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Friday, July 10, 2015

2428 - Power Rangers: Zero Hour - SIX

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

Note: This chapter has been recently revised from its originally published version.


-o-

The haunting shell of the command Dark Fortress slowly came into view to the people of the ravaged town of Angel Grove during the silent afternoon hours. It was mostly silent due to the lack of fighting, since the Space Rangers had been repelled and possibly driven away. The five de-morphed teens, who gathered with the rest of the crowds, looked on intently as the fortress slowly made its way towards the top of one of the high buildings still standing, where it slowed down to a halt and levitated over the building.

After what seemed like agonizing moments, a green beam shot from the underside of the command base and everyone cowered. The beam did not destroy the building, but instead from the beam emerged two figures. One was a black-skinned grid warrior, while the other was a human female... and new leader of the United Alliance of Evil.

Within the small crowd, the Rangers looked on as Astronema watched over the crowd like a ruler would over her disloyal subjects. Random thoughts ran through their heads, but only one thought passed through the mind of Andros that would dominate his thoughts ever since the news of her ascension to her current rank had been announced. That this was all a dream and that he would save his sister from the spell that still controlled her mind.

"People of Earth," Astronema called out, "For those who don't know me - and I promise, after today that number has been reduced significantly - I am Astronema. Today you have witnessed a fraction of the power I have at my disposal! Even as we speak, forces fighting under the banner of the United Alliance of Evil are emerging victorious and most of the universe have either surrendered or been conquered.

"I can see a bunch of ragged, dirty, fallen Earthers in the crowd." She quickly scanned the crowd as she spoke. "And yet I see some people are conspicuously missing. I don't see those Power Rangers. Where are those heroes of yours now? Hiding among you in disgrace because my forces had beaten them senseless!" A brief smattering of concerned gasps and mumblings follows, which Astronema lets on before she continues. "This is not acceptable! I achieve my greatest triumph and the Rangers are in hiding! I should probably take my frustration out on all of you and end your pitiful little lives once and for all!

"But I'm not going to do that," she said, much to Ecliptor's surprise - or lack thereof. "At least not now. Instead I'm going to give you Earthers a chance to save yourselves. All you have to do is produce the Rangers and your world will be spared. If they are not here by tomorrow morning, then I will destroy this planet and kill everyone on it." She paused for a moment to let her words sink in before continuing. "I hope for your sake that you will do the... right thing."

And with that, the new Queen of Evil and her consorts returned to the Dark Fortress, just as quickly as they appeared. Soon the Fortress slowly flew out of sight and into orbit, leaving behind millions of frightened humans.

-o-

On the bridge of his flagship, Mondo had seen the declaration of Astronema as Alliance leader and brushed it off as insignificant. He had also seen reports related to other parts of the galaxy, where the Alliance has either conquered or are in the process of conquering a majority of worlds. Of course, Mondo knows that despite their great numbers, the Alliance can't hold this galaxy down forever.

Not as long as there's resistance, Mondo thought, and not as long as their forces are spread out.

His thoughts were interrupted with the abrupt rocking of the ship. He veered towards the main viewer to see a couple of Alliance cruisers - under his command no less - suddenly open fire on his own ship. Almost immediately, his own fighter squadrons had launched to counter the sudden defectors, but Mondo realized that the number grew from a few vessels to a dozen. To say that Mondo was shocked and angered was an extreme understatement and his body quickly vented gas.

"What in blazes is going on?" Mondo shouted, "Why are Squadrons C and D attacking us?"

"It must have been some hidden protocol Aradon planted into some of the Cogs, my liege," Venjix reported, "I am getting similar reports from ships in Squadrons 3F through 8P."

None of what Venjix was saying registered to Mondo as he looked in horror at the fiercesome firefight breaking out of control in orbit of the Machine homeworld. Suddenly, Quadrafighters and other scout fighters that had launched off from the planet below or the various capital ships under Aradon's command made their attack runs, opening fire on Mondo's loyalist star cruisers. From the very star cruisers formerly under his command launched several more fighters. In mere seconds, hundreds of thousands of Machine ships were firing upon each other, not caring about who they hit or who they destroy. Mondo watched as his glorious plot of retaking the Empire slowly crumbled before his eyes.

To Venjix, he said, "General, make a run for the capital. I have an impromptu meeting with the false Emperor and I have no intention of being late."

Venjix complied and started barking orders to other Cogs while Mondo made his way off the bridge.

-o-

"It won't be long." The words spoken from Ninjor were cold, devoid of emotion; the opposite of his usually cheerful demeanor. Although he could clearly see his surroundings, he was quickly going color-blind. Shades of grey were the only thing he would be to see in a short time.

"Ninjor, try to stay with me." Kimberly had already wrapped the open wound with as many cloths and rags as she could possibly find, but no matter how many layers she added, the blood slowly continued to trickle through the wrappings and leak to the ground, where a slowly growing puddle of crimson liquid laid calmly.

"Kim, don't," Ninjor pleaded, coughing every few words, "It's already too... too late for me."

"No, it's not. You just have to..." She turned away in frustration and took a long breath before she turned back to the ailing master. "I can't fight all those guys on my own! Even with these new powers, I can't face those odds!"

Ninjor shook his head weakly; even that was a struggle. "You won't have to. Not if this enchantment works."

Kim raised an eyebrow. "What enchantment?"

Ninjor was silent for a moment, only heavy breathing that made Kimberly uneasy could be heard from the armor.

"Ninjor, don't leave me hanging."

The ninja master attempted to sit up straight. "Even if I were fully healed, we are still outmatched and we will eventually lose the battle... and the Temple. The only way to win this fight is for you to undergo the trial of the Ranger Sentinel."

"The Ranger what?"

"Ranger Sentinel," he explained, "In the days of the Nathadian Order, they were considered the honor guards of the Order. Beings with control of the Power that goes beyond any Ranger."

"Oh," replied Kim weakly. "And you want to make one of these Sentinel things?"

"That's right," he coughed, "You're already showed more ability to command the Power than any other Ranger. The enchantment is an essential formality that enable you to hone that control and so that you don't succumb to dark forces."

"Alright," she said, "And how do we pull this off?"

"By infusing my life force into you."

Kimberly's jaw dropped in response, not believing what she had just heard. "Come again?"

"My life is ending... whether I bleed to death or not. But once I'm dead, my powers and secrets will be vulnerable for the taking. By transferring my life force to you... it'll ensure its safe-keeping and..." A hard cough interrupted him before he continued on. "And it'll be of great help to you... in the battle... against the evil forces."

Kim stood there shaking her head and holding both hands out. "I can't do this, Ninjor. It's too much."

"You can do this, Kim," the ninja master stammered, "You're a... an honorable person with a good heart. It's also because you... you could use the power coin's true... power without going... insane."

"I've felt pain when it happened," Kimberly argued. "I don't think I can handle it."

"If you couldn't handle it... you wouldn't be here now." The master let out a hard cough, clearly struggling. "The pain is your body coming to grips with the Power... too much for any Ranger... but by infusing my essence into you, you can control the Power... and perhaps finish the fight."

"If that was the case," the former Pink Ranger replied, "Then why was this recent instead of when I was still a Ranger?"

"The knowledge implied use of the original coin," Ninjor said, "And if they lacked power, the knowledge was useless."

"Until the coin gradually regained its power." She heard herself mutter out and suddenly, it seemed all the more clearer. "Is that why I could do this power booster you told me about? Because it's all premeditated?"

"It's a little... more complicated than that," Ninjor struggled to get the words out. "You'll understand once we do this... if we do this..."

Kimberly gave the plan a little more thought and in her heart, she knew that this was the only option available to them. That didn't make it any easier, but Kim knew that there was never such a thing as an easy decision. So after some hesitation, she had made her decision.

"Alright," she replied, "When do we begin?"

-o-

"I'm telling you guys one thing. I don't care how high the stakes are, I am never gonna ride that shuttle ever again!"

The voice of Rocky DeSantos echoed within the strange corridors as he, Adam Park, and Jason Lee Scott walked through several passages. After a light source had mysteriously taken them from the battle-ravaged Angel Grove to a strange area of unknown origin, the three former Power Rangers decided to leave the shuttle and check out the place. A half-hour of scurrying corridors later, the only thing evident about their present location was that there were plenty of corridors and very little doors or entryways to indicate anything.

As they walked through the empty halls, Rocky looked around the corridors a bit, particularly its structure. "You know, these corridors almost look like the ones under the old Command Center."

Adam stopped for a moment and looked around. "You're right, Rocko. Could we be there now?"

"Only one way to find out," Jason said, "Do you remember your way around?"

Neither Adam or Rocky gave an answer, but Jason didn't wait for one. Instead, they kept walking down the corridor. For the next hour, all they did was navigate through an endless network of corridors which all seemed the same. It wasn't until they reached a large heavy door that things were looking up. The three former Rangers kept their distance from the door, not knowing what to expect. Much to their surprise, though, the doors opened and within it was a darkened chamber that was indistinguishable from where they were, yet bore an aura of familiarity. For some time, the three were somewhat hesitant in actually entering the door.

"Any takers?" Jason asked.

Rocky shrugged. "Your call, man."

Jason sighed. "Let's do it."

Rocky looked up and let out a hard breath as Jason and Adam stepped through the doors. After some hesitation, Rocky followed and looked around a little more closely at the darkened room. After taking a few steps, the doors that the three entered the room with closed by itself and faded from view, startling the three.

"What's going on here?" Rocky asked.

"Don't ask, Rocko," Adam replied matter-of-factly. "I'm just about as confused as you are."

Jason didn't say anything, but did take note of his surroundings. The chamber they were was eerily similar to the original Command Center, but the overall design, choice of colors, and dim lighting made it seem as though this particular chamber was older than any of the chambers he had seen before in his Ranger years. Although he was certain that he's never been here before, he couldn't help but feel a sense of familiarly and nostalgia, something he wouldn't have been feeling this unless he had been here before.

As the three Rangers got closer to the set of consoles, they noticed two familiar characters working on opposite sides of the circular platform. One of them, a well-built young adult in his early twenties, took noticed at the three new arrivals and momentarily waved his hand.

"Hey guys," the other person greeted, a young thirteen-year-old boy who was also working with the console.

"Billy? Justin?" Rocky was confused. "What's going on?"

"No time to explain right now," Billy said, "We need to commence Stage Two of the experiment."

"What experiment?" Adam asked, puzzled.

"Project Prodigy" was Billy's sole reply.

Rocky and Adam momentarily dropped their jaws at the mention of Prodigy. Although they have heard of Project Prodigy at some point or another during their Ranger runs, they had no idea as to what it actually was. Jason, who also had no idea as to what the project referred to, simply looked at Billy in awe. He shook away the feeling when the weight of the situation at hand came to light.

"I'd hate to break this to you, man," Jason said bluntly, "but we have a full-scale invasion all over the universe."

"So I've heard," Billy said, "All the more reason to commence Stage Two."

"I don't believe this," Rocky blurted out, "what could be so special about this Project Prodigy thing that it's much more important than trying to end this war?"

Billy stopped working and sighed before giving his newly arrived friends his straight but simple answer. "Because if Stage 2 goes through, we can win this war."

-o-

On the planet Nemesis, a growing group of monsters stand before a rock formation that leads to Ninjor's temple of power; a temple whose entrance is currently sealed by interdimensional magic and a blockade that resulted from a potent spell of the ninja master. To that end, after some time of trying to "dig out" an entrance with their hands, they've decided on a new method of entry, one that would gain them instant access to the temple. Even now, a small group of soldiers are in the early stages of assembling a device that will hopefully re-open the portal to the hidden temple. It'll take some time for the device to completed and even then, an hour might be needed before the assembled device can be activated.

In any case, they have patience. Because the Temple will fall...


End SIX

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