I'll add them all to this blog... eventually.
Episode 9: Rise, Crimson Ranger!
It is said that time passes much, much slower in a dream than in physical reality. Thus, even though it might have seemed like several hours had already passed to Pete Robinson who was currently unconscious inside Wrath’s closed space, the truth is that he had simply been asleep for a few short moments – no more than a minute ever since Miss Vanity knocked him unconscious by clobbering him from behind as he was engaged in battle with Wrath.
As Pete gradually regained consciousness, he felt as if he had been having a really incomprehensible dream about a super sentai team and a zombie-making nebula that some celestial author thought was actually funny. At that moment, Pete remembered a scene from some feminist movie that he’d seen while randomly channel surfing. It was all about a wife killing her husband for stalking and physical abuse that also doubles as an advertising stint for Krav Maga martial arts. In any case, he remembered the instructor’s tip for staying awake in case you get hit and are on the verge of unconsciousness.
“Hold on to his voice.”
It was a pretty ridiculous proposal to be sure and there was no guarantee that it would actually work, but Pete decided to go along with it anyway since he was in danger of lapsing into unconsciousness again. He focused all his energy into listening and gradually, faint voices began to ring in his head.
“WAKE UP!” A very loud and annoyingly cute female voice suddenly jolted him back to full consciousness.
“Gaaah! You didn’t have to shout so loud, Giselle. This is seriously gonna give a major migraine later.”
“I don’t think you should blame me for that part, Pete. After all, it was your little girlfriend who whacked you on the head from behind.” Giselle retorted.
“Sigh… you’re right. Anyway, shut up for a bit and let’s listen and try to assess the situation. Looks like I haven’t been unconscious for too long, at least.”
Pete opened his eyes carefully and saw that Miss Vanity and Wrath were talking to each other only a few feet away from where he was lying. They hadn’t realized that he was already awake.
Pete strained his hearing and listened intently while still pretending to be unconscious. He had correctly deduced that he’d fainted for only a few brief moments since his fight with Wrath inside the closed space in the Arcade.
“Now then, Miss Vanity. It’s time for you to prove your allegiance to me! Take the Red One Changer from the Crimson Ranger’s unconscious body and present it to me.”
“Oh surely, Wrath dah-link. I must say, I am insulted that you would doubt where my loyalties lie when I just saved your derriere from yonder Crimson Ranger.”
“Uh oh… this is bad, Pete. If someone like Wrath takes possession of the Red One Changer, he’ll be able to warp the very fabric of reality itself and not just create closed spaces... and then he’ll doom everyone into…”
“I know, I know, Giselle. He’ll doom everyone into a 1984-like doublethink existence because he’s an LGBT discriminator, animal rights activist and all that… I understand the gravity of the situation. Look, I’ll just wait for Miss Vanity to get a little bit closer, then I’ll grab her arm and perform an awesome kara throw and then maybe I can take down the two of them by surprise with Crimson Pwnage Speed Blitz.”
“That’s a pretty sound plan except for the kara throw part, Pete. I don’t think that’s a real martial arts move, y’know.”
“Shh… here she comes. I can smell the scent of her fashionably expensive perfume getting stronger.”
“… you’re gauging her distance based on the smell of her perfume?”
“What are you, a friggin bloodhound?”
“I have lots of experience sniffing the fresh plastic from my Hatsune Miku figures. Not to mention my Hinagiku and Nagi dakimakura covers.”
“Ugh… I shouldn’t have asked, you lolicon.”
Miss Vanity sashayed past Wrath and elegantly walked towards the Crimson Ranger’s fallen body. She leaned over and stretched her hands out towards Pete’s belt where the Red One Changer automatically clasps onto whenever Pete transforms into the Crimson Ranger. However, just as she was about to take the mystical object from Pete’s Belt, she felt something pushing up against her chest which made her cheeks turn beet-red.
“Ack! You pervert! How dare you defile my exquisitely attired body!?”
And sure enough, Pete’s hands were pressed up quite firmly against Miss Vanity’s breasts – basically groping her. Apparently, you should really watch where you’re hands are going when attempting to grab someone’s arm and perform some ridiculous martial arts throw that doesn’t exist.
“Pete, quick! Cancel into a throw for a true kara!” Giselle Orchardwither urged Pete with an annoyingly cute voice.
“Great, that’s a huge help, Giselle.” Pete said sarcastically as he felt himself being raised up into the air.
Unfortunately, reality did not work like in video games. Miss Vanity picked up the Crimson Ranger’s limp body from the ground and raised him into the air by his neck. She then proceeded to slap him several times across the cheek through his thick helmet which caused sparks to fly out everywhere.
“You… dirty… pervert!”
With one last giant slap, she sent the Crimson Ranger flying several feet before landing on the ground and rolling over multiple times before crashing into a Super Street Fighter IV AE arcade machine – destroying the machine’s HD LED screen in the process.
Pete nonchalantly dragged himself away from the Arcade machine’s wrecked screen and dusted himself off. He then thrust out his left palm in front of him while curling his other hand into a fist and raising it just slightly above his head and pointing towards his adversaries. He knew that a fight could not be avoided now if he wanted to leave this place with his life AND with the Red One Changer still in his possession.
“Hmph! So I see you’ve still got some fight left in you, Crimson Ranger. Fine then, I’ll entertain myself with you for a while.” Wrath said coldly.
“Oh, so that’s how it is. Well then, I shall leave you two boys to settle your differences like barbarians and beat each other silly. I for one cannot stand the indignity which the Crimson Ranger has just inflicted upon my person; therefore, I am leaving – goodbye!”
With that, Miss Vanity took out her sword and slashed the air several times. This caused a large door-like panel to fall off from the space wherein she had cut through with her sword – as if she’d cut through reality itself. It was pretty easy to see since Wrath’s closed space was a monochromatic green, but the area where the panel had fallen off was not – even though it looked exactly the same otherwise.
The fashionable masked beauty then stepped into the portal that she’d made and swiftly disappeared from the closed space. The panel of reality that she’d cut then slowly faded back into monochromatic green.
“Tsk. I’ll never understand women no matter how many worlds I conquer… now then, Crimson Ranger, or should I say, Pete Robinson? Shall we continue where we left off?”
Pete clenched his fist tight and nodded.
“Bring it, Wrath!”
“Round-o 2! Get Raidy! Fight-o!” Giselle Orchardwither shouted in an annoyingly cute voice with an obviously fake Japanese accent from inside Pete’s head.
Pete was fairly confident in his chances now. After all, he’d already destroyed Wrath’s ultimate weapon – the giant headphones that allowed him to tune out reality.
To his surprise however, instead of taking the initiative, Wrath simply crossed his arms and stared straight at the Crimson Ranger – or at least it looked that way since it was pretty hard to tell because Wrath was wearing a glorified motorcycle helmet just like Pete.
Time seemed to slow down as Pete pondered his options in his mind. Escape wasn’t probable since the entire arcade was effectively a closed space or some kind of reality marble created by Wrath. Even if he defeated Wrath, there was no guarantee that the closed space would disappear and that he would safely be transported back to reality. Miss Vanity seemed to have the ability to enter and exit this place on a whim – but she’s gone now and it was unlikely that she’d be back. Also, it wasn’t an ability that Pete could possibly replicate with the Crimson Ranger’s offense-based capabilities. This left Pete with only one real option: since Wrath created this closed space, he must have some way to get out of it even without Miss Vanity’s help; therefore, all that Pete needed to do was beat the stuffing out of his enemy and make him retract the closed space.
There was also the coward’s way out which was to admit defeat and beg Wrath to let him out in exchange for the Red One Changer.
“Don’t even think about it, buster!”
But an annoyingly cute voice inside Pete’s head quickly ruled out that option.
“Okay, Pete. Go get him. Crimson Pwnage Speed Blitz now!”
“What am I to you, Giselle? Some kind of Pokemon… still, that’s not a bad idea… here I go! Crimson Pwnage Speed Blitz!”
In the fraction of the time that it takes to blink an eye, Pete accelerated towards Wrath at a speed that was just 20% slower than the speed of light. The Crimson Ranger’s body glowed with a bright red aura as he collided with Wrath.
Sparks flew everywhere from the impact and when the smoke and debris had cleared, it was Wrath who was standing firmly in place with a huge crater that was about 10 meters on the floor around him created by Pete’s Crimson Pwnage Speed Blitz attack.
Pete was lying flat on his back just outside the crater. Blood trickled down from his forehead and there was a huge vertical hairline crack on his helmet’s visor even though the helmet itself was supposedly nigh indestructible.
He tried to recollect what had just happened. Wrath’s counter-attack was so simple that it seemed incomprehensible to the Crimson Ranger how his ultimate move could be countered so easily. At the moment of impact, Wrath simply bent down and extended his elbow in front of him making contact with Pete’s helmet – sending him flying backwards.
“To tell you the truth, Crimson Ranger…” Wrath said matter-of-factly.
“I barely used 10% of my true strength. Those giant headphones from earlier were just a gimmick. Do you really think that I could earn the title of ‘conqueror of worlds’ without being strong by myself?”
“What? Pfeh! You’re obviously lying through your teeth, Wrath. I was just about to pwn you hard if Miss Vanity hadn’t come in.”
Pete struggled back to his feet. It was probably just a lucky shot and fortunately, his suit’s force fields absorbed most of the impact of the blow. He went back into a fighting stance.
“Hmm? You’re still going to fight me after that? You must be effed up in the head something fierce, Crimson Ranger.” Wrath taunted him.
“Pfeh! I think you’re bluffing, Wrath. You’re nothing without your giant headphones that tune out reality.” Pete answered back.
“Oh really? Then… I guess I’ll have to show you a little demonstration.”
Wrath crossed his arms and bowed his head. Pete felt a strong aura rising up from out of Wrath’s black spandex-clad body. It almost seemed as if his body mass had increased ten-fold even though Pete could clearly see that Wrath’s body remained the same size. The villain had undoubtedly grown powerful… very powerful!
“Now I’ll show you 20% of my power!”
In a matter of seconds, Wrath dashed all around Pete destroying the walls and pillars of the Arcade with his bare hands – even the pieces of debris that fell from the ceiling all around them were instantly crushed to powder with a dazzling display of hyperspeed martial arts strikes.
In his mind, a part of Pete was thinking that the logical move would be to attack Wrath while he was busy showing off, but another part of him – perhaps the more instinctive part of his brain, told him that to do that right now would be tantamount to suicide. He was clearly no match for Wrath given what he was witnessing right now.
Pete wanted to do something – anything. Even running away seemed like a good idea right now – futile though it might be, but his legs remained glued to the ground. It wasn’t anything noble like the notion that a hero would never run from battle. I t was just that Pete was experiencing the most primal and natural survival instinct in the world: true fear. A fear that can either paralyze you or prime your body for battle by charging it with adrenaline – for Pete’s part, he couldn’t even lift a finger at the moment.
Suddenly, Wrath appeared behind him. When it happened, Pete wasn’t even aware of, but the fact of the matter was that Wrath was clearly behind him right now.
“Pete! Move it! It’s dangerous!” Giselle Orchardwither’s warning came just a split-second too late.
“Is 30% of my power!”
Wrath tapped the Crimson Ranger with the side of his hand on a specific spot at the back of Pete’s neck. It appeared to be a very light tap, but to Pete, it felt like a million tons of concrete had suddenly come crashing down on his neck.
Just like that, Pete Robinson, the Paragon of Justice: Crimson Ranger fell to his knees – unconscious.
“Hmph! I’ll be taking the Red One Changer now. Seriously, this was the famous Paragon of Justice? What a joke.” Hissed Wrath.
A few hours later, Pete woke up inside the arcade – mostly unharmed and no longer in his Crimson Ranger form. Apparently, Wrath didn’t even deem him to be an adversary worth killing. Pete knew it himself. Compared to Wrath’s strength, he was trash.
He tried to get up onto his feet, but his limbs felt sore all over. He probably could have willed himself to get up, but his body wasn’t the only thing that was hurting right now. Pete knew the truth – that he had been soundly defeated by his nemesis and he could never use his Crimson Ranger powers again. Wrath had taken the Red One Changer – the bad guys had won.
Even if Wrath were to conquer the Earth at this very moment, Pete Robinson probably couldn’t have cared less. What made him feel even more dejected was the fact that with all the powers that he had at his disposal, he was still nothing more than a bug, an insect to be squashed and played around with by the conqueror of worlds known as Wrath. What had even made him think that he could stand up to such an entity?
“Pete… get a hold of yourself. It wasn’t your fault. There was no way – not even I could’ve…”
The familiar, annoyingly cute voice of Giselle Orchardwither could do little to ease the emotional pain that Pete was going through.
Pete could not say it – not even to the little girl inside his mind who had been his ally through thick and thin (mostly). He couldn’t say that it wasn’t that he blamed himself for that incident, but that he simply felt bad that he didn’t have the Red One Changer anymore and therefore, he was no longer the Crimson Ranger.
Being the Crimson Ranger had given him power beyond his wildest dreams, but more importantly it had turned him into the protagonist of the superhero movies, video games, manga and anime that he had always idolized and he’d even found some kind of pseudo-love interest in Miss Vanity. He was no longer just Pete, the average, self-sufficient 20-something lackadaisical otaku. No, that had become just a mere disguise for his true identity, the Paragon of Justice: Crimson Ranger. As much as the world needed the Crimson Ranger as its savior from the forces of Wrath, Pete also needed to be the Crimson Ranger to save himself from his own mundane existence … but it was all over now.
This incident was a huge slap to the face from reality itself. The truth is that he couldn’t be the Crimson Ranger any longer and on top of that, the world was probably doomed thanks to his incompetence.
“Rise, Crimson Ranger.” A deep, throaty voice interrupted Pete’s thoughts of self-loathing.
“What?” Pete Robinson turned his head towards the source of the voice.
The familiar stranger’s horned goat’s mask seemed to shine brightly amidst the glare of the arcade’s multi-colored lights. It was Baphomet, the bad-ass normal antihero whom Wrath had knocked unconscious earlier.
“B-Baphomet… are you ok? You got hit pretty hard earlier.”
“Hmph! I’m fine, Crimson Ranger. My helmet is made of an unbreakable metal alloy of my own design. Not even a kamehameha could destroy it. More importantly… are you ok… in the head, I mean.”
“Huh? I’m fine, but you can stop calling me Crimson Ranger now, my name is Pete R…”
Before Pete could finish, Baphomet slapped him across the face with the back of his hand clad in a heavy padded gauntlet.
“OUCH! What did you do that for?”
“You really are messed up in the head aren’t you, Crimson Ranger? Why do you think I’d even care who you were pretending to be? You ARE the Crimson Ranger – and that is that. I have decided so do NOT argue with me… it’s futile.”
“But I’m not the Crimson Ranger anymore. Don’t you see? I don’t even have the Red One Changer with me now. I can’t transform and access the Crimson Ranger’s powers anymore.”
“Hmph! And you call yourself the Paragon of Justice? Is that all that being the Crimson Ranger was to you? Relying on the powers of some mystical object that wasn’t even yours to begin with? Think about it, Crimson Ranger. You’re more than that… I know. I’ve witnessed you in battle countless times from the shadows. You’re more than the powers and the costume. You’re just too oblivious to see that for yourself.”
“I… I just don’t know. All I know is that all my life, I’ve just been Pete Robinson: slightly out-of-shape, lackadaisical, anti-social otaku; nothing more and nothing less. I don’t know what it is that you thought that you saw in me, but…”
“Ouch! You hit me! You hit me with something long and hard!”
“I did NOT! You just copied that line off of some combat butler manga. All I did was slap you across the face again.”
“Then would you please stop doing that?”
“I will not! I will keep hitting you for as long as you continue with this senseless, emo talk, Crimson Ranger.”
“Geez, you’re as stubborn as some annoyingly cute little girl who only exists in my head, aren’t you?”
“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, Crimson Ranger, but I will definitely continue hitting you until I knock some sense into that head of yours.”
Pete was beginning to grow weary of this conversation. He rose and sat down lazily with his legs stretched out on the floor. Also, he’d noticed that Giselle had been uncharacteristically quiet.
“Shut up, Pete. Why don’t you listen to the man. He’s actually making a lot of sense.”
“Sigh… well, I suppose I’m about done with my fifteen minutes of emo mode. Fine, Giselle… but we’re still in big trouble here with the Red One Changer now in Wrath’s possession. Also, I still don’t know much about Viv- er, I mean Miss Vanity and how she fits into the grand scheme of things.”
“Hrmph! I see you seem to have regained some of your spirit now, Crimson Ranger.” Said Wrath.
The masked antihero paused for moment and looked up in an exaggerated manner as if he was pondering something before continuing.
“Listen, Crimson Ranger. You might have lost your powers, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are the hero that the Earth needs right now.”
“Well, that sounds really encouraging and all, Baphomet, but the fact remains that Wrath now has my Red One Changer – and with its powers, he’s all set to conquer the Earth in any number of ways.”
“Hmph! I see, so this Red One Changer is the source of your powers and this Wrath person can somehow use it like a world-destroyer class weapon, am I correct?”
“Yup, though I’m not sure how he would use it exactly, but an annoyingly cute little voice inside my head says that’s about the gist of it.”
“Then the solution is simple, Crimson Ranger. We will simply work together and take back this Red One Changer from the villain known as Wrath.”
“It sounds simple in theory, but I don’t even know where he is at the moment. Furthermore, I’m literally powerless to stop him without the Red One Changer. I couldn’t even get a scratch on him while I was in my transformed state. How do you realistically expect me to take back the Red One Changer from him now?”
“As for locating him, leave that to me, but before that… let me tell you
something, Crimson Ranger.”
“Happy endings don't happen in real life, that's why superheroes in fiction exist… unfortunately, but, even though you or I may not be real superheroes with real superpowers right now, there is no doubt that I am the hero known as Baphomet and that you are…”
“The Crimson Ranger.” Giselle Orchardwither echoed in an annoyingly cute voice from within Pete’s head.”
“Get ready, Crimson Ranger, I will show you what it means to be a superhero with no superpowers!”
To be continued… See you in the next episode!
Next Episode Preview: Pete undergoes a training montage and learns the ultimate move: faster than anyone! Like the wind, like my name! Hayate no Gotoku – wait, wrong series! Meanwhile, Primela Rosenkreuz reveals that she is the head of the prestigious Rosenkreuz family who are actually secretly funding Japan’s amateur doujin industry in a long-term plan to conquer the world with manga. Sheryl Harrison buys a PS Vita in order to play Yatagarasu but finds out that the game has now been moved to Android/iOS devices! Oooh the humanity! All this and more in the next action-filled, hypercharged episode of Paragon of Justice: Crimson Ranger!