Author’s note: The following story starts in 2008, a few months after the end of the Champions Saga.

 

Wind and Thunder: Chapter One

The Power of Three

 

Sixteen-year-old Simon Kaden sat in his classroom while tapping a pencil on his desk and staring at the wall-mounted clock. He had less than five minutes until school let out; less than five minutes until practice. But the last minutes of the day always seemed to drag on the longest.

 

Come on bell, ring already, he thought. He was anxious to start his martial arts practice at the Hayate Way, a school in Angel Grove’s Little Tokyo. The Hayate Way school’s annual tournament with the Ikkazuchi Way was quickly approaching. Simon had missed the previous year’s tournament because of his duties as a Gao Ranger.

 

The Gao Ranger had spent nearly a year fighting the Org, horned creatures born from the sludge of the Earth. Luckily, that time had past. The Org were gone, and it was back to life as normal.

 

As if my life ever passed as normal, he thought to himself as he continued watching the clock. When Simon was 9-years-old, he was caught in the middle of the Power Rangers’ first battle against one of the evil witch Bandora’s monsters, the DoraTitan. Ever since that day, Simon had found himself caught in the middle of good and evil’s endless waltz.

 

The bell finally rang. Simon smiled, grabbed his books, and bolted out the door.

 

***

 

An organic starship drilled through space like a screw as it approached Earth. The ship was covered with segments of dark insectoid armor that seemed to protect a softer hide. A string of armor that looked like a centipede leg wrapped around the ship, giving it a screw-like appearance.

 

On the bridge of the ship stood a young man dressed in black leather garments.

 

Scales were patched along the sides of his tan face. His eyes were solid red and featureless. Lines of small spikes protruded above his eyebrows. His dark hair was tied back into a long  tail.

 

A feral grin spread across his face, revealing rows of razor sharp teeth.

 

“I’ve waited five years for this…” Lothor said as he narrowed his eyes. “It’s going to be one hell of a rematch.”

 

***

 

The Hayate Way rested along the border of Little Tokyo in northwestern Angel Grove. The dojo itself was a piece of classic, Japanese architecture surrounded by open fields. A creek cut through the fields and bordered woodland to the north, leading up towards hills and the mountains north of Angel Grove.

 

Simon scaled up the mountains north of the school. He wore a black uniform trimmed with red. The symbol of the Hayate Way school, an H-shaped throwing star, was over his left chest.

 

With a final push, Simon flipped to the top of a cliff and landed in a crouched position. He spotted a scroll cradled against a rock. An arrogant smile crossed his face as he reached for the scroll. “Cake…”

 

Someone suddenly leapt from the ground behind the stone. The teen, dressed in yellow and black, somersaulted through the air while grabbing the scroll and flipping over Simon.

 

The dark-haired teen turned and flashed a grin at Simon. “Too slow, man.”

 

The teen flipped backward and started to slide down the mountainside, leaving a trail of dust in his wake.

 

“Damn it, Justin,” Simon said through a clenched jaw as he flipped off the cliff to follow.

 

Justin Stewart’s feet slammed against the ground below as he darted back towards the dojo with the scroll in hand. Simon suddenly landed in front of Justin and spun forward with a reverse sidekick. The kick slammed against Justin and sent him crashing backward, losing his grip on the scroll.

 

The scroll arced through the air as Simon jumped up and grabbed it. He twisted through the air before landing, looked at Justin, and smiled. “Who’s too slow now, smart as-”

 

A geyser sprang from a nearby creek as a young woman in blue and black darted across the water. She flipped forward and slammed a flying sidekick that knocked Simon backward, causing the scroll to fly from his hand. The girl jumped into the air and grabbed the scroll.

 

“Gotcha,” she said as she flipped forward and landed.

 

Simon came at her from the side with a jump kick that she dodged. Justin moved in with a tornado kick, but the girl spun beneath the blow and slammed an elbow against his chest.

 

Simon reached forward and tried to wrestle the scroll from her grasp. “Come on, Rachel,” Simon said as he pulled on the scroll. “Give it up.”

 

Justin lunged forward as well, grasping onto the scroll as the three teens tugged for its possession. “Come on,” Justin said as he pulled. “I took it first…”

 

An invisible force suddenly whined through the air and pushed the three teens to the ground. The scroll ripped from their grasp, shot towards a small hill, and landed in the hands of their sensei, Tommy Oliver.

 

Tommy stepped down towards the teens. “How is it you were all able to sneak up on each other?” Tommy asked. “And how was I able to sneak up on you?

 

Simon placed a hand on the back of his head and ran his fingers through his blonde hair. “Actually, it was Justin who-”

 

“No no,” Justin said defensively as he shook his head. “Don’t try to-”

 

“Cut it out guys,” Rachel Gray said. “This isn’t going to-”

 

“Enough,” Tommy said firmly. “You three have got to stop acting this way. You act like this is all just a game. A joke, or a thrill ride. No discipline. No dedication.”

 

“Uh, sensei…” Justin started to say cautiously. “We’re 16. We’re supposed to have fun, ya know?”

 

Tommy sighed and shook his head. “If you’re here just to have fun,” he said, “I suggest you leave. The three of you have more potential than anyone at this school, but you waste that potential. You squander it.”

 

“Come on, Tommy,” Simon said. “We didn’t do that bad.”

 

“Yeah,” Rachel agreed.

 

Tommy started to walk past them. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said. “In the meantime, I suggest you rethink whether or not you really want to be here.”

 

***

 

The organic centipede ship moved closer to Earth as Lothor stood on the bridge. The bridge was nothing more than a wide open floor with several holographic viewscreens that hovered in midair. The ship’s bio matter was designed to project the screens. Lothor narrowed his red eyes at a viewscreen as the image of the Earth grew larger.

 

A hovering insect floated besides him. The creature was nothing more than a large head, with beady eyes and mandibles, mounted on a stalk. A bronze-tinted exoskeleton covered the insect. The creature was known as Centhrax. It spoke with a high-pitched, whiny voice. “We’re approaching the Earth.”

 

“I can see that,” Lothor said as he pushed the creature away.

 

Two humanoid females stood behind Lothor. They dressed in exotic, colorful armor. Their names were Marah and Kapri.

 

 “Are you sure this is a good idea?” Marah asked as she cowered behind her older sister. “I mean, this is Earth we’re talking about.”

 

“She’s right,” Kapri said with more authority to her voice. “Just ask Lord Zedd or Sauron how hard conquering this world was…oh wait, they’re dead.”

 

“Quiet,” Lothor said. “Whatever so-called heroes survived the Mogralord battles will still be weakened. We’re more than equipped to handle leftovers.”

 

The Great Beast of Hell, the Mogralord, was released in Angel Grove several months ago. It took the combined might of every Ranger team and hero on the planet to defeat the demon. Earth’s champions lost their powers in the aftermath of the fight against the Great Beast. 

 

The viewscreen shifted to a view of the Hayate Way, and a small handful of similar martial arts academies. Lothor glared at the images, the one of Tommy in particular.

 

“It looks like little Dragon Ranger has started a mage school of his own,” Lothor said. The villain turned to one of his heavy-set generals. “Chubo!”

 

The leader of the Biological Corp. walked forward while using his cane for support. Chubo declined his head towards his master. “I’m here.”

 

“Ready one of your warriors,” Lothor said. “School’s letting out early this year…”

 

***

 

The students assembled in the main courtyard outside the Hayate Way dojo. They were in five lines separated by the colors of their uniforms: Red, blue, and yellow. Students who were not yet identified with a specific color wore gray. Tommy stood in front of them on a slightly raised platform.

 

“The tournament is coming up soon,” Tommy said as he stood with his hands behind his back. “The Ikkazuchi Way are…less than honorable in the way they fight. They are driven to win at any cost. They will tell you this is their greatest strength. It’s not…It’s their greatest weakness. They lack honor. They lack spirit.”

 

Tommy took a moment to explain the origin of the two schools, which dated back to their roots in Japan.

 

During the Nara Era, at the end of the of the seventh century, martial artists discovered that certain individuals could harness their own life force as energy to form special fighting techniques that appeared supernatural. Men could run across water, increase their speed and strength, and harness elemental forces such as fire, wind, water, and earth.

 

By the Kamakura Era, the methods of using these powers were systemized as part of a secret society. Two great schools became major players in this secret society: The Hayate Way and the Ikkazuchi Way. Both schools incorporated a variety of techniques from fighting styles around the known world.

 

In 1495, during the Muromachi Era, the two schools competed in a tournament presided over by the emperor of Japan himself. The Hayate Way won, becoming the lead martial arts school in the nation. The Hayate Way and Ikkazuchi Way continued competing into the Sengoku Era, improving and testing their techniques against each other.

 

The Hayate Way was chosen during the Edo period as the select school of the Emperor, and the best of its warriors became his secret guard, warriors of virtue and justice, shrouded in darkness.

 

The Ikkazuchi became a group of assassins, often recruited by members of the Japanese underworld. They were without honor.

 

The traditions of the Hayate Way and Ikkazuchi Way continued to this day, across the world. The best of the Hayate Way students were chosen as secret guardians and protectors. Chosen as Harrikenjaa. The Ikkazuchi Way continued providing its students to the criminal element.

 

Tommy stepped down from the platform and walked along the ranks of students. “I’m not asking any of you to win,” Tommy said. “I’m asking you to do your best. To test yourselves and learn from your mistakes, as well as theirs.”

 

***

 

A hidden chamber was beneath the Hayate Way dojo. The room was lined with antique wood paneling and floor work. A couch, coffee table and some chairs were in a corner. In direct contrast to the room’s design, a computer cluster sat along the back wall, and panels of high-tech lighting lined the side walls.

 

Ashley, Tommy’s fiancé,  sat in front of the computer as a red light stared blinking. “Great,” she said sarcastically as her fingers danced across the keyboard. “Tommy is going to freak.”

 

The main computer screen displayed an image of the spiraling centipede ship as it drilled through space towards Earth. “Looks like Jakanja is ahead of schedule…”

 

***

 

Simon, Justin, and Rachel sat by a creek in the mountains nearby the Hayate Way dojo. Justin shook his head as he kicked a pebble into the stream. “Why does he always have to be so hard on us?” he asked as he kicked another pebble. “He takes this thing way too seriously.”

 

Rachel shook her head. “I think he just expects more from us.”

 

“Still,” Justin said as he kicked another pebble. “He doesn’t have to talk to us that way, just because martial arts isn’t our life like it is his.”

 

Simon had a distant look in his eyes. “That’s not it.” 

 

“What do you mean?” Rachel asked.

 

Simon shook his head, as if snapping out of a trance. “Look,” he said. “I’ve known Tommy since I was a kid. He’s always been a tough trainer…but lately…I don’t know. Something’s bothering him. Something’s…wrong.”

 

The wind around the creek picked up as an eerie sound echoed across the mountains.

 

“That’s just a little freaky,” Justin whispered.

 

***

 

Tommy looked up into the sky as red lightning scorched the clouds. He clenched his jaw. “Jakanja…”

 

***

 

Green light shimmered around Hayate Way’s campus and formed an energy barrier to keep out potential intruders. Ashley had designed the barrier based on Kerovian technology she borrowed from her time as an Astro Ranger in space.

 

One of Chubo’s biological warriors approached the barrier along with a group of Kelzak soldiers. The soldiers wore black with white stitches across their bodies. The stitches resembled centipede legs. Black masks covered the soldiers’ faces, and the twisted centipede symbol of the Jakanja was etched in red across the masks. Each soldier carried a red bladed tonfa.

 

The monster, Kekkai, wore ornate armor with hints of dark gold over a red body suit. The warrior’s helmet resembled the head of a mantis. He carried a kusarigama, a scythe connected to a metal chain with a heavy iron weight on its end. His face looked like a mask.

 

Kekkai thrust his hand towards the barrier. His palm glowed with a deep crimson hue as dozens of cards streaked from his armor and slapped against the barrier, attaching to the energy field. The cards exploded with a rippled shockwave that caused the energy barrier to collapse. 

 

Kekkai extended his scythe. “Forward!”

 

***

 

The Kelzaks charged towards the main field as Tommy extended his hand, summoning his slender Dragon Sword, the Ryuuseikin,  with a flash of red energy. The golden handle of the blade was wrapped with strands of crimson cloth. A dragon’s head was carved at the end of the handle. The hilt was another dragon head. This dragon’s mouth was open, and the sword’s blade extended from between the beast’s jaws. The sword had belonged to the first Ranger ever, Jestin, at the beginning of recording time. 

 

Tommy looked over his shoulder to his gathered students. “Stay back,” he told them as the Kelzaks continued their advance.

 

A Kelzak leapt towards Tommy and swung its blade downward. Tommy parried the blow with ease and sliced open the soldier’s chest with a burst of spark.

 

Another Kelzak swung at Tommy, but he parried the blow and smashed the end of his handle against that soldier’s face.

 

Kekkai snuck up on the battle scene and launched a flurry of cards towards Tommy and the students.

 

Tommy twirled his saber to cut down most of the cards, but the ones he couldn’t strike down hit his students. Energy started to crackle through the cards and envelop his students.

 

“Too slow,” Kekkai said mockingly.

 

“Bastard.” Tommy aimed his sword at the monster. “What have you done?”

 

“You’ll find out soon enough,” Kekkai said.

 

Dark swirling vortices swirled overhead and sucked the students inside.

 

“No!” Tommy shouted as he charged towards Kekkai.

 

A black energy bolt tinted with purple surged towards Tommy. But he used his Chi power, Kiryoku, to erect an invisible energy barrier that absorbed the impact. Tommy turned to his left to see Lothor stalking forward with a sly grin spread across his face.

 

“Hello, Dragon Ranger,” Lothor said.

 

“Raisik,” Tommy said as he assumed a defensive stance. “Love the new look.”

 

“The name is Lothor now,” he said as he extended his hand, which pulsed with black and purple shadow energy. “It’s the last name you’ll ever hear.”

 

Lothor fired an energy pulse that Tommy knocked aside with his sword. Another trio of pulses shot towards Tommy, but he deflected those as well.

 

Lothor extended his hand and summoned a black-bladed katana with a burst of dark light. “Are you going to just stand there or fight?”

 

Tommy stepped back into a defensive stance. “Careful what you wish for, Lothor.”

 

***

 

Kekkai stalked through the campus wilderness along with his Kelzaks to search for any remaining students. Simon, Justin, and Rachel hid behind a small rock formation as they watched the soldiers pass by.

 

“What are those things?” Rachel asked quietly.

 

“Trouble,” Simon said.

 

“Ya think?” Justin said sarcastically.

 

“You guys get out of here,” Simon said. “I’ll handle the black-heads.”

 

“Are you crazy-” Rachel started to say, but Simon was already darting forward.

 

Simon leapt forward with a flying sidekick that smashed a soldier backward. He turned to his left, high blocked a blow, and slammed a punch against a Kelzak’s chest. He finished the soldier off with a jump kick to the head.

 

Rachel looked to Justin. “Let’s help him…”

 

The two leapt forward and slammed against the Kelzaks with a flurry of kicks and punches, but they were no match for the superior numbers of the enemy.

 

A Kelzak launched a flying sidekick that slammed against Justin’s chest and sent him crashing onto his back. Another soldier leapt down towards Justin and chopped a blade towards his head.

 

Rachel pounced forward, kicked the blade away, and used an elbow strike to knock the soldier back.

 

The three teens regrouped as Kekkai stalked towards them. “Looks like I missed some,” the creature said as his hand started to glow with crimson energy.

 

“Simon,” Rachel said as she tugged on his arm. “Let’s get out of here.”

 

Simon shook his head and remained in a fighting stance. “I’m not scared of this clown…”

 

Kekkai extended his hand and fired a wave of cards that streaked towards the teens. Before the cards could strike the three students, a tornado of energy flashed around them as they vanished.

 

***

 

Tommy parried Lothor’s thrusts with ease as the villain pushed forward, his red eyes glowing with rage. “Fight, coward!” Lothor yelled as he continued to swing his blade. “Fight!”

 

Tommy swung his blade in a wide arc, parrying a blow, and slammed the end of his weapon against Lothor’s face. Tommy spun forward while knocking the feet out from underneath Lothor. Lothor fell to the ground as Tommy held his blade down to the villain’s throat.

 

Lothor looked up at Tommy, a cold grin spreading across his face. “Go ahead,” Lothor said. “Kill me…”

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes as he glared at Lothor. The villain knew Tommy would no longer take a life. He was a Master now. Using The Power to kill risked corruption.

 

Lothor laughed. “Just as I thought.”

 

Lothor’s eyes flashed red as an energy pulse knocked Tommy backward and sent him skidding across the ground. Lothor rose to his feet while holstering his weapon.

 

“We’ll meet again,” he said as he shimmered away.

 

***

 

The tornado of energy flashed in the center of the Hayate Way’s underground chamber as the three teens appeared.

 

“What the hell just happened?” Justin said as he looked around the room.

 

Ashley turned her chair away from her computer to face the teens. “I teleported you here,” she said. “You can thank me later.”

 

“Ashley?” Rachel asked with surprise. “…Ashley?”

 

“What is this place?” Simon asked with a wrinkled brow.

 

Justin shook his head. “Did you say teleported us here? Teleported?”

 

“What’s going on?” Simon asked. “Who was that attacking us.”

 

“I’ll show you,” Ashley said as she turned back to her computer and manipulated a few controls. Various images appeared on the three main computer screens. “These are members of a group known as Jakanja,” she explained. “Their leader’s name is Lothor. He’s an old…friend of Tommy’s.”

 

“Friend?” Justin asked.

 

The rear entrance to the room opened as Tommy walked in. “Rival is more like it.”

 

“Tommy…” Simon started to say.

 

Tommy held up his hand to stall any comment. “Jakanja sees the Earth as vulnerable,” Tommy said. “They have no interest in conquering the world, they just want to destroy it. They move from planet to planet, and are concerned with nothing more than increasing their own power.”

 

Rachel turned back to face the computer screen as images of the Kelzaks flashed across the monitors. “I don’t get it,” she said. “Where are the Power Rangers?”

 

“That’s why you’re here,” Tommy said.

 

“Huh?” Justin asked.

 

Ashley stood and pulled out a small metal briefcase from beneath her computer console. She opened the briefcase, and inside were three wrist bracers. The bracers were gold and black, and each had a different medallion attached. There was a red hawk symbol, a yellow lion, and a blue dolphin.

 

“These are Gyro Morphers,” Ashley explained.

 

“We need you three to use these to become Rangers and fight against the Jakanja,” Tommy explained. “All the other students were captured. You’re all that’s left to fight against them.”

 

“You’re kidding right?” Rachel said with disbelief. “Us?”

 

“Yes,” Tommy said. “Each of you has the potential necessary, as well as the base training.

 

“Justin, Rocky taught you his fighting style of the Koppouken,” Tommy explained. Koppouken was a mix of Long-Fist kung-fu, kick boxing, and ninjutusu. This was one of three styles taught at he Hayate Way. “He was the Blue Tenma Ranger. 

 

“Rachel, Kimberly taught you her Shiranui style,” Tommy said. One of the Hayate Way’s three styles, Shiranui was a combination of Eagle-Fist kung fu and ninjutsu. “She was the Pink Phoenix Ranger.” 

 

Tommy’s gaze lingered on Simon for a moment. The teen wore almost a hurt look on his face. “I taught Simon the Hakkyokuseiken style,” Tommy said. The Hayate Way’s Hakkyokuseiken was a blend of Dragon-Fist kung-fu, karate, Tae Kwan-do, and ninjutsu. “I was the Red Dragon Ranger…and he’s already been the Red Gao Ranger.”

 

“Whoa,” Justin said as he took a step back from his friend. “You were a…you were a Power Ranger?”

 

“Gao Ranger,” Simon corrected.

 

Rachel slapped Simon across the arm. “How could you not tell us?”

 

“So…” Justin said to Tommy. “If you’re a Ranger…what do you need us for?”

 

“I’ll explain more later,” Tommy said. “There’s not a lot of time…”

 

Simon looked at the Gyro Morphers. “Did you and Ashley make these?”

 

“Yes,” Tommy said. “They’re based on the principles of Ninjetti. They spark your inner Animal Spirit and allow you to channel The Power. Simon, you will be the red Hawk and have the power of air. Justin, you will be the yellow Lion and have the power of earth. Rachel, you will be the blue dolphin and have the power of water.”

 

“Why always yellow?” Justin asked, visibly unpleased with his color.

 

“The Power has different currents, and each current is a particular type of energy,” Tommy explained. “A wielder of The Power will have a greater strength with channeling energy from one current. But that current changes depending on how you draw upon The Power. For example, Justin, if you were to use your Life Force, you would be blue and have power of gravity.”

 

“Life Force?” Rachel asked. “You mean our Chi.”

 

Tommy nodded. “The Spirit, Soul, Body, and Mind work in conjunction to create Life Energy, or Life Force, called Chi. Chi flows through the body in its own circulatory system, connected by 64 Chakra points.”

 

“Yeah we covered that in Ninja 101,” Justin joked.

 

“What we didn’t cover was this,” Tommy said. “The Power Rangers and I transformed by using morphers that ignited our Life Energy. This let us channel The Power through our Chakra points. Other Rangers’ powers were geared differently. The Gao morphers on Simon’s team infused their Souls with energy so their Souls could channel The Power. The original Power Rangers used Power Coins that let theirs Bodies channel The Power.

 

“Ninjetti is different,” Tommy said. “Each of us has a totemic Animal Spirit inside of us that connects our being. Ninjetti allows your Animal Spirit to channel The Power and strengthen every aspect of your being. Your Spirit, Soul, Body, Mind, and Life Force.”

 

Rachel shook her head. “Okay that all sounds terribly complicated, how will we know what to do?”

 

“Your powers will guide you,” Tommy said.

 

Ashley’s monitor started beeping as an image of Kekkai and his Kelzaks appeared on her computer screen.

 

“Guys,” Simon said. “Let’s get to it.”

 

Justin and Rachel nodded, feeling a mix of fear and excitement. The teens started to run out of the room as Ashley called to them. “Guys…you’re forgetting something…”

 

The three teens hesitated, realizing they needed the Gyro Morphers. They ran back, grabbed the morphers, and left the room.

 

Tommy sighed and shook his head as he watched them leave.

 

“They’re not ready, Ash,” Tommy said.

 

She placed her hand around his arm. “Neither were we…they’ll be fine.”

 

***

 

Kekkai stalked through the wilderness near the campus along with his Kelzaks. The three teens stood on the edge of a cliff and looked down at the villains.

 

“Looking for something?” Simon shouted down to them.

 

Kekkai looked up at the rangers, glaring at them. “You three again…you won’t escape this time.”

 

We don’t plan on escaping,” Simon said as he readied his Gyro Morpher. “Ready guys?”

 

“Not really,” Justin said as he readied his morpher.

 

Rachel simply nodded as she readied her brace.

 

“It’s morphin’ time!” Simon shouted. “Senpu… Ninjetti change! Ha!” Powerful cyclones of energy circled around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms. They snapped into fighting stances.

 

“Power of Air…Hurricane Red!”

 

“Power of Earth…Hurricane Yellow!”

 

“Power of Water…Hurricane Blue!”

 

“Hurricane Task Force, Power Rangers!” they shouted together.

 

Kekkai laughed with amusement as he looked to his Kelzaks. “Get them,” he commanded as the soldiers charged forward.

 

“Let’s go!” Hurricane Red shouted. The three Rangers leapt into battle.

 

“Air Style! Air Gallop Jutsu!” Hurricane Red unsheathed his saber and dashed forward while running across the air. He swung his blade left and right while charging through a group of Kelzaks. His feet never touching the ground.

 

Hurricane Red leapt forward and somersaulted through midair. He landed against the side of a tree and pushed off while aiming his Gyro Morpher at the Kelzaks. “Gyro Blades!”

 

The Red Ranger snapped a volley of H-shaped throwing stars that shot from his morpher. The blades ripped through Kelzaks like rag dolls, bursting with spark, as the soldiers crumbled to the ground.

 

Nearby, Hurricane Blue ran across the creek, dashing across the water while switching her sword and scabbard to rifle mode.

 

The Kelzaks stood stunned at the sight of her movement.

 

“What’s the matter?” she said as she aimed. “Never seen a girl in blue spandex walk on water before?”

 

She fired lances of golden energy that exploded against the Kelzaks and knocked them backward.

 

Hurricane Blue leapt forward and flipped back onto the ground. She turned towards an oncoming group of Kelzaks.

 

“Hydro Blast!” She thrust her arms forward and fired a massive torrent of water that slammed against the soldiers and washed them off their feet.

 

Several soldiers charged towards Hurricane Yellow nearby. The Yellow Ranger placed his right fist against his left palm and focused his power.

 

“Earth Style! Tunneling Jutsu!” Hurricane Yellow drilled beneath the ground and streaked towards the Kelzaks while kicking up dirt and dust in his wake. He tore past the group with a shockwave that sent the soldiers flailing through the air.

 

The three Rangers regrouped and faced off with Kekkai.

 

“No more grunts to hide behind, big guy” Hurricane Red said.

 

Kekkai smiled with amusement. “I won’t be needing them.”

 

The creature cut his scythe through thin air, tore open a small pocket dimension, and stepped inside. A second later, a giant hand reached out and pulled the Rangers into the pocket dimension.

 

The Rangers rolled across the foggy ground of the crimson pocket dimension and rolled back to their feet.

 

“What is this place?” Hurricane Yellow asked.

 

“Pocket dimension,” Hurricane Red said. “Stay alert…”

 

The flying head of Kekkai blurred past the Rangers while firing jagged optic blasts. The blasts exploded against the Rangers’ armor and tossed them off their feet.

 

The Rangers rolled backward and rose to their knees while arming their rifles.

 

“Fire!” Hurricane Red shouted as they fired lances of golden energy at the head.

 

A giant foot suddenly stomped on the ground near the Rangers, creating a shockwave that tossed them backward.

 

The Rangers regrouped and rose to their feet as the giant head of Kekkai looked up from the horizon. The head opened its mouth and blew a powerful gust of wind that snagged the Rangers off their feet as explosions sparked against their armor. The explosions blasted the Rangers back into reality.

 

Kekkai laughed as he swung his scythe over his shoulder. “Now you see what I am capable of…”

 

The Rangers slowly rose to their feet as Kekkai extended his hand and fired a volley of cards. The cards exploded around the Rangers with a massive outbreak of flame that consumed the landscape.

 

“Wind Gliders!“ The Rangers armed gliders attached to their backs and flew from the flames while streaking towards Kekkai.

 

“Impossible…” Kekkai muttered as the Rangers circled around him. The villain fired jagged optic blasts to try and strike down the Rangers, but they managed to dodge each blow.

 

Hurricane Red angled his glider downward and swooped towards the creature.

 

“Come here, freak,” he said as he tackled against the monster. Hurricane Red lifted Kekkai and flew over the nearby treetops.

 

See ya,” Hurricane Red said as he dropped the monster.

 

Kekkai crashed in the woods as the Rangers leapt down in blurs of motion. The Rangers landed in crouched positions with their blades slung over their shoulders.

 

Kekkai aimed his blade at the Rangers, but they attacked before he had the chance. They streaked across the villain in three multi-colored blurs of motion, thrashing at him with their sabers.

 

The somersaulted in unison towards the villain, chopping their blades down as they shouted: “Hur- ri- cane!”

 

Their blades sparked across the villain’s armor and knocked him backwards.

 

“Hawk Blaster!” Hurricane Red activated his blaster weapon. “You’re about to see what we’re capable of…”

 

Hurricane Red extended the blaster and fired a concentrated torrent of flame that exploded against Kekkai.

 

“Lion Hammer!“ Hurricane Yellow activated his weapon, a long staff with a hammer at the end.

 

“It’s hammer time!” He slammed the Lion Hammer against the ground, creating a shockwave that exploded underneath Kekkai.

 

“Sonic Fin!” Hurricane Blue extended her weapon. She triggered a sonic pulse that exploded against Kekkai and sent him crashing backwards through a group of tree trunks.

 

“Let’s bring ‘em together,” Hurricane Red said as they assembled their three weapons into a single cannon.

 

“Storm Striker!” they shouted. “Fire!” The cannon fired a spherical pulse that crackled with energy. The pulse ripped through Kekkai and exploded, tearing the villain to shreds and consuming his body with flame.

 

The Rangers snapped open their faceplates as they stared at the monster’s fiery debris.

 

Hurricane Blue looked to Hurricane Yellow and raised an eyebrow. “Hammer time?”

 

Hurricane Yellow shrugged, his eyes still fixated on the creature they’d destroyed. “It was a heat-of-the-moment type thing.”

 

***

 

Later that day, Simon sat at the edge of Bear Lake while gazing thoughtfully across the water.

 

“You can’t sneak up on an empath,” he said without turning around. Simon had an unexplainable mental ability that let him sense other peoples’ emotions.

 

“I know,” Tommy said as he walked forward and took a seat next to Simon.

 

The two sat in silence for a moment before Simon turned to his mentor. “So let me get this straight,” he said. “If the other students hadn’t disappeared, you never would have given me these powers…”

 

“I never said that, Simon,” Tommy said calmly. “You were always a candidate. I was hoping I’d never have to make a choice. That they wouldn’t come.”

 

“A candidate?” Simon asked with disbelief. “A candidate? You’ve been training me as your little toy soldier since I was a kid.”

 

“It wasn’t like that,” Tommy said, “and you know it. And remember, it was your idea to enroll in the school.”

 

Simon shook his head. “A candidate…either you don’t trust me or you don’t think I’m strong enough.”

 

“I do trust you,” Tommy said, “and it’s not about strength.”

 

Simon shook his head. He didn’t say another word while looking out upon the lake.

 

“Simon…” Tommy said, “I don’t believe in chance. The Power chose you, that’s all that matters. It’s up to you to decide what comes next.”

 

Tommy rose to his feet and left while Simon sat in silence.

 

To be continued…Chapter 02