Chapter 1: Mission Accepted
“Are you sure Commander Park? I mean… these candidates, with the exception of one of course, are mere adolescents. They aren’t necessarily the first ones I’d choose for this incredibly dangerous mission,” Nara sighed, exasperated. In all her time as an advisor for the commander, she’d never seen something this ridiculous. Her eyes roamed over the various dossiers in her hand just to verify once more what she thought she’d seen.
“We didn’t choose anyone Nara,” Commander Park said in reply, his face barely visible in the dim light of his office. The tone in his voice clearly indicated his own disdain for the list of candidates, “The Dai Crystals seem to be at least partially sentient. Of every DNA sample we tested, over two million over the course of six months, these were the only subjects the crystals reacted to, and we don’t even have a full roster, we just can’t wait any longer to get this mission off the ground,”
“Well, I’ll start to gather them for the briefing. Have all preparations on the Astro One Space Station been completed sir?” Nara casually asked as she turned to exit the office. Commander Park nodded.
“Everything’s set. All we need to do is gather our team,”
Rocky wiped sweat from his forehead and sat down on the weight bench, completely drained from his last set. One of the few things he could occupy his time with on the base where his father worked was weightlifting, so he was thankful that he actually enjoyed it. It kind of sucked being the son of a high ranking military officer, especially the one just placed in charge of the Astro Combat League; the most ambitious military organization in the history of mankind. Everyone expected that same kind of greatness from him, he never felt like he was free to just be his own person.
He heard the door to the gym open just as he took a swig from his water bottle. He looked up to see the bleached blonde hair of his father’s adviser, Kwon Nara. He’d seen quite a bit of her, but they never really talked much.
“Hi there Minhyuk, you got a minute?” Nara asked. Rocky immediately rolled his eyes.
“I’ve told you, it’s Rocky, not Minhyuk,”
“Sorry, Rocky. There’s something I need to discuss with you,” Nara sat down on the bench across from him, “So as I’m sure you’re aware, a few months ago, the Astro Initiative explored the wreckage of the alien spaceship crashed right off the coast of Angel Grove,”
“Yeah, I’m aware,” Rocky replied. Last year Earth was threatened by an alien invasion, but they were defeated by a team of guardians known to the world as the Power Rangers.
“Well, the goal was to find any technology the Combat League can use in our campaign. We found something wilder than we could ever imagine,” Nara handed Rocky a file and he opened it, revealing an image of nine sparkling crystals, each a different color.
“What are they?” Rocky wondered aloud, his eye particularly drawn to the red crystal.
“We call them the Dai Gems, after the name of the alien race that invaded Earth. They can generate immense amounts of energy, and when combined with technology from Astro Aeronautics, they can transform a special team into the first line of defense for Astro Combat League’s interstellar mission,” Nara explained.
“What exactly does this ‘interstellar mission’ have to do with me? And what is the purpose of the mission?”
“I can’t answer that question until you accept the mission,” Nara said, taking the file back from Rocky, “So, do you accept? Will be become a member of our team?”
“I think I’ll pass,” Rocky shrugged, “I don’t have a particular desire to be just like my dad,”
“Suit yourself,” Nara replied, mimicking Rocky’s shrug, “Although, the Dai Gem didn’t react to your father’s DNA, but it did seem to respond to yours,”
Rocky’s interest was piqued. If the Gem didn’t work for his dad, that meant that this could finally be his chance to step out of the ever-present shadow of Commander Park. After a long moment of thought, Rocky finally responded.
“Alright, I’ll do it. I’ll join your team,”
Nara smiled softly and returned the file to Rocky.
“Good, welcome to the Astro Combat League. The mission briefing will occur tomorrow morning. That’s when you’ll learn all the details of what we’re trying to accomplish. Until then, look over the file I’ve given you. I’ll be in touch,” Nara said, standing up and exiting the gym, leaving Rocky alone. He silently hoped that this was the opportunity he’d been waiting for, the chance to forge his own path in life. While he wasn’t entirely sure what the mission entailed, he couldn’t pass up what very well could be his only shot.
As that thought settled, Rocky’s eyes graced the bottom of the envelope where the words “Astro Combat League, Ranger Series Operator: Leo Red” were written. Ranger series, huh? Well, suddenly this interstellar mission became a lot more interesting.
Eunwoo never ceased to be late, that was a fact. But this time, it was for a completely different reason. He was preparing to head out for a modeling audition, but a strikingly beautiful young woman was standing on his front porch when he opened the door.
“Uh, can I help you?” Eunwoo said, trying to calm his heart rate after she had managed to scare the shit out of him with her sudden appearance.
“Yes, I believe you can. My name is Kwon Nara, Advisor for the Astro Combat League,” She said, flashing an official looking government badge, “Cha Eunwoo, correct? I need to speak with you,”
Within minutes, Nara was sitting on Eunwoo’s couch, holding a cup of freshly made tea graciously gifted to her by one of Eunwoo’s dads, who was now sitting next to Eunwoo on the adjacent loveseat.
“So, Mr. Cha Hakyeon, I understand this is a lot to take in regarding your son and what we’re asking of him,” Nara said softly, sipping from the still hot cup, “But I hope you understand that these crystals we discovered seem to only be compatible with very specific DNA samples. Eunwoo’s was one of those samples. We would not ask this of someone so young if there was any other option,”
“Well… I certainly have my reservations about this, but what do you think Eunwoo. After all, this will be impacting your life far more than mine,” Hakyeon asked, raising a curious eyebrow at his son who had been rather quiet, trying to take in all this information.
“I… I don’t really know what to say. You want me to go to space? I’ve never even dreamed of anything like that. I’m really not sure if I’m the best guy for the job,” Eunwoo shuddered as memories of his experience in the previous year’s invasion flooded his mind, “The one time I came face to face with aliens, I cowered behind a fountain while my friend fought them off,”
“You were in a situation most people can’t even imagine Eunwoo, there’s no shame in how you reacted,” Nara assured him, fixing a stray piece of her blonde hair, “If you really feel guilty about how things went down back then, then perhaps this could be the redemption you need? Prove your personal worth to the one person that matters, you,”
Eunwoo tapped his fingers anxiously on the couch’s armrest, carefully considering Nara’s words. She did have a point; this could be his chance to prove that he was more than just a coward… but it could also get him killed. Still, he couldn’t fight the feeling in the back of his mind, the urge to be a part of something bigger.
“You know what… I’ll do it,” Eunwoo said with a sigh, trying to calm his nerves. His heart immediately started beating out of his chest as he wondered if he’d made the right decision. Nara offered a smile and a supportive hand on his knee.
“That’s good to hear, and don’t be nervous Eunwoo. I can assure you that you will be doing humanity a great service. I’ll send a car for you tomorrow morning, that’s when we’ll be having our official mission briefing,” Nara stood up and brushed off her skirt, “And thank you again for the excellent tea Mr. Cha,”
With that, Nara was gone through the door, leaving behind only a file on the coffee table with Eunwoo’s name written on it, along with the words “Astro Combat League, Ranger Series Operator: Lupus Blue”.
“Fuck, I can never get past this stupid boss,” Moonbin cursed at the arcade cabinet in front of him. Space Invaders Xtreme Chaos was the most difficult game at the Angel Grove Arcade, but Moonbin was the best gamer in the city… or at least he would be if he could manage to get past level 50…
“Perhaps you’d be better off using a different avatar. The tank is the slowest playable vehicle in the game,”
Moonbin raised his eyebrow at the feminine voice coming from behind him. He caught a glimpse of her blonde hair in the reflection on the screen. She was beautiful… but also distracting.
“What can I say, I like tanks. I’m always a damage role in RPG’s and I like blowing shit up,” Moonbin shrugged, “You can play as soon as I die,”
“I’m not here for that. Actually, I’m here for you,” the young woman said, immediately causing Moonbin to turn around and smirk. She sighed, “Not what I meant. I’m Kwon Nara of the Astro Combat League. We need to go somewhere private to discuss some serious matters, follow me please,”
Moonbin’s blood ran cold at the sight of Nara’s government badge. Was he in trouble? He hadn’t done anything illegal in months… well besides smoking his brother’s weed, but there was no way they could know about that! Despite his misgivings, he followed her, figuring it was better than trying to make a run for it. Soon enough they were in the back of a black car with opaque tinted windows, discussing the details of some interstellar mission.
“So… let me get this straight. You want me to use an alien gem to transform into some kind of space warrior?” Moonbin wondered aloud. About a year ago he’d be laughing at the absurdity of what he’d just said, but after trying to fight off some alien robots and witnessing a mild-mannered nerd transform into a superhero right before his eyes, he was a little more open to the impossible.
“That’s right. Your DNA was compatible with one of the Dai Gems, so there isn’t anyone else that can take your place,”
“Damn right there isn’t! There’s only one Moonbin,” he chuckled, “I’m in, got nothing better to do around here. I’ve been out of school for a solid six months and I still can’t find a damn job,”
“Well rest assured, you’ll be paid handsomely for your service, and if you’d like, the Astro Initiative will cover any college tuition fees upon your return,” Nara said, handing over a file, “Now then, I’ll see you in the morning for the mission briefing,”
With that, Moonbin got out of the car, watching as it drove off down the road. He glanced down at the file and a wide smile stretched across his face as he read, “Astro Combat League, Ranger Series Operator: Taurus Black,”
“You’ve been officially discharged Mr. Skullovitch, but please remember to regularly take your medications. We wouldn’t want you to end up in here again,” Alice said softly, disconnecting the IV drip from the patient’s arm.
“You’ve been a lovely nurse Ms. Song, thank you again,” the man replied with a warm smile. Seeing patients smile was what Alice lived for and she was certain that becoming a nurse was the best decision she’d ever made. As she returned to the nurse’s station to look over another medical chart, one of her coworkers stepped over to her.
“Hey Alice, there’s a lady here to see you, she says it’s important,” the young male nurse said, motioning toward the young blonde girl standing near the entrance to the ER. Alice was a bit confused, she’d never seen this young lady before, but clearly she must’ve known her well enough request her by name. Alice quickly sat down her pen and clipboard and walked over to the young woman.
“Hi, I’m Alice Song, how can I help you?”
“Ms. Song, my name is Kwon Nara, I’m with the Astro Combat League,” she quickly flashed a badge, “If you’ll come with me to the cafeteria, there’s something I need to discuss with you,”
Alice was somewhat shocked; why would a government official want to talk to her? She followed the woman into the cafeteria, which was mostly empty at this hour. They sat at a table in the back of the room and Nara sat down a file.
“Surely you remember last year’s alien invasion?”
“How could anyone forget?” Alice replied; it was a dumb question really. The entire world was taken by storm by some technologically advanced madman from across the stars and his army of robots… an army that sent hundreds of people to the hospital. Alice had never seen anything like it; she’d read the reports of wartime nurses from World War 2 and Vietnam, but nothing could’ve prepared her for an enemy from another world.
“Long story short, we discovered these gems inside the wreckage of the alien ship. They only react to certain DNA samples, and yours was one of them. Basically… we need you to join our fight Ms. Song. We’re planning an interstellar mission that will require a defense force, we’re asking you to be a part of that defense force,”
“Me? A-are you sure? I’ve never been in a fight in my life! Besides, I can’t just abandon my job, this hospital needs me,”
“All the necessary training will be provided. And as for the hospital… would you really like to continue helping patients here, or would you like to go on a mission that could potentially save all of humanity?”
Now that was a good question. There was no doubt that Alice’s efforts were appreciated at the hospital, but what Nara was talking about could be integral to mankind’s future…
“Okay, okay… I’ll do it, but I need more information first,” Alice hesitantly agreed.
“Splendid,” Nara slid the file across the table to Alice before standing up, “Join us tomorrow morning for the mission briefing and you’ll have all the info you need,”
As Nara left the cafeteria, Alice noticed some words on the envelope…
“Astro Combat League, Ranger Series Operator: Cassiopeia Yellow,”
Summer vacations were supposed to be fun, not spent behind a Youth Center’s front desk forcing people to sign in and out. Yet, that was the predicament Sanha found himself in for yet another summer, and this particular day was a slow one. He’d already watched every single video in his YouTube subscription feed, and he’d bored himself of the obviously fake prank videos… now he was just sitting there with his head on the desk, desperately wishing for the time to go by faster.
The ringing bell of the door opening, managed to get his attention, if only for a moment.
“Welcome to the Angel Grove Youth Center! Please sign in,” he said promptly, putting on his patented customer service voice. He was so used to reciting that line, he almost didn’t notice how stunningly gorgeous the girl that walked in was. Girls like that usually spent all their time shopping in Silver Hills, not hanging out at a Youth Center.
“Yoon Sanha?” she asked, raising a questioning eyebrow.
“Y-yes,” he replied, suddenly intimidated by her beauty.
“I’m Kwon Nara of the Astro Combat League. There’s something we need to talk about,” she placed an envelope on the desk in front of him. For the next few minutes, she explained the situation to him.
“That all sounds incredible!” Sanha said, incredibly excited. An interstellar mission? A space traveling defense force?! When he’d first seen the Astro Initiative on TV the previous summer, he was ecstatic, and now they were here recruiting him?! “You don’t have to ask twice, I’ll definitely join the team! Anything’s better than spending my summer here behind a desk,”
“I’m glad you’re so eager, but you’re also a bit young… make sure you clear it with your parents first. They’d never win a legal battle against us, but still the whole thing would be a PR nightmare,” Nara said, “Have that taken care of with a signed letter of permission by tomorrow morning’s mission briefing,”
With that, Nara left, allowing Sanha to truly examine the envelope. He almost shrieked in glee when he read the words, “Astro Combat League, Ranger Series Operator; Libra Gold,”
Rocky hated early mornings. Being a military kid meant that he was used to them, but he never liked them. He was currently seated in what looked an awful lot like a classroom at the military base. Four other people had been gathered there; a much smaller number than what Rocky assumed, considering nine gems were discovered in the ship’s wreckage. Two of them were talking in the back of the room, apparently they knew each other from high school or something like that. It wasn’t long before Nara came in, looking flawless even though it was so early in the morning. She was accompanied by a man Rocky didn’t recognize and of course, Commander Park.
“Glad to see you all made it here safely. Unfortunately we don’t have time for pleasantries, we’ll have to get right down to business,” Nara said, clearing her throat, “This is the Astro Aeronautics Engineer, Dr. Tony Ahn and this is Astro Combat League Commander Park Chanyeol. They serve as the true backbone of this operation, and now I will allow them to explain the purpose of this mission to all of you,”
With that, Nara took a seat next to Rocky as his father stepped forward, opening a briefcase that launched a holographic projector.
“That’s so fucking cool, it’s a hologram!” Rocky heard from the back of the room, quickly followed by a hushed, “Shut up Moonbin,”
“Fourteen months ago, a threat from beyond Earth attacked our planet. This threat came in the form of Prince Woozi, self-proclaimed youngest prince of the Dai Empire. Within mere hours of Woozi’s attack, thousands of cities all over the world were met with unparalleled destruction, and despite the best military efforts from countries across the globe, we were powerless to stop him,” Commander Park’s words were joined by holographic images of alien fighter ships, and widespread damage, “Thankfully, a team of heroes known as the Power Rangers arose and swiftly defeated the threat… but we cannot let our guard down,”
“Commander Park is right,” Dr. Ahn interjected, “Woozi said that he was the youngest prince of an Empire… meaning that there are others like him out there and they have established a strong foothold elsewhere in the galaxy. We realized quickly that even with him gone, Earth will never truly be safe… not unless we took extra steps to defend ourselves. Discovering the Dai Gems, allowed us to take those steps,”
“This mission will take us across the stars on this, the Astro One space station,” Commander Park said as an image of the enormous station was projected. It looked almost like a giant, six pointed star hovering in space, “Our goal is to take the fight to the Dai Empire, before any more of them decide to show up on Earth’s doorstep,”
“And where do we come in? Nara said we’d be part of some kind of defense force?” the young man sitting directly behind Rocky asked.
“The five of you will serve as the sword of the Astro Combat League. You will take on the role of the new Power Rangers team,”
“Us? Power Rangers?! But, don’t you have to have like… crazy superpowers or something to be a Power Ranger?!” Moonbin shouted from the back of the room.
“My technology will take care of that,” Dr. Ahn said, an image of what looked to be a star-shaped watch appearing on the projector, “This is an Astro Morpher. When a particular Dai Gem is inserted into it and the vocal command is activated, it generates enough energy to teleport one of my suits around you. The gem will then be implanted in the suit’s chest, where it will act as a power core. These Ranger suits provide extra protection, and enhance the wearer’s natural strength, speed and agility. Each suit also comes with unique design features, that will give each of you different strategic advantages in the field,”
“That sounds… intense,” the woman on Rocky’s left mumbled.
Rocky was certainly intrigued; it truly was a technological marvel. No wonder the Astro Initiative was quoted as being so ambitious.
“Are there any questions?” Commander Park asked. Everyone began to mumble amongst themselves, but only Rocky slightly raised his hand, “Yes Min… Rocky?”
“Only one question sir. When do we leave?”
A small smirk found its way onto the commander’s face.
“You’ll have one week to get all your affairs in order before we board the Astro One Station. If that’s all, then the five of you are dismissed,”
Rocky stood up from the small desk he was sitting at and watched as the other four people left the room. Rocky approached Commander Park.
“Permission to speak freely sir?” he asked.
“Permission granted. What’s on your mind son?”
“Do you really have faith in this mission, or in the candidates? I mean, you didn’t even get a chance to choose who you wanted for the job… and this isn’t a regular military op, we’re going to space to fight an advanced alien empire,”
“I’m gonna be honest with you Rocky,” Commander Park placed a hand on Rocky’s shoulder, “I’m a bit nervous about this whole thing, there are so many opportunities for this to go wrong and I’m really not sure we’re gonna succeed, but we don’t have a choice. If we want to keep Earth safe, we have to take this mission. I’m glad you accepted the job son, the team is gonna a need a field leader like you,”
“Me? Field leader? But I have no experience,”
“I have faith in you son, you’ll do a great job. Why don’t you go get some rest for now?”
“Will do,” Rocky sighed, turning to exit the room. As he was walking out, Nara stopped him.
“You should just tell him how you feel Rocky. I’m sure he’d understand if you don’t want to be leader and choose someone else,”
“I can handle it Nara,” Rocky sidestepped her, “I’ll be in the gym if anyone needs me,”
As Rocky walked to the gym, he fought the nerves building in his stomach. In one week’s time he would be traveling across the stars, leading a team of warriors in a frankly insane effort to save the world…
All he could do was hope he was up for the task.
Chapter 2: Astro One
The team boards the Astro One space station for the first time. Meanwhile, a threat from across the galaxy makes a sinister plan
“Holy shit, that’s incredible!” Sanha pressed his face against the glass of the small space shuttle as they approached Earth’s moon. No one on board had ever left the atmosphere before, and seeing the vast wonders of space was more than enough to blow their minds.
“Team, say hello to Astro One, the mobile space station that you’ll be calling home for the duration of our mission,” Nara explained. The station itself looked like an enormous star, floating next to the moon almost like a satellite of some kind. It was made of some reflective silver material, and lights of the various rooms dotted the exterior.
“This is pretty cool, I’ve gotta admit,” Eunwoo said softly as the shuttle docked in Astro One’s hangar bay. They exited the shuttle and Rocky couldn’t help but gasp in awe of the view of Earth through the hangar’s windows. He’d spent the last week wrapping his head around the idea of going to space, but now that he was actually there, he realized nothing could prepare him for the feeling.
“Hello Rangers, glad to see you all made it okay,” Commander Park called from a railing above where the group was standing, “We’ll be departing for the space colony KO-35 in a few hours and the trip will take us about two days at near light speed,”
“Two whole days? What are we supposed to do for two days?” Moonbin asked. A sudden feminine giggle drew everyone’s attention to the entrance to the hangar bay as a young girl carrying a data pad that resembled an apple product entered the room. Her hair was streaked with pink and blue highlights and a pink rhinestone Pegasus charm adorned her neck, contrasting with her completely white Astro Initiative uniform. She looked way too young to be part of the Initiative in an advisory capacity, but Rocky wasn’t sure of her credentials.
“That’s a stupid question. Oh no, whatever shall we do on a space station that has training rooms and recreational areas and, probably most amazing of all, free Wi-Fi?!” the girl said, snorting with laughter at her own mocking tone.
“Uh, who are you exactly?” Moonbin rolled his eyes so hard it looked like he was gonna break something.
“That’s Ahn Yeoreum!” Sanha said, waving frantically, “We go to school together at Angel Grove Aeronautics Technical High! Isn’t Tony Ahn your dad Yeoreum?”
The girl simply nodded in reply.
“The Engineer that made the ranger tech?” Alice wondered aloud. Rocky nodded.
“My dad may have created the tech, but I designed the sweet looking suits so you know, you’re welcome,” Yeoreum replied with a nonchalant shrug, “Anyway, my dad told me to introduce myself to you guys, since I’ll be working closely with you all and the other advisors while we’re on this mission. I’ll be helping out with the Voyager Project, as well as a few other things. It’s time to finally put my astrophysics skills to good use,”
“What’s the Voyager Project?” Eunwoo asked.
“It’s a secret for now, but don’t worry you’ll find out soon enough,”
“Now that you’ve been introduced,” Commander Park cut in, “Make yourselves at home, you’ll want to become familiar with the station,”
“I’m sure I can guess the layout of this floating military base, considering I’ve lived on a grounded one my entire life,” Rocky said, heading off toward the door, “I’m going to find my room, if you need me that’s where I’ll be,”
The moment he was gone, Moonbin took Eunwoo’s hand.
“Hey, let’s explore the station together,” Moonbin said, taking on a noticeably sweeter tone than he usually spoke with. Eunwoo couldn’t help but be slightly confused; of course he and Moonbin went to high school together, but they never really talked back then. As he remembered it, Moonbin actually used to be… kind of a douchebag.
“Um… I’m not trying to be rude or anything but… why do you wanna go with me?”
“Well, there’s a few reasons actually. First off, you’re really hot. Second, you’re like the hottest guy I’ve ever seen in my life and third… dude you’re fucking gorgeous,” Moonbin said with the greasiest smirk in the universe. Eunwoo scoffed and immediately turned his back on Moonbin.
“Seriously Moonbin, you’re such a charmer,” Eunwoo sarcastically replied, walking off. Moonbin quickly stopped him, taking his hand again.
“Whoa calm down Eunwoo, I was just joking around,” Moonbin insisted, “The real reason is because well, you’re the only familiar face here and we’re literally leaving our families, friends, and homes behind so… I guess I got a little attached to you for some stupid reason,”
Eunwoo relaxed a bit and sighed.
“Sorry Moonbin, I’m just… well, I’m a little stressed about all that myself. It is kinda nice to have someone from high school around,” Eunwoo replied, still allowing Moonbin to hold his hand as they started their walk through the station’s labyrinth of hallways.
“Dad? You in here?” Yeoreum called as she entered the tech lab. Her father’s equipment was strewn all over the place, along with the half-finished helmet of what looked like a new ranger suit. She looked around the space, but she didn’t see him anywhere. She’d just come in to drop off her data pad for his authorization, but she couldn’t help but feel drawn to the strange silver case on his desk next to his personal computer.
Yeoreum sat the data pad down and moved over to the case, smiling softly when she opened it and laid eyes on the magnificent, sparkling gems within. She’d been hearing about them for months, but now she could finally see them. As her fingers ghosted across the smooth surface of each gem, she noticed a particular static electric buildup whenever her hand got close to the pink gem. Out of curiosity, she finally touched it, and to her (literal) shock, the thing glowed like a Christmas tree light upon contact.
“Wicked,” she gasped, “My DNA is compatible with a Dai Gem? Wait a sec… where’s the orange one?”
“Ahn Yeoreum, what do you think you’re doing?!”
Yeoreum quickly jerked her hand away from the case as her father entered the room.
“I… I just came in to get your authorization for the Voyager Project, but then I saw the case and I… I’m sorry dad,” she said with a sigh as Dr. Ahn closed the case.
“You shouldn’t be messing with these gems Yeoreum. Even though we’re using them as a power source for the ranger suits, there’s still a lot we don’t know about them,”
“Yeah I know… but I do have a question. Did you know my DNA was compatible with the pink gem?” she asked, looking straight into her father’s eyes so that he couldn’t possibly lie to her. Dr. Ahn hesitated for a long moment before finally answering.
“Yes, I did. Families of Astro Initiative employees were the first samples to be tested. I hid the results from the Commander and the higher ups though,”
“But dad, if the Dai Empire is as big a threat as we think, we need a full team. We can’t just leave the Pink Ranger suit lying around when we have someone aboard the station who can operate it,”
“Yeoreum, I just don’t want you to be out there fighting against those monsters. I almost lost you in the invasion, I can’t bear the thought of you being hurt again,” Dr. Ahn said, sitting down at his workbench and rubbing his forehead in anxiety. Yeoreum moved some of his tools aside and sat down on the bench itself.
“Dad, I know you’re nervous about all this, and I am too if I’m being honest. I saw those creepy robots first hand and I know how dangerous it can be. But the only reason I’m even on this mission is because I wanted to help keep Earth safe, please don’t deny me the chance to do that,”
Dr. Ahn was silent for a while once more, staring at the picture on his desk of him, his late wife and Yeoreum when she was just a little girl.
“You remind me so much of your mother. You never cower in the face of danger, instead you flourish beneath its glare. I still have my misgivings but… I suppose you’re right. The Dai Empire is simply too dangerous, we’ll need all the help we can get. Welcome to the team Ranger Series Operator: Uh… wait, we never settled on a constellation for the pink suit’s title did we?”
“Dang it, I knew we were forgetting something,” Yeoreum giggled. Her Pegasus charm gleamed in the light of her father’s desk lamp, and seeing the pink rhinestones on it immediately reminded her of her mother’s smile the day she gave it to her as a birthday present, “I think I have an idea for what we can call it,”
“This was a terrible idea,” Alice thought out loud as she unpacked her suitcase “Boarding a space station and fighting against crazy aliens, becoming a Power Ranger… this is all just crazy, I should’ve never agreed to come on this mission,”
She sighed, sitting down on her surprisingly comfortable bed and running an exasperated hand through her hair. She’d told herself countless times over the past week that she was doing this to stop widespread pain like what she saw during the first invasion, but how much help could she really be? She was a nurse, not a warrior.
Alice was suddenly snapped out of her thoughts by a light knock on her door.
“Come on in,”
Sanha poked his head in the door, looking a bit shy.
“Sorry to interrupt, I just… I don’t know, I guess I wanted to make sure you were okay. You seemed a little distant back in the hangar bay and well, we’re teammates now so we should look out for each other,”
“Aww you’re so sweet Sanha,” Alice giggled, walking over to the door and pulling the younger boy into a hug, “You don’t need to be worried about me though. I’ll admit, this is… a bit much to take in, but I’ll be alright. I mean, what choice do we have right?”
“I guess you’re right, but still we should be able to talk to each other about anything,”
“Sanha… is there something you wanted to say to me?” Alice asked, raising a curious eyebrow. She noticed tears welling up in Sanha’s eyes, “Hey, what’s wrong? Come here,”
She led him into the room and sat him down on her bed.
“It’s… well, today is the 16th,”
“It is… it would’ve been my sister’s 21st birthday,” Sanha admitted, his voice momentarily cracking as a single tear moved down his cheek.
“Oh my goodness, Sanha I’m so sorry to hear that,”
“Am I doing the right thing?” he blurted out, “Leaving Earth to fight aliens? I didn’t even get my mom’s permission, I faked her signature. She’s already lost my dad, and then my sister… what if I die out there? She’ll be all alone and it’s all because my own selfishness,”
“Sanha, I don’t think you’re selfish at all. Yes, you’re risking your life, but you’re doing it to keep the entire planet safe. I don’t think it was a great thing to forge your mom’s signature, but your heart’s in the right place,” Alice said, supportively patting his shoulder.
“Yeah… you’re right,” Sanha smiled weakly in reply, “I’m uh, I’m gonna go get settled. Thank you Alice,”
“You’re welcome Sanha, and any time you need me, I’ll be here for you alright?”
Sanha smiled, a bit more genuinely this time, before exiting the room, leaving Alice alone. Talking to him put things in perspective a bit; she was actually being selfish in her own right. Being aboard this station was a chance to help people, and she really had to remember that.
KYUNIN SYSTEM, PLANET EDENOI
Prince Aron marched through the hallways of his palace to the call chamber, backed by a group of his robot soldiers, and a particularly powerful mercenary that had just come into his employ. His flowing white cape draped the floor with every step as the large metallic doors opened ahead of him. Only the mercenary accompanied him into the call chamber, carrying with him a small box containing quite the archaeological find.
“System, place a call to Emperor D,” he spoke loudly and clearly, making sure the A.I could hear him.
“Yes Master Aron,”
Within seconds, a holographic projection of a cloaked figure, his father, appeared before him.
“Yes my son?”
“I’m sorry to call so suddenly father, but our slaves on Edenoi discovered something quite interesting in the mines,” Aron motioned for the mercenary to step forward before taking the small box from his hand. He opened it, revealing a sparkling purple gem, “Its properties are similar to the ones we found on Daimeria, the same ones that powered Woozi’s personal command ship,”
“So then it can generate similar amounts of energy when electrically charged?” Emperor D questioned, his voice booming throughout the room.
“In theory, yes. I’m working on a weapon that will be able to harness its power. Once complete I will take it to the planet Earth and decimate those fools arrogant enough to take my brother’s life,” Aron replied, a fire in his eyes.
“Your determination is commendable my son, but do not underestimate the warriors of Earth. Now, I have matters to attend to, notify me when your weapon is complete,” Emperor D ended the call, causing the hologram to dissipate. Aron closed the box, handing it back to the mercenary who cleared his throat to speak.
“Your plan is a great one sir,” he spoke slowly, waiting for the translation device on his chest to catch up to his words “And trust my word; the power of these gems is unmatched. You will be able to do wonders for the Dai Empire,”
“I need not take your word,” Aron snapped, “I’m well aware of the power these gems hold. If it weren’t for your skills, I would’ve simply killed you and taken the orange one that hangs around your neck. But alas, I have use for you. Now, come with me, we have much to do,”
The mercenary clenched his fist, but he knew not to challenge the Prince… not yet at least. As he followed Prince Aron out of the call chamber, his eyes drifted down to the star shaped watch-device on his wrist. In time his plan would reach fruition, but he just had to go with the flow of things for now…
Chapter 3: KO-35
The rangers arrive on the space colony KO-35 to complete the team's roster, and it seems like the higher ups are keeping secrets regarding the whereabouts of the Orange Dai Gem
“Approaching KO-35 orbit in fifteen minutes,” the robotic voice of Astro One’s autopilot echoed over the intercom as Commander Park looked at the holographic Galaxy Map.
“We’re picking up extremely strong energy signatures on these two planets, and another in this asteroid field here. Any idea what they could be?” the Commander wondered aloud. Dr. Ahn tapped his chin in thought for a moment before responding.
“I’d have to run some more tests, but they seem like Dai Gem signatures to be completely honest,”
“So you think there could be more Dai Gems than just the nine from Woozi’s ship?” Commander Park asked.
“Potentially, but as I said, we’ll have to run more tests to be sure,”
“Noted. Get a research team ready for further analysis when we reboard the station. Until then, we could all use some fresh oxygen down on the planet’s surface,” Commander Park said, patting Dr. Ahn’s shoulder as they headed for the hangar bay. The rangers had already assembled there, gathering around the shuttle. They all looked exhausted, since they’d spent the last two days in mandatory combat and weapons training (with special weight training for Moonbin to ensure he was able to operate his suit properly… although he wasn’t sure why he was singled out). Everyone was wearing their official uniforms; tight black bodysuits with silver jackets, complete with a belt matching their respective color.
“I was up all night reading about this colony,” Sanha said, stifling a yawn, “Apparently there’s only like, one habitable spot on the entire planet, like an oasis in the middle of a giant volcanic nightmare,”
“That sounds… well, dangerous,” Eunwoo replied, nervously scratching his neck. Moonbin pulled him into an awkward embrace, slipping his arm around the slightly taller boy’s waist.
“I’ll protect you Eunwoo,” he said with his trademarked smirk. Eunwoo quickly wiggled out of his grasp.
“I can protect myself Moonbin… thanks,”
“Fine, fine, if you insist,”
“Rangers, we have some gifts for you,” Commander Park spoke up, making his presence known. He was carrying a large silver case with the Astro Initiative logo emblazoned on it. He sat it down on the ground, opening it to reveal the team’s Astro Morphers, “We aren’t expecting trouble groundside, but we thought you should be prepared just in case,”
“Can’t forget these,” Yeoreum entered the hangar, carrying the Dai Gem case. Rocky quickly noticed that she was wearing a ranger uniform of her own, with a shining pink belt around her waist.
“Wait, so Yeoreum is the Pink Ranger? When did that happen?” Alice asked no one in particular.
“Eh who cares?” Yeoreum shrugged, cracking open the case and tossing everyone their corresponding gem, which had now been attached to necklaces. Once everyone had their gem and morpher, they boarded the shuttle, blasting off for KO-35. Rocky braced himself against the railing on the walls as the shuttle shook violently from entering the planet’s atmosphere, but once their vision cleared, it appeared that Sanha’s research was right.
The planet’s entire surface was covered by plumes of thick black smoke, raining ash and lakes of molten lava, but as they flew over the scorched ground, eventually something else came into view. A dome made purely of energy, surrounding a patch of greenery that seemed to be as out of place as a flower in a coal mine.
“This is Astro Combat League Commander Park Chanyeol approaching KO-35 colony Olympus, requesting permission to land,”
“Permission granted Commander Park,”
With that, a small circular hole opened in the dome and the shuttle was able to land safely. As everyone disembarked, they were floored by their surroundings. The protected Olympus Colony was absolutely stunning in its beauty; rivers flowed into awe inspiring waterfalls, green grass stretched as far as the eye could see, and the energy dome created a sapphire blue simulated sky.
“Wow, this place is incredible,” Rocky admitted.
“Alright team, you’ll have a few hours to relax while Astro One gears up for the long haul. Explore the colony and have some fun. Dr. Ahn and I have to meet with the Astro Initiative director, so try to keep yourselves out of trouble,” Commander Park said, waving as he and Dr. Ahn headed off into the city.
“So what should we do?” Sanha asked, “We’re on an alien planet, we have an awesome opportunity here!”
“According to the station’s data logs on KO-35, the colony doesn’t have much in the way of entertainment. It’s mostly a military installation, settled in the wake of the Dai Empire invasion,” Rocky sighed, looking at the holographic file projected from his Astro Morpher “Figures,”
“That’s the United Nations for you; even the first colony on an alien planet is just another way to outgun the enemy,” an unfamiliar voice chimed in. The group turned toward the entrance to the munitions depot and saw a young man approaching them. He was wearing a black uniform with silver stripes along the shoulders. On his chest was a small nametag that read ‘Lt. Park Jinwoo’.
“Wait… Jinjin?” Rocky was puzzled; Jinwoo was the last person he’d expected to see there, “What the hell are you doing here?”
“Nice to see you too little brother. I got stationed here a few months back, mostly to oversee training the fledgling defense force” Jinwoo pulled Rocky into a hug that the younger boy quickly shook off, “Ah, just as loving as ever. So this is the team dad assembled huh? They don’t really look like ranger material,”
“Oh and I guess you do? Must be at least this tall to morph,” Moonbin snapped, making an imaginary height line with his hands.
“Physicality is only part of a soldier’s necessary qualifications,” Jinwoo glared at Moonbin, “And clearly you don’t have the mental capabilities, which is why you’ll be happy to know that I’m joining your team,”
“Fucking wonderful,” Moonbin crossed his arms.
“Wait what? You’re compatible with a Dai Gem?” Rocky asked.
“Dad didn’t tell you? Astro One is docked here for supplies and fuel, but also to finish rounding up the team,” Jinwoo explained, “I’m Ranger Series Operator: Ophiuchus Silver… and by the way, I have a serious problem with the frivolous suit designs and pointless, and frankly childish naming conventions. And why do the suit colors need to reflect the gem’s colors? This all seems incredibly unnecessary,”
“Did he just insult my suit designs?” Yeoreum glared at Jinwoo hard enough to pop a blood vessel.
“Jeez dude lighten up,” Sanha said with a chuckle, “Man, you make Rocky seem fun by comparison,”
“Hey, let’s calm down everyone,” Alice chimed in, eager to break the tension, “If we’re gonna being working together we need to try our best to get along right?”
“Precisely,” Jinwoo said, “Now, while my dad is busy reporting to Director Kim, we should probably find our Chameleon Green. According to the data file I received ahead of your arrival, she works here in the starship graveyard, salvaging working parts from otherwise defunct ships,”
“So much for having fun on an alien world,” Sanha said with a sigh as the group fell in line behind Jinwoo, following him to their destination. Soon enough they were arriving at the starship graveyard; a massive crater full of gutted spacecraft. It didn’t look like anyone would be caught dead in this place, but the sound of distant rock music proved otherwise. Rocky squinted and could make out the figure of someone jumping around with a jetpack, lugging a giant net of scraps.
“Is that her?” he wondered.
“Yeah, that’s her. Kim Hyelim,” Jinwoo confirmed. Hyelim hovered over to where the group was standing on the edge of the crater and dropped her net, sending it clattering to the ground in front of Jinwoo. She slowly made her descent and deactivated her jetpack, landing with a soft thud.
Rocky couldn’t help but notice her… somewhat outlandish appearance; her hair was streaked with iridescent blues, purples and greens and she was wearing a grease smudged, beat up green jumpsuit with a pair of thick goggles hanging around her neck.
“Well if it isn’t Sgt. Stick up the ass,” Hyelim said, rolling her eyes at Jinwoo, “You were supposed to be here two hours ago,”
“The Astro One station was a bit late arriving, but we’re here now” Jinwoo cleared his throat and began to introduce Hyelim to the team, “Leo Red Rocky, Lupus Blue Eunwoo, Cassiopeia Yellow Alice, Taurus Black Moonbin, Libra Gold Sanha and Pegasus Pink Yeoreum,”
“Nice to meet all of you,” Hyelim shook everyone’s hands, “Hopefully you guys are more down to earth than this guy,”
“I like her,” Yeoreum whispered to Sanha, earning a chuckle from him.
“So this means that all of the gems are spoken for except for the orange one, right?” Eunwoo asked, counting on his fingers to make sure he was correct.
“About that,” Yeoreum motioned for everyone to come closer, as if there was anyone else around to hear what she was about to say, “The other day I noticed that the orange Dai Gem was missing from the container, along with one of the Astro Morphers. My dad has to know it’s gone, and same goes for Commander Park, yet neither of them have mentioned it,”
“So you think they’re hiding something from us?” Sanha wondered.
“Great,” Hyelim shook her head, “I’ve been on this team for all of five seconds and there are already secrets,”
Rocky tapped his chin in thought; what on earth could Dr. Ahn and his father be hiding from the team? Did they already find an Orange Ranger? There were so many questions, but he couldn’t say he was surprised. The military was all about keeping secrets, but he would definitely be getting some answers before Astro One left KO-35…
Commander Park stepped into the dimly lit director’s office with Dr. Ahn following closely behind him.
“Good afternoon Director Kim,” Commander Park said, much more softly than usual as he sat in front of the Director’s desk. He always felt nervous whenever he had to deal with the Director, especially since the Dai’s invasion of Earth.
“Good afternoon Commander, Doctor,” Director Kim flatly replied, his face still mostly shrouded in the shadows of the lamp lit room, “Here to finish assembling your team?”
“Good. Is there a particular reason you wished to meet with me?”
“Yes, it’s about the situation regarding Scorpio Orange,”
“The other rangers don’t know about that yet, do they?” Director Kim asked, a sudden apprehensive tone to his voice.
“No, they don’t. I’m just not 100% sure that it’s a good idea,” Commander Park replied, finally working up the nerve to voice his true feelings on the matter.
“It may not be,” even in the shadows, Director Kim’s shrug was evident, “But it’s 100% necessary. Remember, you’re not to breathe a word of it to the rangers,”
“Understood,” Commander Park said through clenched teeth. He didn’t like hiding things from his rangers, no matter how “necessary” it seemed…
KYUNIN SYSTEM, PLANET EDENOI
The cloaked mercenary moved through the palace with confidence, ignoring the judging glares of the Dai Knights that surrounded him. He wasn’t part of the empire by blood, and they’d never let him forget it. Many of them were jealous of the power hanging around his neck; power that made him the preferred choice for Prince Aron’s personal warrior.
His cloak draped the ground as he entered the throne room, kneeling before Prince Aron’s massive twisted chair.
“You summoned me Prince?”
“We’ve picked up a cluster of energy signatures in the Miranthius System, signatures that match the gem found in the cave and the one hanging around your neck,” Prince Aron was practically laying across his throne, his attention diverted to the purple gem he was tossing between his hands, “I want you to travel there and retrieve the other gems,”
“As you wish Prince,” the mercenary stood up and saluted, heading for the launch bay. He knew this day would come eventually, and he could only hope that he was ready for this particular challenge.
Chapter 4: Astro, Ok Ready
Prince Aron's mercenary attacks KO-35 in search of the other Dai Gems and the Astro League rangers morph for the first time to fight back
Thunder boomed and lightning lit up the window in Moonbin’s bedroom, forcing him out of his sleep with a terrified scream. As rain pelted the glass, he clenched his Final Fantasy bedsheets in abject terror. Finally deciding he’d had enough, he leapt out of his bed and took off running down the hallway toward his parents’ bedroom, but he stopped in his tracks before entering…
Their bedroom door was slightly open, and through the doorway he could see a cloaked figure standing over their bed, and what looked like a mechanical tail extending from beneath the cloak and hovering over his parents’ motionless bodies, lying in their bed. The tip of the tail was sharp, and looked almost like a knife glinting in the light from the streetlamp outside. What was worse than that though, was the odd red liquid dripping off the sharpened tip… wait, red? That could only mean…
“NO!” Moonbin screamed, jolting upwards into a sitting position and immediately surveying his surroundings. He was lying in his bed, safe in his room aboard Astro One. His shirtless body was drenched in sweat and his heart was beating out of his chest. He sighed, trying to calm himself. It wasn’t the first time he had that particular nightmare, and he was all but certain that it wouldn’t be the last. The worst part about that recurring dream, was that it wasn’t just a dream… it was a memory.
Not wanting to be alone in his metal box of a bedroom, Moonbin threw on one of his many black tank tops and began roaming the hallways of the station. It was pretty late, so just about everyone was asleep, but he could think of one particular night owl that was definitely still awake. Within minutes he was knocking on Cha Eunwoo’s door, eagerly awaiting a response. After about two minutes the door slid open, revealing a flush-faced Eunwoo wearing nothing but a white towel around his waist; Moonbin must’ve caught him coming out of the shower.
“Oh, hi Moonbin, what are you doing here?” Eunwoo asked, waiting for Moonbin’s inevitable comment about his practically nude state, but the comment never came. Instead Moonbin just sighed and rubbed his forehead.
“You got a minute to talk?”
“Uh, sure of course,” Eunwoo said, slightly worried about him, “Just give me a sec to throw something on,”
Within a few minutes, they were sitting on Eunwoo’s bed with their legs crossed, listening to ticking sound of the old-school wall clock Eunwoo had brought with him from Earth.
“So…” Eunwoo spoke up, finally breaking the awkward silence, “What did you want to talk about?”
“I don’t know why I’m unloading this on you, but if I don’t tell someone I’m gonna go insane,” Moonbin started, taking a deep breath before continuing, “I keep having this nightmare about my parents being killed by some dude in a hood,”
Eunwoo was taken aback; that certainly wasn’t what he expected to hear.
“Well, I remember reading somewhere that recurring dreams can be a sign of stress, or maybe some subconscious fear?”
“It’s nothing like that,” Moonbin assured him, “It’s a dream about the night my parents actually died. You see, I was only five years old, but I remember running into their room one night during a thunderstorm, and seeing this hooded guy with a mechanical tail…”
“Yes, a mechanical tail, standing over their bed. It was like he could control the thing with his mind or something because it was moving on its own. The point is, he used that thing to kill my parents in cold blood,” Moonbin was fighting back tears at that point, prompting Eunwoo to move closer to him and place a supportive hand on his back.
“That’s… really heavy. Why would anyone want to murder your parents?”
“They were high profile genetic researchers for the government. I always assumed it had something to do with that,”
“I’m so sorry you had to go through that Moonbin,” Eunwoo said softly. Hearing that gave him an entirely new view of Moonbin; someone tortured by a horrible past, overcompensating for his pain through false bravado and cockiness. As much as he hated seeing Moonbin so upset, Eunwoo couldn’t help but feel like this was his first look at the real Moonbin.
“Let’s just talk about something else… what’s your relationship with your parents like?” Moonbin asked.
“Well, I never knew my mom, and since my dad is gay I always assumed I was probably adopted. Crazy thing is, I look too much like him for that to be the case,” Eunwoo chuckled a bit and continued, “Either way, I’m really close to my dad. There are no secrets,”
“That’s… wow, I can’t imagine what that’s like,” Moonbin shifted uncomfortably on Eunwoo’s bed.
“Hey Bin,” Eunwoo placed a hand on his shoulder, “If you’re not comfortable sleeping alone in your room, you can stay here with me,”
“Are you sure Eunwoo?” Moonbin was somewhat shocked; Eunwoo always rejected his advances, although getting in Eunwoo’s pants wasn’t exactly his goal at the moment.
“Yeah, you’re clearly hurting and I don’t want you to be alone… no one should have to be alone when they’re going through pain,”
“Well then… yeah, I’d like to stay here with you,”
Eunwoo laid down and patted the spot next to him. Moonbin snuggled in close, listening to the taller boy’s breathing. If this moment of emotional turmoil made anything clear, it was that being a Power Ranger wouldn’t be able to solve all his problems the way he’d hoped. He was lightyears away from Earth and yet he was still being plagued by nightmares, although lying there next to Eunwoo made him feel something he hadn’t felt in years…
“Good morning everyone!” Sanha excitedly called, strolling into the Astro One conference room and grabbing a seat next to Jinwoo, who looked stonefaced and serious. That wasn’t surprising; Jinwoo always looked like that… but the others had the same expression. Commander Park narrowed his eyes on Sanha.
“You’re twenty minutes late for the briefing,” he said flatly.
“Yeah I know and I’m sorry but you made the call so early and I had to get showered up and…”
“When a meeting is called you are to report to the conference room immediately,” Commander Park quickly cut him off, “Understood?”
“Good. Now, almost thirty minutes ago an unidentified spacecraft appeared in KO-35’s orbit and started assaulting the Olympus Colony shield generator with a barrage of digital attacks, trying to bring it down. They were eventually successful, and now the colony has been almost entirely overrun by, well… see for yourselves,” Commander Park brought up the holographic display, showing the Dai Empire robot soldiers stomping through the city streets, blasting everything in sight with their wrist mounted laser cannons. Leading the charge was a strange cloaked man, the lower half of his face concealed by a mask.
“Do we know the purpose of the attack?” Jinwoo immediately asked.
“They seem to be searching for something, but we don’t yet know what. We need you all to intervene, before the colony is entirely destroyed,”
“So wait, it’s time isn’t it?” Sanha grinned from ear to ear, “It’s morphin’…”
Alice quickly shot him a glance that told him to calm down a bit.
“Everyone make sure you have your gems and Morphers and get to the shuttle,” Commander Park ordered. Once they were inside, Sanha did his best to whisper to Rocky.
“Everyone’s pretty pissed at me huh?” He asked.
“Obviously,” Rocky replied. He noticed Sanha’s expression, and realized that he’d been a bit too harsh, “What I mean is… you’re a Ranger now Sanha, and your actions have serious, life or death consequences. I know that can be kinda hard to grasp, but if you’re gonna do this, then you need to have your head in the game 100%,”
Within minutes the shuttle had breached KO-35’s atmosphere, and was landing in the Olympus Colony. The team quickly vacated the shuttle, and almost all of them started to cough violently.
“Damn it, without the shield up the colony is losing oxygen fast,” Yeoreum quickly grabbed the gem from around her neck and placed it in the center of her Astro Morpher, “Our ranger suits have limited oxygen supplies of their own, it should be enough until we can get the shield back online,”
As soon as her gem was inserted, her Morpher’s automated voice called out, “Pegasus Gem inserted,” she pressed down on it, thus initiating the Morphing sequence, “Ok, ready,”
With that there was a blinding flash of pink light and the moment it was clear, Yeoreum stood before the team as the Pink Ranger. Her suit was sleek and well designed, with a noticeable star pattern on the chest plate which now housed the pink gem. Her helmet’s visor was designed in the shape of a Pegasus and a pair of flight-ready wings adorned her back. Not wasting a moment, the others inserted their own gems.
“Leo Gem inserted,”
“Lupus Gem inserted,”
“Cassiopeia Gem inserted,”
“Taurus Gem inserted,”
“Ophiuchus Gem inserted,”
“Chameleon Gem inserted,”
“Libra Gem inserted. Ok, ready,”
Multiple flashes of light occurred and there they stood, each wearing a unique ranger suit, designed with specific special weapons or abilities. Each had the same star patterned chest plate holding their gem, but beyond that they were very different.
Rocky’s suit seemed the most basic in its design, but the lion-head shaped visor stood apart from the others. Also, he was one of the only ones that came equipped with a special weapon in the form of a large sword strapped to his back, with a blade made of a crimson red metal that Yeoreum explained was from another world and nearly indestructible. All that existed had been used to craft Rocky’s sword, nicknamed the Lion Blade.
Eunwoo’s suit highly resembled a wolf, complete with a temperature regulated fur texture on the outside that would assist him in cold environments and a set of razor sharp claws. The wolf ears on the helmet also greatly enhanced his hearing.
Alice’s suit was fairly standard as well, but much like Rocky she had her own unique weapons; two plasma swords with yellow energy blades, matching the color of her suit quite well.
Moonbin’s suit was the most visually striking, and it immediately became clear why he needed special training to operate it. It wasn’t a suit as much as a walking tank, towering over the others. It was as black as the night sky with the visor extending out past the face in the shape of bull horns. The thing was so large that Moonbin was actually sitting down inside it, strapped into a complex rig that allowed him to pilot the machine, complete with a screen in front of him displaying a video feed of the suit’s exterior so he could see what the hell he was doing.
Jinwoo’s silver suit had a snake-like scale design going down the sides of it, and it was the only one with a psionic transmitter in the helmet that would allow him to mentally freeze anyone he made eye contact with, although doing so would put considerable stress on his own mind.
Sanha’s suit was bulky and somewhat robotic, but that detail meant that he had a bit of extra protection from damage. That wasn’t the best feature about his beautiful golden suit though, it was definitely the fact that he could mentally interface with most technology, making him an adept hacker.
And lastly, Hyelim’s suit was pretty standard in its basic design as well, but with the added functionality of a localized cloaking device that would allow her to become invisible whenever she pleased… not a bad trade off.
“Wow, we look really fucking awesome,” Moonbin said excitedly, experimentally moving the arms of his suit, accidentally almost hitting Eunwoo standing next to him, “Sorry,”
“We need to split up. Alpha team finds the Daibots and takes out their commander and Beta team restarts the shield generator,” Jinwoo ordered, causing Rocky to cut in.
“I’m the field leader Jinwoo, not you,”
“You got a better plan little brother?”
“Just… shut up. Alpha team will be me, Eunwoo, Moonbin, and Yeoreum. Beta team is Sanha, Jinwoo, Hyelim and Alice,”
The two teams separated and moved off toward their separate objectives. It didn’t take long for Alpha Team to track down the Daibots, blasting buildings, cars and unfortunately… people. As the laser bolts hit them, they were either blistered and horribly burned, or torn apart completely depending on the distance.
“Oh my god… oh my god,” Eunwoo hysterically repeated, “This is horrible,”
“We need to stop this. Now,” Rocky pulled the Lion blade from his back and ran forward, much faster than he intended, sending him crashing into one of the Daibots and knocking it down. Taking advantage of this mishap, he stabbed through its back while it was down. This drew the attention of the rest of the battalion, which turned to face him, aiming their arm cannons. Just before they opened fire, Moonbin stepped in front of Rocky, using his massive suit as a shield against their laser bolts.
“We’re gonna need a better plan than that buddy!” Moonbin yelled over the sound of laser fire, “This suit is durable, but I’m not sure if it’s gonna hold up against these lasers forever,”
“Maybe not forever, but long enough!” Yeoreum said, flying through the line of Daibots faster than Rocky’s eyes could track, beheading all of them and causing them to collapse to the ground in lifeless heaps.
“Awesome moves!” Moonbin complimented her as she landed next to him.
“Why thank you,”
“We’ve gotta keep moving if we wanna find the Daibots’ leader,” Rocky said, returning the sword to his back, “Let’s go,”
“This should be where the shield generator is located,” Jinwoo pointed to the Power Department up ahead. Daibots guarded the outside of the building and bodies of dead guards littered the ground, “We need to fight our way inside,”
“Why fight our way in when we can sneak in?” Hyelim suggested, flipping on the cloaking switch on her suit’s gauntlet. The others watched in awe as she disappeared from view. Hyelim slowly moved toward the building, slowing down when she was passing the Daibots themselves. Just as she was about to go through the door, she was bathed in a red light coming from one of the Daibot’s eyes… shit, a heat sensor.
The Daibot aggressively grabbed Hyelim, throwing her several feet backwards and causing her to land with a thud, disengaging her cloak.
“Well, looks like we’re fighting our way in after all,” she said, standing to her feet as the rest of Beta team assembled around her, “Bummer,”
The team quickly went to work fighting off the Daibots, with Alice taking charge by cleaving them apart with her plasma blades.
“This is… actually easier than I thought it would be,” she proclaimed, slicing the head off one that tried to come from behind her. Sanha activated his suit’s hacking function and stopped three of them in their tracks, forcing them to turn their cannons on each other. When there were only two left standing, Jinwoo and Hyelim kicked them into each other with incredible force, breaking them apart on impact.
“Now, let’s get that generator back online,” Jinwoo said, heading inside.
After fighting through another group of Daibots, Alpha team finally had their leader cornered. They’d found him trying to escape to the starship he’d arrived in.
“Don’t take another step,” Rocky commanded, pointing the lion blade at the cloaked man’s back, “Who are you and what are you looking for?”
“Actually,” the man’s voice was a bit higher pitched than Rocky expected. He turned around and removed his hood and the mask covering the lower half of his face, revealing his youthful features. Shockingly, he looked entirely human, “I came here for you. That is to say, I came for your gems,”
“We’ll be keeping them, sorry to disappoint you,” Yeoreum retorted, hovering over the rest of the group.
“We shall see,” the man threw aside his cloak, revealing a black bodysuit that had a striking resemblance to the Astro League uniforms the team wore, even having an orange belt around his waist… but his belt seemed a bit more complex than everyone else’s. The belt seemed to have an incredibly advanced mechanical tail attachment, one that ended in a deadly knife-like spike.
“That… that tail,” Moonbin’s voice was shaky and full of rage, “You son of a bitch it was you!”
Rocky was slightly confused by Moonbin’s sudden outburst, but he didn’t have time to consider it before the massive black ranger was charging past him, knocking him aside to get to the man.
“Moonbin wait!” Eunwoo shouted, but it was too late. Moonbin brought the colossal fist of the black ranger suit crashing down over the mercenary’s head, but he was fast… really fast. He dodged the blow and his tail struck, hard and fast like a scorpion, completely disarming Moonbin… literally. The huge arm of the black ranger suit fell to the ground before the mercenary whipped his tail around again, slicing the other arm off too. With a powerful kick to the suit’s face plate, he sent Moonbin crashing backwards, unable to get up without the support of his arms.
“Now, let’s have some real fun, shall we?” the mercenary smirked, raising his arm to show off the Astro Morpher on his wrist and pulling the orange Dai Gem from around his neck.
“So he’s the one that stole those?” Rocky wondered aloud as the mercenary inserted the gem into the morpher.
“Scorpio Gem inserted. Ok, ready,”
In an orange flash, there he was; The Orange Ranger. The tail was integrated into his suit, making him exceptionally dangerous with its enhanced strength and speed.
“Well… that was certainly unexpected,” Yeoreum said with a shrug, “Let’s see if he can match my speed,”
She dive-bombed hard, ready to kick the Orange Ranger, but that tail of his struck her in the chest before clipping one of her wings, sending her spinning out and crashing into the ground. Rocky and Eunwoo figured the best strategy would be to attack him together, and so they charged in.
Rocky’s sword was at the ready, and he was surprised that with the suit’s help he was able to move fast enough to counter every strike of the Orange Ranger’s deadly tail. While the Orange Ranger was busy attacking Rocky, Eunwoo rushed toward him, baring his incredibly sharp claws. He pounced on the Orange Ranger, slashing into him with his claws, but it seemed like the tail’s movements were independent of the Orange Ranger’s movements, since it continued its assault on Rocky even though he was down.
Eventually he managed to push Eunwoo off of him at the same time that the tail’s speed and relentlessness finally overwhelmed Rocky, hitting him in the arm and forcing him to drop the Lion Blade before hitting him again in the chest, knocking him down. The tail really hurt; causing a burning sensation as it ripped through the suit’s armor. Eunwoo tried running in for another attack, but the tail got him in the back before he could strike again, throwing him aside with ease.
“Now then, time for your gems,” As the Orange Ranger approached, a thin barrier of energy started to form in the sky overhead; the generator must’ve been back online! “Damn it. If I don’t leave now I’ll be trapped here… you’ll be seeing me again Red Ranger,”
The Orange Ranger quickly returned to his starship, blasting off into the sky before the shield had returned to full power. They were safe, for now, but there were more questions now than ever. Why did the Orange Ranger want the Dai Gems? Where did he get the orange one and an Astro Morpher and what the hell was the deal with that tail of his?
Despite all the questions he had, Rocky was just glad that he and his team were alive to fight another day. Many of the civilians weren’t so lucky…
Chapter 5: Fallout
Commander Park reveals the truth about Scorpio Orange and Moonbin plans to get revenge
“I owe you all an explanation, this has gone on far too long,” Commander Park said with a sigh. The briefing room was filled by the rangers, with Moonbin seething in his seat, glaring at the commander.
“I’d say so. You and my father have been hiding the existence of the Orange Ranger from all of us. You two had to know that someone stole an Astro Morpher and the Orange Dai Gem,” Yeoreum shook her head in disgust, “Whatever’s going on here, we need to know… now,”
“Well, I’ll start with this. The Astro Morpher and Gem weren’t stolen… Kim Myungjun, or Scorpio Orange is an Astro Combat League Spec Ops Agent. He was sent ahead of the mission’s official launch to infiltrate the ranks of the Dai Empire to learn their secrets. So far, we’ve received this,” Commander Park fired up the holographic display, showing the image of what looked like an advanced space station, “This is a weapon currently being constructed by Dai Empire Prince Aron. It is apparently powered by a purple Dai Gem. In due time, Myungjun will be able to find a fatal weakness in the weapon that will allow us to destroy it, but until then his cover must remain intact,”
“Why couldn’t you tell us that sooner?” Rocky wondered aloud.
“We were sworn to secrecy by Director Kim,” Dr. Ahn said softly, speaking up for the first time.
“It’s true,” Nara cosigned, tapping her foot with constrained anger of her own, “Even I didn’t have the clearance to know about this… despite all I’ve done to help the commander,”
“Your efforts are highly valued Nara,” Commander Park assured her, “And if it was up to us, the eight of you would’ve known from day one,”
“Fuck all of that!” Moonbin shouted, finally losing it, “He’s the one who killed my parents!”
“What?!” everyone but Eunwoo was completely shocked.
“When I was a kid I saw someone with a mechanical tail just like his standing over my parents’ bed with their blood dripping from it! I don’t care if he’s a special agent or whatever, when I see him again, I’m going to kill him!”
“This has to be some kind of misunderstanding right? Moonbin, I know what you saw, but who knows? It could’ve been someone else with a tail weapon like that,” Eunwoo tried to reason with him.
“No one else would have that kind of weapon Eunwoo,”
“It’s no misunderstanding,” Commander Park sighed yet again, “Myungjun was a child soldier for North Korea, equipped with the really advanced mechanical tail. When the United Nations finally managed to liberate him from his subjugation, he had a confirmed kill list a mile long… a list including Moonbin’s parents,”
“YOU KNEW?!” Moonbin jumped up from the table and made a mad dash for Commander Park, grabbing him by the collar, “You knew he’s a fucking murderer and you still picked him to be a ranger! I grew up in my aunt and uncle’s home, abused for the crime of existing. Every day was full of nothing but pain and anger, anger that I turned on innocent kids at school. My entire life has been a fucking shit show because of that son of a bitch and you want me to work with him?! FUCK THAT!”
Rocky managed to pull Moonbin off Commander Park, who took a moment to find the words to respond.
“Moonbin… we didn’t pick anyone for anything. Imagine what we thought when we realized that the two of you would be on the same ranger team. What you need to consider is that Myungjun didn’t have a choice in the terrible acts he committed, and just like you, he deserves a chance to prove he’s more than the terrible person circumstance turned him into,”
“If you think I’m going to forgive him, you’re sorely fucking mistaken,” Moonbin stormed out of the room, with Eunwoo following closely behind, begging for him to wait.
“I think we all need some time to process this,” Alice tried to break the tension.
“Understatement of the century,” Hyelim commented.
“You all are dismissed for now, we’ll summon you again if another mission arises,” Commander Park said. Nara and the rangers quickly vacated the room, leaving the commander and Dr. Ahn alone.
“That was… uncomfortable,” Dr. Ahn said with a nervous chuckle, “Sometimes I don’t quite know how you do it. How you handle such an eclectic team,”
“Well, it really isn’t easy. Have you ever heard of Ryu Taeoh?”
“Yeah. I picked up a book of his, ‘The Dragon’s Path’… It’s helped me a lot when dealing with a team like this. According to him, the key to leading a team is authority plus compassion. I need them to know I’m in charge, but I also need them to know that I truly do care about them,”
“Well, I think you’re doing a great job so far. Keep walking The Dragon’s Path and I think we have a real shot at defeating the Dai Empire,” Dr. Ahn replied with a smile.
“Moonbin, where are you even going?” Eunwoo struggled to keep up with Moonbin as he stomped through the halls of Astro One. He didn’t even reply until they found themselves in the mech bay.
“I overheard Yeoreum talking about this,” Moonbin pointed up at the massive multicolored starships scattered around the room. Each one had a unique shape and design, and they seemed to be based on the constellations the ranger suits were named after, “These are the Astro Voyagers. They’re personalized transport vessels for each of us,”
“Okay… but why are we here?” Eunwoo asked, kind of afraid to hear the answer.
“Because, I’m taking the Taurus Voyager and going to find Myungjun,”
“What? Are you insane?! You don’t even know where to start looking! Besides, you can’t fly a starship!”
“He can’t, but I can,”
Moonbin and Eunwoo quickly turned around to see Hyelim, leaning against the still open doorway.
“Hyelim please, you can’t possibly think this is a good idea,” Eunwoo shook his head in frustration.
“I don’t necessarily, but Moonbin needs closure if he wants to move past this,” Hyelim reasoned, “I can get that Voyager in the air and then we can track down Myungjun,”
“You know how to find him?” Moonbin rose a curious eyebrow.
“Well, let’s just say Yeoreum isn’t the only genius on our team,” Hyelim cracked a smile, tossing a small handheld device to Moonbin, “While we were in the briefing room I linked that device to Astro One’s communication systems and I was able to pinpoint the location of Myungjun’s transmissions,”
“That’s fucking awesome,” Moonbin smirked, “Let’s get going,”
“Guys please don’t go, it’s a terrible idea,” Eunwoo pleaded with them. Moonbin pulled him aside, next to what appeared to be Sanha’s golden Libra Voyager.
“Eunwoo, I know you don’t approve of this, but I need to do this for my own sanity,”
“I know Bin but… well… I guess I’m just worried about your safety. I mean, Myungjun defeated all of us without breaking a sweat and even if he doesn’t attack you, going to a planet controlled by the Dai Empire is beyond dangerous, especially with Dr. Ahn and the specialists still repairing your ranger suit,”
“You’re really worried about me?”
“Well… yeah, of course I am Moonbin,” Eunwoo sighed to himself, “We’re teammates and well, I’d consider us friends,”
“Wow… that’s actually kinda sweet,” Moonbin noticed Eunwoo’s shy smile, the same one that always spread across his flawless face when he talked about his old crush from back on Earth, “I’m sorry but… I still need to do this,”
Eunwoo looked hurt, and his expression made Moonbin’s heart drop, but his conviction remained.
“Fine… if you’re so insistent on going, then I’m going with you two,”
“I’m not letting you do this without me, especially if you can’t even morph to defend yourself,”
“Is this lover’s quarrel over yet?” Hyelim called from the now opened cockpit of the Taurus Voyager, “This thing needs Moonbin’s Dai Gem to start up, so let’s get going!”
“You heard the lady, let’s go lover,” Moonbin winked at Eunwoo, who blushed and smiled despite his usual distate for Moonbin’s flirtatious attitude. With all three of them tightly packed into the Voyager’s cockpit, Hyelim activated the remote command to open the mech bay’s hangar door, allowing the starship to blast off into space, heading for the coordinates she’d uploaded into the system…
Chapter 6: The Hunted
Moonbin, Eunwoo and Hyelim are forced to momentarily halt their journey to look for startship fuel, meanwhile Myungjun must report to Prince Aron regarding his failure on KO-35
“The Taurus Voyager is gone from the mech bay!” Yeoreum rushed onto the command bridge, “Moonbin must’ve taken it!”
“This is bad, Dr. Ahn pull up the galaxy map,” Commander Park ordered. Dr. Ahn quickly projected the holographic map, zooming in on three dots moving quickly toward another solar system, “There they are, it looks like Eunwoo and Hyelim are with him. They’re heading for Myungjun’s last known location,”
“We should stop them! If they attack Myungjun his cover might be blown!” Yeoreum said, “I can fire up the Pegasus Voyager and follow them,”
“No, if you take a voyager they’ll know you’re coming. The members of this team are my responsibility,” Commander Park sighed and stood up from his command chair, heading for the door, “I’ll take a shuttle and bring them back myself,”
“But sir, you can’t possibly be thinking of going alone!” Dr. Ahn cut in, “They’re headed into confirmed Dai Empire territory and you aren’t a ranger,”
“Remember what I told you about The Dragon’s Path Dr. Ahn? No one said it’s an easy one to walk. Get to work fixing up Moonbin’s suit, he might need it,” Commander Park persisted, “Now, I’m going to get my rangers,”
“How much farther do we have to go? I’m ready to end this,” Moonbin said as he shifted anxiously in the cramped cockpit.
“It’ll be a while longer, we’ll need to stop somewhere and get fuel,” Hyelim responded.
“Fuel? Where are we supposed to get starship fuel in space?” Eunwoo wondered aloud.
“Well apparently before the official start of the mission, the Astro Initiative did quite a bit of exploring. They found a planet that apparently serves as a meeting ground for alien bounty hunters. There’s bound to be fuel there,” Hyelim explained.
“You’re kidding right? This is already dangerous enough, you can’t possibly be thinking of asking bounty hunters for help,” Eunwoo was in complete disbelief.
“Well, it’s either that or we can drift through space and die,” Hyelim shrugged, “But I’m sure you wouldn’t like that, so it looks like the planet Onyx is our next stop,”
Eunwoo rolled his eyes as the Taurus Voyager made its descent onto the blood red planet, shaking violently as it breached the atmosphere. The massive bull-shaped starship landed gently on a hilltop, overlooking a crimson river next to what looked an awful lot like a wild west town.
“Running atmospheric diagnostics… holy shit. The environment on this planet is way past radioactive. We’re gonna need to morph if we don’t wanna die,” Hyelim said, pulling the green gem from around her neck.
“But my suit was still damaged when we left, how do we know if they fixed it yet?
“I guess we don’t. Looks like it’ll just be me and the pretty boy,” Hyelim popped her gem into her morpher.
“Chameleon Gem Inserted,”
“Lupus Gem Inserted. Ok, ready,”
With a bluish-green flash, Eunwoo and Hyelim morphed into their ranger suits, exiting the voyager and leaving Moonbin inside.
“This is still a bad idea,” Eunwoo shook his helmet covered head, “But I guess we should start at that tavern down there. That must be where the bounty hunters meet,”
“Let’s get moving then,”
Eunwoo and Hyelim made their way down the cliffside to the small tavern, that resembled a saloon. Once inside, Eunwoo’s eyes scanned over the various alien forms populating the space. All eyes were on the two of them the moment they stepped inside.
“Rangers?! Who the hell told the Power Rangers of this place?!” One of the aliens (a bulky, hairy creature that looked like a yeti, only with six glowing red eyes) shouted, pointing his clawed hand at the two of them. Hyelim took a fighting stance and Eunwoo extended his suit’s claws.
“How do they know who we are?” Eunwoo wondered as several of the aliens started bearing down on them.
“They don’t,” Hyelim whispered in response, “We’re not the first team of Power Rangers to exist, hell we’re probably not even the only active team out there right now, but that’s not important. Listen up! We’re not here to cause any trouble, but we can if you force us,”
“Power Rangersss ain’t welcome here,” another alien (looking like a two-headed snake with legs) said, drooling profusely. Thankfully the two-way universal translators in every ranger helmet helped to filter through the primitive speech of the creature.
“We’ll leave, we just need some fuel. If you give it to us, we’ll go without causing you any harm,”
“You? Harm us?” The yeti creature released a deep, bellowing laugh, “You couldn’t if you tried,”
“You fool!” one of the snake alien’s heads hissed while the other started to yell, “Did you forget what happened the last time a Power Ranger ssshowed up here? Give them the fuel they desssire ssso they will be gone!”
The Yeti grunted before rummaging through the bag he’d slung over his shoulder. He retrieved two starship fuel cells and tossed them in the Ranger’s direction. Eunwoo caught both of them rather clumsily, and sighed in relief.
“See? Wasn’t that simple? We’ll be on our way now,” Hyelim said, dragging Eunwoo with her on their way back to the Taurus Voyager.
“That was insane. God I hope we don’t have to ever do anything that tense or insane again,” Eunwoo said as Hyelim popped a new fuel cell into the Voyager’s slot.
“You’ve really gotta put on your big boy pants Eunwoo,” Hyelim commented before they climbed back into the Voyager, “This is a life or death situation, you saw that in our fight with Myungjun. You can’t be so gun-shy, sometimes you’ve gotta do whatever it takes to survive. But I had to learn that the hard way, maybe you will too,”
Eunwoo simply nodded, knowing Hyelim was right. He was in way over his head, but he signed up for this. If he wanted their mission to succeed he’d have to overcome his fear, one way or another.
KYUNIN SYSTEM, PLANET EDENOI
“You are a failure!” Prince Aron zipped across his throne room with untraceable speed, seizing Myungjun by the throat, “Your mission was to retrieve the other gems and you return empty handed? I should’ve known to expect nothing less from a human,”
With that, Aron ripped the orange Dai Gem from Myungjun’s neck and tossed him across the room, sending him slamming into the far wall with immense force, knocking the breath from his lungs.
“The last human under my employ was hardly useful until I modified him, but I figured that with this power hanging around your neck you would be different. What a fool I was,” Aron snapped.
“L-last human?” Myungjun coughed up blood as he spoke, but he was intrigued by Aron’s words. Could this human he was referring to be the person he set out to find? Would he finally be able to atone for his sins? He didn’t have very long to consider this before Prince Aron spoke again.
“Daibots! Execute this human filth and then add this gem to the superweapon’s power driver,”
The slim black robots flooded the throne room and aimed their weapons at Myungjun. In that moment memories flooded back into Myungjun’s mind…
“You promise we’ll always be together?”
“Always Myungjun, no matter what,”
Two young boys, each armed with mechanical tails and asked to do the unthinkable… only finding comfort in each other
He couldn’t die there, not until he found out what happened to his brother. Myungjun lashed out with his tail, instantly beheading every Daibot in the room before sending it hurtling towards Prince Aron, knocking the orange gem from his hand and causing it to clatter to the floor. He rolled for it, grabbing it quickly before fleeing the Throne Room as quickly as he could. He knew it would only be a few moments until he was besieged by Daibots and Royal Knights alike, but in that time he had to do whatever he could to survive…