Wind and Thunder: Chapter Five

Burdens

 

Centhrax hovered across the Jakanja bridge, where Lothor and his henchmen assembled. The insectoid pulsed as steam hissed from its exoskeleton. Moans escaped from between its mandibles. “I feel it…it’s happening…”

 

“What’s happening?” Marah took a cautious step backward. “Is he going to explode? Kapri, is he going to explode?”

 

“No you idiot, he’s having a premonition,” Kapri said.

 

“Does that mean he’s going to explode?”

 

“Silence!” Lothor glared at the girls. He turned his head towards Centhrax. “I have waited years for this. Finally, rescuing this little gnat is about to pay off.”

 

Tao Zento commanded Lothor to rescue Centhrax two years ago. Centhrax had belonged to a swarm of space-faring bugs that plagued the galaxy like termites. The creatures were annoyances pursued across space by extermination squads.

 

But Centhrax was different. Somehow the insectoid had a natural connection to cosmic power that made him a Seer, a trait typically found in humanoids.

 

The last group of Seers, the Prophets, were wiped out by the Masters and Rangers because of fear produced by the cult’s premonitions. Only a handful of Seers had surfaced since.

 

Centhrax’s premonitions were small in power and scale. This was his first vision since being saved by Lothor. “I see…” Centhrax’s voice hissed. “Two warriors. Powerful warriors, covered in darkness. They are coming soon.”

 

“The last two Spears?” Zergain asked.

 

Zergain, Centhrax, Marah, Kapri, and Chubo were five of the Seven Spears of Darkness assembled by Lothor. Two of the Spears had yet to be seen, and their identities were a mystery to everyone but Lothor’s master, Tao Zento.  

 

“No…” Centhrax hissed. “Not the Spears. They are brothers. They will come to us as enemies and allies. They will help us give birth to the Final Prophecy.”

 

“What else do you see?” Lothor asked.

 

Centhrax stopped pulsing, and the steam quit hissing from his exoskeleton. “That is all.”

 

Lothor snarled. The villain rolled his hands into fists. “That’s it? How is that the slightest bit helpful?! I could have found a better premonition in a fortune cookie!” 

 

Lothor turned to Chubo. “Continue with your plans. We’ve wasted enough time here.”

 

***

 

The same nightmare woke Simon up again. Images of the final battle against the Mogralord had danced across his mind’s eyes. Even after waking, he could feel the pain of every Ranger and champion that was killed.

 

He could feel Kaitlin, the White Nova Trooper, eaten alive from the inside by a demonic snake. He could feel Jonathan and Trini’s bodies pierced by Giraffe Undead‘s spear, and feel the pain at the realization their love would never be realized. Ryan Steele, the Turbos, Drew and Josh, the list went on…

 

Simon got up from bed and put on a pair of black sweat pants and a red hoody. Trying to go back to sleep was useless after the nightmare, so he often went out for a run after it woke him, regardless of the time.

 

The door to Simon’s room creaked open, and his mother poked her head in. She seemed almost reluctant to step into the room and approach her own son.

 

“Simon…it’s 1:30 in the morning,” she said.

 

“I know…” Simon kept his eyes on his sneakers while he rested his foot on the bed and tied his shoe. “I won’t be out long, I’m just going around the block.”

 

“It’s a school night.”

 

“I’m well aware of that, mother.” He tied his other shoe.

 

His mother sighed and shook her head. “Simon, I can’t keep watching you do this to yourself. Your grades are slipping. You don’t even go out with your friends anymore-”

 

“I was never really big into the friend thing.”

 

“What about Teddy?”

 

“We still talk.” Simon finished tying his shoe and moved towards his desk to grab a water bottle. “And I see Justin and Rachel all the time.”

 

“But not like you used to; all you do is work out, and train, and run, and…” she shook her head. “That’s really besides the point. The point is it’s a school night, and you’re not going out running at 1:30 a.m. It’s late and it’s dangerous out there.”

 

“Can’t be afraid of the boogieman, mom,” Simon opened his door all the way and walked past his mother, not noticing the tear streaming down her cheek.

 

***

 

Simon lost himself in thought and jogged several blocks away from home. He seemed drawn towards Demon City, the uninhabitable center of Angel Grove that still pulsed with evil power. Demon City was a scar that would never heal.

 

His brief argument with his mother still lingered in the back of his mind. What does she mean I don’t hang out with my friends like I used to? I’m with Justin and Rachel all the time. She should be glad I’m not sneaking out to party or drink like other kids my age.

 

Besides, I don’t have time for a social life…hell, if I could I would quit school without a thought. I’m a Ranger. That’s my life now…maybe if I was this serious about it when I was Gao Red I could have stopped people from dying.

 

Simon stopped in his tracks when he heard the familiar chanting of Kelzaks nearby. He ducked behind a bush in the middle of a landscaped median that ran down the wide, paved walking path.

 

The ranger noticed several grunts stray off the path and dig up dirt in the surrounding park, nestled in between towering city buildings.

 

Simon narrowed his eyes and activated his communicator. “Guys, wake up…”

 

***

 

Justin covered his mouth and yawned while he and Rachel met Simon on the trail. They hunched down with Simon behind a bush in the median.

 

Justin scratched the back of his head. “Remember when we used to hang out during normal hours, for reasons besides mole monsters, and lizard monsters, and monsters in general? Yeah…let’s do this less and that more.”

 

Rachel narrowed her eyes and tried to get a clear view of the Kelzaks. Nearby lamps hardly offered enough light to make out what the grunts were up to. The soldiers stepped out from the parkland and started walking down the broad, multi-lane path again.

 

“What are they doing…” Rachel asked.

 

“I don’t know,” Simon said. “But now that we’re all here we can stop them.”

 

“Thanks for waiting for us this time,” Justin said.

 

“Don’t mention it,” Simon said.

 

The rangers leapt through the air and armed their morphers. “Ninjetti change!”

 

They morphed into their armor and streaked through the grunts with blurs of motion, dashing between the soldiers while breaking the Kelzaks‘ formation.

 

The Rangers landed amidst the disoriented Kelzaks and attacked.

 

Hurricane Blue leaned back to a Kelzak behind her and knocked the soldier’s blade away. She smashed an elbow against the grunt’s face and turned her attention to the soldier in front of her.

 

The Blue Ranger knifehand chopped the grunt in the neck and smashed an outer crescent kick against the Kelzak‘s head..

 

Hurricane Blue moved to her next target with the fluidity and grace of the Shiranui style, a combination of Eagle-Fist kung fu and ninjutsu, which she started learning from the former Phoenix Ranger, Kimberly.  

 

Meanwhile Hurricane Yellow snapped a tornado kick across a grunt’s head and swept the legs out from beneath another soldier. The Yellow Ranger’s attacks were of the Koppouken style, a mix of Long-Fist kung-fu, kick boxing, and ninjutsu, which he began learning from the former Tenma Ranger, Rocky.

 

Nearby, Hurricane Red slammed a roundkick against a grunt’s midsection and smashed a knifehand blow against the back of the villain’s neck, knocking the grunt to the ground.

 

Another Kelzak charged at Hurricane Red, but the Red Ranger smashed the grunt away with a spin kick. His style was the same as Tommy’s Hakkyokuseiken, a blend of Dragon-Fist kung-fu, karate, Tae Kwan-do, and ninjutsu.

A vine suddenly slithered across the ground, wrapped around Hurricane Red’s ankles, and snapped the Ranger off his feet. The vine retracted, dragging the Red Ranger across the pavement.

 

Hurricane Red skid to a stop at the feet of a monster, who crashed its foot against the Ranger’s chest. Hurricane Red looked up to see a creature covered in vines, with flower-like petals blooming from its head. 

 

The monster lifted Hurricane Red by the neck. The villain’s yellow eyes glowed with a dim light. “I don’t believe we’ve had the pleasure of meeting, little Ranger. I am Hannasaka.”

 

Hurricane Red struggled to break free. “You’ve seen one flower monster, you’ve seen them all…”

 

The Red Ranger knocked the villain’s arms away and snapped a sidekick at the creature’s midsection, but Hannasaka vanished and reappeared behind the Ranger.

 

Hurricane Red turned and snapped a flying roundkick at the creature’s head, but the villain vanished again and reappeared towards the Ranger’s side. Hurricane Red lunged towards the monster with a punch, but the creature vanished.

 

Hannasaka reappeared behind Hurricane Red and fired jade energy daggers, which exploded against the Ranger’s armor with bursts of spark that snapped him off his feet.

 

Hurricane Red rolled across the ground and rose to his feet as the others regrouped around him.

 

“Simon!” Hurricane Yellow stood protectively in front of the Red Ranger until he was back on his feet.

 

Hannasaka laughed mockingly at the Rangers. “You’ve been an interesting diversion, but unfortunately, I am not after you…not yet anyway…” The monster thrust its arms forward. “Spore Swarm!”

 

A cloud of spores shot from the monster’s body and swarmed around the Rangers while exploding against their armor with bursts of spark, knocking them onto the ground.

 

The Rangers rose back into crouched positions and looked up, but the monster and grunts were gone.

 

“Great,” Simon muttered under his breath. “Real great.”

 

Hurricane Yellow looked over his shoulder to where the Kelzaks had been digging. He noticed something out of place lying on the ground. “Hey guys, looks like the bug heads left behind a little…something…or…well, something…”

 

The Rangers stepped over to take a look. Hurricane Red picked up a sleek-looking pod about the size of his palm.

 

Hurricane Blue looked closer. “It looks like a big seed.”

 

Hurricane Yellow tilted his head. “What, Jakanja are gardening now?”

 

The Red Ranger looked deeper into the park. What had the villains been up to? “We’ll take this to Tommy and Ashley tomorrow.”

 

***

 

Ashley leaned forward on her elbows and stared thoughtfully at the results scrolling across her monitor. Tommy stood nearby and leaned his hand against her chair. “Can you tell what it is?” Tommy asked.

 

“Well…” she switched elbows. “It’s a seed.”

 

“A seed…” 

 

She shrugged defensively. “Biology isn’t my strong point.”

 

Tommy turned towards the rangers, who were sitting on the couch nearby. “We’ll keep trying to figure out what this thing is. You guys better get back to school, your free period is almost over.”

 

“No, I’m staying here,” Simon said defiantly.

 

“Simon,” Tommy said sternly, “you have to go back to school.”

 

“You’re not my father,” Simon snapped.

 

Tommy sighed and looked to the others. “Will you guys head back, please.”

 

Rachel nodded and started to back away. “We’ll be back after school.”

 

“Good luck,” Justin said while he followed Rachel out.

 

Ashley grabbed a few files and made her way out as well. “I’m going to grab a few things from upstairs…”

 

Tommy and Simon stood alone.

 

“Simon,” Tommy said. “What’s been going on with you? One day you seem fine, the next you’re like…this…you’re unpredictable. It’s going to get you hurt.”

 

“You mean like today when I let the monster get away,” Simon said defensively.

 

“That’s not what I meant at all, and you know it,” Tommy said. “You need…you need discipline.”

 

“What I need is to be treated like an adult,” Simon snapped. “I’m not like the others, ya know. I’ve seen just as much as you have.” Simon’s hands clenched into fists at his side. “I was there, remember, just a kid when you and your Dark Warlords thrashed on Angel’s Square. I’ve been there every step of the way since. I even helped you fight in the end.”

 

Tommy kept his voice calm. “I’m not denying you’ve been through a lot. But that doesn’t change the fact that you’re still learning. When you were a Gao Ranger, your powers came from the lion. The…raw emotion that fueled your powers then are exactly what is blocking your way now. To truly tap into your animal spirit of the hawk you need more temperance. More control.”

 

Simon lifted his hands, his face wide with sarcasm. “I’m sorry I’m not as good as the great Tommy Oliver.”

 

“This has nothing to do with how good you are,” Tommy said.

 

“Then what is this about?” Simon snapped.

 

“I don’t want you to end up like me.” Tommy paused. “I don’t want this to be your whole life. I don‘t want to see you give up everything because you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

 

“I’m not like you,” Simon said. “I accept that this is who I am. I don’t sit around moping because I don’t have time for a normal life. If anything, I wish what was left of my normal life didn’t get in the way so much.

 

“Like today,” Simon continued. “I should have been here first thing in the morning to take care of this, but no, I had to go sit and listen to some old lady talk about circles for a god damn hour. Do you know what it’s like sitting in a classroom for an hour, a whole hour, listening to a woman who smells like cat talk about circles, for an hour, when I could be dealing with something that’s literally a matter of life and death.”

 

“You just described my high school career,” Tommy said. “Except I didn’t have Ms. Hinkleschmidt for Geometry.”

 

“The point is I don’t have time for a normal life. Not friends, not school, not family,” Simon was practically shouting. “I have a responsibility. A big one. I failed before and I can’t again. Tetomu is dead because of me. Others died that I couldn’t save, even with all of you helping me.”

 

Simon shook his head. “You’ll forgive me if I don’t feel much like going to school,” he said sarcastically while he turned and stormed out. “I have a job to do.”

 

***

 

Lothor kneeled before his master Tao Zento within a hidden chamber on the Jakanja ship. Tao Zento preferred to keep his presence a secret from the rest of the Jakanja underlings. 

 

Lothor bowed his head low, not out of respect, but to hide his look of disgust at his master. He hated Tao Zento more and more each day. “The Rangers failed to stop us this time. My warriors defeated them.”

 

Tao Zento moaned with disbelief. “It was far from a decisive defeat if the Rangers still live. They must not be allowed to interfere with our plans to obtain the Final Prophecy. I grow tired of explaining this to you, my underling.”

 

Lothor’s eyes burned with hate. This fool is obsessed with the Final Prophecy, a feeble tale that may not even be true, and yet he insults my intelligence. He dares to speak down to me!

 

“I will not fail,” Lothor said.

 

“Your mere existence is a failure. Now leave me. And lay the foundation for the Final Prophecy to appear.”

 

No, Lothor thought. I will let Hannasaka’s mission play out as a distraction while I begin work on my own design. Then finally, Tao Zento, even you will recognize my power. No one will ever look down on me again. Not even the Dragon Ranger.

 

***

 

Lothor appeared on the rooftops of Demon City, formerly known as Angel Grove Central. The villain’s red eyes brightened at the site of the landscape; toppled buildings and rubble covered war-torn streets as dark clouds above, tinted with red, spread a crimson shadow as far as the eye could see. 

 

A feral grin spread across Lothor’s face, revealing rows of jagged teeth. “So this is where it all ended for you, Dragon Ranger…your final battle…”

 

Demon City was the battleground for Earth’s champions final conflict against the Mogralord. The aftermath of that war had stripped the champions of their powers and rendered the entire center of Angel Grove uninhabitable.

 

The city was quiet except for an eerie breeze, a tormented wailing that reached from the alleyways to the jagged skyline. The air was thick with the smell of sulfur and death.

 

Lothor took in a deep breath. He loved it. 

 

The villain extended his hand, and his palm pulsed with dark, purple-tinted arcane energy. Arcane magick had been his specialty before turning to the dark teachings of Tao Zento and shadow magick.

 

Lothor’s smile widened as the energy around his hand pulsed stronger. “This area is still ripe with arcane power…power that I will tap into…”

 

The final battle against the Mogralord had blurred the barrier between realms in Demon City. As a result, lesser demons and creatures of darkness still roamed deserted streets. And the massive discharges of power that had torn Angel Grove Central to shreds had created new creatures, mostly born from arcane and shadow energy.

 

“This tomb of a city will be my key to unlocking an army even Tao Zento will fear!” Lothor jumped from the rooftop with a powerful leap that landed him in the middle of a former park.

 

Twisted, barren trees reached towards the skies like necrotic fingers pleading for an end to their torment. Patches of dead grass dotted the dirt ground.

 

Lothor pulled a black dagger from his belt and cut a small wound across his palm. He made a fist with his injured hand and squeezed, so drops of blood spattered on the dirt beneath his feet. 

 

The villain muttered an incantation in a language known only in the Shadow World. Known only in Hell.

 

The winds intensified, whipping Lothor’s dark cloak and nearly knocking the villain from his feet. Shadows slithered across the ground like snakes and started to circle around Lothor.

 

A rasping voice whispered from the shadows. “Why have you disturbed us…”

 

Lothor smiled at the display of power around him. “It’s quite simple. I have come to set you free onto the rest of the world.”

 

“We are bound to this land, and this land alone,” the voice whispered, its pain intensifying with every word. “Leave us, or we will wrench your soul from your body.”

 

“That’s no way to treat a guest, now, is it?” Lothor showed no fear. “Especially not one who can free you from this place.”

 

“Impossible…” The wind intensified into a mighty burst that smashed Lothor off his feet and sent him flying backward. The villain smashed through a tree trunk that shattered upon impact.

 

Lothor slowly climbed to his feet and watched a figure materialize from the wind. The being was made of pure energy and wore dark-silver armor over its arms, legs and chest. A black transparent cape swirled around his body as if alive. It had no visible face features except for two red slits that served as eyes.

 

“Wait,” Lothor lifted his hand. “Hear me out. If nothing else, it will serve as amusement for what I am sure has become a boring existence.”

 

The arcane creature paused and said nothing. Lothor wondered if the being might strike him down and prepared to defend himself. Then the being of energy tilted its head slightly downward. “Speak…we will listen.”

 

***

 

Justin and Rachel met after school and walked back towards the Hayate Way.

 

“So what do you thinks bothering him?” Justin asked of Simon.

 

Rachel shook her head. “I don’t know. I think part of it is he’s way too hard on himself. I’ve tried talking to him about it, but he can be so stubborn sometimes.”

 

Their communicators toned. Justin activated his. “Go ahead.”

 

“We found out what those seeds are…sort of,” Tommy said through the communicator. “Jakanja is apparently trying to grow a giant mutant plant. Ashley managed to track the bio signature of the main spore. It’s in a bathhouse around 16th and College in Angel Grove North.”

 

Justin wrinkled his nose in disgust. “That neighborhood is about as ghetto as you can get.”

 

“The bad guys are never picky,” Tommy said. “I’ll have Simon meet you there.”

 

***

 

Simon sat in his principal’s office after school. He sulked low in his chair and anxiously tapped his pencil against his leg.

 

The principal, Mr. Caplin, had Simon’s file on his desk. “I’m afraid you’re in a rather serious situation here. Today is the sixth time recently you’ve been caught skipping class.”

 

“At least I came back.”

 

“Be that as it may, I’m afraid you’re facing suspension, unless-”

 

“Great.”

 

Simon’s genuine sincerity threw the principal off. Mr. Caplin shook his head. “I don’t think you understand the-”

 

Simon’s communicator toned. “Mr. Caplin I have to go-”

 

“No, we’re not finished here.”

 

Simon stood from his seat. “You said you were going to suspend me, so suspend me.”

 

“If you do not sit back down in that chair young man, I will double the length of your suspension.”

 

Simon shrugged. “Anyway you can you triple it?”

 

Mr. Caplin narrowed his eyes.

 

*** 

 

Tommy and Ashley sat in front of the computer terminal at Ops. The seed was in a small glass contaminate block nearby. The glass was lined with digital sensors that Ashley was using to scan the seed.

 

“This next round of tests should be done in a few minutes,” Ashley said. She noticed that Tommy merely nodded. “You want to tell me what’s wrong?”

 

“It’s Simon,” Tommy said. “I don’t like what’s happening to him.”

 

Ashley placed her hand on Tommy’s and gave it a gentle squeeze. “You weren’t exactly Mr. Chipper when I first met you.”

 

“That was different though,” Tommy said. He shook his head. “I don’t know. I just don’t want him to end up in his mid 20s without a college degree and forced to live in a martial arts school.”

 

Ashley sighed and shook her head. “Tommy, I love you so much, but sometimes I just want to slap you.”

 

“What’d I do this time?”

 

“It’s not too late you know,” she said. “You can go back to college and get a degree. You can have a real career.”

 

Tommy shook his head. “I’m a Master now. That’s pretty much a full-time job. Plus I have to get this school back on it’s feet, and I have Tyler to look after.”

 

“You make time for the things that are important to you,” Ashley said. “You always have. So make going back to school a priority, and you’ll find a way to make it work.”

 

Tommy shrugged. “I don’t even know what I would study, or…what I want to be.”

 

“Well you like teaching here at the school, so get a teaching degree,” Ashley suggested.

 

“What would I teach? Monster slaying isn‘t a course.”

 

“One thing at time,” Ashley said.

 

The glass containment block suddenly shattered, and the seed sprouted vines that thrashed sporadically around Ops. Tommy pushed Ashley away from the vines and armed his sword Ryuuseikin with a flash of golden light.

 

Tommy slashed through the vines, but several more sprouted and slithered around the room. For every vine he hacked away, five or six more lashed out from another direction.

 

***

 

Justin and Rachel approached the bath house in the midst of an impoverished part of Angel Grove. Several buildings in the area were abandoned with their windows boarded shut. And trash cluttered the alleyways.

 

“We can’t exactly just walk in,” Justin said. “We need to be careful.”

 

Rachel nodded in agreement. “We’ll just sneak in the back. Assuming there’s a place to actually sneak through. I’m sure there must be a back door or window or something.”

 

Justin and Rachel found a backdoor that opened to a stairwell leading into the basement. They hesitantly walked downward towards the dimly-lit area.

 

Justin sighed. “God I hope a monster’s down there and not…well…you know what happens in bath houses, I mean, come on, a monster’s gotta be better than that.”

 

The two teens stepped onto a basement floor that was covered with tiles. A small tub was in the center of the basement, and a large plant-like pod filled the tub. The spore emitted a gas so pungent it nearly knocked the two rangers off their feet.

 

Justin covered his nose with his sleeve and gagged. “Man, that is ripe!”

 

The flower-monster Hannasaka stepped out from the shadows. “Nice to see you again rangers…you are just in time to see my child’s birth.”

 

Justin snapped into a defensive stance. “That doesn’t sound-”

 

The spore exploded into a tangled web of vines that grew giant sized and smashed through the ceiling, extending upward through the building. The force of the explosion knocked the rangers backward while they armed their morphers.

 

“Ninjetti Change!” they morphed into their armor just as several vines wrapped around their bodies and dangled them several stories above street level. The main spore had grown to a size that demolished the bath house and both its neighboring buildings.

 

The vines pinned the Rangers’ arms down and tightened around their chests. They would have screamed if they had enough breath.

 

Simon dashed to the scene just in time to see his friends flailed about the vines.

 

“Hold on guys!” Simon shouted while he armed his morpher.

 

“Senpu…Ninjetti Change! Ha!” he morphed into his armor and summoned his weapon. “Hawk Blaster!”

 

Hurricane Red fired a pulse beam of twirling red energy that splashed harmlessly across the creature’s vines.

 

The Red Ranger lowed his weapon and inspected the blaster with disbelief. “This thing didn’t even make a scratch…”

 

A vine thrashed out and whipped across Hurricane Red’s chest with a burst of spark, knocking the Ranger off his feet. The Red Ranger crashed against the ground and rolled across the pavement. He stumbled to his feet and leaned back against a wall to recover his balance.

 

Hurricane Red raised his communicator to his faceplate. “Tommy, Ashley, my blaster can’t break through these vines!”

 

He hated feeling powerless. He had to do something to save his friends, and he had to act quickly before they were crushed. Hurricane Red rolled his hands into tight fists.

 

Tommy’s voice came through the communicator. “We kind of have a situation here…hold on.”

 

“Hold on?! Tommy they’re going to get killed!”

 

***

 

Vines wrapped around Ashley and pinned her against the wall. Nearby, Tommy hacked another trio of vines away to his left while spinning away from a trio of vines to his right.

 

“Tommy take out the spore!” Ashley shouted.

 

Tommy rolled across the ground and rose into a crouched fighting stance. He thrust his right hand towards the spore and shouted “Ki!”

 

An invisible blast of Kiryoku smashed through the spore with a splash of green goop. The vines fell lifelessly to the floor and disintegrated.

 

Ashley immediately walked towards her computer while stepping across plant residue that stuck to the bottom of her shoes. She looked to Tommy. “You are so cleaning this mess up.”

 

***

 

Hurricane Red rolled beneath a vine that lashed overhead. The Red Ranger rose into a crouched fighting stance as Ashley’s voice came through his communicator.

 

“Simon, I’m uploading a program to your saber that will increase the blade’s tensile strength,” Ashley said. “Once you activate the program, just channel your Ki into the  blade.”

 

“Right.” Hurricane Red unsheathed his saber. He pushed a small red button on his hilt and downloaded the program into his sword, which pulsed with blue power as tendrils of electricity traced along the blade.

 

Hurricane Red focused his Kiryoku and channeled that energy through the saber blade. He swung the weapon over his shoulder and crouched down to pounce towards the giant vine creature.

 

“Air Style! Blade Storm Jutsu!” Hurricane Red pounced towards the creature. He dashed back and forth through the air, between the vines, while swinging his sword through streaks of energy that slashed through the vines with bursts of spark.

 

The saber tore through the creature’s limbs with violent force as Hurricane Red leapt closer to the main body of the mutated plant.

 

“Ha!” The Red Ranger dashed back and forth across the main flower, hacking it to shreds. Its mutated petals fell to the ground, and the plant exploded with bursts of spark, scattering plant ichor across the streets.  

 

The creature’s vines disintegrated. Hurricane Yellow and Hurricane Blue crashed against the pavement with a force that knocked them out of their Ranger forms. Hurricane Red ran to their side. 

 

“What took so long,” Justin asked while he rose and helped Rachel to her feet.

 

“I was getting suspended,” Hurricane Red said. “At least I won’t have to worry about school getting in the way of being a Ranger for a while.”

 

Rachel shook her head. “Yeah, I’m sure your parents will see it that way,” she said sarcastically. “Simon, this is serious.”

 

“Uh, guys,” Justin pointed towards a nearby alley where Hannasaka had appeared. “Monster now, lectures later.”

 

“Spore swarm!” Hannasaka fired a cloud of spores that exploded around Hurricane Red, Justin, and Rachel with bursts of spark. When the sparks cleared, the Rangers were gone.

 

Three streaks of motion suddenly knocked Hannasaka off his feet and dashed towards the top of a nearby ledge. The creature rose to its feet and looked up to see the three Rangers staring down at him.

 

The Rangers snapped into their 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.

 

The Rangers and monster charged at each other to attack. Their streaks of motion dashed back and forth through the streets before landing at a nearby warehouse district.

 

The Rangers came at the monster from all sides and slashed their swords across the creature, blades sparking on impact. But the monster knocked the Rangers’ weapons aside and slashed its claws across their armor with bursts of spark, knocking the Rangers off their feet and sending them rolling across the pavement. 

 

Hannasaka lashed out with several vines that wrapped across Hurricane Red’s neck and body. The villain pulled the Red Ranger off the ground and swung him at Hurricane Yellow and Hurricane Blue. The Red Ranger crashed against his teammates, and they fell backward against the ground.

 

The three Rangers regrouped while Hannasaka stalked towards them.

 

“Spore swarm!” the monster fired a cloud of spores that exploded around the Rangers with bursts of spark. But when the sparks cleared, the Rangers’ empty uniforms fell to the ground.

 

Hannasaka narrowed his eyes. “What is this trick…”

 

“Ha!” Hurricane Yellow swung through the air on a grappling line and slashed the monster across the chest, blade sparking on impact.

 

“Ha!” Hurricane Blue swung from the opposite side of the monster. She slashed her sword across the creature with a burst of spark.

 

Hurricane Red somersaulted through the air with his sword in hand. “Air Style! Whirlwind Strike Jutsu!”

 

The Red Ranger slammed a flying kick against the monster’s chest, and the impact sent the two opponents flying backward through the air. The Red Ranger kept his foot planted on the creature’s chest while he swung his sword in a butterfly pattern, blade slashing across the monster’s body with bursts of spark upon impact.

 

Hannasaka crashed against the pavement as smoke rose from his damaged armor.

 

The Rangers regrouped and armed their weapons.

 

“Hawk Blaster!” Hurricane Red shouted.

 

“Lion Hammer!” Hurricane Yellow twirled his hammer-ended staff.

 

“Sonic Fin!” Hurricane Blue shouted.

 

“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 of crackling energy that ripped through Hannasaka and exploded, tearing the villain to shreds, and consuming his body with flame.

 

***

 

Kapri launched a scroll with the enlargement spell. The scroll shot through the air, unfolded, and expanded to giant size. Ancient markings on the scroll glowed with dark power that attracted the dusty remains of Chubo’s flower monster.

 

The monster resurrected as a towering giant.

 

Hurricane Red lifted his Gyro Morpher closer to his faceplate. “Storm-zords, mobilize!” The Storm-zords charged into battle while passing through a trio of holographic entry portals. The Rangers leapt into their cockpits. “Storm-zords assemble!” Hurricane Red shouted. “Whirlwind fusion!”

 

The three zords transformed and started to combine. The lion zord formed the chest, body, left arm, and legs. The dolphin formed the Megazord’s right arm, and the hawk flew in and formed the head.

 

“StormMegazord!” Hurricane Red shouted from his cockpit. “Senpuujin!”

 

The Rangers immediately commanded their Megazord to power up its reflexes and speed. “StormMegazord, lightening up!”

 

The Megazord’s armor retracted and folded back, decreasing its own density to form a slender humanoid robo.

 

“Senpuujin, lightening mode!” the Rangers shouted.

 

StormMegazord leapt straight up into the air with its crescent blades held outward. The blades extended, transforming into a razor-edged wheel that surrounded Senpuujin. StormMegazord started to spin like a saw.

 

“StormMegazord, Gyro Assault!” The Megazord spun and shot towards the creature with a massive burst of energy. The Megazord’s blades slashed across the monster’s chest, knocking the creature backward and sending it smashing onto a warehouse that collapsed from the impact.

 

The Megazord powered down to its heavy-armored form. 

 

Hannasaka crawled to his feet and stalked towards the Megazord. Vines started slithering from the monster’s body as if to snap forward and attack.

 

Megazord turned its lion shoulder towards the creature.

 

“Lion Tornado Blast!” the Rangers shouted. The Lion zord’s turbine mane started to spin and gather tendrils of energy.

 

Hurricane Lion shot a powerful straight-line cyclone that kicked up piles of dirt and debris and fired spears of yellow energy. The energy cyclone exploded against Hannasaka, knocking the creature backward and tearing the armor from his body.

 

“Power Disc,” Hurricane Red inserted a disc into his console. “Lock…and drop.”

 

StormMegazord’s chest plate opened, and a Power Sphere hovered out. The Sphere itself opened, and the Megazord’s saber formed.

 

“Serpent Sword!” Hurricane Red shouted.

 

The monster stumbled towards the Megazord.

 

“Serpent Sword, Triple Strike!” Hurricane Red shouted.

 

The Megazord emitted two holographic duplicates that stood by the original’s sides. The blade of each Megazord saber energized and slashed one-by-one through the villain.

 

See ya!” Hurricane Red shouted.

 

The monster’s energy overloaded and exploded.

 

***

 

An army of arcane and shadow creatures surrounded Lothor. The villain smiled, revealing his jagged teeth.

 

The silver-armored being of energy called Kurenai stepped up behind Lothor. “We have assembled. Now to fulfill your end of the bargain.”

 

“Of course,” Lothor said. “First we must-”

 

A pile of rocks slid down a toppled building nearby. A young woman fell down a pile of rubble and crashed against the ground below. She had obviously been eavesdropping and slipped in the process.

 

Her eyes opened wide with fear when she realized she had been spotted. It was Maya, Simon’s sister by adoption.

 

“Well, well,” Lothor said at the site of the helpless girl. “I do love company.”

 

To be continued…Chapter 06