Ultimate Origins: Chapter Eleven

Marauders: Shadows

 

Hunter dashed across the rooftops at night and tried to outrun his feelings of guilt. But his own emotions continued to choke him, no matter how fast he ran.

 

The night had been productive, at least. Dressed in the garb of the Ikkazuchi Way, he had stopped two muggings and caught a group of thugs who tried to rob a gas station. His Ikkazuchi Way ninja were spread across the entire city, doing the same. He'd transformed them from assassins to heroes. That alone would have been enough to make any other man feel redeemed, but not Hunter.

 

"Hunter!" he heard a voice shout from behind. He instantly recognized the voice as his younger brother Blake. But he kept running anyway. "Hunter, come on, we need to talk!"

 

Reluctantly, Hunter stopped and turned to face Blake as he landed on the rooftop.

 

Blake stood silently for a moment and shifted his weight back and forth on his feet. "...Hey."

 

"Hey," Hunter said. "It's a busy night."

 

"I know," Blake said. "But don't you think we should talk about what we all saw?"

 

Hunter shook his head. Rachel was having quite the effect on Blake for him to want to talk about his feelings. "Not particularly."

 

"I had no idea about Keiko. You shouldn't beat yourself up over it, man, it's not your fault we were raised by psychopaths," Blake said.

 

"Is that why you beat yourself up over your first kill?" Hunter asked.

 

Blake took a step back. "That's different; he was a defenseless old man. I murdered him."

 

"We've both killed a lot of people," Hunter said. "What happened to us reminded Rachel of that."

 

Blake shook his head. "Look...I'm not even...I can't even think about that right now."

 

"I know. That's why you're here," Hunter said. "You're talking to me about my issues instead of facing your own. What she saw in you. What you saw in her."

 

"She's lied to me this whole time," Blake said.

 

"We all have secrets," Hunter said. "Who's to say she wouldn't have told you eventually."

 

"I might be Angel Grove's No. 1 social retard, but I'm pretty sure your name is one of the first things you share with people," Blake said. "That and sex."

 

"The point is, you two have something to talk about," Hunter said. "Together. I'll deal with my demons alone."

 

Hunter turned and leapt away.

 

***

 

Tommy leaned back thoughtfully after Simon finished explaining what had happened in the pocket dimension.

 

"If what they faced was anything like Nightmare..." Tommy shook his head. "He gets into your head, stirs up all your fears and feelings of guilt. He twists you. That's probably what happened to Kou, but in his case, the process actually finished."

 

Simon nodded. "There was something weird about the way they acted afterward though," he said. "It wasn't just that their own emotions were stirred. It was almost like they shared each others' experiences. Whatever one of them saw, the other three saw too."

 

"That had to be awkward," Tommy said.

 

Simon nodded. "So now what?"

 

"You need to talk to them," Tommy said. "Use that empathic ability of yours to help them deal with whatever it is they're going through. In the meantime, I'm going to go talk to Kou."

 

"Um, you're what?" Simon asked. "He didn't exactly seem like the talkative type. More like the homicidal, stab-you-as-soon-as-I-see-you type."

 

"He's not in control," Tommy said. "If I can reach out to him, I might be able to save him. Anyway, I'll deal with Kou. You help your teammates. You're going to need them. Something tells me Akuma isn't going to wait for you guys to pull it together before making his next move."

 

***

 

Blake stepped through the wide doors of the church and walked inside to see Rachel sitting in the pews alone. He moved down the aisle and took a seat next to her, saying nothing. She looked to him through the corner of her eyes.

 

"How did you find me?" she asked.

 

"Tracked your morpher," he said. "I know that's creepy, but ya know...I was worried about you." They sat in awkward silence a moment more before Blake spoke. "Why didn't you tell me?"

 

"How was I supposed to?" she asked. "My entire family moved here to protect me. We all swore to each other we would never talk about what happened. Ever."

 

"I get that, but..." Blake shook his head. "It's me, though. I mean, I wouldn't have told anyone. And I would have understood."

 

"I don't even understand," she said as tears swelled in her eyes. "I was so stupid back then. Witchcraft? I don't know what I was thinking. Maybe I was trying to get back at my dad for something, I don't even remember. All I know is, I was careless, and people died because of it."

 

"Is that why you enrolled in the Hayate Way?" he asked. "To learn how to control your power?"

 

Rachel nodded.

 

"Well...what happened was an accident," he said. "And you did the right thing afterward, learning more about your abilities instead of running from them."

 

"But I did run," she said.

 

"That's different," he said. "That was to keep you safe. All I'm saying is, it was brave of you to learn more about your abilities instead of trying to pretend nothing happened."

 

"That doesn't help," she said.

 

"Maybe it's not supposed to. This is going to sound really weird, but maybe you should feel grateful that what happened still haunts you. People died; that's not something you should ever just get over. The fact that you haven't just means you have a heart. I mean, you care about people." He sighed with frustration and shook his head. "I'm not making any sense. I suck ass at this."

 

"You're doing fine," she said as she placed her hand on his. "What about you? And what you saw in your past?"

 

Blake shook his head. "I don't know. At the time, I mean, it didn't bother me at all. At least I didn't think it did. But now looking back on it." He shook his head. "I don't know, I just hate myself sometimes. I really do. And I hate that you had to see that. I don't want you to hate me."

 

Rachel nodded, and Blake leaned slightly closer to her. "That was the point where you were supposed to say, 'I don't hate you Blake.'"

 

"I don't hate you, Blake," she said. "It's just sometimes I forget, you know? Who you were. Everything you went through," she said. "What I saw reminded me of that."

 

"Okay..." he said. "So now what? I mean, you know I'm not that person anymore, right?"

 

Rachel nodded. "I know. Now...now we just move forward. No more secrets. We know the best and worst about each other, and here we are. That's got to say something, right?"

 

"Right," he said as he gave her hand a gentle squeeze.

 

***

 

Justin sat in the deserted gym of the Angel's Haven Children's Shelter as Simon walked in.

 

"Hey," Simon said as he walked towards his friend. "Got a second?"

 

Justin shrugged. "Saying no wouldn't make you leave, so sure. Have a seat."

 

Simon took a seat next to Justin, and Justin told Simon about everything he had experienced within the Nightmare creature. Simon leaned back and tried to take everything in.

 

"Well...I had no idea," he said.

 

"Well that's because I never said anything," Justin said.

 

Simon nodded. "It wasn't your fault. For him to have taken his own life, a lot had to have been going on."

 

"But if I would have been his friend. I could have stopped it," Justin said.

 

"You don't know that," Simon said. "You can't spend your life wondering what might have been, and how things might have worked differently. What happened happened. Nothing can change that."

 

Justin nodded. "Thanks, Red. So..." He shifted, anxious to change the subject. "When are you going to ask me what you really want to ask me?"

 

"What? The gay thing?" Simon asked. "I'm cool with that, Teddy is one of my best friends."

 

Justin rolled his eyes. "No, not that. After we talked to Capt. Mitchell a few weeks back. He told us my father was still alive, and we just left it at that. You haven't mentioned anything about it since."

 

"I wanted to give you some time," Simon said. "I didn't want you to feel pressured or anything."

 

"But you want me to find him. And talk to him," Justin said. "Because he's the only lead you have left if you're going to find out the truth about your birth father."

 

Simon nodded. "Yeah."

 

Justin sighed and leaned back. "I have no desire to see him. At least I don't think I do. But maybe I need to, ya know? And if I'm doing it as a favor to you, well, that gives me a great excuse."

 

Their communicators suddenly toned, and Simon answered. "This is Simon, go ahead."

 

Ashley answered. "It's the Marauders," she said. "They're back."

 

***

 

Simon and the rest of his team regrouped at Unity Park in Angel Grove North to face off with the Marauders. The park was nestled in between towering skyscrapers of white stone and steel, and across the park were various flower gardens and ornate water fountains, all connected by a winding path of white brick.

 

The park was empty, the people having fled at the sight of six Marauders: Raven, Shadow Blade, Red Python, Vexacus, Volf, and Feral. Raven seemed to be anxiously looking back and forth, more than likely looking for his brother Kou, who was not with them. Vexacus stood casually with his sword slung over his shoulder.

 

"Hello, Rangers," Vexacus taunted. "I'm surprised to see the five of you standing together. Not feeling too awkward, I hope?"

 

Simon narrowed his eyes and pointed at the villain. "The only thing we're feeling is an itch to kick your butt."

 

Justin arced an eyebrow. "Seriously?"

 

The teens armed their morphers.

 

"Senpu..."

 

"Gorai..."

 

"Ninjetti change! Ha!" Energy twirled around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

Shadow Blade armed his sword, dashed forward in a blur of motion, and zigzagged back and forth between the Rangers while slashing across their armor with bursts of spark. 

 

***

 

Tommy walked to the edge of the charred pit that led into the pocket dimension where the Rangers had escaped. He stood casually with his hands in his pockets and waited. He knew his appearance would attract the attention of the Marauders, a particular Marauder, and he was right.

 

"I knew you would come here," a voice said from behind.

 

Tommy turned to face Kou, standing in his human form. "I figured you would," he said, trying to keep his voice calm and soothing. "You don't have to do this, Kou. You don't have to fight us. There are still people here who care about you and want you to-"

 

"Kimberly is dead," he said sharply.

 

Tommy hesitated. "She is. In a way that's a good thing; she would've been torn up seeing you like this. This isn't you. And besides, Kimberly wasn't the only one who cared about you. I did. Rocky did. Adam did. We're all still here, and we can help you."

 

"There's no helping me," he said quietly.

 

Kou transformed into Karas with a burst of shadowy energy and charged at the rangers' mentor to attack. Tommy summoned his golden-hilted sword Ryuseikin with a burst of golden flame, and he parried Karas's sword with a clash of steel against steel.

 

Karas reached back and swung his saber towards Tommy's head, but Tommy easily blocked the blow. "I know exactly what you're going through, Kou."

 

Karas spun again and struck low, but Tommy blocked the sword, twisted the blade downward, and held the weapon in place. "I know what it's like to have a storm of darkness consume you, take you over. So I know, inside of you somewhere, is the real Kou. Alone. Screaming in the darkness."

 

Karas shouted, pulled his sword free, and snapped a kick that Tommy blocked. Karas stabbed his blade at Tommy, but Tommy easily sidestepped the strike. Karas used a backhand swing to arc his blade back towards Tommy, and Tommy parried the weapon.

 

"Screaming," Tommy said again. "Your mother gone. Your father, twisted and evil, dead. Your old life, erased forever. What else can you do but scream?"

 

Karas shouted and swung his blade with a demented fervor, screaming with each strike that Tommy easily blocked.

 

"Take that anger," Tommy said. "Use it. Break through the storm, break free from yourself. Scream until it hurts and punch through the shadow that's taken you over completely. Take control."

 

Karas screamed and collapsed to his hands and knees, and Kou's armor vanished with a sizzling fog that drifted from his body and dissipated into the air. The boy breathed deeply and quickly, trying to calm himself, his body clenched, his face wet with tears. 

 

Tommy kneeled down next to him. "You don't have to live in darkness anymore. You can continue where you left off. You can be a Ranger again." 

 

Kou sat back, his hands still clenched into fists, his gaze distant. His breathing slowed to normal. "Even if I wanted to, that's not possible. The power of Karas isn't the power of a Ranger. It's too...dark."

 

"I'm not talking about using your Karas power," Tommy said as he reached behind his back. He pulled out the sphere-shaped morpher of the former Green Ranger. "This used to belong to someone named Shurikenger. He was powerful, but light-hearted. I didn't realize it at the time, but he reminded me a lot of you.

 

"A part of his Life Force, his Animal Spirit, is still inside his Power Disc. Use it to fight against Akuma," Tommy said as he extended the morpher towards Kou. "Use it to become the Green Ranger."

 

Kou looked to the morpher and stared silently, and Tommy saw the briefest hint of a glimmer in the teen's eyes. Kou looked up to his new mentor with a slight, sideways smile. "So…the color white wasn't an option?"

 

***

 

Raven hurled a dark energy blade that slashed across the Rangers with bursts of spark and knocked them onto their feet. Worn and beaten, they slowly climbed to their feet and stepped back into defensive stances as their enemies regrouped.

 

Hurricane Yellow looked to his leader. "We can't take much more of this beating."

 

The Red Ranger tightened his grip on his sword. "Okay, here's what we'll do..."

 

"Hey!" a voice shouted in the near distance. The Rangers looked to see Kou run to the scene.

 

The young teen stopped and narrowed his eyes at his brother. "Leave them alone!"

 

"Hmph." Raven barely spared his brother a glance. "Kou, I'm disappointed in you. You were showing such great potential. Now all you're showing is great weakness."

 

"I'm about to show you my fist in your face, brother." Kou pulled his morpher from behind his back. "Shurikenja ball!"

 

Bringing the sphere to chest level, he shouted. "Tenku! Ninjetti Change!" He thrust the sphere forward. "Ha!" Green energy twirled around him like a cyclone as he morphed into the green and golden armor of the late Shurikenger. He snapped into a fighting stance. "Midori no Kodan! Tenkuninja, Hariken Green, Sanjo!"

 

Hurricane Green unsheathed his sword and swung the weapon casually over his shoulder.

 

Vexacus lowered his head and glared at the newest Ranger. The villain was clearly disturbed at seeing the armor of his old enemy. "Kill him. Now."

 

The Red Python hurled darts of red energy that Hurricane Green swung his sword to deflect, while Volf and Feral charged like animals to attack.

 

"Sure, brother, send in your pets!" Hurricane Green shouted.

 

The Green Ranger charged past his two opponents while twirling his blade and slashing across their bodies with bursts of spark. The two villains were trained to fight the five core Power Rangers, meaning the fighting style of the new Green Ranger was unfamiliar to them, which took them off guard.

 

"Ha!" Hurricane Green leapt upward, somersaulted through the air, and chopped his blade towards his brother's head.

 

Raven sidestepped and parried the weapon, and Hurricane Green quickly twirled the blade back to swing a wide arc that sparked across the villain's chest.

 

Raven gasped the wound and staggered backward, taken off guard by the attack from his own brother. "You are a bastard!"

 

"That would make you one too, brother!" Hurricane Green dashed forward with a jumpkick that smashed upside his brother's head, and he spun forward with a reverse sidekick that smashed against Raven's chest.

 

Sparks suddenly ignited against the Green Ranger's back and sent him staggering forward. He turned to see the Red Python and Shadow Blade charging at him with their weapons held outward.

 

Hurricane Green looked deep into his spirit for the source of his new power, and he tapped into the familiar energies of sound itself.

 

The Green Ranger pulled a ball out from behind his back. “Sonic Style! Spinning Barrage Jutsu!”

 

He tossed the ball upward as he would a baseball, and the ball created dozens of sonic echoes that dropped in front of the Ranger. Hurricane Green spun like a tornado and swung his holstered sword like a bat to knock the spheres towards the Marauders. The sonic spheres exploded against the villains with massive bursts of spark.

 

Pushing forward, the Green Ranger pressed down on his belt buckle to unhook his golden vest, which crashed against the ground. Face Changee!” The top of his helmet twisted around and changed his visor. “Hariken Green: Faiya Modo!

 

He pulled a small sphere out from behind his back. “Sonic Style! Sound Barrage Jutsu!”

 

Hurricane Green charged the ball with jade-tinted energy and hurled it at the villains. The spinning ball produced 12 sonic duplicates that exploded against the Marauders with massive bursts of sparks that tore across their armor.

 

Slowly, Vexacus climbed to his feet as smoke sizzled from his wounds. The villain clutched his injured chest and glared at the newest addition to the Ranger team. Cursing beneath his breath, the villain turned to his Marauders. "Fall back and regroup." He looked back towards the Green Ranger. "This isn't over, little Ranger."

 

"It is for now, sharky," Green Ranger said. "Run and hide."

 

Vexacus and the Marauders turned and teleported away, leaving the five Rangers standing in shock at the sight of their new comrade- who less than a day ago had tried to gut them.

 

Hurricane Red was the first to step towards the Green Ranger. “Kou…is this some kind of trick? An illusion?”

 

Hurricane Green shook his head and powered down his armor, returning to his normal form, which happened to look more normal. Gone were the tints of red in his eyes and the pale cast to his skin. He was Kou again. “It’s me…” He grasped the morpher of Shurikenger in his hand. “For the most part.”

 

Their communicators toned, and Tommy’s voice came through. “Guys, I’ll explain about Kou later. Right now we’ve got trouble. The big kind. One of the Shinzon is giant near Angel’s Wing Plaza.”

 

Navy Thunder sighed with agitation. “When are you going to make another Ranger team so we don’t have to fight a different bad guy every five seconds?”

 

“Soon enough, but that’s beside the point,” Tommy said. “Get going.”

 

***

 

Description: C:\Users\Jason\Pictures\00- Sentai\S1986- Flashman\Flashman monsters\monster-15.jpgThe giant Primazon’s body was twisted orange-and-gray muscle tissue. A patch of white fur covered his chest, and the same type of fur covered his head and face and swept down his shoulders. The creature was armed with a double-bladed broadsword that glimmered in the dim sunlight.

 

Below, the five Rangers ran to the scene and stared up at the towering creature.

 

Hurricane Red tried to ignore the fact that this creature had once been an animal- more than likely several different animals- helpless and innocent. Whatever twisted science warped the creature into existence, though, had stripped it of any heart or soul. The Red Ranger could feel no emotion from the creature.

 

He raised his morpher to his faceplate. “Storm-zords, arise!”

 

Hurricane Hawk, Hurricane Lion, and Hurricane Dolphin swooped down from the skies, and the Wind Power Rangers leapt into the air and merged into their cockpits.

 

Hurricane Red stood behind a pedestal that carried a crystal control sphere. The sphere was transparent, with a red gem in its center, and the gem pulsed with strands of energy that traced along the sphere's inner surface.

 

The Red Ranger placed a hand over his control sphere. “Storm-zords assemble! Whirlwind Fusion!”

 

Hurricane Hawk, Hurricane Lion, and Hurricane Dolphin radiated with energy and shot into the sky like comets. The comets twirled around each other and collided with a burst of light, which cleared as the zords started to merge.

 

The three zords formed a warrior similar to the shape of their former StormMegazord in Lightening mode. A pair of wings extended from the Megazord's back, and armor formed around the wings as they snapped into position. Most of the Megazord's armor was white, with accents of blue, and the red-colored, H-shaped symbol of the Hayate Way was etched onto the small dome on the Megazord's chest.

 

“StormMegazord!” the Rangers shouted from a central cockpit. “ChoiSenpuujin!”

 

Below, Crimson Thunder raised his morpher towards his faceplate. “Thunder-zords, arise!”

 

The Navy Beetlezord and Crimson Insectazord swooped down from the skies, and the Thunder Rangers leapt into their cockpits, embedded within their zords' armor.

 

Crimson Thunder placed a hand over his control sphere. “Thunder-zords assemble! Thunder Fusion!”

 

The two zords radiated with energy and shot into the sky like comets. The streaks of energy twirled around each other and collided with a flash of light that dissipated as the zords started to merge.

 

The zords formed a warrior similar to the design of their old ThunderMegazord, only more slender. Two pieces of chest armor folded over the front of the Megazord to cover the front of its body; then the plates of armor flipped back like a pair of wings as the Megazord snapped into a mid-air fighting stance.

 

“ThunderMegazord!” The Rangers shouted from a central cockpit. “ChoiGouraijin!”

 

“Thunder Scythe!” Crimson Thunder shouted.

 

ThunderMegazord armed a scythe with an energy blade, leaned forward, and dove through the air towards the Shinzon Monster.

 

The creature hissed and spat a volley of darts that shot upwards towards the Megazord. The ThunderMegazord snapped its wings shut like a shield, but the darts exploded against the wings with enough impact to knock the Megazord from the air. The ThunderMegazord crashed against the city streets and skid backward.

 

Hurricane Red and his teammates moved the StormMegazord into position.

 

“Looks like the Shinzon gave their mutants an upgrade,” Hurricane Red said. “Storm Saber!”

 

The StormMegazord armed a slender sword in its right hand, and the blade radiated with ebbing, yellow-tinted power.

 

“Blade Storm!” the Wind Power Rangers shouted.

 

StormMegazord swung its sword, and the blade hurled a wave of yellow-tinted power that slashed through the air towards the Shinzon. But the monster merely sliced through the energy blade with bursts of spark and explosions that scattered across the city block.

 

ThunderMegazord quickly snuck in behind the monster, and the Megazord wrapped its Thunder Scythe around the creature to hold it in place and pin down its arms. Primazon easily broke free from the grasp, grabbed ThunderMegazord by the shoulders, and hurled the Megazord off its feet. The Megazord crashed through a building and skid across the street near the fallen StormMegazord.

 

Storm Megazord climbed back its feet, snapped its wings, and shot back into the air. The Megazord reached back its arm and hurled its saber like a twirling helicopter blade. The saber spun towards the monster, but the creature merely swatted the blade aside.

 

The Megazord followed with a dropkick aimed towards the creature’s head, but the monster grabbed StormMegazord’s leg, swung the Megazord overhead, and crashed it against the ground hard with a thundering boom that shook the surrounding buildings and shattered their windows. StormMegazord twisted onto its back and kicked upward, bashing its foot against the monster’s chest, and sending the creature staggering backward. StormMegazord snapped to its feet, lunged forward, and swung a fist towards the monster. But Primazon used one hand to grab the fist and his other to slice his blade across the Megazord’s chest with a burst of spark that sent the Megazord toppling backward.

 

Hurricane Red grasped onto his control sphere to keep from collapsing. “This thing’s power level is off the charts. Hunter, Blake, we need to hit him together.”

 

Crimson Thunder stood behind his control sphere as he and his brother willed their Megazord to its feet. “Use a ranged attack,” Crimson Thunder said. “It will cause a distraction while we-”

 

“No,” Hurricane Red said. “I mean together, together. We combine our Megazords.”

 

Hurricane Yellow shook his head. “How are we supposed to do that?”

 

“We just do it, that’s how,” Hurricane Red said.

 

“So specific,” Hurricane Yellow said sarcastically. 

 

“It’ll work,” Hurricane Red said. “Just reach out with your powers, they’ll guide you.”

 

The Rangers stood behind their consoles and placed their hands over their control spheres while focusing on combining their Megazords. Their spheres started to pulse and glow with intense power.

 

“StormMegazord…” the Wind Power Rangers shouted as their Megazord crackled with golden energy.

 

“ThunderMegazord…” the Thunder Power Rangers shouted as their Megazord pulsed with power.

 

The two Megazords shot into the sky like comets and circled around one another.

 

“Armor merge to…”

 

The two Megazords fused. The kabuto horn formed a fist blade on the Megazord’s right hand, and the kuwaga claw formed a fist blade on the Megazord’s left hand.  The head of the Yellow Ranger’s lion zord formed the chest, and the black armor plating of the ThunderMegazord slid around the arms and legs. A black, beetle-like shell formed on the back of the Megazord, covering the wings of the hawk zord.

 

The new Megazord twisted, and then slammed back onto the ground in a crouched position while arming the pulse cannon attached to its horn fist weapon.

 

“…Thunderstorm Megazord!”

 

The new Megazord was thick and bulky, lacking the grace and speed of its two individual parts. But what it lacked in speed, it made up for with armor and firepower.

 

Primazon spat a volley of darts that Thunderstorm Megazord lifted its kuwaga claw to block. The darts sparked and exploded against the claw shield, barely nudging the new Megazord’s arm.

 

“Horn Blaster!” the Power Rangers shouted.

 

Thunderstorm Megazord lowered its shield and swung its horn fist weapon forward. The kabuto horn fired a twirling beam of energy that blasted against the Shinzon monster with a massive burst of spark, nearly knocking the powerful creature off its feet.

 

“Wings, release!” the Power Rangers shouted.

 

The Megazord’s back shell opened, revealing the wings of the hawk zord, and the wings started to buzz with the intensity of an inset rather than a bird.

 

“Storm Charge!” the Power Rangers shouted.

 

The massive Megazord shot at the monster like a cannonball while aiming the kuwaga claw forward. The claw pincers snapped shut and formed a broad blade that pulsed with the energy of the Rangers: air, earth, water, lightning, shadow.  The Megazord slammed against the monster, and the kuwaga blade punctured through the creature’s body with a massive burst of spark that hurled the monster off its feet. The creature exploded in midair and reigned a cloud of fiery ash down upon the city.

 

***

 

Less than an hour after the fight, Tommy found Kou sitting alone in the woods that surrounded the Hayate Way dojo. The boy—no, he was a teenager now—sat alone with his knees pulled up to his chest and his arms wrapped around his legs. Tommy walked over and sat down next to him.

 

“You kind of disappeared before the zord fight,” Tommy said. “That used to be your favorite part.”

 

Kou shrugged. “You never exactly told me I had a zord.”

 

“True,” Tommy said. “I guess I just assumed that you knew, as a Power Ranger, you had a zord.”

 

Kou tilted his head slightly towards his new mentor. “You didn’t see the way they looked at me, after I helped them. They looked at me like I was a freak.”

 

“It’s going to take them some time to get used to what happened,” Tommy said. “Simon was the only one who knew you, and just barely. To the rest of them, they only knew you once you came back from the dead as Karas. It’ll take time for them to trust you. But they will, eventually. Trust me, I’ve been there.”

 

“You were never dead,” Kou said.

 

“True, but you know what I mean,” Tommy said.

 

Kou nodded, his eyes still distant. “How did she…” he hesitated. “Kimberly. How did she die?”

 

Grief swelled in Tommy’s throat. “I wasn’t…I wasn’t there. It was during our last battle against a demon called the Mogralord. Every Ranger, Kamen Rider, and hero on the planet had to come together to stop him. Kimberly was separated and had to fight a Devil of Kimon named Sakuro, who could make these clouds of kinetically charged dust particles. Kimberly used her wind power to turn the dust against Sakuro, but…she died in the process.

 

“The Phoenix power inside of her, though, it was released. Her power was what stopped the Mogralord and all his forces. Even after she died, she saved us all.”

 

“Do you think she knew that?” Kou asked. “Do you think she knew, after she died, that she saved you all?”

 

“I’d like to think that she did,” Tommy said. “It makes it easier.”

 

Kou nodded. “Then I’ll think so too.”

 

To be continued…Chapter 12