Champions Saga: Chapter Eleven

Alea Jacta Est

 

Space

 

Darkheart’s ship hovered at the center of a massive armada.

 

V-shaped Isis battle cruisers formed the main wedge. Hundreds of mobile suits flew in attack position around the cruisers. The mobile suits varied in size, from 12-feet tall to 50-meters tall. Each suit was armed with enough firepower to destroy a small military outpost.

 

Isis frigates spanned out from the main fleet formation. The frigates were covered with jagged hull plating, bristling with plasma blasters and particle-beam cannons. Pirate vessels of various shapes and sizes rounded out the fleet by flying in loose formation around the frigates.

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes as he watched the enemy fleet through the view port. “Well,” he said sarcastically. “This should be easy.”

 

Bran finished his sensor sweep. “The Galaxy Book is on Darkheart’s ship. He must have retrieved it after we were sent to the Lost Galaxy.”

 

“So,” Zhane said, “we have to fight our way through the entire armada and board Darkheart’s ship to get the Galaxy Book before escaping into hyperspace.”

 

“Just another day on the job,” Tommy said. “DECA, polarize the hull plating. Deploy armor. We‘re going in. Attack speed.”

 

The Megaship throttled towards the enemy armada. Tekno-Man flew in an escort position along the vessel’s port side.

 

The lead cruisers opened fire with a volley of photon missiles and proton torpedoes. The missile volley serves as cover fire for a squadron of Craboids that broke off from the main fleet and swarmed towards the Megaship’s dorsal, port side.

 

“Evasive maneuvers,” Tommy said. “Sage, keep those Craboids off our backs.”

 

Zhane looked to Tommy. “This doesn’t make sense…why are Isis battle ships helping Darkheart? They’re supposed to be enemies.”

 

“We’ll figure it out later,” Tommy said. “Right now let’s focus on not getting blown up.”

 

The Megaship rolled hard to starboard and fired a volley of Megalaser and plasma cannon blasts at the incoming missiles. Darts of blue and orange energy shot from the vessels’ weapons and exploded against the missile barrage.

 

Tekno-Man fired his shoulder thrusters and throttled towards the Craboids. The hero armed his double-edged blade and dashed past the lead mecha while slashing them open, causing them to explode.

 

Craboids fired plasma discs at Tekno-Man, but the warrior looped around the avoid the blasts, and slashed his staff through the attacking mecha.

 

An attack wing of pirate vessels moved in at Tekno-Man from behind and fired particle beam cannons. Tekno-Man shot upward to avoid the blasts, but disrupter fire from a second attack wave exploded against his armor and knocked him off course.

 

The warrior throttled backward to gain distance and come up with a new strategy. Tekno-Man activated his shoulder thrusters and throttled towards the second attack wing of pirate ships.

 

Tekno-Man hurled his blade through space, and the weapon spun like a helicopter propeller while tearing through the ships’ armor and hulls. Several of the vessels exploded as their engines overheated and overloaded.

 

Meanwhile, the Astro Megaship shot towards the attack wing of V-shaped Isis battle cruisers that were protecting Darkheart’s ship.

 

Daithi looked to Tommy. “Do we switch to Megazord mode?”

 

“Not yet,” Tommy said. “Let’s see what we’re dealing with first. Full barrage, all weapons. Attack pattern Spiral.”

 

The Megaship corkscrewed towards the Isis battle cruisers while firing darts of blue Megalaser energy and bolts of plasma fire. The ship unloaded a payload of missiles that streaked through space.

 

Megalaser and plasma cannon blasts pounded against the Isis ships’ deflector shields, weakening them before the missiles exploded against the shields with bursts of flame and shrapnel.

 

An attack wing of frigates closed in on the Megaship’s port side, pirate ships closed in on the vessel’s starboard side, and a squadron of Craboids was taking position to close in on the ship’s rear.

 

“They’re trying to box us in,” Bran said.

 

Squadrons of mobile suits zoomed past the frigates and throttled towards the Megaship while firing beam cannons, rail cannons, and missiles. The blasts exploded against the Megaship’s armor, shaking the ship upon impact.

 

The Megaship rolled to starboard and dove before arcing forward and rolling into a climb.

 

The ship fired a volley of missiles that exploded through the mobile suit formation, and fired a barrage of plasma cannon and Megalaser blasts in every direction. The blasts pounded against the enemy ships’ shields, and tore through several of the pirate ships. The pirate ships vaporized into spheres of flame that dissipated in the vacuum of space.

 

The Megaship rolled hard to starboard and flew through the destroyed pirate ship formation while using the debris as cover.

 

Craboids closed in on the Megaship through the debris and fired white-hot plasma discs at the rangers’ vessel. Most plasma blasts exploded against pirate wreckage, but some of the blasts slammed against the Megaship’s armor.

 

A group of Craboids flew in tight formation behind the Megaship, and several of the enemy mecha landed on the vessel’s hull.  

 

Tekno-Man swooped downward and cleaved the enemy mecha off the Megaship with a massive display of speed and strength. The Craboids saw only a blur of motion seconds before they were destroyed.

 

The Megaship flew clear of the pirate wreckage and rolled to port, towards the main group of Isis battle cruisers. Daithi triggered Megalaser and plasma cannon fire at the cruisers, but the blasts splashed harmlessly across the battle ships’ deflectors.

 

“They have regenerative shields, on a modulating frequency,” Daithi said.

 

The battle cruisers fired streams of particle-beam cannon fire and darts of disruptor blasts. The Megaship rolled through evasive maneuvers, but several of the blasts exploded against the vessel and buckled its armor.

 

The impact rocked the rangers on the bridge, and a starboard power conduit exploded from behind a bridge control panel.

 

“Ablative armor is losing integrity,” Saoirse said. “Those cruisers will destroy us if we try to take them head on.”

 

Darkheart’s ship opened fire with a jagged burst of purple-tinted energy that shot across space and exploded against the Megaship with a massive burst of spark that sent the vessel spinning out of control.

 

The rangers grabbed onto their control panels to keep their balance while the ship spun, and several bridge conduits and control panels exploded with bursts of spark.

 

“Report,” Tommy shouted.

 

“Ablative armor is down,” Saoirse said. “Stabilizers and inertial dampeners are malfunctioning. That blast nearly fried our systems.”

 

“Let’s get to the shuttle,” Tommy said. “We’re switching to Megazord mode.”

 

“We can’t,” Saoirse said. “Megazord system is fried. It will take time to repair.”

 

A squadron of mobile suits closed in towards the Megaship and opened fire with rail cannons and beam cannons. Blasts peppered against the Megaship’s hull with bursts of spark that tore against the hull plating.

 

The ship rocked from the impact, and the rangers were nearly thrown to the deck.

 

Daithi triggered plasma and Megalaser darts that exploded against the group of mobile suits and held them back.

 

“Thrusters are offline,” Saoirse reported. “And…the medical bay! The medical bay is losing power…”

 

“Cy…” Tommy whispered.

 

Another volley of blasts exploded against the hull, and the deck plating rocked the rangers on the bridge.

 

“Transfer auxiliary power to thrusters and emergency power to structural integrity,” Tommy said.

 

“If we do that,” Saoirse said, “we won’t have any back up power left for the medical bay.”

 

Tommy cursed beneath his breath. What was he supposed to do? He needed every ounce of power available to keep the ship mobile and in one piece.

 

Zhane looked to Tommy. “Cy is brain dead, Tommy. If we don’t take the power we need, we’ll all be blown to Hell anyway.”

 

“We can save him,” Saoirse said.

 

The ship shook from another impact, and more bridge consoles exploded. Tommy took a deep breath and tightened his grasp on the controls in front of him. “Zhane’s right. Transfer auxiliary power to thrusters and emergency power to structural integrity.”

 

Saoirse shook her head. “But Tommy-”

 

“Do it,” Tommy said. “If we fail, the whole universe dies. That is not an option.”

 

***

 

Darkheart watched the battle in space with growing interest. The villain was nearly 12-feet tall and covered in dark, jagged armor similar to Tekno-Man’s.

 

The Rangers were of little concern to Darkheart. But Sage interested him greatly. Tekno-Man’s powers were growing even stronger. And Darkheart wanted that power.

 

The villain spoke to the Isis cruisers under his command. “Let Tekno-Man come to me…”

 

***

 

Tekno-Man circled around the Megaship while slashing away at Craboids and mobile suits. The hero dashed back and forth in a blur of motion while slashing away at any enemy mecha that came close.

 

Back on the bridge, Saoirse managed to bring propulsion and fusion systems back online. “We have thrusters and impulse back. And the Megazord program is back online.”

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “Then let’s take this up a notch.”

 

***

 

Tommy, Saoirse, Bran, Daithi, and Karone entered the shuttle cockpit while Zhane remained on the bridge. Tommy took position at the center station.

 

“Alright,” Tommy said as he grasped his controls. “Astro Megazord, online!”

 

The shuttle shot from the Megaship, which reconfigured into a warrior-shaped robo. The shuttle docked on the robo and formed the head.

 

“Astro Megazord! Galaxy Mega!” The zord fired its back thrusters and zoomed towards the Isis battle cruisers while extending a circular shield.

 

The battle cruisers opened fire with particle beam cannons that smashed against the shield, cracking it upon impact.

 

Bran looked to his sensor display. “Something’s not right…there’s an opening in the cruisers’ formation. Same with the Craboids and mobile suits. They‘re leaving their lines around Darkheart‘s ship too thin.”

 

“They’re baiting us in to a trap,” Daithi said. 

 

“Let’s spring the trap,” Tommy said. “Head vulcans, fire!”

 

A rapid-fire pulse cannon was attached on each side of the Astro Megazord’s head. The two cannons opened fire with rapid darts of energy that exploded through a group of Craboids and mobile suits, tearing the mecha apart with massive bursts of spark and flame.

 

Tekno-Man formed up near the Megazord’s shoulders and hacked away at any leftovers.

 

Galaxy Mega tilted its head and fired darts of energy that exploded through a frigate’s engines. The zord shifted its aim and opened fire on a pair of battle cruisers. The head vulcans pounded away at the ships’ shields until their starboard deflectors buckled and went offline.

 

The Astro Megazord swooped down closer to the two ships’ hulls.

 

“Download, Astro Megazord saber!” Tommy commanded. The zord’s saber appeared in its hand. “Energize saber!”

 

The saber energized with golden light, punctured through the side of a cruiser, and tore across the cruiser while the Megazord flew along its side. The Megazord continued its momentum and sliced across the side of the second Isis battle cruiser.

 

Two more cruisers moved towards the Megazord’s flank and opened fire with particle-beam cannons that pounded against the robo’s hull.

 

The Megazord swooped backward through evasive maneuvers to dodge the enemy fire.

 

“Head vulcans, fire at will,” Tommy said. “Download, Astro Megazord beam cannon!”

 

The beam-cannon rifle appeared in the zord’s hand. The Megazord fired a beam of energy that it slowly swung to the side. The sweeping energy beam tore through the battle cruisers, causing them to explode.

 

A squadron of pirate vessels tried to ambush the Megazord from behind.

 

The Megazord turned its back towards Darkheart’s ship and flew in full reverse so it could face the oncoming vessels. The Megazord aimed its rifle and fired, incinerating the pirate ships with a beam of light and power.

 

Tommy looked down to Karone. “Have Sage tear open a hole in Darkheart’s ship. You, Bran, and Daithi follow him in, get the Galaxy Book, and get out.” He opened a comm line to the bridge. “Zhane, get up here. I need another pair of hands.”

 

“Is that all I am to you?” Zhane answered.

 

***

 

Tekno-Man zigzagged through a wall of Craboids and mobile suits while fighting his way towards Darkheart’s ship. The hero’s blade was a streak of motion while tearing through mobile suit armor and ripping apart Craboids’ bodies.

 

The warrior let his anger fuel his every strike. His anger masked his guilt and kept him in control over his own armor, so its mindless-bloodthirsty rage could not control him.

 

Tekno-Man zoomed closer towards the jagged hull plating of Darkheart’s ship. The warrior opened his shoulder cannons, which crackled with green and blue energy. “Tekno Blast!”

 

The cannons fired a massive wave of destructive power that vaporized any mobile suit or Craboid in its path. The energy wave exploded through the vessel’s hull with a massive explosion, which tore a gaping wound in the ship’s black armor.

 

Tekno-Man flew through the opening.

 

Astro Black, Astro Blue, and Astro Pink leaned forward on their Cyber Sliders and shot towards the scene. The three Rangers followed Tekno-Man through the opening.

 

***

 

Tommy, Zhane, and Saoirse sat in the Megazord’s cockpit. Through the viewport, they saw clouds of Craboids and mobile suits swarm across space.

 

The enemy mecha opened fire with blasts that peppered against the Megazord’s armor. The zord dove downward towards a group of pirate ships while holding its shield forward.

 

Galaxy Mega fired its head vulcans, which ripped through several of the ships before they burst into spheres of flame. 

 

Isis battle cruisers opened fire with a particle beam cannon barrage that smashed against the Megazord and exploded across the zord’s hull. The armor started to buckle and crack.

 

The Megazord turned and held its shield towards the Isis cruisers. Particle beam blasts smashed against the shield, cracked it, and knocked it from the Megazord’s hand. The particle beams started tearing against the Megazord.

 

***

 

Tekno-Man jetted down a dark corridor at maximum speed. The hero spun his staff and slashed through every Craboid that got in his way.

 

One of the enemy mecha swung its claws down at the hero. But Tekno-Man held his staff forward horizontally and smashed against the mecha, bashing in its front and smashing its armor.

 

Tekno-Man flipped over the Craboid, spun through the air, and corkscrew kicked a second villain. The hero’s kick punctured through the Craboid and knocked it backward.

 

The warrior fired his shoulder jets to an even higher intensity and blasted through the corridor.

 

“Darkheart…” he cursed beneath his breath.

 

Tekno-Man knew the answers to his amnesia lied with Darkheart.

 

The hero took his anger and used it to fuel him. He used his emotions to control the blood lust of his armor, and focused that primal rage against the thought of Darkheart.

 

“Darkheart!”

 

Tekno-Man hurled his blade forward, and the staff spun like a helicopter propeller while chopping through a group of mecha.

 

The hero pounced forward, grabbed onto a Craboid, and tore its armor apart with his bare hands.

 

***

 

Astro Black used his helmet icon to zero in on the Galaxy Book’s location.

 

The three Rangers blasted their way into a dark chamber within Darkheart’s ship. The chamber was round and several stories tall. The Galaxy Book was suspended in the center of the chamber by a dark forcefield.

 

“There it is!” Astro Blue shouted and ran towards the Galaxy Book.

 

A jagged bolt of black lightning lashed out from the forcefield and exploded against Astro Blue’s armor with a burst of spark, knocking him off his feet and smashing him against the wall.

 

“Daithi!” Astro Pink called out.

 

Jagged bursts of lighting exploded against Astro Pink and Astro Black, knocking them of their feet as well.

 

A slender figure suddenly dropped onto the deck. His body was covered with slim high-tech armor that was clearly Isisian in design. Isis technology had spawned several well-known Earth heroes, including Cybertron, Galavan, and the Nova Troopers.

 

This warrior’s armor was black and white. His helmet had a dark visor, and a blade extended upward from that visor. He wore a torn black cape over his back. The villain was armed with a silver staff, tipped with a double-edged blade.

 

“Hello, Rangers…” the villain said in an ice-cold, grated voice. “My armor hungers for your deaths.”

 

Astro Blue downloaded his Tomahawk. “Your armor is going to be disappointed.”

 

Astro Blue spun forward like a tornado and swung his small axe at the villain. But the enemy merely twirled his staff and slashed Astro Blue across the chest, whipping his body backward and knocking him off his feet.

 

Astro Pink and Astro Black moved in from the sides.

 

The Pink Ranger fired her Astro Capture. Rings of pink energy splashed across the villain and sent tendrils of power crawling and exploding across his armor.

 

Astro Black armed his staff and swung at the villain’s faceplate. But the enemy parried the blow and bashed his staff across the Black Ranger’s helmet. The blow whipped the Black Ranger off his feet, and he crashed against the deck plating. 

 

The villain thrust his staff at the Pink Ranger and fired a burst of black energy that sparked against her chest and whipped her body backward.

 

The villain stalked towards the fallen Pink Ranger. His visor narrowed. “You…we recognize you. You are not a Ranger…you are Astronema…”

 

“Not anymore,” Astro Pink said as she slowly rose to her knees. “I’m the Pink Ranger!”

 

The villain laughed, a cold metallic sound that filled the chamber.

 

Astro Black and Astro Blue charged towards the villain to attack, but the forcefield fired black lightning blasts that exploded against the two Rangers and knocked them back against the wall. The Rangers slumped against the ground, and their armor forcibly demorphed.

 

The villain kept his gaze fixed on the Pink Ranger. “Fight me…but as Astronema. Not as this digital mockery of power.”

 

The forcefield fired a bolt of black lightning that exploded against Astro Pink and sent her flying off her feet. She crashed against a wall, her armor forcibly powered down, and she crashed against the deck.

 

The villain pounced at Karone and swung his staff towards her head. She ducked beneath the blow and smashed a roundkick against his chest. But the villain smashed the back of his fist across her face and knocked her to the deck.

 

“Fight me as Astronema!” the villain shouted. “Show me the rage and power that brought a galaxy to its knees!”

 

Karone rolled her hands into fists and rose back to her feet. “I am not Astronema!”

 

Her heart pounded in her chest, and her anger flooded through her veins like a river of power. She felt a well of energy build up inside of her, and felt an uncontrollable need to unleash that power.

 

The blood of Sauron and the blood of Jestin ran thick through her veins, just like her brother Tommy. And just like her brother, Karone had nearly unlimited potential for great good, or great evil.

 

She had used her power for evil. Guilt from her actions still plagued her. She had to make up for a lifetime of evil and corruption. She had to redeem herself. Nothing could stand in her way. Nothing.

 

Karone placed her right fist against her left palm and unleashed the power inside of her. “Kiryoku!”

 

Ribbons of dark-amethyst energy shot from her body and wrapped around her. The ribbons glowed with a deep violet light and formed armor that looked as delicate as silk.

 

Her body suit was purple. A white vest flapped across her chest in a v-neck pattern. The folds of the vest were embroidered with gold, and the gold symbol of a Kerovian dragon was etched on both sides of the vest. Gold-trimmed white bands wrapped around her forearms and ankles, and a gold belt wrapped around her waist.

 

Karone had morphed into her true Ranger form without the aide of a transformation device, just as the Rangers of old had.

 

Karone summoned a golden staff and twirled the weapon into a fighting position.

 

Her opponent laughed. “So, you appear to have-”

 

Karone pounced forward, speared her weapon against the villain’s gut, and spun while bashing her staff across her opponent’s head. She followed with a spin kick that smashed against the villain’s temple and knocked him off his feet.

 

The villain crashed against the deck and skid backward. He rolled into a crouched fighting stance and sprang toward Karone while swinging his staff towards her head.

 

Karone lifted her staff, blocked the blow, and smashed a kick across the villain’s head. Her opponent stumbled backward, but managed to keep his balance and stay on his feet.

 

Karone charged towards him and smashed a sidekick against his face. She stepped closer to him while bashing a roundkick against his body. The villain crashed against the deck. 

 

The ranger twirled her staff back into a defensive stance, and her opponent rose to his feet.

 

The villain charged at the ranger again. Karone used her weapon to bash his staff away, spun forward, and speared her weapon through the villain’s chest. The tip of her staff punctured through the villain’s armor and tore through his chest.

 

The villain let out a grated, hissing sigh before slumping lifeless onto the ground.

 

Karone pulled her staff free from the corpse.

 

With the villain dead, the energy barrier around the Galaxy Book faded, and the book fell onto the deck.

 

***

 

Tekno-Man smashed through the door and skid into Darkheart’s throne room. The wide room was barely lit by pale, eerie lights that ran along the deck.

 

Darkheart stood in the center of the throne room. Dozens of wires and cables draped around him like a curtain. The bulky warlord turned his head down to Tekno-Man, and the villain’s visor pulsed with dark light.

 

“Welcome, my child,” Darkheart said in a deep, metallic voice that echoed across the throne room.

 

Tekno-Man raised his saber in an en-guard position. “I am not your child…”

 

The warlord laughed. “Young, fool…have you not figured out who it is you fight?”

 

Darkheart stepped out from the curtain, and with each step, his feet shook the deck. A chamber on the villain’s chest opened, revealing a mess of organic-looking wires. A head poked through from the wires. The humanoid face was scarred, bald, and bruised.

 

Tekno-Man recognized the face immediately. It was the Dynast, the ruler of Isis.

 

The hero took a step back in disbelief. “But…how? Isis has always been Darkheart’s enemy.”

 

“Of course,” the Dynast said. “And I have controlled that war from both sides, to achieve my goals.

 

“For too long, our world has isolated itself from the rest of the galaxy,” the Dynast said. Black ooze dripped from his mouth while he spoke. “The truth, is that we should be ruling this galaxy! But the bearcats would never allow such a thing. So I started a war…a war that has ultimately led to our forces to begin expansion across space.”

 

Tekno-Man tightened his grip on his saber. “And the Tekno armors…were meant to be your weapons in this war?”

 

“My ultimate weapons,” the Dynast said. “I found a scientist on our world to develop the Tekno crystals. That scientist, was your father.

 

“But that fool discovered my true identity, and my plans to pit the Craboid and Isis armies against each other,” the Dynast continued. “He got in my way…so I killed him swiftly and without mercy.

 

“I still needed his secrets, so I saved his consciousness and had it transferred into this armor, the armor of Darkheart.

 

“You and your brother swore vengeance and stole the remaining two Tekno crystals. We fought, and you were gravely injured as a result, and lost your memories. Your brother was persuaded to join me as Tekno-Red, because of the unfortunate death of your sister.”

 

“My sister…” Tekno-Man’s visor pulsed red with anger. “What happened to her.”

 

“She was killed in our last battle. An innocent bystander,” the Dynast explained.

 

An explosion ripped apart the side of the chamber, and Tekno-Red zoomed into the throne room. The villain twirled his staff into a fighting stance and faced his brother. “Enough talk!”

 

Tekno-Red fired his back thrusters and streaked towards Tekno-Man. The villain smashed against Tekno-Man and slammed him against the wall.

 

Tekno-Red smashed his staff against the hero’s armor and kneed him in the chest.

 

Tekno-Man wrapped his arms around his brother and fired his shoulder thrusters. The two warriors shot upward, and Tekno-Man smashed Tekno-Red’s head against the ceiling.

 

Tekno-Man released his grasp, and Tekno-Red crashed back-first against the deck.

 

Tekno-Man landed and smashed his foot against Tekno-Red’s chest. The hero held his blade at his brother’s throat. “Why…why?! Why would you join Darkheart?! He called our father! Our sister!”

 

“He is our father now, fool,” Tekno-Red said.

 

The villain swung his staff and clubbed Tekno-Man aside. Tekno-Red shot to his feet and thrust full speed at Tekno-Man. The villain tackled against his brother and slashed Tekno-Man aside.

 

Tekno-Man crashed against a wall and slumped to the ground.

 

Tekno-Red pounced forward and slashed his blade across Tekno-Man with an x-shaped pattern that sparked on impact and knocked the hero backward. 

 

“Fight, brother!” Tekno-Red slashed his blade across the warrior’s armor. “Show me your metal!”

 

Tekno-Red speared his staff towards Tekno-Man’s faceplate, but Tekno-man caught the blade.

 

The hero’s visor pulsed with red energy. “Brother? My brother is dead. And now…so are you!”

 

Tekno-Man swung a punch that shattered through Tekno-Red armor and punctured through his chest. Tekno-Red screamed, and the energy inside of him overloaded and exploded, which sent fiery pieces of shrapnel raining across the throne room.

 

***

 

Another volley of missiles exploded against the Megazord and tore through its armor. The shuttle bridge rocked upon impact, shaking the three rangers in their seats.

 

Tommy looked to Zhane. “Contact Karone. They need to hurry and get that Galaxy Book out of there.”

 

Zhane shook his head. “Communications are down.”

 

A jolt shook the Megazord and nearly knocked the thee rangers from their seats. A massive mobile suit hovered into view through the cockpit’s viewport, and the villain started firing at the Megazord’s head.

 

Control consoles exploded with bursts of spark that shot steam and smoke. Wiring fell from the top of the cockpit and sparked while slapping against the deck. The lights shimmered and exploded before going black.

 

*** 

 

An explosion punctured a hole on the dorsal side of Darkheart’s jagged ship.

 

Tekno-Man leapt from the opening, flipped through space, and angled his descent back down onto the dark ship’s hull. The hero stepped back into a fighting stance and lifted his blade in an en-guard position.

 

Darkheart slowly climbed from the hull breach and stood to face Tekno-Man. The villain’s visor pulsed with dark power. “Do you even know why you fight, son? Do you even comprehend what forces are at work here?”

 

“I’m not your son,” Tekno-Man said.

 

“That doesn’t answer the question, Sage,” Darkheart said. The villain unsheathed a massive, double-edged blade from beneath his cape. “You don’t understand. You are a pawn. All of us…are pawns. Only The One can break free from Fate, but the Chosen One is mortal. He could fail.

 

“It is for this reason, our people sought to master the melding of man and machine, and uncover the secrets of all realities: virtual, metaphysical, physical…all of them,” Darkheart continued. “We, all our people, sought to achieve mastery over our destiny. It is because of whelps like you that we failed.”

 

Tekno-Man tightened his grip on his saber staff. “Enough of your insane rambling…”

 

The hero fired his shoulder thrusters and shot like a bullet towards Darkheart. Tekno-Man swung his blade at the villain’s head, but Darkheart stood his ground and blocked the blow. Their weapons clashed against one another with a burst of spark.

 

Tekno-Man stepped back and spun while swinging his blade at Darkheart’s chest, but Darkheart blocked the blow with his arm and smashed his weapon across Tekno-Man’s head.

 

The blow whipped Tekno-Man’s body backward, but the hero used his shoulder thrusters to flip through space and land back on the hull.

 

Darkheart’s visor pulsed with black light. “Can’t you see, Sage? You are no match for me. I am stronger than you could ever hope to be.”

 

Tekno-Man cursed beneath his breath. Darkheart was right. The villain’s armor measured impossibly more powerful than the Tekno-Man armor.

 

“That may be,” Tekno-Man said. “But that doesn’t mean I’ll go down without a fight!”

 

Tekno-Man spun his blade like a helicopter propeller and charged at Darkheart. The hero started swinging his blade through a series of rapid strikes and blows that Darkheart parried, seemingly with ease.

 

The hero’s visor pulsed with red light, and Tekno-Man increased the intensity of his attack. But Darkheart parried and blocked the hero’s every blow.

 

Darkheart knocked Tekno-Man’s blade from the hero’s grasp and smashed the back of his fist across Tekno-Man’s head. Tekno-Man fell back first against the hull, and Darkheart pressed his foot down on the hero’s cheat.

 

The villain pressed his heel down harder, and Tekno-Man’s armor started to buckle. The pressure smashed in his chest, and his lungs collapsed.

 

Tekno-Man knew he had one last chance to wipe Darkheart away. One last chance at redemption for his actions. One last chance at revenge.

 

Tekno-Man opened his shoulder cannons, and they pulsed with blue light.

 

Darkheart pressed his foot down harder. “You fool, we’ll-”

 

Tekno-Man fired a massive wave of energy that splashed across Darkheart. The wave chips away at his armor and incinerated its fragments. The Tekno-Blast intensified, and the core of Darkheart was exposed.

 

The villain’s energy overloaded and exploded with a massive sphere of flame that tore apart half of Darkheart’s ship, killing Tekno-Man in the process. The massive cruiser started to drift, and bashed against an Isis battle cruiser.

 

Through the flames, Astro Pink, Astro Black, and Astro Blue fly on their Cyber Sliders away from Darkheart’s ship and towards the Megazord. The Pink Ranger had the Galaxy Book in hand.

 

*** 

 

Astro Black, Astro Blue, and Astro Pink stepped onto the smoke-filled shuttle cockpit and waded their way through hanging wires and control console parts. Sparks still lashed out from wiring and equipment.

 

“No!” Astro Pink ran to Tommy’s side. He was hunched over in his station, but still alive. Zhane and Saoirse were also knocked out, but their vital signs were stable.

 

Tommy groaned with pain and started to slowly sit up. “What…”

 

A weapon impact rocked the ship.

 

Astro Blue moved down towards Zhane. “We’re not out of this yet…”  The Blue Ranger leaned down next to Zhane and gently shook him by the shoulders. “Come on, get up…”

 

Another impact shook the bridge, and an aft control console exploded.

 

Zhane and Saoirse slowly stirred in their seats while regaining consciousness.

 

Tommy placed his hand on his forehead and slowly stood up. “We have to…go back to ship mode.”

 

Astro Pink nodded. “I’ll take care of it, Tommy. First we need to get you to the medical-”

 

“No time,” Tommy said. “Bridge.”

 

***

 

The Astro Megazord underwent a modular transformation and returned to ship mode.

 

The vessel fired its thrusters and shot through the loose formation created by the destruction of Darkheart’s ship. But several dozen enemy cruisers regrouped and tailed the Megaship while opening fire.

 

Particle beam cannons and disrupter blasts exploded through the Megaship’s armor and sliced through its damaged hull.

 

The rangers had regrouped on the bridge. Tommy was barely managing to stand at his control station. Zhane had his broken right arm in a makeshift sling. And Saoirse sat at her station. She was too dizzy to stand, her head was in serious pain, and she felt nauseous.

 

The enemy ships kept firing, but the Megaship had enough of a gain that it could break for hyperspace whenever commanded.

 

“Set a course for Earth,” Tommy said. “Maximum Hyper-Rush.”

 

Tommy pushed the control levers forward to throttle the Megaship into hyperspace.

 

 

But nothing happened. The ship whined in protest as its engines fluttered. Enemy blasts exploded against the ship’s hull and shook the rangers on the bridge. Craboids, mobile suits, pirate vessels, and capital ships closed in fast on the Megaship.

 

Tommy pushed the lever again. But nothing happened.

 

“Son of a…” Tommy shook his head. “What’s wrong with the hyper drive?”

 

Saoirse pulled up a quick diagnostic screen. Another impact shook the bridge. “The hyper drive relays are scrambled.” The bridge rocked again. “It will take me a minute to fix.”

 

The enemy vessels opened fire with another barrage that exploded against the Megazord’s armor. Several blasts tore armor plating away from the ship and punctured through its hull.

 

The bridge tilted, nearly throwing the rangers off their feet as several power conduits exploded from behind consoles, shattering monitors and ripping apart control stations.

 

“We don’t have a minute,” Tommy said.

 

“I can see that!” Saoirse said.

 

DECA’s voice came over the speakers. “Hull breaches on decks two, three, and five. Emergency forcefields are holding.”

 

Another volley exploded against the Megaship and rocked the bridge.

 

“Weapons are offline,” Saoirse said. “Structural integrity is failing.”

 

Enemy vessels closed in around the Megaship and continued to pour on the firepower. Blasts hammered against the Megaship and tore through its hull.

 

Suddenly, bolts of red plasma fire pounded against the enemy ships’ deflectors, and turned the enemy armada’s flank.

 

A task force of allied ships had dropped from hyperspace and closed in on the enemy ships to screen them away from the Rangers’ vessel.

 

Fray’loth, Triforian, Aquition, and Rigelian starships swooped downward and continued to open fire against the enemy vessels.

 

The allied flotilla hailed the Megaship. The Megaship’s viewscreen activated, and Commander Kruger’s face appeared. “Sorry we’re late.”

 

“Apology accepted,” Tommy said.

 

“We’ll cover your escape vector and be right behind you,” Kruger said.

 

“Give us a minute,” Tommy said. “Our drives were damaged.”

 

Kruger nodded. “We’ll do our best. Commander Kruger, out.”

 

Triforian ships swooped towards the Isis battle cruisers and opened fire with darts of golden energy. The blasts exploded against the enemy ships’ shields, which started to buckle from the smashing barrage.

 

The enemy vessel tried to regroup, but the Rigel and Fray’loth cruisers wedged into their formation and opened fire with plasma cannons and disrupters, which tore through pirate vessels and pounded against the capital ships’ shields.

 

Pirate vessels started to withdraw, but the Isis attack forces were more stubborn.

 

On his bridge, Kruger looked to his gunners. “Concrete fire on the heavy cruisers. Knock out their weapons and engines. Or just destroy them, if that‘s easier.”

 

Back on the Megaship’s bridge. Saoirse turned to Tommy. “There. That should do it.”

 

“Maximum Hyper-Rush.” Tommy pushed the control levers forward, and the Megaship blasted into hyperspace.

 

***

 

The Megaship flew through hyperspace and its rolling tunnels of blue light. The rangers gathered in the medical bay, where Cy’s life support equipment was about to go offline.

 

Saoirse knelt by a terminal and tried to make any repairs she could before it was too late. But she could not. She cursed and slammed her hands against the deck.

 

“Saoirse…” Zhane walked over to her and placed his hands on her shoulders, but she shrugged him off.

 

“Look, I don’t get it,” Zhane said defensively. “You were the one that wanted to pull the plug in the first place…”  

 

“Because I know it’s what he would have wanted,” she said. “It’s not what I wanted. I can try to put on a brave face. I can try to pretend like I’m okay with this. But the truth is…I need him. We need him.”

 

Saoirse placed a hand on his chest as the life support equipment slowly started to die down.

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “There may be something I can do…”

 

Saoirse looked to Tommy. “What?”

 

“No time to explain,” Tommy said.

 

Tommy was a mage, like all rangers with a natural connection to the power. His specialty was fire-based combat spells, but had touched enough different areas of magick to know more.

 

He was not nearly as good of a healer as Rocky, but Tommy knew he had enough skill to t least let Cy last until they could reach Earth for help.

 

Tommy placed his hands on Cy’s head and closed his eyes. Tommy could feel Cy’s spirit and soul still inside the body, but he was brain dead. The ranger sent tendrils of power into Cy’s brain and ignited the neurons, kick starting his nervous system.

 

Cy slowly started to stir and opened his eyes.

 

Tommy narrowed his brow with strain, and pain suddenly shot through his arm and knocked him to the deck. His heart pounded in his chest while he tried to catch his breath. “I can’t do it….there’s too much damage…”

 

Tommy had revived Cy to an extent, but the effects would soon wear off. The life support equipment hummed as it went offline.

 

Cy looked to Tommy. “Tell Katharine I…” His word’s trailed off, and his eyes grew distant and lifeless.

 

Cy was gone.

 

Tommy choked back his tears. “I’ll tell her, pal…I’ll tell her.”

 

***

 

Earth

 

The fighting continued in the Ginga Forest.

 

Gao Silver, Galaxy Red, and Gao Red charged at Hunter Knight.

 

Hunter Knight knocked Gao Silver’s Lunar Cue aside and sent the Ranger tumbling forward. The villain twirled his saber through a backhand swing that slashed across Galaxy Red’s chest. And Hunter Knight finished his attack with a spin kick that smashed across Gao Red’s helmet.

 

Gao Red crashed against the ground but rolled back into a crouched fighting stance. Hunter Knight stalked towards the Red Ranger, but Gao Red pounced and speared his dagger through the villain’s chest armor with a burst of spark.

 

Hunter Knight grabbed Gao Red by the wrist, and the villain pushed the dagger deeper into his own chest. “Can’t you Rangers see, that we Hunters cannot be killed? We are the Fires of Hell made flesh.”

 

Gao Red narrowed his eyes beneath his helmet. “If we can’t kill you, we’re still, sure as Hell, going to hurt you.”

 

Gao Red armed his Lion Fang and bashed the weapon across Hunter Knight’s head. The villain stumbled backward, and the Red Ranger pressed forward while slashing both weapons across the villain’s damaged chest with a burst of spark.

 

Galaxy Red leapt onto Gao Red’s shoulders, pushed off, and somersaulted through the air towards Hunter Knight. The Red Galaxy Ranger landed while slashing his sword and Kiba Knife down in an x-shaped pattern that sparked across the villain’s chest.

 

From the side, Gao Silver switched his Lunar Cue to rifle mode and fired lances of blue energy that exploded against the villain’s injured chest with bursts of spark.

 

Fire continued to rage across the forest, and the flames continued to spread from the battle ground. The fighting continued in the meantime.

 

Galaxy Blue, Gao Blue, and Gao Black faced off with Hunter Sting.

 

The villain lashed his whip around the Blue Gao Ranger’s leg and whipped him off his feet. Hunter Sting swung the Blue Ranger and sent him splintering through three charred tree trunks.

 

Gao Black charged forward and smashed a tackle against Hunter Sting, but the villain barely budged. The villain smashed his fists against the Black Ranger’s back and knocked him to the ground.

 

Galaxy Blue armed his Quasar Launcher in staff mode, twirled the weapon into a fighting stance, and bashed its end across the villain’s chest.

 

Hunter Sting retracted his whip and thrashed the weapon across Galaxy Blue’s armor with a burst of spark.

 

Nearby, Galaxy Green and Rescue Green charged at opposite sides of Hunter Claw.

 

Rescue Green armed his V-Lance, and the weapon’s blade pulsed with jade-tinted energy.

 

Galaxy Green held his Seijuukin, and the sword pulsed with green energy that spread upward across the blade.

 

The Green Galaxy Ranger swung his saber through a streak of energy towards the villain’s head. But the villain clamped his claw on the blade, twisted the weapon downward, and bashed the back of his fist across the Green Galaxy Ranger’s helmet.

 

From behind, Rescue Green pounced forward and slashed his weapon through a streak of green energy that exploded across the villain’s midsection.

 

Hunter Claw swung his blade around and slashed the weapon upward across the Green Lightspeed Ranger’s chest with a burst of spark.

 

Meanwhile, Gao White and Rescue Pink continued their fight against Hunter Viper.

 

The villain fired darts of purple-tinted energy that exploded against their armor with bursts of spark and whipped their bodies backward.

 

Nearby, Rescue Yellow and Gao Yellow circled around Hunter Taiga.

 

The Yellow Lightspeed Ranger armed his Rescue Baton, and the Yellow Gao Ranger armed his Golden Eagle Sword. The Yellow Rangers pounced towards Hunter Taiga from opposite sides and swung their blades at the villain’s head.

 

Hunter Taiga twirled his axe to deflect the blows. The villain twisted his wrist and swung the axe back around, so the weapon thrashed across their armor with bursts of spark that whipped their bodies backward.

 

Fires continued to rage.

 

The villains regrouped, and so did the Rangers. The Hunters extended their weapons and fired bolts of energy that exploded against the Rangers with massive bursts of spark that tore across their armor and sent them flying off the ground.

 

The Rangers splintered through burning trees and crashed against the ground.

 

Hunter Knight leapt through the air and aimed his descent towards the fallen Rangers. The villain held his sword high and prepared for a finishing blow.

 

But a massive burst of pale green light exploded against the Knight and knocked him from the air. Hunter Knight crashed against the ground and skid backward across the soil.

 

Hunter Knight rolled back to his knees and looked up to see Tenma Ranger, Lion Ranger, and Phoenix Ranger step into the forest. The Time Rangers and Turbo Rangers were not far behind.

 

Hunter Knight stepped back into a defensive stance and looked to his teammates. “Our job here is done. Fall back…”

 

***

 

Billy worked in one of his private labs within the Bay Area. The door slid open, and Max stepped in. The teen’s brow was knitted with anger and confusion.

 

“Max,” Billy said, without taking his eyes off the computer terminal. “Glad to see you made it back. What you did on the station worked. We should be able to teleport at will and summon our zords within the Demon City.”

 

Max stepped towards Billy’s side. “Teddy and Hikaru are in the medical bay. They haven’t regained consciousness yet. It was your Trails.”

 

Billy stopped working. Awkward silence hung in the air before Billy turned towards Max. “It’s unfortunate that had to happen.”

 

“Unfortunate?” Max raised his voice. “Billy, Teddy and Hikaru almost got killed, and Justin was shot through the arm. I read what those things were…but I want to hear it from you. What were those Trails?”

 

“One of my projects,” Billy said. “INET has been branching away from Ranger developments. We have Lightspeed. We’ve been making progress with the J-Force and DEKA initiatives. But we can do so much more. And the Trails are the first step.”

 

“First step to what?” Max asked.

 

“Perfection,” Billy said. “Those Trails were the first step in a project to meld human soldiers with different types of tissues collected from various demons and monsters over the years. We can bond that DNA with human DNA, and create perfect, indestructible super soldiers.

 

“But that would just be the beginning,” Billy continued. “We could use that DNA to cure diseases. Sickness would be a thing of the past.”

 

“Billy…” Max said, wrinkling his face with disgust. “Those Trails used to be people.”

 

“They knew what they were getting into,” Billy said.

 

Max shook his head with disbelief and took a step away from Billy. “I don’t think I know you anymore…”

 

“You never did, really,” Billy said. “Few people do.”

 

***

 

The slimy black and crimson insect creatures pounced on innocent civilians that walked across a Leawood plaza.

 

Dex, Shou, Kouishiro, and Hikaru ran to the plaza and snapped into defensive stances.

 

Dex narrowed his eyes and glared at the two monsters. "Your rampage ends here, villains! I helped create you...and now...my friends and I will destroy you!"

 

Hikaru snapped down his arms. “Black Sun!” Energy wrapped around him, transforming him into his black insect-like armor.

 

“Kuuga awaken!” Energy washed over Kouishiro and transformed him into his armor.

 

“Ryuuki awaken!” Red energy shimmered around Dex and transformed him into his armor.

 

“Guyver.” Shou commanded. His bio-booster wrapped around his body as if alive.

 

The Guyver smashed a flying kick against the creature. Guyver landed and bashed a spin kick against the monster’s head. The villain stumbled backward but stayed on its feet.

 

Guyver snapped out his arm blades and charged at the creature. But the insect grabbed the Guyver by a wrist and bashed an elbow across the hero’s head. The blow whipped the Guyver off his feet, and he crashed back-first against the ground.

 

The insect pounced at the fallen hero. But the Guyver flipped up and kicked the creature back. The Guyver spun forward and swung his arm blades at the creature. The blades ripped across the insect’s chests with bursts of spark.

 

Kamen Rider Black moved in alongside the Guyver. Black Sun smashed a flurry of punches against the monster’s injured chest. The insect swung its claws at the hero, but Kamen Rider Black ducked under the blow and smashed a roundkick against the monster’s chest.

 

Nearby, Ryuuki and Kuuga circled around the crimson insect.

 

Kamen Rider Kuuga smashed a sidekick against the villain’s face, but the insect grabbed Kuuga by the leg and swung him off his feet. The villain smashed Kuuga against the pavement.

 

“Rider Flare!“ Ryuuki thrust his gauntlet and fired a stream of flame that exploded against the monster with a burst of spark, knocking the villain off his feet.

 

Meanwhile, Black Sun somersaulted through the air and swung a drop kick at the black insectoid. The kick radiated with crimson power.

 

“Rider Kick!” The kick smashed against the monster with a massive burst of spark.

 

The Guyver opened his chest plate. “Mega smasher!”

 

A torrent of bio energy poured from the hero’s chest and splashed across the villain, tearing the creature to pieces.

 

Kuuga and Ryuuki somersaulted through the air towards the crimson insect. 

 

“Rider Kick!” their energized kicks smashed against the monster.

 

The villain crashed back against the street and exploded with a burst of flame and smoke.

 

Ryuuki breathed a sigh of relief and looked to his companions. “Good work, my friends.”

 

***

 

Aquitar

 

Na’mious used a telekinetic grip to lift Ninjared by the throat. The villain pulled the Red Ranger closer. The demon smiled with fiendish delight, amused by the Red Ranger’s struggle to break free.

 

Meanwhile, the Aquition Rangers scattered around Ninjablue and Ninjablack. The Black Ninja Ranger armed his sword and slashed across the blue and pink Aquition Rangers while dashing past them.

 

“Come on, guys,” he pleaded while smashing a sidekick against the black Aquition Ranger’s faceplate. “Snap out of it!”

 

“They’re already dead,” Ninjablue said. The Blue Ranger placed his hands together in a ninja-like pose. “Ninpo water assault!”

 

Streams of water curved out from behind the Blue Ninja Ranger and shot at the Aquitions. The water streams spilt into thin, razor-sharp jet streams that exploded across the Aquition Rangers with massive bursts of spark that whipped their bodies backward.

 

***

 

Trini slowly stirred into consciousness. She was lying against a damaged rooftop that flood waters raged around. Jonathan was at her side, and he was dressing a large cut on her left arm.

 

She narrowed her eyes and started to pull away from him, but he held her still. “Will you just stop. You can be mad at me later. Right now, you’re hurt, and we need to get back to the others.”

 

She pushed him away and grabbed the bandage. “I can do it myself...”

 

Jonathan sighed. “You know. The chances of us all still being alive by the time all this is over aren’t that great. Why don’t you just tell me what I did to make you so mad?”

 

“As if you don’t know,” Trini said as she dressed up her wound.

 

“Oh come on,” Jonathan said as he sat down. “Cut me some slack. We haven’t carried on a decent conversation in more than three years.”

 

“And who’s fault is that?” Trini asked.

 

“You moved back to Japan to start your Intelligence training,” Jonathan said.

 

“And did you even think about asking me to stay?” she asked.

 

“Huh?”

 

“When I left,” Trini said. “Not once did you ask me to stay. You didn’t seem to care. You almost seemed glad I was leaving.”

 

“Trini,” Jonathan said, “if I would have asked you to stay, you would have dropped me to the ground.”

 

“I would have,” she said. “But still...”

 

Jonathan shook his head with disbelief. “Is that it? All this time...that’s what you’ve been mad about. Just that?”

 

“Just that?” Trini asked. “This is the first time you even asked me what was wrong.”

 

“Did you forget how much I suck at relationships?” Jonathan asked. “Of course I wanted to ask you to stay! But that was what you wanted, and I wanted to support you…and all that crap.”

 

Trini rolled her eyes. “That’s almost sweet.”

 

“Hey,” Jonathan said. “I’m trying…”

 

“Try harder,” she said.

 

“Fine.” Jonathan pulled her close and kissed her full on the mouth.

 

Trini was taken aback at first, but slowly melted into his arms.

 

Suddenly, the rooftops shook and nearly toppled Jonathan and Trini into the floodwaters below.

 

A massive squid-like creature emerged from beneath a building’s ruins and thrashed its tentacles across the rooftops. The creature’s oblong body was covered with eyes. 

 

“Shogun transform!“ Jonathan and Trini morphed and leapt away just before a tentacle smashed through the building they had been on.

 

Ninjayellow landed on a walkway near the demonic squid, and Ninjawhite landed on a building behind the creature.

 

The two Rangers leapt at the creatures from opposite sides and dashed past the demon in blurs of motion while slashing off two of its tentacles, blades sparking on impact. 

 

Ninjawhite landed against the side of a damaged building, ran alongside the wall, and leapt back at the creature. She energized her blade with white-tinted power and hacked across the creature’s body with a massive burst of spark. 

 

***

 

Ninjared flipped back and kicked the demon upside the head while twisting free from his grasp. The Red Ranger landed and dashed past Na’mious while slashing the villain across the chest with a burst of spark.

 

Na’mious crashed against the bridge and rolled to his feet. The villain turned to leap towards the rooftops, but Ninjablack moved in and slashed upward across the demon’s chest with a burst of spark.

 

The demon fired a sphere of flame that exploded against Ninjablack’s armor and knocked him off his feet.  

 

Ninjablue snapped a volley of shuriken at the demon, but Na’mious merely slapped the blades aside before leaping to the rooftops.

 

“After him!” Ninjared shouted as he and his two teammates leapt after Na’mious.

 

They jumped through blurs of motion from rooftop to rooftop while pursuing Na’mious. The villain landed on top of a plaza structure that looked down upon the dead octopus-type creature. Na’mious opened his eyes wide with horror. “My pet...”

 

“Sorry,” a voice said from behind. The villain looked to see Ninjayellow standing on top of a broken column. “I was never good with animals.”

 

Na’mious looked to his right, and saw Ninjawhite standing on another column. The rest of the Rangers closed in from behind. The demon was surrounded.

 

The demon grew a spear from his palm and hurled the weapon at Ninjayellow. The Yellow Ranger leapt over the weapon and dashed past the demon while slashing him across the chest.

 

Ninjawhite leap upward and emitted a cloud of energy diamonds. “Ninpo shard attack!” the shards shot at the demon like a diamond storm and exploded against him with bursts of spark.

 

Ninjablack placed his hands together in a ninja-like fighting pose. He summoned his power of Earth and charged towards the demon lord with a burst of energy. The Black Ranger unsheathed his pulsing, energized saber and hacked across the demon’s body.

 

Ninjablue hurled a volley of water discs that slashed against the demon with bursts of spark.

 

Ninjared moved in next. “Hidden-style full moon cut!”

 

The Red Ranger energized his blade and slowly swung the weapon in a circular pattern. The Red Ranger chopped his blade down through an energized streak that tore across the demon with a burst of spark.

 

Na’mious fell back as his energy overloaded and exploded with a burst of flame that consumed him and vaporized him into ashes.

 

Ninjared slid his sword back in his scabbard. He looked around the ruined capital of Aquitar, and the demon soldiers that kept spreading through the streets. “We’re done here guys,” he said. “Let’s get home.”

 

***

 

Earth

 

Tommy entered the medical bay room where his younger brother was kept. Teddy was sitting up in bed and had bandages wrapped around his body and forehead.

 

Tommy held out his hand. “Turn over your Zeonizers.”

 

“What?” Teddy asked defensively.

 

“You’re done.”

 

Teddy knitted his brow. “What do you mean ‘I’m done?’ ”

 

“You were almost killed because you got careless,” Tommy said. “So you’re done.”

 

“When are you going to stop treating me like a kid?” Teddy asked. 

 

“When you stop acting like one,” Tommy said. 

 

Teddy rolled his eyes. “Oh, come on, Tommy. I’ve been to Hell and back. I fought with you against Zedd. I fought with you against Sauron. And I’ve fought against the Shadow King. I’m a Ranger now. I’ve more than proved myself.”

 

“Not by sneaking onto shuttles and almost getting yourself killed.”

 

“Oh, come on,” Teddy raised his voice. “It only happened once.”

 

“Once is all it takes, Teddy,” Tommy said. “One time, one slip up, and you’re dead.”

 

“I’m sure you didn’t always make the best decisions,” Teddy shot back. “Does the phrase ‘Evil Green Ranger’ ring a bell?”

 

Tommy’s face grew pale, and his shoulders hunched down. The guilt in his eyes was more than evident.

 

“Oh, Tommy, I…I’m sorry,” Teddy said. “I didn’t mean to…”

 

Tommy turned and left the room.

 

***

 

Billy stood in front of a control panel within a small Bay Area lab room. He ran another sensor sweep of Angel Grove, which was now the Demon City. He paid particular attention to troop movements throughout the city and a new army of monsters that had appeared.

 

These monsters were made of demonic energy, as well as flesh from the dead bodies of people and animals that littered the city streets. For this reason, Billy labeled these monsters as the Undead. 

 

The doors to the small chamber slid open, and Tommy stepped in. Billy turned to face his teammate. “Tommy...I was just-”

 

Tommy smashed a hook punch across Billy’s face that dropped him to the ground. “You want to explain what my little brother is doing in a hospital bed?”

 

Billy rubbed his jaw and rose to his feet. He narrowed his eyes at Tommy. “I see you’ve been talking to Max about what happened at the station...”

 

“I want you to shut down whatever experiments you’re working on,” Tommy said. “You’ve gone too far.”

 

“Too far?” Billy shook his head and raised his voice. “Do you have any idea how much I’ve accomplished? The Zeo powers, Lightspeed, the Silver Guardians, the Astro powers. I’ve-”

 

“Stop,” Tommy said. “I’m not questioning that you’ve done some good, but you’ve crossed the line on more than one occasion.”

 

“So now what?” Billy asked. “Have you come to push me back over that line?”

 

“If I have to,” Tommy said.

 

“How?” Billy asked. “Is violence all you can understand? The only way you’re capable of solving problems?”

 

“I don’t want to fight you.”

 

“Pfft...” Billy walked over to a wall compartment. “Of course not. That’s why you came in and punched me.”

 

Billy opened the small compartment and pulled out a wrist device. It was the Titanium morpher. “My developments have surpassed the powers Zordon and Kaku gave us. Maybe you need a demonstration...”

 

Billy strapped on the morpher and flipped open its activation panel. “Titanium Power!”

 

Energy flashed around Billy and morphed him into the Titanium Ranger. The armor system pumped morphin energy through his veins and charged every cell in his body. The armor’s systems downloaded enough information and battle strategy into the brain to overwhelm a normal human. But Billy was far from normal.

 

“The Titanium System is as close to perfection as I’ve come, but it’s too powerful,” he said. “In analyzes attack patterns and downloads counter attack patterns directly into the brain. It’s the perfect weapon.”

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “What are you doing, Billy?”

 

“Giving you a demonstration.” The Titanium Ranger pounced forward in a burst of speed and smashed a spin kick against Tommy’s chest.

 

The blow knocked Tommy off his feet and crashed him against the wall. Tommy landed on his feet and snapped into a fighting stance while Titanium Ranger moved in with a pair of roundkicks that Tommy blocked.

 

Titanium Ranger leapt onto the wall and pushed off while swinging a spin kick towards Tommy’s head. Tommy ducked under the blow and armed his morphers.

 

“Aura power!” he morphed into the red-armored Dragon Ranger. “Ryuuseikin!”

 

Dragon Ranger summoned his sword with a burst of golden light and swung the weapon through a horizontal arc that emitted a fiery energy wave. The wave exploded against Titanium Ranger and knocked him against the wall.

 

Billy crashed against the ground, and his armor powered down. Dragon Ranger stepped over and cut the morpher from Billy’s wrist.

 

“You never did get it,” Dragon Ranger said. “The greatest weapon we have is our spirit.”

 

***

 

The Mogralord’s forces advanced across the globe.

 

Demons of all shapes and sizes attacked major cities, such as Washington D.C., New York, and Paris.

 

Meanwhile, in Angel Grove, the ceremony to open every Hell Gate in the universe was about to begin. 

 

***

 

Jason and his Ninja team regrouped at the Bay Area along with the rest of Earth’s champions. They all gathered in a large briefing room along with Kruger and representatives from his fleet, including Tarrant, who would use Cy's morpher to become Astro Red, Nolan, the Demon Hunter, and others.  

 

Griffalzor had fled from Angel Grove after his ship crash, and joined the heroes as well. The winged Titan warrior had given the rangers information about a secret underground tunnel route leading to the demon temple. 

 

Tommy turned and addressed the heroes after reviewing their plan. The Zeo and Galaxy teams would take the hidden tunnel towards the temple while the rest of the Rangers, Virtual heroes, Riders, and the Guyver split up the Mogralord’s forces.

 

Kruger and his teams, along with remaining assets from INET, would split up around the globe to fight off the demon lord’s advancing forces.

 

“We’ve been fighting non-stop for days, ever since the demons took over Angel Grove,” Tommy said. “We’re tired. We’re battered. But if we fail today, none of what we have fought for will matter. Everything, all of existence, will be destroyed.

 

“Now we have to fight even harder. We have to use all the strength and abilities at our disposal. This is our biggest battle, and one way or another, it will be out last. Let’s make it count. Let’s take back our city.”

 

To be concluded...Chapter 12