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.
The threads of possibility resisted Tommy as he wove them together into the world he imagined. He did not know what that meant. Perhaps what he demanded was highly unlikely. This thing he did, using threads to show what could be, was more than simple illusion. It involved looking to worlds that had been before, that could be again. Mirrors of the reality he lived in.
He didn’t create these worlds. He merely…manifested them. He forced the threads to open the reality he demanded, and finally they obeyed.
One last time, the darkness became light, and the nothing became something.
He stepped into a world that did not know the Dark One.
He chose Angel Grove as his point of entry.
Tommy stepped into the city and watched. Traffic moved smoothly across the street– no horns honked, no tires screeched. The buzz of conversation seemed calm and reasonable.
He noticed an elderly white man give directions to a young Muslim woman. He didn’t see any police cars or officers on patrol.
Tommy walked on.
IS THIS PERFECTION FOR YOU? The Dark One’s voice felt distant. He could pierce this reality to speak to Tommy, but he could not appear here as he had in the other visions. This place was his antithesis.
For this was the world that would exist if Tommy killed him in the Last Battle.
“Come and see,” Tommy said to him, smiling.
He walked to a building free of guard posts– a NASA satellite office in the center of the city.
Tommy stepped inside and moved to the front desk. The receptionist looked normal enough, chipper and well-dressed. Everyone in the lobby looked…fine. This was a world without problems. A world where people worked out their own grievances easily. A world of giving, not dispute.
Tommy cleared his throat to get the receptionist’s attention.
“Hi, I’m here to see Ashley Hammond?”
“Oh, Tommy!” she said, sounding surprised. “I’ll let her know you’re here. Lovely weather we’re having, right?”
“Uh…right,” Tommy said.
Ashley met him in the lobby and gave him a hug. Something about the hug felt…off…but he couldn’t quite place it. He didn’t feel the same connection from her, the bond that formed after years of partnership.
“Tommy!” she said with the same level of happiness as the receptionist. “I’m glad you’re here.”
Tommy smiled at her. “Just wanted to drop by to see how you were doing.”
She shrugged, smiling. “Just another, normal day. More of the same.”
Tommy knitted his brow. “That doesn’t bore you?”
“Goodness, no,” she said.
They sat together in the lobby and kept talking, and the more they did, the closer Tommy came to his conclusion.
This wasn’t Ashley…was it? The tone seemed off, the mannerisms wrong. Could she have changed so much?
“Ashley?” Tommy asked. “What happened to you…?”
“Happened? Nothing! It’s a great day. Beautiful and peaceful. Perfect for sitting in the park and watching the flowers bloom.”
Tommy frowned. That simpering tone, that vapid reaction…Ashley had never been like that.
“How’s Tyler?” Tommy asked.
“Oh, he’s great!” Ashley said.
“Is he at school?”
“I think so,” she said, still smiling.
Tommy looked into Ashley’s eyes, looked into them deeply. A shadow lurked back there, behind them. Oh, it was an innocent shadow, but a shadow nonetheless. It was like…like that…
Like that shadow behind the eyes of someone who had been Turned to the Dark One.
Tommy jumped to his feet and stumbled backward. “What did you do her?” Tommy shouted into the sky. “Dark One, answer me!”
Ashley tilted her head. She wasn’t afraid. Fear did not exist in this place. “The Dark One? I swear I remember that name. It’s been so long. I get forgetful sometimes.”
I HAVE DONE NOTHING, ADVERSARY. The voice was distant. THIS IS YOUR CREATION.
“Bull!” Tommy shouted. “You’ve changed her! You’ve changed them all!”
DID YOU THINK THAT REMOVING ME FROM THEIR LIVES WOULD LEAVE THEM UNALTERED?
The words thundered through Tommy. Aghast, he stepped away as Ashley rose, obviously concerned for him. Yes, he saw it now, the thing behind her eyes. She was not herself…because Tommy had taken from her the ability to be herself.
I TURN MEN TO ME. IT IS TRUE. THEY CANNOT CHOOSE GOOD ONCE I HAVE MADE THEM MINE IN THAT WAY. HOW IS THIS ANY DIFFERENT, ADVERSARY?
IF YOU DO THIS WE ARE ONE.
“No!” Tommy screamed, curling up as the Dark One’s next attack washed over him. The nightmare Tommy had created exploded outward, ribbons of light spraying away like streaks of smoke.
The darkness around him shook and trembled.
YOU CANNOT SAVE THEM.
The Pattern– glowing and vibrant– wrapped around Tommy again. The real Pattern. The truth of what was happening. In creating his vision of a world without the Dark One, he had created something horrible. Something awful. Something worse than what would have been before.
The Dark One attacked again.
The Command Chamber, Earth
Alpha-5 stood alone in the Command Chamber. Clouds of darkness shrouded the interior with a lonely stillness– a quiet that unnerved even an android.
He looked up at the Viewing Globe, completely darkened into a midnight black.
The Rangers failed to retrieve Uramasa.
The Rangers failed to retrieve the Demon Tablet.
The Rangers failed to confront Azmodai, the First Demon.
They did manage to discover the plans of Xanathor and his Worms in Demon City. The Rangers destroyed the villain, but to what end?
Now, the surviving Rangers and Riders made their way to the Castle Terminal on the Moon, the center of the Dark Kingdom’s Shadow Line. But what did they hope to accomplish?
“Ay-yi-yi,” Alpha said quietly, looking into the unseen distance towards absent friends. “What will we do, Zordon?”
Between the Earth and Moon
Two trains charged from the Earth towards the Moon.
One belonged to the Rail Rangers, re-formed through the power of Tyler Oliver’s imagination. Before departing Earth, Tyler used the Rail Liner to pick up reinforcements in Corinth City and other locations.
The Rail Liner’s passengers: the Samurai Rangers, the Phantom Ranger, Astro Silver, Astro Pink, Zeo Green, Zeo Gold, Zeo Blue, Zeo Yellow, Zeo Pink, the Titanium Silver Beetle Borg, Cybertron, Shaider, and the Black Nova Trooper.
The second train belonged to the Shadow Line, a Kurliner that carried the villains from Azmodai’s mansion: the Forsaken Lanfear, and Moridyn, and the First Demon Azmodai, along with their “gift” for the Dark One.
A group of champions stowed away on the Kurliner: the Hurricane Power Rangers, Gao White, Gao Black, Gao Blue, Gao Silver, Kamen Riders Faiz, Blade, Garren, Leangle and Black RX, Garo and the Hellfire Knights, the Red Python, the Violet Wolf Jungle Fury Ranger, and the Silver Overdrive Ranger. Also…Simon Kaden, who pursued Azmodai and Moridyn.
Azmodai followed Moridyn through one the Kurliners rail cars.
“Why did you bring me into this toy train of yours, Moridyn?” Azmodai asked.
“Simple,” Moridyn said. “I want you with me when I present my 'gift’ to the Dark One.”
“Gift…? What nonsense are you spouting now?”
“It’s not nonsense. Did you doubt I would have a plan to gain the Dark One’s favor upon his return?” Moridyn asked. “Within this vessel is my ultimate creation. The God Killer.”
“That sounds…ominous, I suppose. And what is this God Killer?”
“The name explains itself, my friend,” Moridyn said. “The gods are the remnants of the Dark One’s ultimate foe. The Creator. The Life Giver. With the power of the God Killer, I will destroy them all.”
“And what gives you the right to have such an honor?” Azmodai asked. “You may have served the Dark One as a faithful priest. But I am his son. He created my entire race. If anyone deserves his favor, it is me.”
“If you want his favor…” Moridyn said. “You shall have it.”
Moridyn barely moved, yet summoned enough power to drive Azmodai to his knees. Shadows wrapped around Amodai and formed robes. His left arm contorted into a red-and-black limb of twisted demon flesh. A hood covered his head, and a demonic mask or red-and-black etchings covered his face.
“You wish to serve your father? To gain his notice? You now have the power to do so. His power. The True Power…” Moridyn slid his hands into his pockets as he looked down upon the First Demon. “You will be the key to unlocking the God Killer. And you will thank me for the honor.
Azmodai looked down at his demonic left arm. And he traced his fingers across his mask. “I feel…his touch. My father’s touch…”
Four of the Rail Rangers waited in one of the Rail Liner’s front carriages. The doors slid open, and Tyler joined them. Children, they all appeared as teenagers, aged through Tyler’s power– the same power that made them Rangers.
“How’s it going?” Tyler asked, surprisingly optimistic for facing the end of everything.
Kip arced an eyebrow. “Could you stop smiling? We’re doomed.”
“We’re not,” Tyler said, patting his friend on the shoulder. “Tommy’s out there. And we’re about to take this fight into the heart of the Shadow Line. It’s not over yet.”
“It’s literally over,” Kip said. He nodded towards the windows. “Look outside. The Dark One’s out. The Shadow Line spread darkness everywhere. We lost.”
“We can reverse it.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I believe,” Tyler said. “I have hope.”
“You have delusions,” Kip said.
“Guys,” Asa said, stepping between them. “Don’t fight. Not now. We have to stick together.”
Bailey sighed, eager to change the subject. “How are our passengers?”
“Restless,” Kari said, speaking of the champions in the other carriages. “But they’re lucky we found them.”
“We’re the lucky ones,” Bailey said. “We’ll need them.”
“Think they’ll be enough?” Kari asked.
“No,” Kip said, before Tyler could answer. .
Tyler sighed. “Way to keep hope alive, man.”
Teddy and his teammates waited in a cargo hold, along with the other champions. They looked worn and beaten, still raw from the death and destruction in Corinith City.
Ashley, Tommy’s fiance, walked over to Teddy and gave him a hug.
“You okay?” she asked her future brother-in-law.
He shook his head. “I screwed up, Ash. I couldn’t save Simon…I couldn’t get the sword…and I couldn’t help in Corinith…”
Ashley pulled away and leaned against the wall next to him. “You can’t blame yourself,” she said. “Although I know it runs in the family…”
Teddy smirked, and Ashley took a moment to recognize how much he reminded her of Tommy, even though they weren’t related by blood.
“Tommy may beat himself up a lot,” Teddy said. “But he comes through in the end.”
“And you don’t?” Ashley asked. “Teddy, think of all you’ve accomplished. You. Look at everything you’ve had to face, at everything you’ve been through…”
Teddy sighed. “I guess in the end it doesn’t-”
Suddenly, Bradin stepped towards them and punched Teddy to the floor.
“Bradin!” Kirsten shouted, holding him back.
“Dude!” Anthony stood in front of Bradin and pushed him back.
Bradin glared at Teddy. “Would you get over yourself? This isn’t the time. You’re not some whiny little bitch. You’re the Red Ranger. The Red Ranger I learned to follow and respect .The Red Ranger I learned to call a friend. Act like it.”
Teddy rubbed his jaw as Ryan helped him to his feet. He looked at Bradin, saying nothing.
Bradin continued. “As long as there’s the slightest spark of light, there’s hope. Hope that the spark can turn into a flame. We are that spark. We will be that flame.”
He walked past Anthony and placed a firm hand on Teddy’s shoulder. “I learned that from you, you dumbass.”
Akira, the sixth Rail Ranger, joined his teammates in the main cabin.
He pulled out a tablet and placed it on the nearest table. The tablet showed an image of a Kurliner throttling from Earth towards the Moon.
“That’s our way in,” he said as he pointed to the image. “The darkness around the Castle Terminal is too think for us to get through alone. But if we follow that Kurliner…follow right behind it…we should be able to ride its wake and get through.”
“Sounds easy enough,” Tyler said with a smile. “This is going to work, guys. I can feel it…”
“Are you sure it’s not just cramps?” Kip asked.
Tyler rolled his eyes. “You’ll see. Let’s get after that Kurliner and end this, once and for all.”
Beyond all space and time
YOU CANNOT SAVE THEM.
Tommy’s mind screamed. He thought of his friends, loved ones, and fellow Rangers. Of Ashley and Tyler.
YOU CANNOT SAVE YOUR CHILD. HE IS MINE. AS YOU ARE MINE.
The Dark One’s voice assaulted Tommy with the force of a hurricane, tearing into his soul and essence.
I HAVE KNOWN HIM AND WALKED WITH HIM FOR ALL OF HIS YEARS. MY TRUTH IS HIS ONLY TRUTH. MY POWER HIS ONLY POWER. THE TRUE POWER.
Tommy clenched his jaw and tried to resist, calling on every fiber of his will. “Feels like…you’re just rambling at this point…”
YOUR DARKNESS IS HIS. AS IT WAS YOUR FATHER’S. AND YOUR FATHER’S FATHER. AND HIS FATHER BEFORE HIM. WHAT WAS, WILL BE.
Between the Earth and Moon
The Rail Liner charged with all its power.
Tyler, Asa, Kip, Bailey and Kari manned the controls in the main cockpit. Akira– morphed as the Orange Rail Ranger– sat several cars back in his individual cockpit.
The train closed in on the Kurliner from Azmodai’s mansion.
The Kurliner throttled through a vortex of darkness between the Earth and Moon. The Rail Liner followed, barely slipping into the entryway provided by the evil train.
“Stay close!” Rail Orange shouted from his cockpit. The Rail Liner shook, nearly knocking the Ranger from his seat. “…or the feedback will rip us apart!”
“Can’t get any closer,” Tyler said.
“If we do, we’ll be right up their ass!” Kip shouted.
“Language!” Bailey chided.
“Hey,” Kip said. “If we’re old enough to die to save the world, we’re old enough to swear.”
“That…” Asa started to say, “actually seems reasonable.”
“See,” Kip said.
Bailey sighed. “Boys are stupid.”
The Emissary stood on top of the Castle Terminal and looked upward. Through his mind’s eye, he saw a spark of light. A familiar spark– Tyler Oliver. He felt drawn to that light. He loved it. And hated it. He wanted it. But knew he could never have it.
He was an emissary of darkness.
The Emissary lifted his hand. He fired a comet of darkness that shot into the skies and blasted the Rail Liner off its tracks.
The impact jarred Tyler from the Rail Liner, though he didn’t understand how. He crashed onto the dark-side of the moon and skid across the lunar surface.
Slowly, he climbed to his feet. He felt gravity and breathed atmosphere — the laws of science no longer made sense.
The ranger looked up to see the Emissary, standing casually in his robes.
The Emissary smiled. “Tyler Hart. Or is it Tyler Oliver? At last we meet…”
“Kind of a generic thing to say,” Tyler said, arming his morpher.
“Do you really want to jump straight into a fight? I see…a sparkle in you. Let’s chat about that for a moment.”
The villain waved his hand. A wave of hopelessness washed over Tyler and tightened this throat. He knitted his brow. “What are you doing?”
“Nothing that hasn’t already been done,” the Emissary said. “Do you understand what happened to you, Tyler? You and I…we are connected.”
Tyler narrowed his eyes. “What?”
“When the Shadow Line came for you, I saw you. I saw your light. The light of creation. The fire of the Dragon. Quite rare; there is nothing else like you. You have the power, not only to break free from Fate, but to wield the primal force of creation itself. Even the Phoenix was bound by the Wheel of Time. You are not. Fascinating…”
The villain tightened his fist. “And aggravating. Your light is something I can never have. And I want nothing more than to extinguish it.”
Tyler armed his morpher. “Express Charge!”
Energy surged around him as he morphed into Rail Red. The Ranger shifted into a fighting stance.
The Emissary smiled. “Even with all your power, do you really think you created these train toys of yours with your imagination alone? No…through the darkness, when I sensed you, you in turn, sensed me. And my darkness, it awakened something in you. Just as your light…awakened something within me.”
“You’re insane.” Rail Red charged and swung his sword, slashing and chopping as the Emissary dodged.
“Am I?” the Emissary asked. “You are but a child, and already, darkness stirs within you. From the moment of your birth you were hidden from your father. Then, once he found you, he used you as a weapon within Demon City. While there, you touched the darkness with your light…but the darkness touched you as well.”
Rail Red pressed forward with a spin-kick the Emissary dodged.
The villain’s smile widened. “Darkness runs in your family. Kimberly, neglected by her mother, the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. Tommy, the evil Green Ranger, son of a traitor. What is it you will become, now, at the end of the world?”
The Emissary lifted his hand with a shockwave of darkness, blasting Tyler backward and knocking him from his armor with a burst of red light.
Tyler landed on all fours. His body shook and he didn’t know why. Did he really have darkness buried inside him? He narrowed his eyes and reached deep, into the depth of his power.
He armed his morpher again. “Express Charge!”
He triggered his morph. But instead of a wave of light, a wave of darkness burst from his body, with clouds of black tinted dark-purple. He morphed into Rail Ranger One, but his armor looked black.
The Emissary smiled. “Look at you. Covered in darkness. Just like me…”
The villain flared with crimson-tinted shadow and transformed into his monster form.
“Now who would want that?!” the Emissary shouted.
The villain lunged and chopped. Rail Black blocked, pressing his sword against the villain’s blade.
The Emissary leaned forward and whispered. “Tyler…you can’t escape the darkness either, can you?”
Rail Black pushed the villain back and swung his sword, slashing and hacking with powerful strikes. The Emissary blocked and parried, sword clanging against sword, sparking on impact.
The Emissary jumped aside and chopped his sword. Rail Black blocked; the Emissary stepped close, grabbed the Ranger, and flipped him to the ground.
The Black Ranger rolled to his feet and slashed his sword through a wide arc. The Emissary dodged and countered with an upward swing.
Their duel continued, blades clanging with strikes and parries, maneuvering around each other on the battlefield.
Rail Black slashed high; Emissary blocked. The Ranger lunged with a punch that bashed the villain back a step. The Emissary recovered, twirled his blade, and countered with a slash. Rail Black parried as he hopped aside.
The opponents jumped backward to gain distance. They lifted their swords, pouring the power of darkness into the blades.
They swung, slashing towards each other with waves of darkness and power. The energy waves collided with a shock wave of shadow, covering the area with a torrent of dark power.
The Black Ranger stepped forward and swung a punch, hurling a bolt of darkness that blasted the Emissary with bursts of spark.
Rail Black felt overwhelmed by his own attack, blanketed by his own darkness. His armor powered down with a pulse of midnight power. He passed out onto the surface of the moon.
The Rail Liner nearly dove out of control. But the train emitted tracks of energy, and rode those tracks to straighten its course.
On the moon ahead, the Castle Terminal stood at the center of a pool of darkness. Giant Kurliners transformed into robos that surrounded the structure.
The Kurliners took aim at the Rail Liner.
Rail Orange tightened his grip on his controls. “I’ll take care of those Kurliners,” he said. “You guys keep moving forward; get as close to the Castle Terminal as you can.”
The Orange Ranger pulled back on his controls and separated his Rail Builder from the Rail Liner.
“Rail Builder Megazord, rise up!” he shouted.
His Rail-zord shifted shape and formed an armored Megazord.
“Rail Builder Megazord, on-track!”
The Rail Builder tackled a Kurliner, then threw the evil robo aside.
A second Kurliner armed a massive ball-and-chain. The robo swung the mace, which bashed Rail Builder with a burst of spark, sending the Megazord staggering.
The Megazord stepped back into a defensive stance.
“Shoulder Beams!” the Orange Ranger shouted.
The Megazord’s shoulder cannons fired beams of blue light, blasting Kurliners with bursts of spark, denting their armor.
“Shovel Arm!” the Orange Ranger shouted.
Rail Builder extended its right arm’s Build Shovel. The Megazord wielded the weapon like an extended claw.
A group of Kurliners moved in. Rail Builder swung its Build Shovel, bashing the robos with bursts of spark, holding them back.
A Kurliner moved in from behind. The robo armed a spear and stabbed the Megazord’s back, blade bursting on impact. The blow sent the Megazord staggering forward.
A group of Kurliners opened fire with cannons blazing, blasting the Megazord with bursts of darkness. Explosions ripped across the Megazord’s armor. But Rail Builder stood its ground.
“Shovel Arm!” Rail Orange shouted. “Builder Break!”
The Shovel Arm energized with orange energy and swung downward, radiating with a wave of power.
But a Kurliner snapped its mace; the weapon smashed through the energy wave and bashed the Megazord with massive bursts of spark, knocking the Rail Builder to the ground.
Rail Orange shook within his cockpit.
He tightened his grip on his controls. “The others trusted me with this…” he said as he willed his Megazord to stand. “I can’t let them down. I can’t!
Rail Builder tackled the nearest Kurliner.
Another robo snapped its ball-and-chain mace at the Megazord.
But Rail Builder jumped several stories into the air to dodge.
“Shovel Arm!” the Orange Ranger shouted. “Hyper Roll! Builder Break!”
The Megazord energized with orange power and somersaulted downward. Rail Builder aimed its Shovel Arm at a group of Kurliners. The weapon glowed with orange energy. Rail Builder swung the shovel through a streak of power while landing, clawing through five Kurliners with massive bursts of spark, ripping them to pieces with massive explosions that splashed over the moon.
White Jokers swarmed across the surface of the moon, arriving from the Earth via the twisted and decaying laws of physics.
They slid cards through their bucklers and transformed into monsters from the Rangers and Riders’ past, dozens of them, then hundreds.
The Rail Liner swerved across the surface of the moon as it closed in on the Castle Terminal. Giant Kurliners dotted the area, covered by White Jokers in monster form.
The Liner’s doors burst open. The heroes leapt out, arming their morphers and transformation devices, and shifting into their champion forms with war-calls and bursts of power.
“Samurai Scribe! Ha!” The Samurai Rangers.
“Install! Astro Ranger!” Astro Silver and Astro Pink.
“Chrono! Trigger!” Time Red, Time Blue, and Time Pink.
“Ultra Transform!” Zeo Gold, Zeo Green, Zeo Blue, Zeo Pink, and Zeo Yellow.
“Beetle Bonder! Beetle Blast!” Titanium Silver Beetle Borg.
“Blue Flash!” Shaider.
“Trooper Transform!” Black Nova Trooper.
The Phantom Ranger stayed silent and he leapt to join the others.
Tyler climbed to his feet. He didn’t notice any sign of the Emissary, or anyone for that matter.
But ahead, he saw the Castle Terminal.
The ranger narrowed his eyes. He still felt darkness stir within him. And something about it seemed…familiar.
That fight with the Emissary…I almost had him, Tyler thought to himself. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply. The darkness…maybe I need it. Maybe that’s how I can finally stop the Emissary.
He walked deeper into the darkness, moving closer to the Castle Terminal.
As he did, an army of the Shadow Line’s grunts, Krows, appeared to attack him.
Tyler armed his morpher.
“Express Charge!” Tyler morphed into Rail Black with a pulse of darkness.
Krows surrounded him and charged to attack.
The Ranger crossed his arms over his chest, building a charge of darkness that surrounded him like a cloud. He snapped his arms out with a shockwave of darkness, blasting the Krows backward with massive bursts of spark.
The Ranger leapt through the air, armed his Rail Slasher, and landed while chopping through a Krow with bursts of spark.
Rail Black snapped around and cut down two more Krows.
He looked to his right, towards the Castle Terminal. The Shadow Line’s two remaining generals– Baron Nero and Marchioness Morc– faced him.
But the Black Ranger looked past the villains.
“Emissary!” he shouted.
The Emissary snapped open his eyes. Darkness ebbed around him.
“Tyler…” he said, his voice stern as he looked through his open balcony. “There’s not a shred of sparkle left in you, is there?”
Nero lifted his staff and faced Rail Black. “How dare you clad yourself in His Majesty’s darkness?”
Rail Black ignored them and charged towards the Castle Terminal, as if the two generals posed no obstacle.
The generals returned the charge.
Rail Black hopped and slashed past them, blade sparking on impact. The villains turned and chopped at the Ranger. But he blocked and parried, striking back with blade swinging, sparking on impact.
Nero and Morc swung their weapons towards the Ranger’s head. He blocked and locked their weapons in place.
“Out of my way!” the Black Ranger shouted with a burst of darkness that knocked the villains backward with a massive shockwave.
The Black Ranger turned and started walking towards the Castle Terminal. But the pressure of his darkness weighed him down. His armor crackled with strands of black power, and he collapsed to his knees.
The Ranger clenched his jaw. “Still not…strong enough…”
Morc and Nero regrouped and charged at the Ranger.
Rail Black climbed to his feet and went on the defensive, blocking and parrying their blows.
“You’re a fool to try using darkness to fight against darkness,” Morc said. “It shows how weak your little Rainbow Line really is!”
Rail Black slashed her aside. “I don’t care if I use darkness. Not if it means I can stop you!”
His armor burst with darkness and powered down with a wave of black, washing Tyler into unconsciousness.
The Rail Rangers stayed on board the Liner. They charged deeper into the darkness towards the Castle Terminal. The spiritual pressure nearly crushed the Rail Zords, buckling armor with bursts of spark.
Asa, Kip, Bailey and Kari controlled the Liner from the cockpit. The vibrations nearly tossed them to the floor.
“We can’t make it any deeper!” Asa shouted.
“You know what Tyler would say,” Bailey told him. “'Will it to happen! Keep pushing forward!'”
Kip sighed. “That’s a terrible Tyler impression.”
“You have one?” Bailey asked.
Kip rolled his eyes. “No.”
“Then shush,” she said. “Keep moving forward, guys! It’s time to take care of business!”
The Rail Liner punctured through the darkness.
Tyler’s vision blurred into focus. He found himself on the ground, surrounded by nothing but thick clouds of darkness. He felt worn and beaten on an emotional level, as if someone used his soul as a punching bag.
He sighed. “So I failed…even using the power of darkness.” He sat up, slowly, his body aching. “There has to be something I can do…”
He pulled his legs to his chest and leaned his chin on his knees.
“Tyler…” a voice spoke into his mind. He lifted his head and looked around, but saw no one.
“Tyler…” the voice whispered again.
This time he recognized the voice. His mother. Kimberly Hart. The Phoenix.
“Mom…?” he whispered back.
“Tyler…” she whispered, either as Kimberly or the Phoenix, or perhaps both, Tyler didn’t know. But her voice warmed him either way. “Darkness is always vast. It swallows up the light in an instant. There is only one force that can counter that. Or maybe I should say…only one is needed. Dreams, hopes, fantasy, prayers, and the power connecting them all…imagination.”
Suddenly, he heard the roar of an engine in the distance. It sounded like a train. A train!
The Rail Liner throttled into the darkness and skid to a halt. The doors opened, and Asa, Kip, Bailey and Kari rushed out.
“Tyler!” Bailey shouted as they ran towards their leader. She jumped at him with a hug, wrapping her arms around him. “You’re OK!”
Tyler sighed with relief. “I am now.”
“What happened to you?” Kip asked.
“It was the Emissary,” Tyler said. “He blasted the Rail Liner to get at me. Then I fought him and…I passed out and woke up here.”
“We’re right by the Castle Terminal,” Asa said as he looked into the darkness. “We’re close.”
Tyler smirked. “Let’s get even closer…”
The Emissary sat in his throne on the top floor of the Castle Terminal. He looked towards the open balcony, that gave view of the darkness enveloping all of Creation.
Two minions, Baron Nero and Marchioness Morc, stood at his side.
“It is time,” Morc said, her voice as haggard as her appearance. “Our time. The darkness has…”
She stopped when she looked out the balcony. The Marchioness noticed a glimmer of light in the distance. “Is that…”
“He comes,” the Emissary said.
The light grew and became visible; the Rail Liner, glowing with power, throttling through the air towards the Castle Terminal. The train showed no sign of slowing. And its light intensified.
The Rail Liner punctured through the Castle Terminal with a massive explosion. Secondary explosions tore the structure apart, ripping through its foundation. The Castle Terminal crumbled.
The Emissary, Nero and Morc leapt clear, streaking through waves of darkness and landing on the surface of the moon.
When they looked up, they saw the Rail Liner throttle from the debris. The train zipped across the landscape, passing through to reveal the six rangers: Tyler, Asa, Kip, Bailey, Kari, and Akira.
The Emissary smirked at the sight of them.
“Tyler…” he said. “How dare you…?”
Tyler smirked back. “Emissary…I tried to defeat you using the power of darkness. I was wrong…Darkness might be strong, but we have our own power. We fight using the power of our imagination. Until the end.”
The Emissary laughed, lifting his hand as if shielding his eyes. “You’re practically sparkling,” he said mockingly. “I suppose this is how it should be.”
He flared with darkness that shifted him into his monster form.
The teens armed their bracers, each equipped with a miniature train model.
“Express charge!” they shouted as they thrust their fists while triggering their bracers.
Their trains snapped free, pulsed with energy, and wrapped around them as they morphed into their armor.
“RAIL RANGER ONE, RED. RAIL RANGER ONE, RED.”
“RAIL RANGER TWO, BLUE. RAIL RANGER TWO, BLUE.”
“RAIL RANGER THREE, YELLOW. RAIL RANGER THREE, YELLOW.”
“RAIL RANGER FOUR, GREEN. RAIL RANGER FOUR, GREEN.”
“RAIL RANGER FIVE, PINK. RAIL RANGER FIVE, PINK.”
“RAIL RANGER SIX, ORANGE. RAIL RANGER SIX, ORANGE.”
“Liner Task Force!” Rail Red shouted. Together, they called out: “Rail Rangers!”
The Emissary pointed towards the Rangers. “Krows!”
The Shadow Liner grunts charged to attack.
The Rail Rangers armed their swords. They bashed through the Krows with massive bursts of spark, slashing and hacking them aside. The Krows crackled with energy and collapsed, exploding into dust.
The Rangers advanced on the three leaders of the Shadow Line. And the three villains returned the charged.
The opponents slammed against one another, weapons clanging and clashing.
Rail Orange circled Nero and slashed the villain with a burst of spark. He slashed again, and again, each blow staggering the villain.
Nearby, the other four Rail Rangers circled around Marchioness Morc, swinging and slashing their weapons. The villain twirled her staff, parrying and blocking, but barely managing to keep up with the assault.
The villain stepped back and started to counter, swinging her staff through wide arcs. She slashed the Rangers one-by-one, staff sparking on impact.
Rail Blue armed his Home Trigger and fired bursts of blue energy. The blasts struck Morc with bursts of spark, knocking her off guard.
Rail Green armed his Tunnel Axe, and Rail Yellow armed her Signal Hammer. They leapt through the air and chopped towards Morc. She lifted her staff, blocked, and knocked the Rangers aside.
Rail Pink lunged with her Rail Claw, stabbing and slashing the villain with bursts of spark. She spun with a wide slash that sparked on impact, and lunged with a punch, bashing the weapon against the villain with a burst of spark.
Rail Blue armed his Rail Blade and leapt through the air towards the villain. The Green Ranger and Yellow Ranger swung their weapons, bashing the Blue Ranger’s feet to shoot him forward.
The Blue Ranger shot through the air and stabbed Morc with massive bursts of spark that knocked her off her feet.
Meanwhile, Nero snapped his hat at Rail Orange, using the edge of the hat like a spinning blade.
The Orange Ranger slashed the hat aside and lunged at Nero. He swung his sword through diagonal strikes, slashing the villain with bursts of spark. Rail Orange stabbed Nero, sending him staggering backward and dropping to his knees.
Rail Orange stepped back and slid his Drill Railer Charger into his saber, energizing the blade with orange power.
Nero staggered to his feet. “I will not lose. I will not!”
Nero charged at the Ranger, and Rail Orange returned the charge.
The villain chopped his blade. Rail Orange parried, spun, and swung through a streak of energy, ripping through Nero with massive bursts of spark. The Ranger turned and struck again, swinging through streaks of power that tore into Nero. Explosions ripped through the villain, sending him staggering backward.
Rail Orange lifted his sword; energy circled the blade like a drill. He lunged and speared through Nero with massive bursts of spark.
Nearby, Rail Red dual-wielded his Rail Slasher and Rail Blade. He clashed with the Emissary, blades clanging and sparking on impact.
The Red Ranger swung both weapons at the Emissary; the villain blocked, and their weapons locked, pressing against one another.
Rail Red pushed the villain back, pivoted, and swung a flurry of slashes, striking the the villain, each strike sparking on impact. He spun and swung both weapons, slashing the villain with bursts of spark that sent him staggering backward.
The six Rangers regrouped and armed their team cannon, the Liner Bazooka.
“Liner Bazooka!” they shouted as they aimed towards the Emissary. “Rail Rush!”
They triggered a pulse of energy that twirled with their colors; the pulse blasted through the Emissary with massive bursts of spark, bashing him off his feet. He crashed and tumbled as secondary explosions ripped across his body.
The impact knocked him back into his human form with a burst of darkness.
Slowly, the Emissary pushed himself to his feet. But his eyes rolled back, and he started to collapse.
Nero and Morc ran to his side and grabbed his arms to keep him from falling.
“Your Majesty!” Morc shouted. “Use our darkness to replenish what you’ve lost…”
Nero nodded in agreement. “I, Nero, would gladly become a part of your power.”
“Stop…” the Emissary said. “Don’t start getting sentimental on me now.”
“Of course not!” Morc shouted.
“Your Majesty,” Nero said. “Let us meet again, in the Great Darkness.”
The Emissary nodded. “Yes,” he said, his voice soft. “We will meet again.”
He grabbed their hands, and with pulses of power, absorbed their darkness and energy, their very essence, until they vanished into nothingness.
The Emissary screamed and erupted with a geyser of darkness, tinted red. He shifted back into his monster form, and his eyes glowed with crimson power.
The shockwave hurled waves of darkness, smashing the Rangers with massive bursts of spark, hurling all but Rail Red off their feet.
Rail Blue, Rail Green, Rail Yellow, Rail Orange, and Rail Pink collapsed; their armor powered down with pulses of light.
Rail Red stood his ground, lifting his Rail Slasher forward, as the shockwave blasted over him.
The waves of power died own, and the Red Ranger lowered his blade.
“So…” Rail Red said. “You’ve gotten stronger again?”
The Emissary said nothing. He charged at his opponent, and Rail Red returned the charge.
Their weapons clashed with bursts of spark.
The Emissary swung wide, and the Red Rager ducked and rolled beneath the blow. The Ranger shot to his feet and stabbed towards the Emissary. But the villain blocked and kicked the Ranger, staggering him.
Rail Red slashed again. The Emissary dodged and slashed the Ranger with a burst of spark. The villain slashed again, and again, each strike sparking on impact. A final slash sparked on impact and whipped the Ranger off his feet.
Rail Red crashed and dropped his sword as he tumbled backward.
“Tyler…” the Emissary said as he stalked towards his opponent. “I can crush you at last.”
Nearby, Asa sat up and grabbed his Express Charger. “Guys…give Tyler your power!”
They nodded and grabbed their own Express Chargers. They tossed the chargers at the Red Ranger; he rolled into a crouched stance and caught them.
The Emissary chopped at Rail Red, but he rolled aside, and the blade struck the ground with bursts of spark.
The Ranger slid the Blue Express Charger into his bracer, which spoke the command: “TRANSFER: RAIL RANGER ONE TO BLUE”
He morphed into the Blue Ranger. The Emissary carved through the ground with a shock wave that shot towards the Ranger. But he Blue Ranger leapt over the attack.
He landed and slid another charger into his bracer: “TRANSFER: RAIL RANGER ONE TO YELLOW”
He morphed into the Yellow Ranger in time to dodge another blow. Then he slid another charger into his bracer: “TRANSFER: RAIL RANGER ONE TO GREEN”
He morphed into the Green Ranger and flipped backward.
The Emissary swung his blade, firing a wave of darkness tinted red.
The Ranger leapt over the blast while sliding a charger into his bracer: “TRANSFER: RAIL RANGER ONE TO PINK”
He morphed into the Pink Ranger and dashed through the air.
He changed chargers again: “TRANSFER: RAIL RANGER ONE TO ORANGE”
He morphed into the Orange Ranger and landed behind the Emissary.
The Ranger slid his golden Express Charger into his bracer. His armor flashed and glowed, rippling with the colors of his entire team, swirls of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and pink.
His bracer spoke the command: “TRANSFER: RAIL RANGER ONE TO RAINBOW”
The Rainbow Ranger held his Rail Slasher in his right hand and the Orange Ranger’s Rail Breaker in his left hand.
The Emissary charged to attack.
Rail Rainbow dashed through a blur of light, swinging his swords through a streak of power. He slashed the Emissary with massive bursts of spark. The Ranger pivoted and slashed again, and again, swinging both blades through flurries of strikes that flashed with power, ripping into the Emissary.
Secondary explosions ignited through the Emissary. He staggered and nearly fell, but regained his balance and chopped toward the Ranger’s head.
The Ranger lifted his blades and cross-blocked the saber. He kept one blade up and swung the other, slashing the villain’s sword from his hand. Rail Rainbow pressed forward with another slash, striking the Emissary with bursts of spark that nearly whipped him off his feet.
Rail Rainbow grabbed tightly to both his weapons. He dashed and swung wide, slashing through the Emissary with massive bursts of spark that tore open his side.
The Emissary staggered. Strands of power erupted from his body as secondary explosions tore through him.
The Ranger armed the Liner Bazooka and pressed it to the Emissary’s chest. He triggered a blast at point-blank range, puncturing through the Emissary with massive bursts of spark that hurled him backward.
The villain crashed and tumbled. Darkness pulsed around him as he reverted to his human form.
Smoke and steam sizzled from his wounds. The villain looked worn and beaten. And yet, he managed to lift his head.
He looked towards the Rangers and extended his hand. “That…that light…” he whispered. He almost seemed amazed at the sight of Tyler’s new form, reaching towards it. “That light…”
He collapsed and vanished into a cloud of darkness.
Rail Rainbow sighed with relief. He shifted back into Rail Red and collapsed to his knee, using his sword for balance.
Beyond all space and time
He huddled in the darkness, the Pattern spinning before him, woven from the threads of the lives of men. So many of those threads ended.
He should have been able to protect them. Why couldn’t he? Against his will, the names began to replay in his mind. The names of those who had died because of him.
As humankind fought its last battle, Tommy was forced to watch the deaths. He could not turn away.
The Dark One chose then to attack him in force. The pressure came again, striving to crush Tommy into nothing. He couldn’t move. Every bit of his essence, his determination and his strength focused on keeping the Dark One from ripping him apart.
He could only watch as they died.
He saw Troy fall victim to darkness and slaughter his entire team, recruited at too-young an age, and not prepared enough, or experienced enough, to face the Last Battle. Tommy wept for them, not just for what was lost, but for what would never be.
Adam, one of his closest and dearest friends, ignited as bright as a star. He sacrificed himself willingly to stop the Forsaken named Long, to save his team.
All of Lightspeed Rescue, a team Tommy fought alongside during the Second Countdown to Destruction…gone, in the blink of an eye.
He wept for Dominic. He wept for those he never knew, Overdrive, RPM, Bio-Beast, Digi, Jet Force.
So many. So very many.
YOU ARE LOSING.
Tommy huddled down further. What could he do? His plan of stopping the Dark One, he would create a nightmare if he did that. His own intentions betrayed him.
GIVE IN, ADVERSARY. WHY KEEP FIGHTING? STOP FIGHTING AND REST.
He was tempted. Oh, how he was tempted. What would Ashley think? Or his sons, Tyler and Nick? How ashamed would they be if they knew that in that moment, Tommy wanted to just let go?
Pain washed across him, and he screamed again.
“Please let it end!”
Tommy huddled down, writhing, trembling. But still, their screams assaulted him. Death upon death. He held on, barely.
“No…” he whispered.
VERY WELL, the Dark One said. I HAVE ONE MORE THING TO SHOW YOU. ONE MORE PROMISE OF WHAT CAN BE.
The Dark One spun threads of possibility one last time.
All became darkness.
—To be continued…Chapter 16