Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers; they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic.
Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate timeline.
Clash of the Megazords
NASADA Base, Angel Grove
"Excellent work Professor Belle," General Wicks said as he followed the white clad scientists into the test bay.
"As you can see General," Graham Belle answered, ignoring the compliment. "The Pulse Disruptor is ready for use. By generating a low frequency energy wave, it interferes with the flow of electrical power. In short, after pushing the trigger, this machine could knock out just about every electronic device in a country the size of Australia. And, even after it's turned off the effects will remain until the damage is repaired."
"So it would cause collateral damage," General Wicks commented.
"No more than an existing EMP wave, General," Professor Belle told him. "Without the need to cause a nuclear explosion, large scale devastation would be a thing of the past. Of course delicate equipment could explode as a result of the pulse wave and that in turn could cause collateral damage. I am this device is no closer to solving that particular problem, but with further research we might find a way to disrupt electronics without permanent damage. That could take years of research."
"I see," General Wicks agreed. "And how would this device operate against something not of this world - the Machine Empire for example."
"In theory this device would render any machine requiring electronics to malfunction. Even King Mondo. Unfortunately the drain on the device means it will only fire a single burst before it needs recharging."
"That would be a drawback, which I hope you will correct as a priority," the General stated.
"Yes sir," Professor Belle answered.
He directed the General towards the control center where his daughters Joanna and Jennifer were working. At seventeen, Josie was one of the professor's best electricians, a considerable feat given her competition and her age. Both girls were students and Jo was home schooled. Her twin, Jennifer, had been attending classes at Angel Grove for the past year, but still had a lot to learn when it came to designing printed circuit boards. However, she easily outclassed her sister in computer programming, a class in which she excelled. Both girls owed their skills to their parents' dedication to their education and access to some of the leading experts in their chosen areas.
"Ladies," the General acknowledged.
The two girls mock-saluted before going back to work. For some, the idea of a seventeen-year-old being allowed anywhere near such advanced technology would seem ludicrous, but Professor Belle had raised his daughters to appreciate all the good that computers could do while instilling a moral objection to replacing humans with machines, unlike his brother who merely saw the opportunity to turn a quick profit.
"As you can see, our role in this operation is almost complete," Professor Belle said. "The electronics are completed and the programming has been design to allow remote activation. I'm afraid we cannot provide a way to get it to the target."
"This is a United States military project Professor," the General laughed, "I'm sure we could find a way to get it there. Which is why it's so disappointing for me to close this project down."
"I... I don't understand," the scientist protested.
"Professor Belle, there are some weapons that should never be unleashed upon the world. The nuclear bomb was one such weapon; mustard gas was another. If we continue to fund this project, other countries might start to believe that development is feasible. Could you imagine what a device like this would do to one of our cities? I'm sorry, but as of now this project has been terminated."
"What are you saying?" Professor Belle asked, surprised that he had not heard about this before and shocked that the military would consider such an action.
"The United States Government has decided that this device poses too great a threat to our domestic welfare to be allowed to become public knowledge. It will be moved to a secure warehouse and stored until disposal becomes an option."
So that was it then. Of course, he didn't believe the general. They weren't interested in taking the device away for security; they wanted to duplicate it as quickly as possible and improve it to make a more efficient weapon. He had no doubt that part of their time would be spent finding ways to shield from the pulse in case aggressors managed to create a similar weapon. But to men like General Wicks, the domestic good was an excuse, never a concern.
"You must admit Professor Belle that it makes sense to be cautious. It is after all in the national interest to protect innocent lives. My men will arrive shortly and this device will be moved to a more secure area."
"More secure than thirty miles underground in a bunker intended to survive a full scale nuclear assault?" Mrs Belle asked. She had been in on the early discussions and knew that Angel Grove had been deemed the safest place for all such studies. It was unlikely that had changed. "And what do the other members of the committee think about that?"
"The Committee for the Development and Employment of Tactical Weapons has no authority once a project has commenced," the general told her. "This is a military installation and as such I am in charge of this operation. And I intend to move that device." His tone changed as he gave his next orders. "The device will be collected immediately. You are ordered not to leave this room or contact anyone until the convoy is underway. This is a code red situation. Personnel will be along shortly to supervise the disposal of sensitive information and to formally debrief you. This entire operation has been marked sanitised. I trust I do not need to tell you what that means."
~Of course not,~ Professor Belle thought as he pushed a button on a small signal device he had been given. ~It means that if he wants to, the general could have us locked up without trial... or worse.~
NASADA Storage Facility, Angel Grove
The convoy of four jeeps, two transportation lorries and a small tank remained motionless as its occupants were confronted by a team of six multicoloured fighters brandishing an array of weapons. More guards were rushing from the barracks located behind the warehouse as desperate civilian employees scrambled to escape what promised to be a bloody confrontation.
A large green car pulled up, the flags fluttering in the midday breeze. A soldier stepped from the driver's seat and opened the rear door. He opened the door and saluted as his superior officer moved into view.
"Zeo Cannon!" five of the six strangers called. "Fire!"
A large weapon appeared on their shoulders and they aimed it at the ground next to the car, ignoring the guns that were now trained on them. A blast of multicoloured energy caused the ground to explode, taking the car and its driver with it. In a blur of action the costumed assailants attacked the other soldiers as the officer's protests were ignored. Of course it was overkill, but then Tommy had been allowed a free hand for this battle.
"It was a good plan," Red Zeo told the man who resembled General Wicks. "Dress up as our own military and steal the Pulse Generator before the government could sanction its use."
"Rangers, what are you talking about? You're delirious; my men are simply moving the bomb to a safer location. If King Mondo were to lay his hands on it now, it could be disastrous."
"King Mondo is destroyed," Tommy said softly as he pulled and armed his small weapon and pointed it at the General. "But you already knew that didn't you? Hold still, this won't hurt," he assured the officer as he aimed at the soldier before adding, "much".
Red Zeo fired off six low energy shots, drawing a gasp from the media who had gathered for the unveiling of the new super weapon designed and built by the Belle Organization. The man's uniform smoked as each discharge burned a little bit more of the fabric away. On the sixth shot the General's belt snapped, revealing a lack of underwear and the smoothest pair of metallic legs anyone had ever seen. In panic the officer managed to knock the rubber mask from his face, confirming what the six Rangers already suspected, he was one of Prince Gasket's machines; the Rangers had dispatched Mondo after a spectacular battle a couple of months before.
The real soldiers, who had been attracted by the noise, swiftly moved the shocked crowd away as the Rangers attacked the other Cogs, who had been exposed with their leader. Already several Cogs had been shut down, but at two to one the machines had the strength of numbers. The Rangers were not in the mood for fun and games; they beat on the mechanical terrors with all the aggression they could muster, and showed no reluctance to double or even triple team a single robot. It wasn't need that drove them to such unfair methods, they were just eager to finish the battle before anything went wrong; they were aware of the weapons kept within the base and didn't want Gasket's forces to steal any.
Things had changed since Jason had been the Red Ranger. Back then, the team had been reliant on Zordon for guidance and it had taken the arrival of the Green Ranger for them to actually think for themselves. That was probably a bit harsh, but the days of waiting for an enemy to make the first move were behind them. Now that the United Nations had made it clear that Rita, Zedd, their henchman and anyone else considering conquering Earth were unwelcome; their very appearance on Earth was an invitation to be attacked. Of course, UN forces could not attack in the first instance, since conquering the world was not considered a crime according to their mandate.
Of course attackers were still offered the chance to leave, but the Rangers were able to take some pro-active measures against their opponents.
It was, Jason reasoned, a sign that the team was facing a more serious threat than they had against Rita and Zedd. Back when he had been the leader the attacks had been almost weekly due to the time taken for Finster to build Putties and think up a new monster, not to mention that her migraines seemed to consume a lot of Rita's time. Gasket however, was a machine, just like his father. He rarely got tired and already had a near inexhaustible supply of parts. His monsters could be easily mass-produced if they showed signs of success. And with his wife Archerina to help him, not to mention Queen Machina and Prince Sprocket, Gasket was able to send attacks every couple of days. If he didn't send an attack for more than a few days, then the Rangers knew they were in real trouble, like the time Gasket had kidnapped and brainwashed Tommy.
"You know," the Gold Ranger called to his red teammate, "We need to buy Gasket a diary because he has lousy timing."
Tommy grinned under his mask, knowing full well why Jason was annoyed. The message from Zordon had come at an inconvenient time for the Gold Ranger. To be caught in class or during training was one thing, but to have to teleport from the men's showers at the Youth Center wearing only a towel had proven especially embarrassing. 'For one thing,' the Red Zeo Ranger smirked, 'Every time he tried to morph he almost dropped the towel.' The look on Kat and Tanya's faces would have been worth a fortune if that had happened, not to mention that Jason would have been the red ranger once more.
"You so didn't want to do that," they heard Yellow Zeo say from not too far to their left.
They looked over in time to see Tanya rubbing the base of her helmet where one of the Cogs had landed a powerful right hand. He imagined that she would have a nasty bruise there for a couple of days.
"Zeo II Power Punch!" she called.
Her Zeonisers drew more power from the Zeo Crystal as they usually did when calling on Zeo Zord II. The difference was that instead of diverting the excess power into the battle machine, it was focussed into her fist.
"I'll teach ya not to hit a lady," she promised the Cogs as her fist connected with the side of its metallic jaw.
The head was transformed as it flew from the shoulders into a ball of shrapnel that tore a neighbouring robot.
Adam turned from where he was easily holding off two Cogs to give his girlfriend the thumbs up, while Rocky ploughed through his own opponents with a Zeo Power Kick.
Tommy did the quick math and discovered there were at most six Cogs excluding the General, whom Kat had chosen as a guinea pig for her own frustration at being called away from dance class.
"Switch off," Red Zeo called.
His Pink friend nodded and moved alongside Jason while Tommy handled the now dented general.
"Golden Power Staff!" Gold Ranger called.
"Zeo I Power Disk!" Kat cried. "Hi-yah!"
The Zeo Power Disk sliced through each of the Cogs, separating their heads from the robotic bodies.
"Time for a Gold Rush!" Jason cried as he raced forward.
Despite what the public believed, the Gold Ranger was not a Zeo Ranger. His powers bore a similarity to those of the Zeo Rangers and the Golden Power Staff shared a similar history to the Zeo Crystal, but there was no other connection.
The Golden Power Staff contained a piece of crafted crystal shaped by the Master Carvers of Crystal. The crystal drew energy from the vast pool of magic that seeped into the universe. Unlike most magic, the energy was not affected by Iron and could even be used by Iron-based life forms such as the Machine Empire. Hence the reason Mondo had put a lot of time into capturing the weapon.
As the heads that Kat had sliced off with surgical precision fell to the ground, the raw heat of the Gold Rush erased the metal bodies. All of which left only the Cog General to be dealt with.
"I am Garrison," the robot revealed, as several panels opened to expose an array of weaponry. "Prince Gasket's finest creation."
"Yeah and Rito Revolto is a member of MENSA," Rocky snapped back.
"Why not try my twenty-one gun salute?" Garrison suggested.
Before the Rangers could decline several bursts of energy exploded from the machine's chest. The Rangers were thrown back; the military vehicles behind them were not so fortunate.
"Zordon, emergency teleport," Green Zeo yelled.
The truck containing the Pulse Generator was transported to a safer part of the military base where Alpha had set up equipment to block any further teleport attempts. Although the bomb exploding would solve the problem of it being stolen and eliminate Garrison, it would also wipe out every mechanical device in Angel Grove. That was something they could not allow.
"Man, we really need a plan," Tommy commented as they all ducked for cover. "Adam?"
The normally quiet Green Zeo Ranger also acted as the team's strategist, drawing on the things his father had taught him growing up to devise workable plans. Tommy tended to defer to Adam's judgement almost as much as he had Billy's.
"Hold still," Adam warned the others as he unclipped his Zeo Pistol and fired at the ground.
The soil beneath them gave way to form a small trench. At the same time the jeep they had been crouched behind tipped to provide more cover.
"Now teleport," he told them. The others did as they were told, leaving Adam behind. He dared to glance around the edge of the jeep and ducked back as a plasma burst almost took his head off. "Zordon, I need all the teleport systems tuned to my frequency."
The teleportation system had always been separate from the Power. When morphed they had been able to use the Power Coins or Zeo Crystal to teleport, but when demorphed the ability required a direct link to the Morphin Grid. Complex machinery in the old Command Center and now the Power Chamber allowed them more control over the function. It also allowed the Zeo Rangers to control their journeys when morphed. That was what Adam planned now.
By altering the device so it listened for the signal from his communicator he hoped the system would respond faster than the Zeo Crystal would. At least it had better respond faster or he would be in serious trouble.
"Yes Adam," Zordon's voice responded.
The Green Zeo Ranger did not bother replying; instead he was using the scanning apparatus in his helmet to pinpoint targets. He checked the grip on his Zeo Pistol and then jumped into the air, hoping that Garrison would not take the opportunity to shoot him down. As he moved higher, he squeezed off a shot from his weapon, marking the ground where it hit. He repeated the step several times as he marked different distances on the ground. Then he teleported just as Garrison locked on.
He reappeared next to the first mark he had placed on the ground and waited. The machine turned and fired, but not before Adam had moved to his next location. Each time he vanished, Adam moved further away, testing the monster's ability to fire from a distance and predict his next move. When he collected all, he needed to know for those tasks he started randomly appearing to test the speed of response. All went well until a lucky shot clipped his leg.
"Now I have you..."
The tip of Blue Zeo's Power Weapon remained embedded in Garrison's skull as the other Rangers rescued their friend. Zordon had worked out what the Green Zeo Ranger was planning, and had adapted the teleport system so they could all move short distances like Tommy had done in his days as the Green Ranger. Of course Rocky's first instinct was to stop the machine from hurting his friend.
"Hard and fast," Adam told Red Zeo. "His range is half a mile."
"You have a plan?" Tommy asked.
Under his helmet Adam smiled. "Oh yes." He started to tell them his idea.
"Hey ugly!" Tanya called as she moved into sight. "Your momma was a snow blower!"
It was a shame that trash talking was not part of the Ranger power, but they made do with what they had. The effort had the desired effect regardless of quality; Garrison turned and fired on Tanya, who teleported away.
"Hah, you wouldn't hit us if we were the size of King Mondo's butt!" Rocky called.
The machine reset its targeting device quickly and locked in on Rocky. The Blue Zeo Ranger moved before Garrison could fire, reappearing just a few feet away. He teleported again as Jason took his place.
"Watch the birdie," the Gold Ranger whispered as he lifted the Golden Power Staff. "Gold Flash!"
A ball of golden energy exploded from the end of the Power Staff and blinded Garrison long enough for Jason to escape.
Kat was next up, using a few dance techniques she learnt in ballet to confuse the robot until she was ready. Then she whipped out her Zeo Pistol and took a few shots at its head.
"Pink Zeo Fire cloud!" she called, as Garrison was engulfed in a cloud of hot gases.
Garrison fired his weapons and the gases exploded. He was consumed in a ball of flame. And when the flame cleared he saw Red Zeo move in with the final blow.
"Defender Whe -- Sphere!" Tommy called. He had forgotten that the name had changed.
The cage-like ball that Billy had designed to replace the original design dropped from Zeo Zord V. As Tommy's hands touched the metal frame, the power of the Zeo Crystal was transferred into the cage. Inside Tommy momentarily demorphed, but was quite safe, unlike those outside the sphere. As he moved his legs so the ball started to move and as he increased speed, the sphere glowed brightly.
"Please Red Ranger, let's discuss this," Garrison begged.
"Too late," Tommy answered. "See ya!"
Garrison fired his entire magnificent arsenal in a vain attempt to stop the inbound Red Ranger, but only managed to slow him down. Nevertheless it was enough to save the machine from total destruction as the Defender Sphere bounced away.
"You will have to do better than... Uh oh!" Garrison started.
"Fire!" The Rangers called as the Zeo Power Blaster held by Gold Ranger and the Zeo Cannon fired at the same time.
On the Moon, Gasket was less than pleased at the way the battle was going. Garrison had been designed as a stealth robot not a combatant. It was surprising the machine had lasted this long. Still, Gasket was not about to let an opportunity to defeat the Power Rangers slip through his fingers.
"...And away ye go!" Klank cried as he released Orbus.
"Here you go buddy," Orbus said as he triggered Garrison's growth mechanism.
"Now I will show you some real fire power!" Garrison said.
Large cannons appeared on each shoulder as the leg mass increased to provide extra support. A rocket pack on its back allowed it to leap while enlarged sensor arrays gave it an excellent aim. Most surprisingly, the full-grown version in no way resembled Garrison. This was a different machine.
"We need Super Zeo Megazord power," the Rangers called. "Now!"
The Zord was fired from the Power Chamber's launch tube without the need to join later.
"Jason, take control for a moment," Tommy said. "Alpha, send in the Zeo Zords, from the far side of the base."
"You have an idea?" Green Zeo commented.
Tommy grinned; Zord battles were definitely more fun.
The ground rumbled as Zeo Zord III and Zeo Zord IV raced towards the Rangers' position, pulled Zeo Zord II and I behind them. After inserting their Zeonisers Crystals in their respective slots, the Rangers felt the familiar power boost that signalled the conversion to Megazord mode.
"All right guys, logon!" Red Zeo ordered as he watched the power reading reach the required level. "Let's put them together."
Zeo Zords VI and III quickly released their pulling chains, which allowed the constantly pulling winch mounted on the fronts of Zeo I and II to haul them back inside. At the same time the weapons mounted on the Pink and Yellow Zords retracted inside as Zeo Zord V flew overhead. As the tops of the two Zords detached, the legs were ready to receive the rest of the Megazord. By that time Zeo Zord III and IV had launched into the air and merged to form the arms and body of the Zord. The Phoenix Zord once again swooped down from on high and the computer beeped as it pinpointed the connection and the wings started to fold out of the way. Then Tanya selected the Zeo II Battle Helmet to allow them Zeo rocket power.
"Okay guys, Kat and Adam take the Super Zeo Megazord, Tanya and Rocky will control the Zeo Megazord. Red Battlezord is mine."
"Rangers, Pyramidas is at your disposal," they heard Trey tell them.
Tommy smiled again. The final part of his plan had just fallen into place.
Garrison wasn't the most sophisticated machine they had ever fought, but he was the one with the most weapons. Unfortunately that meant that neither of the Megazords could get close, something they needed to do if Tommy's plan was to succeed.
Red Battlezord flew towards Garrison and plough through him at full speed. That was enough for the Super Zeo Megazord to grab hold of him and the Zeo Megazord to use its fists.
"We're ready Tommy," Rocky's voice said from inside the Zeo Megazord.
"All right, let's do this," Tommy said.
The Super Zeo Megazord and Zeo Megazord took off; dragging the machine with them while Jason waited inside Pyramidas.
"Hey, you can't do this," Garrison protested. "No..."
"Now what?" Kat asked. Knowledge poured into her mind the subconscious link the Rangers had established long ago.
"Zeo Ultrazord, Carrier mode!" the Rangers called.
The Carrier Zord teleported the Zords aboard, slaving their powers to its own massive generators, which it then used to blast Garrison to pieces.
Prince Gasket was irate. To see his creation, his perfect machines lose in battle was one thing, but to see them lose battle after battle to inferior organic-made machines was a slap in the face for the heir to the Machine Empire. In the past he had made allowances for such losses, associating the failures as by-products of his father's malfunctioning logic server. Since his arrival on the Machine Sky Base and later the Moon, his diagnostic programming had tried to troubleshoot the failure of both his creations and his father's robots.
This was not the way the Machine Empire operated; Gasket knew that. He was programmed with the detailed manual compiled by King Mondo himself. Under normal circumstance, the machines would find a new planet to invade and attack with sufficient force to gain control of sites around the globe. Then, once in control of materials and fuel supplies, they would move towards areas of political power and gain surrender. It was a tried and tested method that usually generated victory within the first month.
Sadly, the Machine Empire had failed to use this method when approaching Earth and it annoyed Gasket to discover the reason for the lack of protocol was due to the perceived need to remove Rita and Zedd from the lunar surface.
"Father was a fool," he stated. "Rita and Zedd cannot harm the Machine Empire. We are immune to magic!" Those valuable hours had given Zordon time to create his team of Zeo Rangers.
The Zeo Rangers were the second problem he had discovered. Normally Ranger teams were insignificant to the robotic conquerors. The magic that made them Rangers was useless against the Cold Iron construction of the Royal House of Gadgetry and its followers. Zeo was different though; the energy was indirect and therefore very effective against the machines.
But even so, Gasket's machines had been developed over thousands of years and his father's designs had been perfected before that. He had ruled out design failure since he himself had been deemed to be operating at peak efficiency even if his father was suffering from rust on the circuit board. ~Making Sprocket his heir, what was he thinking? ~The problem was that the Rangers possessed superior machines. This was something that could and should have been rectified when the Machine Empire had first attacked. Their enjoyment of a technological advantage could not be allowed to continue.
"How dare those Rangers defy me?" he toned as he gesticulated out of the view port with his staff. "I am Gasket, son of Mondo and rightful ruler of the Machine Empire. They should be kneeling before me. Klank!"
"How may I be of service, Sire?" Klank asked.
"Those impertinent humans dare to possess powerful machines as their weapons," Gasket stated. "Why have you not built similar machines for our forces?"
"Forgive me Sire," Klank answered. "I did try, but designing a machine on that scale without plans is impossible."
"I don't want excuses Klank, find me the blueprints for those Zords. By using their own machines to destroy them I will prove to father that I deserve to be his heir. Then I shall take over the Empire."
"Yes Sire," Klank said. He hurried off to begin his new task.
Late night, a few days later.
Despite the warm temperatures of midday, at night, the desert outside of Angel Grove was extremely cold. Very few humans were foolish enough to travel through the desert at night without a warm jacket. Beneath the rapidly cooling sand, something moved and it was something, which could not be considered human.
The sand above it shifted as a mechanical arm extended from beneath the surface. At a height of four feet, the protruding cylinder split to reveal three legs. The extended out and down towards the surface, form a tetrahedron with the arm as a vertical support. There was a loud crack as the legs locked into place.
A small aerial emerged from the top of the structure, aimed towards Angel Grove. It sent a small burst of data, reporting that its first objective had been secured: it had survived intact and avoided detection. Two signals were sent in return. The first was a confirmation of the original message while the second provided additional instructions.
The aerial retracted as a second motor kicked in to retrieve the arm. But with the tripod in place, the motor had the opposite effect and hauled the rest of the machine to the surface. Even as compressed air tanks were blasting the sand away from vital bearings, the tripod had been detached. It would be needed for a later for her escape.
Her name was Cyber Agent, a strange name for one of her construction, granted to her to aid in fitting in on Earth. She was a creation of the Machine Empire, the latest development in Prince Gasket's ever-increasing arsenal. While the prince lacked the materials and resources of his father, he made up for it with tactical thinking, sound strategy and innovation. He was not afraid to improve upon an existing idea in order to benefit from the results.
She looked human, more human than the average Cog could accomplish. Synthetic skin grown under Klank's supervision, allowed her to duplicate things such as tears, sweat, body-odour. Even her programming was adaptive, designed so that she could fit in with the humans. It wasn't really important to her current mission, but the results of this unofficial testing were being forwarded to Gasket for review, the mechanical monarch intended to build further models that could replace the Earth's leaders.
If interrogated by a friendly processor, she would respond that her mission was espionage. In essence she was a Cog with upgraded interaction systems and a few extra parts. She was expendable. She had been positioned in the ground during an early attack on the city of Angel Grove, taking advantage of the broken links in Zordon's satellite network.
She had remained buried, using sonar and other instruments to learn about her surroundings. She was still a significant distance from her target and would need to move soon so as not to lose the cover of darkness. She shut down as she sensed a probe passing over the nearby desert. She wondered what was going on.
The probe ended and Cyber Agent could tell that the situation was in her favour. The beam she had detected had been strictly passive - Zordon had not known she was there. It had also been a detailed surface scan of the area, suggesting that Zordon was being especially watchful in this area. That meant Zordon was hiding something. ~Good.~
She sped through the desert, using short-range teleportation in case Zordon had a secondary detection net. Soon she came to the mountains where Rita and Zedd had reported the old Command Center had been positioned. Her master had anticipated there was a good chance that the Power Chamber was hidden under the old citadel. For now though her mission did not include finding the Rangers' hidden base.
It was a longer climb than she had expected, but eventually she reached the site of the old Command Center. She had expected to find ruins, but apparently somebody had thought ahead to rebuild.
She pointed at a small space a few metres away and watched as a small unit of Cogs appeared. They had been painted black to maximise the darkness and their joints had been well oiled to reduce noise. Their task was simple: locate the entrance for the Command Center and then the wiring that controlled it. Another Cog equipped with more detailed scanning equipment was studying the walls, looking for signs of weakness while Cyber Agent kept to the shadows. If detected the Cogs would be destroyed and she would be left to finish the mission.
A beep from the lead Cog revealed that it had finished. She downloaded the data and sent the unit to scout the rest of the mountainside. Gasket's research, using Mondo's records revealed there was a secondary post somewhere in the mountains that the Rangers had used during the development of their Red Battlezord.
She studied the information, highlighting the weaknesses the Cogs had found. The Power Chamber was extremely secure. Zordon had managed to seal the new headquarters off from the citadel using heavy barricades and magical wards. There were safe guards against incursions and explosives; any attempt to tamper with the high-tech scanning system installed in the old Command Center would trigger defensive mechanisms. She doubted she would survive.
Luckily in his carefully thought out protection of the Power Ranger's current headquarters, he had made a fatal oversight. While currently used equipment could not be tampered with and it was futile to attempt a break in, the old computer core had been left unprotected. And while that core had no direct access to their new computer and could not affect their operations, she calculated the odds were favourable that she would be able to use it to initiate a data feed with the Power Chamber's backup files.
Her optical sensors danced over the various devices placed to detect intruders. Plates beneath her feet revealed she had already tripped several alarm systems. She would just need to be fast and finish before Zordon noticed.
Cyber Agent initiated contact with the computer, relieved there was no security to bypass - deactivate any security systems would trip background programs and expose her insertion - but she was slightly put out that with all the advanced technology at his disposal, Zordon had only installed a small serial modem. While she directed, her efforts into navigating the Rangers' data store automatic systems took over her body's functions to keep her alert. It was fortunate that Zordon had changed data cores when he had moved to the Power Chamber. It meant the old computer system had been there for Billy to use in his Zord building project. And now the information he had gathered belonged to her mechanical master.
[File Error: 000A-000F at Sector ...]
The screen went on to list a continuous stream of data errors caused no doubt by the bomb Rito and Goldar had left in the building. Her attempts to retrieve data concerning the Red Battlezord and Zeo Zords were blocked. She retrieved as much data from surrounding files, hoping it would be enough and withdrew from the system.
As the data feed finished, she transmitted a small program of her own into the computer's processor. It would not hurt the Power Chamber, but no doubt it would prove useful later. She sent a final disconnect command and removed herself from the core. As she did so she triggered all the protocols Zordon had installed during the building of the Command Center. Without power to report though, the alarms remained silent and the crime was undetected while the computer sent urgent messages to its successor. When Zordon and Alpha eventually discovered the break-in, it would be too late.
Now Cyber Agent just needed to escape.
"Marvellous," Gasket proclaimed as he reviewed the data his dutiful spy had retrieved for him. He had sent Cyber Agent back to Earth with orders to await further commands. In the meantime she was to fit in as well as possible. "With these schematics and superior Machine Empire technology, we can show those Power Rangers what a real arsenal is like. Klank, begin work on manufacturing these machines. I expect the first batch shortly... Father will be so pleased when I present him with the Earth and a new army. He will probably scrap that little squirt Sprocket."
"Yes, you're right dear," Archerina answered.
"Come, my love. Let us observe the construction process."
"Yes," she answered excitedly.
The data Cyber Agent had retrieved were the schematics for the Rangers' Zords and included the original Dinozords, the reformatted models that went on to become the Thunderzords, the Ninjazords and the Shogunzords along with their respective Carrier Zords. And while the file concerning the Zords used by the Zeo Rangers was corrupted, Gasket had a considerable arsenal at his disposal. While not providing all the data, the diagrams included data on the Battleborgs used by the Rangers of Aquitar. When those partial designs were combined with the designs of the Shogunzords, there was enough information for Klank and Orbus to recreate the full plans.
Once a production line was established, it would be a simple matter of cloning each Zord. Even with the typical lack of imagination shown by most machines, Klank could predict the result of an army of Saber-toothed Tigers or even Dragonzords marching through the world's capital cities.
Klank was swift to obey his ruler, or at least the member of the Royal Family most likely to have him melted down at that time. He had deployed Cogs to begin the necessary work that would bring the huge production centers online. This was a large project and for the first time since its arrival in the galaxy, the Machine Sky Base would be expanded to cope with the scale of Gasket's scheme.
The artificial atmosphere was increased to the correct levels. Despite common belief, the Machine Empire did require an atmosphere to work efficiently. Their computers functioned more efficiently when maintained at the correct temperature; Cogs could move better when there was at least minimal gravity.
With a high-pitched whine that cut through the Machine Base, the huge turbines started to turn, filling the complex with power. And as the power filtered into the dormant machinery - this part of the base had remained unused for months - the Machine Empire's manufacturing plants came to life.
At first it produced only the soldiers that would be needed to perform the next stage of production. Hours later and thousands of those Cogs were spilled out of the foundry and into space, along with the raw materials they would need to build another factory. This one was specially made for Gasket's new weapons. It would create the tools that Gasket would send to finish off the Rangers. But the Cogs would not stop at one production center, they would continue building others, each dedicated to a single Zord and would set those plants working until they had massed an army. And then the conquest of Earth would truly begin.
While the Cogs worked on the factories, Klank and Orbus were busy elsewhere. Gasket had been eager to deploy his new machines, but had failed to specify how they would be controlled. Cogs would pilot the first generation of Machine Zords, but the generations after that required control programs. Between them Klank and Orbus hoped to manufacture a brain unit to operate those programs.
Hours turned to days and the machines worked tirelessly. As the Cogs ran low on oil, new units, whose first programmed task was to recycle their predecessors into useable components, replaced them. Thus the process continued without lapses as construction slowly took shape.
"The first Zord is ready," Gasket told his silent audience. Queen Machina remained quiet, unwilling to upset her eldest son, Sprocket wisely held his audio circuits in check around his older sibling. Archerina was at her husband's side, admiring the work and genius of her husband. "I shall send it to Earth now and those Rangers will learn what it is like to face a real battle machine."
"But Sire," Klank protested. "This was just the prototype."
"I don't want excuses Klank," Gasket told him. "Begin work on the next batch of Zords immediately."
Klank garbled something in binary about wishing Mondo was back and went to obey his master's orders.
"You should listen to Klank, Gasket dear," Machina told her son.
"Please mother, the day I take advice from servants is the day I shall truly be deemed unfit to rule the Machine Empire as its rightful king."
"Ai-yi-yi, the Ninja MegaFalconzord!" Alpha exclaimed, "Is nothing sacred?"
"I am afraid not Alpha, Gasket has somehow managed to reproduce one of the Rangers' previous Megazords and has set it loose in Angel Grove."
"Oh Zordon, this cannot be good," Alpha said.
"Summon the Rangers," Zordon said solemnly. "Regardless of the threat, the Rangers must engage this foe."
"Yes Zordon, I understand." Alpha shuffled between the consoles, his circuits burning with electronically processed emotion. "Why couldn't it have been Pudgy Pig?"
One by one the Rangers appeared. Billy was the last to arrive since Alpha had refrained from calling him until the last minute. Alpha and Zordon had become increasingly concerned by Billy's behaviour since he had given up his place on the team. They had both agreed that the teenager needed to spend more time in the real world and fewer afternoons lodged under a pile of spare parts.
"All here," Jason said as he caught sight of his former teammate and a man he considered to be one of his best friends.
"Finally," Tommy muttered as he in turn nodded to Billy.
Billy's expression turned to a scowl for a moment before he regained control of his emotions and settled down to business. "What's the emergency, Zordon?"
"Rangers, a day I have long feared has finally arrived; one of your enemies has found a way to resurrect your expired Zords. Behold!" The Viewing Screen activated on cue and the Rangers were given their first glimpse of the Ninja MegaFalconzord, hovering like a dark angel over Little Japan section of Angel Grove. "I fear that this is Gasket's work. King Mondo is unlikely to allow any organic designs to dictate his strategy."
"That's the Ninja MegaFalconzord," Rocky agreed, "but what is it holding?"
"Yeah, when did that Zord gain a Power Sword?" Tommy added.
"I believe Gasket has made some refinements to the original designs," Billy told them. "The lack of a Power Sword, or hands for that matter, was always a drawback for that Zord. On the other hand the lightweight design makes it an ideal choice."
"Those changes to the design could prove a problem," Adam frowned. That was true, if Gasket had made one change, who was to say he hadn't made other alterations?
"More importantly, can we destroy it?" Tanya asked.
"In theory the Zord should be no stronger than one of Gasket's regular monsters," Billy said.
"But?" Kat asked, sensing the hesitation.
"If Gasket somehow got hold of the plans for the original Ninjazords, there's a chance he was able to replicate their shielding and strength. In which case defeating it will prove difficult."
"In that case we won't gain anything by sitting here talking about it," Tommy said.
"I agree," Zordon added. "Rangers, you must confront this new menace before Gasket sends it into battle. No doubt if he is allowed to do so he will seek to damage your reputations. By releasing the Zord over the city, Gasket has already made your task more difficult. The Zeo Zords will have a difficult time navigating through Little Japan without causing structural damage."
"We'll have to worry about any damage afterwards," Tommy sighed. He paused for a moment in thought. "Alpha, can you teleport citizens from Little Japan to another part of the city?"
"Theoretically," Billy answered before Alpha could argue. "We would need time though to configure the teleport system."
"You have two minutes," Tommy said, hardly glancing at his friend.
"How about leaving the citizens and moving the Zord?" Rocky suggested.
It was a simple plan, but the idea of moving a single large object was preferable to hundreds of small objects.
"Affirmative," Billy smiled slightly. "I should be able to force it to move to an uninhabited area outside of the city. Doing so will drain the Power Chamber's generators so if you need to be brought back here in an emergency..."
"Let's just make sure it doesn't come to that, then," Adam nodded.
"Let's go guys," Jason said, shooting Billy a sympathetic smile. He knew what it was like to be an observer.
"It's Morphin Time!" Tommy cried, keen to reestablish his command over the team.
"Okay Alpha, this is what we do," Billy explained as the Rangers vanished.
"Aw man," Tommy said as he laid eyes on their opponent for the upcoming battle.
The machine they faced was indeed a fake, a fact that was easy to see. The colours were too metallic and far too shiny; the outer shell looked weak and flimsy. The sword it held resembled the Fire Sabre of the Shogun Megazord and was already ignited, ready for the swift strike and rapid victory.
"We need the Zords," Tanya said, tapping her leader's arm and snapping him out of his daze. She had never known the Ninja Zords or the connection the Rangers had shared with them.
"Your right," Tommy agreed. "We need Zeo Megazord power, now!"
On Tommy's command, the secret hangar in which the Zeo Zords were kept opened, and the great battle machines accelerated through the tunnel exit that ran beneath the mountainside.
"Let's do it, guys!" Tommy called to the others. With a fierce battle cry, he leaped skyward, and streaked toward the Phoenix. His teammates did the same, transporting themselves to their own Zords.
"Zeo Zord I, online," Kat stated as she secured herself in place.
"Zeo Zord II, ready!" Tanya reported.
"Zeo Zord III, rarin' to go!" Rocky added.
"Zeo Zord IV, here to kick some butt!" Adam continued.
"Zeo Zord V, flyin' high!" Tommy finished, to complete the cycle.
He took a look around the cockpit to see that all systems were running smoothly, and then checked his main display. The Ninja MegaFalconzord was hovering to his right, still some distance away. There was easily enough room to make the transformation if they hurried, although even the Zeo Megazord would have trouble with that flaming blade.
Unfortunately, the Cogs controlling the Zord had decided to prevent the Rangers from gaining an even footing. It swooped down, sword swinging as it dived towards Zeo Zord III. It over shot the target, choosing instead to strike the chain binding the machine to its cargo. The chains held, but the disruption dislodged the pulling platform. Zeo Zord I swerved, pulling Zeo Zord III with it as both machines tumbled. The chain finally broke as the Zords slid in opposite directions.
"Kat!" Tommy called at almost the same time as Adam and Tanya exclaimed "Rocky!"
"Adam, keep it busy down there!" Tommy called. "We need to give them time."
"You got it!" Adam replied. He switched channels briefly to speak to Tanya. "I have to let you go, will you be all right?"
He could almost hear the amusement in Tanya's positive response. He couldn't afford the time to worry about her though. Zeo Zord III and I were still unmoving, and the occasional shower of sparks erupting from its overstressed joints.
Zeo Zord IV lowered its head as it charged towards the Ninja MegaFalconzord, turning abruptly as the winged executioner soared towards it. Adam shifted course, drawing the machine away from his friends.
While the aerial Zord followed the speeding Zeo Zord, Tommy shifted the Phoenix into a screeching power-dive, he watched as Adam's Zord, tiny from his current height, managed nonetheless to weave a complex path of avoidance.
"Adam, right turn!" Tommy ordered, pulling out of his dive and firing all weapons.
A series of explosions hit the Zord's winged back. He nudged his Zord under the stunned metallic ninja; by this time Tommy had decided that regardless of appearance, this was not the Ninja MegaFalconzord he had known during his days as a Morphin Ranger. That made destroying it all the easier. He pulled out and shifted direction, bringing his Zord's armaments in line for a second barrage that rocked the sword-wielding warrior. But before he could fully pull out, it raised its sword arm, allowing the fiery blade to tear at the edge of the Phoenix's wings. The Zord tumbled as Tommy struggled for control.
Flying Zords are extremely delicate. The structural requirements of the wings are such that any damage will affect the aerodynamics and bringing them crashing to the ground. Lucky, the power of Zeo gave the Phoenix just that little bit of extra magic to enhance the superb technology Billy had managed to create. Despite the tear, the magic was sufficient to maintain the airflow as the mechanical bird flew away.
"Cutting thrust, extending wingspan." He talked quickly, his words aiding his memory as he followed through a procedure intended to allow the Zord to repair itself. There was a sudden kick as the air pressure changed and the Zord was drawn higher into the air.
"Tommy, ditch the Phoenix and switch to Red Battlezord," Billy told him. "You're already two Zords down, and the Phoenix won't make that much difference."
"All right, autopilot set to land, teleporting now." He left the cockpit in a column of red light. "Red Battlezord, power up!"
Kat wasn't hurt, just helpless. The Zeo Zord had twisted in such a way that the internal structure had twisted. Now instead of shielding her from injury, it prevented her from moving her arms. The communications systems were damaged, not surprising since they were close to the point where the Zord had rolled.
Luckily the mental interface between Ranger and Zord was still operating and while she couldn't aid her friends, she had a clear view of what was happening. Unfortunately, while she could fire her Zord's weapons with the correct series of thoughts, she needed her hands to aim them. Unless the Ninja MegaFalconzord happened to slip into her crosshairs, she was out of the battle.
Rocky's Zord was intact and for the most part, so was Rocky. Had it not been for the lifeless controls, lack of data displays and refusal of the engine to start, he would have been fully operational.
"Must have shorted something when I crashed," he said, remembering Billy's lessons on how to get the Zords up and running in an emergency.
Securing himself firmly in his seat, he twisted sharply to the left while pushing back on the seat. There was a loud 'CLUNK' as the springs holding the seat in place were released, raising him by a few inches while shifting the seat back slightly. A mechanical lever appeared where the floor panels had been; they had shifted downwards.
"Here goes," he said.
Placing his feet on the lever, he pumped it up and down six times, listening to a series of clicks as the backup electronics were activated. The lights on the console flashed in sequence as the systems were restored. The Zord was now back in action, once he found away to shift it to the upright position.
While he was waiting for the Red Battlezord to arrive, Tommy watched the ongoing battle, not that there was much fighting with only Zeo Zord IV capable of moving. The Taurus was still running, drawing the Ninja MegaFalconzord on a seemingly random chase. In fact, it was clear that Adam knew exactly what he was doing, timing each turn so the flying Zord couldn't lock onto him. And all the while Zeo Zord II's turret was moving as Tanya watched for the right shot.
This continued until one of the Cogs noticed the second Zord moving. Deciding to pick on the immobile Zord, the winged ninja changed course, barrel-rolling towards the vulnerable turret.
Tanya however had not only seen this threat approaching, she had counted on it. "Eat this!" her voice sounded over the communicator, and then she fired all of the Zord's potent weapons, as the opposing Zord slipped into range.
"Here we go," Tommy, said as the Battlezord came spinning into view above. Tommy again leaped skyward, teleporting himself to the cockpit of the great human-shaped Zord.
"Red Battlezord, ready!" he transmitted to the others. "Break of your attacks. Adam, see if you can get Rocky and Kat upright. Tanya, are you okay?"
"I had a little scare there," Tanya managed, her voice somewhat strained. "I'm okay now though."
"Glad to hear it Tanya," Tommy replied. "INCOMING! YEE-HAH!"
With a fierce cry, he prompted the Zord to spin even more rapidly than normal. He held his course, the Zord's fists extended until they came into contact with the MegaFalconzord chest. It bounced backwards from the impact, spinning head over heels until it came to a stop.
"Tommy, I have Zeo Zord III back online and an idea," Adam said.
"Good, because I'm not gonna be able to hold him long!" When he had finished bouncing, the ninja was on him again and in his Zord's position, he lacked the leverage to keep the Fire Sabre away.
"Hang in there," Rocky told him.
"We're almost ready!" Adam replied. "Rocky, start scraping!"
The two Rangers had reattached the chains to their Zords, connecting Zeo Zord III and IV together. But now instead of drawing the two gun-Zords into action, the chains had become a powerful weapon.
"Let's go!" Rocky cried as the two Zords took off across the ground, the chain flailing between them.
"Tommy, force it a bit higher," Adam instructed.
Tommy closed his eyes, forcing all his mental abilities into making the Red Battlezord raise its arms a little higher. He succeeded as the Ninja MegaFalconzord head was raised into line with the chain.
"Accelerate!" Adam instructed.
"Full speed!" Rocky confirmed.
The Zords reached their maximum speed seconds before they raced past their opponent, the chain they carried striking its target. The two Zords continued to move, circling their target and bind it in place.
"Now Tommy!" Rocky cried as both Zeo Zords stalled and manage to shrink towards the ground.
"This is it guys," Tommy said. "Here I come!"
Tanya was getting frustrated. Her Zord was perfectly operation, she was in excellent shape, but due to the fact that Adam was not pulling her, she was immobile. Still, as she had shown, lacking mobility did not make her helpless; her Zord had proven its worth during this battle at least.
~If I could get to the Super Zeo Zord, I could cause even more damage.~
Still, that was not to be. So instead, she found herself waiting for an opportunity that might not even arise. Her guns were aimed high; she was going for the head shot.
When Adam had nudged her Zord back to a vertical yet very unstable position, Kat had been freed from the restraint of her own restraints. However, her relief had turned to frustration upon realising that her Zord's turret was still jammed at an impossible firing angle and that for all intents and purposes, her Zord was next to useless for this battle.
"Guy's this is Kat," she said. "My Zord is crippled and I'm teleporting back to the Power Chamber."
"We hear you Kat," Tommy replied. The relief in his voice was evident as she vanished.
The Red Battlezord tore into the bound Ninja Megafalconzord. Pushing the hydraulic rams to their full, Tommy directed the Zord's fists to strike repeatedly at the exposed chest, shoulders and wings. Tommy was keen to ensure the machine could not take flight again.
"Fire!" he called, causing his Zord to shift from rapid punching to strafing its target with rapid gunfire.
The Ninja Megafalconzord struggled, slipping the chain that bound it and launching into the air, crossing Tanya's line of fire as it did so. The single shot ripped open the Zord's face, exposing it as Gasket's creation; the inside of the head was filled with Cogs as well as the machinery that could only be described as alien.
"Tanya, hit it again!" Tommy ordered.
She obeyed and the machine dropped to the ground.
"Now together!" he instructed.
Red Battlezord and Zeo Zord II fired. Zeo Zord III and IV charged from opposite directions, their chain bouncing shredding metal back towards their target. Until finally the massive piece of Machine Empire engineering collapsed and exploded.
It took a few moments for Tommy to realize that he was all right. Once he did, he got his Zord back under control, and brought it to its feet. "Check in with me, guys. You all okay?"
"I'm fine," Adam groaned. "Can't say the same about the Zords though."
"Did we get him?" Rocky asked, weakly.
"You bet we did," Tanya replied, triumphantly.
"Billy, anything you can tell us from your end?" Tommy asked.
"Looks like you got it," Billy affirmed. "My scans show nothing moving. Oh and Kat got back okay."
"That's great Billy," Tommy answered. "We're on our way."
The Rangers had returned to the Power Chamber where Billy and Zordon were reviewing the battle, move by move. The former was making notes as he did so; keen to fix any obvious flaws in his creations that had not been caused by operator error.
"My initial observations of the remains on the Ninja Megafalconzord confirm it was a carefully constructed fake," Billy told them. "I'm designating it as 'the ninja' for the remainder of this discussion."
The other Rangers didn't object.
"Gasket or Mondo, whoever activated this machine was not playing," he continued. "The construction seems to have followed the schematics down to the last detail. Fortunately or unfortunately, they chose the wrong designs."
"What do you mean Billy?" Kat asked.
Billy sighed. "The design they used was not based on the Ninja Megafalconzord, it was a series of plans I drew up before we obtained the Super Zeo Zords. I was trying to recreate the Ninja Zords and incorporate some of the improvements we'd noted during our days as Ninja Rangers." He paused to look at Tommy. "Such as the lack of hands creating a serious disadvantage in battle."
"So how did the Machine Empire get your designs?" Tommy asked. He didn't say anything directly, but his eyes looked accusingly at the former Blue Ranger.
"I don't know Tommy," Billy admitted. "There was only one copy of these plans and they were stored on a computer file in the Power Chamber."
"You must be mistaken," Tommy told him. "Maybe you had a second copy and forgot about it."
"Tommy, if Billy said he only made one copy, he only made one copy," Jason said, interjecting before the two friends came to blows.
"Sorry Billy," Tommy said after a little prompting.
Billy smiled in return and the incident was ignored.
"Tommy does raise an interesting query," Billy said. "If there was only one set of plans, how did Gasket or Mondo get them?"
"I am certain it is Gasket," Zordon boomed. "I have not detected any evidence of Mondo's return."
"Let's hope it stays that way," Jason said. The others agreed.
"Agreed," Zordon said. "Alpha, begin a complete security scan of the Power Chamber's computer system."
"Ai-yi-yi, yes Zordon," Alpha said as he went to work.
"Billy, were there only plans for one set of Zords in that file?" Adam asked.
The others exchanged nervous looks as the implications became clear. If Gasket had plans for more than one set of Zords, could construct more than one set of Zords, then they were in serious trouble.
"Houston, we have a problem," he murmured. Out loud he asked: "What's the status of the Zords?"
"Phoenix should be operational again within the hour, Zeo Zords II, III and IV just need to recharge and a few minor repairs; Zeo Zord I suffered the worst of that attack. The turret is mangled and will require replacement, most of the aiming mechanisms need realigning, and its towing platform was crushed when it tipped over. However, if I can devise a way of moving the Zord into position, it should still be operational for Megazord formation."
"Hey, why don't you manually form the Megazord in the Power Chamber and fire it through the Launch Cannon?" Tommy asked.
"That would prevent you from using the Zords individually," Billy pointed out.
"We can still use the Super Zeo Zords," Tommy countered.
"And the Red Battlezord," Adam added.
"And don't forget the Warrior Wheel," Tanya said.
"We need to know everything we can about the ninja," Tommy said. "We need to know where to hit it if Gasket decides to repeat this plan."
"Fortunately Gasket and Mondo rarely utilise the same plan twice," Billy said. "Although there are always exceptions."
"Will there be more of them?" Tanya asked. "I mean, if they downloaded plans for more than one set of Zords."
"Undoubtedly," Zordon answered. "I believe the ninja was incomplete or as Billy stated, a prototype. If Gasket has the schematics for real Zord technology, we could be seeing many more such attacks."
"Yeah and next time they might pick something really dangerous," Tommy said.
"At least this explains what Gasket's been up to lately," Adam frowned.
"Zordon, how would Gasket build one of those?" Kat asked, causing the others to look at her. "I mean Zords are bigger than your average robot."
"You are correct Katherine," Zordon said. "Alpha, when the security scan is complete, initiate a new search pattern centring on the Machine Sky Base. We need to know if there have been any additions."
"Ay-yi-yi," the diminutive robot fretted, wandering from console to console. "That will take time, Zordon."
"In the meantime Rangers, I suggest you try and rest," Zordon said, ignoring the little robot's comment. "I will contact Trey and seek permission to use Pyramidas if necessary."
"Right, let's go guys," Tommy said. He disappeared, followed closely by Kat and Rocky. Adam and Tanya smiled at each other and the two teleported away.
"Are you coming Billy?" Jason asked.
"Negative," Billy answered. "I need to assist Alpha with his security scan."
"No Billy," Zordon boomed. "You are as much a part of the team as any other Ranger and my instructions apply to you as well. Now, go and relax before I have Alpha eject you from the Power Chamber."
"Yes, Zordon," Billy answered, sounding resigned as he and a very smug looking Jason teleported away.
"How can those Rangers continue to triumph against their own machines?" Gasket asked, clearly enraged that his machines were somehow inferior.
"It wasn't the Zords that were superior, it was the pilots," Orbus blurted out.
"WHAT?" Gasket bellowed with the machine equivalent of a snarl. "How dare you compare those humans to my Cogs?"
"But Gasket dear, you must admit those Rangers have the advantage of experience," Machina pointed out.
"Yes mother, perhaps you are right," Gasket, conceded. "My Zords need the same experience as those Rangers possess."
"How will you manage to do that?" Sprocket demanded. "It's not like the Rangers will just share their experience."
"For your information, squirt," Gasket growled, "I have no intention of asking the Rangers. I intend to take what I need and perhaps gain a new ally in the process. The Zeo Rangers have humiliated the Royal House of Gadgetry for too long. Since we cannot defeat them, we will assimilate them. And we'll start with that leader of theirs."
"A great plan my love," Archerina cooed.
"Of course it is," Gasket answered. "By this time tomorrow not only will the Rangers be defeated, but it will be their own leader who vanquished them."
Another failed scheme, well several failed schemes if you wanted to be accurate. Gasket's plot to kidnap Tommy and transform him into a weapon that the prince could use against the Zeo Rangers had almost succeeded. Sadly, primitive human emotion had overcome the advanced neural processing of Gasket's machine. Tommy had escaped and had then managed to unravel two more plots that Gasket had set in motion.
But it didn't matter. While using Tommy as a weapon had been an enjoyable failure, at least one of Gasket's plans had come to fruition. Between the memories Gasket had taken from the Red Zeo Ranger's mind, and the complete analysis Klank had made of Zeo Ranger V's helmet with its built in data recorder, the Machine Empire now possessed the combat experience of Tommy Oliver. Furthermore, Klank had managed to draw information from the other Zeo Rangers' helmets while he had been interrogating Tommy's headwear.
He now possessed the experience his machines had lacked in the past and would program them accordingly. In all the confusion surrounding Tommy's disappearance, the Rangers had seemingly forgotten about the Machine Empire's Zords. Gasket however, had not forgotten and was getting closer to unleashing his creations upon the Earth.
The Cogs had followed the downloaded plans without question, reproducing the machines in every detail, including their control systems. Unlike the first machine he had sent down, these had been tested continuously for signs of weakness or failure. Every fault had been repaired along the way and in some cases, changes had been made. The Battleborgs had been replicated through guesswork and careful testing at each stage of development. While outwardly resembling the originals, they had been forcibly adapted since the plans had completely overlooked the issue of Cogs lacking telepathic abilities. Given that Gasket was not relying on Cogs this time that hardly seemed to matter. Although it did raise questions about why the control systems were kept in place.
It took a mechanical eternity before the first Zord rolled off the production line. The Red Tyrannosaurus towered over the conveyor belt and was soon joined by the bulky form of Titanus. When the Dragonzord design had been deemed a failure and had been abandoned, Gasket had ordered Klank to find an alternate method of creating the Ultrazord. Klank had ordered a second Titanus, this one incorporating the Dragonzord as part of its design. It was not a perfect likeness, more a bodged together collection of parts that performed the desired function. Tor had been more difficult to replace since its original design had not been in the database, so the Thunderzords were left without an Ultrazord mode.
Soon they were lined up on the lunar surface. Gasket had decided they should attack in their gestalt forms, a move that had annoyed Klank since building the Megazords was easier than recreating five Zords that could unite. A computer program, something that irritated the royal retainer's circuits, had replaced the Cogs he had originally planned to operate the machines. Gasket had taken the greatest war machines Klank had ever made and turned them into mere monsters. Not that Klank cared; he wasn't programmed to care only to succeed.
"Those thermo cells are inefficient compared to Cog Oil," Gasket noted as he inspected the finished machines.
"Aye young prince," Klank agreed, "but they weigh less and allow these beasties to move faster."
"An acceptable compromise this time," Gasket nodded. "My father wouldn't understand though. He'd say something along the lines of: 'A warrior does not need speed, just a good strong body'. Ensure that all future models are given 'real fuel'."
"Are they ready yet?" Sprocket asked as he waddled over to his brother.
"Of course they are you pint sized shrimp," Gasket replied. "Now be quiet and allow me to work. All I need to do is infuse them with energy."
So saying, he pointed his sword at the inactive machines and unleashed a bolt of power. The Zords' eyes flashed as they grouped together and transformed into their gestalt modes. The Dino Megazord, Mega Tigerzord, Red Dragon Thunderzord, Shogun Megazord, Ninja MegaFalconzord, the Battleborgs, and of course two versions of Titanus, stood ready.
"Go to Earth my legion of Zords," Gasket ordered. "And do not return until you are victorious."
The machines came to life, nodding obediently before leaving the surface of Gasket's base.