Morph Thirty-Nine: True Blue to the RescueWhen shadows fall, evil reigns,
"Poor, poor Eme," whispered Ame. "Having trouble?"
Max charged yet again, raising his transformed left hand. Mightyena's jaws snapped at thin air yet again, as Ame danced through her tangible form once more. She phased out her chest and stomach so Ma's hand would pass through her, then lifted her own fist to knock him on the ground. 415 got behind her and grabbed Ame's arms, but she simply phased again and sent 415 sprawling.
Max jumped back up to his feet. "Not a chance," he grunted. "415, you alright?"
"I am unaffected," she replied and rose from the floor. "We require strategy."
"There is no strategy that will help you," said Ame. "I am a perfect soul. You cannot harm a perfect soul."
"You're no saint," grumbled Max. He threw another punch, that Ame simply dodged, but then he threw another, and another, trying to reach any piece of her that was tangible. "You've killed. You've maimed. You've done terrible things. What gives you the right to think you're perfect like—"
"You?" she asked, and phased through him to get behind him. "You are not so special. You kill. You maim. The question is only who you believe deserves to be killed. I have never touched any of your friends personally."
"That's a big stretch!" He grunted, and ignored the fact that Ame had dug her boot into his kidney. He spun around and grabbed for her. He caught one piece of her and swung her across the room. "You just stood there and let it happen! Nothing you say is going to make me feel sorry for you! Boo hoo, I'm a bad guy! You had a choice! I had one!"
Ame simply floated back down to the ground, using her intangible form to drift through the air. "You think that is due to your resolve? Your courage?" She shook her head. "You retain your freedom because of me, little Eme. If I had not had a hand in your creation, you would be standing by my side massacring this woman you care for. This weak and feeble human that would die by your side."
Mightyena's jaws snapped and it licked its teeth. "Liar. You think I would hurt my family?" asked Max. "Not a chance in the world."
Ame tilted her head. "Your definition of family is hardly original," she replied. She ran towards him and he watched her hand pass through his armor before he could move. "Where is Max Birch? Is he here?" He could feel, but at the same time not feel, his hand tightening around his heart. "If I materialize here, will he die? Or should I take his mind? Would that do the trick? Or…" Her visor hovered in front of the gleaming Dark Emerald on his chest. "Is this all that Max Birch is? Where does he end, and you begin, little Eme?"
"Dark Gem, brace for impact!" Max looked up, only to see 415 swing her Magnet Mace in a wide arc over her head and hurl the weapon directly towards Ame. The Dark Amethyst Ranger phased just before it touched her and it caught Max full in the chest, sending him flying into the wall. Then, just as suddenly as it arrived, the Magnet Mace faintly glowed and tore through the air, right back into the waiting grasp of its owner.
Max coughed under his helmet and climbed to his feet. "Much obliged," he muttered.
"As I suspected," said 415. "Dark Gem, she only has minimal control over her phasing! The remainder is an unconscious impulse that she cannot stop. She has to phase the moment her body perceives a threat, whether she wants to or not."
"…Perceptive," said Ame in a low voice. "I see your operation does have some intelligence behind it. No matter, the information does not aid you in any way."
"Incorrect," said 415. "There must be a finite amount of energy inside your Dark Amethyst." She turned to Max. "Focus your attacks on keeping her phased for longer periods of time. If the plan works, her energy will be drained to the point where she will be unable to continue and we will have an opening."
Max nodded and rushed forward. He kept his distance, constantly swiping at Ame to keep her phased. 415 had been right. Ame struggled, trying to move away, which was made even more difficult by the fact that 415 joined Max in keeping her phased, not giving her a moment's respite.
"Is it working?" Max shouted. He released Grovyle to absorb its body and morph his arm into a replica of its face. He fired Bullet Seed at the Dark Amethyst Ranger.
"Her movements are growing more erratic," announced 415. "We may be able to—"
Ame materialized herself just long enough to smash Max's neck into pulp. Max dropped to the ground and began gurgling while he waited for his neck to regenerate. He twitched, and 415 halted her assault for just a brief moment.
A brief moment that Ame needed. She bent over Max and pressed her boot against Max's neck. "I doubt he will move if I continue to break his neck," she said. "Do not move, or his head will come off."
415 froze. "Remove yourself from him," she ordered.
Ame tilted her head. "No, I think not, Ranger Black. Why not let me kill him? Is he not just a filthy Dark Gem like I? I thought your little group sought an end to our kind."
"I…" 415 looked down on Max, feeble Max who was trying so hard to breathe with his shattered windpipe. "He is not your kind," she decided. "He is not your kind. He is mine. He is my Dark Gem and you will relinquish him to me!"
Max faintly heard a soft humming flow through the air. His neck was strong enough to shift just enough to the left so he could see a giant cloud of steam escaping from her neck, arms, and leggings. Her armor was folding back, revealing soft blue glowing plates of energy between the black sections of her suit.
"What is that?" asked Ame.
The transformation concluded and 415 observed herself. She lifted her hand to see the faint glow on her fingers, then she turned and looked back at Ame. "Rescue Mode," she replied. "It appears you have triggered enough motivation for me to activate it."
"You required motivation?"
"Most do not. They require a bond between ranger spirit and ranger. However, my ranger system was modified by Bakaguru Niwa before his death to function only in the event certain conditions were met with my life support monitoring equipment."
"If I may be clichéd, I believe he designed my system to activate upon a realization of 'love'," she explained. "It does not matter at any rate. What matters is its function and that it is active."
"What can it possibly do to stop me?"
The lights glowed just a little bit brighter. "A demonstration would be more useful than a description," she replied. Ame was forced to phase out of corporeality when a metal pipe fell from the ceiling right through her body. Then the pipe shot back up, floating in midair through her body, keeping her phased. Ame was forced to run away from it, allowing Max time to finally recover.
415 approached him and offered a hand. "Must I do this all on my own, Dark Gem?" she asked, with a hint of sarcasm in the tone of her voice.
Max took her arm and hoisted himself back onto his feet. "Does this mean you're in love with me?" he asked.
"Please do not make me behead you," she retorted. "Concentrate on the task at hand."
"So what is this new thing? Something with magnets?"
"Correct," she replied. "It appears the plates can generate electromagnetic fields, granting me the ability to control metal. Now come, it appears the battle will shortly turn in our favor."
"Is that what you think is going to happen?" asked Ame. "You think a simple upgrade is enough to save you? Let me be clear: you pathetic weaklings have tried and tried so hard to stop us, and you keep thinking that upgrading your powers is the key to defeating me? When your Ranger Gold stopped Top, did his newfound powers save him from Dia? Your powers do not make you capable of defeating us." She clicked her claws together. "We are stronger than you. We are faster than you. And I am done pretending you have any chance of leaving here alive."
She ran towards them and, before they could stop her, she phased both of her hands inside their bodies. Ame's left hand pierced the Dark Emerald, freezing Max in his tracks, and Ame's left hand phased through and surrounded 415's still-beating heart.
"If I return to corporeality, do you know what will happen?" she asked. "Your molecules will move to accommodate mine. The Dark Emerald will explode. Your heart will burst. And this will be over."
Max grinned underneath his visor. "But you're not corporeal," he said. He fell backwards, just fast enough to dodge the hand. 415 followed suit, just barely avoiding the loss of her heart.
"We're at a stalemate, Ame," said Max. "You can try that trick again, but we're not just going to stand around waiting for you to explode our chests. And you're just going to keep phasing. The difference is that we can keep moving, but you're going to run out of steam."
"Interesting hypothesis," she retorted. "Care to put it to the test?"
415 twirled her weapon into attack position. "Gladly," she murmured.
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They were out of time.
Brock knew that the fire was going to catch up to them. He could still hear the fighting going on upstairs, so he knew that Serena was still holding off that monster Charon. He knew that the ranger systems had a life support system built into their suits, so the fire would not harm her. But it was going to harm him, and it would eventually harm Sarah, who was currently holding on to him as tightly as he could manage.
Brock lowered himself until he was on eye level with the little girl. "Come on, Sarah," he said. "We need to get out of here."
Sarah shook her head. "Not until Aunt Serry is safe!" she shouted.
Brock looked anxiously at the door. He had locked them in the bathroom and done what he could to lock it, but the smoke was starting to creep in underneath the little space near the floor. "We don't have that option. We need to wait for your dad. He can help her. We can't."
"We can," Sarah insisted and pulled out the blue morpher. "If we can turn this on, we can go and help her. Bakaguru promised that it was strong enough."
"Bakaguru promised it was strong enough to fight someone he hadn't met before?" asked Brock.
"You know what I mean! He said it was the strongest, even stronger than Dad's."
"From what I hear, that's sort of hard to do," said Brock.
"Dad has a lot of gadgets," Sarah explained. "But Bakaguru said that this one was as strong as Dad on his own, stronger even! We just need a Pokemon to turn it on!"
"Well, it's not going to be you," said Brock. "You don't have a Pokemon registered to you, you're not old enough. Why does it need a Pokemon?"
Sarah shrugged. "Everybody just uses Pokemon. It makes a suit based off the 'ranger spirit' or something. Is that why I can't turn it on? It blinks when I touch it."
Brock took the morpher from her. "Look," he said, "we can't rely on this. Even if you got this to work, even if you transformed, what could you do? You're a little girl, Sarah. You're not a superhero. You've handled more than most your age, I'll give you that, but you're still a kid. You're almost nine. You can't do an adult's job. I want to save Serena as much as you do, but you're not going to be the one to do it!"
Sarah just stared at him, as though she were scheming away at something. "Fine," she said, finally. "You do the adult's job."
"Beg pardon, Sarah?" asked Brock.
She jerked the morpher away from him and attached it to his wrist. "Fine. If I can't use it, then you do it. Someone has to go save Aunt Serry, we can't count on my dad to save everybody. Turn into a ranger and go upstairs and save her."
"Sarah, I can't just—"
"Lock sequence, initiated." Some strange voice issued from the morpher and he felt it clamp down hard on his wrist. Brock grabbed it and tried to dislodge it, but all he succeeded in accomplishing was scuffing up his hand.
Sarah smirked. "It's already attached itself. PKM Morphers stick to their rangers. Now you have to go save Aunt Serry!"
Brock glared at her. "I can barely walk here! You think I can be a superhero?"
She nodded. "I think you can be my hero. And Aunt Serry's. If you want to be."
Brock looked around. "But…but I'm a doctor. I save lives, I heal Pokemon. I don't have it in me to fight anymore. I'm not even young enough to…to do anything. All I ever did was take up space, resources."
He looked at his hands, the hands that had healed so many of the sick, who had saved so many so close to death. And then he looked up at the little girl in front of him who suddenly did not seem so little anymore. He looked up into her dark, powerful eyes, eyes that burned deep into his soul. Eyes he had seen on her father so long ago. Eyes that had led him to follow his dreams, discover his calling, and meet so many friends along the way.
What was one more trip? How could he say no after all 0 had done for him, all 0 had sacrificed to keep him safe? And how could he refuse one little girl asking him to save someone with his healing hands?
He curled up those healing hands into fists and saw her reach down and hold them tightly. Her hands looked so small compared to his. He looked into her eyes, which now felt so much bigger than his own. "Please," she begged him, "Please save Aunt Serry. Please keep her safe until my daddy comes."
He smiled. "I would follow your father to Hell and back," he said. "Just don't expect too much out of me, okay? I can do a diversion, but I can't promise a miracle."
Sarah smiled. "You'll need a Pokemon. A strong one, too."
"I've got just the one." Brock opened up Swampert's Poke Ball, which exploded in a dazzling array of light and summoned the blue and orange swamp monster into the bathroom.
"Pert!" it shouted, noticing all the smoke. It sniffed at the air and issued another grunt of concern, smelling the fire outside the door.
"I know," said Brock. He held up the morpher, and Swampert eyed it warily. "We have to use this. Sarah wants to let us use it and save Serena. But it, I think it's permanent. You won't be able to come back, I don't think. Neither will I, come to think of it. But we've got to do it. Can you help?"
Swampert stamped its feet on the ground and issued a confident bellow that shook the adjacent stalls.
Brock turned to Sarah. "I think that means yes," he said.
"Then capture it with the morpher. Point its front side and press the button in the center."
Brock raised the morpher and pressed the button, expecting Swampert to disappear in a flash of light, just like when he used its Poke Ball. Instead, nothing happened. Swampert remained visible and the morpher started beeping.
"Unauthorized access detected. Please return the Ailed Morpher to its registered operator."
"What is it talking about?" asked Sarah. "It can't come off someone once it's attached. Work, you!" Sarah almost reached over and slapped the morpher, but Brock withdrew his arm just in time.
"Authorization accepted. Identifying Birch, Sarah as registered operator. Please capture a Pokemon for conversion."
Brock held out his hand. "I think you might have to do the capturing for me," said Brock. "Why can't I use it?"
Sarah shrugged. "Wait, Bakaguru. Maybe he made it to protect me, so he made it so I could use it. That must be why he told me to keep it safe!" She reached over to press the button. The capture worked and Swampert vanished in a stream of light and data. The morpher locked briefly while it generated Brock's suit out of Swampert's data. When it unlocked, its color transformed from a bright azure to a dark blue with orange stripes.
"Ranger Spirit operational, system ready for activation."
Brock looked to Sarah, who still had her hand on the trigger button. "You ready to save the world?" he asked with a nervous grin.
She returned his grin and chuckled. "Let's save them, Uncle Brock," she said.
He put his finger on hers. "On the count of three, then."
"One," she said.
He replied, "two."
The transformation was not instantaneous, that was the first thing he noticed. A vast amount of blue light poured out of the little morpher and summoned what looked like the bulk of a new armor system, only it was so much larger than anything he had seen the others wear, save for the wings 0 sometimes had from time to time. It clamped down on him hard, fastening across his neck, chest, and head. He vaguely felt pieces strap themselves to his crotch and back, but nothing was emerging to cover his legs.
That was when his pants and shirt simply vanished and he was left with the metallic facsimiles of his arms and legs. Then they changed color, turning mostly blue but with splashes of orange everywhere. And they expanded, growing to accommodate his new girth. When the transformation was over, and the light finally faded away, Brock felt more like a tank than he ever had in his life.
He took a step forward to observe himself in the mirror. He noticed he looked similar to 415 and Serena, except where there had been black for Serena and blue for 415 in areas such as the visor and emblem, Brock had orange. Also, unlike them, he had grown. He must have been at least eight feet tall, possibly taller, though he could not be sure. He had definitely gained at least two feet in height. He had an orange visor shaped like an upside down triangle. He had the face of an orange Swampert pressed to the front of his breastplate. He had an orange belt, and orange stripes along his arms and legs. He looked down and wiggled his now-massive toes, and could only think of one thing to describe himself.
"Cool," he said with a grin under his new helmet. He noticed that the helmet was already beginning to smell like him, and that if this was going to becoming a recurring element of his life that he needed to invest in some new shampoo. And breath mints.
He turned to Sarah, noticing something strange. "How can I move so easily right now?" he wondered.
Sarah shrugged. "Doesn't matter! We have to go help Aunt Serry!"
"Right!" shouted Brock. "But first I'm dropping you off outside. Need to keep you safe too."
Sarah nodded, and watched with glee as Brock battered down the bathroom door with a simple tap before they made their escape.
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After a few minutes of uncertainty as to where the front door was located, Brock just decided it would be smarter to make his own. He accomplished this by pointing himself in the direction of the wall that seemed the closest way out, and ran right through it. The cement just fell away like it was construction paper and, in next to no time, he found himself safely outside with Sarah in tow.
"Sarah?" shouted someone to his immediate left. He turned and, to his astonishment, discovered 0 and May standing in front of him with a look of immense confusion. May was in 0's arms, 0 was transformed, and there were sparks of electricity zapping all around his uniform, suggesting that they had just used Agility to arrive on the scene.
"Mom! Dad!" Sarah shouted, and bounded towards them. 0 set May on the ground and she grabbed her daughter in a tight embrace.
"Are you okay?" asked May. "Hurt?"
"Uh…Sarah? What is that?" asked 0, as he pointed directly at Brock's gigantic armor.
Brock looked down at 0. "I'm a that?" asked Brock incredulously. "Your daughter's the reason I'm wearing this suit right now."
"In the flesh…er, armor, er, yes," he replied.
"How? When did we have a blue morpher?"
Brock looked to Sarah, who explained. "Bakaguru gave it to me, but I couldn't get it to work. Aunt Serry's up there and she's in trouble, so I wanted to help. I gave the morpher to Brock."
"Guys," said Brock, "if we could save the catching up for later, we need to go find Serena. She's upstairs and she's all alone with Charon."
0 nodded. "Pi, scan for her." A few seconds later, 0 nodded and ran into the building. "Come on, Brock! We might as well see if that retro suit you have is any good!"
Brock lumbered back into the building and started running. He found that he was moving slowly, but was able to build up a nice momentum.
"They're through this wall!" shouted 0, gesturing to a room with a torn-off door. "Ram it!"
Brock nodded. He picked up speed and smashed through another wall, plowed directly into Charon, and body slammed him out another wall and onto the ground outside. Brock then turned to Serena, who looked battered but not beaten.
"Hubba hubba," she muttered. "Right in the nick of time, blue boy."
"It's actually Brock," said 0.
"They sure grow them big in Kanto, don't they?" she asked. Brock immediately felt uncomfortable and turned away.
"No time for flirting!" shouted 0. "Here he comes! Brock, download your weapon for backup!"
"Weapon?" Charon leapt into the room just as Brock asked his question.
"Three against one is soooooooo unfair!" he screeched. He decided to handle the situation by delivering a punch that smashed 0 against one of the few remaining walls in the room.
"0 means your primary weapon," explained Serena. "All rangers have at least one. Have your Pokemon download it for you so use." She then joined in the fray, diverting Charon's attention with a punch that froze half of Charon's back.
"Primary weapon," muttered Brock. "What does that mean?"
"I think I can answer that," said a voice that sounded exactly like his Swampert.
"That you, Swampert?"
"Indeed it is. And here is your weapon."
Brock's arms started glowing, and he felt something in his fingers that he could grip. Twin giant cannons appeared, colored blue and orange, and affixed themselves to his gauntlets. Brock stared at them for a moment, unsure of exactly what they were.
"What are these?"
"Hydro Pumps," Swampert explained. "Press the trigger attached to your hands and they will fire pressurized water at any target."
"You gave me super soakers?" asked Brock incredulously. "What about a sword? Or something equally cool?"
"Sorry, this was what showed up," and Swampert, and then it fell silent again.
Brock shrugged and pointed his left Hydro Pump at Charon, who was busy dividing his attention between 0 and Serena. "Might as well try them," he muttered, and then squeezed the trigger.
Water erupted out of his arm at a speed which slammed Brock right into the adjacent wall, forcing him to steady himself to compensate for the recoil. Swampert had not done the weapon justice. Water blasted out and tore straight through the room to batter Charon senselessly against the ground. Brock grunted, as the force required to keep his arm stable grew too difficult, and he shut off the water.
Charon, dripping wet, climbed to his feet in utter confusion. "What is this thing?" asked Charon. "Ranger Blue was never this powerful."
"I'd guess Bakaguru updated it," said Serena. "And it borrowed Brock's prosthetics in order to generate a giant exosuit. Brock's made it a tank."
Charon started roaring. "I am not losing to an idiot, a harlot, and a rookie!" He rushed up and tried to punch Brock, but Brock just turned both pumps on again and sent Charon flying through a hole in the wall.
"Ever notice that he seems to do a lot of flying through open spaces?" asked 0.
"Yep, I think we can take him," said Serena. "Just need a strategy."
"I've got one." 0 turned to Brock. "Now, what we need is some teamwork. When he comes back, soak him again, then get ready for some fireworks. Serena, ice him once I've weakened him."
"How is that going to happen?" asked Brock.
"No time! Now!"
When Charon ran back into the room this time, he was ready. Brock head steadied himself and prepared for the recoil, unleashing both pumps of water as quickly as he was able. Charon dodged, but his evasion was temporary, as all Brock had to do was twitch his arms to make sure that Charon smashed into a wall covered with water. The blast was so powerful that, for a moment, Brock feared he had given the man whiplash, and Charon took too long recovering from the blasts.
0 stepped in and grabbed Charon by the neck. Lightning shot out from his body, short-circuiting what was left of the electrical grid in the hotel. "Now," he muttered, "let's see you dodge this. Synchronization Drive: Volt Tackle!"
0 screamed, but Charon shrieked with agony as his soaked body was shot with enough electricity to power several small cities. Brock winced as the man convulsed into spasms. 0 held the charge for as long as he was absolutely able, and then released the last of his electricity. Charon collapsed, apparently unable to withstand the internal assault as well as he had the other beatings he had taken.
0 turned to Serena. "Finish him," he said. Serena nodded and began selectively freezing Charon, making it impossible for him to move. The water dampened his body, making it even easier to generate the ice that would keep him still. Finally, Serena froze over the Dark Ruby, just as Charon was about ready to come around.
"What's going on?" he murmured. "What are you doing?"
"What does it look like?" asked 0. He snapped his fingers, and a small sword materialized in his hand. "I haven't used this in a while, might as well try it out to make sure no one takes Bakaguru's stuff for their own stupid causes again."
"You can't kill me," Charon whispered. "I have the Dark Ruby. I have their bodies."
"Doesn't matter what you have," said 0. "What matters is that we won."
"Haven't…won…anything," Charon growled. "Bakaguru never wins. Neither will his children." He looked up and glared at the three of them. "I am not dying like this! I am not losing to some idiots who think they can defy me because of the whims of a dead old man!"
0 laughed. "Guess again," he said. Then he stabbed Charon right through the Dark Ruby.
"I am not dying like this!"
Brock shuddered underneath his armor. 0's blade failed to pierce the Dark Ruby, it failed to pierce anything. The tip hanged just in front of the Dark Ruby, so close to its surface, but a violent force came streaming out of the evil thing and knocked 0 to the ground. 0 recovered, but the ice that had bound Charon was beginning to crack, everything about him looked like it was on fire. Brock thought he might explode.
"What's happening?" shouted 0. "What's happening?"
"I don't know!" shouted Serena. "I thought Dark Gems only had three forms! It looks like an evolution, but that's impossible!"
"You fools and your little hopes and dreams," whispered Charon, in an unearthly tone that shook Brock to the core. "You think you can come in here and kill me? The man who gave you everything? The man who made you who you are today? The man that combined the science and technology of that imbecile Niwa and the almighty powers of the Dark Gems? Did you really think anything about this was going to be easy?"
His claws clicked together, and the light just vanished. Charon looked unchanged, but there was something about him, something so menacing, that it made Brock sick to his stomach. It was like some sort of ooze that filled the air, making it difficult to breathe, to think…
"Interesting," murmured Charon. "Oh, very interesting." He turned to the rangers. "I'm afraid your murder will have to be postponed. I need to see exactly what this new evolution is. But you don't mind that, do you? You'll wait for me, won't you?"
"What happened to you?" 0 grunted, struggling to his feet.
"Isn't it obvious? I evolved, far beyond anything your feeble minds could comprehend."
"You can't evolve. You were already in Shattered Form. There's no way you could have done it."
Charon walked over and caressed 0's cheek, with 0 powerless to stop him. "How strange then, because I could have sworn I just did. Oh well, guess I'd better get to the fun and whatnot. See you around, rangers." And then he was gone, just like the light. He vanished without a trace, leaving just the three rangers in the room alone.
0 instantly stood up, now that the miasma had vanished. "What was that?" he asked, short of breath.
Brock shrugged. "No idea, but we've gotta go find him. If he tries to attack someone now—"
0 shook his head. "We need to rally the team. We need Max and 415. The four of us can handle anything. We can handle this new evolution."
"Five," Serena corrected, and walked over to Brock. "Don't forget we've got a fancy new giant piledriving machine over here."
Brock rubbed the back of his helmet. "I really didn't do much," he pointed out. "I just hit him with a super soaker."
0 shook his head. "You did good for your first day. Let's hope Sarah was right and this stays a good idea." He turned to Serena. "We need to get in touch with Max and 415. Where are they?"
Serena opened up Elgyem's Poke Ball. "I'll find out," she said, and placed her hands on the Pokemon. Brock and 0 waited for a minute, noticing that Serena's body language was turning rigid. Serena shut off communication and recalled the Pokemon.
"What is it?" asked 0.
"We have to go. Ame has them cornered and they're in trouble."
0 nodded. "Let's collect May and Sarah and roll out."
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"We near the end," whispered Ame, shifting her attention from one ranger to the other.
Max was ragged. The gleam in his Dark Emerald was beginning to fade. His armor had ceased to glow, and his regenerations were taking longer and longer. 415 was not much better off, though she stubbornly refused to even hint at weakness. Still, Max could see that the fire was beginning to die out. She was taking a second longer to respond here, or fumbled there. It was not much, but it was far from the perfection she ordinarily practiced in the field.
"The time draws near, Eme, for you to embrace our fold through my flesh," she murmured. "There will be no more pain, no more sorrow. No more trials, no more fear. Just bliss and satisfaction. If you surrender now, I will even spare your love. She may walk away as she pleases until the end comes for us all. I offer you this because I am bored. I am bored with your struggle to survive. I wish to be complete."
"Then you're gonna have to work for it," growled Max.
415 nodded. "I will not be deprived of him. Ergo, you will not succeed."
"But a few mistakes on your behalf separate me from my goal," Ame replied. "Eventually, all fall before my feet. Why do you think I never needed to fight before this day? There would have been no point, no challenge, and all of you would have vanished from my sight long ago."
"If that's true, then why didn't you just do it?" asked Max. "We could have been finished a long time ago."
Ame shrugged. "It…amused me to watch your antics. Besides, I do not decide when I may act. My contract does. And, at this moment, my contract states that one of us must be absorbed, Eme. So, which of us will it be?"
Max's body flashed jade. "I'm not going anywhere."
Ame lifted her hand, and invited him forward with a wag of her finger. "Come prove it."
Max roared and charged forward. There was no strategy, only instinct. He ripped through her and tore at the air she was always forced to become when someone, anyone, touched her. He kept her moving, leaving her no time to phase back and no time to materialized inside of him. He was a machine, a horrible machine struggling to keep his life.
In those moments, Max became the Dark Emerald Ranger. He could feel the tug, the sensation, of having the Dark Gem whisper to him again. Their final evolution would be assured, it whispered, if only they could stop Ame. Then, they would have all the power they would even need to protect 415. They could keep her safe, forever.
Max was uncertain. He did not want to evolve. There was always danger in evolving…in changing…into something new. They had made it through the first time, but he had never seen a sane Dark Gem in their Shattered Form. He might have fought off their influence when his gem was young, but that did not make him an exception to anything.
Ame noticed his uncertainty and attacked. She materialized just long enough to send him into a world of pain, getting behind him and striking at his kidneys. Max fell to the ground and found he could not move. She had hit something else, some nerve that was making it impossible for him to even turn over.
"Foolish child," she said. "You let the gem sway you. You forgot that I cannot be defeated with a few karate chops and kicking. It is always so with the young. Now to shatter your gem and feast on your remnants."
"You will not touch him!" screamed 415. The metal in the ceiling tore itself from its hinges and started attacking Ame, forcing her to retreat.
"Your sentiments will bring you nothing but sorrow when I consume him, young one," said Ame.
Ame and Max froze, turning their attentions to Ranger Gold and those who surrounded him. Standing near him were Serena and May, naturally, with Sarah secured in his arms, but behind them was a giant behemoth in blue armor. A Ranger Blue. 0 stood completely defenseless, but with every molecule of his being emanating a feeling that he had no qualms whatsoever about destroying absolutely everything in front of him.
"Ranger Gold," murmured Ame. "This is a duel between myself and the master of the Dark Emerald. Do not interfere."
0 shook his head. "This isn't a duel, it's an exercise in futility. Max and 415 are just going to keep battering away at you until there's nothing left of them. Then you can take what you want, isn't that right?" He turned to Max. "She's never going to run out of steam. There's no way for you to win this through brute force. She's just not built like that."
"Then what am I supposed to do?" asked Max.
"Nothing. But I can do something." He set his daughter on the ground and reached for a brown Poke Ball on his belt. He casually inserted it into his morpher and shifted into Towl Form. His helmet shifted from its normal oval shape into one that looked closer to that of a Noctowl's face.
Then he turned his face towards Ame, and chuckled. "Time to shake up this party," he muttered. "Synchronization Drive: Foresight."
A surge of red energy poured out from 0's visor and draped itself all over Ame. When the light faded away, 0 folded his arms and chuckled. "Max, I think you'll find she won't be so hard to hit now. I've disabled those fancy ghost tricks of hers."
"You…did what?" Ame lifted her hand and tried to sink it through her chest, but discovered that she was completely solid. "I am tangible?"
"Game over," said Max, turning towards her. "Without your fancy trick, there's no way you stand a chance against me."
She shifted her gaze to him. "It would appear so, would it not?" Then, she nodded in satisfaction and said, "I can finally forfeit."
Max blinked. "W-What?" he asked.
She demorphed, and her armor melted away into her Dark Amethyst. "I have waited so long, little Eme, for this day." She stepped towards him and Max flinched, but did not dare step away. She raised her hand and cupped the side of his helmet. "I have waited so long for this to be over." She was smiling.
"What're you talking about?" he asked.
"I can finally fly away," she whispered. "Your friends can set me free."
"What is she talking about?" asked 415.
Ame turned to her. "And you, little girl, are the one to do it." She tilted her head. Suddenly, Ame started to change. Wrinkles grew out of the corners of her eyes, her purple hair gained strands of grey. She had always looked so young when they had seen her. Now, she looked like she was in her fifties.
"An effect of the Dark Amethyst," she explained. "It froze me in my prime all those years ago. Now, I am myself and, now, you can be told the truth."
0 and the rest approached her. "Aren't you trying to kill us?" he asked her.
Ame shook her head. "No, little ranger," she replied. "Not all of us are evil, not at first. Sap, yes. Dia truly was a monster, and I am certain Charon will find his way down that path, but not I. Not Top, either, now that I remember. I have resisted the longest. I am bound by my contract, but I am not evil."
Max demorphed. "Then why put us through all of this? Why make me the Dark Emerald Ranger? Why did you let Dia torture Brock? Why have you tried to kill us so many times? What's the point of any of it, if not to kill us?"
She began to cry, and rubbed the tears away. "Tears of joy, little Eme. I did all of this to prepare you. To prepare all of you, for what is coming. I had to make it convincing, otherwise I would have been lost and unable to aid you.
"When I began, I was young, foolish. I had a husband. I had a daughter. I had Pokemon. We were poor, and we had little, but we were happy. And then something took it all away. One day, when I was somewhere else, something came and destroyed my home. It set fire to my world, and burnt it all away. When I returned, there was nothing left. Nothing. All I had was my Haunter and my life. But not my heart and not my soul. Can you imagine what that does, to know that you could have done something, and to always wonder what it could have been?"
Ame smiled, and then turned away. "It eats at you. It consumes you, until you want nothing more than to hurt and hurt until there is nothing left. And they offered me that chance. They would let me hurt. They would make me powerful, so that I could do something about my pain. They gave me my Dark Amethyst. I signed their contract. My Haunter was sealed in here, just as your Gallade is sealed in there." Ame pointed to the small jade stone and the chain that stilled wrapped around Max's hand. "Only then did they tell me the truth. Only then did they tell me that the monster that took my daughter and my husband was one of them. A mistake, to be sure, but one of them."
"A Dark Gem ate your family?" asked 415.
"They thought I would not realize. Fools. I have conspired against them ever since, in order to make certain their plan would not succeed."
"What is their plan?" asked 0.
"Oblivion," said Ame. "They intend to rip apart this universe and damn us all to nothingness."
"But why? What's the point of any of it?"
Ame shrugged. "Question not the madman, only the circumstances that led them there. It does not matter, for I know of a way to stop them. It is the seven of you."
"The seven of us?" asked Max.
Ame nodded. "It is a rhyme, composed by the madman Nicholas Brine. It was he who brought the Dark Gems into this world, it is from his lips we may yet stop oblivion."
"My…grandfather?" asked Serena.
"Your ancestor," corrected Ame. "The name is hereditary. He crafted the Dark Gems in Orre, sacrificing every Pokemon within its borders to succeed. He wrote, towards the end of his life, how the Dark Gems may be defeated. He wrote:
And the Dark Gems arise
The shards of good will join behind
The Man of Golden Eyes.
When all is lost, hope is gone,
And the world seems naught by gloom
The Heroes Seven stand together
Amidst the coming doom.
Together now, they make their stand
In the Sun's shining hue
For only His Chosen One
Can make the world anew."
When she finished, she paused to look at each of them before settling again on Max. "When the war comes, little Eme, it will all fall on you." Then she turned to 415. "And when this prophesy comes to pass, you are the one who will keep his heart pure. Do you understand?"
Max nodded. "I think I do."
"You must. Otherwise—" Ame halted, drawing breath very quickly, then she clutched her stomach. "They found me. They know that I have betrayed them." She looked up. "This is goodbye, little Eme. I will die tonight."
"Silence! There is…no time for sentiments, not that you have any for the likes of me. Now listen: beware the Rangerlings. They will descend…like the plague from on high. You must not…" She groaned and fell to the ground. Max and the others rushed around her. "Must not…"
She looked up and saw that her Dark Amethyst was starting to crack. "No time. Shatter my Dark Amethyst and absorb its power. It is the only way to evolve you to your Shattered Form."
Max hesitated. "But I don't—"
"What you want is irrelevant, Eme!" she shouted. "If you do not absorb my Dark Amethyst, you will perish in battle and they will never be able to be stopped! Do it!"
"I can," said 415. She drew back her Magnet Mace and aimed for Ame's outstretched hand and the weakening gemstone. "If we succeed, he will live?"
Ame nodded weakly. "It is the only way for any of you to live."
415 took a deep breath, then smashed the stone into dust. Ame cried out in pain, clutching at her now-shattered hand, then realized she was disappearing. Her fingers were slowly turning to dust, and she turned to the others.
"You are nearing the end, Rangers Seven," she whispered. "Beware the Rangerlings. Beware the Dark Gold. All they require are a familial sacrifice. Should they obtain the Dark Gold, all will be lost for this world."
Max grinned. "It won't happen. We promise."
Ame smiled weakly. She was barely there. "I apologize for making you who you are, who many of you are. I-It was the only way to stop them." She turned and looked up at the ceiling. "At last, my love. I come at last."
She tried to breath, but her lungs were gone. Suddenly she simply vanished, leaving behind a trail of purple dust. The room fell silent.
Then, quite unexpectedly, something incredible happened. The dust that had once been Ame began moving, scattering itself about the floor, forming a circle around Max.
"Uh, guys? Might want to stand back," said Max. The others agreed and retreated to a safe distance. The dust started circling him, lifting off the ground, becoming a small purple tornado despite there being an absolute absence of wind in the building.
The Dark Emerald flashed, and Max stretched out his hand. In an instant, the purple tornado gleamed and dove into the gemstone, as if absorbed by a vortex. The light died down almost immediately after that, and then Max Birch stood surrounded by air, holding up his Dark Emerald against nothing.
No one moved for a while. "How do you feel?" asked 415 hesitantly.
Max looked himself over, and then shrugged. "Not much different. Still me in here."
415 lightly smacked him in the head. "Good. Keep yourself…normal," she said. She faced him, so none of the others would see the slightest sliver of a smile on her lips.
Brock and Serena demorphed, while 0 morphed to his human body. "What's the plan, boss man?" asked Serena, as she helped the now-unbalanced Brock stay on his feet.
"We handle this prophesy business later," said 0. "We can't think about stuff like that while we've got Charon on the loose. We find him first. We smash his gem. We make him regret he could ever warp Bakaguru's Master Morpher like that."
Serena's fingers clenched into fists. "Sounds good. How do we do that?"
0 turned to Brock. "With him, I think we've got a shot."
Brock blinked. "M-Me? How am I supposed to do anything?"
0 smiled. "We couldn't try it before, but now that we have five rangers, I bet we could pull it off no sweat. See, Pi and I have been working on a new trick for our Synchronization Drive. A way to pull off a new form that'll definitely rattle that blowhard. We just don't have the power for it on our own. But with three extra rangers, plus Max as a conduit, I think we stand a chance."
"Stand a chance at what?" asked 415.
"Stand a chance at some good, old-fashioned revenge, 415," he replied. "We just need to find Charon. Once we do, we just need enough time to pull off the greatest trick we've ever tried."
Max grinned. "Then what are we waiting for? Let's end this."
/¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯\ /¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯\ /¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯\
…Twenty-Five Years Ago…
"Tonight's the night."
Bakaguru grumbled and put on his backpack, which weighed approximately forty-five pounds but seemed to be dragging him down by about eighty. He tried his best to ignore his discomfort and clipped on the belt that would securely fasten him into the system. He checked a small monitor positioned on his right arm and nodded with satisfaction.
"The system is in range for the test," he confirmed.
Arthur and Terry had their own backpacks on, though they seemed to be handling the weight with more ease than Bakaguru could. Terry strapped his own system in and checked his status monitor. "Mine's ready to go!" he declared.
"As is mine," said Arthur. "We should move out, someone's liable to happen on us if we stay too long."
Bakaguru nodded. The hanger had served them well, and they had been wise to make use of it during the development process, but the longer they stayed the more they risked having the material confiscated. "Do we have everything we need?" he asked. After all, they would not be coming back.
Terry nodded. "I moved out everything we would still need. Put the rest in a nice little pile next to the explosives. Nobody's gonna be able to figure out what we did here, so there shouldn't be any risk of these gadgets getting made up by anyone else."
"Good work, Terry," said Arthur. "Now, let's get out of here and try these suits for ourselves."
Bakaguru grabbed the trigger on their way out. It would have been quite ridiculous to suppose the hanger would explode without taking it. When they got outside and into the familiar face of the garbage dump they'd hidden the hanger in, they started running as fast as they were able east of the trash heap. When they felt they were at a safe enough distance, Arthur and Terry stopped and turned to Bakaguru.
"You're sure, right?" asked Arthur. He glanced at his backpack. "You're sure these are going to work?"
Bakaguru nodded. "I am. Considering we were making them out of trash, in secret, on our own time, without any help from PKM, I am certain that all three will work perfectly."
"Then the honor is yours, my friend," said Arthur.
Bakaguru pressed the trigger, and they watched as a bright flare erupted in the distance, right underneath the setting sun. It was scarcely noticeable, and considering they were in the middle of a war zone it was hardly unexpected. Nobody would care that a trash heap was gone in the morning.
"Well," said Arthur, "shall we try these things out?"
"Yeah, I'm getting anxious," said Terry.
"Why?" asked Bakaguru. "You've already worn yours. You know it works."
"Yeah, but I was thinking that that doesn't mean much unless you've got your whole team with you." Terry gripped the trigger button and grinned broadly. "Let's do it!"
Arthur smiled and nodded. "Agreed. Bakaguru, you deserve the honor of transforming first," he said.
"Very well." Bakaguru pressed the trigger and winced as a small spike drilled into his wrist and took a blood sample. He heard the confirmation chime from the machine and felt the armor materialize around him. The backpack instantly lightened as the suit began taking on its share of the load. He felt the visor clamp over his face and he looked through it to his friends.
"Well?" he asked. "Does it suit me?"
Arthur offered a thumb's up. "Very much so. I think it's our turn, Terry." He pressed his own button and transformed.
Terry gave out a small bark of approval and pressed his trigger button. Golden and black armor surrounded him and clamped down just as it had with Bakaguru and Arthur. From a distance, they looked very similar, save for their color schemes. Arthur was covered primarily with red with blue highlights. Bakaguru's, on the other hand, was primarily orange with touches of silver.
They stared at one another for a moment or so, until Terry broke the silence by commenting, "Well, don't we all look nice?" He instantly froze, noticing that his voice sounded more like a robot than a human. "Wait, why do I sound like that?"
"Voice synthesizer," explained Bakaguru. "I figured soldiers equipped with the suits would prefer to remain anonymous while conducting military operations in them."
"Smart idea," said Arthur. "Come on, we should get moving. The enemy has a tendency to bomb everything it can spot after night falls."
Walking was somehow much easier, Bakaguru noted, as they traversed the landscape. It could have been for several reasons, possibly because the armor was helping him move much faster than normal, or possibly because he was elated. He had succeeded. The machine worked and the armor worked and everything worked just as he had intended it to. He had been right, which meant that PKM had been wrong. He glanced at his armor with every bit of the pride that it deserved to be showered in.
Then he had to divert his attention from his magnificent armor, because he and the others noticed a small explosion in the distance. Terry stopped, with Arthur and Bakaguru joining him shortly after.
"What happened?" he asked.
"Pretty nasty blast over there," Terry said, and he pointed to a clearing in the distance. Bakaguru could faintly see the outlines of three small buildings. "We should go check it out."
"Might not be a good idea," said Arthur. "We could damage the equipment."
Terry shrugged. "What good's a suit of armor if you can't use it to save people in burning buildings?" he asked, and then took off running in the direction of the building.
Arthur turned to Bakaguru. "You know, it's rather hard to argue with his logic," he said.
"Very well," said Bakaguru, and they followed him towards the small settlement.
There was not much left when they arrived. Just a few smoldering wreckages where there had once been homes. Terry stood in the center of the houses, staring at the smoke rising in the air.
He turned to them. "What happened?"
"I don't know," said Bakaguru. "We should find out. This doesn't look like the fallout from one of our bombs."
The three of them moved towards the first home, when suddenly Bakaguru noticed something out of the corner of his eye. It was so small and insignificant Bakaguru had to do a double-take before he realized what it was. "Guys," he said, and he pointed towards one of the other homes.
It was a little girl with a broken face, staring out of one of the windows.
"What the…" Bakaguru tried to say something, but Terry ignored him and took off running towards the house. "Hang on! We don't know what's in there!"
"Little girl's in a burning house!" shouted Terry. "All I need to know!"
"Come on, he'll get himself killed," said Arthur. He and Bakaguru followed through a hole that Terry made in the weakened front door. "Terry!"
"In here, guys!" he shouted. Bakaguru and Arthur followed Terry's voice into the other room. Terry was crouched over the little girl and picking her up. She wrapped her arms around his neck and stared at Bakaguru and Arthur.
Her face was practically gone. There was bruising, yes, but that did not even begin to describe what this girl had gone through. There were deep gashes across her cheeks, her lips were gone, and her eyes looked blank and weary, as though she had aged far, far too quickly. She had to have been no more than four years old, but her eyes looked closer to those Bakaguru had seen on veterans decades after their conflicts.
"What happened to her?" asked Bakaguru.
Terry shrugged. "Don't care. We gotta get her back to the base pronto. Maybe they can help her. She won't say anything, it's almost like she can't talk."
"We should find whoever did this and tear them apart," muttered Arthur.
"Hang on," said Bakaguru. He leaned in close, his visor was almost touching the girl's face. "Can you hear us? Can you tell us what happened to you?"
The little girl did not speak, but her eyes widened as far as she could make them. She began moving them, staring at something that was just behind Arthur and Bakaguru. Her mouth trembled and she began to shiver.
"New friends!" shouted something behind them, before something powerful slammed into Bakaguru and Arthur and threw them to the floor. Terry shouted and pushed the little girl behind him before he changed forward.
Bakaguru froze. It was a monster, a real monster. It was slobbering over the floor and stumbling around on its claws and talons, but it was a monster. Bakaguru shrieked and instinctively moved away from it, but the monster was not paying attention to him. It was entirely focused on Terry, who had decided to introduce himself to the creature by punching it directly in the general area its face was supposed to be.
"Keep the kid safe!" shouted Terry. He roared and tackled the monster to the ground, striking anything he could get his hands on. But nothing was happening. The monster was laughing. Each hit, each strike, only made it laugh harder and harder, which just made Terry angrier and angrier.
"Enough!" It smashed Terry in the chin and threw him to the ground. The beast crawled up and stared at them. "What are you three supposed to be? Some sort of superhero?"
"What're you supposed to be?" asked Terry. "Some sort of idiot?"
"Funny," it said, and reared its ugly head. Now Bakaguru could see it clearly. Its head was huge, with no disenable eyes or mouth. But its nose was elongated and protruded from a fine point in the center of its face. Its body was a weird blob that seemed to reform and reshape every time Bakaguru blinked.
"What is that thing?" asked Arthur. He and Bakaguru immediately regrouped behind Terry.
"Don't know," said Terry. "Looks like one of them monsters you'd see on a kid's cartoon."
The monster laughed. "May as well be, boys!" it screeched. "I'm the first of many, the very first! And the best too! Might not even need the others!"
"And what exactly are you the first of?" asked Terry.
"The Dark Gems!" It reared its head and giggled. "See this?" It held out what looked like a hand covered in slime. A solid, multicolored gem was sticking out of its flesh. "It's the Dark Opal! And it's going to split your little hides in half!"
"Move!" shouted Terry. Bakaguru, Arthur, and Terry just managed to get out of the way before a giant burst of lightning shot of out the hand and shattered a window behind where they had just been standing.
"This isn't happening," said Arthur. "There's no way this can happen! How did he do that?"
"Worry about the how later, focus on the staying alive part now," said Terry. "Bakaguru, cover me." He pulled out a capsule and summoned one of the guns Bakaguru had installed on his backpack. "And keep that kid safe!"
In the heat of the moment, Bakaguru had completely forgotten about the child. Luckily, Arthur had not and secured her behind him. She still wasn't really moving, and Bakaguru swore he had yet to see her blink. Bakaguru turned and positioned the gun exactly as he had been trained right onto his shoulder, placed the strap around it to lower the recoil, and fired into the beast's hide with a slow but steady stream of bullets.
The beast hissed and drew back, but not before Terry jumped up and started battering away at its head with his fists. He smashed it again and again, always careful to avoid the bullets from Bakaguru's rifle. But nothing he did seemed to matter. The monster just turned right back around, or snapped its neck back into place, or popped the bullets out of its skin and onto the floor. It only made Terry angrier and angrier. He started hitting harder, and with the reinforced power in the suit, his punches started sending the creature across the room, bashing through walls, or crashing into the ceiling.
"Why won't you die?" Terry screamed.
The monster just picked itself back up. "Because I want you to feel powerless," it said, and raised its hand. "Just like your friend over there." Then it pointed its Dark Opal at Bakaguru and fired a pulse of lightning.
It was the longest moment of Bakaguru's life. He saw the light come for him, saw it blind him, but it never reached him. In the instant it took to travel to him, Terry jumped in front of the beam and it slammed into his chest. The light disappeared and Terry simply fell to the ground. He was not moving. He was not breathing. Bakaguru did not move, not until he felt Arthur's hand on his shoulder, and fell to his knees.
"Terry!" Arthur screamed. "Get up!" He turned Terry over and checked for a pulse. "He's not breathing! His heartbeat's still there! Bakaguru, come on!" There was such desperation in his voice, such fear, that it froze Bakaguru to the bone. "We have to save him."
"He'll live," said the monster. Bakaguru and Arthur turned towards it and their hands unconsciously clenched into fists. "I only split people, not bodies. That's for these babies!" The beast's hands reshaped, turning into long, sharp claws that looked like they could rip right through the armor.
"We have to do something," said Arthur. "What do we do? Bakaguru, what do we do?"
"I-I." Bakaguru shook his head. "How should I know? I just build things! I'm not supposed to know how to save you too!"
"You know how the technology works! We need something that will take care of this thing!"
Bakaguru thought. There had to be something, anything, that would get them out of there alive, but he was not thinking fast enough and the beast attacked. Arthur groaned and dove between them to give Bakaguru extra time. He looked down at Terry, still immobilized by whatever the beast had done to him. "The life support system," he muttered.
"What?" shouted Arthur, who was entirely too busy trying to avoid being zapped by the beam.
"The life support system!" shouted Bakaguru. "In the event of emergency, I arranged it so the three systems can be synched up to support one another in the event one fails! But, if I rewire the programming…" Bakaguru reached behind for his backpack and pulled out what looked like a small fiber coil. "Yes, this could work!"
"What could work?"
"This!" Bakaguru extended the coil and plugged it directly into a small outlet on Terry's backpack. The transfer took a while, but Terry's armor disappeared and Bakaguru noticed his energy readings increasing. "Now you!" Bakaguru mustered all of his strength and charged into the beast, shoving it away. "Turn around, Arthur!"
Arthur did not question him and allowed Bakaguru to drain all the energy from his armor. It powered down immediately. "I'll get Terry and the girl out. Do you have enough power to best that creature?"
Bakaguru checked his readings. "If I don't, I'll have enough to give you a head's start. Now go!" Arthur nodded and started the process of dragging Terry's body out.
The monster returned, kicking and roaring. "Get back here and die already!"
Bakaguru looked at his fist. "Oh please let this overclocking work," he muttered, and drew back his arm to batter the monster directly through the last intact wall in the building. "Need to figure out something quickly. Need to think quickly. Come on, Niwa…"
The beast jumped out of the hole and Bakaguru quickly rolled away to dodge it. It kept coming, forcing Bakaguru into combat. The overclocked suit was working, but Bakaguru kept a careful eye on the energy readings. They were dropping swiftly. "I wish we had given this to Terry. Or Arthur. Or someone else, someone who could actually use it."
But there is no one else. There is only you.
That was when he saw the giant, gleaming gemstone rising up to point at him. That was when he heard the laughter that filled his heart with so much fear. And that was when he raised his hand, putting all of the energy he had overclocked himself with into his fingers, and crushed the gemstone before it had a chance to release its energy.
And then, before his very eyes, the beast seemed to just fade away into dust and wither into nothingness. Bakaguru barely had a chance to blink before it was gone.
"Terry," he muttered. His armor faded away, exhausted by the overclocking, and Bakaguru ran outside to find his friends. "Terry!"
Author's Note: Two very important plot points emerge from this chapter: Brock becoming a ranger and the revelation that Ame was good all along. Brock was always planned to be a ranger, and if you look back to the first chapter I'm pretty sure that he's wearing blue as a nice spoiler for people who obsess over little details like I do. He'll be a very different ranger than the others because of how his armor works, which will be revealed later. He's more of a support/medical ranger, which is fine because I've never seen Brock as the kind of character that relishes fights like 0 and the others do. This brings our team of rangers up to seven, if you count Karin and Logan, and five without.
The other major plot point is that Ame has revealed the endgame for how this story is going to progress into its final stages. Also of note is that we finally have a name for our team, the Rangers Seven, as they've been sort of nameless since going off on their own.
Oh, and Charon's developments are kind of important. Stay tuned!