Disclaimer: I do not own Power Rangers or any other show. They belong to their respective copyright owners. No money is being made from this piece of writing.
The Dark Side of Nature
A red streak coasted through the solar system, undetected by Zordon's defence satellites as it touched down upon the Moon. As the ball of energy dissipated, the occupants gasped for nonexistent air. It was not the most luxurious method of transit, but it had gotten them to their new location in record time.
"We're home Zeddy!" Rita cried enthusiastically as the troublesome duo walked into their beloved Lunar Palace. Minion was gone after deciding that it was better to build his own island on the Earth where he could establish a center of power. He had taken his henchmen, prisoners and his equipment with him; he had also taken Serpenterra, a fact that caused Zedd to angrily curse the other villain when he found out.
"How dare that clone forget who is in charge around here!" he growled, his body radiating an alarming amount of power.
"We'll show him," Rita gleefully exclaimed.
"Yeah Ed, me and old Goldar will just head down there and show him who's boss," Rito offered. It was such a sincere offer that for a moment Zedd forgot to shout at him for getting the name wrong.
If only it could be that simple. Truthfully though Zedd knew that they would have a hard time subduing Minion. He possessed Serpenterra and the Zeo Crystal, a potentially devastating combination and had troops that in Zedd's opinion would make easy work of the Tengas. ~Although,~ he noted grudgingly, ~I bet they would have no chance against Mondo's Cogs.~
"Minion is not a fool," he said as he peered down at the Earth, taking in a battle between the Rangers and what looked like a Halloween costume with the head of a rabbit, truly a disturbing sight. "The Rangers are still using temporary powers and he seems to be taking advantage of it."
He had been surprised that Minion had not followed up on Jason's injury, nor tried to prevent Kat, Tanya and Billy from reaching Earth with the cure. Now with Billy and Jason back in the mix, Zedd could see that the likelihood of more former Rangers returning and defeating Minion was becoming more likely unless of course he acted first and robbed Minion of some of his glory.
"Come on you stupid thing," a blonde haired figured grunted as he and his companion tried to shift a very reluctant dog into the back of their van.
"I can't believe people keep these creatures as pets," his companion complained, trying to find somewhere to wipe her hands as she checked her nails. "Ew, it's disgusting."
"Never mind that, we've finally captured all the animals we need," he told her as she sauntered into the passenger seat. He paused, assessing his situation before admitting, "I'm beat."
"All this hard work makes me hungry," she agreed as she closed the door. "Let's get that thing back to the laboratory and then get some food."
He turned the key and started the engine, before driving off with remarkable restraint.
"You know Toxica," he said as he shifted gear, "I miss the old days."
"Oh the old days," she whispered dreamily.
"The power, the glory," he stated, his attention drifting from the road but returning quickly enough to pull out of the path of an oncoming lorry. "If only the master would find a way to return to us. Think of what we could do."
"It has to be better than collecting dogs," she agreed. "And we wouldn't be working for humans." She made a disgusted face at that thought.
They of course were not human although aside from his facial disfigurement, it was hard to tell in their current guises. They were Orgs, Duke Orgs to be precise and with their one horn status had at one time come great power. Alas, that power was long gone along with many of the great Orgs. Surprisingly it had been a team of human knights who had destroyed the Master Org and in doing so had crushed weakened those who had followed him; many had disappeared although some had been imprisoned and others like Toxica and Jindrax, had gone into hiding among the humans.
Jindrax pulled the van into the car park outside the laboratory where they worked as he and Toxica continued to reminisce about the bad old days.
"Hey, do you remember the time the master sent Ballista Org to crush that island?" Jindrax asked.
"Of course I do," she replied lazily. "I was the one he asked to give him the directions."
"Those were the days," Jindrax sighed happily. "And if it weren't for those humans it still would be."
"Then destroy the humans."
"Yeah, destroy the humans," Jindrax agreed, then paused. "What happened to your voice Toxica?"
"I didn't say anything," she answered.
Suddenly on their guard, the two Orgs looked around, trying to find whoever had spoken. It was dark and difficult to see, but there was something in the bushes, red eyes burning as it watched them.
"Hey, who are you?" Jindrax demanded.
"A human!" Toxica accused.
Gone was the pretence, they were now on guard; the human had heard them and knew they weren't human. And while they doubted a human could really hurt them, they could never tell. Their plain grey uniforms vanished, leaving behind their true appearances.
Jindrax had lost all but a few of his human features as he shifted form. He had deep impressions that extended from his unmoving lips, with five or so multicoloured spots on his left cheek and on second glance it could be seen that even in human disguise he had only been able to pass them off as oddly shaped purple scars. The long blonde hair he had possessed while cloaked, remained, though in his true form it stuck out of the back of his yellowish head near the base of the skull. His head had three shark-like fins on top along with pink and green gems on his inhuman scalp, and glowing yellow eyes. He wore a suit of purple and white, which alternated on each side between the two. He wore elfish shoes and possessed a short white cape on the back. It was his twisted sword though that made him dangerous.
Toxica somehow managed to still look human although with the black veil over her face it was hard to tell. She wore a long dress made of blue, violet and black material, with a padded shoulder pad that extended down to act as a breastplate. She wore a blue and black helmet over her head, which was adorned with gold chains dangling down off the red gem on her helmet's forehead. And finally, she held a spike-ended staff that was almost as tall as she was.
The two Orgs had the remnants of a horn extending from their foreheads. Jindrax's was white and Toxica's was striped with orange and brown. Both had obviously been damaged at some stage since they ended in a jagged edge rather than a keen point.
"So you do have some power left," Arcana said as he stepped from the darkness. "Is that because you've had time to recover or did running from the battle shield you from some of the side effects?"
"Hey, he's calling us cowards," Jindrax realised.
Toxica pointed her staff at him as Jindrax moved his sword into a ready position. They attacked together, Jindrax charging in from the right as Toxica fired several blasts and then attacked from the left. Arcana teleported over them, using the building as a perch to watch as their weapons collided. Then he dropped back down, bringing his short staff around to knock them both off balance. As they fell, he held his staff at a position to knock their heads off should they move again.
"That is enough," he told them. "I am a spell weaver and I have need of your services, not your corpses."
"Hear that, a spell weaver, and you said he was just a human," Jindrax half-muttered to his companion.
"What do you want of us?" Toxica demanded. She wasn't as brave as she was calculating. He wouldn't kill them if he needed them unless it was a last resort.
"In the beginning this world was consumed by evil and misery; the fleeing forces of darkness chose this planet as their home. There they hoped to rebuild their numbers. They sent forth lesser spirits that fed on misery and destruction to feed on this planet's earliest life forms. While most chose to remain beneath the surface, a few who served a different ruler set up their own kingdom. Others later journeyed to the surface before the first humans drove them back. Unable to reach the surface and blocked from returning to Hell, these demons were forced to reside within the planet's core, in a realm they named Gehenna. At the time there were many entrances to Gehenna, but the locations have been lost over time. However, one location was recorded on the slabs of rock that you Orgs used to construct your Nexus.
And so I need your services to unlock the doorway to Gehenna and release a force that once decimated this world so Minion can use them to bring the humans of this world to their knees."
"Hey, that's great," Jindrax responded. He looked at Toxica. "Who does this guy think he is?"
The staff sparked warningly as if sensing Arcana's increasing frustration. Toxica and Jindrax were Orgs, creatures of chaos and destruction. And while such behaviour and an almost genocidal outlook on humans marked them as evil, they were not interested in things such as conquest. That was something humans did that created the misery and pollution that Orgs needed to exist.
"Take me to the Nexus," he commanded.
"Why, you can't enter there?" Toxica told him, sounding outraged by the suggestion. "Only Orgs can set foot in those caves."
"Yeah, no humans," Jindrax added. "Besides -- there's nothing in there except a bunch of old statues."
"And if you try to enter you'll be destroyed." Toxica finished. She sounded smug, as if this revelation had ruined the villain's plans and repeated, "only Orgs may access the Nexus."
"I have no interest in whatever secrets the Orgs hold," Arcana snarled, losing patience. "There is something in that place that my master, Minion desires, even if he doesn't realise that need yet. Take me there or suffer the consequences."
"All right already, we'll take you there," Jindrax complained as he was prodded with the staff. "Ow! What is with this guy?"
The humans of the planet Earth would describe nature as a beautiful and life-giving force. And while their views were not wrong, they were incomplete and perhaps a little too idealistic. Nature could be beautiful and was certainly responsible for the many wonders throughout creation. But that same force was at times a destructive killer, an unstoppable juggernaut of devastation that pushed its own children to their very limits. In essence Nature was the same as the other forces that shaped the planet, completely neutral.
Existence was filled with checks and balances that ensured that the universe would continue to survive. That need for balance applied to everything, even nature. Just as there was life and splendour, and growth, there was also a need for death, decay and renewal. The Orgs were a representation of chaos, complex spirits fed by dark emotions, pollution and the hate generated by humans. The senior Orgs had been a part of an evil kingdom, while the lesser Orgs, which had been unintelligent creatures of destruction, had been unleashed to bring chaos in their wake. Later the ruling Orgs had ended the chaos in favour of their brand of order.
That had changed when the Orgs had arrived on the Earth. The natural power of the planet had been like a beacon for life to develop, and the violence that life brought had attracted the wondering spirits. Their masters had been driven underground by the evolving humans, leaving the world free for the Orgs to plunder.
Although many Orgs had been destroyed, some had survived by hiding. Many of the surviving Orgs were those that had remained formless spirits during the great battle. They had remained aimless since that time, awaiting a chance to strike again should their masters return to give them a purpose.
The Nexus was an Org graveyard, filled with the fossilised bodies of Org Generals who had been frozen before the Master Org's last stand. A little magic would bring them back, but without their horns, Jindrax and Toxica lacked the necessary power.
"Well here we are, home sweet home, kind of," Jindrax said as he, Toxica and Arcana stepped into the cavern. It had come as a shock when the spell weaver had simply shrugged off the energy around the Nexus. After thinking about it though the two Orgs had realised the barrier was intended to keep the pure of heart away, and not necessarily to keep humans at bay.
Arcana looked around, seemingly unimpressed by his surroundings. At one time this had obviously been a well-decorated chamber, but that had been before the thousands of years of decay had taken their toll. Still, he was here for a purpose, one which had required him to endure the idiocy of his companions for the last few hours.
"Yes it is here," he said at last, sensing the object he desired. A single stone tablet, different from the others in that it contained not an Org, but rather knowledge of those that had preceded the Orgs. It had he suspected served to provide the knowledge that Master Org had needed to create the Org Heart before his final battle. While the Org Generals forced into hibernation had been a part of the Org Heart's creation, the extra dark energy he had drawn from Gehenna, a pool of evil just waiting to be tapped. Arcana almost laughed as he read the ancient text; it was in Eltarian. It seemed that the humans who had believed that Hell was located beneath their feet had been onto something after all. "From beneath you it devours," he muttered.
"If that is all master, we will take our leave," Toxica said.
"Yeah, seeya," Jindrax added.
He ignored them as he marched out of the Nexus and teleported away, leaving the two Orgs to wonder what had just happened.
"How dare he treat us like that?" Toxica snapped when she was certain he was gone.
"Yeah, who does he think he is?" Jindrax asked. He looked around. "Soo, you want to try and wake some of these Generals up?"
They two Orgs leaned against the stone wall, obviously trying to decide whether that suggestion was a good idea.
Stone Henge, England
The tablet had proven very informative and he had been surprised to learn that it had been carved by an Eltarian scribe who had been fascinated by the developing culture. The man had been thorough, encoding the information as layer after layer of carved characters. Only someone with magical sight or the correct equipment could decipher the wording. That effectively made it useless to the planet's population.
Luckily the entrance he had been seeking had been included in the detailed yet incomplete survey. Better still, it was in an area that his master already controlled. When he had found the doorway, which was one of the arches that made up the ancient monument, he had been able to descend a long passage into the depths of the Earth.
He assumed that he had travelled several miles along the tunnels although he had probably only descended ten miles overall. When confronted by a pair of heavy wooden doors he had used his wand to carefully shift them open. Inside he found a circular cavern with walls covered with openings and he could see several creatures moving around in the background. In the center there was a deep chasm that he sensed held the magic the researcher had found. If the sleeping figures on the throne and in the connected chambers were an indicator, this place had played host to creatures that could have given early man nightmares.
"And this would be the resting place of Daemon-oh, I presume," he said as he stared down into the pit. He didn't believe in such things, a God of all Demons? Ridiculous. Now, an ancient being that displayed a massive amount of power and claimed that title he could believe in; the Source of all Evil they called him if he recalled the texts. Deformed as a punishment and left to resemble a fanged octopus, although that too was a ridiculous fabrication in his opinion. "Don't worry, I won't disturb things too much. And these must be the Elemental Beasts of legend," he said, as he moved to a nest in the corner and ran his hand over the rough surfaces of the egg-shaped containers he found there. They were actually hyperlock chambers and their contents were fully developed. It was an efficient way of ensuring the beasts within survived. He stood abruptly and tapped one of the containers with his staff. He was surprised when instead of opening, it exploded.
He should have known that such creatures would require extreme environments in which to revive. No doubt they needed exposure to harsh conditions to awaken such as the hot springs beneath the planet's surface, where that the scalding water could easily boil them, and then had been moved to other sites.
"Perhaps I shall move them to a more suitable home," he decided. He paused, looking at something at the back of the cavern. "What is that?" He studied the beast from all angles. He could sense the potential of such a creature. Its injuries would make it angry and that rage would fuel its ferocious attacks.
Using the tablet as a guide, he drew a symbol around the beast and watched as it was magically restored. Arcana sent the mindless creature to a place where it would prove useful, choosing to draw the Rangers out and keep them busy for a while. Then he used his wand to direct a blast of energy from the dark chasm.
The resulting explosion rocked the famous white cliffs of Dover. The chalky rock crumbled as the Earth was split open, revealing the dark secret it held. Thick green smog poured from the hole, carrying with it a stench that made the locals wonder if maybe the drains had backed up again. Then as the collapse continued, swallowing a small hotel in the process, the cave was buried for all eternity.
He had collected the containment units that had survived the explosion, and had moved them so they would not be crushed by falling chalk. He teleported away to place them where they would be able to open, leaving the humans none the wiser. He was impressed by the distance he had travelled from Stone Henge to reach the cliffs. The explosion had sealed that entrance, but it didn't matter anymore. He would not be needing it again.
The Power Chamber
"You guys ready?" Billy asked.
"Go for it Man," Tommy replied.
~Ah well, here goes,~ Billy thought to himself. "After Zordon and Alpha completed the initial construction and restoration, I managed to finish reconfiguring some of my previous designs to incorporate the option of a secondary gestalt procedure. The result as you can see is three sets of Zord; the Sky Zords flying high, the Defender Zords all round and Techno Zords as backup and special operations."
Billy looked at Tommy's face and could not help laughing. When he had returned to Earth with Kat and Tanya from Crystal, the initial concern had been to administer the antidote to Jason. Then after visiting his parents and an extended talk with Zordon, Billy had thrown himself into working on the new Zords, desperate to bring the Rangers' arsenal up to scratch. He had even allowed Zordon and Alpha to fit the Power Coin he had used on Aquitar as part of a backup plan in case the Gem Coin powers failed. It seemed Tommy had not been expecting as much progress.
"The Ninja you are using was not meant to work with your powers. These three sets of Zords will act as replacements, but since they're limited in power we created three sets; unfortunately as unstable as it may be, the Ninja is still the most powerful weapon at your disposal."
The Rangers watched five aircraft roared overhead, each in the colour of a different Ranger. Although they resembled fighter jets, Tommy imagined they were many times more powerful. Next came a selection of giant rescue vehicles; an ambulance, a police car, rescue helicopter, a police motorcycle and a fire engine. Finally came a set of futuristic type vehicles. First was a type of plane, followed closely by another plane with a cannon on each side of the cockpit, then a sleek car, a covered motorcycle and finally a high-powered dune buggy.
"Each Zord can either be piloted or worked by remote control. In addition the Megazords can work with only one Ranger at the controls, although I would recommend two if you want fine control; you can have all three units operating at the same time."
"What's that big thing over there?" Tanya asked, pointing to a large plane that was heading towards them.
"That's the Drop Zord," Billy explained. "When you need Megazord Power you will find it invaluable."
Let's give it a try," Tommy said. "It's Morphin Time!"
"Zeo Ranger I - Crane!"
"Zeo Ranger II - Bear!"
"Zeo Ranger III - Ape!"
"Zeo Ranger IV - Frog!"
"Zeo Ranger V - Falcon!"
Billy and Jason teleported back to the Power Chamber and watched the events unfolding below.
"How do they call them?" Jason asked.
"Deploy Zords!" the Rangers called.
Almost immediately a computerised link was established between them and the new Zords, and the control data for the machines was transferred to their helmet displays.
"Sky Megazord, power up!" Zeo Crane called.
The five planes altered course and flew towards them. Then at the right moment, they switched course, heading upright towards the sky. The red plane's nose cone retracted into the cockpit to be replaced by a head, the wings folded toward the bottom of the plane and the fuselage shrunk to half its normal size. The pink and yellow planes transformed into the arms, and the blue and black planes formed the legs.
"Drop Zord, now!" Zeo Crane ordered. The plane flew past; it dropped the fists, feet and chest plate of the Megazord as it did so.
"Sky Megazord, online!" Zeo Crane ordered.
"Megazord activated," a computerised voice. The voice was based on the computer inside the original Megazord. Adding the voice had made the Zord seem friendlier.
"Kat, call on the SFC," Billy advised. The Pink Gem Coin Ranger did as she was told and a long rifle appeared on the Zord's right arm. "Now try flying."
Zeo Crane did as she was told, but found it difficult to control the whole Megazord in flight. Billy watched the readings and swore in disgust. "Damn, the control relay signal is too weak. I'll have to reconfigure the fly-by-wire systems."
"I can program the computer to take over most of the systems," Alpha offered.
"That would allow the machine to hover, but not improve the control," Billy replied. "I'll keep working on it."
When it was clear the young genius had succeeded, Zordon spoke. "Congratulations Kat, you are the pilot of the Sky Megazord."
"You ready Adam?" Billy asked over the communicator, his voice sounding distorted.
For some reason Adam and Rocky had chosen to ride in the lead Zord. Adam looked at Rocky and when the other boy nodded he called out, "Defender Megazord, power up!"
The fire engine's cab rolled up and over the top to reveal the Megazord's head, the rest of it shifting shape to form the body. The helicopter's rotor blade flew of as the tail detached itself allowing the helicopter to form the right arm. The ambulance attached itself to the left side of the body, and the motorcycle and police car formed the legs.
Once again the Drop Zord appeared, releasing the hands, feet and chest shield for the Defender Megazord. When the Megazord was complete the rotor blades and tail transformed into a Power Sword.
"Megazord, activated," the computer reported.
"Impressive," Rocky said, testing the reflexes of his Zord.
"You can combine the Megazord with the Drop Zord if you need to," Billy told them. "Tommy, Tanya, your turn."
"Techno Megazord, form up!" Zeo Bear and Zeo Falcon called together.
The two planes flew away from them for a moment, but soon appeared again with a large gun emplacement in tow. The high speed of the two jets caused the chains dragging the emplacement lift off the ground. As it drew near the chains were released. The gun detached itself from the emplacement, allowing it to form the lower body onto which the larger of the two planes formed to create the upper torso, shoulders and head. The dune buggy and motorbike transformed into the arms and the other plane and car formed the legs.
A panel opened on the lower back of the Megazord from which the hands and feet for the Megazord were released along with the chest panel. The gun had in the meantime split in half and appeared in each hand.
"Billy, Alpha, Zordon, you've excelled yourselves," Zeo Falcon said.
"Thank you, Tommy," Zordon replied. "However Billy deserves most of the credit for the construction of the Zords and the integration of your powers."
"We'll head back to the Power Chamber and wait for a chance to use them," Zeo Falcon said.
The Rangers powered down and returned to their base. Minion's attacks had been intensifying since Jason had recovered, and the Rangers were starting to feel the strain. With their new Zords they hoped the battles would not be so draining. But if they were honest then it was the reappearance of Rita and Zedd along with the Machine Empire that had highlighted the need for the Rangers to be able to face multiple threats at the same time.
Later that day, the Rangers had decided to spend time practicing baseball at their local stadium. Since her relationship with Shawn had ended, Tanya had been reluctant to visit the field. Today Adam had been pretty insistent that she joined them for some fun.
"Man, this feels great," Rocky said as the small group of friends took a break. "Warm day, no monster attacks and best of all I even have a girlfriend."
Kat and Tanya rolled their eyes as Rocky's current girlfriend, Stephanie, waved to him from the other side of the field. Adam and Tommy exchanged amused looks. They were happy for their friend, glad that he gotten over his grief surrounding the loss of his previous girlfriend, but deep down the male Rangers wished he hadn't inherited Zack's sense of romance. The girls just wished he wouldn't keep changing girlfriends from one week to the next. Kat had jokingly suggested he was worse than Billy when it came to women.
"It is nice," Kat agreed.
"Yeah, makes you wonder what Minion is up to," Tommy commented.
"Let's not forget Rita," Adam added.
The Rangers were not naive enough to believe Minion had just given up or that their enemies would hold back if they had a chance to snatch the planet from their rival's grasp. They also couldn't believe that villains of such standing would have simply given up on their plans to conquer the Earth simply because the Rangers had stalled and undermined their efforts on every possible occasion.
"Ah, we can take them anytime," Rocky boasted.
"Don't get cocky," Jason warned. He had not played that day, protesting he was tired.
"Just because they have not triumphed yet does not mean they will give up," Adam told them. "And remember, we're not monsters; we cannot come back from the dead if we're killed in battle."
His words had the desired effect and Rocky sobered as he thought back to Jennifer and the way she had died.
"Minion is too dangerous to underestimate," Tommy agreed. "And without the Zeo Crystal we are vulnerable."
"Well I for one appreciate not being kidnapped and used as bait," David Trueheart, Kat's boyfriend and Tommy's brother commented.
As the afternoon wore on, the Rangers and their friends decided to go to Ernie's Juice Bar. They sat around a table, laughing and enjoying the day when the news report appeared on the television.
"This just in," a reporter said, "New York is under attack. An unnamed monster has been reported rampaging through the streets. Police and military sources have so far been unable to stop this brute. The Avengers, the government-funded team of super heroes led by wartime hero Captain America were dispatched and later forced to withdraw when their attempts to subdue what one of them was heard to call an Abomination were unsuccessful. Indeed two members of the defence force have been reported injured. Team leader Steve Rogers and financial sponsor Anthony Stark were unavailable for comment. Group scientist Doctor Bruce Banner is reported to have said 'everything is under control; our forces have the situation in hand. There is no need to panic.'"
The broadcast continued and the Rangers had already made their excuses and were about contact Zordon when their communicators beeped.
"We're here Zordon," Tommy said as Rocky kept lookout. Jason and David were distracting Stephanie, which allowed the Rangers to sneak away.
"Somebody has unleashed a new monster in New York City," the wise Morphin Master answered.
"We saw the report," Tommy answered.
"What do you think?" Rocky asked. It was unusual for Rita and Zedd to strike away from Angel Grove, although it would not be the first time somebody had done so.
"I don't think it's Rita," Tommy replied. "Although, Rita wouldn't think twice about taking advantage of the situation."
"That is correct Tommy. For now though the monster is your priority. Morph and teleport to New York."
"All right, we're on our way," Tommy responded. "All clear Rocky?"
The teen nodded as Adam checked the other direction.
"Then, It's Morphin Time!"
"Zeo Ranger I - Crane!"
"Zeo Ranger II - Bear!"
"Zeo Ranger III - Ape!"
"Zeo Ranger IV - Frog!"
"Zeo Ranger V - Falcon!"
"Tyrannosaurus!" Jason cried. He had managed to leave David with Stephanie while he joined the others.
When Billy had returned to Earth, he had brought with him a single Power Coin. Zordon had found a way to split the coin's energy between multiple Rangers. And while it would only weaken the Gem Coin Rangers to use that source, it allowed Jason and Billy to join the battle as minimally powered warriors.
Before the morph was completed, they were already teleporting to New York, ready to face the beast that had taken down the city's most prominent heroes. Once there they quickly learnt that brute force would not aid them, since the brutish beast had an abundance of strength and an ability to leap that was both breathtaking and ground breaking. The Ranger had a serious height deficit and despite the strength of numbers and the advantages that came through cooperation, they were unable to land any significant blows.
"Pistols!" Zeo Falcon ordered as Jason drew the demon aside with a few blows from his sword. The monster didn't seem to feel it, but given that the sword was virtually indestructible, Jason didn't mind repeating the action again and again until the creature was paying attention solely to him. "Fire!" Jason dove for the ground as five bolts of laser fire slammed into the thing's chest.
"Tommy, we need to drive him back towards the river," Zeo Frog said.
"The water?" Zeo Bear asked, confused. Adam had been teaching her tactics and she had gained a good grasp of battlefield strategies, but this recommendation made little sense given that the Rangers were less effective on water.
"We push him away from the buildings and allow Zordon to teleport us somewhere with fewer civilians," Zeo Frog told her. While not the best tactical decision, there was little choice. The collateral damage was increasing by the moment.
"This isn't going to work," Zeo Falcon realised after the beast forced its way forward despite their best shots.
"Flash Pulse!" Zeo Crane called. A stream of pink energy cut across the beast's neck.
If the blow hurt it, there was no outward gin, nor did it feel the impact from the Red, Blue and Green Rangers as they collided with their weapons and were seemingly shrugged aside. Zeo Bear seemed to have more luck as she leapt on the monster's back, using her arms to wrap around the muscular neck of the beast. She held it there until the others summoned their pistols, letting go as their combined blasts struck it in the chest, and Jason followed through with his sword.
Zeo Bear rejoined her friends, summoned her own pistol and they fired repeatedly until they could think of a new attack.
"Minion won't like it if I made all this effort only to fail," Arcana muttered as he watched the battle. In his hand he held a wooden mirror that was six inches in diameter and carved from dark wood. With the aid of his magic it allowed him to view the fight from a safe distance. He wanted to aid Minion's victory and maybe in the process free himself from Zedd's service; now the dastardly duo had returned it was only a matter of time before they remembered him and gave orders for him to secure either Serpenterra or the Zeo Crystal. Both would allow Zedd an easy victory over the Power Rangers and mean that Arcana's servitude would never end.
The Rangers had just combined their attack and his monster, whatever it was supposed to be, had taken a direct hit. So far it had displayed few of the magical abilities that most monsters possessed, relying instead on brute force, powerful claws and sharp teeth. It was obviously hungry given that it tried to eat anything it could grab.
"Hear me Iblis, Lord of Lies and spirit of darkness. I summon you from the darkest depths, come forth and power up that creature. My life as a bond." He promptly threw his arms in the air, making himself vulnerable should the demon decide to take the offer. "Make that monster grow!"
A burst of light tore from his chest and struck the sidewalk outside an old firehouse in Manhattan, shattering the paving slabs as it broke into the basement of the almost derelict building. Nobody really cared when the building started to lurch dangerously; over the years the firehouse had earned a reputation of being just too weird. Had the building's one time occupants been resident they could have fought to prevent the sudden realise of the massive amounts of psychic energy stored within that his incantation was about to use for the spell. But they were not there, having been called away on a job that required them to travel to the other side of the city.
Not for the first time in recent history the top of the building was blown off as the storage facility in the basement was compromised. Red light shot into the sky, which had darkened in response to the negative energy. The demon started to form, a multi eyed red-bodied creature that towered over the city. The top half of its body was separated from the lower section with four faced head filling the gap between top and bottom. A beam of light shot from his eyes, striking the Abomination in the back.
The beast grew. At first it appeared to just become larger, but gradually its shape changed, becoming more like something out of a Japanese monster movie, its powerful tail whipped back and forth and in the process wiped out a number of vehicles, turning lamp posts into deadly projectiles that threatened to rip the Rangers apart as they flew towards them.
"Zordon, we need the Ninja Zords!" Zeo Falcon called. He paused, reconsidered and then added: "Better have the Sky, Techno and Defender Zords ready too. We might need the extra power."
Jason took that as his cue and teleported away. It wasn't that he didn't want to fight, but since he lacked a Zord and a full set of powers, he was a liability if he remained. He was better off aiding Billy in the Power Chamber.
"Take your positions, everybody!" Zeo Falcon ordered. The five individual Ninja Zords leapt into the air. "Initiating Ninja mode!"
At Zeo Falcon's command the individual Ninja Zords started their transformation, bending and twisting until they formed the basic components of the gestalt's body. Then they merged, blending to create the Ninja.
"Online!" Zeo Falcon called.
"Power up!" the others responded as they united inside the cockpit.
The Ninja was shiny, horribly smooth and too metallic for the tastes of its pilots, something that meant that when the ogre-like creature landed its first punch, the machine barely had time to acknowledge the impact as it landed down the street, flat on its back. Inside the Rangers had been shaken by the fierce right hand.
"That thing is ugly," Zeo Ape joked.
"Yeah, and he packs a punch too," Zeo Frog added, directing the legs so the Ninja had more resistance to future blows.
"TOMMY!" Zeo Crane warned. While Zeo Falcon and Zeo Frog had been trying to stabilize the machine, they had allowed the monster to bring its powerful tail around to strike the left-hand side.
"Split!" Zeo Falcon ordered, causing the Ninja to disconnect into its component Zords, a move that should have foiled the attempt to strike them.
Unfortunately Abomination's tail kept going, striking the Bear and sending it crashing into a building.
"Tanya?" Zeo Falcon asked.
"I'm okay," Zeo Bear replied. There was a long silence. "My Zord is out of action though."
"Right," Zeo Falcon confirmed, allowing the Crane, Frog and Ape to pester the monster and keep its attention away from their fallen comrade. "Billy?"
"I'm here," the young genius replied. He had morphed and discovered that his uniform had once again changed to reflect the changes in his powers. He was now a Grid Warrior, sharing the Power Coin with Jason and whoever else happened to be using the energies at that time.
He had teleported into the Wolf, wishing he had access to the Zords he had used on Aquitar. With a shift of the controls the Wolf jumped at the Beast, its jaws locking on one of its arms.
"Individual attacks!" Zeo Falcon ordered.
The Ninja Zords were capable of fighting as individual machines and each possessed its own arsenal of moves and weapons. Frog used its tongue to ensnare the beast's legs and then unleashed a ball of flame at its helpless target while Ape hacked away with its swords.
The beast bucked and roared, making its fury clear to all in the vicinity. The Wolf was pitched into the remains of a taxicab as the Ape was shifted into the path of the flames and then used to strike the Frog.
"Zordon, send in the Defender Zords," Zeo Frog instructed. "Tommy, we need to form the Defender Megazord."
There was a blur of teleport streams as the Rangers shifted places to make the most use of their arsenal. As the beast moved to attack them, it found its way blocked as the Rangers used their Zord's ability to generate a low-level force field. Before they could retaliate though the monstrous creature managed to connect physically with its large arm, knocking them away. Although the size difference was not too great - for the Defender Megazord was a very sturdy machine - it could not resist the raw power behind each of the monster's powerful swats. The Megazord brought its flame cannon into play and there was a loud screech as it struck the Abomination in the face.
"Look out!" Zeo Bear cried as their opponent unleashed a ball of energy from its mouth that tore through Lower Manhattan.
"Change of plans, Zordon, we need all civilians cleared from the city!" Zeo Falcon cried.
"But Tommy," Alpha protested. "Do you have any idea how much energy that would take?"
"Just do it!" Tommy was getting angry. "We can't fight this thing while we have to worry about casualties."
~Those we haven't already caused,~ he amended as he looked at the crushed building that had been in the way of their battle. The monster's massive frame had caused damage to the sewerage and underground networks. Electricity and communications were out in the worst hit areas as fires raged.
The Zords were down, the last attack having knocked them flying in all directions. Its first outing as an active Megazord, and they had already damaged it. They could transfer to the Sky Zords and Techno Zords, but if they couldn't find a weakness, the monster would just keep coming.
Not far from the action was one of the few heroes yet to try his might against the demon. It had not been due to intelligence on his part, nor could he be considered a coward. It was just that to this hero, barely twenty-two and one who had seen things most humans never see, handling alien invasions was a job for the big boys like the Avengers. He'd watched them fall and wondered what he could do. Then the Power Rangers had arrived. ~What's next, turtles? Face it Spidey, this job is getting to you.~
He fired a web, swinging from one building to the next, leaping where building had been destroyed. He was small, too feeble a target for the creature to consider as he used it as his final anchoring point. He wasn't going to punch it out. He accepted that even with the proportional strength of a spider, he was still too weak to have an effect on such a monstrosity. Instead he used his speed and guile to clamber through the ogre's orange hair and dangle in front of its face.
"Spider-Man comin atcha, eat webbing chuckles!" he cried as he sprayed webbing in the monster's eyes. He made himself scarce before the monster could tear the webbing away from its face, landing on one of the few buildings he could reach. ~Well at least he's not paying attention to the Rangers. What, he's leavin?~
"Tommy, teleport is complete," Alpha called.
"Alright, send the Techno Zords to a position north east of here," Zeo Falcon instructed. "Send the Sky Zords south west and program them to lock target on the other Zords. Then get this Zord's repair systems working."
"Teleportation complete Tommy," Alpha said.
"Tommy, I long ago decided that the Rangers of Earth are capable of knowing when their actions are justified. What you propose is dangerous, but I can see few alternatives. I believe that if the cause of this destruction is removed, the city will be restored."
"Thanks Zordon. Okay guys, this is what we do..."
Music floated over the city, familiar music. The Rangers looked around, but their view was blocked as Dragonzord made its way inland.
"You need all the help you can get," the Green Ranger pointed out.
"Let's do this!" Zeo Falcon enthused. The others responded positively before teleporting to their positions.
While Adam and Rocky remained in the cockpit of the Defender Megazord, Kat teleported to the Sky Megazord and Tommy teleported to the Techno Megazord where Tanya soon joined him. With the three Zords coordinating their fire to cross at the right point, they waited for the Dragonzord to draw the beast into position.
"Lock on, here goes. Please, don't move!" Tommy prayed as he depressed the fire button, activating the Techno Megazord's impressive arsenal. The mixture of projectile and energy weapons combined with the balls of flame launched from the Defender Megazord's weapon and some of the Sky Megazord's lesser weaponry.
The creature howled like a wounded animal, spraying bolts of electrical energy into the city, the lightning effect hiding the light show taking place elsewhere as Iblis was confronted with four worn out Ghostbusters who were determined to take him down even if it meant crossing the streams and wiping out the entire city. The beast was now wild with pain and not paying attention as the weapons of the Dragonzord joined the barrage.
"Keep firing!" Zeo Falcon hollered.
Laser and rocket fire bombarded the area as the firepower of four mighty machines mixed. Buildings, streetlights, sidewalk and Zords were engulfed by the firestorm. Nothing should have emerged from such a barrage unharmed. Nothing did. The buildings were reduced to metal girders and crumbling concrete, the streets had crumbled into the sewers and the Zords while operational had seen better days. The monster was battered and unmoving, seemingly defeated by the overwhelming force. Sadly Iblis had not been contained, despite the Ghostbusters' best efforts.
With the last of his willpower, Iblis merged with the battered creature, powering it up into a new black form.
"Damage report, now!" Zeo Falcon snapped.
"Sky Megazord, no damage; Stress Fracture Cannon still available."
"Defender Megazord, structural damage and no weapons. Force field won't withstand another shock."
"We overloaded the weapon systems," Tanya told him as she inspected their machine.
"Ninja is operational, but needs time to recharge," Billy told them. "I don't think the city will take another shock like that."
"Dragonzord is down, but not out if we can build it a new foot," Sam told them.
"Any ideas?" Tommy asked. He was unsure of what to do next.
"I do Bro."
"Listen, Alpha's going to send some schematics your way. Trust me Bro, this is Billy's best idea yet. Have I ever lied to you?"
There was a small flash on Tommy's visor as data started to flow. "Aw man, can we do this?"
"As Billy would say," Jason joked, "affirmative."
"Alright guys," Zeo Falcon called to the rest of the Rangers. "Prepare to begin Secondary Merge. Zordon, retrieve Dragonzord and the Ninja before we do this." There was something in Tommy's voice the others couldn't identify. Could it be anxious excitement?
"Timing could be a problem," Jason told him. "It could take a few minutes to get things set up and teleported."
Tommy looked out of his Zord's cockpit, picking up on the red and yellow shape moving towards them at high speed. He smiled, remembering where Billy had spent three months during his work experience before he left for Aquitar. No doubt this was one of the less dangerous attempts Billy had made at building a Zord and becoming a Ranger again.
"What is that?" Zeo Bear asked.
"Remember when the news reports said the Avengers were down?" Zeo Falcon replied. "Nobody said they were out."
"Is that?" Zeo Ape asked.
"Iron Avenger," Zeo Frog confirmed. "One of Stark's little side projects his backers don't know about. Billy was there when their scientists solved the last of the problems with its operating system. In fact I think he gave him the frequency used for Megazord formation in return for the materials he needed to complete the Red Battlezord."
"You mean he sold our secrets to the military," Zeo Bear cut in. "Does Zordon know about this?"
"Of course I do," Zordon answered. "The leaders of this planet have collaborated for years in preparation for an invasion should it come. They provide support in case all else fails and promise not to try a nuclear strike. In return their scientists are allowed equal access to the theory, schematics or prototypes of some of our equipment, rarely all three. And since this was a personal project of Billy's, I have no place to intervene unless the technology is abused."
"Stark was obviously clever enough to understand the plans and duplicate the experiment. Hence the big machine heading our way," Adam said.
And behind the Megazord sized robot that was flying towards them, the Rangers could see another giant, this one very human with a younger woman holding onto his shoulder. Behind them flew a smaller version of the metal giant and another figure in grey armour.
"Keep it away from the Rangers," they heard Captain America order "Iron Avenger, Mega Punch, now!"
The Iron Avenger's fist shattered upon contact with the now black monster's body. The enraged monster twisted, bringing its massive tail around to smash into the machine. Giant Man moved forward, but was put down quickly when the creature lifted him and slammed him back to the ground. Wasp flew towards him, but a casual backhand sent her careering across the city where she landed in the river. Iron Man and War Machine opened fire, the former calling on the drones he had created using a multitude of armoured suits he had rejected during the prototype stage. While not able to cause extensive damage, the Rangers were pleased to see that finally something was having an effect.
"Look out for the..." Zeo Falcon started to call as the beast opened its mouth. "Energy blast," he finished dejectedly as the drones were turned to scrap and both Iron Man and War Machine were grounded. "Zordon, time is running out!"
"Ai-yi-yi-yi-yi, hold on Tommy, there... all is ready."
"All right!" Zeo Falcon cried. "Rangers, activate."
"What's going on?" Rocky asked.
"Just do it and you'll find out. Gem Coin Superzord power, now!"
The Gem Coin Superzord was a merger between the three Megazords and was Billy's attempt to create a concentrated burst of fire. Unfortunately it did not combine their energy reserves. The Defender Megazord reshaped itself to form the body and head while the Sky Megazord split in half to form the legs and the Techno Megazord performed a similar split to create the arms and chest plate; the various weapons from the Zords attached to the arms and legs, creating a mobile fortress.
"Gem Coin Power Sword!" the Rangers called.
The Superzord stomped through the damaged city, the Defender Megazord's Power Sword in hand. As the Rangers teleported into the cockpit, it attacked Abomination. It was faster and landed a few solid punches before using its cranial weapon to stagger the beast. Abomination tried to hurl another energy ball, but this time the Rangers were ready, bringing a heavy arm plate around to bounce the attack back to its source.
"All weapons lock on and Fire!" the Rangers commanded.
This time that barrage was virtually unstoppable as the monster was bombarded with all the energy the Rangers could draw on. Still, it would not fall. As the blasts continued to pummel it, it seemed to transform into molten rock, their blasts scarring its features until it finally cooled, now a behemoth made of sharp spiked rock. Death had come to New York.
Zeo Ape moaned as their weapon systems strained to keep up the assault. At the rate they were going they would destroy the city before defeating whatever this monster was.
"Look out!" Kat warned.
The monster had launched itself from a low crouch and was heading straight toward the makeshift Ultrazord. Spiked fists collided with the machine's chest, ripping a gaping wound in the thick armour. Further blows followed as it tried to destroy everything in its path.
"Everybody hold on!" Tommy ordered as massive hands clamped the head of the Zord and tried to rip it away from the shoulders.
"Look out!" Zeo Bear cried.
The darkness that had engulfed the Superzord as the monster's hand closed over the optic sensors cleared in time for the Rangers to see a massive ball of energy heading their way
"Reform Sky Megazord," Zeo Falcon ordered. The Superzord split, sacrificing the Drop Zord so the three individual Megazords could form. "Stress Fracture Cannon, fire!"
The Stress Fracture Cannon worked by finding weaknesses in a structure. And as they used the primary laser to test the monster's body, Tommy hoped their earlier assaults had caused some structural defects.
"Target located," Adam said as the small laser locked in and transferred the data to the computer. "Main blast now."
The large weapon flared, pummelling the weakness with explosive energy. For a moment the monster seemed to remain upright. Then it exploded.
"No! I will rule this world!" Iblis cried.
With the reason for his presence gone, he was forcibly returned to his dimension. And as he disappeared, the buildings that had been destroyed by the monster attack were restored and the civilians injured in the attack had their wounds healed. At the same time Arcana was subjected to the backlash as the magic he had invoked consumed him.
"And so ends one of the most terrifying periods in New York's history. Officials are still uncertain what transpired during the final moments; television stations reported severe technical problems during that period. A spokesman for the Avengers is reported to have said that the outcome was due to an act of extreme bravery and sacrifice, the Power Rangers were not available for comment and the spokesman refused to elaborate further."
Tommy turned off the television and moved to join his friends on the sofa. His parents were out and the Rangers had decided that this would be a better place to meet than the Juice Bar. They needed privacy.
"I hope we don't have to fight something like that too often," Tanya said. The others nodded.
Minion was pleased. When Arcana had presented him with the hyperlock units, he had been furious that the wizard had taken action without his express permission and had suspected at once that there was some sort of treason involved. After some thought though he had realised that they would make the perfect forerunners for Serpenterra. He had ensured they were positioned and had been pleased to see the signs that they would revive shortly. Better yet, Serpenterra was finally ready for use.
True Rita and Zedd returning had given him some unneeded competition and Arcana's destruction had been a disappointment; he had been on the verge of actually liking the spell weaver. Still, a few losses didn't matter so long as when the time came he was the clear winner. And Arcana had performed one last duty although unknowingly; when the injuries had been reversed, the damage the Avengers had suffered had not been, New York's elite super heroes had been effectively crippled.
He watched as Jindrax and Toxica scurried around in the Nexus, they were of no concern to him. Their usefulness was exhausted, but they didn't pose a threat to his plans and were therefore not worth destroying. Besides, their priorities were vastly different from his; it was unlikely they would ever become competition.
Now he controlled the Elemental Beasts and it was just a matter of waiting.
To Be Continued