Ultimate Power Rangers

The Dark Phoenix

 

Tommy Oliver, 21, sat at an Angel Grove bar with Jason and Rocky. The bar was at the east part of the city, on the twentieth floor of a hotel. The hotel was across the street from a large dome-shaped stadium.

 

Rocky DeSantos had just finished one of his fighting competitions. The three young men were out celebrating, although the topic of conversation shifted from Rocky’s match to other matters.

 

“Are you serious?” Rocky asked Tommy for the third time. “You’re actually going to ask Ashley?”

 

Tommy had a diamond ring in hand. “No, Rocko, it’s a joke. I figured I’d just buy the ring for the hell of it.”

 

Rocky rolled his eyes.

 

Jason leaned forward. “So how are you going to do it?”

 

Tommy sighed and shook his head. “I don’t know yet. Everything I can think of is too cliché. It has to be better than cliché.”

 

“Wait a second,” Rocky said. “We’re missing an important issue here…who are your groomsmen going to be?”

 

It was Tommy’s turn to roll his eyes. “One thing at a time. Man, I haven’t even asked her yet.”

 

“Besides,” Jason said as he placed a hand on Tommy’s shoulder. “Is there really any question?”

 

“Guys,” Tommy said. “I do have a brother, ya know. He’ll have dibs on best man.”

 

“I suppose that makes sense,” Rocky said.

 

“Anyway,” Tommy said, tucking the ring back in his pocket, eager to change the subject.

 

The bar windows shattered in with an explosion before the conversation could continue. The three rangers snapped to their feet as other patrons ran in panic. Seven dark figures had entered the bar. Each soldier was pure black with scaled skin. Hissing noises came from gills on the sides of their heads. The soldiers had strange emblems engraved on the left sides of their chests. 

 

“So much for our drinks,” Jason said.

 

Rocky shook his head. “Dark, mysterious soldiers dressed in all black. Talk about cliché.”

 

Tommy eyed each of the soldiers, watching their defense for weaknesses. He knew immediately that the soldiers didn’t have a chance.

 

“Let’s take care of business,” Tommy said. “But try to leave one standing. We need to know where they came from.”

 

The three rangers pounced forward to attack, the civilians having cleared the room.

 

Tommy hopped onto a table and flipped over a soldier while grabbing its head and twisting to snap its neck. He landed behind the fallen soldier and slammed a front kick against a second creature.

 

Rocky tornado kicked a soldier across the head, continued his spin, and slammed a reverse sidekick against that soldier’s chest. The soldier went flying backwards and crashed onto a table, splintering wood and collapsing the table on impact.

 

Jason dashed forward and slammed an elbow against a soldier’s throat. He followed with a jump hook kick that smashed against the villain’s head.

 

He turned to his right as another soldier arched through the air towards him. Jason jump kicked that soldier from the air.

 

Another soldier charged towards Rocky. He used his foot to flip up a wooden chair, grabbed the chair, and smashed it across the soldier’s back.

 

Only one soldier remained. The black creature ran towards the shattered window and leapt outside into the night.

 

“After him!” Tommy yelled as he dashed forward and jumped out the window towards his opponent.

 

Rocky and Jason ran to the edge of the wall’s hole and looked down.

 

“Well,” Rocky said as and Jason both made sure their morphers were ready. “Glad to see he still has his energy.”

 

The two took a couple steps back and then leapt forward through the window.

 

Below, passersby saw three flashes of light, one blue and two red, as the three rangers transformed into their armor while leaping through midair.

 

The dark soldier landed on a five-story building down the street from the hotel. Dragon Ranger landed in front of the soldier and snapped into a fighting stance, cutting off its escape. Ninjared and Tenma Ranger landed behind the villain.

 

“Who sent you?” Dragon Ranger asked.

 

The creature twisted its wrist, triggering and explosion. The soldier was ripped apart and sent needle-like shrapnel blasting out in every direction, exploding against the Rangers’ armor.

 

The three Rangers pulled themselves to their feet and walked over to the creature’s ashes. The explosion left a scorch mark where the soldier had stood.

 

“What do you guys think?” Ninjared asked. “One of mine or one of yours?”

 

“It’s too hard to say,” Dragon Ranger said. “I’ll talk to Ashley in the morning and see what she can find out.”

 

Tenma Ranger shook his head. “Why do you think they were sent? A warning? Or someone just underestimated us?”

 

“Whoever it was,” Dragon Ranger said, “they didn’t want to be discovered yet. But I‘m sure we‘ll run into them again.”

 

Ninjared nodded. “We should let the other Rangers know.”

 

“Just the locals,” Dragon Ranger said. “There’s no need to get everyone together…at least not yet.”

 

***

 

Kimberly sat alone on a Florida beach, her head buried in another book. She was enjoying a temporary break. A temporary break from motherhood.

 

Kimberly’s aunt in Tallahassee was watching her three-year-old son Tyler; a son she had kept secret from his father: Tommy.

 

Kimberly had been pregnant when she left Angel Grove. She decided to raise him with the help of her aunt and her boyfriend Scott. She didn’t want the young one to have anything to do with Tommy’s life as a ranger.

 

Scott walked up besides her and took a seat on the beech. He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.

 

Kimberly smiled at him. “You seem to be in an awfully good mood, mister.”

 

He kissed her again. “You seem to have that effect on me.”

 

Kimberly turned to face him and draped her arms around his shoulders. “Seriously Scott, what’s going on? You have that look in your eye again.”

 

“It’s a surprise,” he said, leaning in close to her. “You like surprises, don’t you?”

 

“That depends,” Kimberly said with a smile.

 

“Well,” Scott explained. “You know my family in England? My uncle and cousins? They’re having something of a…gathering. Very high-class and all that. We’re invited.”

 

Kimberly’s smile brightened.

 

***

 

Tommy, Rocky, and Justin sat around a circular table on the balcony of Rocky’s high-rise hotel room in the heart of the city. Justin, Chris, and Ashley joined them. They were all students at Angel Grove University.

 

Rocky was thumbing through a handful of pamphlets from various countries, each taken during one of his fighting competitions.

 

“It hit me on the way over here…” he said. “I’ve seen the symbol that was on those black freaks’ chests before.”

 

Ashley had her laptop computer open. Tommy had told her how to get in touch with Maya over in Japan. Maya had inherited a vast amount of Ranger-related information from her grandfather. She was Tommy’s best source, since Billy had all of Zordon’s old information and files.

 

Ashley shook her head. “Maya didn’t have anything on her computer that could help.”

 

“This could be a new enemy,” Chris said.

 

Justin nodded. “Yeah. Not every bad guy comes from a gazillion years in the past.”

 

“Got it,” Rocky said, his eyes opened wide as he pulled out a pamphlet from London, England. “That symbol is on this building in London. It’s the Westminster Plaza Building.”

 

Ashley looked the building’s information up online. “The building is owned by something called the Hell Fire Club.”

 

“The name says it all,” Justin said.

 

“A name along doesn’t make them guilty of anything,” Tommy said. “We have to find out more.”

 

Jason nodded. “Agreed.”

 

Ashley called up another page of information. “Well…if we want to spy, this weekend may be our chance…”

 

“What do you mean?” Chris asked.

 

“They’re having some kind of celebration,” Ashley said. “A very formal dance, High-class, tuxedo, dress, wine…”

 

“We’ll have to check it out,” Tommy said. “Can you hack us onto the guest list?”

 

Ashley nodded. “Yes, but just two of us. Just to be safe.”

 

“It’s a date,”  Tommy said.

 

Ashley grinned as her fingers danced across the keyboard.

 

“We’re still coming with you,” Jason said in a voice that Tommy had learned not to argue with.

 

***

 

The weekend came.

 

Lines of men and women in tuxedos and fancy gowns entered the massive Westminster Plaza ballroom. Some of the guests danced to music from a live orchestra, while others sipped drinks at white-clothed tables along the edge of the ballroom.

 

Kimberly’s eyes opened wide as she walked inside, her hand resting on Scott’s arm. “This place is beautiful…”

 

“I knew you’d like it,” Scott said with a smile as he led her inside. “My uncle has bragged about this place since I was a kid…now I know why.”

 

Outside, another group of visitor from the United States arrived. Tommy and Ashley walked towards the building entrance. Justin and Chris were serving as lookouts in a van parked nearby, while Rocky and Jason were infiltrating the building by disguising themselves as waiters and entering from the back.

 

Tommy and Ashley entered the ballroom.

 

“So far so good…” Tommy said quietly. “Now to look around without being too suspicious.”

 

Tommy noticed coupled dancing across the floor to the live orchestra. He extended his hand to Ashley. “Shall we?”

 

“Since you asked so nicely,” she said as she took his hand.

 

They moved onto the dance floor and held each other close while moving to the music. It was their first dance -- on Earth. Tommy took a moment to look at Ashley. “You look beautiful, by the way. I wish this was under better circumstances.”

 

Ashley smiled at him. “Only you could turn a compliment into a complaint.” She pulled him closer. “Besides…our relationship has never exactly been normal.”

 

“This is true,” Tommy said, smiling as he looked into her eyes. “Our first kiss was on a starship…after we spent the day chasing down a zord that went berserker.”

 

“Our second was on a forest planet in a city of trees,” Ashley added. “That was quite a jail break.”

 

The moment was lost when Tommy spotted something out of the corner of his eye. “Kimberly…”

 

Ashley narrowed her eyes and pulled away. “What.”

 

“No,” Tommy said defensively. “She’s here. Kimberly’s here…”

 

Ashley looked over her shoulder. She and Tommy both made eye contact with Kimberly and Scott. The couple from Florida walked towards the two rangers.

 

***

 

Justin and Chris waited in a van about half a block away. Chris was in the driver’s seat, while Justin sat in the passenger side. The former Blue Astro Ranger tapped his fingers against the dashboard.

 

Justin sighed with frustration. “This sucks. Why do we have to be on look out duty?”

 

“We’re just that lucky,” Chris said as he looked over a portable scanner. He was keeping an eye out for any strange readings.

 

“Picking up anything?” Justin asked.

 

Chris shook his head. “No, but it’s hard to know for sure since I don’t know exactly what to look for.”

 

Justin sighed and started tapping his fingers against the dashboard again. “I hope Tommy and the others are having better luck.”

 

An explosion suddenly knocked the van off its wheels, tipping the vehicle aside and sending it skidding across the street. Justin and Chris were tossed around inside the van as it slammed against a nearby wall.

 

***

 

“Tommy…” Kimberly said as she walked towards him. She narrowed her eyes. “What are you doing here?”

 

“I was about to ask you the same question,” Tommy said.

 

Someone on a staircase in front of the ballroom tapped his spoon against a glass to get everyone’s attention. The young man wore a trimmed goatee and short hair.

 

Scott looked to Kimberly. “That’s my uncle…”

 

“Honored guests,” the man said. “Thank you all for joining me on this momentous occasion. For centuries, our esteemed brotherhood has prospered with wealth and power beyond imagination. But those generations of prosperity pale in comparison to what we are about to experience tonight…”

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “I don’t like where this is going…” he said quietly to Ashley.

 

“Tonight,” the man, Shaw, continued, “we replace the god of man with the force of all creation herself, and usher In a new age of power that will span the galaxies.”

 

Kimberly looked to Scott. “What’s going on?”

 

“Don’t be afraid,” he said as he held her close. “This is what you were meant for…”

 

Kimberly tried to pull away, but Scott tightened his grasp. “Scott…you’re scaring me…”

 

Shaw extended his hand downward while looking to Kimberly. “After ages in her many-angled prison, it is time for the Phoenix Force to live again.”

 

Kimberly opened her eyes wide in panic, her hand instinctively touching her chest where her phoenix tattoo lay beneath the fabric of her dress. She tried harder to pull away from Scott, but he held on tight, practically crushing her waist. “let go of me!”

 

“Shit,” Tommy said. “They’re after Kim.”

 

Tommy pounced forward towards Scott. Scott’s eyes flashed with golden light as he turned to face Tommy. An invisible energy pulse slammed against the ranger and sent him flying off his feet, crashing backward through tables.

 

Ashley activated her communicator. “Guys, we have trouble. Get in here. Now.”

 

But no one answered.

 

Shaw laughed from above. A group of men walked onto the upper balcony and tossed Justin and Chris to the ground. They were alive, but tied up and unconscious, badly injured from the explosion. Another group of men brought in Jason and Rocky, who were also tied up and unconscious.

 

The windows of the ballroom shattered as dozens of the black soldiers leapt inside.

 

Kimberly summoned all her strength and slammed an elbow against Scott’s gut. Scott stumbled backward while releasing his grasp. Kimberly snapped an outer crescent kick that smashed across his face.

 

Two of the soldiers pounced towards Kimberly, but Ashley stepped in. She jump kicked a soldier upside the head and spun forward with a reverse axe kick that smashed the second soldier aside.

 

Tommy rolled back to his feet nearby and pounced forward to attack. The other members of the club spread out and watched as if attending a live theater production.

 

Tommy slammed a flying sidekick against a soldier and smashed his heel across a second soldier’s head as soon as he landed.

 

Scott rose back to his feet nearby. His eyes were burning with golden fire.

 

“Nice new boyfriend,” Tommy said sarcastically to Kimberly.

 

Scott and Tommy charged at one another.

 

Scott fired an invisible energy pulse that ripped across the ground towards Tommy. Tommy silently used his Kiryoku to knock the blast aside and push forward. Tommy slammed a fist against Scott’s face, whipping the villain’s body backward.

 

Shaw himself leapt down to the ballroom floor below. Jade-tinted energy circled around him as his eyes pulsed with deep, green power. The villain launched a psionic pulse that slammed against the rangers’ minds like a psychic grenade. The rangers, taken off guard by the attack, screamed with agony and collapsed to the ground.

 

Another psionic blast knocked them unconscious before they could summon their power.

 

***  

 

Tommy’s vision slowly blurred back. Dizziness consumed him. He was drugged and tied to the ground inside a dark room. Ashley, Justin, Chris, Rocky, and Jason were tied down next to him.

 

Kimberly stood in the center of a strange circular pattern on the ground. The pattern was engraved with ancient symbols and the symbol of the phoenix. Her eyes stared ahead blankly. She was drugged too.

 

Shaw stood nearby. He looked down to Tommy. “I see you’re finally awake…”

 

Tommy tried to answer, but could not speak.

 

Shaw was amused by the ranger’s helplessness. “You are in for quite a display, young one. Our faith stretches back through the Founding Fathers and revolutionary France to the bloodlines of ancient Egypt.

 

“Ours are the principals America was built on,” he continued. “The sacred geometry and architecture at the very heart of your once-great nation. That isn’t an eagle weaved into the fabric of the carpet on the Oval Office floor, you know. What you pay homage to when you address a president is a fine-feathered phoenix.”

 

A small skylight slid open, illuminating the dark room with pale moonlight. Shaw and his closest men, his Inner Circle, stood around the pattern and looked up at the stars. Shaw smiled as he extended his hands.

 

“Ancient sisters of the stars, daughter of the moon and sun, come forth in mystic, golden light! I greet the south whence you came!”

 

The phoenix tattoo on Kimberly’s chest flashed with fiery power. Strands of golden flame circled around her. A pillar of fiery energy suddenly erupted from Kimberly and shot into the sky above.

 

Shaw continued the incantation as flames rose from the ground around him. “From the core of the Earth’s bright center, through the cosmos’s vast expanses, I call ye forth, o cleansing fire. I call ye forth to lift and raise us!

 

“Arise bright fir into the world! Arise bright fire into the night! Arise bright fire by spirit’s hand! Arise bright fire of Phoenix light!”

 

The cry of the Phoenix Force filled the sky for miles. The Phoenix Raptor manifested in the skies above and shot downward, entering Kimberly’s body with a blinding flash of golden power that shook heaven and earth.

 

Kimberly’s eyes became solid gold with a red hue. Living fire danced across her skin as her robe started to tear from the flames, becoming a ragged cloth around her body. She looked at her hands and curled a fist as a grin of madness spread across her face.

 

“I am creation incarnate… I am fire made flesh…I am…The Phoenix!”

 

The Phoenix cried as the Phoenix Force raptor manifested around Kimberly, its broad wings spreading across the room.

 

Shaw smiled, his eyes open wide with wonder as he kneeled before the Phoenix.

 

Tommy closed his eyes tight and summoned his power. His mind was hazy from drugs and his body was weak, but The Power would change all that. It had to. If only he could concentrate. If only he could summon the fire of his own soul.

 

Tommy thought of Kimberly, once again trapped by the force which had killed her. He thought of Ashley. His friends trapped at his side.

 

Tommy snapped out of his chains and flipped to his feet while arming his morphers. “Aura Power!” Red energy shimmered around him as he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

The Phoenix reached out its fiery claw and grasped Dragon Ranger. Explosions sparked violently across the Red Ranger’s armor. “Dragon Ranger…I remember you…”

 

“Should I be flattered?” Dragon Ranger said sarcastically as he summoned his sword, The Ryuuseikin.

 

The Phoenix claw holding Dragon Ranger pulsed with golden fire. The blast exploded point-blank against the Red Ranger and sent him flying backward as fast as a bullet. Dragon Ranger crashed through the wall like a comet and shot across a city block, smashing through buildings and columns before skidding to a halt on the streets, leaving a trail of torn pavement in his wake.

 

Back at the building, Shaw and his Inner Circle looked up to the burning Phoenix. Shaw smiled. “You are magnificent. Now…lead us. We are your-”

 

The Phoenix flared. The cosmic beam emitted a ring of flame that incinerated Shaw and his people in the blink of an eye.

 

“I hunger…” The Phoenix said as it shot towards the skies, leaving a trail of flame in its wake.

 

***

 

Tommy regrouped with the others back at the building, inside its massive library. His body was bruised and battered from the attack. Justin and Chris were injured from the explosion near their van earlier. They almost wished the drugs had not worn off.

 

“So let’s summarize,” Rocky said. “We’ve been here two hours. The bad guys we came here to stop are now dead. We got our butts kicked. And Kimberly is the Phoenix Force again.”

 

“That about sums it up,” Justin said.

 

Chris looked to Tommy. “How did you guys beat this Phoenix before?”

 

“We imprisoned the Phoenix Force in something called the Emcron Crystal,” Tommy explained. “Apparently it didn’t work too well.”

 

The library door opened, and a young man stumbled inside. It was Scott.

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes and walked over to Scott. The ranger lifted Scott by the shirt collar and slammed him hard against a book shelf. “Start talking. Now.”

 

Scott opened his eyes wide with fear and shook his head. “You don’t understand…”

 

“Enlighten me,” Tommy said.

 

“It was Shaw,” Scott said. “He did something to my mind...i didn’t mean to…oh, god…what have I done.”

 

Jason crossed his arms over his chest and stepped forward towards Scott. “Why should we believe you?”

 

Scott was frozen with fear. He didn’t know what to say. He shook his head, a tear streaming down his cheek. Tommy sighed and dropped him to the ground. “We need a plan. Fast.”

 

“What happened to the Emcron Crystal?” Ashley asked.

 

“Billy supposedly found a way to destroy it so the Phoenix would be locked inside of its pocket dimension forever,” Tommy said.

 

“We have to talk to Billy,” Jason said.

 

Tommy reluctantly agreed.

 

***

 

The Phoenix Force swept across the cosmos. She radiated with newfound life and hungered for carnal delights. Only the stars themselves could cure her appetite. Only destruction on cosmic scales could satisfy her lust for power.

 

 ***

 

Billy sat behind his desk at a high-rise office within the city. Tommy and the others sat in front of the desk and finished telling their story. Billy did not take the news well.

 

Billy narrowed his eyes at Tommy. “How could you let this happen?”

 

“Don’t even start,” Tommy said firmly. “We contacted you before going to London. You were too busy playing with your toys to help.”

 

“Ironic,” Billy said, “now that you need my ‘toys’ to help save Kimberly.”

 

Ashley placed her hand on Tommy’s leg to keep him from flying off the handle. Billy clenched his jaw at the site. He had cared for two girls during his time as a ranger. Kimberly and Ashley. Tommy had taken them both.

 

“Billy,” Ashley said. “This Emcron Crystal. Is there anything that could have a similar effect on the Phoenix Force.”

 

Billy shook his head. “No.”

 

“Great,” Rocky said sarcastically. “Our only shot at stopping her is destroyed…”

 

Billy shook his head. “Not entirely destroyed. I saved a shard of the crystal before destroying the rest of it. We may be able to use the shard to-”

 

“You saved a shard,” Tommy said, rolling his hands into fists. “So the crystal wasn’t complete the first time it freed the Phoenix. That’s how it escaped.”

 

“I’m not the one who let Kimberly get captured,” Billy countered.

 

“Boys, stop it,” Ashley said firmly.

 

“Where’s the shard now?” Jason asked.

 

“It’s being stored at the 3rd TOTAL R & D Lab,” Billy said. “They’re a partner of mine. I‘ll send them a message so they know to expect you.”

 

“You’re not coming?” Jason asked.

 

Billy shook his head. “I’m bringing a new program online in a week. It can’t wait.”

 

Jason narrowed his eyes. “It’s Kimberly, man…”

 

“I know,” Billy said as he leaned back in his chair. “Look, I’ll do what I can to help, but I don’t have time to play Ranger anymore. Too many lives are at stake.”

 

Tommy scoffed and rose from his seat. He stormed out of the office, and the other rangers followed shortly.

 

Billy sat alone.

 

*** 

 

The Phoenix plunged into the heart of a star in a galaxy eons away. She consumed the star’s energy. She let its power flow through the veins of her new human vessel. She drank deeply, passionately, delighting in the physical sensation.

 

The star went nova, creating a massive shockwave that obligated every planet in the system with massive explosions. One of the planets had been inhabited by billions. 

 

***

 

Tommy and the rangers arrived at the 3rd TOTAL R & D Lab in time to see the entire building consumed by flames. The rangers rushed towards the lab entry gate. A trio of Silver Guardians tried to block the rangers from entering.

 

“Stop!” one of them shouted as they reached for their guns.

 

Tommy and Jason slammed flying sidekicks against two of the soldiers, while Rocky smashed a spinning heel kick against the third soldier. The rangers continued their advance. The sound of gun fire and explosions rang through the air.

 

“It sounds like all hell is breaking loose,” Justin said as they dashed around to the side of the lab.

 

The rangers arrived at the edge of a wide stairwell that led down to a plaza area. Silver Guardians scattered in frantic defense patterns while taking shots at black creatures covered in scales. They were the same creatures from the Hellfire Club.

 

Chris shook his head. “I thought the Phoenix wiped out the Hellfire Club...”

 

“I guess some of their cronies made it out alive,” Tommy said. “Rocky, Justin, Chris, and Ashley, stay out here and help the Guardians take out those grunts. Jason, you and I are going in after the Shard.”

 

Ashley tossed Tommy a portable scanner. “You’ll need this.”

 

“Thanks, Ash,” Tommy said. He armed his morphers. “Now let’s take care of business…It’s morphin time!”

 

“Chakra ignite…” Tommy and Rocky shouted as they readied their wrist braces. “Aura Power!” Energy shimmered around them as they connected their braces and morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

“Shogun Transform…” Jason said as he held his morpher in hand. “Ninja Power!” Energy whirled around him as he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

Ninjared leapt towards the building in a blur of motion with Dragon Ranger leaping in a streak of crimson light at his side.

 

***

 

Dragon Ranger kicked in a door to the lab’s central corridor. The wide corridor was thick with smoke and flames.

 

Dragon Ranger eyed his scanner as he and Ninjared entered the smoke-filled hall. “The Shard is still inside. The grunts must not have reached it yet…”

 

Six of the scaled creatures pounced forward from the flames.

 

Dragon Ranger unsheathed his Star Cutter and slit open a grunt’s throat with a single swing. The Red Ranger jump kicked a second soldier upside the head and moved forward with a spinning hook kick that smashed a third soldier’s skull.

 

Ninjared unsheathed his sword and slashed upward through a soldier’s chest. The Red Ranger sidestepped and chopped his blade back down at a grunt that had pounced at him. The blade sliced through the back of the grunt’s neck. Ninjared snapped a sidekick against the last soldier’s body, crushing its chest.

 

“This way,” Dragon Ranger said as he and Ninjared dashed down the hallway.

 

***

 

Four Silver Guardians dashed onto the plaza. They wore high-tech disks embedded on their chests. They placed their palms over the discs. “SWAT mode!”

 

The disks flashed with energy, activating the soldiers’ variable gears. Black armor and helmets that resembled high-tech SWAT uniforms wrapped around their bodies. The four Guardians armed double-barreled assault rifles.

 

The SWAT team’s rifles blared like chainsaws and sprayed high-velocity bullets across the plaza. Bullets exploded through dozens of grunts, spraying ichors and bone fragments in every direction.

 

Eleven creatures leapt through the air and moved towards the SWAT team from both sides. The creatures’ hands morphed into short daggers as they aimed their descent towards the four Guardians.

 

The SWAT team shifted their aim upward and started blasting several of the grunts from the air. But they could not fire fast enough.

 

A grunt landed and punctured its arm through a Guardian’s faceplate, stabbing through its head and brain. Another Guardian was stabbed through the heart, while the third and fourth SWAT team members were cut across their throats and impaled.

 

The Rangers helped keep guard the lab entrance nearby. Tenma Ranger stood closest to the door with his Thunder Staff in hand as creatures swarmed around him.

 

The Blue Ranger snapped a tornado kick across a soldier’s head and speared his staff against a second soldier’s chest. Tenma Ranger used the staff for leverage to flip the grunt off its feet and smash the villain against the side of the wall.

 

Justin, Ashley, and Chris were closer towards the center of the patio in their Ninjetti uniforms. They tried to keep the Guardians safe from as many of the grunts as possible.

 

Justin wore black with gold trimming over his chest and legs, and dark blue down his arms. The gold coin on the center of his chest had the symbol of a panther. He had power over earth.

 

Chris wore deep blue over his chest and legs with black running down his arms. The gold coin on the center of his chest had the symbol of a shark. He had power over water.

 

Ashley wore gold across her chest and legs, and black down her arms. The coin on the center of her chest had the symbol of a scarab. She had powers of lightning.    

 

Chris flipped a grunt over his shoulder and slammed a fist against the fallen soldier’s chest, crushing its body.

 

Justin hopped up and somersaulted backward in midair while kicking a grunt upside the head.

 

Ashley spun forward with a reverse axe kick that crashed down on a grunt’s collar bone.

 

Tires screeched to a halt on a street nearby. Black SUVs pulled up to the edge of the stairs leading down to the plaza. The doors swung open as more Silver Guardians piled out. The Guardian’s leader wore a red beret. It was Wes Collins.

 

“B-Squad, form a perimeter around the plaza,” Wes ordered. “A-Squad, get inside and clean out the lab.”

 

Wes raised the morpher on his left wrist closer to his mouth. “Quantum Fire!” Fiery energy blazed around him as he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

Time Fire leapt downward onto the plaza and activated his sidearm. The Quantum Ranger’s blaster formed a slender, double-edged sword. “DV-Defender! Blade mode!”

 

Time Fire swung his blade down through a creature while landing. The Quantum Ranger spun forward and slashed his blade through a second soldier’s gut.

 

“Vulcan mode!” Time Fire shouted as he switched his weapon back to blaster mode.

 

The Quantum Ranger fired lances of red energy that tore through several of the creatures.

 

***

 

Dragon Ranger and Ninjared crashed into the central lab room. They braced themselves as a storm of golden energy whirled around the massive room like a tornado.

 

The Shard was suspended in an energy tube in the center of the room. Scott stood next to the tube with his hands around the crystal. Golden energy flickered from his eyes and body like flame.

 

“It’s him!” Ninjared shouted.

 

Scott snarled at the Rangers. “Only on the surface, Rangers. My nephew has proven himself to be a powerful shell…”

 

“Shaw…” Dragon Ranger cursed.

 

An evil grin spread across his face. “My psionic power allows my mind to jump into the bodies of the weak willed. I used my nephew to escape death itself.”

 

“Congratulations,” Dragon Ranger said as he summoned his sword, the Ryuuseikin. “Now get away from the Shard.”

 

“No,” Scott hissed. “I will not allow you to destroy my god!”

 

Ninjared tightened his grip on his saber. “Your god tried to kill you!”

 

“No!” Scott shouted with denial. His eyes pulsed with blinding gold energy. Blasts sparked across the two Rangers’ armor and slammed them against the wall. The raging tornado of energy pinned them against the wall with powerful pressure that threatened to crush them.

 

Dragon Ranger closed his eyes beneath his helmet. “Brace yourself, Jase…this is going to get ugly…”

 

Dragon Ranger summoned his power. “Hell Fire!”

 

Dragon Ranger’s body erupted with fiery power that swept against the golden energy vortex. The rings of flame collided, creating a massive shockwave that pulverized the walls and sent Scott flying off his feet. Ninjared crashed across the ground as the shockwave slammed into him too.

 

Dragon Ranger quickly helped his friend to his feet when the shockwave dissipated.

 

“Subtle, bro,” Ninjared said sarcastically.

 

“There was no time for creativity,” Dragon Ranger said as he moved to the center of the floor.

 

Scott shot back onto his feet and thrust his hands forward. An invisible pulse blast exploded against the two Red Rangers and sent them flying backward, sparks ripping across their armor as they skid across the hall.

 

Scott laughed, golden flame escaping from his mouth as he walked over and picked up the Shard. Golden flame twirled around him as the Shard shattered into pieces and vaporized. The villain teleported away with a burst of golden flame.

 

***

 

The grunts left soon after their master. Tommy and the other rangers regrouped with Wes and a couple other Silver Guardians in a lab conference room that had survived the attack.

 

“We need to get our hands on Shaw,” Tommy said after filling in Wes and the others. “There has to be another way to stop the Phoenix.”

 

“Speaking of which,” Rocky said, “where is she? She didn’t exactly try to stay out of sight last time we fought her.”

 

“We need to go back to the Hellfire Club,” Ashley said. “If their beliefs center around this Phoenix Force, they have to have more literature on her. That literature may have a way to beat her.”

 

Wes’s communicator toned. He lifted his V-Commander and answered. “This is Collins, go ahead.”

 

“Sir, we have a…situation in Angel’s Square,” the voice said. “You’d better come down here.”

 

“I’m going to need a little more info than that,” Wes said impatiently.

 

“Well,” the voice said. “There’s something in the sky above us…it looked like a giant bird made of fire.”

 

“We’re out of time,” Tommy said. “Ashley, Chris, and Justin, get back to London and see what you can dig up. Coordinate with Maya over the Internet. We’ll need her eye. Jason and Rocky, you two are coming with me to Angel’s Square to hold off the Phoenix until we have a way to beat her. We’ll call Adam on the way and have him meet us there.”

 

“What about Teddy?” Jason asked.

 

Tommy hesitated, as he always did when deciding whether or not to involve his little brother. “Him too.”

 

Tommy looked to Wes. “Have your Guardian teams help clear everyone off the streets and into the shelters.”

 

Wes nodded. “We’ll do what we can.”

 

Rocky shook his head. “Let’s hope that’s good enough…”

 

***

 

Ninjared, Dragon Ranger, and Tenma Ranger regrouped with Kiba Ranger and Lion Ranger in Angel’s Square. They had no time for greetings. The Phoenix Force was shining bright above the streets with light as hot as the summer.

 

The five Rangers leapt onto the rooftop of a tall skyscraper.

 

“What’s the plan, big brother?” Kiba Ranger asked.

 

“We have to lure her away from the city, and give Ashley and the other some time to do their job.”

 

“That could take hours,” Tenma Ranger said.

 

Dragon Ranger nodded. “We’ll have to be creative. Spread out…we’ll close in from multiple sides.”

 

The Rangers split up and leapt across the rooftops.

 

Kimberly looked down upon the Rangers, her eyes burning with golden fire. She extended her hand down towards Dragon Ranger. The Phoenix Raptor reached out and wrapped a fiery claw around the Red Ranger while lifting him from the roof.

 

Dragon Ranger clenched his jaw to keep from screaming as the fiery power of the Phoenix Claw bled through his armor and burnt his skin.

 

The Phoenix lifted him closer and licked her lips at the sight of him squirming. “This is quite a reunion, isn’t it, Tommy?”  

 

“I’m starting to remember why we broke up,” Dragon Ranger said as he struggled against her. “Get your claws off me!”

 

The other Rangers attacked from below.

 

Lion Ranger leapt onto a building ledge and thrust his hand forward. “Hand of Fate!”

 

The Ranger fired a beam of pale-green light from his fist. The beam splashed harmlessly across the Phoenix Force above.

 

Ninjared unsheathed his sword. “Concrete your attacks on her claw! We have to break Tommy free before she kills him!”

 

Ninjared energized his saber with crimson power and swung diagonally through the air. His blade produced a wave of energy that shattered harmlessly against the Phoenix Raptor’s claw.

 

Kiba Ranger and Tenma Ranger attacked simultaneously from opposite sides of the Phoenix.

 

“Sound Bite!” Kiba Ranger fired a jagged stream of white, sonic energy that streaked towards the Phoenix Raptor.

 

“Gravity Well!” Tenma Ranger extended his hands and fired a rolling torrent of blue-tinted gravity energy.

 

The combined blasts rippled harmlessly across the flames of the Phoenix.

 

Kimberly laughed as the Phoenix claw tightened its grip on Dragon Ranger. The Red Ranger screamed as explosions sparked across his armor. As impossible as it seemed, the Phoenix was even more powerful than before.

 

***

 

Ashley, Chris and Justin thumbed through as much literature as they could within the Hellfire Club library.

 

“This is stupid,” Justin said. “We should be out looking for that Scott guy and the Shard instead.”

 

Ashley shook her head. “We have no way of looking for him. This is our best shot. These people worshiped the Phoenix…They have to have some information we can use to stop her.”

 

Chris arced an eyebrow. “You’re taking this personally, aren’t you?”

 

“My boyfriend’s ex turned into a cosmic Phoenix Raptor and is trying to kill him as we speak,” Ashley said. “I never liked Kimberly in the first place…I really can’t stand her now.”

 

The doors to the library blasted open as a group of Hellfire grunts leapt inside. Scott stood among them, along with a pale-skinned woman in tight black leather that matched the midnight color of her hair.

 

Justin sighed. “I think we had better luck in space.”

 

***

 

Wes and his Silver Guardian units helped evacuate the city streets below into the nearest shelters. By the look of the Phoenix, Wes doubted the shelters would do any good. 

 

The Guardian looked up to see the Rangers launch a flurry of attacks at the Phoenix Force. The attacks lit up the sky but caused the Phoenix no damage. And it looked like the Phoenix Raptor had one of the Red Ranger’s in its claws.

 

“That’s it…” Wes said as he sprinted towards the nearest fire escape. He looked over his shoulder to his men. “Finish the evacuation. I’m helping the Rangers…”

 

He armed his morphed. “Quantum Fire!”

 

Fiery energy circled around him as he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

***

 

The Phoenix Raptor tightened its grasp again. Dragon Ranger could have sword he heard his own ribs crack from the pressure. The pain was intense.  

 

“Kimberly…” Dragon Ranger said as he struggled to use his Ki to break free from her grasp. “Come on, you have to fight this thing. You’re stronger than it is…”

 

Kimberly laughed. “You never truly cared for this fleshy shell. You abounded her, and your child.”

 

Dragon Ranger narrowed his brow beneath his visor. “My what?!”

 

“Yes…she never did tell you, did she?” the Phoenix taunted. “Kimberly was with child when she left this city. She has spawned the Child of The Phoenix and the Heaven Fire Star.”

 

Dragon Ranger closed his eyes tight beneath his visor. He was getting beaten by her grasp, and would not let himself lose emotionally too.

 

The Red Ranger summoned a massive burst of Ki energy that broke him free from the Phoenix Raptor claws and shook the city streets below with a massive shockwave.

 

Kimberly narrowed her eyes and looked towards the distance as if a thought had just struck her. “The Child of the Phoenix…my child…”

 

The Phoenix shot through the air heading east.

 

“No!” Dragon Ranger shouted. He unsheathed his Thunder Sword and raised the blade into the air while grasping his red Thunder Gem. “Thunderzord arise! Red Dragon!”

 

The Red Dragon, Ryuuseiou, flew down from the skies with a snap of his tail. The red-armored beast flew across the rooftops with grace and power as Dragon Ranger leapt towards his zord. 

 

Dragon Ranger landed on Red Dragon’s head and leaned forward as the zord shot after the Phoenix with a streak of crimson light.

 

*** 

 

Justin, Ashley, and Chris snapped into fighting stances after summoning their Ninjetti power.

 

The Black Queen slid a black whip out from behind her back and smiled at the three rangers with a look of sick pleasure in her eyes. “You see, Shaw…I told you they’d come back here eventually.”

 

Scott, still possessed by Shaw, smiled wickedly at the rangers. “You won’t find what you’re looking for, I’m afraid. The Phoenix is omnipotent. Nothing can defeat her. She is fire made-”

 

“We heard the speech already,” Justin said.

 

“Well then,” Scott said. “Let’s not delay this any further.”

 

Scott extended his hand as his palm flashed with golden energy. The blast slammed against the three rangers and sent them flying backward, crashing through book shelves.

 

Ashley rolled back into a crouched fighting stance and fired a bolt of golden lightning. Scott emitted an energy shield that deflected the blast, causing the lightning to ricochet and exploded through a nearby wall.  

 

The Black Queen smiled seductively as she stalked towards Ashley. “My, you’re a powerful little thing.”

 

Ashley wrinkled her nose with disgust and pounced forward. She swung a reverse axe kick down towards the Black Queen’s neck. The villain dodged the blow and lashed out with her whip.

 

The whip wrapped around Ashley’s ankle and pulled her off her feet. The Black Queen swung Ashley off her feet and sent her crashing through another bookshelf.

 

Chris and Justin charged in.

 

“Give us the Shard!” Justin shouted.

 

The Black Queen snapped her whip, firing a dark energy pulse that exploded between the two rangers as they dove for cover.

 

Justin rolled onto his knees and slammed his fist against the floor. The floor splintered from the shockwave of Justin’s quake blast, and the Black Queen nearly lost her balance.

 

Chris dashed forward and extended his hand, firing a volley of razor-sharp water disks from his palm. The blasts slammed against the Black Queen, knocking her backward and cutting across her skin.  

 

***

 

The Phoenix streaked across the skies with the Red Dragon on her tail. She moved just slow enough so the zord could keep up, almost as if she was taunting the Red Ranger.

 

“Red Dragon!” the Red Ranger shouted. “Fire blast!”

 

Red Dragon opened its jaw and fired a torrent of flame that splashed harmlessly across the Phoenix.

 

Dragon Ranger pulled out the black gem of the late Shadow Ranger’s zord. “Shadow Dragon! Arise!”

 

The black-armored, medieval-style dragon swooped down from the skies and flew towards the Phoenix’s flank. The dragon opened its mouth and spat a fiery spear of black energy towards the Phoenix. The blast exploded against the Phoenix, but only slightly altered her course.

 

Phoenix laughed mockingly and climbed upward, swinging around towards the two dragon zords.

 

Dragon Ranger rolled his hands into fists.

 

“Shadow Dragon, rise up!” The black-armored zord crackled with energy as it assumed its humanoid form.

 

Shadow Dragon fired steams of black fire from its chest cannons, as Red Dragon opened its jaw and shot another torrent of flame towards the Phoenix.

 

The Phoenix Force snapped her wings, deflecting the blast while extending her claws forward. Twin blasts of cosmic fire burst forth and exploded against the two zords with massive bursts of spark, knocking them from the air.

 

Red Dragon crashed on the ground and skid backward. Shadow Dragon crashed onto the earth nearby.

 

Dragon Ranger held onto his control globe to keep his balance. He narrowed his eyes beneath his visor. He knew the Phoenix was just toying with him, and he did not like it one bit.

 

The Shadow gem and his Heaven Fire-Star Gem both started to glow at the same interval. The two zords wanted to combine into a new formation.

 

Dragon Ranger commanded his zord to take flight back into the air.

 

“Red Dragon!” The Red Ranger shouted as his zord was encased in a shell of red energy and shot towards the sky like a comet.

 

“Shadow Dragon!” Black energy encased the zord before it streaked towards the skies.

 

The two shooting columns of energy started circling around each other. “…armor merge to…”

 

The Red Dragon wrapped around Shadow Dragon like a suit of armor. The red dragon head formed a gauntlet over the zord’s right hand, and the Shadow Dragon head formed a gauntlet over the zord’s left hand.

 

“Shadow-Fire Megazord!” Dragon Ranger shouted as the zord hovered in midair and extended its broad, black wings.

 

The Megazord snapped its wings and shot towards Phoenix like a bullet. The Shadow Fire-Megazord slammed against the Phoenix and forced the cosmic entity downward.

 

The Phoenix grabbed hold of the Megazord with her claws, which penetrated the zord’s armor and sent fiery blasts of energy exploding against the zord.

 

Secondary explosions blasted in the zord’s cockpit, exploding against Dragon Ranger with a burst of spark.

 

Dragon Ranger latched onto his zord’s control sphere to keep his balance. “Shadow-Fire Megazord! Dark-Light Inferno!”

 

The center of the Megazord’s chest irised open and unleashed a torrent of black-tinted white-how flame. The blast splashed against the Phoenix and pushed her against the ground with a massive shockwave. The shockwave thundered as it tore across the grounds and ignited the wind itself.

 

The Phoenix cried and shot upward, thrashing its wings across the Megazord’s armor. Explosions tore across the zord and knocked it backward.

 

The Shadow-Fire Megazord crashed back-first onto the ground and skid backward while aiming its gauntlets towards the Phoenix.

 

“Dragon Fury!” The dragon-head gauntlet fired streamed of fiery energy that splashed across the Phoenix as she swooped downward to attack.

 

Phoenix grabbed the Megazord with her claws and lifted it off the ground. She thrust her head forward. The fiery beak of the Phoenix phased through the zord and pushed into the cockpit, practically blinding Dragon Ranger with a brilliant burst of golden light.

 

The light slammed the Ranger against the back of the cockpit. Dragon Ranger crashed against the ground as strands of golden energy sparked against his armor, pinning him there.

 

Satisfied with her work, The Phoenix Force shot through the skies with a comet of flame towards Florida, where she would reclaim her son.

 

***

 

Scott Shaw extended his hand. His palm pulsed with golden energy that slammed against the rangers and pinned them against the wall.

 

The golden light intensified, practically crushing the rangers’ chests.

 

The Black Queen smiled seductively and wrapped her arms around Scott as he held the rangers at bay. “I love it when you exert your powers over others. You’re so dominating…”

 

“Quiet, my pet,” Scott said. “The rangers are becoming a nuisance. I want them wiped out. These three will serve as bait and lure the others back to England. Once they’re here…we will use the Goddess Phoenix to kill them all.”

 

Scott could see the doubt in the Black Queen’s eyes. “I wouldn’t dare give the Phoenix orders. But…the shard will attract her here. And when she comes…there are other ways of making her appreciate us for the just followers we are.”

 

***

 

Tyler was about 2 1/2- years-old.

 

Kimberly’s aunt pushed Tyler back and forth on a swing set in the aunt’s back yard.

 

Kimberly landed in the shadows nearby and watched while taking cover near a tree. She stood silently, fire still dancing in her eyes as she watched her son. The site tugged at the more human aspects of her heart.

 

She would just watch for a few minutes, Kimberly told herself. Then she would take what belonged to her.

 

***

 

Strands of golden energy continued to spark against Dragon Ranger’s armor, keeping him pinned against the floor of his zord’s cockpit.

 

He clenched his jaw as his mind flashed back. “Kimberly…”

 

Their first kiss.

 

“Tommy…hi,” she said, shaking away her surprise and trying to recover. “Come in…”


Tommy stepped in and Kimberly shut the door behind him. He looked nervous. “Hey, Kimberly…I just wanted to apologize for just…disappearing. I-”


She reached forward and wrapped her arms around him, holding him a tight embrace. Tommy hesitated, taken aback like never before. He slowly put his hands around her lower back. “What’s this for…?”


She pulled away slightly, keeping her arms around him as she looked into his eyes. A single tear had rolled down her cheek. She smiled at him. “Because if you ever do that again, I’ll hurt you…”


Tommy smiled back. “Oh really?”

 
She nodded. “I’ve come to care about you a lot…”


“Same here…” Tommy said. Their eyes lingered on each other for a moment. They reached forward and kissed while pulling each other into a tight embrace.

 

Their last dance…

 

Tommy and Kimberly continued to sway across the dance floor.


“I don’t want to give up on us,” Tommy said. “We’ve been through so much…”


“I know, but I…”


The sound of Tommy’s communicator interrupted them.


“Kimberly…” Tommy said. “Tell me we can make this work.”


The communicator sounded again, and Tommy ignored it as he looked into Kimberly’s eyes. “Please…”


The communicator sounded again as a tear streamed down Kimberly’s face. “You’d better go…”


Tommy sighed. “I love you.”


She nodded as he leaned forward. The two kissed slowly, knowing it would probably be their last, before pulling apart. Tommy gave her a longing look before leaving the Pool Hall.

 

Dragon Ranger tightened his hands into fists. “That is it!”

 

He bolted upward as the strands of golden energy shattered off of him.

 

The Shadow-Fire Megazord energized and shot through the skies, how on the trail of the Phoenix Force.

 

***

 

Ashley, Justin, and Chris were in their civilian forms while getting tied down to a demonic symbol engraved on a rooftop.

 

Scott wore dark crimson robes and held the shard of the Emcron Crystal. Golden light lashed from his hands and danced across the crystal’s surface. 

 

Thunder suddenly boomed above as lightning scorched the skies. Clouds opened and threw down a torrent of rain that splashed across the city streets.

 

***

 

Dragon Ranger shot down from the skies like a bullet. He used his Kiryoku to control his descent while flipping through the air and landing on a rooftop of Kimberly’s aunt’s neighbor.

 

His heart caught in his chest as he laid eyes on his son for the first time. The toddler had tossled brown hair and wore a small red T-shirt. The child’s laughter tugged at the Red Ranger’s heart.

 

Dragon Ranger noticed Kimberly standing near a tree below.

 

Kimberly extended her hands and summoned the Phoenix manifestation with a brilliant flash of golden, fiery energy. The Phoenix fired a tk blast that smashed the aunt off her feet and sent her skidding across the ground.

 

Tyler started to cry as the Phoenix extended her claws towards the boy.

 

Dragon Ranger dove downward with his fists held forward. He smashed against the Phoenix, who was taken off guard and knocked backward by the attack.

 

The Red Ranger pressed forward while he had the advantage. “Magna Blast!”

 

He extended his arms and fired a volley of crimson energy darts that splashed across the Phoenix, sending ripples across the flames of the raptor manifestation.

 

The Phoenix suddenly looked up towards the sky and knitted her brow. She sensed the Emcron Crystal, the only power that could contain her. It had to be destroyed.

 

The Phoenix ignited with a brilliant flash of light and shot towards the skies like a comet.

 

Tommy powered down his armor and ran to his crying son.

 

*** 

 

The Phoenix shot across the night skies of England like a comet. Shaw looked to the approaching wave of energy with a smile on his face. He slowly pulled a small vile of potion from behind his back and opened it.

 

Magick liquid steamed from the small bottle and rippled through the air.

 

The Phoenix flared as she landed on the rooftop. But her flame flickered as she breathed in a faint scent of the potion. The scent awakened bodily instincts which, along with her memories of Scott, filled her with lust and desire.

 

The Phoenix took a long hard look at Scott. It was no longer planets and stars that she craved.

 

***

 

Tommy held his son in his arms and tried to keep from panicking. He had to get Tyler somewhere safe, but where.

 

I suppose I could drop him off of at the neighbors. Tommy quickly shook his head. What the hell am I thinking? He could not just leave his son in the care of some stranger.

 

If he was in Angel Grove he could have taken Tyler to a shelter. That clearly was not an option.

 

I could try child protective services…he mentally kicked himself for having no idea where child protection services was located at. Aw, man…as a father, I officially suck.

 

A police car suddenly pulled alongside the curb. Tommy took a deep breath and ran over to them.  

 

Kimberly’s aunt slowly stirred and sat up on the ground. Tommy ran over to her side. “Are you okay?”

 

She moaned and nodded. She narrowed her brow and looked up to Tommy. “Who are you?”

 

“I need you to watch Tyler,” Tommy said.

 

“Tyler!” the aunt practically tore the boy from Tommy and hugged him tightly while sobbing.

 

Tommy’s heart sank as he took a deep breath and ran back to his zord.

 

***

 

“My goddess,” Shaw said as he kissed the Phoenix’s hand.

 

The Phoenix smiled and pulled Scott close, kissing him full on the mouth.

 

Justin scoffed from the rooftop. “This is messed up...”

 

Scott pulled away from the Phoenix and looked down to his captive rangers. “My goddess, I have brought these gifts to you. Please…except them as offerings from your humble servant…”

 

The three rangers struggled to break free of their binds, but they were still too weak.

 

An evil grin spread on her face as she looked down to the trapped Rangers and licked her lips. The potion had sparked her body chemistry, tapping into her lust for Scott. The result interfered with the Phoenix control only slightly, limiting some of her power.

 

Explosions suddenly sparked against her chest and knocked her backward.

 

The Phoenix quickly rose to her feet and snapped around to see the giant V-Rex stomping forward from the distance. Time Fire, Ninjared, Lion Ranger, Kiba Ranger and Tenma Ranger rode the top of the zord as it stomped onto the scene. 

 

The three Rangers leapt from the zord and landed on the roof. Tenma Ranger cut Justin, Ashley, and Chris free while helping them to their feet.

 

“DV-Defender!” Time Fire shouted as he fired lances of red energy from his blaster.

 

The Phoenix erected a fiery force field that absorbed the blast. She merely extended her hand, and sparks exploded around the gathered heroes, sending them falling from the roof and crashing onto the streets below.

 

The Phoenix manifested her fiery raptor and fired streams of cosmic flame towards the Rangers. Ashley, Chris, and Justin morphed into their Ninjetti forms just as the flame blasts exploded all around them, tossing them in different directions across the street.

 

Ninjared and Tenma Ranger crashed through a nearby building’s window, Time Fire and Justin went splintering through a tree, and the others went skidding across the pavement.

 

Shaw watched from above. He was using his psionic power to subtlety manipulate the Phoenix, taking advantage of the potion he had used to bring her to her senses. “At last…” he said quietly. “My goddess will appreciate me.”

 

Black flame suddenly exploded against the Phoenix and sent her skidding across the streets, leaving a trail of golden flame in her wake.

 

The Shadow-Fire Megazord swooped down from the skies as Dragon Ranger leapt from the cockpit and joined his friends below. He immediately ran to Ashley’s side and helped her to her feet. “You okay?”

 

“Wonderful,” she said.

 

The Rangers regrouped.

 

“What did I miss?” Dragon Ranger asked.

 

“Shaw has her under control somehow,” Ninjared said. “It’s dampened her powers, but not too much.”

 

“Not enough,” Tenma Ranger said.

 

The Phoenix extended its wings and screeched at the top of her lungs. The Phoenix power created a cyclone of Fire and wind that destroyed about five blocks, sending rubble circling around the air.

 

The Rangers were snagged by the torrent of power and sent sprawling through the air. Debris smashed against their bodies as the wind whipped them around, threatening to tear them apart.

 

Dragon Ranger grabbed hold of Ashley to cover her unprotected head as they circled around, rubble and flame slamming against them.

 

“Tommy, let go,” Ashley said, raising her voice to be heard. “Don’t worry about me, you have to stop the Phoenix!”

 

“Not until I get you clear of this storm,” Dragon Ranger said. “I’m not letting anything happen to you…I love you.”

 

“I love you too,” she said. “Now quit being stubborn and go kick her butt.”

 

“Okay…” Dragon Ranger said reluctantly. “But Ashley…if we make it out of this alive…I want you to marry me…”

 

“You’re asking me that now?” Ashley said. “Your priorities need work…”

 

“I think my priorities are just fine,” Dragon Ranger said.

 

Ashley held onto him tightly. “Of course I will. But what do you say you take care of the Phoenix before we set a date?”

 

“I love you,” he said.

 

“I love you too.”

 

Dragon Ranger let go and hurled himself deeper into the raging storm of fire and wind.

 

***

 

Dragon Ranger, Kiba Ranger, Lion Ranger, and Tenma Ranger shot towards the Phoenix through streaks of multi-colored energy.

 

“We’re taking this fight to the Astral Plane,” Dragon Ranger said. “We have to stop the Phoenix while she’s weakened, then break Shaw’s control over Kimberly.”

 

“But Tommy,” Lion Ranger said. “How can we get to the Astral Plane without Zordon?”

 

“I’ve picked up a few new tricks since then,” Dragon Ranger said. “Just follow my lead.”

 

***

 

The four Rangers manifested inside of Kimberly’s mind via the Astral Plane. They stood on an asteroid that floated around the darkness, which was pierced by flickers of flame.

 

“Stay alert,” Dragon Ranger said to the others.

 

Bright light suddenly flooded the darkness. The Phoenix manifestation appeared and streaked towards them with her wings extended like blades. The Rangers dove upward as Phoenix smashed through the asteroid, pulverizing it to pieces.

 

Lion Ranger thrust his hands towards the Phoenix. “Shining Fury!”

 

The Ranger fired a pulse of light that splashed harmlessly against the Phoenix Force. The Phoenix manifestation turned and streaked back towards the Rangers. 

 

Tenma Ranger and Dragon Ranger moved in towards the Phoenix Force’s side, but the Phoenix slashed her wing across their chests, swatting them backwards like insects.

 

Lion Ranger leapt over to Dragon Ranger. “We’re going about this wrong. We’re still thinking about fighting like we’re in the real world. None of this is real.”

 

“Right,” Dragon Ranger said. “Guys…focus your powers and minds. Let’s create a weapon to stop the Phoenix once and for all.”

 

Ninjared placed his hands in front of his chest in a Ninpo pose, while the other Rangers placed their right fists against their left palms. They closed their eyes beneath their helmets.

 

They started to glow with their respective colors as energy swirled around their Astral bodies. Columns of light erupted from the Rangers and shot across the Astral Plane. The columns of power combined and started to take shape.

 

A massive red-armored suit of armor with shoulder blades took shape. The chest armor was trimmed with intricate golden patterns. Black arms grew from the chest armor. Gold-trimmed red armor wrapped around the arms, forming hands. The right hand was shaped like the head of the head of the tiger, and the left hand was shaped like the head of a dragon.

 

A red-and-gold head of a lion appeared beneath the chest armor, forming a waist buckle. A black lower torso and legs took shape. Gold-trimmed red armored wrapped around the legs and ankles.

 

Four wings extended from the back of the figure. Two wings were red and dragon like, and two wings were Pegasus-like and gold.

 

A golden helmet appeared on top of the figure. The helmet had three blade-like horns extending from it. The eyes of the helmet flashed with golden fire.

 

Symbols started to burn in a column down the left side of the figure’s chest: The ape, dragon, lion, tiger, and tenma. The Rangers streaked into the figure, and entered spheres composed of strands of psionic data-like energy.

 

“Astral-Force Megazord!” the Rangers shouted.

 

The Astral-Force Megazord was more than the sum of their powers. It was the sum of their spirits, minds, and soul.

 

The Phoenix extended her claws and fired streams of flame. The flame blasted against the Megazord, sending it flying backward across the Astral Plane. The Phoenix shrieked and snapped her wings before shooting towards the Megazord.

 

The Astral-Force Megazord snapped its wings and shot towards its opponent. The Megazord extended its fists, which started to pulse with golden, fiery energy. The Phoenix and Megazord slammed against each other, creating a shockwave of energy that sent ripples across the plane.

 

The Phoenix gripped the Megazord in her claws and gripped down tightly.

 

Astral-Force Megazord extended its right arm, and a golden, double-edged blade extended from the tiger hand’s jaw. The Megazord swung the blade through a streak of gold energy that knocked the Phoenix Force backward.

 

The Megazord thrust its left arm forward and fired a rolling pulse of crimson energy that splashed across the Phoenix.

 

The Phoenix circled around and slashed her wings against the Megazord.

 

The Astral-Force Megazord used its wings to steady itself while swinging its blade towards the Phoenix Force.

 

The blade plunged through the Phoenix, but the cosmic entity continued its advance.

 

The Phoenix Force splashed against the Megazord and surrounded it with flame. The flame penetrated the Astral-Force Megazord and surrounded the Rangers. The cosmic flames sparked against their astral forms.

 

The Phoenix tightened her grasp, sending flame coursing through the Rangers’ astral forms, filling them with pain.

 

“This was a better idea in theory!” Tenma Ranger shouted.

 

“Keep it together guys!” Dragon Ranger shouted.

 

The Ranger symbols on the Megazord flashed with their respective colors. An invisible force of energy ripped the Phoenix Force off of the Astral-Force Megazord.

 

“Astral-Blade!” Dragon Ranger shouted. “Astral Blade! Psi-Fire, ignite!”

 

The Megazord’s  saber ignited with brilliant, golden flame. The saber speared forward, plunging through the Phoenix Force’s chest.

 

The Phoenix Force snapped her wings, creating a torrent of psionic energy that blew the Megazord backward. Tendrils of flame flickered against the Megazord with bursts of spark.

 

The Rangers’ cockpits flashed with energy overload, which exploded against the Rangers, electrocuting their Ranger forms. The Rangers screamed with pain as the Megazord whipped back and forth across the torrent of psionic power.

 

The Phoenix shot forward through her energy cyclone and streaked through the Megazord, creating a massive explosion that ripped the Astral-Force Megazord apart. The Rangers were thrown from their cockpits and went tumbling across the plane.

 

The Phoenix Force flared brightly, extending its wings across the entire plane.

 

“We have to trap it…” Dragon Ranger said. “With or without the Shard.”

 

“How?” Kiba Ranger asked.

 

“Our powers,” Dragon Ranger said. “We can do this.”

 

Tenma Ranger nodded in agreement. “He’s right…Zordon and Sensei used to imprison bad guys all the time.”

 

“How?” Kiba Ranger asked again.

 

“We’ll trap the Phoenix on the Astral Plane,” Dragon Ranger said.

 

“How?!”

 

Dragon Ranger looked to his brother. “Channel your powers through me. All of you…”

 

The Rangers started to glow with their respective colors. Green, blue, white, and red energy splashed across Dragon Ranger and seeped into his astral form. The Dragon Ranger’s astral form shifted to resemble his old Inferno Armor, which was destroyed during the war against Zedd.

 

“Rage of Inferno!” Dragon Ranger thrust his arms forward and fired a circling column of fiery white energy.

 

The energy circled around the Phoenix and started to mesh with her own flame.

 

Dragon Ranger shifted through the raging storm of energy inside of him and fired a white, jagged wave of sonic power. The power wave shot forward and punctured through the Phoenix Force’s chest.

 

The strands of sonic energy started to circle around the Phoenix and form a box-shaped sonic for field.

 

Dragon Ranger’s astral form crackled with strands of fiery energy that sent ripples through the Astral Plane. The Ranger thrust his fist forward and fired a beam of pale-green light.

 

The light splashed across the sonic fields, enforcing the fields and penetrating them at the same time. The light pierced through the fields and into the Phoenix Force’s infinite soul, connecting her with the sonics.

 

Dragon Ranger fired a jagged pulse of blue energy. The gravity energy splashed across the containment sphere forming around the Phoenix. Gravity, a force that had no place in Astral Plane, anchored the containment cube to that plane.

 

Dragon Ranger fired another pulse of white energy that surrounded the containment cube with the power of a psionic pulse. The entrapment caused a massive explosion to ripple across the Astral Plane, washing the Phoenix Force away in its waves.

 

The Red Ranger flashed with energy as his astral form returned to normal.

 

The Rangers regrouped, drifting across the void of the plane.

 

Kiba Ranger placed a hand on Dragon Ranger’s shoulder. “You okay, big brother?”

 

Dragon Ranger shook his head. “I need to sit down…”

 

“You need your body first,” Tenma Ranger said.   

 

Laughter suddenly echoed across the plane. A golden image of Shaw, as he was before his body’s death, appeared hovering in the air.

 

“It’s Shaw!” Tenma Ranger shouted.

 

“He’s inside Kimberly’s mind,” Lion Ranger said.

 

Shaw extended his hand. Invisible energy exploded against the Rangers with bursts of spark and sent them flying backward.

 

“You should not have come here, Rangers,” Shaw said. “This is my domain. Regardless of how much power you possess, I am the master of the mind.”

 

“Hit him,” Dragon Ranger said. “Star Fire!” Dragon Ranger thrust his arms forward and launched a comet of fiery energy at the villain.

 

“Hand of Fate!” Lion Ranger punched forward, firing a beam of pale-green light with his fist.

 

“Sound Bite!” Kiba Ranger fired a jagged beam of white sonic power.

 

Ninpo fire assault!” Comets of flame streaked from Ninjared’s back and shot towards the Phoenix.

 

“Gravity Pulse!” Tenma Ranger fired a jagged pulse of gravity energy.

 

The combined blasts splashed harmlessly across Shaw.

 

The villain snarled with madness-driven excitement. “Your powers mean nothing here!”

 

“That’s it, Shaw,” Dragon Ranger said as his visor flashed with golden fire. “You have this coming…Astral-Force Megazord Power!”

 

Ninjared placed his hands in front of his chest in a Ninpo pose, while the other Rangers placed their right fists against their left palms. They closed their eyes beneath their helmets.

 

They started to glow with their respective colors as energy swirled around their Astral bodies. Columns of light erupted from the Rangers and shot across the Astral Plane. The columns of power combined and started to take shape.

 

The Astral-Force Megazord took shape once again as the Rangers gathered in their cockpits.

 

Shaw fired tendrils of psionic energy that exploded against the Megazord as it shot forward to attack.

 

The dragon hand fired a pulse of crimson energy that smashed against Shaw and sent him tumbling backward across the Astral Plane.

 

A double-edged sword extended from the tiger hand. The sword started to pulse with energy.

 

“Astral-Blade!” Dragon Ranger shouted. “Astral Blade! Psi-Fire, ignite!”

 

The Megazord’s  saber ignited with brilliant, golden flame. The saber speared forward, piercing through Shaw’s astral form.

 

Shaw opened his eyes wide with shock as cracks of golden power ripped across his astral form. Shaw exploded, the blade’s energy ripping him into shreds that scattered across the Astral Plane.

 

***

 

The energy cyclone in London collapsed as Kimberly fell to the ground. Nearby, Scott collapsed to his knees and screamed as Shaw was torn piece-by-piece from his mind.

 

The Ranger returned to their bodies and collapsed to the ground. Steam rose from their armor as golden flame flickered across the air before slowly dissipating.

 

Tenma Ranger briefed a large sigh of relief as he rolled onto his back. “Can we go home now?”

 

***

 

A day passed.

 

Tommy waited in the hallway outside of Kimberly’s apartment with his arms crossed. Kimberly was inside, trying to calm Scott down. He had tried to stop Tommy from seeing Kimberly, and Tommy had proceeded to almost kick Scott’s ass.

 

Kimberly slid out from her apartment door and stepped outside. “This isn’t a good idea, Tommy.”

 

“We need to talk,” Tommy said.

 

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Kimberly said.

 

Tommy’s eyes. “What about Tyler?”

 

“What about him?” Kimberly said.  

 

“How could you hide this from me?” Tommy asked. “How?”

 

Kimberly shook her head. She couldn’t bring herself to make eye contact with him. “I didn’t want him involved…”

 

“Involved in what?” Tommy raised his voice.

 

“This!” Kimberly shouted. “You’ve spent more than six years doing nothing but fighting. Bandora, Zedd, the Gorma, the Machines, the list goes on. I didn’t want my son involved in any of that. I didn’t want him to have a father involved in any of that.”

 

“He’s my son, Kimberly.” Tommy narrowed his eyes. “You had no right to keep this from me. Why didn‘t you…I would have helped you, Kimberly.”

 

Kimberly scoffed. “Are you even listening to me? What if something happens to you. Or what if someone uses Tyler to get to you. Do you have any idea how dangerous-”

 

“Funny, the only person that’s tried to hurt Tyler is you,” Tommy snapped. “You almost killed him today.”

 

Kimberly slapped him across the face. “You of all people should understand what I was going through. That was not me.”

 

“The point is…” Tommy sighed with frustration.

 

“The point is you’re dangerous,” Kimberly said. “You’re the one still involved with all this…this. I moved to Florida to try and have a normal life. So my son could have a normal life. You are far from normal.”

 

“Kimberly…”

 

“No,” she said firmly. “He’s confused enough as he is, he doesn’t need you in his life messing things up anymore. He has me, he has my aunt, and he has Scott. we’re his family, not you.”

 

Tommy knitted his brow. “Scott? The guy who got you into this mess.”

 

“Tommy, don’t make me play the Evil Green Ranger card again,” Kimberly said. “Scott couldn’t help what he did. He loves me, and he loves Tyler.”

 

She sighed and shook her head. “Goodbye, Tommy.”

 

She went into her apartment and slammed the door shut.

 

***

 

Tommy returned to Angel Grove the next day.

 

He went into Ashley’s apartment near campus and sat in a chair, leaning his head back with a sigh.

 

Ashley walked over to him. “Do you want to talk about it?”

 

“Not now,” he said.

 

Ashley scooted him over and sat in the chair with him, draping her legs over his lap. “Well…there is something else we need to talk about. Of a happier nature.”

 

Tommy smiled. “I know the timing wasn’t the best-”

 

“Did you mean it?” she asked.

 

“Of course,” he said. “I love you, and I want us to be married.”

 

She smiled and pulled him into a tight hug.

 

“And my timing wasn’t that off,” Tommy said as they pulled out of the hug, but kept their arms draped across each other. He leaned his forehead against hers. “It was a surprise, wasn’t it?”

 

“Yeah,” she said. “But it was too cliché.”

 

“Cliché?” he said with a smile. “That was so not cliché.”

 

Ashley arced an eyebrow. “You didn’t watch TV much in high school did you?”

 

“No, Ash, I fought evil in high school,” he said. “We’ve been over this.”

 

She laughed and playfully shuffled his hair.

 

“Hey,” he said defensively as he lifted her up, and they moved to the couch.

 

***

 

Tommy walked towards campus the next morning.

 

The Dark Man stepped out from an alley nearby. “Hello, Tommy.”

 

Tommy, never surprised by the Dark Man’s appearances anymore, turned to face him. “I’d say to make it quick, but you always do.”

 

“I just wanted to congratulate you,” the Dark Man said. “Few Masters were ever capable of imprisoning an entity as powerful as the Phoenix…”

 

“She was weakened,” Tommy said. “Now…I’m assuming you didn’t show up just to congratulate me.”

 

The Dark Man nodded. “I also came to warn you. Spend this next year well, because that’s all the time you have.”

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “The final conflict you told me about?”

 

The Dark Man nodded. “It is almost time…”  

 

End