Eclipse Star: Chapter 71
Recap: Previously on Eclipse Star, the Demon Regime sent an army of Hex-Duo robots to attack Trillium City, ultimately getting shut down by Joshua’s Teens (team-name pending). But that wasn’t all, as the Octa-Rangers were thrown into the fray as well, though they, too, were defeated. In the battle, Maximilian, Octavious’ son, was taken captive and brought to the Northern Lodge. Chris and Derek snatched his teleportation belt and made for the city one last time to put things to rest. They hit the teleport button and disappeared, but where did they end up? Those answers and more, today, on Eclipse Star!
-Chris and Derek reappear in an open chamber of what appears to be a sewage system. They take a second to recalibrate and then look around.
Derek: Damn, your head spinning, too?
Chris: (Looking noticeably sick). Way more than you know.
Derek: (Coughs and shakes his head, reorienting himself). Okay, I’m fine now. (Looks around). Sewer system?
Chris: (Propping himself against the brink wall). That’s what it looks like anyway.
Derek: Well, we did say it’d probably send us underground. Funny thing is, sewer systems like this don’t really exist.
Derek: It’s fantasy. Sewer systems are generally no larger than a few feet. One sewer worker can barely fit through pipes to perform maintenance, but open catacombs like this don’t exist in things other than movies or comic books.
Chris: I swear I saw a documentary about New York where they showed wide-open sewers.
Derek: Look, we can debate the existence of a fictional city like New York again, or we can get on with this.
-Chris and Derek begin walking down the open catacombs of the strange sewer system, quietly stepping, only the slightest sound of their feet pattering on the ground echoing around.
Chris: So how long do we want to walk until we-
Derek: (Holds his hand up). Shh. (Pause). You hear that?
-Chris listens intently with Derek, neither of them breathing.
-A few yards down around the bend the sounds of two more footsteps can be heard, along with casual conversation.
Ranger Sampi: (Rounds the corner with Ranger Qoppa, both wearing their full uniforms while carrying new helmets). So he’s like, “Look, you wanna put on spandex and fight teenagers, go for it, but you’re killing your mother,” and I’m all, “No way man, you’re not my real father.”
Ranger Qoppa: Strange. My dad was totally supportive. He even picked out my suit’s color.
-Chris and Derek duck into a side drainage pipe before the two Octa-Rangers can see them. They walk past the hidden pair, still chattering away.
Qoppa: I mean, salmon’s cool and all, but I think it sort of undermines my intelligence.
Sampi: Nah, you’re just over-thinking things.
-Chris and Derek slowly crawl out of the duct and step lightly behind the two.
-The four round another corner, leaving the scene and casting only a shadow.
-Two silhouettes slump out of frame as another two drag something out of sight.
-Quick shuffling noises can be heard as two shadows reemerge once more.
-Chris and Derek round the corner again, now wearing the outfits of the unconscious rangers.
Chris: (Slipping the gloves on his hands. He’s wearing the pink uniform). Well that was simple enough.
Derek: (Wearing the blue, sifting around his chest plate). These must be the new armor upgrades they were talking about.
Chris: Don’t really feel like much.
Derek: I don’t think they’re on right now.
Chris: And the belts are missing. (Clips Max’s belt around his waist). Anything happens, get back to me and we port out of here.
Derek: That thing goes both ways?
Chris: (Shrugs). I just naturally assumed.
Derek: Glad to know our escape plan is a hunch.
-Chris starts looking himself up and down.
Derek: What the hell are you doing?
Chris: I just noticed how slimming this material is.
Derek: Christ, you’re kidding, right?
Chris: I mean, look, my hips are totally concealed.
Derek: Pff, fag.
Chris: Just put on your damned helmet.
Derek: Least I picked the blue outfit. (Puts his helmet on as Chris does the same).
Chris: Can you hear me through this thing?
Derek: Yeah, just fine.
Chris: Good. Let’s make this quick then. We get in, we find some way to bring this structure down, then we leave.
Derek: Split up?
Chris: Nah. Let’s play this close.
-Chris and Derek walk off to search further down the sewers.
-Meanwhile, back in the Northern Lodge’s couch room, Austin and Kyle are slumped in front of a glowing fireplace.
Kyle: Okay, how about this: “Hey Chris, you know that girl Rachel you knew? What’s up with her?”
Austin: It’s direct, and I like that, but it’s also insensitive, which I’m against.
Kyle: How about, “Chris, I ever tell you about my grandfather and how he died of cancer?”
Austin: What’s the context?
Kyle: Context of what?
Austin: Of the telling.
Kyle: Breakfast, probably.
Austin: Did you grandfather really die of cancer?
Kyle: He died of something, might as well have been cancer.
Austin: Where you close?
Kyle: To my grandfather?
Kyle: Which one?
Austin: The one who died of possibly cancer.
Kyle: Oh, not really.
Austin: Hmm, no go. Chris will totally pick up on that.
Kyle: Your turn then.
Austin: (Sits up a bit). “Chris, your grandma told us a story about a girl you once knew named Rachel. How is she?” (Instantly stops). No, that’s horrible.
Kyle: I think you had something there for a while, until you added that stupid part at the end.
Austin: You think?
Joshua: (Walks in). Ooh, let me try: “Chris, are you aware that you have unresolved issues with death as brought upon by a childhood friend’s terminal illness?”
Kyle: That could work.
Austin: The whole situation sucks at any rate. I mean, who lets a little girl die of cancer anyway?
Joshua: (Sits down). We slamming God for that one?
Austin: Unless someone else could have cured the little girl.
Joshua: You going to keep repeating the fact that she was a little girl?
Austin: A little girl.
Joshua: How do you know God didn’t help her?
Kyle: I know this one, don’t tell me.
Austin: Because then we’d have another teammate named Rachel following Chris around wherever he went.
Joshua: Would anything have been accomplished the past few months if Rachel were still alive?
Kyle: I bet you if they were together, Chris wouldn’t have acted like a dimwit and bumped the Eclipse Star off that pedestal.
Austin: And that justifies letting a little girl die?
Joshua: Ah-ah, you’re just looking at it from the perspective of someone looking backward. It’s like playing armchair coach at a football game.
Kyle: You lost me.
Joshua: Anyone can tell you what play a team should have run after the play is already run. Don’t you think a smart coach would have just told his team to score a touchdown?
Austin: We’re not talking football; we’re talking about-
Austin and Joshua: A little girl.
Joshua: Yes, I know. Do you think that little girl is currently suffering from cancer?
Kyle: She died, right? I’m not missing something here?
Austin: No, technically she’s not suffering anymore, but I don’t see why she should have die in order to be cured.
Joshua: So you’d rather her body be cured and her soul turn black and die?
Austin: She should get to have her cake and eat it too.
Joshua: First, you’re getting that backwards; It’s “to eat your cake and have it too” since having a cake and eating it doesn’t mean much but eating a cake and getting to somehow keep it is a magical entitlement wish.
Kyle: That does make more sense…
Joshua: Secondly, this life isn’t the important one.
Austin: Little girl, dead.
Joshua: I’m not saying God wants to see little girls die. That’s awful. But that same little girl now gets to spend the rest of eternity sitting beside Him and enjoying His majesty? How can you not cheer for that?
Austin: So it’s a case of the ends justify the means?
Joshua: You should be aware, the guy who wrote that book did so as a satire. You know that, right?
Austin: I know that, uh, no, I didn’t pay much attention when we read that book.
Kyle: Was Italy a real place?
Joshua: That’s where Italian comes from, yes.
Kyle: Oh. (Beat). What’s Italian?
Joshua: So who talks to Chris?
-The three begin hemming and hawing again thinking of how best to broach the subject.
-Back in the subterranean lair, Chris and Derek find themselves walking into a much larger, vastly open main chamber with multiple buildings stretched out as far as they can go.
Chris: Wow, I didn’t expect to see this here.
Derek: You certain that belt was a short-range thing?
Chris: No clue.
Ranger Stigma: Hey! There you guys are! Why’d you turn off your communicators?
-Chris and Derek stop for a moment as they look back and forth between each other, silently. Finally, Chris looks over at Stigma and shrugs.
Stigma: Yeah, I’m not really surprised. C’mon, Octavious wants us for another debriefing.
Chris: Last one wasn’t brief enough?
-Chris slaps his gloves over the mouth of his helmet as Derek stares him down.
Stigma: Heh, that was almost clever for you. Then again you do wear pink. Now get your asses in there.
-Chris and Derek nod as they follow Stigma into one of the larger buildings.
-Once inside, they begin passing armed Demon Regime soldiers as they go about their business.
-Finally they enter a room where Octavious is pacing back and forth.
Octavious: ‘Bout damned time!
Stigma: Sorry sir, we’re a little on edge right now.
Octavious: Why are you two wearing your helmets?
Chris: (Quietly imitating Qoppa’s voice). Uh, his face got smashed pretty badly during the fight.
Derek: (Not disguising his voice at all). Yeah, and he’s just fuck-ugly.
Octavious: (Grinning). Ahaha. Okay, fine, keep your silly space helmets on. You can clearly still hear me talking through those, and I don’t particularly care about hearing you speak, so shut up and listen. Wait, where’s Syrus?
Stigma: He’s in his room.
Octavious: You, the fuck-ugly ranger.
-Chris cautiously points at himself.
Octavious: Yeah, you, go fetch him.
-Chris slowly salutes and turns around. He stops for a second and turns back toward Octavious.
Chris: Uh, where…?
Octavious: Oh, uh, building D, room 12.
-Chris salutes again and leaves the room.
Octavious: Whatever. Anyway, where was I?
Stigma: I assume this is about Max again?
Octavious: Shit! Yes! Who let him get kidnapped?!
Derek: I’m guessing Syrus.
Octavious: Right! Jeez, you’re really on today. The hell is your name again?
Derek: Fuck if I know.
Stigma: That’s Ranger Sampi, and he’d do well to remember to whom he speaks.
Octavious: Yeah yeah, whose idea was it to name you guys after stupid obsolete letters? (Waves his hand in frustration as Stigma begins speaking). Fine, doesn’t matter, more important things. We need my son back. Mind you, not for personal reasons, but it looks bad for a nation’s leader to lose his son in a failed attempted-conquest.
Stigma: How do you propose we get him back?
Octavious: Didn’t I teach you rangers some failsafe maneuver?
Stigma: Formation Omega-Omega 2. It’s rather deadly.
Octavious: Right, so how again do you pull it off?
Stigma: Uh, I actually don’t know. San, you remember?
Ranger San: Oh, uh, yes. Ranger Sho, could you assist me?
Ranger Sho: No way man, I ain’t messing with this failed move.
San: Okay, Sampi, could you please?
Derek: Yeah why not.
-Derek and Ranger San step forward, standing a few feet apart. Derek watches San as he starts moving in some elaborate dance formation until finally stopping.
Derek: Jeez, are you serious? That’s super gay.
Octavious: I agree. What the hell is that?
San: Formation Omega-Omega…2?
Octavious: Did Syrus teach you that one?
San: Uh, you…did?
Octavious: You, back of the room.
-San cringes and slinks to the edge of the room.
Octavious: I assume the teleportation belts worked?
Stigma: Yes, perfectly.
Octavious: Well that’s good news. At least Charles didn’t screw that part up.
Sho: Then Max must still have his belt on. We could get Charles to reverse the signal and suck him back here.
Octavious: Now that sounds like a plan that could work. None of this “Omega-Omega” crap.
San: (Raises his hand). “Omega-Omega 2.” The first one didn’t work and…uh…I’ll shut up now.
Octavious: Stigma, get Charles up on the intercom. Might as well kill some time before Syrus gets here.
-Chris, still dressed as Qoppa, walks slowly out of the main building and looks around.
Chris: Great, “building D” means nothing to me. And why the hell am I going along with this anyway? Oh well. (Taps a nearby guard). Hey, which building’s D?
Regime Solider: Building D? Third on the right.
Chris: Thanks. (Starts to walk away but suddenly stops). Hey, do I outrank you?
Regime Solider: Technically, yes, in this division I think so.
Chris: Oh. Okay, just curious. (Starts to walk away but stops again). Which division is this again?
Regime Soldier: Zanrethan Division Alpha. That’s…that’s why we’re stationed in Zanretha.
Chris: Well duh, I knew that. Carry on.
Regime Soldier: (Quietly). Jeez, that pink ranger’s an idiot.
-Chris walks off toward building D, shaking his head.
Chris: Why am I talking so much? And why haven’t Derek or I been caught yet? They’re almost making this too simple.
-Chris walks through the doors of building D and watches the room numbers as he passes them
Chris: 9…10…11… (The hallway stops). And no 12, of course. (Looks all throughout the hall). If this were anyone but Syrus I’d assume he’d have his room protected with some ridiculous passcode like “Alpha-Beta-Theta.” (Waits. Nothing happens). See, my suspicious are confirmed.
-Chris keeps walking, finding room 13 instead.
Chris: Well, this is as good as any.
-He pushes the doors open. The lights are off. A brief feel around the wall yields the light switch.
-Once illuminated, the room appears to be filled with video screens left and right with the largest monitor sitting in the center. Every screen clicks on and showcases footage of the kids fighting at various times with the center screen displaying Chris’ fight with Hex-Duo 6.
Chris: Wow. This is almost sick…
-Chris becomes entranced just watching the center replay over and over.
Syrus: Is there something you need in here?
-Chris whips around, somewhat surprised to hear Syrus’ voice without warning.
Chris: Oh, Syrus, there you are. Octavious wants you for some meeting.
Syrus: He wouldn’t if his son wasn’t a fool. (Stops). Wait. Did you call me “Syrus?”
Chris: That’s…that’s your name, right?
Syrus: Yes. But you didn’t call me “sir.”
Chris: Oh. You outrank me then?
Syrus: Yes, but I hate being called “sir.” You’re supposed to be the stupid one…
Chris: Well I can’t be that stupid.
-A moment passes as Syrus eyes Chris up and down.
Syrus: Take off your helmet.
Syrus: Because I’m your commanding officer and I order you to do so.
Chris: I’d rather not.
Syrus: Can’t you feel it?
Chris: Feel what?
Syrus: That humming?
Chris: No, I don’t.
Syrus: The last time I felt this humming was in the failed museum raid.
-Chris begins stepping toward the door.
Chris: Octavious wants us-
Syrus: How stupid do I look?
-Syrus leaps at Chris, throwing a strong punch.
-Chris ducks as Syrus takes a chunk out of the wall.
-Chris throws his hands up and hits Syrus with a quick energy blast to the chest.
-Syrus is thrown through to the next floor as Chris begins running.
-The top floor is ripped up in a wave chasing Chris with Syrus crashing down in front of him.
-Syrus reaches out and grabs Chris by the throat, pulling off his helmet.
Syrus: (Visibly happy). I knew it. (Laughing). I knew it! This is just so…exciting.
-Back in Octavious’ briefing room.
Charles: (On screen). I suppose it’d be no problem to zero in on Max’s signal and force him to teleport back. You want him in your briefing room?
Charles: Alright, give me a second to pinpoint him…there. Right now?
Octavious: Oh yes.
Charles: Then here we go.
-Charles presses a few buttons and punches in the warp code.
Syrus: Do you realize how long I’ve been waiting for this?
Chris: I don’t really care.
-Chris and Syrus suddenly appear in Octavious’ briefing room. Everyone looks around confused.
Octavious: This isn’t Max. This is just Syrus and the pink ranger.
Derek: (Notices Chris’ helmet missing). Uh-oh.
Syrus: What did you-?
-Chris grabs Syrus’ hand with one hand and pounds Syrus in the head with the other, knocking him into Octavious.
Chris: Derek, we’ve gotta bail!
Derek: I figured.
-Chris charges an energy blast in his hands and fires it into the room as he dives out with Derek doing the same.
-Syrus and Octavious get up from the smoke, shoving each other away. The room is totaled.
Octavious: What just happened?!
Syrus: Don’t pay it any mind. I’ll take care of things.
-Syrus vwings away as the other three Octa-Rangers sit coughing.
Derek: We still need to take this place out.
Chris: Yeah. (He grabs the Octa-Rangers emblem on his chest plate and twists it, powering his suit on). We’ll need the extra oomph here.
Derek: (Powers his suit on as well). I say we do what we did to the warehouse.
Chris: This place looks too stable for that. We need a different plan.
-Syrus erupts from the building, flying directly toward Chris with his arm extended.
Syrus: You can’t run from this!
-Right as Syrus is about to grab Chris, Derek grabs Syrus’ hand and swings him into the ground.
Derek: Well well well, look who showed up again.
-Derek nods at Chris and Chris keeps running.
-Syrus looks up, noticeably bothered.
Syrus: No, I want this now!
Derek: You’ve still got a rematch with me buddy boy.
-Derek clenches up with Syrus, holding his ground thanks to the suit’s added power.
-Chris keeps running, ducking into building D.
-Soldiers look at him, suddenly realizing something very wrong is happening.
-He leaps at them, taking out foes left and right in a flash. Guns begin firing after half the troops are unconscious, but it’s too late for them as Chris has become a blur, skimming across the room.
-He explodes through the walls, skidding to a halt in front of a series of mail tubes.
Chris: Now there’s an idea….
-Chris starts charging Pulse energy in his hand. He opens the mail tube and begins placing energy balls inside as they get sucked through the system.
Chris: This had better work…
-Back outside, Derek and Syrus are exchanging blows.
Syrus: Why are you wasting my time?!
Derek: Wasting? You’re not exactly winning at the moment.
-Syrus catches Derek under the chin with a palm strike, sending him toppling over.
-Syrus dives on his chest and plunges his fist into the armored chest plate, tearing out a chunk of circuitry and wires, shutting the suit down.
Derek: The hell?!
-Derek cups his hands together and jams them into Syrus’ chest, unloading everything he can charge in an instant.
-Syrus is rocketed up into the ceiling of the underground chamber.
Syrus: (Grabbing hold of some hanging ladders to regain his stability). I should have expected that. I must be getting too excited.
KROW! KROW! KROW! KROW!
-The buildings all around begins exploding, completed eradicated as energy balls suddenly serge through them.
-Syrus shields his face, looking down to spy Chris coming from building D as it, too, explodes.
-Syrus turns upside-down and kicks off from the roof at Chris.
-Chris dives at Derek, hand outstretched.
-Derek throws his hand out as Chris presses the button on his belt.
-Syrus slams down into the concrete where Chris and Derek once stood. He stands up from his crater, no dead children under his fist.
Octavious: (Coughing). Syrus! Hah! Where’d they go?!
Syrus: They’re gone.
Octavious: So go after them!
Syrus: I don’t know where they went.
Octavious: You’re kidding me!
Syrus: We need to get everyone out of here before the ceiling caves in.
-Somewhere over the city…
Derek: Holy jeez! Hahaha! I can’t believe that worked!
Chris: (Trying to catch his breath). Oh man, I didn’t think it would. (Takes off Max’s belt and crushes it in his hand).
Derek: Why’d you do that?
Chris: It sucked me back once; I don’t want it happening again.
Derek: Okay, that makes some sense.
-Chris grabs the emblem of his chest piece and tears it off, shutting the armor off.
Derek: Okay, now explain why you did that.
Chris: I don’t know what these suits do, but it didn’t feel like something that should be constantly pulsing through our body.
Derek: You kidding me? All they were pulsing was extra power. We coulda used that!
Chris: Look, you want shortcuts, fine, but no good will come from that.
Derek: This from Mr. Three Days?
Chris: Your point?
Derek: Whatever, your dad’s dead.
Chris: Ooh, and where’s your dad?
Chris: Sorry, that was uncalled for.
Derek: Just shut up. We annihilated the Regime’s base, so let’s go.
-A strange twinge hits Chris and Derek.
Chris: You feel that?
Derek: Yeah. The hell is it?
Chris: I don’t know.
-They look off toward the South as the city beneath them rumbles very faintly.
-While they can’t hear it, they see a red light rip the morning sky wide open off in the horizon.
Chris: What is that?
Derek: It looks just like that light I saw in the desert, except this one’s red, not blue.
Chris: You saw a light in the desert?
-The light fades.
Derek: C’mon, this isn’t our concern.
Chris: You kidding me?
Derek: Do you really want to go deal with that right now?
-The two point themselves North and begin flying back to the lodge.
-Meanwhile, emerging from the Regime’s bunker base…
Octavious: That’s it, we’re ruined.
Stigma: Sir, we can rebuild, we can-
Octavious: No, we’re done here. Zanretha isn’t right for the taking anymore. We’ll deal with things elsewhere. (Notices Syrus staring off to the south). And just what the hell are you doing?
Syrus: There was a red light just now.
Octavious: Oh wow, a red light. Do I look like I give a damn?
Syrus: Something isn’t right.
Octavious: You know what? I know exactly what isn’t right. In fact, I’m looking right at it.
Syrus: (Looks over, somewhat confused). I don’t-
Octavious: You know how many times you’ve failed me now?.
Syrus: I’ve failed you? (Laughs to himself). You must be joking.
Octavious: No, as far as I’m concerned, the only reason none of our recent plans have succeeded is because you’ve managed to strew them up.
Syrus: (Irritated). Choose your words carefully…
Octavious: Who just let a couple of fucking children blow up our last refuge? Who stood idly by as my men and my robots attacked the city? Who fought his own men, watched as a multi-billion piece of machinery was destroyed, and lost a tournament to a 16-year-old boy?
Syrus: You don’t know what you’re talking about.
Octavious: Then why am I not holding the Eclipse Star in my hand right now? Tell me, whom did I put in charge of a simple museum heist?
Syrus: (Gritting his teeth). All of those plans were ill advised to begin with.
Octavious: Face it; you’re no good to me anymore.
Syrus: You know whom I serve.
Octavious: Yeah, and so do I, but you go through me to get to her, and my orders haven’t been to fuck up every step of the way!
Syrus: I wouldn’t-
Octavious: Wouldn’t what? Challenge you? The fuck are you? A solider, in my army! You don’t think I can’t kill you if I decide?!
Syrus: (His body is beginning to shake with rage). I’d relish the attempt.
Octavious: Then come at me, or are you still too brainwashed by some fucking dead carpenter?
-Syrus leaps at Octavious in a blind madness.
-Octavious puts an arm out and detonates a ridiculous amount of energy all at once.
-Syrus takes all of this without being able to cover himself. He’s thrown miles and miles through debris, disappearing from sight.
-Octavious lets out a sigh and holds his hand out to Stigma.
Octavious: Fucking peasant. Made me dirty my hands. (Stigma pulls out a cloth and begins cleaning Octavious’ hand). Good boy. Now round up every last solider you can and tell them to pull out of Zanretha. We have some rebuilding to handle.
Stigma: Yes sir.
-Chris and Derek look back after feeling Octavious’ blast.
Chris: That one was a lot closer.
Derek: And a lot more powerful. (They look at each other silently for a moment). Let’s get the hell out of here.
To Be Continued…