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Old April 18th, 2017, 10:54 AM #17
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Call the 5-4-1
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 4,141
BattleRanger
Call the 5-4-1
BattleRanger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 4,141



Chapter Two


Zordon endured his long and painful tattooing at the hands of the Morphing Master Amit without showing any sign of the agony of the modification. The scarring of his cyan skin indicated that Zordon had endured and passed the trials necessary to become Eltar’s Master Warrior. As the bone needle penetrated his pale skin, drawing blood, his face remained stoic and focused.

“Ever more, the Morphing Grid seeks out those it wishes. Do you possess all that is necessary to gain its trust?” Master Amit questioned. The other Masters all sat in a semi-circle around the student and teacher, their faces reflecting the glow of the fire.

The response came without grimace or guile. “Yes, my Master.”

“Good,” the Morphing Master smiled. “Dark times are ahead of you, Zordon of Eltar. Dathos is a powder keg, ready to explode. Once you have achieved metamorphosis, you and your Rangers must contest the Dairakun Knights and bring an end to their terror. Do you accept this assignment?”

Emphasizing his instructions with the stab of the needle, Amit nodded and wiped the blood from his student’s arm.

Never flinching, never blinking, the Red Ranger, chosen by the mysterious and mystical Morphing Grid, replied, “I accept.”

****

“As you can see, makeshift campsites were reported as far in as Dekata Five. Zedd’s forces may be vast, but they don’t know how to clean up after themselves. The amount of energy required to power his weapon means that wherever Zedd’s forces have massed, they’ll be easy to locate.

Now, reports of a massive serpent like vessel are coming in from Aquitar, Tryforia, pretty much the entire lower quadrant of the Eurolean Arm. No doubt, Zedd is returning back to Nemesis with the Zeo Crystal in tow.” Umon stood at the apex of the bridge, the magnetic transtium viewscreen playing the corresponding images of several star systems.

Fenix scoffed at what Umon was proposing. “If Zedd manages to get his weapon up to full power, he’ll be unstoppable.” She had seen first-hand the destruction Zedd’s ultimate weapon had wrought to the Confederated Free Systems.

While the dark lord was not its creator, he had been its master for over a thousand years, ever since it was discovered buried in a remote asteroid. The Morphing Masters had told them it was a terrible remnant of a darker time, before the forging of the Power Coins. Some had even speculated that the great dragon was responsible for the destruction of the Zeo Crystal before time, itself, had even begun.

Serpentara. The name sent chills down her spine. Zedd had built his entire empire of death on the shoulders of the ancient terror. Entire systems had been laid to waste at its feet- but Umon, the Black Ranger, had discovered its weakness.

“If by some reason, we end up facing the might of Serpentara, we now have a tactical advantage. These sites, shown here on the view screen, have been discovered accompanied by large mines carved out of the earth. It’s my summation that Zedd is using geothermal sources to charge the weapon’s batteries, which leads me to believe that Serpentara is experiencing detrimental, intermittent power losses. Zedd knows nothing of strategy and will attempt to use Serpentara to blast us into oblivion.”

“Umon, let me stop you right there,” Zordon interrupted. “We have agreed that the best course of action would be to send Rita in as a spy to Zedd’s forces. I appreciate the briefing, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.”

The Black Ranger was easily the oldest of the group. Having served as a Sergeant in the Royal Army, he was as shocked as the others when he found himself chosen by the Morphing Grid to join the newly minted Power Rangers squadron. His hair was cut short, in a no-nonsense military style, set with sparse strands of grey. The long lines that dissected his face were broken up by a short, dark goatee.

“Nothing wrong with being too prepared, Zordon. Zedd is no fool- sending her in may be a suicide mission.”

The Red Ranger felt the long scar across his hip ache. He attempted to apply pressure to the area, hoping to sooth the throbbing pain, but the crystalline weave of his armor’s under suit refused to give way. The wound was a reminder that Zedd, Lord of Nemesis, was not to be taken lightly. Umon realized his mistake and quickly changed the subject.

“However, I believe I have the solution to giving her more of a fighting chance. Eltarian forces managed to capture a long-range quadrafighter during a skirmish at Dekata Four. Initial assessments revealed key tactical data for Zedd’s armies. As soon as the data is decrypted, we’ll be able to identify their bases within the region.”

“We don’t have that much time,” Mi, the Pink Ranger, stated, stepping onto the bridge. “We’ve been spotted.” The Eltarian cruiser suddenly lurched to the side, the lights of the command deck cutting out momentarily.

“Alpha, raise all shields and jam their signals. We can’t afford for them to alert Zedd’s forces to our position,” Danok, the Blue Ranger, instructed. Strapped into the pilot seat alongside the squat automaton, Danok desperately fought the control yoke, the ship banking and bringing their attackers into sight.

Alpha 5 identified the trio of space fighters. “Quadrafighters.”

“Thank you, Admiral Apparent. Charge the forward ion cannons.” The automaton nodded and flipped a series of switches.

“Charged. We’re armed, sir.” With no response, Danok flipped the covers on the yoke’s triggers and engaged the targeting systems. Streaks of energy burst from the ship’s cannons, reaching out and obliterating the left flanking quadrafighter. The ship trembled again, the blast from the lead fighter dissipating across the energy shield.

The four-engine Viper-class starfighter, known in most parts as quadrafighters, was one of the more vicious and capable ships in Lord Zedd’s fleet. Produced in masse at Tirol, the sole moon of the planet Nemesis, the fighters had more than earned their reputation in the galaxy. Piloted by Nemesian soldiers, nicknamed diamondbacks for the crimson rhombus of the Nemesis Legions prominently displayed across the back of their armored breastplates, the quadrafighters were as deadly as their proper designation would suggest.

“Deploy counter measures,” Danok commanded, watching as the quadrafighters vanished from the forward display. Alpha 5 keyed in a specific set of commands into the ship’s system, releasing two dozen metallic drones from its underbelly. Already in mid fire, the lead quadrafighter’s volley fixed its interest on the distraction and blew the drones to kingdom come.

Alpha 5 turned back towards the Blue Ranger. “Ion cannons charged, sir.”
The Eltarian ship banked hard again and came around to face the enemy fighters. A glancing bolt from the lead fighter’s batteries struck the shield projector in a flash of azure light. A damned lucky shot, Danok cursed.

“Shields are down!”

“Tell me something I don’t know, Alpha.” With no sense of sarcasm or humor to speak of, the little android responded literally.

“The Zeo Crystal isn’t a natural occurrence. My study of the crystal fragments suggests that …”

“Ay-yi-yi-yi,” Danok shook his head. “Remind me to ask Zordon about some modifications to your systems.” The Blue Ranger closed his eyes, slowing his breathing and feeling his power center itself with the Morphing Grid. A calming strength washed over his mind as he reached out and felt the power of the diamondbacks at the controls of the fighters. Danok squinted and squeezed off a blast from the ship’s cannons that struck the secondary quadrafighter, sending it careening into the lead fighter. The collision of ships erupted in a blinding burst of light and flames that was quickly extinguished by the vacuum of space. A shimmer of metallic debris was all that remained.

***

“Ugh, how do you eat that?” Umon asked of the Green Ranger, as she quartered and ate the white flesh of some river fish she had caught a few days earlier.

“Simple, you just avoid the bones. These stingwingers pack a punch- you just have to know how to prepare them,” Rita answered. Umon had spent most of his adult life faring off of prepackaged flashdried foods while serving in the Royal Army. When the meals ran out, Umon and his squadron had basically lived off bottom-feeding fish from the Rampoon River. The protein and nourishment had meant the difference between starving to death in the cold of winter and having the energy to defend the free provinces.

While the others had picked from a plate of breakfast meats, fruit, and fried breads, Rita preferred catching and eating fresh seafood. With their recent stay in the Regada system, home to some of the finest fishing in the Eurolean Arm, she had managed to catch and store enough food to last her another month.

A trilling alarm from the databank fixed on the wall garnered the attention of their chef and assistant, Alpha 5. Without having to move a single transtium servo, he had intercepted the transmission and decrypted it.

“Data link from Eltar, Zordon,” the automaton instructed. The Red Ranger cleared his spot of the fruit rinds and engaged the holo-display. A group of planets coalesced into existence above the breakfast, pinpoints of light indicating a group of coordinates on the largest of the worlds.

“Zedd is scheduled to arrive here, on Dekata Five, in two days’ time. We all know Dekata Five and Bromack Four are capitals of the Nemesian empire. From what data Eltarian forces were able to extrapolate, Zedd is planning on finishing the jump gate, making travel between Nemesis and the systems it governs instantaneous,” Zordon announced, reading the lines of data accompanying the images.

“I bet he’s going to use the Zeo Crystal to power it,” Mi added.

Danok nodded. “If Zedd is able to successfully power that gate, he may also gain access to systems beyond our reach.”

Rubbing his temples, Umon knew what the others were proposing. “And to more Zeo Crystals.”

“We cannot allow this,” Fenix stated, standing up from the table. She watched as Rita circled the table and approached Zordon.

“You can’t keep looking out for me,” she stated, placing a comforting hand on the Red Ranger’s chest. “I’m not the same girl you once knew.” Zordon sighed heavily and faced the databank. He knew the risk but he could no longer prolong it.

An only child, Zordon had seen Rita as a younger sister. When she was first chosen to become the Green Ranger, he had been her only friend in the months that followed. Once the full team had been chosen and trained, they had successfully defended the Dathos province, bringing peace and justice to the Eltarian state while vanquishing the Dairakun knights. Zordon knew what he had seen then- a glimmer of rebellion, a hunger for the power that the knights had achieved through their dark, illicit rituals. He knew the flaw in her character- and while he could not blame her for wanting the security such powers would bring her, he took it upon himself to watch her back and to, one day, find a way to cast such darkness out of her.

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

Last edited by BattleRanger; December 15th, 2017 at 06:43 PM.
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