Tag Archives: Dimensional Justice Rangers

Love And Villainy 8

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It… it… the, it… flames, flames on the sides of my face, breathing… breathless… heaving breaths…

It’s been difficult to talk and think since the big revelation the other day. My girlfriend ran off with the Pink Justice Ranger because the Pink Ranger was the chief suspect in my attempted murder. And Medusa wanted to find out more about my past from her, because the murder suspect was my ex. The same ex who had once been a devoted follower of mine in our home dimension until she learned I was going to destroy the world. She kicked my ass and left me laying against the Dimension Bomb in the middle of a force field that had its polarity reversed to hold the explosion inside it.

It’s how I got to this dimension, but it’s safe to say it left me with a bit of residual bad feeling. So much so that when I found out about it all, I disappeared and left. I didn’t run. I just couldn’t deal with it then. I know it’s ridiculous. I guess the whole scenario just left me with some unresolved issues. You know, because that’s the first time anything did.

So I got out of there and left a message for Venus before going silent. She and pretty much anyone else would have trouble contacting me, but I still let her know that she should still determine if Alyss did it. If she did, I want some form of justice for the attempt on my life. What I should want as a dictator is her life, actually. It’s what I aspire to as a person, actually. My mind started to go to excuses to let her go, but… why?

I took a bit of time to myself to get sorted out. Just me, a bottle of seashine, and the medication I take for my brain. I awoke the next day feeling like I’d deepthroated Godzilla. And on the island of Martinique. It took me awhile to figure out, because the language of the people around me seemed less familiar than usual before I realized they were speaking French. I was still wearing my power armor, and nobody had filled the pants with chocolate pudding this time. The health and recycling system of the armor would have gotten rid of any of that.

I checked my surroundings and found them mostly covered in sand. Indeed, I was almost completely covered up in sand. Some gifted sand sculptors had decided to use me as the base for a sphinx and pyramid complex. I stole a picture off someone’s phone. As bad as my head felt, I could still appreciate the work to do that. The artistry and skill, all that crap.

It shocked them when music started playing from my armor. Though somewhat muted by the sand, Iron Maiden began to serenade onlookers with their ballad “Powerslave” before I burst out of the sphinx. I gave a polite golf clap before heading out into the water to wash any clinging mud or sand off me.

I found my Psycho Flyer and a couple of soldiers hanging out at the airstrip. They directed me to a nearby bar for the rest of my bodyguards and the pilot. They’d just gotten their drinks when I pushed the door in. They took one look at me and the guard closest to the pilot stole his mug away. “Get it to go, boys,” I ordered.

I didn’t check my messages until I was in the air. I had a few texts from Medusa about calling her and talking and them not being that bad. Then I had checked the voicemail message, which was the latest and came early this morning. It wasn’t Medusa’s voice that greeted me. “Hello Gecko. This is Alyss. Medusa thinks we should talk. She thinks you changed, that you care now. That you have a real love for others in your heart. I remember how tempting you can be, poor, damaged thing. She’s so trusting, she doesn’t realize we can hold her as an accomplice to your continued freedom on our Earth. She thinks it’s a fun trip. Meet me at the portal on your side, alone. If you surrender to me, I will show her leniency.”

So there I was. Medusa, my longtime nemesis, stood up for me. Investigated my attempted murder. She’s had a huge change of heart about me, and thinks I’ve had a similar one. So foolish and naive and trusting. Why?! She should know better. All I really have to do to get rid of one of the few people on this world who can actually stand up to me is nothing. I can just let her go over there and be imprisoned or killed by people who see me as nothing but a genocidal madwoman. All I have to do is stay away. I mean, Medusa’s obviously planning something. She can’t really care about me that way. She’ll turn on me. And the alternative is surrendering.

I didn’t mention that message at all when I gave the pilot his sobriety test and then directions. I thought about what Alyss had to say as we flew. A poor, damaged thing. I’ve used my past as a hell of an excuse. There’s no disputing that I was wronged. And when I was cut loose, betrayed, I turned on them. They killed my humanity to give me a set of skills that I turned on them. I had been a killer for their order, then an agent of chaos who killed to tear it down. Always a monster. Always selfish.

They knew it too. Probably made it pretty damn hard to figure out then when I hopped out of the Flyer and stepped toward the barricaded portal in Canada. The staff went from gawking at the Psycho Flyer and watching it speed off to taking cover at my approach. They knew who I was, and from the way Alyss stepped forward in her costume, they had been warned shit was to go down.

“You’re here,” she said, twirling her Ranger energy blaster around in her hand.

“Wouldn’t be the first time you got me to come,” I said. “Just you out here waiting for me?”

She nodded. “Just you and I.”

“It was you who tried to knife me on that other world,” I said.

“I didn’t know about that fucked thing you did to that other woman, and who could predict you would stop the destruction of a world?” she commented. “Medusa made it sound like the most normal thing. You’re a selfish bitch that’s there when it counts. I thought I knew better, but you’re here. Or are you just here to kill me? The team isn’t here. It’s the perfect time for revenge if you want to sacrifice Medusa.” She held her hands out to either side, daring me to take a shot.

I stopped and looked at her. I’d been the devil in enough deals to see one. I could kill her easily enough. She hurt me. Not just physically, but bad enough I’ve had nightmares about the time someone I cared for turned on me and left me in a situation meant to kill me. And it’d be so easy to use it as an excuse for letting them win. Couldn’t help myself. Had to kill her, but at least I got revenge for Medusa, ha!

I pointed to the portal. “She through there?”

Alyss nodded. “Leave your armor here and go through. Medusa goes free and we bring you to justice.”

I snorted. “You wouldn’t know the first thing about justice, no more than you really know me. You were wrong about me then. You’re wrong about me now.” Big words, but they didn’t make it any easier when the armor snapped open and I stepped out. Ya know, I suspect that traitorous piece of dickcheese played a part in my paranoia about relationships, but I didn’t come here for her. I didn’t even come here for Medusa, not really.

I came here for me. I didn’t want to be a puppet, and I didn’t want to let those fuckers who turned me into a killer have a say in every action for the rest of my damn life. I wasn’t going to let this woman do that to me either.

The armor closed behind me as I walked toward the portal that led, if the past was any indication, to the old memorial in honor of my defeat. They’d left sensors intact there in case I ever showed up again the first time. After that, they left entrenched guards.

This time, they had a group of shocked-looking Justice Rangers in civvies standing around while Medusa ran up and hugged me. “What the fuck?” they asked.

“The fuck?” I asked.

“You’re so getting fucked,” Medusa whispered to me before kissing me and turning back to the Justice Rangers. “Told you.” Turning back to me, she looked down. “Let’s get you covered up, ok?”

She pulled me away from the portal, which glowed as Alyss stepped out of it and asked, “What the fuck?”

Finally, another appropriate reaction. I stopped going with Medusa. “This was a test?”

She beamed at me. “I’m sorry, yes.” She kissed me on the cheek this time. “I knew you were better than they thought.”

I raised an eyebrow. “You didn’t think it was the least bit risky to put me in such a risky position around people who really could have betrayed you and used this to catch me?” I looked over at Alyss as she walked over to join her team. “And you bunch. You’re supposed to be the defenders of your world. Everything’s safe, no problems need solving, so you can spend all your time on my Earth, bothering me, looking for a chance to kill me or play games with people’s lives?”

“Like you care,” said Blue.

“Lose that costume and let me take you into my custody, right now,” I said cocking my head toward the portal. He didn’t, just standing there. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. You’re more than willing to see me as the monster every time, but someone had to fight for our people and show the humans they couldn’t do that to us. I know how many bodies your shining utopia used for a foundation. You were thankful I made them at the time. If you’re going to encourage monsters, don’t be surprised when they turn out to be monsters.”

“You feel better?” Alyss asked, arms crossed and gun holstered once more.

“I’ll feel better if you never set foot on my world again,” I told her. “None of you, or Ricca will consider it an official act of war.”

“Babe, isn’t that a bit much?” asked Medusa, looking up at me. “I wasn’t in any real danger.”

I admit, I was a bit mad at her. Making a game of it like that seemed mean. I knew I had done much worse, and used that to temper my anger toward her. “As much as I’d like to beat some people up, maybe even kill them, I’m taking the high road right now, hon. I’m showing how more evolved I am. As the superior being, it is my right.” Then I grabbed her, threw her over my shoulder, beat my chest while hooting, and ran off naked with my girlfriend through a portal to another dimension.

As highly-evolved beings do.

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Love And Villainy 7

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I’m pretty sure about half the words these Justice Rangers used while fiddling with some of our equipment was made up. The Blue Justice Ranger did most of the actual sciencing, along with the help of some voice talking to him through his helmet. It got through despite the Institute of Science’s hardening to outside signals. I tried to listen in, but it didn’t really work right. I tapped into the feed and there was a freaky power surge that stumbled me. I sniffed around a bit where I was in the lab while one of the assistants nearby reached for me. “Empress?”

I waved him away. “It’s ok. What smells like plants in here?”

He looked around. “Nothing. This is the time travel lab.”

I looked around at the room made of brilliant white tiles with glowing lines running in the cracks between each one. “I don’t remember a time travel lab.”

The assistant bowed. “Allow me to explain. You traveled here from the past, and when you leave, it will be the future.”

Another man stomped up and grabbed the assistant’s elbow. “I told you to stop saying that! I’m sorry, Empress, Brad here thinks it’s funny to pretend the doorway is a time machine.”

“Ah,” I said, eyeing the equipment here. “What do you do here then?”

The second guy pointed to a part where one of the tiles had been pulled out of the wall to reveal a drawer full of dirt someone else was checking through. “This is an ag lab. My project is cultivation of domesticated truffle species that don’t require trees. Brad here is helping with blight-resistant strains. It’s not flashy, but it needs doing.” He gave a little nod at that.

“Huh… fancy room for growing stuff,” I said, pointing to the cracks next to me where lights raced towards intersections.

Brad laughed. “That’s because the group who had this room before us were testing whether or not futuristic room design improved production and creativity in scientists. Doctor Creeper was pissed when he found out. It is pretty cool though. Makes me feel happy to come in and do the drudge work.”

“Yeah, makes my job feel cooler,” his truffle-loving companion said. “Anyway, is there something we can help you with, Empress?”

I shook my head. “No, was just wandering while I worked on something in my head. Got a bit of a headache there. I hope the results are good here. I’ve got plans to create our own centralized food complex to strengthen our food security, and I’m interested in anything we can do. Truffles could be a good revenue stream.” Especially if something were to happen to the world’s truffle supply, leaving me the biggest supplier of mass-produced mycelia around. I’ll save that idea for if the things actually work out, or maybe I’ll farm it out. Some of the schemes I come up with seem a little beneath me now, like I’m supposed to focus on world domination and stuff.

I was met at the door to the Rangers’ work space by an excitable Green Ranger. He seemed to be the awkward and jumpy one of the group. I’ve found certain archetypes appear again and again in Justice Ranger teams, and that sometimes involves a quirky one. “Good, there you are. Ranger Blue says we need a laser, a big one, the biggest you have. Do you have a giant laser?”

I put my head back and let out a dark, bellowing, “Mwahahahahahahaha!” Then I looked back at him. “Yeah, sure, let me show you. What kind of supervillain with my own lab would I be without a giant laser.”

Creeper butted in before we took more than a couple steps. I stopped and answered, catching his video call on my inner eye HUD. “Gecko! We have a hit!”

“Did we sink their patrol boat?” I asked.

He paused a moment, then scrolled on something with a mouse and typed a few characters. “We established a sort of crime-puter to monitor superhero and supervillain activity around the world via social media, law enforcement, and the news. We just received an alert that identified Medusa’s involvement in a crime. She had the Pink Ranger with her.”

“Yes!” I said.

“What?” asked the Green Ranger. “Why’d we stop?”

“My guys spotted Venus. No need to do all the bio force-whatever y’all are playing around with in there,” I informed him, pointing back at the lab he had come from.

He held a fist up in front of him triumphantly, then deflated a moment. “This means I won’t get to see the giant laser, doesn’t it?”

“Maybe another time,” I told him. “First, we hunt down our missing comrades. I’ll save the giant laser for when we have your pink friend in our grasp.” I started to walk away, grinning.

“Yeah!” the Green Ranger excitedly agreed. “…wait, what?”

The Justice Rangers weren’t happy that I had the Psycho Flyer loaded and ready to go without waiting for them. I read it in their body language, as they still haven’t taken their helmets off around me. It was just something about the anger and defiance in Red’s body language. They could probably tell I was smiling despite my helmet, too. “Finally. I thought we were going to have to leave without you.”

“Good thing we caught this flight. We wouldn’t want to be here without you,” Red said. Ya know, I think he meant that last part as a threat.

“Buckle up then, buttercup. We’re on our way to New Mexico.”

“What’s in New Mexico?” he asked me. The Rangers looked around and found some seats alongside my Dragon soldiers.

“New Mexicans,” I said by way of answer. “And a smoking crater that used to be some kind of detention facility nobody knew about. Lotta people swear they didn’t know it was there and that the state and the federal government both had nothing to do with it. It got blown up by a woman in power armor and another in pink spandex.”

“It’s. Not. Spandex,” growled the Blue Ranger. Ooh, testy.

It was a long flight, made worse by the hostile groups. I mean, it got old only playing against the Green Ranger. There’s only so long you can fight the same person in Smash Brothers before it gets boring, no matter how many times you beat them by growing a tree underneath them. What eventually drew the interest of the other Rangers enough to comment was the revelation we were playing Metal Gear Solid co-op.

“No you’re not,” Red said. “You’re taking turns.”

“He’s pretty good at some of the stealth. Lots of patience,” I said of the Green Ranger, while I was busy with the controller.

“Yeah,” Green said, turning and pointing to the screen. “And she’s sniping without using the diazepam.”

“You can’t play videogames with the enemy!” Blue said.

“He sure as shit can’t play them with the rest of y’a,” I said. I handed the controller back to Green. “There, everyone’s dead. I’m hitting up the bathroom before we land, get rid of at least one piece of shit on this aircraft.”

It’s safe to say tensions were high. The Flyer went in cloaked to avoid adding any more. There were federal agents watching over the scene. It took long enough to get there that we all had the official story. It was a militia camp of unusual size. They figure they’d been playing with something they shouldn’t have, like too much Tannerite. Unless they made an entire building out of the binary explosive, that doesn’t explain the size of the crater.

Video didn’t do it justice. Being there ourselves, we got a better sense not only of the size of the blast, but also of something else not being reported on. There was a trail leading away from the place. The explosion obscured its start at the site, but we caught a glimpse of brush and dirt that had been disturbed by a lot of folks walking in a line and decided to follow it.

It got a little harder to follow when we figured they spread out. They left a wider impression on the environment, but less of it showed because of how few had tread over the same spots. The journey they took avoided the closest town, to the east, instead heading further northwest on a journey punctuated by the occasional abandoned plastic jug.

Finally, we came to Six Shooter, New Mexico. We hovered over it, as many of myself and the Rangers packed into the cockpit as possible, looking for any groups of unusual size or if Medusa was just strolling along. Finally, Yellow pointed to a bar and grill. “I saw her. She’s there!”

I didn’t, but I quickly turned and tried to push past the Ranger team. They weren’t standing still either. They all ran, slid, and flipped past my soldiers to reach the drop hole before me. I cussed under my breath and activated my armor’s cloaking before jumping down. I landed in the middle of an intersection just in time to take a minivan to the face. It took me a minute to peel myself out of the engine block and sneak off, which was more time the Rangers had to move in on my Medusa without me there.

I brushed myself off and snuck off, leaving the befuddled driver and passengers to figure out what unseen thing they hit. I didn’t have the suit disguise me as a two-armed version of myself in regular clothes until I reached the sidewalk. That side had this porch area of the bar and grill that people were eating on. I didn’t see them around anywhere, but it was a busy place, full of New Mexicans and Tex-Mex. A gaggle of waiters appeared in front of me as if summoned by a malevolent force to keep me from my goal. Their rendition of Happy Birthday did nothing to dissuade me of this notion.

Before I could sidestep them, my voice picked out my name from off to the side. “Gecko?”

I turned and saw Medusa, out of costume and armor. She was smiling, glasses hanging over her face. “V-Medusa,” I said, rushing over to hug her. “What happened? Did they hurt you? Did you hurt them? Was there blood?”

She giggled. “Calm down. I’m fine. The militia was a bunch of pushovers.” She tried to run her fingers through my hair, then realized why I felt so weird. The armor. “Really, I’m ok. I came to deal with a problem a friend told me about and I brought Ranger Pink along. I figured I would measure her up and see if she was your killer. Even better, I thought I would pick her brain about your past with her.”

“What?” I asked.

The birthday singers parted and Medusa pointed. At the table they’d been singing at sat a group of old ladies, one of them wearing a big novelty sombrero. “Uh, Medusa, I don’t know what she told you, but…”

“No, there,” Medusa said. I followed her finger more closely and saw a booth against the wall past the birthday table. There stood four people who looked mostly normal except for shirts of bright red, blue, green, and yellow. And at the table sat… fuck… my ex. The one who turned on me when I tried to destroy the world. In a pink shirt. Because she was the Pink Justice Ranger.

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Love And Villainy 6

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Geez, it’s hot. Someone ought to turn out that sun for a bit. I took my daughter and the superkids to an amusement park and I actually began to miss being frozen in ice. My suit isn’t quite as good at regulating away heat as it is protecting me from the cold. That’s something I ought to work on and leaves me visible to thermal imaging.

Conventional cameras caught enough of a view of myself and all those kids, though. They didn’t make a huge deal about it in California, but I guess dreary, muggy Kingscrow really doesn’t like to see people enjoying themselves. I spotted vigilantes watching us. It worried the kids, too. In the end, they didn’t find a good time to come after us. Even messing with a ride was too likely to cause serious injury, but it still brought down the childrens’ mood.

Escape was as simple as a pair of Psycho Flyers dropping smoke grenades around us and loading us all up. Almost all of us. I had to stop and give Psychsaur a hug goodbye. “Good luck with whatever you do from now on,” I told her.

“Try to be good,” she told me. I think she actually meant it.

“Aww,” I said, then reached out and snatched a bola out of the air. I tossed it back through the smoke at where it’d been thrown and saw a shape skid on the ground. “Why be good when I can be great? You just let me know if you need a hand.”

She patted me on the helmet. “I wish you were this giving to people who weren’t your friends.”

I shrugged. “I tried, but they didn’t want me as their leader.”

“You’re not mine either,” she noted, then stepped back, just before a boomerang would have smacked into her. She raised a hand and the boomerang reversed course back to where it came from. Someone outside the smoke yelled. “I guess you better go.”

“I’ll be back!” I declared, throwing a fist up. “You haven’t seen the last of me!” I turned and jumped into the back of the waiting Psycho Flyer. The loading bay closed up behind me as we raised up and began to make a break for the Pacific.

The trip could have been an absolute nightmare. A dozen kids on a long road trip, but with the power to freeze stuff or create plants? It’s a good thing they were all tuckered out from the trip to the park. They slept a good chunk of the way there and saved me a huge headache.

I can’t have a huge welcoming party every time I come back from somewhere. I’m away too much for that. So instead, I disembarked with Qiang and called up leftover Directors from Housing and Education to see to the kids. I should create a Child Supers program while I’m at it. I need an agency to help care for and train children with superpowers on my island, as well as being able to identify them among the general populace and help aid families who have trouble caring for them. I sent Director Pagan and Dr. Creeper a message about working together to find someone reliable, educated, and caring to help me manage the situation. It wouldn’t do for children of Ricca to be snatched up and sold off to some underground fighting and sex ring right under my nose.

With all that handled as much as it can be for now, it was time to deal with other problems. That meant doing things like reviewing test results on interdimensional vehicles for the expedition back to Uranus. It seems the data I stole from that other universe included some nifty new designs for increasing efficiency and stability in the dimension-breaching process, including a way to build devices that craft the portals to allow sending people through without also sending through a device.

There have also been some rumblings from the Lost Continent of Mu. The people of the Bronze City have learned to accept my ambassador as if he’s one of their own, but they’d really like to see their own sometime. I technically married Citra to forge bonds with Ricca, though she looked like their princess in order to fool the Bronze City and forge a bond with them. I forwarded her the email to see if she might be willing to fool them in between semesters of college. I suppose I could hunt down the original, who was last spotted saving Pennsylvania from a rampaging extradimensional T-Rex with the help of Veloci-Raptor, but she’s probably still pissed at me.

There was also a court case that was an issue. People had been appealing to a higher power, meaning me. Then a vigilante broke the person out and it became a non-issue. Or, more accurately, it created a new issue. Someone caught selling info to foreign powers broken out by a superpowered person. I don’t know if this means a superhero or a supervillain. The way this island works, it’s not so clear. Security and the Military have both been put on alert, especially at the ports.

Finally, there’s Venus. I had plenty of time to work on those other issues because I was waiting for her to get back to me. Because, causing my paranoia no end of worry, she wasn’t on the island anymore. According to Max, she disappeared with the Pink Justice Ranger. They were last seen getting on some sort of pink hovercycle that probably belonged to the Justice Ranger. They always get cool toys like that out of nowhere. I even tried spying on her phone, but she left it behind at the residence.

So it was that I went to sleep one day, just myself cuddled up with my daughter. And the next, I woke up to four people in Ranger tights and helmets. I sat upright and screamed, throwing the nearest object at the one in red. He caught my daughter, at which point I pointed to her. “Bastard, give me back my kid!”

By now, Qiang awoke. She kicked him right in his crotch. It wasn’t a hard shot or else they’d have sparked, but it doesn’t take much of a hit to the balls to get someone’s attention. He dropped her. It was Blue who held up his hands. “Can we calm down please?”

I held a pillow up. “Not when you’re sneaking into my room to catch me sleeping!”

“We wanted to talk,” said the Red Justice Ranger.

I tore the pillow open and pulled out a meat tenderizer. I pointed it at the green one, “Then why’s he got duct tape?”

Qiang and the Rangers all looked at the duct tape the Green Ranger held, and watched as he dropped it. “Misunderstanding.”

“Misunderstand my foot up your ass,” I said, leaping to my feet.

“Let’s talk about this. We’re trying to find our missing teammate,” Blue said.

The door burst in and a smoke grenade rolled in, spewing pink mist. Mix N’Max came in, syringe gun in hand. Sam stood behind him with a water pistol. Holly held a wooden stool like a bat, ready to wing. Qiang hopped onto the bed with me and whirled on the Rangers, knife in hand.

The Green Ranger turned toward them, pulling a piece of tape taut in his hands. Yellow and Blue pulled guns, but Red raised a sword out of nowhere. Almost as an afterthought, a Dudebot stepped out of my closet.

“Seems we have ourselves a Riccan stand-off,” I said.

Red turned between me and Max. “This doesn’t have to go bad.”

“We’re prepared for bad,” Max said. He’s right. Villains are exactly the sort to jump in and make the first move in a stand-off like this. We usually don’t have as much to lose, or just don’t care about collateral damage.

“Believe me, I’d give a lot to see Psycho Gecko die,” Blue said.

Green stumbled. “I’d rather not if it’s all the same. We were supposed to be a force for defense and de-escalation.”

Red looked to Green, then lowered his sword. “Rangers, stand down.”

Green lowered his duct tape and Yellow her gun. Blue looked to Red, “This is our best chance.”

“Technically, your best chance was in the other universe, on Uranus,” I said. “Nice try, but it didn’t take.”

“If it was me, it would have,” Blue bragged.

Red grabbed Blue’s gun out of his hand. “How many people aren’t going to live if you die here today?”

“Kinda surprised you’re even bothering with talk of defense and saving lives the way you bunch spend all your time over here, dealing with our problems.” With the Rangers all off guard, we could have easily gone ahead and attacked them. Part of me ached to do so.

I lowered my tenderizer. “Get the fuck out of my room. Everyone. You want to talk, Red? Give me a minute to get indecent.”

Minutes later, with Qiang running to go change out of her pajamas, I walked into the living room. Sam was playing bartender for Holly while giving the Rangers some side eye. Max lounged on a chair, syringe gun in one hand, flask of glowing green goo in the other.

My armor on and arms crossed, I stood in front of the waiting Rangers. “Talk.”

“Ranger Pink has gone missing,” Red said. “We thought you knew something.”

“But you didn’t think it was me?” I asked.

Red shook his head. “We thought you might have evaded our surveillance when you went missing, but then you appeared in Kingscrow.”

“The Pink Ranger is no more special to me than the rest of y’all as far as I know,” I said. “I don’t like you, but I’m tolerating you for helping us in the past.”

Blue jumped in. “So you don’t know who she is?”

“I suspect she tried to kill me when we were all off fighting a war in another dimension,” I said.

Blue flinched, but Red sat up straighter and said, “What did you do with her?”

Wow. I think I might be right about Pink. “I didn’t do anything. A superhero was investigating the attempted murder. They were last seen together. I know when they left, but not where to. I would think you have some fancy ways to track each other.”

Yellow lowered her head. “That is at our command center. Nowhere on this whole planet has technology sophisticated enough to track the bio-force signature of a morphed Ranger.”

I smiled under my helmet. “Almost nowhere. I bet we have a few handy tricks around here.”

“What do you want?” Red asked. “You want us to help you find her so you can kill her?”

Hmm. Good point. They’d never go for it if I did that, but I really don’t feel like letting my potential murderer go free. “I want you and any other Rangers to leave my island alone forever. Don’t get close. And as for the Pink Ranger… we have courts here. Good folks, I want what ever victim wants. Justice.”

Yes, I got a kick out of saying that last word to the Justice Rangers. No, I didn’t have to change my underwear afterward. Wasn’t even wearing any.

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Frozen Over 9

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“You made explosive devices and hid them on the Christmas tree!” Minotaur yelled.

I sat in the middle of Victor Mender’s office, and in the middle of a small inquest into what the fuck actually happened. Raising a finger to interject, I said, “I fail to see how y’all didn’t expect that from me.”

“There were children there. Children!” said Venus.

“They could only be armed biometrically,” I lied. No they fucking couldn’t. I didn’t even have to take my gloves off.

“I do not understand the nature of the device you say you used to destabilize the portal,” Victor Mender’s computer said for him.

I leaned forward, “Ok, so it shares some moving parts with the Dimension Bomb, but it’s more of an audio-vibratory-physio-molecular transport device. Basically, its primary purpose was to generally disrupt what you might call a wormhole or a portal. The source was magic, but I am familiar with the effects and have some knowledge on how to disrupt them.”

“What was your game?” asked Psychsaur. It was an astute question, coming from the only one of them to spend any time in my head, thinking my thoughts. “You always have some plan hidden behind everything.”

I held my hands out to my side like “What are you going to do?” I didn’t say that, however. Instead, I said, “I wanted to protect my daughter. What else could make me come here, ask y’all for help, prostate myself before you, and submit to patrolling as a hero?”

Minotaur came in again. “You crawled through a burning building to save a couple gerbils. I think you’d do whatever you needed to accomplish your goal.You don’t trust us so you probably didn’t tell us what you were doing.”

I leaned forward. “Look at it this way… I told y’all these things were real. They turned out to be real. I told y’all they wanted to take my daughter and I wanted to stop them. I fought them, my daughter is still here, and they are stopped. Nobody died. They didn’t snatch up anyone else. So even if I did have some other plan, it didn’t happen. I used up my explosives, and the little anti-portal device. I didn’t even get to fight Frostzilla because your stupid kids were running around without enough clothes on. They were having too much fun. How many more times are we going to go over this?”

“Why is this meeting kept from us?” asked a person with what could be mistaken for a Southern accent. I sat back in the chair and reached out with my mind to see what I had available to get me out of this situation. I’d come to this little inquest without armor on. So long as the Dimensional Rangers didn’t morph and the heroes didn’t join in, I could handle this.

“This is no concern of yours,” said Mender’s voice.

I heard the team shuffle in. Five rangers. There’s almost always a sixth, but I’d already killed that one. I saw the one with a red top step between myself and Victor Mender’s desk. He took a long look at me. “We find ourselves in odd circumstance. Your allies hide you well.”

“We are not her allies,” Venus said.

I nodded at that. “Merely enemies on good terms with one another.”

“Psycho Gecko is here under truce,” said Victor Mender.

The Red ranger looked to Mender. “You people must want to die. This man honors no truces and lives only for death and destruction.”

“Baba is in here?” asked Qiang from outside. The door creaked as she pushed her way in. I raised my hand to wave at her and she ran around to me for a hug. “Baba!”

“Hey there smooshylumpikins. I just had to answer a bunch of boring questions about all that stuff on Christmas Eve.”

“Who is this? Baba?” asked Red as he looked at Qiang.

She pressed closer to me to get away from him, her hand moving toward where she kept her knife on her. “Hello. My name is Qiang. This is my daddy.”

“Your daddy?” Red asked.

“Yep,” I said. “Bet you didn’t see that coming?”

“You’ve changed,” Red said.

“He has?” asked Venus.

Psychsaur interjected here. “Regardless, I believe we’re done with Gecko for now. She’s going to leave this room and we’re not going to fight about this, right?”

“You better hope not,” said Red. “Our people don’t want this relationship to sour, but hiding Psycho Gecko is a sure way to cause problems. We still want him.”

Venus crossed her arms. “We have our rules and we stick to them. Even Gecko doesn’t violate our truces.”

I nodded, and so did Qiang. “Ya know, I believe I was dismissed. Let me get right on that.” Red didn’t do anything, but neither he nor the rest of his color-coded costumed crimefighters tried to stop me.

Still, it was time to move on out. No interaction with those Rangers was going end well, and I had shit to do now that the Winter boogeymen had been put in their place. The break’s over, and I got a couple of important details to work out.

I ran into a problem. Qiang didn’t want to go. She hugged onto my leg and cried her little head off. “Daddy, I like it here!”

“I know you do, sweet, but we can’t stay. They don’t like me, and those people you saw in there will try to hurt me. I can’t stay here.”

Her crying didn’t stop, and reasoning with her just didn’t work. So I picked her up, threw her over my shoulder, and went about dividing up the things to take, things to leave, and things to burn in a fire to erase evidence. Excess panties went into the third pile. I’ve caught adolescent supers staring. On the plus side, interest in the library jumped way up. The way I’ve walked around here, lots of things jumped way up. I’m not a big believer in pants.

I stuffed Qiang into a suitcase with her head sticking out the top and slipped into my armor, getting ready to make a run for it.

Nobody made a big deal about the bonfire, surprisingly. A librarian burning a lot of stuff should be cause for concern, especially indoors. It’d have made a good Yule log if I ever cared to watch one of those.

I’d lost track of time, because Psychsaur interrupted me watching those beautiful flames. “You’re running again?”

I turned toward her swiftly, so as to make it look dramatic with my cape. “I ain’t looking to get deported back to that place and end up put on trial for war crimes. And y’all will. Cozying up to them like that. There’s always going to be friction between these two universes so long as I’m a refugee in one. It’s only a matter of time before I get handed over. And maybe y’all don’t shove me through a portal yourselves, but you stand by and let it happen.”

“What are you talking about, Baba?” asked Qiang.

I patted her on the head. “Sorry, just something about those people with the same uniform in different colors.” I stepped closer to Psychsaur.

“You don’t trust us,” she said.

I pointed a finger at her. “Stop that. That goes both ways. This isn’t trust. This is guilt. Fucking guilt. You talked a big game about trusting me so I’d trust y’all, but I needed you and the others. That’s why I came here: I needed you. Guess what, y’all didn’t help. I might as well have not been here. I had to trick y’all just to get some help, and I could have done that anywhere. Instead, I get people saying I need to reform. Go to jail or the loony bin. So this isn’t really about trust. This is about tolerating me until you can guilt me into going to jail without giving me any help I actually need.”

“We saved your life,” she started.

“THEY saved my life,” I pointed off into the air. “They being those idiots with all the jingle bells who came after Qiang. They saved my life without asking me first and decided I owed them a job. If I didn’t do it, they got Qiang.”

“You could have told-”

I put my hand over her mouth. “Master Academy saved my life without asking me first and decided I owed them a job dealing with The Claw. Now that’s done, but y’all think I should change the way y’all want. And I’m sure y’all will be more than happy to take in Qiang when I’m sent off to the funny farm where life is wonderful all the time.”

“You want Baba to go to prison?” asked Qiang, struggling to try and look at us. She squirmed until the suitcase fell over with her on her back. She hit her head a little, but didn’t cry. You know why? Because she’s a Gecko. And Geckos don’t cry over a little thing like traumatic brain injuries. Geckos don’t actually have a lot of defined things we do, since there’s only the two of us. But still, I respect her ability to get hurt without whining about it. Instead, she cried about all these people she thought were friends trying to put her female father in prison. And she’s got a very different idea of what prison is. She used to live under a dictatorship.

I unzipped the luggage to let little Qiang out. Meanwhile, Psychsaur tried to salvage things. “It’s not about prison. We just want him to go to a place full of people who will keep him away from people and give him drugs so he can get better.”

“My daddy’s already awesome!” she said. She picked up a book and threw it at Psychsaur. Now, I know what people are thinking: was the book ok? Good news, it was hardcover, so it didn’t take any damage. Bad news, it was young adult, so it didn’t hurt Psychsaur very much.

So I took my daughter and walked out to the front lawn. The Rangers all stood in front of the gate, unmorphed, as if challenging me to try and pass through. It was a dumb gesture. I could jump over, or go to the side.

They looked really stupid when a helicopter lowered down to the lawn for Qiang and I to get onboard.

“Where to, sir?” asked the pilot.

“We need to pick someone up while they’re in town. I’ve been meaning to stock up on scientists.”

After that, it’s time to finally use my position as emperor and supreme dictator of Ricca to make a change for the positive. Not everything the heroes said was nonsense, and seeing the Master Academy as this hub of heroes has given me an idea. I think it’s time the supervillains got organized.

But first, let’s go kidnap a geneticist!

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Gecko Says Mu 10

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Ah, the complications of being ruler. I have to do so much, it’s like I’m required to be in multiple places at once. Luckily, I have the Dudebots. My magic metal me’s. It’s not that hard if you’re used to that sort of thing. Like texting while evading police in a high-speed chase while masturbating. I was going to say “jacking off,” but there was this one time it was Jill instead of Jack. Tricky, that. Pushing the wrong button means stomping on a pedal at the wrong time.

So I got more than one “me” out there, all controlled by the real me. One Dudebot sped into the Bronze Harbor of the Bronze City to meet the Bronze Men, all on a speedboat. It had to pass underneath the Bronze Colossus too, a giant statue of a guy in armor, armored skirt included. I, by which I mean the robot in this instance, stood upon the deck beside Citra and pointed up at it as we passed beneath. “It’s like a penis, except smaller.”

Yep, handling multiple Dudebots isn’t so much a problem unless my mind wandered. My mind wandered. I kept thinking about having to lock Qiang in a bunker again in case something goes wrong with this outing. I wanted to be back with her. She shouldn’t be locked away, guarded by men with guns, unable to see her father. I should be there with her, playing or taking care of her or just teaching her something useful. Like basic field first aid.

They had a delegation meet us at the docks, with a whole parade, and several servants carrying wine. I didn’t think they were that eager that I’d defiled their princess and claimed their throne as an outsider, but that wasn’t enough to keep them from having a party with lots of alcohol. I could see myself finding common ground with these people. This place would make a hell of a market for all kinds of goods. Personal razors, toothbrushes, and deodorant. Especially deodorant. When I saw Citra’s new nose crinkle, I leaned over to fix a pine tree necklace around her neck. Even if I wasn’t king, I could own this place with nothing but a boatful of pine car fresheners and a dream.

“Greetings, Bronze City of Mu,” I began, having my armor put out a deeper and more commanding tone. “I am Emperor Gecko of Ricca, king of the Bronze City by marriage of the Princess Elda.” Here I indicated Citra, who stayed quiet. One minor flaw in my plan is that Citra, while way easier to control, doesn’t know how to speak the language. I hooked her up with an earbud that can translate, but she’s stuck to smiling and looking pretty for the moment.Ya know, there might be some problems with this plan, but I DID say I wouldn’t go through with marrying Elda.

I continued on with my speech, by the way. Just in case anyone was forgetting that. “You will be no lesser subjects to me than those I already serve the interests of.” So what if they smell funny and act backwards? They’re only human, which is just another way of saying they smell funny and act backward anyway. “And I shall do all I can to see a great merger of our nations and our ascendancy to greatness! Glory to Ricca, and to the Bronze City!”

I don’t know if I’m just that good at speaking, or if they’d already broken into the wine, but I was a big hit. They got the party rolling on down the road, with myself and Citra on a chariot, waving at people. The palace awaited.

Meanwhile, I dropped out of a cargo copter within the near-lifeless crater in the center of the continent of Mu. My HUD could read an unusual life profile from the tree, though. It was no normal plant. Oddly, nothing picked up by my armor pointed to it being a magical anomaly. Those tend to be rather distinctive due to their incompatibility with my physiology and most of your more advanced smart technology.

The chopper lowered a couple crates of supplies I cut free, in case things need to get violent. Only after I had those firmly on the ground did I bother approaching. As the old proverb goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound on your own face.”

It was when I turned to finally make my approach that the problems started. Five colored streaks shot from the sky and slowed to land between tree and me. The color faded and there before me stood five young men and women with attitude. And before them stood a rubber chicken struggling to get to its little feet and find a road. The one in the red shirt had enough sense to kick it away, but it detonated close enough to knock them all flat.

I jumped over and very nearly planted my knee in the chest of the red ranger on landing, but the one in the slim, void black armor ran up as if it’d just been hiding there and held its molecular blade out for me to impale myself on. I threw my weight back hard to alter my fall and saved myself from yet another sword to the lung. It knocked the air out of me, but I forced myself to get to my knee. The only ranger who had me beat in that regard was still this Black one, who ran and swiped to take my head off.

I rolled toward him and kicked up, hitting wrist with heel and snapping that blow well away. I dropped back and kipped up to my feet. I caught the ranger’s wrist and twisted to break it, then slapped him upside the helmet with my other hand, and then again with a backhand. “Ranger? I don’t even know ‘er! No one else will either, before too long.” I went to chop his throat, but his armor shifted and pushed me away as it was replaced with the bulkier armored version.

“You stepped out of your safe haven and into a grave, Psychopomp,” the black ranger said.

“Don’t get too eager. I’ll have to spank you and send you crying to your daddy.” I quipped back.

“You killed my father!” he yelled and rushed forward.

I jumped back, even as holograms projected off of me, seemingly sending me flying everywhere. With the weaker hologram system on this armor, I couldn’t pull off this many flawless projections, so I didn’t even try. They were all ghostly and see-through, but they were everywhere, obscuring me. The ranger stopped, looking around at me and swiping experimentally.

Something bonked off his helmet. He caught it before it could drop down. It was a rubber chicken head. That’s when he looked down and when the chicken grenade blew up.

He flew into the air, sparks shooting out. I jumped up after him, grabbing his leg with one hand so the artificial muscles in my armor’s legs could propel us both further into the air. The song Higher And Higher blasted from my armor.

The gauntlet not gripping the hero began to glow as an energy sheathe glowed into existence around it. At the apex of our climb, I turned and wrapped my legs around the Black ranger’s waist. He tried to stick me with his sword, but my free hand kept the blade under control with the aid of the rockets built into the elbow. Indeed, I used the other arm’s rocket to help power us down even faster from on high. I cut it seconds before impact to pull my hand back, unhitch my legs, and punch on impact.

Now, there’s technically no thing as “pure energy” as it’s all about how much work something can do. When applied to a field around someone’s forearm and fist and unleashed through a punch, thiscan include burns and a devastating increase in the force exerted. Add in gravity, rocketry, and an exoskeleton.

I was momentarily blinded by sparks upon impact with the ground and the Black ranger’s body. The ranger’s armor burst away from all the damage and the person behind it all lay there staring up at me with a chest that had been cratered with a hole straight through at the nadir.

He’d tried to kill me to avenge his father. Now being a father, I kinda hope Qiang would do that for me if someone killed me. Except it didn’t work out quite so well for this guy, I suppose. And she’ll never be my equal. I’d never let her go through the things that made me. A parent should want a better life for their child, after all. I realized that if the black ranger’s dad had loved his son, there’s no way he would have wanted them to follow a path that would lead to this.

I began to have those things, kinda like anger, hatred, loathing, hostility, rancor, animosity, enmity, disgust, irritation, scorn, spite, repugnance, revulsion, and sexual arousal. Like feelings, I guess, but confused. Lucky I didn’t have to think too hard on it because of all the pains hooting through my body from my arm.

I stood up slowly, having taken the fall a bit roughly in spite of the punch helping to counteract that as well. In fact, my right arm wasn’t responding. I reached over to jam it back into socket, which also hurt like getting kicked in the dick by someone wearing hornets for high heels. It would have given me better motion except for the breaks. Never know when first aid’s going to be handy. However, I had better aid. I reached down with ol’ lefty, the reliable stranger, to search out a container of nanites for injection. I pulled one loose, but a plasma bolt burst it in my hand. I turned to seek out the origin and found the remaining five rangers morphed, all holding the pistols of this iteration. They always have the pistols, or some equivalent.

“Dead or alive, you’re-” the Red one started, but Green opened fire prematurely. Given it was a woman, I’m inclined to believe she doesn’t usually go off prematurely. I raised my left arm, the system absorbing the energy to power a shield while recharging my suit’s batteries. The other rangers joined in then. The first few fizzled away harmlessly; the next bounced off. I opened my hand and caught one, though it was really held by a glowing barrier before it could touch the palm of my gauntlet. That one I threw at the green one, who flew backwards in a shower of sparks.

Red and Blue ran to check on her. The last two, White and Yellow, charged for me. Two rangers, and I was down an arm. Too bad for them that left me a free head, arm, and both legs. They never stood a chance. The White one ran around to get behind me, an axe appearing in her hands. Yellow drew a pair of daggers and swung them at me. I aimed my left arm back and hit the rocket. It dragged me back and bumped into white, who fell down in mid swing, the energy adding much more to the strike than I put into it. Then I threw a projection of me accellerating in a rocket punch right at Yellow. Yellow swung for it and was left open when I did so for real, sending him flying.

That gave me a sorely needed moment to grab an injector of nanites. It wasn’t my favorite way to heal up, but I opened up the crotch panel on my armor and jabbed away. I stood there and looked at the rangers. They’d taken the time to regroup and stand all in a line opposite me. I raised my right hand and tested it, then swung my arm around. “Now that I don’t have one hand tied behind my back, we can really start playing.”

I noticed they had the body of the Black ranger pulled up behind them. I nodded toward him. “Were you close?”

“What do you care, psychopath?!” yelled the Green ranger.

I raised a finger as I made my point. The Rangers not being so used to this world’s culture, they may not have realized the index finger is the one I was supposed to have used. “Psychopomp. But he meant something to you, right?”

She pulled her pistol and fired again, which I snatched out of the air. “I’m assuming that’s a yes. So I’m going to do something for you. He died because it was his life or mine. If we continue, maybe, maybe you inch out a win. But you don’t all survive it. I killed him easily, and just beat the crap out of two of you with just one hand. Just walk away. Leave me here and I’ll spare your lives. Just walk away and I’ll give you a safe passage out of these wastelands. Just walk away and there will be an end to your horror today.”

“What if we want to risk it?” asked Blue.

It was a risk, showing trust. It’s not entirely bad. Just look what happened when Master Academy took a chance on me! Nevermind, look away from when Master Academy took a chance on me. Especially with that robot I sent them in the mail.

The crate that had been dropped for me burst out. A swarm of copter drones spread out around a trio of tanks. Red and I looked right at each other for several long seconds before he nodded. He reached down and grabbed the body of the Black ranger. They all zipped away in their colored lights.

I took a breath then, and turned to this Tree of Wonders. I stepped carefully overs its roots that I would have sworn moved out of the corner of my eye, even though my helmet gave me such a wide view of the area around me.

Things kept coming to mind. Venus. Taking over the world again. Wiping the Rangers from existence. Making the world know I am right. Anything I wanted, I had here, in the palm of my hands. I didn’t quite realize when I’d reached out and touched it. Supreme power. Immortality. I wondered briefly if I could magic one of Venus’s eggs fertilized. Or kill her. Or force her to love me. Ugh, I should magic myself into getting over her.

I could finally die. I could make my past never happen, too, though what would that do to Qiang? Or the world, I suppose, given how many times I’ve ended up saving it. Mainly Qiang. And did I even care for real, or just because I knew I should?

I pulled away. What I could do is one thing, but what did I want? I wanted to live, and I had what I needed for that. The Rangers? I could handle them. Hell, I’ve gotten so strong I can scare them away instead of having to kill them. Take over the world? Done it once. Can always do it again.

I wanted to destroy this tree and go teach my daughter how to pop her arm back into her shoulder. I took a step back and tripped over roots that had risen. They moved quickly to wrap up my arms, but I pulled free with my armor. Why would I want to go free? I could have everything I wanted if only I stayed. I could have it all, but I didn’t want it all. And I didn’t want some stupid plant putting thoughts into my head.

I tore my way free, having to crawl over reaching tendrils of root. They tried to pile on anyway, weaker, but incredibly numerous. But I had numbers, too. The drones swooped in and concentrated their fire all around me, tearing through roots and giving me a chance to pull free. “I didn’t just kill a man to die to a plant.” I brushed myself off, then pointed back with my thumb. “Let’s burn this bush.”

I didn’t leave until that tree and its roots were ashes. Then I went to go see my damn daughter while ignoring Citra’s pleas to return to Ricca after my Bronze City coronation turned into a drunken orgy.

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