Gabutyra thrashed and roared, throwing Mech-X4 from its back like a bull rider. The blue robot rolled across the ground, crushing a row of two-story buildings.
"We need to bring this thing down now!" PowerRed shouted as PowerMega charged forward.
//Careful!// Sci-Twi's voice crackled in the cockpit. //We need that dinosaur unharmed!//
//She's right,// Tommy added. //It's rampaging because it's confused and angry, but it's still a Zord! We really need to get it under control and make it understand we're not its enemies!//
"Brilliant," Airazor said. "So how do we stop a giant robot dinosaur without hurting it?"
"Or getting our own chassis handed to us," Sky-Byte grumbled.
Mech-X4 charged in again, shoulder-tackling Gabutyra like a football player. Gabutyra roared as it staggered; a dozen cables shot out of the robot, magnetic anchors snapping onto Gabutyra with loud clanks. Mech-X4 backed up slightly; powerful arcs of electricity snapped and hummed along the cables, sending up showers of sparks and huge clouds of smoke as Gabutyra thrashed and bellowed in pain. The dinosaur roared and stomped, shaking the earth, then twisted its body, yanking the taser anchors free, before slamming its tail into the blue robot, sending it flying.
From the top of a four-story building, the Shadow Rangers, along with Tommy in his Green Ranger suit and Sci-Twi, watched the battle fretfully. "Okay, so...you realize all they're doing is pissing it off, right?" Lemon Zest pointed out.
"This one's strong," Tommy said, unable to suppress a grin. "If we can get it on our side..."
"Yeah, because the surefire way to make friends with a T-rex robot is to electrocute it!"
"I'm still puzzling over the inverse waveform readings," Sci-Twi said. "I mean, the readings are so similar to the energy from Sunny Flare's Ranger Key, but it's almost as if the polarity is reversed!"
"It's the Saban Effect," Tommy said. "It's a little hard to explain, but here's the gist of it: in the reality I'm from, there's a parallel universe that has all the same Power Rangers, but they have...well, a different history." He gestured with his hands. "I mean, they have the same suits, the same weapons, and the same Zords, but the Rangers themselves are different people, the enemies they fight are similar but not quite the same, and their histories are all different." He shrugged. "It's something we discovered a while back, and a colleague of mine, Dr. Saban, postulated that what we were seeing was actually a mirror reality, a reflection of our own. In fact, there's evidence to suggest the mirror reality is much, much older than ours, and the fact that they've had Power Rangers we've never even heard of supports that. Any encounter with something from that reality, we call the Saban Effect." He scratched his chin. "If only we had the red Dino Chargers or the Red Dino Charge Ranger Key..." He frowned. "But this Zord is from the other universe, so..."
Sci-Twi's scanners suddenly began beeping insistently. Her eyes widened. "Something's coming—!"
The bright daylight sky suddenly turned to night as a shadow slid across the sun. A green portal opened within the corona of the eclipsed sun, and a massive wedge-shaped silver and black ship flew out, firing laser blasts at Gabutyra. Gabutyra spun wildly in place as the ship circled it, then flew up high, silhouetted against the slowly-closing portal from which it had emerged.
Tommy's jaw dropped. "I don't believe it," he whispered. "It's the Time Shadow Megazord!"
The Time Shadow Megazord transformed from a flying ship into a giant robot with long, sharp-looking blades extending from its forearms.
"Okay, THAT is awesome," Indigo Zap said.
"It's...synchronizing with—" Sci-Twi began.
"Me," Sour Sweet finished. The sides of her helmet were lighting up and flashing with dozens of embedded lights. "I'm receiving data...I have a link with this thing. Don't ask me how..." She raised her left arm and glanced uncertainly at a bracer mounted there.
"You should be able to ask the Time Shadow for its help," Tommy said. "It showed up to help the Time Force Rangers a lot, though it was almost never under their direct command. Just..." He frowned. "See if you can get it to subdue the dinosaur, and tell it to look for some really big batteries."
"I...think I know what to do," Sour Sweet said, pressing some buttons on her bracer. Time Shadow's eyes lit up, and it charged forward, tackling Gabutyra. Gabutyra fought back, but was forced on the defensive from Time Shadow's blades. PowerMega and Mech-X4 moved to flank Gabutyra on its four and eight, keeping it pinned.
Time Shadow stowed its blades in slots on its thighs, then grabbed Gabutyra by the sides of the head and looked it right in the eyes. After a long moment, Gabutyra ceased struggling. With one final low roar, it opened its mouth. Two enormous batteries slid out, then disappeared in fiery red flashes, reappearing in Sour Sweet's hands, only much smaller. Gabutyra turned to the Shadow Rangers and bowed its head. Time Shadow rose into the air, transformed back into a ship, and flew away as the sky returned to normal.
"Well, now we've got our red Zord," Tommy said, scratching his head idly, "but..."
"The power batteries match Sunny Flare's gun thing," Sugarcoat pointed out.
"We need to match red to red if we can," Tommy said. "Even if Sunny Flare's gear is a match, it might not accept her as its partner."
"Let me see those," Indigo Zap said. "My Nitro Blaster doesn't work right, but it has this slot in it, maybe..." She accepted the red Zyudenchi from Sour Sweet and fumbled with them for a minute, then awkwardly slotted them into her Nitro Blaster.
A bright red glow filled the blaster; Indigo yelped and dropped it, shaking out her hand. The blaster let out a loud, whining sound, then ejected the glowing-hot Zyudenchi. The Rangers backed away, watching in nervous apprehension.
Then, something happened nobody was expecting: The two Zyudenchi fused together, flattening out into a shape that looked less like batteries and more like a memory card. When the hot red glow faded, what was left behind was a red square memory device with a shining silver label on the side; the number 01 and a stylized, cartoonish red Tyrannosaur head were emblazoned on the label. Indigo reached down hesitantly and gingerly picked it up.
"It's an Engine Soul," Tommy said wonderingly. "I don't believe it, I've never seen Ranger equipment adapt itself like that before..."
Gabutyra let out a mighty roar...then shrank down into a scale model of himself, no bigger than a radio-controlled car.
"That's convenient," Sugarcoat said.
"Great, so now we have our own giant fighting robot thingie and a robot dinosaur," Lemon Zest said.
"It's a start," Tommy said. "Come on, let's get back to the lab..."
* * * * *
Half an hour had passed since the fight began.
Pressed by Tenshinhan's greater speed and strength, Ranma triggered his curse to gain the extra speed of his girl form. The change itself confused Tien long enough for Ranma to briefly gain the upper hand, but Tien recovered and pressed his attack. Now at a reach disadvantage, it was all Ranma could do to defend against Tien's onslaught. Meanwhile, Hikaru was busy distracting Chiaotzu, who they had learned had a nasty telekinetic ability—which didn't affect Hikaru's ability to use her fire magic, leaving Chiaotzu at a disadvantage.
A feint into an afterimage technique left Ranma overextended and weak, open to a hard axe kick from behind. Ranma cried out as she bounced across the pavement on her face. Tien, an evil grin on his face, advanced slowly, one hand curled at his side, a faint battle aura glowing around it. "Time to end this," he said.
Tien staggered as feet clad in red sneakers impacted repeatedly against the back of his head. Ranma scooted back, blinking; Tien whirled around, keeping one eye on Ranma while adjusting his guard. "What—"
A blue flash dazed Ranma as a short-range ki blast exploded in Tien's face. Tien raised his hands to guard his eyes; his third eye squeezed tightly shut.
Ranma could just make out the outline of the figure which slid fist-first into Tien's breadbasket, driving him back several feet before lifting him off the ground with a rising uppercut. As Tien fell onto his back, Ranma's vision cleared. She blinked.
A brown-haired Japanese girl in a seifuku stood over Tien. She wore a white headband tied around her head, red padded karate gloves, and battered old red sneakers.
She took a deep breath, then turned to face Ranma. "Sorry to butt in," she said. "You looked like you could use a hand. Plus, I've been watching for a while now and this guy was just pissing me off."
Tien stood up, grunting, and glared at the new arrival. "Okay, who the hell are you?" he snarled.
The new girl punched a fist into an open palm. "Name's Kasugano Sakura," she said. "Between me and big-titties over here, I'd say you'd better run if you don't want three black eyes!"
"H-HEY!" Ranma cried.
"Well they are pretty big," Hikaru said.
"Che," Tien snorted. He levitated into the air, rising above the girls. "Screw this. Come, Chiaotzu. We're leaving."
"HEY! I ain't finished with you!" Ranma called, shaking a fist at the departing triclops.
"Ranma-kun, let it go," Hikaru said as Tien and Chiaotzu became vanishing specks in the sky. She turned to Sakura and bowed. "Thanks," she said. "You showed up at just the right time."
"Feh...I'd'a got 'im eventually," Ranma said, crossing her arms.
Sakura brushed the back of her hand across her nose. "Yeah, I'm sure you had some big power move you were just waiting for the right moment to pull out," she said. "But I hate big jerks like that and you looked like you were getting tired." She offered a hand.
Ranma stared at her, cheeks puffed out, then sighed and grudgingly shook the offered hand. "I was gettin' pretty tired," she admitted. "That guy's a friggin' monster."
"HOT WATER TIME!" Ed ran in out of nowhere and threw a basin full of hot water at Ranma, who gained height and muscle.
"Thanks, runt," Ranma said, swiping wet bangs out of his eyes.
Sakura boggled. "WH-WH-WH-WH-WH-" She pointed a shaky finger at Ranma and looked at Hikaru. "WHAT JUST—GIRL—BOY—WHAT?!"
Hikaru giggled. "Sakura-chan, meet Saotome Ranma-kun. He's got some kind of weird Chinese curse. You know those old toy cars that change color in water? It's kind of like that except he changes sex."
"HEY! Don't make it sound like I'm a plaything!" Ranma yelped. "I don't have Takara stamped on my butt!"
"Sou ka na," Sakura said softly. "And...like...everything changes? All the, um, stuff?"
Ranma groaned. "Yes, everything changes," he said tiredly.
"Huh," Sakura said. After a beat, she asked, "So, like, is your dick as big as your tits, or—?"
* * * * *
"Why did we run away, Tien?" Chiaotzu asked as the Crane duo landed several blocks away.
Tien fished a small jar of balm from his sash and stripped off his shirt, revealing a blossoming pattern of ugly bruises. "The sex-changing freak did more damage than I let on," he admitted as he began rubbing salve on his torso. "He or she or whatever knows how to use that speed punch technique to do the most possible damage. That other girl that showed up right at the end..." He grimaced. "I don't know if she's as strong as the freak or not, but that last punch she threw hit like a truck and got me right in the spot I'd already been hurt worst." He finished treating his wounds and replaced his shirt, letting out a weary sigh. "If we run into those two again, I'll destroy them, but I'd rather watch and see which way they're going and head the opposite direction. There's nothing to gain from fighting them again. We should focus our energy on survival, not revenge." He cracked his knuckles.
"If I ever do see those two again, though, I'll send them to Hell."
* * * * *
In a flash of light, two women dropped into the middle of a street baking under the harsh glare of the midday sun. One was a tall blond with a lean yet muscular build and the figure of a supermodel, whose long hair was pulled back in a ponytail. The other was shorter, scrawnier, and had short, shaggy reddish-brown hair. She was dressed in casual clothes, the kind you'd wear for a day out shopping.
The tall blond was in her underwear.
Said blond stood up, blinking, shielding her eyes from the harsh sun as she looked around. "What...just happened?"
Screams split the air. The street was filled with glowing blue and purple robots, each with a pink brain creature housed in its torso, each armed with a plasma blaster. Innocent people were running in terror from the robots.
The blond grimaced. "Wonderful," she said. "The one day I don't have a single weapon on me..." She tensed for a fight.
"Umm...you might wanna find some clothes first," the shorter woman said, blushing furiously.
The blond looked down at herself, blinked, and groaned. "Yeah, probably a good idea..." Shaking her head, she sprinted to the nearest door, heedless of the stiletto-heeled sandals she was wearing, and kicked it right off its hinges. As she disappeared inside, the other woman shook her head and massaged the bridge of her nose.
"So much for a relaxing day shopping..."