Abbadon clutched his side. His wound sizzled with power that ate into the core of his being. He didn’t understand how. How could a simple dagger strike cause such damage? Kill him?
He looked to his side. His younger self lay next to him. Exhausted. Injured.
Young Simon groaned and started to push himself up. But he collapsed onto his chest.
Abbadon looked at their surroundings. The soulscape of the Spoke started to blotch with what looked like black ink. The blotches extended with black tendrils that seemed to infect the entire landscape, like cancerous growths, disease.
The Dark One…
The taint reached towards the crystal that Abbadon nearly shattered, before his younger self stopped him. If the taint reached the crystal…
Abbadon pushed himself up. He grabbed his younger self by the shirt and started to drag him away. The villain extended his hand, which pulsed with dark power, and parted the soulscape.
He dragged Simon through the opening, and they stepped into the Bore, which appeared as a dark cavern that stretched to the Dark One’s prison. The effort struck Abbadon with vertigo, and he collapsed, pain shooting through his mind and soul. His blood felt as if about to boil, and his spirit felt like white-hot ice.
He looked ahead, to where the black of the Dark One extended. In front of that black, Tommy faced Shadow Blade. The two opponents looked frozen in time, locked in combat, with Tommy brushing up against the presence of the Dark One.
Beyond all space and time
Black surrounded him. Tommy looked into the void, the place that was not a place, and sensed the presence of the Dark One wrap around him like a damp, oily blanket.
Tommy tightened his fists and steeled his resolve. “Hello again.”
“We’ve got to stop meeting like this, huh?”
Images flashed through Tommy’s mind, visions of the Pattern, and the Gears of the Wheel of Time. He saw the champions battle in Angel Grove. He saw Ashley take charge of the Command Chamber. And he saw Simon — Abbadon– struck down by a younger version of himself.
The Dark One’s essence crept into the Spoke of the Wheel of Time. Simon had exposed the cosmic inner-mechanisms of the Wheel, the Gears of Fate, and the Dark One stood poised to take advantage of the opening.
THE WHEEL IS VULNERABLE. I CAN MAKE WHAT YOU CALLED THE SHATTERING LOOK LIKE A MERCY.
SIMON HAS FALLEN.
YOUR SON IS DEAD.
WHO IS NEXT?
The Command Chamber, California
Ashley and Alpha continued to call out to the surviving heroes, who regrouped in the Command Chamber. Meanwhile, Ashley did her best to coordinate the fighting in Angel Grove/Demon City. She couldn’t teleport in or out of the city, and direct travel was impossible, but she managed to open several comm-lines.
Through the comm-lines, she spoke to Astro Red, a version of Tommy Oliver from the past.
“Tommy, this is Ashley.”
“Past Ashley or Future Ashley? Er, or would that be Present Ashley…?”
“Let’s stop reality from ending, then we can sort that out later.”
“Yes dear.” She could hear his smile.
“I’m setting coordinates for the SPD teams to regroup near one of the Armada fissures. I want your team to join them.”
“What’s the situation?”
“The Armada field commanders are regrouping at that location. We need to take them out to keep the fighting from getting even more out of control.”
“Got it,” Astro Red said. “What about these White Jokers?”
“They’re being led by a group of the Dark One’s generals created by Aginor. I’m sending a strike force to stop them, lead by a younger you.”
“…Which 'younger me’?
Angel Grove/Demon City Strike Force
The Green Dragon Ranger, White Dino Thunder Ranger, Kamen Rider Black, and Kamen Rider Chalice charged through war-torn streets bordered by dead trees and demonic vines. Their mission: find and destroy the Dark One’s Last Generals, created by Aginor.
The four champions moved towards a group of White Jokers that took the form of monsters from Ryuki’s rogue gallery, including Zenobiter, Terabiter, Gigazelle, Megazelle and Negazelle.
Zenobiter hopped at the Green Ranger with an overhead slash. The Green Ranger used his Dragon Dagger to block; he round-kicked the monster and followed with a spin-kick, bashing the creature backward.
Chalice leapt from behind the Ranger and chopped the monster with a burst of spark.
Terabiter charged at the Green Ranger and Chalice. The monster swung his weapon wide, slashing the heroes with bursts of spark, whipping them backward.
Chalice rolled into a crouched stance, aimed his bow weapon, and fired; blasts struck Terabiter with bursts of spark.
The Green Ranger leapt forward and swung his Dagger.
“Dragon’s Claw!” He fired a blade of green energy that struck Terabiter with massive bursts of spark, hurling him backward.
The Green Ranger landed; Gigazelle, Megazelle and Negazelle charged towards him to attack.
Kamen Rider Black blocked the monsters with volleys of punches and kicks, pommeling the monsters with strength and speed. Kamen Rider Chalice moved to his side. Chalice swung upward and downward, blade sparking on impact.
The White Dino Thunder Ranger pounced with a scissor kick that bashed two monsters aside, and while still in midair, he snapped a spin-kick that bashed a third monster off his feet.
The Green Dragon Ranger, Dino Thunder White Ranger, Kamen Rider Black, and Kamen Rider Chalice regrouped on a ruined rooftop that looked down upon a wide crater. Strands of energy crackled within the crater, which ebbed with darkness.
Within the crater stood the Last Generals: Ankh, Uva, Kazari, Gamel, and Mezool.
The monsters stood in a circle, back-to-back, and ebbed with dark power, a ritual to send their power and influence to the White Jokers spread across the city.
Dino Slayer tilted his head. “What are they doing?”
“I don’t know,” the Green Dragon Ranger said. “But we have to shut them down.”
Kamen Rider Black tightened his hands into fists. “Enough talk,” he said. “It’s time to act!”
Black Sun leapt into the crater, and Chalice followed without a word.
Dragon Ranger sighed. “Come on.”
He leapt after them, and Dino Slayer followed.
Kamen Rider Black and Kamen Rider Chalice landed in the crater and charged at Uva.
Uva hurled bolts of lightning from his horns. Black Sun and Chalice leapt over the blasts and somersaulted through the air.
Chalice landed with a kick that smashed the villain’s chest. The Rider pressed forward and swung his bow upward, slashing the monster with a burst of spark.
Black Sun landed a flying kick. But as soon as his feet touched the ground, Kazari tackled him. The Rider knocked the villain’s arms away and kicked the monster’s head.
Ankh punched the air; a stream of flame shot out and lashed towards the Dragon Ranger and Dino Slayer. The Green and White Rangers dove aside and rolled across the ground.
Quickly, they rose to their feet and leapt through the air to attack, side-by-side.
But Gamal armed his wrist cannons and opened fire, blasting the two Rangers from the air with bursts of spark. The Rangers crashed onto their backs.
Ankh and Gamal charged at the heroes.
Dino Slayer and Dragon Ranger rolled into crouched stances.
“Dragon’s Fang!” Dragon Ranger hurled a bolt of jade energy.
“Drago Arrows!” Dino Slayer used his saber to fire a volley of energy arrows.
The blasts smashed and stabbed the generals with bursts of spark, sending them staggering.
Mezool transformed her body into water and lashed out into dozens of whips, thrashing the two Rangers with bursts of spark, whipping them off their feet
Angel Grove/Demon City SPD
Toppled cars dotted the street, where Kamen Rider G3 and Kamen Rider G3-X finished off a group of X-Borgs.
A group of White Jokers emerged from around the block. They transformed into monsters from the Time Rangers’ rogue gallery, including: Fatcatfish, Iron Spike, Reihou, Izout, Univolt, Samurhive, Vexicon, Venomark, and Harbel.
Fatcatfish opened fire with his cannon arm. High-speed, high-yield rounds tore through the streets. G3 and G3-X took cover behind a toppled car covered with soot and vines. The monster’s blasts ripped through the ruined vehicle.
Suddenly, DECA Red leapt through the air with his blasters in hand.
“D-Magnums!” He fired rapid blasts that sparked against Fatcatfish, knocking him off balance.
The Red SPD Ranger landed and snapped into an offensive stance.
“Come on,” he said to the two Riders. “We’re pressing forward.”
The Red Ranger twirled his guns, charged, and opened fire at the monsters. G3 and G3-X moved out and joined him. G3 armed his blaster– the GM-01 Scorpion– and G3-X armed his cannon– the GX-05 Cerberus.
The heroes opened fire, bullets sparking against the monster.
DECA Blue, DECA Green, DECA Yellow, and DECA Pink provided cover fire from the ruined buildings surrounding the streets.
The Blue SPD Ranger fired his D-Sniper, DECA Green fired his D-Blaster, and the Pink and Yellow SPD Rangers fired their D-Shots.
Iron Spike lifted his massive club. He used it as a shield to push through the bullet barrage.
The Blue, Green, Yellow, and Pink SPD Rangers leapt to street level and regrouped with DECA Red, along with Kamen Rider G3 and Kamen Rider G3-X.
Vexicon tossed a handful of grenades at the heroes. The bombs exploded, scattering Rangers and Riders with bursts of flame and shrapnel. Reihou, Izout, and Univolt opened fire with their blasters, shooting the heroes to keep them separated, so they could not regroup.
Iron Spike and Venomark moved in.
Iron Spike swung his two-handed club, bashing Rangers left and right. The monster swung at G3-X’s chest. The Rider caught the club, but the monster overpowered the Rider and bashed him to the street.
Venomark swung his saber, hacking and slashing past Rangers as bullets and energy blasts struck their armor.
Above, DECA Break, DECA Gold, and DECA Nova arrived at the scene, somersaulting through the air.
DECA Break slammed his hand against the ground.
“Electric Fist!” His palm fired tendrils of electricity that thrashed the monsters with bursts of spark.
DECA Nova and DECA Gold moved in to attack the creatures while they were off guard.
“Supreme Fist!” DECA Nova swung an energized fist that smashed through a monster’s chest.
“D-Smashers!” DECA Gold armed her blasters and wielded them like clubs, bashing through monsters as she whirled around them, blasting at point-blank range.
Additional back-up arrived, SPD teams from other worlds: the Masked Rangers of Eltar, the Defender Rangers of Triforia, the Bio Rangers of Edenoi, and the Nitro Rangers of the Rigel Expanse. Also, non-Earth Ranger teams that pre-dated SPD: the Prism Rangers of Eltar and the Aquition Rangers of Aquitar.
The Masked Rangers armed their cannon, attached to a booster pack that materialized on the Red Masked Ranger’s back.
“Mask Cannon!” they shouted. “Fire!”
The cannon fired a pulse beam that blew through several monsters with massive bursts of spark and flame, scattering their ranks.
The Defender Rangers and Prism Rangers moved in to attack the monsters before they could recover.
Defender Red, Defender Black, and Defender Blue unsheathed their blades.
“V-Swords!” They slashed through monsters, blades sparking on impact.
Defender Pink and Defender Yellow provided cover.
“V-Blasters!” They fired bursts of energy, blasting through monsters before they could close in and attack.
The Red Prism Ranger stood alongside the Red Defender Ranger. Prism Red armed his sword, a crystal-red saber.
“Prism Fire!” He slashed through a streak of energy that tore through a monster with massive bursts of spark.
The Green Prism Ranger activated his Prism Knuckles, jade-colored gauntlets of crystal.
“Prism Flash!” The Green Ranger swung energized fists that bashed through monsters, blows sparking on impact.
The Yellow Prism Ranger armed batons of yellow crystal.
“Baton Flash!” She struck the batons with a burst of light that washed over the monsters, sending them staggering.
Prism Pink leapt towards the monsters and armed her Prism Boots.
“Flash Kick!” Her kick flashed with power and battered through the monsters, bashing them backward with massive bursts of spark.
The Blue Prism Ranger rolled into a crouched stance and surrounded himself with a sphere of blue crystal energy.
“Prism Bolt!” He shot through a pulse of blue light that tore through monsters with massive bursts of spark, hurling them through the air.
Another wave of White Jokers took the form of Vorlock monsters, including Igua Doggler, Skull Doggler, Magne Doggler, Giba Doggler, Dokuro Doggler. Godai Doggler, Gamesu Doggler, Kinoga Doggler, Hariga Doggler, Bard Doggler and Magma Doggler.
The Bio Rangers, Nitro Rangers, and Aquition Rangers regrouped and faced the new wave of monsters.
The Bio Rangers pulled out their sidearms.
“Bio Blasters!” they shouted. “Electro Beam!”
They fired lances of energy that combined into a single bolt of power that shot towards the monsters.
The five Nitro Rangers armed their team’s bazooka.
“Nitro Bazooka!” they shouted. “Fire!”
The bazooka fired a massive cannon blast.
The Aquition Rangers armed their team bazooka.
“Aqua Bazooka!” they shouted. “Aquitar Laser Blast!”
The cannon fired a pulse beam that shot towards the monsters.
The Aquition pulse blast, Nitro cannon blast, and Bio beam blast combined into a massive comet of power that exploded through the monsters, scattering them to ash with a thundering boom that shook the entire city block.
Angel Grove/Demon City Strike Force
Gamel lunged with powerful punches, bashing the Green Dragon Ranger’s golden chest shield. The Green Ranger tried to block, but the general moved with the strength of a wrecking ball. Each blow slammed its target with unstoppable force.
The Green Ranger’s golden shield cracked, and then shattered with a burst of golden energy. Gamel kicked the Ranger upside the head, whipping him backward.
The monster lifted the Ranger by the helmet and squeezed; Green Ranger’s visor cracked from the pressure.
Dragon Ranger cursed beneath his breath.
Gamel lunged with a tackle. But instead of trying to block, the Green Ranger dropped and thrust his hands.
“Dragon’s Fang!” He fired a point-blank blast of jade energy that ruptured the monster’s midsection.
Kamen Rider Black somersaulted through the air from behind the Green Ranger.
“Rider Kick!” His kick energized with crimson power and bashed Gamel, tossing him backward.
Secondary explosions tore through the general, and he exploded into pieces.
Kamen Rider Chalice swiped two cards through his bow: “CHOP; TORNADO”
He twirled like a tornado, shot at Ankh, and knife-hand chopped the villain with a burst of spark that dropped him to the ground.
Ankh rolled back to his feet.
Chalice swiped a card through his bow: “BIO”
The Rider’s bow fired a vine that wrapped around Ankh and pinned him in place.
Dino Slayer leapt through the air to attack the general.
“Super Dino Mode!” His armor flashed with golden energy; black blades extended from his chest and fists.
The Dino Thunder White Ranger landed and punched his fist blades through Ankh. Explosions tore through the general, and he exploded into ash.
Uva leapt at Dino Slayer. The mantis-like general slashed his claws. The White Ranger blocked and swung his fist blades wide, slashing the monster with bursts of spark.
Kamen Rider Chalice turned his attention to Uva. The Rider swiped two cards through his bow: “DRILL; TORNADO”
The Rider leapt into the air and launched a spinning corkscrew kick that tore through Uva, tearing the monster apart with massive bursts of spark and flame.
The Rider landed in a crouched stance with his bow held backward.
Kazari pounced at him. But Black Sun tackled the monster aside. They crashed and rolled; Kamen Rider Black flipped back to his feet, as the monster pushed himself up.
Black Sun lunged with an energized punch.
“Rider Punch!” His fist radiated with crimson energy and smashed through the monster; explosions burst from his body, tearing him into pieces.
Mezool transformed into water and lashed out with tendrils, whipping Dragon Ranger, Dino Slayer, Black Sun, and Chalice, blows sparking on impact.
Chalice crashed, rolled to his feet, and swiped two cards through his bow: “FLOAT; TORNADO”
He leapt into the air, spun like a tornado, and shot at Mezool; his wind scattered the water of her body.
The Green Dragon Ranger moved in before the monster could reform. He swung his Dragon Dagger through a streak of jade energy.
“Dragon’s Claw!” He fired a blade of power that ripped through the monster’s watery body, vaporizing her into mist.
The Green Dragon Ranger, Dino Slayer, Black Sun, and Chalice regrouped.
The Green Ranger opened a commline to the Command Chamber. “Ashley, we’ve taken out the Last Generals.”
“Great,” Ashley said. “With them out of the way…the Dark One’s infection of reality has slowed by…10 percent.”
Dragon Ranger cursed beneath his breath. “That’s all?”
“I’m as disappointed as you are, dear.”
Green Ranger tilted his head. “Dear?”
Ashley ignored the confusion. “I’m sending you to another set of coordinates. We’ll have to do this one impossible task at a time.”
Angel Grove/Demon City Ultimate Power Rangers vs. Akuma
The Ultimate Power Rangers swarmed around Akuma. Their blades flashed with power, and their blasters burst with energy. But the Dark Man wielded his scythe with blinding speed, blocking and parrying the Rangers’ attacks.
The Red Rager leapt back, and his teammates regrouped around him.
The Green Ranger rolled his shoulder, injured by the Dark Man’s counterattacks. “A plan would be nice.”
“Stop him,” the Red Ranger said.
“That’s not a plan!” the Green Ranger shouted.
Akuma extended his hand.
“You speak of legacy, Child of the Dragon…” Akuma said. “Let me show you the legacy of you and your father…”
Akuma’s palm ebbed with black energy. The ground trembled and heaved, like a slow, dying breath. From the ground rose dozens of figures, the dead, but not just any dead. Akuma summoned the bodies of the Rangers and champions who had died in battle.
The Turbo Rangers appeared with their colors dulled, and armor tattered, like rags. Cracks and gaps in their helmets revealed skeletal faces, all that remained of their mortal bodies. The same skeletal remains showed beneath the tears and rips in their armor.
Ninja White and Ninja Yellow climbed from the rubble, their armor in even worse shape, their bodies barely held together by tendons and bone.
The Lightspeed Rangers. Digi Rangers. RPM. Bio-Beast. Jet Force. Seraph Rangers. They all rose, skeletal visages visible through shattered visors, faceplates and helmets.
The Ultimate Green Ranger sighed. “Zombie Rangers. Of course there are Zombie Rangers.”
Angel Grove/Demon City Rocky, Jason, and Zack
The Jason, Rocky and Zack of the present took cover within the rubble of a parking garage. For some reason, they couldn’t morph again, and they didn’t know why.
Rocky shrugged. “Maybe we’re just too old to pull off spandex.”
Jason looked towards the war-torn streets where they had battled Akuma before Tyler and the Ultimate Power Rangers showed up.
“We can’t just sit here,” he said. “Powers or no powers.”
“So what’s the plan?’ Zack asked.
The ground shook and started to rip open. A crack shot through the parking garage, which started to crumble down around them. The rangers started to run; the crack widened and collapsed into a void of crackling energy– an Armada fissure.
The fissure expanded by meters, and the three rangers fell into the maw.
The Command Chamber, California
Ashley pulled up an image on the Viewing Globe. It showed the ruins of the Enetron Matrix within Corinith City.
“This is it,” Ashley said. “This is how we’ll stabilize the vibrational frequencies that can get us back into Angel Grove.”
Blake arced an eyebrow. “Yeah, that’s good, because I was thinking it looked like a pile of useless rubble.”
Rachel nudged his ribs, but he simply smiled.
“I barely feel it when you do that anymore at this point,” Blake said.
Rachel rolled her eyes.
Ashley ignored them. “Corinith has the remains of an Enertron Matrix that we can get to,” she said. “We should be able to use it to calibrate the vibrational frequencies in Angel Grove.”
“Great,” Bradin said, less than enthusiastic. “Then what?”
Suddenly, the alarms blared.
“Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi!” Alpha shouted. “Ashley! Look!”
Ashley looked at the Viewing Globe as the image within changed. X-Borgs and Zergs covered the entire landscape in the desert, several miles away from the Command Chamber. Armada Action Commanders lead the attack wave.
“Not now…” she whispered.
Angel Grove/Demon City SPD
A group of White Jokers took the form of monsters from Kamen Rider Ryuki’s rogue gallery, including Gelnewt, Sonora Boomer, Garudothunder, Garudostorm, and Wiskraken.
They charged to flank the SPD teams. But the Time Rangers dropped in front of their path. The Rangers armed their Vol-Tech weapons and opened fire, blasting the monsters with bursts of spark.
Above, the DECA Rangers somersaulted through the air and joined the fight.
DECA Red and Time Red leapt through the air, side-by-side, and angled their jump towards Sonora Boomer.
“D-Magnums!” DECA Red opened fire with his twin blasters; bullets struck the monsters with bursts of spark.
“Time Strike!” Time Red energized his Vector Sabers and slashed through the monster, blades sparking on impact.
Gelnewt swung his cross-shaped blade towards DECA Green and Time Green.
The Green Time Force Ranger blocked, and the Green SPD Ranger opened fire with his blaster. Bolts of energy sparked against the monster and sent him staggering.
Time Blue connected his Vector Sabers into a single bladed staff.
“Vector Blast!” He swung his weapon and fired a blade of blue energy.
The blast knocked the tomahawk from the hands of Garudostorm. DECA Blue moved in, swung his D-Baton, and slashed the monster repeatedly, each blow sparking on impact.
Time Blue somersaulted through the air and landed while slashing through the monster.
DECA Yellow and DECA Pink charged and opened fire, blasts stabbing through monsters with bursts of spark.
Time Pink leapt through the air from behind them.
“Vol Sniper!” She triggered energy pulses that blasted through monsters with bursts of spark, sending them staggering.
Time Yellow moved on the monsters before they could regroup.
“Vector Divide!” He combined his sabers into a single bladed staff and swung through streaks of energy, slashing through monsters with bursts of spark.
The Command Chamber, California
The Rangers and Riders of the present split into groups.
Ashley and Chris would stay in the Command Chamber.
A small team– Koda, Shelby, Ivan, Nat, Kruger, Austin, and Leo would head to Corinith and retrieve the key components needed from the Enetron Matrix. Kruger would lead the mission, with help from Nat, and they would rely on the technical skills of Shelby for assistance.
The “Supernatural” team of Ryan, Eiji, Samuel, Zadie, and Shirogane would look for an alternate means to enter Demon City and slow the Dark One’s advance.
Two teams would protect the Command Chamber.
Team One: Ken, Zayden, Casey, RJ, Connor, Kira, Trent, Daggeron, Maddie and Xander.
Team Two: Teddy, Bradin, Ryan Phillips, Kirsten, Kou, Hunter, Blake, Justin Stewart, Rachel, and Nick.
Armada Action Commanders lead the attack wave against the Command Chamber. Their ranks included Juju, Bibaboo, Vannain, and Shieldon.
Hunter morphed into Crimson Thunder, and Blake morphed into Navy Thunder. They dashed through X-Borgs and Zergs and shot towards Juju to attack.
The witch-doctor-themed monster lifted his hand; darkness pulsed from his palm and splashed across the two Rangers, driving them to their knees. The energy intensified the darkness within the Rangers’ souls, filling them with emptiness and dread.
Teddy morphed into Samurai Red, leapt through the air, and struck the monster with a wide chop, knocking him backward and releasing his grip on the two Thunder Rangers.
Nearby, Kou morphed into Hurricane Green and ninja-dashed through blurs of motion, blade hacking and slashing through X-Borgs and Zergs. Bradin and Kirsten moved in behind him, morphed into Samurai Green and Samurai Yellow, and slashed their Spin Swords.
Meanwhile, Rachel morphed into Hurricane Blue and slashed her sword through a wave of energy, spawning a tidal wave that thrashed through grunts with bursts of spark. Ryan morphed into Samurai Blue and moved at her side, slashing through waves of water that struck down grunts before they could attack.
Bibaboo charged at the two Blue Rangers and thrust his wand. The jellyfish/fairy hybrid fired strands of electricity, whipping the Rangers with bursts of spark.
Nick morphed into Mystic Red, armed his staff, and fired a burst of flame that blasted the monster backward.
Justin Stewart morphed into Hurricane Yellow, tunneled beneath the ground, and burst upward with a shockwave that scattered grunts into the air.
The battle raged.
The Red Samurai Ranger slashed through an X-Borg; the blow nearly knocked the sword from his hand
He cursed beneath his breath. Any other day I could slash through these grunts without breaking a sweat.
But an enemy had slowly bitten away his strength and stamina. The enemy of age. In his late 20s, he no longer had the vigor of youth. He felt middle-age approach, although not even 30, and it already hurt like a bitch.
He’d spent so much time fighting. From his days as the Kiba Ranger, filling in for Kou, to his brief time as Zeo Red during the Second Countdown to Destruction, and then during his time as the Red Samurai Ranger.
He chopped through an X-Borg.
Then a Zerg.
The Red Samurai Ranger lost track of how many grunts he chopped down, each blow putting a dent into enemy lines. Through the corner of his visor, he kept an eye on his teammates.
He saw Bradin– Samurai Green– wield his sword alongside Kirsten– Samurai Yellow. Bradin had grown so much since Teddy first met him. Still cocky. Still arrogant. But not so much of a dick anymore. He cared about his teammates, and he learned the virtues of heroism and responsibility from his fellow Rangers.
Teddy felt proud of Bradin, and happy for Bradin and Kirsten. Bradin and Kirsten managed to form a strong relationship through their trials and struggles. Kirsten brought out the best in Bradin, and vice versa. Kirsten appeared timid and shy when Teddy first met her, but some of Bradin’s cockiness must have rubbed off on her, in a much more positive way– as confidence. She no longer felt like a fill-in for her sister, originally selected as the Yellow Samurai Ranger but unable to serve because of a demonic illness. Kirsten had come into her own. She believed in her ability. And it showed with every sword swing and kick.
Nearby, Hunter and Blake– Crimson Thunder and Navy Thunder– fought back-to-back. Teddy had gotten to know them rather well during their time on the run from Billy’s Ranger teams. The brothers came from an abusive household, raised as assassins. They lost both their parents and spent their entire childhood under the shadow of the Ikkazuchi Way.
Tommy and Simon had reached out to them. Offered them friends. Family. A home. The brothers reluctantly joined Tommy and Simon in the fight against the Jakanja, and along the way, Hunter and Blake fought for their humanity, piece-by-piece, struggle-by-struggle.
During that time, Blake and Rachel fell in love, an odd relationship, but one that brought the light out from within Blake’s darkened soul. When they looked at each other, when they smiled at each other, the hope was palpable. Rachel helped Blake recover from the trauma of his childhood. And Blake helped Rachel cope with the secrets of her past, when she first awakened her powers and accidentally killed her classmates in a tragic accident, back when she still called herself Tori, before she changed her name and moved to Angel Grove for a fresh start. Blake helped her to face that past instead of continuing to run from it.
Hunter found his love much later, when the Hurricane Rangers met Lauren Shiba, Simon’s half-sister. Strong. Confident. Powerful. Hunter admired her beauty and strength, and from that admiration came affection. Lauren lived life with her own pain, the pain of a foster child, but she drew strength from that struggle. And Hunter loved her for it. She was one of the few people who could make him smile.
And now she was missing. Hunter had drawn back into himself, grim, determined to fight and win to find her. The Ranger moved with fierce determination, quick and powerful strikes that battered and slashed through the enemy with no mercy.
Kou– Hurricane Green– fought near the two brothers.
Kou. Half Dai. Half Gorma. He’d lost his mother and brother to the Rangers’ war against the Gorma Tribe. And he’d died at the hands of Lord Zedd. Upon his death, the part of his soul that was Dai went to Heaven, and the part of his soul that was Gorma went to Hell. The Gorma part of him, the part that went to Hell, came back– that was Kou now.
He struggled with this existence upon his resurrection. Not really Kou, not fully. But Kou, still. Everything dark and painful about the boy. Everything evil. Kou had nearly succumbed to that evil. But he learned to stop defining himself by the past, and instead, focus on who he could be in the now. He could be a Ranger. A hero. He wouldn’t shackle himself with the constraints of prior identity. He was himself. Not Kou. Not Kou’s dark side. He was himself.
Kou fought alongside Justin Stewart– Hurricane Yellow. Samurai Red couldn’t hear them but assumed that Justin was snapping off one-liners, despite the stakes and pending doom. That was how he dealt with fear. “It’s either that or I piss my pants,” he’d say.
Justin. Another orphan. Another Ranger who lost his parents and grew up in the foster system as a result. He lived his whole life wanting one thing. Acceptance.
Samurai Red slashed through another group of grunts. His gaze drifted ahead, to where Nick– Mystic Red– fought against Vannain, the hammer-head-shark/bug-themed Action Commander.
Teddy didn’t know Nick that well. Tommy and Ashley’s son from an alternate future, the teen came from a post-apocalyptic world where the Dark One conquered reality. Raised by mystics called the Askani, he came to the present to prevent that hellish world from happening.
Nick initially acted cold and distant to his Mystic Force teammates. He wanted to save everyone, but felt he needed to carry the burden of that responsibility alone, just like his father. His determination burned like the fire of his power. Eventually, he opened up to his teammates, let them close– within reason– and accepted their help.
The Red Samurai Ranger looked to his left, and he saw Samurai Blue– Ryan Phillips– move through a group of X-Borgs with elegant and agile strikes.
Ryan. Sweet, beautiful Ryan. He looked at the world through a child’s eyes, unblemished by darkness, despite losing his father at a young age. So much loss, for all the Rangers. But in Ryan, Teddy saw that loss could lead to compassion. To tenderness. And love. Power.
When Teddy lost Bryce– his first boyfriend and secret prince of the Vorlock, transformed into the demon warrior Juzou– Ryan was there for Teddy in all the right ways.
Samurai Red nearly lost himself in thought. Shieldon took advantage of the distraction and moved in, but the creature’s armored shells didn’t lend themselves well to stealth, and the Red Ranger noticed.
Daydream later, Teddy, he told himself. You’re the Red Ranger. You have work to do.
Samurai Red hopped at Shieldon and chopped. The monster blocked and kicked the Red Ranger backward. He crashed and tumbled across the dirt, and quickly rolled to his feet.
Two Action Commanders, Daiyarl and Stargull, lunged at the Red Samurai Ranger.
Daiyarl chopped his tendril-tipped staff. Samurai Red blocked and slashed the monster aside. But Stargull leapt onto the Ranger’s back and started to leech his energy, which pulsed from his armor through streaks of red power.
The Red Ranger cursed beneath his breath. Getting sloppy…
He swiped the Symbol Disc on his sword, igniting a pulse of fiery energy that surprised the monster and bashed him backward, releasing his grip on the Red Ranger.
Samurai Red hopped around and chopped the monster, blade sparking on impact.
We’ve all been through so much…is this where it ends?
Angel Grove/Demon City SPD
The Astro Rangers moved closer to the SPD teams. The Astros tried to fight their way towards the Armada Generals, but White Jokers kept dropping in their way.
On a cliff of ruined city blocks and buildings, a group of White Jokers took the form of monsters from Kamen Rider Ryuki’s rogue gallery, including Buzzstinger Hornet, Buzzstinger Bee, Buzzstinger Wasp, Buzzstinger Bloom and Buzzstinger Frost.
The virtual heroes Gavan, Sharivan, Shaider, Nova Black, and Nova White jumped to the battle scene to join the Astro Rangers.
Astro Red and Sharivan moved towards Buzzstinger Hornet from both sides. They swung their swords, slashing the creature with bursts of spark.
They each snapped a side-kick, bashing the monster backward.
The Red Astro Ranger stepped back and powered up his weapon.
“Saber Slash!” He slashed through streaks of power that ripped through the monster.
Astro Blue and Shaider charged at Buzzstinger Frost.
The Blue Astro Ranger armed his weapon.
“Astro Tomahawk! Tomahawk Hurricane!”
He twirled like a tornado and circled the monster, chopping the creature with bursts of spark. The attack took the monster off guard, and Shaider took advantage; the virtual hero lunged and swung wide, slashing the monster.
Buzzstinger Bee fired volleys of arrows that Nova Black and Astro Black dodged.
The heroes leapt through the air to attack.
They landed and chopped, tearing through the monster and sending him staggering backward.
Astro Yellow, Astro Pink, and Nova White surrounded Buzzstinger Bloom.
“Astro Capture!” The Pink Astro Ranger armed her satellite cannon and fired rings of energy that splashed against the monster. The beams suspended him in place.
Astro Yellow and Nova White armed their weapons.
They fired energy darts that punctured through the monster and whipped him off his feet.
Gavan and Astro Silver charged towards Buzzstinger Wasp. The Space Sheriff unsheathed his sword, and the Silver Astro Ranger activated his arm blaster.
“Silver Blazer! Blazer Impact!” Astro Silver charged and opened fire with golden energy darts.
The darts punctured the monster; Astro Silver closed in and hopped with an overhead slash that streaked with power. His blade chopped through the monster with bursts of spark.
Gavan lunged and swung his own blade.
“Gavan Dynamic!” The sword charged with energy and slashed through the monster with massive bursts of spark.
Gavan and Astro Silver snapped around to face their next opponent, as the fallen monster exploded behind them.
Astro Black, Astro Blue, Astro Yellow and Astro Pink combined their weapons into a single blaster.
“Quadro Blaster!” Astro Black shouted.
Astro Red connected his Drill Saber to his Astro Blaster and armed his Battleizer.
“Drill Saber! Booster Mode!” he shouted.
Together, they called out, “Fire!”
They shot energy blasts that circled with power and punctured through monsters with massive bursts of spark and flame.
Angel Grove/Demon City Armada Generals
The Nova Troopers split off and joined up with Cybertron. The three virtual heroes rendezvoused with the core three Digi Rangers, found an opening in the Armada line, and moved in towards the Armada Generals: Bacchus Gill, Red Mantacore, and Blue Mantacore
Blue Mantacore and Red Mantacore charged, dashed back-and-forth, and slashed the heroes one-by-one. Cybertron. Nova Black. Nova White. Digi Red. Digi Blue. Digi Yellow. The blows sparked on impact and staggered the heroes.
Bacchus Gill lifted his broadsword and charged to attack.
But the Astro Rangers, DECA Rangers, Gavan, Shaider, and Sharivan somersaulted through the air and landed in front of the Armada general.
Astro Red lifted his Drill Saber in a fighting stance. “You may have us out-numbered, but you’re outclassed!”
Command Chamber, California
Slash. Parry. Slash. Thrust. Samurai Red tore through X-Borgs and Zergs. His blade flashed with power. But he felt exhaustion weigh his every move.
Can’t give in… he thought. Have to keep fighting…
He’d lost his best friend, Simon, to darkness. He very well may lose his big brother Tommy to the battle against the Dark One. He’d lost Bryce. Too much loss.
“No more.” He swung wide with a powerful slash that tore through several X-Borgs. The grunts exploded into bits of shrapnel and flame.
From ahead, two Armada Action Commanders pushed closer to the Command Chamber: Berserker King and Living Sword.
They’re getting too close. And we’re too scattered… Tommy wouldn’t have let this happen.
Samurai Red jumped, somersaulted through the air, and landed in front of the two generals.
They acted faster than the Red Ranger expected. Berserker King lashed out with his glaive, slashing the Ranger’s chest, blade sparking on impact. Living Sword lunged and stabbed his fist blades, striking the Ranger and knocking him backward.
The Red Ranger managed to keep his balance. He swiped the Symbol Disc on his sword.
“Fire Smasher!” His sword glowed with red energy and grew, morphing into a massive zanbato. He swiped his Symbol Disc. Wisps of flame surrounded the sword. “Blazing Strike!”
Samurai Red swung his sword through a streak of flame and power. But Berserker King used his glaive to block and slash the weapon from the Red Ranger’s hand. The monster twirled his weapon and struck again, slashing the Red Ranger to the ground.
The Berserker King kicked the fallen Ranger out of his way and stalked towards the Command Chamber.
Ashley traced her hand over her stomach as if by reflex. She mentally kicked herself when she noticed. Stop it, Ashley… In the “Band-Aide” timeline, she’d been pregnant with the baby that would grow up to become Nick, the Red Mystic Ranger. But when the “Band-Aide” timeline ripped away, her stomach had flattened. Don’t dwell on it, there’s no point. Save the world first. Mourn later.
The Command Chamber shook, nearly knocking the Viewing Globe from its stand. Dust rained from above, kicked loose by the tremor.
Chris cursed beneath his breath. “That can’t be good.”
“Understatement,” Ashley said.
They didn’t need to elaborate. They’d known each other since high school and were close friends, a bond cemented during their time as Zeo Rangers, and then as Astro Rangers, journeying through space to find Zordon before the first Countdown to Destruction.
Ashley was an only child and always thought of Chris as a brother. Family.
“There’s a breach in the west wall,” Chris said. “Two monsters coming in hot, I can’t-”
The west wall exploded, pulverizing stone columns into pebbles and dust. Secondary explosions tore through side panels with shockwaves that bashed Chris and Ashley off their feet. They crashed and tumbled across the floor.
The Berserker King and Living Sword walked through the smoke of the explosion.
Alpha waddled in front of the two monsters.
“Ay-yi-yi! Oh no you don’t! Alpha Ranger to the rescue!”
Alpha transformed into battle mode, a new feature included in his rebuild following the destruction of the original Command Chamber. His arms and legs extended, cannons slid from his shoulders and joints, and his visor snapped open to reveal a row of beam cannons.
He opened fire with ray beams, laser blasts and explosive bullets, showering the monsters with bursts of spark and light. The Berserker King lifted the flat of his glaive like a shield, and Living Sword did the same with his arm blades. The weapons took the brunt of the attack.
Berserker King lunged and swung his blade wide, slashing Alpha and batting the robot across the room. He crashed through the Viewing Globe, which shattered to pieces.
Nearby, Ashley climbed to her feet. She helped Chris stand, and without a word, the two heroes armed their morphers.
“Install! Astro Ranger!” Energy flashed around them like bursts of digital code. Ashley morphed into Astro Yellow, and Chris morphed into Astro Black.
The pain hit them stronger than any monster attack. They dropped to their knees, and their armor shimmered like static, ready to shatter.
The Berserker King laughed as he stalked towards them. “My, my. How terrifying. Is this the best defense your universe can muster? Truly?”
Astro Yellow bit back the pain. She reached over, grabbed Astro Black by the hand, and squeezed. He squeezed back. They didn’t have long to hold the morph, too much for them to handle now that they were no longer teenagers. But they knew what they had to do.
The two Rangers lunged to attack.
Astro Yellow snapped a spin-kicked that knocked Berserker King’s glaive aside, leaving his body open.
Astro Black dove towards that opening.
“Astro Lance!” He stabbed his staff towards the monster’s midsection.
Berserker King grabbed the weapon and tossed the Ranger aside like a rag doll.
“Chris!” Astro Yellow shouted.
The Living Sword dashed at her, blades swinging, slashing her armor with bursts of spark that whipped her off her feet.
She crashed and tumbled across the broken floor. Her armor shattered into pieces.
Ashley sat up — she tried to get back to her feet, but pain shot down her legs. She leaned against the nearest control console and stared defiantly at the two Action Commanders.
“Are you going to stand there?” she asked. Slowly, she used the control console for balance and pushed herself to her feet. “Or are you going to fight?”
The Berserker King laughed. “I like this one.”
The Berserker King stabbed his blade at Ashley.
Without hesitation, Astro Black lunged to his feet and pushed Ashley aside.
The Berserker King’s glaive stabbed through the Black Ranger’s midsection; his armor shattered, and he collapsed to his knees.
Teddy’s armor shattered. He collapsed to his knees; pain shot down his spine and through his limbs.
An X-Borg swung its club towards the ranger’s head. But Samurai Green stepped in, blocked, and side-kicked the grunt backward.
“Come on, get up, man,” the Green Samurai Ranger said as he slashed through a duo of grunts. “You’re fine. We’re all fine. We’ve got this.”
A Zerg surprised him, though, blasting him through the air.
Teddy cursed beneath his breath. He looked over his shoulder. Smoke rose from the Command Chamber.
Ashley sat on the ground and cradled Chris in her arms. He gasped for breath, his wound seeping blood. She put pressure on the wound but knew she could do nothing to stop the bleeding.
“Alpha!” she shouted. “I need a med kit!”
Damaged, the robot didn’t answer.
The Berserker King and Living Sword moved in to finish off the two rangers. But a burst of fire smashed them, singing their armor and staggering them backward.
Teddy dashed into the Command Chamber with his Spin Sword. He swiped his Symbol Disc, ignited his blade with flame, and slashed through a streak of fire.
Ashley whispered her thanks to Teddy. She wanted to help him fight. But she couldn’t leave Chris alone. He was dying.
“Hey,” she whispered. “You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re…”
He shook his head, eyes wide, body tightening. He didn’t look afraid. Just tired.
She held his hand. “I’m here. We’re all here. Just like old times, remember?”
The Megaship. He smiled despite the pain.
“I was so proud of you, Chris,” Ashley said. She tightened her grip and rubbed her thumb along his hand. “You really came into your own up there. You went from having space-fright to becoming 'Sulu: Master of Navigation!’.”
He coughed a laugh.
She leaned down and rested her forehead against his. “I love you so much. Thank you. Thank you. I’m sorry…”
He reached up slowly, hand wavering, and rested his palm against the side of her face, wet with tears. He smiled, one last flicker of brightness, before his gaze faded.
His hand dropped.
Ashley held him close as he breathed his last breath, slipping into the arms of death.
Teddy lunged with a high slash that Berserker King blocked. The impact knocked Teddy backward, and he fell to the floor.
Secondary explosions trembled within the Command Chamber.
“Our forces are closing in,” the Berserker King said. “As our armies conquered countless of parallel worlds, we heard fables and tales of the so-called 'Prime Reality’ and its gallant defenders. Its champions. I must say, you are all a disappointment.”
“Sorry, not sorry,” Teddy said.
The Living Sword reached out with his fist blades and used the tips to lift Teddy by the shirt.
The Berserker King leaned closer. “Tell me, you defiant little human. How would you like to die?”
Suddenly, a blur of motion slashed Living Sword and Berserker King with bursts of spark, knocking them backward. Teddy dropped back to the floor, and when he looked up, he saw a translucent figure holding a sword he recognized, a curved blade with a jagged edge.
The figure materialized into a solid form.
Teddy’s eyes opened wide. “Bryce…”
Bryce smiled, with that look that could melt ice-caps and flutter hearts of stone. That smile that stole Teddy’s heart, and then crushed it to pieces.
“Yes and no,” Bryce said.
The Vorlock Prince extended his hand.
Teddy reached up and grabbed it– soft and warm– and pulled himself to his feet.
“How are you here?” Teddy asked.
Bryce shrugged. “I feel like I’m half asleep. Maybe I am? I just know that…something called me here. You. Your heart.”
Teddy rolled his eyes. “That’s so cheesy.”
“You like the cheese,” Bryce said. His smile faded, and his face became grim. “I’m still on the other side of the veil, mostly. Still dead. But…Teddy…I think the reason the veil is thin here, the reason I’m here, with you, is because…”
Teddy paled. “It’s my time.”
Nearby, Berserker King and Living Sword climbed back to their feet. The floor shook. X-Borgs and Zergs charged into the Command Chamber.
“Teddy!” Ashley shouted from somewhere in the wreckage. He couldn’t see her. “Get out of here, now! You and the others need to regroup!”
No. He wouldn’t leave her. He wouldn’t leave this place. They needed the Command Chamber to stand. He knew what his brother would do. To protect the Command Chamber. To protect Ashley. He knew Tommy would fight, slash-by-slash, until-
“No,” Bryce said. “Who are you?”
The X-Borgs surged through the Command Chamber. Teddy and Bryce stood back-to-back. Their swords whirled and twirled, slashing through armor and circuitry.
“Step out of your brother’s shadow, Teddy,” Bryce said. “Who are you?”
Teddy jump-kicked an X-Borg and slashed the grunt to the ground. He always wanted to be a hero. Or did he? No, he didn’t want to be a fighter. He wanted to be a protector.
No, not that either. He hated labels. He always hated labels. Tommy’s little brother. Simon’s best friend. The gay kid. The Red Ranger. So many labels, all trying to define him throughout his entire life, and he never stopped to ask himself who he was truly, who he was behind the labels of others.
Compassionate. A protector. More labels.
“Who are you?” Bryce asked. “Tommy’s little brother?”
“The Kiba Ranger, Kou’s replacement?”
“The Red Samurai Ranger?”
“Then who are you?”
Teddy smiled and dropped his sword.
“Me…” he whispered. “I’m just me. I can be just me.” He looked ahead towards the Berserker King and Living Sword, and his eyes glowed with white light. “That’s all I need to be.”
He called on a power within himself. Not the One Power. Not the Power Cosmic. Something…unique. Something he didn’t quite understand at first, but embraced. He grabbed hold of that power and let it wash through him.
He glowed like a beacon, illuminating the Command Chamber, and casting light outside, bathing the armies of the Armada with luminous energy.
Bryce reached out and placed a hand on Teddy’s shoulder.
“It’s time, love…” he whispered. “See you on the other side?”
Teddy nodded. “See you on the other side.”
Teddy closed his eyes.
Berserker King, Living Sword and the X-Borgs exploded into pieces of shrapnel and flame. Energy washed across the battlefield outside the Command Chamber, vaporizing grunts and their Action Commanders into ash.
Teddy felt the light burn within his body and soul. He couldn’t hold onto it much longer.
He called back that energy, like drawing back the power of an explosion, and used it to surround the Command Chamber, wrap it in a protective barrier of light and sound. Of compassion.
His smile widened. Tommy…I’m sorry you couldn’t see this, brother. Ryan, I’m sorry I couldn’t say goodbye. Chelsea, my big sis, I didn’t spend nearly enough time with you, but I love you, always. Simon…you were my best friend and brother. Find yourself again. Bradin, Kirsten, Anthony, Anna…my friends…my family…
With his last breath, he sealed the barrier that would protect the Command Chamber, the heart of the fight for all of existence.
And then he knew no more.
—to be continued