Chapter 10: Really Graphic Scenes of Dismemberment (or Ten More Minutes of Sentai)

by juniperphoenix

Billy and Rachel sat in silence as the battle raged outside. Neither had spoken since Rachel asked about the blue flame, but both were lost in thought.

Why didn't you tell her more? Billy asked himself. For months, he had desperately wanted someone… anyone… to talk to. So much had been happening, and he needed so badly to make sense of it all. Now, especially, he was confused. The blue flame had made him wonder whether maybe, just maybe, there might be a second chance out there. He couldn't talk to any of the Rangers about it… he was afraid of hurting them, especially Tanya. But nothing he could say would hurt Rachel, and the veterinarian had actually been willing to listen. Yet he hadn't told her anything.

Rachel watched Billy curiously. She didn't know much about the young man, but she found herself liking him. He seemed like a nice kid, even though his reticence annoyed her. It's really none of your business, she reminded herself. Still, she wished he would open up a little. She could tell that his non-Ranger status was a sensitive subject, and she seriously doubted any of his friends knew just how sensitive.

Rachel's contemplation was cut short by a strange noise coming from right outside the clinic. She looked up with a puzzled expression. "What was that?"

Billy frowned, listening. "Sounds like…" He was interrupted by Rachel's sudden scream, as a Cog appeared in the doorway. "Cogs!" Billy finished. He scrambled out of bed and stanced defensively as five more of the robotic soldiers came into the tent.

Rachel glanced around wildly for a moment, her gaze finally coming to rest on the metal stool she'd been sitting on. She picked it up and swung it with all her strength at the nearest Cog, knocking it down.

As the other robots approached, she stepped protectively in front of Billy. The teenager seemed more than willing to take on the Cogs, but Rachel knew he was in no shape for a fight. She continued to fend off the intruders with the stool, the clashing of metal on metal almost drowning out the sounds of the battle outside. Soon, the floor of the clinic was littered with bits and pieces of the Machine soldiers.

Then, she hit one of them a little too hard, and the stool broke. Rachel threw it at her attacker, destroying it. Another Cog punched at her, but she ducked and grabbed its arm, twisting it backwards.

"Go for the neck!" Billy told her.

Rachel looked at the Cog's neck and spotted a few bundles of colored wire peeking out. With her free hand, she reached up and tore them with all her might. Electricity stung her fingertips, and she stepped quickly away from the Cog as it collapsed.

Only one Cog remained. Billy knocked it down with a sweep kick, and then stomped hard on its shoulder, grinding his foot down on the exposed wiring. The Cog convulsed with electricity and then vanished.

Billy quickly surveyed the room and saw that all the Cogs were gone. "We've got to get out of here," he told Rachel. "Something tells me they won't give up that easily."

Just then, more Cogs began appearing in the clinic. "Something tells me you were right!" Rachel exclaimed, as she and Billy ran out the back of the clinic with the Cogs in pursuit. Behind them, the battle raged on; ahead of them, Ishala and a Peace Tour supervisor were herding a frightened group of villagers and teen ambassadors toward the tour bus.

At least they should be safe, thought Billy. He wasn't so sure about himself and Rachel. They couldn't go to the bus — they'd be leading the Cogs straight into a group of innocent people. They couldn't turn and fight, either — he was too weak and Rachel too inexperienced for either of them to last long.

The ground trembled beneath their feet, shaken by the Zord battle going on nearby. Billy stumbled once and almost fell, but caught himself in time and kept on without a word.

Rachel kept a cautious eye on her companion. He wanted her to think he was fine, but she knew otherwise. Though his broken ribs seemed inexplicably healed, he still wasn't 100 percent recovered. She only hoped they could outrun the Cogs before he dropped from exhaustion.

Suddenly, a violet hole opened in the sky, and a Cog dropped directly into their path. Billy skidded to a halt, and quickly blocked the punch the robot threw at him. "Rachel, run!" he ordered. "I'll catch up with you!"

Rachel hesitated. Miraculous recovery or not, Billy was in no condition to be taking on Cogs.

"Go!" he told her again.

Rachel reluctantly obeyed. "Be careful!" she shouted back as she ran. Rachel searched frantically for a means of escape. She knew running to the bus was out of the question, but there had to be somewhere to go. On an impulse, she dashed for the large, circular hut where the villagers held community gatherings.

"Rachel, no!" shouted Billy, as he caught a glimpse of the young woman running into a hut with a group of Cogs hot on her heels. "You'll be trapped!"

Either she didn't hear him, or it was too late, for Rachel vanished into the hut, followed by the Cogs. Meanwhile, the Cog that Billy was fighting took advantage of his distraction to deliver a staggering blow to the teen's midsection. Billy doubled over painfully, gasping for breath, and barely managed to block the next few punches.

He made a grab for the exposed wiring, which had been the downfall of so many Cogs, but this one was more careful. As Billy reached for the vulnerable area, the Cog caught his arm and flipped him over.

Billy went limp and allowed himself to be flung to the ground like a rag doll. Pain jolted through him as he slammed down on his back, but he managed not to cry out. He lay still and watched through half-closed eyes as the Cog peered down at him.

"Target has been captured," the robot said to thin air. "What are your orders?"

Silence followed, and Billy assumed the Cog was receiving instructions from the Machine Skybase. If he was going to do something, he had to do it fast.

"Acknowledged," the Cog said after a moment. "Ready to tele—" Billy lashed out with a powerful kick that caught the Cog right under its chin.

The robot's head snapped sharply back, and the Cog nearly fell backwards, but managed to right itself. It staggered around rather spectacularly for a moment, clutching both hands to its head as bolts of electricity coursed through it and sparks flew everywhere.

Without warning, the Cog's head fell right off of its body and landed next to Billy with a hollow thud — followed a moment later by the dull crash of the headless body dropping to the ground.

"Prodigious!" Billy stared in utter amazement at the headless Cog. He hadn't thought he'd hit it that hard.

As he stood and dusted himself off, Billy was nearly overwhelmed by the sensation of the blue flame within him. It had grown bigger and brighter than before, and seemed to be pulling at his insides as it strained to reach beyond itself. Billy recognized the sensation from a thousand Putty and Tenga fights when he hadn't bothered to morph. The little flame was reaching out to tap the Power, trying to give Billy the extra boost he needed. It was reaching for a power that wasn't there, trying to open the floodgates of the once-boundless blue ocean that had dried up and vanished like a mirage in the desert. It was trying so hard, for so impossible a goal, that he actually felt sorry for it.

Whoaaa, Billy. Reality check! he told himself. Giving the headless Cog a final glance as it disappeared, he turned and ran after Rachel.

"Hyah!" Jason disabled a Cog with a swift tornado kick. The damaged robot staggered back a few steps, and Zack finished it with a solid punch to the middle.

"Yeowch!" The former Black Ranger rubbed his bruised fist and grinned sheepishly. He kept forgetting that the Cogs' metal armoring was a lot tougher than clay.

There weren't many Cogs left, but it was slow going for the five ex-Rangers without their powers. It took a lot just to damage the robots, and several hard hits to destroy them.

The Yellow Rangers worked together, taking down one attacker after another. Once Trini had knocked a Cog down by sweeping its stance, Aisha would dart in and tear a handful of wiring from the fallen robot.

Kimberly was surrounded. Her tactic of going for the Cogs' exposed wiring had worked for a while, but the bunch she was facing now seemed a bit smarter. She couldn't get a clear strike to their shoulders, and none of her other moves were having much effect.

"Need a hand?" inquired Jason, as he kicked a Cog away from Kim's back. He picked her up by the waist and swung her around, knocking down several of the Cogs.

"Thanks for the lift!" said Kim as Jason set her back down. She backflipped away from him and stanced several yards away.

"All right, you tin cans, come and get me!" A Cog on the outer edge of the fray looked up to see the solitary figure in pink. It rushed the undefended girl, who smoothly locked its arm and threw it. She planted her foot firmly in the Cog's back, holding it down as she tore the wiring free.

Moving to music only he could hear, Zack hip-hopped up to a Cog and spun to kick it. His kick missed the Cog's torso, but instead hit it in the arm, nearly breaking off the appendage. "Hey, thanks for the hand!" Zack grabbed his opponent's wrist and turned sharply. In one swift motion, he tore the robot's arm loose and smashed it down on another Cog. Both robots collapsed in a shower of sparks.

Trini tripped up yet another Cog, and Aisha descended on it with a triumphant smile. "Anybody call for an electrician?" A few seconds later, the unfortunate robot vanished. Aisha looked up in time to see one last Cog kicked into oblivion, courtesy of Jason. Then, only the five teenagers remained on the field.

"Whew! So much for the Cogs!" said the former Red Ranger. Trini and Aisha grinned as they caught their breath.

Zack took a moment to survey the area. Off to his right, he could just see the looming forms of CyberKitty and the Zeo Megazord, still embroiled in battle. On his left was the research clinic, and the village beyond it. As his gaze wandered over the village, Zack noticed a flash of movement in the doorway of the main community hut. "Whoa… what's that?"

Kimberly bounded up beside him, and squinted in the direction of the village. "What's what?" she asked, puzzled.

"Over there…" Zack trailed off as he pointed to the hut. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but he could have sworn he'd seen something.

Aisha shrugged. "Probably one of the villagers."

Jason frowned. Aisha was probably right. He had a funny feeling, though… and if he and Zack both thought something was up… "We'd better check it out," he said.

The five teens headed down to the village at a quick jog.

Rachel backed up slowly as a pair of Cogs advanced on her. There was no way around them, and she could see now that running inside had been a mistake. Her mind was racing, but no options presented themselves. The Cogs kept approaching, forcing her farther and farther back until she could feel the rough straw of the hut's wall poking her through her T-shirt. If she hadn't been so frightened, she might actually have laughed at the sheer insanity of being cornered in a round hut.


She looked up expectantly as she heard someone outside calling her name. "Rachel, are you in he—" Billy dashed into the hut, stopping short when he saw the Cogs. "Hey!"

Both Cogs turned at Billy's shout, and Rachel seized her opportunity. Turning toward the Cog on the right, she kicked it in the rear as hard as she could. The robot toppled forward, and Rachel tried to dart away. Unfortunately, the other Cog had been alerted by the noise, and it caught her around the waist.

"Hey, let me go!" she yelled, kicking and struggling in the robot's grasp. Billy started forward to help her, but was intercepted by the other Cog. Two more of the robots appeared behind him, cutting him off from the exit. "Rachel, the wiring!" he shouted.

Rachel reached blindly back and clawed desperately at her captor's neck. Before she managed to do any damage, though, it grabbed her arms and pinned them down to her sides.

At the same time, the other three Cogs made their move on Billy. He instinctively reached out for the blue flame, but there was nothing for it to draw on. He was on his own. He lashed out at the Cogs behind him and managed to sweep one's stance, but then the one Rachel had kicked fired its eyebeams at him. Billy rolled to avoid the energy blast and ended up crouched against the wall.

"Something tells me that was a really bad idea," he muttered, as he looked up to see the Cog looming over him.

Rachel watched helplessly from across the room as the robot fired at Billy again. Its second blast didn't miss, and Billy cried out in pain as the bolt of energy struck him. Dazed, he crumpled to the ground, and looked close to losing consciousness. Rachel struggled desperately against the Cog that held her, knowing there was no way she could break free in time to help Billy.

The Cog took another step toward the semiconscious teen.

"Leave him alone, junk pile!"

Rachel and all the Cogs looked up to see Trini, Jason, Aisha, Zack, and Kimberly standing in the doorway.

Trini's dark eyes flashed with pure fury, and she ran straight for the Cog that had attacked Billy. Abandoning anything that might be called 'technique,' she tackled the robot to the ground and tore viciously into its shoulder.

While Jason and Zack faced off with the other two Cogs, Kim and Aisha ran for Rachel. Kim attacked Rachel's captor from its left, forcing it to loosen its grip on its prisoner in order to defend itself. Then, Aisha sent it sprawling with a flying side kick from the right. Kimberly picked up a medium-sized rock from the fire pit in the center of the hut, and brought it down on the fallen Cog's neck with a metallic crash. It shorted out and vanished as Aisha helped Rachel up.

"That was some close call, girl!"

Rachel heaved a sigh of relief. "You're telling me!" Jason and Zack quickly disposed of the remaining Cogs, and everyone gathered around Trini, who was cradling Billy in her lap.

"Is he all right?" Kim asked worriedly.

"Unnnhhh… E equals mc squared," Billy mumbled, his eyes half-closed.

Jason laughed. "I think he'll be just fine."

In the open savanna outside the village, the Zeo Rangers and CyberKitty were finding themselves a pretty even match. Both had held the upper hand at various times, but after several minutes of combat, neither had gained a clear advantage.

Tommy was beginning to get uneasy. He liked to keep Zord battles short because of the damage they caused and the risk to civilians… and, of course, he hadn't forgotten what cost them the ThunderZords two years earlier.

As if reading Tommy's mind, CyberKitty neatly sidestepped a kick from the Megazord and stepped back. "All right, no more pussyfooting around!" The lion-monster let out a grating, metallic roar, and a shock wave of sonic energy slammed into the Megazord like a freight train. CyberKitty laughed as the robot stumbled to the ground.

"Two can play that game!" Rocky shouted angrily as the Megazord righted itself. "Zeo Three battle helmet, power up!"

"I don't think a new hat is going to do you much good, Rangers!" CyberKitty said with a scornful laugh.

"We'll just see about that," replied Zeo Ranger Three, punching a button. A powerful tractor beam emanated from the pyramid-shaped battle helmet, knocking the monster several hundred feet backwards.

"Oh, so you wanna play rough, huh?" CyberKitty got up and charged headlong at the Megazord.

"Oh, don't make me laugh," Kat scorned, rolling her eyes. The blue beam of energy engulfed CyberKitty and lifted it high into the air, then dropped it. Again and again, the helpless monster was bashed into the ground, until it lay in a limp heap at the Megazord's feet.

"Let's finish this," said Adam. He knew Rocky tended to get somewhat pyramid-happy, and he could well imagine the earthquake the village must be going through as a result.

Tommy nodded. "Right. Back to Warrior Mode!" The Zeo Five battle helmet slid back into position, and Tommy resumed his normal post at the main console.

"Zeo Megazord Saber, now!" he ordered.

Somehow, even lying on the ground and faced with the Megazord's mightiest weapon, CyberKitty managed to retain its sarcasm. "Ooh, I'm real scared," it jeered.

"You should be," Adam shot back as the saber powered up.

"You're going back to your cage, CyberKitty!" said Tommy. The glowing saber sliced downward in a great arc, cleaving the monster from left shoulder to right hip. It let out a roar of agony and exploded into a million flaming chunks that disappeared before they hit the ground.

"Yeah!" the Rangers cheered, and exchanged high-fives as the light from the explosion faded.

"I just hope C.C. is really all right," said Tanya with concern.

"Yeah," agreed Kat, "and I hope the others didn't have too much trouble with the Cogs."

"Well, there's only one way to find out," said Tommy. He keyed the exit code, and the Zeo Rangers vanished in five streaks of light.

Queen Machina watched disbelievingly as the victorious Power Rangers demorphed and joined their friends in the village. How they had managed to defeat her mighty CyberKitty was beyond her comprehension.

Machina's disbelief turned to fury when she spotted Billy among the group of humans. He smiled wearily at some comment, and the Queen nearly broke her fan in rage. The young genius looked somewhat battered, but he was alive, blast it! The Cogs had failed again!

Just when the Queen thought she couldn't get any angrier, a small golden-brown creature appeared in the edge of the viewer. It was quickly snatched up in the arms of the smiling Pink Ranger, and soon the confused little lion cub was being petted and fussed over by the entire crowd of young people.

"Noooo!" Machina shrieked. "I can't believe this! Not only did the Rangers defeat my glorious monster and save their friend, but they saved their disgusting pet, too?!"

She rounded suddenly on Klank, who had the unfortunate luck to be standing nearby. "This was your idea, Klank! You said the Rangers wouldn't even touch it! You said it would be unstoppable!"

"Ah, I'm afraid ye'll have to excuse me, Yer Majesty," Klank said quickly. "I believe they're a-needin' me in the recyclin' center." He bolted from the room.

"Klank!" Machina screamed after him. "Get back here, you mutinous rust-bucket!"

"Watch your oil pressure, dear!" a voice admonished. Machina whirled at the voice and saw Mondo standing in a nearby doorway. The Machine King chuckled at his near-perfect imitation of his wife.

"Why, you… Ooh!" Machina stamped a foot angrily, then turned on her heel and left the room in a huff.

"I see I didn't miss much." King Mondo crossed the room and gazed down at the cloud-swirled Earth below… the planet that had once again slipped through his grasp. One day, he swore, that planet would be his.

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