Wind and Thunder: Chapter Thirteen

Shurikenja Sanjo!

 

Tommy sat on his bed and pulled on his shoes. He tied the laces in a hurry. His eyes were narrowed. His jaw was clenched. His muscles were tense.

 

Ashley crossed her arms over her chest and stood at the front of the bed. “You can’t do this, Tommy. You can’t just run off after this Dark Warlord.”

 

“It’s not just a Dark Warlord, Ashley,” Tommy said. “It’s me.”

 

“It’s the Tommy from an alternate reality,” Ashley said. “The theory is that everything that can happen, does happen in a parallel universe, making an infinite number of parallel universes. That means an infinite number of Tommys. You aren’t responsible for each one.”

 

“I’m responsible for this one.” He rose from the bed and looked to his fiancé. “I should have stopped him on Demon World Earth, but I didn’t…and now he’s here. I have to find him and stop him.”

 

“What about the Rangers?” Ashley asked. 

 

“They’ll be fine,” Tommy said. “Now seems like as good a time as any to go. The Jakanja are a general short. The Thunders aren’t trying to kill them anymore. I’ll try to be back before things heat up again.”

 

“Remember what happened every time Zordon left?” Ashley asked. “The first time the Gorma showed up. The second time it was Sauron.”

 

“Technically, Zordon left because Sauron showed up,” Tommy said. “And plus, I’m not leaving the planet.”

 

“Don’t get technical.”

 

“I’m just saying.”

 

“Well stop saying.” She took a deep breath. “And what about your son?”

 

“Ashley…I won’t be gone that long,” Tommy said. “Whatever is going on with Tyler…those powers…he has it under control on his own for now…he’ll be fine.”

 

She sighed. “Just be careful. I don’t want to have to round up all your old teammates to come save your butt.”

 

“I will be the poster child of caution,” Tommy said. He leaned over and kissed her. “I love you.”

 

“I love you too,” she said. “Just kick that Dark Warlord’s butt and come back home soon.”

 

***

 

Lothor had fashioned himself a throne on the bridge of the Jakanja ship. He sat tall and proud now that he was aware of Tao Zento’s power inside of his own body. He was stronger than he ever imagined.

 

Marah and Kapri scurried impatiently around the bridge. Kapri had a small compact  she was using to apply makeup to her face. This was one of the few Earth customs she had learned to enjoy. “So where is this guy?” Just because she didn’t like the fact the Sixth Spear was coming didn’t mean she couldn’t look good for him. “We’ve been waiting all day.”

 

Lothor did not bother looking at his underlings. “He’ll be here soon.” A feral grin crossed his face. “I can feel my old friend’s power approaching.”

 

“Friend?” Marah asked. “Spear Six is a friend of yours?”

 

Lothor dismissively waved his hand. “You will soon see.”

 

Zergain leaned against a wall with his robotic arms across his chest. He was not pleased. He did not want to contend with another general for Lothor’s favor. Now that Chubo was gone, there was no doubt Zergain was the most powerful of the Seven Spears of Darkness. He did not want that to change. The only person who came close to rivaling his power was Centhrax.

 

With that thought, Zergain noticed the newly-reborn general was missing. “Where is Centhrax? He should be here for this.”

 

No one answered.

 

***

 

Centhrax strolled across the bustling city streets of Angel Grove West. His brown cloak hid him from the humans’ sight. The villain was searching for two particular targets: the Thunder Rangers. He could sense them nearby.

 

The villain wanted to make the Thunder Rangers pay for their betrayal of the Jakanja. Centhrax felt partially responsible, since he was the one who had led the Thunders to the Jakanja ship.

 

It’s time I rectified my mistake, he thought.

 

***

 

A new industrial building was under construction at the docks. After nearly eight years, city officials had decided to rebuild a strip of the docks that had been damaged during the emergence of the Dragonzord.

 

Hunter and Blake worked inside the industrial project. Blake stood on a ladder and handed metal pipes down to his brother, who stacked the pipes onto a neat pile.

 

The hairs on Hunter’s neck suddenly stood on end. He looked up, and although he could not see Centhrax, he was staring right at the villain at the other end of the corridor.

 

Blake looked down to his brother. “What is it?”

 

Hunter shook his head. “Just a strange feeling…”

 

An invisible fist suddenly slammed against Hunter’s chest and knocked him to the ground. Blake leapt down to his brother’s side. “Hunter!”

 

An invisible backfist smashed across Blake’s head and knocked him backward. 

 

Centhrax dropped his cloak and revealed himself to the rangers. The other workers screamed and ran in panic from the creature. Hunter and Blake climbed to their feet and snapped into fighting stances.

 

Hunter narrowed his eyes at the villain. “You’re not just another monster…who are you?”

 

Centhrax casually crossed his arms over his chest. “Do you not recognize me, Thunder Rangers? I am Centhrax, Spear Three of the Jakanja Seven Spears of Darkness.”

 

“Centhrax?” Hunter shouted.

 

“He’s definitely put on some weight,” Blake said.

 

Centhrax extended his palm and fired jagged strings of orange lightning that lashed around the rangers. The lightning danced across their bodies and sent tendrils of pain through their pores. The villain delighted at their screams of agony.

 

The rangers armed their morphers. “Ninjetti Change!” Energy flashed around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

The morph waves knocked away the lightning with bursts of spark. The Thunder Rangers ran through the sparks to attack.

 

Navy Thunder charged and chopped his staff at Centhrax. The villain sidestepped and slapped the blade down, which sent the Ranger tumbling forward.

 

Centhrax turned, blocked a staff strike from Crimson Thunder, and smashed a backhand blow against the Crimson Ranger’s chest. 

 

Navy Thunder moved in and swung his staff towards the villain’s side. Centhrax blocked the blow and smashed a hook punch across the Ranger’s helmet.

 

Crimson Thunder recovered and swung his staff at the villain’s head. Centhrax blocked the blow, slammed an uppercut against the Ranger’s gut, and smashed an elbow against the back of the Ranger’s neck. The blow dropped Crimson Thunder to the ground.

 

Centhrax turned and snapped a pair of spin kicks across Navy Thunder’s helmet.

 

Navy Thunder stumbled backward and leaned against the side of the wall to keep from falling. Centhrax pressed forward towards the Navy Ranger.

 

The Navy Thunder Ranger swung his staff at the villain. Centhrax used his leg to kick the staff aside and slam a sidekick against Navy Thunder’s chest. The kick knocked Navy Thunder backward through a pile of crates.

 

Crimson Thunder dashed to attack. But Centhrax grabbed the Crimson Ranger by the throat and hurled him aside. Crimson Thunder crashed through a fence and rolled into an adjoining room.

 

The Crimson Thunder Ranger rolled to his feet and armed his weapon. “Horn Blaster!”

 

Crimson Thunder triggered a volley of shadow bolts that Centhrax merely swatted aside while stalking towards the Ranger.

 

Crimson Thunder swung his blaster like a club towards the villain’s head.

 

Centhrax grabbed the Ranger’s wrist and twisted. The Horn Blaster crashed to the ground, and Centhrax tightened his grasp. Crimson Thunder struggled to break free but to no avail.

 

Centhrax let go, leaned forward, and slammed a flurry of lightning-quick punches against the Ranger’s gut. The villain reached back his right arm for a final punch, and his right fist glowed with the golden symbol of a scorpion. He slammed the punch against the Ranger’s gut with a burst of golden light.

 

Crimson Thunder crashed against the ground. The light from the punch formed the symbol of a golden scorpion that penetrated the Ranger’s body. The Crimson Ranger gasped in pain and clutched his stomach.

 

Navy Thunder stumbled into the room and ran to his brother’s side. “Hunter!”

 

Centhrax crossed his arms over his chest. “Crimson Thunder…the Angel of Death now hangs over your head.”

 

Navy Thunder glared at the villain. “What?”

 

Centhrax laughed and summoned his cloak. He disappeared as the cloak wrapped around him.

 

***

 

Kapri and Marah paced back and forth across the bridge while Zergain leaned against a pillar with his arms crossed over his chest. Kapri sighed with agitation and rolled her eyes. “Would you come on already?”

 

They heard footsteps come from outside the bridge. Marah gasped with excitement and repeatedly patted Kapri on the arm. “He’s here, he’s here, he‘s here!”

 

But it was just Centhrax walking in while wearing his cloak. Kapri groaned with annoyance. “Oh, Centhraaaaaax. Where have you been anyway?”

 

“Occupied.” Centhrax walked towards Lothor’s throne with his arms crossed beneath his robes.

 

A whining noise suddenly cut through the air. Wrapped packages fell into the hands of each of the Dark Spears. Each package had a card.

 

Marah tilted her head with curiosity. “Are these from Spear Six?” She lifted the card and read it out loud. “To Marah, the cutest of the Dark Spears.” She blushed. “Maybe the new guy won’t be so bad after all.”

 

Kapri read her card. “To the most beautiful of the Jakanja.”

 

Zergain flipped over his card. “To the strongest space warrior?”

 

“Hmph.” Centhrax read his card. He was not flattered in the slightest. “To the greatest fortune teller.”

 

Zergain, Marah, and Kapri opened their packages. Cream pies shot from the packages and smashed against their faces.

 

Insane laughter echoed across the bridge. A figure clothed in bright colors shot into the room and bounced off the walls while laughing. “Earth humor! I love it!”

 

He dropped to the floor and held up a sign that read “Punk’d: Space Style.” His face was pale white. He wore a bright-red mask over his eyes that matched the flamboyant colors of his robes and headdress. “You’ve been Punk’d!” His cackling laughter grated on the Jakanja’s nerves. “I love this planet! Let’s see that again.”

 

The villain activated a nearby viewscreen that showed each Dark Spear, except for Centhrax, get a pie in the face. He tilted his head back and howled with laughter.

 

Lothor hurled a bolt of shadow energy that exploded against the villain with a burst of spark that knocked him off his feet. “You’ve grown even more annoying, Satora’kura.”

 

Satora’kura scrambled back to his feet. “Annoying? Annoying would have been a face full of acid or sea slugs. Oooo…sea slugs! I’ll remember that for next time.” He tilted his head back and laughed. “Can you imagine it! They’d eat Zergain right out of the tin can he’s riding in! AH, HA HA HAAA!”

 

“Satora’kura!” Lothor shouted. “You’ve had months to ready your army. Are you prepared?”

 

Satora’kura unsheathed a pair of slender swords. “Just point me to the blood sacks!”

 

***

 

Simon called Justin and Rachel to the docks after hearing about the attack on Hunter and Blake. Simon had heard about the battle while working at a nearby building.

 

The five rangers gathered nearby the pier. Hunter sat on a barrel while Rachel wrapped a bandage around a cut on his arm. She ignored his scowls and attempts to move away.

 

Blake stepped closer to his brother. “Ya know, we didn’t need a nursing call.”

 

“Could have fooled me.” Rachel slapped Hunter on the shoulder when he tried to move away. “Now hold still.”

 

Hunter sighed with frustration and sunk his shoulders in defeat.

 

Simon stood nearby and looked to make sure no one was close enough to eavesdrop. Thankfully, the pier was pretty much evacuated. “So who attacked you?”

 

“Centhrax,” Hunter said.

 

Justin tilted his head. “Centhrax? I thought he was just a floating head?”

 

Blake shook his head. “Not anymore.”

 

Hunter suddenly squirmed and grasped at his chest. Blake looked with concern to his older brother. “You okay?”

 

“I’m fine,” Hunter said.

 

The rangers were too occupied to notice four small scorpions crawl out from under Hunter’s pant legs. The scorpions quickly scurried across the pavement and climbed inside the pant legs of the other rangers. The teens each flinched as the scorpions bit their legs and dug into their bodies.

 

Before they could react, a giant monster appeared along the skyline in the distance. The creature resembled a mass of twisted buildings with an edged mask across its eyes. The villain was named the Masked Mirage, a member of Satora’kura’s Masked Corps.

 

Simon and his team armed their morphers. “Senpu…Ninjetti Change! Ha!” Cyclones of energy circled around them as they morphed into their armor.

 

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!”

 

Blake went to arm his morpher, but Hunter stopped him. “Wait…” his eyes were fixed on the monster in the distance. “Something’s not right.”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Hunter looked up towards the battle from below. “Wait!”

 

StormMegazord swung its saber through the monster. But the image of the monster faded into a building that the Megazord had just cut in half. The monster had used an illusion to project its image over the building and trick the Rangers.

 

Hurricane Yellow opened his eyes wide beneath his helmet. “What the hell just happened.”

 

Mad laughter echoed across the rooftops and streets. Below, the Thunders stood alert and looked around to see where the laughter was coming from. Brightly-clad Satora’kura bounced off the Megazord and landed on a plaza below where the Thunders stood.

 

“AH HAHA HA HA!!!” Satora’kura shouted. “That was brilliant!”

 

The Power Rangers leapt from their cockpits and joined Hunter and Blake below. Hurricane Red pointed at the villain. “You’re going to pay for that!”

 

“Loosen up!” Satora’kura shouted. “That was some of my best material! But not as good as the main event…my Masked Mirage is scouring the city for families of three, killing the fathers, capturing the children, and using the kiddy life essence to power a bomb! AH HAHA HA! Those poor mommies! It‘s the ultimate mother joke!”

 

Hurricane Red lunged forward and snapped a roundkick to the head that Satora’kura blocked. The Red Ranger twirled and swung the back of his fist at the villain’s face. But Satora’kura blocked the blow and swung his hand towards the Ranger’s faceplate. Satora’kura flicked his finger against the Red Ranger’s faceplate with enough force to whip the Ranger off his feet.

 

“AH HA HA HA HAAA!” Satora’kura shouted.

 

The villain pulled out a deck of four cards and hurled the deck at the group. The cards circled around them and pulsed with dark energy that knocked them off their feet.

 

***

 

Out of their armor, the rangers climbed to their feet inside a small boxed-in room with red-and-yellow walls. A monitor flashed on along the front wall, and Satora’kura’s image appeared. “Welcome, Rangers, to the first-annual Jakanja Quiz Challenge! It’ll be great fun! For me at least. For you five, not so much. AH HAHAHAHAAAA!”

 

Justin shook his head. “Am I dreaming, because this is ridiculous.”

 

Blake glared at Justin and snapped. “Seriously, do you ever just stop talking?”

 

Simon armed his morpher. “Let’s morph out of here.”

 

Satora’kura waved his finger at the rangers. “Ah, ah, ah. I wouldn’t, if I were you. This place is rigged to explode if you even try it! I’ve found threats of eminent death are the best way to encourage live-audience participation.”

 

Satora’kura held up a colorful sign that read Question One. “Now on with the show. The first question is for you, Navy Thunder…”

 

Blake shook his head. “No. No way. There is no way you can possibly make me go through with this.”

 

Hunter looked to his brother. “Just play along until we think of something.”

 

“Here we go!” Satora’kura shouted. “No helping, please. Navy Thunder, your question: Four men were in a boat on the lake. The boat turns over, and all four men sink to the bottom of the lake, yet not a single man got wet. Why?”

 

Blake narrowed his eyes as his genius mind started to work. I guess the boat could have somehow formed some kind of bubble that would have prevented them from...no, that’s stupid.

 

Satora’kura cleared his throat. “Did I mention there was a timer?”

 

“I don’t see a timer!” Blake snapped. “What timer?”

 

“This one.” A buzzer beeped loudly enough to vibrate the floor and walls. “Time’s up! The answer: They were all married and not single! AH HAHAHAHA!!!!

 

The floor slightly cracked in the center and dipped down, knocking the rangers off their feet. Far below the crack was a pool of flowing magma.

 

“Oh! One more thing!” Satora’kura shouted. “For every wrong answer, the floor drops a little lower! AH HA HA HA HAAAAA!” Satora’kura held up another sign. “Next question, Hurricane Yellow!”

 

Rachel put a hand on Justin’s back. “You can do it, Justin.”

 

“Because I so excel under pressure,” he said sarcastically.

 

“Question: How many times can you subtract five from 25?”

 

Justin scoffed. “I hate math.”

 

Blake bit back his tongue to keep from shouting the answer. Come on, this one is so easy…

 

“Uh, five?” Justin said.

 

The buzzer beeped. “Wrong! Once! Because after that it’s not 25 anymore! AH HA HA HA HAAAA!!!!!”

 

The floor opened wider and knocked the rangers down. They nearly slid down the crack, which was wide enough to drop them into the magma below.

 

“Next up, Hurricane Blue!” Satora’kura shouted.

 

“Great,” she said.

 

“You’ll do fine,” Blake said. Everyone looked to Blake, and his cheeks turned slightly red from embarrassment. “What?”

 

“Question: What did the fish say when he ran into a concrete wall?”

 

“Damn!” Rachel shouted.

 

“Correct!” Satora’kura shouted. “The females have the brains, boys, it’s a galactic constant. Next question, Crimson Thunder! A woman shoots her husband. Then she holds him under water for five minutes. Finally she hangs him. But five minutes later they both go out and enjoy a wonderful dinner together. How can this be?”

 

Hunter was flustered. He clenched his jaw and lowered his head while thinking.

 

The villain checked his watch. “Time…is…”

 

“She…she took the body with her!” Hunter shouted.

 

“Wrong! Not to mention morbid. The answer: She’s a photographer! She shot a picture, developed it, and hung it to dry!”

 

“That’s bull!” Blake shouted. “No one uses film anymore.”

 

The floor slid further open, and the rangers had to crouch down to keep their balance. 

 

“Next question, Hurricane Red! What animal eats with its ears?”

 

Simon narrowed his eyes. No animal eats with its ears…unless…word play, what’s the word play…It’s…

 

“Time! The answer: All of them! None of them take their ears off to eat!”

 

Simon narrowed his eyes. “Oh, come on! That’s not even-”

 

The floor cracked open, and the rangers crashed down. They had to grasp the sides of the floor to keep from slipping. Rachel lost her grip and nearly slid away, but Hunter grabbed her wrist and pulled her up.

 

Hunter looked to Simon and whispered. “We have to morph.”

 

“We’ll get blown up,” he said as Satora’kura laughed to himself.

 

“We don’t have much choice,” Hunter said. “We just have to time it right so we all get into our armor at the same time.”

 

Simon nodded. “All right…” He looked to his teammates as Satora’kura started to read the next question. “You guys ready to do this?”

 

They each nodded.

 

Satora’kura started the next riddle. “Cats have more fur on their one side than the other side. Some people believe this is because when cats lay on their side, they need more insulation from the cold floor and ground. Which side of a cat has more hair?”

 

The rangers rolled onto their backs and shouted as one. “Ninjetti Change!”

 

The room exploded.

 

***

 

The explosion tore open Satora’kura’s pocket dimension and spat him onto the pavement. The villain coughed up smoke and climbed to his feet. “Well…the out side! AH HA HA HA HAAAA! Which side…the outside…heh.”

 

The Rangers dropped from the air and surrounded Satora’kura while aiming their weapons at the villain.

 

“Where’s the bomb.” Hurricane Red aimed his Hawk Blaster at the villain’s face. “Start talking or I’m blasting that smile off your face.”

 

“Touchy, touchy,” Satora’kura said. “Why so serious?” Satora’kura suddenly shrank and bounced off the Rangers’ shoulders while laughing. “The five of you will die before you can find it anyway! AH HA HA HA HA!”

 

The Jakanja general leapt into the distance and vanished.

 

Hurricane Yellow looked to his leader. “You ever fight anything like him before, Red? That was just crazy.”

 

“No,” Hurricane Red said. “And he might be crazy, but he’s dangerous.”

 

Hurricane Blue nodded. “What did he mean by that last thing he said, though? That the five of us would die before we found the bomb?”

 

Their communicators toned. Hurricane Red raised his bracer to his faceplate. “This is Simon, go ahead.”

 

“Guys,” Ashley said. “I’m picking up strange readings from your bio waves. You better come back to Ops…and bring the Thunders too.”

 

Hurricane Red looked to Crimson Thunder. The Red Ranger was reluctant to bring the Thunders back to Ops. But they had proved more of a help recently than a threat. Maybe he had to start trusting them.

 

Navy Thunder seemed just as hesitant. He looked to his older brother for reassurance, and Crimson Thunder nodded. This was apparently all it took to put Navy Thunder at ease.

 

Hurricane Red looked to his teammates and the Thunder Rangers. “All right…let’s go.”

 

***

 

Ops was not what Blake or Hunter expected. The headquarters seemed more like a glorified living room than a center for operations. The coffee table and couch were especially surprising to the two older teens.

 

Ashley did not take time to give the Thunders a tour. One-by-one, she scanned each of the Rangers. Simon, Justin, and Rachel went first, followed by Hunter. Her facial expressions became more grim with each scan, but she did not explain why.

 

“Blake,” she said. “You’re next…take off your shirt, please.”

 

Blake reluctantly took off his shirt while mumbling beneath his breath. He sat on a stool in front of Ashley’s computer cluster just as the other rangers had.

 

Ashley twirled her chair to face Blake and activated her portable scanner. The scanner cast a red hue across his toned chest, from his neck down to his stomach. She finished the scan and turned back to her computer.

 

Simon stepped forward impatiently. “So what is it?”

 

Ashley pulled up an image on her main computer screen. The image showed an x-ray view of one of the ranger’s chests. A blotch that resembled a scorpion was just below the heart and lungs.

 

“Each of you has been invaded by one of these…bugs,” Ashley said. “I’m not sure how exactly. But what I do know is that they are moving closer to your hearts. And if I try to remove them or kill them, they have an automatic defense system that will release poison directly into your blood stream.”

 

Rachel’s face became pale. “You said they’re moving to our heart? That means…” she shook her head.

 

“I’ll think of something,” Ashley said. “In the meantime you’ll need to stay here. The more active you are, the more these scorpions will move and make you weaker.”

 

Simon shook his head. “That’s not an option. There’s a bomb out there somewhere we have to find before it blows.”

 

Justin slumped his shoulders with defeat. “We don’t even know where to start looking.”

 

Blake finished pulling on his shirt and looked up. “I think I can try something…” The others looked to him, and his face turned slightly red. Blake turned to Ashley. “Can I…use your computer…please?”

 

Ashley seemed taken aback by the Thunder’s politeness. “Sure.” She stood up and rolled the chair to Blake.

 

Blake took a seat and started typing on the keyboard and moving the mouse cursor. “That psycho clown mentioned the bomb was made out of life energy from all those kids. That kind of concentrated life energy is probably giving off a strong reading.”

 

“Right,” Ashley said. “But you’ll find the same thing in densely populated areas.” 

 

“I can compensate for that,” Blake said.

 

“How?” Ashley asked.

 

“I…” He stammered. “I just can, okay.” Blake pulled up a map of an industrial zone in Angel Grove South. The map showed a strong heat signature in one of the warehouses. “There.”

 

Simon nodded. “Let’s get going.”

 

“No,” Ashley said. “It’s too dangerous in your condition. You need to stay here and let me run some more tests.”

 

“There’s no time, Ashley,” Simon said. “We have to stop this bomb before anyone else gets hurt.”

 

***

 

The Masked Mirage sat within the warehouse and screwed the cap onto the globe-shaped bomb. The glowing life energy within the bomb was visible through two glass panels on opposite sides of the device.

 

“It’s almost time…” the villain said as he rubbed the side of the bomb. “Almost time to go boom. Heh heh.”

 

A blur of motion suddenly dashed past the monster and grabbed the bomb. The rangers flipped through the air and landed on the opposite side of the warehouse, and Simon had the globe-shaped weapon in his hand.

 

Simon glared at the monster. “No one else is dying today, you freak.”

 

The rangers armed their morphers.

 

“Senpu…”

 

“Gorai…”

 

“Ninjetti Change! Ha!” Energy twirled and lashed around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms. They snapped into fighting stances.

 

Masked Mirage laughed at the team. “You’re too late to do anything, Rangers. The life energy in that bomb can not be restored if contained for too long. And you’re running out of time.”

 

Hurricane Red tucked the bomb underneath his arm. “Then we’ll have to hurry.” The Red Ranger somersaulted through the air and landed behind the monster. He dashed towards the exit.

 

Masked Mirage turned and fired optic blasts of fire that exploded around the Ranger with bursts of flame. Hurricane Red dove aside and rolled into a crouched fighting stance while turning towards the monster.

 

“Hawk Blaster!” Hurricane Red armed his weapon and fired lances of red energy that exploded against the monster with bursts of spark.

 

Masked Mirage slowly vanished and suddenly reappeared behind Hurricane Red. The monster punched Hurricane Red across the head with a powerful blow that whipped him backward.

 

Hurricane Red crashed against the ground and rolled back to his feet.

 

Masked Mirage laughed at the Red Ranger. “You can’t fight what you can’t see…” The villain created a globe of darkness in his hand. “Allow me to show you.”

 

Masked Mirage dropped the globe of darkness, and it expanded to consume the entire room. Hurricane Red was surrounded by darkness and a mist-covered floor.

 

The Red Ranger looked over his shoulder to see Masked Mirage charge forward. Hurricane Red unsheathed his sword and slashed the villain with a series of strikes that sparked on impact.

 

Hurricane Red swung a powerful backhand strike that sparked across the monster. But the image of the monster dropped to reveal the Thunder Rangers getting whipped backward by the blow.

 

“Blake, Hunter!” Hurricane Red shouted as he ran down to their side. “I thought you were the Jakanja.”

 

Crimson Thunder shook his head. “He’s using his illusions.”

 

Hurricane Yellow and Hurricane Blue stepped from the darkness and armed their Storm Blasters. They aimed the weapons at the other Rangers.

 

“Wait, stop!” Hurricane Red shouted. “It’s us!”

 

The Blue Ranger and Yellow Ranger fired lances of golden energy that exploded against their teammates with a shower of sparks. The two Rangers armed their sabers and charged forward to attack.

 

Hurricane Yellow chopped his saber at Hurricane Red. But the Red Ranger parried the blow and kicked Hurricane Yellow aside. The Yellow Ranger crashed against the ground and rolled backward.

 

Hurricane Blue swung her saber at Crimson Thunder. The Crimson Thunder Ranger used his staff to parry the blow and knock Hurricane Blue onto the ground.

 

Hurricane Blue and Hurricane Yellow regrouped and rose to their feet. They looked up to see the Mirage illusion drop and their teammates standing there instead.

 

“Guys!” Hurricane Yellow shouted. “That was you?”

 

The Masked Mirage laughed and blurred into focus from within the shadows. “How do you plan to stop me if you keep fighting each other?”

 

Hurricane Red dashed towards the monster. But Masked Mirage blurred out of focus and vanished.

 

The Red Ranger turned to see four images of the monster where his teammates had been standing. Great…are those the guys, or is one of them the monster?

 

A Masked Mirage charged at Hurricane Red to attack. The monster slashed its hands across Hurricane Red with a burst of spark.

 

The Red Ranger stepped back and swung his blade through a backhand strike that sparked across the monster and whipped the creature backward. But the image of the creature faded to reveal Hurricane Yellow.

 

“Justin!” Hurricane Red shouted. He tightened his grip on his sword. “Damn it, how are we supposed to fight like this?”

 

A voice quietly spoke in the back of the Red Ranger’s mind. “Hurricane Red…don’t trust your senses, Ranger. That is exactly what the kaijin is counting on. Focus your mind and your senses. Feel your opponent. Use your power. Ganbatte ne.”

 

Hurricane Red did not have time to question who the voice was, and the Ranger knew good advice when he heard it. He closed his eyes beneath his helmet and switched his weapon to rifle mode.

 

Dozens of Masked Mirages surrounded him.

 

Hurricane Red reached out with his mind. He possessed a strange empathy, an ability that had nothing to do with The Power. He could feel the thoughts and emotions of other people and creatures.

 

Hurricane Red suddenly swung his weapon to the side and fired lances of golden energy that exploded against Masked Mirage with bursts of spark.

 

The creature crashed against the ground, and his globe of darkness dissipated.

 

The Rangers regrouped and armed their weapons. “Let’s bring ‘em together!” Hurricane Red shouted.

 

The five Rangers combined their weapon into a single cannon. The Power Rangers stood behind the cannon, and the Thunder Rangers kneeled while resting its barrel on their shoulders. “Thunderstorm Striker!” they shouted. “Fire!”

 

The cannon fired a crackling pulse of energy that punctured through the monster with a massive burst of spark. The creature’s illusions shattered as his body crashed backward and exploded.

 

***

 

Satora’kura handed Kapri a large mask-like boomerang shaped like a bat. “Here!” Satora’kura shouted. “Fire this, fire this!”

 

Kapri raised her eyebrow at the device. “You can’t be serious…” She looked to Lothor. “He can’t be serious.”

 

Lothor nodded. “Do it.”

 

***

 

The mask boomerang spun like a propeller and created a tornado vortex that gathered the monster‘s remaining genetic material. The energy vortex reassembled the creature in a giant form.

 

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 faceplates. “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!”

 

Masked Mirage fired a stream of crackling orange energy that exploded against the Megazords with a shower of sparks.

 

Ashley’s voice came through their communicators. “Guys, I’m sending you a new Power Disc.”

 

The Power Disc materialized on Hurricane Red’s control panel.

 

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

 

StormMegazord’s chest plate opened, and Power Sphere No. 9 hovered out. The Sphere opened and released a giant red scarf.

 

“A scarf?” Hurricane Red asked with disbelief. “You’re sending us a scarf?”

 

“Just go with it,” Ashley said.

 

Masked Mirage fired another beam of energy. But StormMegazord twirled the scarf to deflect the blast with bursts of spark.

 

StormMegazord whirled the scarf around to cover itself and the ThunderMegazord, and the two Megazords vanished from sight.

 

Masked Mirage laughed. “Trying to beat me at my own game? Pathetic!”

 

Masked Mirage fired a beam of energy and swung the beam across the landscape. The blast exploded across the streets and created a wall of intense flame. The flames exploded against the two Megazords and knocked them back into view.

 

The monster fired an energy beam that exploded against the Megazords with enough force to knock the Rangers from their cockpits. The heroes crashed against the ground, and their armor powered down with flashes of light.

 

The teens tried to climb to their feet but immediately keeled over in pain. The scorpions inside of their bodies had started to move again. Agony ignited their every nerve ending and forced them to their knees.

 

The Masked Mirage looked down at the rangers and laughed. “A fitting way for you all to die…” He lifted his foot to step on the rangers.

 

Suddenly, a loud rumbling noise similar to a helicopter propeller came from the distance. The Masked Mirage looked to see a green-armored zord rise from the horizon. The zord’s bow resembled an eagle, and the craft moved with the power of a spinning helicopter propeller. Missile bays were attached to the sides of the zord.

 

The zord launched a volley of missiles that darted through the air and exploded against Masked Mirage with a shower of sparks that tore across his armor.

 

A door on the side of the zord slid open, and a green-armored Ranger leaned out. He carried a sword inside a club-shaped holster. The sword’s pommel was shaped like a microphone. The Green Ranger lifted the pommel to his faceplate.

 

“And now…” his voice projected towards the streets below. Simon recognized the voice as the one that spoke in his head earlier. “Presenting…I am: Midori no Kodan! Tenkuninja, Shurikenja, Sanjo!

 

The rangers looked up from below, and Justin wrinkled his brow. “Another one?”

 

Above, Shurikenger sat back down within the cockpit of his zord, Tenkuujin. He slid his blade into the forward control station and used the weapon as a control stick. “Tenkuujin! Missiles, fire!”

 

The zord launched another missile payload that exploded against the monster with bursts of spark. The creature stumbled several steps backward as the blasts scorched across his armor. 

 

“Tenkuujin!” Shurikenger commanded. “Hisho Henkei!

 

The zord rolled hard to port and changed shape. The engines became a pair of legs, the bow split open into a pair of arms, and the four-point propeller formed chest armor. The star-shaped propeller’s top point flipped down to become the helmet of the zord’s head.

 

“Tenkuujin!” Shurikenger shouted. “Frisan!”

 

The zord hovered in midair by using the engine turbines on its feet.

 

A Power Disc materialized on Shurikenger’s control station.

 

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

 

Strands of energy lashed out between the zord’s hands and formed Power Sphere No. 10. The sphere opened to reveal a bee-shaped weapon called the Spin Bee.

 

“Spin Bee!” Shurikenger shouted as Tenkuujin grabbed the weapon’s cord. “Spinning Strike!”

 

Tenkuujin pulled the cord, which made the bee spin and shoot towards Masked Mirage. The spinning bee slammed against the monster with a massive explosion that tore open the creature’s chest. The villain crashed backward as his energy overloaded and exploded.

 

***

 

Ashley sighed and leaned back in her chair after watching the battle. “Did someone post our Ranger designs online or something?”

 

***

 

Shurikenger leapt from his zord’s cockpit and landed near the rangers. He stood silently and looked down upon them.

 

Simon barely managed to climb to his feet while clutching his chest. “Thanks…”

 

Shurikenger said nothing. The Green Ranger unsheathed his sword. Shurikenger lifted the pommel to his faceplate. “Ugoku na!”

 

The Green Ranger swung his blade to emit a blue energy wave that splashed over the rangers and froze them in ice.

 

Shurikenger’s sword hummed with sonic energy as he dashed back and forth across the rangers and sliced through them. The blade became thin enough to pass through their bodies harmlessly while slashing through the scorpions, which fell to the ground in pieces.

 

Shurikenger lifted his pommel to his faceplate. “Unfreeze!” He swung his blade to emit another energy wave that unfroze the rangers.

 

The rangers staggered forward with shock. Simon placed his hand over his chest. The pain was gone, although he still felt a little woozy. He looked to the Green Ranger. “What did you do?”

 

Shurikenger returned his sword to his holster. “Seems you five had an infestation problem,” he said with a carefree, lighthearted voice. “So I took care of it.”

 

“Who are you?” Hunter asked.

 

Shurikenger looked over his shoulder, then back at the rangers. “Me? I’m Shurikenger.”

 

Simon shook his head. “No…who are you really?”

 

“I’m…” he hesitated and looked downward. “Sou nee…” He looked back to the rangers. “That’s fun for later.”

 

The Green Ranger leapt upward and landed on the side of his zord. He looked down at the rangers while the chopper zord hovered off into the distance. “Ja ne! We’ll meet again!”

 

“Well…” Justin said. “He was…pleasant. I suppose.”

 

***

 

Centhrax crossed his arms over his chest. He stood on the bridge of the Jakanja ship while watching Shurikenger leave the battle scene. The villain’s eyes were fixed on Hunter. “The Angel of Death still hovers over you, Crimson Thunder…”

 

To be continued…Chapter 14