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 fic represents the final appearance of is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate timeline. This fic takes place after Rangers of Two Worlds.
Restoration of Birthright
The weeks passed in relative peace and protecting the Earth seemed to take a backseat to having fun. The various villains attacking the planet had backed off for some unknown reason and despite unusual energy reading emanating from Saturn, all was quiet of the earthen front.
The night's sky was calm as Adam leaned back on the bonnet of his car. The still warm engine allowed him to relax. Sometimes as a Ranger he was so busy defending his world that he forgot how beautiful the Universe was. Now he took the opportunity to remind himself about the glory of creation. Little did he know his perfect sky was about to be disrupted.
"So this is my father's latest target," Prince Grommet said as his lone ship moved into the Sol system.
"One can assume so your highness," Garrock, Grommet's assistant, bodyguard and personal pilot replied. "His majesty mentioned his interest in the Third Planet in several updates."
Of course it had been Klank and not Mondo who had forwarded the updates. Writing a report was too low a task for Mondo to spare processing time for. In the same way Grommet rarely read the reports, considering them the work of a servant. Most of the time Klank inserted what he felt should be mentioned and Garrock relayed the parts he felt important to Grommet. Fortunately nothing important had ever been missed and Klank and Garrock had been able to continue playing their own little game of politics behind the scenes.
Grommet was the son of King Mondo and an unknown robot. He was the result of a data transfer that took place behind Machina's back. Fortunately she had trusted Mondo's motives and saved the Royal House of Gadgetry the reputation that so many organic races held. She was a machine, cold and calculating. Jealousy was beyond her capabilities she liked to believe.
However the queen did have a sense of self-preservation and knew her continued existence relied on the succession of her sons. Therefore she had seen to it that although Grommet was technically the second son, Sprocket was the heir. Grommet for his part had been given a succession of administration assignments to protect his father's domain while Sprocket joined in the conquest and cemented his position.
Grommet had not complained about his task because it meant while his father was out conquering worlds, he was able to wield the power of a king. The Machine Empire was large and contained a mixture or organic and inorganic worlds. Grommet's task was to ensure that order was maintained and quotas were met; he truly enjoyed dispensing justice.
His most recent task had been to supervise the repairs following Mondo's defeat at the hands of some fortunate organics. Exactly how such a thing had occurred had never been discussed although Grommet had heard rumours of Gasket appearing not too long afterward. During that repair session he had taken the opportunity to show his father the efficient way in which the empire was being run; King Mondo was proud that his middle son showed the potential to one day be a great ruler or at least his father's secondary processor had revealed.
But just recently the communications from Queen Machina and Prince Sprocket had ceased and a subroutine had been activated deep in Grommet's electronic mind. He was compelled to seek out the ruling figure of the Machine Empire and with his father still undergoing repair that meant his heir. Then he would determine the heir's condition and if necessary assume command of the Machine Empire. And so after leaving his other adviser, Deviot in charge of the Empire, Grommet had left in search of his so-called superior.
Garrock turned to process a report from one of the ship's robot pilots. There was a series of loud beeps and moans as the machine relayed its message. Such primitive units were rarely given voice synthesizers.
"Your highness," Garrock said in his polished English accent. "It would seem the royal family is in orbit around the Moon of the planet labelled Earth. Our advanced reports also suggest that Prince Gasket is somewhere in system."
"Send a drone to interrogate the base's memory circuits," Grommet said. "I would not wish to interfere if this is one of my brother's strategies."
"At once your highness."
There was a pause while the drone was released and approached the base. The pilot reported the information as it was sent back and Garrock interpreted it for his prince.
"Operations ceased six Earth weeks ago following some kind of attack. They have recently resumed, but it's unclear whether the Queen and Prince Sprocket have been revived; it could have just been Gasket."
"They were attacked?" Grommet asked in disbelief. Who would have the gall to attack the great House of Gadgetry?
Garrock reported. "There were Rangers on the planet. Gasket was in charge at the time."
It took Grommet half a second to respond, which for a machine is close to eternity. Machine forces had encountered power Rangers before. Despite only being organic these Rangers were able to considerably slow the conquest of a planet. They inspired armies to fight where logic dictated surrender and even tried frontal assaults although their powers proved ineffective against machine technology.
When King Mondo had returned in pieces, Grommet had made the same inquiries. Could the Rangers have found a weakness to exploit? That was also unlikely. King Mondo had suffered defeats before, but never so severe that he had stopped processing. His memory circuits had shown footage of a machine armed with a large sword slicing him in half, could the Rangers have really built something that powerful?
"How did mere Rangers overcome my father and then disable his family even with machines on their side?" Grommet asked.
"That information is not available," Garrock told him. "The last recorded action was an attempt to steal a weapon using Stealth Cogs."
Stealth Cogs were an improvement on the standard model and were the result of advanced machine technology and research. A catalogue had been compiled of the races encountered by Gasket and of all races within the control of the Machine Empire. Some records merely held data about their size while more complex research detailed appearances, structure and some cultural references. Such data was used by construction droids to build disguises for the Cogs. Stealth Cogs were then programmed to infiltrate worlds and find areas of strategic importance to the Machine Empire. Such information meant valuable resources were not destroyed in the attacks.
To use Stealth Cogs against an established enemy was unusual. Grommet doubted his brother intended to undermine the existing structures. So sabotage was a likely motive. Garrock had mentioned the theft of a weapon, but it seemed inconceivable that the might Gasket would lower himself to using organic weapons, unless the weapon posed a threat. ~That would explain what happened.~
"What is the condition of my father's base?" Grommet asked. ~What kind of weapon could cause such damage?~
"Queen Machina and Prince Sprocket are intact, Your Highness. Their servants and soldiers are also undamaged, and the base has suffered extensive external damage to a recent addition. There is evidence of widespread electrical failure caused by an electromagnetic discharge. A pulse device, your highness."
Yes, that was it. The Rangers had somehow created a pulse device and used it against his family. All the systems had closed down preventing repair and obviously Gasket had been reluctant to offer assistance. Or had Gasket regained operational status and retreated to a new location?
"Send a repair crew to restore my father's wife and son," Grommet ordered. With Machina restored the base would soon be back online.
"Yes your highness," Garrock said.
"Initial reports indicate a repair time of nine Cylerian rotations, Your Highness," Garrock reported.
Nine Cylerian rotations. That was a long time for a machine and would inevitably lead to setbacks in his father's plans, when his father emerged from the production line. Unless of course Grommet decided to step in.
"Have you found Gasket?"
"Negative," Garrock said. "I regret our efforts have been less than successful."
"Maintain the surveillance and prepare our troops to annex the planet on behalf of the Machine Empire."
."With all due respect your highness, we hardly have the resources to conquer a planet."
For a moment Grommet felt the urge to punish Garrock for contradicting him, but only for a moment. Garrock's processor was designed to analyse the raw data Grommet barely looked at while Grommet used information that was relevant. Obviously on some occasions it was advisable to listen to Garrock.
"Perhaps a smaller attack would be advisable," Garrock said.
Grommet considered this. If the Rangers on this planet had given his father a hard time then a small attack would be more likely to survive. If he were to secure fuel and materials then Mondo would be able to take over the invasion.
"101010101110011101011011111100110100101" one of the bridge droids transmitted.
"There is an incoming transmission, from Prince Gasket."
"Show me," Grommet ordered. The screen buzzed into life. "Gasket," Grommet acknowledged.
"Grommet, why are you here?" Gasket asked. "You should be administrating some ghastly sector of the empire."
"I have come to find out why the Empire has ceased operations while Father is restored. It was not surprising to find you were involved."
Gasket was not pleased with this turn of events. He had had a chance following his father's shutdown to take control of the empire. But with Grommet in orbit that plan was doomed to failure.
"I order you to leave here at once," Gasket said. He hoped his position as first built son marked him as the ranking member.
"Father stripped you of your place as heir," Grommet pointed out. "And with Machina incapacitated, I appoint myself the logical ruler of the Machine Empire. Stay out of the way."
"You will regret this little brother," Gasket said. "Earth caused Father to malfunction and become erratic. Beware the same fate doesn't befall you."
Grommet had heard enough and gestured for the transmission to be cut. Still his brother's words bothered him and he decided to press ahead quickly, just in case.
"Just how valuable is this planet?" he asked.
"Most of the surface and a high percentage of the atmosphere consists of Hydrogen and Oxygen compounds in liquid, solid and gaseous forms. There is also a high percentage of hydrocarbons beneath the surface. The planet's core is molten providing an opportunity for geothermal energy."
"Father stumbled onto a large scale refuelling station," Grommet mused. "A resource that vast could maintain our forces for eons."
"There is more your highness," Garrock said. "The planet has a strong magnetic field caused by the high quantity of Iron. Some stronger metals are also available."
Iron, the base material used in the construction of the Machine Empire's war machine. Combined with the fuel it would make Mondo unstoppable when he returned.
Something triggered off a small search routine as Grommet tried to calculate the implications of this news. How could there be Rangers on this planet with so much Iron? And how did such a group stand up to, no destroy, King Mondo?
"Prepare an assault force," he told Garrock. "I shall lead them myself of course."
Unlike Gasket and Sprocket, Grommet had been programmed to always follow best. ~You follow best by leading,~ he thought. Grommet's body had been designed to use that strategy. Although bulkier than Gasket and was lighter than Mondo. His body was humanoid in shape, much like a knight except instead of a helmet; he had a single red eye. He had been painted a regal shade of purple with gold trimmings and carried a large harpoon gun on his right arm.
"At once my prince," Garrock responded and left.
Zord Holding Bay, the Power Chamber
Hanging upside down in a tight access port was not Jo Belle's idea of a good time, but it was necessary if they were every going to restore the Zeo Megazord.
Most of its systems were fine, but some of the smaller, delicate and vital circuits had been permanently damaged during a recent fight, so once again Jo and Jennifer Belle had been called in to aid the Rangers.
~That's the trouble with these machines;~ she thought as she stretched to pull a burnt fuse from its socket, ~all the vital stuff is shielded from damage in one of the most inaccessible parts of the machine. Which is fine until it breaks down.~
It was true that the work could have gone a lot faster if the Zords were separated, but unfortunately the damaged areas were those that dealt with merging and disconnection. Any attempt to force the Zords to separate would no doubt destroy its ability to combine forever. So with no real alternative she struggled to reach the parts and fight the growing nausea from being in such an abnormal position.
"Three-b," she said. She placed the terminal of a multimeter against the electrical contact. "Hot."
Outside her sister Jennifer was carefully noting her sister's progress and using the information to flick through thousands of screens of schematics, in search of a solution to the problem they couldn't solve. Of course Jennifer was not in the best condition to help her sister at that point because her mind was on other things, mostly Rocky De Santos her latest obsession. They weren't dating, but he had been keeping her from concentrating, much to her sister's annoyance.
"Check," Jennifer called automatically.
"Four-b," Jo's voice echoed inside the metallic conduit. "Hot."
"Check," was the bland reply.
Jo's eyes narrowed as she started to suspect her sister wasn't doing her job. She grinned as an idea burned its way into her mind.
"Rocky DeSantos," she called innocently. "Cold!"
That had gotten her attention.
"Sorry sis," Jo chuckled. "Just checking."
Jennifer scowled and then realized that scowling was little use when the person you were annoyed at couldn't see your face. Besides, Jo had a point, but then what did her sister know about romance? The only male Jo had shown interest in was Alpha and even Jennifer knew there was no way you could love a machine. Still the two had become awfully close... ~Stop it!~ She ordered. ~You are not Jo. You do not have to resort to teasing.~
"Whatever," Jennifer said cheerfully. She would get back at Jo later, but for now she was content to think about Rocky some more.
The Power Chamber took up most of the Rangers' headquarters; the repair, maintenance and launch cannon consumed most of the space at the alternate site selected as the Zord Holding Bay. Still despite the cramped condition Alpha had managed to provide private rooms for each Ranger, a private workshop for Billy, which was now occupied by Trey of Wisdom, and a shower area. With the amount of activity required to fight a monster the showers were in use after most battles. The most recent addition had been a small training room, a place where the Rangers could hone their skills using more extreme methods than a punch bag at Ernie's Juice Bar.
"How long has he been in there?" Rocky asked as he joined the silent observer behind the glass screen. From inside the room it was impossible to tell someone was watching due to the mirrored glass, but for safety reasons those outside could see in.
"Almost a day," Travis, formerly Trey of Heart replied.
At one point the three Treys had been difficult to tell apart, but since the incident that had robbed them of their unity for all time the differences in their appearances and mannerisms had become far more noticeable. For one thing Travis seemed more comfortable with his fellow Rangers. He had accepted Jason's offer and had borrowed some clothes so he could join them at the Juice Bar.
Physically Travis also differed from Trent and Trey. He had lost weight in the space of a few weeks as he explored his new world with childlike wonder. His posture was relaxed and unburdened by the stress Trent exhibited or the uneasiness of Trey. Most evident was the gash on his head, still healing from an accident involving furniture from Pyramidas.
"We need to talk to him," Rocky said.
"I've tried," Travis replied. "Trent tried; even Alpha has tried. Trey doesn't want to relax, I think he's still blaming himself for not protecting Jason."
Rocky nodded, but his face was determined. Trey blamed himself. That was obvious, but it didn't help matters. They needed him healthy, not a physical wreck.
"I'm going in," he said at last.
Travis nodded, hoping that Rocky could talk some sense into Trey or at least avoid getting hurt. It seemed odd that when united Trey of Triforia had been the voice of reason among the Zeo Rangers. Now it seemed as if they were imposing on their allies; being a burden was the last thing Travis wanted.
"Ki-yah!" Trey yelled as he drove his fist into the dummy he had set up.
The punching dummy was shaped like a man - that is, if you fed a man until he was so fat half his features disappeared beneath the rolls of flesh and then mounted him on a flexible pole. Not that Trey would want to be treated that way. Nor would he want to be the recipient of some of the blows he was inflicting.
With Pyramidas needed as a Carrier Zord it was not safe for the former Gold Ranger to remain there. Instead he had been offered a chamber inside the Rangers' head quarter, as had Heart and Wisdom.
He watched as the memory material of the dummy returned to its normal state. This was a special dummy designed to withstand the constant abuse needed when Rangers trained. It reacted in the same way that flesh and blood would respond, complete with the sometimes sickening sounds associated with such attacks.
He started off with a few simple punches just to get his blood flowing. He stopped for a moment while the putty like material in the head slowly removed the impression of his fists. He switched to a knife edge blow and stepped in closer for a forearm blow; he followed both moves with a sharp elbow smash. Each time he heard the same satisfying crack, which meant that if he was facing this man in combat, he would already have won.
He danced back, bobbing and weaving; threw a left feint followed closely by a right hook that whipped the head back to an unnatural angle. He stepped in close and planted a kick just below the jaw to be certain. It was a shame that all his problems could not be solved so easily.
Trey wasn't the most proficient Triforian in hand-to-hand combat without his powers, but he was easily in the top three. His sister had always been his equal and he suspected she had held herself back so she didn't embarrass the future king. His instructor Te'ala was also a skilful warrior and could through him around without an effort.
Too bad his skills couldn't help him solve his problems. He swung, kicked, punched and generally beat the dummy to a pulp and it simply reformed. He drove his foot so deep into the dummy's head that if it had been a man it would have been grounded. As it was the pole restrained and then bounced back.
That was how Trey's life seemed to be at that moment. He tried to help, and put everything he could into aiding the Rangers of Earth, but their enemies kept coming back and he was rewarded with the loss of his powers. He threw himself at the problem harder and he lost Heart and Wisdom. It wasn't fair.
His lack of powers had done little to discourage Trey from helping his friends. He had taken the time to retrieve his Triforian Battle Armour; a suit normally reserved for ceremonial duties, and modified it for everyday combat use. The suit was mostly black to fit his status as former Gold Ranger and covered all but his arms and head; a device built into the belt buckle, shielded his identity. His boots, collar and shoulder pads were gold; red plating ran down the side of each leg to a house holster, around the front of the knee and upper thigh, and in a diagonal cross running from each shoulder front and back. On each black glove he wore a wrist activated projectile launcher and had a weapon fitted in a sheath on each boot. He was ready for action; it was a shame that Wisdom and Heart were not equally prepared.
Since their forced separation the three Treys had rapidly grown apart as their own personalities grew more assertive. Courage had always been the natural leader of the three and had been forced to accept that Heart and Wisdom no longer deferred the decision making to him. At the same time they had refused to train, one citing the need to find a way to reverse their condition, the other deciding that fighting was not his calling. Their apparent cowardice had convinced Courage that he had to prove that Trey of Triforia was not a coward.
"What did that dummy ever do to you?" Rocky asked from the doorway. He broke into an open grin. "Or are you Trey of madness?"
Trey stared at his teammate blankly for a moment as he tried to grasp his friend's humour. His friend had obviously heard the workout and stopped by; from the way water ran down his body and formed a puddle on the floor and the badly wrapped towel, Trey assumed he had been unusually noisy that Rocky had heard him in the shower.
"I just need to keep at fighting peak," Courage answered as his foot forced the dummy's head back at an unnatural angle. He noticed the patch of red flesh, showing an injury and asked, "Rough battle?"
Rocky nodded. "Just some Tengas who caught us off guard. Once we morphed, they retreated, but not before they got a few blows in."
Tengas although weaker than the Cogs the Zeo Rangers fought were still capable of causing problems. Their claws could if lucky find their way through the Ranger's uniforms and cause injury. As a rule the Ranger Healing took care of such problems before the battle was over. The battle had obviously ended prematurely.
"I should have been there to help," Trey said after a moment's thought.
"You're starting to sound like Tommy," Rocky pointed out. "There was nothing you could do without your powers."
"I could have helped," Trey protested. "If Heart and Wisdom would listen to me, we could have helped."
Rocky sighed. That was the problem. Courage, Heart and Wisdom were suddenly separate, they lacked the shared mind, but the need for agreement was still there, at least it was for Courage. His failed attempt to help Jason and the injuries he received for that failure had not helped matters.
"Do you really think Travis and Trent stopped caring?" Rocky asked. "Travis has spent the last two hours watching you in case you hurt yourself. Trent has locked himself inside Billy's workshop until he finds a solution; Adam is trying to talk some sense into him. We need you guys to be ready in case we find a way to reunite you."
As he talked Rocky wondered why he had been asked to do this. Tommy was the leader and Jason was the elder member of the team. But they were busy trying to keep Trey stable. He was becoming a cause for concern. Normally Kat and Tanya would deal with that sort of thing, but they were occupied with other tasks and had specified that unless there was a monster attack they could not be disturbed.
"I can take the Gold Ranger powers," Trey stated. "I'm Triforian, so my body won't reject them."
"We don't know that," Rocky told him. "You're not the man you were." He thought for a moment and then remembered something that had worked with Tommy. "You need a vacation."
Hammond Generating Plant, Alaska, USA
Press organizations from around the world had braved the cold to attend the opening of the newest power plant on the planet. In fact it had been operational for months, but the news had been kept secret in case of failure. Even now the government objected to its disclosure given the importance of the experiment for their space program.
A large pipeline had been laid into the planet, allowing heat to surface. The heat was used to melt the ice and produce steam, which in turn operated a vast cooling system to refreeze the moisture. Of course in effect that meant they were operating an overworked freezer next to an electric cooker. But the energy generated by the steam was greater than the energy needed to freeze the water and the excess was for the first time being used to provide domestic supplies. All this meant a contained supply of energy without global warming - the dome also recycled Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen.
Of course the plant represented a massive loss on paper, but as Richard Brandon, one of its primary investors had pointed out, the eventual gains were worth the initial shortfall. If successful there were plans in action to use a similar plant to terraform planets, most notably Mars and one of Jupiter's Moons. Both lifeless rocks had shown evidence of frozen water and in the moon's case, an unfrozen body of salt water beneath the ice. Such a plant would be unmanned and self-powered, eventually creating an environment where scientists could study the planet in detail and perhaps introduce basic plant and bacterial life.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," a man said from the heated podium. "I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the official unveiling of this facility. With this technology we believe we have found a clean, renewable and pollution free form of energy. We will hold a question and answer session at the end of this conference, but for now I would like to introduce the architect of this endeavour, Jonathan Hammond."
The white bearded, spectacle wearing man made his way to the podium, his hand firmly holding onto his cane, the amber tip reminding him to check the progress on his other project at a convenient time.
"Thank you all for coming," he said. "As you know, my company has undertaken to create a number of new environments for people to enjoy. But with so much of our world being destroyed in the name of progress, I decided it was time to give something back. This facility not only powers itself, but from today will also facilitate the lighting and heating for the support village."
There was a round of applause and he waited for it to subside. He wouldn't mention that some of those polluters had also invested heavily in his project. There were some things best not revealed.
"I would like to thank my excellent team of scientists, led by Clifford Fairweather and Dean Stewart, without whom this project would never have moved beyond the drawing board."
That was true. Clifford was a remarkable engineer who seemed to specialize in water based projects. Dean had worked for Mr Hammond most of his life and had overseen the building work at the other project. It was a shame that Dean was not the same man Jonathan had once known. Following the loss of his wife in a tragic car accident Dean had lost all his social skills. He was good at what he did, but Jonathan wished he would relax a bit.
"Now without further ado, I proclaim this facility open."
Although Hammond pulled the large lever mark activate, it was purely symbolic. Behind the scenes a dozen or so scientists and technicians pushed buttons, checked gauges and yelled instructions as the podium area was lit with the energy.
The room burst into a loud round of applause and Hammond took a bow before answering the inevitable questions.
"Remind me why I agreed to this," Trey grumbled as Rocky finished setting up the snow mobile.
"You needed to get out and have some fun," Rocky replied. His face grew serious. "Look, my father died when I was six. My older brother took care of the practical stuff, but I still had to take some responsibilities. I have three brothers and three sisters, five of whom are younger. My mother needs me to help her with them; I have school, Karate class and when needed I save the world. The point is I learnt a long time ago that sometimes you need to just have fun."
Trey looked at him blankly, not sure what he should say. In the end he realized the Blue Zeo Ranger was not going to take no for an answer. Besides, if he was to become Gold Ranger he needed to know more about the planet. This seemed a good place to start.
Rocky climbed on his blue snow mobile and pulled his goggles over his eyes; Alpha had allowed him to synthesize the warm clothing in return for getting Trey out of the Power Chamber for a while. The little robot had even found them the vehicles from somewhere. With a sigh Trey clambered onto his own black machine, which clashed with his white jacket.
Rocky started his machine and sped off with Trey in hot pursuit. After piloting Zords it seemed as if the two could drive just about anything. And as they made their way across the snow, Trey was forced to admit, at least to himself, that this was fun. Ahead of him Rocky grinned and gunned the engine to get yet more speed from his machine. He took off across the snow, laughing as he did so.
That was when the ground exploded.
The energy station rocked as bolt after bolt of laser fire ripped the surrounding ice field to shreds. Grommet's gunners were careful not to hit the vital platform, but anything else was considered fair game. One gunner spotted two objects moving across the snow at speed. In a matter of seconds the area was reduced to a watery waste.
"Begin the refuelling process," Grommet ordered.
When they were done, the carnage could begin.
After a few minutes of coughing Trey was finally able to catch his breathe. The snowmobiles were gone, buried under the snow that had quickly filled the hole left by the explosion. He had been caught in the avalanche, but managed to somehow stay near the surface. His first thought after making sure he was intact was to find his companion. He lacked a communicator so his friend was the only means of getting back to the Power Chamber.
At first he saw nothing and feared the worse that Rocky had become trapped under the ice. If that was the case, he could only hope the Blue Zeo Ranger had found an air pocket. Then he noticed the steam rising from the ice field and the ground was a mixture of red and blue. In a geyser of steaming water the Blue Zeo Ranger was propelled into the air, performed a perfect somersault and landed nimbly next to his friend before collapsing. He demorphed a moment later.
Trey examined Rocky carefully. The younger man was obviously exhausted from the effort of breaking free, but more importantly, his clothes were soaked. While the Ranger uniform might have provided some protection against cold and the clothes they had set out in earlier certainly could have aided them, when wet they were a liability. Of course had he remained morphed a few seconds longer, his clothes would have dried.
He checked Rocky's communicator and found the casing had cracked due to extreme temperature. ~Typical.~ Many of their recent battles had involved Rangers being unable to teleport due to either jamming or loss of communication. If Rocky had been able to morph, they could have used his helmet to send a signal.
For now his priority was to keep Rocky from losing too much body heat. He quickly covered his friend with snow, knowing that the blanket would give some insulation. But that would only delay the inevitable. They needed a solution and fast.
The alarm sounded in the Power Chamber, heralding yet another monster attack. Following a procedure the team had gotten down to a fine art; all were summoned to appear immediately. But therein lay the first problem; Rocky was trapped and freezing to death.
"Zordon, what's going on?" Jason asked.
"Where's Rocky?" Adam asked, more concerned about his friend.
"Behold the Viewing Globe," Zordon boomed. "This is Prince Grommet, Gasket and Sprocket's remaining brother. No doubt he has come to discover the Machine Empire ceased transmitting after the pulse device."
"And decided to conquer the planet while he is at it," Tommy said.
"Grommet would never work behind his father's back," Alpha told them. "It's not in his programming."
"Prince Grommet's mother was a slave droid," Zordon explained. "He inherited many of her subroutines."
The screen showed the platform in Alaska where Grommet's forces were poised to make their assault. The prince's ship hung over the region as its complement of robotic soldiers swarmed the drill rig. Grommet, never one to just let his subordinates control a situation. By taking responsibility he could be certain that things went as planned.
"Rocky and Trey are on the ice field," Alpha told them. "You will need to recover them before attacking Grommet."
"Jason, through the Golden Ranger Powers you have a link to Trey; through the shared power of the Red Morphin Ranger you are bonded to Rocky. Both links will enable you to find your friends."
"Can we teleport that far?" Adam asked. Teleportation was unreliable over longer distances.
"I am afraid that the teleportation system will be unreliable," Zordon replied. "However, it is the only means of carrying you to your destination."
"Once there you can transport Trey and Rocky back here," Alpha added.
"Let's do it guys," Tommy said. "It's Morphin Time!"
"Zeo Ranger I - Pink!"
"Zeo Ranger II - Yellow!"
"Zeo Ranger IV - Green!"
"Zeo Ranger V - Red!"
"Golden Power Staff!" Jason called. Nothing happened. "Golden Power Staff - Gold Ranger Power!" still nothing.
For some reason Jason was unable to use his powers at all. His teammates looked on in shock as he tried without success to summon the Power Staff.
"Rangers, you must go on ahead," Zordon said. "Alpha and I will assist Jason."
As the four active Rangers left Zordon looked at the youth before him. Had the rejection really become so bad that the powers simply refused to respond? Of course that really didn't matter; saving Rocky and Trey was far more important.
"Alpha, summon Trent and Travis," Zordon said. "We will need them to pilot Pyramidas."
"Zeo Jets - online!" the four Zeo Rangers called when they appeared. Overhead four planes appeared, creations of Billy no doubt. Zordon had mentioned them in passing when the Rangers had first gained the power of Zeo. After so long they had finally found a use for them. One by one the Rangers were teleported to their jets; streams of data passed before their eyes and was assimilated into their minds. Piloting would now be instinctive.
"Zeo Jet I!" Kat ordered.
She pulled back gently as her jet streaked through the sky. She was used to flight, having used the Crane Ninja Zord on a few occasions. This plane lacked the control of the Crane though. The controls were too sensitive to the slightest movement and while useful when manoeuvrability was required, it made normal flying a bit trickier. Still as she settled into the seat, she was pleased with how comfortable it seemed.
"Zeo Jet II!" Tanya called with just a hint of worry.
In her time as a Ranger Tanya had experienced the least amount flying and rarely had to deal with solo flight. On the brief occasion when she used Super Zeo Zord II, any flight was mostly automatic. Luckily the Power told her what to do and she was soon soaring next to her pink companion. She took the opportunity whilst waiting for Adam and Tommy to acquaint herself with the cockpit layout. Her eyes fell on a control marked 'Z Function', but the glass panel that covered it prevented her from investigating. She wondered what Billy had had in mind when he had placed that control there and why there was an insertion point for a Zeoniser Crystal just above.
"You okay Tanya?" Kat asked.
"Yeah," Tanya replied. "This is amazing."
"Wait until we're really flying," Kat told her.
Adam checked through his checklist for the final time before taking manual control. If they were just using the jets as transport he doubted he would need any of Billy's additional touches, but he checked them just in case. He cranked the power up to maximum with the brake held firmly, freezing the machine in midair. When he was ready, he hit the release and was sent hurtling forward.
"Zeo Jet IV - all lit and active!" he called. "Hurry up, Tommy."
While Adam had been getting the hang of his jet, Zeo Jet V had moved into position. Unlike the other jets, Tommy's used vertical takeoff; like Kat he was at home in the air. His plane hovered overhead.
"Zeo Jet V!" he cried.
Tommy would have preferred to use the Super Zeo Zords or Zeo Zord V with its increased range but understood that the Zeo Jets with their smaller size would attract less attention. ~If Grommet has hostages, we don't want him to over react.~
"Slave navigation to Alpha," he told the others. "Let's go!"
Alpha punched in the course and the four planes took off towards their enemy.
"Pyramidas, Power Up!" Trent, Travis and Jason called.
Although it was possible to pilot this ship unmorphed, Jason lacked the experience to do so. His time as the pilot of the Red Dragon Zord paled in comparison to something so huge. Trent and Travis were also limited because although they were the owners of the golden monstrosity, they lacked any link to their former powers. Together though the three of them had managed to gain access and so far power up the machinery.
"Course set," Travis said.
"Let's go," Trent said.
Jason wondered whether it was because they had once been the same person that allowed Trent and Travis to move so well or whether there was still some mental link between them. He wasn't sure, but hoped it would work to their advantage.
"All civilians are clear," the flight controller said. "Feel free to attack."
The six F-16 pilots altered their course slightly and attacked. At once they were swamped by Grommet's more than adequate fleet of fighters, After battling it out for a few minutes it became clear the machine vehicles were not only faster, but were impervious to the Air force's best firepower. As they exhausted their ammo, the pilots braced themselves for the killing blow. It never arrived.
"This is Red Zeo to US Air force," a voice said. "We'll handle it from here guys."
Four jets flew into range; three F-16s coloured pink, yellow and green and what appeared to be a red Harrier. As the Red Zeo Ranger finished speaking a pulse of energy left the cannon on his left wing and a Quadra fighter exploded from the impact. It had become obvious to Tommy upon arrival they would need the Zeo Jets for more than transport.
Already Grommet's forces had secured a stranglehold on the drilling platform. Several of the Quadra fighters had transformed into their octopus like tank mode and had allowed the Cogs to secure watchtowers with heavy-duty weaponry. More Cogs patrolled the perimeter and were even now searching for weapons to use against the incoming Rangers. Grommet's ship had attached itself to the platform via a set of thick tubes and had already started to leach the energy Grommet desired.
"Divide and conquer guys," Tommy said. "Kat and Tanya do what you can about those Quadra fighters and Cogs. Adam knock out the tower, and I'll handle the big ship."
"Right!" the others confirmed obediently.
"Three, two, one, break!" Adam called as he jerked back on his control stick.
The four jets now released from Alpha's control flew off on their own paths. While Tanya swooped in low to pick off the ground forces, Adam followed her in, drawing fire from the tanks and towers. Kat drew the Quadra fighters away from the fight and then turned back to engage, leaving the way open for Tommy to strike at Grommet.
"Bombs away!" Tanya called, her yellow winged jet swooping just over the heads of her opponents.
A collection of tennis ball sized bombs struck the ice and exploded, throwing snow and ice into the air. As the bombs connected with the ground, the Cogs scattered. This allowed Tanya to switch to cannons and pick off each android independently.
"Break left," Adam told her.
Tanya did as she was told as a grid of green firepower struck one of the tanks. The machine stumbled and then collapsed as the effects of the gravity net took effect. As the machine exploded it took out its nearest neighbours while Adam's Ion Cannon disarmed another machine.
Tanya made a quick turn and flew under her boyfriend to cut the legs out from yet another tank as Adam dealt with one of the towers.
Kat meanwhile drew her opponents on a random course, using her jet's speed to lure them into steep dives they couldn't pull out of. When she had eliminated all but three of her pursuers she slowed so they could catch up. She shifted her jet's shields - superior to those of the other Rangers - to the tail section, thus protecting her from the inevitable blasts.
"Fire Cloud engaged," she said as a warning to any Ranger in her path.
A burst of pink flame roared from her engines and engulfed all of the remaining fighters. She shifted her angle and swooped down to knock out the garrison of Cogs that had suddenly appeared. Her sensors flickered to life and she realized just how wrong they had been.
"Guys, we're in trouble."
Mondo had seen to it that his offspring had shared his ability to gloat and it was a sensation that Grommet enjoyed. The Zeo Rangers, bane of his father's plans to conquer the otherwise defenceless planet had just discovered how powerful the Machine Empire could really be. His father's Cogs and fighters were of course the pinnacle of Machine Empire technology, but Grommet had learnt from the worlds he had administrated that sometimes crude and primitive weapons got the job done more effectively. Where a Cog could strike strategically and fail a high-powered bombardment could quell all resistance.
So it was that he had ordered Garrock to prepare a double surprise for the Rangers. The first was the ice-covered Cogs he had hidden in the snow ready to strike. The second surprise was the mixture of Cog operated machines he had placed on guard around the platform, two and four legged walkers, tanks and sledges. He planned to show the Rangers the might of the Machine Empire and then press the assault to take full control of the planet.
"Move in!" he ordered.
Trey was growing ever more desperate. His efforts to keep Rocky warm had meant that he was becoming colder. He needed to do something before hypothermia set in. If he had his powers, he knew he could have save Rocky. He needed the power of the Gold Ranger more than he had ever realized. The fatigue and anger he had felt recently was not from the separation. It was because he was suffering from withdrawal symptoms. The Gold Ranger powers were addictive and he had felt their loss, but now that mattered little because he really needed them.
"Golden Power Staff!" he called, just as he had several times since the failed transfer.
The cold was getting worse and he was starting to hallucinate, but he was almost certain that the Golden Power Staff had appeared and that he was looking at it gleaming in the daylight. In his mind he could see himself aiming the weapon at his younger friend and unleashing a soft wave of energy; he wondered why Rocky was glowing when this was clearly his mind playing tricks on him. Still he decided that since he knew this was an illusion, he might as well go along with it.
"Gold Ranger Power!"
Even the sensation seemed real as he felt his connection to his power reestablish itself within the pathways time had burnt into place. As the familiar uniform touched his flesh, he wished that it was true, but knew in his mind that it couldn't be. When the heavy shield fell into place on his shoulders and chest he felt invincible and was saddened only by the knowledge there was no way this could be real.
"Pyramidas!" he called with some urgency, knowing the mighty machine would never arrive.
"I've lost control," Travis told his companions as the Gold Ranger's Zord shift onto a new course.
"The call signal has been activated," Trent responded. "Someone has called the Zord."
"Who could do that?" Jason asked.
"Only the Gold Ranger can call Pyramidas when it's under manual control," Trent told him. "Someone must be using the powers."
This was true. When Pyramidas had been built it had been intended to respond to the needs of multiple Ranger teams. However there were occasions when the Gold Ranger needed the Zord for more important matters. At such time his verbal command would override that of the operator. And since the Gold Ranger powers had to be presented to the successor that meant only Jason should be able to call the Zord.
"I'm getting life readings down there," Travis said. "Two energy signatures, one is blue Zeo and the other is..." He stopped and looked at Trent. "You don't think?"
"Impossible," Trent breathed.
"I am coming aboard," a very familiar voice said.
Jason, Trent and Travis exchanged looks. "Trey?"
Even as an illusion Pyramidas looked impressive as it sped through the air. Although by now Trey was starting to hope that perhaps this was not an illusion after all. He didn't feel as strong as he remembered being when in possession of the Gold Ranger powers, but perhaps he was out of practice.
"I am coming aboard," he said as he lifted Rocky onto his shoulder. In a burst of gold light he was gone.
"Trey?" Travis, Trent and Jason said when he arrived.
Answers were cut short as they took the opportunity to revive Rocky. Fortunately Ranger Healing had stopped him from getting frostbite and in some ways it had protected him. His unconscious body had been kept comatose so that heat would flow to the areas that needed to be warm. With the help of the gradual warming process Trey had started Rocky was soon back on his feet although tired. He was just in time for a message from Zordon.
"Rangers you must head back to Angel Grove. Rita and Zedd have taken the opportunity to attack in your absence."
"Zordon, what happened out there?" Jason asked.
"I will try to explain when you all get back. For now you must teleport back here with Rocky, Trent and Travis. Trey will need to help in fighting off Rita's assault."
The Rangers exchanged glances and nodded. "Back to action!"
Despite their initial shock, the Zeo Rangers had made a good recovery. By working in pairs they were able to slowly whittle down Grommet's forces while their smaller size allowed them to dodge some of the heavier weapons that were limited by their bulk and the conditions under foot. Still as their jets started to run low on fuel the Rangers needed to do something fast.
"Zeo locks open, guys," Red Zeo ordered.
The others swiftly obeyed and slotted their Zeoniser Crystals into the waiting slot. The glass panel Tanya had notice earlier retracted and in addition to the button she'd spotted was a row of controls. She was still unsure exactly what Billy had dreamt up, but was certain it was going to be good.
"New data Rangers," Alpha warned.
A series of diagrams flashed before the Rangers' eyes. When they had finished, Tanya knew she had been right. Billy had outdone himself this time. She pushed the button and twisted her crystal at the same time. She felt a brief moment of teleportation and then nothing.
At the push of the button her jet had switched to Jet Zord mode. The jet grew to full Zord size, encasing her cockpit somewhere inside. Special sensors, relays and projectors combined with her helmet's input made her believe that she was in the same place as she had been moments before. Even though she knew it was a Zord the sudden shift in scale did not worry her.
Of course as the Zeo Jets grew to their Zord forms, they became fast and better armed. The Rangers were able to take the offensive to the Machine Empire and were soon taking out some of the larger weapons.
"Grommet's calling his forces back," Adam noted as the walkers abruptly turned away. "He must be planning to use them as cannon fodder if we attack his ship."
As Adam spoke the walkers turned back and started to change. All of Gasket's war machines bonded together to create a large robotic warrior; his ship formed the head.
"What now?" Kat asked.
"Zordon, we need the Zeo Jet Megazord," Tommy called.
"I have dispatched Rocky's Jet Zord on autopilot," Zordon replied.
"Right!" the Rangers responded. "Zeo Jet Megazord online!"
Rocky's Jet Zord was a blue hovercraft that skimmed over the snow and blew and remaining Cogs to pieces. As it neared the Red Jet Zord, which had stopped moving and was hovering in place, its front opened and clamped. The tail section of the Red Jet folded back and allowed the Blue Zord to clamp itself in place. The Yellow and Green Zord moved level with the wings of Tommy's Zord and attached themselves. Both Zords folded and shaped themselves into legs, as the wings of Tommy's Zord were pulled inward. As the almost formed Megazord stood upright the front half of Tommy's Zord swung up and around the back of the Blue Zord to form the head of the Megazord. The Blue Jet Zord was reshaped to form the body as Kat's Jet Zord split along its length and each half-transformed into an arm. The arms bonded to the body as the Rangers were transferred into the cockpit area.
"Online and ready," Adam reported.
"Thrusters to maximum," Kat said.
"Weapons online," Tanya said.
Functions on board the new Zord were split. Kat controlled the Zord's movements whilst in the air, Tanya charged the weapons and shields as needed, Adam controlled the computer functions and Tommy handled the combat moves. Had Rocky been there he would have taken Tommy's place and allowed the Red Ranger to pilot the Red Battlezord. But Rocky was not there and the Red Battlezord was not suited to the climate, so Tommy was forced to take Rocky's place.
"Siek-yah!" Tommy cried as the Zord lunged forwards with a punch.
Onboard his robot Grommet laughed. His war machines had some of the strongest armour in the Universe and when combined together with each unit reinforcing the others, its strength was increased almost one hundredfold.
"That's not good," Adam commented as Grommet's robot caught the Jet Megazord's fist.
"Ion Disrupters, Fire!" Tanya called.
Bolts of high yield energy struck their opponent with the intention of weakening its electrical circuits. But with all the added shielding the weapon was practically useless.
"Incoming!" Kat warned as Grommet's machine punched the Zord, damaging its upper body.
A second blow moved them back as the third jarred the Zord's neck. The Zord spun and if not for Kat's skill at piloting they would have crashed. The two machines danced around on the ice; the Rangers took every opportunity to land a quick punch while Grommet seemed intent on catching them.
"How is he moving so fast?" Adam asked. "Even the best controls couldn't give it those reflexes."
"That's right humans," Grommet's voice said. "I am not in control of this robot. I am this robot!"
A solid fist chipped the Megazord's face and almost knocked it off line.
"We can't take another blow like that," Adam said as he noted where the cracks had formed in the cockpit.
"Right," Tommy agreed, "Tanya, get the Stress Fracture Cannon ready for action. Kat, switch flight control to the rear hover jets, cut the feet thrusters, aim them down and roll us so the Zord is floating on its back."
Grommet moved in, believing he had the Rangers where he wanted them. At the right moment Kat reactivated the thrusters mounted in the feet. The sudden explosion of heat caught Grommet in the chest and he staggered backward. The Rangers quickly righted the Megazord and took the opportunity to land blow after blow against their enemy's burnt body.
"Tommy, I can't find anywhere to use the SFC," Tanya said.
"Aim just in front of the feet," Adam told her, hoping Tommy knew what he was doing.
Tanya swiftly complied and the weapon was fired.
The Stress Fracture Cannon or SFC as it was better known was actually two weapons combined. A low powered energy beam intended to test the surface of an object in search of a fracture or weakness of some sort was mounted atop of a larger cannon. The larger cannon was capable of using the smaller weapon as a guidance lock. When the target was found, the beam fired and a succession of small explosions weakened the structure until it collapsed.
The beam hit the snow and soon found a natural weakness in the structure of the ice underneath. For a few seconds nothing happened and then the ice cracked as the explosions melted it away. Grommet realized too late that he was in danger and crashed through the surface. He groped wildly for something to prevent his inevitable drowning, but the only thing in reach was the Megazord.
"Cut the power!" Tommy instructed as the Zord bounced up and down as Grommet tried continuously to pull himself out of the freezing water.
The machine lurched as Tanya's finger pushed the button and in a blur of emergency teleportation, the Rangers were taken to safety seconds before their Zord plummeted through the ice. On the Viewing Screen the Rangers surveyed the damage. The SFC had succeeded and ended the Machine Empire's plans in the area. But the platform that had been there moments before had vanished as the fracture caused by the Ranger's weapon cracked the ice in a half-mile radius. Despite knowing that human casualties had been avoided, they were sobered by the fact their weapon had caused a great deal of destruction, including its own.
Slightly disheartened despite Zordon's words of comfort, they returned to their homes, agreeing to return to the Power Chamber later in order to fully appreciate the events that had taken place.
"And so while four of the Rangers battled a monster our sources reveal to be a member of the Machine Empire, the Gold Ranger successfully held back Rita Repulsa's never ending entourage of foot soldiers. Although the Drilling Platform was lost in the battle human casualties were kept to a minimum. This is Cassidy Cornell, Channel Seven News."
"Congratulations Rangers," Zordon boomed. "By preventing Grommet from taking control of the platform you have halted the Machine Empire's progress."
"I'm just sorry I wasn't there to help," Rocky said.
"Me too, Bro," Jason agreed.
"Don't feel bad guys," Tommy said. "Trey has his powers back and Rocky is recovered."
"Trey, the powers of the Gold Ranger were transferred to you because you needed them," Zordon said. "But the powers have not remained stable and could have just as easily transferred to Trent, Travis or Jason."
"So instead of one Gold Ranger, we have four," Tommy said.
"Ai-yi-yi, there can only be one Gold Ranger," Alpha said. "The powers transfer according to need and will appear weaker until they can be stabilised."
"So not only have we failed to unite, we've split the powers," Trey said, frustration evident. He exchanged looks with Trent and Travis, both of whom nodded in silent agreement. "I think the time has come for us to return to Triforia, Zordon. Maybe we've been looking in the wrong place and instead of trying to physically unite, we should be doing so spiritually. One of the Priests of the Golden Lady might be able to help."
"I regret that you may be right Trey. I have detected that for now they are stable in your possession and will remain so until the need changes. I do not believe they will spread outside of your foursome. When they are presented with a suitable host, they will become permanent."
"Jason, I am afraid that for now you will not be the Gold Ranger. You will discover however, there are some side effects of holding the Power. You are welcome to fulfil Billy's role as an adviser for as long as you wish."
"Thanks Zordon," Jason said.
"Jo has finished the Zeo Zord repairs," Jennifer told them as she entered and put her arm around Rocky. The two girls had been spending their time recently aiding the Rangers after their battles.
"Jo and Jennifer you have been of great help to the Rangers, Alpha and myself," Zordon said. "I trust you will not reveal our secrets."
"You have our word," Jo said on behalf of both of them.
"Then I will transport you back to your parents," Zordon said.
In a flash the girls were gone, Jo to help her parents and Jennifer back home.
"Rangers once again you have proven that together you can overcome any obstacle. The world is very lucky to have you and so am I."
"Thanks Zordon," Tommy said. "We're glad we have you too."
It started with a few flashing LEDs and a faint whine that gradually grew louder, but slowly the Machine Base returned to its fully operational status. King Mondo, ruler of the Royal House of Gadgetry had returned.