Wind and Thunder: Chapter 16

Matters of Heart

 

Hunter was in pain.

 

He felt something stirring in his chest and knew it was related to Centhrax. The villain had injected a scorpion egg into Hunter’s body, and the egg had hatched and infected the other rangers as well. But the Green Ranger, Shurikenger, had killed the scorpions and saved the rangers.

 

Or had he? Hunter still felt something within his chest. Maybe his case was different because he was the one whose body was originally infested by the scorpion. Or maybe he was just imagining the pain. Either way, he did his best to ignore the sensation. He would not admit to weakness.

 

The teen was meditating in a small, deserted dojo near the Ikkazuchi Way grounds when his younger brother Blake stepped inside.

 

“There you are…” Blake said. “What are you holed up in this shack for?”

 

“Meditation,” Hunter said while keeping his eyes closed. 

 

Blake took a seat on the floor across from his brother. “You couldn’t have picked a better venue?”

 

Hunter opened his eyes. “I wanted to be left alone.” He made sure to emphasize the word before closing his eyes. “You’ve been hanging around the Hayate brats too long. You’re starting to get as annoying as they are.”

 

Blake narrowed his eyes. “What the hell’s your problem?”

 

“Blake, leave,” Hunter said.

 

Blake punched the ground, pushed himself to his feet, and stormed out.

 

Hunter hadn’t meant what he said, but he felt the need to distance himself from his younger brother. Ticking Blake off was about the only way to get some space. And Hunter needed space to figure out what was happening to him.

 

***

 

Lothor was Tao Zento, and Tao Zento was Lothor. The villain sat on his throne with a blank gaze staring forward. He had not said a word or moved in days, and his generals were starting to think their leader’s mind was lost for good.

 

Marah leaned close to Lothor and waved her hand across his face, but his eyes did not even twitch. “This is starting to get freaky.”

 

Kapri rolled her eyes. “Marah, would you get away from him.”

 

Marah waved her hand faster in front of Lothor’s face. “He hasn’t moved for days, Kapri!”

 

“You probably gave him a mental breakdown with all your…prattling,” Kapri said.

 

Marah shot a look at Kapri. “I don’t prattle!”

 

“You’re prattling now!”

 

“Do you even know what prattling means?”

 

Their voices carried through the corridors and down to the private chambers of Centhrax, where the general was joined by Zergain and Satora’kura.

 

Centhrax stood with his arms crossed and looked ahead to a viewscreen of shadow, through which he saw Hunter quietly meditate.

 

Satora’kura hummed thoughtfully to himself while watching from behind Centhrax. “Boring kid, really…doesn’t do much…”

 

The villains watched the brief exchange between Hunter and Blake, which ended with Blake storming out of the dojo.

 

Satora’kura’s eyes lit up. “I’ve got it, yes!” He turned to Zergain. “Did you see that? Did you see? Ha!” He turned Centhrax around by the shoulders. “Their emotions! We can toy with their emotions!”

 

Satora’kura waited for Centhrax to say something, but the villain did not respond. Satora’kura sighed and shook his head. “Worthless…” He looked towards Zergain and hopped towards the armored general. “You understand! Their passion! Their caring! All that emotion is a step away from hate! Think of the chaos we could create!”

 

Zergain shook his head. “I don’t see how toying with their emotions would defeat the Rangers…”

 

Defeat them?!” Satora’kura shook his head. “No, no, no, no. I’ve had a change of heart! Do you have any idea how boring it would be without them?! Focus, Zergain. Forget about grand plans and schemes that never work and yet you keep repeating. Send in the grunts, make the monster grow, blah, blah, blah.”

 

Satora’kura draped his arm around the general’s shoulder. “Take a step back and remember why you got into this business in the first place. The destruction. The anarchy. The power. Let’s forget about plans and just stir things up a bit!”

 

***

 

Zergain’s latest mechanical puppet was named Ratlith. The monster resembled a robotic rat armed with a bow and arrow. Satora’kura had used his magick to lace the arrows with spells that enhanced human desire.

 

The results were as entertaining as Satora’kura had hoped.

 

Ratlith focused on the western side of the city and targeted crowds at random. Shoppers lashed out at clerks out of anger because of high prices. Mothers locked their children inside of car trunks to keep them safe. And men killed their girlfriends to keep them from cheating.

 

***

 

Blake walked along the streets of Angel Grove West near the shore. He knew Rachel was nearby and wanted to see her. He just wasn’t sure what excuse he would use to say hi, or if doing so was even a good idea.

 

What am I doing? Blake thought. It wasn’t too long ago I was trying to kill her. Now I’m going to go whine to her about my screwed up family problems? Yeah, real smart. Way to use that genius brain of yours.

 

He shook his head. It wasn’t like he had any other options when it came to people he could confide in. And Rachel had seemed genuinely interested in reaching out to him.

 

Blake moved down a street near the boardwalk. Several shops and businesses lined the walkway. One of the nearby businesses was a recording studio that Rachel had mentioned she was going to for a meeting with her agent.

 

The ranger moved towards the building when, through the corner of his eye, he noticed a strange figure bouncing along the rooftops.

 

Blake turned his head and narrowed his eyes towards the rooftops, but he saw nothing. Well that’s always a great sign.

 

Thankful for the distraction, Blake disappeared into the crowd and leapt towards the rooftops.

 

***

 

Blake followed the trail of the elusive shape to the beach, where a television shoot was taking place. The cast and crew seemed to be on a break.

 

The star of the shoot walked towards a trailer set up close to the boardwalk. Had Blake ever watched television, he would have recognized the young man known as Michael Copon, star of the television drama Time Police and Scorpion King prequel. 

 

Copon walked into his trailer and closed the door.

 

Blake’s breath caught in his throat at what he saw nearby. Rachel and her agent Clint were walking onto the television set while moving towards the trailer.

 

Blake narrowed his eyes. “What’s she doing here?”

 

***

 

Rachel was elated. “I can’t believe I’m actually going to meet him!”

 

Clint raised his eyebrows. “He’s just a guy.”

 

“Just a guy?!” She slapped him against the arm. “He’s a huge star! How do you know him, anyway?”

 

“I used to work for the agency that gave him his start, before I decided to move out and start my own agency,” he said.

 

They moved closer to the trailer. The doors slowly swung open, and Copon stepped outside. He barely noticed a sting strike his back. Instead, his gaze was suddenly fixated on Rachel.

 

***

 

Blake had seen what looked like an arrow strike Copon, although the young man barely seemed to notice. Blake looked back along the path of the arrow and spotted Ratlith taking cover within some bushes along the boardwalk.

 

The monster was aiming another arrow towards Rachel and her agent. Then Ratlith fired.

 

Blake leapt from his cover, flipped through the air, and landed to block the arrow as it struck his shoulder. He leapt away just as fast to avoid being seen.

 

The ranger took cover behind some crates that were part of the set. He peaked around from the boxes and looked to Rachel, who looked safe and oblivious.

 

He knew he should have looked for the monster, but for some reason, he could not take his eyes off of Rachel, and strange emotions started to overwhelm him.

 

***

 

Ratlith continued to stalk through Angel Grove West near the beach. His arrows caused havoc. Old men chased after young boys in bathing suits, whose fathers beat the crap out of the men. And women fell in love with the ocean itself and swam out towards its depths, never returning.

 

***

 

Blake had leapt back to the construction site at the docks where he and his older brother worked. He stared ahead aimlessly as he walked through the docks, not even noticing his brother taking a brief break while sitting on a crate. 

 

Hunter narrowed his eyes at the sight. Blake wasn’t one to gaze off aimlessly. “Blake…”

 

Blake snapped his head around in surprise. “Oh…hey, big brother. How’ve you been feeling?”

 

Hunter shook his head. “Forget about me. What are you daydreaming about?”

 

Blake looked off towards the distance as Hunter took a drink from his water bottle. “Well…have you ever been in love?”

 

Hunter spat out his drink.

 

***

 

Rachel moved to a much smaller trailer further up the beach, where a celebration called Rising Waves was organized. The annual celebration featured lesser-known, rising music artists. Rachel’s agent had secured her a spot in the show.

 

The ranger was putting on makeup while sitting in her trailer room. The door slowly opened, and Copon stepped in. He was carrying flowers.

 

Rachel practically froze with surprise, and her face turned slightly blush. “Umm…high?”

 

Copon flashed her a smile. “Hey…sorry I had to run off before we could meet. I’m Michael. Michael Copon.” He extended the flowers. “These are for you.”

 

It took her a minute or so before she could reach out and take the flowers. Was she dreaming? “Umm…thanks? I mean…” She shook her head to clear away the haze. “I mean…thank you. I’m Rachel. Rachel Gray.”

 

“Rachel…” he said her name with a smooth baritone that made her heart flutter. “That’s a beautiful name, Rachel.”

 

“Rachel!” a voice shouted from outside the trailer. Her agent was calling her. “Rachel, come on! You’re almost up!”

 

She smiled shyly at Copon. “I, uh…I have to go…”

 

***

 

Rachel waited backstage for her turn to perform. She had never sang to such a large crowd before, and she was nervous. The fact that Michael Copon was probably watching made her even more nervous.

 

She heard something drop behind her, and she snapped around with surprise. It was Blake. “Blake! You scared me…”

 

Blake’s face was stern and his body rigid. He looked like he was ready for a confrontation.

 

Rachel knitted her brow with concern. “What is it?”

 

Blake thrust his hand forward. In his palm was a letter. “This is how I feel about you.” His voice was shaky and unsure, but he tried to hide it by being firm. “Please take it.”

 

Rachel took the letter, and Blake quickly stepped behind a corner and vanished. She slowly unfolded the paper and started to read. The note was brief. “I know this comes as a surprise,” she read quietly, “but I love you?!”

 

***

 

Rachel met with Simon and Justin in Ops later that night. She had just finished showing her teammates the note from Blake and the flowers from Michael Copon.

 

Simon read Blake’s letter for the seventh time. “This is from Blake? Really? Who does he think he’s kidding?”

 

Justin slowly twirled the flowers around in his hands. “The Michael Copon…” He shook his head and then whispered. “I love Time Police.”

 

“Can you believe it?” Rachel asked. She tried to act concerned about her predicament, but her voice betrayed her excitement. “It’s crazy!”

 

Simon looked over the card again. “So what are you going to do?”

 

Justin noticed a small card stuffed within the flowers. “Hey, Rachel, did you see this?” He pulled out the card and quickly read it. “There’s a time and place written on here. I think he wants to meet you.”

 

Rachel’s face lit up. “Are you kidding?”

 

Simon shook his head and read over the note again. “Well…Blake doesn’t stand a chance.”

 

***

 

Blake contacted Simon and Justin the next day and asked to meet with them. They gathered on a small pedestrian bridge in Angel Grove West. Blake was more animate than the other rangers had ever seen.

 

“You have to help me!” he pleaded.

 

Simon arced an eyebrow and looked to Justin. To say they were shocked at the Thunder Ranger was an understatement.

 

“Um, Blake…” Simon started to say. “I don’t know…I mean…we don’t even like each other, really.”

 

Blake waved his hand dismissively. “That doesn’t matter, this is about Rachel.” His gaze drifted off. “Every time I see her…” He shook his head. “When I look at her…being around her is like…”

 

“Man…” Justin said. He couldn’t help but smile. “You’re really smitten, huh.”

 

“You might say that,” Blake said. “So what am I supposed to do?”

 

Simon sighed and reluctantly gave in. “I don’t know…try giving her a present or something.”

 

“Yeah,” Justin said. “Like a cute animal…or something.”

 

Blake nodded, a look of determination in his eyes. “A cute animal…”

 

***

 

Rachel stood at a street corner in Angel Grove West and waited for Copon. She anxiously checked her watch for the third time since arriving. She still had about 11 minutes until the time Copon asked her to arrive.

 

She lowered her watch and straightened her blue blouse.

 

Rachel did not notice Simon and Justin watching from the cover of several nearby bushes.

 

Simon looked to Justin. “Blake better hurry if he wants to pull this off.”

 

“You think he can?” Justin asked.

 

“Pfft.” Simon shook his head. “No way. But it’ll be fun to see him try.”

 

Rachel checked her watch again. A hand reached out and touched her shoulder from behind, and she immediately snapped around. It was Blake. “Blake! I told you, you can’t keep sneaking…”

 

She was stunned silent when she saw what Blake had with him. He had a cow by the leash.

 

Blake extended the leash towards Rachel. She had no way of knowing that the spell interfering with his emotions was also interfering with his reasoning and logic.  “I got this for you…” he told her. “It’s a present. I heard you like cute animals.”

 

Rachel wrinkled her nose. “A cow?”

 

From the bushes, Simon slapped his forehead with disbelief and shook his head. “Is he serious about this?”

 

Justin tilted his head. “He brought her a freaking cow?”

 

Blake pushed the cow’s leash closer to Rachel, and she took a step back. “Blake…I can’t…I don’t even know how to…wow…”

 

“What is it?” Blake asked. “You don’t like cows?”

 

Rachel closed her eyes and took a deep breath to keep from snapping. “That’s not the point, Blake, you don’t get people cows as gifts! Besides, now is a bad time.”

 

A sleek, topless, silver car suddenly turned a corner and drove to the side of the road next to Rachel. Copon was driving. The actor took off a pair of sunglasses and smiled at Rachel. “Hope I didn’t keep you waiting.”

 

Blake narrowed his eyes and took a step closer to the car. “Who the hell are you?”

 

Rachel quickly stepped around Blake to cut him off and get into the car. “Blake, I’m sorry, I have to go. I can‘t take your…your cow.”

 

Blake shook his head. “But Rachel-”

 

Copon shot the ranger a look. “Listen, kid. We have things to do.” He put on his sunglasses and smiled mockingly at the ranger. “Run on home with your cow.”

 

The actor slammed his foot against the gas and sped off.

 

Blake’s shoulders sagged as he dropped the leash.

 

***

 

Rachel and Copon bounced a beach ball back and forth while on the shore. They had changed out of their clothes and into swimming suits. Rachel wore a two-piece, light-blue bikini, and Copon wore black swimming trunks.

 

Copon noticed one of the beachgoers checking Rachel out from the distance. The actor narrowed his brow and walked towards the young man. “Hey…who are you looking at?”

 

“Huh?” the teenage boy asked. “Dude, what’s your problem?”

 

Copon smashed a punch across the teen’s jaw.

 

“Michael!” Rachel shouted as he ran over to him. “Leave him alone!”

 

Copon turned to Rachel and glared at her. “What, you like this guy?” He slapped the back of his hand across her face. “Do you?!”

 

A blur of motion suddenly dropped from the skies and slammed against Copon. It was Blake. “You ever touch her again, I swear to god I will break off your hand.”

 

Beachgoers suddenly screamed and ran in panic. Zergain’s monster had appeared with its crossbow in hand. 

 

Blake narrowed his eyes at the monster.

 

“Rachel, stay back,” Blake stepped in front of her and Copon, and he armed his morpher.

 

“Gorai…Ninjetti Change! Ha!” Energy lashed around him as he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

Navy Thunder snapped into a fighting stance and looked over his shoulder to Copon. “Get out of here, pretty boy, if you don‘t wanna die. Leave this to the real heroes.”

 

Copon grabbed Navy Thunder by the wrist and flipped him to the ground. The actor straightened his swim trunks and squared off to face the monster. He glanced over his shoulder at the Navy Thunder Ranger.

 

“You’re not the only hero…” Copon reached behind his back and pulled out a familiar, green morphing sphere. “Shurikenja ball!

 

Copon held the sphere up high and brought it down to chest level.

 

“Tenku…Ninjetti Change! Ha!” Green energy twirled around him like a cyclone as he morphed into Shurikenger. He snapped into a fighting stance. “Midori no Kodan! Tenkuninja, Shurikenja! Sanjo!

 

Rachel opened her eyes wide with shock. “Shurikenger?!”

 

Shurikenger snapped into a fighting stance and looked over his shoulder to Rachel. “You don’t have to worry, koishii. I’m-”

 

Navy Thunder grabbed tightly onto the Green Ranger’s arm and pushed him away. “She’s not your darling, she’s mine!”

 

Shurikenger grabbed Navy Thunder’s arm, and the two Rangers started pulling and tugging at each other. “Unhand me! Warui ko!”

 

Rachel grabbed both Rangers by the shoulders and tried to pull them apart from each other. “Boys, what is wrong with you? Stop it!”

 

Shurikenger and Navy Thunder spun backward. The Navy Thunder Ranger armed his Thunder Staff, and the Green Ranger unsheathed his sword. They pounced at each other and clashed weapons.

 

The Green Ranger pressed his sword hard against Navy Thunder’s staff. “She loves me, little beetle boy. You shouldn’t have-”

 

“You were hurting her!” Navy Thunder shouted.

 

“Boys!” Rachel shouted. “There’s a fricking monster right over there!”

 

Ratlith armed his crossbow and fired a volley of energy arrows that streaked towards Rachel.

 

Rachel quickly stepped back and armed her morpher. “Ninjetti Change!”

 

Energy swirled around her as she morphed into her Ranger form, and the arrows exploded against her armor with bursts of spark. One of the arrows managed to singe her ankle before her morphing was complete, and she collapsed to the ground.

 

“Rachel!” Navy Thunder and Shurikenger shouted as they ran towards Hurricane Blue and kneeled at her side.

 

Ratlith reloaded an arrow volley and opened fire at the Rangers.

 

The Green Ranger and Navy Thunder Ranger stood in front of the arrows and swung their arms out wide to block the blasts, which exploded against their armor with bursts of spark. The blasts forced them back several steps, but they stood their ground.

 

Ratlith armed a larger arrow and opened fire. The arrow exploded around the three Rangers with a massive burst of flame that whipped them off the ground and sent them crashing against the beach. Navy Thunder’s staff flew from his hand and landed in the ground near the monster.

 

Shurikenger used his sword to try and steady himself and rise to his feet, but he collapsed. And Hurricane Blue’s leg was too injured for her to rise.

 

Navy Thunder rose to his feet, his legs wobbling, as he armed his Stag Breaker. He stepped back into a fighting stance and stood protectively in front of Hurricane Blue as he faced the monster. “You picked the wrong girl to mess with!”

 

The monster laughed with a high-pitched voice. “What you’re feeling’s not even real!” The mechanical creature rubbed is crossbow. “It’s my arrows. They toy with their your emotions.”

 

Navy Thunder tightened his grip on his weapon. “It is real!”

 

“Ha.” Ratlith opened fire with a volley of energy arrows that sparked against Navy Thunder’s armor and pushed him back, but he stayed on his feet.

 

“I won’t let you hurt her!” Navy Thunder shouted.

 

The monster fired another volley. Arrows of yellow energy exploded against his armor and knocked the Stag Breaker from his hands. The blasts stung across his body, stabbing against his chest, arms, and legs.

 

But Navy Thunder stood his ground. “I won’t! Let! You! Hurt! Her!”

 

Hurricane Blue looked up from the ground at Navy Thunder. “Blake, stop! You’re going to get yourself killed!”

 

Ratlith armed another high-yield arrow. “Get himself killed? That sounds like an idea.”

 

The monster fired the arrow, which exploded against Navy Thunder with a massive eruption of flame that consumed the Ranger and blocked him from view.

 

“Blake!” Hurricane Blue shouted as the flames whipped across the ground.

 

When the flames cleared, Navy Thunder was still on his feet. He stood with his arms stretched and breathed deeply, using all his willpower and strength to stay standing.

 

The rat monster shook its head. “Impossible! That was my highest-yield arrow!”

 

Navy Thunder slowly stalked towards the monster. His legs wobbled with each step, but he moved forward and kept his arms raised in a fighting stance. His breathing was deep and rapid. He was clearly weak and ready to collapse, but he pushed forward.

 

Meanwhile, Hurricane Red, Hurricane Yellow, and Crimson Thunder arrived at the scene, having been called by Ashley. They gathered around Hurricane Blue and Shurikenger.

 

“Guys, it’s Blake,” Hurricane Blue said. “That monster has him and Shurikenger under some kind of a…”

 

Hurricane Red nodded. “Ashley filled us in.”

 

Navy Thunder stepped closer to the monster. The mechanical creature was too shocked to open fire. The Navy Thunder Ranger grabbed Ratlith’s wrist and twisted, which knocked the crossbow out of the monster’s hand and onto the ground.

 

“Ha!” Navy Thunder stepped forward with a powerful punch that smashed against the monster’s armor with a burst of spark that knocked the creature off its feet.

 

Nearby, Shurikenger lifted Navy Thunder’s Stag Breaker. “Thunder Ranger! Catch!”

 

Shurikenger hurled the weapon towards Navy Thunder. The Navy Thunder Ranger lifted his Thunder Staff from the beach and swung the weapon over his shoulder. The Stag Breaker attached to the end of the staff with a burst of navy-tinted lightning.

 

“Lightning Style!” Navy Thunder shouted. “Thunder Strike Jutsu!” Navy Thunder channeled his energy into the staff, which crackled with bolts of electricity.

 

Navy Thunder swung the weapon through an x-shaped pattern that streaked with lightning and slashed against the monster’s armor with bursts of spark. The Navy Thunder Ranger speared his weapon at the monster, used the Stag Breaker to grab the creature, and lifted Ratlith into the air.

 

The Navy Thunder Ranger poured streams of lightning along the staff, and the lightning lashed out against the monster’s body, sparking on impact and tearing apart its armor.

 

Navy Thunder hurled the creature backward, and its energy overloaded and exploded.

 

Breathing a sigh of relief, Navy Thunder lowered his weapon and nearly collapsed. Crimson Thunder dashed to his brother’s side and held him up. “Blake…”

 

Navy Thunder and Shurikenger felt the effects of the monster’s arrows lift away soon after the creature was destroyed.

 

Shurikenger rose to his feet and placed his hand over his chest. “It’s gone…” He breathed a sigh of relief. “That was not a good time.”

 

A copy giant suddenly shot through the air and landed further down the shore. The giant scanned the remains of Ratliff and used the data to transform into a giant duplicate of the monster.

 

Hurricane Red and Hurricane Yellow helped Hurricane Blue to her feet, but she could not stand on her own. She winced in pain.

 

Navy Thunder looked to the Blue Ranger. “You’re hurt, Rachel…” He didn’t sound demeaning as usual. He actually sounded compassionate. “Let us handle this one.”

 

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.

 

Shurikenger lifted his ball-shaped morpher. “Tenkuujin!”

 

The helicopter zord flew from the distance, and Shurikenger leapt into his cockpit.

 

“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!”

 

“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!”

 

Tenkuujin stepped back and pulled off the star armor on its chest. The armor formed a bladed weapon.

 

“Tenku Shuriken!” Shurikenger shouted. The zord hurled the blade forward like a throwing star.

 

Ratlith dove beneath the spinning blade and fired an explosive-tipped arrow towards the zord’s chest.

 

The ThunderMegazord lunged forward and used its Stag Claw to block the arrow with a burst of spark.

 

Shurikenger would have smiled if he had a mouth. “Glad there’s no hard feelings…”

 

The Tenku throwing star spun past the monster, slashed across its armor with bursts of spark, and returned to the hand of Tenkuujin.

 

Shurikenger looked to the Thunder Rangers’ mecha through his viewport. “Let’s gattai.”

 

“Combine?” Navy Thunder spoke with his brother through the cockpit’s communication system. “We can join with this guy’s zord too?”

 

Crimson Thunder gripped his controls. “We’ll find out.”

 

“Tenkuujin!” Shurikenger shouted. “Tenku Buso!”

 

The zord reconfigured and mounted onto the ThunderMegazord’s back. The thrusters formed a pair of shoulder-mounted cannons that aimed forward.

 

“Tenku Gouraijin! Shurikenger shouted. “Frisan!”

 

The helicopter propeller let the Megazord hover through midair.

 

Ratlith opened fire with a volley of energy arrows. The Megazord dashed to the side and used its Stag Claw to swat the bolts away. The propeller brought the Megazord in close, and ThunderMegazord dashed past Ratlith while slashing the creature across its armor with a burst of spark.

 

ThunderMegazord hovered backward and landed on the ground to face off with the monster. The Megazord’s shoulder cannon turbines started to spin and gather energy.

 

“Tenku Gouraijin!” Shurikenger shouted. “Gale-Force Thunder!”

 

The cannons fired whirling streams of energy that shot forward and blasted around Ratlith. The wind and thunder lashed across the villain’s armor, ripping his body apart with massive explosions and sparks. The wind blew the monster backward as his body overloaded and exploded.

 

***

 

Shurikenger stood in front of Rachel on the beach and bowed. “I’m…I’m so sorry. There’s no excuse for the way I acted.”

 

“It wasn’t your fault, it was the arrow,” she said. “Although…I’ll probably never look at another Michael Copon movie in the same way again.”

 

“Why were you posing as him?” Justin asked.

 

Shurikenger shrugged. “I was tracking the mechanical kaijin.” He shook his head with embarrassment. “I didn’t think I’d get hit with one of his arrows.”

 

Rachel sighed. “I guess I should have known…no way someone like Michael Copon would actually fall for me.”

 

“Who wouldn’t fall for-” Blake started to say before he caught himself. His face turned slightly red. “I mean…that must be a side effect of the arrow lingering around…I’m sure it’ll go away.”

 

“Blake…” Rachel reached a hand for his arm, but he pulled away.

 

“No, really,” Blake said defensively. “That’s all it was. You can’t expect me to recover from something like that right away.”

 

“Actually,” Shurikenger said, “I feel perfectly-”

 

“Hey, no one asked you, star face,” Blake snapped. He looked back to Rachel and gave her an uncomfortable smile to try and hide his embarrassment and frustration with himself. “It’s fine, really…It’s fine.”

 

“Blake, I’m sorry,” she said. “You weren’t exactly acting normal.”

 

“I know,” he said. “But besides, even if I was acting fine, how could I compete with Michael Copon, right?”

 

“Don’t say that,” Rachel said.

 

Hunter placed a hand on his brother’s shoulder and led him away. “Let’s go.”

 

Rachel watched Blake walk off. She wondered if maybe one of the monster’s arrows had struck her too.

 

To be continued…Chapter 17