Chapter 10: Ultimate Hurricane

Imprisoned

 

Simon sat in a jail cell within a Silver Guardian auxiliary base. The base appeared as an ordinary jail house, except for the bars made of solid energy.

 

The ranger knew he could easily break from his cell, knock out the guards, and escape within minutes. But he feared losing control and hurting someone.

 

He looked down at his palms and tightened his hands into fists. What’s happening to me…?

 

The door to the jail room opened as Nat walked inside. The leader of SPD’s DECA Ranger team walked cautiously towards Simon’s cell.

 

“Comfortable?” Nat asked.

 

“Yeah,” Simon said. “Like laying on cloud.”

 

“We didn’t want to risk taking you back to HQ, so this place will have to do,” Nat said.

 

“Let me talk to Wes,” Simon said.

 

Nat ignored the demand. “You know…” he said with disappointment in his voice. “We tried to stay out of your way. We really did. We had no reason to mess with you or your teammates. Until today…”

 

“It was an accident,” Simon said.

 

“Even if that’s true…which I tend to believe…you attacked and killed over a dozen guardians.”

 

Simon covered his guilt with anger. He narrowed his eyes and stormed closer to the bars. “You had no business being there in the first place! None of you!”

 

Nat’s hand hovered over his holstered blaster. “Step back…”

 

Simon looked down to see his own hands rolled into fists; tendrils of black flame subtly traced across his knuckles. The ranger breathed deeply and relaxed his hands. “Son of a bitch…” he whispered.

 

“What’s happening to you?” Nat asked.

 

“Don’t worry about it,” Simon said.

 

“You’re the one who should be worried, Simon,” Nat said. He didn’t say the words as a threat. He spoke with sincere concern. “Whatever’s happening to you will give Dr. Cranston the excuse he needs to bring the hammer down on you and your friends. The last thing we need is some Ranger Civil War.”

 

“Then leave us alone,” Simon said.

 

“We can’t anymore,” Nat said. “Not after what you did…”

 

Nat turned and walked from the jail room, leaving Simon alone.

 

***

 

Blake walked slowly to Rachel’s door. He breathed deeply as anxiety clutched his throat—which was ridiculous. His dad trained him to be a psycho killer. How could girls scare him? But then again, Rachel was no ordinary girl. Blake loved her more than anything.

 

He took a deep breath and knocked.

 

The lock clicked, and Rachel opened the door. Blake smiled and lifted a box of pizza.

 

Rachel smiled and rolled her eyes. “I hate it when you bring props.”

 

“This isn’t a prop,” Blake said. “It’s a pizza. Something normal couples get together and eat while watching sappy chick flicks or musicals or something.”

 

“Are you trying to apologize?” Rachel asked.

 

“Yes. Yes I am,” Blake said. “Is it working? I was thinking of bringing flowers but thought, ya know…who doesn’t like pizza, right?”

 

“Do you know what you’re apologizing for?” Rachel asked.

 

“No…but I know I should be apologizing, and that’s progress,” Blake said.

 

Rachel sighed as she gave into his charm. “What makes that sad is that it’s true.” She stepped aside. “Come in. My parents won’t be home for a-”

 

Their communicators toned.

 

“Are you freaking kidding me?” Blake asked. He answered his communicator. “Are you freaking kidding me?”

 

“Yes,” Tommy answered. “All hell’s broken loose and life’s a joke. We’ll laugh about it later…We need you at Ops.”

 

***

 

Blake, Justin and Rachel joined Tommy and Ashley in Ops. They looked at computer images showing the aftermath of an explosion. Charred debris covered several city blocks.

 

“What happened?” Rachel asked.

 

“Simon and the Hellfire Knights,” Tommy said. “Our scanners didn’t detect anything until it was too late.”

 

“That’s helpful,” Blake said.

 

Rachel nudged him in the ribs.

 

“We have to figure out what’s going on with him and the Hellfire Club,” Tommy said, his eyes fixed on the images. “We can’t let something like this happen again.”

 

“What about the Fangaira?” Justin asked.

 

“And the Hand…” Blake said.

 

“Xanathor,” Rachel added.

 

“The Dark Man,” Justin said. “The Dark Shaper…”

 

“We’ll drive ourselves crazy if we think about every threat out there right now. Today, the problem is the Hellfire Club. So we focus on the Hellfire Club,” Tommy said. “Take Kiva with you. Start at the blast sight, then fan out and search.”

 

“What about your shiny new Samurai team?” Blake asked.

 

“They’re staying out of this,” Tommy said. “They have the Gedoushuu and Vorlock to worry about.”

 

“We’ll trade the Hellfire Club for the Vorlock,” Blake said.

 

“Weren’t the Vorlock wiped out?” Justin asked.

 

“Why else would we trade for them?” Blake said. “We’ve got, like, sixty bad guys to fight and the Samurai kids have two.”

 

“Guys…” Tommy said sternly.

 

“We’ll get going,” Rachel said. “Come on, boys…”

 

***

 

Blake, Rachel and Justin stepped into the courtyard to find Teddy Oliver and Ryan Phillips waiting. Teddy, Tommy’s younger brother by adoption, served as Samurai Red, and Ryan served as Samurai Blue.

 

“I heard what happened with Simon,” Teddy said. “I want to help.”

 

Teddy ached for a distraction, having recently learned his boyfriend Bryce had become Gedoushuu. The ranger didn’t want to lose his best friend too.

 

Rachel shook her head. “Tommy said-”

 

“I don’t care what he said,” Teddy said. “Simon’s my best friend…Was my best friend. I can’t let him…” he shook his head. “I’m going, OK?”

 

“I’m coming too,” Ryan said to his leader. “We’re teammates, remember?”

 

Blake sighed. “Let’s just go, please, I’m antsy.”

 

“You’re always antsy,” Rachel said.

 

“So…” Justin said to Teddy. “Our first team up? Exciting times.”

 

“Seriously, let’s find Stained-Glass Boy and go,” Blake said with frustration. “We don’t want to leave him waiting or he might…crack…or something. I’ve got nothing, let’s just go, I’m getting bored.”

 

***

 

Night fell across the Silver Guardian jailhouse.

 

Simon sat in the corner of his cell and stared down at his palms. He rolled his hands into fists, and then released his grip, repeatedly. He felt fire burn within his knuckles. He felt power course through his soul like boiling, film-covered water. Stained.

 

The doors to the jail room opened as a pair of guards walked inside. One of the guards carried a tray of food. 

 

“I’m not hungry,” Simon said.

 

“Didn’t ask,” the lead guard said as he powered down the energy cell.

 

The two soldiers stepped into the cell, and Simon noticed their eyes flicker black. They were demon-possessed.

 

“Son of a…”

 

Simon pounced to his feet and snapped a jump kick upside the lead guard’s head, knocking the food tray to the ground. The ranger spun with a hook kick across the second guard’s face, then lunged forward and bashed an elbow against the guard’s chest, knocking him to the ground.

 

The door to the jail room burst open as three more guards rushed in, followed by Nat. Nat and the guards pulled out their blasters. “Seriously? You couldn’t go-”

 

“They’re possessed,” Simon said. He grabbed a guard and slammed his face against the wall, then snapped a back kick against a second guard’s chest.

 

Nat swung the handle of his blaster towards Simon’s head. But Simon grabbed Nat by the wrist and twisted his arm behind his back.

 

“Stop!” Simon shouted into Nat’s ear as he tightened his grip.

 

“You’ve lost it,” Nat said as he winced.

 

“Maybe,” Simon said. “That doesn’t make your friends any less demon.”

 

The remaining guard smiled and aimed his blaster. His eyes flickered black for a brief moment. “Two Red Rangers…”

 

Nat narrowed his eyes. “Shit…”

 

He grabbed hold of Simon’s arm to lift himself and snap a kick that knocked the gun from the guard’s hand. Nat twisted free, spun forward, and smashed the back of his fist across the guard’s head, knocking him to the ground.

 

Nat lifted a gun and aimed the weapon at the demon. “How many of you are here?”

 

The demon looked up and laughed, his eyes solid black and maddening. “You should be asking how many more are coming…”

 

Nat kicked the demon upside the head. “That’s comforting…” he said sarcastically.

 

Another group of guards swarmed into the jail room, and Nat swung his blaster towards the soldiers. “Stay back…”

 

Confused, the guards kept their distance but held their blasters forward.

 

Simon sensed sincere confusion and concern ebb from the guards. “They’re clean,” he said to Nat. “They’re not possessed.”

 

“You sure?” Nat asked.

 

Simon nodded, and Nat lowered his weapon. “We’ve been infiltrated,” Nat said to his men. “We’ve got to move.”

 

“What about the girl?” one of the men asked.

 

“Girl?” Simon asked. “Zadie’s here?”

 

Nat ignored Simon. “Bring her too.”

 

Simon grabbed Nat by the arm to get his attention. “Zadie’s here?”

 

“We didn’t exactly invite her,” Nat said. “She broke in trying to free you.”

 

Simon followed Nat and the guards through a hallway and into an office area, where they met with another group of guards that escorted Zadie. She smiled at Simon and held up her wrists, which were cuffed. She easily snapped off the cuffs.

 

“Not my best rescue attempt, but you can’t blame a girl for trying,” she said.

 

“What’s happening?” Simon asked her.

 

“Demons are trying to kill you. Just another day,” she said.

 

“Why would Azmodai send demons to kill me when he wants me to join him?” Simon asked.

 

“Not all demons are on your daddy’s side. Why do you think he wants an army?” Zadie said.

 

“Fascinating, but we need to move,” Nat said. He looked over his shoulder to one of his men at a nearby desk. “Where’s our transport?”

 

“It’s warming up its morphing dampeners and pulling around front now,” the guard said.

 

“Morphing dampeners?” Simon asked.

 

“They keep you from morphing or channeling,” Nat said. “They’re all over this building too. INET designed it to contain Rangers.”

 

“Cute,” Simon said sarcastically.

 

Suddenly, the building shuddered from a nearby explosion. The lights flickered, and several of the guards clutched nervously onto their blaster holsters.

 

Nat stepped closer to a window and peered through the blinds. Outside, several Silver Guardian SUVs lay toppled and engulfed with flames. He saw dozens upon dozens of men and women stalk slowly across the parking lot.

 

Their eyes were solid black. They were demon possessed.

 

“More of your friends are coming…” Nat said to Simon. “Thanks for that…”

 

“You’re the geniuses who locked us in here with morphing dampeners,” Simon said. “How do those even work?”

 

“I turn them on. They dampen morphing,” Nat said. “Pretty simple.”

 

“That doesn’t explain anything,” Simon said.

 

“I really don’t care,” Nat said.

 

Two Silver Guardians entered the lobby from a back room. “There’s more of them out back…we’re surrounded.”

 

“Comm lines?” Nat asked.

 

“All down,” one of the guards said.

 

“That’s actually not a bad thing,” Nat said. “HQ should notice the comm blackout and send backup.”

 

“Should or will?” Simon asked.

 

“Will,” Nat said. “We just need to hold until they get here.”

 

“Your people can’t fight through those demons,” Simon said. “They’ll be slaughtered.”

 

“You’re concerned now?” Nat asked.

 

“Boys, stop arguing and give me my knife,” Zadie said.

 

Nat looked to one of the guards and nodded. The guard pulled Zadie’s knife from his leg holster and handed the weapon to the demon hunter.

 

Zadie took the blade and smiled.

 

Simon shook his head with disbelief. “There are dozens of them outside. You can’t just go out there and stab them all to death.”

 

“Watch me,” Zadie said.

 

“There’s a better way,” Simon said. “Let them all come in here. To me…I can exorcize them all at once.”

 

“That might be the dumbest thing you’ve ever said,” Zadie said.

 

“I can,” Simon said. “I know I can. Even with the dampeners in this place. I can still feel my power…”

 

He tightened his hands into fists, and trickles of black flame traced across his knuckles.

 

“Let me do this,” Simon said. “I can’t let anyone else get hurt.”

 

“What you can’t do is take in that much power at once,” Zadie said.

 

The office doors burst open as a gang of demons plunged into the building.

 

Nat cursed beneath his breath and blasted through the demon possessed men as they jumped over desks and chairs to attack Simon.

 

Zadie leapt onto a desk, pushed off, and landed while driving her blade through a demon’s chest. The man sizzled as if the blade had ignited his insides; light flashed beneath his skin and through his eyes and mouth as the demon burnt away from his soul.

 

Zadie pulled her knife free, slashed across a demon’s throat, and stabbed another demon in the gut. Their bodies sizzled with power as they collapsed.

 

More demons pushed into the building. They poured into the jail house from the rear as well as the front. Nat shouted orders to his men as they opened fire. But their guns didn’t seem nearly as effective as Zadie’s blade.

 

Simon stood in the middle of the office room and closed his eyes. He could feel the dampeners interfering with his connection to the One Power. But he still felt trickles of Kiryoku flow through his veins, and he felt the demonic power of his blood course through his body.

 

The teen reached out with his empathic senses and felt the demons. He touched each of them with his mind to make sure they were all inside the building. They rushed towards him while knocking aside Silver Guardians and smashing through tables and chairs.

 

Simon waited until they moved as close as possible, then snapped open his eyes while lifting his hands to his sides.

 

Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus!” Simon tightened his fists and used his Kiryoku to grasp onto the dozens of demon possessed men in the room.

 

The demons stopped in their tracks and convulsed. Some collapsed to the ground with silent screams. Others staggered and clutched their chests. Unseen energy discharges burst through electrical outlets and shattered light bulbs.

 

Omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursion infernalis adversarii, omnis legio, omnis congregatio et secta diabolica!

 

The demons tilted their heads back and screamed. Pillars of smoke erupted from their throats and twirled around the room with the force of a cyclone, knocking back guards and hurling desks. The desks splintered against the walls as the tornado of demonic energy howled.

 

Simon grasped onto the demonic smoke and seized its power. He screamed as the smoke surged into his eyes and mouth and flowed through his veins, grafting onto his spirit.

 

The storm died down, and Simon collapsed to all fours. He screamed again, in agony at the power coursing through his body.

 

Zadie hurried over and kneeled at his side. “Simon…” she whispered as she laid a hand on his shoulder. “I told you that would be too much at once…”

 

He smashed the back of his fist across her face, and the impact knocked her across the room.

 

“Stay back!” he shouted as he staggered to his feet. Tendrils of black flame wisped across his body.

 

Simon scrambled through the lobby and sprinted outside to flee. But a squad of Silver Guardian SUVs swerved into the parking lot to block his path. The vehicles pulled alongside trucks and cars that were already toppled, some on fire, as a result of the demons’ attack.

 

The guardians fanned out and aimed their blasters at the ranger. “Don’t move!” one of the guardians shouted. It was Lucas. “Stay back!”

 

“Lucas, let me go…” Simon pleaded. “You have no idea what’s happening…”

 

Wisps of black flame circled around Simon as he stood his ground.

 

One of the guardians panicked and opened fire.

 

Simon swung his hand and used his Kiryoku to swat the bullet back towards the guardian. The bullet blasted through the soldier’s head.

 

“No!” Simon shouted.

 

The guardians opened fire with high-yield, armor-piercing rounds. Simon slapped his right fist against his left palm and formed a black-tinted Ki barrier that blocked the bullets with bursts of spark.

 

Nat ran towards the ranger from behind. He pulled out his morpher. “SPD! Emergency!”

 

Energy shimmered around him as he morphed into his Ranger form. DECA Red armed his D-Magnums and opened fire, but Simon’s barrier blocked the blasts.

 

Simon cursed beneath his breath and turned to face the Red DECA Ranger. “Dammit, Nat, back off!”

 

The teen thrust his hand forward with a burst of black-tinted Kiryoku that smashed against the Red Ranger with bursts of spark and hurled him backward.

 

Sirens blared from nearby as a trio of SPD vehicles pulled into the parking lot. Kruger and the other DECA Rangers—Sam, Bridge, Sky, Syd and Z—filed out and armed their morphers.

 

“Contain him!” Kruger shouted to the others as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

DECA Shadow, DECA Break, DECA Blue, DECA Green, DECA Pink and DECA Yellow charged at Simon from opposite sides.

 

Simon took a step back and slid into a defensive stance. “I don’t want to do this…”

 

Blurs of motion suddenly zipped past the DECA Rangers and slashed across their armor with bursts of spark. The blurs skid to a halt and stood between Simon and the DECA team. They were Hurricane Yellow, Hurricane Blue, Navy Thunder, Samurai Red, and Samurai Blue. Ashley had learned of Simon’s imprisonment and alerted the team before they had a chance to meet up with Kiva.

 

They struck hard and fast, having learned from Jet Force that the time for talk and banter between the two Ranger factions was over. 

 

Samurai Red and Samurai Blue chopped their blades towards DECA Shadow. The Shadow Ranger parried their swords and slashed low. But the Samurai Rangers managed to parry and counter with powerful swings and strikes, which DECA Shadow had to step back to block and dodge.

 

Meanwhile the Navy Thunder Ranger chopped his staff towards DECA Break. DECA Break used his forearm to block the blow. But Navy Thunder bashed the other end of his staff across the White Ranger’s helmet with a burst of spark.

 

“Are you insane!?” Simon shouted to his former teammates.

 

“You’re welcome,” Navy Thunder said as he bashed a kick across DECA Blue’s head. “There’s a reason we hit them hard and fast. To get you out. So get out already.”

 

Samurai Red slashed past DECA Shadow and moved closer towards his friend. “Simon, come on, before this gets messy.”

 

Bullets sparked against the Red Samurai Ranger and whipped him off his feet.

 

“Teddy!” Simon shouted.

 

The teen snapped around to see DECA Red aiming his D-Magnums.

 

“Nat, you son of a bitch!”

 

Simon thrust his hand forward and grabbed DECA Red with a grip of Kiryoku. The teen lifted the Red Ranger several meters into the air and squeezed until he heard the sound of ribs pop.

 

“Simon…” Samurai Red said as he climbed back to his feet. “What are you…Don’t!”

 

The Red Samurai Ranger charged forward and tackled his shoulder against Simon’s back, knocking him aside. The teen’s invisible grasp on DECA Red slackened, and the Red DECA Ranger collapsed to the ground.

 

Simon snapped around and hurled a black-singed bolt of Kiryoku that sparked against Samurai Red’s chest. The blow hurled the Red Samurai Ranger backward, and he smashed against a toppled SUV.

 

“Simon?!” Hurricane Blue shouted at him. “What are you doing?!”

 

“Calm down, man!” Hurricane Yellow said.

 

Simon felt rage boil through his blood. He felt the angry cries of demons tear through his soul. “This is out of control…All you had to do was stay back! All of you!”

 

The ranger instinctively armed his morpher. “Ninjetti change!” Simon shouted as he swiped his hand across his bracer. “Ha!”

 

The bracer sparked with a discharge of black power that nearly knocked Simon off his feet. The morpher’s Power Disc glowed with black light that twirled around his body like the wind.

 

His armor started to flow across his body like black oil and take form. The armor looked like a black ninja uniform. His helmet appeared as the normal Hurricane Power Ranger design, except colored dull-black instead of red.

 

“Simon…” Hurricane Yellow whispered as he took a step back. “What did you do…?”

 

“Don’t say that,” Hurricane Black whispered, his voice shaken. “Don’t say that!”

 

The Black Ranger unsheathed his sword and charged towards his former teammates. His blade looked dull-silver and curved, like a samurai sword.

 

Hurricane Black skipped forward and chopped his sword towards Samurai Red’s head. But Samurai Blue stepped in, swung his blade, and blocked the blow. The Blue Samurai Ranger bashed a kick against the Black Power Ranger. But Hurricane Black spun with the blow and slashed across Samurai Blue with a burst of spark that knocked him aside.

 

DECA Shadow dashed from behind and swung his blade towards Hurricane Black’s midsection. Hurricane Black swung his sword to block the blow and slammed a sidekick against the Shadow Ranger, knocking him backward.

 

Hurricane Yellow looked to Hurricane Blue. “What the heck do we do?”

 

Hurricane Blue shook her head.

 

Navy Thunder cursed beneath his breath. “This is the most insane, screwed up…” he mumbled as he charged towards Hurricane Black to attack.

 

The Navy Thunder Ranger leapt straight upward, and then shot downward through a diagonal blur of motion while swinging his staff at the Black Ranger.

 

Hurricane Black used one hand to catch the staff, and used his other hand to slash his sword across Navy Thunder’s chest with a trio of swings, each sparking across the Ranger’s armor. The Black Ranger smashed a kick upside the Navy Thunder Ranger’s head.

 

Nearby, the five core DECA rangers regrouped.

 

“SWAT Mode on!”

 

The DECA Rangers activated their SWAT armor: vests, leg guards, arm guards, headsets, and blaster rifles called D-Revolvers. The five Rangers slid their badges into their D-Revolvers, powering up the weapons.

 

“D-Revolvers!” DECA Red shouted. “Fire!”

 

The DECA Rangers opened fire with rapid pulses of orange-tinted energy.

 

Hurricane Black snapped around and swung his sword faster than sight, swatting the blasts aside with bursts of spark.

 

DECA Break closed in from the side but kept his distance. He armed his Throttle Brace. “Electric Fist!”

 

The Ranger slapped his palm against the ground. Tendrils of electricity lashed from his hand, snaked across the ground, and shot upward towards Hurricane Black.

 

But Hurricane Black shot straight upward to avoid the blast, then dashed downward through a streak of motion past DECA Break while slashing across his armor with a burst of spark, whipping him backward.

 

Samurai Red and Samurai Blue regrouped.

 

“Symbol Discs,” Samurai Red ordered.

 

Samurai Blue spun his Water Disc. “Water Disc. Hydro Splash!”

 

Liquid energy circled around the Blue Ranger’s blade. He swung the sword through a steak of power that hurled a wave of watery energy towards Hurricane Black.

 

Samurai Red spun his Fire Disc. “Fire Disc. Blazing Strike!”

 

Fiery energy twirled around the blade. He swung his sword through a wide arc that hurled a wave of fiery energy towards the Black Ranger.

 

Hurricane Black chopped his sword through streaks of black power that tore through the Samurai Rangers’ energy blades with bursts of power.

 

The Black Ranger thrust his palm forward and hurled a twirling bolt of Shadow Fire that exploded against the Samurai Rangers’ armor and hurled them backward.

 

Samurai Red crashed against the street. The impact knocked him from his armor with a burst of red light. Pain shot through the ranger's body and soul. And Hurricane Black sensed that pain.

 

The Black Ranger lowered his sword at the sight of his friend. “Teddy...” he whispered. “What did I...”

 

Hurricane Black felt Teddy’s sense of betrayal and sorrow. Heartache and emptiness; a clutch of grief around the throat. The teen recently lost someone to darkness. Someone he loved. Now he feared he lost his best friend too. They were like family.

 

Hurricane Black’s senses shifted to Hurricane Blue. The Blue Ranger felt afraid. And guilty. She should have been the heart of the team. She should have helped hold Simon and the others together. But she had let him down. How many people would die because of her carelessness?

 

The Black Ranger sensed Hurricane Yellow. The Yellow Ranger had looked up to Hurricane Red. They were close friends. Comrades. And the Yellow Ranger feared that bond was gone forever.

 

Navy Thunder thought of Rachel and his brother Hunter. The Navy Thunder Ranger feared Simon would become as lost as the Crimson Thunder Ranger.

 

“Guys...” Hurricane Black whispered. “I'm sorry, I can’t-”

 

An overzealous Silver Guardian took advantage of the pause and opened fire with high-yield rounds that sparked across the Black Ranger’s back.

 

Hurricane Black cursed beneath his breath and spun while swinging his sword. His blade fired an energy wave that slashed through the Silver Guardian’s neck.

 

The Black Ranger’s eyes opened wide beneath his helmet at the sight of what he had done. “Damn you!” Hurricane Black shouted to the fallen soldier. “Why?!”

 

“Rush him!” DECA Red shouted as he and the other DECA Rangers charged forward and opened fire with their blasters.

 

Their D-Revolvers fired lances of orange energy that sparked across the Black Ranger’s armor.

 

Hurricane Black twirled his sword and stabbed the blade into the ground with an explosion of wind energy. The shockwave hurled every Ranger and Guardian through the air with wisps of black smoke.

 

The DECA Rangers smashed into the office building. The Hurricane and Samurai Rangers skid across the parking lot alongside toppled SUVs and cars.

 

Hurricane Black crouched downward and leapt from the scene through a blur of shadow, leaving his former friends and teammates behind once again. 

 

***

 

Dr. William “Billy” Cranston deactivated his monitor after watching the battle between Simon and the Rangers. He leaned back and laced his fingers while staring at the blank screen.

 

A young man with bleach-blonde hair sat across the desk from Dr. Cranston. He crossed his arms over his chest. “What do you expect me to do?”

 

“I think you know,” Cranston said. “You fought with him for more than a year. You know how he thinks. This is the perfect job for you.”

 

The former Yellow Gao Ranger, Ryan Connors, shook his head. “The guy I knew was just a kid. What’s happened to him now…I don’t know him anymore.

 

“I need you on this assignment,” Cranston said firmly. He’d chosen Ryan as an individual Black Ops agent after the Mogralord War, commonly called the Second Countdown to Destruction. Ryan lived the life of a soldier even before becoming a Ranger and accepted the responsibility, which involved hunting meta-level threats just below the level requiring Rangers. “Simon’s become too big a risk.”

 

“Don’t you have Rangers for stuff like this?” Ryan asked.

 

“Yes, and you saw what happened to them,” Cranston said.

 

“What makes you think the same thing won’t happen to me?” Ryan asked.

 

“You’re too stubborn to let it,” Cranston said. “And like I said…you fought with him for more than a year. No matter how much he’s changed, that’s still a valuable advantage.” 

 

Ryan didn’t let himself show his annoyance—not more so than usual. He didn’t want to hurt his former comrade. He and Simon never got along that well, but they grew to respect each other.

 

Still…something had happened to the former Red Gao Ranger. And Ryan felt obligated to help.

 

“Alright…” he said. “I’ll do it.”

 

“Good,” Cranston said. “I’ll equip you with Rider Gear. You’ll be on the field within an hour.”

 

To be continued…Chapter 11