Ultimate Time Rangers: Chapter Six

Time Shadow

 

Dorunero and Lira were asleep as Gien stood  alone in the jail’s main chamber. The droid preferred not to think about what the bloated alien fish and young humanoid female did in that bed together, for fear of overloading his neural net.

 

Gien scanned over the various suspended prisoners held along the shelfs. He slowly lifted one of the cylinders of a prisoner and carried the prisoner to the cryogenic matrix. He placed the cylinder on the matrix platform and slid the chamber shut.

 

The matrix filled with steam as strands of energy twirled inside. Genetic material unraveled and reassembled The prisoner returned to his normal size and revived.

 

The criminal’s name was Sandoora. His oblong shaped head had a large, red eye slit on each side. His mouth and jagged teeth were so large, they looked like they were consuming his entire face. His body was covered in mostly blue armor, with straps of grenades along his chest and legs. He carried a double-chamber plasma rifle.

 

Gien leaned in towards Sandoora while the criminal was still adjusting to reanimation. “We are in the 21st century,” he said quietly, not wanting to wake Dorunero or Lira.  “You are to go out into this world…and find something for me…”

 

Sandoora grinned. The terrorist had a feeling he was going to enjoy the 21st century very much.

 

***

 

Damien and Sion were hunched over a coffee table. The rangers’ eyes were open wide with awe and desire. Damien smiled. “That’s the biggest slab of meat I’ve ever laid eyes on…”

 

A raw piece of meat was lying on the table. Jenn walked over and wrapped it up in white paper. She stuck the meat in a small cooler and walked away. “You’re drooling,” she said to Damien.

 

Damien’s face turned slightly red as he wiped his mouth. Sion pointed at his friend and laughed. Jenn handed the cooler for Wes to take outside where Lucas was waiting.

 

Lucas was probably the most busy out of all of them, Wes knew. His driver services were well requested by the elderly, along with certain members of the upper class who occasionally felt the need to be driven around by someone who was not their chauffer, and not in a limo.

 

Wes walked down the outside steps towards the small parking lot. He noticed Lucas loading a few more boxes into the rear of the van. Lucas suddenly winced in pain and grabbed his chest. Pain ripped through his body and him to his knees. 

 

Wes hesitated on the steps. His face grew pale. Even though they had only known each other for a few short months, Wes hated seeing his friend in such pain.

 

Lucas was dying of a rare disease that even the 31st century had no cure for. 

 

Wes took a deep breath and walked down the steps. He threw on his best smile and handed Lucas the cooler. “This should be the last of it…”

 

Wes casually leaned against the van. “So, Lucas…” Wes cleared his throat. “Do you think we should tell Jenn and the others? About…you know…”

 

“No,” Lucas said without making eye contact as he shut the van’s rear doors. He started walking towards the driver-side door. “I have about a year left. I’ll tell them when it gets much closer to…time.”

 

Lucas got into the van and drove off. He was scheduled to make a delivery to the 3rd TOTAL R & D Lab, not knowing that a certain terrorist named Sandoora was on his way to the same place.

 

***

 

The 3rd TOTAL R & D Lab was in the middle of an industrial/business district on the city’s far north side. The building was an architectural work of art with a wide, marble-floored lobby.

 

A Starbucks was off to the side in the lobby for visitors. The main desk was a massive U-shaped center in the middle of the lobby. Escalators and Elevators lined the outer walls. A four-sided television cube hung from the ceiling. On each screen, the cube displayed the latest business news.

 

The current broadcast was a bout a merger with INET that was recently made official after months of behind-the-scenes work. 

 

Sandoora crashed into the main lobby along with a group of junk droids called Zenitto. The criminal aimed his weapon towards the ceiling and fired two rounds. People inside ran and screamed in panic towards the nearest exit.

 

The lobby reception triggered a silent alarm, and Sandoora shot her down.

 

Sandoora walked past the lobby desk towards the nearest elevator shaft. He ripped off the elevator doors and leapt inside, landing on the basement level. He ripped open the elevator door and walked into a concrete hallway lined with pipes. The terrorist led the Zenitto forward through the hall as a group of security guards started to pour in from the corridor from up ahead.

 

The guards opened fire, but their bullets bounced harmlessly off of the terrorist.

 

Sandoora did not break his pace as he walked past the soldiers while using his rifle as a club to bat them each aside, smashing their skulls and cracking their bones.

 

The terrorist turned to a group of various switches and electrical devices along the wall that he did not recognize. Except for a single switch. Sandoora flipped the switch and activated the research lab’s lock-down procedure.

 

***

 

Gates and doors slammed shut outside the building, along its windows, and in front of its doors as alarms blared.

 

Lucas narrowed his brow when he heard the concern. Listening to his instincts, Lucas left his ran and rolled beneath a barricade door before it slammed shut.

 

***

 

Various scientists scrambled around the main lab room while they tried to figure out why the research lab was sealing itself.

 

The main lab door blasted open. The scientists ducked for cover as debris scattered across the room. Sandoora and a group of junk droids entered the room. The terrorist waved his rifle and waved it past the scientists. “Don’t move unless your told. Your facility is under my control.”

 

Zenitto grabbed the scientists and started pushing them against the walls.

 

***

 

Lucas ducked for cover in an underground parking lot connected to the basement. He hid between two cars as a group of Zenitto walked by, their joints squeaking with every move.

 

Lucas activated his communicator. “This is Lucas,” he whispered. “Some of Dorunero’s people have taken over the 3rd TOTAL R & D Lab. I‘m assuming they have hostages.”

 

***

 

The other rangers were at their office when they picked up Lucas‘s signal. Jenn spoke to Lucas through her communicator. “Try to stay low,” she told them. “If there are hostages involved, we can’t risk them getting hurt. We‘ll be there as soon as we can.”

 

Sion noticed a look of concern in Wes’s eyes. “What is it, Wes?”

 

Wes shook his head. “Nothing…it’s just my father owns that lab group. I doubt he’s too happy right about now.”

 

***

 

Zenitto shuffled the hostages into a lecture hall near the rear of the lab. Sandoora walked towards them with his gun raised. “Now…The Lambda 2000? Who is working on it?” 

 

The scientists were frozen with fear. None of them spoke. They only watched as the villain paced back and forth in front of them, his gun pointed forward. “Well?” the terrorist asked again. “Answer me!”

 

One of the scientists slowly stepped forward. “I, I, uh, what do you want?”

 

“Lambda 2000,” the villain said while aiming his rifle straight at the scientist’s face. “Make me some. Now.”

 

“It, it, well, uh, will, um, take a few hours to synthesize the proper-”  

 

“Move!” Sandoora shouted and fired a plasma blast that exploded against the ceiling.

 

The scientist hurried off along with an escort of junk druids.

 

No one noticed Lucas eavesdropping in the ventilation system.

 

***

 

Granted he was only a cadet who specialized in tactical driving and piloting, Lucas had learned a great deal about infiltrating various compounds in the 31st century. Entering the ventilation system of a 21st century lab paled by comparison.

 

Lucas activated his communicator after eavesdropping. “Guys…they’re looking for something called Lambda 2000...”

 

“Lambda 2000?” Wes asked.

 

“I have no idea what it is,” Lucas said. “But that’s what they want.”

 

Lucas heard Jenn speak next. “Takku…what do you know?”

 

Back in the office, Takku processed the information through his central data core. The droid found a reference and downloaded all information into his central neural processor. “Lambda 2000 is a power source developed for fueling construction projects. The material was classified by the military during the first two decades of the 21st century.

 

“What are they planning to do with it? Build a weapon?” Sion asked over the communications net.

 

“We’ll have to find out,” Jenn said. “Takku, see what else you can learn about Lambda 2000. Lucas, keep watching the hostages.”

 

***

 

Wes and the others crouched behind a row of bushes outside the lab. Jenn activated her communicator and asked for an update from Lucas. They heard his response through the comm frequency.

 

“The criminal has two scientists with him. Junk droids are holding the rest of the hostages in a lecture hall of some kind,” Lucas said. “It looks like the main two scientists are being forced to make this Lambda 2000 material.”

 

Jenn lowered her communicator and stared at the building ahead. “So there are two target groups…Great,” she said sarcastically. “This is going to be difficult.”

 

“Especially with all the entrances sealed,” Sion said.

 

Wes nodded. “If we try to break in, we’ll set off every alarm in the place.”

 

“Come to the parking lot entrance,” Lucas said from his end. “I’ll open the doors there.”

 

“Be careful,” Jenn said.

 

***

 

Sandoora watched the two scientists within a small lab room in the complex. The scientists stood over a small circular lab station. Above the station, a column packed with various pieces of electrical equipment slowly descended.

 

Slowly…

 

Slowly…

 

Sandoora shot a round from his gun against the wall. The blast exploded against the wall, and the scientists practically jumped out of their shoes.

 

“Faster,” Sandoora said. “Or I will order my druids to execute all your little lab-coat friends.”

 

***

 

The other four Rangers were in their armor. They activated their Vol weapons and moved quietly along the outside of the building, hurrying down a slope that led to the lower-level garage where Lucas was supposed to let them in.

 

They waited for what felt like forever.

 

Time Pink sighed with frustration. “What’s taking him so long?”

 

Time Yellow lifted his communicator to signal Lucas, but Time Pink stopped him. “Don’t. We’re not sure what he’s doing in there. We might expose him.”

 

Time Red looked to the garage door. A thought struck him: What if the illness had struck Lucas? What if he was unconscious from pain, or worse, dead? He could have suffered an attack from the illness and been ambushed at a moment of weakness. “I’m so stupid. I should have thought of that before…”

 

Time Red sprang to his feet. “Guys, we have a problem…”

 

“What are you talking about?” Time Pink asked. “Get back down before your head is blown off.”

 

The parking lot door started to rise open. Time Pink kept low as she led the other towards the door. “Okay…we have to time this just right. No mistakes.”

 

***

 

The two scientists manipulated their controls. A laser beam carved the last few edges from the small orange crystal on the lab station in front of them. Their work was over.

 

One of the scientists lifted up the crystal, which looked like a miniature spiked mace, and placed it in a containment tube. Hands shaking, the man handed the tube to Sandoora.

 

The terrorist grabbed the containment tube and lifted his gun at the scientists. “Thank you for your help…now I’m afraid I’ll have to dispose of you…”

 

The two scientists cowered backward, but had nowhere to run. The door was to the side of them, but the terrorist could easily gun them down before they reached the exit. They considered crashing through the shaded window, but they were four stories above ground.

 

Meanwhile in the lecture hall, Zenitto raised their blade blasters at the rest of the hostages.

 

Sandoora smiled with delight. He loved his job.

 

Time Pink and Time Green suddenly kicked in the door to the room. They fired bursts of pink and green energy that exploded against the criminal’s arm, to knock the gun away from the hostages, and exploded against his armor with a burst of spark. 

 

Sandoora crashed backward and smashed through the window, shattering glass as he plummeted towards the ground below.

 

Meanwhile, Time Red and Time Yellow smashed in the door to the lecture hall. Time Red and Time Yellow opened fire with blasts that exploded against the droids, ripping them apart.

 

Time Pink’s voice came over their comm line. “The Meta escaped through a window. Regroup with me and Sion.”

 

“Jenn,” Time Red asked. “Can you get through to Lucas?”

 

“No,” she said. “I’m not sure why.”

 

Time Red cursed beneath his helmet before running off.

 

“Hey,” Time Yellow shouted after him. “Where are you going?”

 

“Go on without me,” Time Red called back.

 

Time Yellow shook his head and sighed. “I’ll never understand people in this century…”

 

“Damien!” Time Pink’s voice said firmly.

 

“I’m coming, I’m coming,” Time Yellow said as he ran off.

 

***

 

Time Red ran down the corridors of the basement with his communicator raised to his faceplate. “Lucas…Lucas!”

 

Time Red mentally kicked himself. He should have told the others about Lucas’s illness. Or at least, he should have tried talking Lucas into telling the others.

 

***

 

Sandoora ran through a plaza paved with rough stone blocks, making the entire plaza look like it was carved and sculpted from a mountain. Trees dotted the landscape, which was nestled between two buildings.

 

Sandoora ran towards a wide, sweeping staircase. Time Green and Time Pink stepped onto the staircase and aimed their weapons forward at the terrorist. The villain backtracked and turned back towards the building, but Time Yellow blocked the villain’s path.

 

“Landaraz,” Time Pink said as she stalked down towards the terrorist. “What were you planning to do with that crystal.”

 

“How in the nine hells should I know?” Sandoora said. “I was just supposed to steal it.”

 

The villain aimed his weapon at her and fired.

 

***

 

Time Red smashed in a door and entered another dimly-lit hall within the basement. He turned to his left, and his breath caught in his throat at what he saw. A tall maintenance door was open. On the other side of the door, Time Red saw a body laying on the ground unconscious.

 

It was Lucas’s jacket.

 

“No…” Time Red whispered as he slowly walked forward. “Please don’t be dead…”

 

A junk droid suddenly crashed to the ground from behind a corner. Time Blue stepped out from behind the corner and wiped his hands against each other while staring down at the droid and nodding in approval. The Blue Ranger picked up his jacket, which was strewn over a fallen drunk droid as bait.

 

“Lucas!” Time Red shouted.

 

“Wes,” Time Blue answered with his normal, calm demeanor as he walked towards the Red Ranger. “Sorry it took so long. I-”

 

Time Red breathed a loud sigh of relief and leaned against the wall. “Man, Lucas, I thought you were…” Time Red shook his head and smiled beneath his helmet. “Well, if you’re done playing hide and seek with the junk droids, we should get going.”

 

“Hide and seek?” Time Blue asked as they moved off. “What’s that?”

 

“You’re kidding, right?” Time Red said with disbelief as they moved closer towards the garage door.

 

“Yes,” Time Blue said.

 

***

 

Sandoora hurled two grenades at the three Rangers. The grenades exploded with massive shockwaves that blasted them backward as explosions tore across their armor.

 

Sandoora extended his rifle towards the fallen Rangers and stalked forward.

 

“Ha!” a voice shouted from the air.

 

The villain turned to see Time Red and Time Blue leap onto the scene. The two Rangers extended their badges. “Time Rangers!” they shouted as the badges flashed with gold light.

 

“Sandoora,” Time Blue said as they started taking steps towards the villain. “You’re under arrest for breaking the Temporal Accords. Prepare for judgment.”

 

Time Yellow rolled his eyes beneath his helmet. “He watches to much holo-vision.”

 

Sandoora fired a volley of rounds from his gun. The Rangers rolled aside as explosions from the weapon sparked around them.

 

Time Blue rolled into a crouched position and armed his two Vector Sabers, which were connected to form a single double-bladed sword. “Vector Sabers!” Time Blue shouted as he aimed the weapon towards Sandoora and fired a blade of blue energy that exploded against the monster with a burst of spark upon impact.

 

Time Red sprang towards Sandoora.

 

“Vector Red!” he shouted as the blades energized with crimson energy. “Chrono Strike!” Time Red held his blades at a 12 o’ clock and 3 o’ clock position and slashed the weapons across the criminal’s armor with streaks of power. The blades sparked on impact and knocked the villain backward.

 

The other three Rangers armed their Vol weapons and fired bursts of energy that exploded against the terrorist. The crystal was blasted free from the criminal’s possession and rolled out of sight.

 

The villain stood his ground and ripped off the cryogenic patch. With the patch torn, the villain’s DNA started to flux and expand every cell in his body. The terrorist grew giant.

 

Time Red activated his communicator. “Takku!”

 

“Yokai,” Takku answered, the Japanese word for ’roger.’ The droid activated his temporal transceiver. “3-D system, stand by for launch!”

 

As always, Takku wondered who the strange man was who sent them Time Jets when they were needed.

 

***

 

Angel Grove, 3006AD

 

In the north section of the city sat a circular command complex with several rectangular buildings webbing out from the main compound. A yellow and black giant-sized robo stomped around the perimeter of the compound near a tall gate shaped like an upside down ‘V.’ A runway connected the gate to the complex.

 

A lone figure sat in the observatory that looked out upon the runway. He answered Takku’s call.

 

A platform of five Time Jets surfaced at the end of the runway. The platform rotated and lined the red-trimmed jet into position.

 

The Providus zord swung its massive fist towards the Time Jet. The fist smashed against the Time Jet and throttled the vessel forward. The Time Jet accelerated closer to the Time Gate, and disappeared through the gate, leaving a trail of energy vapor in its wake.

 

One-by-one, Providus slammed the Time Jets through the Gate. The five zords flew in tight formation and throttled backward through the time stream.

 

***

 

Angel Grove, 2006AD

 

A wormhole opened in the sky and the five zords streaked through, swooping down into the atmosphere.

 

“Time Flier,” Time Red commanded as the Time Flier hovered past their location.

 

The Time Rangers leapt onto the Flier. The Flier carried them over their five Time Jets, traveling at frightful speeds. Thankful he was not afraid of heights or prone to airsickness, Time Red and the others jumped off the Time Flier and fell into their cockpits.

 

“3-D Formation…” Time Red commanded as he grasped control levers to his side. “Time Robo, Beta!”

 

The Time Jets stayed in tight formation and flew across the streets as they streets, Each zord started to reassemble and combine into a giant, blue-armored zord. The 3-D formation completed as the Rangers activated their zord: the Time-Force Megazord, Mode Blue.

 

The Rangers stood in the zord’s central cockpit. Five tall rods extended from the floor to the Rangers’ waist levels. The Time Rangers reached forward and grabbed the Lancers.

 

“Flier Magnum,” Time Red commanded. The Time Flier transformed into a blaster that the Megazord gripped in its hand.

 

Sandoora fired a round of blasts that exploded against the Megazord and knocked the Flier Magnum out of the robo’s hands. The terrorist fired another volley of rounds that exploded against the Time-Force Megazord with bursts of spark.

 

The Megazord was forced back a few steps. Time Pink looked out the zord’s view port and tensed at what she saw. The Megazord was surrounded by piles of the villain’s grenades.

 

“Wes-”

 

The grenades exploded at once, decimating several city blocks and causing massive explosions that pounded against the Megazord and ripped across its armor with blinding flashes of spark and flame. The Time-Force Megazord collapsed onto a building.

 

Sandoora stalked towards the fallen zord with his weapon aimed forward.

 

“Time Flier!” Time Blue shouted.

 

The Time Flier streaked down from the air and fired lances of blue energy that exploded against the villain and knocked him backward.

 

“Changing formation,” Time Red commanded. “Time Robo, Alpha!”

 

The Megazord disassembled and started to change shape into different formations. The Time Jets merged into a new form: Time-Force Megazord, Mode Red. The red-armored Megazord landed on the streets and faced off with the criminal.

 

“Time-Force Megazord Saber!” Time Red commanded. A worm hole opened in the Megazord’s chest. A saber speared forward from the portal, and the Megazord wrapped his hand around the saber’s handle.

 

Sandoora opened fire as the Megazord stalked forward. Blasts exploded against the zord’s armor, tearing through its hull and causing massive fractures.

 

Time Red pulled the Control Lancer free from the ground. The lancer flashed with energy and formed a miniature replica of the zord’s saber. Time Red thrust the saber forward as the Megazord copied his movements. Two shorter blades opened from the Megazord saber like the hands of the clock, forming 90 degree angles with the sword.

 

“Time-Force Megazord Saber!” Time Red shouted. “Final Strike!”

 

The zord’s saber energized and swung horizontally. The blade slashed through the monster, but did not kill it. The attack caused a chain reaction within the creature that caused the insides of his body to freeze. The criminal fell backwards, and a large explosion surrounded the villain as he shrunk down to less than a foot tall, and entered a state of cryogenic suspension.

 

The Time Rangers leapt down to the streets below. Time Pink held a badge over the criminal. The badge flashed with golden light and formed a transparent cylinder that wrapped around the creature. 

 

***

 

The Rangers did not notice Gien walk across the battle site. He laughed quietly to himself as he retrieved the crystal.

 

***

 

Wes pulled Lucas aside later that day while the others were inside the office, getting ready to eat. “Let’s tell them,” Wes said. “Maybe they can get you back to the 31st century. You could take one of the Time Jets back. Hell, we’ll tie you onto the damn thing if we have to.”

 

“Wes,” Lucas said. He shook his head and looked away. “Even if I go back…I’ll still die soon.”

 

“Lucas…” Wes said.

 

Lucas turned and walked up the steps back towards their building, and Wes followed. They walked into the office, where Damien and Sion were goofing around the table while helping Jenn set up dinner.

 

Sion lifted a bottle of barbeque and smelt it as he smiled. He looked to Damien. “Damien…can I drink this?”

 

“No you can’t,” Damien said. “That’s sauce.” Damien had always bragged about his skills of old-fashioned barbequing. Today was his day to prove it.

 

Sion’s face turned slightly red. “Oh…”

 

Jenn brought a steak to the table. She was about to cut into it when Damien stopped her and took the knife. “No, no, no…You just bring the dishes.”

 

Jenn arced an eyebrow as Sion laughed. “Yeah,” the young alien said. “If Jenn cuts, it will look like a crime scene.”

 

Jenn stalked towards him. Sion laughed and hurried around the table to avoid her. “Oh, come on, it was a joke.”

 

“A bad one,” Jenn said.

 

“No, a crime scene,” Sion said. “You know, like a mess.”

 

“I get it,” Jenn said. “It’s just a bad joke. She scooped up a spoonful of mashed potatoes and aimed at Sion. “Now…do you want me to show you a mess?”

 

Lucas crossed his arms over his chest and watched alongside Wes. He turned to Wes. “I want things to stay like this. I don’t want to tell them.”

 

Wes nodded. He understood.

 

***

 

Gien paced around a dark warehouse on the outskirts of the city. A group of Zenitto were gathered around a large table. They used welders and other tools to assemble pieces of a golden-armored robot together.

 

Gien quietly laughed to himself as he watched the junk droids work. The villain carried the Lambda 2000 crystal in his hand.

 

***

 

Lira sat in a stolen lawn chair that reclined backward. She wore her pink hair loose, matching the color of her pink bathing suit. She was in the prison, but junk droids had set up an artificial backdrop of the sky and clouds. Two of the junk droids held heat lamps by the woman.

 

Dorunero looked at her with utter disbelief. “Why don’t you just go to a beach resort.”

 

Lira adjusted her sunglasses. “Because all the boys stare.”

 

The power suddenly went out.

 

Gien flipped the light switch back on as he walked into the room, polishing his gun arm.

 

“Gien,” Dorunero scolded. “You’ve been acting like this for days. Why?”

 

Gien tilted his head. “I just wanted to make a point. You are on edge. You need out of this tower. You have not left prison since we first arrived.”

 

Dorunero scoffed and pulled a cigar out from his belt.

 

“He’s right for once,” Lira said as she moved forward and grabbed Dorunero by the hand. “Come with me to a beach resort. It was your suggestion. You can wear a holo disguise.”

 

She ran her fingers along his hand. He realized at that moment that other activities had not happened since he first arrived in the 21st century. “Fine. We will go.”

 

Gien laughed quietly to himself after they left. He needed equipment in the prison to install the crystal into his creation and bring it to life.

 

***

 

Sion sat at his computer within the rangers’ office during the morning. The other rangers stood behind them while drinking coffee from their mugs. Takku had uploaded information about Lambda 2000 for the rangers to see.

 

Sion read the information. “Lambda 2000 is a stepping stone to making Zeta 3, an energy source used until 2325.”

 

Takku was on the desk next to the computer. “Zeta 3 will not be invented for another decade. But I am sure the Londaraz Family plans to make Zeta 3 with the stolen Lambda crystal.”

 

“The question is why,” Jenn said.

 

“Well,” Sion said, “it was initially used for rescue work.”

 

Wes scoffed. “I doubt that’s what Dorunero has in mind.”

 

***

 

Angel Grove, 3006AD

 

Alex, the real Alex, sat behind the holographic control board of the Providus observation deck. He was alone and had the lights dimmed down. Yet he still wore sunglasses, which in the 31st century were just a pair of black lenses that fit over the eyes. Alex, who looked identical to Wes except for his slicked back hair, wore a suit of white that looked like plastic, but had the flexibility of fabric and the strength of steel.    

 

He activated an image on the view port ahead of him.

 

A zord resembling the 31st century equivalence to the wedge shaped stealth bomber flew across a holographic recreation of the 21st century’s Angel Grove at night. The zord flew vertically through dense city blocks and curved around corners with great ease.

 

The zord shot straight up towards the air and reconfigured, transforming into its warrior mode. The zord armed two double-edged blue blades and landed on top of a skyscraper. It folded its arms across its chest.

 

The image rotated and shimmered away, revealing the zord standing on the roof of a holographic chamber, hanging like a bat.

 

Alex looked at the zord with a grim look on his face. The Time Shadow was ready.

 

***

 

The ringing alarm woke Damien at 7:30 a.m. the next morning. He lifted the alarm clock and threw it against the wall to silence it.

 

“Whoops,” he said sarcastically while slowly climbing out of bed.

 

“You’re going to break the clock someday,” Lucas said. He rubbed the back of his neck as he climbed from bed.

 

“So?” Damien said.

 

“So the first time you sleep in?” Wes said as he ran his hand across his disheveled hair. “Jenn will break you.”

 

“Good point,” Damien said as the boys walked into the main office room.

 

Jenn and Sion were already awake and dressed in the office. Jenn carried a stack of fliers in her hand. She walked over to the boys and started handing them the fliers.

 

“Here,” Jenn said. “We have to start handing these out. We’re almost broke. Again.”

 

“Can’t we eat breakfast first?” Damien said.

 

“No,” Jenn said. “Now get dressed.”

 

***

 

A large hanger rested underground beneath the 3rd TOTAL R & D Lab. A cluster of complex lab equipment sat on a second-level balcony that looked out upon the hanger and its single occupant: a massive tank of almost zord-sized proportion.

 

The lengthy tank was covered with thick, black armor. Powerful cannons were mounted on top of the tank, and smaller cannons were attached to its side. A pair of drills extended forward from the tank’s bow. The vehicle’s name was painted in white: “Reimei.”

 

Mr. Collins stood behind a group of technicians on the balcony control deck. “Is the crystal ready?”

 

“Almost, sir,” one of the lab workers said.

 

The recent meta-criminal attack had turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The Zeta 3 crystal was the perfect, safest energy source for the giant tank. They had tried to find a power source for the tank for years, but nothing ever worked. Until now.

 

“Let me know as soon as your done,” Collins said. “And bring in the pilots. Now.”

 

Collins’ dream was finally coming to fruition. It was only a matter of time.

 

***

 

The rangers split up to hand out fliers advertising their business. They had few customers as of late, and needed to do a better job promoting themselves.

 

Wes’ martial arts classes provided the only a steady source of income. Sion and Lucas provided cash sporadically. But Jenn could spend more than a week on a single client, and Damien’s self defense classes were still non-existent. 

 

Wes walked across a plaza in front of a high-rise business building. He held a stack of fliers under his right arm. He practically dropped the fliers and stopped in his tracks when he saw someone standing in front of him. The person had almost a ghost-like aura around him.

 

Beneath the ghostly aura was a figure identical to Wes.

 

Wes opened his eyes wide with shock, and time seemed to slow down around him. He stared into eyes that matched his own, and a face that matched his own. The fliers slipped from his hand and blew through the air in slow motion. 

 

Within the same block, the other rangers had similar experiences.

 

Jenn faced an image of herself. The ghostly double was in a crouched position, looking up towards the roof of a high-rise building.

 

Nearby, Lucas turned a corner when he saw someone collapse to the ground. The stranger wore a dark, black jacket and clutched his chest in pain. Lucas leaned down to help the man. He opened his eyes wide with shock when he saw that the man was a reflection of himself.

 

Damien noticed a ghostly image of himself sitting on a concrete bench in the center of the plaza. Time seemed to slow down around him.

 

Sion saw himself on the other side of a glass door. The door slowly opened.

 

***

 

Takku recharged on the perch within the rangers’ office. The droid’s eyes were closed as if he was sleeping. Then five communication signals from the rangers disturbed his rest. He snapped his eyes open as the rangers spoke through their communication frequencies.

 

“Takku, I just saw-”

 

“Something strange just-”

 

“Takku, wake up!”

 

“Hey Takku, I’m either going crazy or-”

 

“Takku, run a scan for temporal-”

 

“Wait!” the droid practically shouted. “I can’t understand you when you all talk at once. What happened, Jenn?”

 

“Some kind of temporal anomaly,” Jenn explained. “We saw versions of ourselves, and time seemed to slow down around us. Meet us out here and run quantum scans.”

 

***

 

Gien walked across a tall rooftop with his newly constructed war droid. The war droid was made of bulky golden armor and powered by a Zeta-3 crystal. The droid, named Nova, had a single red eye and gun turrets for arms. The turrets extended forward like twin prongs, with small missile ports wrapped around the wrist area.

 

Gien softly, a hint of insanity in his voice. “Time to do what you were built for. Make me proud.”

 

Gien ripped a cryo patch off the droid’s armor. Tearing the patch caused a chain reaction in the droid, fueled by the Zeta-3 crystal. Nova’s body expanded and grew giant.

 

Nova stomped forward. Missile turrets rose from the droid’s arms like blisters. Volleys of missiles shot forward in streaks of smoke, slamming through city buildings like comets with massive explosions of spark and fire that pulverized concrete and steel.

 

***

 

Citizens ran in panic towards the nearest shelter. The five Rangers were already powered up in their armor as they regrouped and ran against the crowd. The Rangers looked up to see the massive droid continue its advance.

 

The war droid opened fire with golden pulse blasts that tore through buildings with massive eruptions of smoke, flame, and debris.

 

Gien cheered his creation on. He loved seeing humans fall at the power of a droid.

 

“That thing is huge,” Time Yellow said.

 

“That’s obvious, Damien,” Time Blue said.

 

Time Red activated his communicator. “Takku!”

 

“Yokai,” Takku answered. The droid activated his temporal transceiver. “3-D system, stand by for launch!”

 

***

 

Angel Grove, 3006AD

 

Ornate towers of steel and technology extended into the orange-tinted city skies as hover cars flew through the air. Some towers held small parks of freshly cut green grass, while others served as business observatories.

 

In the north section of the city sat a circular command complex with several rectangular buildings webbing out from the main compound. A yellow and black giant-sized robo stomped around the perimeter of the compound near a tall gate shaped like an upside down ‘V.’ A runway connected the gate to the complex.

 

……

 

……

 

Nothing happened.

 

***

 

Angel Grove, 2006AD

 

The Rangers stared up at the sky, waiting for the wormhole and Time Jets to appear. Time Green shook his head. “They should be here by now.”

 

“No…” Time Pink said quietly. She looked to Time Red. “The damage from our last fight may not be repaired yet.”

 

The giant Machine slammed its arm through a building, pulverizing it and sending rubble crashing to the streets below. The Rangers rolled out of the way to avoid getting flattened.

 

The Rangers rose into crouched positions while taking cover and looking up at the Machine. They heard Takku continue to try and call for the zords. The droid had hovered all the way to the battle scene and hung in the air above the Rangers.

 

“The Time Jets are not coming,” Takku said.

 

“Well then what are we supposed to do?” Time Yellow asked, frustration heavy in his voice.

 

Nova blasted through another building, pulverizing the structure and sending debris scattering across the streets. The Time Rangers ducked for cover as rubble smashed around them.

 

“What the hell is this thing?” Time Red practically shouted.

 

Takku hovered down to their level. “That war droid is powered by a Zeta-3 crystal. Now we know what Dorunero wanted from the research lab.”

 

“I just want to know how to stop it,” Time Red said.

 

The ground suddenly started to shake. The five Rangers heard massive treads roll across the streets in the distance. They looked up to see a massive tank roll onto the scene. It was the Reimei.

 

Nova turned its attention to the approaching weapon.

 

The giant tank rolled forward on massive treads. The Reimei rolled to a stop and raised its top-mounted cannons.

 

The two pilots inside flipped switches while communicating with their base. The cockpit was cramped and dimly lit. Switches and panels lined the cockpit. The two pilots sat at the two forward stations, each equipped with manual hand grips.

 

“Charging main cannons,” the co-pilot reported. “Weapons core has a stable reaction.”

 

“Firing main cannon,” the pilot said as he grasped his control levers and triggered the cannon.

 

Lances of red energy shot forth and exploded against the Machine with bursts of spark.

 

The weapons’ technicians cheered as they watched the battle from the safety of their lab. Their creation was working.

 

The Rangers watched below as Takku scanned the tank. “Impossible…that tank is fueled by a Zeta-3 crystal too. The people in this time should not have access to the Zeta-3 yet.”

 

Reimei opened fire with a volley of blasts from its side-mounted rail cannons. The blasts exploded against Nova, but the war droid stood its ground and stomped forward towards the tank.  

 

“We have to help,” Time Red said. He activated his brace,. “Chrono Trigger…Vol Cannons.”

 

The Rangers armed their Vol Cannons and aimed the weapons upward towards the giant Machine. They opened fire with a volley of multi-colored energy pulses that exploded against the Machine.

 

The Reimai aimed its cannons again.

 

“Charging main cannons,” the co-pilot reported. “Weapons core has a stable reaction.”

 

“Firing main cannon,” the pilot said as he grasped his control levers and triggered the cannon.

 

Lances of red energy shot forth. This time, the villain erected an invisible deflector shield. The shield flickered with golden energy as the tank’s blasts ricocheted off of the barrier. The blasts backfired and exploded against Raimai, blasting the tread out from under the tank and flipping it onto its side.

 

The Machine armed its cannons and pointed forward. Lances of golden energy shot forth and pierced through the tank. Raimai’s reactor overloaded and exploded with a massive sphere of flame, demolishing the tank.

 

The shockwave slammed the Time Rangers backward and sent them skidding across the pavement as rubble crashed down around them.

 

Takku hovered over to the Rangers as they climbed back to their feet. “Rangers! Are you alright?”

 

“No,” Time Yellow grumbled as he raised his Vol weapon.

 

“Let’s hit ‘im again,” Time Red said as he and the others aimed their Vol Cannons up at the golden war droid. “Fire!”

 

Multi-colored pulse blasts exploded against the droid, but did not slow it down. The war droid slowly lowered its cannon towards the Rangers. Gien’s laughter echoed from above.

 

Time Pink narrowed her eyes beneath her helmet. “Gien…”

 

Before the droid could fire, a shadow started to cover the sun like an eclipse. The shadow darkened the streets below. Rangers and villains looked up, not sure what was happening. Then the eclipse revealed itself to be a time portal.

 

A V-shaped ship blasted through the portal. It was the Time Shadow. 

 

The V-shaped Time Shadow streaked through the dark skies and swooped towards the Machine. The zord opened fire with a pair of wing-mounted pulse cannons, each firing lances of pale-blue energy that exploded against the Machine with bursts of spark.

 

The Machine tried to lock its blasters onto the zord, but could not.

 

The zord circled around the Machine while firing pulse blasts, each blast exploding against the Machine while the artificial monster tried to get a lock on its target.

 

The zord climbed upward and twisted while in mid-flight. Time Shadow started to change shape and form a warrior mode. The black zord armed two double-edged blue blades, and its eyes pulsed with pale-blue energy.

 

“What is it?” Time Blue asked.

 

Takku hovered near the Rangers. “That…is the Time Shadow.”

 

The machine twisted its arm and fired a volley of golden torpedoes that shot through the air towards Time Shadow. The zord hovered upward as the torpedoes exploded on the streets below with massive bursts of spark and flame.

 

Time Shadow shot forward towards the Machine. The zord opened fire with shoulder-mounted missile launchers. The missiles exploded against the Machine, forcing the monster back a few steps.

 

The war droid opened fire with golden energy blasts that exploded around Time Shadow. The zord leapt upward and ran alongside a building as explosions erupted across the streets.

 

The attacks collapsed the building Gien was standing on. The droid crashed through a nearby roof and fell onto the floor of a warehouse.

 

Time Pink watched the fall and sprinted towards the warehouse. “Come on,” she said to the others.

 

Gien rose to his feet and looked up to see the five Rangers surround him.

 

“Gien,” Time Pink said as she stepped forward. “What are you up to?”

 

The villain laughed, a hint of madness in his voice. “I’m just having a little fun. Isn’t that allowed?”

 

“No,” Time Red said as he armed his Vector Sabers.

 

Gien tossed a handful of nuts and bolts onto the floor. The bolts formed a group of junk droids that marched towards the Rangers, their limbs whining with every movement.

 

The Rangers charged forward to attack the grunts. They attacked in lightning-quick movements, hacking through the junk droids, each blow a blur of motion as spark flew in every direction.

 

Time Red slashed through soldiers, his blades tearing apart metal and thrashing through circuitry. The Red Ranger slammed a sidekick against a grunt’s chest and looked to his left while parrying a blow. Time Red swung his blades upward, tearing through the soldier as he turned to his right, thrashing his blades across another soldier’s body.

 

A grunt swung its saber down towards the Red Ranger’s head. Time Red parried the blow and chopped the droid’s head off with a single sweep of his blades.

 

Time Green and Time Yellow ran side by side towards Gien. The golden droid arms his hand blasters, his fingers forming gun barrels. Gien opened fire with explosive-tipped bullets. The bullets exploded against the two Rangers’ armor with bursts of spark, knocking them backward.

 

Back on the streets, Time Shadow slashed its saber outward in an ‘x’ pattern. The blades sparked on impact while ripping through the war droid’s armor and cutting through circuitry.

 

The golden machine stomped backward while opening fire with a full barrage from its cannons. The blasts exploded against Time Shadow with a burst of spark, but the zord pressed forward.

 

Time Shadow combined its two blades into a double-bladed Vector Saber. The saber energized with pale-blue power. The zord chopped downward twice diagonally, the energized blade searing through the war droid like cutting through paper.

 

The war droid’s circuits overloaded and exploded, buckling armor and tearing wiring. The war droid crashed backward and exploded with a final burst of spark and flame.

 

Gien saw his droid’s destruction from within the warehouse.

 

Time Red aimed a Vector Saber towards the villain. “Looks like your fun is over.”

 

“On the contrary,” Gien said as he whirled around, teleporting away in a blur of golden light and energy.

 

***

 

The rangers returned to their civilian forms and ran outside, just in time to see the Time Shadow return to the future through the time portal.

 

Sion’s eyes opened wide with awe. “That Time Shadow was amazing…”

 

Takku hovered over towards them. “I’ve scanned the wreckage of the Reimei. It came from the 3rd TOTAL R & D Lab.”

 

Lucas looked to Wes. “That’s one of your father’s labs.”

 

Wes shrugged defensively. “I didn’t know he was building a giant tank.”

 

He silently cursed. Would he ever be able to escape his father’s influence? 

 

***

 

Mr. Collins clapped his cell phone shut hard. He was walking through the halls of a high-rise office along with one of his men. He had just learned of the Remei’s defeat. Needless to say, he was not happy. The Remei had cost a small fortune.

 

Collins’ assistant tried to break the awkward silence through small talk. “So…how is your son doing? Wes, isn’t, it?”

 

“Wes is…” Collins’ throat tightened. “I have no son.”

 

They entered a small conference room. A familiar person stood from the table. It was William Cranston, although the few friends he had left still called him Billy.

 

“I heard about the Reimei,” Cranston said.

 

“The Reimei is part of the past,” Collins said. He had started constructing the Reimei when INET was just a small shop in Billy’s garage. “I’m looking forward to the future.”

 

“I’m glad to hear it,” Cranston said as he opened a briefcase on the table. He pulled out various files. “I have the first proposition of our partnership.”

 

Collins took one of the files and opened it. The files contained blueprints and data on various handheld assault weapons.

 

Cranston explained. “These meta-criminals are just that. Criminals. The city needs a non-conventional police force, armed with non-conventional weapons, to deal with these criminals.”

 

A smile crossed Collins’ face. “I’m listening…”

 

To be continued…Chapter Seven