Onboard the Flying Fortress, things were getting heated. It had been days since Malgramon's return and he had not taken any action since then. "Hey Malgramon!" Face Snatcher, a Boma warrior with two red grooves for hands on a body that was almost entirely white, with no eyes, was the first to say this. "We're tired of all this waiting around."
"Yeah!", Frightfur, a green Boma with an exposed ribcage and a bat-like head, nodded. "When're we gonna get back to wiping out humanity?"
As the crowd burst into the throne room, they saw that Malgramon wasn't there. Instead, there was a pair that no-one in the crowd recognised. One was a blue and gold dragonoid creature with wings on his arms and a pair of pointed ears. The other was a spider creature with a white veil over his head and arms sticking out the back. "Who the heck are you?", Trunkor, a Boma resembling a humanoid elephant, asked them.
"I am Arach!", the spider announced.
"And I am Dragoras!", the dragon nodded. "We are Malgramon's latest emissaries of his plan."
"Wait a minute.", Bugroth realised. "I know you! Aren't you Damos' spider and the Imperial Dragon?"
"We were, before.", came Arach's response. "But we have been granted further power, becoming new Boma warriors."
"That's great, but you aren't who we came here to see.", Whiplash, a green-yellow Boma with a metal plate where his mouth should be and tendrils connecting his head to his torso, spoke up. "Where is Lord Malgramon?"
"He's busy.", Dragoras answered, shoving Whiplash back. "And before you ask, we're not at liberty to tell you what. So you'll just have to be patient."
As he and Arach walked off, Bugroth stroked his own chin. "It's been days since our last attack on the Rangers, and we haven't done anything since then. What could Malgramon be planning that takes so long?"
And speaking of the Rangers, they were in the middle of something important. Namely, the day of their graduation from high school, which had come at last. All of them had been handed their diplomas, the valedictorian had given his speech and now the ceremony was over. All the Rangers were thus being congratulated by their respective families.
Ricky was being hugged by his mother Carol. "Oh I'm so proud of my baby boy.", she said with joy. "I can't believe you're moving onto the next stage in your life."
"Cheer up, mom.", Ricky patted her on the shoulder. "I'll still be around for three months to help you and Randy around the house. And you'll still see me again."
"I know.", Carl cried, barely holding back tears. "It's just so emotional."
Drew was greeted by his stepmother, Winona. "Dad couldn't make it, huh?", Drew said coldly.
"Your father had an urgent meeting at the office.", Winona informed him, her voice devoid of emotion. "But he told me to pass on his regards." She put her hand on his shoulder. "And while you and I have never seen eye-to-eye on anything, congratulations on your graduation."
"Thank you.", Drew nodded as he awkwardly hugged her. "You may not be been the best mother, but you did a good job."
Artie's parents Chester and Lois began taking some photos of him. Artie eventually reached out to his sister Yuki. "Hey squirt, how about you get in here?"
"Eh?", Yuki was confused. "But isn't this your special day?"
"It is.", Artie assured her. "This is just my way of showing that I couldn't have done it without your support." Lois Baldwin then prepared the camera again. "Now smile. It'll be your turn in a year." The two siblings smiled as another photo was taken.
As Roland hugged his parents Mike and Ellen, Raquel spoke with her mother. "It seems so surreal.", Raquel admitted. "Between my moving onto college and you taking over as the Principal full time, I really feel like I'm leaving the world I knew behind. I don't know what my new normal is."
"Believe me, dear. Normal went out the window for us a while ago.", Mrs. Collins assured her. "And even with the prom in a few days, I don't think you'll be living normally for some time."
"Of course, Malgramon's back.", Raquel remembered. "Even though the others have their powers back now, we still need to be on alert. Without Chloe, we can't use the Orb of Itsuto to recreate the bracelet he stole, so we're down a weapon in our arsenal."
It was then that Raquel's communicator began beeping, as did those of the other Rangers. "I guess duty calls.", Mrs. Collins noted. "Go. And we'll discuss 'that thing' later."
"Alright." Raquel nodded as she and the other Rangers ran off, throwing their graduation robes off as they left the school grounds for what would likely be heir last time here as students.
Within a few minutes, the 5 had made their way to Highway Base, where they were greeted with streamers going off. "Sorry if I startled you.", Kalia said sheepishly. "But I was told you were celebrating something and I wanted to get in on it."
"Thanks for that.", Raquel commented. "But you needn't have bothered. My mom is growing all of us a private graduation party tonight."
Artie became apprehensive. "Is she cooking?"
"No.", Raquel assured him.
"Are YOU cooking?", Roland asked.
"Only recipes from the book.", Raquel said with irritation.
"I feel like I'm missing some context.", Ricky commented.
"Let's just say that Mrs. Collins once baked muffins that put Artie in the hospital for a week.", Drew explained. "When Raquel tried improving on the recipe, Roland didn't have to spend a week… just three days. Now then, can we get down to business?"
"Just what I was gonna say.", Beck nodded as he ushered everyone over to the screen. "Ever since your two friends cottoned onto our secret, I decided to make them feel useful and put them up to some investigative work."
"Really?", Ricky asked. "Doing what?"
"We'll, the last time we saw Christopher and Chloe, both were headed for the woods.", Beck explained. "So I had them searching for evidence to their exact wear outs in those same woods. And last night, I got this image back from them." He brought up a photograph of Chloe hiding between the trees on his computer. "Though due to a mix of me not wanting to disturb your sleep before the big ceremony and not actually looking at it myself until this morning, we're only learning about this now."
"We need to get over there.", Ricky insisted.
"I'll conference Sam and Danny in.", Drew said in response, taking out a portable radio, much to everyone's surprise. "What, you expect me to yell for them to join us?" Everyone nodded in acknowledgement of this logic and moved on.
Onboard the Flying Fortress, a beep came up ion a map of the forest. "We've located him." Kamekuma, a red, scaled Boma with golden armour on white robes, with a prominent beard, called out. "Damos!"
"What?", Arach said with shock. "Are you sure?"
Bugroth went over to inspect. "Oh there's no mistaking it. Even with his signature being weaker, it's definitely Damos."
"Hey, I've got an idea.", Blastrazz suggested. "How about we all go and get even with him for the damage he caused to us?" Everyone cheered at this notion.
Everyone but one. "No!", Dragoras insisted. "You are all to stay here until given further orders."
"I am giving them.", Arach countered with. "All of you are to go down to Earth and hunt for Damos. But do not kill, simply capture." Everyone seemed disappointed by that last statement, but they complied nonetheless. Arach then saw Dragoras looking at him scornfully. "What, you said they needed orders." He then joined the crowd in teleporting down to Earth.
In the woods, Christopher looked around, seeing the beams of light approaching the woods. "No!", he cried out turning and running off. "Nowhere to go, nowhere to hide.", he hissed. "And now they're here. I need my powers back." He tried doing his pose and saying "Darkness Overflow!", but it proved fruitless. "Why can't I get them back?"
"I can answer that." Christopher turned to see Malgramon approaching him. "It's because you can't accept any form of peace with the humans, in particular the Rangers. So as of right now, those powers are lost to you forever."
"You mean," Christopher gasped "I'm stuck like this? Forever?"
"Not necessarily.", Malgramon held up and waved a finger. "I do have a way for you to gain new power, greater than what you had before. But you have to be willing to submit and become part of my new world order." He held up a purple blob as he said his. "So, what's it going to be?"
Christopher didn't need much convincing. "I'll do it. Give me the power!"
"So be it.", Malgramon thus placed the purple blob on Christopher. Said blob then grew over Christopher, causing him to cry out in pain as he was subsumed, transforming into a shapeless purple creature, with red lines and conch shell like growths emerging from half his body. "I said you'd receive power. I simply neglected to mention that the source was a parasite that would be pulling your strings, entirely loyal to me."
The Parasite, after standing prone for a minute, began to go berserk, running and smashing through the woods.
From nearby, Tuaris, a green dragonoid Boma with golden armour and a staff, saw the Parasite running through. "Who are you?", he managed to get out before the creature zapped him with energy, before punching him back into a tree and running off.
Elsewhere in the woods, Chloe was sat by a tree when she saw Daniel and Sam walking towards her. "I knew you'd be coming for me.", she stated. "But what I don't know is why?"
"Ricky and the others told us quite a lot.", Sam clarified. "We know that they're Power Rangers, we know that they're fighting some demands called Bomas and we know that you're their Princess."
Chloe merely smiled at this. "I guess I don't have to play coy with you anymore.", she noted. "But I should clarify that I 'was' their Princess. Not only have I lost my powers but they seem to have kicked me out."
"Wait!" Ricky, Drew, Artie, Roland and Raquel then emerged from the trees. "What do you mean 'you lost your powers'?", Drew continued. "They should be back by now."
"I know, they were supposed to return to someone who has made peace with their enemy.", Chloe said to him. "I was there when Malgramon spelled it out. But even though I've long decided that peace with the humans is the best way for my people to survive, I'm still stuck like this. What about you guys? Have your powers returned?"
Artie then proceeded with his morphing sequence. "Does this answer your question?", he asked. "Maybe we can find something out together, if you come with us."
Chloe thought about it. "It's worth a shot.", she decided. "Maybe you can figure out what I'm doing wrong."
But before any of them could leave, the Parasite burst onto the scene. "A Boma!", Roland realised. "I guess Malgramon wanted to tie up loose ends."
"Get Chloe to safety.", Raquel urged Sam and Daniel who nodded and complied. "We can handle this."
"Start Up!" As the other 4 morphed, Savants began leaping onto the scene, with the Rangers fighting them off. Ricky punched one into two more, knocking all three down. Artie and Drew leapt backwards onto the rock, before leaping forward to deliver a punch that knocked a few more over. "Forget these guys, let's go for the ugly one.", Roland suggested as he leapt up.
"I'm with you.", Raquel nodded as she joined him in jumping up to kick the Parasite. But they were deflected on contact. The other three then ran towards them and pulled their blasters out to shoot the creature.
"Go on, do it.", Malgramon urged. "Kill Damos at long last."
"Wait, that's Damos?", Drew questioned.
"Urgh, he's looked better.", Artie commented.
"I-I can't.", Ricky realised. "Even though he's our enemy…"
The Parasite then blasted all 5 of them with red beams, that burn through their suits and exposed the wiring. Bugroth then leapt in. "I didn't think I'd be calling Damos our greatest warrior, but here I am.", he taunted the 5, before firing at them with his slingshot. "Keep at 'em." The Parasite growled, firing steam from its shells and running towards the Rangers, exploding and sending everyone flying.
"Bugroth, enough of this.", Malgramon insisted. "Return to the Flying Fortress with the other warriors. The Savants and my Parasite can handle the search for the Princess."
"Ok then, treat your greatest living loyalist like dirt.", Bugroth snarked.
Malgramon heard this. "On second thought, I'm placing you in charge of the Parasite. I have other matters to attend to." With that, he turned around and was gone.
Elsewhere in the woods, Chloe and the other two had lost their breath running away. "Hey, I've just realised something.", Chloe noted. "Isn't this a school day? What're you two doing out of class?"
"Did no-one tell you?", Daniel asked. "Graduation was today. We are officially out of high school and moving onto the next stage of our lives."
"It's pretty frightening.", Sam added. "But it's worth going on, to make our dreams come true."
"Dreams, huh?", Came the reply from Chloe. "My only dream was to be able to go outside. But since I've been able to do that, I've been hunted down, revered, brainwashed, betrayed, and sent on the run. Let me tell you, if I'd known how this year was going to turn out, I would've stayed in the house gladly."
"So your dream turned out to be pretty bad.", Daniel said after a few seconds of pause. "But hey, it could be worse. You did at least make some friends."
Chloe sighed. "I guess you're right. The main reason I wanted to go outside was to see Ricky, the one friend I ever had, again. And whenever I see him, I see him going on with his life, as if everything was normal. And I wonder 'how does he do it'?"
"I shall tell you." Everyone turned to see Kamekuma approaching them. "He and his friends have their own dreams to fight for. That is what allows them to keep fighting, even when the odds are against them. Tell me, child: what do you have to fight for?"
With that said, the Boma turned and left. "What am I fighting for?", Chloe wondered. "Come to think of it, I've never thought about that."
Back on the edge of the woods, the 5 Rangers came to, frazzled from the blast. "Alright, anyone get the number of that freak who hit us?", Artie commented.
"We all thought Damos was tough.", Ricky nodded. "But whatever mutated him made him even tougher. How're we going to stop him from harming Chloe and the others?"
"Our first order of business should be finding the others.", Raquel suggested. "But if only we knew where to start."
"Actually, I do.", came Drew's reply, as he held up his portable radio. "If I tune into the frequency of these using my communicator, we should be able to find them."
"Then what're we waiting for?", Roland asked. "Do it."
Onboard the Flying Fortress, Malgramon was performing a ritual with the two horns from the Grim Boma and a green ball of energy. "Revive, fallen warriors of my cause who will herald the new age." Energy flowed from the ball into the horns, the two of which begun to take on humanoid shapes. "Ah, excellent." He then consumed the green ball, glowing with energy. "Now, there is one factor left before the great renewal."
Back in the woods, Sam and Daniel were running on, but Chloe was lagging behind. "Come on!", Sam urged. "We need to go before that thing catches up."
"Sorry.", Chloe waved back. "I'm just thinking on what that Boma said. As much as I want to see the Bomas defeated, that's not enough of a reason to fight them. It's the reason the Rangers, the magical creatures who beneficed them and my ancestors have. But it's not mine."
"Is this really the time?", Daniel asked. "That hing will find us any minute now."
Sure enough, the Parasite appeared, with Bugroth and a group of Savants appearing soon afterwards. "So, you didn't get far after all.", Bugroth commented. "But I think I'll save your demise for Malgramon, Princess. Parasite, go after the other two."
The creature growled as it approached Sam and Daniel, who were backed into a tree. "Stop it!", Chloe yelled as she ran forward and pushed the creature down. "I won't let you hurt them." It was then that she remembered something. Her power had initially awakened when she saw her friends in danger. "That's it. I may not be fighting for myself, but I am fighting for everyone else. And that's what's really important. It's what Ricky and his friends are truly fighting for, so it's what I should fight for."
From the side, Kamekuma watched this play out. "Well done.", he commented. "And as a reward, I shall save your friends." He flashed the Parasite with an amulet he was wearing, causing the red goop to come clean from its host and fall down.
"Damos?", Chloe questioned as she saw the man himself fall into the bushes. But she shrugged this off, seeing her fist glow with energy. "Moonlight Envelop!" She then proceeded with her usual posing, transforming back into her armoured appearance. " The Princess Warrior, Hana!" She then brandished her rapier at the enemy army.
"Uh oh.", Bugroth realised as the Parasite leapt onto him. "No, not me!", he managed to cry before he was transformed into another of the creatures. "Destroy Princess.", the creature got out.
"I'm sorry, Bugroth.", Malgramon noted from high above. "Nothing personal, but you're helping prove this experiment was a success." He then teleported out, as two shadowed figures stood behind where he had stood.
Down in the fields, the Rangers showed up in time to see Chloe in the middle of battling the Savants, slashing one down while running, before turning to strike down another. "Man, Chloe's got some moves.", Artie noted.
"That's nothing.", Chloe assured him as she pointed her sword at the Parasite. "Crescent Slash!" She Drew a crescent moon shape, before thrusting her sword through the centre, knocking it and its entourage back.
"Not enough.", the Parasite hissed. "Resilient to damage."
"Don't worry, that thing's moved over to Bugroth.", Chloe assured the Rangers. "You can finish it off with no problem, while I get the others to safety."
"You can count on us.", Drew said as he gave a thumbs up. Chloe nodded and went over to Daniel and Sam while the Rangers prepared to morph. "Start Up! Ready, Go!"
From the side, Christopher watched all this play out. "I'm free.", he realised. But then he saw Princess Hana standing there, now transformed. "How does she have her powers back while I don't."
"It's because she has something you don't.", Malgramon answered as he appeared behind Christopher. "And as for your freedom, we'll let's just say that's not a guarantee." Christopher moved to cry out, but no sound came.
Back with the Rangers, they had begun a fight with the Parasite. The creature fired at them, but they all leapt out of the way with Ricky delivering a slash, followed by Drew and Roland and then Artie and Raquel finished this combo. "Vroom Blasters, fire!" Everyone took out their firearms and shot at the Parasite, buffeting it.
The force of these shots caused it to release its grip on Bugroth. "Here, someone hold this.", he declared as he threw it onto a random Savant, who transformed into a third Parasite. "Now get them."
"Oh no you don't.", Ricky announced as he charged up his sword. "Racing Slash!" He brought his weapon down on the Parasite, which began to spark.
"Master, help me!", the Parasite managed to cry out as it fell down and exploded.
"I'd better help out.", Bugroth realised as he played his pipe. "Winds of Resurrection, Blow!"
In a tornado of red energy, the Parasite was revived as a giant. "Now I'll crush all of you beneath my feet!", it announced.
"Beck, send the Rocket Zord.", Ricky called into his communicator.
"You're lucky I finished repairing it a few minutes ago.", Beck radioed back as he operated the controls.
The Rocket Zord took off from Highway Base, with the Rangers all getting inside. "Megazord Transformation!", Ricky announced. In a few minutes, the Rocket Megazord stood opposite the Parasite creature. "Now let's see you get a kick out of this." The Megazord placed its football in front of itself, kicking it at the Parasite.
But the Parasite deflected it. "You'll need more than that to beat me.", it declared as he hit it back. The Rocket Megazord merely threw the ball into the sky before leaping up. It then knocked it into the creature's mouth. "Help! I can't breathe!", it began to cry out.
The Rocket Megazord then came over and started delivering karate chops and kicks to the enemy. It then hit the Parasite with enough force to knock it down. "I think it's had enough.", Artie suggested.
"On the contrary, we can do way worse.", Raquel countered.
"You're right.", Ricky stated. "Mirage Kick!" The Megazord leapt into the air and began to spin towards the Parasite, before making contact and sending it backwards.
"Wait, I still have so much love to give.", the Parasite blurted out as it exploded. This time, the Rangers' robot could stand triumphant over its enemy.
Soon afterwards, the Rangers reunited with Chloe and her charges. "We'll the good news is that we took care of that thing.", Roland informed them.
"Another monster dusted, Chloe getting her powers back and everyone getting to graduate?", Daniel pointed out. "It's been a pretty good day."
"Indeed." Everyone turned to see a newcomer. It looked and sounded like Christopher, but there was a different tone to his voice. One that sounded… off. "Too bad I'm here to put a damper on it."
"Christopher?", Ricky questioned. "You're still trying?"
"Ah yes, this new look of mine might be throwing you off." 'Christopher' laughed. "Allow me to show you who I really am." A familiar silhouette appeared in front of him.
"Malgramon!", Chloe realised.
Raquel was shocked. "He's taken over Christopher? Can he do that?"
"Of course I can.", Malgramon snapped. "This whole scenario with the Parasite was my way of testing how much of a Boma Christopher had become following his two transformations. The fact the Parasite could hold onto it was proof that he was more Boma than human. And then I could take over his body as the first step towards my master plan."
"Oh really?", Artie asked. "And what's that entail, beyond the destruction of all humanity?"
"My dear Arthur, didn't you follow the curriculum I set?", Malgramon asked. "I always taught that the greatest empires fell primarily because their hubris caused them to believe that they couldn't be toppled by others, and refused to prepare for that. And the previous war with the humans was lost because we were like them. Besides, wiping out all of humanity in this day and age would be too time-consuming."
Everyone was confused by this statement. "Then what is your plan, Malgramon?", Drew decided to ask.
"Why, I'm going to bring humanity and Bomas together as one species, by turning all of the former into more of the latter.", Malgramon begun laughing. "The Neo-Bomas will have the creativity of humanity, with the enhanced powers and lifespans of Bomas. A perfect species to rule the new world."
This shocked everyone. "You want to make humans into Bomas?", Sam gasped, before turning to the others. "Can he do that?"
"Of course he can!" Everyone turned around to see two familiar faces standing above them, on a cliff-face. "After all, we're proof of it in action."
"Reptillia and Hellivore!", Ricky gasped with shock. "But that can't be. We destroyed you."
"Indeed you did.", Malgramon explained. "But part of them survived within myself, which I drew upon to bring them back to the land of the living. And I gave Hellivore a memory wipe so you can't bring him over to your side." He then leapt up to join them, assuming Damos' armour in the process. "And having Christopher's body gives me certain privileges. Like the capability to use his armour because unlike him, his mind addled by merging with a version of Princess Hana that stopped existing, I am willing to entertain peace. I'll be seeing you in the new world." With that said, he and his lieutenants teleported out, leaving everyone just standing there.
Onboard the Flying Fortress, the returning party saw that it was emptier than usual, with only Arach, Bugroth, Dragoras and Tuaris still present. "Where are the others in my army?", Malgramon demanded to know.
"They all deserted when they learned what your plan was.", Dragoras explained. "Those cowards couldn't take the idea of not destroying humanity as an option."
"Ah, who needs 'em?", Bugroth asked. "I would never desert you Master. After all, a human proved himself a capable leader in your absence, so it only stands to reason that you use his body to carry on."
"Plus, my abilities will prove useful for uniting the two species.", Tuaris added. "So I'm sticking around so my name will go down in history as the one who united our two species."
"Yes.", Malgramon smirked. "Now it begins."
Back on Earth, at the Collins house, the Rangers, Chloe and their allies were all celebrating the graduation at Mrs. Collins' private party. Given that the graduates' prom was a few days away, the party was mostly barebones, with only some food and music playing. But not many of the guests were in a celebratory mood. "We need to stop Malgramon in his tracks.", Ricky stated. "While he may think merging our species is a good thing, it can't lead to anything good."
"Indeed.", Chloe nodded. "If we want to defeat him, we need all the Artefacts of Lo'da, plus the Gryphon Bracelet back. So I'll have to be setting off to get both back tomorrow."
"I hope you succeed.", Drew told her. "If you don't, then we'll be as good as doomed." All three then looked up at the stars in the sky, one of which was beginning to blink out.