Chapter 00: The End is Prologue – Ryu Ranger

Ultimate Power Rangers The End
Chapter 00: The End is Prologue

Chapter 00: The End is Prologue

Beyond all space and time

Reality shattered, leaving shards of time and space in an endless void of chaos and madness. Within the void, the Ultimate Power Rangers gathered to learn the secrets of the End of All. Using Ranger Keys, they unlocked Time Shards to slowly unravel the history of existence’s downfall.

The Shards revealed this story.

Now, Terre Haute, Indiana

One Seal remained. One Seal protected the mortal realm from the release of the Dark One. Only one Seal, the Seventh Seal, stood in the way of complete and utter annihilation.

Meanwhile, the Apocalypse ravaged Earth. The gods touched the mortal plane for the first time. Cities crumbled. Mankind fell to sickness, famine, pestilence, war. And death.

The Dark Man — the Horseman of Death — pondered the state of reality as he stood within an abandoned church. He stared into a dark corner, where a black spider spun the final threads of its web.

A crooked grin creased his face. “How far we’ve come…” he said when he sensed someone approach. “Now you’re the one who lurks in the shadows…”

Tommy Oliver stepped from the darkness near the pews of the church. “Akuma…” he said with distaste. “It’s time we had a talk.”

“Indeed,” Akuma said, keeping his eyes on the spider’s web. “You’ve been busy, Tommy. Almost as busy as I have. Is that potent, destructive magick I sense within you?”

Tommy ignored the question. “What did you do to Simon…”

“I brought him back from the dead, and paired him with DaiShi, the Heir to the Great Beast of Hell,” the Dark Man said. “He’s powerful now. Powerful enough to kill the gods. Powerful enough to do what you would not.”

“You brainwashed him.”

“You did first, turning him into your toy soldier…” The Dark Man plucked a strand from the spider’s web. “This game of ours is almost finished, finally…”

“There’s only one Seal left before the Dark One breaks loose. One,” Tommy said. “You don’t want that to happen. I know you don’t.”

“No. And it won’t,” Akuma said. “I have seen to that.”

“Tell me how. How to stop the gods, and the Forsaken,” Tommy demanded. “How to save Simon and…fix everything.”

“What makes you think I have all the answers?”

“You’re the all-powerful personification of Death, aren’t you?” Tommy asked mockingly.

“There is nothing to fix, Tommy,” the Dark Man said. “This reality will be destroyed. The only question is whether it will become the domain of the Dark One, or whether Simon will succeed and restart reality as a place of peace.”

“You mean a place of 'death,'” Tommy said. “It didn’t really click until I learned the truth about you. You talk about remaking the universe, all of reality, into a peaceful place, where we’re reunited with our loved ones. No more pain. No more destruction. But you don’t want to remake anything, do you? All you want is oblivion…a void of death.”

“There is no peace except for death,” the Dark Man said. “In death, we are joined by all we have lost, eternally…a new existence beyond the confines of this cursed Wheel of Time and its endless suffering. You are correct, Tommy…I want the universe to be reborn into a state where the only thing that exists is the calm embrace of death…”

Tommy armed his golden-hilted sword, the Ryuuseiken, with a flash of fiery light. “Last chance…Tell me how to stop this.”

The Dark Man looked towards the ceiling. “How far you’ve come, Tommy. How far…”

A blur shot from the shadows and smashed against Tommy, hurling him backward. He crashed through several pews that splintered on impact.

The former ranger rolled into a crouched position, and when he looked up, he saw his attacker: Shadow Blade, an alternate version of Tommy Oliver from a parallel timeline called Demon World Earth.

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “You…I almost forgot about you.”

Shadow Blade said nothing. Silent and deadly, the villain unsheathed his sword and pounced to attack.

Tommy clashed blades with his opponent, metal clanging against metal and sparking on impact. They circled one another with strikes and blows that swelled with energy, crackling the air like static.

Tommy narrowed his eyes with a Ki blast that sent Shadow Blade skidding backward. The former ranger started to attack, but before he could, Hand ninja dropped from the darkness. Genin and Chunin armed their weapons and pounced.

Tommy activated his communicator. “Guys, move in.”

His rangers shattered through stained glass windows as they leapt into the church. The Hurricane team — Lauren, Hunter, Blake, Justin, Rachel and Kou — took the Hand off guard with a barrage of kicks and punches, scattering their ranks.

Blake flipped a Genin to the ground and stomped the grunt’s throat. “So I take it your talk went well?”

“Swimmingly,” Tommy said, his eyes narrowed. He cursed beneath his breath as he watched Akuma step into the shadows, a crooked smile on the villain’s face. “Oh no you don’t…”

Tommy slashed past Shadow Blade and charged towards the darkness. A trio of Chunin dropped in front of him, but he swept them aside with a casual burst of Kiryoku.

Tommy kicked down a door and raced up the steps, entering a bell tower where the Dark Man stood. The villain slid his hands into his pockets and looked out upon the small city of Terre Haute, Indiana, once the crossroads of America, and now a sweltering pit of demon stank.

“What you’re doing here is pointless, Tommy,” the Dark Man said without turning. “You cannot stop the events I have set in motion.”

“I’m the Dragon, remember?”

“Insignificant now, even if you do manage to regain your powers, and the powers of the Champions who fought against the Mogralord,” the Dark Man said. “That is what you intend, isn’t it? I know all about your plans, and they are destined to fail.”

“If you know about all my plans, you know why I’m really here…”

“Of course,” the Dark Man said. “For this little ritual you have planned, for the restoration of the powers this world has lost…to create new Seals…you need the blood of death itself. My blood. You don’t understand the forces you would wield…”

“It’s a last resort,” Tommy said.

“Is that what you tell yourself, to avoid the guilt that comes with dabbling in such chaotic magick?”

“I came back from the darkness a long time ago,” Tommy said. “But if I have to give into it again, to save everything, to save my family…I will.”

The Dark Man pulled a vial from his jacket and tossed it at Tommy. Tommy caught the vial, filled with the Dark Man’s blood.

“Take it,” the Dark Man said. “Take your last resort. It’s all pointless, Tommy. Try to stop the gods. Stop the Forsaken. Regain your powers. In the end, it will mean nothing. In the end, there will be only death.”

The Dark Man stepped behind a pillar and vanished from sight.

Colin, the Red Digi Ranger, leaned against the Enertron Matrix in the center of Corinith City. He stood watch as Dax, the Red Bio-Beast Ranger, worked beneath the structure’s casing.

Colin sighed with impatience. “You about done?”

“Yes,” Dax said sarcastically from within the machine. “That’s why I’m still in this god-awful piece of junk. Because I enjoy it just that much.”

“I was just asking,” Colin said.

“Well, don’t ask,” Dax said. “Just stand there and be useless.”

Colin shook his head. “This is why you have no friends.”

“A fact of which I am eternally grateful.” Dax dropped out of the nearest work shoot. “There. I’m done.”

“You fixed it?”

“No. I’m just done,” Dax said. “There’s nothing wrong with the damn thing. It should be working.”

“But it’s not…”

“Here.” Dax tossed his sonic screwdriver to Colin. “You figure it out. I’m grabbing a drink.”

“It’s 7 a.m…”

“It’s the End of Days, I’m getting drunk and staying that way,” Dax said. “You should probably do the same.”

Colin sighed as he watched Dax walk off. “I just…don’t get that guy.”

Dr. William “Billy” Cranston stood within his high-rise skyscraper in Corinith City. He looked out the window and stared at the massive Enertron Matrix in the distance.

The former ranger knitted his brow. The matrix should work. And every day it didn’t, it delayed his plans. Corinith City served as the hub for a network of Enertron Matrixes, meant to aide cities in rebuilding following meta-level attacks. He needed that network back online.

He placed his hand on the glass; a comm screen opened within the window. “Dax, report.”

“Cranston, go fuck yourself,” Dax said.

Cranston sighed. “I assume this means you haven’t made any progress.”

“I’ve been telling you, there’s nothing wrong,” Dax said. “Everything I’m seeing tells me the damn thing should be working. But it’s not.”

“Have you ruled out interference from outside sources?”

“I’ve ruled out everything,” Dax said. “Feel free to take a look, unless you’re afraid of getting your hands dirty.”

“My hands are already dirty, Dax, Cranston out.” He severed the connection and slid his hand across the glass, opening another comm screen within the window. The screen showed an image of multiple black tablets, each with a red number representing an unseen person. “We’re running out of time. We-”

The lights went dark. Cranston looked outside, to where lights blinked out as the entire city lost power.

In the distance, the Enertron Matrix started glowing with black and red energy.

Tommy and the Hurricane team regrouped in the Command Chamber, along with the Samurai, Jungle Fury, Mystic and Seraph teams. Adam and Ashley joined him.

He tried to act confident, despite the nagging doubt in the back of his mind.

“OK, guys, listen up,” Tommy said. “We have two main missions: Stop the gods. And stop the Forsaken.”

“Gee, you make it sound so easy,” Blake said.

“Right, it’s puppies and kittens from here on out,” Tommy said. “Alpha, bring up the Viewing Globe.”

“Right away, Tommy,” Alpha said in his typical, chipper voice.

The Viewing Globe displayed an image of a stone tablet etched with strange runes.

“This is the Demon Tablet,” Tommy said. “It’s connected to everything that’s happened and the breaking of the Seals. If there’s a way to seal the gods from the mortal plane again, it will be on this tablet.”

He looked to Casey, Theo, Lilly, R.J., and Dom. “Casey, your team already has some experience with this thing. I want you guys to focus on tracking it down.”

Casey nodded. “We’ll do what we can.”

“Any idea how?” Lilly asked, not bothering to hide her doubt.

Adam answered. “I already talked to Rick. He’ll use whatever resources he has to help.”

“Is he bringing Kyle and the others?” Theo asked.

Adam nodded. “They’ll meet you on the field.”

Next, the Viewing Globe zeroed in on an image of Demon City, in the heart of the ruined remains of Angel Grove. The DECA Rangers, ZECT Troopers and Silver Guardians patrolled the border.

“Our next problem is Xanathor,” Tommy said. “He’s up to something, but we don’t know what.”

Hunter narrowed his eyes. “What’s INET still doing there?”

“I don’t know,” Tommy said. “But we need to find out. Troy…I need you and the Seraph Rangers to investigate. You’re the best equipped to deal with the demons in the area, but whatever you do, don’t engage Xanathor. You’re too new at this to take him on alone. Scout, and report back.”

“Scout?” Jake asked. “We’ve been itching for this since Day One.”

“Day One was a few months ago for you guys,” Tommy said. “That’s the problem. You’re too inexperienced to face someone with Xanathor’s power level. He’s the avatar of a god, and the combined form of two former Ranger villains. He nearly took down the Hurricane team and Jet Force.”

Blake shifted uncomfortably. “We could’ve taken him.”

Rachel arced an eyebrow at him.

He shrugged. “We could’ve…maybe.”

“Either way,” Tommy said. “You’ll have some help. I reached out to a rogue ZECT agent, Dylan: Kamen Rider Gattack. He and Kamen Rider Kabuto fight the monsters called Worms that come from Demon City. They’ll meet you on the outskirts of Angel Grove and help you get in.”

Troy nodded. “Sounds like a plan.”

“Good,” Tommy said. “That covers our god problem. Now on to Azmodai and the Forsaken.”

The Viewing Globe images shifted to a massive, dark mansion. "Lauren, you and the Hurricane team are going straight for Azmodai. You’ll find him in the center of the Shadow Line. I’ve touched base with Samuel…he’s going to round up his team and any rogue Hellfire Knights; they’ll join you. This is going to be the most important fight. Azmodai’s the one that started all this…it ends with him."

"What about the Forsaken?" Lauren asked.

"We’ll need the right weapons to stop them," Tommy said. "From what we know, the only thing that can kill a Forsaken is a weapon created by a Forsaken. That narrows down our options…"

The Viewing Globe shifted to an image of a black palace on the moon. "We know Rahvin created the Kamen Rider Wizard and Kamen Rider Beast powers. Lanfear has Wizard trapped in Maya’s mind; she’s being held on the moon, by Beryl."

Hunter crossed his arms over his chest. "Sounds like a trap."

"Most definitely," Tommy said. "Nick, I want you and the Mystics to go with Kamen Rider Beast to the moon. Take Selene and the Sailor Guardians with you."

"I’m going too," Kouishiro said from the back of the room.

Tommy didn’t argue. He nodded, knowing Kouishiro loved Maya and wanted to fight to set her free from Lanfear. "They could use the backup. I want you to keep Kane on Earth, though. He’s young…I don’t want him brought in unless it’s absolutely necessary."

Tommy spoke of Kouishiro and Maya’s foster son, Kane, the young Kamen Rider Mage.

The Viewing Globe shifted to an image of a curved sword with a jagged end.

"This is the only other weapon that we know of made by the Forsaken," Tommy explained.

Teddy’s face paled at the sight. "Urimasu…" The blade belonged to his ex-boyfriend-turned-demon, Juzou, who died in battle against the Samurai Rangers.

"I know this sword comes with plenty of baggage…but I need your team to track it down," Tommy said to his younger brother.

Teddy nodded. "We will…"

The Viewing Globe shifted again, to an image of the Forsaken called Agrinor, and his army of White Jokers. "I talked to Ken earlier, Kamen Rider Blade. He’s willing to help, but on his terms. He wants to take Chalice, Garren and Leangle to track down Aginor. He’s creating an army, and we need to stop that army from growing. Ken and his Riders fought Aginor before, so they’ll take the lead here. Hikaru’s agreed to go with."

"Wouldn’t this be a good time for an olive branch with INET too?" asked Ryan, the Blue Samurai Ranger.

Tommy narrowed his eyes. "Ashley said the same thing. I reached out to Billy…but didn’t get through. He’s not answering."

"What does that mean?" Lauren asked.

"That Troy’s mission is important; we have to find out what INET is up to in Demon City, especially if it involves Xanathor."

"And now we’re going around in circles," Blake said. "Can we get this done? I’m antsy."

"You’re always antsy," Rachel teased.

Troy spoke up for the first time– Blake would later joke that the teen slept through the whole briefing. "What about those Rail Rangers?"

"We still don’t know anything about them, not even how to contact them," Tommy said. "I’m not even sure if they’re technically Rangers. Something about their power signature is…off. If anything, we know they’re up against the Dark Kingdom, which should keep the Shadow Line busy while the Hurricane team fights their way to Azmodai."

Blake rubbed his brow. “What about Simon? And that Evan kid the Jungle Fury Rangers know…So many loose ends…”

“Just focus on your main task,” Tommy said. “I’ll take care of the big picture.”

He wished he felt as confident as he sounded.

Simon Kaden joined the Forsaken for one reason: To help them free the gods. With this goal accomplished, he now planned to kill all the gods, steal their powers, and help the Forsaken release the Dark One. Then, Simon would betray the Forsaken and kill the Dark One himself, stealing his power. Simple, right?

He stood alongside his fellow Forsaken, Moridyn, on the rooftops of Corinith City. They looked through the night, to where the Enertron Matrix crackled with demonic energy.

Moridyn grinned at the sight. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”

“What’s happening?” Simon asked.

“Something unexpected, but quite welcome,” Moridyn said. “It appears the demonic forces of Xanathor have learned to possess machines. Now they are taking control of the remnants of Venjix, and the VaGlass.”

Simon knitted his brow, impatient. “So now what?”

“Now we move,” Moridyn said. “Now, we break the remaining Seal, and release the Dark One onto the mortal plane. You’re clear on your role?”

Simon nodded. Saying nothing, he leapt into the darkness.

…to be continued

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