Rangers in Space: Chapter Thirty

Countdown to Destruction: One

 

The Megaship dropped out of hyperspace in the Rigel Expanse. A combined Vingian and Sedementarian battle fleet formed a blockade around one of the Coalition’s space stations.

 

Cy and the other Astros, except for Tommy, manned their stations on the dimly lit bridge. Chris did a quick sensor sweep of the system with the Megaship’s damaged sensors.

 

“I’m picking up 40 life signs on that station, only 15 are Rigelian, the rest are Zentron clones,” Chris reported. His face grew pale. “The station’s compliment was originally 110.”

 

Justin’s tactical console lit up. “We’re being targeted.”

 

“Polarize the hull plating,” Cy said. “Evasive pattern K-Epsilon. Target the lead Vingian ships and fire.”

 

Zhane piloted the ship through a tight dive as blasts of green disrupters and fiery-orange neutron pulse cannons shot forth from the enemy ships’ weapon banks. The blasts streaked past the Megaship’s hull.

 

Justin locked the ship’s targeting scanners onto the lead pair of Vingian ships. He targeted Megalasers and plasma cannons on the nimble ships’ structural weak points. Vingian vessels were far easier to destroy than the heavy Sedementarian cruisers.

 

Justin triggered the ship’s Megalasers and plasma cannons. Darts of blue and red energy sprayed from the ship’s turrets and exploded against the Vingian ships’ shields.

 

***

 

Silver and the rangers had reached their destination. They regrouped within the surface ruins of Eltar as red and purple lightning scorched the skies above. Silver looked up and narrowed her brow with concern. “We are almost out of time. The portals will soon open.”

 

Tommy shook his head. “We can’t let that happen…”

 

Sauron’s palace rose towards the sky like a jagged black needle in the distance. The rangers reached a high point on a pile of rubble and looked out towards the palace. Countless creatures and soldiers were assembled, ready to spread across the entire galaxy like a plague.

 

“So now what?” Rocky asked.

 

“A frontal attack on the palace,” Tommy said. “We’ll give Silver enough time to round up the rest of the resistance on this side of Eltar. They’ll come in over the west bend and turn the soldiers’ flank.”

 

Billy scoffed. “A frontal assault is insane.”

 

“You’re forgetting what we’re capable of,” Tommy said. “Besides, we don’t have to take out every soldier, we just have to get through them all and to the palace to face to get rid of Sauron. If he dies, his soldiers die with him.”

 

Silver nodded. “You are right. And Sauron will be assuming humanoid form to lead his troops into battle. You will have to face him in direct combat.”

 

Tommy nodded and readied his wrist braces. He narrowed his eyes at the palace in the distance. “Let’s finish this…It’s morphin time!”

 

“Chakra ignite, Aura Power!” Energy shimmered around them as they connected their braces and morphed into their Ranger forms. The Rangers energized and sprang forward through the air with streaks of energy.

 

The Rangers landed on the ground and dashed forward towards the palace in the distance.

 

The eye of Sauron flared with black flame. Countless ogres and goblins spilled across the war-torn landscape and charged towards the Rangers to attack.

 

The Rangers focused on long-range attacks to break up the sheet of approaching grunts’ density and speed.

 

Phoenix Ranger armed a bow and arrow of pink energy. “Celestial Arrow!”

 

She snapped the arrow. The arrow shot forward with a streak of light and exploded in the midst of the enemy soldiers. The massive shockwave incinerated hundreds of soldiers instantly and wounded even more while tearing through the dirt and expanding with blinding power.

 

Lion Ranger unsheathed his Thunder Sword and channeled pale-green light through the weapon. “Lightning Bolt, strike!”

 

Lion Ranger swung his sword horizontally, creating a streaming comet of blinding white light and pale-green energy. The comet blasted through more than a hundred soldiers before exploding against the ground, creating a massive shockwave of light that incinerated hundreds of soldiers, turning them into ash. The shockwave expanded while blasting upward towards the skies like a cyclone of light and power.

 

Tenma Ranger twirled his Thunder Staff before slamming the weapon against the ground. “Iron Rock Crusher!”

 

A rolling sphere of white-hot energy tore through the ground and shot towards the soldiers while kicking up debris and dirt. The sphere smashed through the soldiers, pulverizing them on contact, before exploding in the center of their rank. The shockwave expanded and rolled violently while demolishing everything in its path. Secondary blasts of energy shot from the explosion like lightning and exploded across the ground.

 

Kirin Ranger thrust his hand forward. “Time Crisis!”

 

A massive distortion wave burst forth from the Yellow Ranger’s palm, rippling through the soldiers and tearing them apart before exploding. The shockwave lashed out with white lightning and electricity that caused massive secondary explosions to incinerate the enemy ranks.

 

Kiba Ranger thrust his White Tiger Saber forward. “Sound Bite!”

 

His attack was not as strong as the others, but it was still effective. A jagged burst of white sonic energy shot forth and exploded among the approaching soldiers with a massive burst of white energy, and a vibration that shook the ground for miles.

 

Dragon Ranger armed his Twin Dragon swords and energized the blades with crimson fire. “Wildfire Flare!”

 

Dragon Ranger chopped the blades downward, shooting two flares forward that punctured through the army and tore past them like comets before exploding. The blasts exploded with massive columns of flame and white-hot energy that rolled like cyclones of fire and incinerated everything that moved.

 

The enemy ranks were thinned with massive gaps in their formation, which the six Rangers took advantage of while charging forward into battle.

 

Dragon Ranger slammed a double sidekick against a ogre’s chest and landed on the fallen villain before somersaulting forward through the air. The Red Ranger ran his blade through two soldiers’ necks before landing, and snapping a spinning heel kick against another soldier’s head.

 

The Red Ranger pressed forward, blades whirling while cracking against armor and biting through flesh. He kept moving, not wanting to give the horde of enemy soldiers a chance to reorganize.

 

***

 

Jason Scott stood on the roof of a six-story building in Angel Grove at night. His arms were crossed over his chest as he stared across the street. He knitted his brow with concern.

 

One of the city’s shelters was beneath the streets. Jason doubted he could protect all the shelters if Astronema launched another all-out attack. The task would have been impossible even if all the Rangers and heroes had stayed on earth instead of venturing out on their own missions.

 

How was he supposed to chose which shelters to protect? How could he chose who lived and who died.

 

Trini arrived on the rooftop without making a sound. She walked towards Jason. The white hood and mask of her ninja outfit were pulled back so her dark hair fell to her shoulders.

 

“It’s done,” Trini said. “Richie and I managed to free everyone from the eastern slave pin. Jonathan and Zack are getting them into the shelter.”

 

Jason nodded. “Good…Let’s regroup and figure out where to hit Astronema next.”

 

***   

 

Astronema’s Dark Fortress hung over the city streets. Countless Quantrons and Craterites secured her hold over Angel Grove, along with several other major cities across the globe.

 

Astronema stood on the command deck of her fortress. She watched through her view screen as Zack and Jonathan helped a group of civilians into the lair. An evil grin creased her pale face.

 

“Eclipter…” Astronema said to her android soldier. “Take a Psycho-Gene Beast to the surface. Start wiping these shelters out one by one.”

 

***

 

A plasma conduit exploded behind a starboard station on the Megaship. Enemy fire slammed against the ship’s hull, tearing at the already damaged vessel piece by piece.”

 

“We need a new plan,” Justin said as he triggered another round of fire from the Megalasers and plasma cannons.

 

The Megaship shook from another impact as emergency lights continued to flash across the dimly-lit bridge.

 

Zhane looked to Cy. “You guys get on the station and free the soldiers. I’ll pilot the Megaship and come back for you.”

 

The plan was risky, but no one had time to argue.

 

“Well,” Ashley said as the Megaship shook from another impact. “What are we waiting for?”

 

***

 

Tenma Ranger bashed a nunchuku across a goblin’s head while spinning forward with a heel kick that smashed the skull of an ogre. The Blue Ranger continued forward. He jumped against a soldier’s chest and stepped over the ogre while kicking the grunt in the back of the head. Tenma Ranger jumped off and swung his nunchuku down hard while landing, crushing the heads of two goblins.

 

Above, massive vortices of swirling energy started to open as lightning and thunder intensified. Sauron was activating the portals.

 

Lion Ranger jammed his left elbow against an ogre’s chest. The ogre keeled over in pain, and Lion Ranger used his right arm to chop his Star Cutter down through the grunt’s neck, decapitating the soldier.

 

Kirin Ranger spun forward and slammed a palm-heel strike against a grunt’s chest. The Yellow Ranger paused his assault and looked up towards the skies. “We’re not moving fast enough.”

 

Dragon Ranger ran his blade through an ogre’s chest. “You’re not moving at all,” the Red Ranger said. “Shut up and go.”

 

Phoenix Ranger and Kiba Ranger were at a rear guard position. The Rangers rotated the position to make sure the enemy soldiers did not close in on them completely from behind.

 

The Pink Ranger snapped an outer-crescent kick that smashed a goblin’s head in. She armed her Star Blade and slashed another grunt down before it could attack.

 

The Rangers continued forward towards the palace. The Power fueled them as they battled more grunts than ever before. Dragon Ranger kept his sites focused on the palace.

 

What looked like a needle from afar was actually a complex spire with wide staircases and various levels extending upward.

 

The eye of Sauron at the top of the spire pulsed with black flame. Sauron’s helmet from countless eons ago materialized in front of the eye. The long helmet was terrifying, Parts of the helmet protruded upward like daggers. Parts of the faceplate were slit to make the helmet look like the skull of a long-dead race.

 

Dragon Ranger cursed beneath his breath and kept moving forward.

 

***

 

Eclipter materialized on the streets of Angel Grove along with a Psych-gene beast. The creature resembled a red-armored crab in design, with powerful pincers that also functioned as energy blasters.

 

An army of Quantrons and Craterites formed up around the two villains as they stalked towards the nearest shelter.

 

Dozens of throwing stars suddenly shot forward and exploded against the villains with burst of spark. Five streaks of motion landed on the streets between the shelter and the villain. The figure landed in crouched positions, each in ninja uniforms, and each with their backs towards the villains.

 

Jason and his team snapped to their feet and turned to face Eclipter.

 

Jason narrowed his eyes and pointed at the villain. “You’re not getting through to this shelter, Eclipter!”

 

Eclipter was not in the mood for banter. He fired crimson optic blasts that exploded around the rangers as they dove for cover.

 

Jason and the others rolled back to their feet and regrouped while arming their morphers.

 

“Shogun Transform! Ninja Power!” Energy whirled around the team as they morphed into their Ranger forms and snapped into fighting stances.

 

Quantrons and Craterites charged forward towards the five Ninja Rangers. The Rangers were weary from days of fighting soldiers across the city. Days of emptying slave pins. They were worn. But they stood their ground. 

 

“Let’s bag ‘em!” Ninjared shouted as he and the other Ranger charged into battle.

 

Ninjared unsheathed his sword and thrashed through a Quantron while spinning forward, slamming the handle of his weapon across another soldier’s head.

 

A Craterite charged at the Red Ranger from behind and swung a jagged blade towards his collar bone. Ninjared held his blade high and blocked the blow. The Red Ranger twisted the grunt’s sword downward and held it at bay before sidekicking the grunt in the head.

 

Ninjared slammed a spinning heel kick across a soldier’s head before spinning forward and slashing a second soldier across the gut.

 

Ninjablack armed a golden knuckle weapon over his right fist. He slammed his fist against a Quantron’s chest, sparking as the soldier was bashed backward. He swung the back of his fist to his side, bashing across the side of a second soldier’s face.

 

Ninjayellow flipped a Craterite over his shoulder. Yellow Ranger turned while slamming a hook kick across a second soldier’s head. He unsheathed his sword to parry a flurry of slashes from an attacking Quantron.

 

Ninjablue slashed his saber upward across a Craterite’s chest. The sword sparked across the grunt’s chest on impact.

 

A Quantron swung its curved blade towards the Blue Ranger’s back. Ninjablue extended his sword behind his back to block the blow. Ninjablue snapped a kick backward that slammed against the grunt’s face.

 

Ninjawhite dashed through a group of nine Craterites with her slender blade whirling. She parried a blow and slammed her hilt against a soldier’s face while spinning forward with an outer crescent kick that bashed a second soldier aside. She slashed through the next to soldiers in an ‘x’ pattern.

 

Ninjawhite chopped her blade down through a grunt’s head as several more soldiers surrounded her. She turned to her right and slashed her blade through another grunt’s chest. A third Craterite swung its jagged saber towards the White Ranger. Ninjawhite swung upward to parry the blow, and thrashed her blade back down across the grunt’s body. 

 

The Quantrons and Craterites covered Eclipter and the crab monster while the two villains stalked towards the shelter. Eclipter raised his blade towards the structure, and the crab opened it claws to reveal two blasters.

 

“No!” Ninjared shouted as he chopped a Quantron out of his way.

 

Ninjared sprang through the air and angled his descent towards Eclipter. The Red Ranger chopped his blade downward while landing, but Eclipter blocked the blow and slammed a kick against the Ranger’s chest.

 

Ninjared stepped backward and twisted his wrist, swinging his sword through a backhand strike towards Eclipter’s head. Eclipter parried the blow and thrashed his powerful blade across the Red Ranger’s armor, sparking on impact.  

 

The crab monster opened fire with pulse blasts that exploded against the Red Ranger’s chest. Ninjared crashed to the ground.

 

Eclipter placed his foot on the fallen Ranger’s chest. “You Red Rangers are all the same…Foolish.”

 

The android turned his head and fired crimson optic blasts at the shelter.

 

***

 

A Zentron clone soldier slammed the end of his rifle against the back of a Rigelian captive’s neck. The captive collapsed to the ground. The soldier slammed a swift kick against the captive’s chest, which crushed his ribs.

 

The Zentron general named Shola nodded with approval. The clone general was similar to the lesser soldiers, only augmented with six red-eye slits and more muscle. The general was also a few inches taller.

 

“This is what happens to those who try to escape,” Shola said.

 

The captives were held in a dome-shaped chamber within the space station. Two doors on opposite sides of the dome provided the only entrance and exit into the chamber.

 

One of the entrance blasted open with a massive explosion. A dozen Zentron soldiers were knocked backward by the shockwave and skid across the ground.

 

Astro Blue, Astro Pink, and Astro Yellow leapt through the opening with their Astro Snipers in hand.

 

“Knock, knock,” Astro Blue said as he fired lances of blue energy that blasted against Zentron soldiers, sparking on impact.

 

Shola was about to order his men to kill the captives when the other door blasted open with a burst of spark and flame. Astro Red and Astro Black leapt through that opening.

 

The Kerovian Ranger leapt towards Shola to attack. “Drill Saber!” He downloaded his spiral-shaped weapon and swung the blade down towards Shola’s head. 

 

The general grabbed the sword and slammed a punch against the Red Ranger’s gut.

 

The other Rangers moved in. The captives sprang to their feet and tackled their bodies against the soldiers.

 

Astro Black spun forward while swinging his Astro Rod towards the general’s head. The general blocked the blow and slapped the Black Ranger’s staff aside. Shola grabbed Astro Black by the throat and slammed the Ranger’s faceplate against his head hard. Shola tossed the Ranger aside.

 

Astro Pink and Astro Yellow rolled into crouched fighting positions on opposite sides of the general.

 

“Astro Sling!”

 

“Astro Capture!”

 

Astro Yellow fired darts of energy while Astro Pink fired a wave of energy rings. The blasts exploded harmlessly against the general’s armor with bursts of spark.

 

Shola’s eyes flashed with red power. Invisible pulse blasts exploded against Astro Pink and Astro Yellow’s armor with a shower of sparks, knocking the two Rangers backward.

 

***

 

Kiba Ranger chopped his saber down through a goblin’s collar bone and spun forward with a reverse hook kick that smashed an ogre’s head in beneath the White Ranger’s heel.

 

A group of goblins and ogres charged towards the Pink Ranger. Phoenix Ranger front flipped forward and crashed her heels downward across a soldier’s head. She spun forward while slamming a knifehand strike against a grunt, and slammed a jump kick upside another soldier’s head.

 

Phoenix Ranger slowly worked her way through the wave of creatures while launching a flurry of kicks and knifehand chops.

 

Phoenix Ranger pushed forward, but more ogres surrounded her. The Pink Ranger roundkicked a grunt in the side and spun forward, slamming a reverse hook kick across another grunt’s face.

 

Lion Ranger dashed forward through ogres and goblins. He spun past a grunt while knife handing the soldier in the back.

 

The Green Ranger approached another soldier armed with a staff. Lion Ranger low blocked a swing from the staff and swung the same arm up for a backfist strike across the soldier’s head. Lion Ranger turned to his right and blocked another staff before swinging his leg in an outer crescent kick that smashed across the soldier’s head.

 

Lion Ranger kept pushing forward. He rolled across a soldier’s back, landed, and slammed a backfist against the grunt’s face. Green Ranger turned to his left and smashed his fist against the face of a grunt that had moved too close.

 

A soldier chopped it’s staff towards Lion Ranger’s neck. Lion Ranger caught the weapon inches above his shoulders. Green Ranger flipped the staff backward, slamming upside its holder’s head, and twirling through the air to smack against a second soldier.

 

Green Ranger dashed forward and moved low, swiping the legs out from under a soldier. He rose back up, low blocking a staff strike and chopping a knifehand blow against the soldier’s neck.

 

Lion Ranger dashed forward, but a group of four soldier extended their staffs and blocked the Ranger’s path.

 

Lion Ranger held onto a staff while outer crescent kicking its holder across the head. The grunt fell backwards and Lion Ranger swung the staff, spinning forward while bashing the weapon across a soldier’s head. Lion Ranger chopped the staff down on the fallen soldier’s chest.

 

Meanwhile, Tenma Ranger armed his twin nunchuku. “Tenma Nunchuku!” He shouted as he twirled his weapons and held them under his arms.

 

Tenma Ranger looked to his left as a group of soldiers rushed towards him. The Ranger brought his right arm around, swinging a nunchuku, and bashing the weapon against the back of a grunt’s neck. The goblin went stumbling forward onto the ground.

 

The Blue Ranger charged forward. Tenma Ranger snapped a tornado kick, spinning and slamming his heel across the soldier’s head. The ogre crashed to the ground. Tenma Ranger looked to his left and snapped a high sidekick that bashed against a grunt’s face.

 

Tenma Ranger spun to face another soldier. The Blue Ranger swung both chained weapons in an ‘x’ pattern, crushing the soldier’s collar bones. The grunt collapsed as a second soldier moved in towards the Ranger’s back.

 

Tenma Ranger hopped around and swung both weapons down vertically, crushing the side of the soldier’s head upon impact. The Blue Ranger pressed forward and pounced into the air, slamming a double-jump kick against a goblin’s face.

 

Dragon Ranger was several feet ahead of his younger brother. The massive palace was close by. He was almost there. So close.

 

The Red Ranger cut through a soldier’s staff and slashed his Dragon Swords across that soldier’s chest, tearing through the grunt‘s armor and flesh. Dragon Ranger spun forward while slamming a reverse sidekick against another ogre, crushing in the soldier’s chest, and slamming the villain back against three more of the gruesome soldiers.

 

Dragon Ranger moved forward and smashed in a goblin’s face with a swift jump kick.

 

A massive bolt of lightning suddenly cut down from the skies and crashed against the palace, electrifying the structure like a lightning rod.

 

The Eye of Sauron vanished. The lightning faded.

 

A dark figure leapt from the top of the spire to a platform the top of a wide staircase that ran along the structure’s side. The figure was Sauron in humanoid form.   Sauron was all black muscle tissue. The creature stood on top of the stone stair case. He had dark, rugged plates of armor burned across his muscle tissue. His head was an iron skull with no eyes.

 

Dragon Ranger sprang forward through the air and landed on the stairs. He looked up to see Sauron glaring down at him from several dozen steps above. Ogres and goblins lined the steps to protect their master, although he did not need their protection.

 

The remaining leapt forward from the palace and landed in the battlefield to face off with the other five Rangers. The grunts scattered to give their masters enough room to fight.

 

Tomar’ze stalked towards Lion Ranger. Tomar’ze was a master swordsman armed with a pair of scimitars. His skin was darker than night, in contrast to the white robs he wore.

 

I’sa moved towards Kiba Ranger. The villain controlled the forces of ice. He wore a black and blue kimono with a mask covering most of his face.

 

Sensh’ka stalked towards Tenma Ranger. The villain’s skin was all onyx. He wore a dark bandana that covered his upper face and head. His eyes were hollow blue. He wore a cloak of black flame over a black bodysuit.

 

Bosh moved towards Kirin Ranger. The grotesque giant was three times larger than the Yellow Ranger.

 

Kreyvosh moved towards Phoenix Ranger. She was a white-furred humanoid cat, feminine in nature, with black spots across her skin. She wore silver armor and a black cloak

 

“Well,” Tenma Ranger said as he swallowed his fear and snapped into a fighting stance. “This should be fun…”

 

Dragon Ranger and Sauron were both still as statues. Glaring at each other. Seeing each other for the first time. But the situation somehow felt familiar to both of them.

 

The Red Ranger acted first - by powering down this armor. Tommy could not ignore the compelling feeling that he had to fight this battle with no armor. No weapons.  

 

Red lightning scorched the skies as Tommy ascended the staircase, his hands rolled into fists. The creature ahead had taken his sister, corrupted her as Bandora had him. Sauron had kidnapped Zordon and slaughtered billions of people, hundreds of worlds.

 

The villain’s mental voice drove into Tommy’s mind like a dagger, a rushing and dark sound, but the ranger fought off the pain. I conquered the galaxy before there was time. I have built an empire on the bones of trillions of human warriors like yourself…what makes you think you can stop me?

 

“I know I can, you son of a bitch,” Tommy said. “It ends tonight.”

 

The goblins and ogres charged down towards the ranger. Tommy kept ascending the steps as the grunts attacked.

 

One of the goblins lunged forward while swinging a club towards Tommy. Tommy leaned backward and let the weapon pass over him.

 

Tommy straightened his back as the goblin swung back towards the ranger’s head. Tommy brought his left hand up and caught the club. Tommy then brought his right hand up and struck the goblin’s wrist, causing the creature to loose its grip on the club as it spun free and into Tommy’s hand.

 

Tommy stepped up a few steps while spinning low, knocking the legs out from under an ogre and bringing the club around to smash against the creature’s chest, the club splintering on impact as the ogre crashed to the ground.

 

A goblin came at Tommy from the left with a flurry of frantic punches. Tommy managed to block and parry with little difficulty using only his right hand. A second goblin came at Tommy from the left. The ranger blocked a blow from the attacking goblin and twisted the creature’s arm behind its chest before swinging the grunt around and tossing the creature against the second grunt.

 

A goblin tried to sneak in from behind Tommy while swinging its club, but Tommy back flipped over the creature and landed behind the goblin. Tommy reached his left hand around from behind and grabbed the goblin’s chin while slamming an uppercut blow against it back. The blow was strong enough to lift the goblin off its feet as Tommy swung his right arm around for an elbow strike against the creature’s chest. The goblin crashed to the stairs.

 

Tommy immediately spun to his right while snapping a reverse sidekick that smashed against the last goblin‘s face. Tommy followed by jump sidekicking the goblin with his left leg, using the creature’s chest as a foot hold while swinging his right leg around in a reverse crescent kick around the man’s head, then snapping out his left leg against the goblin’s collar bone, sending the creature crashing to the stairs.

 

Tommy looked up towards Sauron and narrowed his eyes.

 

Sauron seemed to growl with delight as he leapt down towards the ranger, aiming his knee towards Tommy’s head. The villain extended his hands and fired a crimson energy pulse that crashed against Tommy’s chest and sent him tumbling down the steps.

 

Tommy rolled backwards onto his knees and extended his hands forward. “Nova Force!”

 

He fired a sphere of fiery red energy that blasted towards Sauron. The villain swatted the sphere away as he would a fly.

 

Tommy dashed forward and slammed a flying sidekick against Sauron’s chest. The villain barely moved. Tommy landed and slammed a reverse sidekick, following with a spinning hook kick towards Sauron’s head.

 

Sauron grabbed Tommy’s ankle and pulled him off his feet. The villain swung Tommy backward and slammed him against the stone steps, spraying debris and rubble upon impact.

 

Tommy rolled backward into a crouched position and pounced forward. “Burn Knuckle!” he shouted and swung his fiery fist towards Sauron’s chest.

 

Sauron grabbed the punch, its energy shockwave shattering stone behind the villain. Sauron slammed two kicks against the ranger’s chest, the villain’s ankle bashing repeatedly against Tommy’s ribs.

 

Tommy slapped the villain’s arm away and moved in low with a series of punches and palm-heel strikes that slammed against the villain’s lower body. The ranger spun forward with a reverse sidekick that slammed against Sauron’s chest.

 

Sauron quickly snatched Tommy’s leg and swung the ranger off his feet. The villain swung Tommy backward and bashed him against the steps. Sauron swung again and released Tommy, sending him tumbling down the staircase.

 

Tommy slowly pulled himself to his feet and spat blood. He was holding himself back, afraid of his own powers. He had a decision to make, risk corrupting himself, incinerate himself, or let Sauron win. Only one of those options was unacceptable.

 

He sprang to his feet and slammed his fist against the stone stair below his feet. “Hell Storm!”

 

Rings of fire streams circled around them as the air superheated and ignited, sending a shockwave that decimated the upper level of the castle.

 

Sauron was still standing when the smoke cleared. Now, we’re getting somewhere…

 

Tommy charged forward and double-flying sidekicked Sauron in the chest, forcing the villain back, and snapping around with a reverse hook kick that slammed across Sauron’s helmet. Tommy landed and ignited his fist with energy.


”Burn Knuckle!” he shouted as he slammed his fist against Sauron’s chest.

 

The villain was forced backward, but spun around while gathering dark tendrils of fiery energy around his body. He snapped both fists forward and shot two streams of fire that tore through the air, kicking up rubble and debris in a massive shockwave.

 

“Ki!” Tommy shouted as he extended his hands forward and erected a ki barrier. The strands of fire exploded against his field, creating a massive shockwave that ignited the night sky and sent massive tendrils of power exploding across the city.

 

Tommy clenched his jaw as he fought to keep the barrier up. He pushed forward and slammed his fists against the ground while shouting “fire wave!”

 

A wave of fiery energy tore through the ground, cutting against Sauron’s attack, and exploded against the villain’s armor with a blast that shook the ground for miles around. 

 

Meanwhile, the other Rangers battled the remaining Sulankree as the ground shook from Tommy and Sauron’s battle.

 

The dark-skinned villain named Tomar’ze spun his scimitars through intricate arcs that Lion Ranger parried with his Thunder Sword. The Green Ranger was forced back a step further each time his blade connected with the villain’s sword.

 

Nearby, Kiba Ranger dove aside to avoid a freeze blast from I’sa. Kiba ranger rolled into a crouched fighting stance in time to block a series of kicks that the villain launched. The White Ranger spun forward and slammed a kick against the creature’s face.

 

The villain fired an ice blast that crashed against the White Ranger and knocked him backward.

 

Close by, Sensh’ka spun forward and thrashed his cloak across Tenma Ranger’s armor with a burst of spark. The Blue Ranger crashed against the ground and tumbled backward.

 

The giant Bosh slammed the back of his fist across Kirin Ranger’s body, knocking the Yellow Ranger through the air.

 

Phoenix Ranger spun forward with a knifehand strike towards Kreyvosh’s neck. The feline blocked the blow with one hand and slammed her palm against the Pink Ranger’s chest. The villain’s palm burst with jade-tinted energy that exploded against Phoenix Ranger’s armor and slammed her backward.

 

Meanwhile towards the top of the palace tower, Tommy continued to battle Sauron.

 

Tommy thrust his arms forward. “Star Fire!” He launched a comet of fiery energy that streaked towards Sauron. Sauron swatted the comet away and thrust his palm forward. A tendril of crimson energy shot forth from the villain’s hand and lashed Tommy across the chest.

 

The energy tendril poured into the ranger’s body, sending needles of pain into every pore and cell of the teen. Sauron used the energy tendril to snap Tommy forward and slam a punch against the ranger’s face.

 

Tommy crashed against the steps and tumbled backward.

 

Massive bolts of thunder roared in the skies above. His vision blurred, Tommy looked up to see the portals form. The portals lashed out with lightning that tore through the ground of Eltar.

 

“No…” Tommy said weakly as he slowly stumbled to his feet.

 

Tommy was too late. Sauron’s soldiers were about to be teleported to every world, station, and ship in the entire galaxy. It was through Zordon’s power that Sauron had absorbed that the portals were possible.

 

You were right, boy. This ends tonight. Sauron kicked the ranger upside the head.

 

The villain bent over and lifted Tommy from the ground. Sauron stepped to the edge of his palace and looked down to one of the massive cracks in the ground below. Goodbye, fool…

 

Sauron hurled Tommy through the air. The ranger plummeted downward as his body flailed. He was too weak to morph or think of a way to save himself. His body battered and broken, Tommy fell through the cracks in the ground and started plummeting down a dark crevice.

 

Tommy fell into the darkness.

 

***

 

They were everywhere at once. Goblins, ogres, terrifying creatures from countless eons’ past landed everywhere and attacked everything in sight.

 

They thrashed through the Turbo Rangers and Zeo Gold on Triforia, brought the Galaxy rangers to their knees, and chopped their blades against the Ninja Rangers.

 

The mages of Kilwan were beaten back by the villains. Allied ships lost power and floated dead in space. Creatures pounced on the Beetle Borgs and Cybertron.

 

Sauron consumed the galaxy with his darkness.

 

***      

 

“No!“ Kirin Ranger looked up to the skies. “We’re too late!”

 

The giant Bosh slammed his fists down on the Yellow Ranger’s collar bone. Kirin Ranger shouted with pain and collapsed to the ground. His armor shimmered and powered down.

 

The other Sulankree struck the remaining four Rangers down as well. Explosions sparked across their armor as they skid backward, their armor powering down.

 

From high on his fortress, Sauron looked down upon the fallen Rangers. The Dark Monarch was pleased.

 

Sauron’s energy peaked as a full suit of ancient armor wrapped around his body, along with a dark cape. His helmet lengthened. The transformation made Sauron look and feel far more powerful, like a medieval demon-lord ripped from Earth epics.

 

Below, the Sulankree started to pound against the defenseless rangers.

 

Teddy screamed with rage and ran towards I’sa. The villain snapped a spinning heel kick that smashed across the ranger’s head.

 

Adam dodged a flurry of slashes from the dark skin Tomar’ze’s curved blades. One of the scimitars slashed across the ranger’s arm and drew blood.

 

Kreyvosh kicked Kimberly in the side and clawed the ranger across the face.

 

Sensh’ka grabbed Rocky by the throat and lifted the ranger off his feet. The villain smiled wickedly.

 

Rocky was scared silent.

 

***

 

Tommy’s breathing was shallow. His vision was blurred. He could not move. Every inch of his body was in agony. He was lying face down in the bottom of the crevice. It was a wonder he was still alive.

 

His ribs were snapped.

 

His muscles torn.

 

His hands were drenched in his own blood.

 

The dim cavern was lit only by the faint glow of a blade. Tommy looked up to see a sword sticking into the ground.

 

The golden handle of the blade was etched with crimson cloth. The handle was modeled after the dragon. The head of a dragon formed the end of the handle, looking up at the sky above with ruby-red eyes. The hilt was another carved dragon’s head. This dragon’s jaw was open, the sword itself extending from the red-eyed beast’s maw. The blade was lined with intricate markings of a long dead language.

 

The sword started to hum with crimson power. “Dragon Ranger…” a voice said from the blade. “Your task is not over. Rise.”

 

Tommy didn’t know where the voice came from and part of him didn’t care. He had failed. He was beaten. He wanted to sleep.

 

“Your task is not over…” the voice said again.

 

“Who are you?” Tommy asked weakly, his lungs short on breath.

 

“You know me, Dragon Ranger,” the voice said. “A part of me is in you.”

 

It was Jestin, Tommy realized. The first Ranger that had appeared at the dawn of time and defeated Sauron. What the hell was going on?

 

“You are my descendent,” Jestin’s voice said. “Ryuuseikin, the Dragon Sword before you, belonged to me, and now it will belong to you. Even after countless eons, the strength of my bloodline grows stronger every generation. The power of my spirit resides within you.”

 

Was that even possible? Tommy wondered. Surely Zordon or Kaku would have mentioned it. Tommy winced with pain as he struggled to reply. Jestin continued.  

 

“But you also inherited something…darker. While your mother passed my power onto you, your father’s veins flowed thick with the blood of Sauron. The strength of Sauron’s bloodline grew stronger with every generation. Some have used that strength for good. Others, for evil. For a time, your father chose evil.”

 

Tommy winced at the mention of his father.

 

“You still fear with the darkness inside of you, as well as failure,” Jestin continued. “You are too young to fear your powers. They will not fail you as long as your heart is in the right place.

 

“Protecting your friends, protecting the people you love, those are your motives. Do not let those motives be clouded by fear and doubt,” Jestin explained. “Immerse yourself in The Power. Do not think, do not worry, just let The Power guide you. Controlling your darkness is not a conscious effort.

 

“Do not be afraid of your destiny, or your potential. You have the power to defeat Sauron. But you must use it. You must accept your destiny.”

 

Tommy narrowed his brow, a look of determination re-ignited in his eyes.

 

He reached forward and wrapped his hand around the saber’s golden hilt.   

 

***

 

Flashes of bright red light erupted from the crevice around the palace. A comet of flame shot forth and streaked through the skies while arcing downward towards Sauron.

 

The comet tackled against Sauron and crashed through the fortress walls, shooting through the inside of the palace, and bashing through to the other side. Sauron started tumbling down the steps as the comet landed and took shape. It was Tommy, his Ryuuseikin in hand.  

 

You…Sauron cursed.

 

The villain thrust his hand forward and fired a crackling sphere of crimson energy from his palm. Tommy energized his saber and swung through the blast. The energy sphere exploded with a shockwave that rocked the castle.

 

Tommy leapt downward and slammed a flying sidekick against Sauron’s chest, the blow crashing like thunder.

 

Sauron armed a double-edged broadsword and swung the weapon towards Tommy’s collar bone. Tommy parried the blow and spun forward with a kick that crashed against Sauron’s armor, sending the villain stumbling further down the steps.

 

Fiery energy circled around Tommy as he walked down towards his opponent.

 

Sauron rose to his knees and slammed his fist against the steps. Geysers of jagged red energy erupted from the ground and exploded around Tommy while pulverizing another several levels of the fortress.

 

Tommy leapt forward through the blasts and somersaulted through the air.

 

“Dragon Claw!” His sword swung in a streak of red energy and shot a massive shockwave towards Sauron. The white-hot shockwave tore forward towards the villain like a giant throwing-star dagger.

 

Sauron cut through the wave and pounced forward while swinging his blade up towards Tommy’s chest. Tommy leapt backward and thrust his hands forward. “Ki!”

 

Invisible energy slammed against Sauron, smashing web-shaped cracks along the villain’s armor. Sauron collapsed to his knees and used his sword to steady himself. 

 

Sauron twisted his blade and caused a massive shockwave that tore apart half the palace. Tommy leapt over the shockwave and snapped a flying sidekick towards the villain.

 

Sauron sidestepped, energized his fist with flame, and slammed the back of his fist across the ranger’s body. Tommy went hurling downward through the air and crashed against a lower platform of stone that extended from the dark palace.

 

Sauron leapt down towards the  platform while swinging his blade towards Tommy’s head.

 

Tommy parried the blow, his blade sparking against Sauron’s, and swung the saber back towards Sauron’s head. Sauron sidestepped and swung his blade towards the back of Tommy’s neck.

 

Tommy spun and blocked the blow before snapping a sidekick that slammed against Sauron’s chest. Tommy pressed forward and chopped his blade down towards the villain’s head.

 

Sauron twisted his sword and blocked the blow, Tommy’s blade clashing against the villain’s sword with a massive burst of spark and flame.

 

They pressed their weapons against each other. The swords shot out violent bolts of lightning that thrashed across the skies from the resistance of the two blades.

 

“Hell Fire!” Tommy shouted. A massive torrent of flame lashed out from the ranger’s hand, producing a massive shockwave that shook the earth and ripped across the skies. The blast exploded against Sauron and sent the villain flying backward.

 

Sauron flew through the air and crashed against the war-torn ground below.

 

Tommy energized and leapt off the fortress. He landed near Sauron and snapped into a fighting stance while grasping his blade.

 

Sauron actually started to laugh. “You are a fool,” he said in a deep, booming voice that echoed. The villain’s armor segments clanged against each other as the villain rose to his feet. “You can damage my body, pierce my flesh, incinerate my bones. And I will still live. You can rip apart my armor with your bare hands and drive your sword through my heart. And I will still live.”

 

The villain stalked towards Tommy. “I am power. Energy personified. Energy cannot be destroyed.  I have survived the ages to return. The power of your former mentor has rejuvenated me. I can not be stopped.

 

“My blood may flow through your veins, but it is tainted by Jestin, the First. You are insignificant. Fortunately I was able to bend your sister to my will when she was only a child. She has overcome her weaknesses.”

 

Tommy said nothing.

 

Tommy held his sword up to his face and closed his eyes. His mind drifted to Karone, imprisoned with Sauron’s darkness; His younger brother and friends, fighting for their lives on the surface nearby; Ashley and the others, in space; his parents; and countless beings and species he had met on his one-year journey across the galaxy.

 

He had seen such vibrant life fall at the hands of evil. Beautiful landscapes had turned to dust. His once great city scarred like never before.

 

It was time to end.

 

The air suddenly superheated around Tommy, creating a burst of wind that howled through the air while kicking up dirt and gravel.

 

The Ryuuseikin pulsed with white-hot energy. Thin streaks of white flame started to circle around Tommy. Power flooded his veins as his hair stood on end.

 

He surrendered to The Power. 

 

Tommy snapped open his eyes. “Rage…”

 

Tendrils of white-hot energy started to snap out from the blade.

 

Sauron gathered a crackling sphere of crimson energy between his armored palms.

 

“…of…” The superheated wind around Tommy intensified.

 

In the distance, the other rangers and Sulankree were practically thrown off their feet.

 

Sauron hurled the energy sphere forward.

 

“…Inferno!” Tommy swung his blade downward as his entire body ignited with white-hot flame. 

 

A giant, blinding cyclone of fiery energy erupted forth. The raging torrent of white-hot power splashed across Sauron and streaked upward, stretching out into space, and igniting the planet’s atmosphere.

 

The portals collapsed, creating a shockwave that instantly turned all of Sauron’s goblins and ogres into ash.

 

Sauron’s armor buckled as the white-hot fire storm rages across his body. The armor superheated and shattered off. The villain crossed his arms over his face and body to protect himself. The flames incinerated his skin and tore the flesh from his bones. White-hot flames incinerated the villain’s bones in less than a blink of an eye.

 

Sauron’s spirit was caught in the raging fire storm. His energy was scattered and torn apart, atom by atom, and blasted into the depths of space, blown through the collapsing portals before they sealed completely.

 

The flames stopped and flickered in the wind as Tommy powered down. The sword slipped from his grasp and he collapsed to the ground.

 

***

 

Astronema felt Sauron wail as he died, piece by piece. An evil grin crossed her face. She turned towards her communication platform and stepped onto the device, which would broadcast her image and message across the stars.

 

The platform hummed to life. Astronema narrowed her eyes.

 

“Sauron has been destroyed,” she said with an icy voice. “His forces now belong to me. As does Zordon of Eltar.”

 

The Countdown concludes…Chapter Thirty-one