Rangers in Space: Chapter Twenty-six

Countdown to Destruction: Five

THE GALAXY

 

The skies over Fray’loth erupted into flames as Machine gear ships pounded away at the surface with massive beam cannons. Their crab mecha tore through the skies and unloaded missile payloads that exploded against the surface with violent force.

 

Massive Fray’loth Talvoth-class Warbirds moved into position to intercept the machines. The Fray’loth ships returned fire with a volley of plasma disrupters and particle beam cannons. Several of the gear ships were ripped apart and exploded, opening a hole in the enemy’s advancing lines.

 

Gaps in the Machine’s attack formation were quickly filled by Kyrana Bird of Prey Assault Raiders. Each raider was bristling with high-speed pulse cannons. The pulse cannons pounded against the Fray’loth battle cruisers’ shields, weakening them while the crab mecha moved in and tore through the vessels’ armor plating.

 

The lead Fray’loth cruiser exploded, and fiery debris showered down to the surface, shattering through buildings and ripping through homes before exploding against the surface.

 

Gear ships unloaded countless Cogs onto the surface. The iron warriors spread through the streets and opened fire with optic blast bursts that ripped through anything that moved.

 

***

 

A Night Sister in armor of black scales stood on the rim of a crater looking down at the Kilwan mage academy. She extended her hands towards the air and called upon a vortex of swirling dark clouds.

 

Purple lightning streaked from the clouds and exploded against the academy walls. The walls were pulverized and debris spread everywhere as the Night Sisters below rushed towards the compound. Each witch carried staffs etched with magick.

 

Kilwan’s mages stepped forth to defend themselves with energy barriers and offensive bursts of fire and electricity. The Night Sisters deflected the attacks with their staffs and hurled bolts of black flame towards the mages. The flames exploded among the mages, incinerating some and severely burning others. The stank of burnt flesh quickly drifted through the air while the Night Sisters pressed forward.

 

***

 

The black-and-golden armored Triforian cruisers were like sitting ducks to the highly maneuverable beetle-like Vongnar assault ships.

 

The Vongnar ships opened fire with darts of energy that exploded against several Triforian ships. Triforian cruisers fought back with golden energy lances, but the Vongnar cruisers were small and difficult to hit.

 

Transports from the Jolna Compact broke through the Triforian lines with the aide of the Vongnar and landed in the heavily populated city below. The transports' boarding ramp descended and unloaded a countless number of spider-like soldiers from the Ravin’lah cluster. The creatures were dressed only in rags and each had six arms and six compound eyes. Their bodies were bristling with small needle-like spikes with orange, yellow, and red tints.

 

The creatures covered the streets like a dark sheet, spreading destruction and consuming everything in their path. Golden armored Triforians opened fire with pulse rifles and other weapons to try and hold back the spider soldiers. Their efforts failed.

 

***

 

THE MEGASHIP

 

Astro Silver shot through space on his Cyber Slider, leaning forward to increase speed as a group of Sting Wingers closed in on the Ranger. The creatures extended their claws and fired pulses of jade energy that exploded against Astro Silver’s back, knocking him off course and off balance.

 

Astro Silver went tumbling through space, trying to blast the Sting Wingers away. He fired golden energy darts with his blaster, but each blast missed.

 

The Ranger fell from his slider and started stumbling through the vacuum of space. He would have lost hope, if not for the sight of the Megaship. The vessel rose up behind the two creatures and locked weapons on target.

 

On the Megaship’s bridge, Tommy stared ahead at the viewport. “Fire.”

 

Justin triggered the Megalasers. Twin beams of blue energy burst from the Megaship and incinerated the Sting Wingers with bursts of flame.

 

Chris checked his readings. “That was it. There was only two of them.”

 

“Bring Zhane on board,” Tommy said. “Everything’s going to hell. Let’s see if he knows why.”

 

***

 

Zhane was on board the ship in less than a minute. Tommy and the silver-haired Kerovian walked from the docking port on their way to the main bridge.

 

“The KO-35 mecha corps was taken completely off guard,” Zhane said. “They lost more than half their forces.”

 

“It’s not just the KO-35 rebels,” Tommy said. “Sauron’s forces are attacking almost everywhere. Our entire communications network is crippled…something has to have happened. There’s no way they could have mobilized this quickly.”

 

They entered the bridge. Kat turned to them immediately and went straight to business. They had no time to greet Zhane.

 

“Phantom Ranger managed to send a comm burst,” she reported.

 

Chris downloaded the data to his star charts. “The Kyrana and Machine Remnant are taking Aquitar and Frayloth, Night Sisters are attacking Kilwan, Divatox is on Avalon, mixed groups are attacking Titan, the Rigel Expanse, Coalition, Confederation, and Triforia. More than 200 other systems are under attack...that we know of.”

 

Justin’s monitor beeped. “Things just got more complicated. 2,000 Velocifighters and five Kilrathi battle cruisers just jumped into hyper space. Towards Earth.”

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “Set a course. Maximum Hyper Rush.”

 

***

 

RIGEL EXPANSE

 

Macus and his men took defensive positions near the station’s docking port. The white-faced commandos, brown hair with white stripes, aimed their blasters at the docking port door.

 

“Open fire as soon as those doors open,” Macus ordered his men. “We will not let this station fall.”

 

The station was one of the last military bases in the expanse.

 

The docking port doors started to spark as a plasma torch started sawing through the steel. Macus and his men raised their weapons, ready to fire.

 

The door suddenly exploded open. Macus and his men opened fire with lances of red energy. The blasts slammed against the incoming soldiers. The villains were Zentron warriors, clone soldiers covered in dull gray ridged armor plating and helmets. They had slim blood-red visors. Curved saw blades ran along their forearms, and they carried small pulse rifles or staffs topped with anchor-shaped blades.

 

The Rigelian’s energy blasts splashed harmlessly against the Zentron’s armor.

 

“No energy weapons,” Macus shouted to his troops. “Arm your Vi-blades.”

 

Each commando armed a pair of foot-long blades, and each blade was surrounded by a sonic field. The troops charged forward and started thrashing through the Zentron, stabbing and cutting across their armor.

 

Macus took the point. He spun forward while cutting through a soldier’s throat with one blade, and jammed his second knife through a villain’s chest. He followed by slamming a spinning heel kick against another Zentron’s head.

 

The Zentron kept pouring forward into the base, despite how hard the Rigel troops fought. Bones snapped and broke. Flesh ripped beneath blades. But the Zentron kept calling.

 

“Fall back!” Macus ordered.

 

One of the Zentron’s blades tore through Macus’s shoulder. He winced in pain, but speared his blade into a villain’s faceplate.

 

The Rigelians fell back while firing pulses of crimson energy to distract the advancing soldiers. The troops moved back far enough for emergency bulkheads slammed into place.

 

“Move back to Point Six,” he said. “Order all soldiers to arm shrapnel grenades.”

 

The space station rocked from an outside explosion. Macus activated his wrist communicator. “What’s going on?”

 

“Another ship latched onto the top of the station,” a voice answered.

 

“Order Beta and Gamma teams to suit up and go EV,” Macus said.  “Have them take spatial charges. Let’s blow that ship off our hull.”

 

***

 

KILWAN

 

Kerice stood on the castle wall and narrowed his crystal-blue eyes at the approaching Night Sisters. The Eltarian mage ran his hands through his tattered blonde hair.

 

Nearby, allied archers shot arrows laced with magick and combat mages hurled fire bolts towards the approaching Night Sisters. The villains erected force barriers that blocked the attacks.

 

One of the Night Sisters extended her hand towards the sky and fired a black bolt of lightning. Dark cloud swirled ahead and a storm suddenly cut through the atmosphere. Black lightning exploded against the mage castle, sending rubble and stone toppling everywhere.

 

Kerice slipped from the castle wall and started plummeting towards the ground below as the earth turned into black flames.

 

***

 

THE MEGASHIP

 

The bridge was dead quiet. The rangers and Cy manned their stations. Long range sensors were useless. Communications were impossible. Sauron had managed to isolate everyone but his own forces. And the rangers were not sure how.

 

The Megaship was traveling the Suter route, swinging around the edge of the galaxy towards Earth. The ship’s engines suddenly squealed in protest as the ship dropped out of hyperspace.

 

Chris called out from his station. “We’ve hit an interdiction field.”

 

Justin’s monitor beeped. “Six sphere ships are off our starboard bow.”

 

“Polarize the hull plating,” Tommy commanded, wishing ablative armor was repaired. “Megalasers to full power. Attack pattern break-7.”

 

Zhane stepped off the bridge.

 

The sphere ships belonged to the Adowee, a superstitious race of beings made out of gas. The ships themselves were armed with dozens of particle beams.

 

The Megaship rolled while firing its afterburners and charging towards the center of the sphere ship formation. The spheres opened fire with red energy beams.

 

Cy dove the Megaship through a tight drop, missing most of the beams, but some blasts exploded against the Megaship’s hull. Justin trigged the dorsal Megalasers and opened fire with blue energy darts that exploded against the sphere ships.

 

Two sphere ships flew down to block the Megaship’s heading, while two closed in behind the Megaship. The others blasted down from above, particle beam cannons firing. Blasts of energy exploded against the Megaship hull, knocking the rangers around on the bridge.

 

Lances of blue energy illuminated space as Justin returned fire, cannons blazing in every direction.

 

Tommy stared out the forward viewport at the two spheres ahead. “Now!”

 

The Megaship bow opened and the Megashuttle shot out with Zhane at the helm. The shuttle shot forward with its vulcan-cannons firing as the Megaship arced backwards towards the other ships. The spheres were caught off guard.

 

Energy darts sprayed rapidly from the shuttle, exploding against the lead sphere ships.

 

The Megaship passed between the rear ships, opened fire with a full Megalaser spread that started to rip their hulls apart. The interdictor drive was damaged in the process.

 

The shuttle and Megaship arced around in a figure eight maneuver and regrouped, firing another salvo to clear off the sphere ships and blasting back into hyperspace.

 

***

 

TITAN

 

Flames danced into the night sky on the Simian world. The once great planet of warriors was in ruins. The battle was already over, but evil soldiers were patrolling the streets for left over victims. Colossal statues had toppled. Buildings had broken.

 

The Emperor sat on his throne, the old creature holding his ground and waiting for death to come for him. He did not plan to go without a fight, though he could barely move.

 

Several bounty hunters entered the throne room. Each hunter was armed with various jagged blades, poorly assembled suits of dull armor, and ragged scarves.

 

“There’s the old man,” one of the hunters hissed as he armed a fist blade on each hand. “He’s mine.”

 

A silver fire ball flew out of nowhere and slammed against the hunter’s chest. The villain’s armor incinerated and the hunter’s body scorched as he was tossed backward.

 

Grifalzor stepped forward from the rear of the throne room. A descendant of Goldar, Grifalzor wore shining silver armor, lined with gold around the edges. He carried two slender longknives as weapons.

 

“Touch the Emperor and you will die!” Grifalzor shouted. “On second thought…you will die anyway!”

 

Grifalzor used his wings to pounce forward and swung his blades in an outward ‘x’ pattern. The knives cut through three soldiers, tearing through their armor and ripping through their bloody flesh.

 

The Titan turned to his left and slammed a knife handle against a soldier’s faceplate. He turned and chopped his other blade down, cutting off the soldier’s head.

 

***

 

TRIFORIA

 

Prince Trey dashed forward through the streets of his homeworld. He could see the advancing swarm of spider soldiers from the Ravin’lah cluster ahead.

 

The prince armed his Zeo braces. “Ultra Transform!”

 

Golden energy shimmered around the prince as he morphed into his Ranger form. He placed his hand in front of his visor and summoned his Power Staff with a burst of energy.

 

A trio of the large spiders pounced towards him. Zeo Gold spun horizontally, thrashed the legs out from a creature with the end of his staff, and slammed the staff through the second spider’s head. He pulled the staff from the second spider’s head and clubbed the weapon across the third spider’s skull. The creature’s skull shattered on impact.

 

Countless spiders swarmed forward. He rolled beneath one of the creature’s bellies and stabbed upward, puncturing its guts. Zeo Gold rolled back to his feet and sliced the legs out from another arachnid. The swarm continued to advance around him. He couldn’t slow them down. They poured past him and swept through the streets.

 

“It’s time for a gold rush!” he shouted as he raised his staff into the air. “Victory Flash!”

 

He fired a volley of golden energy bursts that exploded against a group of spiders, incinerating and scorching some of the arachnids. But not enough. Not nearly enough.

 

***

 

KATANA BATTLE GROUP

 

The K-9 being called Kruger stood on the bride of his ship, attack cruisers and fighters visible through the wide viewport in front of him. His fleet was a mix of Triforian, Fray’loth, and Titan capital ships. Allied smugglers, mercenaries, and pirates also served alongside the fleet.

 

The Katana Battle Group formed minutes after the communication grid collapsed. Katana was a contingency plan put into place months ago. A last-ditch effort to invade the Eltarian system and kill Sauron.

 

Kruger looked down to the technician pit on the bridge. “Magnify viewer.”

 

An image of Eltar grew larger on the viewport. The once great planet was surrounded by large vessels that appeared as solid rock. Sauron had used the planet itself as a weapon, carving ships and fighters out from the crust and inner core.

 

Various races loyal to Sauron lent their own support to the world-born fleet. Sphere ships formed around Kilrathi battle cruisers. A race called the Qatra contributed its hammer-shaped frigates. The Wyrun, Red Star, and countless other pirates and criminals lent their freighters and cruisers.

 

Squadrons of Velocifighters fleshed out the enemy ranks.

 

Kruger opened up a comm line with his fellow fleet commander, the white-furred Admiral Trefli’ah from Fray’loth. Trefli’ah had been a key player in the Rigel Campaign. The Admiral commanded the fleet beta attack wing, and Kruger commanded the alpha wing.

 

“Admiral,” Kruger said. “Our ships are in position.”

 

Within his own ship, the furred admiral nodded. He studied the enemy’s layout, perplexed by the ships of rock. “Very well. Begin the attack.”

 

Kruger nodded. “Order dreadnaughts into position. Full Quantum missile barrage. Target their lead ships and fire.”

 

The massive Titan cruisers loomed forward, forming the spear of the allied fleet. Doomed missile packages slid down on the ventral side of the ships’ bows. Without warning, the ships opened fire with a Quantum missile bombardment that streaked through space likes blue comets.      

 

The missiles slammed against a group of Red Star and Kilrathi cruisers. Their armor buckled from the blasts as explosions ripped across the hull. Velocifighters hit their after burners and charged forward to attack the allied fleet. Pieces of wedge-shaped rock broke off from Sauron’s capital ships and formed up alongside the Velocifighters.

 

One of the weapons officers looked to Kruger. “We have impact. The enemy fleet is launching fighters.”

 

The Velocifighters and rock ships streaked through space towards the allies.

 

“Order dreadnaughts to lay down covering fire for our fighter transports,” Kruger ordered. “Escort ships, bring fighter wings one and five into position. Launch wings two and seven, and have them fall back into defensive positions.”

 

The dreadnaughts armed rotating missile packages at the ventral, port, and starboard sides of their bows. Particle beam cannons snapped into position in the bow’s dorsal side.

 

The launchers started spinning, tossing orange-tinted photon missiles through space towards the enemy fleet. Particle beam cannons fired beams of orange energy. The missiles exploded in the midst of the enemy fighter wing, sending shrapnel and fire tearing through the stone fighters.

 

A group of freighters flew from the allied fleet, escorting Rigel V-Fighters towards the enemy.

 

***

 

KILWAN

 

The young Night Sister Synthi, the same who had taken the rangers prisoner a year ago before they became Astro Rangers, held a black staff down towards Kerice’s neck.

 

She smiled like a hunter at the mage. “My, my…aren’t you a yummy little thing.”

 

Kerice was groggy, still injured from the fall. But not that injured. He narrowed his eyes and fired a telekinetic pulse that blasted the Night Sister backward.

 

Kerice shook his head as the last of his dizziness faded. He rose back to his feet. And searched through his memory for an appropriate spell.

 

Before he could utter a word, Synthi extended a hand and fired a jagged purple energy bolt that slammed against Kerice. The mage clenched his jaw with pain as the blast tossed him backward.

 

Kerice landed on his back, his gaze drifting up to the smoke across the sky. His academy was burning. He heard the sounds of fiery explosions. The crack of lightning. The blast of energy shields.

 

Synthi walked over to him, a mocking grin on her face. “This is my first time away from home…please make it more enjoyable…in any way you see fit…”

 

Kerice narrowed his brow as he rose to his feet. “Are you propositioning me?”

 

Synthi smiled. “The battle is won. I could spare 20 minutes or so…”

 

Kerice shot to his feet and extended his hand, firing another telekinetic pulse. Synthi extended her staff and deflected the pulse, crumbling a nearby rock column in the process.

 

***

 

EARTH

 

Astronema’s grunts set down on Earth. Quantrons and Craterites spread through the streets as Velocifighters covered the skies, descending on the most densely populated cities on the planet.

 

***

 

A white blur of motion jumped across the rooftops of Tokyo. The figure landed in the center of a plaza, amidst thousands of Craterites.

 

Ninjawhite, Trini,  drew her sword. She had thought her Ranger days were over. She was studying with her father, inspiring to be an agent. Life, apparently, had other plans for her.

 

“Hidden-style ku cut!” Ninjawhite shouted. Her energized saber curved through four arcs, thrashing through a group of purple soldiers with a series of sparks an explosions.

 

The soldiers closed in on the Ninja Ranger with jagged sabers. Ninjawhite looked backward and snapped a hook kick across a soldiers face. She turned to her left and brought her sword razing through another Craterite’s chest.

 

The soldiers pushed forward towards Ninja White. They recognized her as their most significant threat.

 

Ninjawhite leapt up and extended her hands. “Ninpo shard attack!”

 

A cloud of energy diamonds formed in front of her. The diamonds shot forward without warning, cutting through several dozen of the soldiers.

 

She landed, and one of the Craterites thrashed her with its jagged saber. Her body whipped around and another soldier slashed across the Ranger’s armor.

 

***

 

Luke and his friends were working part time at the Pegasus auto garage in Angel Grove, making some extra money for movies and beer.

 

The earth beneath their feet suddenly shook as large explosions sounded from outside.

 

Luke and his friends left the garage to see the streets in flames. Fighters overhead streaked by the city and blasted energy bolts of destruction that crashed through buildings.

 

“What the hell is going on?” Tyler said.

 

Luke narrowed his eyes and looked to his teammates. He pulled out his Turbo key and snapped it upright. The others nodded and did the same. They stood firm towards the hundreds of Quantrons and Craterites crashing through the streets in a wave of destruction.

 

“Shift into Turbo! Axel Power!” they shouted as they inserted their keys and morphed into their Ranger forms. The Turbo Rangers armed their Vi-blades and rushed forward into battle.

 

Red Racer dashed forward through the soldiers, swinging his blade left and right as he hacked his way through enemy lines.

 

Blue Racer somersaulted through the air and slammed his feet against a Craterite. He leaned down and punched the grunt across the face.

 

Green Racer parried a blow and swung horizontally across a grunt’s chest. The Craterite fell backward as explosions ripped across its body.

 

“Auto Blasters!” Turbo Pink and Turbo Yellow shouted. They stood back-to-back and fired green energy lances that exploded against a group of soldiers.

 

The Quantrons moved in like an unstoppable wall, slamming against the five Rangers and slicing them with crescent-shaped blades.

 

***

 

A squadron of Velocifighters descended towards Miami. Phoenix Ranger, Kimberly, stood on the rooftops of the city and watched through her visor as the fighters descended.

 

The Ranger extended her hands towards the approaching ships. “Tempest winds!”

 

The resulting wind wave slammed against the Velocifighters, knocking them from the air in spheres of explosions. Phoenix Ranger knew she couldn’t stop each of the fighters, but that wasn’t going to stop her from trying.

 

***

 

Ryouma and the other five rangers from his team rode on stampeding horses towards the city of Stone Canyon, leaving the boundaries of the Ginga Forest behind.

 

The horses burst into the city, leading the rangers through a charge. They drew their Seijuukin, thrashing at Craterites from their horses.

 

They dismounted at a plaza and readied their Galaxy braces.

 

“Galaxy transform!” the rangers shouted while slapping their braces. “Ha!”

 

Energy swirled around the five rangers as they morphed into their armor.

 

Hyuuga lifted his sword into the air and shouted. “Knight rebirth!” Green energy twirled around him as he morphed into the black armor of KuroKishi.

 

Galaxy Red pounced forward with his Kiba Claw and Seijuukin. He swung both blades outward in an ‘x’ pattern, ripping open a Craterite. He landed and chopped his sword down, knocking a soldier’s blade away before bringing his dagger against the back of the soldier’s neck.

 

Galaxy Green gilded forward with his sword backwards, handle up and blade down, and slashed across a soldier’s chest. He landed in a crouched position, pushed off the ground, and flipped forward through the air while slamming a double kick against another Craterite.

 

Galaxy Blue snapped a Craterite’s neck and backfisted a second soldier out of his way. A third Craterite swung its jagged blade down towards the Blue Ranger’s head. Galaxy Blue drew his Seijuukin and parried the blow while thrashing the soldier across the chest. 

 

Galaxy Pink and Galaxy Yellow both charged forward on all fours, dragging Craterites across the ground. They slammed the Craterites against each other and rolled across the ground.

 

KuroKishi leapt forward, somersaulting through the air as his blade energized with onyx power, and swung the sword downward through a powerful diagonal arc. The blade streaked with power while thrashing across three of the soldiers.

 

A group of countless Quantrons teleported to the surface to reinforce the Craterites. The Quantrons took the Rangers off guard and slammed against them, blades twirling and thrashing across armor.

 

***

 

Jason, Rocky, and Adam stood back-to-back as Craterites approached from all sides. The three teens had been on campus at Angel Grove University when the attack happened. 

 

“Let’s bag ‘em,” Jason said as he pulled out his morpher. Rocky and Adam readied their Aura braces.

 

“Shogun transform!” Jason shouted. “Ninja power!” Energy circled around him like the wind as he morphed into his Ninjared armor.

 

“Chakra ignite!” Rocky and Adam shouted. “Aura Power!” Energy shimmered around them in blue and green light as they morphed into the Tenma Ranger and Lion Ranger.

 

Ninjared swung upward with a diagonal strike that thrashed through a Craterite. He snapped forward with a spinning hook kick that slammed across a second soldier’s head. More of the soldier surrounded him. He swung left and right with his saber whirling, striking through any opponent within arm’s reach.

 

Tenma Ranger tornado kicked a Craterite to the ground. He armed his nunchuku and swung the weapons forward, bashing across a second soldier’s head. He inner-crescent kicked that soldier down.

 

Lion Ranger speared his staff against a Craterite, and slammed the edge of the weapon against the back of the soldier’s head. He swung the staff backward, twirling the weapon while smashing across another soldier’s head.

 

For every soldier they knocked down, ten more took its place. The Craterites pushed forward, surrounding the three Rangers.

 

***

 

The Megaship speared into real space around Earth’s orbit. Zhane’s Mega Winger flew in from a perpendicular vector. A cloud of Velocifighters blocked their path. The rangers saw several explosions erupt on Earth’s surface.

 

“Polarize the hull plating,” Tommy said. “Auxiliary power to Megalasers. Take us home…”

 

The Megaship charged forward towards the hundreds of fighters in the distance.

 

Chris called up a sensor report. “Quantrons are on ground in the United States, Europe, Japan, and China. All active Ranger teams and heroes seem to be responding.”

 

“Head for Angel Grove,” Tommy said as the Velocifighters grew larger on the viewscreen.

 

Justin’s monitor started to blink. “We’re entering firing range.”

 

“Everyone hold on to something,” Tommy said.

 

The forward view screen flashing with blinding red energy as nearly a hundred fighters opened fire at once. Blasts slammed against the hull as the Megaship rolled and maneuvered, trying to avoid as may blasts as possible. The Megalasers returned fire with a full salvo that sprayed countless energy darts into the fighter cloud.

 

The blue energy beams ripped through cockpits, tore apart wings, and incinerated pilots. The Megaship fired its afterburners and blasted deeper into the fighter cloud as explosions ripped across the hull. Hull plating energy buckled as blasts cut deep into the ship.

 

Countless streams of energy illuminated the forward view port as the bridge shook from numerous impacts. A port station exploded from an energy overload that took out the main lights. The dim emergency lights lit the bridge, accompanied by sparks from several control panels.

 

“Hull plating is off line,” Ashley said.

 

“Transfer emergency power to structural integrity fields,” Tommy said as another volley of energy blasts slammed against the ship. “Change heading to 3-1-7 mark four. Continue firing all cannons.”

 

The Megaship rolled hard to starboard and fired a salvo of blasts that exploded against the Velocifighter screen. But the fighters kept coming. Trios of fighters rotated attack runs on the Megaship from all directions, making it nearly impossible for the ship to maneuver.

 

“Have Zhane come about and turn their left flank,” Tommy ordered. “Ashley…Tap into the Megashuttle. Drain all the power you can, then drop it.”

 

The Megaship’s bow split open and discharged the Mega Shuttle. The shuttle twisted and turned as it was thrown through the Velocifighter formation. It’s systems overloaded on Ashley’s signal, creating a massive explosion that wiped out four squadrons of fighters.

 

The blast gave the Megaship some extra breathing room.

 

“How are we holding up?” Tommy asked.

 

“You don’t want to know,” Ashley answered.

 

Kat’s monitor beeped. “Zhane is in position.”

 

“Tell him to have his zord rise up and arm the beam cannon,” Tommy said. “Tell him he’s the only way we can reach the surface.”

 

Kat fed Zhane his orders. The rangers heard his reply over the comm system. “No pressure.”

 

“Zhane, I’m not in the mood for banter,” Tommy said.

 

Astro Silver switched his zord to warrior mode. “Mega Winger, rise up!”

 

The Mega Winger armed the beam cannon, on loan from the Megaship, and fired at the Kilrathi cruisers. The beam cannon was quite possibly the most powerful and efficient space-war weapon created.

 

The energy beam effortless cut across the Kilrathi cruiser’s shields and armor, slicing through the ships innards, melting bulk heads, and exposing engines. The five Kilrathi ships exploded one-by one as they ripped apart.

 

The beam cannon powered down. It’s only drawback was that its power supply was limited, normally to three shots at a time.

 

The Megaship blasted through the Kilrathi wreckage and entered the Earth’s atmosphere.

  

***

 

The GALAXY

 

The last of the Machine crab mecha secured the capital city of Fray’loth. Cogs rounded up survivors and herded them towards transport sites, where they could be divided for various types of slave labor. Gen. Venjix did not like to waste time.

 

The black-armored Machine had spent the year rebuilding an army that the Zeo Rangers had destroyed. Sauron had expedited the process considerably. The Machine Empire was once again a force to be reckoned with.

 

“Settle in the occupation force,” Venjix ordered his troops. “Prepare to launch our next attack on surrounding systems. I will coordinate from here.”

 

Nearly a hundred gear ships left Fray’loth for their next targets.

 

***

 

Zeo Gold was getting tired. Every muscle in his body ached in protest, but he moved on. Hacking his way through an unending group of spider creatures. He batted a spider aside with his staff and thrust the end of his staff through another soldier’s belly.

 

He sidekicked a spider and smashed in its skull with a strike from the staff. He tried not to get distracted by the screams of death coming from all around him. Webs were starting to cover the streets as inured soldiers and civilians were strung up by the insect army.

 

“It’s time for a-” one of the creature’s leapt on top of Zeo Gold and squeezed tightly, cracking at least two of the Triforian’s ribs. Zeo Gold tried to strike back, but his lungs ached for oxygen. The grip was too tight.

 

Zeo Gold fell into darkness.

 

***

 

Fired burnt across the mage academy of Kilwan. Synthi spun forward, bashing her staff across Kerice’s face. The mage fell backward. Synthi aimed her staff towards the mage’s head. The staff crackled with black energy.

 

A sly grin crossed her face. “Your quaint little academy is fallen. Most of your friends are probably dead.” She licked her lips. “But I would like to keep you. For my play pen.”

 

*** 

 

Macus was alone in the lower levels of the Rigel station. His commando teams had succeeded in blowing the enemy ship off the station’s hull. But countless Zentron warriors still stalked through the station’s corridors.

 

He heard a group of the enemy soldier passing through a corridor that ran perpendicular to the small passage he hid behind. He armed his vi-blade.

 

***

 

The Aquition city was in flames as Namor’s troops moved forward. The planet’s Ranger team was surrounded on all sides by amphibious soldiers covered with dark scales.

 

Pegasaur Ranger, recently escaped from the zord outpost, was knocked backward by a fin-shaped blade. Explosions sparked across his blue armor as a soldier leaned down and started chopping, no sign of relenting.  

 

***

 

The Katana battle group was in shambles. Three dreadnaughts exploded from a volley of molten plasma fired by the vessels carved from Eltar’s surface.

 

Kruger opened up a comm line with his fellow fleet commander, the white-furred Admiral Trefli’ah. “Admiral, we need to fall back and regroup…”

 

Trefli’ah narrowed his eyes as he stared out the view port. More ships of rock flew from Eltar’s surface and reinforced the enemy fleet’s defensive lines. He lowered his head, his fur wrinkling with shame. “Fall back.”

 

 ***

 

EARTH

 

The Rangers leaned as far forward on their sliders as possible as they shot down like bullets towards Angels Square. Dense groups of Quantrons spread across the streets for as far as the eye could see. 

 

Astro Red backflipped off his Slider, letting the sled crash through a dense group of Quantrons in the center of the city street. Red Ranger landed while thrashing his saber downward in a powerful strike. He snapped out his leg, side kicking a Quantron in the faceplate.

 

He swung his blade to the left, cutting through the armor of three Quantrons. Two of the soldiers slashed their blades across Astro Red’s back. The Red Ranger snapped his leg around in a hook kick that knocked smashed the two Quantrons aside.

 

Astro Red hopped onto the roof of a nearby car to get more maneuvering room. He drew his Astro Sniper and fired darts of blue energy that exploded through Quantron armor.

 

He activated his helmet communicator. “Chris, look at the Quantrons’ dispersal pattern. Transfer all data to myself and the other Rangers. We can’t lose sight of each other.”

 

Astro Red hopped off the car and slammed a sidekick against a Quantron. The soldier crashed backward into three other Quantrons.

 

Astro Black cut across a corner towards a second pocket of Quantrons. Black Ranger swung his staff, smashing the side of a soldier’s helmet. He stabbed his staff against a Quantron and used the leverage to hurl the soldier backward. The Quantron went crashing through a nearby window.

 

“Tomahawk Hurricane!” Astro Blue shouted as he spun forward, holding his tomahawk out and chopping through a row of soldiers.

 

A Quantron threw him off balance with a swipe from a crescent-shaped blade. Explosions ripped across the Ranger’s armor.

 

A wing of Velocifighters broke through the atmosphere and swooped down towards the ground battle. The fighters opened fire with pulses of energy. Energy blasts exploded around the Rangers, sending them tumbling through the air along with Quantrons.

 

Astro Red slowly rose to his feet. “Drill Sniper, booster mode!” he aimed the weapon at one of the Velocifighters, but a Quantron slashed across his arm and kicked the Ranger backward.

 

Another whine cut through the air. The Mega Winger zoomed down from the clouds. The ship locked onto three Velocifighters and opened fire with rapid-pulse blasts. The blasts exploded against fighters, causing the small attack ships to burst into spheres of flame.

 

A fighter opened fire on a nearby building. The top half of the building exploded into rubble. Debris started crashing to the ground below.    

 

Astro Pink leapt aside to avoid a large chunk up concrete. She rolled to her knees as a Quantron thrashed upward across her chest.

 

Astro Red speared his saber through a Quantron’s faceplate and spun forward, decapitating a second soldier.

 

Mega Winger rose to warrior mode and landed on the streets, crushing a group of Quantrons beneath its feet.

 

Velocifighters flew towards the Mega Winger and opened fire. Each blast exploded against the zord’s armor, knocking it backward. Mega Winger opened fire with head-vulcan cannons that shot darts of energy into the air. The energy blasts exploded against several fighters, blowing them from the skies.

 

Astro Silver opened up a comm line with the other Rangers. “Guys, these fighters are moving for an attack run on the city’s main shelter.”

 

“Quantrons are moving that way too,” Astro Black said.

 

“Damn,” Astro Red cursed beneath his breath. “Chris, come with me.”

 

Astro Red charged forward through a wave of Quantrons. The Rangers sword spun in a series of intricate slashes and maneuvers. The blades cut down every soldier that got in his path, knocked blades away, and pierced the enemy formation. Astro Red was not about to let anymore innocents get hurt.

 

*** 

 

Quantrons spilled into a vacant city blocked and charged towards the shelter’s main entrance - a large metallic blast door on the side of a tall building.

 

Velocifighters above opened fire on the building. Walls exploded and windows shattered as half the building collapsed, spreading debris and dust on the streets below.

 

Darts of blue energy exploded against a group of Quantrons. Astro Red and Astro Black moved in from around a corner, passing under a walkway bridge while firing upon the soldiers.

 

Astro Red downloaded his drill saber and leapt forward. He landed while bringing his down in a wide diagonal arc. His saber thrashed through three enemy soldiers.

 

Astro Black slammed a hook punch across a soldier’s head and pushed forward with a cross punch that smashed in a second soldier’s faceplate, shattering its visor. “Why don’t these freaks just go home!” he said as he slammed a punch across a soldier’s head.

 

“Try asking them,” Astro Red said, trying to break the tension. Chris was normally calm. He hoped his friend would be okay in the battle’s aftermath…if they all survived.

 

“Go home!” Astro Black shouted as he smashed the side of a Quantron’s helmet with his fist. The Quantron stayed on its feet. “Nope. Still here.”  Astro Black smashed his elbow across the soldier’s head.

 

A blinding, pale-green light shot forward from behind the Quantrons. A group of the soldiers exploded, the light burning through their armor and vaporizing them.

 

Astro Red smiled beneath his helmet as he saw the attacker. “Alright, Adam.”

 

Lion Ranger moved forward through the Quantrons. He whirled his Thunder Staff, batting Quantrons aside left and right.

 

***

 

The Kilrathi landed a small group of troops in Angel Grove before their ships exploded. The six muscular lion creatures stalked through the deserted streets with their blasters. Groups of Craterites dotted the streets where the soldiers stalked.

 

“They’re hiding underground in holes,” one of the soldiers growled in his native tongue. “Cowards…”

 

Darts of blue energy exploded against the lead Kilrathi. The energy blasts ripped through his armor and tore through his body.

 

Countless Craterites fell into formation to protect the Kilrathi as Astro Blue charged forward to attack. He slammed a front kick against a soldier and spun forward with his axe while slashing another Craterite aside. He kept his momentum, using his axe to hack through the soldiers like a machete cutting through dense jungle.

 

***

 

Another five hours passed. Five hours of continuous fighting. The sun had set. Astro Yellow was below a building overhang outside a hotel as a wave of Quantrons approached her. She leapt forward and slammed an axe kick against a soldier’s collar bone.

 

Her muscles ached more with every blow and burned with fatigue. But she kept moving. She slammed a hook kick across a soldier’s head.

 

A Quantron moved in behind her and slashed her back with a crescent-shaped blade. Explosions sparked across her armor as she collapsed. She bit back a scream as another soldier slashed upward across her chest armor.

 

A curved blade swung down towards her helmet. A drill sword blocked the blow and kicked the Quantron away. It was Astro Red. He parried a blow and slammed the end of his saber through a soldier’s faceplate to keep it away. He spun backwards with a reverse sidekick that smashed a Quantron backward.

 

Astro Red helped Astro Yellow to her feet. “Hold on, Ash.”

 

Astro Red thrashed his blade upward through the chest of another Quantron, explosions sparking on impact.

 

A dark shadow passed over the night skies above. It was Astronema’s Dark Fortress. The fortress dumped another group of Quantrons onto the streets.

 

“Tommy,” Ashley said. “We have to fall back.”

 

“What?” Astro Red said as he cut down another soldier.

 

“We need to regroup,” she said. “We can’t do this alone. There’s too many of them, and we need a plan.”

 

Astro Red cut through another soldier’s neck. More Quantrons and Craterites teleported down from the Dark Fortress as others simply jumped from the vessel. “Kat,” he said, opening a comm line. “I need you to send out a signal. Broad frequency rotations. Contact every Ranger, Rider, or cyborg, and have them regroup with us. The location…make it the old lair under the subway.”  

 

The Rangers started to fall back.

 

The Mega Winger still stomped through the streets, but was badly damaged. The Dark Fortress opened fire with a volley of jade energy beams that tore through the zord’s hull. The Mega Winger’s armor ripped apart as the zord’s energy core overloaded and exploded. Astro Silver evacuated his cockpit seconds before the zord went up in flames.

 

***

 

The fighting ended. Quantrons positioned themselves in holding formations in most major world cities. Citizens were rounded up into groups on the streets for slave labor or to be melted into genetic soup for soldiers and gene beasts.

 

Most Angel Grove residents who survived the attack were safely secured in shelters. Other pockets of residents were rounded up at Angel’s Square by Quantrons.

 

Astronema stood on center building of Angel’s Square, where the street formed a “Y.” It was the site of the earth Rangers first battle against one of Bandora’s monsters five years ago.   

 

Eclipter stood at her side.

 

“The Rangers are still alive,” she said to him.

 

“We have lost track of the Megaship, princess,” Eclipter said. “They may have left the system.”

 

“I find that very doubtful,” Astronema said. “Find them and destroy them. Pry open every shelter that the humans are hiding in.”

 

***

 

Tommy stood in the lair of his former sensei Kaku. The barren brick room brought mixed memories and emotions back to Tommy. Almost dying at the hand’s of Jinn. Meeting Adam and Rocky for the first time. Learning the truth about his father’s heritage. Kou, the young Kiba Ranger who had died in battle.

 

Various rangers and heroes crowded in the chamber. Chris and Justin helped Tommy set up a holo-projection screen near the front of the room.

 

Tommy recognized almost everyone. Ryouma and the rangers from the Ginga tribe who had fought the space pirates Balban, Jason and his ninja team responsible for eliminating the Youkai, Luke and the Turbos who faced the space pirate Divatox, Rocky and Tommy’s other former teammates, including his brother Teddy.     

 

A young Japanese man stood in the back of the room next to Kouishiro, Kamen Rider Kuuga. Tommy assumed the stranger was Kamen Rider Black. The third Kamen Rider, Dex of Edenoi, was in the lair as well.

 

The youngest in the room were the Beetle Borgs. Tommy also recognized, by name at least, the two Nova Troopers, Ryan Steele, and SHOC. 

 

And Billy was there. Tommy had not seen his former friend in more than a year. He had vanished from sight without a word. Then the Rangers learned that Billy had many secrets he never bothered to share. He basically developed an entire secret organization, ISIS, behind everyone’s back. Now Billy was in the lair, and still had not given a word of explanation.

 

Tommy took a deep breath and activated the holographic screen. He would have given anything to have Zordon back. 

 

“So here’s the plan,” Tommy said. “Cybertron…you, SHOC, and the Beetle Borgs will head to Fray’loth and stop the Machine’s advance. Their army is strong, but take out their leaders, and you’ll leave them disorganized and out of the fight for years.

 

“Ryouma, you and the Galaxy Rangers will head to Avalon and take Divatox and her pirates. Group up with a team there called the Avataars, then head to Kilwan and regroup with the mages there. They’ll know what to do next.

 

“Dex, go to Titan. Kamen Riders Black and Kuuga will go with you. Only bounty hunters are there now, but the big guns will be moving in after the path is cleared. That system is too important.

 

“Turbos, head to Triforia to back up Trey.

 

“Jason, you and the Ninja Rangers stay here on Earth with Strange, and the Nova Troopers. Do what you can to save lives.

 

“Astros, you’re heading over to the Expanse. They’re our only allies in that half of the galaxy, and we can’t lose them. Cy, you’ll take my morpher.”

 

Ashley wrinkled her brow. “What about you?”

 

“I’m taking the Power Rangers to Eltar,” he said. “We’re going to stop Sauron…cut off the head of the snake, and rescue Zordon. We’re going to end this war.”

 

 

The Countdown continues in Chapter 27…