Wind and Thunder: Chapter Eleven

Turning Point

 

The Power Rangers and Thunder Rangers gathered on the rooftops of Angel Grove South after dropping Kane and Mindy off at the nearest police station. The officers would help the children return home to their parents.

 

Justin sighed and leaned against a ledge. “As much fun as that was, let’s never go to Demon City again. Ever.”

 

“Sounds good to me,” Simon said. He looked to the Thunder Rangers. “Thanks for your help, guys.”

 

“Yeah,” Justin said. “Jakanja won’t stand a chance against the five of us working together.”

 

Rachel nodded in agreement. “Welcome to the team.”

 

Blake scoffed. “What, you expect us to be all buddy-buddy with you now? Just because we fought together one time?”

 

Hunter did not bother looking at them. “We’ll fight Jakanja on our own.”

 

Simon narrowed his eyes. “So where does that leave us?”

 

“Just stay out of our way,” Blake said.

 

“Blake,” Rachel tried to reason with him. “We have the same enemy now. It makes sense to fight together against that enemy.”

 

“Your sensei killed our mother,” Blake snapped. “Are you forgetting that? Would you want to be our pals if it was the other way around?”

 

Hunter looked to the rangers. “Our fight with you is over for now, as long as you don’t interfere. But one day, when Jakanja is defeated, we will have our justice for what your mentor has done.”

 

Hunter and Blake moved to the edge of the building and leapt away.

 

Justin scoffed. “Those ungrateful twits. They’re nuts!” He moved to the edge of the building and shouted. “You hear that! You guys are nuts!”

 

Rachel shook her head. “You heard Blake’s story. They’ve been through a lot, and all they’ve ever had is each other.”

 

Simon narrowed his eyes. “You almost sound like you feel sorry for them.”

 

“I do,” she said. “And the Simon I used to know would have too.”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked.

 

“Figure it out.” Rachel moved to the edge of the roof and leapt away.

 

“Huh.” Justin crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back. “I wonder what her problem is?”

 

“I don’t know,” Simon said. “But let’s get back to Ops. We have to talk to Tommy.”

 

***

 

Lothor had banished Chubo from the Jakanja ship. The general walked through the woods south of Angel Grove and silently cursed his luck. His plan would have worked if not for the Thunder Rangers turning on him.

 

“Those Thunder Rangers think they can make a fool out of me? Chubo?” He shook his fist with anger. But just as quickly, he sighed and leaned against a tree. “Oh, who am I kidding…I’m a joke.”

 

“You are with that attitude,” said a voice from the shadows.

 

“What?” Chubo snapped around. “Who’s there?”

 

“Someone who wants the former Dragon Ranger and his followers dead,” the unseen voice said. “I crafted the Thunder Rangers’ powers for them to accomplish this task, but they failed me.”

 

Chubo’s head darted back and forth as he searched his surroundings. “Who are you? Come out, or you’ll make me angry!”

 

The voice’s evil laughter chilled Chubo to the bone. “Don’t make me laugh, you bloated freak. Now listen carefully to what you will do, and how you will defeat the Thunder Rangers for their betrayal…”

 

***

 

Marah and Kapri were on a personal mission: find out what the heck was going on in the Jakanja ship. Chubo had vanished after his recent failure, Lothor was nowhere to be found, and Centhrax had also disappeared.

 

The duo entered Centhrax’s private chambers.

 

“I can’t believe this, Kapri,” Marah said. “He’s a big bug, so why does he get his own private chambers and we don’t?”

 

Kapri rolled her eyes. “Stop whining, Marah. Let’s just find out where he is, okay?”

 

Marah’s face lit up with excitement. “If he’s disappeared can I have his room? I know just how I’d decorate it.”

 

Kapri sighed with annoyance. “You are such a child.”

 

Marah pouted. “Am not!”

 

“You act like one.”

 

“Do not!”

 

“Very mature.”

 

“Is not…I mean…is so.”

 

They moved towards the center of the dark room and found Centhrax’s cocoon suspended between four stone pillars.

 

Marah wrinkled her nose. “Is that Centhrax?”

 

“Don’t know.” Kapri extended her finger to poke the cocoon.

 

Marah gasped and grabbed Kapri by the wrist. “Don’t touch it, Kapri!”

 

Kapri pulled her hand away. “Oh, would you quit being such a baby. What do you think is going to happen? You think something’s going to pop out and-”

 

The cocoon rattled. Marah and Kapri gasped and took a step back.

 

Marah slapped Kapri on the arm. “See.”

 

“Um, maybe we should look for Lothor,” Kapri said.

 

“Good idea.”

 

They scurried away as fast as they could.

 

***

 

Lothor kneeled in front of Tao Zento and kept his face low to hide his scowl from his master. “Chubo’s failure is not my own.”

 

“Silence, underling,” Tao Zento said. “Your failure is that this world is still not corrupt. And the Final Prophecy still eludes me.”

 

Lothor snapped up his head. “The Final Prophecy is a sham!” He could no longer control his anger. “An old wives tale! We’re doing nothing but wasting time while the Rangers grow stronger!”

 

“Insolate fool!” Tao Zento shouted. “If the Final Prophecy is such a falsehood, then why do you pursue it?”

 

“You have-”

 

“I am you! Fool!” Tao Zento shouted.

 

Lothor narrowed his eyes. “What?”

 

“Why do you think I remain hidden in the shadows? I am a part of your psyche, a part of your soul,” Tao Zento said.

 

“But the Thunder Rangers…you spoke to them…”

 

“You spoke to them!” Tao Zento shouted. “But your mind allowed you to hear and see only what you believed. Don’t you remember, Lothor, how we came to be?”

 

Lothor’s mind flashed back to newly-revealed memories.

 

Raisik sat in his chambers and meditated. His memory of his defeat by the Dragon Ranger was still fresh in his mind. Even though it had only been a sparring match, the outcome had enraged Raisik. He wanted to become the most powerful warrior in the galaxy. But he had been beaten by a Terran.

 

Raisik opened his eyes and snarled. He was losing patience. He did not have time for meditation or study. He had to grow stronger faster. He had to become invincible.

 

That night, the young student broke into the mage academy’s Forbidden Library, which contained books and studies of magick that had become outlawed. He found one book in particular that intrigued him.

 

The book told of a powerful demon named Lothor that ravaged the landscape of Eltar during the planet’s distant past. A band of five warriors called Talions defeated the insectoid demon, but not before it possessed the mind and body of one of the Talions named Zyron.

 

Zyron betrayed his people and attacked the planet. His former teammates managed to kill him and banish the power of Lothor to the astral plane.

 

The book told of several spells and methods that Lothor had used. Raisik studied those methods every night for two years before being caught by the academy leaders and banished from the planet for practicing the dark arts.

 

Raisik wondered the galaxy for months before finding his way to a deserted planet inhabited by centipedes and insects. He meant to die on the world, within the Rigel Expanse.

 

Raisik collapsed to his knees and slammed his fists against the ground. He wanted to give up. He had nowhere to go. Nothing more he could learn. His efforts to tap into the power of Lothor had failed. He was not a witch or warlock, who could use shadow energy to summon demonic creatures from various planes. He could not even use shadow magick. His specialty was arcane power.

 

“I am of no use,” Raisik whispered. “It is time to die.”

 

A voice tickled the back of his head. “Get up, you fool.”

 

Raisik lifted his head. “What? Who is-”

 

“I said rise!” the voice shouted.

 

Raisik rose to his feet. “Who’s there?”

 

“You may call me Tao Zento,” the voice said. “I know the power you crave, and I will lead you to that power.”

 

“I was powerful, strong, and confident, everything you were not,” Tao Zento said. “Your mind created me out of your anger and hatred to push you out of your weakness. I gave you the strength to master shadow magick and develop your powers. I gave you the strength to create an army, the Jakanja. I gave you the will to carry out the plans you were too skeptical to embrace. The Final Prophecy. You learned of it that night in the desert. You saw its message in a meteor shower. It would have driven you insane had your mind not created me to cope.”

 

“So…” Lothor hesitated. “What I am looking at now, you, is only in my head.”

 

“Yes,” Tao Zento said. “I am a glimpse of what is to come for the final stage of your evolution. Once the Final Prophecy has been born, we will become one, an unstoppable force.”

 

A feral grin spread across Lothor’s face. “So…you are not really my master after all.”

 

“I am your master!” Tao Zento shouted. “You will obey me, you sniveling worm. You are nothing without me. Know this, Lothor, and know your place. You are a pawn of your own mind.”

 

***

 

Chubo snuck back on board the Jakanja ship and rummaged through several crates in the docking bay. He knew his battle with the Thunder Rangers would likely be his last, and he wanted to be prepared.

 

He found a small black case and creaked it open. Inside was a black scroll etched with red. He pulled out the scroll and eyed it with a grim look of determination.

 

The docking bay entrance suddenly swung open, and Zergain stepped inside. He stopped in his tracks when he spotted Chubo. “You…what are you doing here? And…” he spotted the scroll. “That scroll…you can’t really be thinking of using it?”

 

Chubo said nothing.

 

***

 

Hunter and Blake walked along the shore of the lake in Angel Grove East. The pod they had used to travel to the Jakanja ship was hidden within its waters.

 

Blake gave an agitated sigh. “Where is the damn thing?”

 

Hunter shook his head. “They probably retracted it.”

 

“Clever,” Blake said sarcastically. “How are we going to get to their ship?”

 

A voice suddenly shouted at them. It was Chubo. “You won’t be going anywhere!”

 

They snapped around. Blake glared at the villain. “Chubo…”

 

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!”

 

Together they shouted: “Hidden Task Force…Thunder Rangers!”

 

“Ha!” Chubo thrust his staff at the Rangers, and his backpack swung open. Two long, elastic arms lashed out from the backpack and grabbed hold of the Thunder Rangers. The arms snapped back and sucked them into the backpack before it slammed shut.

 

***

 

The Thunder Rangers crashed against the ground within a pocket dimension inside Chubo’s backpack. Dark-purple mist surrounded them and flowed across the dark landscape.

 

Crimson Thunder and Navy Thunder climbed to their feet. But Chubo dashed past them in a blur of motion while slashing his staff across their armor with bursts of spark. The villain zigzagged back and forth and slashed the Rangers faster than they could defend themselves.

 

Chubo’s final series of strikes whipped the Thunder Rangers off their feet. The villain skid to a halt and laughed at the Rangers. “In this dimension, your powers are only half of what they were, and mine are doubled!”

 

Chubo faded and reappeared as a giant, translucent head. He opened his mouth and blew a stream of mist that whipped the Thunder Rangers off their feet. 

 

***

 

Chubo sat beneath a waterfall and muttered an incantation to control his pocket dimension and project himself inside. His eyes were closed, and his right fist was against his left palm. “Jakanja-boro, jakanja, jakanja, jakanja-boro…”

 

***

 

Simon sat down next to Rachel on the steps of the Hayate Way dojo. “Listen, Rach…about what you said earlier…”

 

“I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s just…there was a time you would have been the first one to reach out to the Thunder Rangers and try to save them. But now…you can be almost as grim as they are. Sometimes…sometimes I feel like I’m losing you.”

 

Simon sighed. “I’m sorry, Rach…I don’t know what to say.”

 

“You don’t have to say anything,” she said. “Just stop thinking you have to bare all this burden on your own. Justin and I are your friends. Your teammates. We’re in this together, to lift each other up so we don’t get dragged down by all this emotional mess going on in our lives. You’re not alone.”

 

Simon shook his head. “I know, it just…feels that way sometimes.”

 

She placed her hand on his. “It’s times like that your friends come in handy.”

 

Simon smiled, and his face turned slightly red. “Thanks, Rach.”

 

“Don’t mention it,” she said. She took a deep breath. “So anyway…where are Tommy and Ashley? I didn’t see them inside.”

 

“They’re off working on something,” Simon said. “I wanted to talk to Tommy but-”

 

Their communicators toned. It was Tommy. “Guys, the Thunders are in trouble. It’s Chubo…”

 

***

 

Two motorcycles popped wheelies and slammed against the Thunder Rangers. The Rangers crashed against the ground and rolled backward into crouched fighting stances. They looked up to see the cycles screech to a halt.

 

The bikes were the Tsunami Cycles. And their riders were shadowy duplicates of Hunter and Blake.

 

Navy Thunder shook his head. “I really hate this place.”

 

The Tsunami Cycles throttled forward and zoomed past the Rangers while slashing against their armor with bursts of spark. The cycles swung around with wheels ignited in flame. The cycles throttled past the Thunder Rangers with a massive shockwave of flame that hurled them off their feet.

 

The Rangers crashed against the ground, and the impact powered down their armor.

 

“How does it feel to fight yourselves, Thunder Rangers?” Chubo’s voice said from the darkness. “You are your own worst enemies! You plan to fight against Jakanja, but what makes you so different from us? You’re just like your father! Motivated by anger and hate! Traitors to your own people! It’s no wonder the Ikkazuchi were so weak! No wonder they were destroyed so easily!”

 

***

 

A trio of shadows suddenly passed over Chubo, and a voice shouted from above. “Hey, Chubo!” It was Hurricane Red. “You’re about to have company!”

 

The Rangers dropped from their Wind Gliders and landed in front of the villain. Hurricane Red snapped into a fighting stance. “Let the Thunders go.”

 

Chubo laughed. “It’s too late for that, Power Rangers!” He reached back and patted his backpack. “They’ll be dead soon inside this pack! I think what you really want is some Kelzaks to play with!”

 

The Jakanja foot soldiers popped up from the ground and charged towards the Rangers to attack.

 

Hurricane Red unsheathed his sword and led his team towards the enemy. “Let’s go!”

 

***

 

In the pocket dimension, a ThunderMegazord towered above the rangers and slashed the Spin Blade at them. The Spin Blade exploded with a massive shockwave that hurled Hunter and Blake through the air.

 

The teens crashed hard against the ground.

 

Chubo faded into the pocket dimension and stalked towards them. “It’s been real fun watching you die.”

 

Hunter climbed to his feet. “We’re not dead yet.”

 

Blake pulled himself up. “And we’d like to keep it that way.”

 

***

 

Dozens of Kelzaks swarmed around the Power Rangers and slashed against their armor with bursts of spark.

 

Hurricane Yellow used his saber to block a blow and backhand slash a soldier across the chest with a burst of spark that whipped the soldier backward. “We’ve never gone up against this many before.” He tornado kicked a soldier across the head. “They’re persistent little creeps.”

 

Hurricane Red smashed a sidekick against a grunt’s face and slashed his sword across another soldier’s chest. “Just keep hacking.”

 

Hurricane Blue slammed a crescent kick against a grunt’s face. She leapt upward, flipped through the air, and landed on a nearby tree branch. She armed her weapon. “Sonic Fin!”

 

The Blue Ranger triggered a wave of sonic energy that blasted across the grunts with a showers of spark that knocked them off their feet.

 

“Huh.” Hurricane Yellow looked at all the fallen soldiers around him. “Well that was effective.”

 

Hurricane Blue leapt back to the ground, and the Rangers regrouped to face off with Chubo.

 

“Let’s bring ‘em together!” Hurricane Red shouted. The three Rangers combined their weapons and shouted: “Storm Striker!”

 

Chubo stabbed his staff against the ground, and at the same time, a giant staff stabbed from the skies and smashed the Power Rangers to the ground.

 

***

 

In the pocket dimension, Chubo whacked his staff across the Thunders’ heads and knocked them to the ground.

 

Chubo laughed maniacally and used his foot to turn Hunter on his back. The villain stepped on the ranger’s chest.

 

“Hunter!” Blake crawled towards his brother, but Chubo used his staff to swat the younger ranger away.

 

***

 

Chubo laughed quietly to himself. “And now the Thunders die.”

 

“Chubo!” Hurricane Red shouted.

 

Chubo turned to see the three Rangers somersault through the air towards him and shout “Hur-ri-cane!”

 

The Rangers chopped their blades down with a trio of sparks that knocked the general backward and broke his concentration.

 

Chubo’s backpack cracked from the blow. Steam hissed from its opening. The backpack flipped open and spat out the Thunders, who crashed against the ground and rolled backward.

 

The Power Rangers slid their faceplates open and ran towards the Thunders.

 

“You guys okay?” Hurricane Red asked.

 

Hunter slightly arced his eyebrow. “You saved us?”

 

Blake scoffed. “Figures.”

 

“You’re welcome,” Hurricane Yellow said.

 

Hurricane Blue playfully nudged Blake. “You know you missed us.”

 

Blake actually smiled- but just for a brief second.

 

“Rangers!” Chubo shouted from nearby. “Chubo’s not done with you yet.”

 

Hunter narrowed his eyes. “Good. Blake…”

 

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

 

The Power Rangers and Thunder Rangers snapped into fighting stances.

 

“Power of Shadow…Crimson Thunder!”

 

“Power of Lightning…Navy Thunder!”

 

“Power of Air…Hurricane Red!”

 

“Power of Earth…Hurricane Yellow!”

 

“Power of Water…Hurricane Blue!”

 

Together the trio shouted: “Hurricane Task Force! Power Rangers!”

 

The brothers shouted: “Hidden Task Force! Thunder Rangers!”

 

Chubo screamed with frustration and fired jagged optic blasts that exploded against the Rangers. But their uniforms fell empty to the ground. They had vanished.

 

“Ha!” Hurricane Yellow leapt up behind Chubo and slammed the Lion Hammer against the villain with a burst of spark.

 

Hurricane Blue and Crimson Thunder ran side-by-side towards Chubo. The Blue Ranger triggered her Storm Blaster and the Crimson Ranger fired his Horn Blaster. Lances of golden energy and crimson-tinted shadow bolts exploded against Chubo with bursts of spark.

 

Navy Thunder pounced at Chubo and grabbed the villain with the Stag Breaker. The claws tightened around Chubo and lashed out with navy lightning that danced across the villain’s armor with bursts of spark. The Navy Ranger released his grasp as Hurricane Red moved in to attack.

 

“Air Style! Air Gallop Jutsu!” Hurricane Red ran across the wind towards Chubo. He dashed around the villain and slashed his saber across the general’s armor repeatedly with massive bursts of spark too quick for Chubo to defend.

 

Hurricane Red somersaulted backward through the air and landed as the other rangers regrouped around him.

 

Crimson Thunder armed his Horn Blaster. “Combination weapons.”

 

Hurricane Red armed his Hawk Blaster. “Right. Let’s bring ‘em together!”

 

The Power Rangers assembled their weapon and aimed at Chubo. “Storm Striker!”

 

The Thunder Rangers combined their weapons and aimed at the villain. “Thunder Cannon!”

 

Chubo thrust out his hand and fired strings of blue energy from his palm. The strings wrapped around the Power Rangers and turned invisible. The villain used the strings to tug the Rangers off their feet and drag them towards him like puppets. He used the strings to pull the Rangers up and turn them around so their weapon aimed at the Thunder Rangers and blocked the Thunders’ shot at Chubo.

 

“Now, Power Rangers,” Chubo said. “Fire at your new friends!”

 

Chubo tugged his strings so the Power Rangers would fire. But they resisted- barely. It took all the Power Rangers’ strength and willpower to keep from triggering their weapon.

 

The Thunder Rangers kept their cannon aimed forward. Navy Thunder looked back towards his brother. “Hunter…” he hesitated.

 

Chubo patted Hurricane Red on the helmet. “If you don’t stop resisting, the Thunder Rangers will blast you to pieces.”

 

“No they won’t,” Hurricane Red said through a clenched jaw. He reached out to the Thunders with his empathy. “They’re not like you.”

 

Crimson Thunder looked cool as stone. But Navy Thunder noticed his brother kept taking his finger on and off the trigger.

 

Then, the Crimson Thunder Ranger lifted the cannon and tossed it aside.

 

“Ha!” Chubo laughed. “You Thunders have become weak!”

 

Hurricane Blue shook her head. “It’s not weakness!”

 

Chubo intensified his control so the Power Rangers would fire. But they resisted with shouts of willpower. “Impossible!” the villain shouted. “No one can resist my control!”

 

“Enough!” Crimson Thunder shouted.

 

He dove across the ground, grabbed his Horn Blaster, and rolled into a crouched fighting position towards Chubo’s side. The Crimson Ranger had a clear shot and fired pulses of shadow energy that exploded against Chubo and knocked him backward.

 

The villain’s grasp on the Power Rangers lifted.

 

Crimson Thunder extended his arms, and Navy Thunder leapt off his brother’s arms and jumped towards Chubo. The Navy Ranger slammed a flying kick against Chubo that knocked the villain backward.

 

Navy Thunder landed, and the Rangers regrouped. They aimed their combination weapons at Chubo.

 

“Fire!” the Power Rangers shouted.

 

“Thunder!” the Thunder Rangers shouted.

 

Two crackling spheres of energy shot towards Chubo, combined into a single blast, and exploded against the villain with a massive burst of sparks and flame that spread across the landscape.

 

Chubo weakly reached up towards the skies as fire burned around him. “Don’t let me down…Zergain!”

 

***

 

Zergain walked to Marah and Kapri and handed Kapri the black-and-red scroll. “Here…fire this from your bazooka.”

 

Kapri opened her eyes wide with shock. “Use that on Chubo?” She shook her head. “Oh, no, no. That’s not a normal enlargement scroll.”

 

“I know what it is,” Zergain said. “It increases the user’s energy significantly, but shortens their life span to minutes. Chubo asked for this.”

 

***

 

The Rangers looked up as the scroll shot through the air, unfolded, and expanded to giant size. Demonic symbols on the scroll lashed out with bolts of power that infused Chubo with energy and made him grow.

 

Navy Thunder scoffed. “I hated him enough when he was small.”

 

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!”

 

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

 

The Crimson Insectazord and Navy Beetlezord rolled into battle, and the Thunder Rangers leapt into their cockpits.

 

“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!”

 

ThunderMegazord detached the claw from its chest, used it as a fist weapon, and stomped towards Chubo to attack. Gouraijin swung the claw, but Chubo used his staff to block the blow and slash across the Megazord’s armor with bursts of spark.

 

StormMegazord had its Gatling Lion armed and fired lances of yellow energy that exploded against Chubo and knocked the villain away from the ThunderMegazord. The Thunder Rangers took that moment to arm a weapon.

 

“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.

 

The StormMegazord had armed its Serpent Sword.

 

The Megazords chopped their blades towards Chubo. But the villain spun like a tornado while swinging his staff and batting the Megazords away. ThunderMegazord crashed against the ground, but StormMegazord stayed on its feet.

 

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

 

StormMegazord’s chest plate opened and shot out Power Sphere No. 6. The sphere opened and released a squid-shaped drill.

 

“Squid Attacker!” he shouted.

 

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

 

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

 

The cannon’s barrel rotated the drill and fired a volley of pulse blasts within a twirling torrent of energy. But Chubo twirled his staff to deflect the blasts back towards the Megazord. The blasts exploded against Senpuujin with bursts of spark that knocked the StormMegazord off its feet.

 

Tommy’s voice came over the Power Rangers’ communicators. “Guys, we’re sending you and the Thunders new Power Discs. Ashley thinks she’s found a way to get your two Megazords to combine.”

 

A Power Disc appeared on the Hurricane Red’s control panel, and another Power Disc appeared on Crimson Thunder’s control panel.

 

“Hunter,” Hurricane Red said. “We’ve got to bring our Megazords together.”

 

Navy Thunder lowered his head. “The Hayate…” he said quietly, “and Ikkazuchi… combine?

 

Crimson Thunder lifted his Power Disc. He hesitated. “They can do that?”

 

“They can now,” Hurricane Red said. “Power Disc! Lock…and drop.”

 

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

 

The Megazords’ chest plates opened and shot our Power Sphere No. 7 and Power Sphere No. 8. The spheres opened and revealed two components, which combined to form a Minizord.

 

The zord placed its left hand against its right fist and spoke a programmed message. “I am Minizord” The zord uploaded streams of data and programming into the two Megazords. “StormMegazord…ThunderMegazord…combine!”

 

“Megazords assemble!” the Rangers shouted. “Thunderstorm fusion!”

 

The lion and dolphin arms of the StormMegazord snapped off. The lion head formed the chest of the Megazord. ThunderMegazord split into four segments that formed new arms and feet with wheels. The dolphin split in two and formed a pair of cannons on the Megazord’s shoulders. Minizord formed a pair of gauntlets and helmet with a bladed crescent moon.

 

“Thunderstorm Megazord!” the Rangers shouted. “GouraiSenpuujin!”

 

“This is it, Chubo!” Hurricane Red shouted. “Time to show you what real Megazord power can do!”

 

Chubo swung his staff at the Megazord with a series of strikes that sparked harmlessly against the Megazord’s armor. Chubo’s last strike snapped his staff in half.

 

Thunderstorm Megazord rolled forward and slammed a punch against Chubo that knocked the villain backward. The villain crashed against the ground and skid backward.

 

A lopsided grin crossed Navy Thunder’s face beneath his helmet. “Sick.”

 

Chubo slowly rose to his feet and charged towards the Megazord.

 

“Final attack,” Hurricane Red grasped his controls. “Thunder Hurricane!”

 

The lion mane spun and fired a beam of twirling energy, and the shoulder cannons fired pulses of energy that combined with the twirling wave. The energy blast punctured through Chubo with a massive explosion that tore his body apart with a burst of flame. 

 

***

 

Simon, Justin, Rachel, Blake, and Hunter gathered in the woods following their battle. Rachel walked towards the Thunders to say something, but she never got the chance.

 

A blood-curdling laughter came from the shadows. “You fools…I gave you your powers for one reason…but you’ve become weak.”

 

A man stepped out from behind the trees. He looked just like Tommy, only skinnier, nothing but flesh grafted over bone, with hollow cheeks. His face was pale white, and his eyes red.

 

Simon narrowed his eyes. “What the hell?”

 

“What’s the matter, Ranger? Don’t you recognize your own sensei?” He thrust his hand forward. “Dragon’s Fang!”

 

The rangers scattered aside as a bolt of jade arcane energy exploded against the ground with a massive burst of spark.

 

The twisted version of Tommy glared at the Thunder Rangers. “I made you who you are so you could destroy the Red Dragon Ranger, and I could take his place. You’ve gone soft.”

 

Hunter narrowed his eyes. “Who are you?”

 

“The Dragon Ranger from another reality, where evil rules, and only the strong survive.” A glimmer of pride showed in his eyes. “I was the strongest of the Dark Warlords, but then…” His gaze shot to Simon and the others. “Your mentor was pulled into my world by an anomaly. When he escaped back to this wretched place, I was pulled with him.

 

“For a year, I was unconscious, and when I awoke, my morpher and Power Coin were missing.” He rolled his hands into fists. “I was the Dragon Ranger no more. I returned to the Ikkazuchi Way, intending to take it over. It seems the Tommy of your world was a Hayate whelp, while I was one of the Ikkazuchi’s most promising assassins before becoming a Dark Warlord.

 

“My own powers had dwindled without my morpher, but I intended to use the Ikkazuchi to craft my own army.” He looked to Hunter and Blake. “I met your father and learned all I could from him. Then I had him killed during a mission and led the Ikkazuchi from the shadows. I crafted your morphers and zords so that you could lead an army to crush the Dragon Ranger, a task I was too weak to undertake in my present form. I made you my Hidden Task Force. But you’ve failed me, just as you failed your father.”

 

Hunter and Blake moved as one. “Shadow/Lightning Bolt!” They fired a bolt of crimson-tinted shadow energy and a blast of navy-tinted lightning that streaked towards the Dark Warlord.

 

The Warlord of Corruption extended his hand and erected an invisible Ki barrier that blocked the blasts with bursts of spark. The Dark Warlord lowered his hand and laughed. “Your powers are nothing as long as you hide your true nature. The nature of the Ikkazuchi Way. The nature of death!”

 

Blake narrowed his eyes. “You’re insane.”

 

A feral grin crossed the Dark Warlord’s face. “I wouldn’t have it any other way, Thunder Ranger.”

 

The Warlord of Cruelty leapt upward into the trees and vanished from sight.

 

Simon shook his head. “Oh, man…Tommy is going to freak.”

 

He turned towards the Thunder Rangers, but they were gone.

 

***

 

Hunter and Blake watched from a tree branch as Simon and the others walked away. Blake looked to his brother. “What do we do now?”

 

“We fight Jakanja…and this Dark Warlord,” Hunter said. “And we let go of our revenge.”

 

***

 

“You have got to be kidding me,” Tommy said after the rangers told him about his evil twin.

 

Simon shook his head. “No…he looked just like you, only sick and pale.”

 

“You have got to be kidding me.” Tommy shook his head. “This is too much.”

 

“Is it true?” Rachel asked. “That’s he’s from an alternate timeline?”

 

Tommy nodded. “We called it Demon World Earth. The Megaship was sucked into that reality on our way back to Earth after the Countdown to Destruction.”

 

Ashley looked to Tommy. “He must have been close enough to the ship to get pulled back to our reality.”

 

“Can I retire yet?” Tommy asked. “I mean…you have got to be kidding me.”

 

Rachel looked to Ashley. “At least this explains why the Thunder Rangers’ powers are so similar to ours. They both come from a Tommy.”

 

“Guys,” Tommy said. “We’ll talk about this later. I have a 4-year-old son who can hurl fire I need to deal with.”

 

He walked out of Ops.

 

Justin looked to Ashley. “Did he just say Tyler can hurl fire?”

 

Ashley shrugged. “Well…he can’t exactly throw it yet, just hold it.”

 

“Oh…okay,” Justin said. “I’m going to go do something…normal.”

 

***

 

One of Jakanja’s generals had died. But another was about to be reborn. Centhrax’s cocoon stirred.

 

To be continued…Chapter 12