Rangers in Space: Chapter Twenty-eight

Countdown to Destruction: Three

 

The gray gnomes of Svilwanzoborezan drew lines in Eltarian dirt within the underground colony. The lines formed demonic symbols within a circular pattern. The gnomes were appealing to denizens of  the lower planes to aide in liberating their world from Sauron.

 

Their first few attempts had failed, resulting in a two-foot bat creature that could not even fly, and a creature resembling a teddy bear with big, glossy eyes.

 

Their current attempt would be their last. The lines in the dirt started to radiate with crimson power. The symbols burned with golden light that bled into the ground and started to spread like a blanket, filling the circle with light.

 

The light twisted.

 

Two dark figures rose from the ring. The first materialized into a humanoid with a bulking muscular body colored dusty red. Three spikes of bone extended from his forearm. His fanged jaw took up nearly half of his bony face. His eyes glowed with red fire. Ridges ran back around his bald head. His name was Bru’a’ka.

 

The second figure appeared feminine, her dark body wrapped with a scarce dark purple and black vest. Her eyes were solid white and hair was long and black with white stripes. Her name was Sindi’yn.

 

The warriors from the lower realms pounced forward and feasted on gnome flesh.

 

***

   

Dex, Kouishiro, and Hikaru arrived in the streets of Titan’s capital city. Buildings were in ruin. Giant statues were toppled. And not a living soul was in sight.

 

“Huh,” Kouishiro said as he looked around the city. “Looks like we missed the action.”

 

Dex shook his head. “The fight may be over, but our enemy is still near.”

 

Hikaru narrowed his eyes and nodded. “We’re being watched…”

 

A figure stirred in the shadows.

 

“Down!” Hikaru shouted as he and the others dove for cover and rolled across the pavement. Several enhanced bounty hunters leapt from the city and charged forward towards the three riders. Each bounty hunter was armed with bladed weapons and blasters.

 

Hikaru rolled to his knees and shot to his feet. “Black Sun!” His King Stone flashed from his waist, surrounding Hikaru in the black insectoid armor of Kamen Rider Black.

 

Kouishiro snapped into a fighting stance and activated his King Stone. “Kuuga awaken!” Energy flashed around him and he morphed into his red insectoid armor.

 

Dex, the Prince of Edenoi, activated his own powers. “Ryuuki awaken!” Red and silver armor, dragon and insect type, wrapped around his body.

 

A bounty hunter charged forward towards Black Sun. The hunter was dressed in rags, and carried an electric charged scimitar. He swung the blade towards Black Sun. The Kamen Rider blocked the blow with his left arm and stepped forward, slamming a right roundkick against the villain’s chest. He followed by bashing the back of his fist across the villain’s face.

 

The bounty hunters moved forward, surrounding the three Riders from all sides.

 

Ryuuki noticed that they would be overwhelmed if they stayed in the open. He double punched a bounty hunter in the chest and kicked the villain away. “Move towards the ruins. We must use our surroundings to our advantage.”

 

Kuuga leapt through the air like a sky moth, twisted and flipped, and landed on a tipped statue that angled from a building to the ground. One by one, the bounty hunters scrambled up the fallen statue to assault Kuuga, and one by one they fell. He snapped forward and jump kicked a bounty hunter in the face. He slammed a hook punch across that soldier’s head, and the bounty hunter crashed against the ground below.

 

He skipped forward and sidekicked another bounty hunter in the chest, knocking the soldier away.

 

On the road, a bounty hunter with blades running along his forearms spun towards Black Sun. The Kamen Rider ducked under the blades and slammed an uppercut against the bounty hunter’s stomach, knocking the wind from the warrior. Black Sun rose back to his full height and slammed a hook kick across the bounty hunter’s head, bashing in his skull.

 

A larger bounty hunter sped down the streets towards the Kamen Riders. The bounty hunter was twice their size and armed with cybernetic enhancements that covered his entire body and head.

 

The cyborg was upon Black Sun in the blink of an eye. He grabbed the Kamen Rider by the neck and lifted him from the ground while slamming punches against his side.

 

Kuuga looked down from the tilted statue and saw Black Sun in trouble. Kuuga snapped a hook kick across a soldier’s head and grabbed the villain’s blaster before the hunter fell.

 

Kuuga transformed into his green-armored air form and the blaster became a crossbow weapon. Kuuga snapped a volley of energy arrows that exploded against the bounty hunter below.

 

The cyborg turned and fired optic blasts that exploded against the statue, crumbling it beneath Kuuga’s feet as the Rider leapt downward,  reverting back to his red warrior form.

 

The Cyborg tossed Black Sun through the air. Kamen Rider Black slammed against Kuuga, knocking the two Riders from the air and sending them smashing through a nearby building.

 

Ryuuki leapt forward, slamming a flying sidekick against the cyborg’s chest armor.  Ryuuki used his foothold from the kick to flip backward, slamming his heel upside the Cyborg’s head.

 

Kamen Rider Ryuuki landed just as the cyborg fired an optic blast at near point range. The blast exploded against the Rider’s chest armor and sent him crashing back against the streets, skidding across the pavement.

 

Black Sun and Kuuga sprang forward from the ruined building and somersaulted forward through the air, aiming their descent towards the cyborg.

 

“Rider Kick!” they shouted together as they slammed flying kicks against the cyborg.

 

Their kicks slammed against the villain, bashing in its armor and forcing the cyborg backward.

 

With their opponent off guard, the three Riders struck as one. Ryuuki spun with a hook kick that smashed in the Cyborg’s head, Kuuga spun forward with a reverse sidekick that crushed the villain’s chest, and Black Sun jump-roundkicked the creature’s side, his blow snapping bone, flesh and wiring on impact, sending the villain skidding across the ground.

 

The Cyborg’s body went limp as the whine of its power generators died down. The Riders lowered their guards.

 

A voice shouted from the rooftops. “Your battle is not over yet, Riders!” It was the Titan warrior Grifalzor. A descendant of Goldar, Grifalzor wore shining silver armor, lined with gold around the edges. He carried two slender longknives as weapons.

 

Grifalzor used his wings to swoop downward, just as the cyborg reactivated and powered up its wrist gauntlets. The Titan warrior landed while swinging his longknives outward, severing the wrists from the cyborg with a flash of spark as he slammed a front kick against the villain’s chest.

 

Grifalzor pushed forward, spearing his left saber through the Cyborg’s faceplate while spinning past the villain and bringing his right blade down to decapitate the villain.

 

The Titan looked to the Riders. “Come. There will be more of these constructs soon.”

 

***

 

The bone-faced being known as Xon sat on the bridge of his small starship, pale gray light illuminating his face. The ship was powered down so only essential systems such as life support were running.

 

The ship hid behind an asteroid as vessels loyal to Sauron dumped an occupation army onto what was once a neutral planet called Fawrn.

 

Xon had used Fawrn for the base of his smuggling and pirate business for a few months, after he was forced to leave Darknell Prime, a world he sorely missed. Darknell Prime was home to quite possibly the tallest trees in the galaxy. They stretched higher than the tallest earth skyscraper and formed a complex network of road-width branches more extensive than a large city.

 

Xon and his group had flee Darknell after Astronema discovered the Astro Rangers there. Until that point, he had tried to remain neutral in the brewing conflict. But the Rangers had helped him escape. It was not long before Xon realized that a victory by Sauron meant death or enslavement to everyone.

 

Death and enslavement tended to be bad for business.

 

Xon enlisted his help in the Allies efforts to stop Sauron shortly after the Darknell Conflict. 

 

Currently, Xon was watching his latest base fall under Sauron’s power. The enemy ships were from Zztazian, a world of non-humanoid life forms near Aloc.  

 

Systems were falling by the hundreds due to a massive enemy offensive. Communications were down. Sauron controlled most hyperspace lanes. It almost seemed hopeless.

 

Almost.

 

Two of the Zztazian ships broke orbit and moved into hyperspace, leaving a single vessel behind to monitor the garrison‘s progress.

 

Xon wished his face was capable of smiling.

 

He had started his career in ship heists. He was about to put those skills to use.

 

***

 

Tommy and the other rangers followed Silver’s lead while they moved further into the bowels of Eltar. A red hue came from a valley even further below, piercing the darkness.

 

“What is that?” Rocky asked. “I thought everything down here hated light?”

 

“They do,” Silver said. “But the light comes from Svilwanzoborezan. The gray gnomes have been known to practice magick.”

 

“Something tells me we should check it out,” Tommy said. “We’ve seen light like that before. It’s never good.”

 

“Right,” Rocky agreed, “all the more reason we should not go down there.”

 

“Come one,” Tommy said.

 

Enough light from the small colony let Tommy lead the others downward and enter the city itself. The city was made of stone structures embedded in walls and natural stalagmites.

 

Tommy knelt down next to the dirt and saw the demonic circle and symbols. “Take a look at this…” he said to the others.

 

Adam crouched down next to Tommy. “Looks like each of these symbols were burnt”

 

Tommy nodded. “Something came through this ring.” He looked back to Silver. “Do you know what these symbols mean?”

 

“Magick,” Silver said, her eyes fixed to each symbol. “Used to summon denizens of the lower planes.”

 

“Like Hell?” Rocky asked, hoping the answer was no. He and the other Rangers had already fought through Hell once. Rocky had no desire to see any of their demon spawn again.

 

“No,” Silver said. “Other realms. Other plans of existence.”

 

They heard laughter come from within the cavern. The rangers all rose to their feet and snapped to attention.

 

“I told you this was a bad idea,” Billy said to Tommy.

 

“Actually,” Tommy said, his eyes looking across the red-tinted cavern, “you didn’t, so be quiet.”

 

Bru’a’ka and Sindi’yn landed on opposite sides of the rangers and Silver. A vicious smile crossed the face of Bru’a’ka. “See Sindi’yn…I told you I smelt Ranger flesh in these tunnels.”

 

Sindi’yn extended her hand.

 

A group of trolls slowly crept forward from the colony. The trolls, horrid humanoid globs of flesh, were created by Sindi’yn. She slapped various pieces of dead gnome matter together to sculpt the grunts. The trolls made low moaning sounds.

 

The rangers snapped into fighting stances. Tommy looked back to Silver. “Is there any way to send these clowns back where they came from?”

 

“I only know of one way to banish them from this realm,” Silver explained. “Kill them.”

 

“Alright then,” Tommy said. “Billy, Kimberly, take the trolls. Teddy, Adam, take on Sindi’yn. Rocky, you and me have smiley.”

 

The rangers split up and attacked.

 

Bru’a’ka roared as Tommy and Rocky approached. The creature’s mouth opened wide enough to bite off any of the rangers’ heads, and the sound caused the underground colony to shake.

 

“Hit him,” Tommy said as he and Rocky charged forward.

 

Tommy sprang forward with a double flying sidekick, both his heels slamming against the creature’s chest and forcing him a step back.

 

Tommy landed as Rocky moved in with a flying crescent kick towards the head. The kick slammed across the monster’s head. Tommy spun forward with a reverse sidekick that knocked the creature back another step.

 

Bru’a’ka seemed to be enjoying himself.

 

The villain swung his fist towards Tommy’s head. Tommy ducked under the blow while slamming a knifehand strike against the creature’s side, moving past him, and slamming a kick against his back.

 

Bru’a’ka fell forward and skid across the dirt, but quickly sprang back to his feet. He turned to face the rangers and spat a rolling ball of green flame at them.

 

“Kiryoku!” Tommy and Rocky shouted as they used their ki to ricochet the sphere back at the creature and explode against him.

 

Nearby, Teddy snapped a jump kick towards Sindi’yn. The creature grabbed him by the leg and slammed a knifehand chop against his chest, knocking him onto the ground.     

 

Adam snapped a jump roundkick that Sindi’yn ducked under. She used her strands of hair like a whip to snap across Adam and Teddy, knocking the two teens backward.

 

Meanwhile, Kimberly flipped backward while kicking a troll upside the head. Billy was at her side. He slammed a jump kick against a grunt’s face and moved in low, slamming the heel of his palm against the troll’s chest.

 

Bru’a’ka lunged towards Tommy and Rocky with a flurry of punches and swings. The two teens dodged each blow, dodging and weaving around the punches.

 

Tommy ducked behind the monster, and when Bru’a’ka turned to face the villain, Tommy sprang forward. “Burn Knuckle!” Tommy shouted as he slammed a fist energized with fiery power slammed against Bru’a’ka.

 

The villain was knocked backward as Tommy moved forward. The ranger slammed a sidekick against the villain’s face. The demon crashed against the ground and slid backward across the dirt.

 

Bru’a’ka immediately rolled into a crouched position and sprang back at the two rangers.

 

“Didn’t we used to be better at this?” Rocky asked.

 

“He’s just being stubborn,” Tommy said.

 

Tommy kicked Bru’a’ka upside the head and spun forward while slamming a hook kick across the villain’s head and a reverse sidekick against the chest.

 

Bru’a’ka swung his fist towards Tommy. Tommy grabbed the villain’s bone spike with his right hand and twisted the villain’s arm downward while slamming his left elbow against the demon’s locked arm. The villain’s bone and ligaments snapped as his elbow bent backward.

 

Bru’a’ka growled and pounced forward, using its injured arm like a club to bat Tommy aside.

 

Rocky moved in. “Tenma Flash kick!” He spun forward while launching a series of energized tornado kicks that slammed against the creature’s skull.

 

Bru’a’ka grabbed Rocky’s leg and swung him backward, slamming him against the dirt ground.

 

Tommy leapt forward and planted his feet on the villain’s back while wrapped his arms around the villain’s head. Tommy kicked his legs out and pulled the villain’s head backward, snapping the demon’s neck and backbone.

 

Bru’a’ka collapsed to the ground, black ichor leaking from his body.

 

***

 

Hikaru, Kouishiro, Dex and Grifalzor gathered in a vacant room filled with toppled bookshelves and broken weapon displays. The Titan warrior activated a small, portable holographic emitter. The emitter displayed a layout of the city and enemy troop deployments.

 

The dome-shaped enemy garrison had landed on top of the emperor’s palace, crushing the structure.

 

“They are keeping the emperor here,” Grifalzor said. “The main holding garrison.”

 

Dex studied the map closely. Dex grew up fighting the occupation forces of Count Dregon on his homeworld.

 

“Are we sure this is the main garrison?” Dex said. “There are few troops.”

 

“It is a small force,” Grifalzor agreed. “They were part of the initial wave. A larger garrison will soon arrive and assist with pushing into the Fourth Quadrant of the galaxy.”

 

“We must stop them before then,” Dex said.

 

Dex and Grifalzor discussed tactics as Kouishiro and Hikaru examined the library.

  

Kouishiro was drawn to a fallen display of warrior masks etched with silver and bronze. He was an archeologist back on Earth, which was how he stumbled upon the Kuuga power along with Maya, a friend of the original terran Rangers.

 

As Kuuga, Kouishiro had traveled the world with Maya on various assignments while secretly fighting against an ancient civilization that had woke from the dead. It took him a year to kill all the un-dead warriors.

 

Hikaru looked over a slender double-edged blade. Which was etched with green. The same green of Shadow Moon’s eyes.

 

Shadow Moon, Saske, had been Hikaru’s brother. The siblings were kidnapped by a cult called the Gorgom Syndicate and turned into living weapons. Hikaru managed to escape before the process was complete. They turned him into a Kamen Rider, Black Sun.

 

His brother was brainwashed and turned into the Kamen Rider known as Shadow Moon. The cult wanted the two Kamen Riders to fight to the death. The winner would become ruler of the organization, and eventually, the entire Earth.

 

Hikaru had no choice but to kill his brother after the cult had taken control of Shinjuku.

 

“Nice piece,” Kouishiro said as he walked over to Hikaru and stood by the sword. “It’s weird how we’re all these light yards away, on and alien planet, and they have a lot of the same…stuff, ya know?”

 

Hikaru raised an eyebrow. “Stuff?”

 

“Like that sword,” Kouishiro said. “Books, maps…”

 

“There’s no logic to it,” Hikaru said simply, his eyes still fixed on the sword. “No logic in life. Trying to make sense of it will drive you mad.”

 

“Well,” Kouishiro said under his breath as he turned and slowly started to walk away. “I guess that’s one way of looking at it.”

 

***

 

Xon sat on his bridge chair and flipped the arm panels down. “Prepare for full power, all systems. Secure all stations. Boarding parties to the docking bay. Let’s make this quick.”

 

He looked to his weapons officer, a cyborg names Korag. “Target their main power relay as soon as we’re in range.”

 

Korag nodded. The stern-faced cyborg rarely spoke.  

 

“All hands…” he said as he gripped his armrests. “Full power.”

 

The ship’s engines whined as the vessel returned to full power and maneuvered past the concealing asteroid. The Zztazian ship picked up Xon’s vessel on its sensors almost immediately.

 

“Comm,” Xon ordered. “Engage deflector pulse. Flight control, attack pattern Tarn.”

 

The ship’s main deflector emitted a spherical subspace pulse that would temporarily interfere with the other ship’s sensor readings. As soon as the pulse passed the enemy vessel, Xon’s ship rolled hard to starboard and blasted closer towards the planet on full impulse.

 

“Fire,” Xon commanded. His ship fired lances of red energy that slammed against the enemy ship’s deflector shield. Each blast rippled the shield while splashing over it.

 

The enemy vessel returned fire with green energy pulses. The ship’s sensors were down, but they used telemetry from the shield impact to guide their targeting. The pulses cut through Xon’s ships shields and exploded against his vessel’s hull, knocking weapons offline and damaging engines.

 

Xon’s ship stalled as the enemy vessel moved closer.

 

“Send a distress signal,” Xon said calmly.

 

The ship moved in closer, preferring to board the get within transporter range and board the ship instead of destroying it, just as Xon knew they would. It was typical of their species.

 

“Arm the rail guns,” Xon ordered.

 

Two manual-fire rail guns hidden in the hull were manually loaded with high-yield, conventional bullets.

 

The enemy ship lowered its shields to transport.

 

“Fire!” Xon ordered.

 

The rail guns opened fire, spraying countless rounds of high-yield bullets against the enemy ships hull. The bullets exploded upon impact and tore away the ship’s armor, causing a series of explosions that ruptured the ship’s main power relay.

 

The enemy ship’s systems went down, crippling the vessel.

 

“Move us into docking positions,” Xon ordered. “Secure the vessel.”

 

The two ships docked together. Xon’s boarding parties were secured in tight-armored environmental suits. The Zztazian breathed atmosphere devoid of oxygen. Their bodies were five-foot-tall legs connected by massive jaws with tentacles.

 

The boarding party placed charges on the entrance and blew it open. They poured into the narrow wedge-shaped corridors of the ship.

 

The hissing sound of the enemy crew filled the halls as dozens of Zztazian charged forward to attack.

 

***

 

Sindi’yn stepped back while blocking a pair of kicks from Teddy and punches from Adam. The villain tilted her head back and leaned back forward, whipping her hair towards the two rangers. 

 

Adam grabbed her hairlocks and clenched his jaw with pain as they sent shocks of violet energy across his arms. But he held on.

 

Teddy pounced forward and slammed a roundkick against her side, brought his leg up and around, and crashed an axe kick down against the back of her neck. Sindi’yn crashed to the ground.

 

Adam and Teddy stood side-by-side  as the villain climbed back to her feet.

 

“Sonic strike!” Teddy shouted. His fists energized with white sonic energy as he swung his arms forward. The young ranger emitted an energy boomerang that shot forward, spinning through the air and cutting the villain in half.

 

Sindi’yn screamed as her body dissolved into nothing.

 

The rangers regrouped with Silver after Billy and Kimberly finished off the trolls.

 

“I suggest we search the colony before leaving,” Silver was quick to say. “The gray gnomes are something like collectors. They will have a vast array of weaponry to chose from. You will need better protection and armaments.”

 

Silver led the rangers into a small chamber lit only by her torch. The rangers saw that Silver was not exaggerating. Bladed and wooden weapons of countless makes and sizes lined the walls, along with armor and shields.

 

Teddy’s eyes opened wide. “This is just…whoa.”

 

Tommy nodded. “Let’s armor up.”

 

Rocky chose two longknives as his weapons. Each slender blade was about arm’s length. He strapped the blades across his back.

 

Tommy grabbed a sword from the wall display. The weapon’s blade was similar to a Katana. The handle was a twirling design made of black marble-like substance. A short dagger protruded from the end of the weapon’s handle.

 

Teddy lifted a dagger, with the blade the size of his forearm. The handle was large enough for him to wrap both his hands around. A single white gem was above the hilt.

 

Kimberly pulled a retractable spear from the weapon display.

 

Adam reached for a sword that looked more like a fencing foil, only with a slightly thicker blade.

 

Billy opted an arm-mounted crossbow.

 

The rangers took what supplied they needed and walked back into the open cavern. The crimson hue was gone, replaced only with the flicker of Silver’s torch.

 

Tommy stopped in his tracks and narrowed his brow. “We have company…” he said quietly.”

 

The hunter Zono was perched against a stone wall above and behind the rangers, using the claws on his stone hands and feet to stick to the surface. A pack of Drow and Sul were alongside him. The Sul resembled hairy ogres, while the Drow were slender, black-skinned goblins.

 

“Move!” Tommy shouted as Zono and the soldiers pounced downward to attack. The rangers dove and rolled for cover.

 

Zono landed on Teddy’s back and tackled the teen to the ground. The villain swung its claws downward towards the back of the ranger’s neck. Teddy reached back, grabbed the villain by the wrists, and pulled Zono off his back with a powerful tug.

 

Teddy rolled back into a crouched position. Zono landed on all fours before pouncing back towards the teen. The villain’s jaw was wide open, thick with drool, as he extended his claws.

 

Teddy slammed a jumpkick upside the villain’s muzzle, and spun forward with a hook kick that slammed across the villain’s head.

 

Zono twisted around with the blow before leaping upward. The villain grabbed Teddy’s head with his ankles and flipped backward, swinging Teddy off his feet and slamming him against the ground.

 

Meanwhile the other rangers battled the grunts.

 

An ogre swung its broadsword towards Tommy’s head. Tommy parried the blow and stepped inward, bashing the spiked end of his sword through the villain’s skull. Tommy pulled his blade free while twirling the weapon through a horizontal arc that severed a second grunt’s arm. Tommy extended his hand and fired an invisible telekinetic pulse that slammed against the grunt, knocking him backward.

 

Nearby, a pair of Drow swung their blades towards Adam in unison. Adam used his blade to parry their blows of the quick and agile soldiers.

 

Rocky stood with his back to Adam. He used his longknives to fend off a flurry of slashed from three of the slender creatures.

 

Teddy continued his battle with Zono.

 

The young ranger rose to his feet as the villain swung its massive paw downward. Teddy used his forearm to block the blow and lunged forward while piercing his dagger through the villain’s chest. Zono howled with pain and slammed the back of his fist across the ranger’s head, knocking Teddy aside.

 

“Stupid little meat sack,” Zono growled as he pulled the blade free and tossed it aside.

 

Teddy stepped back into a defensive stance. “Why do you freaks always have to be difficult?”

 

***

 

Various bounty hunters directed a line of Titan captives towards the dome-shaped garrison. They entered the first level of the building. A small area, the entrance corridor had dozens of elevators lined against the wall, each used for transporting slaves and captives.

 

Grifalzor waited until the dozen other “captives” were inside before striking. He whipped off his cloak and bindings, reached towards the nearest bounty hunter, and ripped out the villain’s throat.

 

The other captives broke free from their binds as a slaughter ensued. Massive sheets of armor and metal blocked off the entrance and elevators to keep the Titans contained. Grifalzor expected no less. His part of the mission was only to serve as a diversion.

 

Grifalzor had led the Riders to a resistance camp near the garrison. One of the warriors had captured a cybernetic bounty hunter and reprogrammed it, allowing the warriors to enter the complex under the false guise of captivity.

 

Portals on the ceiling opened as cyborg Verox Soldiers dropped down. They were scaled-down versions of the Verox Bounty Hunters.

 

A larger model slid down a shaft and landed on the floor. The Verox Bounty Hunter had four arms, and stood two heads taller than Grifalzor. The simian warrior snarled with delight.

 

“The four-armed one is mine!” he barked to the soldiers.

 

The Titan warriors split up and attacked.

 

A bronze-armored simian bashed an axe down through a soldier’s head, splitting its skull. He put his foot on the soldier’s chest to help pull his axe free.

 

A Titan dressed only in robes grabbed a soldier with his bare hands and crushed th villain’s head.

 

A simian armored in black snapped its wings to shoot forward while driving two arm-mounted spears through a soldier’s chest.

 

As the battle raged inside the small garrison chamber, no one noticed a dark figure hopping upward along the side of the dome.

 

Four bounty hunters stood at their watch station on top of the dome. Each villain was a patchwork of flesh, rusty armor, rags, and blades.

 

Kamen Rider Black leapt downward on one of the hunters, driving his feet against the villain’s collar bone and crushing him against the ground.

 

A second villain swung a fist-mounted dagger towards Black Sun. The Rider sidestepped while using his forearm to block the blow, and slammed a roundkick against the hunter’s chest. The villain’s ribs snapped beneath armor.

 

Kamen Rider Black pushed the soldier aside while slamming a jumpkick upside a second villain’s head.

 

The third villain armed jagged blades that he looped and spun forward. Kamen Rider ducked and dodged while stepping backward. Black Sun used both hands to grab the flat of the villain’s right blade and slam the weapon against the left blade.

 

Kamen Rider spun forward with a reverse sidekick that crushed the villain’s chest.

 

Meanwhile, on the middle level inside the garrison, Kouishiro and Dex walked along a winding corridor. Security codes the Titans ripped from the cyborgs helped them gain access to the garrison’s central level, the security deck.

 

They were dressed in black cloaks and masks as disguises. Dex looked to his teammate through the corner of his eye. “The main security control room is just ahead. It will be guarded.”

 

“You sound like you’ve done this before,” Kouishiro said.

 

“My people have lived in oppression my entire life,” Dex explained. “I grew up as a resistance fighter.”

 

The Riders would have access to several systems once inside the security room. The pair would let Grifalzor and his party in through the main entrance, acting still as a primary diversion. The two Riders would also let Black Sun slip down through the central elevator shaft undetected.

 

The Riders turned and entered the shaft while dropping their cloaks. The security center’s main computer was a large, circular station at the center of the room. Various bounty hunters and pirates attended duty stations.

 

The two intruders dashed forward to attack.

 

“Kuuga Awaken!” Kouishiro shouted as his armor wrapped around him with a surge of energy.

 

Kuuga launched forward with a  double-jump sidekick that slammed against a bounty hunter and sent the villain crashing against the computer console.

 

“Ryuuki, Awaken!” Dex shouted as silver and red armor wrapped around his body.

 

Ryuuki jumped forward and somersaulted through the air while slamming a Rider Kick against a bounty hunter. The villain shot off his feet and went crashing against three other bounty hunters, toppling them over.

 

Kuuga slammed an uppercut punch against the last soldier’s gut.

 

“We must hurry,” Ryuuki said as he moved to the central control panel to let Black Sun and the Titan warriors enter the compound.

 

A blur of motion suddenly tackled against Ryuuki and knocked the Rider backward. It was a creature with the upper body of a jackal and the lower body of a cyborg. The creature crouched on the central control console and snarled at the Riders before pouncing forward to attack.

 

***

 

Xon’s boarding party opened fire. Darts of blue energy shot from their blasters and exploded against the Zztazian, tearing apart their bodies.

 

One of the Zztazian pounced forward and slammed a double kick against a soldier. The villain’s talons clawed through the man’s chest, killing him instantly.

 

Another member of the boarding party sprayed energy darts that pierced through the attacker, knocking the villain off of the dead soldier’s body.

 

The boarding party spread out through the ship’s winding corridors. A main group of three moved towards the bowels of the ship, where the engine furnaces were located.

 

Xon shortly joined his men in the engine room after dressing in his own environmental suit. The room was dimly lit. The engines were massive rolling turbines arranged in no noticeable pattern.

 

“Access the computer matrix,” Xon ordered. “I want to know where this ship was headed next. Next priority is life support. I want an oxygen atmosphere.”

 

“Xon,” one of his men called from an alcove near the rear of the room. “Besides their exit vector, I’m not picking up any flight plan.”

 

“That’s not possible,” Xon said as he walked towards the alcove. “Everything is too coordinated. There has to be some sort of battle plan. Flight plan. Tactical maps. I want to know-”

 

A wave of dizziness suddenly rushed over them as pressure filled their heads, sounding like a roaring ocean. The sensation stopped as quickly as it started.

 

“What was-” He didn’t have to ask. He and the rest of his crew suddenly realized why the enemy was so coordinated, even with a galaxy-wide communications blackout. They realized why the enemy ship had no flight plan.

 

Sauron was controlling his forces telepathically. And they had just received an information dump from the Dark Monarch, with orders for the crew of the enemy vessel they had boarded.

 

Xon still could not believe it. No one had the capability for that kind of mental control. No one had that kind of power. Millions of ships, trillions of soldiers…it was not possible.

 

Unless…

 

“Zordon,” Xon said.

 

Everyone in the galaxy knew Sauron was draining Zordon of his energy. Apparently the ability to command a galaxy-wide attack with only the power of mind was an after effect.

 

***

 

Zono gained the upper hand. The villain forced Teddy to his knees while grabbing the teen’s throat and pushing him backward. Teddy’s back bent backward and nearly broke from the pressure. Zono drooled with pleasure.

 

Teddy clenched his jaw with pain as he tried to fight back. He managed to swing his legs out from under him and roll backward while kicking the villain upside the head. Teddy gained footing and pounced forward, slamming a double-jump sidekick against the villain.

 

Zono laughed, spraying spittle from his maw. “I am Sulankree. You can not kill me.”

 

“You’re talking to a Ranger whose first battle was in hell,” Teddy said as sonic energy started to vibrate around him. He rolled his hands into fists and called upon his power. Crackling spheres of white power formed around his fists. “Let me show you something I learned there…Sonic Force!”

 

Teddy thrust his hands forward, launching a crackling sphere of white sonic energy that exploded against the center of Zono, tearing the wolf apart as the blasts shockwave and vibrations grinded the villain to ash.

 

***

 

The Riders and Titan warriors continued their assault on the enemy garrison.

 

Grifalzor pressed forward his attack against the four-armed Verox. The Titan’s blades were a blur of motion, twirling in arcs and circles while clashing against the villain’s arms. The Verox managed to block each strike with precision.

 

Grifalzor snarled with frustration. He dashed forward and slammed a full-body tackle against the Verox. The villain crashed to the ground as Grifalzor drove his knees into the bounty hunter’s chest.

 

“Why won’t you die!” he shouted as he jammed his longknives through the villain’s collar. He twisted and pulled with all his strength, tearing through wiring and ripping through circuitry.

 

The four-armed Verox grabbed Grifalzor by the arm and threw him aside like a rag doll. Grifalzor slammed against a wall and dropped to the ground.

 

The Verox opened fire with arm-mounted pulse cannons that exploded against the Titan’s armor and knocked him backward.

 

Meanwhile, deeper inside the compound, Ryuuki and Kuuga battled the cybernetic jackal in the security room.

 

Kamen Rider Ryuuki knocked the jackal’s arms aside and slammed a palm-heel strike against the villain’s chest. Ryuuki spun forward with a reverse sidekick that bashed against the jackal’s body, sending the villain crashing onto a control panel.

 

The jackal quickly flipped back onto its feet and extended its arms. Concealed forearm blasters opened fire with orange energy darts that exploded against the Kamen Rider’s arm.

 

Kuuga leapt to his friend’s aide with a flying sidekick that bashed against the jackal’s head. The jackal stumbled backward as Kuuga continued his advance. Kuuga slammed two punches against the jackal’s chest, crushing the villain’s ribs. The Kamen Rider slammed a spinning heel kick across the villain’s head, smashing the side of the jackal’s skull.

 

The jackal’s backup cybernetic programs activated. A mechanical whine hissed from the creature’s body as the villain’s wounds started to heal.

 

The two Riders somersaulted forward through the air while swinging their legs down towards the jackal.

 

“Rider kick!” they shouted.

 

Their energized drop kicks slammed against the jackal and sent the villain flying off his feet. The jackal slammed against the wall as his body cracked. Sparks erupted from the villain’s flesh as he collapsed to the ground in a dead heap.

 

“Quickly,” Ryuuki said as he moved to the control panel. “We must let the others into the compound.”

 

Kuuga watched Ryuuki’s back to make sure no more intruders tried to surprise attack them.

 

Ryuuki made the appropriate changes to the security protocols to let the rest of their strike team enter the compound.

 

On top of the compound, Kamen Rider Black slid into the main turbolift shaft and started downward, hopping from side to side along the chamber as he controlled his descent.

 

Black Sun slammed through the entrance to a high-level corridor in  the compound. He hit the ground in a somersault and rolled into a crouched fighting position. He was alone. Or so he thought.

 

Applause came from the shadows. A slender man stepped forward. He was dressed in a black body suit and had black-and-white wings extending from his back. His slender face was pale white. His blonde hair was parted down the center. He smiled, revealing a pair of fangs. He stared at the Rider through red eyes.

 

“Well played,” the stranger said. “I’ve been expecting a raid on the compound, I just never expected such speed and efficiency.”

 

Black Sun stayed silent. He was never prone to banter.

 

“I am Nuwai,” he said. “As you have guessed, I am in control of the occupation forces.”

 

Kamen Rider Black said nothing.

 

Nuwai sighed. “Very well,” he said as he extended his hand. A double-edge sword appeared. The blade had a white gem fixed on its pummel.

 

Kamen Rider sprang forward with a jumpkick. Nuwai used his wings to hover backward and avoid the strike. Nuwai swung his blade through a backhand strike that thrashed across Black Sun’s armor, sparking on impact.

 

***

 

The commandeered Zztazian vessel blasted through hyperspace en route to the coordinates supplied by the memory dump. They were headed towards Halcaron, a world of libraries and information centers.

 

Sauron’s orders were to help cut off the refugee convoy’s escape vector from the planet. Xon planned to help the convoy to safety instead.

 

The Zztazian ship speared back into real space behind an enemy blockade-- a squadron of Jext fighters.  

 

In the distance, more than a dozen bulk transports limped away from their world to escape. They crawled towards the blockade, having no other choice but to hope at least one of their number could break free.

 

Xon sat in a command chair he set up in the Zztazian furnace room. The ship lacked a central bridge, so Xon and his crew had to make one.

 

“We’re approaching the rear of the blockade,” one of his men reported.

 

“What’s the status of the refugee transports?” Xon asked.

 

“The convoy is closing in on the blockage, just outside of weapons’ range. They’re heavily damaged,” the crewman reported. “They’re only armed with a few plasma cannons each.”

 

“Target the lead ship’s engines,” Xon ordered. “Prepare to open fire, then break off and target the lead’s starboard wingmen.”

 

The Zztazian ship moved forward as if to join the blockade. Xon’s weapon officer Korag zeroed the ship’s targeting scanners onto the lead ship’s engine assembly.

 

“Fire,” Xon ordered.

 

Xon’s captured vessel opened fire with pulses of green energy that slammed against the Jext ship’s aft shields. The enemy ship’s shields flickered blue as their power started to drop from the disruptor barrage. 

 

The enemy ship’s shields buckled as disruptor blasts tore through the engine assembly. The aft section of the ship burst into flame as the vessel exploded with a final flash of energy. The shockwave knocked the enemy ship’s two wing mates off course.

 

Xon’s ship opened fire with darts of green energy that exploded against a second enemy ship’s shields.

 

The blockade scattered. Half the ships flew around in a loop, heading on an attack vector to stop Xon. The other enemy vessel launched forward to attack the convoy.

 

The transports’ plasma cannons opened fire on the incoming ships. Lances of red energy shot forth and splashed across the approaching ships’ shields. The enemy ships opened fire, spraying darts of blue energy that tore across the side of a transport’s hall, ripping apart armor and vaporizing bulkheads.

 

Xon watched the enemy ships attack the transport through the portable view screen hooked up to his chair.

 

“Korag, concussion missiles. Target the attacking ships,” Xon ordered.

 

Xon rocked in his chair as a enemy ships fired a barrage of blue energy darts that exploded across his vessel’s dorsal shield.

 

One of his crewmen reported from a makeshift sensor station. “Five ships are coming towards us in a pincer movement.”

 

“Hard to port,” Xon ordered. “Fire all disruptor banks, dispersal pattern Maco 1.”

 

Xon’s vessel weaved to its port side and sprayed green energy darts at the approaching enemy vessels. The disruptors splashed against enemy shields, causing the deflectors to flicker with blue energy.

 

The enemy ships returned fire, spraying blue energy blast’s that flashed against the Zztazian ship’s shields. The pirated vessel arced past the attacking ships while its shields were pounded at by the enemy.

 

Korag triggered a volley of concussion missiles. The missiles streaked through space like white-hot comets, slamming against the enemy ships that were attacking the convoy.

 

Xon rocked in his seat again as a dozen blasts slammed against his ship.

 

“Our shields are down to 10 percent,” a crewman reported. “Six Jext vessels are regrouping and coming in from behind.”

 

Xon checked his wrist chronometer. Everything was on schedule.

 

“Full ahead,” he said. “Target the ships attacking the convoy, all weapons.”

 

Three Jext ships arced over a transport and opened fire with rapid-velocity pulse cannons. The pulse cannons tore through the massive cruiser’s hull. The transport started to fall apart at the seams when its engines overloaded and exploded, consuming the vessel with flame.

 

Xon rocked in his chair again as the enemy vessels closed in from behind.

 

A second ship suddenly burst into realspace behind the attackers. It was Xon’s ship, operated by a skeleton crew. The ship’s navigational computers were slaved to Xon’s pirated vessel before leaving Fawrn.

 

The ship opened fire with lances of red energy that exploded against the Jext ships from behind.

 

 ***

 

Light streaked down from a tunnel ahead of Silver and the rangers. They entered a cavern surrounded by various breaks and crevices that led straight down towards the planet’s core. Heat made several corridors of wind that flowed around the room and through several different tunnels.

 

The rangers spotted three spheres of iron bars.

 

“We’re here,” Tommy said.

 

Silver nodded. “Those spheres are used to ride the tunnels. We can be at the other side of the planet in less than an hour.”

 

The rangers didn’t notice a light fog creep into the cavern. The fog slowly started to take shape behind Tommy.

 

***

 

Grifalzor’s men had moved forward into the lower levels of the compound, an onslaute of blades, teeth, and fangs.

 

Grifalzor stayed behind to finish off the four-armed Verox. He did not want to leave an undefeated enemy behind.

 

Grifalzor snarled. “Come on, you walking tin can!”

 

Verox swung all four fists towards the Titan warrior. Grifalzor sidestepped while slashing aside the arms with his right longkinife and cutting across the villain’s back with his left long knife. Verox snapped two of his arms around, slamming two backfists across Grifalzor’s body and knocking the simian off his feet.

 

Verox pounced forward to crash his feet on top of the simian. Grifalzor kicked up his feet and smashed his heels against the bounty hunter.

 

Grifalzor spread his wings to hop back onto his feet. The Titan used his wings to spring forward and slam against the Verox while driving his long knives through the villain’s chest.

 

“Just die!” Grifalzor twisted the blades and pulled his weapons back and forth while ripping through wires and circuitry.

 

The Verox used its four fists to punch Grifalzor against his side, but the Titan kept twisting his weapons. The harder Verox struck, the more Grifalzor twisted. Dents formed in the simian’s armor and several of his ribs cracked.

 

“Die! Die! Die!” Grifalzor shouted.

 

Sparks ripped through Verox as its systems overloaded and exploded. Th evillain collapsed into a dead heap.

 

Meanwhile, Kuuga and Ryuuki moved to the rendezvous point deeper in the compound. But kamen Rider Black was nowhere in sight.

 

“He should have been here by now,” Ryuuki said.

 

Kuuga shimmered with energy and transformed into his green armor. He used his sky armor’s sensors like sonar to locate Kamen Rider Black.

 

“This way,” Kuuga said as he led Ryuuki further down the corridor.

 

The passage in front of them suddenly ripped open with a massive explosion, creating a shockwave that knocked the Riders backward.

 

Kamen Rider Black’s body flew from the smoke, crashed against the ground, and slid back towards the other Riders.

 

Nuwai stepped forward from the flames with his sword held in front of him. “Three of you? How wonderful…”

 

Kuuga rose back to his feet as energy rippled across his armor. His eyes turned deep purple as gold-trimmed silver armor formed around his chest. Kuuga was in his nearly unstoppable Titan form.

 

Kuuga slowly walked towards the villain.

 

Nuwai extended his hands and launched bolts of white-hot energy. The energy exploded repeatedly against Kuuga’s armor, but the Rider kept moving forward. The villain snarled as Kuuga kept coming.

 

Kuuga swung a powerful punch that crashed against the villain and sent him shooting down the corridor. Nuwai tried to use his wings to steady himself, but kept stumbling out of control before slamming against a wall.

 

The villain rose to his feet. The white gem on his blade started to glow. He chopped the sword downward, creating a shockwave that tore towards the three Riders. They had little room to leap aside.

 

Ryuuki armed his arm gauntlet and aimed the weapon forward. “Rider flare!”

 

A stream of ire poured from the gauntlet and cut through the villain’s energy attack. The flare exploded against the enemy’s sword and shattered the white gem.

 

Black rose back to his feet and sprang forward to attack. He leapt through the air with a somersault while swinging his legs down towards the villain. “Rider Kick!” His kick energized with crimson power and slammed against the villain.

 

Nuwai slammed against the wall and slumped downward before breathing his final breath.

 

Meanwhile, Grifalzor’s group broke the emperor free from the brig while Grifalzor himself moved to the garrison’s weapon platform.

 

Enemy reinforcements were coming.

 

Grifalzor sat in an enemy gun pod and aimed a quad-barreled turbo laser forward towards a squadron of dropships landing in the distance. Each drop ship was shaped like a  drill.

 

“Die!” Grifalzor shouted as he opened fire with lances of crimson energy.

 

His initial barrage exploded against a ship’s shields and pierced through while cutting across the vessel’s engine casing. The ship exploded with a massive sphere of flame, creating a shockwave that struck two other ships and tilted them over.

 

Grifalzor opened fire on the other two vessels.

 

Lances of red energy tore through one of the ship’s hulls, buckling armor and tearing through bulkheads.

 

He snarled with pleasure as he opened fire on the next ship.

 

***

 

Xon’s hopes sank.

 

A dozen vessels appeared in the distance. The predator ships belonged to the Red Star organization. They opened fire with spheres of crimson power.

 

The transports opened fire with energy darts that splashed harmlessly off the enemy ship’s shields.

 

Red energy spheres ripped through the refugee transports. The spheres exploded with a fierce amount of power that ripped each transport in two. Secondary explosions ravaged what was left of the ships. The vessels’ engine cores overloaded and exploded.

 

Xon’s face grew even more pale as the enemy ships’ approached his.

 

To be continued...Chapter 29