Ultimate Samurai: Chapter Two prologue

 

Angel Grove, days after the Sabbath

 

What an ugly place, the man thought as he walked through the streets of Angel Grove East. He looked no older than 30, with shaggy black hair and pale skin. His features looked Asian, except for his bright-blue eyes.

 

He could smell the stench of rot and decay with his every breath. The people who passed him reeked with impurity.

 

He hated walking among these mortals but wanted to learn more about their ways—however repulsive and filthy those ways might be. These people had choked the entire world with their rot.

 

But he needed to learn about them. He needed to understand them.

 

He was sure his companions were doing the same—some of them at least. And they were all likely plotting against one another. The Forsaken each wanted nothing more than to gain the greatest favor in the eyes of the Dark One. They had no sense of loyalty to each other—quite the opposite, in fact. 

 

The man, Ishar, didn’t care much about the squabbling of his fellow Forsaken. Nor did he care about breaking the rest of the Seals as the Dark One commanded. No…breaking the Seals would take time. And Ishar wasn’t a fan of time.

 

Ishar heard a girl scream from a nearby alley. Her screams filled him with…joy? He wasn’t certain if that was the right word. Regardless, he found the terror intoxicating. He could taste her desperation. Pure, raw, desperation.

 

Curious, he walked into the alley and saw a man push a girl against a wall while grabbing her body.

 

“Help!” the girl shouted while crying. “Somebody help me, please!”

 

Ishar casually walked over to the man and grabbed him by the head. The Forsaken’s eyes glowed bright yellow, as did his palm. His energy burst through the man’s skull with a splattering of bone, blood and brain matter.

 

The girl ran away screaming as Ishar tossed the corpse aside. Ishar closed his eyes, smiled, and breathed in the screams.

 

Chapter Two: Ultimate Samurai

Through the Cracks

 

Teddy searched frantically through the vacant Vorlock tunnels. He found bodies everywhere, but no sign of Bryce.

 

He’s not dead…he thought to himself. I refuse to believe that…

 

The ranger accidentally stumbled upon the chamber where he had last seen Bryce. The empty room glowed with fiery light from heated stones across the walls. He looked down to the stone cover in the center of the room. Bryce had fallen through that cover.

 

Teddy pulled out his morpher and flipped the device closed, so it resembled a brush. He swung the morpher to write the Japanese character for “explode”, which glowed with red light.

 

The kanji symbol blasted through the stone covering with a cloud of gravel and debris.

 

Teddy leapt through the opening and landed in a dark chamber below. His feet splashed in a puddle.

 

The ranger looked to see a partially melted block of ice—with no one inside. The ice had cracked open like a casket ripped apart. So where was Bryce?

 

Teddy narrowed his eyes. What happened to you…?

 

***

 

The Gedoushuu ship Rokumonsen floated across the Sanzu River along the outskirts of Hell. 

 

Xandred lay across the lower deck of the vessel and drank deeply from a wide bowl of sake. Alcohol dribbled down his chin and splattered against the deck. “Shitari…” he mumbled. “I’m ready to flood the mortal world.”

 

“Yes, yes…” the squid-like Shitari said as he turned the pages of a book. “I think I’ve found the perfect way.”

 

Shitari continued to speak as the music of Dayu’s shamisen echoed throughout the ship. “Humans often experience their strongest moments of despair during natural disasters. Earthquakes. Tornadoes. Tsunamis.”

 

“That sounds intriguing,” Dayu said as she rose to her feet. “Master Xandred…let’s spread one of these disasters.”

 

shinken-va-ootsumuji“Fine…” Xandred tossed his empty bowl aside and climbed to his feet. “We have an Ayakashi that can make that happen…”

 

He moved to an opening on the port side of the ship and leaned outward. “Oostumuji!”

 

The demon monster Oostumuji swam from beneath the Sanzu River and climbed aboard the Gedoushuu vessel.

 

The creature’s body was red and slimy, wrapped in a thick, twisted tendril of corral. He carried a broad, saw-bladed sword.

 

“You called?” the monster asked.

 

***

 

Teddy returned to the Hayate Way and met with Tommy at Ops. He told his brother everything about the slaughtered Vorlock and the mention of the Gedoushuu.

 

“Gedoushuu…” Tommy said. “Those are demons.”

 

“Right,” Teddy said. “From the Sanzu River.”

 

Tommy and Teddy never saw the Sanzu River during their trip to Hell in 2003, but they had heard about the place. Legends said the dead crossed the Sanzu River on their way into the Nine Circles of Hell.

 

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Tommy said. “For one, the Gedoushuu can’t last long outside the Sanzu River. They dry up. Second, why would they slaughter a race of underground mole people?”

 

“They’re human,” Teddy said defensively. “Don’t talk about them like they’re some other race. They’re just like you and me.”

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “What aren’t you telling me?”

 

“It’s not important,” Teddy said. He pulled out his morpher and held the device towards his brother. “Here. You’ll need this back.”

 

“I gave that to you,” Tommy said.

 

“I know, but I’m not Red Ranger material. We both know that,” Teddy said. “Can you honestly tell me I’m the one this was meant for?”

 

Tommy hesitated. “No…but you’re the one who earned it. You’ve met Ryouma…he wasn’t meant for the Galaxy Red powers. But he made them his own. You’ve already started to do the same as Samurai Red.”

 

“We had one fight,” Teddy said.

 

“And you won,” Tommy said.

 

Teddy sighed. “With luck. Look…I don’t want this. I need to get back out there and find Bryce.

 

“Teddy…”

 

“Don’t even say it,” Teddy said. “He’s alive. He has to be.”

 

Tommy reluctantly nodded. “OK. Then you’ll find him. As the Red Ranger. It’s not that you don’t want to be Samurai Red. You don’t think you deserve it. And that’s crap.”

 

Teddy sighed and shook his head. “Look, Tommy…”

 

“Just think about it, OK?” Tommy asked. “If you don’t want the power, I don’t want you to have it. But I think you do want it. And I’d be glad to have you lead this team.”

 

“I’m not exactly feeling social enough to be on a team,” Teddy said. “Where are they, anyway?”

 

“Come on,” Tommy said. “Let’s see how they’re doing.”

 

***

 

Tommy paced back and forth across the courtyard of the Hayate Way. Teddy sat on the nearby steps as the other four rangers practiced their symbol techniques.

 

Each of the four rangers stood behind a blank canvas and wielded their morphers like brushes.

 

Tommy wanted the Samurai Rangers to be more prepared then his Hurricane Rangers had been. He didn’t want to lose another team. So he intended to train them. Hard.

 

“If you’re going to be a Ranger, you need to learn more than just fighting and swordplay,” Tommy said. “You need to learn focus. The characters that you write, they’re just words, but they’re meant to focus your power.”

 

Ryan wrote the kanji symbol for “splash” on his canvas. The word glowed with blue-tinted power and splashed with water.

 

He smiled and nodded with satisfaction.

 

Kirsten stood next to him. She narrowed her eyes with focus and wrote the kanji symbol for “boulder” on her canvas. The word glowed with yellow energy and formed a boulder, which dropped downward—and landed on Ryan’s foot.

 

“Ah!” He winced and stepped back.

 

“Oh! I am so sorry,” Kirsten said.

 

Ryan did his best to laugh it off. “It’s okay, I’m okay,” he said as he smiled sheepishly. “It’s nothing, really.”

 

Anna looked at her canvas with straight-forward determination. She wrote the kanji symbol for “wind”, and the word glowed with pink power.

 

The character blew a gentle breeze that softly grazed her long hair.

 

Bradin didn’t do so well. He wrote a symbol that looked somewhat like the Japanese kanji for “grass”, but not close enough to spark a spell.

 

“Weird…” he muttered as he swung his morpher through a few more brushstrokes. “Is it something like this…? No…? Ugh...”

 

“You’re getting the order wrong,” Tommy said from behind.

 

“I thought they were ‘just words’?” Bradin said. “What does the order matter?”

 

“I said they’re ways to focus,” Tommy said. “Are you focusing?”

 

“I’m not not focusing,” Bradin said.

 

“The good thing about Ranger powers is that, if you focus, they guide you. Don’t make me toss you into a volcano to teach you that lesson,” Tommy said.

 

Bradin arced an eyebrow. “Huh?”

 

Tommy shook his head. “Never mind. You had to be there.”

 

Bradin sighed with frustration and flipped his morpher closed. “This is ridiculous. I didn’t sign up to take Japanese painting classes.”

 

“Then leave,” Tommy said.

 

“What?” Bradin gripped tightly onto his morpher.

 

“You’re either all-in or all-out,” Tommy said. “If you don’t want to be part of this team, then give me your morpher, and leave.”

 

“No. You don’t get to bring me into this and then decide to just fire me,” Bradin said. He looked to Teddy. “Besides, I don’t see your little brother practicing.”

 

“You guys are learning the basics,” Tommy said. “When you’ve fought through Hell, battled your way through an alien world, and stopped a demon ceremony from wiping out all of reality, then you can sit out from learning the basics.”

 

Bradin couldn’t say much to that.

 

***

 

Bradin and Ryan met in the Hayate Way dojo after practice to pack their training bags. They weren’t exactly friends, but they had both enrolled in the school at the same time, about a year ago.

 

“Who does that guy think he is?” Bradin asked. “All he does is sit while his big brother bosses us around. His name is Teddy. Teddy. That alone should mean he needs to work harder to earn our respect.”

 

“He’s our leader,” Ryan said. “You shouldn’t talk about him like that.”

 

“For being a leader, he doesn’t do much leading,” Bradin said.

 

“It’s been two days,” Ryan said. “We-”

 

Anna walked into the room, interrupting the argument. “Have you guys seen Kirsten?” she asked. “I think she’s gone…”

 

“Well, we are allowed to leave,” Bradin said. “None of us live here.”

 

“Yes, funny,” Anna said. She wasn’t amused. “I’m going to go look for her.”

 

“We’ll come with you,” Ryan said.

 

Bradin rolled his eyes and reluctantly followed.

 

***

 

Anna led Ryan and Bradin into Angel Grove’s Little Tokyo. They walked through the outskirts of the city, which blended with the woodland to the northwest.

 

“Maybe she went shopping?” Ryan suggested.

 

“No. She didn’t grow up in the city,” Anna said. “She wouldn’t go off alone. She’d get lost.”

 

“You’re way too worried,” Bradin said. “Maybe she followed Teddy’s lead and went off somewhere to nap.”

 

“You should stop mocking him,” Ryan said.

 

“No, you should stop kissing his butt,” Bradin said. “It’s like you’re obsessed, god…”

 

“I’m not-” Ryan shook his head. His cheeks turned slightly red. “I’m not obsessed. I’m just saying, he’s our leader, and we should show him some respect.”

 

“Respect is earned,” Bradin said.

 

“He’s earned it,” Ryan said. “He’s fought in both Countdowns to Destruction. He’s been to Hell and-”

 

Bradin lifted his hand. “I’m sick of hearing he’s been to Hell and back. That doesn’t give him the right to lead.”

 

“Stop it, boys,” Anna said. 

 

“I suppose you’re on his side?” Bradin asked.

 

“Actually, I’m not sure,” Anna said. “I walked away from my life to join this team. If he’s really irresponsible…” She shook her head. “I won’t follow someone like that.”

 

“He’s not irresponsible,” Ryan said.

 

“I didn’t say he was,” Anna said. “I said I haven’t decided. Besides, what makes you so certain he isn’t irresponsible? He never led a Ranger team. He always had his big brother to follow.”

 

“I…” Ryan hesitated, clearly uncertain. “It doesn’t matter. He’s our leader.”

 

Bradin scoffed. “Again with that ‘leader’ crap”

 

“I said stop it,” Anna said.

 

They stumbled upon Kirsten by accident. The girl stood on a sliver of parkland and swung a bamboo sword through a series of quick practice strikes.

 

“Kirsten!” Anna shouted as they moved closer to her.

 

Bradin arced an eyebrow. “You’re practicing by yourself?”

 

Kirsten lowered her sword and smiled sheepishly. “I just wanted to run through a few more forms. I figured I’d come out here…so I wouldn’t be in anyone’s way…”

 

Ryan looked to Bradin. “That’s dedication.”

 

Kirsten shrugged. “It’s nothing, really. I’m just trying to stay sharp like I promised my sister.”

 

“Your sister?” Anna asked.

 

Kirsten nodded. “Tommy originally recruited my sister. But she…she’s not well. So I came in her place.”

 

“Seriously?” Bradin asked. “Your luck sucks pretty bad.”

 

“No, I was glad to do it,” Kirsten said. “I’ve never been good at much, except for playing the flute and using the sword. Being a Ranger is all I can do. So…I’m glad to be on this team.”

 

“Well…” Bradin said. He shook his head. “You’ve clearly been brainwashed.”

 

***

 

“They didn’t even talk to me,” Teddy said as he joined Tommy in Ops.

 

“You didn’t try to talk to them,” Tommy said.

 

“I’m an introvert,” Teddy said. “Another reason why I suck at this leader thing.”

 

Teddy pulled out his morpher.

 

“Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “I’d love to keep this and be the Red Ranger, to fight against the Gedoushuu. But I can’t. I’m not a leader. If you need a sixth Ranger, maybe a gold one this time, then we’ll talk. OK?”

 

Tommy sighed. “I’m not going to make you do this, little brother.”

 

“OK…good.” Teddy laid down his morpher and started walking from Ops.

 

shinken-vi-nanashiThe alarms suddenly sounded. The computer monitors showed an image of grunts attacking the city. The Gedoushuu grunts were called Nanashi. They looked fishlike, with fanged maws that covered most of their faces, slimy red skin, and black-and-red armor over yellow garments. They carried jagged swords and bows.

 

Teddy looked to the monitor and sighed.

 

Saying nothing, he walked back to his morpher, picked it up, and ran off to join his teammates. 

 

***

 

Nanashi scrambled through the streets and slashed at anything that moved. They charged across a wide plaza, walled by two tall buildings connected by a pedestrian walkway.

 

The five rangers ran to the scene. Teddy stopped, and the rangers stood alongside him. He shifted uncomfortably, as did the others, but for different reasons. Teddy felt odd in his new position. The others were taken aback by the sight of their new enemy.

 

“What are these things?” Emily asked.

 

“Gedoushuu,” Teddy said.

 

Bradin shook his head. “That doesn’t exactly clear things up.”

 

“They’re demons,” Teddy said. “Demons bad. Rangers good.”

 

“You don’t have to be a smartass about it…” Bradin muttered. 

 

“Come on…” Teddy said as he pulled out his morpher. “It’s morphin’ time…”

 

The rangers armed their morphers.

 

“Samurai scribe!” They wrote their symbols, which glowed in midair. “Ha!”

 

They swiped their morphers through their symbols and morphed into their Ranger forms. They unsheathed their swords and shifted into fighting stances.

 

“Blade of the Flame! Samurai Red!”

 

“Blade of the Woods! Samurai Green!”

 

“Blade of the Water! Samurai Blue!”

 

“Blade of the Earth! Samurai Yellow!”

 

“Blade of the Wind! Samurai Pink!”

 

“Symbol Task Force!” Samurai Red called. Together, they shouted: “Samurai Rangers!”

 

The Nanashi charged towards the Rangers to attack.

 

The Rangers returned the charge. The heroes and grunts slammed against each other with swords clashing. Their blades clanged and clashed with a noise that echoed across the plaza.

 

Samurai Red twirled his blade through a group of three Nanashi. He slashed a grunt aside, cut down a second grunt, and parried a third soldier’s blade. He twisted his sword upward and slashed through the creature with a burst of spark.

 

Several Nanashi charged towards Samurai Blue. The Blue Ranger parried their blades and cut them down, swinging his sword through motions as fluid as water.

 

Two creatures chopped their blades towards the Blue Ranger’s head. He high-blocked the blow, twisted his sword, and slashed across their chests with one quick strike.

 

Samurai Blue spun the Symbol Disc on his sword’s hilt. “Water Arrow!”

 

The sword glowed with blue energy and transformed into a bow.

 

The Blue Ranger dove, rolled across the ground, and rolled into a crouched stance. He triggered a volley of water-energy arrows that punctured through Nanashi with bursts of spark.

 

Samurai Pink spun the Symbol Disc on her sword hilt. “Wind Fan!”

 

Her sword glowed with pink energy and turned into a fan.

 

The Pink Ranger spun and twirled the fan, whipping weaves of wind energy that sliced through Nanashi with bursts of spark, knocking them off their feet.

 

Samurai Green spun his Symbol Disc. “Wood Spear!”

 

His sword glowed and transformed into a spear. He swung and twisted the spear through a 180-degree arc that streaked with green energy. The spear slashed the grunts that surrounded him, knocking them backward with bursts of spark.

 

Samurai Red spun his Symbol Disc. “Fire Breaker!”

 

His sword glowed with red energy and transformed into a massive zanbato blade.

 

Samurai Red swung the massive sword downward with a shockwave that bashed aside three grunts. He twisted the sword in his grip and swung wide, slashing through Nanashi with bursts of spark. 

 

Suddenly, a burst of wind energy exploded through the side of a nearby building. Samurai Red turned to see Oostumuji swinging his whirlwind sword.

 

The Red Ranger charged forward and speared his blade towards the monster. But the Ayakashi blocked the blow and twisted the Red Ranger’s sword downward. The monster pushed forward, keeping its blade locked with the Samurai Red’s sword, forcing the Red Ranger backward.

 

Samurai Red twisted his sword free.

 

The Ayakashi swung its sword towards Samurai Red’s head. But the Red Ranger ducked. The monster twisted his grip and chopped the sword towards the Red Ranger’s head. Samurai Red lifted his blade and blocked the blow.

 

The Red Ranger pushed the villain back, swung his sword, and chopped downward. Oostumuji sidestepped, and the Red Ranger’s sword chopped against the concrete.

 

Nearby, a group of Nanashi surrounded Samurai Yellow. She spun her Symbol Disc. “Land Slicer!”

 

Her sword pulsed with yellow energy and transformed into a three-pronged blade.

 

Samurai Yellow hurled the blade towards the Nanashi. The weapon slashed through the creatures—and then accidentally arced towards Samurai Red.

 

Samurai Red dropped his guard and stepped back to avoid the blade.

 

Oostumuji saw the opening and took it.

 

The monster slashed the Ranger across the chest with a massive burst of spark that hurled him into the air. Samurai Red smashed against the side of a building, which cracked on impact, and then crashed against the ground. His sword powered down and landed on the street nearby.

 

“Teddy!” Samurai Yellow shouted as she ran towards the Red Ranger’s side.

 

Tendrils of wind energy circled around Oostumuji. He released the thick tendril around his head and swung the limb like a whip as it gathered air power. “Whirlwind Whip!”

 

The other three Rangers noticed and ran towards their teammates—just as the whip streaked through the air with a force of wind energy that exploded against their armor. Sparks tore across the Rangers and hurled them backward.

 

The five Rangers crashed against the ground hard. And the monster turned and walked away to cause more carnage.

 

Samurai Red pushed himself back to his feet despite the pain that tore through his body. He realized he hadn’t slept since Bryce had gone missing. His body was weak and worn—not ideal for fighting a new enemy.

 

“Guys…” he said. The other Rangers were still scattered across the ground. He felt panic clutch his throat. Had he gotten them killed already? “Guys, come on, get up. If you don’t get up, you’re dead.”

 

Samurai Green climbed slowly back to his feet. “We know that; thanks for the pep talk.”

 

The other Rangers started to climb to their feet too—except for Samurai Yellow.

 

“Kirsten, are you OK?” Samurai Pink asked.

 

The Pink Ranger ran to the Yellow Ranger’s side and started to help her to her feet.

 

“Leave her,” Samurai Red said.

 

He didn’t mean for that to sound nearly as harsh as it did, but the monster was moving off. The Red Ranger knew from experience that they had to move, now, or more people would die. They didn’t have time to lick their wounds. If they could move, they could fight.

 

Plus, if they had been seriously injured, they would have been knocked from their armor. The fact that Samurai Yellow was still morphed meant she would be fine. The Red Ranger knew this.

 

The Green Ranger did not. “What did you say…? You can’t be serious?”

 

“There’s no time, Bradin,” Samurai Red said.

 

Samurai Red pulled his sword from the ground and charged ahead.

 

“Teddy…” Samurai Blue called after him.

 

“Don’t shout after him,” Samurai Green said.

 

“Bradin’s right,” Samurai Pink said. “We gave him a chance. Look what happened…”

 

“No…” Samurai Yellow said. “You’re being too hard on him. Look…”

 

They looked to the other side of the plaza, to where Samurai Red caught up with Oostumuji.

 

Samurai Red hopped past the monster while swinging his sword. The villain parried the blow with a burst of spark. The Red Ranger landed, turned, and slashed his sword across the monster’s back. 

 

He heard a little girl cry nearby. Samurai Red ran to the girl and used one arm to lift her. He planned to carry her to safety. But Oostumuji charged at the Ranger and swung his sword.

 

Samurai Red dodged the blade.

 

Oostumuji twisted his grip and swung at the Ranger again. Samurai Red parried and stepped backward.

 

The Red Ranger carried the girl with one arm and used his free hand to parry the monster’s strikes. The villain kept swinging with quick and powerful blows that Samurai Red dodged and parried. 

 

The other four Rangers continued to watch.

 

“He knew we were fine,” Samurai Yellow said. “And he knew people were in trouble. He just wanted to protect them.”

 

Oostumuji swung at Samurai Red with a wide arc. Samurai Red crouched, covered the girl, and held his sword along his back. The monster’s blade clashed against the Ranger’s sword and slid forward with a burst of spark.

 

Samurai Red rose and slashed his sword across the monster, knocking the creature back a step. He thrust his sword forward, and the blade speared against the monster with enough force to hurl him backward.

 

“Ruthie!” a voice shouted from nearby. The little girl’s mother ran from the nearby rubble. “Ruthie!”

 

“Mommy!” the little girl shouted.

 

Samurai Red ran to the woman and handed over the girl. “Run. Get to the nearest shelter.”

 

The other four Rangers kept watching.

 

“OK…” Samurai Green said. “OK, I get it. But he still needs to work on his tact.”

 

“Tact doesn’t have a place on the battlefield,” Samurai Blue said.

 

“Please talk normal,” Samurai Green said.

 

“Come on,” Samurai Pink said. “Let’s go help our leader.”

 

Samurai Red watched the mother and daughter run off to make sure they cleared the battle area without any trouble. He didn’t notice the monster recover from behind.

 

Oostumuji released his tendril and swung the appendage like a whip towards Samurai Red.

 

The other four Rangers leapt through the air and slashed the tendril aside. The tendril jerked back, knocking the monster off his feet.

 

The Rangers landed and regrouped with their leader.

 

Samurai Red looked to them, one-by-one. “Hey…thanks.”

 

Oostumuji stumbled back to his feet and swung his sword into an offensive stance.

 

Samurai Red slid his Fire Disc onto his Spin Sword’s hilt. “Attack with me…”

 

Samurai Red spun his Symbol Disc. Tendrils of flame wrapped around the blade of his sword.

 

zzzThe other four Rangers armed and spun their Symbol Discs. Their elemental energy circled around their weapons.

 

The Samurai Rangers held their swords in fighting stances, and then they pounced forward to attack.

 

One-by-one, they dashed past the monster and slashed their swords. Their blades streaked with power and ripped through the monster with bursts of spark. Each strike ebbed with the individual Ranger’s color and elemental energy.

 

The Rangers skid to a halt behind the demon. The monster collapsed as secondary explosions tore through its body and skin. A final explosion burst from the core of the monster and scattered the creature into pieces.

 

“Well…” Samurai Green said as he lowered his sword. “That wasn’t too bad.”

 

Suddenly, the monster’s ashes flashed with dark power and reformed. The creature grew giant-sized within the city.

 

Samurai Red lowered his sword and looked up. He hadn’t seen anything spark the reformation and growth.

 

Samurai Green looked just as surprised. “What, do these things have some kind of second life?”

 

Samurai Red nodded. The explanation sounded good enough. “That’s right,” he said. “That’s why we have these…”

 

He pulled a thick Origami emblem from his belt. “Call on your zords.”

 

They pulled out their Origami and placed the emblems on the ground. They armed their morphers and switched the devices to brush mode. “Samurai-zords, rise up!”

 

They swiped their morphers over their Origami to paint their symbols, which glowed with power. The symbols splashed across the Origami, and the emblems grew giant.

 

Each emblem unfolded to form a Samurai-zord: The red-armored Lion Origami, the blue-armored Dragon Origami, the green-armored Bear Origami, the yellow-armored Ape Origami and the pink-armored Turtle Origami.

 

The Rangers dropped into their individual cockpits and stood behind their control pedestals. They slid their Spin Swords into the pedestals and gripped the handles like control rods. Their Spin Swords and Symbol Discs allowed them to control their zords.

 

Samurai Red swiped his morpher to write the kanji for “combine” above his control pedestal. “Origami assemble!” he shouted. “Samurai fusion!”

 

The five Samurai-zords shifted shape and stacked on top of one another to form a massive, samurai-styled robo. The five Rangers gathered in a central cockpit and stood behind their control pedestals.

 

zzz“Samurai Megazord!” they shouted. Shinkenou!”         

 

Oostumuji charged forward to attack and swung his massive sword towards the Megazord.

 

“Samurai Megazord Saber!” Samurai Red shouted.

 

Shinkenou unsheathed its sword, blocked the blow and pushed the monster backward.

 

Oostumuji quickly recovered and slashed across the Megazord’s midsection with a burst of spark.

 

Oostumuji lunged forward and chopped his jagged blade towards the Megazord’s head. The Samurai Megazord ducked. And the villain’s saber slashed through a nearby building with an explosion of concrete, steel and flame. 

 

The Megazord rose back to full height, twisted its blade, and slashed upward across the monster with a burst of spark.

 

“Lion Origami!” Samurai Red shouted. “Flame Arc!”

 

The Megazord’s lion chest opened its jaws and spat a torrent of flame that exploded against the monster, knocking him back several steps. Oostumuji dropped to his knees and grasped the sizzling wound.

 

The Rangers pulled their swords free from within their cockpit.

 

“Samurai Megazord Saber!” Samurai Red shouted. The Rangers spun their Symbol Discs. “Samurai Strike!”

 

The Rangers chopped down their blades, and the Megazord mimicked their movement. The Samurai Megazord swung its blade downward through a streak of white energy that slashed through the monster.

 

The strike tore the creature apart with massive bursts of spark and flame that splashed across the street, sending billows of smoke into the air.

 

***

 

Teddy rejoined Tommy in Ops following the battle.

 

“I’m keeping the morpher,” Teddy said.

 

“I figured you would,” Tommy said.

 

“On one condition,” Teddy said. “Tell me why you wanted me to have it so badly.”

 

“I already told you,” Tommy said. “You can lead this team. I have faith in you.”

 

“I’m being serious, Tommy,” Teddy said. “You’ve never wanted to put me in harm’s way. Why now? Especially after everything that happened with Simon’s team.”

 

Tommy sighed and shook his head. “Have you always been this stubborn?”

 

“Not always, no,” Teddy said.

 

“You were already running into harm’s way,” Tommy said. “You were about to hop into a pit of Vorlock. I wanted you to be able to protect yourself. Then after seeing you fight…I was convinced you were meant to have the power.”

 

“Keep going,” Teddy said.

 

Tommy sighed. “Look, little brother,” Tommy said. “You know things are bad. Worse than they’ve ever been. If I could, I’d give everyone I loved a morpher so they could protect themselves if needed. But those things aren’t as easy to make as you’d think.”

 

“You’re not just giving me something to protect myself,” Teddy said. “You’re putting me into the fight. There’s a difference. You-”

 

“I need you,” Tommy said. “I need you, OK? I almost lost my son. I let my first Ranger team fall apart…So I need you. I need people I can trust and count on, and who won’t let me down.”

 

Teddy nodded. “That’s all you had to say.”

 

***

 

The palace of the Vorlock stood still and empty—except for the central throne room. Emperor Kraigen sat on his throne and stared ahead somberly. He mourned for his people, but only for the briefest of moments.

 

They would be reborn, all of them, with him as their leader. 

 

Footsteps sounded from the stone entrance of the throne room. The villain Cye-Axe walked slowly across a cobblestone pathway and approached the emperor. The warrior carried an axe-tipped blade, drenched with blood.

 

Kraigen looked upon the warrior with twisted satisfaction. “What word?”

 

“The last of them were hiding in the lower tunnels,” Cye-Axe said with a stern voice that masked his pain. “They have been…removed.”

 

“Very well,” the emperor said. “Let us-”

 

“Kraigen!” a voice shouted from the shadows. The villain turned to see the prince named Bryce step forward. The teen rolled his hands into fists and glared at the emperor. “You bastard. You’ve destroyed everything…Everything!”

 

“Not all is as it seems, traitorous prince,” Kraigen said.

                                                                                

Bryce had no interest in listening. He charged towards the emperor to attack.

 

To be continued…Chapter 03