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Sunday, June 5, 2011

429 - Fanfic REPOST - Power Rangers Zeo: Shadow Of The Dragon - PART 7

Originally Published on FF.Net: November 2003 to May 2004


Disclaimer: The author would like to clarify that Power Rangers and its characters is owned by Saban Brands and not the author.



The Red Battlezord cockpit had various hanging wires and circuit plates were scattered all over the place, but William Cranston wouldn't have it any other way. Even with a few tools at his disposal, the seemingly impossible task of restoring and retrofitting the zord to full strength and then some seemed almost trivial to Billy. Of course, the alure of returning to action after nearly a year of inactivity, even for one time only, more than made up for the apparently sluggish rate of progress. It has been a while since he had this much work to be done, especially since his duties at Aquitar have been meager at best.


Billy surveyed the innards of the defensive console and, satisfied with what he had seen, he slowly replaced the console back in place. Just as he was about to move on to another part of the Battlezord, Tommy's voice boomed through the intercom.


"Billy, I got the scanners working in the Power Chamber," he said. "It looks like it's working good."


"Excellent, Tommy," Billy said, "See if you can find the other Rangers."


A short pause before Tommy answered grimly, "I just did. Still can't find them."


"Damn," Billy cursed. "So this is going to be tougher than I had hoped."


"How are your retrofits on the Battlezord?" Zordon asked.


"Slowly, but smoothly," Billy said, "It's taking me a while to refamiliarize myself with the basic algorithms and specifications to the hardware, but otherwise I'm making progress. Within a short while, I'll have some extra surprises in store for our enemy."


"Good work, Billy," Tommy's voice blared through the audio speaker. There was another pause before the Red Ranger spoke again. "Are you sure you want to go through with this? Even with your newfound ability to pretend you're Superman, you've been out of action for quite a while."


Billy considered Tommy's words before finally answering. "I may be a little rusty, but I can still get the job done."


"I've no doubt," said Tommy, "I'm heading out to scout. There's a disturbance about three klicks from here."


"I'll join you shortly, man," Billy replied, "Good luck."


"You too."


-o-


"Lord Aradon?"

In the Captain's Chamber, the Cog officer through the communications system had broken Aradon out of his trance, caused by scanning through various documents and messages in the computer database, most of which seemed mesmerizing and intriguing. Various facts and figures Aradon had looked up concerning the Machine Empire, as well as official orders given to him by the Imperial Senate of the Machine Empire, who had monetary control over the core Machine colonies while Mondo was spearheading campaigns. Aradon suddenly formed a wide grin on his face upon reading several pages concerning political control.

When the Cog officer through the comm system repeated himself, Aradon pulled himself together and answered. "Yes?"

The voice blared loudly through the speakers. "Mondo has awoken, my lord."

Aradon nodded in approval. "I'll be right down."

Upon saying so, he gingerly pulled himself from his chair and exited his quarters to meet with the fallen king.

-o-

The last thing he could remember was meeting Zedd on the surface of Earth's moon. The blast from the surprise bomb took him and his royal family apart. He'd see the Winnebago that Zedd owned driving away as his remaining batteries slowly withered away into emptiness, eventually shutting down his systems.

When he awoken, he found himself in a holding cell of a skybase. Of course, the cell looked a little better than what he was commonly used to. Rather than rusted panels and steel bars, the cell had bright pastel-colored panels and the cell was sealed off with a super-durable Plexiglas material that he knew was experimental. Sitting beyond the chair was a figure that Mondo knew all too well.

"Welcome home, my 'majesty,'" the figure said mockingly. "I trust my crew has taken good care of you."

"Aradon." Mondo said the name with absolute disgust.

A Cog messenger (blue 'jumpsuit' and platinum-plated head) approached Aradon and whispered into his ear. Aradon nodded and sent the messenger away, waiting to make sure he left before turning back to his prisoner. Aradon smiled as he gazed on his captive adversary.

"Where are you taking me?"

"Gorah Khan, my 'liege'," Aradon said, almost mocking Mondo, "We're going home so you can stand trial for your crimes."

Mondo stood there and stare. Aradon couldn't tell if Mondo was worried or angry; the old constructs made it difficult to convey facial expressions effectively. Aradon didn't really care either way; he was really anxious to tell Mondo what he had heard from the homeworld.

"I have some good news and some bad news," he said, "The bad news is that you've been stripped of your crown. Apparently, the Imperial senate had decided that having a traitor for king of the Empire was 'bad' for publicity. But then again, so is a traveling king who is more concerned with dealing with a bunch of petty children rather than trying to remove the Empire from the slump that it's in."

Mondo stared ahead, almost in shock or anger. Although if his jaw could drop, it would.

"The good news," Aradon continued, "is that the senate is considering handing over all political power to either myself or your estranged son, Gasket. Of course, since no one has seen my son-in-law around, they might hand it over to me and I'll declare myself emperor. Just to screw with you."

Mondo was still silent, but that silence spoke volumes.

"It'll be funny," Aradon said enthusiastically as he slowly walked away from Mondo. "The Empire hasn't had an Emperor since the beginnings of the Empire all those eons ago. I'm sure I'll be able to clean up the mess you've made on the image of the Empire."

Again, Mondo said nothing.

"Please, don't play the silent game with me, Mondo," Aradon said agitatedly, "I know you want to come out and tear my gears out. You want to rip my innards like nothing!"

"Your innards aren't worth ripping out, you half-breed bastard!" Mondo finally screamed, his voice echoing in the near-empty brig, "You think stripping me of my crown is going to put me away? You think a trial is going to put me away for good? You're wrong! Those Ranger runts may have defeated me once, but I came back! And I'll come back from this! Your threats mean nothing, Aradon! Nothing!"

Aradon stood there as Mondo continued his rambling. Part of him wanted to drop the force field and blast the fat robot out of his misery. The other part wanted to let Mondo babble for awhile, as it was quite amusing.
Let him vent, he thought, I have some time.

"You think you'll just claim the title of emperor and everyone will follow you? You may have supporters within the colonies, supporters within the senate, but I have loyalists willing to be destroyed in my name. Not everyone will support a pitiful excuse of a machine such as yourself."

Aradon took several steps towards Mondo's cell. If it wasn't for the forcefield, the two would practically be nose-to-nose with each other.

"If you're willing to risk a civil war just to lay claim to your pathetic little crown," Aradon sneered, "then I welcome it. Because as the attack on your little Earth colony has proven, my armies can destroy yours without a single loss. Of course, you can always stand trial and spend the rest of your outdated existence rotting in a detention center."

Mondo took a moment before answering in a calm voice, "Up yours, you pompous ass."

Aradon flinched, not expecting such a response from Mondo. "I'll have a software decoder pass by and check your linguistics programming." he said calmly yet aggressively, "All that time in Sol System has caused you to develop some bad habits."

Aradon turned back and walked towards the exit, leaving the soon-to-be-ex-king alone in the brig.

-o-

After an hour of searching through the mountains, Tommy had spotted the stranger and the Dragonzord nearby some mountains and cliffs. He kept himself hidden for the most part to ensure that the stranger did not notice his presence. This was vital to maintain this element of surprise, because if this plan fails, things can fall apart real quickly. While studying the overall site, Tommy noticed something on one of the armor plates of the Dragonzord's outer body. Upon further inspection, he realized it was a blast mark; most presumably from one of the hard blows that he had delivered in his earlier fight with it. While the Dragonzord was indeed a formidable foe, it grew weaker as each battle progressed. It needed to return to its resting spot to recharge, so that the next time it emerges, it will be fully vitalized. Green coin or not, the Dragonzord cannot endure battle after battle without rest. Knowing this, Tommy assumed that the zord hadn't had a chance to rest, thus the stranger isn't all that familiar with it.

Tommy raised his communicator arm and whispered, "Billy, are you ready?"

-o-

In the cockpit of the Red Battlezord, Billy eased himself with the controls of the Battlezord, which he had configured to operate on his thought waves, but also added conventional piloting controls in case the mental controllers couldn't hold up. Upon hearing Tommy, he activated the comm system.

"All set, Tommy," he answered, confidently, "I'm going in."

Billy flipped the farthest switch to his left. Upon doing so, the Battlezord fired a proximity missile from its left shoulder which had struck the Dragonzord in the side of its head. The missile didn't do much damage, as Billy predicted, but it did get the Dragonzord's attention... and so did it gain the attention of its master, who drew the Dagger and played a haunting melody. The Dragonzord fired several of its own missiles at the Battlezord, but none of them made contact with the zord as Billy piloted towards the Green Ranger's old zord, launching another proximity missile straight for the Dragonzord's chest plate. Again, little damage was done, but the Dragonzord failed to counter and Billy had his opening.

The Battlezord threw the first shot at the startled zord and then followed up with various jabs and straight punches in rapid succession. The Dragonzord tried but couldn't keep up with the onslaught of furious punches and jabs that the Battlezord executed and it was getting pummeled. One hard jab across the chest plate of the Dragonzord had caused a small explosion to occur, knocking the massive zord down. Billy sighed and turned to the ground, where the stranger pulled out the Dragon Dagger and played the familiar tune. Upon hearing it, Billy tapped on a comm button and uttered one word.

"Go!"

Upon hearing the signal, Tommy leapt from his hiding place and tackled the stranger from behind. Both were rolling across the dirt, with Tommy struggling to take away the dagger and the stranger struggling to keep his Ranger from succeeding. After several rolls, the stranger was on his back, but delivered a fierce headbutt across Red Ranger's head, which not only got Tommy off but also cracked the visor of the Ranger's helmet. With the stranger back on his feet, he pulled out the  replica Sword of Darkness and raised it above his head. Almost instinctively, Tommy pulled out his Zeo pistol and fired a concentrated blast at the sword, vaporizing it completely. He quickly followed that up with a kick to the stomach and a tackle to the ground.

Meanwhile, Billy had little trouble keeping the Dragonzord at bay with its rapid punches. Suddenly, a hard impacted rocked the Battlezord and caused some sparks to fly from the back of the cockpit. That's when he realized that the Dragonzord had used its tail to stop his momentum. Billy attempted to fire another proximity missile, but computers indicated that the launcher was inoperable as a result of a lucky shot. Cursing himself silently, he went for the second gimmick. Pressing a button, the Battlezord's visor began to glow intensely. After three seconds of charging, the visor fired off an energy blast, enough to pry the Dragonzord to a distance. When the beam dimmed, Billy saw the damage it had done; the Dragonzord's chest armor had been completely destroyed, revealed charred innards. Its tail drill, the zord's best weapon, appeared to have been ripped off or incinerated as a result of the attack; it was really hard for Billy to tell. While it was damaged, it was not defenseless, as demonstrated by the dozens of concussion missiles that the Dragonzord had launched from its finger tips at various points of the Battlezord.

The missiles pierced through the outer shell of the Battlezord, molten pieces of metal and inner circuits detaching itself from the body. The mental control mechanism, which had been used to control the Battlezord to begin with, had been destroyed as a result of a lucky shot. In the cockpit, Billy maintained his composure despite the fallen circuit boards, exploding consoles, and hanging wires around him. He tried in vain to get any semblance of movement to the zord in, even a simple head nod, but nothing happened. Almost desperate, he switched to the zord's manual controls, a feature that was largely untested because so much emphasis was placed on the mental control system. He tried again, and was relieved when the Battlezord managed to walk, albeit a bit more slowly.

"Tommy, I can't keep this up!" Billy shouted over the comm system. "I'm taking a beating here!"

On the ground, Tommy delivered a stiff kick to the side of the stranger's face. The blow was effective enough to have staggered the stranger, resulting in his dropping the Dragon Dagger. Realizing this, Tommy instinctively jumped at the dagger and managed to claim it. Collecting his bearings, he noticed the stranger running towards him and extended the dagger forwards. The stranger tried to stop himself, but soon found himself with the dagger sticking into his chest. With a quick motion, Tommy pulled the bloodied dagger out and stared blankly as the stranger dropped to his knees and eventually onto the ground.

With the Dagger on hand, Tommy pressed the whistle part of the dagger against the mouthpiece and began to play a melody. Suddenly, the Dragonzord halted its advances towards the Battlezord and proceeded to return to the sea. Tommy continued with the melody until he knew the zord had returned to the depths of which it came. Of all the things Tommy tends to be forgetful of, he was glad not to have forgotten how to use the Dagger. He turned to the cockpit (head) of the Red Battlezord, where Billy gave a thumbs up, indicating all was well.

"Head back, Billy," he said through his communicator, "I'll follow in a minute."

Billy did as he was told and piloted the Battlezord as Tommy looked on. Unbeknownst to Tommy, the stranger was slowly getting up, but was pretty silent about it. Tommy, not realizing the stranger behind him, placed the Dragon Dagger on a nearby rock and took a couple steps back. Almost hesitantly, he pulled out his Zeo Pistol and set it to maximum power. For a full minute, Tommy stared into the stained weapon of the Green Ranger; the key to commanding the Dragonzord. Finally, with great reluctance, Tommy aimed his pistol at the dagger and pulled the trigger.

The stranger's eyes widened as he saw the beam from Red Ranger's pistol traveled until it made contact with the Dragon Dagger. Almost instantly, a small but blinding explosion forced both the stranger and Tommy to cover their eyes. When the stranger looked back up, the dagger and the rock that held it were gone... for good.

Tommy sighed heavily. Turning around, he paused to see the stranger slowly get back to his feet. Tommy went into a defensive stance, but the stranger took a step back, his hand covering the wound caused by the now-destroyed dagger. Tommy dropped his guard and almost felt concerned about the well-being of his adversary, despite their battles.

"Do you have a-any idea as to what you've done?" he asked.

"I've put an end to the Dragonzord curse," the Ranger answered, his voice heavy yet unwavering, "I've made sure no one will ever use it for evil purposes."

The stranger huffed and examined his wound, which had stopped bleeding red. "You've been an excellent diversion, Tommy." he replied, "Haven't missed a beat since our last encounter."

Tommy examined the stranger more thoroughly before speaking again. Whoever this stranger was, he sounded human. "Who are you?" he asked, determined.

"It doesn't matter," the stranger answered amusedly, "You want to see the other Rangers, right?"

Tommy's face hardened when he heard the word "Rangers." He asked, "Where have you taken them?"

"Old stomping grounds, Tommy," the stranger said as he reached for something in his pocket, "You should be quite familiar with them. You've been there before. On the moon."

Tommy looked towards the stranger's hand and noticed it coming out with a closed fist. As soon as the stranger raised his arm towards Tommy, his fist opened, revealing the Green Power Coin. Before Tommy could react, a beam of green energy shot from the coin and struck onto the Red Ranger's chest, quickly covering him in green flames as he began to disappear.

"By the way," he said as Tommy faded away, "Give Lord Zedd a message for me."

The stranger stared onto the empty spot where the Red Zeo Ranger had stood. Slowly, he pulled off his bandages and cloth hood, revealing a robot head of Machine Empire design. There were some outer metal pieces similar to some of the more sophisticated droids, but the top of the head revealed the presence of an actual organic brain well fitted into the head. The face had the basic constructs similar to Mondo or Sprocket, but in place of the typical yellow eyes, it had baby blue human eyes... natural organic eyes. His lips ever so naturally as he spoke once more.

"Tell him Gasket sends his complements..."

TO BE CONTINUED...

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