Author’s note: The following story takes place in 2007, shortly after the start of Book Fourteen: Lion Heart.

 

Lightspeed Rescue: Chapter One

Operation Lightspeed

 

Young Max walked across Angel Grove’s city streets along with four friends from his sophomore class.

 

The group was on their way towards a field trip at INET’s new corporate headquarters. The new sky scraper boasted state of the art systems and technology. INET was branching into just about everything in the city, and quickly spreading worldwide. Max had a keen interest in technology, inherited from his departed father.

 

“This is going to be so cool, you guys,” Max said, a bright smile on his face as he stared at the towering skyscraper ahead. “Just a few years ago this company was just in some kid’s garage…and look at them now!”

 

Max’s friend Junior smiled and rolled his eyes. Junior had blonde hair parted down the center and dark blue eyes.

 

“Right,” Junior said sarcastically. “I couldn’t be more excited. Feel my goose bumps.”

 

Max smiled and slugged his friend in the shoulder. “Humor me, Junior…or don’t expect me to come with you to your next Beetle Borgs convention.”

 

“Why wouldn’t you want to?” Junior said.

 

“Because I’m sane,” Max said.

 

DJ, a skinny boy with shaggy brown hair, laughed. “That’s a matter of opinion.”

 

Along with them were Kevin, a shy boy with hair dyed blonde, and Steph, a young brown-haired girl with green eyes. The five teens had grown up together at one of Angel Grove’s youth centers. They were as close as brothers and sisters.

 

“Settle down, class,” their teacher said as he turned and faced the group of 30 students. They stood in front of INET’s wide glass entrance while their teacher lectured them. “I want everyone to be on their best behavior…No repeats of last month’s field trip.”

 

Junior snickered, remembering his prank that left a pair of zoo models in compromising positions. DJ smiled and elbowed Junior in the ribs, signaling him to stay quiet.

 

The wide glass doors opened, and the class entered INET’s lobby. They were unaware of the approaching storm in the skies above.

 

***

 

A meteor shot through the skies above Angel Grove. The streak of fiery molten rock crashed through a trio of skyscrapers and exploded against the ground. The explosion showered molten ash and fiery debris everywhere as the meteor started to simmer. Something stirred within.

 

***

 

Max and his class walked across an upper bridge extending over a research and development area. The large room was mostly white and lined with metal. Max looked over the railing as people below worked on equipment he could only dream of.

 

The tour guide spoke as the group moved on. “Donated by Tony Stark, the INET building is home to the latest in research and development technologies. From here, our scientists are able to explore possibilities ranging from global defense, to finding a cure for the common cold…”

 

“Wow…” Max said, eyes wide with excitement while looking over the railing. He turned to his friends. “Guys, we have to go down there.”

 

“I would not recommend jumping,” Junior said.

 

Max flashed his friends a lopsided grin. “I’m sneaking down…you guys coming?”

 

“Like we have a choice,” Steph said.

 

Kevin shook his head. “I don’t think we should move away from the group.”

 

“It’ll be fun guys,” Max said. “Let’s go…”

 

DJ looked to Junior through the corner of his eyes. “Does he not know what fun is?”

 

Junior shrugged. “It’s not like we have anything else better to do.”

 

The five teens slowly snuck away from the group and headed back towards the stairs leading down from the walkway.

 

***

 

The crashed meteor bubbled, spewing magma across the city streets. A giant pair of red eyes opened within the meteor crater.

 

***

 

The five teens were lost. They had moved down a corridor after walking down the steps, and the next thing they knew, they were walking circles in pale-gray steel hallways.

 

“Guys,” Stephanie said. “I really think we should go back the way we came.”

 

Max looked at her over his shoulder and raised his eyebrows. “What do you think I’ve been trying to do?”

 

Junior shook his heads while looking over the smooth walls. “This place is creepy.”

 

“No,” DJ said. “You just watch too much TV.”

 

“True,” Junior said. “But this place is still creepy.”

 

***

 

A giant figure rose from the molten pit, showering lava debris across the city streets. The towering giant was made entirely of jagged, molten rock. The demon started stomping towards the INET building.

 

***

 

Alarms started blaring at the INET building. Billy Cranston looked up from his desk and narrowed his eyes. A flat-screen holographic monitor activated above his desk. It showed a spike of Minus Energy on the streets nearby. Minus Energy meant one things: demons. And this particular demon appeared to be from the Saima Clan.

 

Billy activated his desk communicator. “Lock down the building. Tell Capt. Mitchell to have his men ready. Bring Lightspeed Rescue online.”

 

***

 

The teens were still walking down the corridor when red alarms started flashing and blaring.

 

“Max, what did you do?!” DJ said.

 

Doors opened and Silver Guardian soldiers ran out. The soldiers were moving quickly and efficiently to pre-assigned defensive locations. One of the soldiers did a double take when he noticed Max and the others.

 

“Shit,” the soldier mumbled under his breath. He looked over his shoulder to one of his teammates. “There’s a bunch of damn kids down here!”

 

Five shoulders surrounded the teens, each grabbing one by the arm.

 

“Hey,” Junior said, “watch the shirt, man.”

 

DJ flashed Max a sarcastic look as the soldiers pulled the teens further down the corridor, away from the commotion. “Great idea, Max…coming down here and all. So much fun.”

 

A soldier pushed DJ forward. “Shut up…you kids picked the wrong time to sneak around.”

 

One of the female soldiers looked to her leader. “Where are we taking them?”

 

“The control room,” the soldiers said. “The shelter’s too far, and we have to move. They’ll be here any second.”

 

Max looked over to the soldier. “Who’s they?”

 

“You don’t want to know,” the soldier said.

 

***

 

They were called Batlings. The black creatures carried steel blades that cut through Silver Guardian soldiers left and right as the demon grunts pushed into INET base. It was their primary target. The energy held within the building attracted, and threatened the Saima.

 

The Batlings moved into the lower levels of INET headquarters. Guards opened fire with sonic-piercing bullets, but the weapons had little to no effect. The Batlings moved on, tearing through flesh and bone with their sabers.

 

***

 

The hallways were quickly infested with Batlings. A group of the creatures charged towards the teens and their guard escorts.

 

“Take them!” the lead soldier shouted to his teammates as he pushed the teens back, turned towards the Batlings, and started shooting high-yield rounds.

 

The kids were pushed into the command center. The multi-level room was filled with computer screens and holographic readouts. Max opened his eyes wide, imagining what he could accomplish in such a room.

 

Dr. Cranston was in the center of the room, leaning over a computer operator’s shoulder. “Prepare a teleportation burst. Get the Batlings out of my building and assault them there. And bring MINT online.”

 

A droid that resembled a floating gear hovered towards Dr. Cranston. Billy pulled out a suitcase and opened it, revealing five braces inside. Billy inserted the braces into MINT for delivery. “Get the morphers to Lightspeed Headquarters. Now.”

 

A group of Batlings charged into the room and started attacking technicians, thrashing them with swords and tearing through computer equipment. One of the Batlings slashed MINT from the air. The droid crashed against the floor near the teens’ feet, and the morphers spilled out.

 

Before Billy could stop him, a technician triggered a teleportation burst that transported the Batlings out of the command room, along with the five teens, MINT and the braces.

 

***

 

Max and his friends crashed to the ground outside. They had landed at a vacant plaza outside of the INET building. MINT was near them, along with the five braces. They looked up to see the Batlings surround them.

 

“Max, you are so dead,” DJ said as they climbed to their feet.

 

Max looked down at the braces and started to pick them up. “I have a hunch.” He handed a brace to each of his friends. “Put these on.”

 

The Batlings moved in closer. They were toying with the teens.

 

“What?” Junior asked. “Screw that, let’s run like hell.”

 

“We’re surrounded,” Max said. “And I think I know what these things are. That guy called them morphers.”

 

Max strapped the brace to his wrist. He closed his eyes tight and pressed a switch on the brace’s side. The brace snapped open and pulsed with energy. A grid of red power surrounded Max as skin-tight armor slid into place. A mask slid over his mouth and nose before a helmet covered his entire head.

 

The transformation knocked him off his feet. He was Rescue Red. “That was so f-”

 

Batlings charged forward to attack.

 

Junior ducked under a swing and scrambled backward. He had taken basic self defense training at the Youth Center like everyone, but didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as some of the other kids there.

 

He rose to full height as a soldier slammed a kick against his chest. Junior crashed back onto his tailbone. He winced with pain, closed his eyes, and activated his morpher. A grid of blue energy surrounded him. Skin-tight armor started wrapping into place as a mask and helmet formed around his head.

 

He was Rescue Blue.

 

Two soldiers swung their blades down towards the Blue Ranger’s head. Rescue Blue grabbed their wrists and rolled backward while pulling them to the ground.

 

DJ sidestepped away from a soldier that kept swinging a blade. The teen had no martial arts prowess. Luckily, fencing lessons had given him quick reflexes, otherwise he’d be dead.

 

DJ closed his eyes tight and activated his brace. A yellow grid formed across his body as his armor wrapped around him. His mask and helmet slid into place. He was Rescue Yellow.

 

A soldier swung its blade towards Rescue Yellow’s head. Rescue Yellow used his left forearm to knock the saber away while stepping forward and slamming a punch against the grunt’s face.

 

Kevin and Steph stood back-to-back and activated their braces. Green and pink energy formed around their bodies as their armor appeared. They were Rescue Green and Rescue Pink.

 

***             

 

Dr. Cranston was stunned as he watched the battle unfold. The teens’ sync ratios with the morphers were off the charts. During each testing, not a single wearer was able to get the braces’ efficiency levels above 70 percent. Each teen except for Steph was above 90, but even Stephanie was in the low 80s.

 

***

 

Rescue Red grabbed a soldier by the head and pulled down, bashing the grunt’s face against his knee. He tossed the Battling aside. “That’s three!”

 

“That’s it?” Rescue Blue asked as a blade swung towards his head. The Blue Ranger slapped the saber aside and slammed the back of his fist across the grunt’s head. “That’s five for me.”

 

The ground suddenly started to shake. The Rangers looked up and saw the magma monster stomp towards the INET building.

 

Rescue Blue shook his head. “I am so not fighting that thing.”

 

Rescue Red nodded in agreement. “Running seems like a good plan this time.”

 

The giant monster fired a magma blast. The massive blast of molten rock exploded against the base of the INET building, causing a massive shockwave that knocked the Rangers backward and out of consciousness.

 

***

 

Max was still unconscious. His mind was flashing back nearly three years ago, to 2004…

 

The Zeo Rangers were in their civvies as they walked up to the front door of the house, which was actually part of a larger apartment complex.

 

“So,” Justin said. “Don’t you guys think this is going to seem a little weird to them?”

 

“Probably,” Tommy said as he reached up and knocked.

 

A middle-aged woman opened the door as Tommy put on his best smile. “Hello mam, my name is…”

 

“I’m not interested,” she said as she started to shut the door.

 

“No, no,” Tommy said. “We’re not selling anything. It’s about your son…”

 

The lady wrinkled her brow with concern. “What about my son?”

 

Kat shook her head. “It’s nothing bad.”

 

“No,” Tommy agreed. “He just found something that belongs to us. A computer chip…”

 

The boy, Max was listening from his window when he heard.

 

“Rotten luck,” he mumbled to himself as he picked up a black boxed device that contained the chip the rangers were looking for. He bolted through the back door of the apartment complex when suddenly, a group of Cogs appeared as if from nowhere. Max screamed as the soldiers grabbed him.

 

The rangers heard the screams and immediately bolted around to the back of the apartment complex. They ran towards the rear of the building as the Cogs turned to face them and opened fire with optic blasts that exploded across the ground around them.

 

The rangers rolled out of the way as they readied their Zeonizers.

 

“It’s morphin time!” Tommy shouted.

 

“Ultra Transform!” the rangers called in unison as they connected their braces and morphed into their armor.

 

The Cogs backed away through a row of arches that ran alongside the apartment building. More than a dozen stood in front of the boy to block the incoming Rangers.

 

Zeored took the point, trapping a Cog’s staff between his left arm and hip while spinning to his right and slamming a right elbow across that soldier’s head. He followed with a sidekick that pushed that soldier backwards.

 

Zeogreen came in close behind Zeored and slammed a round kick against a soldier’s chest, followed by a hook punch across the head.

 

The other Rangers pushed forward with volleys of kicks and punches as well as the Cogs continued their slow retreat through the narrow arches.

 

Two Cogs placed their staffs in an ‘x’ formation to block Zeored, but he knocked their staffs away and stepped forward while slamming a right round kick against the Cog to his left. He snapped that leg immediately to his right with a hook kick across the second soldier’s head.

 

Zeored continued to lead the Rangers in. He outer blocked a soldier’s staff and slammed a ridge hand blow against that Cog’s neck before stepping forward with a reverse sidekick against another Cog’s chest.

 

“Out of my way,” he said as he activated his Star Riser sword and forced the retreating Cogs out into the wooded area behind the complex.

 

Zeored dashed forward while slicing a soldier through the chest horizontally. Another group of Cogs came swinging towards him with their staffs. Zeored parried a blow before slicing that Cog diagonally. He turned to his right to parry another strike and cut that soldier down as well.

 

A group of Cogs closed in behind Zeored, so he jumped around while smashing against them with a roundhouse kick before dashing forward with a horizontal strike by his sword.

 

Back in the archway, Zeoblue and Zeoyellow dove over a pair of staff strikes and rolled across the ground only to be met by another group of Cogs.

 

“These machines my be slow and dumb, but they’re persistent,” Zeoblue said as he rose while flipping a Cog over his shoulder.

 

“So are we,” Zeoyellow said as she pushed forward with a flurry of kick combinations.

 

In the field behind the complex, Zeogreen and Zeopink stood back to back as a group of Cogs surrounded them.

 

Zeogreen high blocked a staff before spinning forward and slamming his elbow across a soldier’s head. Zeopink swung her hands in a circular formation, blocking a staff and slamming a palm-heel blow against a Cog’s chest.

 

The Cogs with Max sprinted away through the woods and headed out along the rocky area towards the mountains as Zeored continued his pursuit.

 

He flying sidekicked a soldier to the ground and landed while turning to his left and striking a Cog down with a diagonal strike with his sword. He spun forward with a reverse sidekick that crushed a soldier’s faceplate in.

 

He moved forward as another small group of soldiers broke away to engage him. A Cog swung its staff towards the Ranger, but he parried the blow while spinning forward and slamming and elbow blow against the soldiers face.

 

He moved in towards the two Cogs holding Max. He flying sidekicked the soldier to his left in the chest and pushed off that Cog while snapping his foot around with a round-kick across the second soldier’s head while in midair.

 

Zeored landed in front of Max while holding his sword in a guard position as a group of Cogs charged forward.

 

“Stay back,” Zeored said as he parried a soldier’s staff and ran his blade through a Cog’s neck.

 

The Cogs were relentless as they pushed forward, driving the two towards a dirt slope.

 

Zeored had his left hand around Max’s arm while he used his right arm to wield his blade and keep the soldiers at bay. He low blocked a blow and slammed the end of his sword against that soldier’s faceplate. He turned to his left while dragging around Max and cutting a soldier down diagonally.

 

The Cogs resorted to tackling against Zeored as they all started tumbling down the slope to the ground below.

 

Zeored rose to his feet and slammed the end of his sword across a Cog’s head while jump kicking forward at another soldier.

 

The other Cogs started rising to their feet as Zeored twisted and turned through them in a blur of motion as his blade cut through them while buzzing through the air.

 

Zeored struck down the last soldier as he took a hold of Max and lead him to the base of a cliff that was well hidden.

 

“It’s okay,” Zeored said. “I don’t want to hurt you…”

 

“I kind of figured that out by now,” Max said sarcastically.

 

“Well aren’t you bright,” Zeored said. “The computer chip…do you have it?”

 

Max wrinkled his brow as he cradled the box protectively. “I need it…besides, I’m the one that found it.”

 

“How did you find it?” Zeored said.

 

“My friend Junior heard a rumor that one of your big robots was out there,” Max said. “We went snooping.”

 

“Well,” we need that chip back,” Zeored said. “It belongs to one of our zords.”

 

Max shook his head as he looked down at the box. “Look…Whatever that chip is…it works…”

 

“What do you mean?” Zeored said.

 

“My father,” Max said. “He was working on a project before he died. It was a few years after my mom left him. I’ve been trying to figure out what it was exactly he was working on. The programs embedded in that chip of yours were enough for me to really get close to figuring it out.”

 

The mountains started to rumble as they looked up to see the giant mace rolling towards them as explosions tore across the ground.

 

“Run,” Zeored said as he grabbed Max by the arm and started sprinting.

 

The ZeoMegazord landed on the ground in front of the mace and stopped the machine in its tracks.

 

“We’ve got your back, Tommy,” Zeoblue shouted over the comm.

 

“Thanks,” Zeored said as he grabbed hold of Max and started to run.

 

***

 

The Rangers ran down to the woods below and found Max, who was running towards them with a smile on his face.

 

“You guys were awesome!” he shouted.

 

“Thanks,” Zeored said. “About what your father was working on…”

 

Max nodded as he looked down at the damaged device in his hand.

 

Zeored continued. “We have a friend who’s rather good at understanding technology. Maybe he could take a look.”

 

“Really?” Max asked as his face lit up.

 

“Sure,” Zeored said. “It would be no problem.”

 

Max smiled as he cradled the broken device. A small emblem rested on the inner panel that resembled two three-pronged gears laying on top of one another. The word “Lightspeed” appeared beneath the symbol.

 

Max slowly opened his eyes as the dream ended. He found himself laying on the couch of a living room he didn’t recognize, staring up at an unfamiliar ceiling. He heard the moans of his four friends come from nearby as they regained consciousness as well.

 

“So…” Junior said. “Which cliché do I use first: ‘Whoa, where are we?’ Or ‘did anyone get the number of the truck that hit me?’”

 

DJ groaned as he sat up. “I had a few more colorful words and phrases in mind…”

 

The MINT robot hovered into the room. Steph opened her eyes wide when she saw it. “Guys…we have company.”

 

The robot hovered over to a television station near the front of the living room. He extended a robot arm and activated the television. An image came up that made Max’s face grow pale. “Dad…”

 

Capt. Mitchell was on the television set. He was Max’s father, a man thought dead for more than ten years.

 

“I’m glad you five are alright,” Mitchell said. “Things weren’t supposed to be like this, to say the least.”

 

Max shook his head. He was stunned. “Dad…”

 

“I’ll try to explain everything,” Mitchell said. A bookshelf in the rear of the room slid open, revealing a secret passageway.

 

DJ shook his head. “This is beyond fucked up.”

 

“Please,” Mitchell said. “Everything will be explained.” His image looked to Max, then the television blinked off.

 

“Max…” Kevin said as he stood up. “Was that really your father?”

 

Max shook his head. “It looked and sounded just like him…but how…”

 

“Only one way to find out,” Junior said as he moved towards the corridor.

 

The other teens followed him and they gathered in a small chamber. The chamber sealed shut and shot through an underground passageway at blinding speed.

 

Normally, the technology involved with keeping the teens from slamming against the back of the transportation capsule would have fascinated Max. But he could not get the image of his father out of his head.

 

“What the hell is going on…” he whispered.

 

***

 

Max and his friends stepped onto the deck of an underwater base just off the shore of Angel Grove. The docking port was connected to a room full of complex control panels with flat touch screens, and holographic projection screens.

 

Men and women in military uniforms attended various stations. Technicians dressed in jumpsuits wore the INET logo on their sleeves. Various technicians led the teens into a small briefing room within the base. They sat around a round table with a holographic projector in the center.

 

Junior anxiously tapped his fingers against the table. “So…here we are.”

 

The door slid open and Billy Cranston stepped in. He took one look at the five teens, the confused expressions on their faces, and sighed. “You weren’t meant to get involved with this.”

 

DJ scoffed. “It’s not our fault your building got attacked. And it’s not our fault that you zapped us outside with those bat things.”

 

“Batlings,” Dr. Cranston explained. “They’re called Batlings, soldiers who belong to a clan of demons known as the Saima.”

 

“Fascinating story,” Junior said, “but why did you want us to come here? And where is here?”

 

“This is Lightspeed Headquarters,” Billy explained. “It’s run through a partnership with INET and the U.S. military.”

 

“My father…” Max said. “Where is he?”

 

“He’s here,” Billy said. “Captain Mitchell actually started the Lightspeed project more than 10 years ago. We helped your father realize his project’s potential.”

 

“How?” Max asked.

 

“Those morphers you have around your wrists,” Billy said as he activated the holo projector at the center of the table. The projector started displaying images of each of the five Ranger suits. Each suit stood in a salute pose. “We formed a group called the Rescue-Task-Force Lightspeed Rangers. They were designed not only to combat attacks from meta-level threats, but to perform rescue operations in the field.”

 

Steph arced an eyebrow. “Meta level threats?”

 

Billy nodded. The holo projector started displaying images of Bandora, Gorma, the Youkai, Dorunero, the Balban, the Org, Zedd, the Machine Empire, Divatox and Astronema. “They’ve come in various forms for more than six years.”

 

Billy switched the projection to an image of the giant magma monster. The creature was currently standing still as a statue, gathering heat from the Earth before launching its next attack. “A new group of villains recently appeared on Earth. They’re called the Saima. This is one of their demon monsters from the underworld.”

 

“Attractive,” Junior said sarcastically.

 

Billy sighed impatiently. “Lightspeed has to fight this demon before he gets the strength to fight back. None of the soldiers we’ve trained have been able to sustain a morph. You five have a higher synch rate with those morphers than any soldier we’ve trained.”

 

“Meaning?” Kevin asked.

 

“Meaning we need you five to morph and face off against this demon,” Billy said. “After that, we’ll take back the morphers and you can go about your way.”

 

“Yeah, he’s a little big,” DJ said of the monster.

 

Billy switched the holographic image. The projector displayed images of a complex train system and five giant rescue vehicles. “This is the Go-Liner, delivery system for the Rescuezords. You can pilot the Rescuezords and use them against this monster, which we’ve designated as Magnavore.”

 

Junior shook his head. “I don’t even have my driver's license, and you expect me to pilot a zord?”

 

“Yes,” Billy said. “Your helmets can download piloting instructions and information about your powers. According to the synch ratios with your morphers, you should have no trouble piloting the zords.”

 

Alarms in the briefing room started to blare. The holographic projector displayed a live image from the city streets. Magnavore was on the move again.

 

“We’re out of time,” Billy said.

 

***

 

The water stirred off the shores of Angel Grove. A massive bay area broke the surface of the water. The bay area had five main chambers, each chambered number and colored coded. A lengthy rail rose from the waters, connecting the bay area to the shore of Angel Grove, and interlinking with the city’s transportation system.

 

Max and his friends stepped out onto the roof of the bay area. Max stayed as close to the entrance as he could, not wanting to step too far out. “I hate heights…”

 

They could see Magnavore in the far-off distance.

 

Max sighed. “Let’s get this done.”

 

“We need a morphing call,” Junior said.

 

DJ arced an eyebrow. “A what?”

 

“A morphing call, like the Beetle Borgs and Kamen Riders,” Junior explained.

 

“I’ve got it,” Max said as he took a step forward. He thrust his hands forward and crossed his wrists, right over left. “Lightspeed!” He brought his arms back in and flipped open his morpher. “Rescue!”

 

Energy wrapped around him as he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

The others followed Max’s lead. “Lightspeed, Rescue!”

 

Energy wrapped around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms. Part of the ceiling started to descend, serving as an elevator shaft that lowered the five Rangers into the main bay area. Five liners were lined up side-by-side. Each liner had a different color and number.

 

“Color coded and number coded?” Rescue Yellow said. “Does he think we’re too fucking stupid to figure out which  train is ours.”

 

Rescue Blue nodded. “It is a bit much.”

 

“Actually…” Rescue Red said as data scrolled across the visor. “Our cockpit is in the lead liner.”

 

“Huh,” Rescue Yellow said. “Well then I don’t see the point.”

 

The elevator platform touched down. The five Rangers reluctantly sprinted into the lead liner’s cockpit.  They each dropped into their seats, looking at the vast array of controls and displays on the consoles in front of them.

 

Capt. Mitchell spoke to the Rangers through their helmet communicators. “Rangers, insert your blaster grips onto the control nodes in front of you.”

 

Data flashed across the Rangers’ visors.

 

Rescue Red and the others pulled their blaster grips from their holsters. They slid the grips onto nodes protruding from their consoles and twisted the grips downward.

 

Each bay door swung open, giving the Rangers a view of Angel Grove’s shore and the train track that would take them there. Data continued to flash across the Rangers’ visors.

 

“Go-Liner,” Rescue Red commanded. “On track!”

 

Rescue Red reached to his side and pushed a control joystick forward. 

 

The individual liners shot forward like bullets, the force pushing the Rangers back in their seats. The liners combined and formed a single train that throttled across the ocean and onto the shore.

 

Onlookers stared in amazement as the massive train moved along tracks that curved across the city streets.

 

Rescue Red could not help but smile beneath his helmet. His stomach knotted with fear and excitement. The Go-Liner was moving faster than the city’s own bullet train.

 

The Go-Liner reached the outskirts of the demon’s attack area. Rescue Red pushed his joystick back. The Go-Liner screeched against the train rails as it came to a halt. Capt. Mitchell spoke to them as data flashed across their visor.

 

“Each Ranger to their own liner,” Mitchell said. “Mobilize the Rescuezords.”

 

Compartments on each liner flipped open, revealing the Rescuezords parked inside. Each Ranger dropped into their own zord’s seat.

 

Rescue Red connected his blaster grip to the console’s control node and twisted the grip downward. “Pyro Rescue One, mobilize.” A zord resembling a massive fire engine rolled out of the red-trimmed liner.

 

Rescue Blue twisted his grip downward. “Hydro Rescue Two, mobilize!” A zord armed with massive extinguishing cannons rolled out of the blue-trimmed liner and drove onto the streets.

 

The Blue Ranger smiled beneath his helmet. “Who wastes time with video games now?”

 

Rescue Green connected his grip and twisted it downward. “Aero Rescue Three, mobilize.” The hovercraft zord rose from the top of the green-trimmed liner.

 

Rescue Yellow dropped into his seat, muttering beneath his breath. “I‘ve never even driven a car, but whatever…”

 

The Yellow Ranger connected his blaster grip and twisted downward. “Mobilize.” His Hazer Rescue Four rolled onto the streets. The zord resembled a heavy construction vehicle.

 

Rescue Pink twisted her blaster grip downward. “Med Rescue Five, mobilize.” A zord resembling an ambulance rolled forward.

 

Rescue Red placed his hand against the side of his helmet as a visor sensor activated. The sensor outlined a skyscraper ahead. Flames ravaged the building, which was surrounded by magma.

 

His visor used a thermo scan to show two life signs inside. The sensor zoomed in towards the life signs. They were trapped in an elevator shaft.

 

The knots in Rescue Red’s stomach tightened. He tightened his grips on his controls. “Let’s get to that building. Fast.”

 

The zords moved forward. Nearby buildings collapsed and exploded, spraying debris across the streets that slammed against the zords. The ground zords pulled to a halt at the edge of a magma pool.

 

“Max,” Rescue Blue said over the comm line. “We’re not getting anywhere with that lava in front of us, unless we want to burn our new toys.”

 

“It’s magma,” Rescue Red corrected. “Kev, can you get your hover craft over there?”

 

“I can try,” Rescue Green answered.

 

“Negative,” Mitchell said. “Your zord doesn’t have enough power to do this alone. We’re sending you data on a formation that should help. Junior, DJ, and Stephanie…you have to combine your Rescuezords.”

 

 Data scrolled across the Rangers’ visors.

 

Aero Rescue hovered over Hydro Rescue and lowered two grapplers. The grapplers hooked onto the zord’s side and started to lift the machine from the ground. Meanwhile, Med Rescue and Hazer Rescue rolled side by side. The two zords tilted upward, forming a pair of legs.

 

Rescue Green maneuvered his zord over the legs and slowly lowered the Hydro Rescue downward. The Hydro Rescue locked into position with the legs, forming a lower torso.

 

Hydro Rescue’s cannons were mounted on top of the new formation, called the Rescue Walker.

 

“Excellent,” Rescue Blue said. The new formation gave him enough height to create a safe path towards the building by extinguish the magma. Data flashed across his visor to teach him how to use the weapon.

 

Rescue Blue triggered the zord’s cannons. The zord slowly stomped forward as its top-mounted cannons sprayed streams of chemicals and liquid that cooled the magma and hardened it back into rock. It only took a few more steps before the Rescue Walker cleared a path towards the burning skyscraper.

 

“Okay,” Rescue Red said as he took a deep breath. “DJ and Steph, you two come with me. We’re going inside.”

 

Rescue Yellow and Rescue Pink sprinted from the Rescue Walker and joined Rescue Red in the Pyro Rescue’s cockpit. The red zord rolled forward, passing beneath the Rescue Walker’s legs and driving towards the base of the building.

 

Smoke and fire continued to rage across the streets as the Pyro Rescue pulled to a stop.

 

“Stabilize,” Rescue Red commanded. The zord extended four mounts that fastened against the ground. “Okay…we’re going to use the ladder arms to punch our way into that building.”

 

Pyro Rescue extended its ladder arms. Each ladder arm had a fist at its end. The massive arms aimed upward at one of the top-most levels of the building. The right fist opened, and the three Rangers were standing in the palm.

 

Rescue Red had his eyes closed tight beneath his visor. He was so high up, and he hated it. He placed his hand against the side of his helmet and activated his communicator. “Ladder arm punch.”

 

The left fist slammed a punch through the building, smashing an opening. The left arm extended through the hole.

 

Rescue Red and his two teammates leapt from the palm of the zord’s hands and into the fiery, darkened corridors of the burning building. Their suits protected them from the heat and smoke.

 

“This way,” Rescue Red said as he started to move down a hall. But the ceiling collapsed in front of them, creating a fiery pile of debris that blocked their path. “We’ll have to go around…split up.”

 

The Rangers moved off on their own in opposite directions. Their visors guided them through the inside of the building’s corridors.

 

Rescue Pink moved towards a hallway blocked with a wall of fire. She took a deep breath and leapt through the flames.

 

Rescue Red moved into a what looked like it used be a lobby of some sort. Winding stairwells that ran across the walls seemed to lead several stories up. He would have to go up and around to reach the nearest entry way to the elevator shaft.

 

The Red Ranger armed a grappling rope and shot the rope upward. He hooked the rope onto his belt, which sent him sliding upward.

 

***

 

Rescue Yellow climbed up to a vent that looked into the dark elevator shaft. He quickly pried off the vent and looked inside. The elevator was several meters below him. And walls of flame and smoke were creeping up towards the elevator from below.

 

The Yellow Ranger had to consciously keep himself from panicking. He looked to the elevator cables and immediately knew what to do.

 

Rescue Yellow pushed himself into the elevator shaft and grabbed hold of the elevator cable. He used the cable like a rope to slide down until his feet touched the elevator‘s top. The Yellow Ranger tore a panel off the top of the elevator and jumped inside.

 

A young mother was crouched low in a corner along with her 5-year-old daughter. The little girl was crying.

 

Rescue Yellow hesitated for a moment, not sure exactly what to say.

 

The elevator shook as it fell another level before slamming against emergency stops. The mother and child screamed as the elevator slammed to a halt.

 

Rescue Yellow leaned down to the mother and daughter. “You’ll be okay…I’ll get you out of here in a second.”

 

Rescue Yellow looked up to the top of the elevator. Carrying the mother and daughter into the elevator shaft was probably not possible. The Yellow Ranger moved over to the elevator door and tried to pry it open, straining his muscles as much as he could. But the elevator wouldn’t budge.

 

Rescue Yellow placed his hand on the side of his helmet and activated his communicator. “Max, I’m in the elevator, but the damn door won’t open. I can’t climb out of here with the mother and her kid…”

 

On the same floor, Rescue Red and Rescue Pink regrouped outside the elevator door. Flames continued to blaze around them.

 

Rescue Red spoke to his friend through his helmet’s communicator. “Hang tight. I’ll get you out in a sec.”

 

“That’s not exactly reassuring,” Rescue Yellow said.

 

Capt. Mitchell spoke to his son over the communications frequency. “Rescue Red. Call on the Rescue Bird.”

 

Data flashed across the Red Ranger’s visor. He activated his communicator. “Rescue Bird!”

 

A mechanical bird made of various tools flew from the bay area and streaked across the city in the blink of an eye. The Rescue Bird materialized in front of Rescue Red as he grabbed the weapon.

 

The Red Ranger pulled a small drill-shaped dagger from the weapon and connected it to his blaster grip. He activated the drill and moved towards the elevator door. Rescue Red slowly slashed the weapon downward across the elevator entrance.

 

Rescue Red used the wings of the Rescue Bird to pry the door open. Rescue Yellow helped from the other side, and the door slid open.

 

Rescue Pink moved into the elevator and lifted the young girl.

 

Rescue Yellow lifted the mother and walked back onto the building floor. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

 

***

 

Rescue Red, Rescue Yellow, and Rescue Pink leapt onto the Pyro Rescue ladder arms, and not a moment too soon. Magnavore had returned and was stalking towards the building.

 

The ladder arms lowered to the ground. Rescue Red hopped off the ladder palm and looked to his teammates. “Get those two to safety and get back to your zords…”

 

Rescue Yellow and Rescue Pink ran off with the civilians as Rescue Red sprinted back towards his zord’s cockpit. The giant monster continued its slow advance, its feet shaking the ground with each step.

 

Rescue Red hopped into his zord cockpit and connected his blaster grip with the control panel.

 

Pyro Rescue’s tires roared as the zord moved in reverse. But Magnavore fired a volley of molten lava projectiles that exploded through the building. Fiery bits of debris crashed across the streets and slammed against Pyro Rescue. The zord was stuck in the debris.

 

Rescue Red twisted his controls, frantically trying to get his zord away from the advancing demon monster. But Pyro Rescue could not move.  “Come on, come on…”

 

The zord’s tires screeched while trying to pull away. But the zord was still stuck.

 

Rescue Red’s heart pounded in his chest as Magnavore filled the zord’s forward view port.

 

Clamps suddenly connected to the sides of the red zord. Rescue Green and his Aero Rescue hovered in the air above Pyro Rescue, having attached its grapplers to the sides of the red-armored zord.

 

Aero Rescue slowly pulled Pyro Rescue from the ground and hovered backward away from the giant demon.

 

“Kevin,” Rescue Red said. “I owe you one…”

 

Capt. Mitchell’s voice spoke over the Rangers’ comm frequency. “Rangers, bring your Rescue-zords together to form the Lightspeed Megazord.”

 

Data about the Megazord formation flashed across their visors.

 

Rescue Red took a deep breath. “Let’s do this…Lightspeed Megazord fusion, online!”

 

Still suspended by Aero Rescue, Pyro Rescue twisted and formed the upper body and arms of the Megazord.

 

Magnavore advanced and fired a volley of magma missiles that exploded around the zords, thrashing against their armor in the midst of the Megazord fusion.

 

Rescue Green triggered his zord’s cannons. Energy pulse blasts shot forth from the green-armored zord’s cannons and exploded against Magnavore with massive bursts of spark while Pyro Rescue lowered into position on top of the Rescue Walker.

 

Aero Rescue slid onto Pyro Rescue and completed the transformation, forming the Lightspeed Megazord.

 

Rescue Red smiled beneath his helmet.

 

Lightspeed Megazord stomped forward towards the demon. Magnavore opened fire with a volley of magma missiles that exploded around the Megazord with massive bursts of rubble and flame. The Megazord continued its advance through the explosions.

 

“Ladder arms…” Rescue Red commanded as data scrolled across his visor. “Engage!”

 

The ladder arms extended and thrust forward with a volley of punches that slammed against Magnavore.

 

“Lightspeed Megazord Saber!” Rescue Red shouted as he pushed his blaster grip forward.

 

The zord’s double-edged saber formed in Lightspeed Megazord’s right fist. The blade started to pulse with fiery energy.

 

“Lightspeed Megazord Saber…ignite!” Rescue Red shouted.

 

Megazord slowly swung its weapon in a circular pattern, creating a ring of fire. The blade energized with blue-tinted power and swung downward through the fire ring while chopping through the demon. The Megazord’s white-hot blade tore the demon’s body apart with a single stroke.

 

Magnavore fell backward, his power overloading and exploding.

 

***

 

Rescue Red sat back in the Go-liner while the train shot back towards the Aqua Base. He and the others were at a loss for words. Rescue Red especially was still in shock, but for different reasons.

 

The Red Ranger opened up a private comm line with Capt. Mitchell.

 

“Dad…we need to talk,” Rescue Red said.

 

Capt. Mitchell paused. “I’m afraid not, Max. It wouldn’t be appropriate. As a member of Lightspeed, you are not my son.”

 

To be continued…Chapter Two