Rangers in Space: Chapter Twenty-nine

Countdown to Destruction: Two

 

Tommy snapped around as the fog took shape. The humanoid was covered in thick black and silver armor. Wires hung from his head instead of hair. It appeared to be a cyborg, or tech-armored soldier of some kind. It’s name was Smah’oke.

 

Tommy jump reverse sidekicked Smah’oke in the chest, spun and followed with a spinning heel kick across the soldier’s face. Smah’oke launched a jump kick that Tommy blocked, and followed with a flurry of high-speed punches. Tommy was taken aback as he parried and blocked the blows.

 

Smah’oke snapped a roundkick towards Tommy’s head. Tommy ducked underneath the blow, sidekicked Smah’oke in the back, hook kicked the cyborg across the head, and roundkicked the villain in the face plate. He followed with a spinning heel kick that slammed across Smah’oke’s helmet.

 

A pack of Gritchin charged towards the other rangers.

 

One of the soldiers swung a jagged blade towards Teddy’s head. Teddy grabbed the villain’s wrist with one hand while thrusting his dagger through the soldier’s chest. Teddy pulled his dagger free and slammed a reverse sidekick against the villain’s chest.

 

Meanwhile Smah’oke snapped two round kick towards Tommy’s side that the ranger blocked. Each blow slammed against his arm and knocked him closer towards the side of the cavern walls.

 

Tommy leapt back onto the wall and pushed off while spinning a heel kick across the villain’s head. Tommy landed and kicked the side of the villain’s knee before slamming the back of his fist across the villain’s helmet.

 

Smah’oke twisted with the blow to soften its impact.

 

Nearby, Rocky backhand slashed his long knife through a soldier’s throat while swinging his other blade upward through a second villain’s chest.

 

Smah’oke swung a hook punch towards Tommy’s head. Tommy blocked the blow and stepped forward with a sidekick to the villain’s chest, and a sidekick against the villain’s faceplate.

 

Smah’oke stumbled backward. Tommy moved forward, grabbed the wires on the villain’s head, and pulled downward while lifting his knee, smashing the warrior’s face against knee.

 

Adam jump roundkicked a soldier’s head, smashing its skull. He landed and ran his saber across a second soldier’s chest.

 

Tommy slammed his elbow across Smah’oke’s head. The villain retaliated with an uppercut against Tommy’s gut and a punch that smashed across his face. Tommy crashed backward onto the ground.

 

Smah’oke started kicking at Tommy while the ranger was on the ground. Tommy blocked each blow and slammed a punch against the side of the villain’s knee. The ranger flipped back to his feet while slamming a double kick against the villain’s chest.

 

Meanwhile Billy used his crossbow to shoot down two enemy soldiers. Kimberly was nearby while thrusting her spear through a soldier’s chest.

 

Tommy somersaulted backward through the air while kicking Smah’oke upside the head.

 

Smah’oke stumbled backward. The villain opened a chamber in his armor and a double barrel opened. Smah’oke fired a pair of energy missiles that streaked towards the ranger.

 

“Kiryoku!” Tommy shouted as he placed his palm against his fist and extended his arms forward. He erected an invisible telekinetic barrier. The villain’s energy blast slammed against the barrier, splashing harmlessly on impact.

 

Tommy lowered the barrier and stepped forward.

 

“Burn Knuckle!” he shouted. He swung his energized right fist towards the villain’s faceplate. His energized punch slammed through the villain’s faceplate and caused Smah’oke’s head to explode upon impact.

 

The villain collapsed and his body dissolved.

 

***

 

Drew, Jo, and Roland crouched down behind Neil and Ryan. They were on a Fray’loth rooftop as Machines marched through the streets below.

 

“So what are we supposed to do?” asked Drew, barely a teenager. “Fight this whole army by ourselves? That’s crazy!”

 

Neil glanced back at Drew. “No one made you come.”

 

“I didn’t think there’d be this many of them,” Drew said.

 

“Guys, quiet down,” Ryan said. “We don’t have to defeat the entire army. Just the generals.”

 

Ryan was the oldest of the team. He was also more than human.

 

It all started more than ten years ago with a discovery Ryan’s father made. It was called the Box of Isis. Inside were the secrets to melding man and machine. The secrets to virtual reality. When Ryan was 19, the businessman broke into Ryan’s father’s laboratory and stole the box for himself. In the process, he was transformed into a virtual demon known as Grimlord. Grimlord amassed an army in the virtual world, preparing to break through the reality barrier and enter our world.

 

Ryan was killed when the Box of ISIS was stolen. His father revived him by using the secrets of virtual technology. Through a complex virtual matrix installed in his brain, Ryan became the embodiment of all his father knew and discovered. Ryan became Cybertron. 

 

Neil was more than a year younger than Ryan. The powers of SHOC were a grand experiment by his father. The experiment cost his father’s life.

 

The Beetle Borgs were the youngest of the groups, as well as youngest of Earth’s heroes. They received their powers from a phantasm, who modeled the powers after the Beetle Borg comic series.

 

They noticed Cogs leading a massive group of captives down the street ahead of them. The Fray’loth people appeared cat-like in nature.

 

“This is our chance,” Ryan said. “Neil, you and I will hit them from their lead flanks. Drew, take your team in from behind.”

 

Drew nodded. The group stood, each ready to transform and rescue the slaves.

 

“Data Bonders!” Drew and the other two shouted as they activated their transformation devices. “Beetle Blast!”

 

They thrust their bonders forward. Energy flowed across their bodies as their armor took shape and they transformed into their Borg forms.

 

“Cyberize!” Ryan shouted. Energy thrashed across his body like lightning as he transformed into a virtual suit of armor.

 

Neil transformed into SHOC without a word. Skin-tight black armor formed around his body. Segments of white armor wrapped around his forearms, legs, arms and head. He slapped his hand across his left armor piece to transform into his battle mode.

 

“Samurize Program. Activate Servo.” SHOC became Servo, a superhuman samurai-motiff cyber warrior.

 

Cybertron leapt down towards the Cogs with his hand in the air. “Lightning hand command, now!” His hand energized with blue electricity and swung downward through a Cog while landing, splitting the soldier in two.

 

Cybertron dashed forward while slashing his hand through a second soldier’s chest.

 

A Cog swung its staff towards Cybertron’s head. Cybertron parried the blow and slammed a roundkick against the soldier, knocking the Cog backward. Another trio of Cogs dashed towards him.

 

Cybertron spun forward with a  reverse sidekick that smashed a Cog’s face in. Two Cogs swung their staffs down towards the warrior. Cybertron grabbed both staffs and twisted them aside. He bashed one of them with a  roundkick, and smashed the second Cog with a hook kick.

 

The Borgs moved in.

 

Chromium Gold speared his lancer through a Cog and tossed the soldier aside like a piece of scrap metal. The golden-armored Beetle Borg swung his weapon around and thrashed across a second Cog’s chest.

 

Titanium Silver slammed a punch against a Cog’s chest and crashed his elbow against the back of the Cog’s neck. He drew his sidearm and fired lances of golden energy that exploded against three incoming soldiers.

 

Platinum Purple slammed her knee against a soldier’s chest and brought her elbow down hard against the back of the soldier’s neck.

 

Cybertron suddenly collapsed as what felt like white-hot fire torched his mind.

 

Cogs pounced forward and speared their staffs against the warrior’s chest, sparking on impact as Cybertron fell backward.

 

Cybertron became lost in his own virtual mind. He heard someone speak to him.

 

“You are not like the others,” the voice said. It was Venjix. The Machine’s local general. “You are a Machine. Like we are. Far superior to anything most mortals could aspire to be. You are even more powerful than some of my soldiers.”

 

“Get out of my head!” Ryan shouted. “I defeated an entire virtual army. If you think I’m afraid of you, you’re wrong.”

 

*** 

 

Young Zehk was beneath a ship’s control panels. He was dressed in brown briefs and nothing else. Environmental controls were on the fritz. Sweat covered the boy’s lean body.

 

He grumbled under his breath as he wiped wet hair from his forehead.

 

“I hate this blasted ship!” he shouted as he slammed his fist against the bottom of the panel.

 

Jiiku, the Demon Hunter, called down from the small ship’s bridge. “I said fix the console, not smash it, runt.”

 

“Easy for you to say up on that cool bridge. It’s hotter than the Nine Hells down here,” the boy said.

 

“That’s what you get for breaking environmental controls,” Jiiku answered.

 

Their ship had been attacked by pirates loyal to Sauron. They escaped with a blind warp jump that nearly sent them tumbling into a red giant star. The result was a ship with nearly every system on board fried and damaged.

 

The ship suddenly shuttered, rocking Zehk and Jiiku.

 

“What the-” Zehk shouted as the ship shuttered again.

 

“A tractor beam,” Jiiku said as he clutched onto a green gem. He used the gem to transform into his black and gold Demon Hunter armor. “We’re being bordered. Find someplace to hide.”

 

***

 

“We have to get moving,” Tommy said to the others as he moved towards one of the rigs.

 

“Agreed,” Silver said. “Sauron will open The Portals soon, giving his forces instant access to every planet on the galaxy.”

 

“We should just morph,” Rocky said. “We’re getting attacked every step of the way anyway.”

 

Silver looked back to him. “What you have felt is nothing compared to the forces Sauron would send after you if he could pinpoint our position.”

 

“These would be the same forces we’re going to meet head on,” Rocky said more than asked.

 

“Exactly,” Silver said.

 

“Great,” Rocky said sarcastically.

 

A snake-like tentacle suddenly lashed out and wrapped around Rocky’s ankle, the tentacle whipped back, sending Rocky flying off his feet. The ranger crashed onto a stone bridge that spanned over a seemingly bottomless drop.

 

A warrior landed on the bridge, and the tentacle retreated back into his palm. Leather armor wrapped around the villain’s chest and legs. Tentacles wrapped around his upper and lower arms. He had the eyes of a serpent. The lower half of his face was covered by a mask resembling mandibles.

 

A pack of goblins leapt from a side corridor and charged forward to attack the other rangers.

 

Rocky rose to his feet and snapped into a fighting stance as he faced off with his opponent. “ You must be Scorpwayn,” Rocky said.

 

The villain pounced forward and attacked.

 

Rocky blocked two round kicks and spun forward with a  reverse sidekick that slammed against the villain’s chest. The teen snapped a tornado kick, but the villain blocked the blow and slammed two punches against the ranger’s side before kicking out at his leg.

 

Rocky crashed onto his back.

 

The teen flipped back to his feet while kicking the villain across the head. Rocky pressed forward with a series of kicks, each blow pushing the villain farther back.

 

Scorpwayn knocked the ranger’s leg away and slammed two knifehand strikes against the ranger’s chest before spinning forward with a reverse hook kick that smashed across Rocky’s head.

 

Meanwhile the rangers battled against the goblin soldiers.

 

***

 

Ryan awoke in an underground tunnel. He was surrounded by the cat-like natives of the planets. They were the slaves from earlier. The group had taken refuge in underground tunnels that spanned beneath the city. The planet’s natives had evolved from creatures that lived in the tunnels.

 

Drew walked over to Ryan and kneeled down beside him. The boy looked over his shoulder. “He’s awake!”

 

Ryan sat up while rubbing the back of his head. “What happened.”

 

“You passed out or something,” Drew said. “The slave group led us down here.”

 

Roland, Jo, and Neil stepped forward from the crowd. Neil narrowed his brow at Ryan. “What happened back there? You didn’t even take a hit.”

 

Ryan shook his head. “Venjix…he accessed by neural net somehow.” Ryan could still feel the villain inside of his mind. “He’s tracking me. I have to face him.”

 

The tunnel shuddered from a nearby explosions. The slaves started screaming and searching for cover. The Machines had come for them.

 

Cogs filled the tunnels from both ends.

 

“I have to go,” Ryan said as he ran towards a tunnel exit. He could not fight the compulsion. “Venjix is near.”

 

Neil grumbled beneath his breath. “Some help he is…”

 

The slave started to scatter as the Cogs came closer.

 

Neil transformed into SHOC without a word. Skin-tight black armor formed around his body. Segments of white armor wrapped around his forearms, legs, arms and head. He slapped his hand across his left armor piece to transform into his battle mode.

 

“Samurize Program. Activate Servo.” SHOC became Servo, a superhuman samurai-motif cyber warrior.

 

“Data Bonders!” Drew and the other two shouted as they activated their transformation devices. “Beetle Blast!”

 

They thrust their bonders forward. Energy flowed across their bodies as their armor took shape and they transformed into their Borg forms.

 

Meanwhile, Ryan climbed to the streets above. Venjix stood alongside a squad of Cogs. Venjix was covered in black insect-like armor. The Machine’s red eyes started to glow beneath its black faceplate. 

 

“Cyberize!” Ryan shouted. Energy thrashed across his body like lightning as he transformed into a virtual suit of armor.

 

“Magnificent,” Venjix said as he admired Ryan’s transformation. “You are a work of genius. A masterpiece.”

 

“I’m flattered,” Cybertron said sarcastically as he charged forward to attack. 

 

Cybertron and Venjix charged at one another. Cybertron slammed a jump sidekick against the villain’s chest armor. The cyborg spun forward with a roundkick slamming against the villain’s side and a punch to the faceplate.

 

***

 

The Galaxy Rangers had grouped with a team called the Avataars on Avalon. The heroes had trekked through the planet’s wilderness to an old, dark castle near the ocean. Divatox was using the castle for her garrison.

 

The lead Avataar was dressed in a suit of silver armor with blue garments covering it. He had long blonde hair and a blonde goatee, as well as a blue and silver shield strung over his left arm. His name was St’vaan, and he was Capt. Avalon.

 

The man behind St’vaan was covered in a light suit of black armor, and his body was covered in flames. His name was Skorch.

 

The third was a woman dressed in intricate red robes of silk. She was known as Witchfire.

 

The fourth man was covered in blue robes, and his skin was pale blue with lines of wrinkles all along his face. His hair was as pure white as his empty eyes. His name was Swift.

 

The final member of the group was the purple-robed archer named Blackthorn.

 

The heroes watched a group of Piranatrons patrol the outer perimeter of the castle. The fish-like creatures were covered in scaly armor.

 

Ryouma looked to his teammates. “Get ready guys…” Ryouma, Hayate, Hikaru, Saya, and Gouki tightened their grips on their Seijuukin swords. Hyuuga held the sword of KuroKishi at the ready.

 

The six warriors were natives of the hidden Ginga Forest on earth. The Ginga Forest was secluded in the woods north of Stone Canyon, and south of Angel Grove. They were the chosen warriors of their tribe, chosen to defeat the space pirates Balban who had risen from the sea.        

 

“Now,” Capt. Avalon said.

 

Blackthorn snapped a volley of arrows that sliced through a group of Piranatrons before exploding with bursts of light, blinding the rest of the grunts. 

 

Swift shot forward in a streak of motion, using his super speed to bash aside several dozen of the villains.

 

Skorch and Witchfire pounced forward from their cover and attacked with a torrent if flame that ripped through several of the creatures. Capt. Avalon used their attack for cover as he charged forward to attack with his shield in hand.

 

The rangers ran alongside Capt. Avalon as they made their way towards the castle door.

 

A bolt of lightning slammed to the ground in front of Capt. Avalon and the rangers. The shockwave knocked the heroes off their feet.

 

Ryouma and the others slowly rose to their knees and looked up to see one of Divatox’s monsters guarding the castle door. The villain’s muscular body was covered in shining dark-purple skin. The creature had a double-edged sword and dagger for weapons. The monster’s eyes were deep yellow, matching the color of the spikes rising across its head. The villain had no other facial features.

 

Ryouma and the others armed their braces. “Galaxy Transform!” they shouted as they slapped their braces’ activation panels. “Ha!”

 

Columns of their elemental energy circled around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms and snapped into animal-like fighting stances.

 

Hyuuga held his blade high. “Knight Rebirth!” Strands of green energy lashed out from the sword’s hilt and circled around him, morphing him into the black armor of KuroKishi.

 

They snapped into fighting stances and shouted their names.

 

“Galaxy Red! Ryouma!”

 

“Galaxy Green! Hayate!”

 

“Galaxy Blue!” Gouki!”

 

“Galaxy Yellow! Hikaru!”

 

“Galaxy Pink! Saya!”

 

“KuroKishi! Hyuuga!”

 

Galaxy Red thrust his hand forward. “The sword of legend cuts through the galaxy…Star Beast Task Force…”

 

“…Galaxy Rangers!” they shouted together while snapping into beast-like fighting stances.

 

The monster fired jagged bursts of purple lightning that exploded around the Rangers with bursts of spark as they rolled for cover.

 

“Seijuukin!” Galaxy Red shouted as he unsheathed his sword and pounced like a lion towards the monster.

 

The Red Ranger swung his blade downward towards the monster’s head. The villain fired jagged bursts of lightning from his eyes. The optic blasts exploded against the Ranger’s armor with a burst of spark that knocked him from the air.

 

KuroKishi armed his rifle and fired bursts of green energy that exploded against the monster.

 

The other Rangers regrouped around Galaxy Red as he rose to his feet. The villain fired a concentrated burst of energy that exploded against the five Rangers, knocking them backward.

 

The Rangers rose to their feet. They stood in formation and thrust their arms upward. “Lights of Orion, activate!”

 

Golden energy wrapped around the Rangers as they activated their Orion armor.

 

The five Rangers charged forward. The monster fired jagged energy blasts that exploded around the Rangers. The team kept charging forward as sparks blasted around them.

 

Galaxy Green leapt forward through the air and slashed the monster across the chest, blade sparking on impact.

 

Galaxy Pink and Galaxy Yellow spun past the villain while swinging their blades horizontally. Their swords thrashed across the monster with a burst of spark.

 

Galaxy Blue faced the monster head on. The Blue Ranger smashed his claw gauntlet against the monster with a fierce punch that sparked on impact. The villain stumbled backward.

 

Galaxy Red flipped forward with his dagger and sword. He swung outward in an ’x’ pattern that thrashed across the monster’s body with a burst of spark.

 

The monster crashed against the ground and rolled back onto his knees. Energy crackled around the villain as he powered up. Yellow spikes protruded along his forearms, elbows, and legs. Two large spikes protruded from his chest.

 

The villain sprang forward and grabbed Galaxy Blue and Galaxy Red by their throats. The monster sent volts of energy pouring from its hand. The volts exploded across the Ranger’s bodies, sparks thrashing across their armor as strands of energy danced across them.

 

***   

 

Rocky blocked a flurry of five punches while taking steps back across the stone bridge. He ducked under a sixth punch and spun past the villain while slamming an elbow against the creature’s ribs. Scorpwayn snapped around and slammed a hook kick across Rocky’s head.

 

Rocky crashed against the bridge hard, causing the stone to crack and start splitting in the center.

 

“Great…” Rocky muttered to himself while flipping back to his feet and slamming a kick across the villain’s head. Rocky followed with a series of tornado kicks, forcing the villain backward, and smashing his heel across the creature’s skull repeatedly.

 

Scorpwayn blocked the last kick and slammed a palm heel strike against the ranger’s chest. Rocky went skidding backward towards his end of the stone bridge.

 

Scorpwayn stood on the other side of the bridge’s crack. He slammed his foot down on Rocky’s side hard. Rocky’s side of the bridge snapped free like a catapult and sent Rocky flying forward through the air.

 

Scorpwayn leapt over the crevice to tackle against Rocky, but Rocky slammed a kick and punch against the villain, knocking the creature downward and gaining enough footing to flip and land safely on the other side of the bridge.

 

Scorpwayn used his tendrils like a grappling hook and reeled himself up to the small opening where the bridge used to connect to the cliff. Support beams held the ground above steady.

 

Rocky sprang forward and landed on the opposite side of the cliff. He leapt downward and spun while slamming his feet against the villain and landing in the small opening. Rocky slammed a round kick against the villain’s gut and followed with a spinning heel kick against the  villain’s head.

 

Rocky thrust his hands forward. “Gravity well!” A cyclone of gravity power shot forth from Rocky’s hands and slammed against the villain, creating a massive shockwave that shook the cavern and tore the villain apart with a burst of cyan-tinted energy.

 

***

 

Cybertron slammed a jump sidekick against the villain’s chest armor. The cyborg spun forward with a roundkick slamming against the villain’s side and a punch to the faceplate.

 

Cybertron leaned forward with a cross punch aimed for the villain’s head. Venjix grabbed the cyborg by the wrist, energized his right fist, and slammed the fist through Cybertron’s gut. Cybertron screamed as explosions sparked across his body and caused his systems to overload.

 

Cybertron fell backward. Venjix stared down at the cyborg. “Join me…Only I can teach you your full potential.”

 

Static filled Cybertron’s vision.

 

***

 

The planet Kazahnog was covered pole to pole with industry. The world was just outside of Confederation space. Sauron had targeted the world with a massive strike force. 

 

Attack wings of nimble but maneuverable Vadwar fighters had strafed the world’s orbital defenses while massive Quinlan bulk cruisers bombarded the world’s shield grid with massive bursts of plasma and neutron energy.

 

Troop ships had dropped Quinlan soldiers onto the planet’s surface. Each caste in the Quinlan race was genetically engineered for a certain task. The soldiers were bred for destruction. Each was armed head to toe in light suits of gray armor covered in war paint. The only visible parts of their bodies were their eerie green eyes.

 

They spread across the planet’s streets and used boomerang-shaped blades bigger than their arms to slash through anything that moved.

 

The Talion Justice Nolan, former cadet Tarrant, and former prisoner Shara stood with their backs towards one another as Quinlan soldiers charged at them from all directions.

 

Nolan summoned his tsicaant and raised the blade in a fighting stance.

 

Tarrant opened his eyes wide with fear. “There’s no way we can beat them all.”

 

“No…” Nolan said as the villains continued their advance. “But we can kill many before we die.”

 

Nolan charged forward into battle. He parried a soldier’s blow and slashed that soldier across the chest while spinning forward and slamming a hook kick across a second soldier’s head.

 

Tarrant and Shara armed their blasters and started firing bolts of super-heated plasma, each blast exploding against a soldier with a burst of spark, burning through armor and tearing apart bodies.

 

***

 

Silver and the rangers piled into rig. The rig was designed so they could stand upright on the cage while it rolled through the planet’s underground shafts at frightening speeds.

 

“So…” Rocky said as he looked over the rig. “How exactly does this thing-”

 

Silver kicked the rig’s side, causing the sphere to tumble downward towards the crevice below.

 

The rig started through caverns and tunnels, propelled by wind generated from the heat of the planets core. The end of the trip would practically get them to Sauron’s doorstep.

 

Tommy was suddenly pulled onto the Astral Plane, surrounded by nothing but white light in all directions. The only thing he heard was the beating of his own heart.

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. It was the Dark Man.

 

“Going for the white light theme again?” Tommy asked.

 

The Dark Man laughed from somewhere hidden on the endless plane. “This is easier then stepping onto that infernal contraption you and your friends are riding in.”

 

“It seems to get the job done,” Tommy said. “That it does…”

 

“Yes,” Dark Man said. “Now enough with the pleasantries. Are you prepared to face Sauron?”

 

“You know I am,” Tommy said firmly. “Why?”

 

“Because you must be fully prepared to do whatever it takes,” the Dark Man said. “If you hold back, the galaxy will belong to the Dark Monarch. None of your allies will survive.”

 

Images flashed before the Astral Plane. The Turbo Rangers battling spider creatures on Triforia, the scattered Katana fleet, the Galaxy Rangers being beaten by Divatox’s forces, Cybertron at the edge of death, the Kamen Riders on war-torn Titan, Xon, Nolan, Tarrant, Demon Hunter, Astronema…his sister.

 

“They are all depending on you Tommy,” the Dark Man said. “Try not to let them down.”

 

The Countdown continues…Chapter Thirty