The Gokai Galleon floated through the shattered remnants of space and time. Within, the Ultimate Power Rangers gathered. They recently used their Ranger Keys to unlock their final Time Shard. But the shard didn’t reveal how reality shattered or how to fix it.
“Now what?” Mat asked. “We don’t have any leads on any more Time Shards. We already have all the Grand Powers. And we still don’t know what made reality shatter, let alone how to fix it.”
“Maybe…” Kira said as she looked through the viewport. “Maybe we don’t have all the Grand Powers.”
“What do you mean?” Seth asked.
“The Rail Rangers,” she said.
Orion’s face lit up. “That’s right! Tyler, you were one of those Rail Rangers– which I’m still trying not to laugh about, by the way. Anyway, we don’t have that power set yet. Maybe those powers are the final piece we need!”
Tyler shook his head. He didn’t remember his life before the shattering of reality, only glimpses, including a glimpse of his apparent death. But when he thought of the Rail Rangers, he felt…
“No,” he said, dismissing the thought. “Those weren’t even technically Ranger powers, just some kid’s imagination. There has to be another way.”
Mat sighed. “Okay, but keep in mind, we’re running out of time. And by that I mean literal time. You know those broken fragments of reality we skip through? There aren’t many pieces left. It won’t be long before…”
“Before we vanish too,” Kym said.
“We’ll find a way.” Tyler sat in his chair and leaned back. “We always do.”
Angel Grove, 2019 AD
Tommy walked into the kitchen and kissed his wife, Ashley, on the forehead. “Morning, beautiful.”
“Ugh, don’t call me that.” Pregnant, she slid her hand over her belly. “I feel huge.”
“You’re beautiful,” Tommy said. “You have that whole…pregnant-woman glow about you.”
She smiled and rolled her eyes. “You sweat and throw up all morning. You’ll have that glow too.”
Tommy kissed her cheek and moved to the kitchen table.
He sat down, opened his laptop, and started making some last-minute notes before the start of school. “Aw man, half-days are the worst. Not sure what I can actually teach my kids in 20 minutes.”
His phone rang, and he answered, placing it on speaker. “Connor, do you know how many kids call their teachers at 6 a.m.?”
“Uh, I’m thinking it’s a short list, Dr. O.”
Tommy smiled. “Go with that instinct.”
“Anyway, listen…you know how we were up late fighting that Giganoid-”
Tommy smiled and rolled his eyes. “I can’t write you a slip to miss school. I’m your teacher, not your parent.”
“Yeah, well…could I sleep through your class at least?”
“See you in a bit, Conner,” Tommy said with a smile, hanging up.
Ashley nudged him. “Proud of you.”
“For what?” Tommy asked.
“For not giving him the 'When-I-was-a-Ranger’ speech.”
“Hey,” Tommy said defensively. “I don’t have a 'When-I-was-a-Ranger’ speech.”
“When I was a Ranger,” Ashley teased, imitating her husband. “We had to fight giant monsters with our bare hands, and then walk 50 miles to school, barefoot in the snow the next morning.”
He sighed and kissed her. “I love you.”
“I know. Now go to work, you goof. And remember, we’re meeting Trini and Jonathan for dinner.”
Mikhail, a Heavenly Saint in human form, rubbed his eyes and looked out upon the city. He stood on a skyscraper in the heart of Angel Grove Central. Everything looked right…and wrong at the same time. The saint remembered Angel Grove’s destruction. Yet here it stood, without even a trace of Demon City.
Further, he sensed the presence of Rangers and Riders who died during the Second Countdown to Destruction, as well as during the war against the Dark One. Trini. Jonathan. The Turbo Rangers. The list went on. How could they be alive, as if they never died?
“This…” he whispered to himself. “This isn’t right.”
He reached out with his mind for answers. He felt Tommy and Ashley. Tyler. Nick. And…Simon.
Through his mind’s eye, Mihail saw Simon standing on the rooftop of the Hayate Way dojo. The ranger narrowed his eyes and looked, somehow, straight at Mikhail.
“Who are you…?” Simon asked. “Why are you watching me?”
Simon triggered a burst of TK energy that knocked Mikhail backward. His mind swirled, and he nearly collapsed.
Mikhail breathed deep and tried to shake the image from his mind. But he couldn’t. “What has happened…?”
Simon stood on the rooftop of the Hayate Way dojo. His friends Justin, Rachel and Kou walked up to meet him.
“What was that?” Justin asked. “You made the whole building shake. Again.”
Simon smiled and shrugged. “Sorry about that. It felt like something was watching me.”
“Well that sounds ominous,” Kou said. “Should we talk to Tommy?”
“No,” Simon said, shaking his head. “It was probably nothing. Besides, he has enough to worry about with his Dino Thunder team.”
“He cares about us too, ya know,” Rachel said, placing a hand on his arm.
“I know,” Simon said with a sigh. “Anyway…are we still on to meet up with Blake and Hunter?”
“Yep,” Rachel said. “They’re waiting for us.”
“Then let’s go,” Simon said.
As he joined his friends, he couldn’t shake a nagging feeling in the back of his mind, like a whisper and shout he couldn’t make out. A voice that boomed and hissed, that shook mountains, yet sounded as quiet as stillness. The voice of the Dark One.
Tommy dismissed his students at the end of the half-day. After they left, he sat down and shuffled some papers, trying to organize the mess that was his desk.
The afternoon news played on the classroom TV. The program caught Tommy’s attention with a few key words.
“INET today plans to bring its new Enetron Matrix online, here in Angel Grove Central,” the news reporter said.
Tommy perked up his head. Enertron Matrix?
On the news, Miss. Fairweather stood at a podium and addressed a crowd of reporters. Max, the former Red Lightspeed Rescue Ranger, and mentor to the Overdrive Task Force Titan Rangers, stood alongside her.
“Today marks an historic event, years in the making,” Miss. Fairweather said. “The Enetron Matrix will make Angel Grove the first energy independent city in America, and serve as the hub for disaster recovery efforts across the globe. With the power of the Enetron Matrix, we can rebuild homes, towns, and entire cities in a matter of hours, if not less. And soon, we’ll have an operational Matrix in every major city in the world.”
Miss Fairweather continued the conference. Tommy felt more and more unnerved by her every word. Billy at the center of a world-wide power network? That wouldn’t end well. And how did this Emetron Matrix work? It sounded like it harnessed the One Power somehow. That could prove dangerous.
Tommy remembered the vision he saw years ago, after the Second Countdown to Destruction. A city in ruins, and a giant Kirin at its center, breathing fire. The Kirin represented Billy, the former Kirin Ranger.
“Something’s not right,” Tommy whispered.
Dr. William “Billy” Cranston stood in his INET office in Angel Grove Central. He dimmed the lights and tinted the windows, which looked out from the top floor of a skyscraper.
Holograms shimmered to life around him. Each hologram appeared as a black slab with a number.
Cranston spoke to them. “You’ve all felt the shift to the timeline-”
A voice interrupted from one of the slabs, which pulsed with each word. “The core equations haven’t changed.”
“Confirmed,” spoke a voice from another slab. “But we cannot risk further alterations to the Prime Timeline.”
“Agreed,” spoke another slab. “It is a shame our progress has become so…muddled. I blame you, Dr. William Cranston, for this failure. As reality tore itself apart, as war waged against this so-called Dark One, you did nothing. Now our plans are in-”
“My plans,” Cranston said. “Don’t speak to me like I’m a child.”
“Then stop acting like one.”
Billy lifted his hand. Time and space distorted around his palm.
Screams sounded from the tablets. Loud, screeching wails.
The images distorted and vanished.
Tommy met with Simon at the Hayate Way. They walked through the courtyard and talked, getting straight to the point.
“You’ve got a mission for me?” Simon asked.
“If you want it,” Tommy said. “Billy’s planning to bring his Enertron Matrix online. I’m worried about what might happen afterward.”
“For any reason other than it’s Billy?” Simon asked.
Tommy nodded. “It sounds like he’s tapping into the One Power and using it as an energy source. That could be dangerous, you can’t harness the driving force of time and space and use it as fuel. If something were to go wrong…” He shook his head. “I don’t know…I just know it’s dangerous.”
“You want us to shut it down?”
“Not yet, and not unless we have to. We need to learn more first,” Tommy said. “Take your team in and scout the place. Find out as much about this Enetron Matrix as you can. Then we’ll figure out what we need to do.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Simon said.
Tommy nodded. “Just be sure to be careful. There’s something…I don’t know. There’s something off about all of this.”
Bandora summoned the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs millions of years ago. The impact created a parallel world, Dino Earth, where dinosaurs survived. On Dino Earth, the enchanted asteroid spawned a race of microscopic beings that evolved into full-grown villains: the Evorian.
Months ago, the Evorian began attacking our Earth, and Tommy assembled his Dino Thunder team to stop them. Tommy created the Dino Thunder powers while his mind inhabited the body of a Dino Earth native about 14 years ago. Once Tommy returned to his Earth, though, the Dino Thunder Powers– harnessed through Dino Gems from Bandora’s asteroid– remained dormant. Until the Evorian attacked. The villains’ presence awakened the Dino Gems’ powers.
Connor McKnight, Ethan James, and Kira Ford formed the core of the Dino Thunder team: Connor, the Red Ranger; Ethan, the Blue Ranger; and Kira, the Yellow Ranger. Tommy had a gem of his own as the Dino Thunder Black Ranger. And a fifth Dino Gem belonged to a teen named Trent, who initially fought against the others as the White Ranger, Dino Slayer.
Trent fought against the Evorian now, but didn’t necessarily consider himself a part of the team, much to Kira’s dismay.
Kira walked along with Connor and Ethan. They did their best to cheer her up with their usual antics…which didn’t work, so much.
She sighed and rolled her eyes. “No, Connor. For the last time, we can’t surprise attack the Seraph Rangers.”
“Oh, come on,” Connor said. “Just for fun! It’s not like we’d actually hurt them.”
“Dude, they’re on our side,” Ethan said. “If you want to attack someone so bad you might as well go after RPM. Or Dino Charge…talk about a copyright rip-off.”
Connor shrugged. “They just bother me, is all.”
Suddenly, the skies flashed like strobe lights, and the air sizzled with static. Three shapes crashed onto the streets in front of the rangers. The shapes sizzled with heat and smoke as they stood, revealing their true form: White Jokers.
Ethan knitted his brow. “Those don’t look like Evorian.”
Another figure leapt from the rooftops and landed behind the teens: Trent.
“That’s because they’re not,” he said as he walked towards his sometimes-teammates. “I don’t know what they are, but I just fought two of them, and more are popping up across the city.”
Conner armed his morpher. “Well okay then. Do we want to talk about it some more? Or do we want to fight?”
As if to answer, the White Jokers leaned forward and hissed, ready for battle.
“That’s what I thought,” Conner said.
Conner, Ethan, and Kira stepped forward.
“Dino Thunder! Power up! Ha!”
Energy erupted around them as they morphed into their armor and snapped into fighting stances.
“Tyranno Ranger! Dino Red!”
“Tricera Ranger! Dino Blue!”
“Ptera Ranger! Dino Yellow!”
“Thundersaurus Task Force…” the Red Ranger called out. Together, they shouted: “Dino Rangers!”
Trent lifted his bracer. “White Ranger. Dino Power.”
Energy flashed around him as he morphed into his armor and shifted into a fighting stance.
“Drago Ranger. Dino Slayer.”
The White Ranger dashed through blurs of motion, back and forth, slashing the White Jokers with bursts of spark.
A White Joker grabbed the Ranger and threw him at his teammates. Dino Red, Dino Blue, and Dino Yellow dove aside; Dino Slayer crashed and skid across the street.
The other two White Jokers pounced. One jump-kicked Dino Red to the ground. The other slashed Dino Blue with a burst of spark, whipping him off his feet.
Dino Yellow moved in. “Ptera Daggers!”
She slashed towards the nearest White Joker. But the villain blocked and slashed her to the ground.
“Kira!” Dino Slayer shouted as he climbed to his feet.
The White Ranger armed his Drago Sword and charged. But a White Joker kicked him with enough force to hurl him across the street; the Ranger smashed through a storefront.
Tommy barely had time to leave the Hayate Way before his communicator toned. He sighed and answered.
“This is Tommy, go ahead.”
“Dr. O!” Conner shouted through the com. “We could seriously use some back-up.”
“Alright…” Tommy said. “Hang tight, I’m on my way.”
Tommy dashed to the scene. Ahead, he saw the three White Jokers battle the four Dino Thunder Rangers. The strange monsters moved like feral beasts, striking with powerful blows that the Rangers could barely counter.
The White Jokers seemed familiar somehow, but Tommy couldn’t place them. Were they part of some random attack? Or something more?
Tommy armed his morpher.
“Dino Thunder! Power up! Ha!” He inserted his key into his morpher, sparking a surge of energy that wrapped around his body, forming his armor.
He snapped into his fighting stance.
“Brachio Ranger! Dino Black!”
A White Joker took notice and jumped at the Black Ranger.
The Black Ranger leapt through the air and armed his weapon.
Dino Black slashed the White Joker from the air with a burst of spark.
The Black Ranger somersaulted through midair and landed, just in time to block a flurry of claw slashes from the second White Joker. Dino Black swung upward, slashing the monster with a burst of spark. He dodged a blow and spun forward with a reverse side-kick, bashing the monster off its feet.
The Black Ranger hopped forward with a downward swing, striking the third White Joker with a burst of spark.
A nagging feeling twisted in the back of the Black Ranger’s mind, even in the midst of the battle. Why does this feel so…wrong? Unbalanced?
The five Rangers regrouped, as did the three White Jokers.
The monsters pulled cards from their belts, and slid the cards through their bucklers. Each buckler spoke a different command.
“DORA PUMPKIN WRAPPER”
“DORA STAG BEETLE”
The three White Jokers transformed into copies of monsters from the past: the Pumpkin Wrapper, Rhino Blaster, and Staf Beetle.
Pumpkin Wrapper snapped a vine that wrapped around the five Rangers, squeezing them tight The villain channeled energy pulses through the vine; the pulses smashed the Rangers with bursts of spark, thrashing their armor.
The Black Ranger tightened his hands into fists. “Super Dino Mode!”
He shifted into Super Dino Mode with a pulse of golden energy, tearing through the vone.
The Black Ranger leapt through the air and angled his descent towards Pumpkin Wrapper. He swung his arms downward and landed, slashing the monster with bursts of spark.
Rhino Blaster tackled the Black Ranger. But he Black Ranger slashed the monster aside.
Stag Beetle fired jagged bursts of energy and power.
The Black Ranger dodged.
The White Ranger leapt through the air and landed with a chop, shattering the monster’s pincers with massive bursts of spark.
The White Ranger and Black Ranger pressed forward with side-kicks, bashing the monster off its feet.
Suddenly, the skies flashed like strobe lights, and the air sizzled with static.
The White Jokers vanished.
Dino Red pointed towards their last location. “You better run!”
Dino Yellow ignored him. “OK, what was that about?” She looked to her mentor. “Dr. O, do you have any idea what just happened? What were those things?”
The Black Ranger shook his head. “I don’t know. I just don’t know…”
Beyond all Space and Time
Tyler stood on the sail of the Gokai Galleon. Strands of color and light swept through the darkness around him.
He carried the Time Shard unlocked by Dino Thunder’s Grand Power, wondering if he missed something within its images.
The ranger’s communicator beeped, interrupting his thoughts. He flipped open his morpher to answer the call.
“This is Tyler.”
“Hey, Ty,” Vasco sad, his voice light and mocking. “Can I call you Ty? We never did establish that…”
Tyler narrowed his eyes. “What do you want, Vasco.”
“Tsk, tsk. You’re so cranky these days. You never used to be this way,” Vasco said. “What happened, Ty?”
“I’m really not in the mood.”
“You never are,” Vasco said. “At least, not anymore.”
“What do you want?”
“I have something that might interest you…”
“You’ve spent all this time searching for the Grand Powers of the Rangers. And you’ve found them,” Vasco said. “Or have you?”
Tyler cursed beneath his breath. Kira was right…Rail Ranger Keys. Of course, Tyler didn’t want to admit that. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. And frankly, I don’t care.”
“Oh, but you will care,” Vasco said. “These Keys I’ve found are special. Rail Ranger Keys. They’re not like the others…”
“If I want them, I’ll beat you senseless and take them,” Tyler said. “I’m not playing any games.”
“It’s no game,” Vasco said. “Come back to me, Tyler. Come for these strange Rail Ranger Keys. Let’s meet again…for the last time.”
Angel Grove, 2019 AD
Tommy stepped into his home and flipped on the light switch. But the lights stayed off.
He knitted his brow. “That can’t be good…”
Most would assume a power outage or circuit-breaker problem. Not Tommy. His mind went to the worst-case scenario. An intruder.
Tommy snapped around and hurled a bolt of Ki at the intruder– Mikhail.
The saint dodged, barely, and the blast tore through a wall.
Mikhail lifted his hand with pulse of light; the blast knocked Tommy to the floor.
The ranger climbed to his feet and armed his Dino Morpher. But before he could attack, Mikhail appeared inches in front of him and placed a hand on his forehead.
“Remember,” he said. The saint’s eyes flashed with holy energy.
Tommy screamed and collapsed to his knees, retching. His memories flooded back as if bursting through a dam. He remembered everything, from the Second Countdown to Destruction to his duel with the Dark One.
His heart pounded in his chest.
His head spun.
Grief gripped his throat.
“It can’t be…” he said between breaths. “None of this…none of this is real?”
“It is real,” Mikhail said. “Real enough.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Tommy asked.
“This world is real, but…new, and temporary, at best,” Mikhail explained. “All of Creation was sick and dying, fracturing. That wounded reality, that decaying timeline, is still there. This reality is like a band aid laid over it. Eventually, the wound will fester and tear open, ripping through this world as well.”
Tommy climbed to his feet, rubbing his brow. “The last thing I remember…trying to seal the Dark One…”
“Something happened in that moment,” Mikhail said. “I don’t understand what. But in that moment, this world was born.”
Tommy sighed and took a seat at his table. “This is…I mean…what the hell…” He rubbed his eyes. “What the hell…”
“I know this may seem overwhelming,” Mikhail said. “But we have to focus. Something is still causing all of reality to shatter.”
“What could possibly…” His mind started to wonder, back and forth between memories of the two timelines. Then he remembered the newscast from the morning. “Billy.”
Tommy stood, cursing beneath is breath. “I should have figured this out years ago. It’s not the Dark One, some cosmic force or some grand villain. Whatever Billy’s been playing with, whatever he’s planning, he’s the one who breaks all of creation.”
“Tommy, it’s important that you not jump to conclusions. Your mind is still adapting to the stress of-”
Vertigo struck Tommy, and he nearly fell, grabbing the chair for support. He sighed and breathed deep, trying to calm himself. “Okay…okay.”
His mind drifted again, this time to the champions killed during the Second Countdown to Destruction and the war against the Dark One. They all lived now. Or did they?
“What about…” Tommy started to ask, his heart still pounding. He remembered champions dying during the Second Countdown to Destruction, and again during the war with the Dark One. But now…all those champions lived as if their deaths never happened. “What about the ones who didn’t make it. Trini? Jonathan? Kim? Adam?”
“Death is a powerful force,” Mikhail said. “Those who passed during the Second Countdown to Destruction, and the war against the Dark One, passed. They exist now only as echoes of their former selves.”
Tommy closed his eyes, his mind darting back and forth, giving him mental whiplash.
“Simon…” Tommy whispered.
Mikhail nodded. “He remembers nothing. But everything that happened, happened. His death and struggle through Hell. His corruption. The warping of his mind and soul. It is only a matter of time before that corruption overtakes him once again.”
“Great, and I just sent him out on a mission…” Tommy said, rubbing his eyes. “So everything’s changed, but not changed.”
“From what I’ve learned…” Mikhail explained. “Simon never turned to evil in this timeline. The Dark One’s seals were never broken. And Angel Grove was never destroyed. Those are the key differences between this… 'band-aide’ timeline and the main reality.”
“We’re not calling it the 'Band-Aide Timeline,'” Tommy said.
“I only meant-”
“I know, I know,” Tommy said. “I’ve…”
Then it struck him: Kimberly was alive in this “band-aide” timeline. And Tyler still lived with her.
“I…I have to go.”
Mikhail knitted his brow. “To where?”
“Florida, to talk to Kimberly…and my son.”
—to be continued…Chapter 18