Wind and Thunder: Chapter Nine

A Ghost’s Message

 

The ThunderMegazord stomped through the mountains at night. And Gourajin was not alone. The Megazord walked alongside another zord, the Zergainzord, which was piloted by Zergain.

 

“We’re close.“ Zergain watched strands of data scroll across his control monitor. “It’s around here somewhere…”

 

Navy Thunder surveyed the landscape through his cockpit’s visor control, which extended in front of his faceplate. “The mineral deposit should be in these mountains.”

 

“We’ll use the Spin Blade,” Crimson Thunder said.

 

ThunderMegazord gripped its weapon and swung downward to emit a twirling energy blade that tore through the mountains with a massive explosion. The blast kicked up debris and dust that shot through the air.

 

***

 

Lothor stood on the bridge along with Marah, Kapri, and Centhrax. They watched the ThunderMegazord and Zergainzord through a viewscreen that projected in midair. 

 

Centhrax hovered back and forth in front of the viewscreen while looking from different angles. Steam hissed from the cracks of his exoskeleton. He could not believe what his bug-eyes were seeing. “What is Zergain doing in a zord?”

 

Kapri rolled her eyes and swatted Centhrax aside. “Get out of the way.”

 

“Ye-ah,” Marah said. “You’re blocking our view.” She looked back to the viewscreen and smiled. Her face slightly blushed. “The Thunder Rangers are so amazing.”

 

“I know,” Kapri agreed. “And Zergain seems to be enjoying himself. He went all out.”

 

Centhrax shivered with agitation. “But how-”

 

Lothor waved him silent. “Zergain’s new robo is based on the Thunder Rangers’ specifications. They…requested it.”

 

Tao Zento had ordered Lothor to allow the Zergainzord’s construction, simply because the Thunders had asked for it, without explanation. Lothor was getting tired of letting the Thunder Rangers have their way. They were proving more of a hindrance than a help. And they were out of his control. He did not like things out of his control.

 

***

 

Crimson Thunder looked through his cockpit viewport towards the Zergainzord. “Do it.”

 

Zergainzord leaned forward as the arc on its back crackled with energy. The zord fired a bolt of power that splashed across the rocky debris with a burst of light and smoke. The blast crystallized a small portion of the debris into a palm-sized crystal.

 

Crimson Thunder, Navy Thunder, and Zergain leapt from their zords and landed on the ground near the crystal.

 

Crimson Thunder leaned down and picked up the yellow-tinted gem.

 

Navy Thunder shook his head with disbelief. “Seems like we went through a lot of trouble for a little rock.”

 

“This isn’t going to be enough,” Crimson Thunder said.

 

Zergain stepped closer to the Rangers. “What is it used for? Maybe I could manufacture and mass produce it.”

 

Navy Thunder snorted. “Don’t you think we would have done that if it was possible?”

 

Crimson Thunder looked to Zergain. “Just do your job.”

 

The Thunders leapt back into their cockpits. Zergain rolled his hands into fists and leapt back into his zord. ThunderMegazord and Zergainzord stomped off towards the distance.

 

They never noticed Chubo watching from the shadows.

 

***

 

The next day, Simon, Justin, and Rachel dashed across the Hayate Way sparring field towards their mentor to attack.

 

Justin launched a spinning heel kick that Tommy ducked under. Simon snapped a jumpkick that Tommy blocked. Rachel swung a palm-heel strike that Tommy blocked. Their mentor needed little effort to defend their attacks.

 

“Don’t just attack together.” Tommy blocked a kick from Simon. “Attack as a unit. A team. A triangle. It‘s the only way to beat the Thunders.”

 

Justin spun with a tornado kick that was easily evaded. “Sparring won’t exactly help us take down their new Megazord.”

 

“One thing at a time,” Tommy said as he blocked Rachel’s crescent kick. “Now focus. Learn to anticipate each others’ moves. Feel each others’ Ki.”

 

Ashley stepped out into the courtyard. “Tommy,” she said. “There’s something you should take a look at.”

 

***

 

Tommy and the rangers gathered around Ashley’s computer in Ops. Ashley pulled up an image of the mountains outside the city. The view showed a smoldering ruins where several mountains had once stood.

 

“What happened out there?” Tommy asked.

 

“The Jakanja went mining,” Ashley said. She pulled up a data analysis on one of her smaller computer screens. “I’m showing traces of a rare mineral that was only just discovered a few years back. The Ikkazuchi called it Shinobium.”

 

Justin wrinkled his brow. “Shinobium? Really?”

 

Tommy nodded. “According to what I’ve read, Ikkazuchi Valley used to be saturated with it. But the leaders of the school exhausted every last grain as an energy source.”

 

Simon’s eyes lit up. “Maybe that’s what the Thunders have been after. They could be trying to find more of this stuff to make some kind of weapon.”

 

“It’s possible,” Tommy said.

 

Ashley pulled up another window on her main computer screen. “I’ll see what else I can find out about Shinobium.”

 

Justin snickered at the name. Rachel playfully slapped him upside the head.

 

Ashley found an article on Shinobium that she pulled up on her screen. “It says that a sample of Shinobium is being studied by…the 3rd TOTAL R & D Lab.”

 

Tommy cursed beneath his breath. “Great.”

 

“What?” Justin asked.

 

“The 3rd TOTAL R & D Lab merged with INET a few years back,” Tommy said. “It’s part of Billy’s company.”

 

“Well if the Thunders are after more Shinobium,” Simon said, “that’s where they’ll go. So that‘s where we‘re going too.”

 

***

 

A pair of Silver Guardian soldiers stood on the rooftop of the 3rd TOTAL R & D Lab, on the far north side of Angel Grove. All INET’s laboratories were under the Silver Guardians’ protection.

 

Hunter and Blake suddenly dropped behind the soldiers and slammed knifehand chops against the back of their necks. The guards fell unconscious.

 

***

 

Dr. Manning walked down the stairwell of the 3rd TOTAL R & D Lab. He carried a small metal briefcase labeled “Shinobium Construct.” The doctor whistled to himself as he walked down the steps. His life had changed for the better during the past few months.

 

About two years ago, a monster terrorist from the future had attacked the lab and demanded its supply of Lambda 2000 crystals. He had thought he would die in the incident. He lived in constant fear for about a year and a half afterward, and was only able to return to work after extensive therapy.

 

Manning moved down towards the second-floor entrance and saw a young man step through the door. The stranger was dressed in black leather with crimson highlights. It was Hunter.

 

Hunter crossed his arms over his chest. “Hand over the case.”

 

Manning froze with fear. “It’s just a…I…That is to say, I…”

 

The doctor turned to flee up the stairs, but Blake stepped out from the third-floor entrance.

 

“There’s nowhere to run, doc,” Blake said. “Just hand over the case so I don’t have to knock you onto your ass.”

 

Dr. Manning swallowed the lump in his throat.

 

***

 

Simon, Justin, and Rachel dropped onto the roof of the 3rd TOTAL R & D Lab just as the alarms started to blare. They looked downward and spotted Hunter and Blake dashing away from the building.

 

“After them,” Simon said.

 

The rangers leapt down into the courtyard in front of the building. A single tree stood in the center of the courtyard, which was paved with white brick.

 

Five Silver Guardian jeeps swerved onto the courtyard and surrounded the rangers before they could pursue Blake and Hunter. The jeep doors swung open, and several dozen Silver Guardian soldiers fanned out and surrounded Simon, Justin, and Rachel. The soldiers aimed their weapons at the teens.

 

Simon narrowed his eyes. “They’re getting away, you idiots.”

 

The Silver Guardians spread out as their leader stepped forward. Wes Collins, the former Red Time Ranger, removed his sunglasses. “What do you three think you’re doing here?”

 

“Wes,” Simon said. “You just let the bad guys get away.”

 

Justin looked to his leader. “You know this guy?”

 

Simon nodded. “Former Ranger.”

 

Justin rolled his eyes. “Who isn’t.”

 

Wes stepped closer to Simon. “You seem to know who those two were…so start explaining.”

 

“We don’t have time for this,” Simon said.

 

“Then go ahead,” Wes said. “See if you can jump away faster than my men can shoot.”

 

“Boys,” Rachel said. “Tone down the testosterone.” She looked to Wes. “Those two who broke into your lab- the ones who got away, thank you for that- are the Thunder Rangers. They were after the Shinobium,” Justin snickered, “and we came to stop them.”

 

“You’re trespassing,” Wes said.

 

Simon sneered. “Is this really what you’ve been reduced to? Come on, Wes. Besides, we didn’t steal anything. They did.”

 

“Can we just talk about this?” Rachel asked. “Maybe we can help each other.”

 

Wes sighed. He looked to each of the rangers before signaling his men to lower their weapons.

 

***

 

Wes walked into a small conference room where Simon, Rachel, and Justin waited. “The Shinobium they stole was useless,” he said. “It wasn’t the actual mineral.”

 

Justin wrinkled his brow. “What do you mean?”

 

“It was a construct,” Wes said. “A failed attempt at duplicating the real deal. The actual Shinobium is being held at a different location.”

 

Justin looked to Simon. “The Thunders are going to be pissed when they find out.”

 

Simon nodded. He looked to Wes. “Where’s the Shinobium being held?”

 

“I can’t tell you that,” Wes said.

 

“Sure ya can,” Justin said.

 

“Wes,” Simon said. “If the Thunders find out where you’re keeping the Shinobium, and they will, you won’t be able to keep them away. You‘ll need our help.”

 

“My boss doesn’t exactly like you three,” Wes said.

 

“Well our boss doesn’t like your boss,” Justin said. “Who cares?”

 

You should,” Wes said. “Dr. Cranston isn’t going to let you run loose like this for long.”

 

“What is that supposed to mean?” Simon asked.

 

“That you need to be careful,” Wes said.

 

“It’s not us you should be worried about,” Simon said. “The Thunders aren’t going to stop until they get what they want. The Silver Guardians aren’t any match for a pair of Rangers with powers like theirs.”

 

Rachel nodded in agreement. “You know where they’ll be going next. All you have to do is let us wait for them.”

 

Wes sighed with frustration. “Fine…but I’m only doing this…okay, I don’t know why I’m doing this. Just make sure you keep your heads down.”

 

“We always do,” Justin said. “…sort of.”

 

***

 

Hunter and Blake entered a small cave near the Ikkazuchi Way grounds. Blake carried the Shinobium case, and Hunter carried the data pad they had retrieved from beneath the Ikkazuchi campus.

 

“Open the case,” Hunter said.

 

Blake opened the case, and Hunter pulled out the Shinobium crystal. He slid open a panel on the data pad and placed the crystal inside. Hunter reached into his pocket and pulled out the Shinobium from the mountain, and placed that into the data pad as well.

 

The brothers did not say a word. They both knew what would happen when they activated the data pad. They would see their father, a man that stirred emotions they did their best to bury.

 

They did not notice Chubo watching from the shadows. 

 

Hunter extended the data pad and activated it. The pad’s lens projected a holographic image of their father. The brothers instinctively took a step away.

 

The image spoke. “The Closing Chapter is the path to the Final Secret…” Chubo listened intently. Was the Final Secret the Final Prophecy? “At the end of destruction, when the Earth is corrupt…”

 

The image broke apart with static and dissipated.

 

Blake narrowed his eyes. “What the hell? That can’t be it.”

 

Hunter opened the data pad’s power pack. The Shinobium Construct had turned to ash.

 

Few people could see through Hunter’s ice-cold demeanor. But Blake noticed a small glimmer of flaring anger in his older brother’s eye. Hunter’s hand slightly tightened around the data pad. “The crystal from the lab was a fake.”

 

***

 

Silver Guardian soldiers surrounded INET’s Atlas Laboratory in Angel Grove North. The lab was near the mountain range just outside the city.

 

Inside, Hurricane Red, Hurricane Yellow, and Hurricane Blue stood in front of the vault that contained the Shinobium.

 

Hurricane Yellow crossed his arms over his chest and paced impatiently. “Maybe the Thunders don’t know the Shinobium is here. I mean, we’ve been waiting all day.”

 

“Justin, it’s been an hour,” Hurricane Blue said.

 

“Well…it feels like all day,” he said.

 

“The Thunders will come,” Hurricane Red said. “Just like they did to the 3rd TOTAL R & D Lab. Only this time we’re a step ahead of them for a change.”

 

The ground suddenly shook. Their communicators toned. “Simon.” It was Tommy. “The Zergainzord has showed up just outside your location.”

 

Hurricane Red cursed beneath his breath. “Great.”

 

 Hurricane Blue shook her head. “It’s probably a distraction.”

 

“Yeah,” Hurricane Yellow said. “As soon as we leave, the Thunders will swipe the Shinobium.”

 

Tommy spoke through their communicators. “All three of you are needed to form the Megazord. But only one of you needs to pilot it. After you get the StormMegazord online, two of you can fall back to the lab, while the other fights the Zergainzord.”

 

Hurricane Red looked to his teammates. “Let’s do it.”

 

The Rangers ran outside the lab and towards the mountains, where the Zergainzord towered in the distance.

 

Hurricane Red activated his communicator. “Storm-zords mobilize!”

 

The Storm-zords passed through a trio of holographic entry portals and charged into battle. The Power 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!” the Power Rangers shouted. “Senpuujin!”

 

Hurricane Red opened up a communication line. “Rach, you think you can handle this thing alone?”

 

She hesitated. “I can try.”

 

“Good,” Hurricane Red said. “Justin, let’s get back to the lab before the Thunders show up.”

 

***

 

The Thunders had already arrived. Hunter and Blake dashed down a long corridor within the lab, but Silver Guardians blocked their path.

 

Hunter skid to a halt. “Shadow Bolt!”

 

He hurled a crimson-tinted shadow bolt that exploded around the Guardians with bursts of spark that knocked them off balance. Before they could recover, Blake dashed past them and kicked them to the ground with a fluid series of strikes.

 

“Hold it!” Wes shouted as he ran into the corridor. He somersaulted across the ground, rolled into a crouched position, and opened fire on the Thunders.

 

Blake thrust his hand forward and fired  Ki blast that knocked Wes off his feet.

 

***

 

Hurricane Blue tightly gripped her controls. “Okay…” she said quietly to herself. “I can do this…I can do this…”

 

Zergainzord leaned forward and fired a jagged bolt of energy that exploded against the StormMegazord with a burst of spark.

 

The impact knocked Hurricane Blue around in her cockpit. She grasped onto her controls and steadied herself. “Lion Tornado Blast!”

 

Senpuujin’s left lion-mane shoulder spun and fired a straight-line cyclone of energy lances that exploded against Zergainzord’s armor with a shower of sparks. The enemy zord stumbled backward several steps and struggled to keep its balance against the cyclone.   

 

***

 

Hurricane Red and Hurricane Yellow ran to the vault just as Hunter and Blake stepped out from its doors. Hunter had the Shinobium crystal in his hand.

 

Hurricane Red unsheathed his sword. “Drop the crystal.”

 

Blake swung his hand and fired a navy lighting bolt that exploded around the Rangers with bursts of spark. When the sparks cleared, the Thunders were already dashing down the corridor.

 

Hurricane Red and Hurricane Yellow followed the Thunders outside, leapt through the air, and landed in front of the brothers.

 

Blake scoffed. “You guys really want to die, don’t you.”

 

Above, Zergainzord slashed its arm blade across the StormMegazord with a burst of spark and pressed forward with another strike. The attack knocked Senpuujin off its feet, and the zord skid across the ground.

 

Hurricane Red activated his communicator. “Rach, you okay?”

 

“Don’t worry about me, just stop them,” she answered.

 

The Thunders armed their morphers. “Gorai…Ninjetti Change! Ha!” Dark energy lashed around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms. They snapped into fighting stances.

 

“Power of Shadow…Crimson Thunder!”

 

“Power of Lightning…Navy Thunder!”

 

“Hidden Task Force…Thunder Rangers!”

 

The Rangers stood in fighting stances and circled around each other.

 

Hurricane Red tightened his grip on his sword. “What are you planning on using that for, anyway?”

 

Navy Thunder snorted. “Just shut up and fight.”

 

The four Rangers streaked into blurs of motion and attacked. They dashed across the landscape, clashed weapons, and landed while facing each other in combat.

 

Hurricane Yellow chopped his saber at Navy Thunder. But the Thunder Ranger lifted his staff and blocked the blow.  The Thunder Ranger kept his staff pressed against the saber, twisted underneath the Yellow Ranger’s blade, and swung his staff towards Hurricane Yellow’s throat. Hurricane Yellow barely managed to step back and block the blow with his sword.

 

The Yellow Ranger parried the staff and dashed past Thunder Navy with a strike across his chest that sparked on impact. Hurricane Yellow turned and slashed across the Navy Ranger’s chest with a burst of spark.

 

Hurricane Yellow swung his sword towards Navy Thunder’s neck. But Navy Thunder parried the blow and slashed across Hurricane Yellow’s armor with an x-shaped pattern that sparked on impact.  

 

The opponents chopped their weapons down against each others’ collar bones with bursts of spark. Navy Thunder grasped onto the Yellow Ranger’s blade, and Hurricane Yellow grabbed hold of Thunder Navy’s staff. They struggled against each other while trying to twist their weapons free.

 

The staff and saber chopped down at the same time with bursts of spark that knocked the two Rangers off their feet.

 

 Nearby, Hurricane Red armed his rifle.

 

“Storm Blaster!” He fired a volley of golden energy lances that Crimson Thunder rolled across the ground to avoid.

 

Crimson Thunder rolled to his feet, deflected an energy lance with his bracer, and fired his Horn Blaster. The cannon launched a bolt of crimson-tinted shadow energy that exploded against Hurricane Red with a burst of spark that whipped his body backward.

 

Hurricane Red somersaulted backward into a crouched fighting stance and pounced through the air.

 

“Air Style! Air Gallop Jutsu!” He dashed across the wind and fired his Storm Blaster at Crimson Thunder.

 

Lances of golden energy exploded against Crimson Thunder with bursts of spark. But he stood his ground. Crimson Thunder triggered a volley of shadow bolts from his cannon, and the blasts exploded against Hurricane Red with a shower of sparks that knocked him from the air.

 

Above, Zergainzord’s chest array fired a stream of electrical energy that splashed across Senpuujin and entangled the Megazord with a web of electricity. Bolts of power grasped onto the Megazord’s armor and tightened with bursts of spark.

 

Zergainzord used the energy web to swing StormMegazord off its feet and smash it onto the ground.

 

Zergain laughed from within his cockpit. He zoomed his viewscreen in for a view of the Hurricane Dolphin cockpit and Hurricane Blue sitting inside. “Goodbye, Blue Ranger.”

 

Zergainzord’s arm blade speared forward and shattered through Hurricane Blue’s cockpit window. Hurricane Blue ducked aside to avoid the blade as control panels exploded around her. 

 

Below, Crimson Thunder fired a volley of shadow bolts from his cannon. The blasts exploded around Hurricane Red and Hurricane Yellow with a shower of sparks that sent them flying through the air.

 

Hurricane Red and Hurricane Yellow crashed against the ground as strands of smoke rose from their armor.

 

Navy Thunder and Crimson Thunder turned their backs to the Power Rangers and started to walk off.

 

Hurricane Red rolled his hands into fists. “Guys…we have to do this…we have to get stronger…now…together…”

 

“We’re not exactly together, chief,” Hurricane Yellow said.

 

“Yes we are.” Hurricane Red placed his right fist against his palm. “Now come on. Remember what Tommy said. Feel each others’ Ki.”

 

Hurricane Yellow placed his fist against his palm, and Hurricane Blue did the same. They closed their eyes beneath their helmets and reached out with their powers. They felt each others’ energies and drew strength from one another. They were a team.

 

“Let’s do this, guys!” Hurricane Red shouted.

 

Hurricane Blue felt a renewed sense of resolve. She triggered a volley of energy lances that shot from the Hurricane Dolphin arm and exploded against Zergainzord with bursts of spark. The blasts forced the enemy zord back several steps.

 

Below, Hurricane Red boosted off of Hurricane Yellow’s shoulders and leapt towards the Thunder Rangers’ backs.

 

“Air Style! Whirlwind Strike Jutsu!” Hurricane Red slammed his foot against Crimson Thunder’s back and pushed the Ranger forward while gliding across the wind. Hurricane Red swung his blade in a butterfly pattern that sparked across the Crimson Thunder Ranger’s armor.

 

Hurricane Red kicked off of Crimson Thunder and somersaulted backward through the air.

 

Crimson Thunder crashed against the ground, and the gem rolled away from his belt.

 

The Red Ranger lifted the gem from the ground and smiled beneath his helmet.

 

“Sick!” Hurricane Yellow shouted. “We finally beat them for once!”

 

Navy Thunder snorted as he regrouped with his brother. “We had our backs to you, dumb ass.”

 

Hurricane Red stepped forward. “Well you don’t now…” He tightened his grip on his sword. “Air Style…”

 

Hurricane Yellow unsheathed his sword. “Earth Style…”

 

Together they shouted: “Blade Storm Jutsu!”

 

Their blades energized with power as they dashed back and forth across the Thunder Rangers and slashed across their armor with bursts of spark.

 

Above, StormMegazord stomped towards the Zergainzord.

 

“Dolphin Tornado!” A twirling vortex of hydro energy shot from the dolphin arm and splashed across Zergainzord. The energy tornado lashed against the enemy zord’s armor with massive bursts of spark.

 

“Power Disc!” Hurricane Blue inserted a disc into her console. “Lock…and drop.”

 

StormMegazord’s chest plate opened and shot out Power Sphere No. 5. The sphere opened and released a gatling cannon shaped like a lion.

 

“Gatling Lion!” Hurricane Blue shouted.

 

She called for another disc and inserted it into her console. StormMegazord’s chest plate opened and shot out Power Sphere No. 6. The sphere opened and released a squid-shaped drill.

 

“Squid Attacker!” she shouted.

 

 The Squid Attacker attached to the barrels of the Gatling Lion and formed a drill-shaped cannon.

 

“Gatling Turbine!” Hurricane Blue shouted. “Hurricane Spiral!”

 

The cannon’s barrel rotated the drill and fired a volley of pulse blasts within a twirling torrent of energy. The pulse blasts exploded against Zergainzord while the energy torrent ripped across its armor.

 

The zord’s armor buckled from the attack. Zergain leapt from his cockpit before the zord exploded with a burst of flames and scrap metal.

 

“I did it!” Hurricane Blue shouted. She leapt from the Megazord and ran towards her teammates. “Did you see that?”

 

Hurricane Red smiled beneath his helmet. “Good job, Rach.”

 

“Bastards!” Navy Thunder suddenly leapt through the air.

 

The Navy Thunder Ranger landed while slashing across Hurricane Yellow and dashed past Hurricane Blue while slashing across her armor.

 

Hurricane Red snapped a kick that Navy Thunder blocked. The Thunder Ranger slashed his staff across the Red Ranger’s armor with a burst of spark.

 

Nearby, Crimson Thunder aimed the Thunder Cannon at the Rangers. His brother was in his line of sight along with the Power Rangers. He hesitated briefly and started to lower the weapon. But his hand tightly gripped the handle, and he raised the cannon back up to shoot.

 

Hurricane Red parried a blow from Navy Thunder. Through the corner of his visor, the Red Ranger saw Crimson Thunder aim at them. “You’d blast your own brother?!”

 

Crimson Thunder triggered a blast of shadow energy that crackled with navy-tinted lightning. The blast exploded around Navy Thunder and the Power Rangers with bursts of spark that lashed out against their armor and knocked them off their feet.

 

The Shinobium crystal flew from the Rangers and landed on the ground near Crimson Thunder’s feet. Crimson Thunder silently leaned down and picked up the crystal.

 

Navy Thunder crawled off his feet and walked towards his older brother. They looked at each other, saying nothing, and walked off towards the distance.

 

***

 

Several hours later, Ashley and Tommy were reviewing information on Shinobium when a an icon on her monitor started blinking. She clicked on the icon. “We have a visitor.”

 

“That’s never good,” Tommy said.

 

“What do you think that says about us, that people only come here to bring us bad news?” Ashley asked.

 

Tommy flashed her a lopsided grin. “That we’re super fun?”

 

Ashley smiled and rolled her eyes. “I hate you.”

 

“I know.”

 

Ashley pulled up an image of the Hayate Way campus. They saw Wes Collins walking towards the dojo.

 

“What do you think he wants?” Ashley asked.

 

“I don’t know,” Tommy said. “Let’s go ask.”

 

Tommy and Ashley left Ops and met Wes in the courtyard just outside the dojo. Wes smiled upon seeing them, but Tommy could tell the smile was forced.

 

“Tommy, Ashley,” Wes said. “It’s good to see you two again.”

 

“It’s been a while,” Tommy said. “So what’s going on?”

 

“I wanted to talk to you about what happened at the Atlas Lab,” Wes said.

 

Tommy waved his arm towards a nearby trail. “Let’s take a walk.”

 

Tommy and Ashley led Wes along a dirt path that curved across the Hayate Way campus and led into the nearby woods.

 

“I’m assuming you know about what happened,” Wes said.

 

Tommy nodded. “The Thunders are tough opponents,” he said. “We haven’t had a solid victory against them since they showed up.”

 

“Dr. Cranston was livid,” Wes said. “They caused a lot of damage. About a dozen of my men were injured.”

 

Tommy bit his tongue. The Silver Guardians had no business fighting a pair of Rangers. Billy should have known better than to put the guards in harm’s way.

 

Ashley spoke up from Tommy’s side. “We’re sorry that happened. I’m just glad no one was killed.”

 

“Me too,” Wes said. “”And now…” He took a deep breath. “Look, I know I don’t know you two that well. But I respect you. You’ve both done a lot for this planet. I can still remember the day you and the other Astro Rangers saved the city from Astronema. And fighting alongside you against the Mogralord was an honor. That’s why I’m here. To warn you.”

 

“Warn us of what?” Ashley asked.

 

“Billy,” Tommy said.

 

Wes nodded. “I know you and Dr. Cranston have had your differences, and I’m trying not to get caught in the middle of that. I don’t want to have to pick a side. Jenn and I believe in what both of you are doing. But we’re afraid what happened at the lab might lead to an all-out conflict between the two of you. Dr. Cranston’s been looking for a reason to shut your team down, and now you’ve given him one.”

 

Ashley shook her head. “What happened at the lab wasn’t our fault.”

 

“Billy doesn’t care,” Tommy said. He looked to Wes. “Do you know what he has planned?”

 

“Nothing yet,” Wes said. “His only Ranger team is tied up fighting the Vyram. But he’s bringing a new team online in a few months. Deca Ranger. I only know about it because they’ll be a part of my Silver Guardians.”

 

“And you think once that happens, Billy will have the fire power he needs to come after me and my team,” Tommy said. It wasn’t a question.

 

Wes nodded. “The Deca Rangers will work with my team to fight against meta-level crime. Dr. Cranston will fit you into that category.”

 

“Cute,” Tommy said. “Thanks for the warning, Wes.”

 

“What are you planning to do about it?” Wes asked.

 

“For now, nothing,” Tommy said. “We have to focus on figuring out what the Thunders are after and how we can stop them. Billy’s games will have to wait.”

 

***

 

Chubo delivered a message to the Thunder Rangers: Lothor had insisted they come to the ship along with their projector. The Thunder Rangers reluctantly obliged.

 

Crimson Thunder extended the data pad and activated it. The pad’s lens projected a holographic image of their father.

 

The image spoke: “The Closing Chapter is the path to the Final Secret. At the end of destruction, when the Earth is corrupt, the Ultimate Truth will reveal itself. And the heavens will quake at its power. The earth will tremble, and all that is known will be unknown. All that is one will unbind.”

 

Zergain stepped closer to the holographic image. He snorted with disbelief. “So that’s your intelligence on the Final Prophecy?”

 

Crimson Thunder ignored the general. The Crimson Ranger opened the pad’s battery panel and inserted the Shinobium from INET’s Atlas Laboratory. He projected another image of their father.

 

The image spoke: “At the end of destruction, when the brave defeats the brave, the Final Secret will be born.”

 

Lothor was unusually quiet. He narrowed his eyes and stared at the data pad. He reached out with his arcane power and felt the pad’s unusual energy signatures. The Thunders had not been lying. The pad was no ordinary piece of technology.

 

The villain used his power to look within the pad, and an image danced across his mind’s eye. He saw massive explosions and streaks of crimson and navy light crash against each other.

 

A twisted grin crossed Lothor’s face. He looked to Crimson Thunder. “‘When the brave defeats the brave…’ what does that mean?”

 

Navy Thunder snorted. “That’s obvious. When we beat the Hurricane Rangers.”

 

Crimson Thunder looked to Lothor. “What happens now is clear. You corrupt the Earth. We defeat the Rangers. You do your thing. We do ours.”

 

Crimson Thunder turned and left, and his younger brother followed.

 

Lothor waited for the Thunders to leave and turned to Chubo. “Chubo…I need a word with you. The Thunder Rangers have quite the surprise coming…”

 

***

 

Hunter and Blake walked across the mountains outside of Angel Grove.

 

“It’s finally going to happen,” Blake said. “We’re finally ready to take the Rangers out. No more of this playing around bullshit. No more drama. No more games.”

 

Hunter nodded. Something was on his mind, but Blake couldn’t guess what.

 

“Thunder Rangers!” a voice called from behind them. They turned to see Chubo waddle towards them. “Thunder Rangers…we should be working together on this. Lothor insisted. I will release my best warrior and-”

 

“Your monsters are jokes,” Blake said. “In fact, you all are jokes.”

 

“That’s not true!” Chubo pleaded. “Please…let my warrior lure out the Power Rangers for you. You won’t be disappointed.”

 

“That would be a change,” Blake said.

 

Hunter looked to his brother. “We’ll let him help.” He faced Chubo. “But if you cross us…”

 

“I’ll kill you myself,” Blake said.

 

***

 

Angel Grove West’s Rosedale Park was nestled in between a group of upscale high-rise apartment units of white, ornate brick. The park was dotted with trees, bushes, and a fountain fashioned after a miniature water fall.

 

A 10-year-old boy named Kane Hallowell kicked around a soccer ball with his 13-year-old sister Mindy.

 

Mindy kicked the ball towards her brother, but it bounced past him and rolled towards a nearby apartment building.

 

Kane wrinkled his nose at Mindy. “Sis, you suck.”

 

“You’re the one who didn’t catch it,” she said as she chased after the ball.

 

Kane followed his sister towards the apartment building as a strange fog rolled in from the streets.

 

The fog surrounded several dozen people who walked along sidewalks just outside the park grounds. They quickly keeled over upon inhaling the fog. Some of them cried uncontrollably, while others laughed or screamed in agony.

 

A strange laughter came from within the fog. One of Chubo’s warriors, Toxipod, stepped out from the mist. The villain resembled a humanoid snail with a large shell on its back. “Yes…” the monster walked past several people keeled over on the ground. “Laugh…cry…scream…release the power of your emotions.”

 

The shell on his back seemed to hum with energy.

 

Nearby, Kane and Mindy took cover behind a stairwell. Mindy placed her hands protectively on her little brother’s shoulders. Their eyes were fixed on the monster as it casually strolled across the sidewalk.

 

Toxipod walked away from the park.

 

Kane’s eyes slowly opened with excitement once he realized what the monster signified. “Sis! This means the Power Rangers will show up! Come on!”

 

Kane ran off to follow the monster while staying clear of the mist..

 

“Kane, wait!” she ran after her brother.

 

***

 

Toxipod moved to the Flagship Industrial Park in Angel Grove West. The development was home to several business warehouses that belonged to companies specializing in construction.

 

“Jakanja!” a voice shouted.

 

Toxipod turned to see Simon, Justin, and Rachel run towards him. The rangers snapped into fighting stances and armed their morphers.

 

“Senpu…Ninjetti Change! Ha!” Cyclones of energy circled around them as they morphed into their armor. 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!”

 

Toxipod fired a cloud of mist that surrounded the Rangers and blocked their vision. They shifted around and stood back-to-back, expecting an attack.

 

“Stay alert, guys,” Hurricane Red said.

 

“It’s a snail,” Hurricane Yellow said. “How fast can he be?”

 

The villain’s hand swung from the mist and slashed across the Rangers one-by-one before they could defend themselves. They crashed against the pavement and rolled out of the mist.

 

Hurricane Yellow cursed beneath his breath. “A fast snail…I hate irony.”

 

Toxipod stepped from the fog and stalked towards the fallen Rangers.

 

Hurricane Red used his sword to steady himself and rise to his feet. “Come on guys…no way we’re letting this creep take us down.”

 

“You’re right,” a voice called from above. It was Blake. “That’s our job!”

 

Bolts of crimson-tinted shadow energy and navy lightning exploded around the Rangers with bursts of spark.

 

Hunter and Blake leapt through the air and landed on a nearby catwalk between two warehouses.

 

The Thunders armed their morphers. “Gorai…Ninjetti Change! Ha!” Dark energy lashed around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms. They snapped into fighting stances.

 

“Power of Shadow…Crimson Thunder!”

 

“Power of Lightning…Navy Thunder!”

 

“Hidden Task Force…Thunder Rangers!”

 

Navy Thunder leapt to attack Hurricane Red, and Crimson Thunder jumped down towards Hurricane Yellow and Hurricane Blue.

 

Hurricane Red swung his saber through a series of strikes that Navy Thunder used his Stag Breaker to block. The Navy Thunder Ranger parried a blow and slashed Hurricane Red across the chest with a wide arc that knocked him off his feet.

 

The Red Ranger fell to the ground and rolled back to his feet just as Navy Thunder pounced towards him.

 

Hurricane Red chopped his blade towards Navy Thunder. But the Navy Ranger blocked the blow and slashed Hurricane Red across the chest with a burst of spark that whipped his body around. Navy Thunder pressed forward and slashed the Red Ranger across the back with a powerful upward strike that sent the Ranger flying through the air.

 

Hurricane Red somersaulted through the air, landed against the side of a warehouse, and pushed off towards Navy Thunder.

 

“Air Style! Air Gallop Jutsu!” Hurricane Red dashed across the wind towards Navy Thunder.

 

The Red Ranger leapt forward and chopped his blade towards Navy Thunder’s head. But Navy Thunder caught the blade, twisted it downward, and used his pincer claw to grab hold of the Red Ranger around the waist.

 

Navy Thunder lifted the Red Ranger off his feet and sent tendrils of navy-tinted lightning crackling along the Stag blades. The lightning lashed out and exploded against Hurricane Red’s armor.

 

Nearby, Crimson Thunder lifted his staff and blocked the saber strikes of Hurricane Blue and Hurricane Yellow. The Crimson Thunder Ranger parried their blades aside and slashed them across their armor with bursts of spark that whipped their bodies backward.

 

Hurricane Yellow flipped back to his feet and snapped a volley of Gyro Blades that Crimson Thunder used his staff to deflect. The blades distracted Crimson Thunder enough for the Yellow Ranger to move in and slash the Thunder Ranger across the chest with a burst of spark.

 

Crimson Thunder seemingly vanished from beneath his uniform, which fell empty to the ground.

 

Hurricane Yellow cursed beneath his breath. “That’s never good.”

 

Crimson Thunder appeared from behind and placed his right fist against his left palm. “Shadow Style! Towering Clone Jutsu!”

 

A giant copy of Crimson Thunder rose from the ground and crackled with power. The illusion took on solid shape and slapped its hand down on Hurricane Yellow, smashing the Ranger like a bug.

 

The illusion vanished, and Crimson Thunder casually swung his staff over his shoulder.

 

Hurricane Blue moved in from the enemy’s side.

 

“Hydro Blast!” She thrust her hands forward and fired a torrent of watery energy at Crimson Thunder.

 

Crimson Thunder snapped his staff into its shield formation which deflected the blast back towards Hurricane Blue. The Blue Ranger’s own Hydro Blast exploded against her armor with bursts of spark that knocked her off her feet.

 

“Rachel!” Hurricane Red shouted as he and Hurricane Yellow regrouped around the fallen Blue Ranger.

 

Crimson Thunder and Navy Thunder casually strode towards the Rangers. Crimson Thunder extended his Horn Blaster and fired crimson-tinted shadow pulses that exploded against the Rangers with a shower of sparks.

 

“Fall back!” Hurricane Red shouted.

 

The Ranger flipped backward into a second-floor opening of the warehouse behind them. They turned and ran into the warehouse for cover.

 

Toxipod transformed into a cloud of mist and followed the Power Rangers inside.

 

The Rangers dashed across a catwalk that ran through the warehouse. But Toxipod’s mist form caught up to the Rangers and surrounded them. 

 

The villain’s hand swung from the mist and slashed across the Rangers one-by-one before they could defend themselves. The attack knocked the Rangers off the catwalk, and they crashed against the floor below.

 

Hurricane Red rose to his feet and tightened his hands into fists. “That’s it…I am tired of getting kicked around. Let’s do this together, guys!”

 

The other Rangers rose to their feet and stood at their leader’s side.

 

Hurricane Red looked up to the villain and taunted him. “Is that all you got, Jakanja?”

 

“That wasn’t enough for you?” Toxipod said. The villain laughed and released another cloud of mist that surrounded the Rangers.

 

The three Rangers stood back to back and linked arms. “Triple Hurricane!” they shouted.

 

The Rangers spun like a tornado with enough force to blow back the mist and knock Toxipod off balance. The tornado kicked several crates and barrels that crashed against the monster.

 

The Rangers’ tornado stopped, and they dropped into crouched fighting positions. “Gyro Blades!”

 

The Rangers snapped a volley of H-shaped throwing stars that shot from their morphers. The blades exploded against Toxipod with bursts of spark.

 

Hurricane Red rose to his feet and armed his sword. He ignited the blade with strands of red energy that danced in the wind. “Storm Blade! Blazing Slash!”

 

The Red Ranger swung his sword through a powerful arc that exploded against Toxipod and knocked the villain backward. Toxipod crashed through the warehouse wall and tumbled across the ground outside.

 

The Power Rangers leapt through the opening and landed outside to face off against the villain. They armed their weapons.

 

“Let’s bring ‘em together!” Hurricane Red shouted. 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 Toxipod and exploded, tearing the villain to shreds, and consuming his body with flame.

 

From the Jakanja ship, 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 snail monster.

 

The monster resurrected as a towering giant.

 

Hurricane Red activated his communicator. “Storm-zords mobilize!”

 

The Storm-zords passed through a trio of holographic entry portals and charged into battle. The Power 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!” the Power Rangers shouted. “Senpuujin!”

 

Below, Kane and Mindy ran to the warehouse district just in time to see the Rangers activate their Megazord. Kane looked up at the zord and smiled with excitement. “Sick…”

 

“Kane,” Mindy said. “We have to get out of here…”

 

But Kane did not listen. His eyes were fixed on the Megazord.

 

Above, Toxipod rolled into his shell and shot towards StormMegazord like a cannonball. The shell bashed against Senpuujin and knocked the Megazord off its feet. StormMegazord crashed against the ground and skid backward.

 

The shell hopped up and down on the Megazord and bashed against its armor with bursts of spark.

 

Below, Crimson Thunder looked to his brother. “Zords.”

 

The Thunder Rangers lifted their morphers to their face plates. “Thunder-zords, mobilize!”

 

“Crimson Insectazord!” Crimson Thunder shouted. A massive zord rolled to the scene on tread wheels. The armored zord was modeled after a horned beetle. Thunder Crimson dashed alongside his zord and leapt into his cockpit.

 

“Navy Beetlezord!” Navy Thunder shouted. The navy-armored zord rolled across the streets like a tank. The zord was modeled after a stag beetle. Navy Thunder ran alongside his zord and leapt into his cockpit.

 

“Alright, bro,” Navy Thunder said. “Let’s combine and kick some ass.”

 

Crimson Thunder locked his zord’s visor control into position. Suddenly, his father’s data pad played an image that reflected in his visor. He was not sure what caused the pad to activate, but its message was the same as before: “At the end of destruction, when the brave defeats the brave, the Final Secret will be born.”

 

The message somehow seemed clearer to the Crimson Ranger. He tightened his grip on his controls. Rage flooded his body. Had Lothor known the meaning all along?

 

Crimson Thunder’s zord had skid to a halt.

 

Navy Thunder pulled his zord besides his brother’s. “Hunter…what’s wrong…? Hunter?”

 

Meanwhile, StormMegazord climbed to its feet as the shell swerved through the air. The shell blasted past the Megazord and slashed across its armor with a burst of spark. The shell swung around and dashed past the Megazord while slashing across its armor.

 

The shell spun through the air as Toxipod unfolded and landed.

 

“He’s too fast,” Hurricane Blue said.

 

“And yet he’s a snail,” Hurricane Yellow said. “A freaking snail.”

 

“We need to get faster,” Hurricane Red said.

 

The Rangers 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.

 

Toxipod folded into his shell and shot towards the Megazord like a cannonball.

 

StormMegazord leapt straight up into the air with its crescent blades held outward. The blades extended and transformed 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 slammed against the shell and knocked it from the air with a massive burst of spark.

 

Toxipod unfolded from his shell as he crashed and tumbled across the ground.

 

The Megazord reverted back to its armored form.

 

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

 

StormMegazord’s chest plate opened, and Power Sphere No. 1 hovered out. The Sphere opened and released the Megazord’s saber.

 

“Serpent Sword!” Hurricane Red shouted. StormMegazord grasped the blade. “Triple Strike!”

 

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 with a massive sphere of flame and smoke.

 

Nearby, Navy Thunder shouted to his brother. “Hunter! Snap out of it!”

 

Crimson Thunder shook his head to try and clear the confusion. He would have time to think later. Now was the time to fight.

 

“Thunder-zords assemble!” Thunder Crimson shouted. “Thunder fusion!” The zords flashed with lighting and shot through the air while changing shape. The two zords combined into a giant robo. The stag claw formed a piece of chest armor, and the Insectazord’s horn formed a helmet.

 

‘ThunderMegazord!” the Thunder Rangers shouted. “Gouraijin!”

 

“Power Disc!” Crimson Thunder inserted the disc into his console. “Lock…and drop.”

 

ThunderMegazord’s chest plate flipped down and shot out Power Sphere No. 4. The sphere opened and released the Spin Blade, an axe that resembled a flower with razor-sharp petals that could spin like a saw.

 

“Spin Blade!” the Thunder Rangers shouted. “Whirling Strike!”

 

“Serpent Sword!” the Power Rangers shouted. “Triple Strike!”

 

StormMegazord emitted two holographic duplicates that stood by the original’s sides. The blade of each Megazord saber energized and slashed downward. And the Spin Blade spun and crackled with energy. ThunderMegazord chopped the blade down a long arc.

 

The attacks slashed against each other with a massive explosion of feedback that sparked against the two Megazords. StormMegazord and ThunderMegazord clashed blades and pressed their weapons against each other.

 

***

 

Lothor watched the battle through a view screen on his bridge. “Excellent…now is the time. Chubo. Do it!”

 

***

 

Chubo heard his master’s commands. He stood on a warehouse at the Flagship Industrial Park and looked up at the battling Megazords. The villain lifted his staff towards the air and chanted an incantation.

 

Lightning lashed out from his staff and struck the clouds above. Darkness swirled and covered the skies. The ground shook, and Toxipod’s shell rose from a pile of rubble and ash.

 

The shell hummed with power and lashed out with jagged energy bolts that exploded against the Megazords’ armor with bursts of spark.

 

“What the hell?!” Hurricane Red shouted.

 

Crimson Thunder narrowed his eyes beneath his helmet. “Chubo.”

 

“That son of a bitch!” Navy Thunder shouted.

 

The shell exploded and scattered energy across the Megazords like a blanket of mist. The blanket covered the ground below and enveloped Mindy and Kane. The kids screamed and tried to run away, but they were too late.

 

They vanished into the mist.

 

Above, the mist seeped into the Thunder and Power Rangers’ cockpits and covered their bodies. The energy washed over them and sucked them away from their Megazords. The Megazords crashed against the ground like empty shells.

 

***

 

Simon’s vision slowly blurred into focus. He looked up to see a crimson sky covered with black clouds. He was in Demon City.

 

To be continued…Chapter 10