Swords and Souls: Prelude

Loose Threads

 

Angel Grove

Seven days after the Sabbath

 

The Pattern unraveled, more and more, every day. Tommy could sense it. The Sabbath had cracked reality even further, sending ripples across the city.

 

He had three Rangers only to stop the spreading madness: Justin, Hurricane Yellow; Blake, Navy Thunder and Rachel, Hurricane Blue.

 

Simon, Hurricane Red, was missing. Again. Along with a strange girl named Zadie.

 

Kou, Hurricane Green, had stayed behind in Demon City.

 

And Hunter, Crimson Thunder…Tommy didn’t understand what had happened to the Crimson Thunder Ranger. He had fled after the Sabbath. The Rangers hadn’t heard from his since. The Sabbath had changed him somehow. Twisted him.

 

The Hurricane Power Rangers were shattered. And their villains were regrouping.

 

The Hand remained in Angel Grove, as did their temporary allies, the Ikkazuchi.

 

Akuma and his Marauders remained at large.

 

Xanathor had fled into the darkest shadows of Demon City to regain his strength.

 

The Hellfire Club continued to build their influence within Angel Grove.

 

And the Dark Shaper sought power wherever he could grasp it.

 

“Everything’s falling apart…” he whispered as he ran his hand through his son’s hair.

 

Tyler slept in bed within the Hayate Way dojo. Tommy kneeled next to the bed with Ashley at his side. They had nearly lost the boy when he was kidnapped and brought to Demon City as a tool for the Sabbath. 

 

“I can’t believe I let this happen to him,” Tommy said.

 

“It’s not your fault,” Ashley said.

 

“It is,” Tommy said. “This was why Kimberly never told me she was pregnant. This was why she hid him from me. She knew being around me was dangerous. She was right. I let him down, Ashley.”

 

 “He’s safe,” Ashley said as she laid a hand on her fiancé’s arm. “That’s all that matters.”

 

“He’s safe for now…” Tommy said. “But how long can I keep him that way? Maybe…”

 

He shook his head, dismissing the thought.

 

“Maybe what?” Ashley asked.

 

“Nothing,” Tommy said. “Just a selfish thought: I wish the three of us could just go and leave the life we have behind.”

 

“Well…” Ashley said. “Why can’t we?”

 

“You know why,” Tommy said. “I have a responsibility.”

 

“What do we do now, then?” Ashley asked.

 

Tommy shook his head. “I don’t know. We need to find a way to help Simon, Hunter, and Kou…I let them down too. My first Ranger team…broken. The whole world’s in danger now.”

 

Tommy knew Ashley wanted to mention Jet Force and the DECA Rangers, the teams created by Tommy’s friend-turned-rival Dr. William “Billy” Cranston. Tommy didn’t trust his former friend, or his Rangers. Cranston toyed with The Power and attracted evil to the planet as a result.

 

“I just wish-” Tommy winced as a wave of vertigo nearly knocked him to the floor. Images flashed through his mind.

 

Cracks and crevices webbed across the streets of Angel Grove City. Crimson light ebbed through the cracks, and the streets shook. Citizens screamed with despair and ran as fast as they could. But the light from the cracks washed over them with a flood of blood-red light, so intense, their bodies burned.

 

Five symbols blazed in the sky. They were Japanese kanji, each a different color and representing a different element. 

 

The image shifted to a vision Tommy had seen several times—but slightly different.

 

He saw a wide plain of tall yellow grass and three giant beasts fly across the fields: a hawk, a lion and a dolphin. This time the hawk veered away and fell into the shadows. The dolphin and lion continued, joined by a stag beetle. A horned beetle stood nearby, motionless, but blazing with demon fire. 

 

Flames suddenly consumed the field of grass and stretched to the skies. From the flames, a mighty Kirin stepped forth and spat a torrent of fire that distorted the vision into a twirling vortex of chaos.

 

Faceless minions joined alongside the Kirin, as god-like beings above laughed.

 

The dolphin, lion, and stag beetle charged through the chaos and dashed towards the Kirin. From within the chaos, a tyrannosaurus, pterodactyl, and triceratops charged forth as well, and moved in alongside the original three animals.

 

Chaos in the vortex intensified, giving birth to five more animals of power: a phoenix, garuda, bull, mermaid and fairy.

 

The resulting battle created a shockwave that ripped the vortex apart, tearing it like shreds, until only two stars remained. One of the stars sizzled with crimson power, and the other star was a dark jade. The stars circled around one another and ignited.

 

Tommy’s mind snapped back into a reality. He took a deep breath and shook his head to try to clear the images. But five images in particular stood out in his mind: the five Japanese kanji symbols that had glowed with powerful energy.

 

The former Ranger sighed. “As if we didn’t have enough problems to deal with…”

 

“What did you see?” Ashley asked.

 

“Something else is coming,” Tommy said. “And we have to stop it.”

 

“We don’t even have a full team,” Ashley said.

 

“I know,” Tommy agreed. “Apparently, we’re making a new one.”

 

***

 

The Hellfire Club established a mansion in Silver Hills, a wealthy suburb southeast of Angel Grove.

 

The Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club sat around a polished black table in an elegant dining hall. Azmodai sat at the head of the table. The Inner Circle had named the demon their new Lord Cardinal. He couldn’t have been less honored.

 

“I’m becoming…impatient,” Azmodai said.

 

The lowest members of the Inner Circle shifted uncomfortably in their seats.

 

The Black Queen maintained her composure. “We will break the other Seals, in time, just as we have planned.”

 

“Just as I have planned,” Azmodai said. “Know your place.”

 

“My Lord…” the White Rook Quentin leaned forward on the table. With the White King dead by the hands of the traitorous Black King, Quentin hoped to move up in rank. He made no attempt to hide his eagerness. Azmodai didn’t like the Rook at all. “We are closing in on the rest of your Chosen. In time, we will-”

 

Azmodai casually lifted his hand and blasted a wave of black Shadow Fire that knocked the White Rook from his seat. Quentin crashed against the ground and screamed as the flames burnt across his soul. He would live, but feel the pain for weeks.

 

“My Chosen should have been at my side before the Breaking of the First Seal,” Azmodai said. “They are my children, and they belong with me.”

 

“They will all be with you, soon enough,” the Black Queen said.

 

“Yes,” Azmodai said. “They will be…”

 

The doors to the banquet hall exploded inward with clouds of smoke and splintered wood. Dead bodies flew into the room and crashed onto the banquet table. The bodies were dead butlers and maids.

 

Men dressed in street clothes filed into the room. Their eyes were solid-black, meaning they were possessed by demons. They moved around the hall, surrounding the Inner Circle, and stood casually.

 

They were Azmodai’s men.

 

“You have lived in pampered pleasantness for too long,” Azmodai said to the Inner Circle. “You are spoiled, and therefore, weak. You will become stronger. You will carry out my plans, successfully, or you will die.”

 

He looked to the Black Queen. “Now, my dearest Madelyn, let us talk about the remaining Seals…”

 

To be continued…Chapter One