Wind and Thunder: Chapter Six
The Power of Thunder
Maya dashed around a gutted building and tried to run from Lothor, but a pair of arcane creatures materialized in front of her to cut off her escape. She skid to a halt and collapsed on the pavement.
The creatures looked similar to mummies, with bandages wrapped around bodies of pure arcane power. They carried dark-silver spears and wore plates of black armor across their shoulders and forearms.
“Now, now,” Lothor called from behind her. “It’s impolite to run off without introducing yourself.”
One of the arcane creatures pounced forward and lifted Maya by the throat.
Lothor stepped closer to her and smiled. “It seems I’ve found the bait I need for a small distraction. Nothing like a helpless girl to get Tommy’s little whelps off my back.”
Simon snapped a kick that Tommy blocked and followed with a backfist that Tommy swept aside. The teenager narrowed his eyes and charged at his mentor with a renewed sense of fervor. He was determined to win this match. He was determined to make himself stronger.
The two circled around each other in the sparring yard outside the Hayate Way.
Simon tried not to think of how empty the yard was. He tried not to remember that all students except himself and the other rangers were gone. But he could not shake the images of Lothor’s initial attack, just like he could not forget the carnage of the Mogralord battles.
How many people have already died…and how many more will…he intensified his attack, striking relentlessly with a series of kicks and punches. His style was the same as Tommy’s Hakkyokuseiken, a blend of Dragon-Fist kung-fu, American karate, Tae Kwan-do, and ninjutsu.
Simon snapped a roundhouse kick that Tommy ducked beneath while leg sweeping his student to the ground. Simon growled with frustration and flipped back to his feet.
“You’re not focusing,” Tommy said.
“You say that every time.” Simon snapped a jumpkick.
Tommy blocked. “It’s true every time.”
Simon launched a flurry of punches and backfist strikes. “Sorry I’m not perfect.”
“I’m not asking you to be perfect.” Tommy blocked the blow and snapped a spinning sidekick towards Simon’s head. “I’m just asking you to focus.”
Simon sidestepped, narrowed his eyes, and thrust his arms forward. “Ki!”
An invisible energy pulse skid Tommy backward, but the former ranger stayed on his feet. Simon lunged forward with a punch towards Tommy’s midsection. Tommy grabbed Simon’s arm and flipped the teenage overhead.
Simon crashed onto the ground.
“What was that about?” Tommy asked.
“What was what about?” Simon climbed back to his feet.
“That Ki blast,” Tommy said. “This was a sparring match. That means no powers.”
Simon shrugged. “So I got a little carried away. That’s what happens when you keep pushing me.”
“I’m trying to help you.”
“Did Zordon try to help you by critiquing your every move?”
Tommy and Simon failed to notice Justin walk onto the sparring field. Justin cleared his throat to get their attention. “So yeah,” Justin said. “Sorry to interrupt this student/teacher bonding fest, but we have a couple visitors. They said their names are Kouishiro and Shou.”
Kouishiro and Shou were anxiously pacing across the floor in Ops when Tommy and Simon walked in. Tommy had only met Kouishiro a few times, but he had never seen the former Kamen Rider Kuuga so panicked.
“Tommy,” Kouishiro said. “We need your help.”
Shou, the former Guyver, nodded in agreement. “Fast.”
“What’s going on?” Tommy asked.
Kouishiro’s gaze drifted to Simon. “It’s Maya…”
Kouishiro and Shou explained how they had accompanied Maya on an expedition to the outskirts of Demon City. Maya was anxious to study the demonic ruins left behind as part of a comparative study to other ruins she had visited across the globe.
The two young men protested her wishes to go deeper into Demon City. But Maya didn’t listen. She snuck ahead without them in the middle of the night. Kouishiro and Shou tracked her signal the next morning, but lost contact with her in the midst of several dozen creatures of arcane and shadow energy.
“Without our powers,” Kouishiro explained, “we wouldn’t have lasted a second against those…things.”
Shou knitted his brow. Tommy could tell the former Guyver was reluctant to leave Maya behind.
“They had her captive,” Shou said. “And they were moving. Our original plan was for me to stay and follow them while Kouishiro found you…but a small group of them chased us off. We lost track of the main group.”
“There’s no telling where they are now,” Kouishiro said.
Simon rolled his hands into fists and headed towards the door. “I’m going to find her.”
Tommy turned towards his student. “Simon-”
“She’s my sister!” Simon snapped.
“I know, but barging into Demon City without a plan will just get you killed,” Tommy said. “There’s still some patches of interference all across that area, where you won’t be able to use your communicator or call for your zord. And we wouldn’t be able to track you if you ran into trouble in those spots.”
Kouishiro nodded in agreement. “Tommy’s right. Our first step needs to be finding out where Maya is. Demon City is a big place.”
Simon shook his head. “But what if…”
“She was alive,” Shou said. “Which means they want to keep her that way for some reason.”
Justin and Rachel were lingering back at the doorway to Ops. Justin spoke up for the first time since they arrived. “Do you think Lothor is behind this somehow?”
As if on cue, the main computer monitor in Ops sizzled with static. The static slowly cleared, revealing Lothor’s face.
“Can you hear me now?” the villain laughed. “This message is for you, Dragon Ranger…I made a few new friends in Demon City. I know how much you love a damsel in distress, so I had them capture a young lady. Have your Rangers save her if you can.”
The image went static and faded to a brief shot of Maya surrounded by arcane and shadow creatures. Then the screen went blank.
Simon’s hands had clenched into fists so tight, his knuckled turned white. Rachel laid a hand on his shoulder to calm him. “It’s okay…we’re going to get her back.”
“We still don’t know where to start looking,” Simon said.
Justin nodded. “And it’s obviously a trap.”
“Ashley,” Tommy said. “See if you can find out how Lothor hacked onto our network. Maybe we can trace the signal back to where they’re holding Maya.”
Ashley nodded. Her fingers danced across the keyboard. “I’m already on it.” She shook her head. “But I can’t even find any sign that he was actually on the network.”
Lothor stood on the bridge of his ship. He lowered his hand back down to his side, and a sphere of shadow power vanished from in front of his face. He had used the sphere as part of a spell to send his message to Tommy.
The spell was difficult to weave with the interference of Demon City, so he had returned to his ship to cast it.
“Excellent,” Lothor said. “That should keep those Ranger whelps busy for a while.” He turned towards Chubo. “Where is Hogger?”
Chubo waddled towards his master. “I summoned him, master, he should be-”
A giant lid suddenly materialized over the villains. The lid slid open, revealing an energy vortex that spat out an armored creature who landed on the deck. The creature had the face of a hog with a white beard. Its helmet resembled a lidded pot, and similar armor wrapped around his shoulders and chest.
Lothor snorted. He was unimpressed. “I never thought I’d actually find a use for you…but your day has come, pig. Your gateways are the key to releasing my new army from Demon City.”
Hogger snorted a growl. “And the Rangers will-”
“No,” Lothor protested. “No, no. Absolutely not; the Rangers would kill you in an instant, you pathetic fool. Just release my army while the Rangers are distracted elsewhere.”
The doors to the bridge slid open and Centhrax hovered through. “I found them! I found the two I sensed! They’re here!”
Lothor and his minions looked towards the entrance and saw two figures standing in the darkness with their arms crossed over their chests. They wore Ranger armor, similar to the Hurricane team, only darker. One wore crimson and had the symbol of a horned beetle. The other wore navy and had the symbol of a stag beetle.
Lothor’s eyes flared. “Rangers?! You brought Rangers here!”
“Relax, old man,” the crimson-armored Ranger said.
Lothor charged a bolt of dark-purple arcane power in his palm. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t blast a hole through both of you.”
The navy-armored Ranger snorted. “Like you could.”
Zergain unsheathed his swords. “I will deal with these insects, master.”
“Wait!” Centhrax shrieked. “These are the two that I sensed! They are the Thunder Rangers! They are not our enemies.”
Crimson Thunder declined his head. “We’re not your allies either.”
Lothor wrinkled his nose with disgust. “Of course not. You’re human. What would we want with a couple of humans dressed like bugs.”
“Hmph,” Crimson Thunder turned to leave, and his partner followed. “You’ll see…we‘ll show you what real power can do.”
Zergain leaned forward, ready to attack at his master’s command. But no such command came. “Surely you won’t let them just leave, master?”
Lothor glared at his minion. “Are you questioning me, Zergain?”
Zergain took a step back. “No master…I only just…that is to say I…”
“These Thunder Rangers intrigue me…” Lothor looked towards the direction where the Thunders had left. “Let’s see what they’ll do.” The villain turned towards Hogger. “In the meantime, start unleashing my new army.”
The alarm blared in Ops. Ashley activated the main computer monitor and pulled up an image of Hogger on a rooftop in Angel Grove South.
Ashley started an analysis of the creature. “He’s part of Jakanja’s Bio Corps.”
Simon cursed beneath his breath. “We don’t have time for this.”
Hogger placed his right fist against his left palm and closed his eyes. “Cosmic Gateways!”
Three lidded gateways appeared hovering in the air above the city. The lids swung open, and dozens of arcane and shadow creatures spilled out onto the streets.
Kouishiro opened his eyes wide at the site of the creatures on Ashley’s monitor. “Those are the same creatures that have Maya.”
“How is that possible?” Tommy asked. “They shouldn’t be able to leave Demon City.”
“What are they?” Justin asked.
“Voidwalkers and Nexus Raiders,” Tommy explained. “Creatures of shadow energy and arcane energy.”
Simon’s face lit up with determination. “If we can get through one of those gates, maybe we’ll end up where they have Maya.”
Justin shook his head. “You can’t just jump into one of those things.”
“Watch me,” Simon said.
“But what about the attack?” Rachel asked. “We have to stop that pig and close his portals.”
“We’ll split up,” Simon said.
“No,” Tommy said. He leaned closer to a cluster of sensor readings scrolling across the bottom of Ashley’s screen. “There may be a way to stop the monster, close his portals, and rescue Maya at the same time.”
Three Nexus Raiders leapt onto a moving taxi and speared their staves through the roof. The taxi swerved out of control and smashed into a parked car along the city streets.
Citizens ran in panic while four Voidwalkers floated across the streets and hurled bolts of shadow energy. The blasts exploded through nearby cars and building fronts.
The Power Rangers suddenly leapt into the midst of the carnage.
Hurricane Red landed on the hood of the taxi. A Nexus Raider swung its spear at the Ranger’s head, but Hurricane Red smacked the spear away and smashed a sidekick against the grunt’s face.
The Red Ranger stepped forward with a spinning hook kick that bashed the second Raider off the cab, and snapped that leg into a roundkick against the last Raider’s face.
Nearby, Hurricane Yellow smashed a tornado kick across a Voidwalker’s elongated head.
The Yellow Ranger unsheathed his sword and slashed a powerful horizontal strike across the second Voidwalker.
Close by, Hurricane Blue smashed a crescent kick across a Voidwalker’s head and spun forward, smashing an elbow against the creature’s midsection.
Another Voidwalker hovered towards her, but she smashed a spin kick across its head.
The portals above spilled another group of creatures that plummeted towards the streets.
Hurricane Red looked towards the rooftops where Hogger awaited. “Let’s move up.”
The Rangers leapt into streaks of motion that ricocheted off two buildings while moving upward towards Hogger. The Rangers landed on the rooftop and faced off with the creature.
Hogger squealed with agitation. “You’re not supposed to be here!”
Hurricane Yellow stepped back into a fighting stance. “Sorry to disappoint you.”
“Now!” Hurricane Red shouted. “Wind Gliders!”
The Rangers dashed forward and activated their gliders, which formed on their backs. The gilders gave them a burst of momentum, enough to smash against Hogger and push him through the air towards one of his portals.
The Rangers and Hogger plummeted through the portal.
The portals’ lids slammed shut behind them.
“They’re through,” Ashley said. Tommy, Kouishiro, and Shou watched her computer monitors from behind her chair. “The portals are closed without the monster there to anchor them.”
“Can you get a reading on Simon and the others?” Tommy asked.
Ashley nodded. “Barely. The trace was just strong enough for me to track before the portals closed.” She pulled up a new video feed. “They landed in an area where the interference isn’t too strong for a signal.”
The computer tuned in to a scene of Demon City.
Crossing through the portal knocked Simon and the others out of their armor. They tumbled across the war-torn ground of Demon City, and Hogger crashed onto the streets nearby.
Simon slowly climbed to his feet. He tried to ignore the wave of nausea that passing through the portal seemed to cause him. He heard Justin moan to his right.
“Well, ya know…” Justin tried to keep his balance while standing. “I can’t believe we-”
His breath caught in his throat at the sight around him. This was his and Rachel’s first time inside Demon City. The crimson sky above was veiled with dark clouds. Rubble and debris scattered across the streets, which were hardly recognizable.
Rachel gasped at the site. “My god…I didn‘t think it was this…” She shook her head. “I saw it on TV but never thought…all these people.”
Simon looked to the distance and saw Maya, bound and gagged, and guarded by about 12 Nexus Raiders. The arcane creatures’ leader, Kurenai, stood among them.
“Maya!” Simon shouted.
He started to run towards his sister, but Hogger blocked his path. The three rangers regrouped and armed their wrist braces.
“It’s morphin time!” Simon shouted. “Senpu… Ninjetti change! Ha!”
Powerful cyclones of energy circled around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms. Their armor assembled, and 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.
The Rangers somersaulted through the air to attack.
Hurricane Red leapt towards the creature and swung his blade towards its head. But the monster caught the sword and used it to fling Hurricane Red overhead.
The Red Ranger crashed against the ground and rolled into a crouched fighting position while his teammates surrounded the monster. The three Rangers switched their swords and scabbards to rifle mode.
“Storm Blasters, fire!” Hurricane Red shouted.
They fired spears of golden energy that exploded across the villain’s armor with bursts of spark. The villain squirmed and stumbled backward, but vanished from sight in the blink of an eye.
Hurricane Red lifted his rifle. “What the-”
Hogger reappeared on a toppled building nearby. The villain looked down at the Rangers and laughed. “Let me show you what real fire power is like!”
The villain smacked his right fist against his left palm. “Cosmic gateway!”
A lidded gateway appeared in the middle of the sky and swung open. Flares of fiery energy shot forth and exploded around the Rangers with tremendous power that scorched the earth around them.
Tommy leaned over from behind Ashley at her computer terminal. “What’s on the other side of that portal?”
Ashley’s fingers dashed across her keyboard. She pulled up an image that estimated the location of the other side of the portal. “The portal opens up into space…it’s actually sucking in solar flares from the sun.”
Tommy bit back a curse. “Well that’s cute.”
Solar flares tore across the landscape and sent the Rangers flying through the air. The portal slammed shut, and heavy smoke lingered around them.
Hogger leapt down onto street while the three Rangers regrouped. The villain unsheathed his sword and swung the blade towards the pavement. “Sword Cutter!”
The blade produced an energy wave that ripped across the street and passed the Rangers while exploding beneath their feet.
Hogger snorted a laugh and stalked towards the Rangers. The villain pulled a massive lid-shaped blade from his back and hurled it towards the Rangers.
The Rangers stumbled to their feet as the lid spun towards them. Hurricane Red stepped back into a fighting stance. “Guys, give me a boost.”
Hurricane Yellow and Hurricane Blue locked their arms together. The Red Ranger leapt onto their arms as they pushed up and hurled him forward.
Hurricane Red landed on top of the lid and used his momentum to spin the disc back towards its owner.
“Ha!” The Red Ranger kicked off the lid, and it spun towards the monster. The lid crashed against Hogger with a burst of spark, knocking the creature off its feet.
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 Hogger and exploded, tearing the villain to shreds and consuming his body with flame.
The Rangers lowered their Storm Striker.
Bolts of navy-tinted thunder suddenly exploded around them, showering their armor with bursts of spark and knocking them off their feet.
The Rangers slowly pulled themselves off the ground and looked up. The Thunder Rangers stood with their backs towards the Power Rangers and their arms casually crossed over their chests.
Thunder Crimson looked over his shoulder towards the Power Rangers. He unsheathed his Thunder Staff and turned towards his enemies. Navy Thunder did the same.
Hurricane Blue shook her head in disbelief. “Their armor…it’s like ours…”
The Thunders dashed into blurs of motion and streaked past the Rangers repeatedly, slashing them across their armor with bursts of spark before they could defend themselves.
The Power Rangers crashed to the ground, wisps of smoke rising from their armor.
The Thunder Rangers sheathed their staffs and stalked a few paces towards the Rangers before stopping. Unimpressed, they looked down at their fallen opponents.
Hurricane Red climbed back to his feet. “Who the hell are you guys? Some of Billy’s toy soldiers?”
Hurricane Yellow shook his head. “They’re Jakanja.”
Navy Thunder snorted a laugh. “Idiots.”
Hurricane Red unsheathed his sword. “Air Style! Air Gallop Jutsu!”
The Red Ranger leapt forward and dashed across the air towards his opponents.
Thunder Navy leapt through the air with a flying sidekick that smashed against Hurricane Red. The Thunder Navy Ranger snapped a volley of sidekicks while gliding forward and pushing the Red Ranger back through the air. The kicks smashed repeatedly against Hurricane Red’s chest.
Lothor watched the battle through a viewscreen of black flame on the bridge of his ship. His minions gathered behind him to watch too.
“Where did these runts come from?” Lothor wished he would have questioned them further. But he had been too obsessed with unleashing his army from Demon City. He looked over his shoulder. “Centhrax! That was a question!”
“They found me, master, when I left the ship to meditate on my vision,” Centhrax answered. “They have great power.”
“I can see that.” Lothor turned back towards the viewing portal. “Power I must have under my command.”
Navy Thunder casually swung his staff over his shoulder, and Crimson Thunder held his staff down at his side. They stalked towards the fallen Rangers and stopped a few meters away while looking down at them.
“You want to know who we are?” Thunder Crimson spoke with a voice void of any warmth or emotion. “We’re the Thunder Rangers.”
“Of the Ikkazuchi Way,” Navy Thunder added.
“The Ikkazuchi?!” Hurricane Red stumbled to his feet.
Ashley shook her head with disbelief. “The Ikkazuchi?”
“That’s not possible.” Tommy leaned closer to the computer monitor, which showed the Thunders fighting against the Power Rangers. “The Ikkazuchi can’t make Ranger powers. Billy and I are the only ones capable of doing that.”
“You don’t think Billy would…”
Tommy narrowed his eyes. “I don’t know anymore, Ash…”
Crimson Thunder inclined his head. “I hope you’re watching this, Jakanja…this is our power.”
The Thunders held their staffs outward and charged to attack.
“Their styles match the Ikkazuchi,” Tommy said as he watched further. “But it still doesn’t add up. Are they fakes? Maybe Lothor made some doppelganger Rangers.”
Ashley looked over a small sensor display. “They’re definitely human, and they’re channeling The Power.”
Tommy noticed that each Thunder Ranger practiced one of the Ikkazuchi Way’s two fighting styles, much as each Power Ranger practiced one of the Hayate Way’s three fighting styles.
Thunder Crimson fought with the Kukishin style, a mix of Jow-Ga Kung Fu, taijutsu, ninjutsu, bojutsu and an ancient form of karate.
Thunder Navy fought with the Jinenkan style, a mix of Zui Quan Kung Fu, koppojutsu, ninjutsu, bojutsu and judo.
Both were taught the Ikkazuchi’s specialty form of naginatajutsu, the art of wielding bladed staffs.
Hurricane Red crashed to the ground. Thunder Crimson stood over his opponent and placed his staff’s blade against the Red Ranger’s neck.
Hurricane Blue and Hurricane Yellow fell onto their backs, as Navy Thunder held his staff down on their necks.
The Thunders lifted their weapons to finish off the Power Rangers.
But blasts of arcane power suddenly erupted around them, hurling the Rangers off the ground.
The Thunder Rangers quickly rolled back to their feet and looked to see an army of shadow and arcane creatures swarm across the war-torn streets.
Thunder Crimson and Navy Thunder leapt backward in a streak of motion and landed on top of a nearby rubble power, clear of the enemy creatures’ path.
Hurricane Red and the Power Rangers turned to face the army.
Hurricane Yellow unsheathed his sword. “We can’t go up against that many.”
Hurricane Red shook his head. “We just need to get through them, get Maya, and get out.”
“Got a plan?” The Yellow Ranger asked.
Hurricane Red unsheathed his sword. “I’ll go in over them, you go in below them; we’ll cut a path.” He turned to Hurricane Blue. “You move in behind us and get Maya. As soon as you have her, we’ll jump clear.”
“What about the Thunders?” Hurricane Blue asked.
“No time for them,” Hurricane Red said. He tightened his grip on his sword. “Let’s take care of business…”
Hurricane Yellow placed his right fist against his left palm. “Earth Style! Tunneling Jutsu!”
The Yellow Ranger bore into the ground like a drill. He shot forward, tunneling beneath the ground towards the army.
Hurricane Red placed his right fist against his left palm. “Air Style! Air Gallop Jutsu!”
The Red Ranger leapt forward and dashed across the air towards the army.
Hurricane Yellow tore across the streets below the creatures, tossing them off their feet with bursts of spark. While flailing through the air, they were cut down by Hurricane Red, who dashed across the wind towards his sister.
Hurricane Blue closed in from behind and leapt towards Maya. She grabbed the Red Ranger’s sister and jumped for cover on top of a nearby rooftop, where the other two Power Rangers joined her.
“Let’s get out of here,” Hurricane Red said. “Wind Gliders!”
The Rangers flew through the air, away from Demon City.
Nearby, the Thunder Rangers watched.
Later that day, Tommy sat next to Simon at Bear Lake. The two sat quietly for several moments before Tommy decided to break the awkward silence.
“That was a good maneuver,” Tommy said. “The way you and Justin cut through that army in Demon City. That‘s what you can do when you focus.”
Simon shrugged. “I would have done the same thing as a Gao Ranger.”
Tommy raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
“Yeah.“ No. Simon frowned. He didn’t want to admit Tommy had a point. As a Gao Ranger, Simon would have snarled like a beast and charged head-first through the enemy lines. “I’m just glad we got Maya back, that’s all.”
“Me too,” Tommy said.
“So…” Simon changed the subject. “The Thunder Rangers…any idea who they are?”
Tommy shook his head. “No. Their styles match the Ikkazuchi, same styles that Adam and Billy use.”
Adam was taught the Kukishin style during the few years he went to the Ikkazuchi. He left the school because of its less-than-honorable practices. Billy’s sensei had been a former pupil of the Ikkazuchi Way’s Jinenkan style.
“Don’t you think that’s a little weird?” Simon asked. “Those two have styles the same as Adam and Billy’s. My style is the same as yours. Justin’s is the same as Rocky’s. Rachel’s is the same as Kimberly’s.”
“There’s no such thing as coincidence,” Tommy said. “Fate weaves a pattern to everything, for everyone.”
“Except you, apparently,” Simon said. “You broke free from the strings of Fate.”
Simon referred to the final battle against the Mogralord. At the end of that battle, reality was destined to be destroyed and started anew as part of the never-ending Wheel of Time. But Tommy was powerful enough to break free from the strings of Fate and prevent the destruction of the universe.
“I didn’t break free entirely,” Tommy said. “I was meant to make these new Ranger powers, just as you, Justin, and Rachel were meant to have them. The Power still weaves a pattern around all of us.”
“But what about the Thunder Rangers’ powers?” Simon asked. “If you didn’t make them, do you think Billy did?”
“I don’t know,” Tommy said. “But I plan to ask. And he better have a good answer.”
To be continued…Chapter 07