Ultimate Hurricane: Chapter Nine prologue

 

Angel Grove, three days ago

 

Three stained-glass Fangaira monsters staggered backward as steam hissed from the cracks in their bodies.

 

Kamen Rider Kiva, Hurricane Yellow, Hurricane Blue, and Navy Thunder pressed forward with their attack. Kiva had recovered from his battle with his brother, Saga, and he helped the Rangers whenever needed.

 

Hurricane Blue placed her right fist against her left palm and summoned a twirling vortex of hydro energy that circled around her like a tornado. She thrust her hands forward. "Tempest Wave!"

 

The hydro cyclone spun forward.

 

Hurricane Yellow placed his right fist against his left palm as the ground rumbled beneath his feet. "Seismic Storm!"

 

The Yellow Ranger thrust his hand forward and fired a jagged burst of yellow energy that streaked through the air with a shockwave that tore apart the ground.

 

Navy Thunder placed his right fist against his left palm. "Elemental Crisis!"

 

He thrust his hand forward and blasted a thick bolt of lightning that snapped through the air with a thundering boom and rippled the fabric of space/time itself.

 

Kamen Rider Kiva somersaulted through the air and aimed a flying kick towards the three monsters. The Navy Thunder Ranger’s lightning bolt and Yellow Ranger’s seismic bolt splashed across his armor, energizing his body with crackling power. The Blue Ranger’s hydro tornado wrapped around his body and spun like a drill aimed towards their enemies.

 

The Rider’s kick exploded against the lead monster with a massive, blinding shockwave that shattered the Fangaira and tore across the street.

 

Kiva landed and breathed heavily as the Rangers regrouped around him.

 

“See,” Hurricane Yellow said to his teammates. “I told you that move would work.”

 

“You know we’re getting desperate when we’re relying on you for plans,” Navy Thunder said.

 

“I’d be offended if that move didn’t totally work,” Hurricane Yellow said.

 

Kiva breathed heavily and powered down his armor. The Blue Ranger laid a hand on his shoulder. “You OK?”

 

Kiva nodded. “Yes. Just…Tired.”

 

“This isn’t exactly a good place to nap,” Navy Thunder said. “Let’s move before our favorite Bird Rangers show up...again.”

 

Chapter 09: Ultimate Hurricane

Forsaken

 

Comets of fire rained down from crimson skies and fell towards a massive cavern of jagged, black rock. They were no ordinary comets—they screamed as they plummeted towards the black pit below. They were the souls of the dead falling into Hell.

 

Simon’s vision blurred slowly into focus, and he found himself staring down at the scene. He watched from above as souls of the dead plummeted towards damnation through streaks of flame.

 

The teen scrambled to his feet, finding himself on a partially transparent cloud of black smoke. “What…”

 

“Be calm, Ranger,” a voice said from behind. Simon turned to see a man dressed in black robes stand near a fireplace of black stone. The man looked into the fireplace, which flickered with blue flames. “We’re not really here…Not in physical form. We are on the Astral Plane.”

 

The stranger looked pale, with slick white hair, a black goatee, and eyes that seemed to shimmer with black fire whenever he moved his head. “What a cruel joke, yes? An existence that would allow eternal pain and suffering as an endless fate. Why would you fight to protect a reality such as this?”

 

“Who are you?” Simon asked.

 

“Moridyn,” the man said proudly. “One of the first Immortals. One of the Nine cast into prison within this realm, which you call Hades. Those who walk the Earth and remember us call us the Forsaken. We are all freed now, thanks to your father.”

 

“Azmodai?” Simon asked. “He’s not my father.”

 

Moridyn waved his hand dismissively. “Close enough. His power flows through your veins.”

 

Simon rolled his hands into fists. “Look, I know you probably have all sorts of mind games and riddles planned, but why don’t we skip to the part where you send me back home.”

 

“You’re worried about your brothers Samuel and Brandon, yes?” Moridyn asked. “Don’t be. They will be fine. I don’t mean to keep you here...I simply wished to meet you mind to mind.”

 

“Why?” Simon asked.

 

“The Final Prophecy,” Moridyn said. “You’re a key to its revelation.” He looked to Simon and smiled, and his eyes flickered with a hint of black flame. “I had to see you for myself.”

 

“Why here?” Simon asked.

 

“Simple,” Moridyn said. “To remind you what you fight for.”

 

“You can’t possibly-”

 

“Enough,” Moridyn said. “I have something to show you…”

 

Simon felt an invisible force hurl his mind through the Astral Plane, through a storm of memories that were not his own.

 

***

 

Years ago, Angel Grove

 

The boy who would become Zero lived with his mother in Silver Hills, a rich suburb of Angel Grove. The eight-year-old boy’s mother wasn’t wealthy, but she worked as a maid for one of the richest families in Silver Hills: the Collins family. The family let Madelyn and her son live in a small ranch home on the property.

 

The boy, Zachary, sat at his mother’s bedside. She looked pale and sweaty as she coughed into a handkerchief. She’d been getting sicker every day for the past two weeks.

 

“Zachary, go to school…” she said with a wheezy voice.

 

Zachary shook his head. “I wanna stay here with you.”

 

“I’ll be fine,” she said. She did her best to give her son a reassuring smile. “You’re supposed to be going to school and having fun with your friends…Don’t worry about me, sweety…”

 

Zachary kissed his mother on the forehead before reluctantly packing his bag and heading off to school.

 

He walked down a landscaped sidewalk with his head hung low. His thoughts dwelled on his mother. He’d lived alone with her his whole life. He’d never known his dad, who ran out on them without explanation.

 

A rock suddenly smacked against the back of the boy’s head, knocking him to the ground. He heard laughter come from behind.

 

“Look at him, did you see that? Oh man, what a spaz!”

 

Zachary climbed to his feet and looked to see three other children on the sidewalk. Bullies. The children wore fancy prep uniforms that looked far more expensive than Zachary’s street clothes.

 

Zachary dusted off his clothes and kept walking. Anger burned in his chest, and tears swelled in his eyes. He ignored the laughter of the children behind him as he moved forward.

 

***

 

Zachary’s mother died later that day. They had pulled him aside in school to tell him the news, and he had fled, as fast as he could, not wanting to accept the truth. Not wanting to accept that this thing called cancer could cost him his only family and friend.

 

He eventually stopped running and walked aimless around his block, over and over, with his book bag slung over his shoulder. No one would search for him. No one cared.

 

A rock bashed against his back, nearly knocking him off balance. He heard laughter from behind—the same three bullies as before school.

 

“Nice, he managed to stay on his feet this time,” the lead bully said between laughs. Must be those sick generic shoes. Did your mommy buy those in a sweat shop?”

 

The bully and his cronies burst into laughter.

 

Zachary narrowed his eyes as anger and grief stormed within his body. He dropped his book bag, turned and walked towards the bullies.

 

“What?” the lead bully asked between laughs. “What, you going to-”

 

Zachary smashed a punch across the bully’s head, knocking him to the ground. He crouched over the punk and beat him in the face without mercy. Zachary poured his anger and rage into each blow, not realizing each strike carried a measure of telekinetic force that crunched through bone.

 

Tears streamed down Zachary’s cheeks as he pommeled the bully to death.

 

***

 

The memory faded. Simon felt Zero’s sorrow, anger and shame. He could feel the boy’s longing for something…better. And the hatred of those who had everything, and mocked him for having nothing.

 

But most of all, he felt the pain of a boy who missed his mom.

 

Simon’s mind shifted as another memory washed across the dreamscape.

 

***

 

Angel Grove, years ago

 

Fourteen-year-old Madelyn curled up in bed with her legs against her chest and her head against her knees. The girl who would grow to become the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club cried as her mother sat beside her.

 

“What’s wrong, my child?” Victoria asked as she stroked Madelyn’s hair.

 

“Henry…” Madelyn said of her mother’s newest husband. “He tried to…he tried to…”

 

“Did he try to hurt you?” Victoria asked.

 

Madelyn nodded.

 

“Well…” Victoria said. “This is just splendid.”

 

Madelyn sniffed back a tear and looked up at her smiling mother. “Wh…what?”

 

“Don’t you see, Madelyn? We can use this,” Victoria said. “That old fool is nothing but a useless drunk. If we take him out of the picture, all his wealth, everything he owns, will be ours.”

 

“What are you saying?” Madelyn asked.

 

“I’m saying the next time he tries to have his way with you, you kill him,” Victoria said. “We’ll explain it was self-defense. And of course, they’ll believe you. Make sure he gets far enough to…leave a mark.”

 

“What?!” 

 

“Madelyn, just do this,” Victoria said. “We can’t leave him. We’d have nothing. This is the only way to protect yourself and guarantee our wellbeing.”

 

***

 

Madelyn lay on the couch the next night. She pretended to have drifted off to sleep. She curled up in a pajama shirt with no bottoms except for her underwear. Her mother had hidden a gun in the end table.

 

She waited for Henry to stumble into the living room, drunk. The man smiled at her with a crooked mouth and walked slowly towards the couch. The girl buried her mind with shame and allowed herself to shut down, completely.

 

Madelyn felt his hands tighten around her wrists. She didn’t know how long it lasted. But she eventually snapped her mind back on, pushed Henry away, and pulled the gun from the end table.

 

Henry stumbled backward. “What the...you crazy little-”

 

Madelyn fired twice, shooting Henry in the shoulder and the leg. The man shouted with pain and collapsed to the ground.

 

In shock, Madelyn dropped the gun.

 

“You little bitch!” Henry shouted as tears streamed slowly down Madelyn’s cheek. “You little bitch!”

 

Victoria stormed into the living room and noticed Henry’s non-fatal wounds.  

 

“Victoria!” Henry shouted. “That little devil girl of yours-”

 

Without the slightest hint of emotion, Victoria lifted the gun from the floor and shot Henry in the head. 

 

Madelyn screamed and sat on the couch. She covered her hands with her face and cried as her mother wiped her fingerprints off the gun. She extended the gun back towards Madelyn. “Take it; it needs your prints.”

 

Madelyn kept crying into her hands, and Victoria slapped her daughter across the face.

 

Madelyn took hold of the gun.

 

“Useless,” Victoria said. “He was standing right in front of you and you couldn’t even-”

 

Madelyn shot her mother in the head.

 

***

 

Simon’s mind lurched. He felt his birth mother’s shame and despair. And fear. She’d been left alone, and it was all her fault.

 

His mind shifted again. He saw Samuel crying on the floor of his foster home. Another shift. Then another. Through memories of those Simon didn’t recognize. But he recognized their feelings. Pain. Longing. Anger. Despair. Another shift, and Simon found himself back on the Astral Plane with Moridyn.  

 

Simon breathed deeply. He felt dizzy and shaken from his experience.   “What the hell was that?”

 

“A small glimpse into their minds. Their memories and feelings,” Moridyn said.

 

“What game are you playing?” Simon asked.

 

“You are the one caught in a game, and you believe yourself the hero.” Moridyn stared into the blue-hot fireplace. “Did you feel their despair? In their memories? You fight for a world that allows endless pain and suffering. They fight for a world where pain and suffering doesn’t exist. Tell me…who are the villains in this game of yours?”

 

“They’re working with demons,” Simon said.

 

“Says the boy who’s been bonding demons to his soul,” Moridyn said. The Forsaken shook his head, his eye flickering with black flame at the movement. “We’ll speak again when your mind’s more open. When you’ve come to realize the truth of your existence, and the existence of the mortal world.”

 

Simon’s mind suddenly lurched from the Astral Plane.

 

***

 

Simon climbed slowly back to his feet. Clouds of dust surrounded him, veiling the charred and torn landscape. Brandon’s psionic explosion had decimated the neighborhood.

 

“Brandon!” Simon shouted, then immediately coughed. “Brandon! Samuel!”

 

“Simon!” a voice shouted from the side of the road. The voice belonged to Samuel. “Over here!”

 

Simon jogged over to see Samuel crouched on the ground breathing heavily. The teen leaned down and laid a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “You OK? Where’s Brandon?”

 

Samuel shook his head. “Zen took him.”

 

“The red guy?” Simon asked.

 

“The Flame Sword Knight,” Samuel said.

 

“Do you know where they’re headed?” Simon asked.

 

“No,” Samuel said. “Maybe the mansion, but I’m not sure. I didn’t even know he’d be here. I came looking for you.”

 

Simon helped Samuel to his feet. “I was wondering what happened to you…after the Sabbath.”

 

“I’d like to know that too,” Samuel said. “Everything is blank between the Sabbath and a couple days ago. It’s the armor…” He shook his head, not wanting to explain. “So…is Brandon who I think he is?”

 

Simon nodded. “He’s our brother. And we have to help him.”

 

“I don’t know if I can,” Samuel said. “Something’s happening to me. I can’t explain…I can’t explain it.”

 

“Something’s happening to all of us,” Simon said. “But Brandon’s just a kid; he has no idea what’s going on. He’s hurt and scared. And powerful…too powerful. We can’t let the Hellfire Club win him over.”

 

“You mean like they did with me,” Samuel said.

 

“That’s not what I meant,” Simon said. “You’re here now. That’s all that matters.”

 

“Touching…” a voice said from the cloud of dust. They looked to see Zero limp towards them. He looked battered and injured, with cuts and bruises. “You two are idiots.”

 

“Zero…” Simon said as he rolled his hands into fists.

 

Samuel stepped forward to keep his older brother from attacking. “He’s not worth it, Simon.”

 

“Is that the way you really feel, brother?” Zero asked.

 

“You’re not our brother,” Samuel said. “Not by blood.”

 

“Does it matter?” Zero asked. “We’re the Chosen. The Children of the First Demon.”

 

“Tell us where Zen took Brandon,” Simon demanded.

 

“It doesn’t matter,” Zero said. “We’ll all be together soon. One big, happy, dysfunctional family.”

 

“For what?” Simon asked. “Did you ever stop and ask yourself why the Hellfire Club wanted us all together?”

 

“An army,” Zero said. “They wanted an army. It’s not that complicated.”

 

“Demon’s aren’t exactly simple,” Simon said.

 

“Right, right,” Zero said mockingly. “Because there’s nothing simple about wanting power. To me? That’s about as simple as it gets.”

 

“Then you’re the idiot,” Simon said.

 

Zero unsheathed his twin swords. “Say that again...”

 

Suddenly, Silver Guardian jeeps burst onto the decimated block as if from nowhere. They swerved around corners and sped to where Simon and Samuel faced off with Zero.

 

A crooked smile crossed Zero’s face. “This should be fun…”

 

“Zero, don’t,” Simon said. “Let’s just leave. We can-”

 

Zero turned and faced a trio of incoming SUVs. He held out his palm and tightened his hand into a fist, crushing a jeep with his telekinetic abilities. He used his mind to swipe the crushed jeep away, and flipped the second jeep onto its side. The third jeep smashed against a wall of psionic energy.

 

The villain laughed and turned towards the other end of the street to face the remaining jeeps.

 

Simon lunged forward with a flying crescent kick that bashed across Zero’s head. The blow knocked the injured villain off his feet, and he crashed against the street.

 

The remaining jeeps skid to a halt, and Silver Guardian soldiers fanned out into position, surrounding the two brothers and Zero.

 

“Don’t,” Samuel said to his older brother. “We can’t.”

 

“Can’t what?” Simon asked.

 

“I know what you’re thinking,” Samuel said. “We can’t hurt them. Whatever’s happening to us, we have to control-”

 

“On the ground!” the lead guardian shouted while aiming his blaster. Simon recognized him immediately. It was Wes.

 

“Wes?” Simon asked. “Wes, this isn’t what it looks like…”

 

“Simon…?” Wes asked, surprised to see the ranger. But he kept his gun aimed forward. “Don’t make this hard, OK? You’re going to have to come with us.”

 

“Wes, you know I wouldn’t-”

 

“I know five city blocks are wiped out and you’re standing at the center of it,” Wes said.

 

Simon sensed Wes’s hesitation. Wes had never been an enemy of Tommy or his Rangers. The former Time Force Ranger respected Tommy, and had even helped Simon with his quest to learn the secret of his birth parents.

 

“The fight’s over,” Simon said. “Let us walk away.”

 

“Except for him,” Samuel said, nodding to Zero.

 

“I can’t give you a free pass,” Wes said. “Not this time…”

 

Simon noticed one of the guardian’s eyes flash solid-black. A demon had possessed the soldier. The guardian grinned and aimed his gun towards the back of Wes’s head.

 

“No!” Simon shouted.

 

He thrust his hand forward and fired a Ki blast targeted towards the demon. But the blast carried far more power than the ranger intended. The invisible burst of force smashed against the guardians and their jeeps, hurling them through the air.

 

The guardians crashed against the ground hard, and two of their SUVs exploded on impact.

 

Several guardians rolled into crouched positions and opened fire on Simon, Samuel, and Zero.

 

Simon dove aside as explosive bullets tore across the street with bursts of shrapnel.

 

Samuel and Zero unsheathed their swords and sliced through the bullets with bursts of spark.

 

Zero swung his swords through a lightning-quick series of slashes that swatted bullets back towards the guardians. The armor-piercing rounds tore through the soldiers with splatters of blood.

 

Simon felt their emotional screams of anguish seconds before their death. “Stop it!”

 

The ranger shot to his feet and thrust his palm towards Zero. A sphere of black flame burst from his hand and splashed across Zero, knocking the villain off his feet as he screamed. The fire left his skin and clothing untouched but burnt his soul.

 

Simon looked down at his hands with shock. “What the…” He had used Shadow Fire. The same attack favored by Azmodai. “How did that…”

 

A bullet shot through his shoulder, snapping his body around. On instinct, he thrust his palm forward and hurled a blast of Kiryoku at the guardians. The Ki power sizzled with Shadow Fire that ripped apart several soldiers, killing them instantly, and hurled the other guardians off their feet. The remaining five soldiers crashed against the street and lost consciousness—Wes was among those who survived.

 

Simon collapsed to his knees. He used one hand to grip his wounded shoulder and stared down at his other hand. What had happened? Where had the fire come from? He knew absorbing demons would make him stronger, but he never expected to harness something such as Shadow Fire.

 

Samuel stared at his brother with disbelief. The young knight shook his head. “What have you done…” he whispered.

 

“It was an accident,” Simon said.

 

“No. Not to them. To yourself,” Samuel said. “I felt them. Inside you. You’ve been absorbing their energy. Absorbing demons…”

 

They heard sirens approach from nearby as more Silver Guardians drove towards the scene.

 

“It’s not that simple,” Simon said. “It’s…” He shook his head. “Look, let’s get out of here and we can talk about-”

 

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Samuel said. He didn’t sound angry. He sounded sad and disappointed. “I came to you for help. I thought I could trust you, but…You’re just like them.”

 

Samuel turned and walked from the scene. Simon started to follow, but pain seared through his body. His shoulder burned. His mind ached. He felt exhausted and nearly collapsed.

 

The next thing he knew, Silver Guardian and SPD vehicles had surrounded him. He looked for Samuel and Zero, but both had managed to leave before the guardians arrived.  

 

Nat, the leader of the DECA Rangers, aimed his blaster towards Simon’s head. “Don’t move an inch, or I swear, I will pull this trigger.”

 

Simon started to climb to his feet. But his pain overwhelmed him, knocking him into unconsciousness.

 

***

 

Samuel walked aimlessly through the neighborhood. He moved with his head hung low and tried to keep himself from crying. He wanted to believe in his mother. He wanted to believe in his older brother. But both played with demons. With evil.

 

The boy wanted to change the world. He wanted to bring stability and end the pointless suffering that plagued the human race. But he could never ally himself with demons. With evil.

 

He remembered his mother’s words: “Who says demons are evil?”

 

Samuel shook his head. Of course they were evil…right?

 

He felt the savagery of his armor boil within his soul. He winced and clutched his chest. The Soul Metal armor was bonded to the souls of extinct werewolves. Even when dormant, the souls leaked their influence into Samuel’s spirit.

 

He should have never worn the armor. And yet he didn’t want to give it up.

 

“What’s happening to me…” he whispered.

 

“Hello, Samuel,” a voice said from behind. Samuel turned to see a pale man with long black hair and a trench coat. The Rangers called him the Dark Man. Akuma. “I know this is a confusing time for you…Perhaps I can help.”

 

To be continued…Chapter 10