Tommy screamed in denial, in rage, in sorrow.
“Not him! NOT HIM!”
THE DEAD ARE MINE.
“Bastard!” Tommy shouted. “Not him!”
I WILL KILL THEM ALL, ADVERSARY.
Tommy bent over, squeezing his eyes shut.
Oh God. Teddy’s name joined the list of the dead. That list continued to grow, thundering in his mind. His failures. So many failures. He should have been able to save them.
The Dark One’s attacks persisted, trying to rip Tommy apart and crush him all at once.
Oh God. Not Teddy.
Tommy closed his eyes and collapsed, barely holding back the next attack.
Darkness enclosed him.
The Command Chamber, California
Radiant light surrounded the Command Chamber. The scorched husks of X-Borgs and Zergs littered the ground around the base.
The Ken– Kamen Rider Blade– and Zayden– Kamen Rider Chalice– of the present powered down their armor.
“What just happened?” Ken asked.
Before Zayden could answer, dark mist rose from the ground, thickened into fog, and spread across the desert.
White Jokers sprouted from the mist. Zayden narrowed his eyes and attacked without hesitation.
Ken felt a pang of pity for his friend. Zayden was the original Joker Undead, an artificial immortal who wanted nothing more than to be human. The White Jokers reminded Zayden of his true nature, that of a construct.
Several White Jokers surged towards the Command Chamber, but the base’s barrier burnt the villains into ash.
Then, a group of White Jokers transformed into Hell Riders: Hibiki, Hibiki Red, Hell Blade, Ibuki, Todoyama, Todoroki, Zanki, Danki, Sabaki, Eiki, Akira, Kyosuke, Nishiki, and Habataki.
Ken and Zayden charged at the villains. They armed their bucklers and transformed into Kamen Riders: Blade and Chalice.
The two Kamen Riders bashed through the Hell Riders. Blade and Chalice moved in sync, launching punches and kicks, striking their opponents. Blade unsheathed his sword, and Chalice armed his bladed bow.
Hibiki armed a pair of clubs and swung, firing bolts of flame. The blasts struck Blade and Chalice with bursts of spark, whipping them off their feet. They crashed and tumbled, and as soon as they rose to their feet, the Hell Riders attacked.
The villains struck without mercy, taking the two Riders off guard.
Chalice felt the weight of the attacks press him down. His thoughts drifted to Cassie and Ava. They took him in when he was lost. They cared for him, and more importantly, gave him something to care for. To fight for. They taught him the meaning of family.
He needed to fight on. For them. To protect them. Nothing else mattered.
Chalice lunged with a powerful swing of his bow.
But despite his resolve, despite his will, the Hell Riders overwhelmed him.
Cassie…Blows and blasts struck his armor relentlessly. Ava…
The Casey, RJ, Connor, Kira, Trent, Daggeron, Maddie and Xander of the present regrouped within the fog that surrounded the Command Chamber.
They morphed, just as a group of White Jokers transformed into monsters from the Shadow Line: Bag Shadow, Chain Shadow, Tombstone Shadow, Saber Shadow, Loupe Shadow, Hammer Shadow, Fence Shadow, Ring Shadow and Hound Shadow.
Mystic Gold thrust his palm with a beam of golden light. Saber Shadow Crossed his swords, blocked the beam, and swatted it back at the Rangers. The blast exploded against Mystic Gold, Mystic Blue and Mystic Green.
Hammer Shadow lunged and swung his mace towards the fallen Mystic Rangers. But Violet Wolf dashed in front of the monster, blocked, and elbowed the villain backward. Red Tiger jumped onto the Violet Wolf Ranger’s shoulders, pushed off, and launched a flying side-kick that bashed the monster backward.
Chain Shadow swung his chains; the chains whipped Red Tiger and Violet Wolf with bursts of spark, swatting them through the air.
The Dino Thunder Red Ranger, Dino Thunder Yellow Ranger, and Dino Thunder White Ranger shifted into Super Dino Mode and leapt through the air. But Hound Shadow pounced and tackled them to the ground.
Within the Command Chamber, Ashley climbed to her feet and activated the nearest console. Debris littered the base. Teddy had died. Chris had died. But she couldn’t think about either loss. She had to focus.
Luckily, Teddy’s sacrifice had created some type of barrier that kept the White Jokers from the Command Chamber. Good. That gave her time.
She reopened comm-lines to the Rangers of the past in Angel Grove, as well as the Rangers of the present she had sent to Corinith City.
Corinith City looked like a warzone near the Enetron Matrix. The scene reminded Austin of Demon City, where a dark ceremony called the Sabbath had given him the powers of Kamen Rider Wizard.
The Austin, Leo, Koda, Shelby, Ivan, Nat and Kruger of the present moved through the rubble of an INET building, where the Matrix had exploded, killing several of Billy’s Ranger teams in the process.
They followed a passage that led deep into the rubble, like a tunnel of destruction.
“So…” Austin said to break the quiet. Silence gave him anxiety. “What are we looking for?”
“Lunch?” Leo asked. “Because I could use a burger. Tell me a good ol’ fashion hamburger doesn’t sound great right now. With extra mayo.”
“No, Leo,” Austin said. “Just…no.”
Shelby arced an eyebrow. “Is he always like this?” she asked Austin. “Because it’s kind of getting annoying.”
Austin shook his head. “He’s usually so much worse.”
“You love me,” Leo said.
Ivan stepped alongside Shelby. “Perhaps we should focus,” he said. “We don’t know what manner of creatures lurk in these dark corners.”
Koda nodded in agreement. “Danger.”
Kruger and Nat stayed at the head of the group. They held their badges open to scan for threats.
Nat cursed beneath his breath. “I’m not reading anything. It’s like something’s blocking my signal.”
“It’s the same with my scanner,” Kruger said. “Stay alert. Whatever’s-”
The ground trembled and nearly tore open. Fissures ignited through cracks in the ground, and through the fissures leapt X-Borgs and Zergs.
The Rangers morphed, and Austin and Leo transformed into Kamen Rider Wizard and Kamen Rider Beast.
DECA Shadow’s sword flashed with precision and skill, slicing through X-Borgs with bursts of spark. DECA Red stood at his mentor’s side and fired his D-Magnums, blasting through X-Borgs.
Dino Charge Pink and Dino Charge Blue armed their Dino Sabers, and Dino Charge Gold armed his Ptera Saber. They slashed through streaks of energy, ripping through X-Borgs and Zergs.
Wizard and Beast armed their own blades, slashing and hacking through enemy grunts.
As they fought, a fissure ignited through the ground beneath them. The earth vanished from beneath their feet, and the fissure swallowed them into its void.
The Command Chamber, California
Ashley paled. The signal from the Corinith team vanished. Just vanished.
“No…” she whispered. What happened to them? The readings looked similar to the distortion signals around Angel Grove; similar pockets of disruption covered the whole planet, and the entire universe.
That’s why she needed the Enetron Matrix; to balance the distortions. Without the components she needed from the Matrix, she had no plan.
She nearly collapsed. She could keep throwing Ranger teams against generals and villains. But to what end? How could she win? How?
“Tommy, I need you…” she whispered.
A group of White Jokers transformed into monsters from Count Dregon’s army, including Robosect, Twister Bug, Liquisect, Gynaninpo, Mandible, Crimson Creeper, Fire Bug and Heliotoid.
The Red Mystic Ranger of the present– Nick– faced them.
He felt exhausted. How long had he been fighting now? Hours? Days? Weeks?
The monsters moved towards the Command Chamber.
The Red Mystic Ranger gripped his Mystic Staff. He channeled his energy into the blade, which ignited with fiery power. Determination burned through his veins. He wouldn’t let this world become the doomed landscape of his future. He couldn’t.
His thoughts drifted to Ashley, his mother, inside the Command Chamber. I still barely know her…or Tommy…
A part of him resented their sending him into the future to save him, an act that hadn’t even happened yet, and maybe never would. Time travel is such a migraine…
Another part of him yearned to know his parents. He regretted that he never made the time to do so. Instead of facing that part of his past, he used his duties as a Mystic Ranger as an excuse, focusing on the battle against evil.
Tommy would probably do the same thing…
The Red Ranger charged and swung his blade, slashing through Crimson Creeper and chopping down Robosect. He jump-kicked Twister Bug, slashed Mandible, and hacked Heliotoid.
He drowned himself in The Power, fueling his every move.
Another wave of White Jokers transformed into monsters from the Shadow Line, including Keeper Rook, Keeper Bishop and Keeper Knight.
Keeper Rook and Keeper Bishop lifted their staffs and fired beams of energy. The beams blasted Mystic Red with bursts of spark, sending him staggering backward. The Red Ranger silently cursed himself for not anticipating the attack.
Keeper Knight armed an axe, charged, and hacked the Ranger to the ground.
Anger surged through the Red Ranger’s body. “Enough!”
He shot to his feet with a burst of fiery energy that blasted the three Shadow Line monsters through the air.
The attack struck Mystic Red with a wave of vertigo that dropped him to his knees. In that moment, the White Jokers in the form of Dregon’s monsters regrouped and tackled him, striking hard and fast as one.
On the other side of the Command Chamber, five White Jokers transformed into the evil Hana Rangers, and another five White Jokers transformed into the Psycho Rangers.
The two evil Ranger teams charged at Hurricane Yellow, Hurricane Blue, Hurricane Green, Crimson Thunder, and Navy Thunder.
Psycho Black swung his axe. The blade hacked Crimson Thunder’s wrist morpher with massive bursts of spark. The Black Psycho Ranger spinning-side-kicked the Crimson Thunder Ranger’s chest. The impact hurled him backward; he crashed and tumbled as his armor shattered into pieces of energy.
The Hana Rangers dashed back and forth through blurs of motion, slashing and striking the Blue Hurricane Ranger and Navy Thunder Ranger. The five Hana leapt through the air, somersaulted, and landed around the two Rangers while striking them with bursts of spark, knocking them to the ground.
Psycho Red clashed blades with Hurricane Green. The villain swung wide, slashing the sword from the Green Ranger’s hand. Psycho Red twisted his grip with a back-hand slash, striking the Green Ranger with bursts of spark that whipped him off his feet.
Angel Grove/Demon City Ultimate Power Rangers vs. Akuma
Akuma had created an undead army of Rangers, Riders and virtual heroes, those who had perished during the past 18 years.
The zombies attacked.
The Red Turbo Zombie Ranger looked like a skeleton dressed in the tattered remains of a Red Ranger uniform, with a cracked helmet exposing the left socket of his skull, and a broken mouthpiece showing his teeth.
He hopped and swung his Turbo Lightning sword at the Ultimate Red Ranger.
The Red Ranger blocked and hacked the zombie to the ground, blade sparking on impact.
Zombie Kamen Rider Ryuki leapt through the air from behind the Red Ranger. His eye pieces were shattered, revealing his skeleton, and massive chunks of his chest piece were missing, showing his rib cage. The Rider launched a flying kick that slammed the Red Ranger’s back and hurled him forward.
The Ultimate Blue Ranger dashed to his leader’s aide. The Blue Ranger twirled his blade, slashing the limbs from the Zombie Rider with bursts of spark. The Blue Ranger kicked the zombie’s chest, knocking him backward.
The Zombie Chromium Gold Beetle Borg and Zombie Electric Bronze Beetle Borg jumped at the Blue Ranger from both sides. They each grabbed an arm. Their helmets were mostly missing, showing skulls with patches of tattered hair. The rest of their armor plating looked like scrap metal attached to skeletal remains.
“Seth!” The Ultimate Yellow Ranger charged to help. But Zombie Ninja White and Zombie Ninja Yellow blocked her path. They struck fast, slashing her back with bursts of spark.
The Ultimate Red Ranger climbed back to his feet nearby, just as a wave of zombies surrounded him. He fought back, twirling his sword and firing his blaster. He knew that even if he won this battle, he would die. So would his teammates. They would be wiped from the timeline. Gone.
They accepted that. But they couldn’t accept failure. To fail meant the end of everything and everyone. They couldn’t let that happen. Not again.
“No more Shattering,” the Red Ranger said as he struck down Zombie Nova White.
He charged towards the next zombie — Time Fire — knowing this battle would be his last.
The Armada Home Dimension
The Armada homeworld was a network of broken planets and moons connected by conduits and tubes, the size of a large solar system.
Jason, Zack and Rocky found themselves on the homeworld after falling through an Armada fissure. They landed in a large hexagonal chamber with several control panels on pedestals. Five walls had massive bay doors. A viewport covered the sixth wall from floor to ceiling. The three men looked through the viewport, to where millions upon millions of lights, blinking reflections, floated in space.
“Are those ships?” Zack asked.
“They look like ships,” Rocky said.
Zack rolled his eyes. “Thanks for that, man. Very helpful.”
Suddenly, the floor shuttered. The five doors snapped open, and dozens of X-Borgs charged into the chamber towards Jason, Rocky and Zack. Their instincts screamed at them to morph. But they couldn’t.
Tubes and wires lashed out from the ceiling and whipped towards the three rangers.
The wires and tubes wrapped around them, binding their arms and legs and wrapping around their necks. The tubes ignited with electric shocks that forced the rangers to their knees as they screamed with pain.
Beyond all space and time
The Pattern spun around Tommy, forcing him to watch. He looked through eyes streaming with tears. He saw the people struggle. He saw them fall. He saw Jason, Rocky and Zack, trapped in the Armada hub, unable to morph as they faced an army large enough to conquer the multiverse. He saw Nick, nearly burned out by his own power, holding the line against the endless waves of the Dark One’s forces.
He saw Ashley, desperate, facing down horrible odds.
He saw Tyler charging towards his death.
Tommy had failed.
But in the back of his mind, a voice. Frail, almost forgotten.
The Command Chamber, California
Hunter climbed to his feet. His armor, gone. His morpher, trashed.
Through the corner of his eye, he saw Psycho Blue twirl and slash Hurricane Blue and Navy Thunder.
Blake… His younger brother had finally found happiness. Hunter couldn’t let that happiness end. He knew what he had to do.
The ranger channeled The Power and used it to charge with a burst of speed, hurling himself in front of Navy Thunder and Hurricane Blue, shielding them from the Blue Psycho Ranger’s tomahawk.
The blade came inches from Hunter’s body. Time seemed to slow. He thought of Lauren. I don’t know where you are…but I know you’re alive. And I’m sorry…
“No, not happening!” Navy Thunder grabbed his brother and turned his back. The tomahawk slashed the Navy Thunder Ranger’s armor, and Hurricane Blue slashed the Psycho Ranger aside.
“You dumbass,” Navy Thunder said as he set Hunter down. “Ever since we were kids we were told our lives were expendable.” He tightened his hands on his big brother’s shoulders. “That’s not true. My life is important. Your life is important. Don’t throw it away. Not even for me.”
Three Hana Rangers charged at them.
Hunter snapped his hand towards them. “Shadow Bolt!”
He hurled a bolt of shadow that blasted the Hana Rangers with bursts of spark.
Navy Thunder turned back to the battle and gripped his staff.
The Green Hurricane Ranger– Kou– still remembered when he first pulled the White Tiger Saber from the stone. The first time he morphed into the White Ranger. The first time he summoned the White Tigerzord. And the first time he died.
He no longer bothered himself with debating whether the memories were truly his, whether he was really Kou or a dark echo of some sort. He was who he was, and that was enough.
The Green Hurricane Ranger fought alongside Hurricane Yellow– Justin Stewart.
Psycho Pink fired energy arrows that blasted the two Rangers off their feet, and Psycho Yellow fired an energy sling that darted their armor with bursts of spark.
They crashed and rolled across the dirt, and their armor powered down with flashes of light.
Two Hana Ninja leapt at them with swords raised high.
Kou narrowed his eyes and stared defiantly. In that brief moment he wondered: when he died this time, would he see his mother again?
Angel Grove/Demon City Ultimate Power Rangers vs. Akuma
The Zombie Rangers, Riders, and virtual heroes attacked faster than the Ultimate Power Rangers could defend themselves.
The Ultimate Red Ranger swung his sword towards Zombie Shadow Moon, whose armor looked dull and rusted, cracked, revealing glimpses of bone. The Zombie Rider parried and side-kicked the Ranger, knocking him backward.
The Armada Home Dimension
Austin crashed in a wide corridor walled with viewports that looked out into space. In that space, he saw millions upon millions of Armada ships. His face paled.
He’d accepted the reality of demonic ceremonies that unleashed demons from people’s despair. But spaceships? An armada of freaking spaceships?
“Where are we…?” he whispered.
“On your feet, everyone.” Austin recognized the grumbly voice as Kruger. He’d arrived too, as did the others pulled through the fissure in Corinith City.
Nat placed his hand against the viewport. “This is where they come from? Isn’t it? The Armada.”
Shelby nodded in agreement. “It certainly looks that way.”
Leo’s eyes opened wide with excitement. “Hey, that’s not a bad thing. We can wipe them all out from here. It’ll be like taking out the mothership!”
Suddenly, the floors shook, and alarms blared. Doors snapped open, and X-Borgs and Zergs flooded into the corridor.
“Well, crap,” Leo said.
They morphed and transformed, just as the grunts slammed against them.
DECA Red opened fire with his D-Magnums, scattering grunts as Wizard and Beast slashed through them. DECA Shadow hacked and chopped through Zergs, while Dino Charge Gold energized his blade and swung through a streak of power, ripping through X-Borgs. Dino Charge Pink and Dino Charge Blue snapped punches and kicks, battering X-Borgs and Zergs.
Jason, Zack and Rocky writhed with pain.
The shocks stopped, and their bodies slagged, exhausted and worn, held by wires and tendrils.
The doors opened, and Armada Emperor Mavro entered, flanked by his two Royal Guard.
“So…” Mavro grumbled. “You’re three of the Rangers that have been trying to give my forces trouble.”
Jason narrowed his eyes defiantly. “We’ve done more than try, squid-face.”
Mavro grumbled a laugh. “Defiant until the end, I see. And your end is now.”
The wires electrified, sending volts of power into the rangers.
Jason gritted his teeth. The pain ignited through his veins. Black dots spotted his vision. His thoughts drifted to Janet, his twin sister, who died nearly 20 years ago before Jason became a Ranger. A gang had cornered him and his sister, and they had fought back. Janet died in the fight. Jason had failed to protect her. After her death, he vowed to save as many people as he could. That’s why after his war as a Ranger ended, he became an EMT.
Rocky closed his eyes tight and tried not to scream. His thoughts drifted to the past few years– what had he accomplished with his life? After his Ranger days, he became a professional fighter and eventually started his own sporting goods company. He dated Tommy’s sister Chelsea off and on and eventually proposed, but never took that final step of actually marrying her, of settling down and starting a family. Why? Because he was afraid of pain. He typically hid his emotions with humor, and he avoided making a family of his own because he wanted to shield himself from the pain of his childhood, when his father died in a car crash. In doing so, in shielding himself, he’d wasted so much of his life.
Zack screamed. His life flashed before his eyes, and it angered him. So much fighting. And for what? Yes, as a Ranger he’d saved many, but not his best friend Jonathan or Trini. And after his time as a Ranger, he joined the organization called STN, throwing himself into pointless fights and spycraft. For what?
Emperor Mavro laughed at their pain.
Jason summoned all of his willpower and glared at the villain. He wanted to morph, to call upon The Power, One Power, Morphin’ Grid, whatever you wanted to call it. But he knew his body no longer had the stamina needed to use his powers, the stamina of youth.
No… he thought. I’m not so old that I can just give up. There’s still work to do. For Janet. For everyone.
“It’s morphin time!” Jason shouted.
Their Master Morphers appeared in their hands with flashes of light, ripping them free from their bindings. They landed in crouched positions and thrust their morphers forward.
“Dino Buckler!” Jason morphed into the Red Tyranno Ranger.
“Ninja Power!” Zack morphed into Ninja Black.
“Chakra Ignite!” Rocky morphed into the Blue Tenma Ranger.
The Power rushed through them. They felt invigorated and fatigued. Refreshed and exhausted. They could feel their own energy wear them down, despite the rush of power. They didn’t have much time.
“That was our last morph, guys,” Tyranno Ranger said. “Make it count!”
Kruger’s strike team powered down their armor after finishing off the group of X-Borgs and Zergs.
Through the viewport, the team noticed ships start to fold through space, more than likely headed towards Earth.
“No!” Shelby shouted. “We have to stop them. There’s no way Earth will survive an attack from all those ships!”
Austin cursed beneath his breath. “I might have a plan…”
“What is it?” Nat asked.
“Well…” Austin said. “It’s reckless, but there’s this spell I came up with back when I was thinking about blowing up Demon City.”
Leo arced an eyebrow. “You never told me about that.”
Austin shrugged. “It wasn’t something I was seriously considering, just an idea. Anyway, an explosion that big should be enough to destabilize this place.”
“How?” Nat asked. “This base is the size of a solar system.”
“True,” Austin said. “And what happens to a solar system when its sun explodes?”
Kruger nodded with understanding. “We’d need to find the right coordinates to ignite the explosion.”
Nat opened his com badge and scanned the structure. “It looks like we’re close to the central hub. I’m picking up massive energy readings.”
“Maybe it’s the main power core,” Shelby said.
Kruger nodded with agreement. “We’ll attack there.”
“We should go quickly,” Ivan said. “We no longer have the element of surprise.”
As if on cue, another wave of X-Borgs charged into the corridor.
The central power core looked like a hollowed out moon, with a massive engine in its center, and hundreds of platforms and catwalks.
An entryway exploded; Tyranno Ranger, Ninja Black, and Tenma Ranger shot through the explosion, smashed through several catwalks, and crashed onto a platform.
Mavro and his two Royal Guards leapt through the opening and landed on the platform.
The emperor stalked towards his opponents. “Do you know how many Rangers I’ve killed, as my Armada has conquered parallel world after parallel world? I believe I have even killed you three Rangers before…after eons, you all look the same.”
Tyranno Ranger lunged and swung his sword. Mavro blocked and slashed him aside.
Ninja Black and Tenma Ranger leapt to attack. The Black Ranger swung his blade through a streak of energy, and the Blue Ranger launched a screw kick. Mavro and his Royal Guard slashed them from the air.
Mavro laughed and lunged to deliver the final blow.
An explosion tore through a nearby port; X-Borgs and Zergs flailed through the opening. From behind them leapt DECA Shadow, DECA Red, Dino Charge Gold, Dino Charge Pink, Dino Charge Blue, Kamen Rider Wizard, and Kamen Rider Beast.
Beast and Wizard launched their Rider Kicks, smashing Mavro with a shockwave powerful enough to bash the Royal Guards too. They flew backward and crashed through several platforms and catwalks.
The two Riders landed next to Tyranno Ranger, Ninja Black, and Tenma Ranger.
“Hey,” Wizard said.
“Man,” Beast said. “Our timing is awesome.”
Armada ships continued to jump through hyperspace, several at a time, headed towards Earth.
The Riders finished catching everyone up to speed on the plan.
“I can anchor the spell here with a rune, then open a portal back to Earth,” Wizard said. “But there’s one problem…”
“And that is?” DECA Red asked.
“One of us will have to stay behind to trigger the bomb,” Wizard said. “It needs an influx of power, up to the time of detonation.”
“Yikes,” Beast said. “Sounds like a pretty crappy spell.”
“Never thought I’d use it,” Wizard said. He rolled up his hands into fists. “It’s my spell, I’ll stay. You guys get ready to-”
“No,” Tyranno Ranger said. Everything seemed so clear. “You all will go. I’ll stay behind.”
Most of them were young and had their whole lives ahead of them. Jason wasn’t exactly elderly, but he’d lived. He’d loved. And now it was time for one more sacrifice. One more world-saving strike into the heart of evil.
“No way, Jase,” Ninja Black said.
“I’m staying too,” Ninja Black said. “This explosion might be bigger with more power, right?”
“Theoretically…” Wizard said.
Beast leaned towards Dino Charge Pink and whispered. “He’s not as smart as he’s trying to sound.”
DECA Red stepped forward. “If you two stay, we all stay.”
“No,” Tyranno Ranger said. “Most of you are just kids. Kruger, make sure everyone gets home.”
The Shadow Ranger nodded in agreement. He barely knew Jason but could sense the Red Ranger’s determination. His mind was made up.
Tenma Ranger placed his hands on Tyranno Ranger and Ninja Black’s shoulders. “Hey, we’ve come this far together,” he said. “Let’s not break up the dream team.”
Tyranno Ranger shook his head. “Go to Chelsea, Rocky,” he said. “Something tells me when this is all over…she’ll need you.”
“I hate to break this up,” Dino Charge Pink said. “But every second we wait, another wave of ships is heading to Earth.”
Another wave of X-Borgs and Zergs poured into the chamber; several platforms away, Mavro and his Royal Guard pushed themselves to their feet.
“Alright, it’s settled,” Tyranno Ranger said. “Wizard, start the spell, trigger the portal, and get everyone out of here.”
Wizard nodded. He slid a ring onto his finger, shifted his buckler, and placed his hand over its panel. “AWAKEN; NOW”
His ring flashed with red light that pulsed outward, illuminating the chamber. The power caused so much pain it practically tore the Rider’s arm off. He reached out and created a rune of red light, shaped like the Phantom Dragon that gave him his power.
“There,” he said. “Pour your power into that rune. I’ll-”
The X-Borgs and Zergs leapt to attack. Tyranno Ranger lunged, sword flashing and slashing through X-Borgs.
Ninja Black armed his Master Morpher.
He morphed into the Mammoth Ranger, armed his axe, and chopped through a grunt with a shock wave of power.
“Change of clothes?” Tyranno Ranger asked as he hacked through a grunt.
“Seemed more appropriate.” Mammoth Ranger hacked and slashed.
Tyranno Ranger looked over his shoulder. “Rocky, get everyone out! Now!”
Tenma Ranger nodded. “Wizard, portal.”
“You could at least say 'please,'” Beast said.
Wizard slid a ring onto his hand and placed his palm over his buckler. “TELEPORT; AWAKEN”
A red magic circle slid open, revealing a portal back to Earth. Wizard started to move towards the portal, but hesitated.
“It’s OK!” Tyranno Ranger said as he and Mammoth Ranger kept the grunts at bay. “Go!”
Tenma Ranger lowered his head. “Jason…”
“Go!” Tyranno Ranger shouted again.
Tenma Ranger steeled himself and turned towards the portal. “Okay, guys, last-one-in and all that. Let’s go save Earth!”
They leapt through the portal, one-by-one, until all that remained were Tyranno Ranger, Mammoth Ranger, and an army of X-Borgs and Zergs.
Mammoth Ranger hacked through an X-Borg.
“Man, this is just typical, Jase,” he said.
“What’s that?” Tyranno Ranger side-kicked a Zerg.
“It’s not enough for you to save one universe. You have to save them all.”
Tyranno Ranger smiled beneath his helmet. “You know me too well, bro. Let’s do it!”
They bashed another group of X-Borgs, leapt backward, and landed at the rune.
The two Rangers pulled out their Power Coins; the coins flashed with power that poured into the rune. The rune flashed with blood red energy that illuminated the entire chamber.
The light nearly blinded Emperor Mavro and his Royal Guard.
“No!” Mavro shouted. “This power…no!”
He grabbed his two Royal Guard, and they teleported away with a burst of light.
The rune ignited and destroyed the central power core, triggering a chain of explosions that tore through the Armada’s network of homeworlds with the force of a supernova. The entire network of worlds, as large as a solar system, ripped apart with fire and light.
The explosion consumed Jason and Zack, who gave their lives, Rangers until the end.
Beyond all space and time
Tommy saw Jason and Zack fall, and it sent a spasm of anguish through him. The Dark One pressed in around Tommy. Swallowing him, shredding him. Fighting that attack was too hard. Tommy was spent.
Let go. Zordon’s voice.
“I have to save them…” Tommy whispered.
Let them sacrifice. You cannot do this by yourself.
“I have to…That’s what it means…” The Dark One’s destruction crawled on him like a thousand crows, picking at his flesh, pulling it from his bones. He could barely think through the pressure and the sense of loss. The death of Jason, Zack, and so many others.
It is their choice to make.
He wanted so badly to protect them, the people who believed in him. Their deaths, and the danger they faced, were an enormous weight upon him. How could a man just…let go? Wasn’t that letting go of responsibility?
Or was it giving the responsibility to them?
Tommy squeezed his eyes shut, thinking of all those who had died because of him. Of Teddy, who he had sworn himself to protect.
You idiot. Teddy’s voice in his head. Fond, but sharp.
Can’t I be a hero too?
“It’s not that.”
You march to your death, but won’t let anyone else do the same?
Let go, Tommy. Let us die for what we believe, and don’t try to steal that from us.
You embraced your own death. Embrace mine.
Tears leaked from the corners of his eyes. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.
No, big brother. Not yet you haven’t.
The Dark One flayed him. He huddled before that vast nothingness, unable to move. He screamed in agony.
And then, he let go.
He let go of the guilt. He let go of the shame for having not saved Teddy and all the others. He let go of the need to protect him, to protect all of them.
He let them be heroes.
Names screamed from his head. Jason, Zack, Teddy, Chris, and hundreds more. Thousands. One by one– first slowly, but with increasing speed– he counted backward through the list he had once maintained in his head. He hadn’t realized how large it had become, how much he had let himself carry.
The names ripped from him like physical things, like doves a flight, and each one carried away a burden. Weight vanished from his shoulders. His breathing grew steadier. It was as if someone had swung a hammer and shattered a thousand chains that had been dragging behind Tommy.
Shannon was last. The ages of time repeat, her voice, so we can do better next time.
So do better.
He opened his eyes and placed his hand before him, palm against blackness that felt solid. His self that had fuzzed, becoming indistinct as the Dark One ripped at it, pulled together. He placed his other arm down, then heaved himself to his knees.
And then, Tommy Oliver– the Dragon– stood up once again to face the Shadow.
Angel Grove/Demon City Armada Generals
The Astro Rangers, Digi Rangers, Cybertron, and Nova Troopers of the past continued their battle against the three Armada Generals: Bacchus Gill, Red Mantacore, and Blue Mantacore.
The Jet Force Rangers and Rail Rangers of the past joined.
Jet Force and the Astros struck in pairs. Red and Red. Black and Black. Blue and Blue. Yellow and Yellow. White and Pink. They struck hard, battering Bacchus Gill and sending him staggering.
The Rail Rangers dashed at the Mantacores to hold them back, kicking and punching the monsters.
Rail Red – the Tyler Oliver of the past – armed his saber. But he hesitated and looked up. He felt something odd, almost uplifting.
“Guys,” he said. “Something’s…changing.”
Beyond all space and time
Tommy faced the Dark One in that place that was not, surrounded by all time and nothing at the same time. His body still stood in the cavern of the Bore, locked into that moment of the battle against Shadow Blade, but his soul was here.
He existed in this place that was not, this place outside the Pattern, this place where evil was born. He looked into it, and he knew it. The Dark One was not a being, but a force– an essence as wide as the universe itself, which Tommy could now see in complete detail. Planets, stars in their multitude, like the motes above a bonfire.
The Dark One still strove to destroy him. Tommy felt strong despite the attacks. Relaxed, complete. With his burdens gone, he could fight again. He held himself together. It was difficult, but he was victorious.
Tommy stepped forward.
The Darkness shuddered. It quivered, vibrating, as if disbelieving.
I DESTROY THEM.
The Dark One was not a being. It was the darkness between. Between lights, between moments, between eyeblinks.
ALL IS MINE THIS TIME. IT WAS EVER MEANT TO BE. IT WILL EVER BE.
“We will never give in,” Tommy said. “I will never give in.”
The vast Shadow thundered and shook. It sent jolts through and across the world. The ground rent, the laws of nature fractured. Weapons turned against their owners. Food spoiled. Rocks turned to mud.
It came upon Tommy again, the force of nothingness itself trying to pull him apart. The strength of the attack did not lessen. And yet, suddenly, it felt like idle buzzing.
They would not give up. It wasn’t just about Tommy. All of them would keep fighting. The Dark One’s attacks lost meaning. If they could not make him yield, if they could not make him relent, then what were they?
Within the tempest, Tommy sought the void as he had learned long ago, when Sensei Kaku tossed him into an illusion of a volcano. All emotion, all worry, all pain. He took it and fed it into the flame of a single candle.
He felt peace. The peace of a single drop of water hitting a pond. The peace of moments, the peace between eyeblinks, the peace of the void.
“I will not give up,” he repeated, and the words seemed a wonder to him.
I CONTROL THEM ALL. I BREAK THEM BEFORE ME. YOU HAVE LOST, CHILD OF HUMANKIND.
“If you think that,” Tommy whispered into the darkness. “It’s because you can’t see.”
The Command Chamber
Ashley gripped the control console. She breathed deeply and steeled herself.
“No…” she whispered. “We can do this…we can…”
Sensor readings showed the Dark One’s corruption continue to spread, and X-Borgs and Zergs still covered the planet.
“One impossible task at a time,” she whispered.
She opened up a com-line to the two teams protecting the Command Chamber. “Guys, I’m teleporting you into Angel Grove.”
“Um…” said Hurricane Yellow, Justin Stewart. “I thought that was impossible?”
“It is,” she said. “But I’m making it possible.”
Her fingers danced across the control panel. She set aside all doubt, all insecurity. She had spent a year of her life fighting through space, and several years supporting some of the greatest Ranger teams on the planet. She could break through some spatial and temporal disturbances. She could solve the puzzle. She had to.
“I’m sending you to Tommy’s last coordinates,” she said. “We’re taking on the Dark One head-on.”
Beyond all space and time
YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND IT, CAN YOU? Tommy demanded of the darkness. IT’S BEYOND YOU. YOU BREAK US, AND WE STILL FIGHT. WHY? HAVEN’T YOU KILLED US? HAVEN’T YOU RUINED US?
YOU, the Dark One replied. I HAVE YOU.
Tommy stepped forward. In this place of nothing, the Pattern seemed to swirl around him like a tapestry. HERE’S YOUR FLAW, DARK ONE — LORD OF THE DARK, LORD OF EVIL! LORD OF NOTHING! HERE’S WHY YOU FAIL! IT WASN’T ABOUT ME! IT’S NEVER BEEN ABOUT ME!
It was about a pair of brothers, separated by time. One cast from reality itself, and the other raised in a hellish future where evil covered the Earth. They dreamt of saving worlds that were already lost. Those men still fought.
It was about a child born of good and evil, light and dark, who had died and come back as something else. Something different, darkened. Yet he strove to be more. To be better. That man still fought.
It was about a young man driven to despair. To darkness. And from that darkness came his greatest strength, the power of magic. That man still fought.
It was about a man whose sister was taken from him, but who stood tall in his sorrow and protected those he could.
It was about a young girl left neglected after her parents’ divorce, who still found kindness and compassion in her heart, a passion that burned with the fire of the phoenix.
It was about an Eltarian mage trapped in time, who dedicated his existence to guiding the forces of good.
It was about a young man who fought through labels and expectations to find his own identity, who would not bend his back while he was beaten, and who, in the world’s darkest hour, shined with a light for all who needed to see. Even Tommy.
It was about them all.
He saw this, over and over, in the Pattern arrayed around him. Tommy walked through eons and ages, his hand passing through ribbons of the Pattern’s light.
HERE’S THE TRUTH, DARK ONE, Tommy said, taking another step forward, arms out, woven Pattern spreading around them. YOU CAN’T WIN UNLESS WE GIVE UP. THAT’S IT, ISN’T IT? THIS FIGHT ISN’T ABOUT WINNING SOME BIG, EPIC BATTLE. TAKING ME…IT WAS NEVER ABOUT BEATING ME. IT WAS ABOUT BREAKING ME.
THAT’S WHAT YOU’VE TRIED TO DO WITH ALL OF US. YOU WIN WHEN YOU BREAK US. BUT YOU HAVEN’T. YOU CAN’T.
The darkness trembled. The nothingness shook, as if the arches of the heavens themselves were cracking. The Dark One’s shout was defiant.
Within the void, Tommy continued forward, and the darkness trembled.
I CAN STILL KILL, the Dark One bellowed. I CAN STILL TAKE THEM ALL! I AM THE LORD OF THE GRAVE. YOUR SECOND SON, HE IS MINE. ALL ARE MINE EVENTUALLY.
Tommy stepped forward, hand stretched out. In his palm sat the world, and upon that world a continent, and upon that continent a battlefield, and upon that battlefield, his son.
Angel Grove/Demon City
The Mystic Red of the present teleported into Angel Grove; Ashley had managed to navigate the interference successfully, although the Rangers and Riders landed scattered around their target: a massive portal of black ink that led into the Bore, the passage to the Dark One’s prison.
The Red Ranger armed his staff and faced the portal. There…the Dark One… The being responsible for the destruction and despair in Nick’s timeline. The being responsible for Nick being raised in that hell. This is it, you son-of-a-bitch.
The Red Mystic Ranger ran towards the portal. But strands of ink lashed out from the darkness, wrapping around the Red Ranger and binding him in place. Cold pain stung his skin and seeped into his body, filling him with dread and despair.
White Jokers sprouted from the ground around the Red Ranger, and they charged to attack.
YOUR SECOND SON. I WILL TAKE HIM. I WILL TAKE THEM ALL, ADVERSARY. AS I TOOK THE MAKER — THE KIRIN RANGER. I FED HIS CORRUPTION. HIS HUBRIS. DARKENED HIS SOUL. I TOOK EVERYTHING HE CARED FOR AND CLAIMED HIM AS MINE.
The pain reminded Mystic Red of the alternate timeline of his origin. Dark. Dread. Violence. Ignorance. Hatred. So much corruption, it strangled everything.
White Jokers dashed past him, slashing his armor with bursts of spark. He tried to fight back, but the binding tendrils of darkness pinned his arms and legs. He couldn’t move. Images flashed through his mind, images of his dark clone, who became the villain Koragg.
That’s what happens… he thought. That’s what happens if I give in. I won’t…I won’t!
His powers flared with fire that burned away the bindings of darkness.
Tommy stood above the Pattern and looked down at the fallen men and women in a land where hope seemed to have died. “You haven’t been watching very closely. You’re wrong about one thing. So wrong…”
The Red Mystic Ranger’s arms and legs felt like jelly. He slashed through a White Joker. Than another. Then another.
His armor shattered with flashes of red light, dropping him to his knees.
The ranger rolled his hands into fists. Flames flickered across his knuckles.
Near the Dark One’s portal, a light flickered.
Nick squinted, the battle seeming to dim around him.
So very wrong, Dark One. Tommy’s voice whispered in Nick’s mind.
Then the voice was no longer in Nick’s mind. It could be heard distinctly by everyone on the battlefield, within Angel Grove, and as far as the Command Chamber.
That one you tried to destroy so many times, Tommy said, that one who lost his father, his mother, his love, and his own future. That one who fell into madness, despair, and loss, all so he could save the world…
Distortion swept across the battlefield, and from that distortion, Billy Cranston stumbled to his feet, torn from his twisted future self and his mirror version from Demon World Earth. Torn and born anew.
“That man,” Tommy shouted. “That man still fights!”
To be continued…