The Invisible Prison

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers or Doctor Who. They belong to their respective copyright owners.

The Invisible Prison

Is a man held within a cell he cannot see or hear, or sense in anyway still not a prisoner even though he believes himself free?

In a far off part of space surrounded by a minefield of asteroids and black holes there rested a space station in the form of a giant gothic castle. Around the castle were hundreds of the deadliest fighting craft ever devised, their weapons pointed directly at the structure they were supposed to guard. Outside the walls of the vast structure were pockets of sentries and guards all under strict instruction to fire upon anything that attempted to approach the castle and to fire upon anything attempting to leave that had not been authorised.

The walls of the floating castle were immense. Miles high and equally thick, they were composed of the densest material available a sealed within the heated gravity of a dwarf star. There were no cracks or windows, no doors that would allow an intruder to breach the defences or a prisoner to escape. Sensors, camera and nasty surprises for those trying to approach were the order of the day, the powerful tractor beams obscured within the metal panels made sure that unauthorised persons would not be able to avoid triggering those defences.

Inside the walls was a ring of barracks manned by fully armed and well supplied soldiers. They were under instructions that no unauthorised beings were to cross their territory and that should any attempt to do so they were to shoot first and only question how the intruder had gotten so far after. Their territory was the space between the outer wall and the slightly less fortified inner wall.

And within that inners wall, through a labyrinth of corridors and security checks, there lay a cell block with only a single cell. It was a very large cell, easily taking up the space of a football pitch. It was filled with machinery and technicians working tirelessly to keep their prisoner sedated. The machinery monitored all of the body’s needs and analysed all bodily functions to detect even the slightest hint that the occupant was about to awaken. The minimal thought processes were checked and when necessary adjustments were made to keep the dream proceeding as they needed. It was in the minds of its designers, the perfect prison.

And at that precise moment, the alarm had sounded bring all on board to a state of readiness, aware that should the cell’s occupant overcome the first obstacle between himself and freedom, there was a good chance that those behind his imprisonment would decide to destroy the entire prison along with the guards. Somehow despite the sedatives in his system and the neural blocks in place to prevent any rational thought, their prisoner had awoken.


He became aware of his surroundings. He was in pain, absolute agony from the needles that had been implanted into his body. A mask had been attached to his face, allowing him to breathe and there was something poking into the back of his head. He reached up, aware of the viscous fluid that made moving difficult and grabbed the object. It was a tube, a thick cable that had been slotted into the upper part of his spine.

And then there was a click, followed by a whirling noise as the tubes retracted itself, causing the needles and other cables to pull themselves free. The mask on his face was torn away, leaving him to drown before the surface beneath him vanished and the fluid drained away.

And the darkness was transformed into glaring light.


“Welcome back, Doctor. You had me worried for a time there.”

He raised his head and regretted doing so. His head was thumping, a side effect from the trauma it had suffered. A quick assessment revealed that the needles he had felt on his first awakening were gone, as was the thing that had been attached to the back of his neck.

“You were very lucky,” the voice continued. “You suffered a minor stroke as a result of bleeding inside your brain. As suicides go, that poison was not a painless method.”

“Where am I?” he asked. His mind was still affected by the recent trauma.

“An insignificant little research facility on a world that cannot possibly exist; trapped behind the event horizon of a black hole just as the star it recently swallowed turned into a super nova. I am told this world was once called Minitee; that’s a silent m, but be sure to pronounce it fully.”

“That’s impossible!” the Doctor snapped, realising as he did so that the contradiction had been exactly what was needed to give his higher reasoning a kick. With his awareness returning, he took the time to study his surroundings and was not surprised to find that he had been lied to. He could feel the gravity fluctuations of multiple black holes, but this was not a planet. He had been on too many worlds not to know artificial gravity when he encountered it.

With that confirmed he chose to study his captors. Most wore black and white tunics with a gold seal embroidered on the left shoulder. That identified them as low tier technicians. Most would overlook them, but he had come to realise that the lowliest of workers often held the greatest knowledge of their jobs. He recognised some of the insignias they wore, complex data disguised as a seemingly innocent image. It depicted the worlds they had been recruited from and spoke volumes about his people’s empire building; while Gallifrey no longer sought to colonise other worlds and had a strict policy of not trying to interfere with the development of younger worlds, once a race reached a level where they were of use, it was not unknown to approach them through a number of carefully selected ambassadors and secure their services… for a generous payment of course.

It also didn’t surprise him to learn that his own people were involved in his incarceration. There were very few who were capable of trapping and holding him for very long. He had been trained to escape from situations and had taken it upon himself to further his education beyond the more conventional means. Of course his escapes usually involved finding lapses in security that he could exploit. That was very difficult when his mind was suppressed by machinery. And keeping his mind active but focussed elsewhere was a good way to limit his chances of escape. But now that he knew something was wrong, his subconscious would be aware and the technique they had been using would be less effective.

So now he knew he was in familiar, but far from friendly hands and that in turn allowed him to start planning for his escape. First though he needed to understand why he was being held prisoner. Fortunately there was almost always somebody willing to share that piece of information. He turned his attention to the person that had addressed him earlier; there was a meeting of minds as they telepathically introduced themselves – for Time Lords preferred to identify each other using telepathy given how easily the other senses could be fooled. As usual upon making contact with a familiar mind, his memory recovered the memories of their previous meetings and replayed them at an accelerated rate, merging the person he had known with the stranger before him. As it did so his brain identified the emotions that person projected: hatred and overwhelming darkness. The pieces clicked into place. And he didn’t like it one bit.

This was not a person in the conventional sense. It was a demonstration of just how skilled and talented his people were with their manipulation of temporal mechanics and a testament to their history of genetic and biological manipulation. It was a being that had existed for a fraction of a second in all likelihood, a moment when the Doctor had been at his lowest point, a moment when the darkness he had buried deep inside had been allowed to rise up. In his younger days the Doctor had not always been a good man. He had aspired to be a person that would make things better, but inside he knew that there had been rage and anger, and darkness. Instead of dealing with those emotions he had buried them inside himself and concentrated on righting the wrongs of the Universe. Doing so had allowed the darkness to grow as he subconsciously pushed everything dark to one side. Just a tiny fraction of time that he had quickly suppressed. But to the Time Lords it was enough to bring forth an abomination.

The enemies he had created among his own people had found a way to extract that darkness without him realising it and had given it a temporal body normally reserved to allow a future incarnation to manifest before its time to assist its former self. They had used an Extraction Chamber to view the Doctor’s timeline and identify the moment when the darkness within him was at its greatest. And then they had used the same technology to pluck the Doctor from history, locked inside that tiny instance of time. And using Time Lord technology they had managed to stabilise that dark version of the Doctor, granting it a pseudo-life. They had promised that if it managed to defeat the Doctor it could claim the Time Lord’s body.

It was called the Valeyard and it was an enemy he had hoped never to see again. He remembered the previous times they had met, but then the Doctor had not known that in reality it was just a temporal possibility of a being that would arise from his own dark side. Fortunately he had defeated it with a little help from some unlikely allies, but it had escaped in the chaos that had ensued. And now it seemed it had found its way into the good graces of its former masters and gained itself a position of authority.

But why did it exist? The Doctor had spent centuries following his encounter with the Valeyard meditating. He had confronted the darkness within and purged the things that he believed would lead to the Valeyard’s creation while assimilating the rest back into his personality. It had made him act in ways he was not especially proud of, but he had controlled himself eventually. It seemed that his attempts had failed.

“Oh Doctor, you can’t erase me," Valeyard told him. "You created me, you sustain me… you are me just as much as I am you. No matter how hard you try there will always be a speck of darkness inside you and that is all I need to exist. I am a fixed point in your timeline. At some point before your final day, the light and the darkness within you will fight for supremacy and whichever part wins will take what remains of your life while the rest will become… something less. And the Time Lords will find what remained of that dark incarnation and will use it in their plans leading to our first recorded encounter. You cannot prevent it and if you did you would condemn billions of innocents. Accept it: I will emerge.”

“You’ve changed though,” the Doctor noted.

He hadn’t failed to notice that the Valeyard claimed to emerge during his final life, not as he had been told previously at a point between the Doctor’s Twelfth and final regeneration.

The Valeyard chuckled. “It would appear that there have been some changes to your life expectancy and that in turn has an effect on myself. When we first met I was the amalgamation of the anger and rage you kept suppressed throughout your very long life. All that murderous intent just waiting to boil over. So many feelings and thoughts and desires, too much darkness for you to hope to suppress it completely; at the time of your trial that darkness had already started to break through your mental barriers. But then you became aware of me and changed your behaviour. You embraced your darker side and controlled it which meant that I no longer represent all the darkness within. You made me… different.”

“So you’re claiming not to be my dark side anymore?”

The Valeyard laughed, shaking his head in wonderment of how naive he had been when he was younger. It was a cruel and mocking laugh.

“I am and always will always be what you consider to be your dark side, Doctor. No matter how you try to change it you will fail; any time you feel a slight pleasure in watching the downfall of an enemy, any cruel remark or desire to throttle an unhelpful official, your darker nature will emerge. You’ve let go of the murderous intent and the desire to lash out… all the things that helped mould my being. But you cannot eliminate all of it. Right now I am a representation of your dark side. As your personality grows darker or perhaps lighter, I will change to represent the darkness within. It’s very subjective but I am only a reflection of your nature and compared to your — our — earlier self, there is less darkness there to reflect.”

It made sense in a twisted sort of way. The Valeyard was a snapshot of the darkness at any given time and depending on when he encountered it would affect how it appeared to him. Had it appeared during his first incarnation it would have been completely ruthless, seeking out its idea of paradise and then destroying it just to prevent it from changing. It would have been the reflection of an old man that was prepared to kill a savage in order to get his own way. If he had met him during his seventh incarnation, it would have been manipulative, unrepentant and ruthless; a cold methodical madman fully at ease that his actions were for a greater good.

“So what are you now?” he asked. “Remove all the murder and the anger, and the bitterness. What is there left to give you form?”

“I’m the one thing you can’t stop yourself from hating,” Valeyard replied. “I am the personification of your self-loathing. I’m the part of you that bullied, manipulated and eventually engineered the death of your previous self just to fit your needs. I represent everything you hate about yourself and you are everything I hate. In the end locking you up here, and watching you exist in a state of non-being was intensely gratifying.”

Around them the technicians making adjustments to the machinery. Clearly this discussion was intended to distract from the need to escape. So far, it was working.

"Do you remember back when you were in the Acaedemy?" he asked. "You wrote that fascinating little paper on the nature of evil in the universe and how it should be the dominant force above all other. I recall you were rather scathing towards the High Council while presenting it, so much so they tried to block your graduation."

Oh there had been meetings and debates over his becoming a Time Lord, but the law had been on his side and they had been unable to prevent it despite his obvious nature as a troublemaker. He remembered the harsh arguments between himself and the pillars of Time Lord society as he had submitted plan after plan for their approval only to be blocked every time. It was what had led after a few centuries to him stealing a TARDIS and leaving his home behind as he embarked upon a renegade existence.

"I can see you do remember after all this time. Old age hasn’t dulled your memory then. But oh my, all that detailed data you collected with pictures and a graph too if I recall… all to show that despite the logical argument that evil should be the default behaviour of most species, good somehow seemed to hold the balance. And then your little quest to try and identify why that was the case and perhaps use whatever kept evil at bay to spread good throughout the universe and make it a nicer place." There was no doubt in the Doctor’s mind that he was being mocked. "Shall I tell you something I’ve learnt since your incarceration, Doctor? The level of cruelty and evil in the universe has increased almost year on year since you’ve been here. And that led me to the conclusion that evil truly does thrive where good men do nothing. I’ve taken great pleasure in making certain that you’ve had little chance to do anything besides gaining a few pressure sores.”

As he spoke the memories returned. The Doctor remembered the trap – so obvious now that he thought about it-, being captured and then spending months trapped within some sort of modified suspension capsule, alone. His mind had been manipulated so that in his dreams he had been sent to an alternate Earth alongside Samantha. The adventures he had had there seemed so real even though he knew they were the result of chemical and electrical manipulation of his brainwaves. He had been used as a bridge between the two realities causing the events that would lead to the creation of the alternate reality he visited.

“So why did you stop? You could have continued playing with my mind indefinitely. What’s changed?”

"Your awareness. You’re now aware of what is happening and I know the things you’ve done to protect yourself and the traps you’ve built to make sure you cannot be toyed with. You’ve been inside the world of the Matrix and the equipment available here is sadly lacking in comparison. Your mind started to doubt the illusion we created and when it did so, it triggered one of those defence mechanisms you picked up. Your mind started to close down, disrupting the process and causing a feedback loop. If we hadn’t removed you there was a chance you would have destroyed the entire facility. And once that happened keeping you secured inside that prison would have been impossible.”

"But why are you doing this in the first place? I don’t understand."

“There was a war spoken about in the old times. Do you remember the semester your class spent studying the old legends? The ancients knew what was coming, they just didn’t know when. Over time their predictions turned into legends, then they became myths and were finally just ignored. They didn’t realise that the war they had predicted had already started. They just couldn’t see the events unfolding around them, The Time Lords have fallen behind Doctor, far behind an enemy that is already positioned through time and space, but the first shots have yet to be fired.

"Both sides are building their military and trying to undermine the other side. There have been a few minor skirmishes on the very edges of existence, but the ferocity of the fighting has yet to reach the point of outright war. Our people have drawn up complex battle plans with the help of detailed knowledge from the future but as it stands, the plans they have been given are for a war that has been fought and lost. The War Chiefs struggle to change those plans without stopping to ask themselves what they did that caused them to lose the first time. They’re playing games with time against an enemy that is just as adept at playing that game and had a head start – not to mention a backdoor to their greatest secrets. Soon they will become desperate and when they do they will become just as dangerous as the enemy. And you Doctor will be spending most of your time making sure that they keep their war to themselves. And THAT is why you had to be kept locked away: your desire to protect the lesser beings makes it more difficult to predict events.”

“And where do you fit into all this?"

“The Laws of Time have already been suspended. The rules that define the Universe have been placed into flux to give the Time Lords an advantage. Doing so has caused some of the oldest laws laid down at the very Dawn of Time to be unwritten. Reality has changed and those changes have made it impossible for our people to control all the possible outcome of those changes. And so they recruited me as you must admit, I do have a unique view on existence among our people.” He paused, clearly weighing the danger of revealing any more. “And not just me. They needed the greatest minds our race has produced, which just happens to include most of the renegades, criminals and undesirables you could name. And they needed you out of the way so that they would have more time to prepare for the war without your… conscience interfering with things. They tasked me with making certain you remained ignorant of the situation and gave me everything I asked for in return without considering why I wanted it. My knowledge of how your mind works was invaluable to them, mainly because I knew that sooner or later you would realise the truth.”

The use of the Time Lord prison known as Shada had been the perfect place to keep the Doctor, but the Time Lords knew from past experience that the strongest of prisons was not enough to stop the Doctor from interfering. And that was why they had located the Valeyard in the non-space where he had been deposited, promising him a limited existence in return for his services. And he in turn had manipulated the Doctor’s memories — his memories, suppressing key events and the trap he had walked into. From there it had been easy to manipulate it so that events played out as needed and the Doctor was free to do as he wished without affecting the Time Lords’ plans.

But the Valeyard was aware of how dangerous the Time Lords had become and with his existence threatened he had decided that the time had come to unleash the one force capable of making them see sense: the Doctor. First though he needed to impress upon the Doctor how dire the situation had become.

“The problem Doctor is that this was not supposed to happen. You were supposed to visit Angel Grove, set down long enough to understand how bad things have become and then leave. I never expected you to bring the human with you. I’m not sure how you accomplished that anyway since she no longer exists in this reality. But then I suppose that would be a side effect of the compression.”

“Compression?” the Doctor queried, his mind racing to slot all the pieces into place. “Time is being squeezed and accelerated? Why?”

The Valeyard chose to look out over the suddenly spectacular view of Angel Grove. He had not noticed it at first, but then slowly events had seemed to accelerate, skipping ahead without warning. It was most obvious when watching the Doctor’s allies the Power Rangers and their enemies. Whole battles seemed to begin and then fast forward to the end. Evil Rangers had arisen and were next seen free of whatever means had been used to control them. He couldn’t even recall their names although he knew they had existed. The sudden return of Lord Zedd, the struggle between the Rangers and their enemies on multiple fronts… Zordon’s capture which had been set in stone… key events of history were being preserved but the story surrounding them had been washed away.

And he knew that the Time Lords were responsible, just as they were the ones that had kidnapped the majority of Earth’s heroes, erasing their existence from the rest of the world as they tried to build an army of super warriors. Of course their plan would not succeed any more than their attempts to use alien monsters as cannon fodder and in the end they had had to return the majority of those they had abducted. Their enemy was time active and no matter how powerful an army was, if the enemy could shift across time as well as space and they couldn’t, they were useless.

“The Time Lord’s have been using this world for their experiments,” he said. “They’ve been taking advantage of the Earth’s rather unique nature to help them create their super weapons.”

That was true. While the population was not considered very advanced by Gallifrey standards, the Earth was a very powerful planet. Over time it had been theorised the planet was a nexus point of probability where alternate realities intercepted. That was why Time Lords needed to be wary when travelling near the planet not to get drawn into a different time stream. It was why despite being easy to manipulate, history was extremely resilient where the little planet was concerned.

“Why Earth?”

Valeyard gave him a cruel smile.

“Because of you, Doctor. They have seen the forces that the people of this world have repelled with your help and they believe that they can harness such a force. They wanted the Earth’s heroes, so they took them, leaving only those that have likely come into contact with you. Is it any wonder they started messing with forces they didn’t completely grasp, ripping tears into the fabric of reality and forcing time to compress just so they could buy a little more time?”

The Doctor shook his head. The Time Lords were so desperate that they were willing to commit unspeakable acts in the hope that they would somehow stumble upon the key to a Time Lord victory. And then he realised that it was not those creations that the Time Lords sought, it was whatever arose to counter them. They were forcing the humans, the universe even to give them a blueprint for a new army.

“It’s strange really that the reason the Time Lords’ desire to win has required them to sacrifice everything they hold dear,” Valeyard continued. “They have even found a way to rationalise the existence of magic. They can access forces they previously dared not dream about and turn them into a scientifically explainable weapon.”

Time Lords had a natural fear and hatred of magic hard wired into their genetic codes. Only certain renegades seemed to be able to bypass the restrictions normally. If not for that oddity, there was no way the Master could have ever rationalised his contact with demons as aliens beyond the dimensional void. Oh there were limits, the Doctor doubted any of his former associates would be able study or manipulate the Morphin Grid. That would move beyond mere rationalisation and into the realms of insanity. But that raised the question of how the Morphin Grid could be there in the first place when magic was erased from existence by the Time Lords?

“They’ve had help of course,” Valeyard explained. “The compression of time is a side effect of the Time Lords twisting the personal timelines of their comrades, making it possible for them to exist in the present, and the near present where they have proven able assistants. And while the protectors of this world have been distracted by their recent adventures, the Time Lords have continued their work in the background, working on projects to aid the Time Lord war effort.”

And then it occurred to the Doctor that the Time Lords had gone too far. They had extended their influence not only into the affairs of Earth and the nature of magic, but were trying to manipulate the ongoing war between Good and Evil, concepts they could barely understand. And all so that when they war came they would have a slim hope of changing the outcome in their favour. Somehow the Doctor doubted that would occur.

“So why am I here?” he quickly added: “Awake I mean.”

“To stop them of course,” the Valeyard told him. “Think of it as a choice Doctor: your precious planet Earth or the chance of a Time Lord victory. Which would you chose? Which do you value most, your own planet or your adopted home? How far are you prepared to allow this war to spread before you take action. How far are you willing to let either side go before you meddle in their plans even if it costs them the war?”

And whichever choice he made the Doctor knew that it would only bring about pain and suffering. And to see he suffer and question his decision, to watch as he agonised over an impossible choice. That was what the Valeyard desired. And the Doctor had no choice. He knew that he would never bring himself to fight a war for either side, but he was prepared to fight both sides on behalf of those that could not.

“And now you have been made aware the question is whether you are prepared to put your rules aside for them?” the Valeyard told him.

What followed was a list of the atrocities the Time Lords had already committed to prepare for war. They had already broken the rules of time, breaking through the temporal buffers surrounding their planet’s past to retrieve genetic samples of long dead peers. The genetic looms used for breeding new Time Lords had been altered to recreate bodies using that DNA as a template. The repository of Time Lord Knowledge, known as the Matrix, had been pillaged to fill those bodies with the memories and intellects of the beings they resembled. All so that the Time Lord’s ranks were swelled with some of the most intelligent and sadistic leaders an army could need – all of them soulless travesties.

Then to make matters worse, they had released their prisoners, offering suspended sentences in return for military service. For the cause of victory those crimes they had committed in the past were considered tactics. Amoral scientists, deviants, corruptors of innocents… all were welcomed so long as their methods helped to build the military might that was needed. And those that had been involved with the Doctor directly, his enemies? They too had been offered the forgiveness of their people if they could prove themselves useful. Some had received bribes far beyond money and power.

“No, I can see that you’re not ready to do that… yet. Did you know it took seven attempts before you finally broke free?” the Valeyard asked. “The first time you became so immersed in the mental simulator we had to remove you before you transferred your mental capacity to the device. After that with each attempt your mind became more and more able to pick the world apart and notice the inconsistencies.”

“And now?” the Doctor asked. He noticed the Valeyard gesture to one of the technicians and felt the prick of a needle.

"Now that your body has healed you will return to sleep until we have need of you. By that time I’m certain you will be willing to do whatever needs to be done."

The chamber started to close as the Doctor struggled to overcome the sedative. His hand touched something in his pocket and he smiled as he realised that his situation was not hopeless after all. Where there was a screwdriver, there was a way.

End of Part.


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Ch’rell Shock: The Shredder Returns

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, Mutant Turtles or Doctor Who. They belong to the respective copyright owners. This is a fan work and no profit is being made from it.

Ch’rell Shock, The Shredder Returns


Springwood

The past

“Ninja Technique: Ice Carpet!”

Less than two months had passed since Serpenterra had wiped the small town off the face of the Earth. The ground was molten, still cooling from the awesome power the machine had unleashed. To step upon the burning soil would have meant death. Some had already tried to access the lost town only to discover that despite the thin crust that had settled, it could not hope to support the weight of a tiny rodent, let alone a human. That was why as Saki walked over the melting ice he had conjured, Saki was relieved that he had been taught some of the ancient secrets of the Ninja.

The power he had summoned came from the Morphin Grid, channelled through his body and directed with a combination of hand movements, words and mental imagery to generate a moving block of ice on which he could stand as he was transported to the place where the statue of the town’s founder had once stood. The ground steamed as the heat turned the ice to water and the water fell onto the hot ground. Only his focussed mind and determination kept the ice intact as he reached his destination.

“Very good Saki,” his master said when the reached the place he desired. “This will do.”

“Yes master,” Saki acknowledged, dropping to one knee while fighting to keep the ice intact.

His master was unable to assist him in his current form. Once a proud warrior, the alien known as the Shredder had been punished by his own people for heinous crimes. His body had been ripped apart leaving only the brain-like creature within – for Shredder’s race were capable of building bodies for themselves in order to survive their environments. Shredder’s replacement form had been damaged thousands of years later during a battle with the Power Rangers of Earth. Now he sought a new means to renew himself.

“There is great power in this place, Saki,” Shredder mused. “The damage has created a wound in the Earth I can use.”

After their recent defeat at the hands of the Power Rangers, Shredder had been determined to regain his former strength. And the first step to doing so required him to absorb a large amount of heat and radiation. The decimated town was a perfect choice.

“Leave now Saki,” Shredder instructed. “Return when I summon you.”

As he spoke, the Shredder managed to levitate himself from the icy platform, allowing Saki to withdraw to safety. In the past the Shredder had relied upon his own strength, alien technology, alien ninja training and Earthly minions. Now he planned to pool all of those resources together to create a new power that would gain vengeance on his enemies. Superior technology, alien power and ninja magic combined with the evil genius that the Shredder represented. Combined together those forces would make him unbeatable.

Saki was out of sight as Shredder lowered himself onto the ground. The earth beneath him cracked as the surface bubbled violently. Slowly his body was pulled into the inferno as the next phase of his plan commenced.


New York City

September 1998

Saki regarded the smashed remains of his master’s armour. He had been surprised that anything had survived; the Shredder had been fortunate to possess the technology needed to teleport a short distance, but doing so had meant sacrificing the armour and had permanent disabled most of the alien’s technology.

Still Saki had felt compelled to seek out the remnants of his master’s former body regardless of its state. He had always been intrigued by the odd sensations he had felt when touching the metal. It seemed familiar.

“And so it should,” a voice said.

Saki turned with the speed gained through years of practice, his eyes searching for signs of the intruder who had managed to enter without his knowledge. His eyes narrowed as he palmed a weapon ready to teach the intruder a harsh lesson.

The cloaked figure dodged the knife thrown in his direction, flicking the blade that followed it aside with practiced ease. This was not a simple fool, but a skilled practitioner of the fighting arts; he could have easily given the other warrior a challenge. He had no interest of continuing the battle though, simply because he was not certain he could restrain himself from killing Saki if they fought for too long.

“Who are you?” Saki demanded.

“Somebody who knows a lot more about the history of that armour than you Oroku Saki,” the ninja answered. “Or did you believe the lies your master told you?”

“Master Shredder would not lie to me!” Saki snarled.

“Of course he would,” the stranger countered, “if it would gain your services. The Shredder is linked to your family and your master needs that link.”

He could sense that Saki did not believe him and decided a different approach was needed.

“He told you that he was called the Shredder and that he built this armour using his technology. The truth is that this armour was built for a┬ásamurai lord in Japan named Oroku Nagi. It is the armour that carries the name ‘Shredder’.”

“Oroku Nagi?”

“Your ancestor. Many generations ago he led a large army across Japan, conquering as they went. He was eventually defeated and his army was disbanded although a few remained and helped him found the Foot Clan to seek revenge. When they were defeated a second time, Oroku Nagi was executed.”

He paused, allowing Saki to absorb the truth about his family’s history, knowing it would help to break down the man’s loyalty.

“Oroku Nagi had never accepted his own mortality. In his life time he selected some of his closest advisers and set them the task of finding him a way to live on after death. The Shredder is the evidence of how close they came.”

He held out his hand toward the armour, causing it to glow slightly.

“The Foot Mystics used the knowledge they acquired to bind Oroku Nagi’s essence to his armour, creating the creature known as The Shredder. He built a new army.”

“The Shredder is the evil spirit that resides in the armour of my ancestor?” Saki asked. He wasn’t certain if he should consider the stranger a fool or a very inventive liar.

“With the rebuilt Foot Clan at his side, The Shredder rampaged once more. And this time it took far more than soldiers to stop him. In the final battle, it took magic and sacrifice to subdue the evil spirit within the armour, preventing it from controlling its metal body. From that moment on it became just a suit of armour.”

A suit of armour with a very powerful and vengeful spirit attached to it. One that needed a living soul to give it the motivation and purpose. Saki was the obvious choice due to his bloodline to help unleash The Shredder’s wrath.

“Sometime later an alien named Ch’rell was deposited on Earth. Ch’rell’s race were little more than large brains with eyes and teeth. On their own world they used telepathy to control their environment. But as a criminal, Ch’rell was banished from Ultrom. On Earth he retained some of his abilities, but needed protection from the unfriendly environment. He found your ancestor’s armour hidden away in storage and used his powers to control it. Later he placed himself inside the armour and added technology favoured by the Jakanja, an alien ninja clan. He claimed control of The Foot and used them to prepare the way for a Jakanja invasion.”

“Then why are these alien ninjas not here?” Saki asked.

There was some genuine interest. His master had mentioned his alien allies and had taught Saki some of their techniques.

“Ch’rell’s people chose to check up on him and realised the threat he could pose to them. They conspired with some of The Shredder’s enemies, leading them to believe that Ch’rell was The Shredder. Together they defeated him and he remained imprisoned for generations. When he was released he once again took control of the Foot Clan and moved to America. It was pure luck that he happened to meet you here.”

The Shredder had grown stronger when the descendent of Oroku Nagi was close by. Ch’rell had used that connection alongside his technology in his portrayal of the ninja warrior known as Shredder.

“And so the question must be asked: do you continue to follow an impostor, or do you claim your rightful place as leader of The Foot?”

That decision would determine what happened next.


Japan

Ch’rell had failed to notice them when he had stolen their master’s armour. They were the Foot Mystics, the priests that Oroku Nagi had commanded to secure his immortality. They had been the ones that had called upon the dark powers and transformed their fallen master into an evil spirit. They had cast the enchantments that had allowed the newly formed spirit to possess the armour of their fallen leader. They had then used their knowledge to guarantee that when their master called, his army would be there to obey.

They had failed and The Shredder had been defeated. They enchantments they had used to allow the spirit to use the armour as a body had been broken, trapping The Shredder within the armour. They had been locked away with the rest of his followers and had been unable to stop the Ultrom named Ch’rell when he had taken the armour. Ch’rell’s time as the Shredder came to an end and it seemed the spirit they had worked to preserve had been lost.

But then the Shredder had reappeared in America, working alongside Oroku Saki, a descendent of Oroku Nagi. Being close to Saki had awakened the slumbering spirit of The Shredder, even as the Ultrom continued his charade. When the armour had been seemingly destroyed in a confrontation with the Power Rangers, Saki had retrieved parts of the armour where the spirit remained.

Now with The Shredder on the verge of returning, the spells that kept his armies secured were failing. The Foot Mystics and the army they had amassed were on the move. Except this time instead of conquering everything in their path, they moved silently through the shadows to cross the sea and reunite with The Shredder.


New York City

Saki drew the sharpened blade across his palm. Crafted from a piece of his ancestor’s armour, it sliced through the skin, drawing blood. Under the stranger’s guidance, the descendent of Oroku Nagi drew a series of runes on the metal armour, drawing mystic energy through his blood and channelling it into the armour, replenishing the evil spirit on his ancestor. Deep within the armour the spirit of The Shredder stirred.

“I Oroku Saki, descendant of Oroku Nagi, claim my heritage. Grant me your power my great ancestor and use my body to claim vengeance.”

The stranger had warned him that it would be impossible to control the armour and claim its power. The spirit known as The Shredder could not be subjugated and if ejected from the armour it possessed, would seek a new form. Instead Saki offered the spirit a partnership between family. He would provide the spirit with a body and the spirit would enhance Saki’s abilities with its own. Together they would recreate the Shredder and revive his army.

He felt the acceptance as the spirit of The Shredder shifted from the armour and bonded with his body. He cried out as the spirit tore through his soul, entwining itself into his essence, uniting them into a single being. The ancient armour his ancestor had built had been reshaped into crude weapons – there had not been enough to act as armour. Forty eight shurikens, a large sword, a pair of sais, and several other weapons had been crudely crafted and placed close to where Saki sat. A set of shoulder spikes, pads and arm gauntlets along with a metal helmet were the best he could manage.

The pain ended as the bonding completed. The armoured pieces Saki had crafted had been infused with The Shredder’s power, transforming them from crude metal plates into formidable armour. The weapons had been honed to a sharp edge and were ready to be used by the new Shredder. The shurikens had been enchanted to further the warlord’s goals. The sword was now a perfect replica of Oroku Nagi’s blade and guaranteed to cut its way through his foes. Each weapon contained a small green gem stone, a fragment from the Soul Stone that had been cut away during the creation of the Soul Gem. While they lacked the powers of the finished article, they shared its ability to channel spiritual energy, a property Oroku Saki would find useful.

“And now, my descendent: we shall be avenged!” the stranger told him.

For the first time Saki had a clear look at the intruders face. It was twisted and malformed, but the resemblance was clear. He had been speaking with The Shredder the whole time.


Springwood

September 1998

The process was complete, the dark energy within the tainted ground had provided him with the fuel his life support technology needed to repair the damage he had suffered. It had taken a long time, but then repairing the damage caused to a brain was not the sort of thing that could be rushed. Fortunately the process had been relatively painless. It had however been exceptionally boring and Ch’rell was eager to take his revenge on those that caused him so much inconvenience.

As he rose through the cooled soil he sent a message for Oroku Saki to meet him. They had work to do and building a replacement body would be the first step. He suspected enough time had passed for his servant to have gathered all the needed materials and secured the facilities needed for manufacture. It was therefore slightly annoying when he reached a suitable hovering height and discovered that Oroku Saki was nowhere in sight.

A little put out that his servant was late, he sent another message ordering him to hurry up. He then waited for the half hour he estimated it would take for Saki to arrive using the ninja techniques he was so proud of. When the ninja failed to arrive he started to worry that maybe he had run into problems. Fortunately the technology that had repaired him had also been upgraded during his time underground. It had been a simple matter to divert some of the energy into thrust, allowing him to move back along the path they had taken many months earlier.

As he did so he took notice of the strange creatures that had arisen from the scorched earth. It was clear the destruction had poisoned the ground in more ways than one. He could count numerous groups of malevolent spirits growing stronger by the day. The plants and animals that inhabited the broken land had been mutated by its power. From the look of some of those he passed even death was not a reprieve from their torment. He had no doubt the ghosts that roamed the city would give anything for a way to leave.

When he reached the edge of the city, Oroku Saki had still not appeared and Ch’rell was forced to accept the likelihood that his servant had abandoned him. He would pay for such treachery but before Ch’rell could track him down there was still the matter of needing a body. With that in mind he flew off down the road, promising himself that Oroku Saki would rue the day he turned his back on Shredder.

End of Part



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Lightspeed Rescue: Lightspeed: Hunt and Rescue

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers. I do not own Super Sentai. I also do not own Rescue Force or Fire Rescue. They all belong to whoever currently owns their copyrights. This is a fan work produced for non-profit. Garth is an original character based on a combination of sources including X-Men and Guyver. His armour is based on the Demon Hunter from the GoGoV movie. Nancy is an interpretation of Nancy Cooper from Lightspeed Rescue. Her armour is based on the female Demon Hunter from the GoGoV Movie. The deployment of her armour is borrowed from Iron Man.

Lightspeed: Hunt and Rescue


Lightspeed Aquabase
September 1998

His gun tracked her movements as she spun away from his sword thrust. He fired. She skilfully dodged the series of shots that laid waste to a wooden table. He kept firing, his computer assisted targeting system anticipating her next moves. Each shot was narrowly avoided as her own computer system predicted his intention and formulated the best response. He switched his weapon to rapid-fire and unleashed a volley of shots that tore through the visitor couch and punched holes in the far wall. A warning lit up his screen and he ducked to avoid the foot stool she had kicked in his direction after allowing one shot to strike her. It was off target due to her loss of balance after being shot, but it was close enough to make him take evasive action. At which point she gained the upper hand.

Her sword was out and as he paused, she propelled herself in his direction, targeting his should with a downward strike. He rolled to the left and brought his own sword up to block it. His intention had been to fire the shotgun still in his left hand, but her systems had anticipated such a response. Her right foot slammed into his chest, forcing him to stumbled back into the wall. Her sword jabbed forward only to be blocked by his own weapon.

From there the two began a deadly dance around the wrecked office space, tearing into the outer office and around the reception area. Swords, guns, fists and feet flew as each tried to gain the upper hand. He was slightly taller and broader with a very small reach advantage. She relied on her speed and combat skills to make up for the slight disadvantage and the upgraded armour she wore to spring a few surprises of her own. They spun, twisted, ducked and leapt to avoid their opponent’s attack and hopefully gain the deciding blow. The computer assistance that each received made their moves all the deadlier until finally they reached a point of stalemate.

Both were slightly out of breath, their sword blades resting against their opponent’s throat while the barrel of their gun was level with their opponent’s chest. Their computers rapidly searched for the best means of escaping, but failed to come up with a winning strategy. Both took the decision to ignore the hundred or so strategies and use their own.

She spun to the left, intending for her sword to strike his head. As she rolled the shot from his rifle narrowly skimmed the side of her chest. He own shot went wide, knocking his sword off target. Her own sword blow had been on the mark, but the need to dodge his shot meant it lacked the force needed and was easily knocked aside. Still she was not to be denied and completing a full turn as she lowered her body to the floor, she stood to find her gun pointed directly at his chest. She didn’t hesitate in firing.

While she had been moving to deliver her final shot, he had adjusted his position to allow for his strategy. As the blast from her gun struck him in the chest, his sword was already swinging. As the blast deflected from his armour and she was thrown away, his sword struck her across the chest. He allowed his targeting system to direct his movements as he raised his rifle and opened fire.

The sword shot to her chest combined with the deflection of her own shot pushed her back, but she was not done. She rolled back into a standing position and allowed her targeting system to direct her as she threw her sword at him. The computer confirmed that she had missed just as she ducked to avoid the potentially fatal shot that ripped a hole in the wall behind her. She toppled over and lay still, unable to move as the chest strike caught up with her. She was relieved to see the same was true for him.

The room grew brighter, the walls collapsed down as the training program ended. A small team of technicians helped her to her feet just as another team did the same for her opponent. They picked up their weapons, returning them to their storage holsters before crossing the training area and shaking hands.

“System Command: Armour Off!” Garth Nelson ordered, causing his armour to return to its resting position. The power unit in his chest sank back beneath the skin as his heavily modified body shifted into its more human-looking form.

“System Command: Armour Off!” Nancy Cooper commanded. Her armour shrank back into the special storage compartments that had been strapped to her limbs and back. The small power unit was encased in its safety package before joining the armour in her backpack. she quickly released the straps and opened a storage case that allowed her to carry the armour in a single container. She secured the lock before allowing the box to return to its storage space.

“Well done,” Garth told her as the technicians hand them each a bottle of water. “That was almost perfect.”

“You too,” she agreed.

Garth had been training constantly since joining Lightspeed. The modifications he had undergone at the hands of government scientists had made him a living weapon, but he had needed to train constantly to develop the technology they had used into a means of fighting. The implants inside his cranium had been enhanced when his armour’s computer system had been connected to Lightspeed’s computer. It allowed him to receive the same operational data that the Lightspeed Rangers used during their missions and to use those computers for extra processing space.

The armour Nancy had been testing was very similar to Garth’s but had not been internalised. Instead the components were deployed in a similar way to the Lightspeed Rangers’ uniforms. Instead of an internal computer, Nancy’s helmet carried all the components needed to give her similar capabilities to Garth. It was only when they were acting without armour that it became clear that Garth was the augmented human soldier and Nancy was the highly skilled operative. Both were considered an asset.

“I’m amazed at the progress you’ve both made,” Captain Mitchell announced, causing the technicians to snap to attention. Nobody had seen him enter. He flicked through the pages of a report before signing the bottom and handing the clipboard to an assistant. “In fact I think we can end the testing altogether.”

He watched as Nancy’s face fell. He knew why: this project was her last link to Lightspeed after the Lightspeed Rangers had made it clear that they would never accept her as a sixth Ranger. That the Lightspeed Rangers had threatened to quit if forced to work with an unwanted teammate, had forced Captain Mitchell to scrap the White Lightspeed powers they had built for Nancy. However he had decided that the building and testing of the new armour required an experienced operative and had offered Nancy the job. Sadly with the testing at an end, so was Nancy’s reprieve.

“From this moment Operation: Demon Hunter is live and providing you two are agreeable, you’re both upgraded to active status.”

Nancy was confused. She had been led to believe that she had been testing Lightspeed’s attempts to duplicate Garth’s armour without the need to surgically alter the bodies of those using it.

“Finishing the armour was important, but training an operative capable of using that armour was more important,” Captain Mitchell told her. “We needed somebody who could adapt to the new system when it wasn’t just second nature. You accomplished that.”

“But I thought there could only be five Rangers,” she protested.

“Lightspeed only has five Lightspeed Rangers,” Captain Mitchell allowed. “Six if include the Titanium Ranger, but since we can’t find anybody capable of using them…”

They had tried find a user for the Titanium powers but it had proven impossible. The damaged morpher had been repaired but the power cells were still overcharged. It had been theorised that once somebody had successfully transformed using the Titanium Morpher, the excess charge would be stabilised and the device rendered safe. The problem was that nobody could survive the transformation process without either collapsing or worse. Carter had tried and failed when it had been suggested that as an active Ranger he would be used to the strain of the first transformation. The Red Ranger had been left panting but otherwise unscathed. Garth had also tried and had collapsed under the strain.

“As you know our funding limits the Rangers to fighting Queen Bansheera’s forces and rescuing those endangered when they attack. They don’t allow us to deal with the demons before they strike or to find ways to vanquish them permanently. The Demon Hunter Project is our way of dealing with this problem. If you agree the two of you will only be responsible for dealing with demon attacks and dealing with those that try to assist them.”

There had been a few cases where humans had willingly aided the demons in return for power. So far Lightspeed had managed to put a stop to whatever schemes they had come up with, but there was at least one self-proclaimed demon priest stirring up trouble.

“The Demon Hunters are Lightspeed’s black-ops. Unlike other personnel you will not need to obey the commands or the Lightspeed Rangers in the field, although I expect you to work with them.”

Lightspeed’s shareholders and the organisation’s reliance on government backing had limited their role. Maybe of the shareholders wanted to sell the plans for the Lightspeed Rescue Zords to the highest bidder. Fortunately the plans and patents for other technology were held by a separate trust. The creation of the Demon Hunters placed part of their activities outside of the direct control of the military. The creation of the Lightspeed International Rescue Force allowed Captain Mitchell to dispose of their older equipment among trusted organisations. The Demon Hunters and Rescue Force split the role of Lightspeed between fighting evil and saving lives and Captain Mitchell was certain that with that clear division he could win any potential arguments.

“What about the Rangers?” Nancy asked.

Dana and the others had made it clear they would never accept Nancy as a member of their team. Their actions had forced Captain Mitchell to consider disciplinary action against the, but they were deemed too important to place on suspension.

“The Demon Hunters are not Rangers, the Rescue Force are not Rangers and will never be treated as Rangers. Whether Dana and the others choose to accept that there are other teams out there is up to them.” He paused. “They will be reminded that either group would make excellent replacements for the Lightspeed Rangers should they decide to resign.”

And there was the final piece of the puzzle. Captain Mitchell had created two new forces to allow Lightspeed to carry out its missions without outside intervention and prevent the Lightspeed Rangers from threatening to quit to get their own way. And with both the Demon Hunters and Rescue Force available to provide additional support during a mission, Mariner Bay had also become a safer place in the process.

End of Part









Demon Hunters and Rescue Force operatives



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The Iron Bat Man?

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, Spider-man, Iron Man or any other series. They belong to their rightful copyright owners. This is merely a piece of fanfiction.

The Iron Bat Man?

Earth,

A penthouse apartment in the middle of a thriving metropolis, so many cars that it would be impossible to drive them all in the space of a day, a different woman on each arm every night of a week to some of the most expensive restaurants available. Money could not buy happiness, but for Anthony Stark it meant being able to but the things that could make him happy.

Alcoholic, smoker, gambler, womaniser, industrialist, inventor and arms trader. All words that could be used to describe the millionaire that had had the nerve to stand before Congress and make a mockery of those that had demanded his presence. Wise cracking, abrasive, often borderline insulting in his dealings with those who felt themselves somehow superior, Stark was not a man to be taken lightly.

In the days since the Avengers had disbanded, Tony Stark had been busy working on other projects. Actually when he wasn’t out drinking, womanising and having a good time, he was working on improving the many suits of armour hidden away beneath his mansion on the outskirts of New York. Steel had given way to new materials just as simple circuits had been replaced by new methods of controlling the suits.

A recent collaboration with another scientist had led to new methods of deploying the armour in the field. Having seen the Power Rangers and others in action he had realised how cumbersome some of his designs had been. A little open-mindedness and sharing information with Lightspeed had seen exciting results.

“Load schematics for the Iron Avenger.”

There were some projects that Tony had delayed working on. The Iron Avenger was one of them. The large weapon system brought back memories of Minion and the events of that time. It was something he and many others preferred to forget.

~How do you go back to a normal life after something like that?~ he wondered, not for the first time.

Minion and his forced had driven the world to its knees before he was defeated. And for those that had fought against him, it was difficult to forget.

“Access security protocols. If we’re going to do this let’s start by locking the door.”

Stark’s reluctance to repair, rebuild or just redesign the Iron Avenger wasn’t down to the events surrounding Minion. He was well aware there were those within the government that would love to get their hands on a fully functional suit of Iron Man armour without the safety protocols in place. Even SHIELD had not managed to break the security algorithms he had installed. The Iron Avenger was bigger than any of his normal armour and had the firepower to match. It was a piece of equipment he had vowed to never sell.

“Set initial security as Level Four.”

“Level Four has been set, Sir,” JARVIS responded. “Energy grid is now locked to your command.”

Level Four meant the suit would only accept power when Tony Stark used an exact vocal command while wearing an activated suit of Iron Man armour. When he finished the repairs he planned to lock the Iron Avenger to only accept commands from one suit that he would lock behind security that made the Federal Reserve look undefended.

“Begin mapping the damage.”

The Iron Avenger had been wrecked during the battle with the Elemental Beasts, so this was more a case of finding out if anything had survived as opposed to what had been damaged beyond repair. As expected it seemed that the damage had been sever and corrosion had only added to the problem. He realised that now would be a good time to scrap the machine and remove a potential problem down the line.

“It would appear that very little survived,” JARVIS commented as various components flashed up on the screen. “I believe your furry dice are intact.”

“Okay, let’s go back to the drawing board. Start with standard suit and then upscale.”

It wasn’t that simple of course. The Iron Avenger was a weapon system, not a battle suit. It was controlled from a cockpit, not by direct body movements. And the weapons would need a major redesign to work at a larger scale without exploding.

But this was Tony Stark at his best doing the thing that he excelled at. Working the systems he had built to help him build, he managed to work up a suitable blueprint in the space of an evening.

“What is the flight capability?” he asked, watching as the computer flashed through the necessary calculations.

“Zero, Sir,” JARVIS told him. “However with sufficient thrust, a controlled leap is possible.”

So, no hovering. The suit was big, heavy and too cumbersome to continuously switch jets and maintain position. It was a task beyond the computers and would require too many humans working as a team to accomplish. He wanted to limit access to a five man crew at most.

“I have relocated the weapons as requested,” JARVIS advised, bringing up an image of the giant metal hand. In addition to the single energy weapon mounted on the palm, smaller weapons had been placed at the fingertips and knuckles. “And Miss Antoinette is requesting an appointment to discuss her credit card bill.”

Tony sighed. Antoinette Stark was a distant relative that had made several attempts to claim the family fortune before giving up and accepting an expense account. The woman could spend her way through a credit limit easier than a Democrat president, but she was family and he knew it was easier to find the check book and just sign than to try and convince her to spend less.

It was a shame because despite her age, Antoinette had inherited the creativity and genius that made the family rich. He had seen one of her attempts to design a suit of armour and had to admit that some of the features were desirable. It was a shame that she insisted on relying on unconventional methods of powering such designs, namely magic.

~Then again magic is just energy,~ he thought, realising that it would totally bewilder those that sought to use his designs if they had to learn to cast spells as well. “JARVIS, bring up the blueprints for the power core. And then contact Horatio.”

Sometimes it didn’t hurt to think outside the box.


Arkham Asylum, Earth

‘In the game of Life the Joker is wild!’

He had been called a lunatic, a deranged psychopathic murderer that would take pleasure from slaughtering the innocence. And while he would before the first to agree that he was not playing with a full deck, he believed that he deserved some credit for acknowledging it. But alas he received no respect, no respect at all. And it really irked him. More so now he was dead.

In life he had been known as the Joker, a dangerous criminal that had appeared on the streets of Gotham City and made it to the world stage. He had seemingly died a dozen times and had always found a way to return, although for the life of him he couldn’t say how. His most recent death however had been permanent as far as he knew. Which raised the interesting question of how he happened to be alive and sitting in a jail cell awaiting his next opportunity to escape.

Something was missing in his life. That little bit of pain that made existence so much more enjoyable. He liked to think of it as Batman. Where was the Bat? He had been missing for almost as long as the Joker had been dead, give or take a year. One day it just seemed the masked fool and his little friends had simply vanished off the face of the planet.

Oh there had been some sort of incident and Batman had been caught in the middle of it as usual, but as far as the Joker was aware he had not been among the final casualties.

“Come out, come out wherever you are,” he cooed as he floated through the abandoned corridors of the old cell block. “Because ready or not, here I come! Better yet, I’ll hide and you can come and find me. Hahahahaha!”


Gotham City Earth

Being a super hero took a huge strain on the body. Especially when the hero in question was just a man in a mask. Bruce Wayne was aware of the discomfort such activities could cause. His muscles, bones and joints had taken more than their fair share of abuse during his time as Batman. The accumulated knocks had left him crippled, something he publicly blamed on a life of fast cars, loose women and extreme sports.

The comparisons between Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne were well known. Their success in business, their wealth and their vices were a matter of public record. The difference was that while Tony Stark really was a drunken womaniser known to don a suit of armour to protect the world, for Wayne it was an act to cover his secret identity.

Despite being business rivals, there was a healthy respect between Stark and Wayne. Both considered the other competent within their own field. Stark invented things and led teams to bring new products to market while Wayne found the people that could invent things and invested his time and money to make them a success. So when Bruce had received a gift from Stark Enterprises, the gesture was not a shock although the contents were.

“Is that a complete suit sir?” Alfred enquired.

“Stripped of weapons and computer systems,” Bruce commented as he studied the black boot in his hand. “But otherwise it looks genuine.”

He put the boot down, picked up one of the gloves and slipped it on. A sigh escaped his lips.

“Master Bruce?”

“Some sort of active material on the inside,” Bruce answered, “clings to the skin and does… something to the muscles.”

Indeed for the first time in recent history, Bruce Wayne was able to move the fingers on his right hand without discomfort.

“I don’t think Mr Stark did this so you could go drinking with him,” Alfred commented, holding up the helmet.

Bruce chuckled. It was clear that Stark had sent him a complete but unfinished suit of light weight armour. Made of softer material than the Iron Man armour, Bruce had no doubt it was still bullet proof and resistant to swords. It would need to be altered to his requirements, but he imagined that was why it had been left unfinished.

“Looks like we’ll be needing a shopping list,” he said.

Crime in Gotham had been escalating recently, maybe it was time to get back in the game.


There were mixed accounts within the superhero community about Stark’s decisions to distribute armour not only to Batman, but to other superheroes. Ranging from fully metal armour to other more flexible materials, it had been noted that Stark had established himself as a cornerstone of the superhero community; later attempts to bring back the Avengers had seen him call in favours from those he had so selflessly supplied.

Some however saw his gesture as a means of protecting against rogue elements. While testing to establish whether or not Stark did plant failsafes inside his gifts were inconclusive due to the reluctance of the owners to damage them, there were rumours that such a feature was used on two occasions. Many pointed out that the need to deal with possible abuse of his designs was something a man like Tony Stark would have considered.

There was some speculation by those that knew him that Bruce Wayne maintained a threat level database on every superhero operating around the world. Multiple resources and his innate detective skills meant he was easily able to guess the identities of some of his peers. For a man who didn’t like guns, Batman had an impressive number of bullets that could take down some of his most powerful allies.

Some would condemn such preparations as a lack on faith in his fellow heroes. Others would claim that as one of the elders of the hero world, there was a responsibility to make sure that the protectors of the world never became its greatest threat.


“As usual I had the parts made by different parts of Wayne Enterprises and then channelled through other suppliers to one of our warehouses,” Alfred advised as Bruce studied the completed suit.

“And that warehouse just happens to be the one that never got added to the inventory,” Bruce commented as he finished inspecting a piece of sharpened metal that had been cut in the shape of a small bat.

“That’s right. We found the gauntlets were already equipped with a launching mechanism. One thing I’ll say about Mr Stark is that he thinks ahead.” He looked to where his employer was inspecting the paintwork on the chest plate. “I took the liberty of having the — nipples removed.”

“Okay let’s give this a try,” Bruce decided.

Unlike Iron Man’s armour, Bruce’s new costume did not have an entourage of machines to dress him. Nor did it require one since the pieces fitted together like a suit of clothing instead of needing to bolt together like armour. With the speed of somebody used to dressing in confined spaces in a hurry, Bruce was able to don the costume in less than a minute. Pulling the mask into place activated a few of the systems he and Alfred had thought to be useful.

“We decided not to use Mr Stark’s cape,” Alfred told him. “The material looked good, but that was all it did. Now this,” he said handing a piece of material to his employer, “is an electro-sensitive material. You apply a current and it solidifies. Lightweight too. I’ve seen hand gliders made from similar products.”

“News just in: Police and other agencies have been called to Arkham Asylum after contact with staff inside the facility was lost.”

Though they had left the television playing in the background, the report caused Bruce and Alfred to suddenly remember that it was there.

“This couldn’t be a coincidence could it?” Alfred asked.

Bruce shrugged. There was no way Stark could have foreseen such a turn of events, but the timing was definitely something he would question later. First of all he planned to head to Arkham and find out what was going on.

End.


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The Next Scoop

Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers, Spider-man or any other series. They belong to their rightful copyright owners. This is merely a piece of fanfiction.

The Next Scoop

New York

Things had changed. Exactly what had changed and when those changes had occurred was not clear. Most people couldn’t even sense that something was not the same, but for others, like Peter Parker, it was obvious. It had started after the defeat of Minion, when the government had ordered that collective super hero activity on American soil cease. Plans had been made for a new unified group to protect the world, but nothing had been done. As weeks turned to months it had been easy to just sit back and allow the Power Ranger to handle things. After Minion, retirement had been a welcoming idea.

Peter had for a short time gone back to being a masked crime fighter on the streets of New York. But eventually the motivation to Spider-Man and the need to fight crime seemed to vanish. In fact his entire life since the defeat of Minion was at best a blur and the harder he tried to recall what had happened, the harder it became to remember even the important details. It was a mystery, but one he seemed unwilling to solve. And that worried him more than anything else.

~Although not as worrying as a summons to the Daily Bugle,~ he thought as he exited the lift and made his way to Mr Jameson’s office.

When Peter had stopped working as Spider-Man, he had also put himself out of work. Jameson paid for pictures of the wall climbing menace and had little interest in Parker’s other work. No Spider-Man, no pay check was the Editor-in-Chief’s final word on the matter. And since Peter was freelance and supposed to turn up when he had something worth selling, it had been a while since he had faced the walrus.

Unsurprisingly the print room staff noticed his entrance and huddled close together, waiting for the spectacle that was bound to follow. They had all suffered their employer’s wrath, but it seemed that Peter Parker was capable of pushing Jameson to an even more intense level of anger, normally just by being there.

“Get in here Parker!” was bellowed before the photographer had a chance to knock, causing him to swallow and the crowd to listen all the harder.

Peter did as he was told, reminding himself that he was not an employee and could leave at any time. He was not surprised to find the office was just as he remembered it and Jameson aside from a few more grey hairs, was just the same.

“Remind me Parker, why do I employ you when you don’t show up for over a year?” Jameson asked.

“You don’t, Mr Jameson,” Peter responded, trying to remain respectful. “You told me to stay freelance and turn up when I had something.”

Jameson snorted. He hadn’t gotten to the position of Editor-in-Chief by allowing himself to be hoodwinked.

“You’ve been holding out on me Parker,” he said. “Spider-Man is out there somewhere and you are the only one that can get photos of him. You stop turning up and all of a sudden people start questioning whether there really is a Spider-Man.”

And there it was, the real reason why Jameson wanted him. Spider-Man sold papers, but without pictures, people doubted the stories were true, which given that Spider-Man had not been seen for months was probably the case, didn’t help the Daily Bugle sell papers. Jameson needed photos to prove that Spider-Man was still around, so that his campaign against the wall-crawling vigilante could continue.

“I want photos Parker and you are going to get them for me!” Jameson bellowed, thumping his fist on the desk. Then his voice quietened as he added reluctantly: “I’ll pay you triple the normal amount.”

“Well that’s all well and good Mr Jameson, except I haven’t got any photographs to sell. Spider-Man just hasn’t been around. It’s like he left the city.”

“Left the city?” Jameson yelled before his face turned thoughtful. “Driven out by Daily Bugle and running from the truth, eh Parker? I like the angle.”

Peter could see that Jameson was all too ready to hand himself an award for what he considered a great service… before he remembered his falling sales.

“Well I’m not going to let that web-headed menace loose on some other city,” Jameson growled. “Or country… Yes, we’ve shown him up so much he left the country. Daily Bugle tracks Spider-Man around the globe, imagine the sales.”

He opened a drawer and pulled out a folder filled with newspaper clippings.

“There have been sighting of Spider-Man in Canada, France and Japan,” Jameson explained. “No photographs though. You’re going to track Spider-Man down, find out where he’s been hiding and get the proof. You can start in Japan; there’s enough costumed oddballs there that he would fit right in.”

“I’m sorry Mr Jameson, but I can’t afford to fly around the world on a Spider-Man hunt,” Peter explained.

Jameson grumbled something about ungrateful kids not realising opportunities they were offered before pressing a button on the intercom and asking his assistant to come in.

“Book Parker on a plane to Japan,” he instructed. He paused to consider the matter before adding: “Make it a return trip.”

“Yes Mr Jameson,” Brant replied before hurrying off.

“You’ll start in Japan and if you can’t find him there move on to the next country until you do,” Jameson promised. “And if you get me some good photos, I might consider making you a full time employee.”

“Yes Mr Jameson, thank you Sir,” Peter managed before heading out the door.

Jameson stared after him for a moment, his face taking on an odd expression before slowly returning to normal as he turned his attention to the day’s news, unaware that he was already a part of a huge story.

End.


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