Hello, I'm back. I had originally decided not to continue my stories due to lack of feedback, but I decided that was not fair to those who did read and review. All three stories (This, The Enemy Within and Timeline) are going to be completed, just give me some time.

Please review.

Thank you to:

brankel1, Powergod, Ghostwriter, Shadow Ranger, PrincessOfDestiny14, harmonator62, RedemptionWarrior, historian, charm3power, ae1102, the true elec, N, rk68, Iron-Mantis, Red Tornado, milordo-z 2.0, Warlord-Xana, snake screamer, Dark Yellow Dino and may1331.

CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE

This was not happening.

Watching as the broken, charred remains of the Red Time Flier slowly proceeded to melt under the dancing flames, the seven remaining Red Rangers looked on in a state of disbelief, refusing to comprehend what their eyes told them.

Wes wasn't dead. He couldn't be...could he?

Their train of thought was suddenly interrupted as Serpentera delivered a vertical slash across the torso of the Red BattleZord.

Inside the cockpit, Tommy's dark eyes blazed through his visor, as if to stare straight through the twisted steel, into the black heart of General Venjix.

If only he had one.

Jerking the controls forward, the Red BattleZord executed a powerful punch that banged off the armored skin of the serpent Zord. Serpentera backed off a few inches, but was back in attack position moments later as it reached it's dreaded claws forward. There was a loud crunching sound as the hands of the morbid beast locked on to the shoulders of the Red BattleZord.

Unable to figure out whether he was more frightened or frustrated, the Red Zeo Ranger ignited the star visor on the head of his Zord. His mind pushed away any thoughts of how dangerous this attack would be with his opponent so close.

This was for Wes...

Serpentera's claws screeched across the Zord's shoulders as force of the blast knocked the Red BattleZord backward. The gargantuan serpent appeared to sway a bit, like a massive skyscraper in the wind. Yet nonetheless, Venjix and his unparalleled weapon of destruction remained standing.

Meanwhile, the Lion Galactabeast was back on it's feet, and charging Serpentera/ Gasping a deep breath from the oxygen field, the crimson cat launched a stream of flames at the body of the mighty serpent Zord.

But Serpentera did not falter. Its eyes glowed blood red yet again as it began to shoot a seemingly endless array of rapid laser fire at it's opponent. Like an innocent animal hunted down in the wild, the Galactabeast dropped to the ground. As it lay prone and defenceless, Serpentera continued to pelt it's lifeless body with laser fire.

Then suddenly, a much larger form eclipsed that of the Lion Galactabeast. In it's metallic hand clutched an armoured shield, which it thrust forward to repel Venjix's assault.

Andros thrust the controls forward. The Astro MegaZord Mark II successfully blocked Serpentera's attack, until Venjix evidently realised that it was of no avail. Stomping forward, the giant battle machine thrust the Astro MegaZord Sabre forward, swinging directly for the head of the serpent.

There was a high pitching clanging sound. Serpentera had caught the sword in it's metallic teeth. Shocked, Andros yanked back on the butt of the sword. But the razor sharp jaws of Serpentera were clamped on too tightly. The Astro MegaZord jerked the sword in every direction possible. Yet wherever the MegaZord pulled, Serpentera's neck turned to follow.

And then, Serpentera's jaws began to crackle with an all too familiar electricity…

Flashing back to what had happened to Aurico, Andros' mind raced. They desperately needed to break Venjix's grip, before yet another catastrophic event occurred.

Suddenly, the electric current shot through the Astro MegaZord Sabre. A few of the control panels burst with sparks as the power from Serpentera's proceeded to invade the inner workings of the giant battle machine. As the electricity began to sizzle through the bodies of the three Red Rangers, Andros frantically went for the last resort.

Seconds later, the Astro MegaZord's right hand released the sabre. Venjix appeared to be caught off guard, as Serpentera simply looked up at its opponent like a confused dog.

With his head throbbing, and his skin tingling with electricity, Andros reached for a lever on the control panel.

Serpentera stumbled backward as the Astro MegaZord's left boot shot into its torso. The monster's jaws fell open, releasing the sabre. The Rangers noticed that the sword now had several deep abrasions from Serpentera's teeth.

"We've got to get the sabre before he destroys it!" Carter cried.

"Or worse," Andros replied. "He somehow finds a way to use it against us."

"Hang in there boys," Jason's voice suddenly blasted through the com. "I've got ya covered!"

Andros, T.J., and Carter looked to see the Quantasaurus Rex approaching from Serpentera's left side. Jason opened fire with the Zord's back laser cannons. Yet just like earlier, they had very little effect. Turning it's entire body toward the Q-Rex, Serpentera released yet another burst of flames. Jason brought the Zord to a complete stop, and tried to make a U-turn. Yet despite his efforts, the original Red Ranger could not escape the flames.

The other Rangers looked on in horror as the Quantasaurus Rex ignited in a blaze of fire.

"Jason!" Carter shouted over the com, "Get out of there!"

They couldn't make out Jason's response as the Q-Rex hysterically twisted and jerked through the oxygen field, trying to somehow put out the flames that were starting to engulf it's metallic body. And then, a horrendous claw tipped hand wrapped itself around the throat of the Q-Rex. The Zord let out a faint groan as its own arms latched on to Serpentera's, trying to pry itself free….

And then, the mighty serpent hoisted the Quantasaurus Rex off it's feet with one hand.

Terrified, Andros shoved the controls forward, sending the Astro MegaZord into a charge toward its opponent. They even ignored their fallen sabre as the giant battle machine shot a powerful punch into the side of Serpentera's head.

As it's cockpit jolted to the right, Serpentera dropped the Q-Rex to the ground. Though the Zord landed on its feet, Jason could not prevent it from crumbling to the ground. The fire on the battle machine's metallic epidermis was growing, rapidly, as the fallen Quantasaurus simply lay there, burning…..

Just then, a familiar voice called over the com. "Jason! Activate the emergency coolant system! There should be a blue button on your bottom right!"

The result was a stunned silence…until suddenly, bursts of cool steam began to spray from the cavities in the Q-Rex's build, extinguishing the flames.

T.J. beat his team mates to the punch. "Wes? Oh my god…..is that you?"

"You'd better believe it speed racer!" the Red Time Force Ranger replied. "Thank god for emergency eject mechanisms."

A wave of relief, and newly regained hope washed over the team of Red Rangers.

Wes was alive…..

"Are you alright Wes?" Andros called to his team mate. "Do you need any help?"

"Don't worry about me," Wes answered. "Leo, where are you?"

The Red Galaxy Ranger was quick to respond. "I'm down here Wes! Near the-"

Andros, T.J., and Carter were unable to make out the rest of the response as the same massive hand that had pulled the Q-Rex up by its throat, slashed the Astro MegaZord across its torso. The sheer impact and surprise of the blow sent the MegaZord crashing to the ground once again. Dust and debris flew through the air as the three Red Rangers felt the cockpit hit the surface with a thunderous thud, their bodies once again slamming hard against the control panels.

Above the fallen Zord, Serpentera had pulled its massive hands up toward its torso, extending its razor sharp claws forward. Just as Tezzla's own hands had done for her when she was still operational, the Zord's claws began to spin rapidly, each finger now becoming a drill, a tool for dissection and torture.

Letting a growl escape from the bowels of his Zord, General Venjix slowly proceeded to bend the serpent's knees, preparing to twist and deform the Astro MegaZord to his own sick delight.

But then, the serpent's growl was answered by another. Venjix turned the Zord's cockpit to it's left….

They stood together, did the Red BattleZord and the Lion Wild Zord. Just like the knight and his noble steed, Cole thought to himself. Glancing out the side of his viewport, he saw the Astro MegaZord Sabre in the BattleZord's right fist.

Even the Red Wild Force Ranger was surprised as a smile spread across his masked face. Staring through the cockpit, out into the smoky, rubble ridden battlefield, Cole braced himself for yet another confrontation.

Just then, a low pitched growl caught Cole's attention

"Cole!" Tommy called through the com. "What are you waiting for?"

But the Red Wild Force Ranger did not answer. For he occupied by the sweet, soft voice in his ears. It spoke to him in a gentle, kind rumble. It was a sound incomprehensible to anyone but himself.

His Red Lion Wild Zord was speaking to him.

"Yes..." he replied. "Yes then, do it!"

"What?" Tommy called over the com. "Cole what are you doing? Cole? Answer me!"

Suddenly, the Red Zeo Ranger was cut of as a glimmering white light engulfed the Red Lion Wild Zord, shining brighter than the very stars above. For a long moment, the Rangers were forced to shield their visors, as they were blinded by the Zord's luminosity.

When the light finally faded, the Red Lion Wild Zord had more than doubled in size. Though he still piloted the same battle machine, Cole had summoned the pure spirit of the Animarium to increase the mass of his Wild Zord. It was a power he hadn't the slightest clue even existed until this very moment.

How very like the Blazing Lion, Cole thought to himself. To catch you off guard, yet come to your aid when you need it the most.

"Alright Tommy," Cole called through the com channel. "Jump when you feel froggy."

But Tommy and the Red BattleZord were one step ahead of the Red Wild Force Ranger. Using its powerful legs, the Red BattleZord leapt high above the moon's rocky surface. Twirling in the oxygen field as its altitude increased. Then, curling into a ball momentarily, it somersaulted through the air, positioning itself to land atop the back of the enlarged Lion Zord.

There was a sound of steel connecting with steel as the Red BattleZord landed snugly on the back of its noble steed. It its hand, the Zord twirled the scarred Astro MegaZord Sabre.

After feeling the jolt of the Red BattleZord's weight on the Lion's back, Cole called into the com again. "You alright up there?"

"Yeah," Tommy replied affirmatively. "Just don't make any sudden stops okay?"

Cole chuckled. He had to remember that this wasn't the Pegasus MegaZord. Yet regardless, the Red Wild Force Ranger set his sights on Serpentera. Letting the enlarged Zord kick back dust with its hind legs, the Red Lion growled a fierce growl…..

And then they charged.

As the two affixed Zord's rushed forth, the Red BattleZord held out the Astro MegaZord Saber. With its claws still twisting in a drilling motion, Serpentera stood poised, prepared for seemingly any onslaught the Rangers threw at it. The ground underneath the Lion Zord began to burst into bits as the serpent once again began to blast with its burning red eyes.

But Tommy had the attack scouted. Igniting the Astro MegaZord Sabre, the Red BattleZord proceeded to swat off nearly every single laser bolt that Venjix shot at them. Until finally, they two Zords were in striking range….

There was a loud screech, followed by a burst of flames as the charged blade swiped across the belly of the gargantuan serpent. The two intertwined Zords rushed out of dodge as Serpentera swung its morbid claws behind them, just narrowly missing the head of the Red BattleZord. Their team mates looked on in awe at their opponent, whose torso was now engraved with a long, horizontal gash across the belly.

"Yes!" T.J. bellowed over the com. "Way to hit 'em Tommy!"

"Cole!" the Red Zeo Ranger said. "Let's hit him again!"

This time, it was the Red Wild Force Ranger who was ahead of his partner, as Cole had already turned the enlarged Lion around for a second charge. A small flicker of relief was conspicuous in his belly. Perhaps they'd finally found a winning formula….

As the two Zords charged a second time, Serpentera let loose another scorching blast of fire. The Red BattleZord just narrowly ducked under the flames. Tommy could literally feel the heat seeping through the cockpit. But as the Zords continued their approach, the gargantuan serpent pulled another trump card, and swung its deadly arm at the face of the BattleZord, obviously going for a clothesline effect.

Once again, the Red BattleZord just narrowly avoided the contact as the Astro MegaZord Saber swept hard across the serpent Zord, this time connecting with its chest.

Sparks erupted from Serpentera's body as it let out a roar, louder and more furious than ever before. Tommy and Cole both knew that if a robot could feel frustration, General Venjix had to be soaking in it now….

"It's working!" Cole shouted, much louder than he'd intended.

"Alright," Tommy replied, his tone much more confident than it had been moments ago. "Lets hit him one more time!"

"And this time…." Wes chimed in. "With feeling!"

Cole smiled once again as the Lion Zord took off in another charge. Yet his look of ecstasy quickly shifted to a look of confusion as Serpentera began to quickly turn its massive body clockwise. The evil Zord was no longer facing it's attackers…..

By the time the Rangers realised what Venjix was doing, it was too late.

Tommy tried to pull the ignited Astro MegaZord Sabre up to shield himself as the tail of the massive serpent swung for the Red BattleZord's torso. Yet it was impossible for him to be quick enough. A thunderous banging sound echoed across the Sea of Tranquillity as Serpentera's tail connected with the chest of the Red BattleZord. Even through the thunderous explosion, Tommy could hear the other Rangers screaming for him as the Red Lion Wild Zord rushed out from under the Red BattleZord. Gravity shoved the Red Zeo Ranger back into his seat as the cockpit abruptly turned backward.

Tommy's safety harness snapped as the Red BattleZord collided with the ground bellow. The veteran Ranger bounced out of his seat, his body colliding with the wall of the cockpit with a sick thud. Tommy's muscles tensed as the shiny blotches made their presence felt in his vision.

He managed to clench his gloved fist.

"No….."

It was then that a second explosion erupted from above the Red BattleZord. This one however, wasn't like the others. Tommy clumsily rolled over to see that the Astro MegaZord Sabre was jammed into the lower back of the serpent Zord. Clouds of smoke drifted up from the open wound, as sparks proceeded to burst violently from Serpentera's backside.

Pulling himself up with the pilots seat, Tommy punched the com. "Andros?"

"Tommy?" the Kerovan's voice replied. "Are you alright?"

"What happened?" Tommy groggily responded. "What's going on?"

"I'm not sure…." He replied. "But if I had to take a guess, I'd say-"

Just then, another massive blaze exploded from Serpentera's back, this time, setting the gargantuan serpent Zord on fire.

"What was that?" Tommy shouted into the com. "Say it again!"

"I'd say you punctured the Neo Plutonium Reactor!"

"So….what does that mean?"

Andros was abruptly cut off by T.J.. "Tommy, it's not that I'm an expert or anything, but I think it means you'd better get that thing up and moving before those explosions get bigger!"

The Red Zeo Ranger heeded his team mates warning, and struggled to bring the Red BattleZord to its feet. The sound of screeching steel filled the Sea of Tranquillity as Tommy pushed his Zord up straight. Instantly, he turned to look at Serpentera.

The fire was small, and Venjix evidently had it under control with the Zord's coolant systems. But nevertheless, if Tommy had in fact cut through the Neo Plutonium Reactor…..

Then Serpentera was a wounded animal. And with Serpentera in the same hurt, vulnerable state as the Rangers, the sides had just evened out.

However, Tommy remembered that most animals are their most ruthless and vicious states when wounded.

"Tommy…" Andros' voice called to him once again.

"What?"

"Do you still have that disc I gave you on the Megaship?"

The Red Zeo Ranger reached up to touch a button on the wall of the cockpit. Instantly, a disc drive protruded out in front of him. Sitting in it was the compact disc Andros had handed him following the mission briefing. The words "Project Crimson" were written in black ink on the label.

"Yeah," Tommy replied affirmatively. "Why?"

"Insert it into the drive on your control panel."

The veteran Ranger pressed a button on the panel, revealing a similar disc drive. He placed the disc on to it, and pushed it back in. "There. Now what did I just do?"

There was a slight pause on the other end before Andros responded. "Tommy, it's time to initiate Project Crimson."