Ultimate Samurai: Chapter Thirteen prologue

 

Angel Grove, one week ago

 

Anthony wanted to know what happened to Teddy. They were supposed to have started college together and been roommates. But they barely saw one another. Teddy never even moved into their dorm.

 

So, on one of the rare days Anthony saw Teddy, he followed the teen.

 

Anthony managed to sneak onto the Hayate Way campus and make it all the way into Ops. It didn’t take the teen long to put two and two together.

 

“Huh…” he said as he shook his head with disbelief. “Teddy’s a Ranger.”

 

“Who are you,” a voice demanded from behind.

 

Anthony turned to see Tommy standing at the entrance. “Teddy’s roommate…” he said. “If you can call me that, since he’s never, ya know…actually in the room. At least now I know why.”

 

“What you see here-”

 

“Relax, relax,” Anthony said as he held up his hands in a non-threatening gesture. “This is all Super-Secret Samurai stuff. Got it. Won’t say a word to anyone.” The teen smiled as he looked around the room. “Man…I can’t believe Teddy’s a Ranger…this is awesome.”

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “Awesome? You think this is awesome? Have you taken a look around Angel Grove recently?”

 

“I’m not saying…” Anthony stammered nervously. “I didn’t mean what’s happening is…Listen, I just found out my roommate is a Power Ranger. Cut me some slack.”

 

Tommy sighed. “You need to leave. I’ll tell Teddy you…dropped by...and you two can talk.”

 

“That’s it?” Anthony asked. “You can’t just send me on my way. I can help you guys.”

 

“That’s doubtful,” Tommy said.

 

“Just hear me out…” Anthony said.

 

Chapter 13: Ultimate Samurai

A Golden Moment

 

Teddy walked along the rocky shoreline west of Angel Grove. His thoughts dwelled on Bryce, his boyfriend who turned into the Gedoushuu named Juzou. Juzou claimed Bryce no longer existed. Tommy claimed Bryce couldn’t be saved if he turned into Juzou willingly.

 

Teddy didn’t want to believe either of them. He refused. 

 

The teen rolled his hands into fists. To make matters worse, he’d recently learned his best friend Simon had turned dark. He didn’t understand why. But he was forced to fight Simon, just as he was forced to fight Juzou.

 

Is this what happens to the people I care about?

 

He stopped onto a rocky clearing and waited. “I’m here!” he shouted. “You can come out!”

 

The Vorlock named Lal stepped into the clearing. She smiled wickedly and stalked towards Teddy. “I didn’t think you would come…”

 

“You sent me a challenge,” Teddy said. “I accepted. Now…tell me what happened to Bryce. The truth.”

 

“The truth? Of what happened to him?” she asked. “I’ll tell you the truth. I’ll tell you what happened. My brother, Brai, was honorable. Then one day he met you. The day he let you nurse him back to health was the day he died. You stripped him of his honor. You took him away from my family.”

 

“You sound like you actually care,” Teddy said. “That’s still your brother, inside Juzou.”

 

“You are naive,” Lal said. “Now…I didn’t come here to talk. This was a challenge, remember?”

 

A force field spread across the area with waves of colored light, as if reflected off a bubble.

 

“We will not be interrupted this time,” Lal said.

 

“This is your last chance,” Teddy said. “Tell me what happened to Bryce and you walk. Go through with this duel…and it won’t end well for you.”

 

Lal laughed. “Your anger gives you such confidence. I bet you were never like this when you were younger, were you?”

 

Lal lifted her hands. The dragon rings on her fingers glowed with power. Fire traced across her right hand and forearm. Tendrils of electricity lashed across her left hand and forearm.

 

“Let’s begin,” she said.

 

She hurled a bolt of fire and bolt of lightning. Teddy slapped his right fist against his left palm and formed a Kiryoku barrier that deflected the attacks.

 

The ranger knocked the barrier aside and charged to attack.

 

***

 

“I’m just saying I’m worried,” Ryan said. “That’s all…”

 

“We’re all worried about Teddy,” Anna said. “First Bryce. Now Simon…”

 

“He needs to start keeping better company,” Bradin said.

 

“Um, you kind of just insulted yourself,” Kirsten said. “And the rest of us”

 

He flashed a sideways smile. “We’re the exception.”

 

Kirsten smiled and rolled her eyes.

 

The four rangers walked across a plaza in Angel Grove West. They decided to take a break from training and walk, to discuss the emotional turmoil of their leader.

 

Ryan seemed distracted and kept looking over his shoulder. Anna noticed. “What is it?”

 

“Nothing,” Ryan said. “I think I’m starting to go crazy.”

 

“I won’t argue with that,” Bradin said. “Seriously though, what’s up?”

 

“Either I’m imagining it, or I keep seeing the same guy around, everywhere we go,” Ryan said.

 

Bradin looked back. “You mean like we’re being followed?”

 

Ryan nodded. “I think so.”

 

“Well, we’ve all been under a lot of stress,” Kirsten said. “I’m sure you’re just imagining it.”

 

Ryan sighed. “That doesn’t really make me feel better…”

 

***

 

Anthony blended in with the crowd and watched the four rangers walk into the distance.

 

That was close…he thought. They almost spotted me…

 

He wasn’t ready to meet them. At least not yet. But he would be. Soon.

 

***

 

Teddy pounced at Lal with a series of punches and kicks. He shifted styles to throw her off guard. Dragon. Tiger. Taekwondo. She countered his blows with ease.

 

“You’ve learned from many people,” Lal said.

 

The villain swung her leg through a hook kick across Teddy’s face. The blow whipped him off his feet, and he crashed against the ground. Lal aimed an axe kick towards Teddy’s head. But Teddy rolled aside, and her foot smashed against the ground hard enough to crumble stone.

 

***

 

The rangers’ communicators beeped. They ducked into an alley and opened a comm line. “This is Bradin.”

 

“Guys, Teddy’s fighting a Vorlock at the shore,” Ashley said through the comm. “We think it’s Lal.”

 

“We’re on our way,” Anna said.

 

***

 

Teddy hurled a Kiryoku blast that slammed against Lal. The blow thrust her backward, and she slammed against the energy field before crashing to the ground.

 

The ranger pounced with a flying sidekick.

 

Lal shot to her feet, grabbed Teddy by the leg, and swung him to the ground. Teddy quickly rolled into a crouched position and kicked at Lal’s legs. But she leapt over the blow and fired a burst of electricity.

 

Teddy rolled aside, and the electric blast exploded against the ground.

 

The teen hurled another invisible Ki blast. Lal ducked aside and hurled a bolt of fire, followed by a bolt of lightning. Teddy used his Kiryoku to deflect the blows.

 

“Little tricks,” Lal mocked. “You would fight me with your little magic tricks?”

 

“You’re the one who has toy rings.” 

 

Lal hurled another volley of fire and lightning. This time, Teddy deflected the blasts right back at her. The lightning and fire burst against her chest and hurled her off her feet. She smashed against the force field and crashed against the ground.

 

The villain spat black blood and climbed to her feet. She snapped her fingers—then Anglars leapt from the ground and swarmed around the ranger.

 

Teddy stepped into a defensive stance. “You said this was between you and me.”

 

“I lied,” Lal said. “Villains do that.”

 

Teddy pulled out his morpher.

 

“Samurai scribe! Ha!” Energy wrapped around him as he morphed into his Ranger form.

 

Samurai Red unsheathed his sword and slashed through the grunts that surrounded him. The Anglars attacked as one while swinging clubs and swords of stone. But the Red Ranger parried and dodged their blows. He slashed through intricate patterns that carved through Anglars with bursts of spark.

 

Lal couldn’t help but feel impressed. Slightly.

 

She thrust her hand and fired a bolt of lightning.

 

Samurai Red dove aside and slashed through the lightning with a burst of spark. He rolled across the ground, rose to his feet, and spun his Symbol 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. The energy blade slashed through Anglars with massive bursts of spark that ripped them to pieces, then exploded against Lal and hurled her backward.

 

The shockwave knocked down the energy shield.

 

Lal climbed back to her feet and clutched her injured chest. “You’re strong…but not that strong.”

 

“Feel free to die again anytime,” Samurai Red said.

 

Suddenly, the other four Rangers leapt onto the scene. They immediately noticed the fallen grunts and defeated Lal.

 

“So glad we came…” Samurai Green said sarcastically.

 

“I’d say we’ll meet again,” Lal said with a wicked grin. “But maybe we won’t. Maybe I’m done with you. Maybe I’ll lead my people as far away from you as possible so you’ll never learn the truth. How’s that for revenge?”

 

She swung her hand and grew a wall of fire between herself and the Rangers, and when the flames dissipated, she was gone.

 

Samurai Red tightened his grip on his sword.

 

“She didn’t mean it, Teddy,” Samurai Blue said. “No way she’ll leave you alone.”

 

Samurai Red said nothing.

 

***

 

The sun set by the time Teddy and the others regrouped in the dojo.

 

“I thought you were done playing ‘Teddy: The Super Solo Ranger,’” Bradin said.

 

“That’s not what happened,” Teddy said. “She sent me a challenge. I thought if I met her face-to-face, I could learn the truth about what happened to Bryce and the Vorlock.”

 

“It was obviously a trap,” Bradin said.

 

“Which is why I didn’t tell you,” Teddy said.

 

“Did you learn anything from her?” Ryan asked.

 

“Don’t help him change the subject,” Bradin said.

 

“I didn’t learn anything,” Teddy said to Ryan. “Can we just drop it, please?”

 

“Man, when are you going to get it together?” Bradin snapped.

 

“Bradin…” Kirsten said softly.

 

“No,” Bradin said. “I’m sick of this. Look, I know your life sucks right now, but you can’t keep doing this crazy stuff that’s going to get us all killed!”

 

Teddy turned to face his teammate. “I would never get you killed. Any of you. That’s why I met her challenge alone.”

 

Bradin sighed with frustration and rolled his eyes. “You’re impossible.”

 

Teddy noticed a flicker of shadow pass through the dojo. He narrowed his eyes and summoned his Spin Sword with a burst of flame.

 

“What is it?” Anna asked.

 

“That shadow…” Teddy said. “Didn’t you see it?”

 

The other rangers looked to each other with mixed expressions of confusion and concern. They had seen nothing.

 

Teddy held his sword in a low defensive stance and stalked through the halls. Worried, the other rangers followed.

 

“Teddy, nothing’s here,” Anna said.

 

***

 

shinken-va-isagitsuneAn Ayakashi named Kitsune sat within the bowls of the Gedoushuu ship Rokumonsen. The villain looked through a silver tinted mirror and watched Teddy stalk through the halls of the Hayate Way.

 

The fox-themed monster’s magic allowed him to spy on the ranger through his mind. The teen could likely sense the monster’s presence—and that was part of the fun.

 

Squid-like Shitari wobbled into the room. “Have you learned anything, Kitsune?”

 

“No…” he said. “This one amuses me, but I’ve learned nothing of use to us. It appears they have other enemies, though. Creatures called Vorlock.”

 

“Vorlock?” Shitari asked. “That name is unfamiliar to me.”

 

“To me as well,” Kitsune said.

 

An unseen voice spoke from the shadows. “It’s a name you should learn…”

 

The Gedoushuu snapped around to see Juzou step from the darkness.

 

“Who…” Shitari started to ask.

 

“I am Juzou,” the warrior said.

 

“A Gedoushuu…and something…else…” Shitari said.

 

“I am part mortal, part demon,” Juzou said.

 

“Have you come here to kill us, demon?” Shitari asked. “Xandred fills the lower decks with the skulls of demons who try to overthrow him.”

 

“I have not come to fight you,” Juzou said.

 

“Then why are you here?” Shitari asked.

 

Juzou said nothing.

 

Shitari shifted nervously. Something about the warrior’s presence seemed unnerving.

 

Juzou looked to Kitsune’s mirror. “For now? I am here simply to watch…”

 

***

 

Teddy felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. He sensed a presence watching. Evil. Dark. And now…familiar.

 

He snapped around and swung his sword, nearly slicing Kirsten at the neck. He opened his eyes wide with shock and dropped the blade.

 

“Kirsten!” he said. “I’m sorry, I-”

 

Bradin pushed Teddy to the ground. “Okay, that’s enough. You want to go crazy? Fine, but you’re doing it alone.” He looked to Kirsten and laid his hands on her shoulders. “You okay?”

 

She nodded. “Yeah…it wasn’t as close as it looked.”

 

“No,” Bradin said. “It was closer.” He looked down to Teddy and glared. “No more…”

 

***

 

Teddy breathed heavily as he rushed into a bathroom within the Hayate Way. What the hell’s happening…?

 

He knew he wasn’t going crazy, despite the stress in his life. And yet he felt the presence of someone watching him. He felt paranoid.

 

A shadow briefly flashed across the mirror, and Teddy immediately punched the glass. His knuckles shattered the mirror and bled from the impact.

 

He winced and shook his hand. That was real. I know it. But I’ve got to get a grip…

 

The teen turned on the sink and splashed cold water on his face. The water dripped down his smooth skin and splattered onto his chest. And for that brief moment, he felt no sense of dread. No sense of anyone watching him. No paranoia.

 

He narrowed his eyes and looked into the broken mirror. “What’s happening…?”

 

***

 

Bradin, Ryan, Anna and Kirsten walked along the pier the next morning. They talked about Teddy, who they hadn’t seen since the previous night.

 

“What if he’s not going crazy?” Ryan asked.

                                            

Bradin counted on his fingers. “Seeing things. Hearing things. Nearly killing his own teammates. Running off to fight Lal alone…That’s a full count of crazy.”

 

“Shouldn’t we at least give him the benefit of the doubt and try to figure out what’s going on?” Ryan asked.

 

“Ryan’s right,” Kirsten said. “We can’t give up on him. Not after everything we’ve been through together.”

 

“He almost chopped your head off,” Bradin said.

 

“But he didn’t,” Kirsten said.

 

“But he almost did,” Bradin said. “In what world is that not concerning when it comes to head chopping.”

 

“We should talk to Tommy,” Anna said.

 

“And let him know another one of his Red Rangers is going into psycho mode?” Bradin asked. “Good luck with that.”

 

Ryan narrowed his eyes and subtly glanced over his shoulder. “Guys…you aren’t going to believe this. It’s that guy again.”

 

“Don’t you start too,” Bradin said.

 

“I’m being serious,” Ryan said. “It’s the exact same guy. He has to be following us.”

 

“If you’re right…” Anna started to say. “What if whoever’s following us has something to do with Teddy?”

 

Kirsten nodded. “Maybe he really did sense someone watching us.”

 

Bradin sighed. “I guess I’ll humor you.”

 

***

 

Teddy walked through the woods outside of Angel Grove North and made his way towards the nearby springs. His communicator toned, but he ignored the call. The communicator toned again, but he still didn’t answer.

 

I have to prove I’m not crazy…he thought as he moved into a clearing near a lake. He needed to prove he was right.

 

***

 

The other rangers’ communicators toned, and they moved closer to a nearby building to answer.

 

“This is Bradin,” he answered.

 

“Guys, something’s up,” Tommy said. “I can’t get ahold of Teddy. He’s moving into the shrine north of the city. But he’s not answering his communicator.”

 

Bradin nodded. “He’s been acting a little off lately.”

 

“I’ve noticed,” Tommy said. “And this morning we picked up residual energy readings that we’ve been missing. Something’s been watching him. It may be influencing him in some way.”

 

Ryan arced an eyebrow at Bradin as if to say ‘I told you so.’

 

“We think we might know who’s watching him,” Anna said. “We’ll see what we can do.”

 

They closed the comm. line.

 

“What’s the plan?” Bradin asked.

 

“Let’s have a talk with Ryan’s stalker,” Anna said.

 

The teens moved into the crowd and split up.

 

***

 

Anthony stayed back in the crowds and watched the rangers split up. Huh…I wonder where they’re off to…

 

He walked into the flow of pedestrians and moved towards the spot the teens last stood. He didn’t expect them to suddenly move from within the crowds and surround him.

 

“Hey,” Bradin said with a smooth, confident intimidation. The teen crossed his arms over his chest. “We don’t like being followed.”

 

“Who are you?” Anna asked.

 

Anthony lifted his hands in a non-threatening manner. “It’s not what you think.”

 

“We think you’ve been following us and messing with our friend,” Bradin said. “What are you? Vorlock? Gedoushuu?”

 

“Seriously, chill,” Anthony said. “I was just waiting for the right time so I could make a flashy entrance.”

 

Bradin narrowed his eyes with disbelief. “Flashy what?”

 

“Exactly,” Anthony said as twisted past the rangers and dashed off.

 

The rangers sprinted after him, although Anna hesitated slightly. “Teddy may be in trouble,” she called to others.

 

“We’ll split up,” Bradin shouted back.

 

Bradin and Kirsten kept after Anthony, while Ryan and Anna broke off to find Teddy.

 

***

 

Kitsune watched Teddy through his mirror as Shitari and Juzou stood nearby. The teen stood at a lake in one the city’s springs.

 

“Anything?” Shitari asked.

 

“Not yet,” Kitsune said. “It’s difficult since he is aware of my presence…but nothing can escape my magic eye.”

 

“Don’t underestimate him,” Juzou said.

 

“Don’t underestimate Kitsune,” Shitari said. “He is a master of black arts, versed in 100 spells.”

 

Kitsune watched the ranger use his morpher to draw a symbol of red power. The symbol burst with a cloud of smoke that clouded the mirror’s vision. When the smoke cleared, Teddy was gone.

 

“What happened?” Shitari asked. “We can’t see anything…”

 

“This can’t be...” Kitsune said. And yet his mirror couldn’t find the ranger. “No one escape’s my gaze…I’m going to go look.”

 

***

 

Anna and Ryan walked through the woods near the springs. She noticed Ryan moved across the terrain with a sense of familiarity.

 

“You know this place?” she asked.

 

Ryan nodded. “My dad used to bring me here sometimes when I was a kid. He always told me the springs were sacred.”

 

“Hmm,” Anna said thoughtfully. “I wonder if that’s why Teddy came here.”

 

“I don’t know…” Ryan said as they moved closer to the springs.

 

***

 

Kitsune emerged with a flash of crimson light that bled through a crevice near the lake. He looked around frantically for any sign of the ranger. “There’s no way he broke my reflection spell…”

 

The handheld Lion Origami suddenly swooped through the air and grabbed the mirror from the monster’s hand.

 

“What-”

 

Samurai Red leapt from the lake with a massive splash of water and angled his descent towards the Ayakashi. He landed while slashing the monster with a burst of spark. Twirling his blade, he spun forward and slashed the monster off his feet.

 

Lion Origami tossed the mirror into the Red Ranger’s hand. “Peeping? That’s quite a hobby you have…”

 

The monster cursed beneath his breath. “Damn you…”

 

“Teddy!” a voice shouted from nearby. Samurai Blue ran to the scene alongside Samurai Pink.

 

The two Rangers unsheathed their swords and stepped into fighting stances on the other side of the monster.

 

“He must be the one Teddy sensed at the dojo,” Samurai Pink said.

 

“How…” the monster started to say, but Samurai Red interrupted.

 

“Your presence felt weaker when I splashed myself with water,” Teddy said. “So I tried it again, and again…and the same thing kept happening. It was too consistent. That meant it had to be a spell.”

 

“And water blocked the spell,” Samurai Pink said as she nodded with understanding.

 

Samurai Blue looked to Samurai Red. “That’s why you came here, isn’t it? This water is the purest in the city.”

 

Samurai Red nodded. He tossed the mirror and slashed it in half with a single stroke. The broken pieces fell to the ground and sizzled to dust.

 

“My mirror!” Kitsune shouted. The monster slapped his palms together. “Fox Whirl!”

 

A tornado spun from the villain and swept across the beach, catching Samurai Red, Samurai Blue, and Samurai Pink. The wind lifted the Rangers and spun them upward—until the tornado suddenly stopped.

 

The three Rangers crashed against the beach. They quickly rolled back into crouched fighting stances and armed their swords.

 

“Where are Bradin and Kirsten?” Samurai Red asked.

 

“They’re after this weird college kid,” Samurai Blue said.

 

“College kid?” Samurai Red asked.

 

***

 

Bradin and Kirstin chased after Anthony as fast as they could. They summoned all their strength but couldn’t catch up with the teen.

 

“I should really start considering steroids,” Bradin said between breaths.

 

“That’s not exactly a family friendly message,” Kirsten said.

 

“It’s not like we’re on a kid’s show,” Bradin said.

 

***

 

Samurai Pink flipped open her morpher. “Bradin, Kirsten…”

 

Kitsune pounced and chopped his blade towards Samurai Pink.

 

But Samurai Red dashed forward and swung his sword to block the blow. The Red Ranger’s high block kept the villain’s sword upward while Samurai Blue moved in. The Blue Ranger dashed forward and slashed the monster’s gut with a burst of spark.

 

Samurai Red spun his sword free and slashed the monster with a series of well-placed strikes that sparked on impact.

 

***

 

Bradin and Kirsten turned a corner and stopped in their tracks when they noticed they couldn’t see Anthony.

 

Bradin leaned on his knees and breathed heavily. “I don’t know that kid…but I hate him,” Bradin said.

 

“You hate most people,” Kirsten said.

 

“I know,” Bradin said. “But him especially.”

 

Their communicators toned from Samurai Pink’s call. “Bradin, Kirsten…”

 

They flipped open their morphers to answer. But they could no longer hear Samurai Pink.

 

“Trouble,” Bradin said. 

 

***

 

The Ayakashi slapped his palms together. “Fox Fire Spell!”

 

Flickers of blue fire flew from the monster and swarmed around the three Rangers.

 

The Rangers swung their swords back and forth, slashing through the fire to dissipate the flames.

 

Samurai Red slashed through the last blue flame and charged towards the Ayakashi.

 

The monster slapped his palms together. “Fox Throwing Stones!”

 

The ground erupted into explosions that hurled chunks of dirt and pebbles across the Ranger’s path. But Samurai Red pressed forward with his sword held at the ready.

 

Another volley of dirt and earth hurled at the Red Ranger and smashed against his body. This time the barrage knocked him from his feet just as he lunged forward with a chop aimed towards the monster. Samurai Red collapsed onto all fours and struggled to keep from collapsing completely.

 

Kitsune laughed as he stalked towards the fallen Ranger. “You’ve been under my spell for days…Your body and mind are exhausted.”

 

The monster shifted his grip on his sword.

 

“Die!” The Ayakashi lifted his blade to chop at the Red Ranger.

 

Suddenly, Samurai Green and Samurai Yellow leapt through the air and slashed the monster backward with bursts of spark. The two Rangers landed in defensive stances and stood between their leader and Kitsune.

 

“Sorry we’re late,” Samurai Green said as the five Rangers regrouped.

 

“Symbol Discs,” Samurai Red said.

 

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 Ayakashi slapped his palms together. “Fox Technique Reversal!”

 

A black vortex opened and swallowed the energy blades. Another vortex opened behind the Rangers. The elemental waves shot forth and slashed them with bursts of spark that hurled them off their feet.

 

“Copy-cat Fox!” The Ayakashi swung his sword through five streaks, and each strike hurled an elemental energy blade.

 

The energy blades exploded around the fallen Rangers with bursts of spark that hurled them backward. They crashed against the ground hard enough to knock out of their armor.

 

The Ayakashi laughed with pride. “I have more than 100 spells! Which technique would you like to taste next?”

 

Explosions suddenly sparked against the monster, catching him off guard. He looked aside to see Anthony standing with several strips of paper. Kanji symbol spells marked each piece of paper.

 

“Gedoushuu…” Anthony said. “Your opponent is me…”

 

Bradin narrowed his eyes with recognition. That guy?”

 

Anthony smirked. “I told you I’d make a flashy entrance.”

 

He pulled a morpher from behind his back. The morpher looked similar to a standard Samurai morpher, but more digital, including a keypad.

 

“Samurai scribe!” He flipped open the morpher and punched in numerical codes. “Ha!”

 

His morpher projected the golden kanji for “light” in midair. The energy symbol flashed and wrapped around him as he morphed into Samurai Gold. 

 

“Blade of the Light!” the newcomer shouted. “Samurai Gold!”

 

The other rangers watched the transformation in shock.

 

“Who is that guy?” Bradin asked.

 

The Gold Ranger leapt through the air and landed between the Rangers and monster. He stepped into a crouched fighting stance and gripped the handle of his weapon, holstered on the back of his belt.

 

The Ayakashi snorted dismissively. “What a weak stance…I see seven openings. Nanashi!”

 

Nanashi grunts emerged from the ground and charged towards the Gold Ranger.

 

“Barracuda Blade!” Samurai Gold unsheathed his tanto blade. He held the weapon in his right hand with a reverse grip. He held the holster in his left hand with a reverse grip.

 

The Nanashi closed in, and Samurai Gold dashed through their lines. He swung his blade through streaks of golden energy. The blows hacked Nanashi left and right with bursts of spark as the Gold Ranger advanced, step-by-step, through the enemy lines.

 

He swung his holster to parry the grunts’ swords, and he hacked his blade through their bodies with bursts of spark.

 

Samurai Gold spun past the last grunt while slashing through him with a streak of golden light.

 

The Gold Ranger holstered his weapon just as the fallen grunts exploded into flame.

 

Nearby, the other rangers climbed slowly back to their feet.

 

“Seriously,” Bradin said. “If somebody doesn’t tell me who that guy is, I’m going to scream.”

 

Nanashi launched a volley of arrows from the trees nearby.

 

Samurai Gold turned and swung his blade through streaks of golden light that slashed through the arrows with bursts of spark. The snapped arrows fell harmlessly to the ground.

 

“From the trees this time?” Samurai Gold said. “No problem…”

 

The Gold Ranger leapt through the air and landed in the midst of the Nanashi. He unsheathed his blade and slashed through the grunts with bursts of spark.

 

The soldiers scrambled to regroup and attack. But Samurai Gold kept them off guard with a flurry of blows as he moved back and forth through their ranks, striking with each step.

 

Samurai Gold leapt against the side of a tree. He pushed off and shot through a group of grunts with a powerful slash that tore through their bodies with bursts of spark.

 

Samurai Gold spun while slashing through a group of grunts. He swung upward through the last grunt. The blow whipped the Nanashi through the air as its body burst into sparks.

 

The fallen soldier dropped to the ground just as Samurai Gold sheathed his blade.

 

Kitsune suddenly leapt through the air and chopped his blade at the Gold Ranger. Samurai Gold dodged and swung his blade through backhand swings to parry the trio of strikes that followed.

 

The Ayakashi swung a powerful blow that crashed against Samurai Gold’s blade and knocked him backward. But the Gold Ranger managed to stay on his feet.

 

The Ayakashi slapped his palms together. “Three legged crow of myth!”

 

Crows of black energy flew from the monster’s body and swarmed around Samurai Gold with bursts of spark.

 

Nearby, Teddy pulled out his morpher and leapt through the air while transforming into his armor.

 

The Red Ranger swung his sword to create a wave of fire that splashed across the energy crows and monster. The impact knocked the Ayakashi off his feet.

 

Samurai Red landed next to Samurai Gold.

 

The Gold Ranger sheathed his short blade. “Not bad.”

 

“We’re going to need to talk…” Samurai Red said. 

 

Kitsune groaned with annoyance as he climbed back to his feet.

 

Samurai Gold pulled a Symbol Disc from his belt buckler and slid the disc against his blade’s hilt.

 

“Light Disc!” He spun the disc. “Golden Flash!”

 

Samurai Gold dashed and leapt back and forth across the monster while slashing through streaks of golden light. His blade pulsed with power that tore through the monster and hurled him backward.

 

Kitsune crashed against the ground and exploded into bursts of flame.

 

Samurai Gold sheathed his blade and looked over his shoulder to Samurai Red. “Not bad, right?”

 

Suddenly, the fallen monster surged with energy and grew giant with a thundering boom.

 

“We’ll talk later,” Samurai Red said as he pulled out his Lion Origami.

 

The other teens pulled out their morphers.

 

“Samurai scribe! Ha!” They morphed into their armor with waves of light.

 

The core five Rangers placed their Origami onto 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!”

 

zzzSamurai Red armed the Tiger Disc, Samurai Blue armed the Shark Disc, and Samurai Green armed their newest disc, the Beetle Disc. They swiped the discs.

 

“Tiger Origami!”

 

“Swordfish Origami!”

 

“Beetle Origami!”

 

Together, they shouted: “Battlewing, assemble!”

 

The Tiger, Swordfish, and Beetle combined to formed a winged zord called the Samurai Battlewing.

 

Battlewing, equip!” the Rangers shouted.

 

The Samurai Battlewing slid into position on the Megazord to form a suit of armor. The wings slid into position on the Megazord’s back, and two of the tiger drills locked into position on the Megazord’s midsection.

 

Battlewing Megazord!” the Rangers shouted. “Tenku Shinkenou!”

 

The Ayakashi slapped his palms together. “Fox Concealment Technique!”

 

Kitsune blurred from sight.

 

“Did he run?” Samurai Yellow asked.

 

Bursts of spark slammed against the Megazord’s back, knocking the robo forward.

 

“He didn’t run,” Samurai Blue said. “He’s invisible!”

 

The unseen monster dashed around the Megazord. The villain slashed the zord with bursts of spark the Rangers couldn’t see coming. The Megazord shifted its blade into defensive stances but never managed to parry or deflect the attacks.

 

Below, Samurai Gold armed his morpher. “Okay…” he said with determination. “Here we go…You’ve been seeing stuff like this for a decade. You can do this.”

 

The Gold Ranger armed a Symbol Disc on his morpher. He dialed a code into the morpher, which projected a kanji of golden power.

 

shinken-og-ikaorigamiOctozord!” he shouted. “Rise up!” The purple-tinted, white-armored Octozord arose in midair near the battle.

 

The Gold Ranger leapt into his cockpit. Samurai Gold slid his Baracuda Blade into the control console and attached his Symbol Disc to the weapon’s hilt.

 

“He has an Origami too?” Samurai Blue said.

 

“It’s a squid?” Samurai Green said as he shook his head.

 

The Gold Ranger held his hand over his control console. Octozord! Ink cloud!”

 

The zord fired a black cloud of ink that spread through the air. The cloud flowed across the monster, making his form visible.

 

“There you are!” Samurai Gold shouted.

 

The Octozord used two tentacles to lash onto the monster’s head. The zord’s other tentacles whipped the monster with bursts of spark. Kitsune stumbled but kept his balance.

 

Octozord released its grasp and used all its tentacles to bash the monster. The impact knocked the Ayakashi off his feet, and he smashed against the ground.

 

“Now’s our chance.” Samurai Red pulled his sword from his control console. He spun his Symbol Disc, which flashed with energy.

 

Battlewing Megazord!” the Rangers shouted. “Descending strike!”

 

The Megazord shot into the air. The battlewing pulsed with power that washed across the Samurai Megazord Saber until the blade glowed white hot.

 

The Megazord dashed downward and landed while chopping through Kitsune with massive bursts of spark. The monster’s body split in half and incinerated with a massive flash of white-hot flame.

 

***

 

The Rangers leapt to the ground and de-morphed. They looked to Anthony with great curiosity and confusion.

 

“Seriously, who are you?” Bradin asked.

 

“His name’s Anthony,” Teddy said. “He’s my roommate.”

 

“Roommate?” Ryan asked.

 

Anthony flashed a smile. “That’s not entirely true.” He looked to Teddy. “In order for you to call yourself that, you have to actually move into the room…”

 

“What’s going on, Anthony?” Teddy said.

 

“Isn’t it obvious?” Anthony asked. His smile beamed with pride. “I’m the new Gold Ranger.”

 

***

 

Juzou watched the teens from the treetops nearby. In his human form, he tightened his grip on his blade as unexpected rage coursed through his veins. 

 

The demon glared at the newest ranger, and then shifted his gaze to Teddy. “No…” he whispered. “You will not know happiness. Happiness is a distraction. You will know one thing, and one thing only: The taste of my blade.”

 

To be continued…Chapter 14