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Power Rangers Ride The Rails
#15 - "The Argent Antagonist" (Originally Written In: 2017)

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Joopy was in the farmhouse, pondering his next move. He mulled over the monsters he'd created, and came to a realization. "I'm going to recreate my original creation, but - this time - I'll throw in a little twist!" He summoned his syringe and squeezed out some gel, which formed into Snoodles. "This is your last solo, Snoodles!"

"What does that mean?"

"If you fail me this time, I'll merge with you and grow to a height that will allow me to destroy those Rangers with no problem!"

"Why not just give me better weapons, or some sort of armor, or something like that?"

"Because, it's just easier this way! You get a second chance, and I'll get a cool new form if you fail!"

"Hey, wait a minute--"

"What's that?" Joopy shot a beam at Snoodles, teleporting him away. "I'm sorry! I can't hear you anymore!"

~*~

Snoodles appeared outside of the Farmers' Market. He landed and looked around. "Where am I? -- Hey, that's right. Joopy teleported me here!" The crowd at the Market screamed and started to flee the area. "No, wait!"

~*~

Phoenix laid three cards out onto the table. "Five of Hearts, Queen of Diamonds, and the Ace of Spades." He looked around at the others. "You guys in or out?"

Chase looked at his cards and threw them into the center of the table. "I'm out, mate. These cards are rubbish."

Gabriela looked at her cards. "Hm..." She looked at the center cards, then back to the ones in her hand. "I don't know... These are pretty good cards..." Chase glanced over at her hand, then grabbed her cards and threw them into the center pile. "Hey!"

"She's out."

"I could have gotten Canasta with those!"

"We're playing Texas Hold'em Poker," Chase replied.

"Oh, then I would have lost badly."

Riley looked at his cards, and confidently threw some chips into the pot. "I'm in, and I'll raise." He looked at Kaori, who was surrounded by towers of chips. "What about you, Moneybags?"

She glanced at her cards, and threw a matching amount of chips into the pot. "I'm not only in," she said, shoving one of her chip towers into the center, "but I'll raise you $5,000."

"Ooh..." Chase, Phoenix, and Gabriela spoke in unison.

"What's your move, Riley? You in, or do you fold?" Phoenix asked.

"Oh, I'm in," Riley said, putting all of his chips into the pot. "Bring it!"

"You'll be sorry..." Kaori said, smirking.

Phoenix took the cards from Riley and Kaori and placed them in front of the cards already on the table, keeping them face down. He drew the next card. "King of Clubs!" Riley started to look visibly nervous, while Kaori remained confident. Phoenix noticed Riley shifting in his chair. "You okay?"

Riley nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just... Deal the card."

"Okay..." Phoenix slowly drew the next card from the deck, and turned it over very slowly. "It is... the Ten of Clubs!"

Kaori stood up, slamming her fist onto the table. "No!"

Riley jumped up. "Yes!" He grabbed his cards and flipped them over, showing that he was holding the Jack of Hearts and the Ace of Diamonds. "Ace-high Straight! I win!" He wrapped his arms around the stack of chips on the table and pulled them toward him. "Come to Daddy!"

Kaori sighed. "Good hand, Riley! You've bested me yet again!"

"I thought, for sure, that you were going to lose," Chase commented.

"Me, too," Riley said, "but, it all came down to the luck of the cards."

"Too bad it's fake money," Gabriela spoke, "otherwise, Kaori would be even richer than Phoenix!"

"There's no way that would happen," Phoenix commented.

Suddenly, their game was interrupted. -"ALERT! ALIEN ACTIVITY DETECTED AT THE FARMERS' MARKET!"-

"Well, you know what that means," Riley said. "Time to go!" He pressed the yellow 'Teleport' button on his Rail Morpher and was teleported out of the room. The other Rangers followed suit soon thereafter.

~*~

Xityrant watched the battle begin to unfold on one of his monitors. "Prepare our prisoner for his debut. He first needs to gain the trust of the Rangers, so he should only destroy the monster."

"What do I tell him to go for that?" Expulsar asked.

"I don't know," he replied. "You're smart. Tell him that he should just focus on the monster, or something."

Expulsar sighed. "Yes, sir." He turned and walked out of the room. Outside, he bumped into Entoborg. "Excuse me."

"What's got you so bummed?"

"Xityrant's just... He's so hands-off with his evil plans."

"Really? What makes you say that?"

"He told me to, quote, 'wing it' when I tell Orion to infiltrate the Rangers."

"What's wrong with that? My old crew and I had to wing it all the time. In fact, I was one of the monsters that helped to shape our plans of attack."

"Really? Hey, uh..." He leaned in closely. "Want to help me with this one?"

"Sure. I'm not doing much of anything else."

"Great! Let's go!" Expulsar grabbed Entoborg's hand and dragged him off.

"I can walk, you know!"

~*~

The Ranger teens landed in the Farmers' Market, where Snoodles was sampling some of the wares from a nearby fruit stand. "These are delicious!" He turned and saw the Rangers. "Oh, hello!" He waved, tossing his fruit into the air. "Aww, man! I was going to eat that!"

The Rangers looked at each other, confused. "This is the big threat?" Phoenix asked.

"Seems to me like he's just eating some fruit," Gabriela commented.

"Allow me." Riley took a couple of steps toward the monster. "So... Snoodles, was it?" Snoodles nodded. "Great. What brings you to our neck of the woods?"

"Joopy said that I had to destroy you, but that I'd probably get destroyed myself in the process. He's banking on me losing, so he'll gain some new power level and take you on himself."

"Really?" He nodded. "That sounds terrible. Excuse me." He turned and walked back toward the others. "Huddle." The teens huddled together. "So, he's basically on a suicide mission, and we're going to wind up fighting his boss. Any ideas?"

"How about we make it LOOK like he's winning, so what's-his-face gets mad and destroys him himself?" Chase asked. "We'd basically not have to do ANYTHING!"

"I like it!" Kaori replied. "It's a simple plan."

"Do you really think he'll fall for us losing? We wiped this guy out in no time last time," Riley commented.

"Riley's right," Gabriela added.

"Yeah," Phoenix confirmed. "There's no way we could lose to him, even if we tried."

"Well, we need to think of something, because we can't stay here like this forever," Riley spoke.

"You're the boss, Fearless Leader," Chase said. "Whatever you think we should do, we'll do it."

Riley sighed. "I guess we'll go with your plan of doing nothing, then."

"That's the spirit, mate!" Chase exclaimed.

~*~

Back on Xityrant's ship, Expulsar and Entoborg walked into the Prison Compound, where Orion was still training. "Hey, prisoner!" Expulsar exclaimed, getting his attention.

Orion stopped his training mid-staff-swipe and aimed it at the two monsters. "What do you two want?"

"We've got some intel for you," Entoborg explained. "You see, the monster that's down there is simply a decoy to try and lure you out. It's all an elaborate hoax put on by TQG in an effort to make it look like their warriors are battling him. What you need to do," he continued, putting an arm around Orion, "is go down there and gain the Rangers' trust. Defeat that monster in no time, and you'll certainly get in their favor. Maybe they'll even invite you into their base of operations. You can investigate their activities, find out if anything good is happening, and report back to us when they're not around. Easy, right?"

"I... Guess so?"

"Good!" Entoborg pat Orion on the back. "Then, it's settled. You leave immediately." Entoborg walked over to Expulsar, who was still standing by the door. He aimed his blaster arm at Orion and set it to 'Teleport.' "Smell you later!" He fired the beam at Orion, who teleported away in a streak of silver energy. He turned to Expulsar, who was just in awe of what transpired. "That's how it's done, son."

"I just... What just happened?"

"Fast talking, and little time to respond. It's Marketing 101."

"Okay...?"

"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to plan our next assault. With Orion getting in the Rangers' good graces, we'll need to keep sending down decoys."

"Isn't that what that other guy's doing?"

Entoborg laughed. "You really think he'll last past today?" He walked off.

"Well, I..."

~*~

Outside the ship, we see Orion's transport vessel approach. Inside the vessel, Gia is watching Orion's beam head toward the planet below. "Oh, no, you don't! I'm coming to save you, whatever planet this is!" She steered the vessel, and it headed past Xityrant's ship to the planet below.

~*~

Xityrant watched as the ship followed Orion. "Well, well, well... What have we here?" He pressed a couple of buttons and got a view of the pilot. "Who's this pretty young thing?"

-"I've got to stop you, Orion,"- Gia spoke.

"Oh! She knows our prisoner! This is going to be good!"

~*~

"Okay, guys, let's transform," Riley spoke. "Engine Chargers, ready!" The teens inserted their Engine Chargers into their Rail Morphers and lowered the gate mechanisms, triggering the morphing sequence. "TQG, Activate!" The five teens were enveloped in an energy field, which quickly shattered to reveal their Ranger uniforms. They drew their weapons and posed, ready to attack. "Come at us, Snoodles... Unless, of course, you're too chicken!"

"Here I come!" Snoodles ran toward the Rangers, who feigned being struck as he ran through them. He stopped and turned around. "Wow! I didn't even feel anything!"

"You're... Too powerful for us!" Gabriela exclaimed.

"Please! Leave us poor Rangers alone!" Kaori shouted.

"Haven't you done enough to us?" Riley asked.

"Oh, I'm just getting started! Watch this!" Snoodles charged up a beam of energy and prepared to fire it at the Rangers. "One... Two... Three!" He launched the beam at the Rangers, who gasped and shielded their visors. Before the beam struck them, Orion's beam bounced into it, knocking it toward a vacant building. He landed in front of the Rangers and slowly stood up. Snoodles rubbed his eyes. "Who are you?"

~*~

"Who is that?" Kendrix asked, watching the battle on her own monitor. She pressed a button. "Kai! Come in here!"

He ran into her office. "What is it?"

"Check this out," she said, pointing to her monitor. Kai walked up behind her and looked over her shoulder. "Is that Silver guy one of ours?"

"No," Kai said, shaking his head. "He'd be themed after a train if he was."

"It reeks of Magna Defender to me," Kendrix commented. "We'd better be careful."

~*~

"Who am I?" Orion asked in response, turning toward Snoodles. "I'm your worst nightmare. Super Silver Spear..." Orion summoned his trident weapon and charged toward Snoodles. "... Strike." He slashed through Snoodles with his charged-up weapon, instantly destroying him. "You're finished."

"No, this wasn't part of my plan...!" Snoodles fell to the ground and exploded, shattering little bits of his form everywhere.

"Whoa..." The Rangers just stared in awe at what had just transpired.

"He's so dreamy," Kaori said, fangirling over him. "Such power..."

"Feh, he might be dreamy, but he's not Otome levels of dreamy," Gabriela retorted.

Orion removed his helmet and turned to face the Rangers. "I am Orion, from the distant planet of Andresia. I sensed that you needed assistance, and came to your defense."

Just then, Joopy appeared in the middle of the Snoodles dust. "My child! Oh, you Rangers will pay for this!" He raised his arms and charged up his hands, attracting the Snoodles dust to them like a pair of magnets. "Joopy McCorgan, power up!" He absorbed the Snoodles dust and took on a new form, resembling that of a clown. A whip appeared in his clenched fist. "How do you like me now, Rangers?!" He laughed maniacally.

"He just sucked up that other monster!" Phoenix exclaimed. "What should we do?"

"Why don't you peasants just stand back and let a real man handle this?" Orion asked, smugly. "Hey, clown! Take me on, if you're not a coward!"

"My beef isn't with you, Silver boy. My beef is with the Rainbow Warriors over here," Joopy replied, motioning toward the Rangers.

"Yeah! He's our problem!" Chase shouted. Quickly, he realized what he had just shouted. "What am I doing?"

"There, there," Riley said, patting Chase on the shoulder. "You just got excited again."

Orion coughed loudly. "If you clowns are finished over there, I need to defeat THIS clown over here!"

"Don't be so sure that you can defeat me, especially when I grow up!" He focused his energy and sprang up to city-wrecking proportions. "The view from up here is phenomenal!"

"Let's get the Zords!" Kaori shouted. "Brandon, dispatch the Rail Riders!"

-"Rail Riders are on the way!"-

"Oh, please, like your toys will be able to stop him. You need a REAL Megazord." Orion pulled out his Silver Morpher and pressed a series of buttons. "Q-Rex, arise!" The other Rangers watched as a blue ship emerged from a wormhole that opened up in the sky. "Try and keep up, losers!" Orion teleported into his Zord, as the Rail Riders made their way to the battle scene.

"He's so full of himself," Gabriela commented, "even moreso than Phoenix."

"For once, I agree with you," he replied. "Let's help him take out this clown, once and for all."

"Sounds like a good plan. Let's go," Riley commanded. The Rangers teleported into their Rail Riders and combined them into the Megazord.

Meanwhile, Orion transformed his Q-Rex into its Megazord mode, landing it right next to the Rail Rider Megazord.

"Should I be impressed?" Joopy asked. "Watch this!" He cracked his whip, and several giant-sized Nightmares appeared around him. "Say 'welcome' to my Nightmares, Rangers!" The super-sized grunts charged at the Megazords with their weapons drawn.

~*~

"Pathetic," Orion said, spinning the control wheel to his Megazord. "Try my drill on for size!"

~*~

The Q-Rex Megazord shoved its tail-drill arm through one of the Nightmares, destroying it on impact.

~*~

"Whoa," Riley gasped, watching as Orion speared the Nightmare. "Since he's got them under control, let's get Joopy."

"Right!"

~*~

The Rail Rider Megazord drew its saber and charged at Joopy, who wrapped his whip around it, pulling it right out of the Megazord's hand. "I've got your butterknife, Rangers! What are you going to do about it?"

~*~

"What ARE we going to do about that?" Chase asked.

"We'd better think of something," Gabriela added.

-"Rangers, it's Brandon. I've reconfigured one of Venture Capital's prisoner transport trains to combine with your Megazord. It should give you some added firepower! I'll send the Engine Charger over to Gabriela now."-

Riley looked at Chase. "Venture Capital has prisoner transport trains?"

Chase shrugged. "I'm as mystified as you are."

Gabriela held up the new Engine Charger. "Never look a gift horse in the mouth." She released her own Charger and put the Police Engine Charger into her morpher, activating the gate mechanism and summoning the new Rail Rider. "Police Rail Rider, combine!"

~*~

Joopy held up the Rangers' sword. "I've got the power now!" He laughed maniacally, but was soon knocked off of his feet by the speedy arrival of the new Police Rail Rider, which quickly combined with the Megazord, replacing both of its forearms and equipping it with a handcuff-looking device and a fist that held a pistol. Joopy got up and shook his head. "What is THAT?!"

~*~

Orion looked on, having defeated all of the Nightmares. "Hmph, kids and their new toys. They're no match for the awesome power of the Q-Rex!"

~*~

"Check it out! We've got some new tricks!"

-"Rangers! Try your new Confinement Bands by aiming the handcuff arm at Joopy. It should restrict his movement."-

"Right!"

~*~

The Megazord held up its handcuff, firing a series of Confinement Bands at Joopy, capturing him and severely restricting his movement. "What?! I... I can't move! This is impossible! I'm supposed to be winning!"

-"We've got a judgment for you, Joopy! You've been found to be guilty of crimes against the citizens of Venture Capital. Your punishment: Death!"-

"What?! No! I just wanted to have a little fun!"

The Megazord aimed its pistol at Joopy and charged up a blast. -"Five! Four! Three! Two! One!"- The Megazord fired at Joopy, destroying him. The Confinement Bands that were surrounding him disappeared before hitting the ground.

~*~

"Whoo! We did it!"

~*~

"Curses!" Orion exclaimed. "Well, time to split!"

~*~

The Q-Rex Megazord transformed into its flight mode and took off, disappearing into the atmosphere. Soon thereafter, another vessel entered the atmosphere and zoomed toward the Megazord.

~*~

"Guys, look!" Kaori said, motioning toward the incoming vessel. "What's that?"

-"Power Rangers, can you hear me?"- A female voice asked over a crackly radio.

"We can hear you, but who are you?" Kaori responded.

-"Meet me on the ground. I'll explain what's going on."-

"Should we?" Gabriela asked.

"She sounds cute. I say we do it," Phoenix replied.

"Okay, but be careful, everyone. This could be an elaborate trap," Riley spoke.

~*~

Down on the ground, the Rangers approached the landed vessel, which opened up to reveal a young woman dressed in black and yellow clothing. "So, trains, huh? That's your theme?"

The Rangers removed their helmets. Riley stepped forward. "We are TQG's Power Rangers. Who are you?"

Gia pulled out her Gosei Morpher and inserted her Yellow Ranger card, transforming into the Yellow Megaforce Ranger. "I'm the Yellow Megaforce Ranger, from the city of Harwood County on Earth." She removed her helmet. "That Silver Ranger who helped you is a teammate of mine, Orion."

"He's really powerful," Chase commented, "but why is he coming to help us?"

"I'm not so sure that he is. You see, we were on his home planet - Andresia - rebuilding houses for his people to come back to, when we were attacked by several monsters that claimed to be working for a being named Xityrant. Do you know of him?"

"Xityrant's bad news," Gabriela commented.

"I wondered where he's been, and who that weird clown was that was sending monsters after us."

"Well, he's been on Andresia. We fought his new monsters, but they overpowered us, taking Orion and leaving me for dead. Fortunately, I survived and was able to commandeer Orion's transport ship to follow him. The fact that he was helping you... I wouldn't be so sure that he's got good intentions."

"What do you mean?" Kaori asked.

"I have a feeling that he's been brainwashed, but I can't be sure. Just keep an eye on him."

"He split right after we took out Joopy McCorgan," Riley explained. "He did help us defeat his last monster."

"Hm..." Gia pondered what Riley said. "I don't like it. Didn't you think it was too convenient that he showed up out of nowhere and took out a monster?"

"Now that you mention it, he did seem a little gruff," Chase commented.

"If he was supposed to infiltrate your ranks, that Xityrant's not going to be pleased that he split."

-"Rangers! Rangers, come in!"- Kendrix's voice boomed over the Rangers' morphers.

"You'd better answer that."

"Thanks," Riley said, raising his morpher to his face level. "Go for Riley."

-"That girl you're talking to... She checks out. Invite her back to the base. I'd like to gather some intel about Xityrant's apparent new plans."-

"Will do." Riley looked at Gia. "Well, you heard the lady. Shall we escort you to our base?"

"Why don't I..." Gia walked back to Orion's transport ship and hit it a couple of times. "...Escort you all back to the base? It's not exactly first-class accommodations, but it's pretty fast!"

The Rangers looked at each other and nodded. "Sure!"

"Brandon," Gabriela asked into her morpher, "can you return the Zords to the station?"

-"You got it!"-

"Thanks!" The Rangers followed Gia into Orion's transport ship.

~*~

Meanwhile, up on the Pyramid Ship, Orion was walking through the halls, when he ran into Expulsar. "Get out of my way, you freak!"

"Xityrant isn't going to like that you ran away from the battle like that. You were SUPPOSED to get on the Rangers' good side, not one-up them and split!"

"Listen!" Orion shoved Expulsar against a wall and stood really close to him. "I have my own plan on how to infiltrate those weak little Rangers. You can tell Xityrant that he can bring any problems he has with that up to me. Understood?" Expulsar nodded. "Good." Orion backed away. "Now, if you'll excuse me..." He walked off.

Expulsar watched him walk away. "Oh, you have your own plan, do you? Master Xityrant isn't going to be too fond of that. Perhaps I'll just let him know." He turned to walk away, when he bumped into Seismodeluder. "Excuse me."

"What's going on?"

"That little punk, Orion, thinks he'll get the Rangers' trust on his own terms. I'm going to let Master Xityrant know of his dissention!"

"Do you really think that's wise? Master Xityrant strikes me as the kind of leader that doesn't like dissention in the ranks."

"Your point?"

"Wasn't sending Orion down with a plan YOUR responsibility?"

"Yes..."

"And, since he didn't follow the given orders, will HE get into trouble?"

"...No."

"Exactly! You'll be the one who's shown the door!"

"The pink one's right," Entoborg added, approaching the two of them from the opposite end of the hall. "Trust me: I've seen warriors get thrown out for failing to defeat the Rangers even once. Xityrant doesn't like failure of any kind."

"Well, he's going to find out about this, sooner or later," Expulsar said. "Shouldn't we tell him now?"

"No. Let Orion fail on his own. I'm sure Master Xityrant was watching the battle and already knows what happened."

~*~

Orion entered the Prison Chamber and was met by a waiting Xityrant. "Hello... *Boy*. Back so soon?"

"What do YOU want?"

"I, uh, notice that you don't seem to be in the Rangers' good graces." He approached Orion, putting an arm around him and leaning in close to his ear. "What happened?"

Orion shoved him away. "I did what you wanted and defeated that alien invader."

"Then, why did you flee the battle as soon as it was over?"

"Those pitiful excuses for Rangers are pathetic and not worth my time."

"But, I sent you down there with orders to infiltrate their base and find out if they had any secret projects going on."

"I will!"

"When?"

"In time!"

Xityrant fired a sword beam at Orion, narrowly missing him. "That's not a good enough answer, boy!" He flew across the room and landed right in front of Orion, grabbing him by the shirt and pulling him in closely. "Now, I'll give you tonight to think about what you did. Tomorrow, I expect you to go back down there and get in good with those candy-colored misfits, or else! Understood?"

Orion gulped. "Un-understood..."

"Good." Xityrant released Orion, who fell to the ground, gasping for air. He smiled. "I'm glad we had this talk. Ta-ta!" He teleported away.

Orion struggled to get back up. "I don't know who's worse: Xityrant or Vrak."

~*~

TO BE CONTINUED!
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