Ultimate Samurai: Chapter Six prologue

 

Five days ago

 

Piles of Vorlock corpses cluttered the passageways of the underground empire. The bodies stank with rot and decay. The view would have been horrifying if not for the pitch-black darkness that blocked all sight.

 

A strange man hummed softly as he walked among the corpses. He moved with his arms crossed behind his back and his head tilted downward.

 

“Where to begin, where to begin?” he whispered.

 

He looked at each corpse, although doing so should have been impossible because of the complete darkness.

 

“Yes, yes…” he whispered. “So very promising. All so very promising.”

 

The man leaned towards the nearest corpse and tried to lift the body by the head. But the head snapped off.

 

“Hmm,” the man said thoughtfully. “Fragile.”

 

He casually dropped the head and moved to the next corpse.

 

Chapter Six: Ultimate Samurai

Blade of the Flame

 

Teddy walked through the dark stone tunnels beneath the city. He’d searched the tunnels every night since Bryce had gone missing. He found no sign of him, or any remnants of the Vorlock. He couldn’t even track down the chambers he had found before.

 

That ice casket was empty, Teddy reminded himself. That means he has to be alive, somewhere…

 

Teddy wanted nothing more than to find Bruce. I won’t stop looking…

 

The teen heard shuffling noises from the shadows behind him. He stopped and stood still. The silence seamed deafening.

 

A red blur dashed from the shadows and nearly sliced off Teddy’s head. Teddy dove and rolled for cover at the last minute. He somersaulted across the ground and rose to his feet. He turned to face his attacker, but he saw nothing within the shadows.

 

The teen armed his morpher and wrote the Japanese Kanji symbol for “bright.” He swiped his morpher through the glowing character, which burst into a wave of fiery light that flooded the tunnel.

 

mask-oyoburTeddy saw a red-skinned creature shield its eyes and nearly collapse. The creature had rock-like armor over its upper chest and left shoulder. The armor looked like an extension of the creature’s skin. Similar armor wrapped around its left ankle, its left hand and forearm, and across the sides of its face beneath its pointy red ears. The red-skinned creature was bald, with beady eyes and a thin mouth.

 

“What are you?” Teddy asked. “Are you Vorlock? I thought you were wiped out…”

 

The creature said nothing. It leapt against the side of the cavern, pushed off, and leapt towards Teddy.

 

“Samurai scribe! Ha!” Teddy morphed into his armor just as the creature slashed across his chest with a burst of spark.

 

Samurai Red slashed upward with a swing that the creature dodged. The villain moved fast, dashed behind the Red Ranger, and stabbed him against the back with stone claws. The impact knocked the Red Ranger forward.

 

Samurai Red kept his balance and whipped around just in time to slash the creature from the air with a burst of spark. The impact hurled the creature against the cavern wall.

 

The red-skinned creature crashed to the ground and hissed with annoyance. He looked to the Red Ranger, narrowed his yellow eyes, and fled into the shadows. 

 

Samurai Red lowered his sword and powered down his armor, which peeled away into strands of miniature kanji symbols.

 

He nearly collapsed. The battle had been brief, but he hadn’t slept in days. Teddy pulled out his phone to check the time. 6:28 a.m. He’d spent the entire night searching the tunnels. Again.

 

The teen wanted to keep searching but could barely stand.

 

Teddy sighed and stuck his phone back in his pocket. He moved through the tunnels to head back to the Hayate Way.

 

***

 

Bradin yawned and sat on the steps of the Hayate Way dojo. “So let me get this straight. I wake up at dawn to get here—on a Saturday—and training’s called off?”

 

Ryan nodded. “Tommy said we could use some ‘R and R’.”

 

“And he couldn’t have told us that before we got here?” Bradin asked.

 

“I’m going back home,” Anna said. “Maybe I’ll catch an early movie or something.”

 

“Wait. Don’t go. I have an idea,” Ryan said, his eyes alight with excitement. “Let’s all do something together.”

 

Bradin shook his head. “I don’t see that happening.”

 

“We’re together every day,” Anna said.

 

“But we hardly know each other,” Ryan said. “We’ve been going to this school together for a year, and we’ve never really hung out or talked.”

 

“I know enough about you guys,” Bradin said. He looked to Ryan. “Especially you.”

 

Ryan looked to Kirsten. “What about you, Kirsten?”

 

She smiled. “I think it’s a great idea.”

 

“That’s the spirit,” Ryan said. “Where should we go?”

 

“Well…” she said. “I heard about that knew amusement park they opened up. Amusement Mile, along the shore. We could go there. I’ve never been to an amusement park before.”

 

Bradin arced an eyebrow. “You’ve never been to an amusement park?”

 

Kirsten shook her head. “I grew up in the country.”

 

“Country between two of the biggest cities in the world,” Bradin said. “I grew up on a farm miles away from civilization. And I’ve still been to an amusement park.”

 

“Great,” Kirsten said. “So you’ll come?”

 

Bradin shook his head. He was going to say no, but he couldn’t take his eyes off Kirsten’s smile. “I…I guess I’ll go.”

 

“Great,” Ryan said.

 

They noticed Teddy walk onto campus from the other end of the courtyard. He looked tired and exhausted, as always.

 

“Hey, Teddy,” Ryan said. “Training’s called off today. We’re all headed to Amusement Mile. You wanna come?”

 

Teddy shook his head. “Sorry, guys. Not today.” He walked up the steps of the dojo. “I’m busy with something. You guys can head off without me.”

 

They watched him walk into the dojo and close the door.

 

***

 

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

 

Shitari waddled back and forth across the lower deck with his book in hand. Xandred lay nearby while drinking deeply from his bowl of sake, and Dayu played her music to keep him calm.

 

“Let’s see, let’s see…” Shitari muttered as he flipped through the pages of his book. “Human despair…human despair…”

 

Xandred tossed his empty bowl aside. “The Sanzu River has barely risen an inch since our war started.”

 

Shitari shuddered nervously. “Yes, well…Well…there is an explanation.”

 

“I’m listening…” Xandred grumbled.

 

“It’s the Rangers,” Dayu said as she strummed her shamisen. “They cut down every demon we send, before the waves of despair can fill the banks of our river.”

 

“Yes, that’s it!” Shitari said. “We need a demon whose body cannot be cut.”

 

***

 

Amusement Mile opened along the shore of Angel Grove West. The city planned to attract tourists with the amusement park. The idea seemed promising but failed miserably.

 

Still, the amusement park served as a popular destination for those who chose to remain in Angel Grove, despite the frequent attacks and destruction that plagued the city.

 

Bradin, Ryan, Anna and Kirsten walked among the crowds near trailers of carnival games. Ryan noticed a young man win his girlfriend a large stuffed bear at a ring-toss game. 

 

The teen sighed. “I wish Teddy came with us.”

 

“He said he was busy,” Anna said. “Of course, he didn’t say what he was busy with…”

 

“That would have meant having a conversation,” Bradin said. “He’s not good with that.”

 

“Don’t say that,” Ryan said.

 

“It’s true,” Bradin said. “I haven’t had a normal conversation with him once. I don’t think I’ve ever even heard him laugh.”

 

“Because you’re so cheerful,” Ryan said.

 

Bradin smirked. “Cheerful enough.”

 

“Maybe he’s training,” Kirsten said.

 

“Who would train on their day off?” Bradin asked.

 

***

 

Teddy trained in the courtyard of the Hayate Way. He swung his Spin Sword through a series of quick and powerful strikes. Then he moved the sword through more fluid and graceful strokes.

 

The teen had slept for about two hours before waking up to train and build his strength.

 

Teddy spun the white Symbol Disc on his sword’s hilt.  

 

Tendrils of flame flowed across his sword’s blade. The flames intensified with enough power to nearly knock the weapon from Teddy’s hands. Teddy grasped firmly onto his weapon.

 

The fiery energy twirled around the blade and thrashed violently. Teddy narrowed his eyes and tried to focus the power. But the energy ignited with a burst of flame that knocked the sword from his hands.

 

Teddy cursed beneath his breath and walked towards his fallen sword.

 

“I see you’ve found the new Tiger Disc,” Tommy said as he walked into the courtyard.

 

Teddy picked up his fallen sword. “It’s strong.”

 

“Too strong,” Tommy said. “It requires massive amounts of Ki to use properly. You’re not ready for it yet.”

 

“You’re the one who wanted me to take this sword,” Teddy said.

 

“True,” Tommy said. “But I never wanted you to push yourself this hard. Have you gotten any sleep?”

 

“A couple hours,” Teddy said.

 

Tommy shook his head. “You’re going to burn yourself out.”

 

“I don’t have a choice,” Teddy said.

 

Tommy sighed and took a seat on the steps. “This dark-and-brooding thing doesn’t suit you,” Tommy said. “Besides, I’m supposed to be the dark-and-brooding one.”

 

“I’m not brooding,” Teddy said. “The Gedoushuu are getting stronger. Bryce is still missing. And now there’s something in the Vorlock tunnels. I have to get better. Fast. Or I’ll let everyone down.”

 

He spun the Symbol Disc. Waves of flame flowed across his blade and twirled with power. Teddy used both hands to grasp his sword tightly. Waves of fire circled around his sword like a cyclone of power. The energy flared and knocked Teddy to the ground.

 

Teddy breathed heavily and pushed himself to his feet.

 

“You can’t do this to yourself, Teddy,” Tommy said. “Trust me. I know.”

 

“You don’t know,” Teddy said. “This isn’t like what you went through back in your Ranger days. It’s different.”

 

“Not that different. I know what it’s like to lead a team when you don’t think you’re ready. When you think you have something to prove,” Tommy said. “And I know what it’s like to lose someone to-”

 

Teddy lowered his sword and glared at his brother. “He’s not dead. Quit saying that.”

 

“Fine,” Tommy said. “OK. Still, you can’t do this to yourself.”

 

Teddy turned his back to his brother and spun his Symbol Disc.

 

***

 

shinken-va-yanasudareThe Gedoushuu named Fusuma emerged from a crevice within Amusement Mile. Long tendrils of red hair grew from the creature’s head and upper body. Its skin was slimy green, and its eyes were beady yellow.

 

The Ayakashi lifted a gatling gun and opened fire on the civilians. The gun blasted through carnival booths that exploded with splinters of wood and shards of metal.

 

“Useless, useless place,” the demon muttered.

 

He swung his weapon towards a group of fleeing women and children and opened fire. 

 

Samurai Green and Samurai Blue dashed in front of the people. They swung their swords and sliced the demon’s bullets from the air with bursts of spark.

 

“A demon with a machine gun?” Samurai Green asked. “Anyone can pass a background check these days…”

 

Samurai Pink and Samurai Yellow led the civilians to safety as Samurai Blue and Samurai Green faced off with the monster.

 

The creature casually swung his blaster over his shoulder. “Samurai Rangers? I’ve heard of you…Your useless powers are laughable.”

 

“Laugh at this,” Samurai Green said as he leapt through the air towards the monster. 

 

The Green Ranger landed while chopping his blade. But the blade slid harmlessly through the monster’s body, which rippled as if made of jelly. “What the…”

 

Fusuma bashed his blaster across the Ranger’s chest with a burst of spark, batting him through the air. The Green Ranger crashed against the ground and tumbled towards his teammates.

 

The other three Rangers charged towards the monster to attack. As one, they chopped their swords at the Ayakashi. But their blades slid harmlessly through the monster’s gelatinous body.

 

Fusuma spun backward to gain distance, and then opened fire at the Rangers. His demonic bullets sparked across their armor and whipped them off their feet.

 

Samurai Green climbed slowly back to his feet. “Is this guy made of butter?”

 

The Green Ranger and Blue Ranger leapt through the air and landed behind the monster. Samurai Pink and Samurai Yellow charged towards the monster from the front.

 

They slashed their blades at the creature from all sides. But their swords passed harmlessly through the demon’s body.

 

“Your attacks are useless…” the monster grumbled.

 

Fusuma dove aside to gain distance from the Rangers. He rolled to his feet and swung his weapon towards his opponents. The Ayakashi opened fire with demonic bullets that ripped across their armor with bursts of spark.

 

The Rangers collapsed to the ground and dropped their swords.

 

Fusuma stalked towards his fallen opponents. “Still alive? I’ll fix that…”

 

Suddenly, Samurai Red leapt at the creature from behind. He chopped his sword through the monster, causing no damage.

 

Fusuma turned to face the Ranger. “Useless!”

 

Samurai Red twirled his blade through a series of quick and fluid strikes that slid through the monster like a knife through water.

 

“Die!” the monster shouted as he swung his weapon at the Red Ranger’s faceplate.

 

Samurai Red flipped backward, kicking the monster’s weapon aside.

 

The Red Ranger landed on his feet and regrouped with his teammates.

 

“Use your Symbol Discs,” Samurai Red said. “Everyone attack at once.”

 

The Rangers armed their elemental Symbol Discs. They spun their discs, sending tendrils of energy wrapping around their blades.

 

“Spin Swords!” the Rangers shouted. “Element Wave!”

 

They chopped their swords, firing blades of energy that cut through the air towards the monster. The energy blades exploded against the Ayakashi with massive bursts of spark, forcing the creature back several steps.

 

Fusuma clutched his injured chest, which started to dry and crack. The monster muttered beneath its breath. “I’m drying out…That’s so useless…”

 

A nearby crevice glowed with crimson light. The monster leapt through the crevice to return to the Sanzu River.

 

***

 

Teddy and the rangers regrouped at the Hayate Way dojo after the attack.

 

“That freak dried out fast,” Bradin said. “Good thing for us.”

 

Kirsten shook her head. “Our swords couldn’t even hit him…”

 

Teddy looked distant, his eyes baggy. Bradin narrowed his eyes at their leader. “Any thoughts, Teddy?”

 

“Hmm?” Teddy asked. He shook his head. “No. Our energy attacks seemed to work. We’ll focus on that next time.”

 

Bradin crossed his arms over his chest. “Right…” he said skeptically. “What’s up with you?”

 

“Excuse me?” Teddy asked.

 

“Bradin…” Ryan cautioned.

 

“No,” Bradin said. “I mean it. You look like hell. And please don’t say you’ve been there, we’ve all heard that one before.”

 

“I’ve just got a lot going on, that’s all,” Teddy said. “It’s nothing to worry about.”

 

“But we are worried,” Kirsten said.

 

Anna nodded in agreement. “You’re hardly around, and when you are, you look…”

 

“Like hell,” Bradin said.

 

“Basically,” Anna agreed.

 

Teddy sighed and took a seat on a meditative platform. “I’ve been looking for someone, OK? In the Vorlock tunnels.”

 

“Why there?” Anna asked. “I thought you said the Gedoushuu wiped out the Vorlock.”

 

“They did,” Teddy said. “But not before the Vorlock kidnapped my boyfriend. His name was Bryce. I’ve been looking for him ever since.”

 

“Why didn’t you say something?” Bradin asked.

 

“It’s…complicated,” Teddy said.

 

“Look,” Bradin said. “I know I made that ‘gay’ crack a few days ago, but it’s the 21st century. Nobody cares.”

 

“It’s not that,” Teddy said. He sighed and shook his head. “Bryce was one of them. One of the Vorlock. I didn’t find out until they took him.”

 

“A Vorlock?” Ryan asked. “How?”

 

“He never told you?” Anna asked.

 

Teddy shook his head. “No…and I still don’t understand. I think he was sent to spy on us. On the surface. But he defected. The Vorlock didn’t take that too well, so they imprisoned him in a block of ice.”

 

He turned to face his team. “I found the ice, but it was broken. Bryce was gone.”

 

“You think he’s still alive,” Bradin said.

 

“I know he is,” Teddy said.

 

The alarms suddenly blared within the dojo.

 

Bradin narrowed his eyes. “No way that freak’s back already.”

 

“Come on,” Teddy said as he led the teens downstairs to Ops.

 

They joined Ashley and Tommy in the command room. Ashley sat at her computer cluster, while Tommy stood over her.

 

“Trouble,” Tommy said.

 

The computer screen showed an image of the Ayakashi Fusuma blasting his way through a city plaza.

 

“How did he rehydrate so fast?” Ryan asked.

 

“His body’s practically a sponge,” Tommy said.

 

“Only more absorbent,” Ashley added. “Your energy attacks will work…but you’ll need to up your power levels to cause any real damage.”

 

“Just how do we do that?” Bradin asked.

 

Teddy pulled his white Tiger Disc from his belt. “With this…” He looked to Tommy. “Let me use the disc.” 

 

“You’re not ready yet, Teddy,” Tommy said.

 

“I can be ready,” Teddy said. He looked to his teammates. “You guys go. Hold him off until I get there.”

 

Bradin looked skeptically at Teddy. “You sure you know what you’re doing?”

 

Teddy nodded.

 

“I’m sure.”

 

Bradin sighed and nodded, reluctant, but trusting. “Alright…you haven’t let us down yet. Surprisingly.” He looked to the others. “Let’s go.”

 

Bradin, Ryan, Anna and Kirsten ran from Ops, leaving Teddy behind with Tommy and Ashley.

 

“Teddy…” Tommy started to say.

 

“Don’t start,” Teddy said. “You wanted me to lead this team because you trusted me? Then trust me.”

 

Teddy walked from Ops. Tommy started to follow, but Ashley grabbed him gently by the arm. “Tommy…let him do what he needs to do.”

 

***

 

Fusuma fired a volley of demonic bullets that tore through a storefront with explosions of fire and debris. He swung his weapon back and forth, muttering to himself, as he blasted every building in sight.

 

The Ayakashi walked slowly and nonchalantly. He didn’t enjoy the carnage. It wasn’t fun. But the human world was useless. And useless things annoyed him.

 

A wave of pink-tinted air suddenly hurled the monster off his feet. He crashed against the pavement and tumbled aside before rising back to his feet. He looked towards the top of a nearby stairwell and saw the four rangers standing with their morphers in hand.

 

“Samurai Rangers…” he muttered as he armed his blaster. “I’ll be taking your useless lives…”

 

Fusuma opened fire.

 

“Samurai scribe! Ha!” the teens transformed into their Ranger forms and unsheathed their swords.

 

The Rangers swung their blades through a series of quick and powerful strikes that cut the monster’s bullets from the air.

 

***

 

Teddy stood in the Hayate Way courtyard. He spun the Tiger Disc on his Spin Sword. Flames washed across the blade and pulsed with power. The energy flare knocked the sword from Teddy’s hands.

 

The teen cursed beneath his breath and lifted the fallen sword from the ground. He mentally kicked himself. He had to get stronger. Now. He had run out of time.

 

Tommy walked into the courtyard to join his brother. 

 

“You’re letting your doubt get in the way,” Tommy said.

 

“I have to do this,” Teddy said as he spun the disc.

 

“You said you have to do this,” Tommy said. “You didn’t say you can. Believe in yourself. And don’t ever make me say that again, because it sounds corny.”

 

“That’s because it is corny,” Teddy said.

 

He spun the disc, and flames washed across his blade. The flames spun and intensified, nearly knocking the sword away. Teddy used both hands to tighten his grip on the blade.

 

The flames ignited and knocked Teddy onto his back. He closed his eyes and sighed with frustration. “I’m no good like this. No good to Bryce. No good to anyone.”

 

“You’ve got to snap out of this,” Tommy said. “And whatever this is you’re going through, you have to let us help you.”

 

Teddy climbed back to his feet. He lifted the sword and spun the disc.

 

“Focus,” Tommy said.

 

Teddy watched the flames wash across the blade. The flames reminded Teddy of the pits of Hell, where he first became a Ranger—the White Kiba Ranger, alongside his brother when he was the Red Dragon Ranger in 2003.

 

The demon Thrax stalked towards the Rangers as he laughed at their helplessness. “This is going to be too easy…”

 

“I don’t think so, scale face!” a voice called from behind the demon. He turned to a balcony hanging out from the castle, and he saw Kiba Ranger staring down at him with Byakko in hand.

 

Kiba Ranger aimed Byakko downward as he shouted “Heaven Roaring Star…Sound Bite!”

 

A jagged wave of white energy slammed into Thrax and knocked him backward.

 

“Jump, Teddy!” Byakko commanded as Kiba Ranger leapt from the balcony and flipped towards Thrax as the demon was rising from his feet.

 

“Kick!” Byakko shouted as Kiba Ranger launched a flying sidekick that slammed against the demon’s head. Byakko led Kiba Ranger through a strike, cutting horizontally across the demon’s chest, then turning and hitting him diagonally.

 

Thrax was knocked back as black ichor seeped from his wounds.

 

“Finish him, Teddy!” Byakko shouted.

 

Kiba Ranger placed his hands over the tiger seal on his chest as a massive bolt of white, crackling energy formed. “Sonic Force!” he shouted as he hurled the blast forward. It slammed against Thrax and caused him to explode.

 

Kiba Ranger ran over to the Rangers as they started to rise to their feet. Kiba Ranger helped up Dragon Ranger.

 

Ya know…” Kiba Ranger said jokingly, “I thought you guys were here to save me.”

 

Dragon Ranger smiled beneath his helmet. “Don’t start, Teddy.”

 

Teddy gripped tighter onto his sword. He wouldn’t let go. He wouldn’t fall. He couldn’t.

 

The teen thought of simpler days. The memories gave him strength. They reminded him of hope. Confidence. He spun the Tiger Disc, and the flame intensified.

 

***

 

Bullets sparked against Samurai Blue and whipped him from the air. His bow flew from his hands as he crashed against the pavement.

 

The Blue Ranger climbed slowly into a crouched position. He looked up to see the monster’s blaster inches from his faceplate.

 

“This time, you die,” the monster muttered.

 

Fusuma almost pulled the triggered. But the handheld Lion Origami flew through the air and knocked the gun aside with a burst of spark.

 

The monster stumbled backward and looked to his side. He saw Teddy run onto the scene.

 

The Lion Origami flew back into the ranger’s hand.

 

“Gedoushuu,” Teddy said. “You’re the one who’s finished…”

 

He flipped his morpher into brush mode. “Samurai scribe! Ha!”

 

Energy wrapped around him as he morphed into his Ranger form. He unsheathed his sword and stepped into a fighting stance. “Blade of the Flame! Samurai Red!”

 

The Red Ranger spun his Symbol Disc. “Fire Breaker!”

 

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

 

Samurai Red swung the massive weapon over his shoulder.

 

The monster muttered and armed his blaster. “You’re just as useless in this form…”

 

Samurai Red snapped up his head. He armed his Tiger Disc near the hilt of his sword. Fiery energy washed across his massive blade, which ignited with power. The Red Ranger swung the blade through a streak of flame, then lowered the weapon to aim point-first at the monster.

 

The energy backlash nearly knocked the Red Ranger from his feet. But he stood his ground and clenched his jaw, holding the blade forward. He wouldn’t slacken his grasp. Not in the slightest. He would never let go. Ever.

 

He snapped the sword’s handle down to switch the weapon to bazooka mode. “Fire Smasher!” Samurai Red shouted. “Blaster Mode!”

 

The Red Ranger looked to his team. “Guys, use your Symbol Discs.”

 

The other Rangers gathered around Samurai Red and slid their discs into the weapon.

 

Fusuma muttered beneath his breath. “Nothing but more useless weapons…”

 

The monster opened fire with a blaze of bullets.

 

“Fire!” the Rangers shouted,

 

Each Symbol Disc spun, sparking with energy as the blade shot a surge of wedge-shaped power that incinerated the bullets. The energy wedge punctured through the monster.

 

Fusuma exploded with a massive burst of flame and smoke. But the fiery smoke re-shaped, and the monster grew giant.

 

The Rangers pulled out their Origami and placed the emblems on the ground. They armed their morphers in 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.

 

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 combined to form a massive, samurai-styled robo. The five Rangers gathered in a central cockpit and stood behind their control pedestals.

 

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

 

Samurai Megazord unsheathed its sword and charged forward. Shinkenou swung its blade downward diagonally. But the sword passed harmlessly through the creature’s gelatinous body.

 

The monster lifted its blaster and opened fire. Demonic bullets sparked against the Megazord, tearing against its armor and forcing the robo back several steps.

 

Samurai Megazord dropped to its knees, rocking the Rangers within their cockpit. They gripped onto their sword handles to keep their balance.

 

“Not good,” Samurai Green said.

 

“We need energy attacks,” Samurai Blue said. 

 

 Samurai Red pulled the white Symbol Disc from his buckler. “It’s time to use the Tiger Disc.”

 

He pulled his sword from the pedestal and left the Megazord’s control cockpit. He stepped onto the Megazord’s shoulder and slid the Tiger Disc onto his sword’s hilt.

 

Samurai Red spun the disc. Tendrils of flame wrapped upward along the blade. The sword ignited with fiery energy.

 

“Tiger Origami!” Samurai Red shouted as he swung his sword.

 

shinken-og-toraorigamiThe Spin Sword and Tiger Disc summoned the Tiger Origami, which expanded to giant size on the street near the Megazord.

 

Samurai Red leapt into the Tiger Origami’s cockpit and slid his blade into the control console. He held his hand over the pedestal and commanded the zord to charge forward.

 

The zord roared and pulsed with sonic energy, which knocked the monster back several steps.

 

Tiger Origami swerved around the monster and howled, as sonic energy tore across the streets. The zord dashed away from the monster while driving a sonic surge through the ground. The surge tore a crevice across the street, and the crevice ripped towards the monster.

 

The Ayakashi tried to scurry away from the cracking earth. But the crevice ripped the ground from beneath his feet, and he fell into the crack, getting caught at the waist.

 

shinken-og-torashinkenohSamurai Red pulled his sword from his control console and spun his Symbol Disc. “Tiger Origami!” the Red Ranger shouted. “Equip!”

 

The Tiger Origami surged with energy and combined with the Megazord, forming a new tiger-headed helmet and four cannons that mounted on the Megazord’s shoulders.

 

Samurai Red rejoined his teammates in the central cockpit.

 

“Samurai Megazord!” the Rangers shouted. “Tora Shinkenou!”

 

The Ayakashi climbed from the crevice and lifted his blaster. He opened fire with demonic bullets that sparked against the Megazord’s armor.

 

The Rangers pulled their swords free and spun their Symbol Discs.

 

“Samurai Megazord!” the Rangers shouted. “Tiger Surge!”

 

The Megazord leaned forward as the blasters on its shoulders spun like drills. The Ayakashi kept shooting at the Megazord, but the Megazord charged ahead as explosions tore across its armor. The Megazord’s four blasters fired streams of white-hot energy that speared towards the Ayakashi. The energy spears punctured through the monster with massive bursts of spark, which tore the creature’s body to pieces.

 

The monster exploded with a final burst of white-hot flame.

 

***

 

The teens regrouped in Ops with Tommy and Ashley.

 

“Good work, guys,” Tommy told the team.

 

“How many of those new Symbol Discs do you have lying around?” Bradin asked.

 

“One more, at the moment,” Tommy said. “It’s almost finished.”

 

“I call it,” Bradin said.

 

Anna arced an eyebrow. “You can’t just call it.”

 

“Funny, I just did,” Bradin said with a smug grin.

 

Anna rolled her eyes, and Kirsten smiled at the exchange.

 

Ryan pulled Teddy aside so they could speak privately.

 

“Do you have a second?” Ryan asked.

 

“Well…yeah,” Teddy said awkwardly. He had never really talked to any of his teammates. Not really. “I guess. What’s up?”

 

“I just wanted to say thanks,” Ryan said. His face turned slightly blush. “That Ayakashi almost blasted my head off. You got there just in time.”

 

“Don’t mention it,” Teddy said.

 

“And about Bryce…” Ryan said. “I just wanted to say that-” 

 

The alarms blared.

 

“Seriously?” Bradin asked. “It’s our day off.”

 

“We’re picking up a transmission,” Ashley said.

 

“That’s what triggered the alarm?” Anna asked.

 

Ashley nodded and pulled up the audio. “Teddy…” a voice came through the speakers. “Teddy, can you-”

 

The voice cut off.

 

The color drained from Teddy’s face. “That was Bryce.”

 

“Can you get the signal back?” Tommy asked.

 

“No, but I can trace it,” Ashley said. “The source is in an abandoned utility tunnel, in the outskirts of the city.”

 

“I’m following the source,” Teddy said as he turned and hurried from Ops.

 

“We’re coming with you,” Bradin said.

 

Teddy didn’t argue.

 

***

 

The teens ran through the abandoned utility tunnel. They heard nothing except the occasional drip of water.

 

“You sure this is the right place?” Anna asked.

 

“I’m sure,” Teddy said. “The signal came from-”

 

“Teddy!” a voice called from the shadows. “Is that you?”

 

“Bryce!” Teddy shouted as he ran towards the voice.

 

A shadowy figure stepped from the darkness ahead. Teddy thought the figure was Bryce. But he was wrong.

 

A slender woman stepped forward, blocking the rangers’ path. She wore armor similar to a ninja uniform, with dark-purple trimming. She wore slender pauldrons, arm guards and leg guards of dull, intricate silver. A dull-silver pendant hung from around her neck. The pendant matched the color of her silver headpiece, which wrapped around her forehead like a skeletal hand.

 

Teddy narrowed his eyes at the pale woman. “Who are you.

 

“Your death,” she said.

 

The ninja snapped a volley of throwing stars at the rangers. The teens dove backward to avoid the assault—they had little room to maneuver within the narrow tunnel.

 

From behind, tendrils of electricity lashed out and splashed across the rangers, driving them to the ground. The blasts sizzled across their bodies and ignited their nerves with pain.

 

The electric barrage stopped.

 

Teddy bit back the pain and climbed slowly back to his feet. He looked back to see another woman step from the shadows. She wore black leather, covered with a black chestpieced engraved with the golden image of a dragon’s head. She wore golden-trimmed arm guards and leg guards, and black pauldrons etched with the same dull-gold material.

 

Teddy narrowed his eyes. “Lal…I watched you die.”

 

She smiled wickedly. “Not everything is as it seems.”

 

To be continued…Chapter 07