Title: "Comes the Darkness"
The Final Chapter Written by: Shawn
Summary: The End of Days has come! Tommy and Kim invade Valhalla to put a stop to the Darkness once and for all. Overwhelmed and outnumbered, Jason, Aisha, Rocky, Adam, Kat, and Billy fight for their lives against a extermination raid on the Command Center.
Rated: M for graphic language, violence, character death, references to sexual abuse, and sensuality
Category: Drama Timeline and Spoilers: Assumes general knowledge of both Power Rangers movies up until the end of the Space Rangers series. You won't need to know all the details. AU after the Space Rangers series. All is explained in the Authors Notes below.
Disclaimer: I won't make a dime from this series.
Notes: These are details you need to know before reading this novel.
1. After the War of 2003 against Overlord Delex, due to a part mystical/part radioactive explosion, teleportation is no longer possible on Earth. The Rangers can no longer teleport in any way, shape, or form. Neither can any of their enemies. Teleportation on Earth is no longer possible.
2. All the Ranger powers are gone now. All of them. The current rangers have the Command Center and their technology, but there are no Power Coins, Zords, Morphing Grid or Morphers. The Rangers all take injections created by Billy and his team of scientists that taps genetically into their already altered bloodstream. They are all three times stronger, faster, and more agile than a normal human at the peak of his or her physical conditioning.
4. It's a new day and age in the world. The technology and magic of all the enemies that have ever attacked Earth has found it's way into the hands of various governments, regimes, scientists, organized crime syndicates, terrorist groups, and other organizations that have every intention to use those things for their own benefits. It's a dangerous world indeed.
5. Three years ago, due to the new dangers facing the planet, especially considering weapons not of this world were falling into the wrong hands, the United States Government now works the former rangers. Together, they have built an underground network of agents to seek out and eliminate these new threats to the safety of Earth. All twelve of Zordon's first Rangers were contacted and asked if they would like to become undercover Federal Agents. Some answered the call, some did not. For those that did, they are the last line of defense against the new threats to the free world.
6. There are no other Rangers on Earth at this time.
7. Trini passed away in a tragic car accident three years ago.
8. Nothing in Power Rangers Dino Thunder took place in this universe.
9: All else is explained in the story.
10: All chapters following this Chapter 4 will be much shorter and not take nearly as long for me to finish, lol. Thank you for your patience and support. Please read and review.
Authors Notes 1: I apologize for the many months since this story was last updated, but I hope this finale makes up for. I have poured everything I could into make this a chapter you will never forget.
Beta Read: One of my favorite authors, White-Knight-1988
"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years"
"Reverence for Life affords me my fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, assisting, and enhancing life and that to destroy, harm, or to hinder life is evil. Affirmation of the world -- that is affirmation of the will to live, which appears in phenomenal forms all around me -- is only possible for me in that I give myself out for other life"
"Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die"
Headquarters of The Darkness Griffin Monument Cemetery
Scorpina's underground lair
19 East End Road
Saturday, April 10, 2005 10:00 PM
Silver Cliff, Colorado
Kimberly Ann Hart had never felt so ghastly sick to her stomach as she did now, dry heaving powerfully over Scorpina's command console after watching Christopher Lockheed's broadcast from Trini's cemetery. Her mind was on fire with rage and the purest hate she had ever felt before. Her sister's grave was desecrated for the entire world to see by a madman intent on genocide. She could not imagine a more vile form of disrespect. But as soon as her stomach-turning came, it fled.
All that was left behind was the need to kill; to tear Christopher Lockheed limb from limb, and put a bullet where his heart should be.
Visibly shaken, Tommy stood close by her side with his hand still over his mouth, overwhelmed by what he just saw. He drew Kim into a comforting hug as she buried her face against his chest. "Dear God, what if Trini's parents were watching?"
"I don't even want to think..." Unable to finish her reply, Kimberly slowly shook her head. Her eyes lifted. "We've been outed."
Tommy nodded, shocked by the fact that that was probably the least of their problems. "Can't worry about that now. We have to reach the Command Center A.S.A.P." Switching on his wrist communicator, he found nothing but static on all five of the Ranger's secret coded frequencies. Dread filled his belly. "Something's wrong. Whatever is jamming our communications isn't originating from here."
Lifting her arm, Kim quickly checked her wrist communicator, concluding he was right. The 'sent' signal strength was strong, but on the receiving end she found nothing. The Command Center's communications array was the single best on Earth. If it was being blocked, whatever was doing it needed to be near... "We gotta move. Now!"
At that very moment, a second elevator arrived at the end of the corridor they arrived from. A split-second later, Tommy and Kim dove in opposite directions when a hail of gunfire erupted around them as a squad of heavily-armed Darkness soldiers advanced. Showers of hot sparks and glass exploded when the bullets tore Scorpina's command console apart, igniting two small fires as smoke began clouding the area.
Ducking sharply behind a sliding door, Tommy fired his Xion pulse assault rifle at the legs of two charging soldiers, wickedly splintering the limbs from their bodies in a bloody fashion. Kim nailed a head shot on another soldier attempting to flank them, sending what was left of his brain splattering against the wall. The former White Ranger reached inside his vest for two gold squares with glass balls on each side. Quickly tossing them down the corridor, he watched as they glowed and then shot twin beams of light into the air that formed into perfect holograms of himself and Kim. The soldiers saw their prey advancing on them with weapons trained and began firing at them.
The diversion worked. Kim used the opportunity to raise her twin Xion hand guns and nail four more soldiers, her bullets piercing their body-armor before diving out of the way of a falling piece of plaster from the ceiling as a grenade caved part of it in. She crawled away while Tommy laid down suppressing fire for her to get to safety.
Amidst the gunfight, bullets riddled the walls and ceiling, shattering gauges and dials. Neither side was able to advance on the other, nor were they able to retreat. Tommy and Kim had nowhere to go, even if they wanted to get away from their vantage point at the far end of the corridor, while the soldiers knew, if they tried to reenter the elevator, their enemies could fire at the lifting cord, causing it to crash. They were fast reaching a stalemate.
Then suddenly, the gunfire stopped.
Triggers were pulled, yet nothing happened. Everyone stared at their weapons.
At once, emergency revolving red lights flashed all around them, up and down the corridor. A computerized voice sounded over the loudspeakers. "SECURITY PERIMETERS RE-ENGAGED. EMERGENCY SECURITY PROTOCOL Q-11125 HAS BEEN ENACTED. ALL FIREARMS ARE NOW DISABLED IN THIS FACILITY. ALL ARE ORDERED TO STAND DOWN. THERE WILL BE NO FURTHER WARNING."
Down the corridor, a Korean-made assault rifle lowered. "I suggest you two surrender now," echoed from the elevators. A tall, broad-shouldered soldier wearing dark green military fatigues, a beret, and a ghastly scar criss-crossing his face slowly approached. His soldiers soon fell in line, assuming positions behind their leader. "There are seven of us and two of you. Guns are inoperable. You don't stand a chance."
Tommy and Kim carefully assessed the situation. One, the soldiers didn't carry with them the faint tint in their skin that they recognized in the Synthoids. That meant all of these guys were human. Two, this wouldn't be an easy fight as intelligence reports showed most of the Darkness soldiers were ex-armed forces of some kind. They knew how to fight hand-to-hand, in close quarters, and had numbers on their side.
Tossing his weapon to the floor, Tommy came around so that the soldiers could see him. "We're here to stop the Darkness from destroying the world. You might want to reconsider your allegiances. You're still here while Christopher Lockheed and everyone else is gone. You've been left behind to die with the rest of us."
The soldier's leader spat to his side, sizing up the man before him. "We've been promised our transport leaves in one hour, so we'll have safe passage from this place. As for the rest of world," he sneered, "let it burn."
"You're a real piece of work," Kim noted as she stepped into the fray. "Newsflash, billions of innocent people are going to die; people of every race, belief, and from every country. All of your families. Children. Everyone. If you hate America or the government, fine. I hate paying taxes, too. But don't co-sign the deaths of the entire world. That's too much blood to ever wash off your hands. You'll be damning your own soul."
"Hmmm, interesting. A bleeding heart liberal with a gun," the leader smiled while allowing his gaze to draw over the woman. "This world is dead no matter what, so I'm siding with the side that'll still be breathing in twenty-four hours. As for you little lady... maybe we can work out something special."
The lustful glare in his eyes said it all. His perverted insinuation was unmistakable. Kim had heard it all before. Using a small hand signal behind her, Tommy moved away. "If you want it, come and get it."
The lead soldier watched her partner step aside, his eyes trained on them like a hawk. For all the danger in knowing she'd already killed a couple of his men, the soldiers leader only saw a petite, but gorgeous woman in form-fitting body armor; one he was sure had spirit enough to drive a man crazy. When he moved in, his full six-foot-eight height towered over her. He knew he had at least two hundreds pounds of solid muscle she couldn't do a thing with.
What he didn't know, was that her mystically altered DNA carried with it a gene that could be exploited with a daily syringe dose of a specially made drug; a drug that gave her three times the strength, speed, and endurance of a normal person in peek physical health.
Leaning down to her, the leader whispered, "If you play nice I won't rape you to death. But don't think for a second that I won't hesitate to tear your throat out."
"Go for it."
When his hand lifted to caress her cheek, his wrist was gripped so fast and harder than he had ever felt before. Then a gut-wrenching sound of bone and cartilage being torn from its' socket could be heard, along with his howling scream. Kimberly wrenched his entire arm out of place at such a horrible angle, he bent forward and threw up all over himself.
"Rape that," Kim whispered at his violently shaking form on the floor.
The six soldiers all attacked at once. Somersaulting over two of their heads, Kim drove her foot into the gut of one, then elbowed another in quick succession from his stomach to his chest. The one bent over from her kick had his neck broken quickly, before Kim took a solid right from the other. They traded a quick series of arm and wrist locks before he nailed her with a nasty head butt. Recoiling slightly, she rattled his jaw with a hard right, and then back-flip-kicked him off his feet before stomping his throat, killing him.
Flicking his wrist, two small knives slid into Tommy's hands. The first soldier charged, tackling him against a wall. Tommy drove both knives into his back, and then kneed him out of the way. Quickly ducking a fierce roundhouse kick, he was knocked off his feet by another charging soldier. One of his knives flew from his hand, while the other was used to slash at the ankles of the soldier nearest to him.
Tommy rolled away, then lunged from the floor with a wild kick that twirled one soldier's body in mid-air, and then two-in-one'd the maneuver into a blazing leg sweep that sent the other soldier to the floor in a heap. Kim managed to grab his lost knife and drove it into the neck of one soldier on the ground, then caught another's fist before it connected with her jaw. While holding him at an angle so he couldn't move, she drove her knee square into his chest repeatedly, then threw him aside.
It was now a two-on-two fight.
"Look!" Kim shouted, her palm lifted. "We can fight this out or we can get the hell out of here before something bad happens."
The red revolving lights suddenly switched off. It was as if the base was shutting down. And then the floor vents began to buzz with a humming sound that quickly grew louder. A mild odor settled in around them until the two soldiers began convulsing while holding their throats. They crumbled to the floor seconds later.
Tommy ran to Kim when her hand went to her neck. A sudden dryness grew painful inside him as his breathing became labored. "Kim, we gotta..." Following her line of vision, both soldiers on the ground seemed to be choking to death, and their skin began to fade into an ugly gray tone, growing tighter almost as if they were aging.
All at once, Tommy and Kim knew their fate.
The virus had been released. Christopher Lockheed was sacrificing those who fought beside him for years, those who believed in him and his vision for the future. They would pay the ultimate price for his future with their very lives.
"Our augmented DNA. might be fighting this virus off harder, but we...we..." Kim struggled to speak as she and Tommy tried to make their way towards the elevators. Unable to stand a moment longer they fell to the floor, now attempting to crawl to safety. All hope seemed lost until...
Kim barely heard the footsteps fast approaching, but didn't have the strength to open her eyes to see who was coming. She felt a pin-prick in her neck and then a sudden, violent rush of coldness flooded her body as she shook from head to toe. Beside her, Tommy was reacting the same way. The pain radiating out of her was the worst sensation she had ever felt before.
"Jessica?" Tommy questioned, looking up at the young woman standing over him with two empty syringes. He managed to roll over next to Kim, half-shielding her. "What happened? How did you get here?"
"There's no time for that." Jess helped them to their feet and down the corridor towards the elevators. "I know you two want to stop my father and I'm going to help you. I followed you when you left the house, that's why you're alive. I just gave you both the cure to the virus and I can get you on Valhalla. But it might already be too late save the world."
"Why?" Kimberly asked, half-hanging onto Tommy and Jessica.
"Because my father's attacking the Ranger's base as we speak. He feels they are the only ones who can stop him. He's teleported an army inside the base."
Assessing their terrible predicament, Tommy only saw one course of action. The other Rangers would have to do what they do best. Survive. "Get us to Valhalla now!"
The Command Center
Deck 4 - The Armory
Saturday, April 10, 2005 10:35 PM
Angel Grove, California
This is what it meant to be Jason Lee Scott.
Rushing inside the fifth armory station, he knew what he was going for in the Ranger's weapons cache. Memory guided his reach with determination etched upon his face. Chaos was erupting and he had to put an end to it. Everything else had to be blocked out.
His hands loaded guns he would use to kill. It couldn't be avoided. The cold, hard metal felt at ease in his grasp; too at ease. The dark blue body-armor he strapped on as casually as if he were slipping a shirt over his head, underscored how domesticated he was to war. His utility belt and backpack were filled with his tools of death. Blood would soon stain his hands. Violence suffocated the air.
It took him approximately one-hundred-and-eighty-seconds to get ready. Three minutes. He'd timed himself before. He had no time to waste.
Priorities governed his life. His rage demanded Trini's dishonor be avenged. But those under his command needed him to lead. His love of Trini aside, the needs of the living outweighed the deceased at that moment, so he was arming himself for the battle to come. Rushing off into battle unprepared would kill more lives in the long-term than sacrificing a few in the short. It was a bitter pill to swallow for the proud, co-leader of the Rangers, but being in command dictates that he made tough decisions.
The Command Center was under attack!
Several teleportation signatures had been accounted for in the last ten minutes. Nearly one thousand heavily-armed and deadly Darkness soldiers were slaughtering every single person they came into contact with. The total non-Ranger population, including support staff and Marines, ranged from three-hundred to five-hundred depending on the time of day. They were all potential targets now. The Command Center couldn't be defended from within, not while being outnumbered two-to-one, and caught off-guard.
Priorities once more dictated his actions.
Sliding the black Xion-X assault rifle's strap over his shoulder, Jason tapped his wrist communicator. "Billy, status report?"
Seated behind a massive, thirty-screen, HD monitor simultaneously airing footage from all over the Command Center, Billy cataloged current events thus far. "Long and short-range communications are being jammed from an unknown location. We can't ask for help or contact anyone. Currently, the War Room is locked down and secure. We have thirty armed Marines with us, but we can't stay here for long. We'd be overwhelmed and trapped, so we're moving in five minutes. The Darkness have multiple squads on all floors that I am actively monitoring but, so far, they haven't massed at a central location. I've managed to disable seven of the ten shuttle-elevators, and I've locked down eight key exits that might compromise our evacuation efforts. Janine is coordinating the evacuation process, while Katherine and her team are purging our computer records."
"I can hear more bad news in your voice, Billy."
"You know me all too well," was his reply. "I've discovered some sort of advanced hacking virus in our mainframe system, something I've never seen before. Our defensive security protocols are inoperable and, taking into account the unpredictability of this virus, I have no idea how long we'll have control of the few things that we do."
Billy never minced words. Jason thanked God he never buckled under pressure either. "I need Shuttle-Elevator Eight ready."
"Done. What else?"
Jason quickly fit a communications ear-piece in place. "What about the starship shuttle bay?"
"Operating, but chaotic due to the fighting. Our boys are holding their own, but they're outnumbered. The pilots are trapped on Deck 2."
Tossing five extra clips in his backpack, Jason zipped it up. "Get Sha, Rocky, and Adam to those pilots along with half the Marines on the station. Retrieve those pilots and then secure that shuttle bay at all cost. Prep Mach-2, 3, and 4 for emergency lift-off. We have to get our people out of here."
"What about the reactor core and the Vault?" Jason could almost hear Billy swallow hard. He knew the feeling well.
"Both are secured by Marine squads... for the moment."
"Billy, have those protecting the Vault moved to secure the reactor core. I need you, Kat, and Janine down there to power it down, and then get the hell out of here. I'm heading to the Vault myself."
Billy could see where this conversation was headed. "Omega Phase?"
"You got it. The Vault can never, ever fall into enemy hands. We can't stay here any longer. The Command Center's been compromised. Get everyone off this base and, in fifteen minutes, start the self-destruct sequence. Wherever we win this war, and we will win it, it won't happen here. They've taken round one but Rangers are built to go the distance."
Running a weary hand through his hair, Billy settled himself. "When can I expect to here from you?"
"Don't worry about that. We have lives to save," Jason said before adding, "And hey, no one lives forever."
"Your dark sense of humor isn't appreciated at this time."
Tech guys never understood soldiers, Jason reminded himself. "Take care, Billy."
"May the power protect you."
With his orders relayed, Jason set his mind to war, his assault rifle at the ready. He fled the armory station, racing down a brightly lit, winding hallway to Shuttle-Elevator Eight. Suddenly, from around a corner, three frantic maintenance workers ran for their lives, screaming for help before being cut down in a violent hail of gunfire from soldiers clad in black and gray camouflage. Bullets tore through them, bloodying the walls and floor with red.
It took two seconds to set his sights on his targets. Jason dove sideways, hard against the wall while returning fire, nailing three soldiers chest high, shredding their bodies with fatal gunshot wounds. The unmistakable clatter of boots running meant more soldiers were on the way. Jason quickly removed a silver disk and then pressed a small button on top that caused razor sharp blades to slide out from all around. "Six seconds." A voice prompt acknowledged his request. He rose to his feet and threw it as hard as he could down the hall, embedding it in a wall.
When a group of soldiers passed by, the silver disk detonated in a bone-crunching explosion that sent crimson-soaked limbs in all directions. They were dead, but the blast would attract more. The sounds of more heavy boots meant the advancing soldiers weren't deterred. Jason deftly weaved between corridors, shoving aside office furniture and dodging bullets while exchanging gunfire when he could as he ran for his life.
Rushing outside one door, Jason ran into a soldier who was raising his gun. The Ranger's leader smashed the butt of his assault rifle into the soldiers mid-section, doubling him over. Then it was shoved hard at his mouth, splintering the teeth in the back of his throat. Jason fired a single round into his chest, then ran and rammed his shoulder through a locked door into the two-way supply room. He caught three more soldiers off guard, blood spraying from the barrage of his assault rifle, instantly ending their lives.
His senses on high alert, Jason was on the move again, listening for his pursuers. His best guess was that nearly a dozen solders were after him, but he had the home-field advantage of knowing his surroundings; an advantage that wouldn't last for much longer.
While running at top speed with bullets sailing past his head, Jason branched off inside a massive vehicle repair bay. He quickly disabled the wall-mounted light controls, then reached inside his backpack for a flashlight-sized, cylindrical, grappling-hook gun. Billy had designed the extremely strong, ultra-thin wire built inside its' powerful projectile launcher. It featured a magnetized, spiked-drill tip that could embed itself in almost anything.
Rushing to the center of the pitch black room, passed several military Humvee's and an M1A2 Abrams, Jason aimed the grappling hook gun at the high ceiling, shot it once, felt for the solid attachment, and then pressed the side button that rocketed his body upwards in the air towards the ceiling.
Below him, death spread out in waves.
Darkness Synthoid soldiers carefully took flanking positions in the large garage, fanning out in opposite directions to search for him. They were unable to get the lights on, so they moved silently. Wearing night vision goggles, Jason was shocked to recognize the exact same face and body type for all ten of the soldiers. No doubt those were the clone soldiers Tommy and Kim had warned them about. They seemed efficient, deadly, and unafraid.
"Designation 1-0-0-2," called out the lead Synthoid now standing in the center of the room. "How goes our progress?"
Aiming his weapon at the trunk bed of a military jeep, a Synthoid replied, "Designation 0-0-0-9, our forces have engaged the enemy on all decks. We have suffered minimal casualties thus far. Status reports claim we have killed nearly ninety humans at present. Their forces seem to be massing in their starship hold and near the nuclear reactor core. In addition, a small squad fled their posts on an upper floor. We have no intelligence concerning if there is anything of value housed there. I suspect they recognize this fight is a lost cause."
"Humans and their petty fears. Thankfully, the scourge of their existence will end soon." Before Designation 0-0-0-9 could move a muscle, Jason jumped from the ceiling, powerfully wrapping his left arm around the soldier's neck while his right hand held a gun to his temple.
Jason quickly scanned the room, searching for the locations of the other soldiers. If he was surrounded he'd be in deeper trouble than he already was. "If you want your leader to live you will all drop your weapons and fall in line against the far wall in the back, NOW! I won't repeat myself!" Tracking the motions around him, he knew the positions of six of the Darkness soldiers. The others were unaccounted for. Thankfully, the darkness of the room would give him cover if he needed it. "Time's running out!"
At once, the soldier Jason held hostage as well as all of those around him loudly chanted, "TO SERVE THE DARKNESS IS LIFE! BUT GLORY TO THE ONE WHO SACRFIES HIS LIFE FOR THE NEW WORLD ORDER!"
Jason barely had time to react. Three soldiers emerged from behind a tank and aimed their weapons at their leader's chest. They opened fire a split second after Jason lunged out of the way as blood splattered his clothing from the bullets tearing through his former hostage. Obviously, the Synthoids were programmed to complete their mission at any cost.
Unfortunately for them, their namesake would be his ally in this fight.
One soldier, his trained weapon at the ready, red beam scope streaking ahead, whispered into his mouthpiece, "Designation 0-5-4-6. I cannot find the targ..." His throat was slashed from ear to ear by a silent assailant, the front of his vest drenched in blood. Jason crawled away between tanks, then dove over two more red beams. Quietly climbing atop a Humvee, he threw two razor-sharp knives with deadly accuracy. Both soldiers fired wildly with blood spurting from their wounds. Suddenly, gunfire erupted from every corner of the garage causing fires to spark while splinting metal and glass everywhere.
Jason paced himself, lost in the fight... lost in the hunt.
A noise behind one soldier caused him to turn sharply, firing in the direction of the sound. He killed one of his own men and then barely had time to register the pop of his own neck, now angled horribly from behind. Jason quickly used his own weapon to kill two more soldiers.
And then there was one.
Calmly, Jason walked out in the direct path of the soldier's red beam, his face covered in the blood of his enemies. "You're the only one left. Give me answers and you can go free. Otherwise you die here like the rest."
"DIE, HUMAN!" The soldier opened fire, ripping glass shards and ragged chunks of metal off of the jeeps as he chased his prey in the dark, across the sprawling garage. Brutal gunfire echoed this game of cat-and-mouse as both used the vehicles to their advantage, leaping and rolling out of the way, firing at one another until Jason caught the soldier from behind. At close range, they exchanged vicious blows and martial arts counters before the Ranger nailed a vicious roundhouse kick that sent the soldier flying into the side of a Humvee.
Jason rushed in and wrapped a thin metal wire around the solders neck, squeezing it harder by the second. "This is your last chance, pal. I want answers. What is the goal of this attack?"
"You're going to kill me anyway!"
"Yeah, but the difference is slow and sweet versus quick and painless. Your choice." The soldier spit blood in Jason's face.
"Now what, human?!"
"How about..." Aiming the grappling hook gun once more at the ceiling, Jason fired. The wire drug the soldier's body, neck first, to the ceiling, trapping him there. His hands frantically clutched at his throat, his legs kicking wildly, gasping for the last of his air until he shook a moment more... and then expired. "You just hang around."
Focused only on the goal at hand, Jason made haste in reaching Shuttle-Elevator Eight. On the way he witnessed a violent, valiant battle between ten brave Marines and nearly forty Darkness Synthoid soldiers. His heart wanted to aid those men, but his head accepted what his responsibly was when he signed up for this job, same as them. There was never...
... Ever, any guarantee you would live forever.
Running the rest of the way down the long hallway, Jason reached the glass-shell sliding door and entered. It slid shut behind him. Against the back wall was a silver square panel the size of a book. He pressed his right hand over it and felt a warmth run from his wrist to the tip of his fingers. The panel flashed before turning green and then the elevator began rising at a rapid pace. Floor after floor... he saw fighting and death, people running for their lives, and his Ranger's locked in the middle of it all.
Exhausted, Jason leaned back against the wall with his eyes shut, attempting to catch his breath. Clutching his assault rifle tightly, he reloaded the clip. War was here, but he had a job to do. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else could matter.
The shuttle-elevator reached its final destination as the glass door slid open, revealing a massive open area. At the end of the great hall was a gigantic, silver, vault door nearly twenty-feet high.
Once upon a time, a wizard named Zordon, while being hunted for his outlawed ability to help people, accidentally discovered amazing power coins on his home world of Eltar. That was nearly ten thousand years ago, as the story goes. The legacy of the Rangers began that day when a sorcerer became a warrior who could no longer stand by and watch injustice. As evil threatened to dominate his home world, Zordon convinced four courageous citizens to take up arms with him and fight this evil, no matter the cost. Thus began the legend of the Power Rangers of Eltar. Five ordinary beings from their world, fighting back against oppression and injustice.
For thirty-seven years, Zordon fought in the Great War of Eltar. He fought with all that he had, sacrificing both his personal and professional former life as the need to champion the helpless consumed him. He saw his Rangers die, and then replaced, while holding their memories dear. He was selfless and tireless. He was relentless and courageous.
But evil was patient. Evil could adapt. And evil was vastly selfish. Those traits caused new enemies from different worlds, alternate dimensions, and various timelines to emerge, bent on conquest. Even when Eltar was freed from the bonds of slavery, the galaxy was in turmoil. Those who sought control and power spread death and destruction throughout the galaxy, and the small group of champions could no longer remain stationary. Eltar was abandoned as evil waged war across the galaxy.
The ultimate sacrifice came when Zordon lost his flesh and blood body during a mystical explosion. But that horrific accident gave him magical access to the Morphing Grid; a nearly endless supply of power that he used to combat evil. Now, he could harness this incredible power and continue to recruit Rangers to fight the good fight.
For untold years, the Rangers had lived, defended, and fought across the vast expanse of the entire galaxy. Countless journals of their adventures were kept. Ancient, evil weapons, scriptures, and artifacts were taken and stored, hidden from those that would use them to kill and conquer for all time. Extremely advanced alien technology, Zord schematics, maps of lost worlds, time travel devices, vile poisons, mystical spell books, and wands were safeguarded by the Rangers so that they could never be used for evil purposes.
One thousand years ago, Samus Rain, the Red Ranger of Glarios-9, designed the very first Vault on an asteroid in the far reaches of the Zion star system; a secret, hidden place safeguarded by the Rangers for all time. And with each new team, the prior Vault was entrusted to them, as was the need to create their own Vault to house those guarded items.
Three years ago, when the United Nations convinced a number of the former original twelve Earth Rangers to return to duty, they commissioned U.S military architects to build a new, modern Command Center. The Rangers worked with that staff for over two years on designs, but only under one condition.
The eighth floor of the Command Center... they wanted four months to design and build it themselves. In secret. No non-Ranger was to have access to the floor, nor would anyone be made aware of its security systems or the purpose of whatever was there.
Members of the Pentagon didn't like the idea of an entire floor, part of an extremely important military base that they were financing, being inaccessible to them in any way. Finally, they agreed as they had no other choice. Billy co-designed the new Command Center, and he was willing to share with the government more technology than they had ever had before.
It was considered a fair trade, or the best one that could be negotiated for both sides.
Gazing at the expanse around him, Jason stood at the end of the hall, his bloody hand softly grazing his face while he stared at The Vault. It could not ever fall into the wrong hands. The results would be disastrous universally.
The entire floor, wide enough that a 747 jet could be housed there, smelled sterile and was brightly lit. The level featured smooth, jet black walls, white flooring, and ceiling lights that could almost blind someone. Wall-mounted turret guns trained red beams on him from all sides as they scanned his body and then powered down. Floor vents hummed before ebbing, as toxic gas would have disabled an intruder. He walked with purpose down the long corridor towards the Vault.
Encompassing its' own entire floor of the Command Center, the main vault was housed in Vexar concrete and Elatrian steel. The oval vault door weighed fifty tons and was made of an alloy the Rangers didn't have a name for. They knew it could survive ten minutes on the Sun itself and withstand any sort of nuclear attack.
The Vault itself, housed inside a Mezrian Stardeath vessel, was the single most important structure in all the galaxy.
For securities sake, each Ranger had a small, metal rod implanted in their middle fingers that was attuned to their specific DNA. That was the key, of sorts, to the Vault. Jason approached the huge door and pressed the tip of his middle finger into a small indent on the door's handle. The area glowed briefly, and then a computerized woman's voice spoke.
"Jason Lee Scott, welcome to The Vault. How may I assist you?"
"The Command Center is under attack. Our base has been compromised to a degree that the Vault can no longer be housed here. I'm invoking the Omega Phase." Whirling, accessing sounds could be heard while Jason waited.
"Command Code Access Required. Proceed."
"223347-7788995-9988337-Omega Phase Delta."
"Andros, leader of the Space Rangers. Rendezvous with the Astro Mega Ship. Current location, unknown. Engage the beacon and he'll find you."
"Accessing... Departing when?"
"Immediately." Jason stumbled when he felt the entire floor shake beneath his feet. The growing hum of the Vault's powerful engines shook the very walls as he began to back away. Billows of smoke began bursting from the ceiling as airlocks were disengaged. Thick sheets of black metal slid into place over the vault doors, and then the entire section of the hall began to detach from the floor, shifting in size and shape.
"Command Codes Confirmed. Distress call being sent to Astro Mega Ship. Beacon engaged. Cloaking device engaged. Warp drive engines online and ignited. Goodbye."
Gusting winds blew so hard, Jason was flung off his feet as the floor, walls, and ceiling folded in on itself, revealing a gigantic, metallic, purple starship. Its wings extended and then slowly the outer shell faded away into a mirror-like effect. The starship rose into the sky while he watched, turned on an angle, and then blasted off out of sight and into space.
Jason exhaled. Thankful that one problem was over with, he spun around when suddenly, the entire shuttle-elevator shaft exploded in a hail of fire and debris that rained down upon him. Darkness Synthoid soldiers rose from the shaft in jet packs, their weapons raised, firing on him.
The war was on!
The Command Center
Deck 2 - Cafeteria Area and several research labs
Saturday, April 10, 2005 10:35 PM
Angel Grove, California
This is what it meant to be Aisha Campbell.
Armed and dangerous amidst a Darkness Synthoid extermination raid, she was charged with a mission that provided no prep time. Good thing she kicked ass at thinking fast on her feet. Sha, as her girlfriends coined her years ago, never backed down from a challenge. Rocky and Adam took her orders without question as they trusted her leadership capabilities. They had since ever childhood when she led them out of a Stone Canyon forest at night they'd gotten lost in. None were afraid, but for whatever reason she always had the answers.
They let her lead because she spoke up first.
"Move now!!" she shouted while firing at the suicidal Synthoid soldiers who chased in the direct fire of her weapon, only to have more leap the dead in hot pursuit. Ducking past showers of sparks from an exposed electrical line on the wall of the corridor she ran down, Aisha shoved Command Center Air Force pilots James Powell and Ellis Mendez inside what used to be a janitors storage space when several more Darkness Synthoid appeared at the end of the hall.
She had to think fast.
Her heart racing a mile a minute, during the first second she surmised they had to have hit this deck from the south stairwell as the elevator system was shut down, per her request, and the north end housed rows of genetic research labs.
Seconds two and three were used to react, her body moving as it was trained, charging through a swivel door inside the Command Center cafeteria as bullets sailed past her head, tearing the door apart.
Seconds four and five saw her rise from the floor. Six and seven had her break a window with her gloved fist, and then extend her arm out of it as she fired her X-9 handgun at twin light fixtures above the Synthoids heads. Metal shrapnel and glass rained down upon them, splintering their numbers as they broke formation. It also gave Adam, brandishing "Storm Shadow," a shot at them as smoke enveloped the corridor. His cursed sword, of which he swore he would never reveal to anyone how it came into his possession, cut the soldiers down with brutal precision.
The walls were splattered with fresh blood.
The quietest member of the Ranger team was every bit as deadly as anyone on the planet.
"Adam, clear a path to the elevator!!" Aisha yelled before retrieving the pilots. James and Ellis were armed when she found them minutes ago. After strapping them in body armor she plotted the best course to get to the shuttle bay three floors up. Her plan wasn't one she had allot of time to ponder, but she felt it would create the necessary chaos needed to evacuate the rest of the Command Center's staff and support personnel. "We gotta get gone. Follow me."
"How did they take us like this?" Ellis asked while running, her long, dark hair pulled back in a messy pony tail as her cross dangled from around her neck. She followed James and Aisha down the a winding corridor, then broke right when sounds of gunfire began erupting all around them. "I thought this base was impenetrable?"
"No base is," Sha replied, quietly hitting a corner, her ears tracking the screams of those Adam cut down ahead of them. "This isn't the first Command Center. Hell, its not even the second. We've been attacked before."
James took the rear, his face covered with a sheen of sweat, his guns trained high. "Ever this bad?"
"No," Aisha answered truthfully. Footsteps way behind them were solo, stopping every few feet before moving again. Thank God Rocky knew the Command Center's complete layout by hard and what rooms were attached to others. She prayed he was almost done with his task as they followed a trail of dead Darkness Synthoid soldiers and found Adam at the end of the corridor leaning against a wall, clearly exhausted, his sword dripping blood as if he immersed it.
Shocked by the widespread chaos, Ellis could barely believe what she was seeing. Dead bodies laid all over the floor, up and down the hallways. Some she recognized as friends. Others, simply associates. There wasn't a single living person outside from this group. "How did Mr. Park attack those men with only a sword and they all had guns?"
Aisha gave a mysterious look. "Storm Shadow isn't an ordinary sword. That'll have to do as an explanation for now." Approaching her good friend, he gave a little nod to let her know he was alright. This was her plan so she had no time to check him out any further than that.
Aiming her firearm at the upper right hand corner of the elevator doors, she fired three times in succession, then hammered the lower end. Bullet shells clanged on the hard floors. Standing back a step, she connected a fierce kick at the right door, breaking it off its foundation inward at an angle that allowed her to enter. She dove in quickly, ripped a side panel off the wall and began hot wiring the controls. She nailed it in twenty seconds. "I had Billy shut down the all the elevators so the Darkness couldn't use it to get to us faster. Not that they needed it seeing as how they attacked us. But we need this one running."
Adam ducked his head inside to catch her progress. "Clocks ticking, Sha."
"Boy, hush. Keep a look out for Rocky."
"I'm right here. Alive, hungry, and all out of explosives." Breathing so heavy as he ran, Rocky erased the distance between them. He wasn't alone, with Command Center Air Force pilot Jayson Reed bringing up the rear. "We're all set, boss lady."
Before she could answer his new nickname for her, Aisha's lips were covered firmly by her almost boyfriend in a kiss that was as impulsive as it was needed to ground her. The quick kiss gave her hope things weren't over for them just yet. They still had so much to work out. "Jerk."
Her surprised smile told Rocky everything. "You love me. Admit it?"
"When this is over... I just might." Grabbing the detonator from his hand, Aisha stepped aside for Adam, who ignited Storm Shadow. The silver blade began to glow white hot just before he slammed it into the floor of the elevator and cut a huge hole in the center. The dead weight fell into darkness. He stepped out so Sha could finish her plan. "I wish we could ride the elevator up, but we need open areas everywhere we go or we'll be ambushed." She pressed Deck-5 on the control panel and then stepped back, watching as the elevator rose up the wide chute via its thick metal cable.
Slipping Storm Shadow back in his shoulder-sheath, Adam aimed two the grappling hook guns up the chute, seeking the hole he made through the elevator car. He hit his mark in its ceiling, pulled for a solid attachment, then began showing the pilots how to hold on correctly and be lifted.
"Go! We gotta blow this joint." Aisha quickly reloaded her gun while Rocky and Adam took the first runs up the chute to secure the floor before sending the pilots. Had they all rode the elevator at once and the doors opened to Darkness Synthoids all would be lost. So far so good. James, Ellis, and Jayson went up in the next twenty seconds while she was left alone.
When Aisha got the call from Billy what Jason needed done, she began planning how to retrieve the pilots and get to Deck-5, the shuttle bay. She instructed Rocky to lace Karxan explosives up and down the corridors of Deck-2 and at key structural points. The distraction and destruction due to the Rangers knowledge of how the Command Center was built was their only hope. If Jason dealt with the Vault, then it was up to Kat and Billy to deal with the Command Center's nuclear reactor core.
Her job was getting the survivors off this base.
Peering up the shaft, Aisha saw Ellis give her the thumbs up. At that moment deafening bursts of gunfire rained down the hall as bullets ricocheted off the walls, cracking plaster and shattering windows and doors. She grabbed onto one of the grappling guns handle with one hand, now hanging mid-air in the elevator chute. With her other hand she pressed the hand-held detonator. "As my girl Kim would say, but with a little Sha flair... catch you fuckers on the flip side!"
Her finger pressed the detonation button. A thunderous roar boomed from below as the grappling gun rocketed Aisha's body up elevator shaft three floors to Deck-5. Quickly, she crawled through the elevator floor's hole and then dove outside as the entire floor trembled and buckled from the explosion. Billowing clouds of dark smoke and fire urgently rose from the elevator chute, while burning debris erupted from below as the car itself fractured and crashed down the shaft.
"Come on, Sha," Rocky helped her to her feet and handed her a gun. "We better exit stage right before this place falls in on itself."
"You know I love you, right?" The words shot out of her mouth before she could think, and that was probably for the best. Rocky blinked twice really, really fast. Aisha felt it was now or never, bad timing and all. "I really do. I suck at relationships and I haven't treated you the best, but I love you. I should of told you a longtime ago but I got issues and insecurities and all that. But I do truly love you. And when this is over just please don't give up on me, k?"
Pressing another firm kiss to her lips, Rocky declared, "I couldn't give up on my little fudge brownie if I tried." As much as he knew she absolutely hated being called that, she found reason to smile despite their dire circumstances. They had a ton to work out, but he was willing to try. Life and death situations tended to bring the most important things into focus. "Lead the way, boss lady."
Thankful for something to look forward to after the war, Aisha put her game face on. "Everyone lock and load. We're fighting all the way to the ships and then getting the hell out of here. Don't stop for anything. Move!" Taking the point after reloading her weapon, she heard the apocalypse of the massive fight taking place in the shuttle bay up ahead. Dead Marines, Darkness Synthoid soldiers, and Command Center personnel gave voice to the ravages of the fight ahead. Blood and violence surrounded them like a second skin. They covered their mouths as best they could to keep from inhaling the heavy smoke filling the entire floor while covering the distance to the starship shuttle bay.
Adam, Aisha, Rocky, Jayden, Ellis, and James fought their way the last twenty feet, firing wildly while taking cover on for a moment, only to advance as they couldn't stay still for long. After eruptions trembled the ground courtesy of the structural damage the Command Center had taken. The entire fortress felt as if it was shifting beneath their feet. The deafening roar of gunfire rang their ears as they ran through the storm of fire and smoke, launching a volley of bullets while dodging for their lives. A fire-fight the likes of which none of them had ever been in before ravaged the entire floor as the Rangers waged war to save lives. The Darkness Synthoid soldiers fought without mercy or care for their own lives, jumping and running over their own dead to kill the Rangers.
Upon reaching the nearly decimated Command Center starship shuttle bay they found the sheer madness of the attack had reached an epic scale. Three squads of marines were holding off nearly one hundred Darkness Synthoid soldiers behind a turned-over X-Tech helicopter, using it as cover while fighting for their lives.
Suddenly, another massive explosion rumbled through the Command Center as Aisha watched a widening crack in the far wall grow by the second. Chaos lived in the air. "This place is coming down around us. Rocky, Adam, get the pilots to the ship now!"
Rocky reloaded his assault rifle, and then saw Aisha backing away from them. "Where are you going?"
"To give you a diversion, now go!" She looked on as the group nailed multiple Darkness Synthoid soldiers from behind, caught unaware as the new comers riddled their bodies with bullets. Though hopelessly outnumbered, the good guys weren't giving an inch. The surviving Marines fell in line with the newcomers as the surprise attack worked perfectly. She gasped in a state of horror when Adam was shot in the leg, and then half-carried by Rocky to the shuttle ramp, while James Powell was cut down from behind in a hail of bullets.
Just a week ago the six year Air Force pilot happily showed off the pictures of his first child. Hope Powell, his beloved newborn daughter...
Snapping out of it, Sha counted only twenty-seven survivors being loaded onto the Mach-3 shuttle. Three Marines were killed upon opening the emergency shuttle bay doors. "Jesus..." Switching her attention, the Darkness were fortifying their forces behind the Mach-2, no doubt expecting them to go after that ship as well. But with the survivors numbers being so small, one ship was enough, unfortunately. She tapped her communications ear-piece. "Billy, status report?"
"Janine, Katherine, and I are at the reactor core. We don't know where Jason is or his condition, but we know several Command Center personnel are trapped on multiple decks."
"We can't get to them, Billy."
"... I know," he sighed with deep frustration.
"Do what you need to do and then blaze this place. We'll get the Darkness in the rematch."
"You too." Lifting her gun high, Aisha slowly emerged from her hiding place and aimed at the hooded fuel cell of the Mach-2. Just as the Mach-3 began to lift off it came under heavy fire and was rattled with bullets, nearly crashing it. She fired her weapon ten times in quick succession, hitting paydirt when the Mach-2 ignited in a gigantic wall of blustering fire as hot metallic debris and glass blew through the entire shuttle bay.
She didn't hear anything but the beat of her heart as she ran through the fires, dodging massive pieces of the Mach-2 starship falling to the ground around her while killing any soldiers left in front of her. The Mach -3 turned sideways as its hatch opened with Rocky waiting for her. She leaped on board as the ship took off, kissing him quickly, and then hugging him so tight as the ships engines ignited them out the decimated Command Center. Below them, even on fire and dying, the Darkness Synthoid soldiers fired at their starship, willing death even as they fell upon their own.
"Somethings... somethings not right here," Aisha said as Adam joined them in the rear. "Why didn't the Darkness destroy the starships before we got there? Why would they leave us a means of escape?"
"I saw the Vault lifting off into space," Adam offered while keeping a compression on his leg. His face cringing painfully, he continued, "Whatever was the motive of this attack, its not clear cut."
"I just hope, Kat, Billy, Jason, and Janine can get out of there alive," Rocky said while the Command Center grew smaller threw the window. The thick, dark smoke lifting from their former base painted the sky a dark gray. "We got our asses kicked."
Aisha stood by his side. "Don't worry about round one, Rocky. Paybacks a motherfucker. And the Darkness has it coming big time."
The war had officially begun.
The Command Center
Below Ground Level X - Command Center Nuclear Reactor Core
Saturday, April 10, 2005 11:00 PM A
ngel Grove, California
This is what it meant to be William Cranston.
"For the record, the President of the United States will not be pleased that you are purposely causing a thermo-nuclear explosion on American soil."
"If you deem it necessary then please have Mr. Bush bill me personally." With a fine sheen of stress-induced sweat moistening his brow, Billy didn't even look back at Janine while manning the controls that were overheating the Command Center's nuclear reactor core. The empty, bullet-riddled control room was in their possession for as long as the squad of U.S Marines could hold off the Darkness soldiers. Just outside and down the hall, the unmistakable sounds of gunfire and war rang wildly. Nonetheless, he worked with a precision under pressure few could match. "This Command Center has been invaded and many good men and women have given their lives for us to have the opportunity to save the world. When the time is appropriate I shall grieve for them but, at the moment, I need all my faculties to complete the task at hand."
Brandishing her personal hand-gun as the fighting drew closer, Janine added, "Is that a polite way of saying get lost?"
Janine watched a smirk fall over Katherine's face for a brief moment, and then it faded as she worked at her computer controls station, preparing the next step in their daring plan of action. Suddenly a massive shock wave throttled the entire Command Center, erupting in widespread fires on every deck according to the security cameras. Janine held onto a wall-mounted coat rack, while the Rangers somehow remained seated, as poised as ever. "We have to abandon this station A.S.A.P. Pretty soon it's going to come down on itself and I don't want to be here when it does."
As core temperatures rose to critical levels, "Done!" Billy stated, rising from his desk and then quickly moving to Katherine's side, with Janine following close behind. "Kat, are you ready?"
"Yes." Katherine touched her palm to an emergency DNA scan for the most dire of consequences in the Command Center, accessing a small, red-lettered keyboard. She quickly pressed five red keys in rapid succession, and then a computerized voice sounded loudly around them.
"COMMAND CENTER EMERGENCY PROTOCOLS ARE FOR ELITE ACCESS ONLY. THREE SEPERATE ELITE CODES ARE NECCEESARY. PLEASE IDENTIFY."
Kat rose from her chair. "Dr. Katherine Gabrielle Hillard, head of Technology Division at Command Center Angel Grove. Command Code KGH-14467."
"VOICE RECOGNITION AND COMMAND CODE CONFIRMED."
Billy threw a heavy duffel bag over his shoulder, and then began loading a firearm. "Dr. William J. Cranston, head of Advanced Research Division at Command Center Angel Grove. Command Code WJC-60153."
"VOICE RECODNITION AND COMMAND CODE CONFIRMED."
"Ms. Janine Calister, White House liaison and Director of Operations at Command Center Angel Grove. Command Code JC-60130."
"VOICE RECOGNITION AND COMMAND CODES CONFIRMED. PLEASE PROCEED."
Billy took Katherine's computer monitor to oversee that the job was done. "Delete all Command Center files, all archives, and all hard drives. Self-destruct all information alcoves. Purge everything." With Kat and Janine watching intently over his shoulder, the computer monitor registered Billy's command as massive amounts of data were destroyed right before their very eyes.
As if they had chosen to as a group, the trio's eyes fastened on the twenty, HD, ceiling-hung monitors broadcasting the intense battles taking place on each deck of the Command Center. Brave Marines fought overwhelming odds to save as many people as they could and repel the attack, and as courageous as their actions were, the base was lost. Utterly lost.
With tears moistening her lovely blue eyes, Katherine said a silent prayer to herself, and then pressed a button on the wall communications array. Her voice now echoed throughout the Command Center. "The fields are barren. Fly south for the winter."
With the secret message understood, the security cameras showed the groups of weary Marines complying to flee their posts and escape by any means necessary.
Her job done, Kat turned to Billy and Janine. "It's now or never."
Nodding, Billy took a deep breath. "Command Center Emergency Protocols Delta-Omega. Open all access points, security doors, and exits. Full shields are to be implemented around the entire Command Center for a perimeter of 200 feet. Divert all remaining power to those shields and hold them at maximum strength. Shut down everything else. Begin in three minutes."
"VOICE RECOGNITION AND COMMANDS ISSUED. SHALL I BEGIN A DECK-WIDE COUNTDOWN?"
"No, go to silent countdown." Billy was already out the door, swiftly following Janine and Katherine down a long corridor towards a secret escape tunnel that would lead behind the Command Center into a hollowed cave with vehicles. They could hear the heavy footfalls of Marines racing behind them, running for their lives, only to be cut down in a hail of gunfire.
Sounds they would never, ever forget...
Ushering down another narrow corridor, they reached the tunnel's entrance. The Cyrelian-designed circular plaque dedicated to the Rangers founder, Zordon, covered the entire south wall. When Katherine pressed her hand to the center of it the entire wall sank inwards, and then slid sideways, revealing a dark tunnel ahead. "Let's go and keep your heads up. We could be walking into anything."
Armed, they ran as fast as they could, and were shocked to hear even more gunfire from up ahead. The light grew bright at the end of the tunnel amidst the noise of bullets ricocheting off walls and the blood-curdling sound of people screaming. Upon entering the darkened alcove they found a bloodied, weary Jason driving a military Hummer directly into several Darkness Soldiers while firing his handgun out the open drivers-side window.
"GET IN!" Jason shouted loudly, backing towards them as fast as he could. They all dove in. "The Vault is away, but we gotta leave now!"
"The reactor core is going to detonate in sixty seconds!" Billy noted.
"You don't have to tell me twice. Hit it!" Janine declared while providing cover fire out the back window, hitting a trio of Darkness soldiers.
Jason nailed the gas hard, blazing them towards the cave's exit, and then outside into the darkness of night. Escape was further complicated as gigantic sections of the Command Center began raining down around them, causing him to swivel and swerve wildly towards a short dirt road ahead.
Exactly one minute later their ears suddenly went deaf. A blindingly brilliant light burst behind them, causing a devastating earthquake that rumbled so violently the Hummer flipped over itself, and then barrel rolled sideways onto a dusty gravel path. When it finally came to a stop, wildly gusting winds of blinding smoke, dust, and debris powerfully shook the vehicle.
"Everybody okay?" Jason gasped, quickly unbuckling his seat belt to help someone. He saw that Kat had a fresh, bleeding gash over her eye, but otherwise appeared to only be shaken up. Billy gave a thumbs-up, while Janine held her head, but acknowledged she was alright. "From here we're going to have to foot it to the next transport. I'm going to radio us in a chopper."
Janine tried massaging away the terrible ache from the back of her head while casting her gaze behind her, noting their plan had worked. The nuclear reactor core completely destroyed the Command Center, while the shields held back the nuclear fallout, and would absorb nearly all of the radiation. Built twenty-feet around the Command Center, complete with its own power supply, they held up as planned. Billy bet the farm on this working, but he wasn't considered the world's smartest man for nothing. "There goes eight billion tax-paying dollars."
"Better that than eight billion lives," Katherine said while staring at what was once the Command Center, now a massive hole in the ground.
"Jason," Billy called out, craning his neck. "I know how to track the Darkness teleportation signals. I know how to find the radiation build-up when they're about to use it. I need a lab and some materials, but I can have us a radar scanner ready in a matter of hours."
Jason nodded. "Good. Because the next time we meet them will be the last. We have to end this now!"
"As much as I love all the male bravado," Janine strained to say, "We need a plan."
Katherine unbuckled her seatbelt and began climbing out the vehicle. "It's simple, really." She stood by the Hummer, helping Janine out. "We're going to kill the Darkness; every fucking one of them."
"The Great Ark"
A massive orbital space station, stretching nearly an entire mile in length
Sunday, April 11, 2005 12:50 AM
Currently cloaked in outer space
This is what it meant to be Christopher Lockheed.
Cobalt blue eyes captured the sheer awe of the massive, blustering, mushroom cloud encased inside a powerful, protective, X-class shield barrier on the 200-inch HD monitor before him. Christopher Lockheed methodically grazed his chin with his hand, standing with his right-hand man, Cortez Raul. The men had watched, via Christopher's orders, the shocking explosion that had occurred nearly thirty minutes ago for the fifth straight time. "They're like cockroaches... they just don't know when to die."
Posted on the upper tier of the main Command Station with the twenty-personnel space station crews operating at various posts below them, Cortez took another deep pull from his cigar. Smoke billowed before him as he spoke, his Latin accent as thick as ever. "They are desperate and on the run. Their gamble was, at best, a brief delay of their deaths."
"Still," Christopher began calmly, his hands now clasped behind his back while clad in dark military fatigues. "It would be uncivilized to not respect your opponents grit and determination. These Rangers... they will die fighting; of that I am sure."
"Just so long as they die."
"Indeed," Christopher nodded his agreement. "What were the last status reports received about the attack?"
Cortez shifted towards his leader, drawing again from his cigar before exhaling it to the side. "The attack has gone as planned. They were taken unaware and many of the Command Center's personnel and US military forces stationed there were killed. In addition, some of the research labs in the most heavily secured areas showed signs of teleportation research. Schematics were found for devices that could manipulate the Ore's radioactive properties. We have no way of knowing how close they might be to discovering our means, but it is safe to say they're working on it."
"That's of little consequence at this point. Even if they can teleport again it won't stop the Rising. What else?"
Cortez continued, "There were scattered reports of a starship blasting off from the Ranger's base, although no one could accurately confirm it, and our radar systems here picked up no ships leaving the atmosphere."
Christopher ran his hand through his gray hair as he considered the possibilities. "To be on the safe side, re-scan the entire planet for any recent space flight. Continue monitoring for the duration of the campaign."
"As you wish," Cortez answered, now following his leader around a short, spiral staircase to the sprawling ground floor of their main Command Station. Computer terminals, radar systems, and communications officers worked non-stop in preparation for the Rising. "None of our men could be saved from the explosion."
"Those of them that were human died as heroes for a greater cause than their lives. As for the Synthoids; well, we'll make more." Christopher toured the busy floor, expecting peak efficiency from those around him as his greatest triumph was nearly at hand. "What of our base in Colorado?"
"Unsecured and considered taken by force," Cortez revealed to a modestly surprised Christopher. "All communications have ceased. It's a ghost town."
"The Rangers are resourceful indeed. And what of our alien ally?"
"Missing and presumed dead, although anything is possible."
Worry lines creased his face; Christopher hated unexpected events. "She was always a wild card, but it is of no concern. We have seventy-five thousand troops at our command and the ability to send them anywhere at any time. Soon, it won't matter whatever fate befell her. In less than ten hours this station will have the ability to teleport the Legacy virus throughout the world, and at that point, the schemes of all who oppose us will become ancient memory and no more. The scourge of today's Earth will cease to exist, while the new world order I shall usher in will reshape humanity into perfection," he smiled wickedly, his fits clenched; the victory he'd long sought after was finally within reach. "We will scatter our enemies ashes to the four winds and be done with them."
Cortez watched Christopher order a systems array technician to bring up the holo-sphere. A moment later, a massive holographic outline of the Earth hovered above them all, with three glowing red dots of great significance.
"The dispersement of the Legacy Virus will take place at these three locations. Washington D.C., London, and Jerusalem. Our forces will remain in place until the virus has reached its apex, and then nothing else matters. At that point death will have been unleashed and all we need do is sit back and watch this foul world die."
"Sir, what of the recent power fluctuations on board this station?" Cortez inquired.
"Power surges are to be expected with a space station of this size. They pose little concern. I am in full command of our forces and as soon as the teleportation stalls are fully charged, this war, if you can even call it that, will be over."
"What of your daughter?"
"She, like her mother, has served me in the only way either has ever interested me," Christopher noted as he walked away, his voice fading. "Her end means little to me. Only this time I won't have to wash my hands after strangling her."
"The Great Ark"
A massive orbital space station, stretching nearly an entire mile in length
Teleportation Control Room 4
Sunday, April 11, 2005 12:50 AM
Currently cloaked in outer space
"Jessica Alba," Richard grinned maniacally while rapping his knuckles over the red teleportation array console. He was head of the three-man crew assigned to this control room, one of six on the space station. Sitting with his feet up, the burly operator couldn't stop talking to save his life. "I'm telling you, Ty. Give me Jessica Alba and Halle Berry. I'm gonna have clones of both of them feeding me strawberries inside the next six months."
Scowling, Ty stood at the systems array with his arms crossed his chest, still trying to wrap his mind around what was about to happen to the world and his part in it. He felt edgy, like he was about to jump out of his skin at any moment. Having long since given up on the things changing for the better, coupled with his own disillusionment with society he joined the Darkness because he had no where else to go. No family or home to call his own. And now he's stuck with this asshole who seemed obsessed with the female clones he was sure he was going to enjoy in the near future. No matter the genocide that would pay for his lust. "Do you realize in a couple of hours billions of people are going to die?"
Richard gave an uncaring shrug, his face unmoved. "Earth wasn't ever going to clean up its act, and all those fools down their waiting for their God or some other divine figure to save them are going to die. Now we can be part of humanity finally reaching its pinnacle of perfection. War won't exist in our new world. No one will ever be poor or hungry again. The clones will do all the work while the rest of us control them. I don't give a fuck if we gotta do a little wrong to get a little right. Shit happens. As for me and mine, I'm not going to lose sleep over any of this. I've made my peace with the blood on my hands."
From the very moment Ty first met Richard three years ago in North Dakota, he recognized the former merchant Marine for who he truly was. A uncaring bastard who liked to hurt people and only thought of himself. Nonetheless, Ty hadn't a job or anything else other than he knew how to fire a gun and hated the government for sending him to the Gulf and then letting him come home with nothing but the horrible memories of what he saw over there. At that point his mind state was 'fuck the world.' Even still, the thought of billions dying reawakened something in him he was struggling with. Not everyone could live with genocide on their concious. "Its still fucked."
Taking a long drag, Kyle puffed his cigarette, leaning against the back wall. The hairy ex-trucker turned militant shook his head. "What's done is done, Ty. We're on the verge of a better life than any of us have had before. Those fuckers down there, they don't give two shits if we live or die. But up here, we're somebody. We're going to be powerful men with any woman we want cloned as our slaves and never have to answer to a corrupt government again. Fuck everyone who's about to die. Fuck'em all. And I hope they die slow," he had the nerve to laugh.
Ty listened to Richard snickering while Kyle lit another cancer stick. "Shit," he swore quietly under his breath. It was far to late to turn back now. Suddenly his blue eyes caught sight of the teleportation signal detector flashing. This was most unexpected. "Guys, we got something." Pressing a few keys, his eyes narrowed as he read his monitor. "A teleportation signal is originating from the Colorado base."
"Fuck is that happening?" Richard cursed while checking his console for any new communication transmissions. "I got nothing. Is their code clearance checking out?"
Ty nodded. "Its legit. There's only three of them. What do you think?"
"Fuck it, man. Let'em in," Kyle added, laughing without a care. "A couple more of our boys survived. I guess its gonna be a party after all."
"Yeah, whatever." Ty relayed the teleportation signal back with its clearance for teleportation. Looking up from behind his mid-level gray console, he watched the square-shaped, raised steel-mesh platform in front of them glow white hot before three figures appeared, all clad in black, form-fitting plated body armor. At that point what happened next occurred so fast he barely had time to blink.
"What the fu..." Richard's words died when one of Kim's hollow-tipped bullets blew through his forehead and out the back of his neck, splattering crimson all over the chair behind him. He crumbled to the floor, blood gushing from him.
Kyle wasn't so lucky as to have uttered a single word when several bullets from Tommy's Xion-pulse rifle tore through his chest, knocking him clear off his feet backwards against the wall.
"I SURRENDER!! I SURRENDER!!" Ty begged frantically, his hands raised in hopes that the man and woman carrying the guns wouldn't kill him as quickly as his partners died. "Whatever you want, man. Please don't kill me! Fuck, man!! PLEASE DON'T SHOOT!"
His rifle trained high, Tommy urgently circled the command console. His eyes darted around the room, noting the wall-mounted digital security camera in the far left corner. "Disengage that security camera now." With the nozzle of his gun now pressed to Ty's lower back, Tommy watched him pull up the security deck protocols and shut off the camera in the room. "You're up, Beautiful."
Kim quickly yanked Ty aside, assuming his position at the command controls. She produced a small black hand-held device with a short USB cable and quickly inserted it into the computer's USB port. The device began to hum quietly. "We're uploading the virus now. I've set it to randomly shut down security camera's all over the station at six minute intervals. That will look a hell of a lot less suspicious than just one for a length of time. At the very least it might by us some."
The dead bodies were still bleeding as Jessica stood back, watching Tommy and Kim as if she were watching a action movie she was somehow co-starring in. As surreal as actually teleporting felt, the broad glass visor behind the command console revealed the vastness of outer space and Earth below. It hit her that she actually wasn't on the planet anymore. She blinked and swallowed hard, now seriously aware that this was all real and that after today nothing would ever be the same again.
Moving aggressively, Tommy shoved Ty against the glass visor, his weapon tucked under the trembling man's chin. With his free hand he removed a small pen-shaped object. Pressing a button on the side of it, a needed appeared. He jabbed it into the man's neck, injecting a clear liquid, watching Ty wince painfully as the specially augmented serum roared through his veins. "I don't have time for anything but the truth. And if you lie you're going to be in for a world of pain, got it?"
Clutching his sides, Ty suddenly felt sick to his stomach and wired, as if he couldn't catch his breath. "Ye... yes. Whatever you want."
"Where are we on this space station?" Tommy inquired, knowing Kim was monitoring the advancement of Billy's computer virus through the space stations systems.
Ty shuddered as the smoking heat from the guns nozzle seared his skin. "This is Teleportation Control Room 4 on Level 4."
"What else is on this level?"
"Mostly support supplies for the matinence crews aboard of the space station."
"How many people are on this level?"
Ty began sweating heavily, his heart pounding inside his chest. "Seventy... maybe eighty. All assigned to their own tasks. Most are Synthoid clones."
"How about security personnel?"
"Thirty guards at best."
"How many levels are on this base?"
"Where are the life support systems?"
Tommy felt that had a secondary attack option now. "How are the Darkness planning on delivering the virus."
Gasping for air, Ty felt as if his throat was closing in. He could barely stand as it was. His skin felt like it was on fire. "The... the ground forces are going to release the virus on Earth at three locations, and then Valhalla's relay array's will teleport it into the atmosphere worldwide for maximum dispersement. It's going to kill everyone, man. Ain't nothing gonna be alive down there once the virus is in the atmosphere."
Scowling, Tommy glanced back at Kim, who nodded she was ready. He turned his attention back to his captive. "Where are the relay array's on this station?"
"All of them... all of them are on Level 2, man. There's a elevator outside this room thirty-feet down the hall. It'll take you... take right there."
Before he could catch him, Tommy watched Ty slump to the floor, convulsing, having passed out. The truth serum's adverse effects reacted even faster if the person injected with it had a substance abuse problem, especially if it involved cocaine. Obviously this guy did.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, Tommy addressed the young woman who earlier saved his life. "Jess, I can't teleport you back to Earth without alerting someone to our presence. You're going to have to stay with us now and do exactly as we say."
While her hands were still shaking, Jess shoved her fear aside with a deep breath. Even as the two people she came to trust most looked very different now than before, she still felt they had told her the truth about wanting to stop her father. This was her one chance to be free of that monster forever. "I'm with you."
"The techno-virus is running and so far looks undetected," Kim interrupted as she approached them while corkscrewing a Nomad-silencer on one of her hand guns, and then removed the other one from its hip holster. "Jess, this is a Xion-pulse pistol. It has a full clip with thirty-five bullets, but I want you to put three clips more in your back pocket. Don't worry about the size of the clips. Trust me, they're good." The former Pink Ranger wasted little time in showing Jess how to load and unload the gun, as well as how to fire the weapon. Good thing she was a quick study. Having strapped a black chest-plated body armor on her before leaving the Colorado base, she was as prepared as they had time to do. "Jess, we have to stop that virus no matter what. Do you understand that?"
"What you're saying is you don't expect to make it out of here alive?"
Kim exhaled, hating and admiring her bold claim. "Do you understand?"
"Yes," Jessica stood tall. "However I can help, I want to. What's the plan?"
After reloading his Xion-rifle and adding a silencer, Tommy led them to the room's entrance door. "When we step outside in the hall Kim can disable all the security camera's on this floor. But only for a short time, so we have to reach that elevator as fast as we can. We're going to the teleportation relay array station on Level 2. With any luck we'll disable it up so that it can't be used."
"Okay, sounds easy enough." Jess realized her tough girl act wasn't amusing around them. Especially since in reality she was scared out of her mind. "You say jump, I say how high."
"We don't have any allies on this station, Jess." Standing in front of her, Kim braced her hands on Jess's shoulders, making direct eye contact. This was a terribly heavy load for her to bear considering all she's dealt with so far, but they had no choice. "Shoot to kill. It's the only way you're going to stay alive."
Finding and killing her father was reason enough for Jess to live a hundred years. That was her own personal vendetta. Her clear blue eyes narrowed as hate gave her courage. Finally she could fight back or die trying. "Lead the way."
Pressing the indented chrome panel, Tommy watched the door slide open sideways, while he remained braced against the wall out of anyone's sight who might be in the hallway. He listened for footsteps, and upon registering none gave Kim the signal. Three quick button presses on her hand-held device and the security camera's everywhere on Level 4 went off-line, as well as sending a multi-frequency scrambling transmission throughout the level.
"Let's go," Tommy quietly ordered, taking the point down the brightly lit, wide hallway. Smooth granite ceilings and curved, white Viro-plastiq walls conveyed a very simplistic yet technological decor. Not far from the teleportation station they reached a silver-trimmed double sliding door and heard voices inside.
Three distinctive voice. Two female, one male. They spoke in short sentences. Straight to the point and almost robotic in nature. Their words carried no individuality or creativity.
They were Synthoids.
When the sliding door opened the three individuals inside hadn't a second to react. Kim nailed one of the women in the throat before she could reach her gun, the bullet bursting clear out of the back of her neck. Hot lead from Tommy's rifle slammed into the chest of the other woman, while Jessica fired several shots that all hit their target, killing the remaining man before he could even reach for his weapon.
Kim quickly ushered them inside, shutting the door behind them. She felt a ache in her chest for turning Jessica into a killer, but the mission had to come first. They urgently searched the room, finding only supplies for repairing exhaust systems and the space stations massive central air conditioning units. The trio they killed were armed support staff, not guards.
Moving back into the hallway, Tommy sprinted until he hit the corner. He peeking around it, his eyes quickly darted toward Kim. He held up a single finger and then patted his chest once with his hand.
Understanding that a guard was leaning against the wall on the other side of Tommy, Kim raised her gun and flickered her wrist at an angle while firing once. The bullet raced down the hall, curving past Tommy around the corner. A thud sounded as the guards body hit the floor.
Simply floored, Jessica watched it all in in awe, having believed something like that was only possibly in a video game. "How did you do that?"
"Ranger trade secret," Kim noted with a sly grin. "Maybe you'll learn it someday."
While racing around that corner, they caught sight of the main elevator at the end of the hall... guarded by several soldiers in dark military fatigues standing. "Take'em!" Tommy ordered.
The lead solider watched two of his men fall before he shouted, "WE HAVE INTRUDERS ON LEVEL FOUR, SECTION 8. ALL GUARDS REPORT! KILL THE INTRUDERS. DESIGNATION 0-7-8-5 REQUESTS IMMEDIETE BACK-UP!"
All hell broke loose at that point!
Tommy and Kim hit opposites sides of the hallway, quickly turning over checkpoint desks aligned against the walls for cover. Jessica fled to Kim's side as the battle started fast and urgent. The violent exchange of gunfire shattered windows and light fixtures, splintering glass and sparks everywhere. Bullets ricocheted off wall and through doors. Two soldiers bodies twisted in mid-air from Ranger gunfire, while blazing return fire had them pinned down and becoming more outnumbered by the second.
The blistering sound of Tommy's Xion-pulse assault rifle firing long bursts of rounds tore Jessica out of her haze of shock as she began firing wildly down the hall. She quickly noticed that the Darkness Synthoid soldiers were running forward with no care for cover. As soon as two were mauled, three more leapt their dead bodies in angry pursuit of the Rangers. They had no reason, no plan to their attack. They were animals who didn't care if they lived or died.
So she slaughtered them like animals, killing one after the other... each death a fist thrown against her father's perversion.
When one soldier rammed his body into the desk Kim was using as cover, he quickly rose to his feet and tried to ram the butt of his rifle in her face. The former Pink Ranger ducked, flicked her wrist, producing a small blade from a sheath and slammed it repeatedly into the soldiers gut until he dropped his weapon, slumping over. Then she turned his dying body around, using him as a new shield while killing two more solders. "TOMMY, WE GOTTA JET NOW!"
Taking the point down the hallway, smoke and fire now aiding their progress, Tommy delivered a fierce jumping roundhouse kick to the jaw of a soldier, sending his body hurtling into two behind him. Diving sideways out the path of Darkness gunfire, he burst through the door of a storage room. Two tall men inside raged at him. Three vicious punches the the face and neck eliminated the guy on the right, while a fierce leg sweep knocked the other one off his feet. Tommy curb-stomped the side of his head, effectively breaking his neck.
Back to the door. Tommy produced two pool ball-sized flash grenades. "LIGHT SHOW!"
Kim yelled at Jessica. "COVER YOUR EYES!"
The flash grenade spiraled in the air towards the group of soldiers at the end of the hall. The booming explosion and subsequent flash of light completely blinded them all. Flailing arms amidst the smoke and chaos left them vulnerable, as the Rangers took advantage.
The sheer outburst of unrelenting gunfire tearing through the Darkness Synthoid soldiers blew several bloody fragments of flesh and limbs in all directions as the Rangers and Jessica cut them down.
"MOVE!" Kim was joined by Tommy by the time they maneuvered around the pile of dead bodies. "Jess, give me back my hand gun and take one of their assault rifles. Make sure whatever body you take it from, take his clips as well."
With no time to worry about the bile threatening the back of her throat, Jessica did as she was told. After handing Kim back her firearm, she wrenched a assault rifle from a Synthoid who's face was blown off. Looking away from the carnage, she took three of his clips. "I'm ready."
Tommy stood beside Kim. "As soon as we're in the elevator stop jamming the communications, but leave the security camera's off."
"Have I ever told you how sexy your leader voice is?" Her teasing tone for a brief moment drew a smile on his face.
"I am so going to marry you."
"Damn right you are."
Jess watched them share a quick kiss, wondering about the true nature of their relationship since everything they told her was a lie. A story for another day, and one she hoped to live to see. "Excuse me, but don't we have a world to save?"
"Spoken like a true Ranger," Kim complimented the young woman she's come to like a great deal. And true to her word, when this was over she intended to help her turn her life around. "Lets go."
The trio entered the elevator, with Kim pressing for Level Four. The sheer size of the immense space station became apparent. Massive unfinished sections came into view as the shaft descended, marked by glowing deflector shields meant to preserve the life support systems until those sections were complete. The elevator seemed to glide rather then descend along a cable, moving at a rapid speed far exceeding anything any of them had been on before.
Upon reaching Level Four, the elevator doors parted slowly. Venturing forward, Tommy, Kim, and Jess quickly realized this was floor was far different than the one they came from.
Spanning the width and length of two football fields, the entire level wasn't sectioned off into hallways, but was a very wide open space with several control systems stations, tons of Darkness Synthoid soldiers, a vast 100-foot clear glass-hub facing the Earth. Six towering 230-foot diameter radar dish reflectors sat outside the glass hub, all waiting the transmission signal that would end the world below.
"INTRUDERS! SOUND THE ALARM! WE HAVE INTRUDERS!!"
Darkness Synthoid soldiers swarmed like locusts, massing towards Tommy, Kim, and Jess. The Rangers fought their way to the first control station, using it as cover, but the odds were hopeless at this point. Gunfire blistered the air around them, shattering everything, tearing through the controls and flooring.
Taking what could be one of his last moments alive, Tommy urgently pressed his lips to Kim's, and then told her, "I've always loved you. Always."
She watched in horror as he took off for the next closest control station, firing while running as fast as he could. She knew his intention was to split their enemies focus, but the odds of them getting out of here alive were...
Suddenly a ear-splitting explosion detonated from somewhere in the space station. Kim and Jess were violently thrown off their feet when entire floor shook and and buckled, wrenching apart down the middle of Level 4. They could only stare in shock as the huge clear glass-hub overlooking the earth splintered, cracked, and then shattered... Darkness soldiers, station operators, control systems, and anything not pinned down flew out into the vastness of space as the gusting whooshing sound of the space stations air supply blustered loudly.
Kim felt the floor move again, holding onto Jessica and while screaming Tommy's name when she saw his section of the station, as well as at least a floor beneath them completely separate from hers. The grinding roar of steel being wrenched apart overshadowed her voice as a full section of the space station broke off from the main part and began to float away into space... carrying with it the love of her life.
Staggered and bloodied, Kim was barely able to stand when the purple rail-shielding lifted and covered the entire section that broke up, re-establishing the life support systems and air on the floor. The sounds of Darkness Synthoid soldiers surrounding her failed to capture her notice. She took a tentative step forward, her guns dropping from her hands...
... her eyes focused on the burning section of the space station that broke off moving further and further away as the bodies of Darkness Synthoid soldiers and debris drifted between them. "Tommy, no... dear God, no."
The end of Chapter 1 "End of Days"
Next: The Final Chapter: "Comes the Darkness" concludes with the Rangers split around the world in a last ditch effort to save it. The most stunning revelation of all is revealed... as well as the death of a hero. See you in 30 days for the End!