one of the planet’s natives, a ridge running from his forehead, down the back of his head, and down his spine.

 

Psycho Pink extended her hand and fired a jagged burst of energy that exploded around the boy.

 

Astro Yellow rolled out from underneath the Psycho and ran towards the boy’s side to try and help him. The boy vanished and reappeared behind her in the blink of an eye.

 

“What-” she started to say as she turned towards the boy.

 

The child extended his hand and fired a strand of white energy that wrapped around Astro Yellow’s wrists to form a pair of bindings. The boy shimmered as the holo-disguise vanished. It was Psycho Yellow.

 

Psycho Yellow pounced forward and grabbed hold of Astro Yellow. The Rangers struggled, but she could not break free. The two started to sink into the ground through an energy vortex that appeared beneath their feet.

 

“Ashley, no!” Astro Pink shouted as she leapt forward. But Astro Yellow was gone.

 

“You’re next!” Psycho Pink shouted as she ran towards Astro Pink.

 

Astro Blue snapped a front kick that knocked the Psycho away in time for the other two rangers, having finished off the Craterites, to regroup around Astro Pink.

 

“What have you done with Ashley,” Astro Red said as he snapped into a fighting stance.

 

Psycho Pink ignored him and charged forward. She would tear through each Ranger, do everything in her power, to get the Pink Ranger and hear her scream.

 

Astro Red activated his Battleizer and leapt forward through the air. “Riser chop!” he shouted as he swung an energized knifehand down that exploded against Psycho Pink. “Riser punch!” he followed with a crimson energy punch that knocked the Psycho backward, blasting a cloud of sparks upon impact.

 

Psycho Pink rolled to her knees before teleporting away with a ripple through the air.

 

***

 

Psycho Yellow tossed Astro Yellow to the ground of a dimly-lit cave. The bindings emitted a faint signal that made her entire body weak.

 

“You and me…” Psycho Yellow said as she stalked towards her fallen opponent. “Surely you saw this coming.”

 

“Let me go,” Astro Yellow said. “Make it a fair fight?”

 

“Fair? Fight?” Psycho Yellow said sarcastically. “I don’t want a fight. I want to hear you scream. Then I want to watch you die. Slowly…the life draining from your very eyes…”

 

Psycho Yellow reached forward and grabbed her right hand onto Astro Yellow’s helmet. Sparking explosions suddenly struck the Psycho’s side and knocked her backward. Psycho Yellow turned to see Psycho Pink step forward.

 

“Psycho Yellow…” Psycho Pink said as she stalked forward. “I agreed to help you so we could capture Astro Yellow and Astro Pink.”

 

“It’s not my fault you failed…” Psycho Yellow said.

 

Psycho Pink pounced forward and grabbed Psycho Yellow in a choke hold. Psycho Pink followed by slamming a series of roundkicks against her teammates side. Psycho Pink tossed Psycho Yellow aside and moved towards Astro Yellow.

 

The Pink Psycho Ranger lifted Astro Yellow by the neck. “I don’t get my prize, you don’t get yours…” Psycho Pink said as she held the Yellow Ranger close. Astro Yellow struggled but could not break free from the Psycho’s grasp.

 

“My, my,” Psycho Yellow said mockingly. “That’s almost clever…”

 

The Yellow Psycho Ranger extended her hand and blasted jagged bursts of energy. The jagged energy strands exploded against Psycho Pink and Astro Yellow, knocking the two Rangers backward.

 

Astro Yellow took full advantage of the opportunity. She saw and opening in the cave and leapt through it. She tumbled out of the opening and couldn’t see anything but air underneath her.

 

“No!” Psycho Yellow shouted.

 

Psycho Pink breathed a growl. Part of her visor’s left visor had cracked in a web-shaped pattern because of Psycho Yellow’s attack. “Are you satisfied, Yellow? Now we have neither…”

 

***

 

The search was on. The two Psychos spread across the outpost to find Astro Yellow. Most of the outpost’s inhabitants had fled at the first sign of trouble. Spotting the Yellow Ranger should have been easy enough, especially with the bindings over her wrist.

 

Astro Yellow hid at the base of the silo. Psycho Yellow was above and scanning the outpost from a bird‘s-eye view.  

 

Astro Yellow knew she had to make a break for it. But the bindings were wearing her down.

 

The Yellow Ranger tried back tracking. She moved back the way she came. She traveled through a nearby warehouse that was dimly lit with a pale-orange glow. She moved in the shadows, trying to stay out of sight.

 

She didn’t stay hidden for long. A dart of yellow energy exploded against the Ranger and knocked her backward. Psycho Yellow leapt down and landed on the ground below.   

 

The Psycho extended her hand and stalked towards the Ranger. “Did you think you’d be able to get far? Did you think your friends would come to rescue you?”

 

Psycho Pink dashed forward as if from nowhere and became a blur of motion while circling around Psycho Yellow. Explosions sparked across Psycho Yellow’s armor as she was tossed back.

 

Psycho Yellow rose back to her feet as Psycho Pink faced off with her teammates. The Yellow Psycho rolled her hands into fists. “You’ve gotten in my way for the last time.”

 

The two villains charged at each other. Psycho Pink launched a jump kick that Psycho Yellow blocked. Psycho Yellow hook kicked Psycho Pink across the helmet and followed with a roundkick to her teammate’s side.

 

Astro Yellow knew this was going to be her last chance. She noticed a group of barrels off in the distance. They were labeled with symbols she assumed most races associated with the word “flammable.”

 

“This better work,” Astro Yellow said under her breath as she leapt behind the stacked canisters. “Hey losers!”

 

The Psychos stopped their brawl and turned to face the Ranger. Psycho Pink growled with frustration and tossed Psycho Yellow aside. The Pink Psycho extended her hand and charged a crackling burst of energy.

 

“No!” Psycho Yellow shouted, knowing what her counterpart was up to. But it was too late. Psycho Pink fired a jagged energy burst that struck the canisters, causing a massive explosion that tore through the warehouse, sending clouds of fire and smoke everywhere.

 

***

 

The Megaship flew down into the planet’s atmosphere and started scanning the outpost for any sign of Ashley.

 

Tommy paced back and forth in front of the view screen. His arms were crossed behind his back.

 

Kat shook her head as she helped Chris scan the surface. “This is all my fault…”

 

Chris shook his head. “No it isn’t, Kat. This could have happened to any of us.”

 

“But the things I said to her…” Kat said. “If we don’t get her back…”

 

Tommy turned to them. “We will get her back.”

 

Chris’s monitor flashed an alert. “I’m picking up a small explosion at one of the outpost factories.”

 

“Let’s go,” Tommy said, knowing it was Ashley. It had to be her.

 

***

 

Astro Yellow stumbled out of the flaming warehouse and collapsed to the ground. Her bindings were weighing down her every move. She was weak beyond words. She called on will power she didn’t know she had to rise back to her feet.

 

Psycho Pink pounced forward as if from nowhere. The Psycho grabbed Astro Yellow in a chokehold and pushed the Ranger backward, slamming her against a wall before tossing her backward like a rag doll.

 

The Yellow Ranger landed in a grassy clearing within the outpost boundaries. She rolled across the ground and came to a stop, looking up to see Psycho Pink charging towards her.

 

Explosions sparked against Psycho Pink’s armor before she could strike. Astro Pink swooped down on her Cyber Slider and extended her hand towards Astro Yellow. “Ashley!”

 

Astro Yellow reached up and grabbed Astro Pink’s hand. They flew behind the Psycho and flipped to the ground. The other three Rangers regrouped around them.

 

“Astro Tomahawk,” Astro Blue said as he cut Astro Yellow free of her bindings. Astro Yellow felt her strength return once the bindings were off.

 

Psycho Pink stood her ground and glared at the Rangers.

 

Astro Pink stepped forward. “You’re finished, psycho. No one hurts my friends and gets away with it.”

 

“We’ll see,” Psycho Pink said as she extended her hand. An invisible burst of energy exploded against the Rangers’ armor with a burst of sparks.

 

Astro Pink and Astro Yellow ran through the sparks and dashed side-by-side towards the villain. They leapt through the air and attacked. Astro Pink held her hands in an ’x’ knifehand strike that crashed against the psycho’s neck. Astro Yellow brought her right hand down in a knifehand chop that sparked against the Psycho’s armor.

 

Psycho Pink was forced back, but recovered and extended her hand, firing a jagged pulse of energy that exploded against the two Ranger’s armor and knocked them onto the ground.

 

Psycho Pink kept her hand extended as she stalked towards the two rangers. Astro yellow looked up at the villain, noticing the damage to the left side of her visor.

 

“Kat,” Astro Yellow said, “her visor is damaged. It’s her weak point.”

 

Astro Pink nodded. “Right.”

 

Psycho Pink extended her bow and arrow. She snapped off three energy arrows that exploded against the ground as Astro Pink and Astro yellow rolled away from each other for cover.

 

Astro yellow sprang to her feet and leapt through the air, flipping before landing behind Astro Pink. Astro Yellow held back the Psycho’s arm and neck. “Now!”

 

“Capture Sniper!” Astro Pink shouted as she combined her Astro Capture and Astro Sniper. She fired a single dart of pink energy that exploded through the damaged visor of the Psycho, whipping the villain’s body backward.

 

Astro yellow activated her helmet icon and summoned an energy weapon that ran along her arm. “Blade arm!”

 

Psycho Pink stumbled back onto her feet, her hands clutching her faceplate. Astro Yellow leapt forward and swung her blade arm downward. The blade arm ripped diagonally through the Psycho’s armor.

 

Astro Pink and Astro Yellow snapped into victory poses as Psycho Pink’s energy overloaded and exploded.

 

The fallen warrior’s damaged armor cracked with jagged energy and shattered. Psycho Pink’s true monster form was exposed as she grew to giant size. Tentacle whips hung from each of the monster’s fingers. The Psycho’s body was a mass of pink and black bumps.

 

The five Rangers regrouped below as the Psycho leaned down and spat jagged beams of pink energy that exploded against the ground with a massive burst of flame that knocked the Rangers backward.

 

The Rangers rose back to their feet as the smoke around them started to clear.

 

Astro Red activated his communicator. “Mega Voyager, online!”

 

The five Voyager zords streaked down through the planet’s atmosphere. The Rangers used their Cyber Sliders to enter the zords’ cockpits. The five zords reconfigured and joined together to form one, giant robo: The Mega Voyager. The Rangers joined in the Megazord’s cockpit.

 

Mega Voyager moved forward towards the Psycho. The zord’s systems scanned for any weakness to exploit. The scanning results were not promising.

 

The Megazord reached forward with both fists to grab hold of the Psycho. Psycho Pink knocked the zord’s arms away and used its hand whips to thrash the robo across its armor. Explosions sparked against Mega Voyager’s hull as the zord went stumbling backward and slid across the outpost’s ground.

 

Psycho Pink moved forward and started stomping against the zord’s chest. Each stomp sparked across the zord’s armor. Conduits ruptured and exploded within the Megazord’s cockpit.

 

The Mega Winger entered the planet’s atmosphere and opened fire with rapid-volley energy pulses that exploded against the Psycho and knocked her off the Megazord. Psycho Pink went stumbling across the ground.

 

“Mega Winger,” Astro Silver commanded, “rise up!”

 

Mega Winger converted into a battle robo and landed on the ground below.

 

Psycho Pink lashed out with her whips, using them like tentacles to wrap around Mega Winger.

 

Mega Voyager sprang back to its feet and started stomping towards the Psycho to help Astro Silver. The Psycho turned its head towards the Megazord and spat jagged beams of pink energy that exploded against the zord’s chest.

 

“Wing Cannon!” Astro Silver commanded. His zord armed the wing cannons to try and shoot free of the tentacles, but the whips shifted their grasp to the cannon itself.

 

Psycho Pink pulled the cannon into her own hands and aimed forward at the two zords. She opened fire with golden energy pulses that exploded against the two Megazords.

 

“Justin,” Astro Red commanded.

 

“Shield online,” Astro Blue said.

 

Mega Voyager activated a shield in its right hand and stood in front of Mega Winger for protection. The shield protected them from most of the wing cannon’s blasts. 

 

“Ashley,” Astro Red said, “see if you can adjust our hull plating frequency to match the wing cannon.”

 

“I’m on it,” she said.

 

Astro Silver spoke over their comm system. “My hull plating is already calibrated. I’ll move in and hold her steady while you finish her with the Spartan.”

 

Before any of the Rangers could object, Mega Winger stomped forward towards Psycho Pink. She fired pulses with the wing cannon, but the blasts splashed harmlessly across the Mega Winger.

 

The Psycho tossed the weapon aside and lashed out with her tentacles. The tentacles wrapped around the zord. Mega Winger grasped on to the tentacles and held on tight to keep the Psycho from moving.

 

“Now, guys!” Astro Silver shouted.

 

“Mega V-3 missile mode,” Astro Red commanded. “Voyager Spartan!”

 

The missile blasted in a sphere of fiery power towards its target. The blast exploded through Psycho Pink and ripped the villain apart. Her body exploded, her ashes consumed by flames.

 

The Ranger sat back.

 

Astro Blue shook his head. “Do we really have to do this three more times?” 

 

***

   

Trey sat in the Pyramidus control room as Grifalzor stepped in. A descendant of Goldar, Grifalzor wore shining silver armor, lined with gold around the edges. The Titan warrior grinned while handing Trey a data pad. “The Earth Rangers destroyed a second Psycho.”

 

Trey smiled, glad that his old friends were succeeding. “What word from the rest of our allies?”

 

“KO-35 rebels have formed a perimeter around Tark Space. Basf cloak ships are attacking supply routes from the Samarian Planet. The Confederation and Titan battle groups are continuing to hold the fourth quadrant…”

 

Trey’s mind wandered as Grifalzor gave his report. He knew the fleets and soldiers were necessary. He knew allied forces had saved millions of lives, and delayed the destruction of the entire galaxy. But it was only a delay. Zordon was the key.

 

Without Zordon, the galaxy was doomed.

 

“Any word on Divatox?” Trey asked.

 

Grifalzor shook his head. “Nothing but rumor. The Rangers are moving to a system near Onyx to investigate a possible sighting…”

 

Trey nodded. “Tell Kruger to dispatch a battle group to attack Onyx as a diversion. We‘ll try to draw attention away from the Rangers so they can find what they‘re looking for.”

 

***

 

The Rangers were searching for Zordon when the last three Psycho Rangers attacked the nearby world of Settibontala, an odd planet with a feathered people living on the surface and sentient squid-like creatures living in the waters below.

 

The six Rangers arrived in time to save a tribe from the Psychos’ attack. They snapped into fighting stances, each hoping this would be their last fight with the Psycho rangers.

 

“Astro Red!”

 

“Astro Black!”

 

“Astro Blue!”

 

“Astro Silver!”

 

“Astro Yellow!”

 

“Astro Pink!”

 

Together, they shouted: “Digital Task Force, Astro Rangers!”

 

The psychos and Rangers charged towards each other. The opponents slammed against each other with a fierce volley of kicks and punches.

 

Astro Yellow snapped a roundhouse kick that Psycho Yellow ducked under. Psycho Yellow rose from her duck in time to see Astro Silver swing his blade weapon towards her head. Psycho Yellow parried the blow and reached back to slam a sidekick against Astro Yellow’s faceplate. Astro Yellow spun with the blow and slammed a spinning heel kick across her opponent’s helmet.

 

Astro Silver moved in low to sweep the legs out from the Psycho, but Psycho Yellow hopped over his blow. Astro Silver rose and swung his blade towards the Psycho’s head. She blocked. He swung again towards the other side of her head. She blocked. Astro Silver pulled his saber back, slicing the side of the Psycho’s arm before kicking the villain away.

 

Astro Blue swung his tomahawk down towards Psycho Red, but Psycho Red stepped aside and slapped his sword against Astro Blue’s weapon, causing the Ranger to stumble forward from his own momentum. Psycho Blue armed his onyx blade and slashed the sword across Blue Ranger’s back, causing explosions to spark across his armor.

 

Astro Red armed his Drill saber and swung forward with a pair of strikes that Psycho Red blocked. Psycho Red speared his blade forward, but Astro Red used his saber to slap the black sword aside and spun forward with a reverse sidekick that slammed against the Psycho’s chest. Astro Red swung his Drill Saber through an upward diagonal arc that sparked across the Psycho’s chest.

 

Psycho Black swung his staff towards Astro Black’s head. Astro Black used his rod to block the blow, swung his opponent’s weapon aside, and snapped a sidekick against the Psycho’s chest.

 

Psycho Black was forced a few steps back as Astro Pink leapt forward to attack.

 

“Astro Capture!” she shouted as she fired rings of pink energy that exploded against the Psycho. Psycho Yellow was knocked back.

 

The six Rangers regrouped. So did the Psychos. The three psycho Rangers charged forward with their hands extended.

 

“Weapons, guys,” Astro Red said as he stood side-by-side with Astro Black and Astro Silver.

 

Astro Blue, Astro yellow, and Astro Pink leapt off their three teammates’ shoulders and arced forward through the air to attack.

 

“Tomahawk Sniper!” Astro Blue shouted as he fired blue energy lances.

 

“Astro Sling!” Astro Yellow shouted. Her sling fired a volley of yellow energy darts.

 

“Astro Capture!” Astro Pink shouted as she fired rings of pink energy.

 

The combined blasts exploded against the Psychos, ripping across their army and thrashing their body with a fierce cloud of sparks.

 

Astro Red, Astro Black, and Astro Silver leapt off their three teammates shoulders and arced forward through the air to attack.

 

“Screw drill saber!” Astro Red shouted as he spun forward with his saber, lines of red energy circling around him like a tornado.

 

“Rod Breaker!” Astro Black shouted as his weapon energized with purple energy and swung forward.

 

“Blazer Impact!” Astro Silver shouted as he swung his weapon downward in a streak of golden energy.

 

Their attacks ripped through the Psychos and knocked them backward. Their energy overloaded and exploded as their armor shattered, their bodies contorting. They assumed their true monster forms and grew to their giant sizes.

 

Psycho Red’s body looked like deep red flames tinted with black. Psycho Black was a bulky creature of stone. Psycho Yellow appeared almost insect-like, her yellow body covered with black stripes and patches of dark growths.

 

Astro Red activated his communicator. “Mega Voyager, online!”

 

The five Voyager zords streaked down through the planet’s atmosphere. The Rangers used their Cyber Sliders to enter the zords’ cockpits. The five zords reconfigured and joined together to form one, giant robo: The Mega Voyager. The Rangers joined in the Megazord’s cockpit.

 

The three Psychos surrounded the Mega Voyager. Psycho Red grabbed the zord’s left arm and Psycho Yellow grabbed the zord’s right arm. Psycho Black moved forward and started slamming its massive fists against the Megazord. Each blow caused explosions to spark across the zord’s armor upon impact.

 

Astro Silver’s Mega Winger flew down from the skies. The zord fired rapid pulse blasts that exploded against Psycho Black, knocking the villain away from the Megazord.

 

“Mega Winger,” Astro Silver commanded, “rise up!”

 

Astro Red activated his Battleizer. “Delta Mega, install!”

 

The Mega Winger assumed its Megazord formation and stood beside the Mega Voyager. The Delta Mega flew into the atmosphere and transformed into a Megazord, landing beside the other two robos.

 

“Let’s triple team ‘em,” Astro Red said as he lifted his Battleizer. “Gattling cannons, fire!”

 

The Delta Mega opened fire with rapid blasts from its spinning gattling cannons. The blasts exploded across the Psychos with a shower of sparks.

 

“Wing cannon!” Astro Silver commanded. The Mega Winger armed its wing cannon and fired lances of yellow energy that exploded against the Psychos.

 

“Mega V-3 missile mode,” Astro Red commanded. “Voyager Spartan!”

 

The missile blasted in a sphere of fiery power towards its target. The blast exploded against the three Psychos and sent them flying backward, flames and explosions ripping across their bodies.

 

A stone tentacle lashed out from the flames and wrapped around Mega Voyager.

 

“What the-” Astro Red said within the cockpit.

 

Psycho Red burst forward from the smoke and tackled against the Mega Winger, while Psycho Yellow slammed against the Delta Mega. With the two zords distracted, Psycho Black started pulling the Mega Voyager through a distorted energy portal.

 

The tentacles tightened, causing explosions to spark across the Mega Voyager armor. Conduits ruptured within the cockpit as the Rangers were tossed around in their seats.

 

“Weapons and defense systems are offline,” Astro Blue reported.

 

“Our armor is losing integrity,” Astro Yellow reported.

 

The swirling vortex grew closer in the zord’s view port. Psycho Black had almost pulled them in.

 

“We have to abandon the Megazord,” Astro Black said. “We can’t afford to get captured…”

 

Astro Red narrowed his eyes beneath his helmet. How was he supposed to leave the Megazord in the hands of the Psychos? Chris was right, though, Tommy thought. They could not be captured. They had to complete their mission.

 

“Let’s get back to the Megaship,” Astro Red said reluctantly.

 

The Rangers dropped from their cockpit seconds before Mega Voyager and the Psychos vanished.

 

***

 

Astronema stood with Eclipter at her side. The remaining Psychos had stolen the Mega Voyager, dealing the Rangers a near crippling blow. That did not please her as well as the side effects: The battle drained a great amount of energy from Sauron. The Dark Monarch had not even had the will to contact her telepathically recently.

 

“My plan is proceeding well, Eclipter,” Astronema said, her eyes fixed on the forward view screen. “Soon the entire galaxy will belong to me.”

 

“But Astronema,” Eclipter said. “The Rangers are still an active threat.”

 

“Of course,” Astronema said. “And my psychos will destroy them…but not until after they’ve drained every last ounce of Sauron’s power.”

 

***

 

The rangers had only been on the Megaship for an hour when Chris’s monitor started blinking in alarm. “You guys aren’t going to believe this…I found the Mega Voyager.”

 

“Already?” Justin said with disbelief.

 

Chris nodded. “They’re not exactly hiding. They’re in an abandoned system not far from here. They’ve laced the zord with Xionabyte, a mineral that lights up every sensor board nearby.”

 

“Bait,” Cy said.

 

Tommy nodded. “They’re probably expecting us to attack and try to get our ship back.”

 

“Well aren’t we?” Justin asked.

 

“Yes,” Tommy said. “But now how they’re expecting it.”

 

***

 

The Mega Voyager was lying in its five separate zord components along rocky terrain. The three Psycho Rangers stood below. They had repaired their dark armor and helmets to hide their monster forms.

 

The whine of engines cut through the atmosphere. The Psychos looked up to see the Mega Winger and Delta Megaship enter the planet’s atmosphere. The Mega Winger assumed its warrior form and landed. Delta Mega transformed into its zord form and landed next to the Silver Ranger’s mecha. 

 

Psycho Red looked to Psycho Yellow. “Go,” he said.

 

Psycho Yellow ran off to carry out her plan. Psycho Red and Psycho Black shed their armor, revealing their monster forms, and grew to giant size.

 

Astro Silver was in his zord’s cockpit, the Battleizer wrapped around his left wrist. He raised the device closer to his mouthpiece. “Delta Mega, attack Psycho Black.”

 

Mega Winger moved forward towards Psycho Red and slammed a double punch against the villain. Meanwhile, Delta Mega slammed a series of knifehand blows against Psycho Black.

 

On the ground below, The Megatank burst through the surface and skid to a halt. The Rangers leapt out of the vehicle and ran to their individual zords.

 

Astro Red settled into his cockpit and powered up the zord’s systems. “Let’s get these things off the ground and help Zhane…Mega Voyager, online!”

 

The five Voyager zords streaked upwards and flashed with energy. The zords reconfigured and joined together to form one, giant robo: The Mega Voyager. The Rangers joined in the Megazord’s cockpit.

 

“This is it, guys,” Astro Red said. “Let’s finish these psychos off.”

 

Mega Voyager started stomping towards the three Psycho Rangers. The zord suddenly stopped in midstep, its systems whining in protest. The Rangers were jolted within their cockpit. The team tried to make their zord move, but the robo would not obey any of their commands.

 

“What’s going on?” Astro Red said. “Are the systems offline?”

 

“No,” Astro Yellow said. “The systems are fine. We’re just cut off from them.”

 

“Cut off?” Astro Blue said.

 

“The Psychos,” Astro Black said. “They must have sabotaged the Megazord.”

 

“Impossible,” Astro Yellow said. “We checked before getting on board.” 

 

The comm system within the cockpit squealed. Psycho Yellow’s hideous laughter echoed through the speakers. “Welcome on board, Rangers. I hope you enjoy the ride.”

 

The Rangers jumped from their seats. Astro Yellow narrowed her eyes beneath her helmet. “Psycho Yellow…”

 

“What has she done?” Astro Black said.

 

The Psycho’s laughter shook the comm system. “I would have thought it was obvious. The Mega Voyager is under my control. I am in every system. I can manipulate every wire and every relay.”

 

The Mega Voyager lunged forward, nearly knocking the Rangers off of their feet. Mega Voyager slammed a punch against the Delta Mega, the zord’s chest armor sparking upon impact. Mega Voyager turned and slammed a kick that knocked the Mega Winger backward.

 

“Zhane,” Astro Red said through his helmet’s communicator as he tried to steady his console’s controls. “It’s Psycho Yellow. She’s in control of the Mega Voyager.”

 

Astro Silver was rocked in his cockpit as the Mega Voyager slammed another punching combination against the zord. “And here I was wondering if I did something wrong.”

 

Mega Voyager pushed forward with another punch against the Mega Winger, and a kick against the Delta Mega. Mega Winger armed its chest cannons and fired four pulses of energy that drilled against the two zords, causing explosions to spark against their armor.

 

Psycho Red and psycho Black stepped forward and fired beams of energy from their eyes. The energy beams materialized into bindings that wrapped around the zords arms and legs, slamming and trapping the two robos against a nearby mountain.

 

The two Psycho Rangers turned and stalked towards the Mega Voyager. The Rangers could not move their zord, despite their best efforts to break Psycho Yellow’s control.

 

Psycho Red grabbed hold of Mega Voyager’s head and tilted the robo down. The Rangers saw Psycho Red’s glare fill the forward viewport. “You’re in there, Astro Red…”

 

“You always were bright,” Astro Red said sarcastically.

 

Psycho Red howled with rage, his hands nearly crushing the Mega Voyager. His anger boiled within his body. Astro Red had to die. Psycho Red had to run his onyx blade through the Red Ranger’s heart. It had to end. End.

 

Psycho Red flashed with crimson energy and returned to his humanoid size. His black and red armor returned to his body. Psycho Red reached up and fired a red energy lasso that entered the Mega Voyager’s cockpit. The lasso wrapped around Astro Red and pulled him out of the zord.

 

Astro Red stumbled through the air and crashed on the ground below near a small creek. Astro Red rose to his knees just as Psycho Red pounced forward with a jump kick that sparked across the Red Ranger’s armor on impact.

 

Astro Red countered with a left roundkick that slammed against Psycho Red’s side, and followed with a right roundkick aimed high, but Psycho Red blocked the blow and stepped forward, slamming his hand against the Ranger’s chest like a spear and a knifehand strike against the back of Astro Red’s neck.

 

Astro Red stumbled forward as Psycho Red pressed on his attack. The Psycho slammed a powerful roundhouse kick that slashed across Astro Red’s chest armor and whipped the Ranger’s body backward.

 

Astro Red slammed onto the ground. Psycho Red armed his onyx blade. Victory was almost his! He would kill the Red Ranger and smear the human’s blood across his armor as a sign.

 

Astro Red rose back to his feet as Psycho Red charged forward. Psycho Red thrashed horizontally across Astro Red’s chest while dashing past the Ranger. The villain turned and swung his blade downward, the blade sparking across the Ranger’s armor on impact.   

 

Psycho Red thrust his saber forward like spear, but Astro Red flipped forward through the air, passing over the Psycho.

 

“Drill saber!” Astro Red commanded as he landed and turned to face his opponent.

 

Psycho Red charged forward with a series of swings and thrust that Astro Red parried, using his screw-shaped blade to slap the onyx saber aside. Astro Red struck back with a horizontal blow and Psycho Red did the same. The two opponents passed each other while slashing each others’ armor with a shower of sparks.

 

Psycho Red turned and slashed the Red Ranger across the chest with an ‘x’ pattern. The villain kept chopping. Astro Red was a human, and humans grew tired, Psycho Red knew. It was only a matter of time. All psycho Red had to do was swing hard enough, fast enough, and Astro Red would be dead.

 

Psycho Red swung upward in a diagonal blow that slashed across Astro Red. Astro Red was forced backward as Psycho Red attacked with another series of strikes. Astro Red used his saber to parry the first two blow, but a third struck down on his collar bone and a fourth speared against his chest, cracking a rib.

 

Psycho Red was pushed backward and landed in the nearby shallow stream. He rose to his knees and extended his Drill Saber. The weapon channeled a beam of crimson energy towards Psycho Red. Psycho Red used his black blade to deflect the energy blast back at Astro Red. The beam exploded against Astro Red’s chest and knocked him backward.

 

“Yes!” Psycho Red shouted. “Tell me I am superior! Tell me, before I finish you!”

 

Astro Red rose back to his feet and shook his head as he stepped back onto the shore. “Psycho…”

 

Psycho Red speared his sword against the ground. The blade emitted an invisible energy wave that tore forward through the ground and exploded beneath Astro Red’s feet, causing explosions to rip across the Ranger’s armor.

 

Astro Red fell onto his back. Psycho Red charged forward, his saber aimed at the fallen Ranger’s throat. Astro Red drew his Astro Sniper and fired darts of blue energy that exploded against Psycho Red’s armor and knocked him backward.

 

A whine above cut through the air while entering the atmosphere. Astro Red looked up to see the Astro Megazord thrust towards the surface with its shield held forward.

 

Astro Red sprang to his feet. “Alright, Cy,” he said under his breath as he ran towards the zord. He had to help free his friends. His vendetta with Psycho Red could wait. He rode his Cyber Slider and entered the Megazord.

 

Cy sat at the forward station as Astro Red slipped into his seat. “Thanks for the lift, Cy…”

 

Psycho Red howled with anger. He shattered his armor and grew to his giant monster form. The other two Psychos regrouped around him.

 

Cy turned to face Astro Red. “DECA made a program that should get rid of Psycho Yellow…but you’ll have to channel the program through the Astro Megazord saber.”

 

Astro Red nodded. That meant he would have to attack the Mega Voyager and his friends. It was not something he was happy about. “Download…Astro Megazord saber!”

 

The Galaxy Mega downloaded its saber and stood in a fighting stance in front of the Mega Voyager. Psycho Yellow’s voice hissed over to him. “Red Ranger…if you destroy me, you destroy them. The Rangers are trapped in the cockpit.”

 

Astro Red moved his controls forward, signaling Galaxy Mega to chop its saber downward. Mega Voyager parried the blow, but the Astro Megazord swung its saber around for another strike. The blade sparked against Mega Voyager’s chest upon impact.

 

Mega Voyager was forced a few steps back as the Galaxy Mega moved forward and chopped its blade against the zord’s neck. Golden energy crackled along the blade and enveloped the Mega Voyager with jagged streams of power. The jagged energy beams exploded against the zord’s armor and penetrated its hull.

 

Psycho Red stepped forward to stop the Galaxy Mega. The villain extended his hand and launched a fiery blast that exploded against the Astro Megazord.

 

***

 

Astronema kneeled in the holographic communication chamber in her dark Fortress. Sauron wanted to speak with her. The chamber activated. A holographic image of Eltar’s war-torn surface appeared and zoomed forward towards an onyx palace of stone. The fiery eye of Sauron was on top of the spire.

 

The eye of Sauron flashed with rage, his thoughts burning into Astronema’s mind. Sauron was in pain. His energy was being drained. He wanted it stopped. He would not tolerate failure.

 

The holographic transmission ended.

 

Astronema tightened her grip on her staff as she rose to her feet.. Her plan was moving too slowly. The Psychos had to attack with all their fervor. The battle had to be powerful enough to wipe out the Rangers and drain all of Sauron’s energy at the same time. It was the only way.

 

She pressed a control on her staff. The staff emitted a broadcast that would activate the beat-type genes in the Psycho Rangers and bring out blood-lust qualities unlike any that ever existed in any race.

 

***

 

Psycho Red howled with rage, his conscious failing him. Destruction. All he wanted was utter annihilation. He sprang forward and thrashed his claws against the Mega Voyager. The Galaxy Mega’s program would have killed Psycho Yellow, but Astronema did not want her dead.

 

Psycho Red kicked the zord and slammed a fire pulse at point-blank range. The blast rocked Mega Voyager backward as Psycho Yellow spilled out from the zord, her body rematerializing as she crashed to the surface.

 

Psycho Yellow’s body started convulsing as power and strength welled up inside her. She shattered her armor, grew giant, and joined her two teammates.

 

The Mega Voyager was back under the Rangers’ control. The two Megazords regrouped and attacked.

 

“Beam Cannon!” Astro Red commanded as the Astro Megazord armed its rifle.

 

“Chest cannons!” Astro Yellow commanded.

 

Galaxy Mega fired a piercing lance of yellow energy that exploded against Psycho Red, knocking the villain backward. Mega Voyager’s chest cannons fired spears of fiery energy that exploded against Psycho Black and Psycho Yellow.

 

“Ashley,” Astro Red said as he opened up a comm line. “We have to get the Mega Winger and Delta Mega free. Go for Zhane. I’ll take the Delta Mega.”

 

The Mega Voyager ripped the bindings from the Mega Winger. Astro Megazord used its saber to cut the Delta Mega free. The Psychos lunged forward and attacked the four zords. 

 

Psycho Black slammed a punch against Mega Winger and leaned back to slam its rocky head against the Delta Mega before the black zord could attack. Mega Winger struck back with a kick that slammed against the Psycho’s side.

 

Psycho Yellow thrashed her claws across Galaxy Mega’s armor. The Astro Megazord retaliated by opening fire with its head vulcans. Rapid-fire shots exploded against Psycho Yellow and knocked her backward.

 

Psycho Red slammed a kick against Mega Voyager, knocking the zord backward. The Mega Voyager slammed a fist against the villain, then kicked out the Psycho’s feet while pushing the Psycho forward.

 

Psycho Red went stumbling across the ground and rose to his feet as the other two Psychos regrouped at his sides. Energy flared between them, ripping apart the ground by simply powering up. They launched a blinding blast of twisting white-hot and crimson energy that tumbled forward.

 

Their energy blast slammed against all four zords and consumed them, causing major explosions to rip through and puncture the zords’ armor. The zords went skidding backwards across the barren and mountainous surface. The Rangers were rocked in their cockpits as power conduits exploded from energy overloads and surges.

 

“We can’t take another shot like that,” Astro Yellow said.

 

“We have to finish off the Psychos with a single shot,” Astro Red said.

 

“How?” Astro Blue asked.

 

“The Voyager Spartan. “Ashley…can we channel all our reserves into the Spartan? The power from each zord?”

 

“Yes,” she answered. “But I can’t guarantee which zords will survive…”

 

“I’ll combine the Galaxy Mega and Delta Mega,” Astro Red said. “Lay down covering fire for me…Astro DeltaMegazord, online!”

 

The Delta Mega separated and formed over the Galaxy Mega, locking into place like a bulky suit of armor. The two zords fused together and formed the Astro DeltaMegazord.

 

Mega Voyager armed the Mega V-3 and aimed forward as Mega Winger and Astro DeltaMegazord placed iron hands on Mega Voyager’s shoulders. The two zords dumped their energy reserves into Mega Voyager and channeled those reserves into the V-3 missile. Explosions blasted across the three zords as energy radiated from their hulls.

 

The Spartan fired a massive, twirling ball of crimson energy that flashed with deep blue and white-hot power. The sphere shot forward as the Psycho’s emitted another shockwave. The two blasts exploded against each other and caused an explosion that ripped across several square miles, kicking up dirt and causing wind to blow debris in every direction.

 

When the smoke cleared, only the Mega Voyager stood.

 

The Psychos were vaporized. The Astro DeltaMegazord was critically damaged. Mega Winger was damaged as well on about half a mile away from the Mega Voyager.

 

***

 

A smuggler group was helping the Megaship with repairs. It had taken two days for the rangers to get the vessel space worthy.

 

Tommy stood on the main bridge. Chris and Cy were at their stations while the others tended to duties elsewhere on the ship.

 

“How long until the Mega Voyager is back online?” Tommy asked.

 

“Too long,” Cy said.

 

Tommy sighed with frustration and shook his head. “This is one of the worst victories ever.”

 

***

 

Astronema stared out the viewport The Psychos were gone. The Rangers and Sauron were alive. She would had been fuming with rage. But she had a back up plan.

 

“Eclipter…” she said. “Prepare the Secret City.”

 

To be continued…Chapter Twenty-four