Disclaimer: Same as always. Sue me and you can have my spare pocket lint.
Author's Note: Before we get started, I'd like to actually answer some of the reviews I've gotten lately. Not to particular names or anything, just general stuff. It has come to my attention that some believe me to be a "MMPR fascist". Now, this kind of bugs me. Yes, I do like the older teams a lot. Yes, I know I haven't given much thought to the other series. But that doesn't mean I don't respect them. As a matter of fact, I have plans for a lot of the other teams in the future. I just ask that anyone reading this series exercise their infinite patience that they have graced me with by still reading this, and you will enjoy what I have planned (I hope). Thank you, and enjoy!
*PROXIMITY ALERT: HOSTILE FORCES...*
Trey silenced the alarm. "Alright. It looks like they're closing in from the edges, standard perimeter formation."
"So what do we do? This is a pretty big force to try a just breaking out and surrounding them."
Trey nodded. "I'm afraid it's going to take a lot more than a few clever maneuvers to take care of this situation. Life readings are high enough to make this attack something we need to be worried about." There was a pause as both Rangers and Dai'rak thought about the moment. Some of them had already faced situations similar to this before. Trey just put it into words. "We may have to abandon the Command Center."
Painful silence fell over the Rangers. Tommy and Rocky especially had remembered what had happened all those years ago, when Goldar and Rito had sneaked in and managed to detonate the entire upper level. Both of them never wanted to see something like that happen again.
"Well, what are we just standing here for?" Corran, the dirty blonde and only male member of the Dai'rak asked. "Let's get out there and do some damage!"
Daniella, his blonde-haired cousin, reached up to put a hand on his shoulder. "I'm in." Their black-haired companion, Saré, nodded.
"Any chance for a rumble," she said with a grin.
"Then it's settled. Morphers up, everybody!" Jason started the call.
"IT'S MORPHIN' TIME!"
Saré, Corran, and Daniella stood shoulder to shoulder, eyes closed. Energy collected in the amulets around their necks and began to glow.
"ENERGY!" Saré's call brought forth a burst of black lightning that crackled from the amulet across her entire body, solidifying into her dark armor and green visor.
"SHADOW!" Corran's armor appeared as if it were rising straight from his dark reflection on the ground, wrapping itself around his body tightly until it hardened into form. His red visor practically glared on its own.
"ILLUSION!" Waves seemed to pulse from Daniella's mind as her armor formed, purple visor sparkling.
Nine flashes of black signaled their teleportation to battle.
"It's bad, isn't it?" Trey nodded. "What should I do?"
He was surprised. It was one of the few times his companion ever asked for help. He got so used to not having to be the leader in this area that he almost couldn't remember the answer. "Download every file you can find. Get as much as you can before they get here."
"You don't think the Rangers can hold them off, even with the Dai'rak?"
"This force, yes. But Sektarus knows at least part of our location. He won't stop now, which means that we can't stop until it is absolutely necessary. Now get to those files. We need as much information as possible."
"I'm on it."
Nine streaks of black materialized outside, contrasting sharply against the orange-yellow of the desert. Tommy and Jason stepped out and looked back at the group.
"Alright, everybody, we're pairing off. We've got three additional members," Tommy indicated the Dai'rak, "so you might wind up with somebody you haven't worked with before. Line 'em up, Jason."
"Kimberly and Zack, you've got North Sector. Aisha and Daniella take the East Sector. Saré and Corran are on the West Sector. Rocky, Tommy, and myself are going to cover the South Sector, where the majority of the attack is coming. Try not to move from your post unless you've finished off anything that's not even remotely human, but don't try to be heroes. This isn't the time. If you're forced to fall back, go. Any questions?" Silence. "Then move out!"
Zack came out of teleportation with his axe swinging wildly, but not blindly. His dancer's mind automatically catalogued all movement around him and processed how to work through it. Gloved hands held tightly to the axe as it spun and slashed. Arrow after arrow embedded itself in the creatures around him. Kimberly fired them off almost as fast as one could blink.
Aisha leapt from the remains of a teleportation beam with Daniella hot on her heels. She grabbed one beast by the throat, using its body as a vault and then projectile as it was thrown into the oncoming crowd. Daniella jumped over her and fired several blasts from her staff that pushed a few more monsters back. They continued like this, leapfrogging their way through a small part of the group, the rear member holding off any attackers that decided to circle around. It took very little time for them to be surrounded, but that only made them fight harder. That only allowed them to kill even more.
Corran and Saré charged their targets with the same speed and ferocity fueling their muscles. Corran withdrew one katana, cutting the head off of the first minion he came to. He drew the other to take a second's legs out from under him, then twirled the first katana in his hand and drove it into the fallen creature's back. His leg lashed out to kick away an attack before bringing his katana from the ground and nearly slicing the beast in half.
Saré, meanwhile, had lashed out against the cluster that surrounded her with several kicks and punches that blurred into a single blast of movement and strength. No one had even known she had drawn her daggers until open wounds from the Battalion began spitting forth blood. Energy crackled around her just before lightning burst from her armor and crackled through nearly seventy of the brutes.
They fought together in concentrated silence, but the same thought echoed through their minds. 'A few down, only a few thousand to go.'
Rocky, Jason, and Tommy appeared before the immense gathering of beasts armed and ready. No words were spoken as they quickly marched themselves at least thirty yards apart. Once the three of them were positioned, they waited.
Six eyes glared back into hundreds of ravenous stares.
Three jaws clenched in determination, while thousands of teeth gnashed in pure hatred.
Seventy hulking bodies of slimy muscle charged.
And seventy corpses of flash-fried bodies fell to the ground.
All three Rangers stood still, positioned like rocks. Energy still crackled around them from the immense blast they had exerted in a group effort.
"That was interesting."
The other two men laughed at Rocky's comment, then braced themselves. It appeared the dead monsters' friends didn't quite appreciate what had been done to their comrades.
"Charge on three?"
They leaned forward, shoulders down in an almost football-like stance. The Battalion in front of them growled, brandishing their weapons.
Trey grabbed the discs that were handed to him and stuffed them in a nearby bag. "How much of the Command Center's database have you gotten?"
"About forty-five percent. There's a lot of data in here."
He checked a viewscreen which currently displayed a streaming video feed of the battles outside. "Is there any way you can speed the process up?"
"Not without taking down our signal shields, but if we do that then Sektarus will know exactly where we are."
His eyes studied the screen intensely. Options weighed heavy in his mind. 'If I take the shield down, there will be no reason for the battle to continue so far away. The Battalion could easily teleport themselves here. And with our computer tied up in accessing and storing the entire Command Center archives, we might not have enough power to teleport the Rangers back fast enough to hold them off. Then again, if the Battalion doesn't know our exact location, they would be more willing to focus on eliminating one problem at a time...' If only there weren't so many possibilities!
"I'm picking up something....Oh no. It's Akeras."
Trey's eyes widened. "That can't be!" His companion nodded.
"He's out there, and it looks like he's heading for Daniella and Aisha."
"Open a wide-beam channel. I don't care who else picks this up, so long as you can get those two some help!"
Aisha slammed her fist into a creature's stomach, and then corrected her stance to prepare for the next attack. She was surprised when it never came. Instead, it looked like the monsters were backing away.
"Hey, what's going on?" Daniella moved to her side, waving her staff a few times. "Who blew the whistle?"
She looked where the Dai'rak was pointing her staff. Making his way from amidst the army of beasts was a scaled, lizard-like creation with wickedly curved claws and a musculature that made Arnold Schwarzeneggar on steroids appear dwarfish by comparison.
"Akeras," Daniella growled. "What do you want?"
"I want only what my Lord Sektarus wishes. And when that is accomplished..." His reptilian mouth almost seemed to leer at her. "I will take of the spoils what I wish."
Inwardly, the Dai'rak of Illusion suppressed a shudder. "I have had enough from you. The only thing your scaly hide will get from this is the most agonizing thrashing known to this planet!"
Aisha hung back for a mere second before following Daniella as she charged for Akeras. Members of the Battalion started edging in around them. It was clear that this was not going to be a fair fight, so she morphed the armor covering her forearms into two sharp, deadly blades. Normally she would have preferred simply morphing a set into existence using her Powers, but this situation called for longevity instead of raw power. Something that already existed had a better chance of surviving the fight, and it wouldn't incapacitate her like it had Jason during one of their fights against the Dai'rak.
Daniella clashed her staff against Akeras' arms so forcefully that sparks actually flew from the beast's scales. He pushed the weapon away and delivered a spinning backhand aimed at her midsection. It was blocked with the center of the staff while one end was driven into his side, a burst of energy burning itself into his hide. Battalion members swarmed in as he backed away, and Aisha came to her aid with a powerful surge of slicing and dicing that cut several of them apart. The occasional energy blast from her staff knocked through more of her opponents as she tried to make her way back to Akeras.
Unfortunately, he was the one who found her first.
Excruciating pain burned in a diagonal path up her back. White lights flew across her vision as the agony exploded near the base of her skull. She could feel the backside of her armor cracking and air beginning to rush inside.
Aisha increased the amount of power she used and fought harder to get out of the Battalion members that had hemmed her in. Nearly every one of them within sight was focused on surrounding the area, either to keep her busy or make sure nothing interfered with the battle. Either way, she was too outmatched to come to Daniella's aid.
And so Akeras stood above Daniella's body, leaning close to her. "It is fortunate for you that my lord has promised your captivity to me. Otherwise you would have become yet another corpse needlessly lost."
His speech was followed by a shrill sound and a small explosion as a small missile launched itself into his back, sending him flying straight into the mass of Battalion monsters. Zack blasted his way through and cleared a path for Aisha to join them.
"I left Kimberly on an overhang. She should be able to hold them off for a while, but it's getting rough out here." Several flashes of bright pink shined in the distance. "Aisha, get Daniella out of here. We need to get out of this sector." He armed his axe. "Get her over to the north side. I'll follow you there." Several shotgun-style blasts shot from his weapon. "See if you can get Kim to follow you. If we get separated, head for the Command Center."
Aisha helped Daniella up and put an arm around her waist for support. "But what about the others? Don't they need to know?"
Another blast. "Trey just sent out a broad signal. I'm sure they got it. Now move!"
"Aisha, Zack, and Daniella are retreating to the North Sector. Akeras looks like he's a little disoriented, but I don't know how long that'll slow him down."
Trey took the disk that was handed to him. "How far along are we?"
"Sixty-seven percent. If we cut the shield then I can get the rest in about ten minutes."
He had been putting off the decision, hoping they could hold out a little longer. 'Time's running out. I need to make a decision now.' "Alright. Drop the shield."
"Whoa….What the hell is this?"
"Take a look. You're not going to believe this…
Trey checked the diagnostic screen, watching as schematics and information flashed by. His eyes widened.
"Oh my god…"
Jason brought his sword down hard on a monster's head. "Man, there's just no end to these guys!" He caught sight of Tommy and Rocky fighting off a small crowd in order to get to him.
"Let's move it, bro!" Tommy yelled. "Time to step back!"
'What the…? Does he mean we're retreating?' "Tommy, we can still hold these guys back!"
"There's no time!" Rocky shouted at him. "Daniella's been hit hard and Kimberly's going to be overrun! We have to fall back!"
They were together now, still managing to knock back anything that came close enough to be hit. Jason gripped his weapon even tighter as he thought about the situation. 'If we go back, they'll find the Command Center. What do we do then? But if we keep fighting, odds are we could wind up hurt…or worse.' He felt Tommy's hand on his shoulder.
"C'mon, bro. We can't win this one."
Mentally cursing every higher power he could think of, Jason followed his fellow Rangers.
Saré slowed as a transmission reached her comm. She blasted a group of Battalion fighters away before signaling to Corran. "Hey! We gotta go!"
He spun in a full 360, katana out like a blender. "What for? We're holding them off!"
"East and South Sectors are being evacuated! There's too many of them!"
"We can handle this!"
"Daniella's been hurt, Corran! We have to get back!"
Corran froze. Almost imperceptibly, the grip on his katana tightened. 'Uh-oh,' Saré thought. 'I've seen that stance before.'
He let out a wild scream before attacking everything in sight with reckless abandon. His armor was a dark blur as he dove into the ground, vanishing into the shadows of everyone around him, only to rise from them, attack with a vicious strike, then disappear again.
Saré let out a sigh. 'We don't have time for this!' She half-shut her eyes and began focusing, imagining the power contained in her amulet growing. Her eyes opened, and an immense beam of dark green energy devastated the crowd. She stumbled forward and grabbed Corran's arm.
"Let's get out of here."
Kimberly dropped behind a boulder, trying to catch her breath. She had been firing arrows nonstop for the past thirty minutes. It was beginning to take its toll on her arms as well as her mind. Trying to generate enough energy to keep fighting was seriously tiring her out.
She was about to stand again and continue firing when a volley of energy blasts knocked out the first line before her.
"Kimberly! Let's roll, girl!"
She began backing towards Aisha's voice, pushing her tiring muscles to keep launching arrow after arrow. Zack's cannon kept giving her cover fire until she made it. Then they ran.
"They're retreating, and the Battalion is finding their way here." There was a pressing silence. It was the quiet of loss, of defeat.
"I've got all of the data, Trey. What do we do now?"
He sighed. So many chances…so many possibilities…What should he do? What could he do? His thoughts found their way back to the discs, to what they had found.
"Prepare to teleport."