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Sunday, June 5, 2011

431 - Fanfic REPOST - Power Rangers Zeo: Shadow Of The Dragon - PART 9

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


And now... the epilogue... that was fun to revisit. 


You know? I actually like this Sunday update... so assuming something comes up, expect a couple FANFIC REPOST entries every Sunday... more or less.


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


The victorious fleet of Aradon, after a two day travel from Earth, arrived at Gorah Khan. While the Machine Empire was spread across the galaxy and then some, many considered the planet of Gorah Khan as its homeworld. The planet was about twice the size of Jupiter, but the land territory was nothing but various rocks and mountains. Practically a thousandth of the planet contained water, but the atmosphere was fit for organics. It had to be, because without this atmosphere, Aradon's famed bio-automated technology would not function.



Eventually the fleet reached visual proximity of the Machine capital city, the largest of five cities on Gorah Khan and clearly the most cleaner. While the other four cities were similar to Mondo's space colony in terms of construction; rugged, industrial plants with fumes of smoke and acid dominating the air, the capital city bore very little of the industrial influence and hence, the city had a clean look to it, comprising of nothing more than crystal and iron buildings that would rival any Eltarian metropolis.


The highest tower located in the center of the city had various branches extended from the very tip of the high point, branches that were connected to multiple skybases and attack cruisers docked there. Below the vessels were various industrial sites and other towers similar to Mondo's machine colony, except these buildings seemed to be less mechanical and more organic in nature. The city was surrounded by a wall of fire, presumably six miles high.


Aradon looked on and smiled. Not so long ago, he only headed a small colony world and several continents. Now this planet, along with the other thousand colonies, would soon be under his rule. And he would set things right.


"Emperor Aradon," the Cog navigator said, "We have been given clearance to dock at Port Seven."


"Proceed." Aradon said, "And don't call me that yet. There's still other matters to settle before it's official."


-o-


At first, he couldn't see anything, but after squinting his eyes for a bit, Tommy found himself staring at the ceiling of the rebuilt Power Chamber. Slowly, he got himself to a sitting position, which had caught the attention of the other Zeo Rangers and William Cranston. He breathed a sigh of relief in knowing his friends were all fine and well, mostly worried over him.


Kat was the first to speak. "You alright, Tommy?"


"A bit of a headache," Tommy admitted, holding his head, "But I'll live. How long was I out?"


"We found you about an hour ago and came back here through a portal Zedd produced." Rocky answered, much to the confusion of Tommy, "You really looked like shit when we found you there, so Alpha managed to fix you up."


"We are all relieved that you were able to recover, Tommy," Zordon said, "We all feared for the worst. But I cannot help but feel puzzled by the fact that Lord Zedd had shown mercy."


"Yeah," Adam said concurringly, "I mean, I was expecting things to get ugly back there, but Zedd opened a portal and just told us to leave. No struggle, no tricks, no nothing. He just told us to leave and left."


Tommy digested the Green Ranger's assessment, but couldn't understand why Zedd did what he did when he clearly had the upper hand in the fight.


"What did Zedd mean when he said he got what he wanted?" Tanya asked curiously.


"I know what he meant." he said, the thought lingering deep within his mind. When he saw the worried looks of his friends, he simply gave a half-smile. "Forget it. I have a feeling he won't be bothering us any time soon."


The Rangers nodded in agreement, but knew otherwise.


-o-


Zedd stood on the balcony of the throne room, his eyes affixed. While the battle had long and gone, the damage he had suffered were still visible. The dented mouthpiece and cracked visor did not show any signs of reforming like they usually did, but the fleshman didn't care. His mind shifted back to that moment when he had the Ranger down, that moment when he had the chance to end the human's miserable life. He wondered why he didn't go for the kill, why he felt pity for a man he hated with a passion. His head ached with thoughts of how...


"Congratulations, Zedd," a voice said, "You have officially gone soft."


Zedd huffed, not checking for the source. "Save your breath, Gasket. By the way, I liked your new look better."


Gasket emerged from the shadows of the throne room, his consciousness returned to his original host body which remained mostly the same. The only noticeable difference was the outer 'skin' was a bronze color rather than silver.


"I said I'd deliver him to you in one piece, Zedd." he rebutted, his lips moving naturally, "My 'new look' was a temporary body while this body got fixed."


Zedd thought of an insult, but went against it. "So how does it feel to be a half-breed?"


"Not as bad as expected." Gasket answered wittily, stretching his arms a bit, "Suddenly I realize why Mondo and Aradon hate each other."


"How does it feel to be in possession of a power coin?"


While he knew it was intended to strike a nerve, Gasket merely considered the question deeply before answering. "Without the Dragonzord and the instrument to control it, all I have is a powerful artifact that has given me powers I've never dreamed of. It's damned good. To think I almost rejected Aradon's bio-automation proposal, because my new organic components are the only thing enabling me to utilize this coin."


"Bio-automation?" This was the first Zedd had heard of it, but then again, he hadn't been keeping up with Machine Empire politics considering he was busy with other matters.


"Aradon came up with it. It's the integration of organic components into the machine infrastructure that would result in enhanced performance. At first, I thought the whole idea was ridiculous; organics are much weaker than machines and the process seemed more of a downgrade than an enhancement. But then he said that bio-automation would allow me to use this coin, that a pure machine would never be able to harness the full power of this coin. So I accepted his offer, transferred my consciousness into a prototype while this body was getting worked on by his scientists. And the rest... well, you know."


"So the attacks on the Rangers was nothing more than a test run," the fleshman asked, "You needed to rid yourself of your father for this plan to work."


Gasket nodded. "Now that I'm back in my old body, I feel better than before. More so now that I have access to this coin's true power." He wanted to say more, but quickly silenced himself when he took note of Zedd's posture, which gave a message of disinterest and fatigue.


"If you don't mind," Zedd said, "it's getting late and I'm tired."


Gasket watched silently as Zedd walked out of the throne room. Suddenly Zedd stopped, his muscles frozen in place. The next few minutes caught Gasket off-guard as he witnessed Zedd scream in rage, lifting his throne and tossing it at the rotating fan, smashing it to the other side of the wall. Zedd dropped to his knees, breathing heavily and hard.


"So the fight with the Red Ranger had taken a toll on you, hasn't it?" he said perplexingly, "In any case, I have matters to settle. We will meet again when you've regained your spine."


As Gasket turned to the balcony, Zedd slowly got to his feet and raised his right hand. From his fingertips, a lightning bolt formed and struck Gasket in the back, causing him to stagger on the railing. Zedd quickly vanished from his spot and reappeared right behind the former prince, grabbing him by his throat. Zedd's body began to glow a faint red as he lifted Gasket by the neck.


"You may have aided me in ridding myself of your father," Zedd said, "but my business with the Red Ranger is none of your concern."


Gasket tried to speak, but Zedd's grip tightened.


"Remember that regardless of what upgrades or weapons you have acquired," the fleshman said angrily, "you are still no match for me."


Finally, Zedd tossed Gasket onto the chamber floor. The Machine Prince managed to roll over as he landed on the floor and soon made it back to his feet. He thought of strike back at Zedd, but thought against it. Instead, he merely nodded and crossed his arms. Soon enough, Gasket vanished and Zedd found himself alone in the throne room. He turned to the smashed fan and with a wave of his hand, the fan was restored along with the throne placed in its proper space. The fleshman looked around for a moment before leaving the throne room.


The halls of the palace seemed rather quiet compared to a few hours ago when he heard the rampant marches of Rock putty soldiers scattering about searching for the Rangers. Now, aside from the occasion wind whistles, there wasn't any sound. No screeching sounds from Rita, no stupidities from Rito, not even sounds of Goldar's degrading groveling that had been an annoyance. Quite frankly, Zedd enjoyed the dead silence of the palace. After five minutes of navigating halls, Zedd stepped into the master bedroom, where he saw Rita Repulsa sitting by the corner reading a rusted hardcover book.


"So?" The sorceress asked without removing her gaze from the book.


Zedd tossed his staff aside and stared at Rita. "So what?"


"That is the question, isn't it?" Rita said rhetorically, again her eyes not swaying from the book.


The fleshman groaned once more before looking at the emerald planet through his chamber window. Shaking his head, he closed the window door, blocking the view, and went into the back closet.


"I'm tired, Rita." Zedd said in admission. "I'm going to bed."

-o-

Mondo sat idly in his chamber, contemplating his future as his most hated rival was about to claim leadership of the Machine Empire. Then he had conflicting thoughts on how Aradon would not get to be Emperor while he was still standing, as well as worries that the Empire would go along with the new leadership. In the end, his mind shifted to attempting to formulate an escape plan, for without Mondo to bring in, Aradon would be shunned from leadership.


Almost on cue, he heard loud explosions from the higher decks and sounds of intense weapons fire close by, which had caused the three Cog guards to position themselves in front of the main blast door. Then it all happened quickly; the blast doors are destroyed with a bomb and the pieces of debris fly all over the brig, decapitating the three guards and impaling them with pieces of metal. From the smoke emerged several old-style Cog soldiers led by a larger robot with antennae on his head. The larger bot raised his hand towards the control panel and fired a beam, destroying the panel and shattering the Plexiglas that had sealed Mondo in. With confidence, Mondo slowly stepped out of his prison a free man.


"General Venjix of the Royal Guard," the large robot said as he kneeled before Mondo, "I am here to serve the true leader of the Empire, King Mondo."


Mondo raised his hand, signaling the robot named Venjix to stand. "You are doing a great service to the Empire by freeing me," he said, "What of my family?"


"We managed to acquire their parts and brought them aboard our ship," Venjix answered, "We must not delay, sire. Aradon has sent for reinforcements and our small crew cannot fight a battalion of half-breed Cogs."


Mondo nodded in agreement. "Let's get out of here then."


And so, Mondo, General Venjix, and his Cog crew left the brig behind and fled for their ship. Almost immediately, Cog forces led Mondo to the medical bay where he would be treated for damage. But the external damage that Mondo has suffered this day will be healed. The damage done within his very being will take longer to mend, but Mondo has no time for that now.


He has to prepare for war.

-o-

The sleek shuttle landed gingerly on the surface of the moon as Gasket stood, holding the power coin firmly in his hand. As it landed, Gasket placed the coin on his chest armor and watched as the armor absorbed the coin within. Turning his attention towards the shuttle, he noticed the side door opened and saw a figure wearing a maroon-colored cloak with gold linings step out and slowly approach Gasket.


"It's about time you got here," Gasket said. "You'll be happy to know that the coin still works, much better than I anticipated. However, the Dragon Dagger has been destroyed by the Red Ranger and so the Dragonzord is inaccessible. As agreed, in exchange for your services, I will give you the information you need to create your 'secret army.'"


The cloaked figure said nothing. In fact, he pulled from his cloak a circular datadisk with the insignia of the Machine Empire on it. Various burn marks and cracks were clearly visible.


"What is it?" Gasket asked, before noticing the damaged datadisk in his hand. "Where did you get that?"


Gasket took two steps towards the cloaked figure before starting to feel somewhat nauseous, something that he hadn't felt before. When he recovered, he noticed the cloaked figure pointing a blaster at point blank. By the time Gasket recognized the threat, it was too late to do anything about it, for the burst had short-circuited his systems.


The cloaked figure watched as Gasket staggered back and forth before the former Machine Prince eventually fell to the ground. Standing over the twitching body of Gasket, the cloaked figure removed his hood, revealing the face of Thomas Oliver, only with few differences. For one, he had streaks of white hair among a head of long, flowing shoulder-length gray hair and he had a tiny bit of gray facial hair on his chin. There was a long scar that ran across his left eye, but the eye itself is healthy.


"Pathetic machine," he muttered as he kneeled down and effortlessly punched through Gasket's outer armor, plucking the green coin from his innards as he pulled his fist out, "Did you really think I would let you keep this?"


Gasket looked in utter shock on as 'Thomas' examined the coin and tucked it in his pocket. His mouth moved, but no words came about.


"This was on loan so you could challenge my 'original,'" he said, "My being there would have aroused suspicion, but they never would have suspected you. And they didn't. As far as they're concerned, they think you stole the coin when you found my 'grave' somewhere... out there. You thought that my body was well preserved because of the increasing powers of the coin, so you took it and allowed me to rot in the tomb.


"But you didn't count on me being alive, did you? The fact didn't compute that this clone, sent several hundred years to the past because he couldn't co-exist with his 'original', was still alive and in healthy condition. It never occurred to you that the person you were dealing with to offer you safe haven to Earth was the man whose tomb you've raided. Admittedly, I thought of surprising you when you raided my tomb, but since you were so insistent on fighting my original, I let you keep it for the time being. But not permanently, I assure you. And now, my friend, as a once-almighty tyrant used to say, 'it's time to pay the piper.'"


'Thomas' waited for Gasket to respond. After a few seconds, Gasket shook his head nervously, his mouth muttering what 'Thomas' recognized as naughty words, but no voice came out. 'Thomas' merely sighed as he aimed the blaster directly over Gasket's forehead and pulled the trigger. The blast was enough to disable the robot for good. 'Thomas' watched as the robot twitched until it laid there motionless. Satisfied with the turn of events, 'Thomas' allowed himself a grin.


"Wizard was right when he said I could never die, that I have an immortality code built in," he chuckled, "But fooling you and my 'original' was the easy part." He turned his view towards the emerald planet known as Earth. "Take a good long rest, Tommy-boy, and enjoy life as you know it. Because when we cross paths once again, there won't be any of that good versus evil bullshit to get in the way of that dream fight you and I are destined to have."


With those words, the clone of Thomas Oliver, the creation of the deceased Wizard of Deception, boarded his shuttle and left the Earth, Gasket's inactive corpse, and his 'original' behind, contemplating what the future has in store...

THE END?

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