Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers; they belong to their respective copyright owners and are used here without permission. No money is being made from this fic.
Authors Note: This is an alternate universe from the television show with an alternate timeline.

Gasket's Knockoffs

The Power Chamber,
Late night

Despite the warm temperatures of midday, at night, the desert outside of Angel Grove was extremely cold. Very few humans were foolish enough to travel through the desert at night without a warm jacket. Beneath the rapidly cooling sand, something moved and it was something, which could not be considered human.

The sand above it shifted as a mechanical arm extended from beneath the surface. At a height of four feet, the protruding cylinder split to reveal three legs. They extended out and down towards the surface, forming a tetrahedron with the arm as a vertical support. There was a loud crack as the legs locked into place.

A small aerial emerged from the top of the structure, aimed towards Angel Grove. It sent a small burst of data, reporting that its first objective had been secured: it had survived intact and avoided detection. Two signals were sent in return. The first was a confirmation of the original message while the second provided additional instructions.

The aerial retracted as a second motor kicked in to retrieve the arm. But with the tripod in place, the motor had the opposite effect and hauled the rest of the machine to the surface. Even as compressed air tanks were blasting the sand away from vital bearings, the tripod had been detached. It would be needed for a later for her escape.

Her name was CyberAgent, a strange name for one of her construction, granted to her to aid in fitting in on Earth. She was a creation of the Machine Empire, the latest development in Prince Gasket's ever-increasing arsenal. While the prince lacked the materials and resources of his father, he made up for it with tactical thinking, sound strategy and innovation. He was not afraid to improve upon an existing idea in order to benefit from the results.

She looked human, more human than the average Cog could accomplish. Synthetic skin grown under Klank's supervision, allowed her to duplicate things such as tears, sweat, and body odour. Even her programming was adaptive, designed so that she could fit in with the humans. It wasn't really important to her current mission, but the results of this unofficial testing were being forwarded to Gasket for review, the mechanical monarch intended to build further models that could replace the Earth's leaders.

If interrogated by a friendly processor, she would respond that her mission was espionage. In essence, she was a Cog with upgraded interaction systems and a few extra parts. She was expendable. She had been positioned in the ground during an early attack on the city of Angel Grove, taking advantage of the blindspots in Zordon's satellite network.

She had remained buried, using sonar and other instruments to learn about her surroundings. She was still a significant distance from her target and would need to move soon so as not to lose the cover of darkness. She shut down as she sensed a probe passing over the nearby desert. She wondered what was going on.

The probe ended and CyberAgent could tell that the situation was in her favour. The beam she had detected had been strictly passive - Zordon had not known she was there. It had also been a detailed surface scan of the area, suggesting that Zordon was being especially watchful in this area. That meant Zordon was hiding something. ~Good.~

She sped through the desert, using short-range teleportation in case Zordon had a secondary detection net. Soon she came to the mountains where Rita and Zedd had reported the old Command Center had been positioned. Her master had anticipated there was a good chance that the Power Chamber was hidden under the old citadel. For now, though her mission did not include finding the Rangers' hidden base.

It was a longer climb than she had expected, but eventually, she reached the site of the old Command Center. She had expected to find ruins, but apparently, somebody had thought ahead to rebuild.

She pointed at a small space a few metres away and watched as a small unit of Cogs appeared. They had been painted black to maximise the darkness and their joints had been well-oiled to reduce noise. Their task was simple: locate the entrance for the Command Center and then the wiring that controlled it. Another Cog equipped with more detailed scanning equipment was studying the walls, looking for signs of weakness while Cyber Agent kept to the shadows. If detected the Cogs would be destroyed and she would be left to finish the mission.

A beep from the lead Cog revealed that it had finished. She downloaded the data and sent the unit to scout the rest of the mountainside. Gasket's research, using Mondo's records revealed there was a secondary post somewhere in the mountains that the Rangers had used during the development of their Red Battlezord.

She studied the information, highlighting the weaknesses the Cogs had found. The Power Chamber was extremely secure. Zordon had managed to seal the new headquarters off from the citadel using heavy barricades and magical wards. There were safeguards against incursions and explosives; any attempt to tamper with the high-tech scanning system installed in the old Command Center would trigger defensive mechanisms. She doubted she would survive.

Luckily in his carefully thought-out protection of the Power Ranger's current headquarters, he had made a fatal oversight. While currently used equipment could not be tampered with and it was futile to attempt a break-in, the old computer core had been left unprotected. While that core had no direct access to their new computer and could not affect their operations, she calculated the odds were favourable that she would be able to use it to initiate a data feed with the Power Chamber's backup files.

Her optical sensors danced over the various devices placed to detect intruders. Plates beneath her feet revealed she had already tripped several alarm systems. She would just need to be fast and finish before Zordon noticed.

CyberAgent initiated contact with the computer, relieved there was no security to bypass - deactivating any security systems would trip background programs and expose her insertion - but she was slightly put out that with all the advanced technology at his disposal, Zordon had only installed a small serial modem. While she directed, her efforts into navigating the Rangers' data store automatic systems took over her body's functions to keep her alert. It was fortunate that Zordon had changed data cores when he moved to the Power Chamber. It meant the old computer system had been there for Billy to use in his Zord building project. And now the information he had gathered belonged to her mechanical master.

"File Error: 000A-000F at Sector ..."

The screen went on to list a continuous stream of data errors caused no doubt by the bomb Rito and Goldar had left in the building. Her attempts to retrieve data concerning the Red Battlezord and Zeo Zords were blocked. She retrieved as much data from surrounding files, hoping it would be enough and withdrew from the system.

As the data feed finished, she transmitted a small program of her own into the computer's processor. It would not hurt the Power Chamber, but no doubt it would prove useful later. She sent a final disconnect command and removed herself from the core. As she did so she triggered all the protocols Zordon had installed during the building of the Command Center. Without power to report though, the alarms remained silent and the crime was undetected while the computer sent urgent messages to its successor. When Zordon and Alpha eventually discovered the break-in, it would be too late.

Now Cyber Agent just needed to escape.

"Marvellous," Gasket proclaimed as he reviewed the data his spy had retrieved for him. He had sent Cyber Agent back to Earth with orders to await further commands. In the meantime, she was to fit in as well as possible. "With these schematics and superior Machine Empire technology, we can show those Power Rangers what a real arsenal is like. Klank, begin work on manufacturing these machines. I expect the first batch shortly... Father will be so pleased when I present him with a new army and demonstrate its success by conquering Earth that he will probably scrap that little squirt Sprocket."

"Yes, you're right dear," Archerina answered.

"Come, my love. Let us observe the construction process."

"Yes," she answered excitedly.

The data Cyber Agent had retrieved were the schematics for the Zords used by the Power Rangers to defend their planet. The file containing their current Zords had been corrupted after the intrusion had been detected. Still, even without those designs, he found detailed plans for the original Dinozords, the reformatted models that went on to become the Thunderzords, the Ninjazords and the Shogunzords along with their respective Carrier Zords. There was also sufficient information on the Battleborgs for Klank and Orbus to recreate the full plans, using the Shogunzords as templates where needed.

Once a production line was established, it would be a simple matter of duplicating each Zord. Even with the typical lack of imagination shown by most machines, Klank could predict the result of an army of Saber-toothed Tigers or even Dragonzords marching through the world's capital cities.

Klank was swift to obey his ruler, or at least the member of the Royal Family most likely to have him melted down at that time. He had deployed Cogs to begin the necessary work that would bring the huge production centres online. This was a large project and for the first time since its arrival in the galaxy, the Machine Sky Base would be expanded to cope with the scale of Gasket's scheme. The artificial atmosphere was increased to the correct levels. Despite common belief, the Machine Empire did require an atmosphere to work efficiently. Their computers functioned more efficiently when maintained at the correct temperature; Cogs could move better when there was at least minimal gravity.

With a high-pitched whine that cut through the Machine Base, the huge turbines started to turn, filling the complex with power. And as the power filtered into the dormant machinery - this part of the base had remained unused for months - the Machine Empire's manufacturing plants came to life.

At first, it produced only the labour force that would be needed to perform the next stage of production. Hours later there were thousands of those modified Cogs ejected from the foundry into space, along with the raw materials they would need to build another factory. This one was specially made for Gasket's new weapons. It would create the tools that Gasket would send to finish off the Rangers. But the Cogs would not stop at one production centre; they would continue building others, each dedicated to a single Zord. And once established, those foundries would operate until they had amassed an army. Then the conquest of Earth would truly begin.

While the Cogs worked on the factories, Klank and Orbus were busy elsewhere. Gasket had been eager to deploy his new machines but had failed to specify how they would be controlled. Cogs would pilot the first generation of Machine Zords, but the generations after that required control programs. Between them, Klank and Orbus hoped to manufacture a brain unit to operate those programs.

Hours turned to days and the machines worked tirelessly. As the Cogs ran low on oil, new units, whose first programmed task was to recycle their predecessors into useable components, replaced them. Thus the process continued without lapses as construction slowly took shape.

"The first Zord is ready," Gasket told his silent audience.

Queen Machina remained quiet, unwilling to upset her eldest son, Sprocket wisely held his audio circuits in check around his older sibling. Archerina was at her husband's side, admiring the work and genius of her husband.

"I shall send it to Earth now and those Rangers will learn what it is like to face a real battle machine."

"But Sire," Klank protested. "This was just the prototype."

"I don't want excuses Klank," Gasket told him. "Begin work on the next batch of Zords immediately."

Klank garbled something in binary about wishing Mondo was back and went to obey his master's orders.

"You should listen to Klank, Gasket dear," Machina told her son.

"Please Mother, the day I take advice from servants is the day I shall truly be deemed unfit to rule the Machine Empire as its rightful king."

Power Chamber

The alarm had sounded.

"Ai-yi-yi-yi-yi!" Alpha exclaimed. He shuffled around the various consoles, interrogating the computer. "That's the Ninja MegaFalconzord! It is attacking Angel Grove! Oh dear, is nothing sacred?"

"I am afraid not Alpha," Zordon replied. "It would seem our enemies have somehow managed to reproduce one of the Rangers' previous Megazords. I doubt Rita and Zedd have the skill to do so, which means this is likely Gasket's work."

"Oh Zordon, this cannot be good," Alpha said as he checked the readings. "I've detected abnormal energy readings from inside."

"Gasket would not have access to the Morphin Grid to power his machines," Zordon reasoned. "He is likely using an alternate source, which is what you are currently detecting. Regardless of the threat, this threat must be dealt with. Summon the Rangers."

"Yes Zordon, I understand." Alpha shuffled between the consoles, his circuits burning with electronically processed emotion. "Why couldn't it have been Pudgy Pig?"

One by one the Rangers appeared. Billy was the last to arrive since Alpha had refrained from calling him until the last minute. Alpha and Zordon had become increasingly concerned by Billy's behaviour since he had given up his place on the team. They had both agreed that the teenager needed to spend more time in the real world and fewer afternoons lodged under a pile of spare parts.

"All here," Jason said as he caught sight of his former teammate and a man he considered to be one of his best friends.

"Finally," Tommy muttered as he in turn nodded to Billy.

Billy's expression turned to a scowl for a moment before he regained control of his emotions and settled down to business. "What's the emergency, Zordon?"

"Rangers, I have unfortunate news: one of your enemies has found a way to resurrect your expired Zords. Behold!" The Viewing Screen activated on cue and the Rangers were given their first glimpse of the Ninja MegaFalconzord, hovering like a dark angel over the Little Japan section of Angel Grove.

"That's the Ninja MegaFalconzord," Rocky agreed, "but what is it holding?"

"Yeah, when did that Zord gain a Power Sword?" Tommy added.

"I believe Gasket has made some refinements to the original designs," Billy told them. "The lack of a Power Sword, or hands for that matter, was always a drawback for that Zord. On the other hand, the lightweight design makes it an ideal choice."

"Those changes to the design could prove a problem," Adam frowned. That was true, if Gasket had made one change, who was to say he hadn't made other alterations?

"More importantly, can we destroy it?" Tanya asked.

"In theory, the Zord should be no stronger than one of Gasket's regular monsters," Billy said.

"But?" Kat asked, sensing the hesitation.

"If Gasket somehow got hold of the plans for the original Ninjazords, there's a chance he was able to replicate their shielding and strength. In which case defeating it will prove difficult."

"In that case, we won't gain anything by sitting here talking about it," Tommy said.

"I agree," Zordon added. "Rangers, you must confront this new menace before Gasket sends it into battle. No doubt if he is allowed to do so he will seek to damage your reputations. By releasing the Zord over the city, Gasket has already made your task more difficult. The Zeo Zords will have a difficult time navigating through Little Japan without causing structural damage."

"We'll have to worry about any damage afterwards," Tommy sighed. He paused for a moment in thought. "Alpha, can you teleport citizens from Little Japan to another part of the city?"

"Theoretically," Billy answered before Alpha could argue. "We would need time though to configure the teleport system."

"You have two minutes," Tommy said, hardly glancing at his friend.

"How about leaving the citizens and moving the Zord?" Rocky suggested.

It was a simple plan, but the idea of moving a single large object was preferable to hundreds of small objects.

"Affirmative," Billy smiled slightly. "I should be able to force it to move to an uninhabited area outside of the city. Doing so will drain the Power Chamber's generators so if you need to be brought back here in an emergency..."

"Let's just make sure it doesn't come to that, then," Adam nodded.

"Let's go guys," Jason said, shooting Billy a sympathetic smile. He knew what it was like to be an observer.

"It's Morphin Time!" Tommy cried.

"Okay Alpha, this is what we do," Billy explained as the Rangers vanished.

"Aw man," Tommy said as he laid eyes on their opponent for the upcoming battle.

The machine they faced was indeed a fake, a fact that was easy to see. The colours were too metallic and far too shiny; the outer shell looked weak and flimsy. The sword it held resembled the Fire Sabre of the Shogun Megazord and was already ignited, ready for a swift strike and rapid victory.

"We need the Zords," Tanya said, tapping her leader's arm and snapping him out of his daze. She had never known the Ninja Zords or the connection the Rangers had shared with them.

"You're right," Tommy agreed. "We need Zeo Megazord power, now!"

On Tommy's command, the secret hangar in which the Zeo Zords were kept opened, and the great battle machines accelerated through the tunnel exit that ran beneath the mountainside.

"Let's do it, guys!" Tommy called to the others. With a fierce battle cry, he leapt skyward and streaked toward the Phoenix. His team-mates did the same, transporting themselves to their own Zords.

"Zeo Zord I, online," Kat stated as she secured herself in place.

"Zeo Zord II, ready!" Tanya reported.

"Zeo Zord III, rarin' to go!" Rocky added.

"Zeo Zord IV, here to kick some butt!" Adam continued.

"Zeo Zord V, flyin' high!" Tommy finished, to complete the cycle.

He took a look around the cockpit to see that all systems were running smoothly and then checked his main display. The Ninja MegaFalconzord was hovering to his right, still some distance away. There was easily enough room to make the transformation if they hurried, although even the Zeo Megazord would have trouble with that flaming blade.

Unfortunately, the Cogs controlling the Zord had decided to prevent the Rangers from gaining an even footing. It swooped down, sword swinging as it dived towards Zeo Zord III. It overshot the target, choosing instead to strike the chain binding the machine to its cargo. The chains held, but the disruption dislodged the pulling platform. Zeo Zord I swerved, pulling Zeo Zord III with it as both machines tumbled. The chain finally broke as the Zords slid in opposite directions.

"Kat!" Tommy called at almost the same time as Adam and Tanya exclaimed "Rocky!"

"Adam, keep it busy down there!" Tommy called. "We need to give them time."

"You got it!" Adam replied. He switched channels briefly to speak to Tanya. "I have to let you go, will you be all right?"

He could almost hear the amusement in Tanya's positive response. He couldn't afford the time to worry about her though. Zeo Zord III and I were still unmoving, and the occasional shower of sparks erupted from its overstressed joints.

Zeo Zord IV lowered its head as it charged towards the Ninja MegaFalconzord, turning abruptly as the winged executioner soared towards it. Adam shifted course, drawing the machine away from his friends.

While the aerial Zord followed the speeding Zeo Zord, Tommy shifted the Phoenix into a screeching power-dive, he watched as Adam's Zord, tiny from his current height, managed nonetheless to weave a complex path of avoidance.

"Adam, right turn!" Tommy ordered, pulling out of his dive and firing all weapons.

A series of explosions hit the Zord's winged back. He nudged his Zord under the stunned metallic ninja; by this time Tommy had decided that regardless of appearance, this was not the Ninja MegaFalconzord he had known during his days as a Morphin Ranger. That made destroying it all the easier. He pulled out and shifted direction, bringing his Zord's armaments in line for a second barrage that rocked the sword-wielding warrior. But before he could fully pull out, it raised its sword arm, allowing the fiery blade to tear at the edge of the Phoenix's wings. The Zord tumbled as Tommy struggled for control.

Flying Zords are extremely delicate. The structural requirements of the wings are such that any damage will affect the aerodynamics and bring them crashing to the ground. Luckily, the power of Zeo gave the Phoenix just that little bit of extra magic to enhance the superb technology Billy had managed to create. Despite the tear, the magic was sufficient to maintain the airflow as the mechanical bird flew away.

"Cutting thrust, extending wingspan." He talked quickly, his words aiding his memory as he followed through a procedure intended to allow the Zord to repair itself. There was a sudden kick as the air pressure changed and the Zord was drawn higher into the air.

"Tommy, ditch the Phoenix and switch to Red Battlezord," Billy told him. "You're already two Zords down, and the Phoenix won't make that much difference."

"All right, autopilot set to land, teleporting now." He left the cockpit in a column of red light. "Red Battlezord, power up!"

Kat wasn't hurt, just helpless. The Zeo Zord had twisted in such a way that the internal structure had distorted. Now instead of shielding her from injury, it prevented her from moving her arms. The communications systems were damaged, not surprising since they were close to the point where the Zord had rolled.

Luckily the mental interface between Ranger and Zord was still operating and while she couldn't aid her friends, she had a clear view of what was happening. Unfortunately, while she could fire her Zord's weapons with the correct series of thoughts, she needed her hands to aim them. Unless the Ninja MegaFalconzord happened to slip into her crosshairs, she was out of the battle.

Zeo Zord III was intact and for the most part, so was Rocky. Had it not been for the lifeless controls, lack of data displays and refusal of the engine to start, he would have been fully operational.

"Must have shorted something when I crashed," he said, remembering Billy's lessons on how to get the Zords up and running in an emergency.

Securing himself firmly in his seat, he twisted sharply to the left while pushing back on the seat. There was a loud 'CLUNK' as the springs holding the seat in place were released, raising him by a few inches while shifting the seat back slightly. A mechanical lever appeared where the floor panels had been; they had shifted downwards.

"Here goes," he said.

Placing his feet on the lever, he pumped it up and down six times, listening to a series of clicks as the backup electronics were activated. The lights on the console flashed in sequence as the systems were restored. The Zord was now back in action, once he found a way to shift it to the upright position.

While he was waiting for the Red Battlezord to arrive, Tommy watched the ongoing battle, not that there was much fighting with only Zeo Zord IV capable of moving. The Taurus was still running, drawing the Ninja MegaFalconzord on a seemingly random chase. In fact, it was clear that Adam knew exactly what he was doing, timing each turn so the flying Zord couldn't lock onto him. And all the while Zeo Zord II's turret was moving as Tanya watched for the right shot.

This continued until one of the Cogs noticed the second Zord moving. Deciding to pick on the immobile Zord, the winged ninja changed course, barrel-rolling towards the vulnerable turret.

Tanya however had not only seen this threat approaching, she had counted on it. "Eat this!" her voice sounded over the communicator, and then she fired all of the Zord's potent weapons, as the opposing Zord slipped into range.

"Here we go," Tommy, said as the Battlezord came spinning into view above. Tommy again leapt skyward, teleporting himself to the cockpit of the great human-shaped Zord.

"Red Battlezord, ready!" he transmitted to the others. "Break off your attacks. Adam, see if you can get Rocky and Kat upright. Tanya, are you okay?"

"I had a little scare there," Tanya managed, her voice somewhat strained. "I'm okay now though."

"Glad to hear it Tanya," Tommy replied. "INCOMING! YEE-HAH!"

With a fierce cry, he prompted the Zord to spin even more rapidly than normal. He held his course, the Zord's fists extended until they came into contact with the MegaFalconzord's chest. It bounced backwards from the impact, spinning head over heels until it came to a stop.

"Tommy, I have Zeo Zord III back online and an idea," Adam said.

"Good, because I'm not gonna be able to hold him long!" When he had finished bouncing, the ninja was on him again and in his Zord's position, he lacked the leverage to keep the Fire Sabre away.

"Hang in there," Rocky told him.

"We're almost ready!" Adam replied. "Rocky, start scraping!"

The two Rangers had reattached the chains to their Zords, connecting Zeo Zord III and IV together. But now instead of drawing the two gun-zords into action, the chains had become a powerful weapon.

"Let's go!" Rocky cried as the two Zords took off across the ground, the chain flailing between them.

"Tommy, force it a bit higher," Adam instructed.

Tommy closed his eyes, forcing all his mental abilities into making the Red Battlezord raise its arms a little higher. He succeeded as the Ninja MegaFalconzord head was raised into line with the chain.

"Accelerate!" Adam instructed.

"Full speed!" Rocky confirmed.

The Zords reached their maximum speed seconds before they raced past their opponent, the chain they carried striking its target. The two Zords continued to move, circling their target and binding it in place.

"Now Tommy!" Rocky cried as both Zeo Zords stalled and managed to shrink towards the ground.

"This is it guys," Tommy said. "Here I come!"

Tanya was getting frustrated. Her Zord was perfectly operational, she was in excellent shape, but due to the fact that Adam was not pulling her, she was immobile. Still, as she had shown, lacking mobility did not make her helpless; her Zord had proven its worth during this battle at least.

~If I could get to the Super Zeo Zord, I could cause even more damage.~

Still, that was not to be. So instead, she found herself waiting for an opportunity that might not even arise. Her guns were aimed high; she was going for the headshot.

When Adam had nudged her Zord back to a vertical yet very unstable position, Kat had been freed from the restraint of her own restraints. However, her relief had turned to frustration upon realising that her Zord's turret was still jammed at an impossible firing angle and that for all intents and purposes, her Zord was next to useless for this battle.

"Guy's this is Kat," she said. "My Zord is crippled and I'm teleporting back to the Power Chamber."

"We hear you, Kat," Tommy replied. The relief in his voice was evident as she vanished.

The Red Battlezord tore into the bound Ninja Megafalconzord. Pushing the hydraulic rams to their full, Tommy directed the Zord's fists to strike repeatedly at the exposed chest, shoulders and wings. Tommy was keen to ensure the machine could not take flight again.

"Fire!" he called, causing his Zord to shift from rapid punching to strafing its target with rapid gunfire.

The Ninja Megafalconzord struggled, slipping the chain that bound it and launching into the air, crossing Tanya's line of fire as it did so. The single shot ripped open the Zord's face, exposing it as Gasket's creation; the inside of the head was filled with Cogs as well as the machinery that could only be described as alien.

"Tanya hit it again!" Tommy ordered.

She obeyed and the machine dropped to the ground.

"Now together!" he instructed.

Red Battlezord and Zeo Zord II fired. Zeo Zord III and IV charged from opposite directions, their chain bouncing shredding metal back towards their target. Until finally the massive piece of Machine Empire engineering collapsed and exploded.

It took a few moments for Tommy to realize that he was all right. Once he did, he got his Zord back under control and brought it to its feet. "Check in with me, guys. You all okay?"

"I'm fine," Adam groaned. "Can't say the same about the Zords though."

"Did we get him?" Rocky asked, weakly.

"You bet  we did," Tanya replied, triumphantly.

"Billy, anything you can tell us from your end?" Tommy asked.

"Looks like you got it," Billy affirmed. "My scans show nothing moving. Oh, and Kat got back okay."

"That's great Billy," Tommy answered. "We're on our way."

The Rangers had returned to the Power Chamber where Billy and Zordon were reviewing the battle, move by move. The former was making notes as he did so; keen to fix any obvious flaws in his creations that had not been caused by operator error.

"My initial observations of the remains on the Ninja Megafalconzord confirm it was a carefully constructed fake," Billy told them. "I'm designating it as 'the ninja' for the remainder of this discussion."

The other Rangers didn't object.

"Gasket or Mondo, whoever it was that activated this machine was not playing," he continued. "The construction seems to have followed the schematics down to the last detail. Fortunately or unfortunately, they chose the wrong designs."

"What do you mean Billy?" Kat asked.

Billy sighed. "The design they used was not based on the Ninja Megafalconzord; it was a series of plans I drew up before we obtained the Super Zeo Zords. I was trying to recreate the Ninja Zords and incorporate some of the improvements we'd noted during our days as Ninja Rangers." He paused to look at Tommy. "Such as the lack of hands creating a serious disadvantage in battle."

"So how did the Machine Empire get your designs?" Tommy asked. He didn't say anything directly, but his eyes looked accusingly at the former Blue Ranger.

"I don't know Tommy," Billy admitted. "There was only one copy of these plans and they were stored on a computer file in the Power Chamber."

"You must be mistaken," Tommy told him. "Maybe you had a second copy and forgot about it."

"Tommy, if Billy said he only made one copy, he only made one copy," Jason said, interjecting before the two friends ended up arguing. They had been at each other's throats a little too much recently.

"Sorry Billy," Tommy said after a little prompting.

Billy smiled in return and the incident was ignored.

"Tommy does raise an interesting query," Billy said. "If there was only one set of plans, how did the machines get them?"

"I am certain it is Gasket," Zordon rumbled. "I have not detected any evidence of Mondo's return."

"Let's hope it stays that way," Jason said. The others agreed.

"Agreed," Zordon said. "Alpha, begin a complete security scan of the Power Chamber's computer system."

"Ai-yi-yi, yes Zordon," Alpha said as he went to work.

"Billy, were there only plans for one set of Zords in that file?" Adam asked.

The others exchanged nervous looks as the implications became clear. If Gasket had plans for more than one set of Zords, and the facilities to construct more than one set of Zords, then they were in serious trouble.

"Houston, we have a problem," Adam murmured as he noticed Billy twitch slightly. Out loud he asked: "What's the status of the Zords?"

"Phoenix should be operational again within the hour, Zeo Zords II, III and IV just need to recharge and a few minor repairs; Zeo Zord I suffered the worst of that attack. The turret is mangled and will require replacement, most of the aiming mechanisms need realigning, and its towing platform was crushed when it tipped over. However, if I can devise a way of moving the Zord into position, it should still be operational for Megazord formation."

"Hey, why don't you manually form the Megazord in the Power Chamber and fire it through the Launch Cannon?" Tommy asked.

"That would prevent you from using the Zords individually," Billy pointed out.

"We can still use the Super Zeo Zords," Tommy countered.

"And the Red Battlezord," Adam added.

"And don't forget the Warrior Wheel," Tanya said.

"We need to know everything we can about the ninja," Tommy said. "We need to know where to hit it if Gasket decides to repeat this plan."

"Fortunately Gasket and Mondo rarely utilise the same plan twice," Billy said. "Although there are always exceptions."

"Will there be more of them?" Tanya asked. "I mean, if they downloaded plans for more than one set of Zords."

"Undoubtedly," Zordon answered. "I believe the ninja was incomplete or as Billy stated, a prototype. If Gasket has the schematics for real Zord technology, we could be seeing many more such attacks."

"Yeah and next time they might pick something really dangerous," Tommy said.

"At least this explains what Gasket's been up to lately," Adam frowned.

"Zordon, how would Gasket build one of those?" Kat asked, causing the others to look at her. "I mean Zords are bigger than your average robot."

"You are correct Katherine," Zordon said. "Alpha, when the security scan is complete, initiate a new search pattern centring on the Machine Sky Base. We need to know if there have been any additions."

"Ay-yi-yi," the diminutive robot fretted, wandering from console to console. "That will take time, Zordon."

"In the meantime Rangers, I suggest you try and rest," Zordon said, ignoring the little robot's comment. "I will contact Trey and seek permission to use Pyramidas if necessary."

"Right, let's go guys," Tommy said. He disappeared, followed closely by Kat and Rocky. Adam and Tanya smiled at each other and the two teleported away.

"Are you coming Billy?" Jason asked.

"Negative," Billy answered. "I need to assist Alpha with his security scan."

"No Billy," Zordon boomed. "You are as much a part of the team as any other Ranger and my instructions apply to you as well. Now, go and relax before I have Alpha eject you from the Power Chamber."

"Yes, Zordon," Billy answered, sounding resigned as he and a very smug-looking Jason teleported away.

"How can those Rangers continue to triumph when made to fight against their own technology?" Gasket asked, clearly enraged that his machines were somehow inferior.

"It wasn't the Zords that were superior, it was the pilots," Orbus blurted out.

"WHAT?" Gasket bellowed with the machine equivalent of a snarl. "How dare you compare those humans to my Cogs?"

"But Gasket dear, you must admit those Rangers have the advantage of experience," Machina pointed out. "They have fought against countless monsters and operated the machines themselves. They know the weaknesses they can exploit."

"Yes Mother, perhaps you are right," Gasket, conceded. "My Zords need the same experience that those Rangers possess."

"How will you manage to do that?" Sprocket demanded. "It's not like the Rangers will just share their experience."

"For your information, squirt," Gasket growled, "I have no intention of asking the Rangers. I intend to take what I need and perhaps gain a new ally in the process. The Zeo Rangers have humiliated the Royal House of Gadgetry for too long. Since we cannot defeat them, we will assimilate them. And we'll start with that leader of theirs."

"A great plan my love," Archerina cooed.

"Of course it is," Gasket answered. "By this time tomorrow not only will the Rangers be defeated, but it will be their own leader who vanquished them."

Another failed scheme, well several failed schemes if you wanted to be accurate. Gasket's plot to kidnap Tommy and transform him into a weapon that the prince could use against the Zeo Rangers had almost succeeded. Sadly, primitive human emotion had overcome the advanced neural processing of Gasket's machine. Tommy had escaped and had then managed to unravel two more plots that Gasket had set in motion.

But it didn't matter. While using Tommy as a weapon had been an enjoyable failure, at least one of Gasket's plans had come to fruition. Between the memories Gasket had taken from the Red Zeo Ranger's mind, and the complete analysis Klank had made of Zeo Ranger V's helmet with its built-in data recorder, the Machine Empire now possessed the combat experience of Tommy Oliver. Furthermore, Klank had managed to draw information from the other Zeo Rangers' helmets while he had been interrogating Tommy's headwear.

He now possessed the raw data his creations had lacked in the past and would use it to program them accordingly. In all the confusion surrounding Tommy's disappearance, the Rangers had seemingly forgotten about the Machine Empire's Zords. For Gasket, however, stealing that information had been a key part of his plan. Now he was close to unleashing his creations upon the Earth.

The Cogs had followed the downloaded plans without question, reproducing the machines in every detail, including their control systems. Unlike the first machine he had sent down, these had been tested continuously for signs of weakness or failure. Every fault had been repaired along the way and in some cases, changes had been made. The Battleborgs had been replicated through guesswork and careful testing at each stage of development. While outwardly resembling the originals, they had been forcibly adapted since the plans had completely overlooked the issue of Cogs lacking telepathic abilities. Given that Gasket was not relying on Cogs this time that hardly seemed to matter. Although it did raise questions about why the control systems were kept in place.

It took a mechanical eternity before the first of the new Zords rolled off the production line. The Red Tyrannosaurus towered over the conveyor belt and was soon joined by the bulky form of Titanus. When the Dragonzord design had been deemed a failure and had been abandoned, Gasket had ordered Klank to find an alternate method of creating the Ultrazord. Klank had ordered a second Titanus and altered it so that the Dragonzord would not be required. It was not a perfect likeness, more a bodged-together collection of parts that performed the desired function. Tor had been more difficult to replace since its original design had not been in the database, so the Thunderzords were left without an Ultrazord mode.

Soon they were lined up on the lunar surface. Gasket had decided they should attack in their gestalt forms, a move that had annoyed Klank since building the Megazords was easier than recreating five Zords that could unite. A computer program, something that irritated the royal retainer's circuits, had replaced the Cogs he had originally planned to operate the machines. Gasket had taken the greatest war machines Klank had ever made and turned them into mere monsters. Not that Klank really cared once his systems erased the thought; he wasn't programmed to care only to succeed.

"Those thermo cells are inefficient compared to Cog Oil," Gasket noted as he inspected the finished machines.

"Aye young prince," Klank agreed, "but they weigh less and allow these beasties to move faster."

"An acceptable compromise this time," Gasket nodded. "My father wouldn't understand though. He'd say something along the lines of: 'A warrior does not need speed, just a good strong body'. Ensure that all future models are given 'real fuel'."

"Are they ready yet?" Sprocket asked as he waddled over to his brother.

"Of course they are you pint-sized shrimp," Gasket replied. "Now be quiet and allow me to work. All I need to do is infuse them with energy."

So saying, he pointed his sword at the inactive machines and unleashed a bolt of power. The Zords' eyes flashed as they grouped together and transformed into their gestalt modes. The Dino Megazord, Mega Tigerzord, Red Dragon Thunderzord, Shogun Megazord, Ninja MegaFalconzord, the Battleborgs, and of course two versions of Titanus, stood ready.

"Go to Earth my legion of Zords," Gasket ordered. "And do not return until you are victorious."

The machines came to life, nodding obediently before leaving the surface of Gasket's base.

End of Part

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