Disclaimer: PokéRangers is a not-for-profit crossover fanart series I started back in 2017 on Instagram. For the full disclaimer or to read a summary of the early days of this fan series, please read “The Story Thus Far”. Story and all original added characters (Vinnie, Macho, etc) are my own.
“Now… start at the beginning” Zekks encouraged as the five began to recount everything they’d been through: their victories, their losses and how they ended up in this strange world. “Fascinating” Zekks muttered as they finished
“FORGIVE MACHO FOR MISJUDGING YOU!!!!!!!” Macho cried out as he tightly hugged the former Luxray Ranger.
“Yes, you’re forgiven” the former Luxray Ranger gasped “Now please put me down!”
The former Gyarados Ranger smiled at this exchange before turning back to Zekks. “Okay, your turn. What is this place? And why do you look like someone we know?”
Zekks leaned back in his chair, “Do you believe in multiverse?”
“You mean the theory that there’s parallel universes where certain events did or didn’t happen?” the former Moltres Ranger asked.
“Precisely!” Macho chimed in. “You see, there are multiple universes out there. Not just yours and Macho’s. In fact, Zekks has been to multiple!”
Zekks smiled to himself as if remembering simpler times. “He’s right. And from what you’re telling me – and from what I’m seeing…“ he gestured to all of them before continuing “it seems like your world wasn’t that different from ours. In fact, in all my travels, I’ve yet to see such striking similarities. I suppose spatially speaking, our universes are neighbors; but I digress…” he tried to get back on track. “Anyway, our worlds were once alike, but somewhere along the way things changed… and then… they got distorted… You see, about two years ago, a great evil attacked this world. It came without warning. Corrupting and destroying everything it could get its hands on. I..” Zekks paused as if he had to choose the next word very carefully ”… fought against it for some time. But one day the tide turned against the forces of good. What you see now is what’s left of this world. You may have only seen a small portion, but I assure you it gets weirder. Gravity fluctuations, random weather phenomena, spacial convergence, the very laws of nature itself have been turned upside down!” Everyone was silent as they let the gravity of Zekk’s words sink in. “Any other questions?” he offered.
After a moment, the former Rapidash Ranger finally spoke up. “Why was Vinnie so scared of us earlier? And why was Macho so distrustful?” This was the longest silence yet.
Zekks, Macho and Vinnie all looked at each other with unease. “I was afraid you’d ask that….” Zekks admitted before placing his hand on the bridge of his nose.
“It really is impressive how much you’re like them – haunting really. And yet, they’re nothing like you.” Zekks began as he once again leaned back into his chair and stared at the cave ceiling. “The PokeRangers of this dimension weren’t… too concerned with being heroes. In fact, they didn’t even know of the term ‘PokeRangers’ until they heard it from me. They were more publicity seekers. More concerned with themselves than anything. Maybe that’s why it was so easy for them to be turned. Two years ago, at the height of a decisive battle, they turned their backs on us… then on each other, and finally on humanity itself. They embraced the darkness and since then have not only become monsters in every sense of the term, but have also continued to hunt for us… to finish the job they started on that day.” Zekks finished.
“That is why young Vintavius – I mean Vinnie – was so scared of you 5 initially.” Macho began. “And why Macho had to beat the stuffing out of you”.
“Well we were just getting over dying of hunger and thirst, so it wasn’t really a fair fight” the former Luxray Ranger correct.
“Care to go again?” Macho asked almost too happily.
“NO!” Everyone except Macho responded almost instantaneously. They looked at each other and then broke out laughing.
As the laughter subsided, Vinnie finally spoke up. “But with you five here, maybe we can fix everything!” Vinnie offered as the 8 began to feel more comfortable around one another.
“Huzzah! A chance to strike back at evil – and of course get you five back home.” Macho added.
“Alternate universes, evil version of us… it’s a lot to take in.” the former Gyarados Ranger began. “Plus we’re still without our powers… but if there’s any way we can help, we will.” The others nodded in agreement.
“And again, that way home would be nice too.” the former Rapidash Ranger said before the former Moltres Ranger elbowed him in the ribs “… no offense” he added
“None taken” Zekks assured. He had been oddly quiet through most of these exchanges and it looked as though he was about to say something, but just then a loud siren rang throughout the cave.
“Oh no, oh no, oh on” Vinnie screamed as he scurried out of the room.
“We should follow” Macho instructed.
The Rangers quickly left Zekks’ office and followed Macho into one of the other rooms, where they found Vinnie sitting at a large computer frantically hitting buttons with his little paws. Just then, a blurry image began to appear on one of the monitors.
“Uh guys, they’re back…. All of them” the former Luxray Ranger said as he saw some familiar shapes appear on screen.”
“UGH, why is the reception all blurry? I just fixed the sensors before!” Vinnie cried before slamming his little head on the keyboard in defeat.
The former Silvally Ranger leaned in to get a better look at the image on screen “Hold up, we fought 10 of those tentacle things in our world and 5 of those skulls just before. Now there’s barely 7 altogether… Why send a smaller group of monsters we’ve already defeated at greater numbers.” the former Silvally Ranger explained.
“Ehh, I think you’re over-analyzing. But additional question…” the former Rapidash Ranger began as he pointed to one of the other screens. “What is this timer counting down for?”
“Huh?” Vinnie picked his head up to look “That’s no timer, that a thermom…” Vinnie’s eyes focused “HOW IS IT BELOW FREEZING OUTSIDE?!?!?!” he screamed in disbelief
“Is this some of that crazy weather Zekks mentioned before?” the former Gyarados Ranger asked
“No” Macho corrected as he took a step back. “The girl is right. This doesn’t add up, and judging by the severe drop in temperature outside, these 7 annoyances are not what we should be afraid of…” Macho paused as another – much larger – imaged clicked onto the screen. “He is….”
“Wait a second, is that…..” the former Luxray Ranger began, unable to finish the sentence.
“Yes.” Macho said solemnly. “That is your doppelganger…. Or at least what’s left of him”
“Are you okay?” the former Moltres Ranger asked
“It’s …. just a lot to take in.” He finally muttered.
“And there’ll be time take it in later” Zekks assured as he slowly made his way into Vinnie’s lab carrying a strange box in one hand. “He doesn’t know where we are yet; but he’ll freeze this whole canyon over to find out.” The room was silent for a moment before Zekks continued. “Vinnie, monitor the situation. Macho, can you buy us some time?”
“Gladly!” Macho proclaimed as he made his way out of the room. Vinnie nodded in agreement as well before getting back to work on the computer.
“As for you five”, Zekks turned towards the others as he opened the box, “these are for you.”
“Wait, are those?” the former Moltres Ranger asked.
“Indeed they are” Zekks replied. “They were entrusted to me on one of my past adventures. To find them worthy users. I know they can never replace the bonds you had with your old spirits, but I hope you can make them your own all the same.”
“And you’re just giving them to us? Even though we still kind of just met?” The Rapidash inquired.
Zekks chuckled. “I’ve heard your stories and the mere fact you ask that instead of just taking them proves that you 5 are worthy. Besides, there may never be another chance to find these spirits a home. So please, take these remaining power badges. And fight for good once more!”
The five looked at each other and nodded. They knew what they had to do. They each took one final look at their muted power badges. “We’ll return for you” the five promised before placing them into their pockets. They then turned back towards the box Zekks was holding and stretched their hands out.
The room was bathed in a blinding flash of light. “Do it Rangers.” Zekks encouraged “Grasp your futures and become a new path for light to shine upon!” As the light faded, their new forms came into view.
“I’m a … frog? OH YEAH! I’m a Frog!” the new Greninja Ranger exclaimed. “That’s right ladies and gents, one kiss and your handsome prince has arrived. Hoppin’ over here, hoppin’ over there! Man this is so cool!” He was clearly very excited about this change as he hopped around the room.
It was hard to believe that this giddy young man was the same one that only moments ago was completely shell-shocked at the sight of his monstrous doppelganger. “And what do you think of your new powers?” Zekks asked as he turned toward the former Moltres Ranger.”
“The color change might take some getting used to… “ the new Mandibuzz Ranger began. “I don’t know, I just don’t feel like these powers are very…. me”
“Again…” Zekks began “…I know these can’t replace the bonds you had with your old spirits. But I’m glad you’re giving them a chance. Who knows, maybe you and your new spirit can teach each other something.”
The Mandibuzz ranger smirked behind her helmet. “Never thought of it like that.” She placed her hand over hear chest “Sorry for comparing you to my old spirit Mandibuzz, but I’m here to listen… and hope I’m a worthy partner for you as well”.
Zekks smiled at how genuine she was.
The Mandibuzz Ranger then turned towards the former Rapidash Ranger. “So how’d….” It’s a good thing she was wearing a helmet. Otherwise everyone would have seen her jaw drop when she saw his new look.
“I feel like I’m not cool enough for this look” the new Houndoom Ranger mused
“I feel like I’m not cool enough to stand next to you…” the Greninja Ranger added as the two admired their new suits.
The Mandibuzz Ranger finally composed herself and smiled. “Like Zekks said, maybe these new powers will teach us something about ourselves.”
The Houndoom Ranger smiled back and nodded. “At least we’re in this together”
“And in matching colors….” the Greninja Ranger teased. Both Rangers blushed as the Greninja Ranger simply smirked and turned towards the former Silvally Ranger. “Speaking of colors, what about…. woah, what’s wrong?”
“I’m a fluffy bear…” the new Bewear Ranger uttered in a very somber tone
“Yeah, because you’re cute like a teddy bear!” The Greninja Ranger said in a reassuring manner, but the Bewear Ranger simply glared at him menacingly. “And because like a real bear, you’ll totally rip my arms off and beat me with them….?” he quickly offered instead.
The Bewear Ranger glared at him for a few more seconds before finally uttering “…. better”.
Zekks couldn’t help but chuckle at this exchange. “You all have quite the team dynamic” he mused. “Though a team is only as good as their leader” he reminded as he turned towards the former Gyarados Ranger. “How are you finding your new powers?”
The new Infernape Ranger looked at his hands for a moment. “It’s strange… with both the Tyrantrum and Red Gyarados powers, I felt such an overwhelming rage that I always had to focus myself. But now…. There’s nothing but clarity.”
The Rangers had often discussed how controlling their powers felt, so they knew how much of a strain their leader had been under. Though despite the strain, he never complained or took out his frustrations on the others. He knew he had to master those powers for his team, and – though he never asked – they supported him with each step. This new spirit might not have the raw power of his old ones, but at least it gave him peace.
Seeing how they all interacted with each other, Zekks knew he had chosen wisely with these five. Though his mind couldn’t help but wander. If only the PokeRangers of this world had been like them: responsible… supportive…. friends. Had his thoughts dwelled on this any longer, he might have teared up; but the mood was broken by Vinnie’s announcement.
“Uhhhhhh… you five better get out there.” Vinnie said nervously. “Macho’s not doing so hot”.
“It’s fine.” Macho said as he struggled to get himself free. “This is probably just parallel-universal karma for beating up your doppelganger earlier”
“Doppelganger…?” the creature uttered
“Uh oh” Macho realized he said something he shouldn’t have. “Did Macho say doppelganger?” he quickly retracted “Macho meant to say…. uhhh….” he thought for a moment. “Say, you wouldn’t happen to know a word that rhymes with doppelganger would you?” he jested
The huge beast slammed Macho into the mountainside repeatedly, but Macho still struggled to free himself. “Tell me what you know and the pain stops.” the beast taunted.
“Betraying friends just to save oneself. Sorry…” Macho began as he looked the beast in the eyes “…but we can’t all be as pathetic as you.”
“Aww, is the babysitter finally finding his fight?” The beast raised Macho into the air. “Too little, too late” he uttered as he picked up his axe for one final blow.
“Hey ugly… put him down!” the Rangers commanded, but they didn’t wait for a response. Before the beast knew what happened, he felt a sharp pain in his arm as the Greninja Ranger struck. As it flailed its arm in pain, Macho fell from his grip and was scooped up by the Houndoom Ranger in the blink of an eye.
“I THINK I softened him up for you five…” Macho said in a dazed and confused voice.
“You did great” the Houndoom Ranger assured as he rested Macho just inside the entrance to the cave system. “We’ll take it from here”
The beast slowly approached the rest of the group. Those voices… they sounded… familiar. “Doppelgangers…” It uttered. “So this is what he meant. Well originals or not, I’ll still take pleasure in….” just then he stopped as his eyes focused on the Greninja Ranger who was stepping forward to meet him as well. “It’s…. me…” the beast uttered in a confused voice as the two shared a brief moment of silence and introspection.
Just then, the beast spit on the Greninja Ranger. “It kills me that I ever looked so puny.” He growled in disgust.
The Greninja Ranger wiped his helmet off “And it kills me that I thought ‘overgrown dust bunny’ was a good look; but here we are…”
“Funny.” it offered. “Let’s see if your bones crack as easily as your jokes”
The Greninja Ranger tilted his head in shock “…Well that went 0 to dark REAL fast”
“Allow me to introduce myself”, he began. “I am Xammoth and I am everything you could have been; but no” he continued “It seems you’re content with being the joke of the group. The one no one takes seriously.”
The Greninja Ranger paused after hearing what his doppelganger said. He wasn’t sure if these accusations upset him or made him feel sorry for his counterpart. “Dude, I don’t have time to worry about what others think of me. The only thing you’re showing me right now, is that bitterness is a real ugly color on me.”
“You DARE belittle my power? I AM POWER!” Xammoth said as he began to grow. “And I will crush you beneath my might.”
As Xammoth grew in size, so did the blizzard. The wind, the ice. If they didn’t act fast, this entire canyon would be frozen over just as Zekks predicted. Just then, a voice echoed through their helmets. “I trust you all know what to do next?” Zekks asked
“Yeah” the Infernape Ranger replied. “Not our first rodeo”. He then turned to place his hand on the Greninja Ranger’s shoulder. “Feel free to take the lead on this one”.
This act seemed to strike a chord for Xammoth, but the Greninja Ranger just smiled and made the call. “Let’s do it team!”
“Senkaku Zords, appear!”
A moment passed, nothing. Was something not working? Were the Zords already frozen? Vinnie started to panic as he looked on through the monitors. “Patience” Zekks assured him. “They got this.”
“HA!” Xammoth laughed. “You all acted so tough, but none are tougher than…” he looked back towards where the five were standing, but they were gone. Did they retreat under the cover of the blizzard? It didn’t matter, he thought. Everything would be frozen over soon…
“ARGGHHHHHHH” he screamed in agony as something cut into his back. As Xammoth screamed in agony, something lept out from behind him.
“You know, for someone who goes on and on about his power, you have a real nasty blind spot” The Greninja Ranger mocked as he and his new Zord landed in front of Xammoth. “Greninja Zord, reporting for duty.”
“Twice…” Xammoth began enraged “You struck me twice and you have the audacity to stand before me?”
“Of course. Because unlike you, I have someone to watch my back” the Greninja Ranger replied as dozens of objects sparked in the air behind him.
Before Xammoth could react, a barrage of missiles struck all around him forcing him backwards.
“Must you always be so confident? What if I had missed?” the Mandibuzz Ranger asked the Greninja Ranger.
“You? Miss? HA! Please.” he replied as another large object flew overhead
“Mandibuzz Zord, locked on for another barrage.”
“You think I’d give you the chance?” Xammoth quickly threatened as he prepared to throw his massive axe at the Mandibuzz Zord. Though as he went to fling his arm forward, something wrapped around his leg and pulled. In an instant Xammoth was on the ground as something uncoiled from his leg and retracted onto one of the nearby ledges where a third large object crouched.
“Thanks for the save.” the Mandibuzz Ranger called out.
“Always.” The Houndoom Ranger smiled. “Houndoom Zord, tying up loose ends.”
“Dude, you have a badass suit now. You need better puns than that!” the Greninja Ranger joked
“Sorry, it just slipped out” the Houndoom Ranger laughed.
“Are you finished?” Xammoth asked even angrier than before as he started to get up. “Because I am done -” but before he could finish his sentence, another massive figure rammed into his side, knocking him over once more.
“What?” the Bewear Ranger began. “You said you were done.” She smiled as the Bewear Zord scrapped the ground with its claws ready to charge again.“Bewear Zord, online”
“Oh yah” the Greninja Ranger began. “Beware the Be-!”
“DON’T finish that pun!” the Bewear Ranger interjected.
“Wow, and you called Houndoom’s pun bad” the Mandibuzz Ranger mocked.
Xammoth wasn’t sure how, but these alternate reality versions of his former teammates actually annoyed him more than his former teammates. “I’ve had enough!” he yelled as he went to throw a punch at the Bewear zord.
“Good, then we’re all in agreement.” the Infernape Ranger replied as something leapt in front of the Bewear Zord and redirected Xammoth’s punch into the wall. “Infernape Zord, ready for action.” he called as he jumped back to join the other four in formation.
Xammoth ripped his fist out of the mountain side and then paused for a moment. What was he going to do? After about a minute, he looked up and gave the five a devious smirk before driving his left arm into the same mountain. The shockwave of this strike was so powerful that it actually made the entire mountain to the right of them collapse from the sheer force. WAIT! Which mountainside was that again? Was that where the secret base was? It was so hard to tell from this angle where the hideout was. The Rangers’ hearts skipped a beat before they realized the entrance to the hideout was a couple hundred yards behind them.
Vinnie’s little voice came over the intercom. “As much as I love geeking out over you five right now…. can you please not let him do that again.” he said in a frightened voice.
“Vinnie’s right.” the Bewear Ranger added. “We can out-maneuver this clown all day….” she looked towards the Greninja Ranger “…no offense.”
“None taken.” the Greninja Ranger assured. “But you’re right. If we keep avoiding and deflecting his attacks, we’ll end up destroying the entire canyon – and Vinnie, Macho and Zekks along with it – and I think other me just realized that.”
“I’m sure your little friends are in this canyon somewhere.” Xammoth began “So now we’re going to play a different game Rangers. Protect yourselves…. OR OTHERS?” he yelled as he charged the five.
The Rangers didn’t have to say a word. Each came to the same conclusion. As the towering Xammoth charged, the Bewear Zord braced for impact as the Infernape Zord and Greninja Zords rushed to support her on both sides. But it wasn’t enough. The impact dealt each of the Zords heavy damage as the behemoth continued to charge, now pushing the three along with it.
The Houndoom and Mandibuzz Zords swiftly moved along each ridge towards the oncoming behemoth. The Houndoom Zord once again lasso’ d its tail as the Mandibuzz Zord shot it’s two grappling chains at the beast. They tried to tow the beast, but its momentum was so overwhelming it dragged the two Zords back with the others. The mountain range behind them was drawing closer by the second, but suddenly, they began to slow the beast. This was their chance as each of the Rangers put everything they had into their Zords for one final push.
The five Zords had managed to toss Xammoth back, but at a heavy cost. Each Zord took severe damage from the encounter, but Xammoth just got back up with a smile on his face. “That was fun. Care to go again?” He was enjoying this.
“Guys, we can’t handle another one of those.” the Houndoom Ranger admitted.
“We have to try something else” the Mandibuzz Ranger advised.
“It worked for our last two sets of Zords, let’s hope we can go 3 for 3!” the Greninja Ranger suggested.
“Then let’s do it quickly before he starts again.” the Bewear Ranger encouraged.
“Let’s go team!” Infernape Ranger called.
“Senkaku Fusion!” they called out as the Zords began Megazord formation “Senkaku Megazord, Battle Ready!”
“I love it when a Megazord comes together.” the Houndoom Ranger joked as he looked towards the Greninja Ranger; but the usually light-hearted Ranger was uncharacteristically cold.
Xammoth smiled as he eyed his new opponent. “Judging by your display before, I take it you REALLY don’t want anything happening to that mountain behind you… and now you’ve given me a bigger target”. He smiled as he picked up his massive battle axe. “You know the game Rangers” he called as he once again began to charge the five.
As the massive behemoth barreled towards the megazord, the Infernape Ranger looked towards the Greninja Ranger. “Are you sur – “.
“Yes” the Greninja Ranger replied in a cold voice before the Infernape Ranger could even finish. “Striker Mode!” he called out as the two blades from the Greninja Zord reappeared on the Megazord’s left arm.
The Senkaku Megazord shot towards Xammoth and delivered a critical slash with its arm blade, slicing clean through one of Xammoth’s tusks and into its abdomen… but not before Xammoth’s axe snapped part of the Megazord’s arm blade and then buried itself into the Megazord’s side.
The next few seconds felt like an eternity as both combatants stood back-to-back hunched over. The Rangers were exhausted, but the Greninja Ranger was still full of anger and adrenaline… at least, until he heard a single solemn word uttered. “Why”
“Why… Why did I have to give up everything…. just to lose again?” Xammoth asked as he clutched his side. A moment passed. “ANSWER ME OLD MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Xammoth finally screamed right before he collapsed in an explosion.
The adrenaline was gone. The anger was gone. While the other Rangers all breathed a sigh of relief, the Greninja Ranger began to tear up. It hit him all at once. That some version of him could ever become so twisted. That some version of him could ever play with people’s lives like that. That despite all the evil acts his counterpart committed… he still recognized the hopelessness in his doppelganger’s voice right there. He knew that feeling.
Was he too rash? Could he have gotten through to the other him? Did he basically just give up on himself? Now he wasn’t sure if he was crying for himself, his doppelganger or the fact that he was the one that made the call to end it.
The battle was over. Macho was fully recovered, Vinnie began to run diagnostics on the Zords and the Rangers started to settle into their new living arrangements. There were smiles, jokes and even the occasional awkwardness; but one Ranger was noticeably absent from all of it. The Greninja Ranger.
The Greninja Ranger sat by himself atop one of the cliffs. He had been there by himself for a few hours until he was startled by a familiar voice.
“You know, I was thinking” The Infernape Ranger began as he sat down next to his friend. “You’ve always been the ‘arms’ of our Megazords; but the ‘legs’ are a much better fit for you.”
The Greninja Ranger was silent for a moment until he finally turned to ask “Is that you complimenting my sexy calves”. He smirked, starting to seem a bit back to normal.
“Sure” the Infernape Ranger laughed. “…but also, because you carry us. Good times or bad, you’re the one that helps us move forward.” He let those words sink in for a moment before continuing. “I don’t know what happened in Xammoth’s past; but I hope you know how much we value you. And that we’re always here for you, the way you’re here for us.”
“I do…. but it’s nice to hear it too.” The Greninja Ranger smiled. “Thanks man.”