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Friday, July 10, 2015

2431 - Power Rangers: Zero Hour - THREE

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-

Although only twenty four hours had passed since the ultimatum had been dropped on the city of Angel Grove, to the frightened civilians and captives, those hours seemed like days. None of them had been able to divulge any information concerning the Rangers, unknowing of their presence behind a damaged minivan. After a short time, the Dark Fortress shot a green beam to the nearest building and from it emerged the new queen Astronema and her bodyguard Ecliptor. Their sudden appearance had caused a shudder among the fearful crowds, whom felt compelled - for whatever reason - to look upwards.

Astronema surveyed the crowd, but couldn't find the Rangers anywhere. "So where are they?" she called out, "Where are the Power Rangers? Someone better give me an answer or I'll destroy this planet!"

No one stepped forward, infuriating Astronema.

"You cowards! You would sacrifice your own planet just to stay hidden from me? Is that how you would like to be remembered as?" Her tone slightly lowered as she addressed the crowd. "One more time, where are the Power Rangers?"

Again, no one answered. Astronema's patience had grown thin.

"It seems that they're willing to keep them hidden from you," commented Ecliptor, "They'd rather die than give you what you want."

Astronema hissed, stamping her foot at the edge of the building. "Fine then."

"What are we going to do?" Ashley cried. None of the Rangers had an answer.

"You had your chance to give me what I want," Astronema told the crowd, "And you couldn't give me that one simple thing. None of you deserve to live. It's time. Let the destruction of..."

"Wait!" A voice called out, stopping Astronema from giving the rest of the order. Her eyes scanned the crowd, trying to trace the source of the voice. From the crowd of frightened people emerged a man, slightly overweight with a head of hair and a ponytail. When she saw this, Astronema shook her head. As did Ecliptor, who didn't know what was going.

"I am... the Blue Ranger," Farcus "Bulk" Bulkmeier declared... almost proudly. "You'll never succeed as long as I'm around."

"And I am the Black Ranger." A slender man, Eugene "Skull" Skullovich, emerged from the crowd and stood besides his longtime friend since childhood.

It wasn't long before a third man, the older Professor whom Bulk and Skull had associated themselves with over the past year, emerged and stood between the two friends. "I-I-I am the-the Red Ranger."

Bulk and Skull snickered to each other briefly and both silently mouthed, "Yeah, right."

"Incredible" was all TJ Johnson could mouth having witnessed the scene, which wasn't close to being over as several more citizens stepped forward and identified themselves as being Rangers.

"I can't believe this," Ashley mused with wide eyes.

"They're standing up for us," Carlos added.

Before long, there would more than twenty "Rangers" standing before Astronema, who looked neither impressed nor pleased with what she had seen.

"Fine, then. If you all want to be Rangers," she growled, "then you'll die with them! DESTROY THEM ALL!"

At that moment, everything went to hell. Quantrons and Paranatrons, moments ago idle, were now harassing the "Rangers" and other citizens. Energy bolts from Astronema and Ecliptor struck a few people down, but didn't seriously harm them. The swarm of grunts soon became overwhelming and it seemed as though all their efforts to buy time for the Rangers had been all for naught.

"Hold it!" a voice called out. "We are the Power Rangers!"

The crowd looked on to see four familiar students from the high school show up. Almost confirming what they had heard and said, the four teens were soon joined by a fifth, whom Bulk recognized as the new kid Zhane. The crowd of civilians looked on at the five teens who had made the bold declaration of their true identities and in the seconds that confirmed their claim, the five extended their arms outwards, activated their wrist devices, and in a flash of light, the five teens were replaced with the forms of the Power Rangers, which had cause some level of applause from the civilians.

"THEM?" was all Bulk and Skull could muster, although the thought had pretty much crossed everyone's minds. Before long, the five Power Rangers - Black, Pink, Silver, Yellow, and Blue - jumped into the sea of monsters and began hitting anything that moved... and not human. Even though they were still outnumbered and even though the chance for victory was slim, it seemed as though momentum had shifted from the Alliance to the Rangers, all of whom were fighting like madmen. From the top of the skyscraper, Astronema looked on as the Rangers fought valiantly... but she knows that their efforts would be futile. They will fail.

For a shred of a second, she almost felt sorry for them. Almost.

"It's best we leave, my Queen," Ecliptor said, tugging gently on Astronema's arm. "We cannot risk endangering your well being."

Astronema nodded, though she said nothing. Soon, they were teleported back to the Dark Fortress, which soon emerged back into the clouds as quickly as it appeared.

On the surface, the battle waged on. The Space Rangers managed to get the upper hand with the brief moment of 'surprise' that had distracted the army, but despite their best efforts, they were still clearly out-numbered and were getting piled on quickly by the soldiers. All five Rangers summoned their weapons to even the odds, but the advantage was soon lost and the Rangers were on the receiving end of a vicious beating. Close by, the Angel Grove civilians watched as their heroes and defenders were getting pummeled and almost shuddered at the thought of what would happened. The overwhelming fears were soon overcome by a declaration from the unlikeliest of individuals.

"Come on! Who's with me!" The loud bellow of Bulk called out the crowd, who responded with a unanimous roar of approval. Nodding at Skull by his side, the two life-long friends led the crowd towards the army. The rebellion had now gone full swing as the citizens of the fallen city fought back - either with shoves to the ground, smashing soldier's heads with stones, or in some cases, using some refined fighting skills. Although fate had given them the chance to win, the odds were still against them and victory was still slipping away every minute passed.

The battle would be lost... but not today.

-o-

For the past few hours, the Astro Megaship floated aimlessly in space underpowered. Forgotten by the Alliance fleet, Alpha 6, the latest in the Alpha robot line and currently the only occupant of the Megaship, used the time to make repairs and quick modifications to the ship. By the time he were done with repairs, he programmed DECA to run a self-diagnosis, which later came out to positive. Alpha 6 gleemed that his repair work had been so good that the Megaship didn't seem to have been in a battle with the Alliance fleet.

Under minimal power, Alpha used scanners to keep track of the fleet in order see what was going on. To his utter shock and surprise (and yes, that sort of thing is possible), his scans showed the Megashuttle in action, battling Velocifighters and attack cruisers with weapon systems he didn't even know existed. Punching up the picture on the main viewer, he saw the shuttle fly through various fighters, taking down as many as possible until a missile hit stopped its momentum. The next few seconds told the story.

Rather than evade the firepower, the shuttle flew directly towards the Dark Fortress that was still in orbit. Alpha watched in horror as the shuttle took a beating from the laser attacks of the many ships in the vicinity. Finally, after taking so much abuse, Alpha saw the shuttle explode in a blaze of glory, but not before he saw five light trails escape the shuttle and make their way to the Dark Fortress. One was red, three were blue, and the last one was green. Alpha knew that it had to be some former Rangers who had taken matters into their own hands by attempting a mission he knew nothing about.

As if that was enough to elicit some surprising response from the automaton, Alpha was taken aback when he saw large explosions from the attack group closest to Earth's atmosphere. With the flick of a button, the image shifted to an Alliance space cruiser coming under heavy fire from five fighter craft that Alpha was unfamiliar with, but somehow, he knew they were Terran in origin. The robot watched in amazement as the five fighters made short work of the cruiser and moved on to another, which was also quickly eliminated. After taking down six of the cruisers, the Velocifighter squadrons took notice and quickly they swarmed the five fighters, but the Terrans were able to handle themselves easily. That didn't change the fact that they were still outnumbered.

Alpha didn't know what to make of what he had just witnessed, nor was he able to figure out how Earth had managed to develop such advanced ships. All he knew was that he had to give them a chance.

"DECA," the robot squealed, "Power up the mains! We're going in!"

-o-

Control for the war-torn Machine Empire is in dispute. Despite assistance from Alliance warships, King Mondo's forces have been unable to gain any tactical edge over those of Emperor Aradon. A massive firefight among quadrafighters, skybases, and assault cruisers erupt within Gorah Khan's orbit, while ground forces battle within the city streets and various industrial areas that occupy the planet surface. Mondo, himself, walks alone in the main palace, searching for the half-breed bastard emperor, Aradon. And when he found him, he would kill his lifelong enemy and reclaim his Empire.

And despite the huge numbers, neither side would notice a lone stock freighter speeding past the line of fire and straight into the atmosphere of the Machine homeworld itself. The pilot, a recently reactivated bio-noid who had found the ship on Earth's moon, allocates power from weapons to shields to ensure no stray shot throws him off course. Once the capital city was in view, he set a course for the central palace. His intentions: unknown...

After what he felt was an hour of searching, Mondo had reach the doors to which the throne room would lead to. He motioned to the two Cog soldiers to go back and help with the fighting and the Cogs obediently left their king alone. After a brief moment of hesitation, Mondo took his wand and used it to fire a bolt at the doors, blowing them open. Walking through the smoke, Mondo found himself in the throne room that he has sparsely used, but knew it would have recent use. Then he saw him: the half-organic, half-machine emperor who had robbed him of his crown.

Aradon.

Both stared at each other for a moment without saying a word. Mondo couldn't tell if Aradon was either surprised to see him or if he had expected him to arrive. Likewise, Aradon had no way of telling whether Mondo was confident or arrogant, although it's possible to assume he was both. But none of that mattered. This was something both of them had wanted since the civil war began over two years ago. All the political backstabbing, alliances, ebellions, black op missions, and dirty tactics boiled down to this fight: an ancient tradition dating back to the origins of the Machine Empire. Winner takes the throne, the legend says, and the loser is turned into spare parts to do with what the victor wishes. Both knew that time-honored tradition well... and they would honor it.

"You came back," Aradon mused, "And I see you've grown a backbone."

Mondo couldn't help but laugh. "I'm not the one hiding behind closed doors while a battle is being fought."

Much to Mondo's surprise - or lack thereof - Aradon nodded in agreement. "Yes, that is a noticeable change in your attitude. But you didn't come here to talk. You came to fight for what isn't yours."

"I came to take back what is rightfully mine," the former king said, "And to send you back to the scrapheap from which you came."

"So let's fight."

"Yes. Let's fight then."

And so they did...

-o-

"It's done."

Kim looked at Ninjor with a hint of disbelief as he said those words. Both had been standing in the middle of an endless white area, doing little more than say a few quick words to break the tedious silence. So Ninjor could understand Kim's reaction.

"That's it?" she shrieked, "All we did was standing around, talking in an endless void."

Ninjor nudged his head a bit. "Well, yeah, pretty much."

Kim looked over herself and found no change. She turned back to Ninjor. "But what about that trial of the Sentinel you were talking about?"

"Kimberly, that was the trial," the master said nonchalantly, "The whole ordeal was, actually."

Kim cocked an eyebrow. "The whole... thing?"

The master nodded. "Your trial began when you started to harness the coin's power. It continued when you overcame whatever pain inflicted to maintain control of that power. And it ended with this endless void that served no other purpose than to scan your life force for any incompatibilities or imperfections that could corrupt the power that you had control over."

Kim shrugged. "Really?"

"Really."

"And what if I wasn't proven to be worthy?"

"Honestly?" Ninjor replied. "The Power would have overwhelmed you and killed you."

"Oh," she replied, dejectedly. "So that's it, huh? No ceremonies, no change of clothes, none of that neat stuff?"

"I'm afraid not," said Ninjor, "We simply don't have the time anyway."

"Oh."

The ninja continued. "In any case, the fact that you're still here confirms that you have passed the trial of the Ranger Sentinel. My life essence, my knowledge, my secrets... they will be all yours to aid you in the coming days and to do with as you wish." His voice grew grim, grimmer than he had ever sounded... almost weak sounding. "But I'm afraid we won't be seeing each other again."

"What do you mean? I'm-" Kimberly stopped herself and let out a gasp upon stark realization. "No, you're not saying..."

The ninja master nodded. "When this is over, I will be forever gone, as my soul can no longer maintain itself in this plain of existence."

Kim struggled to maintain her composure, fighting back tears. "But you can't just... I mean, how will I know--"

"You'll know," he said, "Once this enchantment wears off, you will have all the tools, power, and abilities of a Ranger Sentinel, the likes of which goes far beyond any Ranger power." He faced Kim, who seemed uneasy, uncertain. He placed a hand on the girl's shoulder, which seemed to calm her. "I know what you're thinking. You're afraid of what's to come. Of what to do with this newfound responsibility."

Kim nodded.

"Don't be," he said, "You'll make mistakes, at first. But as long as you learn from them, you'll be fine."

Kim's head spun around what she had just heard. She was about to ask a question when she started feeling a strange sensation she couldn't identify. One quick glance at Ninjor and she knows he feels it too. "What's happening?"

"The enchantment's wearing off. You're being displayed back to normal reality." Ninjor's head lowered a bit. "I'm afraid I can't hold on any longer."

Kim's eyes were watery. She already knew what he meant.

"As it is, my body ceases to function. When the enchantment fades, I will be gone to a higher plain of existence." The ninja master wiped his mask, as if to wipe away an imaginary tear. "I just can't hold on anymore."

"Then let go," she said, trying to fight back the tears. She soon walked over to Ninjor and embraced him in a hug. "I promise I won't let you down."

"I know you will," Ninjor cried, "You'll do just fine."

Kimberly felt her grasp on Ninjor slip as the master's form slowly faded away, leaving her alone in the endless void. A moment passed before the newly-christened Ranger Sentinel felt an immense amount of pain coursing through her body, causing her to drop down to her knees as she clutched onto her stomach. She soon found herself bombarded with images of times past, whether it'd be from her own life or from Ninjor's long life or from times she wasn't familiar with.

Soon enough, the images faded... as dd the pain she experienced. And Kimberly soon found herself in an endless white void, alone. She looked around the void for a moment before spotting a figure hidden in shadows. Slowly, she began to approach the figure whose form continued to hide in darkness. Just as she was close enough to reach out to the figure, it vanished without a trace, leaving Kimberly alone in the void. It wasn't long before she heard a familiar voice.

“The Power works in mysterious ways,” the voice said, "But I suspect you have already come to learn that."

Kim spun wildly to match the voice to anything, but saw nothing. "Zordon? Where? How-"

"Do not concern yourself with my being, Kimberly, for there is little time," the voice of Zordon said, gravely. "Only know that never in my wildest dreams would I have thought to witness one of the Power Rangers to surpass the trials of the Ranger Sentinel. It pleases me to witness your trials before my time comes to an end."

Kim didn't say anything. She couldn't, really.

"As of this moment, you are no longer a Ranger," he said, "You are now a Ranger Sentinel, with access to a universe of knowledge and power previously locked away. Use this power wisely and it shall aid you in overcoming anything."

Kim stammered for words. "Thank you, Zordon... and goodbye."

For a moment, a flickering image of a face briefly appeared before Kimberly. It was the floating head of Zordon that she was familiar with, but soon it slowly faded and gave way to a more humanoid shape; that of an aged man in white robes and a kind of armor underneath. The man slowly approached the former Pink Ranger and placed a hand on her shoulder, which made Kim jump slighty.

"Goodbye, my child," the man said, a tear falling down his face. "And may the power guide you."

Kimberly grabbed on to the hand and held it tightly. A moment passed before the man faded from sight and Kimberly soon found herself back in the small chamber where they had started the ceremony, the pain having completely gone. Slowly dragging herself back to her feet, she quickly scanned the room until she found Ninjor, laying lifeless on the floor. His armored suit, once a clean blue, was now a dull gray and portions of the suit was now starting to corrode. Knowing the futility of her next action, Kim nonetheless reached her hand to the ninja master's neck to check for a pulse. There was none.

Ninjor, the great sage who had created the power coins, was dead.

For a short while, Kim mourned the loss of her mentor and friend. She made a silent prayer in his name, hoping that he will find peace in the afterlife. After a while, the corpse of Ninjor slowly faded into nothingness, leaving only the ninja sword that has been his weapon. Kim walked behind the altar where Ninjor had been and picked up the sword, studying it intently. As she did so, the blade let out a faint glow of white that faded just as quickly, leaving behind a pink curved blade in its wake. Kim held onto the weapon with her hand, a small smile forming on her face. The smile faded as Kim turned and made her way outside to face the enemy army, who had made their way through the front gate and are now entering the temple in great numbers.

Stepping out of the walls of the inner chamber, Kimberly saw an endless stream of golems, Quantrons, and the whole lot of grunt soldiers whom had to be relocated from other sectors to take on this enemy... to conquer the one last megapower of the universe before victory could be assured. Kimberly merely looked ahead, her eyes shifting between a pale pink and ghostly white, all the while her entire body slowly levitated off the ground. Cackles of energy would swirl around her as the grunts looked on. Before long, Kimberly found herself floating above the sea of monsters, far beyond their reach. A Golem lunged forward to attack the new Sentinel, only to be knocked down by a Pink Ranger's flying kick, who had suddenly appeared out of thin air. She resembled Kimberly's former masked identity, only the normally white portions of her costume were a light pink.

Two other Pirahnatrons were about to pursue this Ranger, but were taken down by two other Pink Rangers, both of whom wore the same costume as the first. The same happened to an Iron Golem close by; with a Pink Ranger showing up every millisecond. Within seconds, the almost-unlimited army of Iron Golems, Pirahnatrons, Quantrons, and superior grunt soldiers were facing off against an equally unlimited army of spectral Pink Rangers, all the while Kimberly aimlessly floated over the fighters, safe within a projected pink orb that surrounded her. Whenever a stray shot from a Golem's blaster was blocked before it could touch her, the orb that protected her would fire pink charged shots that would cause huge explosions and eliminate a good number of enemy troops. The numbers continued to shrink, as the Pink Rangers slowly made short work of the grunt soldiers. Every once in a while, several wide columns of pink light would erupt from the ground, disintegrating anything it touched.

Kimberly's face bore no emotion as the armies clashed against each other. She just looked down below them indifferently, like they were nothing more than toy soldiers, completely off-guard by what is happening. They had expected a quick victory, as the only defense was a dying ninja master and a former Ranger. Instead, what they had was a former Ranger who had ascended into the next rank of power. Ninjor was right when he said a Sentinel hadn't been seen in ages. Otherwise, these troops would have been better prepared.

"Pathetic," she uttered in disgust.

The seemingly-endless slaughter went on like this for an hour before the illusions made quick work of the Alliance army and thousands of slain troops littered the desert sands to no end. Kim slowly descended from the air and landed softly atop a fallen Quantron while her illusions faded into empty space. She surveyed the area around her, seeing nothing but dead monsters. In the distance, she could see the formation of a sandstorm, but what caught her attention was the only monster still standing; a black-armored knight who was presumable the leader of the group. From his stature, Kim could tell he was unphased by what had happened.

"You've managed to hold up rather well," the knight said, "but I assure you that you'll be destroyed in due time."

She took one look at the knight as he fired several powerful bolts at her: each of which were deflected by the energy sphere surrounding her. She could tell that the knight was starting to get frustrated at his inability to penetrate her protective shield. She could almost feel the intense anger that her enemy was building up as he gathered his energies. The last thing she saw was a flash of red lightning blazing at her before she was engulfed in light.

The knight dropped to his knees. She emerged from the smoke, unscathed from the awesome power he had unleashed. Suddenly, the knight without fear was suddenly afraid of this seemingly human female who had managed to survive every lethal blow he was able to throw at her. He became downright terrified when the former Ranger shot him a cold, demonic grin.

"You'll be dead before that ever happens."

Kim took two wild swings with the blade at the knight - one swing had sliced off his hands and the second swing cut through his armor, sparks and flames bursting from both wounds. One final swipe later, the knight's helmet separated from the rest of the body, which promptly collapsed to the ground. Then she saw a closer look at the "sandstorm" caused by the rapid running of more Quantrons, Iron Golems, and other creatures she couldn't quite make out. With a thought, a second blade formed in her free hand and she held both them in a way that the blades formed a cross. From the two blades shot out several streams of red lightning, flying towards the army of monsters and striking some of them down. Kim knew that the army was endless, but she couldn't help but smile.

-o-

The Turbo Ranger robots, or Robot Rangers, outnumbered the invaders numerously and their controllers, whom also controlled the planet Eltare, were making use of their extensive resources as they quickly reproduced more to fight. Despite their best efforts, the Robot Rangers were unable to hold back against the impending force of Ranger Wraiths led by Lord Zedd and Thomas Oliver - two former rivals. Soon, the large metal doors serving as the entrance to the Eltarian palace was taken down and the fighting spilled inwards, where the reserve Alliance troops had been waiting. Zedd and Thomas emerged from the fighting crowd, standing before two giant doors.

"There it is," Zedd said, pointing to the doors, "The main chamber's there. And the master of this militia's waiting."

"I'll go," Thomas grunted, "You better take care of the Robots."

Zedd nodded and went back to fighting Robot Rangers. With that, Thomas walked towards the main control room while Ranger Wraiths, Tengu Knights, reprogrammed Robot Rangers, Quantrons, and Iron Golems fought relentlessly around him. If a random soldier got in the way, Thomas pushed him out of the way. He would not let anything keep him from the control room and face the commander of Eltare's occupation. He took a quick glance back at the ongoing fighting and noticed Zedd was missing. The thought was quickly dismissed and Thomas continued on his way as the fighting continued.

After what seemed like an eternity, Thomas stood before the main doors as the fighting continued behind him. Just as he was about to reach for the door handle, the two doors opened inward. Without second thoughts, Thomas stepped through the doors to enter what seemed like a large room that seemed completely empty with the exception of one throne chair and the beast that sat in it. Thomas studied the creature for a moment; a four-armed lizard creature with a lengthen neck, holding a jagged sword in each hand. Likewise, the creature studied his human enemy and the various bruises evident on his face, not to mention the bloodstains found on his armor.

The creature made the first strike against Thomas, who managed to sidestep the blow. The creature swung all of its arms wildly in an attempt to make contact with the Ranger, who managed to either evade or block the attacks. Although the attacks weren't skilled, they did come at Thomas quickly and as a result, he wasn't able to find an opening. After what seemed like a couple minutes of constant misses and blocks, the creature extended one of his arms outwards, which missed Thomas completely. With one instinctive slice from his saber, the Ranger had managed to sever the arm from the creature and followed up with a kick to the abdomen which forced the creature back a few steps. Thomas then quickly leapt and landed a flying kick across the head of the creature and managed to slice off another one of the creature's arm with his sword.

With two arms remaining, the creature decided to change his focus. With a well-timed kick, the creature landed a blow to Thomas's knee, which caused the Ranger to drop his sword. He soon found himself pummeled by the creature's fists, which pounded him quickly. After twenty punches, the creature connected with an uppercut that knocked Thomas on the ground. Catching a quick breath, Thomas pulled all his strength into one flip that brought him back on his feet, startling his opponent. He quickly followed this with a spinning heel kick that caused the creature's head to snap back. With the momentary distraction, Thomas quickly picked up his sword and preceded to swing it across the creature's chest, causing a flurry of sparks to erupt. The creature, just a few moments ago the aggressor, was delirious and tried to clear his head, but it was too late, as Thomas used the time to thrust his sword through the creature's chest. After the blade was pulled out, all signs of life fled from the creature as he dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes.

Thomas looked down on his fallen opponent, feeling empty. The fight, in his mind, was too easy and for a supposed evil master left in charge of the Alliance's greatest prize - outside of Zordon himself - and a skilled fighter, the creature was no more tougher than the monsters he had fought alongside the other Rangers. Sensing the presence of another, Thomas turned his attention to the door and saw Zedd standing there, pointing his staff towards the Ranger. Before Thomas could react, a surge of lightning flew at him and struck him in the chest. The lightning momentarily enveloped Thomas before he was sent flying and smashed against the far wall. The Ranger dropped to the floor, all strength having escaped him. His eyes looked up momentarily as Zedd approached him, staff still pointing at the Ranger's forehead. Thomas cursed himself as he could picture the wicked grin behind Zedd's metal mask.

"So tell me, Oliver," the fleshman asked, "Ever get the feeling you've been duped?"


End THREE

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